As I was perusing my collection of science fiction books, I thumbed open a copy of Cordwainer Smith’s short story collection Space Lords. The beginning pages had this dedication.

DEDICATED

to the memory of

ELEANOR JACKSON of LOUISA, VIRGINIA

20 February 1919 to 30 November 1964

Dear Eleanor:

You came out to my house to tend me, Eleanor, while I was sick and trying to finish this book. You died in the little guest room next to my bedroom. You spent the night there because you wanted to get a special breakfast for me, Eleanor, since I was sick at home while my wife had to be taken to a hospital, too.

You died there in my house, Eleanor; you looked very sleepy when you were dead, like one of the little “colored” dolls that they have at the department stores in America.

You were a Negro, Eleanor, and I have been called white. For seventeen years you shared my home, cooking, cleaning, and tending my things in America. You were a woman and I am a man. In seventeen years, we were thousands of times just the two of us in the house, and there was never an indecent gesture or an unchaste word from one of us to the other. I was kind, generous, courteous, and thoughtful toward you, and you were kind, generous, courteous and thoughtful toward me.

Only when the blue-clad police carried your little body away did I finally say to the morgue station wagon those words which I never said to you in life, “I love you, Eleanor. Where are you going, my little brown girl?”

I know where you are, Eleanor. Your little body is in a box somewhere on the other side of the world, in Virginia. I am back here In Australia again. But I can tell you this, Eleanor. I honor and remember the seventeen years of your intelligence and kindness, while I was called master and you were called servant. I’ll see the real you again, Eleanor, in a friendly place in Which we both believe.

Cordwainer Smith

Cordwainer Smith died in 1966, a little more than 1 year after this dedication first appeared in print.

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SF Tidbits for 2/19/07

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POLL RESULTS: Mr. Smith Goes to Hollywood

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Wil Smith is currently filming I Am Legend. Which of these past Wil Smith sf movies is best?

RESULTS

(106 total votes)

A couple of comments this week:

“I went into I, Robot expecting nothing very much. Certainly not a faithful book adaptation. I came out delighted. I’ve always thought Will Smith had the capacity for solid and interesting acting. I, Robot was an example of why we need more sci-fi movies out of modern day Hollywood.” – Pete Tzinski

I-Robot shouldn’t even be in the running! That film is mostly effects. Asking to choose between Men in Black films is tough. The first is a great intro to the series but his performance in the second is just as funny because he gets to parody the MIB trope introduced in the first. Are you too scared to list Wild Wild West? Or are you suggesting that was a western?” – Richard

“Hey! John discovered comedy! Good job on the poll my friend!” – Trent

To respond:
Richard, it’s been a while since I saw Wild Wild West. Refresh my memory, does a giant, steam-powered spider make it sf? :)

Trent, does this increase my street cred?

Be sure to vote in this week’s poll on The Best Star Trek Movie!

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TOC: The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror #20

The contents of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror #20, edited by by Kelly Link, Gavin Grant and Ellen Datlow and due in August 2007, has been posted:

Horror Section

  1. “La Profonde” by Terry Dowling
  2. “Sob in the Silence” by Gene Wolfe
  3. “A Pig’s Whisper” by Margo Lanagan
  4. “Winkie” by Margo Lanagan
  5. “Journey into the Kingdom” by M. Rickert
  6. “Father Muerte and the Flesh” by Lee Battersby
  7. “The Muldoon” by Glen Hirshberg
  8. “Ballade” by William Hope Hodgson (poem)
  9. “My Babe, My Babe” by William Hope Hodgson (poem)
  10. “31/10″ by Stephen Volk
  11. “Messages” by Brett Alexander
  12. “Raphael Stephen” by Graham Jones
  13. “The Last to be Found” by Christopher Harman
  14. “The Box” by Stephen Gallagher
  15. “Landfill” by Joyce Carol Oates
  16. “The Churring” by Nicholas Royle
  17. “First Kisses From Beyond the Grave” by Nik Houser
  18. “The Extraordinary Limits of Darkness” by Simon Clark
  19. “Drowning Palmer” by Sarah Monette
  20. “Dead Sea Fruit” by Kaaron Warren
  21. “Dog Person” by Scott Nicholson

Fantasy Section

  1. “Tell” by Nathalie Anderson (poem)
  2. “Is Rain My Bearskin?” by Jeanne Marie Beaumont (poem)
  3. “Yep, I Said Camel” by Josh Bell (poem)
  4. “Femavillle 29″ by Paul Di Filippo
  5. “The Night Whiskey” by Jeffrey Ford
  6. “Persephone and the Prince Meet Over Drinks” by Jeannine Hall Gailey (Poem)
  7. “Becoming The Villainess” by Jeannine Hall Gailey (Poem)
  8. “A Fearful Symmetry” by Minsoo Kang
  9. “In the House of the Seven Librarians” by Ellen Klages
  10. “Cup and Table” by Tim Pratt
  11. “Journey into the Kingdom” by M. Rickert
  12. “A Siege of Cranes” by Benjamin Rosenbaum
  13. “Another Word for Map Is Faith” by Christopher Rowe
  14. “Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter” by Geoff Ryman
  15. “Lionflower Hedge” by Ira Sher
  16. “La Fee Verte” by Delia Sherman
  17. “The Lineaments of Gratified Desire” by Ysabeau S. Wilce
  18. “Directions” by Caleb Wilson

