SF Tidbits for 1/11/08

Battlestar Galactica‘s Season 4 Start Date Revealed!

Image courtesy of EW and kidddrunkadelic14’s Flickr page.

We’ve been given some exciting, and official, news regarding the new start date of Battlestar Galactica‘s Season 4 (there was some mix up with the press release so no link to it). Galactica will return on April 4th and will run for 10 episodes.

No word on whether the 10 episodes are a result of the previously mentioned splitting of the final season into two, or a forced split because of the writer’s strike. Still, now we can see how the above picture’s clues play out in the actual show. Stringing us out for an extra ‘season’ is rather weak, but at least we’ll get to see more Galactica. I’m hoping the show rights itself now that it is definitely ending. And I’d really like to see a bang up ending. Here’s to hoping.

Should The Corpses of Dead SciFi Shows Be Revived?

The new blog, IO9, recently posted a poll that asked Which dead Sci Fi show should breathe again? The usual suspects are there: Farcscape, Quantum Leap, Firefly, along with others.

But this question got me thinking: Don’t we, as science fiction fans, continually rail against Hollywood and the TV studios for their lack of imagination and propensity to resurrect or re-make old shows? (Why yes, yes we do.) But here comes Gawker’s shiny new SF site that wants the networks to somehow resurrect an old SF show from the trash heap of discarded shows. And well over 100 people agree that it’s, at least, a decent idea. Just look at everyone who says “But what about show X?” Isn’t this sending the wrong message? There are plenty of science fiction stories that should get some sort of treatment on either the small screen or big screen. I think a better question would have been “What science fiction story or novel would you like to see made into a series?” Of course, one possible answer could be “None, I’d like to see something completely new!” Why re-animate when you can innovate?

I’ll tell you why…

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SF Tidbits for 1/10/08

Tube Bits For 01/10/2008

  • Are you tired of just watching movies or television? Ever wish you could feel like you were in the movie? Well, D-Box promises “Viewers equipped with a D-BOX integrated motion system will actually feel the rush of flight, the torque of speed and bumps in the road, and virtually every pulse…” in the movies Independence Day and I, Robot, which have been specially enhanced to work with the D-Box on their Blu-Ray discs. That’s right, now you too can feel the thrill of a cheap Las Vegas motion control ride in your very own home! And just check out how awesome that couch, err, D-Box is!

  • Chris Beaumont at Blog Critics Magazine reviews the pilot episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, via Yahoo TV. The verdict? Tune in this Sunday!
  • The American Culture blog also has a review up, this time of the BBC series Life on Mars, the is-it-or-isn’t-it time travel police show. I have to agree that this is one show you shouldn’t miss. It’s currently running on BBC America for those on this side of the pond.
  • Buddy TV adds to the mania leading to the premier of season 4 of LOST. This time, they have an interview with Michael Emerson, who plays probably one of the most interesting, diabolical villains ever on TV: Ben Linus. I’m just hacked I have to wait for three more weeks…
  • For those of you who like Chuck but are wondering when the last two filmed episodes will air, look no further than Jan. 24th. NBC will air both remaining episodes, the first at 8pm ET, the second at 10pm ET. In between you can watch Don Trump yell at various celebrity apprentices.
  • The new Knight Rider movie is set to air Feb. 17th. NBC has posted a teaser video on YouTube with some behind the scenes footage from the show. Check it.
  • I’m not sure I could make a whole post from this, so I’ll put it here. Brass Goggles points us to these awesome Gaslight Justice League models by scratch modeler Sillof Just wow. Also, check out his other models, especially the Star Wars ones based on Ralph McQuarrie’s art work. Sweet.

NOMINEES: 2008 Philip K. Dick Award

Nominees for this year’s Philip K. Dick Award, given annually for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States, have been announced:

  • Grey, Jon Armstrong (Night Shade)
  • Undertow, Elizabeth Bear (Bantam Spectra)
  • From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain, Minister Faust (Del Rey)
  • Nova Swing, M. John Harrison (Bantam Spectra)
  • Gradisil, Adam Roberts (Pyr)
  • Ally, Karen Traviss (Eos)
  • Saturn Returns, Sean Williams (Ace)

See also: Past winners.

[via Locus Online]

MIND MELD: Today’s SF Authors Define Science Fiction (Part 1)

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 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?

Note: Thanks to my poorly worded question, the answers received varied a bit. I meant to ask for personal definitions of science fiction but instead tripped up relating it back to an already-existing set of definitions. Thus my unfortunate use of “New Guard” became the focus of some responses from folks. Nevertheless, I promise the responses make for good reading. :)

Also: The turn-out for this question was higher than expected, so expect a Part 2 in the very near future. (UPDATE: Part 2 has been posted.)

