Stories From the Golden Age by L. Ron Hubbard

Galaxy Press is embarking on an ambitious publishing project called Stories From the Golden Age, a project that will reprint 80 cross-genre Pulp titles written by L. Ron Hubbard. The project will span six years, with the publication of about one book per month.

From the Press Release:

..the Golden Age is again being celebrated, enabling readers to explore the largest series of multiple-genre, pulp fiction novels ever written by a single author — Stories from the Golden Age published by Los Angeles-based Galaxy Press. The series will include eighty titles with their original artwork to be released over as many months and will showcase some of the era’s most evocative and far ranging literary genres penned by explorer, master storyteller and multiple New York Times’ best-selling author L. Ron Hubbard.

It was 1938 when the top brass of the New York publishing company Street & Smith asked two of the most established top-line adventure writers of the day, Arthur J. Burkes and L. Ron Hubbard, to begin writing a new kind of science fiction story where people, not machines or gadgets were central to the story. They were introduced to now-legendary editor John W. Campbell, Jr., publisher of Astounding Science Fiction. From that moment on, the Golden Age was in full swing.

The series looks like it will be supported with podcasts, and downloadable extras, and the site makes mention of a “book & audio” club. Genres listed at the website include science fiction, fantasy, mystery, western, far-flung adventure, tales from the Orient, sea adventure, and air adventure.

REVIEW: Starcross by Philip Reeve

MY RATING:

Starcross is Philip Reeve’s sequel to his awesome Larklight (SF Signal review) novel for young readers. This time, Art Mumby, his sister Myrtle and their mother travel to the finest sea-bathing resort in the asteroid belt, Starcross. While there, they encounter all manner of strange and interesting things, the least of which is menacing mechanical Punch and Judy machines. The mystery they uncover could spell doom for the British Empire!

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SF Tidbits for 4/17/08

Tube Bits for 04/17/2008

  • Ah yes, LOST, everyone’s favorite convoluted SF TV show. Do you think you know what’s going on? Then prove it. USA Today is running a contest for LOST fans whereby you can send in your hypothesis (200 or words or less) for any, or all, of the island mysteries and win a chance to have your hypothesis ‘graded’ by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse who will tell you if you’re supposition is right, wrong, or terribly wrong. The best will be printed in the paper and online, while the best of the best will get the Darlton treatment. I don’t think it’s possible to sum up the overall mystery in 200 words…
  • Amazon’s Screening Room continues their celebrity blog postage, this time with an entry by Tim’s favorite Galactica character, Boomer. Sorry, I mean Grace Park. You can follow the link above to hear the complete audio interview with Grace. Something I’m sure Tim will do. Repeatedly.
  • This past April 2nd part of the creative team behind Eureka attended a chat session at Missouri State University (whether in person or online I can’t determine). They cover quite a bit of stuff and not all of it pertaining to Eureka.
  • Warbirds is another Sci Fi Original movie debuting this Saturday. This part of the description I like, “the film is set during World War II and blends action and SF”. But it quickly devolves into yet another monster movie (YAMM, mmm, yams), “an Air Force colonel being ferried on a secret mission across the Pacific when a pterdodactyl [sic] attack forces his bomber and its all-female crew to land on a remote island”. Sigh. So much could be done SF-wise with a WWII movie, and we get pterodactyls. Well, actually, we get ‘pterdodactyls’ which sound like a cross between dodos and pterodactyls. Not something that sounds menacing.
  • The Nickelodean anime show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, seems to be quite popular. So much so that M. Night Shyamalan(a-ding-dong) is adapting it into a live-action movie. Yet another animated show turned into a live-action movie. Supposedly, the TV show was heavily influenced by the creator’s love for Hayao Miyazaki. Of course, I don’t hold out hope that the movie adaption will be anywhere close to Miyazaki’s level.

Wednesday YouTube: The Andromeda Strain Trailer and Promo

I’m getting excited about the A&E adaptation of Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain. I loved the book and enjoyed the 1971 Robert Wise film, and this is looking pretty decent even though they changed some things (as they always do).

