Friday YouTube: The Giant Monster Insurance People

[via Fantasy SF Blog]

Tube Bits for 01/25/2008

  • Many of you may remember the USA Network show Swamp Thing, starring Adrienne Barbeau and some guy in a rubber suit (Dick Durock). The first season is now available on DVD. For those Sliders fans out there, Kari Wuhrer also appears in this season.
  • The corporate monolith of gaming that is IGN has scored an interview with the developers of the upcoming science fiction MMO, Stargate Worlds. There’s a lot of good stuff here, well worht the read if you are even remotely interested. I’m actually looking forward to this game, which is odd since I’m not a fan of the show. Huh.
  • Product placement is a fact of life on today’s televisions. But how about a TV show being ‘product placed’ in a comic? That’s exactly what LOST will be doing with Marvel Comics. The next Marvel book you open just may have images and references to LOST inside. I find this, odd.
  • What do you do when your premier series doesn’t start for another 3 months? If you’re Sci Fi Channel, you air two Battlestar Galactica specials in advance. The first, “Revisited”, is basically a recap of the first three seasons. The second, “The Phenomenon” (not starring John Travolta), looks at Galactica’s reception among fans and critics. Hopefully they will stoke the fires of interest, although I know John is on the ‘hater’ wagon. I’m not. I’ll be watching.
  • If you’re in Philadelphi tonight (1/25/08), why not head on over to the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and hear Paul Levinson talk about Science Fiction in the Current Golden Age of Television. If you can’t make it, you can read his thoughts on his website, Infinite Regress. Hey Paul, any way you can a make podcast out of this talk?

SF Tidbits for 1/25/08

  • Rick Kleffel from The Agony Column podcast-interviews Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, co-editors of The New Weird anthology.
  • MilSciFi interviews John C. Wright: “A.E. van Vogt had the greatest influence on my work: I steal all my ideas from him. He captures the ‘sense of wonder’ that is to science fiction what the sense of horror is to horror writing.”
  • The latest episode of the always-entertaining Cult Pop has another great video interview posted, this time with Tobias Buckell and SciFi artist Carl Lundgren.
  • Fear Zone interviews editor Ellen Datlow: “The best writers can take the traditional horror tropes of serial killers, zombies, vampires, werewolves, ghouls, children in danger, “bad” houses or places — and make something new out of them by their skills at storytelling and use of language.”
  • At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Daniel Abraham, co-author of Hunter’s Run with George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.
  • Fantasy Book Critic interviews Gail Z. Martin: “There are some people who oddly believe that if you write about something you must actually be like that in real life, which would make every crime writer a cop or a murderer. There are folks who will make amazing assumptions about your religious beliefs (or lack thereof) and the status of your immortal soul. Oh well. And there’s our culture, which thinks it’s way more cool to be able to throw a football than to write a book. I did a radio interview last year and the host kept trying to get me to talk about how “weird” SF conventions were. I asked him if he’d ever been to a Big Ten college football game or a NASCAR race–the frizzy wigs, the body paint, the costumes, the tailgate craziness. It would be nice if we’d let people have fun in their own way without needing to judge.”
  • Free Fiction:
  • io9 lists The Scariest Settings Ever Created in Scifi Movies.
  • Real science, Part 1: Sf author Daryl Gregory doesn’t believe in aliens…as portrayed in sf, that is. Biology in Science Fiction responds by asking “How alien should science fiction aliens be?
  • Real science, Part 2: In case you get lost, here’s a map of the universe within 1 billion Light Years. [via The Daily Galaxy]

SF Tidbits for 1/24/08

The Time Machine Materializes On Stage

En route to its historical trip to the year 802,701, H.G. Wells’s Time Machine is making a stop in Hollywood.

A stage play version of The Time Machine is set to appear at Women’s Club of Hollywood between January 25th and March 14th, 2008. From the press release:

For the first time ever, however, fans of H.G. Wells will be able experience the work live!

