Tuesday, March 16 2004

Note to the writers of Stargate: SG-1

Yes, yes, Kinsey is a villain composed of equal parts pure evil and arrogant condescension. We get it already, okay? Could you please drop the Snidely Whiplash act and get on with the story now? Yeesh.

Wednesday, March 17 2004

What the FUCK?!?

Could someone please explain to me how the film shown in this trailer could possibly deserve the title I, Robot? Or even how they managed to pull this story out of Asimov’s legacy? “Sci-fi action thriller suggested by the classic short story collection”, my ass!

Adding insult to injury, the official movie site is a steaming pile of Flash.

Monday, April 5 2004

The Return of Santiago

It’s been a while since I’ve read a novel by Mike Resnick. After finishing The Return of Santiago, it looks like it will be a while before I read another one.

It’s competently executed, and sufficiently entertaining that I did finish it, but if the plot had been any more telegraphed, they’d have had to change the title to Western Union. Maybe it’s because I’ve read four and a half other books set in this universe (I bounced hard on Widowmaker), but absolutely nothing that happened in this novel surprised me, and I’m already having trouble remembering any distinguishing characteristics of the characters.

Two things stand out: the running gag about Virgil’s sex life, which has no impact whatsoever on the story, and the fact that after Danny stumbles across the biggest secret in the history of the Inner Frontier, he cheerfully blabs it to damn near anyone within earshot, swearing them all to absolute secrecy.

Sunday, March 6 2005

If this isn’t a coincidence…

…then it’s hilarious. I haven’t been following the new Battlestar Galactica series, even though it’s getting lots of good reviews, mostly because I simply haven’t been watching much television at all. However, while looking at the fan sites, I noticed that Grace Park’s character, Boomer, is a Cylon disguised as a human being.

Boomer. Cylon. Where are the Knight Sabers when you need them?

Thursday, November 23 2006

Reading for comprehension

It’s not a bad collection of sci-fi babes, but I’m not the only one who choked on this line about Heinlein’s Starship Troopers:

One of the main plot points of Heinlein’s original novel was that all the experienced officers were killed off, leaving only the kids in charge.

What are they teaching kids in school these days?

Sunday, May 6 2007

Harry’s Matrix

Harry Dresden is a rather unconventional wizard, in a rather decent set of urban fantasy/detective novels. He has no significant connection to Japan, and indeed his magic is very strongly Western in origin.

So where did the glowing runes on his staff come from?

Dresden's Staff -- マトリックス

The paperback edition of Dead Beat doesn’t seem to name the cover artist anywhere, but whoever it was decided that the English loanword マトリックス (“matrix”) made a dandy set of runes.

[oh, and I just noticed that Amazon has a new “Amapedia” site…]

Wednesday, December 10 2008

Fleet Juggler

I recently read the two new pre-Ringworld Known Space novels by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner, Fleet of Worlds and Juggler of Worlds. Very short summary: Fleet was pretty good, Juggler less so.

The big difference: Fleet is a standalone novel set in Known Space. If you have a vague memory of Ringworld and the short stories, you’ll be fine. Juggler, on the other hand, is not only a direct sequel to Fleet, but also to more than a dozen Known Space short stories (including everything in Crashlander), which are air-dropped into the story at seemingly random intervals. The “big surprise” is also so poorly handled that for several chapters you can’t be sure that a major character wasn’t just another reference. On the plus side, it gives a faint nod to the old “down in flames” story idea, which was more fun than most of the backstage views of decades-old stories.

I’ve read all of the Known Space stories several times, so I got most of the references, but the secret history of the secret history of Beowulf Shaeffer just got tiresome after a while, and it took up space that would have been better spent expanding on the interesting new characters who were the focus of Fleet. They’re pretty much reduced to spear-carriers in Juggler.

Fleet stands alone quite nicely, and adds some real depth to the Puppeteers, both individually and as a race. I didn’t dislike Juggler, but I doubt I’ll reread it.

Tuesday, January 13 2009

Dear Baen Books,

Please do not give Clyde Calwell any future cover-art work. Or, at the very least, give him a description of the main character beyond “lives in cool-looking city, female, long dark hair, spends time on rooftops”.

I say this because I’ve been reading PC Hodgell’s novels since 1982, and the chick on the cover of The God Stalker Chronicles ain’t Jame.

I’ll have to scan in the cover of my battered old first-edition paperback, because that is Jame.

