SF Tidbits for 11/3/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 11/03/07

  • The November 8th issue of TV Guide magazine will feature four different covers celebrating the comic influence Heroes. Each cover was designed and drawn by a comic book artist: Tim Sale, Jim Lee, Michael Turner, Phil Jimenez, and Dave Stewart. The actual artwork hasn’t been released yet, but we’ll e able to see the covers next week. Stay tuned.
  • I’m not sure whether to be giddy or just sad: Sci Fi Channel has a pirate fantasy movie in the works called Drake, and will star Adrian Paul and Temuera Morrison (that’s the Highlander vs. Jango Fett for those scoring at home). Apparently, Paul’s character is trying to find the Tree Of Life to save his daughter, and must fight the Spanish Armada, sea monsters, a mystical Persian sorceress, the legendary Norse God-creature the Nidhogg, and a Star Wars character. See what I mean? It’s got pirates and it sounds interesting, but it’s on Sci Fi. How many ways can they think of to make this blow? Aside from cheap SFX that is. Let’s hope it turns out well.
  • Where do you go to find the lead character for the Knight Rider re-make? Why, All My Children of course! Justin Bruening is set to play Michael Knight’s son in the reboot of the 80’s talking car who secretly wants to be a Cylon series. Hasselhoff was also a soap star when he was tapped to be Michael Knight. Hopefully Bruening has a long singing career in Germany to look forward to.
  • Following on from recent MST3K news, I see that Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank) has his own animated series called Cartoon Dump. Not to be outdone, Best Brains, the, err, brains behind MST3K are working on their own animated series featuring everyone’s favorite set of robots on MST3K.com. Nice!
  • BuddyTV has a short look at the upcoming Sci Fi original movie Tin Man. Now, I want to like this, I really do. I like the ideas they have for the new version, but I am expecting Sci Fi to screw this up as well. Remember, the creative team behind the new Flash Gordon is also the team for Tin Man. Doesn’t exactly instill confidence, does it?

Filed under: Tube Bits

Reviews: Interzone Issues 210, 211 and 212

I’ve been horribly remiss in my reviews, or lack thereof, for the the SF magazine Interzone. I just finished reading issues 211 and 212 and thought I’d toss together a quick post on my thoughts for issues 210 – 212.

First things first, most issues, aside from the short stories, have the same columns and such in them: book reviews, movie reviews, the occasional anime review, plus author or artist interviews. I’m not going to go in depth on any of these, unless it happens to be something unusual. The meat of each issue is the stories, and I’ll be looking at those.

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Filed under: Meta

Watch Day Watch For Cheap

BitTorrent.com sends us word of another special offer that might be of interest to some of our readers. They have the movie Day Watch available to download for $.99, good until November 6th.

Day Watch is a Russian horror/sci fi movie, the second movie (after Night Watch) of a series that has been receiving lots of accolades around the movie-sphere. I’ve seen the first movie and it wasn’t my cup of tea. Then again, horror movies aren’t really my thing, unless Kate Beckinsale appears in it wearing form-fitting leather outfits. Sadly, she doesn’t appear in Day Watch.

But for less than a buck, I’m thinking of giving it a shot.

Filed under: Movies

Free Book: Postsingular by Rudy Rucker

Rudy Rucker Has released his new novel, Postsingular, under a Creative Commons License. Available formats are HTML and PDF, though more are sure to follow…

Here’s an excerpt:

Two boys walked down the beach, deep in conversation. Seventeen-year-old Jeff Luty was carrying a carbon-fiber pipe rocket. His best friend, Carlos Tucay, was carrying the launch rod and a cheap bottle of Mieux champagne. Gangly Jeff was a head taller than Carlos.

“We’re unobservable now,” said Jeff, looking back down the sand. It was twilight on a clear New Year’s Day in Stinson Beach, California. Jeff ‘s mother had rented a cheap cottage in order to get out of their cramped South San Francisco apartment for the holiday, and Carlos had come along. Jeff ‘s mother didn’t like it when the boys fired off their homemade rockets; so Jeff had promised her that he and Carlos wouldn’t bring one. But of course they had.

