Lavie: No science fiction writer was ever as weird, as brilliant and as unjustly neglected, perhaps, as Cordwainer Smith. It was the pen name of Paul Linebarger, a godson of Sun Yat-sen, an expert on psychological warfare and a self-described “visitor to small wars” — come to think of it, his life would make a good show! When Smith turned to science fiction, he created the most vivid, strange and fascinating far-future world — a world where the planet Norstrilia grows the immortality drug stroon from giant, diseased sheep. Where the underpeople — animals given human shape and intelligence and living as servants — are fomenting revolution against the Lords of the Instrumentality. It’s a world where cats pilot spaceships, ancient computers tell fortunes and a dog called D’joan can become the messiah. There was nothing like it in the 1960s. There is nothing like it now. You can
The question at the heart of science fiction and fantasy is “what if?” What if gods were real, but you could kill them? What if humans finally made it out among the stars — only to discover we’re the shabby newcomers in a grand galactic alliance? What if an asteroid destroyed the East Coast in 1952 and jump-started the space race years early?
This year’s summer reader poll was also shaped by a series of “what ifs” — most importantly, what if, instead of looking at the entire history of the field the way we did in our 2011 poll, we focused only on what has happened in the decade since? These past 10 years have brought seismic change to science fiction and fantasy (sometimes literally, in the case of N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series), and we wanted to celebrate the world-shaking rush of new voices, new perspectives, new
In the corner of an Ohio field, a laser-armed robot inches through a sea of onions, zapping weeds as it goes.
This field doesn’t belong to a dystopian future but to Shay Myers, a third-generation farmer whose TikTok posts about farming life often go viral.
He began using two robots last year to weed his 12-hectare (30-acre) crop. The robots – which are nearly three metres long, weigh 4,300kg (9,500lb), and resemble a small car – clamber slowly across a field, scanning beneath them for weeds which they then target with laser bursts.
“For microseconds you watch these reddish color bursts. You see the weed, it lights up as the laser hits, and it’s just gone,” said Myers. “Ten years ago this was science fiction.” Other than engine sounds, the robots are almost silent and each one can destroy 100,000 weeds an hour, according to Carbon Robotics, the company
What it’s about: Originally published as short stories in 1942, the series by famed science fiction author Isaac Asimov then turned into a trilogy of novels set in planets across the galaxy all ruled by the Galactic Empire. Start reading the series with Foundation.
Where to watch: Apple TV+
Latest updates: The show is set to premiere Sept. 24, 2021. It stars Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Lou Llobell, Leah Harvey, Laura Birn, Terrence Mann, Cassian Bilton, and Alfred Enoch.
What it’s about: The first in a two-part film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel takes place mostly on the desert planet Arrakis. Paul Atreides is the son of Duke Leto Atreides and Bene Gesserit Lady Jessica. Leto is assigned to the planet Arrakis as part of a plot to overthrow him. Arrakis is significant for being the only place to acquire