Friday, June 29, 2012

STNG celebrates a birthday - at the movies

This just in from Pure on behalf of Fathom:

“Boldly go where no one has gone before” and don’t miss the only opportunity to see two of the most popular Next Generation episodes, Ep. 106 “Where No One Has Gone Before” and Ep. 114 “Datalore” on the big screen.

NCM Fathom and CBS TV are coming together to present a special one night event to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

This special event will include exclusive looks at the massive restoration of season one, never-before-seen interviews with the original cast members and behind-the-scenes looks at the artists who created the original FX elements and photography during the making of the show. Audiences will also be privy to an unseen sneak-peak of “Measure of a Man.”

Set in the 24th century, The Next Generation was created by Gene Roddenberry over 20 years after the original Star Trek series. The Next Generation became the longest running series of the Star Trek franchise, consisting of 178 episodes over 7 seasons.

Star Trek: The Next Generation 25th Anniversary Event is the first opportunity to see this transcendent digital presentation like no man before, in movie theaters, on Monday, July 23rd at 7:00 PM (local time) with additional late night showings at select movie theater locations.

If you have any questions, please let me know. For more details and ticket information, visit

We’ll see you at the movies!

The July Free Phoenix Pick is here! 

Joan Slonczewski’s Daughter of Elysium

The coupon code is 9991545 and will be good from July 2 through July 31.
Links for downloading the book (as usual) from our online catalogue,

Brief description of the book:

The pristine city of Elysium floats on the water world of Shora, inhabited
by 'immortals' who have succeeded in unlocking the secrets of life.

Outsider Blackbear Windclan wants to share the secret of immortality with
his own people, but can he, and the City of Elysium, survive the
corruption and decadence that immortality has bred into the ageless

And what of the consciousness of self-aware nano-sentient servitors and
their quest for vengeance?

"An enormously impressive achievement...A marvelous array of cultures
presented in astonishing depth"—Kirkus Review

And this is just too fun.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Lathe of Heaven
Adapted and directed by Edward Einhorn
Based on the book by Ursula K. Le Guin
With original music by Henry Akona
Untitled Theater Company No. 61
At the 3LD Art and Technology Center

Submitted by Science Fiction and Other ODDysseys Play Critic, Clare Deming

A few blocks off Broadway, in lower Manhattan, a man dreams. George Orr is the dreamer, the central character of a new adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin's award-winning novel, The Lathe of Heaven. The show opened this past weekend at the 3LD Art and Technology Center.

When George dreams, he awakens to a reality that has been changed by the events of his dream. These "effective" dreams terrify George, for they are often nightmarish, and he cannot control them. When he awakens, no one else is aware of the changes, which are frequently retroactive, creating new memories and life experiences for those affected. Only George sees both the old and the new realities.

George has tried to suppress his "effective" dreams by taking drugs obtained through illegal channels. To avoid prosecution for the drug charges, he enters voluntary therapy. Dr. Haber is an oneirologist; he studies dreams. The doctor believes that Mr. Orr needs his dreams, and uses his invention, the Augmentor, to help guide the dreams, to try to force them into safer patterns. When Dr. Haber activates the Augmentor, George sleeps, and any suggestions that the doctor makes, translate to his dreams.

Soon enough, the Augmentor takes effect, and the benign suggestions of Dr. Haber manifest as new realities. The initial alterations are simple - the photo of Mt. Hood on the wall of the office is replaced by that of a horse. George is not pleased by the treatment methods of Dr. Haber, fearing additional deviations to reality, and consults with Heather Le Lache, a civil rights lawyer. She agrees to inspect Dr. Haber's practice and the Augmentor device. Yet despite this and George's other attempts to dissuade the doctor from making further dream suggestions, the changes cascade from his mind and into the waking world.

The story continues in this vein, but the changes become more serious. Weather, history, and politics, and the families, background, and motivations of the other characters all suffer. Eventually, the play compares the dream state to reality, and the audience is left to wonder: "Who is the dreamer? Who is the dream?" This is a recurring theme and the ultimate question asked by the story.

The original music by Henry Akona was a fitting accompaniment to the show, with musicians on piano, cello, and vocals. A few vocal passages stretched longer than I felt necessary, since the words were repetitive, but the quality of the performance was superb. The music matched the emotional state of the dreamer well, and also gave clear cues to complement the shifts in reality.

The set was simple, but effective. I particularly liked the way that different images were projected on the semi-opaque backdrops. Shifting brain scans were used to simulate the functions of the Augmentor. The fluctuating images also allowed the "effective" dreaming to change the set around the characters in smooth transitions. Also, the musicians could be seen through the screens when the lighting shifted to focus upon them.

I enjoyed the show, although I have not read the original book and cannot comment on how faithful the script is to that text. However, coming to watch the production with no prior knowledge of this work, I had no difficulty following any of the ideas therein.

The theater was warm, but I believe that air conditioning may soon be available. A selection of refreshments was available for purchase - water, soda, and beer.

