It’s a Sci Fi Christmas – Land of the Giants

Recently, I had the opportunity to join the closed beta for NBC’s new streaming video service, Hulu. It’s been called a YouTube competitor, but that’s really an inappropriate description. What it is, is a repository for a ton of TV show episodes, both old and new, that you can stream to your PC or, even cooler, embedded on a website, such as ours. This is awesomeness beyond belief.

So, as our Christmas gift to you, every hour or so for the next few hours we’ll be posting an episode, or two, of a classic or influential science fiction TV show. And what we show you is just a taste of the library Hulu has to offer. I’m impressed so far, I think you will be too.

First up, an Irwin Allen classic: Land of the Giants.

(Yes, you’ll have to put up with the occasional commercial. Deal with it, it’s free! And all videos are after the jump in deference to our readers with slower connections.)

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Filed under: TV

REVIEW: Keeping it Real by Justina Robson

REVIEW SUMMARY: Not your typical fantasy novel that is extremely imaginative, this book falls a little short for me.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Following a rift in Texas the world we know is joined with 5 other planes filled with fantasy creatures. One of the elves named Zal has become a major rock star whose life is threatened when elements of his home plane move to kill him. Government agent and cyborg Lila Black is sent to help him and ends up with far more than she bargained for dealing with the sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll world that Zal and his pals live in.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Highly unique fantasy setting, very well written dialog, often hilarious

CONS: Simple in structure, character growth didn’t seem genuine

BOTTOM LINE: Justina can write (far better than I ever well) and there are lots of things to like in this book. But the characters didn’t seem genuine enough to me and as a result I ended up feeling somewhat underwhelmed with the total book.

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Filed under: Book Review

Merry F#$%n’ Christmas, William Shatner

God Bless WIlliam Shatner, everyone.

Here’s a clip from Denis Leary’s Merry F#$%n’ Christmas Special.

[via Milk & Cookies]

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 12/25/07

Filed under: Tidbits

John Picacio’s Well Built City Triptych

As mentioned in the past three tidbit posts, Artist John Picacio has published the unabridged cover triptych for Jeffrey Ford‘s Well Built City trilogy, which is being re-issued by Golden Gryphon. Sweet….

Click the image for a larger version.

Filed under: Books

Monday YouTube: Have an Atari/E.T. Christmas

[via Poe TV]

Filed under: GamesTV

A Christmas Gift: First Novels/First Time Authors

Christmas is fast approaching, and as the saying goes, it’s better to give than receive.

We here at SF Signal receive a lot of books every year. So many, we can’t possibly hope to read them all, even with a ‘team’ of readers (and by team, I don’t mean Harriet Klausner). However, as many writers will tell you, getting that first novel published is thrilling, even if it takes a long time to happen. With that said, we do read first novels/first time authors from time to time, so, in the spirit of giving, we’d like to give some props to the first novels/first time authors we’ve seen this year.

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Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 12/24/07

  • World’s Biggest Bookstore’s Sci-Fi Fan Letter interviews Joel Shepherd. “Fantasy tends to be more lyrical, which is fun as a writer, because you can just let the words play with each other through the sentences. My SF tends to be a little more brutal and direct.”
  • If ever we needed a reason to classify the Indiana Jones movies as science fiction, it’s this way-cool book The Complete Making of Indiana Jones by J.W. Rinzler, slated for a May 2008 release. Rinzler is the man behind The Making Of Star Wars.
  • Recently free fiction at ManyBooks.net: “…After a Few Words…” by Randall Garrett (1962).
  • The latest Odyssey SF/F Writing Workshop Podcast features Michael A. Burstein on The Plot Skeleton.
  • Quasar Dragon offers some Christmas treats for sf fans.
  • L.A.’s the Place calculates Six Degrees of Inspiration with Richard Matheson. “Who do Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, and George A. Romero all have in common? His name is Richard Matheson and his influence is legendary.”
  • The January 16th KGB Bar reading will feature Marly Youmans and Dan Braum
  • Artist John Picacio shows off the 3rd Jeffrey Ford cover, this one for The Beyond, part of his Well-Built City trilogy. When all three covers (The Physiognomy, Memoranda, & The Beyond) are placed side-by-side-by-side, it creates a larger image, which Picacio and Ford will post soon.
  • I received 92 credits on The Sci Fi Sounds Quiz. How much of a Sci-Fi geek are you?

Filed under: Tidbits

POLL RESULTS: Do Online Book Reviews Affect Book Buying?

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Has an online book review ever influenced your decision to buy a book?

RESULTS

(118 total votes)

A few comments this week:

“No, but I have checked several books out of the library based on online reviews” – Cynthia Dalton

“I read a ton of books and only trust the reviewers I know from the web; SFSignal; Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist; Fantasy Book Critic; Bookgasm and a handful of others. You bet they influence my book buying, and I’m glad they do.” – David

“I learned about ‘Eifelheim’ through an online book review.” – Gabriel McKee

“Any online review so long as its not Harriet Klausner.” – Trey
[John D says: Here, here!]

