Alastair Reynolds Compares Science Fiction and Fact

The BBC talks to Alastair Reynolds (The Prefect) about whether current technology has out-paced science fiction:

The common complaint now is that science fiction is already outmoded because we are living in a science fiction universe,” says Mr Reynolds. “I’ve got some sympathy with that. Only the other day I was in Amsterdam airport and I noticed security guards nipping around on Segways with machine guns.

“If you had been transported from 1997 into this year, you would be incredulous and think of it as science fiction.

“But we accept it as part of the fabric of our world.”

Mr Reynolds believes that the pace of change makes science fiction essential reading, now more than ever.

Gwyneth Jones says Cyberpunk Got it Right

Gwyneth Jones writes about how cyberpunk turned out to have some fairly accurate predictive powers:

In the 1980s, a new kind of science fiction emerged, like a supernova, blasting the old finned spaceships, streamlined Metropolis robots and tentacled aliens out of the sky. Called “cyberpunk”, the manifesto went like this: in the foreseeable future there will be no aliens, and no trips to distant planets. Digital technology, however, will get better and better, throwing up fantastic new gadgets that will not remain in the hands of the wealthy. Every punk will have a supercomputer in his pocket (and this was before desktop PCs, mind you, when video-camera, wi-fi internet access phones weren’t even a twinkle in a Finnish eye). And everything else in the world will get much, much, worse.

The science-fiction establishment hated cyberpunks. Science fiction was supposed to be about progress and how advances in technology would create a better world. But they were right, and the truth they told is highly relevant to this new century of sci-fi come true. If a child is told at the age of five that he has the cognitive scan of a delinquent, there’s a very strong chance that he’ll fulfil that prediction.

SF Tidbits for 4/30/07

POLL RESULTS: Summer 2007 Movies

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Which of these 2007 summer movies are you most likely to see?


(139 total votes)

Comments this week:

“I’d be remiss as a Neil Gaiman fan if I didn’t go see Stardust…but I can’t wait for Spider-Man 3. Or Pirates 3. Or Harry Potter 5. Or…Or…Or… This list needs a “Resounding All Of The Above” choice, dag-nabbit!” – Pete Tz.

“Meh. I remain a SF snob. Nothing wrong with superhero movies, but I am unlikely to view them in the theater. (I have not seen the previous Spiderman or Fantastic Four in the theaters.) I am not a zombie/horror or fantasy fan knocking out four others on the list. I haven’t heard of Stardust or the Invasion, but the titles intrigue me. I would not mind seeing about half of these in theaters, but given my sporatic theater attendance, I’m not likely to see any.” – Kristen

“I hate to say it but Fido looks somewhat interesting to me. Sort of like the end of Shawn of the Dead taken to the next level plus all that Pleasantville type scenery. Just oozes shmultz..” – Tim

“I’d also vote for HP (I voted for Stardust). Shrek might be one for the family; we’ll see. As for the rest? Meh.” – Fred Kiesche

“I will probably see 8 out 10 of these movies.Looks to be an interesting and perhaps good summer for the movies.” – Ed

Be sure to vote in this week’s poll about Book Signings!

REVIEW: Lurulu by Jack Vance

REVIEW SUMMARY: Finishes off the story begun with Ports of Call with the perfect ending.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Myron continues his trek about the galaxy meeting interesting people and having sometimes not so exciting adventures along the way.


PROS: Vance continues to be unafraid to write however he feels like and I believe the reader is rewarded for the non-traditional approach.

CONS: The back half of a book-split that shouldn’t have been done – the collection of this and the earlier book work best if read together.

BOTTOM LINE: Same as the previous novel: fun set of stories that chronicle the travels of a young man adrift in the big universe.

Continue reading

Interzone Celebrates The Mundane

Andy Cox, editor and publisher of Interzone, has announced that the May-June issue next year will be a special issue devoted to Mundane SF, guest-edited by Geoff Ryman.

As per Ryman, the rules of Mundane SF are:

  • no FTL travel or communications
  • no aliens
  • no time travel
  • no parallel universes
  • no immortality or telepathy

[via John Joseph Adams]

SciFi Channel Announces Summer Series Start Dates

For those who are interested in the SCiFi Channel’s non-wrestling programming, they have announced the U.S. start dates for series starting or retuning this summer.

