Archive for March, 2009

SF Signal Welcomes Carl Vincent

Is there no sanctity in the hallowed halls of blogging? Will they let just anyone in? If we have anything to say about it…yes! To that end, we’ve added a new “SF Signal Irregular” to our ranks. His name is Carl Vincent and he’ll be focusing on art- & music-related posts for SF Signal. In fact he’s already started: check out Carl’s awesome interview with the even awesomer genre-loving musician John Anealio.

As per our usual initiation, we asked Carl to write about himself in the third person — an endless entertainment for the rest of us. This is him talking about himself:

Carl Vincent of Stainless Steel Droppings traces his love of science fiction to a small Nebraska farmhouse, where his uncle’s small bedroom bookshelf contained paperback portals whose covers and stories transported him to worlds that fired his young imagination. Memories of experiencing certain stories for the first time are like frozen moments in time. He can recall with perfect clarity the scene in which he first discovered The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat, the Harry Harrison creation for which his blog is named. While science fiction and fantasy are the major underpinnings of Stainless Steel Droppings, one is just as likely to find a treatise on the joys of period films like Pride and Prejudice as one is to find the ravings of a speculative fiction fanatic. His passions for art, particularly sf/f illustration, music, film, and literature (read: books!) are what fuel his pontifications. If he can inspire others to these same passions by exposing artists, authors, and musicians to a larger audience through Stainless Steel Droppings, then he is truly over the moon.

As a longtime reader of SF Signal, Carl knows the “New Guy Brings Bagels” rule. Yay us!

Welcome aboard, Carl! Now gimme my bagel!

During a stretch of science fiction reading in the early part of 2008, I decided to pick up Philip K. Dick’s classic novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Not long after my review, I received an email from a man named John Anealio, informing me that he had recorded a song inspired by said novel. I was immediately intrigued, little knowing just what I would hear when I followed the link to Sci Fi Songs and gave a first listen to Rachel Rosen. What I discovered was a catchy tune that has stuck in my head for over a year and a man who links together his passions in a way that is admirable and inspirational. Any mention of Do Androids Dream or of Bladerunner kicks off the chorus in my head.

“Is Rachel Rosen really an android

Can Rachel Rosen really be alive

Is Rachel Rosen really an android

Can Rachel Rosen really be alive”

And that is a good thing! I am a big fan of this acoustical tune. Give it a listen and hear for yourself:

(“Rachel Rosen, inspired by Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep)

And please feel free to listen to this, and the other songs included after the break, as I put some questions to singer/songwriter/sci-fi enthusiast, John Anealio.

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REVIEW: Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton

REVIEW SUMMARY: Who’d have thought you get valuable life lessons from Wesley Crusher?

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Actor Wil Wheaton’s musings about the transition from actor to actor/writer/parent.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Well written; deals with life issues that matter; fun glimpses behind the acting curtain.

CONS: Some of the earlier blog excerpts are a bit amateurish when compared to the rest of the book.

BOTTOM LINE: Definitely worth the read.

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Free Fiction for 3/31/09

Free Fiction [courtesy of QuasarDragon]

SF Tidbits for 3/31/09

Why is Science Important?

The Guardian points us to the interesting and educational film Why is Science Important?

18 Recently Free SF/F Stories

Thanks to the ever-vigilant Free Speculative Fiction Online, these recently free stories came to my attention, an now yours:

  1. James P. Blaylock: “The Dry Spell” (Subterranean, Winter 2009)
  2. Amy Sterling Casil: “Chromosome Circus” (F & SF, January 2000)
  3. Amy Sterling Casil: “Mad for the Mints” (F & SF, July 2000)
  4. Amy Sterling Casil: “Shakespeare in Hell” (Elysian Fiction, May 2002)
  5. Amy Sterling Casil: “The Universe in the Bottom of a Cereal Box” (switch.blade Anthology, 2002)
  6. Amy Sterling Casil: “To Kiss the Star” (F & SF, February 2001)
  7. Brenda W. Clough: “A Mighty Fortress” (Helix, July 2007)
  8. Brenda W. Clough: “Grow Your Own” (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, July 2000)
  9. Brenda W. Clough: “Revise the World
  10. Anne Harris: Accidental Creatures (Tor, 1998)
  11. Mary Robinette Kowal: “Evil Robot Monkey” (The Solaris Book of New SF Anthology #2, 2008)
  12. D. D. Levine: “Sun Magic, Earth Magic” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #1, October 2008)
  13. Paul J. McAuley: “Little Lost Robot” (Interzone, August 2008, PDF)
  14. Tim Pratt: “Her Voice in a Bottle” (Subterranean, Winter 2009)
  15. Mike Resnick: “A Better Mousetrap” (Nature, November 2007, PDF )
  16. Bruce Sterling: “Homo Sapiens Declared Extinct” (Nature, November 1999, PDF)
  17. Harry Turtledove: “We Haven’t Got There Yet” (Tor.com, March 2009)
  18. K. D. Wentworth: “The Orangery” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #12, March 2009)

Books Received: March 30, 2009

Here are the books we received this past week.


SF Tidbits for 3/30/09

Tube Bits For 03/30/2009

  • Many people didn’t like the way Galactica ended, but Ron Moore kicked around a somewhat different ending that involved the Galactica herself, on Earth (2). That’s right, the idea was that ancient mounds in Central America would turn out to be the remains of the Galactica, buried after 150000 years. So I ask you: Would that have been a better ending? I’m not sure.
  • Maybe you’re one of the few who really miss Galactica. If so, Fidget (Sci Fi’s gaming blog) lists 10 games to help you get over Galactica. Phoenix Wright? Seriously? That one is a stretch, but there are a couple of good ones there.
  • It’s not just SyFy that is apparently turning its back on the core audience. Cartoon Network seems to be as well, debuting six new live action reality TV series, plus a partnership with the NBA, for its upcoming season. Once upon a time, CN showed quite a bit of anime during a late night block. Sadly, that has been going away over the years, with the reality (heh heh) being that something more is needed to make a profit. The more I see this happen, the more I’m convinced that the Internet will be the future for niche audiences.
  • Hulu is an awesome repository of almost all things TV, both new and old. However, there is a distinct lack of LOST and other ABC/Disney shows. That may be changing as ABC/Disney appear to be in talks to add their TV shows to Hulu. If so, Hulu becomes that much more awesomer.
  • Speaking of a, the orginal Knight Rider is now available for your viewing pleasure on NBC and Hulu. Since we all know how cranky John get’s without his morning Hoff, here’s the pilot:

Sunday Cinema: The Last Woman On Earth (1960)

We’ve seen The Last Man on Earth, seems that turnabout is fair play. So here’s Roger Corman’s 1960 film Last Woman On Earth, which follows 3 survivors of a mysterious apocalypse which appears to have wiped out all human life on earth. Bummer.

[via The Classic Science Fiction Channel]

SF Tidbits for 3/29/09

  • Harlan Ellison’s name popped up twice today: In Andrew Wheeler’s Harlan Ellison’s Introductions post, and in Scott Edelman’s dreams. Talk about Dangerous Visions!
  • Free Fiction: The latest issue of The Future Fire features social, political, & speculative cyberfiction from Eric Del Carlo, Nader Elhefnawy, Melanie Rees and Rob Sharp.
  • @Bookspot Central: Sarah Zettel’s Love/Hate Relationship with Star Wars: “I went to The Phantom Menace on its opening weekend, ready to fall in love all over again…Then the movie started, and the movie played, and the movie ended, and I walked out and I was angry. Not just a little angry either. I was Harlan-Ellison-with-a-toothache-angry. I was in fact f***ing furious.”
  • Charlie Stross and Cory Doctorow are giving a benefit talk entitled “Resisting the All-Seeing Eye” for the Open Rights Group on May 1, 2009, in London. [via Locus Online]
  • Writer Lavie Tidhar has started the World SF News Blog, focusing on the international science fiction, fantasy, horror and comics scenes. [via Ellen Datlow]

Science Fiction Films of the 1950s

The New York Times, using next Friday”s release of the 1950s SciFi film parody/homage Alien Tresspass, looks at the science fiction films of the 1950s. Salient quotage:

But the genius of the “Body Snatchers” metaphor (the movie is based on a story by Jack Finney) is that it combines the ’50s anxiety about the end of humankind with the era’s equally persistent fears about the toxic effects of mass movements: the Nazism and Fascism that had so recently come close to blowing up the world, the Soviet-style Communism that looked, from these shores, intent on finishing the job. There’s a warning here too about the creeping pressure to conform in our own prosperous middle-class society.

