Patterico's Pontifications

8/9/2011

Eureka Canceled?

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 8:35 am



[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Hey, it can’t always be the gloom and doom of the economy, so let’s talk about the (ugh) SyFy* Channel’s baffling decision to cancel Eureka, sort of the Northern Exposure of science fiction.

And apparently they did it in a jerky sort of way.

If you’re a Eureka fan, it’s understandable if you feel a bit messed with by Syfy right now. EW.com is reporting that the cable channel has decided to end Eureka and reversed an earlier decision to order Season 6 of the show.

Last week, Deadline reported that Syfy was going to end the series, though they were going to order a truncated six-episode sixth and final season to give the producers time to wrap up the series. Syfy then put out a release saying that while they had indeed ordered those six episodes, no firm decision had been made on whether those were the final ones or not.

Now though, Syfy is not going to produce those six episodes, meaning Season 5 will be it for the show.

So first they considered giving it a proper goodbye to the show and then they changed their minds.

Now apparently we are still in Season 4, so there is some time to go, and (hint hint) good ratings and perhaps fan outcry might actually change some minds.  Otherwise you will not be getting your weekly dose of this…

——————————-

* Did I mention that I hate that spelling of Sci-Fi?

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

246 Responses to “Eureka Canceled?”

  1. That’s just what the folks at Massive Dynamic want you to believe Aaron.

    Simon Jester (51bacd)

  2. They spell it SyFy now, so that they can trademark it. Trademarking “SciFi” would have been, shall we say, ridiculous.

    Speaking as a Farscape fan, all I can say is that I am shocked! Shocked! to learn that SyFy has cancelled a good show before its time was up.

    Steve (ddadf8)

  3. I think they imported the scheduling team from Fox, that sunk Firefly, Farscape, et al.

    ian cormac (81c5c2)

  4. steve

    you are right about why they spelled it that way.

    doesn’t make it less lame, though.

    And yeah, farscape shouldn’t have been canceled either. considering everything i am amazed battlestar galactica made it through its run.

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  5. NBC has an amazing ability to turn anything good in to shit.

    cubanbob (409ac2)

  6. I don’t get science fiction. At all. Never liked Star Wars. Never liked Trek, BG, or anything in the entire genre. Except Princess Leia.

    GenCon was downtown last weekend. Odd folks. There were a handful of GenConners that participated in the triathlon downtown. One with her hair done like the sweet Princess. Another with some type of animal tail and ears. Oddly hot. But, I digress.

    JD (85b089)

  7. WTH? They jerk around the fans by scheduling the show all over the place, making a 9 month hiatus happen in the middle of the season, and then decide it’s not being watched and kill the show? I was already upset with them over the way they handled Stargate, and allows BSG to become a crap show, but this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. After WH:13 is over I’m done with that channel.

    Sean (ff2f3b)

  8. Sci Fi is better in books, where they can really get into serious societal implications of some fantasy element in technology or space exploration. It’s a good way to discuss issues from a new angle.

    I have liked Battlestar Galactica (the newer version). I think it is actual science fiction, too. Star Wars 4 and 5 were decent action movies. The rest were terrible kids movies.

    Dustin (b7410e)

  9. Good science fiction is supposed to make you think. It takes human nature, adds one or two postulates, and asks “what if?” questions. E.g., “what if there were androids that you couldn’t tell apart from humans — should they have human rights?” Cue Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics novels, or Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which inspired the movie Blade Runner. Or “what if you could prevent crime before it happens?” Cue the short story The Minority Report, by Philip K. Dick (again), and the movie it inspired (which may or may not have been any good; I loved the short story, so I chose to avoid the movie at all costs.) Or “what if the government used technology to spy on people and control their thoughts?” Cue George Orwell’s 1984, or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. (Yes, 1984 counts as science fiction.)

    Now, you’ll notice I said “good” science fiction. In other words, stuff that the SyFy channel (*spit*) wouldn’t touch in a million years.

    Finally, one more science fiction story I just can’t help but mention. The “what if?” question is “what if someone fell in love with a time traveler?”, and the answer can be found in the short story Dandelion Girl, available entirely for free online. Highly recommended to everyone, though securing a box of tissues before reading may be advised for some.

    Robin Munn (347954)

  10. that show has a nice opening credits sequence I think

    the first episode of Alphas didn’t do anything for me at all

    that Haven show is growing on me but a lot cause of that Canada town is so awesome where they film

    happyfeet said helpfully (a55ba0)

  11. –Comment by JD — 8/9/2011 @ 9:07 am–

    I must respectfully point out, Sir, that Star Trek and Star Wars are fantasy, not science fiction. I never watched Battle Star Galactica so I can’t speak to that. The only science fiction show I know of on TV was “Men into Space” and possibly “Science Fiction Theater”.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  12. Alpha’s is kind of blase, Warehouse is OK, Haven I can’t get into,

    ian cormac (81c5c2)

  13. Robin Munn, go try “Vintage Season,” by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore. SciFi Channel tried to rip it off years ago and had to pay cash money.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vintage_Season

    Simon Jester (51bacd)

  14. The only science fiction show I know of on TV was “Men into Space” and possibly “Science Fiction Theater”.

    Flashforward.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  15. Milhouse,
    Everything I have seen since was either space opera, space fantasy or fantasy. Star Trek is Wagon Train or D&D in space and Star Wars is LOR in space. A few movies would class as science fiction but TV doesn’t know the meaning of the term. What is the difference between a Star Trek chief engineer and a wizard in a fantasy story? None, both use magic to deal with problems.

    Men Into Space was a low budget half hour program but some of the stories could be played today and would be even more credible then they were 40 years ago. That is solid science fiction, the passage of time has made it less speculative and more science. The problems and solutions are still valid today.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  16. I repeat, Flashforward

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  17. Babylon 5 was good science fiction albeit weak acting. Defying Gravity was fantastic science fiction – probably the best science fiction every put on TV but got cancelled after first season.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  18. I was going to say B5, but I’m not sure it is SF. What makes it SF rather than Space Opera? That’s why I brought up Flashforward, which is genuine hard SF.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  19. I see Flashforward is streaming on Netflix, so I’ll have to check it out.

    Dustin (b7410e)

  20. The book is better, but then that’s almost always true.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  21. Comment by Milhouse — 8/9/2011 @ 10:05 am

    I see. Sorry, I was not familiar with the program.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  22. Comment by Dustin — 8/9/2011 @ 10:10 am

    I will have to look at it.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  23. Comment by Milhouse — 8/9/2011 @ 10:10 am

    I was going to say the same thing. I liked the early seasons of the program but I don’t think it is science fiction. Space opera, yes. Good space opera.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  24. Defying Gravity had that weird abortion subplot and Flashforward uses alcoholism as a plot device which, that’s gotten a bit tedious

    a vaguely scifi show what was really impressive and prematurely canceled was Meadowlands

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  25. Hollywood thinks that science fiction means “setting in a space ship, space station, or on another planet” and sometimes adds aliens or time shifts.

    Firefly and Serenity were science fiction, after a fashion. Dollhouse was modern science fiction. Farscape was a blend of space opera and fantasy. Original Star Trek was sometimes science fiction. Babylon 5 was close to classic science fiction.

    I highly recommend Iain Banks Algebraist as a modern space opera, and his The Culture series of novels as science fiction.

    htom (412a17)

  26. The original Star Trek was little better than Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea with the monster of the week and magic or deus ex machina to save the day. That is not science fiction. That is fantasy.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  27. “Sci-Fi” is too widely used to be copyrightable. Hence the execrable “SyFy”, which IS copyrightable, even if detested by a good 90% of the possible viewers.

    Marketing Uber Alles

    As for content, the channel is a poor excuse for a “science fiction” outlet, being composed of tired plots and overdone CGI extravaganzas.

    “Anaconda vs. Python”, my shiny patoot.

    Bigfoot (8096f2)

  28. Bigfoot, trademark actually. You can’t copyright short phrases, words and titles.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  29. Mary Shelly’s original Frankenstein (the book) was better science fiction than Star Trek or most TV “science fiction”.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  30. I thought that would be sure to get a response (pitchforks and torches maybe) from Trek fanboys. Maybe I need to rope in Buffy?

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  31. Buffy?! Great fantasy, but hardly SF.

    Getting back to the distinction between space opera and SF, though, where do you draw the line? If B5 is not SF, then what’s the Vorkosigan series? What are half the Heinlein juvies?

    Milhouse (9a4c23)

  32. I’ll go one step farther. Although she did not write it as science fiction, it is classic, perhaps definitive, science fiction. She takes one not implausible devise or postulate and builds her whole novel from this, all the rest of the story being human nature and interaction that would fit in any mainstream novel. Is this not science fiction in the best tradition of Campbell, Bester, Niven, or Asimov?

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  33. So, Machinist, what SF novels have you liked?

    The whole SF versus F debate is a big one, and I can usually tell a person’s position in that debate from a few books that they enjoyed.

    “The Mote in God’s Eye” might be seen as space opera. How about Greg Benford’s novels? That sort of thing.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  34. Or, Machinist, if I dare say it, how about Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”?

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  35. I did not see the B5 series after it moved to cable (or I lost cable). The earlier series was good but there was too much deus ex machina type revelations that were sprung on us and inserted after the fact in prequel movies. This just strikes me as a bit of cheating, like a mystery novel that does not show you needed clues.

    I the best stories in “Men Into Space” the solutions were engineering solutions and after seeing them you slap your head and say ” I should have thought of that!” That is real science fiction.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  36. What was great about Babylon 5 was that it had the idea of a grand story arc – something rare in TV at all at that time, and rare in SF TV. What sucked was when they tried to create a sequel that more closely hewed to the hackneyed style – Crusade. The “Ranger” films were astonishingly bad sadly.

