Author Archive

The Connections of Judith Merril

One of the things that I’ve found distinctly interesting about the Golden Age of SF is how the authors shape the field that they’re in, but also how much one can extrapolate a larger picture out of an author’s life. An excellent example of this is Judith Merril, through whom one can find an excellent viewpoint of the shifts in publishing, as well as a number of similarly-high-profiled authors writing at the same time.

Go read The Connections of Judith Merril over on the Kirkus Reviews Blog.

REVIEW SUMMARY: A fantastic hour and a half of SF television.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A body falls out of the sky in the Canadian Arctic and sparks an international firestorm in a post-oil world.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Fantastic plotting, acting and potential.
CONS: Never picked up for a series.
Read the rest of this entry

REVIEW SUMMARY: A detailed, definitive biography on the life of Robert Heinlein.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The first of two volumes of Robert Heinlein’s life.

MY REVIEW
PROS: Detailed; exhaustive.
CONS: Volume 2 is still in the works.
BOTTOM LINE: A comprehensive and serious look at an author’s life and legacy.

I received a copy of Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve following its publication in 2010, intending on reading and reviewing it then. After cracking it open and starting it, I… stopped. There’s no good reason for this; it’s detailed, interesting, and does much to shed light on a very notable author in the science fiction community. But, it’s a dense read, and not really something that’s conducive to sitting down and reading cover to cover. I set the book aside at one point, intending to return shortly thereafter, and the break stretched out.
Read the rest of this entry

REVIEW: Defiance (Pilot Episode)

REVIEW SUMMARY: A promising return to form from the SyFy channel.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In 2046, the Earth has been radically transformed following the arrival of seven alien races and subsequent war between the newcomers and humanity. After the war, the town of Defiance springs up in the ruins of the old world.

PROS: Vivid, immersive new world with lots of potential.
CONS: Story, CGI are somewhat lacking.

After five years of development and a major media blitz, the SyFy Channel has released their latest tent pole show: Defiance. Following the cancellation of shows like Caprica and Stargate: Universe (not to mention the failure to pick up Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome), the channel has a new space-based show. There’s a lot to like here: There’s aliens! Frontier-like settings! Lasers! Drama! A cynical hero! Amongst it all, the network that’s been known for its space shows, such as Stargate SG-1/Atlantis/Universe, Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, and others, finally has something that directly appeals to the fans who have been missing their fix of the prime-time Science Fiction drama that’s been missing from the airwaves for so many years.
Read the rest of this entry

I came across an interesting tidbit a while ago, while reading something about Robert Heinlein: he served as a researcher during World War II, alongside fellow SF authors Isaac Asimov and L. Sprague de Camp. At the NAES, they all worked on various experimental projects, working in the high-tech, cutting edge of R&D that’s so often portrayed in the genre at the time. It’s a neat story, one that tells quite a bit about each of the authors.

Read all about it over on Kirkus Reviews: Asimov, de Camp and Heinlein at the Naval Air Experimental Station.

Leigh Brackett’s Planetary Romances

When I was writing about C.L. Moore a couple of weeks ago, I came across a familiar name several times: Leigh Brackett, another female author writing during the Golden Age of SF. She had a fascinating career as both a short story author, novelist and screenwriter.

Want to know more? Read about Leigh Brackett’s Planetary Romances over on Kirkus Reviews.

Isaac Asimov and the Three Laws of Robotics

Of all the works of his career, Isaac Asimov’s Robot stories are perhaps some of his best known works. Spanning short stories, novellas, centuries and even genres, his fiction helped change the perceptions of robots in science fiction.

Go read Isaac Asimov and the 3 Laws of Robotics over on Kirkus Reviews.

This was a surprise: Early on Wednesday, Entertainment Weekly broke the news that Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars, was launching a Kickstarter project to bring his character to the big screen. Within hours, the project amassed $900,000 (as of the start of my writing this), and it looks as though we’re going to have a new Veronica Mars production. It’s exciting news for fans of the show, with its pop-culture references, smart characters and great stories. The project, according to Thomas, aims to raise $2 million in the next 30 days, which will finance the production of the movie. Warner Brothers, which owns the rights, will handle the distribution, production and promotion of the film, with a limited theater run and online VOD release. What’s interesting about this project is that it’s the latest in a crowd of projects that seem to be gaining a new lease on life with the help of its fan bases.
Read the rest of this entry

Tom King is the author of the 2012 book, A Once Crowded Sky. (See the SF Signal Review.) Following the attacks on September 11th, King worked for the Central Intelligence Agency as an Operations Office. Prior to his service, he interned with Marvel and D.C. Comics. He recently had a moment to speak with us about his first novel:


SF Signal: Hi Tom, thanks for taking a couple of moments to speak with us! My first question is one you probably get a lot: how do you go from interning with comic book companies to the Central Intelligence Agency?

