Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CSFF Blog Tour - Auralia's Colors

There are a few things you need to do if you've just ambled onto the tour at this stage. First, you need to visit Christopher Hopper's blog, which got missed off the tour list and CH is probably too nice to complain. Which is a shame, cos he got a creative little competition thing going, which you've probably missed now, but do be sure to stop by there anyway.

You should also stop by a few of the other blogs on the tour (although, ironically, some of those on the list haven't posted...). Don't miss John Ottinger's offerings, which include both review and interview.

Then you should probably look at the book's website, the author's blog, and then check out Auralia's Colors at amazon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Auralia's Colourful Tuesday Tunes

CSSF Blog Tour

At this point in the month I am contractually obliged to write something which could be construed by some as ‘mildly amusing’ and which has a tenuous link to Jeffrey Overstreet’s Auralia’s Colors.

And, as it's Tuesday, I will be doing so through the medium of song. A rainbow medley of songs, going something like this:

Nena - 99 Red Balloons. Because you can't beat a bit of cheesily inoffensive 80s pop.

REM - Orange Crush. This was REM on the cusp of the greatness that followed Out of Time.

Yello - The Race. Swiss electronica. Who knew?

Kermit the Frog - It's Not Easy Being Green. Muppet.

New Order - Blue Monday. Over 7 minutes long, biggest selling 12 inch single of all time, remixed and reissued every year since 1983. Or so it seems.

Moloko - Indigo. You see that Róisín Murphy? No? Well, she was in Moloko anyway.

Prince - Purple Rain. Yeah, well you come up with a good tune for 'violet' then.

Sci-Fi Song of the Week

I was a bit hard pushed for a colourful sci-fi song, but I think this should do the trick.

Oh yes, nearly forgot - there's a blog tour or something going on. Go here:

Brandon Barr Jim Black Justin Boyer Grace Bridges Jackie Castle Carol Bruce Collett Valerie Comer CSFF Blog Tour D. G. D. Davidson Chris Deanne Jeff Draper April Erwin Marcus Goodyear Andrea Graham Jill Hart Katie Hart Timothy Hicks Heather R. Hunt Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Kait Karen Carol Keen Mike Lynch Margaret Rachel Marks Shannon McNear Melissa Meeks Rebecca LuElla Miller Mirtika or Mir's Here Pamela Morrisson Eve Nielsen John W. Otte John Ottinger Deena Peterson Rachelle Steve Rice Cheryl Russel Ashley Rutherford Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder James Somers Rachelle Sperling Donna Swanson Speculative Faith Jason Waguespac Laura Williams Timothy Wise

Friday, January 18, 2008

Rubbish stories, saviour siblings and unlikely superheroes

I have spent my writing time over the last couple of days working on a short story which hasn't worked. The short story is still a genre which baffles me. I can do short-shorts, blast an idea out in 500 words, but most of the contests I’m considering ask for about three times that, which is way beyond what I can get to at the moment.

There again, I had the same problem when I started attempting novels – the first few chapters would be ok, an interesting story sprinkled with witty one-liners, but then I’d find I had used all my ideas, lose the plot, so to speak, and end up waffling until finally realising it was all crap and giving up.

A couple of those abandoned in a desk drawer somewhere and I finally managed to put something of novel length together that I thought was far enough from rubbish to release on the world.

Practice, as they say, makes slightly better.

It's kind of a shame I haven't got to grips with it yet, because there's plenty of real life material for sf stories at the moment: two UK universities have been given research licences to start work creating human-animal hybrid embryos; along similar lines, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill currently going though Parliament will also allow the creation of "saviour siblings", essentially genetically engineered kids created to provide healthy tissue for a sick sibling.

Both of these things have been opposed by some Christian groups, but I'm more interested in the fact that, well, if a saviour sibling isn't a cool short sf character, I don't know what is. If I was a better writer, maybe I could do a nice, thought-provoking piece about that. I may yet give it a try anyway.

I'm probably more likely to write about the hybrid embryo that accidentally developed into... HeiferMan! Part man, part cow, Britain's latest super hero has the amazing ability to stand in fields for a long time, know when it's going to rain, and be slightly inconvenient to ramblers.

Well, practice, as they say...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Have you seen a blowfish driving a sports car?

And so begins Season 2 of Torchwood. Hopefully this opening line is a precursor to a Torchwood that doesn't take itself too seriously, and concentrates on entertaining, like big bro Doctor Who.

That said, I am raising no expectations at this stage as to whether it has addressed the shortfalls of series one. I will almost certainly stay tuned, if only because it's on in Heroes' old slot, which, coming after Jericho finishes elsewhere, makes for a good evening's telly.

