RIP: Madeleine L’Engle

Sad news from Publisher’s Weekly:

Author Madeleine L’Engle died last night in Connecticut, at the age of 89. Best known for her 1963 Newberry Award winner A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels, L’Engle was the author of more than 60 books for adults and young readers…

More info:

[via Michael A. Burstein; Image credit: http://www.awrinkleintime.net]

Filed under: Books

Tube Bits For 09/07/07

  • Apparently, the DVD sales for Jericho are low. Maybe everyone is at home, trying to watch it when its broadcast, just like the network asked them to? I think CBS made the right decision in canceling the show to begin with, but a bunch of crazy fans convinced them there was a larger audience out there than there actually is. I don’t see this making it past its 7 episode trial. If you’re interested, there will be a live chat with executive producer Dan Shotz tonight 8pm EST on the show’s home page.
  • Buddy TV speculates on how LOST will end. I’m sure the series will wrap everything up, but how nicely?
  • In keeping with the Dr. Who theme around here, the Dr.’s assistant, Sarah Jane Smith, will get her own TV show, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Elisabeth Sladen will reprise her role as Sarah Jane in this series aimed at the younger set.
  • Kevin Falls and Kevin McKidd, creator and star of Journeyman, held a press conference to discuss the show. We learn that the romantic dimensions of the show are the core of the story, and that any SF elements will be downplayed. Yeah, I’m out.
  • NEXT.TV announced an agreement with HP for a ‘revolutionary new Internet television service’ that enables users to ‘enjoy hit TV shows, movies, music videos, shorts, documentaries and much more’. Initially, only HP Pavilion and Compaq Presario PCs and notebooks running Vista will be able to access this ‘revolutionary’ IPTV service. But you can sign up for the beta if you wish. I don’t know how revolutionary this really is, as services like Joost and Babelgum are already doing this, and not tied to any one brand of computer.

Filed under: LOSTTube BitsTV

Friday YouTube: Chewbacca Sucks

Actually, it’s the vacuum cleaner that sucks. It also happens to sound like a Wookie.

[via Neatorama]

Filed under: Humor

Weekend Doctor Who Projects

DIY Life profiles Doctor Who and, besides unloading a butt-load of links about Doctor Who’s scarves, also points us to a bunch of Doctor Who craft projects.

So what’s a Who-fan to do on a rainy day or free weekend?

[via Optical Popitude]

Filed under: Doctor Who

SF Tidbits for 9/7/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham

REVIEW SUMMARY: The Long Price Quartet continues in an elegant style.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The cities of the Kaiehm are under siege from elements who wish to deprive them of their power – the natural spirits they control that aid in both commerce and war. Caught up in more politics and drama, the man named Otah finds he can’t escape his past and instead has to confront a family that disowned him when he was a small child.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Direct and sharp prose that uses few words to convey meaning; characters who are realistic and complicated; fantasy elements stay mostly in the background

CONS: Not as unique a setting as the first book; very much a sequel.

BOTTOM LINE: An excellent sequel to A Shadow in Summer that should be read by those who liked the first book.

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Filed under: Book Review

REVIEW: Shift by Chris Dolley

MY RATING:

Shift is Chris Dolley’s second published novel, but his first written story. After publishing his first book, Resonance, Baen also asked if Dolley had any more SF stories. After considerable re-work, Shift is the result. While it still has some of that first novel feel, Shift is still a fine science fiction novel, with a lot of interesting scientific ideas surrounding the human brain and higher dimensions.

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Filed under: Book Review

Caption Challenge #5: Poothulu Edition

My last caption challenge involving Mr. Scalzi just did not seem to have the appeal that some of our previous ones have. While I am saddened by this lack of response, I am not unwilling to continue the effort. This all brings us to a discussion we were having regarding the upcoming Kingdom Hearts CCG from Fantasy Flight Games. Some felt that the game really needed a little H. P. Lovecraft to really make the game accessible, and we bantered about possible characters. Poothulu was one that came up and our resident artist, Trent, took that job to task to create our newest entry. I am sure the emotions generated by this will include shock, outrage, humor, and disdain, but alas I am only the messenger of the great unnamed bear….

