The Sciences

Comic-Con: This Blog Post (Is About Sci-Fi That) Might Just Change Your Life



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Discover has descended in force upon the unexpecting San Diego International Comic-Con, not only to host our own panel ("Abusing the Sci of Sci-Fi," tonight, 6pm, Room 6AB) but to pore over the rest of the conference and bring the choicest nuggets back to our own SNF readers. To that end, I just emerged from a great panel hosted by the sci-fi blog (and new Discover syndication partner) io9 about “Sci-Fi That Will Change Your Life.” The panel included some io9ers (Annalee Newitz, Charlie Jane Anders, Meredith Woerner, Cyriaque Lamar) plus some sci-fi industry folks (Marc Bernardin, Bonnie Burton, Doug Wolk, and Lou Anders). Among this big panel of very dialed in sci-fi heads, they covered a really wide range of recent work, picking out their favorite, most “life-changing” material. Here are the recommendations that sounded the most recommendable of all: 1) Wolk recommended a graphic novel called Bodyworld (not to be confused with the roving museum exhibit of the same name, which includes “plasticized” human bodies), that’s placed sometime in future, in a “planned EPCOT Center-like community.” The characters in this future world smoke a plant that lets them experience what other people near them are experiencing. It sounds like it’d be tough to get across with just images and text, but Wolk says it works. Plus the book’s “cover probably looks great if you’re high—I wouldn’t know,” he says. 2) Lou Anders gave a shout-out to the author Ian McDonald: “Everything I read from him blows my mind.” McDonald’s M.O. is to move to a developing nation, live there awhile and learn what makes the country tick, and then write a sci-fi novel set some decades in its future. McDonald’s book set in India made Anders want to move there; the one set in Brazil made him “terrified that the country exists.” 3) Newitz, the editor-in-chief of io9 and moderator of the panel, picked Rick Moody’s 4 Fingers of Death, a book set in America in 2025, when everything’s falling apart (more than now, that is). The title refers to a severed hand that gets infected with a bioweapon made by the U.S. for potential use against China. The hand (I’m inferring that it somehow turns autonomous and mobile) goes on a rampage where it strangles people and also turns them into zombies because of the infection. In one scene, it sneaks up on a couple who’s making out and, uh, pleasures both of them. If that doesn’t make you want to read this book, what will? 4) And to end on a happy note, Burton recommended The LXD, The League of Extraordinary Dancers, a dance troupe that recently launched a Web video series and got a lot of attention for their appearances on So You Think You Can Dance and at TED. Burton says it’s loved by presumably short-attention-spanned people who have trouble following the plot of Heroes and appreciate the un-self-conscious glee of Glee’s musical theater; it’s especially good if “if you want something to laugh at, to make you feel better about yourself… and to learn to pop’n’lock.” (Sorry this post is a short on links. The wi-fi connection in the SD Convention Center is miserable—presumably from a million geeks trying to watch videos, learn about cool things they heard about, and write blog posts.)

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