Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Must... Resist... Batman...

The CBC finally figures out that India's getting its own version of Spidey, except they play up the Deepak Chopra angle more than the comparatively fascinating Green-Goblin-as-Rakshasa one.

This really seems like the wrong day to have a slow arts news section, but at least it wasn't a feature article on Captain Canuck. Oh, wait. I love this part: "The series was set in the futuristic world of the 1990s, a time when Canada had fulfilled its destiny by becoming the most important nation on the planet. In the late 1970s, such a future seemed plausible to this reader."

More cheerfully, sort of: GRACE, the Social Robot.

Stomp...Stomp...

Godzilla just got a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, in celebration of the Great Green One's 50th birthday. Did you know Godzilla was inspired by a real U.S. atomic bomb test on the Bikini atoll, exposing a Japanese fishing crew to massive radiation?

A Leisurely Stroll on Mars

Two European scientists want to start Martian environmental conservation really early by designating seven parks on Mars.

5:41 AM Eternal

We were doing so well, but then boingboing had to go and have a link to validated, standards-compliant pulpy SF covers. You can't see my fist, as it's invisible, but I assure you that it's shaking.

The whole idea of being the millionth visitor to the Bandai Museum sounds really awesome, what with the real live Power Ranger and all, but I think this poor kid's a little freaked out by the cosplay mascot-chicks. Let's not send him to Tokyo Reichan Land.

(Big heads. Brrr. Total sign of the apocalypse.)

If you're in Chicago, which is always a good thing, you can totally engage your Sith denial now through mid-February with The One Man Star Wars Trilogy at the Apollo Theater. The same guy's also done a One Man Lord of the Rings. Chicagoist is on it.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Gojira! Gojir--

Supposedly Godzilla, now 50, is getting set to retire. Perhaps now Davezilla can finally rest easy. Or he could, if Godzilla didn't always come back. Locus has some actual thoughts on G's career and why it's lasted this long.

And Demos (from Greek, meaning "the people") has a new report about how the class of enthusiasts (read: fans-- of various things) are quietly reshaping our lives.


Tryptophan-Suffused Inertia Blight

I'm telling you, all the tryptophan is getting into the air and going up to, like, Saskatchewan and screwing things up. Now the da Vinci rocket, not known for its punctual deployment, has been delayed again. Christmas holidays, they say. Oh ho ho. No, it's the tryptophan. In the air. Crossing borders. Really, they should be stopping this stuff at Immigration Canada and asking for passports.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

A Quick Flash of Facial Recognition.

Funny Slashdottery about 3D facial recognition technology now being hawked at a website near you.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Psychic Detective Romance Writers Rule OK

At last, the slightly disorganized fan of Mercedes Lackey's Elves on the Road universe can get their near-completism on. The Baen-published SERRAted Edge and Bedlam's Bard series, along with the first of two prequels, are easy to track down. Some titles even turn up in the Baen Free Library; most of the rest are available from Webscriptions. No problem, right?

Trouble is, there's one more series in the universe: the Diana Tregarde Investigations, which came out first. Through Tor. These were more horror/mystery than urban fantasy -- vampires and demons instead of mechanic elves, alcoholic renfaire bards, and mullety mages. They laid considerable ground for later books, though, and the gags about romance writing were fun as anything.

The Tregarde books didn't sell so well. They caused Lackey and her partner more trouble than any author deserves. They could be had, but often not without a bit of hassle. It could be a right pain if you were coming in on the not-dissimilar, NYC-era Bard books from 2001 onwards, and all this was new to you.

Hassle no more. Burning Water's the first in line for a Tor Horror trade paperback reissue in January. Shiny. Here's hoping Diana Tregarde gets the kind of attention she deserved in the first place: keen, not creepy.

('Course, if you're after Mark Shepherd's solo efforts in this universe, I can't help you. Laserwarz... eep.)

That's A Bit More Like It.

A warm welcome to Wednesday and Brent. Look for a few more posters to join up as we roll along.

You may have noticed the new design, and if you're really eagle-eyed, the new masthead. It's true. I'll be "supervising" Science Fiction Blog from here on out, which means I'll review every post after it goes up and gently shape the project, but most of the writing will be in other hands-- the hands of a small team of sharp-eyed SF lovers who will no doubt find many things I would miss.

But I'll still pop in every now and again with a few links... like these:

There is "no connection" between playing The Cancer Man on X-FIles and playing a cancer-riddled man whose last hope is to buy a new body. None. None.

Manny Coto still feels Enterprise has a few places left to go. Andoria, anyone?

And finally, a blogger's-eye view of the unveiling of an RHPS statue in New Zealand. A better picture of the statue and official information is here.

Hayao Miyazaki's "Howl's Moving Castle"

According to Nausicaa.net, John Lasster—the head of Pixar and a good friend of Hayao Miyazaki—will be too busy directing Cars to direct the English adaptation of Miyazaki's latest film, Howl's Moving Castle, so Peter Docter (director of Monsters Inc) has agreed to step in.

Meanwhile, Howl's is doing extremely well in theaters since opening last weekend, accounting for 72% of the total Japanese box office sales for its opening weekend. Apparently, people actually will pay money for a good story with interesting characters. Someone page Hollywood!

