October 2007 Archives

October 31, 2007

NaNoWriMo? IntFlaFiWriMo!

November is NaNoWriMo, that's National Novel Writing Month. Not sure which nation. However, some people don't want to write a novel, for various reasons, and that includes me. Therefore I am unilaterally declaring November to also be International Flash Fiction Writing Month. Yes, that's IntFlaFiWriMo. And as part of IntFlaFiWriMo I'll be publishing a piece of flash fiction every day in November.

The stories will be published on my newly minted writing sub-blog, imaginatively titled James Bloomer.

And never fear, that will be the last of it you'll hear from on this blog (apart from maybe a celebration at the end), and so I will return to normal service of random links and some reviews.

Alanis Morissette gets part in PKD inspired film

"Singer Alanis Morissette has joined the cast of Radio Free Albemuth, based on a book by sci-fi writer Philip K Dick."

The BBC says she is going to play "Sylvia, a woman with cancer who appears in the visions of a record label executive."

Oh.

I haven't read the story (one day I'll have read everything PKD wrote, but that day is a long way away), so can't comment if she's a good fit for the part, but more movies based on PKD stories has got to be a good thing, some of the previous adaptations have been great.

An Americanized Spaced is being produced

Apparently Fox are creating an Americanised versio of Spaced.
Spaced is genius.
The Fox version will be rubbish.
Just buy the DVDs and rejoice.

My story Alone in Every Day Fiction

Every Day Fiction have published their table of contents for November, and my super short story Alone is scheduled to appear on Saturday 3rd November.

There's a feed too, so stories get delivered to your feedreader every day.


October 29, 2007

Y: The Last Man first issue free online

The post apocalyptic graphic novel Y: The Last Man, which has been recommended to me a few times, has it's first issue available online for free. Read it, liked it, want more.

[Via Jed Hartman]

Ewan McGregor not recognised by Star Wars fans

Long Way Down started showing on BBC2 last night, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's trip from John O'Groats to Cape Town. I thought it was highly entertaining, enjoyed it a lot. For the Star Wars geeks you also get Ewan doing Luke Skywalker impressions, telling stories about Tunisia and signing some kids Star Wars DVD's.

In an interview about an upcoming episode I heard Ewan say how when they visited the Star Wars set in Tunisia (well, okay, it's a place that the Star Wars films used, Lucasfilm doesn't own it. Yet.). Ewan was a bit worried that he might be mobbed by the Star Wars fan tourists, but wasn't recognised at all. At which point he started wondering why. he tells it better than I do.


October 26, 2007

The Top 10 Sounds From Star Wars

What often seems to be forgotten about Star Wars is that the sound effects are truly amazing. Someone's done a top 10, watch them and try not to smile.


October 25, 2007

Gattaca

I'm slowly working my way through my Top 10 SF films that I haven't seen. I watched Gattaca last week.

Gattaca is a great film: atmospheric, beautiful, intelligent, some great acting (particularily Jude Law) and it doesn't pretend to not be Science Fiction.

Initially I wasn't sure about the infodumpy voice over at the start, but it's combined with some beautiful cinematic shots and I think in the end it works. The story does what good SF does, intelligently extrapolates an idea, the films core idea being that your genes will determine what you can do in the future. It's not a new idea, but it's handled stylishly.

The last quarter of the film has a large dose of crime thriller thrown in, but it still works.

Despite being generally downbeat and depressing there's a tinge of hope in the film, which is really nice. (Compare that to Children Of Men which was brilliant but left me thoroughly depressed.)

All in all, cool film. Recommended.

Neil Gaiman Scream Acceptance Speech

Neil Gaiman is cool. Look he can talk on TV in front of lots of people and still stay cool.



[Via Neil Gaiman]

October 24, 2007

Infinite Oz

Prompted by Jonathan I actually watched Infinite Oz on the SciFi site all the way through, and it's very nice. Put it full screen, turn off the voices and watch the lovely artwork slide by. Still not sure why you would ever want to remake The Wizard Of Oz though.

October 23, 2007

The World of Star Wars

Yahoo! have a new site, The World Of Star Wars

Starwars.yahoo.com is a Web experience unlike any other: a media-rich, totally personalized, ever-expanding window into the world of Star Wars. Whether online or off, on Yahoo! or on the Internet at large, straight from the source or from the world’s most passionate fans, if it’s related to Star Wars, you’ll find it here.

