SF Tidbits for 1/19/08

My Two Cents: Cloverfield


The viral marketing/hype machine has been in full force for Cloverfield, with the mystery surrounding the monster being central, even key, to generating interesting for this movie. Left to wonder about the monster, all sorts of questions come to mind: What does it look like? Where does it come from? Why is it attacking New York? How was it created? You know, all the usual sorts of questions surrounding a monster movie. If you go in expecting to find answers to these questions, you’ll leave disappointed. Cloverfield doesn’t answer these questions because it isn’t really a monster movie.

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Well, I bought into the hype of Cloverfield and went to go see it. OK, maybe it was more of an excuse to take half a day off of work, but see it I did. I kind of knew what to expect and in that I wasn’t disappointed. What I didn’t realize is how tiresome that could be.

Rather than go into a coherent, well thought-out review, here is something specially tailored for short attention spans of the Information Age: a list of the good and the bad…

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Friday YouTube: Ghostbusters Beats Cloverfield to the Punch

Wouldn’t it be cool if the monster from Cloverfield (which opens today) was borrowed from Ghostbusters?

“…The Fact is That People Don’t Read Anymore…”

Steve Jobs on Amazon’s Kindle:

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore.”


[via GalleyCat]

SF Tidbits for 1/18/08

  • Over at Omnivoracious, Jeff VanderMeer interviews Michael Moorcock, author of The Metatemporal Detective. “I’m easily bored. For that reason I usually don’t read much genre fiction. I like fiction which precedes genre or when it has begun to parody or otherwise question the tropes.”
  • io9 interviews Kathleen Ann Goonan, author of Queen City Jazz: “…for me, nanotech has been a metaphor for the power of thought, and for the power of language. This may sound odd, but it seems that the more we understand matter and the more we are able to manipulate it and to make decisions about how and why to do so, the better we understand ourselves.”
  • More free Nebula Nominated fiction: The list of Preliminary Nominees for the 2007 Nebula Awards has been updated with more links to free online versions of short fiction nominees.
  • Brenda Munday Gifford has posted a free (PDF) eBook Before the Charon Covenant, a prequel to The Charon Covenant.
  • Paizo publishing announced the 2008 release schedule for their science fiction novel imprint, Planet Stories. Titles include Northwest of Earth: the Complete Northwest Smith by C. L. Moore, Almuric by Robert E. Howard, Lord of the Spiders by Michael Moorcock, The Samarkand Solution by Gary Gygax, The Ginger Star by Leigh Brackett, Masters of the Pit by Michael Moorcock, Infernal Sorceress by Gary Gygax, Worlds of Their Own edited by James Lowder (featuring fiction by R.A. Salvatore, Michael A. Stackpole, Ed Greenwood, Elaine Cunningham, and others), Swordsman of Mars by Otis Adelbert Kline.
  • Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute salutes The Power of “Superheroes” Imagery in Fashion with a gala benefit on May 5th that “will reveal how the superhero serves as the ultimate metaphor for fashion and its ability to empower and transform the human body”. [sent in from Peter from Living The Limnal]
  • The American Film Institute plans to pick the top 10 movies in 10 genres, including science fiction. Among the scifi nominees are The Matrix and the 1953 version of The War of the Worlds. The results will be revealed on a CBS special in June.
  • At SciFi Scanner, Harold Goldberg shows off his Talking Iron Giant Bank. Envy, thy taste is bitter!
  • Oh, the pain! Gravity Lens leads us to this alphabetical list of Dr. Smith’s Monikers for the Robot. “Sleek, sophisticated, charming companion” has a whole different tone when you’re an adult, if you know what I mean. As does “my male nurse.”

The Future of Science Fiction TV is NOT the Sci Fi Channel

Last week, Entertainment Weekly online published an open letter to the Sci Fi Channel, wherein Mark Bernardin asks “Why are you not way more awesome?” Bernardin rightly points out the ‘good’ SF that is on the Sci Fi Channel, which, if you look at it, is really a very small percentage of the programming. The rest being made up of crappy monster movie of the week, cheap SF movies, questionable ‘reality’ programming, and wrestling. As Bernardin asked, why isn’t Sci Fi doing more in the way of adapting good SF novels into movies or TV shows? Why aren’t they creating engaging new SF content for their viewers?

While many of us probably have asked the same questions, I think doing so misses the point of the Sci Fi Channel. Sci Fi isn’t about being awesome, it isn’t even about science fiction, good or bad. It’s about making money.

