June 2007 Archives

June 29, 2007

US SF shows on UK TV - who's bought what

Martin McGrath has news of new UK TV channel purchases.

  • Bionic woman -> ITV
  • Pushing Daisies -> ITV
  • Two more seasons of Supernatural -> ITV2
  • Reaper -> Channel 4
  • Journeyman -> Sky
  • The Sarah Connor Chronicles -> Virgin 1
I wonder what the delay between the US broadcast and the UK broadcast will be? Because if you want to discuss shows online you have to be uptodate with the latest episode, wherever that may have been broadcast.

June 28, 2007

Brasyl UK edition design

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... 

Is Firefly Good Science Fiction?

I can't resist joing in the Why Firefly is not good Science Fiction discussion.
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
There you go. Easy. Who said blogs couldn't do in-depth critical analysis?

June 27, 2007

BBC iPlayer to launch next month

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.

Deciding what to read next? Ask a SF blogger

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.

zom-bot.com

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!

 

 

Babylon 5 : The Lost Tales teaser trailer

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

Bikini Clad Woman on a Flying Robot

Another SF Threadless T-Shirt...

Flying Robot? Yes.
Bikin Clad Woman? Yes.

Diodes are a Girls Best Friend - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Blade Runner is 25

Happy birthday Blade Runner, you still rock (director's cut of course). (And Blade Runner, like the Queen, has two birthdays, the UK one is the 9th September).

A Reading Bookshelf

I want one of these

Sf looking bookcase furniture. What could be better? 

[Via the Amazon Bookstore Blog. ]

Doctor Who Radio Times covers

The Radio Times has two Doctor Who covers this week, Outpost Gallifrey has the details. Also...
Continue reading Doctor Who Radio Times covers.

June 25, 2007

Doctor Who Trailers and Americanised English

The BBC Doctor Who points to the new Doctor Who trailer for the "season finale". Season Finale!?!?! Since when did the BBC use language like that. Surely that's American and not English? Shouldn't it be "Series End" or something?

Literally Everything

The introduction to Book Zone Tv made me laugh (Dave Langford has probably mentioned it already in "As Others See Us")
"We cover every genre: novels, SciFi, history, biographies, childrens books....literally everything"
(Cue the punchline cymbal crash)

Charles Stross video interview

Charlie Stross has a video interview up on Book Zone Tv. He gives a five minute overview of The Attrocity Archive, and is, as usual, entertaining. He managed to get the buzz words in too "supernatural detective story" seeming to be the hottest at the moment. Also, all in black, he looks like an absence of Charles Stross, a void in the scenery (well, on my screen he does anyway.) [Via Orbit Books]

Hyperdrive - new series

Hyperdrive, the unfuniest thing ever to contain Nick Frost returns to BBC 2 in two weeks (7-13 July). No confirmed time or date yet. The BBC says:
"The critically acclaimed and international award-winning sci-fi comedy Hyperdrive returns to BBC Two for another series."
Not sure which critics they were.

Stargate Tweeters

David Hewlett, who plays Dr. Rodney McKay on Stargate: Atlantis has Twitter account. (What's the word for a Twitter blog thingy? A Twit? A Twitter?) I feel a new list coming on. SF people who Tweet.

 UPDATE

Can Ev, Biz or someone else from Twitter answer that question?

June 24, 2007

Doctor Who - The Sound Of Drums

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.

SPOILERS!

 

Continue reading Doctor Who - The Sound Of Drums.

June 23, 2007

Glasshouse - Charles Stross

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

Scalpel magazine ends

Oh dear, that didn't last long, Scalpel Magazine closes.

June 21, 2007

John Simm on Doctor Who

More Doctor Who news from the BBC because : (a) It keeps popping into my feed reader (b) I'm very excited about this weeks Doctor Who. There's spoilers if you live in a cave and don't know what's going on....
Continue reading John Simm on Doctor Who.

Vote Saxon trailers on YouTube

Sharon Osbourne, Ann Widdicombe and McFly say Vote Saxon!

(Is that the best PR he could get?) 

