REVIEW SUMMARY: A very good compendium of end-of-the-world stories.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Anthology of 22 post-apocalyptic stories.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: 19 stories good or better stories, 6 of them excellent.

CONS: The Gene Wolfe story escapes my meager brain.

BOTTOM LINE: More entertaining than the average “Best of” annual anthology.

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse offers a great selection of end-of-the-world stories proving that stories in a single setting (or a single subgenre of science fiction) need not be similar. While the prevailing theme, as would be expected, is one of hope, the stories are presented with unique focus and voice. But the mood is as dark as it should be with such serious subject matter. With rare exception (Neal Barrett, Jr.’s comical “Ginny Sweethips’ Flying Circus”) these stories are gloomy indeed. But isn’t that the appeal of post-apocalyptic fiction after all?

John Joseph Adams has culled a great selection of stories here dating back to 1973, with more than half of those written in the last seven years. He also offers a super-handy index of post-apocalyptic stories and books for further reading, just in case you start jonesin’ for more.

Only three stories from the book’s roster of twenty-two failed to impress me. Perhaps the most glaring of those is the Gene Wolfe story, “Mute”, because Wolfe’s reputation is one of greatness and this story left me cold. But there were plenty of other stories to suit my tastes; a huge majority in fact. This is impressive since the variety of styles and stories that populate an anthology means there are bound to be some misses. But three out of twenty-two is a relatively low ratio when comparing it against my anthology consumption of years past. In then end, Wastelands proved to be more entertaining than the average yearly “Best of”.

Standout stories in this cant-miss volume include “The People of Sand and Slag” by Paolo Bacigalupi, “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth” by Cory Doctorow, “Judgment Passed” by Jerry Oltion, “Inertia” by Nancy Kress, “Speech Sounds” by Octavia E. Butler and “The End of the World as We Know It” by Dale Bailey.

Reviews of the individual stories follow…

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Filed under: Book Review

SF Tidbits for 1/3/08

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits for 01/03/2008

  • Mark Wilson at About.com looks at the scattershot second-half of the 2007-2008 SF TV season. Some shows will be all new: Jericho, New Amseterdam; while others are carry overs with a few more episodes left in the tank: Chuck, Flash Gordon and others. Inexplicably, LOST isn’t on the list, even though it starts Jan. 31st.
  • Blogcritics Magazine analyzes the Canadian SF show, Regenesis. They look at how the creators of the show want it to be as accurate as possible when it comes to the science. None of the instant lab reports or absolute certainty of other shows. I had no idea this was starting it’s fourth season. I, uh, can watch the first season if I want to. Any of our Canadian friends want to weigh in on this show?
  • Alan Stepinwall from The Star Ledger gives us TV worth watching a second time. The angle being that, with writers on strike, what shows merit a second watching, instead of forcing yourself to consume yet another ‘reality’ show. The genre shows here being LOST and Galactica. Follow the link to find out why.
  • John Kenneth Muir reflects on the old British/German SF TV show, Star Maidens. He gives us a nice run down of the opening episode. Surely the Space Princess Movement has found it’s TV show? And of course, YouTube has video, albeit very short.

Filed under: Tube Bits

Gawker Does SF

The long-awaited science fiction blog from the Gawker Media empire is ginally here and it’s called io9.

Io9 is edited by Annalee Newitz (of Wired and Popular Science fame) and says this about io9:

“We don’t see it as a niche entertainment site. We see it as a pop culture site. So much of our mainstream culture is now talked about and thought about in science-fictional terms. I think that’s why people like William Gibson and Brian Aldiss are saying there’s no more science fiction because we are now living in the future. The present is thinking of itself in science-fictional terms. You get things like George Bush taking stem cell policy from reading parts of Brave New World. That’s part of what we are playing with. We are living in world that now thinks of itself in terms of sci-fi and in terms of the future.”

Posts so far range from the snarky (Six Reasons Why Star Trek Should Stay Dead) to the interesting (Post-Apocalyptic Movie Chart) to the…err…helpful (How To Sh*t In Space).

Filed under: Web Sites

REVIEW: Hurricane Moon by Alexis Glynn Latner

MY RATING:

I’d have to place Hurricane Moon squarely into the ‘not what I was expecting’ category. The book description sounds really good: the last hope for humanity, several thousand colonists leave Earth in cold-sleep to find and establish a new colony on an Earth-like world, moon required. They eventually find two world sized planets orbiting each other. One has an abundance of land, “Green”, and one is mostly water, covered with hurricanes, “Blue”. However, the effects of cold-sleep have caused tremendous damage to the colonists’ genes, and it’s up to brilliant microbiologist Joseph Devreze to fix it.

