Tuesday 26 January 2010

From Your Blogosphere Correspondent (26/01/10)

Hold on to your hats, beanies and other assorted headgear, readers one and all: it's that time again... time to get my snark on and gather together a veritable miscellany of the most significant goings-on in the speculative fiction community. For your convenience and mine, here are The Speculative Scotsman's take on a couple of interesting headlines and developments that have been doing the rounds.

First on the agenda: Ursula K. LeGuin has gone to war against the mighty Google machine, with a host of other notable SF&F authors including Kim Stanley Robinson and Nick Harkaway of The Gone-Away World fame in her corner. Cut a long story short, last year Google decided in its infinite wisdom to begin the process of digitising millions of books. A fine use of its vast resources, you might think - certainly a more worthwhile endeavour than its problematic browser Chrome turned out to be - but without the consent of writers and copyright holders alike, the internet's most powerful organisation is basically pirating every variety of literature it can get its hands on; which is to say every variety of literature, full stop.

Unsurprisingly, when Google made public its intent, there was a round of complaints both literal and legal that meant the search engine superpower had to cough up a sizeable settlement to quell the tide against them. Earthsea author LeGuin and her comrades in arms, however, aren't content to sit back and give in to the meager allowances Google has offered to make. They've put their heads together and drafted an objection asking that the US be exempted from the rather worrying consequences entailed by tacitly agreeing to the settlement. If you ask me, more power to them, though sadly I can't imagine a few hundred writers stand much of a chance of overcoming the one media conglomerate to rule them all.

How about a not entirely unrelated aside to make up for all that legal mumbo jumbo? After a car accident in my years as a youngling, my slightly obsessed Mum traded me a week without the embarrassment of going to school with a horrendously swollen face on the assurance that I'd read her battered old copy of the Earthsea quartet. Suffice it to say The Speculative Scotsboy didn't need much convincing.

Next up, you might recall the news from last week's installment of From Your Blogosphere Correspondent that Paramount had handed over the reigns of the sequel to Paranormal Activity to Saw VI director Kevin Greutert.


Nonetheless, in a baffling move, Lionsgate have dropped David Hackl from the next episode of their annual horror-porn franchise only to exercise a contractual option to get Greutert back for Saw VII, presumably to cock-block their pitiable puppet (who I'm honestly beginning to sympathise with) from making Paranormal Activity 2, both of which films were scheduled to come out on the same day.

But that's quite enough of that. In TV news - yes, if you thought TSS didn't have enough on its plate already, you can expect the occasional bit of television coverage in addition to all the babbling about books, films and video games - the sober but brilliant pilot episode of highly anticipated Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica finally aired a few days ago on the horrifically rebranded SyFy Channel. Clearly, US viewers did not care. This does not bode well for the series which io9 asserts, and rightly so in the company of the likes of The Human Target, is "the season's most promising new SF" show. Nevertheless, the impressive feature-length pilot has been available on DVD for dog's years, so the first original episode - due to air Stateside on Friday - will mark a more accurate litmus test for Caprica. Here's hoping the truly dismal ratings to date aren't as ominous a sign as they appear.

Stay tuned to TSS for more on Caprica just as soon as I've watched the boobless broadcast version of the pilot episode in glorious HD.

Quick congrats to the esteemed sodomite Hal Duncan, author of Vellum and Ink, whose diatribe in June 2009 about the ethics of blogging has been nominated, much to his own surprise, for a BSFA award in the non-fiction category. "Ethics and Enthusiasm" is a biting but enlightening must-read for anyone with a blog to their name.

>> EDIT TO REFLECT THAT: As Strange Horizons reviews editor Niall Harrison rightly points out, Hal has since refused the honour of the nomination.

Finally for today, a moment of silence is in order for Neil Gaiman and his nearest and dearest, who were yesterday forced to put their blind, beloved cat Zoe down after the poor creature developed an inoperable tumour in her oesophagus. The American Gods author has been sharing his time with her on his blog, but I'd recommend you read this bittersweet anecdote before the tearful details of Zoe's last moments.


That's it for today From Your Blogosphere Correspondent. Do come again, readers dear. Snacks and treats are issued to all visitors on a daily basis.

I mean blog posts, of course. Don't expect a biscuit. Damn it, I don't even have a biscuit!


  1. I sure loved the Earthsea books. Those are exceptionally fine books, if you ask me and I hope that Le Guin does get the message across to Google, because one cannot ignore copyright laws, even if it's google we are speaking about.

    And, seriously? They will be making Paranormal Activity 2... Ugh and I thought that was over with

  2. Le Guin has a right to fight for her epic. Have lived with & loved them for most of my reading life (still have the well-read, scabby copies on my bookshelf). I say, Google, either pay the author what her works are worth or f off.
    I actually REALLY liked The Descent, but then I am a horror movie freak. I'm not sure how I feel about a sequel though. Most sequels suck, so I'll follow you're judgement.
    Paranormal Activity 2? LMAO, no way! There wasn't enough paranormal activity in the first go. Go watch Ghost Hunters on CBS, they have more "paranormal activity" in an hour than this duo have in their 3 hour lifetime. Can anyone say, "ALL ABOARD THE MONEY TRAIN"?