Make It Sew

Scifiinterfaces.com is thrilled to announce the completion of…a follow-up book!

embroidered

From the back cover:

Few people realize the indelible mark that crafting in general—and sewing in particular—have made on science fiction as a genre. Building on the success of the original work, Make It Sew: Crafting Lessons from Science Fiction scours the history of popular and obscure science fiction to find and analyze the best patterns from the textile arts.

Make it sew number one

Chapters include

  • The fabric of the Federation
  • Seam Reapers
  • Lilo’s stitch
  • Famous and infamous seamsters: From Picard’s plackets to Darth Quilt
  • Warp & Weft
  • The rise of the RoboBobbins

Sewlo

Early Praise for Make It Sew:

 
I was at my wit’s end when little Timmy asked me to help him with his cosplays, but now thanks to Make it Sew I know I’m using the very cuts and fabrics that changed the face of science fiction.  Timmy couldn’t be happier, and his Leia Slave costume couldn’t fit any better.
Betty Womack
from Lands Ford, Indiana
 
This season its all about futuristic fabrics and forward-thinking colors for your home and wardrobe. From fur-lined Barbarella bedrooms to form-fitting imperial blast armor, Make It Sew is the inspiration behind my brand new sci-fi product line.
 
It’s not Science fiction, it’s Science Fashion, people. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get crafting.  Sew. Say. We. All.
Laura Roslin
President of the Colonies

Leeloo-sweater

Fans of the book will be excited to learn of a companion website, scifiinterfacing.com. Let me know in the comments below if you’d like to be on the mailing list for when it goes live!

 

 

 

Credit where credit is due:

  • Han Sewlo is holding a Star Wars quilt actually made by RobinLovesQuilting. Check it out on her blog.
  • Leeloo did not knit that herself. It’s from Dorothy Perkins.
  • Picard is working on a sampler straight from the hilarious Subversive Cross Stitch, specifically the “Bitch, Please” kit. Go buy one, because awesome.

Fifth Element tees

overview

Major thanks to everyone who came out and joined me for the first ever scifiinterfaces.com movie night at The New Parkway in Oakland! It was a sold-out show, and while there were a few glitches, folks are telling me they had a great time and are looking forward to the next one. There will be a more detailed report once the pre-show video comes out. But in the meantime, this: If you didn’t win the trivia contest or weren’t able to attend, you can still get your hands on the “movie night” t-shirts I debuted there.

Allshirts

Head on over to the spreadshirt shop. It’s ugly (with the default CSS). It doesn’t have a custom URL or anything. It only has 5 products at the moment. But hey, that’s all part of the charm if you’d like to wear your sci-fi interface nerdiness with pride.

http://26253.spreadshirt.com/

P.S. I have no idea why the women’s KEEP CLEAR tee is not appearing in orange since I designed it like the Men’s tee, but I have a request with Spreadshirt now. Hopefully it’ll be fixed soon.

Berlin?

I’m thinking the Bay Area has an appetite for maybe two movie nights a year (let me know if I’m wrong) but I’d also love to try this in Berlin. Do you (or someone you know) know of a cinema in Berlin like the New Parkway that might be interested in my replicating this there?

Introducing Clayton Beese

Now this this exciting. Scifiinterface.com’s first guest review begins this week! That’s right, someone took a look at the terrifying Contribute! page, and stepped up to the sci-fi plate! So with no further ado, let me introduce Clayton Beese, and share his answers to a few questions I posed to him.

Clayton Beese

Hi there. Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your name, where are you from, how do you spend your time?

Hi! I’m Clayton Beese, a User Experience designer from Overland Park, Kansas, and I’m someone who is drawn to the idea of storytelling as a very basic human activity. Outside of work I bike, I’m an amateur writer, I am usually the designated photographer on family trips, and I like taking random classes in things like rock climbing, blacksmithing, and Tai Chi to see what they’re like. Science fiction has always captured my interest because it asks questions about our needs as people, and what we want to see out of our future.

