REVIEW SUMMARY: Nothing new for fans of post-apocalyptic sf, but a very good read nonetheless.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A father and his young son travel a post-apocalyptic landscape.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Well-drawn, dark atmosphere; compelling story; characters you root for; a great sf gateway novel.

CONS: While the lack of survivors paints a more hopeless picture, it means a lost opportunity to provide an even richer setting.

BOTTOM LINE: Appeals to both mainstream and sf readers.

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Filed under: Book Review

SF Tidbits for 6/4/07

Filed under: Tidbits

POLL RESULTS: What We Thought Of Heroes, Season 1

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
How would you rate season one of Heroes?

RESULTS

(134 total votes)

Some comments this week:

“This is one of “my shows,” yet when I think about it, I have to rate it at just “Good.” I have to ask those giving it the top rating, why do you consider it one of the best shows ever?” – A_Z

“There are some issues (good), but given the tv landscape these days Heroes gets a Very good vote from me.” – Kristen

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about the end of Battlestar Galactica!

Filed under: Polls

You may not know it, but the end of the world happens in 10 days… So says Steve Wilson at the webcomic My Elves are Different:

  • Blog Like It’s the End of the World (BLITEOTW) will take place on 13 June. That’s not any particular notable day or anniversary, except for the unlucky number.
  • The idea is that your posting for that day is written as if a zombie uprising were taking place around the world, including your home town.
  • You blog about how it’s effecting you, what you might witness, rumors or news that you hear, and so on.
  • Because it’s taking place worldwide almost simultaneously, it’s obviously a Romero-style zombiegeddon, where all the recently dead rise up, and are able to infect the living. (As opposed to a 28 Days Later-style plague).
  • If you’d like to participate, let Steve know in the post comments and he’ll post a link on his page. Otherwise on the day you can check Technorati for posts tagged ‘zombies’. Also: tag or label your blog posts ‘zombies’ so people can find them.
  • It’s a collaborative event, so the more you comment on other people’s posts, link to them from your blog, spread rumors and riff on ideas, the better!

If things seem wonky here on June 13th – wonkier than usual – that’d be because we’re participating. After all, who doesn’t love a good zombie uprising?

Filed under: Events

Best SF Presents…

Mark Watson’s Best SF is one of the longest running short fiction review sites and this month, he’s branching out.

Best SF Presents aims to make short stories available online that showcase the best the genre has to offer. There’s no set schedule, but expect a new story – primarily science fiction – every month or so.

In Mark’s words:

I’m aiming to get a mix of old and new stories, from established and up and coming authors. First up is “The Last Reef” by Gareth L Powell, which appeared in Interzone #206 Jan/Feb 2006.

Gareth L Powell’s “The Last Reef” was long listed for a BSFA award, and came sixth in the Interzone Reader’s Poll for best short story of 2006. He’s got a collection and a novel appearing in 2008, and he’s a regular blogger. Co-incidentally, another story of his, “Six Lights Off Green Scar” has just appeared on the InfinityPlus website.

I have to admit that Best SF is the site that prompted me, when I review short fiction myself, to review each story individually. Not only does it allow me to remember each story more than a one-off description would (or worse, no description at all), but it also allows me to lazily cut-and-paste what I wrote before for reuse when a story appears in multiple anthologies.

Filed under: Web Sites

SF Tidbits for 6/3/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Top 10 SF Signal Posts for May 2007

As per Google Analytics, here are The Top 10 SF Signal Posts for May 2007:

  1. Heroes Spinoff: Origins
  2. The 7 Coolest Scenes In Science Fiction Film And Television
  3. Quick Thoughts on the Heroes Season 1 Finale
  4. FireflyFans.net
  5. Can You Name These Science Fiction Films?
  6. REVIEW: Helix by Eric Brown
  7. WINNERS: Analog/Asimov’s Readers’ Award
  8. Do You Like Wonder Woman?
  9. Major Changes at the Science Fiction Book Club
  10. Hilarious! Conan Visits Lucas’ ILM

Looking at the top overall hits, while ignoring those listed above, we get these stats for older posts that were popular in May…

  1. Solve Rubik’s Cube
  2. SF/F Writers Who Blog
  3. Top 10 Star Wars Spoofs
  4. Spiderman 2
  5. POLL: Hottest SciFi/Fantasy Babe NOT of Yesteryear
  6. REVIEW: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  7. Here’s a shocker… (The Klausner Post)
  8. REVIEW: Eldest by Christopher Paolini
  9. Forklift Safety Video
  10. Foundation: The Movie

Filed under: Meta

Recycled from a past tidbit…until YouTube pulls it again.

