May 2007 Archives
May 31, 2007
George R.R. Martin says that 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Alien, Aliens and Forbidden Planet are better than Star Wars. Although these are all great films, he's clearly wrong. because they're not.
Forbidden Planet is his favourite. Yeah , it's good, I like it a lot, but it's The Tempest, cue flashbacks to studying Shakespeare at school.
He also suggests Charlie (never seen the film, thought the book was a bit dull), War Of The Worlds and The Time Machine (both the old versions). Hmmm. The Wells books are classics, the movies are cheesey. Surely no one likes them better with Star Wars? [Via SFSignal]
From USA Today:
"Looking to prevent the next terrorist attack, the Homeland Security Department is tapping into the wild imaginations of a group of self-described "deviant" thinkers: science-fiction writers."
The writers include
"Bear says the writers offer powerful imaginations that can conjure up not only possible methods of attack, but also ideas about how governments and individuals will respond and what kinds of high-tech tools could prevent attacks."
Nice to see them focusing on sensble Foreign policy then. Hearts and minds?
May 30, 2007
May 29, 2007
28 Weeks Later is a sequel to 28 Days Later. I loved 28 Days Later, a fresh, fast, scary, British horror film, with (sort-of) Zombies that can run ARGGGHH!
I'm glad to say that 28 Weeks Later is equal to it if not better.
The start is the scary sort of tension that makes you nervous, waiting for something bad to happen. Then it does. Including a nice emotional setup.
Move on a while and all the Rage infected people are dead and the US of A are making the UK into a liveable place once again. They use the Isle Of Dogs for this, presumably because it's an island and also because it has nice skyscrapers that look good on film. Nice nod to Day Of The Triffids though and nice to see London used as a film location.
The first half of the film is the best, the much talked about US occupancy causing some thought provoking moments. Particularily when they open fire on a crowd of civilians. I'm pleased to say that it's not anti-American, or pro-American, I really found myself wondering what they should do. If I was somewhere else fearing for my life that the virus would escape, what would I say?
The last half of the film suffers from some slightly silly plot devices. For example, would you go into the Tube after an apocalyptic virus outbreak? No, I try not to go into the Tube at the best of times. (And hadn't they seen American Werewolf In London?!). But overall the film is scary and energetic and kept me thinking for a while.
I also loved the last scene of the film.
In summary : Zombies that can run, ARRRGGHHH!
May 28, 2007
I don't usually read biographies (well, in fact not much non-fiction these days), but after the hype about this book I decided that I should read it.
Another confession, I haven't read any Tiptree fiction. So something new all round.
If you don't know, Tiptree was a man, but a pseudonym for Alice Sheldon (who was obviously a woman). This was apparently a big deal when revealed in the late 70's. But I'm getting ahead of my self. The book starts as biographies do, at the beggining. Alice's childhood was really amazing. When she was young she spent time with her parents exploring Africa, in a time when you had to walk to get to most remote parts. I found Alice's early years completely fascinating. Throughout the book quotes from letters by Alice, which gives a nice insight into how she felt about things. From then on Alice was in the Army, the CIA, ran a chicken farm, got a PhD in psychology and eventually started writing Science Fiction.
I enjoyed reading about Tiptrees initial forays into SF, particularily her letter writing to people such as Ursula Le Guin, Philip K Dick, Harlan Ellison, Frederick Pohl etc. However, as the book continues into the later years of Alice's life, depression seems to overwhelm everything and I found it quite a difficult and depressing read. I was also not interested in the various feminist debates which the book deals with in detail (is that me being a man or the fact that it's the 21st century?).
Overall, interesting, but not gripping. The end result however is that I'm very eager to read some of Tiptree's fiction. I found a few stories online in the Sci Fiction archive, plus there are several anthologies. So that's a good thing.
May 27, 2007
May 25, 2007
Woah. Woah. And Woah.
There are spoilers for Lost Season 3 coming right now....
Lots of Star Wars birthday things about today...
- SFSignal has some links to some good articles.
- The BBC has a video report [Via FPI blog]
- The Star Wars site says to check back at on Sunday at 11:30am Pacific time for a MUST SEE SURPRISE, which will probably be a clip from the new Star Wars CGI series. (No idea what 11:30 Pacific time is in real life GMT).
- The BBC has another video about when Star Wars opened in London in December, 1977.
- A funny article following a BBC reporter losing his Star Wars virginity, "I really quite enjoyed that."