For a taste of Howl's, check out the trailers.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Only One Country Had Thankgiving Just Now

I'm reliably informed that many of you have eaten of the t[of]ur[duc]ke[n|y] just now. But what if you have not? Or what if you simply wish to do something with your post-eat attack coma other than watching the sport? The savvy young craftsperson recommends the knitting of classic Star Trek characters.

Alternatively, you could sit around and argue which super heroes (of those not already located in Megaville, clearly) should be permitted to set up shop in the Twin Cities. Snoopy would win any turf wars, of course, provided he wasn't en route to Petaluma.

Or you could crack open a bottle of the Beaujolais Nouveau, some days late, and just read Making Light. Then, you could blog about some of the links therein.

Frustration is our art. We make it with our posts.

Firefly fandom just can't win. Serenity, the much-anticipated film of same, has had its release date pushed back from April 2005... to September. Interestingly, Joss Whedon chose to drop the news by posting to an unrelated thread on WHEDONesque. Jewel Staite and Summer Glau both confirm this (both entries dated 24 November), although Staite is curiously optimistic about the whole thing.

I'm not sure what to make of the reasoning: April has too many films geared towards the same demographic, says Whedon, and Universal feels that Serenity would benefit from a pushback. "April is the new May." My hope, of course, is that April will be flooded with films which are actually worth watching, but I suspect this just means shiny, shiny lights. I am not entirely certain how much bitterness I can stuff into the two simple words oh, goody.

(Hi; my name is Wednesday White. I'm not T. I know this because I have never seen myself in the same room with him -- er, wait.)

Monday, November 22, 2004

What Is My Deal?

Well, we missed yesterday.

Self-flagellation and plans for the future follow. Those who just come here for the links can scroll down to Paragraph 8.

It seems that every time I get close to taking this blog to the next level, something distracts me... but I know enough about human psychology to know that means I'm distracting myself. Even after joining Graphic Smash, I still feel a large part of me that resists every move I make from hobbyist to full-timer. A hobbyist is noble and responsible for nothing but his own amusement. A full-timer-- well, he's an Evil Capitalist, and what's more, if he doesn't make enough money, he's a Failure.

But this WILL HAPPEN. It HAS to. We NEED more bloggers on this thing than just me, and it NEEDS to become self-sustaining through advertising, for it to reach the heights I know its concept is capable of. Much as I love Boing Boing, its focus is too wide, much as I love Technovelgy, its focus is too narrow. There has to be a go-to place for daily links about science fiction, and nobody else is doing that the way it should be done.

I also want to set aside some time for more in-depth explorations than the strict "link roundup" that's been kind of standard over the last couple of months. With other bloggers taking up some of the slack of keeping us current, I can do this.

I'll also have time to bring back a few features that, over the years, have gotten a lot of requests.

I'm setting aside a four-hour block of time tomorrow (Wednesday) during which upgrading this blog will be my #1 priority. At that time, I'll be bringing on the volunteers (Wednesday-- thank you in advance). Those of you who are going away for Thanksgiving weekend should see MAJOR changes when you get back. MAJOR.

And now, the latest linx:

Some people, and some princes, should not watch science fiction. Well, they shouldn't watch it without first getting an education about the scientific principles that SF uses and occasionally discards-- but, realistically, what are the chances of THAT?

Sigourney Weaver and William Shatner make their spaceflight reservations.

Robot roller coaster.

Brent P. Newhall finds two hot news items. First, a Watchmen movie coming 2006 by a respectable director. I'm of two minds about this: the original Watchmen comic book was most notable for its deconstruction of the comic-book form, and a lot of its best stylistic tricks may seem pretentious or just not translate in a film. On the other hand, the story is solid and its vision of America is as current as ever.

And second, James Cameron does Battle Angel. Yes, that Battle Angel.

Boy, remember when we thought the death of Kirk was the end of William Shatner's career?

IBM's ThinkPad now includes a fingerprint-scan security system.

Finally, Time's inventions of the year.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Now Taking Volunteers.

Too busy for a full-fledged entry tonight (been working on a new project), which means I'll be sweatin' overtime on Monday... and spurs me into a move I'd been considering for a while.

Most of the most interesting links on the site (to me, at least) have come in from outside consultants-- through e-mails and forum posts. I want to keep encouraging those links to come in, and to do that, I think we need to move this blog closer to "open source." I'll still be looking over everything that goes up, and acting as editor if need be-- but I'd like to get some other posters in here, covering that vast, swirling vortex that is the interpenetration of science fiction and the Internet.

E-mail if interested...

Wish You Were There.

I deeply regret finding out about this too late to alert you readers, but the public speeches of Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler were a fine show. They neatly avoided my question about the future of science fiction, but in its place offered up great insight into being-- not black or gay or even SF writers, so much as being outsiders, and finding their own paths anyway. It was a delight.

L. Ron Hubbard ruins another career.

"Shhh. Don't call it 'antigravity.'"
"But if it works, won't it look and act just like--"
"WE DON'T CALL IT ANTIGRAVITY."

Jaguar discovers the anime style is no longer enough to be automatically cool.

Screw Jaguar anyway, my favorite kind of car is a Saturn.

And speaking of Saturn and music, music on Saturn.

OT [i.e., not SF]: Bill Gates, world's most spammed man. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

They Exist Solely to Give Biologists Nervous Breakdowns.

