HEAVENLY PALACES AND SPACE JUNKS: CHINA’S QUIET SPACE REVOLUTION

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by Justin Reynolds

There was some apprehension as a Chinese ‘Heavenly Palace’ fell to Earth last week. The 8.5 tonne Tiangong-1 space station, adrift since China’s space agency lost connection with it two years ago, made an ‘uncontrolled’ re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere early on Easter Monday.

Fortunately there was never much cause for concern, the European Space Agency calculating the chances of being hit by debris as ’10 million times smaller than the yearly chance of being hit by lightning’. Most of the station burned up on contact with Earth’s atmosphere and the remaining fragments plunged into the South Pacific. But the episode had a eerie resonance, symbolising something of the West’s prevailing perception of China as an enigmatic, technologically advanced state, glowing with – rather like its wayward satellite – a nebulous sense of danger.Continue Reading

THE UNDERCROFT – ART, SPACE AND POWER

by Laura Potts

Artistic culture and practice has changed drastically over the past few centuries. From Renaissance painting and its high-minded focus on aesthetic and documentary purpose, to the eruption of absurdist Dada work in 1915, to the stark political statements of much modern art. The aesthetics of art and its chosen themes are not the only thing that has changed though; the spaces where we encounter art have also transformed.

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THE ROAD TO FULLY AUTOMATED LUXURY GAY SPACE COMMUNISM: PART 1

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by Zoe Harding

Let’s leave the sordid world of Earth behind for a bit, and explore the potential of a concept that’s kind of easy to dismiss out of hand.

In his venerable Culture series, Iain M Banks describes a future society based around Minds, unimaginably super-intelligent AIs that control vast ships and space-going habitats, on which a massive collection of alternately hedonistic and depressed lesser-biological beings (assumed to be human, although it’s never made explicit) live pampered and comfortable lives. The Culture is semi-utopian, although, if it resembles any society, it resembles the US in its relations with other civilisations, The books frequently focus on both the skulduggery necessary to keep the civilisation running and the injustice of being born outside it. Nonetheless, it is a portrait of a society in which humans (probably) are protected, cared for and treated equally through advanced technology.

Because utopias aren’t easy or fun to write, few societies like the Culture have appeared in fiction before or since. There is one notable version, however, in the form of an oddly idealistic leftie meme: Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism.Continue Reading

THE SUMMER OF STARS LESS STRIKING

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Biancamaria Frabotta (1946 – ), ‘L’estate delle stelle…’

The summer of stars less striking
encouraged locals and strangers
to hope in a return of ancient climates.
On the yellow grass unstable in the sparse
humours drinks remained half-full
another fuel to have sleepless nights.Continue Reading

LIVING WITH LESS

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by Candice Nembhard

I have always been fascinated by the dynamics of space; how we utilise it, what we decide to fill it with and what our own space says about us. If we think globally about ‘space’, its conception works in tandem with a few other fundamental principles of our existence; time, energy and space work in accordance with each other allowing us to exist, perceive and theorise.

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NO MAN’S SKY – A REVIEW

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by Paige Selby-Green

I stand in the shadow of a yawning cave mouth bristling with brightly coloured crystals and glowing mushrooms. The sky is emerald, the hills are teal. A scarlet starship squats, smoking, on the ground. A polite voice tells me that my life support is low. The planet is Peonidas. The game is No Man’s Sky. Continue Reading

CRITERION

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Selenia Bellavia, ‘Criterio’

From the closed recesses of a star
you ask me the real portion
of the clothed hypothesis
you cannot imagine
you do not know the rustle
of the river undivided by an ethosContinue Reading

NORFOLK AND NORWICH FESTIVAL 2016: GET OUT THERE AND GET TALKING

by Paige Selby-Green

A crush of smells. A roar of voices. Low, sultry light — the kind of light that encourages deep talking and kisses in corners. The Murderers is one of the city’s best pubs, and for good reason. But after just one drink I was out the door and off into the chilly dark with one thing on my mind. Just a few streets over a man was about to do some very odd things in the name of art, and I was dead set on being there. The event was Flat, and it marked the beginning of the annual Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

Not even the cold or one rude whistler could spoil the mood. The first half of Flat was spellbinding, watched in silence by an enthralled crowd. The second half was less about mesmerising leaps and more about thinking, asking its viewers questions about their perceptions of time, space, and gravity. That’s how it always is with art. You think you’re just here to watch a man jump around in a harness? Surprise! Have some deep thoughts instead. It’s a constant no matter the medium, and while it may weird out some it’s also the most important thing that art does. Art makes us think. It makes us talk. Art without conversation is meaningless.Continue Reading

CONSTELLATIONS

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Gilda Musa (1922-1999), ‘Costellazioni’

Coppering of stars, gold
illuminated designs, visible flashing
vanguards of a thousand million invisibiles,
sigils of a space that’s close and signs
of remote spacesContinue Reading

SPACE SPACE I CRAVE

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by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Alda Merini (1931-2009), from ‘Vuoto d’amore’

Space space I crave, all the space
to sweetly move, wounded;
I crave space to sing to grow
fall and leap across the ditchContinue Reading

DARK NIGHT STRANGLES THE TRAVELLING LAMP

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

Commander Coates of New Earth Transfers descends
from a helicopter’s exoskeleton and battles the gales
to signal Anna Garvey, protestor, handcuffed to the rubble
of a Wonder. He fixes goggles to his eyes, flashes his ID.

Don’t tell me, he says. You swallowed the key.

These streets have spent a year in the tinny grips
of radio screech. He tells her she’s going to catch
her death, and reaches in a pouch on his belt
for a halo of rusty keys. Drones stare from the helicopter.

Don’t tell me, he says. You’ve made up your mind.Continue Reading

THE SKY STILL HOLDS US

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Mariangela Gualtieri (1951-), from ‘Naturale sconosciuto’

The sky still holds us
does not expel from its rotation
this round home of ours
and we reach the final ledge
with light articulated by stars
no longer looked at if not to call
their name.Continue Reading

A COMET, THEY SAID

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by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Mariangela Gualtieri (1951 -), from ‘Bestia di Gioia’.

They said it was a comet
smashing into the hardness of Earth
that brought water to the rocks
of our planet.Continue Reading