REVIEW: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

MY RATING:

Dead Beat is the seventh book in the Harry Dresden series and, in my opinion, it’s the best one so far. In this book, Dresden is blackmailed by the vampire queen Mavra into bringing her the necromantic tome The Word Of Kemmler in exchange for not ruing the lives of himself and his friend Murphy. Harry’s quest will put him smack dab in the middle of the Red Court/White Council war and in competition with three other factions also looking for the book. What ensues is a fast paced race to discover the book. With zombies. How good is this book? I read it in two days. Two. Days. At 448 pages and given the amount of time I have to actually read, this is a testament to Butcher’s easy to read writing style and his ability to weave a rip-roaring, action packed story.

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RIP: Roger Elwood

Locus Online is reporting the death of SF anthologist Roger P. Elwood.

Elwood edited and sold dozens of anthologies of original short fiction in the 1970s, many to publishers not noted for SF, and by most accounts thus oversaturated the market for such books once he moved on to other pursuits, including editing various SF book lines (including Laser Books) and Christian publishing. Notable anthologies (of which there were many) included Ten Tomorrows and Future City (both 1973), the four-volume Continuum series (1974-5), and Dystopian Visions, Epoch (with Robert Silverberg), and In the Wake of Man (all 1975).

See also: Wikipedia

See also: Extended wikipedia info by Teresa Nielsen Hayden. [via Andrew Wheeler]

See also: Bibliography.

Filed under: Books

REPORT: ApolloCon 2007, Day 2

Following a busy first day, I was eager for day 2. Once again, I am relying on my memory to capture some of the best impressions. As luck would have it, I left my finicky camera at home today. But really, I would have needed a skull-implanted video recorder to really capture all the cool things I heard and learned today.

The good news about day 2 at ApolloCon was that is was filled with some very interesting sessions. The bad news was that some of the session overlapped and I was forced to choose between them.

My first session of the day was What You Should Have Read By Now: The Foundations of SF/F/H and the panel included A.T. Campbell III (moderator), David G. Hartwell, Lawrence Person, Martha Wells. I arrived slightly late – weekends were made for sleeping late, weren’t they? – but the discussion was taking a decade-by-decade look at essential science fiction short stories and books. There were no surprises here, just the name-dropping one might expect: Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, Clifford Simak, Robert A. Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Fritz Leiber, Theodore Sturgeon, George Alec Effinger, Frank Herbert, Ursula K. LeGuin, Lovecraft, Hodgson, and tons of others. The panel was knowledgeable and vocal about their favorites.

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Filed under: Events

REPORT: ApolloCon 2007, Day 1

Everyone who has a blog but has never been to a science fiction convention, raise your hand.

This weekend I attended my first science fiction convention: ApolloCon 2007 in Houston, TX. An impressive list of guests, the close proximity to home, and the opportunity to sneak out of family obligations made this the perfect opportunity to see what a science fiction convention was like.

I’ll be posting about my impressions as best as my memory allows. If I misquote or misrepresent, it is entirely my own fault.

DAY 1

Friday evening. Immediately upon walking into the hotel, I see con guest and author, Chris Roberson, walking my way. I recognized him from pictures in the blogosphere and in Locus magazine. I introduced myself – we had exchanged emails in the past – and we engaged in pleasantries while I shambled to the admissions table. (No line, but it took way too long to actually get my badge.) I mentioned that I intended to be at his 6PM session on Texas fiction.

My first order of business, though, was to arrive (late) to the David G. Hartwell Coffee Klatch. Mr. Hartwell is a Senior Editor for Tor books and publishes The New York Review of Science Fiction, a Hugo-Award nominee for 19 straight years! The atmosphere was exactly as advertised. There was coffee, cookies and a comfortable, cozy discussion already in progress. Topics ranged from publishing (markets, the demise of the SFBC, etc.) to distribution (how bookstore distribution changed, hardbacks vs. paperbacks) to the genre in general (decades-long trends, movements). I was entranced the entire time I was there. The depth of his experience and knowledge is fascinating and I couldn’t help but hang on his every word. I was in fanboy heaven.

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Filed under: Events

Here’s Greg Bear’s appearance on The Daily Show talking with with Jon Stewart about Quantico and his work with the FBI on terrorism.

[via Bear's website]

Filed under: BooksTV

REVIEW: Radio Freefall by Matthew Jarpe

MY RATING:

(Update: Corrected the title of the book in the post title. I am a moron.)

Radio Freefall is author Matthew Jarpe’s first novel, though you would be hard pressed to tell. Set in the near future, Radio Freefall tells the story of aging rocker Aqualung (yes, from the Jethro Tull song) as he gets caught up in a web of AI, artificial life forms, global unification and revolution. Jarpe has mixed Stephenson’s knack for creating unusual yet accessible settings with Vinge’s rigid extrapolation of technology and topped it off with an interesting protagonist to create a very entertaining read that also touches on some interesting technological questions.

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Welcome Back Indy!

We’ve missed you. Indy 4 started production today. This is one of the very few times I won’t complain about sequels.

It’s enough to make me break out my DVDs and watch them again.

Filed under: Movies

Lego Millennium Falcon – a stop-motion animation.

[via Look at This]

Filed under: Star Wars

SF Tidbits for 6/22/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: 1945 by Robert Conroy

MY RATING:

1945 attempts to answer the question: What if Japan did not surrender following the bombing of Nagasaki? We know that America had plans on the table for an invasion of mainland Japan, with casualties estimated in the hundreds of thousands for U.S. forces alone. The loss of life on the Japanese side would probably have been higher. This is one of the reasons Truman decided to drop the bombs in the first place. In 1945, Conroy posits a military coup in Japan which captures the Emperor and stops him from issuing an unconditional surrender. As a result, a depleted and all but defeated Japan prepares for an American invasion.

