Monthly Archives: June 2008

Accidental Nuclear Wareheads Going Off?! Get Your Seatbelts Ready


by Irma Arkus

Cold war brought us irrational crazy Americans ranting about “Commies,” Russian gambling games with jeans instead of local currencies, James Bond, and nuclear weapons. Lots and lots of nuclear weapons.

Decades later, everyone seems to have nuclear-warheads-a-plenty. The demand, strangely enough is still growing. However, according to UK Ministry of Defence safety manual, some 1700 of these wareheads have a design flaw that would allow them to set of accidentally.

According to NewScientist.com, the declassified document has exposed flaws in design and handling procedures. Even though experts assure us that as long as the safety and handling procedures are rigorously followed, the risks of nuclear warheads accidentally triggered are extremely low.

Not so, point the critics, as safety and handling procedures cannot be necessarily complied with in cases of extreme circumstances, or in a case of human error, as last April nuclear warheads were sent by error on an airplane ride from North Dakota to Louisiana.

Awards: Locus Winners

by Irma Arkus

Last Friday, instead of listening to HiSciFi, beloved science fiction authors congregated at the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, for the annual Locus Awards.

Here are the winners of the 2008 Locus Awards:

– Best Novel awarded to “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” by Michael Chabon –

This strange noir detective story takes place in an alternate universe, a small Alaskan jewish community of Yiddish speakers. Meyer Landsman, an alcoholic private eye investigates a murder in the city of Sika, a place of jewish refugees and holocaust survivors.

Chabon’s exceptional novel has thus far won Nebula Award for Best Novel, has been nominated for a Hugo Award and the Sidewise Awards, as well as Edgar Awards for Best Novel and is shortlisted for British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel. Shortly, this one gets a unilateral must-read stamp of approval.

– BestFantasy Novel awarded to “Making Money” by Terry Pratchett –

It’s Terry Pratchett folks. Nuff said. Go read.

– Best Young Adult Book awarded to “Un Lun Dun” by China Miéville –

As if Mieville needs more awards…and now he’s thinking of children too. Awwww.

– Best First Novel awarded to “Heart-Shaped Box” by Joe Hill –

The First Novel awards are always exciting as they bring new talent into the spotlight. This year’s winner, Joe Hill, presents us with “Heart-Shaped Box” and if you are reminded of a Nirvana song, you’re right as the novel is partially influenced by dead rockers and all that is supernatural.

As some of you know by now, I am not a great keener on the “supernatural” elements as my heart-strings are tugged only by science. But saying that, this novel is somewhat of a surprise as it turns out to be a major bibliophile collectible.

Judas Coyne, the protagonist of the novel, is a collector of all rock memorabilia. Combine ghosts and love of rock into one awesome novel. Re-prints of the novel are still awaited.

– Best Novella goes to “After the Siege” by Cory Doctorow

Read it. Read it now. At least read the comic book version. The one with the pictures. Yeeesh.

– Best Novelette goes “The Witch’s Headstone” by Neil Gaiman –

Read that too.

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That is more or less the summary of this year’s Locus Awards. It is worthwhile mentioning that Michael Swanwick won a Locus for story, “A Small Room in Koboldtown.” As far as art, this year’s scoop was The Arrival, by Shaun Tan.

Dreaming of Hardware: Kohjinsha ATOM Powered SX & SC Series


by Irma Arkus

I too have a dream, that some day, I will not have the choice between bulky and heavy, but a lightweight mobile device that is akin to a notebook yet some 60% smaller.

Let’s face it, since the days of watching Captain Pickard in action, we’ve been dreaming of devices size of a small notebook (and no, that weighty 14″ behemoth does not count) that we can pull out in transit and really have fun with.

Introducing new Kohjinsha ATOM Powered SX and SC Series. SX features a remarkable 8.9″ screen, 1.33GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 60GB harddrive, WiFi b/g and numerous other bells and whistles. Whereas SC-Series has a 7″ touch screen, a 1.33GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, 60GB harddrive and other bells and whistles.

What are the extras? From GPS to 1.3 Mpix camera, USB, DVD and etc.

That’s something to think about.

RE-MAKES: Akira Update


by Irma Arkus

Announced live action version of Akira is to be a two-part feature. Currently involved are Katsuhiro Ôtomo, Leonardo diCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The first of the films is aimed to be released in 2009, with its sequel to follow immediately.

