Friday, May 27, 2005


Space Odyssey

Allison and I just finished the DVD of Voyage to the Planets and Beyond, which was originally broadcast on the BBC under the much preferable title Space Odyssey, and we thought it was absolutely superb. It would have been nice to see one or two fewer catastrophes befall the crew, but all in all it was a splendid little bit of speculation. Of course, I took umbrage when the narration made it clear that the story was "based in science fact, not science fiction," when the story was the hardest hard SF story I've come across in a while, but when for the vast majority of the populace the formula "Science Fiction = Star Wars" holds sway, I suppose this is to be expected.

I'm amused to see on IMDB that the working title of the series was "Walking with Spacemen." We've watched a huge pile of these faux-documentaries in recent months, and by and large enjoyed them all, with "Walking with Cavemen" and "Alien Planet" being particular standouts. Of course, they're all science fiction, when you get right down to it, but don't tell the audience. Wouldn't want them getting upset.


Locus interview excerpts

Locus Online has posted excerpts from the interview with me in the May 2005 issue



On the Mundane

Over on his blog Ian MacDonald does a bit of point-by-poin take down of the Mundane SF Manifesto, which I'd not come across before now. I find that I agree with Ian on most points here, as I agree in principle with virtually all the arguments of the manifesto (with the notable exception of "No alternative universes or parallel worlds" and "No time travel or teleportation"... that's just crazy talk), but like Ian I'm not sure that such a manifesto is necessary. The fact that so much good SF has been done over the years that falls neatly within the guidelines suggests that there's already a strong tendency in this direction, anyway. But, obviously, I like a bit of multiverse in the mix, so what do I know?

I'm currently working on a wide-ranging space opera that, coincidentally, ticks off nearly all of the requirements of the Mundane SF manifesto. Hmmm.

UPDATE: Now Charlie Stross weighs in by explaining, in essence, why he won't be weighing in, making good points along the way. Personally, I find myself deeply distrustful of movements and manifestos, largely because I find it much easier to classify works that it is to classify writers. Rudy Rucker may have written cyberpunk stories and novels at the height of that particular scene, but does that make his novel The Hollow Earth, a wonky bit of adventure featuring an alternate reality Edgar Alan Poe, a cyberpunk novel? Not hardly. It's useful and instructive to compare, contrast, and categorize individual works, arguably, but it's needlessly limiting to do the same with the authors themselves. And anyone who only writes within the narrow confines of a particular movement's ethos, I think, is unnessarily circumscribing their possibilities. It's not just what the field is capable of being that is damaged by manifestos and the like, as Charlie seems to suggest, but the writers themselves.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Sky High

I'm geek enough to think that this might be worth checking out. Besides, any superhero school whose instructors include Linda Carter, Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, and Bruce Campbell can't be all bad. The screenwriters include Mark McCorkle and Robert Schooley, whose filmographies includes Kim Possible, which is certainly an encouraging sign. I suppose it's too much to hope for some Dexter Riley references, though, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


New Review

The Pyr publicity machine keeps right on rolling, with a new review of Here, There & Everywhere on The Eternal Night.



Future of TV: Piracy will save production

A recent post on Boing Boing points to transcripts of Mark Pesce's speech, "Piracy is Good?" on Mindjack. I wasn't previously familiar with Pesce, but he's got loads of fascinating things to say here. His notion of "hyperdistribution," a new model exemplified by swarming P2P apps like BitTorrent, touches on a lot of my thoughts about where television might be heading.

If you ignore the coming era of hyperdistribution, we can write you off right now. You're in the same boat as a producer of radio plays in the 1950s; the most successful of those individuals established careers in television, but others ended up bitter and unemployed. We have to deal with the world as it is, not as we'd like it to be. The clock can't be turned back on BitTorrent. In the new, "flat world," where any program produced anywhere in the world is immediately available everywhere in the world, the only sustainable edge comes from entrepreneurship and innovation. Yet broadcast television has become a self-contained world, inside a comfy plastic bubble, breathing its own air, which - after half a century - has gone noticeably stale. It's ready to be shaken up.

