Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The 2010 David Gemmell Legend Awards for Fantasy

And the 2010 winners are... - The David Gemmell Legend Awards

Ravensheart Award for best Fantasy Book Jacket/artist: Best Served Cold – Didier Graffet, Dave Senior and Laura Brett.

Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Newcomer/debut: The Cardinal’s Blades by Pierre Pevel.

Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novel: Empire by Graham McNeill.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Amazon adds video, Audio support to Kindle apps | The Digital Reader

Amazon adds video, Audio support to Kindle apps | The Digital Reader:

From the press release:

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced a new update to Kindle for iPad and Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch, which allows readers to enjoy the benefits of embedded video and audio clips in Kindle books. The first books to take advantage of this new technology, including Rick Steves’ London by Rick Steves and Together We Cannot Fail by Terry Golway, are available in the Kindle Store at www.amazon.com/kindleaudiovideo.

I disagree with Nate the great. I think Amazon can repurpose an existing Shanzai LCD tablet with their own firmware and come up with an inexpensive alternative to the iPad.
"This will likely raise a question in everyone’s mind. Is Amazon going to release a LCD based Kindle? It’s possible, but I would bet against it. A Kindle tablet would have to compete directly against other tablets. The iPad alone would make this a risky idea."

2010 Locus Award winners! - Boing Boing

The 2010 Locus awards are out. Nothing surprising, though I haven't read Boneshaker yet. Check out the bit of drama in the comments section of the Boing Boing post. First of all, I am also getting a bit tired of steampunk and zombies. Second, what is the problem with discussing this distressing trend where the nostalgic yearning for the "good old days" is turning to active disbelief in science (immunization shots, evolution, climate change).

I think if authors are addressing these issues its all to the good, but if a novel is just a bit of pulp pandering to this trend then it should be recognized as such. It certainly shouldn't be given an award.

2010 Locus Award winners! - Boing Boing:

Best SF Novel: Boneshaker, Cherie Priest (Tor)

Best Fantasy Novel: The City & The City, China Mieville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK)

Best First Novel: The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)

Best Young Adult Book: Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse; Simon & Schuster UK)

Best Novella: The Women of Nell Gwynne's, Kage Baker (Subterranean)

Best Novelette: ''By Moonlight'', Peter S. Beagle (We Never Talk About My Brother)

Best Short Story: ''An Invocation of Incuriosity'', Neil Gaiman (Songs of the Dying Earth)

Best Anthology: The New Space Opera 2, Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan, eds. (Eos; HarperCollins Australia)

Best Collection: The Best of Gene Wolfe, Gene Wolfe (Tor); as The Very Best of Gene Wolfe (PS)

afs97209 • #2 • 11:28 PM Saturday, Jun 26, 2010 • Reply

Bad enough that the right wingers fill the airwaves with anti-science propaganda, and we're stuck with religious propaganda in science classrooms. Now we're stuck with both fantasy and SF wings of this genre clogged full of "better, simpler, earlier" times.

You can't run to the SF aisle as a refuge from anti-science attitudes anymore. Look at the Locus Awards. Steampunk, swords and sorcery, apocalypse, literary fantasy, Victorian England. A space opera anthology is the closest we get to any message from any Locus Award winner that science is a positive force on society.

Antinous / Moderator replied to comment from afs97209 • #8 • 1:49 AM Sunday, Jun 27, 2010 • Reply

Your attempt to politicize the thread is out of order.

Apple DRM Abuse Pay Full Price For an Ebook You Already Bought

Apple: Pay Full Price For an Ebook You Already Bought (by @baekdal) #publishing

The picture says it all. The Baekdal's blog post concludes that the smart thing to do is stick with Kindle and Stanza, but I think this speaks more to the serious problem with DRM in general.

A simple upgrade to iOS4 and all of a sudden you have to purchase a book you've already bought? I'm sure that 'bugs' will be fixed eventually, but in the meantime restrictive DRM policies give companies like Apple the right to intimidate and steal.

