The Odd Children's Books That Taught Jonathan Lethem About Storytelling

Some of the best children's books are actually quite strange, even dreamlike. And this is especially true of kids' books from the 1960s and 1970s. In an interview with BoingBoing, author Jonathan Lethem talks about the kids' books that he loved, including the "mysterious and rich" Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson (above). » 4/14/15 1:19pm 4/14/15 1:19pm

A Particle Accelerator in Space Could Trigger Artificial Auroras 

Auroras appear according to the whims of nature, not humans, which might just be part of their eerie appeal. But c’mon, it’s the 21st century now. Why are we just waiting around? So here’s a crazy idea unearthed by Mark Zastrow writing in Eos: Let’s a build a particle accelerator to trigger auroras whenever we want. » 4/09/15 12:00am 4/09/15 12:00am

How Katherine Kurtz Changed Fantasy Books Forever

She doesn't get the same level of props as Michael Moorcock. But Katherine Kurtz, author of the Deryni novels, had a huge impact on fantasy, argues a new essay over at Strange Horizons. Starting in 1970, her books were the first of a new kind of fantasy — closer to historical fiction than epic quest narratives. » 4/03/15 10:44am 4/03/15 10:44am

Economists Who Study Science Fiction Will See Science More Realistically

There are definitely plenty of economists who love science fiction — Paul Krugman comes to mind immediately. But economics could still benefit from more attention to the genre, argues economist Ha-Joon Chang from Cambridge University. But Chang's reasons for recommending SF might be a bit surprising. » 3/26/15 1:59pm 3/26/15 1:59pm

"Sex For Sunscreen," And Other Rejected Story Ideas For Lost Season 1

Back when Lost was nothing but an outline for the most expensive pilot to date, the writers were struggling to come up with more story ideas. Including stuff like: "Shannon trades sexual favors for sunscreen, which has rapidly become the most prized commodity on the island." That's just one of the revelations from a… » 3/24/15 3:38pm 3/24/15 3:38pm

The Time Activists Tried to Destroy GPS With an Axe in the 90s 

If you had heard of GPS in 1992, you likely heard about it because of the Gulf War. For the first time, GPS was used to precisely guide missiles to Iraqi targets. With this context in mind, it perhaps makes more sense why two activists would want to hack a GPS satellite to pieces. » 3/06/15 12:02am 3/06/15 12:02am

What Burger King's Super-Disturbing Mascot Teaches Us About Creepiness

Back in the mid-2000s, Burger King had a really unnerving ad campaign where a man in a plastic Burger King mask breaks into people's houses and watches them sleep. Over in the New Inquiry, Adam Kotsko uses the skin-crawling mascot, the King, as a jumping-off point to discuss the history of creepiness. » 3/02/15 2:27pm 3/02/15 2:27pm

A Nerve-Wracking Glimpse At The Future Where Computers Think For Us

We already outsource our memories, calculations and a lot of our fact-checking to Google and other systems. But what happens when the computers start actually guessing what we're going to think before we think it? That's the subject of this unnerving flash fiction by Schlock Mercenary's Howard Tayler. » 2/19/15 10:51am 2/19/15 10:51am

Frank Drake: "It Would Be Silly" To Message Alien Life Today

Frank Drake, creator of the eponymous equation formulated to predict the probability of finding communicative extraterrestrial life in our galaxy, thinks that actively transmitting messages into outer space (as opposed to listening passively for extraterrestrial communication) is a silly, expensive, and inefficient… » 2/16/15 2:20pm 2/16/15 2:20pm

Yes, It Matters If The Science In Your Science Fiction Story Is Accurate

There's been a lot of debate lately over whether science fiction needs accurate science — or whether it's even worth discussing the accuracy of science in science fiction. What kind of person expects a science textbook instead of just a fun romp? But as a new essay points out, this is really a matter of suspension of… » 2/10/15 12:44pm 2/10/15 12:44pm