William Gibson: "How I wrote Neuromancer" @ The Guardian

From the article, written by Gibson himself:

My fantasy of success, then, was that my book, once it had been met with the hostile or indifferent stares I expected, would go out of print. Then, yellowing fragrantly on the SF shelves of secondhand book shops, it might voyage forward, up the time-stream, into some vaguely distant era in which a tiny coterie of esoterics, in London perhaps, or Paris, would seize upon it, however languidly, as perhaps a somewhat good late echo of Bester, Delany or another of the writers I’d pasted, as it were, on the inside of my authorial windshield. And that, I assured myself, sweating metaphorical bullets daily in front of my Hermes 2000 manual portable, would almost certainly be that.

Read the full article here.

Timothy Leary on Neuromancer:
“It’s the way the world is going to be in ten years, like it or not.”
I don’t think there is, nor will there ever be, another story that makes as much sense to me as Neuromancer.

Star Wars: The Hype Awakens

UPDATE: I wasn’t aware of the following Tweet when I wrote this post yesterday:

so we won’t have to endure camera phone footage after all!

The original post is as follows:

The Force Awakens still hasn’t grown on me as a title yet, but give it time. It took ten years for me to admit that The Phantom Menace is not only a thing, it’s canon. I have a feeling JJ’s movie is going to stick quicker than that one did. And to be fair, I’m glad Phantom exists, if only because it gave us Qui-Gon Jinn, a dual lightsaber, and the podrace scene, which is one of my favorite big audio moments in all of movie history. The only thing I truly dislike about the prequel trilogy is the fact some misguided parents show it to their kids before showing them the real trilogy.

Speaking of the podrace, do you know what other sounds I love? The sounds of dinosaurs in Jurassic Park movies, specifically at a theater which isn’t afraid to kick up the decibels. That sound is chilling, man. So the first decent Jurassic World trailer dropped yesterday and, in case you haven’t seen it, here it is:

I loved Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy, but this trailer doesn’t exactly do him justice. It sounds like the acting in a made-for-Youtube movie. “Hey, watch out. This thing can kill you. You hear what I’m saying? And genetic modifying is bad, ‘kay?” He kind of looks confused about where he’s at. And I’m not sure how driving with the velociraptors works unless they’re all being chased by something big and bad. But if that’s the case why doesn’t Pratt look at all worried?
Remember how they fed cattle to the dinosaurs in the original film? And how you don’t actually see the dinosaurs responsible for shredding up the cow’s harness until later? That’s Jaws awesomeness right there. Or when the kids realize the goats are gone. That was brilliant.
So in the trailer above it was great to see there would be a new dinosaur who eats sharks. That’s exciting. What’s not exciting is the trailer blows its load and shows us the dinosaur in full. Why does promotional material screw surprises up so badly? I would have gone to see the movie just to see what kind of dinosaur eats sharks.
I digress. As you know, Bob, Disney is showing the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens this Friday, which certainly makes sense: it’s historically one of the biggest days at the box office, the day after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as the day idiots feel justified in going bonkers at Target. You think, “Well, obviously Disney wants as many people as possible to see it, so that’s why they’re releasing it that day.” But then you hear they’re only releasing it in thirty American theaters (originally it was reportedly nine) and you remember why you hated Disney in the first place.
Because Disney is run by assholes. That’s why.
Seriously. The leaked trailer is going to end up online faster than the speed of light and it won’t even look as good as the first time we saw The Phantom Menace trailer on shitty-ass Real Player at 56 kbit/s. As for all of us who are pretending we’re not going to watch it… well, we’re assholes too, because we’ll be the very first who do. We won’t hear a thing above the nerds’ applause and the tapping of plastic lightsabers, and we won’t be able to see shit other than the fact it appears to have been shot by a Parkison’s victim. But we’ll watch it a million times and Walt Disney’s corpse will be laughing its ass off from a cryogenic grave. 
I’m still holding out hope that Disney has a surprise (UPDATE: They did!!!) that turns out to be a little more palatable than all this, but so far this decision sounds like pure corporate bureaucracy. They already know what happened when they tried to restrict the Age of Ultron trailer. Short of disabling all the electronics in the audience with an EM pulse, how are they going to keep this one from leaking, too? Perhaps they don’t care if it leaks, but wouldn’t it be better if we all saw it properly?
If I had to guess, the trailer will be officially streaming by Monday. And in case you’re wondering: No, I don’t blame a corporation for trying to make money with this, but again, couldn’t they make more of that money if they showed it in more than thirty theaters? It’s just such an odd decision in the internet age.

