Tube Bits for 02/13/2008

  • Popular Mechanics looks at the lightning induced helicopter crash from last week’s episode of LOST and determines: Totally couldn’t happen. I know! Ubelievable! Tune in each Friday for Popular Mechanic’s LOST watch, where experts weigh in on the Sci Fi vs. Reality on the show. (Notice how PopMech subtly describes LOST as science fiction)
  • We know that many TV shows are shot in Vancouver, and with the strike now over, shows are staffing up again, but it will take some time to get back in the full swing. Galactica‘s production office has started adding staff. It’s only a matter of time until the last episodes are shot. Unfortunately, Vancouver’s economic hit was an estimated $100 millions dollars (as it’s a Canadian newspaper, I’m assuming that means Canadian dollars).
  • ABC has picked up 9 shows for next season. Of interest to genre fans, this includes LOST (duh) and Pushing Daisies (yay!).
  • Wondering when Galactica‘s final episodes will air, now that they are staffing up to shoot them (see above)? Buddy TV wonders the same thing. As it turns out, the writer’s strike may give Sci Fi the reason to follow through with their previously rumored decision: to split season 4 in half, and air the last 10 in 2009. The bastages.
  • The Extra Life comic strip brings us little known downsides of the writer’s strike. Thank goodness it’s over! The horror!

Filed under: Tube Bits

I’m an avid fan of short fiction for many reasons, so a Mind Meld question about short fiction seemed to be in order. Trying to skirt around the futility of the “short fiction is dying” rhetoric (though learning something about that in the process) I asked a handful of Editors, some of them authors as well, to comment on the purpose of short fiction. The responses reaffirm my belief that short fiction can be every bit as entertaining – if not more so – than novel length stories…

Q: Despite the cries of the ever-impending death of short fiction, it’s still thriving. But what purpose does short fiction truly serve to writers and readers?

Here are the responses…feel free to chime in.

Gardner Dozois
Gardner Dozois was the editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine for twenty years, and is still the editor of the annual The Year’s Best Science Fiction anthology series. He’s the author or editor of over a hundred books, has won fifteen Hugo Awards for his editing, and two Nebula Awards and a Sidewise Award for his own writing.

For readers, short fiction provides a lot more stuff to READ–and it’s still where the majority of readers find new writers whose work they enjoy. It’s easier to invest a half-hour or less in reading something by a writer you may end up not liking than it is to invest days reading a novel. Cheaper, too. If a reader finds a writer he really responds to, whether in a magazine or in a Best of the Year collection, the first thing they usually do is to go out and look more work by that author; SF is a very name-oriented field. Eventually, they may end up ordering novels by those writers, if they have novels–but it was short fiction that set the hook. For writers, short fiction is still the easiest way to break into print, especially in an era where many publishing houses no longer read their slush piles at all, turning novel manuscripts around in the mail room without any editor ever getting a look at them. Because the turnover is high, short fiction markets, whether e-zines or traditional print magazines, need to be continually finding good new writers, which means that they actually have to READ their slush piles, as opposed to just “dealing with” them. Even today, the best way to break in and establish a professional reputation is to write and sell lots of strong short fiction. The book editors keep an eye on what’s happening in the short-story market, and once a buzz begins to generate among short-fiction readers about the work of a particular author, they frequently then swoop in and offer that writer novel contracts–which may make them too busy to write short fiction, which is why you need the constant turnover. (There are writers who continue to make time to write short fiction even when they could be making more money writing novels, though, simply because they LOVE writing it.) Charles Stross is a good example. He wrote several novels that he was totally unable to sell, but after he started selling a lot of short fiction to markets like Asimov’s and Interzone, and it started generating a lot of buzz among readers, novel editors swooped down on him, and he’s not only sold a number of novels since, he’s retroactively sold many of the ones he’d written before and was unable to sell.