Filed under: Humor

Tube Bits For 09/06/07

  • SyFy Portal has some good news and some good news about Eureka and Flash Gordon and their chances for more seasons. It’s what you would think.
  • That break that Sci Fi wants to take to split Galactica into two shorter series? Yeah, it might be only 1 month now. Shorter is better. Non-existent is best.
  • Fresh from dumping Apple, NBC has moved on to Amazon’s Unbox service. No word on how much the episodes will cost, but I can’t see this as being a good move in the short term.
  • Is it possible that Galactica could hit NBC this fall? Well, the writers may strike in October, leaving the networks with no new episodes to show. Certainly, NBC could turn to Sci Fi and USA to add shows to its lineup, like Galactica and Burn Notice. Both of which I think are better than most shows on broadcast TV right now. Of course, with the writers on strike, they’d have to show older episodes, but at least it would be something new to most people, and not re-runs.

Filed under: Battlestar GalacticaTube BitsTV

Commentary: Antagonist by Gordon R. Dickson & David W. Wixon

I’ve got a new one for the list of books I couldn’t finish, hence this is a commentary instead of a review. I did feel it was important enough to write about though, so others would get an insight to this book before they pick it up.

Antagonist by Gordon R. Dickson & David W. Wixon. I just gave up on this book after 300 pages – less than 100 from the end I think. If you are a fan of Dickson’s Childe Cycle and have enjoyed some of his excellent books like Dorsai! or The Final Encyclopedia then I think it is only natural that you would be drawn to this book. But let me stop you for second, I think you’ll want to listen to this.

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Filed under: Book Review

There’s a Sale at MonkeyBrain!

There’s a sale at MonkeyBrain!

For the month of September, MonkeyBrain Books is offering a special 2-for-1 sale. Buy any book direct from us through www.monkeybrainbooks.com at the regular price, and receive another book of equal or lesser value free of charge. [details]

At the very least, you should check out the impressive list of new releases and other neat titles. Sean Williams, Hal Duncan, Michael Moorcock, Rudy Rucker, Jeff VanderMeer, Kim Newman, and more.

I would also note that several books’ cover art was done by the esteemed John Picacio. And as luck would have it, MonkeyBrain is publisher of Picacio’s awesome book, Cover Story, which I highly recommend.

[via EVZine]

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 9/6/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Premiere’s 20 Big-Time Plot Twists

Premiere magazine lists 20 Big-Time Plot Twists. (WARNING: Spoilers abound!) Several genre films made the cut…here’s the abbreviated list — without the actual spoilers. If you saw the movie, you’ll know what it is. If you haven’t, you don’t want to know. So there.

  1. Planet of the Apes (1968)
  2. Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  3. Fight Club (1999)
  4. Psycho (1960)
  5. Citizen Kane (1941)
  6. Soylent Green (1973)
  7. The Usual Suspects (1995)
  8. Oldboy (2003)
  9. Mission: Impossible (1996)
  10. Friday the 13th (1980)
  11. Chinatown (1974)
  12. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)
  13. The Wicker Man (1973)
  14. 12 Monkeys (1995)
  15. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
  16. Eddie & the Cruisers (1983)
  17. Angel Heart (1987)
  18. The Game (1997)
  19. The Sixth Sense (1999)
  20. The Crying Game (1992)

Filed under: Movies

REVIEW: A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

REVIEW SUMMARY: An intriguing story that is short on fantasty elements and long on characters who are complex and real.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The summer cities along the coast are rich and powerful because of the magical spirits they control. That doesn’t stop the rest of the world from plotting against them, and several young people find themselves caught up in the drama, politics, and violence that erupts.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Character-driven story with characters who grow and learn; state politics made realistic; fantasy elements stay very much in the background; not an elf in sight

CONS: Sometimes the characters seem too heroic and selfless

BOTTOM LINE: A tremendous first novel by Abraham that rises above most fantasy written recently that I have read.

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Filed under: Book Review

Wednesday YouTube: Doctor Who Teaches English

Here’s David Tennant in a Comic Relief sketch.

By the way, this is way better than the David Tennant in Drag sketch.

Filed under: Humor

SF Tidbits for 9/5/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 09/05/07

  • The Saucer News tells us that

    SF is alive and well… just not on the SF channel. Well, we knew that about the Sci Fi Channel. But where does it live on? Why on Discovery and Animal Planet. After reading his thoughts, I tend to agree. They are doing lots of fascinating science shows that can be construed as having some sort of SF element to bring them to us.