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about holiday reading: more or less?

Filed under: Polls

Sunday YouTube: Hellboy 2 Trailer

Filed under: Movies

Tube Bits For 12/23/2007

  • This one is for all you Dr. Who fans out there. If only your parents were as accommodating as little George Baker’s of his Dr. Who obsession. George’s parents redecorated his bedroom to look like the inside of the Tardis. That is awesome. And Geroge even looks like a Time Lord in training!
  • Freema Agyeman (Dr. Martha Jones on Torchwood) has posted a trailer for series (season) two of Torchwood. Looks rather interesting. Anyone disappointed in the first season going to watch the second?
  • The new Knight Rider show is in full production mode, and Popular Mechanics has the specs for the new KITT vs. old KITT. One thing: Sorry new KITT, if you’re going to be a true American muscle car, you simple must be rear-wheel drive. None of this wimpy all-wheel-drive, it’s wussy.
  • Speaking of the old KITT, there appears to be an auction on eBay where one of the KITTs used during the original series is apparently up for sale. And at only a hair over $25k, it’s a steal! Did I mention it has rear-wheel drive?
  • January 31st is fast approaching/moving slower then Christmas for LOST fans. Luckily, BuddyTV has a bunch of season 4 premier pictures to whet your appetite for its, albeit strike shortened, return! (Checks calendar again. Dang.)
  • As if the pictures weren’t enough, MovieWeb has a new Season 4 trailer for LOST. It has scenes you’ve probably seen on the commercials, plus a bunch of other, new stuff. (Checks calendar. Dang again.)

Filed under: Tube Bits

SF Tidbits for 12/23/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Book Trailer: Sly Mongoose

Once again showing his web savvy, Tobias Buckell has put together a trailer for his upcoming book, Sly Mongoose. He’s running a contest for a soundtrack to the trailer, so give it a view and have a go . Oh, and I might add, like the two books set in the same universe that came before this, this one also has a cover made from 100% awesome.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 12/22/07

  • Del Rey has an interview Josh Conviser, author of Empyre . “Empyre is spy-fi — cyberpunk spiced with Bourne Identity-style intrigue. “
  • At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Joel Shepherd, author of Killswitch.
  • Wired Science interviews Greg Bear.
  • John Dalmas has been added to the list of sf/f authors who blog. (Thanks, Fred!)
  • Recently free fiction at ManyBooks.net: “Instinct” (1959) by George O. Smith, “Unborn Tomorrow” (1969) and “Revolution” (1960) by Mack Reynolds, “The Short Life” (1955) by Francis Donovan, and “Beyond Pandora” (1962) by Robert J. Martin.
  • Let’s hope that this article on homeopathy is the last time that science fiction and America’s Funniest Home Videos are used together: “And yet, we really like science fiction. We like to believe in magical solutions and discoveries that break the mold – that there could be something out there that we find that no one else has thought of yet, or observed, or harnessed. This drive to discover is a wonderful force for investigation and scientific advancement, but it is a double edged sword. The other side can result in irrational beliefs, magical thinking, and snake oil science.”
  • Here is a list of 10 Science Fiction Clichés to Avoid.
  • Larry at OF Blog of the Fallen rounds up a collection of “Best of the year” lists. This is the only time of the year that I am an optimist. Under the false impression that the holidays will leave me enough time to read, I plan on posting my Best Reads of the Year in early January.
  • Artist John Picacio shows off his cover for Jeffrey Ford’s Memoranda, part of his Well-Built City trilogy. When all three covers (The Physiognomy, Memoranda, & The Beyond) are placed side-by-side-by-side, it creates a larger image, which Picacio and Ford will post soon. Cool.

Filed under: Tidbits

Heroes Season 3 Sneak Peek

Did you know there was a Jules Verne Adventures Film Festival? Well there was, from Dec. 5 – 15 in Los Angeles. Aside from screening many films and appearances by several notable genre figures, there was also a panel on Heroes. Tim Kring, Jeph Loeb and several of the cast members where on stage to talk all things Heroes. But the most interesting thing they did was to screen a teaser for season 3, called “Villains”. Someone in the audience managed to capture the promo on video. See it below (hurry before YouTube yanks it!):

Looks like Sylar is back and just as bad as ever, but, I don’t know. This really doesn’t do a lot for me. At least there’s no evidence of a Nikki revival.

Filed under: HeroesTV

Friday YouTube: Galaxy Beat

Here’s part one of the 1994 sci-fi comedy pilot Galaxy Beat starring Gregory Harrison, Tracy Scoggins, Roddy McDowall as “Voice of Cod” and Michael Dorn as “Voice of The Chief”. Follow the YouTube links for the remaining parts. Or not.

