Microsoft Kinect: The Call of the Womb

Jonathan McCalmont @ 30-06-2010

Blasphemous Geometries by Jonathan McCalmont

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I have never been to the festival of hubris and chest-thumping that is the American video games industry’s yearly trade-fair E3 (a.k.a. ‘E Cubed’, a.k.a. ‘Electronic Entertainment Expo’), but the mere thought of it makes me feel somewhat ill. A friend of mine once attended a video game trade fair in Japan. He returned not with talk of games, but of the dozens of overweight middle-aged men who practically came to blows as they jostled for the best angle from which to take up-skirt photographs of the models manning the various booths.

As disturbing and sleazy as this might well sound, it still manages to cast Japanese trade shows in a considerably better light than a lot of the coverage that came out of E3. Every so often, an event or an article will prompt the collection of sick-souled outcasts known as ‘video game journalists’ into a fit of ethical navel-gazing: are their reviews too soft? are their editorial processes too open to commercial pressures? do they allow their fannishness to override their professional integrity? Oddly enough, these periodic bouts of hand-wringing never coincide with E3.

E3 is a principles-free zone as far as video game reporting is concerned: Journalists travel from all over the world to sit in huge conference halls where they are patronised to within an inch of their wretched lives by people from the PR departments of Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. At a time when cynicism and critical thinking might allow a decent writer to cut through the bullshit and provide some insights into the direction the industry is taking, most games writers choose instead to recycle press releases and gush about games that are usually indistinguishable from the disappointing batch of warmed-over ideas dished out the previous year. At least the creepy Japanese guys had an excuse for wandering around a trade fair doused in sweat and sporting huge hard-ons.

Microsoft Kinect with Xbox 360

Continue reading “Microsoft Kinect: The Call of the Womb”


Hairy goo invading from the Arctic

Tom James @ 16-07-2009

mysteryAhem. A mysterious browny-black goo with hair in it is drifting southward from the Arctic:

Something big and strange is floating through the Chukchi Sea between Wainwright and Barrow.

Hunters from Wainwright first started noticing the stuff sometime probably early last week. It’s thick and dark and “gooey” and is drifting for miles in the cold Arctic waters, according to Gordon Brower with the North Slope Borough’s Planning and Community Services Department.

Brower and other borough officials, joined by the U.S. Coast Guard, flew out to Wainwright to investigate. The agencies found “globs” of the stuff floating miles offshore Friday and collected samples for testing.

“It’s definitely, by the smell and the makeup of it, it’s some sort of naturally occurring organic or otherwise marine organism.”

Very weird. Cthulhu spawning? Cosy catastrophe? The blob? The larval stage of the World Tree?

[from abn news, via Blood & Treasure][image from Margaret Anne Clarke on flickr]


Ballard’s ‘last’ story actually published in Interzone in nineties

Paul Raven @ 27-04-2009

You’ve probably seen countless links already to The Dying Fall“, J G Ballard’s last short story, as published in The Guardian over the weekend.

What you might not have seen (and for which we can thank Warren Ellis for spreading) is that, while “The Dying Fall” is indeed Ballard’s last known piece of short fiction, The Guardian haven’t plucked it from the papers left on his desk in his last days; it was in fact originally published in long-running UK sf magazine Interzone in 1996.


J G Ballard – 15th November 1930 to 19th April 2009

Paul Raven @ 20-04-2009

J G BallardAs you’ve probably already heard elsewhere, legendary New Wave sf author J G Ballard died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. There’s a decent obituary at the Daily Telegraph, and Jeff VanderMeer has posted an appreciation of the man at the Amazon Omnivoracious blog. [image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Regular readers may have noticed that I very rarely mark the passing of famous writers here at Futurismic, principally because I feel it would be crass to do so when I don’t really have much to say about them; I’m poorly read in the classics of the genre, and such things are better left to those closer to a writer’s oeuvre.

Ballard, however, is one of the giants of the scene with whose work I am fairly familiar, and whose work also played a large part in shaping the way I see things – in science fiction, and in reality as well. Comments and blog posts describing him as a sort of prophet are appearing in great number, and allowing for the hyperbole that such occasions tend to provoke, I think that’s a fair comment. Alongside Philip K Dick, whose style and approach was admittedly very different, Ballard was writing the world we now live in… half a century ago.

A very smart man, and – as VanderMeer puts it – a truly fearless writer. My world feels a little smaller for his absence.