On the one hand, I’m kinda stoked to see Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker. On the other…his Joker-voice reminds me of some whiny insurance salesman…
- Feminist SF notes that The Mammoth Book of The Best of Best New SF has only 18% of its contributions by female writers. Does anyone know if this is commensurate with the percentage of female writers out of all sf writers?
- Free Fiction:
- “The Tomb’s Wife” by Gwyneth Jones. [via The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction]
- Jayme Lynn Blaschke has posted the latest installment of his serialized story, “Memory“.
- Recently-free fiction at ManyBooks.net: “Pharaoh’s Broker” by Ellsworth Douglass (1899).
- Free Audio Fiction:
- Austin American-Statesman profiles Elizabeth Moon. [via Locus Online]
- It’s Dean Koontz week at Strange Horizons, who offer this interview and tribute.
- Dragon Page Cover To Cover podcast-interviews Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files). [via SFFaudio]
- May 11th is Review Matt Hughes Day!
- Guardian is talking about Mundane SF: “The really exciting science fiction is boring.”
- Apex is running a subscription drive and they are offering lifetime subscriptions to Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest for $100.
- SciFi Weekly Editor Scott Edelman has posted SF Age covers by John Berkey. [via Locus Online]
- Real (Bad) Science: Carlo Artieri, a Ph.D. student in the Biology Dept. at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, talks about bad biology in Cloverfield.
Is it me, or does this play like something Kevin Smith would have done?
[via Scott Terrance Chan]
- It’s been rumored before that Firefly would be making the jump to Blu-Ray . Now, you can pre-order it over at Amazon, and probably just about anywhere else. Sadly, no info on what ‘bonus’ features will be available.
- Sci Fi Japan brings us part 3 of their Speed Racer retrospective: Mach Go Go Go comes the US. As a bonus, they have pictures of the voice actors for the American version. Nice.
- Buddy TV wonders if Galactica is lost in space, again? The gist: Is it worth it to have many interweaving major plots ongoing at the same time? The writer expresses ‘blind faith’ in Ronald Moore. I don’t share that faith. So far, this season like season 3 with it’s lack of direct conflict with the Cylons. It’s boring, aside from the search for Earth and the Cylon civil war. I don’t care about the rest.
- The Boston Globe has a short interview with Edward James Olmos concerning the final season of Galactica. Some sorta-spoilery bits there so be warned. Though, it sounds like the ending may be not what people are expecting, or wanting.
- Fox recently announced they were renewing The Sarah Connor Chronicles. In case you missed it, starting August 11th, Fox will air reruns of the first season every Monday night at 8pm ET. More than likely this will be the same time for the second season. Who’s going to be watching? I’m on the fence.
- For all you Dr. Who fans, you might be interested in this techno-dance remix of the theme song.
- And now for your entertainment, the (almost complete) classic ‘get a life’ SNL sketch starring William Shatner!
Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.
Which of these 2008 summer movies are you most likely to see?
|(118 total votes)|
Indy whips up a clear win! Now the real question: Is it sci-fi?
Several comments this week…
“I don’t *do* cinema these days. It’s full of antisocial gits who are either chatting to each other or stuffing their fat faces with as much stinky ‘food’ as they can. However, I will probably pick up at least half of this list when they come out on DVD, and I can watch them properly.” – Paul Harper
“I am hopeful that Indy will not be the mess that the Phantom Menace is…but I recognize the possibility that it will be. Interestingly enough, I may manage to miss it because I am going on a 2 week camping trip beginning that weekend.” – Jvstin
“Why can’t I vote for more than one? IJ4 is a must, but I’m also planning on Iron Man, Hellboy, The Dark Knight and Wall-E.” – Rich Gombert
“I’ll have to wait until they come out at the dollar theater in November.” – Jim Shannon
“All of them, via netflix.” – Keith
“Not an easy poll. All but two are on my must see list. The two that aren’t are on my likely to see list.” – Douglass Abramson
“Definately Indy. Next most likely is the X-Files movie. I am deeply ambivilant about it though. Despite being a huge X Phile, I did not watch the last couple of seasons of the X-Files TV series, and I wonder about the point of a movie so long after the TV series whimpering exit.” – SF Fangirl
The latest Interzone (#216) is a special Mundane-SF issue guest-edited by Geoff Ryman, Julian Todd and Trent Walters. In addition to the regular features, reviews and interviews (this month with Greg Egan and Alastair Reynolds), the issue boasts the following mundane fiction stories:
- “How To Make Paper Airplanes” by Lavie Tidhar
- “Endra — From Memory” by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
- “The Hour Is Getting Late” by Billie Aul
- “Remote Control” by R.R. Angell
- “The Invisibles” by Élisabeth Vonarburg
- “Into The Night” by Anil Menon
- “Talk Is Cheap” by Geoff Ryman
John Scalzi has an illuminating post about the young adult genre fiction market and he’s got some stats:
…the top 50 YA SF/F bestsellers outsold the top 100 adult SF/F bestsellers (adult SF and F are separate lists) by two to one. So 50 YA titles are selling twice as much as 100 adult SF/F titles. The bestselling YA fantasy book last week (not a Harry Potter book) outsold the bestselling adult fantasy book by nearly four to one; the bestselling YA science fiction title sold three copies for every two copies of the chart-topping adult SF title. And as a final kick in the teeth, YA SF/F is amply represented at top of the general bestselling charts of YA book sales, whereas adult SF/F struggles to get onto the general bestselling adult fiction charts at all.
