The Matrix has been named the best science-fiction movie or TV show of the past 25 years in a new Entertainment Weekly magazine poll.

[UPDATED with EW link and full list of 25]

  1. The Matrix
  2. Battlestar Galactica (TV)
  3. Blade Runner
  4. The X-Files (TV)
  5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  6. Brazil
  7. E.T.
  8. Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV)
  9. Aliens
  10. The Thing
  11. Lost
  12. Back to the Future
  13. The Terminator/Terminator 2
  14. Children of Men
  15. Firefly (TV)/Serenity
  16. Total Recall
  17. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  18. Heroes (TV)
  19. Starship Troopers
  20. Star Wars: Clone Wars (TV)
  21. Futurama (TV)
  22. Quantum Leap (TV)
  23. Doctor Who (TV)
  24. Galaxy Quest
  25. V: The Miniseries (TV)

Filed under: Movies

SF Tidbits for 5/4/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett


(For more Pratchett reviews, see The Great Pratchett Reading Project table.)

This book starts off The Watch series of novels which introduces some of my most favorite characters from Discworld, the Night Watch. In this book, the Night Watch is not a prestigious position, and is commanded by Captain Sam Vimes. He only has Sergant Colon and Corporal Nobbs under his command when Carrot is sent to Anhk-Morpork by his adopted dwarven father. In this book, we see the first steps in the transformation of both the Watch and of Sam Vimes into respectable and important parts of Anhk-Morpork. In between all that transforming, we have shadowy summoners, dragons of all sizes, romance and an almost fairy tale type fashion which I found very entertaining.

This book was laugh out loud funny for me in several locations with some famous scenes from movies and TV being transformed into something appropriate for Discworld. There is a Dirty Harry-esque scene involving a dragon and Sam Vimes in furry slippers that was genious in its own way, and it is just another reason why these novels work. When combined with the banter of the “villians” of this novel, you have a very funny book. The other advantage for readers of this particular series of books is that they are not the first Discworld books and demonstrate Mr. Pratchett’s growth as a writer.

If someone were to ask me where to start when reading Discworld novels, I would suggest here. Admittedly there would be some characters that are not as fleshed out and some questions regaring the world, but that is a minor when compared with the humor and enjoyment found here.

Filed under: Book Review

REVIEW: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett


(For more Pratchett reviews, see The Great Pratchett Reading Project table.)

Way back when, Equal Rites was the third Discworld novel I had ever read. I remember being pretty much non-plussed about it. After rereading the book again, I can say that I still have the same noncommittal feeling for it. It’s hard to say exactly why. Equal Rites, unlike The Color Of Magic, is a single cohesive story so there isn’t any jarring jumps in the story line. It does have the usual Pratchett array of witticisms and parodying of genre conventions, but on the whole, it just doesn’t rise above being mediocre.

In fact, I think I have this same feeling for just about all of the books in the Witches series of books. Maybe its because I’m just not interested in the witches as characters or their stories. In Equal Rites we have Eskarina Smith and her attempts, with Granny Weatherwax, to become the first female wizard. Pratchett takes all the obvious shots at equality between the sexes and the pigheadedness of male dominated organizations. Perhaps that’s why the book never seems to rise higher than it does. While this sort of thing may have been ‘new’ in 1987, the idea of satirizing the battle of the sexes is, by now, well worn and tired. Even Pratchett’s usual humorous tricks don’t raise the level of the story.

Which is too bad, since most of the other Discworld novels are at a higher level than mediocre. I’ll be reading Wyrd Sisters next so I’ll get a chance to put my memories to the test. At least the Witch novels going forward will have Granny’s cantankerous one-eyed cat, Greebo, to help things along. If your looking to get into Discworld, I’d recommend starting elsewhere, like with Guards! Guards! or The Color Of Magic.

Filed under: Book Review

Thanks to Quiddty for turning me on to this IMDB game.

My job: I went to IMDB and looked up 15 movies. Listed below are four official “Plot Keywords” for each movie.

Your job: Name these movies!

  1. Stripper Dancing With Snake / Owl / Broken Finger / Killer Robot
  2. Future / Visceral / Claustrophobic / Impregnation
  3. Messiah / Wuxia Fiction / Young Boy / War
  4. Skin Care / Future Noir / Paraplegic / Perfection
  5. Saving The World Mission / Extraterrestrial / Space Travel / Alien Space Craft
  6. Advertising / Attempted Murder / Clairvoyant / Eye Surgery
  7. Very Little Dialogue / Surrealism / Astronaut / Talking Computer
  8. Prophecy / Cat / Subway / Cyberspace
  9. Sunglases / Tabloid / Cat / Spoof
  10. Cryogenics / Post Apocalyptic / Horseback Riding / Beach
  11. Human Versus Computer / Gladiator / Frisbee / Video Game
  12. Revenge / Spacecraft / Sandstorm / Midlife Crisis
  13. Evolution / Prejudice / Wheelchair / New York City
  14. End Of Civilization / Bikini / Big Ben / Inventor
  15. Robot / Scientist / UFO / Washington Monument

SPOILER WARNING: The comments contain the answers.

