May 2008 Archives

May 30, 2008

F&SF July 2008

Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine have just sent out another batch of review copies to bloggers, and they were nice enough to send me one, so here's my review of F&SF July 2008.

Look and Feel
First off I should say that I've never read a copy of F&SF before, although I've read many of the Hugo nominated stories published in it that get posted online. It's not a magazine that appears on the shelves of UK newsagents and so subscription is the only real way to get it, unless you opt for an ebook version (and I have no decent ebook reader). Picking up the magazine it feels strangely foreign: the digest format, the strange retro adverts, the book quality paper. It's completely different to the average UK magazine and a million miles away from the super slick 21st century Interzone. However, it's nice to read, book sized to hold, book-like print and font, the only annoyance the cardboard subscribe form in the middle.

Now onto the content.

Continue reading F&SF July 2008.

May 29, 2008

10 SF Facts That Require No Further Explanation

  1. Star Wars is better than Star Trek
  2. No SF film adaptation is ever as good as the book.
  3. Maifestos and Movements come and go, good stories remain.
  4. Cricket + SF do not mix well.
  5. Media will always label SF fans as geeks.
  6. SF film remakes are never as good as the original
  7. Modern SF literature is awesome.
  8. We will never get jetpacks.
  9. SF will never die.
Continue reading 10 SF Facts That Require No Further Explanation.

May 28, 2008

Lost Boys - James Miller

Lost Boys (UK / US) is the debut novel by James Miller, published by Little Brown. It's being marketed as a mainstream novel, but the Little Brown people obviously think it has borderline SFF elements that may appeal to Science Fiction and Fantasy fans.

Continue reading Lost Boys - James Miller.

May 26, 2008

The Postman - David Brin

My only encounter with David Brin's novels before The Postman (UK / US) was Sundiver (UK / US), which I didn't like very much. I had however seen the Kevin Costner film adaptation, which I thought wasn't too bad. Either way it was on my Apocalypse Watch reading list, so I read it.

Continue reading The Postman - David Brin.

May 22, 2008

Terminator Producers Answer Questions

The BBC has a video interview with the producers of the new Terminator films, asking the questions that commenters on the BBC website asked. The interview took place at Cannes, where the whole film world is flogging themselves at the moment.

Continue reading Terminator Producers Answer Questions.

May 21, 2008

Highlander Remake ARGGGH!

Please don't do it!

Highlander Remake Gets Iron Man Writers

Feel free however to wipe all the other Highlander films from existence.

[Cheers to Sam for the link.]

Ask Terminator Producers A Question

It appears that it's confirmed that Christian Bale has signed up for all three of the new Terminator films...

Christian Bale is to play rebel leader John Connor in three sequels to the Terminator franchise, its producers have revealed.

The Welsh-born star, who is soon to be seen in Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight, has already started shooting the first of those films, Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins.

Via The BBC

Also on that page is a form with which to ask a question, and some of them will be put to the producers of the films, Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek.

Steven Moffat Takes Charge Of Doctor Who

In a move that surprisingly matches all the wishes of fans, the BBC has named Steven Moffat as The Man In Charge Of Doctor Who, starting from the 2010 series.

BBC Wales and BBC Drama has announced that Bafta and Hugo Award winning writer Steven Moffat will succeed Russell T Davies as Lead Writer and Executive Producer of the fifth series of Doctor Who, which will broadcast on BBC One in 2010.

This is excellent news. I have to congratulate Russell T Davies on his enthusiasm and love of Doctor Who, and for actually making the Nu Who happen in the first place. I am, however, getting a little tired of RTD's stories, and so a new regime seems like a very good thing. (And does a Moffat penned series tempt Tennant to stay? Could be.)

Moffat has written in the past for: Press Gang, Coupling and Jekyll. Oh, and he wrote a couple of decent Doctor Who episodes too.

"My entire career has been a Secret Plan to get this job," said Steven Moffat. "I applied before but I got knocked back cos the BBC wanted someone else. Also I was seven. Anyway, I'm glad the BBC has finally seen the light, and it's a huge honour to be following Russell into the best - and the toughest - job in television. I say "toughest" cos Russell's at my window right now, pointing and laughing."

Hurrah. BBC, you are the champions.

