Strati, the First 3D-Printed Car

The first 3D printed car is made of merely 40 parts, and is made by the Arizona-based Local Motors.

The process for this unique vehicle took 44 hours to complete, has a battery range of 120 – 150 miles, and sports some conventionally made parts, including tires, seats, wheels, battery, wiring, suspension, eletroci motor and windows. The seats, body, chassis, dash center consol and hood are printed out of black plastic reinforced with carbon fiber.

Read more at Techodrom.

Outlander & Extant: The Rise of Lady Sci-Fi


by Irma Arkus

There is a new generation of science fiction on television and I can think of no better way of calling it than Lady SciFi.

What is Lady SciFi? Good question indeed. I’ve been breaking my head trying to understand what Extant is, or whether Outlander even qualifies as science fiction, and indeed, they both belong in the same sub-category of shows with an appeal to primarily female audience.

On the one hand, these shows are a welcome change from the recent stabs at hard sci-fi, both in film and tv, largely oriented toward men. And lest not forget comic book films, which this year proved to be largely exceptional in storytelling, but continue to be abysmally weak (as always) in the female character development department.

Outlander is a little bit of romance, little bit of time traveling, but mixed with a lush, period drama. This high quality production is based on a series of best selling books by Diana Gabaldon, and represents a new era of high-production value for Starz network.

My guess is that Outlander is an answer to the powerhouse that is GoT by Starz, and is going to be a relatively successful one.


The show, created and produced by Ronald D. Moore (of Battlestar Galactica), stars Caitriona Balfe as Claire Beauchamp, who while on post-war vacation in Scotland with her amateur historian husband, gets transported back in time to 1743, right in the midst of uprisings, political maneuvers and major conflicts between Scots and English.

In two blinks of an eye, savvy Claire becomes held by the “laird” whose illness forces her to show off her medicine woman skills, which the world of 1743 desperately needs.

The story itself is interesting, interspersed with lots of Scottish pride, pomp, and circumstance, tradition and incomprehensible Scottish dialects, peppered with numerous speeches that lack some much needed subtitles.

This is all very nice and dandy, but the production feels as if it is a brainchild borne of Scotland’s Ministry of Tourism, and that of Scottish nationalist party (whoever that may be). A lot of chest thumping and noble pomp, the show is a rudimentary propaganda piece with heavy separatist tones. To call them undertones would be a stretch.

These are not political messages of peace, love and understanding, but rather a call for war, honour, freedom, tradition and Scottish cultural integrity, and all that perfectly timed for the Scottish separatist referendum.

I cannot fault the show for it, but it feels somewhat burdensome to watch it. Despite the lush cinematography, and beautiful costumes, and some mighty handsome men who do what it is that Scottish men do, it feels like a beautified propaganda piece. Then again, perhaps it is time for some feistier political messaging on TV, subtlety be damned.

The other thing that bothers me is the acting. Claire is supposed to be this strong, smart, savvy, knowledgeable and even sexually provocative character, yet Caitriona Balfe appears to be incredibly waspy, cold and wooden actress who makes the likes of the queen of wasp, Andy MacDowell, look like a tropical heat pump with chortling laughter and a bubbly personality in comparison. And that is something of a concern.

Caitriona Balfe after all, is a model, considered beautiful by photographers and fashion designers alike, and she may have graced catwalks and magazine covers, but for the life of me, I fail to remember her in anything at all, despite her fair number of acting roles.

She feels wooden, she looks wooden, and while her body may represent the photographic ideal of the fashion world, I would have given my firstborn for someone more human and curvy, and with a bit more personality to have been cast for this role.

I thought it would become easier to connect with her character, that she would grow on me a bit, but as the show goes on, she is becoming mildly repellent, colder and less sympathetic.


Extant, on the other hand, is also Lady SciFi, but more of a Mommy SciFi. I’m not even sure that this is a television show, but the heavy marketing campaigns assure me that that is indeed the case.

Brought to us by Steven Spielberg, (which is strange, because the show has more in common with Ronald D. Moore’s Helix than anything else I can think of,) the show focuses on a mom, who is both a mother to an android and an alien newborn.
Extant_promo shot
Halle Berry, an accomplished actress for whom I have the utmost respect, stars in the protagonist role. Berry, as Molly Woods, is an accomplished scientist who spends some odd 13 months in orbit on a solo mission, only to come back with some interesting cargo on board.

