More Than A Movie: Cloverfield

We all know about the viral marketing campaign surrounding the film, and concerning the monster in, Cloverfield. Designed to drum up interest, it did just that, generating a record $46 millions dollars in its opening weekend. Sadly, I didn’t feel the movie lived up to the hype. The whole reason for the campaign, the monster, wasn’t even explained in the movie. Turns out, there was a reason for that.

Did you know there is a Cloverfield Alternate Reality Game tied into the marketing campaign? I didn’t either.

(Potential Spoilers to follow.)

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TOC: Celebration edited by Ian Whates

The British Science Fiction Association is celbrating its 50th anniversary with the publication of Celebration, an anthology of original fiction edited by Ian Whates. Check out the spiffy cover art by by Vincent Chong! Meanwhile, here’s what’s in it:

  1. The BSFA by An Appreciation by Pat Cadigan
  2. “The Jubilee Plot” by Stephen Baxter
  3. “Wilson at Woking” by Ken MacLeod
  4. “The Killing Fields” by Kim Lakin-Smith
  5. “Having the Time of His Life” by Ian Watson
  6. “The Dog Hypnotist” by Tricia Sullivan
  7. “The Crack Angel” by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
  8. “Keep Smiling with Great Minutes” by M. John Harrison
  9. “Living with the Dead” by Molly Brown
  10. “Next to Godliness” by Brian Stableford
  11. “Mellowing Grey” by Dave Hutchinson
  12. “At Shadow Cope” by Liz Williams
  13. “Peculiar Bone, Unimaginable Key” by Brian Aldiss
  14. “Deciduous Trees” by Martin Sketchley
  15. “Soirée” by Alastair Reynolds
  16. “On the Sighting of Other Islands” by Ian R. MacLeod
  17. “Fireflies” by Christopher Priest
  18. “The Man of the Strong Arm” by Adam Roberts
  19. An Afterword by Ian Whates

[via Torque Control]

SF Tidbits for 2/2/08

  • The latest issue of Clarkesworld Magazine has fiction from Stephen Graham Jones and Alexander Lumans; non-fiction from Richard Bowes; Tobias Buckell interviewing Catherynne M. Valente (available Monday); and really cool cover art by Serj Iulian.
  • Apex is having a “Buy a Book, Get a Magazine” sales special in February: For every book you purchase, you get a free copy of Apex Digest. [via Apex blog]
  • During the month of February, InterGalactic Medicine Show is going to make one story from each of their first 4 four issues freely available online – Two stories will be set free on February 1st, and two more on February 15th. [via Lit Soup]
  • Recently free fiction at ManyBooks.net: “The Helpful Robots” by Robert J. Shea (1957) and “Agnosis” by Darren R. Hawkins (2008).
  • Orbit Books has made the latest Iain M. Banks Culture novel, Matter, available for pre-release download on iTunes UK.
  • Jay Lake is collecting representative titles in sf/f sub-genres.
  • The Wall Street Journal profiles the late David Gemmell. [via Swivet]
  • UK SF Book News interviews Sarah Ash (Tracing the Shadow). [also via Swivet]
  • Illusion interviews Mindy Klasky: “My favorite science fiction involves the sociological effects of science on humankind.”
  • The Telegraph profiles J.G. Ballard.
  • Authors reviewing other books: Eric Brown (Helix) reviews Halting State by Charles Stross, Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber, and Debatable Space by Philip Palmer.
  • Star Wars is nothing if not an endless source of humor. Here’s a long, but funny radio call-in piece with some guy who likes to dress up and role play as Darth Vader. “It’s not ‘Darth’ Vader, it’s LORD Vader! Calling him ‘Darth’ is like calling him ‘jerk!'” [via Fazed]

REMINDER: The Chance to Win Free Stuff is Almost Over!

This is just to remind folks out there that the deadline for entering our giveaway of a Chronicles of The Necromancer Mega-Pack is approaching fast!

Enter to win a signed limited-edition advance review copy of The Summoner, a signed limited-edition advance review copy of The Blood King, a signed final copy of The Blood King, and a red, crystal ball “Soulcatcher”.

See the original post for details.

LOST Is Back

And I don’t just mean back on the air. After the awesome ‘second-half’ of season 3, we were left wondering whether the LOST writers could keep up the great storytelling going into ‘the end is in sight’ season 4. We needn’t have worried. The premier episode ‘The Beginning of the End’ picked up right where ‘Through the Looking Glass’ left off, both in terms of time (no time has past) and story (still as engrossing as ever).

