December 2006 Archives

December 31, 2006

The Dumbies - Winners

And the winners are...

Continue reading The Dumbies - Winners.

December 30, 2006

Elisabeth Sladen interview

Elisabeth Sladen is interviewed about Sarah Jane Adventures on the BBC Norfolk site. [Via Outpost Gallifrey], the first episode of which is on Monday.

The Dumbies - Book Nominations

The most prestigious of the Dumbies, the book award.

The judges read some wonderful, wonderful books this year, including a selection of classics from the SF Masterworks list. However the nominated books stood out above the rest. They are a wide selection: from a historical adventure romp (The Confusion), a contemporary fantasy (Anansi Boys), an almost police thriller (9Tail Fox), a literary novel with SF elements (Cloud Atlas) and a state of the art SF novel (Counting Heads).

As usual the judges wish they had read more and found it frustrating that most the awards lists use hardback novels, which the judges only obtain at birthdays and Christmas. Consequently the judges reading lags behind the cutting edge due to waiting for paperbacks.

December 29, 2006

Short Story Writing Challenge Results

At the start of the year I set myself the challenge of writing one story a week. Here are the results:

Stories written : 54
Words written : about 132,000
Stories submitted to a short story market : 59
Sales : 1

Which I'm quite happy with. Most of the stories are still in first draft, only 10 have made it into submission so far. So what have I learnt?

  • I can write a first draft a week. That means I can not only put the writing hours in, but also come up with plots/ideas
  • Having a deadline makes me write
  • I find it easier to write longhand than on a computer. It's more portable and more relaxing, especially after a working day staring at a computer screen
  • I can't write and edit a story in one week, it would probably take two to get it really polished
  • I can start writing a story without the slightest clue where it is going, and only the slightest clue where I'm starting. Which is nice

So next year? I think I could sustain a two month writing, one month editing schedule. However first up I have 43 stories to get into submission. Hmmm.

Doctor Who in New York

The BBC are keeping Doctor Who in the news (well, on their own news site), with a leak about how the new series will include the Daleks in 1930's New York and also yet more gossip about David Tennant leaving the show, possibly in series 4.

Meanwhile the excellent Christmas special got 8 million and a bit viewers. (A review when I have a moment).

The Dumbies - Short Story Nominations

The judges didn't read many short stories this year and assure the public that this will change next year. However the stories that were read were fantastic.

One established writer, and one new one. Let's hope that we see more of both next year.

The Dumbies - Video Game Nominations

No video games are eligible for this year's Dumbies because the judges still have busy lives and no time to play games. They are still hoping however that a Nintendo Wii may change this next year (if Nintendo actually start making more of them).

December 28, 2006

The Dumbies - Comic Nominations

The local library once again provided the sole source of comic consumption for the judges, which this year included a rebooted classic and the origins of some famous heroes.

Ultimate Fantastic Four revisited the origins of the famous foursome, something which the judges had never really done before. Entertaining. Meanwhile The New Frontier went right back to the origins of superheroes and intelligently unravelled how everything came to be.

Notable exceptions this year are Judge Dredd :Origins, which the judges are immensly excited about, but waiting for the collected graphic novel (which could be some time).

December 27, 2006

The Dumbies - Film Nominations

This years film awards include the return of an old hero and a bleak vision of future Britain.

Superman Returns started out well, became a bit boring as it dragged on, but still took loads of money. Meanwhile Children Of Men was a thoroughly bleak, disturbing and not very enjoyable vision of a dystopian Britain. It was the sort of film that had critics rushing to denounce it as SF ("Future fantasy" anyone?), and the sort of film in which you realise its brilliance the more you think about it.

Once again the judges didn't get out to the cinema very often. Notable exclusions are V For Vendetta, X-Men: The Last Stand and The Prestige, which despite being the most anticipated film of the year, still hasn't been seen by the judges.

December 26, 2006

The Dumbies - TV Nominations

This year's Dumbies Television nomination list is more or less the same as last year, all established shows, with one repeat.

Doctor Who returned triumphantly for a second series after the reboot. David Tennant made The Doctor his own, Billie Piper was great and the BBC's massive hit continued, with merchandise galore. The kids can't get enough of it. Battlestar Galactica returned with an even more serious third series, and the critics still discounted it as Science Fiction or used cliches such as "redefining the genre". BBC4 showed the classic Day Of The Triffids series again, and everyone realised why they were so scared when they first saw it, very creepy. Finally Lost finished of it's second series with answers, for all ye doubters, and then changed everything with the start of the third series. Despite being snatched by Sky in the UK (boo hisss) it was still a big success.

December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I'd like to wish everyone who's ever read Big Dumb Object a very Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year! I hope all your (utopian) SF dreams come true.

December 22, 2006

The 2nd Annual Dumbies

Big Dumb Object is pleased to announced the second annual Big Dumb Object awards, known as The Dumbies.

The awards follow the same format as last year (thanks to cut and paste)...

