UPDATED: SF Tidbits for 7/23/06

UPDATED: with NPR link.

Filed under: Tidbits

There’s an interesting and (hopefully) good-natured-but-heated thread happening between Robert J. Sawyer, author of Mindscan, and Evo Terra of the Dragon Page.

It started when Sawyer, who runs his own publishing house called Robert J. Sawyer Books, received a manuscript from an author seeking publication. The author sent a follow-up email to Sawyer twice within 3 months – in today’s relatively slow-moving publishing world, that’s asking a lot – indicating a pending decision to go the Print-on-Demand route. Sawyer responded to said author with a rejection:

I’ll also say this: repeatedly forcing an editor to focus his or her thoughts on your work by asking if a determination has been made yet may lead the editor to make decisions prematurely, and there’s only one safe decision to be made that way. Since you want a decision now, here it is: I’m going to pass on your book.

So, best of luck elsewhere. All that said, though, one writer to another, I think going the route of online serialization and POD are mistakes you will regret in the years to come. Online publishing and POD are a waste of time; you’ll have fewer than a hundred readers, I’m willing to wager, in either format. But it’s up to you.

Evo Terra of the Dragon Page took issue with this last part and responded on his blog, citing his experience with his audio-book serializing website, podiobooks:

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Filed under: Books

Battlestar Galactica Season 3 Promo

In case you missed the comment about BG season 3 in the Eureka: First Impressions post, now, with thanks to Youtube.com and the Unnofficial Battlestar Galactica Blog, I present to you, the BG Season 3 Promo, in all its glory. Enjoy. (Now we just need to get the tech heads in Eureka to create us a time machine. Or bust into Ron Moore’s office and steal the dailies…)

Filed under: TV


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Star Wars and George Lucas are brought up on charges for crimes against science fiction.

PROS: Covers a lot of ground that relates to science fiction, thought-provoking essays, just a darn good read.

CONS: A few weak essays, uneven tone and a bit too much author bias in some places.

BOTTOM LINE: Star Wars On Trial should be read by every fan of Star Wars and should be enjoyed by readers of science fiction in general.

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Filed under: Book Review

SF Tidbits for 7/21/06

Filed under: Tidbits

NBC Pilots Episodes via NetFlix

From Yahoo:

NBC said Wednesday it will let Netflix subscribers take sneak peeks at two new series before the shows air on the network.

Subscribers of the online movie rental service will be able to rent DVDs with the debut episodes of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and “Kidnapped” starting Aug. 5, about six weeks before the shows premiere on television.

Anyone interested in this? I wouldn’t mind seeing Studio 60. [Looks at Kevin.] Too bad they don’t have 30 Rock.

Filed under: TV

A Question For The Geniuses At SciFi

I see that SciFi is running a sweepstakes on its Made in Eureka website. As an aside, how cool would it be to have a Micro-Mitt? Seriously, whenever someone was really annoying you, you could wave at them and fry their face, but I digress. Where was I? Oh right, the sweepstakes. SciFi is giving away a Sony HDTV and Blue-ray player for the ‘ultimate viewing experience’. The ironic thing? The ‘ultimate viewing experience’ doesn’t include SciFi because SciFi doesn’t broadcast in HD. Oh the irony, which didn’t keep me from registering to win said ‘ultimate television viewing experience’.

Note to the geniuses at SciFi. Now that the pilot of Eureka was a smashing success, how about taking some of that money and giving us SciFi in HD? Come on, if National Geographic can do it, you can too. Think of the glory that would be ‘Mansquito’ in HD! Brilliant!

On second thought, maybe it’s a good thing SciFi isn’t in HD. Ok, how about just the good shows and movies in HD then? How about a little high-def Boomer action? Yeah, Galactica in HD would rule. Which is probably why we’ll only get ECW in HD….

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 7/20/06

Filed under: Tidbits

So you want to be a superhero?

