January 2007 Archives

January 31, 2007

Orbit has a record year

Velcro City Tourist Board picks up on something that passed me by on the FPI blog, Orbit had a record year in 2006 "recording their highest sales since their inception in 1974 and taking a huge chunk of the UK SF&F books sales for 2006."

So did their rivals sell less? Or did sales go up overall?

January 30, 2007

Ken MacLeod's next book is near future

The UK SF Book News Network has news of Ken MacLeod's next book (which he has just delivered) "The Execution Channel".

It's near future, has a war in the Middle East, and online conspiracies. Sounds cool. Also if the cover art shown is final it seems that the publishers are going for the mainstream audience. Hopefully he'll get that, because we're all going to read it whatever it looks like!

The new Barbarella?

Cinematical agonises over Who Should Be the New Barbarella?, whilst completely missing the fact that Kylie did it better than anyone else ever could.

Alfred Bester's two classics examined online in Locus

Graham Sleight's Locus column, "Yesterday's Tomorrows" is online and discussing the amazing books The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination .

The column was originally published in Locus in June 2006, but has just been added to the new online features section.

January 29, 2007

Obi-Wan's Jedi robes up for auction

Got £60k? Buy Obi-Wan's Jedi robe!


"This original cloak, an integral part of this world of excitement and mystery is estimated at £50,000-60,000."

Dear Mr. Spammer

I know that you can't be very intelligent, but none of your spam is getting through Movable Type's spam checking.

Therefore you can stop now.

Doctor Who cartoon

Via FPI blog, the BBC Doctor Who site has information on the new Doctor Who cartoon, or animated series if you're being posh.


"David Tennant and Freema Agyeman will star in The Infinite Quest, a 13-part animated adventure that will run weekly in the second series of Totally Doctor Who."

"The Doctor And Martha follow a trail of clues across wild and wonderful alien worlds, to find the location of the legendary lost spaceship, the Infinite,"

It even includes this still....

It will probably be lightweight, seeing as it will air on the Children's BBC channel, CBBC. But I'll probably still watch it anyway.

January 27, 2007

Charlie Stross on the writer's life

Charlie's Diary: The writer's lifestyle

Charlie says it like it is. You sure you wanted to be a writer?

Vector and Matrix arrived in the mail today

Today the BSFA's magazines Vector and Matrix arrived in the mail.

Vector has a wonderful front and back cover, the front of the Woking Martian, the back of lots of books that I want to pick up. Plenty of great stuff to read in both of them (just dipped in so far), including a look back on Vector's history, Paul's letter to Vector, an interview with Richard Morgan and the usual selection of media reviews in Matrix.

Sound good? Join the BSFA and you get them.

January 26, 2007

The 10 Lamest Superheroes of all time

Any contenders for Heroes in The 10 Lamest Superheroes of all time? Nope.

January 25, 2007

Sir Derek Jacobi in Doctor Who 2007

The BBC have the story that "Shakespearean actor Sir Derek Jacobi is to take part in the third series of Doctor Who."

As The Professor apparently, not The Master as he played in an online episode. There goes The Master is returning theories...

Cowboy Angels cover

Paul McAuley has the cover of his novel Cowboy Angels. Looks nice, kind of like White Mountain.

The Guardian reviews Sound Mind by Tricia Sullivan

Tricia Sullivan, who wins my 'top opening paragraph of all time' award (for Dreaming In Smoke) has had her latest novel reviewed in The Guardian.

As a recap, Jon Courtenay Grimwood used to do the genre reviews for The Guardian and they scrapped his column. So the plus side is that they are still reviewing Science Fiction. The negative side is that it starts like this...

"How frustrating to be a great writer who happens to work in sci-fi. For every Jeff Noon or Neal Stephenson who breaks out to wider arenas, there's a Tricia Sullivan or a Jeff Vandermeer stuck on the shelves in that bit of the bookstore where most of you never wander. Hearteningly, Sullivan may be nearing escape velocity, and about time, too."

Hopefully he means in terms of sales.
Anyway, Sound Mind sounds cool. Added to my Wish List.

ITV taking on Doctor Who with Primeval

Outpost Gallifrey has news that ITV have decided to take on the Saturday evening TV slot that the BBC are winning with Doctor Who. Their answer is Primeval.

There's a trailer on the site, which apart from using a snippet from Muse as the music, is really bad. Doesn't entice me at all, looks cliched.

Downtime

This website was down this morning, and is still flaky now. Because...wait for it...the servers overheated.

Yes, on the coldest day of the year, with snow even in London, the air conditioning broke in the Data Centre and the servers overheated.

"A large fan has now been positioned in the room to further speed up airflow."

Oh the irony.

