REVIEW: Spectrum 14 edited by Cathy and Arnie Fenner

REVIEW SUMMARY: An eye candy extravaganza.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A showcase of contemporary sf/fantasy art.


PROS: Every page is stuffed with sense of wonder; a variety of styles to suit any taste; excellent book production.

CONS: Some styles might not appeal to some tastes.

BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended to anyone who has a love for sf/fantasy art.

I confess. I’m a science fiction and fantasy art junkie. Yes, I have bought books based solely on book cover art. Some book covers stoke my fire as much as the books they illustrate; sometimes more so. Therefore, an art book like Spectrum 14, the 2007 edition of the annual showcase of contemporary sf/fantasy art, is like a drug for someone like me. Every single page is brimming with the fantastic and imaginative by a variety of artists producing work in various sectors: advertising, books, comics, concept art, three-dimensional, editorial, and institutional. Even the previously unpublished works show outstanding talent.

Excerpted artwork from Brom, Shaun Tan, Robert Carter, and Glen Orbik.

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SF Tidbits for 3/31/08

  • Fantasybookspot interviews Neal Asher (The Shadow of the Scorpion). “…I come from the Arnold Schwarzenegger school of SF.” [via The Bodhisattva]
  • Free Audio Fiction: Starborn by Andre Norton. Read by Mark Douglas Nelson or a computer…I can’t tell which. [via SFFaudio]
  • The fourth episode of Shadow Unit is Will Shetterly’s “A Handful of Dust“. [via Elizabeth Bear]
  • Recently-free fiction at “Control Group” by Roger Dee (Roger D. Aycock, 1960)
  • SciFiRama is looking for blog feedback.
  • Locus Online has posted the table of contents for the April 2008 issue of Locus Magazine, which includes interviews with Terry Pratchett and Sarah Monette and the obituary of Arthur C. Clarke.

Tube Bits for 03/31/2008

  • The 2004 movie, Casshern, billed as a ‘live-action anime’ movie, was actually based on the 1970’s era anime Shinzo Nigen Casshern. Now, animation studio Madhouse is resurrecting the 70’s show and will create a new modern anime TV show. Having not watched the movie yet, I can’t say for certain if this is a good thing. Although the movie does look incredible.
  • Tired of trying to figure out the heck is going on with LOST? Too many competing theories making your head hurt? Then check out this Timeloop Theory of LOST and marvel at all the thought that has gone into it. Simply amazing, and nicely presented too. Is it close to the truth? I guess we’ll just have to keep watching to find out. But still, a job well done.
  • Chris Carter recently dropped a few minor spoilers about the upcoming X-Files movie: It will be standalone, we will learn more about Fox and Mulder’s baby William (they had a baby?? What? When? Stupid season 9), and it takes place six years after the last season. I know I’m interested, even if I did quit watching around season 7.
  • Tim’s arch-nemesis, Tahmoh Penikett (Helo on Galactica and Boomer’s baby’s daddy), has been cast in Joss Whedon’s new TV project, Dollhouse. Penikett will play FBI agent Paul Smith who becomes romantically linked with Eliza Dushku’s character. Dushku + Grace Park = One lucky guy.
  • Edward James Olmos on a potential ending for Galactica: Everybody dies. Olmos said this is a possibility if the writers stay true to form and he would be O.K. with that. Of course, the fans wouldn’t be… Remember, April 4th at 10pm ET marks the return of Galactica.
  • The Stargate themed MMO, Stargate Worlds continues to release trickles of information. This time it’s in the form of four new screenshots depicting the decidedly Egyptian motif from the movie. This game certainly looks cool.
  • The Vuze platform (based on Bittorrent), now has the Sci Fi series Afterworld available for download.
  • The alternate reality hopping detective story Charlie Jade will be making its way to the Sci Fi Channel. I’ll say this, it certainly looks interesting. Hmm, may have to check this out soon.

WINNERS: 2007 Bram Stoker Awards

The winners of the Bram Stoker Awards (for superior achievement in horror) have been announced:

  • NOVEL: The Missing by Sarah Langan
  • FIRST NOVEL: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  • LONG FICTION: “Afterward, There Will Be a Hallway” by Gary Braunbeck
  • SHORT FICTION: “The Gentle Brush of Wings” by David Niall Wilson
  • ANTHOLOGY: Five Strokes to Midnight edited by Gary Braunbeck & Hank Schwaeble
  • COLLECTION (Tie): Proverbs for Monsters by Michael A. Arnzen and 5 Stories by Peter Straub
  • NON-FICTION: The Cryptopedia: A Dictionary of the Weird, Strange & Downright Bizarre edited by Jonathan Maberry & David F. Kramer
  • POETRY (Tie): Being Full of Light, Insubstantial by Linda Addison and Vectors: A Week in the Death of a Planet by Charlee Jacob & Marge B. Simon

Congratulations to all the winners!

See also:

List of nominees

Past winners

[via Locus Online]

POLL RESULTS: The Best Captain of the Enterprise

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Who is your favorite Captain of the Enterprise?


