Test Drive: Book Lamp

This is interesting:

BookLamp.org is a system for matching readers to books through an analysis of writing styles, similar to the way that Pandora.com matches music lovers to new music. Do you like Stephen King’s It, but thought it was too long? The technology behind BookLamp allows you to find books that are written with a similar tone, tense, perspective, action level, description level, and dialog level, while at the same time allowing you to specify details like… half the length. It’s impervious to outside influences – like advertising – that impact socially driven recommendation systems, and isn’t reliant on a large user base to work.

The website has a video that explains the ideas behind it…

I’ve talked before about book recommendations, but this is the first one I’ve heard of that analyzes writing style and uses it as the basis for the recommendation. So I signed up and took it for a test drive…

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Filed under: Web Sites

SF Tidbits for 3/22/08

Filed under: Tidbits

This doesn’t quite qualify as a Friday YouTube entry since it’s audio only, but damn, this is good stuff. I believe this is from Dreams with Sharp Teeth, the documentary of Harlan Ellison that features Robin Williams.

[Poe TV]

Filed under: BooksMovies

SF Tidbits for 3/21/08

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits for 3/21/08

  • SCI FI Wire sez: David Eick (BSG, Bionic Woman) is working on a pilot script for a proposed TV series based on Children of Men, P.D. James’ excellent SF novel, which also inspired the well-received (and totally awesome) Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 film of the same name. I’m keeping my eye on this one. I loved the book and loved the film. The setting is beautifully depressing.
  • She’ll be Bach…TV Guide‘s Michael Ausiello says that The Sarah Connor Chronicles will most likely be returning, if the hiring of directors and staff is to be believed. [via SF universe]
  • In related news, Cinema Blend has Terminator 4 plot details, including the possibility of connecting all 3 previous films with The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series.
  • SyFy Portal has spoliers for Heroes for season 3.
  • Doctor Who series/season 4 start dates: April 5th in the U.K. and April 18th in the U.S. [via SFX]
  • I agree with Show Me SciFi: The much-hyped appearance of the BSG cast doing Letterman’s Top 10 was Superlame. Most of the lines were over-delivered. Exception: Number 5 was laugh-out-loud funny. Check it.

Filed under: Tube Bits

Friday YouTube: Space: 1899!

[via Poe TV]

Filed under: TV

NOMINEES: 2008 Hugo Award

SF Scope has posted the 2008 Hugo Award Final Ballot.

[NOTE: Short fiction titles link to free online versions, if available. This is sure to be updated in the coming weeks, so check back for updates!]





  • Last Contact” by Stephen Baxter (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, ed. George Mann, Solaris Books) [See SF Signal review]
  • Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s June 2007)
  • Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?” by Ken MacLeod (The New Space Opera, ed. by Gardner Dozois, and Jonathan Strahan, HarperCollins/Eos)
  • Distant Replay” by Mike Resnick (Asimov’s April/May 2007)
  • A Small Room in Koboldtown” by Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s April/May 2007, The Dog Said Bow-Wow, Tachyon Publications)

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Filed under: Awards

Borders May Be Up for Sale

The good news: There’s a sale at Borders!

The bad news: The sale just might be Borders itself. Oh noes!

Publishers Weekly is reporting that Borders is considering selling the company and/or certain divisions.

From the Borders press release:

Borders Group, Inc. today announced the launch of a strategic alternative review process. J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. have been retained as the company’s financial advisors to assist the company as it explores strategic alternatives. The review process will include the investigation of a wide range of alternatives including the sale of the company and/or certain divisions for the purpose of maximizing shareholder value. The company can give no assurances that a transaction of any kind will occur.

Following Jeff Vandermeer’s cue, let’s buy it ourselves! They got tons of shelf space and I’m out of room.

Filed under: Books

MIND MELD: The Appeal of SF&F Art

If you’re like us, there’s nothing quite like a really cool piece of science fiction or fantasy art. For this week’s Mind Meld we decided to ask the SF&F artist community about what they find appealing about science fiction, fantasy and art. (Special thanks to Lou Anders for his help in bringing this Mind Meld together. Thanks Lou!)

