Saturday YouTube: 100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

Count the number of sci-fi films in this cool countdown video, 100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers.

[via Filmoculous]

SF Tidbits for 6/30/07

Additions to List of SF/F Authors Who Blog

A new batch of additions have been added to the list of sf/f authors who blog (probably due to being mentioned on BoingBoing – thanks, Bonnie and Cory!):

If you have any additions to list, please email john at sfsignal dot com but please…as you can imagine with the proliferation of the Internets, this list is growing faster than a Robert Jordan novel. We will only be adding authors published my major publishers. Sorry, but the list is hard enough to maintain without considering all the unpublished and self-published authors, too.

TV Guide: The Top 30 Cult TV Shows Ever


Today, TV Guide decided to update their Top 30 Cult TV Shows list. Last updated in 2004, the list now sports some new, shiny TV shows, like Jericho and LOST. Its an interesting list, both from what shows are on it and what isn’t and also from a ‘cult’ status. Let’s see some of the selections:

  • H.R. Pufnstuf clocks in at #27. Cult? I’d hate to be a member of that cult. H.R. Pufnstuf is scarier than Scientology, although it makes more sense.
  • Firefly is at #25. Absolutely this is a cult TV show, and it is certainly better than many of the shows above it. I’m looking at you, Quantum Leap. This is one show the definitely should be higher.
  • Babylon 5 is at #16. Another one I’d say has a definite cult following, albeit a more muted cult than, say, the Browncoats. I’d also say that I’d put it a bit higher on the list, maybe even in the top 10.
  • Battlestar Galactica is at #14. Alright, so, is the new BG a cult favorite? It gets a ton of press and blog attention. I guess being on cable, and with fairly low ratings (overall, not in terms of cable shows), qualifies as being a cult. But I don’t see the ‘cultishness’ playing out on the web. And I’m not ready to put it higher than B5. Yet.
  • Jericho debuts at #11. Oh please. Just because the show gets a limited revival because the network received tons of nuts in the mail doesn’t make this a cult show. Not yet. Star Trek wasn’t a cult show because it was canceled, then revived. It became a cult show because of its long term impact on fans. Jericho isn’t there yet, and I don’t think it ever will. It’s just not up to par with some of the other cult shows quality-wise, and placing it at #11 is ludicrous. It should be close to #30.
  • LOST is found at #5. Love it or hate it, LOST has definitely had impact on fans. Not only is it a popular show, it also has rabid fans infesting the ‘Net. Which leads to the question: If a show is really popular, can you call it a ‘cult’ show?
  • And last, Star Trek, the original, is, of course, at #1. How could the show that defined ‘cult TV’ not be at number 1? The question here is: Can you consider any of the follow on series to be a ‘cult’ TV show?

What jumps out at me here is that while Jericho gets some love, Heroes doesn’t? What. The. Hell? But then again, it all comes down to the definition of ‘cult’ in a TV sense. Is Jericho more cultish than Heroes? My gut feeling here is no. Certainly, Heroes is more popular, but does more popular mean not cult anymore? If so, then why is LOST on the list? The TV Guide article mentions these questions, but then proceeds to not answer them.

It’s still an interesting list. What do you guys think?

Friday Google Video: The Evil Brain From Outer Space

“There’s a Starman waiting in the sky. He’d like to come and meet us but he thinks he’d blow our minds.” – David Bowie

80 minutes of classic sci-fi B-movie goodness, featuring Starman! I gotta get me one of them wrist watches that’s a Geiger Counter, permits space travel, and acts as a universal translator…

Join us now for The Evil Brain From Outer Space!

[via Quasar Dragon]

Is Firefly Good Sci-Fi?

Onelowerlight, a “thoughtful Mormon blogger”, explains why Firefly is not good science fiction. The bottom line: the scientific flaws and the preachiness. Oh, and the sex.

So, in short, the things that (IMO) made Firefly bad sci fi were: too much sex, not balancing sex with other aspects of human relationships, failure to address the classic problems of the genre (such as FTL travel and terraforming), too much preachiness (for gay rights and for a “naturalistic” worldview, ie atheism), and clumsy treatment of the role of religion in human interactions and the big unanswerable questions. There were a lot of other things I didn’t like about Firefly in general, but these here were the big things that mad it a poor piece of sci fi.

I might also direct your attention to some of the essays in Finding Serenity.

For now: discuss.

SF Tidbits for 6/28/07

Wednesday Video: The Machine Stops

E.M. Forster’s 1909 story “The Machine Stops” (which I first read in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 2) is widely regarding as on the classics of sf. An adaptation of the story was shown on UK television in 1966 as part of the sci-fi anthology TV series Out of the Unknown. Here is that episode:

See also: Wikipedia entries on E.M. Forster and “The Machine Stops“.

[via Drivers and Sundry]

SF Tidbits for 6/27/07

REVIEW: Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett


(See The Great Pratchett Reading Project page here.)

The adventures of Granny Weatherwax and company continue in Witches Abroad, this time parodying all things fairy tale. It’s been a long time since I had read this book, so I didn’t remember the story very well at all. After Wyrd Sisters, I was hoping that this book could equal the previous. Unfortunately it doesn’t. This is typical of the Witches books that I remember: a bit long, somewhat humorous, and less then endearing main characters.

Continue reading

Blade Runner 25th Anniversary

This week marks the 25th anniversary of Blade Runner‘s release in theaters. Although it did not do well in its theater run – it was up against Spielberg blockbuster E.T. – it has since gone on to become one of the most popular sci-fi movies of all time.