[via Richard Larson via Jeffrey Ford]

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1967 Wonder Woman TV Pilot

Pistol Wimp has unearthed a copy of the 5-minute 1967 test-pilot for a Wonder Woman series. It appears to as campy as the producers’ other creation, Batman. It stars Ellie Wood Walker as Diana Prince, Linda Harrison as Wonder Woman and Maudie Prickett as her mother.

Is it me, or is Wonder Woman admiring herself a little too much in the mirror. I mean, sure, it was risqué back then to wear star-pattern blue knickers out in the open…but methinks Wonder Woman is a bit too narcissistic to be an effective heroine. Now that I think about it, she’s acting like she’s on heroin. That’s the only explanation I have for her gravity-defying no-way-she’s-hooked-up-to-wires leap into the nighttime sky.

Thanks you, O wise gods of 1960′s television programming, for waiting until Lynda Carter.

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SF Tidbits for 2/17/07

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REVIEW: Larklight by Philip Reeve

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Art and Myrtle Mumby adventure throughout the solar system in search of the reasons behind a Sider attack on their home, Larklight.

PROS: Very cool setting, humor and wit abound, interesting characters, non-stop adventure!

CONS: Some violence and death.

BOTTOM LINE: Larklight is a fantastic novel for young and old readers alike. If you like anything Steampunk, you’ll love Larklight.

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This years 2006: A Year in Review issue of Locus magazine includes the always-interesting Book Summary filled with charts and figures. Since I did this last year, I thought I’d continue this year with:

Total Books Published by SF Imprint in 2006

  1. Tor (246)
  2. Science Fiction Book Club (216)
  3. Ace (103)
  4. Del Rey (67)
  5. Eos (64)
  6. Wizards of the Coast (61)
  7. Baen (56)
  8. (Tie) Daw (55)
  9. (Tie) Roc (55)
  10. Black Library US (41)
  11. Bantam Spectra (36)
  12. Night Shade (26)
  13. Luna (24)
  14. Subterranean (19)
  15. Pyr (16)

These numbers include both new books and reprints in all formats (hardcover, trade paperback and mass-market paperback).

For fun, here are the total number of genre books published per year, for the last 11 years. For each year, I list the total number published (new and reprint) with the percentage of new books in parentheses.

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Back when I talked about How Innovative Authors are using the Internet to Increase Their Profiles, I made note of a missed opportunity by publisher Tor to fully utilize the Internet; the site was woefully out of date and was screaming for a new design.

Looks like the website got the update it deserved. Check out Tor’s new website.

[via Tobias Buckell]

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SF Site’s Best SF and Fantasy Books of 2006 (Editors’ Choice)

SF Site has posted annual editors’ picks for best sf/f books.

SF Site’s Best SF and Fantasy Books of 2006 (Editors’ Choice)

  1. James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips [see SF Signal review]
  2. Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer
  3. Three Days to Never by Tim Powers [see SF Signal review]
  4. Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke
  5. End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
  6. The Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford
  7. Farthing by Jo Walton
  8. The Last Witchfinder by James Morrow
  9. Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio
  10. (Tie) Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge [see SF Signal review]
  11. (Tie) The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  12. (Tie) Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel

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Top 12 Movies That Were Ahead of Their Time

Sorry fanboys, no Blade Runner. Based on technical and visual effects achievements, FirstShowing offers up the list:

Top 12 Movies That Were Ahead of Their Time

  • Psycho (1960)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  • Jaws (1975)
  • Star Wars (1977)
  • Tron (1982)
  • WarGames (1983)
  • Terminator 2 (1991)
  • Jurassic Park (1993)
  • The Fifth Element (1997)
  • Starship Troopers (1997)
  • Office Space (1999)
  • The Matrix (1999)
  • Metropolis (1927)

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The Gremlins by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl’s very first book for children, The Gremlins, was originally intended for production as an animated film by Walt Disney, but the film was dropped before it was completed. Disney did, however, still publish the book (fewer than 5,000 copies) that had been created as a tie-in with the movie’s release. Last September, Dark Horse published a reprint of the story with a forward by Leonard Maltin.

In the meantime, the original text and illustrations can be found online.