Ms. Latner has written several short-stories, mostly of the hard SF variety. Because of this, and the description, I was expecting more of an emphasis on the science, especially with respect to “Blue” than what I found.

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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 address the the (possibly) misguided efforts of Hollywood to produce quality science fiction.

With most television shows on hiatus due to the writers strike, it’s a good time to reflect on the quality of the genre shows of this past TV season. If you ran Hollywood, what changes would you make? What would stay the same?
Chris Roberson
Chris Roberson’s novels include Here, There & Everywhere, The Voyage of Night Shining White, Paragaea: A Planetary Romance, X-Men: The Return, Set the Seas on Fire, The Dragon’s Nine Sons, and the forthcoming End of the Century, Iron Jaw and Hummingbird, and Three Unbroken. His short stories have appeared in such magazines as Asimov’s, Interzone, Postscripts, and Subterranean, and in anthologies such as Live Without a Net, FutureShocks, and Forbidden Planets. Along with his business partner and spouse Allison Baker, he is the publisher of MonkeyBrain Books, an independent publishing house specializing in genre fiction and nonfiction genre studies, and he is the editor of anthology Adventure Vol. 1. He has been a finalist for the World Fantasy Award three times-once each for writing, publishing, and editing-twice a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and twice for the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History Short Form (winning in 2004 with his story “O One”). Chris and Allison live in Austin, Texas with their daughter Georgia. Visit him online at www.chrisroberson.net.

The facile answer is to say that there should be fewer crappy shows and more good ones. Just what makes a show “good” or “crappy” is, of course, purely subjective (with the caveat that anyone who disagrees with me about Heroes being crap is just kidding themselves), but I think most viewers can agree about a certain level of objective quality. Or can they?

I think when it comes to genre shows, fans are often like abused girlfriends. “He doesn’t hit me much!” They approach a show that incorporates fantastic or sfnal elements with a certain set of expectations, some of which depend on the show’s quality as a television show–writing, acting, directing, even wardrobe and sets–and some of which involve its use of the “furniture” of genre–originality of concept, execution of ideas, etc. Often, sf/f fans will excuse a considerable amount of failing in the former category if a show does reasonably well in the latter. And if the deplorable quality of writing, or the wooden acting, or the lumpen directing is called out, fans will often respond with “It could be worse” or “At least it isn’t as bad as X,” or they’ll squint and say “Yes, but look at the story arc” or “check out the orbital physics of that starfighter.”

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Filed under: Mind Meld

Tube Bits For 01/02/2008

  • All you Galactica fans can rest easy now. Universal has announced a release date for the Season 3 DVDs. They will be available on March 25th, 2008. And the even better news is that all the episodes will be included. No more goody split seasons like Season 2. The start of the final season looks to have been pushed back to March as well, so if you’re hoping to catch up, well, you won’t be able to do it via the DVDs.
  • Like Stargate SG-1? Like to play MMORPGs? Then this contest may be for you. Beginning with this season of Stargate Atlantis, Sci Fi will be air a ‘gate code’ which, when entered at the contest’s web site will give you another entry to win. The winner will receive their likeness place somewhere within the Stargate Worlds MMO game, which will release this fall.
  • Film.com lists their Worst Sci Fi TV of 2007. Basically, it’s an anti-Sci Fi channel rant, and takes them to task for ECW and the ‘reality’ shows. Although I think they might have gone off the rails a bit with Tin Man, as I found that to be quite watchable, especially with the spousal overunit. Flash Gordon, not so watchable, so we agree there. We also disagree on how ‘good’ Bionic Woman was. Me: not so good.
  • TVJab lists their Best and Worst of 2007. As far as the genre show go, I have to agree. I do think that Zach Levi of Chuck has done a fine job as the lovable nerd at the Buy More and I think Pushing Daisies and Chuck are the two best of the new genre shows.
  • TVJab also lists their 5 Worst Sci Fi TV Series of all Time and wow, there are some terrible shows there. If you thought Automan was bad, just watch some of these. I do remember seeing The Man From Atlantis when it first aired though. What can I say? I was young and stupid.