And now, our question:

Q: As an illustrator, what was it that drew you to science fiction and fantasy to begin with, and what place do you feel illustration has in the science fiction and fantasy field?
Todd Lockwood
Todd Lockwood‘s work defined the 3rd Edition of D&D, graced the covers of R.A. Salvatore’s books and for Tor, DAW, Pyr, Asimov’s, Analog, and others. He is the winner of 12 Chesleys, umpteen art-show awards, and will be the Artist Guest of Honor at World Fantasy 2008 in Calgary

Among my earliest memories are the dragon in Sleeping Beauty, as seen through the front windshield of the family car at a drive in, and of a giant eyeball chasing astronauts through a weird alien set on a black & white TV.

I was hooked early.

It was the era of the space race and television; Zorro and Batman and moonshot coverage competed with Gunsmoke and Wells Fargo for my love. One of my most treasured possessions was my G.I. Joe space capsule and astronaut. Lost in Space almost captured me in the third grade, though it became stupid pretty quickly. But Star Trek changed everything. Science, plus fiction, coupled with amazing visuals … and my first taste of social consciousness. Later, 2001: A Space Odyssey would push science fiction into philosophical terrain as yet undiscovered by me, and the first two Planet of the Apes movies would awaken my political awareness in a big way by killing my heroes, trashing our civilization, then destroying the planet. The movies drove me to the books, where Arthur C. Clark asked questions about life, the universe, and everything, and Isaac Asimov laid down the law for robots.

Everything I learned that I remembered best came from a science fiction movie or book. I learned about PH from The Andromeda Strain before I was old enough to have a chemistry class. Fantastic Voyage taught me more about the human body than any 5th grader had business knowing; most adults couldn’t tell you what a fistula was — but I knew. Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man introduced me to Psychology. Valley of Gwangi pushed me right over the edge with dinosaurs; I devoured every text about them I could find. The fiction made me hungry for the science.

When I discovered Tolkien (after rejecting it several times; who wants to read about elves and dwarves?) I realized that Fantasy could have something to say, too. Fantasy and its mythic roots led me to Joseph Campbell and a whole new understanding of religion and mythology and the fuzzy boundaries between the two.

Fantastic fiction speaks to our thirst for knowledge, our hunger for personal discovery, our desire to shape and understand our environment, by asking “what if?” and playing with the answers.

As a visually-oriented kid, the art of it all was key. Good writing in books evoked mental images that I had to explore; I learned to draw largely by creating my own science fiction and super-hero comic books. The ground-breaking and mind-bending special effects in Forbidden Planet, 2001, and Marooned taught me to look at the world with a more critical eye, and to make use of the sciences to inform my art. Geometry and Perspective go hand in hand, the physics of bodies in motion are essential to good art, as are understandings of color theory, geology (a mountain is not a pyramid), astronomy and astrology, history, even the psychology of perception … on and on.

Good art makes it all the more real. Art informs. Art, like writing and movie-making, is an exploration into the unknowns without and within. It ponders realms that cannot be photographed or described with words, because they are ineffable and timeless. It helps connect the emotional and visceral with the cognitive and philosophical, the unreal with the real. At its best, it teaches or amuses, shocks or disturbs; it makes you look again, and then again – only deeper.

It takes the question “what if?” and answers “perhaps this…”

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Filed under: Mind Meld

REVIEW: Glasshouse by Charles Stross


Where Halting State sounds like a riff on Dreampark. Glasshouse actually has more in common with Dreampark than Halting State. Glasshouse takes place in the far future, where post-human humanity has been ravaged by war. Unfortunately, a virus was released that makes people forget the cause of the war and why they are fighting. This leads to the fragmentation of humanity as those who are trying to piece civilization back together must contend with those who are still infected. Enter Robin, who seems to have an assassin tracking him down, but he can’t remember why. Robin voluntarily under went a memory wipe to try and reprogram himself into something different. This wipe also makes him a good candidate to enter the experimental ‘Glasshouse’, whose inhabitants are recreating the time period 1950-2040, in a completely isolated environment. However, those who want to kill him may have followed him there.

