April 2010 Archives

April 30, 2010

May's Ansible Is Online

April 28, 2010

The Arthur C. Clarke Award 2010

UPDATE Yes, this got posted a day early! The ceremony is of course on Wednesday 28th, so I've changed the date of the post.

Today's the day that the winner of 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Award is announced at a ceremony in London. As a reminder the nominees are: 

 

If I had to pick the winner I'm guessing that The City & The City will win, just from others reactions. We'll find out if I'm right later this evening, I'll try and get the result out as soon as I can by tweet on @bigdumbobject.

April 27, 2010

An Updated Analysis of the BSFA Award Novel Shortlists Versus The Clarke Award Shortlists

Two years ago I decided to analyse the difference between the BSFA Award novel shortlists and the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlists. Now seems as good as time as any to update the analysis.

As before any errors are sure to be my own, please feel free to point them out in the comments.

Novels which made one shortlist but not the other 

According to my numbers there have been:
  • 79 novels that have made the BSFA shortlist but not the Clarke, that's 70% of them.
  • 119 novels that have made the Clarke shortlist but not the BSFA, that's 79% of them.
  • Only 32 novels have made both shortlists, which is less than the last time I did this analysis. Hmmm. I'm more confident of this analysis though. It's still incredibly low.
 

Winners of the Clarke Award that weren't shortlisted for the BSFA Award

I reckon there are 14 of them:

  • Body Of Glass, Marge Piercy (MICHAEL JOSEPH)
  • Distraction, Bruce Sterling (MILLENNIUM 1998)
  • Dreaming In Smoke, Tricia Sullivan (ORBIT)
  • Fools, Pat Cadigan (HARPERCOLLINS UK)
  • Iron Council, China Mievelle (MACMILLAN)
  • Nova Swing, M. John Harrison (GOLLANCZ)
  • Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson (HEINEMANN)
  • Synners, Pat Cadigan (HARPERCOLLINS)
  • The Calcutta Chromosome, Amitav Ghosh (PICADOR 1995)
  • The Sea And Summer, George Turner (FABER & FABER)
  • Unquenchable Fire, Rachel Pollack (CENTURY)
  • Vurt, Jeff Noon (RINGPULL)
  • Black Man, Richard Morgan (GOLLANCZ)
  • Song Of Time, Ian R. MacLeod (PS PUBLISHING)

Some amazing novels in there that BSFA members didn't even shortlist. I wonder why?



April 25, 2010

Doctor Who - The Time Of Angels



This episode has one of the best pre-title sequences I can remember for Doctor Who: one half Mission Impossible / Spooks/ Hustle with River Song and the other half, separated by a gulf of time naturally, The Doctor in a museum with an artefact. Fast, slick and intriguing.

And it doesn't stop there, the episode has a lovely rhythm, non-stop and full but not rushed. Everything felt inevitable and yet not predictable. I only realised at the end that this was a two-parter and again supports my hypothesis that forty-five minutes isn't long enough for a Doctor Who story.

The inter-play between The Doctor, River and Amy was great: witty and sharp, and the full story of River Song is intriguing, I hope Moffat has the full arc mapped out. It can't be as simple as she was/is his wife surely? And where did she learn to fly the TARDIS? Is she a Time Lord? (I loved the wise-cracks about flying the TARDIS, very funny.)

Also pretty good was the transformation of a quarry into a spaceship crash site. The BBC don't have a massive budget for Doctor Who, so they don't get to use exotic locations, but this one looked different enough and very effective.

On top of that there were Weeping Angels! I was worried about Moffat bringing back the angels because Blink was such an awesome episode, and I didn't want him to spoil the magic. I should have had faith, the angels came back scarier than before. No mere time relocations this time, they're monsters, they're nasty, they're super powerful.

All in all an excellent episode, can't wait for the second part. 

April 21, 2010

Yellow Blue Tibia - Adam Roberts

Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts has made both the shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the shortlist for the BSFA Award this year.

A quick mention for the design of the book, which is great. The bold Soviet design is mixed with a pseudo aging look,which wraps around the front and back cover. Very funky and cool.