(148 total votes)

Only one vote for Pike? If he read SF Signal, he’d be beeping in anger like there’s no tomorrow.

A couple of comments this week:

“What about Capt Janeway?” – David
[And the John sez: I’m not a Trek expert, but wasn’t she the Captain of the Voyager?]

“Hmmm, that was a tough decision. I voted for Belushi since I feel Star Trek always needed a little more humor :) Why not add Kevin Pollack to the list since he does an excellent James Kirk imitation.” – Tim
[John sez: Good idea!]

“Hey! What about Decker, Spock, Harriman, Riker, Jellico… (do I know a little too much about Star Trek?). Props to Jellico for being a bad-ass, but there’s something appealing about Harriman’s “Tuesday”.” – Ian Randal Strock
[John sez: OK, you’re obviously a Trek expert. I decided to keep it to the mainstays. Besides, everyone knows that Spock’s stint as captain was the result of affirmative action pressure…]

“I just know I would get ragged on for suggesting that Jonathan Archer is the best Captain of the Enterprise, but the obvious favorite Jean-Luc Picard was just too cerebral for me. Jean-Luc never made any mistakes, even when he did, while Jonathan Archer seems more real. Besides if he can set of enough things right in time, he can finally make the leap home.” – Richard
[John sez: Hiyo!]

“To a point it is like comparing apples and oranges. Different overarching missions and ships call for different skill sets and abilities. Overall, though, there is only one and he drinks Earl Gray, Hot.” – General X
[John sez: I hope by “hot” you mean the tea!]

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about the cancellation of Flash Gordon!

Sunday YouTube: Frank Herbert Talks about Dune

[via World in a Satin Bag]

SF Tidbits for 3/30/08

Ellison to attend N.Y. Premiere of Dreams with Sharp Teeth

The Film Society of Lincoln Center sent us word that Harlan Ellison will be attending the April 8th 7:00 PM premiere screening of Dreams with Sharp Teeth, the documentary that follows the legendary author’s life and career.

From the press release:

Erik Nelson’s engaging portrait of Ellison catches the 70-something author in his full cantankerous glory, offering his thoughts and opinions on a dizzying array of subjects. It also shows us the other, lesser known sides of Ellison–from his political activism in the Civil Rights era to altercations with Barbra Streisand and pelvis shattering battles with network executives. Younger writers discuss Ellison’s influence on their work, and even actor Robin Williams is on hand to offer his tribute to Ellison. Director Erik Nelson and Harlan Ellison are expected to attend this screening.

CG Society Contest for David Brin’s Uplift Series

Well over a year ago, the CG Society held a contest asking artists to produce several different type of digital art surrounding Greg Bear’s Eon novel. The results were quite impressive.

Now, CG Society is in the midst of a new contest, covering David Brin’s Uplift series of books. Artists are asked to ‘depict the

relations between humans and aliens’. This is the largest contest to date, with over $100k worth of prizes. If you have any artistic bone in your body, why not give it a shot?

The Uplift series is one of my all time favorite series, and I especially like the cover art for Startide Rising. I think this is one contest to pay attention to, although it’s still early. The Uplift books have a lot of very unique aliens, it should be cool to see how they are depicted.

SF Tidbits for 3/29/08

Still More Free Hugos Online

Asimov’s has posted more of the Hugo-nominated stories that appeared in their magazine:

The list of Free Hugo-Nominated Short Fiction has been updated.

Cardboard Star Wars and Tron

Are you a budding film director but worried about the high cost props and SFX? Never fear! Cardboard is the wonder material you’ve been looking for! To prove it, check out the two videos below. It’s amazing what a little cardboard, stop-action photography and a lot ingenuity will do for you…

First up, Star Wars (Note to Lucas, more cardboard in the prequels = better movies)

And the best video today, Tron. Nice work guys.

Have You Ever Bought a Buzz Book?

Call me an impulsive, illogical, book-mongering biblioholic consumer – you won’t get any arguments from me. I’ve bought books for completely illogical reasons. Maybe I just liked the cover and thought it would look good on a shelf. Maybe it was the next book in series that I already own but haven’t started reading yet. Maybe it was a copy that was in better condition than the one I already own.

Another reason I’ve bought books is because of buzz. I’m not talking about publisher hype – that’s just blatant advertising. No, here I’m talking about lots of positive things emerging from the blogosphere about a particular title. A “Buzz Book”.

If several bloggers and reviewers mention a book in a positive light, it sticks with me, hibernating, ready to be instantly recalled while I’m walking down the book aisles.

Here are some Buzz Books I’ve picked up. What are yours?

  • Plague Year by Jeff Carlson – This was the book Lou Anders wished he had published but, for some reason I cannot recall and am too lazy to look up, passed up instead. A post-apocalyptic Buzz Book!
  • Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows my experiences with fantasy are hit-or-miss. So the logical part of my brain wonders why I would pick up a copy of Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora. It’s a buzz book, of course, which was apparently enough to overcome my indifference and bring it home.
  • Speaking of brains, just this week I picked up a copy of the zombie novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Who doesn’t like zombies? I’m hoping this fares better than the book Xombies which was so clich√© I couldn’t finish it. Not only does the book have good buzz, but an early peek at its movie script is looking good, too.

