Archive for November, 2003

BOOK REVIEW: Blue Light by Walter Mosley

REVIEW SUMMARY: An excellent, well-told, page-turning horror/fantasy hybrid.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A mysterious blue light originating from space endows several people with special abilities.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Fast-paced story; a quick read; memorable characters; interesting tale.
CONS: Some dialogue/descriptions too mystical at times.
BOTTOM LINE: A superb story that immerses the reader.
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Essential Blogging

O’Reilly has a free chapter from their book Essential Blogging. Mmmmm…blogging….

REVIEW SUMMARY: Satire showing the power of advertising taken to the extreme.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Advertising associate Mitch Courtenay is assigned to run the stolen Venus Project, which aims to sell an overpopulated America on the idea of colonizing the planet Venus.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Quick moving story; interesting depiction of society; Short on fluff.

CONS: Some of the plot twists were predictable.

BOTTOM LINE: A good, fun, quick read.

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ARTICLE: How to Find a Black Hole

Link to Universe Today

Unbelievable

I just took a look at the current Webalizer statistics for SFSignal and guess what the number 1 search string is?

Glo Fish

Thanks John! A term that really has nothing to do with the site is #1!

Admittedly, the number 2 term is “Paycheck the movie”. Which I’m going on record, again, as saying will both suck and blow…

Oooh, I can only imagine the search terms that will use those two words!

Time Travel

Time travel is one of my favorite sf themes. But only when it is integral to the story and not merely used as an incidental plot device to, say, get two characters to meet. Good time travel stories, in my opinion, revolve around the paradox.

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From CNN. And has anyone else noticed the glut of TV commercials this year for new video games?

More Dick, Phillip K. that is

The Second Coming of Phillip K. Dick is the main article in December’s Wired magazine. It covers a lot of ground about Dick and his life, and why his short stories are becoming movies. And what does it say about Wired that the online version is a lot easier to read than the print version?

Bookstores Suck

No really. At least the ones around here do. Let me explain.

I recently finished Quicksilver (I’ll write the review in as much time as it took me to read it…) and realized I am out of SF to read. Ack! (Currently I’m reading The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes, but I have a SF jones right now…) So I loaded up the old Taurus and went a serching for something to read. I have a list of stuff I’m interested and I thought, “Surely I’ll find something…..”….

Hahahaha! First, the bookstore in the mall. Waldenbooks or B. Dalton or whatever is it. Did I mention that it’s small? Really small. The SF section is basically 2 short stacks, front and back. Nothing there. Although the Butlerian Jihad looks interesting, I’m not sure I’m enough into Dune to read it. So nothing there, although they did have a section for Manga. Weird, I though.

So, back in the trusty Ford (unless you count the two, yes 2!, transmissions its eaten…) and off to John’s favorite haunt, Half-Price Books. There’s a reason I don’t go there often, and that’s because they rarely have anything I’m looking for! I think the last time I went in there and found anything was 2 years ago when I found a copy of Declare for $8. Too bad I’ve already read all the Chalker they had, because they had a bunch. But nothing on my list. And nothing by Mr. Kaku either. I think the only chance of success at HPB is to either have no life and spend every weekend combing all Houston-area HPBs (hi John!) or to have a serious book buying addiction where you’ll buy anything, including Fantasy, just so you can say you bought some books (hi John!). So, since John wasn’t with me, I left and headed to:

Barnes and Noble. At least it smells decent inside, even if the coffee costs $7 a cup at the Starbucks. They at least have a decent size SF section. Lots of books there. But, while they have a lot of books, they seem to have a lack of a variety of books by any particular author, except for Tolkien and he hasn’t written anything new in awhile. So the selection is wide, but about an inch deep. They also seem to have a problem with having on hand books 2, 3 or higher of a given series, but not the first one! Hello? Typically you start with the first one! We don’t all buy books irrespective of their series order because we have a book buying habit and we put them in boxes never to be read (hi John!). And I’m not buying hardbacks because they cost waaaay to much. Unless its a special book. Although they did have a small section of Manga. Weird. Upshot: nothing. They don’t even have the SF magazine, and Fangoria and Starlog don’t count. I want something intelligent.

