SF Tidbits for 10/11/06

Filed under: Tidbits

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.

Read the rest of this entry

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

SF Tidbits for 10/8/06

Filed under: Tidbits

R.I.P. Wilson Tucker

SF Author (The Year of the Quiet Sun) and Science Fiction Hall of Fame inductee Wilson “Bob” Tucker has passed away.

Filed under: Books

SciFi Wire is reporting that their reality show, Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, is not only getting an second season, but an expanded one at that:

The second season, which is slated to air next summer, will expand from six to 10 one-hour episodes.

WTF? I admit to being mesmerized to the first episode, even though I knew it to be quite lame. I revelled in its lameness, you might say. However, thanks to Tim, I quickly put the kaibosh on that particlar method of self-torture. I was waiting for someone to talk me back to the land of common sense and he did. Thanks, Tim! The funny thing is, Tim picked it up right where I left off. He was hooked. Now, if only he can get mail sent to him addressed to “Who Wants To Be A Superhero Enthusiast”, that’ll be a Major Victory.

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 10/7/06

Filed under: Tidbits

Shat Hosts a Game Show

William Shatner will be hosting a game show. No, really.

William Shatner will host “Show Me the Money,” a new game show series for ABC.

Contestants answer trivia questions for the chance to win millions while also facing the risk of losing everything they have accumulated. ABC has ordered seven one-hour episodes.

Show Me the Money? Bo-ring.

If I were going to have the William Shatner host my game show – and I realize the chances of that are really, really tiny – I’d use one of these show titles:

  • Shattack!
  • Shat ‘Til You Drop!
  • Name That Shat!
  • Shattletales!
  • Shat Game P.M.!
  • Shat Wants to be a Millionaire!
  • Dancing with the Shat!
  • Shat Factor!

As you can see, any game show with William Shatner as host deserves nothing less than an exclamation point. And as part of the opening sequence, I’d use the crazy-eyed Shatner picture you see above.

Filed under: TV

The Return of the Poll!

BlogPoll has been down for more than a week. I’ve had to take drastic measures. And by “drastic” I mean “programming geek-like”.

We are now using the poll feature of our new web host. This means that the current poll is working again. I filled in the poll values as best as I remember them.

So, if you haven’t already voted in our poll about Online Reviews, you can do so from the SF Signal front page .

Filed under: Polls

SF Tidbits for 10/6/06

Filed under: Tidbits

Thoughts On The New SF(ish) TV Season

I’ve been watching some of the new, and returning, SF-ish shows on TV and I thought I’d post my thoughts so far. This was inspired by John’s Eureka post, but also follows up on my previous SF on TV post. Note that half of the TV shows in that post haven’t aired yet which is why I won’t be covering them and I will be covering some returning shows too.

On with the shows!

  • Eureka – I like Eureka quite a bit because it’s silly, goofy and eccentric. Sure it has a lot of technobabble and the plots may not be original, but its the characters that keep me coming back. Jack Carter seems to act like any one of us (the management!) at SF Signal would act in the same circumstances. In fact, I see Tim as the sheriff, I don’t know why. I’ll keep watching, at least until they have some snot-nosed teenager save the day every other episode.
  • Heroes – I’m really liking Heroes especially after the dark turn of events in the second episode. As of right now, this is not a campy, people-in-tights show. It has ‘real’ people having to deal with obtaining special powers and with those trying to hunt them down. There is, of course, the obligatory conspiracy, but we don’t have enough info to figure out what is going on or who is behind everything. This one reminds me a lot of the Rising Stars comics. If you’ve missed the latest episode, you can download it from the Heroes website or iTunes. In addition, there is a nice companion site run by the people behind the show called 9th Wonders. So far, this is the keeper of the new shows on TV.
  • Jericho – I’m not too sure about Jericho. The premise sounds interesting, but the last two shows haven’t really been that great. I found the second episode to be totally unbelievable given the short amount of time involved, and the third one I’m on the fence over because I haven’t finished watching it yet. There also appears to be a conspiracy here too, as tanks have been reported racing towards Denver, one of the new residents of Jericho seems to have a small arsenal of M-16s and other military gear stashed away in a rental warehouse (and he seems to know alot about nuclear bombs and radiation, hmm), and Jake himself possible knows more than he has let on. The mystery of the bombings is intriguing, but once that is solved, is there enough here to keep coming back for? I’m not sure. If they keep producing unbelievable situations for the characters, then I’m out.
  • LOST – It’s back for a third season, and still has me hooked. This season is supposed to be about the Others and what they are doing on the island. It’s about freaking time. Supposedly the first six episodes will be more character oriented, then a 13-week! break, and the final 16 episodes will be about the island’s mysteries. Hopefully they won’t drop the ball in the first 6 episodes, although last night’s was pretty good. It gives you just enough to want to come back for more.
  • Battlestar Galactica - Do I even need to say anymore? I don’t think so. My DVR is already set to record this Friday’s episode. I know some of you think BG has jumped the shark. I disagree. It’s definitely gone in a different direction than expected, and that’s a good thing. I’m still interested in the characters and Moore has already said <Spoiler for Tim!>that they will leave New Caprica after about six episodes</SFT!>. I’m still in for the long haul on this one.

