SF Tidbits for 10/7/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Brian Aldiss on the Prophecies of Science Fiction

Over at Times Online, Brian Aldiss examines the prophecies of science fiction, particularly in the area of space travel.

In July 1969, Nasa’s Apollo 11 achieved the first landing on the moon. What excitement! Like millions of others, the Aldiss family watched the event on television. Meanwhile, through our living-room windows, we could see the moon itself. A strange double vision. Prayers may indeed have been said, but it was science that got us there.

While I had always been an ardent believer in space travel, my hope was less for conquest than for the chance to understand ourselves better.

I do believe there is confusion everywhere on Earth – confusion probably caused by deficiencies in the human brain. Supposing we encountered a species of unruffled benevolence, it might act as our tutor – or possibly our psychoanalyst. It’s only natural for us to dream of other kinds of lives, better lives. A disturbing question (not discussed among our leaders) haunts us: the doubt that human consciousness is fit for purpose.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 10/6/07

Filed under: Tidbits

LOST Leaks And Other Bits

I’ve been collecting a few links of interest for LOST fans, like me, and I thought I’d share them with you. Note that there may be potential spoilers here so read at your own risk.

First up, Buddy TV, via Sci Fi Wire, has Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindeloff dropping some information on season 4. Things that are already well guessed at, if not know: flash backs and flash forwards will be mixed throughout the episodes, Michael is back, and we’ll get to ‘see’ Jacob in some form of fashion. I’m intrigued to see how the flash backs/forwards will work and how they’ll add to the show’s story. Reading the actual story at Sci Fi Wire, we learn that Walt will make an appearance during the show, and that Lindelof and Cuse had already planned for Malcom David Kelley’s inevitable aging during filming. In other words, Walt will look older and the producers have already taken that into account for the story. This leads some credence to my theory that the island is behind some sort of event horizon, and time runs slower for those on the island.

While pimping the Season 3 DVD set of LOST, L&C let it be known that, yes, they do listen to the fans and they do make changes to the show based on that feedback. As evidence, they point out the expanded role of Niki and Paolo last season, and their untimely burial, all as a result of fans reactions (read: whining). As for this season, Cuse played the smart @$$ card: “Yes, got any?”

And finally, Lindelof says he’s always known how LOST will end, and even has the final shot in mind, and no, it’s not a black screen. Thank goodness. Cuse also stated, “it would be wrong to think that the flash-forward you saw is the end of the series.” My take: the future can be changed, the flash forwards are possible outcomes given the current island situation. Mark your calendars for Feb. 6th for LOST‘s return.

After the strong finish to last season, I can’t wait for this season!

Filed under: LOSTTV

Filed under: Firefly

SF Tidbits for 10/5/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Two Book-Related Websites

Two book-related websites crossed my path today…

First up is BookJetty, a “user-friendly book cataloging system, where you can catalog, tag, rate and review your books, and check your books availability seamlessly from 300 libraries worldwide.”

Second is WorldCat, “a publicly accessible online interface to the holdings of all types of libraries throughout the world: currently 57,000 libraries in 112 countries. Tell it what book you’re looking for and your zip code or city, and it will pinpoint the nearest library that has the book.”

This are neat ideas. I’m not sure I’ll personally use them (borrow from a library instead of own?!?!) but it’s nice to know that, not only is there an LP of Theodore Sturgeon reading his stories, but the nearest one to me is 1800 miles away. (For those too young to know what an LP is, it’s like a giant, black CD that scratches easily.)

