Netscape/IE Hybrid Browser

Netscape revealed the newest version of their web browser which runs on a user’s choice of 2 (count ‘em) browser engines: The Gecko engine and the Microsoft IE engine(!).

EW Reviews SF

Noah Robischon of Entertainment Weekly serves up another batch of sf reviewlettes this month.

  • THE BOY WHO WOULD LIVE FOREVER by Frederik Pohl

    • Grade: B-
    • Upshot: Returning to his gateway series after a 15-year hiatus, Pohl overlaps timelines, plots, and characters – and produces so many climaxes it becomes burdonsome.
  • CRACHE by Mark Budz
    • Grade: B
    • Upshot: Budz loves wrodplay and has an innate, pop-culture-savvy sense of humor (there is a character names L. Mariachi who passes an “Xstream 2na sushi outlet”). But it ends up being a fine varnish on a fairly wooden story.
  • EXULTANT by Stephen Baxter
    • Grade: B+
    • Upshot: In the second book of a planned trilogy, Baxter shows off his academic chops – he’s an aeroengineer and mathematician – and his storytelling talent.

Review: EverQuest II

Gameplay:
Storyline:
Tech Spec:
Overall:
Pros: Awesome graphics; good game play (with exceptions, see below); plenty of questing; voice-overs; nice storylines.
Cons: Only 4 characters allowed; instanced zones are not truly private; bad guild system; no mission system
Bottom Line: I quitted before my trial period is over. If they want my patronage (read: money), they shouldn’t make it difficult for me to enjoy the game.

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Scientific Things to Do Before You Die

UK site The Guardian tells gives us Scientific Things to Do Before You Die.

[Link via /.]

POLL RESULTS: Series Interruptus

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION

Have you ever continued reading a sf/f series even after reading a bad installment?

RESULTS

79% (19 votes) – Yes. I hope the author can recreate what I liked so much in the first place.

8% (2 votes) – Nope. One strike is all it takes for me to say “bye-bye”.

0% (0 votes) – I never read a bad book in any series.

13% (3 votes) – I never read any sf/f book that was part of a series.

(Total votes: 24)

It comes to me as no surprise that a clear majority of respondents cling to the hope that a series will redeem itself. We’re a loyal bunch. I’m sure this makes publishers and authors very happy. 2 folks are way less lenient – one strike and the series is history. I guess that the assumption is that it is all downhill from then on. 3 voters haven’t read any sf/f that was part of a series. No small feat, that, considering the unwritten law that seemingly exists which says “thou shalt only create series”. I wonder, is that a conscious decision to avoid a series? Few are those who have not read a sequel!

REVIEW: The Year’s Best Science Fiction #21 edited by Gardner Dozois

REVIEW SUMMARY: 6 standouts + 20 good stories – 3 losers = one heck of a collection.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Anthology of 29 sf stories from the year 2003.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Most of the stories were well-written and memorable
CONS: 3 stories failed to impress.
BOTTOM LINE: Better than most anthologies. 2003 was a good year for short sf.

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SciFi Comics

For those of you who may care, Mike Bullock at Broken Frontier takes a look at 3 new science fiction comics. They look quite interesting, I may have to pick up a copy of each and check them out. Not enough SF in comics for me, although I know there has been some in the past. And for Kevin, how is MegaCity 909?

Thanks to Jeff at Gravity Lens for the link!

Trilogies vs. Standalones

Adrienne Martini has some not-so-nice things to say about trilogies in her article Bad Things Come in Threes (Careful, the BookSlut name and logo may be considered not work-safe).

I agree with her on many counts. Rarely today is a trilogy about the story. Instead, it seems to be about the almighty dollar. (Heck, publishers are even forcing writers to break single books into multiple volumes to up the cost of the complete story. See Westerfeld’s The Risen Empire and John C. Wright’s The Golden Age and its sequels) This week’s poll (still in progress) indicates three readers who have never read a sf/f book that was part of a series. That’s got to hard to do when it seems like every released book is #X in a series. (OK, Adrienne’s article distinguishes between a single-story trilogy and a series of independent books. But still…) The standalone feature of Tad Williams The War of the Flowers is part of what drew me to the book. I could get a sample of the author’s writing without committing to a trilogy.

Of course, there is still the sf geek in me (Help! Let me out!) who gets excited about an unread trilogy or a series, even if the idea of committing to one is sometimes daunting.

Sigh. I am torn.

[Three sequential thank-yous to Locus Magazine for the link.]

Does Anyone Watch Enterprise?