Media are eligible for nomination if they have been seen or read by the judges panel in the year of 2006, no matter when they were released. Categories include Best Film, Best Book, Best Television Series, Best Comic and Best Videogame. There are no worst awards in The Dumbies, life is too short to consume bad media and the judges therefore try to avoid such matters.

The nominations will be announced over a few days (for no other reason than to string it out a bit and provide content when the judges are in fact eating and drinking). After the nominations have been announced the judges will be open for bribes for an unspecified period of time. Once they are satisfied that the best offers have arrived and have cogitated on the nominations, the judges will then make their decision and announce the awards in a grand ceremony that involves a single, but important, blog post.

Please feel free to speculate on the nominations until they are announced.

Nova Swing one of Time Out's books of the year

M John Harrison's Nova Swing makes Time Out's best of 2006, but they say...

"Harrison’s latest SF tome reads like mainstream fiction soaked in noir."

Hmmm. The full review however says...

"It’s SF for people who don’t read SF, as well as for those who do."

Which I guess is a compliment?

M John Harrison story online at Time Out

Time Out's short story by M John Harrison. It's online until 4th Jan apparently. Nice story, slightly creepy.

December 21, 2006

Build your own Death Star

You know you've always wanted to, now you can, an officially sanctioned Star Wars Death Star Designer. Nice.

The Sarah Jane Adventures webiste is live

The website for the second Doctor Who spinoff,The Sarah Jane Adventures, is live and full of Flash goodness to explore. Nice. The first episode is being shown on New Year's Day, BBC1, 4.50pm.

Transformers trailer online

The full Transformers trailer is online.

Oooh. Explosions. Planes. Trucks. Helicopters. Robots in disguise! Cooool.

However, I think this is going to be another of those films that is marketed at the kids, but has a 12A rating, meaning that most kids can't see it.

December 20, 2006

Legal Doctor Who episodes to download in the US

Yep, if you want legal bittorrent versions of Doctor Who you'll be able to get them soon via Zudeo, which is made by the company formed out of the people who made Azureus.

"a deal between the commercial arm of the organisation, BBC Worldwide, and technology firm Azureus."

"The new deal means that users of the software will be able to download high-quality versions of BBC programmes, including Red Dwarf, Doctor Who and the League of Gentleman."

I love the BBC, they're always at the forefront. Now when will the US channels start giving us all those legal downloads available on iTunes?

December 19, 2006

New Runaway Bride trailer

Oooh, just seen the new Doctor Who, The Runaway Bride trailer, now with monsters! It's also behind door number 19 on the advent calendar. And Newsround had some extended clips too, and an interview with David Tennant, Russell T Davies and Catherine Tate.

Cooool. I'm excited.

Day Of The Triffids, the TV series

Last night was the final episode of The Day Of The Triffids, (title sequence), which has been reshown as part of BBC4's Science Fiction Brittania season.

I really enjoyed the series. It was very faithful to the book, very creepy and hadn't really dated that much, mainly I think because of its focus on the human story, rather than any special effects. It's a shame that Torchwood hasn't come close to being this sort of Science Fiction.

Yet another pointless remake, The Prisoner

I'm not sure if this is the same rumour that was about a while ago, but someone is remaking The Prisoner.

Here's some advice. Don't bother. You'll never better it. The original is brilliant, frustrating, bonkers, stylish and quite possibly genius.

Selling your first novel

Tobias S. Buckell has conducted a fascinating survey, asking writers if the first novel they wrote was the first they sold, how many novels did you write before selling one?

Which is quite high, I'm suprised. Also worth reading the advice collected in that post.
"I received 150 responses from a variety of authors, most of them SF/F, but thanks to Diana Peterfreund and others, a large number of Romance writers.

Of these published novelists, 65% did not break in with their first novel. 35% did."

December 18, 2006

The Coode Street Awards

In the spirit of the end of year awards season, Jonathan Strahan announces his Coode Street Awards, with Best Novel going to The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross.

December 17, 2006

M John Harrison on how he writes

Via SFSignal, a great post by M John Harrison entitled How I Write

"I don’t have any writing pattern. I hate being professional. I don’t write according to a schedule or an output plan; I don’t begin at the beginning and write to the end."

Library Thing Unsuggester

Via Neil Gaiman, LibraryThing UnSuggester. You type in a book you like and it tells you what you shouldn't read.

I should not read:

  • Spiritual leadership by J. Oswald Sanders

  • The purpose driven church : growth without compromising your message & mission by Rick Warren

  • A million little pieces by James Frey

  • American psycho : a novel by Bret Easton Ellis

  • Don't waste your life by John Piper

...amongst others.

December 15, 2006

The Project Gutenberg Science Fiction Bookshelf

Via SFSignal, Project Gutenberg now has a Science Fiction Bookshelf, lots of free (but old) SF to get stuck into.

New Stargate series due 2008

Apparently a new series set the Stargate universe(s) is due and in production alhtough "No concept for the show has yet been revealed."

This is probably to replace the imminently ending SG1.
[Via Gate World]

December 14, 2006

Scalzi's updated top 51 personal blogs in science fiction and fantasy

John Scalzi has an updated version of his Top 51 Personal Blogs in SF/F, December 2006 Editon, using Technorati ranking. I don't think that takes into account subscriptions being read from a feed reader, so it doesn't really mean much. (I don't read anything that doesn't have a feed anymore).

