Here’s a great read [link via Backwards City]: IGN’s 5-page article The Influence of Literature and Myth in Videogames.
“It’s hard to name a single science fiction author, but Robert Heinlein would be at the top of the list,” said Hennig. “He and other classic sci-fi writers like Larry Niven, E.E. Smith and Orson Scott Card have had a huge influence on the development of the science fiction genre in games, from the first mainframe computer games to Halo.”
There have been a few direct collaborations between game developers and science fiction writers. Though it didn’t fare well critically or commercially, Advent Rising was a rare collaboration between science fiction writer Orson Scott Card and developer Glyphx. Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” was also a standout PC game for many.
[Cross-posted on Gaming Signal]
Tonight was the After Dark Bash at the JavaOne developer conference in San Francisco. The theme was “Weird Science” which, as far as I could tell, was chosen because the guests of honor were those two dudes from Mythbusters. Their very first statement was that they were not going to blow anything up. [Insert sound of thousands of disappointed geeks. With echoes.] They did have a contest to see which team could shoot T-shirts the longest distance from an air cannon. I almost got hit in the head with one. Later, I managed to catch a fumble from a cluster of all-too-eager fellow nerds. Sweet. We likes the freebies. The room had various classic sci-fi-like decorations around the huge, huge room. They even had live-action displays of mad scientists and such. They also projected random scenes from sci-fi movies onto a huge spherical screen in the center of the room. To watch that and listen to the blaring disco-thump of the music (and almost being hit in the head with a T-shirt) was a little on the surreal side.
Pro-gamer Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendell was also on hand and playing Quake with any attendees brave enough to get fragged in front of thousands of their geek brethren. Not being a big gamer, I opted for the plentiful supplies of food. Mmmm…giant oatmeal raisin cookies… We likes the sugary freebies even better.
In a sugar-induced coma, I decided not to stay for the all-girl cover band, Ac/DShe, although now that the sugar buzz is gone, I might be regretting that decision. Or not.
Games • Science and Technology
REVIEW SUMMARY: A first-rate science fiction novel filled with thought-provoking ideas.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Genetic engineering produces a race of humans that do not require sleep, thus they become more productive and, through economic pressure, disrupt the fabric of society.
PROS: Thought-provoking ideas; lots of things happen; fast-paced plot.
CONS: The last parts of the book felt slightly weaker, but I have to admit that I was only able to read it piecemeal over many days, which weakened my perception the storytelling.
BOTTOM LINE: A book so good, you’ll want to read the sequels.
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The May 2006 issue of Locus Magazine has a fascinating feature story on young adult fiction. They give the statistics that roughly shows that the number of YA genre titles published has more than doubled in the last ten years.
They also capture thoughts on the YA market from some people in the YA community. I found some of their comments to be very interesting and thought I’d share some of them. Keep in mind that (1) these are my summations of their words, and (2) this is a small subset of a very interesting feature – Buy the latest issue of Locus Magazine to see more.
Author Ursula K. Le Guin’s thoughts on YA:
- Authors and parents need to be responsible when presenting fiction to kids; some of it can be age-inappropriate.
- Like science fiction itself, young adult fiction is often dismissed by people who haven’t read it.
- Young adults are great to write for because they are very vocal and provide good feedback.
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I’m San Francisco this week on business. I had hoped to check out the science fiction scene here, by which I mean visit some used bookstores and beef up my already over-beefed sf collection. Another thing I had hoped was to attend some sci-fi events but, alas, they conflict with the business thing.
There’s a San Francisco based sf group here, who point to such goodies as Monday’s X-Men 3 publicity meet at the Golden Gate Bridge (which appears in the movie). I missed it. I was hoping to meet Halle Berry to, you know, compare notes on sci-fi. Two very large notes. (Did I just type that?)
On Tuesday there’s a monthly “SF in SF” author reading by Pat Murphy and Terry Bisson. I’ll be missing that too.