The Lathe of Heaven is playing through June 30, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 pm, and Sundays at 5 pm, with additional shows on Saturday, June 23 and June 30 at 3pm. Ticket prices range between $25-40 and can be purchased through or by calling (212) 352-3101.

Friday, June 8, 2012

We will miss you, Ray Bradbury!

As all of you no doubt know by now, Ray Bradbury died on Tuesday night, June 5th at 91. I would like to share some tributes with you. He was so influential in the world of science fiction and beyond.

Because it's my blog, I'm going to start with one of my own. I wrote him a flash fiction story for his 90th birthday. Read U Minus 90 now.

And here's a statement from another very influential science fiction writer who has the honor of being the only author to be interviewed here twice - Robert Sawyer.

Award-winning author (Hugo and Nebula) Robert J. Sawyer put out this statement about Ray Bradbury's death: "Ray Bradbury firmly introduced America to the notion of extraterrestrial life. That aliens appeared in the pages of THE SATURDAY EVENING POST excited the public's imagination in a way stories relegated to the scifi pulp magazines never could. Without Bradbury, there'd be no public appetite for SETI."

Sawyer will join scientists, writers, artists and sci-fi stars at SETIcon II, hosted by the SETI Institute. The Institute is known for its science-based search for evidence of life on distant worlds in its broad spectrum of astrobiology research. SETIcon will take place June 22 through 24 in the heart of the Silicon Valley at the Hyatt Santa Clara.

For more information about SETIcon go to

For more information about Sawyer go to:

Here's the June Phoenix Pix:

Our free book for June 2012 is Paul Cook’s Tintagel.

The coupon code is 9991527 and the will be good from June 2 through June 30. Links for downloading the book (as usual) from our online catalogue at

Short Description of the Book:

Music can be many things, but when it is used as a medium to spread a deadly virus that transports listeners to a deadly world of dreams, it threatens the future of humanity itself.

But not everyone is susceptible to the deadly virus and there is a group of 'stalkers' who are immune to its effects.

Francis Lanier is a stalker who can walk through the deadly dream worlds of others. He spends his time rescuing others from their dreams and races to find a final cure for this deadly infection.

Review Blurbs:

"An imaginative thriller."—Publishers Weekly
"Paul Cook's Tintagel is readable and intriguing."—The Reference Library
"(A) mature work...Cook renders the characters with sympathy and psychological depth."—Heavy Metal
"Ends with a marvelous surprise"— N.Y. Daily

Friday, June 1, 2012

Half-Made World comes complete

The Half-Made World
Felix Gilman
Tor (2010)

Review by Clare Deming

The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman is an odd, but utterly fascinating book. I was initially drawn to it by the setting - a fantasy world with steampunk trappings, but also one in which humanity is constantly pushing against a western frontier. However, unlike the American frontier of our history, the wilds of this land are not yet made. The rules of weather, physics, and nature are in flux, and the further from civilization one goes, the worse this instability becomes. The frontier is also inhabited by the native Folk, who are not quite human, but are often hunted or enslaved by humans. Further west, the free Folk are numerous, with rumored spiritual powers and underground cities.

The narrative follows the story lines of three characters. Dr. Liv Alverhuysen answers the call of a letter from the House Dolorous, originally meant for her deceased husband. The House sits to the far west and is a hospital for those injured in body or mind. It is overwhelmed by patients in the wake of war and the fall of the Red Valley Republic that dared to stand for its ideals thirty years past. Liv is a psychiatrist, like her late husband, and decides to go in his place.

Creedmoor is an agent of the Gun - powered and directed by the demon housed in his weapon. He would prefer to go about his own business, but his Gun - Marmion - calls him back to its service. The Gun is perpetually at war with the Line, a collection of demon-possessed trains that is always expanding to new reaches of the west.

Sub-Invigilator (Third) Lowry serves the Line as one of many workers in an operation full of industrialism and a hive-like culture. Lowry does his job with obsessive perfection and hides his blooming ambition from his superiors. The Line is quick to sacrifice anyone who does not perform up to its standards, and there are always more men ready to fill any gaps.

Both Creedmoor and Lowry head toward the House Dolorous, for a famous General of the Red Valley Republic is rumored to be there under treatment. This General may hold the secret to a weapon which could finally turn the tide of war for either Line or Gun, but his mind has been shattered by the weapons of the Line.

Dr. Alverhuysen, Creedmoor, and Lowry all become involved around the search for the General, and this takes them through an amazing series of interactions with each other and the world around them. The Line uses steam-power, tracking devices, telegraphs, and mysterious bombs. Creedmoor uses his cunning and ruthlessness. The characterization for everyone was very strong, and I found myself rooting for each one of them at times, even if Dr. Alverhuysen was the only likeable character, trying to heal and find the humanity in everyone.

The writing was superb, and even during lulls in the action, the characters and the world itself were so intriguing that I never lost interest. I would have preferred a more conclusive ending as far as the plot, but this was a story that was more about the characters, and the end of the book certainly dealt with that.

A second book set in the Half-Made World is due to be released in November 2012.