Adapted to the stage by Julian Bane (Lead/Producer) and Phil Abatecola (Writer/Director), “The Time Machine” promises to transport audiences into the future where they will encounter a new world, populated by creatures who are at once both strange and strangely familiar.

“We’ve created an experience that will take theatre goers through multiple periods and settings in one fantastic evening,” says Bane. “This independent show is visually inspiring and experientially entertaining.

While widely acknowledged as an influential literary work, “The Time Machine” has never before been adapted for the Los Angeles stage because in general theater producers tend to shy away from the sci fi genre. “There’s this hesitation that a stage production could never live up to the visual imagery of a sci fi novel, yet the world of theatre is filled with successful adaptations of fables and fantasies,” notes Bane.

If someone goes to this, I’d be interested to know your impressions.

Tube Bits for 01/24/2008

  • Carol Barbee, executive producer of Jericho, speculates that the ultimate fate of the series to live beyond seven episodes will be known around episode three. Remember, if you want to see a season three, CBS will looking at airtime ratings so tune in when it’s broadcast. None of that nasty time shifting.
  • But if Jericho is canned, you’ll be glad to know that the Sci Fi Channel has acquired the rights to air the re-runs starting in February. And as an aside, I’ve often wondered why Sci Fi wasn’t in HD. Turns out there is a Sci Fi HD channel. So much for getting that news out to people.
  • Mostlikely2 has posted an interesting look at Bionic Woman, Galactica and The Sarah Connor Chronicles. He wonders why one show should succeed over the others and gives some thoughts.
  • Chuch of the Masses wonders if Galactica is a good show? Good in this case being of the ‘morally good’ sense, not of the ‘good TV’ sense. There are some interestings observations/guesses on the Cylons.
  • Who says media tie-ins should just be books? Videogamer.com has a preview of the upcoming LOST: Via Domus video game for the 360, PS3 and PC. I don’t know about you, but I have yet to see a really good game based on any kind of TV show or movie.

INTERVIEW: Andy Remic

Andy Remic is the author of the novel War Machine. We liked the book so much, we wanted to do an interview with Andy. So we did. This interview was almost two months in the making, what with the holidays and various other interruptions cutting into our time. I’d like to thank Andy for being a gracious and accomodating interviewee. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did putting it together.


SF Signal: For those readers who don’t know who you are, could you give us some information about yourself and your writing?

Andy Remic: I’m 36 years old, started writing in primary school at the age of 5, then moved on to novels when I was 17. Writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do, career-wise. I was an English teacher for ten years, which was great until bureaucracy took over and made me hate the education system. I also hate many head teachers. What a bunch of egotistical apotheosized morons! However, kids are always guaranteed to make you laugh- which was the simple pleasure of the job!! Recently, I was able to write full time, although I still do some exam marking and university lecturing, so I took the plunge and am beavering away hard on my sixth novel, Sick World. The fifth, a nano-tech zombie novel called Biohell, containing your favourite Combat-K psychotic triumvirate, is due out November 2008.

I wrote a trilogy of hardcore military thrillers for Orbit in 2003, beginning with Spiral, then Quake, then Warhead. With each successive novel they storyline became more and more SF orientated, until Warhead explodes with a post-apocalyptic setting. The main character here is Carter, who is a deeply disturbed schizophrenic with an evil psychopath in his brain called Kade. When the going gets tough Kade takes over business, and performs horrible acts Carter would never dream of. Unfortunately, sometimes Kade can take over without Carter’s permission- a kind of mind-rape- and bad things happen. The Spiral novels are like a twisted version of James Bond, globe-hopping and with lots of guns, murder, and black humour in the interaction between Carter and his East-European sidekick, Mongrel- and basically a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek stab at blockbuster action fests like Bond, Andy McNab and Matthew Reilly.

