By JP Frantz
| Thursday, March 2nd, 2006 at
Amazon has Amazon.com: Firefly – The Complete Series on sale for $20. Wow! If you haven’t bought it yet, now’s your chance. You can’t beat quality entertainment for $20. And if you’re feeling plucky, why not add the Serenity DVD as well and get them both for $38 with free shipping! You can’t beat that with a large caliber weapon…
| Wednesday, March 1st, 2006 at
REVIEW SUMMARY: Another great Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean collaboration.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Helen, the teenage daughter of a circus performer is transported to a strange world when her mother is taken to the hospital. The balance between light and darkness is broken, and darkness is swallowing up the world.
PROS: Even if there was no story at all, the McKean style of imagery would keep you entralled for two hours; story not Gaiman’s best, but quite good
CONS: Special effects, while incredibly engrossing, fall just shy of blockbuster-budget films;
BOTTOM LINE: This is a winner – it appealed to not only a fantasy nut like me, but also my wife and 10-year-old son.
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SF Site has posted their editors’ choice for The Best SF and Fantasy Books of 2005:
- (Tie) The House of Storms by Ian R. MacLeod and Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
- Accelerando by Charles Stross
- Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link
- The Silences of Home by Caitlin Sweet
- (Tie) 9-Tail Fox by Jon Courtenay and Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds
- (Tie) The Hounds of Avalon by Mark Chadbourn and Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach, translated by Doryl Jensen
- The Ultimates 2 by Mark Millar, illustrated by Bryan Hitch
- Vellum: The Book of All Hours by Hal Duncan
- (Tie) The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco, translated by Geoffrey Brock and Woken Furies by Richard Morgan
- Life by Gwyneth Jones
Our recent post which discusses movie adaptations reminded me of the 1994 anthology Reel Future edited by Forrest J. Ackerman and Jean Stine which collects a handful of short stories that were adapted into movies. Here’s the table of contents of that book with the corresponding movies. Three of the sixteen stories are available online.
- “The Empire of the Ants” by H. G. Wells (1905) – filmed as Empire of the Ants in 1977
- “Herbert West—Reanimator” by H. P. Lovecraft (1922) – filmed as Re-Animator in 1985
- “Armageddon—2419 A.D.” by Philip Francis Nowlan (1928) – filmed for television and the movies as Buck Rogers and other titles between 1933 and 1979
- “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr. (1938) – filmed as The Thing From Another World in 1951 and The Thing in 1982
- “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates (1940) – filmed as The Day the Earth Stood Still in 1951 [read the SF Signal review]
- “This Island Earth” by Raymond F. Jones (1952) – filmed as This Island Earth in 1955
- “The Illustrated Man” by Ray Bradbury (1950) – filmed as The Illustrated Man in 1969
- “The Sentinel” by Arthur C. Clarke (1951) – filmed as 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968
- “Seventh Victim” by Robert Sheckley (1953) – filmed as The Tenth Victim in 1965
- “The Racer” by Ib Melchior (1956) – filmed as Death Race 2000 in 1975
- “The Fly” by George Langelaan (1957) – filmed as The Fly in 1956 and 1986 (and apparently a new one is in production)
- “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” by Ray Faraday Nelson (1963) – filmed as They Live in 1988
- “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick (1966) – filmed as Total Recall in 1990
- “Damnation Alley” by Roger Zelazny (1967) – filmed as Damnation Alley in 1977
- “Enemy Mine” by Barry B. Longyear (1979) – filmed as Enemy Mine in 1985
- “Air Raid” by John Varley (1977) – filmed as Millennium in 1989
Books • Movies
This is the February 2006 update of my New Year’s Resolution.
STARTING SF-POINTS©: 47
SF-POINTS© EARNED THIS MONTH: 15 (QUOTA: 28)
YEAR-TO-DATE SF-POINTS©: 62 (YTD QUOTA: 59)
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In his Wired article Forget Film, Games Do Sci-Fi Best, Clive Thompson claims that the Star Wars universe is better realized in games than in the movies. I tend to agree with that statement and would also include (from what I hear) the Star Wars books as well. There is much more room for exploration in games and books than in the few Star Wars movies that exist.
But then Thompson goes a step further and claims that all science fiction is better realized in games than in film.
Why were the games so comparatively good? A cynic would say it’s because Lucas probably isn’t as closely involved in the games, so his young designers aren’t hampered by his inane creative decisions. But I actually suspect it’s deeper than that. I think it’s because games are beginning to rival film — and even eclipse it — as the prime vehicle for sci-fi and fantasy.
An interesting observation, to be sure. It doesn’t help that a large majority of sci-fi films aren’t very good.
Thompson doesn’t mention the book medium much. I suspect he’s more of a gamer than a reader, whereas I am the opposite. Personally, I prefer the world-building of books better than movies. I find it exercises my imagination more than the lazy “here-you-go” visuals of movies. That said, I do enjoy the eye-candy of movies like Star Wars and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
All of which raises the question that asks if film is somehow just a poor medium altogether for science fiction concepts. Is this an explanation of all the poor sci-fi films out there?
