February 2008 Archives
February 29, 2008
Using List Of Bests I have calculated how far through I am in reading all of the winners of the major SF awards:
Winners of the Arthur C Clarke Award for science fiction 52% complete BSFA Award Winners (Novel) 40% complete Hugo Award Winners 30% complete Nebula Award Winners 25% complete
Hmm, I have much work to do.
Tobias Buckell has put the first chapter of Sly Mongoose online. And very entertaining it is too. I think Pepper is the best character from his last two books. If Sly Mongoose has more space action and crazy Pepper antics it will be fun.
io9's The Twenty Science Fiction Novels that Will Change Your Life is interesting. Looks like someone decided that should actually talk about some books for a change, rather than SciFi soft-porn. Not sure that all of these are life-changing books.
I thought it would be nice to add some comments about them, done in the minimal amount of words, as befitting a top twenty list:
Irwin Redlener, MD has tips on surviving a nuke. I knew that boy on the roof in Jericho was doing the wrong thing! Not sure about number 2 though, duck!
Via Boing Boing
Jeff Prucher, editor of Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction has a post up on the Oxford University Press (OUP) blog about the origins of the word Organlegging. Apparently it was Larry Niven who used it first, and unfortunately it appears that the world is catching up with the fiction.
This week's free (e)book from Tor is Robert Charles Wilson's Spin, winner of the 2006 Hugo Award. If you haven't signed up for these, why not? You might as well. My immediate ToRead pile is now too large, again.
As well as the books they also have up wallpaper versions of some of their book covers. This week:
- Todd Lockwood’s cover for To Light a Candle, Book Two of the Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
- Stephan Martiniere’s cover for Escapement by Jay Lake
Although no 1900x1200 size to fit my laptop resolution :-(
February 27, 2008
Via Iain Banks' site
Over on his LiveJournal, science fiction writer Paul Cornell has announced that he has been commissioned to adapt the Iain Banks novella 'State of the Art' into a play for broadcast on BBC Radio 4 later this year.
Ooh, cool. I last read State Of The Art years ago, and I seem to remember that not much happened but it was a cool mood piece. I may have faulty memory. It will probably be aired at a stupid time (afternoon plays?!) but fortunately that's all irrelevant now thanks to the BBC iPlayer (who's radio version will be getting an upgrade soon.)
February 26, 2008
Christian Bale as John Connor? Worth getting your hopes up for? I'll optimistically say yes at this point.
Warner Brothers has set a May 22, 2009, release date for McG's Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, starring Christian Bale
Via SCI FI Wire
It's always cool to see other genre blogs hanging around, even more so if they're UK blogs.
February 25, 2008
Primeval, season 2, ended on Saturday with a smorgasbord of CGI monsters, although all of them were the ones we've seen before, so it was a bit like a greatest hits.
With the whole arc tied up it's more obvious how inconsequential the story is: bad guy wants to rule the world so uses monsters from the future. Hmm. However that entirely misses the point that Primeval is excellent fun. It doesn't take itself too seriously, it has characters I like, it has monsters that don't look stupid, people die every episode (and random people minding their own business too) and it has some time shenanigans (with the potential for lots more).
The only downside is that this series there were no episodes with Hannah from S-Club 7 dancing in her pants. However I think Stephen was topless a few times? So that balances things up across the sexes. In fact Abbey as a character seemed a bit down and too serious this series, don't know what was happening there?
Primeval is family entertainment, something for everyone, and gives the kids something to play whilst Doctor Who is off-air ("Rargghh I'm a Sabre-Tooth Tiger!" etc.)
Another successful series.
Hurrah, Kate gets off her worldwide spanning rampage of lawlessness. Ten years probation doesn't sound too bad for that long list of crimes. I loved Jack's version of events in the trial: they crashed in the water, eight survived, six got off the island. So the six so far are: Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Aaron and ??, and who are the two who are supposed to have died? And who is really alive?
I didn't guess that the baby was Aaron, even though the clues were there, mainly because I was distracted by the amusing Sawyer being domesticated plot thread. So what's happened to Claire?
