REVIEW SUMMARY: A time-travel film that leaves the viewer asking questions.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Two engineers accidentally create a time machine in their garage. Things start out all fun and games as they use information from the future to make money in the present, but soon turn sinister.


PROS: I absolutely loved the first four fifths of the film, especially the process of the creation of the device.

CONS: I think it’s almost required to watch this movie on DVD (rather than theatre). The film never slows down and doesn’t spend much time explaining things. The last 1/5 of the movie is lost on me, even after two viewings.

BOTTOM LINE: Be prepared to be befuddled. I hope someone else watches this movie so that I can talk to them about it.

Alien Planet

On May 14th, The Discover Channel will air Alien Planet, an conceptual exploration of an alien world teeming with life. Apparently, the aliens have been designed by Wayne Barlowe, alien artist extraordinaire. Also, AP will have segments featuring the Official Theoretical Physicist of SFSignal, Michio Kaku and the Official Rapmaster of SFSignal, MC Hawking. It looks cool so fire up your Tivo(-like) devices now!


Paula Guran has posted an interesting article regarding Print-on-Demand. The slant of the article is setting Locus Magazine straight on the POD issues talked about in a recent issue.

[Link via Locus Online]

Charbroiled Anakin

The local Half Price Books had a copy of The The Making of Star Wars, Episode III – Revenge of the Sith on prominent display, obviously in an effort to cash in on the ever-increasing hype. (I suspect that the movie, in fact, could easily have been called Revenge of the Hype with no decrease in the movie’s fanbase.)

Fanboy-in-denial that I am, I thumbed through the pages looking at all the juicy goodness which included shots from the movie as well as behind-the-scenes pix. I must say that they did a nice job of making Anakin look extra crispy. He reminded me of a piece of barbecue chicken. Or should I say barbecue ham? There was also an interesting picture of Amidala that was a spoiler for me. D’oh!

And no, JP, I did not get the book.

Guess The Google

Here’s a game that uses Google to fetch images, display them, then asks the player to guess the keyword on which they are based. A simple idea that makes for a surprisingly addictive game.

[via Cynical C]

Computer Chronicles

Ever watch the PBS series Computer Chronicles? It ran from 1983 – 2002. All the epsiodes are archived to meet all your nostalgic computer needs.

Here’s the synopsis for the show titled “Sleeper Shareware“, originally broadcast in 1991…

Most popular software titles get there as the result of an expensive sales and marketing campaign. Other programs are so popular they climb to the top of the charts just through word-of-mouth, or BBS chat. This program looks at several of these “sleeper” software programs that are worthy of note. Among the titles demonstrated are Commander Keen, PopDBF, Resident Task Manager, Prism, Pianoman, 4DOS, CommandPost, Windows Wallpaper, LCD 2.0, LJ2UP, MacBillboard, BigCheese, Ripper FKey, TappyType, Fish!, Globe, Solarian II, Melt DA, Address Book, FlashWrite, Stuffit, ToDo!, TidyItUp, DisKeeper, Red Ryder, White Knight, and Vietnam War. Guests include Jim Button, founder of the Association of Shareware Professionals.

Swear Like Mal

For all you Firefly fans who’ve wished you could swear in Mandarin like the crew of Serenity, well, now you can! Rachel Kronick has put together a list of Mandarin phrases (note: not the oranges) that could fit right in with the Firefly universe. She hasn’t necessarily parsed the phrases from the show itself, but has used modern Mandarin to extrapolate likely phrases. Now you can cuss up a blue streak and no one will know. Well, aside from the tone of your voice that is.

There are a couple of F bombs tossed around so don’t let your kids read it.

Revenge of the Smith

Kevin Smith that is. He’s seen Revenge of the Sith and now he’s given us his review. Short take: He loved it. And he loved it as a Star Wars geek. He also goes into detail why he thinks this movie blows the first two away. There is some spoilage present, you are warned. If you don’t mind that, read away. Mr. Smith is a humorous writer and this review gives me hope for this movie.

Hard SF

Author Chris Moriarty has an interesting article about hard science fiction.

…hard SF is still going strong, fueled by writers and readers who thrill to that special hard SF combination of visionary speculation backed up by nuts and bolts ‘here’s how we get there from here’ science writing. It’s still about the science, and it always will be. But it’s also about people and politics and everything else in the known and unknown universe. It’s all up for grabs. Just like it always has been. . . .

Of related interest, I Googled around and found an Intro to Hard SF for the non-SF Reader, Hard vs. Soft SF as well as Grading SF for Realism. We’ve also discussed it here at SF Signal.