May 19, 2008

Lost, Season 4, Episode 12

It's building to the season end at a frenetic pace.

Spoilers Ahead....

Continue reading Lost, Season 4, Episode 12.

Lost, Season 4, Episode 11

Cabin Fever strengthens the concept of destiny within the Lost universe, because this episode is about Locke's destiny. Which it appears, is to be The Island's saviour, as he always knew (although I thought he was just crazy). Interestingly though it appears that Locke is not exactly the person the Others expected him to be, or were looking for. It's almost as if The Island chooses a guardian for a given time, or circumstance. And Abaddon's interference in Locke's life is strange, it gives him hope, and causes him to end up on The Island. Yet if Locke is to be the saviour of The Island, why did Abaddon, who works for Whidmore, help him?

So much intrigue still! And I have no idea what is going on with Jacob, the Cabin and Claire's Father.

I still believe it's about who "owns" The Island. And I still think that there are two sides. I just don't know who the sides really are.

Awesome stuff.

Doctor Who - The Unicorn And The Wasp

It's one of the funniest and silliest Doctor Who episodes I've ever seen: Doctor Who does 1920's Agatha Christie Cluedo.

Continue reading Doctor Who - The Unicorn And The Wasp.

New Dollhouse Trailer

The new (final?) Dollhouse trailer is pretty groovy. I reckon there's some serious SF potential in this show.

Via io9

May 16, 2008

Dollhouse Sneak Peek

Here's a clip from Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. The programme sounds quite exciting but the clip doesn't give much away.

Paul McAuley Posts The Blurb From The Quiet War

Paul McAuley has posted the blurb from his upcoming novel The Quiet War, and it sounds very cool "exotic, fast-paced space opera". Here's the first paragraph:

Twenty-third century Earth, ravaged by climate change, looks backwards to the holy ideal of a pre-industrial Eden. Political power has been grabbed by a few powerful families and their green saints. Millions of people are imprisoned in teeming cities; millions more labour on pharaonic projects to rebuild ruined ecosystems.

Iain M. Banks Interview On

Iain M. BanksCNN has interviewed Iain Banks and the result is online.








"It's pretty great being a human in the Culture, with the drug glands and enormously long orgasms. You can change sex if you want to, and you have total control over pain, and blister-free callusing. That wasn't one of mine, that was Ken MacLeod, my chum and fellow SF scribbler -- "I've just thought of a good improvement for the human body: Blister-free callusing!" -- so I made a particular point of putting that in ..."

A Star Wars Wedding


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Via CrunchGear

My question is how on earth the Groom persuaded the Bride to do that? (Assuming stereotypes.)

May 15, 2008

Darth Vader, Made From Letters


Via Neatorama

Very cool. Also on that page, a Death Star.

Life On Mars, The US Version

Yes, it's a clip from the US version of Life On Mars.

Okay, two questions that bemuse me about US TV:

  1. Why do US broadcasters feel the need to remake UK TV shows?
  2. When will they learn that voice-overs are cheesey?

On (1) is perhaps that they patronisingly assume all Americans are stupid and won't get a UK show? Or is it a money thing, and they get more if they remake it?

On (2) probably never.

Via io9

May 14, 2008

Doctor Who Knitting Disaster Hits Big Time

The Doctor Who knitting fiasco has hit the big time now, promoted from blogs to the proper BBC News site: Dr Who fan in knitted puppet row

Nice headline.

Mazzmatazz says:

"I'm just an ordinary fan, who happens to like knitting and sci-fi, and everything has just gone a bit crazy"

The BBC said:

"If you don't protect your trademark, it's taken away from you. And Doctor Who is massive for the BBC. It's up to us to earn money from it so we can re-invest it in the BBC"

The the Open Rights Group said:

"She doesn't feel she's doing anything wrong yet she's being threatened with legal action."

Reach for your needles and pick a side.

Performance Issues Eased

The performance issues with this blog should be eased now, thanks to some awesome support from my hosting company, They moved it to a faster server!

I'll also be taking the Movable Type performance release, when it's released, and maybe investigate using FastCGI.

But in the meantime, leaving a comment should be more pain free (but drop me a mail if it isn't).

