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Science Fiction Thursday: History of Sci-Fi Documentary, Brandon Sanderson, and Frederik Pohl

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | March 13, 2014 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | March 13, 2014 |

It’s an objective reality that of the possible genres in entertainment, science fiction and fantasy are the best ones. There isn’t even a reason to argue the point, because those who don’t already see it is the case are clearly incapable of the rational discourse required to convince someone through argument anyway. It’s like a Catch-22 of debate: the only ones worth arguing with are the ones who already agree with me.

So, what’s going on in science fiction this week?

First up, Frederik Pohl’s Gateway novels are being adapted for television. It’s still in the early stages, no actors or writers or footage or tentative dates. Just a company announcing they’ve got the rights, a pile of money, and intent to entertain. The premise of the novels is that there’s this giant abandoned alien base hidden in the asteroid belt, filled with thousands of ships. And humans being good tinkerers, but impatient ones, have figured out how to tell a ship to go on a round trip to places in the directory, but haven’t figured out how to tell where the hell the place is, or how long it’ll take to get there, before starting to send out volunteers with a pile of rations and a thumbs-up.

So given the state of the project, it might see the light of day sometime around 2018 if we’re lucky. But on the bright side, if you’re like me and you’ve read all of Pohl’s Berserker (um, they’re the Borg. Like, Star Trek should really pay him royalties level of resemblance) novels but none of his others*, you have several more books to add to your reading list, which if it’s anything like mine, never gets shorter no matter how much I read.

Second up, BBC America is going to broadcast the four volume Real History of Science Fiction in April. I have so many questions about the word “Real” in that title. Like, is this a jab at someone who wrote a really screwed up history of sci-fi that claimed Star Wars was better than Star Trek? Or is it supposed to imply that it’s not talking about fictional sci-fi, but only the real development of things that previous generations would call sci-fi? It’s possible that I’m overthinking this, but I’m a stickler for precision in titling. Here’s the list of people who will be talking heads in it:

Among those taking part are: William Shatner (Star Trek), Nathan Fillion (Firefly), Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek), Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), Richard Dreyfuss (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Chris Carter (The X-Files), Ronald D Moore (Battlestar Galactica), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Schlock), David Tennant (Doctor Who), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), John Carpenter (Dark Star, The Thing), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Stardust), Kim Stanley Robinson (Mars Trilogy), Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap, Star Trek: Enterprise), Ursula K Le Guin (The Left Hand of Darkness), Syd Mead (Blade Runner), Kenny Baker (Star Wars), Anthony Daniels (Star Wars), Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek), Peter Weller (Robocop), Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner, Battlestar Galactica), and many more.

Well they were thorough, I’ll give them that.

Third, last week Brandon Sanderson released the second volume of his ten volume Stormlight Archive. It tops a thousand pages. Because damnit, what’s the point of a fantasy series if the total page count doesn’t hit five digits? The first book was The Way of Kings, published in 2010, and was quite a good read if you like yourself some fantasy. Sanderson delayed this second volume for three years because he was writing the last three books of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. And he even made them tolerable for the first time in about eight books, while probably wearing out four keyboards in the process. Oh yeah, and during that time he published four other full novels (Steelheart, The Alloy of Law, Legion and The Rithmatist). Dude writes faster than I read.

Well, George R.R. Martin averages five years between books and is getting worried about what HBO will do to his kneecaps if they catch up. And just last week he apparently told them how the story ends and what happens to all the characters. I’d start writing faster Mr. Martin. They have all they need to put you in a box and pony express that outline to Sanderson.

*so, that happened. I’m mortified and now all the paperbacks from the seventies are refusing to look at me as I walk through the house.

Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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