Greg Eatroff finds evidence that platypi are stranger than any SF author ever imagined.

Webmanga-in-progress with a name that says it all: Falluja.

The Future is Now: "Food porn." I like that.

Jolene Blalock's interviews just have to be seen (or transcribed) to be believed. I never, never thought we'd agree so vehemently about Enterprise. Somebody finally pushed her too far-- or maybe it's just that she no longer feels she has a job left to lose.

Forbes touches on SF fandom with a piece about the burgeoning DVD market. The current emphasis on bells and whistles may fade as DVDs go more mainstream, in part because it's a sop to the SF fans currently dominating that market.

Utopiales film festival declares the best indy SF film of the year to be Gagamboy, described as "the Phillipine Spider-Man." Now, I'm no expert on Phillippine cinema, but how great is it when the first impulse is to describe it in terms of a well-reviewed blockbuster that came out this same year? I know, picky, picky...

MSNBC describes the Haleakala crater as a real-life SF setting. They've got a point: check out these photos.

Wizards of the Coast's Duel Masters tournament is coming December 11.

Finally, a lovely new book from "the Margaret Mead of the North American weirdo." Plenty of terms for subclasses you didn't even know existed!


To Jeffrey T. Darlington...

I've been where you are, man. I know it can't be easy to read something like this. Hopefully, in the long run we'll grow from these experiences.

And Maritza, come back soon.

The DVD of the 1958 Animal Farm is freaking HARDCORE, considering the time in which it was made. Despite a controversial ending (more JUST than that of the book-- though I wouldn't call it a "happy" one), the movie preserves most of George Orwell's dark vision and juxtaposes it with classic Disney-style animation. The end result is as subversive as anything South Park ever came up with.

Some readers of Fans think *I'm* featuring a lot of gay characters-- but chances are, they haven't read Nicola Griffith's troika of lesbian SF stories, With Her Body. Review here. Buy it and help fight multiple sclerosis.

The Future is Here: Article on Polymer Vision, bringing the "paper screen" to a newstand near you, a la Minority Report.

My old friends Charles and Jeneen will love this. The new War of the Worlds is set in-- well, in all of Earth, obviously, but important scenes are filming in the working-class environment of Bayonne.

Film short: War in ASCII.

Finally, there's a convention for cocktail robotics. Cocktail. Robotics. Oh, and it gets better: this year's theme is "Beautiful Failure." That's right, it's a convention for cocktail-making robots THAT DON'T EVEN WORK. From Austria.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Back-to-Back...

Post running way late tonight, due to a severe deadline backup. Another will follow earlier tomorrow. Bear with me, I've got lots to share.

More speculation than speculative fiction, but reminiscient of SF: flu experts are worried about a pandemic on the way.

I usually don't link to movie promo sites unless they've got somethin' special, but in this case, the something special is the gorgeous concept art. Props, Ravenswood.

Only Sonic hedgehog can save our brains! (Ravenswood also suggested this general story, though not the specific link.)

Some people don't see a reason to wait for Galactica to hit the States. Yep, it's more fan piracy. Looks like there might be some lawsuits before it's all over.

Another national SF anthology is always a good thing! Race Matthews. Australian for "science fiction." (Scroll down to the bottom.)

Doug Chiang, the man behind some of the most dazzling special effects of the last decade, talks for a few minutes about his own private pet project, Robota. Robota is a book, not a movie... for now.

Recognizing that not all tastes are alike, I suppose I should mention that Chronicles of Riddick is making a lot of noise on DVD right now.

And finally, William Shatner's nigh-legendary performance of Rocket Man. Thanks to the warbling Wednesday White!

Monday, November 15, 2004

My God, Sci Fi, Is Nothing Stable In This World?

In a daring move that seems to have shocked everyone, The Sci Fi Channel has renewed its two most popular programs. I guess we thought we had ya all figured out after Farscape, huh, Channel?

Cory Doctorow has a new, delicious short story on Salon. It's called "Anda's Game." The "twist" is not as obvious as you may think.

The X Prize has its detractors. As I'm quickly learning, any awards ceremony will. Which is not to say that they don't have their points: the award DOES tend to reward sizzle over steak, sensawunda over substance. But then, why are we going to Mars? Sometimes today's scientific "magic tricks" are tomorrow's world-changing breakthroughs...

Okay, I'm sure exactly *one* of this blog's readers is gay, lives near Austin and is looking for a job. You're welcome.

They can control brain cells with lasers now. I just thought you should know.

Speaking of lasers, they're also inching closer to remote death-ray lasers.

And yes, yes, we are testing the first interplanetary laser communication link, but that doesn't mean we're just a few years away from laser rifles that might wind up on the streets! It's a coincidence.

Finally, how comics-crazy IS the film market when Disney invests in the smoking acre of wreckage that was once Crossgen Entertainment? But there was some good work in there before the problems hit, and it's not like Disney doesn't need the help. And I'm sure Disney will be decent enough to compensate the creators for their indispensable role in HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Memo to Pixar: Keep running. Don't look back.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Hm. I'm Careless When I'm Cranky.

Oops. In the last blog, not only did I use "Warren Ellis" as a pseudonym for "Mark Millar," I posted a link that apparently was not always accessible to all browsers. Try this one.