All other e-bookstores using restrictive DRM are guilty of employing a customer-hostile policy of restricting the after-purchase use of an e-book. E-books should be treated the same as regular books: they can be given away, re-sold, or used with any e-reader hardware or software.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

calibre 0.7.5 now available – now supports Dell Streak, Eken M001 | The Digital Reader

calibre 0.7.5 now available – now supports Dell Streak, Eken M001 | The Digital Reader

A bunch of new features and bug fixes as well as support for new devices, including the bargain tablet the Eken M001 ($102 Cdn). I still haven't put all my eggs in the Calibre basket because it doesn;t support my ebookwise e-reader, but I will definitely base my next hardware purchase on how well it is supported by Calibre.

Click on to The Digital Reader for a bullet list of changes or go straight to the Calibre site.

Friday, June 25, 2010

SIGIL - multi-platform WYSIWYG ebook editor

This is the best open-source WYSIWYG html editor I've seen since Kompozer. While it is not as feature-rich at html as Kompozer it succeeds in its main mission to provide a powerful yet elegant tool to create all the components that are involved in authoring an ePub electronic book.

ePub packages are rather complicated and this tool provides a professional interface to create and manage the html, xml, css, (etc. etc.) components without sugarcoating anything.

I've not spent too much time working with ePub files as my ebookwise e-reader it too old to handle ePub files (even converted) in any useful way. The documentation associated with SIGIL is a great tutorial and reference for learning how to create ePubs from scratch.

sigil - Project Hosting on Google Code: "Sigil is a multi-platform WYSIWYG ebook editor. It is designed to edit books in ePub format.

* Free and open source software under GPLv3
* Multi-platform: runs on Windows, Linux and Mac
* Full Unicode support: everything you see in Sigil is in UTF-16
* Full EPUB spec support
* WYSIWYG editing
* Multiple Views: Book View, Code View and Split View
* Metadata editor with full support for all possible metadata entries (more than 200) with full descriptions for each
* Table Of Contents editor
* Multi-level TOC support
* Book View fully supports the display of any XHTML document possible under the OPS spec
* SVG support
* Basic XPGT support
* Advanced automatic conversion of all imported documents to Unicode
* Currently imports TXT, HTML and EPUB files; more will be added with time
* Embedded HTML Tidy; all imported documents are thoroughly cleaned; changing views cleans the document so no matter how much you screw up your code, it will fix it (usually)
* An actually usable user interface
* Native C application
* Bugs :)
* And a lot more..."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The 20 most anticipated sci-fi movies of 2011 | SCI FI Wire

The 20 most anticipated sci-fi movies of 2011 | SCI FI Wire

SCI-FI Wire has come up with a list of sci-fi(ish) films coming out next year. Besides the usual crop of comic book movies there are a couple of interesting films coming down the pipe. Check out their list for synopses, release dates, and their take on the films.
(Films I'm gonna keep an eye on are in bold)
20. Red Riding Hood
19. Immortals
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Kellan Lutz, Isabel Lucas, Stephen Dorff
18. The Night Chronicles: Devil
17. I Am Number Four
16. The Green Hornet
Stars: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz
15. Transformers 3
Director: Michael Bay
Stars: Shia LeBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, John Malkovich, John Turturro
14. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
13. Contagion
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne
12. X-Men: First Class
Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender (rumored), Aaron Johnson (rumored)
11. Rise of the Apes
Stars: James Franco, Don Cheadle (rumored), Freida Pinto (rumored)
10. Sucker Punch
Stars: Emily Browning, Carla Gugino, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Jena Malone, Jon Hamm
9. Real Steel
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Kevin Durand, Hope Davis
8. The Thing
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes
6. Battle: Los Angeles
5. Cowboys & Aliens
Stars: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde
4. Captain America: The First Avenger
3. Thor
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Ray Stevenson
2. Green Lantern
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Mark Strong, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins
1. Super 8
Director: J.J. Abrams

