SF Signal is listed a SciFi Weekly’s Site of the Week! Way cool!

This sits well with our mention in SciFi Magazine earlier this year. And by “sits well with” I mean “also strokes our over-inflated egos”. And by “our” I mean “mine”. :)

If this is your first time here, welcome! If you are into RSS feeds, we offer them for posts and comments. But be sure to check out other stuff you might be missing.

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SF Tidbits for 10/17/06

Filed under: Tidbits

MOVIE REVIEW: The Wicker Man (1974)

REVIEW SUMMARY: A cult (art-house?) horror story of pagan god worship.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A police officer is called to a remote island west of Scotland to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. During his investigation, he finds that the island’s inhabitants worship the pagan gods of the sun and earth, and that the May Day celebration (and sacrifice?) is just days away.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: October is horror-movie month for me. This year’s line-up included the likes of Scanners, Kill Baby Kill and Sleepy Hollow. Since I’d never seen the original film The Wicker Man, I also added that to my list, and am so glad that I did. While not so much a horror story as it is mystery and suspense, this movie really delivers.

The story in short is that a police officer from the mainland, Sgt. Howie (Edward Woodward) gets called to investigate the disappearance of a young girl from a remote island west of Scotland. The inhabitants all worship the gods of the earth and sun, and Howie, a devout Christian, is offended by the open sexuality exhibited by the community. It is even taught to the youngest children in school! The May Day celebration is fast approaching, and Sgt. Howie thinks that the girl may be in danger of begin sacrificed if he doesn’t find her first. But curiously, no one even knows who she is, or who reported her missing.

Christopher Lee plays Lord Summerisle, the grandson of the man who originally founded the island, and seems to be orchestrating the bizarre behavior of the residents.

In 1979, the Wicker Man won the Saturn Award for best horror film. There is considerable nudity in the movie, so you’ll definitely not want to watch the film with children present.

Filed under: Movies

REVIEW SUMMARY: Another fun read from Scalzi.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Harry Creek must prevent an interstellar war by providing a sheep to an alien race.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Immersive; clear writing style; well-executed humor; highly entertaining.

CONS: Somewhat slow beginning.

BOTTOM LINE: Fans of Scalzi’s previous work won’t be disappointed.

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Elric Books Reprinted with Extras

Michael Moorcock announced that Del Rey will be reprinting his Elric books with some nice extras:

From next year, at three month intervals, Del Rey books will be publishing trade paperback editions of the Elric books. They will be done more or less in the order in which they were published and will be illustrated by some of the best artists currently at work. The first one will be done by my good friend John Picacio, whose first professional book illustrating job was the Mojo edition of Behold the Man (and who also illustrated Tales from the Texas Woods, also for Mojo) and will include the original stories from The Stealer of Souls and Stormbringer, as well as other material, plus a new introduction and explanatory material. They will be published in much the same style and format as Del Rey’s Conan editions. I can’t remember if I have already announced this, but thought I’d better mention it now just in case I hadn’t! The books will include short stories from the world of the Young Kingdoms and other stories as they originally appeared in Science Fantasy magazine, including “To Rescue Tanelorn” and so on. Scripts, early illustrations and so on will also be included in the volumes.

[via Chris Roberson]

Filed under: Books

LeGuin on Miyazaki’s Earthsea Adaptation

The New York Times has a profile on Goro Miyazaki, the son of the anime master Hayao Miyazaki, and his upcoming film Tales From Earthsea which based on Ursula K. LeGuin’s books. LeGuin is quoted in the artcile, giving her thoughts on the new adaptation:

As a teenager Mr. Miyazaki read the “Earthsea” books, and he originally planned to make a faithful interpretation. “But as I continued on the project, I realized that adapting the story exactly was not really what I should do,” he said. “In order for me to speak to younger audiences, some changes had to be made because of the gap between when the book was written and when I made the film. I feel that metropolitan culture is becoming a dead end and there’s nowhere to go. I can’t just shout, ‘Return to nature,’ but we need to rethink how we can live in cities yet remain close to nature.”

Ms. Le Guin offered a balanced response, saying: “I thought the moral lectures in the film were spoken eloquently. In fact they were often quoted pretty directly from the books. But I didn’t see how the action of the film justified them. They felt pasted on to me. I did not understand why Arren stabs his father, nor how and why he earned redemption.”

She added: “I very much liked the scenes of plowing, drawing water, stabling the animals and so on, which give the film an earthy and practical calmness, a wise change of pace from constant conflict and action. In them, at least, I recognized my Earthsea.”

[via Locus Online]

Filed under: Movies

POLL RESULTS: Favorite TV Robot

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Which of these is your favorite fictional robot from television?

RESULTS

(92 total votes)

I liked the voter turnout, but it appears that a large majority of voters take an unhealthy liking to alcohol-swilling, gambling, smartmouth, thieving robots. My kinda people… :)

This concludes the semi-finals in the search for our favorite robot. We now have our favorite robots from literature, movies and now television. Be sure to vote in this week’s poll where we declare The Supreme Robot the top 6 winners of these polls face off in our Robot Smackdown! (Note: No robots were actually harmed in the making of this poll.)

