Archive for June, 2006

REVIEW SUMMARY: A very good group of stories that’s better than many best-of-the-year anthologies.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Original anthology of six far-future SF novellas.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: 4 standout stories

CONS: 1 mediocre entry

BOTTOM LINE: Four out of six is a very good score.

I’ve been reading lots of short stories and it amazes me how original anthologies can sometimes be better than some best-of-the-year types. I suppose it stands to reason that the best-of anthologies are the opinion of (usually) one editor whose tastes might differ from that of the reader. On the other hand, given the law of averages, an anthology of original stories should be equally hit or miss.

Along comes Between Worlds edited by Robert Silverberg. Two of these stories were chosen for Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction #22: “Shiva in Shadow” by Nancy Kress and “Investments” by Walter Jon Williams. I did not re-read them this time around. Pity I didn’t take better notes on the Kress story, though, which I thought was perfect.

Standouts in the collection were “Between Worlds” by Stephen Baxter, the Kress story, “The Colonel Returns to the Stars” by Robert Silverberg and “Keepsakes” by Mike Resnick. Four out of six is a very good score. The weakest story in the bunch, by my reckoning, was mediocre. But then again, that was the Williams story that got chosen for the Dozois best-of anthology. So what do I know?

In addition to providing an excellent story, Silverberg tasked each of the other writers with providing a snapshot of life in the far future and far from Earth. I don’t know that all of the writers met that challenge as life remains pretty much the same. Or maybe that’s the point? No matter, there are some really top notch stories in this anthology.

This makes the second original anthology I read this year from the Science Fiction Book Club that is well worth the read; the other being Down These Dark Spaceways, which also featured stories that have since gone on to be collected elsewhere and nominated for awards.

Reviewlettes follow…

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SF Tidbits for 6/30/06

Robert E. Howard Celebration Anthology Due

We recently mentioned how Cross Plains, Texas, was celebrating the 100th birthday of Robert E. Howard, author of the Conan books. Now there’s official word from Chris Roberson, author of Paragaea and owner of MonkeyBrain books, that a new limited-edition anthology is due to be released celebrating Howard and his work.

The book, Cross Plains Universe: Texans Celebrate Robert E. Howard, is being edited by Scott Cupp and Joe R. Lansdale. Stories will be written in Howard style and/or use some of his characters. The book features this nice lineup of Texas talent:

  • “Slim and Swede and the Damned Dead Horse” by Dean Andersson
  • “The Heart” by Neal Barrett, Jr.
  • “Prince Koindrindra Escapes” by Jayme Blaschke
  • “The Diamonds of Golconda” by Lillian Stewart Carl
  • “The Heart of Ahriman” by Bill Crider and Charlotte Laughlin
  • “One Fang” by Scott Cupp
  • “The King Comes to Texas” by Brad Denton
  • “A Whim of Circumstance” by Mark Finn
  • “The Sea of Grass on the Day of Wings” by Melissa Mia Hall
  • “A Penny a Word” by Rick Klaw and Paul Miles
  • “The Pillar in the Mist” by Ardath Mayhar
  • “The Roaming Forest” by Michael Moorcock
  • “The Bunker of the Tikriti” by Chris Nakashima–Brown
  • “The Toughest Jew in the West” by Lawrence Person
  • “Wolves of the Mountain” by James Reasoner
  • “Two Hearts in Zamora” by Jessica Reisman
  • “The Warrior and the King” by Carrie Richerson
  • “The Jewel of Leystall” by Chris Roberson
  • “Thin, On the Ground” by Howard Waldrop
  • “Boomtown Bandits” by Livia Washburn
  • “Six From Atlantis” by Gene Wolfe

Han Had A Shot First

Check out this rather scary 1979 Star Wars drunk driving PSA. Remember, friends don’t let Greedo shoot first.

[UPDATED] RIP: Jim Baen

Sad news, folks. Publisher Jim Baen has pased away.

Through the Baen Free Library, Jim proved that free (and DRM-free, too!) e-books do indeed help print sales. Stop by and read Jim’s sensible reasoning why that is.

SF Author and friend David Drake has written an obituary. More are sure to follow.

UPDATE: See also the Press Release, the SFWA Obit, SciFi Wire, Jerry Pournelle, Boing Boing, Patrick Nielson Hayden, John Scalzi, Memory Machine and Lou Anders.

[h/t Eternal Golden Braid]

SF Tidbits for 6/29/06

University of Houston’s Digital History offers Trailers of Historically Significant Films. [link via Cynical-C]

I’ve included the 53 films of note for sf/f/h genre fans in chronological order with links to their trailers. And before the genre-Nazis start howling at the moon, these are Digital History’s classifications, except for Tarzan and His Mate (which was classified as Africa) and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Education :O). Oddly, the 1933 King Kong is labeled as fantasy and the 1976 version is labeled as science fiction. Go figure. Also, I was going to include The Way We Were because it’s arguably horror, but I didn’t.