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 12/21/07

  • Sean Williams shows off the cover of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Is there a special term we give to media tie-in novels based on a games that are based on movies?
  • Lou Anders, meanwhile, shows off the cover of his upcoming anthology Sideways in Crime.
  • Dark Roasted Blend interviews John C. Wright: “I would venture to say that if you are reading a yarn where there are no space-pirates and no space-princesses, if the Dinosaurs of Mars never make an appearance, if no space-marine shoots through the core of the planet with a hand-weapon in order to kill an enemy standing on another continent, if no ancient alien artifacts larger than worlds stir into life after a million years of dormancy, and if not a single planet is blasted into molten asteroids, no star into a nova star, no galaxy into a Seyfert galaxy, no universe into a new Big Bang, then what you are reading might not be space opera. Space opera should contain at least one of these elements.”
  • Bldg Blog interviews Kim Stanley Robinson about climate change, the influence of Greek island villages on his descriptions of Martian base camps, about life as a 21st century primate in the 24/7 “techno-surround”, how we must rethink utopia as we approach an age without oil, whether “sustainability” is really the proper thing to be striving for, and what a future archaeology of the space age might find. Mundane SF responds: “So pay attention all you Science Fiction writers of the future. This is the future, so put aside your time machines, talking robots, and so forth, and tell us what it’s really going to be like.” [via Futurismic]
  • The Ballardian offers the 2-part essay Waste in the Fiction of J.G. Ballard: “For Ballard, waste registers a process, a cycle, a movement, and system in transition: durability and permanence have no place in a fictional world that revels in the power of waste to negotiate and renegotiate value.”
  • Dragon Page podcast-interviews Karen Miller (The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage).
  • Here’s a very brief article on How to Write Alternate History.
  • Forbes lists Cory Doctorow among their list of web celebrities. [via SF Scope]
  • Over at the Guardian, Gemma Malley lists Top 10 Dystopian Novels for Teenagers. (Short version: 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, The Children of Men by PD James, The Chrysalids by John Wyndam, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Children’s Story by James Clavell, and The Diary of Anne Frank.) [via Libertas]
  • Ellen Datlow has posted pictures of the December 19th KGB reading with Naomi Novik and Christopher Barzak.
  • Roddenberry.com will be posting an online comic strip illustrated by David Reddick. It’s called “Gene’s Journal” and debuts in January.

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 12/21/2007

  • The writers’ strike has caused many shows to end early. Heroes managed to make their last episode a season ender. But what’s in store for the third season? The Stark Gossip Blog let’s us know whats in store. Apparently, it will be a season full of villains. Which could be good, or bad.
  • Speaking of Heroes, their ARG continues apace, expanding the storyline even as the writers are taking their break. To catch up, there is an Evolutions walkthrough to get you up to speed. Additionally, the 2nd volume of the Heroes online magazine has gone live.
  • Season two of Torchwood is approachin and SF Universe has cast photos. Well, season 2 in America anyway, which starts on January 26th.
  • If that doesn’t get you excited, maybe this will. Illusion TV, the on demand science fiction channel, will be bringing back classic Dr. Who, starting in January ’08. They will start with the series “Tomb of the Cybermen”. Good news for Who fans.

Filed under: Tube Bits

REVIEW: Jim Baen’s Universe #10

MY RATING:

The December 2007 issue of Jim Baen’s Universe (Issue #10, also known as Volume 2, Number 4) contains 13 pieces of short fiction and 7 non-fiction articles. Eleven of the stories are reviewed below. (I did not partake of the classic reprint “A Holy Terror” by Ambrose Bierce and the “Fish Story” serial by Dave Freer, Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis, now in its tenth episode.)

The issue was good overall, despite the poor impression left by the longest story. This speaks highly of the other stories, I think. That said, the only standout story was “Darwin’s Suitcase,” perhaps because time travel is a favorite sub-genre of mine and Elizabeth Malartre does it well.

Rounding out the issue were several articles including one by Mike Resnick wondering if there aren’t too many Hugo categories, especially when relatively few awards are given to writers, the people for whom the award was created. There’s also another “free fiction” article by Eric Flint, who makes a strong case against the naysayers of making science fiction freely available online.

Individual story reviews follow…

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Filed under: Book Review

Behind The Scenes: I Am Legend

If you’re like me, then you’re curious as to how film makers actually shoot the scenes that end up on the big screen. I find it fascinating all the mundane hard work that goes into making memorable scenes. Scenes like the opening to I Am Legend, where Will Smith is traipsing around a deserted New York in search of some venison on the hoof.

After seeing just how desolate the New York streets looked, I wondered how they managed to make them look that way. Along comes the New York Times’ review of I Am Legend. If you look on the left hand side, about midway down, you’ll see a section called ‘Multimedia’, with an ‘interactive’ video covering the opening sequence. Or, you can click here to launch the feature. Two tabs allow you to switch between the ‘Video’ of the scene, and the ‘Commentary’ by the director, Francis Lawrence. Lawrence goes into some detail on how they achieved the deserted look, which involved CGI and good old fashioned street closings. I can only imagine the traffic nightmare that caused in New York.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this look behind the scenes. Hopefully the DVD will go into more detail.

Filed under: Movies

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