Archive for October, 2006

SF Tidbits for 10/31/06

What’s the Scariest Movie Ever?

Boo!

It’s Halloween! Everyone has their own list of scary movies. (Or movie charcters, or horror villains, or scenes, or…)

What do you think are the scariest movies?

For me, it’d be The Exorcist, The Evil Dead and The Omen (original). I saw all of these when I was an impressionable, young whippersnapper. (As opposed to the stubborn old codger I am today.) These are the movies that I’d remember when I was home alone and the house would start making noises I never heard before. The bed moved! Was that the sound of a amputated hand crawling up the wall? Is that Damien in the attic?

I was never much scared by slasher horror flicks. I always found them to be amusing when I was younger; the bloodier, the better. My all-time favorite movie-going experience is still A Nightmare on Elm Street because the audience was so into it.

SF Tidbits for 10/30/06

POLL RESULTS: The Coolest Setting in SF Literature

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Which of the following is the coolest setting in sf literature?

RESULTS

(142 total votes)

This week’s poll sparked a few comments….

“Where the heck is Robert Heinlein? Starship Troopers? Future History? Have Spacesuit will Travel? Hello?” – Cory

“I’d have listed Peter Hamilton’s Commonwealth (Pandora Planet [I think Tim means Pandora’s Star – Ed.] – Judas Unchained) rather than Night’s Dawn. The setting of Night’s Dawn (which I’m just starting to re-read, by the way) is damn cool, but, comn on! Railroads to the stars! Who could resist that?” – Tim M.

Please note that those responsible have been sacked, along with the bozo who gave voters an “out” by providing the choice of “Other”. [Looks up and to the left.]

Be sure to vote in this week’s poll on the coolest setting in sf TV and film!

REVIEW: Event by David Lynn Golemon

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The story of what really happened at Roswell takes a turn as the aliens who crashed there return to Earth once more. This time 2 creatures live – one who proves friendly to man and professes a desire to help, and one whose goal is total elimination of life from the planet..

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Good overall UFO story, strong depiction of the US military and its future enhancements

CONS: Some ideas a little difficult to buy – the Roswell rehash can be tough to get through, and there are parts too similar to the campy film Tremors.

BOTTOM LINE: Fans of UFO fiction will find this a great read, and fans of military fiction won’t be disappointed either.

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Putting SciFi in its place

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the genre of creative works known as science fiction and its place relative to the total body of creative work and I feel the need to weigh in with my opinion. The recent discussion about literary sci-fi only made this more interesting to me.

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SF Tidbits for 10/29/06

Star Wars Screen Tests

I stumbled upon this Panopticist post of Robby Benson’s Star Wars audition (he reads for the part of Luke along with a mostly off-camera Harrison Ford). This led me to the YouTube profile of its source, Ghyslain. (Not the Star-Wars-Kid Ghyslain, although that would somehow be poetic, wouldn’t it?) Gyslain has collected a series of Star Wars audition videos.

His notes say there is 90 minutes of footage that features folks like Kurt Russell, William Katt, Fredric Forrest, Andrew Stevens, Charles Martin Smith, Amy Irving, and several others. So far you can see: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Lisa Eilbacher (from Beverly Hills Cop reading for Princess Leia). Here’s another one with someone reading for Leia I don’t recognize and does not identify herself in the video.

A post about Star Wars auditions wouldn’t be complete without including this Saturday Night Live skit (which we’ve posted before) showing Christopher Walken (awesomely impersonated by Kevin Spacey) reading for Han Solo, Richard Dreyfuss (Daryl Hammond) reading for C3PO and Walter Matthau (Spacey again) reading for Obi Wan. What we didn’t post about before was another SNL skit in the series shows Burt Reynolds (played by Morm McDonald) trying out for Darth Vader, Barbara Streisand (Ana Gasteyer) reading for Princess Leia and Jack Lemmon (Spacey again) as Chewbacca.

REVIEW: Isaac Asimov’s Halloween edited by Gardner Dozois and Sheila Williams

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Anthology of ten stories with a supernatural element that originally appeared in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: 6 stories good or better; two of them standouts.

CONS: 4 stories mediocre or worse. One story (“DikDuk”) is incomplete, but is fortunately available online.

BOTTOM LINE: A decent collection of stories with a supernatural element.

I’ve been collecting the books in the Isaac Asimov… anthology series for years and haven’t read them. (Insert biblioholism admission here. Treat self to new book for the courage to do so.) With Halloween just around the corner, I figured if I wasn’t going to read Isaac Asimov’s Halloween around this time of year, I never would. So I did.