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Getting Started with Calibre eBook Management | The eBook Reader Blog

Getting Started with Calibre eBook Management | The eBook Reader Blog: "
Calibre is the best e-book management software available. It supports more devices than anything else out there and is loaded with tons of features. Check out the overview and intro to Calibre, including 4 Quick Steps to Getting Started with Calibre.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Toshiba : News Release 21 Jun, 2010

Toshiba : News Release 21 Jun, 2010: "Toshiba introduces the world's first dual-touch-screen
Windows� mini-notebook PC 'libretto W100'"

This thing looks great. I am intrigued by the haptic interface on one of the touchscreen sides--tactile feedback. Apparently there are 7 keyboard styles that can be set up on one of the screens, from regular qwerty to blackberry-style thumb keying.

From the Press Release:
Toshiba's excellence in high-density mounting and engineering have created a unique, pocket-sized companion, with distinctive dual 7.0-inch Wide LCDs that offer a display equivalent to a 10.0-inch wide screen. The clamshell case opens like a book or a notebook PC to reveal the world's first Windows® platform to integrate dual touch-sensitive screens. Used as a PC, the libretto displays a haptic keyboard on the lower screen; held vertically, it becomes an ebook reader that displays a double-page spread. Compact and only 699 grams, the libretto W100 is a "mini-note PC" that can go everywhere.
2GB memory
Weight 699g, battery life approx. 2.0 hours (with standard battery pack attached) Weight 819g, battery life approx. 4.0 hours (with high-capacity battery pack attached)
WiMAX wireless communication module
Bluetooth integrated
1.02 Megapixel webcam

Launch in Japan End of August, 2010. Est. retail price $1099

Toshiba Debuts eReader - mediabistro.com: eBookNewser

Monday, June 21, 2010

Kindle 2 Now $189 (from $259) Let the price wars begin

With B&N announcing the $149 wi-fi only Nook and dropping the price of the 3G Nook to $199, Amazon responds immediately by dropping the price of the Kindle 2 to $189.

It looks like a price war heating up with Nook, Kindle, and Kobo trying to grab as big a market share as they can. They know that the big money will be made in the ebookstore, not selling hardware.

I'm looking forward to the Android tablet price war that should hit North American shores this summer and into the fall. It should be possible to pick up a 5,6,7" Android tablet for under $80. The big boys may grumble but they will also make sure their ebook store/reader software will be freely available.

Kindle 2 Now $189: Amazon’s Retaliation | The eBook Reader Blog

Friday, June 18, 2010

2010 British Fantasy Awards nominees

Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews: 2010 British Fantasy Awards nominees

Awards will be announced September 17-19
Just for fun, I've put in my two cents (bold) where I've actually got a preference.

- "Best Served Cold" by Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz)
- "Futile Flame" by Sam Stone (House of Murky Depths)
- "One" by Conrad Williams (Virgin)
- "The Naming of the Beasts" by Mike Carey (Orbit)
- "Under the Dome" by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton)

- "Old Man Scratch" by Rio Youers (PS)
- "Roadkill" by Rob Shearman, from "Roadkill/Siren Beat" (Twelfth Planet) and "Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical" (Big Finish)
- "The Language of Dying" by Sarah Pinborough (PS)
- "The Witnesses are Gone" by Joel Lane (PS)
- "Vardoger" by Stephen Volk (Gray Friar)

- "Careful What You Wish For" by Justin Carroll, in "Dragontales: Short Stories of Flame, Tooth and Scale" edited by Holly Stacey (Wyvern)
- "George Clooney's Moustache" by Rob Shearman, in "The BFS Yearbook 2009" edited by Guy Adams (BFS)
- "My Brother's Keeper" by Nina Allan, "Black Static #12"
- "The Confessor's Tale" by Sarah Pinborough, in "Hellbound Hearts" edited by Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane (Pocket)
- "What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night" by Michael Marshall Smith (Nightjar)

