Do you like it hard?

Now that I have your attention (what, isn’t the title sensational enough for ya?) I have a question. Do you prefer your science fiction harder or softer? If you’re not sure what I mean, to me hard science fiction refers to books where there is a focus on technical accuracy, except for the fictional elements of course. The fiction is based on extrapolating from the known facts of today’s physics, chemistry, astronomy, etc.

I enjoy hard science fiction most, but don’t eschew the softer side. There are plenty of good books that aren’t based on reality as we know it at all and that works just fine for me. For example, I don’t think people would count Gene Wolfe as hard science fiction but I enjoy the heck out of almost all his writing.

But what about you? Do you demand hard science fiction? Maybe go so far as mundane science fiction?

SF Tidbits for 5/17/08

Tube Bits for 05/17/2008

It’s a sci-fi on Fox fest today, so get ready!

  • Fox seems to be the place this next season for science fiction on TV. To that end, Fox is trying something called “Remote-Free TV” for both Dollhouse and Fringe. Apparently this means that “both air with fewer commercials and fewer promotional spots for other Fox shows.” Well that certainly is good news as it should mean more time for each episode. And the less in-house promotion of Fox shows the better as far as I’m concerned.
  • SF Universe has a bit more information about Fox’s new SF series, Fringe and Dollhouse.
  • IO9 has the trailer for Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse posted for your perusal. Looks like the patented butt-kicking babe character Whedon is famous for. I’m sure some people will be unhappy with Dusku’s character.
  • Remember CBS’ vampire show Moonlight? Yeah, most people don’t which is why it was canned. However, the CW is in such desperate straights for programming that they might take on chance on reviving Moonlight for their ‘network’. Nothing says desperation more than reviving another networks canceled show. Then again, it would probably become the top-rated show on the CW, what with Smallville having problems.
  • EW.com lists TV’s best season finales. Several genre shows make the cut and remember, this is season finales, not series finales.
  • Here’s the trailer for ABC’s re-make of Life on Mars. Man, they’re playing up the cheesy aspects here, which is very disappointing as the original is tough and gritty, and not cheesy at all and thus, looks to be better than this.

This Week’s Freebies from Tor

Tor’s latest batch of freebies includes:

  • Free Book: Starfish by Peter Watts. (Links to HTML version. Those who sign up also get links to a PDF and MobiPocket version.)
  • Free Wallpaper: Jeff Jonescover art for the September 1970 issues of Amazing Science Fiction magazine.
  • Free Wallpaper: Bruce Jensen‘s cover art for Brass Man by Neal Asher.

The wallpapers are only available for one week, so don’t wait to snag ‘em.

REVIEW: The Last Book by Zoran Živković

REVIEW SUMMARY: A book about books for people who love books.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The patrons of an independent bookstore have been dropping dead, and it’s up to a bookish detective and a bookseller to find out why.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Told with a delightful sense of humor, this story appeals to the bibliophile in all of us. (I’m looking at you, John!)

CONS: The story is so short that sometimes it seems a little rushed, especially in the romance department.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s Umberto Eco for the rest of us.

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Friday YouTube: Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space

What’s more embarrassing than this video is remebering you used to watch it. [Looks up and to the right.] Did anyone else confuse the brown-haired dude with Shaggy? Zoinks!

[via Poe TV]

SF Tidbits for 5/16/08

Tube Bits for 05/16/2008

  • The LA Times has an interview with fanboy favorite Joss Whedon. He talks about the inspiration for Dollhouse and how pizza with Gouda can change your life.
  • Fox, which will be airing Dollhouse mid-next season, will be moving The Sarah Connor Chronicles to Mondays at 8pm ET. That’s early for network television, thus speculation is they may have to tone down the violence in the show, which means less Summer Glau @$$ kicking and less appeal. J.J. Abrams’ Fringe gets a sweet spot, Tuesday’s at 9pm, right after powerhouse, uh, House.
  • The Stargate Worlds MMO will be adopting a TV show development model for content releases after the initial launch. Basically, each release, think episode, will be given a certain amoung of time to be written/coded/tested, then released on specific schedules. By going with smaller content releases, they hope to keep their audience engaged and ensure a long life for the game. Despite not watching the shows, I’m interested in this game. Now to get into the closed beta…
  • In case anyone is still watching (I do), here is the trailer for tonight’s episode of Battlestar Galactica:

    How is Saul going to explain that?
  • It’s amazing what you can find on the inter/you-tubes. For instance, genre fans must have been very happy on Friday nights in the summer of….1966:

UK Releases UFO Archives

This week the government of the UK began releasing years worth of research officially done into UFOs. The focus of the research was to determine if the reported UFO was a threat to the security of the UK. Once determined not to be one, the research was dropped. Of course, this leaves many unanswered questions – specifically what exactly was the phenomena witnessed, if not a threat?

The documents contain records dating from around 1950 and are available online in The National Archives. Most records prior to 1962 were destroyed due to the cost of archiving the physical records, sadly. The information is being transferred from the Ministry of Defense to the National Archives over a four year period with this being the first dump – so there is more to come.