- Here's Barry Norman's review of Star Wars from 1977, and why not? (he's a famous film critic in the UK).
- Let Google News find the Star Wars stories.
The first Star Wars film was released on 25th May 1977. That's 30 years ago today.
Star Wars was the first film I ever saw in a cinema. I spent my whole childhood playing Star Wars, making Star Wars stuff, collecting Star Wars figures, reading Star Wars comics, putting Star Wars posters up in my bedroom...and so on. Star Wars was my childhood.
Star Wars, I still love you. Happy Birthday.
May 24, 2007
Here we go again. Richard Schickel says:
"Let me put this bluntly, in language even a busy blogger can understand: Criticism — and its humble cousin, reviewing — is not a democratic activity. It is, or should be, an elite enterprise, ideally undertaken by individuals who bring something to the party beyond their hasty, instinctive opinions of a book (or any other cultural object). It is work that requires disciplined taste, historical and theoretical knowledge and a fairly deep sense of the author's (or filmmaker's or painter's) entire body of work, among other qualities."
"I don't think it's impossible for bloggers to write intelligent reviews. I do think, however, that a simple "love" of reading (or movie-going or whatever) is an insufficient qualification for the job. That way often leads to cultishness (see the currently inflated reputations of Philip K. Dick or Cornell Woolrich, both easy reads for lazy, word-addicted minds). "
I say :
May 23, 2007
May 22, 2007
Short, sweet and encouraging news, Robert Rodriguez has signed on to direct "Barbarella".
Close your eyes if you don't want to be spoilt! Here's one T-Shirt which gives away the secrets for a load of films.
May 21, 2007
"I'll be willing to entertain the idea that Neuromancer is really "headed for the big screen" when I'm watching it being shot"So let's not worry about it then.
"I happened to have the idea of making a Han Solo in carbonite chocolate bar"As you do.
May 20, 2007
"a $70 million budget with Joseph Kahn currently set to direct"An adaptation of Neuromancer would have to be seriously awesome to please everyone. You either have to have guts or be stupid to take it on as a project.
Formulaic, ridiculous, monster nonsense, slowly fading in enjoyment and lacking any Science Fiction ambition.
Cut the filler and get John Simm in the episodes! (He's the best thing in the recent season preview trailer.)
May 18, 2007
"John Barrowman will be one of the special guests on this evening's edition of Tonight With Jonathan Ross. John will be talking about Captain Jack's return to Doctor Who in episode 11, Utopia, and will be premiering an exclusive clip from that story."Expect it to be rude.
May 17, 2007
The BBC has news that book industry has chosen 25 authors as the future of British writing. Into includes Susanna Clarke and Richard Morgan, but no mention of the sc**nc* f*ct**n or f*nt*sy words.
May 16, 2007
"NBC, in a slump and eager to regain its winning ways, is hoping to attract advertisers and viewers with a fall schedule that plays it safe.....The most notable trend in the NBC prime-time lineup for the 2007-8 season, which the network introduced yesterday, is a focus on fantasy and science fiction."Wow. SFF shows are now "playing it safe"!
May 15, 2007
I've had a zombie day.
This morning I woke up after dreaming an extended dream about 28 Weeks Later. Well I assume it was that film, there were zombies (sort of) that could run and tried to bite you and even swim (no jumping into water to escape). I think I was Robert Carlyle. There was a small band of us left. We holed up in the Tower Of London but it was no good, they over ran us. We tried to secure a Welsh valley, but that was no use either. The dream even had a cinematic ending, I was the last normal person, so I was the weird one, very I Am Legend. I was holed away somewhere, avoiding everyone. But fortunately I had bred a Poppy that cured the zombie disease and there were whole fields of it (like the end of A Scanner Darkly) and airborne seeds, so I was going to be all right.
Over breakfast I began to read Some Zombie Contingency Plans by Kelly Link (from her collection Magic For Beginners), because it felt right.
Then, over email I discussed a trip to the cinema to see 28 Weeks Later with some mates, and we discussed our own zombie contingency plans. The worst of which was not to worry about it and just become an infected zombie monster. There was also of course the obligatory vote for running to the pub Shaun Of The Dead style. My latest plan is to blow the stairs up and hide upstairs in my house, because zombies can't climb very well.
Then at lunchtime I finished reading Some Zombie Contingency Plans, which is truly excellent. Very funny, but with a weird abrupt ending. There were so many lines that I wanted to remember to quote at a later date. Wonderful writing.