And meanwhile, Miles, gets to spend time with Ben and all he wants is money. Huh? And what does Kate ask? Not "who are you?" or "tell me what the hell is going on", but "do you know who I am?" Surely one of many wasted opportunities all in the name of mystery?
Locke's still nuts. Bens still imprisoned and beaten up. All is still entertaining.
Interestingly, I think the focus of "what happened?" rather than "will they get off the island?" has made the character stories more enjoyable, and left the mysteries as a mild intriguing back-story. Which is what I've been saying all along really, it's about the question, not the answer.
Another classy episode.
In the future Sayid is an assassin, not much change there then, and he's working for Ben to protect the island. I liked the flash-forward story, I didn't see him working for Ben coming, but it does makes sense. Presumably he's knocking off the Hanso organisation? Either way it makes it clear that the story is about protecting the magical island.
And just to add to the islands magical CV, it appears it's behind some time distorting field thingy-ma-jig, as well as being invisible and hard to find.
Meanwhile Locke tries to be a leader, but has clearly gone power-crazed loopy, and everyone else wonders why he's looking for an invisible cabin. Somehow Ben keeps smiling even though he seems to be tied up and beaten up most of the time.
Nice. I love the dimension that the new flash forwards add, it leaves me constantly wondering "what happened?", not "what will happen".
February 22, 2008
I'm feeling awash with Science Fiction at the moment. I'm usually in the situation where my "want to read" pile/list of books is massive but recently that seems to have been overshadowed by the amount of SF TV to watch: Jericho, Lost, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Primeval, Torchwood, Phoo Action, Being Human, The Last Enemy....
I'm not complaining. It's nice. (Well, except Torchwood.)
Anyway, to bring the focus back to books two I want to read lots arrived in the (e)mail today. Firstly Orbit sent me the paperback of The Execution Channel by Ken MacLeod, secondly Tor sent me (and many other people) a link to a PDF copy of Old Man's War by John Scalzi, with news that Spin by Robert Charles Wilson is next on the list of freebies.
And of course, my feed reader is still overflowing with stuff.
Oh, the woe! The hardship! I better get reading.
The Virgin 1 TV channel is finally diversifying from the endless repeats of Star Trek, and doing it in a rather nice way with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It starts tomorrow night (Friday) at 10pm. Virgin 1 is available via all the digital media which includes Freeview, which is unsurprisingly free. Hurrah!
And you can watch the first episode online right now here.
Meanwhile ITV2 is advertising the start of The Bionic Woman, "coming soon", I think they picked the wrong show this time...
Well I got that wrong. As I was flicking the channels last night what did I come across but Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Virgin 1. I honestly had checked the (quite useless) Virgin 1 website. It looks like it's on tonight again but is it episode 2? Why is it so hard to find out?!
TV Guide says it's on:
10:00pm Fri 22 Feb
8:00pm Sat 23 Feb
9:00pm Mon 25 Feb
11:00pm Wed 27 Feb
Are they all repeats??
I think the official time is Thursdays at 10pm. The official Virgin 1 site has lots of wizzy widgets if you can get it to work (I had problems).
February 21, 2008
Via SCI FI Wire
Leonardo DiCaprio is teaming up with Warner Brothers to produce a live-action film based on the Japanese manga and anime film Akira, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Woah, break out the CGI for the crazy, crazy ending! I'm not entirely convinced why they should bother though, it's been done, as Anime, it was great, leave it alone and think of something new.
Avatar better be good after all this hype:
There's a spirit on this film, an esprit de corps amongst the virtual team, that comes from knowing we're doing something absolutely groundbreaking.
February 20, 2008
The second in BBC3's one off drama series (== pilot shows) was Being Human. (The first was Phoo Action.)
Being Human is the story of a Vampire, who is mates with a Werewolf, they decide to get a flat together and find that it's inhabited by a Ghost.
Surprisingly it was a lot better than it sounds. It stole from everywhere (one particular scene was very American Werewolf In London) but managed to make it feel interesting. It made me laugh. It had large logical inconsistencies. It contained some emotion. And it starred Adrian "Mickey Stone" Lester as a Vampire bad guy.