Woods returns home to her loving husband and their solution to her barren state, a little android child, that looks and acts just like the tyke from AI.

In fact, the entire storyline feels like it has been pasted out of random, trashed pages from AI, and has been progressively getting less coherent.

Characters that were entirely in the background, such as the case with Alan Sparks or Gordon Kern, become suddenly enriched with flimsy backgrounds, and are pushed to the forefront in a matter of minutes.

Berry is mostly seen flailing, sweating, doing her best to keep up appearances. I am not sure that any of the actors know what is going on, and they get to read the scripts before they shoot the show. As for the viewers, I can assure you that we can only surmise that this show has been written by monkeys.

Extant fails to connect in terms of narrative integrity, timing, action, and is generally drowning in what I can only call an abysmal failure.

At this point, the show has hit its 11th episode, and let me assure you, things have not been getting better. Quite the opposite, in fact. At this point, the alien man-child is on the loose, and the action surrounding the chase after him is incredibly poor.

That said, the lighting is good. The costumes are great, and the future looks like it has been constructed out of catalogue pages. It’s also making me cranky, because there is a missing piece of the story that pertains to their society, aka. our future. They are either living in an era of prosperity because of some cataclysmic event, or the show is simply suffering from the fact that the peeps working on this production are entirely divorced from reality of human existence, which constitutes the extra insult to viewers, as the show is called Extant.

Those blind monkeys working on this show will most likely never see the second season, so I recommend you soak up as much Berry as possible.

These two shows represent an interesting new breed of television. They are grappling with science fiction themes while trying to connect to a less explored audience. Similar science fiction developments aimed at teen audiences also premiered this year, namely The 100, and Star-Crossed.

All of this implies is that science fiction is currently the less explored genre with a huge potential, and that there are indeed less explored audiences, which may result in that one new show to reach unprecedented heights of popularity.

With HBO raising the bar with GoT, I am hoping some of it will soon translate into not only ill-conceived Lady Sci-Fi, but excellent, high-quality science fiction television that will garner fans for generations to come.

Best Fan Artist Prize Unveiled at the Hugo Awards

by Irma Arkus

According to the latest from Alaska Dispatch, Sarah Webb, an illustrator from Fairbanks received this year’s L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators of the Future as well as the Best Fan Artist prize at the Hugo Awards ceremony this year.

Other Hugo Awards presented this year include Ann Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice” for Best Novel; “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu for Best Short Story; and “Gravity” and “Game of Thrones” for Best Dramatic Presentations (long and short forms, respectively).

Her art is amazing and she is super cute too!

20140410 - ASI - WOTF - THE BIG REVEAL _promot shot

Check out some of her amazing art here.

2014 Hugo Awards Nominees

Presented at:Loncon 3, London, United Kingdom, August 17, 2014

Best Novel

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
– Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
Parasite, Mira Grant (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books / Orbit UK)
– Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles, Larry Correia (Baen Books)

Best Novella

– “Equoid”, Charles Stross (, 09-2013)
Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
– “Wakulla Springs”, Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (, 10-2013)
– “The Chaplain’s Legacy”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
– The Butcher of Khardov, Dan Wells (Privateer Press)

Best Novelette

– “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal (, 09-2013)
– “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
– “The Waiting Stars”, Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)
– “The Exchange Officers”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
– “Opera Vita Aeterna”, Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Sofia Samatar*
Max Gladstone*
Wesley Chu
Ramez Naam*
Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Best Short Story

– “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, John Chu (, 02-2013)
– “Selkie Stories Are for Losers”, Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
– “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)
– “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (, 04-2013)

Best Related Work

– “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative”, Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)
– Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, Jeff VanderMeer, with Jeremy Zerfoss (Abrams Image)
– Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It, Edited by Sigrid Ellis & Michael Damian Thomas (Mad Norwegian Press)
– Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary, Justin Landon & Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)
– Writing Excuses Season 8, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Jordan Sanderson