That serious adult science fiction/fantasy readers don’t seem to know any of this is a) a feature of the opaque nature of book sales, in which no one publicly talks about actual units sold and b) a feature of the apparent short-sightedness of adult sf/f readers, who are missing a genuine literary revolution in their genre because the YA section is a blank spot on the map to them, if not to everyone else.
Item ‘b’ is interesting. I know adult genre readers who won’t touch young adult books.
Are you one of them?
Here are The Top 10 SF Signal Posts for April 2008:
- MIND MELD: Is Science Fiction Antithetical to Religion?
- MIND MELD: Is the Short Fiction Market in Trouble?
- MIND MELD: Underrated Authors
- MIND MELD: Keeping Space Opera Relevant
- INTERVIEW: Dr. Michio Kaku
- Summer Sci Fi Movie Smackdown
- A Dilemma: Books I Can’t Finish Reading
- Dan Simmons’ Hyperion To Get The Big Screen Treatment
- Which Science Fiction Books Make Up the Perfect Library?
- Can You Name This Story (Part 4)
Here are the top hits to posts from previous months.
- The Top 10 Science Fiction Anime
- SF/F Writers Who Blog
- NOMINEES: 2008 Hugo Award
- Heroes Season 2 Officially Sucks
- Cthulhu Family Circus
- What Do You Want To See From: Galactica’s Final Season
- Tube Bits for 07/17/2007
- REVIEW: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
- MIND MELD: Is Young Adult SF/F Too Explicit?
- Battlestar Galactica’s Season 4 Start Date Revealed!
- Free Fiction:
- Geoff Ryman talked about Interzone 216, the mundane sf issue, on Radio 4. You should ba able to “listen again” for 7 days after the original broadcast. [via TTA Press]
- Trek Nation interviews Keith R. A. DeCandido.
- Gail Z. Martin’s Ghost in the Machine podcast, features fantasy authors Emily Gee (Thief With No Shadow) on May 1 through 14, and Justin Gustainis (Black Magic Woman) May 15 through 31.
- Big Dumb Object has details on the recent press release regarding the aforementioned SF hall of fame inductees (Betty and Ian Ballantine for literature, William Gibson for literature, Richard M. Powers for art, and Rod Serling for film).
- David Langford’s Ansible #250 for May 2008 has been posted.
- Hollywood Physics: In their latest photo gallery, PopSci asks What Can Movies Teach Us About Space Travel?
- The finalists for The Shirley Jackson Awards – recognizing outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic – have been announced.
- io9 looks at the futuristic artwork of Stephan Martiniere.
- io9 lists The Cutest Science Fiction Sidekicks, And Why They Fail.
Tor continues to offer weekly freebies for your reading and viewing pleasure.
This week also sees 2 new wallpapers ready for download:
- John Picacio‘s cover art for Viewpoints Critical by L. E. Modesitt
- Bob Eggleton‘s painting, “The Other Retro Rocket,” from his book Greetings from Earth: The Art of Bob Eggleton.
Get them while they’re hot! Each week, they are replaced with new freebies.
There’s something oddly hypnotic about this…
- USA Today offers us a first glimpse of the Sleestak in the new Will Ferrell movie, Land of the Lost. Not bad. The good? Director Brad Silberling fought to keep the Sleestak as they are and not to go the CGI route. The bad? The movie is no longer about Marshall, Will and Holly, but, rather, three adults who find themselves in the Land of the Lost.
- The new TheWB.com website, when it launches in August, will be streaming Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Roswell. So, if you missed them the first time around, now’s (well, in August) your chance to catch these shows. Or just Sarah Michelle Gellar. Your choice.
