May 2005 Archives
May 31, 2005
I have a great concept for a SF story....
It's the future. Things are bleak.
A remix of a mobile phone ringtone becomes the highest selling/downloaded single of the week in the UK.
May 30, 2005
Firefly is something a little bit magic. Far more than the sum of it's parts it seems to defy my analysis. I just know that I love it. I can't really explain why (although this is what I've tried to do).
If you haven't seen it get the DVD's and watch the series. Then, along with the rest of us, go and see Serenity. I can't wait.
May 29, 2005
The BBC have their press pack for The Empty Child online (I think it came online a week or so ago). It includes interviews with the writer Steven Moffat, and John Barrowman and Richard Wilson (actors).
An episode concluding the story started in The Empty Child, complete with creepy Gas Mask wearing zombie people. Spoilers follow.
They swear in Chinese.
The ship is like a home.
The characters are real.
They use cowboy style guns.
They ride horses on alien planets.
Their universe feels big.
It's really funny.
May 27, 2005
Pyr have their forthcoming books online. They includes Context by John Meaney and Silver Screen by Justina Robson (which I read a few years ago and really enjoyed).
I cannot believe some TV exec cancelled Firefly. Are they stupid? Well yes obviously, but come on, they can't all be stupid. Can they? Some one up the chain of command must have thought it was good? Who knows where Joss Wheedon would have gone with a second season? Or a third. But there is hope. The film, Serenity, is coming out this September. The trailer looks good, River in full combat kungfu mode. Lots of spaceships. And the old crew back on Serenity. Maybe someone will realise their mistake an reinstate the show? That's what one of the producer guys (sorry forgotten who exactly) said on the DVD extras. Make a movie then make a new series. Dream outcome.
May 26, 2005
Jennifer Ellison. Please let it not be true.
Jen Lined Up For Doctor Who Role - Yahoo! UK & Ireland News
Hopefully it's just her agent trying to get the gig.
So a seemingly inevitable question. How does Firefly compare to New Battlestar Galactica? If I was stuck on a desert island with a solar powered DVD player which DVD's would I take, Firefly or New BSG?
Well I think that BSG is more SF, robots, spaceships, apocalypse, religion, all very traditional SF themes. I think that BSG is more immediate as a series. I also think that BSG has a stronger story arc from the start, they have a goal, you can see where it's going overall (or you think it's going).
Firefly on the other hand is more episodic. The plot themes are theft, smuggling, mercenaries etc. Western, cowboy themes. And it's a slow burner, it's just not as immediate. But all that misses the point. The great thing about Firefly is the characters.
I loved watching the new BSG series, couldn't wait to see the next plot twist or situation. But once I'd watched it I wanted the next one, not the last one. With Firefly I'd watch an episode and really want to see it again. Because Firefly is so much more than plot. It is about the characters, it is about making you feel things. And at the end of every Firefly episode I would be smiling. And then I'd get the urge to go outside and live a little bit, to turn off the TV and computer and actually do something.
I'd take Firefly.
May 25, 2005
It sounds great...
"Harry, Samuel and Adam all enjoyed being so frightened, but Amy was too scared to sleep alone after it. No one had nightmares."
"Harry thinks that something is 'way too scary,' so he backs away from the TV and runs to the doorway and peeks around the door."
For those who don't know, AllConsuming is a website that tracks the things you are consuming, be it books, music, movies or anything else. New features include free-form tagging of items ala Flickr, and an RSS feed of your latest activity.
I'm trying it out and here's the list of BDO relevant things (cunningly tagged "bdo"). It still lacks a few things from what I can see. I want an rss feed per tag or tag combination and the ability to post entries to multiple blogs from the web ui. But it seems like a good start.
Now, how can I cram that feed into the main BDO site? I feel some web design coming on.
You know I don't really care, if it's good I like it. Some of the best TV I've watched this year has not been SF. But, seeing as this *is* as Science Fiction blog I think the question should be discussed.
Initially I would have said no, that it was just a western set in space. Similar accusation are slung against Star Wars frequently, but lets not go there.
