Ray Bradbury had this to say about science fiction and fantasy, as quoted from the introduction to (I believe) The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories:

Science-fiction is the law-abiding citizen of imaginative literature, obeying the rules, be they physical, social, or psychological, keeping regular hours, eating punctual meals; predictable, certain, sure.

Fantasy, on the other hand, is criminal. Each fantasy assaults and breaks a particular law; the crime being hidden by the author’s felicitous thought and style which cover the body before blood is seen.

Science-fiction works hand-in-glove with the universe.

Fantasy cracks it down the middle, turns it wrong-side-out, dissolves it to invisibility, walks men through its walls, and fetches incredible circuses to town with sea-serpent, medusa, and chimera displacing zebra, ape, and armadillo.

Science-fiction balances you on the cliff. Fantasy shoves you off.

[via Mirathon]

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 5/11/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Sci-Fi and Ani-Mondays

From the folks over at Forever Geek, we have news that the Sci-Fi channel be showing anime on Monday nights between 11pm and 1 am ET/PT starting June 11. This will obviously expand upon their current lineup of wrestling and Mansquito starting June 11. The release indicates that new lineup will include the premiere of Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society and will be a venue for new series such as Tokko, Noein. Hopefully these shows won’t be too hacked up considering they are on later in the evening and on The Sci-Fi Channel versus Cartoon Network.

Updated to fix bad writing skills…

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 5/10/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Google Video: Constant Payne

Here’s the 2001 pilot for Constant Payne, an animated, futuristic, action/adventure show that aired on Nickelodeon.

Nickelodeon?!? Perhaps they decided to get out of the sci-fi biz before the inevitable wrestling programming corrupted the kids. :)

Filed under: TV

Tiny Classics and Literary Snobbery

Paul at Velcro City Tourist Board posts about “Compact classics” and literary elitism where he discusses the publication of abridged classics and Literary Snobbery:

The issue I have is with the assumption that people need to have read the ‘classics’ to have any valid claim to being a reader. It’s this attitude, I think, that drives so many people away from reading as a hobby – because, like enthusiasts of any pursuit, readers can be very snobbish about reading, and that “what do you mean, you’ve never read {x}?” attitude has one effect and one effect only – it makes the accused feel inadequate.

And for those for whom abridged versions are still too long, there are the Book-a-Minute Classics and Book-a-Minute SF/F websites.

Filed under: Books

Galley Cat talks about one of the most anticipated releases in genre publishing, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The UK site Times Online is reporting that the book may not be the revenue savior that people anticipate.

Bottom Line; it will generate sales, but not profits:

The seventh and final adventure of the young wizard, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, comes out on July 21 and Simon Fox, the chief executive, said that Waterstone’s had already sold nearly as many by preorder as were sold in total of the sixth Harry Potter book.

He said that it was vitally important for Waterstone’s to offer the book at a competitive price but because it was selling it at £8.99 – half price – it would be “hard to make money”.

Mr Fox said that Ottakar’s, the bookstore that Waterstone’s bought last year, was a clear example of how a retailer’s fortunes could be damaged by not engaging in price competition on block-buster books.

Mr Fox’s comments reflect the fears of Kate Swann, the chief executive of WH Smith, and Philip Downer, the retail director of Borders, as the high street prepares for a Harry Potter price war with the supermarkets and online stores such as Amazon, which is already offering the book for £8.99.

On the bright side, high sales numbers, not profits, are still good for The Harry Potter Outreach Program!

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 5/9/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: Helix by Eric Brown

REVIEW SUMMARY: This is everything you want in a good Space Opera.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The crew of a colonist ship, which crash lands on a mysterious helix made up of thousands of worlds, sets out to find a suitable home planet and learn the mystery behind the creation of the helix itself.


PROS: Huge sense of wonder; interesting alien races; dramatic characterizations; page-turning.

CONS: The crew was sometimes not as careful as they should have been given their situation.

BOTTOM LINE: A perfect blend of ingredients. Equal parts adventure, drama and wonder.

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Filed under: Book Review

SF Tidbits for 5/8/07

Filed under: Tidbits

The End Of LOST?

