Archive for February, 2005

POLL RESULTS: Favorite Type of Game

QUESTION
What kind of games do you enjoy playing the most?

RESULTS

(14 total votes)

Review: The Mote In God’s Eye

REVIEW SUMMARY: Exceptionally strong old-school space opera detailing humanity’s first contact with an alien species.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Lord Roderick Blaine, fresh off his promotion as captain of the INS MacArthur, is asked to intercept and contact an alien probe entering the New Caledonian system for a remote and un-explored system called the Mote. Things don’t quite go as expected, and soon Rod, and his crew, are sent to the More system to make contact with the Moties.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Well written, ‘hard’ SF space opera. Unique aliens and society. A page turner.

CONS: Devolves into diplomatic/political intrigue.

BOTTOM LINE: A very strong first contact novel that more than lives up to its Hugo Nomination.

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Superman Science

This is what happens when the intelligentsia reads comic books.

Looking back…from 2020

A retrospective on the last 15 years of technological innovations viewed from 2020 – that’s the concept explored by Peter Cochrane in his Uncommon Sense article on silicon.com dated Dec 16 2004.

You might consider his ideas for ‘what will change’ as whacked, but imagine how hard it would have been to predict the technology changes that went on between 1985 and 2000? The internet emgerged, PCs and cell phones became ubiquitous, and the IT business landscape change dramatically.

REVIEW SUMMARY: Reads like classic science fiction.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Helward Mann discovers the true nature of the world outside of the traveling City Earth.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Excellent sense of wonder and mystery, multiple plot threads that were equally interesting, great premise, immersive.

CONS: Ultimate explanation of events somewhat lacking.

BOTTOM LINE: I enjoyed the heck out of this book.

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SciFi Scripts

Ran across this website that might be of interest to some. The name says it all: SciFiScripts

It’s Spaceman Spiff!

You’ve wanted it. You’ve waited for it. Now its finally happend. Now you too can own The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. Every single Calvin and Hobbes strip ever produced is in one, handy volume. Relive the days of Spaceman Spiff, Transmogrifiers and chainsaws.

I so want this.

Props To The Sci Fi Channel

I know, this is an unusual thing. The lack of actual SF on SciFi makes you wonder why they call it that now, but they have done something interesting, and dare I say, internet aware. I’m not just talking about the new, improved, excellent Battlestar Galactica series, but also about the supporting things they’ve done on its website (well, except for the fact they use flash as their menu system, that sucks).

First, did you know you can now watch the first episode, “33″, online and without commercial interruption? Well you can. And this is a great thing. The next logical step is to make the episodes available for download by the fans….

Second, did you know Ron Moore has a blog? He does, and he isn’t afraid to answer viewer questions or to give insight into the give and take that occurs during production. Its quite good. And, even better, they have an RSS feed.

These two things show that someone at SciFi has a clue about fans want to watch and interact about a show. I must give mad props to the BG homies at SciFi for a job well done.

Crunchy SF Gaming Goodness

A brief survey of upcoming/recently released SF(ish) games.

  • Unreal Championship 2 – UC2 looks like an intriguing game. It’s going to try to combine the FPS genre with the fighting genre. Some of the moves look rather cool, but I’m not sure how this will actually play out. How often do you end up in melee range in a FPS? Still, it looks good. Xbox only.
  • Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath – The latest incarnation in the Oddworld series. This one provides a mixed 1st person/3rd person view and adds a more FPS feel to the adventure series. The art in this game looks really cool, with a western meets alien species feel. Again, Xbox only.
  • LEGO Star Wars – Its LEGO. Its Star Wars. Whats not to like? You cut your opponents in half with lightsabres. LEGO Darth Maul looks sweet. I’m expecting this game to be a lot of fun to play, especially if you can off Jar-Jar. All platforms.
  • Republic Commando – Yet another Star Wars themed game, onlywithout Gungans. You are the commander of a four person clone warrior commando squad. You get to fight the seperatist army. The demo was fun. Although, Scott may say this isn’t SF since its just Ghost Recon in space….PC/Xbox.
  • Nexus The Jupiter Incident – Reminiscent of Homeworld, only without the resource gathering. Nexus is a tactical fleet simulator where you command capital ships in space. Excellent, and it looks great too. PC only.

These all look good. I may have to try them out, and I think I will be getting Republic Commando.

War of the Scientologists

It’s all business on the set of War of the Worlds, where Tom Cruise has set up a Scientology tent where he can lull the cast and crew into conformance with a “glorified mini-massage”.

As Scott might say, L. Ron hubbard would be rolling over in his grave if he were actually dead and not pretending to be so for tax reasons. :smiley1:

Star Wars Fanboys Gone Wild!

Not that I troll anti-Star Wars sites or anything.

Country Music Television has posted an ad for “Vice President, CMT Dukes of Hazzard Institute”. Job requirements are to watch Dukes of Hazzard every weeknight on CMT, know all the words to The Dukes of Hazzard theme song and write the Dukes of Hazzard on-line blog for CMT.com.

It pays $100,000.

Let me write that with words: One-Hundred-Thousand Dollars.

Booksplitting

I alluded to it in a previous post, but thought that this might make a good topic for discussion.