I say “No” is the answer. There are some really great sci-fi films out there which dispel that belief – enough of them that it cannot be a fluke. True, the good movies are few and far between. But I think that rather than this being the result of film being a poor medium, it’s just a plethora of bad filmmaking.
What do you think? Is film a poor medium for science fiction?
Games • Movies
[Editor's Note: The following review is by guest reviewer Chris Hibbard.]
REVIEW SUMMARY: The new material in this reprint does not add anything significant to the story but this is still an engaging read.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Re-release of Orson Scott Card’s 1979 “classic”: a tale of a radical regenerative running amok on an imprisoned planet, collecting super powers along the way and searching for redemption and significance.
PROS: Interesting plot that moves along nicely; like the movies X-Men or Spiderman, part of the draw is the character learning new powers.
CONS: This re-release was advertised to have 10% new material but doesn’t add much to the story.
BOTTOM LINE: An engaging read whether you buy the original or the reprint.
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Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.
Forgetting what some quiz says, to which starship crew do you want to belong?
Be sure to vote in this week’s SF in School crew poll.
REVIEW SUMMARY: Another literary experiment that failed to impress.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Brief portraits of 253 train passengers.
PROS: Intriguing concept; easy to read piecemeal.
CONS: Not very interesting.
BOTTOM LINE: More literary experiment than entertainment.
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The final ballot for the SFWA Nebula Awards has been posted. (And I am confused. The post says they are the 2005 Nebulas. Is this a typo? Last year’s awards, held in 2005, were called the 2005 Nebula awards even though they awarded works from 2004. Shouldn’t this year be the 2006 Nebula Awards?) Anyway, here are the nominees:
- Air by Geoff Ryman
- Camouflage by Joe Haldeman
- Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
- Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke [SF Signal review]
- Polaris by Jack McDevitt
- Orphans of Chaos by John C. Wright [SF Signal review]
- “Act of Contrition/You Can’t Go Home Again” (Battlestar Galactica)
- Serenity by Joss Whedon [SF Signal review]
Andre Norton Award
- The Amethyst Road by Louise Spiegler
- Siberia by Ann Halam
- Stormwitch by Susan Vaught
- Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie by Holly Black
Awards will be announced at the Nebula Awards Banquet in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, May 6 2006.
Tagged with: Nebula Awards
I’m finally (don’t get me started) getting around to reading the February 2006 “Year in Review” issue of Locus Magazine. The many perspectives of the Recommended Reading sections are fun because they point out all the cool science fiction published last year. It’s nice to see books I’ve read. It’s not so nice to see all the books I want to read but don’t have time for.
The 2005 Books Summary article is, as usual, comprehensive, interesting and full of fun figures, like the Total Books Published by SF Imprint in 2005. (The “by SF Imprint” table is more telling about SF than the “by Publisher” table since it focuses on the SF.) Here are the Top 10 with their respective book count totals.
Top 10 Total Books Published by SF Imprint in 2005
- Tor (218)
- Science Fiction Book Club (202)
- Ace (102)
- Del Rey (85)
- Black Library US (73)
- Baen (72)
- Wizards of the Coast (65)
- Daw (61)
- Eos (55)
- Roc (51)
These numbers include both new books and reprints in all formats (hardcover, trade paperback and and mass-market paperback)
To add data to last year’s post which asked if too many books were being published, in 2005 there were 2,516 genre books published. In 2004, there 2550 – that’s the first decline in 4 years.
Australian magazine Cosmos is making its science fiction stories available online. Titles up so far:
[via Emerald City]
While I still like the new Battlestar Galactica, I must admit that some of the more recent episodes have, well, kind of sucked. As a public service to BG fans, I’d like to offer my suggestions to Ronald D. Moore on the:
Top 10 Things I’d Like to See on Battlestar Galactica
- Guest appearance by Dirk Benedict as Kara Thrace’s long-lost father, who gets into a heated argument with Tom Zarek that ends with both of them being sucked out of the nearest airlock.
- The creation of a new Viper model nicknamed Galactica 1980 that, by the grace of God (Cylon or otherwise), never sees the light of day.
- A crossover episode where the crew from Firefly appears amidst the Colonial Fleet and River gets to kick some toaster a@@.
- My face carved into a moon.
- The all-Boomer episode. (Oh, I’m sorry. I thought this was “The One and Only Thing Tim Would Like to See on Battlestar Galactica” list.)
- Baltar doing the Riverdance. With Richard Simmons.
- The creation of a new Military Morale team whose job it is to visit random crew members and delight them with show tunes.
- A “very special” episode in which, much to joy of the relieved crew, Colonel Tigh realizes the true meaning of leadership and responsibility. Then he coughs up blood and dies.
- Number 6 meets up with 68 other versions of herself, if you know what I mean. (If the CGI for that one too costly, I’ll settle for Number 6 meets Number 9.)
- Undead time-traveling Nazi Cylons.
Does anyone else have their own suggestions?