SF Tidbits for 3/16/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Name That Action Figure!

Last weekend we tore out the stairs on our 30+ year-old house (and replaced them with oak. This was my wife’s idea. I would have saved the money for something much cooler, like a new high-end video card for my computer, or a few boxes of Confrontation miniatures.)

Among other things, we found some loose change dated from the 60′s and a sci-fi action figure. No one at home knew what the figure was, so I thought I’d post a picture of it.

Any guesses?

[See extended entry for photo... ]

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Games

Locus Online has printed Cory Doctorow’s column from the March isssue of Locus magazine. Here’s a snippet of the article You Do Like Reading Off a Computer Screen:

Electronic books are a wonderful adjunct to print books. It’s great to have a couple hundred novels in your pocket when the plane doesn’t take off or the line is too long at the post office. It’s cool to be able to search the text of a novel to find a beloved passage. It’s excellent to use a novel socially, sending it to your friends, pasting it into your sig file.

But the numbers tell their own story – people who read off of screens all day long buy lots of print books and read them primarily on paper. There are some who prefer an all-electronic existence (I’d like to be able to get rid of the objects after my first reading, but keep the e-books around for reference), but they’re in a tiny minority.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 3/15/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: Mainspring by Jay Lake

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Clockmaker Apprentice Heathor is visted by the Archangel Gabriel. Hethor is tasked with discovering the Key Perilous and re-winding the Mainspring of the world before it runs down and the Earth stops rotating.

PROS: Wildly inventive, filled with rollicking old-school adventure SF, Hethor is an interesting and sympathetic character.

CONS: Hethor escapes many deadly encounters, secondary characters not fleshed out, high body count and sporadically overly violent.

BOTTOM LINE: Mainspring is a wildly inventive novel infused with old-school adventure SF action. If you’re looking for something different that has lots of ‘sensawunda’, pick up Mainspring.

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Filed under: Book Review

Hot Kirk/Spock Action

Wednesday YouTube features more hot Kirk/Spock action with the mashup “I Touch Myself”.

See also: “Closer

[via PistolWimp]

Filed under: TV

Launch Pad

Jeremy Tolbert writes in to tell us about Launch Pad, a free, NASA-funded workshop in Wyoming for established writers that aims to provide a “crash course” in modern astronomy through workshops, guest lectures, and observation through the University of Wyoming’s two large telescopes.

This year’s guest instructor is Jerry Oltion, amateur astronomer and science fiction author (Abandon In Place, The Getaway Special, Anywhere But Here and Paradise Passed). Other lecturers include University of Wyoming professors Mike Brotherton, PhD (and author of Star Dragon…read it for free!) and Jim Verley.

Interested writers should apply soon…the deadline is May 1st and there are only 12 openings.

Filed under: Events

SF Tidbits for 3/14/07

Filed under: Tidbits

[Update: added review of final story, "An End to All Things".]

Like last year, I undertook a project to read the short fiction nominees for this year’s Nebula Award. Only two of the nominees were not available online this year. One of those (Michael A. Burstein’s “Sanctuary”) I read in Analog, the other (“An End to All Things” by Karina Sumner-Smith) I couldn’t get a copy of, so it was not reviewed. (If I manage to get my hands on a copy, I’ll update this post.) [Update: See review below.]

Once more, I thought this was a fun project as it makes me feel like I’m keeping in touch with the best that the current short fiction landscape has to offer. Or is that a fallacy? Although I enjoyed immensely all of the novella nominees, some of the shorter works were considerably less than stellar. In their defense, those tended to be the fantasy stories; my partial indifference towards that genre couldn’t bode well for them anyway. Nonetheless, I remained hopeful, expecting – perhaps naively – something special from stories that are nominated for awards.

I’m not sure if it’s a trend or just something I notices because, in this age of Internets, looking up the information is so darn easy, but it seems that more and more short fiction that I read draws upon history and mythology to tell their stories. This year’s nominees initiated Wikipedia lookups for Helen of Troy, Henry David Thoreau, Narcissus, Walpurgis Night, Erwin Schrödinger and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Science fiction is nothing if not cause to brush up on history. Apparently.

In a nutshell, then, here are my impressions of the stories in each category, sorted from most to least enjoyable. My winning picks are the tops ones listed in each category.

NOVELLAS

“Sanctuary” by Michael A. Burstein (Read a preview)

Burn” by James Patrick Kelly

The Walls of the Universe” by Paul Melko

Inclination” by William Shunn

NOVELETTES

Two Hearts” by Peter S. Beagle

Little Faces” by Vonda McIntyre

The Language of Moths” by Chris Barzak

Journey into the Kingdom” by M. Rickert

Walpurgis Afternoon” by Delia Sherman

SHORT STORIES

Henry James, This One’s For You” by Jack McDevitt

An End to All Things” by Karina Sumner-Smith

The Woman in Schrödinger’s Wave Equations” by Eugene Mirabelli

Helen Remembers the Stork Club” by Esther M. Friesner

Echo” by Elizabeth Hand

Pip and the Fairies” by Theodora Goss.

