Tube Bits For 08/23/07

  • Over on Amazon’s Screening Room Blog, Stephanie Reid-Simons is

    giving the Flash Gordon a chance. I disagree with the first reason, somewhat disagree with the second, and the third doesn’t matter if the show is crap.

  • The Age.com (Australian) has a short article on David Duchovny and his new Showtime show Californication. Lots of adult themed discussion here so be warned.
  • Buddy TV looks at the recasting of Jamie Sommers’ sister in Bionic Woman and decides the show is going for style over substance. And, given the facts, I think they are right. I’ll still tune in to see what the show is like.
  • Sy Fy Portal takes a look at genre series that died too soon. Lot’s of interesting shows here, many of which I’ve never seen. At all. I may have to check them out. Somehow.
  • We’ve mentioned Sanctuary, the online only SF-ish series, before. All of the episodes are available for purchase from the home sight, and now, many of them are available in HD via Vuze, the online ‘network’ brought to you by the guys behind the bittorrent client, Azureus. The first episode is free to watch. Mmm, free HD goodness. [Thanks to Shanee Ben-Zur for the tip!]

Filed under: Tube BitsTV

The Sequel To Larklight Is Coming Soon!

That’s right, Brass Goggles clues us in that the awesome Larklight will have a sequel in October. Check out the sub-title: A Stirring Adventure of Spies, Time Travel and Curious Hats. What’s not to love about that?

And given the terrific universe Reeve has created for this series, I’m excited to read this book when it comes out. Aether-ships, pirates, space spiders and interesting characters made the first one a joy to read. Starcross looks to have more of the same steampunky goodness of the first one. Mark you calendars for October 16th!

Filed under: Books

Tube Bits For 08/22/07

  • Last season’s Who Wants To Be A Superhero? winner, Feedback, will make his movie debut this Saturday on Sci Fi. This isn’t a Feedback movie, rather the actor, Matthew Atherton will be starring in the Sci Fi movie, Mega Snake, which is pretty much all you need to know to decide whether to watch or not. I’d choose not.
  • Sci Fi Weekly has an interview with Amanda Tapping, Michael Shanks and Christopher Judge on 10 years of Stargate SG-1. SG-1 fans ought to find something interesting here. [Via Slice Of Sci Fi]
  • Paul Bagosy details his threshold of suspension of disbelief, and uses an episode of Eureka to do so. In my mind, he chose a weaker episode, but Eureka isn’t really about the science, its about the characters. I can deal with the technobabble because I like the people in the show.
  • Now all you SF fans in Japan will have your very own science fiction channel. Pray that they don’t make ‘original’ movies like Sci Fi. There’s no telling the horrors of low budget rubber monster movies waiting to be unleashed on an unsuspecting Japan.
  • Battlestar Galactica will live on after its series finale, but in the form of a six issue comic series. The comic will fill details leading up to the Cylon attack.

Filed under: Tube BitsTV

A Poll of U.S. Reading Habits

CNN has the skinny on a poll of reading habits in the U.S.

Some interesting take-aways:

  • One in four adults say they read no books at all in the past year.
  • Of those who did read, women and seniors were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.
  • The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn’t read any, the usual number read was seven.
  • Analysts attribute the listlessness of book sales to competition from the Internet and other media, the unsteady economy and a well-established industry with limited opportunities for expansion.
  • Among those who said they had read books, the median figure — with half reading more, half fewer — was nine books for women and five for men.
  • People from the South read a bit more than those from other regions, mostly religious books and romance novels.
  • Whites read more than blacks and Hispanics
  • Democrats and liberals typically read more books than Republicans and conservatives.
  • Men tend to prefer nonfiction.

Filed under: Books

Harken back to yesteryear with this documentary that chronicles television science fiction. Included for free is a peek at a Superman Frosted Flakes commercial and some Star Trek bloopers!

[via Drivers and Sundry]

Filed under: TV

Thoughts on Doctor Who, Season 3 (so far)

I’m still lovin’ Doctor Who.

