July 2009 Archives

July 29, 2009

Doctor Who End Of Time Trailer

Filmed by someone at Comic-Con, with crowd cheers still loud, but helpful subtitling, here’s the trailer for the Doctor Who Christmas Special 2009, End Of Time.

Awesome SF Art By Alexander Preuss

I found this excellent art of an orbital by Alexander Preuss. His website has plenty more great SF themed art. He sells posters too.

July 28, 2009

Monster Sizes On A T-Shirt

I love this monster size chart T-Shirt (available at teepay)

Doctor Who, The Waters Of Mars Trailer

The trailer for the new Doctor Who special, The Waters Of Mars is online.

It’s a zombie episode! And it looks very cool.

Now excited.

July 25, 2009

Items I Want From The Lost Auction

There’s going to be an auction of props when Lost ends, there’s a few things I fancy:

Dharma Rum   and of course a Dharma jumpsuit

Via SF Signal

July 24, 2009

In The PR Mail Bag This Week

It must be Comic-Con again, because I’m drowning in PR releases. So much so that I’ll just collect them here in one post for multiple marketing delights and information.


  • Carter Jenkins (from Surface) will star opposite Ashley Tisdale in “Aliens in the Attic (2009)” (Fox/July 31, 2009) which follows a group of teens as they defend their vacation home in Michigan from aliens.


  • Legendary comic book creator Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment, together with Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, announced the release of an all new original digital motion comic series, Time Jumper, available exclusively on the iTunes store,  beginning July 24, 2009. Natasha Henstridge (Species, Eli Stone) is one of the voice talents. (Isn’t a digital motion comic a cartoon?!)


  • Warehouse 13 will be coming to the UK Sci-Fi Channel in September (is it SyFy in the UK yet?)


  • Ooops too late: The Science and Entertainment Exchange will be joined by Discover Magazine in hosting a Thursday, July 23 at 6 p.m. discussion on the science behind science fiction at this year’s Comic-Con. Included Fringe writers. Any reports?


  • This week in the Barnes & Noble Studio (www.BN.com/Studio), astronaut Buzz Aldrin touches down to discuss his new memoir Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home From the Moon.


  • Stars of AMC’s highly anticipated mini-series “The Prisoner,” including Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, Thin Red Line, Pay It Forward), Jamie Campbell-Bower (Sweeney Todd, The Twilight Saga: New Moon) and Lennie James (“Jericho”) descend on Comic-Con 2009 for a panel event and exclusive sneak preview of the highly anticipated six-part series. “The Prisoner” panel, scheduled for Friday, July 24 at 11:30am, also features “The Prisoner” writer Bill Gallagher (Conviction, Clocking Off) and AMC’s Vlad Wolynetz, vice president of production, and will be moderated by producer and directorRobert Meyer Burnett. “The Prisoner,” a re-imagination of the 1960s cult classic created by the late Patrick McGoohan, premieres this November on AMC. (Not highly anticipated by me, because the original is too awesome to be remade.)

SF Emmy Nominations

The Emmys seem to be quite a big thing in the US, they're like the BAFTAs but less British. Here's a list of SF Emmy Nominees. It's not terribly surprising that there are quite a few SF Emmy nominations seeing as there seems to be an award for every tiny minutia of making a TV show, but Lost is up for Outstanding Drama Series which I guess means something. (ie. Lost is awesome.)

China Vows To Destroy Moon

Cheap gag from TheDailyMash, but it does reference Star Wars…

CHINA last night vowed to destroy the moon after a solar eclipse reduced its industrial productivity by almost one percent.

The Chinese government said it was forced to act after the six minute eclipse caused a brief pause in production at thousands of cheap toy farms as workers turned their heads skywards instead of attaching bits of plastic to other bits of plastic.

July 23, 2009

Moon Gets Mediocre UK Reviews

Here’s a selection of reviews of the film Moon which is now showing in the UK. They’re not exactly glowing, but instead use words like intelligent and interesting. Not that they have any effect on me, I’m going to see it anyway.

The Guardian 3/5 : The strength of Moon is also, paradoxically, its weakness: its evocation of loneliness and the vast, silent reaches of outer space.

