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Science Fiction & Fantasy







February 2017 ISSUE

Frodo Is Dead: Worldbuilding and The Science of Magic

In 1966, Time magazine asked, “Is God Dead?” on its infamous April cover. Around the same time, a piece of graffiti began appearing in New York subways: Frodo Lives! It was an interesting crossroads for America—God seemed to be fading out of the lives of many Americans, while Tolkien’s masterpiece was just starting to find [...]

January 2017 ISSUE

The Evolved Brain

In 2014, the psychologist Gary Marcus from New York University gathered a book of essays by the world’s leading neuroscientists, including multiple Nobel prize winners. From this experience, he drew one main lesson: we have no unifying idea about how the brain works.
However, Dr. Marcus and his essayists missed something. We comprehend much more than [...]

December 2016 ISSUE

Bugs from Outer Space & Invasive Earth: Planetary Protection

We have seen this scenario in science fiction a million times: Scientists uncover an alien organism previously buried under ice, or bring bugs from another celestial body to Earth. Before we know it, an apocalypse unveils: It was a deadly pathogen threatening to wipe out all life on Earth! This clichéd scenario is far removed [...]

November 2016 ISSUE

Kubrick to Scott: Relevancy and Realism in Cinematic Science Fiction

By the time 2001: A Space Odyssey arrived, everything had changed.
Behind the Iron Curtain the Soviets launched their own science fiction boom, one far more realistic and adult-oriented than ours.
Pavel Klushantsev’s 1958 documentary, Doroga k zvezdam (Road to the Stars), strongly influenced Kubrick. It starts with a brief history lesson, then moves into the future [...]

October 2016 ISSUE

Méliès to Bonestell: Relevancy and Realism in Cinematic Science Fiction

The future looks a lot more real than it used to.
Or at least that’s the impression given by movies like Gravity and The Martian. For over a century filmmakers have wowed audiences with voyages to space. Unfortunately, most of them look silly now—and even fewer would hold an audience’s attention for ninety minutes.
Will these [...]

September 2016 ISSUE

Space Is the Place: The Science Fiction Pulse of '80s Electro Music

“I am a computer,” says the voice. It isn’t human. Robotic and coldly electronic, it sounds like something conjured by the eeriest science fiction nightmare. Underneath it hovers a mechanical hum that might be the ambient noise of a spaceship, or an android brain, or even cyberspace. “I have been programmed to dance,” the voice [...]

August 2016 ISSUE

Frankenstein's Soldier: David Morrell and the Creation of Rambo

Monsters are constructed from the passions of their age. In Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein, Dr. Victor Frankenstein creates life out of corpses using arcane science that defies the natural world. The creature comes to life but is an abomination to its creator, who abandons it to a world that will despise him. When Victor [...]

July 2016 ISSUE

Paradise Lost: A History of Fantasy and the Otherworld

If primal fear forms one pole of the fantasy genre, paradise forms the other. But from the tales that built the genre to the writers who resurrected it after each of its deaths, the narrative that plays itself over and over across time and geography is one of paradise lost. To understand the history of [...]

June 2016 ISSUE

The Science Fiction Future of the Microbiome

You are wheeled into a hospital after a stroke. The doctors stabilize you and monitor you for a couple days. The latest treatments are at their disposal, so they use bacteria therapy to stimulate the growth of a diverse microbial ecosystem: feed you 3,3-dimethyl-1-butanol (DMB) to regulate trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) levels, nourish certain microbiota to [...]

May 2016 ISSUE

Destination: Venus

From antiquity, Venus has been watched from afar. Often praised for beauty, its close position to Earth and its reflective atmosphere made it stand out amongst the stars. Like Mars, Venus has played into our stories, becoming a destination for many science fiction authors. Unlike Mars, however, the planet has never quite matched that of [...]