USC|5D’s the Science of Fiction through the eyes of Hugh Hart for the New Yorker

We had a blast and we have another one coming your way in the fall!


My, but it’s been an interesting year for the future of lifestyle biotechnology!

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Futuristic Megacities

Full Moon, Lightbox, 2012

New photographic collages by Chinese artist Yang Yongliang reveal one artist’s incredible vision of the terrifying yet mesmerizing results of urbanization and industrialization. A beautiful example of solitary World Building. More at the link below. 

[via Colossal] [via Vanja Alispahic]

World Building Lit



In his new book, Building Imaginary Worlds: The Theory and History of Subcreation, Mark J. P. Wolf notes that researchers have suggested that the act of building imaginary worlds may serve an evolutionary purpose. He cites Norman Holland’s book, Literature and the Brain (2009), and points specifically to the idea that “humans have evolved special cognitive systems that enable us to participate in these fictional worlds.” 


Wolf’s introduction links the work of Marsha Kinder on “supersystems of entertainment,” Janet Murray’s “hyperserials,” Lev Manovich’s “database narratives,” Henry Jenkins’ “transmedia storytelling” and Umberto Eco’s notion of “completely furnished worlds.” Subsequent chapters detail the history of imaginary worlds (including the illustrated novels by French author Albert Robida at the turn of the last century, pictured here). He also describes the narrative structures used to tell stories of imaginary worlds, and outlines various ways of creating these worlds. The book concludes with a timeline of imaginary worlds, starting with Ninth century BC and The Odyssey, and ending 56 pages later in 2011 with Yalda’s universe from Orthogonal, Book One: The Clockwork Rocket. Wolf’s book overall is a terrific overview of worldbuilding and transmedia storytelling. 


[via Holly Willis]

The Moonbase Prints Itself

World Building on the moon? Yep. The European Space agency is testing “3D printing” a moon base out of layers of lunar soil. 

“Terrestrial 3D printing technology has produced entire structures,” Laurent Pambaguian, heading the project for ESA, said in the statement. “Our industrial team investigated if it could similarly be employed to build a lunar habitat.”  

[ Read more on HuffPo] [via Clea D Waite]

Ra Ra Riot's new songs create stories out of worlds imagined by William Gibson and Ray Kurzweil.

“… it’s almost like fan fiction. Both songs are about different characters that were directly inspired by the first three Gibson books…”

[full article at MTV Hive] [via Eric Matthies]

World Building in Contemporary Painting


In her essay introducing a show titled “Remote Viewing: Invented Worlds in Recent Painting,” Elizabeth Sussman asks what makes the worlds of the artists in the show, which included Julie Mehretu and Matthew Ritche, new and interesting. She answers: 

"I would argue that it is the coexistence of abundant information - visual and literary, hallucinogenic, from the past or the present - with a huge amount of data: scientific theory, technological models, maps, mass-media quotes. This information and this data make strange bedfellows, many in fact meeting on the bed/canvas for the very first time. And they don’t lie down - rather, in this art, vast amounts of information and data stand up and demand to be reckoned with." 

[post by Holly Willis

World Building Solves Crimes!


"IC-CRIME is a pioneering platform for interdisciplinary, cyber-enabled crime reconstruction through innovative methodology and engagement (IC-CRIME).  Using 3D laser scanning technology paired with browser-based 3D game engines, the IC-CRIME system brings law enforcement teams together into 3D virtual reconstructions of real-world crime scenes to collaborate to solve crimes."

For all you would be Sherlocks out there, a guide to

DIY using SketchUp


[via Vanja Alispahic]

"It is necessary to create constraints, in order to invent freely. In poetry the constraint can be imposed by meter, foot, rhyme, by what has been called the "verse according to the ear."… In fiction, the surrounding world provides the constraint. This has nothing to do with realism… A completely unreal world can be constructed, in which asses fly and princesses are restored to life by a kiss; but that world, purely possible and unrealistic, must exist according to structures defined at the outset (we have to know whether it is a world where a princess can be restored to life only by the kiss of a prince, or also by that of a witch, and whether the princess’s kiss transforms only frogs into princes or also, for example, armadillos)."

Umberto Eco, postscript to The Name of the Rose.