[Sunday Cinema] Journeyman: ‘Game Three’

In this week’s installment, Dan travels back in time to Oct. 17th, 1989. If this date sounds familiar, it’s because that is the day the Loma Prieta earthquake occurred, causing major destruction in and around San Francisco and Oakland, and halting the World Series for a few days. The earthquake plays a semi-major role here, and not in the way you might think. Good stuff.

SF Tidbits for 8/31/08

[Trailer] Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II

[via Murphy’s Pondering Tree]

VIDEO: An Examination of A Clockwork Orange

I saw A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick’s vision of the Anthony Burgess book, many years ago…but there are still scenes that refuse to leave my head. Get out of my head!

Here’s an examination of the film…

[via MilkandCookies]

SF Tidbits for 8/30/08

Friday YouTube: Weird Science Trailer

I’m amazed at how this movie’s rigorous treatment of science still holds up today.

(Translation: Schwing!)

Related bonus video after the jump…

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IDW Announces New Science Fiction Line

IDW Publishing has announced a new science fiction line called: New Classics of the Fantastic. The series aims to reprint classics award-winning science fiction that has fallen out of print.

First up in the series is Robert Silverberg’s outstanding book, Nightwings. (See SF Signal review.)

From the press release:

Series editor Clifford Meth says, “New Classics of the Fantastic will be an essential science fiction library. It will bring back Hugo and Nebula Award winning books that have fallen out of print. Sadly, most award-winning genre titles don’t last long on the shelves–that’s a function of space, not quality. So IDW has assembled a list of extraordinary books–titles that represent the very best selections of the very best authors in science fiction. Robert Silverberg’s Nightwings is a genuine must-read for science-fiction fans.”

We’ve talked before about how classics sadly fall out of print, so this is cool news. Now readers who are sadly under-read in the classics [looks at self] can catch up — assuming they don’t already own the books in multiple versions that are stored away in boxes for the coming apocalypse [looks at self again].

SF Tidbits for 8/29/08

Tube Bits for 08/29/2008

  • On September 7th, one of the most anticipated PC games in years will be released, Will Wright’s Spore. You get to design your own creature, then guide their evolution from primitives to star system spanning high-tech culture. On September 9th, the National Geographic Channel will air a documentary about the game entitled: How To Build A Better Being. The show, which is also included in the limited run of the collectible Spore Galactic Edition, joins Wright and leading scientists in exploring the genetic information we share with all animals — even creatures we could never have envisioned. How To Build A Better Being follows Will Wright as he meets with geneticists, paleontologists, and other scientists as they strive to design the “ultimate animal” by using extensive knowledge of animal diversity. This one is on my ‘must buy’ list, I hope it turns out as cool as it looks.
  • Buzzine ponders the differences between Mad Men and Battlestar Galactica and how those differences mean Emmy nods for MM and not BG. Hmm, possibly. Maybe it’s because Galactica is SF?
  • Pigs in spaaaaaace! may soon be returning to the airwaves, via a motion picture. It seems there is a new Muppet movie in the works and, if it’s successful, that may pave the way for a new Muppet Show. Anything with more Gonzo and Animal is okay with me!
  • BuddyTV lets us know about the new guest stars for this season’s Eli Stone. Despite a tendency toward pushy, agenda driven episodes, I like Eli Stone, probably because Johnny Lee Miller is a very sympathetic lead.
  • Fans of Pushing Daisies, and who doesn’t like a show where the main restaurant is called The Pie Hole?, should really like this. The show is going on the road, dispensing pie (mmm, pie) and new footage from the show. For tour dates, see PopCrunch.. And if I may: Frakkin’ Dallas. Just because J.R. was shot there, doesn’t mean they like pie.
  • Did you know that HBO was working on an adaptation of the comic Preacher? Well, now it doesn’t matter if you didn’t, because they have canned the idea, saying it’s “too dark and too violent and too controversial.” For HBO? Really?
  • Stargate Atlantis is a hit! Well, with the pirates (Arrrr!) anyway.
  • SF Universe has the new Life on Mars ad from ABC. Mmmmm, 70’s kitsch. I really hope they don’t camp it up.
  • A LEGO Batman short? You bet! And yes, there is a LEGO Batman game for every system known to man. If it’s even close to LEGO Star Wars it should be a lot of fun.
  • Sci Fi Wire has an exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ look at Fringe. SF Universe has an interesting video of some of the ‘fringe’ science in the show.