Summer Camp: an upcoming video game straight out of the VHS horror section

announcement trailer
Tom Savini is in on this. So is the composer who created the original Friday the 13th score. It’s pretty promising, but let’s not get too excited until we see some real gameplay. Read more here.
* * *
Hitler just wants to teabag a dinosaur
So it’s been over two weeks since Halo: The Master Chief Collection released and I was pretty excited to get a copy. Unfortunately, the multiplayer matchmaking system does not work. I don’t know who to blame—the developers or the publisher, or a mixture of both, and maybe even XBOX LIVE itself caused some of the issues. I don’t know enough about this technical stuff so I won’t point fingers, but goddamn. In the fifteen days since I got it, I’ve played a total of fifteen online games. In fact, since last week’s patch, I haven’t successfully connected once. (To be fair, I’ve kind of lost interest in trying at this point, but since the patch, things are noticeably worse for me.)
I was disappointed in Civilization: Beyond Earth, too. I know a lot of people are defending it because… well, I don’t know why, exactly, but it’s just not a fifty dollar game at this point. Although it worked well (for me) early on, that’s not a bonus, it’s just a realistic expectation. Rather, it used to be a realistic expectation for a game to work on launch day, but the only game that’s really kicked ass in that department lately was Shadow of Mordor. 
And that’s fucking sad. Again, I don’t know who’s to blame for Halo turning out so shoddy, but someone needs to be blamed eventually. Then there’s talk of compensation for our troubles, but what’s the chance it’s anything any of us give a shit about? With the exception of Beyond Earth, I (mostly) stopped pre-purchasing games ever since Duke Nukem Forever. I don’t want to have to stop buying games on launch week, too.

Chatbots have a conversation

Have I posted this before? I don’t remember, but it sure is amusing. 
I’ve got superintelligence on my mind tonight. I was going to post this NPR article, but the title is pretty silly: Should Science End Humankind? 
Hmm. Let’s think about this one for a bit.
I’m thinking no. No, it should not. Now, should journalists refrain from asking silly questions in their headlines? Yeah. Probably. But what do I know? 
Let’s ask Cleverbot:

That’s conclusive.

The Verge reviews Halo: The Master Chief Collection… and it sounds awesome

One thing Xbox has always done better than Playstation is the Halo series. There’s nothing I love more than science fiction and megastructures, and Halo has never disappointed in those categories. I remember the first time I played Combat Evolved thirteen years ago. The elusive holy grail of shooters back then was actually being able to drive an enemy’s vehicle… to this day I’m still frustrated I can’t drive whatever I see in most video games. Halo: CE, however, finally let you do it. While the game was mostly linear, there was the feeling many battles could be bypassed completely as you tooled around on your hijacked Warthog or alien tank. And the first time you see a Banshee and realize, Holy shit, I can actually fly this thing! was a moment very few video games have recreated since.

From The Verge review:

… The Master Chief Collection represents such excellent value. The four mainline Halo games all look and play great on Xbox One, although the precise details of their upgrades differ. Halo: Combat Evolved is based on the 2011 anniversary remake for Xbox 360, this time running in 1080p resolution and at 60 frames per second. Halo 3 and 4 are essentially the Xbox 360 games with the same 1080p/60fps boost.

Check out the full review here. Sounds like this is the best gaming deal since The Orange Box… and that was seven years ago, believe it or not.

This weekend, if I can find the time, I’ll be playing the spin-off title Halo: Reach since it won’t be included in The Master Chief Collection and I doubt I’ll be going back to the older games after the new collection comes out. Reach still looks pretty good on a big HD screen and there’s a really great sequence which has a space elevator collapsing to the ground… the only thing better than megastructures is watching them get destroyed.

Interstellar: Grapes of Wrath meets 2001: A Space Odyssey

This isn’t a review. It’s more of a “first impressions” post as I just got back from seeing the movie. I still have my giant “small” soda in hand. I should probably think about the movie some more before talking about it, but man, I really want to talk about it before I conk out from the exhaustion that comes from seeing a three-hour movie on a work night.

What we have here is a very good science fiction film. Like, exceptionally good. The only problem is it’s suffocating inside an undercooked melodrama. Okay, okay, that’s not the only problem, as much as I hate to admit it. About three-quarters into the movie, things get extremely frustrating when we’re forced down a detour, which insults us with the same kind of routine action that completely derailed Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. Why Hollywood insists films like this must have a human villain, I’ll never know. Is flying through space in a tin can not harrowing enough?

The Earth stuff is quite good before McConaughey departs on his journey. Early on the film champions NASA, though not enough, and gives us a startling prediction about what could happen to a scientifically apathetic culture: you know how creationists are constantly trying to sneak their ignorant propaganda into school textbooks? Well, in Interstellar’s future, the odious moon nuts have managed to do away with any textbooks which mention the Apollo missions. Talk about a dark vision of the future. I wish more big movies dealt with issues like this. Here, McConuaughey gets his daughter suspended from school when he defends her decision to show her classmates a real textbook.

Speaking of the daughter: the actress who plays her younger self is much better than the one who plays her as an adult. Which brings up another point: there are movie stars in Interstellar you’re not going to expect and, surprisingly, the trailers don’t spoil that they’re in it. Yes, the trailers show way too much, as they always do, but not as much as usual. So there are still plenty of surprises left.

My only problem with the opening act is there’s a painfully obvious setup which I don’t think many people will fail to piece together. Sure, nobody’s going to figure out how it’s going to resolve exactly, but they’re probably going to know what the filmmakers are up to just the same. I just don’t think the story is being as clever as it thinks it is as the clues are anything but subtle. Then there are some plot holes, which I didn’t really catch until my girlfriend pointed them out, but now I can’t stop thinking about why the hero did this, then immediately did that, which contradicts his desire towell, I’ve said too much. (Update: actually, it makes sense when you think about it.)

Yes, it’s more than fair to compare this film to 2001: A Space Odyssey, because this film makes it clear it isn’t dumb enough to pretend 2001 doesn’t exist. But having seen Interstellar, Kubrick’s decision to focus on emotionally-neutral characters seems like a better move than ever before. By doing so, Kubrick actively avoided the pitfalls Nolan willing dives into headfirst. How Kubrick knew this kind of drama wouldn’t work in a film like this is amazing, and it just makes 2001 seem all the more important. Don’t get me wrong: I think the drama confined to the spaceships was good stuff. But trying to infuse that story with what was going on back on Earth just diluted the whole thing.

I know I’m nitpicking here, but it’s extremely irritating when a secondary character has to use the ol’ pencil-through-the-paper trick to explain wormholes to… you guessed it: an astronaut. Yes, McConaughey’s character is an astronaut/scientist/engineer, yet when he sees the wormhole in person he needs a grade-school visual aid. But then this offensive moment is quickly and completely eclipsed by one of the best parts of the movie: the wormhole itself. Is that really what a wormhole would look like? Well, I don’t know for sure, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t compelling.

And exciting, too.

In fact, all the space stuff in this film is absolutely fantastic. That just makes it all the more frustrating that the Earth scenes stretch on for so long after they’re welcome. The spaceships all look and feel believable, the lack of sound in space is refreshing, and to merely describe the special effects as “dynamite” would be an understatement. What I loved the most, other than the wormhole and the black hole of course, were the robots. Have you ever seen cooler robots in a film? We’ve come a long, long way from stuffing little people into plastic shells and calling them robots. But then again, I’ve liked a lot of the movies that did that (Silent Running, for one, Star Wars for another) a lot better than this movie.

Oh, well. Science fiction fans will love it (I did, despite my complaints). Everybody else, though, might think it’s a little flat.