In the first chapter it is 1940s USSR, post-war, and Stalin calls together a collective of Science Fiction writers to craft the ultimate story of alien invasion. From the start it feels slippery and odd, and I was continually wondering whether I was being told the truth. There's no action as such but I found it intriguing and compelling.

After the first chapter the story switches to years later, the 1980s. The USSR is changing, but there are many who don't want it to change, like the KGB. And then there are the rumours of alien invasion, an alien invasion that sounds remarkably like the one concocted by the Science Fiction writers who were sent away and told to forget about it.

Svorecky was one of those writers, and after a brief synopsis of the life of our protagonist, we pick up the plot. A plot which stumbles into a strange KGB encounter and some Scientologist Americans.

The tone changes in the novel from the first chapter, it moves slowly from intriguingly sinister to farce. Much of the farce was too much for me, like extremely bad episodes of Fawlty Towers: irritating. I guess it was supposed to be funny, but I never laughed once.

I did, for much of the novel, wonder whether it was actually Science Fiction, or just about Science Fiction. At times it felt as if the novel was written specifically for Science Fiction fans, with a discussion of what it meant to read and write and think about SF. The last third of the book however picks up again, returns to the plot and begins to turn on the proper Science Fiction. Leaving everything open to discussion at the end.

Normally I don't like alternative history novels, because I never feel as if I know enough history to actually get the cleverness. Yellow Blue Tibia never made me feel like that, I never felt bewildered or like I was missing a joke. I did however wonder whether it was actually alternate history or not.

It's an interesting novel, I can see why it's been nominated for awards, there's a lot to discuss and a lot to think about. Even the bits I didn't like I want to talk about why I didn't like them. It's also a novel that feels quite fresh to me, a little bit different from everything else around at the moment.

I recommend reading it.


April 19, 2010

Threadless Tron T-Shirt, It Glows!

My Other Ride Is a Light Cycle - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

It glows in the dark.
Be Tron.

Doctor Who - Victory Of The Daleks



I've figured out what's wrong with the new Doctor Who episodes, and that is, they're too short. The second and third episodes of this series have felt rushed and far too fast. Contrast that to the one hour specials from last year and that extra 15 minutes seems to make all the difference. However we have 45 minute episodes, as do the writers so there's not much we can do about that.

Onto Victory Of The Daleks, there's an easy way to sum it up: Dalek Reboot!

It was another episode full of ideas, we had The Doctor meeting Winston Churchill, we had Daleks fighting for Britain, we had a cyborg, timeline mangling, Spitfires in space and The Doctor making a Big Decision.

It was fun, yes. I enjoyed the Daleks tootling about whilst the Doctor tried to figure out what they were up to. And of course we had the classic line WOULD YOU LIKE SOME TEA?! I'd have quite happily watched an entire episode of that. I also enjoyed The Doctor losing his cool over the Daleks, but Matt Smith's performance was not close to Christopher Ecclestone's in Dalek.

The Dalek plan itself was a little dubious, you'd think Dalek technology would be able to know what a Dalek is without someone claiming to be The Doctor vouching for them, but the result was fun : Big Funky New Daleks. I like them, especially the white one with the deep voice. They're bigger, they are colour coded for easy reference and they kill old skool Daleks without hesitation. Nice.

The ending had good and bad points. I liked The Doctor having to make a choice between Earth or killing the Daleks. I didn't like the way they prevented the Dalek bomb, that was just silly. As were the spitfires in space which were rubbish, Star Wars did that 30 years ago, and did it better.

But the end result is a lovely reboot, the Daleks are new and scary and loose in the galaxy, whilst the Canary Wharf battle timeline has seemingly been erased to make way for new stories. 


 

April 12, 2010

Mark Millar Radio Interview

Last Friday Mark Millar was interviewed on the radio station Five Live, you can listen to the show on the iPlayer, or download a podcast.

It's an interesting interview, talking about the creation of Kick-Ass the comic and the film, how the film got made, and also getting Mark's opinion on some of the controversy surrounding the film. He also said that he's doing another super-hero film with Matthew Vaughn.