Then I wrote War Machine for Solaris Books. War Machine is a hardcore sizzling rollercoaster of a novel with a gratuitous excess of violence, sex, dark humour and exotic aliens all wrapped up in a high-octane cling-film plot concerning an elite military unit illegally reformed who must battle across alien planets to discover justice, truth and revenge. Initially, the story begins with a quest to find an artefact which will reveal to Keenan the person who killed his wife and children…through the mean streets of the bustling, lawless dystopian planet known as The City – because the city has consumed the planet – to the humid jungles of Ket and the technologically advanced savages who inhabit the City of Bone, Combat K, through adventure and action and many bullets, arrive at their destination to find the hunted artefact holds a terrible secret…which in turn spins the story on its head, and has the unholy Combat K trio sent to Teller’s World, a dead planet, and home to the extinct GodRace Leviathan. There, Keenan must find answers to his deepest nightmares…and face a terror more ancient than anything before witnessed across The Four Galaxies!!

In my spare time I read, mountain climb, I love motorbikes and have two great little boys, Joe who’s 5, and Oliver, who’s 2. They’re little buggers and we scrap a lot, and I enjoy taking them places (such as Alnwick Castle near Newcastle, where they filmed the first few Harry Potter films).

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Let Ursula K. Le Guin Read You Her Fiction

Ursula K. Le Guin has begun making mp3 audio versions of her fiction, accessible at her “Read by the Author” page.

The first offering is “The Open Sea“, an excerpt from Chapter 10 of her classic A Wizard of Earthsea.

Also available is “Three Poems from Wild Angels” (available in multiple parts). Coming soon is “She Unnames Them” from Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences and “A Book of Songs: Twelve Poems” from Incredible Good Fortune.

[via SF Scope and SFWA]

NOMINEES: 2007 British Science Fiction Association Awards

[UPDATE: It’s called the 2007 British Science Fiction Association Awards, not the 2007 British Science Fiction Awards. ]

The British Science Fiction Association has announced the nominees for the 2007 British Science Fiction Association Awards:

BEST NOVEL

  • Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot (Jonathan Cape)
  • Black Man by Richard Morgan (Gollancz) [See SF Signal review]
  • Brasyl by Ian McDonald (Gollancz) [See SF Signal review]
  • The Execution Channel by Ken MacLeod (Orbit) [See SF Signal review]
  • The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (Fourth Estate)

BEST SHORT FICTION

  • “Lighting Out” by Ken MacLeod (disLocations; NewCon Press)
  • “Terminal” by Chaz Brenchley (disLocations; NewCon Press)
  • “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” by Ted Chiang (F&SF, September)
  • “The Gift of Joy” by Ian Whates (TQR)
  • The Sledge-Maker’s Daughter” by Alastair Reynolds (Interzone #209) [See SF Signal review]

BEST ARTWORK

  • “Cracked World” by Andy Bigwood (cover of disLocations anthology, published by NewCon Press)
  • “H P Lovecraft in Britain” by Les Edwards (cover of chapbook by Stephen Jones, published by the British Fantasy Society)
  • “Lunar Flare” by Richard Marchand (cover of Interzone #211)
  • “Metal Dragon Year” by Kenn Brown (cover of Interzone #212)

BSFA FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY AWARD: BEST NOVEL OF 1958

  • A Case of Conscience by James Blish (first published by Ballantine) [See SF Signal review]
  • Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert A Heinlein (first published in F&SF, August – October 1958)
  • Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss (first published by Faber & Faber)
  • The Big Time by Fritz Leiber (first published in Galaxy, March/April 1958)
  • The Triumph of Time by James Blish (first published by Avon; subsequent UK title A Clash of Cymbals)
  • Who? by Algis Budrys (first published by Pyramid)

This proves, once again, that JP has a knack for reading books that turn out to be award winners.

