Friday, August 14, 2009

Links Round-Up (BSG Movie, New in Steampunk, Singularity Update, Flash Forward, the End of the Universe)

There's talk now of yet another remake of Battlestar Galactica-this one for the big screen, and to be directed by Bryan Singer.

I'm profoundly unexcited by this idea. The concept wasn't that great the first time, and it wasn't any better the second (though it admittedly looked great while being mediocre).

Next up, io9 offers a round-up of upcoming writing in the steampunk genre.

Also of particular interest at io9:

* a piece on a panel at the recent Worldcon titled "The Singularity: Are We Getting Any Closer?" which featured Jo Walton and Robert Charles Wilson (whose Darwinia, incidentally, was one of my first exposures to the idea of the Singularity as an SF trope). Walton (who earlier wrote about the challenge it poses for science fiction writers over at Tor.com) comes across as particularly skeptical, and I think she has a point. A little more than two decades on computers are faster and much more pervasive, and software is more versatile and capable (as our robotics demonstrate), our knowledge about the human brain more developed, but I think it's hard to point to some truly unambiguous bit of evidence clearly showing that we are, as Henry Markham promised, ten years away from a functioning artificial human brain-and I have to wonder if, like the commercially viable exploitation of fusion power, that goal won't forever be decades away.

* a piece on the upcoming TV series version of Robert J. Sawyer's Flash Forward, and in particular the softening of the futuristic look and feel, which, the producers are admitting, comes down to the problem that too much of the potential audience is put off by science fiction that actually looks like science fiction (a tendency I discussed at some length in "The Network Science Fiction Boom-and Bust" last June, in part because it's just so tiresome).

And finally, by way of m.c. demarco, there's been word that Jim Baen's Universe, perhaps the boldest attempt to launch an old-fashioned science fiction magazine in a long time, is closing. As editor Eric Flint explains in a note dated August 1, the April 2010 issue will be the last, and the problem seems to have been the one I predicted last year: "In a nutshell, we were simply never able to get and retain enough subscribers to put us on a sales plateau that would allow us to continue publishing."

Still, I'm sorry to hear the news.

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