Theodore Sturgeon Award Nominees Announced

The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, located on the campus of the University of Kansas, has announced the list of finalists for this year’s Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction.

Director Christopher McKitterick made the news public today in a press release. The Sturdeon award, along with the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, will be presented on Friday, June 16th, as part of the annual Campbell Conference. This year’s conference celebrates the career of Dr. James Gunn, noted science fiction author and founder of the Center.


The nominees:

Nina Allan, “The Art of Space Travel,”, 27 July 2016
Amal El-Mohtar, “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, eds. Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe, Saga Press, 2016
Carolyn Ives Gilman, “Touring with the Alien,” Clarkesworld, April 2016
Victor LaValle, The Ballad of Black Tom,, February 2016
Ian R. MacLeod, “The Visitor From Taured,” Asimov’s, September 2016
Sam J. Miller, “Things with Beards,” Clarkesworld, June 2016
Dominica Phetteplace, “Project Empathy,” Asimov’s, March 2016
Catherynne M. Valente, “The Future is Blue,” Drowned Worlds, ed. Jonathan Strahan, Solaris Books, 2016
Kai Ashante Wilson, A Taste of Honey,, 13 October 2016

Theodore Sturgeon’s heirs helped Dr. Gunn establish the award in 1987 to recognize the best science fiction short story of each year. Sturgeon himself was known for his award-winning short fiction.

Winners will be the Guests of Honor at a reception following the conference. For more information about the Gunn Center, click here.


Dr. Bashir Fights Google For CONTROL In Section 31 Outing

Section 31: Control
Written by David Mack
Published by Pocket Books (March 2017)
Mass paperback, 368 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1501151705

That’s exactly what it is: Dr. Julian Bashir and his cohorts are up against a galactic Google that started as a surveillance program on Earth and has since morphed into a hot mess of an Evil A.I. that we all know Google will become one day.

It’s kind of a political thriller, kind of a cautionary tale, and to be honest, it’s a little disappointing.

David Mack is, in my book, one of the better Trek writers in the cabal at the moment, but the Section 31 stories are feeling less and less like Star Trek and more like James Bond vs. Hydra in Spaaaaace! The way Julian Bashir has evolved as a character, too, has become less and less interesting. Is it just me? Am I just getting old? I find I have less patience than I did for stories that just don’t feel like they gel.

Not to say it isn’t well-written. It is. Mack is still a very very good writer, and the craft of the book is top notch. Plus, he’s very good at getting the character voices right. Not only Bashir, but also Garak, Data, and Lal. But it’s the story that didn’t really engage me much. The idea of an over-reaching computer program that gains sentience has been done several times in Trek, and by now it’s become a tired trope. In addition to that, it was very easy for me to bounce out of the story and equate the Uraei program with the pernicious Google A.I. that reads our e-mails, watches the web sites we visit, and calls up advertisements based on our online behavior.

Besides Star Trek — with Vejur and the Borg and Nomad — there’s also The Terminator‘s Skynet, Minority Report‘s PreCrime division, Battlestar Galactica‘s Cylons, Ultron, Mycroft, HAL9000, Hex, all giving us massive pieces of technology that infiltrate our lives and spy on us “for our own good”. We even just got a version of it with AIDA becoming human and losing her marbles over on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Is it a sign of the times? Are we collectively trying to warn ourselves against the Coming of the Google?

It never ends well.

There are plenty of moral dilemmas here. Bashir is so fixated on taking down Section 31 that he doesn’t really think through the possible consequences of his actions. And it would seem his days as a doctor are past, as he doesn’t really act like one in this story. Plus, there’s the question of what happens if/when Uraei is disabled. Or can it be removed from the galactic network? Is it so ingrained in the Federation’s computer systems that there’s no beating it? And who’s in charge, Uraei or Section 31? What happens if you cut off the head of the secret Evil Organziation? Do they fall apart? Go to ground? Regroup around a new leader? Come back stronger?

Bottom line: read it for the enjoyment of reading David Mack’s work, not for the wholly original concept of a vast network of artificial intelligence digging into every part of our lives.

TIME FREAK: Because Time Travel Fixes Everything, Right?

Deadline reports that the romantic comedy Time Freak has a new sales partner in Good Universe, which will be handling transactions during and after the Cannes Film Festival.

Haven’t heard of it? First for us, too.

The project is based on an Oscar-nominated short film by the same title, with a brilliant physics student named Stillman (Asa Butterfield) building a time machine after being dumped by his girlfriend (Sophie Turner). Using time travel, Stillman tries to fix all the mistakes he made in order to save the relationship. Skyler Gisondo co-stars as Stillman’s best friend Evan, who gets dragged along the way.

