Friday, January 30, 2009

1-30-09 Couch Potato Corner

Neil Jordan (Crying Game, Interview with a Vampire) will direct the movie version of Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book.

The original F. Scott Fitzgerald story "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (the story, not the Brad Pitt movie) is available as a free audiobook here.

Legend of the Seeker has been renewed for a 2nd season, and the episodes are now available on if you missed any.

SF Signal has a huge list of recently released free fiction online.

Terry Pratchett's novel, Nation, is being adapted for the London stage.

1-30-09 Science/Technology Roundup

Just as the switch from incandescent to fluorescent lights is starting to happen, it looks like LED lights are about to arrive. New ways of building the lights make them cheap enough to be practical, and they last 10 times as long for 1/3 the power of a fluorescent, without any mercury in the bulb.

Researchers have developed a new semiconductor ink that will allow for flexible monitors.

Technology Review and CNet Crave both have articles on developments toward making an invisibility cloak.

The New York Times has an article explaining why people in the US can't just waive their cellphones to pay for things. It's not technology in the way (since they can do it in Japan), it is people arguing over details.

CNet Green has an article on using geothermal systems instead of a furnace to heat buildings.

Studies using a patient's own stem cells to reset their immune system seem to be reversing MS symptoms.

NASA has released a video tour of the ISS on YouTube. It is in 4 parts.

An inventor has made a pedal-powered submarine modeled after dolphin movement (that looks like a small whale) he plans to use to cross the Atlantic later this year.

Scientists have developed a new hybrid nuclear system that burns up waste.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Ashes to Ashes (the UK sequel to Life on Mars) airs on BBC America starting March 7th. SciFi Wire and Futon Critic have sneak peeks at the show.

SciFi Wire has a clip from Eureka, showing the new character.

Distance Learning Net has a list of the Top 100 Science Fiction Blogs. There are some really good ones there, some I've never seen, and generally way too many for me to keep track of regularly.

The latest issue of StarShipSofa has free audio fiction by Ken MacLeod (and others).

Fox is planning a movie version of The A-Team, to be produced by Ridley and Tony Scott. I actually enjoyed the series back in the 80s (in a sort of dumb fun way), but I think this is going to be BAD.

The US Postal Service is considering switching to a 5-day delivery schedule instead of 6 (although Saturday may not be the day dropped).

Someone who has read more of the listed books than I have rants that the recent 1000 Books Everyone Must Read (and especially the SF/F books on the list) is a bad list. I agree. Just from the ones I know, there are quite a few missing, and some of the ones that are there are miscategorized or just not necessary for "everyone".

The annual Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthology has come to an end. See comments at Bibliophile Stalker, TOR, and Locus.

io9 has a clip from a new BBC3 comedy called Being Human, about a vampire, werewolf and ghost who share an apartment in Bristol. has an article about stretchable electronics.

CNet Crave shows we are one step closer to teleportation. Time has an article about this too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


New scifi pilot orders to baffle your minds: a new V series from the creator of 4400 (sources: Zap2It and SciFi Wire), Witches of Eastwick, Day One, Human Target, etc.

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson will be coming out from Tor Books in June, but he has put it online as a free download under a Creative Commons license now.

Michael Shanks told SciFi Wire that he will have a cameo in the Stargate: Universe pilot and will appear in a 3rd SG-1 movie.

Red Dwarf is returning to the UK for a new Easter special. No word on if/when it may play in the US.

John Barrowman will be writing a Torchwood comic.

io9 has images of a house in Germany that looks like some alien organism in a glass square.

Wired has a couple of cool gadgets: a USB stake that monitors soil conditions to save the lives of plants owned by people with brown thumbs (like me), and a camera on a 3-foot flexible cable for finding lost objects in hard-to-reach places.

Monday, January 26, 2009


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman has won the Newbery Medal. (Making it the only winner I've read prior to the announcement. Strangely enough, I think that I've seen more movie adaptations of winners than I've read.) Sources: Locus announcement, Neil Gaiman's reaction post, Tor announcement, and Wikipedia list of winners.

John Scalzi has posted the audio files for the rest of his San Francisco readings.