Working Star Trek communicator for sale on eBay.

New York City is having its first science-fiction art show in 20 years. Details and slideshow here.

On Sex and SF, a fairly well-put-together essay from About.com.

Ain't It Cool News wryly suggests a shooting location for the new Superman movie. (Source link here.)

Resident Evil fans have a new controller to play with.

Graffiti animation.

Flash creator Larry Hampert has died, but not before, as Websnark puts it, he "got to be a comics rock star at the twilight of his life."

And finally, Amazon.com reviewer Cavan Terrill is looking to become one of the reviewed. His debut novel Blurred Line looks promising, if derivative-- it may remind you a bit too much of movies you've already seen, but they will probably be movies you liked when you saw them. Still in school, Terrill wins my admiration for his energy and enthusiasm-- if he keeps exploring his writing and expanding his influences, I think he'll be extraordinary in a few years.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

They're Not "Cowards," No Matter What Bush Thinks.

No. I'm sorry. I don't buy this scene.

It's not often that I feel I have one up on Warren Ellis, but he's stretched suspension of disbelief just a little too far here. Captain America diving into the ocean from 600 feet? Hey sure. Swimming in for five miles before reaching the hostages? Why not. Mowing down multiple guards who are armed with machine-guns? That's what he's FOR...

But bluffing and intimidating a cadre of hostage-taking jihadists?

No. Way. In Hell.

The Nazi credo was that German strength was insuperable, that racial superiority and sheer cussed determination would allow them to yoke the world. When this was proven false, the German spirit broke, and it's never completely recovered. So the scenes of Captain America making Nazis mewl in terror were radical oversimplifications, but not totally divorced from reality. How would YOU feel if you thought you were the Ubermensch, and then met him?

But Islamic terrorists are not Nazis. Repeat: Islamic terrorists are not Nazis. Bush doesn't get this, but Ellis should know better.

Islamic terrorists are the kind of people who blow up themselves, their girlfriends and as many of the enemy as they can get with the same reflex action with which most of us hit the snooze button.

Not all of them are like this, of course-- the self-preservation instinct is stronger than we realize. But in a group setting, ALL of them laying down their arms and forfeiting their 70 virgins for Jahannum?

No. No way in Hell. Captain America has to work harder than that. So does Ellis. So do we.

I look forward to his antiwar statement, but this is a shaky foundation on which to build it. (And as long as I'm feeling disagreeable, can you give me five minutes in a room with every news editor who thinks it's a good idea to begin an article about comic books with cute Adam West sound effects-- so I can punch them repeatedly in the mouth? K? Thx.)

The New York Times has some great reviews of two SF novels and an anthology, including Fred Pohl's latest effort.

Also from the Times: The globalization of the American movie, and its downside, with implications for SF as well as any other kind of movie. I think it's a bit unfair to the global market, focusing too heavily on what's been lost. It seems to me that in this age of war and tension, an art form with an appeal that penetrates all borders is more good for us than bad. But my old friend Charles has been saying the things in this article for years--

From another Times: Terrible article on "What We Still Don't Know," a BBC documentary. It manages to completely miss the point of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and acts like the average person will be utterly astonished by the concept of "virtual reality,"even though it rightly points out that the idea is at least 2,300 years old and gets trotted out in movies and TV shows every damn year. We just finished the Matrix trilogy, for Pete's sake! It's also flat wrong in its discussion of philosophy-- the notion of "life as a dream" still has a lot of traction, but it's not growing; it peaked with Descartes. This piece's chief virtue is that it-- unintentionally-- warns you to stay the hell away from the program.

From the same publication, a much better piece on the escalating console wars. Microsoft pulls out the brass knuckles.

Ed Kemmer is dead at 84. Almost forgotten by today's mainstream audiences, he starred as the Buck Rogers or Captain Kirk of 1950s TV, in the seminal progam Space Patrol. Worth knowing about for any student of media SF.

Wow. I don't know what's gotten into me with this one. Tomorrow, let's try focusing on articles that make me smile, eh?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Pok! Pok! Pok!

My old Science Fiction Club makes the campus news, and it only took four years of virtually nonstop dart-gunnery.

In Greece, the Mickey Mouse comic is up to issue #2,000. Suck that, Cerebus and Superman. A few words with the oldest living artist in the Carl Barks tradition.

Mad theories on the future prime-time lineups of the Sci Fi Channel, which could affect YOUR Friday night. So BE WARNED.

From the same site, more plausible theories on why Sarah Michelle Gellar just can't stake Buffy.

Part theremin, part electric guitar. I want this played at my entirely hypothetical wedding! (Oops! Link fixed. Thanks, Wednesday!)

Slow news day at National Geographic means an interview with the writer of The Science of Superheroes and The Science of Supervillains, a guy who bends over backwards to explain how even though teleportation is impossible, Lex Luthor might have created the ILLUSION of teleportation, then turns right around and says that the decision to adopt Superman and keep mum about his origins is just not logical. Does this sound like anyone you know?

SF author Jim Kelley contemplates the end of copyright as we know it.

Another Dead Redshirt brings us "Shatner's Finest Moment." (Sound file...)

And finally, the end times are here. Dave Belmore has found the Blue Screen of Death in Times Square.

