November 2006 Archives
November 30, 2006
Subtract the superhero and video game adaptations, and what's left? The Fountain, Universal Studios' upcoming Children of Men and independents like The Science of Sleep and A Scanner Darkly -- films that some purists wouldn't call sci-fi at all.
Ermmm. Why? One's a PKD story!
I'd swap hundreds of rubbish SF by numbers films for two intelligent films like A Scanner Darkly and Children Of Men any day.
Niall over at Torque Control has some interesting posts on The Martians And Us documentary.
JJA has a piece on Charles Stross on SciFi, where Mr. Stross calls his new novel Halting State Mundane...
"My understanding of 'mundane SF' is that it eschews the impossible and unknowable in an attempt to focus on the possible and the relevant,"
I'm personally a bit bored of these manifestos, but there you go, it's just a label. Halting State is a 2nd person POV book, which should attract some attention, but the plot sounds cool as well...
"It's basically about the future of online role-playing games; MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or less structured, less game-oriented systems such as Second Life are the first truly successful, commercial, viable virtual reality systems of the multi-user type."
November 29, 2006
The Independent says...
Winston Churchill was a closet science fiction fan who borrowed the lines for one of his most famous speeches from HG Wells.
So why was he closet SF fan?
November 28, 2006
Another night of SF from BBC 4 last night....
Tom Baker Doctor Who, another episode of Day Of The Triffids, the final episode of The Martians And Us and and adaptation of a John Wyndham story called Random Quest.
The Doctor Who episode had Sarah Jane in it, looking very young. Otherwise lots of white scenery and green aliens.
Day Of The Triffids continues to be excellently creepy, and quite faithful to the book.
The Martians And Us was about British apocalyptic SF, covering M. P. Shiel up to Christopher Priest, via John Wyndham, John Christopher and JG Ballard. A selection of talking heads offered their opinions, including Doris Lessing, Brian Stableford, Kim Newman, John Christopher (aka Sam Youd), Christopher Priest and Brian Aldiss. Brian Aldiss was very funny, slagging off Day Of The Triffids ("They go to the Isle Of Wight!"), he invented the term cosy catastrophe. He then went on to say how brilliant The Death Of Grass was, and also made some witty remark about how some people don't read SF stories because they have long words like "Oxygen" in them.
I came away with a list of books to read:
- The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel
- The Death Of Grass by John Christopher
- The Drowned World by JG Ballard (which I've been meaning to read for ages).
- Fugue To A Darkening Island by Christopher Priest
All in all an excellent series of three documentaries, although I'd have liked them to go up to modern day instead of stop in the 70's.
Random Quest was an hour long adaptation of a John Wyndham story, which I haven't read so I can't comment on its accuracy. It was however entertaining, about a particle physicist who gets blasted into an alternative universe when his collider explodes(!). He falls in love with his wife in the other universe, where he is a SF writer, then gets sent back to his first universe where he tries to find the divergent point of the universes and track down his wife. I liked it.
David Louis Edelman has an interesting post How I Promoted My Book. covering all the things he did and what he thought was successful. It proves that you don't need lots of money to generate a buzz.
November 27, 2006
An unearthed skeleton and a good looking woman. Hmmm.
Something strange is happening on the moors. People are going missing (getting any American Werewolf flashbacks yet?)
This is basically an okay executed, unoriginal horror story.
The nice bit was that we actually started to see some character development, with jealousy and love.
Unfortunately the plot was just too unoriginal. Also the overall premise of Torchwood seems to get more unbelievable every week.
I'm waiting for some good SF stories.
November 23, 2006
Maybe I'll watch Heroes after all, the BBC have just bought it to show on BBC 2, BBC Two puts its faith in Heroes.
This is interesting. It's been ages since the BBC bought a big US import, they've mainly gone to Channel 4, Five or (spit) Sky. Perhaps a change of heart? (Or they got it cheap because Sky spent all their money on Lost?) No dates mentioned, just "next year".