MIND MELD: The Future of Star Wars

With the release of the new Clone Wars movie, we here at SF Signal have looked at the box office results and pondered where the Star Wars franchise goes from here. For this week’s Mind Meld, we turned the future of Star Wars over to our panel of respondents.

Q: Is it time for Star Wars to go on hiatus for a long while, or is there hope the new, live-action TV series will breathe new life into the series?
Keith R.A. DeCandido
Keith has published over thirty novels, most of them in the realm of media tie-ins. The majority of his work has appeared in the worlds of Star Trek. Keith has written novels, novellas, comic books, short stories, and eBooks, and also edited several anthologies that cover all five TV shows as well as several prose-only series — one of which, the Corps of Engineers eBook series, he co-developed. Several of his Trek novels have hit the USA Today best-seller list, and received critical acclaim from all over the map, both online and in print, and Keith also continues to edit the monthly Star Trek eBook line.

Star Wars‘ place in popular culture is doing just fine, thanks. It’s still one of the most popular franchises on the planet, and that’s not likely to change any time soon, and the 1977 release of Star Wars will always be a benchmark in American film history regardless.

This same question came up repeatedly around the turn of the century regarding Star Trek. The notion that people were tired of Trek when there was only one show on the air and the occasional movie is silly when, from 1987-1999, there were one or two shows on the air and a movie every 2-3 years — and the franchise was at its most popular and nobody was sick of it. What hurt Star Trek wasn’t too much Star Trek, but too much Star Trek that wasn’t appealing to people.

Star Wars is hitting the same problem. It’s not that people are tired of Star Wars, it’s that they’re tired of Star Wars that ain’t so hot. The problem The Clone Wars is having is that it’s not something that the world at large is dying to know about. Whatever the flaws of the prequel trilogy — and they were legion — they were also chronicling the background of Darth Vader, one of the greatest menaces of 20th-century fiction. There’s no similar hook in The Clone Wars — not aided by the fact that this conflict has already been covered in novel, comic book, and animated form previously (Genndy Tartovsky’s collection of five-minute shorts was a magnificent piece of work) — and people are also fatigued from the giant black hole of dreadful that was the prequel trilogy.

People are more than happy to keep coming back if they enjoy what they see. The Stargate franchise is an excellent example of that. Stargate SG1 lasted ten years, and now is being continued in very successful direct-to-DVD movies, Stargate Atlantis is now in its fifth season, and a third TV show is in development. Nobody’s talking about franchise fatigue for Stargate, because they’re still producing material that people want to see.

If the new live-action Star Wars series is good and appealing to a large audience, then it will breathe new life. If it continues the downward trend of the live-action films that really goes back to the moment the Ewoks first showed up in Return of the Jedi, then they’ve got problems.

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Can You Name This Story? (Part 10)

Another reader writes in with a story description looking for a title. Do any of our readers out there know the title of this story?

I am looking for an old SF spy book, which is likely out of publication. I can’t remember the title, though.

The story, however, is about a “sleeper agent” sent to infiltrate organizations on other planets. He is put through a kind of brainwashing and his body is heavily modified, so he will fit the role of whoever he is . . . impostering. His own consciousness kind of takes a back seat while he carries out the programmed mission. When a life threatening situation occurs, his mental conditioning is allowed to go “offline”, causing his own consciousness to resurface.