    Machinist, many people use Frankenstein as a root of SF literature – I can’t think of a reason to argue with you about that.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  37. –Comment by Simon Jester — 8/9/2011 @ 11:50 am–

    I am afraid I am unfamiliar with Greg Benford and have not read Heinlein’s “Moon is a Harsh Mistress” though I may have it. I like most of Niven’s work like the Known Space series. I like Bester’s novels “The Demolished Man” and “The Stars My Destination”. I like Keith Laumer’s Bolo stories.

    I like A.E. van Vogt and Harrison’s Deathworld series but I would not really call them science fiction. Good space opera.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  38. SPQR, I agree about the epic nature of B5, it was a grand construction and I liked it. I wished it was better science fiction because of that. I have one Ranger movie and I must agree with you.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  39. “Moon is a Harsh Mistress” is probably Heinlein’s best work. Quintessential Heinlein. Recently there were rumors of a movie version. Although if its a hack job like Starship Troopers, we may organize a lynching party.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  40. Machinist, the best of Babylon 5 was when they did episodes in sequential seasons that were two points of view – by the same character – on the same event. The disappearance of Babylon 4.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  41. “many people use Frankenstein as a root of SF literature ”

    I did not even know this. I never studied it in school. I did not get past HS and barely that. I read it on my own and thought most people considered it horror or fantasy, like the movies. Thanks for correcting that.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  42. Wish I knew you better, SPQR. I have information about all that! Short version: unlikely.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  43. I did not see those episodes of B5 but did see a bit of that effect in one of the movies, B5-the beginning, I think, vs things shown in the early series. That would have been interesting.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  44. “that were two points of view – by the same character – on the same event.”

    I misread that. I was referring to seeing the same events from different sides, not the same character. I don’t know how that would work. I can’t picture it.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  45. Machinist, there are many great “histories” of science fiction. It’s an academic subject in some places…and quite interesting. Shelley, Verne, Poe, Wells…they all set the stage. There are some hysterical snipes from Verne about Wells’ fiction, by the way. Verne sniffed that he didn’t resort to “magic” to let his characters travel to the Moon (he was referring to cavorite). No, instead he shot his astronauts out of a gigantic cannon. I hate to think of the G-forces involved.

    Still, always interesting to trace the roots of a genre.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  46. The Foundation series, which the Episodes which shall remain nameless, ripped off, and left bleeding
    in the Road, Harrison’s ‘The Stainless Steel Rat’

    ian cormac (81c5c2)

  47. You just need Niven’s Slaver stasis field to protect from the G forces.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  48. Machinist, the episodes of B5 in question involve the same character seeing the events from two POV’s because he’s come back in time to actually cause the events he had watched when younger. The story is in effect told twice, in subsequent seasons, from those two POV’s. Its brilliant work.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  49. Yes, Machinist, but you only heard that in the Draco Tavern. I suspect Outsider tech could help.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  50. –Comment by Simon Jester — 8/9/2011 @ 11:50 am–

    So what can you tell?

    I would consider the Mote series science fiction, although it does have some legacy of Pournelle’s space opera in it (good space opera though).

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  51. Machinist, you have read “The Mote in God’s Eye,” I hope?

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  52. SPQR – You nailed the reason why Babylon 5 grabbed my attention when I first discovered it. On seeing the prequel movie, my thought was “this guy is writing a modern-day epic!”

    In retrospect, the acting and the dialogue can feel a bit hokey, especially when compared to such masterpieces as Firefly. But the epic sweep of Babylon 5’s story arc still holds up for me when I re-watch it (usually as I’m introducing it to people who’ve never seen the show before).

    There’s one thing I’ve always appreciated about Babylon 5: the many quotable moments. Many of them would be spoilers, but here are a few from season one:

    Cmdr. Jeffrey Sinclair: “Sleep well?”
    Lt. Cmdr. Susan Ivanona: “Sleeping is not the problem. Waking up.. that is a problem. I’ve always had hard time getting up when it’s dark outside.”
    Sinclair: “But we’re in space. It’s always dark outside.”
    Ivanova: (sighing) “I know, I know.”

    Security chief Michael Garibaldi: “No boom?”
    Cmdr. Sinclair: “No boom.”
    Lt. Cmdr. Ivanova: “No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow.” (The others give her a dirty look.) “What? Look, somebody’s got to have some damn perspective around here. Boom, sooner or later. BOOM!

    Ivanova: (Chewing out a ship full of civilians who nearly got themselves killed) “And just one more thing. On your trip back I’d like you to take the time to learn the Babylon 5 mantra:

    Ivanova is always right.
    I will listen to Ivanova.
    I will not ignore Ivanova’s recommendations.
    Ivanova is God.
    And if this ever happens again, Ivanova will personally rip your lungs out.
    Babylon Control out.

    (Muttering) “… Civilians!”
    (Looks up) “I was just kidding about the God part — no offense.”

    … Huh. Somehow all of these quotes have involved Ivanova. Well, that’s because she gets all the good lines.

    Anyway, go find the Babylon 5 DVD’s at your local library, or Netflix, or whatever method you prefer. It’s well worth the time if you enjoy smart, well-written TV.

    Robin Munn (347954)

  53. “Yes, Machinist, but you only heard that in the Draco Tavern.”

    That goes back to “World of Ptavvs”, far older than Draco’s.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  54. Whoops. Cross posted.

    Seems like you like what I call “Net Up” SF, with a minimum of impossibilities. Like me, you kind of like the tech, not so much the sociology? I mean, “Dune” is a fine novel and all, but I wanted to know more about how some the tech worked.

    I *highly* recommend Vernor Vinge’s work to you. In fact, I recommend “The Peace War.” And “A Fire Upon the Deep.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernor_Vinge

    Greg Benford’s “Galactic Center” novels might intrigue you, too.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  55. Ah, but Machinist, you read “The Green Plague,” I’m sure. There were some Chirps who were on Earth 2 billion years ago. Relativistic travel is their friend.

    I also like the short-short from Niven: “Assimilating Our Culture, That’s What They’re Doing!”

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  56. There is no debate that the acting is weak. Bruce Boxleiter as the lead? Sheesh. But there are some brilliant supporting actors, like Andreas Katsulas ( who chews up the ceiling dressed like a reptile ) and Peter Jurasik who gives us one of the most complex villain/hero character transitions ever.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  57. –Comment by Simon Jester — 8/9/2011 @ 12:27 pm–

    I wore my original copy out and had to buy a new one. The same thing happened with Ringworld as I wanted to keep my original copy in decent shape. The earth spins backward in that one.

    I also have the sequel, The Gripping Hand.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  58. If you like big sweeping epic hard science fiction, I found a great author a few years back. Alastair Reynolds. Start with “Revelation Space” and work your way through his stuff. “Terminal World” is his latest, not of the Revelation Space sequence, and not the strongest IMO.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  59. Reynolds is good!

    Machinist, I don’t like the sequels as much as I should. Sigh. I didn’t care for the Ringworld sequels either. They’re fine, but not as much fun as the original.

    A lot of people like Dan Simmons’ “Hyperion” series, but it whelms me. I much prefer his supernatural stuff. His historical-horror novel about the search for the Northwest Passage, “The Terror” is really good. As is “Drood.”

    Simmons used to teach honors English in junior high school. It kind of shows.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  60. Also, for a slightly cyberpunkish noir twist, try Richard Morgan’s “Altered Carbon.”

    And much as the author can irritate me, John Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” is completely worth your time.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  61. “Assimilating…” was good as were others but they never quite lived up to what I expected. His earlier work was so great I may have been unrealistic. Ringworld was what really hooked me on Niven.

    I liked Dune but do not consider it Science fiction. I have some of the later ones and found them a let down.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  62. “Machinist, I don’t like the sequels as much as I should. Sigh. I didn’t care for the Ringworld sequels either. They’re fine, but not as much fun as the original.”

    I agree!

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  63. I don’t read much fiction anymore and when I do it is mostly old favorites. The only new to me fiction I have read in the last few years is Ayn Rand.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  64. Machinist, you have to read Alastair Reynolds if you like the big epic hard SF stuff. Dig up a copy of Revelation Space and see.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  65. If B5 is not SF, then what’s the Vorkosigan series?
    Comment by Milhouse — 8/9/2011 @ 11:47 am

    I’d call the Vorkosigan series “soft” SF. It’s a set of character-driven stories in a science-fiction setting. The tech is discussed when it becomes pivotal to the plot (cryo-freezing in Mirror Dance and wormhole physics in Komarr, for example), but generally handwaved at other times, and the main thing driving the story is the character interactions, rather than the big “what if?” question.

    Incidentally, the Vorkosigan series just went from first place to second place on my “favorite series of all time” list, bumped off by the Liad universe by Sharon Miller & Steve Lee. If you like the Vorkosigan books, the Liad books come highly recommended. Best place to start the Liad series is with The Agent Gambit, which contains the first two novels of the series. (And because of the generous number of sample chapters Baen Books allows, you can read most of the first novel at that link before you have to buy the rest.)

    Robin Munn (347954)

  66. –Comment by SPQR — 8/9/2011 @ 12:44 pm–

    Thank you.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  67. Menendez accusing Tea Partiers of treason.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  68. Comment by DohBiden — 8/9/2011 @ 1:06 pm

    New tone!

    Robin Munn (347954)

  69. I see that someone blamed NBC for this cancellation (I assume the own SyFy),
    NBC also is the culprit that cancelled the original Star Trek back in the day.

    AD-RtR/OS! (4b2718)

  70. Gotta love the new civilized tone obama promised us

    /Sarcasm

    Has NJ senator Robert the dumbarse menendez blamed S&P for eurekas cancellation?

    DohBiden (d54602)

  71. I can’t watch anything on tv except maybe the news ticker on fox news.

    Chris (b0fa47)

  72. Wow, did I come into this chat late. First the obligatory … “Cancelling Eureka! Whah! (No more unrealistically hot sciency females, whimper.)”