Filed under: Humor

Battlestar Galactica will end after season 4.

I stopped watching BSG last year, so I don’t know if the show ever came out of the doldrums that chased me away.

Is this unexpected? Does anyone still think, as I once did, that BSG is the best show currently on TV?

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 6/1/07

Filed under: Tidbits

NOMINEES: 2007 John W. Campbell Memorial Award

Sniff…sniff… Smells like award season.

The nominees for the 2007 John W. Campbell Memorial Award, celebrating the best SF novel published in the US, are:

  • Titan by Ben Bova (Tor)
  • A Small and Remarkable Life by Nick DiChario (Robert J. Sawyer Books)
  • Infoquake by David Louis Edelman (Pyr) [see SF Signal review]
  • Nova Swing by M. John Harrison (Gollancz)
  • Odyssey by Jack McDevitt (Ace)
  • The Last Witchfinder by James Morrow (William Morrow)
  • Living Next Door to the God of Love by Justina Robson (Tor)
  • Dry by Barbara Sapergia (Coteau Books)
  • Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder (Tor) [see SF Signal review]
  • Glasshouse by Charles Stross (Ace)
  • Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge (Tor) [see SF Signal review]
  • Farthing by Jo Walton (Tor)
  • Blindsight by Peter Watts (Tor) [see SF Signal review]

See also: Past winners.

[via SF Scope]

Filed under: Awards

Speed Racer’s Mach 5

All you Speed Racer fanboys can commence drooling (let me get my handkerchief). USA Today has a first look at the Mach 5 that will be used in the upcoming Speed Racer movie.

I confess, I watched Speed every afternoon after school. My most favorite Hot Wheels car was my Mach 5. I even have the first two issues of the Speed Racer comic released by Wildstorm in 1999. Yes, I like Speed Racer. I mean, who doesn’t like a giant truck made out of solid gold? Just think of the power needed to move that!

I had heard there was a movie in the works, but knowing the Wachowski brothers were directing gave me some pause. Although Speed Racer will be a family film, producer Joel Silver says:

And it will have great effects like the Matrix, just with the car.

Plus, most of the car effects will be done with CGI and the model you see above will be in a wire-fu setup. Please, please, please don’t screw this up. There’s a lot of possibilities with the car, just think about those retractable saw blades, but how much will they tone it down?

As if the Mach 5 isn’t enough, the last sentence is:

“They’re using a real monkey,” Hirsch says. “Just don’t call him that. He’s a chimpanzee. He gets upset if you call him a monkey.”

A real chimpanzee. Sweet. I’m almost convinced to be there in the theaters. But I still have doubts. Check out the cast: Emile Hirsch (who?) as Speed, Christina Ricci (Wednesday Adams?!) as Trixie and Matthew Fox (Jack! He got off the island! But did his dad?) as Racer X.

But dang, that is one cool looking car. Maybe Detroit ought to make those for mass market consumption.

Filed under: TV

Caption Challenge #1: Star Wars Edition

I saw this picture over on Viscious Imagery and felt nothing screamed for a caption challenge like it did. Sure John offers a challenge where you can wrack your brains trying to figure out movies from some clues, but here I offer folks the ability to demonstrate their intelligence and humor and make some wry commentary about images pulled from the internet.

My goal is to try to do this somewhat regularly, but in the meantime enjoy…

Filed under: Star Wars

Harry Potter Land

Just when you thought Pottermania would finally die down after the release of the last book, come word that Warner Bros. and Universal will be opening a Harry Potter theme park in Orlando sometime during 2009. That’s right, a Potter theme park. As if seven books and seven movies isn’t enough, the llPotter cash cow will continue in the land of oranges and sunshine.