“Our flying beetle,” said Carlos with his ready grin. “Your program says it’ll go how high? Tell me again, Jeff. I love hearing it.”

“A mile,” said Jeff, hefting the heavy gadget. “Equals one thousand, six hundred and nine-point-three-four-four meters. That’s why we measured out the fuel in milligrams.”

“As if this beast is gonna act like your computer simulation,” laughed Carlos, patting the thick rocket’s side. “Yeek!” The rocket’s tip was a streamlined plastic cone with a few thousand homegrown nanochips inside. The rocket’s sides were adorned with fanciful sheet metal fins and a narrow metal pipe that served as a launch lug. Carlos had painted the rocket to resemble an iridescent blue-green beetle with toothy jaws and folded spiky legs.

“We’re lucky we didn’t blow up your mom’s house when we were casting the motor,” said Jeff. “A kilogram of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and powdered magnesium metal mixed into epoxy binder, whoa.” He hefted the rocket, peering up the beetle’s butt at the glittering, rubbery fuel. The carbon-fiber tube was stuffed like a sausage casing.

[via Quasar Dragon and ManyBooks.net]

Filed under: Free Fiction

Friday YouTube: Spider-Man Theme Song

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 11/2/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Top 10 SF Signal Posts for October 2007

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

  1. Authors You’ll Buy Sight Unseen
  2. How Do You Like Heroes Season 2 So Far?
  3. Giant X-Wing Rocket Set To Launch
  4. Used Bookstores Have 10 Years to Live
  5. Thursday YouTube: Star Wars Theme – Trumpet Version
  6. Monday YouTube: Bender’s Big Score Trailer
  7. REVIEW: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 1 edited by Jonathan Strahan
  8. Doris Lessing Wins the Nobel Prize for Literature
  9. What do you watch on TV? 2007 edition!
  10. Tuesday YouTube: Hollywood Actors Read Poe

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

  1. SF/F Writers Who Blog
  2. Solve Rubik’s Cube
  3. REVIEW: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  4. Oh Wolverine, Why Can’t You Be True?
  5. MEME: Top 50 Dystopian Movies of All Time
  6. Free SciFi Movies
  7. Top 10 Star Wars Spoofs
  8. Free Short SF Online
  9. Foundation: The Movie
  10. Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movies Lists

Filed under: Meta

Tube Bits For 11/02/2007

  • Just when you thought it was safe to put a SF show on Fox, we learn that Joss Whedon and Fox are teaming up for a new SF show, called Dollhouse, and starring Eliza Dushku, about a group of people who are assigned various tasks, but then are mind wiped after each one. Sounds kinda cool. Any bets on how many episodes it lasts? Or how long before the suits start mucking with it? [via Deasil]
  • Following on from yesterday’s Star Trek casket item, Network World lists The Top 10 real life Star Trek inventions. The casket is listed as are a bunch of other cool, cutting edge gadgets.
  • In case you haven’t heard, Mulder and Scully will return to the big screen on July 25, 2008. Shooting begins this December in Vancouver, of course. Let’s see, that’s 8 months from shooting to release, ok almost 9 months. Must not be that SFX laden.
  • With the news that Heroes:Origins has been killed due to the ‘writers strike’, BuddyTV tells us that Heroes will be (SPOILERS ahoy!) pulling out the stops for sweeps week. They have spoilery synopsis for the next four episodes. I’ll let you decide how much spoilage you want to subject yourself to. The big question: Will it be enough to pull Heroes out of its tailspin?