May 13, 2008

Peter Fonda in New America

It's a new SF show, it's on (and made by?) the Sci-Fi Channel and it's got Peter Fonda in it. Really? Yes.

Peter Fonda has joined the cast of SCI FI Channel's upcoming two-hour pilot Revolution, about a planet colonized by humans, Mark Stern, executive vice president of original programming, told SCI FI Wire.

Oscar nominee Fonda plays the patriarch grandfather of the Hart family, which has taken over "New America," a planet 50 light-years from Earth. The pilot also stars Billy Campbell, David Smith, Steve Sandvoss, Brooklyn Sudano and Rowena King.

New America is a colony settled by the "United State of America" on a planet resembling our own. The pilot centers on the Hart family, one of the founding families of New America.

Could be decent, could be rubbish. Not much detail on the actual plot (rather than the concept).

Via Dave

May 12, 2008

The Telegraph on the Arthur C Clarke awards

The Telegraph compares the Arthur C. Clarke award and the Man Booker Prize:

One obvious distinction between the Arthur C Clarke Award, for the best science fiction novel published in Britain the previous year, and the Man Booker is that a lot of people care, a lot.

...and then goes on to discuss why mainstream readers don't read SF:

None of this is to pretend that there is not an awful lot of tosh produced under the label science fiction. But if you will not read a novel because it is set on another planet, or has a robot in it, you are cutting yourself off from some of the most exciting and urgent writing now being produced.

As Geoff Ryman reminded me at last week's bash, opponents of science fiction always use the worst examples of it as evidence of its worthlessness as a form. But then look at what an awful lot of very bad fiction of other sorts there is, too. This response is known as Sturgeon's Law (devised by the SF writer Theodore Sturgeon): "90 per cent of science fiction is crud, but then 90 per cent of everything is crud."

You needn't become a Jedi or read Star Wars novelisations, but if you are interested in fiction at all, you should embrace a little geekiness. We are living, after all, in the world the geeks made, and you will find no better guide to understanding it and changing it than in science fiction.

Steven Moffat Wins BAFTA For Blink


Doctor Who scriptwriter Steven Moffat has won this year's British Academy Television Award for Best Writer.

It's in recognition of his Doctor Who Series Three script for Blink.

Via the BBC.

Hurrah. Although were these the BAFTA's that weren't on the TV, or did I miss them? How many BAFTA shows are there now?

Doctor Who - The Doctor's Daughter

The Doctor's Daughter takes what could have been a cringey idea and actually does a pretty good job, making it one of the most enjoyable episodes of the series.

"Hello, Dad!"

Spoilers Ahead

Continue reading Doctor Who - The Doctor's Daughter.

May 11, 2008

Eric Brown reviews Reynolds, Scalzi, Whates and Smith in The Guardian

Eric Brown's latest batch of SF book reviews are online in the Guardian. He has short reviews of:

  • House of Suns, by Alastair Reynolds 
  • The Ghost Brigades, by John Scalzi
  • Celebration, edited by Ian Whates
  • The Servants, by MM Smith
They're short, but a review is better than no review.

May 9, 2008

Orbit announces expansion plans

Somehow all the publishing news always seems to be bad, fewer books being bought, shorter author lists at publishers, less shelf-space for SFF. And yet, Orbit seem to be doing okay, so much so that they've just announced expansion plans...

In the US, Orbit is going to double the size of the list over the next 3 years, taking its title output to 70-80 titles per year by 2011. In the UK, where Orbit is already the biggest SFF imprint, it will increase the size of the list by approximately 10% each year over the next three years.


Iain Banks Pleased With Radio Adaptation Script

Via a post by Paul Cornell's, which highlights a load of stuff he's doing he mentions...

Iain Banks has now taken a look at the recording script of my BBC Radio 4 adaptation of his novella ‘The State of the Art’ and pronounces himself pleased. Any awfulness, of course, remains my own, and is not his responsibility. We’re now into the exciting process of casting, news of which I shall share with you when I can, and will be recording in a few weeks, for broadcast early next year.

Cool. I'm pretty excited about that. I wonder whether to read it again first, it's been a while, or maybe having forgot the details might be a nice way to hear the radio version?

Also in that post, Paul mentions an interview with Grant Morrison (who I still think of as "that guy from 2000AD who wrote Zenith" because I'm so out of touch with comics), where he talks about Doctor Who; interesting summation of the first three series.

