June 2010 Archives

June 30, 2010

Matt Smith With Orbital At Glastonbury Playing The Doctor Who Theme

June 29, 2010

A Star Wars T-Shirt For Her

From Her Universe, the Star Wars shop for female fans, it's Luke...

June 28, 2010

Doctor Who And The Big Reset Button - Series 2010



If there was one hope I had for the final episode of the 2010 series of Doctor Who it was that there would not be a Big Reset Button. The BRB was a favourite of Russell T. Davies. RTD would put The Doctor into an impossible position and then pull him out of it with a huge piece of nonsensical magic in the biggest snub to Science Fiction possible. I had hoped that Steven Moffat was better than that. It appears not.

The Big Bang was confusing, full of plot holes and left a bunch of dangling threads.

On the plus side it had time travel.

The Pandorica Opens, the first part of the two part episode did not set things up well. Yes, it was enjoyable watching River Song blaze through history in search of The Doctor, in fact River was probably the best thing in these two episodes, but that doesn't mean it made sense. Perhaps I'm missing the point? Perhaps we're not supposed to know all of the answers and Moffat is doing some long game Lost style plot arc? 

For a start, who constructed The Pandorica? The Daleks et. al? If not who? If yes, then how did they construct the perfect prison, how did they create technology that could restore life? How did The Doctor know so much about it? The fact that these questions are even coming to mind is a bad sign. Are we really expected to just swallow a big box that saves the day? Are we really expected that the Daleks would work with the Cybermen to lock up The Doctor? Don't they have too big egos for that? In fact would any of those races work together? Really? I don't believe it. Any of it. It's not even internally consistent.

The time travel shenanigans were good. One constant question asked about Doctor Who is why he doesn't just time travel and sort things out. Moffat has been leading the way in New Who with his use of time travel and in The Big Bang he went full on Back To The Future 2, with leaps back and forward, dinks through time and a fez. However in the midst of that fun The Doctor managed to survive a shot from a Dalek and crawl away.

And finally The Big Reset button itself. It appears that it's inevitable these days in Doctor Who. How could they possibly escape from the end of time? Fly the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS of course. Duh. Then watch a literal reset of the series, everything rewound to the start. Why oh why oh why? I liked the start with Amy forgetting The Doctor and the stars not existing, that was good, but bringing The Doctor back with a memory, that's just weak. Almost as bad as the House Elf hope episode.

Which is a shame because on the whole this series has been positive:

Bad episodes: The Beast Below, The Hungry Earth, Cold Blood, The Pandorica Opens, The Big Bang.

Mediocre
Okay episodes: The Eleventh Hour, Victory Of The Daleks, The Time Of Angels, The Vampires Of Venice, 

Great episodes: Flesh And Stone, Amy's Choice, Vincent And The Doctor, The Lodger

The best episodes were those that dared to be different and throw off the shackles of the formula. The introduction of River Song as more than a bit part character was also good. The dialogue on the whole was sharp and witty, there were touching moments and the visuals were cool and stylish. But please, please, can we have some stronger stories?

Is that really too much to ask? I'm getting tired of the excuse that it's a kid's show and getting tired of being disappointed.


June 24, 2010

Rollerball T-Shirt

Ooooh, nice.


June 21, 2010

My story "Flock, Shoal, Herd" Has Won The James White Award

It was announced at the BSFA AGM on Saturday that my story "Flock, Shoal, Herd" won this year's James White Award. I'm immensely thrilled and honoured. Knowing that someone, apart from me, liked a story I wrote is such a joy.

Congratulations to the other writers on the shortlist, I look forward to reading them in the future.

If you are interested here is a list of my published stories, most of which you can read online for free.


June 15, 2010

BSFA AGM Programme

The programme for the BSFA AGM has been published:

 

9:30 -- Doors Open
10:00 -- Welcome
10:05 -- SFF panel: "How do we understand TV as a literary medium?" - Simon Bradshaw (moderator), Una McCormack, Adam Roberts, Rob Shearman
11:00 -- SFF guest: Rob Shearman interviewed by Jane Killick
12:00 -- BSFA AGM - Agenda and documents here
12:30 -- Lunch
13:30 -- SFF AGM
14:00 -- BSFA guest: Malcolm Edwards interviewed by Graham Sleight
15:00 -- BSFA Panel: "Is fandom a valuable support for genre publishing or merely a pleasant diversion?" - Ian Whates (moderator), Malcolm Edwards, Caroline Mullan, Ian Watson
16.00 -- Close

The AGM is this Saturday, 19th June at The Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House.

June 14, 2010

Video Of Paolo Bacigalupi Talking At Google

Google get some good authors to speak at their HQ, including very recently Paolo Bacigalupi, author of The Windup Girl. There's fifty one minutes, embedded below. Really interesting stuff, including a lovely story of how he started writing. Well worth watching.
 

June 9, 2010

Moxyland - Lauren Beukes

From the first page of Moxyland I knew it was Cyberpunk. Not exactly the same content or ideas as the cyberpunk of twenty years ago, but the same attitude and texture.

There are four plots, following four characters in first person point of view. After a couple of rounds of the two plots we have seen several sides to each character, their own point of view and also what at least one of the other characters think of them. It's a perfect example of using first person perspective to its fullest. Also pleasing is that the characters aren't all sweetness and light, and often highly unsympathetic, adding to the realism: it's not all black and white.

