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INTERVIEWS

Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century

Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops Series

John Brown John, translator of the Zamonia Novels

Jim C. Hines author of Libriomancer

Nick Harkaway author of Angelmaker (review here)

Martha Wells author of The Cloud Roads

David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

Mazarkis Williams author of The Emperor's Knife

Rob Ziegler author of Seed

Steven Gould author of 7th Sigma

Douglas Hulick author of Among Thieves (review here)

Mark Charan Newton author of Nights of Villjamur (review here)

Kameron Hurley author of God's War (review here)

Brent Weeks author of The Black Prism (review here)

Anthony Huso author of The Last Page (review here)

Brandon Sanderson author of The Way of Kings (review here)

Lou Anders Editor of Pyr Books

Ian Tregillis author of Bitter Seeds (review here)

Sam Sykes author of Tome of the Undergates (review here)

Benjamin Parzybok author of Couch (review here)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch author of Diving Into the Wreck (review here)

Ken Scholes author of Lamentation

Cherie Priest author of Boneshaker (review here)

Lev Grossman author of The Magicians (review here)

Character Interviews

Alexia and Lord Maccon from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Eva Forge from Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin

Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded

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GROUP THINK | What is one device from a Science Fiction novel (or film) you wish were real?

What is Science? At its most general it is the search for an answer to a question. Put a little more eloquently it is the quest to solve mysteries or make dreams come true. Many innovator's claim their dreams lead them in a certain direction for a device, equation, or theory. Many writers claim flashes of stories come to them in dreams. But whether it be a dream that leads to a story or my damn hover car they are all things that could be. This all leads me to a question, which recently came to me. If I could have any device from a Science Fiction novel or film what would it be? I than asked the same question to more than a dozen writer.

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I'd nominate the "Gizmo," from Damon Knight's 1959 novel A for Anything (also published under the title The People Maker). Basically, the Gizmo duplicates anything you can attach to it -- money, food, fuel, the Mona Lisa, the Staten Island Ferry... Knight argues that the existence of such a device would lead to a rigidly stratified, dystopian society. This is the kind of head-spinning extrapolation that makes science fiction such fun to read. So maybe the Gizmo would be a bad thing. But I don't care. I want one -- don't you?

Robert Charles Wilson is the author of more than a dozen science fiction novels, including Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America and the Hugo Award winning Spin and the just released Vortex.

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I think what I’d really like is one of those wristwatches that make time stop for everyone else except me, like in that Twilight Zone episode. Just, you know, to get stuff done. Not for any nefarious purposes, as in Nicholson Baker’s The Fermata.

Dan Abnett is a novelist and award-winning comic book writer. He has written almost forty novels. His latest Horus Heresy book Prospero Burns was a New York Times bestseller, and topped the SF charts in the UK and the US. He lives and works in Maidstone, Kent. Dan’s blog and website can be found www.danabnett.com Follow him on Twitter @VincentAbnett.


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I wish that the biologic programs of David Louis Edelman's Jump 225 trilogy were real. The world presented in Infoquake, Multireal and Geosynchron is one in which small software companies called fiefcorps compete to sell you the software programs that run the hardware threaded through your body. They have what we'd call apps today to do everything from monitor your cholesterol to change your eye color to helping you keep a poker face in business dealings. I'd love that kind of total control over my own mind, for attention and discipline to come with the push of a button, for skillsets in a download. I'd like to be able to take it one step further and splinter off subroutines of my own brain to assign to different tasks. So one version of Lou could be answering this question while another is catching up on Game of Thrones and a third is reading that manuscript that came in so late and a fourth is off working on a novel. We could integrate all our memories at night and re-splinter the next morning. Can't wait for that.

Lou Anders, a four-time Hugo Award nominated editorial director of Pyr Books and the editor/co-editor of such anthologies as Masked, Live Without a Net, and Swords & Dark Magic, which was just got nominated for the Locus Award.