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REVIEW: The World of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Gilbert is playing a game where the winner gets a chance to either lead the planet Earth or migrate to the utopia of Venus. Unfortunately for him, he soon realizes his memories are invalid and he’s just a pawn apparently working to battle current leaders and an array of shadowy puppeteers.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Excellent breadth of thinking, strong presentation of ideas

CONS: Dated in some ways (colonization of Venus, for example)

BOTTOM LINE: One of the better sci-fi works written.

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SF Tidbits for 10/15/06

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Neil Gaiman Interviews

You want Neil Gaiman interviews? We got your Neil Gaiman interviews right here!

A few Gaiman interviews have appeared in the last week. Here are 4 of them (two first we’ve mentioned previously):

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 10/13/06

Filed under: Tidbits

Isaac Asimov’s Probe

Speaking of Isaac Asimov’s Probe (HEL-lo!), wouldn’t you know you can watch the 2-hour premiere episode of Probe on YouTube? (We love you YouTube!) It has been uploaded in 5-minute pieces. Start with part 1 and follow the “related” links for the other parts.

What is Probe, you say? From the Asimov FAQ:

Asimov was credited as adviser and co-creator of this television series, which lasted for a 2-hour pilot and six 1-hour episodes on ABC in 1988 before a writer’s strike came along and ended the series. It starred Parker Stevenson as brilliant young scientist Austin James, who owned his own high-tech think tank consulting firm, and used his scientific expertise to solve baffling crimes as a sort of modern day Sherlock Holmes.

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 10/12/06

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: Forbidden Planets edited by Marvin Kaye

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Anthology of six original novellas exploring the theme of dangerous planets.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Five stories good or better.

CONS: One mediocre story

BOTTOM LINE: A very good collection of stories.

Forbidden Planets, edited by Marvin Kaye and published by The Science Fiction Book Club, offers six original novellas that play with the theme of dangerous worlds to varying degrees. (I might mention here that Allen M. Steele cheats a little by setting his story on a not-quite-forbidden colony world, but his transgression can be forgiven as his story is quite enjoyable.) It still surprises me how, given a similar theme, different writers can come up with stories so varied in content and wonder. (See also other original SFBC titles as Between Worlds, Down These Dark Spaceways and One Million A.D. as well as Space Soldiers and Armageddons.) I suppose it shouldn’t be so astonishing given the broad theme that tends to unite anthology stories; nonetheless I remain pleasantly surprised. There are no retreads here.

There’s not a single bad story in the whole bunch, although I did find one story to be hovering within the region of mediocrity. The two standout stories were “JQ211F, And Holding” by Nancy Kress and “Kaminsky at War” by Jack McDevitt. Three of the stories were set in already existing universes which were either nice to revisit (in the case of the Steele’s Coyote and Reed’s Marrow universes) or experience for the first time (Foster’s Commonwealth universe).

Reviewlettes of the stories follow.

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SF Tidbits for 10/11/06

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UPDATED: Science Fiction as Entertainment

There’s a really, really interesting thread going on. It’s quite long – and far from over, I suspect – but worth the read, comments included.

First, Lou Anders (see SF Signal interview) wrote another awesome and honest post, Getting Medieval on Reality’s Ass, in which he talks about why movies are worthy of critical analysis, the prime component of fiction (entertainment) and how Star Trek and science fiction changed the world.

Ian McDonald (author of the fantabulous River of Gods) responds to Lou’s post with his own, These fictions that sustain us, in which he agrees with Lou to a point, but also thinks it’s about more than entertainment. (He also has issues with a related Asimov’s article Barbarian Confessions by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.)

Finally (for now) Lou responds again with Getting Even More Medieval in which he reiterates: “Quality and popularity need not be mutually exclusive”.

UPDATE: And now John Scalzi weighs in against the assumption that Star Wars is entertainment, which he claims is false. Says Scalzi:

“Star Wars is not entertainment. Star Wars is George Lucas masturbating to a picture of Joseph Campbell and conning billions of people into watching the money shot.”

Filed under: BooksMovies

SF Tidbits for 10/10/06

Filed under: Tidbits

After just three episodes of Heroes (two and a half, actually, as I missed part of the premiere) I have to say that I’ve never, ever been simultaneously so intrigued and so annoyed at the same show – intrigued by the premise and the unrecognized potential; annoyed because the way some things play out are so freakin’ stupid and unrealistic (as much as a show about people with supernatural powers can be) that I physically must leave the area surrounding the television or risk being engulfed in a fit of rage that would wake the neighbors.

Here, then, are 5 things that annoy me about Heroes. They all boil down to choices made by the writer(s) that sacrifice realism for some purported sense of drama, but instead play out like an insult to anyone who is paying attention.

*** SPOILER WARNING: The rest of this post is made up entirely of spoilers.

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Filed under: Heroes

SF Tidbits for 10/9/06

Filed under: Tidbits

POLL RESULTS: Online Reviews

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Do you have a problem with online reviews? If so, what is the worst problem with them?

RESULTS

(70 total votes)

On the administration side, the bad news is that the old poll site was down for most of the time. The good news is that we are now hosting our own polls (yay us) and have greater control over the polls.

The results: 52% of respondents have no problem with online reviews, 30% do, while 17% don’t read them at all. Taken another way, of the respondents who read online reviews, about 64% have no problem with reviews while 36% have some problem with them.

Following recent polls on your favorite robots from literature and movies…Be sure to vote in this week’s poll on your favorite fictional robot from television! ANd then, be sure to tune in for our Favoprite Robot Smackdown!

Filed under: Polls

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