REVIEW: Keeping It Real by Justina Robson

REVIEW SUMMARY: A great book – over before you know it!

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Agent Lila Black is on her first mission for the Otopian NSA. Her mission? To guard and investigate the lead singer of the The No Shows rock band, who happens to be an elf. However, she is far from normal herself, even in a changed world intersecting with elven, faery, and even demon worlds. Her assignment leads to a plot much more involved than she had ever imagined and takes her through her own internal struggle and growth.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: A great blend of science fiction and fantasy! Imaginative characters, while based on previous fantasy archetypes – have their own unique aspects and personalities. Quickly pulls you in, and picks up speed from there.

CONS: The introduction, laying the basis of the book, could have been better.

BOTTOM LINE: Keeping It Real is anything but "keeping it real". It transports the reader to a familiar world with an intriguing fantasy and sci-fi twist.  Some good old fashioned espionage wrapped in futuristic technology and fantasy magic. If you are a fan of sci-fi or fantasy Keeping It Real has something for you!

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Saturday YouTube: Robots Return

This is both cool and funny…

Infinite Story

For those who don’t have enough to read, theres the Infinite Story website. This site offers more than the “Choose Your Adventure” type stories: it allows you to add your own branch!

From the site:

This site is an interactive fiction writing engine that allows one to read and write infinite stories. Infinite, or branching stories are stories that have choices for the reader at the end of each chapter or “room.” Each choice then takes the reader to a new room and the story continues. If the author of a story chooses, the reader can add on to the end of a story, thereby creating a never-ending adventure!

There are several story paths available in the science fiction and fantasy categories. Note: It looks like free registration is required before you get too far.

SF Tidbits for 3/31/07

2007 Science Fiction Hall of Fame Inductees

This year’s inductees into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame have been announced.

The inductees for 2007 are Gene Wolfe, Ridley Scott, Ed Emshwiller, and Gene Roddenberry.

Induction ceremonies will be held on June 16th, 2007, at Seattle’s Science Fiction Museum, which will also host the announcement and presentation of this year’s Locus Awards.

See also: Previous Science Fiction Hall of Fame inductees.

[via Locus Online]

Friday YouTube: Science Fiction Pulp Covers

Follow the trail for Part 2 and Part 3. There’s also a Science Fiction Paperback Covers version, but the soundtrack is much, much more annoying.

SF Tidbits for 3/30/07

…And We’re Back

The blog seems to operating normally again. Mostly (more on that in a minute…)

The problem, in a nutshell, is that I’m a boob. There was a Movable Type configuration problem that was made about a year ago. I used the web hosts IP address to specify paths in the configuration file. Within the last couple of days, the web host changed the IP address of our server, thus requests to the blog’s resources were timing out. Many thanks to David P. at Movable Type for figuring this out and also to the kind folks at BlueHost for being tolerating my annoying phone calls. (Thanks Kyle! And also the guy who I just spoke to and whose name I completely forgot.)

However – there’s always a “however” – the DNS address change that the web host made takes up to 48 hours to complete. What this means is that for the next day or so (I am told), requests to see individual posts will be slightly delayed in appearing. (Oddly, the SF Signal main page appears as quick as ever.) When the posts do appear, you may comment to your heart’s content. Please bear with us as these changes are completed.

We now return to your regularly scheduled postings about Star Wars and supermodels…

Blogus Interruptus

The blog has been experiencing some performance issues this week, culminating in a virtual lockout for users that began yesterday. Comments are currently unavailable. Trying to access individual posts is an exercise in patience.

We are working to resolve the problem…

Interzone Publishes 25th Anniversary Issue

The March-April 2007 issue of Interzone (#209) marks the 25th year of the genre magazine’s publication.