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Isaac Asimov's Prime Radiant and psychohistory -- the science of predicting the behaviour of large human populations and historical forces by using mathematics. Prime Radiant is the physical embodiment of psychohistory: a sort of projector with a psychic interface that the Second Foundation masterminds use to surf the sea of Hari Seldon's psychohistorical equations. Kind of like a magical blackboard for doing hyper-advanced mathematics.

I wanted a Prime Radiant very badly at the age of ten. I fell in love with the idea that there was mathematical structure in human behaviour and that scientists could manipulate it -- if they only knew the right math. I even made some attempts to write down psychohistory mathematics based on what I could glean from Asimov's wonderful descriptions. At the time I somehow had the notion that all technology described in science fiction was ultimately feasible and the authors knew *exactly* how it would work -- they just weren't writing it all down...

Psychohistory had a lasting effect on me and probably contributed quite a bit to the fact that I eventually went on to study mathematics. Now that I've had some exposure to how difficult it actually is to capture the behaviour of complex systems like economies, societies and autonomous decision-making agents mathematically, I want Asimov's invention to be real more than ever. We need psychohistory very badly.

Hannu Rajaniemi is the author of The Quantum Thief and its forthcoming sequel The Fractal Prince.  He can be found on twitter @Hannu.


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Having reached the age of 50 and therefore seen close family and friends dying all around me and in consequence becoming much more aware of my own mortality too, I wish all the life extending medical technologies found in just about every SF book were real. The first thing to spring to mind is the creature that drops on the head of the protagonist in F Paul Wilson’s The Healer, but that is a creature and not a device. I’d like my own version of that, the little doctor from my short story Always With You, to be current technology. This is a mycelium that grows throughout the body and acts as a constant internal doctor, snipping cancers in the bud, repairing cell damage, quickly knitting together broken bones, sealing leaking blood vessels and generally turning a human being into something nigh indestructible.

Beyond this I’d also like my memplants to be available – similar devices can be found in many books including Richard Morgan’s SF where they are implanted in the back of the neck. These would keep a constant recording of the mind which could, should the body be catastrophically damaged, be loaded to a new clone body or maybe a rugged and strong Golem chassis. In essence: screw the promised gravity boots, antigravity cars, personal house-cleaning robots and vacations on Mars, I don’t want to die.

Neal Asher is the author of numerous Science Fiction books including The Skinner and the just released The Departure, which is set apart from his other novels.  He can be found at his blog or twitter @nealasher.


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The holodeck from Star Trek TNG. Here is what I would do: I would have the holodeck simulate a holodeck, and then have that holodeck simulate another holodeck, a simulation-in-a-simulation-in-a-simulation, and so on, as deep as it would go. How far do you think it could go? 100 levels deep? 1,000,000? Wouldn't each level get a little less detailed? A little more degraded? What would that 1,000,000th level look like? Or the trillionth? Would the world look all chunky and pixelated? Like reality was designed for the Atari 2600? Maybe this is a question that is actually just computer science: can a computer simulate itself an indefinite number of times without some kind of loss of, uh, something? Is that a software question or a hardware question, or both, or neither? See, this is where my ignorance shows: I don't even know if my questions make sense.

Or how about this: the holodeck doesn't keep simulating all the way down. Instead, this is what I do with it: I have the holodeck simulate a situation where we have a holodeck and we are using it. So, if you're keeping score, we're in a second-level simulation. Now, in the second-level simulation, the scenario is that the holodeck creating our simulation (that is, the first-level holodeck) has broken down and now we are stuck inside our simulation. Can a holodeck simulate that it is broken?

Now I really have no idea if this makes sense. This is why I can't be trusted with technology. Can I change my answer? I want a light saber. A blue one. That's much simpler.

Charles Yu received the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 Award for his story collection Third Class Superhero and is the author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. He can also be found on twitter @charlesyu.

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I would love to abuse the "Better Than Life" virtual video game console that is in the book Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor (as well as in the television show and subsequent books). The fully immersive game allows players to indulge in their most narcisstic, subconcious fantasies. And while I am aware that my real body would be slowly rotting away while I was busy playing BTL, who's to say that I'm not already stuck in a realistic video game right now? Right? So, wrap your mind around that!

