Posts in news
My New Project: Reading Every Hugo Winning Novel
I have been looking for something that I can really focus on, not only on this site, but in general and I have decided. I want to read more good science fiction, so I am going to be reading and writing about every Hugo award winning novel. I will also be making a page on this site for each of them where I can discuss them and my connection to them and when appropriate links to more information about them. I will be working from this list and doing it chronologically from the date the book was written. This means the first is The Mule by Isaac Asimov. An odd place to start because it is the second half of a book that is the second book in a series, but at least I know it is good. It also did not receive the Hugo until 1996. This is a long term project with over sixty book, and while I have ready many of these already I am going to go back and read them again at a minimum pace of a book a week. On a side note, if anyone is interested in joining me on this project I love talking about books and would be willing to set up a more specific schedule than as quickly as I can read them.
Read More
newsElton GahrComment
Has Science Fiction Become Redundant?
I'm not all that old, and yet I grew up in a completely different world. The Internet was something we began to hear about as I neared my teenage years and even then it was not anything common. Computers still had floppy disks and monochrome monitors. Now you can see the rumblings of the first real cyberwar, cars that drive themselves, corporations going into space and planets outside of our solar system, and NASA is making announcements about finding new types of life based on arsenic. All of this makes me ask the question, is science fiction redundant? Has the world become the world from the old science fiction? The examples of technology are everywhere and often mentioned but they are so common that we sometimes forget. We don't just have cell phones anymore we have computers in our pockets that let us talk to people and augmented reality won't be long. The Kinect from Microsoft is of course as close to science fiction as we have gotten so far and people are still working on improving it so that now it can actually recognize voices far better and see individual finger movements. My real question though is where does this leave science fiction? There is of course plenty of things we have not done. Star Trek and Star Wars are still well out of our reach, but that does not seem to be the type of science fiction that is popular either. Shows like Fringe and Eureka for example are extrapolating technology and while they can sometimes be absurd the science is often thing that might happen and sooner than we would assume when you eliminate the magical elements that show up. And that is my question, have we began to advance so quickly that the enjoyment of imagining the future has been lost. After all if you can't keep up with today's technology what is the point of imagining tomorrows, which is what a lot of science fiction does and as shows like Fringe and Eureka show often the easiest way to do that now is to ignore the science and just do what you want which is effectively fantasy with technology rather than wands. What science fiction does though is not just have weird adventures with laser guns or examine technology. This is setting and in that setting you can have any other genre and any story, but limiting it to that is a mistake as well because that setting lets you put humans into new situations and imagine how they might react and change and that will always be important, unless we are no longer human.
Read More
The Triumphant Return
I suspect no one noticed but I have Not posted here for over a year. It was never a lack of interest on my part but I simply found myself working at other sites.  The truth is though that ultimately what I really want to do is this. I want to write about the things that I love on a site that I control. And so I am going to do that. I'm not going to try to write to it every day though that may happen or it may not, but I am going to try to put something good up every time I do it. For now I'm simply going to say that I am still loving Chuck and Stargate Universe has gotten a lot better as has Fringe.
Read More
newsElton GahrComment
The Man-kzin Wars by Larry Niven

Ringworld is one of the most classic of science fiction classics, and yet often the fantastic setting(which is one of the best in science fiction history) overshadows the other ideas that are going on. One of the most overshadowed are the kzin, who take a back seat in the story of ringworld even though there is a kzinti with them.

In the anthology "The Man-Kzin Wars" the Kzin step forward, and while we still get to see fascinating places and visit worlds that are both brilliant in their scientific understanding and storytelling importance it is the kzin who become the most interesting aspect.

The Kzin are a race of cat people, and from that you might assume that they are like any number of cat races in science fiction. If they are it is because those races took the ideas of Larry Niven and used them. This is a race of carnivores who believe in strength above all else. They have spent centuries breeding their women into what amounts to little more than pets and whenever they aren't at war they are preparing for it.

With this understanding you might assume that the kzin are little more than moustache twirling villains but they are far more than that. This is a race that in many ways is more honorable than humans are. They won't, or can't lie, they will almost always fight fair, and if you prove you are truly stronger than them they will submit and become quite loyal. In many ways it is this honor that allows them to continue to fight wars where humans, who don't follow any of those rules can't afford to because they would annihilate themselves.

There are three stories in this anthology, the first by Larry Niven himself covers the first meeting between humans and kzin. The humans after three hundred years of peace are hardly able to understand what is happening when the Kzin attack, but once they realize it they fight back with an efficiency the kzin can hardly understand.

