The Fast Forward YouTube Channel

If you don’t know, we have a YouTube channel. You can find it under the name ‘Fast Forward: Contemporary Science Fiction ‘. This is where we have been putting our interviews from the show and other special web only material. Take a look at what is there and feel free to head over and subscribe.

This special material includes (newest to oldest) -

  • David Brin on Predicting the Future with SF , one of a number of short pieces we shot with him when he was in DC recently. Expect more as time goes on.
  • A memorial of the Space Shuttle Columbia Crew
  • A report on the Nippon 2007 World Science Fiction Convention
  • A short stand up interview with Brit Mandelo, Sr. Fiction Editor and Julia Rios, Fiction Editor of Strange Horizons at Chicon 7: 70th World SF Convention
  • Highlights of the 2012 Nebula Awards Ceremony
  • A short interview with Alisa Krasnostein, publisher of Twelfth Planet Press Story when they won the 2010 WSFA Small Press Award
  • A short talk with Kathleen Ann Goonan at Renovation, the 2011 Worldcon
  • Saving Arlington’s Planetarium
  • A short talk with Laura Anne Gilman at Balticon 44
  • Space Shuttle Atlantis Launch 
  • A short talk with Patrick Nielsen Hayden at the 2009 Worldcon
  • A short talk with Nalo Hopkinson at the 2009 Worldcon
  • A short talk with Robert Silverberg at the 2009 Worldcon
  • A short talk with Gary Wolfe at the 2009 Worldcon
  • Michael Swanwick & Marianne Porter read “Land of Our  Fathers”
  • A report on Virginia’s Will F. Jenkins (Murray Leinster) Day
  • Music Videos by Donald Wolcott
  • Short talks from Capclave 2008 with – Mindy Klasky, Maria V Snyder, James Morrow, Michael Swanwick
  • Cigar-Box Faust, a performance by Michael Swanwick
  • Periodic Table of Science Fiction: Sodium – Electric  Pickle, a performance by Michael Swanwick
  • Reports from Denvention 3, the 2008 Worldcon

The interviews that are currently on our YouTube Channel are (newest to oldest) -

  • Michael Dirda
  • Neil Clarke
  • Nick Mamatas
  • John Scalzi
  • Jennifer Allison
  • Keith Donohue
  • Phyllis Irene Radford
  • Edward M. Lerner
  • Joe Haldeman
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • Geoffrey A. Landis
  • Connie Willis
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Ginjer Buchanan
  • Jack McDevitt
  • Jeff Vandermeer
  • Ann Vandermeer
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Neal Stephenson
  • Kathleen Ann Goonan
  • James Morrow
  • Jim Butcher
  • A.C. Crispin
  • Matthew Mercer
  • Cory Doctorow (2 parts)
  • Catherine Asaro

Last Week – 6 – Book of Mormon

We just saw “The Book of Mormon” at the Kennedy Center. The tickets were/are a very hot item. The demand crashed the Kennedy Center website when they went on sale. So how was it? Short version – GREAT!! The reviews of the touring company has said that this company may be better than the original Broadway cast. That may well be, everyone was spot on. Samantha Marie Ware, in particular, was perfect as the young Ugandan girl, Nabulungi . She had just the right combination of innocence, hope, and a sense of reality. Her big song – “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” (sound it out), is not only very funny, but heartbreaking in it’s own way as you see all it takes for her to see a place a a paradise based on what her life is like.

Mark Evans and Christopher John O’Neill are the two male leads and play the two Mormon elders on their mission perfectly. O’Neill, as Elder Cunningham) is the big surprise. This is his professional stage acting debut. Previously, he was a comedian, touring as part of a sketch comedy duo. He hit just the right notes (acting and singing) as the misfit missionary. Evans, a British actor playing Elder Price, does the upright, ‘perfect’ elder, looking forward to doing something incredible. The rest of the company as the rest of the Mormon in the mission and the villagers in the poor African village do their parts with verve, intelligence, and skill.

The play is very well put together and each act is a very speedy hour, and full of great songs. I think the key to how well this works, is that, in spite of all the irreverent, well, let’s be honest, highly offensive to many, material – after all it is written by the folks that gave us “South Park”, at it’s core, “Book of Mormon” is full of heart.


Last Week – 5 – British Mysteries

I thought I would write something abiut some of the TV I’ve been watching. I seem to be watching a bunch of British mysteries/cop shows from BBC America and WETA-UK. They are quite different for the American ones and I have been enjoying them quite a bit. No a game I’ve been playing while watching these is to look at the secondary characters and guests to see which ones might be a good Doctor Who. It won’t be one of the stars because they’re too much identified with that character.