- "Cern Zoo: Nemonymous 9" edited by D.F. Lewis (Megazanthus)
- "Dragontales: Short Stories of Flame, Tooth and Scale" edited by Holly Stacey (Wyvern)
- "Hellbound Hearts" edited by Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane (Pocket)
- "Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honour of Jack Vance" edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (HarperVoyager)
- "The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 20" edited by Stephen Jones (Constable and Robinson)

- "Cyberabad Days" by Ian McDonald (Gollancz)
- "Just Behind You" by Ramsey Campbell (PS)
- "Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical" by Robert Shearman (Big Finish)
- "Once & Future Cities" by Allen Ashley (Eibonvale)
- "The Terrible Changes" by Joel Lane (Ex Occidente)

- Newcon Press (Ian Whates)
- Screaming Dreams (Steve Upham)
- Subterranean Press (William Schafer)
- Telos Publishing (David Howe)
- TTA Press (Andy Cox)

- "Fables" by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo)
- "Freakangels" by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield (Avatar & warrenellis.com)
- "Locke and Key" by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
- "The Girly Comic" edited by Selina Lock (Factor Fiction)
- "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert (DC)

- Charles Vess, for work including Neil Gaiman’s "Blueberry Girl"
- Les Edwards, for work including the cover of "Cemetery Dance #62"
- Shaun Tan
- Steve Upham, for work including the Estronomicon Sketchbook Special
- Vincent Chong, for work including covers for "The Witnesses are Gone" (PS) and "The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 20" (Constable and Robinson)

- "Ansible Link" by David Langford (http://news.ansible.co.uk)
- "Case Notes" by Peter Tennant, Black Static
- "It Lives Again! Horror Movies in the New Millennium" by Axelle Carolyn (Telos)
- John Scalzi, Whatever (http://scalzi.com/whatever)
- "Knowing Darkness: Artists Inspired by Stephen King" by George Beahm and various artists (Centipede Press)

- "Black Static" edited by Andy Cox (TTA)
- "Cemetery Dance" edited by Richard Chizmar (Cemetery Dance)
- "Interzone" edited by Andy Cox (TTA)
- "Midnight Street" edited by Trevor Denyer (Immediate Direction)
- "Murky Depths" edited by Terry Martin (The House of Murky Depths)
- "Theaker's Quarterly Fiction" edited by Stephen Theaker and John Greenwood (Silver Age)

- "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci Fi/Sky 1)
- "Being Human" (BBC3)
- "Doctor Who" (BBC1)
- "Lost" (ABC/Sky 1)
- "Torchwood: Children of Earth" (BBC1)

- "Avatar" directed by James Cameron (Twentieth Century Fox)
- "Coraline" directed by Henry Selick (Focus)
- "District 9" directed by Neill Blomkamp (Tristar)
- "Let the Right One In" directed by Tomas Alfredson (EFTI)
- "Watchmen" directed by Zack Snyder (Warner)

What Doctor Gottlieb Saw by Ian Tregillis: Read'n'Tease for Bitter Seeds

Free Readin’ | What Doctor Gottlieb Saw by Ian Tregillis | A Dribble of Ink: "What Doctor Gottlieb Saw by Ian Tregillis

What Doctor Gottlieb Saw by Ian Tregillis

Do you suppose it’s possible to murder God?”

Gretel was Gottlieb’s most troubling patient. She was clairvoyant. She was also, he feared, quite mad."
I've been planning on reading this book for quite a while now. I'll read this short story first. I am heartened with how new authors are using the internet to stay visible in a crowded marketplace.