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Filed under: Book Review

More Arthur C. Clarke Links and Appreciations

Adding to the previous list of appreciations and links, her’s another batch. For more, please see Google News and Blog searches for “Arthur C. Clarke”.

Filed under: Books

TOC: Fast Forward 2 edited by Lou Anders

Lou Anders reveals the table of contents for his upcoming anthology Fast Forward 2.

  1. “Catherine Drew” by Paul Cornell
  2. “Cyto Couture” by Kay Kenyon
  3. “The Sun Also Explodes” by Chris Nakashima-Brown
  4. “The Kindness of Strangers” by Nancy Kress
  5. “Alone With An Inconvenient Companion” by Jack Skillingstead
  6. “True Names” by Cory Doctorow & Benjamin Rosenbaum
  7. “Molly’s Kids” by Jack McDevitt
  8. “Adventure” by Paul McAuley
  9. “Not Quite Alone in the Dream Quarter” by Mike Resnick & Pat Cadigan
  10. “An Eligible Boy” by Ian McDonald
  11. “SeniorSource” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  12. “Migration” by Karl Schroeder and Tobias S. Buckell
  13. “Long Eyes” by Jeff Carlson
  14. “The Gambler” by Paolo Bacigalupi

There’s also Lou’s introduction/essay, The Age of Accelerating Returns.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 3/20/08

  • Sarah Zettel returns to the world of science fiction with the tentatively-titled Bitter Angels. I read Zettel’s 1993 short story “Fools Errand” (the basis for the novel Fool’s War) and loved it, so I this is good news for sf. [via SFScope]
  • At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Ian McDonald, author of Brasyl.
  • Grasping for the Wind interviews Pamela Freeman, author of Blood Ties.
  • PodioMedia Chat podcast-interviews SFFAudio proprietor, Jesse Willis
  • Jason Stoddard doesn’t see a lot of “visionary” in sf past and present when he says Science Fiction Fails the Long View. Not sure I agree. Just because a prediction (which is what he’s talking about, really) fails to come true, doesn’t necessarily mean it lacks vision, just that it’s a bad prediction. Many writers are still thinking of cool ideas and inventions. So what if they don’t come to pass? It’s still fun to mind-chew.
  • The latest issue of The Internet Review of Science Fiction has been posted and includes an interview with Jo Walton by Lyda Morehouse, and essay by Steven Utley (Science Fiction or Not? Frankenstein as a case study in defining SF), Chicks Rule: The Rise of Female-Oriented Fantasy and Science Fiction by Cynthia Ward,
  • Recently free fiction at ManyBooks.net: “The Stars, My Brothers” by Edmond Hamilton (1962)
  • Time Traveler Show podcast #24 features “Missing Link” by Frank Herbert.
  • For the writers:
  • Christopher Paul Carey tells us to swing on over to documen.tv and pay the well-worth-it $5 to watch the hour-long documentary I, Tarzan, which features Philip José Farmer tearing up as he talks about his in-the-flesh interview with Tarzan.
  • Cover Pr0n:
  • Another you should be checking out the group Art Blog Gorilla Artfare…these sketches by Dead Mello.
  • Are you Droid enough to take the Atom Films Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge? Submit your parody, fan fiction or mash-up by May 27. Top fan movies will be selected by AtomFilms and Lucasfilm — with George Lucas as one of the judges. (Don’t be surprised if George thinks it should be faster and more intense.)
  • Speaking of Star Wars, ThinkGeek sells a Do-It-Yorself Lightsaber Kit, which essentially consists of a bunch of fitted tubes.

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits for 3/20/08

Filed under: Tube Bits

REMINDER: Cast of BSG on Letterman Tonight

This is just a friendly reminder that the cast of Battlestar Galactica will be appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman tonight. They will be presenting the nightly Top 10 list.

See original post.