The Times 4/5 : With its measured pacing, melancholy tone and eye for prosaic details, Moon is very different from the glossy sci-fi blockbuster — and far more satisfying.

The Independent 3/5 : The plot's denouement is probably the least satisfying aspect of the film, though in its insistent focus upon a single actor it scores a bull's-eye for daring.

The Telegraph 3/? : It’s not fair to say that the film runs out of steam towards the end, because it remains crisp and unpredictable, but it does have the feel of an addictive Outer Limits episode finding ways to stretch itself over the feature-length mark.

The Sun 5/? : What a joy - old-school, intelligent sci-fi.A brilliant space oddity.

A Very Happy Birthday To SF Signal

SF Signal is 6 years old!


I remember when they were only this tall etc etc.

Keep up the good work guys.

Where In The Galaxy Have Our TV Transmissions Reached

Strange Maps has a great TV guide: what’s on in the galaxy? Drawn as a very groovy map.

So Formalhaut is watching Miami Vice, Mu Arae is watching The Twilight Zone and Aldebaran is watching World War 2. Regulus is still waiting for the first televised Baseball game.

July 22, 2009

Oryx And Crake - Margaret Attwood

Oryx And Crake by Margaret Attwood (UK / US)  is another book from my Apocalypse Watch reading list (which I am still, irregularly, inching through). I have previously only read The Handmaid’s Tale by Attwood, which I thought was excellent Science Fiction (despite (in)famously Attwood saying she doesn’t write SF). Oryx And Crake is most definitely Science Fiction as well, with one plot set in a post-apocalyptic future and the other thread telling the story of getting to that point.

The future plot follows the story of Snowman, the sole human living after some unspecified disaster. Although he’s not alone, he’s living with a collection of post-human creations and fighting off genetically engineered animal concoctions. It’s genetic engineering that is at the centre of the books science, from humble beginnings of tweaking a few animals, upwards to changing humans. It’s very pessimistic in its view, taking the opinion that once the genie is out of the bottle we are all doomed. The future plot thread mirrors this view in its bleakness.

Much more interesting is the back story which is revealed as the other plot thread, it follows Jimmy (aka Snowman) in his life from school to disaster, including his complicated relationship with his friend Crake. It’s nicely done, nothing is black or white, and Jimmy’s life feels messily real. Also at the core of the story is Jimmy’s obsession with Oryx, I guess it’s a love story, but it’s not quite as simple as that.

I thought the second half of the book was much better than the first, the story taking too long to get going. At the end I wanted more of the apocalypse, rather than just the before and after. It was also uncomfortable reading at times: bleak and nasty, not a book to read to lighten your mood, because there’s not much hope. Which is what I’ve come to believe makes a good apocalyptic book: there must be hope, enough to overcome the darkness.

In summary, an interesting book, nicely written, but dark and too long and slow.

July 21, 2009

Opinions On The Hugo Nominees

Niall has some links to opinions on the Hugo nominees. The most amusing of which is by Adam Roberts. Go and read the full post but is summary is:

Here's what I'd like. If it isn't going to inconvenience you, I'd be enormously grateful, when it comes to next year's shortlists, if you could remember to come up with shortlists of excellent, brilliant and genius things; not shortlists of mediocre things.

Which yes, would be great. But the majority of fans will not read shortlist full of genius things each year, just a selection of quite good stuff.

So how do you discover excellent brilliant things to read? From shortlists of course… Arggh recursion.

July 20, 2009

Torchwood, Children Of Earth Starts Today On BBC America

If you’re in the states and haven’t seen Torchwood, Children Of Earth yet then watch BBC America tonight. And then every night this week, it appears. I’m not entirely sure because of the whole complicated timezone thing going on with US shows, where every time has a letter which you have to cross reference with you location and an arbitrary geographical boundary.

But anyway, it’s worth a watch as it’s shockingly quite good.

July 18, 2009

The Clone Wars Complete Season One On Blu-Ray

The entire first season of the entertaining Clone Wars TV show is coming to Blu-Ray in November.