    I did enjoy the show for its humor mostly. The science got kinda secondary as with any TV SF. Shows that have been slightly (<-keyword) more intelligent and internally consistent (Flashforward, Defying Gravity, The Event) tend to get cancelled. Don't have cable so haven't seen Falling Skys yet, and don't really hold out much hope for Terra Nova, despite the big names.

    Good 'hard' SF reads mostly listed already: Benford's Galactic Core history is superb, Alastair Reynolds "Inhibitor" sequence is both great space opera and manages to stay hard SF for the most part, with some pretty good social evolution and nice dollops of horror here and there (the Clockmaker…shudder). Iain M. Banks's "Culture" novels are great fun SpaceOp. Niven/Pournelle's joint stuff (Mote books, National Geographic landings (Legacy of Heorot (sp?), Destiny Road) are excellent, much better than his *meh* devolution of his own Known Space stuff.

    Simmons, Vinge (there's sequel for Fire Upon the Deep about to come out!) have also already been listed.

    Surprised no one has listed Greg Bear yet…Blood Music is still a favorite, as are Darwin's Radio and the sequel. Good social and medical/genetic SF. Vitals is excellent immortality/medical SF. Forge of God/Anvil of Stars sequence is good hard SF and/or space opera.

    A few other suggestions would be William Gibson (some of his more recent are SF but very near-term, he spotted a lot of the 'augmented reality' iPOD and cellphone apps promise, but got the hardware wrong). David Brin's "Uplift" novels are great fun space opera (have a banana and a beer…). Shading into the extreme brain-bending categories gets you into Charles Stross with Accelerando, Scratch Monkey, Iron Sunrise… (and his "Laundry" books are also very funny Hellboy-meets-spy-meets-IT dweeb mashups). I also think some of Walter Jon Williams' SF is excellent…Angel Station was probably one of the most interesting alien biology/mentality interaction stories I've ever read, and Aristoi was a superbly out-there look at a society evolved to handle nanotech up to the planetary creation scale, although a lot of his other stuff falls more into the cyberpunk, urban fantasy, or pure space opera vein.

    rtrski (336865)

  73. Although she did not write it as science fiction, it is classic, perhaps definitive, science fiction.

    If you’re talking about Frankenstein, of course it’s SF. Who disputes that?

    Milhouse (9a4c23)

  74. there’s sequel for Fire Upon the Deep about to come out!

    Um, A Deepness In the Sky came out many years ago.

    Milhouse (9a4c23)

  75. I better not be hearing people knocking Star Trek (TOS).

    Don’t make me come over there.

    Dave Surls (77782f)

  76. If B5 is not SF, then what’s the Vorkosigan series?
    Comment by Milhouse — 8/9/2011 @ 11:47 am

    I’d call the Vorkosigan series “soft” SF.

    Then surely so is B5.

    And in the best SF a lot of the tech is not explained, because it’s assumed that the reader can figure it out. One of my favourite bits of SF is the scene in China Mountain Zhang where the title character wakes up in a hospital bed and is told that his kidney had failed so they’d grown him a new one. He had clearly never heard of this tech before, and yet he immediately understands the principle, and so must the reader; there is no further exposition, and the story continues unabated. I remember thinking when I read it that Michael Chrichton would have devoted at least half a chapter to it.

    Of course in hard SF the tech is the story. And in that sense they don’t come any harder than the late Bob Forward.

    Milhouse (9a4c23)

  77. The late Charles Sheffield and his wife Nancy Kress used to put on a debate on what is SF. I saw it twice. His definition was a lot harder than hers, of course. He denounced Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow as unreadable because the time dilation that is central to the plot is impossible, and as “not SF” because the author clearly didn’t even bother finding out what was possible and what wasn’t, and would have been puzzled to hear that anyone would bother, or would be upset that she’d got it wrong. He compared that to Heinlein spending a week with a slide rule making sure that one scene in Space Cadet was consistent with the physics of this universe.

    Milhouse (9a4c23)

  78. Walter Jon Williams has an amazing skill at writing well in several different styles/subgenres.

    SPQR (738c71)

  79. I haven’t been as thrilled with Eureka this last season. The first three I got twitchy if I missed an episode, but this whole alternate timeline shtick just hasn’t been doing it for me to anywhere near the same degree.

    For other shows, Alphas looks to be going nowhere slow, the same with Haven, and Sanctuary never managed to click for me. Camelot 90210 – I mean Merlin – is an excercise in everything that can go wrong with revisionist legends.

    I love Warehouse 13, though I actually dread waiting for it to jump the shark the way so many other series have.
    Being Human took a few episodes to appeal to me, but by the end of the season I was completely into it.

    I refuse to go near the reality shows, and have no use for the wrestling.

    It seems soon all that will be left are the horrible made for TV movies they love to inflict on us on the weekends.

    Oh well, it was nice while it lasted, kind of like when MTV had music videos and all.

    Sam (8d527c)

  80. Yeah, B5 is soft SF. I mean, it’s space opera, which is usually “soft” SF by its very nature (some form of FTL travel is pretty much required in space opera, and the details of FTL travel are usually handwaved). And B5 spends more time examining human sapient nature — love, hate, trust, betrayal, faith, doubt — than science.

    Though B5 did have some bits where they paid attention to science. I liked B5’s space battles for actually having vacuum be frictionless, rather than being “fighter jets in space” like far too many other shows (I’m looking at you, George Lucas). There’s a scene where a Starfury pilot is moving away from an enemy fighter who’s on his “tail”. Instead of pulling an Immelmann to reverse, the Starfury pilot simply fires the forward thrusters on his left side and the reverse thrusters on his right. This spins him around without changing his forward momentum — and while he’s now “moving backwards”, he’s facing the enemy ship. One quick burst of his guns, and the unprepared enemy is destroyed.

    But yeah, the main focus of B5 is are the space-opera plot(s) (massive war for the future of the galaxy, rebellion against a totalitarian government, slowly-developing romance(s) between various character(s)) rather than the a hard SF’s “what if?” questions.

    Robin Munn (347954)

  81. That last (s) on “character(s)” was fortuitous. I should have written “characters”… but now that I come to think of it, there’s more than one character in B5 who could truly be said to be in love with himself or herself. :-)

    Robin Munn (347954)

  82. Fire Upon the Deep Sequel at io9

    Vinge interview at Tor about Children of the Sky.

    Much of Greg Egan’s work is very hard SF. samples at his homepage

    htom (412a17)

  83. Re: #74, Deepness in the Sky is not a *sequel* to the events in “Fire Upon the Deep” (with the ‘tines’ on their planet). It does share a future-history (zones of thought, where only outside the galactic gravity well are some of the true high-technology options possible) and a few characters, or rather a character in one is a palimpsest/recreation of one in the other.

    But if you check out Amazon, “Children of the Sky”, which directly continues the story of “Fire Upon the Deep”, is on its way. Oh, and Vernor’s prior novel is pretty good too…the standalone “Rainbow’s End”.

    rtrski (f5e621)

  84. Re: #83 totally forgot Egan!! “Distress” is a fabulous novel…and I admit that “Quarantine” is one of my all-time favorites.

    rtrski (f5e621)

  85. Beautiful girl, whoa!!!

    Summit, NJ (75c9eb)

  86. Defying Gravity was fantastic science fiction – probably the best science fiction every put on TV but got cancelled after first season.

    Amen, brother.

    Kevin M (298030)

  87. I’m pretty sure that Simon Jester has read “Moon….”, but I’d have to check with my friend Mike.

    Kevin M (298030)

  88. Kevin M., yeah pretty good chance …

    SPQR (26be8b)

  89. Morena Baccarin. That is all.

    JD (318f81)

  90. JD, didn’t help “V” …

    SPQR (26be8b)

  91. I’m pretty sure that Simon Jester has read “Moon….”, but I’d have to check with my friend Mike.
    Comment by Kevin M — 8/9/2011 @ 7:44 pm

    I saw what you did there. 😉

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  92. True, SPQR. Se is striking, nonetheless.

    JD (318f81)

  93. Hey, this has been a fun thread. Sorry that I have been away, I had to take some time out to straighten out my friend Adam’s poetry. I should have just thrown some rocks!

    Simon Jester (aa6399)

  94. Sigh. V. “Nazi Lizards from Outer Space,” here for our water and turn people into Slim Jims.

    “Falling Skies” is okay. But it is tough to find movies/television that do a good job with SF concepts.

    Simon Jester (aa6399)

  95. JD, well in Firefly / Serenity and Stargate SG1

    SPQR (26be8b)

  96. 90.JD, didn’t help “V”

    If she’d kept her hair the way it was in Firefly, it might have :)

    Chuck Bartowski (4c6c0c)

  97. Books I’d love to see on film or TV, but probably won’t:

    Niven & Pournelle’s Lucifer’s Hammer

    Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star/Judas Unchained (space opera is too SF)

    Robinson’s Red Mars

    Van Vogt’s “Black Destroyer” (oh, wait…)

    Niven’s Ringworld (and Known Space series as movie/TV combo)

    Anderson’s “Flandry” series (make a great movies series spread over some actor’s lifetime)

    Cherryh’s Downbelow Station

    Reynold’s Revelation Space and the newer House of Suns (a LOT of good New Space Opera coming out of the UK)

    And my favorite Iain Banks novel Against a Dark Background, but the, um, point would be lost on many.

    Vinge’s “Across Realtime” just to annoy the statists.

    I’m sure there are more.

    Kevin M (298030)

  98. The wonderful Caprica was also SF, btw, never mind how they tried to market it to BSG fans.

    Kevin M (298030)

  99. Lucifer’s Hammer would be easy to do as a t.v. mini-series.

    I think.

    OTOH, Poul Anderson’s future history series would be quite an undertaking.