Yes its true our friends over at SciFi Channel have decided to gift us with yet another crappy reality tv show, but this one involves Stan Lee and superheroes. I am guessing they are going for some comedic value here since this is almost too cheesy to believe. But it beats tuning into wrestling when you are expecting a rerun of Eureka. Anyways, I read through some of the biographies about our new potential heros, and after finishing a couple of these DC tie in novels, they missed a few potentially great superhero names – Okay so JP actually thought of them – but I did come up with some really funny dialog!!! I have tried to list a few here along with key catch phrases as needed:

  • General Malaise – “Meh!!!”
  • Kid Lethargy – “5 more minutes…”
  • Grievious Injury – “MEDIC!!!”

I wonder if our creative readers can help with a few more – remember humor counts folks.

Filed under: TV

Plastic Books

There’s a interesting NYT article Saving the Planet, One Book at a Time about the greening of books. Using recycled paper is nice, but to repeatable enough to be truly green. The solution? Plastic!

Paper can be recycled only about three times before it’s no longer high enough quality to use for books; lower quality papers can be recycled about seven times.

Paradoxically, the greenest book on the market may be one made not from paper, but from — the horror! — plastic. In their 2002 environmental manifesto, “Cradle to Cradle,” William McDonough, the green architecture pioneer, and Michael Braungart, a German chemist, argue that traditional recycling just delays the trip to the landfill, and push for developing reusable materials. (Paper can be recycled only about three times before it’s no longer high enough quality to use for books; lower quality papers can be recycled about seven times.) To prove their point, they had the book published on plastic — DuraBook, a patented material developed by Melcher Media, a book packager and publisher in New York that also produced Al Gore’s book. “The medium is the message,” McDonough said in a telephone interview. “The planet is awash in plastic, literally . . . so why not use plastic for books instead of paper?” The book can be melted down and used to make new books or other products, which themselves could be melted down again. “We need plastics. We’re not going to go back to nature,” McDonough said. “We’re not going back to being hunter-gatherers. The best thing is to use them.”

Ah, the many uses of plastic!

Filed under: Books

REVIEW: DC Universe: Inheritance by Devin Grayson

REVIEW SUMMARY: A super hero book that looks at relationships between the hero and their sidekick.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A boy of a foreign dignitary is almost killed while in Gotham City, and Batman recieves unexpected aid from Green Arrow. Green Arrow decides to pull in thier former sidekicks into the investigation.


PROS: A great discussion about the sidekicks of Batman (Nightwing), Green Arrow (Arsenal) and Aquaman (Tempest).

CONS: Not very much superhero type action.

BOTTOM LINE: The story is more a discussion of parental techniques than about heroic action.

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Lick a Superhero!

The good folks at the United States Post Office – and by “good” I mean “cheap” and by “folks” I mean “clowns that take weeks to read my mail” (I’m still waiting for this month’s issue of Locus, Buddy!) – are issuing a set of stamps picturing DC superheroes. The stamp images range from character portraits to specific comic covers.

So now the question is: Which stamp is easier to lick? Wonder Woman or Isaac Asimov?

I’m just sayin’…

Filed under: Web Sites


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Chuck, Jerry, Sally and John gallivant across the galaxy in a 747, fighting for truth, justice and the American way against the evil, mind controlling Lortonoi.

PROS: Dead on parody of ‘golden age’ space opera, story moves at a breakneck pace, silly/humorous fun.

CONS: Even at 212 pages, the style becomes old very quickly.

BOTTOM LINE: I suspect that if you enjoy the old style space opera, you will really like this one. Otherwise, Star Smashers is a good read that, stylistically, goes on for too long.

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Eureka: First Impressions

I caught the pilot of Eureka. I think it’s best described as Twin Peaks (or Northern Exposure) meets The Twilight Zone – think weird happenings in a small town setting. (Hmmm, maybe even more like Asimov’s Probe – remember that one?)

The very likable protagonist, Jack Carter – for all his smarmy charm and wit – may as well be called Jack O’Neill. The townsfolk are suitably quirky for a bunch of Braniacs. They didn’t keep the covers on the town’s secret too long, which was nice, and seem to have set up some cross-episode story arcs – also nice but let’s hope that those arcs don’t become the focus of the show.