Daniel H. Wilson is the author of seven books, including the instant best-seller Robopocalypse and How to Survice a Robot Uprising. He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and earned a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Tulsa. After earning a Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, he moved to Portland, Oregon where he writes full time. He can be found on his site or twitter @danielwilsonpdx.

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Unless you have the use of a private jet or yacht, the worst part of travelling from A to B is travelling. In his known Worlds series, Larry Niven neatly circumvented all the hassles of modern mass transit with his invention of the teleportation booth. You step into something that looks like a phone box (remember phone boxes, kids?) in Slough, and step out in Rio de Janeiro, ready to party. It’s a fantastically disruptive idea that demands more exploration: the physical equivalent of the connections made by the Internet. All of the world would be in reach by all who live in the world. Never mind mass tourism or commuting, how would it affect migration, war, terrorism? Who would be excluded? What would happen to the fiction of national sovereignty? It’s the raw stuff of a thousand novels SF novels. I just might write one.

Paul McAuley’s latest novels are Cowboy Angels (Pyr) and Gardens of the Sun (Gollancz). He can be found musing on his blog.
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(If it's not taken already) I'll take the hoverboards from Back to the Future Part II.



I'd love to come up with a hyper-intellectual thesis on why I have selected it, but ultimately, it's rather simple. The film is a childhood classic, the first time I remember going to the cinema and being in awe at something that seemed only just around the corner in terms of technology (what, I was, like, 8 at the time). It's also one of those perfect sf-nal gadgets: the kind of thing you think, Now wouldn't that actually be really cool? And by my calculations, we should have them in four years...

Mark Charan Newton is author of Nights of Villjamur, City of Ruin, and The Book of Transformations. He can be found causing trouble on his blog and twitter feed.


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The SF device I deeply wish was real is the replicator, which has been featured in numerous novels along with, perhaps most famously, the Star Trek TV series and films. As has been stated by many people much smarter than myself, our current society is based around a limited supply of certain commodities. It doesn't matter if the commodity is food, water, precious metals, diamonds, health care or technology -- the first law of our supply and demand economy dictates that everyone can't have everything at little or no cost.

I'm not attacking our current economic system, which over the last two centuries has done wonders on cutting hunger and a lack of access to the basic necessities of human life. You only have to study history to see that things were once much worse for your average human -- if the lack of good food and clean water and basic health care didn't kill you then you looked forward to a life of painful drudgery merely to keep a crappy roof over your head. So compared to the horrors of feudalism and the other systems which prevailed in years past, I'll take our current world.

But what is a true replicator could be created, ensuring that people could create everything they need or desire with little or no cost? How would society change? Would the true potential of humanity be unleashed, or would people simply become lazy because they no longer had to struggle for the basics of life? I'm not sure what would happen but the idea of replicator-like technology truly excites me and I'd love to see where it would take our world.

Jason Sanford has published a number of stories in the British magazine Interzone, twice winning the Interzone Readers' Poll and being a finalist for the Nebula Award. His fiction has also been published in Year's Best SF 14 , Analog, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, Tales of the Unanticipated, The Mississippi Review, Diagram, Pindeldyboz, and other places. Jason's new short story collection Never Never Stories is now available as an ebook for the Kindle, Nook, and other digital reader platforms and will be released as a print edition later this summer More details on Never Never Stories is available at www.jasonsanford.com.

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The device that impressed me more than any was the ansible, first mentioned in Ursula Le Guin's Rocannon's World but since then spread far and wide by many authors. In short, it's a universal instant communication and translation system, and unlike Douglas Adams' version, you don't have to stick a slithery little fish in your ear.

It's slightly startling to note that the instant translation part, at least, is pretty much with us now. A little refinement of the Google translate system we can pick up on our Android phones and we're there. Which won't stop humans misunderstanding each other for comic or warlike intent of course.