UPDATE
And when I thought it was okay the CGI scripts were slow causing me hassle, as you may have noticed. Everything seems to be fine now. Just got to post everything I was going to yesterday now....

Life On Mars teaser trailer

January 22, 2007

The Baroque Cycle - A Review

I finished reading The System Of The World at the weekend, which finishes off The Baroque Cycle (UK/US), by Neal Stephenson. Yes, I've read all 3000 or so pages of the monster story. And I'm pleased to say it was worth it.

Rather than just give a review of The System Of The World, I'll point to my reviews of Quicksilver and The Confusion, and give my opinions now I've finished the whole thing.

It is, in short, quite amazing. If you know nothing about it, here's a quick summary.

Science, politics, economics, pirates, daring adventures, kings, thieves, wars and the genesis of computers. Yes, all of that.

Continue reading The Baroque Cycle - A Review.

Reviewers not finishing books before reviewing?

John@SFSignal has a post discussing reviewers not finishing books before reviewing them.

I haven't read the whole post, but I thought I'd link to it anyway.

January 21, 2007

2007 Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist

And the actual shortlist is:

  • End of the World Blues, Jon Courtenay Grimwood (Gollancz)
  • Nova Swing, M. John Harrison (Gollancz)
  • Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, Lydia Millet (Heinemann)
  • Hav, Jan Morris (Faber)
  • Gradisil, Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
  • Streaking, Brian Stableford (PS Publishing)

So I guessed 2 out of 6 correctly.

January 20, 2007

Guess the Arthur C Clarke awards shortlist

Niall from Vector is an Arthur C Clarke Award judge this year. And today is the shortlist decision day. He's promising to buy the shortlist to anyone who guesses it correctly!

Here's my guess...

  • JG Ballard, Kingdom Come
  • Kevin Brockmeier, The Brief History Of The Dead
  • Jon Courtenay Grimwood, End Of The World Blues
  • M John Harrison, Nova Swing
  • Roger Levy, Icarus
  • Jeff Vandermeer, Shriek An Afterword

January 19, 2007

Strange Horizons reviews Battlestar Galactica season 3

So, I finally got around to writing my review of Battlestar Galactica season 3 (so far). It's number 2 in a series of infinity, one word reviews.

I was spurred on by the fact that Strange Horizons have published their thoughts too, here. They use more words, but essentially come to the same conclusion as me.

Battlestar Galactica Season 3 part 1 review

Disappointing

Sunshine trailer online

The trailer for Sunshine is online, follow the link from here.

I have mixed feelings about this film so far:

The good:

  • It's directed by Danny Boyle who has made some brilliant films
  • It's written by Alex Garland who's a great writer
  • It has a wonderful looking trailer
  • It's in space!

The bad:

  • It's about rebooting the sun
  • The trailer makes it look like it's going to be a disaster movie rather than a SF movie (hopefully better than Armageddon)

January 17, 2007

BSFA Non-fiction Category discussion

Niall summarises the discussion around the BSFA Non-Fiction Category, in which no award will be er... awarded, but instead the shortlist makes a recommended reading list.

Personally I don't mind either way. I fancy reading the James Tiptree, Jr book, but mainly because lots of people have said it's good rather than it's on one awards list. I read so little non-fiction (which is sad) that a book has to be very highly recommended for me to get around to reading it.

UPDATE:
Lots of great discussion in the comments thread, go and read it. Relevant even if you have nothing to do with the BSFA, because essentially it is a discussion on how awards should be decided. I have now come round to the position that I'd prefer a voted for award, let the members decide.

Darth Vader has a Twitter

Follow Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith on Twitter

"Met some new people today. My kind of scum for the most part. Except for one... IG-88. Call me old fashion, but I just don't trust robots"


January 16, 2007

Can. Not..Resist....

New Babylon 5 photos

Lost, the end is nigh?

The Lost writers are discussing the show's ending with ABC. Which is nice.

January 15, 2007

The Runaway Bride on Strange Horizons

Strange Horizons Reviews: Two Views: Doctor Who, "The Runaway Bride", reviewed by Nicholas Whyte and Tony Keen, gives us two contrasting reviews of the 2006 Doctor who Christmas Special.

Funnily I agree with most of both of them. That episode had my head an my heart on opposite ends of the spectrum. Although in the end I let my childlike heart leave me feeling happy about it.

BSFA Awards shortlists, 2006

The BSFA Awards shortlists, 2006 is out. Here's the list, go to the BSFA site for the links, especially the artwork to view. As usual I've read none of them, but probably will once they come out in paperback.

