August 2008 Archives
August 31, 2008
The awesome Dr. Horrible universe may have some new stories told soon, although they may involve the other members of the Evil League Of Evil. I vote for Dead Bowie.
Oh, and when can anyone in the UK actually legally download it? We want to give you money, Joss.
"I remember reading things which blended genres that way. Isaac Asimov's Lucky Starr novels -- those are detective stories. (I liked them at the time.) And Larry Niven did 'Gil the Arm'. Blade Runner was noir and SF at the same time. So it was far from the case that I thought, 'Oh nobody's ever done this.' There was a tradition and I was fully aware I was drawing on it. I guess for me the new wrinkle (if there was one) was going to be the Jewish subject matter, bringing that in as a kind of key third element.
August 29, 2008
What I wanted my first pages to tell you was: this is going to be a wild ride! Fasten your seat belt, put on your life jacket, and put your earplugs in. Stick with me, I'm going to show you some great stuff. So starting with Gonzo Lubitsch as a five year old... that just seemed like an awfully big ask. I think that opening says: this here is a serious generational novel, and it's going to take you a while, but you'll be a better person for reading it.
August 28, 2008
No Heroics is a six-part series that sees a group of British off-duty superheroes living their day-to-day life - which for supposed saviours of the world is actually rather normal, as they just can't be arsed.Â Instead, this group of B-listers would rather get drunk and commiserate their lack of superiority in their local superheroes-only pub, The Fortress, reading New Power Express and bitching about everyone who's more successful than them.
August 27, 2008
The novel also contains an awesome enemy, zombies! Yes, an alien virus that infects humans and is spread by biting, called The Swarm. Pepper meet zombies, meet carnage. The interaction between The Swarm and Pepper is highly entertaining. Unfortunately the other parts of the novel didn't excite me as much.
The novel is focussed on the world Chilo, in which the population lives in floating cities, above the high pressure and hostile air. Some of the cities are second class Aztec descendants, the others are higher tech Aeolian who have mass consensus voting to decide what to do. There's some nice ideas here, but I don't feel that enough is made of them. The voting in particular feels under-developed, I wanted to explore more of that society. I think the problem is that I'm much more inclined to be interested in the high tech stuff, rather than the steampunky surface suits or clockwork flying monsters. If you like steampunk, akin to Crystal Rain, then you'll probably like all this.
The plot continues at quite a pace, there's plenty of action and a couple of twists. It's adventure Science Fiction. And I think that's my problem. I'm beggining to realise that the SF I really love is either the more questioning type, asking deeper searching questions or the emotionally resonant stories. And I've read quite a few of these this year (it's been a good year!). Sly Mongoose is neither of these, and is not supposed to be. So, it's a fine book, and if you liked Tobias's other novels then you will no doubt like this too, but for me it was missing that extra special kick.
August 26, 2008
August 25, 2008
I'm a big Star Wars fan, from A New Hope (the first film I saw at a cinema) all the way up to Revenge Of The Sith. Yes, I like the prequel films too, I enjoy them for what they are, and I try and view them the same way as when I was a kid. So the prospect of a new Star Wars film at the cinema is just awesome. Of course, it was never intended to be a film, just a TV series, but I'm glad they packaged up the first few episodes to see on the big screen, with big sound, to make Star Wars, The Clone Wars
August 22, 2008
And it's normally always quite weird, in a crazy loopy hallucinogenic kind of way.
Dr. Bloodmoney (UK / US) does not disappoint on all counts. It starts before the apocalypse, and continues after it, with one stray chapter that leapt forward with no warning and completely confused me. But that's why I read PKD. The apocalypse is nuclear, the rebuilding after is successful in the countryside, but life in the city is hard. The man responsible for the apocalypse, or rather assumed to be responsible, is hidden away. Some people are exhibiting mutations...
It's a wonderful journey. At the end I was left guessing as to what really happened in parts, doubt and confusion evident as always. Also interesting to me is how it's the self contained sustainable communities that are happy and succeeding, something that feels pressingly relevant to today.
If you like PKD then read it, if you don't you won't like it, if you have never read PKD it's a good place to start.
August 20, 2008
August 18, 2008
The apocalypse in the story is triggered by a virus which wipes out all types of grass, which includes rice and wheat and of course, plain old grass. The story follows a band of people as they try to escape London and make it to a safe valley in the North of England.
