Archive for May, 2008
- Publishers Weekly profiles Lucius Shepard, author of Softspoken and The Best of Lucius Shepard. [via Scott Edelman, who also lists The 10 Most Promising New SF & Fantasy Writers of 1982]
- The latest Cult-Pop episode features The Consortium of Genius, three mad scientists that are bent on taking over the world.
- Fiona McIntosh (The Quickening Trilogy) guest-blogs at Eos Books and talks about creating fantasy worlds.
- Over at Deep genre, David Louis Edelman dispenses with the writerly advice when he talks about building characters.
- Time magazine profiles Mary GrandPre, Harry Potter’s portrait artist.
- The VanderMeers’ latest art column is up at io9: The Jewels Of Apator: Trondheim and Sfar’s Cute Aliens Who Kill.
- Speaking of
JeddJeff VanderMeer, he has been named Assistant Director of Wofford College’s Shared Worlds Creative Writing Program. Congratulations, Jeff!
- L.E. Modesitt, Jr. looks at the popularity and influence of f/sf writers and wonders which of today’s F&SF writers will outlive Tolkien and Poe.
- Recently-free fiction at ManyBooks.net: “The Man Who Hated Mars” by Gordon Randall Garrett (1956).
- Fred K. writes in to tell us about a new sf eZine: Darwin’s Evolution. That cover art is absolutely beautiful.
- Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan will be co-editing an anthology tentatively titled Conquering Swords which collects new “Sword and Sorcery” stories.
- Ellen Datlow has posted photos from Wiscon.
- The June issue of the IEEE Spectrum has a special report on the Singularity. [via Biology in Science Fiction]
- File 770 has the latest on real-life Organlegging.
- Fun website: Diary of the Dead Zombie Face Changer!
- Four words: Buck Rogers Rocket Ship. [At Paleo-Future]
- You’ve probably seen it already, Sci Fi has announced it’s summer programming. Of interest: Stargate Atlantis starts on July 11th and Eureka (finally) starts on July 29th.
- TrekToday has some info on the different types of starships to appear in the new Trek movie. Apparently there will be one that has never appeared before. We also see that Spock will be travelling back in time in a specially constructed ship. I guess Hiro wasn’t available.
- Score one for the Scotts: Shirley Manson of the band Garbage (um, who?) will be a recurring character on the next season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Manson will play the CEO of a high-tech company. As the saying goes, “If it ain’t Scottish, it’s crap!” True that.
- Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe Online opines that the fun on LOST is found in the questions. Absolutely. This is what I meant when I said LOST fans are incredibly fanatical, rivaled only by Trek fans in their ability to argue and flame over the tiniest minutia.
- Fox (spoilers ahead!) previewed Fringe for a bunch of TV writers on May 29th and Sci Fi Wire has the lowdown on the pilot episode. I’m kind of in to this one as it looks to be a cross between The X-Files and CSI: Whatever.
- Electronic Arts is working on a new Xbox 360 SF/Horror Survival game called Dead Space. Below are two ‘animated’ comic books that tell the story leading up to the events in the game.
This Week’s Free Tor Book: A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham
- Free Book: A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham. (Links to HTML version. Those who sign up at the Tor site also get links to a PDF and MobiPocket version via email.)
- Free Wallpaper: Michael Kaluta‘s cover art for Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott.
- Free Wallpaper: Seth Fisher‘s painting “Robot Tessellation”.
The wallpapers are only available for one week, so don’t wait to snag ‘em.
[via Poe TV]
- io9 lists 10 Books that Prove Science Fiction Just Got Harder, as in “hard sf”. (Cool = I own seven of them. Sad = I’ve read none of them.)
- This week’s Studio 360 podcast features Harlan Ellison. (Link includes an uncut version.) And the Harlan sez: “I have never written science fiction.”
- John Scalzi drops by Joe Mallozzi’s blog to talk about his book The Android Dream.
- Locus online shares excerpts from the latest issue of Locus magazine, including interview snippets with Theodora Goss and Catherynne M. Valente.
- Free Fiction: Karen Burnham pointed me to a great resource for free science fiction: FeedBooks! Recent freebies include:
- Paolo Bacigalupi, Tobias Buckell, Charles Coleman Finlay, Sandra McDonald, Paul Melko and Sarah Prineas will do a joint reading in Columbus, Ohio, on June 7th at 7 P.M. at the Barnes & Noble Bookseller, 1739 Olentangy River Rd. [via Jason Sanford]
- Blue Moon Rising is hosting this year’s Blog Like it’s the End of the World.
