Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm Still Here

I'm still around, and trying to keep up with posting things on here as of late. I lost a good portion of my reading time as of late, smack dab in the middle of "Monster Hunter International," a 750-page novel. In addition to losing some of that time, I received the ebook from a Library Thing member give away called "24 Bones," which will in all likelihood be the next book I actually review here. And I should soon be getting the book "Earth is Ours" as well. Look for those next three books to be the next to show up here.

The Renaissance Faire season is quickly drawing to a close--at least here in the northern climes of North America, though I do have some impressions of some of the ones I have been to that I haven't yet posted, and that is also on my to-do list. That's quite alright, as geekdom doesn't die just because the temperature drops, it just heads inside. So there are some comic and writing conventions in the northern clime within driving distance this fall. I won't be going to all of them, nor probably even close to a high percentage of them, but I will be doing at least one, maybe two.

It's the season of Halloween, which has me a little excited. I'm not a blood-and-guts type of person, but Halloween can be fun. It's the one time of the year where you can laugh in the face of death and say I'm a survivor. I'm the type of person who loves going in to Halloween Express and seeing all of the cheesy Halloween decorations they have, and have a Halloween village to set up on display. I would convert the front yard into a graveyard if I had the money to spend to do it right. I'd love to see the movie "Zombie Land" but again, with time and money (mostly time) being what they are, we don't see a lot of movies in the theatres--we still have a couple of NetFlix movies on the counter where they've sat for the past couple of months.

Unfortunately, the lack of time has really meant that I didn't get to watch much of Eureka (a show I just started getting into this year, and now I want to go back and try to get caught up on) or Warehouse 13 as I would have liked. I'm hoping that changes with the season premiere of Sanctuary (again, another show I'm just getting in to, though not as much to get caught up on) and Stargate Universe. I haven't been much into Stargate in the past, but I'm willing to give it a shot. And of course, what I'm really looking forward to is the reimagining of V. Here's to hopefully finding the time.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Des Moines Renaissance Faire

If you'd like to go to a Renaissance Festival, but you just feel that they tend to be too large and too overwhelming, the Des Moines Renaissance Faire may be for you. It's a small faire, and everything is within easy walking distance. The grounds are 16 acres, and it is a permanent location for the faire, with buildings on site, as well as a living history area with tents. And there is much interactivity for faire goers.

As a smaller faire, though, you have fewer chances to go. It runs three weekends in September.

There are over 50 vendors (food and shops) at the faire for your eating and shopping pleasure, so it's easy to find what you're looking for and not getting lost in the process. It also makes it easier to go back to a particular vendor if you can't find what you want elsewhere.

There are ten different venues for entertainment at the faire, though one of them is a "picnic shelter," and some offer no seating at all, and are sort of hard to find even with a map of the grounds and having walked around the grounds a couple of times. This makes some of the entertainment indistinguishable from some of the activities that you could do yourself. Some of the entertainment seems to be more "spur of the moment" or ill-planned out. We tried going to one entertainment event a few minutes before it was scheduled to begin--a singing group--only to see no patrons there, and just some of the performers sitting around talking, so we left. When we walked by later, we saw that they were up on stage singing, but I wouldn't be able to tell you if anyone was listening to them or not. Because things seemed to be ill-planned and/or ill-timed, there were things we probably would have gone to see but otherwise chose not to.

However, the faire does have a joust, and a children's area. They had jugglers, and comedic plays, and musicians, etc. So, there should be something for everyone when you go.

They also had a castle facade--something that is often times missing from some renaissance festivals, and some tower facades. And they also had a torture chamber/dungeon tour that you could go on as well--something that none of the other faires I have been to have had.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Survivors--Coming Soon to BBC America.

The idea isn't original or unique, which would be one strike against this program. The concept has been hashed and rehased on TV, books, and movies in the past. It is based on the novel by Terry Nation, which TV series based on novels does appear to be the "in thing" right now. This is also a remake of the 70s series as well.