Your turn. Have you ever bought a buzz book?

Friday YouTube: Ray Harryhausen’s Rapunzel

[via MilkandCookies]

SF Tidbits for 3/28/08

More Free Hugo Stories

Over at Eos Blog, Diana Gill links to two more recently-posted stories that were nominated for the 2008 Hugo Award:

Both of these stories appeared in the HarperCollins/Eos anthology The New Space Opera edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan, which Eos has also made available for online browsing.

NOTE: Eos also has the Hugo-nominated novel The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon available for online browsing, too!

The list of Free Hugo-Nominated Short Fiction has been updated.

REVIEW: Soon I will be Invincible by Austin Grossman

REVIEW SUMMARY: Comic book fiction mixed with some realistic personalities creates a fun read for superhero fans.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Corefire is missing and Doctor Impossible has escaped again. Was he responsible for Corefire’s disappearance? Well, the New Champions are on the case.


PROS: Interesting narrative style; Fantastic characters.

CONS: Some of the transitions into and out of the flashbacks are a little abrupt; Some characters could use a bit more development.

BOTTOM LINE: A great book with some minor flaws that gives yet another view on superheros.

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Tube Bits For 03/27/2008

  • Mary McDonnell, President Roslin on Battlestar Galactica, clues us in on a minor spoiler for the upcoming season: Her character has a resurgence of cancer, but that she, McDonnell, is excited but sad to be working on the last season, which begins airing Friday, April 9th, at 9pm ET.
  • Colin Ferguson, Sheriff Carter on one of SF Signal’s fave SF TV shows Eureka, talks about the changes for the upcoming season. He mentions that some characters are leaving, while new ones will be joining. We know Henry will be staying, but I’m curious as to who they could loose and not really hurt the show: Beverly? Stark? Any guesses? And from the did you know department: Sci FI has full episodes of Eureka online. Sadly, not all of them. Come on Sci Fi, it’s the 21st Century. There’s no reason not to have them all available.
  • Carol Barbee, exec producer of Jericho, looks at options for continuing the Jericho storyline. These include moving the series to a cable network, a web-based series, comic book or a movie. Of these, I’m guessing that a cable or web-based presence would be about right for the ratings they drew.
  • TV Squad gives us nine reasons Eli Stone keeps getting better. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Stone, and even though it has the typical, clichéd Hollywood view of what is a good lawyer vs. a bad lawyer, I still like the show. Johnny Lee Miller, as Eli, really makes the show despite the plots (evil corporations, greedy law firms, etc.)
  • Jack Trevino, writer and producer, finds some humor on the set of Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. Of Gods and Men is a ‘fan’ production with some big name stars involved with it, such as Nichelle Nichols and Bester, I mean Walter Koening. Maybe we’ll see this up for a Nebula next year…
  • Did you know that Sci Fi’s here but gone almost overnight series, Tripping the Rift has a direct to DVD movie? Neither did I. But the folks at Armchair Critic took one for the team and review the DVD. Verdict: Stick with the series. Which is kinda scary.

SF Tidbits for 3/27/08

MIND MELD: Is Science Fiction Antithetical to Religion?

This week’s question was suggested by Lou Anders, who not only received extra Mind Meld credit redeemable at imaginary nerd shops everywhere, but who also must serve penance by answering his own question:

Q: Two of the most highly regarded fantasy authors – Tolkien and Lewis – were also Christians, whereas the fathers of science fiction were atheists, and SF itself, it could be argued, grew out of Darwinism and other notions of deep time. Is science fiction antithetical to religion?
Mike Resnick
Mike Resnick is the author of 50 novels, 200 short stories, a pair of screenplays, and the editor of 50 anthologies, as well as the executive editor of Jim Baen’s Universe. According to Locus, he is the leading award winner, living or dead, of short fiction. His work has been translated into 22 languages.

You can’t generalize about this large a field. For every atheist or agnostic author you can name, I’ll name a religious one. For example: Gene Wolfe is a devout Catholic. Ray Lafferty was a devout Catholic. Avram Davidson was an Orthodox Jew. Michael A. Burstein is an Orthodox Jew. Etc, etc, etc.

In 1984 I wrote a very controversial novel titled The Branch, in which God and the true Jewish Messiah (not Jesus) were the two villains of the piece. The poor producer/director who optioned and made it got excommunicated from his church and thrown out of his country (Andorra)…and yet if you do not accept the existence of God and the truth of the Old Testament, there’s no story. So was it irreligious, or was it simply Politically Incorrect religion?

I am an atheist, yet I have given God speaking parts in four or five humorous stories, and have treated religion with respect in literally dozens of stories and novels. On the other hand, I know many devout Christian and Jewish science fiction writers whose religious beliefs are deeply personal, and who choose not to share them fictionally with their audience. Are they irreligious because they do not evangelize in print?

You can’t just a book by its cover…and you can’t necessarily judge an author’s (or a field’s) religious beliefs by that book’s contents.

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