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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SF Tidbits for 2/14/08

TOC: Dreaming Again edited by Jack Dann

Here is the table of contents of the upcoming Australian sf anthology Dreaming Again edited by Jack Dann and due out in September:

  1. “Old Friends” by Garth Nix
  2. “A Guided Tour In the Kingdom of the Dead” by Richard Harland
  3. “This Is My Blood” by Ben Francisco and Chris Lynch
  4. “Nightship” by Kim Westwood
  5. “The Fooly” by Terry Dowling
  6. “Neverland Blues” by Adam Brown
  7. “The Jacaranda Wife” by A. G. Slatter
  8. “The Constant Past” by Sean McMullen
  9. “The Forest” by Kim Wilkins
  10. “Robots & Zombies, Inc.” by Lucy Sussex
  11. “This Way to the Exit” by Sara Douglass
  12. “Grimes and the Gaijin Daimyo” by A. Bertram Chandler
  13. “Lure” by Paul Collins
  14. “The Empire” by Simon Brown
  15. “Lakeside” by Christopher Green
  16. “Trolls’ Night Out” by Jenny Blackford
  17. “The Rest Is Silence” by Aaron Sterns
  18. “Smoking, Waiting For the Dawn” by Jason Nahrung
  19. “The Lanes Of Camberwell” by Cecilia Dart-Thornton
  20. “Lost Arts” by Stephen Dedman
  21. “Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh” by Jason Fischer
  22. “Europa” by Cecily Scutt
  23. “Riding On the Q-ball” by Rosaleen Love
  24. “In From the Snow” by Lee Battersby
  25. “The Lost Property Room” by Trudi Canavan
  26. “Heere Be Monsters” by John Birmingham
  27. “Purgatory” by Rowena Cory Daniells
  28. “Manannan’s Children” by Russell Blackford
  29. “The Fifth Star In the Southern Cross” by Margo Lanagan
  30. “Twilight In Caeli-Amur” by Rjurik Davidson
  31. “Paradise Design’d” by Janeen Webb
  32. “The New Deal” by Trent Jamieson
  33. “The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga” by Peter M. Ball
  34. “Conquist” by Dirk Strasser
  35. “Perchance To Dream” by Isobelle Carmody

5 Creepy Spider Movies

Kevin Maher serves up another cool episode of the Sci Fi Department, this time, listing 5 Classics of SciFi Cinema. Bonus points awarded for the inclusion of the William Shatner vehicle, Kingdom of the Spiders, because we all love William Shatner. Well, most of us.

Tube Bits for 02/13/2008

  • Popular Mechanics looks at the lightning induced helicopter crash from last week’s episode of LOST and determines: Totally couldn’t happen. I know! Ubelievable! Tune in each Friday for Popular Mechanic’s LOST watch, where experts weigh in on the Sci Fi vs. Reality on the show. (Notice how PopMech subtly describes LOST as science fiction)
  • We know that many TV shows are shot in Vancouver, and with the strike now over, shows are staffing up again, but it will take some time to get back in the full swing. Galactica‘s production office has started adding staff. It’s only a matter of time until the last episodes are shot. Unfortunately, Vancouver’s economic hit was an estimated $100 millions dollars (as it’s a Canadian newspaper, I’m assuming that means Canadian dollars).
  • ABC has picked up 9 shows for next season. Of interest to genre fans, this includes LOST (duh) and Pushing Daisies (yay!).
  • Wondering when Galactica‘s final episodes will air, now that they are staffing up to shoot them (see above)? Buddy TV wonders the same thing. As it turns out, the writer’s strike may give Sci Fi the reason to follow through with their previously rumored decision: to split season 4 in half, and air the last 10 in 2009. The bastages.
  • The Extra Life comic strip brings us little known downsides of the writer’s strike. Thank goodness it’s over! The horror!

MIND MELD: What Purpose Does Short Fiction Serve?

I’m an avid fan of short fiction for many reasons, so a Mind Meld question about short fiction seemed to be in order. Trying to skirt around the futility of the “short fiction is dying” rhetoric (though learning something about that in the process) I asked a handful of Editors, some of them authors as well, to comment on the purpose of short fiction. The responses reaffirm my belief that short fiction can be every bit as entertaining – if not more so – than novel length stories…

Q: Despite the cries of the ever-impending death of short fiction, it’s still thriving. But what purpose does short fiction truly serve to writers and readers?