Still, it will soon be coming to BBC America (no idea when), and it may be worth checking out.

You can go to the BBC homepage for Survivors to learn more information and to play the interactive game to see what kind of survivor you would be.

From the BBC page:
Imagine being the only survivor of a disease that kills every member of your family, that kills lovers, strangers, friends, nearly everyone you've ever met.

You are among the lonely few to live and now you must start over in a strange new world where everything that was once safe and familiar is now strange and dangerous.

Set in the present day, Survivors focuses on the world in the aftermath of a devastating virus which wipes out most of the world's population. What would we do? How would any of us cope in a brave new world where all traditional 21st Century comforts - electricity, clean running water, advanced technology - have disappeared?

These are the questions faced by the bewildered but resilient group of survivors at the centre of the drama. It is an opportunity for new beginnings, but with no society, no police and no law and order, they now face terrible dangers - not just the daily struggle for food and water but also the deadly threat from other survivors.

"Survivors is about what it means to be human," explains writer and executive producer Adrian Hodges. "It asks questions about our nature and confronts us with our deepest fears. When everything else is stripped away, would we band together and find the best in ourselves, or would we fall apart and retreat into barbarism and savagery? Survivors is about adventure, fear, love, loyalty and friendship. But above all, it's about new hope."

Survivors, by Adrian Hodges is a re-imagining of the classic 1970s BBC drama series which was based on the novel by Terry Nation. It launched in April 1975 and ran for 38 episodes over three series.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

So You Say You Wrote a Story

Since I need extra time to complete my next book (713 pages) before I can review it here, I've decided to post about an author's search engine instead.

So, you've just completed your first story, but now don't know where to turn.

Where can you submit your short story, novelette, or novella to?

This has been a sticking point for myself, at the least. I just didn't know where I could turn to.

Check out Story Pilot . They feature a useful tool to help you find a market for your science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy, or horror stories.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Upcoming TV series

It's September, and that means a new slate of television shows to watch.

And it all begins next week.

September 10
Vampire Diaries
CW, Thursdays
Based on L.J. Smith’s novel series of the same name, this new entry from the CW follows the life of Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) who is the object of desire of two vampire siblings (played by Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder).

September 23
ABC, Wednesdays
Three very different women find themselves drawn together by a mysterious man who unleashes unique powers in each of them. Inspired by the popular movie, "The Witches of Eastwick" and on the novel of the same title by John Updike.

September 24
Flash Forward
ABC, Thursdays
When a mysterious event causes the entire world to black out, humanity is given a glimpse into its near future, and every man, woman and child is forced to come to grips with whether their destinies can be avoided or fulfilled. Adapting award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer's revolutionary novel, executive producers David S. Goyer (visionary co-writer of "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight") and Brannon Braga ("24," "Star Trek: Enterprise") invite you to embark on a journey to answer the question, "if you knew what your future held, what would you do?"

October 2
Stargate Universe
SyFy, Fridays
Stargate Universe follows a band of soldiers, scientists and civilians, who must fend for themselves as they are forced through a Stargate when their hidden base comes under attack. The desperate survivors emerge aboard an ancient ship, which is locked on an unknown course and unable to return to Earth. Faced with meeting the most basic needs of food, water and air, the group must unlock the secrets of the ship's Stargate to survive.

November 3
ABC, Tuesdays
The long anticipated remake of the 1980s mini-series "V." Aliens finally make contact, appearing in large ships over many of earth's largest cities (never a good sign). Fortunately, invasion is not imminent, and the aliens appear to be friendly. Unfortunately, things are not always what they appear to be.

TV shows returning include:

September 12
Robin Hood
BBC America

September 21

September 25

The Ghost Whisperer


October 9

Week of November 7
Legend of the Seeker

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jim C. Hines interview

Jim C. Hines, author of the upcoming "The Mermaid Madness" has agreed to answer a couple of questions for us.

Sci-Fi Planet: What sorts of things will we find in the upcoming novel The Mermaid Madness?

