Friday YouTube: Alien Imposters

Similar in theme to Suburban Zombies, this promo video from Key & Peele is just as humorous…

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James A. Moore is the author of over twenty novels, including the critically acclaimed Fireworks, Under The Overtree, Blood Red, Deeper, the Serenity Falls trilogy (featuring his recurring anti-hero, Jonathan Crowley) and his most recent novels Blind Shadows, Seven Forges and the sequel The Blasted Lands.

The author cut his teeth in the industry writing for Marvel Comics and authoring over twenty role-playing supplements for White Wolf Games, including Berlin by Night, Land of 1,000,000 Dreams and The Get of Fenris tribe. He also penned the White Wolf novels Vampire: House of Secrets and Werewolf: Hellstorm. Moore’s first short story collection, Slices, sold out before ever seeing print. He has twice been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and spent three years as an officer in the Horror Writers Association, first as Secretary and later as Vice President. He currently lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia.

James was kind enough to chat with me about his newest book, ALIEN: SEA OF SORROWS!


Kristin Centorcelli: James, your new book in the Alien ‘verse, ALIEN: SEA OF SORROWS just hit the shelves. Will you tell us a little about it?

James A. Moore: Well, it’s a bit of a twist, I think. 20th Century Fox had a few ideas for expanding the universe and ALIEN: SEA OF SORROWS comes from one of those ideas. The story is linked into two other stories that take place a LONG time before SEA does. In this case a planet with a xenomorph infestation is encountered by Ellen Ripley (In the excellent ALIEN: OUT OF THE SHADOWS by Tim Lebbon) and the planet is left and abandoned. And a few centuries later a descendant of Ellen Ripley is working with the crew to find out why there are still some problems with the terraforming that was done to the planet. Ripley was marked by Aliens when she wreaked havoc on the planet and the remaining xenomorphs catch one whiff of our here’s blood and immediately recognize him as a descendant. When Weyland-Yutani catches hold of that fact, the fun begins. Rest assured, Weyland_Yutani is back with a vengeance and they still have plans for the aliens.
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Alex Dally MacFarlane lives in London, where she is pursuing a MA in Ancient History. When not researching ancient gender and narratives, she writes stories, found in Clarkesworld Magazine, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer and the anthologies The Mammoth Book of Steampunk and The Other Half of the Sky. Poetry can be found in Stone Telling, Goblin Fruit, The Moment of Change and Here, We Cross. She is the editor of Aliens: Recent Encounters, out in June 2013 from Prime Books, and The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women, due out in late 2014.


Kristin Centorcelli: Alex, will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
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A.C. Wise is the author of numerous short stories appearing in print and online in publications such as Clarkesworld, Apex, Lightspeed, and the Best Horror of the Year Vol. 4. In addition to her fiction, she co-edits The Journal of Unlikely Entomology, an online magazine devoted to fiction and art about bugs. Follow her on twitter as @ac_wise.

Aliens Among Us: Speculative Fiction and Bugs

by A.C. Wise

It should come as no surprise that bugs – whether you stick to the scientific definition of “true bugs” or go with the broader, popular definition of all things creepy and crawly – are the perfect source of inspiration for speculative fiction. Bugs are weird. They have too many eyes and too many legs. Most can walk on walls, some can walk underwater, and others on top of it. Ants can carry 10 to 50 times their body weight. Fruit flies, flour beetles, and waterbears can withstand massive doses of radiation (even more than cockroaches) and keep right on going.

Compared to humans, bugs essentially have super powers. They also have radically different social structures, life cycles, methods of reproduction, and means of communicating. When you look at close-up macro photographs of bugs, they barely look like they belong on the same planet as humans. Why wouldn’t an author drawn on their characteristics when building an alien race, or an entire alien world?
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Friday YouTube: Aliens in 60 Seconds

Although not re-enacted by bunnies, this 60-second, hand-drawn recap of Aliens is nonetheless fun.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

REVIEW SUMMARY: Wesley’s Chu’s debut novel is fast-paced, clever, and leaves you longing for the next installment.

MY RATING

When out-of-shape IT technician Roen Tan woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.

He wasn’t.

Wesley Chu’s debut novel follows tubby everyman Roen Tan on his quest to become something more than a single, overweight, low-level code monkey. What’s special about this story is that Tan’s evolution isn’t voluntary. He may end up saving the world, but he’ll have to be dragged into it. You see, there are these aliens, and they’re using our bodies as vessels to carry them around while they engage in a civil war…
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REVIEW: Trust by David Moody

REVIEW SUMMARY: A “slow invasion” story that reads quickly, but moves slowly.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A group of aliens stranded on Earth impact the small seaside town of Thatcham.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Interesting premise; quick-moving, to-the-point prose; reminds us that alien invasion stories don’t have to be stitched-together action sequences; wonderfully creepy final act.
CONS: Takes a while before the really good stuff happens, then it’s over; characters acting inconsistently or illogically.
BOTTOM LINE: A bit of a misfire from a talented writer.

When science fiction fans think of alien invasion, they tend think of the action-filled special effects spectacles shown in film. In literature, invasions are often meatier, usually offering a more personal look at the impact of our alien foes. The depiction is more complicated when the invasion is more subtle, like this one depicted by David Moody.
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There’s An Alien On Your Head!

