Magical Words Link Roundup 5-2-2017


While apocalyptic beliefs about the end of the world have, historically, been the subject of religious speculation, they are increasingly common among some of the leading scientists today.

If the last decade has proven anything, it’s that people love a good zombie apocalypse. Something about the mindlessness of a shambling horde of undead just feels right to us right now—almost as if we know, somehow, the end of the world is nigh, and it isn’t going to be pretty.

Physicists have come up with a plan to build a real-life time machine that they say is mathematically consistent with known physics. And here’s the best part: they’ve named the machine a “Traversable Acausal Retrograde Domain in Space-time,” the acronym for which is actually TARDIS.

The Circle, the film based on the novel by Dave Eggers, presents a dystopian view of the direction Silicon Valley is taking the world.

One of the most exciting new science fiction shows on the Web right now isn’t exactly fun. The Handmaid’s Tale, currently streaming its first three episodes on Hulu, may repulse you, incense you, or just make you cry. But like a good workout that makes your muscles burn, the hurt of watching this series eventually results in something great.

Recently, Seanan McGuire and J.Y. Yang have talked on Twitter about copyeditors making changes which fundamentally alter the story, and not for the better. The change in question: redacting the use of the singular they—used by nonbinary characters—to whichever binary gender the copyeditor felt like substituting.

While finding biosignatures on places like Mars would be incredible, perhaps we’re overlooking something critical in the search for life in our solar system, specifically intelligent life. Take that, tiny microbes.

Judith Tarr says, “Lately I’ve been chewing over the question of horses (and animals in general) and human speech. I never liked talking-animal stories, but I never really understood why. Now I believe I do.”

Zapping an opponent may be closely associated with science fiction, but that doesn’t mean all the weapons of science fiction are guns that do some kind of zapping.

I mean, maybe Gal Gadot’s had a Jimmy Kimmel appearance that flew under the radar or something, but the fact that it was Jimmy Kimmel basically means that nobody will ever know about it because that requires watching Jimmy Kimmel to begin with.

Assassins are ubiquitous throughout fantasyland. Sharp-eyed readers (or even dull-eyed ones) will notice that their hooded forms often adorn book covers, and that they frequently appear – rather improbably – not to mind being the sole focus of our attention.


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