Tube Bits for 02/07/2008

  • Great news for all you TekWar fans! Image Entertainment is planning on an American release of the series based on William Shatner’s novels of the same name. It starred Greg Evigan of BJ and the Bear fame (that may date me, but I don’t care) as Jake Cardigan, who is fighting to end the advance of the drug ‘Tek’. It will retail for $40. Stay tuned for more exciting information!
  • The Mattress Police have created a script for the parody film Terminator vs. Highlander – The Sarah Connor McLeod Chronicles. I think you’ll be amused.
  • Neatorama has a couple of really cool LEGO productions for us today. First is this incredible Predator head made from LEGOs. Awesome. And then there is this really sweet set of Futurama characters. LEGO really ought to look into sets for the Predator series, think LEGO Arnie, and Futurama. Those would rule.
  • Apparently, according to the SciFiBlog, the pilot script for J.J. Abrams’ new TV series, Fringe, has been leaked on the innertubes. Potential spoilers there, BTW, if this is, in fact true. And if it is, ack.
  • Off The Pink offers us 5 Things LOST Can Teach Us About Storytelling. I have to agree with everything here.
  • And finally, Buddy TV brings us the What Is Your Fate On LOST quiz. You may wonder what my fate is. I’m glad you asked:

    What do I win?

SF Tidbits for 2/7/08

MIND MELD: The Literature Of Ideas

Today we’re focusing on science fictional ideas. The ones that capture our imagination and fire the sense of wonder that drives us to read science fiction. Things like psychohistory, or the Culture, or Rama. There’s plenty more. We asked several authors about these ideas, but with, as you’ll see, a twist.

Science fiction has been called “the literature of ideas”. Focusing on the ‘ideas’ part, what science fictional idea do you wish you had written first?

An ‘idea’ here meaning a character, setting, piece of technology or anything else that fired your imagination and, possibly, made you a bit envious that you didn’t think of it first.

A little professional jealousy isn’t a bad thing, right?

Tobias Buckell
Tobias S. Buckell is a Caribbean-born speculative fiction writer who grew up in Grenada, the British Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He has published stories in various magazines and anthologies.

I kind of wish I’d been the guy to think up the idea of a giant ringworld, like Larry Niven, because if that was the case I’d been on the phone with every press outlet I could find saying ‘hey, they ripped off my really cool idea.’ I wouldn’t sue them or anything, but what a great platform that would be for talking about your own idea! Halo is totally an incredible world that every Xbox player recognizes, any attempt to reach out to those players would be a lot of fun. Plus, then you’d be able to frag bad guys in a video game that looks like it crawled out of something you wrote. How cool would that be? I think it’d be pretty cool.

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Artist Jim Murray

Here are 4 reasons why you should visit the website of artist Jim Murray.

[via Irene @ The Art Department]

Live On Stage…It’s Star Trek: The Music!

No, it’s not a live production of The Star Trek Jukebox…

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra sets out to capture new ears with their performance of Star Trek: The Music, a concert featuring music from the shows and movies and also featuring appearances by television stars John de Lancie and Robert Picardo:

That maestro of pops, Erich Kunzel of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, will be here as guest conductor, leading the TSO, as he did three years earlier for the world premiere of the Star Wars Concert.

Helping the musicians along will be two veteran Star Trek actors – John de Lancie (Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation, also Deep Space Nine and Voyager) and Robert Picardo (The Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager) – appearing onstage as co-hosts.

Here’s one event that will not include tunes by Mozart, Bach, Beethoven or Brahms – or any other revered, long-dead Europeans. Instead, under Kunzel’s baton, the orchestra will perform some of Star Trek‘s most notable music, including Alexander Courage’s theme from the original TV series.

The TSO will also play Emmy Award-winner Jerry Goldsmith’s opening theme for Star Trek: Voyager, the Klingon battle theme and the opening music from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Other composers whose work will be heard include Cliff Eidelman (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country), Leonard Roseman (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), Dennis McCarthy (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and James Horner (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan).

