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SF Tidbits for 5/31/08

Tube Bits for 05/31/2008

This Week’s Free Tor eBook: A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

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.

Friday YouTube: Ewoks Vs. Predator

[via Poe TV]

SF Tidbits for 5/30/08

TRAILER: Futurama – The Beast with a Billion Backs

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.

[via Roberson’s Interminable Ramble]

Can You Name This Story? (Part 5)

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?

Shadow Unit Season 1 Ends with Serialized Novel

Emma Bull and Elizabeth Bear are ending the first season of Shadow Unit with a serialized novel called Refining Fire, being made available online piecemeal now through Saturday.

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.

Authors Gather to Celebrate 60th Anniversary of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”

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…

SF Tidbits for 5/29/08

Tube Bits for 05/29/2008

  • 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…

REVIEW: Ravenor by Dan Abnett


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.

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MIND MELD: Which Medium is Driving Science Fiction…Books or Film/TV?

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:

Q: Although science fiction was born on paper, sci-fi presented through visual media (film and television) has significantly higher audiences. Which medium, then, is the driving force behind what science fiction is and where it’s headed, and who is driving it?
John Scalzi
John Scalzi is damn precious. Hell, yeah, he’s the motherf***ing princess.

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.

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SF Tidbits for 5/28/08

Tuesday YouTube: Hulk vs. Martians

“Hulk crush Martians. But first, Hulk check his package.”

[via Poe TV]

REVIEW: The Digital Plague by Jeff Somers

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.

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SF Tidbits for 5/27/08

The Science Behind Superman

While I wrestle with our blogging software, please entertain yourself with the science behind Superman.

[via Biology in Science Fiction]

SF Tidbits for 5/26/08