Starting in March, Scrubs will move from Tuesdays at 9 to Wednesdays at 8.

i09 has a cartoon picture of 70s TV scifi characters (although at least one was actually early 80s). I'm trying to figure out how bad it is that I recognized most (but not all) of them.

The Easter Doctor Who movie may be delayed due to a shipping mishap.

DVRs for the week:
Mon 6pm Kyle XY & The Closer
Mon 7pm Trust Me (pilot episode - still considering whether to watch)
Mon 8pm House
Tues 7pm Leverage
Tues 9pm Scrubs & Fringe
Wed 9pm Lost
Wed 10pm Life on Mars
Thu 7pm Burn Notice
Thu 9pm CSI & Supernatural
Thu 10pm Eleventh Hour & Private Practice
Fri Monk, Psych & Battlestar Galactica
Sat Legend of the Seeker
Sun SuperBowl (the one time per year where I watch the commercials and skip the show)

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Michelle Ryan (Bionic Woman) will appear in the Doctor Who Easter special (there have been rumors she might be the next companion).

The Oscar nominees have been announced. I think I'm at an all-time low for number I've seen (even counting special effects and animated categories, I've seen 2 nominated films).

UK scientists have developed a topical cream that stops virus replication and transmission if used within a week before exposure to Herpes. The research could lead to a vaccine or help for other viruses.

SciFi Wire has an article on long-delayed sequels. It seems funny they are making it sound like a competition over which fans waited the longest, when some of their examples are for books where a sequel was never expected.

Russia announced this is the last year for space tourists.

CNet has an interesting article about an invention that turns trash into energy through gasification. It takes up about 3 parking spaces, looks like a truck, and turns the trash from a building into the energy it needs.

Last Friday, John Scalzi was at Borderlands Books in SF for a very funny reading session with Mary Robinette Kowal. (I was there, but way in the back, so you can't see me in the photo he posted.) If you missed it, he has started to post excerpts on his blog: The Petmaster 2000 improv and Alternate History Search Results are available now with more to come later.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration Day!

Here's the text of President Obama's speech.

New research on graphene will allow for bendable electronics. Sources: BBC and CBC.

Techcrunch has photos of a prototype touchscreen tablet.

Yesterday was Edgar Allen Poe's 200th birthday, and the New York Times had a slideshow of historic documents.

Foodproof has some great geeky cake pictures.

Catherine Asaro has posted her Nebula-nominated novella on her Facebook page.

Comedy Central will be starting a fantasy spoof series in April.

Whoopi Goldberg will be starring in an online SF series called Stream.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Roland Emmerich has been named the director of the movie version of Isaac Asimov's Foundation books. Now I just want to know who is writing the screenplay. SF Signal has a quote from Variety and comments.

The Watchmen case has finally been settled and it will be released on the original March 6th date. Sources: Zap2It, SciFi Wire, Techdirt.

SF Signal links to a bunch of free fiction that has just been released, including some wonderful classic novels.

Escape Velocity has released 3 issues as free downloads in PDF format.

DVRs for the week:
Mon 6pm Kyle XY
Mon 8pm Big Bang Theory & House
Mon 830 How I Met Your Mother
Mon 9pm 2.5 Men & 24
Tue 7pm Leverage
Tue 9pm Fringe
Tue ??? inauguration coverage (see here for some of the options)
Wed 9pm Lost (2-hour premiere from 9-11 with 1 hour recap special at 8)
Wed 10pm CSI:NY
Thu 7pm Burn Notice
Thu 8pm Bones (2-hour ep)
Thu 9pm CSI, Supernatural & Grey's Anatomy
Thu 10pm Eleventh Hour & Private Practice (possibly also The Beast #2)
Fri 6pm Monk
Fri 7pm Psych
Fri 8pm Ghost Whisperer
Fri 9pm Battlestar Galactica
Fri 10pm Numb3rs
Sat SYN Legend of the Seeker
Sun --nothing--

Friday, January 16, 2009


Scott Bakula and Chevy Chase will be guest starring on at least 3 episodes of Chuck later this season.

Stargate: Universe has cast 4 more characters. No big names, but a couple familiar "oh hims".

Thursday, January 15, 2009


New iTunes songs may not have copy protection, but they do have tracking information. Each song contains account information of the owner.

