Latest Trailer for The Dark Knight

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…

SF Tidbits for 5/5/08

Monday YouTube: Star Wars Fans vs. Sports Fans

Is it me, or does this play like something Kevin Smith would have done?

[via Scott Terrance Chan]

Tube Bits for 05/05/2008

  • 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!

POLL RESULTS: The Summer 2008 Film We Want to See Most

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Which of these 2008 summer movies are you most likely to see?

RESULTS

(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

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about publishers cashing in on the young adult craze!

TOC: Interzone #216

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 √Člisabeth Vonarburg
  • “Into The Night” by Anil Menon
  • “Talk Is Cheap” by Geoff Ryman

Hey! What’s Your Beef with Young Adult SF/F?

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?

Continue reading

Top 10 SF Signal Posts for April 2008

Here are The Top 10 SF Signal Posts for April 2008:

  1. MIND MELD: Is Science Fiction Antithetical to Religion?
  2. MIND MELD: Is the Short Fiction Market in Trouble?
  3. MIND MELD: Underrated Authors
  4. MIND MELD: Keeping Space Opera Relevant
  5. INTERVIEW: Dr. Michio Kaku
  6. Summer Sci Fi Movie Smackdown
  7. A Dilemma: Books I Can’t Finish Reading
  8. Dan Simmons’ Hyperion To Get The Big Screen Treatment
  9. Which Science Fiction Books Make Up the Perfect Library?
  10. Can You Name This Story (Part 4)

Here are the top hits to posts from previous months.

SF Tidbits for 5/3/08

Another Free Book and More Wallpapers from Tor

Tor continues to offer weekly freebies for your reading and viewing pleasure.

This week, the free downloadable book is Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest. This was an impressive debut novel and one of my best reads in 2005. After the first twenty pages, I was hooked.

The HTML version of the book is here, and if you sign up for Tor’s notifications, you get links to other formats as well.

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.

Friday YouTube: He’s Dead, Jim!

There’s something oddly hypnotic about this…

[via MilkandCookies]

Tube Bits for 05/02/2008

  • 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.

R2-D2 Swiss Army DVD Projector

This video starts out with a cool idea, then layers even more awesomeness on top — again and again.

[via Topless Robot]

SF Tidbits for 5/2/08

MIND MELD: Which SF/F Books Have The Best and Worst Endings?

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:

Q: Which science fiction or fantasy book has the best ending? Which one has the worst ending?

Note: Some of the answers may be spoilery, so read on…if you dare. And be sure to tell us your own picks!

Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Jayme Lynn Blaschke‘s fiction has appeared in Interzone and assorted anthologies. He’s the former fiction editor of RevolutionSF.com, and is currently the media director for Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. A collected volume of his SF-themed interviews, Voices of Vision: Creators of Science Fiction and Fantasy Speak, is available from the University of Nebraska Press. Blaschke lives in Texas and maintains a blog at http://jlbgibberish.blogspot.com as well as participates in the group blog No Fear of the Future at http://nofearofthefuture.blogspot.com/.

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.

Continue reading

RIP: John Berkey

Sad news…

Artist John Berkey passed away this week.

Besides the numerous book covers he painted, Berkey’s is often recognized for the artwork he did for the Old Elvis stamp and the poster art for the 1976 remake of King Kong.

See also:

SF Tidbits for 5/1/08

Richard K. Morgan Wins the Arthur C. Clarke Award

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.

See also:

Previous winners.

Starship Sofa Podcast Expands to Audio SF Magazine

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.

Extra Special Star Wars Music Videos

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.

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