Tom King: The basic answer is 9/11. After the attacks, I was one of the millions of people who volunteered to help. The way I chose to do it was to apply to the CIA; I just figured they’d be the closest to the front lines. It was a new and righteous war. I wanted to be in it. I wanted to save the world. I was very young.
Read the rest of this entry

John Campbell, Jr. and Astounding Magazine

After working our way through the pulp era, it’s time to begin looking at the ‘Golden Age’ of Science Fiction. Many people felt that this movement began with John Campbell Jr.’s work at Astounding magazine, and there’s no better way to start off this movement than examining the magazine that helped bring science fiction out of the pulp magazines.

Go Read John Campbell Jr. and Astounding Magazine over on Kirkus Reviews.

The Many Names of Catherine Lucille Moore

Catherine Lucielle Moore was one of the earlier female authors to have been writing within the genre, with her first stories published in the early 1930s to a great success. Her career and life was a fascinating one: her own beginnings in the magazines, to her marriage with Henry Kuttner and their subsequent collaboration

Today at the Kirkus Reviews blog, you can read up on The Many Names of Catherine Lucille Moore.

BOOK REVIEW: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole

REVIEW SUMMARY: A great follow up to Control Point.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Following the events of Control Point, Col. Alan Bookbinder finds himself reassigned to FOB Frontier after finding that he’s a Latent. Once there, the base comes under attack, and he must lead the entire base to safety, aided by the man who put the base in danger in the first place.

PROS: A solid improvement from Control Point, with a fantastic set of new characters.
CONS: Pacing.

Myke Cole’s debut novel was a fun story, a blend of magic in the real world, and the military’s response to a justifiably complicated problem. Where Control Point took on the coming of age / learning to control one’s powers style of story (See Harry Potter, The Magicians, Name of the Wind, Circle of Magic, etc), the second novel in the Shadow Ops series takes on the Quest story that’s so popular in fantasy, and completely succeeds. Fortress Frontier is a second novel, and shows that Cole hasn’t experienced a sophomore slump.

Read the rest of this entry

The internet is abuzz with the possible news that J.J. Abrams will be directing the newly announced Star Wars Episode VII. Ever since the announcement that Disney had acquired LucasFilm Limited, a parade of potential contenders have surfaced among fansites: Matthew Vaughn, Steven Spielberg, Neill Blomkamp, Alfonso Cuarón, Darren Aronofsky, Joss Whedon, Jon Favreau, Joseph Kosinski, Colin Trevorrow, J. J. Abrams, Brad Bird and Rian Johnson. Out of that list, there are some who are better candidates than others – and Abrams is in the top tier, and appears to be the one.

Consider his resume: He’s managed several highly successful television shows: LOST, Alias, Fringe, and Felicity (the first two of which belonged to ABC, which is in turn owned by Disney), and a number of highly successful films: Mission Impossible III, Super 8, and Star Trek (with the second Star Trek: Into Darkness, coming out this year). His name is invariably attached to a huge list of other projects at any given time.

Read the rest of this entry

Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Moons of Mars

In my previous Kirkus Reviews column, I talked about E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith and his stories that kickstarted Space Opera. This week, we’re going back a little further and looking at pulp author Edgar Rice Burroughs, and the characters for which he’s known: John Carter and Tarzan.

Go read Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Moons of Mars over on the Kirkus Reviews blog.

The Amazing Adventures of E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith

Space Opera is said to have begun with a fellow known as E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith.  Last time we talked about science fiction, we left with Hugo Gernsback and his contributions to the genre, and between his work and the beginnings of John W. Campbell’s Golden Age, Smith’s a major figure to look at. He’s a fascinating character, and his contributions to the genre deserve quite a bit more notice.

In a lot of ways, Smith invented the intergalactic space opera, from which so many well known books, television shows and films owe their existence. 

