February 2006 Archives
February 28, 2006
Seeing as it's Pancake Day I thought I'd look for Pancake related Science Fiction.
I've found that David Lee Pancake has won two Chesley Awards (1994, 1995) and that the Fortean Bureau has an artlce about Breece D'J Pancake called Please Kill Me: I Like Pancakes, So Might You. There's an article on restaurant.org about robotic cooks "The one-armed yellow robot carefully dispenses pancake batter onto a grid" and Science Fiction Weekly has an interview with the Rock about the film Doom where he says, "Everyone likes pancakes. That's what Doom is. Pancakes."
For the record I had an ice cream, chocolate button and golden syrup pancake.
February 27, 2006
Bizzarre, apparently the Doctor and Rose will visit the Queen Vic in the new series. Errr. Although this comes from The Sun so could all be made up tabloid stylee.
(For those who don't know, the Queen Vic is the pub in the long running BBC soap Eastenders).
Why does all the publicity for Ultraviolet focus on the stunts and fights? Sounds like a bad omen. No one is talking about the story (or any great acting for that matter).
Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link is her first collection of stories and is available for free (under a Creative Commons license) download at Jelly Ink Press.
The stories included are:
- Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
- Water Off a Black Dog's Back
- The Specialist's Hat
- Flying Lessons
- Travels with the Snow Queen
- Vanishing Act
- Survivor's Ball, or, The Donner Party
- Shoe and Marriage
- Most of My Friends Are Two-Thirds Water
- Louise's Ghost
- The Girl Detective
I'm not going to review each story individually, but instead give my overall impressions of the collection. Well first up I really enjoyed it, and that is of course the most important thing. The stories are all delightfully unpredictable. Many of them have a real creepy sense of "something bad is going to happen", it's a great form of suspense. The natural word that comes to mind is offbeat, but really that's doing the stories a disservice. I think my favourite was probably The Girl Detective, but that may change on another day depending how I am feeling.
The wonderful Magic For Beginners is still my favourite Kelly Link story that I have read, but this collection is definitely worthwhile, and for free what reason do you have not to read them? I definitely want to get hold of the full Magic For Beginners collection now (see, giving away free stuff does create sales!).
Here's the novels...
Air - Geoff Ryman (St. Martin's Press, Sep04)
Camouflage - Joe Haldeman (Analog, Mar-May 04, also Ace book Aug 2004)
Going Postal - Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins, Oct04)
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, Sep04)
Polaris - Jack McDevitt (Ace, Nov04)
Orphans of Chaos - John C. Wright (Tor, Nov05)
SFX reviews The Voyage of the Sable Keech by Neal Asher and gives it 3.5/5
The Voyage of the Sable Keech is a followup (not sequel) to The Skinner, set on the nasty nasty world of Spatterjay (not a nice place to visit!).
Corrected the typo in the title which read "Keeck". Thanks to Neal for being my spellchecker!
February 26, 2006
The fabled Cylon point of view episode. Cylons, lots of Cylons. Oh yes.
Searching for stories in the previous post something struck me. I'd pay a few pence to buy some of those stories. I checked on Amazon Shorts to see if they were there, but no, it only seems to publish new stories. Presumably there are publishing copyright issues? But if Apple can overcome the reluctance of record companies with iTunes then why can't Amazon do the same with publishers? Imagine the back catalogue short stories of Asimov, Heinlein etc etc online and for sale for $0.49 per story. Would they sell a lot? I think so.
I read Stephen Baxter's SF module for the BBC site Get Writing, Writing Science Fiction, ages ago. But revisiting it today I rediscovered his top ten SF short stories as below....
- James Blish - Surface Tension (1952)
- Arthur C Clarke - The Nine Billion Names of God (1953)
- Isaac Asimov - Eyes Do More Than See (1965)
- Robert Heinlein - All You Zombies (1959)
- Philip K Dick - War Veteran (1954)
- Ray Bradbury - Frost and Fire (1946)
- Robert Sheckley - Ask a Foolish Question (1953)
- Ian R MacLeod - Snodgrass (1992)
- Eric Brown - The Time-Lapsed Man (1988)
- Philip Latham - Xi Effect (1950)
Unfortunately only one of them has an official publication online. A few of the others have been typed in by people but I won't link to them because I have no idea if they are accurate.
February 24, 2006
Moviehole.net has news that Lost star Jorge Garcia (aka Hurley) is going to play Aint it Cool Newsâ€™ Harry Knowles in the film Fanboys.
Fanboys is that film where a group drive their dying friend to Skywalker ranch to see The Phantom Menace.
Surely this is going to end up in an infinite loop?
Outpost Gallifrey reports that the US SciFi channel has a series of "Who is..." teasers, the first one debuted last night.
So you can now get your first (legal) glimpes of the new Doctor Who. Rejoice!
"Doctor Who has a completely different feel to this kind of thing. This is set in the same place every week. It's a different sort of fun to Doctor Who," said Davies.
"It's an urban series, very much set on Earth," he added.
I'm really excited about Torchwood, Mr. Davies let loose on adult SF has gotta be good.