Here’s what’s in the 25th Anniversary Issue:

STORIES:

  • “The Whenever at the City’s Heart” by Hal Duncan
  • “Winter” by Jamie Barras
  • “The Good Detective” by M. John Harrison
  • “Big Cat” by Gwyneth Jones
  • “The Sledge-maker’s Daughter” by Alastair Reynolds
  • “Tears for Godzilla” by Daniel Kaysen
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Edward Morris

FEATURES:

  • Ansible Link by David Langford (news and gossip)
  • Editorial: 25 years of Interzone
  • Reviews of books by Kim Stanley Robinson (plus interview by Rick Kleffel), Ken MacLeod, Naomi Novik, Robert Sawyer, Charlie Huston, Ed Gorman, Charles Stross and many others
  • Mangazone: Sarah Ash on Eternal Sabbath and Basilisk
  • Nick Lowe’s Mutant Popcorn: SF’s finest film critic on recent films including The Fountain, Arthur and the Invisibles, Eragon, Zoom, Deja Vu, Night at the Museum, It’s a Boy-Girl Thing.
  • Blood for Ink: Getting Serious With Hal Duncan (interview by Neil Williamson)
  • 25 IZ: David Pringle, Arthur C. Clarke, Greg Agan, Michael Moorcock, Christopher Fowler, Neal Asher, Alastair Reynolds, Chris Beckett on 25 years of Interzone (to be continued, with Bruce Sterling, Sarah Ash, Ellen Datlow, Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter, Ken MacLeod, Peter F. Hamilton, Eric Brown, Dominic Green, James Lovegrove, Mike Ashley and many others, including you?)
  • 25 TV: Afterlife creator Stephen Volk’s personal top ten TV programs from the last 25 years (to be continued, covering various media)
  • Readers’ Poll results: the most popular stories and art as voted for by the readers

SF Tidbits for 3/29/07

[UPDATED] NOMINEES: 2007 Hugo Award

[4/2 UPDATE: A correction has Pan’s Labyrinth replacing Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in the DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM category.]

[4/4 UPDATE: Updated with links to some stories posted online.]

[4/5 UPDATE: Updated with more links to online stories.]

[4/10 UPDATE: Updated with link to the audio version of the Gaiman story.]

[4/20 UPDATE: Updated with link to final story, Robert Charles Wilson’s “Julian”.]

[4/23 UPDATE: Added link to Eifelheim.]

The final ballot for the Hugo Awards is floating around

NOVEL

NOVELLA

NOVELETTE

SHORT STORY

RELATED BOOK

  • About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews by Samuel R. Delany
  • Heinlein’s Children: The Juveniles by Joseph T. Major
  • James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice Sheldon by Julie Phillips [see SF Signal review]
  • Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio by John Picacio [see SF Signal review]
  • Worldcon Guest of Honor Speeches edited by Mike Resnick & Joe Siclari

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What SF/F Series are you Dying to Read?

There are a ton of unread science fiction and fantasy series that I’d love to dive into.

The top of that list is constantly changing based on either recommendations from others, my own reading experiences (usually by the same author) or just stumbling across an unread book (or series) from my own collection.

For example, folks have been recommending George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series for some time. And my recent reading of Kage Baker’s Gods and Pawns moved her Company novels at the top of my list. That’s not to mention the series that used to be high on the to-read-next list like Banks’ Culture novels, Benford’s Galactic Center books, Butcher’s Dresden Files and Bova’s Grand Tour series…and that’s just the authors whose names start with “B”!

Sound off! What science fiction and/or fantasy series are you dying to read?

SF Tidbits for 3/28/07

SF Tidbits for 3/27/07

REVIEW: The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

MY RATING:

The Last Continent is the sixth Rincewind novel, and it seems that Pratchett may have been running out of steam. What more, exactly, can you write about a man whose primary ability is in running away and who is very good at not doing magic? Thus it is with The Last Continent, where we really don’t get much of anything new, and certainly not about Rincewind. The story is basically about how the Wizards of the Unseen University end up on the Last Continent (aka – XXXX), but 3000 years in the past, and Rincewind’s adventures in present day XXXX and how those two settings finally mesh.

Rincewind, as you might expect, spends most of his time running away from everything, especially the supernatural kangaroo, who seems to have something interesting for Rincewind to do. The UU wizards, meanwhile, are trying to figure out how to make it back to Ank-Morpork for lunch, which will occur in a few hours plus three millennia. As such, there is very little interaction between the threads, although there are some inklings that the wizards in the past have caused/are causing problems in the present. I was never really sure, exactly, how this was done, or who was using Rincewind to try and set things right. The climax doesn’t really explain much, although there is a lot of rain involved. In fact, the whole never felt like an extended gag about Australia (which XXXX is similar too). Unfortunately, while the individual gags may be humorous, like the Mad Max-ish dwarf, and the goofy place names (Didjabringabeeralong), it really felt like Pratchett was beating a dead wombat, with just more, “Hey! Let’s make some more fun of how Australians talk and their strange vocabulary!” It got old quickly and I had to force myself to keep reading at some points.