Interestingly enough, diCaprio is currently on heels of numerous other science-fiction projects, including Brave New World, The Low Dwellers and a biopic based on making of Atari game company.

HiSciFi – Hulk, Geoffrey Gluckman of Deadly Exchange, Scott Wood, Venture Bros.

Irma & co. discuss Hulk, interview Geoffrey Gluckman, an ex-CIA operative and a techno-thriller novelist, talk to Scott Wood of The Interview Show, who gives us the bottom line of how artists relate to copyright laws, and then discuss many of fun news…including AIDS.

To all of those who sent us whiny messages about severe deficiency of Dr. Who discussions – please be patient. Upcoming show is all about you 🙂

Send us love: hiscifi@gmail.com
HiSciFi – Hulk, Geoffrey Gluckman of Deadly Exchange, Scott Wood, Venture Bros.

Obituaries: George Carlin


by Irma Arkus

Yesterday, we lost George Carlin. He passsed away at tender age of 71 from a heart condition. We all hoped he’d have at least 20 years more, of the curmudgeonly kind, that would speak to many more generations.

I must admit, it is devastating to lose a voice like Carlin. Many dismiss Carlin as mere comedian, but he was so much more than that. He was not so much about the haha’s. Instead he spoke the truth. Unembellished, bony, gristly truth. There were no taboos, no appeasements of greater public, diplomacy or tenderizing of perspectives. There was only Carlin and the truth.

And he did tell the truth. Over and over again he has shown that we live surrounded by irrational behavior, tolerating lies and tautologies at every corner.

He was anti-religious. Anti-BS. Anti-establishement. But more that that. He despised the lies and refused to treat the audience as children. He reminded us over and over again that we are adults, with rights, and minds of our own.

If you haven’t indulged in George Carlin, please do so now. If you haven’t dusted off the records and the books, please do so now. And remember – if assholes like Jerry Fallwel got a great sendoff, make sure old Carlin gets one at least a hundred times better. Make sure you listen and remember the truth, Carlin’s way. Your way.

Cory Doctorow Wins Locus Award


by Irma Arkus

Locus Award Ceremonies were held this week in Seattle, WA. Winner of best novella was Doctorow’s highly praised “After the Siege,” part of Overclocked collection.

The interesting thing about After the Siege is that it has been also immortalized in a comic book available for viewing and download (link).

Montreal’s Fancy Public Bike System


by Irma Arkus

Montreal, QC is getting a new public bike system. The kind of system that would really be better implemented as a health care administration tool, I might add.

On the heels of similar programs instituted in Netherlands, and France, Montreal is implementing a Public Bike System which allows for real-time monitoring of number of bikes available, using RFID chips.

Users would be able to check on computers or mobiles for proximity of bike rental depot, as well as number of units available.

Bikes are made with lightweight aluminum frames and solar panels, and equipped with RFID tags and GPS, allowing for real-time updates on their movement and number.

This system is first of its kind in North America. Should pilot project be deemed successful, the potential spin-off applications would potentially change the landscape of traffic and public transportation in cities across Canada.

Your Rights: Net Neutrality Becoming a CRTC Concern


by Irma Arkus

Net Neutrality issues are gaining prominence as Konrad von Finckenstein, CRTC Chair, calling for reexamination of the deregulated Telecommunications industry in Canada, as it may have “deviated from the central purpose of protecting the consumer.”

A complaint has been filed by Canada Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP) for a cease-and-desist in traffic-shaping policies enacted by Bell Canada. In particular, CAIP requested immediate halt of bandwidth throttling practices. CRTC is to respond to the complaints in Fall of 2008.

For a full list, read speech issued by CRTC’s Finkenstein HERE.

Japan Mobile Phones: Now Featuring Comics


by Irma Arkus

Unveiling of additional mobile services in Japan has brought on some Marvel superheroes onto the mini-screens opening up North American comic books to transit viewers in Japan.

Japanese market is estimated to garner up to 22 billion yen during this year, making 3G applications such as video streaming, and reading novels and comic books, a major market.

Japanese audiences already have access to multi-media content on their cell phones, but introduction of few new user-friendly services is expected to increase comic book audiences and gain a great deal of profits.

Current screens are up to 3.3″ and combined with 3G services are expected to bring on a whole new generation of comic book fans.