Fans News Here, Too, But Without The Silver Lining.

The Incredibles' Tomatoscore is 97%. 97%. Go see it.

Futurefeedforward is back, and Boing Boing is calling it the best SF website, period. Onion meets Futurama.

Ouri Maler finds yesterday's cited essay kinda disturbing, and I have to admit I see his point-- is it wrong to lead an atheist who's losing his wits to a belief in God? I don't know. I do know that Alzheimer's is a horrific thing for anyone to deal with, so I'm inclined to be sympathetic, but other opinions are always welcome.

Philip K. Dick isn't done with Hollywood yet. "The Golden Man" was about as close as he got to a straight-up superhero story, but this is Dick we're talking about here, so don't expect bright primary colors.

I'm not a Stargate fan; never could get past the haven't-I-already-seen-this feeling. But even I'm intrigued by the idea of Ra coming back.

And speaking of unlikely comebacks, Jeffrey Tambor reflects on how close he came to dying-- and worse, getting no role in the sequel.

If the Wachowski brothers were trying to recover a little of their street cred by putting actual CRITICISM on their Ultimate Matrix DVD set-- then with me at least, they've succeeded. I mean, can you imagine GEORGE LUCAS doing that?

Finally-- my best wishes to Kara Dennison, voice actress, musician, cartoonist and frequent Fans contributor, as she prepares for surgery. Go to this page and scroll down to the last few paragraphs to read her summing-up statement.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Big Fans News At The End Of This One.

Really honest essay on one woman's deep faith and her grandfather's lack thereof. It's so honest that it weakens its own central argument-- you may have a different perspective on the end of "Daddy Pete's" life than she does. But it's nice to see someone other than Rikk Oberf find continuity, rather than disconnect, between faith and science fiction.

If you're anywhere near Athens, New York, Steven Spielberg is looking for extras. "Yes, I've worked with Steven, dahling. He's such a NICE man, but driven. Very driven. So what have YOU done?"

The SF RPG Xenosaga is coming to anime!

The Baltimore Sun has a profile (free subscription) on the theme park that's as close as we can get to Jurassic Park, which isn't all that close at all.

So what's prolific DS9 writer and 4400 creator Ira Stephen Behr up to these days? Putting together 26 more 4400s, from the looks of it.

Spotlight on the indie SF spoof Martians from Venus. If this sounds like your kinda thing, the creators' website has previews and contact info.

The Star Wars real-time strategy game is coming.

After mentioning Allen's enthusiasm in yesterday's entry, I'm glad to see he's getting more work, even as I worry we may have one or two superhero parodies too many in film these days.

And finally... bad news and good news.

Jason Waltrip has drawn Fans over three months in advance, but he will not be able to finish "The Ways The World Ends." He's been tapped by Tokyopop for an upcoming manga, and I urged him to take the opportunity-- because while I think we'll work together again, it'll probably not be as regular as Fans was; our goals are diverging. More about his new project as it becomes public.

However, I was able to secure my #2 choice, an absolutely HURRICANE-FORCE visual storyteller. In the absence of Jason, who will always be #1 on Fans for me, I couldn't ask for better. This guy has the talent, the drive, and the highly unusual sensibility to bring Fans to its conclusion, plus an absolutely sparkling resume including a history with the characters and the Waltrips. In fact...

...maybe you know him from his other work.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

It's Wednesday!

And it's Wednesday White with a white trinity of links relating to that radical-Christian-SF Left Behind series that has sold so many copies and scared so many non-fundie SF fans! Here's a bit on what "creator" Tim LaHaye is "creating" next, with commentary by Wednesday herself, as well as a review of the first 66 pages of Left Behind by Slacktivist.

In space there are no reference points, so you can easily mistake a moon for a space station, unless you, like Monique MacNaughton, know about Starship Dimensions. The site is the only place where a Vorlon Planet-Killer looks like a phytoplankton.

Off Tom the Fanboy's earlier link to The Dionaea House, Tim Tylor recommends another pseudo-real horror story using Web tropes, Ted's Caving Page.

Joss Whedon's Firefly movie, Serenity, is intended to alienate the too-few people who saw the TV series as well as the casual moviegoer who has no idea why this isn't a movie about yoga. "I'm going to make the fans feel betrayed and confuse the hell out of everyone else," he says. Okay, not really. Actually, Whedon's dedication surprises even him. IGN visits the set.

Jai Arjun Singh reviews David Mitchell's insanely ambitious epic Cloud Atlas, which has been racking up praise from all corners.

You know, every once in a while, I get cynical about storytelling. Ugh, the INDUSTRY, it's all money, money, money, the focus group says we should change the ending, our lead actor's doing lines, the artist ignored my script, ugh, ugh. And then I see something like Tim Allen just gushing-- gushing-- over the Toy Story films, and I think, "My God. This IS important."

Finally, from Muttley, Justin B. Rye's various pages on various things science-fictional, from Star Trek to xenolinguistics...

No, Mom, It's Not About Those Angels That Sit On People's Shoulders.

Halo 2 is out.

The reviews look good. The BBC has thoughts for non-gamers on why we care so much.

Dreamworks continues its quest to be the #1 animation studio, landing distribution rights to Casshern, an aggresive mix of live-action and animation techniques. But reviews have called it mixed at best and incomprehensible at worst. I don't think Pixar is sweating about this.

