Charles Tan, proprietor of Bibliophile Stalker (a blog you may recognize from our tidbit posts), contacted JP and me recently about doing an interview. Once our heads deflated a bit, we agreed.
The interview has been posted here: Bibliophile Stalker interviews SF Signal.
The February 2008 issue of Jim Baen’s Universe (Issue #11, also known as Volume 2, Number 5) contains 12 pieces of short fiction and 6 non-fiction articles. Nine of the stories are reviewed below. I did not partake of the classic reprint “Unprofessional” by Rudyard Kipling and two of the three serials: “Fish Story” by Dave Freer, Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis, now in its tenth episode; and ” The Ancient Ones” by David Brin, now in it’s fifth episode. I suspect it would be easier for hesitant readers like me if each episode came with an “Our Story So Far…” intro.
Considering the nine stories I did read, this is another solid issue. I prefer science fiction over fantasy so maybe it’s not surprising that the weakest story for me was a fantasy story. But the good outweighed the bad overall, with the standout stories being David Brin’s “The Smartest Mob” (airships!) and Holly Messinger’s “End of the Line” (Vampires in the Old West!).
Individual story/article reviews follow…
Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.
Thanks to the writers’ strike, shows are on hiatus. Which one do you miss the most?
Of those who even miss any shows, BSG has a huge lead.
Comments this week:
“The Big Bang Theory and House…I know, House is not SF, per se, but it’s really just the only show I care about.” – PeterY
“Just because The Big Bang Theory isn’t remotely close to being realistic or make sense, doesn’t mean it should be in a list of SF&F shows. And Lost just released a couple of episodes, so it would be very hard for people to miss it. I wonder if either of those would get more than 0 votes. :-)” – Yaron
“Pushing Daisies is the freshest show on TV today. I’d really like to see where it goes.” – Michael A. Burstein
“CSI. I am in Iraq though, so I am now just able to see the early episodes of some of this season’s shows. Thanks to spoilers, I know the CSI writers are going to screw up a relationship. For geek cred, I’d like to say BSG, but, once it goes into season break I kind of forget about it until it returns. Some of these other shows I haven’t even seen yet.” – SF Fangirl
“There is nothing SF about The Big Bang Theory, nothing. Not even one thing you can point to and say: “Aha, that is science fiction.” Yet, still I miss it the most. BSG I will watch, and a week or so prior I might get excited but there has been just so much time I have spent waiting that any heat I might have had is just not there anymore. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, but they also say that time heals all wounds (alert, cliche overload). These other shows I just don’t watch that much of to get excited about. Bring on TBBT! So say we all!” – General X
Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about the final 2007 Stoker Award ballot!
The number of episodes remaining keeps getting smaller, but we keep bringing them to you. This time it’s ‘Ariel’, where Simon smuggles River into a hospital to figure out what happened to her.
Ellen Datlow writes in to tell us that the 2007 Stoker Ballot (presented by the Horror Writers Association) has gone final:
SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A NOVEL
- The Guardener’s Tale by Bruce Boston
- Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
- The Missing by Sarah Langan
- The Terror by Dan Simmons
S.M. Duke is undertaking a project that needs your participation: determining social/religious/ethnic biases in SF/F:
What I’m asking is this: For every book you read in the SF or F genre, take a note of which ethnic, religious, social groups are present within a work in a significant way. What this means is if the main character or a significant character is White, Black, or Asian, then write that down. The same applies to religions and significant social groups (feminists, ACLU types, etc.). They must be significant presences, not just a mention. If there is a strong Catholic presence, say so. If you don’t know what religion is present, but there is one, just say unknown…I’d like to address gender too. Mention main characters that are male or female and secondary, but significant characters that are male or female (make them separate to differentiate). This will allow me to gather as much data as I can on this.
Locus Online lists 10 SF/F books with the Most Citations on Year’s Best Books lists:
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
- The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
- The Terror by Dan Simmons
- Brasyl by Ian McDonald
- The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
- Territory by Emma Bull
- Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan
- Acacia by David Anthony Durham
- Bright of the Sky by Kay Kenyon
- Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff
- The Arrival by Shaun Tan
You will note (once again) that JP is the SF Signal reader with the most notable books under his misshapen hat, which means that he is a good prognosticator of well-received books, or I am the Kiss of Death.
