Oh, this is good….

[via Cynical-C]

Filed under: Star Wars

Tube Bits For 08/11/2007

  • View From The Virtual Couch explains why Babylon 5 should appeal to those who don’t like science fiction, it’s all about the poetry. Once you’ve converted someone to a B5 fan, you can move on to Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos.
  • Both St. Louis Today and The Salt Lake Tribune had reviews of Sci Fi’s Flash Gordon, and the results aren’t promising. As of this writing, it’s just after 9pm on Friday night and Flash Gordon is on, except at my house, because my kids are watching Mythbusters. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see Flash later this evening.
  • For your viewing pleasure, the NBC Heroes Season 2 Preview is posted below. Warning, there may be spoilers so watch at your own risk. Don’t come crying to me if you get spoiled.

SF Tidbits for 8/11/07

Filed under: Tidbits

The Problem With Mundane-SF

Perhaps I should rephrase my objection a bit and say, rather, “The Problem With Those Who Militantly Push Mundane-SF’. Over on the Mundane-SF blog, author ‘goatchurch’ has an anti-Michi Kaku rant, where he take Kaku to taks for his book Parallel Worlds and his occupation as an astrophysicist. Let’s have a look, shall we?

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Filed under: Meta

[via Chris Robinson -- I mean Chris Roberson]

Filed under: Doctor Who

Book Hunter

Book Hunter is a comic for book lovers. Actually it’s like Law and Order for biblioholics. The first sequence is not for the squeamish.

Here’s the synopsis from the website:

The year is 1973. A priceless book has been stolen from the Oakland Public Library. A crack team of Bookhunters (aka. library police) have less than three days to recover the stolen item. It’s a race against the clock as our heroes use every tool in their arsenal of library equipment to find the book and the mastermind who stole it.

Cool comic — check it out.

[via Ben Peek]

Filed under: Web Sites

SF Tidbits for 8/10/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 08/10/2007

  • Televisionista discusses the pilots with the most buzz among potential viewers. The winners? Bionic Woman and Cavemen. You decide how good that is…
  • To help you decide, Star Trek and Media Science Fiction Blog points us to some mixed reviews for Bionic Woman. Is anyone planing on watching this one?
  • The San Jose Mercury News has the critics’ take on the new fall shows. Is it surprising that it differs from the viewers?
  • TV Buddy tells us that Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell maybe headed to LOST to play one of the ‘boat people’. As long as they don’t pull a Nikki and Paolo this should be fine.
  • As we all learned from Yogurt, the way to success is ‘merchandising’! So it shouldn’t come as a shock that the Heroes merchandising onslaught is set to explode just in time for the second season. Seriously, who buys all this stuff?
  • NBC is going old school. I remember the networks broadcasting specials that highlighted the upcoming fall tv series. Now, NBC is resurrecting the idea on Sept. 8th to highlight their upcoming programs. Takes me back, it does.
  • TBO.com has an advance review of Sci Fi’s Flash Gordon (which premiers tonight, by the way). Without knowing the reviewer’s tastes, I can’t really tell whether a bad review means the show is really bad or not. Of course, my hopes aren’t that high to begin with. We’ll see tonight. (Ah-ah!)

Filed under: HeroesLOSTTube BitsTV

SF Tidbits for 8/9/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 08/08/2007

  • That explosion you heard last Saturday night was Masters Of Science Fiction tanking in the ratings. But then again, what did ABC expect after putting the show in that time slot and bad mouthing it as much as they did?
  • Amazon.com has a podcast with Joss Whedon where they discuss Firefly, Serenity and more.
  • Monsters and Critics has three streaming video clips for Sci Fi’s upcoming show Flash Gordon. Don’t forget, Flash airs this Friday night! I hear he’ll save everyone of us.
  • Speaking of Flash Gordon, Slice of Sci Fi has an interview with Karen Cliche, who plays the bounty hunter Baylin on Gordon.
  • Sci Fi Weekly has a review of Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex-Solid State Society. Whew.
  • TG Writer has a nice post about the best episodes of Trek. He names quite a number of decent episodes, but leaves out my favorite TNG episode, “Yesterday’s Enterprise”.

