Art, from Ice to Fire

http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=6627

Some new artwork for you, scavenged from my last bout of ego-surfing, because I’m holding off on fiblets until I have something to actually announce; and because any comments I’d make on the ongoing immolation of tar-sands boomtown Fort McMurray by (increasingly less-unseasonable) forest fire activity would be so laden with irony as to be insensitive to the 88,000 who’ve had to flee.

So let’s stick with self-absorption for the mo.

First up, Dmitriy Vishnev’s absolutely glorious rendering of “The Things”, which is going onto the cover of Beyond the Rift‘s upcoming Russian edition:

BtR-DmitriyVishnevskiy

 

Followed by some Rifters fan art scraped from the web:

I don"t know who "catchfiya" is, beyond an Australian artist, but man, I really like this: it"s almost a stained-glass window of the Meltdown Madonna

I don’t know who “catchfiya” is, beyond an Australian artist, but man, I really like this: it’s almost a stained-glass window of the Meltdown Madonna

I know even less about Eric He, because I can"t find any art site he might have set up (I screen-grabbed these off his twitter feed). Nice alien rendering of Lenie and her spirit-echinoderm.

I know even less about Eric He, because I can’t find any art site he might have set up (I screen-grabbed these next two off his twitter feed). Nice alien rendering of Lenie and her spirit-echinoderm.

Really original and evocative rifter aesthetic here. Obviously these guys have been down there for awhile. Love the mouth apparatus.

Really original and evocative rifter aesthetic here. Obviously these guys have been down there for awhile. Love the mouth apparatus.

(And of course, if either of these folks would rather that their stuff not be conscripted into service of the ‘crawl, I will take it down forthwith.)

Moving forward, through time: some Blindsight illos from a— shall we say a range of aesthetic perspectives.

I don"t know whether these are real or not. They appear to be audiobook covers by Thomas Jaworsky, but if so no one"s sent me any comp copies. Not that it matters. I like "em anyway.

I don’t know whether these are real or not. They appear to be audiobook covers by Thomas Jaworsky, but if so no one’s sent me any comp copies.
Not that it matters. I like ’em anyway.

I don"t even know where this came from. I don"t know who did it. Whoever it was, we"re probably both in some kind of copyright violation

I don’t even know where this came from. I don’t know who did it. Whoever it was, we’re probably both in some kind of copyright violation

I don’t even know where this came from. I don’t know who did it. Whoever it was, we’re probably both in some kind of copyright violation

And finally. Finally:

dan-ghiordanescu-watts2

Remember this guy? The guy who did all the awesome concept art for that ill-fated Sunflowers project?  Well, in between his recent travels around the world, Dan Ghiordanescu managed to squeeze out a couple new paintings— and I’m pretty much speechless at the preceding evocation of the following passage from “Giants”:

We fall towards ice. Ice falls towards fire. Both spill through the link and spread across the back of my skull in glorious terrifying first-person. Orders of magnitude aren’t empty abstractions in here: they’re life-size, you feel them in your gut. Surtr may be small to a textbook — at seven million kilometers across, it’s barely big enough to get into the giant’s club — but that doesn’t mean shit when you meet it face to face. That’s not a star out there: that’s the scorching edge of all creation, that’s heat-death incarnate. Its breath stinks of left-over lithium from the worlds it’s already devoured. And the dark blemish marching across its face isn’t just a planet. It’s a melting hellscape twice the size of Uranus, it’s frozen methane and liquid hydrogen and a core hot and heavy enough to bake diamonds. Already it’s coming apart before my eyes, any moons long since lost, the tattered remnants of a ring system shredding around it like a rotting halo. Storms boil across its face; aurorae flicker madly at both poles. A supercyclone pinwheels at the center of the dark side, fed by turbulent streamers fleeing from light into shadow. Its stares back at me like the eye of a blind god.

Holy fuck, did Dan ever nail it. Every time I look at these pictures the bitterness wells up anew, that Eriophora— for all its galaxy-spanning travels never made it as far as a video game. What glorious mission levels these could be.

Dan did another one, too, but I think I want to hold onto it for the time being. It’ll make a better fit with an upcoming fiblet.

Anyway.  All this stuff should be up in the gallery within the next day or so. I just wanted to post here fast, so I can get my exercises out of the way before the pones get home from school. They tend to mock me whenever they catch me trying to stay in shape.

Fuck.

Too late.

Ad-A O’Riley.

http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=6615

So, I’m off to gear up for the inaugural night of Ad Astra, but I thought I’d leave the rest of you with a fragment of a (sadly unrealized) science fiction opus about VR, biofeedback, and the addictive properties of targeted music (although this particular fragment was apparently about some farmer). “Baba O’Riley”, from the ill-fated Lifehouse project. (As was “Won’t Get Fooled Again—which, of course, they also played):

 

Thanks to Dave Olsen, and to the Meez for pointing me to his link. I do not know this Olsen dude, but judging by the angle he was sitting about 5-10m to the right of us. Also, his camera is way better than mine.

If you’re more in the mood for instrumentals, check out this bit from Quadrophenia.

Honestly, it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever experienced. I can only pray that I’m half as spry at 72.

I’d call that a Bargain…

baba

Ad Astra and the Battle of Agincourt

http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=6599

You know those dreams where suddenly you’re back in high school and it’s finals week and it’s just dawned on you that you never went to any of your classes? I just had one of those. Except I was awake.

