- Sylar, on Heroes, turned out to be somewhat of a paper tiger in the finale. But Tim Kring says the new baddies for season 2 will make Sylar look tame by comparison. Let’s hope we get a better finale too. Also, David Anders of Alias fame has been signed for the entire season. He’ll be playing the part of Kensei. Funny, he doesn’t look like a Japanese warlord. Hmm.
- Not necessarily science fiction, but TV Geekery has a list of 100 sites to watch TV on the web. You may have to install plug-ins to do it though.
- Want to see the casting sheet for Trek XI? Now you can! Thanks to SciFi Scanner and Ain’t It Cool News for the info.
- Jericho has started production on season 2. But the cast wants you to know that they have no plans to stop shooting with only 7 episodes. So if you want their plans to come to fruition, you know what to do. But no watching on Tivo!
- Apparently being the OC with superpowers isn’t enough for Smallville. MeeVee is saying that former Superman Dean Cain will appear on the show as well has former Supergirl Helen Slater. Supergirl? It’s a toss up between that and Superman IV for worst Superman related movie. Yikes.
Filed under: Tube Bits
- The Colorado Springs Gazette profiles Kevin J. Anderson, author of Slan Hunter, sequel to the A.E. van Vogt book Slan.
- David Louis Edelman has finished writing MultiReal, the sequel to InfoQuake.
- SciFi Weekly interviews Neil Gaiman.
- At Strange Horizons, Adam Roberts reviews Doctor Who Season 3 (with some spoilers for U.S. fans). “Not only is Doctor Who a kids’ show, its great glory inheres in that fact.” [via Big Dumb Object and Nicholas Whyte]
- Also at Strange Horizons, free fiction from Tim Pratt: “Artifice and Intelligence“.
- At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Matthew Jarpe, author of Radio Freefall.
- At the newly-redesigned site SF Novelists, Tobias Buckell asks: “Is the novel dead?” — “The exact form of the novel may change, but the act of writing words in order to create an experience in a reader’s head offers an advantage in fiction you won’t find in movies: the ability to live in someone else’s mind for the duration of a story.”
- Heavy Reading: The Mathematics Behind Quantum Computing in two parts. [via arsTechnica]
- Real science: Scientists have discovered a new way of levitating tiny objects – paving the way for future applications in nanotechnology. Cool. Now where’s my jetpack?
- Deadstock author Jeffrey Thomas is “always a bridesmaid and never a bride”.
Filed under: Tidbits
There have been a lot of mixed reviews for Masters of Science Fiction. I caught the first episode, “A Clean Escape“, and thought it was pretty good. As expected, it reminded me of The Outer Limits episodes of the 90’s. (Sam Egan was involved in both productions.)
In a nutshell, the episode (based on a short story by John Kessel) concerns the meetings between a man (Sam Waterston) who is having memory problems and a psychiatrist (Judy Davis). The acting was top-notch. The story they had to work with – a slowly unwrapped plot that’s pure world building – gave them something to sink their teeth into, and they leveraged it well.
My only complaint with the episode was that it felt a bit too long. They probably could have done it in 30 minutes. There were parts where I tried to move the story along by sheer force of will. That didn’t work, so instead I focused on the world building and the acting; it worked much better then.
I’ll tune in for episode 2 of this limited run series. Or at least my DVR will be tuned in. It isn’t bad enough that ABC is only showing only four of the six episodes, but they also squirreled it away to summertime Saturday nights.
Filed under: TV
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Anthology of 28 science fiction stories first published in 2006.
PROS: 22 stories worth reading; 4 of them outstanding.
CONS: 6 stories mediocre or worse.
BOTTOM LINE: Maintains the consistent high quality of previous editions.