Best Graphic Story

– “Time”, Randall Munroe (XKCD)
– Saga, Volume 2, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
– Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
– “The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who”, written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (Doctor Who Special 2013, IDW)
– The Meathouse Man, adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Raya Golden (Jet City Comics)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

– Gravity, written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
– Frozen,screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
– Pacific Rim, screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)
– Iron Man 3, screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
– The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

– Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere”, written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
– Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Television)
– Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” written by Will Pascoe, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space/BBC America)
– An Adventure in Space and Time, written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
– The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, written & directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
– Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Televison)

Best Editor, Short Form

Ellen Datlow
John Joseph Adams
Jonathan Strahan
Sheila Williams
Neil Clarke

Best Editor, Long Form

Ginjer Buchanan
Liz Gorinsky
Sheila Gilbert
Toni Weisskopf
Lee Harris

Best Semiprozine

– Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki
– Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Sonya Taaffe, Abigail Nussbaum, Rebecca Cross, Anaea Lay, and Shane Gavin
– Apex Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore, and Michael Damian Thomas
– Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
– Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews

Best Fan Writer

Kameron Hurley
Abigail Nussbaum
Foz Meadows
Liz Bourke
Mark Oshiro

Best Fan Artist

Sarah Webb
Brad W. Foster
Mandie Manzano
Spring Schoenhuth
Steve Stiles

Why You Need to Watch: Halt and Catch Fire


by Irma Arkus

Recent addition to my viewing schedule is AMCs Halt and Catch Fire which according to EW today is getting a very welcomed second season renewal.

The show, created by Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers, set in 1980s, depicts the riveting ups and downs of personal computing industry. The surprise? It’s neither too technical, nor makes for bad drama. In fact, it’s brisk, captivating, likeable and somewhat enigmatic. But let’s get to the gritty…

Set in Texas, very much mired in history of “Silicon Prairie” and Austin’s boom during the same era, the show depicts an ambitious yet tyrannical and manipulative visionary, embodied in no other than a sales agent and product manager, Joe MacMillan. Played by the wonderful Lee Pace, MacMillan shows up out of nowhere, joining a relatively sleepy corporation with a mediocre product. Sleek, polished and persuasive, MacMillan is quickly uncovered to have more lofty goals than your average East Coast sales agent, as he maneuvers his new employer, Cardiff Electric, into an impossible and legally-trick competition against the giant IBM.

Before you know it, not only is the company transformed, but has a new product in the works that may (or not) transform the booming industry of personal computing.

Caught in his web of ambition are two major talents. The first is a family man, Gordon Clark, whose entire life is defined by his previously failed independent product developments. This development vision, it seems, is also a passion which he shares with his surprisingly talented wife, played by Kerry Bishé, who despite her contributions to variety of hardware and software developments, seems to continuously earn but the short end of the stick.

Clark, played by Scoot McNairy, is a wonderfully complex character, who often consumed by a creative challenge, finds himself battling personal inadequacies, faces the crimp of family obligations, and is generally plagued by personal demons.

The second, and most lovely, is Cameron, played by a Vancouverite, Mackenzie Davis. Not only is Davis preposterously and captivatingly beautiful, but she very aptly depicts the new generation of programmers who view the world of computing with very different norms and expectations, seeing technology as a gender and class-neutral device for individual and meritorious empowerment.

Lately, we’ve been watching a lot of shows about business, mostly adventures set in isles of antique department stores, but Halt and Catch Fire is not really about the riveting life of retail. Difficult to peg, the show can be described as Mad Men meets Silicon Valley.

On the one hand, there is the nostalgic element of the 1980s, with its bold, fresh, cutting edge designs and interiors. On the other, there are the dangers of developing anything (back then or these days), and the potential for failure for many of these entrepreneurial projects all makes for a riveting drama.

Guardians of the Galaxy Rocks!


Despite our fervent interest in everything X-Men, the films are not doing so well. Marvel continues to nurture a franchise that has thus far been relatively ailing, and any attempts at rehabilitation have largely resulted in half-hearted successes.

