"Science Fiction Fandom: your shortlists aren’t very good." Writer, critic and literary academic Adam Roberts has a problem with the shortlists for the 2009 Hugo Awards: in his view, they're unimaginative, conservative and profoundly lazy. Are his concerns valid? And even if they are, should anyone expect more from a popular nominated award voted on by people eligible only through having joined the current or previous World Science Fiction Convention? Given the existence of jury-selected awards such as the Nebula and Clarke, what's wrong with the Hugo letting ordinary readers and fans having the chance to vote for what they liked?
The New York Times profiles Jack Vance (but fails to mention Vancian Magic. (Curse you Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition!)
28 years ago they came to Earth. Explore the world of District 9. Consider a career with Multi-National United. Find out about enhancing your math skills with DNA from outer space. Play the game. And learn the truth behind the lies.
In the wake of Torchwood: Children of the Earth (screening on BBC America on the 20th for those in the US not inclined to muck about with the internets) critic Patrick West declares the British incapable of making decent television science fiction. (via)
Alien Nation is being revived for the SyFy channel by Tim Minear, whose previous credits include Firefly and Angel. [more inside]
On The Outside It Looked Like An Old- Fashioned Police Box - Mark Gatiss presents a Radio 4 documentary on the Target novelisations of Doctor Who stories. Free Doctor Who eBooks.
Editor Marty Halpern looks back at the career of George Alec Effinger (part 1, part 2, part 3), a prolific author best known for his work set in the Budayeen, a walled city in a future Islamic state, teeming with gangsters, hustlers and transsexual prostitutes, many of them habitual users of plug in personality modules. The noirish tone and exotic technology of the Marîd Audran books (When Gravity Fails, A Fire In The Sun, The Exile Kiss) made Effinger one of the leading lights in the cyberpunk movie, and spawned a videogame - a rare attempt at a graphical adventure from Infocom - and an RPG setting. Sadly Effinger faded from prominence after that, and he suffered from a number of health and financial setbacks before passing away in 2002. His work has had somewhat of a resurgence in popularity of late, with the Marîd Audran books coming back into print in 2007, a long with a collection containing The Wolves of Memory, Effinger's personal favourite amongst his novels.
NAWLZ: A science fiction flash-based graphic novel 'experiment in interactive storytelling' that's pretty cool. Now up to 13 'issues'. [more inside]
Isaac Asimov on how to be a dirty old man.
Tony Scott has confirmed that a prequel to Alien is in the works, with commercial director Carl Rinsch at the helm. Of course, his brother Ridley was no stranger to advertising. Meanwhile Dark Horse is celebrating 30 years of the franchise by releasing a new series of Aliens comics.
It’s only natural that if you wish to present yourself as a well-read person, a certain degree of complete bullshit is required. There’s no shame in lying about what you’ve read. There’s only shame in getting caught. Then you look like a doofus, and an illiterate one at that... How to lie about books.
“Until the recent Great Rebellion, the Jedi Bendu were the most feared warriors in the universe. For one hundred thousand years, generations of Jedi perfected their art as the personal bodyguards of the emperor. They were the chief architects of the invincible Imperial Space Force which expanded the Empire across the galaxy, from the celestial equator to the farthest reaches of the Great Rift. Now these legendary warriors are all but extinct. One by one they have been hunted down and destroyed as enemies of the New Empire by a ferocious and sinister rival warrior sect, the Knights of Sith.” - The first draft of Star Wars... was awful.
Dreams With Sharp Teeth – clips from a Sundance Channel documentary on science fiction writer (and somewhat litigious colourful character) Harlan Ellison. Harlan says pay the writer. (via)
Is Doctor Who too scary for kids? Parents surveyed by TheBabyWebsite seem to think so. But is being scared a good thing? (via io9)
Rules for Time Travelers [Spoiler? alert.]
The Art of Penguin Science Fiction is a historical guide to the design of book jackets in the Penguin SF line by James Pardey. But before reading the essay I recommend looking at some of the wonderful cover designs, for example We, Deathworld, Rork!, The Drowned World, Star Maker, The Evolution Man, Fifth Planet and Alternating Currents. They certainly don't make SF book jackets like they used to. All hundred plus covers can also be browsed alphabetically by author. [via The Guardian Books Blog]
Images from The Complete Book of Space Travel illustrated by Virgil Finlay, including an analysis of the space-crew candidate.
The SF Signal Mind Meld feature poses science fiction related questions to a number of SF luminaries and the scientist, science writer or blogger. Subjects have included the best women writers in SF, taboo topics in SF, underated authors and the most controversial SF novels of the past and present. The also cover lighter topics, such the role of media tie-ins, how Battlestar Galactica could have ended better (bonus Geoff Ryman) and the realistic (or otherwise) use of science on TV SF shows.
James Wallace Harris on Variable Star, Spider Robinson's posthumous collaboration with Robert A Heinlein, the elements that make up a Heinlein juvenile and what the equivalent might be today.
SpaceCollective. Where forward thinking terrestrials exchange ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction today. A growing number of universities, architecture and design schools are conducting projects on this site. Hundreds of art treasures, educational videos and narratives are found in their galleries. Every SpaceCollective member is provided with a personal time capsule, preserving their contributions for the edification of each other as well as future times and beings.
StarshipSofa has podcasted all of the Nebula Best Short Story Nominees for 2008, following on from podcasting all but one of the 2008 BSFA short story nominees. Previous StarshipSofa.
