Sunday, November 06, 2011

Good Contemporary SF: Best of Lightspeed Magazine

I have recently spent some time exploring the archives of Lightspeed Magazine, which is an excellent magazine of speculative fiction and it also includes podcasted stories.
I decided to share my best of list with you. (URLs added. All of this is free content.). Check these out if you still haven't.

These short stories will give you a very nice outlook on contemporary speculative-fiction literature. The selection is completely arbitrary and only reflects my personal taste. I only selected stories that give the reader something different form the classic (hard) sci-fi themes, as I like my sci-fi new and fresh.

These are the best 15 stories that I have found at the Lightspeed website:

- Transcript of Interaction Between Astronaut Mike Scudderman and the OnStar Hands-Free A.I. Crash Advisor by Grady Hendrix
A hilarious story about the sci-fi clichés about landing on alien planets and also about the extiction of humanity. It is worth listening to the audio (12:46 minutes), the actors did a great job with this one.

- I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno by Vylar Kaftan
A love story for space travel and physics fanatics. I haven't seen anything quite like this either.

- Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain by Yoon Ha Lee
A story about a female fighter and a beautifully crafted and magnificent weapon which can change history.

- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
A story about a woman who was the subject of an experiment, which is meant to turn young women into fierce fighters.

- Saying the Names by Maggie Clark
This one is about a father and daughter conflict, but it is set in space and there is also encounter with an alien civilisation.

- Sweet Sixteen by Kat Howard
A story about coming of age and female role models.

- Amid the Words of War by Cat Rambo
An alien soldier becomes a refugee and then a sex worker in this story.

- Long Enough and Just So Long by Cat Rambo
Two women meet a 'male' AI/robot which is designed to be a sex robot but prefers freedom.

- No Time Like the Present by Carol Emshwiller
A teenage girl realizes that the neighbours, including her best friend, came from another time.

- Simulacrum by Ken Liu
A very emotional story about family relationships, esp about a father and daughter conflict, worsened by the man's addiction to virtual, artificial persons.

- Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son by Tom Crosshill
A poor boy becomes the subject of a scientific experiment and almost destroys the whole city.

- Amaryllis by Carrie Vaughn
A Hugo Award Finalist short story, about issues related to motherhood, and all this is in a sort of post-apocalyptic setting and on a ship (and on sea).

- Ej-Es by Nancy Kress
A story about escapism, madness, cure, charity, colonization and destruction.

- Eliot Wrote by Nancy Kress
Again, a story with questions of personality, about human intelligence, about how the mind of a genius works and what is normal and the importance of all this.

- Jenny’s Sick by David Tallerman
A guy discovers that his girlfriend has developed a strange addiction and leaves her, but regrets this and is willing to help her later. Near-future setting, with unusual illnesses and cures.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

A Free SF Ebook : Smaller Than Most by Kristine Ong Muslim

Smaller Than Most is a short collection of flash fiction, with some very bizarre and surreal sci-fi and fantasy stories by a very talented author, Kristine Ong Muslim
You can download the ebook from the Smashwords website.

Good Sci-fi Movies: Sleep Dealer (2008)

Sleep Dealer is a fascinating sci-fi movie from Mexico by Alex Rivera.

This is a film about a young man from a tiny village, who after the death of his father, goes to a big city to look for a job, with high hopes, and gets introduced to the a high-tech hell of the city dwellers. This is a world he always wished to know more about, but it's one, where with the use of advanced technologies, man is used to the extremes, man is humiliated and his only value is in making profit for the company.

The basic idea makes you think about the movie Surrogates, but it is somehow more realistic and gives you a much better picture of what uses the technologies that are described in cyberpunk novels could really have. It is not about an insanely comfortable lifestyle which allows you to do everything virtually by connecting to some network with some bodily implants. Since this is a Mexican movie, it is focusing more on the new ways of exploitation. It is about poor Mexicans doing all the work in the rich countries via connecting to the network from the distance.

Apart from the thought-provoking parts of the movie, it also has entertainment value. It is also a mystery story and there is also a touching love story in it.

Sleep Dealer is probably one of the best sci-fi movies of recent years. (Trailer.)