April 11, 2010

Lost S06E011

I thought that perhaps I finally had Lost figured out. I thought that the parallel universe stories were an alternate life that showed the characters potential. That showed their true selves. That were stories of positive redemption. Until Said's story when he turned nasty. But I still thought that those threads were going to be an elaborate what-if.

Then this episode, when suddenly the barrier between the realities begins to leak, a story brought to us by none other than Desmond, Charlie and Daniel. Hurray, three of my favourite Lost characters return with a lovely story. The interplay between still-a-junkie-rockstar Charlie and suited-Whidmore-lackey Desmond was wonderful, made ever more so by the knowledge of their friendship on The Island. Daniel's return as a musician scrawling physics in a notebook was perfect and the cross reality love stories made me smile.

There was even an answer: how did Desmond survive The Hatch explosion? Because he's super Desmond! EM proof. Timeslip traveller. Dodgy accent extraordinaire. Oooh, that nasty Jim From Neighbours, and his ruffian gang. Although I'm not entirely sure which side Whidmore is on. I presume he is trying to stop The Smoke Monster from escaping The Island and destroying The World, but I'm not too sure.

Incredibly entertaining Science Fiction, still with a large dollop on bonkers.

Only six episodes left.

April 10, 2010

Doctor Who - The Beast Below


After last weeks entertaining opening to the new Doctor Who series, I had very high expectation for the second episode, The Beast Below. Maybe a little too high?

It wasn't a bad episode, it was just a formulaic and uninspired episode. 

I thought at the start, with a view of the county skyscraper blocks, we were going to see some awesome Judge Dredd style inter block warfare, however inside the blocks it was the usual Doctor Who idea of the UK future: Union Flags, wartime spirit, all a bit too Cockney. But still, the chance of intrigue.... which quickly faded into a plot that any eight your old kid could have assembled, including photofit "monsters", a Queen, a mystery etc. etc.

There were some positive moments: Matt Smith beginning to make The Doctor his own, and Amy Pond asserting herself. I also liked the ending and the choice, but it was all a bit too little and too late.

The best bit? The built in trail to next weeks episode. Not disastrous, just nothing new.

April 7, 2010

My Story 'Build, Build, Build' In Top 3 Read For March At Every Day Fiction

My story Build, Build, Build was one of the top three most read stories in March over at Every Day Fiction

Cool. 

Interesting reading the comments over there. Some people didn't like the short, sharp and fast story. Some people did.

It's a nanobot / grey goo story:

Gerald stood on a hill, overlooking the valley that he had lived in for thirty years, and watched the nano-assemblers demolish his village.

April 5, 2010

Another Shop Full Of SF T-Shirts

You can never have too many SF T-Shirts.

Here's another shop, The Dept. It's US based so you have to pay $5.40 delivery making the total around £17 at the current exchange rate, not cheap but quite groovy.

I like this one:

April 4, 2010

The 2010 BSFA Awards

For stuff published in 2009. The (entertaining) introduction to the awards made a comment about this, and yes, I still get confused what I should call it.

Anyway, the winners are:

Non-Fiction
Nick Lowe, Mutant Popcorn. 

Best Artwork
Stephen Martiniere, Cover of 'Desolation Road' 

Best Novel: 
China Mieville, 'The City and the City' 

Best Short Story 
Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia, 'The Beloved Time of Their Lives' 


Neither Stephen Martiniere or China Mieville were able to pick up their awards, but had nice speeches in their place, China's was particularly good. Nick Lowe seemed genuinely very, very happy to receive the award after doing the column for 25 years. And then Ian Watson was co-hosting the awards, so it was one of those weird, almost awkward moments where there was acceptance and then back-to-business.

The ceremony though was entertaining, hosted by Donna Scott and Ian Watson, it could have been terrible and dry, but worked.

Congratulations to the winners. Commiserations to the people who didn't win: you made the short list so your winners anyway.

The 2010 Hugo and John W. Campbell Award Nominees

Taken directly from the AussieCon4 website the full list is below. As usual I've read none of the nominees, so can't really comment on them. I want to read The Windup Girl, and may have been persuaded to read The City & The City, the others I know nothing about. If the shorts go online I shall try and read them all. (Although I still haven't read the BSFA nominees yet, and The Awards just happened.)

