SF Tidbits for 7/29/07

  • New free fiction: “Creatures of Vibration” by Harl Vincent. “Carr Parker sat day-dreaming at the Nomad‘s controls. More than a week of Earth time had passed since the self-styled “vagabonds of space” had left Europa, and now they were fast approaching the great ringed orb of Saturn with the intention of exploring her satellites.”
  • From the July issue of Locus, Locus Online has excerpts from interviews with Peter S. Beagle and Paolo Bacigalupi.
  • Chronotopicality in SF in 2006. Colin Harvey reflects upon reading David Hartwell’s & Kathryn Cramer’s Year’s Best SF 12. “Is it any wonder that the defining emotion in SF in 2006 was anxiety?”
  • Warren Ellis interviews William Gibson at Wired. [via Gravity Lens]
  • Quiz: Cite the source…Scientology or Weekly World News?

Filed under: Tidbits


If you’re a Potter fan, you’ve been waiting for this book for a very long time, and, if you haven’t read it yet, you may be wondering if its worth the wait. The short answer is: yes. As final books go, The Deathly Hallows wraps things up quite nicely indeed.

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Book Review

Tube Bits For 07/28/2007

  • CBS and Paramount announced today what we all knew was coming: the release of the remastered original Star Trek episodes on HDDVD/DVD. The catch being you can only buy them as a complete set, and it will set you back $218. Nice case though.
  • You don’t just get the HD DVD/DVDs for your $218, though. No. You’ll also get a preview of the upcoming Star Trek Online MMORPG. Being a fan of Trek, and wanting to see more SF themed MMO’s, this one has my attention.
  • The BBC announced today the release of their iPlayer. The BBC will allow viewers to download any show from the past week, for free, for viewing later. Sadly, the shows will be deleted after 30 days. Still, this is a step in the right direction. Available in the UK only, but there are ways around that.
  • LOST producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindeloff held a standing room only panel at Comic-Con 2007 and gave out small nuggets about the show’s upcoming season. I can’t wait for next year…

And a parting video for you. A spoof of The Prisoner, done with stuffed animals. Behold, The Prisonbear.

Filed under: LOSTStar TrekTube BitsTVWeb Sites

SF Tidbits for 7/28/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Did You Know: Analog TV Goes Bye Bye In 2009

You probably already know, but, according to this article, Congress is concerned that too few American realize their older, analog TVs (i.e.- non-HD) will become giant paperweights on February 18, 2009. That’s the date Congress has mandated that all over the air broadcast TV must be in digital High-Def, and all current analog signals must stop. That’s in a little under two years from now, and many people don’t know it’s going to happen.

What I find crazy is the bureaucrats mandated this change and are now complaining that the networks aren’t doing enough to educate the viewing public about the change. Also, what about all the people who can’t afford to buy a new TV, let alone a cable connection or HD antenna? Those people are SOL and yet the government is trying to blame the networks.

You may be wondering why there is a mandate at all. You’d think the market would eventually sort through the process and HD would win in the end. Of course, the answer comes down to money. By shutting off access to the analog TV portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, the government can then auction parts of the spectrum off. This means big money for them, and big headaches for the rest of us.

I find this whole thing stupid in the extreme, and the whining from the congress critters about the networks really, really irritates me. They helped create this mess and now won’t take part of the blame. Typical really. I try not to get political on this blog, as that’s just asking for trouble. But this makes me wish the government was way smaller than it actually is and less influence on public life.

Anyway, consider this a heads up for anyone who didn’t know about the switchover. You’ll need to upgrade your TV to an HD set soon and you’ll either have to buy an HD antenna or get an HD capable cable box. The only good news is that any network science fiction shows will be shown in HD. Which, as an avid LOST viewer, looks really sweet.

And if you have an HD set and get Universal HD, they are running Firefly on Saturday nights. In HD. Sweet.

Filed under: TV

Most Overrated?

Taking author John Scalzi up on his request to post about what I consider to be a most overrated work, I submit the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Now I know many people consider this a great film and heartwarming and it certainly was popular. But I’ve never liked it. Most importantly, I thought it was a bad piece of science fiction with little even slightly plausible. The McGuyver-style phone home machine just capped it off for me as terrible. I saw it described as a dog movie – that is boy meets dog, boy names dog, boy grows up, etc. – and to a large part that’s true. The alien doesn’t have to be alien at all – it was developed based on Spielberg’s childhood imaginary friend and it shows. The kids end up proving to be wiser than parents, and the dog runs away, er – E.T. goes home. Of course, my family loves the movie and I am ridiculed for my dislike.