MIND MELD: Is the Short Fiction Market in Trouble?

One of the many perennial arguments in the science fiction blogosphere centers on the health of the short fiction market, so we turned the Mind Meld microphone to people in the field and asked them:

Q: Nobody questions the relevance of genre short fiction, but there is some debate about the health of the market itself. From your perspective, is the short fiction market in trouble? If not, why the debate? If so, what is the cause?
David Moles
David Moles was born on the anniversary of the R.101 disaster. He

has lived in six time zones on three continents, and hopes some day to collect the whole set. He was a finalist for the 2004 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer; his novelette, “Finisterra”, is a finalist for the 2008 Hugo Award. He currently lives in Switzerland.

The SF short fiction market is toast. And if you’ve ever stayed at a London bed and breakfast, you’ll know the sort of toast I mean: toast that’s been out of the toaster and cooling on a toast rack till the only reason you can spread butter on it is that it’s acquired the consistency and tensile strength of a silicone rubber trivet. If you want to know what short SF’s future looks like, look at poetry’s present. Then subtract all the teaching jobs and grant money.

The traditional SF magazines are in hospice care waiting to die, and there hasn’t been a successful attempt at starting a new print SF magazine in decades. The online markets are loss leaders or labors of love.

And even if they weren’t, even if there were actual commercial SF magazines with workable long-term business plans, from an author’s point of view the so-called “professional” rates — that only a handful of markets can afford to pay — are a joke everyone’s heard so often it’s not worth groaning at. The penny a word John W. Campbell paid his authors in 1937 would be worth nearly fifteen cents now — three times more than what most of the “pro” markets are paying. Even Hugo Gernsback’s 1926 quarter-cent — three cents a word in 2008 — would put him at the top of the semi-pro pack today.

At a nickel a word you could fill every slot in every pro market every month and still not make enough to make the median mortgage payment in Chicago or Baltimore. Nobody’s making a living off selling SF short fiction to traditional markets, except maybe Howard Waldrop. There just isn’t enough money in the SF short fiction business to pay writers a living wage; there hasn’t been since prime-time TV went color, and there never will be again.

Which is not to say the SF short story is dead. There are more places to read short stories, more places to get an SF short story published, than there have ever been. Do good work and you’ll get critical acclaim, the respect of your peers, and the right to munch cold cuts in the SFWA suite at Worldcon. You won’t make enough money to quit your day job, but then, SF novelists generally don’t make enough money to quit their day jobs these days, either.

Meanwhile, if you insist on wanting to know how to make money writing short fiction, talk to Nick Mamatas. But you won’t hear much about genre markets.

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SF Tidbits for 4/16/08

TOC: The Starry Rift

Editor Jonathan Strahan has a website for The Starry Rift: Tales of New Tomorrows, an original science fiction anthology aimed at young adults that is new this week.

Looking at the table of contents, Scott Westerfeld wins the prize for Best Short Story Title:

  1. “Repair Kit” by Stephen Baxter
  2. “Anda’s Game” by Cory Doctorow
  3. “Lost Continent” by Greg Egan
  4. “The Dismantled Invention of Fate” by Jeffrey Ford
  5. “Orange” by Neil Gaiman
  6. “Sundiver Day” by Kathleen Ann Goonan
  7. “Cheats” by Gwyneth Jones
  8. “An Honest Day’s Work” by Margo Lanagan
  9. “The Surfer” by Kelly Link
  10. “Incomers” by Paul McAuley
  11. “The Dust Assassin” by Ian McDonald
  12. “Infestation” by Garth Nix
  13. “The Star Surgeon’s Apprentice” by Alastair Reynolds.
  14. “Post-Ironic Stress Syndrome” by Tricia Sullivan
  15. “Ass-Hat Magic Spider” by Scott Westerfeld
  16. “Pinocchio” by Walter Jon Williams

