Thursday, September 29, 2005

Smoke and Mirrors and Masks, or The Other Geeky Movie This Weekend

Unless you've been living under a rock, which is hard to do with an Internet connection, you probably know that this is a big weekend for geeky movies...for one, Serenity opens tomorrow, satisfying the dreams of millions of Browncoats. I don't think I have to tell you about this any more.

But that's not the only one. Tomorrow, Mirrormask opens. For those of you who don't know, Mirrormask is a movie, cowritten by Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman, produced[1] by the Jim Henson Company, and directed by McKean. Even better, according to this brilliant interview by TIME of Gaiman and Joss Whedon, the Henson Company went to Gaiman and McKean, and said, "Here's $4 million; make a movie, and we won't interfere at all."

There are many, many ways in which this is sweet, not least that Gaiman and McKean are masters of their crafts. But all of those are offset by one minor problem: Sony Pictures is bringing it out in limited release. According to the film's web site, the closest it's opening to me is New York, which while close enough to be feasible, is far less than optimal.

Besides, the history of Gaiman's work with movies, especially limited releases, is not what I'd call a smashing success. He did, after all, write the English script for Princess Mononoke, which (and stop me if you've heard this story...) opened in three places: New York, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. It did well on the coasts, but since it bombed in the Twin Cities, the Powers That Be decided it wouldn't play in Peoria, and it didn't get a really wide release. Thankfully it seemed to recoup a lot of that from DVD...and, though this is just my speculation, I think that softened up the ground for Spirited Away to do as well as it did.

Anyway. Mirrormask is opening tomorrow, and the best way I get a chance to see it is to get as many people I know who live in the active areas to see it, so Sony Pictures brings it out nearer to me. And hey, I just happen to have this rather large mouthpiece of the Science Fiction Blog. So...

Here's a list of places the film will show, and dates it'll open; here's a link to the trailer, which certainly sold me on the film; go forth and watch!

[1] Or at least funded. I'm not sure what the distinction is.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Power Of Positive Mass-Emailing, or But They Still Can't Get It Right, Now Can They?

Some of you may have heard that in late July the call went out to Firefly fans the world over: Email Fox Music and ask them for a Firefly soundtrack.

Well, the call was answered, but apparently Fox didn't really listen. According to a friend of mine (the proprietress of Cult Of Lincoln[1]):

[T]hey just grudgingly eke out a selection of tracks Greg Edmonson recorded years ago, and what they do release is choked with DRM so thick that Mac users can't even play the songs with the current version! And anyone that can download it will have to burn it to CD and rip it back to their computer if they want to play it on an iPod or any other WMA-unfriendly device. And apparently the Fox store only takes credit cards with American addresses, effectively eliminating the international market.

Speaking as a Linux user, looks like I'm using methods best left unspecified in public. Dear Fox, you really just don't know a good think when you see one. Not that this is news.

[1] I wonder if this'll boost her name recognition?

Edited 22 September, 22:26 EDT: According to an email I just received from Fox Music, now they offer .mp3 versions of the soundtrack. Still needs IE, though. *shakes head*

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Put the Message in the Box

A couple of days ago, I gave you fair warning that I was going to be putting up a "Suggestions Box" for Science Fiction Blog (I also gave you the uncomfortable mental image of Larry Niven naked, but let's move past that, shall we?). To that end, I have set up a GMail address for feedback, figured out how to get it to cooperate with my e-mail software, and sent myself lots of cutesy test messages to make sure that it all worked. Yay, me.

As a result, let me introduce to you our brand new site feedback address:

So: What do you want Science Fiction Blog to be?

What sorts of things would you like to see more of here, or even less of? Should we concentrate more on News, or Reviews, or Commentary and Essays? Should we focus more on TV and Movies? On Literature? On Fandom itself?

And what about subjects which don't necessarily involve Science Fiction, per se, yet still fall within the generally recognized ambit of Science Fiction Fandom: Comics, Anime, Gaming, Science, History, and generalized Gothery, Geekery, and Slashdottery?

What features are you interested in? Would you like Comments to be enabled? Categories? Picture Galleries? Fancy Whirling Animated Musical Flash Games?

And finally, in the almost certain event that you know more about doing this sort of thing than I do, could you give me hints on how it's done? Especially if you are suggesting something which will be difficult to do in Blogger, now would be a good time to clue us all in to that fact, and to any other options which exist out there on the internets.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Keep Watching the Skies!

It has been a week, now, since I got back from Dragon*Con, the world's largest Thing That Calls Itself a Science Fiction Convention1. I am still working my way through more than 20 Gigabytes of pictures from the convention, even as the more than 20 different flu bugs I was exposed to at the con work their way through me. I'll try to slap together some sort of gaudy and ill-conceived photo essay (i.e., "a bunch of pictures with captions or something") on the subject in the coming days, but, in the meantime, I wanted to say a few words about the massive and earth-shattering changes afoot here at Science Fiction Blog2.

I know that it's hard to imagine any changes which could possibly be more radical than those which have already overtaken SFBlog since my sudden coup d’├ętat, but we want you to try.

To that end, I'll be putting up a "Suggestion Box," so to speak, in a day or two.

What do you want out of Science Fiction Blog? What things, aside from naked pictures of Larry Niven, would make this a more interesting place to visit? Put on your thinking cats (after you've fed them and changed their litter boxes, of course) and get ready to give us an icky grey piece of your mind.

1 I say this because, given the amount of media SF programming it hosts, Comic-Con could have the title any time it wanted.
2 Two words: "Pantsless Thursdays"
3 Made you look!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Drugged golden robots of the lost trilennia

Today's featured article at Wikipedia: Space opera in Scientology doctrine. It is truuuuuuly fascinating reading. Boy, was RLH fond of trillions.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Webcomic Hurricane Relief Telethon

Another Katrina charity effort worth a look-in: the Blank Label Comics co-operative is hosting a Webcomic Telethon in the week of September 12th.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Heavy Weather

It's very easy to feel like an ass, blogging about festivities and ephemera at a time when bureaucratic incompetence and mismanagement have turned one of the world's most congenial cities into a horrific real life Snake Plissken movie. Still, there are some things worth mentioning which are both topical and relevant.

Closest to home right now, here at Dragon*Con, there are numerous charitable efforts underway; from media stars who are donating their proceeds to the relief effort, to blood drives and dozens of other, smaller, efforts. Further afield, from Patrick Nielsen Hayden at Making Light comes word of SCA deployments to help with relief efforts around the South, as well as a touching memorial to New Orleans' most beloved SF writer.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Dragon*Con 2005

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usSo the big plan was to blog live from Dragon*Con, using the miracle of wireless internet access to upload timely reports and exciting photos of the goings-on.

However, given that Dragon*Con is perilously close to being a full 24 hour per day convention, I'm not entirely sure, in retrospect, just when, exactly, I thought I was going to be able to do this.

Still, I will try to catch up with the current of events before it has passed us completely by.