There is no obviously SF story arc in Firefly, no set-up pulled from the SF bag (of cliches?). Compare that to BSG, "an apocalypse of the human race is brought about by robots that they built and they are forced to flee across the galaxy in a ragtag fleet". That is the sort of pitch that even media executives would classify as SF. But Firefly is different, the premise is pure cowboy western, frontier worlds, smuggling, theft. But there are two things in Firefly that create great SF potential. Firstly they have a spaceship! That means that anything SF could probably happen if they wanted it to. Some of the episodes are more space based than others but it's there. Secondly, River. A young girl hacked into some new Dark Angel style weapon, who's gone a bit loopy and can read minds and is a genius.
Unfortunately both of these things never got a chance to be explored fully in the series. The movie trailer hints that we shall see some more or River....
John@SfSignal has posted a nice piece about how he reviews books, criteria he uses etc. It makes you sound very professional John!
Charlie Stross has created a wiki which aims to explain that S word...
Explore it, it's funny.
May 24, 2005
The Doctor and Rose follow a mauve(!) object through space time and end up on Earth, in London, in 1941.
"Mark Webb, 20, and an unnamed 17-year-old girl filled fluorescent light tubes with petrol to recreate the famous lightsabres and filmed their mock battle"
The second show in the Firefly series "train job" didn't really help with my conversion. It was good I enjoyed it, but it was just....I don't know. It seemed a bit mediocre. After watching the DVD extras I found out that this episode had to be written as a grabby new action filled pilot for the TV execs to be happy, and to give them something to air that (they thought) people would watch.
May 23, 2005
I've broken my Firefly review up into daily bite-sized chunks, because if you're like me you always intend to read stuff longer than one paragraph, but never do....
The hype for Firefly preceeds it. That's a difficult situation for a TV series, especially one that has been cancelled. Plus the recent series of Battlestar Galactica seemed, to me anyway, to set a new standard in 21st century TV SF. And it was a Joss Wheedon show, had he exhausted all of his powers on Buffy and Angel? I was a little bit sceptical.
The first episode "Serenity", which was the original pilot, threw me a bit. It was not what I expected at all. I'd heard it described as western but thought that probably meant the style or themes or whatever. But no it's real cowboy-western-SF. And after the pilot I was left with a somewhat confused, but intrigued, frown.
The Sun reports that Billie Piper will only appear in 3 episodes of the new Doctor Who series. The article reads like it is a big blow for Who but personally I think that changing the doctor and companions once a series is no big deal really. Especially companions, they've always come and gone.
May 22, 2005
The Star Wars posse was in town for the F1 grand prix in Monte Carlo, including George, Hayden and Ian McDiarmid (all of whom were interviewed by ITV). George was asked if he was going to make a motorsport film, he said no pretty blankly. Plus the Red Bull cars were decked out in super cool Star Wars graphics, including the pit crew wearing clone trooper style helmets. Unfortunately David Coulthard's car got damaged by an incoming Schumacher when he was trying to avoid a spun Minardi.
Regular readers will notice that I am missing my regular Doctor Who review. There is a very simple but annoying reason for this. This week was the first time that I was not going to be at home when the episode was on so I set the VCR. I didn't check the times because it has been on at 7pm every week so far, so why would it change? (and no I don't have a fancy epg thingy, it's a very old and cheap VCR). Of course this week it was on half an hour early because of the Eurovision song contest. Grrr. Oh for a time machine.
Anyway, I'll do the review when I get hold of a copy of the episode...
May 20, 2005
I have to say that I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Not sure if it's just that I'm sad that it is finally the end of the Star Wars saga or what. ?
I really want to see it again now.
Some more spoilers...
May 19, 2005
Following is a stream of consciousness (should that be gibberish?) review of Revenge of the Sith. It contains lots of detailed SPOILERS!
This site provides translations of all of the Chinese used in Firefly, organised by episode or phrase.
UPDATE : Hmmm, MT didn't like me pasting in that Chinese then! Try again....
err...not much better. I'll give up on the Chinese.