  • And now for some good news for Sci Fi: A Think Tank Of One watched Sci Fi’s original movie, Black Hole and decided it was actually pretty good. I never saw it so I can’t comment, other than to say, whenever I see Judd Nelson, I think of Barry Manilow.
  • Over at TV Jab, they have posted their Top 10 SF Shows of All Time. Wow, that is heavily populated with recent SF shows. Heroes better than Babylon 5? Um, no. Wait, who even knew that Heroes, or LOST were even SF?? And ST:TNG is NOT the best SF of all time.
  • The Modesto Bee gives us their take on the new Fall schedule. Looks like Chuck might be pretty good after all.
  • Screen Head wonders if ABC is deliberately trying to kill Pushing Daisies. Saying that full episodes won’t be placed on the web for later viewing tells me ABC doesn’t ‘get’ the Internet, or the people who use it. The idea is to build interest. How can you do that if people can’t even see the show? Once again, stupid decisions by a network is bittorrent’s gain, even if it kills the show.

Filed under: Battlestar GalacticaFireflyHeroesLOSTStar TrekTube BitsTV

New Hard Sci Fi?

While I enjoy all types of fiction, I’ve always enjoyed hard science fiction a little more than other most. I define hard science fiction as one where despite a certain amount of fiction, there is an attempt to keep the laws of physics and other key scientific principles stable. There is something about knowing that the science is somewhat rigorous that allows me to suspend my disbelief a little easier.

My youth was filled with the writings of Poul Anderson, Stephen Baxter, Frederik Pohl, Larry Niven, and Ben Bova. Talk of Dyson spheres, ring worlds, wormhole time travel, and other fantastic ideas presented in context with the best science made me feel as if there wasn’t anything that man couldn’t eventually achieve. It also seems that most of the works feature human struggle without the dystopias I found so numbing in other works.

But who are the writers of hard science fiction today? Is anybody out there following in these footsteps?

Filed under: Books

Tube Bits For 09/04/07

  • Buddy TV has a rumor that Sci Fi plans to split Battlestar Galactica‘s final season into two, 10 episode mini-season, one to air in 2008, the other in 2009. Hopefully this won’t be the case, but being the network that brings you wrestling on a SF channel, you never know. Much hate will ensue if true. Well, more hate.
  • Henry Ian Cusick, Desmond on LOST, may be set to star as Mandy Patinkin’s replacement in the upcoming direct to DVD Dead Like Me movie.
  • Revelations has a differing Christian take on Firefly/Serenity. Far from being put out as a previous blogger, Father Oakley finds much to like about it. Who knew?
  • Did you know that Doctor Who has been scheduled through 2010? Now you do! Good news for Who fans.
  • Cinema Blend gives us their preview of NBC’s Journeyman. They aren’t excited. We’ll have to wait and see.

Filed under: Battlestar GalacticaFireflyLOSTTube BitsTV

REVIEW: Jim Baen’s Universe #8

MY RATING:

The August 2007 issue of Jim Baen’s Universe (Issue #8, also known as Volume 2, Number 2) contains 12 pieces of short fiction and 6 non-fiction articles. As with my experience last issue, I am still loving the delivery mechanism as it makes for convenient, read-anywhere portability.

Overall the issue was a little better than good, with the usual explanation of editor vs. reader tastes. Besides the fiction stories reviewed below, this issue contains Rudyard Kipling’s classic “The Mark of the Beast”, and part 8 of the serial started with issue #1, “Fish Story”. Not having read any of the previous parts steered me away from the serial and at 8 installments so far, I do wonder if there is a master plan for the plot or this is just something to exercise the authors’ creative minds. Until I finally take the plunge, I can only guess. (Anyone have an opinion here? Is it worth jumping in mid-series?)

A surprisingly enjoyable (to me) story was “The Lord-Protector’s Daughter” by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. – surprising because my usual detachment to fantasy was nowhere to be found. This is fortunate for the issue overall because that story is by far the longest and carries the most weight. That said, the two standouts in this issue are science fiction stories: “Concentration of Dogs” by Carl Frederick and “Free Space” by Carrie Vaughn.

Here are the individual story reviews…

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Filed under: Book Review

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