What are some of your favorite sci-fi interfaces (Other than in Wall-E)? (And why.)

ironMan_mkVII_HUD_01_jayse_hansen1

Iron Man: Tony Stark has managed to create an interface that tracks his eye focus, his conversational commands, and his gestures perfectly, and he has mastered their use. I think it’s one of the biggest gaps in current gesture technology, in that they’re only tracking one piece of cognition that their user is working with. By just capturing the motion of a person’s arms the interface is missing out on eye focus, which is a huge hint as to what the user actually wants to work with; and without being able to capture the random vocal thoughts that seep out, the interface is lacking context to add richness to the choices of gesture commands.

battlestar_galactica-last-supper

The new Battlestar Galactica: The show got to play with two completely different technology aesthetics. The Galactica is a brutalist machine, meant to take a beating and come out the other side still working. It has redundant systems, physical hardware everywhere it can, and a lived-in quality that says those systems are well used. The Galactica isn’t the most efficient, but it gets across its needs. The Cylon ships are the complete opposite. They speak to interactions that don’t require memorization or practice, and instead speak of an intuitive grasp of a system that can figure out what you want to do. The ships are so built around the idea that their users interact at a higher level than mere physical-ness that the walls aren’t even painted.

gurren_lagann_387_1680

And, from pure enjoyment of how intuitive and awesome they’ve managed to make everything, Gurren Lagann.

Why did you pick Wall-E for your first scifiinterfaces review?

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 5.03.12 PM

I really like how Wall-E shows the two spectrums of endurance technology: both post-apocalyptic hardened ruggedness, and post-AI takeover hands-off automation. There was also a lot to work with in the motivations that the different interfaces were built to serve. For me, watching how the Axiom works is always fun because it describes what Buy-N-Large expected out of its customers. I think there are a lot of companies that would like to do what BNL did, and the movie asks us if it’s really a world we want to live in.

Also, of the Pixar movies that has interfaces to review, Wall-E is my favorite.

What was your biggest surprise when doing the review?

I was surprised at how easy it was to descend into nitpicking aspects of the interface designs, without acknowledging that they were very effective at their purpose. After writing a review, I could go back and realize that I made it sound like the interface failed completely when that wasn’t my intention at all. Especially when most of the interfaces I went into the most detail on were the ones that I really enjoyed. Pixar did a good job relaying Buy-N-Large’s design goals and intentions through their interfaces, and I really wanted to get that idea through when I did my reviews.

What else are you working on?

The biggest single other project I’m working on (outside of work at least!) is my first full-length novel. I’ve written a lot of stuff for fun, but this novel has grown far past my initial attempts to just write down some fun scenes and concepts I was working on. It’s turned into a way of getting down ideas I’ve had floating around about artificial intelligence and having fun writing long form plot that is actually intended to be marketable:

When a vindictive fellow pilot tries to steal Elizabeth’s warship and Artificial Intelligence, Phi, Elizabeth suddenly realizes that there’s more to an interplanetary war than just fighting against enemy forces. Elizabeth will have to tease out who she can trust among her fellow pilots, and whether she should hide the surprising intelligence Phi displays from her paranoid superiors if she wants to survive the growing conflict.

It’s aimed at a high school reader, and just needs a bit more work before it’ll be ready to go out and look for an agent.

Scripts!

Such a cool collection of interactive voice response systems, with high fives out to everyone who thought up great (and ofttimes obscure) “talkie computers” from decades of sci-fi from the 1950s to the 2000-teens. By name…

ForbiddenPlanet-085

  • kedamono x7
  • Joe Bloch x10
  • dhwood
  • Burning x4
  • Kelley Strang
  • dhwood
  • brightrock
  • Clayton
  • Pixel I/O
  • pavellishin x2
  • Clayton
  • @CarsTheElectric
  • Steve Silvas x2
  • Matt Sheehe
  • Ben
  • Matt Sheehe
  • Joe Bloch
  • pavellishin
  • Matt Sheehe x2
  • Lela x2
  • NP
  • Clayton x2

The list of talkie computers we collected is “Robby the Robot, Adam Link, Jupiter 2, Landru, M-5, Nomad probe, The Oracle, Beta-V, HAL, Colossus, BOXX, Thermostellar Triggering Device, IRAC, the Übercomputer, C-3PO, Alex 7000, Proteus IV, Zen, Orac, Slave, V-Ger, Artificial persons, Dr. Theopolis and TWKE-4, MU-TH-UR 6000, KITT, Replicants, Image Machine, MCP, SAL, Max, Holly, Kryten!, L7, 790, Sphere, Ship [sic], AMEE, Ship, Andromeda Ascendant, Zero, S.A.R.A.H., Andy the Deputy AI, Icarus, KITT, Otto, Gerty, and Jarvis.” Think you could name the movies and TV shows these are from just from these names?

colossus-and-forbin

The next step is to build a collection of the scripts of these interactions, since we’ll be analyzing any peculiar, non-standard-English that we find. I’m down to provide these scripts myself, but it would be easier if we crowdsource it. If you’re up to it, head to the following form to add the metadata and line-by-line script of the interaction. You can often find the scripts with a simple Google Search, or by (popping in the VHS/DVD/Blu-Ray you own, finding a video of the scene on some online video service and transcribing it from there. We are interested in word-perfect transcriptions. Don’t sweat it if you don’t have the time yourself. As of Thanksgiving weekend, I’ll manually complete any unfinished ones that I find.

