Thursday, September 30, 2004

And One More.

I didn't know that James Doohan has Alzhiemer's Wil Wheaton reports.

This blog may be quieter for the next few days as we do SPX, but don't be fooled... it's coming back soon with the same great taste and a few special guests.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Who Cares? It's Only Iowa.

Invasion Iowa does not exist. Millions of Trekkers and Iowans have been hoaxed, but all in the name of a good cause-- reality TV. Mr. Shatner, did you see yesterday's entry? I'm TRYING to keep you out of trouble, here!

Meanwhile, Gay Trekkers top German box office.

The 2004 British Fantasy Society Awards.

We inch closer to space tourism.

Okay, when Wired says a game is only for hardcore nerds...

The battle for the animation Oscar!

The maker of "The Making of Star Wars."

A reader of Fans has done layouts for another book about voting machines.

Bugs will save the Earth!


Robots in your bank.

Crow T. Robot writes Starship Dave.

Yu-Gi-Oh teams up with Jesus Christ.

Congratulations to Tribnet, which reports on a furry con and pretty much gets it right.

China is ga-ga over 2046.

Finally, from Boing Boing and the War on Terror: Hey kids! Comics!


Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Just finished an utterly EXHAUSTING article for Comixpedia, and have a busy morning ahead, so this entry will be quick. Although the way I write these things, you might not be able to tell the difference.

Now that Crossgen's gone up for sale, this may be your last chance to read all their comics for $4.50. Yes, I know it says $3.00 on the homepage, but it lies.

Emerald City has the last Worldcon report I'll link to, promise.

NOISY link: I like the fact that Team America is "not yet rated." I mean, it's a perfectly harmless little puppet movie (using "supercrappynation") that mocks every horrible thing that has happened to the USA and the world in the last four years. From the creators of South Park. I can just see some old fossil on the MPAA going, "Rated R for... violence? Well, they're puppets... Nudity?"

I cannot freaking BELIEVE that we're going ahead with voting machines this year, despite all the warnings. My friend David Allen of Plan 9 Publishing helped write a book about this.

I'm sorry for John E. Mack and those who mourn him, but you have to admit that "UFO Expert Perishes in Crash" is an amusingly misleading headline.

Ray Bradbury agrees with me about the news.

William Shatner isn't the only Star Trek guy to win an Emmy.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell is starting to look really good. Who doesn't long for magic of some sort?

Finally, James Doohan's farewell, and one fan's anger at two of his former co-stars. The piece rambles badly, but there's an authentic feeling to it. I suspect that either Shatner just couldn't go through with it at the last minute, or the con organizers underestimated Doohan's feelings on the matter and Doohan was the one who decided Bill wouldn't be in the cast shot. Leonard always seems to try to be both of their friends, but as the only real friend Bill has left in the cast, it usually falls to him to support Bill at times like this. That's my read; I could be totally wrong. One way or another, it's always sad when two basically good men end their lives as enemies.


Be Afraid.

Be very afraid. Peak oil expert Richard Heinberg writes A Letter from the Future.

Maya Keyes, the homophobic Alan's lesbian daughter, blogs a bit of SF.

Museum exhibit shows us what we showed the aliens in the 1970s.

The latest bit of George Lucas stupidity to be noticed.

The race to make your DVDs obsolete.

Oh, look! SF leads the number of illegal book downloads, too.

These days, the TV Beauty and the Beast's fans are still a swell bunch, but the fan base is dying fast. Most people who invoke the title mean either the Broadway musical, the animated film or, you know, the original legend. Still, at least no one can say Ron Perlman isn't keeping busy.

Finally, according to Pat Tallman via Frustrated Pilot, Tim Choate has died in an motorcycle-automotive collision. There are some quotes from his Zathras character that seem rather macabre now, but I just don't think it'd be appropriate to use them. More on this as we get it.


Monday, September 27, 2004

The Big Question:

Can the Internet change us for the better-- and what role do SF communities have to play in that change? Mark Wegierski asks.

Most alien invaders are doomed by their own biology. Nice article, if you can ignore the writer's tendency to tack on flip comments at the end of each paragraph.

Okay, I admit I seriously underestimated Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Yes, it's a little papery, but if you have any affection for classic SF cinema or classic comic books, it'll charm the socks off ya.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is back on the radio.

One typical fan's response to the changes in Star Wars.

Remember Deep Impact? Asteroid? Well, guess what. "NEOs," "Near-Earth Objects," are being taken a lot more seriously.

Remember that constantly spinning spacecraft from 2001? Well, guess what.

Timothy Zahn's latest book and strangest fan encounter.

Finally, a review of M. John Harrison's Light, the second review I've seen that calls it the best SF book of the year. May be worth checking out.


Saturday, September 25, 2004


Slow news day for SF. First few links I can find all have something to do with money, so let's go with that.

eBay's science fiction bids.

Brandchannel tracks the brand mentions in the latest box-office successes, including many SF films.

Kenneth Tan's model collection is worth $35K. Pffft. Amateur.

Webcomics World: It's that time again, time to say "Hello and Goodbye" at Graphic Smash.

Doctors are taking Fantastic Voyages with the camera pill.

Star Wars: Battlefront plays to Lucas' strengths.

Article on video game musical scores.

Dunno how I missed linking this before now: The Last Starfighter: The Musical. Not makin' this one up either.

Finally, get ready, get set: the domain name SCIENCEFICTIONBLOG.COM is coming...


MiST: To Mock a Film or TV Show in the Style of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Want to see an improv company's MiSTing of Star Wars? Tough.

Although he has one strike against him by calling all SF "the literature of adolescent boys" and another by implicitly dissing evolution, Tom Smedley does have a few interesting ideas about the genre. For a more liberal view, see Michel Basilières.

Lamest comparison of something to Star Trek ever.

Well, it certainly sounds like something Arnie would do.

An old interview being given new attention: a cure for aging?

The woman who created the Doctor Who soundtrack died a few years back, but not before bringing electronic music to the British mainstream. This is her story.

Low-budget SF movies make new strides.

George Takei shares his experiences with another frontier.

Strange Horizons has an ongoing donation drive.

Finally, via Boing Boing, Half-Life 2 fans are invited to enjoy... um... an Architectural Digest-style sampling of the game, set to a techno beat. Some links get most of their entertainment value by making you say, "people actually think this has entertainment value?" But hey, it's only 30 seconds of your life.


Friday, September 24, 2004

Time to Find Out How Many People Are Reading This.

Webcomics World: Discussion of a more accurate Nielsens for webcomics has pretty much stalled out. I'd appreciate anyone who's got other ideas to contribute to this thread.

FASCINATING interview with Neal Stephenson.

Klingons for Kerry. 3 out of 4 Klingons support him. The remainder will be voting for Satan. No, not Bush, the actual Prince of Lies. No, still not Bush. I'M NOT MAKIN' THIS UP, PEOPLE.

David Gerrold has a Worldcon convention report. Interesting to see how the Hugo-losers see it. Link courtesy Locus Magazine, which also has a nice interview with the oldest major SF editor, David G. Hartwell, excerpted here.

CNN reviews: Larry Niven's Ringworld's Children, and The Forgotten. Someone really should warn filmmakers that titles like "The Forgotten" just beg reviewers to pick on them-- "It's forgettable! Ha!" Naming a movie "The Forgotten" is like naming your kid "Percival."

Wait, let me get this straight: a zombie comedy has a 90+% score on Rotten Tomatoes? Maybe I do have to see this one.

This looks fun: an interactive murder mystery play called "A Star is Dead." Scene is a science-fiction convention that honors the fictitious program "Dragon Star Galaxy." If you're near Reston, check it out.

In paid movie downloads, as in most things, science fiction leads the way.

Smart dust builds its endurance. Similarly, real ray-guns?

Finally, George Lucas haxxorz your XBox.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Get Lost.

The best hour I spent with the tube in quite a while. Dig this series.

SF TV Preview 2.

This is the WEIRDEST form of science fiction I've found all year: American wrestling features exotic, Japanese-inspired characters like Dr. Cube, the "mostly evil plastic surgeon," who butchers his opponents much like his profile butchers the English language. Thanks for the tip go to, of all sources, NPR. (Thanks to Picky Bostonian Yuji for correcting inaccuracies in the early version of this post.)

While he's holding auditions for Invasion Iowa, we have another William Shatner sighting by Stembuk. I'd make a joke about Stembuk's "high moral fiber" in sending it in, but why subject you to such agony?

The "endless revision syndrome" is spreading from Star Wars films to video games. But Irvin Kershner says to take it easy on Lucas-- at least, regarding Empire Strikes Back.

Here you go, heathens: "Science fiction is a dreary description of Hell in different forms. Man, without God, cannot conceive of anything truly good." So saith Bruce Walker, who used to campaign for Barry Goldwater, and who fills his article with more idiocies per word than anyone else I've read lately. Testify!

SF writers invited to symposium on "Exploration and Risk," along with mountain climbers, oceanographers, and scientists.

Long live the MMORPGFPS!

Stephen King's Dark Tower 7, called The Dark Tower just to confuse you, is in stores now. Excerpt here.

The arts community is fawning over Glenn Brown, who rips off other artists including SF illustrator Chris Foss. Skip the diluted stuff and just check out Chris Foss.

And finally, for the Whovians from yesterday... you listening, Greg?... we could get Tom Baker back in Doctor Who, but that may not be "good news..."


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I Bore Myself.

