Listen Here to Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast!

One day late. Oh well. Just remember, this is only a radio drama

Friday YouTube: The Best Lines from Plan 9 from Outer Space

“One thing’s sure. Inspector Clay’s dead…murdered…and somebody’s responsible!”

[via MilkandCookies]

The Sci Fi Channel Thinks Video Games Are Fun To Watch On TV

Now we know the Sci Fi Channel has been moving farther and farther away from the ‘Sci Fi’ part of their name for a long time. If it wasn’t creature features infesting the weekend schedule, it was wrestling throwing folding chairs all over Wednesday nights. Add in the various ‘reality’ series, and SF has become the red headed stepchild of the channel. And now Sci Fi is going to unleash GameQuest on their unsuspecting throngs of viewers.

Set to appear in the first quarter of 2009, GameQuest:

will feature top game titles from various studios, and includes physical challenges that bring video games to life, as well as elimination challenges in an arena before hundreds of spectators. Contestants will compete for a prize package that includes $100,000 and trips to future World Cyber Games events.

As you can see, it looks like a combination of DoubleDare from Nickelodeon paired up with actual videogame play. Now, I don’t know about you, as much fun as watching the physical challenges may be, actually watching someone play a videogame is, well, dull. Like golf and soccer, videogames are much more fun to actually play than to watch.

Don’t believe me? Check out this awesomely hyperactive clip from Starcade:

Can’t you just feel the excitement? Granted, watching people go at it in Gears of War in all its curb stomping glory is waaay more exciting than Pac Man, but I don’t see it making compelling TV. Not in America anyway. Just don’t tell the South Koreans.

It’s The Zombiepocalypse: Bring Friends! (Left 4 Dead TV Spot)

It’s Halloween and people everywhere will be dressing up and going door to door, begging for their favorite high fructose corn syrup candy. Those we don’t get what they want just might turn into a zombie and start infecting everyone around them. Sooner than you think, the zombiepocalypse is upon us. What better way to celebrate than to watch this TV spot for the upcoming Valve survival game, Left 4 Dead, where you and 3 friends get to annihilate wave after wave of the zombie hordes.

Considering the rather low system specs, your PC might actually be a zombie and still be able to play. And for even more fun, joint their “Dude, where’s my thumb?” contest! This is one game several of us here at SF Signal’s excessively boarded up World HQ will be acquiring. We’ll see you in game, if we don’t shoot you first…

SF Tidbits for 10/31/08

Relive The War of the Worlds Tonight!

Tonight, a Nebraska theater group is recreating Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio broadcast on its 70th Anniversary. This performance will be streamed lived tonight at 7PM Central Time on www.nebraska.tv.

From Nebraska.tv:

The Grand Theatre in downtown Grand Island is hosting a special recreation of the 1930’s War of the Worlds radio broadcast. The broadcast was originally produced by Orson Welles and was broadcast as a fictional invasion of the earth by Martians. It was so well done that many people across the country mistook it for an actual live news event and believed that Martians were invading.

Halloween Reading…A Summary

I’m the kind of reader book marketers love because I’m the type of reader who likes to take advantage of timing to choose what to read. For example, if I know a film is coming out that is based on a science fiction story I’ve been wanting to read (like, say, Jumper), I’ll use that as reason to bump up that book on my reading pile. I like doing the compare/contrast thing.

Similarly, I like to take advantage of certain times of the year to read certain kinds of fiction. Horror fiction for example, just seems to go better with cold, winter nights. OK, there aren’t many of those in Houston but the calendar is aligned…so around Halloween I tend to read more horror-related genre fiction.

Here’s a quick summary of this year’s Halloween reading, with the “bottom line” comments I made on each. (Titles link to full reviews):

Every Last Drop by Charlie Huston – While the book was not bad, it is probably the weakest of the series so far.
Necroscope by Brian Lumley – This is one of the books you don’t want to stop reading.
Stalking the Vampire by Mike Resnick – Read this as a comedy with a mild mystery flavor.
The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams – A good anthology and a must-have for fans of zombie fiction.

[More thoughts on these titles after the jump…]

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Free eBook: Sunborn by Jeffrey A. Carver

Jeffrey A. Carver is giving away free PDF copies of his latest novel, Sunborn.

Don’t like PDF copies? Carver offers the following solution to obtain other eBook formats:

Buy a hardcover from me or any store–send me an email with proof of purchase (email purchase confirmation or jpg of a receipt)–and I’ll send you a DRM-free ebook in tagged PDF, Mobipocket, eReader, or other format. (Some may not be available immediately.)

Please recognize that considerable effort is involved in creating these ebooks, and do not post them on other web sites. If you don’t want to buy a hardcover copy, ebooks will be available for purchase from Tor in the reasonably near future. I don’t know exactly when.

Sunborn is the fourth book in The Chaos Chronicles. For those who haven’t read the first three, the author offers free versions of them in multiple formats. The first three book (with links to the HTML versions) are:

Hassel the Hoff on November 6th in PAIN

dhpain.jpg

Attention all you PS3 owners, David Hasselhoff will be appearing in a new expansion for PAIN, called PAIN Movie Lot. PAIN allows you to launch characters into various settings with the goal of inflicting as much pain on them as you can. Think of it as a puzzle with ‘human’ projectiles.