Microsoft has a new phone app that turns the camera and WiFi into a barcode reader that links to information. Sources: istartedsomething analysis (courtesy of slashdot) and CNet article about the amusing origins.

The rules for nominating Nebula awards have been changed. I'm curious to see how this will change the selected works in the next few years.

This year the UK and US airings of Torchwood will only be a few hours apart, but we'll have to wait until summer.

UK scientists have found a way to spur the body to produce more stem cells for repairing tissue.

CNet has an article about a new puzzle game that looks great: KenKen. It can be played online at the NY Times.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


RIP Patrick McGoohan. The actor best known as The Prisoner (although he had many other great roles in his long career) died yesterday at 80.

RIP Ricardo Montalban. The actor best known as Kahn or Mr. Roarke (although, again, he played a lot of great roles in his career) died this morning at 88.

John Scalzi announced today that he will be a creative consultant for Stargate: Universe.

Sanctuary will be returning for a 2nd season later this year. No date was given, but the 1st season started in October, so that would be a good guess. (This isn't a surprise, but I'm giving confirmation since I was asked.)

Dorchester Publishing will start offering their books as eBooks.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


John Scalzi has a discussion in his blog today of movies that made you laugh uncontrollably. Reading the comments is bringing back great memories.

Speaking of John Scalzi, he will be in San Francisco on Friday night with Mary Robinette Kowal. I missed their panel at Worldcon, but heard it was funny. Anyone want to join me for their reading?

EW has a picture of Greek's new character.

Scariest health article of the week: Hormone replacement therapy is shown to shrink the brains of older women. Sources: CNN and BBC

SciFi Wire has an interview with Andrew Stanton about John Carter of Mars.

SciFi Wire also has a clip of the new show Warehouse 13 (coming in July).

Microsoft released a beta version of Windows 7 last week, and there are lots of articles now:
- Betta fish on the desktop of the beta release was deliberate (and cute)
- Ars Technica has an in-depth tour of the features
- Q&A about Microsoft plans for Windows 7
- Photogallery at ZDNet.

One more note from the CES - PC Magazine lists their favorite gadgets.

The Philip K. Dick Award nominees (for best original paperback release) have been announced. I haven't read any of them, but one was already on my TBR list.

Monday, January 12, 2009


The Preliminary ballot for the Nebula Awards has been released.

I found 2 lists for genre movies coming in 2009: io9 lists the big ones, and iconocritic lists 9 unknown ones.

There's lots of great new tech news from the Consumer Electronics Show:
- Wireless USB is coming
- CNet has a slideshow (things seen at the show focus)
- Wired also has a slideshow (gadget focus)
- New laptops shown
- USB 3.0 discussed
- CNet Crave article
- Polaroid is back as a digital camera with built-in printer
- Mead has a telescope "for dummies"

DVR settings for the week:
Mon 6pm Kyle XY
Mon 8pm Big Bang Theory
Mon 830 How I Met Your Mother
Mon 9pm 2.5 Men
Tues 7pm Leverage
Tues 9pm Scrubs
Wed 10pm CSI:NY
Thu 8pm Bones & My Name is Earl
Thu 9pm CSI, Supernatural & Grey's Anatomy
Thu 10pm Eleventh Hour & Private Practice
Fri 6pm Monk (repeats at 9)
Fri 7pm Battlestar Galactica (repeats at 9:04) & Psych (repeats at 10)
Fri 8pm Ghost Whisperer
Fri 10pm Numb3rs
Sat SYN Legend of the Seeker
Sun - nothing

Friday, January 9, 2009


A company providing DRM authentication for a portion of Fictionwise downloads is shutting down at the end of the month. They are replacing the affected titles, but I recommend anyone with a Fictionwise bookshelf check if their titles are OK before 1/31. See: Article from Techdirt and FAQ from Fictionwise.

There is a new database online for SF/F/H book reviews.

The first test flight of a jet using a 50-50 blend of jet fuel and algae-based fuel went better than expected. Wired has an article cautioning that this may not be as good as it sounds.

Wired has a great article about an inventor who made a generator that runs on used cooking oil. Used by restaurants that deep fat fry, it could save $1,000 a month.

Battlestar Galactic returns to TV next Friday. Along with catching up on the last couple episodes I've missed, I also need to watch the webisodes at

The Norwegian podcast hit legal difficulties, so we still have to wait for Beatles music online.

