Sunday Cinema – Firefly: Shindig

Yee haw, we got us a shindig! In today’s episode, Mal and crew attend a fancy ball where Mal winds up in a duel to defend Inara’s honor. Have at thee!

Filed under: FireflyTV

Free Audiobook: Grey by Jon Armstrong

Recently we announced the nominees for the 2008 Philip K. Dick Award, honoring distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States.

How would you like a free audio version of one of them, read by the book’s author?

Head on over to podiobooks and you can download a free audiobook version of Grey by Jon Armstrong, a book originally publsihed by Night Shade Books in February 2007.

Not sure if you’ll like it? The link also lets you sample the first chapter.

[via Beam Me Up]

Filed under: Free Fiction

Clifford D. Simak on Science Fiction

The SciFi Catholic (D.G.D. Davidson) supplies a quote from Clifford D. Simak taken from the criticism book SF: The Other Side of Realism:

It has always seemed to me that if there were such a thing as “mainstream,” science fiction should belong, at least marginally, to it, for everyone who writes, whatever he may write, does so within the parameters of a literary tradition that has evolved, developed, and changed through the years. And the effort to disassociate fantasy (which is pretty much an undefinable term) and science fiction (which is perhaps as much so) arises from the intricate business of arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I don’t think that we should attempt to distinguish between the two, and that the writer, especially, should disregard any artificial line that exists between them. The best stories, it seems to me, are fantasies, whether they be based on solid scientific extrapolation, or on engineering concepts carried to an ultimate point, or on something else.

Filed under: Books

TOC: The Year’s Best Science Fiction #25

Gardner Dozois has posted the table of contents for The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fifth Annual Collection:

  1. “Finisterra” by David Moles
  2. “Lighting Out” by Ken Macleod
  3. “The Ocean Is A Snowflake Four Billion Miles Away” by John Barnes
  4. “Saving Tiamaat” by Gweyneth Jones
  5. “Of Late I Dreamt Of Venus” by James Van Pelt
  6. “Verthandi’s Ring” by Ian Mcdonald
  7. “Sea Change” by Una Mccormack
  8. The Sky Is Large and the Earth Is Small” by Chris Roberson
  9. “Glory” by Greg Egan
  10. “Against The Current” by Robert Silverberg
  11. “Alien Archeology” by Neal Asher
  12. The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” by Ted Chiang
  13. “Beyond The Wall” by Justin Stanchfield
  14. Kiosk” by Bruce Sterling
  15. “Last Contact” by Stephen Baxter
  16. “The Sledge-Maker’s Daughter” by Alastair Reynolds
  17. “Sanjeev and Robotwallah” by Ian Mcdonald
  18. “The Skysailor’s Tale” by Michael Swanwick
  19. “Of Love and Other Monsters” by Vandana Singh
  20. “Steve Fever” by Greg Egan
  21. “Hellfire at Twilight” by Kage Baker
  22. “The Immortals of Atlantis” by Brian Stableford
  23. “Nothing Personal” by Pat Cadigan
  24. Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear
  25. “The Accord” by Keith Brooke
  26. “Laws of Survival” by Nancy Kress
  27. “The Mists of Time” by Tom Purdom
  28. “Craters” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  29. “The Prophet of Flores” by Ted Kosmatka
  30. “Stray” by Benjamin Rosenbaum & David Ackert
  31. “Roxie” by Robert Reed
  32. “Dark Heaven” by Gregory Benford

[via John Joseph Adams]

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Filed under: Books

Elric: The Stealer of Souls

Back in August 2007, John Picacio completed the cover artwork for Elric: The Stealer of Souls, the first of six new trade paperbacks from Ballantine/Del Rey collecting Michael Moorcock’s classic Elric novels.

This week, John shares the final cover design and it looks sweet. These editions come with new introductions, illustrations, and notes. Later this week, John will be sharing some of the interior illustrations.