I haven’t seen Six Degrees yet, and I’m not sure I want to, although the first episode is available from ABC. So, I’ve gone from two must-watch shows (LOST and BG) to four (add Heroes and Eureka), with one (Jericho) on probation. All of them, with the exception of Jericho, seem to be doing well with audiences too, which bodes well for more seasons. Now I just have to cram two, or three, more shows into my exceedingly rare spare time…

Update: Fixed 9th Wonders link.

Filed under: TV

Just a reminder that the new season of BG starts this Friday.

If you are really into the show and want to enjoy it with others, perhaps you can find a fellow fan through Frak Party. Or not.

More for BG fans: TheTyee.ca article Why Smart People Love Battlestar Galactica which gets input from Scott Ian (lead guitar player for Anthrax), Madeline Stanionis (Internet advocacy and fundraising consultant, and organizer of Frak Party), Kris Krug (president of Bryght, builder of online communities and social software) and Dawn Buie (director of web technology at TheTyee.ca).

Filed under: TV

Nothing says “no new content” like a butt-load of links to elsewhere. :)

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: Darth Bane, Path of Destruction by Drew Kapryshyn

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A man from a mining colony on the galactic rim learns that his uncanny premonitions are more than just luck and, after a bad fight with some Republic navy officers, escapes to join the Sith. And it is there he learns his true calling…

MY REVIEW:

PROS: The transition of Darth Bane through the book really shows him growing in power and understanding of the dark side. No namby pamby Skywalkers.

CONS: One scene near the end just didn’t feel necessary to me.

BOTTOM LINE: Finally, a novel about the dark side that starts to tell more about the dark side, and its a great Star Wars book.

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Book Review

Eureka: Season 1 Impressions

I watched the Season 1 finale of Eureka last night. Since I posted my initial impressions, I thought I’d give my final impressions of Season 1, too.

I still like the premise of and I’m glad the story arcs didn’t become the focus of the show, although I have to admit to leaning the other way now; “The Consortium” thread was left annoyingly unexplained. Is this another Blue Sun à la Firefly?

I’m digging the Northern Exposure feel of the small town and the characters within it were likable, even if the cast sometimes felt heavy. It kept occurring to me that maybe they didn’t need all those characters when some of them (like Taggert – who I will forever think of as Max Headroom Guy) appeared with no involvement whatsoever in that week’s story. The will-they-or-won’t-they storyline between Jack and Allison is so Sam & Diane. Who cares? For some reason, I like the character of Fargo, I think because I find it humorous that he provides the effeminate voice for Carter’s automated house. I laugh whenever the house talks. The Stark character annoys me, not because he plays the antagonist or the jealous soon-to-be-ex husband (which actually provides some drama), but because of the way the actor plays him devoid of any emotion whatsoever.

The real science, alas, is not as prominent as I had hoped when I earlier compared it to the short-lived series Probe. Instead, the science is weakly explained if it is explained at all. This is a lost opportunity in my opinion but hey, I’m speaking as a science fiction fan. I suspect that they want a larger audience and want to make it more accessible so they don’t want to scare off the sci-fi hatahs, despite being on the SciFi Channel.

Last night’s finale (Spoiler Warning!) included the apparently requisite time travel theme, though there was a paradoxical question left unresolved. Now that Henry knows Jack came back to stop him, why didn’t he just use the device to stop Jack? And, are we to assume that the future that saw Jack and Allison together means they eventually will end up together? That takes the mystique out of the will-they-or-won’t-they storyline, doesn’t it? (End Spoiler Warning.)

All in all, though flawed, the show is fun, though not as good as I had hoped. Some episodes were better than others, some were flat-out weak. There were only a scant 12 episodes in Season 1 but it apparently did well enough to get renewed for another season. I wouldn’t call Eureka must-see, but I like it well enough (especially in the dearth of decent TV scifi) to catch a show every now and then as a run-of-the-mill diversion.

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 10/4/06

Filed under: Tidbits

This is part B of this challenge, see the first part here. This time, please list your three favorite Science Fiction settings as seen on TV or on film. Rules are similar to the first part, but please limit yourself to those settings that were first seen in a visual medium. For instance, Star Wars is in, Dune the movie, not so much, in fact, no. And no fantasy. You have been warned.

At the end of this week, I’ll tally up the votes then we will have a poll (as soon as the poll is fixed) to see what is the SF Signal Reader’s Choice for coolest TV/Film setting. Then we’ll have a poll for coolest written setting, then the final smackdown between the two winners to decide what is the coolest SF setting overall. I can’t promise we’ll be speedy here, but I will promise it will happen, even if I have to kill John to do so…

My list:

  • Star Wars – yeah, I like SW. At least I don’t receive credit card offers addressed to ‘Star Wars Enthusiast’…
  • Babylon 5 – I’d love to work for IPX, as long as I don’t have to explore long dead Shadow worlds.
  • Star Trek – just about any of the eras, but later is probably better. Sign me up for the exploration part.

Ok, so they’re conventional picks, I agree. But I still like them. Now show me all the cool settings I missed (or forgot)!

Filed under: Meta

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