Ninjas are definitely the coolest guys around.
If you like ninjas, you’ll definitely want to read some more ninja posts on 199x.
In related news, my roommate and I bought throwing knives this weekend.
A few years ago, Jens gave me a CD that had a folder on it with over 1000 old-school NASA photos. He says he has no idea where he got them, but that doesn’t matter: all the photos are amazing.
I uploaded them to Flickr here, and while you’re looking at them here’s some music to get you into the orbital mood:
Back in the day when I first got into blogging I came across A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto.
Back then, it was pretty much the most bad-ass thing I’d ever read.
From the text:
“Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and since we can’t get privacy unless we all do, we’re going to write it. We publish our code so that our fellow Cypherpunks may practice and play with it. Our code is free for all to use, worldwide. We don’t much care if you don’t approve of the software we write. We know that software can’t be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can’t be shut down.”
That’s some heavy stuff right there. Fight the good fight, Cypherpunks.
Then list to some equally heavy beats, courtesy of Borracho! and Cyberpunkers
I just saw the video for Alejandro by Lady Gaga, and I couldn’t believe how much it reminded me of an Alastair Reynolds book.
The world Alastair paints for his readers is far-future: humans can live for centuries and are able to genetically modify themselves, yet the world they live in is still very full of pain and suffering, much of it self-inflicted. The awe of long-distance star travel is coupled with dangerous and painful conditions for travellers that make it possible.
There’s this overwhelming sense of discomfort and unease in the books, like something terrible is going to happen. Most of humanity lives in an asteroid belt called The Glimmer Band, and it is full of remnants of previous advanced technology that has been rendered unusable by an alien threat. Constant reminders of that pervade that remind the reader that not everything is alright in this future, and while its unspoken much of the population seems to think the same. This has given way to bizarre decadence by some, and masochistic religious cults in others in the world of The Glimmer Band.
I liked the books, yet I have a hard time reading them: none of the main characters are likable, and terrible things happen to people. Everyone is uncomfortable, sleep-deprived, on-edge, going crazy or all of the above.
Like I said, I got pretty much the same feeling when I watched the video for Alejandro.
Anyways, here’s a Rusko rework of the Gaga original (via Gotta Dance Dirty)
Oh man - I just finished reading Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination and it is intense. The book was written in 1956, but is decades ahead of its time and reads like an ultra-violent modern thriller. It keeps up a frantic pace for all 300 pages, and you’re never sure if you should be sympathizing with the main character and cheering him on in his quest for justice or hating him for the atrocities he commits.
If you get a chance, pick this book up. I mean, just look at the main characters in the book:
Gulliver “Gully” Foyle - the almost-unlikable protagonist. He survives months shipwrecked in deep space, has his face tattooed with tiger stripes and the word “Nomad” and spends the entire book on a murderous quest for revenge against those he feels have wronged him.
Sol Dagenham - The fast-talking head of an interstellar courier organization/private detective agency, a war-time accident left him so radioactive that he isn’t legally allowed to be in the same room as anyone for more than 30 minutes.
Olivia Presteign - Heiress to the Presteign fortune, albino and able to see only in the infrared spectrum. Gully’s hidden tattoos are visible to her, as are the warring ships in orbit around earth.
Jiz McQueen - The unfortunately-named beauty that helps Gully escape from a prison deep within the mountains of France, she seems more of a throw-away character
Robin Wednesbury - A broadcast-only telepath who promises to help Gully in his quest for revenge only so she can find out what happened to her own missing family.
Y’ang-Yeovil - Master of disguise, Asian stereotype and a big shot in the earth’s intelligence agency, he is tasked with putting a stop to Gully’s rampage.
Add to this zany cast of characters the fact that everyone in this future is able to teleport at will distances of about 15 kilometers (they call it “Jaunting”), and you’ve got one hell of a piece of science-fiction.
Try and not think too hard about it while you listen to Owl Vision’s Fields of Corpses - its a track as angry and intense as Gully Foyle. I don’t much about Die Antwoord, but I’m throwing another of their tracks up here because Ninja is at least as driven and tattooed as Gully.
I haven’t seen it, but I’m pretty sure 1980’s GALAXINA is probably the most perfect movie in the world. Produced by Playboy, it stars the 1980 Playmate of the year Dorothy Stratten as a “voluptuous android who finds herself alone for many years, developing emotions and falling in love with the ship’s pilot as he and the other crew sleep the years away” after they’ve been placed in suspended animation (Parts of this actually sound suspiciously similar to Alastair Reynolds epic book House of Suns).
