Happy Birthday to Us, Part the Fourth
This month marks SF Signal’s 4th birthday. Go us! As in previous birthday posts, I will summarize here the highlights and low points (mostly the highlights – our egos are only so strong) of our cozy little blog thingie. When you’ve been in the blogging business as long as we have – as much as an advertising-free blog can be called a “business” – you pick up a little bit of the lingo and “cozy little blog thingie” is the official textbook definition. You can look that up for yourself.
There were lots of memorable posts this past year. Mostly on other blogs. (Ba-dum, crash!) On this blog we rambled a lot, mostly about books. Our favorite bookish posts are the ones where we solicit the opinions of our readership. That’s you. There were a series of Reader Challenges that we threw your way…challenges which you met head-on with courage, stamina and a big-@$$ helping of venom. Just the way we like it. In these posts, we asked you about sf books you haven’t read, the coolest sf threats, the coolest science fiction setting (for books and tv/film), and the next science fiction Grand Masters. An additional challenge – culminating this month with the release of the final book in the series – is embodied by The Harry Potter Outreach Program. Who knew reading a blog would be so much work for you, eh?
Speaking of reading projects, we also launched The Great Pratchett Reading Project which thankfully got me off my duff and started down the road to Discworld. Despite my not-so-good start, I did warm to it. It’s still going strong, mostly with JP at the helm. I’ve had a good reading year, but Pratchett was just one of the authors I’ve largely neglected. You, dear readers, divulged your own neglected authors and also ‘fessed up to books you are dying to read. Reading habits were further explored when we asked about the most underrated space opera novel, the most money ever paid for a single sf/f book, your favorite “literary” science fiction novels and your favorite literary science fiction characters. While you guys and gals were busy talking about your likes and dislikes (it’s always you, you, you, isn’t it) I was hard at work developing The 33% Rule of Reading. Several patents are pending.
Just as important about how we read was talking about what we read. The subject of book elitism came up. Again. But we are nothing if we do not repeat ourselves. But we are nothing if we do not repeat ourselves. We also asked (just once) whether you read young adult fiction, whether an award win influences your reading choices, and discussed the possibility of a non-English Hugo. Speaking of awards, I continued my annual tradition reading of the Hugo and Nebula nominees and loved the experience, thank you very much. Meanwhile, our readership proved its control-freakishness (a trait we love as much as lung butter) by offering advice on what JP should read. You are the Puppet Masters!
We also continued pumping out the book reviews like the reading automatons we are. Actually, JP and Scott are the reading machines. Tim is our resident anti-snob and I just work here. By far the most popular review this year was for James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips. Unfortunately for our egos it was written by guest reviewer – and longtime reader/fanboy/spellchecker – Fred K. Congratulations Fred! The good news is a trophy is on its way! The bad news is that it’s being sent to L. Ron Hubbard’s secret island and addressed to a group of time-traveling spinsters. Besides reviews, there was some discussion on book reviewing in general with our posts about book reviewer backlash, the Hariet Klausner backlash (yes, we like the word backlash almost as much as we like supermodels) and trusting online book reviews. And just to show how we like to think we have our collective fingers on the pulse of the publishing industry, we wondered how bookstores survive and asked for ways to save the independent bookstore.
Just to put up appearances that we are not confined to libraries and bookstores and – God forbid – our mothers’ basements, we gabbed a lot about movies. Despite the popularity of the Star Wars screen test and the Name the Next Sith Lord posts, it wasn’t just a Lucas lovefest this year. We also talked about unfilmable science fiction novels and the scariest movie ever; we even gave our support John C. Wright’s Space Princess movement. And to prove that lists are alive and well in this sort attention span generation (for which we are doing more than our part to contribute) we talked about The 10 Most Quotable Geek Films…Ever! and Wired‘s Top 20 Sci-Fi Flicks until we were blue in the face. See? It wasn’t all fun and games. Unless you count the Name These Science Fiction Films posts. Then it was.
