Pon Farr Mountain

Trek Slash…the savior of low content days…

[via Topless Robot]

SF Tidbits for 11/30/08

Do Science Fiction Fans Hate Libraries?

OK that might be a little extreme, but hear me out. My friend Megan is a librarian at a major metropolitan library. She recently asked me “why don’t sci-fi and fantasy readers use libraries?” I was taken aback – I figured that genre fans everywhere used libraries and that would include readers of science fiction. But no, apparently they don’t.

Her library’s reports regularly show that sci-fi/fantasy is the least circulated genre in the library’s collection. Non-fiction books are even circulated more than sci-fi. Yikes. I wondered if many readers were also collectors; they want to own these books and thus the library holds little appeal. Or maybe the disappointment at not finding a book you wanted turned you off to libraries?

The library has a limited budget to spend and realistically they need to spend that on the books that will be used the most. Sure, the library should be well-rounded, but why invest in a book like (the excellent) Fitzpatrick’s War that 2 people will ever check out when she could buy another copy of the latest James Patterson novel that will spend the better part of a year outside the library in the homes of happy readers.

So I thought it would be good to ask you, the readers here, what can she do? What would coax those of you who haven’t stepped foot in your local library in the last year to take another look and actually utilize its services? Let us know in the comments, and thanks!

Salvage Mission

The band How I Became the Bomb offers up this SciFi music video for their song “Salvage Mission”.

[via Gerry Canavan]

SF Tidbits for 11/29/08

The Giant Gila Monster

When I was younger, Channels 9 and 11 in New York used to show monster movies on Thanksgiving weekend. In that spirit, we offer you The Giant Gila Monster in which “a teenage hot rodder and his buddies meet a large lizard that devours trees.”

Friday YouTube: It’s DJ Spock!

Perhaps inspired by this photo-chop, comes DJ Spock!

[via OpticalPoptitude]

SF Tidbits for 11/28/08

Send Tobias Buckell Your Best Wishes

Tobias Buckell, author of Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose, is back in the hospital today due to a pulmonary embolism.

Head on over to his blog and wish him well.

Get well, Toby!

An Interview with Book View Cafe’s Amy Sterling

When Book View Café (BCV) launched back on November 18th I was most surprised to see this rather large list of published authors who have signed up to be contributors. The list includes established authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin and rising newcomers such as Sylvia Kelso. I was immediately intrigued; why have these authors all come together in this way? What are they hoping to accomplish? And, why are they all women?

With these and other questions in mind, I set out to interview Amy Sterling, the author who brought the launch to our attention. Lucky for me (and you!) she consented to give us a behind-the scenes look at the new venture.

SF Signal: First, how did this all get started?

Amy: After a lot of discussions in recent months about alternative types of publishing and cooperative writing, some of us who have been writing friends for a long time decided to get together and take charge of our creative lives. The main impetus came out of the SF-FFW’s, an informal group of professional science fiction and fantasy female writers that has been together about five years. Sarah Zettel took the leadership, but I’m proud to say that I think it was an encouraging message from me that was part of the spark.

SF Signal: How long did it take to get going once you decided to make it happen?

Amy: The idea was first discussed in April – so it has been about 6 to 7 months. Our launch was originally planned for September. We also coordinated with the iPhone application TextOnPhone, and the combination of this and their planned fall subscriber push encouraged our November 15 launch.

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Thanksgiving Turkey: Time Travelers

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have some turkey: Here’s Irwin Allen’s production of Time Travelers.

Story by Rod Serling? Yikes!

[via QuasarDragon]

SF Tidbits for 11/27/08

Yet Another Trek Trailer – Now With Added Nimoy!

I’m not sure this warrants another post, but I couldn’t resist the headline. Although, now that I watch it again, some comments folks made make me wonder: what the heck does Kirk think he’s doing wrecking a classic car like that? Reckless jackass. Who in their right mind would give him a starship?

MIND MELD: Who are the Most Memorable Characters in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror?

Many say that the best speculative fiction stories are those with strong characters. But sometimes we run across characters that outshine the story. We asked this week’s panel:

Q: Who are the most memorable characters in science fiction, fantasy and horror? What makes them so memorable?

Here are their answers…

Mike Resnick
Mike Resnick is the author of 50 novels, 200 short stories, a pair of screenplays, and the editor of 50 anthologies, as well as the executive editor of Jim Baen’s Universe. According to Locus, he is the leading award winner, living or dead, of short fiction. His work has been translated into 22 languages.

Memorable characters, in no particular order

Ben Reich (The Demolished Man) – he’s bright, he’s tough, he’s willing to buck a system that has stacked all the odds against him (how do you get away with a murder when the police are telepaths?), and to this day I think he gets away with it if Alfie Bester doesn’t decide that he shouldn’t.

The Mule (Foundation and Empire) – one of the only two believable characters Isaac Asimov ever drew, he is at first totally awesome (until we realize who he is) and totally villainous (until we understand him), and although he is completely at odds with what Isaac clearly considers the salvation of Civilization, he nonetheless arouses the reader’s sympathy.

Charly Gordon (Flowers for Algernon) – possibly the most fully-realized character of those I’m mentioning, you admire his ascent from imbecile to genius and suffer through his descent back to imbecility. An incredibly moving story, quite possibly the best novella in our field’s history, and since it is comprised entirely of Charly’s diary he is the singular engine that drives the story and sways the reader’s emotions.

