Friday, June 30, 2006

New Harryhausen Projects

If you're a Ray Harryhausen fan like me, this article was exciting news. Some of my earliest movie memories are of watching his films -- and they still hold up, great fun. I was sad that he was right there at the L.A. Times Festival of Books this year, and because I was actually working I didn't get to go hear him speak. It's interesting to read the long list of "unrealized ideas" in Harryhausen's book An Animated Life: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Atlantis, Beowulf, Conan, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Hobbit (!), The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Princess Bride, even a proposed remake of King Kong back in 1970, and many others.

Octavia Butler - Kindred

Oh. My. God. Not a lot of books have me up until 3 in the morning because I can't put the book down. Vinge's Deepness in the Sky was one. A long time ago there was a story by Michael Ende (author of Neverending Story). And now it's Kindred. What a story. I'm really looking forward to talking about it come Sunday.

Golden Compass - the Movie

I'm really hoping the movie is done well. And I think it's interesting that the article there about the movie doesn't mention what the movie is really about. I suspect that there are a lot of folks who are hoping that this subject isn't talked about too much, to avoid all that public outcry that is bound to happen once certain parties get wind of it.

Vote! Top 10 Faves

Okay, everyone, here's your chance to vote. List your top 10 all-time favorite scifi films, 1 to 10 (#1 being your favorite). I'll include a list below, but feel free to add your "write-in" votes too. Then I'll tally up everyone's votes -- giving each #1 vote ten points, #2 nine points, etc., and then put together a video of our collective top-10 with movie clips. How does one get the movie clips? Don't ask, don't tell. (Though it wasn't that hard to figure out...) Then I can give everyone a copy of the DVD. Okay, so I probably have too much time on my hands, or need more to do when I'm wide awake at 2 AM. Humor me...

Oh, and hope to see you this Sunday at the library! Sherril & Piers, c'mon down!

Here's some choices (alphabetical):

2001: A Space Odyssey
Blade Runner
A Boy and His Dog
A Clockwork Orange
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Fantastic Planet
The Fly
Forbidden Planet
Logan's Run
Quest for Fire
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
The Terminator
The Terminaror 2: Judgement Day
Time After Time

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Golden Compass Movie a Go

Let's hope New Line can work the same kind of magic they did with LOTR. Check out the article.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Watchmen, or Here We Go Again...

Remember reading our one graphic novel pick, Watchmen? Seems like a couple of years ago (though, for some reason, didn't find it on our list of previous selections). Since then the potential movie project has been through three studios. Can anyone say "turnaround-hell"? It's now in bed with the fourth, Warner Bros., with Zach Snyder (of 2004's Dawn of the Dead remake fame) in the director's chair. Maybe this time it'll actually make it to celluloid. We can hope anyway -- the story is a natural for a very cool movie. That's if it doesn't end up being a watered-down for-the-masses movie-by-committee.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Dangerous Vision

Just finished reading "Consilience - The Unity of Knowledge" by Edward O. Wilson. I think I'll be writing a more in-depth review. It's a book with an important idea: that all knowledge fits together, even the humanities with the physical sciences. Wilson bases his idea on two important and upsetting notions. The one is that human beings have a certain human nature in common, and so all people, and all cultures, can be compared with each other from that perspective. This bit will upset most liberals who have set their minds on some version or other of multiculturalism or cultural relativism. The other is that when it comes to ethics there are no external laws, only laws that people agree to because of the human nature that they hold in common. This bit will upset trancendentalists who believe that laws of ethics come from an external source, e.g. God.

Anyway, Wilson makes a compelling case for the unity of all knowledge. He explains what roadblocks are stopping it (politics and history are two) and what promises lie at the end of the road (no panacea). I enjoyed the book, even though it took me a while to read due to a number of interruptions.

I also finished Spin State by Chris Moriarty. I'll definitely want to read more by this guy. He managed to describe a future that was at once the sort that I imagined, complex, with lots of cool stuff going on, and not necessarily all of it nice, and none of that supernatural crap that a lot of earlier cyberpunk authors saddled themselves with. Hopefully Moriarty continues further in the same vein.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What are you reading?

Okay, so what is everyone reading besides Kindred this month?

I just finished a couple of really impressive books worth mentioning. I finally snagged a copy of Octavia Butler's last book, Fledgling, from the library. It was a fun read, and not quite like any vampire novel I've ever read before, laced with racial & social tension, and with just the right balance of action and thoughtful dialogue. I ended up wanting more of these characters, and so the ending was all the more poignant, seeing how Butler could have easily extended this story into a sequel -- and knowing that that would never happen.

And last night I finished Frank Robinson's The Dark Beyond the Stars, a great book. Anybody else read this one? A generation ship story, he perfectly captured the sadness, overwhelming sense of Space, and claustrophobia of a group of Earthlings sent off into the last frontier to find alien life. Well-developed characters, and some surprising twists along the way -- hated to see this one end too. But the ending packs a punch, coming full circle and making for one of the most satisfying reads I've had in quite a while. Could make for some interesting discussion if we all decided to check this one out for the group...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Locus Awards

Awards, awards and more awards. The Locus Awards are interesting because it's the readers that actually vote (and I'll bet they can't vote multiple times like on American Idol!). Anyway, they were announced yesterday, and there were some interesting choices. Best Science Fiction Novel went to Charles Stross for Accelerando. First I think I've even heard of this author or of this title. Probably because it's hard scifi, which doesn't seem to be quite my thing. Anybody read this one? Best Fantasy Novel was Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. This of course got the starred review from Pub Weekly, and lots of other acclaim. Haven't read this one yet, but sounds very entertaining. Best Non-Fiction went to Kate Wilhelm for Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers' Workshop, one I've read and enjoyed. Her recounting of the early years of Clarion was interesting, and her advice to writers was spot on. A book I'm sure I'll refer back to. Well worth the time to check this one out (if you can find it -- I had to special order it in, being from a small press).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Brandon Sanderson at discussion