First off, the obligatory ‘flash’ section is a flash foward, but how far forward we don’t find out until later. I think it was Lindeloff who described the story of LOST as a mosaic, with each episode and ‘flash’ sequence adding a piece to the picture. Now that we have flash forwards, we can see the genius of this strategy. With each ‘flash’, we’ve learned how the survivors came to be who they are, and now we’re seeing what they became, all the while keeping the main mysteries cloaked in uncertainty. The writers have found a way to tell a linear story in a non-linear manner, while giving us just enough to keep us going.

Not only was the writing stellar in this episode (snarktastic Ben was a highlight), but Jorge Garcia’s Hurley was the star. We see Hurley trying to come to grips with Charlie’s death on island, and we feel his grief and despair. Combine that with the island apparently taking an interest in Hurley makes his choosing between Ben and Jack bittersweet, poignent and powerful. His speech detailing his reasons was strong and moving. Contrast that with Hurley’s apparent descent back into mental instability in the future flash and we see Hurley grappling with possibly making a wrong decision back on the island and we see just how much Garcia has become Hurley. But of course, the writers give us even more questions, chiefly, just what are those who were rescued hiding? And if Hurley is hallucinating, how is it that others can see his hallucinations? Terrific stuff. I can’t wait to find out the answers.

The only thing I had an issue with was the whole ‘would be rescuer’ Naomi sub-plot. I found it very contrived that she would be able, after being knifed in the back and lying on the ground, to get up unnoticed, run off into the woods, lay a fake trail for Jack to follow, double back, climb a tree and lay in wait for Kate, then drop onto Kate and wrestle with her for the satellite phone. (As an aside, what is it with Kate wrestling other women? First Juliette, now Naomi. I’m not complaining mind you, just wondering.) This whole thread was there for the sole purpose of Naomi resetting the sat phone to a clear channel for the ‘rescuers’ to home in on. Afterwards, she conveniently dies. Again. Possibly. I didn’t buy it.

Still, that was a minor thread in this Hurly-icious episode. If you’ve been wondering if LOST is worth coming back to, I say ‘Yes!’ Get thee to Netflix or iTunes and catch up.

LOST is back.

Friday YouTube: Star Wars Benny Hill

[via Cynical-C]

Tube Bits for 02/01/2008

  • I was under the impression that Joss Whedon had stated, uncategorically, that Firefly, as a show, was over and that Serenity told the entire story that the TV series was going to tell. However, Summer Glau must not have heard that because she told Sy Fy Portal that Firefly is ‘never over‘ and there could be another incarnation on the horizon. I’m thinking, at this point, too much water has passed under the bridge and all the other cast members are off doing other things. I wouldn’t hold my breath.
  • The web-based series, Sanctuary, starring Amanda Tapping, has been picked up by the Sci Fi Channel for a full 13-episode season. The show will be re-tooled for Sci Fi and filming will begin in March. Of course, this means that Tapping will have to end her run on Stargate: Atlantis to concentrate on the new show.
  • J.J. Abrams’ new show, Fringe, continues to fill out its cast. Anna Torv will play the lead role of FBI Agent Olivia Warren. Along with Torv, a bunch of also lesser known actors have obtained roles: John Noble, Blair Brown and Jasika Nicole.
  • Is the writer’s strike a good thing for Galactica fans? Apparently the NBC-Universal is interested in resurrecting the spin-off Caprica series. With Galactica ending, this may help stem the loss of viewers. But only if it’s a good show.
  • LOST returned last night (well, it’s actually starting right now, as I type), but maybe you need something more to renew your interest in the show. How about the LA Times’ list of pop culture references in LOST? What other show is going to reference The Wizard of Oz and Myst in the same series?

TOC: Baen’s Universe 2.5, February 2008

Volume 2, Issue 5 (February 2008) of Jim Baen’s Universe has been posted. Here are the contents:

Science Fiction Stories:

  • “The Smartest Mob” by David Brin
  • “Premature Emergence” by Eric James Stone
  • “Waking Ophelia” by E. Catherine Tobler
  • “Spiderweb” by David Gerold

Fantasy Stories:

  • “The Temple of Thorns” by John Lambshead
  • “Hourglass” by Alma Alexander
  • “Sluggo” by Mike Resnick

Serials:

  • “Countdown to Armageddon, Episode Three” by Edward M. Lerner
  • “The Ancient Ones, Episode Five” by David Brin
  • “Fish Story, Episode Eleven, The End of Mankind” by Dave Freer, Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis

Introducing Stories:

  • “End of the Line” by Holly Messinger

Classic:

  • “Unprofessional” by Rudyard Kipling

Nonfiction:

  • Becoming Stewards of Our World, The Great Theme of the 21st Century, Part One by Gregory Benford
  • What I’ve Learned Interviewing Futurists by Stephen Euin Cobb

Columns:

  • Television Has a Lot to Answer For by Mike Resnick
  • The Literature of Fandom by Mike Resnick
  • Substantial Fire, or Why This Column Almost Didn’t Appear by Barry N. Malzberg
  • What’s New in The Future And You, February 2008 by Stephen Euin Cobb

SF Tidbits for 2/1/08

Are Books Just Too Darn Long?

Guardian Book Blog asks: Can the novella save literature?

And then I had an epiphany: could it be that we should look to classics like Ethan Frome to find the key to saving fiction from the worrisome tides of publishing sturm and drang, the statistics that indicate that people distracted by the trillions of choices provided by digital media are giving up on fiction? Might the way to stop our atrophied attention spans becoming terminally distracted be to simply publish more short books?

And best all, an upswing in the publication of novellas would not confirm the prejudices of those who rail against the dumbing-down of literature: novellas require an intelligent author and an intelligent reader to appreciate the power of brevity. Without exacting quite the level of austerity presented by the task of writing a good short story, novellas challenge writers to use words like wartime rations: with care and thought and the extra level of creative gusto required to ensure that they stretch to make a miniature read that is just as satisfying as something more substantial.

Robert Silverberg also echoes the virtues of the novella and I tend to agree with these sentiments. Short fiction can provide just a good a sci-fi jolt as a book can. But, geez, is literature really doomed if we continue book-length stories?

[via Likely Stories]

SF Tidbits for 1/31/08

What Do You Want To See From: LOST Season 4

It seems like forever since LOST was last on the air, but that’s about to change in a hurry as season 4 starts tomorrow night, at 9pm ET. When we last left our survivors, rescue seemed immanent, thanks to Charlie disabling the Looking Glass hatch, allowing communications with the outside. Of course, being LOST things aren’t what they seem, and the ‘rescuers’ may not be looking for the Losties at all. Cue end of season 3. So that brings us to season 4. There is a wealth of unanswered questions out there. But we’d like to know what you want to see from Season 4. Keep in mind that, with only 16 episodes this season (if we’re lucky) you can’t get all the answers. And just for Trent, I’ll go ahead and place ‘less clothes‘ (see accompanying picture) on his list.

Some of the things I want to see are:

  • Why is the island hidden from the outside world and how is that accomplished?
  • Where did the ‘native’ others come from and who don’t they appear to age?
  • Who, exactly, is Jacob?
  • What is the smoke monster?

I know theres a lot more, but these are the ones foremost in my mind. Although, from what I’ve read, the smoke monster may remain a mystery for awhile longer. What say you?

MIND MELD: Which Predictions Did Golden Age Science Fiction Get Right & Wrong?

Although science fiction fans know better, the general populace likes to think of sf as being written with the express purpose of predicting the future. So we posed the following question to a bunch of people in the since fiction community:

Science fiction is often accused of being The Great Predictor. Which predictions did Golden Age science fiction get right? Which ones were way off the mark?
James Gunn
James Gunn, Emeritus Professor of English at K.U., has published a dozen novels and half a dozen collections of stories, and has edited a dozen and a half books. His best-known novels are The Immortals, The Dreamers, The Listeners, Kampus, and The Joy Makers. The Immortals was filmed as The Immortal and became a TV series. He published The Science of Science-Fiction Writing in 2002 and edited Speculations on Speculation: Theories of Science Fiction in 2005. He has been president of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the Science Fiction Research Association. His most recent publications are Gift from the Stars and the reprint edition of The Listeners, both available from BenBella Books. In 2007 he was named a Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master by SFWA.

Science fiction has included a lot of speculations that look like predictions, and some of them have come to pass, most spectacularly spaceships and atomic power and bombs, but prediction is a side effect of creating plausible scenarios about future change, not its intent. SF has been more important as a means of persuading readers to think about issues and the ways in which they might develop and how that might affect the human condition. As Isaac Asimov said in 1973, “We live in a science-fiction world, a world very much like the one we were writing about in 1939.” It is a world that might well have been significantly different if science-fiction writers had not imagined it in detail. More specifically, to quote Isaac again, “Science-fiction writers and readers didn’t put a man on the moon all by themselves, but they created a climate in which the goal of putting a man on the moon became acceptable.” The same process is at work on other potential changes, in which, as John Campbell put it, futures are tested for human habitability. Or, as he went on, science-fiction is a way of practicing in a no-practice area. Some changes, like a parachute jump, have to be perfect the first time.