It left me wanting a series, so I think that's a success.
You can watch it on the BBC iPlayer. Interestingly BBC3 has also started broadcasting it's programmes online, at the same time they are shown on normal TV. True multi-channel delivery. I think they call that "simulcast" but that sounds silly.
The guys over at SF Signal asked me to take part in their latest Mind Meld, so of course I agreed! Go and read why I think Science Fiction is considered a Geek Genre, along with the thoughts of Jay Garmon from Geekend, Kevin J. Anderson, Angela (a.k.a. SciFi Chick), Keith DeCandido, Carl V. from Stainless Steel Droppings and John Scalzi.
And check out the rest of their Mind Meld series whilst you're there, it's all good.
February 19, 2008
The BBC have put some TV programmes up on the UK iTunes store for purchase. So if you're completely mental you can buy Torchwood episodes for £1.89 instead of watching them for free on the TV, or on the BBC iPlayer.
The category browser in the iTunes UK store seems a bit broken, the only shows in "Sci Fi & Fantasy" are Babylon 5 (but bizarrely only season 1 and 2), Night Stalker Season 1 and V: The Complete Series. And yet Lost, the most downloaded TV show on iTunes UK, is filed under "Drama", probably because SF and Drama are mutually exclusive. But it gets stranger, also filed under "Drama" is Wonder Woman!
I'm not exactly sure, why this isn't relevant to men as well as women, but useful anyway in a post-nuclear-apocalypse.
Here's a cool post-apocalyptic picture, part of the Fallout 3 concept artwork.
I love this Threadless T-Shirt. Zawezome!
February 18, 2008
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction now has a blog...
...you’ll find news about the magazine, interviews with our contributors, contests and giveaways, and other fun stuff.
With Gordon Van Gelder and John Joseph Adams doing the posting.
Jericho returns with a seven episode run and a desperate attempt to save its very existence.
(Note that Hallmark apparently has the rights to show Jericho first in the UK, which means that ITV4 won't be able to show season 2 immediately after they finish season (imminently))
I like this cartoon found on sketch-o-rama. They have other entertaining SFish sketches, like an evil Ewok. (Also, as a warning, there are also plenty of cartoon naked breasts which could be considered NSFW).
February 15, 2008
Some snippits (but do go and read the whole thing):
My conclusion is this - It's all Russell T's fault.
I'm sorry but the actors are a poor fit for the role and the characters are not right almost across the board.
Owen - a bit of a twat and therefore reasonably believeable as a technical guy.
"Beyond the Government, Above the United Nations" but apparently well known to everyone they encounter in Cardiff. Due in no small part to the drug dealers Ranger Rover that they nicked and pimped up complete with "Torchwood" emblazoned on the side. WTF?
Made me laugh (if I cared perhaps I would also cry, but I'm beyond caring).
I like it.
For all the reasons previously stated. The last few episodes, telling the tale of the war with New Bern, were the most disappointing for me in Science Fictional terms, but I can't deny that they were entertaining, and by then I really cared about the characters. It was less SF because it had basically devolved into a Western, with frontier towns and lawlessness overtaking the importance of living in a post-nuclear country.
I was also worried that the Hawkins plot would evolve into a sub-standard 24, all thriller with no heart and no SF, and it remains to be seen how that will play out in Season 2. But Hawkins did add an urgent plot amidst the struggling for survival and normality stories.
If Jericho had ended after Season 1 I would have been satisfied, the final episode ending in a blaze of guns and a black screen was very Butch and Sundance, but actually quite satisfying. After all the struggle against nature it comes down to man fighting man for survival.
I'm looking forward to Season 2.
February 14, 2008
This should be good but...
The only Ballard I had previously read was Cocaine Nights, which though entertaining and weird was not exactly Science Fiction. So I was looking forward to The Drowned World (and yet another apocalypse).
