Tube Bits For 09/03/07

  • Hell In A Handbasket continues their look at the guns of Battlestar Galactica. This time covering the long guns.
  • The fallout between NBC and iTunes continues. Apple has now announced that iTunes will no longer sell new episodes of NBC shows. Even though the contract ends in December, Apple has decided to take this step, most likely in an effort to get NBC talking again. Too bad for you, the consumer, who likes to watch NBC shows from iTunes.
  • SyFy Portal will be producing video logs (vlogs) for the upcoming American season of the BBC’s Torchwood. Each vlog will appear the Monday after each episode airs, will run about 15 minutes, and will be hosted on the AfterElton web site. I’ll leave it to you to discover the link between AfterElton and Torchwood.
  • The Anime News Network’s The Click column looks at this weeks lineup of anime on TV.

Filed under: AnimeBattlestar GalacticaTube BitsTV

POLL RESULTS: Rendezvous With Rama Heads to Film

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
The film adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama…Good idea or bad idea?

RESULTS

(94 total votes)

Comments this week:

“As for “Didn’t we already see the space cylinder thing in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home?”, Yes, but they never went inside the thing.” = hugh57

“The book is interesting, but hugely anti-climactic, and, as I recall, lacks compelling characters. The visuals would be interesting to convey, but not the story.” – Bill Preston

“Rama’d be better as a tv show where it could expand out and really say something. Much like Cherryh’s Foreigner books, Rama is not much of a slam bam space opera, but the attention to characterization and interaction is perfectly suited to an hour-long tv drama.” – platyjoe

“If there’s any truth to the rumor that David Fincher is directing it, that significantly increases its chances of not sucking.” – Gabriel Mckee

“‘Here’s what we’ll do! It’ll be that thingie, that Arthur C. Clarke book, Rama 1/2 or whatever, with the cigar in space….buuuut, we’re gonna throw KEANU REAVES at it, with BRUCE WILLIS as a bad guy in a CAPE…and we’re going to have MICHAEL BAY direct! It’ll be gold! The kids love this kind of crap! Let’s make it!’ — Hollywood.” – Pete Tz.

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll on which novel should have won the Hugo!

Filed under: Polls

TOC: Eclipse

Jonathan Strahan shows off the cover of his upcoming original fiction anthology, Eclipse.

And check out the lineup:

  1. “The Last and Only, or Mr Moscowitz Becomes French” by Peter S. Beagle
  2. “The Transformation of Targ” by Jack Dann & Paul Brandon
  3. “Toother” by Terry Dowling
  4. “Unique Chicken Goes in Reverse” by Andy Duncan
  5. “The Drowned Life” by Jeffrey Ford
  6. “Electric Rains” by Kathleen Ann Goonan
  7. “Up the Fire Road” by Eileen Gunn
  8. “In The Forest Of The Queen” by Gwyneth Jones
  9. “Mrs Zeno’s Paradox” by Ellen Klages
  10. “She-Creatures” by Margo Lanagan
  11. “The Lost Boy: A Reporter At Large” by Maureen F. McHugh
  12. “Bad Luck, Trouble, Death and Vampire Sex” by Garth Nix
  13. “Larissa Miusov” by Lucius Shepard
  14. “The Lustration” by Bruce Sterling
  15. “Quartermaster Returns” by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Filed under: Books

Indexing Dozois

SF Site has been busy indexing Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction anthology series, now in its 24th edition. All the stories are listed and sortable by volume, author, and title.

This is cool. But it could have been cooler. It would have been nice if they allowed users to see some stats like author with the most stories, stories that won awards, etc. It also would have been nice to list what universe, if any, to which the story belongs. Mike Resnick, for example, has more than one Kirinyaga story listed.

[via Big Dumb Object]

Filed under: Books

WINNERS: 2007 Hugo Award

The winners of the 2007 Hugo Award….

NOVEL: Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge [see SF Signal review]

NOVELLA: “A Billion Eves” by Robert Reed [see SF Signal review]

NOVELETTE: “The Djinn’s Wife” by Ian McDonald [see SF Signal review]

SHORT STORY: “Impossible Dreams” by Tim Pratt [see SF Signal review]

RELATED BOOK: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice Sheldon by Julie Phillips [see SF Signal review]

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM: Pan’s Labyrinth – Guillermo del Toro

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM: Doctor Who, “Girl in the Fireplace”

EDITOR, SHORT FORM: Gordon Van Gelder

EDITOR, LONG FORM: Patrick Nielsen Hayden

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST: Donato Giancola

SEMIPROZINE: Locus

FANZINE: Science-Fiction Five-Yearly

FAN WRITER: Dave Langford

FAN ARTIST: Frank Wu

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (not a Hugo): Naomi Novik

Congratulations to all the winners!