I hate when this happens…
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What happens when dinosaurs have to defend the Earth against alien invasion? That’s the premise of the Dinosaurs vs. Aliens Motion Comic, a joint project between director Barry Sonnenfeld (Men In Black) and comic book writing legend Grant Morrison. Here’s the trailer for their new project, which will be available July 10th…

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Keith Brooke‘s first novel, Keepers of the Peace, appeared in 1990, since when he has published seven more adult novels, six collections, and over 70 short stories. For ten years from 1997 he ran the web-based SF, fantasy and horror showcase infinity plus, featuring the work of around 100 top genre authors, including Michael Moorcock, Stephen Baxter, Connie Willis, Gene Wolfe, Vonda McIntyre and Jack Vance. Infinity plus has recently been relaunched as an independent publishing imprint producing print and ebooks. His novel Genetopia was published by Pyr in February 2006 and was their first title to receive a starred review in Publishers Weekly; The Accord, published by Solaris in 2009, received another starred PW review and was optioned for film. His most recent novel, Harmony (published in the UK as alt.human), is a big exploration of aliens, alternate history and the Fermi paradox, published by Solaris in 2012. Writing as Nick Gifford, his teen fiction is published by Puffin, with one novel also optioned for the movies by Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish’s Caveman Films. He writes reviews for the Guardian, teaches creative writing at the University of Essex, and lives with his partner Debbie in Wivenhoe, Essex.


Eric Brown: So far this year you’ve published two books. Or is it three? First there was Strange Divisions and Alien Territories: The Sub-genres of Science Fiction; then there were Harmony and alt.human. Would you care to explain?

Keith Brooke: It’s actually only two books! Strange Divisions and Alien Territories is a non-fiction book about SF, published by Palgrave Macmillan in March. Harmony and alt.human are a single novel, going by different titles for the North American and UK markets.
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REVIEW: Ragamuffin by Tobias Buckell

REVIEW SUMMARY: Cybernetically strung-out freedom fighter leads a too-large cast in a too-small book that fires and…misses.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In Ragamuffin, Nashara is a last ditch effort, centuries in the making, to usurp the yoke of alien rule by the pirate-like force of terran traditionalists, that refuse to submit to the masters of humanity.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Technology; world building; unique.

CONS: Pacing; characterizations.

BOTTOM LINE: If you want something different, here you go. If you want something good with character and pacing, I advise to look elsewhere.

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REVIEW: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

REVIEW SUMMARY: Scalzi takes you on a speculative ride that is fast and rewarding.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The far future: Man has colonized the stars. And they’re hostile. Our solution: Fight back and fight first. Our recruits: Grandma and Grandpa. But not how you knew them. New and improved, like you’ve never seen or imagined.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Dialogue, humor, imaginative and well-used technology.

CONS: Lack of detail and jumps in time

BOTTOM LINE: Scalzi’s imagination and military prowess are superb, while working in a touching story that leaves you satisfied. And don’t worry…there is no Viagra.

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Aliens are a classic trope dating back to the earliest days of science fiction, so we asked this year’s panelists this question:

Q: What are some of the best aliens in science fiction? What makes them superior to other extraterrestrial creations?

Here’s what they said…

Tobias S. Buckell
Tobias S. Buckell is a Caribbean-born speculative fiction writer who grew up in Grenada, the British Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He has published stories in various magazines and anthologies. His novels include Crystal Rain, Sly Mongoose, Ragamuffin, and Halo: The Cole Protocol. He also has a short story collection titled Tides from the New Worlds.

I always thought the alien in The Thing was great, because at its heart, it deviated from the ‘actors with bumps on their forehead’ sort of approach you get in movies so much. A parasite, with some intelligence (it builds that spaceship out of spare parts), it really is quite a fun stretch that you don’t see too much of. It never communicates (language is already such a gulf between us, let alone something truly alien). You get a strong sense out of that movie that you’ve encountered something truly alien.

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Friday YouTube: An Aliens Rap Tribute

From the makers of RoboCop Rap!

Funny…I don’t remember Paul Reiser looking like an 80’s teenager when I first saw the film…

[via Geeks are Sexy]

AUDIO REVIEW: Aliens Rule edited by Allan Kaster

REVIEW SUMMARY: Another fine audio anthology from Infinivox

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A 3-CD set (totaling 224 minutes) that features a trio of science fiction audio stories involving aliens.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: All three stories are good;

CONS: None of these stories are what I would deem superb (not that that stopped them from appearing on Years Best lists an awards ballots)

BOTTOM LINE: A solid collection of science fiction audio stories that match the theme of alien rule.

The latest audio anthology collection from Infinivox is Aliens Rule edited by Allan Kaster. It’s a 3-CD set that features 224 minutes of narrated science fiction. The three unabridged stories included (1 novelette and 2 novellas) are themed around alien occupation. The stories are expertly narrated by familiar Infinivox voices Vanessa Hart and Tom Dheere. As with the other Infinivox titles I’ve reviewed (Mini-Masterpieces of Science Fiction and The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction, both also edited by Allan Kaster) this was an enjoyable experience overall as the stories were of good quality, their delivery was well done, and the audio format itself allowed me to squeeze in fiction when I was otherwise unable to.

Individual story reviews follow…

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SF Tidbits for 7/23/09

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