What hit me first was the evocative writing, it's really dense, and provides a great image of what the world has become: a flooded, steamy jungle. The reason for the apocalypse is never explained, there are hints: a larger sun, a mention of Russia and America; but otherwise it's a mystery. And it's not a recent sudden apocalypse, with stories of populations shifting northwards and gradual flooding, giving the impression that the human race tried to fight, but in the end were overcome. It's all very trendy given the current concerns over the planet warming up.
The main plot follows Kerans, a researcher, as he slowly comes to realise that he doesn't want to return north from the expedition they are on. I found the plot quite weak, atmospheric yes, but not driving enough. I needed to force myself to read on, and despite the novel being thin (a mere 175 pages), it's taken me ages to finish it. I think this is because I just didn't care about the apathetic characters. But their apathy is part of the plot, they are regressing back in time to prehistoric creatures, who can do without social company.The arrival of a boat full of pirates (with alligators in tow) livens things up a bit, and there's a nice set piece that arises out of this, but overall the plot is subservient to the mood.
As for the message, it left me confused. Give up and adapt? Or you can't fight evolution and the memories buried in your genetic past? I don't know.
So, it was interesting, but not gripping.
I should also note that the most recent reprint has a recent interview with Ballard included at the end, along with an article from the sixties; which are interesting.
February 13, 2008
It was funny and crazy, had bright primary colours like the sixties version of Batman, it had kung-fu fighting, a cool car, a great soundtrack, some dancing, blue mutants and William and Harry Windsor. Also, in a crazy genius twist, the Buddha's loincloth mutated into a pair of white hotpants (see picture) out of which objects could be magically pulled.
I hope they make a series because this show could become a classic. If you're in the UK it's on the BBC iPlayer for this week, I recommend it. If you're elsewhere you'll have to make do with the trailer which doesn't really capture the humour.
February 12, 2008
Not only has Lucasfilm produced a CGI TV series of The Clone Wars but has also created a film too, to be shown in real life cinemas:
A new era of Star Wars entertainment begins in 2008 when Star Wars: The Clone Wars, from creator George Lucas, premieres as an all-new feature film in August, followed by the television series debut in the fall,
Star Wars: The Clone Wars will open in North American theaters Friday, August 15. International release dates will be announced soon.
Via the Official Star Wars site.
Cool. I loved The Clone Wars animated series, lots of big crazy action battles, and so I am officially excited about the new CGI version.
February 11, 2008
Jamie Bell was interviewed on Jonathan Ross's show on Friday night and he talked about Jumper. At one point he explained that they had a discussion with the director (or was it writer?) about the rules of jumping. He proceeded to list them:
- You can only jump there if you've been there before
- If you touch something it goes with you
I was waiting for an Alfred Bester namecheck, surely The Stars My Destination would be quoted as at least an influence? Nope.
Boo, hiss etc.
I haven't seen Jumper (it opens in the UK on 14th February), but watched one of those extended advert with clips of the trailer shows about it and feel I probably know the entire plot now. However, still fancy seeing it because it has cool teleport effects.
Update : SFSignal has reviews of the Jumper novels upon which the film was based (and which I knew nothing about).
I know what it's all about.
It's suddenly clear
February 8, 2008
The Times has their list of top 10 modern scifi movie clichés, and they combined it with YouTube links to provide a virtual movie....
- A virus has decimated the population…
- …a virus that makes people insanely strong..
- ..which can only be resolved by a sassy female Special Forces operative..
- …who’s helped by a slumming British Thesp..
- …who explains the Pop Science..
- ..which has made the whole world go a bit ‘Mad Max’..
- ..except for the chief villain..
- ..who will take the sassy lead’s gun away..
- ..and don’t forget the product placement.
I hate to be picky, well actually I don't, I enjoy it so I'm going to be. Firstly, aren't some of these tropes, not clichés? (Well, maybe just the one?) Secondly when the article says:
"A mysterious virus has wiped out one tenth of mankind’ the producer will instantly start thinking ’28 Days Later’ and a nice quiet shoot."
That's not exactly how it happened. In 28 Days Later they had to painstakingly remove people digitally and for I Am Legend they caused complete chaos by closing a chunk of downtown New York. Never underestimate filming after the apocalypse.