Marc Gascoigne is the Publishing Director and chief rentamouth of Angry Robot Books, new kids on the SF block, kicking fantasy ass, etc etc. angryrobotbooks.com, @angryrobotbooks

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This one was tough, because a lot of the devices I’ve wanted—video phones, tricorders—have or are being invented now. So I thought and thought and thought, and realized what I want is a time machine. Honestly, I will be good. I won’t break it or break history or anything. I just want the opportunity to see it, and smell it, and find out what’s real. I don’t even care about the future (well, I do, but I’d rather be going in and out of the past). Time machines exist throughout sf literature and I was familiar with them before I read the classic: H.G. Wells The Time Machine. But I rather like the conceit in Jack Finney’s Time and Again. Or Richard Matheson’s lovely Somewhere in Time, which was made into an equally lovely movie. (And if we’re going to talk movies—where’s my DeLorian Time Machine ala Back to the Future? Hmmmm?) So yes. What I want is a time machine. If you can get me one, I’ll be forever grateful.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance and a bunch of other things under a variety of names. Her time-travel story, “Red Letter Day,” just won the AnLab Award, Analog’s Readers’ Award, for Best Short Story. Her most recent novels are City of Ruins which is sf written as Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Wickedly Charming, light fantasy romance, written as Kristine Grayson.

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I’ve always been a bit of nomad, which is why I’ve been particularly frustrated with how unsavory, uncomfortable, infuriating, and intrusive getting onto an airplane is these days. It used to be a lot more fun. Now it’s a chore. Something to be endured.

It’s that love of travel and hatred for the actual physical process of it that that makes me such a fan of the idea of instantaneous travel – whether it’s between two points on our own earth or between totally different planets a galaxy apart.

Now, you know, I get it: Instantaneous travel takes away a lot of the fun of the epic journey. Frank Herbert added in some suspense here when he created long-distance travel in Dune. Sure, you can get anywhere you want nearly instantaneously, but the people who have the power to get you there control it. And they, in turn, are dependent on a drug that comes from only one place. And it’s not always the most precise of sciences, as there was, apparently, a 1 in 10 risk that the ship you were on would just… disappear.

It’s a fun concept, isn’t it? Imagine if there was a 1 in 10 chance your plane would disappear. It would make plane travel a lot more fun. And epic. And pilots and frequent fliers would be national heroes. Also, I bet they’d give you better snacks. Might be your last meal, after all.

What interests me more, though, is what instantaneous travel would do to us as a society. Imagine if you could just wake up in Bangkok, have lunch in London, have drinks in New Zealand, and tuck in for the night in your beach house in Maine? There are a lot of writers who play with this idea in shorter fiction – I think we really like abbreviated but not instant travel in longer works, as it’s easier to build conflict (Will you get there in time? Will the ship break down? Will they leave before you get there?). I am trying to dredge up some short fiction titles that do this – I know there are a bunch, but the ones that immediately come to mind for exploring some of the social intricacies of this are David Marusek’s short stories “Getting to Know You” and “We Were Out of Our Minds With Joy.”

I think there’s a very traditional SF audience out there who would still like us to focus mostly on how a technology works instead of how it changes people, but for me, the most interesting thought experiment is not how something was invented or how it works but how it transforms the way that we live, how we interact with each other. Ultimately, SF/F uncommon settings and new technologies to help and explore what really makes us human.

Our current anxieties around travel - and how we address (or don’t!) those anxieties say a lot about us as a culture. Attitudes about investments in transit, who gets to travel, where, why, and for how long are going to illuminate many different facets of a culture. It’s something I certainly keep in mind when building worlds.

When a technology exists that could potentially allow all of us to go anywhere whenever we want, it says a lot about what a culture is and what it stands for when it starts placing restrictions on who actually gets access to that technology – and how many barriers are put up between freedom of movement and the common people.

Kameron Hurley currently hacks out a living at an urban homestead in Ohio. Her first novel, God's War, is available from Night Shade books. The sequel, Infidel, is due out in October. She can be found on her site and twitter @kameronhurley.

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I'd have to cast my vote for the voidhawks from Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy. Because who wouldn't want to gallivant about the galaxy in their custom-grown biotech starship? Especially one that's sleek, beautiful, clever, ultra-maneuverable, and friendly?