The title Isaac Asimov’s Halloween may be misleading for those who don’t read the fine print. This anthology, like others in the series, collects stories that were originally printed in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. The “Halloween” in the title does not imply stories of the horror genre; Asimov’s is a science fiction and fantasy outlet, after all. But the stories do contain some element of the supernatural and/or inhuman (read: Cthulhu).

Overall, it was a decent collection. As usual in anthologies, stories vary in quality. There were two standout stories in the ten provided: the creepy “He-We-Await” by Howard Waldrop and the humorous “The Shunned Trailer” by Esther M. Friesner.

Reviewlettes of the stories follow.

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SF Tidbits for 10/27/06

Did Fantasy Movies Fail To Make A Resurgence?

Another thought-provoking read from The Movie Blog’s John Campea – Lord Of The Rings – Why Fantasy Failed To Make A Resurgence – in which he says that Lord of the Rings: Return of the King made it more difficult for fantasy films to be produced. A sampling:

Many people suggested that the massive success of ROTK would OPEN THE DOOR to the fantasy genre for studios. Seems to make sense right? The problem for fantasy, is that ROTK was a little TOO SUCCESSFUL. ROTK didn’t swing the door open for fantasy…it slammed the door shut.

He does note the success of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (writing it off as fairy tale instead of fantasy) and the upcoming Eragon which he notes that people are already dismissing it as a LOTR knock-off based on conjecture.

Surely the Harry Potter films could be added to that list of successful fantasy films. As for Eragon, I’ve read it and while I thought it was a very entertaining book, it clearly uses the same plot outline as LOTR, and even Star Wars (as noted in the review).

SF Tidbits for 10/26/06

Musings On The Current Science Fiction TV Scene

We’re a few weeks into the fall TV season and science fiction is making an impact on the television scene. I thought I’d go ahead and spell out what I’m watching SF-wise and give you my thoughts on those shows and where I think the are, or should be, headed. I’ll go in order by day, starting on Monday night. Afterward, I’ll look at a couple of other shows that are on or will be on that are of some interest to me. Be advised that I will not be avoiding spoilers so read at your own risk.

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As I quietly sidestep the endless debate to be had on what exactly is meant by “Literary” (I leave you to use your own definition), I was wondering: What do you consider to be your favorite two or three literary science fiction novels?

I’ll start the ball rolling by citing ones that that stand out in recent memory: River of Gods by Ian McDonald, The Healer by Michael Blumlein and The Man Who Fell To Earth by Walter Tevis.

I might also add that my luck with enjoying literary novels, like my track record with sf classics, is mostly hit-and-miss. (For example, my least favorite literary sf novels are 334 by Thomas Disch and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin.) As a result, I tend to gravitate to what literary snobs would call the “lower” side of the literary spectrum…at least until my mood suits me otherwise. Therefore, much to my misfortune, I have yet to read some classics that are sure to be mentioned here, like Gene Wolfe.

What about you?

Forrest J. Ackerman’s Music For Robots

The Scar Stuff blog has mp3s of an old vinyl record album made by legendary uber-fan Forrest J. Ackerman. It’s called Music For Robots. (Not to be confused with the band.)

There are two mp3s from the album actually. In the first one, Forry reminisces about robot lore with lost of juicy classic sf references. Cool stuff! The second mp3 is the advertised “music”, which really is just a lengthy series of mostly-annoying electronic beeps and stuff.

[via Boing Boing]

Very Short Stories

Wired asked a bunch of genre writers to come up with a story of exactly 6 words. Here is a sampling:

  • Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer? (Eileen Gunn)
  • Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so. (Joss Whedon)
  • Epitaph: Foolish humans, never escaped Earth. (Vernor Vinge)
  • We went solar; sun went nova. (Ken MacLeod)
  • Don’t marry her. Buy a house. (Stephen R. Donaldson)
  • TIME MACHINE REACHES FUTURE!!! …nobody there… (Harry Harrison)
  • whorl. Help! I’m caught in a time (Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel)

SF Tidbits for 10/24/06

SF Tidbits for 10/23/06

REVIEW: Wings to the Kingdom by Cherie Priest

REVIEW SUMMARY: More of a story with ghosts than a ghost story.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Eden Moore uses her ability of seeing dead people to solve the mystery of Old Green Eyes.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: The wonderfully somber atmosphere; the ghosts play a more active roll here than in the previous book.

CONS: The mystery is not very complex. The steady pacing is perhaps a bit too slow.

BOTTOM LINE: A fine companion for a cold, quiet night.

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POLL RESULTS: Robot Smackdown!

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Which of these robots from literature, movies and TV is your favorite?

RESULTS

(120 total votes)

Perhaps its interesting to note that robots from literature received 41.7% of the votes, movie robots received 30% of the votes and tv robots got 28.3% of the votes.

Be sure to vote in this week’s poll on the coolest setting in sf literature!

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