Two book-related websites crossed my path today…
First up is BookJetty, a “user-friendly book cataloging system, where you can catalog, tag, rate and review your books, and check your books availability seamlessly from 300 libraries worldwide.”
Second is WorldCat, “a publicly accessible online interface to the holdings of all types of libraries throughout the world: currently 57,000 libraries in 112 countries. Tell it what book you’re looking for and your zip code or city, and it will pinpoint the nearest library that has the book.”
This are neat ideas. I’m not sure I’ll personally use them (borrow from a library instead of own?!?!) but it’s nice to know that, not only is there an LP of Theodore Sturgeon reading his stories, but the nearest one to me is 1800 miles away. (For those too young to know what an LP is, it’s like a giant, black CD that scratches easily.)
[via MonkeyFilter and Consumerist]
By JP Frantz
| Thursday, October 4th, 2007 at
Scientific American has a nice little article covering an area of astronomy you probably don’t think much about: When a new extrasolar planet is discovered, how do the artists illustrate a planet they’ve never seen?
Turns out, there’s a lot of science behind the illustrations, of course. Things like planetary size determine whether the planet is a gas giant or ball of rock. Composition can determine the colors of the atmosphere, and distance from the star can give dramatic artistic visualization to an illustration. It’s all covered.
As a bonus, the article also mentions Lynette Cook as one of the artists NASA contacts to create an illustration. Check out her website for some really nice pictures. Heck, go check out the Spitzer Space Telescope’s Artist’s Conception page for even more eye candy, many wallpaper worthy.
Space • Web Sites
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and FanLib, an online fan creativity hub, are having a fan fiction writing contest centered around Scott Westerfelds latest book in the Uglies series: Extras. The winning prize is a one-of-a-kind Playstation 3 reskinned with the cover artwork of the book.
The Uglies series has been described as “a dystopian futuristic series that is a mix of Logan’s Run and The Twilight Zone episode “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”, with teens required to get plastic surgery at the age of 16 to become physically perfect, and what happens when some teens resist the process. Dark science-fiction with razor-sharp social commentary.”
I met Westerfeld earlier this year at the local Teen Lit Fest 2007. (Can you say “creepy old guy hanging out at a high school event”?) He talked about Uglies and the ideas behind it and it does sound really cool, in a classic sf way. I loved Westerfeld’s Succession books, but his wild popularity with this series (and others) in the young adult market probably means he won’t be returning anytime soon.
The website for Honorverse: The Online Game has just launched.
The game is based on David Weber’s Honor Harrington series of books and allows players to design and build space stations and fleets of ships, implement battle tactics, optionally set economic policies, and more. You can even create your own flags, insignia and national anthem.
The game itself is not due until the Fall of 2008. For now, check out the game’s trailer.
[Yet-another-h/t to Fred K.]
Books • Games • Web Sites
By JP Frantz
| Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007 at
And you thought model rocketry consisted of those Estes kits you can buy in stores. Silly you. After seeing the above pic, don’t you wish you knew more about rocketry so you could build your own 21-ft. X-Wing Fighter and then launch it, powered by 4 M class solid rocket boosters. Those are pretty big, in case you were wondering. And that’s exactly what Polecat Aerospace has done. Fresh off building and launching a 1/16 scale model of the Soviet N1 rocket (analogous to the Saturn V), they turned their project eyes towards something much more fantastical: The X-Wing.
As if just building and launching an X-Wing isn’t cool enough, Polecat didn’t stop there. Oh no. These Star Wars fanatics went even farther. The wings actually split apart in flight, as seen in the movies, and they added an RC R2-D2, complete with sound. Awesome.
As for recovery, this sucker uses three remote deployed man-rated parachutes to waft gently to the ground. They hope. Keep your eyes open on October 6th, that’s the day scheduled for launch. Let’s hope all their hard work isn’t for naught.
[H/T to Kotaku for the link.]
I watched the Season 2 finale of Eureka. This is one of the shows I like enough to commit to watching every week. Similar to earlier in the season, here are my random thoughts on all of season 2.
**** (Spoiler Warning!)****
Read the rest of this entry
By JP Frantz
| Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007 at
One enlightened, and funny, dad decided to show his daughter how not to do a report on Mars. The result is the video below. I bet you didn’t know half the stuff in there….
Humor • Space
For the uninitiated, like me, it’s nice to know that The New York Review of Science Fiction hosts regular readings at New York’s South Street Seaport Museum. Tonight, Samuel R. Delany kicks off the new season by commemorating the 40th anniversary of “The Star-Pit”, his Hugo-winning space opera turned radio broadcast about galaxy hoppers.
This sounds so cool. My rare visits to South Street in my youth were usually initiated by promises of large crowds and liquor At least I think so. Did I mention the liquor?
Notes on ‘The Star-Pit’ by Samuel R. Delany.
Upcoming New York Review of Science Fiction readings.
[via New York magazine]
By JP Frantz
| Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007 at
I’m probably the last person to realize that Disney/Pixar is working on a a new movie for next summer, called Wall E. Well, a new trailer has been released for your viewing pleasure. Take a look.
Even though Wall E himself looks like a cross between E.T. and Johnny 5, he is far cuter and more expressive in 60+ seconds than either of them. As a bonus, the plot is very SF oriented, concerning humanity leaving Earth and failing to return. It’s up to Wall E to help bring humanity back.
It looks like Pixar may be back on the ‘hit’ train, which seems to have left the station after The Incredibles. I’m now officially stoked to see this movie next June.
Now with 100% more Lyle Waggoner!
Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.
Which of the following is your favorite David Cronenberg movie?
A bunch of comments this week:
“Stephen King’s ‘The Dead Zone’ is one of my favorite Top Five novels. Not just in scifi, or any genre sub-category — but in all the novels I have read. I thought the movie did an admirable job in bringing the story to the screen. Christopher Walker was awesome — he brought Johnny Smith to life. I had hopes for the TV Series…but that didn’t last long.” – Morjana
“I will always have a weak spot for eXistenZ. I even adapted the tagline ‘Death to the Demoness!’ as a way of relieving tension at my (then) hellish boss.” – Paul
“Crash. I’m surprised Dead Zone is getting many votes, it’s the least Cronenberg of all his films!” – James Grebmops
“Clive Barker’s Nightbreed or Crash (1996)” – Allan
“The year 1999 was good. It was three movies about virtual reality: Matrix, The Thirteenth Floor and eXistenZ. For me, all are very good SF movies.” – girotix
“I had to vote for Videodrome, although ExistenZ was a close second. Christopher Eccleston is like icing – everything is better with him added to it.” – Misty
“Dead Ringers: Emotionally powerful, intelligent horror. Unique.” – Matte Lozenge
“Tough question really Cronenberg has done a lot of good movies, but my favorite is non-SF, A History of Violence. As far as SF goes, The Dead Zone wins.” – Jim
“I picked ‘The Fly’ simply because it was the only one of the six that I remember actually having a plot.” – joshua corning
“Favourite Cronenberg is ‘A History of Violence’. I hear the new one is quite good as well.” – Wes
Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll on Blade Runner: The Final Cut DVD!