Filed under: Tube Bits

REVIEW: The Hanging Mountains by Sean Williams


The Hanging Mountains is the third book in Williams’ Books Of The Cataclysm series, but in many ways it feels like the second book in a trilogy. The Hanging Mountains picks immediately after where the previous book, The Blood Debt leaves off. A flood of epic proportions has inundated the Divide and the group of Sky Wardens, along with the Homunculus containing the souls of Seth and Hadrian from The Crooked Letter head upstream, to the Hanging Mountains to discover the source and the reason for the flood. They discover an ancient evil, long thought vanquished, is stirring and has big, nasty plans for Earth.

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Filed under: Book Review

Heroes Season 2 Officially Sucks

I have not hidden that fact that I have a love/hate relationship with Heroes. I warmed up to the show in Season 1 despite my early annoyance and later misgivings. But in season 2, all my fears are becoming realized. The show is officially lame.


Jeez…where do I start?

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Filed under: HeroesTV

Tube Bits For 11/01/2007

  • If you’ve been wondering how to go out in style when you shuffle off this mortal coil, then perhaps you should consider this Star Trek Coffin shaped like a photon torpedo. Now you can re-enact the ending of Wrath of Khan, complete with bagpipes if you’d like!
  • Is Cavemen even still on? Apparently so, as Tony Figueroa at Blogcritics dissects the shows first two episodes. Metrosexual cavemen? No thanks.
  • UGO has a short interview with Jamie Bamber, covering many topics. Among them Razor, BG season 4 and what props Bamber plans on, um, keeping after the show wraps. I’ll take a Viper please.
  • Speaking of Galactica, the Battlestar Galactica game for Xbox Live Arcade is now available, as is the demo. I tried it and really, really didn’t like it. Which is too bad since who wouldn’t want to fly around in a Viper, fragging Cylons?
  • Terminally Incoherent has an interesting post about anti-intellectualism on TV. Specifically, the way SF fans or technically savvy people are portrayed on the vast majority of TV shows. Can anyone think of a show where the ‘geeky’ person was actually show as being heroic or sympathetic? I can only think of Hiro.
  • Maureen Buccellato from Flick Direct watches Heroes for the first time, and comes away confused. Not surprising as there is an entire season of backstory she’s missing, thus showing how hard it will be for Heroes to pick up new viewers, as the older ones appear to be leaving it in droves.
  • If NBC were smart, they’d use their new Hulu service to make older shows, in their entirety, available for viewing. Sadly, that’s not the case. Hulu went into closed beta on Monday, and new shows have only a five week window for viewing. The good news is that many older shows’ entire seasons are available. Shows like The A-Team. I love it when a plan comes together in a classic pincer movement!

Filed under: Tube Bits

SF Tidbits for 11/1/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder

REVIEW SUMMARY: Schroeder delivers an action-packed hard science fiction story that isn’t afraid to go as deep with the characters as it is with ideas.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Hayden Griffen lives in the world of Virga – a balloon of air supported by artificial suns. He is out to avenge the death of his parents and ends up working for his sworn enemy. What follows is a romp through the world-let of Virga complete with pirates, intrigue, and a quasi-steam punk world.


PROS: Characters evolve and grow, the science is interesting but not overwhelming, excellent wold-building ideas

CONS: The only thing I can think of is that it probably isn’t a book for those who don’t enjoy science fiction. It isn’t universally accessible, maybe.

BOTTOM LINE: Excellent hard science fiction that any fan of the genre would enjoy.

Filed under: Book Review

The Return Of MST3K?

OK, so not really the return of everyone’s favorite mock a movie program. But if, like me, you miss the comedy gold only a bad movie can bring, you’ll be happy to know that former MST3K cast members are working on several MST3K-like projects.

Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu and TV’s Frank, among others, are starting a movie riffing company called Cinematic Titanic! That is good news indeed. They are in the process of riffing on a bad movie right now, and will release it before Christmas. Now word on the title, but Joel says “it makes “Manos the Hands of Fate” look like “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” in a car wreck with “Eegah!””. Sounds horribly bad, but good.

