Monday, August 27, 2007

Cool Podcasts part 2

One of my very favorite podcasts, about comic books or any other subject, is Wordballoon. It's an audio cast: each episode featuring a long, satisfying interview with a single comic book creator. Host and interviewer John Siuntres has a great ability to create interesting conversation. He clearly knows his comics, has done his research on the people he's interviewing, and has an insightful, intelligent reader's perspective on the comic book field. He also manages to interview most of the top people (especially writers) in the field. I'd go as far as to say he's one of my favorite interviewers out there, period; in many ways even better than, say, Fresh Air's Terry Gross. Siuntres gets to the core of what comic book creators are up to and really gives us all a window into the profession and the art form. If you have any interest in mainstream American comics check this show out, either through iTunes, or the link above.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cool Podcasts part 1

There's lots of great podcasts covering comics out there. Comic book fandom really puts a lot of effort into their output. Pulp Secret is an impressive video podcast with new episodes several times a week. The Stack (above) and A Comic Book Orange (press play below) are two of Pulp Secret's rotating features. I subscribe to the podcast through iTunes--or you can click through directly to their websites.

John Scalzi (from Authors@Google)

John Scalzi (author of Old Man's War, Android's Dream, etc) proves, here, to be a very engaging, lively speaker--the best of the Authors at Google episodes that I've seen. Scalzi does a particularly good job laying out how he's used the web to advance his fiction writing career. A big part of that is his popular, long running blog Whatever.

I've only read his first novel,
Old Man's War--which got a lot of attention, for being a follow up to the famous (or infamous) Heilein novel Starship Troopers. Having read so much about it before I read the actual novel, I was expecting deep thought about war, aging, longevity, etc. In the end it was kind of over-hyped: I thought it was an entertaining, not too deep adventure, but promising for a first novel. (Some of the ideas about the necessity of war are presented very crudely and I didn't find his older character very believable as an older man in these situations.) In this video, Scalzi proves to be intelligent, likable and very able at promoting himself--which does make me want to try more of his novels. Sucked in by the hype once again!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Martians and Us excerpt (J. G. Ballard)

Here's a very nice few minutes of a documentary taking science fiction very seriously--this segment providing an impressive presentation of the J. G. Ballard. Below is the only other excerpt of the film which I could find--this one about a particular 70's Christopher Priest novel. It's so exciting to me to find anything good, taking SF seriously as literature, as art...for the moment posting these findings has taken over this blog more than I'd planned. So in part this is becoming a road map of my science fiction quest through YouTube.

There is a 30 minute documentary about Ballard available on YouTube, which is well worth watching, which you can see by clicking here. And here is another documentary, Shanghai Jim, which follows Ballard on his first return to Shanghai after his war-time experiences. Ballard is a unique and fascinating (and talented) figure in literature, yet also a key representative of at least one aspect of the science fictional imagination.

{A minor sidebar observation: Ballard' makes a couple references to his work reflecting or being based upon American culture, in the first BBC documentary interviews with him, yet to me he's an extremely British writer and his view of American culture comes from quite a distance, making it more a projection of a distant fantasy world. I'm always struck by the confidence with which British writers seem to feel they can accurately portray the US--whereas I find their pictures of my country unrecognizable as the place I know (even given the distorted mirror of imaginative fiction). Not that this negates the power of the fiction--I just find their confidence in their ability to capture this country to be ironic. Instead we are usually reading their own projections upon a mythic image of a faraway place, created from media images and their ideas about what we represent.}

Martians and Us -2nd excerpt from BBC Doc.

This clip focuses on Christopher Priest's novel Fugue for a Darkening Island. Right now Christopher Priest is perhaps best known for The Prestige--made into the quite decent film starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. His novel The Inverted World may be his best known science fiction novel.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Great Interview with Terry Pratchett

Good videos of fantasy and science fiction authors are so far and few between that I was very excited to find this one with Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld novels. I guess after you sell 40 million books, you actually get the occasional serious interview from the media. Be sure to hook up with the other two parts of this interview at YouTube.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

TV show featuring SF authors

Here's a Canadian TV show, Prisoners of Gravity, from the early nineties, devoted to Science Fiction. It is full of author interviews, and is generally much more concerned with written SF than media. It's really great--once you get used to the slightly cheesy framing device of a guy alone in his satellite with just a computer for company. It seems to specialize in plenty of well thought out interviews with big (and medium) name writers.