Just wondering. This article (via Sci Fi Ranter Girl) has Jolene Blalock trash talking Berman. A little TnA may not help ratings, but if Pete knew what T’Pol wasn’t wearing last season, he may have tuned in. Jolene has some nice things to say about the new show runner, Manny Coto. Manny seems to have a lot of ideas for moving Enterprise forward, including an ending to series. Which may be this season. All I know is I haven’t watched it. In fact, I haven’t watched any Star Trek series religiously since about season 6 of The Next Generation. Bad and/or recycled stories just don’t cut it for me. And once they lose me, I don’t typically go back. I’ve got too much else to do. Too bad, since I once was a Star Trek uber-geek…

I Pity The Robot!

Check out these sweet A-Team robots. Sadly, they are one-offs and not available for sale. Too bad ’cause I really want a robot that will roll up to someone and say: “I love it when a plan comes together!”

All they need now is a Murdock robot that will careen wildly around, crashing into everything.

And speaking of The A-Team, where the heck are the DVDs?

Science Fiction Turkeys

This being Thanksgiving and all, I though it would be interesting to inquire about turkeys. Not the gobble-gobble kind…I’m referring to the definition meaning “the worst of something”. Specifically:

What was the worst science fiction book/movie you’ve ever read/seen?

One qualifier: you had to actually read/watch the entire book/movie.

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I See Your Schwartz is as Big as Mine

Big Dumb Object points to Engadget points to Red Ferret Journal points to Custom Phone’s $75 Universal remote control in the form of a light saber. Every time you press a button, it makes the lightsaber sound.

Yawn. Now a Jar-Jar Cuckoo Clock, that’s where the money is…

Half-Life 2 Pirates Busted

20,000 (!) online accounts suspended for unauthorized access. Wow.

[via SciFi Wire]

The future of computer gaming stores?

From /. via wirenh.com comes a very interesting story about a company called Holo-Deck Gaming that offers cyber-cafe style PC and console gaming on the internet with some awesome equipment. The games are played on 73-inch high-def projection TVs – one for each player! They are also working on a 180-degree monitor system and something they call The Sphere. Very cool.

photo by Dave Karlotski

I don’t personally go to my local game center (titled NetZone) but it’s just a collection of PCs with regular monitors. Would I go to this sort of place? Not sure – the systems sure do look cool, but I generally prefer the convenience of my home PC. Of course, my kids might feel differently, and I do enjoy a good LAN party now and then. What if me and 10 of my friends could rent the place for the night – now that might work out.

Wake Up with Lord Vader

As part of Target’s ongoing celebrity tie-ins, they are offereing a wake-up call a celebrity of your choice. Of particualr interest to to Star Wars fanboys is the Darth Vader wake-up call.

[Link from TheForce.net]

Quiz: Science Fiction or Science Fact?

Space.com has a quiz testing your knowledge of spacey-like things. Can you get a perfect score of 10?

Is That a Lucas on Your Back?

I’m sure some people would find this T-Shirt interesting.

[cough-cough…looks at JP]

[Link via TheForce.net]

POLL RESULTS: Award-Winning Books

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION

Have you ever been unable to complete a Hugo or Nebula Award winning book because you disliked it so much?

RESULTS

64% – Yes, what were they thinking?

14% – No, I liked all the award winners I read.

21% – No, I haven’t read any award winners.

(Total votes: 14)

I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only one who was unable to finish an award-winning book. For me, it was Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I just couldn’t get into it at all. Three of the fourteen voters haven’t read any award-winning fiction at all. And I’m curious to know how many award-winners were read by the folks who liked ‘em all.

BookCloseouts Gets a Facelift

Our favorite bargain bookstore, BookCloseouts, has finally redesigned their website.

Improvements: Search refinement links; book pictures; nicer look and feel; Also-by-this-author links; New scratch & dent section.

Still Needs Improvement: Can only sort by author or title and not price; Cannot customize number of search results per page.

From Around the Web

Some scattered bits floating around in the ether…

  • Illegal copies of Battlestar Galactica, which is already airing in the UK, are being downloaded by folks in the US and posing a threat to good ratings. [Link via Sci-Fi Ranter Girl]
  • Enterprise‘s Jolene Blalock slams Star Trek puppetmaster Rick Berman. [Link via Sci-Fi Ranter Girl]
  • New online fiction: “Anda’s Game” by Cory Doctorow.
  • Yet Another List: SF/F Reading for Kids.
  • Sam Raimi is planning another remake of The Evil Dead.
  • New images posted from the Fantistic 4 movie