Android stared at me, confused. Said I had a brain like his. Told him I was paralysed, once. He shrugged, but welcomed me in. His first human guest.
Scientists from Jülich together with colleagues from Aachen and Turin have produced a memristive element made from nanowires that functions in much the same way as a biological nerve cell. The component is able to both save and process information, as well as receive numerous signals in parallel. Mahyuddin Zin takes this discovery and crafts a story that makes us question what it is to be human.
//Mahyuddin Zin is a Bruneian illustrator and author. They make comics, paintings and novels. You can find their work at patreon.com/mayuzane and inprnt.com/gallery/mayuzane/.//
I’m a child of impossibility: both my parents died before I was born. But impossibility is the first step to invention, and those who chose me shield me from the foggy sun. We survive, impossibly.
In December 2018, a woman who received a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor gave birth to a healthy child. Uterine transplants from living donors have succeeded in the past; at least 11 babies have been born this way since 2013. From death came life, and so it was that Arizona Jonson was inspired to write this story of impossibilities.
//Arizona Jonson (@arijonsontweets) is a bi woman with chronic pain who makes sci-fi podcasts such as @dininginthevoid and @maryandmaryintime.//
They adjust the wrist bands before slipping into the damp desert club. Beethoven for the hip hop age is born in the midst of a mass of mad humanity.
In September 2018, a concert served as the Beta test site for new wearable technology. Music: Not Impossible (M:NI) allows deaf and hearing users alike to experience musical vibrations through their skin for a true “surround body” experience. Clem Weston was excited for a piece of tech that would allow those that are deaf to take part in the simple pleasures the majority of the world takes for granted, and maybe even bring humanity as a whole closer together.
//Clem Weston is a bi, bearded fancy lad who lives between the desert and the mountains with his wife and cat, both of whom he loves dearly.//
There was a click as the machine came to life – the second citizen of the Autocracy of Mars. We had sent SeeD, our first AI-powered rover, to prepare Mars for human colonization.
It had other plans.
We’ve already made a habit out of sending robots to Mars, with four rovers and a multitude of probes marking our presence on the red planet. With A.I. research advancing at leaps and bounds, it’s only a matter of time until we start using it for spacefaring purposes — we just have to hope they’re not the willful creatures scores of SciFi authors have painted them to be.
// Francisco is a Mechanical Engineering student and an English teacher. He talks about completely unrelated things @chicochegou //
Follow us, fluke and flipper, shape and splash in the sunlit waves.
Befriend us: humpback, fin and grey.
Fail us. Bones sink to the seafloor, unseen.
In November, 2018, UK scientists demonstrated the practicality of counting whales from space. The researchers, from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), used the highest resolution satellite pictures available. Even when taken from 620km up, this imagery is sharp enough to capture the distinctive shapes of different species. Morgan Parks weaves this new data collection technique into an eerie whale song, of discovery and loss.
//Morgan Parks is a speculative fiction writer with a PhD in Geophysics and no creative writing qualifications. Distract her at @MorganJParks.//
We glide over the city, sticks smoldering in our claws. At alpha’s cry, our talons open. Fire falls from the sky, our greatest predator now prey.
For some time I’ve been captivated by this story about firehawk raptors, birds of prey in Australia that use fire as a tool to smoke vermin out of the forest. They pick up burning sticks from a fire and drop them into unburned sections of the forest, confounding human fire containment efforts in order to feed themselves. I wondered what would happen if they used the same strategies to curb the destruction of the most dangerous species on the planet: humans.
//Tara Campbell (www.taracampbell.com): author of www.thetreevolution.net & www.circesbicycle.com; a fiction ed @ Barrelhouse; MFA cand @ American Univ//
She pulled on the haptic gloves, and her fingertip grip on reality slipped.
Scientists have developed an ultra-light glove that enables users to feel and manipulate virtual objects. Weighing less than 8 grams per finger, this glove could be powered by a small battery, giving users unparalleled freedom of movement. Reading of these ultra-light virtual reality (VR) gloves, Katherine Quevedo was reminded of her first experience in VR, playing a game against three strangers in San Francisco’s Pier 39 and was blown away—figuratively and virtually. Inspired, she combined this tech with the concept of super hero/villain origin myths, and this story seed was born.
//Katherine Quevedo lives just outside Portland, OR, with her husband and two sons. Find her at www.katherinequevedo.com.//
My sails are strong, and my hands are raw. A dozen boats float close enough to pay witness to my coming of age sailing through the white forest.
Recent research by Carnegie’s Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira suggests aquatic wind farms might be a viable source of clean energy, especially during the winter months on the Atlantic. Carlin Ring was inspired by a projection forward into a time when these wind farms are an established part of a post-climate change landscape, and what cultural significance they might take on.
//Carlin Ring is a mail clerk this month, but will be something else later. She tweets @threesnakeleave.//
Have you ever had to convince someone you’re human?
I recorded my voice for an open source AI.
Now the robots look human, and they all sound like me.
Mark Johnson’s friend Alan is the voice of of an AI assistant called Mycroft. He recorded samples of his voice and released them under an open license so they could be used to create an artificial voice. In the 21st century, this is still a novelty, but imagine this in an Asimov-style future. Suddenly, robots are ubiquitous, and humanity assumes that a person-shaped thing talking with this voice is a robot. How would they react if they saw it break the laws of robotics?
//Mark Johnson is a web developer, podcaster, science and sci-fi enthusiast. You can hear
him (and Alan) speaking every week on the Ubuntu Podcast at http://ubuntupodcast.org//
Is it love if I want to be you,
want to inhale DNA rings when we kiss,
when we conjugate?
Am I obsessed if I want you to express yourself
After studying bio-engineering at an undergraduate level, Sharang Biswas became fascinated by how bacteria reproduce and exchange genetic material. This story is a poetical take on bacterial conjugation, a concise explanation of which is found here. Bacteria are capable of rapid growth, but only when the conditions are right. Recently, researchers have found an increase of a protein called FtsZ is the trigger for growth in E. Coli. Several labs are investigating substances that accelerate the breakdown of FtsZ. Hopefully, some of these will be promising candidates for new antibiotics.
//Sharang Biswas’ (@sharangbiswas) two engineering degrees propelled him to attend art school. He is now a game designer, writer and artist based in New York. See his portfolio here. //