“What Doctor Gottlieb Saw” takes place roughly 18 months before the events in Chapter 1 of Bitter Seeds. (So it takes place maybe 17 years after the prologue, which you can read for free here.) I wrote it entirely as a standalone, so it doesn’t require any foreknowledge of Bitter Seeds.
Tregillis isn't marketing his book so much as he is creating a reader-friendly environment that satisfies the curiosity of anyone even mildly interested in his book.

Kobo Vice President replies to issues raised by TeleRead’s Joanna | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home

Kobo Vice President replies to issues raised by TeleRead’s Joanna | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home:
"On June 13 our own Joanna published an article entitled Kobo growing pains – user issues and my prescription, in which she detailed some of the problems she had with the new Kobo Reader. Kobo Vice President Michael Tamblyn has just published a response to her article in the comments area. It is only fair that his response get the same “press” as Joanna’s article, so I’m reprinting it, in full, here:"
In fact it would make more sense to give more "press" to the response as you would then be "reporting" news rather than "blogging" or offering uninformed "opinions" like Joanna's original article.

When I read Joanna's original "prescription" article I immediately understood the place this type of blog post had in the world. The fixed font issue is an ongoing headache and the response from the Kobo Veep explained it well: poorly created ePub files with fixed size fonts are ultimately responsible, and, ultimately, the publishers need to get their act together. Firmware hacks and stanard-breaking tricks are not the answer.

Joanna's viewpoint of "I don't care why it doesn't do what I want it to do, just fix it!" is very important. Like the kindle's v2.5 firmware upgrade that immediately led to the v2.52 upgrade, its important for the e-reader manufacturers to respond quickly to end-user's wishes and complaints.

Its also important to make sure that the e-publishing industry is not given a free ride. Whether its incompetence, arrogance, or a petulant desire to sabotage the fledgling industry, I think that if a publisher wants to sell (rent) a DRM protected ebook they must provide a quality product--the least part of which is creating stylesheets with scalable fonts.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Auria 26" LCD TV installed - review

Next day delivery of the TV/monitor was a pleasant surprise, though it left me a bit unprepared. It worked flawlessly out of the box. The HD picture quality is fantastic. I borrowed my brother's OTA antenna for a bit, then switched to a pair of regular rabbit ears. Without spending any time looking for the best reception alignment I got several channels right away, including the World Cup on CBC-HD. Gorgeous.

It functions well as a monitor as well. I tried the VGA input and the DVI-HDMI inputs and both work resonably well. The image is a bit fuzzy but for watching AVI/YouTube its fantastic. I got a bit nervous swapping cables around on my aging desktop XP machine -- at one point It would not boot at all -- so I haven't played with all the possible configurations. It may be my imagination but I thought the VGA input quality was significantly better than the HDMI connection.

My biggest complaint is that the user-interface is very slow: whether you are changing channels, input modes, or fiddling with any of the TV options, the interface is very slow to respond. This is a disappointment as I wanted to be able to quickly switch between TV and monitor modes (so I can write these blog posts during commercial breaks). As it is I'm getting used to not having CNN or CBC Newsworld buzzing in the background while I'm working on the computer.

The audio quality, as I was led to believe, leaves a bit to be desired, but that can be solved quite easily by plugging TV audio out to a decent speaker setup.

Overall, for the price ($199 + $20 shipping), this is a great bargain if you are looking for a primary-use TV and secondary-use monitor.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Acorp EM501R Android tablet super-cheap alternative to Dell Streak

Ok, so its not a cellphone like the Dell, but if you're not interested in putting all your eggs in one basket then this could be an inexpensive entry into the MID/tablet/e-reader world. Its apparently only $88 USD if you buy 1,000 units so are likely to see it retail at around $100.