It’s also easier to get away with radical experimentation in short fiction than it is in the novel market, too, which is one reason why some writers continue to write it even after they’re established enough to sell novels instead. It’s a lot less risky, and expensive, for a magazine editor to take a chance publishing an experimental story in a magazine, where if the audience doesn’t like it, they’ve still got five or six other stories to read and not feel cheated, than it is to publish an experimental novel, where there’s a LOT more money at risk if it should fail.

Since these arguments apply just as well to the online world as they do to the print world, I don’t see any of this changing dramatically anytime soon.

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Filed under: Mind Meld

Clone Wars Coming To Theaters

LucasFilm animation is releasing Star Wars: Clone Wars in theaters August 15th. The computer animated film takes place between episodes II and III (or as I like to call them “sand” and “lava”). Sez USA Today:

Director Dave Filoni says the film delves into the wartime exploits of Anakin Skywalker, who later becomes Darth Vader, and his mentor/friend Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s about “the mission they are sent on, which brings them together as a mentor and student.”

Following the film in the fall is a new TV series that, Filoni says, “looks at the larger scope of the war and covers many characters and cultures.”

The TV series, set to show on the Cartoon Network and TNT, should not be confused with the short Clone cartoon clips shown earlier on CN. Some episodes even delve into the lives of the cloned warriors, who previously seemed interchangeable. As the live-action prequels revealed, the clones are reproductions of the bounty hunter Jango Fett, father of fan-favorite Boba Fett, himself a clone of his “father.”

“We have the chance to do an episode just about the clones and explore their personalities, which may be more unique than a lot of fans think,” Filoni says. “We also have the chance to use the many different Jedi, who we’ve only glimpsed in the features, which is exciting.” has a video preview and behind-the-scenes look at the computer animated film, featuring Supervising Director Dave Filon.

[via USA Today]

Filed under: Star Wars

Rich Horton has finalized the table of contents for his annual science fiction anthology…

Science Fiction: The Best of the Year: 2008 Edition

  1. “Dark Integers” by Greg Egan
  2. “A Plain Tale From Our Hills” by Bruce Sterling
  3. “An Eye for an Eye” by Charles Coleman Finlay
  4. “Always” by Karen Joy Fowler
  5. “An Ocean is a Snowflake, Four Billion Miles Away” by John Barnes
  6. “Virus Changes Skin” by Ekaterina Sedia
  7. “Wikiworld” by Paul Di Filippo
  8. “Artifice and Intelligence” by Tim Pratt
  9. “Jesus Christ, Reanimator” by Ken MacLeod
  10. “Night Calls” by Robert Reed
  11. “Everyone Bleeds Through” by Jack Skillingstead
  12. “Art of War” by Nancy Kress
  13. “Three Days of Rain” by Holly Phillips
  14. “Brain Raid” by Alexander Jablokov
  15. “For Solo Cello, Op. 12″ by Mary Robinette Kowal
  16. “Perfect Violet” by Will McIntosh
  17. “Vectoring” by Geoffrey Landis
  18. “The Skysailor’s Tale” by Michael Swanwick

Filed under: Books

TOC: Fantasy: The Best of the Year (2008 Edition) edited by Rich Horton

Rich Horton has finalized the table of contents for his annual fantasy anthology…

Fantasy: The Best of the Year: 2008 Edition

  1. “Unpossible” by Daryl Gregory
  2. “Light” by Kelly Link
  3. “The Teashop” by Zoran Zivkovic
  4. “The Rope” by Noreen Doyle
  5. “Buttons” by William Alexander
  6. “Brother of the Moon” by Holly Phillips
  7. “A Diorama of the Infernal Regions” by Andy Duncan
  8. “Heartstrung” by Rachel Swirsky
  9. “Something in the Mermaid Way” by Carrie Laben
  10. “Public Safety” by Matthew Johnson
  11. “Stray” by Benjamin Rosenbaum and David Ackert
  12. “The Comb” by Marly Youmans
  13. “Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go to War Again” by Garth Nix
  14. “The Last Worders” by Karen Joy Fowler
  15. “Singing of Mount Abora” by Theodora Goss
  16. “Save Me Plz” by David Barr Kirtley
  17. “Bufo Rex” by Erik Amundsen
  18. “The Master Miller’s Tale” by Ian R. MacLeod
  19. “The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairy Tale of Economics” by Daniel Abraham

Filed under: Books

Wednesday YouTube: Robot Commando!

