When it comes to gender balanced science fiction, small and international market producers have been killing mainstream networks and studios. At least, in my view, Netflix hit it out of the ballpark with Jessica Jones as Canada’s Bell Media did with Orphan Black. On the other side of the spectrum, we have major network and studio productions, like Supergirl and Ghostbusters. Which will Wonder Woman be? I’ve been a bit nervous about it, but this looks like it could be the real deal:
One of the reasons we read science fiction is to find out what happens next. My favorite science fiction sub-genre is near future, precisely because I want someone to tell me what to expect a decade from now, a year from now, a month from now. Half the fun is discovering the future through speculative fiction. The other half is watching it come true.
We may not have our bubble cities or flying cars, but one science fiction milestone, the decline of coal from the winner’s circle, may have finally arrived. According to the US Energy Information Administration, 2016 is the year coal stopped being America’s leading energy source. King Coal’s replacement: Natural gas, which (as steampunk fans know) burns more cleanly and has long been predicted to be the “transition fuel” that will eventually give way to totally clean energy, like wind and solar. As of this year, that milestone has been reached. And it didn’t take long for coal to lag far behind. April saw natural gas producing 39% more energy than coal. No doubt that gap will fluctuate in the coming months, but coal is unlikely to regain the lead.
The next energy generation method to surpass coal? Nuclear. But, despite how it looks on the chart, that’s probably not going to happen this summer. Nuclear power hasn’t grown in over a decade and coal always recovers during the summer months (all that air conditioning creates demand). But at its current rate, coal could plummet into third place as soon as this fall, certainly by spring (2017).
On the other side of the spectrum, we have our newest forms of energy, wind and solar. It may not look it, but wind as been growing by leaps and bounds. Deselect the heavy-hitters on the above chart (coal, natural gas, and nuclear) and you’ll notice that wind is close to surpassing hydroelectric power on its way to the top. I expect that to happen by 2017 or 2018 at the latest.
And don’t be fooled by the modest squiggle representing solar energy. Ray Kurzweil says it will be the dominant form of energy generation within a dozen years. Make sure to work that into your short stories, budding sci-fi writers.
Some of our more popular posts included videos of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield explaining how water behaves when being wrung out from a washcloth in space, or demonstrating how to drink coffee in a microgravity environment. This, by far, surpasses even those kick-ass productions. Mr. Hadfield, you are our hero.
EDIT: This post originally appeared on May 13, 2013. It seems a fitting tribute to repost this, today.
Okay, Ceres isn’t actually a planet, but a dwarf planet. Still, that’s nothing to sneeze at. Pluto is a dwarf planet, and we still know about it. So why did we not learn about Ceres? Oh, sure, you may argue that Pluto is 14 times more massive than Ceres (and you’d be right), but there is one reason to believe the solar system’s smallest dwarf planet might be the most exciting one:
It’s a water planet.
Scientists believe Ceres contains rock in its interior with a thick mantle of ice that, if melted, would amount to more fresh water than is present on all of Earth. The materials making up Ceres likely date from the first few million years of our solar system’s existence and accumulated before the planets formed.
Not only that, but geysers on Ceres appear to be erupting water into space, where the liquid sublimates into ice, possibly resulting in snow (which explains the white spots in the above image). Yes, that’s right, we may have our own mini-Hoth in the sol system. All we need now is to genetically engineer some tauntauns, and we’re ready for colonization.
Time to give out some more books! For our Pretender contest we had 81 re-tweets and 25 blog comments. Here are our 5 lucky winners:
Congrats to our winners! If you are one of our prize winners please send us your full name and snail-mail address to email@example.com so we can send your prize right away. Be sure to mention Pretender: Saving Luke in your email so we know which prize you’re claiming.
Our thanks to Steven and Craig and everyone at The Centre Universe for the great contest and prizes and to everyone who participated! We’ll be back with another giveaway soon come on back!
Today we’re happy to announce the addition of the David Gemmell Awards to the Worlds Without End database! The two awards, established in memory of fantasy author David Gemmell, consist of the Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novel in the traditional, heroic, epic or high fantasy genres, and the Morningstar Award for best such first novel by a new author.
This is one of our first attempts at adding lesser known awards that nevertheless highlight very good talent. The Gemmell Awards are only eight years old, but have already added novel material to our database. As one perusal of the lists will show you, their list includes novels that have not received recognition from the major awards, and may take you down a path you never knew existed.
It’s been a while since we added some new awards to our database. To be honest, we had a few that were higher up on our list (and they are still coming!), but, when we realized that many of our members had already added the novels that this list requires, we realized we had a quick win on our hands. Let us know what you think of this new addition and don’t forget to check your reading stats page to see how you fare for this award. We just got the last dozen or so books for the award added to the site so you may have some tagging to do. Get to reading!
Michael Straczynski (World War Z, Thor, Babylon 5) has acquired the rights to Harlan Ellison‘s now classic short story, “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman (originally published in a 1965 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction, and more recently in this Kindle compendium of classic science fiction). Meredith Woerner, at io9, summarizes the plot:
The beautiful and complex story, “‘Repent Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” is set in a dystopian future where time is a highly regulated. Being late is a serious crime. If you abuse your time the Ticktockman will find you, “turn you off,” and you die. The short story itself starts in the middle and leaps from the beginning and end throughout the plot. It’s really a wonderful bit of work that has been widely praised as an astounding work of science fiction. And now, Straczynski has acquired the rights to this story from Ellison.
Because Ellison has been famously reticent to work with Hollywood, after all of his run ins with the industry, the optioning of this script comes as quite a surprise. Deadline’s Mike Fleming unravels the mystery:
How did Straczynski do it? He had to deliver a finished screenplay to Ellison, whose credits range from The Outer Limits and Star Trek to being acknowledged in many sci-fi works including James Cameron’s The Terminator, and serving as a Babylon 5 consultant. Only then did Ellison grant the option.
Now, JMS certainly knows what he’s doing (I mean, he’s written tons of screenplays for successful films) but I do wonder about the lack of tension in this story translating to the big screen. To me, a story like “Repent,” has what I think of a 1984 problem. The concept is amazing and transformative, but the stuff that actually happens in the story is less memorable than the premise. To put it another way: I think of this (and many of Ellison’s stories) as brief little jaunts into worlds, and once the point has been made, the story ends. This is the strength of short fiction, and also the reason why movie-length versions of Twilight Zone-esque plot-twisters can get a little trying. (Repent, Shyamalan!)
I have to say, how this story makes it to the silver screen is beyond me, as well. If Jackson gets the nod, will he stretch this short story out the way he did The Hobbit? Will Mr. Ellison allow that?
Oh, and whatever you do with this story, Mr. Straczynski, don’t call it science fiction!