Friday YouTube: Shatner Meets Miss Piggy on a Plane

Bonus: Shatner’s quick jab at Buddy Hackett.

Filed under: Humor

SF Tidbits for 12/14/07

  • SciFi Scanner lists 5 Fun Facts About Richard “I Am Legend” Matheson.
  • Fantasybookspot interviews Paul Kearney (The Ten Thousand): “I don’t think epic fantasy has stagnated – far from it. It may have been close to sinking into a quicksand of cliché a few years back, but times have changed radically. Writers like Joe Abercrombie and Steve Erikson have given it a good hard kick up the ass, which was exactly what it needed. Now if only the prejudice against fantasy books with slighter thinner spines could be overcome, then we’d really be going places. The spectre of Tolkien still looms too large.”
  • Penguin continues their tour of sf sub-genres with a look at Alternate History.
  • Ray Bradbury wrote a play for Pasadena called “The Invisible Boy” about “a manipulative old woman who is searching for companionship and tries to adopt a relative as her son. In exchange, the boy gets to be invisible, but things don’t work out quite the way they’re planned.”
  • The Daily Galaxy looks at the airships of the future. Mmmm…airships…
  • Hone your holiday survival skills with this Introduction to Traditional Klingon Melee Weapons.

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 12/14/2007

  • DirecTV recently asked their viewers to list their HDTV favorites in several categories. Aside from giving us a reason to post a totally gratuitous picture of Jessica Alba, who won for ‘Hottest Celebrity in HD’, we might also mention that Heroes won for ‘Favorite Show in HD’. Has no one seen Galactica in HD? No contest. Maybe they were distracted by all that Alba.
  • TV Squad shows us the the official unveiling of the new KITT from the upcoming Knight Rider movie. Apparently, KITT will come in three flavors: a remote controlled version, the everyday Hero version, and the super duper high speed Attack version. All will be voiced by Will Arnett, who won’t come close to the smooth, dulcet tones of William Daniels.
  • Not content to sit on the sidelines, several former Trek actors joined the picketing writers outside of Paramount. The LA-ist has the pictures to prove it. Man, Brent Spiner looks old. And what’s up with George Takei’s smile? Scary.
  • Can’t get enough of Unionized striking in real life? Sy Fy Portal brings us Working Stiff and Unions on Sci-Fi TV. It’s long, but covers TV from the 60’s through to the present.
  • Just how hard of a ratings hit did NBC take this Fall season? It was so bad, they had to refund ad money to its advertisers. Usually, free ad spots are given as compensation for lower than expected ratings. At around $500k a pop, that’s not good news for NBC’s bottom line.
  • ABC seems content to damn the torpedoes, and will go ahead and start the new season of LOST in February, even with only 8 episodes in the can. Check out the new Season 4 trailer below. Is it February yet?

Filed under: Tube Bits

Judging A Movie By It’s Poster

We here at SF Signal love us some cool SF book covers, so should it be surprising that we (and by we I mean ‘me’) like cool SF movie posters? No! Recently we mentioned the worldwide posters for I Am Legend, which I thought were pretty cool.

In the past couple of days I’ve seen posters for three upcoming genre related movies, and I thought I’d look at them from the perspective of making someone interested in seeing the movie.

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Filed under: Movies

Wanna win a set of Kevin J. Anderson’s The Saga of Seven Suns series?

Orbit is running a contest with this juicy 6-book prize to celebrate the release of the latest in the series, Metal Swarm. (Read an excerpt from chapter one of Metal Swarm right here.)

To enter for a chance to win, just send an email to [orbit at hbgusa dot com] with the words “The Saga of Seven Suns” in the subject line. A winner will be randomly chosen from eligible entries on December 17th.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 12/13/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Terry Pratchett Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

Author Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s. He posted the news in an open letter to fans at Paul Kidby’s Discworld News:

Folks,

I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s, which lay behind this year’s phantom “stroke”.