With a 600MHz Rockchip ARM9 CPU, 800 x 480 touchscreen, microSD, wifi and USB it can be a smart buy (espcially if they upgrade from Android 1.5 to 2.2)

Acorp EM501R Android tablet offers the poor man’s solution to the Archos 5|BestTabletReview.com
More analysis of $88 Shanzai Streak|Shanzai

Newegg.ca - Auria 26" 720p LCD HDTV EQ2688

Newegg.ca - Auria 26" 720p LCD HDTV EQ2688

Just ordered this monitor with TV tuner from newegg. HDMI and VGA inputs and ATSC/NTSC Tuner with 1366 x 768 resolution. Pretty good for the price--$199 marked down from $399.

The resolution is not great, but I plan on using it as the "second" monitor in a dual display setup. Hopefully I can sit back 8 to 10 feet when watching TV or a YouTube video.

EQD Auria EQ1988 / EQ2288 / EQ2488 / EQ2688 Reviews - alaTest USA

Monday, June 14, 2010

Terry Pratchett to Collaborate with Stephen Baxter on New Novels

Unseen Academicals (Discworld)Sir Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter will join forces to finish a novel that Pratchett left on the shelf 25 years ago. The Long Earth story line of parallel universes will come out as two books.

By the way, if you are enjoying the World Cup you have to read Unseen Academicals, Pratchetts take on soccer culture and sports fanaticism.

Transworld Publishers are delighted to announce an exciting new collaboration between Sir Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.

Sir Terry Pratchett first developed his vision of a chain of parallel worlds, The Long Earth, in an unfinished novel and two short stories in 1986, after writing Equal Rites, the third novel in what would turn into the hugely successful Discworld series. Now, at last, this long-gestating concept is to see the light of day in two as-yet-untitled books written in collaboration with Stephen Baxter, author of Flood, Ark and the Time’s Tapestry and Destiny’s Children series.

‘Our Earth is but one of a chain of parallel worlds, each differing from its neighbours by a little (or a lot) in an infinite landscape of infinite possibilities. And you can just step from one world to the next…’

The deal was brokered through Colin Smythe and Ralph Vicinanza and the first Long Earth novel is due to be published by Doubleday in spring 2012.

Additionally, Sir Terry Pratchett has recently completed I Shall Wear Midnight, the fourth in the Tiffany Aching books, to be published in September, and is already at work on his next Discworld novel for publication in autumn 2011. Number 37 in the series, Unseen Academicals, has just come out in Corgi paperback.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Book Review - China Mieville - The City & The City

For me the detective novel in the sci-fi and fantasy genre has been dominated by Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. The wise-cracking, fire hurling wizard was a noir-style gumshoe who kicked ass and took names. He worked outside the law (both the mundane police and the wizard's council) to solve mysteries and protect his client.

City and the City is another style of detective novel: the police procedural. The protagonist is Inspector Borlú, of Extreme Crime Squad. As in most police procedurals he works within a system where he has to please his superiors, push his subordinates to do their best, cooperate with 'good' colleagues and come into conflict with 'bad' cops. As is also common in many police procedurals, Inspector Borlú has to go rogue to solve the mystery and close the case.

The culture clash while working to solve a crime is reminiscent of the Canadian movie Bon Cop, Bad Cop. Of course, the two cultures are Eastern European(ish) with a hint of Christian-Muslim conflict (although its more Christan-Muslim v. Athiest than anything else).

The atmosphere of the City takes a page from the British urban crime mystery genre. An economically depressed city suffers from an underpaid and overworked police force and an active criminal underclass and corrupt ruling class. Ultra-nationalism. There is no fantastic science in evidence, just a very strange way for a city full of people to live. It is the world-view of the city that makes the book worth reading.

Two cities with a different political and economic system, and distinct cultural mores, share the same geography. Citizens are trained from childhood to completely ignore their opposite city. Mieville ingeniously portrays a world where one must 'unsee' the other city: to willfully and deliberately ignore and avoid anything that is happening in the other city even if its happening right beside you. Failure to do so is harshly punished by Breach, a mysterious organization that acts from the shadows. This socio-political petri dish of a culture (ha!) is well constructed and deftly explored by Mieville.