I may have to follow the suggestions of folks and (finally) read one to see if it becomes one of the few fantasy books I like.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 1/12/08

Filed under: Tidbits

Preliminary Nominees: 2007 Nebula Awards

The preliminary nominees for the 2007 Nebula Awards have been announced.

[Note: Book/Story title links go to FREE online versions. :)]

NOVELS

  • Vellum: The Book of All Hours by Hal Duncan [See SF Signal review]
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling [See SF Signal review]
  • Odyssey by Jack McDevitt
  • Mainspring by Jay Lake [See SF Signal review]
  • The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
  • Species Imperative #3: Regeneration by Julie E. Czerneda
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
  • The New Moon’s Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
  • Blindsight by Peter Watts [See SF Signal review]
  • Rollback by Robert Sawyer
  • The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald
  • Strange Robby by Selina Rosen
  • Ragamuffin by Tobias Buckell [See SF Signal review]

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Tube Bits For 01/12/2008

  • Both LOST and Pushing Daisies have been nominated for best directing in drama and comedy series by the Director’s Guild of America. If you haven’t seen Pushing Daisies, I highly recommend it. It’s certainly different from anything else on TV and it has a subtle, silly sense of humor that fits the tone perfectly. Plus, it has Jim Dale as the narrator, which is a huge plus. I could listen to him talk all day about the finer points of quantity surveying and still enjoy it.
  • Sy Fy Portal takes on those Star Trek fans who are upset that J.J. Abrams will be re-doing the look of the Enterprise. They point out, quite rightly, that the look has changed almost every time there was a new Trek program, so who should now be any different, even if it’s set in the past? It doesn’t bother my they are re-designing it, I just hope it looks better then the Enterprise from The Next Generation.
  • Are you one of those people who have turned to the Internet for your video entertainment since the writer’s strike occurred? If so, you’re not alone. YouTube is reporting an 18% increase in traffic since the strike, ironically providing anecdotal information for the writer’s that people will be obtaining their entertainment from the Internet more and more in the future, especially the younger demographic. The demographic that pulls in the big advertising dollars.
  • Think you have it hard now that the writer’s strike has cancelled your favorite show? Be glad your livelihood doesn’t depend Hollywood running smoothly. Showbuzz looks at the people who have been hit hard by the strike. As you might imagine, it’s the little guy being pummeled.
  • Science Fiction Weekly reviews The Sarah Connor Chronicles and gives it an ‘A’. I have yet to see a really negative review. Set those DVRs for this sundae!
  • Speaking of TSCC, did you know a tour bus is crossing the country promoting the series? If you’re lucky and the bus comes to your area, you’ll be able to appear in a scene of TSCC and the video will be uploaded to the site for you to share. Additionally, and even cooler, if you have Verizon, the video will be sent to your phone so you can have a copy of it to watch later. That’s a nice bit of cross promotion there.

Filed under: Tube Bits

Friday YouTube: Ricky Schroeder in a Star Wars Commercial

[via A Different Point of View]

Filed under: Star Wars

Tube Bits For 01/11/2008

  • If you’re in or around Baltimore Jan. 17th – 20th, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has a rather unique concert series for you, especially if you like the music of science fiction. As the article says “Symphony audiences rarely see a conductor using a light saber for a baton, singers donning “Star Trek” apparel, transporter beam special effects or a dazzling laser light show, but the Sci-Fi Spectacular will have all these thematic elements.” All these SFX for a concert, and George Takei as the narrator! The “Lost in Syndication” Medley consists of a number of theme songs from scienct fiction TV shows. Sounds really cool, too bad I don’t live in Baltimore…
  • The independent science fiction series, The House Between, begins it’s second season on Jan. 25th. John Kenneth Muir, the creator, is interviewed at Sy Fy Portal about the new series, and how the internet allows independent producers to make an end run around Hollywood and create something new, instead of reanimating the corpses of old SF TV shows.
  • You may have seen this EW photo spread of the cast of Galactica, arranged like Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”. Everyone in it is posed in some way that supposedly hints at something to come in season 4. However, Ron Moore told EW that the final, unknown Cylon is not in the photo. Which means it will either be someone we’ve never seen before (some unknown actor – lame, Lorne Greene – Awesome!), or some bit player. I’m still not convinced that there is any way Saul can possibly be a Cylon. I’d like to see how they pull that off.
  • Japanator informs us that the Sci Fi Channel is expanding their anime programming to include a new night, Tuesdays. Starting in February, you’ll be able to see the first Appleseed movie on Tuesday, February 12th. Just in time to catch it before it’s sequel is released in March.