This may be a good time to point out that Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy have their own website, RiffTrax, where they produce audio files meant to be played instead of your movie’s or TV show’s soundtrack, where they mercilessly lampoon the thing in MST3K style. And just look at all the SF goodness they make fun of: Spider Man, Heroes episodes 1 and 2, Revenge of the Sith and the Fantastic 4 among many, many others. Watch the previews to decide if you want to download, and if you do, each trax is only a few dollars. Bravo!

If you’d rather get your MST3K-type fix on a DVD, we can accommodate you there as well! Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy have also created 4 DVDs as The Film Crew Online, where they take really bad movies and, well, you know the rest. Killers From Space looks really, really bad.

As much as I liked Mike Nelson in control of the Satellite of Love, I’ll always have a soft spot for Joel. I’m glad to see him back in action, so to speak.

Filed under: Web Sites

SF Tidbits for 10/31/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Happy Halloween!

It’s October 31st, and all the little ghosts and goblins will be out tonight, looking for candy. Parents across the world cringe in anticipation of sugar fueled behavior and combative bedtimes, much like dealing with John on a daily basis. Not one to skip ‘the next big holiday’, SF Signal has scoured the web for Halloween items of interest for our loyal readers. Consider this our sugar free treat to you. (Note the completely gratuitous picture of zombie John Scalzi, because we can.)

I’m assuming most of us here have seen, and really liked, Ghostbusters. Well, CIO online has a neat article covering the technology of paranormal investigations. OK, so not real Ghostbusters, but more like the guys on Sci Fi’s Ghost Hunters show. Still, who knew you could hunt ghosts with a mylar blimp? Read on for other interesting uses of technology and how it’s used to ascertain the environmental reasons for hauntings. Or does it?

Sticking with ‘science’, Cracked.com gives us 5 scientific reasons a zombie apocalypse could actually happen. Mmm, brain parasites. Actually, quite an interesting list, and based on actual science, however far fetched the ‘human turning into zombie’ step may be. So if you see a zombie tonight, you can ask them which of the 5 reasons turned them into a zombie. Don’t be surprised if they answer: “Braiiiiiiiiins!” Zombies aren’t verbose.

Perhaps you’re thinking of taking a vacation to get away from all the door knocking and bell ringing on Halloween. If so, Concierge.com has compiled a list of the world’s creepiest places. Sadly (or luckily?), John’s house isn’t listed. Instead you get more mundane places, such as Easter Island and the Paris Catacombs. Good stuff here.

But let’s face it, you’re looking for Halloween items you can make. Out of paper. If this is you, then look no further than our link filled list of Halloween items:

  • Skull A Day offers us a papercraft skull, with articulated jaw. You could put it on your hand and pretend to be a ventriloquist! “Learn to throw your voice! Fool your friends! Fun at parties!”
  • Daniel from Steam Crow Press has several free paper masks for you to download and wear. I like the Frankenstein mask the best, but they are all cool and, well different. Did I mention ‘free’ as well?
  • And a little something something for the Star Wars fans. Now you too can re-create Anakin’s tragic descent to the Dark Side with your very own Anakin/Darth Vader pop-up mask. That’s right, the only mask that allows you to be either Darth or Anakin with the flick of a wrist. Now you can experiment and see which ‘face’ gets you the most candy.

And lastly, what’s Halloween without pumpkins? Lame, that’s what! You could, of course, search yourself and see all the themed pumpkins around, but you’d probably miss the weighted companion cube pumpkin, starring in the best short game of the year, Portal. Oh waited companion cube, your untimely demise was heart breaking, yet mitigated by your selflessness in helping me get past the puzzles. I’ll miss you, companion cube.

So, as night falls, we wish you a happy and safe Halloween, whatever you decide to do this evening. Just remember, stay away from John’s house and you’ll be alright.