The future belongs to the fast, cheap and out-of-control. Cheap productions will more easily find the advertising partners they need for hyperdistribution; costly productions will find themselves competing against so many cheap productions that they'll find it progressively harder to justify their costs in the face of ever-smaller ratings. The audiences of the future will only very rarely number in the millions. The "microaudiences" of hyperdistribution will range from hundreds to hundreds of thousands, but in that "long tail" of television productions there is a vast appetite for an incredible variety of programs. This is no longer an era of mass media and mass audiences: the dinosaurs of media are about to give way to the mammals.

I'll admit I'm a bit skeptical about some of the more utopian aspects of this model, especially as it is sometimes too reminiscent of a lot of the millennial predictions about the future of PoD that were in the air a few years ago, but I'm nonetheless optimistic. I definitely agree that producers and broadcasters ignore the positive benefits of P2P file sharing to their detriment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Sidewise Awards

Plokta News Network has just announced the nominees for this year's Sidewise Award for Alternate History. They are:

Short Form
"The Ashbazu Effect," by John McDaid
"Five Guys Named Moe," by Sean Klein
"The Gladiator's War: A Dialogue," by Lois Tilton
"The Heloise Archive," by L. Timmel Duchamp
Ministry of Space, by Warren Ellis
"Red Hands, Black Hands," by Chris Roberson

Long Form
The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth

I thought Ministry of Space was splendid, and I'm glad to see comics work getting recognition from awards traditionally given only to prose work. I'm also not too humble to say that I'm pleased to see "Red Hands, Black Hands" on the list.

Interesting that there's only one nominee on the long form list. The press release on Plotka points out "This doesn’t indicate the nominee will win, as the judges may elect to present no award in the category." Well, that's a fifty-fifty chance, right? With one nominee up against "No Award," it'll either win or it won't. But then, isn't that the way it is with every nominee, no matter now many there are? One, five, or a hundred, every nominee either wins or it doesn't.


Singularity! - A Tough Guide to the Rapture of the Nerds

Charles Stross, one of the smartest cats on the planet, has put together a handy guidebook to singularity SF (and lots of other stuff besides) entitled Singularity! - A Tough Guide to the Rapture of the Nerds. Well worth checking out. Very tongue in cheek, very self-depricating, very funny. As I'm just at the bit in Paragaea where our heroes encounter a forest of talking trees (which none of the characters have the appropriate cultural context to recognize as Moravec-type bush robots) I thought this was particularly apt.



Locus Online reports that "Charles Stross will make forthcoming novel Accelerando available as an ebook under a Creative Commons license, via, in June." Hmmm. Interesting.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Alan Moore pulls LOEG from DC

Well, it was bound to happen eventually, and now it has. The other shoe has dropped, and Alan is taking his toys and going home. The full story is at Rich Johnston's Lying in the Gutters, but in short, Joel Silver has been name-checking Alan in press conferences, using his "approval" and "support" as selling points for the new "V for Vendetta" film, when Alan had offered no such thing (and had, in fact, done just the opposite). Alan Moore may well be the most principled creator working today in any medium, at least the most principled I've ever heard of. He doesn't approve of Hollywood, and so refuses to take any money for work of his adapted into film, asking instead that his percentage of royalties be divided amongst the artists who worked on a project. He's even asked that his name be removed from the credits, to remove any hint of association. Apparently, Joel Silver didn't get the memo, and in a fit of hyperbolic bluster, said something that he shouldn't have. When DC was unable to provide the retraction Alan had demanded, Alan announced that he was breaking ties with the publisher and taking his creator-owned series "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" with him.

Well, good for Alan. I'm heartened to see that LOEG already has a home, and will be published through a US/UK collaboration between Top Shelf and Knockabout. I'll be sorry not to see more ABC stories, but reading between the lines of Johnston's article it looks like there'll be a finale for Tom Strong in the offing, as well as the "LOEG: Black Dossier" already announced.

