The Island of Dr Moreau | H.G. Wells | Biopower and the Savage

The Island of Dr Moreau

By Joseph Hurtgen

H. G. Wells’s The Island of Dr Moreau (1896) is a postcolonial commentary on empire, examining Moreau’s biological construction and rule over a subordinate species. Moreau fails to civilize his subordinate species, but in his barbaric civilizing attempt demonstrates that civilized men are savage. The Island of Dr Moreau demonstrates that civilization, created and sustained through war and strife, is savage.

Why We Need Science Fiction Books | Sci-fi and Social Critique

Forbidden Planet
Science Fiction does an important job of keeping the institutions in society honest. In a world with too few whistleblowers, sci-fi sends off regular warning shots about a range of problems, including corporate greed, environmental concerns, military practices, technological application, and identity politics.

Philip K Dick Books | A Scanner Darkly & Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

animus and anima

This post will explore Philip K. Dick's recurring theme of the confusion of identity and its relation to Dick's life as well as its relation to larger social and economic forces.

Blade Runner 1982 and the Sublime | Science Fiction Movies

"It's too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?" - Gaff

Harrison Ford starred in 1982's Blade Runner

I'm going to examine themes of birth and death in Blade Runner (1982) as they relate to the sublime. These themes are shared with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Indeed, you can view Blade Runner as a meditation on Frankenstein. Shelley was preoccupied with the sublime, a sometimes physical, sometimes metaphysical representation of the limitations of mankind. 

Walter Jon Williams - Implied Spaces | Science Fiction Book Review

Implied Spaces by Walter Jon Williams. Rapid Transmission Science Fiction.

Implied Spaces by Walter Jon Williams is sword and singularity rather than sword and sorcery, and it will blow your mind. The first forty pages or so might as well be one of Robert E. Howard's Conan books. Like Conan, Aristide fights as no one else can fight, only says what's necessary, and beds all comers. Williams is a prose stylist, so it actually reads better than Robert E. Howard, who was given to writing purple prose every now and then.

Top 100 Sci Fi Books List

Ranking Criteria

This list presents what I consider the best sci-fi books of all time. The criteria for making it on this list includes the following:

How influential is this book?
Is the book fun to read?
Does the book deal with an important theme or concept?

That is to say, these are the best SF reads I enjoyed the most and that I think others should read given their importance, commentary on society and technology, and enjoyability. In short, I'm following Horace's maxim that literature should instruct and delight.

One might argue that some of the books on here are not sci-fi, including my #13 pick, Thomas Pynchon's Vineland. But here is why I disagree. Pynchon writes about shifting identities as a result of social, political, and economic realities. Ursula K. Le Guin calls this kind of science fiction social science fiction. Social science fiction is tantamount to speculative fiction. In my opinion, science fiction focusing on social commentary is the most fun to read and the most rewarding.

Terran Tomorrow: Environmentalism, Evolution, and Othering

Books received
Terran Tomorrow (2018). Nancy Kress. Tor.

Terran Tomorrow | Rapid Transmission

Terran Tomorrow is the last book in Nancy Kress’s trilogy Yesterday’s Kin. It follows the return of the aptly-named worlder ship Return to earth where things aren’t so great. An extremist group, the Gaiasts, see no future for the earth while mankind still lives, so they release the mother of all viruses into sparrows, effectively killing 96% of the human population. A saving grace for humans, a few futuristic domes exist here and there with airlocks to keep out the virus. One such set of domes, Monterey Base, supports a mix of scientific and military communities. The scientists in Monterey Base research genetic hacks for getting rid of the death-dealing virus. The military keeps the scientists safe from New America, a well-organized revolutionary outfit at war with what’s left of the United States. Things go from bad to worse when the aliens—humans, really--from Return infect a dome with a virophage that initiates the next evolutionary leap forward for the human race.

Sci-fi Noir: The Terminator and Tech Noir | 10 Updates to Film Noir

Schwarzenegger | The Terminator

Once you’ve watched The Terminator, you’ll forever associate masculinity with Reese, a guy that built bombs for fun as a kid and selflessly puts his life in danger to save Sarah Connor, putting himself between her and the sightlines of a coldly intelligent, red-LED-eyed cyborg that walks through flames in the hunt for its quarry. You’ll feel much more worried at reports of robotic systems learning to backflip and drones getting loaded with killer AI. You’ll appreciate Arnold Schwarzenegger’s oft-quoted “I’ll be back.” You’ll want to know more about Harlan Ellison, a science fiction writer whose ideas were stolen for the movie’s plot.

How to Write Science Fiction

Image result for sf writer writing

So, you're ready to jet around the US, Europe, and Canada, boozing with the great literati of our day to discuss
the big ideas about science, technology, and society. You're ready to get the call from top government brass to prepare an actionable defense against alien invasions or thermonuclear war. You're ready to have crazies Twitter burn you for not supporting racists and fascists with your influencer Internet power. You're ready to have beautiful humans fawn over you, hoping for a handshake, an autograph, the chance to hear you utter a real pearl of wisdom from out of your unending cerebral ocean of intellect and prophetic vision. You're ready to live in the Villa Straylight, complete with its own cryogenic chamber for you and your loved ones, and an artificially intelligent computer personality to turn off the stove for you when you leave the house in a hurry and unlock the place when you return from a night of revelry only to find that it was your keys that the svelte transgender Pop star threw into the Mediterranean during the mescalin fueled zeppelin ride from dusk to dawn. Well, if all this resonates with you, then, by jingo, you've come to the right place. Or, at least, you could have done a lot worse. Read on and learn how to write some photon focused science fiction and become a card-carrying SFWA sci-fi writer!