    Dave Surls (08d0b4)

  100. John Varley Steel Beach was a great homage to Heinlein.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  101. SPQR, I actually like Varley’s “Titan” more except for the paen to cocaine use. But then, Varley was trying to write for Hollywood at the time, so it makes sense.

    Simon Jester (aa6399)

  102. I would like to register a complaint with the Complaint Dept of this joint: Not once did we read a single word here when the Lost series ended, let alone see one or two or even three photos evidencing why, besides the unique writing and thread of the story, so many were drawn to the show and crushingly disappointed when it ended.

    Also to the Complaint Dept: I think if the proprietors of this site were truly equal opportunity Rule 5ers, we would see evidence of this. Until then…

    Dana (4eca6e)

  103. For the libertarian-leaning mil-sf crowd, there’s Michael Z. Williamson’s Freehold and The Weapon, both set in the same war, from different viewpoints. Very like Heinlein in some ways.

    htom (412a17)

  104. Dana – You forgot Evqngeline Lilly.

    JD (318f81)

  105. “Steel Beach” is part of a long set of stories and novels called “Nine Worlds”, about the human existence in the solar system after truly superior aliens intervene on the side of the whales.

    “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank” (butchered by PBS) is part of this. I particularly liked The Golden Globe.

    Titan/Wizard/Demon would be a bit X rated, I think, particularly Wizard.

    Kevin M (298030)

  106. Yeah, I wasn’t as enthralled by Titan/Wizard/Demon.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  107. Eureka was downgraded.

    I blame Bush.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  108. htom, Williamson is fun but like Ringo, Weber, Mike Shepard, Eric Flint, S.M. Stirling, Tom Kratman, Robert Buettner, Larry Correia and more, while I read everything they write, I don’t consider them “great” SF writers. You don’t reread their stuff.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  109. And, if you want some classic space opera, what about the granddaddy Galactic Patrol.

    Preferably done as originally written for Astounding, with each succeeding novel revealing more and more, not the book versions that give it all away in the unnecessary prequels.

    Kevin M (298030)

  110. Remember when MST-3K, savaged ‘Overdrawn’

    ian cormac (81c5c2)

  111. htom, Williamson is fun but like Ringo, Weber, Mike Shepard, Eric Flint, S.M. Stirling, Tom Kratman, Robert Buettner, Larry Correia and more, while I read everything they write, I don’t consider them “great” SF writers. You don’t reread their stuff.

    Personally, I have reread Stirling’s Emberverse books.

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  112. BTW, SPQR, you did see all of Defying Gravity, not just the 8 or so episodes that ABC aired. All 13 are on the DVD, and even though it ends there, it ends well, tying up a lot of plot points.

    Kevin M (298030)

  113. There should be a “?” somewhere in that last.

    Kevin M (298030)

  114. Kevin, I did see the full DVD but still they had quite a ways to go, and a lot of plot points unresolved.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  115. Thanks, Kevin, I did not know that.

    SPQR, depends on the individual tale.

    BuJold, The Vorkosigan Saga is a cross between Space Opera and Regency Romance (and she does it well or very well, some better than others.) ButterBugs in livery!

    Her fantasy series, Chalion and Sharing Knife, are both excellent reads, at least to my taste. Both have a touch of “magic is a flavor of science” about them.

    htom (412a17)

  116. “I better not be hearing people knocking Star Trek (TOS).
    Don’t make me come over there.
    Comment by Dave Surls — 8/9/2011 @ 3:44 pm”

    You’re on!! I thought that series was childish even when I was a child. How can that possibly be called science fiction????? By what definition? That was childish fantasy like “Lost in Space” or “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”. Kirk’s mother wore combat boots and chewed tobacco!

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  117. Kirk’s mother wore combat boots and chewed tobacco!
    Comment by Machinist — 8/9/2011 @ 9:28 pm

    Aiming for a 4,000 comment thread? 😉

    Yes, I saw the Buffy reference earlier. Pbbttt!!! 😉 😛

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  118. I knew there had to be life somewhere. 😉

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  119. “Kirk’s mother wore combat boots and chewed tobacco!”

    O.K.

    Now, I’m REALLY pissed.

    Start in on Spock and there’s going to be serious trouble!

    :)

    Dave Surls (08d0b4)

  120. The pointy eared emo guy?

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  121. I would certainly pass on that. One of the advantages of XP is that I don’t have to trust MS to install updates, I can control that.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  122. Oops, wrong tab!! Sorry.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  123. Machinist, a decent Linux distro is better for keeping older hardware useful anyway.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  124. I was 12 years old when Star Trek first came out, and I remember waiting all summer for it to finally air…and, then I loved it.

    Still like watching it.

    Sure, it ain’t Aliens 2, but it’s pretty good for television.

    My favorite episode was “Balance of Terror” which is the episode where they first contacted the Romulans (or re-contacted, actually). I think that epsisode is one of the best single television shows ever.

    A lot of the episodes were lame, but there were some pretty good ones.

    Dave Surls (08d0b4)

  125. I believe that episode was a ripoff of “The Enemy Below”. That had the cloaked ship with a plasma weapon?

    The only other decent one was “The Doomsday Machine”, a Moby Dick ripoff.

    The writers new nothing of science. It was terrible in that respect. As bad as “Clutch Cargo”.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  126. SPQR, the lady I was addressing is a Linux expert but has to use Windows for classes she is taking. I am too ignorant to stray from Windows but I stay with XP Pro. When I heard they were going to stop selling it I bought an extra retail copy so I would not have to install Vista on any PC I built.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  127. Dave Surls, I was excited to see it when it came out, color and some special effects. It quickly disappointed me with the fairy tale science and monster of the week plots.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  128. I started reading Analog when I was young so I might have had unrealistic expectations.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  129. ‘“Moon is a Harsh Mistress” is probably Heinlein’s best work.’

    That’s a good one, but I was always partial to “Starship Troopers”, “Red Planet” (still love that book, even though it’s aimed at younger audiences, usually read it once a year), and “Stranger In a Strange Land”.

    Bob Heinlein is one of my favorite SF authors along with Jack Vance, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven and Asimov.

    I think those guys are my favorites, as far as SF goes.

    The one SF author I could never stand: Ursula Le Guin. Five words from her is about all I can take.

    Dave Surls (08d0b4)

  130. ‘I believe that episode was a ripoff of “The Enemy Below”.’

    Yeah, same idea pretty much. But, I still think it’s really well done. I watched it a few months ago, and enjoyed the hell out of it.

    I keep meaning to buy the whole set of episodes on DVD (even though I think I’ve seen the episode “A Piece of the Action” more times than I care to…always hated that one)…but, I’m too cheap.

    Dave Surls (08d0b4)

  131. That episode is a good example of the writers having no understanding of the speed of light. A plasma pulse is overtaking the ship when it is going faster than light. This was common.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  132. Also, did any ship, damaged or derelict, ever lose it’s artificial gravity? And the rapid acceleration to light speed would involve much higher G forces than the earlier mentioned space gun yet hitting a nebular cloud causes everyone to lurch forward?

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  133. Is it available on Netflix?

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  134. It is! Both streaming and discs. A cheap way.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  135. Still working my way through Stargate: Atlantis. Slowly.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  136. Haven’t seen any of those.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  137. Haven’t seen any of those.
    Comment by Machinist — 8/9/2011 @ 10:37 pm

    You’d hate it. (See what I did there? 😉 )

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  138. “A plasma pulse is overtaking the ship when it is going faster than light.”

    Clever lads, those Romulans.

    Dave Surls (08d0b4)

  139. “Also, did any ship, damaged or derelict, ever lose it’s artificial gravity?”

    In the last Shatner/Nimoy movie, when they blast the Klingon ship…everyone’s floating around.

    Dave Surls (08d0b4)

  140. Comment by Machinist — 8/9/2011 @ 10:27 pm

    I believe you mean “inertial dampeners” Sir.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  141. Nazis and their allies were left wing not right[That includes Franco of Spain.]

    DohBiden (d54602)

  142. But never in the series.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  143. “I believe you mean “inertial dampeners” Sir.

    Comment by Stashiu3 — 8/9/2011 @ 10:45 pm ”

    Clearly, but they seem very inconsistent in their performance. Given that you would think they would have seat belts. Whenever they are in a battle everyone takes their hands off the controls to hold on to there “desks”.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  144. Eureka was canceled because of teabaggers

    /Spartacbs

    DohBiden (d54602)

  145. Who is the beautiful girl in the picture at the top of this thread? It isn’t Morena Baccarin.

    Summit, NJ (75c9eb)

  146. “Comment by Stashiu3 — 8/9/2011 @ 10:39 pm”

    You have taught me to live in fear of some of your favorites. Dr Horrible? Princess Bride????? I still shudder.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  147. No need to knock Princess Bride.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  148. “But never in the series.”

    Yeah, but they had Scotty for an engineer.

    He can do anything, including keeping the anti-gravity fields going, even when the ship has lost primary power (which used to happen about every other week, if I remember rightly).

    That’s a useful skill, I reckon.

    A few other episodes I liked quite a bit: “The Menagerie”, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, and “Space Seed”.

    Dave Surls (08d0b4)

  149. Aaron, that PR photo of Erica Cerra, a/k/a Jo Lupo on Eureka, isn’t very close to what she looks like on the show. I think she’s actually much more attractive when she’s less “made up” than in that photo, and that’s even putting aside any and all “hot women in paramilitary gear” fetishes.

    Beldar (485693)

  150. I started reading Analog when I was young

    I discovered it at about 15, when the public library of the next city over had its budget cut so it restricted membership to city residents; since I lived across the road from the city border I had to start going to my city’s library which was much further away, and smaller, but did have an Analog subscription.

