By JP Frantz
| Monday, March 27th, 2006 at
Heat Vision and Jack was a pilot for a FOX TV show done in 1999 byt Ben Stiller. It stars Jack Black as an astronaut on the run from NASA and the evil Ron Silver, played by Ron Silver (classic). Heat Vision is Jack’s motorcycle and is voiced by Owen Wilson. I guess you could say its a cross between Knight Rider and The Six Million Dollar Man, only funnier. You’ll either like it or hate it, depending on your Stiller stomach quotient. It is cheesy and it is dumb, but I think it was created to be a parody, sort of a Police Squad for SF series. Yes, this is real, you can look it up on IMDB.
REVIEW SUMMARY: Some hits, some misses.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Anthology of nine novellas and 1 novelette from the year 2004.
PROS: 8 stories ranging from good to excellent
CONS: 2 stories mediocre or worse.
BOTTOM LINE: A good assortment of stories from 2004.
With several other “Best of…” anthologies on the market, it helps that each one sets its own unique goals. For Jonathan Strahan’s Best Short Novels series, available exclusively from the Science Fiction Book Club, the goal is to showcase the best novellas of the previous year in the genres of science fiction and fantasy; Best Short Novels: 2005 collects ten stories published in 2004.
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Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.
Do you think it’s possible for a book reviewer to remain objective if he or she has received the book for free from the publisher?
Be sure to vote in this week’s poll: Has Battlestar Galactica jumped the shark?
Over at Emerald City, author Karen Traviss explains why she writes Star Wars novels. In the article she voices the widespread belief that “media tie-ins are rubbish”.
But are they? Do they not require effort just like any other book? According to Karen, they are even more difficult to write because of constraints put on the authors by the controlling party regarding character deaths, their backgrounds, language/terminology and the like. Additionally, the story events need to be congruent with the events in books by many other authors; there’s lots of coordination involved.
Speaking for myself, I have historically tended to avoid tie-ins because of this stigma. That’s unfortunate for me. I am surely missing out on some perfectly fine sf. For example, some co-bloggers have extolled the virtues of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy of Star Wars books.
Media tie-ins are not exclusive to the Star Wars universe of course. Star Trek is another popular source of books, as is Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more. There’s even a whole gaming-related set of tie-ins, which I will not even start to get into here.
What do you think? Do you read tie-in novels? Which ones? Or are media tie-in novels trash?
Booksquare points to Publisher’s Weekly article “Judging a Book By Its Cover” which tells us that (surprise, surprise) covers matter.
I love science fiction book cover art. Liking any individual artistic style is subject a personal taste. One of my favorite cover artists is the award winning John Picacio who does a lot of cover art for Pyr.
One of the reasons I like physical bookstores over online ones is because cover art is more easily browsed that way. Locus Online does an admirable job showcasing a year’s worth of science fiction/fantasy book covers side by side, but rare is the online bookstore that does this and I still want the bigger images without having to use the slower method of the click-through.
According to poll SF Signal did last year, only half of respondents said they purchased a book solely on its cover. That surprises me in that people would base a decision on that alone. Sure covers matter, but I find a bad cover drives me away from a purchase more than a good one will ensure it.
I stumbled across an sf-related NPR link and thought it might be time to follow up last year’s post Genre Stuff on NPR.
REVIEW SUMMARY: A novel that’s thought-provoking, literary and entertaining despite a slow start.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The story of several characters during a time of political and environmental change in a futuristic 21st century India.
PROS: Cool technology; Indian culture creates excellent atmosphere; engrossing storylines; well-crafted.
CONS: Slow start; incomplete glossary.
BOTTOM LINE: A hugely enjoyable book on any number of levels.
The futuristic India in Ian McDonald’s River of Gods would be marvelous enough with its technological society, one where the sentience of artificial intelligence is limited by a law called the Hamilton Acts; where illegal software houses circumvent the law; where a government agency known as The Ministry “excommunicates” rogue AIs from this world; where virtual reality is the order of the day; where popular soap operas feature computer-generated characters played by computer-generated actors; where advanced medical procedures can turn you into a genderless “nute” or genetic engineering can give you a disease free, slow-aging Brahmin child; where power is generated underneath sidewalks that harness the energy of footsteps ; where even greater amounts of energy can be realized from the potential difference between two universes that exist at different ground states; and where an alien artifact is found in space that holds untold mysteries.