 

OrbitBooks.net

I just went and had a "real life" look at www.orbitbooks.net, rather than just reading their feed, and was pleasantly surprised, it's a very slick site (that's good), nice clean design, decent content. Cool. The only downside is that their publishing schedule is a pdf, html would be better, however it does let me know that Matter by Iain M Banks is published on the 7th Feb next year, in hardback and trade paperback and Halting State by Charles Stross is published on 17th Jan in trade paperback.

Now that's a panel

Views from Medina Road talks about the Locus Awards Weekend (2007), and mentions the panel "Thinking About the World" with Vernor Vinge, Greg Bear, and Neal Stephenson, moderated by Charles N. Brown. Woah. Now that's a panel.

Cowboys & Aliens, the film

Sci Fi Wire talks about how " DreamWorks and Universal Pictures will join to turn the graphic novel Cowboys & Aliens into a live-action feature film". I know nothing about the Cowboys & Aliens comic, but it's such a cool name I ahd to find out some more. Here's the website.

Everyone' s watching the Doctor Who clips

From the BBC Doctor Who site...
"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?

Jeff VanderMeer has a new looking site

Ecstatic Days is Jeff VanderMeer's new, all encompasing new website. And very nice it looks too.
"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

Doctor Who Season 3 in the USA

Via Outpost Gallifrey, Season 3 of the new Doctor Who has an airdate on the SciFi Channel. 6th July at 8pm, starting with The Runaway Bride.

Holy Bat Bike, Batman!

It's the new bat-bike.

 

Via Forbidden Planet 

June 18, 2007

BSFA AGM

It was the BSFA AGM this weekend, up in Sheffield. I didn't go, but Niall did and he has some notes. There are also some other posts about the day.

SF Discussion as art

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

Locus Awards

The Locus Awards Winners have been announced. Here's a short selection of the winners...
  • 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)

Top 10 science fiction novelists of the '00s

Marc Andreessen has an interesting list of the "Top 10 science fiction novelists of the '00s -- so far". The list is:
  • Charles Stross
  • Richard Morgan
  • Alastair Reynolds
  • Ken MacLeod
  • Peter Hamilton
  • John Scalzi
  • Neal Asher
  • Chris Moriarty
  • Peter Watts
  • David Marusek
  • Vernor Vinge
I'd add Ian McDonald to that list.

June 17, 2007

Vote Saxon

HAROLD SAXON - Vote Saxon!

Personally, I don't trust him.

Doctor Who - Utopia

Utopia. Now that is what I've been waiting for!

SPOILERS!!

 

 

Continue reading Doctor Who - Utopia.

June 15, 2007

Doctor Who finale spoilers

The BBC Press Office gives away some big spoilers for the end of this series of Doctor Who.

Sounds awesome.

 

Continue reading Doctor Who finale spoilers.

June 14, 2007

SF Signal's Zombie podcast

Just got to link to this, SF Signal: Inane-cast #2: Darned Zombies and Me..., because it made me laugh so much.

Zombie Apocalypse Over

It's over. The zombies are gone. I survived by going to a small children's circus (clown's are too scary for zombies) and then going to the pub. This may now become my official Zombie Contigency Plan, seeing as I've field tested it and survived. I never had to blow up the stairs. Which is nice.

Sci Fiction still readable via The Wayback Machine

The SciFi Channel are taking down the Sci Fiction archive. Some people are sad. However, to make your day a little better, you can still read everything due the wonderous Internet Archive's WayBack Machine. Here's the last archive, here are all the archives.

June 13, 2007

Zombie Update

I've just heard (whilst visiting the Village Shop) that there have been zombies around here. Fortunately they've all decided to commute into London.

Zombies

Apparently there are zombies everywhere. In a pleasant change from recent fiction I'm happy to report that rural(ish) central(ish) England appears to be free from zombies.

Phew.

I've rigged the stairs to blow just in case. Remember everyone, this isn't the movies, zombies can't climb well.

Lou Anders on Blink and Doctor Who

Lou Anders sums up quite succinctly how I feel about this season of Doctor Who.
"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.