Alan's comments about the "V for Vendetta" movie, though, make me shudder with horror. Not surprising, but still and all. I mean, "FedCo"? Really?

Friday, May 20, 2005


Scalzi on Writing in the Age of Piracy

I've been following with interest John Scalzi's recent posts concerning fears among segments of the genre writing community concerning digital "piracy" of their work, all of which I've found extremely cogent and enlightening. The old Clockwork Storybook site followed a model very similar to the "Penny Arcade" loss-leader model that Scalzi outlines in this recent post, and it was one that I blagged about at length and great volume for years. Unfortunately for CWSB, we never quite reached the tipping point, and the size of our audience never grew large enough that sales of merchandise, novels, and collections were a sufficient return on investment. I think it can be a successful model, but I think the success to failure rate is probably just as dire, if not more so, than any other more traditional publishing model. I've been toying with the idea of dipping my toes in those waters again, and may end up doing so before too much longer. I've been intrigued by things like Scalzi's serializing Old Man's War on his blog, or Cory Doctorow releasing his novels under Creative Commons license in digital formats, and I think that the coming years will hold some interesting and potentially exciting development for writers.

Probably the most cogent statement in Scalzi's most recent post on the topic is this, which I found particularly insightful:

"Listen to me now: Writers are not in the publishing industry. The publishing industry exists to handle the output of writers and distribute it in an effective and hopefully profitable way; however it does not necessarily follow that writer's only option is the publishing industry, especially not now. Congruent to this: Books aren't the only option. I write books, but you know what? I'm not a book writer, any more than a musician is an LP musician or an MP3 musician. The book is the container. It's not destiny. "

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


The Last Supper of the Jedi

Found on Boing Boing, a bit of genius. I couldn't help but be reminded of Tim Doyle's "Mister T's The Last Sucka'", which I should have bought at Pink Salon when I had the chance!


New Interview

A new interview with me has been posted to the Sci Fi Channel's Sci Fi Wire.


Monday, May 16, 2005


But aren't they all imaginary?

DC'S Greatest Imaginary Stories represents everything I love about sixties-era DC Comics. "Superman-Red, Superman-Blue" was a huge formative influence on me.


The Science of Consistency

A splendid essay by Todd Seavey (found thanks to David Moles's blog) on the subject of continuity in fictional universes entitled "The Science of Consistency", something I've been thinking about quite a bit lately. Though, honestly, I think I've worked out a reasonable explanation why Elmo doesn't encounter his younger self during the time-travelling Sesame Street anniversay special (involving, among other factoids, the act that both "Gordon" and his character's son "Miles," whose birth Elmo had travelled back to witness, have both been portrayed by three actors over the course of the show's thirty-six year run; that Big Bird is still six years old after all this time; and that Elmo is specifically told by Grover that he will be going back in time to see what Sesame Street was like "before [he was] born," despite the fact that the character's first appearance antedates Miles's birth).

I am a huge geek. But I'm proud.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Father's Day

My friend Paul Cornell's episode of the new Doctor Who, "Father's Day," just aired last night on the BBC. I've seen it, and I think it was just splendid. Some terrifically emotive moments, plus a thoughtful and clever plot spinning out of a bit of temporal paradox, which isn't something that Who had traditionally addressed. A few minutes of Paul talking about the episode in RealVideo is here. I'm looking forward to checking out the accompanying episode of Doctor Who Confidential in another few hours, provided I get enough work done this afternoon to justify the time off.

This new Who series, for everyone in the States who hasn't been conniving enough to get to see it (search for "Doctor Who" and "torrent" if you want to give it a go), has been absolutely marvelous, and the best the character and the franchise has ever had it. If you'd told me, two years ago, that the best SF shows of this decade would look to be Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who, I'd have thought you were smoking crack, but that's where we seem to be.