There’s a 25th Anniversary DVD called Blade Runner: Final Cut being released in September. This is, I think, the 5th DVD version. This Final Cut will also be (re)released in theaters. For now, you can watch the trailer.

Although my own impression of the movie was not great (especially when compared to excellent source novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) others are talking about it, like SlashDot and BrainWagon. Also: Popular Mechanics offers Blade Runner at 25: Why the Sci-Fi F/X Are Still Unsurpassed written by MythBuster Adam Savage.

REVIEW: The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks

REVIEW SUMMARY: A true page-turner…really!


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A modern day, sword wielding warrior named Maya is tasked with protecting a Traveler (who is not aware that he may have the ability to travel to other dimensions of reality) from the nefarious Brethren who use high-tech surveillance methods.


PROS: Engrossing; thought-provoking; well-written; excellent pacing; rich setting.

CONS: Minor characters are given back histories that are probably longer than they needed to be.

BOTTOM LINE: A fast, engrossing read that forces you to consider the societal impact of surveillance technology.

Continue reading

SF Tidbits for 6/26/07

Ultimate Lego Star Wars

Not satisfied with the $299 Imperial Star Destroyer or the $299 Death Star II, the folks at Lego have outdone themselves with the upcoming release of a $499 Millennium Falcon.  This official product should not be confused with cheap imitations!

Now before you go thinking that nobody would buy this thing, think again.  A superfan of Star Wars and Lego knows no limits when it comes to money!

Monday YouTube: Babylon 5: The Lost Tales Trailer

Warner Brothers has released a trailer for the new B5 direct to video movie. They have had other videos up covering the production of the movie, but now we have footage from the upcoming film. It is scheduled for release at the end of July and it is looking pretty good.

Do You Trust Online Book Reviews?

There’s an interesting (but obviously not unbiased) post from The Guardian Book Blog called The Literary Universe is Bigger in the Blogosphere that discusses online reviewing.

“But why should we believe the blogger?” comes the cry. “Who are they and how are they qualified to tell us what to read?” The answer is: you should believe them and trust them in exactly the same way you would a critic in a newspaper or literary journal. There will be some you admire and some you think are stupid. Some bloggers write well and some badly and so do some literary critics.

Amen. (And yes, I am also biased. :))

Also: Does it matter if the reviewer gets free review copies from the publisher? (We do.) Or advertising dollars? This information can surely help you decide whether to trust reviews, but ultimately I think you either trust a reviewer’s integrity or you don’t.

Do you trust online book reviews?

REPORT: ApolloCon 2007, Day 3

The final day at ApolloCon. Today was a shorter day than day one or day two. I was a bit worn out today, so my participation level wasn’t up to previous days. On the bright side, I met up with local author Larry Ketchersid and got to say hi.

My first session was Size Matters! Knowing or Choosing the Correct Length to Tell Your Tale with panelists Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, Alexis Glynn Latner, Julia Mandala, Chris Roberson and Shanna Swendson. Although mostly meant for the writer attendees, I couldn’t help but be amazed at all the reasons why books and stories are as long as they are. I used to think it was as simple as a writer getting an idea for a story and telling that story. Nope. There are so many other factors at work: contractual obligations (publishers require a certain length so that the book can be profitable), distribution (shelf-space and packaging), writers eager to talk about the universe they created even though it’s not pertinent to the story and – probably the biggest impact of all – economic forces. For example, a writer has a better chance of getting a shorter story in a space-limited anthology than a longer one. Another example: A publisher’s offer of a $30,000 advance to write a sequel that the writer would not otherwise write is powerful persuasion. An illuminating session.

Next up was What is this Hollywood Fascination with Philip K. Dick?

Continue reading

SF Tidbits for 6/25/07


Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Scoring 1 point for each occurrence of the following, how much of a superfan are you?

  • Put up sci-fi poster in room/office
  • Wrote fan-fiction
  • Wore sci-fi character costume
  • Got sci-fi-related vanity license plate
  • Have sci-fi tattoo
  • Bought soundtrack to sci-fi movie
  • Attended sci-fi convention
  • Own unopened sci-fi collectible
  • Other


(102 total votes)

Comments this week:

“Oops. I voted 5-10 before I realized it was one point for each occurrence. So, you might want to factor that into the tally. Sorry. Dammit! For a second I thought I wasn’t a loser (no offense to the fellow losers in the crowd).” A_Z

“I get over 200 points on conventions alone, plus a few costumes, many posters and prints and unopened collectibles.” – Jeff Patterson

“Owning a website called probably qualifies for major geek points.” – SciFiChick

“I gave myself an extra point for starting an sf-related website, but I’m still only a wannabe. Shouldn’t getting an sf tattoo be worth at *least* 2 points? It’s way more permanent than the other stuff.” – K. Burnham

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about online book reviews!

REVIEW: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher


Dead Beat is the seventh book in the Harry Dresden series and, in my opinion, it’s the best one so far. In this book, Dresden is blackmailed by the vampire queen Mavra into bringing her the necromantic tome The Word Of Kemmler in exchange for not ruing the lives of himself and his friend Murphy. Harry’s quest will put him smack dab in the middle of the Red Court/White Council war and in competition with three other factions also looking for the book. What ensues is a fast paced race to discover the book. With zombies. How good is this book? I read it in two days. Two. Days. At 448 pages and given the amount of time I have to actually read, this is a testament to Butcher’s easy to read writing style and his ability to weave a rip-roaring, action packed story.

Continue reading