SF Tidbits for 5/22/07

Filed under: Tidbits

When in Rome…Do as Elitists Do?

So Many Books points to the short PDF e-book ROMAN Reading: 5 Practical Skill for Transforming Life Through Literature by Nick Senger. His 5-step method of reading uses the acronym ROMAN, as in: Read the book, Outline the book, Mark the pages, Ask the right questions and Name your experiences. (Mark the book? Gasp!)

Senger is a schoolteacher who developed the ROMAN reading idea to help his students become better readers. Specifically, he teaches by encouraging the reading of classic literature, the best of which he determines by collating data from 13 “best of literature” lists. (Topping the list with 12 citations: Don Quixote by Cervantes, Iliad by Homer and Aeneid by Virgil.)

Encouraging reading is a good thing, but I detect a smack of reading elitism here, particularly in this passage:

Books are like neighbors, and your personal library is your neighborhood. Take a look at your bookshelves. What kind of neighborhood are you living in? Are you in a slum or in the suburbs? Who are your neighbors? Are they trash talkers or shrewd sages? If you live next door to Socrates, then invite him to dinner every night. If you live next to Dan Brown, then put your house on the market.

An interesting analogy, to be sure. My own taste in reading spans both the “lower” and “upper” ends of the literary spectrum, even if I do tend to spend more time at the “lower” end. (This even applies specifically within the band of science fiction itself, which some would consider wholly existing within the “lower” end — but that’s another story…) Sometimes I like reading Literature with a capital L. Other times I like reading a good yarn. Basically, I go wherever the whims of my mood take me.

And yet…

I sometimes hear people speak as if (or say outright that) reading is not a worthwhile activity unless you are reading Literature with a capital L. Enter self-doubt. Am I wasting my time by reading anything else? Am I denying myself the true value of reading? Am I becoming a literary snob? Is this self-doubt the beginning of a midlife crisis?

Filed under: Books

Literary Compass has compiled a list of 30 Must-Read Classics for Teenage Boys. Making the cut is a nice selection of 16 genre fiction titles:

  1. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  2. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
  3. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  4. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  5. The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
  6. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  7. The Belgariad by David Eddings
  8. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  9. The Once and Future King by T.H. White
  10. The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
  11. Flatland by Edwin Abbott
  12. The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov
  13. The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
  14. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  15. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  16. Time and Again by Jack Finney

Check out the original post for explanations and the complete list.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 5/21/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Which of these is the coolest scene in film/TV?

RESULTS

(280 total votes)

The Firefly fans have spoken! As mentioned previously, they flocked to this poll like there was no tomorrow. So with this week’s poll, we’re gonna give them some love.

But first, some comments this week:

“Scene from Chronicles of Riddick (2nd movie title?) where he is introduced into the death ship..very gothic/cyberpunk… the movie stank, but this was a groovy scene.” – Doug

“No fair pitting poor Tron against the Matrix, they were both revolutionary in their time. It seems I picked the underdog in Tron. I even had the Intellivision games. Good times.” – Richard

“Star Wars Episode V: Darth Vader revealing himself as Luke’s father.” – Martin T.

“From Alien: the scene of finding the pods; creeping around in that green-lit foggy space in an alien vessel, building up to the initial opening of the egg. The stomach bursting scene was just shock value.” – Bluejack

“The final chase and fight in Blade Runner is disturbingly intense and more weighted with both suspense and significance–both moral and dramatic–than those other sequences. Ford and Hauer give desperate performances.” – Bill P.

“1984. opening scene when winston smith is writing in his diary a letter to the future. (the version made in the 80′s)…” – Steve

“Adama jumping Galactica into the stratosphere and launching all the vipers to save the slaves in Battlestar Galactica season 3. Didn’t see it coming, and it was a very tense moment.” – Dale

“These are all lame. Deckard meeting Rachel for the first time in Blade Runner beats them to paste.” – J.H. Woodyatt

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about your favorite Firefly episode!

Filed under: Polls

FireflyFans.net

If the participation levels of this week’s poll are any indication, the fanbase of Joss Whedon’s space western Firefly is still going strong.

Most of the votes resulted from this thread on the fan site FireflyFans.net. Fans came out in force to voice their opinion. Given that only one of this week’s poll’s choices was Firefly-related, their decision was quite easy. :)

This week, we’ll be making it a bit harder for them with a Favorite Firefly Episode poll. Watch for it beginning tomorrow!

In the meantime, check out FireflyFans.net and revel in all the shiny goodness.