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SF Tidbits for 1/17/08

Tube Bits for 01/17/2008

  • This one is for John: In October 2007, Jon Lachonis of Buddy TV scored an exclusive interview with Michael Emerson of LOST, while he and the rest of the crew were filiming an episode for season 4. I have to wonder what was being filmed that caused ABC to change the interview date at the last minute. The mind boggles. Still, some good stuff from Michael about Ben Linus and what we’ll see in season 4.
  • Speaking of LOST, TV Squad has a spoilerific look at what we can expect from season 4. I didn’t actually read them as I don’t want to be spoiled. Well, about LOST anyway. Proceed at your own peril.
  • Trek fans have something to get excited about, and it’s not the new movie. Star Trek: The Tour kicks off tomorrow, Jan. 18th, in Long Beach, California. It actually sounds kinda cool, with lots of Trek memorabilia on display and several interactive activities, all contained in a cozy, 50,000 sqft. display. Check the schedule to see when it will come near you.
  • To get ready for the Tour, you could do what William is doing over at My Star Trek Year. That’s right, he’s going to watch all 700 TV episodes, 11 movies and other various and sundry Trek items this year. As in 365 days. That’s at least two TV episodes a day, and considering some of these will be Enterprise episodes, I hope William comes out the other side all right.
  • Did you miss the debut of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles? Would you like to see it but aren’t willing to brave the internets or torrent networks? Never fear! Both iTunes and Amazon Unbox have posted the pilot for free. That’s right, for a paltry zero dollars you too can watch Summer Glau (makes me feel fine) kick robotic booty. And besides, free is a good price for anything.
  • What do you do if you’re a striking writer and looking for a way to get paid from Internet use of your material? Why you create your own online video company! Good luck finding that $30 million your looking for…
  • Submitted for your viewing pleasure. The trailer for Cinematic Titanic‘s new DVD, The Oozing Skull:

MIND MELD: Today’s SF Authors Define Science Fiction (Part 2)

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, continuing the answers from part one, we asked a seemingly simple question about the definition of science fiction.

Everyone knows the “Old Guard” definitions of science fiction. As part of the “New Guard,” how would you define science fiction?
David Louis Edelman
David Louis Edelman‘s first novel, Infoquake, was called “the love child of Donald Trump and Vernor Vinge” by Barnes & Noble Explorations and “THE science fiction book of the year” by SFFWorld. It was also named Barnes & Noble’s SF Book of the Year in 2006 and nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best SF Novel. His next novel, MultiReal, will be released by Pyr in July 2006. Also watch for his short story “Mathralon” in The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume 2 this February.

You don’t need a lot of careful parsing to define what science fiction is. It’s very simple. Science fiction is fiction that has science as a central topic. It doesn’t necessarily have to be *the* central topic, but it’s *a* central topic.

This definition allows us to include lots of stuff that all SF geeks reflexively know to be science fiction (Neal Stephenson’s BAROQUE CYCLE) as well as lots of stuff that the mainstream refuses to recognize as science fiction (Audrey Niffenegger’s TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE). It even lets us include many works of alternate history (Philip K. Dick’s MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE), insofar as those works take a rational, scientific approach to understanding the effects of that changed history. As an added side benefit, it lets us put some distance on works that only use science in the most tangential way (STAR WARS).

Unfortunately that definition also pulls in some things that most SF folk would rather not see in our camp (Michael Crichton’s JURASSIC PARK). But as far as I’m concerned, the more inclusive the definition the better. Anything to get serious readers to wander down the aisle in the bookstore with the life-size cutout of Mace Windu standing at the end of it. And hopefully even — gasp! — spend some money there.

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SF Tidbits for 1/16/08

Read the Prologue of Matter by Iain Banks

Orbit has posted the prologue of Iain M. Banks’ Matter, the first Culture novel since 2000’s Look to Windward.

By most human standards the woman was tall, slim and well muscled. Her hair was short and straight and dark and her skin was the colour of pale agate. There was nobody of her specific kind within several thousand light years of where she sat, though if there had been they might have said that she was somewhere between being a young woman and one at the very start of middle age. They would, however, have thought she looked somewhat short and bulky. She was dressed in a pair of wide, loose-fitting pants and a thin, cool-looking jacket, both the same shade as the sand. She wore a wide black hat to shade her from the late morning sun, which showed as a harsh white point high in the cloudless, pale green sky. She raised a pair of very old and worn-looking binoculars to her night-dark eyes and looked out towards the point where the desert road met the horizon to the west. There was a folding table to her right holding a glass and a bottle of chilled water. A small backpack lay underneath. She reached out with her other hand and lifted the glass from the table, sipping at the water while still looking through the ancient field glasses.

‘They’re about an hour away,’ said the machine floating to her left. The machine looked like a scruffy metal suitcase. It moved a little in the air, rotating and tipping as though looking up at the seated woman. ‘And anyway,’ it continued, ‘you won’t see much at all with those museum pieces.’

Continue reading at Orbit’s site. Matter will be released in February.

Do You Know an Award-Winning Book When You Read One?

Another year, another awards season is upon us.

A recent series of nominee postings has reminded me that my reading choices lead to relatively few books that go on to become award winners. On the other hand, nominee listings seem to be littered with books that JP has read. (Authors beware: I am the Kiss of Death! If I read your book, I hope you have no aspirations of winning an award. :))

How good are you at predicting award-winners? Can you spot award-winning books when you read them? Are you surprised that some titles even make the ballot?