In related SF television news, Allison and I watched the last two episodes of Enterprise last night. We'd watched the finale of Voyager, after all, even though we'd given the whole series a miss, just to see how they wrapped it up. Besides, I felt like we almost owed it to the franchise to see the final nails being driven into the coffin. I expected a two hour finale, but instead what we got was two one-hour finales, back to back. Two separate episodes, each one wrapping up the series in a different fashion. The first was written by the husband-and-wife writing team of Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (who wrote some really good franchise novels in the Star Trek universe a few years ago), and Manny Coto (whom I've not previously heard of, but who apparently came on as producer of Enterprise in the third season, and who is regarded by many fans as responsible for improving the show dramatically). This was a real surprise. The episode seemed to wrap up all the ongoing plot lines, showed us the birth of the Federation, had some actual science driving the plot, and some real, large scale threats with a ticking timeline--in short, everything good about Star Trek. Well acted, well written, just plain good.

Then we started the second hour, the final finale. Whoops.Picking up six years later (sort of), written by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga (producers on Voyager and Enterprise), and was one of the worst pieces of shit I've ever seen. Really. It's not even worth going into the details. A contrived framing device, some slipshod plotting, weak writing, no science in sight--in short, everything bad about Star Trek. And it served to completely undercut everything that was great about the previous hour, robbing the emotional climaxes of any weight by saying, in essence, that nothing that we'd just seen had any lasting impact, because six years later the characters were still trapped in the same status quo.

So the next to the last episode showed us the failed potential of Star Trek in general, and Enterprise in particular, and the last episode served to remind us just why it was failed--the producers. If Paramount should decide to relaunch the franchise somewhere down the line, please, for the love of god, find someone else to produce the thing. Rick Berman and Brannon Braga seem to have given all they have to give to the franchise. Let's give someone else a shot next time out, shall we?

Thursday, May 12, 2005


The Bat-man! in Robin's Big Date!

No explanation required. Just go watch it: The Bat-man! in Robin's Big Date!.


Um... what?

Patriot Art. Sweet baby jesus. Just... I'm sorry, I got nothing.



Considering the time I've spent the last few weeks looking at this, this and this, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about rockets lately.

Paragaea, which seems on track to be completed by the end of this month, opens with the launch of the ill-fated Vostok 7 in 1964, and Mark Wade's Astronautica site was an invaluable resource in checking my facts about the Soviet cosmonaut program of that era. Winchell Chung's excellent Atomic Rocket site I found quite by accident last week, searching for something else entirely. And I've David Pescovitz of Boing Boing to thank for the link to the children's space art site this morning. Folded into this string of space-related synchronicities are some hypothetical discussions I've been having about a space opera I might be doing sometime down the line.

I was obsessed with spacecraft as a kid. I was part of that generation that come along directly after the moonlanding, the first to come of age in a time when it could be taken as a given that man had conquered space, and would go on conquering more and more of it as time went on. I remembering watching the first shuttle being launched, and thinking, "Well, this is it. That thing looks like a passenger liner to me, so it's only a matter of time before we're all able to go up there. Right?" I was convinced that by the time I was grown up, we'd have manned missions to Mars, and space tourism would be an accepted fact of modern life. I was perhaps more than a little naive, but what the hell? I was just a kid.

Looking at all of this great material about spacecraft, I can't help but get nostalgic about a future that never happened. Perhaps, out in the exfoliating multiversal worlds of the Myriad, there's a 34-year-old Chris Roberson currently on layover at a space station at L7, on his way to the Mars colony. Who knows, maybe he's writing an alternate history about a world where the space program never went further than the moon, and man didn't even return to the lunar surface after the last of the Apollo missions. But what fun would that be?

I can't help but be reminded of Billy Bragg's "The Space Race is Over," from William Bloke. The lyrics (copyright © Billy Bragg, naturally, and found here) are:

When I was young I told my mum
I'm going to walk on the Moon someday
Armstrong and Aldrin spoke to me
From Houston and Cape Kennedy
And I watched the Eagle landing
On a night when the Moon was full
And as it tugged at the tides, I knew deep inside
I too could feel its pull

I lay in my bed and dreamed I walked
On the Sea of Tranquillity
I knew that someday soon we'd all sail to the moon
On the high tide of technology
But the dreams have all been taken
And the window seats taken too
And 2001 has almost come and gone
What am I supposed to do?

