What to read and watch from fresh science fiction: Mars, cyborgs and rebellious AI
It’s spring Friday outside, and I really want to distract from coding, testing and other work matters. We have compiled for you a selection of your favorite science fiction books and films that have been released in about the last year.
The Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson
A new novel by the author of the “Martian Trilogy” (“Red Mars”, “Green Mars” and “Blue Mars”). The action takes place in 2047, the moon is colonized by China. The book has three main characters: an American IT specialist, a Chinese blogger journalist, and the daughter of a Chinese finance minister. All three are drawn into harsh events that will affect not only the moon, but also the earth.
The Sea of Rust, Robert Cargill
30 years ago, people lost the war against rebel machines. The earth is devastated, and only the remaining robots roam the ashes and deserts. The two main artificial intelligences “living” in supercomputers are now trying to unite the minds of all robots into a single network and turn them into an extension of themselves. The book tells about the adventures of a scavenger robot that roams the open spaces of the American Midwest.
“Perfect Imperfection,” Jacek Dukai
At the end of the 21st century, the Earth sends a research expedition to a strange astrophysical anomaly, but, having not reached the target, the ship disappears. It is found several centuries later, in the XXIX century, and on board a dead ship is only one astronaut, Adam Zamoysky. He does not remember what happened, does not understand how he survived, and besides does not appear on the crew list, but this is not what worries him in the first place. Adam found himself in a world where the very meaning of the word “man” has changed, where language has been modified, where reality is recreated, where it is changeable, and the very concept of personality has been transformed beyond recognition. Here, competition is the engine of evolution, and the winner is the one who better controls the resources of the planet and the laws of physics themselves. There is a difficult struggle for power between people, alien civilizations and posthuman creatures. This is the world
“Dogs of War”, Adrian Tchaikovsky
Bioforms are genetically modified animals with increased intelligence and various implants. In fact, they are weapons; they were created for military and police (punitive) operations. The plot is based on an ethical conflict between a person and his creation, and the analogy is more than transparent: after all, many of us think about what the improvement of artificial intelligence technologies will turn out for humanity.
The Return of the Eagle, Vladimir Fadeev
In the late 80s, a group of nuclear physicists tried to use the chance to prevent the country's catastrophe by becoming a team of the mystical ship Orel, which invariably returned to our reality three years before the national tragedy. The result of the mission is still unknown, but it is in our hands. The scene is the village of Dedinovo, the birthplace of the Russian tricolor and the first warship Orel.
"Burnt offering", Caesar Zbeshkhovsky
This is a world in which you can exchange thoughts, feelings and memories, like files. This is a world in which there is a war with the Locusts - mutated people, whose goals no one knows, and communication with the territories occupied by it is lost. This is a world in which artificial intelligence and modified soldiers have turned battles into an art form; a world in which the soul is not a metaphor, but a very real phenomenon.
Franciszek Elias, heir to the Elias Electronics Corporation, is hiding with his family in a huge family estate in the High Castle, not suspecting that he will soon witness incredible horrors associated with the very essence of this reality. And in the planet’s orbit, the Heart of Darkness again appears, an interdimensional ship that once disappeared into the depths of space. Now, having fallen into the space-time loop, he himself turned into an impenetrable riddle, returning for the sixth time. The ship does not communicate, does not transmit any signals, it is not known what or who is on board. Only one thing is clear: before the disappearance, he discovered something unimaginable even in comparison with the purpose of his mission - to find the Higher Mind.
The series "Black Mirror" has long become a cultural phenomenon. The term "series" is applied to it conditionally, rather, it is an anthology of various scenarios and visions of our immediate technogenic future. And at the very end of 2018, an interactive film “Brandashmyg” was released under the “umbrella brand” of the “Black Mirror”. The main outline of the plot: the mid-1980s, a young man dreams of turning a book-game of one of the writers into a gorgeous computer game. And for about 1.5 hours, the viewer is repeatedly offered to make a choice for the character, and the further course of the plot depends on this. Game lovers are familiar with this mechanics. However, if in games everything usually comes down to a couple of different endings, then “Brandashmyg” has ten of them. One inconvenience: due to technical implementation, the movie can only be viewed on the Netflix website.
Alita: Battle Angel
This film is an adaptation of old manga and anime, plus the creativity of the producers and the director. The distant future, the middle of the third millennium. Humanity does not flourish: after the nightmare that ended 300 years ago, the elite settled in a giant flying city, and underneath it the poor remnants of humanity survive in slums. Cyborgization is as common as brushing your teeth in the morning, and often very little organic matter remains from the person, everything else is replaced by mechanisms, and very bizarre ones. One of the characters finds the remains of a cyborg girl in a dump, restores her, but she does not remember who and where. But the film has a telling name, and soon Alita demonstrates the incredible capabilities of her artificial body.
A strange and unusual film for modern Hollywood. According to all the canons, this is science fiction, but also a viscous psychological thriller.
After a meteorite fell on the coast in the United States, an anomalous zone formed, covered by an energy dome, which is gradually expanding. It is impossible to see what is inside the zone from the outside, but obviously there is nothing good there - several reconnaissance groups have not returned. Natalie Portman plays one member of yet another group, this time out of 5 female scientists. This is the story of their journey to the epicenter of the zone.
Australian cinema is quite distinctive, and “Upgrade” is a good example. The near future, full of drones, universal chipization of the population, cyber implants, unmanned vehicles and other attributes. The main character is far from all these high technologies of yours; he loves old muscle cars, which he repairs with his own hands at the request of wealthy customers. As a result of a strange car accident, a gang attacks them with his wife. The wife is killed, and he is turned into a disabled person paralyzed below the neck. One of the clients, a very strange type and the owner of a very cool IT company, offers the protagonist to implant the latest secret development - a chip with built-in artificial intelligence that takes control of the body. Now you can begin the search for the wife's killers.
And yes, Australians are good at shooting battle scenes.
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We are interested in what else of fiction you have seen in the last year? Write in the comments.
Also pay attention to:
The series "Love, death and robots"
The series "Modified carbon"
The series "Expansion"