Review: TRSF (Technology Review Science Fiction Magazine)

Title: TRSF — (an annual science fiction magazine)
Editor: Stephen Cass
Publisher: Technology Review

Cover Blurb:
The best new science fiction inspired by today’s emerging technologies.


For me, the most exciting thing about the new annually published science fiction magazine TRSF is that it’s published by Technology Review Magazine, one of the most interesting science and technology magazines on the market. What’s so special about Technology Review? It’s published by MIT, a.k.a. the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is the premiere engineering, science, and research institution in the world.

I should also mention that I work at MIT, and I received my copy of TRSF from the publisher. So, I may be a slight bit biased here, but good fiction speaks for itself and TRSF sings! Given MIT’s intellectual and scientific resources, it is not surprising that Technology Review (TR to those of us who know and love the magazine) features some of the most fascinating articles about cutting edge science, clever new inventions, and mind-boggling discoveries being written today. Science + Fiction + MIT = TR, an awesome hard science fiction magazine that will get your imagination going.

The concept behind the publication of TRSF is fascinating. After all, how many science and technology magazines start a science fiction magazine in this day and age?

Having Technology Review branch out into new territory and publish TRSF as an annual science fiction magazine, featuring near future hard science fiction is truly exciting. After all,  imagination goes a long way toward spurring and encouraging new scientific discoveries. You never know, maybe someday the science fiction in one of these stories may become science reality. Now, that would be exciting!

The contributors of the first annual TRSF are all very talented writers, most of whom I’ve read before. In the introduction, editor Stephen Cass says:

Inspired by the real-world technological breakthroughs covered online and in print by Technology Review, these authors bring you 12 visions of tomorrow, looking at how the Internet, computing, energy, biotecnology, spaceflight, and more might develop, and how those developments might affect the people who have to live with them.

While all of the stories in TRSF were engaging, well written and inspiring, there were a few that stood out:

  • “Complete Sentence” by Joe Haldeman is one of my favorites in the bunch. It’s a chilling tale of crime and punishment that will make you think twice about guilt, innocence, and the the choices we make.
  • “Real Artists” by Ken Liu has a flavor of being a little too true and will make you wonder how those big blockbuster movies are really made. The next time you go to the movies, you might even find yourself looking around the theater wondering . . . *spoilers!*
  • “Private Space” by Geoffrey A. Landis is a high flying story that captures the spirit of combining imagination and science into something that not only could happen but probably will happen–at some point. On a side note, while this wasn’t my favorite story in the magazine, it did a wonderful job of capturing the MIT spirit of curiosity, invention, and contributing to science.
  • “The Brave Little Toaster” by Cory Doctorow is a nice way to kick-off TRSF. It’s a short piece that will make you think twice about automatically accepting those nifty product samples that marketing reps handout at malls, on the street, and other public places. While it is an exciting to think of living in a truly networked world, there is something to be said for the simple technologies that do what we want them to do no matter what they think they should do.

The Table of Contents for TRSF is listed below.

  • The Brave Little Toaster – Cory Doctorow
  • Indra’s Web – Vandana Singh
  • Real Artists – Ken Liu
  • Complete Sentence – Joe Haldeman
  • The Mark Twain Robots – Ma Boyong
  • Cody – Pat Cadigan
  • The Surface of Last Scattering – Ken MacLeod
  • Specter-Bombing the Beer Goggles – Paul Di Filippo
  • Lonely Islands – Tobias Buckell
  • The Flame Is Roses, The Smoke Is Briars – Gwyneth Jones
  • Private Space – Geoffrey A. Landis
  • Gods of the Forge – Elizabeth Bear

TRSF is available in print as well as in a digital format for your Kindle or Nook.

About Erin Underwood

BIO: Erin Underwood is the senior event content producer for MIT Technology Review’s emerging technology events. On the side, she reads, writes, and edits SF.
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