Jim C. Hines: Danielle, Talia, and Snow will all be back, of course. The book opens with the merfolk returning from their winter migration. Princess Danielle sets out with Queen Bea to greet the merfolk and their king. But the king is dead, and Lirea--the little mermaid of the stories--is, how shall we put it, more than a little unstable. Like Stepsister Scheme, this one has plenty of action from the very first chapter, and should be a lot of fun.

SFP: How many books will be in the Princess series?

JCH: At the moment, it looks like four: The Stepsister Scheme, The Mermaid’s Madness, Red Hood’s Revenge, and Book #4. Four books should allow me to wrap up most of the character growth and long-term arcs I’ve been playing with. I originally thought about doing five books, but I don’t really have a story for #5 right now. I’ve seen too many series drag things out without anything new to say, and I don’t want to fall into that trap.

SFP: Will there be any new major characters joining the team?

JCH: Oh, yes. There are mermaids and mercenaries and many more. My favorite new character is Captain Hephyra, who commands Queen Beatrice’s ship. Hephyra is a dryad, exiled from Fairytown for various transgressions. Her values and priorities are a bit off-kilter compared to most humans, but she’s a great deal of fun.

SCP: Will the Duchess be returning in The Mermaid Madness to cause trouble, or will there be an entirely new villain?

JCH: We haven’t seen the last of her, but Mermaid mostly takes place at sea. With the Duchess confined to Fairytown, it would have been difficult to work her in to this book. Ask me again when books three and four come out.

SCP: How will Danielle's pregnancy play out? Will she have given birth before the start of the new book?

JCH: When book two begins, Danielle is the proud mother of young Prince Jakob, which introduces a whole new set of conflicts for her as she tries to balance duty and family.

SCP: When does the book come out?

JCH: October 6, 2009, but who’s counting? It’s not like I’m over here crossing days off the calendar as I frantically search the net for pre-release reviews. Nope, not me. If it’s like my previous releases, the book will probably start showing up in a few bookstores a week or so before that date.

SCP: Where did the idea behind the Princess series come from? The idea seems a bit different from the Jig series.

JCH: The responsibility for this series rests entirely upon my daughter. More specifically, upon all my daughter’s princess merchandise from about five years ago. Princess movies, princess pajamas, princess lunch boxes, princess toothbrushes, even princess tissues. While the fairy tale movies have gotten better over the years, there’s still a lot of waiting around for some guy to some rescue the damsel, and the merchandise seems to be all about “Look how pretty we are.” I finally got tired of it and decided I was going to write my own princesses, stories that went back to the old fairy tales and put the princesses in charge of fighting the bad guys and saving themselves.

SCP: Anything else you'd like to let us know about The Mermaid Madness?

JCH: This book marks my debut as a professional mapmaker. With all the sailing my princesses do, I decided this one needed a map. DAW (my publisher) asked me to send my sketches, and they ended up liking my map enough to use it as is. (Bonus map trivia: Kagan Sea is one of two tributes in the book to Janet Kagan, a wonderful author and friend who passed away in early 2008.)

SCP: Have we seen the last of Jig? Any chance of him crossing over into the Princess series?

JCH: I don’t have any plans for another goblin book right now, but never say never. Even if I don’t do more goblin novels, Jig might still pop up in a short story one of these days. I doubt I’ll do a goblin/princess crossover, though. The goblin Diglet from Stepsister Scheme was a nod to Jig and company, but that’s about as close as I’d come to bringing Jig over. Though goblin fans might find another surprise when they read Mermaid’s Madness....

SCP: What are you working on right now?

JCH: I just started writing the fourth princess book, which currently lacks a title. So far, my editor has vetoed “Secret of the Snow Queen,” “Scourge of the Snow Queen,” and “Shards of the Snow Queen”. Right now, Red Hood’s Revenge is scheduled for summer of 2010, which means we can probably expect Blank of the Snow Queen (or Snow Queen’s Blank) to hit the shelves some time in 2011.