Then, this evening, whilst reading the latest issue of Spacesuits And Sixguns, I read the story The Great Vudu Linux Teen Zombie Massacree. It's a very funny story by Lucy Snyder with zombies, iBooks, Linux, shotguns and a badger! Brilliant.
And so ends my zombie day.
May 14, 2007
May 13, 2007
- NOVEL # Seeker, Jack McDevitt (Ace Books)
- NOVELLA # Burn, James Patrick Kelly (Tachyon Publications) (BDO Review)
- NOVELETTE # "Two Hearts", Peter S. Beagle (F&SF Oct/Nov 2005)
- SHORT STORY # "Echo", Elizabeth Hand (F&SF Oct/Nov 2005)
- SCRIPT # Howl's Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki, Cindy Davis Hewitt, and Donald H. Hewitt
- ANDRE NORTON AWARD # Magic or Madness, Justine Larbalestier (Razorbill)
May 11, 2007
How does that work? Well, it's a dictionary, with definitions of words, Science Fiction words no less, and also, most interestingly, the history of those words in the form of citations. So you can look up a word and see where the word originated, which story, author, newsgroup used it first, and also a selection of important uses over the years.
It's the sort of book that you keep on the coffee table and dip into. If you leave it lying around everyone will pick it up, it can't be resisted. In fact that's exactly what I've been doing since I got this book. Every time I have had a spare minute I've picked it up, opened it at random, and learnt about the history of the word psionics or egoscan or tri-vid (I just opened the book right now and picked those words). And then I've felt the urge to tell everybody in the room about what I've just read. And then I feel compelled to go and find the cited novels and stories. It's going to be responsible for making my reading wishlist even more unmanageable!
As well as all the SF words, there is also a great introduction by Gene Wolfe.
The only downside I can think of for this book is that people might find it a bit too geeky to buy. Indeed, it is SF geek paradise. Well, if you're reading this blog you're a SF geek anyway, so just buy the book, you'll love it. And for anyone else who is a borderline SF fan, buy it for their birthday. They'll love it too.
"Peter F Hamilton's next book is The Dreaming Void and due out in the UK on August 3rd 2007 - those in the US will have to wait until December 2007 for the Del Rey release. The Dreaming Void is the first book in a new trilogy (The Void Trilogy) and set in the year 3580. This new trilogy will be set in a universe Peter has used before - the Commonwealth universe."Nice. Make space in your reading calendar then.
May 10, 2007
"If Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later was a horror movie that effectively masqueraded as science fiction, the follow-up would make George Romero run for cover." [This Is London]
Not sure if that is good or bad? I will go and see 28 Weeks Later soon anyway, because 28 Days Later scared me lots. I mean, zombies that can run! ArrRgggGhhhHH! There goes all our zombie contingency plans.
Cinematical have news of an interview that George Lucas did (on Fox it appears). Apparently...
"Lucas will make two more live-action films set in everyone's favorite galaxy far, far away. These films will likely be an hour each, and will air on television"
So that's the much fabled TV series then? Two hours of TV. Rubbish. I want a full on, super cool, TV series. Sort it out George.
"Moviehole reported a rumor that P.J. Pesce (From Dusk Till Dawn 3) will helm the long-awaited direct-to-DVD sequel Lost Boys: The Tribe, which is slated to begin shooting in Vancouver, Canada, this summer. "[SciFi Wire]
No! Don't do it! Leave the classics alone. The Lost Boys is brilliant, it doesn't need a sequel. Get your money grabbing hands off our films.
May 9, 2007
I finally got around to checking out Afterburn SF, which recently accquired a new editor. I loved the Submission Guidelines:
"For Science-Fiction, we want exploding spaceships, aliens, cyber-ninjas, rogue AIs, space marines, etc. "
Oh yes. It's that etc. at the end that made me chuckle.
Lots of stories on the site (lots more to read...)
Ansible 238, May 2007 is online, and you've probably all read it by now, but it feels weird to not blog it.
It's official, I now have too many feeds in my feed reader to read them all. Which means that every other day there are 500 or so posts to trawl through.
I have several options:
- Only read posts from the day before, mark the rest as read
- Prune my feed list
- Give up
Say, hypothetically, that I was choosing option 2. What are the ten essential SF blogs that I should read? Any opinions? (I shall keep quiet on my views so as not to influence the discussion (even if the discussion only happens in my head)).
