James Keith wrote in with a poll suggestion: What’s the most underrated Space Opera novel?

(He actually asked about the last 10 years, but I don’t want to be that restrictive…yet. Just in case anyone wants to toss in an Edmond Hamilton novel.)

What a great topic! However, I could use some help in compiling the list of choices…

Sound off!

By way of clarification, I’ll point you to my review of The Space Opera Renaissance edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer where I say that the definition of space opera is quite large. Feel free to use your own definition.

Filed under: Books

Shatner vs. Shatner!

Boston Legal will seem like a bad Star Trek episode on April 3rd when Denny Crane (William Shatner) must come to terms with a face from the past: a 25-year-old William Shatner!

Through the magic of “television”, Boston Legal will use old footage of Shatner’s appearance from The Defender TV show and DS9-Tribble him into the episode.

It is not clear which of them will succeed in out-overacting the other.

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 3/21/07

  • The Borders Media website has a free audio extract from Dan Simmons’ latest novel The Terror (Apple Quicktime player required) [via UK SF Book News]
  • ChapterFeeds has the 1st chapter of The Forsaken by L.A. Banks
  • John Clute reviews Matthew Sharpe’s Jamestown.
  • Fortean Times profiles Nikola Tesla.
  • Litmus interviews Robert White, MD PhD, a neurosurgeon who performed monkey head-swapping and cold storage experiments in the 1970s.

Filed under: Tidbits

INTERVIEW: Andrew Wheeler

Andrew Wheeler is the busy Senior Editor of The Science Fiction Book Club. He runs two blogs: the SFBC Blog and his personal bog, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent. Over the course of seven months (Did we mention he is busy?) SF Signal had the opportunity to talk to Andrew via email about the inner workings of the Science Fiction Book Club, the publishing industry and underrated science fiction.

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Filed under: Interviews

As Others See Us

Borrowing the “From the Oustide Looking In” title used by David Langford in his Ansible zine, I submit this post from Sam Jordison at the Guardian Book Blog. A few choice quotes:

At the risk of sounding like a nerd, I’m beginning to think science fiction’s actually quite good.

Science fiction doesn’t get a lot of respect – and quite possibly it doesn’t deserve it.

There’s something about science fiction that just doesn’t appeal. Even though I’ve long recognised that I’m a bit of a geek, I just find much of it too nerdy. I have a strong negative reaction to all the warp-speed jargon, the masturbatory fantasies about alien sex queens and the frequent intrusion of half-baked mathematical theories.

You see, when it comes to the genre wars, science fiction is at a very curious disadvantage. As soon as someone writes a really good sci-fi book it nearly always seems to get reclassified as something else.

Does writing brilliantly preclude Vonnegut et al from the sci-fi genre? Or is it just that there’s so much more to their books than spaceships and aliens? Could it be that most sci-fi is just so bad that reasonable people can’t stand to tar literary heroes like Angela Carter with its brush? Conversely, have I been unreasonably depriving myself of other great sci-fi works for years? Or is it simply the case that I’m barking up the wrong tree and that my approach to literature would be far healthier if I just ignored such semantics and the labelling policies of high street chains?

Filed under: Books

Oldtime Sci-Fi Radio

The Solaris Books blog, When Gravity Fails, points us to a goldmine of old radio dramas on the web at OTR Network. They offer a bunch of the standard programs you think of when you think of old radio, like Abbot and Costello. (And shame on you if you’ve never heard “Who’s on First?” )

But they have lots of genre titles, too. Check out these beauties…

And don’t even mention all of the X Minus One and Dimension X broadcasts. (Especially since we already did.)

As Marco notes in the comments, there are a bunch more radio dramas, many of them genre-related, over at Mercury Theatre.

Filed under: Web Sites

SF Tidbits for 3/20/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: The Last Colony by John Scalzi

REVIEW SUMMARY: Another excellent read by Scalzi.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: John Perry and Jane Sagan are assigned to lead a new colony world only to discover they are pawns in a risky game played by the Colonial Union.


PROS: Well-written narrative; excellent storytelling; fun characters; gives closure to this superb series.

CONS: Scenes of space colony life not as interesting as the other parts; one minor, but unfortunately obvious, foreshadowing of the ending.

BOTTOM LINE: Except for a few minor glitches, this lives up to the reputation of the previous books.