Now that the space race is over
It's been and it's gone and I'll never get to the moon
Because the space race is over
And I can't help but feel we've all grown up too soon

Now my dreams have all been shattered
And my wings are tattered too
And I can still fly but not half as high
As once I wanted to

Now that the space race is over
It's been and it's gone and I'll never get to the moon
Because the space race is over
And I can't help but feel we've all grown up too soon

My son and I stand beneath the great night sky
And gaze up in wonder
I tell him the tale of Apollo And he says
"Why did they ever go?"
It may look like some empty gesture
To go all that way just to come back
But don't offer me a place out in cyberspace
Cos where in the hell's that at?

Now that the space race is over
It's been and it's gone and I'll never get out of my room
Because the space race is over
And I can't help but feel we're all just going nowhere

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Lawrence Watt-Evans and the Street Performer Protocol

Found via Boing Boing, I thought this was absolutely fascinating. Fantasy writer Lawrence Watt-Evans will be producing the next novel in his Ethshar series entirely online, posting a chapter for every $100 in donations he receives from fans. He says that he's been unable to interest a major mainstream publisher in the book (and one assumes he is not in a position to work for the kind of advances offered by the small and medium presses), and so conceptualizes the donations as an advance. In the event that he's able to finish the novel, he'll then shop it around to small presses, to see if anyone is interested. And why not? He'd have already been paid for it.

A really interesting experiment. I'm not sure anything quite like it has been done before. Watt-Evans says, "This system is partly inspired by the Street Performer Protocol, and by the system known as the Storyteller's Bowl, but I've modified them to suit my purposes. Similar things have been attempted before, I'm not inventing anything new." King's "Riding the Bullet" followed a similar path in its early incarnation, but if I recall corretly only subscribers could read the chapters. What Watt-Evans is doing that is so interesting is making the work publicly available as a result of private donations. That seems like it would really serve to help drive up the potential audience, since a reader could start reading when 20 chapters had already been posted, and decide that they wanted to read more and then help fund chapter 21.

You'd need a significant audience to begin with, though. Given that he's talking about 35 or 40 chapters, this would mean a total of $4,000 in donations, so 400 readers would need to each donate $10 to see the project finished (or 40 donating $100 each, or 4,000 donating $1 a piece). If the potential readership willing to shell out money like this numbered in the low thousands (or at least high hundreds, and each of them willing to spend at least five or six bucks), this might be a successful business model.

I look forward eagerly to seeing how this plays out.

Monday, May 09, 2005


New Review

A new review, this one from the pages of the Rocky Mountain News.



Book People

Flipping through the latest Publisher's Weekly I was delighted to come across the article proclaiming Austin-based independent BookPeople as "Bookseller of the Year." It should come as no surprise, since they're a first rate outfit, and deserve the nod. I was, however, surprised to see my name in the article:

The booksellers get high marks from Chris Roberson, publisher of Monkeybrain Books, who noted, "They are a very thoughtful and persistent promoter of everything good, everything Texas and everything Austin. It's a great store."

I was interviewed for a piece in one of PW's daily BEA updates, and at the end was asked for my opinion on BookPeople, but assumed that the interviewer was doing a piece for one of the local papers, not collecting quotes for a PW piece. Very cool.

In related news, John Picacio and I will be doing a signing (and reading, perhaps?) at Book People on May 19th. More information, including times and directions, can be had here.