Extras included on the disc include:

  • Seven Director's Cut Episodes: Rising Malevolence, Shadow of Malevolence, Lair of Grievous, Rookies, Storm Over Ryloth, Innocents of Ryloth and Liberty on Ryloth
  • 22 Episodic Featurettes that go behind-the-scenes with Supervising Director Dave Filoni and crew about the making-of each episode
  • Spectacular 64-page production journal that includes early sketches, artist notes, and concept art from each episode from Season One
  • Blu-ray Exclusive -- The Jedi Temple Archives: An extensive database exploring test footage, early concept art, 3-D character and object turnarounds and early animation. The Archives is a rare look at the assets in various stages of creation for The Clone Wars, with a wealth of surprises and never-before seen moments sprinkled throughout.

But best of all if you like The Clone Wars is watching all those cool space battles in HD.

July 17, 2009

Star Wars Cantina Sound Board

Want to remix the cantina scene in Star Wars? Well you can on StarWars.com it’s one of those silly games that you think  is nonsense and then spend half an hour playing with. Drag and drop samples onto a timeline: the band, dialogue and so on. And then err, just play it. Strangely addictive.

July 16, 2009

Richard Morgan Responds To A Black Man Review

Niall has linked to a review of Black Man by Dan Hartland, which Richard Morgan has responded to in the comments section. Usually it’s advised that authors don’t respond to reviews online, lest they be dragged into flaming wars of petty squabbling, but this turns into a fascinating discussion. Personally I love it when authors talk about their books.

July 15, 2009

Darth Vader Digital Clock

There’s a new Darth Vader digital clock at the Star Wars Shop. I don’t know what it sounds like. I had one similar to this:










Which woke me up with breathing and saying “I find your lack of faith disturbing”. It’s not the best to wake up to.

July 14, 2009

Makers By Cory Doctorow Serialised Online

Cory Doctorow’s new novel, Makers, is being serialised on Tor.com. Here’s the announcement and three parts are already online.

It’s another interesting marketing move from Cory and his publishers, first CC licenced books, now serialisation. It’s at once incredibly old fashioned and incredibly forward thinking.

July 13, 2009

The Human Genre Project

The Human Genre Project is an an interesting project: a collection of new writing in very short forms — short stories, flash fictions, reflections, poems — inspired by genes and genomics.

It’s been launched this July, starting with just a few pieces, the collection will grow and develop over time. The project was conceived by Ken MacLeod, writer in residence at the Genomics Forum, who also edits the collection, and was inspired by Michael Swanwick's Periodic Table of Science Fiction.

The Human Genre Project is an initiative of the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum, part of the ESRC Genomics Network, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and based at The University of Edinburgh.

July 12, 2009

New Doctor Who Short Story To Celebrate The Moon Landing

A new Doctor Who short story has been written to celebrate the Apollo moon landing in 1969:

Blue Moon is a completely new adventure that puts the Doctor slap bang in the middle of the first Apollo Moon landing. It was written by Oli Smith and is set during the tumultuous days of 16th, 17th and 20th July, 1969. The 4-part story will run on those dates next week with the first part published on Wednesday, 15th July.

Which sounds good. And then…

There's everything you could want from a story set during such a crucial moment in Earth's history - mysterious aliens, sinister US agents, a threat to the future of mankind and, err, BBC Radio 4's The Archers.

Which sounds erm, awesome? Probably?

July 10, 2009

Torchwood, Children Of Earth, Day Five

The new series of Torchwood concludes with a hyper tense, (too?) emotional finale.

Spoilers ahead….

Continue reading Torchwood, Children Of Earth, Day Five.

July 9, 2009

Torchwood, Children Of Earth, Day Four

The tense thriller story continues with some emotional content and Science Fictional dilemmas.

Spoilers ahead…

Continue reading Torchwood, Children Of Earth, Day Four.

A Clip Of Unaired Dollhouse Episode, Epitaph One

The almost legendary unaired Dollhouse episode Epitaph One will be on the DVD and BluRay editions of the series, and here's a clip.

I’m not sure whether cut episodes and scenes deserve the attention they get, because usually if they were good they would get shown. Surely? Is it just fanboys/girls obsessing about inaccessible stuff?

July 8, 2009

Torchwood, Children Of Earth, Day Three

Day three of the new Torchwood series, Children Of Earth and the story is enjoyably tense. I’m managing to ignore the implausibility and enjoy the SF thriller build up (and actually there is less implausibility than usual).