Initially it felt pretty much like a John Wyndham novel. Slowly though differences began to emerge, the main one being that it was a lot nastier. People kill other people for survival, the government tries to nuke London and there is no collective survival instinct beyond immediate small tribes. Also surprising was that the story was just about the journey to escape, whereas I expected it to be a longer examination of the situation.
I particularly enjoyed the slow build up to the apocalypse, which felt real, no sudden cataclysm. And I enjoyed the idea that potatoes could be our saviour :-)
An interesting book, it's easy to see why it's been remembered as a classic, but it doesn't quite reach that status for me.
August 15, 2008
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Visual Guide (UK / US) is slightly different from the recent DK Star Wars and Indiana Jones books. For a start it is a slightly different shape, wider and less tall, it is also clearly aimed at a younger audience. What isn't different is the feel of quality, the nice hefty hardback feel and the big full page pictures.
Often these guide books, although nice to hold and look at, offer little new information. With The Clone Wars its all new as the film hasn't even been released yet. There are pages on all the main characters, including Clones and Droids, and new planets and battles. I assume that this book covers just the film and not the following TV series, but we'll only know that once the TV series starts. The fonts are big and colourful, lots of diagrams and pictures, and not too many big chunks of text, all of which makes it ideal for kids.
My only complaint is that the full page images don't seem very crisp, presumably because they are blown up from the digital film stock? It's slightly dissapointing.
But that doesn't stop this being a great book for younger readers, who are presumably going to love the new Clone Wars series with it's cartoon colour and action.
August 14, 2008
August 11, 2008
Normally prologues tease, throwing action and intrigue but in a short dollop. The first part of The Mirrored Heavens (UK / US) begins at flat out pace, like a prologue, and then keeps going and going, in a highly enjoyable, multi-plotted action sequence. Unfortunately the rest of the book doesn't live up to the openeing.
August 8, 2008
Pixar does SPACE!
Let's face it, that would have been enough for me: gorgeous spaceships, stunning panoramas of galaxies and lots and lots of robots.
Yet they give us more: an abandoned Earth, a city full of rubbish that is wonderfully apocalyptic and dead.
The textures and animation are quite stunning. The Earth looks real. Really real.
But it's Pixar, so of course they give us even more: a fantastic story and amazing characters. Wall-E is so expressive, and so lovely and funny. And then there are the Science Fiction nods: the 2001 music, the crazy ship's computer, the robot and spaceship design.
I loved it.
What might be more interesting however is whether the kids loved it. I saw Wall-E in a cinema full of kids. For the first half an hour; when there's not much talking, just lovely visuals and witty slapstick and (shock!) character development; the kids were noisy, talking about sweets mainly. When the action picked up they quietened down a bit. It mainly seemed to be the adults that were laughing. (I laughed an awful lot.) Behind me some annoying kids kept asking what was happening, perhaps they were stupid? Perhaps parents don't teach their kids how to watch films these days? Then near the end, at a sad bit, a kid behind burst into tears, sobbing that Wall-E was hurt. As adults we know that a Pixar film will have a happy ending, but this child didn't know the rules and was very upset. Meanwhile, the adults just laughed.
So, my unscientific analysis suggests that Wall-E is more fun for adults than kids. But all that will change once they've watched it for the hundredth time on DVD.
How would you describe the look of The Clone Wars?
GL: In The Clone Wars, all of the characters and the environments look almost like they're painted, which gives the movie a very distinctive look. We also drew some influences from manga and anime in our filmmaking style, which have very dramatic lighting and very aggressive framing.
Meanwhile io9 tells us Ten Reasons Why the Clone Wars TV Series is Going to Rule (of course it had to be a top ten list) and Simon Pegg is hoping that his publicly aired views on The Phantom Menace won't stop him being able to get a job writing for the new live action Star Wars TV series, in this interview.
August 7, 2008
...this updated rebel spacecraft measures over two-and-a-half feet long (30% percent larger than the old one) and features a light-up cockpit, headlights, hyperdrive engine, and Dejarik table (!), as well as a ton of authentic movie phrases and sounds.
August 6, 2008
Experiencing Worldcon from the other side of the world, via the medium of blogs, is deadly dull. It goes like this:
- Worldcon -7 days: all the authors post that they will definitely be going (or not).
- W -6 days: the authors that said they weren't going change their minds.
