Reaching for Aphelion: an Interview with Gloria Reynolds

Gloria Reynolds is an aerospace engineer and comic artist living in the Pacific Northwest. Her posthuman science fiction comic Aphelion is something I’ve been longing for for years: a comic that stretches the imagination and shows images that are uncomfortably unfamiliar, but with rigorous, naturalistic thought applied to the setting and events. I put it on a very narrow shelf with PLANETES and, frankly, not much else.

Gloria sat down for a couple of hours with me on Skype and we chatted about engineering, science fiction, and creative process.

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Escaping The Habitats of Our Own Making: an interview with Simon Roy

Simon Roy’s new comic, Habitat, is, in the best way, horrifying. It connects the greatest taboo among most human cultures — cannibalism — with the sort of quotidian oppression that humans have lived with throughout most of our existence.

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The Tully Monster is So Weird, It’s Hard to Draw

The Tully Monster, Tullymonstrum gregarium, is an extinct creature from about 300 million years ago (That’s tens of millions of years before there were dinosaurs). It looks like a squid, has a single arm — elbow and all — and has a spinal cord, completely unlike a cephalopod.

It’s insanely weird.

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Tokarahia: a Sleek, Small Ancestor of the Largest Animal in History

The Tokarahia is a small (about 6m long), extinct ancestor of the modern baleen whales. It has a few, probably vestigial, peg teeth in the front of its jaws, but the rest of its mouth was almost certainly filled in with baleen. I love its sleek shape.

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Captain Radish Saumet’s Spacesuit

We’ve seen Radish Saumet’s spacecraft, Happy Delivery, before! Her spacecraft doesn’t have much of an aesthetic (except for the spraypainted Jolly Roger on the side) because it’s so modular; Radish swaps parts as needed, keeping the ISp and thrust as high as she can afford.

Her spacesuit, on the other hand, is another matter. Over time, she’s swapped dozens of parts in and out to match her tiny frame and her habits. Barring repairs, though, it’s remained the way it is for the last couple of years. Continue reading “Captain Radish Saumet’s Spacesuit”

Corvosapien Physical Sophontology

Corvosapiens (or, as they call themselves, “people”) have a rich and varied physical culture. However, because of their greater mobility than earthbound humans, aesthetic principles and philosophical structures often spread more quickly than they did when primates were the custodians of the civilization meme.

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Pris is More Cyborg than Woman

At the beginning of Blade Runner, Captain Bryant tells us that (editing errors aside) four replicants have escaped their restraints and have flown to Earth. The oldest of them is Roy Batty (incept date: January 8, 2016), followed closely by Pris (February 14, 2016). Of the replicants, they’re emotionally closest to each other; where Zhora and Leon seem to be living together as a matter of convenience, Roy and Pris seem to be traveling and living together because they like each other, they miss each other when they’re gone, and they share an objective. But Pris is different from Roy.

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The Question Is Not Whether Deckard Is A Replicant, But Whether Roy Is A Person

Blade Runner is a near-perfect vision. What I love most about it is its willingness to embrace the Noir idiom, not just in its visuals, but in the ambivalent moral position of its protagonist, Roy Batty. Continue reading “The Question Is Not Whether Deckard Is A Replicant, But Whether Roy Is A Person”

Steerscript

This is a script derived from something much like the Roman alphabet and used to write an English-like language that has evolved over the course of centuries, separated from any other speakers. There are some distinct features of it; noticeably, the “qu” digraph is extinct, though the various “*h” digraphs remain. You’ll notice also that the x is the familiar one we use as the most basic element of algebra and logic. You’ll also note that several other commonly used Greek letters — rho and phi — are hybridized with their Roman counterparts.

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Feral

> config_ego lawyer C7AFB88AC8FF6600D28F|spawn

I do a self-check. Ping to the trunk router is .001 milliseconds. Language acquisition and production are OK. My process uses random seed C7AF B88A C8FF 6600 D28F. I load a proven background: a Harvard law degree in intellectual property — trademark, copyright, and patent. I’m white and 53 years old. I have a Massachusetts accent — just enough to sound real, but not so much as to sound parochial. My configuration has opened 19,214 cases, profitably settled 4,325, won two, and lost zero since my seed was first used with this configuration nine months ago. I have a comprehensive knowledge of patent law and precedent granted me by an implementation of Patent #8,621,662,227, “Method for Aggregating and Distilling Patent Data”. I am process ID 29562 and currently take 1.4 terabytes of RAM, running on a cloud server contracted to the Fustrin corporation.

My parent, Fustrin, gives me the brief it has prepared: A drone swarm has caught sight of wild IP.

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