June 2007 Archives
June 29, 2007
Martin McGrath has news of new UK TV channel purchases.
June 28, 2007
My copy of Brasyl arrived from Amazon yesterday. I couldn't put off the wait any longer.
Anyway, what any pictures of the UK Trade-paperback edition don't show is how cool the design is.
Firstly the front cover is silver and the Brasyl letters are a cutout, beneath it is a colourful page, like the back of the book. Nice. I'll take some pictures to illustrate it better. The only downside is that i can see the bottom of the R ripping off at some point because it's think.
And the quote on the front is from Richard Morgan and it says: "F**king brilliant. I'm as jealous as hell - it's a beauty"!
Right, got reading to do...
Firefly is good Science Fiction because it:
- (a) has spaceships in it - that satisfies the SF bit
- (b) is so cool I could watch it forever - that satisfies the good bit
June 27, 2007
Suddenly missing Doctor Who isn't going to involve a BitTorrent client (if you live in the UK and if you didn't already have SKY+ or a PVR). Finally the BBC iPlayer is set to launch next month.
There are of course negatives: it's Windows XP only and it uses Microsoft DRM, but the BBC argue that their aim is to get it out to the majority first and then improve it. (Although the DRm will probably never go).
The biggest plus about all this is that it is free.
Within the last couple of weeks a couple of friends have, independently, mailed me the following question:
I've run out of things to read. Read everything by Iain Banks / Peter Hamilton, what should I read next?
What's interesting is that they asked me rather than browse on Amazon or go to Waterstones. It's not surprising, they know I've got an SF blog (even if they don't read it), but still interesting. I can't help feeling that despite all attempts we're still missing the killer book recommendation application.
BTW my recommendations have been not entirely successful. Air wasn't appreciated, but haven't heard anything negative about the followup suggestion, anything by Alistair Reynolds. Whilst today I suggested Glasshouse and Stars My Destination.
It turns out that the T-Shirt Diodes Are A Girls Best Friend, was designed by Travis Pitts (I found out because he left a comment, which is always nice). When I went to Travis' website zom-bot.com I realised that he has designed a whole load of cool stuff, including some Threadless T-Shirts I love. Groovy. I want that walking brain alien on a T-shirt!
Tim@SFSignal has found the Babylon 5: The Lost Tales Trailer on YouTube. Which is nice because I went to the Babylon 5 website and couldn't figure out how it worked (for the designers, this is not a good thing).
Anyway, the trailer reminded me of how much I loved the first three seasons of Babylon 5, but also reminded me of why I disliked the last two. Oh well.
June 26, 2007
June 25, 2007
"The critically acclaimed and international award-winning sci-fi comedy Hyperdrive returns to BBC Two for another series."Not sure which critics they were.
June 24, 2007
So, we knew that John Simm was in The Sound Of Drums, and I guessed that he'd be brilliant. I didn't guess quite how brilliant. Awesome.
However, before Simm takes too much glory it should be noted that in Doctor Who Confidential, Simm said that Russell T Davies was very exact about how he wanted the part played. So RTD should take some plaudits for his writing too.
June 23, 2007
Glasshouse is the third book by Charles Stross that I have read. The previous two, Singularity Sky and Accelerando left me feeling conflicted. Both had awesome SF ideas but I found their plots lacking, missing out on that extra something that elevates a book to "unputdownability". (Of course, in the case of Accelerando it was in fact 9 short stories, which should be taken into account.)
Glasshouse is definitely "unputdownable". It was one of those books that I carried everywhere with me, just in case I got two minutes to read another page. The secret sauce to its addictiveness is all the amazing state of the art SF ideas you'd expect from Stross, combined with a very clever thriller-action plot.
I wasn't convinced from the start however, in the first few chapters I loved the post-singularity civilisation which felt quite cyberpunk for the 21st century, but I wasn't convinced by the characters or their emotions. This is an eternally tricky conundrum for SF writers, how do you take a far future civilisation alien to us and talk about issues that we can relate to. Stross comes up with an excellent plot to explore this in full, just hang in for a few chapters until it all kicks off. From then it just gets better and better. At times it strays into satire, and makes quite valid points about our current society. It all seemed far too close to home.
I was also surprised by the first person point of view and that combined with the fact that the main character couldn't remember much of his past made the character initially feel a little empty. Neither are without reason, and both are used in excellent twists that could only be done with first person point of view. Made me think of Christopher Priest at times.
If I had to pick faults, which I'm loathe to because I enjoyed the book so much, it would be that the characters are at times emotionally unconvincing, and the language is a little functional (although I'd just read Nova Swing which left me in a beautiful language type of mindframe).
You've probably noticed that I've completely avoided even trying to summarise the plot, and that's because the plot great fun if you don't know where it's going. (I'm one of those people who hate even reading the blurb on the back of the book.) The Glasshouse plot kept me guessing right to the end with a brilliant array of twists.
In summary: a wonderful state of the art SF book, with amazing ideas and a plot that rocks!
