In a classic moment of office conversation….

The topic rolled into the science fiction and conflicts that would cross world boundaries. At this point, you are most likely thinking that this could be a deep thought provoking discussion regarding some of the great races and powers that have been discussed within the confines of a great number of books, movies and some television shows. You would also be wrong since the conflict in question was: Ewoks versus the Borg. That’s right those plucky little furballs that we all love to hate against the assimilation machine known as the Borg. So, the question is now out there – Ewoks versus the Borg, who would win?

Mike (who now receives my Star Wars Fanboy crown) speculated that Ewoks would win only if Chewbacca was involved since he was responsible for turning the battle for the rebels in Return of the Jedi, but who is to say. Personally, I felt that the whole situation would have been resolved by simply deforesting the planet and then burning it down. That’s how you handle problems of this nature.

And to further complicate matters, what if we throw the Sleestack from Land of the Lost into the mix and make it a Battle Royale for the next possible Undead Time Travelling Entity. So I leave it you, our gentle readers, who would win this battle.

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SF Site has posted the Reader Choice list of best sf/f books of 2006:

  1. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  2. The Thousandfold Thought: The Prince of Nothing, Book 3 by Scott Bakker
  3. Temeraire / His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
  4. Blindsight by Peter Watts [see SF Signal review]
  5. The Bonehunters by Steven Erikson
  6. Fragile Things Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
  7. Glasshouse by Charles Stross
  8. Forest Mage: The Soldier Son, Book 2 by Robin Hobb
  9. Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge [see SF Signal review]
  10. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi [see SF Signal review]

Filed under: Books

Spoilery Thoughts on Heroes

It’s been a few months since my post 5 (Spoilery) Things About Heroes That Annoy the Begeezus Out Of Me. I’m still watching Heroes, but I have a weird love/hate thing with it that demands to be looked into. I am currently at the “liking it a lot” part of an up-and-down mood swing that began at episode #1. The “Company Man” episode aired this week and we got to see a lot of the background of Horn-Rimmed Glasses guy (H.R.G.), Claire’s father. I like the way the show is progressing (mostly) and it doesn’t seem to be standing too still (usually) even though I disagree with the general consensus that creator Tim Kring – unlike the Cylons in BSG – “has a plan”.

Here are my thoughts on the characters and story lines:

SPOILER WARNING!!!

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REVIEW SUMMARY: This anthology makes a good argument for why you should be reading short fiction.

MY RATING:

[Note: When rating an anthology, I usually weight the stories according to length: novellas count twice as much as novelettes, which count twice as much as short stories. Since I did not know for sure the lengths of the stories in this anthology, I weighted each one equally.]

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: 16 original stories of science fiction.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: 4 standout stories; variety of styles and sub-genres.

CONS: 2 weaker stories.

BOTTOM LINE: More good stories than bad; worth the read if only to sample the variety sf has to offer.

The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction is the first book to be published by the Solaris imprint and aims to serve as their manifesto: to publish “outstanding science fiction and fantasy, whatever the form.” Like a large majority of anthologies, your story mileage may vary, but overall, they are off to a really good start.

The book’s brief introduction talks about science fiction’s short form and it is clear that editor George Mann values the “sparkling gems” the format produces. He succinctly cites what’s so exciting about the short form: the “single conceit”, neatly packaged for the bite-size consumption, long enough to explore that single idea (though some stories here could have used an extra page or two to provide better closure) and sometimes the launch pad for linked or longer stories. Short fiction delivers sense of wonder in its purest form.

Perhaps more important to regular short fiction readers is the publication of a promising new anthology that doesn’t add to the already-crowded “Best of…” or themed anthology set, but instead offers a various sampling of what the science fiction genre can accomplish. There are indeed many “gems” here. Standout stories included “C-Rock City” by Jay Lake & Greg van Eekhout, “The Bowdler Strain” by James Lovegrove, “Last Contact” by Stephen Baxter and “Third Person” by Tony Ballantyne.

Reviewlettes of the stories follow….

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Dear Hugo Voter,

We know it’s late and the deadline is a scant two days away, but there has recently been a groundswell to nominate SF Signal for a Hugo Award in the Best Fanzine category. (OK, so maybe it was more of mole hill than a groundswell. And by “mole hill”, we mean two or three people, some of whom might be related to us.) As you may imagine, we are ecstatic. In case you can’t imagine it, picture a bunch of middle-aged geeks running around in small circles doing something that resembles a chicken dance if that chicken were spastic and a danger to anyone nearby. It’s not pretty.

But why, you may be asking yourself, do we deserve such an honor? Well, we could bore you with long, detailed research reports that would most likely put you to sleep like they did us. But instead – and keeping in line with the short-attention-span culture of The Age of The Internets – we present…a list!