The Year’s Best Science Fiction #24 is the sixth edition of this series I’ve read (see SF Signal reviews for editions #19, #20, #21, #22 and #23) and it continues to present a wide range of stories likely to offer something for anyone. Of course, that same strategy may also mean that there are some offerings that are not to taste, but overall this volume maintains a consistently good level of entertainment as compared with previous editions. As usual, editor Gardner Dozois also offers a comprehensive – though not as much as last year – summation of the science fiction landscape and a huge list of reading recommendations.
Even though there were some misses by this reader’s estimation, it must be noted that Dozois has an eye for well-received stories. Several of the ones included here have been chosen by other editors to be in their respective “best of” anthologies. Additionally, some of these stories were nominated for awards. (For more meta-sf Zen, check out SF Scope’s statistics for this edition.)
Of the twenty-eight stories in this volume, twenty-two of them were good or better, with four of those being outstanding. Six stories were of mediocre entertainment value or worse. The four standouts are “Tin Marsh” by Michael Swanwick, “Far As You Can Go” by Greg Van Eekhout, “Dead Men Walking” by Paul J. Mcauley and “Nightingale” by Alastair Reynolds. (Like last year’s edition, Alastair Reynolds grabbed two slots in the table of contents.)
As noted below, nine of the stories contained in this volume have been previously reviewed by me. Also, stories that are available online are linked.
Filed under: Book Review
- Boston.com has a Q&A with Doris Lessing. “With Shikasta (1979), Lessing branched out into science fiction, occasioning the sort of condemnation from certain quarters that Bob Dylan elicited when he went electric.”
- New website: Sci-Fi for Women, whose mission is “to provide a place that provides a ‘Gender Trancendent’ view of characters and stories.” Registration required.
- PS Publishing shows off the new cover of Starship Summer by Eric Brown.
- Entertainment Weekly issue #947 (August 10, 2007) reviews William Gibson’s Spook Country (Rating: B) and the SCiFi Channel’s Flash Gordon premiere (Rating: C)
- Orbiting Frog lists The 10 Strangest (Real) Things in Space.
Filed under: Tidbits
- La Dolce Vita reminisces about about Time Tunnel, and contrasts his/her childhood memories vs. the realty of the show. Verdict: fun if you’re a kid, not so much as an adult. this can be said of much early TV science fiction. I wonder how well the newer stuff will hold up?
- Charles G. at Blog Space has a short piece on the Sci-Fi Drive-In at Disney-MGM Studios. As with Charles, I’m from the Star Wars generation, but this place does look kinda fun. I’d definitely visit if I ever get to Disney-MGM. Additional links about the drive-in at the bottom of his post.
- Bankrate.com has a short interview with Damon Lindelof, executive producer of LOST. Damon says LOST wasn’t supposed to be a big hit, they were aiming to be a cult success. Looks like they over achieved.
- SyFy Portal has an article detailing the future plans for the internet TV show Sanctuary. Apparently a video game is in the works and a jump to the small screen isn’t out of the question.
- Periodically we find a post about re-imagining/re-booting or updating Star Trek. A poster on SF Fandom is the latest to do so, positing a couple of scenarios that don’t mesh with Rodenberry’s vision, but would certainly add some spice.
- Variety has a short article covering DVR use in Los Angeles. The upshot being that popular shows display a distinct uptick in ratings when the Nielsen “day plus seven” ratings are viewed. Even less popular shows show an increase in ratings. The results seems to indicate that shows that people are interested in will be recorded. These results are somewhat consistent with our post Does Tivo Kill Science Fiction?
Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.
The sci-fi anthology show Masters of Science Fiction airs this week. Do you plan on watching?
|(71 total votes)|
Filed under: Polls
Unless you’ve just returned from a round trip to Alpha Centauri, you know that the last installment in the Harry Potter series has been released to much fanfare (see our review). With the story finally at an end, you’d think everything would be wrapped up neatly. But you’d be wrong. Harry Potter fans still have questions. Lot’s of questions. That’s 120000 questions submitted during an online chat with J.K. Rowling. Rowling gives more details on life after Voldemort and fleshes out the stories of some of the other characters (too bad that didn’t make it into the book). If you’re interested, and haven’t seen it yet, you can read the full chat transcript over on MuggleNet.