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Filed under: Book Review

My Little Cthulhu

Next month will see the release of toys that only an Elder God could love: My Little Cthulhu!

My Little Cthulhu is an 8″ vinyl figure and has a suggested retail price of $29.99. There will also be set of six Little Victims & Little Minions that will retail for $14.99.

If anyone was wondering how much to spend on a gift for me, it’d be about forty-five bucks. I’m just sayin’…

[via #Comments blog]

Filed under: Cthulhu

SF Tidbits for 3/19/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Jeff Bridges will appear in the Iron Man film. Which of these Bridges movies is your favorite?


(140 total votes)

Someone out there loved King Kong so much, they stuffed the ballot box. I removed the duplicate votes I knew of…take the stated vote tally with the appropriate grain of salt.

Comments this week:

“I adored Tron when I was younger. These days, it looks like a bizarre German expressionist film. But I vote for it anyway, out of respect for twelve-year-old-me.” – Pete Tz.

“I obviously chose the Lebowski answer, but if you had “The Fisher King” up there which is defiantly not Sci-Fi, why not “The Big Lebowski”? I submit that The Big Lebowshi had at least the FICTION half of Sci-Fi where The Fisher King just had a crazy Robin Williams. Am I going to have to rough you up?” – Trent

To answer Trent: Fisher King -> King Arthur -> Fantasy -> Genre -> Go Away. :)

Be sure to vote in this week’s poll on reading from an electronic display!

Filed under: Polls

Neal Stephenson has a New York Times article, It’s All Geek to Me, that talks about geekdom and the film 300:

Lack of critical respect means nothing to sci-fi’s creators and fans. They made peace with their own dorkiness long ago. Oh, there was momentary discomfort around the time of William Shatner’s 1987 “Saturday Night Live” sketch, in which he exhorted Trekkies to “get a life.” But this had been fully resolved by 2000, when sci-fi fans voted to give the Hugo Award for best movie to Galaxy Quest, a film that revolves around making fun of sci-fi fans.

Filed under: Movies

SF Tidbits for 3/18/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Ayn Rand Interviews

Cynical-C points us to a 1959 Mike Wallace interview with Ayn Rand:

See also: Parts two and three.

Note: There’s also a 1980 Phil Donahue interview that starts here, continues with part two, three, four and five. In part 3, at 2:40, Donahue confronts her about atheism.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 3/17/07

Filed under: Tidbits

SF Tidbits for 3/16/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Name That Action Figure!

Last weekend we tore out the stairs on our 30+ year-old house (and replaced them with oak. This was my wife’s idea. I would have saved the money for something much cooler, like a new high-end video card for my computer, or a few boxes of Confrontation miniatures.)

Among other things, we found some loose change dated from the 60′s and a sci-fi action figure. No one at home knew what the figure was, so I thought I’d post a picture of it.

Any guesses?

[See extended entry for photo... ]

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Filed under: Games

Locus Online has printed Cory Doctorow’s column from the March isssue of Locus magazine. Here’s a snippet of the article You Do Like Reading Off a Computer Screen:

Electronic books are a wonderful adjunct to print books. It’s great to have a couple hundred novels in your pocket when the plane doesn’t take off or the line is too long at the post office. It’s cool to be able to search the text of a novel to find a beloved passage. It’s excellent to use a novel socially, sending it to your friends, pasting it into your sig file.

But the numbers tell their own story – people who read off of screens all day long buy lots of print books and read them primarily on paper. There are some who prefer an all-electronic existence (I’d like to be able to get rid of the objects after my first reading, but keep the e-books around for reference), but they’re in a tiny minority.

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 3/15/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: Mainspring by Jay Lake


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Clockmaker Apprentice Heathor is visted by the Archangel Gabriel. Hethor is tasked with discovering the Key Perilous and re-winding the Mainspring of the world before it runs down and the Earth stops rotating.

PROS: Wildly inventive, filled with rollicking old-school adventure SF, Hethor is an interesting and sympathetic character.

CONS: Hethor escapes many deadly encounters, secondary characters not fleshed out, high body count and sporadically overly violent.

BOTTOM LINE: Mainspring is a wildly inventive novel infused with old-school adventure SF action. If you’re looking for something different that has lots of ‘sensawunda’, pick up Mainspring.

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Filed under: Book Review

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