- Good news for all you Torchwood fans who also love Apple’s DRM infested media player (winds up Tim), iTunes. The BBC is bringing Torchwood to iTunes, most likely when it starts its third season, and all for only $2 an episode.
- Love Galactica or LOST? Have you ever wondered who would win in a no-holds barred cage match? Then head on over to SF Gates’ TV Show Face-Off: LOST vs. Galactica. Be sure to voice your opinion as only the internet allows you to do, then cast your vote for the only real choice here, LOST.
This video starts out with a cool idea, then layers even more awesomeness on top — again and again.
[via Topless Robot]
- The latest issue of Clarkesworld Magazine features fiction from Catherynne M. Valente and Garth Upshaw; a non-fiction article about RPGs by Justin Howe and Jason S. Ridler; and Jeff VanderMeer’s interviews with John Picacio. I must also mention another stellar piece of artwork used for the cover, this one by Cuson.
- Recently-free fiction at ManyBooks.net: “Cum Grano Salis” by Randall Garrett (1959).
- Interviews and profiles:
- The latest podcast of Adventures in Scifi Publishing features author David Keck (In a Time of Treason), Pyr Editor Lou Anders talking about the short fiction market, and Tobias Buckell answering a reader question.
- The online Writing Workshop for SF/F/H interviews genre literary agent Colleen Lindsay who offers lots of great advice for writers. “An author shouldn’t post an incessant chronology of his or her rejections by agents and editors. Eventually an agent who sees this is going to wonder why you’re getting so many rejections.” [via The Swivet]
- Grasping for the Wind interviews Karen Miller (Empress).
- Lois McMaster Bujold guest blogs at the Eos blog, where she talks about her book The Sharing Knife.
- At Deep Genre, Constance Ash and Kate Elliott discuss Shadow Gate.
- At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Mark L. Van Name, author of One Jump Ahead, and Sandra McDonald, author of The Outback Stars.
- Tom Holt (The Better Mousetrap) guest-blogs at Orbit blog and talks about time travel.
- Locus Online has posted the contents of the May 2008 issue of Locus Magazine.
- According to Scott Sigler, Bruce Campbell Is the Reigning King of Horror. No argument here.
- New Scientist look at The science behind Iron Man. (And reminds us of their list of Top 10 Fictional Scientists.)
- This vinyl Geiger Alien doll look too cute to be scary. I still want one, though. [via SciFi Scanner]
- Robots can’t act, but that just makes this video of robots doing Pulp Fiction all the more hilarious.
The lasting impression of a book is often conveyed by its ending, and that impression can be either good or bad. I remember finishing the lengthy Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton and still wishing there was more to read. That’s a great ending! Sadly, I also remember reading Hamilton’s otherwise excellent Night’s Dawn Trilogy and being disappointed by the deus ex machina finale of The Naked God. Great ending? Not so much.
I wasn’t the only one to be bothered by that particular title — as you’ll see when you read the responses we got when we asked people this question:
Note: Some of the answers may be spoilery, so read on…if you dare. And be sure to tell us your own picks!
How do you really define “Best ending”? Is the best ending one in which the narrative relentlessly builds toward, one that’s inevitable and inescapable yet still provides a satisfying denouement? Or would “Best” be better defined by that unexpected twist, that out-of-left-field trump card that comes at the reader unawares, yet in hindsight seems a perfect–yet audacious–resolution to the story? Both are very different types of endings, appropriate to very different types of stories.
For the former, I offer Mary Stewart’s The Wicked Day. Anyone who’s ever come within sniffing distance of the Arthurian legends knows good and well that fate has some nasty business in store for King Arthur and his son Mordred. Yet it’s to Stewart’s credit that the reader feels for both sides in this prototypical dysfunctional family squabble, and even as the narrative follows the traditional course of events in a surprisingly faithful manner the reader hopes against hope that Stewart will pull back at the last instant to offer a less bloody resolution. That she doesn’t makes the tragedy all the more poignant.
For the latter type of ending, consider Ken MacLeod’s Cassini Division. A tour de force of a space opera novel, things go to hell in the proverbial handbasket very, very quickly once all the various subplots come to a head. The fact that the communist protagonists (a clever bit of political commentary on MacLeod’s part, that) seem stripped of their only weapons serves to ramp the tension up to 11. When the rabbit is pulled out of the hat–as it is in spectacular fashion here–I literally leapt to my feet, pumping my fist and shouting “Yes!” I never saw it coming, but instantly recalled all the seemingly throwaway bits of detail and worldbuilding that turned out to be far more significant in retrospect. That the finale was both unexpected and justified is a fine sleight-of-hand on the author’s part.
