July 21, 2013: A 17 (actually, 21) Question Science Fiction Book Meme!

The gang at http://www.sfsignal.com/ have launched another one of those irresistible SF-themed memes, what they’re calling a ” 17-question science fiction book meme for a lazy Sunday”.  I wrestled over a few of my responses, struggling with the relative worthiness of some of the titles, and finally decided to solve the problem by adding four extra questions to the meme (17 to 20) to round it out to an even twenty.  Er, plus one.

What follows are my responses.  Answer as many of the following as you can, in the comments section of this blog and over here: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/07/a-17-question-science-fiction-book-meme/#more-79721.  They’d love to read your feeback!

1. My favorite alien invasion book or series is…?


The Ophiuchi Hotline by John Varley

It’s not an alien invasion story in the traditional sense of the term but an alien invasion does precipitate the events leading up to another (indirect) alien invasion in this thoroughly engaging novel about cloning, restored memories, and a mysterious radio signal from distant space.

2. My favorite alternate history book or series is…?


Watchmen by Alan Moore.

To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of Alt. History scifi and yet, Alan Moore’s non-linear, iconoclastic take on the superhero genre stands out as one of my favorite works crossing several genres.

3. My favorite cyberpunk book or series is…?


Glasshouse by Charles Stross

Okay, it includes enough cyberpunk elements for me to make it my selection in this category.  A twisty, turny, scifi thriller with plenty of humor and suspense.

4. My favorite Dystopian book or series is…?


Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.

Unrelentingly grim yet possessed of a spirit and hope embodied by its determined protagonist.  I’d recommend it over the similar-themed, better-known The Road.

5. My favorite Golden-Age sf book or series is…?


Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

When I was a kid, my mother encouraged me to read by buying me a bunch of classic SF – Asimov, Ellison, Niven – but my favorite was Arthur C. Clarke,  and Childhood’s End is my favorite Arthur C. Clarke book.  A race of mysterious extraterrestrials visit Earth.  They bring an end to war, poverty, disease, and help usher in a golden age of peace and prosperity.  But what future plans do these alien, dubbed The Overlords, have for humanity?

6. My favorite hard sf book or series is…?


House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

I could have just as easily placed this novel in the space opera category and Iain M. Banks’s Culture series here as the works of both authors share common elements: breathtaking narratives spanning the universe peopled with colorful characters, fantastic alien races,  and mind-bending technologies. Big, brilliant ideas.

7. My favorite military sf book or series is…?


Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.

Not only my favorite military SF book or one of my favorite SF books in general but one of my very favorite books.  Period.  Every person I’ve recommended this novel to has become a John Scalzi fan.

8. My favorite near-future book or series is…?


The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon.

Maybe a bit of a cheat in that it may not have enough scifi elements to please the average SF enthusiast, but it’s got enough – the near future setting and medical breakthroughs – for me to include this poignant, inspiring, beautifully written novel here.

9. My favorite post-apocalyptic book or series is…?


The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

A “far down the road” post-apocalyptic science fiction novel in the guise of a fantasy novel chock full of allegory, literary allusions, and elusive subtext.  A challenging read, but well worth the time and effort.

10. My favorite robot/android book or series is…?


In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker.

Not robot or androids per se but immortal cyborgs, employees of The Company, charged with the task of traveling back in time in order to locate and safeguard (read: hide) artifacts and valuable items for sale in the 24th century (when/where they will be discovered). Complications arise when our heroine, Mendoza, falls in love with a 16th century Englishman.  And mortal no less!

11. My favorite space opera book or series is…


Iain M Banks’ Culture series.

Grand, brilliant, staggeringly inventive and, yes, operatic, the Culture Series stands out as a marvelous literary accomplishment.

12. My favorite steampunk book or series is…?

1The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes

A washed-up illusionist and his imposing assistant battle to save London from dark forces in Jonathan Barnes’ witty, macabre, and all-out-bizarre novel.  There are surprises a plenty in a book in which no one can be trusted, least of all our narrator.

13. My favorite superhero book or series is…?

1The Superior Foes of Spiderman by Nick Spencer

Hmmm.  Though.  This changes week to week but, right now, coming off a highly entertaining first issue, this is the series I’m most excited about.