Sunday, August 30 2009

I did not know…

…that the Lensman novels had been translated into Japanese. Also, there’s a sequel, predictably titled Samurai Lensman. Sadly, while the author’s other book covers feature sexy ninja girls and moe demon hunters, SL’s cover restricts itself to a heroic male. While this may be in keeping with the old-fashioned spirit of the Lensman universe (modulo Clarissa and the girls), it was written in 2001, and I can’t help feeling that it’s time to infuse Doc’s classics with some modern tropes: Kyonyuu Tsundere Meganekko Catgirl Maids of the Lens.

[Update: turns out the girl on the cover is holding a big gun, and she’s a scrappy tomboy who uses it quite effectively, joining forces with Our Hero. And she’s named Cat. And she’s definitely a healthy female mammal. Not a samurai or lensman herself, though, and no sign of glasses or a maid costume, but it’s still more progress than I expected. There is a gender-ambiguous pre-teen cat-person in the story, listed as one of Cat’s younger siblings (presumably an adopted Vegian), but without actually reading the book, I can’t count that one as a loli catgirl yet.]

Oh, katakana word for the day: スペオペ.

[and this picture is just too cute for words…]

(Continued on Page 3405)

Thursday, September 10 2009

Words to live by…





(Continued on Page 3412)

Sunday, February 21 2010

A difference in the style

The following four images are the front covers of the Japanese editions of two well-known science fiction novels (two each, because novels are frequently split into two volumes in Japan). I have crudely blacked out the author’s name, so as long as you don’t sight-read katakana, you can examine the covers and try to guess which novels they are.

two well-known SF novels

The Japanese and English titles are below.

(Continued on Page 3514)

Friday, March 19 2010

Zelazny’s Crime

What if Roger Zelazny wrote a hard-boiled murder mystery, and no one knew about it for more than thirty-five years? Well, now you can buy it on Amazon

It’s been out since last February, but it didn’t make it onto my recommendations list until a few weeks ago. And, of course, I’d never have gone looking in that genre.

How is it? Not bad. It was a complete manuscript, but it’s got some rough spots, as if he planned to go back and work it over again, but then moved on to something else. Their best guess puts it right around the same time as Nine Princes in Amber, and I can see some similarities (stylistically, that is) to the opening section on Earth, before Corwin recovers his memory.

Monday, September 13 2010

R.I.P, James P. Hogan

He died back in July, but I just heard about it a few minutes ago. The SF novels he wrote in the Seventies and Eighties are full of crunchy goodness, and the prologue to Code of the Lifemaker is just plain fun.

Thursday, February 3 2011

Barsoomian Haiku

Evil men often
held Dejah Thoris for weeks;
did they get any?

Warlord John Carter,
always present when villains
say “As you know, Bob”.

Barsoom’s nude beauties:
inadequately described,
yet worth dying for.

Friday, March 4 2011

Well, at least it’s got a catchy title

Can’t go wrong with a title like “Regarding Ducks and Universes”, even when a quick inspection reveals that it’s a first novel published through Amazon’s vaguely-described Encore program.

I’m not recommending it, mind you, and I’m not even using my affiliate code in that link. I just found it interesting that Amazon is aggressively promoting an SF title by a complete unknown, as opposed to the usual “Kindle vanity press” or POD semi-publishing approaches.

Friday, March 11 2011

“Oh, joy, Tuf and Tuf again. I can hardly wait.”

George R. R. Martin’s Tuf Voyaging remains sadly out of print, but some small quantity of a relatively recent small-press edition are available directly from the author, autographed.

I made sure to place my order before mentioning this on my blog, just in case. My two paperback copies of the book are both starting to lose pages, and it’s an old favorite.

“I feel obliged to point out that a rather large carnivorous dinosaur has appeared in the corridor behind you, and is presently attempting to sneak up on us. He is not doing a very good job of it.”
– Haviland Tuf, Ecological Engineer

Saturday, April 30 2011

Fire, Deep, Sky

Must. Buy. Now.

I always thought the next one should have been called “A Sky Full of Fire”, but I guess he’s not ready to write that sequel yet.

Wednesday, June 6 2012

I’d almost forgotten about this one…

Gaining new relevance due to his death.

(replaced with youtube embed to get rid of the long ads)

Thursday, July 19 2012

…and so it begins

The Amazon listing for the upcoming Niven/Benford collaboration contains the following sentence:

At the publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

Friday, October 4 2013

Name that novel!