- Chris Jensen says: Be Prepared for Today’s Alien Video Hoax!
- Chris Roberson shares the short film The Saga of the Space Cowboy, a post-apocalyptic western. Obviously!
- Big Dumb Object lists 10 SF Facts That Require No Further Explanation. Some of them are brutally honest (“We will never get jetpacks”), and some are fightin’ words (“Star Wars is better than Star Trek”).
- However, to support BDO’s argument, I note here that Leonard Nimoy tops the list of 15 Celebrities Who Sang…But Shouldn’t Have.
Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs is the 2nd Futurama film released straight-to-DVD and is hitting store shelves on June 24, 2008.
Dave N. is looking for the name of a story that eludes him. Here is his description:
I don’t remember the entire plot, but it involved the protagonist going to bed on what I believe was a Monday night & woke up very early in the morning. He found creatures, for lack of a better world, constructing all the things familiar to him, i.e. his house, the neighborhood, the town, etc., suggesting that the whole world was deconstructed during his sleep. He ended up somehow asking what day it was, or stating that today was Tuesday, and was told (I can’t remember if it was from another human or one of the “creatures”) that “Yesterday was Tuesday”. Thanks for your help!!- Dave N.
Can you name this story?
The Shadow Unit project is written by Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Will Shetterly, and Amanda Downum. All 250,000 words of Season One–seven novellas, a novel, and “DVD extra” vignettes, plus artwork and interactive LiveJournals by three of the characters — are free on the web under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
Ellen Datlow, who serves on the Board of Advisors for The Shirley Jackson Awards, writes in to tell us that she is hosting a reading of Shirley Jackson’s work by award-winning and leading authors on July 23rd at the KGB Bar in New York City. Proceeds from the event, which coincides with the 60th anniversary of Shirley Jackson’s classic short story “The Lottery“, will benefit the Shirley Jackson Awards.
From the press release:
Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery.” “The Lottery” was first published on June 28, 1948 in The New Yorker.
Ms. Jackson’s work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work. National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novelist Jonathan Lethem has called Jackson “one of this century’s most luminous and strange American writers,” and multiple generations of authors would agree.
Authors scheduled to appear att he reading include F. Brett Cox’s, Jeffrey Ford, Jack Ketchum, Carrie Laben, John Langan, Sarah Langan, Peter Straub, David Wellington, and Jack Womack.
My first encounter with “The Lottery” was through a television set in a school classroom. I was amazed…
- The Telegraph profiles William Shatner, who talks candidly about the death of his wife, which he discusses at length in his new autobiography Up Till Now.
- Boing Boing TV has Cory Doctorow reading from Little Brother.
- A handwritten, 800-word, card-sized Harry Potter prequel written by J.K. Rowling is being auctioned to benefit English PEN, the writers’ association, and the British charity Dyslexia Action. Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing and novelist Margaret Atwood are also scheduled to provide auction items.
- Free Fiction:
- StarShipSofa offers “Easy as Pie” by Rudy Rucker. Also available: an article by Peter Watts and Poetry by Laurel Winter. [via SFFaudio]
- John Scalzi will be writing new short short fiction for the Subterranean Press newsletter.
- Recently-free fiction at ManyBooks.net:
- Over at Futurismic, Jonathan McCalmont looks at the entanglement of science fiction with Young Adult literature, and wonders whether YA is the latest victim of science fiction’s aggressive expansionist tendencies: “SF has proved itself not only to be a survivor but also a voracious predator and a cunning diplomat, endlessly subsuming or allying itself with smaller and related sub-cultures.”
- Weird Tales has recently started posting 365 Days of Blasphemous Horrors, a year of artwork based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos.
- SpaceWesterns podcast-interviews SFWA President-elect Russell Davis.
- Event: The June 3rd New York Review of Science Fiction Reading features Thomas M. Disch and Karen Russell. [via Tachyon]
- At SciFi Scanner, John Scalzi explains Why the Movie Version of Your Favorite SciFi Book Stinks and Kevin Maher looks at The Truly Alien Nature of Politics Revealed in They Live.
- Can you guess which genre movies made Scene-Stealers’ list of Top 10 Flops Turned Classics? Hint: It’s not Waterworld.
- Jeff VanderMeer is wondering about Unfilmable Novels.
