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 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.
Here are 4 reasons why you should visit the website of artist Jim Murray.
[via Irene @ The Art Department]
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]
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?
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.
I’m going to taunt fate, and certain commenters, and ‘Meh’ and ‘Meh’. Sorry, that’s the way I feel.
Jumper premiers February 14th.
REVIEW SUMMARY: Surprising effort by newcomer Michael Jasper, the book brings together a very mature story, good characterization, and aliens that are alien.
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.
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.
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 SUMMARY: Thoroughly entertaining (and accessible) science fiction.
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.
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.
Kathryn Cramer has posted the table of contents for the upcoming anthology she co-edits with David G. Hartwell:
- “Baby Doll” by Johanna Sinisalo
- “Aristotle OS” by Tony Ballantyne
- “The Last American” by John Kessel
- “Memorare” by Gene Wolfe
- “Plotters and Shooters” by Kage Baker
- “Repeating the Past” by Peter Watts
- “No More Stories” by Stephen Baxter
- “They Came From the Future” by Robyn Hitchcock
- “The Tomb Wife” by Gwyneth Jones
- “An Evening’s Honest Peril” by Marc Laidlaw
- “End Game” by Nancy Kress
- “Induction” by Greg Egan
- “A Blue and Cloudless Sky” by Bernard Ribbeck
- “Reasons not to Publish” by Gregory Benford
- “Objective Impermeability in a Closed System” by William Shunn
- “Always” by Karen Joy Fowler
- “Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?” by Ken MacLeod
- “Artifice and Intelligence” by Tim Pratt
- “Pirates of the Somali Coast” by Terry Bisson
- “Sanjeev and Robotwallah” by Ian McDonald
- “Third Person” by Tony Ballantyne
- “The Bridge” by Kathleen Ann Goonan
- “As You Know, Bob” by John Hemry
- “The Lustration” by Bruce Sterling
- “How Music Begins” by James Van Pelt
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]
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.
Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.
Last week was Philip José Farmer’s 90th birthday. Which of his books/series was your favorite?
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!
Ah yes, ‘Jaynestown’, what’s not to like? And who can forget the Ballad of Jayne Cobb.
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… :)]