In parts it was funny, and the overall production is good, including decent acting, but I'm not sure it makes any sense other than as an 80's police show. Zippy, George and the scary Bowie Clown all seemed unnecessary and forced.
February 7, 2008
BBC3 has a new TV series starting soon called Phoo Action:
Based on characters created by Jamie Hewlett (Gorillaz, Tank Girl) for The Face comic strip Get The Freebies, Phoo Action is set in 2012, when London is in the grip of mutant criminals, The Freebies.
Have a look at The MySpace.com Phoo Action site to see a trailer. It looks completely insane, like 60's Batman crossed with flashbacks from The Prisoner.
It starts on Tuesday 12th Feb at 9pm.
February 6, 2008
"I can't carry on like this forever. The only place for me to go from here is back to six-parters or one-offs that won't have the publicity, the merchandise, the budget, the profile. And I'm so looking forward to it."
It probably doesn't help that every sentence he utters gets reported in the the newspapers and then echoed around the world in a thousand blogs. Oh.
Anyway, the real news is in the comment left at the bottom of that page:
I THINK DAVID TENNANT IS BRILLIANT, GOOD LOOKING. AND I WOULD LOVE TO MEET HIM & HIS GIRLFRIEND VERY MUCH. HI IS A GOOD DOCTOR WHO. LOVE TO THEM BOTH. CHRISSIE.xxxxxxxxxxx.
MISS CHRISSIE M EDWARDS, DONCASTER, S/YORKSHIRE
For a while, I thought that Life On Mars was going to turn into real Science Fiction, but despite the entertaining triple bluff ending, it didn't really. And now all semblance of internal consistency is (probably) being thrown out the window by making a sequel, which is exactly the same as Life On Mars, but set in 1981.
It's 1981 and DCI Gene Hunt is back and he's swapped his Ford Cortina for an Audi Quattro, but is the 'The Manc Lion' we met in Life on Mars turning soft?
February 5, 2008
You can vote by email....
Any book is eligible if it
- meets our definition of a "book",
- is in some way related to "speculative fiction", and
- was released in the 2007 calendar year
Don't hold your breath if you're expecting your Doctor Who rants and Torchwood tirades to change anything, RTD isn't listening:
"I'm sorry to say this, all the science fiction producers making stuff in America, they are way too engaged with their fandom. They all need to step back."
February 4, 2008
Lost is back. Hurrah, and hooray, and hurrah again.
Before I start, for the record, I will be discussing spoilers, but only after the UK showing on Sunday nights. So if you Sky+ it beware.
February 1, 2008
The birthday anthology is titled Celebration and includes original stories from:
Brian Aldiss, Stephen Baxter, Molly Brown, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, M. John Harrison, Dave Hutchinson, Ian R. MacLeod, Ken MacLeod, Christopher Priest, Adam Roberts, Alastair Reynolds, Kim Lakin-Smith, Martin Sketchley, Brian Stableford, Tricia Sullivan, Ian Watson, Liz Williams and an introduction from Pat Cadigan.
The anthology is edited by Ian Whates and has rather groovy artwork by Vincent Chong.
[Via Ian but also now posted on the BSFA forums]
Torque Control has the full table of contents.
Often, films with great trailers never live up to them. Cloverfield had a genius trailer, full of mystery, which sparked a viral avalanche of interest. So that doesn't bode well, right?
Never fear. Because Cloverfield is highly entertaining.
It's not original, by any stretch of the word original, but it takes old tropes and uses them in a fresh way, like a lot of good Science Fiction.
The BBC Press Office has news that Doctor Who trailers are going to be shown in UK cinemas...
An exclusive trailer of the eagerly awaited new series of BBC One's BAFTA Award-winning drama Doctor Who breaks today in cinemas across the UK.
The deal, which covers 837 Odeon screens, 736 Cineworld screens and 142 Empire screens, will see a 90-second trailer of the new series shown before some of the most anticipated new releases including Cloverfield, Juno, John Rambo and There Will Be Blood.
That'll be interesting to see (hope they filmed it in HD).