I guess if I was looking for Manga, I’d have had more luck. Why can’t there be a brick and mortar store for Amazon? They have just about any book I want, with the slight problem of not being local so the books have to be shipped. I don’t want to wait, I want it now! I’d love to be able to go online, find a book, order it, then go and get it later that day. This way, I don’t have to worry about my kids throwing the little Thomas the Tank Engines train pieces around in the kids section. Or running up and down the isles yelling and screaming at each other. Oh, and a wider, deeper selection of SF would be nice too for those times when I want to actually browse the books and see what’s there. Anyway, I guess I’m SOL right now. Maybe I’ll go order something from Amazon…

Dr. Stephen Hawking Action Figure

‘Nuff said…

LINK: Science Fiction Cool Stuff

Stargate Spinoff

The Stargate:SG1 spinoff Stargate:Atlantis is due Summer 2004 according to SciFi Weekly. I always liked SG1, though I cannot say I am a regular viewer. I thought some of the scifi elements were cool and it had a good dose of humor that never detracted from the story. I could do without the whole Egyptian motif, but still, its one of the better TV scifi shows.

Equilibrium Review

So, having read decent things about it, I rented Equilibrium from NetFlix. It tells the story of a future society where emotions are dampened by a drug, no war or anger exists, and the Grammaton Clerics who deal with those who commit “sense crimes”. In practice, its a cross between The Matrix and Farenheit 451.

Its got insane gun battles, in a style called “gunkata” (not to be confused with Gymkata where a bunch of guys in tights beat each other up to make themselves feel better for wearing tights, but I digress…), which has a Matrixesque feel, without the bullet time. It also doesn’t have high school level philosophy masquerading as deep though, or Oracles who go all Socrates on you and can’t give you straight answer if your life depended on it. Ask Neo. In Equilibrium you know who’s good and who’s bad. John Preston is a Cleric who ends up committing all sorts of sense crimes and decided to bring down the government keeping the people down. Much fighting ensues and much agonizing over what emotions mean to be human occurs. The ‘twist’ at the end wasn’t that surprising, but, overall, its quite an enjoyable 100minutes. I’d normally give it 3.5 stars, but it gets an extra .5 because it actually answers what few questions it raises and doesn’t leave you feeling cheated out of your money. Even if you did rent it.

YAVOSW: Yet Another Version of Star Wars

Not that I troll Star Wars Sites or anything, but the latest news on the release of the Episodes 4-6 DVDs is that Lucas is adding new footage, including some reshoots of pivotal scenes (like an aged Hayden Christensen when Vader removes his helmet in Return of the Jedi).

The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time

Along the lines of this Spacecraft blog post comes a poll for the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time at Empire Magazine. And, lest you think that this is anything less than a popularity contest, note that the #1 and #2 film for 2001 version of this list are Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.

Not that John trolls Star Wars websites . . .

For people familiar with the SOE game Star Wars Galaxies, they might find humor in these cartoons.

Some new information about the black hole in the cneter of the Milky Way galaxy. Summary: It’s more massive than previously thought…and it’s spinning.

On the site about Natalie…

I read about this one. My reaction was, “Huh, what… just because SeaQuest SUCKED?!??!”

Real-Time Earthquake Map

Just short of prediction, the real-time Earthquake Map is still pretty cool.

ARTICLE: Man Arrested Over ‘Spam Rage’

OK, I’m not a proponent of death threats, but does anyone feel a whole lot of sympathy for spammers? Here’s what happens when things get out of control.

The new Anti-Spam Bill comes just in time.

This One’s for Pete

Latest rumor of the ever-delayed Superman movie…Lois lane is to be played by…Natalie Portman.

Good luck, Pete. I hear the Son of Krypton is some stiff competition, if you know what I mean.

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