This particular episode makes some very fine connections between all the various SF stories focused around amnesia and issues of memory. It includes interviews with Pat Cadigan, Nancy Kress, Walter Jon Williams, Samuel Delaney, David Cronenberg and others.

Teddog3000 is doing us all a great service by posting episodes of this excellent, if obscure, show up on YouTube. Anyone who loves SF should take the time to explore what Teddog has already put up and keep an eye out for more. Click on Teddog3000 to see all the episodes posted so far.

Friday, August 10, 2007

SF writers in action: CHARLES STROSS

Currently considered one of the most cutting edge science fiction writers, Stross's best works include Accelerando and Glasshouse (interviews here and here). His blog is often worth reading. He might be considered a key example of the current wave of British SF, which is generally considered to be much more exciting than what's currently coming out of the American sf scene. Many of these writers have the reputation of being pretty far to the left by U.S. standards--though I often get the feeling that they are just much more confident about their leftist point of views than those amongst the American writers who are on the left. Here in the states I have the impression that it's the writers with views from the right who incorporate those views into their fiction with similar confidence and surety.

Cosmic Comic Book

Godland is a comic that purposefully sets out to be as "cosmic" as possible, particularly following in the footsteps of Jack Kirby's most cosmic material. In fact the artist Tom Scioli does a wild pastiche of Kirby's art--making it perhaps even more abstract and surreal looking. I find it to be full of energy and excitement and just slightly confusing. It's well worth checking out, and you can sample the entire first issue free here.

You can also get all of Issue #8.

The series is being reprinted as graphic novels--three in trade paperback so far. Or you can get the first two graphic novels combined in one Deluxe Godland Hardback.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Star Trek New Voyages Trailer

I suppose it is old news, but I'm still blown away at the amount of effort put into the Star Trek: New Voyages. These are full length episodes continuing the adventures of Kirk, Spock and company, covering the rest of their 5 year journey. A tremendous task, done by amateurs who are not allowed to turn any kind of profit, purely for the love of the story, spending their own money and giving it away for free.

Star Trek New Voyages - Center Seat

If you crave more, try youTube and check out the project's home page.

Friday, August 3, 2007

She who creates Harry, video clips

Below you can view video of J. K. Rowling reading the opening chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at Midnight on the day the book was released. Kind of cool--the ultimate author's fantasy come true. And below that a brief, interesting interview with the author.

I've tried, over and over, to post what I thought was the best video interview with Rowling that I could find, from a British TV show called Richard and Judy, but somehow there seem to be certain videos that won't transfer. You should be able to find the show by following this link.

Also you can see what an excellent illustrator Rowling herself is, if you look at this section of the A&E Biography of Rowling. I can't help but thinking that she's a superior illustrator to the one used in the U.S. editions of her books. It's a shame that her drawings are not used in the books. They remind me a little of the work of Edward Gorey.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Check Out Sunshine

Intense, if flawed, hardcore SF flick.

Check out this review from Mark R. Kelly, which breaks down all the film's science flaws and implausibilities. And try this review by Gary Westfhal, which does a nice job of placing Sunshine within the context and history of "space suit" films.

This could have been a truly great science fiction film if it wasn't for the silly plot twist during the last act. Still, extremely worth it for the visuals.

Check out video interviews with director below. I think he's a great director, but maybe understands film making more than he fully understands science fiction--or only understand science fiction through the movies, with no broader view of the genre.

Talking about Sunshine

Nice interview with the director. See trailer and reviews in post above.

And this interesting Boyle Sunshine interview

Another fascinating interview about Sunshine

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This site is dedicated to bring you links to the best imaginative entertainment and literature on the web--science fiction, fantasy and beyond.