Filed under: Movies

Books: Try Before You Buy

With so many authors offering their books for free online (not to mention the Baen Free Library), it’s easy to forget that age-old concept of the excerpt. Publishers continue their efforts to get books noticed by offering teaser chapters of books. Here are just some of the current and future science fiction titles that you can try online for free.

Filed under: Books

WINNER: 2007 Arthur C. Clarke Award

The winner of this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award for best SF novel first published in Britain in 2006 is M. John Harrison’s Nova Swing.

See also: Past winners.

[via Locus Online]

Filed under: Awards

SF Tidbits for 5/3/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Hilarious! Conan Visits Lucas’ ILM

George Lucas was on Conan last night. See the interview here, but the much more interesting thing was Conan’s visit to Industrial Light and Magic…

Filed under: HumorStar Wars

INTERVIEW: Gail Martin

Although Gail Martin has experience as a marketing executive, a consultant and a teacher of public relations writing and public speaking, her passion has always been writing – particularly writing science fiction, fantasy and ghost stories. Her first story – written at age 5 – was about a vampire. Her favorite TV shows as a preschooler were Dark Shadows and Lost in Space. In college, she launched her own fanzine. She still enjoys attending science fiction/fantasy conventions, Renaissance fairs and living history sites. Her first full-length novel, The Summoner (published by Solaris Books…read a sample chapter!), is described as “an epic, engrossing tale of loss and revenge, of life and afterlife – and the thin line between them.” SF Signal had the opportunity to talk to Gail via email about the The Summoner, influences of her writing and what lies ahead.

SF Signal: Hi Gail. What inspired you to become an author?

Gail Martin: I decided to become an author when I was 14. I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, and I’ve written stories for as long. One of the wonderful things about being a writer is that you get to write the stories you want to read!

SFS: What authors do you most admire, and why?

GM: There are so many! Mercedes Lackey, Douglas Adams, J.K. Rowling, Spider Robinson, Barbara Hambley, David Drake, Katherine Kurtz, David Eddings, Anne Rice, Anne Lamott, Piers Anthony.

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Interviews

Top 10 SF Signal Posts for April 2007

As per Google Analytics, here are The Top 10 SF Signal Posts for April 2007:

  1. Reader Challenge #6 – The Harry Potter Outreach Program
  2. REVIEW: 2007 Hugo Award Short Fiction Nominees
  3. POLL RESULTS: Which Novel Should Win the 2007 Hugo Award?
  4. Kurt Vonnegut Documentary
  5. Serenity Displaces Star Wars as Favorite Film
  6. REVIEW: Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder
  7. INTERVIEW: Greg Bear
  8. Stephen King: How to Bury a Book
  9. REVIEW: His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
  10. Summer 2007 Sci-Fi Movie Slate

Looking at the top overall hits, while ignoring those listed above, we get these stats for older posts that were popular in April…

  1. Solve Rubik’s Cube
  2. NOMINEES: 2007 Hugo Award
  3. SF/F Writers Who Blog
  4. REVIEW: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  5. REVIEW: The Prestige by Christopher Priest
  6. Here’s a shocker… (The Klausner Post)
  7. Top 10 Star Wars Spoofs
  8. Forklift Safety Video
  9. Sequel to 28 Days Later
  10. REVIEW: Eldest by Christopher Paolini

Filed under: Meta

SF Tidbits for 5/2/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Talking Science Fiction: On Screen

Today has been a rather interesting day for Science Fiction related news regarding SF on screen.

We all know that John ‘loves‘ him some Blade Runner. Therefor, I think he’ll find this bit of Blade Runner news interesting. It looks like Joanna Cassidey, the actress who played the replicant Zhora, has just recently finished shooting some new scenes for the upcoming special release. Why is Ridley Scott going all Lucas on his film? Well, it seems he and John both dislike the Director’s Cut of the movie, and, unlike John, Scott can actually do something about it. One other thought: How is it that Scott, the director, who created the Director’s Cut (allegedly), can be unhappy with the existing Director’s Cut? The mind boggles.

Moviehole is reporting that the short lived series, Dead Like Me, is being revived as a feature film. No word on casting, but getting Mandy Patinkin gives the produces the chance to have him say: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed me. Prepare to die!”

John has already detailed CBS’ plans for a zombie prime time TV show, but they are also producing a pilot for a show called Demons, about a priest who is fighting against Satan. Nothing new, really, except it will be on prime time TV. I likes me some zombies so it’ll be interesting to see how a relationship show couched in a zombie format will actually play out. Something like: “How was your day, dear?” “BRAINS!!!!”