The ones I have been watching are (in no particular order) -
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates
Midsomer Murders
Death in Paradise
Inspector Lewis
Rosemary and Thyme

Some of these have actors that I know from other series and movies. Hetty Wainthropp stars Patricia Routledge from Keeping Up Appearance (A British sit com that I didn’t like) as a retired woman in Northwest England who becomes a private investigator and solves crimes. This one doesn’t have her solving murders and such but usualy smaller personal crimes. Derek Benfield is her husband and Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings and Lost) is their lodger and Hetty’s assistant. This is a cozy, friendly show and we enjoy it quite a bit.

Death in Paradise stars Ben Miller who was the pompous bureaucratic head of ARC in Primeval (a show I was a fan of) as a pompous bureaucratic policemen who ends up on a British Caribbean island, running the police station. While his character (DI Poole) is very similar to James Lester (Primeval), he does loosen up as time goes by and is a very good, honest cop. This show, while a police procedural, has a nice atmosphere and interesting characters. Having the British style of a show in such a different location works well too.

Rosemary and Thyme stars Felicity Kendal, who I’ve been a fan of since Good Neighbors. She stars with Pam Ferris as gardeners who solve murders. Felicity’s character, Rosemary Boxer,is a botanist who does gardening consulting, Pam Ferris is a retired, soon to be divorced, ex-cop who ends up working for her. It seems that every job they take ends up having a murder happening which they end of solving. The two of them are delightful. A word of warning – don’t hire them, you may well die.

Those shows I started watching because I knew the stars and kept watching because they are fun.

We started watching Midsomer Murders because it was on one night and we though we’d give it a try. We haven’t missed one since. This is a cop show, about DCI John Barnaby and his assistant DS Gavin Troy who work murders in Midsomer County. Since there seems to be a great many murders in this county of small English villages, I’d probably not move there if I were you. This show has well done murder mysteries and the main characters are well drawn and acted. The depiction of English village life is very nicely done as well. Since the county is rather small, Barnaby and Troy are part of the society of many of the stories as well.

Inspector Lewis is a continuation of the Inspector Morse series. Lewis (Kevin Whately) was Morse’s working class assistant and is now a DI, still in Oxford. Laurence Fox plays his sergeant, James Hathaway. Robbie Lewis is a widower whose wife was killed in a hit and run. He has given himself to his work and often shows his disdain for the Oxford academicians. His intelligence is used to solving murders. Hathaway is a very guarded, private person who is very erudite and given to odd quotes. He joined the police after leaving a Catholic seminary. The interplay between these two characters while they are solving murders in the beautiful city of Oxford is very riveting. Some of the recent episodes have had some fascinating interrogations where each of the detectives sees something of themselves in the persaonalities of those they are questioning and you can see the realization in their eyes.

Next week I won’t be able to do one of these since I will be at the North American Discworld Convention in Baltimore.


What I did Last Week – 4

One of the things I’ve been doing in the last week is reading the new Guy Gavriel Kay book, River of Stars.

I’m around half way through (it’s a BIG book) and it is wonderful. No surprise there, it’s written by Guy Gavriel Kay. I don’t think he’s written even a mediocre book. This one is in the same Chinese inspired world as Under Heaven but four hundred years later, this time inspired by the Song Dynasty. While the book is long, over 650 pages, there is no filler, everything is there for a reason. While there are two main viewpoint characters (so far), we also see this place and time through the eyes of a number of other characters. This lets us see the effects that the actions of the protagonists cause, both good and bad. Kay’s style fits the period and it often seems as if you are reading an ancient Chinese tale. This is something the the author is an expert at, using the style of the prose to fit the story he is telling. I can’t wait to read the rest of the book. I don’t know where its going to go and I like that.

Before I started reading that book, I was going through the Hugo packet. As someone who is eligible to vote for the Hugos this year, I got a packet of e-versions of most of the works nominated through the Worldcon. I was able to catch up on the nominated novels, novella, novelettes, and short stories on my Nook. How cool is that!