REVIEW: Implied Spaces by Walter Jon Williams

MY RATING:

To get a good sense of what Implied Spaces is about, I’ll let the back cover blurb speak for itself instead of a psuedo-synopsis:

Aristide, a semi-retired computer scientist turned swordsman, is a scholar of the implied spaces, seeking meaning amid the accidents of architecture in a universe where reality itself has been sculpted and designed by superhuman machine intelligence. While exploring the pre-technological world Midgarth, one of four dozen pocket universes created within a series of vast, orbital matrioshka computer arrays, Aristide uncovers a fiendish plot threatening to set off a nightmare scenario, perhaps even bringing about the ultimate Existential Crisis: the end of civilization itself. Traveling the pocket universes with his wormhole-edged sword Tecmesssa in hand and talking cat Bitsy, avatar of the planet-sized computer Endora, at his side, Aristide must find a way to save the multiverse from subversion, sabotage, and certain destruction.

Sounds cool, right? And, for the most part it is.

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Thursday YouTube: The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot

The intro from the cartoon based on the Frank Miller comic.

[via Poe TV]

SF Tidbits for 5/15/08

Tube Bits for 05/15/2008

  • Darth Mojo has an incredibly cool and detailed post covering the new and classic style Cylon Centurions, as seen in Razor. Check out all the robot goodness. There’s even a part 2 with even more stuff.
  • The re-make/adaptation madness continues. This time, Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock is being made into a live action…..musical. The music in FR works well with singing puppets, but live action? I’m scared and I like the Rock.
  • CBS has given the green light to three genre pilots for the fall season: The Ex List (something about Tarot cards and such, meh), Eleventh Hour (sounds X-Files-ish), and The Mentalist (which is a horrible name, but sounds like a modern day Sherlock Holmes. Why not go all they way and give us Hengis Hapthorn?).
  • The comic book franchise, Witchblade, is being turned into a live-action feature film. At least it isn’t a musical live-action, and hopefulyl sans Yancy Butler.
  • The fans of Jericho are, well, nuts. They’re at it again, only this time, the subject of their ire over the cancellation of Jericho isn’t CBS (you know, the network that canned the show) but Nielsen. Apparently, somehow, Nielsen failed to record all the people who, in fact, did watch the show. I guess Jericho can’t count Nielsen families among it’s demographics. Sorry guys, Jericho was axed because very people, Nielsen or otherwise, watched it. Time to move on.
  • And now for the visual portion of our Bits. First up, the teaser trailer for The X-Files: I Want to Believe:
  • And next, Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers Conquer the Universe! Awesome. [via The Daily Galaxy]:

MIND MELD: Young Adult SF/F Books That Adults Will Like, Too

Young Adult fiction is a hot topic at the moment, mostly brought on by John Scalzi’s recent post about YA genre classification. He mentions that some adult readers overlook YA sf/f, but some YA books may be equally enjoyed by even the most discerning adult reader. So we asked some folks:

Q: Which young adult sf/f titles, if any, would you recommend to an adult reader who would not otherwise consider reading YA fiction because they think it’s only suitable for kids?

For what it’s worth, the recommendation at the front of my mind (probably because I just read it) would be Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. And I wasn’t the only one…

Read on to see how our esteemed panel responded. And be sure to offer up your own suggestions!

John Scalzi
John Scalzi believes immersing one’s self daily in a vat of hand sanitizer will wash away all of one’s sins. And also, some dirt.

I think it’s no secret I’m a big fan of Scott Westerfeld’s work, but rather than recommend Scott’s wildly successful Uglies series, which really doesn’t need any more help, let me give a shoutout to one of his other books, Peeps. These days there are more “vampire reboot” sort of books than any one planet actually needs, but what makes Peeps worth the time is both the plot, and the every-other-chapter digressions into parasitology that actually manage to dovetail into the story Scott is telling. It’s clever, it’s exciting, and it’s good, and if you were handed the book without knowing where in the bookstore it was shelved, you wouldn’t know or care that it was YA.

Beyond this, my recommendation for titles is for adult readers to go into the YA section and do what they do in every other section of the bookstore: browse, damn it. Look at the covers and the jacket copy and maybe read a little of the book and just see if the book looks interesting to you. Oddly enough, it works as well in the YA section as it does everywhere else. Alternately, go to the library and ask the YA librarian to suggest some title. Oh, go on, you baby. You won’t be the first adult she’s recommended a YA book to in her life.

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Jeopardy 1999

From a 1979 SNL skit…

[via Paleo-Future]

SF Tidbits for 5/14/08

Superman: “Mechanical Monsters” (Pop-up Version)

Ideas I wish I thought of #317: Pop-up videos. Cool trivia and baseline humor…what a great combination!

“Mechanical Monsters” was inspiration for Kerry Conran’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I can certainly see the similarities…

[via Milk and Cookies]

Tuesday YouTube: Stanislaw Lem

A short movie about Stanislaw Lem, author of Solaris, The Cyberiad, and Tales of Pirx the Pilot.

[via Divers and Sundry]

SF Tidbits for 5/13/08

REVIEW: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

REVIEW SUMMARY: A great example of a “Young Adult” book that adults can thoroughly enjoy. Also serves as a great candidate to get teens hooked on science fiction.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Teenage hacker Marcus Yallow takes on the Department of Homeland Security after being falsely connected with a terrorist attack.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Gripping story; conveys the coolness of technology; thought-provoking issues about surveillance and freedom.

CONS: Story periodically stops for infodumps although, to be fair, they are necessary and entertaining.

BOTTOM LINE: A captivating book for readers of any age.

Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother is being met with lots of praise, and I was curious to see if it was justified. I went in with a little skepticism, but I have to say, this book quickly won me over. What I find interesting, though not surprising, is that the book is being marketed as young adult fiction yet it is easily as entertaining for adults.

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A science fiction blog featuring science fiction book reviews and with frequent ramblings on fantasy, computers and the web.