SF Tidbits for 7/12/07

Filed under: Tidbits

On last night’s Eureka, SciFi debut the teaser trailer for the upcoming Battlestar Galactica movie Razor. Razor details the story of the Pegasus shortly after the Cylon attack on the 12 colonies. Take a gander below:

Just watching that gets me excited about the movie. It reminds of the first, and best, season of BG. Razor looks to get back to what made BG great in the first place: humankind’s desperate fight for its very existence. Hopefully Razor will remove much of the politics and allegory that have entangled the later season, causing them to lose focus, and return to the raw emotions of desperate people doing desperate things to survive.

Razor debuts in November. The fourth, and last, season of Galactica starts in 2008.

Filed under: TV

Continuing our clearly groundbreaking series of chat-like reviews, John and JP discuss Karl Schroeder’s second Virga novel, Queen of Candesce.

Queen of Candesce is Karl Schroeder’s second Virga book and follows the hugely popular Sun of Suns. In it, Venera Fanning, last left sailing through the air-filled world of Virga, comes to Spyre, one of Virga’s oldest nations. Venera is fueled by revenge for the husband she presumes to be dead and with the powerful key of Candesce in her possession, she may just be powerful enough to change the face of Spyre forever.


John: Woo-hoo! Schroeder has finished the follow-up to his space pirate novel Sun of Suns. I was really looking forward to more space piracy in Queen of Candesce.

JP: Unfortunately for you, there is little space piracy here.

John: Agreed. It was off-putting that the story focused on Venera Fanning and only her.

JP: I didn’t mind it at all; I thought it was a nice change from the previous novel.

John: That was a real downer for me. I wanted to know about the other characters and the universe as well.

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Filed under: Book Review

SF Tidbits for 7/11/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Eureka! New Season Starts Tonight

SciFi’s original series, Eureka, returns for its second season starting tonight. I know its not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like it for its SF aspects and the fact it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I know I’ll be watching.

And if you’re a Battlestar Galactica fan, there will be a sneak peek of the Gaglactica movie, Razor, sometime during Eureka’s premiere. Razor will tell the story of Cmdr. Cain and the Pegasus right after the Cylon attack. That sounds good too.

Filed under: TV

REVIEW SUMMARY: Don’t like your name in Middle Earth? Make up a new one; but don’t expect your luck to change!

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW:

PROS: The story of Turin Turambar is one of the best stories from the First Age of Middle Earth. Christopher Tolkien has done an admirable job of fleshing out this tale.

CONS: Readers of The Silmarillion may be distracted as they pick out the familiar phrases from the original text.

BOTTOM LINE: A nice read, especially for those not familiar with The Silmarillion.

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SF Tidbits for 7/10/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Is A Cloverfield Lucky?

J.J. Abrams sure hopes so. His newest movie production is called Cloverfield and the publicity machine is in full force. A teaser trailer for the movie is running before each showing of Transformers, and is generating quite the buzz.

From what little we know, the movie looks to be some sort of monster movie, or possibly a disaster movie. It has a Blair Witch shaky-cam vibe and is supposedly told via the viewpoint of the people on the ground. This could be interesting, although two hours of shaky-cam would become nauseating quickly. However, any movie that shows the Statue Of Liberty’s head being used for home run derby grabs my attention. Tim is hoping its a re-make of Gamera. I’m just hoping its not another Godzilla re-make.

There is also an Alternate Reality Game going on to help build the hype (you can find the links in the second USA Today article linked above). Currently, there isn’t much there, and no additional information. However, as the ARG for the movie A.I. (dubbed The Beast) shows, these type of things, if done well, can be very successful in building anticipation. It remains to be seen if Cloverfield will be more successful than A.I.

Cloverfield is definitely on my radar, but tempered with the fact that Abrams also did MI:3, which blew.

Filed under: Movies

Mars in Early Science Fiction

Is there Life on Mars?” – David Bowie

Quick! Name the first science fiction story to feature Mars…

Many sf fans would likely cite H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds (1898) or Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars (1912) but not so! Even Wells beat himself to the punch with his 1897 short story “The Crystal Egg”. But he’s still not the first…

Inspired by Quasar Dragon (who mentions Edwin L. Arnold’s 1905 novel Gulliver of Mars as a precursor to Burroughs), I set out to find exactly when Mars first became part of the science fiction landscape.

