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DISCWORLD Terry Pratchett's fantasy series, which takes place on a flat world on the backs of four elephants on the back of the giant tortoise A'Tuin, which swims through space bound for Who-knows-where. On this rather odd venue, Mr. Pratchett puts all the usual fantasy clichés (witches, wizards, mighty-thewed barbarians, cutesy-poo elves, vampires, zombies, various fairy tales, even Christmas and the Phantom of the Opera), applies some skewed logic to it all and comes up with something different, original and hilarious. (He comes up with some interesting food for thought as well. In the novel Hogfather, the aforementioned take on Christmas, Pterry asks a question no one seems to have bothered with before - "What does the Tooth Fairy want with all those teeth?" - and comes up with what I think is a very good answer. Read the book if you want to find out what it is.) There's a typical fantasy city - named Ankh-Morpork in this case - with guilds, thieves (and a Thieves' Guild, of course), intrigue among the nobles, a City Watch, twisty little streets - you're familiar with the template - and many of the novels are set there. The novels dealing with the Watch - Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms and Feet of Clay - work quite well as police procedurals. You wouldn't think it possible in a fantasy setting, but in two of the Discworld novels (Soul Music and Moving Pictures, respectively) Pterry takes potshots at the rock music and motion picture industries. The best stuff to come along in the Fantasy genre in a long time. Find out more at The L-Space Web, a very well-designed site with a lot of Pratchett-related stuff: quotes from his books, a bibliography, artwork and filks, a huge annotation file, FAQs, merchandise information, several links to Pratchett- and Discworld-related sites, etc., etc., etc. I'm sure that there are similar websites out there devoted to other SF and fantasy authors, just as comprehensive and just as extensive, but I don't really know and I'm not sure that I care. (Biased? Who, me?)
BABYLON 5 One of the most significant Science Fiction programs to appear on television in a long time and certainly one of the best. The final episode appeared (at least on American TV) in November of 1998, but do you think Babylon 5's popularity will die down? Not on your life! Places to start are The Official Babylon 5 Website. These people are nice enough to post links to other sites. NOTE: This site hasn't been updated for two years.
I'll also direct you to another B5 site that's pretty good: The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5. (Warning: Here be spoilers!).
Oh, all right... STAR TREK It's easy enough to dump on some of the stuff that's coming out now under the Star Trek title, and the franchise is showing some fraying around the edges. But Star Trek has changed the face of Science Fiction on the Boob TubeTM - and if it isn't, it should be, and, like it or not, it's deeply imbedded in Science Fiction As We Know It, Jim, today. And... well... I like it, okay? There is an official Star Trek web site, but I'm not pointing you to that one. Apparently Viacom (which I believe owns Paramount, which franchises Star Trek) has been going around and trying to close down the "unofficial" Trek sites. Poo on them. So I'm putting a link here to the The Star Trek: WWW site; they have some links. (Go to their List of Official WWW sites for more about Viacom.).NOTE: This site hasn't been updated for two years, either. If anyone knows a better one, let me know.
All right, why not BABYLON PARK? Admit it, when you saw the Babylon 5 episode where Kosh bites the Vorlon Big One, didn't you say to yourself, "OH, MY GOD, THEY KILLED KOSH!! YOU BASTARDS!!!" C'mon, 'fess up; we're all friends here. Well, some very creative (not to mention "twisted") folks took this and ran with it. The result is Babylon Park, which is, as if you couldn't guess, Babylon 5 as the South Park folks might do it. They used computer animation to create a trailer, a brief pilot episode, a parody of the Babylon 5: Crusade series, and even a "Terence and Philip" short entitled "Interstellar Gas". There is a fanclub (as there should be) and the website has information about joining, as well as merchandise (again, as there should be) for sale, such as T-shirts and buttons. I don't know how the South Park people feel about this (They don't strike me as being litigious, so I'd guess that they don't mind.), but several Babylon 5 alumni have gone nuts over this one; indeed, some are signed up to do voice work for upcoming Babylon Park projects. This one deserves a look. "No, Vir, that is my cheesy spoo!"
(Note: these same folks are starting work on a similar South Parkish parody of Star Trek: Voyager, which admittedly is ripe for puncturing, but I won't say much about it for now. No telling how the spoilsports at Viacom are going to react to this one. We'll have to see.)
Well, the official website seems to have gone away. Perhaps this one is dying out. Pity.
General Science Fiction and Fantasy Links
Here's a link to The UK Science Fandom Archive, which I frequent because I enjoy Dave Langford's award-winning fanzine Ansible. For that matter, I'll include a link to Dave Langford's homepage. It;s interesting to get a British perspective on Science Fiction.
Here's a link to another fannish archive site, The FANAC FanHistory Archives, which contains photos, filksongs, text versions of old fanzines, and other stuff to appeal to those interested in fannish history (of which I happen to be one).
If you want to read some classic science fiction and fantasy stories, and don't have any sentimental attachment to the printed page, there are quite a few stories at SF & Fantasy Books Online. Personally, I love the feel of a good, hefty hardback in my hands, and it's not a good idea to use a computer to squash a cockroach (Well, I wouldn't treat my books that way, anyway, but still...). However, times change, the Old Guard passeth on, and, really, I can see where a hypertextualized story could be fun. It's up to you.
I live in Wichita, KS, and there used to be some fannish activity here including conventions, a Science Fiction club and maybe the odd fanzine or two. Lately, however, local activity seems to have run out of steam, and nobody in town is doing anything substantial that I know about; whether or not this has anything to do with the general graying of Fandom is not something that I feel qualified to talk about. However, I know several Science Fiction fans in Kansas City (my brother John lives there, and he's a fan himself), and KC fandom is fortunately alive and well. Every year, people in Kansas City put on two conventions, ConQuest (a nice, small, run-of-the-mill emphasis-on-SF-literature-you-do-remember-what- books-are-don't-you? Convention that's been around for years) and Contraception (an adults-only "relaxacon" - which means no formal programming) that I enjoy attending. I'm including a link to the home page of The Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, which is pretty much what it says it is. KaCSFFS (pronounced KAKS-fuss, if it ever comes up in conversation) puts on ConQuest each year, holds monthly meetings and generally does a bunch of SF-y stuff. Here's a link to the KaCSFFS homepage.
My brother sells used books at the SF conventions and has jumped on the online entrepeneural bandwagon, offering his tomes for sale through Abebooks.com. By clicking here, you'll be taken to his listings on the Abebooks site. Check it out; he has quite a varied stock. AbeBooks is a good place to browse in any case.