Swoosie Kurtz (Pushing Daisies) will be guest starring on Heroes this season in an episode written by Bryan Fuller.

DVRs for tonight:
6pm Stargate: Atlantis (series finale)
7pm Sanctuary (season finale)
8pm Ghost Whisperer
9pm Monk (also plays at 6pm)
10pm Numb3rs & Psych (also plays at 7pm)

Thursday, January 8, 2009


No details yet, but Joss Whedon is planning more for Dr. Horrible.

Brannon Braga (producer for Flash Forward) indicates that each season (assuming it makes more than one) would have a new flash event.

If, like me, you were interested in the Farscape comic but weren't able to get it in the 5 days before it sold out, then you'll be relieved to see they are reprinting it.

F&SF Magazine is changing to bi-monthly publications.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm My Name is Earl
9pm Grey's Anatomy (I don't know why I list this when I'm so far behind)
10pm Private Practice (new night)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Nominations have begun for the 2009 Hugo awards (which will be voted by members of this year's Worldcon). I need to do some reading. Science Fiction Awards Watch is tracking threads where people publicize their eligible works. Other recommendation lists are available at: NESFA, LiveJournal, and SF Awards Watch main list.

It looks like we may need to wait for the DVD to see the final 3 episodes of Pushing Daisies. ABC pulled it from tonight's schedule at the last minute and has not rescheduled it.

i09 talks about the new site for SciFi Wire and what the change means. So far, the main impact for me was having to change my RSS feed location.

SciFi Wire interviewed Joss Whedon and has posts about Dollhouse and a new horror movie.

Potential DVR for tonight:
9pm History Channel Special: First Apocalypse (may include interview with David Brin)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Beatles songs are now available for free through a Norwegian podcast (available through iTunes).

Amazon has partnered with Roku to deliver all their Unbox movie downloads to the Netflix box on-demand.

SciFi Wire takes a look at midseason genre shows - worth looking at to remember when things are coming back (part 1 is network, part 2 is cable). I'm looking forward to 7 out of the 11 shows, and I might watch the pilot for another.

The New York Times has a slideshow of Postcards from Mars with beautiful pictures.

The BBC has an article about a new approach to powering a space elevator (or, as it calls it, "getting into space by broomstick"). has an article about the short-term (next year or 2) future of commercial spaceflight. also has a calendar of events to watch for in the night sky in 2009. (I wonder how many of these I will actually remember to look up for.)

Neatorama lists 10 scifi books that appeal to non-geeks. I've read and loved 5, and another 3 have been on my TBR pile for ages, so I think it is a decent list.

Wired has a movie guide for genre films being released in 2009. I'm really looking forward to several of these, and they include a bunch I'd never heard of before.

Wired also has a list of the Top 10 Things Launched into Space in 2008.

The Mac just celebrated its 25th anniversary, and Wired has a photo timeline in their retrospective.

Apple announced today they are dropping DRM from iTunes downloads (upgrading your current songs to DRM-free format will cost .30 each per CNet) and changing their pricing structure (songs will vary from $0.69 to 1.29 instead of all being .99). BBC commentary on the announcement.

Orbit is now offering one eBook per month for $1 (at the end of the month it will go back to the regular price). Mobi is definitely supported, but I'm not sure of other formats.

DVR for tonight:
7pm Leverage (TNT)
9pm Scrubs (ABC - 1 hour premiere)

Friday, January 2, 2009


The new Doctor Who has been announced as Matt Smith (not Paterson Joseph like everyone was betting). He will be the youngest Doctor (at 26). I haven't seen him in anything yet. Sources: The UK Telegraph, Zap2It, Futon Critic.

RIP Pat Hingle. The longtime character actor best known as playing Commissioner Gordon in 4 Batman movies has died at 84.

Terry Pratchett is now a knight.

British scientists have developed a molecule that coats and neutralizes undesirable substances in the bloodstream, including medications that are no longer needed, poisons, alcohol, and venom. In 3 minutes (the time it takes to circulate), the substances can effectively be removed from the bloodstream.

Grape seed extracts are proving successful in killing leukemia cells without damage to normal cells.

There is nothing new on TV tonight.