SF as a Literary Genre symposium summary

Niall has a detailed summary of the Science Fiction as a Literary Genre Symposium which was held in London yesterday.

Or, if you want a brief summary, Paul has a Tweet about it.

There should be video up on the website, sooner or later.

Slow Performance

I'm experiencing some slow performance with this site. It's noticeable when anything calls a cgi script ie. comments, searching tags etc. I'm looking into it.

And before anyone recommends some other blog engine or technology, try running PHP without mod_php and you'll see what the problem is. And yes I should use FastCGI etc. etc.

May 8, 2008

Geoff Ryman's Mundane-SF radio interview now in mp3

Geoff Ryman was interviewed (briefly) on Radio 4, for Front Row, about the Mundane Science Fiction movement. That interview has now been converted to MP3 for all to hear. Nice plug for Interzone!

Via Mundane-SF

Get a Free Copy of the July 2008 Issue of F&SF

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) is offering review free copies of July 2008 to bloggers willing to blog about it. There's a limited amount, so you better be quick.

UKSFBN closes

Darren has finally called time on UKSFBN. He says it's hibernation, but it may be a long winter (he's now working for Orbit).

UKSFBN evolved out of the trail-blazing The Alien Online website (what no Wikipedia page?!), whose list of past reviewers is really quite cool.

May 7, 2008

Get Well Soon Jay Lake

Jay Lake, get well soon! His Livejournal has dispensed more useful nuggets of writing advice to me than any other source. Thank you, and take it easy.

Lost, Season 4, Episode 10

Things start going wrong in the future.  "Something Nice Back Home" takes us from happy (but reluctant) Jack, Kate and Aaron, to a disintegrating relationship. Jack is slowly going crazy, but it's not entirely obvious why: is it because he is an alcoholic and addicted to prescription drugs? Is it because he is seeing is father? Is it because Hurley is creeping him out? Is it because he doesn't want to be with Kate and Aaron? Or is it The Island calling him back?

There are more hints in this episode that there is some sort of destiny, with Hurley saying that Jack was not meant to raise Aaron. Which kind of implies that everything is planned out, and they are breaking the greater plan somehow. Hurley of course thinks that they are dead. Personally I think it's more likely that they changing a pre-ordained time-space path and the dead people are in fact leaking across from parallel universes.

The plot on The Island meanwhile stayed in a holding pattern this week. Well, Jack had life-saving surgery, Sawyer found dead bodies buried in the jungle and Claire walked off with her dead father,  but that's just everyday life on The Island.

I have a feeling that non-SF fans are going to be annoyed with any forthcoming answers, because they inevitably are going to involve something SFish. Surely that's been obvious from the start? And yet everyone still watches it, many wanting some rational, present-day, non-SF explanation for everything. Ho ho.

May 6, 2008

May's Ansible Is Online

Kindle Back In Stock

Amazon emailed me to say that the Kindle is back in stock, which is nice of them but almost completely useless in the UK (still).

Mind you, not sure I want an ebook reader that looks like a Commodore 64 squashed flat and requires me to pay to access RSS feeds. I'm rather amazed they sold out in the first place.

May 5, 2008

Doctor Who - The Poison Sky

The second part of the Sontaran story.

Spoilers ahead...

Continue reading Doctor Who - The Poison Sky.

May 2, 2008

The Guardian's Book Blog On The Clarke Award

Sam Jordison writes up his night at the Clarke Award for the Guardian Book blog. Sam's been reading some classic SF recently, and blogging about it, and he's, I would say, a convert.

Interesting comment thread, with one person stating that awards are bad because they are competition in art etc. blah, etc. The most important point is that the Clarke award has found me more interesting SF books to read than any other source. The shortlist is as important as the winner, and discussions about the shortlist (and who didn't make it) are even more important.

Other comments were about the Star Wars costumes, which I did feel were a little out of place for the Clarke, but maybe not for the film festival. And yet the costumes were amusing. Watching Darth Vader wait for the lift is bizarrely entertaining.

Via Torque Control

2008 Science Fiction Hall Of Fame Inductees

This years inductees to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame are Betty and Ian Ballantine (Literature Category), William Gibson (Literature Category), Richard M. Powers (Art Category), and Rod Serling (Film, Television and Media Category.)