[Moriarty link via Nightshade Forum via Mumpsimus]

Darth Vader’s Blog

Since everyone and their mother has a blog, it was only a matter of time before fictional characters started having them, too. And who better to have a blog than Darth Vader? [Link via CNET]

Anti-Loonatics Campaign

It’s nice when someone notices a bad idea and does something about it. In this case, it took the efforts of a 12-year old to tone down the menacing look of the upcoming Loonatics, the futuristic “reimagining” of Bugs Bunny and friends.

…”early drawings” have been revised into characters that are softer and less menacing…

I’m still not sure what was wrong with the old look.

1975 Do-Over Reading Project – JP’s Take

Here’s how I rated the award nominees for 1975:

The Mote in God’s Eye – 4.5

The Inverted World – 4

Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said – 3.5

The Godwhale -2.5

The Dispossed – 2

Fire Time – 2

334 – 1

So, if I had a vote for the Hugo and Nebula, my winners would be The Mote in God’s Eye (Hugo) and Flow My Tears (Nebula). I’m also struck by the, in my opinion, lack of good stories up for the awards. Was there no other good SF in 1975? I’m also amazed to see how well Mote stands up thirty years later. It feels like it could have been written today, although Niven and Pournelle would have had to pad it out to meet today’s exacting space opera/hard SF standards. I’m also glad I had a chance to read The Inverted World. If not for this project, I would never had read it. Of course, I would never have read 334 either.

I know John didn’t break his down by award, so I’ll take them in the order he listed, and say that, for him, Flow My Tears would have won both awards. So, unofficially, taking both our ratings into consideration, Flow My Tears is the clear Nebula winner, with a three way tie for Hugo among Flow My Tears, Mote, and The Inverted World. We need some other reviewer, aside from Pete Klausner, to cast their votes and break that tie!

Review – The Dispossed, by Ursula K. LeGuin


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: (Leveraged completely from John’s review) A brilliant physicist named Shevek tries to reunite the anarchist world of Anarres with its sister planet Urras.

PROS: Somewhat interesting exploration of the differences between two politco-social ideologies, the universe the story is set in sounds interesting although we don’t get to see it.

CONS: Slow moving, little action, dry writing, unmemorable characters (except Shevek), reads like a political textbook wrapped in a SF covering.

BOTTOM LINE: Much as I felt the first time I read it, I found The Dispossed to be a slow, dreary read, potentially interesting to people who are more interested in society and politics than in SF.

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Simpsons Hits 350

The Simpsons will be airing their 350th epsiode this Sunday. Only 3 series have had more episodes: Dallas (357 episodes – which will be surpassed by The Simpsons this year), My Three Sons (380 episodes) and The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet (435 epsiodes).

Go, go, Homer!

What to get for the Fanboy that has everything?

Including the Corn Pops from a previous merchandising link, you get them a Cingular Star Wars themed phone. Thanks go to Engadget for bringing this to my attention.

REVIEW: Here, There & Everywhere by Chris Roberson

REVIEW SUMMARY: A hugely fun and entertaining read.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The episodic tales of Roxanne Bonaventure, who receives a bracelet that allows her to travel through various timelines (time travel) and worldlines (parallel universes).


PROS: Immersive; page-turning; a quick read; skillfully written; lots of fun!

CONS: None that I could think of.

BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended.

Continue reading

Serenity Trailer Live!

As Tim mentioned earlier, the new Serenity trailer is now online at Apple’s site. Prepare to be breathless in anticipation until Sept. 30th, when you get to see River kick some major @$$.

A Going Away Gift For Pete

Pete will be leaving our hallowed halls soon and what better way to send him off than with a page devoted to the Ladies of Star Trek?

Now if only there were some way I could convince him to turn this galaxy of galactic girlie goodness into a beautiful bag of buttery bagels… :D

Why Big Budget Blockbusters Keep Getting Made

Slate has an interesting article giving an overview of How To Finance a Hollywood Blockbuster. It seems that, due to tax regulations in other countries, movie studios can use feats of financial legerdemain to almost entirely offset the costs of big budget movies, which, with similar feats of financial legerdemain, almost always ‘lose’ money for the studio. After reading this article, you’ll know why we always get crappy summer blockbusters, SF or otherwise, and why its more difficult to get a modest budget movie made. So the answer is:

Film Consider Phlebas! That would rule. And it’s budget would have to be huge.

Which Genre Character Are You?

Suffereing an identity crisis? A butt-load of science fiction quizzes are avilable at Quiz Farm that will tell you who you are:

[via Cool SciFi]