[...pauses while he pulls out Clute's Encyclopedia of Science Fiction...]

According to the EoSF, it began in the 17th century with scientists who dabbled with speculation:

Mars was visited by the usual interplanetary tourists – Athanasius Kircher, Emanual Swedenborg, W.S. Lach-Szyrma, George Griffith, et. al. – but it became important in the late 19th century as a major target for specific cosmic voyages because the Moon, known to be lifeless, seemed a relatively uninteresting destination .It is the home of an advanced alien civilization in Percy Greg’s Across the Zodiac (1880) and a setting for lost-race-type adventures in Mr. Stranger’s Sealed Packet (1889) by Hugh MacColl. Robert Cromie’s A Plunge into Space (1890) is an interplanetary love story and sociological tract, as is Gustavus W. Pope’s A Journey to Mars (1894). Kurd Lasswitz’s Aud Zwei Planeten (1897, [translated as] Two Planets 1971) provides another elaborate description of an advanced civilization and discusses the politics of interplanetary relations. H.G. Wells published a brief vision of Mars in “The Crystal Egg” (1897) and followed up with the archetypical alien-invasion story, The War of the Worlds (1898), which cast a long shadow over the sf of the 20th century.

Since those early days, there have been plenty of other books about Mars. Which of these is your favorite?

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Writers and Self-Promotion

Walter Jon Williams has some interesting things to note about the changes that have occurred in the publishing industry in the last 20 years.

“Writers of mid-list fiction — which is pretty much everything but the best-sellers — are more or less obliged in these sub-lunary times to shoulder the burdens of publicity and promotion ourselves. We are expected to have web pages, we are expected to have blogs. It’s not that I don’t enjoy communicating with my readers, or that I don’t have fun on this blog, but I have to wonder how much profit actually accrues from this use of my time.”

See also: How Innovative Authors are using the Internet to Increase Their Profiles and SF/F Writers Who Blog.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 7/9/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REMINDER: Autographed Ragamuffin Giveaway

This is a reminder that our signed Ragamuffin Giveaway ends in a couple of days – Wednesday July 11, 2007.

There’s still time to enter!

Filed under: Contest

POLL RESULTS: Our Favorite Cult TV Show

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Which of these “Top Cult Shows” is best?

RESULTS

(159 total votes)

Comments this week:

“Buffy? Buffy??? You must be American.” – Spookkiller

“I went with Buffy, start to finish was an incredible show, had a few bumps but always finished strong. I was with X-Files first episode but it went way downhill at the end. Lost should not even be here until it’s run is done…” – Bryan

“Mulder and Scully or Kirk and Spock? Well, dammit, I’m not voting for Mr. Priceline!” – platyjoe

“Max Headroom!” – John Abbe

“Whaaaaaaa, no Firefly or Stargate SG-1! Tisk, Tisk! :)” – General X

Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about upcoming movie sequels!

Filed under: Polls

Ewan at Ewan’s Corner has posted a short review of The Road (SF Signal review). In it, Ewan states that the book isn’t science fiction because, “you never find out what caused the end of the world, no aliens and little science.”

To me, that is a very ‘mechanics’ focused view of what science fiction is. It’s too narrow, at least for my tastes. Looking at other post-apocalyptic novels, Earth Abides, Alas Babylon, Lucifer’s Hammer, we see that the above definition would rule out these books as science fiction, when they clearly are.

Moving to the realm of TV and film, the original Mad Max and Jericho also fit the above description, and I believe they, too, are science fiction, of varying degrees of quality, but still science fiction. Given all of the above, is the setting alone enough to make something science fiction? I’d have to say yes. And not just because of setting. Science fiction doesn’t have to be about the science or technology in a story. That sort of thing can exist and stay in the background and a story can still be science fiction, see Slaughterhouse Five or The Handmaid’s Tale or even Children Of Men, among others. I think people get hung up on the mechanical aspects of a story because of mistaken perceptions, as most people are going to see SF as being all about science, technology, aliens, and all the other tropes you see in SF movies.