The language is funky and cool, portraying South Africa vividly. There's a great sense of place including slick corporate apartments, street kids, subways and fringe parts of the city. These descriptions blend nicely with the great ideas in Moxyland, from the novel (and scary) use of mobile phones, to the fresh riffs on the cyberpunk staple of corporate lives, to the innovative use of bio-tech and marketing. Plenty of brain fodder.

The plot is slow to get going, winding the tension handle slowly and showing off the world and the characters. Despite the plot building slowly the novel doesn't feel slow because the characters are so intriguing. And eventually the plot explodes in a quite unexpected and nasty way, leaving us with a downbeat ending.

I thoroughly enjoyed Moxyland, the first proper cyberpunk that I've read in years, it's fresh and funky and spiky, containing plenty of ideas to linger in your thoughts afterwards.

June 7, 2010

Read An Extract From Greg Egan's New Book Zendegi

Greg Egan has an extract from his new book Zendegi on his website

It sounds like the novel is about Iran, mapping the human brain and virtual reality. Which means that it's likely to be an awesome monster Egan brain explosion. 

Zendegi is published on 17th June 2010.

June 5, 2010

Star Wars Adidas Originals Party

Noel Galagher, Ian Brown, Snoop Dogg and David Beckham in the Mos Eisley Cantina? Yes! In the adidas Originals World Cup Party.

June 4, 2010

Lost: The Finale


When Lost began it felt like a rarity: a mainstream smash hit that blatantly revelled in large dollops of Science Fiction and deliberately hid the answers. Not many would have guessed its success, yet it was successful, in main by concentrating on the characters, the heart of any good story. Those who objected to all the Sci-Fi nonsense were hooked in by the slowly revealed mosaic of the characters' lives, those who loved all the Sci-Fi nonsense (me!) derived extra enjoyment from the sheer bonkers plot. 

Despite enjoying the story, a chunk of the mainstream public became obsessed with "answers". Whilst I became a little nervous that perhaps the makers of Lost would crumble under the  pressure of this quest and that JJ would open his mystery box to ruin everything (especially after the Jacob and Smoke Monster back-story). 

Why did people crave more answers? Answers have been handed out through pretty much every season of the show. Perhaps these people weren't paying attention? Perhaps they were looking for the ultimate truth? Those people will always be disappointed, there is no ultimate truth: The Smoke Monster was a monster, The Island was a magical island. It's not important, these items are the scaffolding for the story, a wonderful, engaging, joyous story. A story with an end that was uplifting and perfectly satisfying.

What did the finale give us? Firstly, The final confrontation between The Smoke Monster and our heroes. What we assumed was the end of the story, but with regards to The Island it's just another chapter. It came down to Jack versus (not really) Locke and both died. Jack eventually finding peace with the realisation of his destiny. Symmetrical and finally ending the thread that began at the start of the Lost story. The final scene an exact mirror of the first scene, just as JJ had always imagined it. Some of our heroes escaped: happily Sawyer finally left The Island, with Kate and Claire and Miles and The Pilot in the crazy semi-crashed plane. Hopefully Miles and Sawyer do become cops in their life after The Island. Hurley stayed on The Island with Ben to be the new Guardians. Desmond was left half dead and stranded with the two of them. Everyone else was dead! All of which sounds perfunctory, merely tying up the threads, and on its own it would have been just that, however the genius of the episode was the flash sideways thread, which the whole season has been joyous, and set up the finale in a beautiful manner.

I had assumed that the alternative reality (or flash sideways if you prefer) was the story of our heroes redemptions: what they could have been, what they should have been. It was payback for all the time we had invested in their characters, a happy moment to watch their potential. Then Said turned bad and Desmond ran Locke over, before turning into the all-knowing puppet master. Right up until quite near the end I hadn't realised what was going on, but the final revelation that the alternate world was the after-life was handled brilliantly. It could have been so cheesey, but instead all of the characters found their love or found their peace, meeting up to say one final goodbye. I absolutely loved the moments where the characters remembered their time on The Island: Claire and Charlie meeting was one of my highlights. Yes it was sentimental and nostalgic, but it was also warm and loving and quite brilliant. A perfect way to finish.

The finale did not disappoint.

Thank you to everyone involved in the making of Lost. You made a classic and I loved it.

Truly, truly wonderful. 

June 3, 2010

Pulse On BBC3 Tonight

Don't forget that Pulse is on BBC3 tonight, in fact imminently, at 9pm.It's written by Ben Teasdale and Paul Cornell and sounds like a scary SF hospital drama. In fact Paul said to us on Wordpunk Radio that it's the sort of show to make people not want to go in a hospital ever again.

And if you miss it, it'll be on the iPlayer.

The Vader Project



100 Darth Vader helmets re-imagined into works of art by 100 artists. There's no full catalogue online, but the cover looks cool. If you're in LA or Philadelphia you can get to see them in person, check out the website for details.

June 1, 2010

Lightspeed Magazine Is Online

Lightspeed Magazine, the new Science Fiction Magazine is online and looking rather gorgeous.

It has fiction, non-fiction, audio and electronic formats. I shall dive in shortly. Here's the blurb to tempt you more...

Lightspeed is an online magazine focusing exclusively on science fiction. Here you can expect to see all types of science fiction, from near-future, sociological soft sf, to far-future, star-spanning hard sf, and anything and everything in between. No subject will be considered off-limits, and we encourage our writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope.

Each month at Lightspeed, we bring you a mix of originals and reprints, and featuring a variety of authors--from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the best new voices you haven't heard of yet. When you read Lightspeed, it is our hope that you'll see where science fiction comes from, where it is now, and where it's going.

Lightspeed also features a variety of nonfiction features...


June's Ansible Is Online