[via the February 2007 issue of Locus magazine]

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SF Tidbits for 2/15/07

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Today, Lucas Arts launched the official website for their upcoming game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. In TFL, you play Darth Vader’s secret apprentice as you try to hunt down and kill Jedi, like the cockroaches they are. That’s right, TFL takes place between Episode III and Star Wars and actually wants you to whack those goody goody Jedi.

I can’t wait.

But! It gets even better. Take a gander at this:

Decisions made by players throughout the game will determine the path of the story, including multiple endings that will rock Star Wars continuity as they know it.

That sound you hear is the sound of multiple SW fanboy’s heads exploding. Apparently, there are several message boards where SW ‘fans’ are hopping mad about the story line of the game. I believe Captain Kirk said it best when he said: “Get a life!”. (Yes, yes, I know it was Shatner on SNL. Work with me. Send all nasty emails to John.)

Still, check out the images. Awesome. And if you’ve seen the tech demo, then you know what kind of juicy Force powers await you. All in all, this one looks great. We’ll see how it actually turns out.

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TOC: Year’s Best SF 12

Kathryn Cramer has posted the table of contents for the upcoming Year’s Best SF 12 anthology, due out in June 2007, which she co-edited with David Hartwell:

  1. “The Lowland Expedition” by Stephen Baxter
  2. “Applied Mathematical Theology” by Gregory Benford
  3. “Brother, Can you Spare a Dime” by Terry Bisson
  4. “Silence in Florence” by Ian Creasey
  5. “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth” by Cory Doctorow
  6. “Counterfactual” by Gardner R. Dozois
  7. “Quill” by Carol Emshwiller
  8. “Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth” by Michael Flynn
  9. “Damascus” by Darryl Gregory
  10. “Speak, Geek” by Eileen Gunn
  11. “Expedition, With Recipes” by Joe Haldeman.
  12. “The Women of Our Occupation” by Kameron Hurley
  13. “Nano Comes to Clifford Falls” by Nancy Kress
  14. “This Is the Ice Age” by Claude Lalumière
  15. “Just Do It!” by Heather Lindsley
  16. “Taking Good Care of Myself” by Ian R. MacLeod
  17. “Dead Men Walking” by Paul J. McAuley
  18. “Heisenberg Elementary” by Wil McCarthy
  19. “Rwanda” by Robert Reed
  20. “Tiger Burning” by Alastair Reynolds
  21. “Home Movies” by Mary Rosenblum
  22. “Preemption” by Charlie Rosenkrantz
  23. “Chu and the Nants” by Rudy Rucker
  24. “Tin Marsh” by Michael Swanwick
  25. “Moon Does Run” by Edd Vick
  26. “The Age of Ice” by Liz Williams

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The SF Book Meme: She’s Not Dead Yet, Jim!

Way back when, at the height of the meme post phenomenon, I created a science fiction book meme. This meme had the dubious distinction of possibly being the only meme in the history of all memes to go just about nowhere. I mean, just look at how many months the Science Fiction Book Club meme (based on their list of The top 50 most significant sf/f books) has been floating around, and that was based on a list created back in the pre-meme year of 2002! Beaten, I retreated to a corner, huddled into a ball, sucking my thumb and shivering a little, waiting for the cold, reassuring hand of death to stake its claim.

Or maybe not! There seems to be somewhat of a resurgence of my sf book meme.

Sweet! My head is tingling with a euphoria that only an overinflated ego can provide. Now I can walk proudly and hold my head up high. Or at least as much as my poor posture will allow. Thank you, Blogosphere!

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SF Tidbits for 2/14/07

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Déjà Vu author Ian Hocking talks about the science in science fiction and why he prioritizes “meaning” over “factual accuracy”:

I guess I’ve come to this conclusion through the editing process. I’ve learned that what makes a scene good isn’t the tech; it’s the meaning conjured by the characters, their struggles, the conflict, and the wider narrative. When working to improve a work of fiction, you can fiddle with the meaning (I’m using this word in a broad sense that encompasses ‘emotion’, ‘affect’, ‘interest’ and so on) or the technical stuff. At the end of the day, it’s the sharpening of meaning that improves the work by any real margin.

I tend to agree that scientific accuracy is not foremeost. This is why I find classic science fiction to be charming, despite the scientific flaws that time has exposed. I love sense of wonder, but not at the expense of the story.

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BSG Backlash?

Not too long ago, Battlestar Galactica was everybody’s darling. But then ratings slipped until, last month, the show was moved to Sunday nights to attract viewers. Although the show has been picked up for another season, it’s a partial commitment for 13 episodes.

The show started going downhill for me last season and I’ve only been watching sporadically since then even though others still seemed to enjoy it. But I’ve been noticing that posts have been appearing in the blogosphere recently opining the suckiness of the show.

Maybe it’s time to have another Has BSG Jumped the Shark poll?

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SF Tidbits for 2/13/07

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