Brandon got back to me, and said he's going to try and stop by for our August discussion since we're reading his book. Will be great fun to be able to chat with another author about their work -- don't think we've done that since the time we sat down with Greg Bear...? Oh, and this is the cover art of the Spanish edition of the book -- I think I like this one even more than the U.S. edition.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Tim Hildebrandt Dies

Was sad to read that Tim Hildebrandt passed away yesterday. Having grown up with the artwork of the Brothers Hildebrandt (I still have those Tolkien calendars from the 70's tucked away somewhere), their images became my "illustrated version" of LOTR, not to mention their fantastic super hero paintings.

I still remember walking into a mall bookstore in 1977 and seeing the big poster for the Sword of Shannara when it first came out -- and immediately recognizing the artwork. That's why I bought the book. And remember their novel Urshurak? Maybe not, but I still have that one sitting on a shelf somewhere too. Don't even know if it's still in print, but I kind of doubt it. I chatted with Terry Brooks about that book last year, and he told me Urshurak was the reason the Brothers didn't do the cover art for any of the other Shannara books -- a sort of falling-out with the publisher.

The Brothers Hildebrandt had a way of capturing the dreamlike, other-worldliness of fantasy lit - brighter and more colorful than real life, sometimes more epic than it had a right to be. Tim's work, along with his twin brother Greg, will be remembered fondly.

Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards

These award nominees look interesting, especially the Margaret Atwood (not that she writes scifi or fantasy or anything like that!) and the Bujold. The Hallowed Hunt got all the starred reviews, etc. Of course, it is the third book in the Chalion trilogy. Anyway, might be worth considering Bujold's books for a future selection...

Olof does LOTR

Okay, okay, I know it's practically sacrilege to mess around with these movies (well, maybe just for those wacky fans like me, who spent one whole Saturday watching all 3 extended editions back-to-back...) but what can I say, this made me LOL!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Have you seen the new trailers for these two? Wow. Saw them today before X-Men 3 (which, btw, we loved -- and if you haven't seen it yet, or heard, be sure you stay through the credits). Usually these days I roll my eyes and sigh through most of the umpteen trailers for lousy movies you have to sit through before the feature starts, so these were a nice surprise.

The Superman Returns trailer is especially good. And the buzz coming out of Hollyweird this past week on it has been really good. One critic wrote: "It's a hell of an upgrade (it refines and deepens in the tradition of Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins), an extremely reverent nostalgia piece, an above-average chick flick, an extremely sumptous and harmonious piece of work (Singer is a masterful technican and film "composer") and, frequently enough, a solid action thriller."

Let's hope he's right!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

SciFi Movie Quotes

A little trivia for you... How many of the scifi movies can you identify from the quote? Click on the quote for the answer. Let us know how many you got right! You get more than half of these right, and you're a real aficionado!

1. “You are my superior officer. You are also my friend. I have been and always shall be yours.”

2. “I'm the key figure in an ongoing government charade, the plot to conceal the truth about the existence of extraterrestrials. It's a global conspiracy, actually, with key players in the highest levels of power, that reaches down into the lives of every man, woman, and child on this planet, so, of course, no one believes me.”

3. “Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herder.”

4. “Get away from her, you bitch!”

5. “The Martians had no resistance to the bacteria in our atmosphere to which we have long since become immune. Once they had breathed our air, germs, which no longer affect us, began to kill them. The end came swiftly.”

6. “To a new world of gods and monsters!”

7. “They're here already! You're next! You're next, you're next...!

8. “I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.”

9. “Why don't you make arrangements to take our hovercraft to Medieval World... Contact us today, or see your travel agent. Boy, have we got a vacation for you.”

10. “I'm The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.”

11. “We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.”

12. “You think I don't know the law? Wasn't it me who wrote it? And I say that this man has broken the law. Right or wrong, we had a deal. And the law says: bust a deal and face the wheel!”

13. “I haven't seen my analyst in 200 years. He was a strict Freudian. If I'd been going all this time, I'd probably almost be cured by now.”

14. “The only good human... is a DEAD human!”

15. “How do you explain school to a higher intelligence?”

16. “The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope. Because if a machine... can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.”

17. “First stage removal. First stage removal. Streets prohibited to non-permits in one hour. Streets prohibited to non-permits in one hour.”

18. “The penis is evil. The penis shoots seeds, and makes new life, and poisons the earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the gun shoots death, and purifies the earth of the filth of brutals. Go forth and kill!”

19. “A cautious young fellow named Lodge / Had seatbelts installed in his Dodge. / When his date was strapped in / He committed a sin / Without even leaving the garage.”

20. “Archaeologists are underpaid publicity agents for deceased royalty.”

Thursday, June 08, 2006

At the Crossroads of the Worlds

Sunday, June 04, 2006

July & August '06 selections

July = Kindred

August = Elantris

Seems like we talked about doing Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials for August too, but we weren't sure, so we went with Elantris. If we did plan on that trilogy for August, well, we'll just do both (since it sounds like most of us have read that too) -- and have twice as much to talk about! I'll invite Brandon to the discussion in August, don't know if he'll be able to come since it's on a Sunday, but you never know, would be very cool to chat with the author...