Next is a story by Poul Anderson. This is the bulk of the book, taking place after the first two kzin wars, the Kzin have discovered hyperspace and with that they will soon be on equal footing again to fight humanity.

The third story begins when the kzin attack. The only survivor is captured by the kzin and put on a zoo world where he discovers kzin women from before they were bred to be docile and stupid and we discover why they were so dangerous that the Kzin men chose this course of action.

Read More
newsElton GahrComment
A few previews from comic con
Tron Legacy looks good, but I think they lose something with the light cycles when they act like real bikes. The unreality of Tron was one of the things that made it so much fun. I don't care all that much about Halo but from what I've heard of this they are doing a few interesting things. Also, the first person talking at the beginning sounded like Nathan Fillion to me, does anyone know if i'm right. I hadn't seen anything about this before, but I like the idea of a TV series style for a video game. It makes quite a lot of sense in the level structure they tend to have.
Read More
The Saturn Awards
It's still a little sad to me that Science Fiction Films are so ignored by the other award ceremonies that they need their own but there is little doubt that it is true.  That is of course not a slam against the Saturn Awards which are always fun. The results this year aren't surprising. Dark Knight came out on top with 5 awards while Benjamin Button and Iron Man each got three. Hellboy won for Horror film, which isn't where I would categorize it but it was better than any horror film that came out so i'm not going to complain. Indiana Jones won for best costume which is fitting since the hat was more interesting than most of the actors in the movie. Lost won best TV series. Not sure if there were any other nominations, perhaps Battlestar Galactica had a chance if you missed the final episode or heroes if you missed the last two seasons. Leonard Nimoy won a lifetime achievement award which he certainly deserves. Even if you ignore Star Trek he's had a good career. -- Visit the Saturn Awards Homepage Best Science Fiction Film: Iron Man Best Fantasy Film: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Best Horror Film: Hellboy II: The Golden Army Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film: The Dark Knight Best Actor: Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man) Best Actress: Angelina Jolie (Changeling) Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) Best Performance by a Younger Actor: Jaden Christopher Smith (The Day the Earth Stood Still) Best Director: Jon Favreau (Iron Man) Best Writer: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight) Best Music: Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard (The Dark Knight) Best Costume: Mary Zophres (Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) Best Make-Up: Greg Cannom (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) Best Special Effects: Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Timothy Webber, Paul J. Franklin (The Dark Knight) Best International Film: Let the Right One In Best Animated Film: Wall-E Best Television Series: Lost Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series: Battlestar Galactica Best Presentation on Television: The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice Best Actor on Television: Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica) Best Actress on Television: Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica) Best Supporting Actor on Television: Adrian Pasdar (Heroes) Best Supporting Actress on Televison: Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) Guest Starring Role on Television: Jimmy Smits (Dexter) Best DVD Release: Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer Best DVD Special Edition Release: Stephen King’s The Mist (2 disc Special Edition) Best DVD Classic Film Release: Psycho (Universal Legacy Series) Best DVD Collection: The Godfather-The Coppola Restoration Best Series on DVD: Moonlight Best Retro Series on DVD: The Invaders The Life Career Award: Lance Henriksen The Lifetime Achievement Award: Leonard Nimoy The Visionary Award: Jeffrey Katzenberg
Read More
When Science Fiction is an excuse for explosions
There are a group of science fiction movies that feel to me as if their primary reason for being science fiction isn't because of any interest in the genre of science fiction but because it gives them interesting new ways to blow things up. There is nothing wrong with this. I enjoy a good action movie on occasion but putting it into the same genre as movies that rely on the science is a bit problematic. The best way to tell if it is this type of movie to me is if you could remove the science fiction element and replace it with something else and have very little effect on the movie. I watched "Eagle Eye" last night and I haven't completely decided if it is one of those movies or not. It's certainly more action movie than science fiction movie but the science fiction element is driving forward the story to some extent, but you could have largely replaced the science fiction element with the director of defence and besides some of the action being less plausible it wouldn't have changed anything. Part of this comes from them wanting a big reveal on their villain. This may even work for people who have watched and read less science fiction than me but I saw it coming from about 5 minutes into the movie. The problem is that this means that the first half of the movie has almost no science fiction element, just odd things that happen. In the end it's Science fiction and a reasonably good movie but I also don't think that it's made by people who care about science fiction or people who want an excuse to blow things up but as an action movie it was just fine.
Read More
Star Wars and the Public Domain
Having stayed up until 4 last night playing Star Wars: The Force Unleashed my question returns to one I have often had in the past. Why is it that Star Wars so often does better in other formats than it movies. The original movies are great and I don't even hat the new ones but still, having played Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2 and read numerous books I have to say that I like the stories better there. Part of that has to do with the iconic stature that the movies have archived. People know these universes and so there are many good authors who can write in it. Second is that in the movies you have to try to reach a broader audience. A video game is a success with far fewer customers than a movie and a book even less so because of this you can add in the more difficult to understand points. In the force unleashed you begin as a Sith hunting down Jedi, it's fun but it would upset people if you had a movie like that. Third is of course George Lucas. The man is a fantastic writer, but he should stick to that and industrial light and magic. Let other people deal with the individual Star Wars. The other thing that it makes me think about is our current system of public domain, or more accurately the lack of it. I'm not saying that Star Wars should be part of the public domain, yet, but I am saying that movies the movies should be public domain at some point. The argument of course is that he developed it so why wouldn't he make the money? That is fine but I think we should be encoring our creative people to have more than one good idea in a lifetime.