Filed under: FireflyHeroesLOSTTube BitsTV

Over at InterGalactic Medicine Show, Carol Pinchefsky examines the ways personality influences reading choices:

Why do I read science fiction and fantasy?

It turns out the answer may be in my psychological makeup. Paul Allen, a reader of science fiction and a practicing clinical psychotherapist for 22 years, says my temperament predisposes me to a love of science fiction.

Each of us has a temperament, that is, a part of our personality that may or may not be genetically based. A quick Myers-Briggs test has informed me that I’m a Thinking iNtuitive (NT), that is, a “Rational.” According to the Keirsey Temperament website, “Rationals are very scarce, comprising as little as 5 to 7 percent of the population.”

Allen says, “NTs are non-conformist critical thinkers. The NTs idolize the science fiction writer as the real architects of change. They can see the cleverness and competency in science fiction. Back in the day, when you could sell a book with a rocketship on the cover, you were selling to the NT.”

Filed under: Books

Jane Espenson’s Secret to Selling Sci-Fi

Over at The New Republic, Jane Espenson (writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Co-Executive Producer on Battlestar Galactica) talks about the how to broaden the appeal of science fiction and fantasy beyond the niche:

It’s a very specific type of Hero’s Journey, the most potent sub-case. It’s told over and over again, and it works, over and over again. Dorothy Gale, Buffy Summers, Harry Potter, Charlie Bucket, Luke Skywalker, even Peter Parker, they all fit a very specific pattern. They’re living a life, sometimes a fine one, often a troubled one, but certainly one governed by ordinary rules, when suddenly the curtain is pulled back and a whole new world, or a new set of rules of this world, is revealed. And what’s more – and this is the important part – in that new world, they are something special. They are The Chosen One.

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 8/8/07

  • Silicon.com interviews William Gibson, who has given up writing about the future. “The trouble is there are enough crazy factors and wild cards on the table now that I can’t convince myself of where a future might be in 10 to 15 years.” [via Tai-Chi Policy]
  • Reuters also has a William Gibson interview: “Personally I think that contemporary reality is sufficiently science fiction for me. Some critics are already maintaining that science fiction is a sort of historical category and it is not possible any more.”
  • Premiere.com has an interview with special effects legend Ray Harryhausen and author Ray Bradbury.
  • CBC interviews Robert J. Sawyer. “My purpose is to shake up complacency, to get people thinking, to talk about issues–abortion, evolution vs. creationism, capital punishment, the genetic revolution, unequal access to health care, you name it. Note that I’m not writing to preach: it’s honestly irrelevant what I think about those issues. What I do is contrive scenarios in which those issues go from being abstract to concrete, so that we can get at the underlying ethics and philosophy.”
  • Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist interviews Daniel Abraham. (A Betrayal in Winter).
  • The Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast episode for August 3 features an interview with Jasper Fforde. [via Michael A. Burstein]
  • Amazon has an audio-interview (WMA format) with Joss Whedon.
  • Fantasy Book Critic has an excerpt from Joe Haldeman’s The Accidental Time Machine .
  • Awards news: The British Fantasy Society has announced the short-listed nominees for this year’s BFS Awards, for work published or created during 2006. [via UKSFBookNews]
  • Free fiction: “The Right’s Tough” by Robert J. Sawyer, originally published in the Visions of Liberty anthology. [via Robert J. Sawyer]
  • The film adaptation of Jumper, a young adult novel by Steven Gould, has a website. [via Cinematical]
  • SciFi Scanner lists Five Implausible Sci-Fi Robots. Spot on regarding the AT-ATs.

Filed under: Tidbits

Following up our previous discussion of books we’ve read more than once, I was curious to know what science fiction and fantasy books our readers have not finished.

Here’s my list, along with the reasons why I couldn’t finish them.