Don’t worry, that’s a good thing! ABC has confirmed that LOST will end, after three more seasons. The interesting thing is, each ‘season’ will be comprised of 16 episodes that will run straight through without interruption. This will alleviate the two month break the show went through this season, and, if the writers can keep it up, the show will be stronger for it.

I think one of the main reasons the show may have lost some viewers was a direct result of having no end date in sight. This forced the writers to vamp and stretch the reveals out as much as possible. Thinking this was another Twin Peaks, people bailed. However, LOST is not Twin Peaks. It is evident that there is a cohesive story behind it all, but the writers were shackled by the open ended stop date. Now, with a concrete date, the writers can concentrate on moving the story lines forward and giving us more info on what is going on.

If you’ve given up on the series after last season, or even after the first 6 episodes of this seasons, then you’ve missed some incredible shows. Since LOST returned from its break, its been giving us some great TV, with interesting stories along with some answers, while, of course, giving us more questions, which we know will be answered in the next 48 episodes. This weeks episode looks to be a winner, as we get to see the backstory for Ben. I’ve been really enjoying the heck out of it lately and I have to watch it as soon as I can get the kids in bed. LOST and Heroes are the only two shows that do that for me. If you liked LOST and have left, why not come back? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 5/7/07

Filed under: Tidbits

POLL RESULTS: Book Signings

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Have you ever attended a book signing?


(83 total votes)

Wow. Poll attendance was down this week. Note to self: book signings (or possible poorly-worded polls) are not popular with fans.

Although those that did vote weren’t shy about commenting…

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Filed under: Polls

REVIEW: Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

REVIEW SUMMARY: A return to more of what made the start of this series great, Tremeraire again runs into Napoleon and his army as they invade Prussia. The book doesn’t disappoint with some excellent military scenes and stories of personal heroism.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The saga of Tremeraire continues as his return from China is derailed by a sudden detour to Turkey. What follows is more of the political intrigue and mystery that was started in the previous novel, but ends with the group being smack in the middle of the French invasion of Prussia. The ending is strong and feels more like the first book in the series.


PROS: The land battles in the second half of the book are welcome excitement

CONS: The politics of Turkey are somewhat boring

BOTTOM LINE: If you have read the first two novels and enjoyed them, this one is worth a read

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Filed under: Book Review

REVIEW: Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

REVIEW SUMMARY: Continues the story begun in His Majesty’s Dragon but doesn’t offer the same sense of adventure as the first book. Only in the growth of the main characters does this book offer something new.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: After discovering the dragon Temeraire is a special Chinese breed reserved only for royalty, Will Laurence is thrust into the depth of political intrigue in imperial China.


PROS: Continues in Novik’s easy to read style, the characters grow and improve

CONS: Lacks the high adventure from the first book

BOTTOM LINE: If you loved the first one, you’ll probably enjoy reading more.

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Science Fiction, even in written form, is a visual medium, asking its readers to imagine the wonders the author has created for his work. Now, we all know our imaginations are better than any SFX a Hollywood studio can create, but, sometimes, Hollywood and the TV studios do come close and we get to see some cool stuff on screen. To that end, we here at SF Signal put our collective heads together and came up with our list of the coolest scenes in science fiction film and television. Now, ‘scene’ in this context can be anywhere from a couple of seconds to pushing ten minutes; ‘cool’ also enjoys a similar flexible meaning, covering the bases from all-out battles to more intimate, personal settings. As with any list, your feelings will, most likely, not coincide with ours. Feel free to discuss you personal favorites.

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Filed under: FireflyMoviesStar WarsTV

SF Tidbits for 5/6/07

Filed under: Tidbits

MSNBC’s Best/Worst Movie Sequels

MSNBC has listed the best and worst movie sequels of all time. In no particular order…


  • The Road Warrior
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Aliens
  • Silence of the Lambs
  • The Godfather, Part II
  • Spider-Man 2
  • Toy Story 2
  • Dawn of the Dead
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  • Evil Dead II
  • Rocky III
  • Before Sunset
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Shrek 2
  • Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • Lord of the Rings: Return of the King


