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Showing posts from March, 2007

The Episode That Broke Me and Other "Crossroads II" Thoughts

In the podcast for Battlestar Galactica's first season finale, "Kobol's Last Gleaming II", Ron Moore talks about his original concept for the season-ending cliffhanger (end of act 2 and beginning of act 3):
[Baltar] comes into a room and he hears music and it's a recognizable Earth-tune ... It was Jimi Hendrix was playing, actually, and he goes, "God, I recognize that." And then somebody- or somebody s- a voice says, "You recognize that?" And he says, "Yes." And he turns and it's Dirk Benedict. (Laughs.) And Dirk Benedict said, "Hi. I'm God." And you just cut. We just cut out on that. ... that was gonna be the end of that whole storyline and at the episode. I liked it. I thought it was wacky. I didn't quite know what it meant. I thought- I was looking for a surprise.I was still infatuated with Galactica when I watched this episode and listened to the podcast, and even so Moore's words gave me pause. I was tr…

Noted Without Comment

Jane too plain for publishers:
Helen Trayler, the publisher's managing director, said: "She was not much of a looker. Very, very plain. Jane Austen wasn't very good looking. She's the most inspiring, readable author, but to put her on the cover wouldn't be very inspiring at all. It's just a bit off-putting.

...

Publishers have traditionally used a portrait of Austen by her sister Cassandra, which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. This portrait has been now been digitally adjusted to remove her nightcap, give her make-up and hair extensions for a new edition of a memoir by Austen's nephew.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Fanny Price? Thoughts on Mansfield Park, Novel and Films

ITV kicked off its "Jane Austen Season" on Sunday with Mansfield Park, an indifferent adaptation starring a good but woefully miscast Billie Piper. Mansfield Park is probably Austen's most problematic novel, and possibly her most divisive (the other contender for that title is Northanger Abbey, about which there seem to be nothing but extreme opinions. Personally, I am at a loss to understand how I can be expected to enjoy a parody of a genre that no longer exists, and which I have never read in), and most of those problems can be traced back to its main character--the dull, timid, deferential, passive, self-abnegating goodie-two-shoes, Miss Fanny Price.

In Austen fan circles, one is often made to feel a little guilty for not liking Fanny. The very point of Mansfield Park, after all, is to stress the importance of character by pitting a heroine who has it--and almost no other virtue--against a romantic rival who possesses everything but. To dislike Fanny, we're told, …

It's Not the Size, It's What You Do With It

Bad news for people who still believe Battlestar Galactica's problems have anything to do with season length:
SCI FI Channel has increased its episode order for the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica to 22 from the original 13, including a special two-hour extended episode that will air during the fourth quarter of this year and be released on DVD by Universal Studios Home Entertainment thereafter. SCI FI made the announcement at its upfront press event in New York on March 21.If, like myself, you think the argument that Galactica's writing staff--which includes veterans of such shows as Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Roswell, Smallville, Dark Angel, The Dead Zone, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer--don't know how to handle a standard-length season has long ago lost whatever credibility it might have had, this could be yet another point against coming back to the show next season.

The 2006 Nebula Award: The Novella Shortlist

By all rights, reading and reviewing this year's Nebula-nominated novellas should have been a cakewalk. There are only four nominees, after all, the longest of which, James Patrick Kelly's "Burn", I read and reviewed last year. Nevertheless, I found myself hesitant to start, and not just because one of the remaining three stories was by Michael A. Burstein, he of 'but you can't extend the release date of individual census forms from 73 to 75 years! Think of the consequences!' fame. I like novellas. Done right, they combine the best qualities of the novel and the short story, but what I expected to find on this year's shortlist were stories that had simply been allowed to go on too long, and whose excessive length would exacerbate the flaws--sentimentality, flat characterization, indifferent prose, paper-thin plots--that had blighted the novelette and short story shortlists. It's probably going too far to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this…

The 2006 Nebula Award: The Short Story Shortlist

This year's short story Nebula ballot started out with a strike against it. It would have to be an exceptional bunch of stories indeed to justify the choice to lop M. Rickert's "Anyway"--a story which effortlessly introduces a dollop of the fantastic into the life of an ordinary woman, and then stands back as that life unravels under the weight of an impossible choice--off the preliminary ballot. Unsurprisingly, the final ballot is not such a group--although it is by no means exceptionally bad either--and any attempt to evaluate its individual members and overall quality must take into account the shadow that Rickert's story, and its absence, cast. I often wonder, while in the process of excoriating yet another award ballot for aspiring to mediocrity, whether I'm not simply giving too much credit to the overall quality of the year's short fiction crop. As Dan Hartland put it in his review of a whole slew of year's best anthologies a few months ago, th…

Once Again, Good News, Bad News

E!Online's Kristin Veitch reports:
According to CW insiders, the network has not officially canceled Veronica Mars. However, here's the catch: It is currently considering a different format for the fourth season. From what I hear, that format would leap four years into the future and focus on Veronica as an FBI agent. Aside from returning star Kristen Bell (duh), the rest of the cast is yet to be determined, but it isn't likely that many of her current costars would be on hand.Even before the show's first season was over, I was hoping that the second season wouldn't follow the standard format of high school-set series and rejoin its characters after the summer. It seemed obvious to me that if the writers hoped to repeat the first season's accomplishment and tell another compelling season-long mystery, they would have to give Veronica the chance to accumulate more backstory. Half the fun of the first season, after all, was discovering Veronica's past as we …

This is Not the Post You're Looking For and Other "Maelstrom" Thoughts

Monday was the busiest day in AtWQ's history. Nearly five times as many visitors as I get on a regular day visited this site, the overwhelming majority of them coming through web searches for some variant on the phrase 'starbuck dead,' and ending up at this post (lying, at the time of this entry's writing, in seventh place for that search string)--a year-old response to the second season episode "Scar". The pleasure of watching my stats climb through the roof is somewhat undercut by the certain knowledge that 95% or more of the people who clicked through to the post didn't read more than its first sentence before realizing that they'd come to the wrong place and hitting the Back button. On the other hand, maybe that's something to be thankful for. "Starbuck is Dead, Long Live Starbuck" may very well be the most wrong-headed thing I've ever written about Battlestar Galactica, a complete misapprehension of where the show's writers …

Self-Promotion 12

My review of Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box appears in today's Strange Horizons. If you're coming here from there, you might also be interested in this post, which discusses Hill's short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, as well as Sean Stewart's novel Perfect Circle.

The 2006 Nebula Award: The Novelette Shortlist

I'm starting this overview of the Nebula short fiction nominees with the novelettes because, as usual, one or two stories on the final ballot have yet to appear online. The missing pieces are Karina Sumner-Smith's short story "An End to All Things"--which is somewhat understandable as it was a jury addition and Sumner-Smith and her publisher have only had the news for a couple of days--and Michael A. Burstein's novella "Sanctuary"--which, as I've speculated in the past, may very well be a deliberate strategy on the part of Analog's editors. So, if any AtWQ readers have pointers to either Sumner-Smith's or (I can't believe I'm writing this) Burstein's stories, I would be very grateful. Meanwhile, thoughts on the nominated novelettes:

I first read Peter S. Beagle's "Two Hearts"--which returns to the universe of Beagle's cult favorite The Last Unicorn several decades after the novel's end--when I reviewed the no…

I, Too, Am Surprised by the Existence of a Moomin Helicopter