dystopias

  1. The tv series Community recently had a funny episode devoted to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. I started roleplaying when I was 12 with AD&D, roleplayed with a variety of games well into college, and have fond memories of it. I haven’t seen any other episodes in the series, so I don’t know if they’re worth watching. io9 has a good review of the D&D episode. Watch it for a limited time on Hulu.com.
  2. As if anti-gay marriage bigots and statists weren’t bad enough, now we can add anti-AI marriage luddites to the mix. Yes, folks, that slippery slope that gay marriage will surely start us down will lead us one day to marriage between humans and artificial intelligences! Um, yeah…so what? That alone won’t destroy traditional marriage any more than gay marriage will. I guess this guy hasn’t heard that Japanese nerds are already marrying their favorite anime game characters. No, I’m serious

    But anyway: The libertarian ideal, however one feels personally about gay and AI marriage, is for the state to get out of marriage entirely. Let people decide what to call their relationships and social evolution sort it out. Down with government classificationism!

    Here’s io9 on the story. And here’s the biggotted luddite’s speech:
    [Keep reading…]

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BOOK REVIEW | The Empress of Mars by Kage Baker Thumbnail

The Empress of Mars
By Kage Baker
Trade paperback, 304 pages
Tor (2009), $10.87

The Empress of Mars was written by the late Kage Baker (June 10, 1952 — January 31, 2010; 1st name pronounced like ‘cage’). It started out as a novella (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine July 2003), which won the 2004 Theodore Sturgeon Award and was nominated for a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award, but was later expanded into the full-length novel published in 2009 that I review here.

The Empress of Mars is not Martian royalty. This is not Barsoom, the Mars of Edgar Rice Burroughs. You won’t find a John Carter-type hero fighting native Martians and rescuing princesses within these pages, though Baker does pay homage to Burroughs’ Mars tales. Tars Tarkas makes an appearance as the Martian Santa Claus, for example.

No, The Empress of Mars is a restaurant and bar owned by one Mary Griffith, an early settler of Mars and former biological scientist. A tough, motherly figure, Mary Griffith embodies the rugged individualism and pioneer spirit that pervades Baker’s The Empress of Mars. Baker’s tale is more scientifically literate than Burroughs’, and qualifies (mostly at least, see below) as hard science fiction, leavened with superior writing and humor. It is set some unspecified time after the year 2186 — marking a past event, the year the Kutuzov expedition discovered Olympus Mons is not an extinct shield volcano, it was the only date I recall seeing in the novel.

The story revolves around Mary, her three daughters, and a host of other quirky characters, some of whom she takes under her wing, others she befriends or does business with, as they deal with at first neglect by and then interference from the bureaucrats of the British Arean Company (BAC).

[Keep reading…]

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