14. My favorite time travel book or series is…?


The Forever War by Joe Haldeman.

An exceptional treatment of time dilation makes this one the runaway winner in this category.

15. My favorite young adult sf book or series is…?


Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

A seminal work of science fiction whose appeal extends well beyond young adult readers, this coming-of-age tale is set at a Battle School where, amid the training, the games, and the youthful interrelations, not all is as it seems…

16. My favorite zombie book or series is…?


Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead.

Before The Walking Dead television series became a breakout hit, there was the comic book series – smarter, grimmer and far more character-driven than the show.

17. My favorite ship-based sf book or series is…?


The Dark Beyond the Stars by Frank M. Robinson

Having grown up on ship-based science fiction (and worked on a ship-based SF series for two years), I couldn’t help but include this category – and this delightfully engaging novel centered on a shocking shipboard mystery.

18. My favorite New Wave sf book or series is…?


Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch

If we’re going to have a Golden Age category, I only think it fair we include a New Wave category as well and, as much as I loved Flowers for Algernon, Camp Concentration gets the nod here.  His refusal to enlist in military service lands our protagonist, a poet and pacifist, in a prison whose inmates are subjected to bizarre, brain-altering experiments.

19. My favorite Future Tech sf book or series is…?


Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover

Science fiction AND fantasy.  Heroes Die offers the best of both worlds in a rip-roaring adventure that explores the effects of developed entertainment technology on eager consumers – and, in turn, the media conglomerates calling the shots.

20. My favorite Otherworldly sf book or series is…?


Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

By “otherworldly”, I mean a story that takes place on a planet other than Earth – like, for instance, the colony world setting of this novel that gets taken over by the power mad former crew of a spaceship who use technological and physical enhancements to transform themselves into gods.  Fans of Stargate, take note!

21. The 3 books at the top of my sf/f/h to-be-read pile are…?

Okay.  One of each…


The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

One of my favorite SF writers.  He’s not all that prolific but his work is consistently great.

1Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

If you like your fantasy dark, darkly humorous, and action-packed, then look no further than the works of Joe Abercrombie.

1A Terror by Jeffrey Ford.

A new release by one of the most wildly imaginative authors writing today.

Okay, those were my answers.  Let’s see yours!

June 15, 2009: Hope Marty G. Is Prepping His Repertoire. A Couple Of Trade Paperback Recommendations.

Today, the writers’ room was abuzz with talk of the impending return of Golden Boy Martin Gero to the Stargate fold – for all of a week anyway. He heads back into town this weekend (We will, of course, be hitting Fuel big time in celebration) and will be back in the production offices all next week so that we can tear apart his latest script outline and, hopefully, pick his brain for the final few scripts. But that isn’t really cause for excitement. No, what we’re really looking forward to is the return of Marty G.’s expansive comedy character library – so much so that Carl jotted down some of the most memorable routines up on the white board under the heading “Martin Needs To Do”. including, my personal favorite, the eternally cheerful Topango.

Also today, work was completed that effectively transformed my house into our neighborhood Fort Knox. Window bars, gate barriers, rolling grilles, sliding shutters, and a roof mounted sniper’s nest offer security, peace of mind, and a way to ensure that nobody leaves movie night without chipping in for the pizza.

So over the past few months, I’ve been varying my enormous reading list with assorted comic books and trade paperbacks. Plenty of hits and misses among the titles (actually, many more misses than hits) but I wanted to make mention of two staggeringly fantastic ongoing series available in trade paperback.

SCALPED (volumes 1-4), written by Jason Aaron, Illustrated by R. M. Guera


Yes, you’ve heard the name Jason Aaron before because I’ve mentioned it a few times. He’s a writer who blog regular Das recommended a while back. I checked out some of his work for DC and Marvel and came away mightily impressed. But it’s his original series, Scalped, that totally blew me away. It a Noir Western focusing on hard-ass protagonist Dashiell Bad Horse and his return to Prairie Rose, a South Dakota Indian Reservation he abandoned as a teenager. Burdened by memories of the life and loved ones he left behind, he quickly becomes ensnared in the politics of the rez, typified by murder, mayhem, and mystery. Complicating matters is the fact that Bad Horse has a few secrets of his own…

The writing is sharp, raw, and unflinching. The artwork appropriately bleak and weathered, mirrors our hardened hero. It’s like a one of HBO’s better shows – in trade paperback form.

