October 2005 Archives

October 31, 2005

Star Wars downloads

StarWars.com now has a downloads section. It's powered by CNet's download.com and has things like gamed demos, desktop wallpaper, screensaves and songs. All for a price. Not very inspiring.

Doctor Who merchandise

The BBC has a colourful product catalogue of all the Doctor Who merchandise that they produce, including a Dalek watch, a TARDIS keyring, a Slitheen mug (why?!) and of course a remote controlled Dalek.

October 28, 2005

Michael Caine in The Prestige

The Prestige is sounding really good. Christopher Nolan directing it, actors Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale signed on and now Sir Michael Caine. Exciting.

An Interview with M. John Harrison

PH-UK has a nice interview with M. John Harrison, whom I can't ever remember reading an interview with before.

October 27, 2005

Best Ever Science Fiction Poll

New Scientists poll of The World's Best Space Sci-Fi Ever is all over the SF Blogosphere.

I have to comment because it is just ridiculous.

Like many of these polls, the recent releases are overrated by vast porportions. Yes I love Firefly, yes I loved Serenity, but to say that Serenity is the best Scence Fiction film ever, is just rubbish. Better than rest of the top ten...The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: A New Hope, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Dune, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Forbidden Planet, Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith?? I don't think so. Well, Dune maybe, but those other films are classics and Serenity is not yet. It's just this months release.

The book list is equally uninspired. Not a mention of Gibson or Stephenson. Maybe that's just the New Scientist readership?

The TV show list I'll let off, it's reasonable.

Perhaps we need to arrange the definitive blog meme best SF list to get some sense.

October 26, 2005

SciFi Channel trailing Battlestar Galactica season 2 part 2

You know what SciFi channel? You running trails of the second part of season two of Battlestar Galactica (phew that's a mouthful) does not make January come any quicker. I mean come on! That's months away. And the website content doesn't satisfy me either, even the video blogs. Work faster or something.

Doctor Who wins National TV awards

Doctor Who takes three TV awards

Blimey. Didn't expect that. Doctor Who won all of the three awards it was up for in the National TV Awards. Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper won the most popular actor and actress and the show itself won most popular drama. Here's the full list of winners. My surprise is because these are populist awards, and somehow despite the ratings success I didn't assume that Doctor Who would appeal to the audience. But it did. Hooray! British TV viewing public I forgive you (well, some of you).

October 25, 2005

Doctor Who turns on Christmas Lights

The celebrity lifestyle that one inherits as Doctor Who must be quite overwhelming. David Tennant must confront this stardom firsthand as he...wait for it....turns on the Christmas Lights in Cardiff, a job normally reserved for celebrities such as teen pop bands and soap stars. Don't let it go to your head David ;-)

Vote for Doctor Who in TV Moment of the year

The extremely creepy "Are you my mummy?" boy, from the Doctor Who episodes The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances is nominated for TV Moment of the year. Vote here.

Serenity hits the sequel jackpot?

Cinematical say that they have heard a rumour (it's getting tenuous) that $30 million was the amount of dosh that Serenity had to make to guarantee a sequel. And now it's made that much. So will we see a sequel? My guess is no. Studio execs will be happier to regurgitate old films made to look new and shiny in their constant quest for more $$$$. Capitalism sucks.

Darth Vader in Butter

Forget Gifs, Butter is the new thing. Cinematical points to Darth Vader sculpted out of butter. Yes, I did type that correctly.

Big Computer Rules The World

Whe I was younger I saw a film in which a crazy meglomaniac computer took over the world by taking control of the worlds nuclear missiles. No, it was well before Terminator and War Games. All I remember was that it was very bleak and had a wonderful un-Hollywood ending. Ever since I've been trying to find out what that film was (not trying awfully hard, but thinking about it now and again sort of trying.) And guess what? I've found it, whilst reading an essay entitled Does Visual Studio Rot the Mind? (which is only of interest if you (a) know what Visual Studio is and (b) Actually use it.).

The answer.....?

Continue reading Big Computer Rules The World.

Interzone mentioned in The Guardian

Everyone cheer, Interzone gets a mainstream press mention for its 200th issue.

"...the fantastical short story can genuinely be said to thrive in its pages."

Empire Strikes Back in a Gif

Following on from A New Hope in one Gif, here's The Empire Strikes Back!

October 24, 2005

Germany gets the new Doctor Who series

Don't know whether the German broadcaster ProSieben will dub it, but it seems quite bizzare that countries such as Germany, Canada, South Korea and Hungary have bought it but no one in the USA has. Do US broadcasters just think they can do better? Or do they think that US audiences won't enjoy it? Anyone in the US care to comment?

All Of A NewHope in one Gif

A wonderful animated GIF, that retells the entirety of Star Wars Episode 4!!

October 21, 2005

SciFi canon meme

I just realised that I never did the "bold is what I've seen" version of Scalzi's SF movie canon list.

So here it is...

Continue reading SciFi canon meme.

October 20, 2005

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke

Well, I've finally finished reading Jonathan Strange... It's taken me a long time because it's a big book and I was only reading about a chapter a day (or less).

What did I think?

Continue reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke.

Apocalyptic SF that I've read

In my quest to find some apocalyptic SF to read I realised that I had already read a couple. These are the ones that I can remember.

  • The Wild Shore - Kim Stanley Robinson. Probably the weakest of the Orange County trilogy but still worth a read. Also not sure it qualifies because only the US gets destroyed.
  • I Am Legend - Richard Matheson. Brilliant, scary, scary book.

I've seen far more apocalyptic films. Not sure why, maybe because Hollywood keeps churning them out? :-)

End of the World SF

I don't know why (perhaps it's the encroaching flu pandemic) but I have an urge to read apocalyptic, end of the word science fiction.

Can anyone recommend any?

My (very) short list so far consists of:

Day Of The Triffids
War Of The Worlds
The Drowned World

October 19, 2005

How To Survive A Robot Uprising

Yesterday the Telegraph had an article about, and extracts from, How To Survive A Robot Uprising (It was released in the UK a couple of weeks ago). It's highly entertaining. The website has extracts too including my favourite, filed under How To Survive Hand-To-Hand Combat...

DON’T BOTHER WITH KARATE
Unless you can punch through sheet metal.

And it's selling for £3.99 on Amazon. Bargain.

Slush God reads everything (but not in its entirety)

For anyone who's ever submitted a story to F&SF here's the good news...

Yes, all the stories get read

...and here's the bad news...

and yes most of them reveal themselves as awful within the first couple sentences or pages.

October 18, 2005

Torchwood anagram

Something I forgot to point out yesterday...rearrange the letters in Torchwood to get...Doctor Who. Da da! He's a clever bloke that Russell T Davies.

October 17, 2005

Torchwood, a new SF series

Awesome news, Russell T Davies is to write an adult (post watershed) 13 part sci-fi paranoid thriller starring Captain Jack from the new Doctor Who series. Russell says...

"It's dark, wild and sexy, it's the X Files meets This Life. It's a stand-alone series for adult audiences which will have its own unique identity."

This sounds exactly what I've been waiting for the BBC to do. Fantastic! Filming begins next year.

UPDATE
Plenty of news about this online.

An Interview with Gwyneth Jones

The SF Site has an Interview with Gwyneth Jones.

I think her Bold As Love series is quite brilliant, unfortunately I didn't enjoy Bold As Love as much as I wanted to and it put me off reading the others. Looking back on it now though it feels very original.

The Geek Hierarchy

This made me laugh, The geek hierarchy chart.

John Wyndham interview

Via The Alien Online, the BBC have a video of a John Wyndham interview online, along with a clip of Day Of The Triffids as part of their Lost Decade season. The interview is conducted in precise, old fashioned, "posh" BBC English and is fascinating. The film clip is from the 1962 version, which I haven't seen, although I remember being terrified by the 80's TV series version.

As Ariel points out it does require Real Player, but I long ago gave in to that because the Beeb has just too much good stuff available.

The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies

Via BoingBoing, John Scalzi's The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies (UK/US) contains reviews of what he believes are the 50 most significant SF movies.

Some minor quibbles....(naturally)


  • No The Day The Earth Caught Fire.

  • Terminator 2 instead of Terminator?!

  • 28 Days Later (which I do love) instead of any other zombie film seems a bit presumptuous


October 16, 2005

Science Fiction Videos

Thanks to the video iPod, videos are now today's coolest thing (or was that yesterday's?) So I decided to go in search of Science Fiction videos. Not much joy I'm afraid.

