Archive for July, 2005

Firefly Photo Essay

Livejournal user, Liminalliz, has created a funny and succinct Firefly Photo Essay. It starts with a little history of SF on Fox, then dives right in with capsule revies (very funny I might add) of each of the episodes and of the new movie. It’s a good place to refresh your mind over what happened in the TV series and why the execs at Fox must burn in eternal hell fire until the end of time. And beyond, being eternal hell fire and all. Anyway, if you haven’t seen any of the episodes, note that there are a ton of potential spoilers here. And don’t miss the choice quotes, including Tim’s favorite: “What we needs a diversion.” and one of mine about the dinosaurs, “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”. Ah, good stuff.

Did I mention the part about hell fire and Fox execs? This should be a TV series again. If only there was a TV/Cable network that could use a quality SF program…

2003UB313

Astronomers have recently discovered a body orbiting the sun at a distance beyond the orbit of Pluto but larger than the diminutive ninth planet. The object is whips around the sun in an elliptical orbit that is 45 degres to the plane of the ecliptic and is 97AU out at its furthest point, but only 36AUs (and inside the orbit of Pluto) at its closest. It was discovered by a trio of astronomers working at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego on January 8th. The group studying it had planned to hold off on announcing it until they had completed their observations (for example, the team isn’t exactly sure how it big is and I have yet to see the duration of its year or day) but hackers had found a personal web site setup by one of the researchers and so the team decided they had better go public now before somebody else tried to claim credit for their discovery.

Until the International Astronomical Union agrees that it is indeed a planet (and not just another nameless Kuiper Belt object) it isn’t officially the 10th planet in the solor system and it doesn’t have a name beyond the refernce object name listed in this blog entries title. Here’s hoping the official name is a little more catchy than 2003UB313. Most astronomers now believe that Pluto probably shouldn’t be classified as a planet but instead listed as a denizen of the Kuiper Belt – but if Pluto is a planet then it would seem that anything bigger than Pluto also ought to get planetary status. I think they better start updating all those school science texts.

What I find most interesting about the news coverage (and there has been plenty today) of the discovery is the need to discuss what the surface might be like. I guess to me anything out that far and that small is preordained to be without an atmosphere and more like a giant junk of rock than a true planet. The good news is all the artists renderings I’ve seen (which make for good TV I guess) do paint that picture for you – it’s cold and rocky.

2005 World Fantasy Award Nominees

The 2005 World Fantasy Award Nominees include:

NOVEL
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  • The Runes Of the Earth by Stephen R. Donaldson
  • Iron Council by China Miéville
  • Perfect Circle by Sean Stewart
  • The Wizard Knight (two volumes) by Gene Wolfe

NOVELLA

  • “Golden City Far” by Gene Wo
  • “Tainaron: Mail from Another City” by Leena Krohn
  • “Soho Golem” by Kim Newman
  • “The Growlimb” by Michael Shea
  • “My Death” by Lisa Tuttle
  • Golden City Far” by Gene Wolfe

SHORT FICTION

  • “The Wings of Meister Wilhelm” by Theodora Goss
  • “Singing My Sister Down” by Margo Lanagan
  • “The Faery Handbag” by Kelly Link
  • “Reports of Certain Events in London”by China Miéville
  • “Northwest Passage” by Barbara Roden

I might also mention that blogger Matthew Cheney has received a special award nomination for his Mumpsimus blog.

See the website for a complete list.

It’s A Good Day To Be A Firefly Fanboy

That’s because the newest trailer is now online! Woo hoo!

Lot’s o’ nouget-y Firefly goodness inside, with a bit more plot spelled out. September 30th cannot get here fast enough….

How Does the Used Book Market Affect New Book Sales?

A CNet/New York Times article discusses the used book market and its impact on new book sales. Amazon, which profits from both new and used book sales, is mentioned. Some interesting bits:

  • While Amazon is best known for selling new products, an estimated 23 percent of its sales are from used goods, many of them secondhand books.
  • …evidence suggests that the costs to publishers are not large, and also suggests that the overall gains from such secondhand markets outweigh any losses.
  • The presence of a market for used books makes consumers more willing to buy new books, because they can easily dispose of them later.
  • According to the researchers’ calculations, Amazon earns, on average, $5.29 for a new book and about $2.94 on a used book.
  • There are two distinct types of buyers: some purchase only new books, while others are quite happy to buy used books. As a result, the used market does not have a big impact in terms of lost sales in the new market.