Jeff VanderMeer on The Best of 2009
China Mieville's The City & The City contains a perfect evocation of an imaginary Eastern European city. Culturally and texturally, Mieville's novel worked well for me, and the writing is to die for. However, as the book progresses the unwieldiness of the central conceit — overlapping cities — and the idea of "unseeing" works less and less well. Mieville's ever more laborious efforts to explain things slow the book down, especially toward the middle, and underscore the somewhat thin characterization. (For an interesting reading experience, pair Mieville's novel with the excellent Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction, edited by Mark Bould and Mieville and the recent issue of the scholarly journal Extrapolations devoted to exploring Mieville's fiction.)

SF REVIEWS.NET: The City & the City / China Mieville ☆☆☆☆
The City & the City is China Miéville's best novel since The Scar, and the tightest and most politically observant of his career.

More Reviews:
The City & The City by China Mieville: book review | Bookmarks Magazine

Friday, June 11, 2010

How low can they go? Eken M001 7inch Android WIFI Tablet for $102

Eken M001 7inch Android WIFI Tablet

They've been lowering the price on this model every few weeks. At $102 Canadian there's no great loss if it doesn't do everything you want. I suspect it will go respectably into double-digits sometime this summer to clear the way for the waves of cheap tablets that will flood the market for the X-mas season.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Boogie Board Paperless LCD Writing Tablet

Boogie Board Paperless LCD Writing Tablet

I really like this thing. Its an LCD replacement for a whiteboard. You can stick it on your fridge or carry it around like a clipboard of sketchpad. Unfortunately there is no connectivity of any kind but for $35 its a pretty cool child-safe/kitchen safe 8.8" x 5.6" message board. Its 3v (sealed) watch battery will theoretically last for 7 years if used 20 times a day.

Apparently new versions of the tablet will be coming soon with at least the capability to save/transfer a screen as an image file.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Internet Vices - Patrick Moberg

Internet Vices - Patrick Moberg

A great visual of what internet vices would be if they were real world vices.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Excellent Dell Streak review by Engadget

Dell Streak review -- Engadget

Check it out. Tons of photos and videos from the people who kept jabbing the 5" tablet/phone with a pen and couldn't break it.

Winners and Losers of Computex 2010 | BestTabletReview.com

Winners and Losers of Computex 2010|BestTabletReview.com

A decent overview of "Tabletpalooza". Unlike Besttabletreview I think that the InsisTek's $70 tablet, if it doesn't fall apart, could be the big winner.

Can Anything Stop Apple and the iPad? | Retrevo

Can Anything Stop Apple and the iPad? | Retrevo

Worth a read--1,000 person survey results. The questions were skewed iPad-centric. Asking if someone is who owns or is going to buy an e-Reader plans to buy an iPad will also get false positives for people who plan on buying a MID or an Android tablet. The 53% of the 47% of respondents to the survey who said they planned on buying a tablet said they'd buy Android if it was cheaper.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

e-Book Manager Software: Calibre - New in calibre 0.7

New in calibre 0.7

The new version of Calibre is out and its better than ever. There has been an increase in performance and a more user-configurable UI and metadata manager.

Its still a CPU hog on my (somewhat old) computer, but its much better than earlier 0.6 versions. I'm still not particularly enthusiastic about this software since it doesn't fully support my ebookwise's IMP file format. If you are a consumer/collector of EPUB, LIT, or many other 'modern' e-book formats, then you really need to take a look at Calibre.

Will Ebook publishers start taking e-book quality more seriously

Ebook publishers must do more to eliminate annoying errors – Telegraph Blogs

In the early days of e-book publishing there has been little respect shown for the electronic format. I've seen commercial releases of e-books that are essentially poorly OCRed versions of the print version. This is likely because the people given the task of creating the electronic versions are either (or both) unenthusiastic/resentful and technically incompetent.