I also just learned that this past weekend was the World Horror Convention with attendees including authors, artist John Picacio and the crew from Locus Magazine. Too bad I missed it. I could have asked Locus to send my issues in a metal container as someone in the U.S. Postal Service insists on unsealing all of mine to read it and deliver it late.
This weekend, Alan Dean Foster will be appearing at Borderlands Books. By then, my business will be over, so I hope to be going there. Too bad I haven’t read any of his stuff.
A blog post at the University of Nebraska Press ponders the reason most science fiction is absorbed through non-book media like movies, games, etc. They refer to The Golden Age of Readers when sf fans turned to books for their science fiction fix.
I’m not sure what the basis is for saying that most sf is experienced through non-book media. Certainly, the large number of genre books published leads me to think that books do OK. I am one of those who prefer book sf over other forms, but many people don’t. As one SF Signal commenter (Dan) noted, even Revolution SF’s list of sf heroines is suspiciously lacking characters from books.
Why would readership be declining, the University of Nebraska Press post asks? There are other issues alluded to in that post that muddy the waters (sf as pop literature, for example) but the reason people might turn to other media, I think, is that there are many more choices vying for our attention these days. There’s less time to devote to books when the Internet, video games and movies offer alternate – and sometimes quicker – choices. In the early days of Asimov, the only place you could experience a worldwide network was in books. Video gaming was unheard of, let alone home video gaming with thousands of software titles. And the creation of the movie blockbuster pushed Hollywood in the direction of special-effects-laden sci-fi. None of this was around in the early days of sf. Today, our time and money is divided amongst more players.
Do you read less these days? Why?
If you’re like me – and I recommend you pause here to hope that you’re not – you do much of your blog reading through news readers. When I’m feeling adventurous I like to visit the actual sites to see what I might be missing by reading only newsfeeds. It occurs to me (that happens sometimes…things occur to me) that SF Signal’s RSS reader’s might be missing some of the crunchy science fictiony goodness that we have to offer. So, to that end, we present:
10 Things SF Signal’s RSS Subscribers Might Be Missing
- SF Signal’s Frappr Map – Everyone who signs up gets to be represented by a Google map push pin. For free!
- Recent Comments – Marvel at the witty repartee of our regular readers and nod at the incoherent babble and smiley abuse by drive-by spammers!
- SF Quotes – capturing the capturable since 2003!
- The SF Signal poll – Have you participated? [ ]Yes [ ]No
- SF Signal bookshelves – See what we dare to read! One day soon. We promise. But only in a non-committal sort of way.
- Short-Story-a-Day Point Tracker – Check in on the latest progress on what others are calling “WTF?”
- SF Signal links – Some sites we like, none we don’t. We even link to author blogs!
- Past Ramblings – We’ve had some great discussions in the past that get hidden under the blog format. These random posts from the past remind us why we are so marvelous.
- Site Search – Search our vast archives for the stuff you care about. Show us it’s more than Kate Beckinsale!
- Meta-Signal goodies - See what’s in the SF Signal library; add SF Signal to your Google toolbar (RSS too!); Mail us; Link to sister-site Gaming Signal; Read about us. (It is, after all, all about us.)
By JP Frantz
| Monday, May 15th, 2006 at
This past Saturday, Stanford University helded the Singularity Summit, where various speakers debated the topic of the Singularity and if one will happen. The ZDnet article is a nice overview of what went on with some links to further responses to the debate. The summit web page has a really nice introductory reading list to get you up to speed on the current thinking.
As for me, I’m not sure what to think. I’m not sure that the holy grail of AI (strong AI in the parlance) is imminently achievable, if we can even get there at all. I think we’ll have to get to quatum computers before we can achieve strong AI, IMO. At that point, if we reach it, I can see machine intelligence leaving us far behind. Which is why its a cool concept and certainly a fertile field for SF.
Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.
Will you be buying the unaltered versions of Star Wars on DVD?
