By JP Frantz
| Tuesday, February 7th, 2006 at
MOD Films is a website that aims to allow web users to actually act as movie editors and to create their own mashup of moves provided on MOD Films. The audio, video and other resources needed to make a movie will be available for use in a software environment called Switch. This sounds like a non-linear editing environment, only implemented in a web friendly manner. The first movie, Sanctuary, is production now. All of the materials used to make the film will then be usable by site goers to create their own version of the movie.
This sounds rather cool. Sort of a multi-player version of a movie. I’m not sure there is any long term consequences of this. I don’t think most people are going to be all that gung ho about editing a movie once they see what all is involved. A few will, however, and it will be interesting to see what comes of this attempt.
By JP Frantz
| Tuesday, February 7th, 2006 at
If only Charles Babbage had had LEGO, he may haev been able to create a working LEGO Technic Difference Engine. Oh how different today’s world would be. Instead of opening up the world of steampunk, he could have ushered in the era of LEGOpunk and its Danish overlords. I for one would welcome our Danish overlords, especially if their welfare program included LEGOs. Lots of them. Cthulu or not, it doesn’t matter.
A couple of sf-related websites got facelifts this week. The content is the same in both cases, only the appearance has changed. Please do not be alarmed.
First, as previously mentioned, Neil Gaiman’s website underwent a redesign at the beginning of this month; a redesign that also included his popular journal and message board. The new site is more “pop” than the old one (downright blog-like, in fact) but those pining for the nostalgic weird can alsways click over to his MouseCircus.
Secondly, The SciFi Channel’s Science Fiction Weekly gets a facelift with this week’s issue. The front page is more portal-like and contains more than a healthy dose of purple which, I guess, is keeping up with the scifi channel’s main page. One of things I like about the redesign is that the new customization features like seeing any number of book reviews in any sort order. (A certain science fiction blog is conspicuously missing from the Site of the Week listing. I’m just sayin’…)
Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.
Have there been enough books set in the Dune Universe?
SF author Adam Roberts joins a handful of other SF authors who have turned from writing science fiction to writing about science fiction. Available this month is The History of Science Fiction, a book that encompasses the genre from it’s origins to the present. The $95 reference text is described like so:
The first comprehensive critical history of the origins and development of science fiction for many decades, The Palgrave History of Science Fiction explores the genre from an international perspective and in depth. It covers SF from the ancient Greeks, through the rebirth of the genre at the Reformation, with detailed coverage of eighteenth- and nineteenth- century science fiction, and a wide-ranging account of twentieth-century sci-fi in book, film, televisual and comic book forms, concluding with an account of the current state of the genre.
Oh, great. Another reference text I want to own but is way to expensive to justify. Still, any book that uses the word “televisual” in its description has to be worth a little extra cash, no?
REVIEW SUMMARY: An awesome debut novel.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: John deBrun, a man with no memory of his past, must find a mythological artifact to protect the people of Nanagada from the invading Azteca.
PROS: Flawless pacing; rich story background; cultural flavor; colorful characters.
CONS: The Caribbean dialect, while it added to the island flavor, was somewhat of an impediment to reading the dialogue.
BOTTOM LINE: An enjoyable and fast-paced retro-science fiction adventure in a colorful setting supported by a wondrous futuristic background.
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By JP Frantz
| Saturday, February 4th, 2006 at
If mixing LEGO and Cthulu isn’t a match made in, well, where ever, then I don’t know of a better use for LEGO. Cthulego Rising tells the story of what happens when an elder LEGO god rises, and causes havoc amongst the LEGO people.
Truly, an amazing use of LEGO.
SFBC editor Andrew Wheeler shares his tips on how to read a book a day. In a nutshell:
- Have lots of books around you.
- Read books of varying lengths, especially short ones. (The real key to keeping book count up if that’s what you want.)
- Read more than one book a time; read several short books while reading a longer work.
- Read every chance you get – computer maintenance, standing in line, bus rides, etc.
- Set aside dedicated reading time.
For biblioholics like me, this is interesting because it offers ways to turn my book-buying obsession into a book-reading obsession. One book every day sounds like a lot to me, but Andrew’s target is 150 pages a day which sounds more than do-able. I currently average about 1 book a week even though I seem to follow all the tips… Yes, I have piles and piles of books (and the accompanying guilt of having more than I could possibly read in my lifetime). I read short fiction as well as novels (thanks to my 2006 Resolution) and that helps me squeeze short reads over lunch and other stolen moments (online version of stories that I can carry on my PDA helps tremendously in this regard). Dedicated reading time is a bit tougher. I tend to read late at night after (hopefully) quality family time, house-related minutia, etc. Like Andrew, I tend to favor reading over other entertainment activities like TV, movies, gaming, etc., but the late-night reading means I’m usually reading less than 150 pages – though even that depends on the book. Some books are faster reads than others.