    Milhouse (9a4c23)

  151. Who is the beautiful girl in the picture at the top of this thread? It isn’t Morena Baccarin.
    Comment by Summit, NJ — 8/9/2011 @ 10:50 pm

    Erica Cerra

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  152. Thanks

    Summit, NJ (75c9eb)

  153. Beldar beat me to it… my connection is wonky tonight. Probably scarce for the rest of the night. Be well.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  154. “No need to knock Princess Bride.”

    Comment by DohBiden — 8/9/2011 @ 10:53 pm

    True, it speaks for(?) itself.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  155. –Comment by Milhouse — 8/9/2011 @ 11:01 pm__

    My father subscribed and I got hooked. Campbell was a strong influence on me in both politics and science. I was always a science nut. I was lucky to grow up in a family of readers and had a wealth of material around me. Between my father, mother, and older brother I was exposed to a wide variety of material.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  156. Princess Bride rules.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  157. –Comment by Stashiu3 — 8/9/2011 @ 11:03 pm–

    Good night Sir.

    Drat, a Princess Bride put down wasted.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  158. Maybe not a complete waste?

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  159. I never read Analog or the other mags…just bought scads of books.

    Finally gave up on that when I realized I had more books than I had house to store them in.

    Dave Surls (08d0b4)

  160. #149 – She is a chameleon, ranging from hot to not-so-hot.

    Summit, NJ (75c9eb)

  161. True, it speaks for(?) itself.

    Comment by Machinist — 8/9/2011 @ 11:06 pm

    Inconceivable!

    (you knew someone had to do it)

    ppk_pixie (1df0c8)

  162. I still have Analogs from the sixties and was reading some (carefully) just last week. What really hooked me was the science articles. It was such a cut above the others. I bought it faithfully until a while after Campbell died. That was a big loss to me.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  163. –Comment by ppk_pixie — 8/9/2011 @ 11:14 pm–

    Oh Noes!! Not another fan! Sir Stashiu can carry on a conversation quoting from that silly movie. It is like Mathew Harrison Brady talking about the Bible, he knows chapter and verse. I think he could recite it backwards. It worries me a bit.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  164. -Comment by Dave Surls — 8/9/2011 @ 11:12 pm-

    I have one whole room as a library, nothing but bookshelves. It is the first time in years I have been able to unpack all my books.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  165. I’m also about to convert a room to wall to wall bookshelves…so, I can finally unpack my books (well, some of them anyway).

    I’ve only lived here about 20 years.

    Takes me awhile to get stuff like that done.

    Dave Surls (08d0b4)

  166. It was part of the plan when we moved to Texas. I have that and one room as my computer/ playroom. I mostly live in this room.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  167. Oh Noes!! Not another fan!
    Comment by Machinist — 8/9/2011 @ 11:21 pm

    I know a few quotes 😉

    But I can promise to not toss BTVS quotes lol

    ppk_pixie (1df0c8)

  168. Thank goodness!! Sir Stashiu has sent me the sing-a-long one several times, sometimes disguised. His links are notorious.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  169. I must admit, saying goodbye, in the pix household you may commonly hear “Have fun storming the castle” *wince*

    Its either Princess Bride, Spaceballs, or Monty Python.

    I’m sure there’s a name for such compulsions…

    ppk_pixie (1df0c8)

  170. Are they African compulsions, or European compulsions?

    Machinist (b6f7da)


  171. They spell it SyFy now, so that they can trademark it. Trademarking “SciFi” would have been, shall we say, ridiculous.


    I believe the word you seek is “impossible”.


    I think they imported the scheduling team from Fox, that sunk Firefly, Farscape, et al.


    Don’t forget Dollhouse, Wonderfalls (3 episodes! THREE! And one of them not on the night it was advertised to air!), and Drive (3 episodes! ON just TWO NIGHTS!)

    Fox got a few chops back by their treatment of Dollhouse, but they’ve certainly got some idiots in certain places.

    And actually, the other nets aren’t generally much better — ABC’s idiotic scheduling of Daybreak two months after all the other shows began, and CBS’s treatment of several shows that seemed to show promise, leave NBC as the only major net that hasn’t had its Cranium used as a suppository for most of the last 10 years, by giving Journeyman a full half-season.

    I do have to say, though, that the behavior of so-called “fans of intelligent TV” to both Dollhouse and Flashforward says the nets are possibly correct.

    I asked in a TV-oriented website why fans weren’t watching both, and the response was, pretty much, “I couldn’t categorize it or its characters within the first 30 mins into one of the archetypes in my head, so I stopped watching“. I’m paraphrasing, there, but that, really, IS pretty much what their excuses boiled down to.

    As the saying goes:

    When All Is Said and Done, a lot more has been Said, than Done.

    All too often, people talk about wanting intelligent TV, then ignore it when it manages to make it to air.

    It seems as though the couch potatoes may be at fault as much as the net heads.

    *sigh*

    Smock Puppet, Neilson Rating Alternate Panel Member (c9dcd8)

  172. When I was growing up the family tended to exchange lines from one of the worst movies ever made, until Dr. Horrible, Teenagers from Outer Space.

    Be silent!

    Be swift!

    Machinist (b6f7da)


  173. Are they African compulsions, or European compulsions?

    ‘Ow do you know so much about compulsions?

    Smock Puppet, MP Alternate Cast Member (c9dcd8)

  174. I don’t know aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  175. Are they African compulsions, or European compulsions?

    Comment by Machinist — 8/9/2011 @ 11:58 pm
    I..I don’t know…

    :::flies off the bridge:::

    ppk_pixie (1df0c8)

  176. ::muttering::: not fast enough…

    ppk_pixie (1df0c8)

  177. Hahahahahehehe!!!

    I got better….

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  178. You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you…

    ppk_pixie (1df0c8)

  179. It’s just a flesh wound.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  180. Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  181. Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  182. Bring us…a shrubbery!

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  183. I’m going to stop making the MP quotes. This could go on all night, and probably would. How do I know? You have to know these things when you’re a king. 😉

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  184. Found them? In Mercia? The coconut’s tropical!

    ppk_pixie (1df0c8)

  185. Yeah…need to stop.

    It was close to the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch time 😉

    ppk_pixie (1df0c8)

  186. It’s a silly place.

    Machinist (b6f7da)


  187. Cue the short story The Minority Report, by Philip K. Dick (again), and the movie it inspired (which may or may not have been any good; I loved the short story, so I chose to avoid the movie at all costs.)


    I, on the other hand, haven’t read the original story, though I would say that it is inarguably the best Spielberg movie ever(ok, mayyybe you can argue it. But not easily), AND the best movie adaptation derived from a PKD story, and yeah, that includes Blade Runner, if only because you’d have to argue over which version — the theatrical release or the director’s cut — and yes, they are quite different — was the “canonical” adaptation.

    I think the issue with the SyFy channel is all amply covered by their choice to use the term “Sci-Fi” in the very first place:

    ‘Science Fiction’, is flawless diction.
    ‘SF’, too, is fine to-do.
    But if ‘Attack of the Carrots from Mars‘ makes you cry,
    NEVER use the term, ‘Sci-Fi’.

    While there certainly are goofy absurdist fun moments with regards to the shows/movies (‘Mansquito’, anyone?), it is rather clear that the operators aren’t SF fans but Hollywood bozons.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an utter purist — I can find both humor and enjoyment of something like Robot Jox or Tremors — but Tremors works because it does not attempt to take itself too seriously, and is clear about that.

    Hollywood, on the other hand, still has all too many idiots who think that throwing in a ray gun or a rocket ship makes up for excrebly bad writing, to say nothing of excrebly bad science.

    Nothing annoys me more than something claiming to be ‘SF’ which includes in it scientific flaws which any bright High School science nerd could point out, and probably suggest an explanation for, if they just coughed up a hundred dollar payment towards his college fund, cf. the “stacked rings” used as a throwaway effect in Pitch Black, or, even worse, the entire basis/macguffin for Chain Reaction, which confuses molecular bonding with intra-atomic forces. Jeez. I would’ve scoffed at that movie when I was twelve.

    Or, more recently, the idiocies behind The Core, Sunshine, and Another Earth, all of which involve either a suspension of disbelief akin to a full on case of schizophrenia, or abysmal scientific ignorance that ought to be limited to lower apes and victims of multiple trepannings.

    Smock Puppet, SF Editing Board Alternate Cast Member (c9dcd8)

  188. BTW, speaking of “Minority Report” — you want to see the Factory of the Future — you know, the one in which robots have reduced the human work element much as ag machinery have reduced the presence of the human farm worker on farms — there’s a beautiful example of it in the movie that is worth watching the movie all by itself.

    Smock Puppet, SF Editing Board Alternate Cast Member (c9dcd8)


  189. I repeat, Flashforward

    1) Moved and Seconded.

    2) Most DEFINITELY Dollhouse. “Here’s a technology. What kind of effects would it have on society? What kind of ways could it be used positively and abused negatively?” SF in its most pure form.

    3) Almost certainly Firefly. Argue “space opera” and you’re an idiot. That show was all about government interventionism vs. libertarianism. It was an SF background in which to discuss social mores and political issues.

    4) Yeah, I’d argue for Bab5 as well — “Under what conditions is it right and proper for a people to revolt via violence against their government?”

    On lesser levels —
    Journeyman
    Daybreak

    Neither of the latter of which really had time to do more in terms of where they though the story would/could go in SF terms… DB is more borderline, as it didn’t have time to really get into what was going on, being cut off at 13 eps, it was more skewed as a Lost kind of “WtF is going on?” at that point.

    Smock Puppet, SF Editing Board Alternate Cast Member (c9dcd8)


  190. The original Star Trek was little better than Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea with the monster of the week and magic or deus ex machina to save the day. That is not science fiction. That is fantasy.

    SOME episodes, yes, but not all — and in that time frame, and that context, it’s more of a Waltzing Bear issue. It’s not how well it Waltzes — it’s that it’s Walzing at all.

    Twilight Zone.