The sights we'd see! The adventures we'd have!

Frankly, I wish that pretty much *all* the Edenist biotech from Hamilton's trilogy were real. The habitats are just as amazing as the voidhawks. I'd happily live on one of the Edenist habitats, stepping out once in a while to take a spin in my sentient starship.

Plus, with an affinity link, I'd be telepathically connected to my voidhawk. Wouldn't that be cool?

Ian Tregillis is author of Bitter Seeds the first in the Milkweed Triptych was released in 2010. The sequels The Coldest War, and Necessary Evil are both awaiting publication. Ian can be found on his site.

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I think the device I'd like to see from the sci-fi genre is "truly selective memory." This sort of thing has been around in many stories such as "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick. Of course it's always the malicious and abused version that seems to make for great plots. But I like thinking about the more benign applications, such as those shown in the Matrix: quickly uploading as much knowledge as you can handle. And once it's uploaded, how about never forgetting the things you don't want to forget. Additionally, if the mind was more like a hard drive, the ability to erase or move things on and off your main drive could also be useful. PTSD could become a thing of the past. And what about the ability to truly forgive someone and forget their misdeed? We could of course keep the facts backed up on an external drive so that, if they repeated their offense, we'd have a proper tally and could then decide whether we wanted to forgive them again. Clearly this is not a power you give to folks who lacking near-perfect emotional maturity. Otherwise you'd have everyone avoiding their problems by hitting the delete key. Still, if you were a sufficiently advanced being, I think this power would be incredibly cool.

Anthony Huso is the author of The Last Page and its sequel Black Bottle. He works in the video game industry by day and can be found at his site.

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What you mean, other than the 'porn simulator' that John Scalzi mentions in the most offhand way and then never brings up again in The Android's Dream? Why the crusade for whatever that is hasn't pushed virtual reality development into full scale production, I will never understand.

Personal airships are definitely on the top of my list of cool things we don't have yet. Offhand, I can't think of a book that features them, but that doesn't even slow down the steampunk crews of Airship Isabella. They spend their free time readying their costumes for the day personal airships become a reality. If that isn't a wish that begs for fulfillment, I don't know what is. Hovercars would be a close second. I put hovercars in Revolution World.


Katy Stauber's debut biopunk novel Revolution World was just released from Night Shade Books. She can be found on her blog.

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In Larry Niven’s Ringworld, Louis Wu walks out of his own birthday party, steps into a general-address transfer booth, and miraculously appears in Beirut. It’s the best way to travel – instantly and without any actual boring journey. Forget colony ships that trundle along for generations, so that by the time you get to your far-flung destination you’re, um, dead. Forget stasis and hibernation too – being trapped for hundreds of years in a glorified sun-bed until you’re woken up (only to discover, perhaps, that you’ve been woken up early because the ship has located an Alien on the nearby planet).

Travel in the far future can be agonisingly slow if you take your Einstein seriously. You need an FTL ship to have any fun. But even that’s a lot of work – hence the appeal of materialising machines/teleport devices.

But there’s something prosaic about such devices. They are in effect (forgive me, I’m a science fiction writer who studied the arts) enormous great fax machines. With your body as the piece of paper that gets faxed – perhaps with an ERROR CODE stamped on your forehead.

So my favourite travel gizmo in SF has to be the magical, eerie, but undeniably science fictional Silfen Paths, which Peter F. Hamilton created in Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained. The Silfen are elf-like creatures with a technology so far beyond ours it’s like magic (that old stand-by!) And their method of star travel is to wander through the paths in the woods until you end up – on another planet. It’s the worst nightmare of the hiker who’s bad with maps; but there’s a serendipitous joy to it too. You wander and you arrive – who knows where. A seriously chilled method of interplanetary travel...

Philip Palmer is the author of five science fiction novels, all for Orbit books: Debatable Space (2008), Red Claw (2009), Version 43 (2010, Hell Ship (2011), and Artemis (2011). He is also a screenwriter, script editor, teacher and film producer. His screen writing credits include the BBC 1 film The Many Lives of Albert Walker and The Bill, and his radio dramas include The King’s Coiner, Breaking Point and The Art of Deception. Website: Debatable Spaces.