With all this attention on Potter after the last book’s release, The Meadville Tribune wonders whether Harry Potter has what it takes to be a classic? And by classic they are referring to things like The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord Of The Rings, and Winnie The Pooh, among others.
Now this is a very interesting question. I’d say from a purely writing standpoint that the Potter series doesn’t stand up too well to those other books. Certainly Rowling has become a better writer, but I don’t think Potter has the depth of Chronicles or LotR. Yes, the Potter series is full of interesting, fantastical ideas, but it’s really a pastiche of ideas and themes that already exist, from mythology to modern day fantasy. Woven into an enjoyable tale, yes, but really nothing terribly new.
The interesting thing to me is: Will Potter achieve classic status by virtue of its immense popularity? I’d say this is almost a certainty, if by classic we mean something that will be read and re-read by generations to come. I’d bet that the younger set who’ve read Potter will read the books and share the stories with their children. And since we’re talking millions of readers, that’s a lot of kids. I’m sure we’ll see that Potter books in print for a long, long time, and the Potter franchise will still be in the public’s eye with the last two films to go.
So, I think Potter has a decent chance to be regarded as a ‘classic’ but due more to its popularity than to how good of a story it is.
Filed under: Books
August 13th – 17th is Sci-Fi Week at XFire, bringing you 5 days of chats with the top authors, artists, and creators in the field of science fiction.
Here’s the schedule:
- Monday August 13: Authors Charles Stross, Peter Watts, Vernor Vinge and Artist Michael Whelan.
- Tuesday August 14: Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
- Wednesday August 15: Jim Butcher, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.
- Thursday August 16: Author James Patrick Kelly and Webcomic Artist R. Stevens.
- Friday August 17: Dan Abnett and Spider Robinson.
Filed under: Web Sites
- Award news: The winners of the Sidewise Awards for Alternate History are Charles Stross for The Family Trade, The Hidden Family, and The Clan Corporate (Tor 2004-2006) and Gardner Dozois for “Counterfactual” from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, June 2006. [via James Nicoll]
- StarWars.com has a new subsite dedicated to The Clone Wars. [via TheForce.net]
- Author Karen Miller has a three-part interview with Lois McMaster Bujold. “Tolkien and Pratchett are two other writers who, notably, have come the long way around to get home: the landscapes of Tolkien’s own late 19th Century childhood informing aspects of his tales, Pratchett most recently with the Chalk, home turf of Tiffany Aching and himself. And not just home ground: it’s the lost place, the refuge of distant memory.”
- Only interviews William Gibson (Spook Country). “I think that I’m pretty much a complete urban life-form at this point. The distinction between being urban and not being urban has more to do with bandwidth than where you live. Your little kids in Omaha with their bedrooms are totally urban creatures, but there’s no city outside their window.”
- Marissa Lingen talks about what she wants from science fiction. “I would like more upbeat-cool futures we could get to from here. [...] FTL all you want, but don’t pretend that we have a working space program at the moment or, y’know, in my lifetime.”
Filed under: Tidbits
- I Am Addicted has some interesting Dr. Who links for you, including a Dalek cake, a DIY Dalek and a knitted Dalek. Which looks sweet.
- Sybil’s’ Garage has a slight rant on the paucity of good science fiction on TV. They use Erueka as an example of non-good SF TV. I can see their point, as the technobabble has increased this season, but I still like it because it’s goofy fun, and it isn’t about science, but the characters. But the bigger point still stands: there really isn’t much good science fiction on TV.
- It appears that The Dresden Files has finally been cancelled by Sci Fi. Too bad they didn’t stick to the books, those stories are better than what we got on TV.
- Fox seems to be at it again, this time with New Amsterdam. The show has been moved to mid-season when people actually watch Fox. That’s a rather interesting reason, and I’m not sure I buy it. It will be replaced with Don’t Forget The Lyrics, which has too much contestant, not enough Wayne Brady.