Anyway, the opening episode: a smidge predictable at times, but, yes, entertaining. I may have chuckled a couple of times. Jack is a bit less angsty having resolved his issues with the Doctor, and a bit more like the Captain Jack we first met. I liked Captain John, but I can't help wondering how long I can watch him before wanting to actually watch Spike. (I don't think there was any intention to hide his Spikey origins; unless the 'sewer chic' comment and his enquiry as to the whereabouts of the blonde were meaningless coincidences.)

Unfortunately, Captain John's soundbite from next week's trailer suggests that one of my gripes with the first series hasn't gone away:
"It's all sex, sex, sex with you people isn't it?"
Then again, maybe they'll just have a laugh about that too.

Dang, I said I wasn't going to do that...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Pale Thin God

It's not really science fiction, but I like this story, by Mike Resnick, the world's most decorated short sf author.

I mention it today because the crew at The Sci Phi Show deserve a shout out for putting together an audio presentation of it. Personally I'm not sure the voice effects add anything to it, but there are versions available with and without the effects available for download here.

I definitely recommend checking it out. It'a a worthwhile way to spend 7 minutes 59 seconds anyway.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The obligatory New Years post... which I pointlessly resolve to post on my blog more often...

No, of course, that would be silly. But there are one or two things I do intend to do this year:

Write more often. I'm not going to say every day, because that's asking for trouble. I will try to write a couple hundred words every day - mainly to flesh out the story of Project Seven - but sometimes there are just more important things to do. Like:

Read the Bible. I've been slacking on this too. I'm actually trying out a few Bible podcasts, so I can listen when stuck in traffic, but I need to find a reader whose voice and/or accent doesn't start to irritate me. (I know that's not a very good way to look at it, but there you go.)

I guess that will do as far as this blog is concerned. You don't really want to hear about the personal lifestyle changes I would like to make, do you?

Oh yes, it's Tuesday isn't it? Time for one of these then:

Sci-fi Song of the Week

I tried to find one that was New Year-related, but the closest I could think of was Year 3000 by Busted. Not my usual genre, but it is kinda fun.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tuesday Tunes: Radio 1 Established 1967

I love a good cover version. Especially the fantastically bizarre cover versions that take a well known song off in a completely unexpected direction. It doesn't really matter whether they work or not most of the time, I just think they're great fun.

And so, when Radio 1 celebrated it's 40th anniversary a few months ago by inviting 40 of today's greatest artists to cover 40 years of hits, I was hoping for a CD compilation without even hearing most of the tracks.

Lucky then, that I got a copy for Christmas.

The compilation is a little heavy on trendy indie bands, including some with whom I have only a passing acquaintance; but there's also Robbie, Kylie, and the largely pointless Girls Aloud fighting pop's corner.

It starts off with the first track played on the station - The Move's Flowers in the Rain, performed by Kaiser Chiefs - and delivers a song from each year up to 2006.

For me the highlights are the more insane versions: Careless Whisper by Gossip; Madonna's Crazy for You given a Groove Armada makeover; Hard-Fi doing Britney's Toxic; The Streets' rendition of Elton's Your Song is so bad it's good; and the ultimate crazy cover must be Armand van Helden and Mika teaming up to destroy Can't Stand Losing You (originally by The Police).

Even the less out there covers are mainly good; Kylie doing Love is the Drug; Klaxons covering No Diggity and Foo Fighters rocking out Band On The Run make songs I wasn't previously bothered about, well, more enjoyable.

In fact, I think there are, at most, two dodgy tracks out of the 40. One is a song I don't know the original of and am pretty apathetic towards the cover; the other is by Girls Aloud. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind Girls Aloud doing their own stuff; it's largely inoffensive pop music which I am happy to allow a place in my life. But they sapped the life out of The Pretenders' I'll Stand By You a few years ago, and pretty much do the same to Teenage Dirtbag here. These sort of things give cover versions a bad reputation - thankfully, the rest of the compilation more than makes amends.

That reminds me: The Pretenders' Don't Get Me Wrong is given the Lily Allen treatment - not a huge change like some, but the Lily Allen treatment is just too great not to mention. There are some other classic tunes given worthy renditions - Teenage Kicks; Bowie's Sound and Vision; and Stereophonics doing You Sexy Thing to name a few...

I am fairly sure there must be something for everyone in this compilation. Look:

Sci-Fi Song of the Week today is the only sci-fi related track on Established 1967. Covered by The Pigeon Detectives, it was originally by Huey Lewis and The News, and is the album's featured track for 1985. The year when it was, of course, the theme for one of the biggest time travel movies of all, er, time...