Here’s a 1960’s television commercial for Robot Commando, a voice-activated robot that “takes orders from no one…except you!”

[via Laughing Squid, who has a couple more 1960's Sci-Fi Toy Commercials]

Filed under: Games

SF Tidbits for 2/13/08

Filed under: Tidbits

February 14th To Be Renamed ‘IJ 4′ Day

That’s because, on February 14th, the new Indiana Jones trailer will debut. First, it will air on Good Morning America (WTF?) between 8am and 9am, and thereafter, it will be available on the official web site as well as appear in theaters.

And what movie would be opening on February 14th that you might want to go see? Why, Jumper of course! Indy, Anakin and Mace Windu, what could be better? Go see it just for the trailer. Take your SO with you, just so you all won’t have ‘bad dates‘.

And to keep the excitement going, The Deadbolt has this cool article about the Indiana Jones 4 scripts that weren’t. They look at all the proposed scripts for the movie that were rejected for one reason or another. Of course, that doesn’t mean that ideas from them didn’t carry forward to the current movie, so proceed at your own risk.

Now, if you’ll excuse, I must go hum the Raiders and annoy my co-workers.

Filed under: Movies

Can You Name This Story?

Despite the awesome reputations we’ve built up as science fiction gurus with a less-than-healthy appetite for supermodel posts, we do not know everything there is to know about science fiction. Occasionally we get email from folks desperately looking – they’d have to be to contact us – to remember the title of some mostly-forgotten story. We usually redirect them to sites that are more effective for this sort of thing (like the Asimov’s forum or MetaFilter) and send them on their merry way.

This time, I thought that we would additionally throw the questions out to our knowledgeable readers. (That’s you.)

Here’s a description we recently received:

Howdy! Help me remember a series of books I read in maybe 1975. They take place on another planet – or perhaps a moon? The whole society lives in the tops of enormous trees. I think there was something about green in the title. I don’t remember the author or the title. I remember loving them, and I want to find them again. They were probably written in the ’50s or ’60s.
- Roger W.

Can you name this story?

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Filed under: Books

William Shatner Sucks!

Now before all you Trek fans get up in arms, and I consider myself one, even if I’m not as ardent a fan as I once was, this sentiment is not mine. It was voiced by none other then Captain Kirk himself in an interview for his video blog (via The Telegraph). The money quote:

“I never watched Star Trek.”

“I have not even seen any of the Star Trek movies. I don’t watch myself.

“When I direct and have to look at filmed scenes of myself, I suck.”

Ouch. He also stated he has never seen any of the films or episodes of the TV series that propelled him to fame (and no, that’s not T.J. Hooker, who I hear is a good cop). You have to wonder if he’s watched any of his Emmy Award winning perfromances on Boston Legal. Is he really that uncomfortable about watching himself because he realizes his acting, especially in the original Trek, is a little over the top? And how hard can you defend him against his critics when he, himself says he ‘sucks’?

Filed under: Star TrekTV

REVIEW: Matter by Iain M. Banks


After a very long dry spell, the Culture is back in Iain M. Banks’ new novel, Matter. I’ll state upfront that I absolutely love Banks’ Culture novels. In fact, Use of Weapons currently holds the top spot in my ‘Most Favoritist Science Fiction Novels’ list, so you can imagine the glee with which I tore into Matter. And, for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed.