I think the story goes through something like 3 missions, each on different planets. Between each mission, we get a look into the main character’s true thoughts. There is an invented religious faith in the story, something like “catholic zen buddhist”, and the main character is a member of this faith. I think they are pacifists, which raises some internal conflict with the character and his chosen career. The first mission, he replaces an overweight research scientist. The third mission, I believe he replaces some well trained guy on a planet where fencing is common. In that mission, the long-haired love interest is captured and tortured. I seem to remember the hero was captured as well, causing his own consciousness to resurface “too early”. This compromised his ability to copy the behavior of the person he replaced.

Anyway, I think the story ends with him being disposed of by the organization he works for, as they see his thoughts between missions becoming too conflicting. I recall one amusing line in the story, where the hero is getting seriously pounded, and he recalls that the tooth he just lost was his last actual tooth.

Recently reading about the upcoming Eliza Dushku series, Dollhouse, reminded me of the story.


Can you name this story?

SF Tidbits for 8/28/08

The Monster Self-Defense Test

Speaking of The Blob, Kevin Maher weighs in with another great installment of The Sci Fi Department…this one testing your knowledge of SciFi movie monsters.

The Top 10 Most Sought-After Out-of-Print SF/F Books (Oh Really?)

The BookFinder has posted The Top 10 Most Sought-After Out-of-Print Books. Check out these titles from the sf/f list:

  1. Rage by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)
  2. Halloween by Curtis Richards
  3. Turnabout by Andy Mangels
  4. Second Sight by David Williams
  5. Masques by Patricia Briggs
  6. Dark Carnival by Ray Bradbury
  7. She Is the Darkness by Glen Cook
  8. Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini
  9. Nightworld by F. Paul Wilson
  10. The Return by E.C. Tubb

These are the most sought after? Strange…many of these I’ve never even heard of.

Halloween is a novelization of the movie and features “elaborates on aspects not featured in the film”. Does that make it sought after? She Is the Darkness is the 2nd 7th novel of Cook’s Black Company series. Wouldn’t the first six books be more valuable? Turnabout is a Roswell media tie-in. Am I missing something? Clueless, I am…

Tube Bits for 08/27/2008


  • Hero come lately, Kristin Bell, will be lending her ‘dulcet’ tones to the new animated feature by Warner Bros., Astro Boy. Check out that link to see that star-studded cast for this remake of the Japanese original. I mean, Eugene Levy, come on!
  • Ed Quinn, who plays Nathan Stark on Eureka, shares his thoughts about season 3, hinting at some big revel midway through. Like John, I’m really liking this season, even with all the technobabble. Is it wrong that I didn’t remember Ed’s name as the actor behind Stark?
  • If you ever needed proof that animation need not be just for kids, look no further than this Fall 2008 Preview of Japanese anime. That’s a lot of shows, including a spin-off of the venerable Speed Racer. And all coming soon to a torrent network near you.
  • Buddy TV has an exclusive audio interview with Garret Dillahut and Leven Rambin from The Sarah Connor Chronicles. A typo that occurred while typing prompts this question: Is it just me or would the name Teh Sarah Connor Chronicles be cool? Probably just me.
  • (Possible Galactica spoilers ahead) Edward Olmos reinforces, yet again, the brutal nature of Galactica‘s ending, cautioning fans to have the tissues handy. You have at least 5 months to stock up till episodes return.
  • Sci Fi Wire has posted an interview with Fringe writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. One of the inspirations? Real Genius. Awesome!
  • Pajiba.com gives the 20 best (TV) seasons of the last 20 years. There are several genre show here and yes, they’re what you’d expect (Whedon).
  • In case you missed out on our recent giveaway, you may have a second chance. SF Scope still has a few more copies of the Masters of Science Fiction DVDs to give away.
  • Tragic Elegance asks: What are the science fiction staples that I need to read/watch? Go forth, our minions, and fill that page with suggestions!
  • If you’re a big Mythbusters fan, like my kids, don’t forget that tonight Adam and Jamie take on the Moon Landing Hoaxers. Much fun will be had by all. No word on whether Buzz Aldrin will be on hand to punch lucky hoaxers…
  • BBC Three’s new series, The Wrong Door has an interesting Monty Python meets Robot Chicken vibe going on. There are plenty of videos on YouTube. Here’s one:

SF Tidbits for 8/27/08

REVIEW: Mini-Masterpieces of Science Fiction edited by Allan Kaster

REVIEW SUMMARY: A short fiction reader experiences his first audio anthology.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: 9 audio versions of short stories.


