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SFX #160 Roundup

I had a chance to look over the latest issue (September 2007) of SFX magazine and thought I’d share my thoughts. You know SFX…it’s that newsstands magazine that causes double-takes because there’s a running gag of having some foreground element blocking the lower part of the “F”, making it look like an “E”. SFX covers science fiction in all its forms: TV, film, books, DVD, audio books…even games and toys.

Being a U.S. resident reading a U.K. media magazine is always illuminating because it makes me keenly aware of my America-centric view of genre, even in this age of global InterTubes. Take television shows, for example. U.K. shows like Primeval, Hyperdrive and Jekyll fall below my radar, so it’s nice to learn about them. But I’m not a total TV noob, so it’s also nice to see coverage of shows I’m familiar with, too. One of those U.K./U.S. moments is with schedule-shifted shows; like Doctor Who, whose episodes run in the U.K. months before they do here in the States, or like Heroes whose airings lag behind the U.S. With the former, there is the mental wrestling between my desire to learn juicy morsels and my fear of spoilers. With the latter, it’s either a nice recap or a way to to catch up on missed episodes. Speaking of spoilers, the magazine comes with a sealed interior section called “Spoiler Zone” that offers 30 spoilery episode summaries/reviews for 9 different shows.

A big plus of SFX is that it does not gloss over science fiction in printed form. Twenty-two of the eighty-eight (!) reviews cover new book releases. Another eight reviews cover book re-issues. They are not in-depth critiques by any definition, but they do give you a feel for the book. The issue also features interviews with authros Stephen Baxter (author of Navigator and a frequent book reviewer for SFX), Brian Aldiss (HARM), Jasper Fforde (First Among Sequels)and Austin Grossman (Soon I Will Be Invincible). That’s above-average author coverage for a magazine that covers multiple media formats, methinks. (Other interview subjects in this issue include Nathan Filion (Firefly) and Adrian Pasdar (Heroes), among others.)

The issue really has lots of cool articles and information. Here are but some of the interesting tidbits:

  • Although the cover story is about the upcoming Star Trek prequel, two of the article’s sidebars caught my attention:
    • 7 Reasons Why Wrath of Khan Rocks – which includes the perennial reason #4.
    • A must-read/must-avoid list of Star Trek prequel media tie-ins by author Tom Holt.
      • The good: Best Destiny by Diane Carey; Kobayashi Maru by Julia Ecklar (this highlight of which is “Chekov’s gloriously anarchic paintball killing-spree aboard a derelict space station); Final Reflection by John M. Ford; Enterprise by Vonda N. McIntyre.
      • The bad: all three parts of Jan Michael Friedman’s My Brother’s Keeper trilogy (“Friedman’s version of young Kirk misses the point on every score.”); Vulcan’s Forge by Jospeha Sherman and Susan Schwartz (as per the authors, written in response to the editor’s pleas for “Jews in Space”).
  • A Flash Gordon piece that illuminates our own less-than-stellar impressions with this seemingly contradictory quote from show Producer Pascal Verschooris: “The whole premise of the show is to respect Flash Gordon and its history and culture. But we’re not travelling in rockets anymore. Instead our choice is that we travel in parallel worlds.”
  • Edward James Olmos on the end of BSG: “[The SciFi Channel’s] gonna wish they had another 120 episodes by the time ten years rolls around. […] This thing’s like Blade Runner. It’s gonna be around 25 years from today, and everybody’s gonna celebrate it. But they don’t deserve it now. They’re done. They’ll never get this group together again.”
  • Season 2 of Eureka has some behind-the-scenes changes: Original co-creator Andrew Cosby hands the reigns over to Charlie Craig (The X-Files), who will pull the strings along with the remaining original co-creator, Jamie Paglia.
  • David Langford (who also has a monthly column in the magazine) says of Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea books: “Like The Lord of the Rings, the original Earthsea trilogy belongs at the heart of any fantasy library.”
  • Here’s an unexpected nugget: In 1974, Marvel Team-Up featured Spider-Man and the original cast of Saturday Night Live. Yikes!
About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

6 Comments on SFX #160 Roundup

  1. I have to agree with EJO on BSG, it is so topical and fierce that people will probably look back and wonder what would have happened if it would have kept going … especially if Ron Moore comes through on his threat to do some sort of “Sopranos” style ending.

  2. Just a note, but BBC America is running Jekyll if your local cable system gets it.

  3. Speaking of UK magazines, Doctor Who Magazine is a great read, as long as you don’t mind a lot of spoilers because of the episode airing lag time between the UK and the US. It always is chockful of great content on new and old Who (though the focus is primarily on new Who). It’s a costly subscription, though: About $120 per year to have it mailed here to the States. I find out a lot of things about Who I’d never know, though. Like how most of the previous Doctor actors are doing audio book readings of new adventures of their incarnations. I might buy a Tom Baker one and take a listen to see how they are. And they even have Doctor 8 Paul McGann doing readings. How great that his unfortunately short tenure is being extended like this! Anyhoo, just mentioning another fantastic UK magazine. Ciao.

  4. Scott: Thanks for the tip! BBC America needs to do more advertising during Eureka and Heroes. πŸ™‚

    Bill: I noticed some of that (the audio book stuff) in the SFX ads — and even those were educational for me with respect to what’s going on in the field.

  5. John: if you watch the reruns of “Coupling” on BBCA (which I still find extremely funny), you would have been innundated with commercials for Jekyll — I think it’s because both Coupling and Jekyll has the actress, Gina Bellman in it… Has anyone seen Jekyll? Is it worth TiVo-ing?

  6. I think it was a typo in that quote about Flash Gordon: I think he meant to say “The whole premise of the show is to REJECT Flash Gordon and its history…”

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