I'm Neo again. I'm not sure how happy I am about that, he's far from the most likable movie hero, and he puts me right to sleep in the last movie. I'd really rather be Smith. But eh. Could be worse. Could be Luke. Thanks to Frustrated Pilot.

The Herald reviews an utterly fascinating-sounding play about hotel partitioning and time travel. If you're in England, go see.

Fictionwise offers free SF eBooks. They might not ALL suck.

Pun for Korean-speaking SF fans. You guys think I'M esoteric?

Things he/she doesn't get about Star Wars. 'Sokay, I don't get Boba Fett either. counts the latest Star Wars changes.

Too fascinating to link: Fantastic Four is going up against War of the Worlds next year. Who will cut into whose weekend grosses?! And, who cares?

Webcomics: Unfortunately, the Comixpedia Webcomics Ranking is less accurate this time than last time, by most indications. Debate on how to fix it here.

William Shatner has better things to do than Enterprise, anyway.

Nice to see a literary SF club flourishing. Similarly, an SCA chapter.

General consensus is that Neal Stephenson's latest effort's not so hot.

Finally, the promised Doctor Who roundup. The creators of the show couldn't have anticipated how hard it would be to search, what with all the false matches for "a doctor, who..." But we persevere.

The main site has plenty to offer; it knows its audience REAL well. I like how the BBC has a section specifically devoted to cult shows. Also of special interest are its "photo-novels" (sequential art, by another name) and endless production notes. However, it can't match the obsessive energy of Gallifrey One.

Although a few years out of date, everything a newbie needs to know about the Doc is pretty much here. A more insanely detailed (and up-to-date) episode guide is here. Then there's the Doctor Who Restoration Team, a group founded to restore the color to old Who episodes, and the Doctor Who Cuttings Archive, dedicated to collecting news articles about the Doctor since... 1963. Now THAT is dedication.


Leia's a Riot.

Carrie Fisher especially is in fine form on the Star Wars DVD. Link to spoilers.

The other kind of Star Wars: There's a kind of Starship Troopers-style mix of charm and horror at anything called an "Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle."

Don't look now, but here comes The Last Starfighter: The Musical.

Oh, NO! Sky Captain may not become a franchise! HORRORS! Remember when sequels were afterthoughts?

Coming soon to a theater near you if you're near any theaters: Tekken, Resident Evil 3, and Pac-Man: The Hunted. Okay, just kidding. But I'D buy a ticket. Also, Parasite Dolls stretches Bubblegum that much farther.

For less mainstream fare, read about Hong Kong's 2046.

Didjaknow the series Lost hasn't even premiered and already has an "official fansite?"

World of Webcomics: It never rains but it pours when it comes to webcomics news. Recent events: Howard Tayler just became a professional webcartoonist, there's another webcomics award vote out there, and Bite Me just wrapped up. Oh, hell, from now on I'm just going to link to the Comixpedia blog and be done with it.

And finally, the Star Trek franchise owners somehow manage to get even dumber. "Money? You want to work for... money?" (Yes, yes, I know that Enterprise's budget is probably in free-fall and Shatner is sure to ask for a bundle, especially after the Emmy. But they should have REALIZED THIS before they started taking meetings...)


Sunday, September 19, 2004

Just a quickie today to balance out yesterday's double-header.

Technology Review's top 100 inventors.

Matter-antimatter chambers: how close are we? Not as close as you might think.

For gamers, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War gets it right.

From Indonesia, Lady Terminator. Because there aren't enough DVDs about monsters who devour sexual organs during intercourse. Why didn't James Cameron try that?

Resident Evil has paved the way, now it's time for the granddaddy of all first-person shooter video game movies...

I don't have anything much to say about Shatner's Emmy win-- I missed the performance in question, I'm afraid. Still, Shatner's a flawed but likable guy, and for all the ribbing he gets, he can really bring it home when he wants to. I'm happy for him.

And finally, there are those who believe there may yet be brothers of man... or sisters of woman who used to be man... it's coming. January 2005.

Tomorrow, per Greg Eatroff's request, a Doctor Who roundup.


Webcomics: Ripping, Stripping and Tripping

The discussion about "ripper" programs continues...

For those who came in late, "rippers" are designed to suck strips from their native websites and deposit them into a single interface for the convenience of the reader. The problem is, this denies cartoonists revenue from advertising, merchandising, and any other peripherals to the strip itself. Graphic Smash is fairly ripper-resistant, but not 100% proof against a really dedicated haxxor, and many of my cartooning friends are less protected.

Some say that cartoonists should be embracing ripper programs as a new format and means of promoting themselves. Others say ripper programs are "here to stay," and we'd better face the future and start workin' with 'em, like it or not. My take?

DVD piracy is also "here to stay," and so are robbery, embezzlement, rape and many other unpleasant things. Perhaps we can't eliminate them from the face of the earth, but we can and should and must reduce their effects. Pirate-programmers who use the "here to stay" argument seem to feel it's our fault for being so darned tempting a target. Somebody was going to knock over that gas station! Well, of course I embezzled, who wouldn't? That chica in the short skirt was asking for it!

The argument that ripper programs and/or the more benign RSS feed can be made to serve cartoonists' interests has more merit. A few years back, Steve Conley was pursuing an economic model called "tooncasting," with advertisements and promotion of merchandise contained within his strip's image files. It didn't set the world on fire, but perhaps he was ahead of his time, and something like that might work better in the Internet of today.

But it's gotta be opt-in. And the strips with the greatest incentive to try it are new strips, which rippers have so far shown little interest in. Rippers prefer to go after the big names, who've spent the last 3-7 years building up a business model that sorta works, and who don't really want to change it all around, just because a code-jockey from Kennebunkport thinks it's "time" for them to "get with the program."

So yes, there might be a comics-distributing program, one day, that will make the reading of comics even easier for the benefit of all. But it'll have to come from a unified effort of programmers and small-change webcartoonists. Only after they've shown it can succeed will the big names be interested.

And what we have now is not any kind of communal effort. We just have the occasional programmer announcing his beautiful new wallet-stealing machine, and then looking crestfallen when people ask for their wallets back.

And that's all I got to say about that.


Oh, Well. Humanity Had A Good Run.

Robot builds its own brain. Puny hu-mons flee in terror. Especially in Arkansas.

Now on DVD. But Greedo still shoots first.

The Animatrix has started a trend.

Can you recommend some specific SF works to fit Kennedy's description of a "science fiction nightmare?"

Ten pivotal films in SF history. Generally well-written, though a bit gushy toward the end. on sex and SF.

Tom Cruise opens brainwashing factor-- sorry, Scientology center. Spanish-language site here.

Webcomics World: Avast, it be Talk Like A Pirate Day, but fewer webcomics be celebratin'. My fellow Washingtonians Chris Impink and Barb Fischer came up with this, and Sluggy got its observance done early, but in general this one seems to be slipping off the cultural radar, even in strips with characters actually named Davy Jones. A scurvy shame.

And the discussion about "ripper" programs continues... I have a lot to say about this one, so it goes into another post.


Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Latest

Get ready for the 2005 Star Wars Fan Film Awards. No, I mean READY. Stand at attention, soldier.

Article on the growing piracy of ridiculously overpriced college textbooks... and, incidentally, science-fiction and fantasy books. I believe (unpopular as it may make me on the Net) that piracy is wrong, but I do care more when it happens to people who charge fair or more-than-fair prices for their wares.

Exclusive peek at Darklight.

See the fall 2004 fashions that were described by the New York Times as "science fiction." Compare with The Jetsons.

Disgusting, barely-human fan embarrasses the larger community, as happens every couple of years.

Scientology is 50 years old this year, just like the fallout at Bikini Island!

Robots eat flies.

World of Webcomics: Modern Tales is now selling adspace, Jennifer Diane Reitz is recovering from a heart attack.

Can a blind man draw? Star Wars charity poster says yes.

The idea of a JSA story featuring Hugo Gernsback and Jack Williamson would be pretty interesting if DC Comics hadn't JUST FINISHED a set of Julius Schwartz tributes. And even as SCI FI calls it "cool," they have to admit that it's coasting on its gimmick. Kevin J. Anderson, the comics world seems to think you are a great writer. Could you try performing like one, in comics? They're not slumming, you know.

And finally, also from SCI FI, the SF TV roundup, part 1.


Thursday, September 16, 2004

Wait. Gotham City? That Gotham City?

Got an hour to polish this off, so let's get to it!

"Man (using machines) versus Machine. Only one will survive." My bet's on Man. But that's just me.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, set in some other Gotham City, opens today. Reviews are generally positive, and it's certainly a great technical achievement. I'll give it a chance, but I am concerned that the trailer gives us ZERO interesting character moments, seems to think Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow are equal actresses, and gets its aesthetic from foggy, blurry poster design.

Maybe I'm just getting old. No, wait, this movie's supposed to be a nostalgia trip for the 30s, 40s and 50s. Maybe I'm just getting young.

On the other hand, considering his taste in memorabilia, I am sorry Johnny Ramone never got to see it.

Ghost in the Shell 2 is also arriving. Sex toys strike back! The revolution will be vibrated!

The Science Fiction Museum is goin' strong.

The latest program to fleece webcartoonists of their hard-earned pennies is up for debate here and here. I say a couple of naughty words in one thread. Well, naughty for me, anyway. Y'all will excuse me if I'm too disgusted to link straight to the "ripper" itself, right?

Coming soon to VH1: When Star Wars Ruled the World.

Walk in a robot fighter, leave a global ambassador.

Film student dreams do come true.

And finally, Kill Harry.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Day Is Here.

Scroll down for webcomics stuff. First, the actual science-fiction part of the program...

Goodbye, C3PO.

"Hey, that's what would make Star Trek better! Another brainless chick with hooters!"

When there is no more crime, this is what will happen to Batman.

NASA sez: read Ringworld.

EVE Online just keeps breaking MMORPG records.

Another list o' great movie moments for geeks.

Yiddish perspective on the Sci-Fi Channel incarnation of Lilith.

James Hughes on transhumanism.

Dr. Paul Moller wants to put you in a Skycar!

Danny Elfman is just everywhere. His latest gig: providing voices for the Oompa Loompas in the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Bringing Fantagraphics back from the brink.

How the universe came to be: the "Li'l Pop" theory. Better than the "Sneezing Turtle" theory, at least.

Personal notes: my webcartoonist buddy and Fans musician and singer Kara Dennison is on a roll, and my webcartoonist buddy and old boss Chris Mills is in print.

Finally, World of Webcomics: I knew this day would come.

It's officially crunch-time now. When a *syndicated* strip artist adopts an online-subscription model, things are a-changing. I'm glad to see this move, because I think it will inspire others to do the same, and we'll start to break this attitude that all webcomics are worth $0.00.

But my feelings about Michael Jantze are a lot more ambiguous than they are about Jamie Robertson. Jamie is a solid writer and an excellent artist whose characters I've enjoyed enough to guest-write. From the title on down, Jantze's The Norm is one generrrrrrrrrrric strip. I don't hate it, but I can't say I'd particularly miss it.

Predictably, Scott McCloud supports Jantze's drive, and part of me feels I should, too. But the assertion that "comics are worth paying for" loses all traction if it means "all comics are worth paying for." Furthermore, the Jantzes have the audacity to ask for between TWENTY-FIVE and FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS for items worth, well, considerably less. I can't pay that much for that little and look at Graphic Smash's price tag with a straight face. And as Websnark correctly points out, there are only so many comics a common fanbase can support for the sake of supporting art. We have to be worth it.

I wish Jantze well. But he won't be getting my money.


It's My Little White Knight... You Don' Know What I Got...

Graphic Smash is one year old today! To celebrate, we've introduced Little White Knight as of Monday, and Super Real as of today. One is a storybook tale of forbidden love and disguise in 1081 Spain, the other a cynical narrative about a Real-World-esque show in a world that's beyond real.

Also new today: the return of Aces High with new artist John Holtgrew. If you've been skipping this one up till now, check it out-- the Marvelous Patric's taken some bold storytelling risks with the setup, and we're about to see the payoff.

They say the five best science-fiction scenes of all time are:

"Open the pod bay doors, HAL..."

[music, colors, hand gestures]

"No, Luke! I am your father!"

[sound of man screaming as chest explodes]

"Argh! We, the cast of Blake's Seven, are now all dead!"

What do you think? Me, I'm disappointed they only consider movies and TV shows to have "scenes." What about, oh, the opening salvo in War of the Worlds, or the bringing to life of the monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein?

The virtual ultracomputer lives!

Didjaknow George Lucas got fined for the opening sequence of Star Wars? Also in the same link: Jedi and the Welshman.

Yeah, the new Twilight Zone didn't thrill me, either, much as I wanted to like it.

Enter the Killzone! Good review notes the way wargames blend the past and future.

And finally, Qapla' to Ray Radlein for finding the Klingon-language German news site. "tIngvo' 'evDaq Deutschland Dellu'!"


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Railing Against "Rants."

I know the word "rant" is a joke. I just never thought it was funny.

Net users tend to say "rant" when they mean "opinion piece," as if all writers should fume and fulminate if they really want to make their opinions known.

There's a place for anger, to be sure. But used indiscrimnately, anger makes you less accessible and no more appealing-- and your audience shrinks until you're just preaching to the converted. Anger cost me many friends when I was younger, and I don't like seeing it endorsed as a way of life-- or a default mode for communication. So don't look for rants on a regular basis.

On an occasional basis, though? Try this one on for size:

The word of the day is "Rathergate," a term for the recent fracas over documents that cast Bush's National Guard service in an unappealing light-- documents that appear to have been composed on Microsoft Word, rather than the Selectrics the National Guard was using back then. It's an interesting example of technology shaping our lives, another shot in the continuing, slow revolution of new media over old-- and yet, even the fact that we're sucking oxygen talking about this makes me want to cry.

WHO THE HELL CARES? I mean, does ANYONE dispute that Bush was a child of privilege, that he did not serve in combat or that he was a drunken party-zombie? Eh? We KNOW this, just like we know that anyone who actually SERVED with Kerry thinks the world of his military service.

But what really matters is what they're like NOW, right? RIGHT? I mean, is AUSTIN POWERS going to timejump back to the Seventies to recruit Young George or Young John to save the nation?!

Which brings us to the real reason we're spinning our wheels about it. Relative to the Kerry of 1975, the Kerry of today is a nonentity, and the Bush of today is even less of an entity than that.

And there might be nuclear tests in North Korea, and we've just turned AK-47s back onto the open market, and instead America is preoccupied with this.

Rant ends. Back to your scheduled reports:

Professor Hermann Maurer uses science fiction to call attention to problems he sees on the horizon of computer science. So does Stephen Page. Maurer's big worry is network-eating viruses and cybercrime... Page's is the capabilities of a single quantum computer.

Possibly the most reasoned debate on whether or not Trek should take a break. I will do my best to respect both sides of this controvers-- YES, YES, GOD YES! WE SHOULD HAVE CALLED IT A DAY WITH DS9! GOOD L-- Okay. I'm better now.

It's oddly reassuring that Marti Noxon is still getting work.

While all my favorite columnists seem to be deserting in droves, Wednesday White swoops into Comixpedia with a great deconstruction of webcomics relationships. It's much better than my quickie poll from last week. But I'm working on another relationship-themed piece for the 'Pedia, and aiming for a personal best...

And along the same lines, Torg's snogging Alt-Zoe! Yay, he's with Zoe! No, he's not with the Zoe! So conflicted!


Monday, September 13, 2004

Quick news survey today...

The headline says "Why we still hang on to Star Trek," and the article concludes: 1) we're really NOT hanging on to it, and 2) "it's quaintly reassuring to know it's around." Yeah. That'll save the franchise. Quaintness.

If you live in Chester, an evening with Colin Baker.

What a surprise: Scientology lectures are filled with evangelism and bad science.

Screw Sabrina, I want to see Betty and Veronica.

Meditation on Fahrenheit 451 and how to defend our rights. (Subscription free.)

Blog of Jacqueline Passey, a self-described science-fiction geek running for secretary of Washington state. On the Libertarian ticket, of course.

SF is always using biometric scans (retinal scans, voiceprint ID, etc.). Now we hear... oh, you know where this is going.

25 years after his death, Will Allen is a published fantasy author.

Article on electronic nurses displays staggering ignorance of science fiction, but useful information for the elderly.

We've picked the location for the 2007 World Science Fiction Convention.

DARPA's speculative fictions for "force multipliers" of the future. Send in your ideas! Plus: the DARPA Grand Challenge.

Monoliths vs. radio waves.

Mark Hamill on doing Star Wars.

And finally, spoiler for the Andromeda finale (white-on-white text): everyone but the captain is secretly a redshirt.


Saturday, September 11, 2004

Loves Lost.

Spent a fair part of today chasing a ghost. I was in the neighborhood of my old girlfriend Krista Bayer, and tried to get in touch. I have no interest in rekindling a relationship (we broke up for good reasons-- and she's married now), but I wanted to sort of compare notes-- see how things have worked out for her. No dice. No number for her under either name. I think her old apartment's a Wal-Mart now (there's a country song in that somewhere). Krista Bayer, if you ever find this post by ego-surfing, get in touch. I'd love to hear from you.

This nostalgia put me in an interesting frame of mind for Action Comics #819. I give Chuck Austen a lot of grief, on and offline. He deserves it. But he's really delivered this time. He's put some juice into the Lois-Lana-Clark triangle for the first time in... in... 17 years (man, I'm old). Helpful hint, Clark: never, ever ask your ex whether she dislikes your wife.

Lana's reasoning is unfair, of course. Clark isn't "always there" for Lois; she has to share him with the whole world. If she didn't take on her own projects, she'd be completely swallowed up in Clark's life. But to Lana, that's what being a wife is and should be. And if there's one thing Superman is not good at , it's moral relativism-- so he really can't deal with Lana's honest belief that Lois's behavior is wrong. Keep this up, Chuck, and I might stop picking on you.

Slashdot has some commentary on the round-robin interview linked earlier, including some more conservative perspectives.

About Ghost in the Shell: Innocence and Mamoru Oshii's definition of optimism.

Update on the Utah sun-fragment mission (look under "Andromeda Strained").

I've got reservations from the previews, but Gwyneth Paltrow gives me a little hope for the upcoming Sky Captain. It does look new and different, I'll give you that...

Thoughts on the "Mad Max" vision of the current U.S. policy.

Jack and Bobby may be the most intriguing SF concept on TV this fall.

Fantasist CS Lewis and Sigmund Freud get their own PBS special.

And finally, Lucasfilm defends DVD changes. Well, of course they do. Wouldn't it be fun if they didn't? "We keep telling him, let it go. Shut the Avid editor down. Spend some time with your kids, for God's sake. And he just keeps babbling about how much better the Ewok battle would be with Jar Jar in it. We are working for a fallen madman. I am so ashamed. My life is a lie."


Friday, September 10, 2004

Life and Death in Online Comics.

Two major events rocked the webcomics world in the last 24 hours: Tycho announced that Gabe had become a dad, and Jamie Robertson announced he might be throwing in the towel on Clan of the Cats.

About the first I've heard two theories: one, that it's the beginning of the end for Penny Arcade since Gabe will no longer be a hardcore gamer, and two, that it's the guarantor of Penny Arcade's future because Gabe needs more money now than before. My money's on #2, mostly: the strip will continue, but look for its attitude to subtly shift in the months ahead. Happens to us all.

About the second, I'm upset. It'd be one thing if Jamie were guiding the series to a planned ending, but it's cutting off in the middle of his most artistically ambitious story ever. I had the pleasure of doing a story for this strip two years ago, and it remains on my shrinking "must read list." I'd love to do something else with him as an artist, we're talking seriously about bringing back Mythos and Magick, but nothing can make up for the fact that we may lose one of the finer artists in webcomics because the ad market can't come close to supporting him. People ask why I've thrown my weight behind developing the for-pay market? This is why.

Other stuff:

If you read just one of these links, make it this one. Six SF authors predict the future, including three of my all-time faves. It just rocks.

Thought-activated machines have been a common cheat for SF authors who didn't want to put too much thought (ha ha) into futuristic interfaces. Right? Well, guess what.

Forget JLA and X-Men. If you want vintage Grant Morrison, check out We 3.

What are scientists' favorite SF films and writers?

I didn't know the Pacific Northwest was a "hospitable haven for science fiction writers!"

Neil Gaiman not only wins a Hugo (see previous post), he gets a new movie. Good weekend.

Get well soon, Ray Bradbury.

Piece on the chintzification of National Geographic mentions the editor's dis of science fiction in a speculative-fiction issue on global warming... one crammed with inaccurate and misleading facts.

And finally-- I swear this is a true news item-- Tron Suit Guy seeks love.


Work Hard, Increase Production, Prevent Accidents, and Be Happy.

Do you have any good excuse for not seeing what George Lucas' hard science-fiction was like before he got into "space opera?" Didn't think so. But for those who prefer to be told, here's why it's a big deal.

Article on old-skool reader feedback mentions Analog, which invites criticism of both its science fiction and science fact pieces.

How I'd love to attend a meeting of Science Fiction South Africa. If you live there, get your short stories ready for their contest now! The South African paper The Star notes that current events are providing inspiration...

Liberal: The most entertaining thing to come out of the Resident Evil sequel.

Conservative: Comic-book and science-fiction writer James Hudnall has a warblog remarkably similar in tone to his series Shut Up and Die. I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death, yada yada.

The real Dune.

And finally, the Retro Hugo for Best Short Story of 1954 goes to...


Thursday, September 09, 2004

I Christen Thee!

Time for this blog to be a little less about me-- or a little less JUST about me. Hence, the new logo, title and mission.

This is the best and worst of times for science fiction. While you can barely go to your local multiplex without glimpsing a movie with some fantastic elements, some people are practically proclaiming the genre dead. The grand debate over what is or isn't science fiction (or speculative fiction) rages loud as ever. If as Clarke says, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, what is the distinction between the fiction of science and the fiction of fantasy?

A lot of the problem-- and opportunity-- facing today's SF comes down to Vernor Vinge's Singularity, which I've linked before but which bears repeating. Essentially, the Singularity theory is that technological change is becoming so rapid that we can no longer predict or prevent its effects. Instead of being enslaved by AIs, we're in thrall to the way our inventions just keep coming.

To my mind, this means that science fiction is not ending. It's reaching outward, becoming one and the same with mainstream fiction. We live in a technothriller society. Witness the movie Cellular, hingeing on modern communication media not only in its story but in its promotions. The fact that it's gotten mediocre reviews is sort of the point: it's an entirely typical drama, and it would have been science fiction twenty years ago-- if it would have been imaginable at all.

Now consider NBC's new series premiering tonight, Medical Investigation. The series has come under some fire for political inaccuracies, but it's essentially the latest in a long line of CSI-inspired "science detection" shows that worship the latest innovations in forensics. Often, these shows don't even bother to give their audience a fair chance to deduce who (or what) done it-- the implied message seems to be that these investigators are so awesome, you can get all the facts they get and still have no idea how they'll solve the case.

You can't keep up. Singularity. Everything is changing-- including the very idea of what science fiction is.

News roundup:

Women gamers-- still a rare breed indeed. There may be more of 'em in webcomics than there are in real life.

Wired on Worldcon, including a link to Neil Gaiman's recent Hugo-winner.