Flash Gordon premieres Aug. 10. It puts a 21st-century spin on the SF classic. SCI FI’s contemporized version stars Eric Johnson.

Destination Truth debuts June 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The one-hour weekly series invites viewers along on one man’s search for the truth while investigating stories of the unexplained across the globe. Josh Gates stars.

The as-yet-untitled Derren Brown Project premieres July 25 at 10 p.m. The series stars British mentalist Derren Brown.

Among returning series, Ghost Hunters comes back June 6 at 9 p.m., Doctor Who July 6 at 9 p.m., Eureka on July 10 and Who Wants to Be a Superhero? July 25 at 9 p.m.

Authors@Google Presents: John Scalzi

YouTube teams with Google to offer Google Author Talks. Here’s one from John Scalzi:

“Author John Scalzi discusses “The Last Colony” as part of the Authors@Google series. This event took place on April 27, 2007 at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA. Bacon Cat also explained.”

What, no tiara? :)

See also: videos with Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Lethem, Kelly Link and Karen Joy Fowler.

The Cold Equations Movie

Cogmios points out that America Free TV has a science fiction channel. This is the same stream we pointed out before (with a larger display), but seeing it again prompted me to check it out once more.

There was no indication as to what video was being streamed, but it looked intriguing enough. There was a trial scene done with flashbacks in which a pilot was delivering medical supplies. The importance of keeping the total cargo weight low was emphasized, since there is a direct correlation to the consumption of precious fuel. Hmmm…that sounded familiar. Then the pilot discovers a stowaway.


I was watching an adaptation of Tom Godwin’s superb short story, “The Cold Equations“. It looked like it might have been a Outer Limits episode. That was news to me. A Google later, I discovered that I was watching a 1996 made-for-TV movie version of the story. Cool! The acting was uneven and It ran a little long for the story, but damn, the central point of the story still rocks.

But here’s the kicker — it was filmed for the SciFi Channel. Funny, I don’t remember any wrestlers in the story… :)

I never even knew there was an adaptation. Actually, it turns out there were two others! One for the 1962 British anthology series Out of This World and one for the 1985-1989 revival of The Twilight Zone.

I wonder what other sf treasures are waiting out there?

SF Tidbits for 4/28/07

What’s Up With: Book Signing Tours

On our way down the elevator after work today, Tim voiced a question that has been bugging me for a while now:

Why aren’t there more big time author book signings in Houston?

After all, Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S. We have a very diverse population that includes many SF and F fans, so why don’t we see more signings? For instance, SF Signal favorite John Scalzi is currently on a book tour. Just look at some of the cities on tour: Half Moon Bay, Novi, Kokom. I mean, what the heck? I’m sure they are nice places, but I’m guessing the population of just our area of Houston has as many, if not more, people. So what is that determines a site for the tour? I know Austin, with the popular Bookpeople store, is a good place for a signing, and its only a couple of hours from Houston. So, if I were to have gone to Austin to see Neal Stephenson (which I did), its most likely I would go to see Scalzi (which I would), even if we’re talking a whole day trip.

So why not come to Houston? There are many areas that could easily host a signing, like The Woodlands or The Galleria just to name a few. All are much closer to us here at the big SFS, and we’d definitely go see our favorite authors (Tobias Buckell, Chris Roberson, Scalzi just to name a few). If anyone can shed some light on the apparently esoteric art of book signing tours, we would love to here from you!

Friday YouTube: Failed Auditions from 300

[via Pistol Wimp]

SFBC Author Notes

Over at the Science Fiction Book Club Blog, Andrew Wheeler is posting a bunch of “Author Notes” where writers talk about their books.

Check out:

Summer 2007 Concatenation Posted

The Summer 2007 issue of Concatenation is posted. In addition to numerous reviews, here’s what’s included:

Also: A memeber of the Concatenation team is going to Swim the English Channel for charity!