Friday, May 06, 2005


A little good news

I've been soaking in stress for the last two weeks (well, two months, really, but accelerating in the last fourteen days), and hopefully see a light at the end of the tunnel that isn't an approaching freight train, but in the meantime, I was delighted to read Cory Doctorow's post over on Boing Boing this morning about... well, I'll let the post title speak for itself: V-TV DAY: WE WON THE BROADCAST FLAG FIGHT!. This is terrific news, and we have Cory and the rest of the hard working folks at the EFF to thank for it. To celebrate, go donate some money to the EFF, and the ACLU while you're at it. You'll feel better about the future if you do.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005



Allison and I watched Primer last night, on the recommendations of Ted Chiang and Grayson Richardson (and were encouraged by the fact that Lucius Shepard spoke so highly of it), and we were absolutely floored. We were up half the night discussing the details, and picked up the conversation this morning for another round. Hands down the best time travel movie I've ever seen. Terrifically intricate and well thought out, Primer rewards careful viewing, with new aspects and angles of the plot suggesting themselves with repeated viewings. I've got my own theories about what point in the future Thomas Granger comes from, and what that suggests about Abe and Aaron's actions in timelines we don't get to witness. And my own conclusions about what the narrator's comments during the party--about how many times it took Aaron to get it "perfect"--suggest. But anyone that hasn't seen it should avoid all spoilers and see it immediately. This was one of those rare viewing experiences enjoyed for a longer time than it took to watch (the movie runs a total of 76 minutes, but I've easily spent four hours since just thinking about it). Highly recommended.


Two new reviews

Two new reviews, one on and one on Bella Online.



Matthew Hughes on Anti-intellectualism

Matthew Hughes, whose Archonate fiction I've only discovered this last week (but I've been reading as fast as I can!), has posted an interesting set of observations about the trend towards anti-intellectualism in North America (US and Canada both) over on the Night Shade message boards. His statements about why the post war years of the 40s and 50s saw a brief flourishing of the Scientist-As-Hero type, in particular, are the kind of thing that, once heard, are immediatley obvious, but which I don't know that I'd ever thought of in quite those terms before.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Star Trek is Dead

Okay, another dissenting opinion, of sorts.

Over on the LA Times website (via Locus) I read an editorial by Orson Scott Card entitled Strange New World: No 'Star Trek', in which the author lays into the long-running TV franchise, and points out all sorts of things wrong with it. All of which are true, more or less. And then he points out all sorts of great examples of SF in TV and movies now, all of which I agree with. But I'm not sure if I buy into his conclusion.

Essentially, Card says that Star Trek is bad television, and bad SF, and that in a world in which Firefly, Lost, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer make it on the air, we don't need bad television SF. (His argument handily lumps all the spinoff series in with the original series, thereby unnecessarily dismissing Deep Space Nine, which for the second through the next-to-last seasons was some of the best episodic television since, well, ever.)

But the example of Ron Moore's Battlestar Galactica makes clear that you can make a silk purse of an SF show out of a sow's ear piece of crap. Well, that metaphor got a little bit away from me, but the basic idea is that you are not limited by your inspirations. Dross can be made to diamonds in the right hands. And the fact that Lorne Green's Mormon Wagontrain to the Stars has served to inspire one of the finest TV series I've ever watched is all the proof I need. (That Moore was one of the creative lights behind the best years of DS9 goes almost without saying.)

I haven't watched Star Trek in years, having sampled only the first episodes of the new Enterprise before giving up in disgust. And I'm the first to say that the current incarnation (that is, the production regime that began with "Encounter at Farpoint" and continued through the last episode of the doomed Enterprise) should be allowed to die a peaceful death and be buried. But that doesn't mean that, in a few years, someone couldn't come along, dig up the bones, and take what worked about the franchise, jettison everything that didn't, and make a silk purse out of Star Trek. Or something like that.

As a thought experiment, consider: The Federation is a post-scarcity economy, with FTL technology and the ability to create AIs. This should be approached as a post-Singularity culture, in the best Vingean tradition. Zipping across the cosmos at superluminal speeds, explorers able to instantiate at innumerable locations on a given world simultaneously, multiple iterations of each individual spawned by the ship's ability to break down organisms into replicatable patterns and then rebuild them from available matter. Whole research teams made up of multiple copies of one scientist, a kind of hivemind working in concert. Human-machine hybrids, augmented humans, and artificial intelligences rubbing shoulders on the bridge. Colonists genetically engineered to survive in adverse planetary conditions, working out the finest details of long-term terraforming projects using holodeck simulations working at accelerated clockspeeds. Oh, and aliens. Of course. But truly-and-deeply-alien aliens, not just prosthetic-forehead aliens. (There is more cultural divergence between the US and an Islamic theocracy, or between the US and Japan, for that matter, than there ever was between Federation humans and Vulcans, or Klingons, or Ferengi.)