KITT2000

The form to add scripts: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/
1fLJKW_PviuWezpDKtUrnMO8IH3CE_f9fT4FpQznI6oo/viewform

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 22.19.39

A call out for call outs

Hey small slice of the internet. I’m working with an awesome linguist, Anthony Stone of operativewords.com, on a project and since I don’t know everything but you do, I’m wondering if you can help. We’re collecting examples of scenes from more serious movies and TV shows where a human is interacting with a artificial intelligence primarily through speech.

Example 1

In the ST:TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror" Captain Kirk speaks with his computer to learn if the ship could be used to get him back in the "good universe." (This dialogue was featured in the Learning chapter of the book.)

Computer

Example 2: In the movie "Logan’s Run" Logan speaks with the Übercomputer twice: once for questioning about the ankh, and once to report his findings about Sanctuary.

LogansRun128

There are others, but we’d like to collect as many examples as we can to get a good "corpus" to work from on this sooper secret thingy. But of course it’s in the service of a blog post, so contribute away, and we’ll thank you in the post once it finally comes out. What do you think: Can you name any?

Boycotting Ender’s Game

Today Ender’s Game hits cinemas in the United States, and there’s controversy around it. A number of folks have asked if I would be seeing it and/or reviewing it for scifiinterfaces.com, in light of the boycott against it.

In case you didn’t know, the author of the original work is a far-right-wing extremist who amongst other things, has used his notoriety to spread lies about and fight against gay rights, as well as being a vitriolic board member of the hate-group-with-a-baked-cookie-name National Organization for Marriage. (arensb on Epsilon Clue has a well-sourced article that traces many other examples, should you want to check on details.)

Is it possible to separate an author from his or her work? Can you enjoy the Ring Cycle or The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock as a Jewish person? Can a misogynist enjoy The Avengers? Should you see Minority Report if you believe depression is, well, real? Can you watch Rosemary’s Baby if you’re firmly against statutory rape? I’m being oblique with the references, but each is a genuinely tricky question. There are lots of angles to fret over. Is the author still alive? Was the distasteful part a privately held opinion or public efforts? Is the content of their work distasteful, or just their real-world actions? In the case of Ender’s Game, should you "punish" the cast and crew who worked on the film but are outspoken in their support of gay rights and condemnation of Card? There’s even some evidence that Card won’t be getting any money from the film at all, but is profiting from the increased book sales that the movie has engendered. So what then? What good does the boycott do? It’s a rich topic, and worth discussing with friends and family at the next lull in conversation.

Ultimately I’ve decided not to see the film in cinemas. One’s efforts of avoidance should correspond to the toxin in question, and Card has proven himself to be deeply toxic. Plus I don’t want to encourage a sequel or franchise, where he might make money or his books sell more as a result.

I may watch it on a plane, or borrow it from a local library once it’s there. I want the movie industry to know that it needs to think about the people with whom it does business, either as an author or a producer, and money is the thing that will get their attention. Even though there are plenty of talented people who worked on the film, I just can’t stand the idea of putting money into Orson’s wallet, directly through salary/residuals, or indirectly through book sales, that he’s going to use against me, my family, and my friends.

I’m still making my mind up about whether to review the interfaces and interaction design. It’s something that I can uniquely offer to the cast and crew for their efforts. But I’ve got months before the movie is released to DVD & Blu-Ray to decide that.

Every thoughtful sci-fi fan should wrestle with this question. Some people I greatly respect have looked at the same questions and come to the opposite conclusion. They will see the film. If you’ve decided you are going to go, please consider buying a "hater offset" (my term: it’s like carbon offsets, but you know, for Card) and make a donation for the cost of your ticket to a pro-queer charity, like SkipEndersGame or EqualityInitiative. If they strike it big as a result of the "buyer boycott," it will send an equally big message to the film makers.