Category: Tron

The Future Sounds of Yesterday: A Sequence of Synthesizers in Science Fiction

Music and technology have always gone hand in hand—and the explosive flowering of music as an art form in the last century is also the story of the explosive growth of technology. Indeed, people have recognized the potential of computers to revolutionize music since before there even were computers. In 1842, writing about the theoretical uses of Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, computer-science progenitor Ada Lovelace enthused that once the fundamentals of harmony and musical composition were properly understood, “the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.” (And there’s something wondrous about a woman at the dawn of the Victorian Age dreaming of something now commonplace with electronic groups such as Daft Punk.) Like computing itself, electronic music began as the arcane province of technology specialists and slowly became a truly democratic force that put the power to change the world—or at least soundtrack it—in the hands of everyone. And because cutting-edge technology is particularly good at sounding alien and futuristic, it’s meshed perfectly with science fiction as a subject matter. Below is a brief history of the ways those three elements—the music, the tech, and the SF themes—have intersected and influenced each other, in various media, over time.

Originally published Jan. 3 in Clarkesworld Magazine. Read the complete article.

Limitless’ brainpower plot isn’t all that crazy

Recent films offer up some weird science, but believe it or not, some of it’s quite possible

When it comes to science-fiction movies, the fiction tends to trump the science. And that can be just fine — movies are supposed to be entertaining, and nothing saps the joy out of them more quickly than complaining that there’s no sound in space, so the Death Star should’ve exploded in total silence. You’ve got to meet the movie halfway. But it’s also hard to do that unless the filmmakers give you some plausible reason to believe that tyrannosaurs could be resurrected, or Captain Kirk could beam himself up.

We looked at a half-dozen recent movies — including the new thriller “Limitless,” out March 18 — to see how their science stacked up, and whether their near-future inventions would be anything we’d actually want to see in real life.

Originally published March 7, 2011 on Read the complete article.

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