StarWars.com has a multi-page article on Revenge of the Sith, touching on all aspects of the film's creation. Not too many spoilers either if you're still avoiding them.
I've just seen Revenge of the Sith.
I loved it.
Feeling a bit depressed now however, with a strong urge to watch A New Hope.
Long review to follow.
May 18, 2005
On the 6th of July Dark Horse release Serenity #1 (of 3), timing the last issue to coincide with the movie release. Cool. Time to visit the comic shop.
Oh well, that is what man created the internet for (with thanks to Mr. Cohen)
Less than 24 hours until I see Revenge of the Sith.....
"Excited" is a word that does not begin to convey how I feel.
The full list at Locus Online News: Locus Awards Finalists
Best Science Fiction Novel
The Algebraist, Iain M. Banks (Orbit)
Eastern Standard Tribe, Cory Doctorow (Tor)
Forty Signs of Rain, Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperCollins UK; Bantam)
The Baroque Cycle: The Confusion; The System of the World, Neal Stephenson (Morrow)
Iron Sunrise, Charles Stross (Ace)
I have no idea who will win!
The UI is actually quite nice, although there doesn't seem to be much room for individuality. It will be interesting to see how many remain active after a few months.
May 17, 2005
I've been ill the last few days. You would think that it would be the perfect opportunity to do some reading, and perhaps make a dent in my ToRead pile (halfway through Gridlinked, Jonthan Strange and the Baroque Cycle ahead...). But no, I couldn't really concentrate on a book, or even on the web (shock!), being ill sucks. However I found a tonic that kept me happy. I watched all the episodes of Firefly that I hadn't seen, which was about the last half of the series. A full write up will be on its way soon.
May 16, 2005
My experience of trying to win a ticket to the UK premiere of Revenge of the Sith last Friday taught me a couple of things:
(1) It's nigh on impossible to win something on a national radio station with over 7 million listeners.
(2) I know a lot more about Star Wars than your average person who thinks they are a Star Wars fan.
...copies of the now out-of-print New Adventures became sought after collectibles. Some could command as much as fifty times their cover price on online auction sites such as eBay.
We're now publishing a series of these books online, for free
Nice. I love the BBC.
May 15, 2005
The BBC has an article and some video of the Revenge of the Sith screening at Cannes. There were stormtroopers (they get everywhere these days) but best of all Natalie Portman was sporting a Signourney Weaver in Aliens shaved head. The extreme haircut is for her part in Alan Moore's V for Vendetta (worryingly with writing credits by the we-only-had-one-good-film-in-us Wachowski brothers). Meanwhile, whilst I'm talking about hair, Hayden was wearing a very neat side parting and Ian McDiarmid was trying to do a Samuel L Jackson impression with a little beard (at least that's what it looks like from the small picture).
May 14, 2005
Rose and the Doctor go back in time to the day that her father died.
First Derren wrote a word down and showed it to the camera. Then Derren put all of Iain's books before him. Then let him choose contemporary or SF, then choose a book, then a page then a word. The word chosen was of course the one that he had written down beforehand. Amazing stuff. Mr Banks was suitably impressed.
I went to see Derren Brown live last week and he was absoloutely amazing.
May 13, 2005
BBC Radio 1 are giving away tickets to the UK Revenge of the Sith premiere today. Here's my running commentary....
First chance 0400 - 0700 Nemone's early breakfast show. Unfortunately I didn't get up early enough. Doh!
Second chance 0700 - 1000 The Chris Moyles breakfast show. Got through to their automated line a few times but didn't get put through to the switchboard because it was too busy. Booo! The qualifying question was "Who speaks first in A New Hope" and the answer is of course C3P0. The the woman who got through had to listen to someone speaking a line from a Star Wars movie and guess whether it was one of the actors or not. It was a bit of trick one, but I spotted the West Country twang, it was David Prowse. She got it right.