Speaking of which, memo to the makers of the Fantastic Four film: give up now. The bad ideas just keep COMING, from the Human Torch's inability to fly to Michael Chiklis' papier-maiche Thing suit to Doctor Doom trying to bag Jessica Alba as Sue Storm. And besides, you've just been beaten to the punch. Nothing you can possibly do will be better than this.

So I was thinking about that SF club's quest for tax exemption I mentioned yesterday, and how I couldn't say whether they were really "educational" without more data. Then I realized there was this thing called the "Internets" where I could look them up. Sure 'nuff, their mission statement seems to be more along the lines of "have a good time together" than "bring Culture to the unwashed, unmanicured masses." But maybe that's just me.

Hey, if Threshold IS a "science fiction show for people who don't like science fiction," then is it only intended for the people who don't like it? Huh? Curse your oxymorons, David Goyer!

Another survey of real-life robots with a few models I hadn't heard of. No, I never get tired of robots.

Finally, Andrew Roswell-Jones has a stirring perspective on the future of "mentats," programs named for-- and with the same function as-- the human computers in Dune. Aimed at businesspeople but with implications for us all.

Tomorrow, Wednesday. Tomorrow!

P.S.: Happy birthday, Graham!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Concluding the Buffy Roundup.

Ooops. Contrary to earlier reports, Emma Caulfield was not in Chance. I trusted a bad source. BAD source! BAD, BAD source!

Also, apologies for some trouble with TalkAboutComics.com, where a couple of recent links have pointed. It should be up again shortly.

A new six-book novel series is beginning, described as "Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings." If that intrigues you, try the first chapter (PDF).

In the world of video games, twenty-twenty-twenty-four hours to go-o-o-o...

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society is seeking exemption from taxes, claiming it's an educational institution. I have no comment at this time... I'd need to know what their activities were before I could defend their claim, or mock it.

Hungary is bringing back Galaktika, a legendary SF magazine that was once one of the few outlets for criticism of a communist regime, with a circulation peak nearly 1% of the nation's entire population. But it folded in 1995, after the Berlin Wall fell. Will its place in history mean a new place in the market?

Great, short New Yorker piece on an sociology professor who teaches SF in the broadest possible sense. “What If? The Art and Science of Imagining a Society That Never Was?” Sign me up!

Back to Buffy.
Marc Blucas' acting resume has been respectable if nondescript since Buffy, which some would say is rather like his Buffy character. His other big love-interest role was in this year's First Daughter, and if you haven't heard of it... you're not alone. (Even there, the poor guy's getting typecast as a "Ken," with the character name "James Lansome"-- rhymes with "handsome.")

Emma Caulfield's other notable work last year was Darkness Falls, and general consensus is that she was the best thing in it-- by too wide a margin.

Man, you know Buffy was big when even Michelle Trachtenberg, who played the show's answer to Wesley Crusher, has her own fan site. Or two. Her biggest claim to fame since the series has been a couple of select appearances on Six Feet Under, as a spoiled pop princess. (Must... resist... cheap... shot.)

And finally, poor Kristine Sutherland's acting career seems to be deader than her character. Even her alleged fan site is pretty much just a photo-montage and some links that could as easily have been for Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera. Let this be a lesson to you actresses-- make sure that your most riveting performance is not the one where you portray a corpse.

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

What's The Best Webcomic I'm Not Reading?

I'm curious. My current list (in NO particular order) is Clan of the Cats, Narbonic, College Roomies from Hell, General Protection Fault, Penny Arcade, PvP, Sluggy Freelance, Something Positive, Sore Thumbs, Wapsi Square, Gaming Guardians, Luann, Zebra Girl and of course everything on Graphic Smash, plus David Willis' Roomies at the former site of It's Walky. I catch up with the Modern Tales and Girlamatic archives every so often. There are other comics I read sporadically, but I don't make a habit of them. Send your recommendations here.

And if you're still feeling civic-minded about webcomics, try helping out with the Webcomics Wikipedia Project. I'm in there with R&T and P&A... and so are other Graphic Smashers... but under the rules of Wikipedia, I can't write articles about my own comics. Only YOU can. And YOU. And YOU. And HIM.

Alexander Danner recommends an anthology of SF short stories by people who have actual experience with alien invasions.

Arryn Heath comes into the field from historical fiction, and the premise of her first book shows the influence. Here's an excerpt.

The Matrix as Muslim metaphor.

It turns out that Tim Mitts may be in perfect shape to go into space.

And finally, Ursula K. Le Guin is keeping mum, but as Lisa Kremer says, it's not that hard to guess how happy she is with the casting on Earthsea.

Tomorrow, let's wrap up the Buffy survey once and for all, shall we?

Saturday, November 06, 2004

"Yes, Master."

The Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith trailer is here.

Thanks to Hamilton Clower for helping me fix the Livejournal feed.

Mmmmm... either don't get the buzziest video game of the year, or get it and give Microsoft a foothold in the market, which you know they'll use for evil? Hmmmm.

Doom 3 won twice, but nobody really dominated The Golden Joystick Awards, which is probably the sign of a healthy video-game industry.

"SCI-FI" becomes an acronym. An exciting program for those interested in the future of architecture and how it may relate to the motion picture industry.