The article references the research paper Internet Exchanges for Used Books: An Empirical Analysis of Welfare Implications and Policy Issues.

Read the rest of this entry

Ice Lake found on Mars

ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft has taken amazing photographs of a lake of water ice on Mars. Well, at least they are pretty sure it’s water – nobody has gone down and taken a sample to have a look yet.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, aside from needing a less cumbersome name (sorry, the Seattlt P-I nickname sounds more like a 70′s cop show than a newspaper name), has a sneak peek at the upcoming science fiction & horror shows premiering on TV this fall. Their critic also considers the reasons for this burst of “genre programming”. (Yes, JP, Lost is considered. :))

ST:TNG Bloopers

A little Friday humor: A blooper reel from Star Trek: The Next Generation, season 1. Cussing included.

[Link via Not That I'm Subscribed to Wil Wheaton's RSS Feed or Anything]

Tales Of Colossus

Tales of Colossus is a new giant comic book from Pixar animator, M. Andrews. It takes place in a medieval setting, with castles, siege engines, swords and a giant, well, Colossus. The cover looks stunning and the rest looks rather cool too. It’s from E-Ville Press and you should check it out if you like this sort of thing.

DOOM Movie Web Site goes Live

Thanks to the folks over at Joystiq, we now know that the DOOM movie web site is live. I have not spent alot of time looking through it, but it does have a link to the trailer and some other still photos. This continues our wonderful coverage of the DOOM movie.

Potter Fans a Little Testy

David Kipen from the San Francisco Chronicle responds to reactions (including death threats) to his less-than-stellar review of the latest Harry Potter book. In his response, he dispels some myths about reviewing books.

And yes, Pete. “A little testy” is on my list. :)

[Link via Locus Online]

Radar Men From The Moon, For Free!

So once again, the Internet Archive comes through with quality, old-school pulp SF action. This time they have the first 12 chapters of

Radar Men From The Moon available for you viewing pleasure. If you enjoy the old time pulp SF serials, get thee to the Internet Archive!

More on SETI

As an unrelated afterword to scott’s post on SETI, James Patrick Kelly’s latest Asimov’s Magazine column SETI and Such talks about SETI, the always-popular Drake Equation and world-building. A good read.

Blog Depression

Here’s a humorous public service pamplet on Blog Depression.

Now, if only I can find the time away from link-stealing to go read it… :)

[Link via Cynical-C]

Not that JP needs a reason to rant on the forever-promised final volume of David Gerrold‘s Chtorr series, but here’s a guy that just might egg JP on. Or not.

Fly The Falcon

The RC Groups discussion forums has a cool thread about people who have created replica Star Wars ships in remote control format. The Falcon model is sweet and has lots of pictures covering its making. Now, if i were the type to make my own Star Wars props (say, a Stormtrooper Halloween outfit), I’d probably try to do this too. But I’m not, so I won’t.

Still, it is cool to look at the pics…

In an effort to stem piracy of its Windows software, Microsoft now requires a validation check before proceeding with the update feature. Users of Windows Update will be asked to install an ActiveX control to do the anonymous validation client side. Users who find that they have an invalid copy of Windows can provide some information (proof and source of purchase) for a free copy of Windows or, if that info is not available, they will be offered Windows at a discounted price. Microsoft is not including security updates in the lock-out.

POLL RESULTS: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Do you plan on reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince?

RESULTS

(38 total votes)

REVIEW SUMMARY: An eclectic mix of interesting ideas wrapped in a unique package.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A man from a seriously unconventional family must come to terms with his undead, revenge-seeking brother – and blanket Toronto with free wireless Internet connectivity.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Interesting storylines; to-the-point writing style; inventive ideas regarding WiFi access; unique blend of ideas.

CONS: WiFi storyline felt somewhat disconnected; character name-switching; weak ending.

BOTTOM LINE: Tells an interesting story in an unconventional way that makes it worth the read.

Read the rest of this entry

Following in the footsteps of (at least) Cory Doctorow (with Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Eastern Standard Tribe, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town and six of the nine stories in his collection A Place So Foreign and Eight More) and Mike Brotherton (with Star Dragon), Tor author Peter Watts has released Starfish, the first book in his Rifter series, available for free (in PDF format) under the Creative Commons License.

[Link via Tobias Buckell]

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