Alastair Reynolds
Alastair Reynolds is a science fiction writer and former scientist. He lives in Wales. His next novel is the far-future House of Suns (comming in April 2008 from Orion).

Science Fiction is fiction set in a future which is not inconsistent with our present knowledge of the world, or such knowledge as it exists at the time the work was written. In other words, there must be a logically-consistent roadmap between the present and the future. The future may be the moment immediately after the present, or an arbitrarily distant era. Alternate histories are not therefore science fiction, nor are fantasy works incorporating science fictional tropes. Science fiction works may come to resemble alternate histories or fantasies as they become invalidated by historical developments, but since such works were not intentionally written as AH or fantasy, they are still to be considered science fiction.

Karl Schroeder
Having wracked his brains to be innovative in the novels Ventus, Permanence, and Lady of Mazes, Karl Schroeder decided to relax for a while and write pirate stories, starting with last year’s Sun of Suns and Queen of Candesce. Of course, these novels are pirate stories set in a world without gravity — but hey, swashes are still buckled, swords unsheathed, and boarding parties formed in the far-future world of Virga. He’s currently writing the fourth book of the Virga series (no, it’s not a trilogy) and thinking about how to hammer science fiction into some new shapes based on current research into cognitive science. When he occasionally pokes his head out of the trenches, he blogs about this stuff at www.kschroeder.com.

I hate this question…

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SF Tidbits for 1/9/08

  • At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Chris Roberson, author of The Dragon’s Nine Sons and Three Unbroken.
  • io9 interviews Charles Stross (Halting State): “Fiction, confabulation, story-telling — is, when you get down to it, usually used as an entertainment medium, and also as a mechanism for showing us about other ways of thinking, and if you try to preach a political message you usually end up with something that’s not very entertaining (if not outright annoying to a lot of your readers).”
  • S.M. Duke interviews Jennifer Rahn (The Longevity Thesis): “Now I live in perpetual angst, hoping that Joan D. Vinge will publish something new. Honestly, the woman writes literary crack.”
  • Paul McAuley asks: “Has SF lost its grip on the future?” as he wonders about science fiction’s retreat from classic tropes.
  • Matt Mitchell explains The Difference Between SciFi and Fantasy: “When the science of something is explained plausibly, within the laws of physics it is SciFi.

    When the science of something is not explained, it is fantasy.”

  • Jeff VanderMeer has Sarah Monette talking about Catastrophe. “…twist endings are something we grow out of, both as readers and as writers.”
  • At Intergalactic Medicine Show, Carol Pinchefsky asks: Is There Nepotism in Science Fiction? “Because of this ultra-socialization in the genre, editors tend to buy stories and novels from people that they often already know, at least tangentially.” [via Futurismic]
  • Free Fiction:
    • Edward Willett has posted the first two chapters of his upcoming SF novel Marseguro (due out from DAW Books February 5) online.
    • The January 2008 issue of Apex Online has been posted.
    • Orbit is giving away a copy of Iain Banks’ latest Culture novel, Matter.
    • Illusion On-Demand has launched Transmitter, a new online sci-fi anthology magazine.
    • Elizabeth Bear has the skinny on Shadow Unit, a “website for a serial drama in internet form”, some free, some by reasonably-priced subscription. Staff writers include Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Sarah Monette and Ms. Bear herself.
  • Subterranean press is showing off their cool cover of Snow Crash, a Neal Stephenson limited edition reprint due in the Fall. [via Big Dumb Object]
  • Fascinating: SciFi Scanner tells us that there will be three Spock characters in the new Star Trek movie.
  • Mike Brotherton (Star Dragon, Spider Star) lists Top 10 Science-Based Sci-Fi Movies.