- If you didn’t get enough Comic-Con 2007 and you own a (working) Xbox 360, then Xbox Live Marketplace has a ton of content for you to download and watch, including panel discussions and new trailers.
- Here’s a very thoughtful essay on why E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensmen series was the anything but cliché. [via John C. Wright]
- Two more marvelous pieces of artwork from the folks over at Avalanche Software, both Star Wars-related: Padme’s Hair and The Battle of Endor.
- At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Brian Francis Slattery, author of Spaceman Blues.
- The Sci-Fi Catholic offers a list of science fiction-style kissing. “The Christopher Paolini Kiss: More-or-less a combination of the Anne McCaffrey Kiss, the J. R. R. Tolkien Kiss, and the George Lucas Kiss”
- SF Scope has stats about the stories in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fourth Annual Collection by Gardner Dozois (which I just finished reading – review soon).
- Humor: The Top 9 Differences in a 21st-Century Underdog. “7. Sweet Polly Purebred is now Sweet Polly Panera Bread.”
Filed under: Tidbits
From Jewish Journal:
…the celebrated writer is the subject of a new documentary, “Dreams With Sharp Teeth,” the title taken from a three-volume collection of Ellison’s stories.
The documentary by Erik Nelson traces Ellison’s life from his tumultuous childhood in Painesville, Ohio, where Ellison lived as “a Jew in a world where there were no Jews.” Ellison’s Jewish heritage made him a favorite target of physical and verbal abuse by the local bullies. He retaliated years later by naming the villains in his story after his childhood nemeses. “What gets you passionate and angry enough to write are the hurtful memories,” he told Tom Snyder during a 1974 television appearance.
Filed under: Books
- The Movie Blog has an open letter to George Lucas asking for new Star Wars movies based on Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy.
- New/Updated at Gutenberg: “Project Mastodon” by Clifford Donald Simak.
- At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Austin Grossman, author of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
- Paul Levinson has received a letter of thanks from Sierra Waters, the time-traveling protagonist of The Plot to Save Socrates.
- Obsessive fan of the week: The guy who put together The Complete Starfleet Library [via Texas Best Grok]
- Free fiction: Best SF has posted “Companion to Owls” by Chris Roberson [via Chris Roberson]
- Jeff VanderMeer lists 3 Overrated Science Fiction Authors.
- Two Questions from John C. Wright: (1) Will fantasy outlive Science Fiction?, and (2) If science fiction does die off, what might kill it?
- Here’s a huge collection of maps from fantasy books.
- Darker Matter has posted it’s last issue.
- Entertainment Weekly interviews Joss Whedon.
- Free movie: Killers from Space (1954) – “A nuclear scientist (Peter Graves) is hijacked by aliens to facilitate their invasion of Earth. A prophetic script predicts the age of video-conferencing. The overly earnest Graves and laughable alien costumes make this a gem.”
- Watch Earth: Final Conflict on the web! And check out the site for other shows.
Filed under: Tidbits
- Heroes news: Buddy TV covers the Heroes conference call held on 08/02 with Tim Kring and Masi Oka, which covers wide range of things, including tidbits about the villains for Season 2. MovieWeb has a more in depth article on the Heroes Season 1 DVDs. Remember, the DVDs are released on August 28th. And now you can check out the Heroes Comic-Con 2007 panel for yourself, courtesy of NBC (nice job NBC). [via TheTVAddict.com]
- Speaking of Comic-Con 2007 panels, over on DarkUFO, you can view the entire LOST panel. Dang, Lindelof and Cuse are funny guys. When does 2008 get here again? And Buddy TV has a short article on the rumored addition of two new cast members.
- The San Jose Mercury News has a pre-post-mortem on the sure to canceled show Caveman. Wondering if the show will actually air, they say, ” Me? I putting my money on ‘never sees the light of day.'” Now that’s an observation so simple, even a caveman could make it.