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Oh Noes! Harry Potter Hacked?

(Potential spoilers in the following link. Don’t click if you don’t to be potentially spoiled, although it’s too late for John, he’s already spoiled.)

It’s started. The last book is rapidly approaching and some people just can’t wait to see what happens, for their own reason. According to The Inquirer, a ‘hax0r’ has supposedly hacked into publisher Bloomsbury’s computer system and got a peek at the manuscript for Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows. This was accomplished using a ‘milw0rm’ email exploit. Well, well known to hackers and such.

I’m not sure what to think about this. It could be a hoax. This is the reason given for the hack:

Alarmed by the Potter’s undermining of the Christian faith and disturbed by its “Neo Paganism”, the hackers say they made the spoiler “to make reading of the upcoming book useless and boring.”

I may be going out on a limb, but I’m guessing that most hackers don’t give a damn about Harry Potter and his Neo Paganism. This reasoning set off the ‘hoax’ bells for me. I could be wrong. There could be a group of l33t, fundamentalist Christian hackers just salivating at the chance to spoil the last Potter book for everyone. In which case, he/she/they is/are idiots. But again, the fact that this was posted on an security focused web site leads me to think, again, they did this to pump themselves up.

How did they know which person to send the email to? How did they know where the manuscript was kept? Just some of the questions that arise. The Inquirer is awaiting word back from Bloomsbury about the alleged hack.

If this is true, the people responsible are sad, pathetic excuses for a human being, and should be forced from their mother’s basement in shame. But they won’t be, as that would require having social skills.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 6/21/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Gail Z. Martin, author of The Summoner, is promoting her upcoming book The Blood King, book two in The Chronicles of The Necromancer, by offering us an excerpt.

To set the scene: After arriving in Principality, the Sisterhood sends for Tris and Carina to begin his magical training in earnest. The Sisterhood tells Tris that they fear he may not be up to the challenge, and their greatest fear is that he would be possessed by the reemergent Obsidian King, returning that ancient evil to a human body with the power of a Summoner. The Sisterhood is clear-they consider it better for Tris to fail and die during his training than to fail against the Obsidian King and be possessed. His training will be brutal, pushing him to his limits, and letting pain be his foremost teacher.

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The Shatner Show

Calgary’s Uppercase Gallery is currently (June 16 and ending August 31, 2007) presenting The Shatner Show, a collection of art from various artists depicting The Shat. A portion of all the proceeds from the show will go to benefit the charity Shatner founded, www.horseshow.org.

The website shows only a portion of the artwork, but what a nice selection collection it is. Check out Lego-head Shatner!

There’s also a book to go along with the exhibit. And the website has a blog called, what else, The Captain’s Blog.

[via SF Scope]

Filed under: Events

SF Tidbits for 6/20/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: The Swarm by Frank Schatzing

REVIEW SUMMARY: A book that should appeal to both science fiction and non-science fiction audiences.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The creatures of the sea rise up against man but something else seems to be in command (cue scary underwater menace music)…

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Raises interesting questions about intelligence and what form it will take; lots of excellent science here

CONS: A little too heavy handed about environmentalism and a little cliche at the end

BOTTOM LINE: A Peter Benchley-esque book with some unique twists and excellent flow.

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ApolloCon 2007

This year’s ApolloCon, Houston’s science fiction, fantasy and horror conference, happens June 22 through June 24.

Guests include C. S. Friedman (The Coldfire Trilogy, This Alien Shore, Feast Of Souls), David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer (the über-editing team of the Year’s Best SF series and The Space Opera Renaissance), Chris Roberson (Here, There & Everywhere, Paragaea, X-Men: The Return), John Cramer (Twistor), Jayme Blaschke, Martha Wells and Artist Jeff Sturgeon, among others.

Hopefully this addresses JP’s concerns about sf authors coming to Houston. [Looks at JP.]

Filed under: Events

REVIEW SUMMARY: A promising first novel.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: After most of humanity slips into a coma, two factions fight over the future of mankind.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Engrossing; fast-paced; intriguing premise; uses real-life Mayan Prophecy.

CONS: Signs of First Novel Syndrome.

BOTTOM LINE: An engaging scientific/supernatural thriller.

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Filed under: Book Review

SF Tidbits for 6/19/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Eric Johnson On Flash Gordon

Last week, EW scored an interview with actor Eric Johnson, who will be playing Flash Gordon in the upcoming SciFi Channel series of the same name.

Some interesting nuggets o’ info:

  • Johnson wasn’t too familiar with the body of Flash work. He did know the name, but not much else.
  • SciFi’s Flash is a marathon runner and drives a ’67 convertible Firebird.
  • While the Mongo sets may be elaborate, Flash won’t be using a spaceship for travel. Instead, wormholes will be used. Shades of Pandora’s Star
  • Not only will Flash have to deal with Dale and Princess Aura, there will also be a hawt bounty hunter to contend with named Baylin, played by Karen Cliche. Rawr.

I’m not sure about this one. Looking at some of the production stills gives me a sense of ‘cheese’. Of course, Flash always had a lot of that to begin with. If its going to be cheesy, it should at least be fun and funny, otherwise it will be painful to watch. Much like watching Buck Rogers with adult eyes….

Filed under: TV

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