Jonathan Herovit (Herovit’s World) – to me, Herovit, who is slowly going mad writing an endless series of generic space operas, is the most memorable science fiction writer ever created. And, since it’s by Barry Malzberg at the peak of his powers, the most tragic as well.

Jenkins (City) – okay, so Jenkins is a robot and not a human being at all, but thank heaven Cliff Simak didn’t feel compelled to follow Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics as almost everyone else of his era did, and created a robot with hopes and dreams, a robot who was thrilled to be working for a Webster once again, and a robot who in the end is willing to lie when he feels the situation requires it.

Nameless child (“Born of Man and Woman”) – it’s a very short story, and the narrator doesn’t even have a name…but it is so brilliant, so horrific, and so memorable that it made Richard Matheson a star with his very first story. It’s hard to read this and not be chilled by it – and it’s even harder, decades later, to forget the narrator, who is as memorable as they come, even if that memory is accompanied by an involuntary shudder.

Marid Audran (When Gravity Fails, etc.) – Marid was the protagonist of George Alec Effinger’s masterworks, When Gravity Fails and A Fire In The Sun (as well as The Exile Kiss, which was not quite as successful). In an age of cynical atheism, Marid is Islamic; in an age of urban sprawls in the Orient, Marid wanders a Middle Eastern city drawn from the French Quarter in New Orleans; in an era where “punk” was at least as important as “cyber”, George (and Marid) ignored it in favor of art. There’s never been a protagonist quite like Marid, before or since.

Northwest Smith (13 stories) – I don’t know if any other respondents will name anyone else on my list, but I feel reasonably confident that only I will name Northwest Smith. He’s pulpish and two-dimensional at best, no question about it. His adventures are similar, usually erotic without being sexy (if that makes sense to you; it made sense to the distributors or the magazines wouldn’t have reached the stands), and he is saved from his particular vices far more by others than by himself. But he’s here because whenever my sensawonder needs a shot of adrenaline, I just pick up one of Catherine Moore’s Northwest Smith stories and I’m fine twenty minutes later. I don’t have much higher praise than that.

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Wednesday YouTube: Bruce Campbell Screams

You think you’re having a bad day?

[via Poe TV]

SF Tidbits for 11/26/08

TOC: The Best SF and Fantasy of the Year Vol. 3 edited by Jonathan Strahan

Night Shade Books has posted the contents of The Best SF and Fantasy of the Year Vol. 3 edited by Jonathan Strahan, due out next year.

  1. “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang
  2. Shoggoths in Bloom” by Elizabeth Bear
  3. “Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel” by Peter S. Beagle
  4. “Fixing Hanover” by Jeff VanderMeer
  5. The Gambler” by Paolo Bacigalupi
  6. “The Dust Assassin” by Ian McDonald
  7. “Virgin” by Holly Black
  8. Pride and Prometheus” by John Kessel
  9. “The Thought War” by Paul McAuley
  10. “Beyond the Sea Gates of the Scholar Pirates of Sarskoe” by Garth Nix
  11. “The Small Door” by Holly Phillips
  12. “Turing’s Apples” by Stephen Baxter
  13. “The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates” by Stephen King
  14. “Five Thrillers” by Robert Reed
  15. The Magician’s House” by Megan McCarron
  16. “Goblin Music” by Joan Aiken
  17. “Machine Maid” by Margo Lanagan
  18. “The Art of Alchemy” by Ted Kosmatka
  19. 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson
  20. Marry the Sun” by Rachel Swirsky
  21. “Crystal Nights” by Greg Egan
  22. “His Master’s Voice” by Hannu Rajaniemi
  23. “Special Economics” by Maureen McHugh
  24. “Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment” by M Rickert
  25. “From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled…” by Michael Swanwick
  26. “If Angels Fight” by Rick Bowes
  27. “The Doom of Love in Small Spaces” by Ken Scholes
  28. “Pretty Monsters” by Kelly Link

[via Jason Sanford]

REVIEW: Hater by David Moody

REVIEW SUMMARY: Part mainstream novel, part thriller, part social science fiction novel, but best at the latter.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A series of outbreaks of sudden, extreme violence grips the nation in fear and paranoia.


PROS: Wonderfully increasing feeling of suspense and paranoia; excellent depiction of societal behavior; characters you care about.

CONS: Insufficient reason given for the outbreaks of violence; interstitials of violence sometimes seemed aimed to shock rather than build the world.

BOTTOM LINE: The story shines when it sheds its mainstream pretense.

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Octavia Butler and the Devil Girl From Mars

Divers and Sundry had this awesome find…it’s Devil Girl From Mars and is the film that author Octavia Butler credits for inspiring her to write science fiction:

I’m going to talk a little bit about the effects of the media on me and on my work. It’s impossible to begin to talk about myself and the media without going back to how I wound up writing science fiction and that is by watching a terrible movie. (Laughter) The movie was called, “Devil Girl from Mars,” and I saw it when I was about l2 years old, and it changed my life. (Laughter) It was one of those old 1950s movies in which the beautiful Martian woman arrives on earth to announce that all the Martian men have died off and there are a bunch of man-hungry women up there. And the earth-men don’t want to go. As I was watching this film, I had a series of revelations. The first was that “Geez, I can write a better story than that.” And then I thought, “Gee, anybody can write a better story than that.”

William Shatner Responds to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Trailer…Twice

William Shatner responds to the new Trek Trailer. Twice. I’ll leave it to you to decide which one is more accurate.

This one?

…or this one?

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