[via Torontoist via Derryl Murphy]

SF Tidbits for 2/6/08

RIP: Barry Morse

Sad news:

Actor Barry Morse, who played a detective pursuing the wrongly accused Dr. Richard Kimble in 1960s TV series The Fugitive, has died, his son said Tuesday. He was 89.

Hayward Morse said his father died Saturday at University College Hospital in London after a brief illness.

Born in London in 1918, Morse trained at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and appeared in British repertory and West End theaters before emigrating in 1951 to Canada, where he became a regular on radio and television.

Morse also played Professor Victor Bergman in 1970s science fiction series Space 1999.

See also:

Official website

Wikipedia entry

February Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies

February is a rather lean month for science fiction or fantasy movies, at least in terms of numbers, but not in terms of big names. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Jumper

First up on the docket is Jumper, based on the novels by Steven Gould. It’s directed by Doug Liman, who, we’re relentlessly told, is the director of The Bourne Identity and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Make of that what you will. It also stars Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson, how could it possibly suck? Oh, that’s right. At least Lucas isn’t here, sucking all their acting abilities out of their bodies. I admit that premise sounds rather interesting: people who can teleport and those sworn to kill them, today on Springer! However the trailers really haven’t done much for me. I still might go see it though. There is also a comic ‘prequel’ available. You can see a preview here.

The Posters

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I’m going to taunt fate, and certain commenters, and ‘Meh’ and ‘Meh’. Sorry, that’s the way I feel.

The Trailer

Jumper premiers February 14th.

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REVIEW: The Wannoshay Cycle by Michael Jasper

REVIEW SUMMARY: Surprising effort by newcomer Michael Jasper, the book brings together a very mature story, good characterization, and aliens that are alien.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Fleeing from a dying star after living underground for generations, the people of the Wannoshay crash to Earth looking for a new beginning. Unfortunately for them, the United States and Canada are already occupied. Quarantined by the military, the two species learn to communicate and surprisingly, the first request Wannoshay make is to meet with a religious man.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: The Wannoshay will never be mistaken for human – radial bilateral symmetry is about all we have in common – with inscruitable motivations; human characters are believable and dynamic; plot is mature and intelligent.

CONS: Sometimes depressing in a 1984 kind of way.

BOTTOM LINE: One of the best books I have read in the last 12 months, Jasper has produced a book that brings it all together – engaging story, realistic characters, and something that will stay with you after you have read it.

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SF Tidbits for 2/5/08

  • Upcoming books that have me feeling a little tingly inside:
  • Over at SCI FI Weekly, John Joseph Adams interviews Tim Pratt, author of The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl and Blood Engines.
  • Charles Tan @ Bibliophile Stalker interviews Jeffrey Ford (The Shadow Year ).
  • To mark the release of his book Marseguro, Edward Willett (who is interviewed by Facebook here) is running a give-away contest through February, giving away one signed copy per week.
  • John Scalzi offers some post-writing thoughts on his just-finished book, Zoe’s Tale, a novel set in the Old Man’s War universe whose events run parallel to The Last Colony. “…there’s so much new here that I’m personally satisfied that it’s not just a quickie rehash of TLC…” [via Adventures in Reading]
  • Two interesting tidbits from The latest Tor newsletter:
    • Tor Books is proud to present American Heroes, the spin-off blog based on George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards mosaic novels.
    • Steven Gould talks about his book, Jumper, becoming a movie. To answer fans who say “They are ruining the book!”, Gould replies “Late in his career, James M. Cain, author of Mildred Pierce, Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice, was asked by an interviewer, ‘How do you feel about what Hollywood has done to your books?’ ‘Hollywood has done nothing to my books,’ Cain replied. ‘They’re right over there on the shelf, exactly as I wrote them.’ And I’ll add: because of the movie and the movie publicity, tens of thousands (maybe more!) of people will read the books who would never have otherwise read them. This is a good thing.”
  • Al @ Allumination tells us why Why Fantasy isn’t crap, and SF isn’t any better: “…the claim that SF is superior to Fantasy because it is a more accurate reflection of the potentials and realities of the world is meaningless. Science can seed fiction, but it can’t (by definition) be fiction.”
  • Popular Science has a Science of Superheroes gallery, examining that, contrary to what Scotty says, you can break the laws of physics.