But to answer the question in the title, yes, The Road is science fiction. McCarthy may be traveling a well worn path, but his book is still SF.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 7/8/07

  • SF Scope is reporting that Daniel F. Galouye (Dark Universe) is the recipient of this year’s Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, awarded to SF and fantasy writers whose work “displays unusual originality, embodies the spirit of Cordwainer Smith’s fiction, and deserves renewed attention or ‘Rediscovery’.” See also: Past winners.
  • SF Canada interviews Bantam editor Anne Groell.
  • The July 5th issue of Nature feature article “The Biologists Strike Back” includes looks at science fictions treatment of the biological sciences and includes comments from authors Ken MacLeod (who has a masters in biomechanics), Joan Slonczewski (professor of biology at Kenyon College), Paul McAuley (formerly lecturer in botany at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland), and Peter Watts (who has done research in marine biology). Here’s the supplementary text in PDF. [via Biology in Science Fiction]
  • Create your very own Who Wants to be a Superhero comic book creation and you could win prizes, courtesy of a SciFi Channel promotion.
  • Quasar Dragon has the TV classic Space Patrol!

Filed under: Tidbits

This weekend is the Robert A. Heinlein Centennial celebrating 100 years since Heinlein’s birth on 7/7/07. Those of us who cannot attend the celebration, surf. To that end, here is a big-@$$ collection of Robert A. Heinlein links…

REFERENCE

FICTION

FICTION-RELATED

HEINLEIN SITES

ARTICLES/ESSAYS BY OR ABOUT HEINLEIN

Filed under: Books


“Science fiction has transformed modern culture on multiple occasions. Exploration and innovation are often driven by pop-cultural imagination.” – Ben Cerveny, original Flickr team member.

CNet has an interesting article that looks at the effect of science fiction on technology. Each named source is cited as the inspiration for some real-world science.

  1. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson – a fully realized 3D virtual world.
  2. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick – an early look at intelligent androids and the way they would interact with humans; large-scale projects in the virtual world, Second Life; generating endless mesmerizing fractals.
  3. “Minority Report” by Philip K. Dick – highly functional touch screens and sensor screens.
  4. Neuromancer by William Gibson – the concept of cyberpunk and of cyberspace; also touched on virtual reality, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and ubiquitous technology.
  5. Distraction by Bruce Sterling – profile sniffers, software devices that scour the Internet for personality type patterns; relying heavily on “the nets” to compile psychological profiles of individuals who may be prone to violence before they actually commit a crime; ubiquitous computing.
  6. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein – the concept known as TANSTAAFL, or “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”.
  7. A 1945 letter to the editors of Wireless World magazine written by Arthur C. Clarke – geostationary satellite communications.
  8. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov – interaction between humans and robot; robot code of ethics.
  9. Star Trek – the flip phone.
  10. R.U.R. by Karel Capek – introduced the term “robot”.

Filed under: Science and Technology

SF Tidbits for 7/7/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Friday Video: Zombie-American

In Zombie-American, Ed Helms (The Office) shows us that Zombies are people, too.

Warning: Some NSFW language.

[via EW Pop Watch]

Filed under: Movies

A Look at Some Upcoming SF/F Films

SFF World has a list of SF/F/H films in the pipeline and, being the wishy-washy fanboy that I am, I am trying to decide whether these are worth the time by noting the pros and cons of each one.

Aliens vs. Predator – A sequel to the singular Alien vs. Predator.

PROS: Aliens was good. Predator was good.

CONS: The original Alien vs. Predator…not so much.

BOTTOM LINE: I’ll pass.

30 Days of Night – A vampire movie based on the graphic novel.

PROS: Produced by Sam Raimi.

CONS: The trapped-in-the-Arctic spin smacks of Carpenter’s The Thing.

BOTTOM LINE: Could be cool, but if I could see only one more vampire movie, it would have to be…

Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She Vampires – Bruce Campbell reprises his role as an elderly Elvis Presley in this sequel to Bubba Ho-Tep.

PROS: I liked Bubba Ho-Tep.

CONS: Nothing as far as I can tell.

BOTTOM LINE: They had me at “Bruce Campbell”. At “She Vampires” I was already packing a suitcase and moving into the multiplex.

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