The ceremony is in Seattle, on Saturday, 21st June, 8:00 p.m. in EMP|SFM’s Sky Church. (Okay, that sounds creepy, why is a Sky Church? On the plus side the EMP half of the venture has a Jimi Hendrix exhibition on.)

Connie Willis will host the evening’s events. And pasted straight from the press release, here's who will be presenting/accepting.

A noted science fiction author will present the award to Betty and Ian Ballantine. Charles N. Brown, editor at Locus Magazine will accept the award on the Ballantine’s behalf.

Award-winning science fiction author, Jack Womack, will present the award to William Gibson, who is scheduled to be in attendance.

David Hartwell, editor at Tor Books, will present Richard M. Powers’s award. Richard Gid Powers and family will accept the award on Powers’s behalf.

Author of The Twilight Zone Companion, Marc Scott Zicree, will present Rod Serling’s award. Anne Serling-Sutton, Serling’s daughter, will accept the award her father’s behalf.

Ticket details if you fancy it:

Tickets go on sale May 12 for $40 to EMP|SFM members and May 15 for $50 to the general public. The evening will include a seated dessert reception and ceremony.

Oooh pudding! Do you think it will be ice cream with chocolate sauce?

Although I've added the wikipedia links above I thinks it's actually worth adding the bios from the press release here, as they're nice and succinct and better written than the wikipedia articles (crowd sourcing loses!)...

Continue reading 2008 Science Fiction Hall Of Fame Inductees.

May 1, 2008

Black Man Wins The Arthur C Clarke Award

The ceremony for The Arthur C. Clarke Award was last night, and the winner was Richard Morgan with Black Man (which is published as Thirteen in the US). Morgan seemed genuinely surprised to have won, and gave a nice (but with swearing of course), genuine, speech thanking various people including a specific mention for his publisher Gollancz and editor Simon Spanton, whom he said "had nurtured him". Which is great to hear when everyone seems to be saying that those days are dead.

The general reaction seemed positive, no one complaining, with Black Man being seen as probably the most full-on SF book on the list. Before the announcement the favourite from the people I talked to was probably The Execution Channel (although that included the obviously partisan Orbit crowd!). Maybe in the end the astonishing ending was too divisive? Black Man is, of course, one of the shortlist I didn't get around to reading. It's getting bumped to the top of the to-read list.

This was the first time I'd been to a Clarke Award and I was impressed with what a great night it is. A big thanks to Tom Hunter for the invite. It's a very inclusive celebration of Science Fiction Literature, with a selection of authors, publishers, sponsors, and fans, many of whom are of course bloggers. All the authors on the shortlist were there last night, and the authors (and publishers) which could be considered as "mainstream" were all delighted to be on the shortlist.

There's a real sense of community within SF that's quite wonderful. Being able to geek out about books I love is something that really only happens electronically on a day to day basis for me, so it was awesome fun to meet and chat to everyone last night. I only took one photo (a blurry phonecam shot of a stormtrooper!) but I'm sure some will turn up on Flickr soon.

UPDATE Niall has some on Flickr

The Clarke is the SF award which generates the most press and media attention in the UK. Maybe this is an artefact of its literary inclusiveness (which is also what generates its controversy)? Maybe it's that the shortlist rarely fails to find some wonderful books? Maybe it's just that Sir Arthur's name is attached? I'm not sure we know the answer, but I think it's a worthwhile question to ponder.

I should also mention that before the award announcement Angie Edwards, Sir Arthur's niece, gave a speech about him, talking about his generosity, his down-to-earthness and lack of bling (for want of a better phrase). Her final words were "to think".

Which SF/F Books Have The Best and Worst Endings?

The latest SF Signal: MIND MELD is online talking about the endings of SF books. There's contributions from myself, Jayme Lynn Blaschke's, Holly Black, Mark Chadbourn, L. E. Modesitt, Jr., Matthew Sanborn Smith, Paul Graham Raven, Gail Z. Martin, Richard Novak, Jonathan McCalmont, Kate Elliott , Jay Tomio and Mike Glyer. A great list of contributors and some interesting thoughts.