November 22, 2006
Just been to the BSFA meeting, and listened to Jo fletcher being interviewed. (BTW writing this on the bus home using the bus' free wifi. Hurrah for free wifi.)
Jo is basically in charge of the SF and Fantasy list at Gollancz. She's an editor, but her title is something flashier, which I gather means "she's a really good editor and we trust her to do what she wants". She was also responsible for creating the awesome SF Masterworks series.
A heartening point to take away is that she was very upbeat about the future of SF books, despite SF book sales falling in the UK in the last few years. Her optimism was due to:
- Europe opening up as a big market to sell into. This is allowing them to give writers okay advances.
- A reprint of the top 10 selling SF Masterworks with mainstreamy cool covers has sold very well this year.
- They're working on getting Tesco etc to sell SF books, and believes that may happen soon (maybe due to The Prestige).
Also, I never realised that Gollancz decided to concentrate on UK authors, which is cool. Apparently the logistics of publishing Us authors is a bit of a nightmare.
All very interesting.
The BBC Press Office, doesn't offer much except the nice picture above.
On BBC One Doctor Who re-materialises for a one-off special episode in which The Doctor (David Tennant) finds himself with a new companion Donna (Catherine Tate) - but she's late for her weddingÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
November 21, 2006
I remember being terrified by Day Of The Triffids when I was young, and upon watching it again, I'm not surprised. It's genuinely creepy. The music score is sort of avant garde orchestral jazz, sweeping out of nowhere. It should be cheesey but somehow it works. The production is sparse, adding to the deserted feel, lots of silence between the music and speaking and a desolate looking London. Great stuff.
The Martians And Us was about utopias this week, with talking head pieces from Kim Newman, Brain Stableford, Ken MacLeod, Iain Banks and Margaret Attwood. Yes! Attwood on a documentary about SF. Shock! (Though she was quick to point out that The Hand Maid's Tale had nothing in it that humans hadn't done.) The majority of the episode focused on Orwell and Huxley and was fascinating.
The Quatermass Experiment was less successful, I found it a bit slow and full of exposition, a bit like the A For Andromeda remake.
Loads more still to come.
November 20, 2006
November 17, 2006
The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log mentions that the fifth volume of " Judge Dredd: the Complete Case Files" is out, and this one contains the massive Apocalypse War story arc, with starts with Block Mania and ends in nuclear war! It's hard to describe how brilliant Judge Dredd is.
I've never read the full arc, it was before I started getting the comic, so I'm tempted...
They are (in no order):
- Polity Agent, Neal Asher
- The latest continuation of the Vatta saga (name?), Elizabeth Moon
- The Mammoth Book of Best New Science Fiction Volume 19, edited by Gardner Dozois
- Galactic North by Alastair Reynolds
- The Man From the Diogenese Club by Kim Newman
- Crossover by Joel Shepherd
- Paragaea by Chris Roberson
- Nova Swing by M. John HarrisonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s
- Air by Geoff Ryman
Waterstone's is the biggest retail book seller in the UK. Wonder what the sales chart for this year was?
Here's the meme that everyone's doing...
This is the Science Fiction Book Club's list of the fifty most significant science fiction/fantasy novels published between 1953 and 2002. Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.
The summary, read 21, loved 9, hated 3.
1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson*
7. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester*
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman*
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams*
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson*
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick*
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson*
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner*
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester*
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer
November 15, 2006
The BBC 4 season Science Fiction Britannia has started.
So far I've watched an episode of Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee era, the first episode of The Martians And Us and the interview with Iain Banks.
The Martians And Us is an excellent documentary, chronicling the history of UK SF. It started at HG Wells, through Olaf Stapledon, the Quatermass TV shows, Arthur C Clarker and up to the film version of 2001 A Space Odessey. There were interview sections with a whole range of people, including Sir Arthur C Clarke, Stephen Baxter, Brian Alsiss, Brian Stapleford, Kim Newman and China Mievillle. Very interesting and well done.
The interview with Iain Banks was a serious hour long discussion with Mark Lawson (he does serious arts shows). And when I say an hour, it's the BBC, so no commercials and a real hour of talking. It was entertaining, with Banks talking at high velocity about politics, religion, writing SF, mainstream novels... Lots of stuff.
