Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination

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In This Issue: Nov. 2010 (Issue 6)

Editorial

Editorial, November 2010

Fiction: “Standard Loneliness Package” by Charles Yu, “Faces in Revolving Souls” by Caitlin R. Kiernan, “Hwang’s Billion Brilliant Daughters” by Alice Sola Kim, “Ej-Es” by Nancy Kress. Nonfiction: “Feature Interview: Chris Avellone” by Matt London, “The Art and History of Body Modification” by Lori St. Leone, “Five Freaky Futures Your Kids Might Face” by Genevieve Valentine, “God Spots” by The Evil Monkey. Cover: Kai Lim

Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight: Kai Lim

Basically, the image revolves around the theme of “cavemen in space.” It was a concept I was toying with for some time. The idea behind it is that in the future, our civilization is growing rapidly, and expeditionary forces or “harvest fleets” are sent out to claim entire worlds, hunting and harvesting alien species for resources and food in order to fuel our expanding race. The twist is that for such an advanced race, our culture and methods are ironically primitive—where cavemen used to hunt wooly mammoths with spears, futuristic hunters now hunt twenty-foot tall aliens with powered-armor and spearguns instead.

Science Fiction

Standard Loneliness Package

Root canal is one fifty, give or take, depending on who’s doing it to you. A migraine is two hundred. Not that I get the money. The company gets it. What I get is twelve dollars an hour, plus reimbursement for painkillers. Not that they work. I feel pain for money. Other people’s pain. Physical, emotional, you name it.

Standard Loneliness Package

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Charles Yu

By placing the story in India, I was hoping to do two things. First, I wanted to evoke a near-future, fairly plausible world, which I hoped would heighten the emotional realism of what is, admittedly, a not-very-plausible premise. The other idea I had was that by setting it in India, which is, of course, a major outsourcing center in our real world, the story might be able to explore some of the socio-economic and psychological consequences of exporting our crappiest jobs to people on the other side of the world, to wonder a little bit about the limits of outsourcing.

Nonfiction

Interview: Chris Avellone, Game Designer, Fallout: New Vegas

“Respect” and “dungeonmaster” are two words I never thought I’d see in the same sentence in any publication, so your question has fulfilled one of my lifetime goals. As for respect, you’re usually being reviled by either your players (even as they ask when the next session is going to be, sometimes with veiled threats) or the community at large in high school, college, or in the working world, and your dating pool slowly and surely shrinks to the radius of a Lilliputian dime.

Science Fiction

Faces in Revolving Souls

Sylvia steps quickly into the empty elevator, and the others follow her—the woman who is mostly a leopard, the fat man with thick brown fur and eyes like a raven, the pretty teenage girl with stubby antlers and skin the color of ripe cranberries—all of them filing in, one by one, like the passengers of some lunatic Noah’s ark.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Caitlín R. Kiernan

We’re already seeing the emergence of fringe groups who call themselves Otherkin, or therianthropes, or parahumanists. But, I think the point is, there are humans who do not see themselves as humans.

Nonfiction

The Art and History of Body Modification

In every group of humans in known and recorded history, there have been members who modified their bodies. The reasons behind their choices vary widely, even within a single society.

Science Fiction

Hwang’s Billion Brilliant Daughters

He wishes he could find Grishkov and scream at him, but Grishkov is dead, of course. He died sometime that night, the first night Hwang slept and jumped through days, years, decades.

Hwang’s Billion Brilliant Daughters by Alice Sola Kim

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Alice Sola Kim

I wanted the structure of the story to mimic the time-jumps that Hwang endures over and over again, in order to evoke at least a ghost of that instability, that sense of unease. I also had some ideas that I wasn’t sure how to make use of individually.

Nonfiction

Five Freaky Futures Your Kids Might Face

Our actions now will profoundly change the literal and metaphorical landscape for the next generation. Unfortunately, we’re pretty sure that the future is the last place anybody wants to be.

Science Fiction

Ej-Es

“There are skeletons throughout the city, some in homes and some collapsed in what seem to be public spaces. Whatever the disease was, it struck fast.”

Ej-Es by Nancy Kress

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Nancy Kress

Halfway through writing “Ej-es,” I emailed Janis Ian to tell her that I had turned her ballad of love and longing into a story about a retro-virus in the brain. She emailed back, “How did you know?”

Nonfiction

God Spots

So, in other words, you’re curled up naked on the couch with your new Na’vi hottie which, alas, is really just a bowl of blue Jello. This phenomenon is a well-documented finding in the scientific literature. (Well, maybe not the part about the Jello.)

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