Dumbledore’s Venn Diagram

By the ingenious blog, Indexed.

Filed under: Humor

Friday YouTube: Zombies in Plain English

“Remember…zombies don’t eat candy…only brains.”

[via OpticalPopitude]

Filed under: Humor

SF Tidbits for 10/26/07

  • Orbit Books has posted the first chapter of Devices and Desires by K.J. Parker.
  • At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Kristine Smith, author of Endgame, the latest and final book in the series that began with Code of Conduct.
  • Stanislaw Lem calls Philip K. Dick A Visionary Among the Charlatans: “…fans are attracted by the worst in Dick–the typical dash of American SF, reaching to the stars, and the headlong pace of action moving from one surprise to the next–but they hold it against him that, instead of unraveling puzzles, he leaves the reader at the end on the battlefield, enveloped in the aura of a mystery as grotesque as it is strange.”
  • Locus Online has excerpts from Locus magazine’s October Issue interviews with Bruce Sterling (“These days I’m like a gypsy scholar figure.”) and Walter Jon Williams (“SF has changed dramatically in the last half-century.”)
  • The Guardian Book Blog has an appreciation of J.G. Ballard. “To put it simply: Ballard understands that modernity has left us to our own basal needs – and we’re not coping too well.”
  • Jed Hartman is talking about anti-technological sf. “I’m sometimes surprised by how often sf stories are all about the evils of technology, and how much better unmodified humans are than technologically aided humans.”
  • Anyone else getting stoked over the new I Am Legend trailer? I loved the book and although this seems to differ greatly from that, the core concept is there. And it looks cool.
  • New at ThinkGeek: Battling Remote Control Daleks!
  • Star Wars humor: Optical Popitude points us to a deleted dinner scene from The Empire Strikes Back.

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 10/26/2007

  • If you’re a Stargate: Atlantis or Eureka fan, SciFi has renewed both shows for another full season. Since I’m a Eureka fan, I’m happy.
  • If you’re a Pushing Daisies fan, then ABC has ordered a full season! I watched the pilot and thought it was pretty good, but the best part was Jim Dale as the narrator. Yes, the same Jim Dale who narrates the Harry Potter audiobooks. I’m a fanboy.
  • Good news for SF fans, especially Pete, Sci Fi Channel and WWE have agreed to extend ECW through 2008! That is truly a SF story if there ever was one.
  • Coming summer 2008 to SciFi Channel, it’s Warehouse 13, from Farscape Rockne O’Bannon. Billed as part X-Files, part Raiders and part Moonlighting. Which begs the question: Which part of Moonlighting? The cool detective story part or the mushy mushy, Mark Harmon parts? Anyway, this actually sounds cool. Hopefully, there will be no muppets.
  • In a move that really confuses me, MOJO TV is now the exclusive cable HD home of Heroes re-runs. Starting Nov. 1st, MOJO will air that week’s episode at 8pm EST. In case you missed it on NBC’s HD feed, you can turn to the wildly ‘popular’ MOJO network. I’m thinking Heroes gets more torrent downloads each week than MOJO has viewers. Who’s going to turn into MOJO for this?
  • Cinemax has announced a SF movie of the week series, called DCV Chronicles. DCV is the story of 5 aliens who crash to Earth in 1863 and how they have influenced humanity’s development since then. Sounds Dark Sky-ish to me, minus the conspiracy overtones. Could be interesting, but as I don’t get Cinemax, I won’t be able to see it ‘live’, whenever it starts to air.

Filed under: Tube Bits

According to SyFy Portal, Sci Fi’s mini-movie Razor will be coming to the big screen, but only if you live in “one of the largest cities in the nation”. Let’s see: NY? Check. LA? Check. Chicago? Check. Houston?

Screwed.

First we’re hosed over on the book signing train, now Sci Fi screws us when it comes to showing Razor on the big screen. Perhaps they don’t realize Houston is the 4th largest city in the U.S.? Perhaps they don’t realize Houston has a very cool group SF blog who would love to go see the movie? And we’re skipped over for Dallas??

Hey Sci Fi, the 80’s called, they want J.R. back, and they don’t even care who shot him. If you want to see if Razor will be in your city, you can go the special screening website, starting tomorrow, Oct. 26th and register for tickets. Thanks Sci Fi for giving us even more reason to hate on you.

But on more positive news, the special showing is sponsored by the Xbox 360 and the sure to be a massive hit science fiction game: Mass Effect. The 360 and Mass Effect, two great tastes that taste great together!

