Tube Bits For 12/17/2007

  • Will the next series (season, I think, for us Yanks) of Dr. Who be the last for David Tennant? Catherine Tate nerds out over Battlestar Galactica. The result is an incredibly long, techie look at the science behind Galactica, with the result you might expect: the science is unbelievable. Still, a nice attempt at deciphering it.
  • Just when you thought you had to wait until February to catch the season premiere of LOST, along comes ABC to announce that LOST will debut on January 31st at 9pm ET. Sure, it’s almost February, but its at least a whole week earlier. This is one of only three must watch on the night it airs shows for me. Note the link may not work. BuddyTV seems to have issues with this particular post.
  • Did anyone catch Sci Fi’s Saturday movie this past weekend called Showdown at Area 51? I have the vision of two aliens squaring off across the tarmac at Groom Lake, and one saying “This planet ain’t big enough for the both of us. Draw!” Anyway, Terminally Incoherent took one for the team and reviews it for us. Short version: It sucks. But you knew that already. Surprisingly, there’s a long version. Sadly, that’s the only version they show on Sci Fi.

POLL RESULTS: Our Favorite Joker

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.


Who’s your favorite Joker?


(94 total votes)

One comment this week:

“It’s not fair to Heath Ledger on there when we haven’t seen him yet-except for the lucky few who’ve seen the extended preview-and so we can’t judge until after the movie is out. Repoll then!” – Rachel

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about online book reviews!

Flying Saucers in Popular Culture


Posthuman Blues uncovers the website Flying Saucers in pop culture, which features great cover scans of 4100+ books, comics and magazines…not to mention toys and other merchandising saucer images.


Simply awesome…

More after the jump…

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SF Tidbits for 12/16/07

Four Minutes of Cloverfield

Let the hype begin…

SF Tidbits for 12/15/07

Tube Bits For 12/15/2007

  • Remember the rumors about how Star Trek XI was going to use the Guardian from “City on the Edge of Forever” to transport Romulans back in time, and how Harlan was a little, worked up, about it? Well, now Harlan is saying it isn’t true. Well, not polite terms, but that’s the gist. Either way, I don’t have a good feeling about the new movie.
  • The cast of The Sarah Conner Chronicles has been known for some time. Now TV Guide, via Buddy TV, clues us in on some of the guest stars for the upcoming season. I must not watch enough TV, I have no idea who any of them are. Is it just me?
  • It looks like the fans of Jericho have started a trend. Although, instead of nuts, fans of Journeyman want to send boxes of Rice-A-Roni to NBC to protest its cancellation. Apparently it has something to do with a giant Rice-A-Roni box the hero gets trapped in. Maybe they should send these boxes to the writers who just happen to be out of work…
  • Way back in the mists of antiquity, 1993, a little known cable channel (Sci Fi) launched a little known show called Sci-Fi Buzz. Buzz was an Entertainment Tonight-style show that focused on all things science fiction, but with the typical Sci Fi budget. Dave Lowe reminisces about designing the sets for the show. I barely remember that show, and I know I never watched it. But of course, YouTube has clips for its run.

Friday YouTube: Shatner Meets Miss Piggy on a Plane

Bonus: Shatner’s quick jab at Buddy Hackett.

SF Tidbits for 12/14/07

  • SciFi Scanner lists 5 Fun Facts About Richard “I Am Legend” Matheson.
  • Fantasybookspot interviews Paul Kearney (The Ten Thousand): “I don’t think epic fantasy has stagnated – far from it. It may have been close to sinking into a quicksand of cliché a few years back, but times have changed radically. Writers like Joe Abercrombie and Steve Erikson have given it a good hard kick up the ass, which was exactly what it needed. Now if only the prejudice against fantasy books with slighter thinner spines could be overcome, then we’d really be going places. The spectre of Tolkien still looms too large.”
  • Penguin continues their tour of sf sub-genres with a look at Alternate History.
  • Ray Bradbury wrote a play for Pasadena called “The Invisible Boy” about “a manipulative old woman who is searching for companionship and tries to adopt a relative as her son. In exchange, the boy gets to be invisible, but things don’t work out quite the way they’re planned.”
  • The Daily Galaxy looks at the airships of the future. Mmmm…airships…
  • Hone your holiday survival skills with this Introduction to Traditional Klingon Melee Weapons.