The new expansion adds new characters and sets, all themed around a movie studio. As you might imagine from the title of this post, David Hasselhoff is one of the new characters you can toss around. Now, instead of watching old Knight Rider re-runs and wondering if he did his own stunts, now you can turn the Hoff into your own personal crash test dummy for points! Sweet.

If you watch the Hoff themed trailer at at People Magazine, you’ll see that Hasselhoff is having a great time voice acting (apparently the last refuge for those who can’t get a real acting job on the new Knight Rider) for the game.

Which prompts the question: Who is the best at accepting their ‘cheese’ factor late in their career: The Hoff or The Shat?

Trailer for the expansion below:

Bruce Sterling: Newspapers and Magazines are Dead

…and other print prognostications.

[via Velcro City Tourist Board]

SF Tidbits for 10/30/08

The Day The Earth Stopped

This gets my vote for Lamest Trailer Ever…even without the obvious title ripoff. Maybe they should have called it The Day The Box Office Stood Still. Hi-yo!

And is it me, or does Judd Nelson look like Kevin Smith?

[via Poe TV]

GIVEAWAY: Get Your Stinking Paws on a Copy of Planet Of The Apes on Blu-Ray

The 1968 original Planet Of The Apes appears on Blu-ray for the first time on November 4th. SF Signal is giving away not one, not two, but three copies to three lucky readers.

What’s on the disc besides the hi-definition film? From the press release:

Planet Of The Apes Blu-ray Disc will be authored in Java on a double-layer disc presented in widescreen (2.35:1 aspect ratio) with newly mastered English 5.1 DTS Master Audio, English, Spanish and French Mono and includes English and Spanish subtitles. All new special features will be presented in High-Def.

Bonus features include:

  • Commentary by Composer Jerry Goldsmith
  • Commentary by Actors Roddy McDowall, Natalie Trundy, Kim Hunter and Makeup Artist John Chambers
  • Text Commentary by Eric Greene and Author of Planet of the Apes as American Myth
  • Behind the Planet of the Apes Documentary – Includes all new interactivity and timeline
  • Behind the Planet of the Apes Promo (1988)
  • Planet of the Apes Makeup Test with Edward G. Robinson (1966)
  • Roddy McDowall On-set Footage
  • Planet of the Apes Dailies and Outtakes (No Audio)
  • Planet of the Apes NATO Presentation (1967)
  • Planet of the Apes Vintage Featurette (1968)
  • A Look Behind the Planet of the Apes (1972)
  • Original Theatrical Trailers
  • Original Sketches by Costume Designer Morton Haack
  • Photo Gallery
  • Planet of the Apes Timeline
  • Interactive Pressbooks
  • Vintage Apes Newspaper Galleries
  • Advertising and Lobby Card Galleries
  • Behind-the-Scenes Galleries

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Send an email to contest at sfsignal dot com (that’s us).
  2. In the subject line enter ‘POTA‘.
  3. Only one entry per person allowed – this is for U.S. and Canada residents only.
  4. The contest will end Wednesday, November 5th (11:59 PM U.S Central time). The winners will be selected, notified and announced shortly thereafter. The disc will ship approximately one week later.

Good luck, you maniacs!

MIND MELD: Is Science Fiction Responsible for the Lack of Public Interest in Space Exploration?

It’s not often that our real life science heroes utter disparaging remarks against science fiction. In fact, the opposite is usually true; science fiction is often cited as a source of inspiration and interest. Enter Buzz Aldrin, who caused a stir recently with some comments he made. To get a few more opinions, we asked the following of this week’s panel:

Q: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin said fantastic space science fiction shows and movies are partly responsible for the lack of interest in real-life space exploration among young people. Do you agree with this assessment? Why?
J. Michael Straczynski
J. Michael Straczynski is a writer and producer who is perhaps best known for his work on the science fiction television series Babylon 5. His other television credits include, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, the 1980’s Twilight Zone series, the Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade, Jeremiah, and many others. He is the author of several short stories and three horror novels (Demon Night, Othersyde, and Tribulations) and also the non-fiction book The Complete Book of Scriptwriting. J. Michael Straczynski also wrote the film screenplay for 2008’s Changeling. Upcoming film projects include The Silver Surfer and World War Z.

The only thing wrong with Buzz Aldrin’s statement is that it’s not true.

For proof, all you have to do is talk to any number of scientists and engineers and, yes, even some of the more recent crowd of astronauts to discover that many of them began to first show an interest in space technology as the result of watching science fiction movies and TV series that opened up the possibility of space flight. Once we see it being done, even fictionally, we can get behind it and start making it happen. In the long history of the human race, nobody had ever run a four-minute mile until Roger Bannister broke the record in 1954. One month later, John Landy did the same. Landy had been running just as long as Bannister. What changed? Landy suddenly knew it was possible. He’d seen it. This is the thresholding theory of evolution in practice. If we can see star travel, even in a fictional format, it plays into thresholding on a cultural level. And it inspires the next generation of dreamers.