Tube Bits For 01/09/2008

  • Entertainment Weekly, via Buddy TV, has a big story with Matthew Fox about LOST‘s season 4. There’s not really any spoilers, per se, more about the direction that this season will take and which of the big questions will be addressed. Fox also assures us that, now that there is an end date, the story will be able to move faster as Lindelof and Cuse won’t have to vamp to drag the story out indefinitely. Well, the story will move faster once the writer’s strike is over. The first new episodes start on January 31st.
  • If you have an Xbox 360, this may be of interest. Both ABC TV and MGM will make several shows available, in HD, on Xbox Live Marketplace. So if you miss LOST‘s HD run on the ABC website, you can rent the episodes and watch them on your 360.
  • Lena Headey, the new Sarah Connor in Fox’s The Sarah Connor Chronicles, speaks about taking over the role from Linda Hamilton. As the TV show is sort of re-imagining the movies, there is more chance for Sarah’s character to development emotionally, rather than being the single-minded person in the later films. I’m cautiously optimistic about the show, which starts Jan. 13th.
  • Fourth Cult brings us six things I learned from Battlestar Galactica. Somewhat risque, but also a bit funny and so, so true.
  • If you watched last week’s season premier of Stargate Atlantis, you saw the debut of the official trailer for the new MMORPG Stargate Worlds. Ten Ton Hammer also has six new screenshots covering the worlds show in the trailer. I’ve never been a big Stargate fan, and World of Warcraft tired me out on MMORPGs, but this game looks rather interesting. Since there is a dearth of SF themed MMOs, I may just check this out.
  • And finally, NBC has released the second promo trailer for the new Knight Rider movie, you can see it below. Of course I’ll check it out, but they still should have forced GM to start making Firebirds again just for this show.

Summer Glau on BlogTalkRadio Tonight

The fine folks over at BlogTalkRadio wrote in to tell us that actress Summer Glau from the upcoming Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles will be on tonight’s podcast:

Actress Summer Glau from the upcoming “Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles” joins Dr. Blogstein today January 8, 2008, at 9pm ET / 6pm PT to discuss the new Terminator series. Many of you will recognize Summer from the Firefly television series and the action-packed sci-fi movie Serenity. Terminator premieres on Fox on Sunday Jan 13th and Monday Jan 14.

Also on tonight’s program Collette Mclafferty, lead singer of edibleRed and an update from the World Series of Beer Pong. Don’t miss a single minute!

Dr. Blogstein’s Radio Happy Hour is a live, interactive Internet broadcast hosted on BlogTalkRadio. A call in number as well as a text chat room can be found on the host page. Archives of the show are made available after the show at the host page or via RSS subscription at the host page or iTunes.

For Sale: Data’s Head

Ah…I love eBay. The last-ditch repository for all thing Trek…like William Shatner’s kidney stone. OK, eBay was not involved with that one, but apparently you could buy the head of Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation on eBay.

The head is from the episode “Time’s Arrow”, cast from Brent Spiner’s head and used as the 500 year-old severed head of the android. As per Slice of Sci Fi:

The head was sent to Art Asylum by Paramount for use as a cast mold to scan in order to create the digital template from which the Data action figures were created. The item was sent intact with prosthetics, however they were removed and the bust was painted silver to aid with the scanning process. The prosthetics were subsequently lost or discarded.

The current bid is at $500.

Personally, if I were Brent Spiner, I’d drop about $1,000 to buy it back just so I can scare the hell out of my kids.

SF Tidbits for 1/8/08

  • Focus on Science Fiction and Fantasy interviews John Hemry (a.k.a. Jack Campbell), author of The Lost Fleet novels. “I think SF has a good future as long as it doesn’t take itself too seriously. By that I mean it has to remain focused on telling the story, rather than trying to be Literary.”
  • At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Hal Duncan (Vellum).
  • Fast Forward podcast-interviews Tobias Buckell (Ragamuffin).
  • John Scalzi reveals the spoilery ending of Zoe’s Tale. Or not.
  • The Guardian asks: “Why do critics still sneer at sci-fi?” and looks at The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester: “Science fiction writers are dismissed by the mainstream, but for mind-expanding ideas and sheer narrative excitement the genre is hard to beat.”
  • Strange Horizons takes a look back at 2007 with contributions from Graham Sleight, Paul Raven, Nader Elhefnawy, Victoria Hoyle, Paul Kincaid, Richard Larson, Laura Blackwell, Iain Clark, L. Timmel Duchamp, Martin Lewis, Tony Keen, Lisa Goldstein, Gwyneth Jones, Michael Levy, Jonathan McCalmont, Abigail Nussbaum, Nicola Clarke, Donna Royston, David Soyka, Adam Roberts and Tim Phipps.
  • Becca Bacon Martin of The Morning News paper in Arkansas finds wisdom in the words of Robert A. Heinlein.
  • Now posted: David Langford’s Ansible 246 for January 2008.
  • Great White Snark offers this list of Top 5 Celebrities Likely to be Mistaken for Zombies. Of course, any such list that does not include Iggy Pop and every member of the Rolling Stones is highly suspect…

It’s A Sci Fi World: The Surveillance Society

If you need proof that we do indeed live in a science fiction world, just take a look around. You’ll see video cameras everywhere: at red lights, in police cars and in many stores and businesses. The depths to which cameras have invaded our daily lives would make the government from Orwell’s 1984 salivate. For a very interesting look at just how ‘observed’ we are, the current issue of Popular Mechanics covers the technology behind the observing with Surveillance Society: New High-Tech Cameras Are Watching You.

