Hacker, artist, maker that works for the Museum of Science in Boston.
479 stories
·
55 followers

Four book series that are shaping the future of science fiction on television

2 Comments

Enlarge (credit: Who Fears Death)

If recent Hollywood deals are any indication, science fiction on TV is about to get even more interesting and complex. The trend started with the surprising announcement in late 2016 that Lin Manuel-Miranda's next project—after completing his run on Hamilton and writing the music for Moana—would be to adapt Patrick Rothfuss' cult fantasy series The Kingkiller Chronicle for TV and film. Just in the past two months, three more gamechanging options were announced: HBO will adapt Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death, award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay is working on a TV adaptation of Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy, and TNT has snapped up N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy. All of these books represented major shifts for the science fiction genre and, until recently, would probably have been considered unfilmable.

To understand the magnitude of this change, consider the Xenogenesis trilogy. Octavia Butler published these cerebral alien invasion novels in the 1980s, shortly before she became the first science fiction author ever to win a prestigious MacArthur "genius grant." The books follow three generations of people after an advanced alien civilization of three-gendered, tentacle-covered creatures has created hybrid children with the dying, post-nuclear remnants of humanity. It's a multi-layered story about colonialism and survival, and it includes surreal scenes in which we enter the minds of aliens to experience their unique sensorium. Though critically acclaimed and widely read, the novels never made it to the screen.

The three novels in Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis series are being adapted by director Ava DuVernay (<em>A Wrinkle in Time</em> and <em>Selma</em>).

The three novels in Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis series are being adapted by director Ava DuVernay (A Wrinkle in Time and Selma).

One issue was pragmatic. Imagining these novels coming to life without a James Cameron-level budget is hard. Today, however, special effects are cheaper than ever. A clever combination of practical effects and CGI could render Butler's aliens and their biotech spaceships.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read the whole story
jprodgers
16 hours ago
reply
The Xenogenesis series is probably the most powerful sci-fi I've ever read. It's downright painful and thoroughly uncomfortable at times, but I can't recommend it enough. You will be a better person for having read it.
Somerville, MA
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
lelandpaul
2 days ago
reply
So much cosign. I really hope all of these do, in fact, make their way to the screen. (I hasn't heard the news about Xenogenesis, either! Those books are *terrifying* on a deep, existential level.)
San Francisco, CA

Dad Redraws His Son's Drawings Into 30 Awesome Pieces of Anime

1 Share
Talented dad redraws his young son's drawings into 30 pieces of epic anime art.

French Animator, Thomas Romain wanted to give his son a boost of positive encouragement to continue pursuing his passion for drawing; so, like the epic dad that he is, he redrew them into epic works of anime. Annnd we'd totally buy these. Damn. 


Check out more of his amazing work over here!

Submitted by:

Tagged: cool , art , awesome , parenting , dad , drawings
Read the whole story
jprodgers
3 days ago
reply
Somerville, MA
Share this story
Delete

Multiple Monitors With Multiple Pis

1 Share

One of the most popular uses for the Raspberry Pi in a commercial setting is video walls, digital signage, and media players. Chances are, you’ve probably seen a display or other glowing rectangle displaying an advertisement or tweets, powered by a Raspberry Pi. [Florian] has been working on a project called info-beamer for just this use case, and now he has something spectacular. He can display a video on multiple monitors using multiple Pis, and the configuration is as simple as taking a picture with your phone.

[Florian] created the info-beamer package for the Pi for video playback (including multiple videos at the same time), displaying public transit information, a twitter wall, or a conference information system. A while back, [Florian] was showing off his work on reddit when he got a suggestion for auto-configuration of multiple screens. A few days later, everything worked.

Right now, the process of configuring screens involves displaying fiducials on each display, taking a picture from with your phone and the web interface, and letting the server do a little number crunching. Less than a minute after [Florian] took a picture of all the screens, a movie was playing across three weirdly oriented displays.

Below, you can check out the video of [Florian] configuring three Pis and displays to show a single video, followed by a German language presentation going over the highlights of info-beamer.


Filed under: Raspberry Pi



Read the whole story
jprodgers
4 days ago
reply
Somerville, MA
Share this story
Delete

Smart Speed Bumps Slow Only Speeding Cars

2 Comments

Like it or not speed bumps are an essential part of our road infrastructure especially in built-up places like near schools [Business Insider UK] reports non-Newtonian liquid filled speed bumps are being tested in Spain, Israel and Germany.