TV sci-fi was also a prominent part of our blogging this year. We completed our hate/love/hate fanboy bell curve with Battlestar Galactica by talking about the BSG backlash (there’s that word again) and asking whether anyone cares that next season is BSG‘s last. While there were a few new (to us) shows that were peripherally picked up on our sci-fi radar (Doctor Who, Dead Like Me, Wonder Woman and the upcoming adaptation of A Song Of Ice And Fire) the big blip on said radar had to be Heroes. I settled into my own hate-it bell curve when I listed 5 (spoilery) things about Heroes that annoy the begeezus out of me. I did warm up to it a bit when I later posted my spoilery thoughts on Heroes, so please don’t send me letters. Send me pie. I like pie. There was also some attention given to the Heroes spinoff and the Heroes season 1 finale. Yep, this past year Heroes was the new BSG here at SF Signal.
But it wasn’t just time-traveling swordsmen and cheerleaders for us, no matter how much we all wanted one or the other. (Mostly the other, if you know what I mean.) JP was fond of LOST and offered advice on how to fix it even while lamenting the end of it. The poor confused bastard. We also still hold Firefly near and dear to the cold empty space where our hearts should be, as evidenced by our popular post asking whether Firefly is Good Sci-Fi. Besides the shows themselves, we also covered TV sci-fi in general with our musings on the current TV sci-fi scene and posts about your favorite science fiction characters from TV and film. We also had the ever-popular 7 coolest scenes in science fiction film and television post. (Whadyya mean Raiders of the Lost Ark ain’t sci-fi? It’s sci-fi if we say it’s sci-fi. Get your own blog!) And for some reason, people had lots to say about TV Guide’s top 30 cult TV shows. We’re glad we could be a forum for the TV Guide (wait for it) backlash.
Taking a step outward from the bullseye that is science fiction, we talked about the field in general; beyond TV if you can believe there is such a thing. We asked: Does Science Fiction, in Fact, Suck? Scott, meanwhile, put science fiction in its place. The genre definition question reared its un-definable head when we vaguely asked asked: Is It Science Fiction? Always a favorite with fanboys. That’s you, too.
We renewed our interest in interviews this year by talking with Lou Anders, Alan Beatts, Greg Bear, Stuart Clark, Gail Martin, Andrew Wheeler and the bloggers behind the now-defunct Meme Therapy. (I’m not saying it’s related but they hardly ever talked about supermodels.) So as not to let the living have all the fun, we also dug up Zombie John C. Wright and Zombie John Scalzi and talked with them, too. Oddly enough, Zombie John C. Wright interviewed better than Live John C. Wright. Oh, I kid! (Or do I?)
This year we used our creative juices – and by “we” I mean “Tim” and by “used our creative juices” I mean “dabbled in podcasting“. Unfortunately for those curious to hear my voice, I was not present. That’s actually good news for you because I sound like Gilbert Gottfried’s and Magilla Gorilla’s love child. (I think Magilla got screwed on that deal, as it were.) But don’t feel sad for me. My ego was inhumanly and inexplicably boosted when we were named SciFi Weekly’s Site of the Week. My self image also took a corresponding nose dive as soon as I inadvertently killed Darth Vader, so it all comes out even. In other meta-news, I attended my first convention; I am well on my way to becoming a superfan. But someone please stop me if I ever dress up like a superhero and prance around in front of the disembodied head of Stan Lee.
So another year comes to a close. We’d like to thank our growing readership for hanging around and leaving comments, both insightful and snarky, but most of all honest. The best part about blogging (besides the chicks, the free books, the lifetime supply of spam and making fun of George Lucas on the InterTubes) is hearing from our readers. Through something other than cease-and-desist letters, that is. We’d like to pay you back for all the loyalty you’ve shown by doing something special in return. But instead we’re currently discussing ways to add advertising out the Wazoo to the point where SF Signal becomes as unreadable as a George Lucas script. (See how I worked that in there? Clever, yes?) Stick around…we can only go upwards from here.
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