Bruce Sterling's last column for Wired

Bruce Sterling's last column for Wired is online:

"The very word futurism is old-fashioned, way too 1960s. Today's Internet-savvy futurist is more likely to describe himself as a strategy consultant or venture capital researcher. That development doesn't surprise me. Frankly, I saw it coming."

December 13, 2006

The Internet Review Of Science Fiction latest issue online

The latest issue of The Internet Review of Science Fiction is online. Including a great article by Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold, Short Fiction, Novels and Careers:

"One of those questions seemingly subject to endless debate by aspiring writers (and general indifference by established writers) is whether to focus on novels or short stories in building a career..."

December 12, 2006

Torchwood gets a second series commisioned

The BBC press office confirms that Torchwood is getting another series...

BBC Three's Torchwood is back for a second series but this time it will premiere exclusively on BBC Two

Interesting, they must have thought that it has done okay then as BBC3 is a smaller audience than BBC2.

The disappointing part of the press release? No mention of Science Fiction...

Roly Keating said: "Inventive, intelligent and unpredictable, Torchwood is a brilliant piece of 21st century fantasy drama..."

December 11, 2006

Do you like bookstores?

Scott@SFSignal has a very funny rant about bookstores (specifically the big chains).

Personally I prefer shopping on Amazon to a bricks and mortar Waterstones, mainly for convenience. However Waterstones do have a few great shops, specifically the one in Birmingham, which is inside a great building, and is really cool to wander around.

December 10, 2006

What code DOESN'T do in real life

This made me laugh, What code DOESN'T do in real life (that it does in the movies).

Personally I think watching someone code very fast in Visual Studio can be very exciting. Ooohh, the colour, ooh the Intellisense, oooh a build.

I'm still waiting for that Neuromancer deck interface.

Sarah Jane Smith investigates clip

The Doctor Who advent Calendar has a clip of Sarah Jane Smith investigates behind door number 9.

Looks better than I thought. It will probably be a fun kids show.

SF book title poetry game

Torque Control has some great SF examples of The Sorted Books Project. Nice. Might give that a try.

December 9, 2006

Doctor Who Advent Calendar

The BBC Doctor Who site has an advent calendar, and each "door" has a little extra behind it, like wallpapers, artwork etc.

Also the trailer for The Runaway Bride is being show on the BBC quite frequently (I saw it on BBC1) and includes a great sequence with a low flying TARDIS.

PKD adaptation Next talked up by Cage

Nicholas Cage is talking up the PKD SF thriller movie Next that he's staring in.

"If you're looking for the Philip K. Dick mindf--k, you will get it,"

It's based on the Philip K. Dick short story "The Golden Man", which I haven't read (still so much PKD left to read).

December's Ansible is online

Ian McDonald's next book is going to be about Turkey

After Brasyl Ian McDonald is writing a book about/in Turkey...

"Set over a week in post-EU membership Turkey circa 2025-2028"

Sounds intriguing.

Even William Gibson has doubts

From William Gibson's blog...

"Well, I know when I finish a book I know that it's not only the worst book I've written (laughter all around), but that it's the worst book that's ever been written. "

Which must give some hope for all those writers out there suffering self doubt?

December 8, 2006

Firefly MMORPG

Via Wired

Like Capt. Mal Reynolds stumbling in after a bar fight, the short-lived but much beloved sci-fi series Firefly will soon make an unexpected return, not as a TV show, but as a massively multiplayer online game.

Now that's shiny.

Now that's a game that could tempt me into the world of MMORPG. I've resisted Star Wars Galaxies because I just know that I would end up living in there.

Sinta Klaas

I've been in Holland celebrating Sinta Klaas with family.

Nothing too much SF going on, apart from the fact that the Eurotunnel train looks like a used version of a 1970's spaceship.

Oh and the fact that Sinta Klaas arrives in Holland, travelling from Spain, on a steamboat, with presents for all the children in the country. Which must take some steampunk style TARDIS science fiction.

Now in catch-up mode.

December 1, 2006

The Confusion - Neal Stephenson

The Confusion is volume 2 of The Baroque Cycle, containing books 4 and 5. It can't be read alone, well it could but I really wouldn't recommend it, as the cycle is one long story.

I read Quicksilver a while ago and loved it, but having been putting off reading the remaining two volumes due to their sheer size, each one is 800+ pages in hard back format.

But I've finished The Confusion relatively quickly, because I thought it was great. I think it is more focussed than Quicksilver and benefits from that. The one book is mainly about Eliza's adventures, focussed in France, the other books is Jacks amazing journey and adventure.

By now I know what the score is, I'm no longer waiting for a single coherent plot. It's bigger than that. It's like living in the 17th century, there are plots but they come and go and intertwine. It's peoples lives we are reading about, adventures, politics, science, economics. Everything that shaped our world today.

It's really quite brilliant and nearly impossible to describe.

I'm itching to read the last volume.