Why super-powers should be all or nothing in sci-fi

I have never completely understood the latest sci-fi fixation with ‘super powers’, where the main protagonist is just some ordinary person who just happens to be able to go invisible, or read minds, or teleport (but not all three). Inevitably this singular ability then becomes the ‘gimmick’ on which plots are hung. To which I … More Why super-powers should be all or nothing in sci-fi

The silliness of Star Wars’ single-climate planets

Single climate worlds are all through the Star Wars universe – worlds that, inexplicably, have a single ecosystem – ice, desert or forest, usually. Yet they’re all habitable by humans. I can see where the idea comes from. Here on Earth we often travel from one climate to another. Islands, particularly, often have a single … More The silliness of Star Wars’ single-climate planets

In which Elvis chats with me about ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

I ran into Elvis in a spaghetti restaurant the other day He lives on Mars, disguised as a walrus – something that tells me he probably isn’t the real Elvis. But he talks sense, and he’d just seen the new Star Wars movie. As had I. Elvis was devouring a plate of bolognaise when I … More In which Elvis chats with me about ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

How I got confused by Randall Munroe’s new book on science

I had a chance the other day to glance through Randall Munroe’s new book Thing Explainer (Houghton Mifflin 2015), explaining science and technology in ‘simple’ language. It’s something New Scientist has been trying for a while, too. And it’s great to see science presented in straight-forward ways. It’s important. The problem I’ve got is that … More How I got confused by Randall Munroe’s new book on science