Filed under: Battlestar GalacticaTV

SF Tidbits for 10/25/07

  • SFX interviews Andy Remic (War Machine). “War Machine is a sizzling rollercoaster of a novel with a gratuitous excess of violence, sex, dark humour and exotic aliens all wrapped up in a high-octane cling-film plot concerning an elite military unit illegally reformed who must battle across alien planets to discover justice, truth and revenge.”
  • Amazon Daily has part 1 of a talks with hot, new fantasy authors Joe Abercrombie (The Blade Itself), Karen Miller (The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage), Brian Ruckley (Winterbirth), and Brandon Sanderson (The Final Empire and Well of Ascension). “There is so much of this genre that hasn’t been explored yet, and it’s thrilling to be part of the new wave of fantasy writers.”
  • James Patrick Kelly is podcasting his novel Look Into the Sun. Here’s Part 32.
  • New/Updated at Gutenberg: “Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas” by R.A. Lafferty and “The Creature from Cleveland Depths” by Fritz Leiber.
  • New/Updated at ManyBooks.net: “The Big Bounce” by Walter Tevis.
  • John C. Wright offers us the first chapter of Null-A Continuum.
  • Bloginhood covers VCon32/Canvention27, where the Aurora Awards were handed out.
  • SciFiChick lists 13 Lame Superpowers.
  • Bad news for Pete: The remake of Barbarella, has been shelved. [via Fimoculous]
  • Good news for Pete: Tricia Helfer posts some images from Spike TV’s 2007 Scream Awards. Check her out hangin’ with The Shat

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 10/24/2007

  • Things aren’t looking good for NBC’s Monday night lineup. Chuck, Heroes and Journeymen all continue their downward rating trend, with Heroes pulling in a series low 4.9. Ouch. I know Heroes is no longer on my ‘watch when it airs (or after the kids are in bed)’ list.
  • Could the looming writers strike bring Galactica to network TV? It can’t do much worse than some of NBC’s shows on Mondays….
  • If you watch Discovery, you’ve no doubt seen Man vs. Wild and you’ve seen how Discovery runs their YouSpoof Discovery campaign. Well, Tee Morris takes the challenge and gives us: Man Vs. Child. Heh heh. Good job.
  • Jonathan Frakes harshes a bit on the Enterprise series finale, calling it “ill fated”. Most of the rest of us called it ‘stupid’. But I think he understates things when he calls Insurrection uneven. I think it rivals Star Trek V in ‘unevenness’.

Filed under: Tube Bits

Wednesday YouTube: Darth Vader in Love

Who knew Vader was so bad with women?

[via SciFi Scanner]

Filed under: Star Wars

Jeff VanderMeer has posted the table of contents of the Steampunk anthology he edited with his wife, Ann. The anthologhy is due to be published in May 2008.

  1. “Preface” by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer
  2. “Introduction: The Nineteenth Century Roots of Steampunk” by Jess Nevins
  3. “Steampunk in Pop Culture” by Rick Klaw
  4. “Steampunk in the Comics” by Bill Baker
  5. “Benediction: Warlord of the Air” excerpt, Michael Moorcock
  6. “Lord Kelvin’s Machine” by James Blaylock
  7. “The Giving Mouth” by Ian MacLeod
  8. “A Sun in the Attic” by Mary Gentle
  9. “The God-Clown Is Near” by Jay Lake
  10. “The Steam Man of the Prairie and the Dark Rider Get Down” by Joe Lansdale
  11. “The Selene Gardening Society” by Molly Brown
  12. “Seventy-Two Letters” by Ted Chiang
  13. “The Martian Agent: An Interplanetary Romance” by Michael Chabon
  14. “Victoria” by Paul Di Filippo
  15. “Reflected Light” by Rachel E. Pollack
  16. “Minutes of the Last Meeting” by Stepan Chapman
  17. “Excerpt from the Third and Last Volume of the Tribes of the Pacific Coast” by Neal Stephenson

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 10/24/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Authors You’ll Buy Sight Unseen

The other day John sent me an email to the effect of, “Alastair Reynolds has a new novel coming out, House of Suns…”, no doubt to taunt me with more Reynolds goodness. This got me to thinking: Reynolds is one author whose books I would buy regardless of storyline or critical reception. Iain Banks is another. I eagerly anticipate tearing into Matter when it comes out. Sadly, those are the only two who come immediately to mind.

Back in the day that wasn’t the case. There were several authors who I would buy whenever I saw a new book of theirs. Gregory Benford, David Brin, Iain Banks, Neil Stephenson and Dan Simmons. Of these, only Banks has held his place in my book acquiring. All the others have fallen off for one reason or another. That doesn’t mean I won’t read them, just that I’ll investigate a title more before I get it.

The question before you now is this: Which authors do you like so much that you’ll buy any book of theirs, regardless?