Filed under: Tube Bits

SF Tidbits for 1/2/08

Filed under: Tidbits

Top 25 SF Signal Posts for 2007

As per Google Analytics, here are The Top 25 SF Signal Posts for 2007:

  1. Reader Challenge #6 – The Harry Potter Outreach Program Final Update
  2. Heroes Season 2 Officially Sucks
  3. Battlestar Galactica: Razor – To Watch Or Not?
  4. Heroes Spinoff: Origins
  5. RIP: James Oliver Rigney, Jr. (Robert Jordan)
  6. NOMINEES: 2007 Hugo Award
  7. Deathly Hallows Spoilers!!!
  8. 1967 Wonder Woman TV Pilot
  9. The End Of Heroes Season 2
  10. REVIEW: The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction edited by George Mann
  11. MIND MELD: How Have Online Book Reviews Affected the Publishing World?
  12. The Top 10 Science Fiction Anime
  13. 2006: A Year in Review
  14. Reader Challenge #6 – The Harry Potter Outreach Program
  15. INTERVIEW: Zombie John C. Wright
  16. INTERVIEW: Zombie John Scalzi
  17. REVIEW: 2006 Nebula Award Short Fiction Nominees
  18. CNet: 10 Ways Science Fiction Influenced Real-Life Science
  19. REVIEW: 2007 Hugo Award Short Fiction Nominees
  20. The 7 Coolest Scenes In Science Fiction Film And Television
  21. Trek XI On Track For December ’08 Release And Suckage
  22. Tube Bits for 07/17/2007
  23. Monday YouTube: Bender’s Big Score Trailer
  24. A Big-@$$ Collection of Robert A. Heinlein Links
  25. The Problem With Mundane-SF

Looking at the top overall hits, while ignoring those listed above, we get these stats popular posts first appeared before 2007:

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Filed under: Meta

Top 10 SF Signal Posts for December 2007

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

  1. MIND MELD: How Have Online Book Reviews Affected the Publishing World?
  2. MIND MELD: How has the Internet impacted book selling?
  3. Eating and Watching Movies at the Same Time (The “I Am Legend” Not-Review)
  4. The Star Wars Christmas Album
  5. Thoughts on the Heroes Mid-Season Finale
  6. Who’s the Best Joker?
  7. Four Minutes of Cloverfield
  8. GIVEAWAY: Win Tickets To The I Am Legend NY City Premier
  9. A Christmas Gift: First Novels/First Time Authors
  10. It’s a Sci Fi Christmas – Firefly

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

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Filed under: Meta

New LEGO Indiana Jones Sets

Take just about any movie, add some LEGO, and you’ve instantly got hours of fun! Proof? Look no further than the new Indiana Jones themed LEGO sets. In a word: awesome.

They’ve created new sets for Raiders, The Last Crusade (sadly, no head lopping set. I’d love to see a Holy Grail resting place set with LEGO scimitars) and, of course, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which are set to be released when the movie opens. Yet another reason to get excited about the new movie. The sets for the older movies are available now if you want to get one, or two. That ‘Lost Tomb’ set looks really cool too, what with the LEGO Anubis and all.

And isn’t it interesting there is no Temple of Doom sets? Who wouldn’t like to play Mola Ram, ripping LEGO hearts out of LEGO people in their underground temple? No one! And what about a LEGO pachinko game based on the bridge collapse at the end of the movie? Bonus points for LEGO Thugees getting eating by alligators.

Filed under: Movies

2007: A Year in Review – John’s Take

Continuing my annual tradition, this is a year-end summary of my personal sf/fantasy/horror experiences for 2007. Note: These are not necessarily things that first appeared this year, they are just the things that I read (or watched) this year.

THE SHORT VERSION

To sum up, the Best Reads of 2007 (works that received at least a 4.5/5 rating) are:



The Liberty Gun by Martin Sketchley (2006)

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (1956)

D.A. by Connie Willis (2006)

Deadstock by Jeffrey Thomas (2007)

The Last Colony by John Scalzi (2007)

The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin (2006)

Helix by Eric Brown (2007)

The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks (2006)

We, Robots by Sue Lange (2007)

The Electric Church by Jeff Somers (2007)

Ivory – A Legend of Past and Future by Mike Resnick (1988/2007)

“Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman by Harlan Ellison & Rick Berry (1965/1997)

The Dragon’s Nine Sons by Chris Roberson (2008)

Maybe worth noting: only 5 of these titles first appeared in 2007 and one (an advanced reader copy) will appear in 2008. Ellison and Scalzi were on last year’s list.

Read on for the longer version…

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Filed under: BooksHeroesMoviesTV

Friday YouTube: American Cyborg – Steel Warrior

Can you count how many times does this 90-second trailer rips off Terminator?

[via Poe TV]

Filed under: Movies

SF Tidbits for 1/1/08

Filed under: Tidbits

SF Tidbits for 12/31/07

  • Tim Pratt (Blood Engines) invents a new literary movement at John Scalzi’s Whatever blog.
  • The Agony Column has part one of a podcast-interview with Charles Stross (Halting State), who, at his own website, lists his upcoming novels.
  • A.R. Yngve takes an introspective look at sf fads and fashions: “All science-fiction fads, when you look back at them, seem naive. They are invariably rooted in the wishful thinking and cultural anxieties of their time and audience.”
  • More 2007 Best Lists:
  • As part of The Sci-Fi Experience 2008, Dark Orpheus shares his re-reading experience with C.J. Cherryh’s Cyteen.
  • The New York Times recollects an article from 1908 that offered predications for 2008. “We may have gyroscopic trains as broad as houses swinging at 200 miles an hour up steep grades and around dizzying curves…”
  • And finally, the last tidbit of 2007: Brewster Rockit, Space Guy looks at New Years’ Resolutions.