Spoilers ahead…

Continue reading Torchwood, Children Of Earth, Day Three.

July 7, 2009

Torchwood, Children Of Earth, Day Two

So, part two of the new Torchwood series. It’s actually quite nice to not have to wait a week and be able to watch it the next day.

I enjoyed this episode. Still plenty of silliness, but it was a tense thriller episode.

Spoilers ahead….

Continue reading Torchwood, Children Of Earth, Day Two.

Awesome Science T-Shirts

I love these WearScience.com T-Shirts. Here’s my two favourites:

…but they’re all pretty awesome.

July 6, 2009

Torchwood, Children Of Earth, Day One

A new Torchwood series! And this time just five episodes, spread across one week. That’s a bit like the length of an old Doctor Who story.

Well, Torchwood had it’s work cut out to win me back. I’ve enjoyed the Nu Who despite its failings but Torchwood always had too many faults: the premise is ridiculous, the acting was dodgy, the stories didn’t make much sense, there was too much gratuitous sex and it was just no fun. It felt like an opportunity missed.

So can the new series succeed? Maybe.

Spoilers ahead…

Continue reading Torchwood, Children Of Earth, Day One.

Torchwood, Children Of Earth Starts Tonight

The new five part Torchwood series, Children Of Earth, starts tonight on BBC1 at 9pm and continues every day this week.

I’m hoping it will be great, but so far Torchwood has not lived up to my hopes. I want it to be realistic, not melodramatic, have an original plot and not tie the whole thing up with crazy Deus Ex Machina. Good Science Fiction, please.

July 2, 2009

PS Publishing Adding Free Online Fiction Samples

PS Publishing are gradually adding free fiction samples to the catalogue - a single story from collections and anthologies, and a chapter or extract from longer works.

So for example if you want to read a story by Paul Di Filippo (Harsh Oases) or an extract from Starfall by Stephen Baxter, then you can.

Which all in all is an excellent idea. I’m much more likely to buy a book if I read a sample and like it.

Farscape The Box Set

To mark Farscape's 10th anniversary, this November, the entire series will be released in a single box set. Here’s the blurb:

Never before available in one package, the DVD set will bring together all four seasons with countless hours of absorbing bonus programming featuring multiple commentaries, interviews with cast and crew, behind-the-scenes featurettes and much more!  Single season collector’s sets will also be released, offering genre fans of all walks the opportunity to sample this superlative sci-fi classic.

Wow, they really go for it in their marketing copy!

There will also be the obligatory Comic-Con panel featuring executive producer Brian Henson, creator Rockne O’Bannon, and stars Ben Browder and Claudia Black. (Yes, it’s Comic-Con soon get ready for the PR overload.)

I really liked Farscape, but would have liked it even better without the muppets.

Are Anthologies The New Magazines?

With the news that Talebones is closing as a magazine and opening as an anthology, it got me wondering:

Are anthologies the new magazines?

There seems to me to be a resurgence in anthologies and single author story collections. Is it now more economical to publish a book than a magazine, even if the book is limited edition? Would readers rather read books than magazines when it comes to short fiction?

July 1, 2009

Nexterlizer - Simple Recommendations

Deciding what to read or play or watch or listen to next, can be a tricky thing. Too much choice, too many decisions.

To help you there are a myriad of web sites: catalogue everything you’ve ever read, make friends and let them make suggestions, answer forty two questions. And so on.

All of which are nice, but let’s face it, too much hassle. I’ve been in and out of more book recommendation sites than I can remember and none of them have satisfied what I want. So I decided to build one.

It’s called Nexterlizer and it’s the simplest recommendation application I could imagine: tell it what you last read, watched, listened to or played and it will try and give you a recommendation. Not a list, not a choice, just one. Sometimes it won’t find a recommendation, most of the times it will.

It’s a Getting Real (37Signals) approach to recommendations.

There’s also a Twitter bot @nexterlizer which you can tweet with your last item and it will reply with its suggestion.

eg. @nexterlizer Oryx And Crake

or if you want to specify whether it was something you read, played, listened to or watched you can add a prefix:

r for read
l for listened to
p for played
w for watched


@nexterlizer p Guitar Hero
@nexterlizer w Terminator Salvation


Try it out, let me know what you think and I hope you have fun with it.