    Buffy?! Great fantasy, but hardly SF.

    Agreed on that point, ditto Angel (which I like even better) and Doctor Who. All fantasy, not SF.


    where do you draw the line?

    The historical answer to “What is SF?”:
    “What Science Fiction Editors buy”
    … according to John W. Campbell.


    I the best stories in “Men Into Space” the solutions were engineering solutions and after seeing them you slap your head and say ” I should have thought of that!” That is real science fiction.

    LOL, no, that is engineering.

    Real SF is as I suggested for Dollhouse, above:
    “Here’s a technology or a situation enabled by technology. What kind of effects would it have on society? What kind of ways could it be used positively and abused negatively?”
    or, as Niven, et al put it:

    “Mainstream literature is about Being. For character studies, it’s probably
    the best genre around; but nothing happens, nothing changes. [Speculative]
    literature is about Doing. About making the future, not just bemoaning it.
    We’ll all be living in the future by and by. Some of us like to scout
    ahead.”
    – Niven/Pournelle/Flynn, ‘Fallen Angels’ –

    Minority Report, with its “pre-cog” idea is a beautiful example, too.


    Yes, Machinist, but you only heard that in the Draco Tavern. I suspect Outsider tech could help.

    Niven’s been doing some revisionism on the Outsider concept, FWIW, in the various “xxx of Worlds” books by him and E.M.Lerner.

    Not so much retroing things as “things aren’t what was suggested. here’s the bigger picture.”


    Anyway, go find the Babylon 5 DVD’s at your local library, or Netflix, or whatever method you prefer. It’s well worth the time if you enjoy smart, well-written TV.

    Moved, Seconded. I also recommend you seriously re-watch ST:DS9, starting AFTER the second season. Like ALL the post-TOS ST series, the first two seasons were generally very poor and barely watchable. The rest are, in the case of Voyager, at least tolerable, and, in the case of DS9, some of the best examples of SF on TV. DS9 really, truly used the SF format to tell all SORTS of stories in innovative ways (much like Buffy and Angel did with the Fantasy format)


    I also have the sequel, The Gripping Hand.

    If you like the Mote stuff, you should also have read the rest of the stuff that it set in that future history by Pournelle, et al. His original basis, the “CoDominion” (a coalition between the USA and the USSR) has been dated by events, but nominally could still happen with “Russia” doing the USSR job. I can particularly recommend the Falkenberg stories as well as the War World shared universe stories.

    For those of you that liked Starship Troopers, I have to recommend David Gerrold’s “War Against the Chtorr” series of books. It’s clear that he’s basically writing stories from the various points of view of a Heinlein Individual using the talky style of Starship Troopers. Note of warning, he hasn’t written the final “book”(s), from the point of view of The Old Man (Jubal Harshaw, Lazarus Long), yet, and it might wind up unfinished forever.

    Smock Puppet, SF Editing Board Alternate Cast Member (c9dcd8)

  191. Unfortunately NBC has a very long track record of doing this shit to SCI-FI shows. I was irritated by their last decision to cancel The Event I asked them to never develop another show again. The only show that they ever made any effort to finish properly was the original Stargate. Otherwise they get the Event/SGU/Journeyman treatment.

    I hate NBC with a white hot blinding passion and after this round of cancellations they will not get any ratings from myself in the future

    The Other Karl (f0c487)

  192. The most infuriating thing, is that they ‘specialize in the virtue of not being seen’ by moving Eureka all around the schedule, then complain that the audience isn’t there.

    ian cormac (81c5c2)

  193. I’ve read the dispute between the “hard” and “soft” SciFi wings, and both should remember Arthur Clarke’s quote:”Any sufficiently advanced technology, is indistinguishable from magic”.
    When we scream “fantasy”, it could be we’re just not up on the technology. Also the “hard” wing seems more interested in the tech – the “nuts and bolts” – than they are in the effects that tech has on humanity (or whatever). In short, they’d be far more interested in a novel that explained all the ends and outs of cell phone technology, as opposed to a novel that simply posits the existence of the cell phone and then goes on to look at the effects on civilization. To most that’s as boring as reading a tech manual.

    Mike Giles (cd21c8)

  194. The more ‘classic’ definition of hard vs. soft SF is whether it conforms to what we think is possible with known science (not what has been done, but what fits within the framework of ‘known’ physics, etc.) today. e.g. usually any “FTL” is automatically disqualified from “hard” SF.

    My personal definitions are a bit looser. I tend to look mostly for internal consistency. Hence I hated Star Trek. If you have pure matter/energy transformation and transmission down to molecular-bond-level accuracy (transporters)….why waste time on photon torpedos, phasers, etc? Just “beam” a cubic cm of lead at something and don’t recomposit at the other end. That’s a whole lot of weapon.

    But then, you’ve got to wonder how a transporter absorbs the relative movement of a person on a moving planetary surface to a ship moving in orbit, etc. etc. It’s just bollocks.

    So even though he does posit weaponry based on physics we don’t currently understand, solar-system-sized event-horizon protective stasis fields (the shrouds), and femtomachinery when we haven’t even really dabbled at the nanotech level, I still consider Alastair Reynolds “hard” SF. He does obey the speed of light, his long-running stern-chase space battles are well thought out, etc.

    rtrski (b47753)

  195. “David Gerrold’s “War Against the Chtorr” series”

    That’s a good adventure story, but the hero is such a scumbag, I find it hard to relate.

    Dave Surls (f50267)

  196. I have a lot of the “future history by Pournelle” but I like the collaborations with Niven because he tries to rationalize the science.

    I don’t think hard SF has to obsess with technology or use only technology we know is possible, and novels like Bester’s are good examples of Science fiction in that he gives you a postulate like telepathy or teleportation and builds a society that is shaped by it. What I can’t accept in the Star Trek shows was the complete lack of rational science. The tendency to build up an inescapable dilemma and then have the Chief Engineer whip out magic to cross the streams or reconfigure the framalstatic regurgitator to produce quark rays to reverse time. They should have just had the Angel drop down and set things right.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  197. –Comment by Mike Giles — 8/10/2011 @ 5:38 am–

    A historical novel does not have to be absolutely accurate but if the Roman Legion calls in an airstrike or the Greeks sink the Persian fleet with submarine launched torpedoes then it is no longer a historical novel but fantasy.

    Science fiction should be rational. You can not have a propeller driven airplane fly to the moon and call it science fiction, and you can not orbit the sun and rewind time and call it science fiction either.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  198. usually any “FTL” is automatically disqualified from “hard” SF.

    Not by any definition I’ve ever seen.

    Milhouse (9a4c23)

  199. ” ‘I the best stories in “Men Into Space” the solutions were engineering solutions and after seeing them you slap your head and say ” I should have thought of that!” That is real science fiction.’

    LOL, no, that is engineering.”

    I agree that it was not so much an examination of the effect of future technology on society as a look at some of the problems we might encounter in the future. Two of the best episodes happened in settings that were futuristic then and are history now, the building of a space station in orbit and a ship landing on the moon. The problems and the solutions in both would still hold up well today. I consider that good science fiction.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  200. I really wanted to like the War Against the Chtorr, by David Gerrold. But there is a story arc a couple of books in, where the protagonist goes through a cult experience that I won’t describe in detail but it ended up being such a nauseating passage for the character that I can’t recommend the series as a result.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  201. –Comment by Milhouse — 8/10/2011 @ 9:30 am–

    I agree as long as some reasonable method is postulated. If a rocket just blasts up to FTL speeds than it is no longer hard SF.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  202. Consider Waldo and Magic, Inc. The first is fantasy in a technological setting; the second is science fiction despite the fantastical trappings. It’s no accident that RAH had them published as a paired set.

    Milhouse (9a4c23)

  203. Niven played with rationalizing magic. It was interesting.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  204. You know what this calls for?

    An investigamation.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  205. I agree as long as some reasonable method is postulated. If a rocket just blasts up to FTL speeds than it is no longer hard SF.

    You don’t have to actually say what the method is; you can just assume that one exists. What you can’t do is ignore the issue altogether. Having a spaceship “switch to the FTL drive” is acceptable; we assume that there is some sort of rational technology involved, even if we don’t understand it. Calling it the “Smith drive” and casually dropping in a mention of Mr Smith who invented it may make the pill easier to swallow, but it’s not necessary.

    The essence of fantasy, what distinguishes magic from technology, is that magic just works, because it’s magic and that’s what it does. Magic doesn’t need a reason why it works; technology does. It may have rules, but they’re arbitrary, because arbitrariness is magic’s nature. The moment you start explaining magic, it starts to be technology.

    Milhouse (9a4c23)

  206. Basically agree, but the “Smith Drive” should not have them traveling through normal space at FTL speeds and receiving radio or light based information, unless it is explained somehow. Star Trek was terrible this way. No consistency and purely BS science. It made suspension of disbelief very hard and the magical solutions left one feeling cheated. It is like a Western where the hero is saved by a meteor falling out of the sky and knocking the gun out of the bad guy’s hand.

    Machinist (b6f7da)


  207. The more ‘classic’ definition of hard vs. soft SF is whether it conforms to what we think is possible with known science (not what has been done, but what fits within the framework of ‘known’ physics, etc.) today. e.g. usually any “FTL” is automatically disqualified from “hard” SF.

    I rather strongly disagree. Hard SF places more of an emphasis on the tech, but definitely is allowed to do a handwave for a supposed “violation” of physics. What needs to happen is that the handwave has to be suitably reasonably explained that it is PLAUSIBLE within known physics.

    Otherwise, you’re excluding LARRY NIVEN from “Hard SF”, and that’s patently ridiculous. You also exclude a fair chunk of RAH, and that’s equally ludicrous.

    The simple fact is, there’s nothing in physics that says an FTL drive is actually -impossible-. It just says it can’t be done by conventional means — that is, any form of direct or indirect propulsion (using reaction mass or some other means to accelerate the ship).