The authors of the popular Christian apocalyptic SF Left Behind series are feeling betrayed by their publishers, and not because of money...

Also from The Dallas Morning News, a local Lego expo.

Engadget has a feature called Movie Gadget Friday, ideal for fans of SF gizmos.

There's a Hello, Kitty MMORPG. Yes. Yes.

And finally, Cory Doctorow calls this one of the best science-fiction stories of the year, and he's probably right. Read the first paragraph and see if you can stop.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I'm In Love!

Snapping me out of the post-election doldrums, Graphic Smash has come to life as a "tan," a chibi representing an inanimate object. And it's not the only one.

NPR radio piece on Arkham House, the little publishing shack that broke in obscure writers Ray Bradbury and Greg Bear, and inspired the dinky li'l RPG Dungeons and Dragons. You know. Unimpressively.

How not to compare real science to science fiction. First of all, don't call a transporter a teleporter. Second of all, don't vague up your tech to make your weak argument stronger. The Laser Microdissection and Pressure Catapulting (LMPC) microscope is a marvelous device, but it only works over the distance traversible by a focused beam of light. So you still have to take the subway through New York City. Not to mention they're using it for, you know, microscopic stuff. This is a great STEP, guys, but we're not there yet.

MUCH more fun: the U.S. Air Force just did a teleportation study. Seriously.

The Sci Fi Channel has given Tom Vitale a largely ceremonial position as senior VP of programming and original movies. Seriously, this doesn't mean much more than the authority he already has, which is considerable. But if it comes with a raise, well, he deserves it. So who is this guy, and why does he deserve such praise?

Sci Fi's been busy lately. Here's something about their new initiative to help persuade Luddites like YOU to go broadband. BRAWWWWWWWWWWDBAAAAAAAAAAND. You know you want to.

Wednesday White worries that I'll be depressed again by the opening buzz surrounding the Transformers live-action movie. But I'm not... not yet. Live-action CAN work for that property-- when I was a kid, I used to look at REAL cars and imagine them turning into robots, and thinking how cool that would be. And that's really most of the point of Transformers, cool-looking robots with strident personalities. Yeah, this CAN work, and SF adaptations have had more hits than misses lately. I'm cautiously optimistic. Right now.

Anime News Network thinks it may have found a rare anime that's "low in [number of fans] but high in quality."

Monique MacNaughton points to some free downloads available from Baen Books.

And finally, video-game piracy hits the Big Three.

[Melancholy Sigh]

Regarding recent posts... no, life is NOT universally good, and if I *did* use this blog to denounce the political situation, now would be the time to do so...

Mostly, I feel guilty. Like when I read reports of people quitting their jobs to help dig survivors out of the rubble of the World Trade Center... why didn't *I* think to do that? And why didn't I do more to prevent... this? Am I so locked in my mental studio that I can't get out and join the world, even when it really NEEDS me to? I suppose most artists feel that way, some time or other, but that doesn't mean it isn't right to feel it.

My apologies to Republican readers, but... this is hard for me to swallow.

Other news: I Love Bees, the most successful phone-based RPG of all time, ends today.

Longtime reader Gwalla presents Will Shetterly's alternate reality squared that dares to ask, "What if George W. Bush had become President in 2000?" Too implausible, he answers...

For bad-movie lovers, the wandering Wednesday White offers a follow up to yesterday's Manos article: whatever happened to "Debbie?"

Tom the Fanboy has spotted a store that sells DVDs of anime conventions that seems to have a serious identity crisis about its URL.

Interesting piece from The Republican on the decline of convention attendances. Article may not account for all factors, but it is true that fan activism is not what it was. (I could have tried to organize an "SF Fans Against Bush" campaign. Or an "SF Writers Against Bush" campaign. That makes a nice acronym. Guilt, guilt, guilt...)

Picking up the Buffy thread, Seth Green is all over the place. Probably his best-known role is Scotty Evil, for which he has a small fanlisting. But even Scotty's devoted fans were largely disappointed with his transformation in Goldmember, and it's hard to see a fourth Austin Powers movie in the offing as long as Mike Myers is owned by Shrek. Seth himself seems to think it isn't likely. Still, in solid box-office second-stringers like Without a Paddle and Scooby-Doo 2, he's carving out a solid career as a character actor. At least one good thing came out of Scooby-Doo 2.

James Marsters appeared recently with David Boreanaz in London, but for the most part his post-Buffy career has been quiet guest appearances in in-production British shows. Around the time Buffy was wrapping, though, Marsters and Emma Caulfield starred in this little project called Chance, written, directed and starred in by one Amber Benson. This movie's is Benson's magnum opus... a meditation on cynicism and Generation Why. It's probably the biggest reason there are over 2,000 registered Amberholics. It's just crying out for me to say "you really should see it if you get the chance," but I resist. For you.

And finally... geez, this must be the season or something... another SF rock opera is out called In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. Official site and sample tracks here.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

What The Constituents Think.

I've been getting a lot of contributions from intrepid volunteers. Let's spend a bit more time with them...

Mark Mekkes is looking to flesh out the Executive Committee of the Web Cartoonist's Choice Awards. He needs officers in every position he cites that doesn't have an officer, but also needs good solid committee members. Bonus points if you're good at finding quality webcomics that other people haven't heard of.