Keep watching the skies - The New York Times looks back at 50s Sci Fi films in anticipation of Alien Trespass, the new film from X-Files veteran R.K. Goodwin. One or two of those classics haven't even been remade yet!
Ken MacLeod, Paul Cornell, Iain [M] Banks and Ian Watson comment on the relationship between science fiction and science fact.
Fantasy Meets Reality. The very best works of science fiction illuminate controversial current events and the intricacies of human nature. So, it's no surprise that the United Nations Public Information Department and the Sci Fi (SyFy?) Channel co-hosted a panel yesterday evening on "humanitarian concerns" at the UN, with the creators and actors of Battlestar Galactica -- a show which regularly explores those themes. A 2-hour video webcast is archived here. (RealPlayer video). Entertainment Weekly has an additional write-up. [more inside]
Sci Fi has a new name. Now it's SyFy. The Sci Fi Channel is distancing itself from its geek demographic by rebranding its network. The former SyFy Portal website (a nerd news outlet) has been rebranded "Airlock Alpha" after selling the name to an "undisclosed recipient".
Science fiction stories in six words. Some by well known scifi authors. Click "Previous Articles" for earlier stories. For me, A.S. Byatt's is most haunting. A sub-genre of "Six Word Stories".
Pioneering science fiction writer Philip Jose Farmer, who won a Hugo in 1953 for Most Promising New Talent for his disturbing story, The Lovers, died today at age 91. [more inside]
60+ One-Of-A-Kind Robots From Science Fiction. "You'd think a major advantage of robots is you can mass-produce them. They're just metal-and-circuit bodies. But science fiction is full of one-of-a-kind bots. Here are all the bots for whom they broke the mold."
It's a tough life as a media tie-in writer. Vonda N. McIntyre, early pioneer in the field and author of the Star Trek film novelisations, blogs about how she started the Star Trek novel franchise with The Entropy Effect, despite suggestions that maybe she do something more respectable like be a waitress instead. [via io9]
Concept art for the Alien 3 that never was - Before the Walter Hill version was shot, entirely in brown, by David Fincher there were many iterations of the Alien 3 script. One of the more exotic ones was the Vincent Ward & John Fasano "monks in space" script, illustrated here. [via io9]
Previously discussed last fall, ABC has officially greenlit a pilot for its reworking of "V." [more inside]
Today marks the 200th birthday of Edgar Alan Poe, and as happens every year the mysterious Poe Toaster marked the date by placing three red roses and a half-filled bottle of cognac at his Baltimore grave. The identity of the toaster isn't the only question surrounding Poe - his presence in Baltimore and the circumstances of his death remain a mystery. Some speculate that he may have had rabies, others that he may have been a victim of cooping. And while Baltimore embarks on a year long celebration of Poe some argue that his body shouldn't be there at all.
At the time of its production, it was the most expensive British TV series ever made. In addition to highly regarded special effects, it had one of all-time great theme songs.(previously)
Top 10 Science Fiction Flicks For The Thinking Man (beerandscifi version) - The Portland based blog (with a very admirable focus) takes on the Rotten Tomatoes list with a less dull alternative. (via)
The Sea of Perdition - Children of the Kingdom - Black Tulips - Three short films by South African-born film director Richard Stanley. Stanley's career took off with Hardware (an unacknowledged adaptation the 2000ad story Shok!) and the apocalyptic African western/Horror movie Dust Devil, then hit the rocks with the doomed 1996 version of the Island of Doctor Moreau, from which he was fired and replaced by John Frankenheimer. Stanley hasn't directed a feature film since... though he now has two films in preproduction, Vacation and Bones of the Earth. The original script for Moreau can be read on his unofficial site, as well as the script for a sequel to Hardware. Richard Stanley's MySpace Blog is also very strange.
The new Star Trek movie is both canon and a (partial) reboot. Screenwriter Roberto Orci explains using canon examples - and a discussion of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. [more inside]
Aliens vs Predator: Whoever wins, you lose - MeFi's own jscalzi talks about the worst Sci-Fi film of the year. Meanwhile Sigourney Weaver and Ridley Scott suggest making another alien movie - with Ripley but without any aliens. It's may not be all bad news for xenomorphs though - 2009 will see the release of Aliens: Colonial Marines is still just around the corner, hopefully.
Jane Espenson is a tv writer you might have heard of if you've been watching few science fiction and related genre shows in recent years. For awhile now she's been answering questions about script writing from readers of her blog and gracing the blogosphere with her insights into the craft of writing a good story for tv and movies. Today she announced that she's taking a break from advice blogging because she's running out of new ideas for topics to cover.
All Nightmare Long is a nine-minute-long alternative-history science fiction/horror fake documentary with stop motion animation, rotoscoping and Soviet propaganda thrown in. There's also a Metallica song attached to it, but you might not even notice it's a music video. (Or watch it on Youtube)
Clarkesworld Magazine has been serving up new science fiction and fantasy short fiction monthly free of charge since October of 2006. The current issue has a story by Robert Reed. Among the authors who have been published in Clarkesworld Magazine are Mike Resnick, Elizabeth Bear, Jeff VanderMeer and Sarah Monette. Clarkesworld has a podcast of readings of selected stories from the magazine. The magazine also publishes non-fiction, separated into two categories, commentary and interviews. Among those interviewed are Gene Wolfe, Kage Baker and Steven Erikson. There is also a covers gallery and a discussion forum.