Filed under: Tube Bits

SF Tidbits for 1/11/08

Filed under: Tidbits

Battlestar Galactica‘s Season 4 Start Date Revealed!


Image courtesy of EW and kidddrunkadelic14’s Flickr page.

We’ve been given some exciting, and official, news regarding the new start date of Battlestar Galactica‘s Season 4 (there was some mix up with the press release so no link to it). Galactica will return on April 4th and will run for 10 episodes.

No word on whether the 10 episodes are a result of the previously mentioned splitting of the final season into two, or a forced split because of the writer’s strike. Still, now we can see how the above picture’s clues play out in the actual show. Stringing us out for an extra ‘season’ is rather weak, but at least we’ll get to see more Galactica. I’m hoping the show rights itself now that it is definitely ending. And I’d really like to see a bang up ending. Here’s to hoping.

Filed under: Battlestar GalacticaTV

Should The Corpses of Dead SciFi Shows Be Revived?

The new blog, IO9, recently posted a poll that asked Which dead Sci Fi show should breathe again? The usual suspects are there: Farcscape, Quantum Leap, Firefly, along with others.

But this question got me thinking: Don’t we, as science fiction fans, continually rail against Hollywood and the TV studios for their lack of imagination and propensity to resurrect or re-make old shows? (Why yes, yes we do.) But here comes Gawker’s shiny new SF site that wants the networks to somehow resurrect an old SF show from the trash heap of discarded shows. And well over 100 people agree that it’s, at least, a decent idea. Just look at everyone who says “But what about show X?” Isn’t this sending the wrong message? There are plenty of science fiction stories that should get some sort of treatment on either the small screen or big screen. I think a better question would have been “What science fiction story or novel would you like to see made into a series?” Of course, one possible answer could be “None, I’d like to see something completely new!” Why re-animate when you can innovate?

I’ll tell you why…

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Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 1/10/08

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 01/10/2008

  • Are you tired of just watching movies or television? Ever wish you could feel like you were in the movie? Well, D-Box promises “Viewers equipped with a D-BOX integrated motion system will actually feel the rush of flight, the torque of speed and bumps in the road, and virtually every pulse…” in the movies Independence Day and I, Robot, which have been specially enhanced to work with the D-Box on their Blu-Ray discs. That’s right, now you too can feel the thrill of a cheap Las Vegas motion control ride in your very own home! And just check out how awesome that couch, err, D-Box is!

  • Chris Beaumont at Blog Critics Magazine reviews the pilot episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, via Yahoo TV. The verdict? Tune in this Sunday!
  • The American Culture blog also has a review up, this time of the BBC series Life on Mars, the is-it-or-isn’t-it time travel police show. I have to agree that this is one show you shouldn’t miss. It’s currently running on BBC America for those on this side of the pond.
  • Buddy TV adds to the mania leading to the premier of season 4 of LOST. This time, they have an interview with Michael Emerson, who plays probably one of the most interesting, diabolical villains ever on TV: Ben Linus. I’m just hacked I have to wait for three more weeks…
  • For those of you who like Chuck but are wondering when the last two filmed episodes will air, look no further than Jan. 24th. NBC will air both remaining episodes, the first at 8pm ET, the second at 10pm ET. In between you can watch Don Trump yell at various celebrity apprentices.
  • The new Knight Rider movie is set to air Feb. 17th. NBC has posted a teaser video on YouTube with some behind the scenes footage from the show. Check it.
  • I’m not sure I could make a whole post from this, so I’ll put it here. Brass Goggles points us to these awesome Gaslight Justice League models by scratch modeler Sillof Just wow. Also, check out his other models, especially the Star Wars ones based on Ralph McQuarrie’s art work. Sweet.