- Laughing Squid shares this grieving Stormtrooper poster: “I had friends on that Death Star…”
- Topless Robot lists The 10 Most Blatant Star Wars Toy Rip-Offs of the ’70s. I think I had one of those Black Hole robots.
- At right is the new teaser poster (and a more appropriate name than teaser I can’t imagine) for the upcoming (2009) movie, Witchblade. Based on the Top Cow comic of the same name, let’s hope it’s better than the TNT series also based on the comic which starred Yancy Butler. All I can say is the character in the poster is no Yancy Butler.
- The Star Trek and Media Science Fiction blog takes the recent news about the Sci Fi Channel broadening it’s programming to ask: Is Sci-Fi just a brand which doesn’t have the same meaning as “science fiction,” or should NBC change Sci-Fi’s name to more accurately represent its broader programming? Clearly, science fiction on Sci Fi is an endangered species, but almost everyone knows the Sci Fi Channel name, even if they don’t watch it. But yes, it’s more of a brand name right now.
- Matthew Fox claims he is the only LOST actor who knows how the series ends. How will we know he’s telling the truth? After it ends he can just say, “Yeah, that’s what I knew was going to happen.” Bastard.
- Bolt City liked the new Speed Racer movie, including the part many critics hated: the story. He’s basically saying that what the Wachowskis did for visual storytelling in The Matrix, they did for ‘flashback’ storytelling in Speed and using anime storytelling techniques to illustrate why many critics, and the public, didn’t ‘get’ the way the movie was told. I haven’t seen it yet, but I would agree that, if it follows the conventions of anime storytelling (and Speed Racer the TV show is anime), then it will be told, and shot, in a manner most people aren’t used to. I still have to go see this, although my oldest has already told me he wants the DVD when it comes out.
- On June 5th, NBC is premiering it’s new Thursday night movie of the week series, Fear Itself. Basically, several horror film directors are taking turns making ‘episodes’ for a movie anthology series. See the trailer below:
- To celebrate the season finale of LOST (remember kids, tonight at 9/8 CT. I fully expect minds to be blown.), the Fine Bros present their LOST parody season finale, starring the man with the hat. I think this is the best one yet…
For better or worse, I have an aversion to reading media tie-in novels. I think it stems from the many mediocre Star Trek books I read as a kid, so when the good folks over at The Black Library sent us a bunch of novels, all based either the Warhammer or Warhammer 40000 miniatures table-top games, I was leery about digging in. However, our own Tim has raved about how good author Dan Abnett’s Horus Heresy novels are and then Chris Roberson named him one of his underrated authors. I looked at our stash and picked out the first book in the Ravenor series, entitled, appropriately enough, Ravenor. I’m glad I did.
Science fiction presents itself to us through different mediums, most notably through the written and visual. Have you ever wondered who owns it? Lou Anders has, and he submitted the following question:
This is like asking who is driving the food presentation industry, MacDonald’s or the French Laundry. They both work in food, to be sure, and they’re both good at what they do. But what they do is different enough that comparing the two in a general sense is silly.
To speak in wildly oversimplifying terms, written science fiction is about speculation; visual science fiction is about spectacle. The distinction was there from the beginning of science fiction as a visual medium: Georges Méliès’ Le voyage dans la Lune was made not because Méliès’ cared about showing men getting to the moon, but because he cared about showing off his state-of-the-art effects skills. Look at the list of the most successful science fiction films over the last three decades and you’ll understand how much spectacle is privileged over speculation. It doesn’t mean visual SF is doing something wrong; it means it’s doing something fundamentally different than written SF.
Written and visual science fiction have different goals, so to say one is driving the other (or that either is driving both) isn’t accurate. It’s more accurate to say that each influences the other in a more or less indirect way. Visual sf influences written sf (to go to another, different metaphor) very much the way movies are currently influencing Broadway: Popular movies are now being turned into hit Broadway musicals; Popular sf movies, TV show and video games are turned into profitable book series. Written sf influences visual sf very much the way avant-garde musicians influence pop music: Glenn Branca influences Thurston Moore, who influences Frank Black, who influences Liz Phair, who influences Avril Lavinge, who sells trillions of albums and mp3s to bunches of 14-year-old girls who would pepper-spray Glenn Branca if he walked up to them in public.
For his part, Branca might be entirely horrified at the idea that he’s in some small way responsible for Lavinge’s smash #1 hit “Girlfriend.” But on the other hand, it is catchy. It has a nice beat, and you can dance to it, as long as you don’t think about it too hard. And as you can connect Branca to “Girlfriend,” so too can you connect, say, Olaf Stapledon to Heroes. But being connected is not the same as driving the field. That’s more like being in the backseat, shaking your head and saying “you should have taken that left. Now we’re going to have to detour through all this crap.”