Be sure to vote in this week’s poll on gettting kids hooked on sf/f.
I often see sf forum posts from bewildered sf fans asking the audience what they should read next. People are quick to offer up their favorite titles, both past and recent. This usually results in the undecided reader having a rather nice selection of titles from which to choose.
Being a self-proclaimed biblioholic, I have the opposite problem. I have no problem finding books to read, I have a problem deciding which books to not read. There are too many from which to choose. I own so many darned books (Hello, my name is John and I’m a biblioholic) that I cannot possibly read them all in my lifetime unless I suddenly develop inhuman Klausnerian powers that would allow me to read about 50 of them at a clip.
On the bright side, picking my next book is a whole lot of fun. When I need to restock my “immediate” to-read pile, I get to rummage through the “library”. (The term “library” here is meant to mean an inordinate number of boxes filled with books that I want to read.) This is loads of fun for me because it’s like going to a bookstore where every single book is something that interests me. I swear, I’m like a kid in a candy store.
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Revolution SF has completed their 5-part series on the Top 75 Heroines of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror.
You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t go read the writeup on each choice. It was done in parts, so they are grouped from 1-10, 11-20, 21-35, 36-55 and 56-75.
For those with short attention spans, here are the Top 10:
- Ellen Ripley from the Alien Movies
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Dr. Dana Scully from The X-Files
- Wonder Woman
- Sarah Connor from the Terminator films
- Princess Leia from the Star Wars Trilogy
- Xena, Warrior Princess.
- Trinity from the Matrix films.
- Emma Peel from The Avengers.
- Lady Jessica from Frank Herbert’s Dune.
From The Movie Blog comes news of some “lost” Star Wars footage. And by “lost” I mean footage I haven’t seen. The scene, called “Biggs’ Return”, shows Luke with his homeys and Biggs talking up the rebellion.
Personally, I think the Gilligan look works for Luke. I can just imagine Han Solo hitting him over the head and calling him “Little Buddy”. Maybe Lucas can work some of that in when he CGIs the crap out of it for the 30th Anniversary Super Platinum Mega-pak Uber-Extended Classic edition DVD release. I’m just sayin…
This week marks the beginning of a year-long weekly comic serial by DC Comics called 52. The New York Daily News picked up the story:
The 52-issue series starts in the wake of the publisher’s just-ended “Infinite Crisis,” the type of big event mini-series that fans have come to expect annually to kill off a few extraneous super heroes, and sell extra issues. That series left off with the entire DC Universe – home to the likes of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman – pushed forward one year in time.
The aptly named “52” tells the story of what happened week by week in that lost year. While every comic book fan goes into the series knowing what happened before and after the series, DiDio insists there is plenty of room for surprises.
With each issue covering one seven day period, it’s the comic book answer to the real-time format of television’s “24.”
More goodness: Newsarama offers a teaser by way of an interview with 52 editor Steve Wacker.
REVIEW SUMMARY: A very good collection of sf-mystery stories.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Six science fiction mystery novellas.
PROS: Every single story was enjoyable.
CONS: The weakest story, while still good, mars an otherwise nearly-flawless collection.
BOTTOM LINE: An anthology that’s better than most – including some “best of” anthologies.
Down These Dark Spaceways, edited by Mike Resnick, collects six original novellas combining the genres of science fiction and mystery. The goal set by Resnick was to avoid “cozy mysteries” like Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and deliver the hardboiled mystery in the vein of Dashiell Hammet or Raymond Chandler. Many of the stories succeed with that goal but perhaps more importantly, they are all enjoyable stories
The list of big name authors that contribute to this anthology is impressive. All of them deliver. There was one standout story here: Resnick’s own “Guardian Angel”, but the others came darned close. Even the weakest story was still worth the read. In the end, Down These Dark Spaceways offers a collection of stories that is better than most – including some “best of” anthologies.
Reviewlettes of the stories follow.
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