See also: Past Winners.

[via SF Awards Watch who also offers this analysis]

Filed under: Awards

SF Tidbits for 9/1/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 09/01/07

  • Accordian Guy points us to Shaenon Garrity’s interpretation of “The Trouble With Tribbles”, done in the style of illustrator Edward Gorey.
  • It seems that the love affair between Heroes and Nissan will continue in season 2. Nissan will again be the sole automotive advertiser as they try to hawk their new mini-SUV, the Rogue.
  • From a survey, 55% of America’s South Asian population prefers to get their entertainment online than from anywhere else. This is a trend that I see continuing and spreading to include everyone. Sadly, the media companies today are not ready for this.
  • A new online broadcast channel launched yesterday, and will focus on science fiction and fantasy films. You can find them at Sci-Fi-London. You will need the Adobe Flash player installed to watch the films. Their awesome exclusive for this month? Done The Impossible, the documentary about Firefly fans. Sweet!
  • Speaking of Firefly, you can find a gallery of super cutie Jewel Staite here. Almost certainly SFW.

Filed under: FireflyHeroesLOSTStar TrekTube BitsTV

The internet is aflame with the news that NBC won’t be renewing its iTunes contract with Apple. As NBC accounts for 40% of the videos downloaded from iTunes, this seems like a bad development for Apple. However, Silicon Alley Insider does some quick calculating and discovers that the amount of money invovled really isn’t that much, considering. So what’s this all about?

It’a about control. NBC isn’t happy with the piracy controls on iTunes, and NBC wants to be able to set the price of its videos. With the news that NBC will be jointly launching the YouTube like Hulu, is it hard to imagine NBC using that service to sell its own video dowloads? The prevailing theory is that Apple needs NBC more than the reverse. I’m not sure that is case.

iTunes is the 800 lb. gorilla of media downloading. It accounts for the lion’s share of music downloads, and it sells a lot of video dowloads as well. For NBC to just up and leave that means they are leaving millions of downloads, and dollars, on the table. They don’t have any service they can turn to that has anywhere near the amount of credibility or mindshare as iTunes. In other words, where ever they decide to sell their videos, many people won’t know about it. That’s lost eyeballs and revenue. It will cost NBC a fortune to promote any new venture in an attempt to gain consumers, costing them even more money.

Even Hulu has its own war to wage against YouTube. Ask anyone who isn’t a tech geek if they’ve even heard of Hulu. I bet the answer will be ‘no’. Hulu may be a great service, but NBC and News Corp. have an uphill battle for recognition, which will cost them viewers in the short run, and potentially in the long run. If Hulu is a YouTube clone, then it won’t really be a good place to purchase video downloads anyway. Which leaves NBC with nothing that even comes close to iTunes’ reach.

But let’s say NBC is able to get a download service up and running. If they think they will be able to charge more per episode while saddling each episode with more DRM, causing more of a headache for the viewers, they are in for a rude awakening. iTunes, as the market leader, has set the cost of a download at $2/episode. While I’m not happy that you are purchasing DRM-riddled video, I do know that for most people, that isn’t an issue as they can watch it with no problems. This ease of use will make it difficult for NBC to convince iTunes users to switch to their service to get NBC programs, especially if they charge more per show. Heck, even if they charge the same, people aren’t going to switch because I can guarantee NBC’s offering will be harder to use than iTunes, and people hate to switch from what they know.

This whole thing smacks of the ‘old’ media not ‘getting’ the new media, or its consumers. I don’t see this move as being a smart one on NBC’s part, and I’m thinking that Steve Jobs has similar thoughts.This move will do nothing other than annoy many NBC/iTunes customers when the December deadline passes.

Maybe NBC will surprise us. Maybe they will actually take a risk and attempt to reach as many people as possible for their videos. They could follow the lead of several of the music companies and offer DRM free videos, this ensuring their videos will play on almost any device, be it PCs, iPods, PSPs or any other video device. Make the downloading of shows simple and reasonably priced and they would have a winner. And, they would have the tech community firmly on their side, acting as free evangelists. But that would require some flexible thinking on their part. Something I don’t see happening. I think the big winners with this move will be the torrent sites. Ironic. As NBC tries to gain more control over their videos, they will actually lose it. This is a battle they, or any media comany, simply can’t win.

What does this have to do with science fiction you may ask? Well, NBC provides video downloads for a little show called Heroes, as well as for Galactica. There’s no telling how much iTunes sales impact the popularity of these shows, but I have seen people on the ‘net refer to downloading the shows and then writing about them. That will stop after December. And with new shows like Chuck and Bionic Woman, it seems like NBC is cutting its nose to spite its face.

