Tube Bits For 10/17/2007

  • WFAA.com has a neat article on how many comic writers started out as TV writers. The fact that writing for a TV show, which has budgetary constraints and thus limits what you can show and write, seems to go well with the constrained medium that is comics. They also have a nice list at the end showing the writers, the shows they’ve written for, and the comics they’ve done.
  • John Kenneth Muir takes on the Star Trek mythos in his detailed blog entry: The Measure of a Man: The Star Trek Mythos and Identity. He does a very nice job of detailing why Star Trek has appealed, and still does, to many different people.
  • It looks like both Chuck and Heroes gained some audience with their latest episodes (I haven’t seen them yet). Is it just me or do the ratings numbers look really small? Wasn’t Jericho axed for similar ratings?
  • Can’t get enough Heroes? Then head on over to G4 TV on Saturdays to catch a re-airing of the show, and stick around after for live audience reaction and other stuff you can only get on G4. I think this marks the only semi-interesting show on G4 these days…

Filed under: Tube Bits

REVIEW SUMMARY: A commendable and worthwhile swan song for the Infinity Plus website.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: An omnibus of two previously released anthologies containing a total of 26 sf/f stories.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: 18 stories good or better, with 7 of those reaching excellence; a fine representation of what the Infinity Plus website had to offer.

CONS: 8 stories mediocre or worse.

BOTTOM LINE: Infinity Plus – The Anthology offers stories that are both diverse and quite enjoyable.

The Infinity Plus website was one of the first to offer free online fiction to science fiction and fantasy fans, way before it was ever in vogue. The site was the brainchild of Keith Brooke (and later co-edited with Nick Gevers and Paul Barnett) and just recently closed its virtual doors after a 10-year run that saw the publication of two anthologies: Infinity Plus One and Infinity Plus Two.

As a swan song, Solaris has released Infinity Plus – The Anthology, an omnibus edition that slightly reorders the stories as they were presented in the original anthologies. At 687 pages, the book is fairly big for its mass market paperback-like size. Still, it would have been nice to see a few pages spent on story introductions and author bios rather than being pointed to the Infinity Plus website for details.

The stories represent those that were chosen by the editors when they asked authors to pick the stories they felt deserved renewed attention. The resulting quality is about what you would reasonably expect from an anthology: some stories are more successful than others. Apply your own personal taste filter. On the bright side, this has more good stuff than bad. I do wonder if any thought was given to including any fiction that has appeared online since Infinity Plus Two saw print in 2003. They’ve published some big names over the years…

Standout stories in Infinity Plus – The Anthology include “Radio Waves” by Michael Swanwick, “Home Time” by Ian R. MacLeod, “Memories of the Flying Ball Bike Shop” by Garry Kilworth, “The Arcevoalo” by Lucius Shepard, “Faithful” by Ian McDonald, “The Old Rugged Cross” by Terry Bisson and “Swiftly” by Adam Roberts.

Individual story reviews follow…

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Book Review

SF Tidbits for 10/16/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 10/16/2007

  • Amazon’s Unbox service has some interesting freebies for us this week. In case you missed them, you can see the premier episodes of Supernatural and The Search for the Next Elvira. That’s right, Elvira. You know you want to watch, and it’s free!
  • The LA Times looks at the looming writers strike in Hollywood. Nov. 1 is the deadline and if an agreement isn’t reached, you can bet all scripted shows will grind to a halt. Heroes? Interrupted. LOST? Only a few eps written. You’d think in an era of shrinking audiences and a wider array of entertainment choices for consumers, the suits and the creative types would figure a way to settle their differences.
  • To elaborate on the above theme, Kati Irons of Blogcritics Magazine has a problem. Namely, how to watch all the interesting shows on TV. The result? A cool little formula to help her decide what to watch live, and what to watch later. Sorry Bionic Woman.
  • Much like our own John, Marcho at Flick Direct has some issues with season 2 of Heroes. I agree with most of the issues, although I can see how a bunch of gangsters won’t look to kindly on anyone who might, in any way, be connected to missing iPods. And yes, the issues here are a result of the producers having to vamp their way to a second season with the majority of the old cast, instead of the mostly new cast we were promised.
  • Is anyone watching The Big Bang Theory? I ask because Isaac Asimov’s daughter, Robyn, gives her approval to the show, calling it “delightfully witty, a brilliant mix of intelligent dialogue with comedy…”. I’m still not interested.
  • Jon Halter on Boardgamegeek.com reviews the Star Blazers Fleet Battle System game. Based on the anime, Star Blazers, he says it captures the feel of the show, while still being an entertaining game in its own right. Hopefully the rule set is much smaller than those for Starfleet Battles.

