July 27, 2009

Don't make him angry

Apparently, Adam Roberts doesn't think much of this year's Hugo nominees. One of the nominees, the estimable John Scalzi, responds. Excerpt:

That said, Roberts makes a major unforced error by addressing his kvetch to science fiction fandom, since what essentially what’s he’s written comes across like so:

Dear Science Fiction Fandom:

Hey, you know those books you loved enough this year to nominate for awards? The ones that made you happy or made you cry or made you think or had characters you liked, in situations that thrilled you? Yes, well, they actually kinda suck. So, despite the fact that you’ve made science fiction a foundational part of your life, follow and support the genre, and are grown-up, accomplished people who are on average both smarter and better read than the average Joe, you are somewhat full of FAIL. Please try to be less fail-tastic in the future, or I will be forced to once again assume that the reason you select the Hugo nominees you do has in fact nothing to do with the fact you actually like the books, because that would just be silly.

KTHXBYE,

Adam Roberts

What makes this an error is the tangential fact Mr. Roberts is a science fiction author himself. Here’s something that we in the kvetching industry like to call a “pro tip”: If you take the time to squat and pinch off a steaming ass-loaf of condescension onto the heads of the people most committed to the genre of literature you happen to write in, you may find they will remember that fact when they see your books in the stores. As in “oh, here’s the book of that guy who thinks my taste in literature sucks.” How motivated does that make the average science fiction fan to buy a book? Well, you know: How motivated would it make you?

Update: Oops. I found that my cut/paste had included way more than I had planned to post here. Apologies to Mr. Scalzi for posting more than fair use should allow.

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May 05, 2008

Good news for Tolkeinphiles

Looks like Gandalf the Grey will return. Excerpt:

McKellen Reprising Gandalf In Hobbit

British actor Ian McKellen told Empire magazine that he will reprise the role of the wizard Gandalf in Guillermo del Toro's upcoming movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, the Reuters news service reported.

The 68-year-old star played the part in the hugely successful Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by Peter Jackson. Mexican filmmaker del Toro has been named to direct two films based on The Hobbit, which Jackson will produce and co-write.

"Yes, it's true," McKellen told Empire. "I spoke to Guillermo in the very room that Peter Jackson offered me the part, and he confirmed that I would be reprising the role. Obviously, it's not a part that you turn down; I loved playing Gandalf."

Del Toro, whose credits include Pan's Labyrinth, will move to New Zealand for the next four years to work on both Hobbit films with executive producer Jackson, according to New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.

The studios have said that filming will begin in 2009, with tentative release dates set in 2010 for the first film and 2011 for the sequel.

Hmm. By 2010, my son will be 8 years old. Considering that I read The Hobbit for the first time at that ripe age, I think that I forsee a father/son outing. After, of course, he's finished reading the book. Lucky for him, I have a copy lying around the house.

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March 19, 2008

Another giant gone

I'm a day late here, but Arthur C. Clarke has passed away. I was always a fan, even through his latest co-authored offerings. Childhood's End, Rendevous With Rama and The Fountains of Paradise will always remain among my favorites. In fact, I've even read both versions of his first novel, which John Derbyshire sees fit to mention here. More from Derbyshire:

I think I read everything Clarke wrote from then up to Fountains of Paradise (1979). Science fiction, like opera, is a thing not everybody "gets." To those who "get" it, though, Clarke was a great grand-master. He wrote "hard" sci-fi: no magic, fantasy, or weirdness, nothing that contradicted what is known. He scoffed at UFOs and other popular delusions of the time. He had a true scientist's respect for the evidence, yoked to a wonderful gift for speculating within the evidence. His feet were always planted firmly in known fact, while his mind soared through infinite space and time. (One of his novels takes place a billion years in the future.)

Clarke's unwavering respect for evidence showed up in his famous 1984 falling-out with Robert Heinlein over the Strategic Defense Initiative. Heinlein was for SDI, Clarke was against, and there was an ugly spat, with both men standing their ground. Later Clarke went over the evidence carefully, saw flaws in his math, changed his mind, and did his best to make up with Heinlein. (Making up with Heinlein unfortunately required extraterrestrial powers.)

Derbyshire also links to this classic short story of Clarke's, which will take you only a few well spent minutes to read. Have at it.

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December 20, 2007

Classic science fiction

Something that I did not know until today: John W. Campbell (if you don't know this name, please move along) authored the novella which was the basis for both versions of the movie The Thing. What's more, the entire story is available online for your reading pleasure.

Oh, Campbell link from Cracked.

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October 19, 2007

Some thoughts and a little eye candy

Anyone else watching Bionic Woman besides me? Apparently not too many of you, which is a shame. I think that the series has shown some promise, although it has been a little uneven in its quality. Good episodes alternate with mediocre episodes. I'm all for setting the stage, introducing the characters, etcetera, but just get going. Right now, the ratings are about what got The Nine killed last year.

What do I like? Here's a small list:

1. Katie Sachkoff plays someone of almost pure evil on the show. Certainly her character on BSG-Starbuck- has elements of moral confusion, but as Jaime Sommers' nemesis she's downright creepy at times.

2. I enjoyed the original series. It didn't take itself too seriously and was a lot of fun. This version is much darker and bleaker. Sort of TV noir, with some comedic elements thrown in.