Star Trek is dead. And thank god for that. But the day may come when we'll need to dig up those bones and take another look.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Motherless Omega

Well, I'll be damned. Following close on the heels of Richard K. Morgan's skillful Black Widow miniseries for Marvel Comics comes the announcement in the pages of Time that Jonathan Letham will be doing an Omega the Unknown series for Marvel in 2006.

Holy. Crap.

What's next? China Mieville's Devil Dinosaur? (Come to think of it, that's not a bad idea at all...)

Sunday, May 01, 2005


The Time Traveler Convention

A fine idea, hatched by some student at MIT, to hold a Time Traveler Convention, in part out of the hope to lure future time travelers to the event. My only suggestion would be the need to beef up their reading list considerably, but who knows? Perhaps that's part of the lure, to get literate time travelers to journey back and let them know that any list of time travel books that doesn't include David Gerrold The Man Who Folded Himself and Fritz Lieber's "Changewar" stories (on the fiction side), and Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps and Michio Kaku's Hyperspace (on the nonfiction side) needs some serious revision.

The idea of a time travel convention that is both singular and never-ending is one that I've had in mind to write for a while now, and may get around to it, sooner or later. It's the type of idea that occurs to me on the plane ride home from an sf convention, that I then carry around in my head for months and years before finding the time to sit down and actually write them. "O One" was one of those, for what it's worth.


Another Review

A new review, this time by John C. Snider for Scifi Dimensions.



One more reason I'd like to live in England

As though getting Doctor Who in live broadcast isn't enough of an inticement, Paul Cornell sends another reason that I'd like to live in England, at least for a while. I'm quite certain that we in Texas have nothing like the Faringdon Arts Festival. I suppose SXSW comes closest, with its strange melange of music, movies, and technology, but there isn't much for the kids during the weeks of the festival, and even in the areas that SXSW serves I don't know that they reach as broad an audience as this Faringdon arts festival seems to do. I mean, come on. Sir George Martin, Brian Aldiss, and puppet shows? That's just cool.


A Dissenting Opinion

Via Locus online, I found Henry Fountain's article "Episode VII: Revenge of the Writers" on the New York Times website, in which writers such as Richard K. Morgan, Ursula K. Le Guin, Larry Niven, and Ray Bradbury respond to the basic question, "What is wrong with Star Wars?" Their answers, all well-considered and reasonable, are the same sorts of things science fiction folks have been saying for years. Star Wars(taking the franchise as a whole) preaches an overly simplistic, archaic morality; it sacrifices character development for special effects and gimcrackery; the "science" in this supposed science fiction is nonexistent; and, most damning, Ewoks suck.

All of which, I am quick to admit, are true. And it may just be the fact that I am a child of the seventies, and saw the first film in the series at precisely the right age (I was six, going on seven, when "Episode IV," as it was later called, debuted); or it may be that my tastes are rather simple and plebian, which is also quite likely true; but goddamnit, despite all its obvious flaws, I love Star Wars. Even a piece of dubious fluff like The Phantom Menace was redeemed for me in the final moments with some great jedi fu. Put some John Williams swelling strings under some quick cuts of guys with light sabers, or implausible dog fights in zero gee, and I'm sold. And in the hands of a more stylistic and (arguably) skilled storyteller like Genndy Tartakofsky (ie. the "Clone Wars" animated shorts), the material actually approaches the level of art.

I've got high hopes for the forthcoming live action series. And I think Tartakofsky might be doing some more animated work, which would be splendid. I don't know that I have high hopes for "Episode VI," but hell, I'll go see it anyway. It'll have all the narrative ills and philosphical and moral pitfalls of every other installment to date, but it'll also have a John Williams score, dog fights in zero-gee, and light saber fu. So I'm sure I'll find something to enjoy.

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