“It is fanciful to invest too much faith in the isolated act of reading – the stimulated, inspired or entertained brain does not store carbon.”
Law’s Force, Law’s Farce
Books about law are often utilitarian. But perhaps sometimes we should embrace sublime uselessness.
“In Any Version of Reality”: Talking SF with Charles Yu
“It’s why science fiction matters so much to me: I’m trying to dislocate our sense of the normal.”
To Air Is Human
An aerodynamicist and an anthropologist discuss the world of “Dune,” finding it as aesthetically beautiful as it is functionally implausible.
How to Build a World
Storytelling like that of Ursula K. Le Guin or Hayao Miyazaki reveals how real-world politics is similarly an act of collective “world building.”
A Quiet Disaster: Mexico City, Mexico
Apocalyptic writers would be surprised by the suddenness with which Mexico City, during the pandemic, took on the guise of a ghost town.
“Lovecraft Country”: A Spell Gone Awry
Lovecraft Country runs on a formula: genre clichés—however racist—only need to be painted over, so as to be enjoyed without guilt.
Experiments in Feral Futuring
Two futurists ran an experiment: What happens when a room of strangers plan for the future together?
The DJ Is a Time Machine
Let’s rupture and reject the “timeline,” a flawed and colonial form of teaching history.
Let’s Polarize Together
Humans can adapt to almost anything. So if social media forces us into permanently hostile camps, we will learn to stop seeing any other way.
The Realism of Our Times: Kim Stanley Robinson on How Science Fiction Works
“We're in a science fiction novel now that we are all co-writing together.”
Can Comics Save Your Life?
In lockdown, one shop asked for people to submit comics of “a utopian world after we survive this moment.” Hundreds around the world answered.
The Worst of All Possible Worlds?
The most interesting science fiction is not about the future at all but about the present.
“The Places Where Things Blur”: Namwali Serpell on “The Old Drift”
“One of the reasons it took so long to write is that—as I would joke with my friends—I found myself writing the great Zambian novel.”
Motherhood and Other Monsters
In The Babadook and The Need, the introduction of a monster amplifies preexisting anxieties, rather than generating fresh ones.
MAGA: Margaret Atwood’s Gilead Again
Margaret Atwood has argued that there is “within each utopia, a concealed dystopia; within each dystopia, a hidden utopia, if only in the form of the world as it ...
Ray Bradbury on War, Recycling, and Artificial Intelligence
One of the roles of science fiction is to provide readers with a glimpse of how ...
Asimov’s Empire, Asimov’s Wall
Isaac Asimov loved large numbers. He was born a century ago this month, and when he died, in 1992, he was both the most famous science fiction writer in the ...
“To Reach the Pure Realm of the Imaginary”: A Conversation with Cixin Liu
The renowned Chinese science fiction writer Cixin Liu is best known as the author of the best-selling, Obama-beloved, Hugo-winning, and truly mind-bending trilogy ...
How Ken Liu Translates, and Why He Writes
Ken Liu is a celebrated author of American speculative fiction and a pathbreaking translator of Chinese science fiction into English. He has won the ...