In the 1660s the Irish chemist Robert Boyle made a list of 24 wishes: a page or two of solutions to all the challenges of 17th century life that he hoped might come about in the not too distant future. They ranged from the explorative: ‘the art of flying’, or the practical: ‘the acceleration of the production of…
What would Herman Melville have made of Larry Niven’s huge space mega-engineering project? You don’t have to wonder any longer.
The founder of Facebook is reading a book every two weeks, and discussing it with the Facebook community. And his next selection is The Player of Games, one of the amazing Culture novels by Iain M. Banks.
There’s no such thing as a perfect book — but some books feel as though they could be just about perfect, if they didn’t have one nagging problem. And sometimes, the most wonderful books have the most glaring shortfalls. Here are 10 amazing novels that are each marred by a fatal flaw.
We all know that economists love science fiction — especially Isaac Asimov fan Paul Krugman. But science fiction and fantasy can also help teach ordinary people about the Dismal Science. Here are 22 great science fiction and fantasy stories that can help you make sense of economics.
Iain M. Banks is one of my favorite science fiction writers, and we've done a guide to his Culture novels, but I still learned some new stuff from this in-depth profile of him in Kirkus Reviews by io9 contributor Andrew Liptak.
It's okay to disagree with your friends or loved ones about certain things. But still, some things are sacred. Which science fiction or fantasy book is so essential, you'd refuse to be friends with (or to date) someone who didn't like it?
One of the most alluring dreams in science fiction is the post-scarcity society — a place or time where nobody goes without, because technology has improved. But when you dig deeper, most post-scarcity worlds still have some scarcity, because otherwise it's hard to tell a story about them. See for yourself!
Every few years, there's another essay insisting that irony is ruining culture. Hipsters and postmodernism have created an insincere world where nothing means anything. But you never hear anybody insisting that irony has ruined science fiction. That's because irony is part of the creative life-force of the genre.
A lot of science fiction's most quotable authors do seem to write a ton of aphorisms — Robert A. Heinlein comes to mind, for example. But over at the Guardian, there's a discussion of the greatest sentences in genre fiction, and the question arose: are the best sentences in genre mostly aphoristic?
Sadly, it's not a novel — but it's still pretty exciting to have one last glimpse inside the mind of the legendary author. A collection of Banks' poetry, co-written by The Night Sessions author Ken MacLeod and edited by MacLeod, will be published on Feb. 16, 2015, which would have been Banks' 61st birthday.
So, your friendly neighborhood post-apocalyptic fake mailman has been hanging out in this place called Bridge City, which I swear to god is run by Tom Petty. He won’t admit it, but he keeps singing “Free Fallin’” and it’s driving me goddamned crazy. If I don’t hear “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” soon I’m throwing him off…
Iain M. Banks has joined a select group of science fiction creators who've received the ultimate tribute, of having a celestial body named after him. The asteroid named Iainbanks is orbiting the sun in the main asteroid belt, every 3.94 years.
Just a month before his passing, Iain M. Banks did a final interview with the Guardian, and it's a must-read in general. In particular, he answers one of the great longstanding questions about his Culture novels: why didn't he ever write a novel about the fall of the Culture, his massive spacefaring civilization?
Over the weekend, author Iain M. Banks died of cancer — just two months after announcing that he had less than a year to live. He left behind some of the greatest works of science fiction ever written. Here are eleven Banksian rules of good SF writing, that we would do well to remember long into the future.
We knew this day was coming, but we hoped that it wouldn't be so soon. Iain M. Banks, author of the Culture series, The Algebraist, and a host of other novels, both genre and non-genre, has passed away.
Iain M. Banks has had two astoundingly great careers — with the middle initial, he's one of the most influential and brilliant science fiction authors of the past 25 years. Without it, he's a great literary author. And some people believe he did the science fiction to subsidize his literary work. If anything, it's the…
It's summer movie season, the time when blockbuster films come out every week and we pit Vin Diesel against Wolverine. But how do you keep that cineplex excitement alive when you're at home on the couch? With books! Here are 10 science fiction novels that pack more non-stop thrills than Fast & Furious 6. Really.
Iain M. Banks is without a doubt one of the greatest writers of the turn of the century, both for his science fiction Culture series and his literary thrillers. He's one of the architects of an idea that we take for granted in scifi now: the post-human who lives forever, aided by artificial intelligences, in a galaxy…