Wednesday Video: The Machine Stops

E.M. Forster’s 1909 story “The Machine Stops” (which I first read in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 2) is widely regarding as on the classics of sf. An adaptation of the story was shown on UK television in 1966 as part of the sci-fi anthology TV series Out of the Unknown. Here is that episode:

See also: Wikipedia entries on E.M. Forster and “The Machine Stops“.

[via Drivers and Sundry]

Filed under: TV

SF Tidbits for 6/27/07

Filed under: Tidbits

REVIEW: Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

MY RATING:

(See The Great Pratchett Reading Project page here.)

The adventures of Granny Weatherwax and company continue in Witches Abroad, this time parodying all things fairy tale. It’s been a long time since I had read this book, so I didn’t remember the story very well at all. After Wyrd Sisters, I was hoping that this book could equal the previous. Unfortunately it doesn’t. This is typical of the Witches books that I remember: a bit long, somewhat humorous, and less then endearing main characters.

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Filed under: Book Review

Blade Runner 25th Anniversary

This week marks the 25th anniversary of Blade Runner‘s release in theaters. Although it did not do well in its theater run – it was up against Spielberg blockbuster E.T. – it has since gone on to become one of the most popular sci-fi movies of all time.

There’s a 25th Anniversary DVD called Blade Runner: Final Cut being released in September. This is, I think, the 5th DVD version. This Final Cut will also be (re)released in theaters. For now, you can watch the trailer.

Although my own impression of the movie was not great (especially when compared to excellent source novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) others are talking about it, like SlashDot and BrainWagon. Also: Popular Mechanics offers Blade Runner at 25: Why the Sci-Fi F/X Are Still Unsurpassed written by MythBuster Adam Savage.

Filed under: Movies

REVIEW: The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks

REVIEW SUMMARY: A true page-turner…really!

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A modern day, sword wielding warrior named Maya is tasked with protecting a Traveler (who is not aware that he may have the ability to travel to other dimensions of reality) from the nefarious Brethren who use high-tech surveillance methods.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Engrossing; thought-provoking; well-written; excellent pacing; rich setting.

CONS: Minor characters are given back histories that are probably longer than they needed to be.

BOTTOM LINE: A fast, engrossing read that forces you to consider the societal impact of surveillance technology.

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Filed under: Book Review

SF Tidbits for 6/26/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Ultimate Lego Star Wars

Not satisfied with the $299 Imperial Star Destroyer or the $299 Death Star II, the folks at Lego have outdone themselves with the upcoming release of a $499 Millennium Falcon.  This official product should not be confused with cheap imitations!

Now before you go thinking that nobody would buy this thing, think again.  A superfan of Star Wars and Lego knows no limits when it comes to money!

Filed under: Star Wars

Monday YouTube: Babylon 5: The Lost Tales Trailer

Warner Brothers has released a trailer for the new B5 direct to video movie. They have had other videos up covering the production of the movie, but now we have footage from the upcoming film. It is scheduled for release at the end of July and it is looking pretty good.

Filed under: TV

Do You Trust Online Book Reviews?

There’s an interesting (but obviously not unbiased) post from The Guardian Book Blog called The Literary Universe is Bigger in the Blogosphere that discusses online reviewing.

“But why should we believe the blogger?” comes the cry. “Who are they and how are they qualified to tell us what to read?” The answer is: you should believe them and trust them in exactly the same way you would a critic in a newspaper or literary journal. There will be some you admire and some you think are stupid. Some bloggers write well and some badly and so do some literary critics.

Amen. (And yes, I am also biased. :))

Also: Does it matter if the reviewer gets free review copies from the publisher? (We do.) Or advertising dollars? This information can surely help you decide whether to trust reviews, but ultimately I think you either trust a reviewer’s integrity or you don’t.

Do you trust online book reviews?

Filed under: Books

REPORT: ApolloCon 2007, Day 3

The final day at ApolloCon. Today was a shorter day than day one or day two. I was a bit worn out today, so my participation level wasn’t up to previous days. On the bright side, I met up with local author Larry Ketchersid and got to say hi.

My first session was Size Matters! Knowing or Choosing the Correct Length to Tell Your Tale with panelists Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, Alexis Glynn Latner, Julia Mandala, Chris Roberson and Shanna Swendson. Although mostly meant for the writer attendees, I couldn’t help but be amazed at all the reasons why books and stories are as long as they are. I used to think it was as simple as a writer getting an idea for a story and telling that story. Nope. There are so many other factors at work: contractual obligations (publishers require a certain length so that the book can be profitable), distribution (shelf-space and packaging), writers eager to talk about the universe they created even though it’s not pertinent to the story and – probably the biggest impact of all – economic forces. For example, a writer has a better chance of getting a shorter story in a space-limited anthology than a longer one. Another example: A publisher’s offer of a $30,000 advance to write a sequel that the writer would not otherwise write is powerful persuasion. An illuminating session.

Next up was What is this Hollywood Fascination with Philip K. Dick?

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Filed under: Events

SF Tidbits for 6/25/07

Filed under: Tidbits

POLL RESULTS: Superfans

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

QUESTION
Scoring 1 point for each occurrence of the following, how much of a superfan are you?