Novel

  • Darkland, Liz Williams (Tor)
  • End of the World Blues, Jon Courtenay Grimwood (Gollancz)
  • Icarus, Roger Levy (Gollancz)
  • The Last Witchfinder, James Morrow (Weidenfield & Nicholson)
  • Nova Swing, M. John Harrison (Gollancz)

Short Fiction

  • The Djinn's Wife, Ian McDonald (Asimov's Science Fiction, June)
  • The Highway Men, Ken MacLeod (Sandstone Press Ltd)
  • The House Beyond Your Sky, Benjamin Rosenbaum (Strange Horizons)
  • The Point of Roses, Margo Lanagan (Black Juice, Gollancz - original to UK edition, 2006)
  • Signal to Noise, Alastair Reynolds (Zima Blue and Other Stories, Nightshade Books)
  • Sounding, Elizabeth Bear (Strange Horizons)

Artwork

  • Angelbot, Fangorn (Cover of Time Pieces, ed. Ian Whates)
  • Cover of Farthing magazine, issue 2, Spring 2006. Credited to 'Vertebrate Graphics'.
  • Droid, Fahrija Velic (Cover for Interzone 206)
  • The Return to Abalakin, Alexander Preuss
  • Ring of the Gods, William Li (Cover of Holland SF 226)

January 14, 2007

Diamond Age coming as a TV series

Via SFSignal, SCI FI Wire announces the new SciFi channel shows.

The one that has got me incredibly excited is The Diamond Age, adapted from Neal Stephenson's novel. I loved that book, and Neal Stephenson is one of my favourite authors.

The good news?
"Stephenson will adapt his novel for the miniseries, the first time the Hugo and Nebula award winner has written for TV."
!

Also...
"...a six-hour miniseries from Clooney and fellow executive producer Grant Heslov of Smokehouse Productions."

Wow. Very cool.

January 12, 2007

Torchwood season 1 review

Rubbish.

January 11, 2007

Nebula Awards Shortlist

2006 Preliminary Nebula Award Ballot

Novels:

From the Files of the Time Rangers - Richard Bowes (Golden Gryphon Press, Sep05)
Crystal Rain - Tobias Buckell (Tor, Feb06)
The Girl in the Glass - Jeffrey Ford (Dark Alley, Aug05)
The Privilege of the Sword - Ellen Kushner (Bantam Spectra, Jul06)
Counting Heads - David Marusek (Tor, Oct05)
To Crush the Moon - Wil McCarthy (Bantam Spectra, May05)
Seeker - Jack McDevitt (Ace, Nov05)
A Princess of Roumania - Paul Park (Tor, Aug05)
Remains - Mark W Tiedemann (BenBella Books, Jul05)
Spin - Robert Charles Wilson (Tor, Mar05)

Only read one of them, Counting Heads, and that was because I got a Tor hardback import (it was worth it).

Strange Horizons reviews Torchwood

Strange Horizons Reviews: Torchwood: "Captain Jack Harkness" and "End of Days", reviewed by Iain Clark


"It's a hard show to love. Perhaps Torchwood is what Doctor Who looks like when it gets acne, swears at its parents, and starts leering at the opposite sex.

Maybe it's just a phase."

I'll post my thoughts soon, honest, just trying to assemble them into longer than one word.

Avatar to begin shooting in April

SCI FI Wire has news of James Cameron's now mythical/legendary SF project, Avatar. He says...

"We're creating an entire world, a complete ecosystem of phantasmagorical plants and creatures, and a native people with a rich culture and language. The story is both epic and emotional."

Hmmm. I have a bad feeling about it.

Things I should do / things I am doing

Some things I should do:

  • Post a review of Torchwood season 1 (I just can't summon up the enthusiasm).
  • Post a review of Battlestar Galactica season 3 so far (I just can't summon up the enthusiasm. See a trend here?)
  • Stay on top of my SF rss feeds otherwise I have ten squillion posts to read and don't read any of them
  • Post my list of Christmas presents == my to-read pile

Things I am doing...


  • Typing up one of my stories every day (still on target)

  • Still reading the Baroque Cycle, on System Of The World, and it's still brilliant

I Am Legend image online

IGN: I Am Legend Image

Well, it looks okay so far. Still extremely sceptical about the whole project.

The Last Mimzy


I just got sent a press release about The Last Mimzy, which I hadn't heard anything about before, and sounds like it could be interesting.

"The Last Mimzy tells the story of two children who discover a mysterious box that contains some strange devices they think are toys. As the children play with these “toys,� they begin to display higher and higher intelligence levels."

It's based on the 1943 short story “Mimsy Were the Borogoves� by Lewis Padgett. The trailers are here, the main site here. Could be a family SF film ala Spileberg, if done right. I can't however find any mention of a UK release at the moment.