[via MonkeyFilter and Consumerist]

Filed under: Web Sites

Tube Bits For 10/05/2007

  • Forbes takes a look at the ratings for the current fall TV season and says So Far, So OK. They go on to explain that the reason the networks may be reluctant to yank a show quickly this season is that Nielsen will be adding DVR viewers into the ratings. The catch: these DVR’ed ratings won’t be available until mid-October.
  • Illusion On-Demand, the first VOD channel dedicated to SF and Fantasy, has officially launched in North America. Currently available, for free to digital subscribers, in only 20 states, head on over to their site to see if they are on your cable network, and to check out video previews of the shows they will have available. Sadly, Comcast isn’t one of them.
  • Cinema Blend, with the help of Alan Tudyk, is rumor mongering the possible go ahead for a Serenity 2, with all the cast returning. Tudyk says the current Serenity DVD is selling out, getting Universal’s attention. Didn’t we do that already to get the first movie made? My guess: Any new Serenity will be direct to DVD.
  • Ground Report has a bunch of SF anime reviews up. You might find one you like

Filed under: Tube Bits

Portraying Extrasolar Planets

Scientific American has a nice little article covering an area of astronomy you probably don’t think much about: When a new extrasolar planet is discovered, how do the artists illustrate a planet they’ve never seen?

Turns out, there’s a lot of science behind the illustrations, of course. Things like planetary size determine whether the planet is a gas giant or ball of rock. Composition can determine the colors of the atmosphere, and distance from the star can give dramatic artistic visualization to an illustration. It’s all covered.

As a bonus, the article also mentions Lynette Cook as one of the artists NASA contacts to create an illustration. Check out her website for some really nice pictures. Heck, go check out the Spitzer Space Telescope’s Artist’s Conception page for even more eye candy, many wallpaper worthy.

Filed under: SpaceWeb Sites

Westerfeld Extras & FanFic Contest

Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and FanLib, an online fan creativity hub, are having a fan fiction writing contest centered around Scott Westerfelds latest book in the Uglies series: Extras. The winning prize is a one-of-a-kind Playstation 3 reskinned with the cover artwork of the book.

The Uglies series has been described as “a dystopian futuristic series that is a mix of Logan’s Run and The Twilight Zone episode “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”, with teens required to get plastic surgery at the age of 16 to become physically perfect, and what happens when some teens resist the process. Dark science-fiction with razor-sharp social commentary.”

I met Westerfeld earlier this year at the local Teen Lit Fest 2007. (Can you say “creepy old guy hanging out at a high school event”?) He talked about Uglies and the ideas behind it and it does sound really cool, in a classic sf way. I loved Westerfeld’s Succession books, but his wild popularity with this series (and others) in the young adult market probably means he won’t be returning anytime soon.

Filed under: Books

The website for Honorverse: The Online Game has just launched.

The game is based on David Weber’s Honor Harrington series of books and allows players to design and build space stations and fleets of ships, implement battle tactics, optionally set economic policies, and more. You can even create your own flags, insignia and national anthem.

The game itself is not due until the Fall of 2008. For now, check out the game’s trailer.

[Yet-another-h/t to Fred K.]

Filed under: BooksGamesWeb Sites

SF Tidbits for 10/4/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Giant X-Wing Rocket Set To Launch

And you thought model rocketry consisted of those Estes kits you can buy in stores. Silly you. After seeing the above pic, don’t you wish you knew more about rocketry so you could build your own 21-ft. X-Wing Fighter and then launch it, powered by 4 M class solid rocket boosters. Those are pretty big, in case you were wondering. And that’s exactly what Polecat Aerospace has done. Fresh off building and launching a 1/16 scale model of the Soviet N1 rocket (analogous to the Saturn V), they turned their project eyes towards something much more fantastical: The X-Wing.

As if just building and launching an X-Wing isn’t cool enough, Polecat didn’t stop there. Oh no. These Star Wars fanatics went even farther. The wings actually split apart in flight, as seen in the movies, and they added an RC R2-D2, complete with sound. Awesome.

As for recovery, this sucker uses three remote deployed man-rated parachutes to waft gently to the ground. They hope. Keep your eyes open on October 6th, that’s the day scheduled for launch. Let’s hope all their hard work isn’t for naught.

[H/T to Kotaku for the link.]