After a strong season two finish, I was waiting for season 3 to start and, so far (8 episodes in) I am not disappointed. Here’s why:

  • So far the episodes have a nice mixture of adventure, special effects and humor. And Daleks. (Why is it that a Time Lord is ever surprised to learn that they are once again not yet completely eliminated?) My daughter and I have enjoyed all the episodes so far. This is one show she actually looks forward to. I like to think it’s because of time spent with her old man instead of pig people and one-eyed squid heads.
  • In the “Runaway Bride” premiere, The Doctor was essentially flying solo. It was a nice break from the Doctor/sidekick formuala.
  • Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) is turning out to be a decent sidekick. She’s a tough, likabale female character – easily able to meet any situation.
  • It looks like they are trying to create a multi-episode story arc with the mysterious people who know about the Doctor and who are trying to track him via Martha’s mother. Insert ominous music here. Perhaps this will be this season’s “Lone Bad Wolf”?
  • In one episode (“Daleks in Manhattan” or “Evolution of the Daleks” – can’t recall), the writers made an effort (however brief) to show that the sonic screwdriver is not the Universal Fixxer-Upper Device by having the Doctor drop it beyond his reach. He had to find other means to foil the Daleks. Of course, Martha handed it back to him just before the episode ended. Welcome to equilibrium.
  • The show is still loads of campy fun and one of the few shows we keep watching every week. Unlike a certain other show I could name. (Ah-Aaaaah!)

Filed under: Doctor Who

Places Mentioned in Books

Google Earth now includes a “book layer” that “allows you to explore locations through the lens of the world’s books”, as per Google LatLong Blog:

Now when you turn on the “Google Book Search” layer in Google Earth (found in the “Featured Content” folder in the “Layers” menu), you’ll see small book icons scattered around the globe. When you click on one of the book icons, a pop-up balloon will display a snippet of text from one of Book Search’s public domain books that references that location. You’ll also find links to the Google Book Search page for that snippet so that you can learn more about what it has to say about the city or town.

For example, let’s say that you’re interested in Detroit, Michigan. After flying there in Google Earth, you’ll find that one of the book icons is for “The Writings of Thomas Jefferson.” Clicking on the book icon brings up the pop-up balloon with the following text snippet:

Hmmm…I wonder how many science fiction book references there are…

[via O'Reilly Radar]

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 8/22/07

Filed under: Tidbits

New Heroes Season 2 Promo

NBC has released a new promo video for season 2 of Heroes. You can see the video below. It’s very cinematic, but surprisingly content free. Although Hiro wielding his sword is always cool.

Filed under: HeroesTV

REVIEW: Jim Baen’s Universe #7

Jim Baen’s Universe made a splash last year as an online-only, DRM-free short fiction magazine. It has since attracted big-name authors and numerous accolades. The June 2007 issue (Issue #7, also known as Volume 2, Number 1) is my first opportunity to try it out.

Ever since my first short-story-a-day project, I’ve warmed up to reading fiction online. What’s particularly nice is the ability to download a version to my PDA, so I always have it with me. It’s also nice to be able pull it up on a full size monitor when the situation allows. Jim Baen’s Universe proves that online delivery mechanisms can work and work well.

The fiction (reviewed below) is grouped into sections: science fiction, fantasy, classic, serial (a story I did not read since I missed the first 6 parts), and first-time authors. Some illustrations (some decent, some amateurish) accompany the stories. Rounding out the issue are non-fiction pieces by Gregory Benford, Stephen Euin Cobb, Eric Flint, Barry N. Malzberg and Mike Resnick. Resnick also offers a great editorial about the silliness of defining science fiction, a genre which refuses to be put in a “straightjacket”. The closing quote sums it up nicely: “About the only valid definition [of science fiction] that I’m willing to accept is this: all of modern, mainstream, and realistic fiction is simply a branch, a category, or a subset of science fiction.”

But the real proof with fiction anthologies – printed or online – is in the content. Since my reading preferences tend towards science fiction, it might not be a big surprise that the sf stories were found to be more enjoyable overall, particularly Mike Resnick’s heartfelt “The Big Guy” and the adventure “Running Water for L.A.” by Eric Witchey. However, one of the fantasy stories (“The Littlest Wyrm-Maid” by Rebecca Lickiss) did surprise me by being lots of fun.