But River of Gods goes one step further, adding a whole other layer of enjoyment in the process, through the portrayal of Indian culture. It permeates everyone and everything, bringing forth interesting concepts and vivid imagery that give it a distinct mood and flavor. India’s caste system remains but now includes the Brahmin, a group of people genetically-bred to be disease free, whose long life gives them an extended period of youthful appearance. The culture’s many Gods are also prevalent in the story. For the culturally-uninitiated (like myself) there is a handy glossary included that defines many Hindi terms. However, the novel is so steeped in culture (and wonderfully so) that the glossary is woefully incomplete. Many of the words this Average Westerner looked up were not included. Eventually, I stopped using it. Needless to say, those who know Indian culture and especially Hindi will find a whole other level of enjoyment that escaped me, as evidenced by the light bulbs that went on when I asked a Hindi-speaking friend to translate words and section titles.
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Kathryn Cramer shows off the covers of some nifty-sounding anthologies that she and hubby David G. Hartwell have edited.
The first, due in April 2006, is The Science Fiction Century, Volume One (edited by Harwell alone) and looks to be a trade paperback booksplit reprint or Hartwell’s 1997 The Science Fiction Century. In true biblioholic fashion, I’ve yet to read that one even though I bought it years ago.
The second is the Tor book The Space Opera Renaissance and it’s due out in July 2006. Here’s the book description:
“Space opera”, once a derisive term for cheap pulp adventure, has come to mean something more in modern SF: compelling adventure stories told against a broad canvas, and written to the highest level of skill. Indeed, it can be argued that the “new space opera” is one of the defining streams of modern SF.
Now, World Fantasy Award-winning anthologists David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer have compiled a definitive overview of this subgenre, both as it was in the days of the pulp magazines, and as it has become in 2005. Included are major works from genre progenitors like Jack Williamson and Leigh Brackett, stylish midcentury voices like Cordwainer Smith and Samuel R. Delany, popular favorites like David Drake, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Ursula K. Le Guin, and modern-day pioneers such as Iain M. Banks, Steven Baxter, Scott Westerfeld, and Charles Stross.
Mmmmm…crunchy sf goodness…[Homer gurgle]
Entertainment Weekly has identified 25 of the Worst Movie Sequels Ever Made. There are more than a few sci-fi, fantasy and horror movies that made the list.
- Staying Alive (1983)
- CaddyShack II (1988)
- Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha’ Hood (2003)
- Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)
- Batman & Robin (1997)
- Weekend At Bernie’s II (1993)
- The Fly II (1989)
- Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
- Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
- Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
- Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)
- Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
- The Sting II (1983)
- Conan the Destroyer (1984)
- Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (2003)
- Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
- Revenge of the Nerds II: nerds in paradise (1987)
- The Godfather Part III (1990)
- Legally Blonde 2: red, white & blonde (2003)
- Teen Wolf Too (1987)
- Porky’s II: The Next Day (1983)
- The Next Karate Kid (1994)
- The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Here is the Table of Contents for the upcoming sf anthology Year’s Best SF 11 edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer.