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Wednesday YouTube: Rollerman

In the spirit of The World’s First Wearable Motorcycle

When I watch this, I can’t help singing “Rollerman, Rollerman, does whatever a roller can…”. My wife, on the other hand, hearing this music from the next room, thinks I’m watching strippers.

[link via Chris Roberson]

SF Tidbits for 10/29/08

Tube Bits for 10/29/2008

  • I’m not sure how I didn’t realize this yesterday, but Legend of the Seeker is actually the re-named Wizard’s First Rule, based on the book series by Terry Goodkind. In any event, you can see the first 30 minutes of the show, for free, on iTunes. But why the name change? Wizard’s First Rule is a well-known series, with a built in fanbase. Changing the name really doesn’t seem to add much.
  • Many of us here like the Sci Fi Channel series Eureka, but what would it be like to actually live there? Well, if you’re in Australia, you may just find out! The University of Queensland is planning to build a ‘brain city’ not unlike the town of Eureka, with up to 4500 resident scientists. Just imagine the hilarious hijinks that could ensue!
  • Wondering what the status is of the new Stargate Universe spin-off? Sci Fi Wire has you covered: a first script is being written, story ideas are being floated, and casting is being considered. Anyone interested in this one?
  • And now the video portion of our show. First up, Amanda Tapping on the greenscreen used for Sanctuary:

    And Tahmoh Penikett on his role in Dollhouse.

The Video That Killed The Radio Star Returns! MTV Is Back, Online

For those of us ‘of a certain age’, we remember when MTV actually stood for Music Television. Back in the day, MTV really did show nothing but music videos, all day, everyday, and twice on Sunday. Nowadays you have to look really hard to find any kind of actual music video on MTV. With the rise of the Internets (a great band name BTW), you can find all that online, when you want it and not have to wait for the programming whims of the MTV staff.

Well now, what Hulu has done for new and old TV shows, MTV is doing for new and old music videos. They’ve opened their MTV Music site and although it is still very new, they have an impressive array of videos and artists to choose from. For instance, the very first video ever shown on MTV:

Ironic no? Video killed the radio star, and now the ‘nets have killed music video, on TV anyway.

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Alan Tudyk on Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show

Your weekly dose of random acts of Japanese styled insanity, Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show (starring your host Kiko (down Tim)), is back and Alan Tudyk (Wash from Firefly) is co-starring. In this episode Alan (or Girly Boy as they call him) is kidnapped by a giant Lobster monster. Can Kiko and her super friends rescue him? Will it make sense? Find out below!

REVIEW: The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams

REVIEW SUMMARY: This is the zombie anthology for the new millennium.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: An anthology of thirty-four zombie stories.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: 28 good stories, 8 of which are outstanding.

CONS: 6 stories are mediocre or worse.

BOTTOM LINE: A good anthology and a must-have for fans of zombie fiction.

John Joseph Adams keeps depressing me: first, with his post-apocalyptic fiction anthology Wastelands, and now with his zombie anthology The Living Dead. To be sure, both anthologies are quite enjoyable – it’s just hat the subject matter is just so damned bleak. Of course, given the themes of these anthologies, this is not surprising. Nor would I have it any other way.

What is surprising is how the contributing authors each spin their zombie stories and wind up with such a wide range of flavors. Pass along a single idea to 20 authors and you will get close to 20 non-overlapping takes on the theme. Not all of the stories here are the Dawn of the Dead-type stories that you might expect, though I’m very glad that some of them are. In some stories, the undead are hunted and killed, in others they are accepted as part of normal society. Some stories have undead mobs, some have a lone zombie. In most stories, the zombies were physical creatures, in others they were symbolic. (Some stories lacked any zombies whatsoever beside a mention of them, to varying degrees of success.) Some stories are written as pure horror, some as semi-comedy, some as social statements, some as Literature. Some stories even manage to make the zombies sympathetic, if you can believe that. It’s this wide range of styles and approaches that makes an anthology like this worth reading.

And what makes this particular theme so appealing? I think contributing author Will McIntosh said it best when he said that zombie fiction explores our fear of death. These stories are filled with imagery that’s sure to linger (I’m looking at you, Poppy Z. Brite!) and many of the stories will, too.

In addition to the 33 zombie story reprints, Adams includes one original story (“How the Day Runs Down” by John Langan). The oldest story (“Meathouse Man” by George R. R. Martin) was written in 1976, but the large majority of these stories were written in the last decade. As such, The Living Dead can be viewed as the zombie anthology for the new millennium. (Oh, and it’s got a fantastic David Palumbo cover.)

Standout stories in this volume include:

  • “This Year’s Class Picture” by Dan Simmons (1992)
  • “Blossom” by David J. Schow (1989)
  • “The Dead” by Michael Swanwick (1996)
  • “Bobby Conroy Comes Back From The Dead” by Joe Hill (2005)
  • “Sparks Fly Upward” by Lisa Morton (2006)
  • “Meathouse Man” by George R. R. Martin (1976)
  • “Deadman’s Road” by Joe Lansdale (2007)
  • “Passion Play” by Nancy Holder (1992)

Individual story reviews follow (story title links jump to free online versions!)…

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