Traditional speed bumps do have their drawbacks; damage to the underside of low vehicles is common. While they should be uniform in dimensions, in practice they can vary significantly, making driving over unfamiliar bumps a bit unpredictable. This is all set to change with non-Newtonian bumps which are soft to drive over at slow speeds but for speeding drivers they harden up and act more like traditional bumps. This gives drivers following the letter of the law a better driving experience whilst still deterring speeding drivers..

Non-Newtonian materials are nothing new but we think this is a great way of purposing these type of materials. Roads are getting smart whether you like it or not. It’s time to embrace technology and improve our commutes. 


Filed under: car hacks, transportation hacks



Read the whole story
jprodgers
6 days ago
reply
Clever idea. I'm curious about durability though.
Somerville, MA
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
JimB
6 days ago
reply
Good idea. Speed bumps are a curse of modern driving

Google Domains, GoDaddy blacklist white supremacist site Daily Stormer

1 Comment

Enlarge / Flowers commemorate Heather Heyer, victim of Saturday’s deadly car attack in Charlottesville. (credit: Bob Mical)

For years, the website Daily Stormer has promoted hatred against Jews, black people, LGBT people, and other minorities, making it one of the Internet's most infamous destinations. But on Sunday, editor Andrew Anglin outdid himself by publishing a vulgar, slut-shaming article about Heather Heyer, a woman who was killed when someone rammed a car into a crowd of anti-racism protestors in Charlottesville.

The article prompted a response from the site's domain registrar, GoDaddy. "We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service," GoDaddy wrote in a tweet late Sunday night.

On Monday, the Daily Stormer switched its registration to Google's domain service. Within hours, Google announced a cancellation of its own. "We are cancelling Daily Stormer’s registration with Google Domains for violating our terms of service," the company wrote in an statement emailed to Ars.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read the whole story
jprodgers
6 days ago
reply
I'm with professor Muller on this one "As much as I hate the Daily Stormer and I think this attack on this murdered person is disgusting, the idea that you go after the domain to shut them down makes me uneasy"

I've sided with the ACLU's decisions before when they protected neo-nazis and the KKK. Simply censoring their toxic ideology isn't going to help, and when you start censoring "them" it's not long before anyone can become "them".
Somerville, MA
Share this story
Delete

The Lost Cause Rides Again

2 Comments and 12 Shares

HBO’s prospective series Confederate will offer an alternative history of post-Civil War America. It will ask the question, according to co-creator David Benioff,  “What would the world have looked like … if the South had won?” A swirl of virtual protests and op-eds have greeted this proposed premise. In response, HBO has expressed “great respect” for its critics but also said it hopes that they will “reserve judgment until there is something to see.”

This request sounds sensible at first pass. Should one not “reserve judgment” of a thing until after it has been seen? But HBO does not actually want the public to reserve judgment so much as it wants the public to make a positive judgment. A major entertainment company does not announce a big new show in hopes of garnering dispassionate nods of acknowledgement. HBO executives themselves judged Confederate before they’d seen it—they had to, as no television script actually exists. HBO hoped to communicate that approval to its audience through the announcement. And had that communication been successful, had Confederate been greeted with rapturous anticipation, it is hard to imagine the network asking its audience to tamp down and wait.

HBO’s motives aside, the plea to wait supposes that a problem of conception can be fixed in execution. We do not need to wait to observe that this supposition is, at best, dicey. For over a century, Hollywood has churned out well-executed, slickly produced epics which advanced the Lost Cause myth of the Civil War. These are true “alternative histories,” built on “alternative facts,” assembled to depict the Confederacy as a wonderland of virtuous damsels and gallant knights, instead of the sprawling kleptocratic police state it actually was. From last century’s The Birth of a Nation to this century’s Gods and Generals, Hollywood has likely done more than any other American institution to obstruct a truthful apprehension of the Civil War, and thus modern America’s very origins. So one need not wait to observe that any foray by HBO into the Civil War must be met with a spirit of pointed inquiry and a withholding of all benefit of the doubt.

Skepticism must be the order of the day. So that when Benioff asks “what would the world have looked like … if the South had won,” we should not hesitate to ask what Benioff means by “the South.” He obviously does not mean the minority of  white Southern unionists, who did win. And he does not mean those four million enslaved blacks, whom the Civil War ultimately emancipated, yet whose victory was tainted. Comprising 40 percent of the Confederacy’s population, this was the South’s indispensable laboring class, its chief resource, its chief source of wealth, and the sole reason why a Confederacy existed in the first place. But they are not the subject of Benioff’s inquiry, because he is not so much asking about “the South” winning, so much as he is asking about “the white South” winning.