For those of you who must know why the above mentioned authors aren’t on my list any more, read on:

Benford – His concluding books to the Galactic Center series weren’t as good as the early ones. Different in tone and much less ‘cohesive’.

Brin – Again, his ‘concluding’ novels in the Uplift series were somewhat disappointing. Still good, just not up to par with Startide Rising and he apparently doesn’t want us to know what happens to the Streaker.

Stephenson – Like many, Snowcrash got me hooked on Stephenson. It took awhile for Diamond Age to grow on my, but it did, and I think Cryptonomicon is his best novel. I was eagerly looking forward to The Baroque Cycle, but, while admiring the sheer amount of information in it, I found Quicksilver to be overly long and I haven’t made an effort to read any of the others. Heck, we went to Austin to see him at a booksigning even.

Simmons – I really like his Hyperion Canton, even the later books. So I really dug into his Illium and Olympos novels. However, while full of really cool stuff, they didn’t really cover much new ground and did so in a form that could have used 100 or so less pages, each. Simmons is really on the fence, I might pick up his next SF book.

Filed under: Books

REVIEW: Mad About Star Wars by Jonathan Bresman

REVIEW SUMMARY: Remember those jokes that you thought were so funny as a kid? Turns out they’re not as funny as you remembered.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A compendium of the major Star Wars-related parodies from MAD magazine.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Fine artwork; nostalgic value; lots of interesting trivia; some of the bits are honestly funny.

CONS: Most of the humor is juvenile and falls painfully flat.

BOTTOM LINE: Don’t go into this, like I did, expecting laugh-out-loud moments.

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Book Review

SF Mag Circulation Declining

Warren Ellis looks at the sad state of science fiction magazines. Cory Doctorow responds with potential solutions:

If I were running the mags, I’d pick a bunch of sfnal bloggers and offer them advance looks at the mag, get them to vote on a favorite story to blog and put it online the week before the issue hits the stands. I’d podcast a second story, and run excerpts from the remaining stories in podcast. I’d get Evo Terra to interview the author of a third story for The Dragon Page. I’d make every issue of every magazine into an event that thousands of people talked about, sending them to the bookstores to demand copies — and I’d offer commissions, bonuses, and recognition to bloggers who sold super-cheap-ass subscriptions to the print editions.

Sure it’s lot of work, and a huge shift in the way the mags do business. But hell, how many more years’ worth of 13 percent declines can the magazines hack?

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 10/23/07

Filed under: Tidbits

EW Reviews SF/F

Issue #961 (October 26, 2007) of Entertainment Weekly offers some brief reviews of science fiction and fantasy books.

Here’s a snippet…

Nova Swing by M. John Harrison

For Fans of… A noirish, Bukowskian Matrix.

Lowdown: Harrison’s futuristic universe feels both foreign and eerily familiar. Despite his out-there imagination, he never overlooks his characters’ humanity.

Grade: A-

In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne Valente

For Fans of… Smart, surrealistic fairy tales steepen in Arabian Nights lore and the gnarled fables of Hans Christian Andersen.

Lowdown: The dense imagery and heavy use of metaphor can overwhelm, but the overall effect is intoxicating.

Grade: B+

Devices and Desires by K.J. Parker

For Fans of… Provocative Hard SF.

Lowdown: Parker’s intricately plotted and meticulously detailed book – the first in a projected trilogy – moves as deliberately and precisely as an antique watch.

Grade: B

Halting State by Charles Stross

For Fans of… Neuromancer and Scottish noir.

Lowdown: Three separate, second-person story lines make for more confusion than necessary. But the richly drawn characters, imaginative use of virtual and enhanced reality, and the genuine plot surprises more than repay the effort of keeping up.

Grade: B+

Filed under: Books

Tube Bits For 10/23/2007

  • The Anime Blog reviews the new Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex- The Laughing Man DVD. As GitS is one of my top 10 SF anime series, I’ll have to pick this one up. And, since I’ve never seen it, Solid State Society as well. And I have to agree with Rachel, GitS is one of the best ‘near future’ SF settings, ever.
  • The Idaho Statesman profiles 21-year old Lance Meenach. Lance is an avid SF fanatic, who is attempting to find and restore missing episodes of old SF TV shows, particularly Dr. Who. It seems the BBC back in the day was, well, cavalier about archiving their shows. Something to do with saving money. Ah, the joys of working for a state run network in the ’60s.
  • AnimeYourLife has a short article supposedly telling how Battlestar Galactica saved science fiction. However, the article really doesn’t make that point at all. Indeed, you could say that: 1. SF didn’t need saving, and if it did, the original BG wasn’t the show to do it; 2. SF on TV today isn’t overtly SF, especially on network TV, so you can’t say the new BG is responsible for that either. The SF shows we do have nowadays is a result of LOST‘s success, not BG’s.
  • Andrew at Carry You Away reviews the soundtrack for season 3 of Battlestar Galactica. As much as I like the show, I’ve never really been a big fan of the music. I’d be hard pressed to hum a few bars of anything other than the opening. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
  • I saw an commercial for NBC’s new show, Phenomenon, recently and thought, “Uri Geller? Isn’t he dead?” No, no he isn’t and now he’s starring with Criss Angel in this new ‘reality’ show, trying to find the next great mentalist. I’d say ‘first great mentalist’, but that’s just me. How about a ‘reality’ show where people vie to make the next great TV show pilot? That I might watch.