Here are the responses…feel free to chime in.

Gardner Dozois
Gardner Dozois was the editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine for twenty years, and is still the editor of the annual The Year’s Best Science Fiction anthology series. He’s the author or editor of over a hundred books, has won fifteen Hugo Awards for his editing, and two Nebula Awards and a Sidewise Award for his own writing.

For readers, short fiction provides a lot more stuff to READ–and it’s still where the majority of readers find new writers whose work they enjoy. It’s easier to invest a half-hour or less in reading something by a writer you may end up not liking than it is to invest days reading a novel. Cheaper, too. If a reader finds a writer he really responds to, whether in a magazine or in a Best of the Year collection, the first thing they usually do is to go out and look more work by that author; SF is a very name-oriented field. Eventually, they may end up ordering novels by those writers, if they have novels–but it was short fiction that set the hook. For writers, short fiction is still the easiest way to break into print, especially in an era where many publishing houses no longer read their slush piles at all, turning novel manuscripts around in the mail room without any editor ever getting a look at them. Because the turnover is high, short fiction markets, whether e-zines or traditional print magazines, need to be continually finding good new writers, which means that they actually have to READ their slush piles, as opposed to just “dealing with” them. Even today, the best way to break in and establish a professional reputation is to write and sell lots of strong short fiction. The book editors keep an eye on what’s happening in the short-story market, and once a buzz begins to generate among short-fiction readers about the work of a particular author, they frequently then swoop in and offer that writer novel contracts–which may make them too busy to write short fiction, which is why you need the constant turnover. (There are writers who continue to make time to write short fiction even when they could be making more money writing novels, though, simply because they LOVE writing it.) Charles Stross is a good example. He wrote several novels that he was totally unable to sell, but after he started selling a lot of short fiction to markets like Asimov’s and Interzone, and it started generating a lot of buzz among readers, novel editors swooped down on him, and he’s not only sold a number of novels since, he’s retroactively sold many of the ones he’d written before and was unable to sell.

It’s also easier to get away with radical experimentation in short fiction than it is in the novel market, too, which is one reason why some writers continue to write it even after they’re established enough to sell novels instead. It’s a lot less risky, and expensive, for a magazine editor to take a chance publishing an experimental story in a magazine, where if the audience doesn’t like it, they’ve still got five or six other stories to read and not feel cheated, than it is to publish an experimental novel, where there’s a LOT more money at risk if it should fail.

Since these arguments apply just as well to the online world as they do to the print world, I don’t see any of this changing dramatically anytime soon.

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Clone Wars Coming To Theaters

LucasFilm animation is releasing Star Wars: Clone Wars in theaters August 15th. The computer animated film takes place between episodes II and III (or as I like to call them “sand” and “lava”). Sez USA Today:

Director Dave Filoni says the film delves into the wartime exploits of Anakin Skywalker, who later becomes Darth Vader, and his mentor/friend Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s about “the mission they are sent on, which brings them together as a mentor and student.”

Following the film in the fall is a new TV series that, Filoni says, “looks at the larger scope of the war and covers many characters and cultures.”

The TV series, set to show on the Cartoon Network and TNT, should not be confused with the short Clone cartoon clips shown earlier on CN. Some episodes even delve into the lives of the cloned warriors, who previously seemed interchangeable. As the live-action prequels revealed, the clones are reproductions of the bounty hunter Jango Fett, father of fan-favorite Boba Fett, himself a clone of his “father.”

“We have the chance to do an episode just about the clones and explore their personalities, which may be more unique than a lot of fans think,” Filoni says. “We also have the chance to use the many different Jedi, who we’ve only glimpsed in the features, which is exciting.”

StarWars.com has a video preview and behind-the-scenes look at the computer animated film, featuring Supervising Director Dave Filon.