Now that publishers are seeing the potential for big money, and fearing being overtaken by new tech-savvy publishers, we will see more effort being spent on creating e-reader friendly books.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Computex 2010: tablets and e-book readers

I don't know if I'm alone in this but Computex may have the ugliest mascot/trade-show logo I've ever seen. With one day left to go at Computex Taipei the bloggers and gadget sites have started posting their summaries and best-of-show lists. For example:

Digitmes: Computex 2010: A look at the e-book readers

Few blog posts have as catchy a title as the Latest News posted at the Computex site: TOUCH ME! Finger-power more potent than ever!. Although Shanzai comes close with Europeans prefer 5” Brazilians prefer 7”.

A lot of the 10" (and larger) tablets and readers will likely never see the light of day (or the shores of North America), but many of the e-readers and MID tablets will be repackaged under brand names or be made available in limited quantities.

The big winner this year seems to be Android. The zero-risk cost and high-yield benefits of using Android to the device manufacturers means that they can focus on either the new technologies they want to showcase (screens, processors etc) or put together a low-cost device with a high-class interface for mass-market consumption.

Prototypes are showcased before the solder cools and there is a huge variety of ready-for-production devices on display.

The most exciting piece of news for me was the claim by InsisTek to offer a $70 7-inch Android MID tablet by the end of the year.

InsisTek to offer a $70 7-inch Android tablet | BestTabletReview.com
InsisTek 7-inch tablet to cost only $70 | Good E-Reader Blog - Electronic Reader and Slate PC News
VIDEO: Insists 7” 70 dollar tablet | Shanzai

We should see some announcements after the show when a press release will make a bigger splash.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Unlocked Dell Streak Tablet To Be Available Next Month For $500

Unlocked Dell Streak Tablet To Be Available Next Month For $500

I think Dell dropped the ball here price-wise. Even though its unlocked (and I can see this as perfectly fine without locking into a 2 year 3G plan and just using wi-fi) its priced too close to the bottom end iPads and thus exposed to the easy comparison to the low-end iPads.

After it was first announced there were a ton of complaints of the 5" Streak being too big for a cell phone. Now its 1/2 the size for the same price of the Apple tablet.

Poor marketing for an excellent device. I want to get one just so I can jab the screen with a ball-point pen.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

William Gibson - Spook Country

Book Review: William Gibson - Spook Country

I was pretty disappointed with the book. The near-future genre is only interesting if the technology/societal changes are interesting in some way. The helmet technology that superimposes itself over the real world was not really all that interesting as it was only presented as generic artwork. Augmented Reality is already here and already more provocative than the glimpse we saw in Spook Country.

The thriller plot itself was reasonable, but dry. Not knowing whats going on is integral to maintain tension, but this was taken too far. Nothing happened in the first 90% of the book as far as I was concerned. That may explain why it took me months and months to finish the book. It was just too easy to put down.

The characters were unique and interesting and the alternating flow of characters and threads was handled reasonably. There was just too much weak dialog and action for my tastes. A little more violence and debauchery would have gone a long way to loosen up the story. Too many characters were stone-faced and without any interesting character flaws.

Overall, Spook Country is a plain thriller with a slow start, little action, and an uninspiring vision of the "future".

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Borders to sell variety of e-readers; low-end Aluratek Libre Pro at $119

Borders will be selling the Aluratek Libre Pro for $119, making it the least expensive of the bookstore-affiliated e-readers. It has a 5" Mono reflective light LCD screen--like e-ink but faster. Borders will also sell a wide variety of other e-readers, including the Kobo Reader for $149.

I'm pleased that Borders is taking an e-reader-agnostic approach to selling hardware for their e-book catalog. I hope the other big-box bookstores are watching closely.

Borders to sell up to 10 different ereaders; announces deal with Aluratek | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home

Available July 2, 2010 -- Borders.com

Borders Partners with Aluratek on Libre eBook Reader Pro | Pulse On Tech-Digital Reader News