In a brutally honest follow-up to his classic “The Classics of Science Fiction” article from 20 years ago, James Wallace Harris has this to say about the classics of yesteryear:

Now looking back with twenty years of hindsight I’m not sure how many science fiction books I would consider classic. The final The Classics of Science Fiction list wasn’t selected by me, but was assembled from the most frequently recommended books from 28 best-of lists and other sources dating back to the 1950s. Of the 193 books on the list, I’m not sure how many I would personally recommend today.

These days, he’s been listening to audiobooks, some of them are the audio versions of the sf classics and the experience has been mixed. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, for example, does not hold up, he says:

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SF Tidbits for 2/25/07

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MOVIE REVIEW: Pan’s Labrynth

Pan's Labyrinth

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Ofelia and her mother move into an old mill in rural Spain to start a new life with her new father, fascist Captain Vidal. Ofelia soon finds that the woods around the mill contain fairies, and a faun that sends Ofelia on a series of quests to prove that she’ the long-lost princess of the Underworld.

PROS: Amazingly captivating story; horribly evil villain

CONS: None

BOTTOM LINE: The best film I’ve seen in a very long while, a worthy Oscar nomination for best foreign film.

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Of Princesses and Polls

Taking a cue from John C. Wright, SF Signal would like to promote The New Space Princess Movement!

And what better way to celebrate than with some stiff competition between midriff-baring space royalty? Ex astris, diaphragmata! [Thanks to My Elves Are Different for the slogan. - Ed.]

The rules are simple:

  1. The contestant must be a babe from the world of science fiction TV and film.
  2. The contestant must be a member of royalty.
  3. The contestant must bare her midriff.

After the jump you get to see the goods. Please…take your time, savor the beauty, and voice your opinion in next week’s poll , posted on Monday. (You may request others in the comments section of this post before Monday)

The contestants are…

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SF Tidbits for 2/24/07

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REVIEW:Bright Of The Sky by Kay Kenyon

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Former starship pilot Titus Quinn is coerced into returning to the mysterious realm, the Entire, by the Miranda corporation. Miranda wants Titus to discover a way to use the Entire as a shortcut for interstellar travel. Titus has other ideas.

PROS: Unique setting both physically and societally; Titus Quinn is a compelling anti-hero.

CONS: Some clunky writing; a drawn out ending; weaker secondary characters.

BOTTOM LINE: Bright Of The Sky effortlessly blends science fiction concepts and world-building with fantasy story telling to create a unique and intriguing whole.

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SF Tidbits for 2/23/07

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Teen Lit Fest 2007

Teen Lit Fest, to be held February 24th, 2007, at Atascocita High School in Humble, TX, celebrates young adult fiction. Authors and illustrators attending include Chris Crutcher (keynote speaker), Gail Giles, Justine Larbalestier, Benjamin Saenz, Scott Westerfeld and Chris Yambar.

Here at SF Signal, we like to promote reading in young adults and kids. So, if you are in the area, check it out! [Looks at JP, Tim and self.]

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Charlie Huston’s Already Dead Heads to the Big Screen

Variety is reporting that Charlie Huston‘s Joe Pitt noir vampire novel, Already Dead, is headed for the big screen. There are five books planned in the series (two of which are released; No Dominion is the second one) that the producers are seeing as a potential franchise.

Let’s see…what the word I’m looking for? Oh yeah. Woot! I recently read Already Dead and its sequel, No Dominion, and this news has me giddy. As long as the keep the noir vampire feel that was so cool about the book, they should be OK. The plot should transfer to film with little or no changes. [Crosses fingers.]

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Free Classic Science Fiction

The website Free Speculative Fiction Online has just added a batch of newly available fiction that you can read online for free. Check out this juicy list:

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SF Tidbits for 2/22/07

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After I posted my review of Paul Levinson’s The Plot to Save Socrates, the author contacted me with an offer that readers may find hard to pass up.

Paul is offering to sign newly purchased copies of his book, The Plot to Save Socrates. All you have to do to minimize your shipping cost is:

  1. Buy a new copy of the book from any online source.
  2. Supply his address as the shipping address. Email Paul Levinson for his address and supply your own.
  3. He will sign it and ship it out to you at his expense.

Alternatively, you can purchase a new copy of the book at a physical bookstore and send it to him yourself. New copies only, please.

