Let’s Go Into Space.

The last few weeks my mind has been torn between the World of Darkness as well as SciFi, for different reasons.
And both interests have music and sounds that go with them, at least in my personal part of the woods. And my mind. Mostly my mind.

Science Fiction, for me, is mostly about vast, far-reaching vistas and the stories told in them. (And also stories about problems that are solved either by science and/or human/alien ingenuity as well as about how society will change and adapt across short and long time-frames and the experiences that come with them, and NOT about stuff being solved by faith/religion/belief… But that’s another, long, ranting and hate-filled post waiting to happen…)

And to get into that space-of-mind there’s nothing like Ambient music.
About Five years ago, I had the great opportunity to stumble upon the artist “deepspace” over on last.fm – He was one of my recommendations. And is still one of those encounters that make me willing and glad to give the last.fm folks money from time to time. It just proved to me that their algorithms work. (And that proper tagging and sorting of music for personal consumption is important. But, again, a different post. Also long, but with a lot less hate.)

His albums “The Barometric Sea” and “The Barometric Sun” blew me away. Not because they are upbeat or uptempo. No. Quite the opposite. Quite the exact, polar opposite. They are deep, slow, ponderous and they pull you in. When I close my eyes while listening to those CDs, I get sucked away into deep space. I feel the hard radiation emanating from Pulsars washing over me. I feel the harsh caress of solar winds pushing me towards the hard and jagged embrace of Oort clouds. I can see light break, fracture and be distorted by hard-gravity wells, black holes, white holes and the occasional supernova. I let my mind expand to take in and measure the whole galaxy and I can start imagining wonderful, awe-inspiring stories happening all over it.

While I’m deeply in love with the hard, harsh and quick style of Cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk/transhuman literature, I am still heavily drawn towards that epic, immeasurable scope of slow, socio-historical science fiction. Okay, I admit it. I like to throw in some forms of FTL travel and FTL communication, but I generally like describing starships behaving like they should under Newtonian physics. I like short bursts of thrust then long “glides” and turns and then new bursts of counter-thrust as a means of travelling inside a solar system’s gravity well, for example. While the image of space-fighters is a cool one (And I like reading about them, see my love for the Rogue Squadron comics and novels!), I much rather have combat to be between ships that hold a substantial crew. And it should be short and deadly as well as slow and ponderous at the same time. A captain should be able to detect her opponent launching a salvo of torpedoes. But they will take many minutes to cross the vast space between those two ships. And when her ship’s counter-measures and point-defense fire don’t manage to take them all down, the crew should know that something horrible will happen in a few minutes that they’re powerless to defend against. They can only prepare themselves and the shortly-needed medical and technical first-aid and triage. And they would need to keep calm nerves and deal with the chance of sudden, inevitable death they just know will come to some of them.

At the same time, I want to have a ship enter a virginal solar system and start taking in all its grandeur. The colour, age and power of its sun. Its orbiting planets and moons and gas-giants. It’s comet-clouds and its apparent age. The cataloging of ancient features and the extrapolating of its history and past by scanning, looking, measuring and testing all the different inputs and samples one can obtain. To be exited about finding similarities which mean that a planet is habitable. Or be excited about getting results that, if repeatable and substantial, could mean a re-definition of old-held beliefs.

This is the Science Fiction that I enjoy reading and writing about.

And this kind of Science Fiction goes well with something special.
A free one-hour long ambient track by “deepspace”.

deepspace – Another Empty Galaxy | 2008 | Ambient

(If that doesn’t work for you, go directly to his last.fm page and download from there. It’s free, it’s legal and it’s completely awesome. And while you’re at it… Write this guy some encouraging words, will you? He deserves them… | http://www.last.fm/music/Deepspace/_/Another+Empty+Galaxy)

Listen to it now.
Download it and listen to it when you’re in the mood.
Or when you want to get in the mood.

But listen to it.
And try to think about something vast and beautiful.

And this time, I’m closing with two pictures that go well with today’s track.
[right-click -> “View Image” to see them in their full glory. Credit is below each picture.]



FutureTech – Now

Okay, apart from all the iPhone talk, let’s focus just on Siri now.
I just watched the ad for it, and read some live-tester comments.

And, for fuck’s sake… That’s pure SciFi. That’s the stuff that makes a future, SciFi society. The iPhone doesn’t have an AI, but… With constant internet access and the ability to adapt to your language? You’re not going to notice.

I mean, really. Just look at the ad. How the people interact with this (and by tester testimony, it seems like this is not re-touched). How the woman sets the time. And how the iPhone replies. How the guy at the start interacts with a new message and then pulls up his playlist. Oh, and the line “Text my wife I’m gonna be thirty minutes late.” spoken and executed… Send some serious geek-shivers down my spine.

Sure, the iPhone and other phones had voice-control, but this… This is something different.

This is a slice of all those things we were not promised in SciFi novels because no one thought we’d ever be connected like this. This is stuff that Shadowrun4 and Eclipse Phase started showing us. I remember in 2004, when Shadowrun4 came out, how utterly dismissive I was of Comlinks and “WiFi everywhere”. It’s now 2011. And the iPhone 4S will be a near-perfect Comlink or a non-sentient muse.

Fuck jetpacks, fuck flying cars.
We’re living in the damn future.
And I really am loving it.