SF Tidbits for 10/24/06

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SF Tidbits for 10/23/06

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REVIEW: Wings to the Kingdom by Cherie Priest

REVIEW SUMMARY: More of a story with ghosts than a ghost story.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Eden Moore uses her ability of seeing dead people to solve the mystery of Old Green Eyes.


PROS: The wonderfully somber atmosphere; the ghosts play a more active roll here than in the previous book.

CONS: The mystery is not very complex. The steady pacing is perhaps a bit too slow.

BOTTOM LINE: A fine companion for a cold, quiet night.

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POLL RESULTS: Robot Smackdown!

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Which of these robots from literature, movies and TV is your favorite?


(120 total votes)

Perhaps its interesting to note that robots from literature received 41.7% of the votes, movie robots received 30% of the votes and tv robots got 28.3% of the votes.

Be sure to vote in this week’s poll on the coolest setting in sf literature!

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R.I.P. Jane Wyatt

R.I.P. Jane Wyatt, who played Mr. Spock’s mother on Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and also played, more notably, the mother on Father Knows Best.

See: Wikipedia entry.

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SF Tidbits for 10/22/06

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EW Reviews SF/F

Issue #904 (October 27, 2006) of Entertainment Weekly offers some brief reviews of science fiction and fantasy books. Here’s a snippet…

Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury

For Fans of: Sherwood Anderson and Bradbury.

Lowdown: Summer draws poignancy from the half-century dividing it from Dandelion Wine, but feels like an afterthought.

Grade: B.

The Toyminator by Robert Rankin

For Fans of: Douglas Adams, Mother Goose, and masochism.

Lowdown: Some clever running gags don’t make up for the self-conscious cheekiness or witless plot.

Grade: D.

Eifelheim by Michael Flynn

For Fans of: Brainy first-contact tales (Carl Sagan meets Umberto Eco).

Lowdown: Bursting with pungent historical detail, and Big Theme musings, this dense, provocative novel offers big rewards to patient readers.

Grade: A-.

Sagramanda by Alan Dean Foster

For Fans of: “Johnny Mnemonic” (the Gibson, not the Keanu), Blade Runner, and Monsoon Wedding.

Lowdown: Foster’s world is convincingly thought-out, but there are too many plot threads (even a man-eating tiger).

Grade: B.

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The Top 5 Movie Magicians

As a sidebar to their review of The Prestige (which they give a B+), Entertainment Weekly lists the Top 5 Movie Magicians:

  1. Merlin (Excalibur)
  2. Gandalf (Lord of the Rings movies)
  3. Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter movies)
  4. The Wicked Witch of the West (The Wizard of Oz)
  5. Yoda (Star Wars movies)

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Art vs. Entertainment…Again and Still

Adding to the recent (and forever-recurring) debate of Art vs. Entertainment, SF author Chris Roberson weighs in:

I don’t spend too much time worrying about this, myself. I came to the realization early this year that what I’m writing isn’t Art, but Entertainment. There’s meaning and substance lurking beneath the surface of everything I write, though how successfully encoded or thought out is up to readers to decide, but my principle goal is to craft smart entertainment. To my way of thinking, though, a successful work can’t have one without the other.

Entertainment without substance is nothing more than empty calories: it tastes good, but doesn’t do you any good. Substance without entertainment is bitter medicine: it’s good for you, but it’s too often hard to swallow. A successful work– one that provides both entertainment and substance — is good and good for you: delicious and nutritious.

Meanwhile, The Movie Blog’s John Campea opines (yes, I said “opines”) The Lack of Art in Entertainment.

To me, “ART” is what happens what an artist uses their gifts to EXPRESS something through their particular medium. ART is when an artist has something to say, a thought to express or a feeling to emote through their talent. ART then elicits a response from us, a reaction to the message, thought or feeling it conveys. Maybe joy or anger or fear… perhaps we approve or disapprove… but either way it is what art does.

Entertainment needs no message or feeling to accomplish it’s goals. A guy prancing like he’s on a horse with another guy running behind him slapping coconut shells together to sound like galloping hoofs isn’t art… but it is entertaining (depending on who you ask). Entertainment without art has value in and of itself.

It has a movie focus and an “audiences should demand more” bent, but it’s a good read with some correspondingly good comments.

UPDATE: Charles Stross says Let’s put the future behind us.

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SF Tidbits for 10/20/06

UPDATE:Boomer makes Fridays more fun! Here’s Grace Park talking about Battlestar Galactica and Maxim.

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Battlestar Galactica Webisode Dispute

MSNBC/Newsweek is reporting a dispute between the network and the writers of the Battlestar Galactica webisodes:

NBC Universal, the studio behind “Battlestar,” refused to pay residuals or credit the writers of these “Webisodes,” claiming they’re promotional materials. So “Battlestar” executive producer Ron Moore said he wouldn’t deliver any more of them, including the 10 that were already in the can. In response, NBC Universal seized the Webisodes and filed charges of unfair labor practices against the Writers Guild of America, which advised Moore and producers of three other NBC Universal shows not to deliver any new Web content until they had a deal over residuals.

The stakes are huge: viewers streamed “Battlestar” Webisodes 5.5 million times last month, doubling traffic to SciFi.com within two days of the premiere. By comparison, 2.2 million people showed up for the show’s third-season opener on Oct. 6.