Filed under: Tube Bits

NOMINEES: 2008 Philip K. Dick Award

Nominees for this year’s Philip K. Dick Award, given annually for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States, have been announced:

  • Grey, Jon Armstrong (Night Shade)
  • Undertow, Elizabeth Bear (Bantam Spectra)
  • From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain, Minister Faust (Del Rey)
  • Nova Swing, M. John Harrison (Bantam Spectra)
  • Gradisil, Adam Roberts (Pyr)
  • Ally, Karen Traviss (Eos)
  • Saturn Returns, Sean Williams (Ace)

See also: Past winners.

[via Locus Online]

Filed under: Awards

In our Mind Meld posts, we pose a single question to a slice of the sf/f community and, depending on the question, other folks as well.

This week, we asked a seemingly simple question about the definition of science fiction.

Everyone knows the “Old Guard” definitions of science fiction. As part of the “New Guard,” how would you define science fiction?

Note: Thanks to my poorly worded question, the answers received varied a bit. I meant to ask for personal definitions of science fiction but instead tripped up relating it back to an already-existing set of definitions. Thus my unfortunate use of “New Guard” became the focus of some responses from folks. Nevertheless, I promise the responses make for good reading. :)

Also: The turn-out for this question was higher than expected, so expect a Part 2 in the very near future. (UPDATE: Part 2 has been posted.)

Alastair Reynolds
Alastair Reynolds is a science fiction writer and former scientist. He lives in Wales. His next novel is the far-future House of Suns (comming in April 2008 from Orion).

Science Fiction is fiction set in a future which is not inconsistent with our present knowledge of the world, or such knowledge as it exists at the time the work was written. In other words, there must be a logically-consistent roadmap between the present and the future. The future may be the moment immediately after the present, or an arbitrarily distant era. Alternate histories are not therefore science fiction, nor are fantasy works incorporating science fictional tropes. Science fiction works may come to resemble alternate histories or fantasies as they become invalidated by historical developments, but since such works were not intentionally written as AH or fantasy, they are still to be considered science fiction.

Karl Schroeder
Having wracked his brains to be innovative in the novels Ventus, Permanence, and Lady of Mazes, Karl Schroeder decided to relax for a while and write pirate stories, starting with last year’s Sun of Suns and Queen of Candesce. Of course, these novels are pirate stories set in a world without gravity — but hey, swashes are still buckled, swords unsheathed, and boarding parties formed in the far-future world of Virga. He’s currently writing the fourth book of the Virga series (no, it’s not a trilogy) and thinking about how to hammer science fiction into some new shapes based on current research into cognitive science. When he occasionally pokes his head out of the trenches, he blogs about this stuff at www.kschroeder.com.

I hate this question…

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Filed under: Mind Meld

SF Tidbits for 1/9/08

  • At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Chris Roberson, author of The Dragon’s Nine Sons and Three Unbroken.
  • io9 interviews Charles Stross (Halting State): “Fiction, confabulation, story-telling — is, when you get down to it, usually used as an entertainment medium, and also as a mechanism for showing us about other ways of thinking, and if you try to preach a political message you usually end up with something that’s not very entertaining (if not outright annoying to a lot of your readers).”
  • S.M. Duke interviews Jennifer Rahn (The Longevity Thesis): “Now I live in perpetual angst, hoping that Joan D. Vinge will publish something new. Honestly, the woman writes literary crack.”
  • Paul McAuley asks: “Has SF lost its grip on the future?” as he wonders about science fiction’s retreat from classic tropes.
  • Matt Mitchell explains The Difference Between SciFi and Fantasy: “When the science of something is explained plausibly, within the laws of physics it is SciFi.

    When the science of something is not explained, it is fantasy.”