The distinction matters. For while the Confederacy, as a political entity, was certainly defeated, and chattel slavery outlawed, the racist hierarchy which Lee and Davis sought to erect, lives on. It had to. The terms of the white South’s defeat were gentle. Having inaugurated a war which killed more Americans than all other American wars combined, the Confederacy’s leaders were back in the country’s political leadership within a decade. Within two, they had effectively retaken control of the South.

Knowing this, we do not have to wait to point out that comparisons between Confederate and The Man in the High Castle are fatuous. Nazi Germany was also defeated. But while its surviving leadership was put on trial before the world, not one author of the Confederacy was convicted of treason. Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop was hanged at Nuremberg. Confederate General John B. Gordon became a senator. Germany has spent the decades since World War II in national penance for Nazi crimes. America spent the decades after the Civil War transforming Confederate crimes into virtues. It is illegal to fly the Nazi flag in Germany. The Confederate flag is enmeshed in the state flag of Mississippi.

The symbols point to something Confederate’s creators don’t seem to understand—the war is over for them, not for us. At this very hour, black people all across the South are still fighting the battle which they joined during Reconstruction—securing equal access to the ballot—and resisting a president whose resemblance to Andrew Johnson is uncanny. Confederate is the kind of provocative thought experiment that can be engaged in when someone else’s lived reality really is fantasy to you, when your grandmother is not in danger of losing her vote, when the terrorist attack on Charleston evokes honest sympathy, but inspires no direct fear. And so we need not wait to note that Confederate’s interest in Civil War history is biased, that it is premised on a simplistic view of white Southern defeat, instead of the more complicated morass we have all around us.

And one need not wait to ask if Benioff and D.B. Weiss are, at any rate, the candidates to help lead us out of that morass or deepen it. A body of work exists in the form of their hit show Game of Thrones. We do not have to wait to note the persistent criticism of that show is its depiction of rape. Rape—generational rape, mass rape—is central to the story of enslavement. For 250 years the bodies of enslaved black women were regarded as property, to be put to whatever use—carnal and otherwise—that their enslavers saw fit. Why HBO believes that this duo, given their past work, is the best team to revisit that experience is a question one should not wait to ask.

And all this must be added to a basic artistic critique—Confederate is a shockingly unoriginal idea, especially for the allegedly avant garde HBO. “What if the white South had won?” may well be the most trod-upon terrain in the field of American alternative history. There are novels about it, comic books about it, games about it, and a mockumentary about it. It’s been barely a year since Ben Winters published Underground Airlines.

Storytellers have the right to answer any question they choose. But we do not need to wait to examine all the questions that are not being chosen: What if John Brown had succeeded? What if the Haitian Revolution had spread to the rest of the Americas? What if black soldiers had been enlisted at the onset of the Civil War? What if Native Americans had halted the advance of whites at the Mississippi? And we need not wait to note that more interesting than asking what the world would be like if the white South had won is asking why so many white people are enthralled with a world where the dreams of Harriet Tubman were destroyed by the ambitions of Robert E. Lee.

The problem of Confederate can’t be redeemed by production values, crisp writing, or even complicated characters. That is not because its conceivers are personally racist, or seek to create a show that endorses slavery. Far from it, I suspect. Indeed, the creators have said that their hope is to use science fiction to “show us how this history is still with us in a way no strictly realistic drama ever could.” And that really is the problem. African Americans do not need science-fiction, or really any fiction, to tell them that that “history is still with us.” It’s right outside our door. It’s in our politics. It’s on our networks. And Confederate is not immune. The show’s very operating premise, the fact that it roots itself in a long white tradition of imagining away emancipation, leaves one wondering how “lost” the Lost Cause really was.

It’s good that the show-runners have brought on two noted and talented black writers—Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman. But one wonders: If black writers, in general, were to have HBO’s resources and support to create an alternative world, would they choose the world dreamed up by the progenitors of the Ku Klux Klan? Or would they address themselves to other less trod areas of Civil War history in the desire to say something new, in the desire to not, yet again, produce a richly imagined and visually beguiling lie?

We have been living with the lie for so long. And we cannot fix the lie by asking “What if the white South won?” and waiting for an answer, because the lie is not in the answer, but in the question itself.

Read the whole story
jprodgers
14 days ago
reply
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national treasure. Also that Andrew Johnson = Trump link is pure gold.
Somerville, MA
popular
14 days ago
reply
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
mareino
15 days ago
reply
Coates brings up a point that I have never seen quite so well articulated before. The South did win the Civil War. When the War began, 40% of the South was enslaved. When the war ended 0% of the South was enslaved. That's a win by any decent ethical standards.
Washington, District of Columbia
Next Page of Stories