Tube Bits For 12/14/2007

  • DirecTV recently asked their viewers to list their HDTV favorites in several categories. Aside from giving us a reason to post a totally gratuitous picture of Jessica Alba, who won for ‘Hottest Celebrity in HD’, we might also mention that Heroes won for ‘Favorite Show in HD’. Has no one seen Galactica in HD? No contest. Maybe they were distracted by all that Alba.
  • TV Squad shows us the the official unveiling of the new KITT from the upcoming Knight Rider movie. Apparently, KITT will come in three flavors: a remote controlled version, the everyday Hero version, and the super duper high speed Attack version. All will be voiced by Will Arnett, who won’t come close to the smooth, dulcet tones of William Daniels.
  • Not content to sit on the sidelines, several former Trek actors joined the picketing writers outside of Paramount. The LA-ist has the pictures to prove it. Man, Brent Spiner looks old. And what’s up with George Takei’s smile? Scary.
  • Can’t get enough of Unionized striking in real life? Sy Fy Portal brings us Working Stiff and Unions on Sci-Fi TV. It’s long, but covers TV from the 60’s through to the present.
  • Just how hard of a ratings hit did NBC take this Fall season? It was so bad, they had to refund ad money to its advertisers. Usually, free ad spots are given as compensation for lower than expected ratings. At around $500k a pop, that’s not good news for NBC’s bottom line.
  • ABC seems content to damn the torpedoes, and will go ahead and start the new season of LOST in February, even with only 8 episodes in the can. Check out the new Season 4 trailer below. Is it February yet?

Judging A Movie By It’s Poster

We here at SF Signal love us some cool SF book covers, so should it be surprising that we (and by we I mean ‘me’) like cool SF movie posters? No! Recently we mentioned the worldwide posters for I Am Legend, which I thought were pretty cool.

In the past couple of days I’ve seen posters for three upcoming genre related movies, and I thought I’d look at them from the perspective of making someone interested in seeing the movie.

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Win 6 Books from Kevin J. Anderson’s “The Saga of Seven Suns” Series

Wanna win a set of Kevin J. Anderson’s The Saga of Seven Suns series?

Orbit is running a contest with this juicy 6-book prize to celebrate the release of the latest in the series, Metal Swarm. (Read an excerpt from chapter one of Metal Swarm right here.)

To enter for a chance to win, just send an email to [orbit at hbgusa dot com] with the words “The Saga of Seven Suns” in the subject line. A winner will be randomly chosen from eligible entries on December 17th.

SF Tidbits for 12/13/07

Terry Pratchett Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

Author Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s. He posted the news in an open letter to fans at Paul Kidby’s Discworld News:


I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s, which lay behind this year’s phantom “stroke”.

We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there’s time for at least a few more books yet :o)

Terry Pratchett

PS I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as ‘I am not dead’. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think – it’s too soon to tell. I know it’s a very human thing to say “Is there anything I can do”, but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.

[via Boing Boing and elsewhere]

Tube Bits For 12/12/2007

  • wonders Why Can’t Stargate Atlantis Be Better? I’m sorry to say I can’t help there. None of the various Stargate shows have done anything for me. Maybe someone else can help.
  • Jay at Geekend describes exactly when Trekkers jumped the shark. That’s Trekkers, and not the show. He makes a very convincing case for The Klingon Dictionary. But I feel the Klingon language redeemed itself somewhat as Chuck (from Chuck) used Klingon to talk to his friend so the rogue CIA people couldn’t understand what they were talking about.
  • TV-Spoilers has in interview with Summer Glau about the upcoming The Sarah Conner Chronicles. TSCC two day premiere stars on January 13th.
  • BuddyTV offers us a spoilery look at season 2 of Jericho. With only 7 episodes to work with, the story line will have to be resolved quickly. Can it gain a larger audience? We’ll see.
  • Did you know there was a Star Trek manga? Me either. Sci Fi Japan has a nice review of it and it actually looks rather cool.

REVIEW: The Gist Hunter and Other Stories by Matthew Hughes

REVIEW SUMMARY: A fine collection that surpasses most anthologies in entertainment value.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: 13 short stories, 9 of which are set in Hughes’s Archonate universe (comprised of 6 Henghis Hapthorn stories and 3 Guth Bandar stories).


PROS: 11 stories good or better, 5 of them outstanding; the Hapthorn stories make me want more.

CONS: 2 stories in the mediocre range.

BOTTOM LINE: A very good collection of science-fantasy stories that offers an enjoyable introduction to the Archonate universe and its creator.