  • Jeff VanderMeer has Sarah Monette talking about Catastrophe. “…twist endings are something we grow out of, both as readers and as writers.”
  • At Intergalactic Medicine Show, Carol Pinchefsky asks: Is There Nepotism in Science Fiction? “Because of this ultra-socialization in the genre, editors tend to buy stories and novels from people that they often already know, at least tangentially.” [via Futurismic]
  • Free Fiction:
    • Edward Willett has posted the first two chapters of his upcoming SF novel Marseguro (due out from DAW Books February 5) online.
    • The January 2008 issue of Apex Online has been posted.
    • Orbit is giving away a copy of Iain Banks’ latest Culture novel, Matter.
    • Illusion On-Demand has launched Transmitter, a new online sci-fi anthology magazine.
    • Elizabeth Bear has the skinny on Shadow Unit, a “website for a serial drama in internet form”, some free, some by reasonably-priced subscription. Staff writers include Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Sarah Monette and Ms. Bear herself.
  • Subterranean press is showing off their cool cover of Snow Crash, a Neal Stephenson limited edition reprint due in the Fall. [via Big Dumb Object]
  • Fascinating: SciFi Scanner tells us that there will be three Spock characters in the new Star Trek movie.
  • Mike Brotherton (Star Dragon, Spider Star) lists Top 10 Science-Based Sci-Fi Movies.

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 01/09/2008

  • Entertainment Weekly, via Buddy TV, has a big story with Matthew Fox about LOST‘s season 4. There’s not really any spoilers, per se, more about the direction that this season will take and which of the big questions will be addressed. Fox also assures us that, now that there is an end date, the story will be able to move faster as Lindelof and Cuse won’t have to vamp to drag the story out indefinitely. Well, the story will move faster once the writer’s strike is over. The first new episodes start on January 31st.
  • If you have an Xbox 360, this may be of interest. Both ABC TV and MGM will make several shows available, in HD, on Xbox Live Marketplace. So if you miss LOST‘s HD run on the ABC website, you can rent the episodes and watch them on your 360.
  • Lena Headey, the new Sarah Connor in Fox’s The Sarah Connor Chronicles, speaks about taking over the role from Linda Hamilton. As the TV show is sort of re-imagining the movies, there is more chance for Sarah’s character to development emotionally, rather than being the single-minded person in the later films. I’m cautiously optimistic about the show, which starts Jan. 13th.
  • Fourth Cult brings us six things I learned from Battlestar Galactica. Somewhat risque, but also a bit funny and so, so true.
  • If you watched last week’s season premier of Stargate Atlantis, you saw the debut of the official trailer for the new MMORPG Stargate Worlds. Ten Ton Hammer also has six new screenshots covering the worlds show in the trailer. I’ve never been a big Stargate fan, and World of Warcraft tired me out on MMORPGs, but this game looks rather interesting. Since there is a dearth of SF themed MMOs, I may just check this out.
  • And finally, NBC has released the second promo trailer for the new Knight Rider movie, you can see it below. Of course I’ll check it out, but they still should have forced GM to start making Firebirds again just for this show.

Filed under: Tube Bits

Summer Glau on BlogTalkRadio Tonight

The fine folks over at BlogTalkRadio wrote in to tell us that actress Summer Glau from the upcoming Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles will be on tonight’s podcast:

Actress Summer Glau from the upcoming “Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles” joins Dr. Blogstein today January 8, 2008, at 9pm ET / 6pm PT to discuss the new Terminator series. Many of you will recognize Summer from the Firefly television series and the action-packed sci-fi movie Serenity. Terminator premieres on Fox on Sunday Jan 13th and Monday Jan 14.

Also on tonight’s program Collette Mclafferty, lead singer of edibleRed and an update from the World Series of Beer Pong. Don’t miss a single minute!

Dr. Blogstein’s Radio Happy Hour is a live, interactive Internet broadcast hosted on BlogTalkRadio. A call in number as well as a text chat room can be found on the host page. Archives of the show are made available after the show at the host page or via RSS subscription at the host page or iTunes.

Filed under: FireflyTVWeb Sites

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