February 23, 2006
Via Cinematical, news of a film called Next, which is a film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's The Golden Man. I hadn't heard of this (or read the story), but Nicholas Cage as "a man who can not only see into the future, but is also allowed and empowered to change the events that he sees." sounds pretty cool to me!
"The Golden Man" aka "The God Who Runs" was a 1954 story by PKD, that's a year before his first novel Solar Lottery. Have a look at the amount of stories he wrote in 53 and 54!
When announcing a new cast member (it's that bloke from Strictly Come Dancing), Russell T Davies says...
"This two-parter is just about as tense and scary as Doctor Who can get, so we needed a stellar cast to grip the audience."
Get your sofa's ready to ide behind!
THis could be interesting, ABC has given a green light to the SF anthology TV series Masters of Science Fiction, which aims to adapt fiction by authors such as Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison. Groovy.
What I'd like next is the series with the "new" masters of SF, or "would-be" masters of SF eg. Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson etc...
February 21, 2006
"Mickey has a lot more to do this year, besides being the new companion. Mickey gets sexy in this series!"
So if you ever felt sorry for him do not fret!
Unfortunately the Tor versions of Neal's books don't have the great Steve Rawlings artwork.
If you haven't read any Neal Asher you really should, it's high octane SF that is sometimes weird, sometimes gory (I still wince thinking of some of the bits from The Skinner) and always fresh.
About has a nice interview with Lucy Lawless about her role in the third season of Battlestar Galactica. (Free of any but teenyweeny spoilers (like she's in the show at all etc)))
February 20, 2006
The third commander of Pegasus since they arrived gets into trouble.
Boing Boing has details of Rudy Rucker's "Master of Space and Time" movie. Directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and staring Jack Black.
I haven't read much Rudy Rucker, just one short story, but it was pretty crazy, so this sounds good.
February 19, 2006
Finally, my friend and sometime source of movie news Dave has a blog. It's called C-SAM: Cool Stuff and Movies and it's about, er... Cool Stuff and Movies.
February 18, 2006
Get it here. (Thanks to DaveT).
It's looking pretty cool, I love the scramble suits. Hopefully they can maintain the emotional charge and crazy disorientation of the book, and not let it descend into a Hollywood action film.
February 17, 2006
Matrix is a great magazine, as are its siblings Vector (critical articles and reviews) and Focus (writers magazine) and together make the BSFA subscription totally worthwhile. The latest issue of Vector included a discussion of the Mundane manifesto, including an argument against by Ian McDonald and other articles on previous SF movements and discussions of whether manifestos are a good idea. Great stuff.
Cheryl at Emerald City has created a new blog on her site called Industry Announcements and allowed authors, editors etc to post themselves. Interesting idea if it can gain traction. Otherwise it's just another blog in the (increasingly large at 192 feeds) subscribe list.
Online at Infinite Matrix, Appeals Court by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross.
Another story to add to the ToRead pile....
Hyperdrive finished its first season on Wednesday and I was expecting that to be that. I didn't find it particularily funny, there were too many characters, the execution of the jokes weren't that good it seemed a bit of a one joke show and well, it just didn't make me laugh. However someone thinks differently because it has just been given as second series. !
I do love the BBC, they're giving it a chance. Because they can.
February 16, 2006
February 15, 2006
February 14, 2006
Whilst going back to read the latest issue of Ansible I discovered that Dave Langford has a rather large page of links which may be of interest.
February 13, 2006
So here's what I think about the current SF television shows...
Invasion : I stopped watching it because it was boring. Nothing was happening and everything that did happen was predictable.
Smallville : Watching it on and off if I have nothing better to do. Entertaining distraction.
Hyperdrive : Unfortunately not funny. If you want new funny then see the brilliant non SF show The IT Crowd.
Johnny and the Bomb : Only three episodes, but brilliant kids tv. Funny, intelligent time travel shennanigans.
Life on Mars : Turned into a 70's cop show as expected, with the TV occaisonally talking to the hero. Because he's in a coma.
Surface : I'm enjoying Surface a lot. Very Spielberg, entertaining plot and characters I care about.
Battlestar Galatcica : Still good, but not blowing me away at the moment. Somehow I just feel that it could be better. Are they saving stuff for season three?
Lost : Bonkers and brilliant. Even episodes with no plot advancement are great because they reveal interesting stuff about the characters. Great writing, great acting, great stories. My favourite TV at the moment.
February 12, 2006
A hostage situation occurs on Cloud 9.
(And the fast forward plot summary is still annoying me lots.)
Get out your Lightcycles! Tron is back in comic form. Up there with Wargames as a film that made computing seem glamorous when I was young (how wrong were they?!). I love Tron.
February 11, 2006
Before I start, what's with the return of the fast forward plot summary in the title sequence? I thought that Ron Moore had agreed to get rid of it. It means I have to close my eyes through the fast music.
Anyway, this episode the Viper squads encounter an extra mean cylon raider.
February 10, 2006
In Season 2.0, Battlestar Galactica continues to be the best show on television and the best SF TV show ever. For the gods' sake, don't buy the Season 2.0 DVD box set!