These are useful cautions because, as all these movies show, belief in authority of one kind or another — including the authority of science — was considerably stronger in that age than in the present day, when few leaders are trusted, and the word “expert” is almost invariably preceded by “so-called.” It’s this greater credulity that makes people in ’50s science-fiction films seem so far from us now — familiar but distant, unreachable, like the selves we were as children.

REVIEW: Nation by Terry Pratchett

REVIEW SUMMARY: One of Pratchett’s strongest and most passionate works.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Disparate and unlikely survivors of a devastating tsunami wave band together on an island called Nation.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Accessible to Pratchett newcomers; emotionally powerful, and still funny as ever.

CONS: A couple of problematic Pratchett-isms creep in.

BOTTOM LINE: This is Pratchett at his sharpest, most passionate, and best storytelling. A fine place to discover this author. And I do really think it’s a must read.

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Saturday Morning YouTube: Plastic Man

From the series-defining episode called “Weeds”.

[via Poe TV]

SF Tidbits for 3/28/09

Tidbits, Neal Asher, Jon Sullivan , Jo Walton, Connie Willis, Tim Lebbon, Book View Café, Tim Holman, Matt Jarpe, Star Trek, The Bionic Woman, The Dark Knight,

SF Signal has 5 Monsters vs. Aliens prize packs to give away to five lucky readers.

Each prize pack contains:

  • Monsters Vs. Aliens: The Official Movie Adaptation – Susan Murphy is having a bad wedding day. After being struck by a rock from space, she mysteriously grows to become the 49-feet-11-inches tall Ginormica. However, Susan’s not the only monster — as a secret government compound full of them can attest! And when a malicious alien robot named Gallaxhar lands on Earth, General W.R. Monger must send a motley crew into action to save the world! This is the official graphic novel adaptation of the movie that features the voice talents of Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland, Hugh Laurie and Seth Rogen!
  • Monsters Vs. Aliens: The “M” Files – From the studio that brought you the smash-hit movies Shrek and Madagascar comes Monsters Vs. Aliens, a story about the world’s most extraordinary saviours! Not all monsters are evil! The “M” Files features two original tales of Susan “Ginormica” Murphy, Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D., The Missing Link, B.O.B. and Insectosaurus! In The “M” Files, take a trip to Area 51 to discover the true origins of our wily gang of monsters! And in ‘Brain Pain’, Dr Cockroach attempts a brain transfer… with hilarious results!

For a chance to win a prize pack, follow these simple steps:

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PortmeiriCon Kicks Off This Weekend

Prisoner fans rejoice!

PortmeiriCon kicks off this weekend in Portmeirion, the location where they shot The Prisoner.

Read all about it in my post at AMC’s SciFi Scanner.

Where the Wild Things Are is the latest a much loved children’s book to get the big screen treatment. As we’ve seen from the various Dr. Suess books, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Does Wild Things have a story that can be blown up into a feature film? I don’t think so. It’s perfect as a book, not so much for the movies.

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Infinivox SF has just posted the table of contents for The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction audio anthology, scheduled for release in June:

  1. “Turing’s Apples” by Stephen Baxter
  2. “Shoggoths in Blooms” by Elizabeth Bear
  3. “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang
  4. “The Dream of Reason” by Jeffrey Ford
  5. “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story” by James Alan Gardner
  6. “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson
  7. “The Art of Alchemy” by Ted Kosmatka
  8. “The City of the Dead” by Paul J McAuley
  9. “Five Thrillers” by Robert Reed
  10. “Fixing Hanover” by Jeff VanderMeer

What a great lineup — quite a few Hugo and Nebula nominees. I’ve read several of these stories and enjoyed them. And if the production value of this is half as good as it was with Mini-Masterpieces of Science Fiction, this should be something to hear.

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