That’s not to say there aren’t good things here. There certainly are. The ensuing discussion between the wizards as Ponder Stibbons attempts to explain time travel and paradoxes is quite funny. As is the scene where the god of evolution shows the wizards how evolution works and Stibbons points out how it can be made more efficient. Also, the explanation for how the platypus was created is quite funny, and, as you can guess, involved a committee. Of wizards. Rincewind is still his same old cowardly self, the Luggage gets a little screen time but in a familial way and Death makes a quick appearance and is always good for a laugh. And there are the little funny bits sprinkled throughout, but they don’t elevate this book above being an average Pratchett book.

Which is to say, while The Last Continent isn’t Pratchett’s best by a long shot, it does have its moments, and its certainly better than your run of the mill fantasy with elves story.

(See the entire Pratchett Reading List here.)

REVIEW: The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

REVIEW SUMMARY: A good book overall, but weak on plot.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Discworld plunges towards an ominous red star and the only thing that can save it are the most powerful magic spells, one of which lives inside the head of the reluctant Wizard Rincewind.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: A quick and funny read.

CONS: Light on plot; seemed to drag on a bit despite the humor.

BOTTOM LINE: A better overall reading experience than The Color of Magic, even if only slightly.

Continue reading

TOC: Best American Fantasy

Matthew Cheney has posted the table of contents for the first edition of the annual anthology Best American Fantasy:

  1. “A Hard Truth About Waste Management” by Sumanth Prabhaker
  2. “The Stolen Father” by Eric Roe
  3. “The Saffron Gatherer” by Elizabeth Hand
  4. “The Whipping” by Julia Elliott
  5. “A Better Angel” by Chris Adrian
  6. “Draco Campestris” by Sarah Monette
  7. “Geese” by Daniel Coudriet
  8. “The Chinese Boy” by Ann Stapleton
  9. “The Flying Woman” by Meghan McCarron
  10. “First Kisses from Beyond the Grave” by Nik Houser
  11. “Song of the Selkie” by Gina Ochsner
  12. “A Troop [sic] of Baboons” by Tyler Smith
  13. “Pieces of Scheherazade” by Nicole Kornher-Stace
  14. “Origin Story” by Kelly Link
  15. “An Experiment in Governance” by E.M. Schorb
  16. “The Next Corpse Collector” by Ramola D
  17. “The Village of Ardakmoktan” by Nicole Derr
  18. “The Man Who Married a Tree” by Tony D’Souza
  19. “A Fable with Slips of White Paper Spilling from the Pockets” by Kevin Brockmeier
  20. “Pregnant” by Catherine Zeidler
  21. “The Warehouse of Saints” by Robin Hemley
  22. “The Ledge” by Austin Bunn
  23. “Lazy Taekos” by Geoffrey A. Landis
  24. “For the Love of Paul Bunyan” by Fritz Swanson
  25. “An Accounting” by Brian Evenson
  26. “Abraham Lincoln Has Been Shot” by Daniel Alarcón
  27. “Bit Forgive” by Maile Chapman
  28. “The End Of Narrative (1-29; Or 29-1)” by Peter LaSalle
  29. “Kiss” by Melora Wolff

SF Tidbits for 3/26/07

POLL RESULTS: Reading from an Electronic Display

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
How much of your book reading is from a computer screen or electronic display?

RESULTS

(119 total votes)

Looking at this data another way: only about 10% of people read half or more of their fiction on an electronic display.

Comments this week:

“There is something satisfying about holding and smelling and turning a page in a book. Good, bad or ugly I like the feel of them.” – Bryan S.

“So this begs a follow up question: How many of those who have read a book on their PC are doing so legally? ;-)” – Trent

“Actual books read on electronic display? None. I do read a lot of online fiction on my home desktop. In fact a greater percentage of my fiction reading in online but they’re not books. Mostly what I read is shorter format works, but I can sit in front of a computer for hours and hours reading a good number of stories. I think that ability to find nearly all the Hugo and Nebula award nominees online and read them is great. There’s no way I could read them all without the internet.” – Kat

“What kind of friggin’ poll question is this?” – Rich

Be sure to vote in this week’s poll on The Most Underrated Space Opera Novel!