The History Channel has obtained 94 short documentaries from George Lucas, which it will air over the coming months. These documentaries were shot in conjunction with The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones TV series, but were never aired. Hopefully this will tide you over until Indy 4 is in the can. No word on whether Lucas plans to go back and edit his documentary to make the cops shoot at Al Capone first.

Filed under: MoviesTV

REVIEW: Alien Crimes edited by Mike Resnick

REVIEW SUMMARY: A worthy successor to Down These Dark Spaceways.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: An anthology of six original science fiction mystery novellas.


PROS: Five novellas good or better; two of them standouts.

CONS: One story was too long and moved too slowly.

BOTTOM LINE: Another enjoyable anthology of detective fiction from Resnick.

In his new anthology, Alien Crimes, Mike Resnick follows up his previous (and slightly better) hard-boiled detective fiction anthology, Down These Dark Spaceways, by challenging authors to write crime fiction that is specifically not hard-boiled. I am continually amazed at how such an objective can yield stories of such varying topics. But perhaps this is more a statement on the science fiction genre itself than on the sub-sub-sub genre of non-hard-boiled detective sf.

All stories presented here are, as advertised, science fiction mystery stories (even though the Williams story starts out as fantasy). However, the mystery element appears in varying degrees. Some stories are constructed as classic mysteries, others are science fiction stories based around a crime. In any case, only one story (“Dark Heaven”) failed to entertain. The standout stories here are “Nothing Personal” by Pat Cadigan and “A Locked-Planet Mystery” by Mike Resnick.

Reviewlettes follow

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Book Review

Tuesday YouTube: Luke Skywalker Humiliates Rebel Pilot

Filed under: HumorStar Wars

SF Tidbits for 5/1/07

Filed under: Tidbits

The BBC talks to Alastair Reynolds (The Prefect) about whether current technology has out-paced science fiction:

The common complaint now is that science fiction is already outmoded because we are living in a science fiction universe,” says Mr Reynolds. “I’ve got some sympathy with that. Only the other day I was in Amsterdam airport and I noticed security guards nipping around on Segways with machine guns.

“If you had been transported from 1997 into this year, you would be incredulous and think of it as science fiction.

“But we accept it as part of the fabric of our world.”

Mr Reynolds believes that the pace of change makes science fiction essential reading, now more than ever.

Filed under: BooksScience and Technology

Gwyneth Jones writes about how cyberpunk turned out to have some fairly accurate predictive powers:

In the 1980s, a new kind of science fiction emerged, like a supernova, blasting the old finned spaceships, streamlined Metropolis robots and tentacled aliens out of the sky. Called “cyberpunk”, the manifesto went like this: in the foreseeable future there will be no aliens, and no trips to distant planets. Digital technology, however, will get better and better, throwing up fantastic new gadgets that will not remain in the hands of the wealthy. Every punk will have a supercomputer in his pocket (and this was before desktop PCs, mind you, when video-camera, wi-fi internet access phones weren’t even a twinkle in a Finnish eye). And everything else in the world will get much, much, worse.

The science-fiction establishment hated cyberpunks. Science fiction was supposed to be about progress and how advances in technology would create a better world. But they were right, and the truth they told is highly relevant to this new century of sci-fi come true. If a child is told at the age of five that he has the cognitive scan of a delinquent, there’s a very strong chance that he’ll fulfil that prediction.

Filed under: BooksScience and Technology

SF Tidbits for 4/30/07

Filed under: Tidbits

POLL RESULTS: Summer 2007 Movies

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Which of these 2007 summer movies are you most likely to see?


(139 total votes)

Comments this week:

“I’d be remiss as a Neil Gaiman fan if I didn’t go see Stardust…but I can’t wait for Spider-Man 3. Or Pirates 3. Or Harry Potter 5. Or…Or…Or… This list needs a “Resounding All Of The Above” choice, dag-nabbit!” – Pete Tz.

“Meh. I remain a SF snob. Nothing wrong with superhero movies, but I am unlikely to view them in the theater. (I have not seen the previous Spiderman or Fantastic Four in the theaters.) I am not a zombie/horror or fantasy fan knocking out four others on the list. I haven’t heard of Stardust or the Invasion, but the titles intrigue me. I would not mind seeing about half of these in theaters, but given my sporatic theater attendance, I’m not likely to see any.” – Kristen

“I hate to say it but Fido looks somewhat interesting to me. Sort of like the end of Shawn of the Dead taken to the next level plus all that Pleasantville type scenery. Just oozes shmultz..” – Tim

“I’d also vote for HP (I voted for Stardust). Shrek might be one for the family; we’ll see. As for the rest? Meh.” – Fred Kiesche

“I will probably see 8 out 10 of these movies.Looks to be an interesting and perhaps good summer for the movies.” – Ed

Be sure to vote in this week’s poll about Book Signings!

Filed under: Polls

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