[Update 1 (09/01/07)]: It gets better! Apparently, NBC wanted Apple to charge $5 per episode for NBC content. And here I was, thinking NBC understood the net better than the other broadcast networks, then they pull this stunt. Good luck charging $5 a pop, $110 for a 22 episode season. I don’t need to shell out $5 for low res versions of your episode through iTunes. I’m guessing many people will now discover they can find episodes for a lot less then $5 elsewhere, commercial free and in HD no less. Nice job NBC.

Filed under: TV

Because nobody should start an extended weekend with silly news, here’s a parody by animator Rich Cando of the Simpson’s opening done up like Star Wars

[via SciFi Scanner and Viral Video Chart]

Filed under: Star Wars

SFWA Misuses DMCA?

At Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow notes that the Science fiction Writers of America, whose leaders have long taken an anti-piracy stance on behalf of its members, is misusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to have content removed from Scribd (the text version of Flickr). The list of “offending” works appears to have resulted from a blanket search of “Asimov” and “Silverberg”.

Sez Doctorow:

This implies that Robert Silverberg and the Asimov estate have asked SFWA to police their copyrights for them, but it’s important to note that many of the other authors whose work was listed in the August 17 email did not nominate SFWA to represent them. Indeed, I have told Vice President Burt on multiple occasions that he may not represent me as a rightsholder in negotiations with Amazon, and other electronic publishing venues.

More importantly, many of the works that were listed in the takedown were written by the people who’d posted them to Scribd — these people have been maligned and harmed by SFWA, who have accused them of being copyright violators and have caused their material to be taken offline. These people made the mistake of talking about and promoting science fiction — by compiling a bibliography of good works to turn kids onto science fiction, by writing critical or personal essays that quoted science fiction novels, or by discussing science fiction. SFWA — whose business is to promote science fiction reading — has turned readers into collateral damage in a campaign to make Scribd change its upload procedures.

Doctorow continues…

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Books

Friday YouTube: The Last Unicorn

From Robot Chicken

[via Milk and Cookies]

Filed under: Humor

Ward at Mod-Blog takes a thoughtful look at Moral Complexity in Sci-Fi:

It’s always struck me that considering that science fiction is supposed to be morally complex and supposed to point us to our own humanity, it is often times terribly shallow. And no where does this show up more frequently than in the ‘bad guys’ in science fiction. Having a cardboard cutout baddie might be sufficient for a summer action flick. But when it comes to science fiction, it always struck me that the evil characters should really drive a lot of the moral issues. But this hasn’t been the case, by and large. Instead, they are often times virtually just parodies. They are mostly corporate leaders of some massive conglomerate of the future, or alien invaders simply bent on taking over earth, or some other cheap and easy story.

He then goes on to show how the sci-fi has taken a turn for the better and cites villains from Farscape, BSG, Heroes and Flash Gordon. (Ah-Aaaaah!)

Filed under: TV

Tube Bits For 08/31/07

  • In advance of the premier of Chuck, NBC has created the Chuck’s Secret web site. There you can learn a bit more about the secrets that are accidentally downloaded into Chuck’s brain. I’m looking forward to this one. [via TV Squad]
  • NBC is continuing their use of the web to reach fans. This time they are parterning with News Corp. to create the YouTube rival, Hulu. Can it beat or even rival YouTube? Probably not.
  • Masi Oka recognizes that bittorrenting can be a good thing. I’m not surprised. He is a tech geek after all.
  • Mark Wilson at About.com wonders whether to root for Flash Gordon or delight in its failure. I’d like for it to get better, but I don’t take any pleasure in how bad it is. It’s just seems to be par for the Sci Fi Channel course.
  • More YouTube goodness. This time, feast your eyes upon this trailer for a never produced 1999 show, Daena 1. It appears to be French and, once you get past the horrible acting, the actual setup sounds interesting. At least it has ships, in space, shooting at each other. We need more of that.

Filed under: Tube BitsTV

SF Tidbits for 8/31/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Tor Podcasts

As mentioned last week, science fiction publisher Tor is launching a new podcasting program. The program kicks off today with daily coverage of Worldcon.

From today’s Tor newsletter:

Marking the first time that Worldcon has ever taken place in Japan, Tor publisher Tom Doherty and senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden will podcast directly from the convention. This international podcasting event will kick off Tor’s new podcasting program, which will continue with regularly scheduled podcasts beginning September 12th.