Filed under: FireflyWeb Sites

Your task: Count the number of times someone says “Engage.”

Filed under: TV

A Science Fiction Odyssey

The website A Science Fiction Odyssey chronicles the ambitious reading project of Jeff Vehige to read the novels that won the Hugo and/or Nebula Awards.

I’m envious! I’ve thought of doing a reading project like this for some time but the idea of forcing myself to read from a set list always makes me back away like the commitment-phobe that I am. I choose books to fit my reading mood and like the ability to go wherever that takes me. (Which is usually to the used bookstore. :)) Jeff also mentions he will be reading other books, too, but it sounds like he’s more dedicated to the award winners than I would be. More power to him! Good luck, Jeff!

I should note also that the thing that caught my eye was the huge cover graphic for Joe Haldeman’s Camouflage by Joe Haldeman — mainly because it’s on my to-read pile. No, not that one…another one. What, you don’t have multiple to-read piles?

Filed under: Web Sites

SF Tidbits for 5/19/07

Filed under: Tidbits

New Heroes Coming To Heroes

A couple of weeks ago, John was all atwitter when he thought that a new hero was being introduced on Heroes to help fight Sylar (turns out it was an old hero, Molly Walker). I wonder how he’ll react to the news that new heroes will be introduced in the season finale?

Apparently, as Tim Kring has said before, each season is like a volume, telling one story. The next season, called Heroes: Generations (no word on whether Kirk dies in this season too), will focus more on the newcomer’s story. As a result, new characters will be added, and some old ones will be, uh, ‘removed’ (my word, not theirs). The rational is actually quite a good one, as Kring says:

The idea was that we wanted to make it easy for viewers to be able to come on in the second season. And we thought if we wrapped the show too tightly around itself so that you had to watch 23 episodes before, I would be harder for new viewer to find the show. And we always want to be a show that has the barrier of entry low enough so that new viewers can join if they want.

In other words, how to do a serialized show without being completely serial. I kinda like this idea as it makes it easier for the new viewers to get into the show without having to slog through the previous season(s). This was the crux of Scott’s comment on my previous LOST post: How do you get back into it? With Heroes, its not a big deal. In theory anyway, we’ll see how it actually works.

With that in mind, we get a glimpse that the season ending cliffhanger my be a bit different too. Rather than a ‘OMG! Who’s going to live???’ ending, I bet we get more of a ‘Where do they go from here?’ type. I’m interested to see how they do this and I hope season 2 does go down the toilet.

And it’s nice to see the ratings tick upwards a bit too, although they are down from the initial episodes. What confuses me are the people who want to watch Dancing With The Stars over other, better shows. Heck, The Bachelor beat out Heroes. What?

Filed under: Heroes

Review: Gradisil by Adam Roberts

MY RATING:

Gradisil is, to me, the magnum opus of hard, mundane science fiction. The book tells the story of three generations of the Gyeroffy family, set against the backdrop of humanity’s colonization of low Earth orbit, with heavy doses of revenge and revolution thrown in to the mix. First and foremost, the amount of thought that Roberts has expended in building the setting of Gradisil is very impressive. In Roberts’ vision of the future, amateur rocketeers are the vanguard for permanent human presence in space. Foregoing the use of chemical rockets, which are bulky and costly, they instead rely on ships that pull themselves into orbit using the Earth’s magnetic field. The pratical upshot of this being that most launch facilities are placed as close to the poles as possible for the best grip. Roberts uses the Norse idea of Yggdrasil , the world tree, as a metaphor for the use of the magnetic field as pathway to space. And the title of the book, Gradisil, is a young girl’s attempt to pronounce Yggdrasil. This use of Norse mythology fits brilliantly within the confines of the story, giving the reader an easy and memorable way to grasp the idea of ‘climbing’ up the Earth’s magnetic fields.

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Book Review

Star Trek: Of Gods and Men is a three-part unofficial mini-series that stars many actors from the Trek universe, some reprising their roles:

The series was directed by Tim Russ (Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager) whos also stars as Tuvok. (See the Making Movies blog’s interview with Tim Russ.) Also reprising their roles are Nichelle Nichols (Uhura), Walter Koenig (Pavel Chekov), Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand), Alan Ruck (Captain John Harriman from Star Trek: Generations). Other Trek actors also appear, though not as their original characters: Garrett Wang (Ensign Harry Kim from Voyager), Chase Masterson (Leeta from DS9), Lawrence Montaigne (Stonn, a Vulcan, from the classic Trek episode “Amok Time”) and Gary Graham (Ambassador Soval from Enterprise). Star Trek veterans also appear behind the camera.