Read up on The Amazing Stories of E.E. Doc Smith over on the Kirkus Reviews blog.

In December 2011, we had a week where three movie trailers hit the web: The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit and Prometheus. They looked stunning: these were perfectly crafted marketing tools from films with slick visuals, a promising story, and an unheard of amount of hype around their production. 2012 was shaping up to be an incredible movie year. The Avengers looked quite good good, although it’s trailer was released at a different point in time.

The thing is, in my opinion, none of these movies really held up to the hype. I liked them okay: The Dark Knight Rises was good, but not as good as The Dark Knight (my all-time favorite comic book film), The Hobbit was quite good, but it lingered in almost every scene when it didn’t need to, and Prometheus, well. I liked Prometheus for all the wrong reasons: it’s execution was pretty bad, even as it looked wonderful. The Avengers was the best of the lot, even if it felt like every moment was designed by committee. I fell to the trap of the film’s marketing departments, who knew just what worked to draw audiences to the theaters.

Read the rest of this entry

BOOK REVIEW: Star Wars and History edited by Nancy R. Reagin and Janice Liedl

REVIEW SUMMARY: A unique and interesting resource when looking at history.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Science Fiction tends to be closely linked with contemporary history in more ways than one would expect. In this collection of papers, historians examine the parallels between real-world history and the Star Wars franchise.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: A neat and interesting way of looking at history.
CONS: Oversteps its bounds at points.
BOTTOM LINE: Know a Star Wars fan who’s having trouble with history? This volume might be the best way to get them interested.

When I was in grade school, I had trouble reading early on: the books that I had for my classes weren’t doing it for me, and it wasn’t until my parents gave me a couple of youth mystery novels (Encyclopedia Brown and the Hardy Boys), that my appetite for reading was realized, and I began consuming books with an ever increasing pace. I bring this up because this was the first thing that sprang to mind while reading through this history text: this is THE book for any kid in high school who’s struggling with the basics of history, and simply needs to look at it in a different light.

Star Wars and History examines various types of real-world history by comparing it to the events in the Star Wars franchise, and for the most part it works. As a fan of George Lucas’s franchise and as a professional historian, the mere existence of this book is exciting, because it combines two passions. On the face of it, it looks like a bit of a strange mash up much like those Victorian era novels juxtaposed with zombies or androids. But, the book reaffirms my belief that science fiction is an inherently political and relevant genre at the time of it’s creation: Star Wars being no exception. Cobbled together from a variety of source material, this book links a number of connections between the franchise and the real world. The topics are pretty far reaching, too: subjects such as insurgency and rebellion are covered, women in warfare, the American Civil War, leaders and power, trade and a whole host of others.

Read the rest of this entry

T.H. White’s “Once and Future King”

Recently, T.H. White’s novel The Once and Future King has appeared on my radar quite often, in no small part due to fantasy author Lev Grossman’s repeated efforts to raise its profile. For all the attention that White’s book has received over the years, there’s been little about White himself.

Check out T.H. White’s “Once and Future King” over on the Kirkus Reviews blog.

The Hobbit is upon us. The deluge of marketing was compounded by word that Peter Jackson managed to work out a third film, turning the Hobbit into the Lord of the Rings Prequel Trilogy. If there’s anything that I’ve learned this year, it’s that the SF movie world is turning me more cynical, especially when one is at the receiving end of marketing that really has a disconnect from the finished product.
Read the rest of this entry

REVIEW SUMMARY: A redundant and uninteresting read.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Jack Casey, retired soldier in England’s collaborator army, is brought back to track down a renegade friend in a reverse-colonization novel set in England.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Writing is solid, flows well.
CONS: Boring, redundant, and elements of racism present.

Land of Hope and Glory by Geoffrey Wilson takes its name from the patriotic British song that most Americans would recognize as Pomp and Circumstance (if you’ve ever sat through a graduation, you’ll know it). The association here is linked to a tightly nationalistic one, where a country’s people can band together under a common appreciation for the simple fact that they live within the same borders as one another. Never mind that this is an enormously complicated issue, one that seems to be the driving force behind the first book in this series. In an alternative history, magic is present in the world, and in a stunning twist of fate, England has been colonized by India, where the English find themselves under harsh foreign rule.

Read the rest of this entry

 Page 3 of 8 « 1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »