January 2006 Archives

January 30, 2006

Locus's recommended reading list 2005

Stack up the books and turn off the tv. Here's Locus's recommended reading list for stuff that came out in 2005.

Plenty for me to read.
I think I might work my way down the short stories and read everything that is online.

Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist

Better late than never, here's the shortlist for the 20th Arthur C. Clarke Award (2006):

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber)
Learning The World – Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
Pushing Ice – Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
Air – Geoff Ryman (Gollancz)
Accelerando – Charles Stross (Orbit)
Banner Of Souls – Liz Williams (Tor)

If you count Geoff Ryman as British (he was born in Canada but been living in the UK for most of his life) then this is the first all-British shortlist in the history of the Award.

This award tends to throw up some different books from the BSFA award, including more mainstream novels (or marketed as mainstream anyway), and this year it's Never Let Me Go.

As usual I've only read one of the books! (Accelerando). I must read Air though, that's going to the top of my list.

January 27, 2006

Torchwood wikipedia entry

I was looking for new Torchwood news (of which there is none) and came across the Torchwood Wikipedia entry, which, as you would expect from Wikipedia, has quite a bit of info.

Planet Of The Apes TV Show repeats on ITV4

From SFX..

"ITV4 will be showing all 14 episodes of the 1974 series [Planet Of The Apes], starting with the first episode at 6.00pm on Sunday 19 February."

Cool, I've never seen the TV series.

January 26, 2006

Doctor Who wins another award

Doctor Who has won another award, 2006 Broadcast Award for Best Drama Series or Serial.

Cool, the more awards the better. Do more awards equal a bigger budget I wonder?

January 24, 2006

Hugh Jackman's The Prestige costume

Via Dave T, Just Jared has picks of Hugh Jackman in his Victorian Magician's outfit. Nice.

The 10 best Sci-Fi films that never existed

Via SFSignal, this made me laugh, The Top Ten Sci-Fi Films That Never Existed.

  1. The Matrix Prequel
  2. ONE Matrix Sequel
  3. Snow Crash
  4. Starcraft
  5. A Doom that isn't a huge turd
  6. Star Wars Episode VII
  7. Star Wars Episode VIII
  8. Star Wars Episode IX
  9. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  10. The Real Alien 3


ooooooohhhh the thought of a brilliantly executed Snow Crash film. Now that would be awesome.

The Baroque Cycle manuscript

January 23, 2006

An Essay By William Gibson

On Infinite Matrix, Time Machine Cuba by William Gibson.

"I learned of science fiction and history in a single season."

Battlestar Galactica 213 - Epiphanies

President Roslin is dying, triggering a whole sequence of events. SPOLIERS AHEAD
Continue reading Battlestar Galactica 213 - Epiphanies.

2005 Locus Cover Art Gallery

Via SFSignal the Locus Online 2005 Cover Art Gallery is pretty awesome, all of the covers of books and magazines that they have received.

Perhaps it's my cultural bias but I generally think that the UK versions of covers tend to be better that the US ones.

2005 BSFA Awards Shortlist

From the BSFA site

Novel

* 9Tail Fox -- Jon Courtenay Grimwood (Gollancz)
* Accelerando -- Charles Stross (Orbit) (Free ebook edition)
* Air -- Geoff Ryman (Gollancz)
* Learning the World -- Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
* Living Next Door to the God of Love -- Justina Robson (Macmillan)


Short fiction

* 'Bears Discover Smut' -- Michael Bishop (SciFiction, 26 October)
* 'Bird Songs at Eventide' -- Nina Allan (Interzone #199)
* 'Guadalupe and Hieronymus Bosch' -- Rudy Rucker (Interzone #200)
* 'I, Robot' -- Cory Doctorow (Infinite Matrix, 15 February)
* 'Imagine' -- Edward Morries (Interzone #200)
* 'Magic for Beginners' -- Kelly Link (Magic For Beginners; also F&SF, September)
* 'Soft Apocalypse' -- Will McIntosh (Interzone #200)
* 'Two Dreams on Trains' -- Elizabeth Bear (Strange Horizons, 3 January)

Now I'm a BSFA member I get to vote, cool! The downside, I've only read one of the novels and two of the shorts. The shorts I can try and fix by trying to read the ones available online. But there's no way I'm going to be able to read four novels, especially the ones in hardback. That's always the problem with these awards.

Spam a lot

I've been getting a lot of spam recently, mainly trackback spam, and all of it caught by MT's junk filter. However I'm turning off trackbacks for a while to try and halt the flow. Use Technorati if you want to see who's linking here. I'm also auto closing comments on everything that isn't on the main page.

It annoys me that I have to do this, but I hope you understand.

January 19, 2006

The Faery Handbag by Kelly Link

The Faery Handbag by Kelly Link is a Nebula nominee and I read it last night.

I loved it. Although I'm finding it very hard to articulate why (I'm so rubbish at reviews!). It's a fantasy story, first person, that tells the tale of a handbag. Hmmm, not doing it justice here.

Just start reading it. The language is wonderful, with a great sense of character (which can sometimes be tricky in first person). The narrator tells the story as a stream of consciousness, going off into interlocking tales. It builds to a wonderful image of her life. It made me smile lots, at times it's funny, in a soft way, but there's also sad bits.

Once I finished it left a lingering glow in my head and I couldn't stop thinking about it. Lovely.

Nebula nominee stories online

Via Emerald City, loads of the Nebula nominee stories are online thanks to their original publication magazines. So far Asimov's, Analog and F&SF have links for their stories. Plenty to read!

SF Bed Books?

Via raelity bytes, Bed Books! For those too lazy to hold your book sideways...

The patent pending sideways text layout of Bed Books affords total comfort and eliminates the back and neck strain associated with the contorted body positions normally required for reading conventional books while lying down, and usually propped up, in bed.

You'll be happy to know that there are a couple of SF books that are Bed Books: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court , Frankenstein and War Of The Worlds. Which all sound supiciously to me like books which are out of copyright and so you could probably just download them from somewhere and print them sideways to get the same effect.

Doctor Who, Attack of the Graske online

Via Outpost Gallifrey, Attack of the Graske, which was previously available on BBC interactive digital tv, is now online. But only for those in the UK, or those that can find a UK proxy presumably?

The Cylon POV episode is alive and well

this sounds very cool, Ron Moore (who has actually started posting to his blog again), says...

I've seen some speculation out there that we dropped the Cylon POV episode from the lineup this season, but I'm happy to report that it's untrue. The episode, "Downloaded" will be broadcast as number 18...

Cooooool.


January 18, 2006

Ron Moore starts writing Battlestar Galactica season three scripts this week

From Ron's blog


We've got the first four stories approved by the network, we're working on the next two, and this week I'm supposed to start writing the first script (yikes).

His teaser of the season two finale makes it sound quite awesome, although I have no idea what it could be!

January 17, 2006

Torchwood delayed

Outpost Gallifrey reports that the filming of Torchwood, the Doctor Who spinoff has been delayed until the summer. Not sure when they had intended to schedule its actual airing.

Sunshine, a Sci-Fi movie by Danny Boyle

Armageddon, my mate and bloke with an ear to the film grapevine (er... okay avid reader of Empire and Ain't It Cool), says...

“Sunshine” - a Sci-Fi movie by Danny Boyle is beginning production according to Empireonline . The movie depicts a spacecraft charged with “rebooting” a faulty Sun by sending a Nuke into it. I love Danny Boyle movies and this sounds like a bigger Sci-Fi canvas than 28 Days Later. The movie stars Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins - Scarecrow) and Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger and a host of other roles requiring a beautiful, middle aged women who can open cans of whupass). More details can be found here at IMDB

It should also be noted that Alex Garland is a writer on the film, his second collaboration with Danny Boyle (the first being 28 Days Later). I find it fascinating that Alex Garland has transitioned from young hotshot bestselling author to writing screenplays, you don't see that very often.

I seem to remember hearing about this film a while ago but don't seem to have blogged it. I hope that they can do something fresh with what seems like a terribly clichéd SF hook.

(Most clichéd SF film? Maybe Armaggeddon?).

Surface, episode two and looking good

Although the second episode of Surface was not as good as the first I still liked it a lot. Big sea monsters, it's what we've been missing! Great ending too. Far, far better than Invasion.

BBC Radio show about Philip K Dick

Via BoingBoing , BBC Radio 4 aired a show about Philip K Dick entitled Confessions of a Crap Artist and it's online for a week (like all BBC radio shows).

January 16, 2006

Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman

I loved this book.

If you're in a hurry then you need read no further, just go and buy Anansi Boys now and read it.

Okay, the difficult bit. Why did I like it? Well it's funny. It's touching. It's a great story that starts in one place spawns a few plot threads and then ties everything back up neatly (just like a Spider's web). It was not the slightest bit predictable. And it was a joy to read, the pleasure of reading the words got me confused, because I wanted to savour it and slow down, but I wanted to read it lots as well.

The story is Fantasy, not Science Fiction, but it's the kind of Fantasy that I like. It's contemporary Fantasy or non-epic fantasy or maybe Neil Gaiman fantasy. Yet like all the best novels it's rooted in today, with characters you can empathise with, characters that you can love or hate.

The edition that I have also has bonus features in the back, including a deleted scene and a few photocopied pages of Neil's notebook (which is fascinating).

All in all, wonderful.

Andy Serkis in The Prestige?

The all star cast and crew of The Prestige seems to be growing again. The latest actor rumoured to be in the film is Andy Serkis, best know for playing Gollum and King Kong. [Thanks to Dave T]

Invasion 103 - Watershed

Still not great.

In fact huge bits of it made me cringe, especially the blogging bit, which explains everything that's happening in case you had a bad memory or were stupid. That's what makes Lost so good, it doesn't talk down to its viewers. Invasion is too obvious, too cliched and has no interesting characters.

I had no anticipation for this episode but watched it to give it a chance. Compare that to Surface tonight, which I'm really looking forward to .

Hyperdrive, first thoughts

Hyperdrive is a new comedy on BBC2, set on a spacesip that was once a combat vessel, but is now tasked with striking business deals to get alien companies to relocate to the Peterbrough enterprise zone.

So, a space comedy on BBC2, that's a high standard to live up to. But let's remember that Red Dwarf didn't get good until season three.

Anyway, Hyperdrive was chuckle worthy, in that it made me chuckle a lot but not guffaw out loud. It's noticeable that this is a post-Office comedy, in that the style was quite sparse in parts, with some large uncomfortable silences. Nick Frost was superb as the ship commander, if you saw him in Shaun Of The Dead, you'll know what to expect. Also some funny SF jokes, particularily the women in the weird invisible cage thing that drives the ship, and spilling a drink on the navigation console (and then doing a reboot and resetting the parameters!).

The CGI was okay too, no more models ala Red Dwarf, instead all lens flare and sweeping vistas.

It will probably get better, and luckily BBC2 tends to give its shows the benefit of the doubt (all hail the license fee!).

January 15, 2006

Battlestar Galactica 212 - Resurrection Ship Part 2

Continuing immediately from the climactic cliff hanger of Resurrection Ship (part 1)

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Continue reading Battlestar Galactica 212 - Resurrection Ship Part 2.

January 13, 2006

New Sci-Fi series Nine Lives by Spielberg

Steven Spileberg is creating a 12 hour miniseries Nine Lives for the Sci Fi channel.

Nine Lives will focus on characters who are each grieving over the loss of a loved one and somehow discover how to reunite with them in the afterlife through near-death experiences

New Cory Doctorow short online

Cory Doctorow's short short PrintCrime is online and a great little piece.

SciFi Channel to show Doctor Who in the US

The SciFi Channel finally admits that it got it wrong when it first passed on the new Doctor Who. It has now signed a deal to show the first series (with Christopher Eccleton as the Doctor) and it also has an option on the second series.

Sci FI Channel's Thomas P Vitale said Mr Vitale said: "With its rich history of imaginative storytelling, Doctor Who is a true sci-fi classic. We're excited to add the show to our line up."

Although last year they said no because it was too British. Oh well, at least they're not stubborn. Everyone in the US cheer!

January 12, 2006

Lost , Season One finale in the UK

Last night Channel 4 showed the last two episodes in Lost season one.

It's been a high profile thing, everyone talking about it (friends, tv, radio, online).

The good news for UK viewers is that season two us starting in "spring". Presumably it will be right after the season finished on ABC? After the second show they showed a teaser for season two just to drive everyone crazy, it was super fast cut clips, a blur of "ooooooooh". Everyone wants season two right now.

January 11, 2006

Justina's reaction to the PKD nominations

Surface, first thoughts

Surface is showing on ITV2 on Monday nights and is part of the new year's bumper SF-tastic tv.

Well, that's more like it. The first episode starts briskly with multiple plots and grabbed my attention immediately. the whole show reminded me immensley of a Steven Spielberg film, particularily the feel of Close Encounters and the child plot handling of ET.

I thought the sea monsters were handled expertly, just a glimpse, but not enough that you could form a coherent image. There was nice tension throughout but also some comedy, I loved the kid putting the egg in his fish tank. Also the characters were immediately engaging, the exposition handled with craft and taking you right into the story. And locations! Plenty of them, all across the US and into the arctic. Nice, adds a bit of variety.

By the end of the show it had settled down to about three plots and I can't wait for the next episode. I'm pleasantly surprised.

Trying to get dynamic publishing working - ignore

Testing 1 2 3

UPDATE

Ooops. That broke everything. Time to stop messing and put it back to how it was.

January 10, 2006

The answers to Lost

For anyone waiting for answers to Lost, you might be disappointed. from Zap2it series co-creator Damon Lindelof says...

"If you're watching the show because you're waiting for the big answers to come, you have to understand that by the nature of what it is -- it's not a movie, it's not a series of movies, it's not a trilogy, it's not a miniseries -- it's going to be on the air for as long as ABC wants to keep it on the air."

"How can you ever possibly think that 'Lost' will end in a satisfying way? Carlton [executive producer Carlton Cuse] and I can almost guarantee you that it will not."


Life on Mars, first thoughts

I watched the first episode of Life On Mars last night. I liked it. Not Science Fiction though. It started of as a normal cop drama then the main character gets hit by a car and goesinto a coma. Then he wakes in 1973 as a cop, cue lots of dry laughs about how 1973 cops were very different from today. What kept the episode above a mundane cop show however was the main characters constant questioning of whether what he was seeing was real. He heard voices from outside, the TV talked to him. He thinks he is in a coma. And then at the end of the show he denies it and accepts the 70's reality.

Interesting. Not sure how they will extend the idea to a series without it becoming repetitive but I'm going to watch next week.

2005 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees

Via SF Signal, the Nominees for the 2005 Philip K. Dick Award, have been announced.

I'm going to go all tribal for a minute and cheer on the British nominees, Neal Asher (for Cowl) and Justina Robson (for Silver Screen and Natural History). Go Neal and Justina (cue cheerleaders).

January 9, 2006

Invasion, first thoughts

I watched the pilot and first episode of Invasion last night on Channel 4.

Hmmm.

Not exactly blown away. Firstly the show doesn't expect its viewers to have a good memory, how many times did they spell out what EBE meant?! Secondly the start was slow, all that hurricane build up. Thirdly, none of the characters really grabbed me. And finally and most importantly, what's the hook to keep me watching? Surely it's entirely obvious what is happening and who the bad guys are, so all I care about now is how they are going to beat the aliens. And yet I have the feeling that I'll be left to suffer a dreary, "guess what's happening" build up. Maybe, I'll give it a few more episodes.

A few years ago and this might have passed as viewable watching, but compared to BSG or Lost and it doesn't really live up to my expectations of modern TV SF.

Surface on ITV2

I missed a new show. Surface is being shown on ITV2, starting tonight at 9pm tonight.

That's Life on Mars, Smallville and Surface all on at the same time. Oh for a pvr.

January 8, 2006

2005 Preliminary Nebula Ballot

The 2005 SFWA(R) Preliminary Nebula Awards(R) Ballot list is online.

As usual I've read disappointingly few of them.

I think the Fantasy/SF debate may rage again on this one, surely Susanna Clarke and Kelly Link have a good chance?

January 7, 2006

Battlestar Galactica 211 - Resurrection Ship Part 1

Back to Battlestar Galactica with a bang and an awesome episode.

Spoilers ahead!

Continue reading Battlestar Galactica 211 - Resurrection Ship Part 1.

January 6, 2006

Katee Sackhoff interview review

Just listened to the Katee Sackhoff interview on the subject2discussion podcast. It was quite good, worth ten minutes of your time.

January's Ansible online

Tis the season for new SF on TV

New SF coming to a TV near you (in order of anticipation).

  1. Battlestar Galactica - Sky 1, 21:00 Tue 10th Jan, or Scifi, 10/9c Fri 6th Jan
  2. Lost - Channel 4, 22:00 Wed 11th Jan or ABC, 8/7c Wed 11th Jan
  3. Doctor Who - months away :-(
  4. Johnny and the Bomb - BBC1, Sun 15 Jan, time?
  5. Invasion, Channel 4, 20:30 and 22:00 Sun 8th Jan
  6. Life on Mars, BBC1, 21:00 Mon 9th Jan
  7. Hyperdrive - BBC2, 22:00 Wed 11th Jan
  8. Smallville - E4, 21:00 Mon 9th Jan,
  9. Stargate SG-1 - Scifi, 8/7c Fri 6th Jan
  10. Stargate Atlantis - Scifi, 9/8c Fri 6th Jan

Blimey!

Some notes...

Continue reading Tis the season for new SF on TV.

The Return of Battlestar Galactica

As if you need reminding, Battlestar Galactica is on SciFi tonight at 9c which is err..umm o'clock GMT. Time to get your American relatives to fire up their VCR's and get the UPS super shipping man on standby. Just looked at a single picture preview on SciFi.Com and I'm excited!

January 5, 2006

Derek Acorah to guest in Doctor Who

Errr...this is a bit mad, cult psychic star Derek Acorah is to appear in the new series of Doctor Who!

"The Doctor finds that spirits and ghosts have invaded the whole of the galaxy, so he gets me along to see what we can do about it"

Most Haunted Who!

Sci-Fi Brain's top 10 hottest women in SF

They're still not bored with their lists at Sci-Fi Brain, following on from the top 10 hottest men in SF, here's their Top 10 Hottest Women in Sci-Fi...

  1. Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded, Revolutions - Persephone)
  2. Claudia Christian (Babylon 5 – Susan Ivanova)
  3. Claudia Black (Farscape – Aeryn Sun)
  4. Katherine Heigl (Roswell - Isabel)
  5. Morena Baccarin (Firefly – Inara)
  6. Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica – Six)
  7. Musetta Vander (Various)
  8. Gina Torres (Firefly – Zoe)
  9. Natalie Portman (Star Wars prequels – Padme)
  10. Annette O’Toole (Smallville – Martha Kent)

What?! I'm sorry, but if you were in the Matrix sequels you are not allowed to come top of any best-of lists, no matter what you look like or have done.

January 4, 2006

Hyperdrive starting soon

Thanks to Dave T. who reminded me about a new comedy entitled Hyperdrive which starts on the 11th January on BBC 2. The trailers have been showning on the BBC. It sounds intriguing, from the press release...

...set in 2151 and the crew of HMS Camden Lock are on a mission. Their mission is not to explore new worlds or seek out new life but to protect Britain's interests in a changing galaxy by encouraging aliens to relocate their businesses to Peterborough and take holidays in The Lake District!

Ha ha. It stars Nick Frost (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead) and Kevin Eldon (Nighty Night, Big Train) both highly underated comedic actors. There's a preview clip online.

The last Runcible Ansible

The last Runcible Ansible : "Two hundred and one instalments of The Runcible Ansible! Not a round number at all, but nevertheless this is the end."

Another fine SF web site closes. What's happening? It's the apocalypse of the SF web!

Excerpt from Jon Courtenay Grimwood's Felaheen

Locus Online has an excerpt from Jon Courtenay Grimwood's Felaheen online. If you haven't read his Arabesk series I highly recommend it, streetwise "detective plot" SF in the Middle East. Very cool.

TV trailers currently on hyper repeat

Three SF trailers are currently on hyper repeat on UK television.

Firstly Johnny And The Bomb (press releases) which is being shown on CBBC, the BBC's Chidren's channel. This is a TV adaptation of Terry Pratchett's time-slip book (which I haven't read), has some decent actors in it and looks really good.

Secondly Life On Mars, another time travelling show to be aired on BBC1, although it seems that the time travel is a once only plot device to set up what may be standard drama (or repeats of Austin Powers gags). Although the SF seems minimal it should be worth a watch as it's made by the makers of Spooks and Hustle and stars the excellent John Simm. They have a preview of the episode online.

And finally Channel 4 have their Invasion trailers running non-stop as well. No doubt they hope it will be another Lost for them. They better have learnt their lesson and reduced the number of advert breaks though.

January 3, 2006

Katee Sackhoff interviews

Via battlestarblog, here's news of lots of Katee Sackhoff interviews! There's a podcast too, so subscribe (like me) and listen to Starbuck.

Jay Lake's writing stats

Okay, Jay Lakes Year-End Stats make my measley number of rejections look insignificant: 144 submissions, 101 rejections, 25 stories sold, in one year!

Update:
Jay makes a note of his acceptance ratio here, 1:5-1/2 and says "When people look at my wide bibliography, it's not because I'm *that* good, well-connected or lucky. It's because, as you said, I never stop working the chain"

and finishes up with some good advice...

"There's only two successes you can directly control: successfully finishing a story and successfully mailing it. Sale, publication, critical acceptance, award nominations -- that's all in someone else's control, and you can fail all over the god damned place with those all your life. But you can write, and you can mail."

January 2, 2006

The Christmas Invasion - a longer review

I watched the repeat of Doctor Who, The Christmas Invasion last night and enjoyed it again. Here's some more extended thoughts...

Continue reading The Christmas Invasion - a longer review.

January 1, 2006

Cory Doctorow becomes a full-time writer

Congratulations to Cory Doctorow who has decided to become a full-time writer. He says "effective today, I'm a full-time, freelance word-maker", and it sounds like he has a lot of stuff in the works.