The tag line on the movie poster (via) is “IN THE 31st CENTURY MAN FINALLY CREATED A MACHINE…With Feelings” and its going on my must-watch list.
Speaking of machines with feelings, you can’t go wrong with remixes of Florence + the Machine’s You’ve Got The Love. I wrote about the XX remix of that track a little while ago (damn, I love golden robots), and I was glad to hear Adam Smith’s take on it.
The Secret Galaxies remix comes courtesy of T-dot ballers Borracho, who were kind enough to post it on their Myspace page. Its a little more mellow than some of their other stuff, and I definitely like it.
You can’t go wrong with a little Ellie Goulding, and when the theme of the day seems to be galaxies and robots what better than a space-disco track about getting starry-eyed (I’m just going to assume she’s singing about looking at the stars and dreaming about space). These Monarchy cats have done some other mixes, and I dig that they called this one the Horses Head Nebular remix.
Anyways, if you’re in a galactic mood, give ‘em a listen:
Part of the reason I like it is because some of the main characters, the “Edenists” are similar to the post-human Culture of Iain Banks’ books. One of the key differences is that instead of having their main technologies be based on computers, the Edenists grow their sentient starships and habitats out of a substance called “bitek” (that I can only assume is short for “bio-technology”). This gives both their habitats and ships personality and sentience, with the Edenists connected to them via a telepathic affinity bond.
Like a lot of the sci-fi I’ve been reading lately, its full of huge ideas and takes place on an epic scale. Reading it, I feel the same way that I do when I look at that picture of the astronaut floating above the earth.
I added the tracks from the XX below because they definitely have a spacey-feel. If you listen closely to the lyrics of “Shelter,” it almost sounds like they were written about the Edenists and their living technology. The original version of this track is pretty good, but I really like the the rework that Death to the Throne gives it.
I just finished reading House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds. In the book, two shatterlings named Campion and Purslane (the galaxy-wandering, six-million year old clones of a woman named Abigail Gentian) fall in love with each other, befriend a golden robot (Hesperus, of the Machine People) and arrive decades late for the gathering of shatterlings that happens approximately once every 32,000 years.
I absolutely loved the book, and the fact that parts of it span tens of thousands of years. Reynolds writes sci-fi on an enormous time scale. As Charlie Jane Anders writes:
“House Of Suns is one of those novels that assumes a shape after you’re done reading it. All of the elements that seemed purely random fall into place, and you realize quite what an intricate design you’ve been looking at all this time….This novel has everything: artificial intelligences that become sentient, post-humans, questions of faster-than-light travel and causality, cloning, virtual worlds, a murder mystery and a group of nigh-immortal people dealing with the burden of history in a more personal way than most of us ever do.”
Anyways, that’s not a picture of Hesperus, but of my Halo 3 armor. I was inspired by the book to make him golden and to give him the House of Suns insignia.
Anyways, here are some tracks that I’ve also been coincidentally listening to these days. I really feel like they flow with the book. The Empire of the Sun track makes me think of the love between Campion and Purslane, and the name of the original band and remixers just works with the book as well.
Why this Girl and the Robot? Because at one point in the book, the female shatterling (Purslane) spends a great deal of time with Hesperus (don’t worry, nothing weird happens).
You can also buy Royksopp tracks on Itunes.
One of the most hilarious blogs that I’ve been following lately is definitely Erotrash. I’m pretty sure it is entirely in Italian, but you don’t need to understand the language to know that all they do is post scans from vintage European science-fiction sex comics. Needless to say, it isn’t exactly safe for work.
The title of of the blog reminds me of one of my favorite Chicks On Speed songs, Eurotrash Girl. I also think that when I saw Chicks on Speed in Montreal about 6 or 7 years ago it was one of the first electronic music concerts that I’d ever been to. My friend Lachy and I were also some of the only guys there, so the whole thing seemed pretty awesome at the time.
The Erotrash blog also has an album of songs available for download entitled Music For Strange Situations. I’m guessing that the strange situations they are referring to are the ones that the girls in the comics they post frequently find themselves in. Maybe just looking at the blog is considered a strange situation. Either way, it must be the music you should listen to.