Filed under: Star Wars

Eureka: Season 2 Impressions

I watched the Season 2 finale of Eureka. This is one of the shows I like enough to commit to watching every week. Similar to earlier in the season, here are my random thoughts on all of season 2.

**** (Spoiler Warning!)****

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 10/3/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Wednesday YouTube: Mars Is Amazing!

One enlightened, and funny, dad decided to show his daughter how not to do a report on Mars. The result is the video below. I bet you didn’t know half the stuff in there….

Filed under: HumorSpace

Tube Bits For 10/03/07

  • Heroes executive producer and director Greg Beeman has a behind the scenes look at Monday’s episode, ‘Lizards’. He does this for every episode and he has some good stuff there, including a look into the writing process. Check it out. Also, Forbidden Planet gives us the nice pic of Nichelle Nichols in her role of Nana Dawson.
  • Chris Arnold at the TCPalm.com has a mini-rant about the first two episodes of Heroes. I see some of the same problems John has ranted about. He should take this opportunity to give us his rant.
  • Contact Music (?!) has a look at the Monday ratings for all shows. Heroes did well in the 18-49 demographic, while Chuck lost 10% from last week. I’m willing to give Chuck some more time, but will the network?
  • For those of you who care, Seaquest DSV season 2 will be released on New Year’s Day. Yet another show I never got into.

Filed under: Tube Bits

Reading Tonight: “The Star-Pit” by Samuel R. Delany

For the uninitiated, like me, it’s nice to know that The New York Review of Science Fiction hosts regular readings at New York’s South Street Seaport Museum. Tonight, Samuel R. Delany kicks off the new season by commemorating the 40th anniversary of “The Star-Pit”, his Hugo-winning space opera turned radio broadcast about galaxy hoppers.

This sounds so cool. My rare visits to South Street in my youth were usually initiated by promises of large crowds and liquor At least I think so. Did I mention the liquor?

See also:

Notes on ‘The Star-Pit’ by Samuel R. Delany.

Upcoming New York Review of Science Fiction readings.

[via New York magazine]

Filed under: Events

Disney/Pixar’s Wall E

I’m probably the last person to realize that Disney/Pixar is working on a a new movie for next summer, called Wall E. Well, a new trailer has been released for your viewing pleasure. Take a look.

Even though Wall E himself looks like a cross between E.T. and Johnny 5, he is far cuter and more expressive in 60+ seconds than either of them. As a bonus, the plot is very SF oriented, concerning humanity leaving Earth and failing to return. It’s up to Wall E to help bring humanity back.

It looks like Pixar may be back on the ‘hit’ train, which seems to have left the station after The Incredibles. I’m now officially stoked to see this movie next June.

Filed under: Movies

Top 10 SF Signal Posts for September 2007

As per Google Analytics, here are The Top 10 SF Signal Posts for September 2007:

  1. RIP: James Oliver Rigney, Jr. (Robert Jordan)
  2. New Hard Sci Fi?
  3. Can The Sci Fi Channel Be Saved?
  4. About Last Night: Heroes Season Premier
  5. What 5 Sci-Fi Movies Do You Watch Over and Over?
  6. Bionic Woman Pilot Delivers
  7. SF Signal: What works for you?
  8. SF Tidbits for 9/8/07
  9. A Kick-Ass “Rendezvous with Rama” Student Film
  10. Weekend Doctor Who Projects

Looking at the top overall hits, while ignoring those listed above, we get these stats for older posts that were popular in September…

  1. SF/F Writers Who Blog
  2. Solve Rubik’s Cube
  3. REVIEW: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  4. Oh Wolverine, Why Can’t You Be True?
  5. The Simpsons Premiere
  6. POLL: Hottest SciFi/Fantasy Babe NOT of Yesteryear
  7. New Highlander Movie
  8. Friday YouTube Bonus! The Simpson’s Do Star Wars
  9. Free SciFi Movies
  10. Top 10 Star Wars Spoofs

Filed under: Meta

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