Archive for August, 2003

News Feeds

Has anyone else out there tried newsfeeds on their PCs?

PC World‘s recent article on must-have utilities included a free news feed program called FeedReader. It’s a simple program that lets you view newsfeeds published using the RSS standard. Basically, it’s XML-delivered news headlines and the program links to the full story. One web article even suggests that RSS will replace email, which will soon be rendered useless by viruses and spammers.

I like it. It’s like getting personalized news from different sources on a variety of subjects. You can use listings from Syndic8 to get a list of newsfeed URLs. For example, my geeky self receives newsfeeds about science fiction, chess, and of course, our beloved mother stock symbol.

REVIEW: Evening’s Empire

Evening’s Empire is David Herter’s second book, but the first one of his that I have read. Wow, I was blown away. I first encountered this book from a review on SciFi Weekly. It sounded interesting, so I bought it from BookCloseOuts.com.

As you can read in the linked review, Evening’s Empire is the story of Russel Kent and his time in the Oregon town of Evening. Oh, and of cheese. Although the cheese doesn’t play a huge role, it is there and is tangentially important to the plot. Again, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Herter having never read him. The book was reminiscent of earlier Tim Powers books. Darkly humorous and filled with absurd images and events. Herter is also adept at creating believable, sympathetic characters, and he creates many here.

I know a book is a keeper when I can’t put the blasted thing down and I end up falling asleep reading it. Usually after saying, “Just one more page…”. This is that type of book.

5 out of 5.

The Princess Blade

The Princess Blade is a live action, kung-fu style samurai adventure film from Japan. I first saw this on the ADV Films website and thought it looked rather interesting. My brother suggested we go see it, so we did. Its playing downtown at the Angelika Theater.

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Politics Intrudes on SF

From SFSite

The California recall has intruded on the lives of science fiction fans with the announcement by at least two cable networks, FX and Sci Fi Channel, that they will refrain from showing any films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger between now and the October 7 election. Sci Fi Channel has announced plans to replace a Schwarzenegger marathon of ?The Running Man,? ?Conan the Destroyer? and ?Terminator 2? with a day?s worth of California disaster films. Although Equal time laws would require any network that shows a film or television show starring a declared candidate to provide equal time to any other candidate who requested it, cable channels are exempt from the law.

Isn’t there a porn actress in the running? Maybe they should reconsider…

Tron 2.0 – Great game!

I got an opportunity to try out the new Disney game Tron 2.0. WOW!

It is amazing that a game based on a PG movie with little to no action could turn out so good!

This game has a lot going for it – it’s an FPS with RPG elements (a la Deus Ex or System Shock), it has an interesting RPG system, and it’s based on computer terms. I like!

Rating: 4 out of 5 – if you like FPS you’ll like Tron 2.0.

Ghost in the Shell

I got a chance (thanks to Trent Ditto!) to see the highly acclaimed anime movie Ghost in the Shell.

Well, lets see – good concepts, great art, terrible voice-acting in English, and mediocre writing (at least in English.) It’s hard to judge a film down like this based on either the English subtitles or the English voice-acting, but in reality the film suffers for that. My wife watched it too and she thought it was just wierd and not good.

So far that means that I’m 0-3 in anime.

Anime Roundup

Ok kids, time for the weekly roundup of Anime that I have recently watched.

  • Spriggan – Called a cross between James Bond and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spriggan is the story of a secret group of people, ARCAM and their ultimate warriors, the Spriggan, out to defend the Earth and humanity. The are defending the Earth from, of course, another secret group who happen to be a rogue US Government agency, led by a psychic mutant teenager. The object: Gain control of Noah’s Ark. Ok, well, what can I say. This movie was pretty much a disaster. The action sequences were decent, the animation was good as well, but the plot itself was horrible. Events seemed to happen because the plot needed them to. There was almost no character development at all. It just didn’t fit together at all. It was like a Hollywood blockbuster where the special effects were the main concern, while the plot as secondary. Like Armageddon. Only Spriggan doesn’t have Bruce Willis. You decide if that is good or bad.

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  • The Physicality of Books

    Authors (including Neil Gaiman, M. John Harrison, James Patrick Kelly, Tanith Lee, Michael Moorcock, Brian Stableford, and Gene Wolfe) answer 5 questions about books

    Neal Stephenson Short Interview

    Neal Stephenson Rewrites History is a short interview with the author on Wired’s web site. What’s interesting is that Stephenson is publishing a trilogy of books dealing with the origins of the Cryptonomicon, which is an very entertaining book BTW. The new book is Quicksilver and comes out in September. I’ll be getting it…

    Teaser? I hardly know….