There's lots more to come in November, and I'm looking forward to it.
As usual for the BBC the supporting website is excellent, with clips, links and the full version of My Science Fiction Life online.
November 13, 2006
One word. Fairies.
More details and SPOILERS...
What is Contemplation?
A lightly programmed replacement for the cancelled 2007 Eastercon Convoy
Which sounds like a JIT/Guerilla/Agile convention, and quite fun.
November 10, 2006
November 9, 2006
Jeremy Bulloch, the man who played Boba Fett (before that Kiwi imposter stole the role) has a blog on StarWars.com.
November 8, 2006
"Hub is the UK's newest bi-monthly SF Genre magazine, focusing on new writing from the world's best established and emerging writers."
Looks interesting, Ã‚Â£3.50 for a single issue, which can be ordered from their website.
November 7, 2006
It's the Torchwood episode with a Cyberwoman, and the one where you hear a million SF fans groan, their hopes for a serious SF programme dashed.
"Martin didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t remember Sevet even though theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d lived together for a year. After sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d had an affair with a Spanish waiter heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d wiped any archived memories and left the rest on scratch to be recorded over with tomorrow's sunset."
This is my first published short fiction, go and check it out!
November 6, 2006
Most the stars turned out for the UK premiere of The Prestige, and Christopher Priest even gets a mention from the BBC.
November 2, 2006
What's great is that this site is part of the larger BBC Science Fiction season, Science Fiction Britannia.
- THE MARTIANS AND US, a three-part documentary exploring how UK writers pioneered and remained in the vanguard of
- A six-part series focusing on cult British science fiction series: Blake's 7, Adam Adamant, Doomwatch, Star Cops, The Survivors and Tripods.
- (Serious Mark Lawson) interviews with Iain Banks and Terry Pratchett
- RANDOM QUEST, a drama based on a John Wyndham story, in which a disenchanted physicist finds himself in a parallel world where he is a successful writer with a beautiful wife.
Lovely. BBC4 we love you.
November 1, 2006
"I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t consulted over the script, and didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t especially want to be. Look, I had the director and screenwriter of Memento, one of the most original slipstream movies of the last few years, developing my most complicated novel into a movie... I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel I could add much! Sometimes itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best to let people get on with what theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re good at."
Which is a great attitude (but helps when you know the result is going to be good!).
There are previews for The Prestige in the UK next week. before its release on 10th November.
Via Neal Asher.
Heffers Bookshop in Cambridge is holding a SF&F night featuring:
Mark Chadbourn, Chaz Brenchley, Stan Nicholls, James Barclay, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Neal Asher, Justina Robson, Jon George, Mike Carey, Steve Cockayne, Juliet E McKenna, Jessica Rydill, Amanda Hemingway, Paul Kearney, Mark Robson, Sam Enthoven, Ian Whates, Simon Satori Hendley, S F Said, Matthew Skelton, Eoin McNamee, Erin Hunter, Angie Sage, Philip Reeve and Peter F Hamilton.
Blimey. For Ã‚Â£2 (redeemable against a purchase made on the night and Under 15s free) that's rather good value. Check Neal's blog for details on how to get a ticket.
Convoy, the 2007 Eastercon has been cancelled because of trouble with the venue. details are scarce.
Eastercon is just about the biggest SF con in the UK, it's where the BSFA awards are announced each year.
Surely someone can find a large space to host a con in at short notice? What about a warehouse?! Back to basics, flash mob con style. Or not.
British screenwriter Nigel Kneale, best known for the Quatermass TV serials and films that began in the 1950s,
has died at the age of 84.
A true SF pioneer.
"The Quatermass Experiment in 1953 was the UK's first sci-fi serial and created its first TV hero, the alien-battling Bernard Quatermass."
More awards for Doctor Who, it won 3 awards at the National Television Awards last night:
most popular drama, most popular actress for Billie Piper and most popular actor for David Tennant.