Guardians of the Galaxy may be following a particular pattern – expensive, summer, tent-pole production is a blockbuster – but it also represents a slight turn. Just as Captain America provided us with a new, refreshing angle on the SHIELD operations, with narrative tackling the rot from within, and by proxy exploring relevant contemporary cultural themes, so does Guardians of the Galaxy offer a new effort at presenting us with a bit of entertainment.

To be fair to Disney and Marvel (Disney owns Marvel since 2009 btw), I also had a blast watching John Carter: Princess of Mars, but apparently Americans were washing their hair that night and were just not in the mood.

Guardians of the Galaxy is about Peter, a boy who experiences the trauma and sadness of witnessing the death of his mother in the hospital. Running out of the hospital with tears in his eyes, Peter is whisked away by what appears to be an old fashioned UFO, while clutching onto his beloved Walkman tape deck.

We get to see Peter 20 years later, dancing through the caverns of an alien landscape, amongst remnants of an ancient civilisation long gone.

He dances. And he is cool. And he is the most lovable man on earth, also known as Chris Pratt. Of MouseRat fame. Yes, the one from Parks and Recreation.

The film quickly descends into madness, cuteness, friendship, adventure, defeating villains and saving the universe. And the soundtrack is excellent.

Peter, aka “Starlord” is paired with Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana, only in green, and they are joined by Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, a genetically engineered racoon with a zesty personality, and wonderful Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a remarkable success. It is by definition a fun film. The kind of fun we all want to see, but for some reason, don’t get to, despite the high ticket prices.

Survival SciFi: The 100

In the year of little to no science fiction gracing the television screens, CW has announced the release of its new program, The 100.

The premise is interesting enough, as for the execution, that is yet to be seen. The show will be released in March of 2014.

Here is the trailer:


Outlander Promises a Time Travelling Romp With Kilts Flying

Ronald D. Moore is working on a new production. Moore, the creative force behind Battlestar Galactica, has a new show Outlander, based on some pretty soft time-travel romance authored by Diana Gabaldon that remind more of the Time Traveller’s Wife than anything else I can think of.

Thus far we’re promised some handsome men in tartan, ample swooning of ladies in fine corsetry and woolens, and we do have a seasoned actor Simon Callow as the Duke of Sandringham, Tracy Wilkinson as a savvy housekeeper (sorry but that’s all we know as we’re a little short on deets), and according to JustPressPlay’s Randall Unger, an ample amount of Scots in kilts.

The premise is an unusual one, summarized as a nurse flying through time only to land in midst of a Scots vs. English conflict during the Jacobite uprising, finding romance in the midst of a resistance that resonates to this day.

And of course, we are promised plenty of romance, sex, and adventure.

Just when you think Ronald D. Moore went the way of J. Michael Straczynski, he comes back with not one, but two anticipated shows, as Helix is expected to premiere in January of 2014 on SyFy.


2013 Hugo Award Winners

LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, has announced the 2013 Hugo Award winners. 1848 valid ballots were received and counted in the final ballot.


Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi (Tor)


The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)



“The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi”, Pat Cadigan (Edge of Infinity, Solaris)


“Mono no Aware”, Ken Liu (The Future is Japanese, VIZ Media LLC)


Writing Excuses Season Seven, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Jordan Sanderson


Saga, Volume One, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)


The Avengers, Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios, Disney, Paramount)


Game of Thrones, “Blackwater”, Written by George R.R. Martin, Directed by Neil Marshall. Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)


Stanley Schmidt


Patrick Nielsen Hayden


John Picacio


Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke, Jason Heller, Sean Wallace and Kate Baker


SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo, JP Frantz, and Patrick Hester


SF Squeecast, Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Lynne M. Thomas, Catherynne M. Valente (Presenters) and David McHone-Chase (Technical Producer)


Tansy Rayner Roberts


Galen Dara


Mur Lafferty

Must Watch: Upstream Color

upstream color
Shane Carruth already made history with Primer, yet his recent effort, Upstream Color is nothing short of amazing.

This wondrous feature is focused on a complex, organic ecosystem – specifically, a parasite – and its side effects.

The three stages of its development are not all natural or accidental, but rather involve a great deal of human interference.

The cycle is intriguing, mildly pointless, yet the protagonists, caught up in an X-Files worthy mystery, suffer the brunt of the consequences, as they struggle to survive in society despite the fact that they are forever altered.