Third chance 1000 - 1245 Jo Whiley's show. Qualifying question was was "What is Princess Leia's home planet?" the answer is of course Alderaan. Once again I didn't getthrough to the studio, despite endless trying. The first guy who got on had to guess whether the line "Crush them, make them suffer" was by a fan or actor. He said fan, but it was in fact Matthew Wood who voiced Grievous. He was a bit disappointed. Then someone else had a go and had to guess "get this walking carpet out of my way" but it was so obviously not Carrie Fisher and he won.
Fourth chance 1300 - 1600 Colin and Edith's show. Qualifying question "what do Wicket and (two other ewoks I can't be bothered to remember) have in common?", answer, they're ewoks. Didn't get through. The bloke guessed that it wasn't Hayden seeing the line. Now very depressed.
BTW any tips on how to hack your way to the front of telephony queues would be appreciated at this point.
Fifth chance 14:30 Colin and Edith are now giving away marathon tickets (it's no wonder I couldn't get any, everyone is giving them away in competitions). You just have to text them, and hope they call you. One woman has won tickets already, but they're doing it again now.
15.30 One pair of marathon tickets left.
15.48 Last pair of tickets gone. Boo hoo.
Last chance 1600 - 1800 Scott Mills show. Got through to a person and they hung up! Grrr. Had enough of this. I shall remain satisfied with seeing it on Thursday.
A Revenge of the Sith dashboard widget, which counts down to the release and has a nice picture.
This made me laugh, Xeni@BoingBoing blogged the Revenge of the Sith charity premiere on a napkin, because her phone was confiscated.
The official Arthur C. Clarke Award site had been update with the details of the award winner and a full transcript of Administrator Paul Kincaid's speech which is always interesting to read.
May 12, 2005
China Miéville has won this year's prestigious Arthur C Clarke award in a ceremony in London on May 11th, with his bnovel The Iron Council. [Via Forbidden Planet]. The official website hasn't been updated yet (and it's stuck in a 1997 timewarp).
This could spark the "but is it Science Fiction?" debate. Isn't The Iron Council fantasy? But then look back at the past winners...
2004 - Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson
2003 - The Separation by Christopher Priest
2002 - Bold As Love by Gwyneth Jones
2001 - Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
That's two historical SF and two fantasy. You have to go back to 2000 to when Distraction by Bruce Sterling won for something close to traditional(?) SF, but even that wasn't.
Anyway, I'm not complaining, I like the variation and I've read 8 out of the 19 winners. But somewhere I bet some people are complaining. (On the net someone is always complaining about everything most of the time....)
BBC Radio 1 are running competitions tomorrow, where each show has a pair of tickets for the London premiere. That's what I'll be doing tomorrow then.
Fear Forecast: Father's Day, the kids say 2 == Quite Scary.
Amy (aged 4) grabs a tissue from the box and balances it on her nose. "Look at me!" Harry (aged 6) does so, sternly. "Shh Amy, I'm trying to listen!"
May 11, 2005
Apparently UK light entertainment superstars (well maybe) Ant and Dec have landed parts in a SF film called Alien Autopsy. The bad? Ant and Dec are usually known for comedy (well sort of). The good? Jonny Campbell, who was behind the award winning television series 'Shameless', is set to direct it. Oh and the story came via The Sun so it could be completely made up.
Today, in a shop, I saw lovely big Revenge Of The Sith mugs (ideal for a cuppa). The only downside is that they talked to you! I managed to get five of them talking at once and then ran away.
May 10, 2005
Charlie Stross is agonising in public about whether to write a third book in his Singularity Sky series. Personally I don't mind that the Eschaton is not really explained, or expanded upon. I like a little mystery. If the whole of that universe is wrapped up neatly perhaps it will destroy the feel? After all, look at what happened to the Matrix trilogy, wouldn't you love to go back to before 2+3 and keep that air of mystery?
(BTW my inverse trilogy coolness hypothesis is still on course for coming true. And no I haven't done a graph yet.)
I just stumbled across The Evil Overlord Devises a Plot by Teresa Nielsen Hayden. It's old, but hey, that's why del.icio.us is so cool (finding other old stuff that people stumble across). Anyway, I always read everything I can on writing tips in the vain hope that it will somehow transform me into a William Gibson-esque Science Fiction superstar novellist. Overnight. Unlikely I know, but I can dream.