And in the UK the DVD's will be twice as expensive.
On TV this morning I saw a snippet interview with Andy Serkis (at some awards ceremony) and he was talking about The Prestige. The presenters were really excited about seeing dualing magicians (they're going to be disappointed) and also seeing Ziggy Stardust, King Kong, Wolverine and Batman all in one film.
Let's hope that Christopher Nolan does an awesome job (I'm sure he will) and that lots of people buy Christopher Priest's books (YES! DO IT!).
February 8, 2006
Sounds lke Cory Doctorow as much as me. I can't stop thinking about that story, it was so great. I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who has read it too and we were both struggling for words. The best we came up with were variations on...
"It's really great."
"Really, really great"
[Big pause] "Yeah, really good".
My local (very small) library continues to suprise me with new graphic novels. As I've mentioned here before, I grew up reading 2000AD, and the US comics seemed expensive, hard to get hold of and a little weird (there were strange adverts for sea-monkeys). So, I'm enjoying catching up on a few characters that I never really read.
Firstly Ultimate Fantastic Four, is another reboot in the style of the Spiderman one, taking the core story and updating the details a bit. My only real exposure previously to the FF4 has been that really bad cartoon, which put me off completely from seeing the recent film. I was pleasantly suprised by both volume one and volume two (I think that takes it up to about issue 12 of the comic). Good story, good characters and nice artwork. I liked finding out about Doom as well, never reallly got him. I recommend both volumes.
Next up DC:The New Frontier. I never really been into DC comics at all, so I have even less knowledge of their mythos. However I really loved The New Frontier (which comes in two volumes). Most of volume one is setting the scene, building up the characters of the heroes. Then in volume two the action kicks in explosively. I really loved how the story focuses on the heroes that aren't Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Real people, being heroic, failing, hiding, fighting the government. It all seems very relevant to now, although the message is much open to interpretation. It reminded me a bit of Watchmen, which is no bad thing.
All in all an enjoyable few hours of comic reading!
Smallville 5.05 entitled Thirst had me chuckling all the way through it. Were the writers just trying to cram as many in-jokes into it as possible?
I like James Marsters in Smallville, he adds a bit of something not so sickly sweet yeehaa idealised american teenager. (Because let's face it do we really feel sorry for Clark when he has love-life problems? No, he's Superman).
February 6, 2006
The last two weeks I haven't watched Invasion, and to be honest I haven't missed it. Solar Flare is reporting that it has been seemingly cancelled in the US. Glad I stopped watching it then, I hate it when you need and end and there isn't one and it goes all Dark Skies on you.
I read Dilbert everyday. Some of it is spot on. And now it's mentioned Battlestar Galactica!
February 4, 2006
Thanks to Eoghann @ Solar Flare for pointing out that my comments were being closed on my front page. I've been trying to use MTCloseComments, but it's obviously misbehaving. I've taken the tag out of my index template. so from now on everything should be open again. Oh and I've turned trackbacks back on.
February 2, 2006
Anyone can vote in the 2006 Locus Poll and Survey ballot.
Yet another awards thing that just makes me realise how little I've read recently. It's all getting a bit depressing!
February 1, 2006
I absolutely loved it. It's about a boy and his friends and his family and the weird TV programme that they all love. It has all the same great qualities as The Faery Handbag: it made me happy, sad, it made me think, it made we wish crazily for a moment that I was a teenager again. The style pulled me in and I just didn't want to stop reading. I hated the end, because it ended. I wanted it to carry on forever.
Again, not SF and sort-of Fantasy, I really can't recommend Magic For Beginners enough. Read it.
January 2006 was the first month that I exceeded my 1GB bandwidth allowance since BDO started up (and by 25% as well!). This was mainly due to being first on a google search for a certain TV show combined with a certain UK TV station. (I'm not going to spell it out, I don't want more traffic). Over a couple of days I got few thousand hits and getting on for 200Mb. Still I surprised at how much bandwidth is being used.
So consequently I've taken some bandwidth cutting measures. Firstly search of the site is now done by Google, which lets face it is better than the MT search anyway. Secondly my image is now coming via Flickr, which doesn't seem to be too slow. Thirdly my short stint with Media Manager on the sidebar was terminated in favour of All Consuming's new funky sidebar which can show things filtered on tags, the only downside is that it doesn't seem to show images for some things at the moment. As usual, my rss/atom feed is coming via Feedburner.
I really still need to make my css smaller, perhaps there's some website out there that can compress it to unreadable levels? And maybe take a look at the amount of html in the pages. And maybe even reduce the number of entries on the front page.
So overall, I think the changes are for the better or in worse case make no difference.
Apollo is assigned to investigate the rise of the Black Market within the fleet.
Via DaveT, Empire has details about a new film that's just about to start shooting. Staring Kristen Bell, Jay Baruchel, Chris Marquette and Sam Huntington, called Fanboys, and produced by Kevin Spacey's Trigger Street company for Miramax.
It's about four Star Wars geeks driving their dying friend across country to honour his last wish: watching Star Wars: Episode One at Skywalker Ranch before it is released.