Tube Bits for 04/16/2008

  • Ron Moore, of Galactica fame, gets his slot on the roulette wheel that is science fiction on Fox. He has been given the greenlight for a two-hour, back door pilot called Virtuality. The show “is set aboard the starship Phaeton on a 10-year journey to explore a distant solar system. To help the 12 crew members endure the long trip and keep their minds occupied, NASA has equipped the ship with advanced virtual-reality modules, allowing them to assume adventurous identities and go to any place they want. The plan works until a mysterious bug is found in the system”. Oh boy, just what we need, an entire series about the holodeck going haywire. Where’s Wesley when you need him?
  • Candleblog wonders what went wrong with Battlestar Galactica? I don’t know, I’m still watching. It’s still better than most dreck on TV.
  • The season three finale of Dr. Who is this Saturday on BBC America. In anticipation, BBC America is making audio commentary available for the finale featuring David Tennant. You can stream it live or download and listen to it when you watch the show. Cool.
  • Micheal L. Wentz loved The Sarah Jane Adventures. Then he goes all crazy and calls Russell T. Davies the Gene Roddenberry of our generation.
  • TVShowsOnDVD is reporting that season 2 of the remastered Star Trek series will be available on August 5th. Now that the format wars of the 00’s are over, you can expect to see a Blu-Ray version in the near future.
  • ABC is confirming that they have, indeed, ordered an additional hour of LOST to air this season. Awesome. Pre-empting LOST for that hack medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy? Lame.
  • For all you Stargate fans, next time you’re in Vegas, be on the lookout for the new Stargate themed slot machine! Seriously, if Sci Fi really wants to expand their brand, why not a science fiction themed casino? Mansquito could be the doorman. The possibilities are endless.
  • Two new Clone Wars novels, based on the upcoming animated show, will also be available in audiobook form.

Free Book: The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories by John Kessel

Small Beer Press has release John Kessel’s short story collection, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories, under a Creative Commons License.

From Small Beer Press:

Today, April 15, 2008, is tax day in the USA and we all need cheering up. We’re celebrating at Small Beer Press by publishing John Kessel’s first collection of short stories in ten years, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories, as well as releasing it as a free download in a number of completely open formats–with, of course, no Digital Rights Management (DRM).

The Baum Plan includes Kessel’s Tiptree Award winning “Stories for Men” (gender inequality meet Fight Club…on the moon), “Pride and Prometheus,” a mashup of Frankenstein and Jane Austen, and “Powerless,” an amazing mix of pulp fictions, paranoia, and academia.

The Baum Plan is licensed under a Creative Commons (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license allowing readers to share the stories with friends and generally have at them in any remixing/interpretation/Web 2.0 huddly-cuddly noncommercial manner. The collection is provided in these formats: low-res PDF, HTML, RTF, and text file. We encourage any and all conversions into other formats.

“Stories for Men” was all kinds of awesome, this is the perfect opportunity to check it out!

Live Action Ghost in the Shell Is A Go!

Anime, it’s not just for otaku anymore. Following on the news of a live-action version of Akira, the purported live-action remake of Neon Genesis Evangelion and of course the live-action remake of Speed Racer, Variety is reporting the Spielberg’s company, DreamWorks, has acquired the rights to remake Ghost in the Shell, in live-action 3D no less. Apparently Spielberg took a personal interest in the project as the movie is ‘one of my favorite stories’. I guess that’s what releasing Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence gets you.

Now I know there are cynics out there saying, “Wait a minuted, I’ve already seen this live-action film. It’s called The Matrix!” And, yes, The Matrix and Ghost in the Shell share quite a bit of visual and thematic elements. But, and maybe this is just me, after watching most of the spinoffs and such around both of these movies, I find Ghost in the Shell to be more interesting over all. In fact, the TV show based on the movie is one of my favorite SF anime shows ever. The Matrix fell quite a bit with the release of the follow on two movies. So, in a word, I’m quite excited by this news. 3D may be seen as being a over the top, but given some of the scenes in the original move, skydiving from a skyscraper comes to mind, 3D could kick some serious butt, if done well. I guess we’ll know how good 3d can be when James Cameron’s Avatar comes out.