  • 253 – The Print Remix by Geoff Ryman – This was more literary experiment than a story. I though the piecemeal ficlets would be so consumable in whatever spare moments I could find that I would whip through this. Sadly, it failed to keep me interested.
  • Blindsight by Peter Watts – I’m not entirely sure why I failed to get into this one. I was just not immersed in the material for some reason. I made it halfway through the book then decided to stop. This was the book, in fact, that led to The 33% Rule of Reading.
  • I read Poul Anderson’s Fire Time and as part of our 1975 Do-Over Reading Project. I though it was slow-moving and I stumbled over the awkward prose. I didn’t even last through the first 33% of this book (which I read before I formulated the rule, so there).
  • Half Past Human by T.J. Bass – Another book that I just couldn’t get into. I had issues with the writing style and the plot logic. People came out in droves to defend the book after I posted this review.
  • Return of the Emperor (Sten) by Chris Bunch and Allan Cole – I was reading these books like I was popping M&M’s and I think at this point I was just burned out.
  • Speaking of overexposure, Spin State by Chris Moriarty was last in line of a series of posthumanism stories I read in quick succession. I had a serious Been-There-Done-That reaction to this one.
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin – I read this long ago, in the pre-Blog Era, and so have no exact recollection of why I stopped reading. But I do seem to remember stumbling over the super-long passages and tiny type of the old paperback copy I had. I’ve since read other LeGuin stories set in the Hainish universe and found them to be much better…so much so that this is one of the much classics I’d love to revisit one day.
  • The Merchants’ War – This one just bored me to tears, which was wholly unexpected after reading the awesome prequel The Space Merchants.

What SF/F books could you not finish? For what reasons?

Filed under: Books

Tuesday YouTube: D-War Trailer

What the world needs more of is more movies in which reptilian monsters roam the city streets. Here’s a trailer for D-War.

[via sneakpeektv]

Filed under: Movies

Tube Bits For 08/07/2007

  • Sylar, on Heroes, turned out to be somewhat of a paper tiger in the finale. But Tim Kring says the new baddies for season 2 will make Sylar look tame by comparison. Let’s hope we get a better finale too. Also, David Anders of Alias fame has been signed for the entire season. He’ll be playing the part of Kensei. Funny, he doesn’t look like a Japanese warlord. Hmm.
  • Not necessarily science fiction, but TV Geekery has a list of 100 sites to watch TV on the web. You may have to install plug-ins to do it though.
  • Want to see the casting sheet for Trek XI? Now you can! Thanks to SciFi Scanner and Ain’t It Cool News for the info.
  • Jericho has started production on season 2. But the cast wants you to know that they have no plans to stop shooting with only 7 episodes. So if you want their plans to come to fruition, you know what to do. But no watching on Tivo!
  • Apparently being the OC with superpowers isn’t enough for Smallville. MeeVee is saying that former Superman Dean Cain will appear on the show as well has former Supergirl Helen Slater. Supergirl? It’s a toss up between that and Superman IV for worst Superman related movie. Yikes.

Filed under: Tube Bits

SF Tidbits for 8/7/07

  • The Colorado Springs Gazette profiles Kevin J. Anderson, author of Slan Hunter, sequel to the A.E. van Vogt book Slan.
  • David Louis Edelman has finished writing MultiReal, the sequel to InfoQuake.
  • SciFi Weekly interviews Neil Gaiman.
  • At Strange Horizons, Adam Roberts reviews Doctor Who Season 3 (with some spoilers for U.S. fans). “Not only is Doctor Who a kids’ show, its great glory inheres in that fact.” [via Big Dumb Object and Nicholas Whyte]
  • Also at Strange Horizons, free fiction from Tim Pratt: “Artifice and Intelligence“.
  • At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Matthew Jarpe, author of Radio Freefall.
  • At the newly-redesigned site SF Novelists, Tobias Buckell asks: “Is the novel dead?” — “The exact form of the novel may change, but the act of writing words in order to create an experience in a reader’s head offers an advantage in fiction you won’t find in movies: the ability to live in someone else’s mind for the duration of a story.”
  • Heavy Reading: The Mathematics Behind Quantum Computing in two parts. [via arsTechnica]
  • Real science: Scientists have discovered a new way of levitating tiny objects – paving the way for future applications in nanotechnology. Cool. Now where’s my jetpack?
  • Deadstock author Jeffrey Thomas is “always a bridesmaid and never a bride”.