May 8, 2007
The Sky Movies Sci-fi & Horror Channel (which I never even knew existed) has done a survey of most-watched movies. Here's the results:
MEN'S MOST-WATCHED FILMS
1. Star Wars trilogy
3. The Terminator
4. Blade Runner
5. The Godfather
WOMEN'S MOST-WATCHED FILMS
1. Dirty Dancing
2. Star Wars trilogy
4. The Sound of Music
5. Pretty Woman
Star Wars is number two for Women as well, that's surprising. For the men, SF rules, of course.
Mixed feeings about this story that Lost willl finish in 2010. I still love Lost, in fact it's my favourite show at the moment. It's transforming slowly from bonkers to ahhhh! In fact I reckon I pretty much get what the whole show is about now. For all those people saying there are no answers: we know why the plane crashed, why they kidnapped Claire, how Locke got in his wheelchair and why there was a polar bear in the jungle.
So, anyway, I'd have liked two more seasons, which at 16 episodes over 3 more seasons is more or less the same. Shame it's over 3 years though and not 2.
This made me laugh though:
"Due to the unique nature of the series, we knew it would require an end date to keep the integrity and strength of the show consistent throughout and to give the audience the pay-off they deserve," said Stephen McPherson, the president of ABC Entertainment."
May 7, 2007
Joost is the new(ish) P2P TV company created by the guys who created Skype. I've been using Joost (on and off) for a while, but so far the content has lefy me unimpressed. Now however there's SF coming. Digital Trends says that Warner Bros. has done a deal:
"Warner's WBTV: Sci-Fi Fix will feature catalog science fiction and genre television shows, like Babylon 5, Max Headroom, and The Adventures of Briscoe County."
Hmm. Still not great, I get to watch B5, again, in lower quality, on my stuttery low speed broadband. If Joost is going to succeed they need iTunes size deals. (Although you still can't get TV shows on iTunes in the UK).
It was a Bank Holiday in England today, which meant a long weekend. Hurrah! And it quite obviously has meant not blogging. (I did however resist the genetic urge to barbecue anything.)
Did watch Doctor Who though; nice trailer for the rest of the series.
May 3, 2007
The BBC Doctor Who site says Something Special is coming...
"...the Doctor Who team have been working away feverishly to prepare a special treat for you at the end of this week's episode, The Lazarus Experiment."
There's a Star Wars exhibition in London, celebrating 30 years of Star Wars (has it been that long?!). The BBC have a very funny video report about it. Well, funny in a very cheesey, trying to be funny kind of way. See the reporter make Jedi levitation gags! Watch the reporter take off his jacket and fight with a lightsaber! etc.
Good result. I loved Light and Nova Swing is next on my books to read pile, in fact it is sitting on my shelf waiting for me. An SF book with literary cred, the perfect Clarke winner.
May 2, 2007
SF Wire has news that Michael Crichton's classic (their words) SF novel The Andromeda Strain will be converted into a miniseries for A&E, to be executive-produced by filmmaking brothers Tony and Ridley Scott.
Could be good.
May 1, 2007
" I don't think I've had as many a-ha! moments about the metaphysics of computation since reading Cryptonomicon"
I really need that book. The Gollancz UK edition is not out until the 21st June.
He likes it. A lot.
"He ought to sell more than cookbooks."
I would have thought that Geoff Ryman wouldn't need any more publicity after his magnificent book Air winning every award it could. However Interzone are doing a Mundane Sf issue with Geoff Ryman as a guest editor (along with Julian Todd and Trent Walters). [Via Velcro City Tourist Board]
I'm not keen on the Mundane Manifesto, seems a bit pointless to me. And is Air really mundane? Internet in everyone's head via omniprescent wifi?
However if you fancy submitting a story they're open for submissions (and I'll find one to send despite everything I've said!)
Cinematical reckon that just one scene from the upcoming I Am Legend film cost 5 million dollars. It's a massive evacuation scene.
Oh dear. Doesn't that seem to slight miss the point of the book? A book which is at its most scary with one person in a house and one zombie outside the house. How much does that cost?!
So everyone seems to be writing about how now is so Sci-Fi. Perhaps everyone is just ripping off Gwyneth Jones's article from the Guardian? Anyway, here's the last word on it from the TUSCALOOSA news (cool name).
So it's official, and that's the end of it.
Alastair Reynolds talks about SF, Science and manages to plug his new book, all on the super high traffic BBC news website. Good work.
"I prioritise story over science but not at the expense of being really stupid about it."