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SF Tidbits for 12/12/07

  • Grasping for the Wind interviews John Joseph Adams (Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse). “…post-apocalyptic fiction seems to be part of the zeitgeist right now. I mean, you’ve got Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road not only winning the Pulitzer Prize, but appearing as an Oprah Book Club selection! If that’s not a sign of the apocalypse, I don’t know what is.”
  • This I Believe has Robert A. Heinlein reading his essay Our Noble, Essential Decency. “I believe that this hairless embryo with the aching oversized braincase and the opposable thumb–this animal barely up from the apes–will endure, will endure longer than his home planet, will spread out to the other planets–to the stars and beyond–carrying with him his honesty, his insatiable curiosity, his unlimited courage, and his noble essential decency. This I believe with all my heart.” [via Locus Online]
  • Penguin continues its look at the sub-genres of speculative fiction with this post on Military SF.
  • Here’s a 2006 Guardian article beginning a series on how to read a book. [via Hipster Book Club]
  • Real Science: Hey! Who the heck squashed my solar system?
  • Orbit books is posting The Science Fiction and Fantasy Twelve Days of Christmas, one post at a time.

More Free Classic Reads‘s latest batch of science fiction titles includes some revered classics:

Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

At a moment when Europe is in danger of a catastrophe worse than that of 1914 a book like this may be condemned as a distraction from the desperately urgent defence of civilization against modern barbarism.

Year by year, month by month, the plight of our fragmentary and precarious civilization becomes more serious. Fascism abroad grows more bold and ruthless in its foreign ventures, more tyrannical toward its own citizens, more barbarian in its contempt for the life of the mind. Even in our own country we have reason to fear a tendency toward militarization and the curtailment of civil liberty. Moreover, while the decades pass, no resolute step is taken to alleviate the injustice of our social order. Our outworn economic system dooms millions to frustration.

The Ultimate Weapon by John W. Campbell, Jr.

The star Mira was unpredictably variable. Sometimes it was blazing, brilliant and hot. Other times it was oddly dim, cool, shedding little warmth on its many planets. Gresth Gkae, leader of the Mirans, was seeking a better star, one to which his “people” could migrate. That star had to be steady, reliable, with a good planetary system. And in his astronomical searching, he found Sol.

With hundreds of ships, each larger than whole Terrestrial spaceports, and traveling faster than the speed of light, the Mirans set out to move in to Solar regions and take over.

And on Earth there was nothing which would be capable of beating off this incredible armada–until Buck Kendall stumbled upon THE ULTIMATE WEAPON.

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MIND MELD: How Have Online Book Reviews Affected the Publishing World?

Welcome to what we hope is a long-running feature of SF Signal: The Mind Meld!

In this series of posts, we pose a single question to a slice of the sf/f community and, depending on the question, other folks as well. The idea is similar to the Brain Parade posts that used to appear on the long-defunct Meme Therapy blog. What we hope to get is an interesting cross-section of views and opinions that open a particular topic up for discussion. We’d love to hear what you think!

For now, let’s begin this post’s question:

From your point of view, how has the proliferation of online book reviews affected the publishing world?

David G. Hartwell
David G. Hartwell is Senior Editor for Tor books and editor of many anthologies including The Science Fiction Century, The Space Opera Renaissance. He also co-edits the long-running Year’s Best SF anthology series and The New York Review of Science Fiction with his wife, Kathryn Cramer.

Online reviewing at this point is a hopeful mess, rather than a hopeless one. A majority of it still has the validity of a late night bar conversation, or an offhanded phone call, blurting out undefended opinions, to which everyone is entitled. The hopeful sign is that a small portion of it is written to publishable print standards, and an even smaller portion is actually edited. That small portion is what publishers and sensible writers pay some attention to. Readers tend to find their own level, and as in contemporary politics, go where their own opinions are reflected back at them. That’s the real mess part. So no one learns anything.

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Tube Bits For 12/11/2007

  • Comic Book Resources has lots of cool Serenity/Firefly news for us. Dark Horse will be

    releasing a new three-issue comic series called Serenity: Better Days, two lunch boxes one with Serenity on it and one with Fruity Oaty Bar, and two ornaments just in time for Christmas. Perfect for the Firefly fan on your list.

  • The National Post has a fun article about William Shatner, called His phaser is set to fun. In it, Shatner talks about his later acting career and how he chooses projects based on what he thinks will be fun. I think we can agree this has helped his career tremendously.
  • Speaking of Star Trek, the new Star Trek: The Tour will be touring various cities in the US. The exhibit will allow fans to walk around various sets of the NCC 1701-D. Sounds cool. If any of our readers in Long Beach, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chicago or Detroit go, let us know how it is!
  • Milo Ventimiglia, Peter on Heroes really doesn’t want Nathan Petrelli to die. With the strike in full swing, he, like the rest of us, will have to wait. I guess we’ll know when Adrain Pasdar is signed for a third season or not.
  • American fans of the BBC series, Life On Mars (SF Signal review), can stop the waiting game. The second series starts tonight on BBC America! Episode 1 and 2 will air back-to-back. Good news, I’ve been waiting for this. And U.K. fans care to comment?

A science fiction blog featuring science fiction book reviews and with frequent ramblings on fantasy, computers and the web.