January 7, 2007

Philip K. Dick Award shortlist

Via Torque Control, the shortlist for the 2006 Philip K. Dick Award “for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States�:


  • Mindscape by Andrea Hairston (Aqueduct Press)

  • Carnival by Elizabeth Bear (Bantam Spectra)

  • Spin Control by Chris Moriarty (Bantam Spectra)

  • Catalyst by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (Tachyon Publications)

  • Recursion by Tony Ballantyne (Bantam Spectra)

  • Idolon by Mark Budz (Bantam Spectra)

  • Living Next-Door to the God of Love by Justina Robson (Bantam Spectra)

I haven't read any of them, although the Justina Robson book has been on my to-buy list for a while now.

Hal Duncan officially Rock'n'roll

Hal Duncan is happy, he's got a mention in the NME.

Rock and Roll.

January 6, 2007

More Ashraf Bey books on the way from JCG

Via The UK SF Book News Network

"Jon Courtenay Grimwood has sold three new Ashraf Bey books to Gollancz"

First one due this year. Awesome. Bring back Raf's Fox please.

January's Ansible is online

Ansible 234, January 2007

And is great reading as usual.

January 5, 2007

The Sarah Jane Adventures - Invasion of the Bane

I watched the first episode (pilot?) of The Sarah Jane Adventures on New Years Day.

First things first, it's a kids programme. Having said that, I quite enjoyed it.

The good things:


  • It was fast paced, fun and had some special effects.

  • Elisabeth Sladen was good as Sarah Jane, still missing The Doctor.

  • K9 got a cameo.

  • Sarah Jane's car was very cool. (A Morris?)

The bad things:


  • One of the child characters was really annoying, hopefully she'll be gone in the full series.

  • The story was unoriginal, even including a monster in the roof ala the jagrafess.

  • K9 was in a cupboard closing a black hole. WHAT?!

It has potential.

Torque Control's end of year book summary

Niall, at Torque Control has a nice review of his literary year, What Kind Of Year Has It Been?. Includes graphs! Makes me want to check out all of the ones mentioned.

Anyone hoping to run to the bookies with a hot tip for the Arthur C. Clarke Award will be disappointed, because, despite Niall "currently a judge for the Arthur C. Clarke Award", eligible books aren't discussed. But anyone else please post tips in the comments here instead...

January 4, 2007

Dirk Benedict in Celebrity Big Brother

Can you resist a Celebrity Big Brother that includes
Dirk Benedict?

He says...
"My sons persuaded me to do the show. I'm a recluse...I expect 25 days of absolute hell."

January 3, 2007

Doctor Who - The Runaway Bride

So, it's about time I reviewed the Doctor Who Christmas Special, now that Christmas is now well and truly over.

The short review : very flawed but incredibly entertaining.

The long review:

Continue reading Doctor Who - The Runaway Bride.

VCTB reviews issue one of Hub

Velcro City Tourist Board reviews the first issue of new fiction magazine Hub, which looks interesting.

BSG MMORPG?

SCI FI Wire is reporting a "a rumor that a massively multiplayer online game based on the SCI FI Channel original series Battlestar Galactica is in the works".

Not sure about that. Surely the world can only support so many MMORPGs? Plus it would be pretty boring if you're stuck on a manky ship in the fleet.

January 1, 2007

A Pulp SF Calendar

The now traditional Website at the End of the Universe's free downloadable 2007 calendar

"Decades before Princess Leia ever wore her metal bikini in Return of the Jedi, women frequently modeled fine metallic swimwear on the covers of pulp science fiction magazines to excite the imaginations of impressionable, young readers."

BSFA 2007 interview list

The interview list for the 2007 BSFA meetings is very impressive. (That link includes the dates too).

Here's the quick list:
Paul Cornell, Rob Holdstock, Hal Duncan, Jon George, Stephen Hunt, Brian Stableford, Anne Sudworth, Chris Beckett, Juliet McKenna, John Clute, Iain M. Banks.

Nice.

Heroes episodes online, with IP filtering

The full episodes of Heroes are online at the NBC site. However it appears that they're doing IP filtering as I just get a connection error. Which is tiresome. Of course the way around it is to find a proxy in the US or just download them via bittorrent. And, as most the torrent downloads will presumably be from outside of the US the restrictiveness seems a bit pointless.

Strange Horizons end of year stats

Jed Hartman from Strange Horizons has posted their end of year stats, which make fascinating reading. [Via SF Signal].

I now have to resist analysing them too much.
My personal stats for Strange Horizons are:

Submitted in 2006: 4
Submitted overall: 11
Average response time overall: 28 days
Sales: 0

SF Signal's end of year reviews

SF Signal has some very nice end of year posts, including a review of 2006 and the results of John's read a short story a day resolution, with a detailed summary of that successful quest.

Happy New Year

A Happy New Year to everyone. That is unless you use a calendar system different to the one I use, in which case, whenever your New Year is, Happy New Year for then.