As for the extra credit assignment (was there ever an effort that initially I disliked but then thought better of) I submit Fargo. I didn’t care for it at all the first time I saw it in the theatre, but have since come to think of it as quirky and funny. I figure it was my state of mind on the day in question.

And as a side note, I too read Dune when I was about 12 and did not like it at all. I’ve often thought about rereading as an adult to see what I missed. Scalzi’s comments encourage me to do so.

Filed under: Movies

Here’s a trailer for the family-friendly superhero movie Sky High…remixed as a thriller.

WARNING: Major spoilers shown – if you haven’t seen the movie and want to, look instead to the original Sky High trailer. Look at it anyway, it’s got Bruce Campbell’s “Sidekick” bit.

Filed under: Movies

SF Tidbits for 7/27/07

  • At SciFi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Chris Roberson, author of Set the Seas on Fire.
  • Matthew Jarpe is a hack. “One of the common epithets people throw at a writer they don’t like is ‘hack.’ That’s ‘a writer who exploits his or her ability primarily for money.’ As if producing a product of art with commercial potential is wrong. Well, here’s the thing, I’m a hack.”
  • Jeff VanderMeer has posted mystery excerpts from his New Weird Anthology. The first person to correctly guess the author who wrote them wins a copy of the book.
  • Over at Amazon’s blog, VanderMeer lists 13 Reasons to Read Richard Morgan’s Thirteen. See also the SF Signal review.
  • The Wall Street Journal profiles Robert A. Heinlein. [via Cynical-C]
  • JK Rowling says she will publish a Harry Potter Encyclopedia. [via No Blasters]
  • Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist interviews Peter F. Hamilton (The Dreaming Void). “As a species we’re just not psychologically adjusted to living for more than a century, yet billions are being poured into research that leads to increased life expectancy. Suppose it works out, and we can live for three of ten times longer than today. That’s the kind of question which SF exists for.”
  • Over at his AOL gig, John Scazli looks at overrated books and cited Catcher in the Rye as his pick. “Tell us of one piece of culture — book, movie, album, painting, play, architectural “masterpiece,” whatever — that you think is wildly overrated.”
  • Lou Anders responds to Discover magazine’s “Blinded by Science: Fictional Reality” article.
  • Borders bookstores has cut back their soft seating by 30%. Ed Champion comes to the defense of sitting in bookstores.
  • It’s official: J.J. Abrams, director the upcoming Star Trek movie, confirmed the casting of Heroes star Zachary Quinto as a young Spock and surprised the audience with the announcement that original Spock actor Leonard Nimoy would also appear in the film.
  • The Avalanche Software Art Blog is still going strong with nearly very post offering up some cool, artsy goodness by their very talented staff. Their latest entry is is a caricature of Qui-Gon Jinn.

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 07/27/2007

  • Surprise! Michael is back on LOST, as announced at surprisingly influential Comic-Con 2007.
  • And pity the poor TV critics who feel that Comic-Con is stealing TV news thunder from the Television Critics Association press tour. Please stop whining. It’s clear that Comic-Con does more as far as promotion for TV shows than a press tour for critics.
  • If you’ve spent any time at the Heroes website, you know that NBC has a series of short comic ‘books’ that help flesh out the story. DC Comics will be releasing a hardcover version of those comics, sometime in the near future.
  • Rob Buckley, a UK journalist, offers his impressions of the upcoming Bionic Woman show. Supposedly a new version of the pilot will be screen at, yes, Comic-Con 2007. Maybe his feelings will change.
  • The News&Observer gives 4400 reasons to love summer TV. I keep hearing about how good The 4400 is, but I’ve never seen it. Maybe I should head on over to NetFlix. And I know Tim appreciates the Burn Notice plug.

Filed under: LOSTTV

Does Tivo Kill Science Fiction TV?

While surfing around on these here intertubes, I ran across a rather long rant against Alexa and the way it used as a sort of Nielsen ratings for web sites. What was interesting, and what caught my feed scanner, was this little paragraph:

The Nielsen ratings struggle to account for PVRs. Since you got a TiVo, when was the last time you watched “Live” TV? This is part of why Science Fiction shows struggle on TV… scifi fans are early adopters. So we stopped getting counted and our favorite genres are butchered by networks and lost to the void.