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Tube Bits for 01/30/2008

  • Sci Fi Wire recently visited the set of the new Knight Rider movie, and came away with some behind the scenes interviews with the cast and crew. The movie will air Feb. 17th at 9pm ET, scant three weeks away.
  • Sam Raimi will be dabbling in television, tentatively scheduled for this fall, with a show called Wizards First Rule, based on the The Sword Of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. It’s a live action version of the story, although there is little detail on how Raimi will structure the series. I’d like to see something, and by ‘like’ I mean I think it would be neat, that is akin to the proposed live action version of Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, where each book is a season. That could work, I think. Of course, I think that Wizards First Rule is the best of the bunch, so maybe they should just stick with that.
  • The Jim Henson Company and Apple iTunes have reached an agreement to bring Farscape and one of my favorite shows as a kid, Fraggle Rock, to iTunes. The shows went live last Monday (1/28/08) and episodes from the respective series first season are available. Although, I find it odd, reading the press release, that the half-hour Fraggle Rock episodes will cost the same as the hour-long Farscape ones.
  • The long and eagerly awaited season 4 of LOST is almost here. Buddy TV shows us the new faces who will be appearing this season. Of course, if you can’t wait, you can find out what happens next below (created by the Fine Brothers).
  • Did you ever wonder what happened to the crew of Moonbase Alpha after the series ended? TVSeriesFinale has the scoop. Video below:

SF Tidbits for 1/30/08

SF Tidbits for 1/29/08

Tube Bits for 01/29/2008

  • The cool DaVinci’s Automata blog points us to this really cool Japanese anime anthology, Robot Carnival. It contains nine shorts, set mostly to music, directed by several different people. It sounds rather cool.
  • You say you’ve always wanted your own, full-size replica of the the robot from Lost in Space? You’re in luck! The team at B9Creations has created a line of replica robots that you can purchase. Check out the pics, they look great. And all for a paltry $24.5K. Danger Will Robinson, indeed. But, you do get an internal 240 watt sound system and over 500 voice tracks by Richard Tyrfeld, the voice of the original robot. Now how does that $24.5k sound?
  • Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be awesome? All the time? Then this interview with Ryan McPartlin, Captain Awesome on Chuck, is for you. He talks about what it’s like to be known as ‘Awesome’ instead of Ryan. I have to say, I find his character to be funny, a bit blind to the obvious, but still a lovable goof. He steals the scenes he’s in. Watch Chuck.
  • The new History Channel series, UFO Hunters, has been moved up. It’s new premier date is now January 30th at 9pm ET. That’s tomorrow, at 9PM ET. Set your DVRs. I know my kids have.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles: More is revealed

After finally getting to watch the first 3 episodes, I think we can safely start to see a few things about the show that wasn’t apparent from just the pilot. Spoiler alert – I’m going to discuss a few things from the plot if you haven’t seen it.

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GIVEAWAY: Win a Chronicles of The Necromancer Mega-Pack!

Here’s your chance to win some bling!

One lucky SF Signal reader, chosen at random, will win a Chronicles of The Necromancer Mega-Pack, courtesy of author Gail Martin and Solaris Books. The Mega-Pack contains:

  • 1 signed limited edition advance review copy of The Summoner
  • 1 signed limited edition advance review copy of The Blood King
  • 1 signed final copy of The Blood King (which has about 20,000 words of new material from the ARC)
  • 1 red crystal ball “Soulcatcher”

THE FINE PRINT

To enter, send an email from a valid email account to [contest at sfsignal dot com] with your real name and full mailing address. We hate spam, too, so your information will only be used for this contest. Only one email per address will be accepted, others will be discarded. The contest is open to anyone, anywhere. One winner will be chosen at random from all entries submitted before Saturday February 2nd, 2008 11:59 PM CT (GMT-6). The winner will be notified by email.

REVIEW: The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton

REVIEW SUMMARY: Fans of Hamilton’s galaxy-spanning space operas will not be disappointed.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Various players and factions move about the galaxy, trying to decide what to do about the Void, a planet-eating region of space from which dreams emanate.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Excellent world building; cool tech; some tense, page-turning moments.

CONS: Takes a while to get this behemoth moving along.

BOTTOM LINE: Solid SF Space Opera.

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