Science fiction is an incubator for imaginative minds to create visions that help us to glimpse not only the future, but also something about ourselves in the present. Fueled by the extrapolation of 'what is' into 'what can be', science fiction transports us beyond the horizon of our current technologies enabling us to observe the possible incarnations of scientific progress and to experience and appreciate the many ways this may impact upon us. For example, George Orwell's classic work, 1984, introduced the notion of an omnipresent 'Big Brother' and served as a focal point for discussion about our attitudes, perceptions, hopes and fears about technology, society, and how they intertwine. Also, the concept of rules of ethical conduct for robots was introduced as 'Three Laws of Robotics' by U.S. author Isaac Asimov in his book Runaround originally published in 1942.
In 2016, a machine beat the world's best (human) player at the ancient strategy game Go, which up to then was said to be too intuitive for a computer. AlphaGo's victory was doubly stunning because it taught itself Go by trial and error. Does the fact that computers can now learn mean that artificial intelligence (AI) has moved from science fiction to reality? The story of AlphaGo is told in a specially isolated display, almost like a little temple, at the heart of the Barbican's sprawling survey of the past, present and future of machines that can think for themselves. It's a show that's sorely needed.
Extraterrestrial life, that familiar science-fiction trope, that kitschy fantasy, that CGI nightmare, has become a matter of serious discussion, a'risk factor', a'scenario'. How has ET gone from sci-fi fairytale to a serious scientific endeavour modelled by macroeconomists, funded by fiscal conservatives and discussed by theologians? Because, following a string of remarkable discoveries over the past two decades, the idea of alien life is not as far-fetched as it used to seem. Discovery now seems inevitable and possibly imminent. Extraterrestrial life, that familiar science-fiction trope, that kitschy fantasy, that CGI nightmare, has become a matter of serious discussion, a'risk factor', a'scenario'.
The Hugo Awards are some of the most important prizes in genre fiction, including science fiction and fantasy. Among past winners we see Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Neil Gaiman, and most recently, N.K. Jemisin, who made history for winning Best Novel three years in a row for every book in her Broken Earth series. This year, nestled among nominees for novels, short stories, and even individual episodes of The Good Place and Doctor Who, is an unexpected contender for the Best Related Work category: the primarily women-run fan fiction website Archive of Our Own. Archive of Our Own (often known as "AO3" for short) is an online platform for fan works-- creative work based on existing media like novels, books, and video games, produced by fans of the originals. The nearly 5 million works archived there--4,690,000 as of this writing--represent almost 2 million registered users and countless more who visit the site every day, consuming content and leaving comments.
Most of Claire Denis' High Life takes place on a spaceship far outside the solar system. Its inhabitants, who include Robert Pattinson and André 3000, are convicts, audacious men and women who evaded Earthly prison time by volunteering for a kamikaze mission to gather data about distant black holes. Confined on the ship, the prisoners wander among a cluster of spaces: dimly lit bedrooms and corridors; a lush greenhouse garden; a lab; and finally an austere room known as the "fuckbox," where Juliette Binoche's doctor enjoys time with a severe-looking dildo apparatus. Slate sat down with Denis to discuss how she designed the film's elegantly lo-fi aesthetic, including her "pro-sex" approach to the fuckbox. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Apparently, Downton Abbey fans aren't the only ones eager to drop in on that stately British manor. As revealed in the movie's first trailer, shown at CinemaCon Wednesday, the story centers on a very special visit from the king and queen. SEE ALSO: 'Downton Abbey' cast and crew document the #LastDaysofDownton with some choice selfies Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski teased that the Downton Abbey film would "pick up where the series left off," with beloved familiar characters and "special new visitors." The trailer takes a second to soak in the familiar sights and sounds of Downton Abbey before showing how things have changed: Lady Edith pulls up with her family in a car, prompting Lord Grantham to remark, "No maid, no valet, no nanny, even!" The family soon receives word that the king and queen plan to pay a visit, and they and their staff spend much of the rest of the trailer preparing for the occasion -- "a royal luncheon, a parade, and a dinner!" exclaims Mrs. Patmore -- when they aren't getting tangled up in their own personal dramas, that is.
Claire Denis is a filmmaker's filmmaker. Though the French writer-director has never had a commercial breakthrough in the U.S., she has been a steady presence in international cinema circles from her debut feature "Chocolat" in 1988 through such titles as 1999's "Beau Travail," 2010's "White Material," starring Isabelle Huppert, and "Let the Sunshine In," which starred Juliette Binoche and was released in the U.S. last year. In part, Denis is so well-regarded because she remains so unpredictable. There is no signature style to her work and it remains surprising with each and every film. Her latest, "High Life," which opens in New York and Los Angeles this week via A24, arrives with higher than usual commercial expectations.
In recent months the science fiction world has grown increasingly political, with dozens of writers contributing stories to anthologies such as Resist: Tales from a Future Worth Fighting Against and If This Goes On. Another prominent example is A People's Future of the United States, edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams. "I wanted to use my position as an editor to try to help magnify the voices of the people that we invited to participate in this anthology," Adams says in Episode 354 of the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast. "To sort of shout back at the Trump administration, and also to try to imagine some new futures that might help us figure out how to get back to normal from here." The book draws inspiration (and its title) from Howard Zinn's counterculture classic A People's History of the United States, and like that earlier work, A People's Future of the United States tries to present a wide variety of marginalized perspectives.
If you need proof that kids these days are alright and amazing, simply cast your eyes on the students at New Jersey's North Bergen High School who put on a stage play version of the classic sci-fi horror film Alien. The play was complete with all the trappings of the film, including the infamous facehugger alien, the stomach-bursting scene, and, yes, the large, menacing xenomorph that has come to haunt the nightmares of generations of moviegoers. And it all looked amazing. The school put on a pair of performances for the play in recent days and photos and videos have gone viral quickly, being shared all across platforms like Reddit and Twitter. Last night the North Bergen High School in New Jersey put on'Alien' as their school play and it looks absolutely incredible.#hrgiger#Alien#rushmore
Ang Lee hasn't given up on high-frame-rate cinema despite the expensive misfire that was Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. The two-time Oscar winner is shooting his upcoming film, sci-fi assassin thriller Gemini Man, in 3D at 120 frames-per-second (fps) and 4K resolution. There's just one problem: theater chains may not be able to screen it in the format. To ensure it gets a wide release that matches Lee's intended vision, Paramount is writing to cinema owners with instructions on how to bring their projector equipment up to speed, reports The Playlist. Paramount's letter includes directions on how to conduct a HFR test and describes the 120 fps-4K-3D combo as the "most pristine and immersive format" for showing the film.
The Intelligence Explosion is a hilariously witty short sci fi film about AI ethics. How can we prevent a robot AI from turning evil? Can humans be a good role model for AI? Synopsis: It's 2027 and Mental Endeavours Ltd has a problem with their flagship robot Günther. How do you program an intelligent machine not to annihilate humanity? And if its intelligence is skyrocketing faster than anyone could have predicted, are they about to run out of time?