  • Caddyshack 2
  • Speed 2: Cruise Control
  • Staying Alive
  • Highlander II: The Quickening (Making John C. Wright one very happy man.)
  • Batman & Robin
  • Blues Brothers 2000
  • The Sting II
  • Star Trek V
  • Rocky V
  • Revenge of the Nerds 2: Nerds in Paradise
  • Superman III
  • Ghostbusters II
  • Beverly Hills Cop III
  • The Evening Star
  • Another 48 Hours
  • The Karate Kid, Part III
  • Matrix Revolutions
  • Ocean’s 12

Filed under: Movies

SF Tidbits for 5/5/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW:Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan


Thirteen is Richard K. Morgan’s latest novel and, in it, he steps away from his Takeshi Kovacs stories and instead focuses on a near future Earth, where humanity has managed to colonize Mars and genetically created ‘humans’ have been created as a form of shock troops for the West’s police forces and armies. Thirteen shows that Morgan can write a rousing tale of action and violence without the gee-whiz setting of his Kovacs series.

That’s not to say there isn’t cool stuff in Thirteen, there certainly is. The protagonist, Carl Marsalis, is the product of a genetic engineering project to re-introduce to the human race a human sub-species which died out when humanity changed to an agrarian society from being hunter gatherers. Carl and is fellow beings can be described as being prone to action, who view violence as being not just the first resort, but the only one. In Morgan’s future, the men, particularly in the West, have become more ‘feminized’, preferring to try to compromise or capitulate in the face of disagreements. This causes problems when the opposing party uses force to get their way. Hence, the genetic program to create Carl and his fellows (called thirteens, being the thirteenth strain) to try and even the playing field. Basically, Carl can be seen as a genetically engineered version of Cassandra Kresnov from Crossover (don’t mind John’s rating, he just a hater), or the Major from Ghost In The Shell. Morgan then places Marsalis in the position of hunting renegade thirteens, either killing them or capturing them for interment in special reservations. In Thirteen, Carl is hunting a particularly vicious thirteen who killed the entire crew of a ship returning from Mars and is now on the run on Earth. Even though people understand the need for thirteens, they are still treated with disdain or outright prejudice, which is only heightened because Carl is black.

What follows is a big book (over 500 pages), filled with lots of action, but also interspersed with longer, slower sections. It’s these sections where Morgan does a great job of fleshing out his characters, and giving them realistic motivations for their actions. It’s also here where on of the major themes of the books plays out: nature vs. nurture. As a ‘created’ individual, Carl is at the mercy of his genetic heritage. Although he tries to tone down is impulses, he is basically in fight mode almost all the time, and he doesn’t mind going violently over the top to finish a job. Marsalis can be considered as an anti-hero, but since we know his actions are informed by his genes, we also know he has little choice in how he reacts. This makes Carl a very sympathetic character as we see him struggle to live something like a normal life. Very well done.

About the only major gripe I have with the story deals with the political landscape. Morgan has created a fractured United States where one of the splinter nations is called (and is based on the internet meme) Jesusland. This nation consists of religious, Christian fundamentalist who are portrayed as being intolerant and prejudiced against any and everything not white or Christian. The original meme was created, probably in a perjorative sense, to show that all of the ‘Red’ states in the 2004 Presidential election are all contiguous and, thus, share the same values. I understand why Morgan chose to use this construct, its an integral part of his political landscape to have a whipping boy to bounce the themes of intolerance and prejudice off of, I just disagree that Jesusland is the way to do it (in the book, Morgan references the fact he got the idea for Jesusland from the internet meme). Now, living in (or very near) what would be the largest city in Jesusland, I can state that ‘Jesusland’ is not what people think it is. Far from being a monolithic entity, Houston and indeed the rest of the supposed Jesusland area is a mixture of all types. The Wikipedia article even shows that large swaths are actually more purple then anything else. The unfortunate effect for me was, every time the attitudes of Jesuslanders was mention, I became annoyed at the extreme generalization and it pulled me out of the story. And this happens quite a bit.

Despite that, however, Morgan has created a compelling character in Marsalis, and has placed him in a complex and interesting society. Thirteen can stand toe to toe with any of Morgan’s Kovacs novels, and that’s a very good thing.

Filed under: Book Review

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