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Book Review

This brief scene from Star Trek: The Animated Series leads me to believe that Kirk is more than a little clueless on the whole Vulcan nerve pinch thing…

[via Poe TV]

Filed under: Star Trek

SF Tidbits for 2/12/08

  • The Canadian TV show Big Ideas features a fascinating talk by sf author Robert J. Sawyer (Rollback), who talks about the effect Hollywood has had on science fiction – which is to say that the social commentary has become watered down on the big screen. Any keynote address that starts “I’m mad at George Lucas!” deserves a listen… [via Futurismic, which has a brand new Editor -- Paul Raven]
  • A Dribble of Ink interviews Joe Abercrombie (The Blade Itself).
  • Bibliophile Stalker interviews Richard Dansky (Firefly Rain).
  • Adventures in Scifi Publishing interviews John Zakour and Brandon Sanderson. [via Locus Online]
  • Fast Forward TV interviews Kathleen Ann Goonan. [via SFF Audio]
  • Issue 12 of Apex Digest has been posted and features fiction from Sara King and Jason Sizemore; interviews with Jeremy Shipp, Sara King, and David Wong; and a handful of reviews.
  • Millionaire John Scalzi has some advice for writers: “Why am I offering this entirely unsolicited advice about money to new writers? Because it very often appears to me that regardless of how smart and clever and interesting and fun my fellow writers are on every other imaginable subject, when it comes to money — and specifically their own money — writers have as much sense as chimps on crack.”
  • Random House is to begin selling individual chapters of a popular book online…for 3 bucks a chapter. (Please don’t shoot the messenger…)
  • Topless Robot lists The 10 Lamest Cartoon Superheroes.
  • Over at SF Gospel, Gabriel McKee lists 10 Comic Book Characters Who Have Met God.

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits for 02/12/2008

  • The Terminator train just keeps on rolling. Just recently The Sarah Connor Chronicles has graced our TVs (mmm, Summer Glau), now we hear that a new Terminator trilogy is in the offing, to be directed by McG and starring Christian Bale as John Connor. It will take place in 2019 and will feature a darker feel than the previous movies.
  • ComicMix informs us that 70 years ago, the Brits created the first science fiction TV program, an adaptation of a section of the Karel Capek play “R.U.R.” Cool!
  • Damon Lindeloff, executive producer of LOST, lets us know that new episodes of LOST could begin airing after the current eight, and he also says: “I don’t see why we couldn’t deliver all eight remaining episodes.” Good news indeed for LOST fans.
  • Michael Cassutt, of The Cassutt Files over on Sci Fi Weekly, talks about science fiction spec scripts for TV, and why they may be in a slump. The big reason being that the two big, ongoing sci fi series, Heroes and LOST, make it difficult for writers to write something new within their serialized universe. Of course, he points out there is one show that is successful and not necessarily serialized: Dr. Who. Anyone looking to write a spec script should look there for their setting.

Filed under: Tube Bits

REVIEW SUMMARY: My desire to see the film has been considerably lessened.



BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Teenager David Rice, who can teleport at will, tries to figure out what to do with his talent.

PROS: Interesting premise; some good uses of the jumping ability; a quick read.

CONS: Lack of any clear antagonist; the plot seems to lose focus.

BOTTOM LINE: I had high hopes but came away underwhelmed.



BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Young Griffin O’Connor, who can teleport at will, is on the run from an evil group of jumper-killers.

PROS: Interesting premise; clear antagonists; a quick read.

CONS: The antagonists are without motive and not used to good effect; the plot loiters around while nothing interesting happens.

BOTTOM LINE: I suspect this might fare better if you saw the movie and liked the Griffin character.

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Filed under: Book Review

Is Heroes Worth Waiting For?

Short Answer: No.

Longer answer: Having been away from the show, I’ve had time to reflect. I realized that no show warrants the viewer frustration it put me through. I was weak and holding on to past glories. But no more. I was on the right track when I said that season 2 sucked. I have now decided what I could not commit to before, in my mid-season recap: I have officially jumped off the Heroes train. I believe it is destined to be a slow, regrettable decline to the end.