3. Holy mother of god, have you taken a good look at Michelle Ryan?

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Michelle #2

Michelle #3

Michelle #4

Michelle #5

Michelle #6


Oh sure, if you don't like the full lips, the flowing hair, the ample bosom, the swelling hips and the overall buff look of a gym rat, you might not think she's that attractive. Rumor has it that Senator Craig doesn't think Michelle Ryan is all that.

Interestingly, if you search the Innertubes for photos, she's actually got some pictures of her that somehow manage to make her look less than appealing. In my opinion, those photographers should all be caned. Michelle is so freakishly hot that I tend to get distracted during... what was I saying? Anyway, if I were half my current age, unmarried, rich and famous, much better looking and someone else entirely, she'd be the future ex-Mrs. Physics Geek. Unfortunately for her, I'm older and ecstatically married. So she'll have to spend her life pining for the fjords. I'd offer to comfort her, but it just wouldn't be fair.

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October 17, 2007

Nasty, tricksy hobbitssess

Despite the falling out between Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema over money, the two groups appear to be leaning towards Jackson directing The Hobbit. Since Sir Ian McKellen and one of the favored replacement directors both think that Peter Jackson would be the best choice, I'm going to go out on a limb and state for the record that it will eventually happen, hopefully before Gandalf is forced to use a walker onstage.
Oh, and it appears as though New Line is losing the legal battle:

Another sign: New Line appears to be losing the legal battle against Jackson with regard to Rings profits. Last week, a federal judge imposed a rare $125,000 sanction against the studio for failing to turn over potential evidence Jackson argued could help him prove that accounting tricks cheated him out of tens of millions in profits. New Line has said it won't appeal the sanction.

Yeah, if it looks like you've actually screwed the director of an immensely popular movie out of money, and then you turn around and decide to not hire him because he legally fought for what he was due, you might find that the public won't bother to go see your product. Just a guess, though. In any event, it'll be a few years away at best. In the interim, I'll be waiting for X Files: Need the Geritol to arrive.

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September 06, 2007

I'm with Jerry Pournelle

Pournelle's latest Chaos Manor review details the recent dustup between the SWFA and the EFF. What do I think of the whole thing? This:

  • Writers make their living from, duh, selling their writing.
  • If someone wants to read their stuff, they should have to pay for it so that the authors will be properly compensated for their effort.
  • Illegally uploading someone else's work to your site just to drive up your traffic numbers is immoral and, being redundant here to make a point, illegal.
  • If some authors want to allow their works to be given away for free, that is, of course, their right. They don't have to right to inflict that opinion on others.

Now the not-a-pirate-site Scribd often uploads material to which they neither own the copyright nor been given permission to do so. And their response is that they will only response to a legally crafted letter demanding that they remove such material? I'm usually in favor of big brass balls, but not in this case. I consider theft, intellectual or monetary, to be wrong. I never jumped on the music sharing theft bandwagon because, well, you're benefitting from someone's labor without properly compensating them. It seems like an easy call. But too many people these days think that there is such a thing as a free lunch and that laws don't apply to them. In the immortal words of Kos, Screw Them.

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August 21, 2007

You can't stop the signal

Or, apparently, the merchandising. Now I will take a backseat to no one in my admiration for the movie Serenity, but it's a movie with mediocre box office receipts based on a failed TV series (no comments about how Fox fubared it, please). And it came out on DVD less than 2 years ago. Is it really necessary to create a special Collector's Edition? It's not like there will be nude pictures of Morena, Jewel, Gina or Summer. Trust me: I looked. Instead, they've added some more blah blah blah "features" to the disc to try and entice people into springing another $20 for it. Who would be that stupid?

Oh piss off. Of course I'll be buying one.

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July 12, 2007

BSG movie to air in November

Battlestar Galatica: Razor will be a SciFi original movie (not surprising, as BSG is a SciFi original series) to air this November. Nifty. It'll be good to see Ensign Rho, I mean Admiral Cain, again.

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July 02, 2007

Concering a certain scifi giant

The 100th anniversary of Robert Heinlein's birth will occur on July 7, 2007. In honor of that upcoming event, I present to you this article. Within is contained this choice quotation:

[From Starship Troopers] "My mother says that violence never settles anything," comments one character. A teacher who doubles as Heinlein's mouthpiece then pounces: "Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms."

The Heinlein centenary will happen less than a month after the recent terrorist attacks in Britain? I question the timing.

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June 06, 2007

You've got it all wrong

Fahrenheit 451, that is. And you've always gotten it wrong. So sayeth the author, Ray Bradbury. Excerpt:

Bradbury still has a lot to say, especially about how people do not understand his most literary work, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. It is widely taught in junior high and high schools and is for many students the first time they learn the names Aristotle, Dickens and Tolstoy.

Now, Bradbury has decided to make news about the writing of his iconographic work and what he really meant. Fahrenheit 451 is not, he says firmly, a story about government censorship. Nor was it a response to Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose investigations had already instilled fear and stifled the creativity of thousands.

This, despite the fact that reviews, critiques and essays over the decades say that is precisely what it is all about. Even Bradbury’s authorized biographer, Sam Weller, in The Bradbury Chronicles, refers to Fahrenheit 451 as a book about censorship.

Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.

“Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was,” Bradbury says, summarizing TV’s content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: “factoids.” He says this while sitting in a room dominated by a gigantic flat-panel television broadcasting the Fox News Channel, muted, factoids crawling across the bottom of the screen.

Eh, what does he know anyway?

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