The daily podcasts from the convention will cover the events there, as well as interviews with notable authors and editors and perhaps a few surprise guests. One exciting podcast episode will feature an interview with Star Trek and Heroes star George Takei, speaking on his life and career. Another podcast will join Tor publisher Tom Doherty and renowned author Larry Niven while they discuss a variety of topics over lunch in Tokyo. These podcasts will be available for download from iTunes, Yahoo, and Google and through RSS–and individuals can also tune in to them directly from the Tor website at www.tor-forge.com/podcasts.

Filed under: Books

The Current State Of Science Fiction On Tv

Well, it certainly looks like the doom and gloom brigade is out in full force this week. First, Ridley Scott dumps all over SF films, then Michael Cassut sees a poor SF TV landscape in his “The Spirit of the Times” article for SciFi Weekly. Basically. Cassutt uses Jane Espenson’s article for The New Republic as jumping off point to show that SF, as most SF fans know it, is dead on TV, replaced with the whole ‘Chosen One’ angle to storytelling.

In an effort to see if Cassutt has a point, and I think he does, SciFi Fodder reviews the current state of SF on TV, and looks at the new SF-ish shows. And what do you know? They all are a form of Espenson’s thesis. But I think its actually worse than it appears. Out of all the new shows, the only ones that are really SF are: Bionic Woman, Chuck (light), and The Sarah Conner Chronicles. Journeyman is probationary as we don’t know the ‘how’ of his time travel. So, that’s 3 of 28 new shows that I would consider to be SF. Not good. And they all are a variation of the Chosen one theme.

Looking at returning shows, I count 5 shows that are SF: Galactica, Eureka, LOST, Heroes and Jericho. You could argue that Eureka follows Espenson’s idea, but the others clearly don’t. The thing I notice right away is that the overtly SF shows, Galactica and Eureka are on SciFi, not broadcast TV. And the other three are ensemble shows that have SF elements to their stories. Two are big hits, while the other is on life support for 7 episodes.

Looking at the recent past, we see that Invasion, Threshold and Surface never made it past a first season. All were ensembles, and all were present day alien invasion stories. You could argue that with three similarly themed shows, they were doomed to failure. I’m not sure American audiences are ready for a real SF alien invasion story. Clearly they aren’t ready for the watered down ones they got.

I think that SF on TV isn’t in as a bad a shape as Cassutt thinks, especially considering LOST and Heroes. But going forward, it looks like the prevailing feeling in TV land is Espenson’s idea. Will there ever be another overtly SF hit show like Star Trek on mainstream TV? I don’t know, but my guess would be no. The place you’ll find it will possibly on cable, but more likely on the Internet. But until then, I’ll keep recording and watching the SF shows I like, hoping to see more SF.

Filed under: TV

Are Sci-Fi Films are as Dead as Westerns?

Ridley Scott, famed director of not one, but two certifiable sci-fi hits (Alien and Blade Runner) said at the Venice Film Festival that science fiction films are riding off into the sunset:

“There’s nothing original. We’ve seen it all before. Been there. Done it,” he said. Asked to pick out examples, he said: “All of them. Yes, all of them.”

Strong words coming from the man who directed the most popular sci-fi film of all time. (Sigh.) He also says that no film can surpass Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Talking about Blade Runner, which sees life again on DVD as a “Final Cut” 25 years after its original release, Scott says there were “too many cooks in the kitchen.”

I put the question to our readers: Are sci-fi films dead?

Filed under: Movies

Thursday YouTube: Star Wars Theme – The BagPipes Version

Love the mask. As if the bagpipes weren’t enough…

[via Cynical-C]

Filed under: Star Wars

Tube Bits For 08/30/07

  • From AfterElton.com [via SyFy Portal], we get some serious Torchwood spoilage. Remember that Torchwood starts on BBC America and INHD starting next month.
  • Squid News has list of reasons why Halo would make a great TV series (I know Tim is all over this). I think I have to agree here. Halo has a nice big space opera storyline that I’d love to see on the small screen. I like this idea. Especially if they do Red vs. Blue.
  • TV anthology series, like Masters Of Science Fiction, aren’t just for the US. Dark City is a Malaysian TV show that blends horror, fantasy and science fiction. Each 30 minute episode will end with a twist. Of course! [via Julia Ziegler]
  • Dan Iverson, IGN TV editor, apologizes for ignorantly dismissing Eureka without watching it first. He then reviews the Season 1 DVD set and gives it an 8/10. This set actually sounds rather good.
  • Masi Oka has been making the rounds in the Far East. First up, Masi says that LOST helped pave the way for Asian characters on American TV. And lastly, Masi appeared on a couple of Japanese shows to talk Heroes. Since your dying to see the video, you can see them below. Watch them with your Japanese speaking friend if you want to know what they are saying…

Filed under: HeroesTube BitsTV

SF Tidbits for 8/30/07

Filed under: Tidbits

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