This will be the directorial debut for Andrew Bowler, who has written and acted in plenty of projects for TNT, MTV, and TLC. He’s a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and has also been in several Funny or Die projects.

Time Freak is produced by QC Entertainment, which partnered on Jordan Peele’s Get Out, and Rhodes Entertainment.

Now, having gone through a series of “time travel fixes” attempted by Barry Allen over on The Flash, we know this is going to go horribly, horribly wrong. The advantage Time Freak may have is that it will be played for comedy. Because at this point, we can only laugh at the idea, because the drama of it has been completely played out by now.


Ridley Scott Developing Sci-Fi Block for TNT

[featured image from PROMETHEUS, 20th Century Fox]

During the upfront presentations this week, Turner announced that Ridley Scott will be shepherding a new block of programming for TNT.

Scott Free Productions, along with Turner’s Studio T, will be developing a block of programming that will include hour-long series, short form programs, and materials in other formats (web series? social media content?), with Scott and David W. Zucker in executive producer positions along with Jordan Sheehan and Clayton Krueger.

Scott, who teamed with TNT on the 2007 miniseries The Company, said, “Being given the creative license to generate and develop science fiction programming in a variety of formats for TNT is very exciting. This genre is one of my favorites, and there are an infinite amount of original and innovative story ideas out there that we are looking forward to exploring with TNT. It is very exciting for all of us.”

Scott has been involved in several notable science fiction projects over the years, including the original AlienBlade Runner, and The Martian. For television, his company has produced The Man in the High Castle and BrainDead, among numerous projects.

Sarah Aubrey, EVP Original Programming at TNT: “We’re looking to create a programming block filled with the kind of imaginative, awe-inspiring storytelling that has made science fiction such a beloved and enduring genre. Ridley Scott has created some of the best and most popular science-fiction movies of all time, and we look forward to bringing his fans even more of his smart, sophisticated stories.”

The announcement comes ahead of Alien: Covenant hitting theaters (read Mr. Harvey’s non-spoiler impressions here).


VENOM: Tom Hardy to Play Eddie Brock, Fleischer to Direct

Multiple outlets are reporting that Tom Hardy (Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) is set to play Eddie Brock in Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man spinoff, Venom, set to release October 5, 2018.

While all the news has Hardy “in negotiations” — which could fall apart at the last minute, of course — Sony posted on Twitter that Hardy has the role, so it could be that everyone is hedging their bets.

According to The Tracking Board, this version of the story will not be spun out of the Spider-Man story, even though that’s where the character originated. Does this mean we’ll see Hardy’s Venom during his vigilante phase in San Francisco? If Spider-Man is removed from his story, Venom’s origin will have to be altered so that Brock obtains the symbiote in some other fashion. Maybe still in the church, but not after Spidey discards it.

Venom was introduced in 1988, created by David Michelinie, Todd McFarlane, and Mike Zeck. The character has mainly been a villain, an alien symbiote that needs a human host to survive. First appearing on film in Spider-Man 3, Venom’s Eddie Brock was played by Topher Grace. The Hollywood Reporter says that this project is a big priority for Sony, and that it will launch a new set of Spider-Man universe projects, the next one being a Silver Sable/Black Cat story (possibly the same one announced here). Could Venom be used to spin out Black Cat? They do have a bit of a history..

It’s not the first time Hardy has been courted for comic book projects since the Dark Knight trilogy ended. Both DC and Marvel projects have had him on the radar — Suicide Squad and X-Men: Apocalypse — with no deal falling into place. The Oscar nominee (for The Revenant) is also reported to be a big fan of the character.

Venom was written by Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner, with Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach producing along with Amy Pascal. Columbia Pictures execs Palak Patel and Eric Fineman will oversee the project on the studio side.

For the director’s chair, Sony is looking to Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer, who was also in the running for the studio’s revival of Ghostbusters when it was going to be Ghostbusters 3. Fleischer has also directed episodes of Santa Clarita Diet (which our Team Zombie discusses on the Zombpocalypse Now podcast) and was in the running for other comic book movies such as Ant-Man and Suicide Squad 2.

This will be the first Spider-Man related story produced by Sony following their deal modification with Marvel that allows the webhead to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe produced by Marvel Studios. That deal followed several announcements by Sony that they were developing several films in the Spider-Man universe, including Sinister Six and a movie centered around Aunt May. All of that has fallen by the wayside in the aftermath of the Sony hack scandal and changing of the studio execs, but it appears some projects are still viable enough for Sony to re-visit.