I can however comment on FlashForward being nominated; WHAT?! ARE YOU ALL CRAZY? And then three of the worst Doctor Who episodes since Nu Who. Epitaph 1 FTW.

Also, Avatar: really?! Please vote for Moon everyone.

BEST NOVEL (699 nominating ballots)

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (Tor)
The City & The City by China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK)
Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson (Tor)
Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente (Bantam Spectra)
Wake by Robert J. Sawyer (Ace; Penguin; Gollancz; Analog)
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)

BEST NOVELLA (375 nominating ballots)

"Act One" by Nancy Kress (Asimov's 3/09)
The God Engines by John Scalzi (Subterranean)
"Palimpsest" by Charles Stross (Wireless)
Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow (Tachyon)
"Vishnu at the Cat Circus" by Ian McDonald (Cyberabad Days)
The Women of Nell Gwynne's by Kage Baker (Subterranean)

BEST NOVELETTE (402 nominating ballots)

"Eros, Philia, Agape" by Rachel Swirsky (Tor.com 3/09)
"The Island" by Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2)
"It Takes Two" by Nicola Griffith (Eclipse Three)
"One of Our Bastards is Missing" by Paul Cornell (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction: Volume Three)
"Overtime" by Charles Stross (Tor.com 12/09)
"Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast" by Eugie Foster (Interzone 2/09)

BEST SHORT STORY (432 nominating ballots)

"The Bride of Frankenstein" by Mike Resnick (Asimov's 12/09)
"Bridesicle" by Will McIntosh (Asimov's 1/09)
"The Moment" by Lawrence M. Schoen (Footprints)
"Non-Zero Probabilities" by N.K. Jemisin (Clarkesworld 9/09)
"Spar" by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld 10/09)

BEST RELATED WORK (259 nominating ballots)

Canary Fever: Reviews by John Clute (Beccon)
Hope-In-The-Mist: The Extraordinary Career and Mysterious Life of Hope Mirrlees by Michael Swanwick (Temporary Culture)
The Inter-Galactic Playground: A Critical Study of Children's and Teens' Science Fiction by Farah Mendlesohn (McFarland)
On Joanna Russ edited by Farah Mendlesohn (Wesleyan)
The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of SF Feminisms by Helen Merrick (Aqueduct)
This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is "I") by Jack Vance (Subterranean)

BEST GRAPHIC STORY (221 nominating ballots)

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? Written by Neil Gaiman; Pencilled by Andy Kubert; Inked by Scott Williams (DC Comics)
Captain Britain And MI13. Volume 3: Vampire State Written by Paul Cornell; Pencilled by Leonard Kirk with Mike Collins, Adrian Alphona and Ardian Syaf (Marvel Comics)
Fables Vol 12: The Dark Ages Written by Bill Willingham; Pencilled by Mark Buckingham; Art by Peter Gross & Andrew Pepoy, Michael Allred, David Hahn; Colour by Lee Loughridge & Laura Allred; Letters by Todd Klein (Vertigo Comics)
Girl Genius, Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm Written by Kaja and Phil Foglio; Art by Phil Foglio; Colours by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
Schlock Mercenary: The Longshoreman of the Apocalypse Written and Illustrated by Howard Tayler

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION - LONG FORM (541 nominating ballots)

Avatar Screenplay and Directed by James Cameron (Twentieth Century Fox)
District 9 Screenplay by Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell; Directed by Neill Blomkamp (TriStar Pictures)
Moon Screenplay by Nathan Parker; Story by Duncan Jones; Directed by Duncan Jones (Liberty Films)
Star Trek Screenplay by Robert Orci & Alex Kurtzman; Directed by J.J. Abrams (Paramount)
Up Screenplay by Bob Peterson & Pete Docter; Story by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, & Thomas McCarthy; Directed by Bob Peterson & Pete Docter (Disney/Pixar)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION - SHORT FORM (282 nominating ballots)

