‘Alex’s Sci-Fi World’ is a beautiful piece of VR animation

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Hand-painted VR animation isn't new. Oculus developed Quill, a 3D painting package for the Rift, back in 2015 for its now defunct Story Studio. It was released to the public in Dec. 2016 and updated with a slew of filmmaking features three months ago…
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Sci-Fi Author Made Spookily Accurate Modern Smartphone Predictions in 1999

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There are no two ways about it, 1999 was a vastly different time. There were no driverless cars, A.I. or augmented reality. And, notably, it was a full eight years before the first iPhone was unveiled by Steve Jobs on a stage in San Francisco. Few of us back then could have guessed where technology […]
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Amazon may spend $1 billion to adapt hit Chinese sci-fi novels

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Amazon's bid to create worldwide blockbuster shows may extend well beyond very familiar Western stories like Lord of the Rings. Investors speaking to the Financial Times claimed that Amazon is in talks that would let it spend up to $ 1 billion for th…
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A prisoner is given a deal he can’t refuse in an excerpt from S.J. Morden’s sci-fi novel One Way

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Science fiction as a genre has long been obsessed with the possibility of reaching Mars, for both expeditions, such as Andy Weir’s novel The Martian, and colonizations, like in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy. A new novel, One Way, by S.J. Morden, falls in the middle: we’ve reached Mars, but now, we need to figure out how to build a civilization.

In Morden’s future, that monumental task is placed upon humanity, and governments have contracted companies to begin building the colonies for eventual habitation. While machines will do part of the work, some are willing to cut corners by sending a team of prisoners to help, putting their unused skills to work. Frank Kittridge is a convicted murderer and one of the eight sent to Mars. Each…

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Badass Sci-Fi Writer Ursula K. Le Guin Also Has a Critic-Approved Album

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Movie soundtracks are cool. Know what’s really cool? Book soundtracks. For great books, written by groundbreaking authors, who also participated in the making of the soundtracks, which are genuinely, truly great, and also, sounded like nothing you’ve ever heard before. And if you’ve never heard of such a thing, that’s because it rarely happens.

Except: In 1985, science-fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin published a novel called Always Coming Home. That would have been enough to satisfy her fans, you’d think, but as an added bonus, she bundled the book with an album on cassette: Music and Poetry of the Kesh.

Le Guin passed away in January at the age of 88, but her legacy lives on — this week, the label Freedom To Spend reissued that album in two extremely convenient formats, CD and vinyl.

In Always Coming Home, Le Guin introduces readers to the Kesh, a fictional tribe living in Northern California in the distant future, centuries from now. To immerse the reader in the world of these imagined people, Le Guin composed the book as a multimedia work, filled with poems, plays, illustrations, and even recipes.

But Le Guin wanted readers to literally “hear the music” of the culture she had created. For that, she enlisted the help of composer Todd Barton to create Music and Poetry of the Kesh. Like the freewheeling book from which it draws inspiration, the album isn’t restricted to any one genre or even traditional instrumentation. It provides the soundtrack to the Kesh culture through ambient field recordings, homemade instruments, and spoken-word poetry.

Music and Poetry of the Kesh draws from the past to tell the story of our potential future. And for listeners new and old, it sounds just as remarkable today as it did three decades ago, when it was first released — if it can score a coveted Best New Reissue rating from notoriously harsh music criticism site Pitchfork, odds are, it’s probably good enough for you. And if nothing else, remember: It’s a book soundtrack. ‘Justifies the price of admission alone.

The post Badass Sci-Fi Writer Ursula K. Le Guin Also Has a Critic-Approved Album appeared first on Futurism.

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Hands-on with the sci-fi game that falls apart as you play

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You're never going to play Clunker Junker in your living room or on your desktop PC, no matter how many GPUs it has. Hardware is the issue here, but it's not a matter of processing power — Clunker Junker requires two LED-adorned arm cranks, plus fou…
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A free anthology collects stories from 2017’s new sci-fi and fantasy writers

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Each year, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer honors a new writer in the science fiction and fantasy field: an author who has professionally published a short story or novel in the past two years. Last year, Too Like The Lightning author Ada Palmer took home the award.