Initially, there are orchids. Simple, available, for sale flowers, potted for your consumption, and yet they are dismantled, human hands burrowing to find larvae hiding in its root systems.

The larvae is carefully processed, sorted, ingested, turned into tea, popped into a pill.

Kris, a well-organized adult with a job is exposed rather violently to a larva. The man forces her into a hypnotic state, takes her home, and exploits her susceptibility to suggestions. She obeys without a question for endless days, signing off all her personal wealth and assets, even taking out a loan, all the while completing a series of meaningless tasks.

She doesn’t eat, but only drink water. She thinks that the man is composed of sunshine, never looking directly at his face. After collecting all her money, the man releases her from his control allowing her to consume solid foods.

The infection doesn’t stop there as Kris soon discovers that her body is infected by worms cascading underneath her skin. Horrified and traumatized, she attempts at cutting them out.

Another man sets up a set of speakers, with organic sounds booming into the ground, drawing Kris to his ambulatory set-up. In the ambulance, a surgical procedure is performed, involving a piglet. The piglet becomes a carrier for all the parasites creeping under her epidermis.

Kris awakens abandoned in a car with strange wounds, and after heading home she tries to reconstruct what happened only to face a set of new realities: she no longer has a job, as she cannot provide an explanation for her extended absence, nor does she have any assets left. She has been bamboozled, her life left in shatters.

Kris, now working a low level job at a print shop, meets Jeff. The two feel connected and as time goes on, they find more connections and parallels between them. Increasingly they seem to swap memories, both succumbing to a set of odd, compelling yet mentally unstable behaviors.

Jeff admits to the fact that he too had a psychotic break, after which he stole money from the company he worked for, and as a result, his life was in tatters.

The two not only commiserate but share emotions, memories, even movements.

The strange man who performed the procedure on Kris kills the pig connected to Kris, while leaving its piglets behind. The corpse is discarded into the water, and as it decomposes, it releases the color, dying the local orchids blue.

The strange man both dies and gets killed by Kris who uncovers a box with details of surgical records pertaining to both her and Jeff. Their suspicions are confirmed, as they finally understand that they have more than affections in common.

The affected visit the farm, and rehabilitate it to a new, caring place. Kris, barren from an bout with cancer, looks after the piglets in a loving, peaceful way.

Carruth’s film is both disturbing, enigmatic, and puzzling. It is a mystery that will occupy your attention and leave you with a feeling of unease, regret, fear, as well as contentment.

The soundscape plays an important role. In fact the strange man / farmer collects not only the piglets and the worms, but sounds. At some point, the parallels are not solely drawn between Kris and Jeff, but also the soundscape experienced by the farmer.

Similarly, Kris can detect the orchids and not only the blue ones. Her compulsive actions, such as diving for rocks on the bottom of the swimming pool, allows her to experience audio-visual connections to orchids, and the soundscape experiments of the strange man/farmer.

The parasitic infection builds connections between select individuals, animals, and plants. These connections allow for sharing on a base level, emotional, physical, visual and auditory. Yet, the concept of sharing is displayed in a dysfunctional form not because it is dysfunctional, but because it hardly belongs in the machine of society.

The world around Kris and Jeff seems unforgiving and inflexible. Both have succumbed to a traumatic set of events that stripped them of their finances and their reputations. Akin to rape victims, they wonder around, trying to piece themselves together, attempting to get back “in there” while striving for at best, a pretense at normalcy. Even their memories do not belong to them. As you watch Jeff dismantle a box of straws only to use their paper wrappers to build a chain, you realize that their insanity and compulsion continues in private. It is dark, disturbing, and malevolent.

They both continue to struggle and drown in a sea of confusion, melancholy and disonance, as they attempt at separating their own identity, memories, actions.

Carruth accomplishes to bring about a very complex, touching, confusing story, within a beautifully wrapped cinematography and sound. In fact, I would be as bold as to say that Carruth has become (or has been confirmed) a master of independent cinematography. Upstream Color is mildly eerie, brilliant, strange, and mesmerizing, and multi-talented Carruth has once more succeeded at conveying a complex narrative using his acting, composing, writing and directing skills.