Filed under: Tube Bits

REVIEW: Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik

REVIEW SUMMARY: Novik continues the Temeraire saga with an effort that is good, but not great.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Frantically searching to find a cure for an illness affecting all of Britain’s dragons, Temeraire finds himself in Africa and involved with his nations distasteful addiction to slavery.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Fun, light read that continues a story involving characters I have become invested in

CONS: Plot wanders quite a bit, book was either book-split or the ending was butchered, writing not near as concise and solid as the first book.

BOTTOM LINE: If you have read the other books, you’ll probably enjoy reading this one but be left a bit wanting. There are some serious subjects here that get treated far too lightly and the ending is abrupt.

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Book Review

I found this trailer for M. John Harrison’s book Nova Swing on YouTube:

I don’t normally see many book trailers in my day-to-day web surfing. Does anyone find these effective beyond letting you know that a book is available? Have you ever bought a book based on a book trailer?

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 10/15/07

  • The UK SF Book News Network talks to Tim Lebbon, author of the British Fantasy Award-winning novel, Dusk. “I always had quite a strong idea of what I wanted to write about, and also a determination that creatures and other ‘created’ things would come out of my own head, not be nicked from other books. There are no orcs, elves or dragons in Dusk because someone else made them up.”
  • Over at NPR, Rick Kleffel audio-interviews Austin Grossman (Soon I will Be Invincible). [via Locus Online]
  • Edward Champion jumps in the Death-of-the-Short-Story waters with his post Whither the Short Story?
  • Mark Chadbourn says Richard Dawkins Is Killing SF. “…the quality of SF is arguably at an all-time high, a new golden age of speculative fiction. I can name several authors whose books will undoubtedly be read in decades to come, and I’m sure you can name many more. Fantasy – and I’m stating this as charitably as I can – has not produced so many quality works.”
  • S. M. Duke discusses The Literary Nazis (or Why the Literary Academia Hates SF). (Short version: science, simplicity and lack of thought, failure, they just don’t get it and they’re hypocrites.)
  • New/Updated at Gutenberg: Greylorn by Keith Laumer.
  • New at ManyBooks.net: “The Stoker and the Stars” by Algis Budrys, “Gravity’s Angel” by Tom Maddox and “Toy Shop” by Harry Harrison.
  • The Daily Record interviews Christopher Eccleston. “I think a younger audience is much more exacting than adults actually… they’re much fiercer in their attachment once they’ve taken you to your heart, but they have better detectors than us.” [via Outpost Gallifrey]
  • AfterEllen lists The Top 11 Lesbian/Bi Moments in Sci Fi and Fantasy. They are mostly from TV…not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  • George Lucas is (surprise, surprise) looking for a few good writers to work on his Star Wars television show.
  • It had to happen: Star Wars zombies!
  • Cory Doctorow apologizes to Ursula K. Le Guin after he posted Le Guin’s short comic piece “On Serious Literature” in its entirety without her permission.

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 10/15/2007

  • The Vancouver Sun discusses all the SF shows and movies that have been shot in and around Vancouver. It’s amazing the number of shows the SciFi Channel has produced there, and, of course, why Flash Gordon looks like a poor man’s Stargate SG-1.

  • For all you Dr. Who fans, Sarah Lancashire is set to appear opposite David Tennant in a future episode. Apparently, Ms. Lancashire is a former BBC soap star and is thrilled to appear to appear on the show.
  • The IllusionTV blog lists 11 Sci-Fi TV Themes I Love. I hate to say it, but I’ve never really liked the Dr. Who theme, but I really like the theme to The Wild, Wild West. But the one theme I think that should be there but isn’t, the original Battlestar Galactica, I even had the soundtrack to that.
  • Looking for some SF anime to watch but afraid to enter the torrent network? Funimation has two episodes of the Gonzo Studios (Last Exile) production: Glass Fleet. They are showing episodes 2 and 3. Go figure. I’ve heard some bad things about this series, so maybe the first episode is terrible.
  • On the Galactica Blog, Jamie Bamber says its ‘unfortunate‘ that Galactica is on the SciFi Channel. That’s today’s reality, but with the networks dying a slow death, SF will have to turn to cable and new media to reach people.

Filed under: Tube Bits

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
How many films have you seen from the list of Top 50 Dystopian Movies of All Time?

RESULTS

(108 total votes)

This is about the curve I’d expect.