Reviewlettes follow…

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Book Review

SF Tidbits for 8/21/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 08/21/07

  • In case you’ve been under a rock, it seems that Veronica Mars‘ Kristen Bell is set to appear on Heroes. She’ll play a mysterious yet sexy stranger who commits a horrible crime in a multi-episode story arc. Image of Ms. Bell as Princess Leia (you’re welcome John) courtesy of GiveMeMyRemote.com.
  • BuddyTV analyzes Chuck‘s timeslot. As a lead in to Heroes, you’d think it would have an advantage. But its up against the Dancing With The Stars juggernaut, so its already fighting for ratings leftovers before it even starts. This is one show I’m looking forward to seeing. NBC can chalk up my infinitesimal rating point right now.
  • Following in the hallowed footsteps of the Sci Fi Channel, RHI Entertainment announced a slate of made for Video On Demand movies. Each movie will be made for about $3 million a piece, which is what Sci Fi strives for in its cinematic offerings. After their runs, the movies will be made available on iTunes at to cable channels like Sci Fi. But do we really need more Mansquito-quality movies, from providers not named Sci Fi?
  • 80’s Actual takes a look at the 1980’s version of Dr. Who, post Tom Baker. They call it an ‘unsettled time’ for Dr. Who. Never being into the show, I can’t say, but Colin Baker’s outfit is tasteless.
  • Brit_actors points us to the news that the David Tennant version of Dr. Who will be getting a comic book in 2008. The sketches actually look pretty good.
  • And the Dr. Who info keeps coming. (Spoiler alert for Series 4) How about a little Doctor on Doctor action? If Peter Jackson says it, it must be true! Thanks to Bill S. for the link.

Filed under: HeroesTube BitsTV

SFX #160 Roundup

I had a chance to look over the latest issue (September 2007) of SFX magazine and thought I’d share my thoughts. You know SFX…it’s that newsstands magazine that causes double-takes because there’s a running gag of having some foreground element blocking the lower part of the “F”, making it look like an “E”. SFX covers science fiction in all its forms: TV, film, books, DVD, audio books…even games and toys.

Being a U.S. resident reading a U.K. media magazine is always illuminating because it makes me keenly aware of my America-centric view of genre, even in this age of global InterTubes. Take television shows, for example. U.K. shows like Primeval, Hyperdrive and Jekyll fall below my radar, so it’s nice to learn about them. But I’m not a total TV noob, so it’s also nice to see coverage of shows I’m familiar with, too. One of those U.K./U.S. moments is with schedule-shifted shows; like Doctor Who, whose episodes run in the U.K. months before they do here in the States, or like Heroes whose airings lag behind the U.S. With the former, there is the mental wrestling between my desire to learn juicy morsels and my fear of spoilers. With the latter, it’s either a nice recap or a way to to catch up on missed episodes. Speaking of spoilers, the magazine comes with a sealed interior section called “Spoiler Zone” that offers 30 spoilery episode summaries/reviews for 9 different shows.

A big plus of SFX is that it does not gloss over science fiction in printed form. Twenty-two of the eighty-eight (!) reviews cover new book releases. Another eight reviews cover book re-issues. They are not in-depth critiques by any definition, but they do give you a feel for the book. The issue also features interviews with authros Stephen Baxter (author of Navigator and a frequent book reviewer for SFX), Brian Aldiss (HARM), Jasper Fforde (First Among Sequels)and Austin Grossman (Soon I Will Be Invincible). That’s above-average author coverage for a magazine that covers multiple media formats, methinks. (Other interview subjects in this issue include Nathan Filion (Firefly) and Adrian Pasdar (Heroes), among others.)

The issue really has lots of cool articles and information. Here are but some of the interesting tidbits:

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Books

God in the Machine

Pete Tzinski of Blood, Blade & Thruster magazine is embarking on an ambitious writing project. It’s an online fiction serial called God in the Machine and features cool illustrations (like the one shown here) by Christoffer Saar.

Season one is called “Cold Machines“. Here’s the synopsis:

A freak encounter with an electromagnetic storm shuts down all the ship systems of the starship Damocles, as well as the whole robotic crew. Everyone, that is, except for an engineering droid and a ‘Lifter, clinging to the outside of the ship. They’re still active. They’re awake…

The first episode is called “Awake” and it goes live today. New episodes are scheduled to appear on alternating Mondays. Head on over and check it out.

Filed under: Web Sites

POLL RESULTS: Why People Don’t Read Short Fiction

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
What is the primary reason you don’t spend money on short sf/f fiction?