    There are a number of postulated ways in which you might violate that stricture — one of the earliest and most unique is/was EE ‘Doc’ Smith’s inertialess drive. He didn’t need to explain HOW it was done, he just identified that inertia was *A* thing that made it impossible to accelerate faster than light. Remove the inertia, remove the Einstein Wall. Other plausible explanations include variations on hyperspace (warp gates, hyperdrives, etc.) wherein the physical limits don’t necessarily apply. Space folding, wormholes (both created “on the fly” and found in existence) as well as the “warp bubble” of ST canon, which postulates the use of a bubble of “space” which moves FTL, while the matter inside remains bound by physics as we know it. Since we don’t really have a full comprehension of what “space” is, this is plausible within existing knowledge. There’s also a postulate that there is an entire universe simultaneously in contact with our own which consists of tachyon particles in place of our own tardyon particles. The two types of particles almost never interact, so one is essentially a “ghost” to the other. Another postulated drive form would be one which converted a ship and its contents into tachyon particles, then, after a suitable transit time, it swapped ’em back.

    None of this VIOLATES the laws of physics, it simply extends them into arenas currently unproven, by reasonable, consistent, and fair means.

    I’m put in mind of Asimov’s “wronger than wrong” notion. Some things are literally impossible in terms of physics — the aforementioned (in a previous comment entry) “stacked rings” shown in Pitch Black.

    Simply physically impossible, if you know ANYTHING of orbital mechanics. But if you equate the idea of an FTL drive as being in the same class of “physics violations”, then you are wronger than wrong.

    Smock Puppet, SF Editing Board Alternate Cast Member (c9dcd8)


  208. What I can’t accept in the Star Trek shows was the complete lack of rational science. The tendency to build up an inescapable dilemma and then have the Chief Engineer whip out magic to cross the streams or reconfigure the framalstatic regurgitator to produce quark rays to reverse time.

    That was one of the better elements of DS9 — it was a lot more story-based. While it had its share of magical activity (always keeping in mind Clarke’s Dictum), it did do a great job of using the SF milieu to tell entertaining stories that weren’t directly “Star Trek”.

    One of my favorites was “In The Pale Moonlight”, in which Sisko is caught in an ethical quandary over being ruthlessly honest vs. losing the Dominion War. It uses a very nonlinear storytelling technique. Additionally good variant stories include the one that went back to ST:TOS to show another sideview of the Trouble With Tribbles episode, A piece set in a 50s pulp SF house where a black writer is frustrated at not getting his story published because the protagonist is a black starship captain, and another one that is basically about cameraderie in which Sisko and the DS9 crew set out to “win” a baseball game against a rival Vulcan captain and his ship’s crew. They are all different ways of telling stories while remaining within the bounds of the show. Not all storytelling needs be linear, didactic, or involve space battles. DS9 did a very good job of exploring other options.

    Smock Puppet, SF Editing Board Alternate Cast Member (c9dcd8)

  209. smock

    ds9 was the best star trek ever… until they lost their sh-t in around the last 2 years. i think the true sign they were screwed was when the original dax left. But it limped on for like 2 years after that, if memory serves.

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  210. You are, mind you, much, much harder on the ST mechanics than I am. There is usually a consistent backstory going on with a lot of stuff (esp. if it doesn’t involve Wesley Crusher)and which is reasonably consistent. Once they establish ‘x’ causes effect ‘y’, they usually don’t violate that stricture in any future ST story, and will often use it again where appropriate, or handwave why it’s not applicable in an instance where it seems likely to apply…

    Even the Wesley Crusher issue was somewhat resolved in a final season episode, in which (—- spoiler! —-) it is revealed that Wesley is actually some sort of proto-“Q” — a human whose mental capabilities actually transcend the limits of known science.

    Smock Puppet, SF Editing Board Alternate Cast Member (c9dcd8)

  211. Aaron, I think it certainly softened a bit in the final season (the only one without Jadzia Dax**, but it still did all right. The finale was certainly disappointing to me, but there WERE some really good season 6 and 7 eps.

    Including:

    S6E09: Statistical Probabilities

    S6E13: Far Beyond the Stars (the 50s pulp one I mentioned)

    S6E19: In the Pale Moonlight

    S6E20: His Way (an excellent examination of how the Holosuite is more than just a place to locate external-to-canon entertainment stories in)

    S7E04: Take Me Out to the Holosuite (mentioned earlier. Another “My Way” example of other ways the Holosuite might be used for storytelling)

    S7E10: It’s Only a Paper Moon (another Holosuite story)

    S7E15: Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang (another Holosuite story)

    S7E16: Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges (a Section 31 story)

    There are others that are good, but these specifically come to mind, and AFAIK, none of them rely on any of the kind of “magical solution” aka “Deus Ex Machina” type complaints you have with, say, ST:TNG or ST:V

    The DS9 series also did an excellent job of setting some stories in the TOS “Mirror Mirror” alternate universe. Another way of telling interesting stories outside of direct canon, as you can “do things” in “that” universe that violate character in “this” universe… so you can explore both the character, an alternate version of the character, and not be violating the basic personality consistency expected in any stories.

    ——————————————
    ** Blame Farrell for that, not the DS9 people — she’s the one who suddenly demanded out of her contract, forcing them to change the flow of the series in a number of ways. Not entirely bad ones, but it definitely required some tap dancing.

    Smock Puppet, SF Editing Board Alternate Cast Member (c9dcd8)

  212. I am so late to this party! Any beer left? What just some broken pretzels? O.K.,

    I like Asimov’s foundation trilogy and I robot. All of which I read after I was 21. I grew up on Asimov’s science books – the 30 volume Universe collection and other books like the Nutrino and Galaxies.

    I’ve read Orson S. Card’s Ender’s game and sequels which I enjoyed as an adult. I have read Heinlen and Bradbury and Ben bova (dueling machine and Have spacesuit will travel) as a kid.

    As much as I want Star Trek classic to be true sci-fi, it contains too much fantasy to make the cut. I agree that DS9 had a knack for varied storytelling that kept me going back. One of the stand-out episodes involved Sisko, his son and time (again with the fantasy) travel.

    felipe (2ec14c)


  213. One of the stand-out episodes involved Sisko, his son and time (again with the fantasy) travel.

    Sorry, time travel is NOT fantasy. There are a lot of different questions about it, but they are as much due to our lack of understanding of what Time is in the very first place. Near as we can figure, we perceive Time as going in a certain direction, and that’s the only reason it, and our perception of things, goes with it.

    There is not one currently known thing in the nature of the universe which indicates why time “travels” in the direction it does, or why something cannot go the opposite way.

    Yes, there is the issue of “causality paradoxes”, but since we have no idea what “causality” is, either, that cannot be claimed as rending it impossible.

    Entropy “points” time’s arrow, but Entropy is distinctly tied to our perception of time, not the other way around.

    For all we know, we just happen to be going in the same direction, by our nature, as the arrow of Entropy, and, if we better understood the process or Time and/or Entropy, might be able to step entirely outside of it, with/despite all the causality questions that we can see arising along with that notion.

    In other words, we don’t travel through time for any reason we understand at this point. But there’s nothing whatsoever demanding that we are stuck in it moving at a fixed rate in a fixed direction, and that cannot be altered…

    Smock Puppet, SF Editing Board Alternate Cast Member (c9dcd8)

  214. Well the fantasy elements, are in line with Asimov’s description of magic, of ‘any sufficiently advanced technology, to a given civilization’ but
    Roddenbery was leaning more toward allegory than
    strict fidelity to technology,

    ian cormac (81c5c2)

  215. Every Star Trek time travel story sucked. Sucked Cartman’s balls.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  216. Well, they just don’t make sense, SPQR. Time travel is a tough sell. I can’t think of a time travel story that held together properly (and I’m sorry and with all due respect to both Joan Collins and Harlan Ellison/Cordwainer Bird, I include “The City on the Edge of Forever”).

    I like Larry Niven’s story: “Rotating Cylinders and the Violation of Global Causality.” That one explains a great deal.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  217. Re: 207, 198:

    I did say “Classic” definition. As in, rather outdated, then stated I disagreed with it.

    But if you’re claiming you’ve “never” even seen the definition that way, you’re probably either much younger than I, or being intentionally obtuse just to disagree and call me “wronger than wrong”. (I could’ve made that comment to Milhouse’s earler (#74) post that said “Deepness in the Sky” was a sequel to “Fire Upon the Deep”, for example, as Deepness took place at an earlier time, although written later, with a partial character overlap (a manufactured character in Fire was constructed from the remains of one of the main characters in Deepness), it was at best a loosely related prequel. But I thought I’d be a little nicer about it, since we’re just chit-chatting here. Sheesh, does strident opinionating have to extend even to off-politics topics??

    So, in reference to “hard” SF per the “classic” definition, see for example:

    http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Hard_science_fiction

    “Some authors scrupulously eschew such implausibilities as faster-than-light travel, while others accept such plot devices but nonetheless show a concern with a realistic depiction”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_science_fiction

    “…violates the scientific understanding at the time of writing…”

    And to be fair, I could just as easily point out a contrary one that disagrees with the statement as well:
    http://www.kheper.net/topics/scifi/hard_scifi.html

    “…Despite its attempt at scientific rigor, almost all so-called Hard SF includes things that are against the known laws of physics, such as FTL drive, or conflicts current empirical evidence, such as a galactic culture teeming with civilizations”

    Of course with modern understanding of physics (using either of the prevailing schools) there are many more ways it can fit into the current framework of understanding…plus, it’s just kind of old hat to argue against anymore. But mostly its just darned fun. Now the hard/soft definition is more ‘tech/astrophysics/”hard science” fiction’ vs. ‘social/cultural/linguistic/psychological “soft science” fiction. The hard and soft tends to modify the science part, vs. the “science fiction”. Actually Campbell w/ Analog was pretty central to a lot of the more modern segregation.