- HubPages has an interesting article on How 5 Science Fiction Series Were Destroyed, that is, how they stayed on too long and spiraled into a grisly end. The only one I ever watched any of, and I’ve seen every episode, is Star Trek. The others never did much for me.
Because there’s more to life than tidbits…
21 SF/F Books Whose Titles Would Be Funnier if They Used the Word “Pants”
- 20,000 Pants Under the Sea by Jules Verne
- A Fire Upon the Pants/A Deepness in the Pants by Vernor Vinge
- A Journey to the Center of the Pants by Jules Verne
- A Song of Ice and Pants by George R. R. Martin
- A Stranger in Strange Pants by Robert A. Heinlein
- Altered Pants by Richard K. Morgan
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Pants? by Philip K. Dick
- Fallen Pants by Peter F. Hamilton
- His Majesty’s Pants by Naomi Novik
- Lest Pants Fall by L. Sprague De Camp
- Little, Pants by John Crowley
- Lord of the Pants (Fellowship of the Pants/The Two Pants/Pants of the King) by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Make Pants! Make Pants! by Harry Harrison
- Pants for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
- Red Pants/Blue Pants/Green Pants by Kim Stanley Robinson
- Snow Pants by Neal Stephenson
- The Lion, the Witch and the Pants by C.S. Lewis
- The Man in the High Pants by Philip K. Dick
- The Pants My Destination by Alfred Bester
- The Pants of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
- Titus Pants by Mervyn Peake
Bonus! (Heh-heh…I said “bonus”…)
13 SF/F Stories Whose Titles Would Be Funnier if They Used the Word “Pants”
- “Bears Discover Pants” by Terry Bisson
- “Behold the Pants” by Michael Moorcock
- “Ender’s Pants” by Orson Scott Card
- “I Have No Pants and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison
- “Microcosmic Pants” by Theodore Sturgeon
- “Pants for Leibowitz” by Walter M Miller
- “Schrödinger’s Pants” George Effinger
- “The Cold Pants” by Tom Godwin
- “The Little Black Pants” by C M Kornbluth
- “The Man Who Sold the Pants” by Robert A Heinlein
- “The Nine Billion Pants Of God” by Arthur C Clarke
- “The Pants Men Don’t See” by James Tiptree, Jr.
- “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Pants” by Samuel Delany
- The fan produced Star Trek: New Voyages has announced the premiere date for their latest episode “World Enough And Time”, starring George Takei. The new episode will debut on Aug. 23rd, at the Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills. The are also running a contest where the winner will be flown in the see the premier and have dinner with Takei. Has anyone watched any of the New Voyages? I’m rather intrigued now.
- J. Michael Straczynskl has taken over Amazon’s Unbox TV. Among other things, he lists standout episodes of Babylon 5 and he gives a selection of comics he has written.
- Buddy TV has a short interview with Sam Waterson on his upcoming appearance on Masters Of Science Fiction. I could make a joke about the creator of Calvin and Hobbes appearing on a sci fi show, but it would suck so I won’t.
- Speaking of Masters Of Science Fiction, AZ Central thinks the show is ‘buried treasure‘. It’s apparent ABC doesn’t think so, but we’ll get our chance to find out real soon. As in this Saturday.
- Heroes The Series points us to an NBC contest where they are giving away copies of the forthcoming Heroes Season 1 DVD set. All you have to do is answer trivia questions about the show to potentially win.
- In our look at ABC’s Fall Genre TV lineup I wondered about how good a show Pushing Daisies might be. Well, if the torrent pirates are correct, it will be a hit. Much like Heroes before it, the screener for Pushing Daisies is all over the torrent networks and is generating a lot of hype. How long will it be before the studios just cut out the middle man and allow viewers to watch and vote on all the pilots that were ordered? Just think of the positive press the first studio to do this will receive. [via Buddy TV]