7 REASONS TO NOMINATE SF SIGNAL FOR THE BEST FANZINE HUGO

  1. James Patrick Kelly says we should be.
  2. John C. Wright thinks we’re the Matterhorn of Fame. (We concur.)
  3. We serve as a catalyst for Klausner-bashing.
  4. Three words: Forklift safety video!
  5. One of us has a brother who lives in Tokyo and could actually accept the award and, more importantly, stuff the ballot box.
  6. We started the Undead Time Travelling entity revolution, where “entity” includes Nazis and Green Bay Packers.
  7. Our high level of dedication sits somewhere between “Han Shot First” and “Someone set us up the bomb“.

So, if you could somehow see fit to include us on the ballot, we will continue to be the source of crunchy SF (and, yes, supermodels) that folks have come to expect. Also, we promise not to gloat at those “other” nominees. Well…most of them.

We’re just sayin’,

The SF Signal Team

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SF Tidbits for 3/1/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: Eric by Terry Pratchett

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Eric is Pratchett’s novel parodying the classic tale of Faust.

PROS: Some amusing bits

CONS: Not as funny as other books, very short book.

BOTTOM LINE: Aside from continuing the adventures of everyone’s favorite Wizzard, Eric just doesn’t hold up compared to other Discworld books.

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Trek XI On Track For December ’08 Release And Suckage

It’s been confirmed by Paramount that Trek XI will be released on Christmas Day, 2008 and that J.J. Abrams will be directing. But is Abrams, the brains behind Alias and LOST, enough to save this movie? I say ‘No! A thousand times no!”.

Let’s count the ways shall we? Yes, we shall.

  1. The biggest obstacle is the odd-numbered curse. I’m not sure how you can break this cycle of inevitable suckage, but I don’t see Abrams as being able to. Why? Keep reading.
  2. The story. Kirk and Spock at Starfleet. Yawn. This isn’t what made ST:TOS popular. Sure, characters are part of it, but do we really need to see them going on drunken binges and panty raiding the Orion slave girls? No! Except for, maybe, the slave girl part. I know! Abrams ought to make Porkys: The Next Generation.
  3. And if the rumors are true, just look at the cast. Matt Damon as Kirk? Really? Adrien Brody as Spock? Why do I see Alexander Dane from Galaxy Quest? Gary Sinise as McCoy? I like Sinise, but not as McCoy. James McAvoy as Scotty. At least he’s a Scott so he won’t have to fake the accent. And Daniel Dae Kim, from LOST, as Sulu. Isn’t this just reprising his role from Crusade? Now, if he brings Yunjin Kim along to play Yeoman Rand, that would work.
  4. I hear you saying: “Why are you such a hater? You have to cast new people if you’re going to focus on young Kirk and Spock!”. Well, yes, for obvious reasons and no, because you shouldn’t be focusing there at all! My point being that Shatner, Nimoy and crew are the iconic figures of classic Trek. Recasting them will raise the ire of many people and they new actors won’t be accepted by a large portion of the audience. Unless they’re furry. And now that I think about it, the slash people ought to have a field day here…

  5. A lot has been said about Abrams’ work on Alias and LOST and how he’s the guy to breathe new life into Trek. Well, I saw Mission Impossible 3, and if that’s an indication of his feature film ability, then we should pack it in right now. It wasn’t that good. And it was based on an established property. Much like Trek XI. Hmm…

So you see, ladies and gentlemen, far from being a sure thing to ignite the masses of Star Trek fandom, this movie has trainwreck written all over it. Sure, the Galactica re-imagining has worked out, but this? It isn’t even a proper re-imagining, just a focus on a time that isn’t that interesting. STar Trek has some mileage left, I think, but not on re-hashing older characters. We need new stuff. And good stuff.

Filed under: Movies

The New Hampshire Humanities Council is launching a year-long, book-based project called Speculate: a new past, a different present, an out-of-this-world future. The program

Here’s their suggested reading/listening list:

  1. Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress [See SF Signal review.]
  2. Burn by James Patrick Kelly [See SF Signal review.]
  3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury [See SF Signal review.]
  4. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
  5. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  6. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
  7. Martian Race by Gregory Benford
  8. Moon Over Morocco, audio-drama by by ZBS Productions
  9. Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
  10. Neuromancer by William Gibson
  11. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card

[via W@tEotU]

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SF Tidbits for 2/28/07

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Subterranean Magazine Online

The Winter 2007 issue of Subterranean Press Magazine has been posted online with the following offerings:

  • Column: HARVESTING THE DARKNESS #1 by Norman Partridge
  • Fiction: MISSIVES FROM POSSIBLE FUTURES #1: ALTERNATE HISTORY SEARCH RESULTS by John Scalzi
  • Fiction: VACANCY by Lucius Shepard
  • Fiction: WANDERING THE BORDERLANDS by Poppy Z. Brite
  • Review: BOOK REVIEWS by Dorman T. Shindler

[via Big Dumb Object]

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SF Tidbits for 2/27/07

Filed under: Tidbits

NOMINEES: 2006 Nebula Award Ballot (Final)

The SFWA has posted the Final 2006 Nebula Award Ballot. The Nebula Award will be presented in New York City at the 2007 Nebula Awards Weekend, May 11-13, 2007.