June 22, 2007
June 21, 2007
"As our New Series streaming media clips are so massively popular, they're putting a bit of a strain on our servers here at the BBC."Yeah, and have you looked on bittorrent lately?
"Everything on one site or linked from one site. News and Events on a sidebar. A Services section (please do check that out). A Press Kit Section. Nice."
June 19, 2007
June 18, 2007
In one video installation, called "1984 and Beyond," [Gerard] Byrne re-creates a panel discussion published in Playboy in 1963, featuring famous science-fiction authors such as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury, discussing what the world would look like 21 years later.Sounds interesting. Via washingtonpost.com
- Best Science Fiction Novel : Rainbows End, Vernor Vinge (Tor)
- Best Novella : "Missile Gap", Charles Stross (One Million A.D.)
- Best Novelette : "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth", Cory Doctorow (Baen's Universe 8/06)
- Best Short Story : "How to Talk to Girls at Parties", Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things)
- Charles Stross
- Richard Morgan
- Alastair Reynolds
- Ken MacLeod
- Peter Hamilton
- John Scalzi
- Neal Asher
- Chris Moriarty
- Peter Watts
- David Marusek
- Vernor Vinge
June 17, 2007
June 15, 2007
The BBC Press Office gives away some big spoilers for the end of this series of Doctor Who.
June 14, 2007
June 13, 2007
"If this is what Doctor Who is capable of - my god. If only the show could consistently be this good..."I too am usually very forgiving about the crazy Doctor Who plots, but this season has frustrated me. I want 13 fantastic episodes, not 3 or 4.
"Weist [Jerry Weist] -- who spawned the EC fanzine Squa Tront in 1966; served as Sotheby's long-time science fiction auction consultant"A science fiction auction consultant for Sotheby! Wow, that's a job.
"The Huffington Post has learned from a source inside Gawker Media that Gawker plans to launch a new science-fiction-themed title. The source said plans include poaching a writer from "Wired" at a salary of $7,000 a month (near the top of Gawker's salary range) to edit the new blog."Hey! I'll do it for $6000 a month! The question is, can they do a serious SF blog?
June 10, 2007
The I Am Legend trailer is online. I'm sorry that I keep going on about this film but...
I am almost lost for words. They've taken a short, claustrophobic, character based, scary novel and turned it into a large scale disaster movie. YOU'VE MISSED THE POINT.
So you've got New York deserted. So what? 28 Days Later did it with London for thrupence, and it is probably better. Why is it New York? Why is there a spy plane on the roof? Why is the tagline "The last man on earth is not alone"?
After a poor start to the season Doctor Who is back on form, following the great double episode written by Paul Cornell comes an episode entitled Blink, written by Steven Moffat. Moffat has also written three other brilliant Doctor Who episdoes, The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances and The Girl In The Fireplace, some of the best episodes of this entire new regeneration of Doctor Who.
Blink is excellent too. It's a double banker episode ie. one with little of The Doctor and Martha, which allows the production team to squeeze another episode into their filming schedule. But like the previous episode of this nature, Love And Monsters, it allows an interesting and fresh amount of freedom. It's like a mish-mash of Ring and Back To The Future and Doctor Who, and has a sort of Saphire And Steel feel. Great stuff. The monsters? Statues of course, the everyday made scary.
So the solution to get great Doctor Who episodes is clear, get great writers.
June 9, 2007
The positives first. Great writing, evocative language, brilliant worldbuilding, a great sense of place, good characters. Undeniably based on these aspects alone the book is good.
The plot was passable, not gripping, not silly.
The negatives? The book is relentless in it's noir-ness, which ultimately I found depressing, gloomy and off putting. I enjoyed the denouement more than the rest of the book, because by then the characters had sorted themselves out (one way or the other) and more of the larger universe was revealed.
So it's good, and I wanted to like it, but didn't.
June 8, 2007
June 7, 2007
June 5, 2007
June 4, 2007
"The reason I've never been in Analog, Asimov's or Fantasy & Science Fiction is: I don't own a printer."Made me laugh. I hate printing out stories and mailing them to the USA. It's such a pain.
Oh, oh. This sounds bad.
"It's 204,000 words long and the last 4,000 consist of appendices and glossaries. It's so complicated that even in its complexity it's complex. I'm not sure the publishers will go for the appendices, but readers will need them. It's filled with neologisms and characters who disappear for 150 pages and come back, with lots of flashbacks and -forwards. And the story involves different civilisations at different stages of technological evolution. There's even one group who have disappeared up their own fundaments into non-matter-based societies."
Appendices and glossaries. Arrggh.
June 3, 2007
Finally season three of the new Doctor Who produces a couple of good espisodes. The two part story featured in Human Nature and The Family Of Blood was really very good, and far above anything else this season. They were both written by Paul Cornell and based on a Doctor Who novel that he wrote. It shows; the story was, for a start, not stupid, but contained real drama and human emotion. It was probably the most adult episode of the season so far, the kids were probably bored and waiting for a Dalek, but I loved it.
It's a shame it's taken so long for this season to produce a decent episode.