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.

Read the rest of this entry

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

REVIEW: Prador Moon by Neal Asher

REVIEW SUMMARY: Flat characterizations translate into an un-engaging novel.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: First contact with aliens in Asher’s Polity universe.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Fast-paced; much action; cool depiction of aliens.

CONS: Flat characters that lack any qualities to which the reader can relate.

BOTTOM LINE: Could have spared a few pages to flesh out the characters more.

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Book Review

SF Tidbits for 5/29/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Meme: Title Blender

I’ve been tagged by Nick Senger at Literary Compass to participate in his Title Blending meme

(I might counter with resurrecting my sf book meme:) )

The idea is to blend two book titles together by using the last word of one title and the first word of the second title. If you want, you can blend the authors’ names too.

Here are my picks, confined (as one might expect at a science fiction blog) to science fiction and fantasy titles.

  • Stranger in a Strange Land That Time Forgot by Robert A. Rice Burroughs
  • Ender’s Game of Thrones by Orson Scott R.R. Martin
  • A Deepness in the Skylark of Space by Vernor E.E. Smith
  • Old Man’s War of the Worlds by H.G. Scalzi
  • American Gods of Red Mars by Neil Stanley Rice Burroughs

Tagging others is hard when there are so many to choose from. So, if you are reading this, consider yourself tagged.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 5/28/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
The fanbase of Joss Whedon’s Firefly is still going strong. Which episode is your favorite?

RESULTS

(438 total votes)

During the early days of this post, there was apparent ballot-stuffing going on, so make of these results what you will.

Some comments this week:

“Every episode is absolute Gold, I voted Jaynestown because it was so ‘off the wall’.” – BrianD

“You really can’t stop this signal. We Firefly fans are seriously committed!” – Devon
[Ed: If not, you ought to be. :)]

“Where is the “all of the above” answer? Time to work on voting across the board…” – Tim

“I just voted for “Out of Gas” a great story, but it looks like someone has already stuffed the ballot box for it and ‘Objects in Space’.” – Kristen

“I have the box set and “Out of Gas” is still the episode I pop in the dvd player most often, when I need a hit of ‘Firefly’. Followed by ‘War Stories’ and ‘Heart of Gold’” – Kathryn

“This is like asking me to choose among my children or cats or something! Each episode has something special to recommend it, and which one I pop into the player depends on the circumstances at that time. ‘Serenity’ is (duh!) the episode I recommend to newbies, followed by “Out of Gas,” but there is goodness throughout. For example, nobody should miss Jayne (even in the background) in ‘Heart of Gold,’ or Wash, all muddy and inebriated, interacting with Zoe in ‘Jaynestown,’ or Inara’s big scene in ‘The Train Job,’ or too many more to record here. Who wouldn’t want to sit at the table with our crew and talk over adventures or plan a new one?” – FloralBonnet

“Our Mrs Reynolds……Christina Hendricks. Red hair. Ummmm….yummy treats” – doctorferris

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about Season One of Heroes!

Filed under: Polls

MOVIE IMPRESSIONS: 28 Weeks Later

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: 24 weeks after the rage virus strikes, all of the infected have starved and the U.S. military begins rebuilding London. A month after that the first children are allowed back in…

PROS: Far more tense than even 28 Days Later.

CONS: Premise of setting up so soon after the virus is a little tenuous; camera too shaky

BOTTOM LINE: I was a big fan of 28 Days Later. As edge-of-your-seat as that film was, 28 Weeks Later was even more terrifying!

Read the rest of this entry

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REVIEW: Brasyl by Ian McDonald

MY RATING:

Brasyl has been receiving high praise from just about everyone since it’s publication. It’s easy to see why. Not content with writing just one interesting story, McDonald gives us three: Father Quinn is tasked with tracking down a renegade priest in the vastness of the 18th Century Amazonian watershed, Marcelina Hoffman is a reality TV producer for Canal Quatro in 2006 Brazil who seems to be haunted by herself, and Edson Oliveira de Freitas is a small time hood and part-time business man in a panoptic Brazil in 2032 who becomes enamored with a quantum computing queen. Each story is interesting in its own right, with Father Quinn’s being the most interesting of the three. McDonald has obviously researched Brazil extensively, and this research pays off as Brazilian culture and society come alive within McDonald’s prose. Portugese words and ideas are liberally spread throughout each setting which help the settings come to life.

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Book Review

Clone Wars Trailer

StarWars.com has posted a trailer for the Clone Wars, the upcoming animated series.

I’m not sure how much I like the animation style. They use the “realistic” 3D animation style that you’d find in a computer game rather than the cartoon-ish style of the Star Wars: Clone Wars miniseries they did back in 2005. To me, it just looks like a videogame. It’s just not realistic enough to be anything other than a distraction. It’s more like the creepy animation they did for The Polar Express. But that’s just me…    

Filed under: Star Wars

From About:

At Midnight on July 21, J.K. Rowling will give a reading of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in its entirety. The reading is expected to last until dawn and will be attended by by 500 randomly selected fans, all of whome will also receive a free signed copy of the book.

The event will take place at the National History Museum in London and is sponsored by Bloomsbuy and Scholastic publishing houses who publishing the Harry Potter books in the U.K. and U.S. respectively. Seven U.S. fans can enter to win round-trip tickets to London and hotel accomodations.

See also: SF Signal’s Harry Potter Outreach Program.

Filed under: Books

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