Archive for February, 2010

What, you need more prompting than the headline?

Tell us!

Sunday Cinema: Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

Based on the Jules Verne classic…

[via Divers and Sundry]

SF Tidbits for 2/28/10

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I’ll echo Chris Roberson‘s statement that I’m not an immediate huge fan of the classic book mashups, but this book trailer is pretty cool.

[also via Orbit Books]

Free Fiction for 2/27/10

SF Tidbits for 2/27/10

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REVIEW SUMMARY: Celtic gods and creatures, Arthurian legends emerge as the technology of the current world fails. A well paced, character and setting rich “old world dies, new world begins” fantasy novel (first of a trilogy)

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Our current age of technology is ending, as creatures of myth awaken. Five seemingly ordinary people in England are thrust into fighting for humanity against the gods of old. They must figure out who they are, find objects of power, and complete impossible quests…all while the world they know stops working, dodging dragons and ghouls.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Transition from modern normalcy to chaos smooth and believable (even for a fantasy novel); Celtic myths and Arthurian legends interwoven with English landscape; awesome Picacio cover; bad ass fire bombing dragons!

CONS: Took me away from my own writing; I will get Chadbourn for that (or have him buy me a pint).

BOTTOM LINE: A excellent rendition on “the end of this world” with the starting of a different one, well written, great characters…a first book that makes you go out and hunt down the next two in the series.

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Friday YouTube: Zorg’s ZF-1 Gun

It’s really time to fire up The Fifth Element again…

[via 5th Element - Zorg Industries' ZF-1]

Temporarily-Free eBook: ‘The Summoning’ by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning, the first book in her paranormal young adult Darkest Powers series, is available for a limited time as a free online read.

Here’s the book description:

My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don’t even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost–and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won’t leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a “special home” for troubled teens. Yet the home isn’t what it seems. Don’t tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It’s up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House . . . before its skeletons come back to haunt me.

You can also sample the opening chapters of the other books in the series, The Awakening and The Reckoning.

[via Robots and Vamps]

SF Tidbits for 2/26/10

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After cutting his teeth on Inferno! and Warhammer Monthly (the only comic book ever to win an Eagle Award and get canceled in the same week), Christian Dunn spent many years as the Commissioning Editor of both Black Flame and Solaris. He is now safely ensconced back in the bosom of Black Library as their Range Development Editor where runs the e-book, Print on Demand and audio ranges, as well as being responsible for unearthing new writing talent.

He lives in Nottingham, England and always keeps a freshly greased chainsaw under his pillow in anticipation of the inevitable zombie apocalypse.


SF SIGNAL: Hi Christian! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, could you tell us more about Black Library’s new Print on Demand book line? Do you have an official name for it yet?

CHRISTIAN DUNN: In a nutshell, the Print on Demand range is Black Library’s opportunity to not only bring back many of the out-of-print novels from our ten year back catalogue but also introduce new titles that we don’t think fit our main range but know that readers would like to see. Readers will be able to visit our website and order Print on Demand titles just as they would any other Black Library title. The only difference being that PoD titles are Trade Paperback format and they take slightly longer to ship than a regular title due to being made to order.

Because there’s very little difference to the reader in the way that they can order these titles and the look and feel of the finished books, we made the decision not to separately brand the PoD line. PoD titles will be flagged as such on the website so that readers know that the book they’ll receive will differ slightly from the Black Library books that they’ve been used to, but we won’t be calling the range anything fancy.

However, we are branding some of the books within the PoD range as ‘Heretic Tomes’. One of the great opportunities with PoD is to bring back older titles – some of which even pre-date Black Library – that no longer accurately reflect the Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000 universes. These are the kind of novels that we wouldn’t want to put on the shelves of a Games Workshop or bookstore because anybody unfamiliar with Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000 might get the wrong idea and come away with an inaccurate picture of our fictional universes. They’re all still great stories though, so badging them as Heretic Tomes allows us to get the books back into the hands of fans but also tip them off that the background and IP might be a bit different from what they’re used to. The first Heretic Tome – the first of our PoD releases in fact – is Ian Watson’s Space Marine which has been OOP for at least fifteen years but has consistently been one of the most requested titles for us to reprint. I know Ian’s very happy for it to be coming back into print as he mentions it to me every time I see him at a convention!

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SF/F Adaptations – The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

My wife and I went to see Avatar the week that it came out, and we both enjoyed it tremendously. It was big and beautiful and exciting and fun. And if the plot was a little predictable, and if the characters were a little flat, there are worse things. I was excited just to see some big space opera happening on a movie screen again. Full of color and aliens and emotions besides scowls.

But as we were walking out of the theater, there was one thing which had caught and held my attention, and it was something specific which was missing from the ending credits.

Avatar, of course, wasn’t adapted from anything. It came out of James Cameron’s head.

(We can argue, of course, that it was adapted from Pocahontas, perhaps, and fair enough, but you get my point).

The reason this interested me is, nearly everything that hits the theaters is adapted from something.

“Based on the comic book series by Alan Moore”, “based on the television series created by Gene Roddenberry”, “based on the series of words-put-in-rows by Stephanie Meyer”… And we can go further afield than that: “based on the newspaper strip by Jim Davis”, “based on the action figure G.I. Joe”, for haven’s sakes.