Tube Bits for 02/05/2008

  • ABC and Microsoft have completed a deal that will see many ABC shows showing up for rental on Microsoft’s Xbox Live Marketplace. Of interest to us here is that LOST is one of those shows, with all three previous seasons now available, and the fourth season episodes will be available the following day. As a bonus, they will be available in standard and high definition. Time to purchase a large hard drive for my 360.
  • But wait, there’s more! As part of LOST‘s viral marketing campaign, Oceanic Air is sponsoring a sweepstakes on Xbox Live where anyone who downloads the Oceanic Air Theme for their 360 before Feb. 10th is entered into a drawing to win some nice prizes. As there are only a few million users on Xbox Live, your chance of winning is much better than playing Powerball. In fact, if I were you, I wouldn’t bother downloading the theme, you probably won’t win. [Hurridly downloads the Oceanic Air theme.]
  • The good Doctor has been around for a long time, so it should be no surprise there are many media-tie in novels for Dr. Who. Now, the BBC has posted several Dr. Who ebooks for you to read for the low, low price of free. They all feature new artwork and additional notes from the original authors.
  • For those of you wishing the Dr. Who spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures would cross the pond, good news. Sci Fi Channel has picked up the show, which will premier in April. Much like Microsoft, Sci Fi is following the old addage, “If you can’t invent, buy out.”
  • About.com’s Science Fiction sub-site tries to convince us that Flash Gordon has improved over the course of the season. It seems the producers had written a long story arc that was slow to develop, thus causing viewers to lose interest. Of course, boring stories and no sense of, well, flash had nothing to do with it’s poor reception. Of course, they also argue that, while it became a better show, it’s not necessarily a good one.
  • The Stargate Worlds (the MMORPG based on the Stargate TV shows) team is running a contest whereby you re-mix your own version of the Stargate Worlds trailer by putting the funny in place of the current soldier’s lines. Winners receive T-shirts! With a new logo! Still, I’m interested in the game because the screenies look cool.

Super Bowl WallE Trailer

If you missed the Super Bowl, then you missed the new WallE trailer. Luckily for us, YouTube is on the job. I so want to see this movie.

REVIEW: Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer

REVIEW SUMMARY: Thoroughly entertaining (and accessible) science fiction.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The SETI scientist who decoded and responded to the first-ever alien transmission is asked, 40 years later, to receive a rejuvenation operation to decode the encrypted reply.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Thought-provoking sf; likable characters; intriguing first-contact story; moves fast; one of those books you can’t put down.

CONS: Perhaps too many anachronisms.

BOTTOM LINE: A book that has mainstream appeal but is also a great read for fans of thought-provoking science fiction.

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TOC: Year’s Best SF 13 edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer

Kathryn Cramer has posted the table of contents for the upcoming anthology she co-edits with David G. Hartwell:

  1. “Baby Doll” by Johanna Sinisalo
  2. “Aristotle OS” by Tony Ballantyne
  3. “The Last American” by John Kessel
  4. “Memorare” by Gene Wolfe
  5. “Plotters and Shooters” by Kage Baker
  6. “Repeating the Past” by Peter Watts
  7. “No More Stories” by Stephen Baxter
  8. “They Came From the Future” by Robyn Hitchcock
  9. “The Tomb Wife” by Gwyneth Jones
  10. “An Evening’s Honest Peril” by Marc Laidlaw
  11. “End Game” by Nancy Kress
  12. “Induction” by Greg Egan
  13. “A Blue and Cloudless Sky” by Bernard Ribbeck
  14. “Reasons not to Publish” by Gregory Benford
  15. “Objective Impermeability in a Closed System” by William Shunn
  16. “Always” by Karen Joy Fowler
  17. “Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?” by Ken MacLeod
  18. “Artifice and Intelligence” by Tim Pratt
  19. “Pirates of the Somali Coast” by Terry Bisson
  20. “Sanjeev and Robotwallah” by Ian McDonald
  21. “Third Person” by Tony Ballantyne
  22. “The Bridge” by Kathleen Ann Goonan
  23. “As You Know, Bob” by John Hemry
  24. “The Lustration” by Bruce Sterling
  25. “How Music Begins” by James Van Pelt

About SF

Two years ago, we linked to the science fiction resource website, AboutSF. It’s been a while since I checked in, but that should be easier now that they have added a blog.