Two comments this week:

“And I wonder why I look at the world the way I do.” – General X

“F. Dystopians are to Dinosaurs what Midichlorians are to Jedi, right?” – Trent

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about The Death of the Used Bookstore!

Filed under: Polls

What Makes Isaac Asimov Write?

In February 1979, Time magazine looked at the life and work of Isaac Asimov, coinciding with the publication of his 200th book (Opus 200).

The article is What Makes Isaac Write? Here’s an excerpt:

Forbidden to read the lurid pulp magazines sold in the store, Isaac pored over science-fiction monthlies. He soon began to send them short stories. At an age when many fellow students were struggling to express themselves, Asimov, who entered Columbia University’s Seth Low Junior College at age 15, helped pay for his college and graduate school with fiction that sold for a penny a word. At a time when many young men were looking for their first postcollege jobs, Asimov published what became one of the most anthologized sci-fi stories in history, Nightfall, a speculation about how man would view the stars if they appeared only once every thousand years.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 10/14/07

  • Dark Roasted Blend interviews Jeff VanderMeer (Shriek: An Afterword) and also includes some very weird but wonderful illustrations. “I think a really good writer doesn’t show you your reflection in the mirror–a really good writer puts you in an alien place with strange people and either makes them familiar, makes you realize they’re no different than you, or blows the back of your skull away by not allowing you to escape someone else’s reality.”
  • The SFWA has reprinted a letter from Ursula K. Le Guin which takes issue with Cory Doctorow’s posting of Le Guin’s short comic piece “On Serious Literature”.
  • S. M. Duke shares a journal entry for a literature class that addresses the SF-as-Literature/Books-are-Dying perennials: “I think the problem isn’t that the novel is dying, because in reality, it’s not, but rather that the rigid and sometimes rather close-minded idea of what constitutes as true literature is no longer something that any significant majority of people are interested in.”
  • TGPO lists The 3 Worst Science Fiction Movie Inventions. (Short version: Computer interface without instructions, Talking Computers, and The Ray Gun/Laser Rifle/Blaster/Phaser.)
  • Ben Bova asks: What if phenomena aren’t really natural? “Are there some questions, some problems, to which we will never be able to find an answer, no matter how hard we strive, because the matter is beyond our powers of comprehension?”
  • The most recent episode of Boing Boing TV is an homage to Blade Runner.
  • BBC’s 7th Dimension is re-airing an audio version William Gibson’s Burning Chrome on October 18th. [via SFF Audio]

Filed under: Tidbits

SF Tidbits for 10/13/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits Fo 10/13/2007

  • Many of us remember The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones from its early 90′s run on TV. The first set of DVDs will be released on Oct. 23rd and will be jam packed with extras, including 38 in-depth documentaries on the episodes with people like Colin Powell, Martin Scorsese and James Earl Jones (who is still not dead). Two more sets are to follow.
  • Like Torchwood and can’t wait to own the DVDs? BBC America is letting fans vote for the cover art for the DVD release. Starting Oct. 15th, you can go to their special web site and stuff the ballot.
  • It appears that The Land Of The Lost (lost lost lost) will be made into a comedic motion picture starring Will Ferrell. The TV show, especially the first season, wasn’t intentionally funny and did have some outstanding SF writers aboard. Another strike for the movie: It won’t be about Marshall, Will and Holly, but a paleontologist, his assistant and a tour guide. No word on how menacing the Sleestak will be.
  • This is the last Sci Fi Channel news item for today, I promise! To promote the upcoming Wizard of Oz re-imagines project, Tin Man, Sci Fi has created the Infinite O.Z. website to allow viewers to experience the new world of Oz. Before anyone gets too excited here, let’s remember that the people who created Tin Man are the same as those who sucked all the fun out of the new Flash Gordon. I don’t care how interesting the previews look, I still don’t know if I’m going to watch this, considering the train wreck that is Flash.
  • Blog Critics magazine reviews the first three episodes of Journeyman and actually contrasts it against Quantum Leap instead of saying its like QL. I still haven’t seen it and I’m still not interested. Anyone care to persuade me otherwise?
  • The Dakota Voice looks at the lack of faith, as in religious, Christian or otherwise, in the various Star Trek series. Rodenberry was an avowed atheist and it shows in the series’ avoidance of religion as a whole. For more in-depth discussion on this topic, pick up the excellent Boarding The Enterprise (review) and read the essay ‘We Find The One Quite Adequate’ by SF Signal fanboy, Michael Burstein.
  • And in case you’ve been under a rock for the past year, Battlestar Galactica begins it fourth, and last, season in 2008. Check out this trailer for the fourth season:

Filed under: Tube Bits

VIDEO: Lessing’s Reaction to The Nobel Win

As reported in just about every news story on Doris Lessing’s Nobel Prize for Literature win, Ms. Lessing was told the news by a group of reporters and cameramen waiting on her doorstep when she returned from the stores. Here is her reaction:

[via GalleyCat]

Filed under: Books

To celebrate the release of Gene Simmon’s Zipper (HEL-lo!), let us recall the surreal experience of KISS Meet The Phantom Of The Park with this mercifully brief snippet.

