What’s the Last Book You Read and Was it Any Good?

It always interests me to see what other people are reading. I like to see what appeals to their tastes in reading. Some people like to stick to a single author until their entire bibliography is read. Others like to mix it up by alternating authors and even genres. Some switch between fiction and non-fiction. I’m curious to know what our readers read and what their impressions were.

For my part, as I religiously post on this very site, I recently read Frederik Pohl’s career-spanning collection Platinum Pohl. It was a good collection of stories, though Pohl is liberal with the economic and political themes. But man, there were some great stories in there. I think I tend to overdose on a particular writing style in collections but not so much with anthologies where the various authors have widely different styles. And yet, that’s a reading impediment that does not usually occur with novel-length fiction. Somehow, the short doses of science fiction make me more aware of the writer’s style.

So, what’s the last book you read and was it any good?

SF Tidbits for 1/31/06

Some Future SF Book Titles

One of the nice things about Locus Magazine is the People and Publishing section which lists “book sales” and “books delivered”. The January 2006 issue shows a sneak peek into the future of SF. (Some of this news may be a little old…print is a slower medium than the Internet, after all!)

  • Stephen Baxter is writing the four-book Time’s Tapestry cycle, the first book is called Emperor.
  • Charlie Stross sold a near-future heist novel about MMORPGs tentatively titled Halting State and also sold an unnamed sequel to Iron Sunrise.
  • This was already mentioned but is worth repeating: John C. Wright sold the third book in his Orphans of Chaos series.
  • John Scalzi sold book three in his Old Man’s War series, titled The Last Colony.
  • Alan Dean Foster sold Sagramanda, a near-future tale of India.
  • William C. Dietz sold two more novels in his Legion of the Damned series: When All Seems Lost and When Duty Calls.
  • Kage Baker sold a collection titled Dark Mondays.
  • Neal Asher sold Prador Moon, described as “a sequel prequel of sorts” to Skinner.
  • James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel turned in Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology.

There’s a New Google Toolbar in Town

Google will soon be releasing an updated version of their awesome Google Toolbar. For now you can download the beta

New features include:

  • Adding custom button – This innocent-sounding feature allows you to create a custom search button (like I did for SF Signal) and it allows you to integrate a site’s RSS feed through it so that the latest entries appear at the click of a button! Way cool!
  • Bookmarks – Create bookmarks that are accessible from any computer.
  • Enhanced search box – lets you see suggested terms while you are typing them.
  • “Send To” feature – Send web pages to friends via Gmail or SMS, or post directly to a blogger blog. (Hopefully, MT support will be added soon.)
  • Log into your Google account – from the Settings menu


Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Which of the following should win the 2005 BSFA Award for best novel?


(16 total votes)

Voter turnout was seriously down this week. What’s the deal? Poor topic? Poor choices?

2006 Arthur C. Clarke Award Nominees

The shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award has been announced:

  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Learning The World by Ken MacLeod
  • Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds
  • Air by Geoff Ryman
  • Accelerando by Charles Stross
  • Banner Of Souls by Liz Williams

Although the award is given to the best SF novel published each year in the UK (but not necessarily by a British writer), this is the first all-British shortlist in the history of the Award. The winner will be announced April 26, 2006 at the Apollo Cinema in London.

[link via Locus Online]

Locus 2005 Recommended Reading List

I always look forward to getting the next issue of Locus magazine in the mail, even if it does come late. But I anticipate the February issue even more because it contains the Recommeded Reading List of the prior year. This weekend, Locus Online posted the Locus Magazine 2005 Recommended Reading List, a consensus by Locus editors, Locus reviewers and some other big names in the field. It’s quite an impressive list and it covers SF novels, fantasy novels, first novels, young adult books, collections, anthologies, non-fiction, art books and short fiction (novellas, novelettes and short stories).

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REVIEW: Platinum Pohl by Frederik Pohl

REVIEW SUMMARY: A worthy career-spanning retrospective.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A collection of thirty short fiction pieces from Frederik Pohl’s 50-plus-year career.


PROS: 23 stories good or better, 9 of them outstanding.

CONS: 7 stories mediocre or worse.

BOTTOM LINE: A good collection of entertaining fiction; a must-have for Pohl fans.