Filed under: Tidbits

There have been a lot of mixed reviews for Masters of Science Fiction. I caught the first episode, “A Clean Escape“, and thought it was pretty good. As expected, it reminded me of The Outer Limits episodes of the 90′s. (Sam Egan was involved in both productions.)

In a nutshell, the episode (based on a short story by John Kessel) concerns the meetings between a man (Sam Waterston) who is having memory problems and a psychiatrist (Judy Davis). The acting was top-notch. The story they had to work with – a slowly unwrapped plot that’s pure world building – gave them something to sink their teeth into, and they leveraged it well.

My only complaint with the episode was that it felt a bit too long. They probably could have done it in 30 minutes. There were parts where I tried to move the story along by sheer force of will. That didn’t work, so instead I focused on the world building and the acting; it worked much better then.

I’ll tune in for episode 2 of this limited run series. Or at least my DVR will be tuned in. It isn’t bad enough that ABC is only showing only four of the six episodes, but they also squirreled it away to summertime Saturday nights.

Filed under: TV

REVIEW SUMMARY: 4 standouts + 18 good stories – 6 less-than-stellar = a very good anthology.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Anthology of 28 science fiction stories first published in 2006.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: 22 stories worth reading; 4 of them outstanding.

CONS: 6 stories mediocre or worse.

BOTTOM LINE: Maintains the consistent high quality of previous editions.

The Year’s Best Science Fiction #24 is the sixth edition of this series I’ve read (see SF Signal reviews for editions #19, #20, #21, #22 and #23) and it continues to present a wide range of stories likely to offer something for anyone. Of course, that same strategy may also mean that there are some offerings that are not to taste, but overall this volume maintains a consistently good level of entertainment as compared with previous editions. As usual, editor Gardner Dozois also offers a comprehensive – though not as much as last year – summation of the science fiction landscape and a huge list of reading recommendations.

Even though there were some misses by this reader’s estimation, it must be noted that Dozois has an eye for well-received stories. Several of the ones included here have been chosen by other editors to be in their respective “best of” anthologies. Additionally, some of these stories were nominated for awards. (For more meta-sf Zen, check out SF Scope’s statistics for this edition.)

Of the twenty-eight stories in this volume, twenty-two of them were good or better, with four of those being outstanding. Six stories were of mediocre entertainment value or worse. The four standouts are “Tin Marsh” by Michael Swanwick, “Far As You Can Go” by Greg Van Eekhout, “Dead Men Walking” by Paul J. Mcauley and “Nightingale” by Alastair Reynolds. (Like last year’s edition, Alastair Reynolds grabbed two slots in the table of contents.)

As noted below, nine of the stories contained in this volume have been previously reviewed by me. Also, stories that are available online are linked.

Reviewlettes follow…

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Filed under: Book Review

SF Tidbits for 8/6/07

  • Boston.com has a Q&A with Doris Lessing. “With Shikasta (1979), Lessing branched out into science fiction, occasioning the sort of condemnation from certain quarters that Bob Dylan elicited when he went electric.”
  • New website: Sci-Fi for Women, whose mission is “to provide a place that provides a ‘Gender Trancendent’ view of characters and stories.” Registration required.
  • PS Publishing shows off the new cover of Starship Summer by Eric Brown.
  • Entertainment Weekly issue #947 (August 10, 2007) reviews William Gibson’s Spook Country (Rating: B) and the SCiFi Channel’s Flash Gordon premiere (Rating: C)
  • Orbiting Frog lists The 10 Strangest (Real) Things in Space.

Filed under: Tidbits

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