Filed under: Web Sites

Tube Bits For 10/31/2007

  • Many people have been, um, disappointed with Heroes thus far, mostly agreeing that the stories have been sub-par. AdRants has a new take, ranting that the in-program ad for American Gangsta was over the top intrusive, and aimed at those people who watch Heroes on DVRs. Actually, I can’t remember seeing the ad when I watched, but point taken.
  • SyFy Portal looks at Chuck and deems it ‘just OK’, citing several problems that I had noticed as well. Still, for me, I like Chuck. I find it funny and how many other shows would work a Dune reference into its Halloween show? (Shai Hulud FTW!).
  • And the bad ratings news for NBC continues, as all of it’s Monday night shows have shown a steady drop in ratings. While Heroes appears safe for now, it would appear that Chuck and Journeyman are destined for an early retirement and quick release on DVD.
  • You’ve probably heard of the fan run Star Trek: New Voyages series. Thanks to VeriSign and Dragonfly, you can watch the new episode ‘World Enough And Time’ online. You’ll need Flash Player, but this is a nice idea. No longer will you have to wait to download it.
  • From the ‘did you know’ department: The Science Channel is running a new series called Mars Rising. This series, produced by James Cameron and narrated by William Shatner, will explore the difficulties mankind faces in an effort to physically reach Mars. It premiered last night, but new episodes will run for the next several weeks. I caught a few minutes and it seemed very interesting, it’s now on my DVR list.

Filed under: Tube Bits

The Best Show On The Sci Fi Channel

Since Battlestar Galactica and Eureka are on season breaks, the best show on Sci Fi just might be the upcoming Mass Effect special!

“What’s that?”, you ask. Well, Mass Effect is only the most anticipated science fiction RPG console game (Xbox 360 only, sorry PS3) ever! Well, ok, maybe not ever, but at least this year, and definitely for me. Bioware has produced some awesome games in the past, and Mass Effect is their attempt to bring a new science fiction setting to the gaming public. I like games + I like science fiction + I like Bioware = fanboy in the making.

Mass Effect has gone gold and will be in retailers on Nov. 28th. In celebration of it’s release, Sci Fi, Bioware and Microsoft have gotten together to produce a ‘first look’ at the game, airing on Nov. 20th. If you continually troll the Sci Fi link, you could win a Limited Edition of the game with all kinds of extras.

Mass Effect looks like it will set the bar for SF RPGs for a long time to come, the ‘prequel’ book not withstanding. Bearing this in mind, and considering that Razor doesn’t air until Nov. 24th, this special may just be the best thing on Sci Fi.

But I have to ask, aside from those of us here at SF Signal who are gamers (me, Tim, Scott, Trent and Kevin), who else out there likes games, especially of the SF variety?

Filed under: GamesTV

In a Rocky Mountain News profile of Connie Willis, the article mentions that the author has the distinction of being the writer with most Hugo and Nebula award wins.

I though it might be fun (because this is how science fiction geeks have fun) to see who followed her, based on this handy data from Locus Online. I found 15 other writers who received more than 5 wins.

Listed below are the 16 writers, the total number of Hugo and Nebula award wins they’ve earned, and the total number of Hugo and Nebula award nominations they’ve received.

  1. Connie Willis (15 wins, 36 nominations)
  2. Poul Anderson (10 wins, 27 nominations)
  3. Harlan Ellison (10 wins, 33 nominations)
  4. Joe Haldeman (10 wins, 16 nominations)
  5. Ursula K. Le Guin (10 wins, 37 nominations)
  6. Fritz Leiber (9 wins, 24 nominations)
  7. Robert Silverberg (9 wins, 46 nominations)
  8. Roger Zelazny (9 wins, 28 nominations)
  9. Lois McMaster Bujold (8 wins, 18 nominations)
  10. Isaac Asimov (7 wins, 14 nominations)
  11. Greg Bear (7 wins, 17 nominations)
  12. Arthur C. Clarke (6 wins, 9 nominations)
  13. George R. R. Martin (6 wins, 29 nominations)
  14. Larry Niven (6 wins, 27 nominations)
  15. Mike Resnick (6 wins, 35 nominations)
  16. Michael Swanwick (6 wins, 35 nominations)

Filed under: Awards

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