It's like a Yahoo! social networking site based around Star Wars. You can upload videos, start a blog and do other stuff. It's all a bit frantic and messy for me and I'm not really sure how you use it. But I'm sure some people will.

Cory Doctorow on how to save SF Magazines

Cory Doctorow explains how he would save SF magazines. Worth quoting, again here:

If I were running the mags, I'd pick a bunch of sfnal bloggers and offer them advance looks at the mag, get them to vote on a favorite story to blog and put it online the week before the issue hits the stands. I'd podcast a second story, and run excerpts from the remaining stories in podcast. I'd get Evo Terra to interview the author of a third story for The Dragon Page. I'd make every issue of every magazine into an event that thousands of people talked about, sending them to the bookstores to demand copies -- and I'd offer commissions, bonuses, and recognition to bloggers who sold super-cheap-ass subscriptions to the print editions.

[Via SF Signal]

I've been thinking a lot about SF magazines, and about their comparison to the music industry. There's been much discussion about how giving away free songs works in the music industry. The Artic Monkeys made a name without a record deal etc. The problematic difference that I see is that the music industry has radio stations to do marketing for them. Get your song played on Radio 1 a few times, and even with no record deal you've just had a few million people listen to your music. What's the equivalent for online fiction? There are no radio stations. Maybe it's blogs? Although I can't help feeling that blogs are too distributed, together they add up, but not many have vast audiences. So Cory's idea of aggregating bloggers reactions is, I think, a good idea.

I have a vague image in my mind of an uber-blog aggregating digg style fiction review site. Could that work?


October 22, 2007

Robots attacking T-Shirt

Yet another cool threadless T-Shirt, this time Robots Attack! New World Order - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

BSFA Magazines in the mail today

The July / August/ Autumn issues of the BSFA magazines, Vector, Matrix and Focus arrived in the mail this morning. Always a good read, I shall sit down later with a cup of tea and read them cover to cover. If you've never read them (in other words, not a BSFA member), you should try and peruse a copy or two at the next con.

October 20, 2007

Stephen King's The Mist trailers online

Two trailers for The Mist are online, it's based on a Stephen King story and directed by Frank Darabont, which is the winning combination that brought us The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. The trailer looks good, mist, monsters and lots of people stuck in a supermarket. Everything you need. I can't find any mention of a UK release date yet.

My favourite depiction of a mist in film is the heat haze in The Day The Earth Caught Fire, a symptom mist rather than a cause, but done wonderfully.

October 19, 2007

Ask the Flash Gordon cast and crew a question

SciFi Channel UK are going to start showing the new Flash Gordon in January. They're holding a Q&A session with some of the cast and crew and have asked for questions. So if you have a question you'd like to ask, leave a comment below and I'll pass it on (before 5pm on Monday).

Mine is:
"Can you do a Brian Blessed "Gordon's Alive!" impression?

Here's the list of cast and crew you can ask a question:

Cast

Eric Johnson (Flash Gordon)

Gina Holden (Dale Arden)

Jody Racicot (Dr Zarkov)

John Ralston (Ming)

Karen Cliche (Baylin)

Anna Van Hooft (Aura)

Johnathon Lloyd Walker (Rankol)

 

Crew

Tom Rowe (Executive Producer)

Pascal Verschooris (Producer)

Heidi Samuda (Costume Designer)

Peter Andringa (Production Designer)

Bobbi Allyn-Uhrich (Set Decorator)

David Perun (Prop Master)


Swag! The Invasion

Free stuff! I have some swag for The Invasion to giveaway, courtesy of the UK SciFi channel. I have a handful of caps and T-Shirts, and a couple of posters. The caps are nice quality, black, with The Invasion embroided in red on the front. The T-Shirts are white with "Don't sleep, don't go home, I'll find you, Mom" scrawled on the front in black (from the following scene):



The posters are quite large, and ideal if you like looking at the faces of Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. See below.

 click for large version of The Invasion poster

If you fancy any of these, and are in the UK, send me an email or leave a comment below.

Elisabeth Sladen signing audio-books at Borders

Elisabeth Sladen will be signing copies of the new audio-books The Glittering Storm and The Thirteenth Stone at Borders Oxford Street store on Saturday 27th October, from 2-4pm. That's a week before their national release on 5th November. (But you have to buy the audio books to meet Elisabeth). The books will also be available for download at the usual places.

The audio books are 70 minutes long, presumably they have chapters so you can listen to ten minutes before bed? Or do you have to use old fashioned pause buttons? I've only heard the Doctor Who audio stuff on radio (BBC 7) where the shows were around 45 minutes long, which might be too much for a youngster to concentrate on in one go. (Although on a car journey it is probably okay.)

I was, btw, pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Doctor Who radio stories, very enjoyable.

[Via a BBC press release that I've just rescued from my spam folder. Surely all spam software must flag email from the BBC as pure and true?]

When in Star Wars Galaxies dance to Kenny Loggins

I'm not sure if this means that Star Wars Galaxies is incredibly dull, or whether it maybe has the best dance move abilities, but lots of people in Star Wars Galaxies have been renacting scenes from Footloose.


Fake Star Wars Money

Here's a lovely designed Star Wars bank note. From the First Galactic Empire, with Darth Vader on the front and  signed by Emperor Palpatine. Nice, except for one flaw. The back has the second Death Star, which was surely destroyed, ending the Empire, before they could get the money printed and into distribution. It's in the details.

October 18, 2007

Side by side comparison of the new/old Star Trek cast

Blogowych has a photographic comparison of the original Star Trek cast against the cast from upcoming Star Trek film. Interesting. I can see some similarities in their looks.


BBC cut-backs won't affect Doctor Who

The BBC is going to, unfortunately, suffer some severe cut-backs. (In my opinion because the commercial stations and the Government are trying to undermine its power.) In an interview on Five Live, Director General Mark Thompson has just mentioned a list of quality programmes and included Doctor Who and Life On Mars. So Nu Who is not under threat. However would cut-backs affect such series as Science Fiction Brittania and Comics Brittania? I have a bad feeling it probably does.

And if they hack back the world beating website(s) I'll be really annoyed.

October 17, 2007

Mini Star Wars Lego Models

Here's a site dedicated to building models of Star Wars vehicles in Lego, using the minimum number of pieces. Constraints make the artist and all that. There's a large selection of vehicles from all films, and the expanded universe, and why not? The least number of parts is required by the Bespin Cloud Cars, just three.

October 16, 2007

Star Wars TV Show news

Ain't It Cool News has some information on the live action Star Wars TV show. If you can be bothered to wade through the annoying mushiness of the article there's some interesting bits:

"...we'll revisit Pod Races, and the characters and shenanigans/politics the events bring with them."

"...the overall tone of the show is rather close to the adventurous nature of EPISODEs IV, V, and VI…just a little edgier"

Thanks to Dave for the tip-off (he reads Ain't It Cool so I don't have to).


October 15, 2007

Wii Lightsaber revealed in 11 days

"LucasArts has revealed that the first unveiling of the Wii's new lightsaber will be in just a fortnight's time at Nottingham's GameCity2007."

...according to Stuff Magazine. Admittedly being used in Lego Star Wars and not The Force Unleashed, but still, a Wii Lightsaber!

[Via Dave]

Jim Van Pelt's Seven Sentence Story Contest

I blame Jim Van Pelt for my inability to wrte anything this weekend. I sat down to start a story, as I usually do, and instead of just writing, I started thinking about JVP's plotting exercise, the seven sentence story. Consequently I spent all my writing time trying to think of a plot and got nowhere. Other people had no such problem, see the Seven Sentence Story Contest.


The Fix is online

The Fix, a short fiction review magazine from TTA Press is online and looking very groovy.

"Committed to the comprehensive coverage of short fiction, we’ll review the full spectrum of magazines, webzines, anthologies, and single-author collections. The Fix will also publish feature articles, exclusive interviews, and regular columns on writing, speculative poetry, audiobooks, podcasts, and short film."

And it has a feed, so no excuse to miss anything.
Loads to read.

October 12, 2007

Simon Pegg to play Scotty in new Star Trek film

Sci Fi Wire is reporting, that Variety is reporting, that Simon Pegg will play Scotty in J.J.Abram's new Star Trek film. The Peggster in Star Trek! Not sure how that will work for me, he's done so much funny stuff in the past that I tend to laugh when I see him, regardless of what he is doing.

Which Doris Lessing book should I read?

Seeing as Doris Lessing has won the Nobel Prize For Literature, I think I should read some books of hers. (Is she the first Nobel Laureate who has written SF?)

Does anyone have any recommendations for which of her Science Fiction books I should read?

October 11, 2007

Starship Sofa interviews Andy Hedgecock of Interzone

In (the mammoth) episode 60 of Starship Sofa, the UK SF podcast, Tony and Ciaran talk about Interzone (amongst other tangental ramblings of course). Tony also interviews Andy Hedgecock who is on the editorial board of Interzone. His response to the question of which stories are chosen is very interesting, he emphasises innovation and story telling. Interesting listening if you want to know what goes on behind the slush pile at Interzone.

As ever Tony and Ciaran are entertaining, and talking from the perspective of real grass roots SF fans. Tony ventured the opinion that people were more likely to buy Interzone on a spur of the moment decision if they saw it on the shelf in WH Smiths than fork out the money for a 6 month subscription. The problem is of course that not all WH Smiths stock Interzone, so the suggestion was made to go to your local store and ask them to stock it. Which seems like an excellent idea.

Top 10 List of Top 10 Lists I should write

  1. Top 10 books that I really mean to read but haven't yet.
  2. Top 10 shows I'm watching on TV at the moment.
  3. Top 10 opening paragraphs in SF books.
  4. Top 10 episodes of Red Dwarf.
  5. Top 10 SF film remakes that were actually good.
  6. Top 10 books yet to be released that I'm looking forward to.
  7. Top 10 SF blog entries of the month.
  8. Top 10 writing tips of the year.
  9. Top 10 SF podcasts that I listen to.

October 10, 2007

SciFiChick's Sarah Connor Chronicles Set Tour

SciFiChick has a report of her Sarah Connor Chronicles set tour, with pictures.


Next Terminator film set for 2009

The BBC says that the next Terminator film is set to be released in 2009, so it must be true.

What does not sound encouraging is this:

"Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins will be the first in a proposed trilogy of films reinventing the cyborg saga."
And it needs reinventing why? Because the original films were bad? Are dated? Erm no. So I think it means, we can't match the originals so we'll take the franchise and make something a bit rubbish but cash in because it's a reimagining.

Ikea instructions construct a Stargate

I just knew that there was something suspicious about those Ikea instructions. Obviously, they construct a Stargate.


October 9, 2007

X-wing starfighter model, so close

Just got around to watching the X-Wing launch. Oh so close.

October 8, 2007

October's Ansible online

Apocalyptic survival test results

Talking of the apocalypse, I couldn't resist the test...

Your chance of survival: Preparedness: 54%, City Skills: 57%, Survival Skills: 29%, Nature Skills: 0%

I think it understates my survival chances, because I have a different set of skills, for I am a cyberpunk:


John Joseph Adams on new US SF TV shows

JJA gives some grades to the latest batch of US SF TV shows, which I have tomention because his review of The Bionic Woman made me laugh a lot:

"If I kept watching this show, I'd need some bionic eyes to replace my own, which will have been gouged out."

Jericho - First episode

Last night I, completely by accident, saw the first episode of Jericho. It was hidden away on ITV4, a channel which seems to show old programmes (Space 1999, UFO) or sport that no one else wants. ITV2 seems to be the place where ITV have placed most of their US imports, so it doesn't show much confidence in the show (plus I can't even find a mention on their website).

Anyway, what did I think?
Well, I'm a sucker for apocalyptic stories, so even one mushroom cloud has enough pull to keep me watching. It's an interesting idea, the story of one town cut off in a (presumably) nuclear attack on the USA. However its execution was a bit too sickly sweet small town America for me. The inspirational speech at the end just made me laugh. But I'll still watch the next episode.

Quite a contrast to the British version, Threads, which is going to be reshown on BBC 4 on Wednesday 29 October 2003 10.40pm-12.35am.

October 5, 2007

Facehugger, a detailed picture

Just in case your weren't exactly sure what was going on when those Alien face-huggers jumped on someone's face, here's a very detailed picture. With labels.


October 4, 2007

10 Things that are stupid about The Bionic Woman

I finally watched the first episode of the new Bionic Woman last night. It made me laugh, which is presumably not the desired effect. There were a lot of stupid things about it, here's the top 10:

  1. Surely Jaime Sommers would have seen the original Bionic Woman on TV and therefore know exactly what was going on?
  2. Jaime's angst. No legs or bionic legs? Hmmm. Tough decision.
  3. The fact that a genius scientist who works for a top secret project still lectures at a university.
  4. The bionic eye has really annoying head up display graphics that look like they're from the sniper rifle in Metal Gear Solid. Is that the best they could do?
  5. The super fast running through trees looked silly. Go go gadget legs! I was waiting to see her little arms pumping in a blur. It was like a cartoon. See Return Of The Jedi for how to do speeding through trees properly.
  6. Why do you have to put super weapon chips in her head just to give her new legs?
  7. The fight.
  8. That the secret military base is styled on Stargate. If I made a super-secret military base I'd paint it in bright colours, to make it look pretty.
  9. The "if we let her go it will be better" logic. Unlikely.
  10. The dialogue. The very bad dialogue:
    • "Your hardwired for highly specialised warfare, yes."
    • "Welcome to the game"
    • "The anthracites in our blood can filter out any impurities in our lungs." (Best smoking excuse I've heard for a while.)
    • "Technology is at the point where Science Fiction isn't fiction anymore." (Let me make you up a reading list...)

Charles Stross posting some Halting State chapters

Charles Stross is posting some chapters from his latest novel Halting State online. Here's the prologue. Here's my review of the book.

October 3, 2007

Doctor Who film rumours - not really a rumour, not really news

I don't post every single Doctor Who rumour, because there are roughly 2 gazillion a day. Recently they've all been about Billie Piper, and probably have no truth in them, but seeing as she's getting her kit off on telly people thought they'd write about her.

Today sees a perfect example of the artform of taking a mild comment and making it into a story, by The Guardian.
The BBC controller of fiction, Jane Tranter says:
"I would not rule out a film version of Doctor Who".
..which seems very sensible and not really surprising. The Guardian says:
"BBC considers Doctor Who movie"
...and writes an entire piece about it.

Are they that short for news?

Christopher Ryan gets a part in Doctor Who

The BBC have announced that Christopher Ryan has a part in the new series of Doctor Who.
If you don't like knowing which monsters will appear in the new series, close your eyes...





Continue reading Christopher Ryan gets a part in Doctor Who.

October 2, 2007

The Fix (TTA Press) to relaunch online

The TTA Press website has news that their publication The Fix will relaunch soon online, with:

"in-depth reviews of short form speculative fiction from the full spectrum of magazines, webzines, anthologies, and single-author collections in the industry, plus interviews, a range of features and columns, and insightful articles and observations."

Eugie Foster, formerly of Tangent Online, will be the managing editor.

Sounds good.

Away From Home, another cool SF Threadless T-Shirts

Yet another super cool, SF Threadless T-Shirt. It reminds me what I think was the end of The Martian Chronicles TV series. I say, think, because I was young and just remember someone on Mars watching the Earth explode.

Away From Home - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

October 1, 2007

Cool 2000AD T-Shirts

Joe points to a new batch of 2000 AD T-Shirts at Forbidden Planet. I like them, you can't beat a T-Shirt that has the words "Eat Plutonium Death. You disgusting alien weirdos!" on the front.

The Electric Church - Jeff Somers



The Electric Church by Jeff Somers is one of the rare books that I knew absolutely nothing about before I read it: hand't heard of the author, hadn't read a review, hadn't heard any hype, which is quite a nice experience.

What The Electric Church has in buckets is style. Everything oozes style, the setting, the prose, the characters. The style overwhelms everything. And if you wanted to explain the style it is sort of post(ish)-apocalyptic cyberpunky.

The novel starts with some interesting action, and an interesting setting. Unfortunately things get repetitive quite quickly. The plot tries to drive forward, and kept me turning the page, but by the end it all felt rather empty. There was a lot of action, but that's about all. The ideas were more or less all set out in the first chapter and never developed. The setting can be summed up in a sentence. And apart from one twist near the end which I didn't (couldn't?) guess the plot is almost a Doctor Who episode.

The story is written in first person, which provides some immediacy, but gets tiring quite quickly. There's only so many times I want to hear about how bad the world is or how nasty the cops are, it's all very repetitive. And the main character swears incessantly, there's probably more uses of the word 'fuck' and it's derivatives than I have read in any book since Trainspotting, which again, becomes boring.

The action does reach a crescendo, but one which would be more suited to a Hollywood action film than a novel, lots happening but not much fun to read.

The epilogue chapter was irritating, all it did was set up a sequel. As for the appendix, I didn't even bother reading it.

So, disappointing, which is a shame, because I wanted to like it.

Here's the official website .


Best SF headline of the day

Doctor Who fans beam into town from thisissouthwales.co.uk. Talking about the third Regenerations Doctor Who Convention.