It was actually my first high-school appearance since a disastrous encounter with a bunch of bovine cheerleaders at one of those “alternative” schools, back around the turn of the century. (That actually turned out okay in the long run; the student who’d coaxed me into appearing eventually grew up, got his own PhD, and now provides me with free drugs.) This week’s iteration turned out somewhat better; for one thing, the science teacher who’d recommended me for the gig (and who, as it turns out, is a regular here on the ‘crawl) brought me a bag of homemade cookies to mellow me out before I started.

Agincourt students did this. I was still reading Star Trek books when I was their age.

Agincourt students did this. I was still reading Star Trek books when I was their age.

I gotta admit, there was some apprehension up front. I’m not bad at public speaking— even won the occasional award for it, in both scientific and popular arenas— but high school crowds are something different. And these guys had the potential to be an especially hard crowd. Agincourt Collegiate is the only secondary educational institution I know of with a functional space program for Lego People, and science/engineering isn’t even their star program. Plus I was talking to a mixed audience of science and creative writing students; target one demographic, you risk losing the other.

Honestly, I think they wrote this off as a hoax. Like the moon landing.Maybe they"re right.

Honestly, I think they wrote him off as a hoax. Like the moon landing.
Maybe they’re right.

As it turned out I needn’t have worried. The pictures of Banana the cat, and of me picking maggots out of the giant hole in my leg, seemed to go over well with both groups. (The slide showing details of US Patent #6,356,440 B1 didn’t provoke quite so many gasps of amazement, but I think they appreciated it in context.) I’m not entirely sure they believed the bit about Reagan. Based on their expressions I think at least some of them regard him as a myth. I can’t say I blame them; looking back, anyone who believed that there was no race problem in Ammurrica, that trees caused air pollution, and that eighties-era technology was up for the task of building a geosynchronous network of orbital lasers, particle-beam cannons, and autonomous battle computers was obviously way too sane, too down-to-earth, to have succeeded in US politics.

Anyway, I got out of it alive, and relieved, and actually pretty pleased with the reaction (apparently I was “inspiring” to several in the audience). And now I have to delve into a couple of other myths even less plausible than the Legend of the Gipper. Now, I must turn my attention to Ad Astra, the local con (if by “local” you mean way-the-hell-up-in-fucking-Richmond-Hill) that I’ll be attending this weekend. It’s vaguely possible I might finally get to meet Tom Doherty, the guy behind Tor Books and one of this year’s GoH’s (although it’s more likely I’ll just end up drinking with Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory, two of the other GoHs and the BUG’s publishers).

Of course, there’s also the possibility the whole thing’s just another cruel hoax— I note that two days before ignition, I’m still not listed on the panelist page. But they’ve told me, at any rate, that I will in fact be sitting on panels. And they’ve told me that said panels will look like this:

  • April 29, 9-10 pm: Cropsey Slender Man and the Angels of Mons: the Roots of Religion and Folklore – Newmarket

Fantasy and even SF have been influenced by folklore and legend, and the processes that generate monsters and heroes have not stopped. From Cargo Cults to wartime angels, from Urban Legends manifesting as reality to Internet creations inspiring killers, we look at the ongoing processes of mythmaking and how they might inspire and influence contemporary writers. Alisse Lee Goldenburg, JD Deluzio, Peter Watts.

  • April 30, 10-11 am: Bio-Technology and Transhumanism – Newmarket

Vernor Vinge wrote about the technological singularity: “Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.” The Transhuman debate is alive and well with lively discussion on techno-utopia, life-extension, super-intelligence, immortality, and virtual bodies. Recent films such as Lucy, Transcendence, Elysium, Ex Machina and others touch on the debate. Ray Kurzweil extols a Transhumanist future of immortals free of disease—perhaps even of biology. And what about those who may be left behind? Join the debate. Will you be a MOSH? Nina Munteanu, Peter Watts

  • April 30, 1-2pm: Modern Anxieties and Post-Apocalyptic LandscapesMarkham A

Zombies. Outbreaks. Warfare. Environmental cataclysm. Sometimes all of the above. In recent years, post-apocalypses have become all the rage. But why? Why are we so interested as a culture in exploring the end of Western civilization in the 21st century? How do the post-apocalypses we create reflect real fears and anxieties in our own time? In this panel, we’ll explore the link between post-apocalyptic fiction and worlds and modern events. Alyx Dellamonica, Catherine Asaro, Naomi Foyle, Peter Watts, Stephen Kotowych.

  • May 1, 11am-12pm: The Rise of Environmental FictionRichmond B

The rise of environmental fiction, both in literature and film, has spawned several sub-genres such as climate fiction, eco-thrillers, eco-mystery, eco-punk, and eco-romance. Is eco-fiction part of science fiction? In Barbara Kingsolver’s 2012 novel Flight Behavior, climate change plays a major role in a story about people’s beliefs and actions. Environmental catastrophe plays a major role in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam and Ian McEwan’s Solar. Is eco-fiction simply a new fad or does it reflect a cultural awakening to current environmental issues? What role does eco-fiction play in storytelling and defining ourselves. Who are its readers and why? Should eco-fiction educate? How can an eco-fiction writer prevent it from becoming polemic? Douglas Smith, Hayden Trenholm, Nina Munteanu, Peter Watts.

So, great. Now I have to figure out what the hell a MOSH is.  Some kind of pit, if memory serves…

But first, I have to decide what Jethro Tull shirt to wear to the Who concert tonight.