Speaking of which, Graphic Smash has a new comic!

Pixie worries that the eugenics-run society of Gattaca may be just around the corner.

Hey, Tycho and Gabe! Ravenswood has a book you oughtta read! Poetry in Playstations!

Tom the Fanboy has found an epistulary horror story that borrows some of the good ideas from The Blair Witch Project and applies them to a MUCH scarier concept. Beware the Dionaea House...

And the waycool Wednesday White has sent me a passel of links. Among them: an article on one of the most-renowned bad SF movies of all time...

And a piece on the biological basis for false memories (paging Philip K. Dick).

Tomorrow, more Wednesday pieces, more Buffy actors, and more news! Life is good, eh?


Monday, November 01, 2004

Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!

I promised you an Election Day blog, and here it is!

I've done my best to restrain my political opinions in this blog-- my feeling is that there are already way too many blogs where shrill conservatives or shrill liberals set themselves up on a pulpit and denounce, denounce, DENOUNCE. So let's find a silver lining here. I have to give props to BOTH candidates for their last-minute efforts to pump up voter turnout. Traditionally that's something only Democrats do, when it should be something all democrats do. Mind, I don't have any illusions that either candidate would sob over a low turnout from supporters of the other guy. But sometimes it's NOT the thought that counts.

It appears the Sims don't get everything right. After all, no one would stand for a voting machine like this in real life. Wait... ohhhhhhh...

Cobra Commander for President! Can Starscream be his veep?

Its reviews have been lukewarm at best, but I like Sore Thumbs, darn it, and its Election Day special is a prime example. Most political cartoons in the paper and out of it seem to be one beer away from a chair-throwing rage or a convulsive fit of sobs. Sore Thumbs is having FUN! It's so ZESTY! We can STAND a few goofy grins when we think about our political situation. It can make us cry all by itself.

Well, that's one way to get into the fantasy/science-fiction section.

Alternate-history fans, especially those whose candidate loses the election, may get a buzz out of Alternate Presidents. What if the losers won?

Patrick Farley starts with a similar premise-- a Gore administration that fights terrorism with technology-- in his excellent and still, frustratingly, incomplete The Spiders, one of the best webcomics of... whichever year it started coming out. FINISH IT, PATRICK! I BEG YOU!

And finally, a list of fictional presidents, courtesy of Wikipedia.

P.S.: The redoubtable Wednesday White has set up our live feed on Livejournal! How cool is this??? Look for more WW contributions... soon!

Reflections On My Power.

Eric Burns named a planet after me. A freaking planet. Yes, okay, a fictional planet, but STILL. A FREAKING PLANET. "So what did you do today, guys? Get any planets named after you? No? That's so sad."

A prominent reader of this blog wrote me to say that she bought We3 #2 on my say-so. That makes me happy, but as I told her, "I probably should warn people that it's not for the squeamish... parts are VERY violent, and it looks like it's heading for a tragic ending. But it's the kind of action story that I look for on Graphic Smash all the time-- it has compelling ideas, likable characters and a basic story concept you won't see ANYWHERE else."

But also, with great power comes et cetera, and I feel terribly guilty that it has taken me this long to inform you all about Fright Night, a lovely six-year tradition of "competition webcomics" continued through the offices of Comixpedia. Had I been quicker, you could have voted to elect your favorite. So you better believe I'm going to be screaming to get out the vote in TOMORROW's election.

Not that I think you're not bright enough to vote in THAT one without me. There are limits, yea, even to MY awesome influence. It's just karmic payforward, that's all.

So in recent posts we discussed what Sarah Michelle Gellar's doing, and what Joss Whedon's not doing. What about the rest of the cast...?

This will have to be the work of two or three days, because we're talkin' a LOT of cast members.

Aside from joining Whedon for the fundraiser (fan account here), Alyson Hannigan has done a turn on the stage in When Harry Met Sally. (Hint: she didn't play Harry.) There was the American Pie stuff, and there are reports of a fourth movie... but Hannigan's involvement is uncertain at best. An NBC sitcom pilot has also gone nowhere yet. Better luck catching her guesting on That 70s Show.

Nicholas Brendon did a fanzine interview recently, and still has a devoted fan following who don't care how hard it is to spell his name. But he's been pretty much invisible aside from a brief role in Celeste in the City. In fact, ABC Family seems eager to put old Buffy actors in its TV movies: see Charisma Carpenter. Carpenter, though, is doing a bit better on TV than her "ex-boyfriend," showing up repeatedly on Charmed and at least once on LAX, as reported best on her fan site. The rumor mill has it that she's even under consideration as Lois Lane.

Anthony Stewart Head's just going by Anthony Head these days, and he's keeping busy, thanks, though on fare that doesn't get a lot of exposure in the U.S. But that's just fine with him... family first.

David Boreanaz has got a few projects in post-prod, including the fourth Crow movie, which really should have been out by now. He seems a bit skittish about returning to Angel for TV movies, citing that "family first" thing, though one suspects typecasting fear also has something to do with it. He's tested for The Thing and Superman, though (unsuccessfully in both cases), so clearly some of Joss Whedon's comic-book-influenced ethos has rubbed off on him.

More later. Tomorrow, election stuff!