- W -5 days: all the authors post their tentative schedules.
- W -4 days: the schedules changes.
- W -3 days: lots of posts about packing.
- W -2 days: posts about how boring long distance flights are.
- W -1 day: "I'm at the airport using the free wifi".
- W 0 day: "I'm at Worldcon!"
- Worldcon itself: complete silence from everyone there, not even a Tweet. Somehow the Hugo results get out but no one is really sure how.
- W +1 day: Everyone not at Worldcon discuss how it's rubbish that Robert J. Sawyer won again, and why didn't Brasyl win?
- W +3 days: People who were at Worldcon post "Had a great time, too much happened to post all about it."
- W +4 days: A million pictures turn up on Flickr, mainly of random people smiling, no one has any idea who they are because the photos have titles like 000125631.jpg
- W +5 days: The stragglers finally post about Worldcon, they expect us to feel sorry that they are tired.
- W +6 days: Everyone posts on how they are reflecting on their Worldcon experience.
- W +7 days: MARK ALL AS READ
Pablo Defendini is reviewing the covers of the 2008 Hugo nominees on Tor.com, and comparing the UK and US cover versions, a subject I find fascinating (I usually always prefer the UK versions).
The August edition of IROSF is online now with the following table of contents
* Shiny New Stuff! by Stacey Janssen
* Future Tense by Daniel M. Kimmel
* Life After Power: The Brief But Pantiwadulous Life Of A Public Rejection
by Nick Mamatas
* Childhood's End Revisited by Ryder W. Miller
* A New Springtime: Robert Silverberg's Post-Retirement Career by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
* "Two Dooms" and the Memory of World War II in Alternate History by Nader Elhefnawy
* DIY Tinkerers, the Steampunk Subculture, and a New Anthology by Robert Bee
* Nested Horror: Demon Theory by Stephen Graham Jones by J. G. Stinson
* Satoshi Kon's Paprika by Michael Andre-Driussi
* July 2008 Short Fiction by Lois Tilton
I imagine that the skeleton of The Night Sessions is like those crime books which I have never read, especially given that the novel is set in Scotland and has a main character who is a Scottish Police Detective, like all those crime books seem to have. Except The night Sessions has robots, oh and Armageddon. It's really only the form which is a crime thriller, because The Night Sessions is stuffed with thought provoking Science Fiction. And it's not just dense with little SF ideas, used as a back drop, (although of course there are those), it's also stuffed with big ideas and tackles BIG subjects head on.
The two main subjects that the book provokes thought about are Religion and Artificial Intelligence. Quite big then. The novel is set after The Faith Wars in a time when religion is officially ignored in Scotland, ignored in the way that they refuse to accept it exists. The novel examines how the minority of religious people have to live in a society that scorns religion, and yes that may have you rolling your eyes, but I really liked the way in which it was handled. The world felt highly plausible, and not that far away.
The other element in the mix is robots: from the police officers assistant "leki's", to space construction robots, to renegade human shaped robots. The characters that are robots are intelligently handled, and feel like real characters. It's a sign of the novel's ambitions when, the discussion of whether a backup of a robot is a new conscious entity and the dilemmas that entails, is thrown into a climactic set of scenes and then thrown away (as it were). Lesser novels would make it their only idea.
The plot unfurls in an enjoyable crime thriller style, accelerating and twisting, and it kept me guessing until the end. And although the ending didn't amaze me, it, more importantly, kept me thinking after.
Serious, intelligent and highly enjoyable Science Fiction.
August 5, 2008
Welcome to Transmissions From Beyond, the brand new podcast from TTA Press. We feature storiesÂ selected from the pages of the TTA Press magazines Interzone (science fiction & fantasy), Black Static (horror), and Crimewave (crime & mystery). New stories appear every other Monday. The premiere of our podcast on Monday, 4 August 2008, offers three Transmissions. There's one from each of our magazines. We lead off with a story from Interzone. Â
August 4, 2008
August 1, 2008
The DK site has some cool artwork from their new Star Wars books, including Top secret, technological plans of R2-D2 and C-3PO, which are very groovy.
I have a review of The Clone Wars Visual Guide coming soon.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the blog.
Bit of a mouthful, but it has posts, shock!
Well, invasion might be too string a word for Simon Pegg and Steven Moffat, but you get what I mean.
Interesting that Doctor Who panels at Comic-Con has increased it's UK coverage.