We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there’s time for at least a few more books yet :o)

Terry Pratchett

PS I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as ‘I am not dead’. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think – it’s too soon to tell. I know it’s a very human thing to say “Is there anything I can do”, but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.

[via Boing Boing and elsewhere]

Filed under: Books

Tube Bits For 12/12/2007

  • Film.com wonders Why Can’t Stargate Atlantis Be Better? I’m sorry to say I can’t help there. None of the various Stargate shows have done anything for me. Maybe someone else can help.
  • Jay at Geekend describes exactly when Trekkers jumped the shark. That’s Trekkers, and not the show. He makes a very convincing case for The Klingon Dictionary. But I feel the Klingon language redeemed itself somewhat as Chuck (from Chuck) used Klingon to talk to his friend so the rogue CIA people couldn’t understand what they were talking about.
  • TV-Spoilers has in interview with Summer Glau about the upcoming The Sarah Conner Chronicles. TSCC two day premiere stars on January 13th.
  • BuddyTV offers us a spoilery look at season 2 of Jericho. With only 7 episodes to work with, the story line will have to be resolved quickly. Can it gain a larger audience? We’ll see.
  • Did you know there was a Star Trek manga? Me either. Sci Fi Japan has a nice review of it and it actually looks rather cool.

Filed under: Tube Bits

REVIEW: The Gist Hunter and Other Stories by Matthew Hughes

REVIEW SUMMARY: A fine collection that surpasses most anthologies in entertainment value.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: 13 short stories, 9 of which are set in Hughes’s Archonate universe (comprised of 6 Henghis Hapthorn stories and 3 Guth Bandar stories).

MY REVIEW:

PROS: 11 stories good or better, 5 of them outstanding; the Hapthorn stories make me want more.

CONS: 2 stories in the mediocre range.

BOTTOM LINE: A very good collection of science-fantasy stories that offers an enjoyable introduction to the Archonate universe and its creator.

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Filed under: Book Review

SF Tidbits for 12/12/07

  • Grasping for the Wind interviews John Joseph Adams (Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse). “…post-apocalyptic fiction seems to be part of the zeitgeist right now. I mean, you’ve got Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road not only winning the Pulitzer Prize, but appearing as an Oprah Book Club selection! If that’s not a sign of the apocalypse, I don’t know what is.”
  • This I Believe has Robert A. Heinlein reading his essay Our Noble, Essential Decency. “I believe that this hairless embryo with the aching oversized braincase and the opposable thumb–this animal barely up from the apes–will endure, will endure longer than his home planet, will spread out to the other planets–to the stars and beyond–carrying with him his honesty, his insatiable curiosity, his unlimited courage, and his noble essential decency. This I believe with all my heart.” [via Locus Online]
  • Penguin continues its look at the sub-genres of speculative fiction with this post on Military SF.
  • Here’s a 2006 Guardian article beginning a series on how to read a book. [via Hipster Book Club]
  • Real Science: Hey! Who the heck squashed my solar system?
  • Orbit books is posting The Science Fiction and Fantasy Twelve Days of Christmas, one post at a time.

Filed under: Tidbits

More Free Classic Reads

ManyBooks.net‘s latest batch of science fiction titles includes some revered classics:

Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

At a moment when Europe is in danger of a catastrophe worse than that of 1914 a book like this may be condemned as a distraction from the desperately urgent defence of civilization against modern barbarism.

Year by year, month by month, the plight of our fragmentary and precarious civilization becomes more serious. Fascism abroad grows more bold and ruthless in its foreign ventures, more tyrannical toward its own citizens, more barbarian in its contempt for the life of the mind. Even in our own country we have reason to fear a tendency toward militarization and the curtailment of civil liberty. Moreover, while the decades pass, no resolute step is taken to alleviate the injustice of our social order. Our outworn economic system dooms millions to frustration.

The Ultimate Weapon by John W. Campbell, Jr.