[via Science Fiction Awards Watch]

SF Tidbits for 1/23/08

Tube Bits for 01/23/2008

  • Ever wonder what kinds of cool things you can find at a scrap yard? Well, Kaden over at the MAKE blog found….the Stargate. That’s right, some of the props obviously from a prop house were just tossed into the trash. Still, really cool.
  • Amazon has opened up a new Anime Unbox store and to celebrate, many series’ first episodes are free, for a limited time. Death Note, Astro Boy and Speed Grapher are some of the anime to make note of.
  • The teaser trailer for Trek XI has generated some interest in how the Enterprise looks on the outside. But what about the inside? Some industrious fans discovered an easter egg on the new Trek site that leads to four cameras of the ship under construction. If you wait long enough, you’ll catch a glimpse of an interior corridor.
  • Jericho is scheduled to debut on February 12th. But, if you just can’t wait, the first three episodes have been leaked onto the torrent networks. Looks like Razor has set a precedent.
  • In other Jericho news, the producers have filmed two different endings: one in case of renewel after 7 episodes, and one in case of non-renewel. Probably rather smart of them.
  • And now for a little game news: NASA wants to get into the MMO business with its own space exploration game, that will allow players to “simulate real Nasa engineering and science missions”. Sounds cool. Can they implement that? Then there’s Blackstar, from Spacetime Studios. Blackstar is a totally new SF property, currently in development, that is searching for a publisher. I was intrigued by this before, and the new art does nothing to persuade me otherwise. Here’s to hoping they can find a publisher.

RIP: Heath Ledger [UPDATED]

Sad news…

CNN is reporting that actor Heath Ledger was found dead of a possible drug overdose in a Manhattan apartment today. Ledger had a starring role in The Dark Knight as the Joker.

From the previews, I thought Ledger made an intensely maniacal Joker, the way he should be played. I’m not sure what this means for the film…

UPDATES:

CNN link updated.

More from The New York Times and Cinematical.

[Image via Getty Images]

MIND MELD: Are We Headed For a Technological Panopticon?

In our Mind Meld posts, we pose a single question to a slice of the sf/f community and, depending on the question, other folks as well. This week we follow our previous post about our surveillance society (we also have a poll question up on this very subject. We are clever. Or lazy.) Our question this week is:

Given the rapid pace of advancement in science and technology, are we headed for a technological panopticon or will technology allow the little guy to fight back?

As you’ll see, we received some interesting answers.

Vernor Vinge
Vernor Vinge is a retired San Diego State University Professor of Mathematics, computer scientist, and science fiction author best known for his novels A Fire Upon the Deep, A Deepness in the Sky, and Rainbow’s End, all Hugo award winners. He is also the author of the Across Realtime series and is the originator of the term ‘Singularity’ as it pertains to exponential growth in technology.

I don’t see the problem as an either/or choice. For example, David Brin’s The Transparent Society discusses an alternative.

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SF Tidbits for 1/22/08

REVIEW: Soldier of Sidon by Gene Wolfe

REVIEW SUMMARY: Excellent Wolfe book for the uninitiated, Latro is personal and adventurous in this third installment of the Soldier of… series.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Latro had little long-term memory. In fact, each night he forgot everything that happened the day before. As a result, he had to try to write down everything he experienced each day and read it back the next morning. Lucky for us, the tale of his travels in Egypt his explorations along the Nile is told in the scrolls he left behind.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Wolfe’s mastery of the language is on full display but without as many enigmatic plot points as in some of his works; characters are engaging and genuine; fantasy elements are muted – but enough to keep things interesting.

CONS: Book doesn’t resolve Latro’s problem.

BOTTOM LINE: Excellent tale of adventure in an Egypt filled with politics, mischievous gods, and conniving women.

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REVIEW: Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa

REVIEW SUMMARY: An engrossing story about life, love and family.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A family tries to outrun three harbingers of death.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Quick moving, emotional storyline; suitably dark pencil drawings match the tone of the story.

CONS: Some awkward moments where images focused away from people who were talking.

BOTTOM LINE: A dramatic, engrossing story.

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EW Reviews SF/F

Issue #975 (January 25, 2008) of Entertainment Weekly offers some brief reviews of science fiction and fantasy books.

Here’s a snippet…

by George R.R. Martin, Gardner R. Dozois, and Daniel Abraham

Movie Pitch: Predator meets Camus’ The Stranger.