On the other hand, fingering the worst ending is a much easier task. Fred Hoyle’s The Black Cloud caps off one of the most wretched, tedious plots in the history of science fiction with the most spectacularly awful pull-it-out-your-ass ending ever. Wandering off to find God is something you’d expect from the lead character in some self-important New Age memoir, not an all-powerful star-devouring cosmic entity. I ask you, would those classic Fantastic Four stories hold up as well if they saved Earth only because Galactus decided to abruptly take up navel-gazing? The fact that the Black Cloud itself is one of the single most brilliant science fictional speculations of all time merely serves to amplify the many literary sins of this truly abysmal “classic” of the genre.
Artist John Berkey passed away this week.
- The Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas look at Invasion of the Body Snatchers, both the 1956 version starring Kevin McCarthy, and the 1978 remake starring Donald Sutherland and Jeff Goldblum. (the latter being the one that permanently burned Sutherland’s horrific scream into my impressionable brain.)
- The Long List for this year’s Million Writers Award for online short fiction has been announced. Many genre titles and venues make the list.
- Free Fiction: Subterranean Online has “Connoisseurs: A Lucifer Jones Story” by Mike Resnick.
- The Solaris blog (When Gravity Fails) has an audio advertisement for Lou Anders’ upcoming anthology Sideways in Crime.
- Fred K. sent us this PDF link to a list of entertainment items found in the International Space Station maintained for recreational and off-duty consumption. Items include: science fiction magazines; books by Greg Bear, Isaac Asimov, Robert Jordan, Catherine Asaro, Stephen R. Donaldson, David Weber and more; various films including Armageddon, Apollo 13, 2010, Men in Black, Star Wars, Stargate, Terminator, The Right Stuff, X-Men and…Caddyshack.
- Event: The May 13th launch party for The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction & Fantasy edited by Ellen Datlow (to be held at South Street Seaport Museum’s Melville Gallery) features readings by Richard Bowes, Carol Emshwiller and Barry N. Malzberg.
- Gail Martin has video reports from Ravencon.
- Movie critic Rober Ebert is blogging and recently talked about Arthur C. Clarke.
- Ian McKellen confirms Gandalf’s return in The Hobbit.
- The latest SciFi Dept. video looks at
- The Richard Matheson Renaissance.
- ComicMix lists 10 Must-Read Stories Before You Watch Iron Man in Theaters.
- Entertainment Weekly lists 23 Disappointing Movie Adaptations.
Jeff VanderMeer is reporting that Richard K. Morgan has won this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award which is given to the best SF novel published each year in the UK (though not necessarily by a British writer).
Morgan won for his book Black Man which was released in the United States undr the title Thirteen.
Tony from StarshipSofa writes in to tell us about some the cool things going on there:
The StarShipSofa podcast is metamorphosing into the StarShipSofa – The Audio Science Fiction Magazine. Following in the great tradition of magazines like Analog, Asimov’s and Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Each week the StarShipSofa will deliver a full package of SF related audio material all free including audio fiction, fact audio essays, flash fiction and poetry, all by leading names in the SF field.
Many writers have agreed to let StarShipSofa narrate their works including Ben Bova, Joe Haldeman, Alistair Reynolds and M. John Harrison, to name a few.
There will be two shows per week, the Wednesday show, also know as Aural Delights will contain narrated audio fiction, fact and poerty and the weekend show will be an in depth look into an author’s life and work.
This week saw the first of the metamorphosing with the StarShipSofa’s Aural Delights show. Fiction was provided by Kage Baker’s fantastic story “The Likely Lad,” there were two poems by Bruce Boston and Laurel Winter, both winners of the Rhysling Award for SF Poetry. Flash fiction came from a very short but very powerful story called “Repeating The Past” by Peter Watts, author of the SF novel Blindsight.
In the weeks to come Peter Watts will also be delivering a monthly narrated fact article; this part of the show will be called Reality, Remastered.
As for the weekend shows, StarShipSofa has her sights upon writers such as John Scalzi, Robert Charles Wilson and Ken Macleod.
It’s amazing what you can find on the internets these days. Case in point, the following gospel song praising everyone’s favorite blatant merchandising move, Ewoks.
Billy D! No!!!!! Who knew the Ewoks lived like the Amish? Where was Jebediah Ewok?
As if that weren’t bad enough, Chad Vader also gets into the music business, covering that YouTube sensation, ‘Chocolate Rain’.
I like this version better.