Filed under: Battlestar GalacticaTV

Here’s Orson Scott Card’s response to last week’s Mind Meld on young adult sf/f fiction, which was received after the post was published:

Q: It seems that more and more, fiction marketed as “Young Adult” deals with mature themes. Has it crossed a line? Is young adult sf/f is too explicit?
Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools. Card also writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series The Tales of Alvin Maker (beginning with Seventh Son), poetry (An Open Book), and many plays and scripts.

It seems to me that if YA writers want to write about adult stuff, they should change category. Nothing stops young readers from following them into the adult shelves. When the YA label is placed on a book, it’s a promise to parents, teachers, and librarians that certain standards are being adhered to.

This is not a trivial matter. There is genuine damage to some young readers from being exposed too early to sexual or overly violent material. Other young readers seem to be unharmed. But the writer is in no position to judge the maturity of each reader. That is up to parents, teachers, and librarians – and part of the information they use is the YA label.

When you put out a book with “adult” content under a YA label, you’re not a hero of artistic liberty, you’re a liar and a cheat. You want to keep getting the same income by pretending your writing belongs in a category that you have left behind.

Filed under: Mind Meld

Arthur C. Clarke Links and Video

There is often a compulsion to seek out the written works of recently departed authors, as if reading their work can hopefully, in some small way, keep them with us a little bit longer. To that end, I’ve rounded up a few links to some online stories of Sir Arthur C. Clarke. If you don’t own any of his work, you should. See why through these links…


Finally, here is the man himself, reflecting on his life on his 90th birthday in December 2007:

“I am sometimes asked how I would like to be remembered. I’ve had a diverse career as a writer, underwater explorer, space promoter and science popularizer. Of all these, I want to be remembered most as a writer – one who entertained readers and, hopefully, stretched their imaginations as well.”

“Overhead…the stars are going out”

[Links via

Best Science Fiction Stories, Free Speculative Fiction Online, Living the Limnal, Free SF Reader, and Laughing Squid]

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 3/19/08

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits for 3/19/08

  • USA Today reviews tonight’s FX airing of The Core “an intoxicatingly awful adventure that is, in its own completely committed, deliriously goofy, warped science way, far more fun than any number of more carefully competent movies.” I think that’s a compliment. The critic continues: “The Earth’s core has stopped moving, which has damaged the magnetic field, short-circuited pacemakers and made pigeons so disoriented by their lack of long-range radar, they apparently forget how to use their eyes. All that stands between us and destruction is a dedicated corps of underemployed actors, led by Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank and Stanley Tucci.” Er, I’ll pass.
  • Entertainment Weekly interviews George Lucas about the upcoming animated and live-action Star Wars series and 3-D versions of the Star Wars films. The only thing that beats Princess Leia in a metal bikini is Princess Leia in a metal bikini COMIN’ AT ‘YA!
  • Geek Speak begins listing The 100 Greatest Things About Star Trek (Part 1). “Picard maneuver- No, not the real Picard Maneuver. The one where he repeatedly pulls his uniform shirt down when he stands up. It happens so much you start actually watching for it.”
  • From SciFi Wire: Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon told says he is producing a Web-based superhero musical called Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Hmmmm…perhaps that’s why he’s too busy to direct a Battlestar Galactica episode.
  • Back when I was a young ‘un, the lame-@$$ Marvel superhero cartoons they showed featured very little animation. What’s that soldier? I was distracted by the creepy fact that, except for your inhuman lips, you are completely motionless! I suspect NickToons will do better with their upcoming Iron Man and Wolverine cartoons. [via Comic Mix]

Filed under: Tube Bits

RIP: Arthur C. Clarke

Sad news…

SF legend Arthur C. Clarke has passed away at the age of 90.

From BBC:

Legendary British science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke has died in Sri Lanka at the age of 90.

He came to fame when his story was made into the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, by director Stanley Kubrick in 1968.

Once called “the first dweller in the electronic cottage”, his vision captured the popular imagination.

Sir Arthur, who was born in Minehead, Somerset, and was a radar specialist for the RAF in World War II, become a full-time writer in the 1940s.

See also:

[sent in via via Fred and Pawel]

Filed under: Books

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