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Dune Ride-Along

Authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson are in the midst of writing Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune, the two-volume chronological grand climax to the Dune Saga based on Frank Herbert’s outline for ‘Dune 7′. The cool thing about this is that they are letting readers in on the process of its creation through the Dune 7 Blog. This is the same thing they did when writing Dune: The Machine Crusade and it was apparently well-received. There are some interesting bits on their blog including three cover paintings and the book jacket copy. KJA even offers a little insight into his being commissioned to write a sequel to A.E. van Vogt’s Slan.

[Link via The Alien Online]


SnapShirts is a service that makes T-shirts using tag words. They will even troll your blog (or any website) and find commonly used words. So, natch, I plugged in SF Signal’s URL and it generated the following word list:

action age alien author award best better big book books bottom brief character city cons cool different discussion down earth end excellent family fantasy fiction film fun future good half hard help high history home human idea interesting john life light like line little love movie movies mystery note novel novelette novella old one online page pages past people permalink planet plot point pros rating read reader reading robert science sense ship short signal slow society space star stories story style summary synopsis tale technology think thought three time trackback travel two universe war wonder work world writing years young

Conspicuously absent from this list is “supermodel”. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do.

[Link via LifeHacker]

SF Tidbits for 1/28/06

SF Signal Fanboys Getting Their Props

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I secretly have my fingers crossed that SF Signal will grab a mention in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction anthology series. After all, being exlcuded from his awesome everything-but-the-kitchen-sink summary can only mean we’re the kitchen sink! :)

I think Senior SF Signal fanboy and resident (and much needed) spellchecker Fred @ The Eternal Golden Braid has achieved a similar dose of fame today, for Fred and his blog are mentioned over at Space.com. Way to go, Fred! Now that you’re famous, can you give Gardner a call?

Star Trek At Home

Literally. This guy built his home theater room as a replica of the bridge of the Enterprise from the original series. This is scary impressive. Now, I’m not that big of a ST fanboy to want to actually do this too. However, the Death Star themed home theater room (on one of the pages) is a different story. Hopefully, it doesn’t come complete with Grand Mof Tarkin foul stench.

How about a Seaquest DSV or B5 insipired theater? Galactica (now or old)? Oh! I know! A Buck Rogers themed one where Twiki is the universal remote!

SF Tidbits for 1/26/06

New Earth-Like Planet Discovered

Cool news from Space.com:

Astronomers announced today the discovery of what is possibly the smallest planet known outside our solar system orbiting a normal star.

Its orbit is farther from its host star than Earth is from the Sun. Most known extrasolar planets reside inside the equivalent of Mercury’s orbit.

The planet is estimated to be about 5.5 times as massive as Earth and thought to be rocky. It orbits a red dwarf star about 28,000 light-years away. Red dwarfs are about one-fifth as massive as the Sun and up to 50 times fainter. But they are among the most common stars in the universe.

The Theory Of LOST?

Andrew at the appropriately named 4815162342 website for LOST fans, has posted his Ultimate Theory on just WTF is going on on LOST. It involves, magnatisim, satellites, collective consciousness and BF Skinner. It’s an interesting read anyway and does seem to fit the facts. At least those he chose to include. I’m not sure if the producers and writers of the show, JJ Abrams in particular, went this deep and complex for a TV show, but I could be wrong. Oh, and SPOILERS!!!! abound for those who haven’t caught up with the current season.

I still think LOST is a great show, doling out just enough mythology each episode to keep you wanting more. I hope they can pull off the reveal of the island’s mystery without leaving us confused or disappointed.

SF Tidbits for 1/25/06

After realizing that the use of Roman numerals was waaaay past pretentious, I used regular numbers for SF Tidbits 70. But then Tim had an idea even more ingenious; an idea so useful that I cannot resist – use the date! Thanks, Tim!

REVIEW: Prodigy by Dave Kalstein

REVIEW SUMMARY: A worthwhile near-future science fiction thriller.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: An unlikely pair of students from a prestigious school that educates via designer drugs, team up to solve the mystery of murdered alumni.


PROS: Cool near-future setting; raises thought-provoking issues; crisp, clear writing style.

CONS: Slow to get started; some minor suspension killers.

BOTTOM LINE: A thought-provoking and entertaining read.

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Best Bets for Movies in 2006

CNN picks the best movies for 2006, dividing the choices into tiers.

“Can’t Miss” movies include:

Safe Bet films:

Sounds promising:

SF Tidbits, Part 70 – Now with 100% Less Roman Numeral!