Christopher Herde also continued Our Story – a column about using history in roleplaying – with “Revolting, Part One,” for those groups who want to add some verisimilitude to their overthrow of a fictional government.
We’ve got two busy weeks of reviews to cover in this issue, so let’s do a bit of a lighting round.
&bt_ts=1474378852502" target="_blank">Listen to the surprisingly goofy voice of a Neanderthal,reproduced by an actor who deserves an Emmy in the category of Not Laughing.
&bt_ts=1474378852502" target="_blank">How Flat is Kansas Really?
&bt_ts=1474378852502" target="_blank">Two geographers calculated the flatness of every state in the union. Kansas came in seventh, after Delaware, North Dakota, and Florida. So how did it get its reputation?
&bt_ts=1474378852502" target="_blank">The Gospel of Ayahuasca
&bt_ts=1474378852502" target="_blank">In 2016, the “first legal ayahuasca church” got shut down. Was it a scam—or a new religion?
Q&A by Douglas Stewart Herbert Simon created the world’s first artificial intelligence program — way back in 1956. Throughout his long career, he maintained that a computer could, in principle, do anything that the human mind can do, up to and including the great feats of genius and creativity that many of us believe are the special province of humans alone.
“I always suspect these ‘soul’ theories,” he told our interviewer in this classic Q&A, “because nobody will tell me what the soul is. And if they do, we’ll program one.”
Young Frankenstein, which Wilder co-wrote with Mel Brooks , boasts one of the most talented comedic casts of all time, from Madeline Khan, Marty Feldman, and Teri Garr to Cloris Leachman, Peter Boyle, and Kenneth Mars. But it’s Wilder’s manic performance, alternating between soft-spoken straight man and hilariously crazed madman, that elevates the movie beyond perfect parody to comedic brilliance.
2016 has delivered a mighty crop of alternate histories so far-it seems that a certain “what if…?” mentality has seeped into the literary zeitgeist, leading to some fascinating works of speculative fiction. In this list, Leah Schnelbach gathers some of this year’s most thought-provoking titles for your perusal-these books cover a diverse array of timelines and possible paths, from Nisi Shawl’s steampunk haven in the Congo to Lavie Tidhar’s noir-inspired fascist London, and more!
Chapter 19 of The Silmarillion, “Of Beren and Lúthien,” has a lot to recommend it: Elves, Men, and romance aside, it’s also chock full of mighty spells, magic weapons, werewolves, vampires, magic dogs, sing-offs, dying words, and the infamous Morgoth himself. But perhaps Tolkien’s greatest accomplishment in this tale is introducing the world to Lúthien and turning conventional fairy tale princess conceits upside down. Jeff LaSala takes an in-depth look at the character of Lúthien and her adventures, making the case for this bold, brilliant, multifaceted heroine as one of Middle-earth’s most memorable and fascinating figures.
Music runs through our lives, a private delight often shared with others. We all hum, whistle, sing to ourselves. Many of us play instruments, many more sing for pleasure. However, the composer of music stands alone. Where does music come from? What is the nature of the creative urge or talent that responds to imagined chords and harmonies, then channels them to produce an arrangement of notes that no one has ever heard before? This mystery is the basis for Christopher Priest’s most recent novel, The Gradual, and also underlies these five remarkable works of science fiction in which music and time conjoin.
“Contemporary Chinese science fiction is following a path similar to that taken by American science fiction. Over time, literary sophistication has become favored over scientific imagination. Science fiction is becoming “softer,” and a new generation of writers have turned away from the Campbellian aesthetic ideal that we once pined for.” In light of this trend, “Three-Body” trilogy author Cixin Liu was surprised when Death’s End became a massive success; in this essay, Liu discusses the challenges of writing an apocalyptic novel through the lens of hard science fiction, and writing the future as a historical romance.
“There must be no compulsion to hide the bodies. Otherwise I’d have never found them…” Stephen Graham Jones’ “The Night Cyclist” is a horror novelette about a middle-aged chef whose nightly bicycle ride home is interrupted by an unexpected encounter.
We’ve got an epic day of MechWarrior and BattleTech fun organized for you, featuring the MechWarrior Online World Championships Grand Finals, special presentations from Piranha Games’ Russ Bullock, Harebrained Schemes’ Jordan Weisman, and Catalyst Game Labs’ Randall Bills, sneak peeks and announcements regarding upcoming MechWarrior features, demo stations featuring the latest BATTLETECH build from HBS, and lots more!