November 2005 Archives
November 30, 2005
For everyone in teh USA who couldn't be bothered to bittorrent the new Doctor Who series, rejoice. It's available on DVD from 14th Feb 2006, costing $99.98 (which seems incredibly expensive for 13 shows).
As I suspected, the Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Christmas Invasion is going to be shown at the mega-primetime slot of 7pm. Nice. Predicted ratings? 7 gazillion.
November 29, 2005
Blimey guvnor, strike a light. The TARDIS is on the front cover of the Christmas Radio Times.
That probably means nothing to anyone outside of the UK, so let me explain. The RadioTimes is a TV and Radio listings publication. At one time it was the only listing magazine in the UK and it has been going since 1923, it also used to be the largest circulation magazine in the UK.
The Christmas edition of the RadioTimes is a legendary thing, covering the two weeks from before Christmas until the New Year. When I was a kids we used to get it and I would pore over the schedules looking for cool things to watch over the Christmas Holidays (that was in the days before VHS and DVD (a large number of youngsters now go huh?!)).
So to see Doctor Who advertised on the front cover is very cool, and a real sign of how big a hit the new series of Doctor Who has been.
November 28, 2005
This is a bit of a journey. First of all, via Cinematical, there's news of a new film called Ultraviolet. This got me excited because I remember the very good Channel 4 tv series Ultraviolet, which in production values kind of reminds me of Spooks. The TV series was a vampire film, where the vampires were mutated humans or something. What was great about it was that it was all taken very seriously and executed very stylishly. Hence my excitement at a film prospect.
This is where the journey goes, wrong the new film stars Milla Jovovich and a still from it shows someone with two sub machine guns that have big sword blades as handles. Oh dear. The film is only related by name them. Shame. This was an ideal opportunity to do a serious vampire movie.
You can get Ultraviolet the TV series on DVD from Amazon. Hmmm tempting.
SFX also say that they have been to the Doctor Who set and seen the Cybermen in action, but aren't allowed to say anything yet. And they have a good interview with Russell T Davies online where he says...
"we realised that we've probably got about ten of next year's episodes nailed down already"
November 26, 2005
November 25, 2005
Arthur C Clarke has been awarded Sri Lanka's highest honour, Sri Lankabhimanya.
He's getting the honour "in recognition of his outstanding contribution to major pioneering breakthroughs in global communications and space technology and in appreciation of his abiding love of this [Sri Lanka] paradise island".
Only one other person has ever been given the honour and that was posthumously.
I headed into The Brief History Of The Dead (US/UK) completely cold, not knowing anything about it. It is due for publication in February 2006, but I managed to get a proof copy from the publishers website. Free books! That's what I like. The cover is gorgeous (dreamy swirls and embedded silver twirly bits) but decidedly non-genre, reminiscent of Cloud Atlas in fact, so I was unsure as to what to expect.
The first chapter of this book was published in the New Yorker and has since been optioned for a film. And it is indeed an intriguing first chapter, throwing us straight into The City Of The Dead. The book rests on the premise that once we die we live in a city between earth and heaven, for as long as someone alive remembers us.
November 24, 2005
The BBC have releases a Doctor Who Christmas press pack, which includes the plot setup to the Christmas Special, plus a (quite long) interview with David Tennant and an interview with Billie Piper.
DT says "The Christmas episode does have some scary moments. Sinister Santas, a spinning killer Christmas tree and of course the Sycorax."
November 23, 2005
Not too sure about this book. Can't imagine Vader ever saying "Make yourself comfortable". I think I'll pass and imagine myself how Vader hunted down the remaining jedi.
The Alien Online has a great interview with Jon Courtenay Grimwood, who talks about his new book 9Tail Fox.
I decided I wanted the next book, 9Tail Fox, to have a beginning, a middle and an end, in that order. I also wanted to limit the locations and keep the time line tight, kind of like writing a novel without overdosing on the mental CGI.
It's very interesting, George reiterating how he thinks the industry is heading, and also backing up Rick McCallum's views that the movies industry makes very little or no money of the cinema releases.
THR: So it's [cinema releases] basically a loss leader for DVD, television, etc.? Lucas: Yup, all of the ancillary markets. For studios, the fact is that the theatrical film market is less than 10% of their business -- it's very, very small. I mean, you could chop that off in a second, and it wouldn't even bother them -- they're just doing it as a promotional thing.
THR: Do you think the industry will survive that way?
Lucas: I don't think the theatrical exhibition business will go away because I think people will always want to go to the movies, just as they go to the opera, they go to the ballet, and they go to football games.
Via Unofficial Battlestar Galactica Blog:, Sky have finally confirmed their Battlestar Galactica season two air date. It starts on Tuesday, January 10th at 9pm.
It'll be interesting to see if Sky will now air any of Battlestar Galactica on Sky 3, their free digital terrestrial tv channel. They've just shown 24, so maybe there is hope for those without Sky One.
Via Outpost Gallifrey, the BBC have released their Christmas 2005 TV highlights press release. It includes a detailed description of the episodes setup (so don't read it if you don't want to see spoilers!). Doctor Who is the first show mentioned in the release, so the BBC obviously see it as their big hitter. (Who would have thought it, a SF show the BBC's top Christmas offering?)
Also worth noting is that BBC3 is down to show Doctor Who. Whether this is just a repeat of the special or last series repeated (again) is not mentioned.
CBBC, the BBC Children's channel is running a Doctor Who competition. The main prize is the first season DVD Box Set, a sonic screwdriver with psychic paper and a TARDIS mobile phone flasher. Cool.
One,CBBC is a digital only channel and you have to enter the competition through it's interactive service (aka "the red button").
Two ,presumably you have to be a child?! So either masquerade as a small person or persuade your closest child relative to enter for you.
The interactive service will also be showing some clips from the DVD, including some of the special features. That's pretty cool, the "special features" section of the TV channel promoting special features of the DVD. So much content and so many distribution channels....
November 22, 2005
Jon Courtenay Grimwoods latest book, 9 Tail Fox is reviewd by SFX, getting 4.5 stars (out of 5). Just the mention of a fox in a JCG book gets me excited because in Pashazade the best bit for me was the crazy in-head fox. (If that makes no sense then read it!)
Another one to add to the wishlist.
Feeling intelligent? Want an answer to the question "Can the antidote to today's neoliberal triumphalism be found in the pages of far-out science fiction?" The read Back to utopia in The Boston Globe, an analysis of err... stuff. I'll finish reading it when I've woken up a bit more.
November 21, 2005
Sci Fi Wire says that David Bowie is in talks to play inventor Nikola Tesla in The Prestige.
David Bowie, Michael Caine, Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan directing. I'm so pleased that Christopher Priest's fabulous book The Prestige is getting treated seriously.
November 19, 2005
Accelerando is a collection of nine stories, first published in Asimov's and "fixed up" into a novel, many of the stories have been award nominees on their own. I had previously read, and enjoyed, the super dense high-tech post-cyberpunk first chapter "Lobsters" so I was eagerly awaiting the novel.
The Doctor Who Children in Need Special was aired last night and is online now. It was much, much better than I expected...
November 18, 2005
Why oh why oh why. The Prisoner is going to be remade. Why? The first half of The Prisoner episode are absoloutely brilliant, clever, bizzare, funny and quirky. The second half of the episodes descends into utter rubbish, concluding with the worst ending to a show ever. But stil, why remake it?
This sounds crazy, Big Brother meets the Truman show, Space Cadets, where nine people will think they have been sent up into space but will in fact have been in a disused military base all the time. Even their training which they were told was in Russia was at the base too. And everything is filmed.
In case you miss it or don't get BBC 1, the Doctor Who Children in Need Special is available here after 9.30pm (GMT) tonight. Don't expect too much however as the site describes it as both a "scene" and a "clip" ie. not very long.
November 17, 2005
Battlestar Galactica must be gathering the dollars in for the SciFi channel, unlike SciFiction, because it'sgetting a third season. The question now is how long can Ronald Moore keep the series feeling fresh and unrepetitive? After all how long can a ragtag fleet search for Earth and run away from cylons without the whole thing becoming one long bout of dejavu?
In fact Allard is ambitiously going for the Metaverse,
"The Xbox 360's project code-name was Xenon, and an expansive 147-page Allard-authored primer called the "Book of Xenon," based heavily on the virtual world notions set out in Snow Crash, spells out the guidelines of that project."
I'm somewhat sceptical that a games console will get there anytime soon, consoles have too muc of that arcade heritage in their attitude. However MMOG's such as Second Life seem to be heading in the right(/) direction.
November 16, 2005
u.tv reports that an original poster for Fritz Lan's amazing film Metropolis sold for Â£397,762. Blimey, lot of money for a poster.
The Cult has a great interview with Neil Gaiman, which includes some interesting insights into his writing habits...
"If I'm on a novel, I'll normally write in a notebook and stay in the notebook because there's nothing, and nobody, in the notebook to distract me. Nobody's trying to pop up an urgent message. I'm not going to suddenly decide to check the origin of a particular word, and Google it-and look up four hours later in the middle of some eBay auction."
"Award, administered by the Dept. of Commerce and given annually by the president, is the country's highest honor for innovation."
Sounds like an award given to big companies who make loads of money! Other winners include Motorola. Hmm, the department of commerce. Doesn't quite match being given an award in The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (yeah that's the real name).
November 15, 2005
Here is the press release announcing AOL and Warner Brothers venture into on demand television, on the web, that everyone is talking about.
Initially it sounds good, but I'm wary of anything that AOL are involved with. For example
These series will be offered in a new DVD quality video format called "AOL Hi-Q."
Hmm. Why not just use XVID or MP4? Suspicious. DRM ahoy? It also comes with adverts to pay for it.
Out of the list of shows however there are some I'd like to see:
Babylon 5 (because my VHS copies are a bit old now)
La Femme Nikita
The New Adventures of Batman
So some interesting shows, we'll have to watch how the reality pans out I guess.
Jonathan@Notes From Coode Street has compiled his top 18 stories that Ellen Datlow has published online between 1995 and 2005. There's big names in there, Terry Bisson, Elizabeth Hand, Kelly Link, Ian R. MacLeod, Lucius Shepard, Dan Simmons, Walter Jon Williams etc. Wow.
The next step is for someone to provide links to them al! (Lazy web I nvoke thee!)
Paul Goat Allen has inteviewed John Meaney for Barnes & Noble.com. Nice interview, he comes across as both intelligent and witty.
November 14, 2005
The tabloids are trying to conjure a story of nothing (as usual). The Daily Mirror has a story stating that Billi Piper may not do a third series of Doctor Who. The BBC shrugs in response. Once again the tabloids seem to either not understand or not care about the turnover of companions (and Doctors) in Doctor Who. It's all part of the show. And weren't there all these stories about the coming series too?
Personally I wouldn't be surprised if Billie decided to do something else after (what sounds like) a couple of long series shoots. I saw her in last weeks excellent Much Ado About Nothing adaptation and she was pretty good, so I guess she'll have plenty of offers.
Quite insane, but very interesting (for me anyway!) some guy has watched all six Star Wars movies simultaneously and reports in his findings. What is interesting is how Lucas's use of the (rigid?) structure of the films introduces all sorts of coincidences. eg.
- The first appearance of Palpatine in TPM and AOTC is ON THE SAME FRAME. And at the same time in ROTJ, Vader is telling Moff Jerjerrod that the Emperor is coming.
- Luke destroys the Death Star and Vader kills Palpatine at just about the same time
November 13, 2005
SciFiction, the highly successful fiction portion of SciFi.com is to cease publishing fiction at the end of 2005. Ellen Datlow has published a statement. SciFiction has won 10 major awards, including three Hugo Awards, four Nebula Awards and a World Fantasy Award.
A real shame that it's closing.
The site also says...
"As SCIFI.COM gears up to expand with exciting new ventures utilizing the newest technology..."
If it involves texting stuff to mobile phones I'll scream.
However Ellen responds to some comments on her Nightshade forum and says
"There really are no special reasons other than the obvious. It didn't bring in money. No nefarious reasons."
November 11, 2005
SFX magazine, probably the biggest selling SF magazine in the UK, now has some online content. Dig past the obligatory news feed (because you get that all here, ho ho), and you'll find book, film and TV reviews, competitions, a forum etc.
UK viewers BEWARE of the TV reviews, they're SPOILER filled eg. Reviews of the latest Lost US episodes (we're still way behind in the UK).
The book reviews always used to be pretty good, often with reviews from John clute, don't know if he still writes for them though.
Filed under "so far in the future it may not happen", Brett Matthews has sold a SF script entitled Mainline to Warner Brothers. Matthews wrote an episode of Firefly (Heart Of Gold) and co-wrote the Serenity and Angel comics, oh and also the Chronicles of Riddick anime.
Sounds interesting, no details yet (fairly obviously).
Somehow never as scary as the Daleks, but still a Doctor Who icon, the Cybermen are back in the new series of Doctor Who, looking a little bit chunkier and cool.
November 10, 2005
Two bits of Doctor Who news from Outpost Gallifrey...
Firstly the Doctor Who Children in Need special is on a 9.06pm and lasts 3.5 minutes. As with all these charity shows it's bound to be a disappointment.
Secondly ITV has developed a Â£6 million science fiction series to rival Doctor Who. It's called Primaeval and will follow a team of scientists who travel into prehistoric times and other worlds through black holes. In other words it's Sliders, except probably not as good. Still, even if it's rubbish, an arms race escalation of SF shows in the UK, just like there is in the US at the moment, must be a good thing.
RM: If our film cost $125 million we wouldnÃ¯Â¿Â½t break even!
Empire: So it's all about DVD now?
RM: ItÃ¯Â¿Â½s the only thing that is even keeping the film business walking.
Empire : What about an equivalent of iTunes for movies?
RM : Yeah, thereÃ¯Â¿Â½s no question that is the direction. [snip]. The illegally downloaded prints, the copy that I saw of the downloaded version from the very first day, is a better quality image than you could see in 99.9% of all the theatres in the world. ThatÃ¯Â¿Â½s tragic, but thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s the reality.
Empire : So whatÃ¯Â¿Â½s the solution?
RM : ItÃ¯Â¿Â½ll be a solution of digital projection in theatres, DVD release for home and video on demand for those who canÃ¯Â¿Â½t afford the DVD.
Funnily enough I was only discussing spiderman villains on Tuesday and here you go... Joe@Forbidden Planet has the news that the villain for the next film is Sandman.
Hmmm. Somehow a man turning into sand doesn't strike me with fear. What happens when you spray water on him?
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is at number one.
I've read 14 of the 20 books on the list. Not bad, my sort of list. Like Jack at the Guardian I'm surprised that SnowCrash didn't come higher, it's one of my favourite novels, and hey it has avatars and samurai hacking and neurolinguistics and wikipedia+googleearth and the first two chapters are awesome.
Also there's a comment about the lack of votes for John Brunner. I've read Stand On Zanzibar which is amazing and available as part of the Gollancz SF Masterworks series. I haven't read The Shockwave Rider which seems tricky to get hold of in the UK (at least according to Amazon who are charging Â£10 for a paperback!).
November 9, 2005
Eoghann at Solar Flare has posted a Sapphire And Steel Episode Guide. Now there's a superb forgotten (?) tv series.
I was quite young when I saw it and remember being terrified! There was a light coming down some stairs in one episode that was really scary. Not sure why, but I remember it!
The Algebraist is at number one (on my to-read pile) and Accelerando is number two (currently reading it), which seems reasonable. Can't really comment on the rest of the list as I haven't read them.
I quite fancy reading some Richard Morgan books, Woken Furies is at number ten on the list, the blurb "cyberpunk noir SF" sounds enticing to me! And of course I'll read Anansi Boys at some point too.
November 8, 2005
Where Steve Jobs leads, other will follow...
Sci Fi Wire is reporting (via The Hollywood Reporter) that NBC Universal is set to launch video on demand via DirecTV. CBS and Comcast (who?) have announced similar deals, however the intersting part of the NBC deal for us lot is that it includes Battlestar Galactica and Surface. (NBC Universal own SciFi Channel).
Sketchy details so far, 99 cents per episode (nicely undercutting iTunes), and what do you bet some nasty DRM? And how about opening it up to the rest of the world? Presumably if it's via DirecTV it will be some sort of cable download thing?
Here's a suggestion, forget selling the show abroad, just open it up on your website store for us all to download! Go on! (Pretty unlikely I guess as I imagine non-US stations can get into bidding wars for good shows and up the price significantly.)
November 7, 2005
"This site has news that I can get anywhere else. It's not really personal. Has the site design changed? I feel bad dumping this one but..."
Well let me respond. even though you'll never read this.
Yes the site design changed, mainly because I upgraded to Movable Type 3.2 and just tweaked the standard templates (I'd severely hacked the old ones and it made the upgrade a bit painful).
I have news that you can "get anywhere else". Probably. But let's face it, the only unique news comes from press releases or gossip. And the gossip is mainly from Variety (rebroadcast by SciFi.com) and occaisionally the tabloids. Sorry, I don't have the time to stalk UK SF personalities for interviews (although if anyone wants to be interviewed I will.)
It's not personal. Hmmm. Well I like to think that I at least give my opinions, but no I don't reveal personal details. Is that what you meant? Perhaps I should start making stuff up?!
...today I was in London and bumped into David Tennant, he was very polite but then preceeded to tell me how Billie Piper smelt so nice that he couldn't concentrate on acting...
To celebrate a 400 year old act of terrorism / struggle for freedom (delete depending on point of view) why not read some Guy Fawkes Science Fiction?
How about V For Vendetta?
"The story of Guy Fawkes was a major inspiration for Alan Moore's post-nuclear dystopian science fiction graphic novel of a fascist Britain, V for Vendetta."
Ansible 220, November 2005 is online and collecting all the gossip and news as usual.
November 4, 2005
The Disembodied Brain ewviews Star Wars: Battlefront II. Sounds cool. Unfortunately I don't have the time to play games these days. Maybe the next console generation?
Someone in Microsoft has been reading lots of Science Fiction recently, the code name for an operating system research project thay have is Singularity
November 3, 2005
Here's what you get if you search for "Science Fiction" on Google Print.
Unfortunately it's mostly covers only. Haven't yet discovered a book that I can search through fully.
The Doctor Who Christmas special , The Christmas Invasion will be shown on Christmass Day. The BBC has not confirmed a time yet, but what's the betting that it's the mega prime time Christmas Day 6pm slot?
I'm not sure if authors know very much about films that are made from their books, but hopefully the wonderful Christopher Nolan will keep the wonderful Christopher Priest informed. Here's CP's web page about the movie, which hangs off his website for those who need to know more.
If your only exposure to CP is via the impending film then you really owe it to yourself to read some of his books. If I had to pick three I'd say The Prestige, The Affirmation and The Separation.
Maybe this is how Sky works? Apparently they haven't yet scheduled when they are going to be showing season two of Battlestar Galactica ie. the first showing of season two in the UK. The original rumour was that it would start in January. Is this in doubt now?
StarWars.com has put online the webdoc Becoming Sidious for the majority of us who don't like to pay for web content. It's a good little doc, Ian McDiarmid is a great actor and very interesting.
Also online, a trailer for Empire at War (the videogame), and a selection of mildly amusing The Apprentice trailers, with Donald Trump giving Darth Vader a hard time for letting Luke blow up the first Death Star.
November 2, 2005
My nomination is Otherworld. Now before I carry on I must inform you that I only saw this series once, when I was a lot younger, so it might not stand up to scrutiny now, but I remember it so it must have done something right.
Here's some reasons why it was cool:
(1) It all starts in a Pyramid (of course!)
(2) They had bad guys called Zone Troopers
(3) Each episode involved travelling in a different Zone which had different rules, laws and customs.
(4) It only lasted 8 episodes. Live fast, die young like all good TV SF.
The BBC Doctor Who site has a selection of fancy dress pictures from Halloween. The scariest being, of course , a small boy in a gas mask.
"Are you my mummy?"
November 1, 2005
Also via Ain't It Cool News an in-depth review (the first of many no doubt) of The Revenge Of The Sith DVD.
Ain't It Cool News has two reviews of A Scanner Darkly. Both of which are mainly postive, despite it being an unpolished pre-screening edit. The most positive quote for me is...
"The audience is not pandered to in any way. Complicated story ideas are rendered faithfully, directly, and without obvious techniques to clarify Dick's convoluted story."
That's what I like to hear.
[Thanks to Dave for the link]
According to the Homing Beascon newsletter....
"The Star Wars home entertainment day you've been waiting for has arrived!"
Hmmm. Never knew that there was such thing as a home entertainment day, Dear Lucasfilm please learn proper English.
Anyway, I'm tempted but resisting. Maybe I'll rent it to watch the extras.