I’d assume that there will be a Hogwarts Castle a la Cinderella’s Castle at Disneyworld, and at least one rollercoaster will be themed to match Harry’s broomstick (either the Nimrod 2000 or the Rollercoaster of Puking, take your pick). I’m sure there will also be a Hogmeads food area and Quidditch field (pitch?). I’d like to be able to throw bludgers at animatronic Potters, that would be cool. I’m sure there are tons of things they will do.

But will people actually go? I’d say there will be an initial crush as people check out what the park is like, but to be successful long term, it will have to offer something more than just all Potter, all the time. Like rides, good ones, and lots of them. But then again, if the Lumos 2006 is any indication, there are already some over obsessive fans. Harry Potter pr0n? Yes, Potter slash fiction. Really. Let’s hope none of that makes it into the theme park. After all, the characters are kids for crying out loud. WTH?

So back on topic, I’m not sure whether to wish Warner Bros., Universal and Rowling success in their next money grubbing endeavor or not. I’m sure Rowling thinks it’ll be fun, and it could be. I’m just not sure how long lasting a Potter-themed park will be. I guess we’ll find out starting in two years.

Update: Alright, with more information coming in, via MuggleNet, I officially tone down my initial skepticism. It seems that The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter will be a themed area within Universal Studios Orlando. Aside from the areas mentioned at the website, no real word on what kind of attractions we can expect to see. But to stay in my curmudgeon role: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Is ‘wizarding’ even a word? Doesn’t really ro of the tongue does it?

Filed under: Books

In this L.A. Weekly News piece, Ray Bradbury says that the masses misunderstood the meaning behind his classic novel Fahrenheit 451:

Fahrenheit 451 is not, he says firmly, a story about government censorship. Nor was it a response to Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose investigations had already instilled fear and stifled the creativity of thousands.

Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.

Bardbury’s website offers a page of video clips, including one called “Bradbury on Censorship/Television” in which he describes the book’s real meaning.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 5/31/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: Recursion by Tony Ballantyne

REVIEW SUMMARY: Steadily improving work that delivers some interesting ideas.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In 2210 a young man decides to defy the galactic authority and creates a Von Neumann Machine (VNM) capable of terraforming an entire planet. Unfortunately his programming is a shoddy and he ends up destroying the planet instead. He’s caught, and then ends up in a massive web of intrigue involving 200 year old plots to deal with rogue AIs released into the galaxy.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Very interesting ideas around the hazards of AIs and self-replicating machinery.

CONS: Writing starts out weak, characters end up thinner than they initially appear.

BOTTOM LINE: I found myself quite put off by Recursion when I first started it, but by the end I was cheering the author for his interesting use of technology and some of the grand ideas of science fiction.

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Filed under: Book Review

OK, a week old but you know you love it…

[via OnOurTV]

Filed under: Heroes

SF Tidbits for 5/30/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Is Serious Sci-Fi Dying?

PopMatters ponders The Death of Serious Science Fiction:

[Science Fiction has] been dominated for decades by a single storytelling dynamic. Instead of reaching for intelligence and stretching the boundaries of imagination, it decides to take hoary old clichés, lots of narrative formula, and one man’s F/X laced legacy, and completely rewrite the rules of acceptability. Where once the speculative spectacle questioned the existence of man within the cosmos, today it’s all Westerns with robots.

In the last four decades (leaving everything before the ’60s out of the equation for the moment) there have only been eight serious sci-fi triumphs—movies that readily define what one means by a thought provoking, inventive approach to speculative subject matter. In conjunction with the equally important TV triumphs of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and The Star Trek Saga (including all recent TV incarnations), this influential octet – Planet of the Apes, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Soylent Green, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Brazil, Dark City, The Matrix, and most recently, Children of Men – represent real attempts to address the category’s myriad of issues and possibilities. Scattered among this collective are intriguing also-rans like Silent Running, Solaris, Blade Runner, Gattaca and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. While some may argue for a missing favorite—Alien, The Fifth Element, I, Robot—there is a significant reasons why these movies fall outside this discussion, primary among them, their lack of an inherent allegorical nature.

[via Big Dumb Object]

Filed under: Movies

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