Read More
Bladerunner Webseries
The good news is that Rigly Scott is going to be releasing new bladerunner content on the web under creative commons. The bad news is that he dosn't own the rights to "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" so he can't do everything he wants. I'm of course excited to know that their is new Bladerunner content comming. But the creative commons is what is really interesting. Hollywood has been slowyl accepting the fact that the internet exists over the last five years and have even began moving past the attempt to redefine copying as stealing in putting out a few webisodes and even the odd alternate reality game. This is a step beyond that. THe hope of the producers of this content is to eventually have a TV series. So in some ways this is a pilot, but bladerunner isn't an unknown quantity and though Harrison Ford won't be in it so far as I know and they can't have anything that is copywrited from the movie but it's still another step forward. So next year how about you try this. Take the pilots that are made, put them on the web and see if any of them are really popular. Then the ones that people want to watch get turned into TV series. You won't even have to set up a sight to do it, Hulu will almost certainly host it for you. With every success on the internet the markets grow a little closer together and hopefully we will soon discover that the differences between internet video and TV have disappeared and we will no longer be tied to the whims and schedules of Hollywood executives. News from
Read More
A new Buffy The Vampire Slayer Movie
News of a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie has gotten fans of the show excited, but as more new arrives it becomes a odd experience. This new Buffy will have no Joss Whedon and most of the characters you remember from the TV series would not appear. That may not be a bad thing as this article from Io9 discusses, but that dosn't mean that it's not still an odd idea? It seems difficult to imagine that the Joss Whedon wouldn't be willing to at least be willing to give ideas for a movie that is going to use his creation. So here is the question that struck me. A Hollywood Studio bought the rights to Buffy, made a movie in 99, then a 7 year TV show was made and now they want to use those rights to make another movie and that is just fine, yet if I buy the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie on DVD and rip it so that I can watch it on my computer that is just fine. Perhaps it's just me but I think that they should have to pay separately for each media they want to use the character in. It also makes me ask why not do a Buffy movie or mini-series with the TV show cast. From what I know(with admittedly no research) is that most of the characters would be free. Alyson Hannigan  is doing "How I met your Mother," but a movie should be able to write around one or two characters schedules. Not that I feel any great need for the show to reappear just that it feels like that would have a better chance to make money. On a similar subject, there are rumors flying about that the renewal of Dollhouse may have been in part because of Firefly's DVD sales. The rumors say that Fox knows they canceled the show too early and don't want to make the same mistake twice. This has led to sepeculation that there could be a possibility of a made for TV movie or even a miniseries of more Firefly. the discussion for that is here.
Read More
The Hunt for Gollum
There is an old saying that goes everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it. We have the same issue with Hollywood. We talk about their unwillingness to make new movies, to take risks, complain about remakes and sequels, yet they continue to make money. But in the last years something has changed. Movie making has finally reached a point where you don't have to spend 100 million dollars to make something interesting. The Hunt for Gollum cost 5000 dollars to make and while it is a fan film which means it can't make a profit it certainly demonstrates that we are at the point where people can make movies that are more than good enough to challenge Hollywood so long as they have the talent and I hope the makers of this make a film based on their own ideas soon so that they aren't limited by agreements to make no money.
Read More
Avatar: The Last Airbender movie by M. Night Shyamalan
I've watched the first three seasons of Avatar and currently am waiting for Netflix to send me the forth. This is a really fun cartoon. That said I'm not certain what to think about the Live action movie. There is no longer any question that it will happen, it is scheduled for release July 2, 2010. But the most interesting part for me is that it is being directed by M. Night Shymalan. With M. Night being so hit and miss with his movies this is going to be a very interesting test for him and perhaps one of his last chances to truly impress a lot of people who are giving up on him before he begins to slide into obscurity. The issue isn't that he's a bad director. He's done good movies and even the movies he have done that were bad weren't terribly directed. The problem is two fold. One, people didn't like the twists/story and two he has an extremely distinctive style that can sometimes overwhelm things. We can assume that the story won't be an issue with Airbender. The story has already been written and though I don't know the end I suspect that he will be unable to make a major twist at the end. that leaves the style issue. Can M. Night create a movie without interjecting so much of his style in that it distracts or will his style fit perfectly with Avatar and he can make this movie both really good and about something completely different than what you think it's about at the beginning. what i do know is that I like M. Night Shyamalan and I like The Last Airbender so I'm pulling for everything to fit together and be fun to watch. Pictures from Sci-fi Wire The first season of the cartoon is also available for instant watch on Netflix
Read More
The Tax Collector