The star Mira was unpredictably variable. Sometimes it was blazing, brilliant and hot. Other times it was oddly dim, cool, shedding little warmth on its many planets. Gresth Gkae, leader of the Mirans, was seeking a better star, one to which his “people” could migrate. That star had to be steady, reliable, with a good planetary system. And in his astronomical searching, he found Sol.

With hundreds of ships, each larger than whole Terrestrial spaceports, and traveling faster than the speed of light, the Mirans set out to move in to Solar regions and take over.

And on Earth there was nothing which would be capable of beating off this incredible armada–until Buck Kendall stumbled upon THE ULTIMATE WEAPON.

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Filed under: Free Fiction

Welcome to what we hope is a long-running feature of SF Signal: The Mind Meld!

In this series of posts, we pose a single question to a slice of the sf/f community and, depending on the question, other folks as well. The idea is similar to the Brain Parade posts that used to appear on the long-defunct Meme Therapy blog. What we hope to get is an interesting cross-section of views and opinions that open a particular topic up for discussion. We’d love to hear what you think!

For now, let’s begin this post’s question:

From your point of view, how has the proliferation of online book reviews affected the publishing world?

David G. Hartwell
David G. Hartwell is Senior Editor for Tor books and editor of many anthologies including The Science Fiction Century, The Space Opera Renaissance. He also co-edits the long-running Year’s Best SF anthology series and The New York Review of Science Fiction with his wife, Kathryn Cramer.

Online reviewing at this point is a hopeful mess, rather than a hopeless one. A majority of it still has the validity of a late night bar conversation, or an offhanded phone call, blurting out undefended opinions, to which everyone is entitled. The hopeful sign is that a small portion of it is written to publishable print standards, and an even smaller portion is actually edited. That small portion is what publishers and sensible writers pay some attention to. Readers tend to find their own level, and as in contemporary politics, go where their own opinions are reflected back at them. That’s the real mess part. So no one learns anything.

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Filed under: Mind Meld

Tube Bits For 12/11/2007

  • Comic Book Resources has lots of cool Serenity/Firefly news for us. Dark Horse will be

    releasing a new three-issue comic series called Serenity: Better Days, two lunch boxes one with Serenity on it and one with Fruity Oaty Bar, and two ornaments just in time for Christmas. Perfect for the Firefly fan on your list.

  • The National Post has a fun article about William Shatner, called His phaser is set to fun. In it, Shatner talks about his later acting career and how he chooses projects based on what he thinks will be fun. I think we can agree this has helped his career tremendously.
  • Speaking of Star Trek, the new Star Trek: The Tour will be touring various cities in the US. The exhibit will allow fans to walk around various sets of the NCC 1701-D. Sounds cool. If any of our readers in Long Beach, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chicago or Detroit go, let us know how it is!
  • Milo Ventimiglia, Peter on Heroes really doesn’t want Nathan Petrelli to die. With the strike in full swing, he, like the rest of us, will have to wait. I guess we’ll know when Adrain Pasdar is signed for a third season or not.
  • American fans of the BBC series, Life On Mars (SF Signal review), can stop the waiting game. The second series starts tonight on BBC America! Episode 1 and 2 will air back-to-back. Good news, I’ve been waiting for this. And U.K. fans care to comment?

Filed under: FireflyTube Bits

Where’s the Sense in Sensawunda?

Bookslut has an interesting post asking the question: Where’s the Sense in Sensawunda?:

I’m not sure what the point of science fiction is these days…

Sensawunda really needs both the awe and the comprehension, it needs both sides of the equation that links the fantastic and the real; but more and more we are looking for the wonder above the sense. That has always been a part of literature. Fantasy has its own rationalisations, its own rules and perspectives, but if the story in the end gives you that thrill of amazement it doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t make sense in terms of the world as we understand it. Indeed, it is often the point of fantasy that it should not conform to any expectations of our mundane reality. But science fiction isn’t like that.

Unfortunately, as we successively try to achieve that ever bigger hit of wonder, it’s all too easy to throw in a god or a demon or a mystery man was not meant to know. Or we go the other way, we want to avoid the contention that sf is crossing over into fantasy, so we try to make it purely realist. We invent things like Mundane SF which is full of sense but has very little wonder.