RESULTS

(113 total votes)

Comments this week:

“…I get review copies…” – Frank

“I don’t spend money on short sf because it’s not a habit with me. I’m used to going to the bookstore and picking out books, not to getting journals in the mail and reading them. I didn’t even know magazines with sf & fantasy existed until I started college. Now I’m just leery to subscribe to a magazine when I’m not sure which would be the best fit for my reading tastes.” – Rachel

“I prefer to wait around until an editor I know and respect puts out an anthology, or to get a collection of shorts by one author that I can expect quality from than just getting the latest issue of Asimov who’s content I’ve found can sometimes be let down. I also read a lot of the free stuff online (or even blog posts) to get an idea about someone, which is what usually leads me to these judgments of which writers and editors I like.” – DJ

“Negative bias in the question….aagghh! Short stories are what the field is all about. The germ of an idea, a character, a world given life. Bountiful abundance is great, yet there is a tendancy, especially in fantasy/sf, to forget our foundations.” – Richard Novak

“Asimov’s are worth a purchase, and I’m always willing to check out year’s best anthologies from the library….” – platyjoe

“I’m not a big fan of short fiction. I prefer novels. More time for plot, character development etc… I’ve bought some collections of short fiction from a few of my favorite authors but I even have trouble getting into those. I like a long story.” – Eric

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll, which asks: How would you rate the new Flash Gordon so far?

Filed under: Polls

Two And Done: Flash Gordon

Even though I was in agreement with John’s review of Flash Gordon, I didn’t feel I could just give up on the show after one 90-minute episode. I decided to watch the second episode this past Friday night.

Yeah, I gave up 30-minutes in. I’m done, here’s why.

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: TV

Tube Bits For 08/19/07

  • Buddy TV wonders if LOST will be spoiled again? If you remember, the season finale was leaked online, just waiting to spoil the unwary. Well this time, 10 or so episodes will be in the can before the season premier, and those who want to, can find the spoilers. Ultimately, its up to the fans to avoid them if they want. For me, I will definitely be steering clear of any.
  • The National Post online has a rundown of the pilots for the new TV season. Looks like NBC does well for itself. At least in Canada.
  • Sticking with NBC, they have struck a deal with most major cable providers to allow VOD viewing on Sept. 10th of Bionic Woman, Journeyman and Chuck. If you happen to have Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, Cox, DirecTV or Dish Network, you can see the pilots before they are broadcast. NBC seems to have its act together recently to use alternate viewing modes to increase the hype about its shows. Of course, I’m guessing you’ll be able to ‘find’ the episodes online before they air as well.
  • Trek Today has a boatload of info from the 6th annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, with lots of alumn news.

Filed under: Tube Bits

EW Reviews SF/F

Issue #949/#950 (August 24, 2007) of Entertainment Weekly offers some brief reviews of science fiction and fantasy books. Here’s a snippet…

Sandworms of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

For Fans of… The original Dune novels by Herbert’s late father, Frank.

Bottom Line: After slogging through a desert’s worth of rote Star Warsisms and Sahrara-dry prose, you’ll wish Frank had been at the helm.

Grade: C+

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

For Fans of… Robin Hood; Oceans Eleven; Pirates of the Caribbean.

Bottom Line: In the second installment of the Gentlemen Bastards series, Lynch’s fast-paced storytelling is slightly stalled by a propensity for clumsy romance and action-flick banter.

Grade: B-

Spaceman Blues by Brian Francis Slattery

For Fans of… The surreal urban odyssey of Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man; Plan Nine From Outer Space.

Bottom Line: For all its colorful characters and gonzo thrills, Slattery’s debut is first and foremost a moving portrait of Wendell’s grief.

Grade: A-

The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman

For Fans of… Time travel, “hard SF,” and slacker antiheroes.

Bottom Line: The comparisons may be unfair, but this smart, brisk, and even charming tale has none of the emotional or philosophical heft of Haldeman’s Forever books.

Grade: B

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 8/19/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Elizabeth Moon on Literary Snobbery

We’ve talked about Literary Snobs before.

Here’s Elizabeth Moon’s take:

What literary snobbism does hurt is the public–people who are taken in by the ignorant assertions of “experts” who don’t even read what they claim to despise (or read it so carelessly that they might as well be reading a cereal box.) It hurts the students who think their natural taste for plots that are plots and characters who are interesting is the literary equivalent of original sin and must be excised before they’re fit to be called educated.

Anyone who thinks there’s no “complexity, depth, and originality” in commercial fiction needs an education. Anyone who thinks mysteries (or any other genre) are all “trashy” needs an education. (Start with Aristotle, whose _Poetics_ lay out the criteria. Continue through centuries of fiction that worked, up to the present day, being sure to take in multiple genres in each era.)

[via The Swivet]

Filed under: Books

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