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SF Tidbits for 10/19/06

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Silverberg Restrospective Series in the Works

SciFi Wire is reporting that Subterranean Press will be publishing a 9-volume set of Robert Silverberg’s short fiction:

To Be Continued is the first of a nine-volume set of his collected short fiction. “Not my complete stories, just the ones I think are worth reprinting for modern readers,” Silverberg said in an interview. “This volume covers the first five years of my career, stories written between 1953 and 1958. I’ve done an introduction for each story, placing it in its context of the era, telling how I came to write it and who published it.”

Sweet! The Majipoor website has a complete list of Silverberg’s short fiction.

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SF Signal is listed a SciFi Weekly’s Site of the Week! Way cool!

This sits well with our mention in SciFi Magazine earlier this year. And by “sits well with” I mean “also strokes our over-inflated egos”. And by “our” I mean “mine”. :)

If this is your first time here, welcome! If you are into RSS feeds, we offer them for posts and comments. But be sure to check out other stuff you might be missing.

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SF Tidbits for 10/17/06

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Wicker Man (1974)

REVIEW SUMMARY: A cult (art-house?) horror story of pagan god worship.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A police officer is called to a remote island west of Scotland to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. During his investigation, he finds that the island’s inhabitants worship the pagan gods of the sun and earth, and that the May Day celebration (and sacrifice?) is just days away.


PROS: October is horror-movie month for me. This year’s line-up included the likes of Scanners, Kill Baby Kill and Sleepy Hollow. Since I’d never seen the original film The Wicker Man, I also added that to my list, and am so glad that I did. While not so much a horror story as it is mystery and suspense, this movie really delivers.

The story in short is that a police officer from the mainland, Sgt. Howie (Edward Woodward) gets called to investigate the disappearance of a young girl from a remote island west of Scotland. The inhabitants all worship the gods of the earth and sun, and Howie, a devout Christian, is offended by the open sexuality exhibited by the community. It is even taught to the youngest children in school! The May Day celebration is fast approaching, and Sgt. Howie thinks that the girl may be in danger of begin sacrificed if he doesn’t find her first. But curiously, no one even knows who she is, or who reported her missing.

Christopher Lee plays Lord Summerisle, the grandson of the man who originally founded the island, and seems to be orchestrating the bizarre behavior of the residents.

In 1979, the Wicker Man won the Saturn Award for best horror film. There is considerable nudity in the movie, so you’ll definitely not want to watch the film with children present.

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REVIEW SUMMARY: Another fun read from Scalzi.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Harry Creek must prevent an interstellar war by providing a sheep to an alien race.


PROS: Immersive; clear writing style; well-executed humor; highly entertaining.

CONS: Somewhat slow beginning.

BOTTOM LINE: Fans of Scalzi’s previous work won’t be disappointed.

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Elric Books Reprinted with Extras

Michael Moorcock announced that Del Rey will be reprinting his Elric books with some nice extras:

From next year, at three month intervals, Del Rey books will be publishing trade paperback editions of the Elric books. They will be done more or less in the order in which they were published and will be illustrated by some of the best artists currently at work. The first one will be done by my good friend John Picacio, whose first professional book illustrating job was the Mojo edition of Behold the Man (and who also illustrated Tales from the Texas Woods, also for Mojo) and will include the original stories from The Stealer of Souls and Stormbringer, as well as other material, plus a new introduction and explanatory material. They will be published in much the same style and format as Del Rey’s Conan editions. I can’t remember if I have already announced this, but thought I’d better mention it now just in case I hadn’t! The books will include short stories from the world of the Young Kingdoms and other stories as they originally appeared in Science Fantasy magazine, including “To Rescue Tanelorn” and so on. Scripts, early illustrations and so on will also be included in the volumes.

[via Chris Roberson]

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LeGuin on Miyazaki’s Earthsea Adaptation

The New York Times has a profile on Goro Miyazaki, the son of the anime master Hayao Miyazaki, and his upcoming film Tales From Earthsea which based on Ursula K. LeGuin’s books. LeGuin is quoted in the artcile, giving her thoughts on the new adaptation:

As a teenager Mr. Miyazaki read the “Earthsea” books, and he originally planned to make a faithful interpretation. “But as I continued on the project, I realized that adapting the story exactly was not really what I should do,” he said. “In order for me to speak to younger audiences, some changes had to be made because of the gap between when the book was written and when I made the film. I feel that metropolitan culture is becoming a dead end and there’s nowhere to go. I can’t just shout, ‘Return to nature,’ but we need to rethink how we can live in cities yet remain close to nature.”

Ms. Le Guin offered a balanced response, saying: “I thought the moral lectures in the film were spoken eloquently. In fact they were often quoted pretty directly from the books. But I didn’t see how the action of the film justified them. They felt pasted on to me. I did not understand why Arren stabs his father, nor how and why he earned redemption.”

She added: “I very much liked the scenes of plowing, drawing water, stabling the animals and so on, which give the film an earthy and practical calmness, a wise change of pace from constant conflict and action. In them, at least, I recognized my Earthsea.”

[via Locus Online]

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POLL RESULTS: Favorite TV Robot

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Which of these is your favorite fictional robot from television?


(92 total votes)

I liked the voter turnout, but it appears that a large majority of voters take an unhealthy liking to alcohol-swilling, gambling, smartmouth, thieving robots. My kinda people… :)

This concludes the semi-finals in the search for our favorite robot. We now have our favorite robots from literature, movies and now television. Be sure to vote in this week’s poll where we declare The Supreme Robot the top 6 winners of these polls face off in our Robot Smackdown! (Note: No robots were actually harmed in the making of this poll.)

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