Neil Gaiman Reads Chapter 1 of The Graveyard Book

Neil Gaiman reads chapter 1 of his newly released novel, The Graveyard Book, an excerpt from the audiobook. Shh! Listen…

REVIEW: Sideways in Crime edited by Lou Anders

REVIEW SUMMARY: This is a very readable anthology despite my usual aversion to history.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: An anthology of 15 original alternate-history mystery stories.


PROS: Alternate history and mystery are two good genres that taste good together.

CONS: My own ambivalence towards history made the stories that emphasized it less enjoyable.

BOTTOM LINE: A worthwhile anthology for alternate history lovers and mystery lovers alike.

I was never a student of history. It always bored me. It wasn’t until I ran across engaging alternate history stories in science fiction anthologies that I took a mildly active interest. Admittedly it was limited to Googling for the true history to better understand the fictional one, but even so, the sub-genre of alternate history intrigued me.

In his illuminating introduction to Sideways in Crime, an anthology of alternate-history mystery stories, Lou Anders sheds some light on why that might be. It has to do with another genre I like: mystery. Anders makes a compelling case for both alternate history and mystery being close genre cousins since both engage the reader by dropping clues that explain the world or plot. He’s right. There is an added appeal to these stories for being two-pronged mysteries that reward careful reading.

That tasty blend is not necessarily a sure-fire formula for success, though. Like any anthology, this one has some hits and misses. The ones that didn’t work so well for me were the ones that put the emphasis on the history instead of the mystery – an impression that is probably a holdover from days of long and dreadful history lessons in school.

Be that as it may, there were plenty of enjoyable stories here. Two of them stood out as being exceptional: “Via Vortex” by John Meaney and “Murder in Geektopia” by Paul Di Filippo. These stories went one step further than just offering up an alternate history and a mystery. They also mixed in some more traditional science fictional elements and for me, that made all the difference between a good story and a great one.

Individual story reviews follow…

Continue reading

A Batch of Free Fiction Links

Here’s a bunch of links to recently-free fiction (too much for a tidbits post!), courtesy of eagle eyes over at QuasarDragon

SF Tidbits for 9/30/08

2005 Kurt Vonnegut Video Interview

The recent Harrison Bergeron post has put me in a Kurt Vonnegut mood.

Here’s a video interview with Vonnegut from a 2005 episode of PBS Now:

[via The World in the Satin Bag]

Books Received: September 29, 2008

Here are the books we received this past week.

Fun games you can play:

  • Rate the book covers!
  • Tell us which books pique your interest!
  • Tell us about past reading experiences with any of these authors!

(Note: The last three are final copies of books for which we received advanced copies).

SF Tidbits for 9/29/08

Tube Bits for 09/29/2008

  • Mike Brotherton implores writers of SF TV and movies who are adapting SF stories to not add some sort of ‘societal message’. There’s a reason the story is good, adding a message can only muck it up.
  • BuddyTV gives us 5 steps for success for Knight Rider. After seeing the series premier, I don’t think success is in the cards.
  • Aaron Douglas supposedly spills some heavy duty spoilers about the ending episodes of Battlestar Galactica. Could be cool, depending on how they do it, if this is true.
  • Kristin from E! Online has a bunch of spoilers for Heroes season 3 and boy, if they don’t convince you Heroes is a soap opera, nothing will.
  • Is Fringe already too predictable? I’d have to agree so far with the thesis…
  • Check out this cool Cylon Raider Artisan Replica from Quantum Mechanix, and all for just a tad under $1k.
  • And finally, here’s Amanda Tapping talking about the upcoming Sci Fi Channel series, Sanctuary:

    Follow the link for the rest!

Do You Think About Author Compensation When You Buy Books Online?

Matt Selman offers A Moral Guide to Online Book Buying, in which he says:

The sticky question is this: when you buy a book online, you must ask yourself, “Who needs the money more — the author or the bookstore?”

Authors deserve to be paid for their work, but America’s independent bookstores are dying. When you buy a NEW book on Amazon, a royalty is paid to the author, and the rest of the money goes to the publisher and Amazon. When you buy a USED copy from a network of independent book sellers, like Alibris or AbeBooks or even Amazon Marketplace, the store gets (almost) all the money — and the author gets nothing.

Yes, ’tis a sticky question indeed. That’s why I steal books. :)

How about you? Do you think about author compensation when you buy books online?

Sunday Cinema: Journeyman – ‘Double Down’

This week Dan tries to protect a witness from certain death. However, armed with knowledge of the future, Dan and Livia ensure things turn out how they are ‘supposed’ to, and Dan’s actions in the past start to intrude on present day time.

SF Tidbits for 9/28/08

Chakotay vs. Pipe

Chakotay pulls a Green Lantern…

[via Poe TV]

SF Tidbits for 9/27/08

Friday YouTube: The Riddler’s a Perv

What kind of freaky stuff is the Riddler into? You be the judge…

[via Poe TV]

SF Tidbits for 9/26/08

Google Book Preview Crashes Internet Explorer

For those users who have been using Internet Explorer to read SF Signal, it seems that the Google book Preview widget we posted yesterday causes IE to crash.

That post has been updated. Apologies for the inconvenience.

And a pox on Google! A pox, I say!

Thanks to loyal Reader/Spell-checker/Trivia-Master/Fanboy Fred K. for alerting us

Classic Trailer: Forbidden Planet

SF Tidbits for 9/25/08

GIVEAWAY: Ask Lawrence Watt-Evans and Win ‘The Turtle Moves!’

BenBella Books has just released a new book about Terry Pratchett’s Discworld stories entitled The Turtle Moves!: Discworld’s Story Unauthorized, written by author Lawrence Watt-Evans. It’s part reference guide and part commentary, and all written in Watt-Evans’ humorous style. We have one copy to give away to a lucky reader, but we’re going to do something a little different. This time, we’re going to make you work, a little, to win.

Mr. Watt-Evans, as a part of publicizing his book, is available to us to answer SF Signal reader questions. This will happen in a later post, but first, we need questions. That’s where you come in. You see, you get to ask the questions that Mr. Watt-Evans will answer. As you might guess the contest rules involve you sending us questions. So, the rules are:

  1. Enter a question you’d like Mr. Watt-Evans to answer in the comments to this post. One question only per person but it can be about anything Discworld or Watt-Evans (stories, writings, etc).

  2. This contest will run for one week, through Oct. 1st, at which point we’ll close the comments and pick a winner.

Once done, we’ll collect the questions and send a selection off to Mr. Watt-Evans for him to answer. You’re question does not have to be selected for you to win. Everyone who submits a question will be entered.

So get to asking and good luck!

Wednesday Matinee: Harrison Bergeron

Next year, “Everyone Will Finally Be Equal”.

That’s the tag line for 2081, a short film version of Kurt Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron”.

This is not the first adaptation, though. In 1995, Showtime aired a star-studded version of “Harrison Bergeron”, which you can watch right here. It is described thusly:

Welcome to the future. It’s a no-brainer. “All men are not created equal. It is the purpose of the Government to make them so.” This is the premise of the Showtime film adaption of Kurt Vonnegut’s futuristic short story Harrison Bergeron. The film centers around a young man (Harrison) who is smarter than his peers, and is not affected by the usual “Handicapping” which is used to train all Americans so everyone is of equal intelligence.

[via Jesse Willis of SFF Audio]