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 12/31/2007

  • Just before Christmas, Art Asylum released two pictures of their new retro Galactica minimates figures. These are cool beyond words, and they go nicely with the minimates for the new series they released earlier this year. I’m heading to Target as soon as these are released. They’ll look so good in my cube…[via ToysREvil]
  • So you say you missed out on the previous LOST ARG and had to miss all the fun of deciphering the clues. Well never fear! A new ARG for LOST is starting today! It appears the Oceanic Air is re-opening it’s doors to the flying public, and their new web site, Fly Oceanic Air, is set to open today. If this is your thing, give it a go. I prefer to wait and let others do the hard work while I reap the story benefits.
  • Matt Reves, director of Cloverfield has seen the Trek XI teaser trailer and thinks fans should be excited about it. Knowing how Hollywood can make any movie look good in a trailer, I’m still not excited.
  • MySanAntonio lists their Best TV of 2007 and Journeyman, Dr. Who and Torchwood make the grade.
  • SFFaudio points us to the new Blake’s 7 radio program on BBC 7. It’s apparently three, one-hour long broadcasts, and you can find them on the BBC site. Sadly, you can only listen to shows from the last week, meaning the first episode is unavailable.
  • For those of you who watch Medium, the new season starts on January 7th, and NBC has placed the last three episodes, of last season, online so you can catch up. And fans of the show give their predictions for the new season over on YouTube. I’ve never watched the show, but they must be doing something right to get 4 seasons.
  • The Website at the End of the Universe points us to the pilot for the shot-lived TV show Automan. Just check out that Tron looking uniform. In fact, the whole show looks like a Tron rip-off, with cheesier SFX.

Filed under: Tube Bits

POLL RESULTS: Reading Over the Holidays

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Do you read more or less over the holidays?

RESULTS

(95 total votes)

Comments this week:

“Well, it really depends. I read more if we spend the holiday at home or with my in-laws. But it’s way less if I spend it with my parents. They spend all year just reading, and when the kids are around they want to talk, talk and talk some more.” – Karen Burnham

“I daresay there is scarcely a more beautiful and satisfying thing than to be in your bed till the very late/early hours of the evening/morning on a holiday reading a nice book. Happy holidays to all.” – General X

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about upcoming movies based on comic books?

Filed under: Polls

Tron Director Working On A New Movie, Soul Code

Those of us of a certain age, which includes all of us here at the big SFS, remember the ‘classic’ SF movie Tron with at least some fondness. I managed to score the 20th Anniversary DVD edition for my birthday a couple of years back and introduced my kids to Tron, which they then proceeded to watch at least 5 times over the next two days.

Writer/director Steve Lisberger directed two more movies, Hot Pursuit and Slipstream, but nothing that approaches the cult status of Tron. But now, Tom’s Games has an interview with Lisberger where he details the new script he’s working on called Soul Code. The new movie isn’t a sequel, as Lisberger says Tron stopped pretty much at the end of the road, but Soul Code will deal with human interaction with advancing technology. Those of you who want to see more of the Tron story ought to find the PC game Tron 2.0, which is actually a really nice FPS in it’s own right, aside from continuing the story.

From what is in the article, Soul Code will deal with the discovery of the ability to ‘download’ people’s memories, presumably into a computer. Nothing really new to us in the SF community, but as far as SF movies go, I’m hard pressed to think of one that deal directly with this. Maybe the Lawnmower Man movies.

It’s a long article and I’m officially interested in the movie, which could be ready by late 2009, so set your alarms now.

Filed under: Movies

Sunday Cinema – Firefly: The Train Job

Last week we showed you a bunch of science fiction TV episodes from Hulu. Today we’re going to bring you the next episode of one of the best, if shortest, science fiction shows ever produced. I’m talking about, of course, Firefly.

If you’ve never seen it before, now, and in the coming weeks, you’ll have the chance to see it right here. Hopefully you’ll be drawn in and become a raving browncoat like many of us. Or possibly you’ll be interested enough to purchase the box set of the DVDs so you can see it in it’s full glory on the television. In any event, after the break you can watch the second episode Whedon intended.

(See here for the first episode.)

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Filed under: FireflyTV

SF Tidbits for 12/30/07

Filed under: Tidbits

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