BONUS QUESTION: How many of these titles were based on books (excluding Outer Limits) ?

  1. Metropolis (1927)
  2. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
  3. Frankenstein (1931)
  4. Dracula (1931)
  5. The Mummy (1932)
  6. King Kong (1933)
  7. Invisible Man (1933)
  8. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  9. Buck Rogers (1939)
  10. Wizard of Oz (1939)
  11. Thief of Bagdad (1940)
  12. Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1942)
  13. Ape Man (1943) (2nd trailer)
  14. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  15. Harvey (1950)
  16. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  17. War of the Worlds (1953)
  18. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
  19. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  20. Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
  21. Forbidden Planet (1956)
  22. Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)
  23. Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
  24. 1984 (1959)
  25. Angry Red Planet (1960)
  26. Time Machine (1960)
  27. Outer Limits (1960′s TV)
  28. Psycho (1960)
  29. Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
  30. Wolfman (1966)
  31. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  32. Barbarella (1968)
  33. Planet of the Apes (1968)
  34. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  35. Exorcist (1973)
  36. Tommy (1975)
  37. King Kong (1976)
  38. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
  39. Star Wars (1977)
  40. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
  41. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  42. Blade Runner (1982)
  43. Zelig (1983)
  44. Terminator (1984)
  45. Ghostbusters (1984)
  46. Back to the Future (1985)
  47. ET: The Extraterrestrial (1988)
  48. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
  49. Jurassic Park (1993)
  50. Independence Day (1996)
  51. Being John Malkovich (1999)
  52. Day After Tomorrow: Storm Surge (2004) (2nd trailer)
  53. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

Oh, and Pete, you may want to check out the Barbarella trailer. You’re welcome.

SF Signal on Brain Parade

Here’s the height of irony. The cast of SF Signal is being featured on MemeTherapy‘s Brain Parade feature. And by “cast” I apparently mean “posse”. :)

And as the SF blogosphere’s undisputed linkmaster, I’d like to thank MemeTherapy for providing the link fodder.

SF Tidbits for 6/28/06

TRAILER: Spiderman 3

The very first teaser trailer of Spiderman 3 is available. Like any reasonable teaser trailer, it shows very little but really fires up the old blood. And Lowell as the Sandman…cool.

[via Every single science fcition website that shows even the most remote signs of being updated on a regular basis and even a few that aren't science fition-related at all.]

UPDATE: Rules updated to not require postal address. We don’t care where you live unless you win.

UPDATE #2: Changed submission email address while we change web hosts.

UPDATE #3: Changed submission email after web host move.

At SF Signal, our motto is: “We got so many books, they’re comin’ out of our – whoa, hey kids!” And what better way to clean house than to give some books away for free! Well, almost free. There is some effort involved. Just answer the questions below and you could win a free book!

THE PRIZE:

A brand spankin’ new trade paperback copy of Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow.

THE QUESTIONS:

I’ll give you a hint: All answers can be found on sfsignal.com.

  1. Which author wrote the book that was the basis for the movie The Iron Giant?
  2. What book was the basis for the TV show The Six Million Dollar Man?
  3. Name three science fiction authors who wrote for the TV show Land of the Lost.
  4. What was C.J. Cherryh’s original last name?
  5. Which author was nominated for two Hugo awards in 2006?
  6. What three novellas make up Robert Silverberg’s book Nightwings?
  7. The SF Signal review of which sf book featured a snippet of dialogue from Woody Allen’s Love & Death?
  8. Who wrote the short story “I, Robot”.
  9. What’s the name of the Google-like H.P. Lovecraft search engine?
  10. What participant on the TV show Mythbusters has been honored multiple times on SF Signal by Pete?

For fun: Name your favorite feature of SF Signal. (It is, after all, all about us!)

READY, SET, GO!

All entries should be submitted to contest*AT*sfsignal*DOT*com.

RULES

One entry per person. All entries should include a name and valid email address. We will not sell or otherwise distribute your email address; we probably hate spammers more than you do. The single winning entry will be the one with the most correct answers. In the event of a tie, the single winner will be chosen at random (or pseudo-random) from the entries with the most correct answers. If you win, you must reply within 48 hours of being notified so we can get your U.S. mailing address to mail the prize. After 48 hours with no reply, we pick another winner. Only U.S. postal address will be accepted. (What, we wanna spend a small fortune in postage?) Submision emails must be received when the contest ends: July 10th, 2006 at midnight (Central Time). The winner will be announced shortly thereafter. All decisions of the judges are final. So there.