We put up a birdfeeder earlier this spring and I’m very glad we did. It’s been nice to sit at the kitchen table and watch the birds (and squirrels, and rabbits) come by and eat. I find it really interesting. You can tell that they are prey animals, they are never relaxed, always looking around, even when eating. We don’t get any exotic or particularly interesting birds but the variety is nice. The goldfinches are my favorite, they are a lovely bright yellow. They are, however, slobs. When they eat the cracked sunflower seeds we have, they always get almost as much onto the ground as they eat. Thus is helpful to the squirrels and ground feeding birds. This seems to be a quality of all finches since the house finches (with a nice blush of red on their heads), do the same thing. We’ve also had some woodpecker type birds eating the suet we have out.

There are times when there are finches, cardinals, and wrens around the feeders flying in and out to feed. At the same time a couple of squirrels and the rabbit on the ground, eating the spillage. In addition to being fun to watch, the birds are hanging around the trees and bushes in the backyard which means that we have lovely birdsong all the time. Pom (the cat) enjoys this too. It means she has new entertainment – when she is on the windowsill watching through the window, it’s like her TV and when she is on the screened in porch watching through the screens, that’s her live theater.

That’s it for this week.


What I did Last Week – 3

On Sunday, we went to see the matinée of Ballet Across America III at the Kennedy Center. This is something they’ve been doing for, well, three years – hence the III in the name. They bring in a bunch of ballet companies and they do an evening of short programs. There are 9 companies represented and three different programs each with three of the companies. The day we went, we got to see North Carolina Dance Theater, Ballet Austin, and the Dance Theater of Harlem. This was the program we wanted to see, so we were happy. In short, it was a delightful night of ballet of all kinds. That is one of the things we like best about this kind of thing – we get to see the styles of different companies; how they dance, what kinds of dancers they like, what kind of choreography they do. It’s really interesting.

The N.C. Dance Theater did Rhapsodic Dances with music by Rachmaninoff. There were 5 couples in different colors. The dancing fit the music beautifully with the combinations of dancers changing as the different parts of the music changed. At one point, one of the ballerinas, slipped of her tutu and used it almost as a fan in a fan dance. I liked this one and it was a nice opener, but found that it occasionally got a little pat. Beth liked it more than I did, but I liked it and the music was lovely with an excellent piano (Arkadiy Figlin).

The next was Ballet Austin doing a piece called Hush (not based on the episode of Buffy, however). This used Phillip Glass music. I was a little worried about what this would be like since I’m not crazy about Glass’ music but this was a much more conventional piece, almost romantic, I thought. The dancing was very romantic as well, flowing and graceful with some of the dancers showing an amazing amount of flexibility. I liked this quite a lot, more than Beth (but I’m a romantic when it comes to ballet). Again, the orchestra did a wonderful job with another fantastic piano soloist (Lisa Emenheiser).

The last piece was Dance Theater of Harlem. They did Return choreographed by Robert Garland. This used prerecorded music, however, since that music was Aretha Franklin and James Brown, I had no complaint at all. The songs were “Mother Popcorn,” “Baby, Baby, Baby,” “I Got the Feelin’,” “Call Me” and “Super Bad.” This was a real crowd pleaser, a combination of pure ballet with pure funk. Beautifully lyrical when needed with hip shaking street moves added in. An openly sexy ballet. Their story is also interesting since, they had closed for 9 years due to debt and bankruptcy and have just recently restarted with a new set of young dancers. If the reaction of the crowd is any indication, they will do well.

Last night (Thursday) we went back to the KenCen to see “Anything Goes”. This is the touring company of the revival that won a Tony last year. It was delightful. To begin with the music and songs are by Cole Porter so that’s a big win right there. The choreography was wonderful with romantic dancing as well as big production numbers and big tap numbers. Just what you would want from a musical from the thirties (originally). The plot is a frothy silly conglomeration of gangsters, heiresses, lounge singers, and more , all on board an ocean liner going from NYC to England. The lead is Rachel York who gives you what a real Broadway musical star ought to. She really can sing the Cole Porter songs like they should be sung, from the smokiness of “I Get a Kick Out of You” to the rousing title song (with tap dancers on three levels). Her duet of “Friendship” with Fred Applegate was really funny and it was great to watch two professionals working together and having fun. And she can dance up a storm, too. This show has showstoppers aplenty and more classic standards than almost any show I’ve seen.

I know it seems that all we do is go to the theater but thats because this year we had subscriptions to both the Kennedy Center Ballet season (which we have had for years) and the regular theater season (because there were a number of shows we wanted to see), so there are times when we have something every week (or more).

Next week, I’ll probably write about what I’ve was watching on TV or reading or both.