Last year, author Jake Kerr compiled The Event Horizon 2017 anthology, a massive two-volume, 400,000 word ebook which collected stories from 75 authors. This year’s anthology contains 59 stories, and like last year’s edition, it’s free for the taking in ePub, MOBI, or PDF formats, while you can pick up a print edition for $ 15 on Amazon. Both editions will only be available through July 15th, 2018.

Image: Jake Kerr

In his introduction to…

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‘Exospecies’ is an Upcoming Sci-Fi Turn-Based Strategy Game that Needs Beta Testers

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One game that crossed the ol’ TouchArcade news desk that caught my attention is one called Exospecies from developer Inductor Software. It’s a turn-based strategy game with an emphasis on online multiplayer as well as numerous unit types that can be combined to create various results similar to combining cards in a CCG, and Inductor even describes Exospecies as “Chess meets Magic: The Gathering.” They are also hoping to create a game that’s highly conducive to mobile play. It’s currently iPhone-only and plays in portrait orientation, and they have a feature they’re calling “Simul-turn” which let’s both players take their turns at the same time, so it allows for a quicker pace while still being turn-based. There will also be an extensive level editor so you can create your own levels to play on. All of this is on display in the trailer for Exospecies.

As you can see, Exospecies has an art style that reminds me a lot of “sci-fi computer game from the ’90s” and I actually mean that as a compliment. It’s not quite as polished as the types of multiplayer-centric “strategy” games the big companies put out, but that also means it’s not that same generic free to play game art style that seems to be everywhere, which is quite refreshing. This game has a rad personality. If Exospecies looks like your cup of tea, it’s currently in open beta, so all you have to do is visit the official website to fill out your details and sign up for beta access. With its emphasis on mobile accessibility and online play, and sheer variety due to the many unit types, ability combining, and level creation, I think Exospecies has some real potential to be a hit.

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Mind-reading AI isn’t sci-fi anymore… and it’s just getting started

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Despite its overwhelming success, the human brain peaked about two million years ago. Lucky for us, computers are helping us understand our brains better, but there may be some consequences to giving AI a skeleton key to our mind. A team of Japanese researchers recently conducted a series of experiments in creating an end-to-end solution for training a neural network to interpret fMRI scans. Where previous work achieved similar results, the difference in the new method involves how the AI is trained. An fMRI is a non-invasive and safe brain scan similar to a normal MRI. What differs is the…

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Autonomous Transport Pods Make For a Sci-Fi Commute in Dubai

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Autonomous Transport Pods

Visiting Dubai can seem like stepping into the future. It’s home to man-made islands, the world’s first 3D printed office, and firefighters with jetpacks. Now the city wants residents to commute in sci-fi style, too – recently, the city unveiled and tested two autonomous transport pods, each designed to ferry up to six people.

At the end of February, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) featured these two pods attached to each other other and running around one of the city’s main streets. Built in Italy by the U.S.-based company Next Future Transportation, the cube-shaped autonomous pods run on electricity, with a top speed of 80 k/h (roughly 50 mph).

These pods are part of the city’s 2030 Dubai Future Accelerators program, with a goal of making 25 percent of daily transportation fully automated. In order to do this, the RTA will spend $ 410,000 (1.5 million dirhams) for further research and development of the pods.

“The goal is to develop these two research vehicles,” Khaled al-Awadhi, Automated Collection Systems director at the RTA, told Reuters. “These tests are aimed at developing the performance of these vehicles.”

Transporting the Future

The plan, according to the RTA, will be to initially deploy the pods on pre-programmed routes. Eventually, they would become accessible using a mobile app for home pickups, like a ride-hailing service.

Next Future’s autonomous transport pods are just one of the latest transport technologies Dubai has been interested in. City officials have been working on a number of Hyperloop projects, including building a network that connects major cities.

Meanwhile, Dubai’s other autonomous transportation efforts include testing a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) ride-hailing service, as well as a driverless taxi service on land powered by Tesla Model S and X vehicles. Dubai also funded a startup working to perfect a technology that would allow driverless cars to “communicate” with each other, and with smart road infrastructure.

Dubai RTA authorities have not given an exact date as to when Next’s autonomous cube pods will hit the roads. For now, officials have said they aim to iron out their plans for the pods by the end of 2018 or by early 2019.

Disclaimer: The Dubai Future Foundation works in collaboration with Futurism and is one of our sponsors.

The post Autonomous Transport Pods Make For a Sci-Fi Commute in Dubai appeared first on Futurism.

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