Filed under: Tube Bits

Free Fiction from Forbes

Forbes magazine (!) recently asked five authors to tackle this scenario:

“It’s the year 2027, and the world is undergoing a global financial crisis. The scene is an American workplace.”

Here are the responses:

  • Abstract” by Michael Bagnulo: “This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a ‘posthuman’ stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.”
  • Springtide” by Max Barry: “‘This is it, baby,’ he said, easing his hands inside her shirt. ‘End of the world.'”
  • Other People’s Money” by Cory Doctorow: “Gretl’s stall in the dead WalMart off the I-5 in Pico Rivera was not the busiest spot in the place, but that was how she liked it.”
  • The Position” by Warren Ellis: “‘We can’t possibly send that man on to the floor of the Stock Exchange. He’s got no clothes on.'”
  • Factory” by Lowell Yaeger: “I got my pink slip last week. It wasn’t pink, but bright orange, and it didn’t say anything but to report to my supervisor at the end of the shift.”

[via secritcrush]

Filed under: Free Fiction

SF Tidbits for 10/22/07

Filed under: Tidbits

POLL RESULTS: The Death of the Used Bookstore

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Do you think the used bookstore is dying?

RESULTS

(116 total votes)

Several comments this week:

“Trawling through used bookstores used to be lots of fun. The first SF I was able to read were my elder brother picked up from a UBS. And who could not love the Strand in NYC? However, as bookselling on the internet has risen, and the interest in reading in general declined, I’ve noticed the slow decline of used bookstores. I was even bitten by the death of a UBS. A UBS my friends and I favored here first moved to a spot miles away from its former, close, location, and then quickly folded. I lost a fair amount of store credit, and a source of reading pleasure.” – Paul

“They are the Goodwill store for the reader. As long as people buy books there will always be a place to turn them in and pick up new ones…” – Bryan

“The used bookstores that adopt new methods (e.g., joining in ABEBooks, finding new ways of reaching clients) will survive. Others will fail. Just as it always has been, there will be turnover.” – Fred Kiesche

“I learned to read at age 3. Some of my happiest childhood memories are going to a used bookstore with my family, and finding “buried treasure” at the back of the store. I visit my local used bookstore as often as I can. I’ve completed my collections of Agatha Christie, Ed McBain, John D. McDonald and Star Trek: TOS pro novels and more. I think the world without used bookstore will just be colder.” – Morjana Coffman

“Although the used bookstore as a brick-and-mortar shop is dying, the existence of the Internet has allowed us to find used books that used to take much longer to locate. It’s a balancing act; I’ll miss the thrill of the in-store browse, but when I can find a specific book I know I want with a few mouse clicks, it seems a fair tradeoff.” – Michael A. Burstein

“Used bookstores will never die, but I am seeing more stores who sell new and used books. These are my favorites and the first ones I got to when I want a book.” – Rachel

“Most of the used bookstores will close, but not all. The same for the new bookstores.” – Carles G.

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about the books of Doris Lessing!

Filed under: Polls

Science Fiction and Heart of Darkness

Jim Van Pelt shares the outline of a speech he in planning to make at the Colorado Readers Conference. The speech, entitled Science Fiction and Heart of Darkness, explains what makes science fiction tick. He uses Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as a bridge to explain science fiction to the non-sf crowd.

There are lots of great sf-defining comments he makes…here’s the final money quote:

Science fiction explores humanity, what it is and what it might be. It also tells me that the world I live in isn’t the only one there is. When the universe feels small, science fiction tells me it’s not. When life has the bland taste of the mundane, science fiction brings to me a sense of wonder. Sometimes the wonder is dark. Sometimes the wonder is light. Sometimes the wonder cautions, or criticizes or satirizes or humors or frightens or thrills. It doesn’t matter, as long as I remember that the key word in it all is “wonder.”

I find the use of the word “mundane” kinda humorous in light of the the recent flap with (Capital “M”) Mundane sf, but that’s just me.

Filed under: Books

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