Morg looked down at the small bald man and downed the rest of his ale in a single gulp and began to look for the barmaid more for the chance to talk to the young woman than for any need of ale though with the money in his pocket both seemed a good idea.

"Excuse me sir, are you Morg of Torln?" the small man said. He had a small pad of paper and a piece of chalk in his hand.

"Yes," the barbarian said, refusing to look at this small man until he came to his point. Approaching a man in the bar without even the offer of ale rude enough to make Morg attack on a bad day, but this was a good day.

"And you recently had a large windfall at…" the small man looked at his notepad, "The tomb of saint Berev?"

"Yes," he said. This man had his facts right, but that wasn't surprising this was a small town and amount of gold that the four adventures had been spending had drawn many questions.

"Sir, are you aware that according to new windfall taxes law enacted by Emperor Yeron the forth that you are responsible to report all windfall profits and pay no less than ten percent in taxes to the Empire?" the small man said.

Morg wasn't certain what the small man was talking about but he suspect this was some law that would make him unhappy. "I don't know," he answered.

"Then you are also not aware that the sacking of any religious site or tomb results in a ten percent increase in that windfall tax, or that those increases are cumulative?" the small man said.

Morg reached for his axe as the little man talked, but he thought better of it as he saw the four fully armored guards standing behind the small man all reach for their swords at the same time. He might be able to kill them but there were at least a dozen more guards in town and he couldn't kill everyone.

"I owe money? Morg asked.

"Cut to the chase I like it. According to our records you owe us 684 gold pieces including fines and licenses," the little man said.

Morg didn't understand, he only had 1000 gold pieces from the entire mission and by the time that he figured out the 300 gold in supplies that he had spent on supplies for the trip that left him a profit of only 16 gold coins.

Still what choice did he have? And so he handed the bags of coins to the man, counting out the last handful to make certain he didn't give any extra. And as the man turned and walked out of the bar the young barmaid approached him and said, "Would you like to buy everyone another round?"

"I don't think I can afford it," Morg said, wondering as he did if it might be time to consider a new line of work.

Read More
Bye Bye Beeman
I still enjoy Heroes most every week. This isn't to say that It doesn't have its flaws only that at some point I stopped trying to force it to be the show I wanted it to be and began watching the show that was on the air. The season finally fit that mold perfectly. It wasn't what I had expected and in some ways I wish it had been, but it was a very interesting show and I'm looking forward to more heroes in the future. But when i flipped over to Beaming Beeman I discovered something a little sad. Greg Beeman will not be returning to Heroes for season 4. According to the blog this is a purely financial decision. He knows more about the politics of network TV than I do but I suspect that is only mostly true. Either way Beeman has been a major part of Heroes. As a producer director he effected every show and he directed many of the major episodes. But this is where I back off a little from my sadness. Don't get me wrong he has driected some good episodes, but looking over the list not as many as you might think. Four Months ago was good, but I didn't care much for Duel. So perhaps this is the push Heroes needs to change trajectory a bit. As someone who has enjoyed most of it i can say that there are things that need to be done to improve the show, and I trust they can be.  In my opinion the most important thing they need to do is to stop worrying so much about raiting and worry about putting on a good show. Now you may think that these two are related but the truth is that many of the things that people complain about are ratings over story issues. I think the biggest of those is Hiro. I liked Hiro in the first season, and even in the second season he had something to do, but in this season he has been pointless. He isn't good enough at anything to be useful without his powers and he hasn't had his power most of the time, so as much as i hate to say it they need to find a way to make him interesting or take the hit and write him off the show. On the other hand is Sylar. Sylar has been involved with the plot closely but they still make short term choices with him and then get burned by it. Beeman will be missed on the show I am certain, but all in all if his paycheck being gone would allow us to afford to see the fight between Sylar, Nathan and Peter rather than closing the door then perhaps they made the right decision.
Read More