Ah, Valentines Day…a time when people can stop and appreciate those they love the most. Or, in the case of geeks like us, a time to think about fictional couples in science fiction…
- Leeloo and Corbin Dallas (The Fifth Element)
The romantic themes of “true love conquers all” is still alive and well in the future. Of course it helps if you fall in love with a hot, scantily-clad, god-like being. Mooltipass indeed. (No we didn’t show a picture of both Leeloo and Corbin — see aforementioned note about “hot, scantily-clad, god-like being”.)
- Fry and Bender (Futurama)
Futurama shows us that metal and flesh can be a great combination. And who said relationships have to be between two humans? Fry always wanted to get with the one-eyed Leela, but he always wound up with Bender. In the end.
- Princess Leia and Han Solo (Star Wars)
Their on-screen chemistry was top notch…especially considering Lucas was suggesting Leia hook up with her brother. Ewww. Harrison Ford’s “I know” ad-lib in The Empire Strikes Back has become the stuff of legend. Geek legend, to be sure, but legend nonetheless.
- John Perry and Jane Sagan (The Last Colony by John Scalzi)
Scalzi’s old-guy-in-young-man’s-body protagonist John Perry is quick to quip and immediately likable. It’s almost enough to be jealous of his independent wife, Jane, who gets to have him…jealous in a non-touching man-love sort of way. Jane can hold her own against any adversary. Together they support and respect each other in a picture-perfect relationship that manages to stay realistic.
- Zoe and Wash (Firefly/Serenity)
Tough female characters are hot, and I don’t mean “all the rage”. The fact that this one falls for the class clown fulfills the fantasies of every geek who thinks he’s funny, which is to say, every geek. Those archetypes would be enough, but throw in Joss Whedon’s dialogue and you have a ménage a tois of brilliance.
- R2D2 and C3PO (Star Wars)
Laurel and Hardy, Fred and Ginger, Roy and Trigger. You can’t think of one without the other. For SF fans, you can’t think of R2 without thinking of C3PO. They’re like a bickering couple that’s been together forever, but can’t live apart. They just happen to be robots. And I think we all know who wears the pants in this relationship. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
It’s Valentines Day, which means the first Kingdom of the Crystal Skull trailer has been released. See it in its full glory below:
Sweet momma! I got tingles when the main theme started up about half way in. And yes, I’m a fanboy. I am so there on opening day. I wonder if the wife would think this is a good anniversary movie…
The folks over at Spectrum – a group devoted to showcasing fantasy, science fiction, and horror artwork – have posted their thoughts on the Best Artists Hugo award:
Benefits to artist-winners…are a bit more nebulous. Perhaps part of the reason is that, unlike the fiction categories, the Best Artist Hugo has never been for a specific work: there’s never a singular piece you can point to and say “that’s the winner.” Though it could be argued that the Best Editor Hugo is similarly non-specific, it’s also just as fair to point out that it’s not the same either: an artist is a creator on par with the writers, responsible for producing original works. Editors fulfill many valuable and laudable functions – but they’re not creating content.
So the generic “body-of-work” nature of the Best Artist Hugo often has led to votes being cast for familiar names, not particular covers or illustrations.
The Hugo shouldn’t be a “nice guy” award, presented because this artist or that was “so friendly” when encountered at a convention: it should be for the work.
Good points. There’s no reason why individual works of visual art should not be held at the same level as that of written art.
When we asked Mike Resnick if he would like to participate in this week’s Mind Meld on short fiction, he graciously offered to respond to past questions as well. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: From your point of view, how has the proliferation of online book reviews affected the publishing world?
Mike Resnick: Very little. They certainly haven’t affected print runs or distribution, and I doubt that they’ve had anywhere near as much effect on sales as the self-proclaimed cognoscenti think they have.
Q: How has the internet impacted your ability to sell books and what impact do you see it having in the future?
MR: It’s made instant contact and feedback with editors — especially foreign editors — incredibly easy, and it has presented endless new ways of marketing your books, both to editors/publishers and thereafter to readers/buyers. And it’s only going to become a more important tool in the future.
Q: 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?
MR: Can’t answer this. I gave up watching network series 25 years ago, and to this day I have managed not to feel culturally deprived.
Q: Everyone knows the “Old Guard” definitions of science fiction. As part of the “New Guard,” how would you define science fiction?