I searched for all combinations of SF and found...

delicious has two videos tagged in scifi but does have an rss feed for every search which is nice.

Google has loads of stuff but too much fluff. Presumably it's including every video that mentions the words (lots of news shows).

Yahoo has more or less the same as Google.

And finally iTunes Music Store has nothing (but lots of audiobooks), however it does have Thriller, for you er... horror fans. I've been trying to think of SF themed rock videos, surely there must be some, but can't think of any.


UPDATE

Eoghann suggested checking out the Internet Archive, which I completely forgot about. A search for Science Fiction returns 36 things, many of which are homemade films like ONE : A Space Odyssey (a one minute Lego version of 2001). A search for Sci-Fi returns 65 items, including old Buster Crabbe episodes of Flash Gordon! Awesome.

October 14, 2005

Peter Mayhew becomes US citizen...

...and also is well on the way to becoming a real Wookie.

That, is hair.

Reading suggestions

John@SFSignal has written about the website What Should I Read Next which uses the tried and trusted "other people liked this so you might" method of suggesting new things to read.

I tried it with Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. The results were interesting, Vernor Vinger being the only SF writer on the list. Trying a similar search on StoryCode produced a completely different set of results and more to my liking. StoryCode use a more complex coding algorithm than just what other people bought, and for me at least it seems more accurate. I also checked Amazon to see what it said. Amazon UK suggests the entire Gibson back catalogue and one Bruce Sterling book! Whilst Amazon US suggests similar but with a dash of Neal Stephenson and Richard Morgan. Ho ho.

The problem with these services is that it depends entirely on the amount of data they have. More statistics should equal a better recommendation. In which case Amazon should be the most accurate, which it probably is, but it is also clearly the least varied.


October 13, 2005

TV Shows on iTunes

Well, who'd have thought it? Now you can download (admittedly only 4) TV shows via iTunes. It seems that the pressure of xvid ripped file sharing distributed shows has had an effect. Of course you can only download them in the US at the moment, and the UK price for videos (like the Pixar shorts) is £1.89. Astonishing. Why do we get ripped off so much in the UK? The US price is $1.99 so therefore we should pay £1.14. (The same goes for the music BTW, we pay $1.38 per song). It seems a bit steep for one episode of a TV show. Maybe the prices will come down?

But the real question is how long it takes before Battlestar Galactica is available for download? Or maybe more likely how long before the forward thinking BBC allow Doctor Who to be downloaded in the US? Come on SF shows, put your money where your storylines are.

October 12, 2005

Serenity number one at UK Box Office

Good news for Mr. Wheedon, Serenity has ended Pride and Prejudice's four-week reign at the top of the UK film chart, taking almost a million punds in its first weekend. I have no idea whether a million quid is good or not, but the number one spot must be.

October 11, 2005

The Blookers

Following on smartly in the Bookers publicity wake comes The Blookers (via the BBC), an award for books that started off as blogs. The chair of the jury is Cory Doctorow, who once again gets a picture on the BBC website and a link to his website....that's how you sell books these days! Of course the awards themselves appear to be part of the grand marketing scheme of Lulu, the publish on demand er... publisher. So presumably the winner will be a book published by Lulu?! (BTW Lulu's SF&F section now has 1140 books. Blimey.)

Doctor Who up for more awards

Doctor Who has been nominated for three awards at the National TV Awards. Didn't we just have these awards? They all blur into one meaningless blob. Anyway the show is up for the most popular drama prize, while stars Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper have been nominated for best actor and actress.

October 10, 2005

Highlander Anime

Cinematical has news of the Highlander Amine film, including a teaser trailer. It looks, well, like anime. I have a love hate relationship with Highlander. I love the first film and hated the second one so much I haven't seen any of the other films or the TV series. In my mind there is only one Highlander.

Condensed SF novels

Via SciFi.uk.com here's a list of condensed SF novels, some of which are funny, some of which are rubbish.

The Prestige, the movie

It sounds like a movie version of Christopher Priest's wonderful novel The Prestige has been given the go ahead. Best of all super brilliant director Christopher Nolan is set to direct it. Estimated release date is 2007. Hopefully they can capture the magic (and magicians) of the book.