And finally, Stan Lee meets Hugh Hefner. Seriously.


Tuesday, September 07, 2004


How could I have missed the presentation of the Hugo awards-- the Oscars of science fiction? Gee, maybe because NO MAJOR NEWS OUTLET COVERS IT. The #1 Google hit for "Hugos" was last "updated 7 november 2001." SAD, people. SAD.

Big news as I write this: Atari's bringing back its classics. When I told my brother Graham about this, he had this to say: "Atari's still a company?"

Speculative reporting from USA Today. Behold the PLR-- the personal life recorder.

The Cryptographer does sound like a good read.

Mostly pedestrian piece on Star Wars reveals the original end to the original trilogy, which you may not know: "Luke Skywalker a Jedi Knight, Han Solo dead and Princess Leia crowned as queen of her people."

Saga of Ryzom goes gold. This MMORPG claims to be better able to portray large-scale combat than any other. Can someone confirm this?

Two remakes that might actually be worth watching.

The Atlantic Monthly (subscription, but large free sample) reports on Stephen Hawking's recent mea culpa, which has implications for any SF that deals with black holes.

Dan Brown on growing up geeky, and the way geekdom's changed in thirty years. I'm not sure I agree with his premise that geekdom has always been a source of pride-- for many, that wasn't true thirty years ago and it's not now. Still, a new perspective.

And finally, Muppets named top scientists.


Washington Webcomics... Waunching.

Spent yesterday afternoon planning a new webcomics club for people in and around Washington, D.C. Thanks to Xaviar Xerexes and Dave Belmore for their help, their insights and their patience with my difficulty locating XX's coffee shop. (First order of business: finding a bulletproof set of directions to the club's meeting place!)

The basics: this club is called "Washington Webcomics" until we can vote on a final name. (Greg's idea-- "Capital City Computer Comics Club" (5C for short)-- is still on the table.) It's primarily for online cartoonists, but those who have a real passion for them will be allowed entry. I'd like to see us network a bit in realspace: talk about upcoming projects and share what we've learned about the art, craft and field. There'll be seminars, interactive projects and other food for the creative mind.

The first official meeting will follow the end of the Small Press Expo, but there'll be some planning online and off between now and then.

If you're interested, you know how to find me.

News roundup!

Props to Wired (and it's not often I say that) for this insightful piece on the singularity and science fiction. "Wow, if we brainy geeks were even more like we already are, we'd be godlike!" Heh.

The first online game based on Star Trek. Specifically, the first three shows. The good Star Trek.

Stunt pilots chasing a piece of the Sun!

The search for Earth Two.


Enjoy Dragon*Con, but you can never leave.

Local opinion on the limits of nanotech in the American economy.

And finally, Cory Doctorow gets some well-deserved recognition.


Monday, September 06, 2004

And Now the News.

Finished a major, major project yesterday, and I'm still getting used to how much time is suddenly on my hands. Let's ease back into things, here. It's been, oh, what, nine months since I gave you a halfway decent news roundup?

Latest blurring of science fiction and mainstream lit: Astrobiology Magazine claims to have found the first great astrobiology novel, by the insanely successful Dan Brown.

Similarly, the latest developments in the search for alien life. Thoughtful piece from South Africa of all places, with the great quote, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

Charlize Theron is back playing Aeon Flux, the anime heroine who dies as frequently as Kenny, after suffering a trampoline injury. I salute her courage-- if somebody asked me to play a live-action Kenny, I'd be off the set after the first stubbed toe.

The Statesman offers some thoughts on lightsails.

Missing-The-Point Theater: The San Antonio News (subscription) claims that "In War of the Worlds, HG Wells likened Earthlings to microbes." Some people shouldn't write about books they haven't read. Or skimmed. Or read Cliff's Notes about.

Hero is tops at the box office just now (though IMDB gives it its Chinese name and release date, to confuse you). Many of my friends cite its mythic force, stylish direction and moral concerns. Greg identifies-- correctly, I think-- a propaganda message that the current Chinese government would be quite happy with. Me, I can't get over a few points where the characters make unutterably bonehead decisions just to create a more dramatic scene. (If you're a paranoid warlord and suspect you're supping with an assassin, do you a) kill him just to be safe, b) knock him out and restrain him just to be safe, or c) TELL HIM YOU KNOW HE'S AN ASSASSIN? Jesus.) Still, it is a visual knockout. Draw your own conclusions.

And of course, Dragon*Con wraps up today. Sorry I couldn't be there this year; several of my friends in webcomics are having a good time, from the sound of things.


Thursday, September 02, 2004

*Cough* *Sputter*

Much like Peter Parker, the Bride and Buffy, this blog is clawing its way out of its own grave.

Expect a whole new blog with twice the 'tude, shortly. Very shortly.