More awesome free fiction to read elsewhere

Paul Raven @ 02-09-2010

Have you read Lavie Tidhar’s “In Pacmandu” yet? Well, why the hell not? It was published yesterday, and it is short, sharp and awesome, not to mention packed with computer game culture references – geek crack, in other words. So go smoke a rock, right now.

If you have read Lavie’s story, then perhaps you’re hungry for more brainfood… and the fictional pickings are particularly rich right now. Not only is the latest issue of Clarkesworld waiting for your attention (complete with gorgeous cover art), but everyone’s favourite mad professor Rudy Rucker has just released another issue of peripatetic weird sci-fi zine Flurb, which includes such luminaries as Madeline Ashby, Annalee “io9” Newitz, Chairman Bruce Sterling, ubercharming eccentric Ian Watson, John Shirley and (naturellement!) Rucker himself. There’s now ten issues of Flurb, all archived up and freely available to read, so tuck in. That should keep you busy for a week or two.

Now, if you like a little non-fiction on the side (and who doesn’t, right?) then you should check out Salon Futura, Cheryl Morgan’s new webzine devoted to the discussion and dissection of speculative fiction in all its guises. We can expect some excellent critical work to emerge there in months to come, but right now you can watch video interviews with the charming China Mieville and the lovely Lauren Beukes (two very Zeitgeisty novelists, and well worth your time).

(Like Futurismic, Salon Futura and Clarkesworld are free to read, but they pay their contributors… so if you enjoy what you find there, please consider dropping ’em a donation.)

And finally, a non-free fiction offering: the Neal Stephenson-piloted Mongoliad project (which we mentioned a while back) is now up and running, waiting for you to subscribe… and even caped copyleft crusader Cory Doctorow reckons it’s an impressive offer for the price:

It’s an epic fantasy novel about the Mongol conquest, told in installment form, with lots of supplementary material (video, stills, short fiction, etc), and a strong audience participation component in the form of a Wikipedia-style concordance, fanfic, etc. You can read the free samples without registration, but you need an account to edit the “Pedia.”

For $5.99 you get a six-month subscription to the main body of fiction; $9.99 gets you a year (you retain access to the fiction after your subscription expires, but don’t get any new material until you renew, which is a major plus in my view — much fairer than most online “subscriptions” that lock you out once you let your sub lapse).

The first (paid) chapter went up yesterday, and I’ve just read it. The word here is epic, a swashbuckling swordplay novel with the sweep, charm and verve of the major Stephenson epics, such as System of the World. A very strong start and well worth the price of admission. This is a great experiment in new fiction business-models that welcome audience participation and work in a way that is native to the net.

I doubt I’ll be the only person (webzine editor or otherwise) who’ll be watching closely to see how that business model pans out.

So get yourself along and do some reading! But do pop back here for more near-future archaeology and speculative ruminations of the random kind, won’t you? 🙂


Go read (or listen to) Brenda Cooper’s story at Clarkesworld

Paul Raven @ 16-06-2010

Hey, it’s hump day – you should probably reward yourself for surviving to the half-way point of the week. So why not celebrate with some new fiction to read?

Brenda Cooper, who writes the Today’s Tomorrows column here at Futurismic, has a story in the latest issue of the excellent Clarkesworld online zine; it’s called “My father’s Singularity”, and you should go and read it. If you’re too busy (yeah, right), there’s an audio option as well, so no excuses.


A sci-fi rock’n’roll odyssey at Clarkesworld

Paul Raven @ 02-06-2010

Long-term readers of this here site are probably aware that my other huge cultural obsession (besides science fiction literature, natch) is rock music, and that I’ve spent some amount of time in the last few years on drawing comparisons and connections between the two scenes.

So imagine my joy (if you will) when I saw that this month’s issue of Clarkesworld contains an article by Jason Heller that traces the history of science fictional futurism and narrative through the canon of rock music since Bowie’s “Space Oddity”! And better still (because this is the multimedia information super-content-highway-tubes, kids) it’s full of embedded video so you can actually hear and see what he’s on about.

Not for the first time (though almost always at moments when I have more than enough pressing demands on my time), I find myself thinking that there’s enough scope for me to write a non-fiction book on the cross-pollination of sf/f/h and rock music… anyone want to crowdfund me to spend a year on that? Maybe Heller would like to co-write… *opens email client*


Neuroscience fiction: what do we really know about the mind?

Paul Raven @ 08-03-2010

In case you don’t follow Clarkesworld Magazine already (and you really should do, because they’re one of the finest genre fiction webzines about, managing to pay pro rates for about five times as much material as this humble organ every month, and still delivering it to you for free), you might have missed Luc Reid’s essay that went up earlier this month – and it’s time you amended that situation. Neuroscience Fiction and Neuroscience Fantasy” looks at the leading edge of neuroscientific research and refers back to some of the more common mind-related science fiction tropes – like mind control, brain uploading, or memory replay and editing – in order to show how likely they are to ever come true. [image via Hljod.Huskona]

Understanding these things about memory — that we extract details instead of making recordings, that memories are stored in fragments all across our brains, and that a lot of what seems to be memory is really our brains filling in the blanks — it becomes clear that we’ll never be able to download or view memories per se: that would be like trying to show a film when all you have is a capsule review. However, it might be possible eventually to view someone’s imperfect recollection of a memory, along with other thoughts they have.

Well-researched and clearly written, it even has a list of references at the bottom! It’s a great overview of the topic from the layman’s perspective… even if it does debunk a lot of our favourite sf-nal tropes. 🙂


Clarkesworld reopens to fiction submissions

Paul Raven @ 15-01-2009

Cover art for Clarkesworld Magazine #28Via their newly-hired non-fiction editor Cheryl Morgan comes news that the consistently excellent Clarkesworld Magazine is once again open to fiction submissions.

If you don’t read Clarkesworld already, you really should do; it’s one of the sites that I hold up as an exemplar of quality fiction on the web, and they set a high bar to measure up against. And all at no cost to you, the reader – so drop in a donation or buy a physical copy while you’re there, why don’t ya?