Unless you have been living under a rock, you undoubtedly have heard about Amazon’s eBook reader the Kindle. What amazes me is not anything about the device or its specifications, but the media hype surrounding the device. Starting yesterday, I have seen or heard Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s CEO) on several radio and TV programs. The biggest of which has to be his appearance last night on the Charlie Rose show. Uh, did Amazon pay for that hour long infomercial?
And just this moment I am listening to a nationwide radio call in show on NPR talking about the device. They even found some luddite to stand up for the ‘citadel’ that is the printed book. Regardless, how do you get this kind of free publicity?
t’s an eBook reader folks and not much else. I saw the entry on Engadget a few weeks back and said ‘yawn’ about it. That’s sort of the same way I feel today – its big, expensive, and looks like it came from the 70s. Why has the media jumped on this thing? Does it do something for you?
Usually you’ll find us criticizing the SciFi Channel for it’s continual use of cheesy monster movies and hit or miss (mostly) series to fill out it’s ‘SF’ moniker. So, when there is some interesting SF stuff coming up, I think it’s only fair to remind people of that. There are a few interesting things on the docket in the near future that I think people might find interesting.
First up, tonight, Sci Fi is running a special on the Xbox 360 game, Mass Effect, which releases today. It airs tonight at 11pm ET. I’ve seen elsewhere that a similar venture covering Halo 3 was actually pretty good. Mass Effect has been getting great reviews, so this might actually be worth a view. SF and gaming, nice.
Next up, perhaps you may have heard of a little show called Battlestar Galactica? So I’m sure you’re all waiting for Razor which airs Nov. 24th at 9/8C. While not quite up to the tautness of the first season, it’s still better than the last season. I’ll have a full review up later, for now, if you are a fan, you’ll like Razor.
Lastly, Sci Fi’s re-imagining of The Wizard of Oz, called Tin Man, airs on Dec 2nd, also at 9/8C. I’m really up in the air about this one. On the one hand, the previews look pretty cool. On the other hand, it’s made by the same team that brought us the new Flash Gordon. I’ll most likely be watching. Does anyone else have any thoughts?
REVIEW SUMMARY: A well-crafted blend of world-building, characterization and storytelling.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Nine disgraced military rejects are assigned a suicide mission to destroy an enemy base located inside an asteroid.
PROS: Interesting setting; consistently high level of drama; believable action; well-crafted, layered storytelling; absolutely no padding.
CONS: None that I can think of.
BOTTOM LINE: Believable, lean-and-mean, military sf that offers dramatic tension every chance it gets.
A New York Times article (Study Links Drop in Test Scores to a Decline in Time Spent Reading) says there is an association between young people reading less and a decline in test scores. It’s based on the report To Read or Not to Read [PDF link] by the National Endowment for the Arts, whose chairman is Dana Gioia. Here’s an excerpt from the NYT piece:
Americans — particularly young Americans — appear to be reading less for fun, and as that happens, their reading test scores are declining. At the same time, performance in other academic disciplines like math and science is dipping for students whose access to books is limited, and employers are rating workers deficient in basic writing skills.
In an interview Mr. Gioia said that the statistics could not explain why reading had declined, but he pointed to several commonly accepted culprits, including the proliferation of digital diversions on the Internet and other gadgets, and the failure of schools and colleges to develop a culture of daily reading habits. In addition, Mr. Gioia said, “we live in a society where the media does not recognize, celebrate or discuss reading, literature and authors.”
So, what I’m wondering – and this is partly based on past discussions – is what people are really doing instead of “reading for fun”. Surfing the web? Watching TV?
There is an widely-accepted (or at least often stated) assumption that reading is a “smart” activity and is better for you than, say, watching TV or web surfing. I suppose that all depends on what you’re watching and where you’re surfing. I was told time and again while growing up (by teachers, parents, and TV commercials probably sponsored by NEFTA) that reading makes you smarter. This recent NEFTA report seems like some sort of proof. (I’m sure other proof exists out there — I haven’t gone looking. I also suspect there might be contrary evidence as well. Feel free to Google…)
Is reading better for you than watching TV? Does it matter what you watch, or is all casual reading a better activity?
Here’s Harlan Ellison talking about writers being compensated for work. He’s talking specifically about Warner Bros. and their production of the Babylon 5 DVD, but it seems appropriate for the current WGA strike.
*** Language Warning***
For those who may not know it, Harlan Ellison is usually synonymous with NSFW.
[via Core Dump]
Chris Roberson points us to the animated Australian scifi TV series Dogstar! Check out the show’s cool promo…
Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.
Do you support the WGA Strike?
Comments this week:
“H-E-double hockey stick NO! If they won’t work, they can go to hell!” – Peter
“If these new media outlets (iTunes, streaming video, etc.) are generating revenue, then the writers ought to be compensated for it.” – Bill
“This seems to me (from WAY outside Hollywood) to be a crucial strike for the future of those writers that create works that I love. Clearly, the internet will become the dominant distribution mechanism in the not too distant future. Writers *must* be paid when their work is viewed on this medium. I wholly support the strike and hope the writers prevail!” – Kathy
“Not a big fan of unions and the powers that the state has endowed upon them.” – Joshua Corning
“I would really like to see somebody explain to me why they would NOT support the writers. With a straight face. Please.” – General X
Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about the new posters for The Sarah Connor Chronicles!
Perry Rhodan is a 46 year-old, unapologetic space opera started in Germany that’s still running strong, spanning thousands of volumes. Ace published an English run of the series, headed by Forrest J. Ackerman, beginning in 1969 and lasting for 118 novella-sized installments. Previolsy, I confessed having Perry Rhodan as one of my guilty pleasures.
Now the long-running space opera series is coming to life as an adventure game!
For more Perry Rhodan info, see:
- The official game trailer (in English).
- Wikipedia entry for Perry Rhodan.
- The 1967 Perry Rhodan movie, Mission Stardust, on YouTube. It takes Perry 26-and-a-half minutes to start making out with the alien, Thora.
Once again we visit the Trailer Park to bring you trailers of SF-ish movies that may be of interest to you, our loyal readers.
First up, Southland Tales, a near future SF drama from Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko), and stars Dwayne Johnson and Sarah Michelle Gellar. You know it’s SF because someone chose to nuke El Paso and Abilene. Abilene?! Southland Tales opens in limited release today.
Charlie Stross weighs in on the WGA Writers strike, and offers this summary of the situation:
Right now, the scriptwriters are on strike. They’re not striking because they want more money, but because the big studios they work for want to cut off their residuals. That is: when you write a script you get paid some money, and when the TV program is eventually made and broadcast you get a bit more money, and when it’s turned into a DVD you get some additional money (residuals) or when it’s converted to some other medium and made available again. Forget “information wants to be free”, this is how these folks make their living. Now Viacom and the other large studios are telling the authors that they don’t deserve to get any money for internet rights to their work, because the internet rights are merely used to promote the TV shows and are of no commercial value. (Meanwhile, they’re suing YouTube for a billion dollars for using their TV shows, and their CEO says the internet rights to their IP portfoilio are set to earn $500M this year.)
The Blade Itself is Joe Abercrombie’s first novel, and it’s a darn fine one at that. And as a self-professed fantasy hater, that’s saying something. Abercrombie has forgone the intricate trappings of modern day fantasy, A Song of Ice and Fire and the Malazan Empire spring to mind, and instead focuses his efforts on the characters. The lack of a detailed, epic setting allows Abercrombie to construct some very interesting and unusual characters, and focus on writing very frenetic, violent fight scenes.
A video for a laid-back song about zombies.