For those who think the recent grumblings of the writers’ strike ending means a magic ticket back to greatness, check out this Hollywood Insider column at Entertainment Weekly, which says, among other things:

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Filed under: Heroes

Tube Bits for 02/11/2008

  • Check out this really cool mighty-morphin Mach 5, based on the car from the upcoming Speed Racer movie. Yes, it says ‘6’ on the car. Apparently, the car has ‘6’ on it at some point in the film. This model comes complete with jump jacks and saw blades. Sadly, all the pre-orders are sold out. We’ll just have to wait until April for the release batch.
  • With the writer’s strike apparently over, you may be wondering the fate of your favorite shows. TV Guide [via Buddy TV] has a report on what you can expect. Short answer: LOST is on track for 14 episodes this ‘season’ (instead of 16), while fans of Chuck and Pushing Daisies will have to wait until the Fall for production to start again.
  • The new Trek movie opens this December, and some people aren’t happy. Apparently, they are tired of the current state of America’s space program, so they decided to whine to Paramount, via an online petition, to force Paramount to donate a portion of the new film’s earnings to various non-profit space exploration organizations. Their threat? We won’t see Trek XI on opening week! Take that, Paramount!
  • The latest Development Journal for the MMO Stargate Worlds pinpoints the time the game will take place in: Between seasons 8 and 9 of Stargate: SG-1. I’m more and more intrigued with this game, and I hope it brings something good to the MMO scene.
  • More casting news for J.J. Abrams’ new show, Fringe. Joshua Jackson, of Dawson’s Creek ‘fame’, has been tapped to play the male lead, genius high-school drop-out Peter Bishop, alongside female lead Anna Torv.

Filed under: Tube Bits

Amazon has had these non-fiction essays available for a while now, but these 18 shorts just popped up in feeds. I didn’t realize there were so many, and there are probably more…but for now, here’s a list of 18 of them with their descriptions. They are available in full for fifty cents each from Amazon.

by Robert Silverberg.

During my fifty years as a science-fiction writer I’ve often ventured into the invention of alternative worlds of possibility – history that never happened, but perhaps should have — which I find opens up the sort of infinite ranges of speculative thought that have made s-f so much fun for me. In this piece I explain what the science-fiction genre of :”alternative reality” is all about and show, step by step, how I went about creating the alternative world that was the basis of ROMA ETERNA, my most ambitious work in that form.

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Filed under: BooksScience and Technology

SF Tidbits for 2/11/08

Filed under: Tidbits

POLL RESULTS: Reading Young Adult Fiction

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Do you (or would you) read Young Adult fiction?


(124 total votes)

Nearly 72% of respondents do read young adult sf, and more than 98% of the repsondents are older than 18. Interesting… I voted yes because young adult fiction can be just as entertaining as any other fiction. David Gerrold’s Heinleinian Dingillian Family books spring to mind.

Comments this week:

“My wife and I both read some YA books. These come by two sources. Adapted to movies that spark our interest when we see the previews (Harry Potter & Golden Compass). Or recommended by my children or nieces.” – Rich Gombet

“I don’t always read YA, but sometimes it’s just nice to read something that deals with different issues than fiction geared to adults. Plus there are just some amazing YA authors, like Jane Yolen, Tamora Pierce and have you read Ursala Le Guinn’s latest? These books shouldn’t be read just by teens.” – Rachel

“What, no ‘maybe’? I answered ‘no,’ because as a general rule I don’t read or seek out YA fiction, genre or otherwise. But in fact I have read some (specifically, The Golden Compass and Philip K. Dick’s “Nick and the Glimmung”), and would probably read more depending on what it was and who wrote it.” – Gabriel Mckee

“I voted no as I enjoy compound sentences every now and again…” – platyjoe
[EDITOR: Ouch! and LOL!]

“Good fiction is good fiction, no matter who its target audience is or what genre it is. I for one love YA and think that if kids reading Harry Potter en-masse is your biggest problem, you really do not have problems.” – GeneralX

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about shows me miss because of the wroters’ strike!

Filed under: Polls

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