The Cooperative Blog picked up on this and expanded a bit on it by saying:

So smart shows and very noticeably Sci-Fi shows are given the ax because of “low viewership.

The obvious question to ask here is: Is Tivo (DVRs) to blame for science fiction shows being cancelled?

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: TV

Caption Challenge #3: George Lucas Edition

Yes, it is time for another challenge for our readers. This one comes from one of my favorite sites, Forever Geek. They found this Flickr image from the production of the new Indiana Jones film, and I could not resist using it for a challenge. So feel free to give some caption love to Mr. Lucas and Mr. Ford.

Now the arrow points to a t-shirt that says “Han shot first” which can be purchased over at the Star Wars shop and was launched as part of the umpteenth release of the Star Wars Trilogy DVDs.

Filed under: Star Wars

Tube Bits For 07/26/2007

  • Gate World has an interview with David Hewett, who plays Dr. Rodney McKay on Stargate Atlantis. We get the usual stuff about the upcoming season, then he lets loose with a little nugget that he, among others, has been working on a pilot script for a potential series on Sci Fi. This series would be called Starcrossed, and would be about all the behind the scenes silliness that takes place on the set of a science fiction show, sort of a take on The Office, with a SF flavor. Interesting. [via You Know What The Goa'uld Really Want From Us?]
  • If you’re interested in Comic-Con 2007, and you have an Xbox 360, then you might like to know that Xbox Live Marketplace will have a veritable cornucopia of Comic-Con stuff available for your viewing pleasure. Game trailers, interviews, 360 themes, all kinds of stuff. Sadly, all I can do is stew in envy juices as I wait for my 360 coffin to arrive.
  • And now for a bunch of Heroes stuff. Sun-Sentinel.com has a short article that covers some info on season 2. These may spoil some stuff for you so beware.
  • If you really want to be spoiled, then HeroesTheSeries.com has cast photos for season 2. And I do mean spoil. Just seeing the people there brings up numerous questions. Dont’ go unless you really, really want to. You have been warned. Repeatedly. Bad Heroes fan!
  • And lastly, Ubisoft is apparently working on a game, set in the Heroes universe. More info may, or may not, be disclosed during Comic-Con 2007. The mind boggles at the possibilites here, with the number one thought being: “It’s a game based on a TV show, how can it possibly not suck?”

Filed under: Tube Bits

Not Science Fiction

Maureen McHugh has an excellent post over at Eat Our Brains on discussing Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union where she talks about “Not Science Fiction“, the kind of science fiction that some classify as anything but. Maureen’s book Nekropolis is described as a literary novel in sci-fi clothing, so she knows what she’s talking about.

Sez Maureen:

Not Science Fiction is a genre of books which are declared Not Science Fiction, usually by the publishers and the critics. There are dozens of reasons why a book that takes place in the future (The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood) or describes a fantastical break with space and time (The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger or Memoirs of a Survivor by Doris Lessing) or even a journey to another planet in a spaceship where the hero meets aliens (The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell) are declared Not Science Fiction and they range from the legitimate to the pernicious. But as a person navigating a bookstore, I find it a useful category. Certain types of books are never Not Science Fiction. So I know that if I go wandering off to find my title in the general fiction stacks, there are certain characteristics of genre it won’t have. (They aren’t usually series, they tend not to emphasize the science, and they tend to avoid certain conventions like Galactic Empires-tropes I don’t dislike but that I don’t like all that well when it comes right down to it.)

Other Not Science Fiction Books:

  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Children of Men by P.D. James
  • Oryx and Cake Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

Filed under: Books

SF Tidbits for 7/26/07

Filed under: Tidbits


REVIEW SUMMARY: Superheroes, villains, Kurt Russell, Bruce Campbell, Lynda Carter, and, oh yeah, positive messages for kids …what’s not to love?


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Will Stronghold, the son of world-famous superheroes, copes with the rigors of high school as a “normal”. Or is he?


PROS: Positive messages for kids; cool uses of special powers; good special effects.

CONS: Some predictable moments for adults; soundtrack of 80’s covers only made me wish for the originals.

BOTTOM LINE: A fun and entertaining movie for geek parents to watch with their kids.