  • Put up sci-fi poster in room/office
  • Wrote fan-fiction
  • Wore sci-fi character costume
  • Got sci-fi-related vanity license plate
  • Have sci-fi tattoo
  • Bought soundtrack to sci-fi movie
  • Attended sci-fi convention
  • Own unopened sci-fi collectible
  • Other

RESULTS

(102 total votes)

Comments this week:

“Oops. I voted 5-10 before I realized it was one point for each occurrence. So, you might want to factor that into the tally. Sorry. Dammit! For a second I thought I wasn’t a loser (no offense to the fellow losers in the crowd).” A_Z

“I get over 200 points on conventions alone, plus a few costumes, many posters and prints and unopened collectibles.” – Jeff Patterson

“Owning a website called scifichick.com probably qualifies for major geek points.” – SciFiChick

“I gave myself an extra point for starting an sf-related website, but I’m still only a wannabe. Shouldn’t getting an sf tattoo be worth at *least* 2 points? It’s way more permanent than the other stuff.” – K. Burnham

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

Filed under: Polls

REVIEW: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

MY RATING:

Dead Beat is the seventh book in the Harry Dresden series and, in my opinion, it’s the best one so far. In this book, Dresden is blackmailed by the vampire queen Mavra into bringing her the necromantic tome The Word Of Kemmler in exchange for not ruing the lives of himself and his friend Murphy. Harry’s quest will put him smack dab in the middle of the Red Court/White Council war and in competition with three other factions also looking for the book. What ensues is a fast paced race to discover the book. With zombies. How good is this book? I read it in two days. Two. Days. At 448 pages and given the amount of time I have to actually read, this is a testament to Butcher’s easy to read writing style and his ability to weave a rip-roaring, action packed story.

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RIP: Roger Elwood

Locus Online is reporting the death of SF anthologist Roger P. Elwood.

Elwood edited and sold dozens of anthologies of original short fiction in the 1970s, many to publishers not noted for SF, and by most accounts thus oversaturated the market for such books once he moved on to other pursuits, including editing various SF book lines (including Laser Books) and Christian publishing. Notable anthologies (of which there were many) included Ten Tomorrows and Future City (both 1973), the four-volume Continuum series (1974-5), and Dystopian Visions, Epoch (with Robert Silverberg), and In the Wake of Man (all 1975).

See also: Wikipedia

See also: Extended wikipedia info by Teresa Nielsen Hayden. [via Andrew Wheeler]

See also: Bibliography.

Filed under: Books

REPORT: ApolloCon 2007, Day 2

Following a busy first day, I was eager for day 2. Once again, I am relying on my memory to capture some of the best impressions. As luck would have it, I left my finicky camera at home today. But really, I would have needed a skull-implanted video recorder to really capture all the cool things I heard and learned today.

The good news about day 2 at ApolloCon was that is was filled with some very interesting sessions. The bad news was that some of the session overlapped and I was forced to choose between them.

My first session of the day was What You Should Have Read By Now: The Foundations of SF/F/H and the panel included A.T. Campbell III (moderator), David G. Hartwell, Lawrence Person, Martha Wells. I arrived slightly late – weekends were made for sleeping late, weren’t they? – but the discussion was taking a decade-by-decade look at essential science fiction short stories and books. There were no surprises here, just the name-dropping one might expect: Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, Clifford Simak, Robert A. Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Fritz Leiber, Theodore Sturgeon, George Alec Effinger, Frank Herbert, Ursula K. LeGuin, Lovecraft, Hodgson, and tons of others. The panel was knowledgeable and vocal about their favorites.

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Filed under: Events

REPORT: ApolloCon 2007, Day 1

Everyone who has a blog but has never been to a science fiction convention, raise your hand.

This weekend I attended my first science fiction convention: ApolloCon 2007 in Houston, TX. An impressive list of guests, the close proximity to home, and the opportunity to sneak out of family obligations made this the perfect opportunity to see what a science fiction convention was like.

I’ll be posting about my impressions as best as my memory allows. If I misquote or misrepresent, it is entirely my own fault.

DAY 1

Friday evening. Immediately upon walking into the hotel, I see con guest and author, Chris Roberson, walking my way. I recognized him from pictures in the blogosphere and in Locus magazine. I introduced myself – we had exchanged emails in the past – and we engaged in pleasantries while I shambled to the admissions table. (No line, but it took way too long to actually get my badge.) I mentioned that I intended to be at his 6PM session on Texas fiction.

My first order of business, though, was to arrive (late) to the David G. Hartwell Coffee Klatch. Mr. Hartwell is a Senior Editor for Tor books and publishes The New York Review of Science Fiction, a Hugo-Award nominee for 19 straight years! The atmosphere was exactly as advertised. There was coffee, cookies and a comfortable, cozy discussion already in progress. Topics ranged from publishing (markets, the demise of the SFBC, etc.) to distribution (how bookstore distribution changed, hardbacks vs. paperbacks) to the genre in general (decades-long trends, movements). I was entranced the entire time I was there. The depth of his experience and knowledge is fascinating and I couldn’t help but hang on his every word. I was in fanboy heaven.

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Filed under: Events

Here’s Greg Bear’s appearance on The Daily Show talking with with Jon Stewart about Quantico and his work with the FBI on terrorism.

[via Bear's website]

Filed under: BooksTV

REVIEW: Radio Freefall by Matthew Jarpe

MY RATING:

(Update: Corrected the title of the book in the post title. I am a moron.)

Radio Freefall is author Matthew Jarpe’s first novel, though you would be hard pressed to tell. Set in the near future, Radio Freefall tells the story of aging rocker Aqualung (yes, from the Jethro Tull song) as he gets caught up in a web of AI, artificial life forms, global unification and revolution. Jarpe has mixed Stephenson’s knack for creating unusual yet accessible settings with Vinge’s rigid extrapolation of technology and topped it off with an interesting protagonist to create a very entertaining read that also touches on some interesting technological questions.

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Filed under: Book Review

Welcome Back Indy!

We’ve missed you. Indy 4 started production today. This is one of the very few times I won’t complain about sequels.

It’s enough to make me break out my DVDs and watch them again.

Filed under: Movies

Lego Millennium Falcon – a stop-motion animation.

[via Look at This]

Filed under: Star Wars

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