What I did in the last week – 2

Right. Made it for a second week. I think that’s a record :)

During the last week we went to two theatrical performances. Well, one and a half.

The first was at the Kennedy Center and was The Guardsman. This is a new translation of an 1910 comedy by Molnar. An earlier translation was filmed with Lunt and Fontaine as a light comedy. It is about a married theatrical couple (The Actor and The Actress) who have been married for nearly 6 months. This is how long every one of her numerous affairs have lasted. The Actor believes his wife is getting restless and is ready to leave him, so he decides to play the part of her ideal lover – a guardsman – so that he can test her love and win her again. This production didn’t work for us. We found the new translation clunky and unfunny. Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori in The Walking Dead) was the Actress and we both found her without charisma and I thought she seemed uncomfortable on the stage. We both found the best performance was the Maid, a small part, but played very well. I thought the Actor (played by Finn Wittrock) was OK, and may have been better if the script hadn’t been so bad. I can’t tell you if it improved in the second act, because we left at intermission. We just didn’t feel like staying and watching more of the mess. I think we’ve only done that once before (and we couldn’t remember what it was). I have to say that the reviewer in the Post completely disagreed with us and loved it. Oh yeah, the set and the costumes were excellent.

Then last Saturday night we went to the Arlington Cinema and Draft House to see a performance of Cinematic Titanic. This is Joel Hodgson and some of the others from MST3K – Mary Jo Piehl, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Coniff (TV’s Frank), and J. Elvis Weinstein (who did Tom Servo) – doing the MST3K thing and riffing on a bad movie. LIVE!!! The movie at the showing we saw was Danger on Tiki Island. Before the movie they did some comedy routines. These weren’t so good and I think they would have been better served by just introducing the folks and letting then do a few funny things as part of that. Once they took their places and the movie started, it was great. It was like living through an MST3K show. And, since it was the late show and only adults, it was a dirty MST3K. There were times I was laughing so hard that it was getting hard to breathe. They still have it. We all had a wonderful time. If this shows up where you live – catch it!! The tour schedule is on their website – http://www.cinematictitanic.com

See you next week!


What I saw last week

I thought I would do a blog post about what I was doing in the last week. I may try to do this every week. We’ll see if I stick with that :) . So in the last week I went to two movies. We don’t go to many movies these days, so that was a change. Both times were weekday afternoons – an advantage of retirement.

The first movie was Star Trek:Into Darkness. Went with my wife and there were about a dozen people there, nearly all, like us, on senior discounts. We saw this on a regular screen (no IMAX, no 3D). We liked it. Sure, there were some plot issues, and, sure, there were problems with the science; but, to me, that’s OK for Star Trek. I was a huge fan of TOS when it was originally on and it had plot holes and bad science. What makes this work for me as a reboot, is that they have the key thing right – the relationships between the characters. It helps that they have good actors. Zachary Quinto did a wonderful job of subtly showing Spock’s human/Vulcan conflicts. Unsurprisingly, Benedict Cumberbatch was wonderful. Peter Weller was, well, Peter Weller, so that was great. There were a number of shout outs to the old fans – references to Mudd, the Gorn, and all that. When they did the original theme and the original voice over at the end, I had a bit of feels.

Then the other day, I (wife wasn’t interested) went to see Iron Man 3, again in the afternoon. This time they weren’t all seniors. Well, there were three at the theater and maybe two of us were seniors. This was in 3D, not IMAX. I liked Iron Man 1, liked 2 less. IM3 I enjoyed. It was a good solid comic book movie. Some of the effects were quite good, some not so much. I wish they would at least try to make the physics look more like the real world (given the need for the superhero stuff), and less like a video game. Given all that, it had the right feel for what it was. A lot of good Tony Stark off-hand comments and snark and some good character stuff as he matures – sort of. One problem with doing this movie after the Avengers is that I kept wondering why S.H.I.E.L.D wasn’t involved, I would have thought Captain America would have wanted in on this action. It also had Guy Pearce in it – he’s been in a bunch of movies that I really like – Memento, Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert, LA Confidential, Hurt Locker – and he, once again did a great job. And Ben Kingsley as well – he does two good characters. So, all in all, I liked the movie for doing a good solid job at what it was supposed to be.

I’ll try to be back next week.


Remembering the Space Shuttle Columbia

It’s been 10 years since the space shuttle Columbia was lost during re-entry at the end of mission STS-107.  Here’s a look back at a short video that Fast Forward created in February, 2003 to remember the astronauts who lost their lives.

You can find the video here:

RIP