Read the rest of this entry

Filed under: Movies

SF Tidbits for 7/25/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Tube Bits For 07/25/2007

  • Reaction Shot has an interesting tidbit regarding the 80’s classic SF show, V. It seems that the show creator, Kenneth Johnson, has penned a novel, adapted from a screenplay for a second mini-series. Johnson was the creator of the first mini-series, and his book takes up where that left off. No V: The Final Battle, no V: The TV Show. They didn’t happen. I’ll leave it to you to decide how wedded you are to those versions. The novel will be available this fall from TOR.
  • In case anyone is interested, you can purchase the DVDs for V: The Mini-Series, V: The Final Battle and V: The Complete TV Series. If you’d rather not buy the DVDs, you can download using Amazon’s Unbox service. Well, the mini-series, not the TV show. I chalk this one up in the same category as Buck Rogers: I couldn’t wait to watch them as a kid, but they make me cringe today.
  • Did you know The CW’s new genre show, Reaper, had its first episode directed by Kevin Smith? I find Smith to be a very funny person, even if I’m not a big fan of his films. I’ll probably tune in to see how this show looks. At least, being a bounty hunter for the devil sounds mildly intriguing. I’d also like to mention just how awful Flash-y the CW’s web site is. Take a Valium or something. You’re in last place for a reason.
  • Summer Glau discusses the changes between the Terminators from the films and The Sarah Conner Chronicles. It sounds like the Terminators will be less powerful than the movies. Interesting choice.
  • Does anyone remember the CGI TV show ReBoot? I remember seeing a few episodes and being somewhat interested, but I never really followed. Rainmaker Animation has announced their plans to release a trilogy of films for ReBoot. But wait, there’s more. There is also a ‘social network’ site for fans of the show to log on to: Zeroes 2 Heroes. Fans will be able to interact with the dev teams and suggest ideas for the reboot of ReBoot. Next month, fans will be able to vote for the pitches they want to see onscreen.

Filed under: Tube Bits

Blogging Tips Meme

Paul Raven from Velcro City Tourist Board has tagged us with the Blogging Tips Meme. Now, you may think this is because we have been at this blogging thing for four years, but its probably a pre-emptive tag, so we don’t tag him! :)

This isn’t a ‘standard’, answer the questions type meme. No, this meme we get to give you, the blogger, a helpful tip for your blogging pleasure. Or, in our case, the first thing we could think of.

-Start Copy-

It’s very simple. When this is passed on to you, copy the whole thing, skim the list and put a * star beside those that you like. (Check out especially the * starred ones.)

Add the next number (1. 2. 3. 4. 5., etc.) and write your own blogging tip for other bloggers. Try to make your tip general.

After that, tag 10 other people. Link love some friends!

Just think- if 10 people start this, the 10 people pass it onto another 10 people, you have 100 links already!

1. Look, read, and learn. ****

2. Be, EXCELLENT to each other. ****

3. Don’t let money change ya! ***

4. Always reply to your comments. ***

5. Link liberally — it keeps you and your friends afloat in the Sea of Technorati. **

6. Don’t give up – persistance is fertile. *

7. Give link credit where credit is due.

-End Copy-

Now the fun part. We tag James at Big Dumb Object, John C. Wright, Jeff at Gravity Lens, Matthew Jarpe, Pete Tzinsky from BBT Magazine, the peeps at Club Jade, SF Signal fanboy and resident spellchecker Fred at Texas Best Grok, John Joseph Adams, Tech Republic’s Geekend, Angela at Scifi Chick and a bonus tag to Sci Fi Ranter Girl.

Filed under: Meta

William Shatner comments on Star Trek XI rumors.

From Forever Geek, we have a video of “The Shat” (as we call him) responding to the rumors about his lobbying for a part in the new movie. There has been some speculation that he was quite upset regarding the situation and clears the air in this video.

Filed under: Star Trek

I know a guy who re-reads Orson Scott Card’s Worthing Saga every year. I told him he needs to branch out. He told me he likes the story so much he makes it a tradition.

I can’t say I’ve ever gone that far, but I have re-read books before:

  • I read Dune twice. It did not hold up nearly as well on the second read.
  • I read The Fellowship of the Ring twice, but only because the first time through Lord of the Rings, I stopped in the middle of The Two Towers.
  • A non-genre example: I read Lord of the Flies twice; one force-fed reading in high school, and one much better reading as an adult.
  • (I’ve also said I want to re-read The Man Who Fell to Earth.)

That’s all I can recall at this point. I usually don’t re-read books because there is so much other good stuff out there to read and part of me – no matter how illogical and impossible I know it to be – wants to read it all.

What books have you read more than once?

Filed under: Books

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