[via USA Today]

TOC: Science Fiction: The Best of the Year (2008 Edition) edited by Rich Horton

Rich Horton has finalized the table of contents for his annual science fiction anthology…

Science Fiction: The Best of the Year: 2008 Edition

  1. “Dark Integers” by Greg Egan
  2. “A Plain Tale From Our Hills” by Bruce Sterling
  3. “An Eye for an Eye” by Charles Coleman Finlay
  4. “Always” by Karen Joy Fowler
  5. “An Ocean is a Snowflake, Four Billion Miles Away” by John Barnes
  6. “Virus Changes Skin” by Ekaterina Sedia
  7. “Wikiworld” by Paul Di Filippo
  8. “Artifice and Intelligence” by Tim Pratt
  9. “Jesus Christ, Reanimator” by Ken MacLeod
  10. “Night Calls” by Robert Reed
  11. “Everyone Bleeds Through” by Jack Skillingstead
  12. “Art of War” by Nancy Kress
  13. “Three Days of Rain” by Holly Phillips
  14. “Brain Raid” by Alexander Jablokov
  15. “For Solo Cello, Op. 12″ by Mary Robinette Kowal
  16. “Perfect Violet” by Will McIntosh
  17. “Vectoring” by Geoffrey Landis
  18. “The Skysailor’s Tale” by Michael Swanwick

TOC: Fantasy: The Best of the Year (2008 Edition) edited by Rich Horton

Rich Horton has finalized the table of contents for his annual fantasy anthology…

Fantasy: The Best of the Year: 2008 Edition

  1. “Unpossible” by Daryl Gregory
  2. “Light” by Kelly Link
  3. “The Teashop” by Zoran Zivkovic
  4. “The Rope” by Noreen Doyle
  5. “Buttons” by William Alexander
  6. “Brother of the Moon” by Holly Phillips
  7. “A Diorama of the Infernal Regions” by Andy Duncan
  8. “Heartstrung” by Rachel Swirsky
  9. “Something in the Mermaid Way” by Carrie Laben
  10. “Public Safety” by Matthew Johnson
  11. “Stray” by Benjamin Rosenbaum and David Ackert
  12. “The Comb” by Marly Youmans
  13. “Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go to War Again” by Garth Nix
  14. “The Last Worders” by Karen Joy Fowler
  15. “Singing of Mount Abora” by Theodora Goss
  16. “Save Me Plz” by David Barr Kirtley
  17. “Bufo Rex” by Erik Amundsen
  18. “The Master Miller’s Tale” by Ian R. MacLeod
  19. “The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairy Tale of Economics” by Daniel Abraham

Wednesday YouTube: Robot Commando!

Here’s a 1960’s television commercial for Robot Commando, a voice-activated robot that “takes orders from no one…except you!”

[via Laughing Squid, who has a couple more 1960’s Sci-Fi Toy Commercials]

SF Tidbits for 2/13/08

February 14th To Be Renamed ‘IJ 4′ Day

That’s because, on February 14th, the new Indiana Jones trailer will debut. First, it will air on Good Morning America (WTF?) between 8am and 9am, and thereafter, it will be available on the official web site as well as appear in theaters.

And what movie would be opening on February 14th that you might want to go see? Why, Jumper of course! Indy, Anakin and Mace Windu, what could be better? Go see it just for the trailer. Take your SO with you, just so you all won’t have ‘bad dates‘.

And to keep the excitement going, The Deadbolt has this cool article about the Indiana Jones 4 scripts that weren’t. They look at all the proposed scripts for the movie that were rejected for one reason or another. Of course, that doesn’t mean that ideas from them didn’t carry forward to the current movie, so proceed at your own risk.

Now, if you’ll excuse, I must go hum the Raiders and annoy my co-workers.

Can You Name This Story?

Despite the awesome reputations we’ve built up as science fiction gurus with a less-than-healthy appetite for supermodel posts, we do not know everything there is to know about science fiction. Occasionally we get email from folks desperately looking – they’d have to be to contact us – to remember the title of some mostly-forgotten story. We usually redirect them to sites that are more effective for this sort of thing (like the Asimov’s forum or MetaFilter) and send them on their merry way.

This time, I thought that we would additionally throw the questions out to our knowledgeable readers. (That’s you.)

Here’s a description we recently received:

Howdy! Help me remember a series of books I read in maybe 1975. They take place on another planet – or perhaps a moon? The whole society lives in the tops of enormous trees. I think there was something about green in the title. I don’t remember the author or the title. I remember loving them, and I want to find them again. They were probably written in the ’50s or ’60s.
- Roger W.

Can you name this story?

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