Suffice to say written and visual sf will drive themselves, independently, and that’s fine. And when they get hungry, one will pull over at MacDonalds, and one at the French Laundry. But which at which? Well, think: which one has more money? Yes, the irony, it burns.
- Free Book: Hal Spacejock by Simon Haynes.
- Science fiction publisher Baen Books is making its entire Webscriptions catalog of e-books free to the astronauts living aboard the International Space Station. [via SF Scope]
- Interviews and Profiles:
- At Fantasybookspot, Jay Tomio interviews Ian Esslemont, author of Return Of The Crimson Guard.
- [via PS Publishing News Room]
- Barnes and Noble have a video interview with artist Stephen Youll. [via The Art Department]
- At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles William H. Drinkard, author of Elom.
- SFX interviews editor Jo Fletcher, who dispenses with some writing advice.
- Author Mike Brotherton interviews Simon Haynes about his latest book Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch.
- John Scalzi turns the Whatever blog mike over to David J. Williams, author of The Mirrored Heavens.
- Jeff Prucher, responds to critics who disliked the inclusion of fannish entries in his book Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction.
- John Picacio is previewing the cover art he did for the September ’08 issue of Asimov’s illustrating the lead story, “The Ice War” by Stephen Baxter, which John describes in his post.
- Darth Mojo tells us about The Best Star Wars Movie You’ve Never Seen, which is a re-cut version of Episode II…one without comments about sand and the droid version of comic relief.
- Screaming Blue Reviews lists 6 Forgotten Science Fiction Films of the 1970s.
- In Pravda, Harry Harrison praises Russia and calls USA fascist state. [via Locus Online]
“Hulk crush Martians. But first, Hulk check his package.”
[via Poe TV]
REVIEW SUMMARY: Another fun action novel from Somers albeit with a less sympathetic character.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Hitman Avery Cates searches for the people who infected him with a nanotech plague that threatens to kill the world’s population.
PROS: Fast-paced story with cool tech; well-written action scenes that drive the plot forward with perfect pacing.
CONS: The Avery Cates character comes off as a watered-down version of the one we saw in the previous book; a tacked-on plot hook would have made a great motivator for Cates had it been brought up earlier.
BOTTOM LINE: This will satisfy readers looking for a fast-paced action story.
- Nancy Kress reviews Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother.
- Geeks of Doom interview Bruce Campbell. Those magnificent bastards.
- The HypaSpace podcast interviews Nalo Hopkinson, Robert J. Sawyer, William Shatner, George Takei, Alessandro Julianni, and Robert Charles Wilson. [via SFFaudio]
- Over at Strange Horizons, Matthew Cheney has The Antidote to Dystopia: “One of the attractions of dystopian stories is that they offer opportunities for rebellion, even if, in the end, the rebels are overcome by the powers that be.”
- From Cinematical: Christopher Tolkien is trying to stop The Hobbit. The issue? Money.
- Ziraxia sells some sf-related T-shirts…like this zombie X-Files one and this happy ray gun.
- Star Trek & Media Science Fiction Blog culls the Rotten Tomatoes list of 20 Sequels We’re Still Waiting For… to form the sub-list of SF Sequels That Never Happened.
- Star Wars tidbit of the day: A trio of Star Wars villain posters. [via Neatorama]
While I wrestle with our blogging software, please entertain yourself with the science behind Superman.
- ComicMix asks: Are Comic Books Hurting Movies?…referring to Jack Donaldson’s Huffington Post article blaming comic book films for ruining special effects. Nice going, Iron Man.
- Recently-free fiction at ManyBooks.net: “Impact” by Irving Cox (1960)
- Paul McAuley shows off the cover for his upcoming book, The Quiet War.
- The Los Angeles Times interviews Jeff VanderMeer.
- io9 interviews Zoe Saldana about Star Trek and Avatar.
- The latest SF Canada updates includes interviews by Celu Amberstone and fiction by Steve Stanton. [via Locus Online]
- Real Science: The Phoenix Mars Lander has landed safely! [via TexasBestGrok]
- Visions of Paradise looks at Science Fiction categories. “All science fiction can be divided into genre versus non-genre.” Discuss.
. “They were languorous, anarchic, shameless in their pleasures … were they lower than man … or higher?”