    Has anyone else seen the Battlestar Galactica teaser trailers on SciFI? Specifically the ones with the new Cylon, Number Six.

    If that is the future of robots, then I, for one, would like to welcome our new Cylon overlords…

    Short-Short Stories

    Check this out. It’s an ongoing collection of short-short stories by Michael Swanwick based on the periodic table of the elements.

    Got Anime?

    I’ve been watching a lot of anime recently, so I figured I might as well comment on what I’ve seen. But first, many of you know that I have not been a big fan (make that, not a fan at all) of anime in general. Scott and I tried to watch some quite awhile ago (10 years or so? wow). We rented Project Ako and Bubblegum Crisis. I think so anyway. That alone should tell you all need to know about what kind of impression they made. Not good. We came away unimpressed and confused as to what people saw in the genre at all. A few years after that, I got a chance to watch Akira on the SciFi Channel. Whle the graphics were good, for that time anyway, I felt the story was a bit convoluted. I wasn’t sure if something was lost in translation, it was dubbed, or if the movie was just being obscure for the fun of it. Again, I walked away nonplussed. Of course, I had forgotten the big 3 anime series I watched as a kid. Since I had seen them as a kid, I just figured they were just cartoons, like the others, only drawn a bit differently. That’s my story anyway. What? What are those series? You could probably name them. Speed Racer, Star Blazers and Battle of the Planets! I watched those shows every day after school. Well, not on the same day, but you get the idea. It just never occurred to me until muuuuuch later that I was watching anime. I believe that Starblazers was even brought to the US by Sandy Frank, the source of all our pain. But I could be wrong.

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    Face to Face with Doom

    Article on Doom 3 preview

    Quakecon Returns!

    From SciFi Weekly.

    Activision will once again be a featured sponsor of id Software’s QuakeCon 2003, a gaming event and tournament dedicated to the multiplayer games Doom 3 and Quake. QuakeCon 2003 takes place Aug. 14-17 in Dallas.

    QuakeCon began in 1996 as a party dedicated to fans of id Software’s games and has grown to include Quake, Quake II, Quake III Arena, Quake III: Team Arena and Return to Castle Wolfenstein. It was created by gamers to commune with online friends in real life, meet the makers of the games, talk shop with industry veterans and compete with some of the best players in the world, Activision said.

    Game reviews new to SFSite

    FYI for you gamer s out there: SFSite has a new electronic game review column.

    REVIEW: Chasm City

    John asked for it, John got it.

    REVIEW SUMMARY: Murder and revenge in a ‘hard SF’ setting.

    MY RATING: 4.5/5

    This is the second book Alastair Reynolds, and it takes place in the same universe as his earlier work, Revelation Space; however, it’s not necessary to have read it as Chasm City isn’t a direct sequal.

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    Indy!

    The release date of The Adventures of Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark/The Temple of Doom/The Last Crusade) has been moved up to Oct. 21! Woo hoo!

    This would make a great birthday gift!

    Battlestar Galactica

    Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve no doubt heard that the SciFi Channel is remaking Battlestar Galactica as a mini-series/pilot this December. They will be re-imagining the series, rather than starting from where the original series ended. Among the changes: the cylons are now humanoid looking and Starbuck is a woman. Needless to say, many fans are unhappy.

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    Random Thoughts

    Just a couple of thoughts that just occured to me. I just finished reading Chasm City when I realized that the last 3 books I’ve read, Kiln People, Celestial Matters and Chasm City all shared similarities despite being very different subject wise.

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    If this is true

    This could rock. Ain’t It Cool News has posted a rumor that major motion picture company has bought the rights toHyperion, from Dan Simmons. This could be extremely cool. As the article says, the amount of CGI involved is stagerring, not to mention trying to get the plot into movie form. Still, I’d love to see the Shrike on screen, kicking A$$ and taking names.

    The only down side to the project is that Leonardo DiCraprio is rumored to be the lead. I can’t stand Leo, although he wasn’t bad in Catch Me if You Can.

    If this is true, I can’t wait to see it. This would rock. I think I’m going to start a thread in the forum on what books we’d like to see as movies…

    Update: Forum thread here.

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