I've only just noticed that I've been hit by some Trackback spam that I didn't catch (bizarrely enough mainly for cruises). So I've got the newsest MT-Blacklist and everything is groovy again.
I just suggest that you don't use the word casino in any comments!
May 9, 2005
We have been invaded.
Trailers on the TV in every ad-break. On cereal packets. TV adverts for cereals and crisps and burgers. Comics. Books. Magazines. Everywhere. All the time.
It does seem a bit weird to me seeing Chewbacca in a Pringles commercial.
But I am still seriously excited.....
This years Science Fiction Hall of Fame inductees Steven Spielberg, Philip K. Dick, Chesley Bonestell, Ray Harryhausen, were inducted this weekend. Not too many complaints about those choices.
May 7, 2005
The Doctor, Rose and Adam travel into the far future and land on satellite 5, a TV satellite broadcasting to the entire Earth Empire.
May 6, 2005
No flashy SF specific graphics, but the Countdown Calendar Dashboard widget for OS X is handy for all those important countdowns.
13 days until Revenge of the Sith!
Count the days until BSG season 2! etc etc
Apparently Steven Spielberg was Moved To Tears At Star Wars Screening. Ahhh. (And no I don't regularly read www.femalefirst.co.uk).
The press have seen Revenge of the Sith now and so there are a few reviews on the web. I'm sort of avoiding them because I don't want any spoilers (sort of == scanning quickly and then closing my eyes and trying to forget any spoilers I accidently see).
TheForce.Net has about 4 reviews.
Everything seems positive.
With regards to the UK Star Wars premiere, I told my mate Dave at work and he said "Oh you should have told me about it earlier, I know a few people, I might have got you in." Doh!
May 5, 2005
The press pack for Episode Seven is online and includes an interview with comedy genius Simon Pegg.
Looks like some film exec wants to ruin the memory of another awesome film, this time War Games.
I love War Games. "Lets play global thermonuclear war!". It made me crave for a modem to attach to my BBC Microcomputer (I never got one).
A few people have put some photos from the Nebula Awards up on Flickr (including Cory Doctorow). Lots of people in dinner jackets, but it's always interesting to see pictures of authors you have never seen, then you can go "wow, I never expected them to look like that!".
Except when you meet William Gibson and then you go "Wow he's exactly like I expected him to be!"
Or when you meet Terry Pratchett and you go "Wow! He looks like he should be in Doctor Who!" (Although Christopher Ecclestone has set the expectations somewhat higher, sorry Terry).
May 4, 2005
"UK newspaper critics give their verdict on New York's Philharmonic orchestra conductor Lorin Maazel's opera adaptation of George Orwell's 1984, which received its world premiere at the Royal Opera House in London on Tuesday."
Overall rating seems to be ungood.
I never fail to be dismayed by the "As Others See Us" type comments. All the reviews of the new Battlestar Galactica struck me like this, people kept talking about "reinventing the genre". Er...no. How about "making SF TV that truly represents the genre". ?
May 3, 2005
The Nebula Winners have been announced here [Via SFSignal]. Best novel went to Paladin of Souls, by Lois McMaster Bujold, which I haven't read so I can't comment. In fact I haven't read any of the main winners.
More interesting than the actual result is Neil Gaiman's wonderful speech.
UPDATE: Locus has a picture of the winners.
StarWars.com has A Hero Falls, the music video online. It's basically all the footage from the trailers set to the new music by John Williams, but with a few frames of new stuff. And the new footage is great, watch rewind watch rewind watch rewind. More Obi-Wan and Anakin in action.
Yesterday was a Bank Holiday in the UK, which means that everyone has a days holiday, including Banks (genius naming) and Bloggers.
However I did do something notable (besides painting the bathroom), I watched the first episode of Firefly (finally!). It wasn't what I expected, but I liked it, I'll post a full review once I've watched the entire series.