ROGUES GALLERY #53: Barry is Still Dumb, Supergirl Needs Focus


This week: it seems that Barry Allen is still not through making dumb decisions. And even though we now know the identity of Savitar, there really doesn’t seem to be any kind of a plan from the writers room. And Supergirl has yet to get out of being about all the lovebird characters and get back to being about … well… Supergirl.

Arrow continues to slide into irrelevancy. Powerless is cancelled, but we have Black Lightning waiting in the wings.

Plus: we’ve decided to weaponize Mr. Townley’s recaps and unleash him on Gotham

Watch a special LIVE edition of episode 53 here on SciFi4Me TV

The panel: Ann Laabs, Jennifer Wise, Jeff Hackworth, Will Tramp, Jason Hunt





H2O #155: In Which We Discuss Planet Comicon 2017


It’s over for another year.

Planet Comicon has come and gone, and this year we got a great opportunity to repeat what we did at Worldcon: broadcast live online from the event floor. With the help of our friends at, we were able to stream interviews and live coverage from PCC pretty much all weekend.

In this episode, we take a look at how things came together and how the weekend went. Our post-Planet analysis continues, and we’re still posting video to SciFi4Me TV, so check back frequently for updates. We think we may have an angle on this live video thing, but we’re still getting a feel for what the equipment can do, should do, and what our team is able to deliver — which is a lot!

Programming note: H2O is now on a bi-weekly schedule, so every other Saturday is when you’ll get a new episode.





AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Marks a Return With Whedon Banter — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #117

Episode 421 “The Return”
Written by Maurisa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon
Directed by Kevin Tancharoen

Our intrepid Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are back in the real world, and it’s not without its hangups. What with Mack still being in the Framework and May trying to shoot Ophelia and Fitz getting in the way and the two of them whisking out BAMF-style and Coulson not wanting to admit he cracked open the bottle and oh, how many robot copies of the Russian are there now?…

But at least it appears that Fitz won’t be the villain of next season (is there a next season?), at least not yet. He again demonstrates just how good a heart he has, even in the face of utter sociopathic murderous rage from his wanna-be girlfriend who suddenly finds that she’s… not? uh-oh. What was that about a woman scorned?…

Next week: the Ghost Rider returns!

The panel: Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt





We’re Getting a HELLBOY Reboot Instead of the Sequel Everyone Wants

Just over a week ago at Planet Comicon, Ron Perlman confirmed that Hellboy 3 is dead, despite interest from the star and director Guillermo del Toro.

Now comes news that instead of a sequel, Millennium Films is negotiating with original franchise producers Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin for a reboot of the story. Neither del Toro nor Perlman are involved. Instead, director Neil Marshall (The DescentGame of Thrones) will helm the picture. Working title is Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen. Script is from Andrew Crosby, Christopher Golden, and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola.

Dark Horse Entertainment will once again be co-producing, with Mike Richardson supervising the project. If Millennium makes the deal, they’ll be the third studio to make a Hellboy picture, following Sony/Revolution (Hellboy) and Universal Pictures (Hellboy II: The Golden Army).

Stranger Things star David Harbour is said to be in talks for the lead role. His other credits include Suicide SquadBlack Mass, and The Newsroom.

Addressing the rumor that Mignola was responsible for Hellboy 3 not moving forward, the comics veteran wrote, “I don’t have the power to nix things. If there was a studio that really wanted to make a very expensive Del Toro Hellboy movie — or del Toro really wanted to make it — it would have happened by now.”


11th Annual Scribe Award Nominees Announced

The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers has announced the list of nominees for the Scribe Awards for 2017.

IAMTW is a professional organization for authors who write fiction based on established story universes. This can include licensed works in television, movies, gaming, or comic books. The fiction can be original works set in an existing franchise, or adaptations of stories that have appeared in some other format.

Adapted – General and Speculative
Assassin’s Creed by Christie Golden
Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins
Suicide Squad by Marv Wolfman

Dark Shadows: Blood & Fire by Roy Gill
Torchwood: Broken by Joseph Lidster
Torchwood: Uncanny Valley by David Llewellyn
Doctor Who: Mouthless Dead by John Pritchard

General Original
24: Trial by Fire by Dayton Ward
Don Pendleton’s The Executioner: Missile Intercept by Michael Black
Murder Never Knocks by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Robert B. Parker’s Slow Burn by Ace Atkins
Tom Clancy’s True Faith and Allegiance by Mark Greaney

Short Fiction
“A Dangerous Cat” by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins
X-Files “Drive Time” by Jon McGoran
X-Files “An Eye for an Eye” by George Ivanoff
X-Files “Love Lost” by Yvonne Navarro
X-Files “XXX” by Glenn Greenberg

Speculative Original
Assassin’s Creed Heresy by Christie Golden
Warhammer 40,000 Warden of the Blade by David Annandale
Star Trek Elusive Salvation by Dayton Ward
Supernatural Mythmaker by Tim WaggonerWinners will be announced at Comic-Con in San Diego, day and time to be determined.


AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Is Back in the Real World, and Yikes! — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #116

Episode 420 “Farewell, Cruel World”
Written by Brent Fletcher
Directed by Vincent Misiano

Back to our regular programming as the gang gathers in the post-convention bunker to discuss the latest really tough to watch episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and not because it was badly written, but because there was plenty of emotionally-charged scenes that really worked. It’s a really solid episode with a lot of moments that build to a few gut-wrenching final minutes. As we predicted, Fitz looks like he’s going to have some … issues. And our intrepid heroes inside the Framework will have to live with the knowledge that they’re not “real” in the traditional sense, but then what are they?

And now that most of the team is out of the Framework, what does it mean for everyone? How does Fitz cope with the monster he became inside? How does everyone process Mack’s decision? What will happen to PhilLinda?

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt





From Planet Comicon 2017: LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN Episode 115 Live

Episode 419 “All the Madame’s Men”
Written by James C. Oliver & Sharla Oliver
Directed by Billy Gierhart

Live from Planet Comicon 2017!

The gang takes time to discuss Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the episode where Daisy uses her powers without pain, May becomes a traitor to Hydra, and Coulson goes on television to claim his place as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.


The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Dan Handley, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt





Elba, McConaughey Trade Tweets and Release THE DARK TOWER Footage

Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, stars of the upcoming film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, took to Twitter today and traded veiled barbs before releasing new footage from the film:

The footage included in the Twitter posts are public for the first time after being released at CinemaCon. This comes just prior to the release of a new trailer May 3rd.

The Dark Tower is based on a series of eight books, the first of which was published in 1982. Elba’s Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, is searching for the Dark Tower, which is the nexus of the multiverse, and upon finding it hopes to save his dying world. In opposition to the Gunslinger’s mission is McConaughey’s Man in Black. The film pulls elements and themes from all eight books, set in a mythical fantasy Western era. The books also connect to several of King’s other novels. King himself hinted that the film is a sequel to the book series, rather than a direct adaptation.

Arcel fed into that premise by telling Entertainment Weekly, “The hardcore fans of The Dark Tower series will know that this is actually a sequel to the books in a way. It has a lot of the same elements, a lot of the same characters, but it is a different journey.”

Fans have been awaiting the film for years as it languished in development hell, having been first optioned in 2007 by J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot. Following that, Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment had the rights from 2010 to 2015, then again along with Arcel as a co-producer starting in 2015.

Directed by Nikolaj Arcel and produced by Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, The Dark Tower also stars Katheryn Winnick, Jackie Earle Haley, Nicholas Hamilton, and Tom Taylor. It hits theaters August 4th.


Jeff Goldblum Returns to Jurassic Park Franchise

The Hollywood Reporter has broken the story that Jeff Goldblum will reprise his role as Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic World 2, alongside returning stars Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt.

Goldblum played the smart-mouthed mathematician in both the original Jurassic Park and its sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park. His character was one of the few who survived multiple encounters with dinosaurs. Probably by going faster (yes, everyone’s making that joke).

Jurassic World 2 continues the Universal/Amblin franchise after Jurassic World took in $1.67 billion worldwide in 2015. Director Colin Trevorrow co-wrote the upcoming film with Derek Connolly, and the new picture will be directed by J.A. Bayona with Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley executive producing along with Steven Spielberg.

Wonder if chaos theory still applies…?


AVATAR Sequels Finally Get Release Dates

It’s now official: the trips to Pandora will re-commence in December 2020.

Director James Cameron revealed at last year’s CinemaCon that there will be four sequels to the original Avatar, which is still the top-grossing film of all time at the global box office. The 2009 entry into the franchise made $2.8 billion worldwide.

In the meantime, the Tours to Pandora feature at Walt Disney World in Orlando will begin May 27, 2017. It’s part of the productions partnership with Disney Animal Kingdoms, and was announced in August 2015. In a February 2017 conference call, Disney exec Bob Iger announced that the new park would be opening this summer.