For starters, the Olympics are filled with people pushing themselves beyond the limits of what seems to be humanly possible. Take a look at this slideshow of the 25 best moments of the Summer Olympics--it's filled with athletes like Kerri Strug, Usain Bolt, and Michael Phelps who pushed past limitations to be almost better than human. Like science fiction in particular, the Olympics seem interested in what humanity could be with just a little improvement.
Also, both the Olympics and scifi/fantasy seem to share an interest in spectacle and world-building. Take this video of highlights from the Opening Ceremony to the 2008 Beijing Olympics:
Finally, and maybe this is the biggest commonality of all, both the Olympics and many works of scifi/fantasy are about bringing people together for a common purpose. The very symbol of the Olympics, the Olympic rings, represent the coming together of all the nations of the world by having at least one color from each country's flag in the rings. Works of science fiction and fantasy often share a similar sense of shared purpose--fighting against evil, exploring space, fighting for good. Like the Olympics, these novels don't last forever--we have to finish them at some point--but we can hope that in both cases, the spectacle and wonder of this alternate reality can come back with us into our everyday lives, making them a bit more magical.
Now, here are some of the non-Olympic things we found for you this week:
- Ok, I lied. Here's one more Olympic link. Did you know that there used to be Olympic medals for various art forms, including literature? Pierre de Coubertin won the gold medal for literature in 1912 with his poem Ode to Sport. (Wikipedia; LA84 Foundation)
- Fans of the Choose Your Own Adventure series will appreciate this Tumblr collections of bad endings to adventures. (You Chose Wrong)
- Game of Thrones for math nerds, complete with lots of fancy hand-drawn charts and things. (SF Signal)
- This set of nine classic science fiction novels from the 1950s looks amazing. (Library of America)
- Wizard Wars: two magicians must create original magic routines using preselected props. (BoingBoing)
- Spectacular views from the International Space Station, including the view at night. (Vimeo)
- I wish I had a backyard, because then I could build this shed. (BoingBoing)