SF Tidbits for 4/27/07

REVIEW:The Last Hero by Terry Pratchet


(For more Discworld reviews, see The Great Pratchett Review Table)

Thanks to our own lovely and talented Tim, I was able to get my hands on the coffee-table sized version of The Last Hero, the one with Cohen in all his geriatric glory on the cover. What a treat this book is. The Last Hero is the story of a group of unlikely heroes who attempt to stop an old threat, namely the Silver Horde, from destroying Discworld. It seems that Cohen and his gang want to give the gods what for, which, unfortunately, will also result in bad things for the rest of the Disc.

The Last Hero, clocking in at around 40,000 words, is very short book, more of a novella really. The story itself is rather fun, if short, being a conglomeration of parodies: the moon landing, fantasy evil overlords, and the lone hero against impossible odds are just a few of them. However, The Last Hero really requires some knowledge of the previous Discworld novels, as Pratchett doesn’t wast time with character introductions or backstory re-hashes. Everything is in service to the plot, and the action move along at a brisk and humorous pace. We meet old friends such as Rincewind, Lord Vetinari, Cohen and Corporal Carrot. Of course there is the usual Pratchett word play, which reminds my of Jimmy from Airplane!, frequent use of footnotes, normal seeming situations that rapidly become comically unusual and, of course, Death.

But where this book really shines is in the artwork. Paul Kidby replaces the usual artist, Josh Kirby, and he brings a more ‘realistic’ style to the Discworld. His takes on the appearance of all the characters are refreshingly different yet still manage to capture the feel of each character. That being said, I think the best artwork in the book are the drawings of Leonard of Quirm, the Disc’s version of Leonardo da Vinci. Kidby does an incredible job of mimicing da Vinci’s artwork style while infusing it with typical Discworld insanity. My favorites would be the drawing on the Common Swamp Dragon, the painting of the Rimfall, and the sketches of the space ship, The Great Bird. In fact, The Last Hero is just chock full of great eye candy and I spent as much time just looking at the art as I did in reading the book.

While not the longest story in the Discworld canon, I have to say that the artwork alone in The Last Hero elevates this book near the top of the best Discworld novels. If you’re a Discworld fan and you haven’t read this book, do yourself a favor and get it. You won’t be disappointed. I may have to ‘lose’ this book and, thus, not be able to return it to Tim…

What’s the Matter, Colonel Sanders? Chicken?

Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, creators of Cartoon Network’s Robot Chicken, will develop Robot Chicken: Star Wars, a 30-minute stop-motion animation for the network’s Adult Swim programming block.

Here’s the kicker: Not only does Mark Hamill as the voice of Luke Skywalker in one sketch, but also George Lucas, who will voice the animated version of himself!

Has the world gone mad? First he helps out Fanboys…now this? If only he could go back in time and eradicate all traces of Jar Jar, he’d be golden.

Other voices in Robot Chicken: Star Wars include in Conan O’Brien, Seth MacFarlane, Robert Smigel, Malcolm McDowell, Hulk Hogan, James Van Der Beek, Donald Faison, Abraham Benrubi, Breckin Meyer and Joey Fatone. The special will premiere at 10 p.m. June 17 on Adult Swim.

Call For Action! Help Us Spead the Word About Science Fiction and Fantasy!

Just a reminder that we are still taking suggestions for Reader Challenge #6 – The Harry Potter Outreach Program!

This is a chance to sprad the word about all that is good and holy about the genres we love to the unwashed masses who flock to mainstream genre books like Harry Potter and The Road. Since Harry Potter in particular appeals to readers of all ages, we ask for suggestions for different age groups.

Head on over to the Reader Challenge post and give us your picks!

Top 10 Science Fiction Movies with the Highest Body Count

Top 10 Science Fiction Movies with the Highest Body Count

  1. Equilibrium (2002) – 236
  2. Dune (1984) – 186
  3. Akira (1988) – 119
  4. Bridge of Dragons (1999) – 109
  5. Starship Troopers (1997) – 95
  6. Ritana (2002) – 91
  7. Fifth Element (1997) – 80
  8. Children of Men (2007) – 77
  9. Total Recall (1990) – 77
  10. Serenity (2005) – 74

[via Website at the End of the Universe]

SF Tidbits for 4/26/07