    So lighten the frack up. Please. I even stated I didn’t agree with the definition. But I was not “wronger than wrong” to state that was betimes part of the classic definition. I’ve been reading SF since you probably still sucked dinner thru an umbilical.

    rtrski (f5e621)

  218. I appreciate this thread, and happy to find another lucas of nerds (like a crash of rhinos or a thief of crows).

    Mr. rtrski, I have seen discussions like the one you are engaged in end up in mild brawls at cons. Which is why I don’t like cons. But I enjoy reading different points of view.

    And I’m glad you like Vernor Vinge’s stuff. He is a great guy.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  219. Well there could be ways around the FTL barrier like the Alcubierre Drive, as improbable as it might be today.

    ian cormac (81c5c2)

  220. RE: 218…I thought it was a murder of crows?

    I kid! I kid! Yeah, I got a little wound up to be ‘fan-flamed’ when I thought I was just being communal.

    Other author suggestions very welcome. So far haven’t seen any I haven’t, um, seen.

    Oh, another suggestion of one that rather blew me away: Peter Watts, “Blindsight”. His “Leviathan” trilogy (or quad, in paperback) wasn’t bad either. And while they made an execrable movie out of Jumper I admit I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Steven Gould. His “Wildside” is still one of my all-time favorites. Like the young ‘have space suit, will travel’ Heinlein. And Cherryh’s Chanur and Atevi series(es?) :-)

    rtrski (f5e621)

  221. Have you read Richard Morgan’s “Altered Carbon”? You might like it.

    I still love Tim Powers’ stuff, though it is more “magical realism” than SF (“The Anubis Gates” is wonderful).

    Stross can be the back end of an equine during interviews, but he writes well, as you have observed!

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  222. Morgan’s work is ‘interesting’ it is scifi noir of the 25th Century, and properly adapted it would have to be NC-17,

    ian cormac (81c5c2)

  223. Well, yes, it definitely has adult content.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  224. Simon Jester, the later Tim Powers I can’t read. Stross really put me off by having Krugman endorse the Clan series of books.

    Hard SF is in the eye of the beholder … usually between from 390 to 750 nm in wavelength.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  225. Simon:

    Yes, I’ve read through the RKM books. Did like them. And love Tim Powers, although like you I think he’s unclassifiable. Only “Deviant’s Palace” sort of fit into a true science fiction mold. My favorite of all of his is probably “Declare!”, with the Last Call trilogy (esp. the middle book…Earthquake Weather? Or was that the third) as the best of those.

    Terrible that they raped his book to make the 4th Pirates movie, the book as it stood would have made a much better one. But I guess once they decided to go for the Ftn of Youth and involve Blackbeard, they had to buy the rights. So at least he got a payday out of it.

    Ian McDonald…Robert Reed (“The Remarkables” is amazing human/alien character study, very underrated, although is Veil of Stars/Gated Sky couplet is good too)…John Barnes…Eric Nylund has a good pair (Signal to Noise and Signal Shattered)….this could go on all night.

    rtrski (f5e621)

  226. Well I only read of his Laundry books, and Morgan makes Stross, seem like a Tory in his politics,

    ian cormac (81c5c2)

  227. Funny, SPQR. Greg Benford is your man, for hard SF. Galactic Center material. He is writing a new novel with Larry Niven. Lots of Greg Benford’s stuff is great: “Cosm” and “Eater” are fun. And I loved Benford and Brin’s “Heart of the Comet.”

    I adored “Declare” and I know it made Stross very, very nervous with his “Laundry” novels.

    SPQR, you need to ignore Stross’ political posturing; he really has Author’s Disease (= his opinion is Natural Law). A lot of Stross’ stuff is good (try his “Missile Gap” for a Lovecraftian view of the 1960s). K.W. Jeter’s “Infernal Devices” was fantastic (if old now, as I am getting). I am reading several “steampunk” novels to my children (Westerfeld’s “Leviathan” series, and we will be starting on Cherie Priest’s “Boneshaker” soon).

    Although I did give my oldest boy (11) the literary gateway drug: “Starship Troopers.” He is all about the Mobile Infantry now, and powered suits.

    Oh well. Better get back to work.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  228. Oh, and Tim Powers has never made a lot of money; he got a big chunk over that awful Johnny Depp vehicle. Fair enough, says I.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  229. Simon Jester, I have a copy of the original Avalon Hill “Starship Trooper” wargame.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  230. LOL SPQR…I played that too. Don’t still have it though. :(

    rtrski (f5e621)

  231. I don’t say time travel is impossible. It is another dimension and maybe we will find a way to move in it or through it, but I don’t believe someone will just pop through time and snap back without the expenditure of considerable energy, any more than I could accept someone walking down a corridor and just popping alive into another galaxy for a while and then popping back, with no instrumentality or energy expenditure. I understand the uncertainty principle provides for something like an electron to have no fixed location, only degrees of probability, but if the hero flicks off through time or space with no explanation I don’t buy that as SF. And orbiting around the sun real fast does not cut it.

    Maybe I am just too ridged in my thinking? If Gene was more interested in allegory than science that is fine, but Animal Farm is fine allegory but not science fiction.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  232. Time travel stories where causality is not an issue are not SF they are fantasy. Time travel stories where alternate timelines are created, and some people remember the “previous” timeline and others do not are fantasy. Etc. All Star Trek time travel stories suck.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  233. John Steakely, Armor has powered armor. And … just read it.

    Only time travel thing that ever made sense to me was RAH’s short story, “By His Bootstraps”; get a large sheet of paper, and draw the timelines.

    Someone should plug John Scalzi’s blog Whatever, especially his ongoing series of posts collected as The Big Idea, where another author gets to post about a new work, and what TBI there is. Some of you would also fit well into his comment threads. Others, I fear, would soon feel The Loving Mallet Of Correction.

    htom (412a17)

  234. Although overall I agree with you re: time travel, I could imagine some convincing BS along the lines of the uncertainty principle and the observer effect on single particle measurements…the one who ‘triggers’ the timeline change, because he’s interacted with / coupled to the timeline before and after, maintains some memory, somehow. He can’t not do so, any more than a photon used to measure a particle’s position (or momentum) can’t not be influenced by having reflected off of it, with the new path related to both the interaction and the prior propagation vector.

    I’d much rather have a writer make them go insane from the superposition though. I’m dark that way when they play loose with the science. Unless intended at least in part as comedy, a la the original subject of the post we’re all replying to (Eureka).

    And don’t get me started on the Star Trek movie “reboot”. OK, so it looked nice, or at least some of the cast did. Some of them did a great job of channelling their original actor equivalent counterparts (Bones and Spock in particular). But about 30 seconds after the ‘ok that was sort of fun’ feeling wore off, the execrable plot holes — even in the context of Star Dreck “science” — swallowed me whole.

    All that said: admitted guilty pleasure SF movie: “The Arrival”, before Charlie Sheen went completely off the deep end. Imperfect, low budget, threadbare plot…but strangely very fun for all that.

    rtrski (f5e621)

  235. Steakley’s “Armor” was pretty good, htom.

    Read “Falling Dragon” by Hamilton? Has another take on enhancing armor….but more bioengineered in nature. I don’t like a lot of Hamilton’s work (the big trilogy everyone raves about left me kind of cold, and his alien in Medusa/Judas seemed like a ripoff of WJW’s in Angel Station. But “FD” has been a re-read, for me, a couple of times now.

    rtrski (f5e621)

  236. Crichton’s Timescape, explained it in the way that every time, one ventures back in time, one opens
    up another alternate timeline, also one is altered, actually damaged by the experience, that explains
    why you can’t change the future, because it has already branched into a new reality, the film botched it horribly,

    ian cormac (81c5c2)

  237. Title correction: “Fallen Dragon”

    Ack, I’m threadspamming….

    rtrski (f5e621)

  238. “threadspamming”?

    A lot of interesting thoughts.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  239. SPQR! You made me laugh twice!

    What about Star Trek: The next Degradation episode where the Enterprise keeps blowing up over and over again?

    felipe (2ec14c)

  240. “All Star Trek time travel stories suck.”

    Not the one with Terri Garr.

    Dave Surls (4d6f6c)

  241. John Steakley’s Armor is one of the best SF “sleeper” novels I can think of. Most people who love it read it long after it came out as a DAW paperback first novel. If you haven’t read it and like anything by Heinlein or Scalzi or Varley or such, go get it now. If you’re more into Russ or LeGuin, maybe give it a pass….

    Kevin M (298030)

  242. Ooops, gotta run, time to reverse polarity on the deflector dish.

    Kevin M (298030)

  243. Kevin, I’m going to take your suggestion and check out Armor. Maybe I can find it at the Library.

    felipe (2ec14c)

  244. The great shame is that Steakley published very little, Armor is a great SF novel. He also wrote the more pedestrian “Vampires” that became the James Woods film.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  245. I guess Syfy is confident enough that there are enough viewers who are entertained by watching superstitious morons bump around in the dark.
    But if that’s their targeted demographic, they might want to consider another rebranding to The Superstition Channel.

    JoeW (6c9d75)

  246. At least now I can mark my calendar for the exact day I remove SyFy from my channel line-up. Tuning in to watch Eureka also got me watching Warehouse 13, Alphas and several other shows preceding/following Eureka. None of these shows are worth watching without Eureka accompaniment. Sorry SyFy, you just lost a single, professional, male age 25-35 with disposable income to spend on DvDs, merchandise and the non-essentials your advertisers pitch. I’m sure advertisers will flock to your network now that you have turned your attention to the already over saturated ghost show and wrestling markets. Perhaps you should stick to advertising for prestigious business schools like the University of Phoenix rather than hiring their graduates as your programming executives?

    Too Bad (340398)


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