Chapter One of Atomic Rocat

The Day of Wreckoning

Rapid Transmission | Atomic Rocat | Joseph Hurtgen and Peter Hurtgen | Frankophone
Four hours out of Chicago, somewhere over the Nevada desert, the mother of all lightning bolts struck the engine on the right wing and it went dead. The fear of death gripped our private airplane like a hand clutching a gemstone in rictus. Dave was on the floor in the back, inspired. It was rumored that Dave was Jimi Hendrix’s grandson. He might have been. He was found in a big plastic trash can, floating down the Mississippi River, three months old. He was raised in an orphanage until the age of twelve when he walked out the front door, following the sound of a traveling band. He played guitar all night and slept all day. Three years later he was gigging. In the belly of the storm, guitar in hand, “Are you hearing this? We should have died years ago! The sound of fear! Death sounds, man! It’s groovy!” Dave was the inspiration for the name of the band, Atomic Rocket. His guitar playing was so edgy, so fierce, that rock ‘n roll journalists started describing his playing like the sound of atomic fusion. Before that, we had called ourselves Moebius Strip Club. I liked the first name better, but people responded to Atomic Rocket. Record sales improved.

John Carpenter Escape from New York

Escape From New York | Rapid Transmission

What’s worse than trying to escape from a futuristic Manhattan island as maximum security prison? Getting injected with a time bomb and forced to land on the roof of one of the World Trade Centers to help some swine of a president escape.

Alien 2: The Military-Industrial Complex, Masculinity, and Body Horror

A Xenomorph from Aliens ready to attack

The sequel to 1979's Alien, James Cameron’s Aliens hit theatres in 1986, thrilling with special effects, intense action scenes, and loaded with meaning. Alien 2 critiques the military-industrial complex, explores masculinity and presents anxieties of childbearing with concomitant body horror. Oh, and Alien 2 is a pure joy to watch. By any standard, it's one of the greatest science fiction films.

We’ll explore all these elements, but let’s turn to the military-industrial complex as it relates to Aliens first.

Red Mars | Kim Stanley Robinson | SciFi Review

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Red Mars hardly feels like a book written in the early ‘90s. It feels that Robinson had already peered into the 21st century and knew what was to come. Bruce Sterling, tongue in cheek, likes to say that he blames science fiction dystopias for all humanity’s problems, but the environmental effects we can expect as a result of the unchecked release of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere--the death of the ocean’s coral reefs, rising coastlines, rising global temperatures—are not expressly new news, even in the early ‘90s. Scientists studying the environment had made all of these connections by the late ‘70s. We have the corporate and political sectors to thank for not responding to the scientific community’s warnings with the due diligence required to significantly arrest climate change.

Alfred McCoy History Books - Policing America's Empire

Alfred McCoy describes the unethical practices of the great state of exception, America, in his book Policing America's Empire: The United States, the Philippines and the Rise of the Surveillance State (2009). Alfred W. McCoy’s focuses on military and police records in the Philippines. McCoy shows how the exercise of American Power from imperial rule a century hence continues its reflection back onto the homeland and on new territories of empire. The imperial influence in the Philippines set the ground rules for surveillance measures that continue today.

Best Cyberpunk Novels | 10 Amazing Science Fiction Novels

Yes, the ‘80s saw a concentration of writing within the Cyberpunk subgenre and a surge in its popularity, but Cyberpunk doesn’t merely define a period of writing within science fiction. Neuromancer is a high water mark for Cyberpunk, but 1984 doesn’t mark the beginning of the subgenre. 

Super Nintendo, Super Memories

I love Nintendo systems, and Super Nintendo is my favorite of all the systems. Although the console doesn't play all of my favorite games, many of my all-time favorites are SNES games.

I am Legend - Richard Matheson | Science Fiction Book & Movie Review

Will Smith in I am Legend | Rapid Transmissions Science Fiction

I am Legend originally explored depression, alcoholism, and self-harm. Taking up a different theme, the 2007 movie starring Will Smith explores racism. 2007's I am Legend updated Matheson's classic novella, using the narrative to comment on white America's othering of people of color while at the same time lauding and often attempting to recreate white versions of the abilities of black athletes, actors, musicians, and writers. White society essentially parasitizes people of color. Similarly, in I am Legend, white vampires attempt to steal the life energy of a black Robert Neville.

The Myst Video Game - The Beauty and Frustration of the Original Myst

Myst Island | Rapid Transmission | Joseph Hurtgen

The Myst video game, released for the Macintosh platform in 1993, is a graphic adventure puzzle video game designed by brothers, Robyn and Rand Miller. It was developed by Cyan, Inc., published by Brøderbund. Let's just take in the Myst island for a glorious moment. Behold the beautiful pine forest! Marvel at the inexplicably big cairn-like gears atop lookout point! Consider the oddity of a spaceship on display at the island's northernmost point. Enjoy the throwback Greco-Roman architecture of the library and the planetarium.