- “Mason’s Rats” by Neal Asher
- “Lakes of Light” by Stephen Baxter
- “Ram Shift Phase 2″ by Greg Bear
- “On the Brane” by Gregory Benford
- “Toy Planes” by Tobias S Buckell
- “What’s Expected of Us” by Ted Chiang
- “I, Robot” by Cory Doctorow
- “When the Great Days Came” by Gardner R Dozois
- “Oxygen Rising” by R Garcia y Robertson
- “Second Person, Present Tense” by Darryl Gregory
- “Angel of Light” by Joe Haldeman
- “The Forever Kitten” by Peter F Hamilton
- “City of Reason” by Matthew Jarpe
- “Third Day Lights” by Alaya Dawn Johnson
- “The Edge of Nowhere” by James Patrick Kelly
- “I Love Liver: A Romance” by Larissa Lai
- “New Hope for the Dead” by David Langford
- “A Case of Consilience” by Ken MacLeod
- “Rats of the System” by Paul McAuley
- “A Modest Proposal” by Vonda N McIntyre
- “Sheila” by Lauren McLaughlin
- “The Albian Message” by Oliver Morton
- “Deus Ex Homine” by Hannu Rajaniemi
- “Beyond the Aquila Rift” by Alastair Reynolds
- “And Future King” by Adam Roberts
- “Dreadnought” by Justina Robson
- “Guadaloupe and Heironymous Bosch” by Rudy Rucker
- “Bright Red Star” by Bud Sparhawk
- “Ivory Tower” by Bruce Sterling
- “Girls and Boys Come out to Play” by Michael Swanwick
- “Ikiryoh” by Liz Williams
[via Kathryn Cramer]
Tagged with: Year's Best
The 2006 Hugo Awards Nominations have been announced:
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer [Not a Hugo]
- K. J. Bishop (second year of eligibility)
- Sarah Monette (second year of eligibility)
- Chris Roberson (second year of eligibility)
- Brandon Sanderson (first year of eligibility)
- John Scalzi (first year of eligibility)
- Steph Swainston (second year of eligibility)
See Locus Online for more details and nominations.
By JP Frantz
| Tuesday, March 21st, 2006 at
And you thought I forgot. For those of you who have forgotten, a quick recap. And now on to the results!
1. Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos) by Dan Simmons – 7 votes
2. Dune by Frank Herbert – 6 votes
3. Use Of Weapons (Culture Series) by Iain M. Banks – 5 votes
4. Startide Rising (Uplisft Series) by David Brin – 4 votes
5. Neuromancer by William Gibson – 4 votes
6. The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin – 4 votes
7. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke – 4 votes
8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – 4 votes
And a bunch more with 3 and 2 votes. This is an interesting mix, and it seems to follow the 10 year rule. I believe the ‘newest’ book listed is Hyperion. Out of the 8 listed above, I liked all of them except for Neuromancer (Gibson would rather play with words than write an actual story), while The Left Hand Of Darkness I found tedious in the extreme to read because it felt like I was reading a philosophy textbook. Otherwise, all the rest I hihghly recommend to anyone who hasn’t read them, with Hyperion and Use OF Weapons topping my recommndations.
All in all, there was a bunch of good stuff listed. I encourage everyone to go back to the orginal post and read through the comments and maybe find something you haven’t read yet! (Tim…. :D)
Some folks over in Asimov’s Forum have a thread going regarding story statistics for The Years Best Science Fiction anthology series edited by Gardner Dozois. Here are some interesting statistics posted by “William Atheling III” for the first 23 volumes of the series:
Top 13 Authors with the Most Appearances in Dozois’ YEAR BEST SF Volumes 1 – 23
- Nancy Kress (17)
- Michael Swanwick (16)
- Greg Egan (15)
- Robert Reed (14)
- Robert Silverberg (14)
- Bruce Sterling (14)
- James Patrick Kelly (13)
- Walter Jon Williams (13)
- Pat Cadigan (11)
- John Kessel (11)
- Ian R. MacLeod (11)
- Lucius Shepard (10)
- Howard Waldrop (10)
Top 12 Common Universes from Dozois’ YEAR BEST SF Volumes 1 – 23
- Hainish by Ursula K. Le Guin (5 stories)
- Revelation Space by Alastair Reynold (5)
- Xeelee by Stephen Baxter (4)
- Great Ship by Robert Reed (4)
- Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick (4)
- The Company by Kage Baker (4)
- Hwarhath by Eleanor Arnason (3)
- Wynne Cage by Jim Kelly (3)
- Counting Heads by David Marusek (3)
- Quiet War by Paul McAuley (3)
- Hefn by Judith Moffett (3)
- Silurian Tales by Steven Utley (3)
Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.
How long should the moratorium be after reading a book before you think it makes a “Best of All Time” list?