SF Tidbits for 2/19/08

Bibliophile Stalker Interviews…Us!

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.

REVIEW: Jim Baen’s Universe #11


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…

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SF Tidbits for 2/18/08

Tube Bits for 02/18/2008

  • Bla Blah! Tech wonders how close are we to Star Trek technology? The answers may surprise you.
  • If any of our readers attend Harvey Mudd College, this is just for you. The commencement speaker for this year will be none other than Bill Nye! Sing it with me: Bill Nye the science guy! (Bill! Bill! Bill!) I’m not sure how I’d feel about this, but apparently he has spoken before to great success. I guess we don’t have to wonder what Bill is up to anymore.
  • Paul Levinson’s latest podcast is up. This time he’s discussing science fiction in the new golden age of television. The podcast is available at the link.
  • Can’t keep up with all the latest SF show news? TwinCities.com has you covered. Nothing really new here, although it is interesting to see what, ostensibly, non-sf fans think is news.
  • You’ve probably heard of a little show called LOST, but did you ever wonder how J.J. Abrams came up with the idea? Well, the guys over at Lost Casts discovered the following short film that is apparently the inspiration behind the TV show. It’s titles, appropriately enough, Lost.

POLL RESULTS: TV Shows We Miss Because of the Writers’ Strike

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?


(110 total votes)

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!

Sunday Cinema: Firefly – “Ariel”

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.


SF Tidbits for 2/17/08

SF Tidbits for 2/16/08

Final 2007 Stoker Ballot

Ellen Datlow writes in to tell us that the 2007 Stoker Ballot (presented by the Horror Writers Association) has gone final:


  • The Guardener’s Tale by Bruce Boston
  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  • The Missing by Sarah Langan
  • The Terror by Dan Simmons

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Attention All SF/F Book Reviewers!

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.

Tube Bits For 02/15/2008

  • The Deadbolt has some comments by Matthew Fox on the upcoming Speed Racer movie. Anyone else have this on their ‘to see’ list?
  • Staying with Speed Racer, Gizmodo gives us this really cool Race-A-Round Sound Helmet. Now you can look like Speed! But that’s not all, check out these awesome Dark Knight and Speed Racer toys. For me? Give me the original Batmobile and then all the Speed cars. Thanks.
  • The new Knight Rider debuts this Sunday (set your DVRs!), and now you can see what KITT’s interior looks like. There is also a link there to a few minutes from the actual movie. I have to say, I was not impressed with Val Kilmer as the voice of KITT.
  • The Misfits of Sci-Fi bring us: Sci-fi’s most engrossing shows. I’m not sure I’d cast Buffy or Twin Peaks as science fiction. They should replace them with something else.
  • In case you were wondering, it looks like the Galactica season 4 DVDs will be, again, split into two sets, both with 10 episodes each, and both costing upwards of $45. Way to let greed get in the way of a good series, Sci Fi.

Friday YouTube: Space 1999 Intro

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10 SF/F books with the Most Citations on “Best Books of 2007″ Lists

Locus Online lists 10 SF/F books with the Most Citations on Year’s Best Books lists:

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  2. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
  3. The Terror by Dan Simmons
  4. Brasyl by Ian McDonald
  5. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  6. Territory by Emma Bull
  7. Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan
  8. Acacia by David Anthony Durham
  9. Bright of the Sky by Kay Kenyon
  10. Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff
  11. 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.

SF Tidbits for 2/15/08

Top Couples in Science Fiction

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…

  1. 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”.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Teaser Trailer

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…

I do.

Spectrum Has Issues with the Best Artist Hugo

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.

Tube Bits for 02/14/2008

  • Ruthie Kelly of The Daily Aztec (the independent student newspaper of San Diego State University) explains why TV has lost its appeal. The big reason: the lack of compelling, strong female characters. Except in science fiction, which, apparently is a problem because it makes the women ‘unbelievable’. As opposed to anything on TV which is believable. So why, again, are strong female characters in SF shows a bad thing?
  • Pat Molloy has a very interesting essay detailing why the technology of Star Trek should be updated for the new movie. I tend to agree. Just look at the ‘technology’ of the original series. Yeah, it needs to be updated. Sorry traditionalists, the ’60’s look just doesn’t cut it in the 21st Century.
  • ABC is jacking with LOST‘s time slot yet again. The last 4 episodes of this season will start in late April and will move to the 10pm slot on Thursdays, right after Grey’s Anatomy. And as a reminder, instead of 16 episodes this season, as originally planned, thanks to the lovely writer’s strike, there will only be 13.
  • This entry is for John, as it covers his favorite TV related item: ratings! Seems the strike managed to hit some networks harder than others. ABC and CBS lost a few million viewers, NBC barely lost any of the tens of people who watch their shows, while Fox actually added viewers (thanks Simon!). LOST placed seventh with 15.3 million viewers (take that Heroes!).
  • Did you know that Jericho returned to the small screen this past Tuesday? If you didn’t, you’re not alone. Jericho pulled in a paltry 4.2 rating/7 share. I guess CBS ordering only 7 episodes was a good move, as was the creators filming an ending to the series in addition to shooting the normal season finale.

Mind Meld Make-Up Test with Mike Resnick

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?

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