Lowdown: Classic SF – a tense interspecies battle of wits and tangy atmospherics and a bleak lesson on the meaning of freedom.

Grade: A

by Simon R. Green

Movie Pitch: Sam Spade meets Sirius Black…in The Case of the Cosmic MacGuffin!

Lowdown: Green’s crabby wit and inventively gruesome set pieces make up for a scattershot mystery plot.

Grade: B+

by Adrian Phoenix

Movie Pitch: Interview with the Vampire meets The Manchurian Candidate.

Lowdown: Hard-charging action sequences, steamy sex scenes, and a surprising government conspiracy makes this debut, the first in a series, engrossingly fun.

Grade: B+

A 1996 Interview with Samuel R. Delany

The Center for Book Culture has a 1996 interview with Samuel R. Delany.

Here’s an excerpt that fits in with our recent Mind Meld posts:

SRD: I suppose the questions I dont like include: “What makes a good plot?” “What’s your definition of SF?” “Where do you get your ideas?”

When an interviewer asks me such questions, I have to reconstruct why I don’t believe there is such a thing as plot for the writer in the usual sense; or why SF belongs to a category of object, as do all written genres, for which it is impossible to find necessary and sufficient conditions (that is, it belongs to a category of’ object that resists definition in the rigorous sense of the word); or that ideas are not things but–even the simplest of them–complex processes and as such don’t “come from” any “place” but are rather process-responses to any number of complex situations. With such questions, many of the ideas I’m dealing with are counterintuitive. And counter-intuitive ideas can’t be explained quickly to someone who doesn’t have a firm handle on them already.

Tube Bits for 01/21/2008

  • Dave Howe has taken over as President of the Sci Fi Channel and will report to former president Bonnie Hammer, who apparently got promoted. Howe wants to expand the Sci Fi Channel ‘brand’ into other media such as video games and other areas. The first part of this expansion was announced last week as Sci Fi Channel and Virgin Comics announced a joint comic book venture entitled Stranded. You can view it online here.
  • We all wondered exactly why KITT in the new Knight Rider movie was a Mustang (yes, you did). Now we know. It’s because GM isn’t making the Firebird/Camaro anymore. Which is too bad, since the the fourth generation body styling was much cooler than the third generation of the original KITT. Let’s hope the new KITT isn’t Found On Road Dead after every commercial break.
  • The History Channel has some realliy cool shows starting (very) soon. Tonight is the premier of Life After People, which is about how the Earth might look, after people. Cool. Next month, Feb. 6th to be exact, The History Channel will bring back a new season of UFO Hunters, where three ‘experts’ examine different sightings to determine if they might be real. Hopefully the skeptic person won’t be overwhelmed by the UFOers.
  • Speaking of show returns, remember to set your DVRs to catch Chuck‘s return, and very quick exit, on Thursday, Jan. 24th. The last two episodes will air at 8pm and 10pm Eastern. Then the lights go dark on yet another decent show.
  • Of course, new shows in developement are still going forward. For instance, J.J. Abrams’ new SF show, Fringe has started it’s casting process. Currently Kirk Acevedo and Tomas Arana have been signed up. Let’s hope J.J. hasn’t fallen in love with the shaky cam. [via the Illusion TV blog]
  • Remember when we said the future of science fiction isn’t on the Sci Fi Channel? Add another ‘series’ to the non-Sci Fi Channel list: Stranger Things. It “depicts a world of ordinary people stumbling into the secret lives of the paranormal, the metaphysical, the unnatural, and the strange.” Also it’s “the first dramatic science-fiction anthology series shot in high definition and digitally-syndicated through the Internet”. Yup, an HD vidcast. Sounds interesting, though I haven’t actually seen it yet. Still, I think our point is being made here.
  • John Muir reminds us that the internet series (these things are popping up all over!) The House Between 2.0 begins this week. To celebrate he points us to a teaser trailer for the series.

SF Tidbits for 1/21/08

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