Linked story names go to online versions.

NOVELS

  • The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner
  • Seeker by Jack McDevitt
  • The Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford
  • Farthing by Jo Walton
  • From the Files of the Time Rangers by Richard Bowes
  • To Crush the Moon by Wil McCarthy

NOVELLAS

NOVELETTES

SHORT STORIES

SCRIPTS

  • Batman Begins by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki, Cindy Davis Hewitt, and Donald H. Hewitt
  • Battlestar Galactica, “Unfinished Business” by Michael Taylor
  • Doctor Who, “The Girl in the Fireplace” by Steven Moffat

ANDRE NORTON AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

  • Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier
  • Devilish by Maureen Johnson
  • The King Of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
  • Midnighters #2: Touching Darkness by Scott Westerfeld
  • Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
  • Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

See also: Prelimary ballot and past winners.

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REVIEW: D.A. by Connie Willis

REVIEW SUMMARY: D.A. reads like Robert A. Heinlein on speed!

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Theodora Baumgarten is erroneously enrolled as an IASA space cadet and subsequently tries to find out why.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Fast-moving story; Willis’ writing style is thoroughly engaging and highly entertaining.

CONS: Somewhat predictable, especially for fans of Heinlein’s juveniles, to which this story pays homage.

BOTTOM LINE: An excellent novella.

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The Fly Being Remade as…an Opera?

A remake of 1986′s The Fly is headed for the opera stage. You heard me. From The Orlando Sentinel:

Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore, Plácido Domingo and director David Cronenberg are forming an unlikely trio to create an unlikely opera — The Fly.

A co-production by the Theatre du Chatelet and Domingo’s Los Angeles Opera, The Fly will premiere in Paris on July 1, 2008, and open the Los Angeles Opera’s 2008-9 season Sept. 7, 2008. Domingo will conduct both runs.

This is exactly what science fiction needs to give it the class it deserves. And what better way than via an operatic version of a Cronenberg movie? I can’t wait to see Plácido Domingo vomit on some poor bastard’s stump just before he chows down. I bet Luciano Pavarotti is so jealous…

Filed under: Movies

TOC: Year’s Best Fantasy 7

Kathryn Cramer has posted the table of contents for the annual anthology se co-edits with David G. Hartwell, Year’s Best Fantasy 7, to be published in June 2007.

  1. “Hallucigenia” by Laird Barron
  2. “Four Fables” by Peter S. Beagle
  3. “Yours, Etc.” by Gavin Grant
  4. “Sea Air” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
  5. “I’ll Give You My Word” by Diana Wynne Jones
  6. “The Bonny Boy” by Ian Macleod
  7. “Ghost Mission” by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
  8. “The Roaming Forest” by Michael Moorcock
  9. “Show Me Yours” by Robert Reed
  10. “Christmas Witch” by M. Rickert
  11. “Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter” by Geoff Ryman
  12. “The Lepidopterist” by Lucius Shepard
  13. “The Double-Edged Sword” by Sharon Shinn
  14. “Pimpf” by Charles Stross
  15. “An Episode of Stardust” by Michael Swanwick
  16. “The Osteomancer’s Son” by Greg van Eekhout
  17. “Thin, On the Ground” by Howard Waldrop
  18. “The Potter’s Daughter” by Martha Wells
  19. “Build-a-Bear” by Gene Wolfe
  20. “Bea and her Bird Brother” by Gene Wolfe

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SF Tidbits for 2/26/07

Filed under: Tidbits

POLL RESULTS: The Best Trek

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
The 11th Star Trek movie is in production. Which of the previous ones is your favorite?

RESULTS

(146 total votes)

Looks like an “Odd Ones Suck” trend, no? And it generally gets worse as the series number gets higher.

A couple of comments this week:

“I go back and forth between The Undiscovered Country and Nemesis as my favorite. Both deal with similar themes (aging; ending; drifting apart) and I think the inclusion of endings (for characters and stories both) is what gives each film an edge and a stronger tone.” – Pete Tzinski

“Goodness, that is a heck of a list, but one can never go wrong when you have Ricardo and William Shatner in the same movie :) Besides without ST2 – you would never have the immortal phrase: “KHAAAAAAAAN!!!!”” – Tim

“ST2 was great because it was overall small and personal. It involved the personal vendetta of Khan against Kirk, the personal tragedy of Spock, and the personal situation involving Kirk’s son. The other movies all try to be grand and expansive and end up either being all about special effects or huge galactic battles. I fear this will never make a great sci-fi film.” – Scott

Be sure to vote in this week’s poll on The Best Midriff-Baring Space Princess!

Filed under: Polls

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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