October 7, 2005

First 9 minutes of Serenity online

Wow, this is cool., you can stream the first nine minutes of Serenity into your Java or ActiveX enabled browser (ie. all of them except Lynx).

Gary Westfahl's Serenity review

Ok, so now I can read some of those Serenity reviews.

Starting with Gary Westfahl's review from Locus Online.

Gary is a professional reviewer. You can tell. (I've read lots of his other reviews too BTW so I'm not basing this on just one review). His review of Serenity is thoughtful and entertaining to read.

Details of Revenge of the Sith DVD

Star Wars: Episode III | Inside the DVD: Revenge of the Sith

Details of what's on the 2 disc DVD set. Still not sure if I'll get it, surely the six boz set is out next year?

Serenity - A spoiler free review

I saw Serenity last night. Finally.

More interesting for the neutral observer, I went with two friends who had never seen a single Firefly episode.

The cinema was full. The audience was somewhat geeky. The scene was set...

Continue reading Serenity - A spoiler free review.

October 5, 2005

Supernova

It's science and it's fiction. But it's probably not Science Fiction. However it does have an astronomer in it...

Supernova is a new comedy from Aunty Beeb...

Supernova is a six-part comedy series about love, life and the Universe, set in one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world.

It takes viewers crashing through black holes, cosmic stardust and primal gases as its characters brave heat, flies, noxious toads and crazy locals to unravel the mysteries of the universe.

And it ponders the greatest question of all: will Paul get the girl?

Starring the excellent Rob Brydon. No mention of an air date, just that it's part of the BBC2 Autumn season.

Lack of Serenity publicity in UK

I'm slightly surprised at the complete lack of publicity for Serenity in the UK. I've seen the trailer on TV a few times but that's about it. No tv mentions. No radio mentions No billboard posters. Not even posters on double decker buses (and yet some of them still have The Island posters!).

Maybe it's because Serenity is being overshadowed by the mighty Wallace and Gromit? (The premiere was last week and I think there are previews this week).

Dunno.

The Brief History Of The Dead has arrived

My free, uncorrected proof copy of The Brief History Of The Dead arrived yesterday. Nice cover, all Cloud Atlas style. It sounds quite intriguing, a bit slipstreamy. Also it's refreshingly thin (yes I'm still reading Jonathan Strange). What amazed me was they had hand written the address label. Crazy. Do they realise what happens when you offer free stuff on the web?!

I may read it next or one after next.

Note to self I must install Media Manager to keep track of this stuff on the site.

October 4, 2005

Download WHO sounds to your phone

Follow the instructions here to get Doctor Who sounds and pictures on your phone.

Of course if you have a Bluetooth and MP3 capable phone like me then you probably already have a chorus of daleks shouting "EXTERMINATE!" every time you get a text message. (I also have the Imperial march as my ring tone).

Some free books

Via Online SciFi UK Review here's a site with lot's of out-of-copyright (or similar) books Authorama. In other words, free ones.

It's the usual suspects of Frankenstein and War of the Worlds, so you probably have them anyway.


Serenity ticket booked

Just booked my ticket for Serenity. Thursday night 1900 BST. Hurrah.

A very long Joss Wheedon interview

You may have guessed, but I've given up trying to find anything other than Serenity to write about this week.

And continuing in that vein, here's a
9,500-word transcript of a 67-minute interview with Joss Wheedon.

Serenity at #2 in US Box Office

According to Sci Fi Wire Serenity made $10 million in it's first weekend and was at number two.

Sounds like a lot of $$$ to me, but not to Hollywood methinks.

October 3, 2005

Gwyneth Jones doesn't like The Time Travellers Wife

It sounds like Gwyneth Jones doesn' like The Time Travellers Wife!

From Bold As Love "Definitely won't be voting for The Time Traveller's Wife, one of those "really cool blokes can't be housetrained" novels."

Personally I enjoyed it.

Her blog is still wonderfully poetic.

Serenity in the UK this week

Ok, ok. I know that many of you in the US (and probably elsewhere?) have already seen Serenity, but I haven't,so shut up.

However if you are in the UK there are showings on Thursday. That's this Thursday. Not tomorrow, nor the day after, but the day after that.

Go and see it and take everyone you know.