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This question was more difficult to answer than I thought it would be. What I discovered in considering the question was that I tend to remember the characters and events in a science fiction novel far better than I remember the details of the cool technological advances. I kept coming back to the same answer, though. What one device do I wish were real? A device that granted immortality. Okay, but then you get into all of the perils of immortality. What if I get bored? What if I want to die? I don't want to end up like Q on STTNG. So, a device that provides a life span that lasts as long as you want to live. What I came up with was Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. I don't want to live in the world he envisioned, but I wish we had body rejuvination technology, and the ability to download our minds into a clone for backup. You can end your life if you ever decide you want to, or even choose to "Deadhead" -- go into suspended animation to take a break. Perfect. Well, maybe not perfect. If I could tweak the technology to make it even better, part of the body rejuvenation process would involve cleaning the mind of neuroses, insecurities, and so on, so we all became people who it would be more pleasant to spend eternity with. Of course people without insecurities and neuroses don't make very interesting characters in fiction...

Will McIntosh is a Hugo award winner and Nebula finalist whose short stories have appeared in Asimov’s (where he won the 2010 Reader's Award for short story), Strange Horizons, and Science Fiction and Fantasy: Best of the Year, and others. His debut novel, Soft Apocalypse, based on a 2005 short story that was nominated for both the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society awards, has just been released by Night Shade. A New Yorker transplanted to the rural south, Will is a psychology professor at Georgia Southern University. In 2008 he became the father of twins.


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I have given this question long and serious thought. I have considered and rejected such cool devices as the transporter! the laser gun! the hover car! the tri-vid! I hovered (though NOT in a hover car) for a long time over Niven's wire-head technology (inducing pleasure by stimulating pleasure centre in the brain with weak electrical current) - a technology so cool I had to steal it for some of my own SF stories, where it is known, simply, and in homage, as "doing a Louis Wu".

HOWEVER.

After long and careful consideration, and weighing of all the options, I think we'll all agree there is only ONE piece of perfect technology, that deserves wider acceptance in the SF world, and benefits, moreover, from having the perfect name.

Yes, I am referring to...

The Orgasmatron!

Orgasmatron! It first appears by name in Woody Allen's SLEEPER (1973), of all places, but we can see it, in different names, in BARBARELLA (1964), in the under-rated "classic" FLESH GORDON (1974) - even in Sly Stalone's "masterpiece" of sci-fi (in truth, a film I have a lot of affection to!) DEMOLITION MAN (1993).

In a world of military SF, of Death Stars and ray guns, or planet-busters and gung-ho crew-cut carnage boys, the Orgasmatron is the utltimate hippie antidote. Sex Rays (FLESH GORDON) - not Death Rays! I can hear you cry! Make Sci Fi Love, Not Sci Fi War! Fetishism, not Fascism!

The slogans virtually write themselves.

I call upon you, people of sci fi. Put down your ray guns! Stop attacking innocent aliens! Let the iconic Bald Woman of Sci Fi grow her hair long. Put an alien flower in your hair!

To the Orgasmatron!

Israeli-born writer Lavie Tidhar has been called an “emerging master” by Locus magazine, and has quickly established a name for himself as a short fiction writer of some note. He is the author of The Bookman, Hebrewpunk, and An Occupation of Angels. He has travelled widely, living variously in South Africa, the UK, Asia and the remote island-nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific, and his work exhibits a strong sense of place and an engagement with the literary Other in all its forms. He can be found on his blog and twitter @lavietidhar.

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You Might Also Like:
INTERVIEW | Neal Asher author of The Skinner
REVIEW | The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
REVIEW | How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
REVIEW | Time and Again by Jack Finney

5 comments:

TenDimensions said...

What a great idea to ask all these writers what invention they'd like! It got me thinking about what I'd like most and I think it may have more to do with how enamored I happen to be with it at the moment more than anything else.