This is the cover of the Japanese translation of a well-regarded American science fiction novel (with title and author crudely hidden). It is not the author’s most famous or controversial work, but even Hollywood knows about it.

Japanese edition of well-known SF novel

[whoops, re-uploaded with the faint red English title also deleted…]

Friday, October 10 2014

Ranking the modern Doctors

  1. Eccleston
  2. Tennant
  3. Hurt
  4. Smith
  5. Morrissey
  6. Capaldi

Tuesday, October 21 2014

How sausage is made…

From TheWorstMuse:

If your alien culture isn’t a thinly veiled allegory for contemporary politics, what’s the point?

Wednesday, February 25 2015

I’m all for “expanding your mind”, but…

this novel’s blurb makes my head hurt:

Space travel has always come with risks. But hyperspace travel comes with one particularly frightening risk, namely, the non-corporeal dark energy-based macrobiotic entities that inhabit the void and are drawn to the presence of human minds. Once penetrated by a macrobe, the infected human mind rapidly devolves into raving insanity, which usually presents in a homicidal manner. Fortunately, hyperspace-capable ships are protected by a dark energy resonator that keeps the macrobes away and thereby permits safe interstellar travel.

I think I’ve read enough.

Saturday, April 4 2015

The Hugo wake-up call

“None of you seem to understand. I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with me.”
– Rorschach

For the third year running, a group of people who felt that the Hugo awards for science fiction and fantasy were, shall we say, “unrepresentative of the generally popular works of the genre”, banded together and encouraged people to sign up and vote for the nominations and the awards. They even put together a suggested list of nominees.

They were mocked, belittled, libeled, and accused as a group of sharing the worst characteristics that could be identified in or attributed to any one member. A vocal group of longtime Worldcon-goers hates them with the fire of a thousand suns, and greeted their success in this year’s nominations with a promise that They Shall Not Pass. (more precisely, “I’ll vote ‘No Award’ above anyone they nominated”).

Mind you, a lot of that crowd still thinks George W. Bush stole two elections, so raging against reality is kind of their specialty.

They also have failed to think things through. For background, anyone who attended the previous year’s con or bought a supporting membership for the current year ($40) can both nominate and vote. The Worldcon community is tiny in comparison to major cons like Gencon, Dragoncon, or Comic-con, and only a small percentage of eligible voters ever vote.

The “Sad Puppies” campaigns brought a lot of longtime SF/F fans out of the woodwork, enough to significantly skew this year’s nominations towards their recommendations. In many cases, this was the direct result of people discovering for the first time that it was possible to nominate and vote for the Hugos. Worldcon is expensive, and if you weren’t in the habit of going, you’d never have known. Hell, I went to one and had no idea; they didn’t go out of their way to encourage you.

So now a lot more people know that it’s cheap and easy to participate in the Hugo awards. And unlike real politics, they can see that their votes counted. They’re likely to nominate and vote again next year, and spread the word to other formerly-unrepresented fans. A lot of the wailing and rending of garments is about the “unfairness” of organized participation by a group with a clear list of nominees, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They’re not an army of drones marching in lockstep to the dictates of their leaders, they’re something much worse: fans. They’ll vote for the things they like, and they like things that haven’t been winning Hugos recently.

(They also, it turns out, can vote for the location of future Worldcons. It requires a little more planning, since this year’s bids are for 2017’s con (I say Shizuoka), and the fee for voting becomes a supporting membership to that con, but if you’re going to continue nominating and voting, there’s no reason not to participate. Essentially, you pay twice as much for the first two years, and then you’re set)

Monday, April 13 2015

Quoted for truth…

“My view is that when we specifically try to change the rules to exclude the Sad Puppies, and we judge how well the changes work by how well they would have excluded the Sad Puppies given historical data, we will have some difficulty explaining to journalists that we are not doing it to exclude the Sad Puppies.”
    – J. Thomas, commenting on changing the Hugo rules at Making Light

Tuesday, April 14 2015

Refusing to be eaten

“But fandom’s furious identitarians succeeded where racists failed. Identitarians insist they want what I want, a world where everyone is equal. But to make that world, they attack anyone who wants equality in the wrong way. Perhaps my greatest disappointment with them is they happily use the tactics of racists and bigots–mockery, death threats, blacklisting, and censorship.”
    – Will Shetterly

Will, it’s because they are racists and bigots, and proud of it.