So what goodies can you find there? Well, besides great online resources like lesson plans and James Gunn’s compilation of A Basic Science Fiction Library, they also sell a set of science fiction documentary DVD’s. If the field interests you as much as what it produces, check out John W. Campbell’s Golden Age of SF and the DVD Lecture Series.

To whet your appetite, feast your brain on AbouSF’s YouTube Channel, which offers up a bunch of clips from those DVDs. Here, for example, is Damon Knight talking about science fiction from Wells to the Pulps…

[Thanks to the always-insightful Biology in SF for the reminder]

SF Tidbits for 2/4/08

Contest Winner: Chronicles of The Necromancer Mega-Pack

The winner of the Chronicles of The Necromancer Mega-Pack is Michael H. of Ohio!

Congratulations, Michael! Your booty will soon be on its way.

Thanks to everyone who entered.

POLL RESULTS: Our Favorite Philip Jose Farmer Book

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Last week was Philip José Farmer’s 90th birthday. Which of his books/series was your favorite?

RESULTS

(76 total votes)

Hmmmm…participation has really tapered off these last two weeks. Lame questions or can’t you find the poll widget in it’s new location?

Comments this week:

“It’s a close run race between Riverworld and the World of Tiers. However, fighting over the future of multiple universes, a grand vision, and Kickaha, a great example of a secondary character taking over a series because he’s just cooler than the protagonist, gives the win to World of Tiers.” – Paul

“Tough choice between Riverworld and World of Tiers, both excellent world-building sagas…but Riverworld’s main premise was fantastic, and well done. PJF is one of the most under-read and under-rated SF/Fantasy authors around.” – Larry

“The Stone God Awakens” – CV

“I liked “Lord Tyger” and “Two Hawks from Earth” best of the Farmer that I’ve read.” – Michael Samerdyke

“I guess I should vote for the World of Tiers books, but I think the Purple Book is just as inventive and more important in the grand scheme of things. That said, for me, Farmer was at his best when he was writing Burroughs books, and the best of these is Doc Savage.” – platyjoe

“I have read great things about his works and am really looking forward to one day reading Riverworld but with the dirth of titles on offer I would like to hear one clear and concise reason why do it.” – General X

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about reading young adult fiction!

Sunday Cinema: Firefly – “Jaynestown”

Ah yes, ‘Jaynestown’, what’s not to like? And who can forget the Ballad of Jayne Cobb.

Raise Your Hand if You’re a NYT SF/F Book Reviewer Who Hates Young Adult Fiction!

NYT SF/F book reviewster Dave Itzkoff is at it again

As someone whose subway rides tend to resemble scenes from an “Evil Dead” movie, in which I am Bruce Campbell dodging zombies who have had all traces of their humanity sucked out of them by a sinister book – not the “Necronomicon,” but “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” – I sometimes wonder how any self-respecting author of speculative fiction can find fulfillment in writing novels for young readers. I suppose J. K. Rowling could give me 1.12 billion reasons in favor of it: get your formula just right and you can enjoy worldwide sales, film and television options, vibrating-toy-broom licensing fees, Chinese-language bootlegs of your work, a kind of limited immortality (L. Frank Baum who?) and – finally – genuine grown-up readers. But where’s the artistic satisfaction? Where’s the dignity?

How can anyone take this guy seriously? This is like a repeat of Clute!

[Brought to you via the letter “L” (as in “Loser”) and also via the ever-diligent Antick Musings, who points at Itzkoff and says “Look at the funny monkey!” Heh-heh. I wish I wrote that. As it is, it’s taking every iota of strength not to photoshop Itzkoff into a monkey. Hmmm…I think I sense a Photoshop challenge… :)]

A science fiction blog featuring science fiction book reviews and with frequent ramblings on fantasy, computers and the web.