The Bobble's from Vernor Vinge's "The Peace War" and "Marooned in Realtime". I don't want to say too much about the technology in case there's a spoiler in it, but they're crazy quantum based spheres that encase whatever is inside in an impenetrable membrane.

Anonymous said...

Replicator is a pretty tame answer, but I guess it would give a lot of options. I'd love it if there were a real Dyson sphere. Imagine all the tech it takes to make that one device.

Scavenger Monk said...

My mind immediately went to the ansible (which I first encountered in Orson Scott Card's Ender books), but, upon further consideration, I think I will echo many of the authors and say instant teleportation. I envision the kind used in Dan Simmons' The Fall of Hyperion where energy gates can connect any two points anywhere.

Espana said...

I don't read historical fiction. They usually read very dry to me. I'd rather have a lot going on in between the pages than a whole bunch of mooning nobles. I picked up this book anyway and it wasn't like that at all. It had interesting characters and action that made it interesting. Even the business stuff, which would normally have me snoring, was interesting. I feel like I learned a bit about what it must have been like in Italy during the Renaissance. I think the author really researched the time period, which made the whole novel feel authentic.

Miguel said...

Hanna,

To your comment regarding Asimov's Prime Radiant and the psychohistorical equations --

You might be interested to know that a real psychohistory may have been discovered "down here on Earth" recently.

The new mathematics on which it is based is presented as an algebra that can model human dialogues -- and the 'self-dialogues' that are individual human thought-processes as "soundless monologues" -- and the "reap the wind, sow the whirl wind", and "'as you do onto others, so shall it be done unto you'" dialectics of moral dynamics.

The creator of this psychohistory, and the discoverer of the new
mathematics behind it, calls himself "Karl H. Seldon", and the
organization that he co-founded is called "Foundation Encyclopedia
Dialectica" ["F.E.D."], with its two 'co-headquarters' at "Terminious, CA." and at "Stars' End, NY".

The seven "simultaneous" Karl-Seldonian "psychohistorical equations" were recently publicly revealed, in detail, via the following URLs:

www.dialectics.org

http://www.dialectics.org/dialectics/Aoristoss_Blog/Entries/2012/5/19_The_F.E.D._Psychohistorical_Equations.html

These seven equations are written in the algebraic language of the most rudimentary of the progression of new systems of mathematics that "Dr. Seldon" discovered in 1996.

This first system of "psychohistorical mathematics" is, simultaneously, (1) a 'contra Boolean arithmetic of logic', founded on axioms which imply a theorem which is a hitherto never considered, strong[er] negation of the "Fundamental Law of Thought" of George Boole's original algebra of formal logic, and (2) a "non-standard model of "Natural" Numbers Arithmetic".

The "existence" of such
"non-standard models of "Natural" arithmetic" was predicted as a direct implication of the Lowenheim Skolem Theorem of mathematical logic, and as a conjoint implication of Kurt Goedel's Completeness and
Incompleteness Theorems, but not constructively so [i.e., the processes of the proofs of these theorems did not involve constructing examples of such "non-standard arithmetics"].

"Karl Seldon's" first dialectical arithmetic uses the "First Order Peano Postulates" that form
the foundation of the axiomatics of ordinary "Natural" arithmetic, but in a way which leads to a qualitatively different system of arithmetic, in somewhat the same sense that "Non-Euclidean Geometries", by varying the
Euclidean "Parallels Postulate", differ qualitatively from Euclidean
"Natural" Geometry, but more in the sense in which Abraham Robinson's "Non-Standard Analysis" is a "Non-Standard Model" of the "Real" Numbers, based upon their first-order "ambiguity", that simplifies expressions of the Calculus by rigorously allowing "actual infinitestimals" as "Hyper-Real" numbers.

"Karl Seldon" next used this first psychohistorical algebra to model a potentially infinite progression of ever-more-descriptively-powerful "psychohistorical algebras", presumably allowing a finite progression of predictively-richer versions of his seven "psychohistorical-dialectical equations".

However, those richer versions have not yet been published.

Worth a look-see, IMHO.