“Booksplitting” is the process where a publisher will buy a manuscript for a single book, split it and publish it as 2 (or more) physical books. A good example here is Scott Westerfeld’s manuscript for a novel called Succession being split into The Risen Empire and The Killing of Worlds. (See the review of the latter for some insight of the process by the author’s wife – also an author.) Another example is John C. Wright’s whose Golden Age story was published as three separate volumes. (See our interview for Mr. Wright’s point of view on the subject.)

Earlier this week, Rick Kleffel wrote up a rant that talks about booksplitting (and, to the best of my knowledge, is the first to use that term). His piece was most recently addressed by Tor Books editor Patrick Nielson Hayden who defends the practice.

I’m of mixed mind here. I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of the publishing business or the book market, so I believe the usual arguments of publishers maximizing profit. Certainly, that’s sound business sense. More money for them means being able to publish more (hopefully) quality stories. As long as readers keep buying books at $25 a pop, the publishers will gladly sell them. Until consumers send the message that they are overpriced, they would be foolish to do otherwise.

At the same time, from a reader’s perspective, paying $50 (2 hardbacks @ $25 each) for something that could easily have been printed as a single book stinks. I’ve heard the argument that readers are unwilling to pay $50 for a bigger book from an unknown author. That is a weak argument in my opinion because Neal Stephenson’s 900-page System of the World doorstop sold for only $28. And he’s a well-known author. Are publishers expecting me to believe that Westerfeld’s Succession would not have been sellable as a single 635 page book? (And that’s if the large type of the split books was used – fewer pages required if a normal type size was used.) I’m not rich (or brazen) enough to support my biblioholism at $25 a hit. As I stated before, I was lucky enough to find both hardback Succession books at bookcloseouts for under $15. Maybe the occasional reader is willing to pay $25 every now and then for a 300-page book with a larger typeface, but this sf fan sees the practice of booksplitting as an impediment to getting crunchy sf goodness to the masses.

What do others think about booksplitting? Does it matter to you at all? Would you rather have the bigger single volume or multiple smaller ones?

Uh-oh. I think I feel a poll coming on. (As it were.)

Hi Smiley!


:) I added smiley support to the blog tonight.
:D It took a while, but I finally got it!

(6) Of course, since it’s new, we’ll probably abuse the bejesus out of it.

:-@ If that happens, there’ll be hell to pay!

Commenters can also use the smiley images by clicking on the smiley image on the comments page.

Numa Numa Dance Kid

JP sent this link around via email last week, but I thought I’d post it to the blog because it’s just too funny not to.

Remember the popularity of Star Wars Kid? The newest thing is the Numa Numa Dance Kid.

It’s been picked up by major media outlets (including CNN and VH1′s Best Week Ever) and viewed more than 1 million times according to the Numa Numa Kid’s website. He’s a 19-year-old named Gary and he now offers a version with subtitles. (Lyrics here. You know you want ‘em to sing along, Numa Numa fanboys.) For those (like me) who can’t get the song out of their heads (like me) and want to know, the song is “Dragostea Din Tea” by O-Zone. For those who want more (who doesn’t?), this guy did a lot of research. And don’t forget the complete collection of videos and parodies! (Still new, surely more to come.)

Here’s an interesting read about a SF author Charles Stross‘ experiences in writing his latest novel The Family Trade. He likens it to writing a fantasy novel, a genre of which he is not too enamored. His rules for designing a successful fantasy series are:

Rule 1: Don’t steal from living authors, their ecological niche in the publishing jungle is already occupied. (Alternatively: nobody needs another Robert Jordan.)

Rule 2: Steal from the best. There’s no point stealing from the worst.

Rule 3: If you steal an entire outfit from one writer’s wardrobe, people will mock you for being imitative. So steal from at least two, and mix thoroughly.

Rule 4: When choosing the themes to pilfer, only pick ones that you, personally, find interesting — if you pick something boring you’ll only have yourself to blame if it’s successful and you end up chained to the desk to write more of it for the next decade.

Rule 5: However much you’re stealing, make sure it doesn’t look stolen. Genre publishing is a beauty show, and originality wins prizes (but not too much originality).

Anyway, it’s an interesting article that touches upon writing, the publishing business and booksplitting.

More Galactica This Summer

SciFi Wire reports that Battlestar Galactica will begin shooting new episodes in March, with the new season starting this summer. Excellent news. And, in what is sure to be a blow to Scott, all the cast has re-signed, including Olmos. It’ll be interesting to see how they wrap up the ending of this season.

SF Museum Hall of Fame Induction

The Science Fiction Museum will induct 4 new members into its Hall of Fame on May 6, 2005. Nominations by museum members are being accepted through February 28 and the winners will join the ranks of current members.

Red Hot Ghibli

In case you don’t know, Studi Ghibli is a Japanese film studio that produces animated movies. It is the home of the Japanese Animation Master, Hayao Miyazaki, of Spirited Away fame. Through a deal with Disney, three Ghibli films (two by Miyazaki) have just been released. The major title being Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind. You can find reviews at SciFi Weekley and at Anime onDVD. Looks like I will need to watch this one as its highly regarded as a film.

Get You Fanboy Tinglies Here

That’s right, you Star Wars fanboys who don’t mind a lot of Ep. III spoilage will love this page, which shows Ep. III in a series of pictures, some animated. I’m not sure where he got access tot he film, or how long Lucas will let him keep this up. Until then, may the tingle be with you.

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