Tube Bits For 01/15/2008

  • Yes, that’s Hiro over there on the right, with a bloody sword. How cool is that? If you want to know more, Heroes The Series has more information on the Heroes action figures.
  • The debut of The Sarah Conner Chronicles terminated the competition Sunday night, bringing in a 7.6 rating/18 share among adults 18-49. Can they keep it up? We’ll see.
  • In the Forest of Forgetting wonders if Lena Heady is too thin to play Sarah Connor? I don’t think so. But she doesn’t play ‘survivalist crazy’ like Linda Hamilton did.
  • If you’re jonesing for anything Galactica, then head on over to SciFi Channel and watch the new teaser promo, called “Future“. [via About.com.]
  • You knew it had to happen, and it finally did. Now science fiction fans have their own dating web site, Trek Passions. However, you don’t have to love only Trek to join, anything SF will do. How long until someone posing as an alien signs up?

Summer Glau (Makes Me Feel Fine)

Despite my lackluster viewing experience with The Sarah Connor Chronicles, one bright spots remains: Summer Glau. Tough female characters are irresistible, and Summer plays them well. (See also: Serenity.)

Yet whenever I hear her name, I don’t think of the elfin beauty or the kick-@$$ karate moves…I think of that damn 70’s song from Seals and Crofts called “Summer Breeze“. So, to hopefully purge me of this bizarre association, I offer this:

Summer Glau (Makes Me Feel Fine)

(Sung to the tune of “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts)

See the girl all curled up in the cryo

Not a stitch of clothing found in sight

Mal is ticked off wond’rin’ ’bout the Doctor

I don’t care, I’m feeling alright


Summer Glau, makes me feel fine

I can’t shake her image from my mind

Summer Glau, makes me feel fine

I can’t shake her image from my mind

See the tree branch lying on the cold deck

She picks it up, maybe thinks it’s fun

Snap us back to now, see the worried crew

Don’t look now but River’s got a gun


Followed by agents, their hands painted blue

They have no idea just what she can do

‘Cause when she sees what’s playing on TV

Fruity Oaty Bars, now it’s time to kick @$$

See the angel punching and a kickin’

Not really sure what she could do

She’s a weapon, a source of destruction

She’s a vital part of Malcolm’s crew


SF Tidbits for 1/15/08

Quick Thoughts on The Sarah Connor Chronicles

I caught the premiere of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Unfortunately, I bought into the positive buzz I’ve heard around the InterTubes and set my expectations high. As a result, I was less than impressed.

Here’s why:

****** SPOILER WARNING ******


  • Cool premise. The idea of sending robots back in time to either prevent or maintain some future history is cool. (Of course, we all know that once there exists the power to do so, you wouldn’t necessarily play out your strategies in such a liner fashion. Think Back to the Future II where there are multiple Marty MacFlys running around. But that’s beside the point.)
  • Consistency with the films (besides T3 – which I still haven’t seen – because this series serves as a franchise reboot that picks up after T2). They kept true to the rule that you can’t bring anything back with you.
  • It looks like they are setting up some story arcs. What is the Terminatrix’s secret model number and capabilities? How will they discover the creator of the new Skynet? It’s nice to see that every week will be more than just one chase scene after another. It would kind of be lame if every week they ended the show with Sarah, John and Terminatrix hitchhiking down the highway to a sad piano soundtrack. Oh wait – that was The Incredible Hulk
  • Decent special effects – plenty of explosions, torn Terminator flesh, bullets flying, and furniture-busting action.
  • I will never get tired of watching Summer Glau kick @$$.


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REVIEW: Debatable Space by Philip Palmer

REVIEW SUMMARY: Despite some flaws, I’m anxious to see where this series is headed.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A band of space pirates kidnaps the daughter of the Evil Emperor.


PROS: Cool science fictional ideas; well-written action scenes; a welcome variety of offbeat characters; reads fast.

CONS: The construction of the book shows through; extensive character background felt like padding; misplaced comedy at the beginning.

BOTTOM LINE: A good first novel and a promising start to a new series.

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SF Tidbits for 1/14/08

POLL RESULTS: Journeyman’s Cancellation

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Journeyman has been canceled…despite how much people seem to love the show. Did you watch Journeyman?


(127 total votes)

Comments this week:

“It is not a bad show, though that could be the voracious time travel fan in me speaking. It has its highlights (the aforementioned time traveling) and its lowlights (the love triangle), but it really did not deserve to be canceled.” – General X

“Option D: Never had the chance to watch it. “Didn’t even Bother”doesn’t quite cover it. Just didn’t have the chance.” – Jvstin

“It’s really too bad more people didn’t watch Journeyman. The first episode was a little lame, pilots often are, but it established a ‘grounding relationship’ for the protagonist with his wife — a necessary grounding relationship. The developing conspiracy, the rogue FBI agent, and the way the show displayed how affecting the past can affect you personally were excellent.” – Christian Johnson

“I had to go with the first answer; however, my sentiments regarding the entire series of shows is closer to the second. Seeing the pilot, IOW first episode, hooked me for this series, AND then the rest of the episodes shown never lived up to the pilot’s promise. They overused several story elements; for example, the lecherous cop brother of Dan Vassar, and can anyone explain why the wife and the brother were ever together to begin with (there was no character chemistry). Another was the character of the cop brother in general, acting like a general a**h*** all the time. One might conclude the writers had one good story in them, and blew that all in one episode and after that they had zilch.” – Allan Rosewarne

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles?

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