Hurry! This offer only expires in 30 days, March 21 2007.

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Does Science Fiction, in Fact, Suck?

Jay @ Kill The Goat hates science fiction, as evidenced by her recent rant Why Science Fiction Sucks the Big One. Jay’s main complaint is that science fiction writers lack imagination.

…science-fiction writers appear to be even less able to imagine the future than the average cat. In the eighteenth century, science fiction consisted of: we travel to places quite quickly with our new hover-horses, and we wear hoop skirts with many pockets in them, convenient for storing our super-cool gadgets, like the combination garlic press\candle stick that comes in handy ever so often and we have no idea how people used to live without them, and a loaf of bread costs a whole 90 cents these days! Science fiction today is pretty much the same crap, with different hover crafts, and slightly different gadgets, but never different by much, and slightly different spellings, like putting a K where a C belonged.

Obviously, most readers of SF Signal (sf fans) would disagree. Perhaps Jay needs a “gatewaytitle?

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SF Tidbits for 2/21/07

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REVIEW: Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett

REVIEW SUMMARY: Pratchett’s clever wit and humor throughout a story of time manipulation.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Two Monks of History and the granddaughter of Death race to stop a young genius from completing the perfect clock – one that will halt time as we know it.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Pratchett’s humor is in typical form – a chortle, guffaw or snort on practically every page; some light philosophy.

CONS: A bit of re-used humor.

BOTTOM LINE: Good additon to the Discworld line.

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Interview with Stuart Clark

Recently I had the chance to read Project U.L.F. by Stuart Clark. I enjoyed the book (as you can see in my review) and was pleased when Stuart agreed to a short interview with me. Read on to learn about this first-time author and his take on the genre and the writing process.

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REVIEW: The Plot to Save Socrates by Paul Levinson

REVIEW SUMMARY: Intricately-plotted time travel with a little philosophy thrown in for good measure.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Graduate student Sierra Waters travels back in time to learn the true identity of Heron of Alexandria and to save the philosopher Socrates from his tragic appointment with a cup of hemlock.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Wonderfully intricate plotting; historically accurate and, thus, unexpectedly educational.

CONS: Light on characterization; characters had little regard for safety or implications time travel.

BOTTOM LINE: A thinking person’s time travel story.

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It Came From Lake Michigan

We received an email from the Director of the It Came From Lake Michigan Film Fest which will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin between October 26th and 28th 2007.

This is their 2nd year of the independent genre film festival and they are trying to get the word out so more Sci-Fi films can entered. Any aspiring filmmakers out there may want to check them out.

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SF Tidbits for 2/20/07

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As I was perusing my collection of science fiction books, I thumbed open a copy of Cordwainer Smith’s short story collection Space Lords. The beginning pages had this dedication.

DEDICATED

to the memory of

ELEANOR JACKSON of LOUISA, VIRGINIA

20 February 1919 to 30 November 1964

Dear Eleanor:

You came out to my house to tend me, Eleanor, while I was sick and trying to finish this book. You died in the little guest room next to my bedroom. You spent the night there because you wanted to get a special breakfast for me, Eleanor, since I was sick at home while my wife had to be taken to a hospital, too.

You died there in my house, Eleanor; you looked very sleepy when you were dead, like one of the little “colored” dolls that they have at the department stores in America.

You were a Negro, Eleanor, and I have been called white. For seventeen years you shared my home, cooking, cleaning, and tending my things in America. You were a woman and I am a man. In seventeen years, we were thousands of times just the two of us in the house, and there was never an indecent gesture or an unchaste word from one of us to the other. I was kind, generous, courteous, and thoughtful toward you, and you were kind, generous, courteous and thoughtful toward me.

Only when the blue-clad police carried your little body away did I finally say to the morgue station wagon those words which I never said to you in life, “I love you, Eleanor. Where are you going, my little brown girl?”

I know where you are, Eleanor. Your little body is in a box somewhere on the other side of the world, in Virginia. I am back here In Australia again. But I can tell you this, Eleanor. I honor and remember the seventeen years of your intelligence and kindness, while I was called master and you were called servant. I’ll see the real you again, Eleanor, in a friendly place in Which we both believe.

Cordwainer Smith

Cordwainer Smith died in 1966, a little more than 1 year after this dedication first appeared in print.

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