I’ve said before that I think Ghost in the Shell is a great movie to adapt for American audiences. The success of The Matrix shows that a more ‘philosophical’ SF movie will be accepted, but it has to be done right. Hopefully the screenwriters won’t make a mess of it, like so many of the recent adaptations of Asian horror movies have turned out to be. I’ll be looking forward to this one. Maybe it’s time to go back and watch all the GitS stuff…

Final Hugo-Nominated Short Story Released into the Wild

The fifth and final Hugo-nominated short story, Stephen Baxter’s “Last Contact” has been posted at Solaris’ website. (Thanks, Mark @ Solaris!)

The list of Free Hugo-Nominated Short Fiction has been updated.

Only one story remains unavailable for free reading: the novelette “The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairytale of Economics” by Daniel Abraham, originally published by Bantam in Logorrhea edited by John Klima. Word has it that this last story will available soon…

Stay tuned…

REVIEW: Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku

MY RATING:

Physics of the Impossible is Michio Kaku’s latest science book and it is heavily influenced by science fictional ideas that may seem impossible, but in reality have definite scientific underpinnings (force fields, starships, FTL, time travel and others). Along the way he classifies these SF-nal ideas into three categories: Type I Impossibility (impossible today, but don’t violate laws of physics), Type II (skirt the edges of our understanding, may be possible in centuries or millennia), and Type III (violate our understanding of physics and, if possible, will require a complete re-evaluation of our understanding of physics). If you liked our interview with Mr. Kaku, you’ll most definitely enjoy this book.

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SF Tidbits for 4/15/08

REVIEW: Pirate Freedom by Gene Wolfe

REVIEW SUMMARY: Time-traveling pirates – what is not to love? OK, there isn’t really any science fiction in this story, but it is a fun book non the less.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Father Chris is more than he appears when he admits to killing a man in his past. The story of how it happened takes you back to the time of real pirates raiding Spanish ships full of treasure from the new world.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Gene Wolfe is a master storyteller with a command of the English language I can only marvel at. His prose – especially his character’s dialog – puts him amongst the best writers of our time, and this book is no exception. Brilliant ending. Generally strong female characters.

CONS: Fans of Wofle’s other more complex works might be disappointed by this rather straight-forward tale. Similar premise to Wizard Knight with a similar protagonist.

BOTTOM LINE: Gene Wolfe never stops surprising me with the variety of settings and types of people he writes about. Where will we end up next? I don’t know, but I can’t wait.

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REVIEW: Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi

REVIEW SUMMARY: A great showcase of Bacigalupi’s unique style and his mastery of short fiction.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A collection of ten stories written by Paolo Bacigalupi. (A limited edition contains an additional story.)

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Nine of the ten stories were good; three of those were outstanding.

CONS: One story dangerously close to being mediocre.

BOTTOM LINE: Clear evidence of Bacigalupi’s control over the form of short fiction.

Paolo Bacigalupi is rapidly the ranks of short fiction stardom, collecting accolades and critical acclaim at nearly every turn. Evidence supporting this can be found in his recent ten-story collection, Pump Six and Other Stories, which almost includes his entire short fiction output to date. (Night Shade Books also publishes a limited edition that contains the missing eleventh story, “Small Offerings”, which I reviewed in Fast Forward 1.)

One thing is clear: Bacigalupi does not write fiction just for the sake of it. Each story is rooted in one social issue or another. The backdrops he paints are mostly bleak, making the overall collection a tasty smorgasbord of Dystopias. He shows us eco-ravaged futures and technologies that create unique circumstances for the protagonists. While I’m not usually interested in science fiction as social commentary, Bacigalupi writes with a thankfully subtle hand, allowing the reader the take in as much – or as little – as he or she wishes. Furthermore, each of his stories explores a “single conceit”, the hallmark of classic short fiction, only as seen through the modern eyes of the socially conscious. The overall quality of the collection is thus fairly strong, with some of these stories garnering Hugo and Nebula nominations.