Could it be another decent sf show? I hate to get my hopes up. But I will be catching some more episodes.

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 7/19/06

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: Vellum by Hal Duncan


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: There is a war between angels occurring in throughout the Vellum, the meta-reality that contains our world and countless others. The Book Of All Hours allows its possessor to re-write reality at a whim.

PROS: Unique idea, interesting ideas, some really cool SFnal ideas.

CONS: The narrative is broken up into loosely related chapters, time/reality shifts occur regularly, sometimes within the same paragraph, requires knowledge of myths and legends.

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re looking for something different, and you happen to be familiar with many myths and legends, Vellum has a lot offer. Otherwise, it can be very difficult and frustrating to read.

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Alan Beatts is owner of Borderlands Bookstore in San Francisco, a specialty bookstore focusing on the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. In addition to the vast selection of new and used genre books, the store hosts many genre-related events. SF Signal had the opportunity to grill Alan about the genre, book selling, the future of book publishing and the store’s unique mascot.

SF SIGNAL: Hi Alan. What made you decide to bite the bullet and actually start a bookstore? Was this something you’d wanted to do for a while (how long?) or was it more impulsive?

ALAN BEATTS: At one point I was very unhappy with my job (at that time I was managing a motorcycle shop). It seemed that I was working much harder than the owner and that I cared more about how the business was doing than he did. Plus, I thought I had better ways of doing things that he wouldn’t let me put into effect. I tell you, I was pissed.

And then I had a moment of clarity. I realized that throughout my working career I had frequently resented my bosses for the same damn reason. Since I’d been in a number of fields and had worked for quite a variety of bosses it seemed that all my past jobs had only one common denominator — I was working them.

Based on that, it seemed that the best solution was to stop working for other people and start my own business. It was just a question of what kind of business I wanted to run. I knew it should be a retail store and books have always been my best friends so a bookstore seemed the thing to do. My first and greatest love has been SF, fantasy and the supernatural, so that answered the question of what kind of books to sell.

Then it was just a matter of working my ass of for about three months to get it all together. I opened Borderlands in the beginning of November, 1997. All the stock were used books, about half of which were my own.

SFS: What books got you hooked on science fiction and which ones are now your favorites?

AB: There are three people who I affectionately call, “Those Responsible”…

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Filed under: Interviews

Top SF/F Sidekicks

Entertainment Weekly #887 has a list of the 50 Greatest Sidekicks of All Time. Some sidekicks of note for genre fans (listed with their frontmen):

  1. Robin/Batman
  2. Chewbacca/Han Solo
  3. Samwise Gamgee/Frodo Baggins
  4. Ron Weasley & Hermione Granger/Harry Potter
  5. Donkey/Shrek
  6. Willow Rosenberg/Buffy Summers
  7. Gromit/Wallace
  8. Ford Prefect/Arthur Dent
  9. Jimmy Olsen/Superman
  10. Igor/Young Frankenstein
  11. Bender/Fry

Filed under: MoviesTV

Jonathan Strahan will be editing a new anthology for Night Shade Books that collects both science fiction and fantasy stories:

Night Shade have agreed to let me edit the book I’ve long wanted to: a single year’s best volume that will collect the best science fiction and fantasy stories in a single volume. I’ve always believed that readers have broader tastes than they’re given credit for and that science fiction and fantasy overlap far more than people want to believe. So, in March 2007 Night Shade will publish The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, a suitably enormous and gorgeous trade paperback. I can’t wait to see it. I’ve been reading like crazy, and think it’s going to be something really special.

Throw another anthology onto the pile of books I want to read…

I gotta wonder, though, when is enough enough? Sure, each editor has their own opinion of what’s best, but between the Dozois, the Hartwell/Cramer, the Horton, the other Strahan, the other other Strahan and all the rest (not to mention the fantasy anthologies) – will the market support all of these? Pfff…and people tell me there’s no room for an anthology of award nominees!

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 7/17/06

Filed under: Tidbits

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