THE WALKING DEAD (Compendium 1 collecting issues #1-48), written by Robert Kirkman, Illustrated by Tony Moore, Charlie Aldrad, and Cliff Rathburn.

Walking Dead

Hyperbole aside, The Walking Dead is the greatest work of zombie fiction ever produced. Yes, apologies to George Romero and Max Brooks who have done wonderful work in the field, but Kirkman’s series trounces all undead comers with its nightmarish dystopian setting, scope of its storytelling, and incredible depth and richness of its characters. The zombie apocalypse has come and a group of survivors battle the undead and each other in their struggle for survival. Almost impossible to put down once you’ve started.

Check ’em out!

April 16, 2009: Almost a Full Script, Shanks on Set, Comic Book Round-Up






I spent the morning working on the Atlantis script and hit the 90 page mark. From the looks of things, we should have a first draft by Monday. There are a lot of BIG moments throughout and the last third of the movie will be nothing short of spectacular. Action, humor, drama, and at least one character’s life will be forever changed! Yeah, I know. I’ve been watching too many network promos.

Then, this afternoon, I was down on Stages 3 and 5 to say hi to Michael Shanks and get the update on his work south of the border on the CBS pilot Eastmans in which he shares the screen with Donald Sutherland and Jacqueline Bisset. It’s always nice to see the SG-1 alum make their return to familiar territory. A lot of fun on set. Andy Mikita was directing second unit while…

Over on Stage 4, Will Waring was directing main unit on Water. I stopped by and chatted with Justin, David, and Bobby, of course steering the conversation toward food in general and chocolate in particular.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been re-immersing myself into the wonderful world of comics. A lot has failed to impress, but some titles definitely have…

Wolverine Weapon X – Writer: Jason Aaron, Artist: Ron Garney

Issue #1

Despite the glut of Wolverine titles out there, I have to say that this first issue felt fresh and interesting. We get to see our anti-hero as a true bad-ass (in an inspired subway scene) while also beginning to deliver into his past with the Weapon X program. I’m cautiously optimistic.

Destroyer – Story: Robert Kirkman, Art: Cory Walker

Issue #1 of 5

To be honest, this book’s over-the-top violence came very close to quashing my interest. It’s so extreme it’s downright silly and, as a result, undermines the drama. Still, the basic premise in intriguing in that our dark (again) anti-hero is, in reality, a senior citizen. Some nice moments focusing on his home life hold promise, so I’ll stick around for now.

Ms. Marvel – Writer: Brian Reed, Pencils: Patrick Oliffe

Issues #35-37

A nice, tight script with a couple of surprising twists and turns including an eyebrow-raising ending, marred only by lack of understanding re: the whole Captain Marvel b-story. The way it spins off at the end of the last issue promises some dark tidings ahead.

Wonder Woman – Writer: Gail Simone, Penciler: Aaron Lopresti

Issues #26-30

Okay, to be honest, I didn’t hold up much hope for this title, mainly because I don’t find the character all that interesting and really dislike any mythology-centered storylines. Well – surprise, surprise – writer Gail Simone held my interest throughout. Even though the Greek deity-centered B-story failed to win me over (who the hell was that guy who got his heart ripped out by Zeus?), the A-story was solid enough to keep me around for the time being.

Marvels: Eye of the Camera – Writer: Kurt Busiker, Artist: Jay Anacleto

Issues #1-3 of 6

The best of the bunch! Busiek’s follow-up to the equally excellent Marvels focuses on the world of superheroes as seen through the eye of the unlikeliest of protagonists, photographer Phil Sheldon. The public perception of these heroes as shaped by an unforgiving media is fascinating but, ultimately, peripheral to the heart of the story which is Phil himself – his home life, his health, and the twilight of his career. Beautiful.