For the truly sadistic, the complete show can also be found on YouTube in several parts. Just follow the trail of suck starting at Part 1.

Filed under: TV

Gene Simmons’ Zipper

Simmons Comics, owned by Gene Simmons (yes, that Gene Simmons) is publishing their first science fiction comic. It’s called Zipper. Well, technically, it’s called Gene Simmons’ Zipper, but I’m not one to pick nits, especially when it comes to some dude’s zipper.

Here is the website’s description of the comic:

Gene Simmons creates his own version of the classic “stranger in a strange land” tale with his latest comic book, ZIPPER! After a daring escape from his other-dimensional home, the Nether Ether, denizen Xeng Ral finds himself on planet Earth–lost, alone, curious and confused. Protected only by a specially equipped exo-suit, Xeng Ral sets out to explore his new world, desperately evading those who would hunt him down from the Nether Ether.

A 6-issue subscription runs for $24.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 10/12/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Most Anticipated Movies

MovieTickets.com surveyed 2000 moviegoers to gauge their interest level in upcoming movies. Apparently there was a list and voters where asked to rank the movies from 1 to 5. The winner should shock just about no one: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. When you think about it, Indy was almost as big as Star Wars back in the day and his fans are legion and clamoring for more. The release of the DVD set reminded me just how much damn fun the movies were, and how much I like Indy as a character. So, you can bet I’ll be there opening day, probably with fanboys John and Tim in tow. Not only would Indy 4 be the only movie from the list that I would give a 5 to, its probably the only movie I’ll even go watch in the theater. Yes, fanboy am I.

The rest of the top 5:

  • The Dark Knight (Batman 2) – I liked the first one well enough, and I’ll see this one but most likely a rental.
  • National Treasure: Book Of Secrets – Another decent first movie, but now it looks like the horse has been shipped off to the glue factory.
  • American Gangster – I’ve never even heard of this movie until now and I still have no motivation to see it.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – This may be the only other movie I see in the theater and you can bet it’ll be my kids plotting ways to get me to take them. Darn kids. Why, when I was a kid, we didn’t have fantasy movies based on books, we had muppets!

You can see the rest of the top 20 at the link provided. The non-kid provoked theater attending possibilities are: I Am Legend (and that’s very iffy) and Speed Racer. Before I go fire up my Raiders CD, what movies are you looking forward to?

Filed under: Movies

Apologies in advance. This is oh-so-painful, yet I cannot look away…

[via MonkeyFilter]

Filed under: Star Wars

Doris Lessing has won the 2007 Nobel Prize for literature.

Some quotes from around the InterTubes:

“By combining literary science fiction with a stringent, pioneering brand of feminism, Lessing gave a glimpse of the qualities for which she was to become famous.” – The Guardian

“When I was starting out, science fiction was a little genre over there, which only a few people read. But now — where are you going to put, for example, Salman Rushdie? Or any of the South American writers? Most people get by calling them magical realists.” – Doris Lessing in this Newsday interview.

“Ms. Lessing’s strongest legacy may be that she inspired a generation of feminists with her breakthrough novel, ‘The Golden Notebook.’” – New York Times

“They can’t give a Nobel to someone who’s dead so I think they were probably thinking they had better give it to me now before I popped off.” – The 87-year-old Lessing quoted by BBC News.

“Although Ms. Lessing at the beginning of her writing career had a few admirable qualities, I find her work for the past 15 years quite unreadable … fourth-rate science fiction” – American literary critic Harold Bloom quoted by Associated Press, discussing the “pure political correctness” of Lessing’s win.

Perhaps that Bloom guy is just jealous that the award comes with a cash prize of… [inset Dr. Evil voice]…1.6 million dollars?

As for me, I am complete: I have read a Pulitzer winning novel (The Road) and now the work of a Nobel-winning author (Lessing’s The Fifth Child). Single file, ladies…

Filed under: Books

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