It’s scary to think that, whenever you step out of your house, you’ll probably end up in some video system somewhere, easily trackable while you’re in view of the cameras. Popular Mechanics looks at a wide range of technology that is used for surveillance, and it’s not just the government. Businesses are using it as well to keep track of you. I found the ankle level scanner at the grocery store to be unexpected, but then I wondered why it hadn’t been done before. Wal-Mart, I believe, has been thinking of, and my have entered a trial, using RFID tags on their merchandise. This would allow them to track where every single piece of merchandise is in the store, enable ‘whole cart’ checkouts, and, of course, keep an eye out for shoplifters. The problem, as shown in the article, is when this data is used for non-intended purposes. The example given is EZ Pass tags being used by law enforcement to track people. You can imagine the authorities obtaining the data from Wal-Mart to track what stuff you bought and when. This unholy alliance is rather frightening, but I’m not sure how you can stop it. Are your purchases a ‘private’ matter? How about the routes you take while you drive? The feeling I get from Popular Mechanics is one of a combination of 1984 and Snowcrash, with business working, willingly or not, with the government to track your every move.

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REVIEW: Half the Blood of Brooklyn by Charlie Huston

REVIEW SUMMARY: Even more engaging vampire noir!


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Vampire Joe Pitt investigates a new threat to the vampire clans of New York City.


PROS: Joe Pitt is a great character; fast pace; unexpected plot directions; appealing setting.

CONS: At times it’s hard to believe that the vampire clans trust Joe to the extent that they do.

BOTTOM LINE: This is the best book in the series so far.

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SF Tidbits for 1/7/08

Tube Bits for 01/07/2008

  • LOST‘s season opener is fast approaching, Jan. 31st if you didn’t know, and ABC is trying to help you, the fan, catch up. To that end, all 3 seasons of LOST are currently online in streaming HD for your viewing pleasure. You have from now till the 31st to watch them, so you may have a lot of computer time in your future.
  • The creators of Star Trek: New Voyages have gone back and remade their ‘To Server All My Days’ episode, adding original series music, new title sequences and even 1969 vintage commercials. It will premier on March 29th in Beverly Hills. This is also an opportunity to pimp, figuratively, for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Walter Koenig.
  • It looks like sales of the remastered Star Trek have been high enough to prompt the CBS Corporation to release the next two seasons as well.
  • Starburst magazine interviews John Barrowman about the upcoming season of Torchwood. [via IllusionTV]
  • For all you Sapphire and Steel fans, you can find several episodes, online at YouTube. That link goes to the first episodes, follow on from there for more. I just could never get into this show, the pacing is terribly slow for me.

POLL RESULTS: 2008 Movies We’d Like to See

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Which of these films based on comics are you looking forward to the most in 2008?


(131 total votes)

Comments this week:

“Tough choice! I wanted to vote for three of those!” – Chris Johnston

“Hulk 2 is gonna be a SciFi Channel original, right?” – platyjoe

“50% (so far) voted for “The Dark Knight?” Don’t people ever get tired of Batman movies??” – PY

“Hellboy was enjoyable, and the trailer for the second looked great. Iron Man is a good franchise, and Robert Downey Jr. seems to be doing good things with it in that trailer. But Batman Begins was an absolute revelation when it came out, and Dark Knight easily looks to match – if not surpass – that brilliant, dark intensity of the first. Christian Bale has taken Batman away from the purely popcorn level of the first four movies and given him real punch. As for Hulk 2, well… let’s be honest, after Hulk 1, no matter how much they promise things have changed, it’s gonna take a lot of work for them to get my ass in that cinema seat. Just my four cents.” – Matt Dovey

“Mr. Bale brought none of the camp, and all of the gravitas that Bats can offer. Let’s hope the Joker doesn’t pooch it all up for us!” – Dark Knight (Jeff)

“It’s a tough choice for me between Iron Man and the Dark Knight, since both star actors who really should have gotten Oscars by now (Robert Downey Jr. and Heath Ledger, respectively). Iron Man wins by default, since I’m a born-and-raised Marvel kid and never really cared that much about Batman.” – Gabriel Mckee

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about Journeyman!

Sunday Cinema: Firefly – ‘Bushwhacked’

Continuing in our series of Firefly posts, today we bring you ‘Bushwhacked‘ (John?).

The parts I remember about this are the dead guy smacking into the windshield and the Alliance interviewing the crew. That’s some fun stuff right there.

SF Tidbits for 1/6/08

Sunday YouTube: Neil Gaiman Talks About H.P. Lovecraft

[via Cynical-C]

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