"Blink" Doctor Who story online

Steven Moffat's short story - originally published in the 2006 Doctor Who Annual - upon which Blink is based, is now online, entitled "What I Did On My Christmas Holidats" By Sally Sparrow

Cool job : science fiction auction consultant

From OregonLive.com:
"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.

Gawker starting SF blog

Wow, SF must be cool at the moment or something, Gawker Geeks Out With New Sci-Fi-Themed Blog. That's Gawker, the nano-publishing empire of Nick Denton, who's blogs include the very popular Gizmodo and Lifehacker blogs.
"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

I Am Legend trailers

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"?

Why?

Why?

Grrrarrghhhrfgrrrsagshjgsdjghd.

Doctor Who - Blink

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.

Don't blink!

So the solution to get great Doctor Who episodes is clear, get great writers. 

 

  

June 9, 2007

Nova Swing - M. John Harrison

After all the rave reviews and awards I was very excited about reading Nova Swing by M. John Harrison. I really enjoyed Light (Nova Swing is a kind of sequel), so what could go wrong. Hmm, well unfortunately I didn't really like it.

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

Bionic Woman clips

NBC has a preview of The Bionic Woman online. No slow motion and der-der-de-derrr music in sight. And it actually looks quite good, although not sure about the token vulnerable family member to protect. Michelle Ryan does (to my ears) a passable American accent, which is weird after being used to her as a cock-a-nee in Eastenders, cor blimey guvnor, strike a light etc., and then even weirder when you watch the interview with her and she's got a super posh accent, darling. I guess that's good acting then. Oh and the clip has her fighting Katee Sackhoff. Fight!

I Am Legend film poster

Here's the poster for the I Am Legend film. (It's called a one-sheet in the biz.) I don't know how many times I have to say it, but I have a bad feeling about that film, and the bad feeling says it's going to be rubbish.

June 7, 2007

Heroes on the BBC

The BBC now has a site for Heroes. Not much on it yet, and no sign of an air date. It just says "Coming this Summer to BBC TWO".

Son of Le Carré gets £300,000 for SF novel

Son of Le Carré gets £300,000 for his first novel. And guess what? It's a post apocalyptic SF novel. David Cornwell is his name, his mother is Valérie Jane Eustace, a Hodder & Stoughton book editor. "I wish people didn't know about the family connection," said Mr Walsh (his agent). Yeah, right. [Via Geoff Nelder]

June 5, 2007

June's Ansible is online

Ian McDonald podcast interview

Small World Podcast has a nice interview with Ian McDonald, talking about Brasyl and more. [Via Pyr-o-mania]

Tobias Buckell needs data for this years Author Advance survey

Tobias Buckell did a great survey in 2005 where he gathered data from authors about advances received for their novels. Then he did graphs. Cool. He wants your data again, for a new updated version. Go to Author Advance Survey and enter stuff if you've ever sold a book.

CAN SCIENCE FICTION BEAT BIN LADEN?

Yes, that is indeed the Daily Express's headline for the "Greg Bear helps out Homeland Security" story. Hmmm. Any guesses on the Daily Mail version?

June 4, 2007

Doctor Who series 4 writer announced

The Doctor Who site has announced the writers for series 4. Unfortunately it includes writers of episodes I particularily disliked : Helen Raynor (Daleks In Manhattan / Evolution Of The Daleks), Gareth Roberts (The Shakespeare code), Tom MacRae (Rise Of The Cybermen / The Age Of Steel) and Stephen Greenhorn (The Lazarus Experiment). On the plus side Steven Moffat will try and top his The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances story. And yes, series four of Doctor Who starts filming soon.

What's the best reason not to submit to Asimov's?

John scalzi:
"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.

Iain Banks does appendices

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

Doctor Who - Human Nature and The Family Of Blood

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.

Doctor Who to end in 2008

The Sun says Doctor Who will end in 2008. Whilst I generally disbelieve everything The Sun publishes I wouldn't be surprised if the crew wanted a rest after 4 years. Apparently BSG is going to end next year as well, but no one is watching any more to care.