Science fiction is a spectrum, it stretches between fantasy and realism and needs to be anchored in both. But more and more we see at one end of the spectrum fantasy and sf merging seamlessly, while at the other end realism appropriates, quite legitimately, the tropes of sf. In other words that unique affect that once upon a time made us love science fiction is now equally the province of fantasy and of realism. I’m not complaining, I’ve always loved the margins of genre precisely because of the productive way that different modes can feed upon each other. But still, science fiction’s old unique selling point seems to have been lost, and I’m not altogether sure it has yet managed to find a new one.

Filed under: Books

At The Trailer Park: Machine Girl, Jumper, The Dark Knight

Oh boy do we have a doozy for you, right out of the gate. Machine Girl is a Japanese horror/action flick, with lots of yakuza, ninja and bllod. Warning! The trailer is very gory, if really cheesy. Think Kill Bill meets Grindhouse.

Next up, the new trailer for Jumper. I’m still undecided about this one.

And lastly, a fan made ‘trailer’ for The Dark Knight. Part of a viral campaign? You decide.

[via Sci Fi Chick]

Filed under: Movies

Doris Lessing’s Nobel Acceptance Speech

The fascinating transcript of Doris Lessing’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize is online. In it, she warns of a detrimental effect of the Internet:

We are in a fragmenting culture, where our certainties of even a few decades ago are questioned and where it is common for young men and women who have had years of education, to know nothing about the world, to have read nothing, knowing only some speciality or other, for instance, computers.

What has happened to us is an amazing invention, computers and the internet and TV, a revolution. This is not the first revolution we, the human race, has dealt with. The printing revolution, which did not take place in a matter of a few decades, but took much longer, changed our minds and ways of thinking. A foolhardy lot, we accepted it all, as we always do, never asked “What is going to happen to us now, with this invention of print?” And just as we never once stopped to ask, How are we, our minds, going to change with the new internet, which has seduced a whole generation into its inanities so that even quite reasonable people will confess that once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging and blugging etc.

Filed under: AwardsBooks

Appoggiatura and Other Words You Never Heard Of

You may have heard of Logorrhea, an anthology whose 21 stories are based on spelling bee words. Contributors include Tim Pratt, Daniel Abraham, Hal Duncan, Theodora Goss, Clare Dudman, Matthew Cheney, Jay Caselberg, Neil Williamson, Michael Moorcock, Michelle Richmond, Liz Williams, Paolo Bacigalupi, Anna Tambour, Leslie What, Alex Irvine, Marly Youmans, Alan DeNiro, Jay Lake, Elizabeth Hand, and David Prill and Jeff VanderMeer.

Jeff VanderMeer’s contribution, the story “Appoggiatura”, is special in that it also uses the other 20 words that for the basis of the other stories. Even better: “Appoggiatura” is now available as a serial podcast, with Jason Erik Lundberg reading each of the sub-entries. The book’s editor, John Klima, has the handy index.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 12/11/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: Darkness Falls by Kyle Mills

REVIEW SUMMARY: A thrilling science fiction tale of eco-terrorism, Darkness Falls could be ripped from the headlines.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Erin Neal is the world expert on using biotechnology to clean up a mess – especially oil. He’s also become a hermit after his ex-girlfriend and now lives entirely off the grid in a remote part of New Mexico. When the US government comes asking for help he isn’t interested, until it seems somebody has taken one of his ideas and twisted it to attack the world’s dependence on oil.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Thrilling plot; flawed characters

CONS: Not every action is believable; villain is merely pathetic and not evil

BOTTOM LINE: Fun pulp fiction that can help pass the time during the cold winter months.

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Filed under: Book Review

Monday YouTube Quiz: Fruity Oaty Bars!

Pop Quiz: What does this commercial for Fruity Oaty Bars have to do with science fiction?

[via EW Blog]

Filed under: MoviesTV

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