Here’s the trailer:

[via Boldy Go]

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 5/18/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Rest In Peace: Lloyd Alexander

Sad news…

Author Lloyd Alexander has passed away.

Author Lloyd Alexander died 17 May 2007. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 30 January 1924, he was a children’s fantasy author for half a century (though he did also write several adult novels). He won the 1970 Newbery Award, and was a National Book Award Finalist, for The High King.

His books include three well-known series—The Chronicles of Prydain, The Westmark Trilogy, and The Vesper Holly Series—as well as at least 24 other books. His latest, The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio, is scheduled to be published by his long-time publisher, Henry Holt, in August 2007.

See also: Wikipedia entry

[via SF Scope]

Filed under: Books

Sanctuary: SF TV For The Internet

Sanctuary is a new, online only science fiction show starring Amanda Tapping of SG-1 fame. Having only watched the trailer, all I can say is it looks to be a mash-up off science fiction and horror/supernatural genres. What did impress me was the production values and the SFX, which look to exceed any SciFi Original movies. I bet the story will too, but I can’t say for sure.

Additionally, the creators have a blog and a dedicated fan site so that viewers can interact with the actors and producers of the show. Now, many TV shows have this already, LOST and Heroes come to mind, but Sanctuary seems to have been created with the fan community in mind. I think I read somewhere that the fans may be able to have some impact on the show’s direction. That might be an interesting thing.

I’m also interest to see how the producers plan to make money so they can make more episodes. I’m not sure who’s bankrolling them or how they can afford to pay the actors and post-production companies. But if they can make money, I think we’ll see more of this kind of production. If there is money to be made by releasing your show directly on the web, then the floodgates will open. This will be like the introduction of cable and it’s 100′s of channels, only much bigger.

Just think, there are many TV show concepts that never make it to the pilot stage. With an alternate release stream, we could see hundreds of new shows all over the web and all free from the constraints of studio meddling. SF TV stands to gain quite a bit from this as there are lots of things that should be on the air but aren’t.

I realize this may not happen for a long time yet, but I’d certainly like to see it happen. Otherwise, we’re stuck with SciF (now with more monsters and wrestling!) for the foreseeable future….

Filed under: TVWeb Sites

Hollywood Wears Its Geek Cred with Honor

Well, some of them do anyway…

Despite recent aversions to being rat-holed into the sci-fi genre, some Hollywood names embrace their science fiction labels:

It’s officially cool to like science fiction and fantasy now. Shows like Heroes and Lost are in the top 10 and the biggest movie opening of all time is a comic book.

Even the stars are into it, as attendees at the 2007 Saturn Awards proved. The show, honoring achievements in genre movies and television, attracted glamorous nominees and guests who revealed their affinities for material that used to get kids beaten up in school.

The article goes on to quote actors about their love of genre. Admittedly, these are people being interviewed at a genre awards ceremony, but I still find it refreshing to hear people voice their love of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Filed under: MoviesTV

Here’s another installment of the IMDB game

My job: I went to IMDB and looked up 10 movies. Listed below are four official “Plot Keywords” for each movie.

Your job: Name these movies!

  1. Friendship / Hiding In Closet / Quarantine / Bicycle
  2. Violence / Sociopath / Invented Language / Eye
  3. Graphic Violence / Cyberpunk / Toxic Waste / Human Android Relationship
  4. Dystopian / Totalitarian / Illegal Immigrant / Hope
  5. Science Runs Amok / Theme Park / Tropical Island / Child In Peril
  6. Science Runs Amok / Theme Park / Evil Robot / Gunslinger
  7. Gang / Feral Child / Muscle Car / Australian Outback
  8. Kidnapping / Asylum / Animal Rights / Time Travel
  9. Interdimensional Travel / Escaped Mental Patient / Rocket Car / Watermelon
  10. Lincoln Memorial / Totalitarianism / Ice Cave / Man Hunt

SPOILER WARNING: The comments will contain some of the answers as people make guesses. When all titles have been guessed successfully, I’ll post the them in the comments as well.

Filed under: Movies

SF Tidbits for 5/17/07

Filed under: Tidbits

The Gamera Theme Song

Nothing lifts the spirits out of the middle-of-the-week doldrums like a giant, space-traveling turtle!

“Come on, Space Monsters! Bring it on! Let’s cut and poke! Okay, go-go-go…”

[via PoeTV]

Filed under: Movies

SF Tidbits for 5/16/07

Filed under: Tidbits

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