Reviewlettes of the stories follow….

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Filed under: Book Review

SF Tidbits for 3/13/07

Filed under: Tidbits

All Hail The Marching Morons!

Ben Bova’s latest article for the Bonita News is titled: The “Marching Morons” show prescience of science fiction. A snippet:

There are tons of science fiction stories that show myriads of possible futures. Some of those futures have come into being. Kornbluth’s “The Marching Morons” is one of them. If more people had read that story half a century ago, perhaps we might have avoided some of the pitfalls that have led us to a moron-rich world today.

And therein lies the rub. Despite its power to illuminate the possibilities of tomorrow, science fiction is not read by most people. Perhaps it’s that word “science” that frightens them off: they think the stories are too difficult for them to understand. They’re not.

Perhaps the problem lies with the visual entertainment media: movies and TV. Let’s face it, most of Hollywood’s “sci-fi” has its origins in comic strips, not actual published science fiction. Many people don’t realize that the “sci-fi flicks” on both big and small screens are a far cry from the intellectual and emotional depth of real science fiction.

But I suspect that a major part of the problem is that most people don’t want to think hard about where we are and where we’re heading…

Filed under: Movies

Blog Updates

There have been a couple of updates in the past few weeks:

  1. Our search box now uses Google Blog Search. The reason is that a$$-clown spammers were doing many searches to get themselves noticed in our activity log. This slowed down our performance. Using Google fixes that. But blog posts take a while to appear in Google – days or weeks, if at all – so we now use Google Blog Search. New posts appear in search results soon after their posting.
  2. The home page loads more quickly. Some slow JavaScript code was inadvertently placed in the wrong place in the home page template, so it was executing up to 15 times every time the page loaded. You might have noticed that the right-side widgets took a long time to appear. That is now fixed.
  3. In addition to the Frappr map link, the Map widget has been updated with the Map Loco map. (Although I’m still toying with the idea of using ClustrMaps.)
  4. The News Feeds widget has been streamlined to take up less space.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled blog…

Filed under: Meta

POLL RESULTS: Trek XI Status Report

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
How would you summarize the current decisions going into Star Trek XI?

RESULTS

(95 total votes)

The Mehs have it.

Comments this week:

“What… no Matt Damon ‘Southie’ Star Trek Joke? No Gary Sinise ‘Lt. Dan’ joke? In the immortal words of Tuck and Roll from ‘A Bugs life’ “You fired! No, you fired. NO! YOU FIRED!” – Trent

“On the one hand, yay, it’s a new Star Trek movie. That makes me happy. On the other hand, I remember how “Young Indiana Jones Adventures,” went. Do I need a Star Trek equivalent?” – Pete

Be sure to vote in this week’s poll on Jeff Bridges’ best film!

Filed under: Polls

EW Reviews Fantasy

Issue #925 of Entertainment Weekly offers some brief reviews of fantasy books. Here’s a snippet…

The Alchemist’s Apprentice by Dave Duncan

For Fans of: Italy’s Renaissance.

Lowdown: The occult is a grace note in this cynical whodunit, juicy with periodic detail.

Grade: B+

Keeping It Real Justina Robson

For Fans of: Tolkien, had he gone electric, dropped acid, and discovered tantric sex.

Lowdown: A Teeming fantasy that sometimes stalls in come-together preachiness and turgid mysticism.

Grade: B-

The Serpent and the Rose by Kathleen Bryan

For Fans of: Elizabeth Haydon, Terry Goodkind.

Lowdown: Well-thought-through magic, convincing medieval details, and likable characters make for a pleasant adventure.

Grade: B

Elsewhere in the issue is an article and review (rating: B) on Frank Miller’s 300 and a piece on Malcolm McDowell’s role as Mr. Linderman in Heroes.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 3/11/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Use the Stamps, Luke…

[Waves Hand] This is Not The Junk Mail You are Looking for…

The United States Post Office (the people who cannot seem to be able to deliver my Locus magazine without reading it first — but don’t get me started…) is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Star Wars by dressing up some mailboxes around the country to look like R2D2.

Is there nothing beyond George Lucas’ reach? What’s next? The Jar-Jar fire hydrant?

[via MonkeyFilter]

Filed under: Star Wars

Now with Soylent Green!

Carl Huber is performing a social experiment that might appeal to science fiction fans.

He’s printing up a bunch of stickers that say “Now with Soylent Green!” and he’s putting them on stuff — like food in grocery stores. Of course, there is a full-disclosure footnote included that lets people know that “Soylent Green is made of people.”

He invites others to do the same and send him the corresponding photos.

[Disclaimer: SF Signal neither endorses nor condones the consumption of people.]

Filed under: Humor

SF Tidbits for 3/9/07

Filed under: Tidbits

SF Tidbits for 3/8/07

Filed under: Tidbits

The Trial of Han Solo

If Greedo shot first, why is Han on trial, hmmmm? Find out in this longish Google video that really puts Lucas in the hot seat…

(Warning! Brief CGI-dude nudity.)

[via Neatorama]

Filed under: Star Wars

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