PROS: All the stories are good; 4 of them are superb.

CONS: Narration sometimes took me out of the story.

BOTTOM LINE: An enjoyable experience…and the audio format meant squeezing in some fiction when I was otherwise unable to.

Mini-Masterpieces of SF, edited by Allan Kaster, is an audio collection of short science fiction that occupies 228 minutes on 3 audio CDs. This was my first experience with audiobooks, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but overall I was very pleased.

First, a word about the content which is, after all, what it’s all about. The stories chosen were quite good. I had already read many of them before (and liked them). If these stories were in another written anthology or collection, I would have skipped them entirely, but seeing as how I was looking for the audiobook experience, I gave these stories another go. There’s not one bad story to be found here, though some fared better than others. Out of nine stories, four of them were outstanding. That’s a pretty high hit rate, almost as if the editor’s tastes are keenly in tune with my own; a rarity in any kind of publishing.

About the readings themselves: Both narrators (Vanessa Hart and Tom Dheere) did wonderful jobs overall reading the stories. All deliveries were clear and easy to understand. However, there were some inconsistencies. Each reading seemed to alternate between a normal reading of the material and a dramatization of it. In some stories, a natural reading voice was used for dialogue, and sometimes accents and inflections were used. Speed of delivery within single stories seemed to vary as well. Understandably, there is a limited amount of time that can be devoted to each story, but the pacing could have been more even. Occurring less often, some elements of the readings were somewhat over-dramatized with long pauses that somehow felt too dramatic. But again, I’m new to the form, and overall this was an enjoyable experience.

About the format itself: As life seems to get more and more busy, it was nice to be able to listed to some fiction on the way to/from work. The stories happened to fit nicely between one round trip, allowing for a new story each day. Although I didn’t really have the need to, there is also a certain convenience in having the ability to move them to an MP3 player and take with you. I’m not saying I’m a convert, by any means, but I did like the experience of listening of listening to short science fiction.

Individual story reviews follow:

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Tuesday Tune: The Theme From 1958’s The Blob (+Trailer)

Ahhh…the sweet, toe-tapping sounds of surf music…

And just so you you don’t feel cheated…here’s something less musical and more blobbish…

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SF Tidbits for 8/26/08

Star Wars Must Die

greedo1.jpgWay back in 1977, George Lucas unleashed on an unsuspecting world a movie unlike any ever seen before. For the next year, Star Wars could be seen in just about any theater in America, and the world, on its way to being the #2 movie of all time, when adjusted for inflation. Of course, with success came the temptation to ride that wave. At first, everything seemed to be going well. The Empire Strikes Back is considered by many to be the best of the original movies, even if it wasn’t quite as successful at the box office as the first movie. Then along came Return of the Jedi, and first inklings that all was not well in Lucas-land.

Then a funny thing happened. Before starting work on the prequel movies, Lucas decided to re-release the original trilogy in theaters, with ‘tweaks and edits’, ostensibly to make them more like his vision for them. But every time a major re-release occurred, more ‘tweaks and edits’ happened, so there are now several different versions of the films floating around, arousing fan ire and suspicion.

A suspicion that was confirmed with the prequel movies release: Lucas can’t write a decent plot or bit of dialogue, he was about flash and spectacle over characters and story. Even Natalie Portman couldn’t rescue the new trilogy from terrible dialogue, poor stories and wooden acting. Only Lucas could get Samuel L. Jackson to channel his inner Keanu Reeves. Legions of fans were let down, expecting more. And now with the critical savaging and box office bomb of the new Clone Wars movie, I think we can come to only one conclusion:

To save its future, Star Wars must die.

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