Pyr editor Lou Anders has posted an appeal to U.S. readers to buy American (or both American and U.K.):

[I]f you live here in North American, can I ask you a favor, on behalf of myself, Pyr, and both of these authors? Please wait for our edition. I didn’t used to think that it mattered. Sometimes I liked the UK cover better than the US, or I wanted a hardcover when the US publisher only brought the book out in trade paperback or mass market. Or I didn’t want to wait [...] But now I know better. There are a long list of deserving British and Australian authors that you don’t see over here. There are others that you don’t see here any more. Science fiction is not such a big market that the few hundred editions that slip through the specialty shops, or get shipped from Amazon.co.uk don’t make a difference.

This is an interesting plea that I think goes beyond the “buy our brand” message that some will undoubtedly take this for, regardless of the examples and pointers to other publishers’ books that are pointed out.

There’s some good comments on Lou’s blog and on Emerald City. SFBC editor Andrew Wheeler also comments.

I’ve personally never bought a book from outside the U.S. There’s plenty to read here and there was never a book that was published that I just had to have that warranted the extra charge. (Although the Gollancz Masterworks editions come darn close.)

I do wonder how many of our readers buy books overseas. (I’m extending this to out non-U.S. readers who may buy U.S. books before they are available locally.) So, have you ever purchased a science fiction book (or any book, really) from another country? For what reason?

SF Tidbits for 6/27/06

Shambleau

BBC 7 is airing an audio rendition of “Shambleau” by C.L. Moore in three, 30-minute parts. The story is about “a space bounty-hunter who lives to regret rescuing a young woman from attack.” This is Moore’s first story and was written in 1933.

If you can’t wait you can read it in glorious French!

A few years ago, I happened upon the Gnome Press edition of the collection Shambleau and Others. It’s a beautiful reproduction of the original 1953 book. It comes in it’s own sturdy carboard sleeve and earns a spot on my precious shelf.

Just don’t ask me if I’ve read it yet. :)

POLL RESULTS: Book Remainders

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
How much of your book purchasing is made up of book remainders? (Note: not used books)

RESULTS

(28 total votes)




Be sure to vote in this week’s poll on your favorite Futurama character!

UPDATED: EW’s “Must” List

UPDATE: Whoops! Forgot one: The “Must” Audiobook.

The latest Entertainment Weekly (double issue #884/#885), which contains their “Must List”, contains some entries of note for genre fans:

  • “Must” Revivalist: Neil Gaiman (The Eternals)
  • “Must” Love Machines: The Cylons of Battlestar Galactica – Grace Park (Sharon), Tricia Helfer (Number Six) and Lucy Lawless (D’Anna Biers).
  • “Must” Comic Book: Rocketo by Frank Espinosa.
  • “Must” Audiobook: A Scanner Darkly read by Paul Giamatti.

SF Tidbits for 6/25/06

Free Philip K. Dick Audiobook

Wonder Audiobooks is promoting the audio anthology Among The Aliens by providing the free audio story “Beyond Lies The Wub” by Philip K. Dick.

The impressive table of contents for full contents of Among The Aliens looks like this:

  • “Green Patches” by Isaac Asimov
  • “Lover When You’re Near Me” by Richard Matheson
  • “Anthropological Notes” by Murray Leinster
  • “Arena” by Fredric Brown
  • “The Monsters” by Robert Sheckley
  • “The Martian Odyssey” by Stanley G. Weinbaum
  • “The Hanging Stranger” by Philip K. Dick
  • “The Wind People” by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • “Captains Mate” by Evelyn E. Smith
  • “The Devil On Salvation Bluff” by Jack Vance

[via SFF Audio]

REVIEW: Paragaea by Chris Roberson

REVIEW SUMMARY: A contemporary pulp adventure that injects some fun back into the genre.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Retro-style adventure story in which cosmonaut Leena Chirikov is transported to Paragaea and must search for a way home.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Fast-paced and action-packed; wondrous setting; likable characters; fun!

CONS: Slight pacing issues at times. Characters sometimes acted questionably.

BOTTOM LINE: True to its promise, if you like old-school pulp adventure, you’ll like Paragaea.

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Superman Tidbits

As is the way, stories are surfacing related to an upcoming summer blockbuster. Here are a few items that have cropped up thanks to next week’s release of Superman Returns.

  • Screen Rant points to a two-and-a-half minute clip from Superman Returns. It looks cool for all the reasons Vic @ Screen Rant mentions. I got the same cool vibe I got when I saw Superman: The Movie and Superman II in my youth. Funny thing with those movies was they didn’t quite hold up on recent re-viewings with my daughter. There were some dialogue and suspension of disbelief issues that I just didn’t catch when I was eleven. Yet now my older (and more critical) eyes are looking forward to Superman Returns.
  • Superman expert Tom DeHaven is looking forward to Superman Returns as he completes his Superman-related book for Yale Univerty Press’ American Icon series.
  • The National Geographic Channel will be airing The Science of Superman.
  • Flixens offers The Real Heroes of Superman, an 8-part series, So far: Parts one, two, three, four and five. (Okay, this one’s a semi-repeat, but part 5 is new. So there.)
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