By JP Frantz
| Friday, February 3rd, 2006 at
Another intersting mashup, this time using Brokeback Mountain and Back To The Future. Here is Brokeback to the Future. You’ll never look at Christopher Loyd the same again!
Back in the 70′s (you remember the seventies…tye dye, mood rings and no inkling that Galactica 1980 loomed on the horizon) Buck Henry, co-creator of Get Smart with Mel Brooks, wrote and produced a science fiction spoof television show called Quark. It’s pretty bad – low budget, Star Trek sound rip-offs and a laugh track. You have to look pretty hard to find any funny, and even then you’d probably come up with bubkiss. Is it any wonder there were only 8 episodes? Of course, by today’s hit-and-run standards of network programming, that’s a certifiable hit. For those who like to watch train wrecks, you can view the episodes yourself.
[Link via SpaceSick]
Amazon announced a service this week called Amazon Connect that gives authors blog space to post their thoughts. Communication is one-way (no comments allowed) to customers of their books or other members of Amazon Connect. Signup is free for authors. Amazon customers can have a personalized blog (which Amazon calls a “plog”) that culls posts from multiiple author blogs.
This is an interesting way to add more content for users. A few months back, Amazon added a Product Wiki that allowed customers to add content about the purchased product; and now this. Seems like my idea took hold. (Yeah, I’m pretty sure sure the credit is all mine. :)) More bonus material for the reader is a good thing.
Some authors who already blog are pointing Amazon Blog readers to their own blogs. For example, Tobias S. Buckell.
Books • Web Sites
The 2006 Locus Poll & Survey ballot is now online! Voting is open to anyone with an opinion and the deadline is April 15. I will be voting since, as a Locus Magazine subscriber, I receive an additional issue. (Yay me!) Authors who wish to send me bribes may do so via my SF Signal email address.
While I’m on the subject of voting – and here I must refrain from bragging about SF Signal’s Digital Hugo nomination (Toot-toot!) – I’d thought I’d mention some of my thoughts on votes (and awards) in general.
First and foremost: Awards are fun! Who doesn’t like the occasional “Best of” list? We do! But is an award an indication of quality or is it a popularity contest? I’ll cut to the chase: the bottom line is “No” but, in general, awards do tend to favor the better stories. (I’m talking about “Best of the year” awards, not Best-selling type awards.)
However, there are theoretically problems with the process. Let’s say that 2006 was a great year for sf/f. There could conceivably be many titles that are worthy of the award, but only one gets it. Are the others of lesser quality? Should they be ignored even if they were not nominated? Or, take the other extreme: what if it was a poor, poor year for quality sf/f? What if none of the books deserve an award? Well, something has to win and that winner will just be the best poorly-written novel. And think about successive years. Is the poorly-written award-winning novel from 2035 more deserving than the awesome 2034 novel that came in second place? OK, I’m being pessimistic; these are just the theoretical. I think, in reality, awards do tend to favor the better stories.
Of course, that’s just me. Quality is in the eye of the beholder. And my own personal track record of enjoying award-winning novels is not so good, a problem I hope to rectify when I vote in the 2006 Locus Poll & Survey.
Tobias S. Buckell and Emerald City point to fledgling website AboutSF which describes itself as “a resource center that provides services related to speculative literature, science fiction, and education.” Among other things, the site serves as a way to contact experts on speculative fiction for speaking engagements. They also plan to be a one-stop-shop for SF curriculum resources. Cool.
What’s even cooler is their blog posting talks up the planed Curriculum Wiki which will host SF curricula information. This wiki will be open up to the public.
This is the January 2006 update of my New Year’s Resolution.
STARTING SF-POINTS©: 0
SF-POINTS© EARNED THIS MONTH: 47 (QUOTA: 31)
YEAR-TO-DATE SF-POINTS©: 47 (YTD QUOTA: 31)
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It always interests me to see what other people are reading. I like to see what appeals to their tastes in reading. Some people like to stick to a single author until their entire bibliography is read. Others like to mix it up by alternating authors and even genres. Some switch between fiction and non-fiction. I’m curious to know what our readers read and what their impressions were.
For my part, as I religiously post on this very site, I recently read Frederik Pohl’s career-spanning collection Platinum Pohl. It was a good collection of stories, though Pohl is liberal with the economic and political themes. But man, there were some great stories in there. I think I tend to overdose on a particular writing style in collections but not so much with anthologies where the various authors have widely different styles. And yet, that’s a reading impediment that does not usually occur with novel-length fiction. Somehow, the short doses of science fiction make me more aware of the writer’s style.
So, what’s the last book you read and was it any good?