The only thing we haven’t yet seen adapted are breakfast cereal mascots. Get Michael Bay to produce a Cap’n Crunch movie. Give it a techno soundtrack and you’ve got a summer blockbuster.

We know that the vast majority of things Hollywood produces are adaptations, because people comment on it fairly regularly, both on the street and in interviews. “Hollywood just rehashes everything, they’ve run out of original ideas,” is neck-in-neck with the other common grumble, “MTV doesn’t play any damn music videos now.”

Adaptations are such a fact of life, something like Avatar – or, another sterling example, any of the perfect pieces of cinematic artwork created by Pixar – catches our attention for sheer fact that it isn’t based off anything at all.

So with that in mind, let’s examine adaptations a little further.

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SF Signal Welcomes Andrew Liptak!

We’re pleased to welcome Andrew Liptak to our army of SF Signal Irregulars. As is customary, we asked Andrew to write about himself in the third person, here’s what he wrote:

Andrew Liptak is a longtime science fiction fan, and writes regularly at Words in a Grain of Sand on any number of topics, namely speculative fiction and history. He currently holds a degree in History and a master’s degree in Military History from Norwich University, and resides in the green (or white, depending on the season) mountains of Vermont with a growing library of books.

Welcome, Andrew!

While Andrew is ordering us bagels, a custom that I maintain will one day yield me actual bagels, check out his review of WE by John Dickinson.

REVIEW: WE by John Dickinson

REVIEW SUMMARY: A noble attempt to create a hard-science fiction novel for the young adult market.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Paul Munro is a communications specialist who is sent off to a distant moon to try and discover why the base is having issues with communications between it and Earth. While there, he sees humanity for what it has really become.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Author John Dickinson has some ingredients to a good novel here: a strong theme of changes in how society functions runs through the novel as Munro looks back on Earth and adapts to his new home, coupled with some hard science fiction that helps give the novel some framework in which to work.

CONS: WE is undermined by sloppy writing, poor, wooden characters and a plot that ultimately isn’t satisfying.

BOTTOM LINE A young adult novel with an interesting premise, but one that is undermined by its execution.

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Night Shade Books has published the table of contents for the upcoming collection Fritz Leiber: Selected Stories, edited by Jonathan Strahan (who reflects on the book’s creation) and Charles N. Brown:

  1. Introduction by Neil Gaiman
  2. “Smoke Ghost”
  3. “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes”
  4. “Coming Attraction”
  5. “A Pail of Air”
  6. “A Deskful of Girls”
  7. “Space Time for Springers”
  8. “Ill Met in Lankhmar”
  9. “Four Ghosts in Hamlet”
  10. “Gonna Roll the Bones”
  11. “The Inner Circles” (aka “The Winter Flies”)
  12. “America the Beautiful”
  13. “Bazaar of the Bizarre”
  14. “Midnight by the Morphy Watch”
  15. “Belsen Express”
  16. “Catch That Zeppelin!”
  17. “Horrible Imaginings”
  18. “The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars”

Sadly, I’ve only read three of these stories — but I have fond memories of all of them. Seems like a good time to catch up, eh?

The winners of our Shadow Conspiracy eBook giveaway have been notified:

  • Andy D.
  • Jessica R.

Congratulations!

Thanks to everyone who entered.

SF Tidbits for 2/25/10

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This week’s Mind Meld topic was suggested by John Klima. We asked this week’s panelists (including John):

Q: Which SF/F/H book do you love that everyone else hates? Which SF/F/H book do you hate that everyone else loves?

Here’s what they said…

Farah Mendlesohn
Farah Mendlesohn used to edit Foundation, the International Review of Science Fiction, is the President of the International Association of the Fantastic of the Arts, and is about to send McFarland a Manuscript about Children’s and Teen science fiction. She has read around 400 of these books so you don’t have to.

Gene Wolfe’s Wizard-Knight. As far as I am concerned this was like reading C.S.Lewis writing Conan the Barbarian. I was mostly repulsed by the ethics, and while I quite understand that this was meant to be a juvenile wet dream of muscular morality, that doesn’t mean I need to read it. The frightening thing was that when I presented this analysis to several well known critics, they agreed with me, and then went on to explain why it was a work of genius.

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New Star Wars eBook in the Suvudu Free Book Library

The Suvudu Free Book Library has been updated with a new title: Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith: Paragon by John Jackson Miller available in ePub/Stanza, Mobi/Palm/Kindle, and RTF formats.

Here’s the book description:

The ruthless cunning of the Sith Order has served the shipwrecked crew of the Omen well on the alien planet Kesh. Subjugating the superstitious Keshiri race by posing as its fabled overlords has ensured the Sith’s survival — while they struggle in secret to return to the stars. But after fifteen years on their adopted world, some among the lost tribe have grown restless and fearful that assimilation will consume their Sith heritage. Now, as rival factions begin to appear, a shocking disaster throws into doubt the Sith’s future on Kesh.

In the distant city of Tetsubal, the entire native populace is suddenly wiped out by a grisly plague of unknown origin. With terrifying speed, more cities succumb to the mysterious contagion. Only the Sith remain unharmed — so far. And as Sith commander Yaru Korsin grapples with the looming loss of the paradise he rules and the race his people have come to depend upon, he must confront the dark possibility that the catastrophe may not be cruel fate but insidious sabotage.

VIDEO: Joe Hill Talks About His New Novel ‘Horns’

[via Robots and Vamps]

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