Reviewlettes of each story follow…

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First Impressions: The Sarah Jane Adventures

With bowls of popcorn in our laps, my daughter and I sat down to watch the premiere episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off of Doctor Who. Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) was the sidekick of the third and forth Doctors back in the 70’s, way before I was ever introduced to the show. The character also made an appearance in the 2006 episode “School Reunion”, at the end of which she sauntered happily off with the robotic dog called K-9.

Here are my initial impressions of the show.

(Cue Leslie Nielson: “I’m sorry…I don’t do impressions.”)

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Tube Bits for 04/14/2008

  • All right all you young whippersnappers, listen up. You may be wondering what all the fuss is over the upcoming Speed Racer movie (aside from the unique visuals and car fu). Well, Sci Fi Japan is doing a huge service for those of you who are not familiar with Speed and crew. They’ve running a series of post, looking at the original Speed Racer anime in all its glory. Marvel you will, especially when you realize there is oh so much more to come.
  • Minister Faust offers us his predictions about Galactica‘s final season. I’m not sure I agree, or disagree really, with any of them. They’re just food for thought right now, although I would say the ‘time-travel Kobold’ theory could be cool, or suck eggs. It would certainly fit into the whole ‘all this has happened before’ schtick if there are in some sort of closed time loop.
  • Apparently cutting records isn’t just for the the original Star Trek crew. Chase Masterson, Leeta from DS9, talks about her singing and her second album (among other stuff), to Robo Japan. And just so you know, Brent Spiner has a couple of albums under his belt too.
  • Thanks to the afore mentioned Robo Japan, we learn that Privateer Press is developing a collectible miniatures kaiju (that sorta means ‘giant monster’) game called Monsterpocalypse!. You can follow along at the developer’s blog. Please, please, please be like Crush, Crumble and Chomp! (How I miss thee my old Apple ][+ for you had the best games eva: Bilestoad, Choplifter, Karatake)
  • Who says nepotism is a bad thing? Not J.J. Abrams, that’s for sure. Abrams has tapped LOST producer Jeff Pinkner to be the show runner for his new SF, X-files-ish show Fringe. And what else do we learn? The pilot episode has a $10 million dollar budget (!), and it will be on Fox, which means it will either end after three episodes, or last three seasons too long.
  • There was, for a tiny fraction of time, a leaked trailer for the new The Clone Wars movie. Well, Gizmodo, in their quest for all things sensationalistic, found a version with Polish subtitles. Take a look and tell us what you think: good, bad, indifferent?

SF Tidbits for 4/14/08

POLL RESULTS: Hyperion Goes Hollywood

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Dan Simmons’ Hyperion is headed for the big screen. Is this a good idea?

RESULTS

(101 total votes)

I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s buying lunch in the cafeteria of sf shame for not having read this sf classic.

A few comments this week:

“I can’t see how you can do Hyperion in a single movie and wind up with anything much better than the mess that the DUNE movie turned out to be.” – Paul Weimer

“I would be afraid that they would turn this into a straight ‘horror flick’. Horrible monster goes around killing people on by one. Way too deep a novel to make into a movie.” – Cash

“Is Sean Connery available?” – platyjoe

“I hated that half of a book. I presume they will film Hyperion and the sequel since Hyperion is a completely incomplete story. BTW… Your polls are a lot less obvious on the left side of your web page. I’ve been missing a lot of them since you moved them.” – SF Fangirl
[John sez: Yeah…we know…and you’re not the only one. Our response numbers have been down ever since. This will be addressed soon.]

Be sure to check out this week’s poll – inconveniently located on our front page. If you find it, you can vote on your favorite book from the “Perfect Library”!

A science fiction blog featuring science fiction book reviews and with frequent ramblings on fantasy, computers and the web.