Doctor Who: "The Next Doctor" Written by Russell T Davies; Directed by Andy Goddard (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who: "Planet of the Dead" Written by Russell T Davies & Gareth Roberts; Directed by James Strong (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who: "The Waters of Mars" Written by Russell T Davies & Phil Ford; Directed by Graeme Harper (BBC Wales)
Dollhouse: "Epitaph 1" Story by Joss Whedon; Written by Maurissa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon; Directed by David Solomon (Mutant Enemy)
FlashForward: "No More Good Days" Written by Brannon Braga & David S. Goyer; Directed by David S. Goyer; based on the novel by Robert J. Sawyer (ABC)

BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM (289 nominating ballots)

Lou Anders
Ginjer Buchanan
Liz Gorinsky
 
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Juliet Ulman


BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM (419 nominating ballots)

Ellen Datlow
Stanley Schmidt
 
Jonathan Strahan
Gordon Van Gelder
Sheila Williams


BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST (327 nominating ballots)

Bob Eggleton
Stephan Martiniere
 
John Picacio
Daniel Dos Santos
Shaun Tan


BEST SEMIPROZINE (377 nominating ballots)

Ansible edited by David Langford
Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, & Cheryl Morgan
Interzone edited by Andy Cox
Locus edited by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong, & Liza Groen Trombi
Weird Tales edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal

BEST FAN WRITER (319 nominating ballots)

Claire Brialey
Christopher J Garcia
James Nicoll
Lloyd Penney
Frederik Pohl


BEST FANZINE (298 nominating ballots)

Argentus edited by Steven H Silver
Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
CHALLENGER edited by Guy H. Lillian III
Drink Tank edited by Christopher J Garcia, with guest editor James Bacon
File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
StarShipSofa edited by Tony C. Smith

BEST FAN ARTIST (199 nominating ballots)

Brad W. Foster
Dave Howell
 
Sue Mason
Steve Stiles
Taral Wayne


THE JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (NOT A HUGO AWARD) (356 nominating ballots)

Saladin Ahmed
Gail Carriger
 
Felix Gilman *
Seanan McGuire
Lezli Robyn *
* Second year of eligibility

April 3, 2010

Doctor Who - The Eleventh Hour



New Doctor. New companion. New TARDIS. New writer.

That's a lot to change in TV show that relies on a formula. Yet somehow it's managed to do it over all these years, and this time is no exception.

The Eleventh Hour was massively entertaining: fast, witty (I laughed a lot) and no annoying logic holes. The story had actual, real time travelling, and was a great whirlwind way to introduce the characters. Zippy dialogue and no one said anything stupid.

Matt Smith was really good, there's still traces of the 10th Doctor but in general he was a bit more bonkers, more eccentric and has the potential to be great. I have no worries.

Karen Gillian was also excellent as the feisty Scottish girl in an English village. I loved the way that her belief had to be earned. And yes, the police costume theories were all correct.

It left me smiling and happy and entertained, and that is surely the point.

The trailer shown at the end of the episode was also awesome. Can't wait.

 

D-Day. Or Perhaps DW-Day?



Do I need to remind you that today is the day that the first episode of the new Doctor Who series is first shown? Probably not. 6.20pm on BBC1 and BBC HD.

If you're on the US you'll have to wait another two weeks to see it on BBC America, which seems like a slightly silly delay and would suggest a large amount of bittorrent traffic.

Lots of build-up from the BBC. I heard another advert where the Doctor crashes a song, this time on Radio 2, and this time the DJs commented on it. The soundclash between Zane Lowe and Matt Smith on Radio 1 yesterday was a bit disappointing: lots of nerdy stuff about hip-hop, but Zane Lowe had never even seen Doctor Who and kept calling Matt Smith the new Doctor Who which was a bit irritating.

The official site has had a revamp, now it's all clear and big and blue and has a video of Stephen Moffat introducing The Eleventh Hour.

Excited.





April 1, 2010

April's Ansible Is Online

Undead vs. Human T-Shirt

You can never have too many zombie T-Shirts:

Which Side Is Better? - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever