Monthly Archives: February 2008

The Panopticon Singularity

By Charles Stross [with NOTES and additions from my own research to update]

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/rant/panopticon-essay.html


Author’s note: This essay was originally commissioned by Alex Steffen for the projected 111st issue of Whole Earth Review, which was to focus on the Singularity. Sadly, WER effectively ceased publication with issue 110, and (the shorter, WER-edited version of) this article is not among the content you can find on their web site. I’m therefore releasing this draft.

I originally wrote this in early 2002. I have not updated the content significantly — I think it provides a useful historical context — but have checked and, where necessary, modified the URLs. Where I have made additions to the text, they are noted.


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The 18th century utopian philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon was a prison; a circle of cells with windows facing inwards, towards a tower, wherein jailers could look out and inspect the prisoners at any time, unseen by their subjects.

Though originally proposed as a humane experiment in penal reform in 1785, Bentham’s idea has eerie resonances today. One of the risks of the technologies that may give rise to a singularity is that they may also permit the construction of a Panopticon society — a police state characterised by omniscient surveillance and mechanical law enforcement.

Note that I am not using the term “panopticon singularity” in the same sense as Vinge’s Singularity (which describes the emergence of strongly superhuman intelligence through either artificial intelligence breakthroughs or progress in augmenting human intelligence), but in a new sense: the emergence of a situation in which human behaviour is deterministically governed by processes outside human control. (To give an example: currently it is illegal to smoke cannabis, but many people do so. After a panopticon singularity, it will not only be illegal but impossible.) The development of a panopticon singularity does not preclude the development of a Vingean singularity; indeed, one may potentiate (or suppress) the other. I would also like to note that the idea has been discussed in fictional form by Vinge. [A Deepness in the Sky – a Zones of Thought book]

Moore’s Law states that the price of integrated circuitry falls exponentially over time. The tools of surveillance today are based on integrated circuits: unlike the grim secret policemen of the 20th century’s totalitarian regimes they’re getting cheaper, so that an intelligence agency with a fixed budget can hope to expand the breadth of its surveillance rapidly. In the wake of the events of September 11th, 2001, the inevitable calls for something to be done have segued into criticism of the west’s intelligence apparatus: and like all bureaucratic agencies, their response to a failure is to redouble their efforts in the same direction as before. (If at first you don’t succeed, try harder.)

It is worth noting that while the effectiveness of human-based surveillance organizations is dependent on the number of people involved — and indeed may grow more slowly than the work force, due to the overheads of coordinating and administering the organization — systems of mechanised surveillance may well increase in efficiency as a power function of the number of deployed monitoring points. (For example: if you attempt to monitor a single email server, you can only sample the traffic from those users whose correspondence flows through it, but if you can monitor the mail servers of the largest ISPs you can monitor virtually everything without needing to monitor all the email client systems. Almost all traffic flows between two mail servers, and most traffic flows through just a few major ISPs at some point.) Moreover, it may be possible to expand an automated surveillance network indefinitely by simply adding machines, whereas it is difficult to expand a human organization beyond a certain point without having knock-on effects on the macroeconomic scale (e.g. by sucking up a significant proportion of the labour force).

Here’s a shopping-list of ten technologies for the police state of the next decade, and estimates of when they’ll be available. Of necessity, the emphasis is on the UK — but it could happen where you live, too: and the prognosis for the next twenty years is much scarier.

Smart cameras

Availability: today.

The UK leads the world in closed circuit surveillance of public places, with over two [2004: four] million cameras watching sixty million people. Cameras are cheaper than cops, and act as a force multiplier, letting one officer watch dozens of locations. They can see in the dark, too. But today’s cameras are limited. The panopticon state will want cheaper cameras: powered by solar panels and networked using high-bandwidth wireless technology so that they can be installed easily, small so that they’re unobtrusive, and equipped with on-board image analysis software. A pilot study in the London borough of Lambeth is already using face recognition software running on computers monitoring the camera network to alert officers when known troublemakers appear on the streets. Tomorrow’s smart cameras will ignore boring scenes and focus on locations where suspicious activities are occuring.

(Experience suggests that cameras don’t reduce crime — they just move it to places where there’s no surveillance, or displace it into types of crime that aren’t readily visible. So the logical response of the crime-fighting bureaucracy is to install more cameras …)

NOTE:

Here is information from the site of the leading manufacturer of the software that deals with the problems of CCTV:

First:

The CCTV Problem

“Closed Circuit Television cameras (CCTV) have always been crucial in supplying surveillance and security in the fight against crime.

However, all too often, CCTV has been reduced to a retrospective, forensic role; examining what went wrong and helping investigators in the aftermath of a crime.

The efficiency of CCTV systems is further blighted by the inability of the operator to pick up all the information that is being displayed.

Studies show, “After 12 minutes of continuous video monitoring an operator will often miss up to 45% of screen activity. After 22 minutes of viewing, up to 95% is overlooked.” (Security Oz, Oct / Nov 2002)” http://www.ipsotek.com/html/cctv.php

THEN:

“The Ipsotek Visual Intelligence Suite™ is the premier software package for pro-active surveillance of high-risk environments.

The Visual Intelligence Suite™ features flexible behavioural algorithms which are used for a variety of applications where human operators struggle to keep track of risks and threats as they arise:

  • Border Security
  • Suspect Packages
  • Counter-terrorism
  • Abandoned Vehicles
  • Site Security
  • ATM Surfing / PIN theft
  • Prostitution & Kerb Crawling
  • Graffiti
  • Vandalism
  • Abnormal Motion of Cars/People
  • Muggings
  • Anti-Social Behaviour
  • Unauthorised Plant Removal
  • Unauthorised Maintenance
  • Disaster Recovery Site Protection
  • Art Galleries & High Value Retail Items
  • Critical Infrastructure Protection
  • Platform Suicide
  • Overcrowding, Vector Analysis
  • Retail Fraud
  • Iconic Buildings
  • Trackside Intrusion

Please follow the links for further analysis of intrusion, suspect packages, loitering & overcrowding. – (so following them leads to:)

Intrusion

“Many competitors offer simple intrusion alerts based on motion detection, but the VI suite goes much further. Multiple areas of interest can be set within a single field-of-view and can be customised according to their sensitivity or interest.

Again, the instant replay feature allows the attendant security personnel to review and appropriate the correct response at the touch of a button.

Continual refinement of the video algorithms and an understanding of the depth of perception has virtually eliminated false positives from birds, paper bags, stray dogs or any other unwanted foreign intrusion.”

Suspect Packages

“Ipsotek’s Visual Intelligence Platform has unrivalled abandoned package detection rates due to the background learning nature of the software

It can recognise abandoned packages, secreted away under benches or partially hidden behind pillars, regardless of the levels of footfall interference. The instant alert replay feature allows the attendant operator to identify the culprit and take appropriate action, at the touch of a screen.

The ability to recognise stationary objects that are not part of the background can also be used to highlight collapsed or unconscious persons as well as illegally parked vehicles. This is just one example of how the flexibility inherent in Ipsotek’s algorithms allows the software to focus on the problems that have been identified.”

Loitering

“Loitering is the term used to describe a person standing around without any obvious purpose. This behaviour is often displayed by prostitutes, drug dealers, muggers ad PIN surfers ( card fraud experts)

There is also strong evidence to suggest that those intent on committing suicide by jumping onto the subway tracks will wait until several trains have passed before finally plucking up courage to commit the act.

The Visual Intelligence Platform™ can recognise loitering regardless of changeable ambient light conditions or overcrowding.”

Overcrowding / Congestion

“Overcrowding can be a serious threat to life. With sports stadiums boasting ever larger capacities and the continued popularity and growth of festivals, the ability to monitor and control crowds is becoming ever more crucial if we are to avoid a repeat occurrence of some of the tragic disasters of the past.

Ipsotek’s Vector Analysis algorithms can track individual movements within the crowded scenes, displaying them motion trends and thereby allowing operators to predicts where pressure will be greatest and react accordingly.

Vector Analysis also highlights discrepancies from the expected motion trends. Ticket touts and pickpockets thrive in dense, moving crowds; working against the flow, allowing them to gain maximum exposure to others in the shortest possible amount of time.”

NOW, back to the Ipsotek site:

“The Visual Intelligence Platform™ detects unusual activity by recognising behavioural patterns pre-programmed into the computer’s memory. Once any of the selected behaviour pattern is detected, the computer notifies CCTV operators, staff or management to the potential threat using visual and audio alerts. The technology then instantly reverses and replays the incident at the touch of a screen for users to examine.

It is at the discretion of the attendant operator to then take the appropriate action.

Unlike many other ‘real-time’ solutions offered on the market, Ipsotek can work equally effectively under ambient light conditions. Thus Ipsotek software is ideally suited to application in both indoor and outdoor environments, regardless of inclement weather or natural light variations.”

See demos at: http://www.ipsotek.com/html/demos.php

http://www.ipsotek.com/html/ipsotek.php

NOTE:

“British citizens live under the most intense surveillance on this planet. By the millennium’s dawn, there was one CCTV camera for every 14 people in the UK; work in a major city, and it’s likely you’ll be filmed at least 300 times per day. In the face of flawed technology and political duplicity, Gordon Brown’s cabinet is pressing ahead with plans to introduce identity cards which will be compulsory in all but name. This country already has the largest DNA database in the world (four million files) and our personal telephone records could soon be available to more than 650 governmental bodies. Prudence or paranoia? Novacon 37’s programme stared into Today, recalled the Past and extrapolated the Britain of Tomorrow.” http://www.novacon37.org.uk/

Peer to peer surveillance networks

Availability: 1-5 years.

Today’s camera networks are hard-wired and static. But cameras and wireless technology are already converging in the shape of smartphones. Soon, surveillance cameras will take on much of the monitoring tasks that today require Police control centres: using gait analysis and face recognition to pick up suspects, handing off surveillance between cameras as suspects move around, using other cameras as wireless routers to avoid network congestion and dead zones. The ability to tap into home webcams, private security cameras, and Neighbourhood Watch schemes will extend coverage out of public spaces and into the private realm. Many British cities already require retail establishments to install CCTV: the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2001) gives the Police the right to demand access to electronic data — including camera feeds. Ultimately the panopticon society needs cameras to be as common as street lights.

(Looking on the bright side: London Transport is experimenting with smart cameras that can identify potential suicides on underground train platforms by their movement patterns, which differ from those of commuters. So p2p surveillance cameras will help the trains run on time …)

NOTE:

“Camera software, dubbed Cromatica, is being developed at London’s Kingston University to help improve security on public transport systems but it could be used on a wider scale.

It works by detecting differences in the images shown on the screen.

For example, background changes indicate a crowd of people and possible congestion. If there is a lot of movement in the images, it could indicate a fight.”

Preventing suicide

“It could detect unattended bags, people who are loitering or even predict if someone is going to commit suicide by throwing themselves on the track,” said its inventor Dr Sergio Velastin.”

From above link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1953770.stm

See also: http://www.325collective.com/social-control_surveillance_capital.html

AND, lest you think this is purely U.K.:

All Things Considered, October 26, 2007 · Chicago already has an elaborate network of surveillance cameras to detect crime — 560 cameras with plans to install 100 more.

Now, the city is teaming with IBM to launch what is being billed as the most advanced video security network in the United States: a system that could be programmed to recognize and warn authorities of suspicious behavior, such as a backpack left in a park or the same truck circling a high-rise several times.

IBM’s Roger Rehayem says smart cameras using analytic software can send out alerts for vehicles of certain colors, models and makes. And if a camera is positioned right, it can pick out license plates or even recognize faces….

Chicago officials say they’re not completely sold yet on the smart surveillance technology. They say visual and audio advancements, such as gunshot recognition, just haven’t been perfected enough yet to justify the cost of installing smart surveillance cameras citywide.” http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15673544

ALSO:

“Triggered Response

Dec 8, 2005, By Jim McKay

The sound of gunshots in high-crime neighborhoods may or may not move residents to call 911. In some neighborhoods, the sound of gunfire is unfortunately part of the landscape, and when they do call, residents can’t always be sure where the sound came from.
So what if the gunshot automatically triggered a 911 call, and captured video of the shooter? Police in Chicago are hoping to curb gun violence with technology that does just that.
The technology — Smart Sensor Enabled Neural Threat Recognition and Identification (SENTRI) — recognizes the sound of a gunshot within a two-block radius, pinpoints the location of the shot with a surveillance camera, focuses on the location, and in less than 1 second, places a 911 call.
The goal is to use the devices to prevent homicides in areas known for gang activity and gun violence.
Continued Vigilance
Chicago successfully deployed 53 surveillance cameras over the years, and has deployed the gunshot-recognition technology in about one-third of those. The cameras, by themselves, were credited with reducing the city’s 2004 crime rate to its lowest level since 1965 — sexual assault is down 5 percent from the previous year, robbery is down 8 percent, aggravated assault is down 5 percent, and total violent crime is down 7 percent — and it is hoped the SENTRI system will provide even more ammunition against crime.” http://www.govtech.com/gt/97507

AND:

The Sentri Solution: A New Age in Law Enforcement:

“Safety Dynamics specializes in the use of smart sensors for threat recognition and localization. Safety Dynamics is currently selling and supporting a system for law enforcement called SENTRI (Sensor Enabled Neural Threat Recognition and Identification). The system is a breakthrough technology that recognizes gunshots and explosions and sends range and bearing details to cameras which can then locate the source of the event.”http://www.safetydynamics.net/products.html

So, it is here, now.

Gait analysis

Availability: now to 5 years.

Ever since the first slow-motion film footage, it’s been clear that people and animals move their limbs in unique ways — ways that depend on the relative dimensions of the underlying bone structure. Computer recognition of human faces has proven to be difficult and unreliable, and it’s prone to disguise: it’s much harder to change the length of your legs or the way you walk.

Researchers at Imperial College, London, and elsewhere have been working on using gait analysis as a tool for remote biometric identification of individuals, by deriving a unique gait signature from video footage of their movement.

(When gait analysis collides with ubiquitous peer-to-peer smart cameras, expect bank robbers to start wearing long skirts.)

NOTE:

See the paper on “People Detection and Recognition using Gait for Automated Visual Surveillance by Imed Bouchrika and M S Nixon, University of Southampton, UK, presented at The Institute of Engineering and Technology at a conference on Crime and Security in London, 13-14th June, 2006: http://www.cs.nott.ac.uk/~lmg/IETConf_VisualSurveillPeopleRecogGait.pdf

So, this is here, now.

Terahertz radar

Availability: 2-8 years.

Very short wavelength radio waves can be tuned to penetrate some solid and semi-solid surfaces (such as clothing or drywall), and return much higher resolution images than conventional radar. A lot of work is going into domesticating this frequency range, with funding by NIST focussing in particular on developing lightweight short-range radar systems. Terahertz radar can pick up concealed hard objects — such as a gun or a knife worn under outer clothing — at a range of several metres; when it arrives, it’ll provide the panopticon society’s enforcers with something close to Superman’s X-ray vision.

(If they can see through walls, why bother with a search warrant?)

NOTE: See the same conference as above: “Advances in Through Wall Radar for Search, Rescue and Security Applications by Hugh Burchett, Imaging Detection and Tracking Group Leader, Cambridge Consultants, UK, presented at The Institute of Engineering and Technology at a conference on Crime and Security in London, 13-14th June, 2006: http://www.cs.nott.ac.uk/~lmg/IETConf_ThroughWallRadar.pdf

ALSO:

Physical optics modelling of millimetre-wave personnel scanners

Pattern Recognition Letters, Volume 27 , Issue 15 (November 2006),
Special issue on vision for crime detection and prevention, Pages: 1852 – 1862 by Beatriz Grafulla-González, Katia Lebart, and Andrew R. Harvey

“We describe the physical-optics modelling of a millimetre-wave imaging system intended to enable automated detection of threats hidden under clothes. This paper outlines the theoretical basis of the formation of millimetre-wave images and provides the model of the simulated imaging system. Results of simulated images are presented and the validation with real ones is carried out. Finally, we present a brief study of the potential materials to be classified in this system.” abstract http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1226520.1226532

ALSO:

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“Is it possible to screen everyone that enters­—or exits—your facility, without screeching your operations to a virtual halt? Do you know what your visitors, customers, patrons, constituents and staff may be hiding without stopping and questioning each one? Would you like an easier way to know who to search or where to look?

The BIS-WDS® GEN 2

  • Provides standoff threat detection without requiring subjects to stand still
  • Detects concealed objects in as little as 0.5 second
  • Presents a full-body area at the 10-foot optimal focal point
  • Does not image specific body details, eliminating personal privacy issues
  • Transmits no radiation or energy of any kind
  • Integrates seamlessly with ancillary devices, enabling remote operation and event traps

Plus it can be…

  • Monitored remotely
  • In real time
  • Without requiring cooperation
  • Without a physical pat down

Can you see what they’re hiding? The BIS-WDS® GEN 2 Can!” http://www.brijot.com/products/index.php

See what you’re missing!
Some locations—like airports and other critical transportation hubs, have already invested in security screening technologies like X-ray machines, metal detectors, and added security staff.
But those technologies can’t see explosive materials, liquids and gels, or thick packets of currency. GEN 2 can be integrated into your existing security strategy, and by imaging subjects in motion, it can be used to direct subjects into secondary screening lanes for further investigation, focusing security efforts and eliminating profiling or ineffective random screening.” http://www.brijot.com/applicationsmarketsolutions/airport-and-transportation.php

Stem the tide of product shrinkage!
Loss prevention personnel will find the GEN 2 invaluable in identifying hidden objects exiting a facility. The system can image metals, wood, electronic devices, bottles of liquor… even fresh or frozen foods! Managers and security personnel can pat down employees virtually without physical contact. Event logging functionality records the detection, providing ideal documentation in the event of an employee termination or theft prosecution.” http://www.brijot.com/applicationsmarketsolutions/lossprevention.php

Proven Results –
Office of Law Enforcement Technology Commercialization (OLETC)
The GEN 2 system received positive, top-line results from its operational assessment trial of the GEN 2 Object Detection and People Screening System performed by the Office of Law Enforcement Technology Commercialization (OLETC) during a pilot trial at the Baltimore Police Department Headquarters Building. The results confirm state of the art screening technology characterized by advance capabilities beyond those offered by more traditional screening options such as metal detectors.
View full report details click here (link to white paper).” http://www.brijot.com/deploymentsandtrials/deployments.php

This is here now, and has been used in the U.S.

Celldar

Availability: 3-10 years.

Cellphones emit microwave radiation at similar wavelengths to radar systems. Celldar is a passive radar system that listens to the signals reflected by cellphone emitters. When a solid object passes between a transmitter and a cellphone it reduces the signal strength at a receiver.

Celldar was originally designed as a military system that would use reflected cellphone emissions to locate aircraft passing above the protected area. However, by correlating signal strength across a wide number of cellular transceivers (both base stations and phone handsets) in real time it should be possible to build up a picture of what objects are in the vicinity. Subtract the known locations of buildings, and you’ve got a system that can place any inhabited area under radar surveillance — by telephone. (As Rodney King demonstrated, we can already be tracked by cellphone. Now the panopticon society can place us under radar surveillance by phone. And as phones exchange data at ever higher bandwidth, the frequencies will shorten towards the terahertz range. Nude phone calling will take on an entirely different meaning …)

NOTE:
“CELLDAR™

Aircraft tracking using CELLDAR™.

“The CELLDAR™ passive radar system is now under joint development by ourselves and BAE Systems and is the world’s first passive radar to use cell phone basestation signals.” http://www.roke.co.uk/skills/radar/

OR:

“The Missouri Department of Transportation has begun anonymously monitoring cell phone signals as a high-tech way of tracking vehicle speeds and warning motorists of traffic jams. The goal is for motorists to get real-time traffic information over the Internet or road signs.

Privacy concerns have slowed down the Missouri project – the largest of its kind nationally – which was supposed to have been deployed statewide by summer 2006 under a contract with Markham, Canada-based Delcan Corp.” http://www.dailywireless.org/2007/09/21/celldar-monitoring-traffic-via-cell-radiation/

Ubiquitous RFID ‘dust’

Availability: 1-5 years.

Radio Frequency ID chips are used for tagging commercial produce. Unlike today’s simple anti-shoplifting tags in books and CD’s, the next generation will be cheap (costing one or two cents each), tiny (sand-grain sized), and smart enough to uniquely identify any individual manufactured product, by serial number as well as type and vendor. They can be embedded in plastic, wood, food, or fabric, and by remotely interrogating the RFID chips in your clothing or posessions the panopticon society’s agencies can tell a lot about you — like, what you’re reading, what you just ate, and maybe where you’ve been if they get cheap enough to scatter like dust. More insidiously, because each copy of a manufactured item will be uniquely identifiable, they’ll be able to tell not only what you’re reading, but where you bought it. RFID chips are injectable, too, so you won’t be able to misplace your identity by accident.

(And if the panopticon police don’t like the books you’re reading or the DVDs you’re watching, maybe they can use your tag fingerprint to order up a new you?)

NOTE:

In order to be use-friendly, one of the manufacturers of RDIF launched this site: http://www.discoverrfid.org/

And there is a Journal devoted to it: http://www.rfidjournal.com/

And the next generation IS here:

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“Hitachi Develops World’s Smallest RFID Chip”
October 26, 2007 – Sarah Gingichashvili, The Future of Things (TOFT)

“The Japanese giant Hitachi has developed the world’s smallest and thinnest Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip. Measuring only 0.15 x 0.15 millimeters in size and 7.5 micrometers thick, the wireless chip is a smaller version of the previous record holder – Hitachi’s 0.4 x 0.4 mm “Micro-Chip”.

Miniature RFID chips may also have advanced military applications such as smartdust. Smartdust is the concept of wireless MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) sensors that can detect anything from light and temperature to vibrations. Using a large amount of sensors is not a new concept – the U.S. military experimented with this idea already during the Vietnam War (Operation Igloo White). While the older sensors were relatively large and only somewhat effective, Professor Christopher Pister from UC Berkeley suggested in 2001 to create a new type of micro sensor that could theoretically be as small as a grain of sand. Research into this idea is ongoing and is being funded by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). What was only a theoretical concept in 2001 has now become a reality with the latest development by Hitachi, and could find its way to intelligence agencies across the world.

RFID chips are also a source for increasing controversy surrounding issues of privacy. An RFID chip can be used to track the location of unsuspecting individuals who have bought products that include RFID tags in their package. Having miniature cheap RFID chips, such as those developed by Hitachi, implanted inside anything we buy might make many people feel very uncomfortable. However, big businesses believe that consumers’ fears are dwarfed by the benefits of RFID chips, which include reduced theft, digital real time inventory, and better information on consumer shopping habits.” http://www.tfot.info/news/1032/hitachi-develops-worlds-smallest-rfid-chip.html

Trusted computing and Digital Rights Management

Availability: now-5 years.

Trusted Computing doesn’t mean computers you can trust: it means computers that intellectual property corporations can trust. Microsoft’s Palladium software (due in a future Windows release [2004: due in Windows Longhorn, renamed to NGSCB]) and Intel’s TPCA architecture are both components of a trusted computing platform. The purpose of trusted computing is to enforce Digital Rights Management — that is, to allow information providers to control what you do with the information, not to protect your rights.

Disney will be able to sell you DVDs that will decrypt and run on a Palladium platform, but which you won’t be able to copy. Microsoft will be able to lease you software that stops working if you forget to pay the rental. Want to cut and paste a paragraph from your physics text book into that essay you’re writing? DRM enforced by TCPA will prevent you (and snitch to the publisher’s copyright lawyers). Essentially, TPCA will install a secret policeman into every microprocessor. PCs stop being general purpose machines and turn into Windows on the panopticon state. It’s not about mere legal copyright protection; as Professor Lawrence Lessig points out, the rights that software and media companies want to reserve go far beyond their legal rights under copyright law.

If the trusted computing folks get their way, to ensure control they’ll need to pass legislation to outlaw alternative media. Jaron Lanier predicts that today’s microphones, speakers and camcorders could become contraband; and in case this sounds outlandish and paranoid, the US senate has seen more than one bill, (most prominent among them, the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act) that would require DRM interlocks in all analog-to-digital conversion electronics in order to prevent illicit copying.

(Presumably he wasn’t thinking of aircraft instrumentation, cardiac monitors, or machine tools at the time, but under the proposed law they would need copy-prevention interlocks as well … )

WIKI says about DRM and TCPA and Palladium:

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“The Next-Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB), formerly known as Palladium, is a software architecture designed by Microsoft which is expected to implement parts of the controversial “Trusted Computing” concept on future versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system. NGSCB is part of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing initiative. Microsoft’s stated aim for NGSCB is to increase the security and privacy of computer users, but critics assert that the technology will not only fail to solve the majority of contemporary IT security problems, but also result in an increase in vendor lock-in and thus a reduction in competition in the IT marketplace.

NGSCB relies on hardware technology designed by members of the Trusted Computing Group (TCG), which provides a number of security-related features, including fast random number generation, a secure cryptographic co-processor, and the ability to hold cryptographic keys in a manner that makes them extremely difficult to retrieve, even to the machine’s owner. It is this latter ability that makes remote attestation of the hardware and software configuration of an NGSCB-enabled computer possible, and to which the opponents of the scheme chiefly object. Several computer manufacturers are selling computers with the Trusted Platform Module chip, notably the Dell OptiPlex GX620.”

“NGSCB and Trusted Computing can be used to intentionally and arbitrarily lock certain users out from use of certain files, products and services, for example to lock out users of a competing product, potentially leading to severe vendor lock-in. This is analogous to a contemporary problem in which many businesses feel compelled to purchase and use Microsoft Word in order to be compatible with associates who use that software. Today this problem is partially solved by products such as OpenOffice.org which provide limited compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats. Under NGSCB, if Microsoft Word were to encrypt documents it produced, no other application would be able to decrypt them, regardless of its ability to read the underlying file format.”

“When originally announced, NGSCB was expected to be part of the then next major version of the Windows Operating System, Windows Vista (then known as Longhorn). However, in May 2004, Microsoft was reported to have shelved the NGSCB project. This was quickly denied by Microsoft who released a press release stating that they were instead “revisiting” their plans. The majority of features of NGSCB are now not expected to be available until well after the release of Windows Vista. However, Vista includes “BitLocker“, which can make use of a Trusted Platform Module chip to facilitate secure startup and full-drive encryption. TPMs are already integrated in many systems using Intel’s Core 2 Duo processors or AMD’s Athlon 64 processors using the AM2 socket.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next-Generation_Secure_Computing_Base

FROM windows itself:

“Our first delivery on the vision is a hardware based security feature in Longhorn [Vista] called Secure Startup. Secure Startup utilizes a Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) to improve PC security and it meets some of the most critical requirements we heard from our customers-specifically, the capability to ensure that the PC running Longhorn starts in a known-good state, as well as protection of data from unauthorized access through full volume encryption.

Subsequent to Secure Startup, Microsoft will be focused on continuing to build other aspects of the NGSCB vision. These will complement Secure Startup to enable a broad range of new secure computing solutions. The technical specifications, timing and delivery vehicles are TBD.” http://www.microsoft.com/resources/ngscb/default.mspx

Cognitive radio

Availability: now-10 years.

Radio waves can travel through one another without interacting. Radio ‘interference’ happens when radio transceivers use dumb encoding schemes that don’t let multiple channels share the same wavelength: interference is a side-effect of poor design, not a fundamental limit on wireless communications.

With fast microprocessors it’s possible to decode any radio-frequency signal on the fly in software, by performing Fourier analysis on the raw signal rather than by using hard-wired circuitry. Software radios can be reconfigured on the fly to use new encoding schemes or frequencies. Some such encoding schemes work to avoid interference; so-called cognitive radio transcievers take account of other transmitters in the neighbourhood and negotiate with them to allocate each system a free frequency. (The 802.11 wireless networking protocols are one early example of this in action.) SR doesn’t sound like a tool of the panopticon society until you put them together with celldar and TCPA. Cellphones and computers are on a collision course. If the PC becomes a phone, and every computer comes with a built-in secret policeman _and_ can be configured in software, the panopticon’s power becomes enormous: remote interrogation of RFID dust in your vicinity will let the authorities know who you’re associating with, reconfiguration of phones into celldar receivers will let them see what you’re doing, and plain old-fashioned bugging will let them listen in. If they can be bothered.

(Invest in tinfoil hat manufacturers; it’s the future of headgear!)

NOTE:

Scientific American MagazineMarch, 2006

Cognitive Radio

“Engineers are now working to bring that kind of flexible operating intelligence to future radios, cell phones and other wireless communications devices. During the coming decade, cognitive radio technology should enable nearly any wireless system to locate and link to any locally available unused radio spectrum to best serve the consumer. Employing adaptive software, these smart devices could reconfigure their communications functions to meet the demands of the transmission network or the user.

Cognitive radio technology will know what to do based on prior experience. On the morning drive to work, for instance, it would measure the propagation characteristics, signal strength and transmission quality of the different bands as it rides along with you. The cognitive radio unit would thus build an internal database that defines how it should best operate in different places and at specific times of day. In contrast, the frequency bands and transmission protocol parameters of current wireless systems have been mostly fixed.” http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&colID=1&articleID=000C7B72-2374-13F6-A37483414B7F0000

Lab-on-a-chip chemical analysers

Availability: now-5 years.

Microtechnology, unlike nanotechnology, is here today. By building motors, gears, pumps, and instruments onto silicon wafers using the same lithographic techniques that are used for making microcircuitry, engineers are making it possible to build extremely small — and cheap — analytical laboratories. Devices under development include gas chromatography analysers, mass spectroscopes, flow cytometers, and a portable DNA analyser small enough to fit in a briefcase. The panopticon society is lavish with its technologies: what today would occupy a Police department’s forensic lab, will tomorrow fit into a box the size of a palmtop computer.

(And they won’t have to send that urine sample to a lab in order to work out that you were in the same room as somebody who smoked a joint two weeks ago.)

SEE:

https://www-eng.llnl.gov/mic_nano/mic_nano.html

http://www.mitsi.com/

and here’s one from the above company:

image

“The Miniature DVR with built in color pinhole camera, battery, and monitor with video motion and sound activation. Ideal for Investigations in hospitals, offices, retail or hotel rooms – anywhere you need to be in and out quickly. Options available such as external camera connection, body worn and network connection shown in MD-2000 model below.”

OR from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL):

“A dime-sized amplifier makes fiber-optic communications faster and clearer. A portable DNA analyzer helps detect and identify organisms in the field, including human remains and biological warfare agents. A tiny gripper inserted in a blood vessel treats aneurysms in the brain to ward off potential strokes. What do these technologies have in common? Each one is smaller than any comparable product, opening up a host of new applications. And each originated in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Microtechnology Center.” https://www.llnl.gov/str/Mariella.html

Data mining

Availability: -5 years to +10 years

Total Information Awareness. Department of Homeland Security. NSA. ECHELON. This article was emailed to Whole Earth Review’s staff; by including these keywords it almost certainly caught the attention of ECHELON, the data mining operation run by the NSA and its associated intelligence agencies. ECHELON has monitored all internet, telephone, fax, telex, and radio traffic for years, hoovering up the data. But analysing electronic intelligence is like trying to drink water from a firehose; the problem is identifying relevant information, because for every Al Qaida operative discussing the next bomb plot, a million internet denizens are speculating and gossiping about the same topic. And if the infoglut seems bad now, wait until your every walk down the high street generates megabytes of tracking data. The Department of Homeland Security is just one of the most obvious agencies trying to tackle the information surplus generated by the embryonic panopticon society. The techniques they propose to use entail linking up access to a variety of public and private databases, from credit rating agencies and the INS to library lending records, ISP email and web server logs, and anything else they can get their hands on. The idea is to spot terrorists and wrongdoers pre-emptively by detecting patterns of suspicious behaviour.

The trouble is, data mining by cross-linking databases can generate false inferences. Imagine your HMO with access to your web browsing records. Your sister asks you to find her some books about living with AIDS, to pass on to a friend; you go look on Amazon.com, researching the topic, and all the HMO knows is that you’re looking for help on living with AIDS. And how does the Department of Homeland Society know whether I’m planning a terrorist act … or doing my research before writing a novel about a terrorist incident? To make matters worse, many databases contain corrupt information, either by accident or malice. The more combinations of possible corrupt data you scan, the more errors creep into your analysis. But to combat these problems, the Office of Information Awareness is proposing to develop new analytical techniques that track connections between people — where they shop, how they travel, who they know — in the hope that if they throw enough data at the problem the errors will go away.

(Guess they think they need the panopticon surveillance system, then. After all, if data mining never worked in the past, obviously you can make it work by throwing more data at it …)

The pressure to adopt these technologies springs from our existing political discourse as we struggle to confront ill-defined threats. We live in a dangerous world: widespread use of high technology means that individuals can take actions that are disruptive out of all proportion to their numbers. Human nature being what it is, we want to be safe: the promise of a high-tech surveillance “fix” that will identify terrorists or malefactors before they hurt us is a great lure.

But acts of mass terror exist at one end of a scale that begins with the parking ticket, the taping of a CD for personal use in a Walkman, a possibly-defamatory statement about a colleague sent in private email to a friend, a mistakenly ommitted cash receipt when compiling the annual tax return … the list is endless, and to a police authority with absolute knowledge and a robotic compulsion to Enforce The Law, we would all, ultimately, be found guilty of something.

This brings up a first major point: legislators do not pass laws in the expectation that everybody who violates them will automatically be caught and punished. Rather, they often pass new laws in order to send a message — to their voters (that they’re doing something about their concerns) and to the criminals (that if caught they will be dealt with harshly). There is a well-known presumption that criminals are acting rationally (in the economic sense) and their behaviour is influenced by the perceived reward for a successful crime, and both the risk and severity of punishment. This theory is implicitly taken into account by legislators when they draft legislation, because in our current state of affairs most crimes go undetected and unreported. A panopticon singularity would completely invalidate these assumptions.

Furthermore: many old laws are retained despite widespread unpopularity, because a vocal minority support them. An estimated 30 percent of the British population have smoked cannabis, currently an offense carrying a maximum penalty of 6 months’ imprisonment (despite rumours of its decriminalization), and an absolute majority of under-50’s supports decriminalization, but advocating a “soft on drugs” line was perceived as political suicide until very recently because roughly 25% of the population were strongly opposed.

Some old laws, which may not match current social norms, are retained because it is easier to ignore them than to repeal them. In Massachusetts, the crime of fornication — any sex act with someone you’re not married to — carries a 3 month prison sentence. Many towns, states, and countries have archaic laws still on the books that dictate what people must wear, how they must behave, and things they must do — laws which have fallen into disuse, and which are inappropriate to enforce. (There’s one town in Texas where since the 19th century it has been illegal for women to wear patent leather shoes, lest a male see something unmentionable reflected in them; and in London, until 1998 all taxis were required to carry a bale of hay in case their horse needed a quick bite to eat. Diesel and petrol powered cabs included.)

These laws, and others like them, highlight the fact that with a few exceptions (mostly major felonies) our legal systems were not designed with universal enforcement in mind. But universal enforcement is exactly what we’ll get if these surveillance technologies come together to produce a panopticon singularity.

A second important side-effect of panopticon surveillance is the chilling effect it exerts on otherwise lawful activities. If you believe your activities on the net are being monitored for signs of terrorist intent, would you dare do the research to write that thriller? Nobody (with any common sense) cracks a joke in the waiting line at airport security — we’re all afraid of attracting the unwelcome attention of people in uniform with no sense of humour whatsoever. Now imagine the straitjacket policing of aviation security extended into every aspect of daily life, with unblinking and remorseless surveillance of everything you do and say. Worse: imagine that the enforcers are machines, tireless and efficient and incapable of turning a blind eye.

Surveillance need not even stop at our skin; the ability to monitor our speech and track our biological signs (for example: pulse, pupillary dilation, or possibly hormone and neurotransmitter levels) may lead to attempts to monitor thoughts as well as deeds. What starts with attempts to identify paedophile predators before they strike may end with discrimination against people believed to be at risk of “addictive behaviour” — howsoever that might be defined — or of harbouring anti-social attitudes.

We are all criminals, if you dig far enough: we’ve broken the speed limit, forgotten to file official papers in time, made false statements (often because we misremembered some fact), failed to pay for services, and so on. These are minor offenses — relatively few of us are deliberate criminals. But even if we aren’t active felons we are all potential criminals, and a case can be — and is being — made for keeping us all under surveillance, all the time.

A Panopticon Singularity is the logical outcome if the burgeoning technologies of the singularity are funneled into automating law enforcement. Previous police states were limited by manpower, but the panopticon singularity substitutes technology, and ultimately replaces human conscience with a brilliant but merciless prosthesis.

If a panopticon singularity emerges, you’d be well advised to stay away from Massachusetts if you and your partner aren’t married. Don’t think about smoking a joint unless you want to see the inside of one of the labour camps where over 50% of the population sooner or later go. Don’t jaywalk, chew gum in public, smoke, exceed the speed limit, stand in front of fire exit routes, or wear clothing that violates the city dress code (passed on the nod in 1892, and never repealed because everybody knew nobody would enforce it and it would take up valuable legislative time). You won’t be able to watch those old DVD’s of ‘Friends’ you copied during the naughty oughties because if you stick them in your player it’ll call the copyright police on you. You’d better not spend too much time at the bar, or your insurance premiums will rocket and your boss might ask you to undergo therapy. You might be able to read a library book or play a round of a computer game, but your computer will be counting the words you read and monitoring your pulse so that it can bill you for the excitement it has delivered.

And don’t think you can escape by going and living in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere. It is in the nature of every police state that the most heinous offense of all is attempting to escape from it. And after all, if you’re innocent, why are you trying to hide?” http://www.antipope.org/charlie/rant/panopticon-essay.html

TO ADD TO THIS:

“The Ambiguous Panopticon: Foucault and the Codes of Cyberspace” by Mark Winokur, from ctheory.net

image

“David Lyon’s The Electronic Eye: The Rise of Surveillance Society — contains a lengthy discussion of the way in which panopticism is defined by “uncertainty as a means of subordination” (in other words by how the authoritarian gaze is unverifiable), his discussion of panopticism per se is largely concerned with the various data-collecting agencies that use the Internet to exert an external coercion on the individual, not with how such authority is internalized: ‘The prison-like society, where invisible observers track our digital footprints, does indeed seem panoptic.’ A little less often, scholars are interested in the ways that the Net limits our ability to think outside the Net, in other words in questions about discourse and discipline.”

From the footnotes: David Lyon, The Electronic Eye: The Rise of Surveillance Society, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minneapolis Press, 1994, p. 65.

“An even more recent book states the case more baldly: “[W]e have every reason to believe that cyberspace, left to itself, will not fulfill the promise of freedom. Left to itself, cyberspace will become a perfect tool of control” (Lawrence Lessig, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, NY: Basic Books, 2000, pp. 5-6).”

http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=371#_ednref4

AND check out the articles in the Surveillance and Society’s “Foucault and Panopticism Revisited” issue of their Journal: http://www.surveillance-and-society.org/journalv1i3.htm

AND check out this article on some recent comments on the Panopticon Society and what is happening in Britain with ID cards and iris scans, etc.:http://www.wombles.org.uk/article2007061046.php

AND read “Who is watching you?” by Deborah Pierce, Seattle Press On-line, http://archive.seattlepressonline.com/article-9464.html

AND for more from the Correctional News, CN Nov/Dec 06, Facility of the Month Nov/Dec 2006:

” A Centrifugal Force: A Round Addition in El Paso County, Colo., Updates a Historic Design”

image

” Each of the tower’s three floors contains a control room and an additional mezzanine level for extra bed space, giving the facility the appearance of having six floors.

“It’s based on the concentric ring theory,” says Greg Gulliksen, project architect. “The hub is the central control area in the middle; the next ring out is a circulation area around the control room; the next ring out is the dayroom; and the last ring contains the sleeping areas and the shower and toilet area.”

Each ward contains nine dormitory-style sleeping bays where inmates are grouped together without doors or bars. Each bay contains eight bunk beds and eight lockers.”

image

http://www.correctionalnews.com/ME2/Audiences/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=88327817A39E494AA4A426AF092D33D2

AND I saved the best for last:

The NYPD Panopticon Imprisons Harlem”, November 27, 2006, David W. Boles’ Urban Semiotic

“The Panopticon — a prison so built radially that a guard at a central position can see all the prisoners – is also known as the infamous and ever-vigilant Foucauldian unblinking eye of authority watching every move a prisoner makes while remaining rough and ready to strike punishment as often as needed, has come to the streets of Harlem as “Sky Watch.”

The Sky Watch, about two stories tall, consists of a booth for a cop that stands atop a tower that collapses when the officer is ready to leave.

The booth, which gives the cop a line of sight from 20 feet up, has four cameras, a high-powered spotlight and various sensors. The digital cameras, which continue recording when the booth is unstaffed, save the video to a hard drive.

The units, which cost from $40,000 to $100,000 apiece, are also being used by the U.S. Border Patrol and cops in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Dallas and Fort Worth.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the department has leased one or two of the devices and hopes to eventually have five.

Since they’re moveable, they’re more flexible than fixed cameras.

One tower was installed about three weeks ago at 129th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem – drawing cheers and jeers.

What does this mean for the innocent residents of Harlem who now live in an open-air prison?

Here’s a traditional prison Panopticon where a central watchtower sits at the center of the structure surrounded by prisoners in their cells. The prisoners cannot see the watchtower but sunlight pouring through outer windowed cell walls shows all movement of the prisoners in shadow to the unblinking Panopticonic eye:

The Panopticon

[Several tiers of inmates in this round cell block at Stateville Prison near Joliet, Illinois, are easily visible from the guard tower in the middle.]

Here’s the Harlem Sky Watch box in action — have you ever seen an uglier obelisk wannabe? — where the sentry tower becomes the center tower of the Panopticon while the buildings and apartments surrounding it become the windowed prison cells from which there is no escape from the unblinking eye of punishment:

The Harlem Panopticon
The Harlem Panopticon

A watched cauldron never boils, but an observed populace ultimately overthrows its gaoler.

Just who are being protected in Harlem and just who are being watched?

The unblinking eye of authority stings us all from the NYPD Harlem Panopticon and we are all made more guilty because of it ominous presence.” http://urbansemiotic.com/2006/11/27/the-nypd-panopticon-imprisons-harlem/

SO, BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU!

The Ultimate SciFi DVD Boxed Set Collection – Part II

This is Part II of the Ultimate Sci-Fi boxed set collection. This includes some lesser known shows, and some hard to find ones, but the links on the show’s name all lead to places you can obtain them. Some are British, some from the 70s. I tired to stay within the Sci-Fi genre, but some paranormal/fantasy ones just begged to be included. I will do a later post on just Fantasy/Paranormal, as there are plenty of those that are great, and deserve mention.

Star Trek Voyager - The Complete Seasons 1-7

Star Trek Voyager – The Complete Seasons 1-7

Product Details

  • Actors: Star Trek Voyager
  • Format: Box set, Color, Dolby
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 47
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: December 21, 2004
  • Run Time: 7782 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Product Description
STAR TREK VOYAGER details the adventures of the Starfleet’s most adventurous starship, the U.S.S. Voyager, as it is led by Captain Kathryn Janeway (Mulgrew) on missions into deep space.

Star Trek Enterprise – The Complete Seasons 1-4

Product Details

  • Actors: Star Trek Enterprise
  • Format: Closed-captioned, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 27
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: November 1, 2005
  • Run Time: 4223 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Product Description
Set in the 22nd century, a hundred years before James T. Kirk helmed the famous starship of the same name, ENTERPRISE takes place in an era when interstellar travel is still in its infancy. Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) has assembled a crew of brave explorers to chart the galaxy on a revolutionary spacecraft: Enterprise NX-01. As the first human beings to venture into deep space, these pioneers will experience the wonder and mystery of the final frontier as they seek out new life and new civilizations.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine – The Complete Seasons 1-7

Product Details

Amazon Customer Review

“Star Trek Deep Space Nine will always be the cult within the cult. Although not as popular as the other Star Trek spin-offs(even the anemic Voyager who had the benefit of the UPN network behind it), it has the diehard follwing of Trekker Niners who’ll easily attest that DS9 was the best Trek show ever.

Unlike the other spin-offs,the show as well as the characters evolved in its seven seasons. Notably the lead character Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) who started as a brooding arbitrator of a rundown space station. In the later seasons, the character was injected with the same passion that fueled Kirk and Picard,becoming a great Captain as well as accepting his role as the Bajoran’s Emissary and in the end, joined the Bajoran prophets.Sisko’s crew includes first officer/Bajoran liaison Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor),Trill science officer Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell), Chief Medical Officer Dr Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig), Chief of Operations Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney) and changeling Security Chief Odo (Rene Abourjonios). Station residences includes Ferengi Barkeeper Quark (Armin Shimmerman), Cardassian Tailor, former spy Garak (Andy Robinson) and Sisko’s son Jake (Cirroc Lofton).

Although known as the darkest of all the Trek shows (despite having some of the most humorous episodes in the entire franchise) DS9 has the most complex storytelling ever to come out of Gene Roddenberry’s universe.

In season one we have the humble beginnings of the station formerly known as Terok Nor. Sisko was more of an administrator than the passionate individual he is to become, Kira Nerys is unsettlingly fiesty, Julian Bashir rates high on the arrogent meter, and Jadzia Dax comes off as somewhat aloof. The shakedown season still plays better than the latter seasons of any of the following Trek Series(Voyager,Enterprise). The standout episodes include Past Prologue, Captive Pursuit, Progress, In The Hands Of The Prophets, and Duet, which in many opinion, is the best ever DS9 episode.

With the final season of TNG over shadowing,as well as the upcoming Voyager series in the wings, DS9 was trying to find it’s footing in the second season. Besides character development,we see the seeds of events begin to evolve, including the rise (and eventual downfalls) of Kai Winn & Gul Dukat,the re-introduction of The Original Series “Mirror, Mirror” Universe, as well as the dreaded Dominion.

The standout episodes includes Cardassians, Whispers, Blood Oath, The Maquis, The Wire, and The Collaborator. Season two ends with the ominous The Jem’hadar, preparing us for a direction never seen in Star Trek.

With the Dominion threat, and the introdution of the battleship,Defiant, DS9’s third season was finally coming into it’s own.

Along with more character development in the lead as well as the supporting cast(Garak, Dukat, Kai Winn, Rom & Nog), the writing was even stronger than before with great episodes such as House Of Quark, Civil Defense, Second Skin, Visionary, Past Tense, and Explorers. Also introduced in this season are Leeta, Ishka (“Moogie”), Brunt, Shaakar, and Lt. Commander Eddington.

Unfortunately with Star Trek Generations hitting the big screen, and Star Trek Voyager’s big premire, DS9 was lost in the shuffle. But it would use it’s underdog status to emerge as the greatest Trek series the following season.

The final ingredient that was needed in DS9, Worf becomes a member of the crew in the fourth season, and it will never be the same again.

Not only it was Starfleet’s Klingon officer’s introduction, but Way of the Warrior was DS9’s most exciting episode (it’s the equivalent of TNG’s Best Of Both Worlds), dealing with the Federation-Klingon Empire relation being strained and underminded by the Dominion, which concluded with the greatest battle scenes ever seen on televised Trek.

Sisko, promoted to Captain in the previous season, finally emerges as a commanding presence, in part to his image makover including a bald head & goatee.

Many classic episodes including WOTW, The Visitor, Little Green Men, Our Man Bashir, Rejoined, The Sons Of Mogh, Bar Association, Hard Time, and Broken Link which concludes with a surprise ending for the season.

This is the season where the writers & producers realise that the show will never come close to being the success that TNG was, and decided to make the show something to be proud of and making it’s place be known in the Star Trek Universe.

DS9’s fifth season proves there is so much more to the show once described about a station that didn’t “go anywhere.” When most TV shows wear out their welcome by season five,ST-DS9 just kept getting better. One of the factors is the strong writing, as well as the characters evolution (Worf & Dax’s romantic relationship, Bashir’s genetic enhancement secret) and such classic episodes as Looking For Par’Mach In All The Wrong Places, The Ship, Children Of Time, By Inferno’s Light/In Purgatory’s Shadow, and Trials and Tribble-ation (featuring the original ST crew).

The season ends with the beginning of the Dominion War which has been building up since Season Three.

In the sixth season, you come to realise that it’s far removed from the premise of a darker edgier Trek of the first two seasons, only to emerge as the greatest Trek show of all time.

The writing had become more ambitious than any other latter day Trek Series (TNG, VOY, ENT),and it was only the penultimate season. The six-part Dominion War Arc (including classic episodes A Time To Stand, Rocks & Shoals, The Sacrifice Of Angels) showed the producers going for broke as well as establishing DS9 as a show that’s not afraid to take chances.

The best season six episodes are too many to list(….Cordially Invited…, Waltz, Far Beyond The Stars, Inquisition, His Way, Reckoning, The Valient), but it’s In The Pale Moonlight that is the highlight of the entire season (as well as my 3rd favorite episode behind season one’s “Duet”,and four’s “The Way Of The Warrior”) as Captain Sisko wrestles with his conscience as Garak helps him to dupe the Romulans into joining their efforts in the war. The season ends on a dark tone with “Tears Of The Prophet” in which Jadzia Dax is killed by a Pah-Wraith possessed Dukat.

Although season six staked DS9’s claim as Star Trek’s best ever show,the seventh, and finale season of DS9, coming after a three season winning streak, hits a bump during the season, yet it was still superior than any other show of it’s genre.
The death of Jadzia Dax somewhat took the wind out of the series, and the new Dax, Ezri(Nicole DeBoer) an unprepared new Trill host, was written as”Ally McTrill,” only to emerge as more comfortable with the roll as the show wound down.
Some episodes ranged from mediocre (Prodigal Daughter) to downright weak (The Emperor’s New Cloak, Extreme Measures). Aside from the Finale Arc (including Penumbra, Strange Bedfellows, Tacken To The Wind & Dogs Of War), Take Me Out To The Holosuite, The Siege at AR 558, Chimara and Inter Arma… ranks as some of DS9’s greatest episodes. The ten part finale arc which ended with What You Leave Behind closed the show on a fitting yet premature ending.

Paramount released the DVD sets throughout 2003 (the tenth anniversary of DS9) as well as insatiate the many fans of this brilliant yet overlooked show (hopefully a series of TV movies in the future), reminding us of how great DS9 was, and that hopefully we’ll return to her someday.
Ten Favorite Episodes
1.Duet (first season)
2.The Way Of The Warrior (fourth season)
3.In The Pale Moonlight (Sixth Season)
4.The Visitor (Fourth Season)
5.The Seige at AR-558 (Seventh Season)
6.Trials and Tribble-ations (fifth season)
7. …You Are Cordially Invited(sixth season)
8.Looking For Par’Mach In All The Wrong Places (fith season)
9.Take Me Out To The Holosuite (seventh season)
10.Far Beyond The Stars (sixth season)”

Star Trek The Animated Series - The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek

Star Trek The Animated Series – The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek

Product Details

  • Actors: Majel Barrett
  • Directors: Bill Reed
  • Format: Box set, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: November 21, 2006
  • Run Time: 526 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com
Star Trek: The Animated Series is often referred to as Star Trek‘s “fourth season” because it was created in 1973, four years after the third and final season of the original series, and because most of the original cast provided the voices. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Majel Barrett reprised their characters, and some contributed other voices as well. The only major omission was Walter Koenig’s Chekov, who was replaced at the navigation console by Lieutenant Arex, the three-armed alien who most prominently represented the series’ freedom to create non-humanoid characters. (Koenig did write an episode.) And while the animation is crude at best, the stories are solid sci-fi (penned by some of Star Trek‘s veteran writers including DC Fontana and David Gerrold, all of whom received prominent opening credits), explored the Star Trek mythos, and elevated the series above typical Saturday-morning fare. For example, “Yesteryear” goes back to Spock’s early years on Vulcan, continuing some explorations from the original series’ “Journey to Babel,” and offers the familiar voice of Mark Lenard as Sarek. “One of Our Planets Is Missing” raises some interesting philosophical questions about the value of life, and “More Tribbles, More Troubles” and “Mudd’s Passion” revisit favorite characters. Star Trek: The Animated Series lasted just barely over one season, but it won the franchise’s only Emmy (for Outstanding Entertainment Children’s Series in 1975) and some of its ideas were embraced by future series. Trekkers who know it only by reputation will find it a valuable part of the Star Trek canon. In addition to the series’ 22 half-hour episodes, the DVD set includes “Drawn to the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series,” a 24-minute featurette including interviews with the producers and writers (but not actors) on how the series was created and why it still holds up; “What’s the Star Trek Connection?”, a glossary of characters and themes common to the animated series and other series; a storyboard gallery; and a brief text history. Writer David Gerrold and producer David Wise contribute audio commentaries on three and one episode, respectively, and the ever-reliable Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda provide text commentary on three other episodes.

Product Description
Boldly continuing where Star Trek: The Original Series left off, these animated adventures chart the progress of Captain Kirk and his crew in a universe unconstrained by “real-life” cinematography! With all characters voiced by their original actors, join Kirk, Spock, Bones and the crew for 22 new adventures: to boldly go where no animation has gone before!

V - The Complete Series

V – The Complete Series

Product Details

  • Actors: Duncan Regehr
  • Directors: Victor Lobl, Earl Bellamy, Ray Austin, John Florea
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: July 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 897 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Product Description
They came for water. And for food. And as it turned out, we were the food. But humanity bravely resisted – a struggle seen in the hit miniseries V and V: The Final Battle. Yet the war continues. The heroic conflict comes to a surprising outcome in V: The Series, presented complete and uncut in this 3-disc, 19-episode set. Once again, Earth is the main battleground. But now the aliens whose human guise hides their true reptilian natures are wiser. They believe the secret to their survival on Earth lies in the DNA of the newly born half-human, half-spaceling Starchild. They intend to capture her. But that’s something the world’s Resistance Fighters cannot allow.

The Complete UFO Megaset

The Complete UFO Megaset

Product Details

  • Actors: Complete UFO Megaset
  • Format: Box set, Color, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 8
  • Rating:
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 28, 2003
  • Run Time: 1352 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com
UFO was Gerry Anderson’s first live-action TV series after a decade of producing such children’s animated classics as Stingray (1963) and Thunderbirds (1964). The premise of UFO, which ran for a single season of 26 episodes in 1970, was like a more serious version of Anderson’s Captain Scarlet (1967): in the near future of 1980, a high-tech secret organization, SHADO, waged covert war against mysterious alien attackers. Ed Bishop played the American head of SHADO–he had been previously featured in Captain Scarlet and Anderson’s Doppelganger (1969)–though in all other respects this was a thoroughly British production. As with all Anderson series, UFO evidenced remarkable technological inventiveness and groundbreaking production values, coupled with startling lapses in fundamental logic too numerous to list.

Much more adult in story and content than earlier Anderson productions, and surprisingly dark with its pragmatic view of human nature and downbeat endings, the show now seems like a forerunner of The X-Files and the equally short-lived Dark Skies (1996). Barry Gray’s memorable theme and atmospheric music greatly enhanced the overall impact. Stylishly made, though terribly sexist by current standards and featuring eye-catching costumes more fitted for a campy dress party than the front line of a futuristic war, this cult classic eventually evolved into Space: 1999 (1975).

The UFO DVDs have been beautifully designed and produced. The mono sound is exceptionally strong, and the restored and remastered picture is almost unbelievably good for a 1970 TV show. With barely a flaw anywhere, the episodes look so clear, colorful, and detailed that they could have been filmed last week. This eight-disc megaset features all 26 episodes.

Voyagers! - The Complete Series

Voyagers! – The Complete Series

Product Details

  • Actors: Meeno Peluce, Jon-Erik Hexum
  • Format: Box set, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: July 17, 2007
  • Run Time: 972 minutes

Amazon Customer Review

“This is a blast from the past from 25 years ago–I remember it very fondly! Phineas Bogg is a Voyager–a person who is supposed to travel through time and give history a push from time to time so that the proper things take place. The machine that he uses malfunctions a lot, he doesn’t have a lot of knowledege about history, and he accidentally ends up in the bedroom of a boy named Jeffrey Jones in 1982, an orphan who knows a lot about history. He ends up traveling with Bogg, going from one adventure to the next. Not as heavy handed and preachy as Quantum Leap (which I loved, too)–a fun series, great family entertainment, kids should like it.

One thing I remember is that whenever Meeno and Jon-Erik did interviews, they always spoke as if they were an equal team. Jon-Erik never spoke of Meeno as just a kid. On screen, they had a very nice relationship. The kid’s cute, the guy’s hunky, and the adventures are fun.

Generally in each episode, the voyagers drop into one scenario, leave at the first commercial break to another, solve the second problem, then take knowledge from that second scenario back to the first to solve the initial problem. Some of the links are that of situations (Spartacus and Tubbman have slavery in common), and others involve learning a trick to get out of the first (Salem and Houdini).

Here are the episodes–title and topic:
Pilot–Time Traveler and orphan meet
Created Equal (Spartacus and Harriet Tubman)
Bully and Billy (Teddy Roosevelt and Billy the Kid)
Agents of Satan (Salem witch trials and Harry Houdini)
Worlds Apart (Lawrence of Arabia and Thomas Edison)
Cleo and the Babe (Cleopatra is brought to 1920s New York/Lucy Luciano)
The Day the Rebs took Lincoln (Civil War and London/Dickens)
Old Hickory and the Pirate (War of 1812/New Orleans)
The Travels of Marco Polo…and Friends (1930s New York/Isaac Wolfstein)
An Arrow Pointing East (Lindburgh then Robin Hood)
Merry Christmas, Bogg (George Washington then Samuel Gompers)
Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakely Play the Palace (Queen Victoria)
The Trial of Phineas Bogg (Bogg is on trial back home)
Sneak Attack (Pearl Harbor plus young Bill Cody/Pony Express)
Voyagers of the Titanic (plus rabies and Pasteur)
Pursuit (WWII/Werner von Braun)
Destiny’s Choice (FDR in 1924 Hollywood)
All Fall Down (1938, boxing, Joe Louis)
Barrier’s of Sound (1890s Texas, Ike’s mom)
Jack’s Back (Jack the Ripper)

Some guest stars: Ed Begley, Jr., Gregory Itzin (twice!), Lance LeGault, Tricia O’Neil, Michael Fox (the reason M. J. Fox had to add the J?), Jonathan Frakes, Anne Lockhart, Dana Elcar, Frank Marth, and Julia Duffy.”

Earth 2 - The Complete Series

Earth 2 – The Complete Series

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description
A science-fiction series with an ecological theme, EARTH 2 only ran for one season on NBC, and all 22 episodes of the program are collected here. In the distant future, the surface of the Earth has been largely destroyed, and mankind lives in space stations orbiting the planet. A group of space colonists, led by Devon Adair (Debrah Farentino) and John Danzinger (Clancy Brown), are sent to a far off planet to prepare it for colonization by the surviving population of Earth. But a mishap sends them careening off-course, crash landing thousands of miles from the proper camp site. EARTH 2 follows the band of colonists as they traverse the planet, encountering dangerous aliens and other humans who view them with distrust and suspicion. By tackling issues like ecology and colonization, EARTH 2 engages important ideas and themes in an entertaining fashion.

The Prisoner - Complete Series Megaset (40th Anniversary Edition)

The Prisoner – Complete Series Megaset (40th Anniversary Edition)

Product Details

  • Actors: Patrick McGoohan
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Collector’s Edition, Color, Original recording remastered, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 10
  • Rating:
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: July 25, 2006
  • Run Time: 884 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com essential video
If a top-level spy decided he didn’t want to be a spy anymore, could he just walk into HQ and hand in his resignation? With all that classified knowledge in his head, would he be allowed to become a civilian again, free to go about his life? The answer, according to the stylish, brilliantly conceived 1960s British TV series The Prisoner, is a resounding no. In fact, instead of receiving a gold watch for his years of faithful service, our hero (played by Patrick McGoohan) is followed home to his London flat and knocked unconscious. When he awakens, he finds himself in a picturesque village where everyone is known by a number. Where is it? Why was he brought here? And, most important, how does he leave?

As we learn in Episode 1, Number 6 can’t leave. The Village’s “citizens” might dress colorfully and stroll around its manicured gardens while a band plays bouncy Strauss marches, but the place is actually a prison. Surveillance is near total, and if all else fails, there’s always the large, mysterious white ball that subdues potential escapees by temporarily smothering them. Who runs the Village? An ever-changing Number 2, who wants to know why Number 6 resigned. If he’d only cooperate, he’s told, life can be made very pleasant. “I’ve resigned,” he fumes. “I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own.” So sets the stage for the ultimate battle of wills: Number 6’s struggle to retain his privacy, sanity, and individuality against the array of psychological and physical methods the Village uses to break him.

So does he ever escape? And does he ever find out who Number 1 is? “Questions are a burden to others,” the Village saying goes. “Answers, a prison for oneself.” Within this complete 17-episode set (which contains the entire series), all is revealed. Or is it? –Steve Landau

Product Description
Patrick McGoohan’s classic 17-episode British TV series, THE PRISONER, has been mesmerizing American viewers since its CBS debut in the summer of 1968. Now, just in time for its 40th anniversary A&E presents this definitive collector’s edition of the cult classic series. Fully restored and digitally remastered, THE PRISONER is presented in the fan-preferred episode order, offering a chronological interpretation of perhaps the most unusual and challenging television series ever filmed. After resigning from a top-secret position, a man is abducted from his London home and taken to a mysterious place known only as The Village. Residents of The Village, known only by numbers, are held captive on account of their valuable knowledge. The Prisoner–Number Six–must protect his mind in order to preserve his humanity while he struggles to discover the identity of Number One and achieve freedom by escaping from the repressive grasp of his captors. Set includes all 17 complete color episodes: Arrival / Free For All / Dance of the Dead / Checkmate / The Chimes of Big Ben / A, B, and C / The General / The Schizoid Man / Many Happy Returns / It’s Your Funeral / A Change of Mind / Hammer Into Anvil / Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling / Living In Harmony / The Girl Who Was Death / Once Upon a Time / Fall Out DVD Features: Ultra-rare original footage of the 1966 location shooting, accompanied by commentary with Bernie Williams; Bonus Program: THE PRISONER VIDEO COMPANION; Rare, Alternate Version of the Episode “The Chimes of Big Ben”; Rarely Seen “Foreign File Cabinet” Footage; Rarely Seen “Textless” Intro & Outro; Original Broadcast Trailers; Original Series Promotional Trailer; Gallery of Original Production and Promotional Materials; Production Stills Galleries; Interactive Map of the Village; Prisoner Trivia; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection NEW LIMITED EDITION COLLECTOR’S BOOKLET: 60 Fully Illustrated Pages; Hidden Mysteries Surrounding THE PRISONER; Complete Series Guide of All 17 Episodes; Detailed Color Fold-out Map of The Village.”

Space 1999 - 30th Anniversary Edition Megaset (17DVD)

Space 1999 – 30th Anniversary Edition Megaset (17DVD)

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com
When it was first broadcast in 1975, there had never been a more lavishly produced science fiction TV series than Space: 1999, a British production whose budget for the first of its two seasons ran an astounding £3.25 million. What keeps us fans enthralled after all these years has only partly to due with the first-rate production values, the plausibly constructed spaceship models, and expert special effects. The tone of the show is one of scientific dispassion, setting it apart from its TV sci-fi predecessors such as Star Trek, whose mood was more convivial. Our heroes here are in dire circumstances that require cool heads as a survival trait. Those circumstances: the 311 crew members of Moonbase Alpha experience a cataclysm that causes the moon to break away from Earth’s orbit and travel endlessly through space, turning our heroes into unintentional explorers. No TV series has created a more palpable feel of hard science fiction than this.

Of course the show is not without its detractors; it has been soundly lambasted for its many scientific errors. No less august a figure than Isaac Asimov criticized the show for its premise in the opening episode, “Breakaway,” which had nuclear explosions on the “dark side of the moon” somehow propelling it out of Earth’s orbit and flying through space without regard to any physical laws. In “Earthbound,” aliens traveling to Earth state it will take them 75 years to reach their destination, making one wonder why it didn’t take the moon that long to encounter the aliens. While these are serious complaints, fans tend to remember the scientific seriousness of the series and the sense of awe created by the many strange creatures and phenomena that the crew members encounter on their journey through the galaxy.

The Space: 1999 30th Anniversary Mega Set collects all 48 episodes broadcast over the show’s two seasons, contained on 17 DVDs that include vintage interviews, production stills, TV promotional spots, and interactive menus, and some material that was not seen in the original U.S. broadcasts has been restored. The episodes do not use the 2005 high-def remasters, so this is essentially the same as the 2002 Mega Set, but at a fraction of the shelf space (the Thinpak packaging is nicely compact) and a fraction of the price. –Jim Gay

Product Description
All 48 episodes of this acclaimed space adventure are contained in this complete collection, digitally remastered from the original 35mm film, plus bonus footage, featured extras, and much more! With its progressive plotlines, an outstanding cast, and astonishing special effects from Oscar® winner Brian Johnson (Alien, The Empire Strikes Back), SPACE: 1999 has secured its place as one of the most thought-provoking series of the 21st century—and beyond.

Alien Nation - The Complete Series

Alien Nation – The Complete Series

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description
As Newcomers — fugitive slaves from the planet Tencton — Detective George Francisco and his family face prejudice and intolerance as they struggle to assimilate to life on their adopted planet. Together with his human partner, hard-edged Detective Matt Sikes, George walks the beat in Slagtown, Los Angeles, a Newcomer slum teeming with vice and corruption. More than just another cop show or science fiction show, Alien Nation utilizes a unique and exciting blend of action, suspense, humor, and social drama to explore the sociology of what it means to be an outsider striving to fit in.

Alien Nation - Ultimate Movie Collection

Alien Nation – Ultimate Movie Collection

Product Details

  • Actors: Alien Nation-Ultimate Movie Collection
  • Format: Box set, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rating:
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: April 15, 2008
  • Run Time: 447 minutes

Amazon Customer Review

“Dark Horizon is on its own disc. The other four movies are on 2 flipper discs–one movie per side. All the movies have a Ken Johnson commentary track. The first four movies have “Making of” featurettes that are a bit dry, but have some great nuggets. The first four also have gag reels. All the movies have a wide of array of stills in a photo gallery.
The last movie’s disc side includes a 25-minute reunion taped at Johnson’s home in January 2007. Everyone’s there except for Sean Six/Buck. It’s amazing! I got a warm feeling just watching! It opens with candid meet and greets and sitting down to a meal. They gather in a circle next, and really start to talk. The actors talk about being cast, about make-up, about the movies, and about the reaction from various ethnic groups, among other things. There are some great behind-the-scenes shots from the original series that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

Dark Horizon is fine, but man, were they hitting on all four cylinders for the second movie–Body and Soul. It features an excellent story and script, a satisfying Matt and Cathy story, and a few twists and turns that you won’t expect. Everything that made the series great is on display in the second movie–the comic timing, the chemistry between the actors, the jokes, the names, you name it, it’s there–it’s like a time machine back to the good old days of the show’s weekly run. The last three are just as good–the atmosphere and feeling of the season is there in full force. I wasn’t crazy about George’s promotion at the end of the original series because it wrecked the detectives’ dynamic, but found that they dealt with it very well in the movies for both characters.

Buck and Emily don’t have much to do in the first two movies, but they come into their own in the last three. Cathy and Matt’s romance evolves beautifully throughout. If you think of the five movies as 10 episodes of Alien Nation–it’s like a whole half season.

Pocket put out 8 Alien Nation novels and novelizations back in the day, so we had those to get over the cliffhanger when the complete series set came out a couple of years ago. But that wasn’t good enough, frankly. Thank goodness these are on dvd at last! Now we really have the complete series available on dvd.”

1. “Dark Horizon”- 1994
2. “Body and Soul”-1995
3. “The Enemy Within”- 1996
4. “Millennium”-1996
5. “The Udara Legacy”-1997

Roswell - Seasons 1-3

Roswell – Seasons 1-3

Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • DVD Release Date: November 14, 2006

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Opening with a Dido theme song and featuring character-driven, sweet-natured melodrama, Roswell was a show with a surprisingly dedicated fandom, who twice won it reprieve from cancellation. One of its main strengths was, of course, the extent to which its premise–alien teenagers trying to sort out their identities while emotionally involved with their human contemporaries–was a free-floating metaphor for race and sexuality issues. Another was the strong ensemble that its cast developed: you believed in the strangeness of the alien trio and the well-intentioned normality of their three human friends. Jason Behr gave the alien Max a quiet authority and Majendra Delfino took the sidekick role of Maria and gave it both intensity and fine comic timing. It was also a show in which you were never sure which adults you could trust–William Sadleir trod a fine line of ambiguity as the local sheriff and Julie Benz was silkily sinister as an FBI agent. Anyone who ever loved this show will want these DVDs–and many others may want to find out what the fuss was about.

Roswell is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The special features include commentaries by writer Jason Katims, the directors, and various cast members as well as featurettes. The commentaries are unusually insightful on the casting process, and the discs also include the auditions for the part of Tess as well as deleted scenes and a music video. –Roz Kaveney

Steven Spielberg Presents Taken

Steven Spielberg Presents Taken

Product Details

  • Actors: Julie Benz, Catherine Dent, Jason Gray-Stanford, Tina Holmes, Michael Moriarty
  • Format: Anamorphic, Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Dreamworks Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 21, 2003
  • Run Time: 885 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com
Steven Spielberg’s alien abduction opus Taken is what happens when you cross-breed Close Encounters of the Third Kind with The Waltons. Obviously flushed with the success of the TV miniseries Band of Brothers, Spielberg’s Dreamworks studio has created an equally epic 10-part story chronicling 50 years of habitual abduction over several generations of three American families. Beginning with the most notorious alien cover-up in U.S. history, the 1947 “crash” at Roswell, New Mexico, Taken introduces the “Greys” and the families they routinely abduct, probe, and, in a couple of cases, impregnate over the course of the ten 90-minute episodes. The three families are: the Keys, from which first Russell, then his son Jessie, then grandson Danny, are all abducted; the Clarkes, who are descended from a liaison between lonely put-upon housewife Sally Clarke and one of the Roswell crash survivors; and the Crawfords, the ruthless G-men who are committed to uncovering the purpose behind the alien visitations at any cost.

It’s this question that forms the main thread of the story: but even though the Greys’ actions are at best ambiguous and at worst hostile, the viewer can’t help feeling that after all this systematic abuse of their human test subjects the aliens will in the end present them with a cure for cancer. In fact, Taken is Spielberg at his most touchy-feely: for all its science fiction trappings it’s basically a soap opera, lacking the sinister undercurrent of either Dark Skies or The X-Files. Nevertheless, it’s an engaging series with decent performances–most notably Joel Gretsch as psychotic Owen Crawford–good special effects, and an engaging enough storyline to make it entertaining, if somewhat disposable, TV.

The Ray Bradbury Theater - Complete Series (65 Episodes)

The Ray Bradbury Theater – Complete Series (65 Episodes)

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description
Featuring 65 Episodes! Entranced by magicians, comic strips, and science-fiction magazines, Ray Bradbury began “educating” himself at the Los Angeles Library three to five times a week. By twenty-seven years of age he “graduated,” having written over several million words. In his early twenties, he supported himself by selling newspapers on street corners and writing for radio programs such as Suspense, Escape, CBS Radio Playhouse, and X Minus One. Bradbury has now written over one thousand short stories–400 of which have been published in such magazines as The New Yorker, The New Republican, The Saturday Evening Post, Amazing Stories, Colliers, Dime Detective and McCall’s. He has also written for Alfred Hitchcock Presents and for Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. And now, showcased in this 5 DVD set are some of Ray Bradbury’s finest works.

Threshold - The Complete Series

Threshold – The Complete Series

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description
THRESHOLD is a suspenseful drama about a team of experts who are assembled when the U.S. Navy makes a chilling discovery: an extra terrestrial craft has landed in the mid-Atlantic ocean. Dr. Molly Anne Caffrey (Carla Gugino) is a government contingency analyst whose job is to devise response plans for worst-case scenarios. In a single instant, her life changes when one of those plans–THRESHOLD–is activated by Deputy National Security Advisor J.T. Baylock (Charles S. Dutton). Armed only with her hypothetical strategy to address the appearance of aliens on earth, Caffrey now finds herself thrust in the midst of a global crisis. She hand-picks a team of eclectic specialists to prepare for first contact: Dr. Nigel Fenway (Brent Spiner), a disillusioned NASA microbiologist; Lucas Pegg (Rob Benedict), a brilliant but neurotic physicist; Arthur Ramsey (Peter Dinklage), an expert in languages and mathematics; and Cavennaugh (Brian Van Holt), a highly trained covert operative with a mysterious past. Together, they decipher the intention of the craft, the fate of the ship’s crew and begin preparations for the possibility of a crisis situation–an alien invasion.

Land of the Giants - The Full Series (The Giant Collection)

Land of the Giants – The Full Series (The Giant Collection)

Product Details

  • Directors: Sobey Martin, Harry Harris
  • Format: Box set, Color, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 9
  • Rating:
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: July 24, 2007
  • Run Time: 2658 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com
Premiering on ABC in 1968 and lasting just 51 episodes before its cancellation in 1970, Irwin Allen’s fantasy series Land of the Giants has built a sizable (if you’ll pardon the pun) fan base in subsequent decades thanks to its mix of adventure, science fiction, and camp; now those dedicated fans can enjoy the entire series in an impressive set that features a wealth of extras. The template for Giants is remarkably similar to that of Allen’s Lost in Space; here, the passengers and crew of the commercial spacecraft The Spindrift encounters a mysterious energy force en route to London and finds themselves on a planet which parallels Earth in every way save one – its inhabitants are twelve times the size of the marooned crew. The protagonists are less tightly knit than Space‘s astronaut family Robinson – in fact, pilots Gary Conway and Don Marshall regularly butt heads with architect Don Matheson and entertainer Deanna Lund – though all seem to agree that orphan Stefan Arngrim is cute as a button and Kurt Kasznar is as much a pain in the neck as Dr. Smith (amusingly, Jonathan Harris turns up in this set in the episode “Pay the Piper”). But The Spindrift castaways’ adventures are less juvenile than those of the later Lost in Space episodes, and the special effects (which cost the network a record-setting $250,000 per episode) are impressive for the period. The nine-DVD set for Land of the Giantscontains the series’ entire network run, as well as the unaired pilot, which offers a similar take on the debut episode, “The Crash,” minus John Williams’ jazzy theme and other elements. Most of the surviving cast members (Kasznar passed away in 1979, and Heather Young is not included) is featured in interviews about their experiences on the show, and there are several home videos of producer Allen directing the program and interacting with the over sized props and sets. Also featured on the discs are galleries of publicity shots, episodic photos, show merchandise and of the photogenic Ms. Lund, and the MAD Magazine parody. Meanwhile, buyers can also pursue a reproduction of the comic book adaptation and a booklet with more cast interviews and photos, and check out a set of trading cards, a Spindrift key chain and crew iron-on patch – all of which is contained in the set’s clever carrying case, which reproduces a wooden cage that held the Giants‘ heroes in one episode. Though casual admirers may balk at the Giant Collection price tag, diehards will undoubtedly appreciate having the entire set and quality extras at their disposal.

Product Description
After their sub-orbital space craft is drawn into a space warp, the passengers and crew of the Spindrift, crash into a planet where everything is 12 times its normal size!

The Complete Series

Starhunter 2300: The Complete Series

Product Details

  • Directors: Roger Gartland, Colin Bucksey, David Wheatley
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 23, 2004
  • Run Time: 1050 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Product Description
In the 23rd century, humanity has spread to the stars and planets in Earth’s solar system. Civilization is a patchwork of a hundred worlds, most with weak governments and weaker laws. It is a golden age for criminals who exploit this lawlessness and use the incredible technology of the future to prey on others. A former luxury space liner, the Tulip, is now a bounty-hunting vessel commanded by Travis Montana (Sunset Beach’s Clive Robertson) who searches the galaxy in search of his father. He’s joined on his quest by comic hunter Rudolpho, plucky Percy, holographic first mate Carvaggio, sexy special services officer Callista and bad boy Marcus. Now the fight for justice is set among the stars? and the showdown is about to begin. Perfect for Fans of New Sci-Fi TV Favorites Farscape, Stargate SG-1 and Babylon 5! Episodes include: Rebirth, Star Crossed, Biocrime, Chasing Janus, Spaceman, Becoming Shiva, The Third Thing, Torment, Painless, Skin Deep, Supermax Redux, Pandora’s Box, Stitch in Time, The Prisoner, Kate, Rivals, Heir and the Spare, Just Politics, Negative Energy, License to Fill, Hyperspace I & II.

The Crow (Collector's Series Boxed Set)

The Crow (Collector’s Series Boxed Set)

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description
The collection includes THE CROW: Legendary Brandon Lee plays Eric Draven, a rock guitarist who, along with his finacee, is killed by a ruthless gang of criminals. One year after his death, Eric returns — watched over by a hypnotic crow — to seek revenge. THE CROW: CITY OF ANGELS: The murder victim (Vincent Perez) of an evil drug cartel is brought back to life by a mysterious crow to exact revenge on his killers one by one! THE CROW: SALVATION: Wrongly executed for the murder of his girlfriend, Alex Corvis (Eric Mabius) returns to find the real killer — aided by his girlfriend’s sister (Kirsten Dunst) … and the mysterious crow!

Stairway To Heaven - The Complete Series

The Crow: Stairway To Heaven – The Complete Series

Product Details

  • Actors: Mark Dacascos
  • Directors: Bryce Zabel
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Arts Alliance America
  • DVD Release Date: July 24, 2007
  • Run Time: 968 minutes

Amazon Customer Review

“The Crow: Stairway to Heaven” takes its place on the “Canceled To Soon” list. It really was a wonderful story that put a new perspective on the “Crow” mythos. In this show, Eric Draven’s story became one of redemption and Mark Dacascos played him beautifully. The show also featured wonderful performances by Marc Gomez (as Albrecht), Katie Stuart (as Sarah), and Sabine Karsenti (as Shelly). People have been waiting for this show to come out on DVD for a long time (the show ran for one season from 1998 to 1999), so it’s great that it’s finally here. I look forward to revisiting the episodes and seeing what extras come in this 4-disc set.”

Jim Henson's Fantasy Film Collection - (Labyrinth / MirrorMask / The Dark Crystal)

Jim Henson’s Fantasy Film Collection – (Labyrinth / MirrorMask / The Dark Crystal)

Product Details

  • Actors: Jim Henson’s Fantasy Film Collection
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: September 5, 2006
  • Run Time: 298 minutes

Amazon Customer Review

“Of course, we all remember Jim Henson for bringing us those fuzzy, adorable animal puppets and their variety show.
But Henson also produced some very memorable, intriguing fantasy films, and after his death his production company has continued that tradition. “The Jim Henson Family Film Collection” brings together three classic films from Henson and his company, as well as an accompanying book of unknown content.
“Labyrinth” becomes a problem for teenage Sarah, who is stuck babysitting her crying baby stepbrother. But when she idly wished that the goblins would steal him, she never expected it to happen — or that the Goblin King Jareth (David Bowie) would challenge her if she tries to get her brother back.
Now Sarah has only thirteen hours to navigate a changing, hazardous maze, with Jareth’s castle at the center of it. To find her way, she will have to befriend strange creatures and avoid lethal bogs, nasty fairies, head-jugglers, and finally Jareth himself — or her brother will be turned into a goblin himself.

“The Dark Crystal” is the heart of this movie, where on another world, there are two strange races — the enormous, gentle, peaceful Mystics, and the nasty, vulture-like, vicious Skekses. They are somehow connected to a massive crystal that was broken long ago, and now a shard is missing from it. What’s more, three suns are about to come into conjunction, and the shard has to be back in place.

The Mystics have cared for one of the last Gelflings, an orphan named Jen. As the conjunction approaches, they send him out to find the lost shard. Along the way, Jen finds new friends who assist him in his quest, including another Gelfling. But can they avoid the Skekses? And what will happen when the suns line up, and the crystal is completed?
These movies were created in whole by Jim Henson, and even in the darker moments, they have his unmistakeable stamp. More recent — and quite different in tone — is “Mirrormask,” which instead has the stamp of writer Neil Gaiman, and seems like a warped “Alice in Wonderland.” But Henson’s production company does a great job with all the weird special effects.

In “Mirrormask,” we’re introduced to Helena (Stephanie Leonidas), a young circus girl who longs for a “normal” life, and makes elaborate, otherworldly drawings. But one night her mother collapses, and needs life-saving surgery. The guilt-ridden Helena is suddenly whisked into a world that looks very like her drawings, where everyone has a mask — and the beautiful queen of light (who looks a lot like Helena’s mom) is in a coma.

Helena is determined to wake the queen, and gets juggler Valentine (Jason Barry) to accompany her on her quest for the mysterious Mirrormask. But the stakes become higher when the forces of darkness — and their eerie queen — target Helena, and she finds that a dark duplicate of herself has taken over her life. Now Helena must somehow defeat the dark forces, with her mother’s life — and her own — hanging in the balance.

All three of these movies are classics of one type or another, and each embraces a different kind of fantasy. One is about wanting to be swept into an idyllic fantasy life. One is entirely of another world. And one is about the dangers of the other world.

To top it off, three are coming-of-age stories, whether for a teenage girl or a Muppet Gelfling — they all focus on someone pursuing something that can save what is important to them, and growing as a person along the way. The scripting tends to be tight and a little wry. Sometimes it gets goofy, but well-acted (and in Bowie’s case, well-sung).
What’s more, the styles of each movie change: “Dark Crystal” is very fantastical and serious, even with some gross, dark parts, while “Labyrinth” is more kiddy-friendly and Muppety, with the little chivalrous fox (though Bowie’s tight pants are a BIG distraction). And “Mirrormask” has a different style altogether, with lots of shadowy buildings, eerie lighting, fleshy masks, wide bodies and tentacle-like limbs.

The “Jim Henson Fantasy Films” are a good collection of films, showing off Henson’s more fantastical side. Definitely worth seeing.”

Millennium - Seasons 1-3

Millennium – Seasons 1-3

Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Number of discs: 18
  • DVD Release Date: November 14, 2006

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com
Millennium – The Complete First Season
Millennium marked the second major television series created by Chris Carter, who’d already made his name as the brains behind The X-Files. And, like its predecessor, it shares a lot of the same themes–it’s a crime thriller that gradually unfolds into a grand conspiracy involving the government and the fate of the entire world. Agent Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) is a former FBI agent who has transplanted his family from Washington, D.C. to Seattle, after suffering something of a breakdown. He’s an expert criminal profiler–arguably the best, thanks to his ability to “see” into the minds of killers–and he fears for the safety of his wife and young daughter. In Seattle, he joins the mysterious Millennium Group, an agency of freelance crime-busters who investigate particularly brutal crimes. As a result, Millennium is downright bleak viewing, as Black jumps from horrific slaying to horrific slaying. Moreover, there’s a growing sense of unease about the workings of the Millennium Group, so that in typical Chris Carter fashion, you don’t know who to trust. With its pre-Y2K angst and overwhelming darkness, as well as its general humorlessness, Millennium hasn’t dated as well as The X-Files. Still, thanks to Carter’s vision and Henriksen’s compelling take on the tortured Black, it’s difficult not to get hooked.

Millennium – The Complete Second Season
The groundbreaking show Millennium was about to take a new, visionary direction in its second season. Millennium could have continued its successful formula of introducing new, apocalyptic “Se7en-esque” serial killers for Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) to hunt down. But as any viewer can attest, it was the exploration of the mysterious “Millennium Group” and Frank Black’s role that held the key to the show’s potential longevity. And who better to build a mythos for the Millennium than the minds behind The X-Files: producer/writer team Glenn Morgan and James Wong. Stepping in when Chris Carter stepped aside, Morgan and Wong immediately began to focus season 2 not on the killers and their impact on Armageddon, but on Frank Black and his struggle for his personal stability and sanity. The Millennium Group, whose identify and function was never really explored in season 1, now becomes a central entity in season 2 complete with its own Masonic-like mythology.

Millennium – The Complete Third Season
In the third season of Millennium, we find Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) a widower and a single father who is completely disillusioned with the Millennium group and their evil intentions. Hell-bent on revenge, Frank rejoins the FBI, gets a new partner, Special Agent Emma Hollis (Klea Scott), and launches a personal crusade to dismantle and expose the Millennium Group. Interestingly, the visionary, quirky, X-Files mythos-like direction in which the producer-writer team of Glenn Morgan and James Wong took Millennium in season 2 didn’t sit well with many fans. Now that a good chunk of the Earth’s population had been wiped out by the Group’s killer plague, which also claimed Frank’s wife Catherine (Megan Gallagher), Chris Carter decided to take the helm once again and redirect season 3 back to the dark, apocalyptic crime-fighting genre in which it was intended. The mythos element is still present, but season 3 is a definite return to the look and feel of season 1 where most of the episodes are individual dark crime stories. The scripts in season 3 are consistently sharp (especially Ken Horton’s and Chip Johannessen’s), and the interesting, new dynamics introduced could have easily carried the show onward for many more seasons. Sadly, it was never meant to be. Like an apocalyptic metaphor, one of the best-written, best-produced, and most-influential shows of the 1990s would be canceled at the end of season 3, less than one year before the year 2000. Fans were left to wonder about the future of Frank Black, Jordan, and the success of his personal vendetta. Fortunately, The X-Files was still going strong at the time and fans got a bit of closure with The X-Files’ season 7 tie-in episode “Millennium” (included on this DVD set).

NOTE: The following movie sets are not Sci-Fi as such, but because of their paranomoral elemenets and the “essential” nature of them, I am including them here, rather than in the Fantasy/paranormal group. My call…

The Exorcist - The Complete Anthology (The Exorcist/ The Exorcist- Unrated/ The Exorcist II: The Heretic/ The Exorcist III/ The Exorcist: The Beginning/ The Exorcist: Dominion)

The Exorcist – The Complete Anthology (The Exorcist/ The Exorcist- Unrated/ The Exorcist II: The Heretic/ The Exorcist III/ The Exorcist: The Beginning/ The Exorcist: Dominion)

Product Details

Editorial Reviews

Product Description
Here it is. The scream of the crop. The fear is here. And so is the hope. Because at their center are intrepid souls who dare to look evil in the eye and vanquish it. From The Exorcist (presented in its Original Theatrical Version and the 2000 Version You’ve Never Seen) to the shocks and surprise of Exorcist II: The Heretic and The Exorcist III to the two versions (by two different directors) of Dominion/The Beginning, this DVD set comprises the scariest and most fascinating collection of movies in modern horror.

 

The Exorcist (25th Anniversary Special Edition) Product Details

 

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com essential video
Director William Friedkin was a hot ticket in Hollywood after the success of The French Connection, and he turned heads (in more ways than one) when he decided to make The Exorcist as his follow-up film. Adapted by William Peter Blatty from his controversial bestseller, this shocking 1973 thriller set an intense and often-copied milestone for screen terror with its unflinching depiction of a young girl (Linda Blair) who is possessed by an evil spirit. Jason Miller and Max von Sydow are perfectly cast as the priests who risk their sanity and their lives to administer the rites of demonic exorcism. Ellen Burstyn plays Blair’s mother, who can only stand by in horror as her daughter’s body is wracked by Satanic disfiguration. One of the most frightening films ever made, The Exorcist was mysteriously plagued by trouble during production, and the years since have not diminished its capacity to disturb even the most stoic viewers. The film is presented in letterbox format on digital video disc, with a remastered soundtrack that’s guaranteed to curdle your blood. The 25th-anniversary Special Edition DVD of The Exorcist is packed with bonus features, including a 74-minute documentary titled The Fear of God: The Making of The Exorcist, which includes interviews with cast and crew, audio commentary by William Friedkin and author William Peter Blatty, a special introduction by Friedkin, theatrical trailers and TV spots, and DVD-exclusive coverage of the film’s storyboards and production design.

Product Description
An innocent girl is evilly possessed — and a doubting priest becomes her last hope. Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn in the two-time Academy Award(R) winner that shocked the world.

DVD Features:
Audio Commentary:Separate Commentaries by Friedkin & Blatty
Other:“Fear of God” 3 trailers Nwe Interviews
TV Spot:6 TV Spots: “Beyond Comprehension”, “You Too Can See The Exorcist”, “Between Science and Superstition”, “The Movie You’ve Been Waiting For”, “Nobody Expected It”, “Life Had Been Good”

The Exorcist (The Version You’ve Never Seen)

The Exorcist (The Version You've Never Seen)  

Product Details

  • Actors: Jason Miller, Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn
  • Directors: William Friedkin
  • Format: AC-3, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 26, 2000
  • Run Time: 132 minutes

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com essential video
Director William Friedkin was a hot ticket in Hollywood after the success of The French Connection, and he turned heads (in more ways than one) when he decided to make The Exorcist as his follow-up film. Adapted by William Peter Blatty from his controversial bestseller, this shocking 1973 thriller set an intense and often-copied milestone for screen terror with its unflinching depiction of a young girl (Linda Blair) who is possessed by an evil spirit. Jason Miller and Max von Sydow are perfectly cast as the priests who risk their sanity and their lives to administer the rites of demonic exorcism, and Ellen Burstyn plays Blair’s mother, who can only stand by in horror as her daughter’s body is wracked by satanic disfiguration. One of the most frightening films ever made with a soundtrack that’s guaranteed to curl your blood, The Exorcist was mysteriously plagued by troubles during production, and the years have not diminished its capacity to disturb even the most stoical viewers. Don’t say you weren’t warned! –Jeff Shannon

DVD features
Although it was endorsed by director William Friedkin (reportedly with some reluctance), this “new” version of The Exorcist was criticized by many as a marketing ploy, and now exists for perpetual debate among horror fans. In addition to a few more subtly inserted “subliminals” of demonic imagery, 12 minutes of previously unseen footage focus on four new scenes: the series of physical tests (spinal tap, etc.) that Regan (Linda Blair) must endure; a post-ritual scene between priests Karras (Jason Miller) and Merrin (Max von Sydow), in which Merrin postulates that Satan is targeting them in order to make them despair and doubt their faith; a different version of the famous “spider-walk” scene (shown as an outtake in the previous special edition DVD’s making-of documentary), in which Regan eerily walks down stairs in an upside-down, crablike movement, with blood dripping from her mouth; and a new ending, in which Father Dyer (Rev. William O’Malley) meets Lieutenant Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb) and the two of them share a casual chat about movies, echoing Kinderman’s earlier talk with Father Karras. This final change was viewed by many as the most egregious, destroying the closing note of the original version. Fans and critics alike found much more to praise in the spectacular remixing and remastering of the film’s original soundtrack, which is now scarier than ever in Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround sound.

Forbidden Planet (Ultimate Collector's Edition)

Forbidden Planet (Ultimate Collector’s Edition)

Product Details

  • Actors: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly
  • Directors: Fred M. Wilcox
  • Format: AC-3, Box set, Closed-captioned, Collector’s Edition, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Original recording remastered, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 14, 2006
  • Run Time: 98 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com essential video
This 1956 pop adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest is one of the best, most influential science fiction movies ever made. Its space explorers are the models for the crew of Star Trek‘s Enterprise, and the film’s robot is clearly the prototype for Robby in Lost in Space. Walter Pidgeon is the Prospero figure, presiding over a paradisiacal world with his lovely young daughter and their servile droid. When the crew of a spaceship lands on the planet, they become aware of a sinister invisible force that threatens to destroy them. Great special effects and a bizarre electronic score help make this movie as fresh, imaginative, and fun as it was when first released. –Amazon.com

On the DVDs
Nestled in a metal collector’s box decorated with variations of original promo art, the colorfully designed 2-disc 50th Anniversary Edition of Forbidden Planet (also available separately) comes in a slip-covered fold-out case accompanied by a pocket of 17 miniature lobby card reproductions (eight for Forbidden Planet, nine for the 1957 companion movie The Invisible Boy). On disc 1, Forbidden Planet is presented with a new digital transfer from restored picture and audio elements, with soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, offering considerable improvement over the film’s previous DVD release. A selection of deleted scenes were taken from a faded and scratchy 16-millimeter “work print” that had originally been viewed by composers Louis and Bebe Barron as they were creating the film’s unique electronic score; they consist of full or partial scenes cut from the final film–mostly for good reason, but collectors (and those who first saw this rare material on the original Criterion Collection laserdisc) will welcome their inclusion here. The “lost footage” is crude special-effects test footage, again primarily of interest to sci-fi historians and aficionados. Given the fact that the original “Robby the Robot” cost over $100,000 to build in 1955, it’s easy to see why MGM wanted to get their money’s worth: An excerpt from the 1950s TV series “MGM Parade” shows Forbidden Planet star Walter Pigeon appearing briefly with Robby, and the popular robot gets even more attention as a guest star in “The Robot Client,” an episode of the Thin Man TV series (starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk) that originally aired on Feb. 28, 1958. Disc 1 also includes a gallery of seven science-fiction movie trailers dating from 1953’s The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms to 1960’s The Time Machine.

Disc 2 begins with 1957’s The Invisible Boy, a still-enjoyable B-movie that served as Robby’s post-Forbidden Planet showcase. Here, filmdom’s favorite automaton plays sidekick to a young boy (Richard Eyer) who turns invisible when he gets caught up in a super-computer’s scheme of global domination. Also included are three documentaries, all of them very good to excellent: In addition to reuniting the surviving cast members of the ’56 classic (including Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis, Richard Anderson, Warren Stevens, and Earl Holliman), “Amazing! Exploring the Far Reaches of Forbidden Planet” is an appreciative tribute to Forbidden Planet with some of Hollywood’s foremost sci-fi fans including special effects masters Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett, SF movie expert Bill Warren, and others. “Robby the Robot: Engineering a Sci-Fi Icon” is a featurette about the robot’s design, creation, and pop-cultural history, featuring original “Robby” designer Robert Kinoshita, Bill Malone (current owner of the original Robby), and Fred “The Robot Man” Barton, a lifelong robot fanatic builds fully authorized, full-scale Robby replicas for sci-fi fans with deep pockets. Closing out disc 2 is “Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us,” a 2005 documentary from Turner Classic Movies, written and directed by Time magazine critic Richard Schickel. It’s a thoroughly comprehensive survey of ’50s sci-fi and its influence on the next generation of film directors, including engaging interviews with George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Ridley Scott and James Cameron.

Last but certainly not least, the Ultimate Collector’s Edition of Forbidden Planet comes with a highly detailed three-inch tall die-cast replica of Robby the Robot. Should you display it proudly on your toy shelf or keep it in its cellophane wrapper? That’s a tough call for devoted Robby fans… so you’ll just have to decide for yourself!

Product Description
This 1956 cult classic, regarded as one of the most influential science fiction movies ever made, now has an all new Ultimate Collector’s Edition featuring remastered film and audio. Loaded with hours of bonuses, vintage memorabilia, a Robby the Robot replica, and collectible packaging, this all new edition is ready for the Sci-Fi fanatic.

Neon Genesis Evangelion - Perfect Collection

Neon Genesis Evangelion – Perfect Collection

Product Details

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com essential video
A benchmark series in the history of anime, Hideaki Anno’s Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most widely discussed in anime. It’s not the first series to combine mecha (futuristic machines, especially robots) with theology and a character-driven story, but it does so exceptionally well. The designs of the robots by Ikuto Yamashita are strikingly original; the questions raised about the future of the human race stimulate viewers’ imaginations and the characters show a depth of personality rare in anime. The story is set in 2015, 15 years after a cataclysmic explosion in Antarctica that caused the ice cap to melt, killing a large portion of the Earth’s population. Although it was reported as a meteor impact, the explosion was caused by human interaction with Adam, the first of a series of powerful, sentient creatures known as “Angels” to appear on Earth. To defend against their depredations, humans rely on NERV, a secret agency dedicated to destroying the Angels with their gargantuan robot suits called Evas. Only teenagers with special psychic powers can pilot the Evas, and the best pilot is the repressed 14-year-old Shinji Ikari, who is a more interesting, believable character than standard mecha pilots. The two final chapters of the Evangelion series (which originally ran in 1995-96) are highly philosophical ruminations that satisfied neither Anno nor the viewers. The episodes were remade as the theatrical features; however, only the original 26 episodes appear in this set. Not rated; suitable for ages 14 and up: Brief nudity, violence, sexual humor, and complex adult themes.

Complete Series

Crime Traveller: Complete Series

Product Details

  • Actors: Crime Traveller
  • Format: Box set, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Bfs Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 15, 2008
  • Run Time: 390 minutes

BBC Review

“A year on from Paul McGann’s ill-fated 1996 Doctor Who revival, the BBC presented a new time-travelling series for Saturday nights. Created by Anthony Horowitz, it followed the exploits of detective Jeff Slade (Michael French) and time machine-owning forensic scientist Holly Turner (Chloë Annett). Together the duo ventured back to the recent past to bust crime.

The show’s comic approach masked some smart plotting and involved thinking about the mechanics of time travel. Trips to the future were outlawed (“It doesn’t exist”), while meeting yourself in the past was prohibited lest it caused a “temporal schism”. Most importantly, travellers had to be back in front of the machine at the moment they’d embarked on their journey, or be caught in a “loop of infinity”. Cue numerous mad dashes at the climax of each episode.

Despite a cheeky cameo by a police box in episode six, Crime Traveller was lampooned by critics for not being Doctor Who – and cancelled after just one series.”

The Complete Series

Space Academy: The Complete Series

Product Details

  • Actors: Brian Tochi
  • Directors: Arthur H. Nadel
  • Format: Box set, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Bci / Eclipse
  • DVD Release Date: January 16, 2007

Amazon Customer Review

“Who could forget that the year Star Wars blasted its way across cinemas that Space Academy launched on CBS Saturday mornings? The SA was a man-made planetoid built upon a large asteroid in space that was navigated by way of an interstellar star drive and commanded by Lost In Space’s Dr. Smith, Jonathan Harris, who played 300 year-old Commander Isaac Gampu. The SA contained several really cool space shuttles or “Seekers” that allowed them to take off-campus expeditions to nearby planets. The Seekers were basically designed after the Ark II vehicle (minus the wheels) which had been Filmation’s previous live-action Saturday morning sci-fi entry. The culturally diverse and co-ed students attending the SA included Lt. Adrian played by Maggie Cooper, Lt. Laura Gentry played by Pamelyn Ferdin (the voice of Lucy from the Peanuts and Sally on Sealab 2020) and her brother Captain Chris Gentry played by Ric Carrott, Lt. Paul Jerome played by Ty Henderson, Tee-Gar Soom played by Brian Tochi (the voice of Leonardo in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films), and Loki played by Eric Greene along with a funky robot named Peepo (voiced by She-Ra Erika Scheimer) who looked as though he could have been the distant cousin of Buck Rogers’ Twiki. The students each had some kind of special skills and abilities like telekinesis and invisibility which were attributes used to overcome hostile situations and the stories generally involved plots that included some kind of moral for kids by teaching them the consequences about making the right choices but who really cared? For its day, this show boasted some of the best visual effects on television (cheezy by today’s standards of course) with detailed scale models and stop-motion aliens. What kid wouldn’t be intrigued by this show at that age? Bell-bottoms and blue-screens never looked so passe but for those of us who were glued to the television every Saturday morning in the 1970’s should find this old-school fun and a somewhat embarrassing nostalgic trip down memory lane.

In 1978, Space Academy was revamped into the successful spin-off serial Jason of Star Command starring Craig Littler as Jason and Sid Haig as the evil space pirate Dragos and it recycled the Space Academy sets and models which became Star Command under the command of Star Trek’s James Doohan and the Seekers were “upgraded” into the sleeker Starfire crafts. It was mentioned that Star Command was actually a special secret section of Space Academy although there was never any crossover between the two shows.

It’s hard to believe that after 30 years BCI-Eclipse will finally release the complete series on DVD featuring all 15 episodes of this rarely-seen vintage 70’s Saturday morning show on 4 discs including audio commentary on two episodes “Phantom Planet” and “Countdown” with Filmation producer Lou Scheimer and stars Ric Carrott, Brian Tochi, Eric Greene, and Special Effects Supervisor Chuck Comisky, and hosted by Andy Mangels. Special features also include:
* Featurette – “Back to School with Space Academy”
* Behind-the Scenes photo gallery
* Cast Reunion photo gallery with interview clips
* Memorabilia photo gallery with interview clips
* Promotional photo gallery
* Booklet with Episode Guide and Trivia
* All 15 Scripts (DVD-ROM)
* Series Bible (DVD-ROM)
* Easter Eggs
* Trailers – Ink & Paint Previews
All 15 Episodes:
1. The Survivors of Zalonm
2. Castaways in Time and Space
3. Hide and Seek
4. Countdown
5. There’s No Place Like Home
6. The Rocks of Janus
7. Monkey Business
8. The Phantom Planet
9. Planet of Fire
10. Life Begins at 300
11. The Cheat
12. My Favorite Marcia
13. Space Hookey
14. Star Legend
15. Johnny Sunseed

The Complete Series

Ark II: The Complete Series

Product Details

  • Actors: Ark 2
  • Format: Box set, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Bci / Eclipse
  • DVD Release Date: November 7, 2006

Editorial Reviews

Product Description
The 1970s children’s show ARK II reflected that decade’s ecological concerns with the sci-fi adventures of three human scientists–leader Jonah (Terry Lester) medic Ruth (Jean Marie Hon) and tech genius Samuel (Jose Flores)–who along with their talking chimpanzee Adam travelled in their high-tech vehicle to right the wrongs of the environmentally ravaged 25th century. This collection presents the fun conscientious and charmingly dated series in its entirety for a total of 15 episodes.

Space Above and Beyond - The Complete Series

Space Above and Beyond – The Complete Series

Product Details

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com
The science fiction series Space Above and Beyond, which enjoyed a brief run in the 1995-96 season, was created by X-Files producers Glen Morgan and James Wong as a revision of the classic war series Combat!. Set in the not-too-distant future, Space Above and Beyond follows the adventures of five inexperienced Marines of the 58th Squadron, who are involved in a war against the Chigs, a race of aliens bent on conquering the Earth. Morgan and Wong gave their main characters intriguing personalities–Nathan West (Morgan Weisser) has joined the Marines to save a girlfriend captured by the aliens, while Rodney Rowland’s Cooper is an artificially created human whose service is inspired by a desire to escape the violent prejudice he faces on Earth. The action and stories are gritty and dramatic, and put a fresh spin on traditional wartime stories–highlights include “The Enemy,” in which the 58th is stranded behind enemy lines; “Toy Soldiers,” in which West’s younger brother is serving under a dangerously reckless lieutenant; and the two-part “If They Lay Us Down to Rest…” and “Tell Our Moms We Done Our Best,” which brought the series to a close with the Earth on the verge of peace talks with the aliens as the military launches a perilous operation. Commentary by Morgan and Wong and the cast would have been welcome, especially if the plans for the unseen second season could’ve been revealed, but unfortunately, no supplemental features are included in this slickly produced, no-frills set.

Product Description
This 5-disc DVD set includes all 23 episodes including the two-part pilot episode! Its the year 2063. After 150 years of deep space exploration, the people of Earth feel certain they are alone in the universe. Then word comes that two Earth outposts light-years away from home have been brutally attacked by an advanced alien civilization. Now the new young recruits of the United States Marine Corps Space Aviator Calvary are heading for the front lines of space in the toughest battle the world has ever faced. Thrust into an intergalactic war beyond imagination, these untested fighter pilots suddenly find themselves waging a life-and-death struggle to protect Earth and to save mankind from total annihilation.

Starhunter – The Complete Series

Product Details

  • Actors: Starhunter
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 29, 2007
  • Run Time: 1056 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Product Description
This Complete Sci-Fi Series in a Deluxe Foil 4-Disc Package Features 22 Episodes on Four DVDs and Includes Unrated Bonus Footage! The year is 2275. Earth has colonized the entire solar system, but things are dangerous out there. Enter Dante Montana (Michael Paré, BloodRayne, Crash Landing), a reluctant bounty hunter haunted by his past, who, along with his crew, travels the universe in pursuit of dangerous interplanetary criminals, including The Raiders–an evil force that Dante believes kidnapped his son. Meanwhile, covert forces are waging a desperate war to unlock the secrets of the Divinity Cluster–powerful knowledge that in the wrong hands would mean universal domination…

Seaquest DSV - Season One

Seaquest DSV – Season One

Product Details

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com
An enormously ambitious television series from executive producer Steven Spielberg and series creator Rockne S. O’Bannon (Farscape, Alien Nation), seaQuest DSV made a valiant attempt to present a thoughtful and socially conscious science-fiction series on par with Star Trek to a ’90s audience (which had already latched onto Star Trek: The Next Generation), but struggled with mediocre scripts and special effects for most of its three seasons (1993-96). The first season, however, embodies much of the ambition and scope its producers envisioned, starting with the two-hour television movie to introduces retired officer Cmdr. Nathan Bridger (a grim-faced Roy Scheider) to the crew of the underwater vessel seaQuest DSV. The pilot feature is well helmed by Scheider, and offers an agreeable mix of fiction and fact (oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard served as technical advisor for the series), as well as considerable action and excitement for an expensive network series. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the cast (which included Stephanie Beacham as the ship’s fetching doctor and the late Jonathan Brandis as a teen science whiz), the show’s momentum faltered under the weight of corny embellishments such as its talking dolphin, Darwin (a genetically engineered human with gills would join the fray in the show’s second season) and episodes like “Knight of Shadows,” which offered a hoary possession storyline, or “Photon Bullet,” which hinges on underwater computer hackers. The series would alternate between intriguing stories (like the suspenseful “Games”) and ill-advised ones for much of its remaining seasons, which also saw cast changes (most notably, the departure of Scheider) in an attempt to revive audiences’ flagging interest. All 23 episodes of the first season are included on this four-disc set, as well as a decent selection of deleted scenes from nine episodes, including the pilot.

Product Description
Travel to the spectacular undersea world of seaQuest DSV as all 23 groundbreaking episodes from the epic first season surface on DVD. The amazing adventure begins in the mid-21st century, as humankind expands its undersea colonization efforts and a tenuous world peace is enforced by the United Earth Oceans (UEO). In order to protect the fledgling underwater colonies from unknown dangers and hostile invaders lurking in the depths of Earth’s last frontier, the UEO recruits Captain Nathan Bridger (Roy Scheider) to command the high-tech battle submarine seaQuest and its diverse and eclectic crew. Along for the ride are a roster of stellar guest stars, including Charlton Heston, William Shatner, Seth Green, Kellie Martin and Kent McCord. Now on DVD for the first time ever, with exclusive never-before-seen footage, the Emmy® Award-winning seaQuest DSV is sure to make waves with thrill-seekers everywhere!

Season Two

Seaquest DSV: Season Two

Sliders - The First and Second Seasons

Sliders – The First and Second Seasons

Product Details

  • Directors: Allan Eastman, Jim Charleston, David Livingston, Colin Bucksey, John McPherson
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: August 3, 2004
  • Run Time: 1019 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com
Though often and unfairly dismissed as a Quantum Leap clone, the Fox TV series Sliders earned a substantial fan base thanks to its intriguing central premise–the existence of multiple alternate realities–and impressive special effects, both of which get a fine showcase in this six-disc DVD set. Jerry O’Connell leads the appealing cast as a college student who accidentally discovers a portal into alternate dimensions; with the help of his professor (Lord of the Rings‘ John Rhys-Davies), a spunky Girl Friday (Sabrina Lloyd), and a soul crooner (Cleavant Derricks), O’Connell encounters a host of strange parallel Earths, including a British-ruled United States and one where dinosaurs roam a national park. All nine episodes of the 1995 debut season and the 12-episode second season from ’96, as well as the pilot from ’95, are included in the aesthetically impressive set; extras, however, are limited to commentary by creators Tracy Torme and Robert K. Weiss on the pilot episode, and a making-of featurette with O’Connell and Derricks.

From the Back Cover
Quinn (Jerry O’Connell), a brilliant grad student, has created a device that opens a wormhole to an infinite number of parallel universes where history has taken a different paths. His first test trip goes awry, stranding his physics professor, Arturo (John Rhys-Davies), his friend, Wade (Sabrina Lloyd), and a bystander Rembrandt “Crying Man” Brown in parallel San Francisos.

Now this foursome of Sliders must travel from one alternate reality to another in the hope of somehow finding their way home.

Sliders – Third Season

Sliders: The Fourth Season

Quantum Leap – The Complete First Season

Product Details

  • Directors: Chris Ruppenthal, John Cullum, Paul Brown (III), Bob Hulme, Stuart Margolin
  • Format: Box set, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rating:
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: June 8, 2004
  • Run Time: 428 minutes

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com
They’ll be dancing (well, leaping maybe) in the streets now that the first season of Quantum Leap, voted one of the 25 best cult series ever by TV Guide, has come to home video, a decade after its final year (1994) on the air (the pilot episode was released on DVD in ’98). And why shouldn’t they? This is a show, called “an imaginative diversion” by one critic, with a good premise that’s cleverly and skillfully conceived, written, acted, and produced–ample evidence of which is spread out over three discs, each containing three episodes (plus some fairly meager extras) from the first season.

Scott Bakula, in the role that made him a star, plays Sam Beckett, a scientist who’s part of a time-travel experiment that “went a little… ka-ka.” Unable to return to his own time, and aided only by Al (Dean Stockwell, whose rapport with Bakula is one of the series’ most appealing elements), his cigar-smoking, peculiar-dressing, sex-obsessed, holographic “enabler,” Sam “leaps” unpredictably from one time period and person to another, usually completely out of his element (as a pilot, a boxer, a cowboy, an English lit professor, even an elderly black man in segregated ’50s Alabama) and always in a situation that needs to be “made right” before he can leap onward. Generous helpings of humor, drama, physical action, and sentimentality (this is TV, after all) keep things moving, as do references to many other classic films and genres (Driving Miss Daisy in “The Color of Truth,” Casablanca in “Play it Again, Seymour,” boxing in general in “The Right Hand of God”) and what creator Donald Bellisario calls the occasional “kiss with history” (Sam crosses paths with the young Buddy Holly and Michael Jackson, among others). It doesn’t all work, as Quantum Leap occasionally becomes too cute and facile for its own good. But that and the set’s paucity of bonus material (limited to one passable featurette and brief episode intros by Bakula) are the only real shortcomings of a boxed set that will likely earn multiple spins in the DVD player.

Product Description
Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and Vanished…He woke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.

Quantum Leap – The Complete Third Season

Quantum Leap – The Complete Fourth Season

Quantum Leap – The Complete Fifth Season

Lost in Space - Seasons 1 - 3

Lost in Space – Seasons 1 – 3

Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Number of discs: 5
  • DVD Release Date: March 25, 2008

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com [Season One]
Lost in Space began life in 1965 as a science-fiction take on The Swiss Family Robinson. Produced by Irwin Allen, then in the midst of his run of spectacular-but-childish TV sci-fi (before he became the master of big-screen disaster movies), the show featured a family of all-American space colonists cast away on a mysterious planet. Gradually the whole thing devolved into a silly (but sometimes fun) exercise in childish camp. This boxed set includes all 29 black and white episodes from the first season (with a burst of color at the end of the last show–a foretaste of the garish look of the remaining two seasons) along with “No Place to Hide,” the expensive pilot show that sold the series but prompted Allen to revamp the whole premise in comic mode when network execs responded best to its unintended humor.

“No Place to Hide” has action scenes that cropped up in the first six regular episodes but is missing several of the show’s trademark aspects, most notably that infectious theme from Johnny Williams (later, John Williams of Star Wars fame) and the scheming presence of Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) and his alternately menacing and comical robot (“It does not compute”). As the series progresses (or degenerates, depending on your taste), Harris’s Smith changes from pantomime villain, a saboteur who is trying to kill the family, into pantomime idiot whose foolishness, cowardice, and avarice are an endless source of plots. It mostly makes do with the regular cast plus an array of shaggy-suited, snarling aliens, but you do get sterling ham from visiting astronauts such as Warren Oates (“Welcome Stranger”), Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet (“War of the Robots”), and a very young Kurt Russell (“The Challenge”). Stories about surviving on an alien world give way to lifts from fairy tale, myth, and old movies as Smith gets hold of a wishing cap, becomes a giant, is chosen as a sacrificial king, turns the children over to an alien zoo, squeaks in fright as a werewolf approaches, or is cursed with a platinum Midas touch.

Knight Rider Seasons 1 - 4 Bundle DVD Set

Knight Rider Seasons 1 – 4 Bundle DVD Set

Product Details

  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 12
  • Studio: Universal Studios

Editorial Reviews

Product Description
Complete Seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Knight Rider on DVD. US Version. Region 1. Factory Sealed. /// Michael Long is a crimefighter who is seriously wounded during his work. Nursed back to health by a mysterious benefactor (chairman of the Knight Industries), he regains consciousness a new man with a new face and a new name: Michael Knight. His mysterious benefactor (through the guise of associate Devon Miles) provides Michael with equipment and support so that he can continue his crime fighting work. The most notable piece of equipment supplied, is “KITT”, a high-performance sports car fitted with artificial intelligence.

NOTE: The Red Dwarf series comes from the BBCAmerica store, but I believe it can be found on Amazon.

Red Dwarf: The Complete Collection

Red Dwarf: Series I & II
The Complete Series One and Two! A radiation leak wipes out the crew of the mining ship Red Dwarf, leaving Dave Lister as the only survivor and after 3 million years in suspended animation, the last human in the universe.
DVD Fullscreen

Red Dwarf: Series III & IV
Ge ready for more crazy antics and wild chaos from outer space with the crew of the mining ship Red Dwarf!
DVD Widescreen

Red Dwarf: Series V & VI
Female droids…evil doppelgangers…and a cactus in a very private place! The slobbiest, most wacked-out bunch of spacebums ever to set foot in an alternate reality is back for more crazy antics and outer-space chaos.
DVD Fullscreen

Red Dwarf: Series VII
After a temporary bout of deadness, the Dwarfers find themselves solving one of the biggest conspiracy plots of all time, before Ace Rimmer drops in with the challenge of Rimmer’s life.
DVD Fullscreen

Red Dwarf: Series VIII
The nanobots have populated the ship with its original crew. This is especially good news for Rimmer, who is now a lot less dead, but is extremely bad news for everyone else.
DVD Fullscreen

These that follow don’t come from Amazon, but from http://www.dvdavenue.tv/themes/sci-fi.html and one other site, so the information is presented in a slightly different format, and I have had to make slight corrections in grammar, etc..

Witchblade DVD || Complete TV Series on DVD

Witchblade – Seasons 1-2

DVD SPECS
Video Format: Normal Screen
Special Features: None
Menu’s Yes (Interactive Menu for quick and easy
episode selection)
Commercials: None
Language Tracks: English
Subtitle Tracks: None
Rating: Not Rated
Product Packaging: Standard DVD Cases with
Professional, Full Color Artwork
Region Code: 0 (Region-Free – Plays Worldwide)
DVD Format: Format-Free DVD-R (Plays in both
PAL and NTSC DVD players

Witchblade was premiered on the 1st of June 2001 and lasted on the 1st of August 2002. The series was created by Marc Silvestri and J.D. Zeik and it has two (2) seasons with twenty-three (23) episodes. It follows the exploits of a police detective who fights crime with the help of an ancient and powerful weapon.

Sara Pezzini portrayed by Yancy Butler, a homicide detective for the New York Police Department (NYPD) and while finding justice she came into contact with a very powerful, ancient, intelligent weapon known as the Witchblade. Kenneth Irons portrayed by Anthony Cistaro, the evil mastermind. Other characters are Jake McCartey portrayed by David Chocachi; Ian Nottingham portrayed by Eric Etebari; Danny Woo portrayed by Will Yun Lee; Gallo portrayed by Conrad Dunn; and many others.

  • Witchblade DVD is a collection of 12 DVDs in a 3 box set as shown above, all episodes are organize from pilot to finale.
  • With custom artwork and episode guides so you can find your favorite episode at anytime
  • The Witchblade DVD collection are formatted region free so they will play on any DVD player, DVD-ROM X-Box or PS2 Worldwide
  • All DVDs are presented in full screen, commercial free and unedited. Exactly the same as it was shown in American television.
  • Presented in English
  • This item has not been rated

7 Days DVD || Complete TV Series on DVD

7 Days – Seasons 1-3

DVD SPECS
Video Format: Normal Screen
Special Features: None
Menu’s Yes (Interactive Menu for quick and easy
episode selection)
Commercials: None
Language Tracks: English
Subtitle Tracks: None
Rating: Not Rated
Product Packaging: Standard DVD Cases with
Professional, Full Color Artwork
Region Code: 0 (Region-Free – Plays Worldwide)
DVD Format: Format-Free DVD-R (Plays in both
PAL and NTSC DVD players)

7 Days was premiered on the 7th of October 1998 and lasted on the 29th of May 2001. The series was created by Christopher and Zachary Crowe and it has three (3) seasons and sixty-six (66) episodes. It follows the exploit of a man who can travel back in time seven days before the disaster had happened.

United States National Security Agency developed a time traveling device known as Project Backstep. The project allows a person to back step exactly seven days before the disaster happened and for him to prevent it from happening. U.S. Navy lieutenant Francis Parker, also known as Frank, (portrayed by Jonathan LaPaglia) was the project chrononaut. He qualified for the job because he has high tolerance for pain, he has a good memory, and has had a psychiatric problem that gave him a very flexible mind set. He was joined by Dr. Bradley Talmadge portrayed by Alan Scarfe as the head of the Project Backstep; Nathan Ramsey portrayed by Nick Searcy as head of security of the Project Backstep; and Captain Craig Donovan portrayed by Don Franklin as the backup chrononaut.

  • 7 Days DVD is a collection of 15 DVDs in a 3 box set as shown above, all episodes are organize from pilot to finale.
  • The 7 Days DVD collection also includes custom artwork and episode guides so you can find your favorite episode at anytime.
  • 7 Days DVD collection are formatted region free so they will play on any DVD player, DVD-ROM X-Box or PS2 Worldwide”
  • All DVDs are presented in full screen, commercial free and unedited. Exactly the same as it was shown in American television
  • Presented in English
  • This item has not been rated

Time Trax DVD || Complete TV Series on DVD

Time Traxx – Seasons 1-2

DVD SPECS
Video Format: Normal Screen
Special Features: None
Menu’s Yes (Interactive Menu for quick and easy
episode selection)
Commercials: None
Language Tracks: English
Subtitle Tracks: None
Rating: Not Rated
Product Packaging: Standard DVD Cases with
Professional, Full Color Artwork
Region Code: 0 (Region-Free – Plays Worldwide)
DVD Format: Format-Free DVD-R (Plays in both
PAL and NTSC DVD players)

Time Trax debuted on the 20th of January 1993 and ended on the 3rd of December 1994. The series was created by Harve Bennett, Jeffrey Hayes, and Grant Rosenberg and it has two (2) seasons with forty-four (44) episodes. It follows the exploits of a police officer from the 22nd century who goes back to the present time and chases the fugitives who travel to our time using a time machine called Trax.

Darien Lambert, portrayed by Dale Midkiff, was a detective sent back to 1993 to get as many fugitives from their time as possible. He was assisted by SELMA, a powerful computer and disguised as a MasterCard. He encountered fugitives such as Dr. Mordecai Sahmbi, Charlie Burke and Sepp Dietrich among others.

  • The Time Trax DVD is a collection of 11 DVDs in a box set as shown above, all 100% in chronological order from the pilot to the finale
  • The Time Trax DVD collection also includes custom artwork and episode guides so you can find your favorite episode at anytime
  • The Time Trax DVD collection are formatted region free so they will play on any DVD player, DVD-ROM X-Box or PS2 Worldwide
  • Presented in full screen format – exactly as it was shown on television
  • Presented in English
  • This item has not been rated

War of The Worlds DVD || Complete TV Series on DVD

War Of The Worlds – Seasons 1-2

DVD SPECS
Video Format: Normal Screen
Special Features: None
Menu’s Yes (Interactive Menu for quick and easy
episode selection)
Commercials: None
Language Tracks: English
Subtitle Tracks: None
Rating: Not Rated
Product Packaging: Standard DVD Cases with
Professional, Full Color Artwork
Region Code: 0 (Region-Free – Plays Worldwide)
DVD Format: Format-Free DVD-R (Plays in both
PAL and NTSC DVD players)

War of the World debuted on the 10th of October 1988 and ended on the 14th of May 1990. The series was created by Greg Strangis and it has two (2) seasons with forty-two (42) episodes. The series follows the exploits of a team who fight against the aliens who want to invade the Earth.

The group that was formed by the government consisted of: Dr. Harrison Blackwood, portrayed by Jared Martin, a astrophysicist who led the team, (they were named The Blackwood Project). Dr. Suzanne McCullough, portrayed by Lynda Mason Green, a microbiologist and a single mother with her daughter named Debi. They were also joined by the computer genius and a friend to Blackwood named Norton Drake, portrayed by Philip Akin, and Lt. Col. Paul Ironhorse, portrayed by Richard Chaves, a very conservative native American military man.

  • War of The Worlds DVD is a collection of 8 DVDs in a box set as shown above, all 100% in chronological order from the pilot to the finale
  • War of The Worlds DVD collection includes custom artwork and episode guides so you can find your favorite episode at anytime
  • War of The Worlds DVD collection are formatted region free so they will play on any DVD player, DVD-ROM X-Box or PS2 Worldwide
  • All DVD’s are presented in full screen. Exactly the same as it was shown in American television.
  • Presented in English
  • This item has not been ratedJake 2.0 on DVDJake 2.0

    DVD SPECS
    Video Format: Normal Screen
    Special Features: None
    Menu’s Yes (Interactive Menu for quick and easy
    episode selection)
    Commercials: None
    Language Tracks: English
    Subtitle Tracks: None
    Rating: Not Rated
    Product Packaging: Standard DVD Cases with
    Professional, Full Color Artwork
    Region Code: 0 (Region-Free – Plays Worldwide)
    DVD Format: Format-Free DVD-R (Plays in both
    PAL and NTSC DVD players)

    Jake 2.0 was an American television series about Jake Foley, a computer technician for the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA) and became a secret agent after a freak accident at the Agency. Jake was exposed to a liquid containing top-secret nanites, which are now giving him mind-boggling powers. He possesses superhuman strength, lightning-fast speed, heightened hearing, razor sharp vision and telepathic abilities to communicate with computers.
    Jake 2.0 was originally aired from September 10, 2003 until December 17, 2003 on the UPN network. The story centered on Jake Foley as he straddles two different worlds: his life as the world’s mightiest secret agent, and keeping his secret from the outside world, including his friends, family and congressional staffer, Sarah Heywood, for whom he secretly pines.

    • Jake 2.0 DVD is a collection of 3 DVDs in a box set as shown above, all 100% in chronological order from the pilot to the finale
    • Jake 2.0 DVD collection also includes custom artwork and episode guides so you can find your favorite episode at anytime
    • Jake 2.0 DVD collection are formatted region free so they will play on any DVD player, DVD-ROM X-Box or PS2 Worldwide
    • Presented in full screen format – exactly as it was shown on television
    • Presented in English
    • This item has not been rated

    First Wave DVD || Complete TV Series on DVD

    First Wave – Seasons 1-3

    DVD SPECS
    Video Format: Normal Screen
    Special Features: None
    Menu’s Yes (Interactive Menu for quick and easy
    episode selection)
    Commercials: None
    Language Tracks: English
    Subtitle Tracks: None
    Rating: Not Rated
    Product Packaging: Standard DVD Cases with
    Professional, Full Color Artwork
    Region Code: 0 (Region-Free – Plays Worldwide)
    DVD Format: Format-Free DVD-R (Plays in both
    PAL and NTSC DVD players)

    First Wave premiered on the 9th of September 1998 and lasted to the 28th of February 2001. The series was created by Chris Brancato and it has three (3) seasons with sixty-six (66) episodes. It follows the exploits of a security specialist who was once a thief and was now part of an experiment to test humans.

    Lawrence Kincade Foster or much known as Cade, has a great life after being a thief before; he is now a security specialist with a beautiful wife and nice house. Unfortunately he was used as subject 117 in an experiment against the Gua aliens without him knowing it and being the subject of the experiment, his life will be ruined (which includes his wife’s murder and Cade being framed for it). The Gua intend to enslave humanity and to conquer and finally destroy the human race. Cade was to stop the three waves intended by Gua. With the help of Eddie Nambulous, a computer hacker and Joshua, one of the Gua but who does not believe that the invasion of the Earth was necessary, and so he helps Cade and Eddie to stop his people from the invasion itself.

    • The First Wave DVD is a collection of 8 DVDs in a box set as shown above, all 100% in chronological order from the pilot to the finale
    • The First Wave DVD also includes custom artwork and episode guides so you can find your favorite episode at anytime.
    • The First Wave DVD collection are formatted region free so they will play on any DVD player, DVD-ROM X-Box or PS2 Worldwide
    • First Wave DVD is presented in full screen format – exactly as it was shown on television
    • Presented in English
    • This item has not been rated

    Tek War DVD || Complete TV Series on DVD

    Tek War – Seasons 1-2

    DVD SPECS
    Video Format: Normal Screen
    Special Features: None
    Menu’s Yes (Interactive Menu for quick and easy
    episode selection)
    Commercials: None
    Language Tracks: English
    Subtitle Tracks: None
    Rating: Not Rated
    Product Packaging: Standard DVD Cases with
    Professional, Full Color Artwork
    Region Code: 0 (Region-Free – Plays Worldwide)
    DVD Format: Format-Free DVD-R (Plays in both
    PAL and NTSC DVD players)

    Tek War debuted on the 23rd of January 1994 and ended on the 9th of February 1996. The series was based on the novels written by William Shatner and it has two (2) seasons with twenty-two (22) episodes. It focused on a computerized mind-altering drug known as Tek.

    Jake Cardigan, portrayed by Greg Evigan, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. He was framed for dealing with the addictive drug, Tek, four years before. But fortunately he was released earlier that the 15 years sentenced.

    • Tek War DVD is a collection of DVDs in a box set as shown above, all 100% in chronological order from the pilot to the finale
    • Tek War DVD collection also includes custom artwork and episode guides so you can find your favorite episode at anytime
    • Tek War DVD collection are formatted region free so they will play on any DVD player, DVD-ROM X-Box or PS2 Worldwide
    • Presented in full screen format – exactly as it was shown on television
    • Presented in English
    • This item has not been rated

    Time Cop DVD || Complete TV Series on DVD

    Time Cop – Season 1

    DVD SPECS
    Video Format: Normal Screen
    Special Features: None
    Menu’s Yes (Interactive Menu for quick and easy
    episode selection)
    Commercials: None
    Language Tracks: English
    Subtitle Tracks: None
    Rating: Not Rated
    Product Packaging: Standard DVD Cases with
    Professional, Full Color Artwork
    Region Code: 0 (Region-Free – Plays Worldwide)
    DVD Format: Format-Free DVD-R (Plays in both
    PAL and NTSC DVD players)

    Time Cop premiered on the 22nd of September 1997 and lasted on the 18th of July 1998. The series was created by Mike Richardson and Mark Verheiden, and it had only one (1) season with only nine (9) episodes. It follows the exploits of an agent who tracked down criminals who were trying to change the past.

    Jack Logan, portrayed by Ted King, was the best agent of the Time Enforcement Commission or TEC. They were formed to tracked down time-criminals who had plans to change the past. He was joined by Captain Gene Matuzek, portrayed by Don Stark; Dale Easter, portrayed by Kurt Fuller as the historian; and Claire Hemmings, portrayed by Cristi Conaway as the science/tech advisor.

    Blakes 7 on DVD

    Blakes 7 – Seasons 1-4

    DVD SPECS
    Video Format: Normal Screen
    Special Features: None
    Menu’s Yes (Interactive Menu for quick and easy
    episode selection)
    Commercials: None
    Language Tracks: English
    Subtitle Tracks: None
    Rating: Not Rated
    Product Packaging: Standard DVD Cases with
    Professional, Full Color Artwork
    Region Code: 0 (Region-Free – Plays Worldwide)
    DVD Format: Format-Free DVD-R (Plays in both
    PAL and NTSC DVD players)

    Blake’s 7 debuted on the 1st of January 1978 and ended on the 1st of December 1981. The series was created by Terry Nation and has four (4) seasons with fifty-two (52) episodes. It follows the exploits of a group of reluctant rebels fighting against the forces of the totalitarian Earth Federation.

    Roj Blake, portrayed by Gareth Thomas, was one of several convicted and sentenced to deportation to a penal colony on a remote planet. But he and the others escaped while being transported and they obtained an advanced alien spacecraft named the Liberator, which they used to strike back against the Federation. Unfortunately the other convicts are reluctant to follow Blake’s plan. The other rebels are Kerr Avon, portrayed by Paul Darrow, the computer genius; Jenna Stannis, portrayed by Sally Knyvette, the beautiful smuggler; Vila Restal, portrayed by Michael Keating, the thief; Olag Gan, portrayed by David Jackson, the murderer who killed his girlfriend; Cally, portrayed by Jan Chappell, an alien and with telepathic and psychic abilities; and Zen, voiced by Peter Tuddenham, the master computer in the Liberator spacecraft.

    • The Blake’s 7 DVD is a complete collection, all episodes are organize from pilot to finale.
    • Blake’s 7 DVD collection also includes custom artwork and episode guides so you can find your favorite episode at anytime
    • The Blake’s 7 DVD collection are formatted region free so they will play on any DVD player, DVD-ROM X-Box or PS2 Worldwide
    • All DVDs are presented in full screen, commercial free and unedited. Exactly the same as it was shown in American television.
    • Presented in English
    • This item has not been rated

    Dark Skies on SCI-FI DVD

    Dark Skies – Season 1

    DVD SPECS
    Video Format: Nomal Screen
    Special Features: None
    Menu’s Yes (Interactive Menu for quick and easy
    episode selection)
    Commercials: None
    Language Tracks: English
    Subtitle Tracks: None
    Rating: Not Rated
    Product Packaging: Standard DVD Cases with
    Professional, Full Color Artwork
    Region Code: 0 (Region-Free – Plays Worldwide)
    DVD Format: Format-Free DVD-R (Plays in both
    PAL and NTSC DVD players)

    Dark Skies premiered on 21st of September 1996 on NBC and was later return by the Sci-Fi Channel. The series was created by Bryce Zabel and it had only (1) season with (19) episodes. It follows that the history we know was just a lie.

    John Loengard and Kim Sayers attempt numerous plans to thwart the alien’s hive, most of which are tied to historical events and figures. The pair must stay one step ahead of a covert government agency, Majestic-12 – their task is to maintain the conspiracy of silence while fighting the aliens.

    • The Dark Skies DVD is a collection of 3 DVDs in a boxed set as shown above, all 100% in chronological order from the pilot to the finale.
    • The Dark Skies DVD collection also includes custom artwork and episode guides so you can find your favorite episode at anytime.
    • The Dark Skies DVD collection are formatted region free so they will play on any DVD player, DVD-ROM X-Box or PS2 Worldwide.
    • All DVDs are presented in full screen. Exactly the same as it was shown in American television.
    • Presented in English
    • This item has not been rated

    Salvage DVD || Complete TV Series on DVD

    Salvage

    DVD SPECS
    Video Format: Normal Screen
    Special Features: None
    Menu’s Yes (Interactive Menu for quick and easy
    episode selection)
    Commercials: None
    Language Tracks: English
    Subtitle Tracks: None
    Rating: Not Rated
    Product Packaging: Standard DVD Cases with
    Professional, Full Color Artwork
    Region Code: 0 (Region-Free – Plays Worldwide)
    DVD Format: Format-Free DVD-R (Plays in both
    PAL and NTSC DVD players)

    Salvage 1 was a science fiction series that premiered on the 20th of January 1979 and lasted to the 28th of May 1979. The series, produced by ABC, has sixteen (16) episodes.

    The story started with Harry Broderick’s (Andy Griffith) dream to build a build a spaceship, go to the moon, salvage all the junk that’s up there, bring it back and sell it. Harry Broderick owns the Jettison Scrap and Salvage Company. To make his dream real he invited Addison “Skip” Carmichael (Joel Higgins) a former astraunaut and and Melanie “Mel” Slozar (Trish Stewart) a NASA fuel expert to establish a team.

    The team created a spaceship and called Vulture and that is where all adventures of the team started.

    • Salvage 1 DVD is a collection of DVDs in a box set as shown above, all 100% in chronological order from the pilot to the finale
    • Salvage 1 DVD collection also includes custom artwork and episode guides so you can find your favorite episode at anytime
    • Salvage 1 DVD collection are formatted region free so they will play on any DVD player, DVD-ROM X-Box or PS2 Worldwide
    • Presented in full screen format – exactly as it was shown on television
    • Presented in English
    • This item has not been rated

    image

    Tripods

    The Tripods, a revolutionary cult TV series by BBC, aired on September 1984 to December 1985, and was based on the science-fiction books of John Christopher. The story is about how humanity has been conquered and enslaved by the “Tripods,” huge metallic-looking aliens. The series also featured other non-humanoid aliens.

    • Tripods DVD is a collection of 41 DVDs in a 6 box set as shown above, all 100% in chronological order from the pilot to the finale.
    • Tripods DVD includes custom artwork and episode guides so you can find your favorite episode at anytime.
    • The Tripods DVD collection is formatted region free so they will play on any DVD player, DVD-ROM X-Box or PS2 Worldwide.
    • All DVDs are presented in full screen. Exactly the same as it was shown in American television.
    • Presented in English
    • This item has not been rated

    DVD SPECS
    Video Format: Normal Screen
    Special Features: None
    Menu’s Yes (Interactive Menu for quick and easy
    episode selection)
    Commercials: None
    Language Tracks: English
    Subtitle Tracks: None
    Rating: Not Rated
    Product Packaging: Standard DVD Cases with
    Professional, Full Color Artwork
    Region Code: 0 (Region-Free – Plays Worldwide)
    DVD Format: Format-Free DVD-R (Plays in both
    PAL and NTSC DVD players)

    image

    Starman (series)

    DVD SPECS
    Video Format: Normal Screen
    Special Features: None
    Menu’s Yes (Interactive Menu for quick and easy
    episode selection)
    Commercials: None
    Language Tracks: English
    Subtitle Tracks: None
    Rating: Not Rated
    Product Packaging: Standard DVD Cases with
    Professional, Full Color Artwork
    Region Code: 0 (Region-Free – Plays Worldwide)
    DVD Format: Format-Free DVD-R (Plays in both
    PAL and NTSC DVD players)

    Starman is a sci-fi tv series that premiered on September 19, 1986 and ended on May 2, 1987. This series originally came from 1984 film of the same title. Starring Christopher Barnes and Robert Hays, under the direction of John Carpenter.

    Set 15 years before the film, in the series, the alien returns to find and assist the child he fathered 15 years before on his visit to Earth When he arrives, he takes on the identity of Paul Forrester, highly paid freelance photographer with a rather wild reputation killed in a helicopter accident. He finds the child (Scott Hayden) and his mother (Jenny) have been separated. Paul convinces Scott to help him to locate Jenny, his friend from his first visit to Earth. Unfortunately, their search is plagued by George Fox, a paranoid government agent who feels Paul and Scott are dangerous and wants to capture, examine, and probably kill them.

    • Starman DVD is a collection of DVDs in a box set as shown above, all 100% in chronological order from the pilot to the finale
    • Starman DVD collection also includes custom artwork and episode guides so you can find your favorite episode at anytime
    • Starman DVD collection are formatted region free so they will play on any DVD player, DVD-ROM X-Box or PS2 Worldwide
    • Presented in full screen format – exactly as it was shown on television
    • Presented in English
    • This item has not been rated

    image

    Space Rangers

    • Running Time: 278 mins
    • Region: 2
    • Main Language: English
    • Product Number: 665967
    • Production Years: 1993

    In the year 2104, new worlds have been discovered and civilisations have been established all across the galaxy. On the frontier, the Space Rangers, a group of volunteers, have agreed to help uphold the law and protect the innocent from the threat of the “Banshies.” Led by Captain John Boon, the Rangers are a mixture of characters, including: Doc, Jojo, Kincaid and the alien Zylyn. Features all six episodes: Fort Hope, Banshies, The Replacements, Death Before Dishonour, The Trial and The Entertainer.

    Starring:

    Jeff Kaake, Marjorie Monoghan, Cary-Hiroyuli Tagawa, Jack McGee, Clint Howard, Danny Quinn

    Directed by:

    Ben Bolt, Thom Eberhardt, David Burton Morris, Mikael Salomon

    Happy Viewing and watch out for the next part – the collection grows…

  • Classic Reads for Pre-teens and Teens – some old, some new Part II

    This is a list of classic books, both old and new or “instant classics” for the younger set. Some are suitable for reading aloud (esp. the ones marked as best for 4-8 yr olds), and all are suitable for most ages over 8. Even older teens might like the ones marked for younger readers. Because these are “classics,” the age boundaries are more for reading/comprehension level, rather than a guide to content, with some noted exceptions.

    I invite you to look through the list, and find some that might make suitable reading or read-a-loud stories to share. Check Scholastic.com for many reprints of classics. They are one of the biggest publishers out there for these books, and for that they should be commended. Part III will be coming soon.

    The Seventeenth Swap by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

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    Ages 9-12. “Eric Greene needs $17.99 fast. He wants to buy his young crippled friend Jimmy a pair of outrageous red cowboy boots that are on sale for one week.

    But how can Eric get the cash that quickly? He has no money, but he does have a plan. He can swap for the boots. So he begins a series of wheelings and dealings with some fascinating people.

    And along the way, Eric learns some very surprising things about himself – and that makes the seventeenth swap the best swap of all.” Book Description

    Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James

    Ages 9-12. “Smoky knows only one way of life: freedom. Living on the open range, he is free to go where he wants and to do what he wants. And he knows what he has to do to survive. He can beat any enemy, whether it be a rattlesnake or a hungry wolf. He is as much a part of the Wild West as it is of him, and Smoky can’t imagine anything else.

    But then he comes across a new enemy, one that walks on two legs and makes funny sounds. Smoky can’t beat this enemy the way he has all the others. But does he really want to? Or could giving up some of his freedom mean getting something in return that’s even more valuable?” Book Description

    “There have been many horse stories. But not one of them can compare with this book.” New York Times Book Review

    “One of the finest horse stories ever told.” Herald Tribune

    White Fang by Jack London

    White Fang (Scholastic Classics)

    Ages 12 and up. “Gr. 6-8. Ed Young, whose haunting illustrations of the wolf made his Caldecott- winning Lon Po Po (1989) so memorable, was well chosen as the illustrator for the Scribner Illustrated Classics edition of White Fang. Jack London’s 1906 novel. As many will remember, London tells the story of a wolf-dog who endures great cruelty before he comes to know human kindness. The 12 pastel illustrations illuminate the text with their dramatic use of light and dark, sensitively delineated forms, and soft, subtle shades of color. A handsome new edition of a longtime favorite.” Booklist

    The Call of the Wild by Jack London

    The Call of the Wild

    Ages 12 and up. “First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London’s masterpiece. Based on London’s experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike.” Book Description

    Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

    Ages 9-12. ” On an island off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland lives a centuries-old band of wild ponies. Among them is the most mysterious of all, Phantom, a rarely seen mare that eludes all efforts to capture her–that is, until a young boy and girl lay eyes on her and determine that they can’t live without her. The frenzied roundup that follows on the next “Pony Penning Day” does indeed bring Phantom into their lives, in a way they never would have suspected. Phantom would forever be a creature of the wild. But her gentle, loyal colt Misty is another story altogether.

    Marguerite Henry’s Newbery Honor Book has captivated generations of boys and girls both with its thrilling descriptions of true incidents from the tiny island of Chincoteague, and its realistic yet wonderfully magical atmosphere. This story of an animal brought into captivity poignantly reveals the powerful opposing forces of humans and nature. Wesley Dennis’s pen-and-ink ponies are masterfully depicted with rippling muscles, shaggy coats, and free spirits. (Ages 9 to 12).” Amazon

    Stormy, Misty’s Foal by Marguerite Henry and Wesley Dennis

    Stormy, Misty's Foal

    Ages 9-12. “A raging storm slashes across Assateague and Chincoteague islands. Water is everywhere! The wild ponies and the people must battle for their lives.

    In the midst of the storm, Misty-the famous mare of Chincoteague-is about to give birth. Paul and Maureen are frantic with worry as the storm rages on… will Misty and her colt survive?

    This is the thrilling story of the hurricane that destroyed the wild herds of Assateague, and how strength and love helped rebuild them.” Book Description

    Sea Star: Orphan of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry and Wesley Dennis

    Orphan of Chincoteague

    Ages 9-12. “Movie men have come to Chincoteague to film the annual Pony Penning, and Paul and Maureen are thrilled — until they learn that the producers want to buy their beloved Misty. Reluctantly, they agree to sell in order to send their uncle to college. But how will they ever fill the lonely place that Misty leaves behind?

    Finding an orphaned colt helps Paul and Maureen deal with their loss, and they soon discover that little Sea Star needs them just as much as they need him.” Book Description

    King of the Wind: The Story of the Goldophin Arabians by Marguerite Henry and Wesley Dennis

    King of the Wind

    Ages 9-12. “Grade 4-8-The Newbery Medal-winning tale about a stallion, a stable boy, and their globe-spanning adventures.” School Library Journal

    Brighty: Of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry

    Ages 9-12. “Grade 3-6-Marguerite Henry’s book (Rand McNally, 1953) is based on actual incidents in the life of a Grand Canyon burro. Brighty loves his life of independence along the Bright Angel Creek for which he was named, going to the rim in the summer and down to the canyon floor in winter. He is present as President Theodore Roosevelt discusses the beauty and grandeur of the Canyon and how it should be preserved for the American people. Brighty is the first to walk the historic bridge connecting the north and south rims. Befriended by prospectors, government men and campers, Brighty alternately helps his friends and runs free as the spirit moves him. His friend and companion, Old Timer, a prospector, is murdered by a claim jumper. A saddened Brighty searches for the killer, an adventure which runs through the book.” School Library Journal

    Justin Morgan Had A Horse by Marguerite Henry

    Ages 9-12. “Joel’s face suddenly lit up as if he had thought of something for the first time. He spoke now to the horse, as though he were the one that mattered. “Why, come to think of it, you’re just like us, Bub. You’re American! That’s what you are. American!”

    In 1791 a Vermont schoolmaster by the name of Justin Morgan comes home with a two-year-old colt named Little Bub. Taken as payment for an outstanding debt, the little colt doesn’t seem like he is worth much, but the kindly teacher asks one of his students, Joel Goss, to train him. Joel knows the horse has great potential, and soon word about Little Bub spreads throughout the entire Northeast for his ability to outwork, outrun, outtrot, and outwalk any horse in the area.

    This is the extraordinary tale of a little workhorse, who, after being born in obscurity, becomes one of the greatest breeding stallions of all time. In this true story Newbery Medal-winning author Marguerite Henry and artist Wesley Dennis celebrate the life of the only horse ever to establish a breed all by himself — the Morgan.” Book Description

    “…a thing of beauty in every respect and a treasured addition to the home library.” Washington Post

    Born to Trot by Marguerite Henry

    Ages 9-12. “Gibson can hear the beat of the horses’ hooves against the track. Trotter are the world to him.

    But all he ever does is practice. He’s still too young and inexperienced to drive in a real race.

    Only he knows he’s ready for the big league. If people would give him a chance, then they would know it, too.

    Gib’s chance comes in a filly named Rosalind. Now Gib can prove that he’s man enough to train a

    champion. But does he really have what it takes? Can he and Rosalind go all the way to win the Hambletonian, the greatest race of all?” Book Description

    “…packed with information as well as vivid accounts of exciting races.” The New York Times

    Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard

    Big Red

    Ages 9-12. “From the moment Danny sees the beautiful Irish setter, he knows Red is the dog for him. Fast and smart, strong and noble, Red is the only dog Danny wants by his side. Soon, neither boy nor dog can stand to be apart. Together Danny and Red face many dangers in the harsh Wintapi wilderness that they call home. But the greatest test of their courage and friendship will come from an enemy more cunning than any they’ve known before–a bear who is the undisputed king of the wilderness, a savage killer called Old Majesty.” Book Description

    Irish Red by Jim Kjelgaard

    Irish Red

    Ages 9-12. ”

    For all his champion Irish setter blood, Mike was a misfit. Danny Pickett and his father tried everything to train him, but it was the pup himself who finally proved that he was a champion.” Book Description

    “A worthy sequel…a rousing story.” —Library Journal

    Outlaw Red by Jim Kjelgaard

    Ages 9-12. “He was Sean, a champion, the biggest, handsomest son of Big Red, the famous Irish setter. Bursting with hunting instincts, he fretted under his pampered kennel life, and longed for the wilds. Then suddenly his life changed. He found himself on his own in the Wintapi wilderness, lost, his human protectors gone. An outlaw, he was hunted and shot at by the hill men. How Sean learned to survive amidst constant danger, how he challenged a coyote killer to save his mate, is a stirring tale of bravery and an exciting wilderness adventure. It is also the heartwarming story of another unwilling outlaw–the boy who loved Sean and wanted him for his own.” Book Description

    Gentle Ben by Walt Morey

    Ages 9-12. “The Alaskan wilderness is a lonely place for Mark Andersen, especially after the death of his brother. But Mark finds a friend named Ben, who happens to be an Alaskan brown bear. Ben and Mark form a special bond, but the townspeople are determined to destroy it. It is only through the strength of an enduring friendship that Ben—and Mark—have a chance of being saved.” Book Description

    The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

    Ages 9-12. “Forced to leave her sunny Caribbean home for the bleak Connecticut Colony, Kit Tyler is filled with trepidation. As they sail up the river to Kit’s new home, the teasing and moodiness of a young sailor named Nat doesn’t help. Still, her unsinkable spirit soon bobs back up. What this spirited teenager doesn’t count on, however, is how her aunt and uncle’s stern Puritan community will view her. In the colonies of 1687, a girl who swims, wears silk and satin gowns, and talks back to her elders is not only headstrong, she is in grave danger of being regarded as a witch. When Kit befriends an old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, it is more than the ascetics can take: soon Kit is defending her life. Who can she count on as she confronts these angry and suspicious townspeople?

    A thoroughly exciting and rewarding Newbery Medal winner and ALA Notable Children’s Book, Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond brings this frightening period of witch hysteria to life. Readers will wonder at the power of the mob mentality, and the need for communities in desperate times–even current times–to find a scapegoat. (Ages 9 and older).” Amazon

    Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare

    Ages 9-12. “In the year 1754, the stillness of Charlestown, New Hampshire, is shattered by the terrifying cries of an Indian raid. Young Miriam Willard, on a day that had promised new happiness, finds herself instead a captive on a forest trail, caught up in the ebb and flow of the French and Indian War. It is a harrowing march north. Miriam can only force herself to the next stopping place, the next small portion of food, the next icy stream to be crossed. At the end of the trail waits a life of hard work and, perhaps, even a life of slavery. Mingled with her thoughts of Phineas Whitney, her sweetheart on his way to Harvard, is the crying of her sister’s baby, Captive, born on the trail. Miriam and her companions finally reach Montreal, a city of shifting loyalties filled with the intrigue of war, and here, by a sudden twist of fortune, Miriam meets the prominent Du Quesne family, who introduce her to a life she has never imagined. Based on an actual narrative diary published in 1807, Calico Captive skillfully reenacts an absorbing facet of history.” Book Description

    “Vital and vivid, this short novel based on the actual captivity of a pre-Revolutionary girl of Charlestown, New Hampshire, presents American history with force and verve.” Kirkus Reviews
    “Superior historical fiction.” Horn Book
    “Convincing historical romance set during the French and Indian War.” Booklist, ALA

    Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

    Ages 9-12. “In all Mildred D. Taylor’s unforgettable novels she recounts “not only the joy of growing up in a large and supportive family, but my own feelings of being faced with segregation and bigotry.” Her Newbery Medal-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry tells the story of one African American family, fighting to stay together and strong in the face of brutal racist attacks, illness, poverty, and betrayal in the Deep South of the 1930s. Nine-year-old Cassie Logan, growing up protected by her loving family, has never had reason to suspect that any white person could consider her inferior or wish her harm. But during the course of one devastating year when her community begins to be ripped apart by angry night riders threatening African Americans, she and her three brothers come to understand why the land they own means so much to their Papa. “Look out there, Cassie girl. All that belongs to you. You ain’t never had to live on nobody’s place but your own and long as I live and the family survives, you’ll never have to. That’s important. You may not understand that now but one day you will. Then you’ll see.”

    Twenty-five years after it was first published, this special anniversary edition of the classic strikes as deep and powerful a note as ever. Taylor’s vivid portrayal of ugly racism and the poignancy of Cassie’s bewilderment and gradual toughening against social injustice and the men and women who perpetuate it, will remain with readers forever. Two award-winning sequels, Let the Circle Be Unbroken and The Road to Memphis, and a long-awaited prequel, The Land, continue the profoundly moving tale of the Logan family. (Ages 9 and older)” Amazon

    The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

    Ages 9-12. “Told in the form of a recollection, these “confessions” cover 13-year-old Charlotte’s eventful 1832 transatlantic crossing. She begins her trip a prim schoolgirl returning home to her American family from England. From the start, there is something wrong with the Seahawk : the families that were to serve as Charlotte’s chaperones do not arrive, and the unsavory crew warns her not to make the trip. When the crew rebels, Charlotte first sides with the civilized Captain Jaggerty, but before long she realizes that he is a sadist and–the only female aboard–she joins the crew as a seaman. Charlotte is charged with murder and sentenced to be hanged before the trip is over, but ends up in command of the Seahawk by the time it reaches its destination. Charlotte’s repressive Puritanical family refuses to believe her tale, and the girl returns to the sea. Charlotte’s story is a gem of nautical adventure, and Avi’s control of tone calls to mind William Golding’s 1980s trilogy of historical novels of the sea. Never wavering from its 19th century setting, the novel offers suspense and entertainment modern-day readers will enjoy. Ages 11-13.” Publishers Weekly

    Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

    Ages 9-12. “Grades 4-8–This beautifully written novel offers valuable insights into the difficulties faced by families and communities caught up in the political, economic, and personal upheavals of war. The events of the Civil War unfold Across Five Aprils (Berkley Pub., 1986) in this moving story by Newbery Award winner, Irene Hunt. It is set in southern Illinois where Jethro Creighton, an intelligent, hardworking boy, is growing into manhood as his brothers and a beloved teacher leave to fight in the Union and Confederate armies. Hunt presents a balanced look at both sides of the conflict, and includes interesting information on lesser-known leaders and battles. Of course, Abraham Lincoln is a frequent topic of conversation, and Jethro even receives a letter from his fellow Illinoian.” School Library Journal

    Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs

    Ages 9-12. “The fascinating life of Louisa May Alcott, from her happy childhood to her successful career as a writer. Children who loved Little Women will enjoy reading about the real-life Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.” Book Description

    The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois

    Ages 9-12. “Professor William Waterman Sherman intends to fly across the Pacific Ocean. But through a twist of fate, he lands on Krakatoa, and discovers a world of unimaginable wealth, eccentric inhabitants, and incredible balloon inventions. Winner of the 1948 Newbery Medal, this classic fantasy-adventure is now available in a handsome new edition.” Book Description

    “William Pene du Bois combines his rich imagination, scientific tastes, and brilliant artistry to tell a story that has no age limit.” The Horn Book

    In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord

    Ages 9-12. “Shirley Temple Wong sails from China to America with a heart full of dreams.Her new home is Brooklyn, New York. America is indeed a land full of wonders, but Shirley doesn’t know any English, so it’s hard to make friends. Then a miracle-baseball-happens. It is 1947, and Jackie Robinson, star of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is everyone’s hero. Jackie Robinson is proving that a black man, the grandson of a slave, can make a difference in America and for Shirley as well, on the ball field and off, America becomes the land of opportunity.” Book Description

    Firework-Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman

    Ages 9-12. “A thousand miles ago, in a country east of the jungle and south of the mountains, there lived a firework-maker called Lalchand and his daughter, Lila.”

    Lila, the heroine of Philip Pullman’s charming fable, was, as a baby, “a cross little thing, always crying and refusing her food, but Lalchand built a cradle for her in the corner of the workshop, where she could see the sparks play and listen to the fizz and crackle of the gunpowder.” Once out of her cradle, she showed a marked talent for pyrotechnics, even inventing her own fireworks with names like Tumbling Demons and Shimmering Coins. Nevertheless, when Lila tells her father she’d like to become a master firework-maker, he’s shocked. Firework-making is no job for a girl, he tells her; besides, with her burned fingers and singed eyebrows, he’s afraid he’ll never be able to find a husband for her.

    If Lalchand is horrified by Lila’s ambitions, his daughter is equally appalled by the prospect of a husband. Instead, she decides to run away to Mount Merapi, where every firework-maker must go to claim some of the royal sulphur from Razvani the Fire-Fiend. Lila’s adventures on the road to Merapi alternate with those of her best friend, Chulak, and his talking white elephant, Hamlet, who set out after her when they learn something that could mean life or death for Lila. Along the way, they meet pirates, wild animals, and supernatural beings of every stripe until, at last, Lila must face the scariest obstacle of all: her own fear. Pullman invests The Firework-Maker’s Daughter with wit, wonder, and more than a few goose bumps. The charm of the prose is reflected in the black and white illustrations by S. Saelig Gallagher that punctuate this slim novel. Though not as sophisticated as Pullman’s remarkable fantasy novels The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife, this engaging story does share a courageous heroine, an exciting adventure, and a singular philosophy that ties everything together in a deeply satisfying denouement. (Ages 9 to 12).” Amazon

    The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

    Ages 9-12. “Nearly a hundred years after its original publication, The Railway Children is still one of E. Nesbit’s most beloved and delightful stories. Roberta, Peter, and Phyllis were very happy living in a comfortable house surrounded by a cook and servants and two loving parents, until one evening when there was a knock at the door and their father was mysteriously taken away by two men. Suddenly alone, their mother moves the family to a small cottage in the countryside. There, the children begin a series of exciting adventures, from saving a train filled with passengers from a landslide, to rescuing a baby from a fire, to aiding a penniless Russian exile, to eventually unraveling the mystery of their father’s disappearance. Featuring a new jacket illustration by Caldecott medalist Paul O. Zelinsky, as well as all nineteen of the original black-and-white line drawings by C. E. Brock, this classic story is perfect for home and classroom libraries.” Book Description

    The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

    The House of the Scorpion

    Ages 12 and up. ”

    Fields of white opium poppies stretch away over the hills, and uniformed workers bend over the rows, harvesting the juice. This is the empire of Matteo Alacran, a feudal drug lord in the country of Opium, which lies between the United States and Aztlan, formerly Mexico. Field work, or any menial tasks, are done by “eejits,” humans in whose brains computer chips have been installed to insure docility. Alacran, or El Patron, has lived 140 years with the help of transplants from a series of clones, a common practice among rich men in this world. The intelligence of clones is usually destroyed at birth, but Matt, the latest of Alacran’s doubles, has been spared because he belongs to El Patron. He grows up in the family’s mansion, alternately caged and despised as an animal and pampered and educated as El Patron’s favorite. Gradually he realizes the fate that is in store for him, and with the help of Tam Lin, his bluff and kind Scottish bodyguard, he escapes to Aztlan. There he and other “lost children” are trapped in a more subtle kind of slavery before Matt can return to Opium to take his rightful place and transform his country.

    Nancy Farmer, a two-time Newbery honoree, surpasses even her marvelous novel, The Ear, The Eye and the Arm in the breathless action and fascinating characters of The House of the Scorpion. Readers will be reminded of Orson Scott Card’s Ender in Matt’s persistence and courage in the face of a world that intends to use him for its own purposes, and of Louis Sachar’s Holes in the camaraderie of imprisoned boys and the layers of meaning embedded in this irresistibly compelling story. (Ages 12 and older).” Amazon

    Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

    Pictures of Hollis Woods

    Ages 9-12. “Giff (Lily s Crossing; All the Way Home) again introduces a carefully delineated and sympathetic heroine in this quiet contemporary novel. Artistically talented Hollis Woods, age 12, has made a habit of running away from foster homes, but she s found a place on Long Island where she wants to stay for a while. She immediately bonds with Josie, her new guardian, who is a slightly eccentric, retired art teacher. Yet Hollis is far from content. She worries about Josie s increasing forgetfulness, and she sorely misses her last foster family, the Regans, whom she left under tense circumstances that are only gradually made clear. Giff intersperses tender scenes demonstrating Hollis s growing affection for Josie with memories of the Regans, whose images Hollis preserves in her sketchbook. Pictures of motherly Izzy Regan, her architect husband and their mischievous yet compassionate son, Steven, sensitively express the young artist s conception of a perfect family. As readers become intimately acquainted with Hollis, they will come to understand her fears, regrets and longings, and will root for her as she pursues her dream of finding a home where she belongs. Ages 8-13.” Publishers Weekly

    The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr

    image

    Ages 9-12. “”I’ve always been fond of birds, poultry in particular.” From that first sentence, readers will gobble up Karr’s (Oh, Those Harper Girls!) hilarious novel of a boy who resolves to walk 1000 turkeys from the Show-Me state to Denver, Colorado. Simon, who’s 15 and newly graduated from the third grade, may not be too bright, but he figures he can make his fortune by buying Mr. Buffey’s bronze turkeys for a quarter apiece and selling them in Denver for $5 each. With his schoolteacher as an investor, Simon picks up a former drunk and a runaway slave to be his partners, and starts herding those turkeys 900 miles down the road. In their travels, they encounter a raging river and a swarm of locusts, each of which the turkeys conquer. But peskiest of all, they’re tailed by Simon’s no-good father, a circus strongman, who decides he wants in on the deal. The gifted Karr has a cheerful, sassy down-home writing style and a perfect pitch for dialogue (she also has an authoritative knowledge of poultry, having grown up on a New Jersey chicken farm). A bonus: the tale is based in truth?there really were turkey drives in the American West. Ages 10-up.” Publishers Weekly

    Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

    Ages 9-12. “When a novel like Huckleberry Finn, or The Yearling, comes along it defies customary adjectives because of the intensity of the respouse it evokes in the reader. Such a book, we submit, is Old Yeller; to read this eloquently simple story of a boy and his dog in the Texas hill country is an unforgettable and deeply moving experience.

    With Old Yeller,Fred Gipsin secured his place as one of the finest novelists in America. The book was published to instant acclaim and has become one of the most beloved children’s classics ever written. Since its publication in 1956, Old Yeller has won countless awards, including the 1957 Newbery Honor. Mr. Gipson’s other works include both fiction and non-fiction. He grew up in the Texas hill country and died in 1973.” Book Description

    Lad: A Dog by Albert Payson Terhune

    Ages 6 and up. “First published in 1919, Albert Payson Terhune’s Lad: A Dog is actually a collection of immensely popular magazine stories. The hero is an extraordinary collie named Lad, “a thoroughbred in spirit as well as in blood.” In each tale, Lad exhibits his pure strength of character as he fights off burglars, rescues an invalid child from a poisonous snake, wins ribbons in dog shows, and otherwise leads a dog-hero’s life. This is a period piece–a threatened puppy is described, for example, as “a blinking pygmy who gallantly essayed to growl defiance”–and that touch of fustian is all part of Terhune’s enduring charm. Because the stories didn’t originally appear together, there’s considerable repetition: nearly every story with a fight scene has the same authorial mini-lecture on the difference in fighting technique between collies and bulldogs. But Lad is a character who has poked his muzzle into a million hearts, and new generations of dog lovers will also appreciate his loyalty and courage. As Terhune himself wrote, “few… bothered to praise the stories, themselves. But all of them praised Lad, which pleased me far better.” (Ages 6 and older).” Amazon

    Lassie Come-Home by Eric Knight

    Ages 9-12. “Lassie is Joe’s prize collie and constant companion. But when Joe’s father loses his job, Lassie must be sold. Three times she escapes from her new owner, and three times she returns home to Joe, until finally she is taken to the remotest part of Scotland-too far a journey for any dog to make alone. But Lassie is not just any dog. First published in 1940, Lassie Come-Home has become one of the best-loved dog stories in the world.” Book Description

    Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

    Ages 9-12. “Author Wilson Rawls spent his boyhood much like the character of this book, Billy Colman, roaming the Ozarks of northeastern Oklahoma with his bluetick hound. A straightforward, shoot-from-the-hip storyteller with a searingly honest voice, Rawls is well-loved for this powerful 1961 classic and the award-winning novel Summer of the Monkeys. In Where the Red Fern Grows, Billy and his precious coonhound pups romp relentlessly through the Ozarks, trying to “tree” the elusive raccoon. In time, the inseparable trio wins the coveted gold cup in the annual coon-hunt contest, captures the wily ghost coon, and bravely fights with a mountain lion. When the victory over the mountain lion turns to tragedy, Billy grieves, but learns the beautiful old Native American legend of the sacred red fern that grows over the graves of his dogs. This unforgettable classic belongs on every child’s bookshelf. (Ages 9 and up).” Amazon

    The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

    Ages 9-12. “Instinct told them that the way home lay to the west. And so the doughty young Labrador retriever, the roguish bull terrier and the indomitable Siamese set out through the Canadian wilderness. Separately, they would soon have died. But, together, the three house pets faced starvation, exposure, and wild forest animals to make their way home to the family they love. The Incredible Journey is one of the great children’s stories of all time–and has been popular ever since its debut in 1961.” Book Description

    Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

    Ages 9-12. “Because of Winn-Dixie, a big, ugly, happy dog, 10-year-old Opal learns 10 things about her long-gone mother from her preacher father. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal makes new friends among the somewhat unusual residents of her new hometown, Naomi, Florida. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal begins to find her place in the world and let go of some of the sadness left by her mother’s abandonment seven years earlier.

    With her newly adopted, goofy pooch at her side, Opal explores her bittersweet world and learns to listen to other people’s lives. This warm and winning book hosts an unforgettable cast of characters, including a librarian who fought off a bear with a copy of War and Peace, an ex-con pet-store clerk who plays sweet music to his animal charges, and the neighborhood “witch,” a nearly blind woman who sees with her heart. Part Frankie (The Member of the Wedding), part Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird), Opal brings her own unique and wonderful voice to a story of friendship, loneliness, and acceptance. Opal’s down-home charm and dead-on honesty will earn her friends and fans far beyond the confines of Naomi, Florida. (Ages 9 and older).” Amazon

    The Borrowers by Mary Norton

    The Borrowers

    Ages 9-12. “Anyone who has ever entertained the notion of “little people” living furtively among us will adore this artfully spun classic. The Borrowers–a Carnegie Medal winner, a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award book, and an ALA Distinguished Book–has stolen the hearts of thousands of readers since its 1953 publication. Mary Norton (1903-1993) creates a make-believe world in which tiny people live hidden from humankind beneath the floorboards of a quiet country house in England.

    Pod, Homily, and daughter Arrietty of the diminutive Clock family outfit their subterranean quarters with the tidbits and trinkets they’ve “borrowed” from “human beans,” employing matchboxes for storage and postage stamps for paintings. Readers will delight in the resourceful way the Borrowers recycle household objects. For example, “Homily had made her a small pair of Turkish bloomers from two glove fingers for ‘knocking about in the mornings.'”

    The persistent pilfering goes undetected until a boy (with a ferret!) comes to live in the country house. Curiosity drives Arrietty to commit the worst mistake a Borrower can make: she allows herself to be seen. This engaging, sometimes hair-raisingly suspenseful adventure is recounted in the kind, eloquent voice of narrator Mrs. May, whose brother might–just might–have seen an actual Borrower in the country house many years ago. (Ages 9 to 12).” Amazon

    Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

    Ages 9-12. “Maniac Magee is a folk story about a boy, a very excitable boy. One that can outrun dogs, hit a home run off the best pitcher in the neighborhood, tie a knot no one can undo. “Kid’s gotta be a maniac,” is what the folks in Two Mills say. It’s also the story of how this boy, Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee, confronts racism in a small town, tries to find a home where there is none and attempts to soothe tensions between rival factions on the tough side of town. Presented as a folk tale, it’s the stuff of storytelling. “The history of a kid,” says Jerry Spinelli, “is one part fact, two parts legend, and three parts snowball.” And for this kid, four parts of fun. Maniac Magee won the 1991 Newbery Medal.” Amazon

    Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

    Ages 9-12. “The evacuation of Jews from Nazi-held Denmark is one of the great untold stories of World War II. On September 29, 1943, word got out in Denmark that Jews were to be detained and then sent to the death camps. Within hours the Danish resistance, population and police arranged a small flotilla to herd 7,000 Jews to Sweden. Lois Lowry fictionalizes a true-story account to bring this courageous tale to life. She brings the experience to life through the eyes of 10-year-old Annemarie Johannesen, whose family harbors her best friend, Ellen Rosen, on the eve of the round-up and helps smuggles Ellen’s family out of the country. Number the Stars won the 1990 Newbery Medal.” Amazon

    Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater

    Ages 6-10. “More than 60 years have not dated this wonderfully absurd tale–it still makes kids (and parents) laugh out loud. Poor Mr. Popper isn’t exactly unhappy; he just wishes he had seen something of the world before meeting Mrs. Popper and settling down. Most of all, he wishes he had seen the Poles, and spends his spare time between house-painting jobs reading all about polar explorations. Admiral Drake, in response to Mr. Popper’s fan letter, sends him a penguin; life at 432 Proudfoot Avenue is never the same again. From one penguin living in the icebox, the Popper family grows to include 12 penguins, all of whom must be fed. Thus is born “Popper’s Performing Penguins, First Time on Any Stage, Direct from the South Pole.” Their adventures while on tour are hilarious, with numerous slapstick moments as the penguins disrupt other acts and invade hotels. Classic chapter-a-night fun. (Ages 5 to 10).” Amazon

    Holes by Louis Sachar

    Ages 9-12. “If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy.” Such is the reigning philosophy at Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention facility where there is no lake, and there are no happy campers. In place of what used to be “the largest lake in Texas” is now a dry, flat, sunburned wasteland, pocked with countless identical holes dug by boys improving their character. Stanley Yelnats, of palindromic name and ill-fated pedigree, has landed at Camp Green Lake because it seemed a better option than jail. No matter that his conviction was all a case of mistaken identity, the Yelnats family has become accustomed to a long history of bad luck, thanks to their “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather!” Despite his innocence, Stanley is quickly enmeshed in the Camp Green Lake routine: rising before dawn to dig a hole five feet deep and five feet in diameter; learning how to get along with the Lord of the Flies-styled pack of boys in Group D; and fearing the warden, who paints her fingernails with rattlesnake venom. But when Stanley realizes that the boys may not just be digging to build character–that in fact the warden is seeking something specific–the plot gets as thick as the irony.

    It’s a strange story, but strangely compelling and lovely too. Louis Sachar uses poker-faced understatement to create a bizarre but believable landscape–a place where Major Major Major Major of Catch-22 would feel right at home. But while there is humor and absurdity here, there is also a deep understanding of friendship and a searing compassion for society’s underdogs. As Stanley unknowingly begins to fulfill his destiny–the dual plots coming together to reveal that fate has big plans in store–we can’t help but cheer for the good guys, and all the Yelnats everywhere. (Ages 10 and older)” Amazon

    The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

    Ages 9-12. “When an eccentric millionaire dies mysteriously, sixteen very unlikely people are gathered together for the reading of the will . . . and what a will it is!” Book Description

    “A supersharp mystery . . . Confoundingly clever, and very funny.” Booklist, starred review

    Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

    Ages 9-12. “As in his Newbery Honor-winning debut, The Watsons Go to BirminghamA1963, Curtis draws on a remarkable and disarming mix of comedy and pathos, this time to describe the travails and adventures of a 10-year-old African-American orphan in Depression-era Michigan. Bud is fed up with the cruel treatment he has received at various foster homes, and after being locked up for the night in a shed with a swarm of angry hornets, he decides to run away. His goal: to reach the man, he on the flimsiest of evidence, believes to be his father, jazz musician Herman E. Calloway. Relying on his own ingenuity and good luck, Bud makes it to Grand Rapids, where his “father” owns a club. Calloway, who is much older and grouchier than Bud imagined, is none too thrilled to meet a boy claiming to be his long-lost son. It is the other members of his band Steady Eddie, Mr. Jimmy, Doug the Thug, Doo-Doo Bug Cross, Dirty Deed Breed and motherly Miss Thomas, who make Bud feel like he has finally arrived home. While the grim conditions of the times and the harshness of Bud’s circumstances are authentically depicted, Curtis shines on them an aura of hope and optimism. And even when he sets up a daunting scenario, he makes readers laugh, for example, mopping floors for the rejecting Calloway, Bud pretends the mop is “that underwater boat in the book Momma read to me, Twenty Thousand Leaks Under the Sea.” Bud’s journey, punctuated by Dickensian twists in plot and enlivened by a host of memorable personalities, will keep readers engrossed from first page to last. Ages 9-12.” Publishers Weekly

    Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

    Ages 9-12. “When 11-year-old Marty Preston chances upon a mistreated beagle pup in his hometown of Friendly, West Virginia, he is not prepared for the ethical questions he has to face. Should he return the dog to its owner, only to have the animal abused again? Should he tell his parents? Should he steal food to help the poor creature? Marty’s efforts to cope with these questions provides the moral backbone for this story, which is presented in a language and manner that will be understood by third- and fourth-grade readers. The heart and beauty of this 1992 Newbery Medal winner lies in lessons children will take away with them. Amazon

    James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

    Ages 9-12. “When James drops magic crystals by the peach tree, the toy peach starts growing, and before long, it’s as big as a house, with a secret entranceway.” Book Description

    The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

    Ages 9-12. “Mistress Mary is quite contrary until she helps her garden grow. Along the way, she manages to cure her sickly cousin Colin, who is every bit as imperious as she. These two are sullen little peas in a pod, closed up in a gloomy old manor on the Yorkshire moors of England, until a locked-up garden captures their imaginations and puts the blush of a wild rose in their cheeks; “It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick, that they matted together…. ‘No wonder it is still,’ Mary whispered. ‘I am the first person who has spoken here for ten years.'” As new life sprouts from the earth, Mary and Colin’s sour natures begin to sweeten. For anyone who has ever felt afraid to live and love, The Secret Garden‘s portrayal of reawakening spirits will thrill and rejuvenate. Frances Hodgson Burnett creates characters so strong and distinct, young readers continue to identify with them even 85 years after they were conceived. (Ages 9 to 12). Amazon

    A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

    Ages 9-12. “Sara Crewe is a gifted and well-mannered child, and Captain Crewe, her father, is an extraordinary wealthy man. So Miss Minchin, headmistress of Sara’s new boarding school in London, is pleased to treat Sara as her star pupil–a pampered little princess.

    But suddenly, one dreadful day, Sara’s world collapses around her. All of her lovely things are taken from her and she is forbidden to associate with her friends. Her father has died penniless in India.

    Miss Minchin can now show her greedy and meanspirited nature to its fullest. The little princess is reduced to a shabby drudge. But Sara does not break, and with the help of a monkey, an Indian lascar, and the strange, ailing gentleman next door, she not only survives her sufferings but help those around her.” Book Description

    Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol

    Ages 9-12. “Leroy Brown, aka Encyclopedia Brown, is Idaville neighborhood’s ten-year-old star detective. With an uncanny knack for trivia, he solves mysteries for the neighborhood kids through his own detective agency. But his dad also happens to be the chief of the Idaville police department, and every night around the dinner table, Encyclopedia helps him solve his most baffling crimes. And with ten confounding mysteries in each book, not only does Encyclopedia have a chance to solve them, but the reader is given all the clues as well. Interactive and chock full of interesting bits of information—it’s classic Encyclopedia Brown!” Book Description

    Animal Farm by George Orwell

    Ages Y/A. “Since its publication in 1946, George Orwell’s fable of a workers’ revolution gone wrong has rivaled Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea as the Shortest Serious Novel It’s OK to Write a Book Report About. (The latter is three pages longer and less fun to read.) Fueled by Orwell’s intense disillusionment with Soviet Communism, Animal Farm is a nearly perfect piece of writing, both an engaging story and an allegory that actually works. When the downtrodden beasts of Manor Farm oust their drunken human master and take over management of the land, all are awash in collectivist zeal. Everyone willingly works overtime, productivity soars, and for one brief, glorious season, every belly is full. The animals’ Seven Commandment credo is painted in big white letters on the barn. All animals are equal. No animal shall drink alcohol, wear clothes, sleep in a bed, or kill a fellow four-footed creature. Those that go upon four legs or wings are friends and the two-legged are, by definition, the enemy. Too soon, however, the pigs, who have styled themselves leaders by virtue of their intelligence, succumb to the temptations of privilege and power. “We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of the farm depend on us. Day and night, we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.” While this swinish brotherhood sells out the revolution, cynically editing the Seven Commandments to excuse their violence and greed, the common animals are once again left hungry and exhausted, no better off than in the days when humans ran the farm. Satire Animal Farm may be, but it’s a stony reader who remains unmoved when the stalwart workhorse, Boxer, having given his all to his comrades, is sold to the glue factory to buy booze for the pigs. Orwell’s view of Communism is bleak indeed, but given the history of the Russian people since 1917, his pessimism has an air of prophecy.” Amazon

    Lord of the Flies by William Golding

    Ages Y/A. “William Golding’s classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, “the boy with fair hair,” and Piggy, Ralph’s chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim, play, or hunt the island’s wild pig population. Soon Ralph’s rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away, until Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have become the hunted: “He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet.” Golding’s gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition.” Amazon

    The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

    Ages Y/A. “Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,

    “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.”

    His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.” Amazon

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    Ages Y/A. ““When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow…. When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.”

    Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus–three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.

    Like the slow-moving occupants of her fictional town, Lee takes her time getting to the heart of her tale; we first meet the Finches the summer before Scout’s first year at school. She, her brother, and Dill Harris, a boy who spends the summers with his aunt in Maycomb, while away the hours reenacting scenes from Dracula and plotting ways to get a peek at the town bogeyman, Boo Radley. At first the circumstances surrounding the alleged rape of Mayella Ewell, the daughter of a drunk and violent white farmer, barely penetrate the children’s consciousness. Then Atticus is called on to defend the accused, Tom Robinson, and soon Scout and Jem find themselves caught up in events beyond their understanding. During the trial, the town exhibits its ugly side, but Lee offers plenty of counterbalance as well–in the struggle of an elderly woman to overcome her morphine habit before she dies; in the heroism of Atticus Finch, standing up for what he knows is right; and finally in Scout’s hard-won understanding that most people are essentially kind “when you really see them.” By turns funny, wise, and heartbreaking, To Kill a Mockingbird is one classic that continues to speak to new generations, and deserves to be reread often.” Amazon

    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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    Ages Y/A. “Novella by John Steinbeck, published in 1937. The tragic story, given poignancy by its objective narrative, is about the complex bond between two migrant laborers. The book, which was adapted by Steinbeck into a three-act play (produced 1937), earned him national renown. The plot centers on George Milton and Lennie Small, itinerant ranch hands who dream of one day owning a small farm. George acts as a father figure to Lennie, who is large and simpleminded, calming him and helping to rein in his immense physical strength. When Lennie accidentally kills the ranch owner’s flirtatious daughter-in-law, George shoots his friend rather than allow him to be captured by a vengeful lynch mob.” Merriam Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

    The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

    Ages 12 and up. “According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser. This classic, written by S. E. Hinton when she was 16 years old, is as profound today as it was when it was first published in 1967.” Amazon

    The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

    Ages Y/A. “The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway’s most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal — a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss. Written in 1952, this hugely successful novella confirmed his power and presence in the literary world and played a large part in his winning the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.” Book Description

    Stuart Little by E. B. White

    Ages 9-12. “How terribly surprised the Little family must have been when their second child turned out to be a small mouse. Apparently familiar with the axiom that “when in New York City, anything can happen,” the Littles accept young Stuart into their family unquestioningly–with the exception of Snowbell the cat who is unable to overcome his instinctive dislike for the little mouse. They build him a bed from a matchbox, and supply him with all of the accoutrements a young mouse could need. Mrs. Little even fashions him a suit, because baby clothes would obviously be unsuitable for such a sophisticated mouse. In return, Stuart helps his tall family with errant Ping-Pong balls that roll outside of their reach.

    E. B. White takes Stuart on a hero’s quest across the American countryside, introducing the mouse–and the reader–to a myriad of delightful characters. Little finds himself embroiled in one adventure after another from the excitement of racing sailboats to the unseen horrors of substitute teaching. This is a story of leaving home for the first time, of growing up, and ultimately of discovering oneself. At times, doesn’t everyone feel like the sole mouse in a family–and a world–of extremely tall people? (Ages 9 to 12).” Amazon

    The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker by Cynthia DeFelice

    The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker

    Ages 9-12. “Gr. 5-8. Lucas’ entire family has died, one by one, of tuberculosis, known as consumption in the mid-1800s. Wandering through the Connecticut countryside in grief, Lucas ends up becoming the new apprentice to Dr. Uriah M. Beecher, also the local dentist, apothecary, barber, and undertaker. Lucas’ new community is being decimated by consumption, and the local people want to try a technique rumored to work: digging up the remains of the first family member to die, removing and burning the heart, and breathing in the smoke. Dr. Beecher is certain this is useless at best, but Lucas feels sure it is worth a try. DeFelice skillfully gives readers enough historical information to see the reasoning behind the macabre practice and creates in Lucas a flesh and blood boy going through a most difficult time. Hand this title to students who have been assigned historical fiction and consider olden times to be boring.” Booklist

    The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman

    Ages 9-12. “When California Morning Whipple’s widowed mother uproots her family from their comfortable Massachusetts environs and moves them to a rough mining camp called Lucky Diggins in the Sierras, California Morning resents the upheaval. Desperately wanting to control something in her own life, she decides to be called Lucy, and as Lucy she grows and changes in her strange and challenging new environment. Here Karen Cushman helps the American Gold Rush spring to colorful life, just as she did for medieval England in her previous two books, Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife’s Apprentice, which won Newbery Honor status and a Newbery Medal respectively. For ages 8-12.” Amazon

    The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop

    Ages 9-12. “Grade 4-6 A satisfying quest fantasy with a strong element of modern realism which will appeal to a wide range of readers. Ten-year-old William is so distraught at the idea of his beloved housekeeper/nanny Mrs. Phillips returning to England that, with the aid of a magic token, he shrinks her into the size of the toy knight which inhabits a wooden castle that has been passed down in her family for generations. To undo his rash deed, William must be miniaturized himself and accompany the silver knight, Sir Simon, on a quest to overthrow Alastor, a wicked magician who long ago usurped the throne of what should have been Sir Simon’s kingdom. William’s pure and gentle heart enables him to triumph over both the magician and his own childish yearning to possess Mrs. Phillips. The plot is carefully constructed. William’s real-life situation is a strong component of the story rather than a device whereby he can enter the fantasy world. His too-busy parents and his struggle to be mature enough to let Mrs. Phillips go are juxtaposed with his quest and struggle to defeat Alastor. Both William and Mrs. Phillips are sympathetic, well-developed characters. In contrast, William’s pediatrician mother and architect father are sketchy, both in William’s emotional life and in the author’s realization of them. Adults may find the theme that a pure heart can triumph over evil is a bit overstated, and fantasy buffs may desire a more fully developed fantasy world, but for young readers new to fantasy this will be successful.” School Library Journal

    Crispin : The Cross of Lead by Avi

    Ages 9-12. “Set in 14th-century England, Avi’s (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle) 50th book begins with a funeral, that of a village outcast whose past is shrouded in mystery and whose adolescent son is known only as “Asta’s son.” Mired in grief for his mother, the boy learns his given name, Crispin, from the village priest, although his presumably dead father’s identity remains obscure. The words etched on his mother’s treasured lead cross may provide some clue, but the priest is murdered before he can tell the illiterate lad what they say. Worse, Crispin is fingered for the murder by the manor steward, who declares him a “wolf’s head” wanted dead or alive, preferably dead. Crispin flees, and falls in with a traveling juggler. “I have no name,” Crispin tells Bear, whose rough manners and appearance mask a tender heart. “No home, no kin, no place in this world.” How the boy learns his true identity (he’s the bastard son of the lord of the manor) and finds his place in the world makes for a rattling fine yarn. Avi’s plot is engineered for maximum thrills, with twists, turns and treachery aplenty, but it’s the compellingly drawn relationship between Crispin and Bear that provides the heart of this story. A page turner to delight Avi’s fans, it will leave readers hoping for a sequel. Ages 8-12.” Publishers Weekly

    A Long Way From Chicago

    Ages 9-12. “Newberry Award winner! National Book Award Finalist! A novel in stories. Joey remembers the days of childhood when he and his sister, Mary Alice, visited their grandmother.” Book Description

    A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

    Ages 9-12. “Grandma Dowdel’s back! She’s just as feisty and terrifying and goodhearted as she was in Richard Peck’s A Long Way from Chicago, and every bit as funny. In the first book, a Newberry Honor winner, Grandma’s rampages were seen through the eyes of her grandson Joey, who, with his sister, Mary Alice, was sent down from Chicago for a week every summer to visit. But now it’s 1937 and Joey has gone off to work for the Civilian Conservation Corps, while 15-year-old Mary Alice has to go stay with Grandma alone–for a whole year, maybe longer. From the very first moment when she arrives at the depot clutching her Philco portable radio and her cat, Bootsie, Mary Alice knows it won’t be easy. And it’s not. She has to sleep alone in the attic, attend a hick town school where in spite of her worn-out coat she’s “the rich girl from Chicago,” and be an accomplice in Grandma’s outrageous schemes to run the town her own way–and do good while nobody’s looking. But being Grandma’s sidekick is always interesting, and by the end of the year, Mary Alice has grown to see the formidable love in the heart of her formidable Grandma.

    Peck is at his best with these hilarious stories that rest solidly within the American literary tradition of Mark Twain and Bret Harte. Teachers will cherish them as great read-alouds, and older teens will gain historical perspective from this lively picture of the depression years in small-town America. (Ages 12 and older).” Amazon

    Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

    Ages 14 and up. “Grade 8-12 Brian Robeson, 13, is the only passenger on a small plane flying him to visit his father in the Canadian wilderness when the pilot has a heart attack and dies. The plane drifts off course and finally crashes into a small lake. Miraculously Brian is able to swim free of the plane, arriving on a sandy tree-lined shore with only his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present. The novel chronicles in gritty detail Brian’s mistakes, setbacks, and small triumphs as, with the help of the hatchet, he manages to survive the 54 days alone in the wilderness. Paulsen effectively shows readers how Brian learns patienceto watch, listen, and think before he actsas he attempts to build a fire, to fish and hunt, and to make his home under a rock overhang safe and comfortable. An epilogue discussing the lasting effects of Brian’s stay in the wilderness and his dim chance of survival had winter come upon him before rescue adds credibility to the story. Paulsen tells a fine adventure story, but the sub-plot concerning Brian’s preoccupation with his parents’ divorce seems a bit forced and detracts from the book. As he did in Dogsong (Bradbury, 1985), Paulsen emphasizes character growth through a careful balancing of specific details of survival with the protagonist’s thoughts and emotions.” School Library Journal

    “This Newbery Honor book is a dramatic, heart-stopping story of a boy who, following a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness, must learn to survive with only a hatchet and his own wits. Ages 12-up.” Publishers Weekly

    The River by Gary Paulsen

    Ages 10 and up. “In a boxed review, PW praised the “terse, heart-stopping prose” of this follow-up to Hatchet : “The new adventure is as riveting as its predecessor . . . the psychological terrain of the sequel is fresh and distinct.” Ages 10-14. Publishers Weekly

    This sequel to Gary Paulsen’s award-winning Hatchet, finds fifteen-year-old Brian returning to the Canadian wilderness where he had been stranded alone after a plane crash two years earlier. The story is self-contained, not dependent on its predecessor. AudioFile

    Soldier’s Heart : Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers by Gary Paulsen

    Ages 12 andup. “In spare, almost biblical prose, Gary Paulsen writes of the horrors of combat in a Civil War novella that puts a powerful, more contemporary spin on Stephen Crane’s classic The Red Badge of Courage. Based on the life of a real boy, it tells the story of Charley Goddard, who lies his way into the Union Army at the age of 15. Charley has never been anyplace beyond Winona, Minnesota, and thinks war would be a great adventure. And it is–at first–as his regiment marches off through cheering crowds and pretty, flag-waving girls. But then comes the battle. Charley screams, “Make it stop now!” disbelieving that anything so horrible could be real. Paulsen is unsparing in the details of what actually happens on the battlefield: the living men suddenly blown into pieces, the agony and fear, the noise and terror, the stinking corpses. After many battles, Charley is wounded and sent home an old man before he is 20, his will to live destroyed by combat fatigue–leaving him with a “soldier’s heart.” Paulsen has received the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the ALAN Award, and several Newbery Honor awards for previous work, but this superb, small masterpiece transcends any of his earlier titles in its remarkable, memorable intensity and power. (Ages 12 to 15).” Amazon

    Although many of these books have been made into movies, I purposefully left those off for now – I will do a matching list later. But I wanted to focus on the books, and encourage kids to read, rather than just watch the movie version. Enjoy! Part III and At the Movies for Classic Kids coming soon…

    The Ultimate Sci-Fi DVD Boxed Set collection, part I

    This is of course, my own idea on what is the ‘ultimate collection,” but I think I’ve covered most of the best here. This is a dream list – there are less expensive sets, and or copies of some of these movies and TV series, but this IS the ultimate collection! Much of it is TV, although there is a nice smattering of movies collected together or as add-ons to series. Since I already covered most of the regular movies in my Sci-Fi Movie Night posts, I will refrain from repeating those, unless they “add” to a collection, or are very special editions – Like the Blade Runner one – of course, Mark Harris said it best in his Future Schlock article on whether Sci-Fi is dead (EW – 1/11/08) – “Personally I’m holding out for a Super Platinum Deluxe Psychotic Edition, which will arrive in a crate containing 47 discs and Ridley Scott himself, who will hang out with you and then rewire your home sound system.” Sometimes, it seems all to true, as the editions get bigger and glossier, and contain more and more bonus material and different versions, etc. One of them listed in this three part piece contains, I believe, 5 editions of the same movie! Unless noted, all comments are from Amazon, and thus I will not use Quote marks, or attribute each piece to them. I have added a few comments of my own below, but this is about the DVDs, not my opinions! Some of these I hadn’t heard of, others I have watched all my life, over and over.

    So sit back, get your Visa ready, and dream…

    Alien Quadrilogy (Alien/ Aliens /Alien 3 /Alien Resurrection)

    Alien Quadrilogy (Alien/ Aliens /Alien 3 /Alien Resurrection)

    Product Details

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com essential video
    “The Alien Quadrilogy is a nine-disc boxed set devoted to the four Alien films. Although previously available on DVD as the Alien Legacy, here they have been repackaged with vastly more extras and with upgraded sound and picture. For anyone who hasn’t been in hypersleep for the last 25 years, this series needs no introduction, though for the first time each film now comes in both original and “special edition” form.

    Alien (1979) was so perfect it didn’t need fixing, and Ridley Scott’s 2003 director’s cut is fiddling for the sake of fiddling. Watch it once, then return to the majestic, perfectly paced original. Conversely, the special edition of James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) is the definitive version, though it’s nice to finally have the theatrical cut on DVD for comparison. Most interesting is the alternative Alien 3 (1992). This isn’t a “director’s cut”–David Fincher refused to have any involvement with this release–but a 1991 work-print that runs 29 minutes longer than the theatrical version, and has now been restored, remastered, and finished off with (unfortunately) cheap new CGI. Still, it’s truly fascinating, offering a different insight into a flawed masterpiece. The expanded opening is visually breathtaking, the central firestorm is much longer, and a subplot involving Paul McGann’s character adds considerable depth to story. The ending is also subtly but significantly different. Alien: Resurrection (1997) always was a mess with a handful of brilliant scenes, and the special edition just makes it eight minutes longer.

    The Alien Quadrilogy offers the first and fourth films with DTS soundtracks, the others having still fine Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation. All four films sound fantastic, with much low-level detail revealed for the first time. Each is anamorphically enhanced at the correct original aspect ratio, and the prints and transfers are superlative. Every film offers a commentary track that lends insight into the creative process–though the Scott-only commentary and isolated music score from the first Alien DVD release are missing here.

    Each movie is complemented by a separate disc packed with hours of seriously detailed documentaries (all presented in full-screen with clips letterboxed), thousands of photos, production stills, and storyboards, giving a level of inside information for the dedicated buff only surpassed by the Lord of the Rings extended DVD sets. A ninth DVD compiles miscellaneous material, including an hourlong documentary and even all the extras from the old Alien laserdisc. “Exhaustive” hardly beings to describe the Alien Quadrilogy, a set that establishes the new DVD benchmark for retrospective releases and looks unlikely to be surpassed for some time.”

    Blade Runner (Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition)

    Blade Runner (Five-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition)

    Product Details

    • Actors: Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Rutger Hauer
    • Directors: Ridley Scott
    • Format: Subtitled, NTSC
    • Language: English, French
    • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Number of discs: 5
    • Rating:
    • Studio: Warner Bros.
    • DVD Release Date: December 18, 2007
    • Run Time: 578 minutes

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com essential video
    When Ridley Scott’s cut of Blade Runner was finally released in 1993, one had to wonder why the studio hadn’t done it right the first time–11 years earlier. This version is so much better, mostly because of what’s been eliminated (the ludicrous and redundant voice-over narration and the phony happy ending) rather than what’s been added (a bit more character development and a brief unicorn dream). Star Harrison Ford originally recorded the narration under duress at the insistence of Warner Bros. executives who thought the story needed further “explanation”; he later confessed that he thought if he did it badly they wouldn’t use it. (Moral: Never overestimate the taste of movie executives.) The movie’s spectacular futuristic vision of Los Angeles–a perpetually dark and rainy metropolis that’s the nightmare antithesis of “Sunny Southern California”–is still its most seductive feature, an otherworldly atmosphere in which you can immerse yourself. The movie’s shadowy visual style, along with its classic private-detective/murder-mystery plot line (with Ford on the trail of a murderous android, or “replicant”), makes Blade Runner one of the few science fiction pictures to legitimately claim a place in the film noir tradition. And, as in the best noir, the sleuth discovers a whole lot more (about himself and the people he encounters) than he anticipates…. With Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah, Rutger Hauer, and M. Emmet Walsh. –Jim Emerson

    Product Description
    “Visually spectacular, intensely action-packed and powerfully prophetic since its debut, Blade Runner returns in Ridley Scott’s definitive Final Cut, including extended scenes and never-before-seen special effects. In a signature role as 21st-century detective Rick Deckard, Harrison Ford brings his masculine-yet-vulnerable presence to this stylish noir thriller. In a future of high-tech possibility soured by urban and social decay, Deckard hunts for fugitive, murderous replicants – and is drawn to a mystery woman whose secrets may undermine his soul. This spectacular 5-Disc Set includes all five version of the legendary Sci-Fi film from Director Ridley Scott – the definitive Final Cut with all new 5.1 audio, three additional versions of the film, and the rare Work Print version – in addition to the in-depth feature length documentary “Dangerous Days”, and one complete disc of bonus content including over 80-minutes of never-before-seen deleted scenes. The Ultimate Collector’s Edition is packaged in a limited edition, numbered “Deckard” briefcase and features rare and collectable memorabilia such as a Spinner car replica, Unicorn figurine, Illustration and Photo cards, and a lenticular Motion Film Clip in lucite. This is the ultimate collection that no fan should be without! Also available in HD-DVD and Blu-Ray Disc.”

    The Lord of the Rings - The Motion Picture Trilogy (Platinum Series Special Extended Edition)

    The Lord of the Rings – The Motion Picture Trilogy (Platinum Series Special Extended Edition)

    Product Details

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    “The extended editions of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings present the greatest trilogy in film history in the most ambitious sets in DVD history. In bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s nearly unfilmable work to the screen, Jackson benefited from extraordinary special effects, evocative New Zealand locales, and an exceptionally well-chosen cast, but most of all from his own adaptation with co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, preserving Tolkien’s vision and often his very words, but also making logical changes to accommodate the medium of film. While purists complained about these changes and about characters and scenes left out of the films, the almost two additional hours of material in the extended editions (about 11 hours total) help appease them by delving more deeply into Tolkien’s music, the characters, and loose ends that enrich the story, such as an explanation of the Faramir-Denethor relationship, and the appearance of the Mouth of Sauron at the gates of Mordor. In addition, the extended editions offer more bridge material between the films, further confirming that the trilogy is really one long film presented in three pieces (which is why it’s the greatest trilogy ever–there’s no weak link). The scene of Galadriel’s gifts to the Fellowship added to the first film proves significant over the course of the story, while the new Faramir scene at the end of the second film helps set up the third and the new Saruman scene at the beginning of the third film helps conclude the plot of the second.

    To top it all off, the extended editions offer four discs per film: two for the longer movie, plus four commentary tracks and stupendous DTS 6.1 ES sound; and two for the bonus material, which covers just about everything from script creation to special effects. The argument was that fans would need both versions because the bonus material is completely different, but the features on the theatrical releases are so vastly inferior that the only reason a fan would need them would be if they wanted to watch the shorter versions they saw in theaters (the last of which, The Return of the King, merely won 11 Oscars). The LOTR extended editions without exception have set the DVD standard by providing a richer film experience that pulls the three films together and further embraces Tolkien’s world, a reference-quality home theater experience, and generous, intelligent, and engrossing bonus features.”

    Product Description
    “This critically acclaimed epic trilogy follows the quest undertaken by the hobbit, Frodo Baggins, and his fellowship of companions to save Middle-earth by destroying the One Ring and defeating the evil forces of the Dark Lord Sauron. With new and extended scenes carefully added back into the film, the 12-disc set also includes hours of bonus features. ”

    The Complete Definitive Collection

    Twilight Zone: The Complete Definitive Collection

    Product Details

    • Actors: Twilight Zone
    • Format: NTSC, Subtitled
    • Language: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 28
    • Rating:
    • Studio: Image Entertainment
    • DVD Release Date: October 3, 2006
    • Run Time: 4524 minutes

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com [from Season One]
    Submitted for your approval: The Twilight Zone‘s inaugural season, all 36 episodes complete with Rod Serling’s original promos for the following week’s episode, not seen since their original broadcast. To discuss television’s greatest anthology series whose title has become pop culture shorthand for the bizarre and supernatural is to immediately become like Albert Brooks and Dan Aykroyd in Twilight Zone: The Movie; a can-you-top-this recall of famous shocks and favorite twists. Several essential episodes hail from this season, among them, “Time Enough at Last” starring Burgess Meredith as a bespectacled bookworm who is the lone survivor of an atomic blast; “The After-Hours” starring Anne Francis as a department store shopper haunted by mannequins; and the profoundly disturbing “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” in which fear and prejudice turns neighbor against neighbor (and, by the by, whose alien observers inspired Kang and Kodos on The Simpsons).

    From an unsettlingly persistent hitchhiker to a malevolent slot machine, The Twilight Zone‘s first season did plumb “the pit of man’s fears.” One forgets how moving the series could be. Three of this season’s most memorable and enduring episodes are the poignant and primal “stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off fantasies, “Walking Distance,” “A Stop at Willougby” and “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” in which desperate characters seek refuge in a simpler past. Serling’s few stabs at comedy (“Mr. Bevis,” “The Mighty Casey”) have not aged well, but the series finale, “A World of His Own,” starring Keenan Wynn as a playwright whose fictional characters come to life, has a brilliant capper. The episodes are more deliberately paced than one might remember. Less patient younger viewers might be anxious to get to the payoffs, but once they settle into the rhythm, they will savor the literate writing and the performances by such veteran actors as Ed Wynn, Everett Sloan, and Ida Lupino, and newcomers such as Jack Klugman. The extras, including the unaired version of the pilot episode, “Where is Everybody?”, audio commentaries and recollections, and a Serling college lecture, truly take this six-disc set to another dimension. –Donald Liebenson

    Product Description
    For the first time ever find all 156 complete episodes of Rod Serling’s groundbreaking series in one box set packed with exciting extras! Travel to another dimension of sight and sound again and again through these stellar remastered high-definition film transfers.Extras include the fascinating Serling bio-documentary Submitted for Your Approval compelling interviews with the show’s writers the series’ unaired pilot audio commentaries with Martin Landau Leonard Nimoy Cliff Robertson and much much more!

    Twilight Zone - The Movie

    Twilight Zone – The Movie

    Product Details

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    A highly anticipated release for fantasy fans in the summer of 1983, Twilight Zone: The Movie presents three adaptations of classic episodes (and one original story) from Rod Serling’s anthology series by a quartet of the biggest directors in Hollywood. With Stephen Spielberg (also the film’s co-producer), John Landis, George Miller (The Road Warrior, Happy Feet), and Joe Dante behind the camera for this portmanteau feature, one might expect Serling’s episodes to positively gleam with star power, but the truth is that Twilight Zone: The Movie is a hit-and-miss affair. Landis opens with an amusing nod to the original series’ pop-culture appeal with Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks riffing on their favorite episodes before a hair-raising shock finale; unfortunately, his second offering is a bland morality plan about racial tolerance that will forever be overshadowed by the accident that claimed the lives of star Vic Morrow and two child actors during shooting. Spielberg’s take on George Clayton Johnson’s “Kick the Can” looks lovely and is well performed by its cast (especially Scatman Crothers), but it struggles to bear up under the weight of treacley sentiment so common to the director’s films at the time. Dante’s version of Jerome Bixby’s “It’s A Good Life” (about a boy with monstrous powers) is rife with his trademark energy and black humor (and his cast of regular players, including Kevin McCarthy and William Schallert, strike the right balance of terror and comedy). But it’s Miller’s revamp of Richard Matheson’s legendary “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” that delivers the biggest payoff, thanks to John Lithgow’s super-charged turn as a nervous airline passenger who’s convinced he’s seen a monster tampering with the plane’s wing. Burgess Meredith (himself a veteran of the original TZ) provides narration; the widescreen DVD features no extras save for the original trailer and a remastered digital transfer. –Paul Gaita
    Product Description
    Four short horrorific tales are anthologized in this film as a tributeto rod serling and his popular tv series.

    Planet of the Apes - The Legacy Collection (Planet of the Apes [1968] / Beneath the / Escape from the / Conquest of the / Battle for the)

    Planet of the Apes – The Legacy Collection (Planet of the Apes [1968] / Beneath the / Escape from the / Conquest of the / Battle for the)

    Product Details

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com essential video [From the original movie]
    Many early science fiction films are now, quite inadvertently (and in most cases undeservedly), objects of camp attention: we laugh at the silly makeup, tin-can special effects, and the naive “high-tech” dialogue. Planet of the Apes is no such film. Its intelligent script, frightening costuming, and savagely effective conclusion (which needs no big-budget special effects to augment its impact) remain both potent and relevant. When Colonel George Taylor (the fabulous Charlton Heston) crash lands his spacecraft on what seems to be an unfamiliar planet, he is captured and held prisoner by a dominant race of hyperrational, articulate apes. However, the ape community is riven with internal dissention, centered in no small part on its policy toward humans, who, on this planet, are treated as mindless animals. Befriended and ultimately assisted by the more liberal simians, Taylor escapes–only to find a more terrifying obstacle confronting his return home. Heavy-handed object lessons abound–the ubiquity of generational warfare, the inflexibility of dogma, the cruelty of prejudice–and the didactic fingerprints of Rod Serling are very much in evidence here. But director Franklin Schaffner has a dark, pop-apocalyptic sci-fi vision all his own, and time has not dulled the monumental emotional impact of the film’s climactic payoff shot. If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, you owe it to yourself to check out this stone classic, and even if you do, see it with fresh eyes; and don’t be surprised if you get the chills all over again… and again… and again. –Miles Bethany

    Product Description
    Disk 1: *Planet of the Apes (’68)

    Disk 2: *Escape from the Planet of the Apes

    Disk 3: *Conquest for the Planet of the Apes

    Disk 4: *Battle for the Planet of the Apes

    Disk 5: *Beneath the Planet of the Apes

    Disk 6: *Behind the Planet of the Apes (bonus disc) *Documentary ”Behind the Planet of the Apes” *Planet of the Apes trailer *Beneath the Planet of the Apes trailer *Escape from the Planet of the Apes trailer *Conquest of the Planet of the Apes trailer *Battle for the Planet of the Apes trailer *Planet of the Apes Cross Promotion trailer *TV Spot for Behind the Planet of the Apes *Fox Interactive Presents: Behind the Scenes of the Planet of the Apes game

    Planet of the Apes (Special Edition)

    Planet of the Apes (Special Edition)

    Product Details

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    Billed as a “reimagining” of the original 1968 film, Tim Burton’s extraordinary Planet of the Apes constantly borders on greatness, adhering to the spirit of Pierre Boulle’s original novel while exploring fresh and inventive ideas and paying honorable tribute to the ’68 sci-fi classic. Burton’s gifts for eccentric inspiration and visual ingenuity make this a movie that’s as entertaining as it is provocative, beginning with Rick Baker’s best-ever ape makeup (hand that man an Oscar®!), and continuing through the surprisingly nuanced performances and breathtaking production design. Add to all this an intelligent screenplay that turns Boulle’s speculative reversal–the dominance of apes over humans–into a provocative study of civil rights and civil war. The film finally goes too far with a woefully misguided ending that pays weak homage to the original, but everything preceding that misfire is astonishingly right.

    While attempting the space-pod retrieval of a chimpanzee test pilot, Major Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) enters a magnetic storm that propels him into the distant future, where he crash-lands on the ape-ruled planet. Among the primitively civilized apes, treatment of enslaved humans is a divisive issue: senator’s daughter Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) advocates equality while the ruthless General Thade (Tim Roth) promotes extermination. While Davidson ignites a human rebellion, this conflict is explored with admirable depth and emotion, and sharp dialogue allows Burton’s exceptional cast to bring remarkable expressiveness to their embattled ape characters, most notably in the comic relief of orangutan slave trader Limbo (played to perfection by Paul Giamatti). Classic lines from the original film are cleverly reversed (including an unbilled cameo for Charlton Heston, in ape regalia as Thade’s dying father), and while this tale of interspecies warfare leads to an ironic conclusion that’s not altogether satisfying, it still bears the ripe fruit of a timeless what-if idea. –Jeff Shannon
    Product Description
    After a spectacular crash-landing on an uncharted planet, brash astronaut Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) finds himself trapped in a savage world where talking apes dominate the human race. Desperate to find a way home, Leo must evade the invincible gorilla army led by ruthless General Thade (Tim Roth) and his most trusted warrior, Attar (Michael Clarke Duncan). Now the pulse-pounding race is on to reach a sacred temple that may hold the shocking secrets of mankind’s past – and the last hope for it’s salvation!

    The Complete TV Series

    Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series

    Product Details

    • Actors: Planet of the Apes-TV Series
    • Format: Color, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Subtitles: Spanish
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 4
    • Rating:
    • Studio: 20th Century Fox
    • DVD Release Date: October 3, 2006
    • Run Time: 696 minutes

    Editorial Reviews

    Product Description
    After their spacecraft travels through a time warp, two astronauts (Ron Harper, James Naughton) from 1981 crash-land back on Earth in the year 3085 – a time when intelligent apes rule and humans have been reduced to servants or pets. Captured by the apes and sentenced to death, they are saved by a curious chimpanzee name Galen (Roddy McDowall). But now all three are on the run, trying to keep one step ahead of the gorilla army led by General Urko (Mark Lenard), who is determined to kill the renegades.

    OR if that isn’t enough:

    Planet of the Apes - The Ultimate DVD Collection

    Planet of the Apes – The Ultimate DVD Collection

    Product Details

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    While provoking neither the decades of spin-offs of the Star Trek franchise or the cultural staying power of the Star Wars universe, Planet of the Apes nonetheless lives in the hearts of many a Sunday afternoon TV-watcher. A high water mark for prosthetic movie magic, this primate-vs-man epic–spanning four movies, a TV series, and an animated series–was as integral to the 1970s as Led Zeppelin or muscle cars. So how to properly pay tribute to a science fiction franchise about intelligent apes roaming a post-apocalyptic earth?

    In a freaking ape head boxed set, man.

    It’s true. 20th Century Fox packaged the entire run–movies, TV series, animated series, and the 2001 Tim Burton remake–in Caesar’s head. Actually, the 14 discs are efficiently packaged in a fold-out book that slides into the bust’s back. The bust is smartly dressed in green canvas, with zippers that don’t actually lead to pockets. The hair is a luxurious mane that could have been wasted on at least three toupes. Put this masterpiece of DVD packaging on a shelf and watch it catch the gaze of everyone who walks into the room. Unfortunately, the set does not come with any supplemental reading material; an essay or two on the impact of Planet of the Apes would have been nice. The set is limited to 10,000 copies and comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity. For those who don’t want to commit to the full ape head experience, most of the discs in this set–sans the animated series, TV show, and Tim Burton remake–can be had in the Planet of the Apes Legacy Boxset –Ryan Boudinot

    Back to the Future - The Complete Trilogy (Widescreen Edition)

    Back to the Future – The Complete Trilogy (Widescreen Edition)

    Product Details

    Amazon.com essential video
    Filmmaker Robert Zemeckis topped his breakaway hit Romancing the Stone with Back to the Future, a joyous comedy with a dazzling hook: what would it be like to meet your parents in their youth? Billed as a special-effects comedy, the imaginative film (the top box-office smash of 1985) has staying power because of the heart behind Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s script. High schooler Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox, during the height of his TV success) is catapulted back to the ’50s where he sees his parents in their teens, and accidentally changes the history of how Mom and Dad met. Filled with the humorous ideology of the ’50s, filtered through the knowledge of the ’80s (actor Ronald Reagan is president, ha!), the film comes off as a Twilight Zone episode written by Preston Sturges. Filled with memorable effects and two wonderfully off-key, perfectly cast performances: Christopher Lloyd as the crazy scientist who builds the time machine (a DeLorean luxury car) and Crispin Glover as Marty’s geeky dad. –Doug Thomas

    Critics and audiences didn’t seem too happy with Back to the Future, Part II, the inventive, perhaps too clever sequel. Director Zemeckis and cast bent over backwards to add layers of time-travel complication, and while it surely exercises the brain it isn’t necessarily funny in the same way that its predecessor was. It’s well worth a visit, though, just to appreciate the imagination that went into it, particularly in a finale that has Marty watching his own actions from the first film. –Tom Keogh

    Shot back-to-back with the second chapter in the trilogy, Back to the Future, Part III is less hectic than that film and has the same sweet spirit of the first, albeit in a whole new setting. This time, Marty ends up in the Old West of 1885, trying to prevent the death of mad scientist Christopher Lloyd at the hands of gunman Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson, who had a recurring role as the bully Biff). Director Zemeckis successfully blends exciting special effects with the traditions of a Western and comes up with something original and fun. –Tom Keogh
    Product Description
    Experience theiComplete Trilogy!
    Presented by Steven Spielberg, directed by Oscar® winner Robert Zemeckis and starring time travelers Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, the phenomenally popular Back To The Future films literally changed the future of the adventure movie genre. Now, this unprecedented Back To The Future DVD Trilogy immerses you in all the breathtaking action, outrageous comedy and sheer moviemaking magic of one of the most brilliantly inventive, wildly entertaining motion picture triumphs in Hollywood history!

    Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Collector's Set (40 discs)

    Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Collector’s Set (40 discs)

    Product Details

    Amazon.com
    From its charming and angst-ridden first season to the darker, apocalyptic final one, Buffy the Vampire Slayer succeeds on many levels, and in a fresher and more authentic way than the shows that came before or after it. How lucky, then, that with the release of its boxed set of seasons 1-7, you can have the estimable pleasure of watching a near-decade of Buffy in any order you choose. (And we have some ideas about how that should be done.)

    First: rest assured that there’s no shame in coming to Buffy late, even if you initially turned your nose up at the winsome Sarah Michelle Gellar kicking the hell out of vampires (in Buffy-lingo, vamps), demons, and other evil-doers. Perhaps you did so because, well, it looked sort of science-fiction-like with all that monster latex. Start with season 3 and see that Buffy offers something for everyone, and the sooner you succumb to it, the quicker you’ll appreciate how textured and riveting a drama it is.

    Why season 3? Because it offers you a winning cast of characters who have fallen from innocence: their hearts have been broken, their egos trampled in typically vicious high-school style, and as a result, they’ve begun to realize how fallible they are. As much as they try, there are always more monsters, or a bigger evil. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the core crew remains something of a unit–there’s the smart girl, Willow (Alyson Hannigan) who dreams of saving the day by downloading the plans to City Hall’s sewer tunnels and mapping a route to safety. There are the ne’r do wells–the vampire Spike (James Marsters), who both clashes with and aspires to love Buffy; the tortured and torturing Angel (David Boreanz); the pretty, popular girl with an empty heart (Charisma Carpenter); and the teenage everyman, Xander (Nicholas Brendon).

    Then there’s Buffy herself, who in the course of seven seasons morphs from a sarcastic teenager in a minidress to a heroine whose tragic flaw is an abiding desire to be a “normal” girl. On a lesser note, with the boxed set you can watch the fashion transformation of Buffy from mall rat to Prada-wearing, kickboxing diva with enviable highlights. (There was the unfortunate bob of season 2, but it’s a forgivable lapse.) At least the storyline merits the transformations: every time Buffy has to end a relationship she cuts her hair, shedding both the pain and her vulnerability.

    In addition to the well-wrought teenage emotional landscape, Buffy deftly takes on more universal themes–power, politics, death, morality–as the series matures in seasons 4-6. And apart from a few missteps that haven’t aged particularly well (“I Robot” in season 1 comes to mind), most episodes feel as harrowing and as richly drawn as they did at first viewing. That’s about as much as you can ask for any form of entertainment: that it offer an escape from the viewer’s workaday world and entry into one in which the heroine (ideally one with leather pants) overcomes demons far more troubling than one’s own. –Megan Halverson
    Product Description
    *Seasons 1-7 on each disc

    Bonus Disc: **Introduction by Joss Whedon **Back to the Hellmouth: A Conversation with Creators and Cast **Breaking Barriers: It’s Not a Chick Fight Thing **Love Bites: Relationships in the Buffyverse **Evil Fiends **Buffy: An Unlikely Role Model **Buffy Cast and Crew: Favorite Episodes

    Angel - Complete Series Collector's Set

    Angel – Complete Series Collector’s Set

    Product Details

    • Actors: David Boreanaz
    • Format: Box set, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • Number of discs: 30
    • Rating:
    • Studio: 20th Century Fox
    • DVD Release Date: October 30, 2007

    Editorial Reviews [For Season one -the complete boxed set didn’t have a review listed]

    Amazon.com
    He’s hunky, he’s brooding, he’s a do-gooder, and he was Buffy’s first boyfriend. Angel, the tortured vampire destined to walk the earth with a soul, got his own series after three seasons on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and did what any new star might do: he moved to L.A. (the City of Angels–get it?) and set up shop. Angel (co-created by Buffy mastermind Joss Whedon) finds the titular vampire (David Boreanaz) as a kind of supernatural private investigator, fighting evil one case at a time and, like his ex-girlfriend, keeping the world from getting destroyed by vengeful demons and such.

    A darker, more film noir version of Buffy, Angel lacked the peppy humor that permeated Sunnydale but more than made up for it in its soul-wrenching gravitas, and it elevated Boreanaz to leading-man status, a role he filled out ably and then some. Initially, the stoic vampire was paired with Irish demon Doyle (the late Glenn Quinn) and fellow Sunnydale transplant Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), but Angel finally found its footing when Doyle was dispatched (giving his powers of precognition to Cordelia) and replaced by Buffy alum Wesley (Alexis Denisof), a fallen watcher who, like his friends, was hoping for a new start in L.A. However, pesky law firm Wolfram and Hart (a front for the demon mafia, as it were) reared its ugly head and discovered Angel’s presence, thus setting the stage for a battle of good and evil–and if you’re a regular Joss Whedon fan, you know that it’s a never-ending war.

    This first season features guest appearances by various Buffy characters, including werewolf boy Oz (Seth Green), rogue slayer Faith (Eliza Dushku), deliciously evil vamp Darla (Julie Benz), and Buffy herself (Sarah Michelle Gellar), all of whom helped get the show off and running in style. –Mark Englehart
    Product Description
    HIS TIME HAS COME . . . Now you can own the entire first season of ANGEL. All 22 classic episodes are available for the first time in this exclusive 6-disc collector’s edition. From “City of,” “In the Dark” and “I Will Remember You” to “Hero,” “Sanctuary” and “To Shanshu in L.A.,” these Season One episodes are a must for every Angel and Buffy fan.

    Product Description [for the complete boxed set]
    ANGEL SEASON 1 (6 DISCS) ANGEL SEASON 2 (6 DISCS) ANGEL SEASON 3 (6 DISCS) ANGEL SEASON 4 (6 DISCS) ANGEL SEASON 5 (6 DISCS)

    **COMPANION BOOKLET **LETTER TO FANS FROM JOSS WHEDON

    Firefly – The Complete Series

    Product Details

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com

    As the 2005 theatrical release of Serenity made clear, Firefly was a science fiction concept that deserved a second chance. Devoted fans (or “Browncoats”) knew it all along, and with this well-packaged DVD set, those who missed the show’s original broadcasts can see what they missed. Creator Joss Whedon’s ambitious science-fiction Western (Whedon’s third series after Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel) was canceled after only 11 of these 14 episodes had aired on the Fox network, but history has proven that its demise was woefully premature. Whedon’s generic hybrid got off to a shaky start when network executives demanded an action-packed one-hour premiere (“The Train Job”); in hindsight the intended two-hour pilot (also titled “Serenity,” and oddly enough, the final episode aired) provides a better introduction to the show’s concept and splendid ensemble cast. Obsessive fans can debate the quirky logic of combining spaceships with direct parallels to frontier America (it’s 500 years in the future, and embattled humankind has expanded into the galaxy, where undeveloped “outer rim” planets struggle with the equivalent of Old West accommodations), but Whedon and his gifted co-writers and directors make it work, at least well enough to fashion a credible context from the incongruous culture-clashing of past, present, and future technologies, along with a polyglot language (the result of two dominant superpowers) that combines English with an abundance of Chinese slang.

    What makes it work is Whedon’s delightfully well-chosen cast and their nine well-developed characters–a typically Whedon-esque extended family–each providing a unique perspective on their adventures aboard Serenity, the junky but beloved “Firefly-class” starship they call home. As a veteran of the disadvantaged Independent faction’s war against the all-powerful planetary Alliance (think of it as Underdogs vs. Overlords), Serenity captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) leads his compact crew on a quest for survival. They’re renegades with an amoral agenda, taking any job that pays well, but Firefly‘s complex tapestry of right and wrong (and peace vs. violence) is richer and deeper than it first appears. Tantalizing clues about Blue Sun (an insidious mega-corporation with a mysteriously evil agenda), its ties to the Alliance, and the traumatizing use of Serenity’s resident stowaway (Summer Glau) as a guinea pig in the development of advanced warfare were clear indications Firefly was heading for exciting revelations that were precluded by the series’ cancellation. Fortunately, the big-screen Serenity (which can be enjoyed independently of the series) ensured that Whedon’s wild extraterrestrial west had not seen its final sunset. Its very existence confirms that these 14 episodes (and enjoyable bonus features) will endure as irrefutable proof Fox made a glaring mistake in canceling the series. —Jeff Shannon

    Product Description
    Five hundred years in the future there’s a whole new frontier, and the crew of the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity is eager to stake a claim on the action. They’ll take any job, legal or illegal, to keep fuel in the tanks and food on the table. But things get a bit more complicated after they take on a passenger wanted by the new totalitarian Alliance regime. Now they find themselves on the run, desperate to steer clear of Alliance ships and the flesh-eating Reavers who live on the fringes of space.

    Serenity (Collector’s Edition)

    Product Details

    • Actors: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin
    • Directors: Joss Whedon
    • Format: AC-3, Collector’s Edition, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Number of discs: 2
    • Rating:
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: August 21, 2007
    • Run Time: 187 minutes

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    Serenity offers perfect proof that Firefly deserved a better fate than premature TV cancellation. Joss Whedon’s acclaimed sci-fi Western hybrid series was ideally suited (in Browncoats, of course) for a big-screen conversion, and this action-packed adventure allows Whedon to fill in the Firefly backstory, especially the history and mystery of the spaceship Serenity’s volatile and traumatized stowaway, River Tam (Summer Glau). Her lethal skills as a programmed “weapon” makes her a coveted prize for the power-hungry planetary Alliance, represented here by an Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who’ll stop at nothing to retrieve River from Serenity’s protective crew. We still get all the quip-filled dialogue and ass-kicking action that we’ve come to expect from the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but Whedon goes a talented step further here, blessing his established ensemble cast with a more fully-developed dynamic of endearing relationships. Serenity‘s cast is led with well-balanced depth and humor by Nathan Fillion as Captain Mal Reynolds, whose maverick spirit is matched by his devotion to crewmates Wash (Alan Tudyk), Zoe (Gina Torres), fun-loving fighter Jayne (Adam Baldwin), engineer Kaylee (Jewel Staite), doctor Simon (Sean Maher), and Mal’s former flame Inara (Morena Baccarin), who plays a pivotal role in Whedon’s briskly-paced plot. As many critics agreed, Serenity offered all the fun and breezy excitement that was missing from George Lucas’s latter-day Star Wars epics, and Whedon leaves an opening for a continuing franchise that never feels cheap or commercially opportunistic. With the mega-corporate mysteries of Blue Sun yet to be explored, it’s a safe bet we haven’t seen the last of the good ship Serenity. –Jeff Shannon
    Product Description
    Serenity, the action-packed event that delivers thrilling non-stop adventure, incredible battles in dangerous worlds and spectacular visual effects, is now available in a Special 2-Disc Collector’s Edition containing all-new bonus content and never-seen-before footage! With over 30 minutes of all-new special features and special collectible packaging, the Serenity – Collector’s Edition is a must own for all true Sci-Fi and Joss Whedon fans! All-new 2-disc edition will include 6 completely new bonus elements including cast & filmmaker commentary. Will also include all bonus features from previous release.

    All New Bonus Features:
    -Extended Scenes (6:45)
    -Take A Walk on Serenity (4:00) Cast and Crew take us on a special tour of the Serenity space ship
    -A Filmmaker’s Journey (19:49) Take A Journey with Joss Whedon from script to the big screen
    -The Green Clan (3:03) An expose on Cinematographer Jack Green and his team
    -Sci-Fi Inside: Serenity (21:41) Hosted by Adam Baldwin, an in-depth look at the film that was resurrected from a cancelled television show, as well as its supportive culture.
    -Session 416 (7:52) These internet pieces document a portion of River’s participation in a psychological study and her interactions with her therapist.
    -Feature Commentary with Director Joss Whedon and Cast Members Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, and Ron Glass

    Jurassic Park Adventure Pack (Jurassic Park/ The Lost World: Jurassic Park/ Jurassic Park III)

    Jurassic Park Adventure Pack (Jurassic Park/ The Lost World: Jurassic Park/ Jurassic Park III)

    Product Details

    Amazon.com
    Jurassic Park
    Steven Spielberg’s 1993 mega-hit rivals Jaws as the most intense and frightening film he’d ever made prior to Schindler’s List, but it was also among his weakest stories. Based on Michael Crichton’s novel about an island amusement park populated by cloned dinosaurs, the film works best as a thrill ride with none of the interesting human dynamics of Spielberg’s Jaws. That lapse proves unfortunate, but there’s no shortage of raw terror as a rampaging T-rex and nasty raptors try to make fast food out of the cast. The effects are still astonishing (despite the fact that the computer-generated technology has since been improved upon) and at times primeval, such as the sight of a herd of whatever-they-are scampering through a valley. –Tom Keogh

    The Lost World – Jurassic Park
    In the low tradition of knockoff horror flicks best seen (or not seen) on a drive-in movie screen, Steven Spielberg’s sequel to Jurassic Park is a poorly conceived, ill-organized film that lacks story and logic. Screenwriter David Koepp strings along a number of loose ideas while Jeff Goldblum returns as Ian Malcolm, the quirky chaos theoretician who now reluctantly agrees to go to another island where cloned dinosaurs are roaming freely. Along with his girlfriend (Julianne Moore) and daughter, Malcolm has to deal with hunters, environmentalists, and corporate swine who stupidly bring back a big dino to Southern California, where it runs amok, of course. Spielberg doesn’t seem to care that the pieces of this project don’t add up to a real movie, so he hams it up with big, scary moments (with none of the artfulness of those in Jurassic Park) and smart-aleck visual gags (a yapping dog in a suburb mysteriously disappears when a hungry T-rex stomps by). A complete bust.–Tom Keogh

    Jurassic Park III
    Surpassing expectations to qualify as an above-average sequel, Jurassic Park III is nothing more or less than a satisfying popcorn adventure. A little cheesier than the first two Jurassic blockbusters, it’s a big B movie with big B-list stars (including Laura Dern, briefly reprising her Jurassic Park role), and eight years of advancing computer-generated-image technology give it a sharp edge over its predecessors. While adopting the jungle spirit of King Kong, the movie refines Michael Crichton’s original premise, and its dinosaurs are even more realistic, their behavior more detailed, and their variety–including flying pteranodons and a new villain, the spinosaurus–more dazzling and threatening than ever. These advancements justify the sequel, and its contrived plot is just clever enough to span 90 minutes without wearing out its welcome.

    Posing as wealthy tourists, an adventurous couple (William H. Macy, Téa Leoni) convince paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and his protégé (Allesandro Nivola) to act as tour guides on a flyover trip to Isla Sorna, the ill-fated “Site B” where all hell broke loose in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. In truth, they’re on a search-and-rescue mission to find their missing son (Trevor Morgan), and their plane crash is just the first of several enjoyably suspenseful sequences. Director Joe Johnston (October Sky) embraces the formulaic plot as a series of atmospheric set pieces, placing new and familiar dinosaurs in misty rainforests, fiery lakes, and mysterious valleys, turning JP3 into a thrill ride with impressive highlights (including a T. rex versus spinosaurus smack-down), adequate doses of wry humor (from the cowriters of Election), and an upbeat ending that’s corny but appropriate, proving that the symptoms of sequelitis needn’t be fatal. –Jeff Shannon

    Stargate SG-1 - The Complete Series Collection

    Stargate SG-1 – The Complete Series Collection

    Product Details

    • Actors: Stargate Sg1
    • Format: Full Screen, Surround Sound, HiFi Sound, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
    • Number of discs: 54
    • Rating:
    • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
    • DVD Release Date: October 9, 2007
    • Run Time: 9900 minutes

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com [From Season One]
    Hollywood’s film archives overflow with the carcasses of dismal movies based on lame ’60s and ’70s television shows, a syndrome that shows no sign of abating. But here’s evidence that the reverse effect, turning a movie into a TV series, can have surprisingly positive results. Indeed, based on the 21 episodes produced for the first season of Stargate SG-1, it could be argued that this show is significantly better than the 1994 feature it’s derived from.

    The central conceit of the original Stargate–the existence of an artificially created “wormhole” through which one can travel to different worlds light years away from Earth–was an intriguing one. In seizing on the obvious possibilities for expanding on that premise, series executive producers-writers Jonathan Glassner and Brad Wright have smartly retained some of the film’s basic elements (its amalgam of myth and theoretical hokum, or the ongoing clash of wills between scientists and soldiers), while adding a variety of fresh ideas (including new characters, new locations, and a welcome dose of humor, much of it supplied by Richard Dean Anderson, MacGyver himself, who replaces Kurt Russell in the central role of Colonel Jack O’Neill). The result is a show with multidimensional heroes and villains and consistently compelling story lines (many of them introduced in the pilot and carried forward through subsequent episodes) balancing excellent special effects and production values. All this and full frontal nudity, too (at least in the aforementioned pilot). Who can resist?

    The first season is spread out over five DVDs; the 100-minute pilot shares the first volume with two other episodes, while discs 2 to 5 contain anywhere from three to five shows each. Sound and visuals (in widescreen format) alike will take full advantage of any home system’s capabilities. But aside from language and subtitle options, bonus features are limited to brief featurettes that play like commercials and provide little in the way of background information or insight (there are no features at all on the first disc). Then again, if you really want to know what that symbol on Teal’c’s forehead means, or why the nasty, parasitic Goa’ulds look a lot like the fledgling stomach monsters in the Alien series, there is no doubt a Web site out there just for you. –Sam Graham

    Amazon.com [From Season Ten]
    If this five-disc, 20-episode, tenth season set really is the end of Stargate SG-1–and considering the number of reprieves the show has already had and the rumors of various movie spin-offs, not to mention the fact that the final installment is entitled “Unending,” who knows?–then the folks responsible for this durable sci-fi series can be proud that they finished it off in style, with a run of episodes that are for the most part highly entertaining, exciting, and fun, offering resolution if not complete closure. And if sharks were jumped, at least they were small ones. As was the case in Season 9, and to a large extent in Season 8 as well, original series star Richard Dean Anderson is little in evidence here. Portraying Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell, Ben Browder, who came to Stargate SG-1 from the underrated Farscape, is now entrenched as leader of SG-1, the Stargate project’s ace team in the field, joining series veterans Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, and Michael Shanks (as Samantha Carter, Teal’c, and Daniel Jackson, respectively). Most notably, fellow Farscape alum Claudia Black has an ever-expanding role as Vala, whose cheeky wit and irreverence bring a consistent spark to the proceedings. The big, bad villains known as Ori are back as well. We still can’t see them–they are, after all, “ascended beings,” represented by the blind, monk-like Priors, who roam the universe intoning “Hallowed are the Ori” and ensuring that all will submit to their will (the element of scary religious fanaticism remains as relevant as ever). But the Ori are also still the most implacable, irresistible force our heroes have ever encountered; nothing less than the fate of the entire galaxy is at stake (again)! And now there’s an added twist: the Ori have a frontwoman, if you will, whose powers make the Priors look like pikers. Known as Adria (or “the Orici” to believers), this beautiful young woman (played by Morena Baccarin) also happens to be the daughter of Vala, whom the Ori chose to bring their demon seed into the world; the uneasy (to say the least) Adria-Vala relationship provides many intriguing moments. On the minus side, the show tends to break its own rules (for instance, for a character who’s supposed to be invincible, Adria often seems awfully, well, vincible), and the commingling of Arthurian legend, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian myth, magic, and other sources is occasionally over-the-top, even for this franchise. Some episodes are plot-heavy, bogged down by too many characters (past bad guys like the Goa’uld, and Ba’al reappear, as do several Stargate Atlantis principals in one episode) or excessive techno-rap about time dilation fields, flux capacitors, and something called the Clava Thessara Infinitas (don’t ask). Episodes in which the writers move away from the central Ori theme are less than stellar; “200” exists mostly as an opportunity to make fun of the TV business and is as irrelevant and silly as “Citizen Joe,” the worst episode from Season 8. And finally, without revealing details, suffice to say that “Unending,” which offers a possible fate for our heroes before totally pulling its punches, may frustrate some longtime adherents. By and large, though, Stargate SG-1 has all the elements–humor, action, great effects, good story-telling and acting, characters you care about–to more than justify its ten-year run. It will be missed. Special features are again bountiful, including audio commentary on all episodes, various featurettes, and five “directors series” entries devoted to particular episodes. –Sam Graham

    Product Description
    Episode Description: Disc 1- 5: Stargate SG-1 Season 1 Disc 6-10: Starage SG-1 Season 2 Disc 11-15: Stargate SG-1 Season 3 Disc 16-20: Stargate SG-1 Season 4 Disc 21-25: Stargate SG-1 Season 5 Disc 26-30: Stargate SG-1 Season 6 Disc 31-35: Stargate SG-1 Season 7 Disc 36-40: Stargate SG-1 Season 8 Disc 41-45: Stargate SG-1 Season 9 Disc 46-50: Stargate SG-1 Season 10

    Disc 51: Bonus Disc 1 **Ark of Truth Promo **Continuum Promo **”Stargate SG-1: The Lowdown (SG-1 Season 7)” **From Stargate to Atlantis: The Lowdown (SG-1 Season 8 & Atlantis Season 1) **Behind the Stargate: Secrets Revealed (SG-1 Season 8 & Atlantis Season 1)

    Disc 52: Bonus Disc 2 **”Sci Fi Inside: Stargate SG-1’s 200th Episode (SG-1 Season 10)” **”Behind the Mythology of Stargate SG-1 (SG-1 Seasons 1-10)” **Stargate SG-1: True Science

    Disc 53: Bonus Disc 3 ***Season Three: **Timeline to the Future **Part 1: Legacy of the Gate **Part II: Secrets of the Gate **Part III: Beyond the Gate

    ***Season Four: **SG-1 Video Diary: Teryl Rothery **”Stargate SG-1 Season 5: Gateway to Adventure ” **Stargate SG-1: The 100th Episode

    ***Season Five: **SG-1 Video Diary: Don S. Davis

    ***Season Six: **”SG-1 Directors Series: Smoke and Mirrors” **SG-1 Directors Series: The Changeling **SG-1 Directors Series: Memento **SG-1 Directors Series: Prophecy **SG-1 Video Diary: Richard Dean Anderson Paradise Lost”

    Disc 54: Bonus Disc 4 ***Season Seven: **SG-1 Directors Series: Revisions **SG-1 Directors Series: Heroes **SG-1 Directors Series: Resurrection **”Behind the Scenes: Journey Inside Lost City” **The Storyboard Process **”Bra’tac vs. Ronan: Designing the Fight” **Stargate Magic: Inside the Lab **Richard Dean Anderson: “My Life as a Mime”

    ***Season Eight: **”Beyond the Gate: A Convention Experience with Amanda Tapping” **”Beyond the Gate: A Convention Experience with Michael Shanks” **SG-1 Directors Series: Threads **Profile On: Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie **The Last Day of Teal’C **SG-1 Directors Series: Moebius **”Stargate SG-1 Alliance: The Making of The Video Game”

    Stargate – The Ark of Truth

    Product Details

    • Actors: Ben Browder, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Michael Shanks, Claudia Black
    • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Subtitles: English, Spanish
    • Region: All Regions
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rating:
    • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
    • DVD Release Date: March 11, 2008
    • Run Time: 97 minutes

    Editorial Reviews

    Product Description
    Blasting off where the Sci-Fi Channelâ??s longest running show, Stargate SG-1, left off, this thrilling feature thrusts the Stargate team â?” Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), Vala (Claudia Black), Tealâ??c (Christopher Judge), Sam (Amanda Tapping) and Cam (Ben Browder) â?” into their biggest challenge yet. In search of an Ancient artifact they hope can defeat the oppressive Ori, the team not only learns that the Ori are set to launch a final assault on Earth, but a double-crossing I.O. operative is aboard the Odyssey! Also starring Beau Bridges, this pulse-pounder is loaded with enough suspense, humor and action to fill a galaxy!

    Stargate (Ultimate Edition)

    Product Details

    • Actors: Kurt Russell, James Spader, Viveca Lindfors, Alexis Cruz, Mili Avital
    • Directors: Roland Emmerich
    • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Subtitles: Spanish
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rating:
    • Studio: Lions Gate
    • DVD Release Date: February 17, 2003
    • Run Time: 119 minutes

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    Before they unleashed the idiotic mayhem of Independence Day and Godzilla, the idea-stealing team of director Roland Emmerich and producer-screenwriter Dean Devlin concocted this hokey hit about the discovery of an ancient portal capable of zipping travelers to “the other side of the known universe.” James Spader plays the Egyptologist who successfully translates the Stargate’s hieroglyphic code, and then joins a hawkish military unit (led by Kurt Russell) on a reconnaissance mission to see what’s on the other side. They arrive on a desert world with cultural (and apparently supernatural) ties to Earth’s ancient Egypt, where the sun god Ra (played by Jaye Davidson from The Crying Game) rules a population of slaves with armored minions and startlingly advanced technology. After being warmly welcomed into the slave camp, the earthlings encourage and support a rebellion, and while Russell threatens to blow up the Stargate to prevent its use by enemy forces, the movie collapses into a senseless series of action scenes and grandiose explosions. It’s all pretty ridiculous, but Stargate found a large and appreciative audience, spawned a cable-TV series, and continues to attract science fiction fans who are more than willing to forgive its considerable faults. –Jeff Shannon
    DVD features
    Nothing beats a sci-fi movie with wall-shaking sound, and the Stargate Ultimate Edition delivers the goods with 6.1 DTS ES and 5.1 Dolby Digital EX. Yes, Stargate has been released on DVD numerous times, but this 2003 version is the best yet, with improved sound and a generally clean picture that’s now anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. Note: The current Stargate Ultimate Edition is a stripped-down version with only a featurette and commentary track. The Ultimate Edition originally released in 2003 included the combination of the theatrical cut and director’s cut (nine minutes longer), and a 23-minute making-of feature that concentrated on the film’s design and production. –David Horiuchi

    Stargate Atlantis – The Complete Seasons 1 and 2

    Product Details

    • Format: NTSC
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • DVD Release Date: March 20, 2007

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com

    Stargate Atlantis – The Complete First Season: It’s not a franchise on the order of Law & Order, CSI, or Star Trek–not yet, anyway–but with Stargate Atlantis, a more than worthy successor to SG-1, Stargate is becoming a nice little cottage industry in itself. The premise, in a nutshell: The Ancients, the greatest race the universe has ever known (or something like that), abandoned Earth millions of years ago, taking Atlantis with them; they then sunk the entire city in order to escape the clutches of the dreaded Wraith, an implacable bunch of villains who nourish themselves by sucking the life from humans. Now, as the two-hour “Rising” pilot details, a new team has gained access to the legendary city. Once they arrive, Atlantis loses the power to sustain its protective shield and rises to the surface, and thus begin the team’s adventures (i.e., using the stargate to travel to other planets in the Pegasus galaxy, encountering aliens both hostile and friendly, and trying to defeat the Wraith, or at least stay out of their way).

    Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), SG-1‘s driving force, is missed, but Atlantis has a strong replacement in Major John Sheppard (Joe Flanigan), easily the most charismatic member of the new team. Like O’Neill, Sheppard is a wiseacre and a loose cannon, as well as a superb pilot with an innate understanding of the Ancients’ arcane technology. His humor, humanity and conscience provide a welcome contrast to the other characters, especially brilliant-but-neurotic Dr. Rodney McKay (David Hewlett) and ultra-serious project leader Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson), who has little to do but give orders and stand up for her people. The Wraith, who resemble a vampire mutation of the albino blues guitarist Johnny Winter, are the focus of most of these 19 episodes (including the pilot). These bad boys will stop at nothing–nothing, I tell you!–in their quest to snack their way through every galaxy in the universe, with Earth their ultimate feeding ground. And while the final four episodes, dealing with the Wraith’s massive attack on Atlantis, end with an unsatisfying cliffhanger (basically, nothing is resolved), earlier shows effectively keep their ominous presence in the forefront. The episodes in which the Wraith play little or no active role are often compelling as well, including “Thirty Eight Minutes” (one of our heroes’ “puddle jumper” spacecraft gets stuck in the stargate), “Childhood’s End” (we meet a race whose members are convinced that only ritual suicide is keeping the Wraith at bay), and “The Eye” (a planet-size hurricane/tsunami bears down on Atlantis). As is the case with SG-1, the visual effects work, especially by TV standards, is excellent; in fact, one might wish for bit more cool sci-fi action and less talk in some of the episodes. Special effects include commentary (by directors, writers, and/or actors) for every episode, as well as the occasional behind-the-scenes featurette. —Sam Graham

    Stargate Atlantis – The Complete Second Season: If Stargate Atlantis isn’t the coolest sci-fi series on television, this five-disc, 20-episode box set from the second season (2005-06) offers ample evidence that it’s right up there. The writing is good; the stories are intriguing, and the science part of the equation is credible enough to justify our suspension of disbelief. The characters are for the most part well-defined, and the acting, while perhaps not Emmy-caliber, is just fine. The action is exciting, the effects work impressive, the costumes and sets first-rate. But what Atlantis really has going for it is the presence of some of the baddest bad guys in the cosmos: the Wraith.

    With their flowing white locks, cat-like eyes, pale, almost translucent skin, and teeth so bad they’d make the British blush, the Wraith rock. They also have a constant need to feed–on humans, of course–and are a serious threat not only to Atlantis but to the entire known universe, including good ol’ Earth. And although there are occasional diversions, the producers and writers have wisely kept the focus on these implacable antagonists; in fact, the newest member of the team, one Ronon Dex (played by the dreadlocked and hunky Jason Momoa), is a “runner” who escaped the Wraith’s clutches, was a fugitive for years before being found by our heroes, and specializes in dispatching the villains with cold precision. In the course of the season, via single episodes and several multi-parters, the Stargate team, commanded by Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson in the show’s least interesting role) and led by insouciant Major John Sheppard (Joe Flanigan), with genius-neurotic Dr. Rodney McKay (David Hewlett) handling the scientific intricacies and yet another doc, Carson Beckett (Paul McGillion, affecting a Scottish brogue), overseeing medical matters, deals with the enemy on many fronts. Lt. Ford (Rainbow Sun Francks) defects after assuming Wraith-like characteristics. The team experiments with a “retrovirus” designed to turn Wraiths into humans (the results are decidedly mixed). They encounter a human who raised a Wraith female from childhood and insists she’s just like us (she’s not). They’re captured and imprisoned on a Wraith “hive” ship. And in the final episode, the humans and the Wraiths even form an alliance of supposedly mutual convenience (the episode is a cliffhanger that awaits resolution until Season Three, but anyone who thought this “partnership” was a good idea for our side clearly hasn’t been paying attention). As was the case with the Season One set, bonus materials are generous, including audio commentary (by actors, directors, and others) on every episode, various featurettes, photos, and more. Now if only there were a few Wraith interviews… —Sam Graham

    Stargate Atlantis – The Complete Third Season

    Stargate Atlantis – Rising (Pilot Episode)

    Product Details

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    There are those who may regard it as old wine in a new bottle, but that doesn’t mean that Stargate Atlantis doesn’t have something to offer to both newcomers and fans of Stargate SG-1, the franchise from which it evolved. Co-creators and executive producers Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper, both of whom worked on the earlier show, have concocted an appealing premise for this spin-off, in which the so-called Ancients abandoned Earth millions of years earlier, taking their city (i.e., Atlantis) with them. Now, a new team has gained access (via the Stargate, the “wormhole” our heroes use to travel to different worlds) to the legendary sunken city, where new adventures and deadly new enemies await. Stargate SG-1 stars Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks make appearances in this series premiere, but the focus is on the new characters. Of these, Joe Flanigan excels as the insouciant Major John Sheppard, an Air Force pilot unexpectedly recruited for the new mission because of his preternatural ability to interface with the Ancients’ wondrous technology. The new leader is Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson), a role that is neither especially well-written nor well-played. The new monster-villains, replacing the trusty old Goa’uld, are the Wraith, whose name is actually cooler than they are; they may eat humans, in addition to being all-powerful (natch), but they tend to come off like refugees from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Overall, the production values and special effects remain top-notch, especially for television, and the story itself is OK. But while Stargate Atlantis is certainly promising, it has a ways to go to equal its predecessor, which remains one of the best-made, most compelling sci-fi programs on television. –Sam Graham
    Product Description
    When SG-1 discovers what it believes to be the remnants of the Lost City of the Ancients ? the originators of the Stargates ? Stargate Command launches an investigation. A new team of explorers, headed by civilian Dr. Elizabeth Weir, travels to the distant Pegasus Galaxy, where it discovers an advanced but deserted city on the ocean floor, a group of nomadic humans and a deadly enemy that feeds on humans as an energy source!

    The X-Files: The Ultimate Collection

    The X-Files: The Ultimate Collection

    Product Details

    • Actors: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
    • Directors: Chris Carter
    • Format: Box set, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 61
    • Rating:
    • Studio: 20th Century Fox
    • DVD Release Date: November 6, 2007

    Amazon Customer Revuiew

    “This product, according to Fox, gathers together all nine seasons, the film, and the Mythology Threads featurettes off the Mythology collections. The nine seasons are thankfully in the original release format, with all special features included. The feature film appears to have the same contents as the current DVD release as well. As for the featurettes, they appear on a disc of their own.
    For a box set this big (61 discs), it’s priced fairly reasonably as opposed to the 9-season collection that can be found elsewhere on Amazon. However, Fox needs to make sure this is the last time they re-dip the series; maybe they should release it on Blu-Ray to make the HD fanboys happy.
    Be warned: if you bought the initial season-by-season releases (not the slimpaks) and the movie separately, there’s nothing new here. The featurettes on the last disc are also nothing new, as they appeared on the pointless Mythology arc sets that were released on DVD a while back. However, for anyone new to the series or anyone who’s been hesitating to buy the series on DVD, this is a great pickup for its price.”

    The Ultimate Matrix Collection (The Matrix/ The Matrix Reloaded/ The Matrix Revolutions/ The Animatrix)

    The Ultimate Matrix Collection (The Matrix/ The Matrix Reloaded/ The Matrix Revolutions/ The Animatrix)

    Product Details

    Amazon.com essential video [The Matrix]
    By following up their debut thriller Bound with the 1999 box-office smash The Matrix, the codirecting Wachowski brothers–Andy and Larry–annihilated any suggestion of a sophomore jinx, crafting one of the most exhilarating sci-fi/action movies of the 1990s. Set in the not too distant future in an insipid, characterless city, we find a young man named Neo (Keanu Reeves). A software techie by day and a computer hacker by night, he sits alone at home by his monitor, waiting for a sign, a signal–from what or whom he doesn’t know–until one night, a mysterious woman named Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) seeks him out and introduces him to that faceless character he has been waiting for: Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). A messiah of sorts, Morpheus presents Neo with the truth about his world by shedding light on the dark secrets that have troubled him for so long: “You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.” Ultimately, Morpheus illustrates to Neo what the Matrix is–a reality beyond reality that controls all of their lives, in a way that Neo can barely comprehend.

    Neo thus embarks on an adventure that is both terrifying and enthralling. Pitted against an enemy that transcends human concepts of evil, Morpheus and his team must train Neo to believe that he is the chosen champion of their fight. With mind-boggling, technically innovative special effects and a thought-provoking script that owes a debt of inspiration to the legacy of cyberpunk fiction, this is much more than an out-and-out action yarn; it’s a thinking man’s journey into the realm of futuristic fantasy, a dreamscape full of eye candy that will satisfy sci-fi, kung fu, action, and adventure fans alike. Although the film is headlined by Reeves and Fishburne–who both turn in fine performances–much of the fun and excitement should be attributed to Moss, who flawlessly mixes vulnerability with immense strength, making other contemporary female heroines look timid by comparison. And if we were going to cast a vote for most dastardly movie villain of 1999, it would have to go to Hugo Weaving, who plays the feckless, semipsychotic Agent Smith with panache and edginess. As the film’s box-office profits soared, the Wachowski brothers announced that The Matrix is merely the first chapter in a cinematically dazzling franchise–a chapter that is arguably superior to the other sci-fi smash of 1999 (you know… the one starring Jar Jar Binks). –Jeremy Storey

    Amazon.com [The Matrix Reloaded]
    Considering the lofty expectations that preceded it, The Matrix Reloaded triumphs where most sequels fail. It would be impossible to match the fresh audacity that made The Matrix a global phenomenon in 1999, but in continuing the exploits of rebellious Neo (Keanu Reeves), Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) as they struggle to save the human sanctuary of Zion from invading machines, the codirecting Wachowski brothers have their priorities well in order. They offer the obligatory bigger and better highlights (including the impressive “Burly Brawl” and freeway chase sequences) while remaining focused on cleverly plotting the middle of a brain-teasing trilogy that ends with The Matrix Revolutions. The metaphysical underpinnings can be dismissed or scrutinized, and choosing the latter course (this is, after all, an epic about choice and free will) leads to astonishing repercussions that made Reloaded an explosive hit with critics and hardcore fans alike. As the centerpiece of a multimedia franchise, this dynamic sequel ends with a cliffhanger that virtually guarantees a mind-blowing conclusion. –Jeff Shannon

    Amazon.com [The Matrix Revolutions]
    Despite the inevitable law of diminishing returns, The Matrix Revolutions is quite satisfying as an adrenalized action epic, marking yet another milestone in the exponential evolution of computer-generated special effects. That may not be enough to satisfy hardcore Matrix fans who turned the Wachowski Brothers’ hacker mythology into a quasi-religious pop-cultural phenomenon, but there’s no denying that the trilogy goes out with a cosmic bang instead of the whimper that many expected. Picking up precisely where The Matrix Reloaded left off, this 130-minute finale finds Neo (Keanu Reeves) at a virtual junction, defending the besieged human enclave of Zion by confronting the attacking machines on their home turf, while humans combat swarms of tentacled mechanical sentinels as Zion’s fate lies in the balance. It all amounts to a blaze of CGI glory, devoid of all but the shallowest emotions, and so full of metaphysical hokum that the trilogy’s detractors can gloat with I-told-you-so sarcasm. And yet, Revolutions still succeeds as a slick, exciting hybrid of cinema and video game, operating by its own internal logic with enough forward momentum to make the whole trilogy seem like a thrilling, magnificent dream. — Jeff Shannon

    Amazon.com [Animatrix]
    Matrix writer-directors Larry and Andy Wachowski commissioned seven artists from Japan, America and Korea to make nine short films set in the world of their feature trilogy. Some of the top anime directors contributed to this anthology, including Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Ninja Scroll), Koji Morimoto (Robot Carnival), and Shinchiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop). Some of the films tie directly into the narrative of the live-action movies. Drawn in a style reminiscent of Jean “Moebius” Giraud, Mahiro Maeda’s The Second Renaissance (Part I & Part II) depicts the human-machine wars that caused the enslavement of humanity and the creation of the Matrix. The duel between two flamboyantly costumed Kabuki warriors in Kawajiri’s Program is an expanded version of the cybernetic training Neo (Keanu Reeves) undergoes in the first Matrix film. Watanabe evokes the look of old newspaper photographs in A Detective Story, which falls outside the storyline of the features. Fast-paced, violent and grim, The Animatrix is an uneven but intriguing compilation that represents a new level in the ongoing cross-pollination between Japanese animation and American live action. (Not rated, suitable for ages 16 and older: considerable violence, violence against women, grotesque imagery, brief nudity, alcohol use) –Charles Solomon

    Product Description
    The definitive ten-disc DVD set, The Ultimate Matrix Collection features all three films in the trilogy together for the first time ever with a newly remastered picture and sound for The Matrix. Also included is the companion piece The Matrix Revisited and the best-selling The Animatrix, plus five entirely new DVDs packed solid with brand-new supplemental materials that encompass every aspect of the Matrix universe, including two new audio commentaries on each film, Enter the Matrix video game footage, 106 deep-delving featurettes/ documentaries and much more!

    DVD Features:
    Additional Scenes:Filmed for Enter the Matrix video game
    Audio Commentary:The Philosophers: Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilber; The Critics: Todd McCarthy, John Powers and David Thomson
    DVD ROM Features
    Documentary
    Easter Eggs
    Featurette
    Introduction:by the Wachowski Brothers
    Music Video
    Photo gallery
    Storyboards
    TV Spot
    Theatrical Trailer

    Harry Potter Years 1-5 Limited Edition Gift Set

    Harry Potter Years 1-5 Limited Edition Gift Set

    Product Details

    • Actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
    • Format: Anamorphic, Box set, Color, Limited Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
    • Number of discs: 12
    • Rating:
    • Studio: Warner Home Video
    • DVD Release Date: December 11, 2007

    Product Description
    The Harry Potter Limited Edition Giftset includes Harry Potters Years 1-5, a Harry Potter DVD game Hogwarts Challenge, along with a bonus disc containing over 2 hours of enhanced content, an exclusive “Harry Potter’s Bookmark Collection”, and collectible trading cards.

    Star Wars Trilogy (Widescreen Edition with Bonus Disc)

    Star Wars Trilogy (Widescreen Edition with Bonus Disc)

    Product Details

    • Actors: Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, James Earl Jones, Harrison Ford
    • Directors: George Lucas
    • Format: Anamorphic, Box set, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen, NTSC
    • Language: English, Spanish
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Number of discs: 4
    • Rating:
    • Studio: 20th Century Fox
    • DVD Release Date: September 21, 2004
    • Run Time: 388 minutes

    Amazon.com essential video
    Was George Lucas’s Star Wars Trilogy, the most anticipated DVD release ever, worth the wait? You bet. It’s a must-have for any home theater, looking great, sounding great, and supplemented by generous bonus features.

    The Movies

    The Star Wars Trilogy had the rare distinction of becoming a cultural phenomenon, a defining event for its generation. On its surface, George Lucas’s story is a rollicking and humorous space fantasy that owes debts to more influences than one can count on two hands, but filmgoers became entranced by its basic struggle of good vs. evil “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” its dazzling special effects, and a mythology of Jedi knights, the Force, and droids. Over the course of three films–A New Hope (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983)–Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and the roguish Han Solo (Harrison Ford) join the Rebel alliance in a galactic war against the Empire, the menacing Darth Vader (David Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones), and eventually the all-powerful Emperor (Ian McDiarmid). Empire is generally considered the best of the films and Jedi the most uneven, but all three are vastly superior to the more technologically impressive prequels that followed, Episode I, The Phantom Menace (1999) and Episode II, Attack of the Clones (2002).

    How Are the Picture and Sound?


    Thanks to a new digital transfer, you’ve never seen C-3PO glow so golden, and Darth Vader’s helmet is as black as the Dark Side.


    In a word, spectacular. Thanks to a new digital transfer, you’ve never seen C-3PO glow so golden, and Darth Vader’s helmet is as black as the Dark Side. And at the climactic scene of A New Hope, see if the Dolby 5.1 EX sound doesn’t knock you back in your chair. Other audio options are Dolby 2.0 Surround in English, Spanish, and French. (Sorry, DTS fans, but previous Star Wars DVDs didn’t have DTS either.) There have been a few quibbles with the audio on A New Hope, however. A few seconds of Peter Cushing’s dialogue (“Then name the system!”) are distorted, and the music (but not the sound effects) is reversed in the rear channels. For example, in the final scene, the brass is in the front right channel but the back left channel (from the viewer’s perspective), and the strings are in the left front and back right. The result feels like the instruments are crossing through the viewer.What’s Been Changed?
    The rumors are true: Lucas made more changes to the films for their DVD debut. Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) has been added to a scene in Jedi, Ian McDiarmid (the Emperor) replaces Clive Revill with slightly revised lines in Empire, Temuera Morrison has rerecorded Boba Fett’s minimal dialogue, and some other small details have been altered. Yes, these changes mean that the Star Wars films are no longer the ones you saw 20 years ago, but these brief changes hardly affect the films, and they do make sense in the overall continuity of the two trilogies. It’s not like a digitized Ewan McGregor has replaced Alec Guiness’s scenes, and the infamous changes made for the 1997 special-edition versions were much more intrusive (of course, those are in the DVD versions as well).

    How Are the Bonus Features?

    Toplining is Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy, a 150-minute documentary incorporating not only the usual making-of nuts and bolts but also the political workings of the movie studios and the difficulties Lucas had getting his vision to the screen (for example, after resigning from the Directors’ Guild, he lost his first choice for director of Jedi: Steven Spielberg). It’s a little adulatory, but it has plenty to interest any fan. The three substantial featurettes are “The Characters of Star Wars” (19 min.), which discusses the development of the characters we all know and love, “The Birth of the Lightsaber” (15 min.), about the creation and evolution of a Jedi’s ultimate weapon, and “The Force Is with Them: The Legacy of Star Wars” (15 min.), in which filmmakers such as Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, and James Cameron talk about how they and the industry were affected by the films and Lucas’s technological developments in visual effects, sound, and computer animation.

    The bonus features are excellent and along the same lines as those created for The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Each film has a commentary track, recorded by Lucas, Ben Burtt (sound design), Dennis Muren (visual effects), and Carrie Fisher, with Irvin Kershner joining in on the film he directed, The Empire Strikes Back. Recorded separately and skillfully edited together (with supertitles to identify who is speaking), the tracks lack the energy of group commentaries, but they’re enjoyable and informative, with a nice mix of overall vision (Lucas), technical details (Burtt, Muren, Kershner), and actor’s perspective (Fisher). Interestingly, they discuss some of the 1997 changes (Mos Eisley creatures, the new Jabba the Hutt scene) but not those made for the DVDs.

    There’s also a sampler of the Xbox game Star Wars: Battlefront, which lets the player reenact classic film scenarios (blast Ewoks in the battle of Endor!); trailers and TV spots from the films’ many releases; and a nine-minute preview of the last film in the series, Episode III, Revenge of the Sith (here identified by an earlier working title, The Return of Darth Vader). Small extra touches include anamorphic widescreen motion menus with dialogue, original poster artwork on the discs, and a whopping 50 chapter stops for each film.

    “The Force Is Strong with This One”
    The Star Wars Trilogy is an outstanding DVD set that lives up to the anticipation. There will always be resentment that the original versions of the films are not available as well, but George Lucas maintains that these are the versions he always wanted to make. If fans are able to put this debate aside, they can enjoy the adventures of Luke, Leia, and Han for years to come. –David Horiuchi
    Product Description
    Includes:
    * Episode IV, A New Hope
    Commentary by George Lucas, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher
    * Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back
    Commentary by George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher
    * Episode VI, Return of the Jedi
    Commentary by George Lucas, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher

    * “Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy,” the most comprehensive feature-length documentary ever produced on the Star Wars saga, and never-before-seen footage from the making of all three films
    * Featurettes: The Legendary Creatures of Star Wars, The Birth of the Lightsaber, The Legacy of Star Wars
    * Teasers, trailers, TV spots, still galleries
    * Playable Xbox demo of the new Lucasarts game Star Wars Battlefront
    * The making of the Episode III videogame
    * Exclusive preview of Star Wars: Episode III

    Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Slipstream Collection

    Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda: Slipstream Collection

    Product Details

    • Directors: Philip David Segal
    • Format: Anamorphic, Box set, Widescreen, Closed-captioned
    • Language: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
    • Number of discs: 50
    • Rating:
    • Studio: A.D.V. Films
    • DVD Release Date: October 3, 2006
    • Run Time: 5500 minutes

    Amazon Customer Review

    “I was pleasantly surprised by this. The product details don’t mention it at all, but this IS a “thinpaks” release. The set contains all episodes of seasons 1-5 on 50 discs in 25 dual-disc thinkpaks, packaged in a sturdy, cardboard box. The box is much smaller than the Amazon product photo makes it appear. Placed sideways on your bookshelf it will take up less room than the First Season box set. The artwork on the outer sleeves of each thinpak is the same as previous releases. Artwork on the spines of all thinpaks, when viewed together, portray the Amdromeda Ascendant comin’ at ya! The discs in this collection are single-sided, unlike the double-sided discs in the 2-5 season box sets. The content and episodes on the discs are the same as in previous releases. If you already own the previous releases, this may not interest you much. However, if you didn’t like the double-sided discs of the season 2-5 sets and would like the space this set will save on your shelves, it IS worth getting.”

    Battlestar Galactica - The Complete Epic Series (Limited Edition Cylon Head Packaging)

    Battlestar Galactica – The Complete Epic Series (Limited Edition Cylon Head Packaging)

    Product Details

    • Actors: Battlestar Galactica
    • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 6
    • Rating:
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: October 21, 2003
    • Run Time: 1161 minutes

    Editorial Reviews

    From the Back Cover
    In the deepest reaches of space, the fight to save all human life from extinction has begun in this science fiction adventure that launched the Battlestar Galactica phenomenon! Hopeful for lasting peace following centuries of intense warfare, the Twelve Colonies gather to sign a treaty with their dreaded enemies, The Cylons. But after an act of treachery on the eve of the ceremony, the Cylons launch a devastating surprise attack, destroying the Colonies’ home planets and most of their military strength. A lone flagship battlestar, the Galactica, remains to aid the surviving colonists on their epic journey for a new home to a far-off legendary planet -Earth. They must survive the pursuing Cylons in a series of epic battles that will determine the fate of the human race in this non-stop action-packed classic filled with cutting-edge special effects by John Dykstra (“Star Wars,” “Spider-Man”).

    Battlestar Galactica (2003 Miniseries)

    Product Details

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    Despite voluminous protest and nitpicking criticism from loyal fans of the original 1978-80 TV series, the 2003 version of Battlestar Galactica turned out surprisingly well for viewers with a tolerance for change. Originally broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel in December 2003 and conceived by Star Trek: The Next Generation alumnus Ronald D. Moore as the pilot episode for a “reimagined” TV series, this four-hour “miniseries” reprises the basic premise of the original show while giving a major overhaul (including some changes in gender) to several characters and plot elements. Gone are the flowing robes, disco-era hairstyles, and mock-Egyptian fighter helmets, and thankfully there’s not a fluffy “daggit” in sight… at least, not yet. Also missing are the “chrome toaster” Cylons, replaced by new, more formidable varieties of the invading Cylon enemy, including “Number Six” in hot red skirts and ample cleavage, who tricks the human genius Baltar into a scenario that nearly annihilates the human inhabitants of 12 colonial worlds.

    Thus begins the epic battle and eventual retreat of a “ragtag fleet” of humans, searching for the mythical planet Earth under the military command of Adama (Edward James Olmos) and the political leadership of Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), a former secretary of education, 43rd in line of succession and rising to the occasion of her unexpected Presidency. As directed by Michael Rymer (Queen of the Damned), Moore’s ambitious teleplay also includes newfangled CGI space battles (featuring “handheld” camera moves and subdued sound effects for “enhanced realism”), a dysfunctional Col. Tigh (Michael Hogan) who’s provoked into action by the insubordinate Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), and a father-son reunion steeped in familial tragedy. To fans of the original BG series, many of these changes are blasphemous, but for the most part they work–including an ominous cliffhanger ending. The remade Galactica is brimming with smart, well-drawn characters ripe with dramatic potential, and it readily qualifies as serious-minded science fiction, even as it gives BG loyalists ample fuel for lively debate. –Jeff Shannon

    Battlestar Galactica  - Season One

    Battlestar Galactica – Season One

    Product Details

    • Actors: Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber
    • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
    • Number of discs: 5
    • Rating:
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: September 20, 2005
    • Run Time: 756 minutes

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    Battlestar Galactica‘s Edward James Olmos wasn’t kidding when he said “the series is even better than the miniseries.” As developed by sci-fi TV veteran Ronald D. Moore, the “reimagined” BG is exactly what it claims to be: a drama for grown-ups in a science-fiction setting. The mature intelligence of the series is its greatest asset, from the tenuous respect between Galactica’s militarily principled commander Adama (Olmos) and politically astute President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) to the barely suppressed passion between ace Viper pilot “Apollo” (a.k.a. Adama’s son Lee, played by Jamie Bamber) and the brashly insubordinate Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), whose multifaceted character is just one of many first-season highlights. Picking up where the miniseries ended (it’s included here, sparing the need for separate purchase), season 1 opens with the riveting, Hugo Award-winning episode “33,” in which Galactica and the “ragtag fleet” of colonial survivors begin their quest for the legendary 13th colony planet Earth, while being pursued with clockwork regularity by the Cylons, who’ve now occupied the colonial planet of Caprica. The fleet’s hard-fought survival forms (1) the primary side of the series’ three-part structure, shared with (2) the apparent psychosis of Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis) whose every thought and move are monitored by various incarnations of Number Six (Tricia Helfer), the seemingly omniscient Cylon ultravixen who follows a master plan somehow connected to (3) the Caprican survival ordeal of crash-landed pilots “Helo” (Tahmoh Penikett) and “Boomer” (Grace Park), whose simultaneous presence on Galactica is further evidence that 12 multicopied models of Cylons, in human form, are gathering their forces.

    With remarkably consistent quality, each of these 13 episodes deepens the dynamics of these fascinating characters and suspenseful situations. While BG relies on finely nuanced performances, solid direction, and satisfying personal and political drama to build its strong emotional foundation, the action/adventure elements are equally impressive, especially in “The Hand of God,” a pivotal episode in which the show’s dazzling visual effects get a particularly impressive showcase. Original BG series star Richard Hatch appears in two politically charged episodes (he’s a better actor now, too), and with the threat of civil war among the fleet, season 1 ends with an exceptional cliffhanger that’s totally unexpected while connecting the plot threads of all preceding episodes. To the credit of everyone involved, this is frackin’ good television.

    DVD features
    The fifth disc in Battlestar Galactica‘s season 1 set is highlighted by eight comprehensive featurettes covering all aspects of the series, from its miniseries origins to standard surveys of production design, visual effects, and particulars of plot and character. For hardcore fans and anyone interested in TV production, nine out of 13 episodes, plus the disc 1 miniseries, are accompanied by intelligent and informative commentary originally provided as BG website podcasts, mostly by series developer and writer Ronald D. Moore, who provides tantalizing clues about developments in season 2. The “Series Lowdown” is a cast-and-crew promotional program originally broadcast to attract SciFi Channel viewers who were initially reluctant to embrace a “reimagined” Battlestar Galactica. The strategy worked: First-season ratings left no doubt that the new BG was as good as–and in many ways better than–the original. –Jeff Shannon

    Battlestar Galactica - Season 2.0 (Episodes 1-10)

    Battlestar Galactica – Season 2.0 (Episodes 1-10)

    Season 2.5 (Episodes 11-20)

    Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.5 (Episodes 11-20)

    Battlestar Galactica – Season Three

    Battlestar Galactica – Razor (Unrated Extended Cut)

    Product Details

    • Actors: Edward James Olmos
    • Format: AC-3, Animated, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rating:
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: December 4, 2007
    • Run Time: 101 minutes

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    Battlestar Galactica: Razor was an oasis for BSG fans–when the double-length episode aired in November 2007, it was the only new material broadcast during the 12-month gap between seasons 3 and 4. But although it sets up some events in season 4, chronologically Razor is a prequel taking place within season 2, when Galactica had unexpectedly met up with a fellow Battlestar, Pegasus. The central character is new, Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Jacobsen), who becomes the XO after Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber) takes command of the Pegasus. Shaw’s promotion is controversial among Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) and others because Shaw learned the trade under the previous commander of the Pegasus, Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes), who lived by her own wartime rules. The central conflict in Razor involves the Pegasus trying to rescue a Raptor crew from the Cylons. During the mission Shaw flashes back to 10 months earlier, and her experiences in the immediate aftermath of the Cylons’ wipeout of Caprica influence how she handles this mission and its implications of a new Cylon-human hybrid. Razor is a riveting adventure, full of the top writing, great acting, and dark end-of-humanity vision that makes Battlestar Galactica the best show on television (that is, when it’s actually on). Fans will also enjoy the appearance of old-school Cylons, and the revelation that Gaius is not the only one who fell for the wiles of Number 6 (Tricia Helfer).

    The unrated and extended DVD runs 103 minutes, about 16 minutes longer than the Sci-Fi Channel broadcast. There’s a brief bit of extra gore from Admiral Cain, and young William “Husker” Adama’s (Nico Cortez, nicely channeling Edward James Olmos) mission in the last days of the first Cylon war is now 10 minutes instead of 5, including a spectacular aerial battle. In another new sequence, at the moment when Cain tells Shaw “Sometimes we have to leave people behind so that we can go on,” there’s a flashback to Cain’s experiences in the first Cylon war. Among the bonus features is the complete 19-minute minisode version of Husker’s Cylon encounter (previously viewable on Sci-Fi Channel’s website) and two deleted scenes. Featurettes include “The Look of Battlestar Galactica” and “My Favorite Episode So Far” (“33” gets a lot of mentions from the cast and crew), and there are a trailer and 2.5-minute “sneak peek” at season 4 (mostly interviewing people who don’t know what’s going to happen, though Tricia Helfer mentions a new version of herself). In a commentary track for the extended edition, executive producer Ronald D. Moore and writer Michael Taylor discuss how the episode came together (they refer to Razor as episodes as 1-2 of season 4) amid some serious restructuring and bits of trivia, such as how they cast Stephanie Jacobsen in the pivotal role even though she had never watched the show. —David Horiuchi

    Battlestar Galactica 1980 – The Complete Epic Series

    Product Details

    • Directors: Vince Edwards
    • Format: Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 2
    • Rating:
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: December 23, 2007
    • Run Time: 481 minutes

    Editorial Reviews

    Product Description
    Galactica 1980 lands on DVD for the first time ever! With all ten thrilling episodes on two discs, see what happens when the original Battlestar Galactica crew finally makes the long-anticipated descent to Earth. With time running out and the Cylons closing in on their trail, Commander Adama and the Galactica must work harder than ever before to help Earth create the technology necessary for battle. Along for the action-packed fight are such stellar guest stars as Dirk Benedict, Brion James, Dennis Haysbert and more! It’s an epic adventure unlike any other, and an absolute must-have for any Battlestar Galactica collection!

    Star Trek The Original Series - The Complete Seasons 1-3

    Star Trek The Original Series – The Complete Seasons 1-3

    Product Details

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    The facts have become legend. Star Trek, the NBC series that premiered on September 8, 1966, has become a touchstone of international popular culture. It struggled through three seasons that included cancellation and last-minute revival, and turned its creator, Gene Roddenberry, into the progenitor of an intergalactic phenomenon. Eventually expanding to encompass five separate TV series, an ongoing slate of feature films, and a fan base larger than the population of many third-world countries, the Star Trek universe began not with a Big Bang but with a cautious experiment in network TV programming. Even before its premiere episode (“The Man Trap”) was aired, Star Trek had struggled to attain warp-drive velocity, barely making it into the fall ’66 NBC lineup.

    The series’ original pilot, “The Cage,” featured Jeffrey Hunter as U.S.S. Enterprise captain Christopher Pike–a variation of the role that would eventually catapult William Shatner to TV stardom. Filmed in 1964, the pilot was rejected by NBC the following year, but the network made a rare decision to order a second pilot. “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was filmed in 1965, and only one character from the previous pilot remained–a pointy-eared alien named Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy), whom Roddenberry had retained despite network disapproval. The second pilot was accepted, and production on Star Trek began in earnest with the filming of its first regular episode, “The Corbomite Maneuver.”

    Never a ratings success despite a growing population of devoted fans, Star Trek was canceled after its second season, prompting a letter-writing campaign that resulted in the series’ third-season renewal. It was a mixed blessing, since Roddenberry had departed as producer to protest the network’s neglect, and Star Trek‘s third season contained most of the series’ weakest episodes. And yet, the show continued to “to explore strange new worlds…to seek out new life and new civilizations…to boldly go where no man [a phrase later amended to “no one”] has gone before.”

    There were milestones along the way. The first interracial kiss on network primetime TV (between Shatner and series co-star Nichelle Nichols) furthered a richly positive and expansive view of a better, nobler future for humankind. The series offered a timelessly appealing balance of humor, imagination, and character depth. And at least one episode (Harlan Ellison’s “The City on the Edge of Forever”) ranks among the finest science fiction stories in any popular medium. Beloved by long-time fans in spite of its cheesy sets and costumes, and the now-dated trappings of late-1960s American culture, “classic Trek” has aged remarkably well, and its sense of adventure and idealism continues to live long and prosper. –Jeff Shannon

    The three 2004 DVD sets collect all 79 episodes of the show, including “The Cage” in both a restored color version and the original, never-aired version that alternates between color and black and white. Each set is supplemented by over an hour of featurettes incorporating new and old interviews with Shatner, Nimoy, other cast members, and producers, and there’s also some vintage footage of Gene Roddenberry. Accompanying the 20-minute seasonal recaps (“To Boldly Go…”) are a number of interesting featurettes: “The Birth of a Timeless Legacy” examines the two pilot episodes and the development of the crew; “Sci-Fi Visionaries” discusses the series’ great science fiction writers; Nimoy debunks various rumors in “Reflections of Spock”; “Kirk, Spock & Bones: The Great Trio” focuses on the interplay among Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley); and, in what is probably his last Star Trek appearance, James Doohan (Scotty), slowed by Alzheimer’s but still with a twinkle in his eye, recalls his voiceover roles and his favorite episodes. As they’ve done for many of the feature-film special editions, Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda provide a pop-up text commentary on four of the episodes filled with history, trivia, and dry wit. It’s the first commentary of any kind for a Star Trek TV show, but an audio commentary is still overdue. The technical specs are mostly the same as other Trek TV series–Dolby 5.1, English subtitles–but with the welcome addition of the episode trailers. The plastic cases are an attempt to replicate some of the fun packaging of the series’ European DVD releases, but it’s a bit clunky, and the paper sleeve around the disc case seems awkward and crude. Still, the sets are a vast improvement both in terms of shelf space and bonus features compared to the old two-episode discs, which were released before full-season boxed sets became the model for television DVDs. –David Horiuchi
    Product Description
    Space. The Final Frontier. The U.S.S. Enterprise embarks on a five year mission to explore the galaxy. The Enterprise is under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. The First Officer is Mr. Spock, from the planet Vulcan. The Chief Medical Officer is Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy. With a determined crew, the Enterprise encounters Klingons, Romulans, time paradoxes, tribbles and genetic supermen lead by Khan Noonian Singh. Their mission is to explore strange new worlds, to seek new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

    The Next Generation - Complete Series

    Star Trek: The Next Generation – Complete Series

    Product Details

    • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, NTSC
    • Language: English, Spanish
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 49
    • Rating:
    • Studio: Paramount
    • DVD Release Date: October 2, 2007
    • Run Time: 8085 minutes

    Amazon.com
    After Star Wars and the successful big-screen Star Trek adventures, it’s perhaps not so surprising that Gene Roddenberry managed to convince purse string-wielding studio heads in the 1980s that a Next Generation would be both possible and profitable. But the political climate had changed considerably since the 1960s, the Cold War had wound down, and we were now living in the Age of Greed. To be successful a second time, Star Trek had to change too.

    A writer’s guide was composed with which to sell and define where the Trek universe was in the 24th Century. The United Federation of Planets was a more appealing ideology to an America keen to see where the Reagan/Gorbachev faceoff was taking them. Starfleet’s meritocratic philosophy had always embraced all races and species. Now Earth’s utopian history, featuring the abolishment of poverty, was brandished prominently and proudly. The new Enterprise, NCC 1701-D, was no longer a ship of war but an exploration vessel carrying families. The ethical and ethnical flagship also carried a former enemy (the Klingon Worf, played by Michael Dorn), and its Chief Engineer (Geordi LaForge) was blind and black. From every politically correct viewpoint, Paramount executives thought the future looked just swell!

    Roddenberry’s feminism now contrasted a pilot episode featuring ship’s Counsellor Troi (Marina Sirtis) in a mini-skirt with her ongoing inner strengths and also those of Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) and the short-lived Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby). The arrival of Whoopi Goldberg in season 2 as mystic barkeep Guinan is a great example of the good the original Trek did for racial groups–Goldberg has stated that she was inspired to become an actress in large part through seeing Nichelle Nichols’ Uhura. Her credibility as an actress helped enormously alongside the strong central performances of Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard), Jonathan Frakes (First Officer Will Riker), and Brent Spiner (Data) in defining another wholly believable environment once again populated with well-defined characters. Star Trek, it turned out, did not depend for its success on any single group of actors.

    Like its predecessor in the 1960s, TNG pioneered visual effects on TV, making it an increasingly jaw-dropping show to look at. And thanks also to the enduring success of the original show, phasers, tricorders, communicators and even phase inverters were already familiar to most viewers. But while technology was a useful tool in most crises, it now frequently seemed to be the cause of them too, as the show’s writers continually warned about the dangers of over-reliance on technology (the Borg were the ultimate expression of this maxim). The word “technobabble” came to describe a weakness in many TNG scripts, which sacrificed the social and political allegories of the original and relied instead upon invented technological faults and their equally fictitious resolutions to provide drama within the Enterprise‘s self-contained society. (The holodeck’s safety protocol override seemed to be next to the light switch given the number of times crew members were trapped within.) This emphasis on scientific jargon appealed strongly to an audience who were growing up for the first time in the late 1980s with the home computer–and gave rise to the clichéd image of the nerdy Trek fan.

    Like in the original Trek, it was in the stories themselves that much of the show’s success is to be found. That pesky Prime Directive kept moral dilemmas afloat (“Justice”/”Who Watches the Watchers?”/”First Contact”). More “what if” scenarios came out of time-travel episodes (“Cause and Effect”/”Time’s Arrow”/”Yesterday’s Enterprise”). And there were some episodes that touched on the political world, such as “The Arsenal of Freedom” questioning the supply of arms, “Chain of Command” decrying the torture of political prisoners and “The Defector”, which was called “The Cuban Missile Crisis of The Neutral Zone” by its writer. The show ran for more than twice as many episodes as its progenitor and therefore had more time to explore wider ranging issues. But the choice of issues illustrates the change in the social climate that had occurred with the passing of a couple of decades. “Angel One” covered sexism; “The Outcast” was about homosexuality; “Symbiosis”–drug addiction; “The High Ground”–terrorism; “Ethics”–euthanasia; “Darmok”–language barriers; and “Journey’s End”–displacement of Indians from their homeland. It would have been unthinkable for the original series to have tackled most of these.

    TNG could so easily have been a failure, but it wasn’t. It survived a writer’s strike in its second year, the tragic death of Roddenberry just after Trek‘s 25th anniversary in 1991, and plenty of competition from would-be rival franchises. Yes, its maintenance of an optimistic future was appealing, but the strong stories and readily identifiable characters ensured the viewers’ continuing loyalty. —Paul Tonks
    Product Description
    Finally, the complete, epic sci-fi television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation is available in a complete series set for the first time ever. Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the landmark series and own all 176 classic episodes in one definitive collector’s boxed set, featuring all-new special features. This is the definitive release that fans have been waiting for!

    NOTE: The other series are in Parts II & III.

    Star Trek Movie Set (The Motion Picture/ The Wrath of Khan/ The Search for Spock/ The Voyage Home/ The Final Frontier/ The Undiscovered Country/ Generations/ First Contact/ Insurrection/ Nemesis)

    Star Trek Movie Set (The Motion Picture/ The Wrath of Khan/ The Search for Spock/ The Voyage Home/ The Final Frontier/ The Undiscovered Country/ Generations/ First Contact/ Insurrection/ Nemesis)

    Product Details

    • Actors: Star Trek
    • Format: Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
    • Language: English, Spanish
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
    • Number of discs: 20
    • Rating:
    • Studio: Paramount
    • DVD Release Date: October 4, 2005
    • Run Time: 1141 minutes

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    Spanning two decades and countless light years of interstellar adventure, Star Trek: The Motion Pictures Collection is a testament to the enduring goodwill of Gene Roddenberry’s optimistic sci-fi concept. Long before Star Wars sparked an explosion of big-screen science fiction, Roddenberry had planned a second Star Trek TV series; the project fizzled, but its pilot script evolved into the first film in Paramount’s most lucrative movie franchise. Despite its sluggish pace and bland “pajama” costuming, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) offered a welcomed reunion of the “Classic Trek” cast, packed with Douglas Trumbull’s still-dazzling special effects. Trekkers were even more ecstatic when The Wrath of Khan (1982) revived the spirit of the original series, even though director Nicholas Meyer was a Trek neophyte. With Leonard Nimoy directing, The Search for Spock (1984) began where Khan left off, with a thrilling (albeit contrived) obligation to resurrect the formerly ill-fated Mr. Spock.

    A box-office smash, Nimoy’s The Voyage Home (1986) is the franchise’s most accessible adventure–a high point offset by William Shatner’s comparatively dreadful Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989). Meyer (and his penchant for quoting Shakespeare) returned for The Undiscovered Country (1991), a conspiracy thriller that put the series back on track, inspiring fans to invoke the “even number” rule in rating their franchise favorites. Generations (1994) gracefully passed the torch to TV’s The Next Generation, bidding farewell to Captain Kirk with honor and integrity intact. Highlighted by the evolving humanity of Brent Spiner’s android Lt. Cmdr. Data, First Contact (1996) explored Star Trek history with a logical (hint) surprise encounter, and Insurrection (1998) provided an adequate expansion of the successful NextGen series. Taken as a whole, these ten films demonstrate the consistent vitality of Roddenberry’s original vision, stoking any Trekker’s appetite for “ongoing missions” in Nemesis and beyond. –Jeff Shannon Most of the feature films were released early in the DVD era, but are represented here in their vastly improved two-disc special editions, which boast widescreen anamorphic pictures, director’s cuts of the first two films, numerous commentary tracks by cast and crew, humorous and informative trivia subtitle tracks by Michael and Denise Okuda, and a wide variety of new and vintage documentaries and galleries.

    Babylon 5 - The Movie Collection

    Babylon 5 – The Movie Collection

    Product Details

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    The Babylon 5 pilot movie The Gathering was originally broadcast in 1993 a full year ahead of the regular show. A somewhat dull tale of an attempt to assassinate Koch, the Vorlon ambassador to B5, the feature served to introduce Commander Jeffery Sinclair (Michael O’Hare) and Security Chief Michael Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle) as well as familiarize the audience with the unique environment of a five-mile-long space station in the year 2257. Missing many of the main cast, and suffering from a leaden pace and mediocre music score, series creator J Michael Straczynski later improved The Gathering by tightening the cut for a special edition (the version released on DVD), adding some deleted character moments and commissioning a new score from series composer Christopher Franke.

    Four new TV movies were part of the deal to syndicate Babylon 5. In the Beginning is a prelude set 10 years before Babylon 5, telling the story of the Earth-Minbari war. Told retrospectively, many of the mysteries revealed gradually in the main series are recounted, making the show a collection of spoilers for newcomers while adding little for established fans. It is effective to see events only previously talked about, and enjoyable to have most of the main cast playing younger versions of themselves. River of Souls is a self-contained adventure featuring a return of the Soul Hunters from Season One, while Thirdspace offers a spectacular Lovecraftian space opera which slots into the saga after the end of the Shadow War. A Call to Arms is the most important of the TV films, laying the ground for the future TV series Crusade. Set five years after the Shadow War, it tells the story of a Drahk revenge attack on Earth. A final showcase for Bruce Boxleitner as Sheridan, the story fits between fifth-season episodes “Objects at Rest” and “Sleeping in Light.” The cliffhanger ending sets the scene for new starship Excalibur to boldly go on a five-year mission to explore strange new worlds and find a cure for the Shadow virus infecting the Earth. –Gary S. Dalkin
    Product Description
    First time on DVD! Initiate jump sequence for feature-length tales about key events in the B5 chronology.”

    Crusade - The Complete Series

    Crusade – The Complete Series

    Product Details

    • Actors: Alex Mendoza
    • Directors: Tony Dow
    • Format: AC-3, Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
    • Language: English
    • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 4
    • Rating:
    • Studio: Warner Home Video
    • DVD Release Date: December 7, 2004
    • Run Time: 576 minutes

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com
    The first and only spin-off of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski’s short-lived sci-fi series Crusade had its roots in the B5 television movie A Call to Arms, in which Earth was battling a Drakh invasion at the end of the Shadow Wars. When Crusade begins, the Drakh have released a deadly virus that threatens to wipe out all 10 billion humans living on Earth unless a cure can be found in five years. To take on this monumental task, Captain Matthew Gideon (Gary Cole) is assigned command of the state-of-the-art Destroyer-class ship Excalibur. His crew includes telepath John Matheson (Daniel Dae Kim); pompous but brilliant archaeologist-linguist Max Eilerson (David Allen Brooks); Dureena, a member of the Thieves’ Guild and the last surviving member of her species (Carrie Dobro); medical officer Sarah Chambers (Marjean Holden); and technomage Galen (Peter Woodward).

    While Babylon 5 had five years to develop into a powerful saga, Crusade had its plug pulled after a mere 13 episodes (which were reordered for TNT’s broadcast), and the series never really got its footing. Galen often took center stage, then disappeared for several episodes. Matheson was underutilized (other than to provide fans with clues about what happened in the Psi-Wars after B5 ended), and tough-guy Gideon bounced back and forth between his desire to save the human race and his own moral code. There were some good action scenes and intriguing concepts (developed in conjunction with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory). Special effects sometimes were impressive and sometimes showed budget constraints, and we never really saw the power and scope of the mile-and-a-half-long ship, other than the cool bullet cars used to traverse its length. But it did have its moments. If B5 was the spiritual companion to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with its space-station setting and long story arc, Crusade was more like a traditional Star Trek setting, with mostly stand-alone episodes involving first contact with various species (even if, due to the nature of the Excalibur‘s quest, such species were usually extinct). And there were occasional tantalizing hints of a broader conspiracy that might have allowed the series to soar. Regardless, B5 fans will welcome even a brief opportunity to revisit this universe, especially when the Excalibur visits the station in “The Rules of the Game.” John Sheridan’s ex-wife Captain Elizabeth Lochley (Tracy Scoggins) even earned a spot in the opening credits for her appearance in a few episodes. –David Horiuchi
    Product Description
    Another Thrilling Reach Into Tomorrow From The Creator of Babylon 5! 2267 A.D. The battle is won, the war may be lost. After fending off the fierce attack of Drakh combatants, Earth faces an unseen yet even greater foe. The Drakhs have left behind…

    So, Sci-Fi fans. Sit back, get all your snacks ready, and sit down for a looong marathon of viewing pleasure….

    Classic Reads for Pre-teens and Teens – some old, some new

    This is a list of classic books, both old and new or “instant classics” for the younger set. Some are suitable for reading aloud (esp. the ones marked as best for 4-8 yr olds), and all are suitable for most ages over 8. Even older teens might like the ones marked for younger readers. Because these are “classics,” the age boundaries are more for reading/comprehension level, rather than a guide to content, with some noted exceptions. You will most likely see one or more of your favorites on this list – if not, they may be on Part II, or Part III or I simply forgot them. As I was compiling this list, I had forgotten how many of these books I owned as a child (and still have!), and how many I had bought for my girls. Feel free to leave a comment or a “post” in the Meebo box (that one is private for my eyes only) if there are books that were your favorites that you’d like to share.

    They make a fine library for any young teen, including boys. Although they may not have the patience at first glance for the “classics,” (how many middle school guys would sit down and read Little Men? <grin> ), there are plenty here to interest them – books on war, dogs, wolves, adventure, etc. Classics are often a great way to get reluctant readers going, as they have stood the test of time. If you have a “reluctant” reader, try to “vet” the books ahead of time to see if the writing style is not too cumbersome, or is at a level suitable for your reader. There is nothing more frustrating and will turn off a child to reading faster than a book that’s too difficult, either in content, vocabulary, or writing style. Also, consider reading aloud, even to teens – they love the time and attention, and it gives you an excuse to reread an old favorite, or find a new one. I did it with both my girls. I still read occasionally to my 14 yr old, although my health prevented me from doing it every night, so it fell away somewhat.

    I invite you to look through the list, and find some that might make suitable reading or read-a-loud stories to share. What I did find sad was that although many of these classics are still in print, it was hard to find a book description or review on Amazon, my main source for such material. They seem to think that classics don’t need a description – but many are either unfamiliar to some people, or they can’t recall the age group, or thy may just need a refresher.

    Also, check the editions to make sure they are not audio books or abridged versions, unless you want an abridged edition – many of the “older age” classics are available in various age editions. Some of the greatest classics are available in reprints of the original, or as beautiful new editions, with gorgeous illustrations, in hardcover, and even boxed sets. Some of the classic series are also available in boxed sets. If there are more than one book to a series, I tried not to cover those, or too many books by a single author, with a few exceptions of those that are perennially popular. As usual, this list is my own, and as such, is arbitrary in choices, but I tried to include a wide variety.

    I’ll start with my all-time favorite (next to Anne of Green Gables of course…)

    Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

    Snow Treasure

    Ages 9-12. “Grade 3-6-Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan (Scholastic, pap. 1986) is an exciting, suspenseful tale of Norwegian children and their contributions to protecting their town’s gold during the German occupation in 1940. Convinced that the Germans will try to steal their town’s considerable wealth of gold bouillon from the banks, the townsmen decide that it must be removed. Since a group of adults can’t remove the gold without the Germans finding out, the townsmen develop a daring plan involving the children. In teams, the children will carry the bouillon on their sleds down to the river where one of the townsmen will load them onto his ship to take to the United States. Various problems arise as the children begin to carry out this plan, but they are resolved. ” Library Journal

    This book was one of my favorites as a teen – I found copies and gave them to both my daughters, to make sure the tradition continues.

    From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

    Ages 9-12. “After reading this book, I guarantee that you will never visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or any wonderful, old cavern of a museum) without sneaking into the bathrooms to look for Claudia and her brother Jamie. They’re standing on the toilets, still, hiding until the museum closes and their adventure begins. Such is the impact of timeless novels . . . they never leave us. E. L. Konigsburg won the 1967 Newbery Medal for this tale of how Claudia and her brother run away to the museum in order to teach their parents a lesson. Little do they know that mystery awaits!” Amazon

    Secret Agents Four by Donald J. Sobol

    Secret Agents Four (Adventure Library)

    Ages 9-12. “Donald J. Sobol, author of the beloved Encyclopedia Brown series, weaves a wonderfully funny and entertaining mystery in Secret Agents Four. With his characteristic wit and elegant, compact prose, Sobol takes the reader on a adventurous journey with four wacky “secret agents” who are trying to save Miami from a terrible fate. I loved this book as a kid. Re-reading it as an adult convinced me that Sobol’s work is as current and enjoyable as any fiction for young readers available today. If you love adventure and mystery, this book is for you.” Amazon Customer Review

    Escape from Warsaw (Original title: The Silver Sword) by Ian Serraillier

    Escape from Warsaw (Original title: The Silver Sword)

    Ages 9-12. “This little book is based on a true story, and it’s one of the most exciting and amazing stories to emerge out of the heartbreak of World War II. It’s an incredible narrative about one family’s tragedy and redemption, and the lives that they touch along the way. The will to live and survive, among even the youngest children in the family, is incredibly moving and inspiring. I read this story nearly 30 years ago when I was not yet a teen, and it stayed with me. I’ve read it often since and shared it with many friends, including a few Poles who found it very touching and encouraging…a great source of national pride. At times, the story will take your breath away. I would give it more stars if I could…it’s that good.” Amazon Customer Review

    The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

    Ages 9-12. “Although the copy sitting on my shelf is the dog-eared Scholastic version of my youth, not this new edition, I feel that every child who has ever looked at a horse with wonder, seen it as a thing of beauty and nobility, or dreamed of having a horse of his or her own, should read this excellent series, beginning with this very book.

    A fascinating and fantastical story of sea rescue, perseverance, and courage, as well as a peek into the world of horse racing half a century ago, these stories, despite being written in 1941, have a timeless quality that will always capture the heart of any adventurer.” Amazon Customer Review

    National Velvet by Enid Bagnold

    Ages 9-12. “The timeless story of spirited Velvet Brown and her beloved horse has thrilled generations of readers. And now the republication of this classic story in a fresh, up-to-date package will charm confirmed fans while captivating new ones. Fourteen-year-old Velvet is determined to turn her untamed horse into a champion and personally ride him to victory in the world’s greatest steeplechase, the Grand National.” B0ok Description

    Heidi by Johanna Spyri

    Ages 6-10. “Johanna Spyri’s classic story of a young orphan sent to live with her grumpy grandfather in the Swiss Alps is retold in it’s entirety in this beautifully bound hardcover edition. Heidi has charmed and intrigued readers since it’s original publication in 1880. Much more than a children’s story, the narrative is also a lesson on the precarious nature of freedom, a luxury too often taken for granted. Heidi almost loses her liberty as she is ripped away from the tranquility of the mountains to tend to a sick cousin in the city. Happily, all’s well that ends well, and the reader is left with only warm, fuzzy thoughts. Spryi’s story will never grow wearisome–and this is a very appealing edition.” Amazon

    This version is an abridged one – the original is for older, more mature readers.

    The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling

    Ages 9-12. “No child should be allowed to grow up without reading The Jungle Books. Published in 1894 and 1895, the stories crackle with as much life and intensity as ever. Rudyard Kipling pours fuel on childhood fantasies with his tales of Mowgli, lost in the jungles of India as a child and adopted into a family of wolves. Mowgli is brought up on a diet of Jungle Law, loyalty, and fresh meat from the kill. Regular adventures with his friends and enemies among the Jungle-People–cobras, panthers, bears, and tigers–hone this man-cub’s strength and cleverness and whet every reader’s imagination. Mowgli’s story is interspersed with other tales of the jungle, such as “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” lending depth and diversity to our understanding of Kipling’s India. In much the same way Mowgli is carried away by the Bandar-log monkeys, young readers will be caught up by the stories, swinging from page to page, breathless, thrilled, and terrified. (Ages 9 to 12)Amazon

    Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Ages 12 and up. “Gr 7 Up-The archetypal sea-faring adventure story is given another rousing and dramatic rendition in this quickly paced abridged entry in Hodder’s top-flight Classic Collection series. The critical plot and subplot threads have been beautifully retained, and all the classic lines like “shiver me timbers” have been included.” School Library Journal

    Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

    Ages 4-8 (as a read-a-loud). “All children, except one, grow up.” Thus begins a great classic of children’s literature that we all remember as magical. What we tend to forget, because the tale of Peter Pan and Neverland has been so relentlessly boiled down, hashed up, and coated in saccharine, is that J.M. Barrie’s original version is also witty, sophisticated, and delightfully odd. The Darling children, Wendy, John, and Michael, live a very proper middle-class life in Edwardian London, but they also happen to have a Newfoundland for a nurse. The text is full of such throwaway gems as “Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter Pan when she was tidying up her children’s minds,” and is peppered with deliberately obscure vocabulary including “embonpoint,” “quietus,” and “pluperfect.” Lest we forget, it was written in 1904, a relatively innocent age in which a plot about abducted children must have seemed more safely fanciful. Also, perhaps, it was an age that expected more of its children’s books, for Peter Pan has a suppleness, lightness, and intelligence that are “literary” in the best sense. In a typical exchange with the dastardly Captain Hook, Peter Pan describes himself as “youth… joy… a little bird that has broken out of the egg,” and the author interjects: “This, of course, was nonsense; but it was proof to the unhappy Hook that Peter did not know in the least who or what he was, which is the very pinnacle of good form.” A book for adult readers-aloud to revel in–and it just might teach young listeners to fly. (Ages 5 and older).” Amazon

    The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss

    The Swiss Family Robinson (Penguin Classics)

    Ages 10 and up. “One of the world’s best-loved stories of shipwreck and survival, The Swiss Family Robinson portrays a family’s struggle to create a new life for themselves on a strange and fantastic tropical island. Blown off course by a raging storm, the family—a Swiss pastor, his wife, their four young sons, plus two dogs and a shipload of livestock—must rely on one another in order to adapt to their needs the natural wonders of their exotic new home. Inspired by Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, this classic story of invention and adventure has fired the imaginations of readers since it first appeared in 1812. Freely translated over the years, with major sections excised and new subplots added, the novel is published here in its original English translation, fully restored for a new generation of readers.” Book Description

    Oliver Twist (A Stepping Stone Book Classic) by Charles Dickens

    Ages 4-8. “Oliver Twist is a desperate orphan. A gang of thieves takes him in and teaches him to steal, but then he is caught. What will become of poor Oliver Twist? Kids can find out in this easy-to-read chapter book adaptation of the Dickens classic.” Book Description

    NOTE: Many of the older classics are available in abridged or rewritten versions for various ages, thus heightening awareness of great literature from an early age. I recommend reading to the kids books that they will read in high school or as an adult. Or play a game of Children’s Authors version of the old card game – “The Children’s Authors Card Game features 13 writers who have touched children’s imaginations through their delightful books. Rule card included. Authors include: Dr. Seuss,,A. A. Milne, Meindert Dejong, Rudyard Kipling, Hans Christian Anderson, Lewis Carroll, Charles Perrault, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Brothers Grimm, Joel Chandler Harris, Issac Bashevis Singer, Beatrix Potter, J. M. Barrie.”

    Playing this game introduced us to some of the authors on this list like Singer, Harris, and Dejong.

    Oliver Twist (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens and Philip Horne

    Oliver Twist (Penguin Classics)

    Ages Y/A and adult. “Novel by Charles Dickens, published serially from 1837 to 1839 in Bentley’s Miscellany and in a three-volume book in 1838. The novel was the first of the author’s works to depict realistically the impoverished London underworld and to illustrate his belief that poverty leads to crime. Written shortly after adoption of the Poor Law of 1834, which halted government payments to the poor unless they entered workhouses, Oliver Twist used the tale of a friendless child, the foundling Oliver Twist, as a vehicle for social criticism. While the novel is Victorian in its emotional appeal, it is decidedly unsentimental in its depiction of poverty and the criminal underworld, especially in its portrayal of the cruel Bill Sikes, who kills his kindly girlfriend Nancy for helping Oliver and who is himself accidentally hung by his own rope.” Merriam Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

    Ages 9 and up. “Sparkling with mischief, jumping with youthful adventure, Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer is one of the most splendid re-creations of childhood in all of literature. It is a lighthearted romp, full of humor and warmth. It shares with its sequel, Huckleberry Finn, not only a set of unforgettable characters–Tom, Huck, Aunt Polly and others–but a profound understanding of humanity as well. Through such hilarious scenes as the famous fence-whitewashing incident, Twain gives a portrait–perceptive yet tender–of a humanity rendered foolish by his own aspirations and obsessions. Written as much for adults as for young boys and girls, Tom Sawyer is the work of a master storyteller performing in his shirt sleeves, using his best talents to everyone’s delight.” Book Description

    Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

    Black Beauty

    Ages 9-12 and up. “A horse is a horse of course unless of course the horse is Black Beauty. Animal-loving children have been devoted to Black Beauty throughout this century, and no doubt will continue through the next. Although Anna Sewell’s classic paints a clear picture of turn-of-the-century London, its message is universal and timeless: animals will serve humans well if they are treated with consideration and kindness.

    Black Beauty tells the story of the horse’s own long and varied life, from a well-born colt in a pleasant meadow to an elegant carriage horse for a gentleman to a painfully overworked cab horse. Throughout, Sewell rails–in a gentle, 19th-century way–against animal maltreatment. Young readers will follow Black Beauty’s fortunes, good and bad, with gentle masters as well as cruel. Children can easily make the leap from horse-human relationships to human-human relationships, and begin to understand how their own consideration of others may be a benefit to all. (Ages 9 to 12).” Amazon

    Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge

    Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates (Dover Evergreen Classics)

    Ages 6 and up. “Set against a backdrop of frozen canals in a winter wonderland, the year’s most exciting event in a little Dutch village is about to take place. But will Hans Brinker and his sister Gretel, with their hand-carved wooden skates, be able to compete against their well-trained young friends who own fine steel blades?” Book Description

    “HANS BRINKER was my best boyhood dream. Could I, if I tried terribly hard, become somebody like him? What a shame that hardly anybody knows Hans Brinker anymore. I am delighted that he is being brought back to life.” Lewis Smedes, Fuller Theological Seminary

    The Moffats by Eleanor Estes

    Ages 9-12. “Who else but a member of the Moffat family could, during kindergarten recess, accidentally hitch a ride out of town on a boxcar? Or wind up trapped in the breadbox outside the delicatessen store? Or kindly offer to escort the Salvation Army man to his destination–only to accidentally bump him out of his own horse-drawn wagon? The Moffats is a paradigm of old-fashioned family fun. Four children and a hard-working widowed mother live together on New Dollar Street in the village of Cranbury. Their seemingly quiet lives are studded with almost daily unexpected adventures, with droll results.

    This charming book has been making readers smile for over half a century. It reflects a gentler era, when the jolly chief of police had time to sit on the curb to hear a little girl’s “crimes” and a little boy’s escapade on a train was not cause for media panic, just a simple redirecting by the agreeable engineer. Eleanor Estes, author of the Newbery Honor book The Hundred Dresses, and Caldecott medalist Louis Slobodkin (Many Moons) make a lovely team in this story of benign humor and sweet times. (Ages 8 to 12).” Amazon

    Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls

    Ages 12 and up. “Jay Berry Lee is happy until the summer he is 14 years old and discovers monkeys living in the creek bottoms near his parents’ homestead. Set in the late 1800s, Summer of the Monkeys traces the boy’s adventures as he attempts to capture 29 monkeys that have (it turns out) escaped from the circus. With somewhat dubious help from his grandfather, and over the objections of his mother, Jay goes about discovering that monkeys are much smarter and harder to catch than he thought possible. Woven into this story is a second theme about his physically disabled sister and the family’s attempts to find money for an operation. As funny and touching as Wilson Rawls’s Where the Red Fern Grows, this book will appeal to the young reader who has always wished for the freedom to run wild through the woods with nothing more pressing to do than find another rabbit hole–or escaped monkey. (Ages 12 and older).” Amazon

    Hurry Home, Candy by Meindert Dejong

    Ages 9-12. “The dog was lost. He had no name, and no one to love him. He has only the silent, empty countryside, and a few crumbs and bare bones he could pick up. He had only himself, and he was afraid. Along the way, the little dog found a few friends, people who gave him shelter for a while, but always he moved on — until he found a place he could call home forever.” Book Description

    The Wheel on the School by Meindert Dejong

    Ages 9-12. “Grade 4-7-This 1955 Newbery Award-winner by Meindert Dejojng, set in a small Dutch fishing village, tells the story of a young girl and her simple composition about the storks that build their nests in neighboring villages. When the children wonder why the storks don’t nest in their village, the stage is set for a dramatic challenge against all odds.” Amazon

    Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer

    Ages 9-12. “The story takes place in New York City in the 1890s, during the year of 10-year-old Lucinda’s “orphanage.” That’s Lucinda’s term for her situation when her parents go to Italy and leave her in the care of Miss Peters and Miss Nettie. Lucinda, enjoying her freedom, explores the city on roller skates and makes friends wherever she goes. She reads Shakespeare with her uncle, puts on her own production of The Tempest, creates a magical Christmas for a little girl from an impoverished family, helps a family protect their fruit stand from attacks by rowdy boys, and has picnics in a vacant lot , among other adventures.” School Library Journal

    All-of-a-kind Family by Sydney Taylor

    Ages 9-12. “There’s something to be said for a book that makes you wish you’d been part of a poor immigrant family living in New York’s upper east side on the eve of World War I. Sydney Taylor’s time-honored classic does just that. Life is rich for the five mischievous girls in the family. They find adventure in visiting the library, going to market with Mama, even dusting the front room. Young readers who have never shared a bedroom with four siblings, with no television in sight, will vicariously experience the simple, old-fashioned pleasures of talk, make-believe, and pilfered penny candy. The family’s Jewish faith strengthens their ties to each other, while providing still more excitement and opportunity for mischief. Readers unfamiliar with Judaism will learn with the girls during each beautifully depicted holiday. This lively family, subject of four more “all-of-a- kind” books, is full of unique characters, all deftly illustrated by Helen John. Taylor based the stories on her own childhood family, and the true-life quality of her writing gives this classic its page-turning appeal. (Ages 9 to 12)” Amazon

    The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

    Ages 9-12. “”It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time,” Milo laments. “[T]here’s nothing for me to do, nowhere I’d care to go, and hardly anything worth seeing.” This bored, bored young protagonist who can’t see the point to anything is knocked out of his glum humdrum by the sudden and curious appearance of a tollbooth in his bedroom. Since Milo has absolutely nothing better to do, he dusts off his toy car, pays the toll, and drives through. What ensues is a journey of mythic proportions, during which Milo encounters countless odd characters who are anything but dull.

    Norton Juster received (and continues to receive) enormous praise for this original, witty, and oftentimes hilarious novel, first published in 1961. In an introductory “Appreciation” written by Maurice Sendak for the 35th anniversary edition, he states, “The Phantom Tollbooth leaps, soars, and abounds in right notes all over the place, as any proper masterpiece must.” Indeed.

    As Milo heads toward Dictionopolis he meets with the Whether Man (“for after all it’s more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be”), passes through The Doldrums (populated by Lethargarians), and picks up a watchdog named Tock (who has a giant alarm clock for a body). The brilliant satire and double entendre intensifies in the Word Market, where after a brief scuffle with Officer Short Shrift, Milo and Tock set off toward the Mountains of Ignorance to rescue the twin Princesses, Rhyme and Reason. Anyone with an appreciation for language, irony, or Alice in Wonderland-style adventure will adore this book for years on end. Amazon

    ” I read [The Phantom Tollbooth] first when I was 10. I still have the book report I wrote, which began ‘This is the best book ever.'” Anna Quindlen, The New York Times
    “A classic… Humorous, full of warmth and real invention.” The New Yorker

    This is a great one to sneak in some learning, especially math. It explains things in a clever, funny way.

    The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

    Ages 9-12. “One night, the sounds of New York City–the rumbling of subway trains, thrumming of automobile tires, hooting of horns, howling of brakes, and the babbling of voices–is interrupted by a sound that even Tucker Mouse, a jaded inhabitant of Times Square, has never heard before. Mario, the son of Mama and Papa Bellini, proprietors of the subway-station newsstand, had only heard the sound once. What was this new, strangely musical chirping? None other than the mellifluous leg-rubbing of the somewhat disoriented Chester Cricket from Connecticut. Attracted by the irresistible smell of liverwurst, Chester had foolishly jumped into the picnic basket of some unsuspecting New Yorkers on a junket to the country. Despite the insect’s wurst intentions, he ends up in a pile of dirt in Times Square.

    Mario is elated to find Chester. He begs his parents to let him keep the shiny insect in the newsstand, assuring his bug-fearing mother that crickets are harmless, maybe even good luck. What ensues is an altogether captivating spin on the city mouse/country mouse story, as Chester adjusts to the bustle of the big city. Despite the cricket’s comfortable matchbox bed (with Kleenex sheets); the fancy, seven-tiered pagoda cricket cage from Sai Fong’s novelty shop; tasty mulberry leaves; the jolly company of Tucker Mouse and Harry Cat; and even his new-found fame as “the most famous musician in New York City,” Chester begins to miss his peaceful life in the Connecticut countryside. The Cricket in Times Square–a Newbery Award runner-up in 1961–is charmingly illustrated by the well-loved Garth Williams, and the tiniest details of this elegantly spun, vividly told, surprisingly suspenseful tale will stick with children for years and years. Make sure this classic sits on the shelf of your favorite child, right next to The Wind in the Willows. (Ages 9 to 12).” Amazon

    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

    Ages 9-12. “Everyone in town thinks Meg is volatile and dull-witted and that her younger brother Charles Wallace is dumb. People are also saying that their father has run off and left their brilliant scientist mother. Spurred on by these rumors, Meg and Charles Wallace, along with their new friend Calvin, embark on a perilous quest through space to find their father. In doing so they must travel behind the shadow of an evil power that is darkening the cosmos, one planet at a time.

    Young people who have trouble finding their place in the world will connect with the “misfit” characters in this provocative story. This is no superhero tale, nor is it science fiction, although it shares elements of both. The travelers must rely on their individual and collective strengths, delving deep into their characters to find answers.

    A classic since 1962, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is sophisticated in concept yet warm in tone, with mystery and love coursing through its pages. Meg’s shattering yet ultimately freeing discovery that her father is not omnipotent provides a satisfying coming-of-age element. Readers will feel a sense of power as they travel with these three children, challenging concepts of time, space, and the power of good over evil. (Ages 9 to 12)” Amazon

    Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle

    Many Waters

    Ages 9-12. “We’ve all done it. In the frigid depths of winter we’ve wished we could be magically transported to someplace warm and sunny. But most people don’t have genius parents who just happen to be working on a scientific experiment with time travel at the moment of our wish. Sandy and Dennys Murry, the “normal” boys in a family of geniuses, suddenly find themselves trudging through a blazing-hot desert, seeking a far-off oasis for shade. Their desperate wandering brings them face-to-face with history–biblical history. Soon they’re feeling right at home with Noah and his family. Even so, the urgent question is, how will Sandy and Dennys get back to their own place and time before the floods–the many waters–come? As they begin to cross the invisible border into adulthood, the twins must confront their ability to resist temptation and embrace integrity.

    In Many Waters, Madeleine L’Engle continues the Murry family saga, which includes A Wrinkle in Time; A Wind in the Door; and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, which won the American Book Award. L’Engle’s mystical mix of science fiction and fantasy, time and space travel, history, morals, religion, and culture once again urges her many adoring readers to stretch their minds and hearts to understand why the world is the way it is. (Ages 9 and older)” Amazon

    Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

    Ages 8-12. “Ages 8-12. Thirty-two years before it was made into a movie, Harriet the Spy was a groundbreaking book: its unflinchingly honest portrayal of childhood problems and emotions changed children’s literature forever. Happily, it has neither dated nor become obsolete and remains one of the best children’s novels ever written. The fascinating story is about an intensely curious and intelligent girl, who literally spies on people and writes about them in her secret notebook, trying to make sense of life’s absurdities. When her classmates find her notebook and read her painfully blunt comments about them, Harriet finds herself a lonely outcast. Fitzhugh’s writing is astonishingly vivid, real and engaging, and Harriet, by no means a typical, loveable heroine, is one of literature’s most unforgettable characters. School Library Journal wrote, “a tour de force… bursts with life.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books called it “a very, very funny story.” And The Chicago Tribune raved, “brilliantly written… a superb portrait of an extraordinary child.” Amazon

    Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney

    Ages 4-8. “This is one of the seminal books of American children’s fiction. First published in 1881, eleven more volumes followed in the Pepper series, making Harriet Mulford Stone Lathrop internationally famous (as Margaret Sidney.) The series still enjoys wide readership today. It’s the story of how the Peppers cope with poverty and difficulty, always with courage and cheer, after the death of Mr. Pepper.” AudioFile

    “The Peppers’ good spirits, their love for each other, and their pleasure in simple homemade fun still charms me…. I wish them a long and happy life of at least another hundred years.” Betsy Byars

    Aesop’s Fables by Aesop

    Ages 4-8 and up. “Beautifully designed, this lush, oversize volume showcases Pinkney’s (The Ugly Duckling) artistry in grand style. There’s a king’s ransom worth of material here, as Pinkney serves up more than 60 of the ancient Greek slave-philosopher’s fables. Aesop’s wisdom spills across the pages as freely as Pinkney’s glorious watercolors, alight with the many creatures who people the tales, from fiddling grasshoppers and diligent ants to wily foxes, clever crows, brave mice and grateful lions. Each of the vigorous retellings concludes with the kind of succinct moral that centuries of readers have come to expect (e.g., “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched”; “You are judged by the company you keep”). And whether the homilies concern a wolf in sheep’s clothing or sour grapes, the timeless virtues resonate as freshly as the day they were minted. Pinkney brings his considerable talent to bear on everything from thumbnail animal portraits to sweeping full-page vistas of hearth and woodlands, and his detail, delicacy of line and subtle palette create an elegant foil for the simple parables. If there’s room on the shelf for only one picture book version of Aesop, this could be it. All ages.” Publishers Weekly

    The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

    Ages 12 and up. “Fighting off a pack of starving wolves, wrestling alligators in the swamp, romping with bear cubs, drawing off the venom of a giant rattlesnake bite with the heart of a fresh-killed deer–it’s all in a day’s work for the Baxter family of the Florida scrublands. But young Jody Baxter is not content with these electrifying escapades, or even with the cozy comfort of home with Pa and Ma. He wants a pet, a friend with whom he can share his quiet cogitations and his corn pone. Jody gets his pet, a frisky fawn he calls Flag, but that’s not all. With Flag comes a year of life lessons, frolicking times, and achingly hard decisions. This powerful book is as compelling now as when it was written over 60 years ago. Read simply as a naturalist study of the Florida interior, it fascinates and entices. Add the heart-stopping adventure and heart-wrenching human elements, and this is a classic well worth its Pulitzer Prize. Earthy dialect and homespun wisdom season the story, giving it a unique and unforgettable flavor, and N.C. Wyeth’s warm, soft illustrations capture an era of rough subsistence and sweet survival. (Ages 12 and older).” Amazon

    Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

    Ages 9-12. “Pollyanna’s eternal optimism has made her one of the most beloved characters in American literature. First published in 1913, her story spawned the formation of “Glad” clubs all over the country, devoted to playing Pollyanna’s famous game. Pollyanna has since sold over one million copies, been translated into several languages, and has become both a Broadway play and a Disney motion picture.” Book Description

    “When orphaned, eleven-year-old Pollyanna comes to live with austere and wealthy Aunt Polly, her philosophy of gladness brings happiness to her aunt and other unhappy members of the community.” Card catalog description

    This is an old-fashioned one, but I recall it fondly.

    My Friend Flicka by Mary O’hara

    My Friend Flicka

    Ages 9-12. “Suddenly Ken heard the sound of horses coming near the house and started up so quickly that the leg of his chair tangled with the leg of the table and he went sprawling on the floor, then scrambled up and over to the window. . . . Ken leaned out the window as far as he could to see the last of them as they went down the Green, just jog-trotting . . .

    “Ken . . . what are you doing?”

    He scurried back to the table and made it true before he answered, “I’m doing my arithmetic.”

    It seems Ken can’t do anything right. He loses saddle blankets and breaks reins . . . but then comes the worst news yet: a report card so bad that he has to repeat a grade. How can you tame the dreamy mind of a boy who stares out of the window instead of taking an exam? Enter Flicka, the chestnut filly with a wild spirit. Over the course of one magical summer, both will learn the meaning of responsibility, courage, and, ultimately, friendship.” Book Description

    My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

    Ages 9-12. “Every kid thinks about running away at one point or another; few get farther than the end of the block. Young Sam Gribley gets to the end of the block and keeps going–all the way to the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. There he sets up house in a huge hollowed-out tree, with a falcon and a weasel for companions and his wits as his tool for survival. In a spellbinding, touching, funny account, Sam learns to live off the land, and grows up a little in the process. Blizzards, hunters, loneliness, and fear all battle to drive Sam back to city life. But his desire for freedom, independence, and adventure is stronger. No reader will be immune to the compulsion to go right out and start whittling fishhooks and befriending raccoons.

    Jean Craighead George, author of more than 80 children’s books, including the Newbery Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves, created another prizewinner with My Side of the Mountain–a Newbery Honor Book, an ALA Notable Book, and a Hans Christian Andersen Award Honor Book. Astonishingly, she wrote its sequel, On the Far Side of the Mountain, 30 years later, and a decade after that penned the final book in the trilogy, Frightful’s Mountain, told from the falcon’s point of view. George has no doubt shaped generations of young readers with her outdoor adventures of the mind and spirit. (Ages 9 to 12). Amazon

    Frightful’s Mountain by Jean Craighead Craighead George

    Frightful's Mountain

    Ages 9-12. “Fans of Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain (a Newbery Honor Book) and On the Far Side of the Mountain will be delighted to return to upstate New York’s Catskill Mountains for the conclusion of her trilogy, which appears 40 years after the first title’s publication in 1959. Written because a young fan asked, “What happened to Frightful?” this volume tells how Sam Gribley’s peregrine falcon–that’s Frightful–has to make her own way in the world after Sam is forced to release her. Although told in the third person, the story is developed entirely from the bird’s point of view. George’s narrative follows the falcon through a series of dangerous adventures (involving DDT, electricity lines, and unscrupulous bird traders, to name a few) as she learns to depend on her own instincts. The environmental message is slightly heavy-handed, but it’s wrapped in an enjoyable story from a much loved and astoundingly prolific author. You don’t need to have read the earlier books to make sense of this one, though it may help. (Ages 9 and older).” Amazon

    Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

    Ages 9-12. “Miyax, like many adolescents, is torn. But unlike most, her choices may determine whether she lives or dies. At 13, an orphan, and unhappily married, Miyax runs away from her husband’s parents’ home, hoping to reach San Francisco and her pen pal. But she becomes lost in the vast Alaskan tundra, with no food, no shelter, and no idea which is the way to safety. Now, more than ever, she must look hard at who she really is. Is she Miyax, Eskimo girl of the old ways? Or is she Julie (her “gussak”-white people-name), the modernized teenager who must mock the traditional customs? And when a pack of wolves begins to accept her into their community, Miyax must learn to think like a wolf as well. If she trusts her Eskimo instincts, will she stand a chance of surviving? John Schoenherr’s line drawings suggest rather than tell about the compelling experiences of a girl searching for answers in a bleak landscape that at first glance would seem to hold nothing. Fans of Jean Craighead George’s stunning, Newberry Medal-winning coming-of-age story won’t want to miss Julie (1994) and Julie’s Wolf Pack (1998). (Ages 10 and older)” Amazon

    Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

    Ella Enchanted

    Ages 9 and up. “At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.” When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery, trying to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you’ve ever read.

    Gail Carson Levine’s examination of traditional female roles in fairy tales takes some satisfying twists and deviations from the original. Ella is bound by obedience against her will, and takes matters in her own hands with ambition and verve. Her relationship with the prince is balanced and based on humor and mutual respect; in fact, it is she who ultimately rescues him. Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor. (Ages 9 to 14).” Amazon

    This was a fun one to read aloud – I enjoyed the book – a great new independent Cinderella!

    The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards

    Ages 9-12. “What on earth is a Whangdoodle? A “fanciful creature of undefined nature,” it was also once the wisest, kindest, most fun-loving living thing in the world–until people stopped believing in it. When that lack of faith became widespread, the last of the really great Whangdoodles created a special land full of extraordinary creatures: furry Flukes, the sly High-Behind Splintercat, and the wonderful Whiffle Bird. But when an open-minded professor–the one adult who still believes in the Whangdoodle–joins forces with three children with active imaginations, they become an unstoppable team on a fantastic and sometimes terrifying journey to Whangdoodleland.

    Readers who have explored Narnia, Oz, or Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory will be thrilled at this new destination–a marvelous land that will inspire and stimulate creative and scientific minds. And who better to expose young readers to new ways of seeing, smelling, and hearing than Julie (Andrews) Edwards of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music fame? Her lively and clever style pulls readers along effortlessly; she, like the professor, is one grownup who can teach children never to close their minds to possibility. (Ages 9 to 12).” Amazon

    My daughters loved Julie Andrews books – what could be better than a book by Mary Poppins? They also loved her “Mandy.”

    Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

    Ages 9-12. “The story starts out simply enough: Jess Aarons wants to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade–he wants it so bad he can taste it. He’s been practicing all summer, running in the fields around his farmhouse until he collapses in a sweat. Then a tomboy named Leslie Burke moves into the farmhouse next door and changes his life forever. Not only does Leslie not look or act like any girls Jess knows, but she also turns out to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. After getting over the shock and humiliation of being beaten by a girl, Jess begins to think Leslie might be okay.

    Despite their superficial differences, it’s clear that Jess and Leslie are soul mates. The two create a secret kingdom in the woods named Terabithia, where the only way to get into the castle is by swinging out over a gully on an enchanted rope. Here they reign as king and queen, fighting off imaginary giants and the walking dead, sharing stories and dreams, and plotting against the schoolmates who tease them. Jess and Leslie find solace in the sanctuary of Terabithia until a tragedy strikes and the two are separated forever. In a style that is both plain and powerful, Katherine Paterson’s characters will stir your heart and put a lump in your throat.” Amazon

    The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg

    The View from Saturday

    Ages 9-12. “A powerhouse sixth-grade Academic Bowl team from Epiphany Middle School; the art of calligraphy; the retirees of Century Village, Florida; a genius dog named Ginger; and a holiday production of “Annie” all figure heavily in the latest book by E. L. Konigsburg, who has produced a Newbery Medal-winning children’s tale to rival her classic From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which won the Newbery Medal almost 30 years ago. The new book centers around a group of four brilliant, shy 12-year-olds and the tea party they have each Saturday morning. Konigsburg’s wacky erudition and her knack for offbeat characters make this a funny and endearing story of friendship.” Amazon Review

    This is one I found from the Children’s Author’s Game (see Part II).

    Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

    TUCK EVERLASTING

    Ages 9-12. “Imagine coming upon a fountain of youth in a forest. To live forever–isn’t that everyone’s ideal? For the Tuck family, eternal life is a reality, but their reaction to their fate is surprising. Award winner Natalie Babbitt (Knee-Knock Rise, The Search for Delicious) outdoes herself in this sensitive, moving adventure in which 10-year-old Winnie Foster is kidnapped, finds herself helping a murderer out of jail, and is eventually offered the ultimate gift–but doesn’t know whether to accept it. Babbitt asks profound questions about the meaning of life and death, and leaves the reader with a greater appreciation for the perfect cycle of nature. Intense and powerful, exciting and poignant, Tuck Everlasting will last forever–in the reader’s imagination. An ALA Notable Book. (Ages 9 to 12)” Amazon

    Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt

    Ages 9 and up. “The Newbery Award-winning novel from the author of Across Five Aprils and No Promises in the Wind comes her most beloved story of a girl’s coming of age.” Book Description

    “After her mother’s death, Julie goes to live with Aunt Cordelia, a spinster schoolteacher, where she experiences many emotions and changes as she grows from seven to eighteen.” Card catalog description

    This one I still remember well – I loved it as a teen. It stayed with me for many a year.

    Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen

    Ages 9-12. “Grade 3-5–Virginia Sorensen’s 1957 Newbery Award winner (Harcourt, 1956) is [a] loving family saga about Marley, brother Joe, their parents, and their friends. When Marley’s father returns home from World War II a broken man physically and spiritually, her mother decides that the family needs to leave the city for an extended visit to Grandma’s house in the country. The tale [is of] of a year in the life of this family as the father slowly regains his strength and confidence. The year is filled with small miracles from the first spring blossoms to the healing of their beloved neighbor, Mr. Chris. So many children today have parents who are part of the war effort overseas that this somewhat old-fashioned, half-century old story is still relevant for youngsters today.” School Library Journal

    Plain Girl by Virginia Sorensen

    Ages 9-12. “An Amish girl, Esther feels like “one black bird against the sky” in her plain clothes. So when she’s forced to attend public school she’s terrified. She fears the new world she must enter, fears the way she sticks out next to other kids, and–most of all–fears she may do what her brother did: run away and join the sinful but great wide world she’s only just discovering.” Book Description

    This is another book I read as an older teen – a quiet little book, about acceptance.

    Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

    Ages 9-12. “Scott O’Dell won the Newbery Medal for Island of the Blue Dolphins in 1961, and in 1976 the Children’s Literature Association named this riveting story one of the 10 best American children’s books of the past 200 years. O’Dell was inspired by the real-life story of a 12-year-old American Indian girl, Karana. The author based his book on the life of this remarkable young woman who, during the evacuation of Ghalas-at (an island off the coast of California), jumped ship to stay with her young brother who had been abandoned on the island. He died shortly thereafter, and Karana fended for herself on the island for 18 years.

    O’Dell tells the miraculous story of how Karana forages on land and in the ocean, clothes herself (in a green-cormorant skirt and an otter cape on special occasions), and secures shelter. Perhaps even more startlingly, she finds strength and serenity living alone on the island. This beautiful edition of Island of the Blue Dolphins is enriched with 12 full-page watercolor paintings by Ted Lewin, illustrator of more than 100 children’s books, including Ali, Child of the Desert. A gripping story of battling wild dogs and sea elephants, this simply told, suspenseful tale of survival is also an uplifting adventure of the spirit. (Ages 9 to 12)” Amazon

    Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

    Ages 9-12. “At age 11, Caddie Woodlawn is the despair of her mother and the pride of her father: a clock-fixing tomboy running wild in the woods of Wisconsin. In 1864, this is a bit much for her Boston-bred mother to bear, but Caddie and her brothers are happy with the status quo. Written in 1935 about Carol Ryrie Brink’s grandmother’s childhood, the adventures of Caddie and her brothers are still exciting over 60 years later. With each chapter comes another ever-more exciting adventure: a midnight gallop on her horse across a frozen river to warn her American Indian friends of the white men’s plan to attack; a prairie fire approaching the school house; and a letter from England that may change the family’s life forever. This Newbery Medal-winning book bursts at the seams with Caddie’s irrepressible spirit. In spite of her mother’s misgivings, Caddie is a perfect role model for any girl–or boy, for that matter. She’s big-hearted, she’s brave, and she’s mechanically inclined! (Ages 9 to 12)Amazon

    Another of my perennial favorites – this is a funnier version of the Little House series – sort of a Tom sawyer for girls.

    Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink

    Ages 9-12. “Twelve-year-old Mary Wallace and her ten-year-old sister Jean survive the wreck of an ocean liner on its way to Australia and manage to make it to a seemingly deserted island in a lifeboat with four babies.” Card Catalog Description

    Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

    Ages 9-12. “MacLachlan, author of Unclaimed Treasures, has written an affecting tale for children. In the late 19th century a widowed midwestern farmer with two children–Anna and Caleb–advertises for a wife. When Sarah arrives she is homesick for Maine, especially for the ocean which she misses greatly. The children fear that she will not stay, and when she goes off to town alone, young Caleb–whose mother died during childbirth–is stricken with the fear that she has gone for good. But she returns with colored pencils to illustrate for them the beauty of Maine, and to explain that, though she misses her home, “the truth of it is I would miss you more.” The tale gently explores themes of abandonment, loss and love.” Amazon

    A great, quiet book about the strength within.

    Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes

    Ages 8-12. “Meet Ginger Pye, the smartest dog you’ll ever know. Jerry Pye and his sister, Rachel, feel pretty smart themselves for buying Ginger. It was the best dollar they ever spent. Ginger steals everybody’s heart . . . until someone steals him!” Book Description

    Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

    Ages 10 and up. “This story of a tragically injured young silversmith who ends up hip-deep in the American Revolution is inspiring, exciting, and sad. Winner of the prestigious Newbery Award in 1944, Esther Forbes’s story has lasted these 50-plus years by including adventure, loss, courage, and history in a wonderfully written, very dramatic package. It’s probably not great for little guys but mature 11-year-olds or older will find it a great adventure.” Amazon

    Moccasin Trail by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

    Ages 9-12. “A pioneer boy, brought up by Crow Indians, is reunited with his family and attempts to orient himself in the white man’s culture.” Card Catalog Description

    Although many of these books have been made into movies, I purposefully left those off for now – I will do a matching list later. But I wanted to focus on the books, and encourage kids to read, rather than just watch the movie version. Enjoy! Part II and III, and At The Movies for Classic Kids coming soon…

    A Cool $25 Million to "Cool" the Earth?

    Okay, so I’m a Richard Branson fan – ever since I watched his reality show, and how he lived life and viewed business. I have been impressed with his abilty to see the big picture, to think big, not small, and to dream. Sometimes he crashes and burns, but he gets right back up and starts all over again…

    Virgin Earth Challenge

    February 10, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Branson and Gore have created the “Virgin Earth Challenge” based on the X-Prize worth $25 million to create a way to solve the greenhouse gas problem.

    Flanked by climate campaigners former US Vice President Al Gore and British ex-diplomat Crispin Tickell, Branson said he hoped the prize would spur innovative and creative thought to save mankind from self-destruction.

    The prize will initially only be open for five years, with ideas assesbransongore_wideweb__470×3400.jpgsed by a panel of judges including Branson, Gore and Tickell as well as US climate scientist James Hansen, Briton James Lovelock and Australian environmentalist Tim Flannery.

    The winner will have to come up with a way of removing one billion tonnes of carbon gases a year from the atmosphere for 10 years, with $5 million of the prize being paid at the start and the remaining $20 million at the end.

    The Ansari X-Prize showed what is possible. It enabled Virgin SpaceShip One and space travel for everybody (atleast those who could afford!). This will hopefully create something similar.

    The prize denotes the best things about business. The drive, the incentives, the entrepreneurship, the targets, innovation and the ability to solve the greatest problems facing man.

    Branson sometime back announced that he would invest almost $3 billion of his profits from the transportation business into companies like Virgin Fuels which can solve the earth’s problems and make money too.

    BBC provides a graphic to show the present options in carbon capture.

    Carbon capture options

    1. CO2 pumped into disused coal fields displaces methane which can be used as fuel
    2. CO2 can be pumped into and stored safely in saline aquifers
    3. CO2 pumped into oil fields helps maintain pressure, making extraction easier http://worldisgreen.com/2007/02/10/virgin-earth-challenge/

    image

    $25 Million Offered In Climate Challenge

    Tycoon Hopes to Spur Milestone Research

    By Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post Foreign Service
    Saturday, February 10, 2007;

    “British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, with former vice president Al Gore at his side, offered a $25 million prize Friday to anyone who can come up with a way to blunt global climate change by removing at least a billion tons of carbon dioxide a year from the Earth’s atmosphere.

    Branson, saying that the “survival of our species” is imperiled by current environmental trends, said the prize was similar to cash inducements that led to some of history’s most notable achievements in navigation, exploration and industry. A competition launched in the 17th century, he said, resulted in the creation of a method to accurately estimate longitude.

    Britain's Richard Branson has enlisted Al Gore as a judge in contest to find a way to take carbon dioxide out of the air.

    Britain’s Richard Branson has enlisted Al Gore as a judge in contest to find a way to take carbon dioxide out of the air. (By Bruno Vincent — Getty Images)

    “I believe in our resourcefulness and in our capacity to invent solutions to the problems we have ourselves created,” said Branson, who has pledged to invest $3 billion in profits from his transportation companies, including Virgin Atlantic Airlines and Virgin Trains, to fighting global warming.

    “We are now facing a planetary emergency,” said Gore, whose documentary film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” has helped him become one of the world’s leading voices on climate change issues.

    The former vice president will serve as a judge in the contest, known as the Virgin Earth Challenge. He said he hoped the contest would spur scientific innovation without distracting from more practical steps people can take to battle global warming, from using energy-efficient light bulbs to pressuring politicians to confront “the crisis of our time.”

    “It’s a challenge to the moral imagination of humankind,” Gore said at a packed news conference, which several noted climate scientists and authors attended. Others provided videotaped endorsements or appeared by live video link.

    Gore and Branson said that although scientists are working on technologies to capture carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases at power plants and other industrial sources, no one has developed a strategy to remove gases already released into the atmosphere. Those gases are contributing to a dramatic increase in global temperatures that could have catastrophic results in the coming decades, they said.

    The winner of the contest must devise a plan to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere without creating adverse effects. The first $5 million would be paid upfront, and the remainder of the money would be paid only after the program had worked successfully for 10 years.

    “We’re nowhere” on technologies to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, Gore said. But he said he hoped innovators might be spurred not simply by the cash prize but also by a passion for working on what he called “a moral issue.”

    Other judges in the competition are James E. Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies; British environmentalists and authors James Lovelock and Crispin Tickell; and Australian conservationist and author Tim Flannery.

    Gore, Branson and the other panelists referred repeatedly to a study released last week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, made up of hundreds of scientists from 113 countries, that concluded that human activity is warming the planet at a potentially disastrous and irreversible rate.

    Gore dismissed critics who say the potential effects of climate change have been exaggerated. He said the overwhelming scientific evidence is that “the planet has a fever.” He likened the situation to parents told by a doctor that their child needs medical care; those parents shouldn’t listen to “some science fiction expert who tells you it isn’t real — you listen to the doctor.”

    Gore said he believed public interest in climate change was growing in the United States. But asked whether he thought Americans were ready for a presidential campaign in which global warming was the central issue, he said, “We’re not there, yet.”

    Branson and Gore said they hoped to ask the governments of the United States, Britain and other countries to add to the prize money, or even match the $25 million pledged by Branson. “I don’t have much influence with this administration,” Gore joked.

    Gore, who barely lost the 2000 presidential election to President Bush, has experienced a resurgence in popularity among many Democrats and is still viewed as a potential dark horse candidate in 2008. On Friday, he said he would not categorically rule out another run for public office, but he said he “can’t foresee” any circumstances that would lead him to enter the race.

    “I’m involved in a different kind of campaign,” Gore said.

    Details on the $25 million competition can be found at http://www.virginearth.com

    Special Report

    Read complete Post coverage on the science and politics surrounding the threat of human-induced climate change.

    IN THE GREENHOUSE: Follow the Post series on the science behind confronting a changing climate.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/09/AR2007020900693.html

    Now here’s the scoop on the “prize”:

    image

    The Virgin Earth Challenge is a prize of $25m for whoever can demonstrate to the judges’ satisfaction a commercially viable design which results in the removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases so as to contribute materially to the stability of Earth’s climate.

    To encourage a viable technology which will result in the net removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases each year for at least ten years without countervailing harmful effects.

    Today, Sir Richard Branson and Al Gore announced the setting up of a new Global science and technology prize – The Virgin Earth Challenge – in the belief that history has shown that prizes of this nature encourage technological advancements for the good of mankind. The Virgin Earth Challenge will award $25 million to the individual or group who are able to demonstrate a commercially viable design which will result in the net removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases each year for at least ten years without countervailing harmful effects. This removal must have long term effects and contribute materially to the stability of the Earth’s climate.

    Sir Richard also announced that he would be joined in the adjudication of the Prize by a panel of five judges – all world authorities in their respective fields: Al Gore, Sir Crispin Tickell, Tim Flannery, Jim Hansen and James Lovelock. The panel of judges will be assisted in their deliberations by The Climate Group and Special Advisor to The Virgin Earth Prize Judges, Steve Howard (see Editors notes for biographies).

    The timing of the announcement of the Virgin Earth Challenge was particularly apt given the recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes, which last week announced that temperatures on earth could increase by as much as 6.4C by the end of this Century.

    The report, the most comprehensive to date from a UN Agency detailed the catastrophe results which even seemingly small temperature raises could have on our planet: at + 2.4C coral reefs around the world would become extinct; + 3.4C would result in the rain forests becoming deserts; an increase of + 4.4C would result in the ice caps melting and severe heat waves across the globe displacing millions; the IPCC further predicted that sea levels could rise by 5 metres if temperatures reached + 5.4C which would result in ten of millions of climate refugees.

    For the first time ever a 6.4C raise was mentioned within UN predictions. If this were to occur it would result in most of life on our planet being exterminated.

    Sir Richard Branson commented: “We all now know that something radical has got to be done to turn back the tide of global warming. By launching the $25 million Virgin Earth Challenge, the largest ever science and technology prize to be offered in history, we want to encourage scientists and individuals from around the world to come up with a way of removing lethal carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere. By competing for this prize they will follow in the footsteps of many of history’s greatest inventors and innovators. But in this case potentially save the planet. It is our hope and belief that the winner of The Virgin Earth Challenge will help to reverse the collision course our beautiful world is currently on. They will not only make history but preserve history for many, many generations to come.

    However, it is important to remember that there is a real possibility that no one will win this prize. Governments, and their people, must continue to use every effort to radically reduce CO2 emissions. “

    The Virgin Earth Challenge will initially be open for five years; the judges will meet annually to determine whether a design has been submitted during the previous year that in their view should win the prize and, if so, they may award the prize without waiting for the five year period to elapse. If no winner has been selected at the end of five years, the judges may decide to roll the prize forward for a further period on the same.

    Al Gore commented at today’s Press Conference: “Carbon dioxide levels already are far above anything measured in the prior 650,000 year record, and just last week in Paris scientists gave us their strongest warning yet of the consequences of inaction. So the dangers are clear. But the opportunities, if we take action now, are innumerable, and Sir Richard’s initiative to stimulate exploration of this new approach to the climate crisis is important and welcome.”

    James Lovelock continued: “To escape the consequences of global heating we need far more than Kyoto, far more than renewable energy and sustainable development. What we need is a near miracle to undo the harm that we have done. Sir Richard Branson’s hugely generous prize could sow the seeds for a miraculous invention that would let us make a sustainable retreat to that lush and comfortable world we once knew. We have all spent far too long sleepwalking towards extinction.”

    Sir Crispin Tickell: “We need a significant, lasting and harmless reduction in the volume of green house gases in the atmosphere. To this technology can make an important contribution. This Prize is a marvellous encouragement to all who have bright and practical ideas on how best to tackle one of the major problems of our time.”

    Dr James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies: “I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change … no longer than a decade, at the most. This is why I am supporting the Virgin Earth Challenge as a judge – we must explore all means, both known and unknown, to help alleviate this crisis.”

    Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers, gave a stark warning on the cost of inaction: “If we continue as we are, humanity will so pollute our atmosphere this century that we will create another world, the likes of which has not been seen for 50 million years. And we will destroy human civilisation in the process.”

    Sir Richard Branson concluded: “We would also like to call on governments and members of the international community to join us in The Virgin Earth Challenge by matching or adding to the prize pot available to encourage the greatest number of entrants of those who could come up with a solution which could save our planet. If the greatest minds in the world today compete, as I’m sure they will, for The Virgin Earth Challenge, I believe that a solution to the C02 problem could hopefully be found – a solution that could save our planet – not only for our children but for all the children yet to come.”

    The creation of the Virgin Earth Prize is one of a number of initiatives including investment in renewable energy research, development and production as part of Virgin Group’s “Gaia Capitalism” project and 3 billion dollar Clinton Initiative pledge of September 2006.

    Editor’s Notes:

    Sir Richard Branson comments on the use of Prizes to fuel innovation: “History has shown that Technology Prizes have been invaluable in encouraging technological advancements and innovation in many, many areas of science and industry. From the very first recorded prize offered by the British government in 1714, offering three financial incentives to the inventor who developed a device capable of measuring longitude within a given degree of accuracy. The Prize, which has been immortalised in the book Longitude, was won by John Harrison, a self-educated clock maker. Harrison was awarded £20,000 in 1773 for devising an accurate and durable chronometer.

    But prizes were not just the domain of the British; in the 18th Century the French also used Prizes as an incentive to fuel innovation. In 1775 a 100,000 franc prize was offered to the individual who could produce an artificial form of alkali – the wining of this prize was to form the basis of the French chemical industry. Today, vacuum packed food in our fridges and cupboards is nothing remarkable, but it may surprise some to know that it was actually a Prize offered by Napoleon in 1810 which led to Nicolas Appert coming up with a method of vacuum packing cooked food in glass bottles – it took him 15 years of experiments but in the end won him 12,000 francs!

    It wasn’t long before newspapers and private sector companies became involved in setting up Prizes to encourage development in many areas. The American automobile industry was encouraged to grow through inducements to win prizes by competing in races set up by newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune in the late 19 th Century. Aviation and the development of long distance flying were greatly encouraged by similar prizes to those offered in America for the fledgling automobile industry. The Daily Mail prize for example, for the first flight across the Channel, was won byLouis Bleriot in 1909; and ten years later, Alcock and Brown won the Mail prize for crossing the Atlantic. Lindebergh was competing for a prize when he flew in the Spirit of St Louis, non-stop from New York to Paris in 1927. The Spitfire was the result of the Schneider trophy, which was a series of prizes for technological development.

    The most recent technological Prize was awarded in the area of space travel, and is one that I have come to know very well – the Ansari X Prize – a $10 million dollar Prize set up by Peter Diamandis and funded by the Ansari family. The Ansari X Prize was won in 2004 by Paul Allen, Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites when they successfully flew SpaceShipOne to space and back twice within two weeks. The technological feat of SpaceShipOne resulted in the Virgin Group licensing that technology to build five space ships and two White Knight carrier crafts and has given birth to a commercially viable space tourism industry for the future. Using the latest technology in hybrid rocket motors and next generation turbo fan engines SS2 and WK2 will be environmentally benign.”

    Now for the Judges:

    Once you know Richard you understand why his company is called Virgin (and recognised as such throughout the world in numerous sectors). He is a pioneer of many famous world-wide business ventures – including Virgin Music Group and Virgin Atlantic (with a multitude of first-time achievements to boot); he is also the founder of a company that has been the saviour of Britain’s two most run-down rail-franchises as well as putting its considerable financial and personnel weight behind several worldwide charities facing some of the toughest challenges ever today. This incredibly revolutionary approach to life has also led to his involvement in many epic and famous world record-breaking sea, air and land ventures. In 2004 his dream of opening the world’s first ever commercial Space Tourism business was realised with the launch of Virgin Galactic. Richard Branson is a committed crusader and ambassador of crucial and urgent social as well as environmental issues – a fantastic proof of this was him being awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Millennium New Year’s honours list for “Services to Entrepreneurship”.

    Is known throughout the world as the Former Vice President of the USA. He is also (amongst others) Co-Founder of Generation Investment Management – a company committed to the new approach to Sustainable Investing. He is also an active and respected member of the Board of Directors for both Apple and Google. He is the author of “An Inconvenient Truth” – a best selling book and documentary about the history of the world. During the past 30 years he has been the leading advocate for confronting the threat of global warming.

    An independent scientist for more than forty years as well as an Honorary Visiting Fellow of Green College, University of Oxford. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1974 and was made a Companion of Honour by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003. In addition, he has received ten international awards for his work as an environmentalist; these included the Blue Planet Prize, Volvo Prize and Wollaston Medal from the Geological Society in London.
    James Lovelock’s most notable scientific work is the Gaia theory, now generally accepted under the name Earth System Science, and the discovery in l972 of the CFCs in the atmosphere and their subsequent global monitoring. He is the inventor of the electron capture detector (ECD), which first alerted us to the ubiquitous distribution of pesticides and PCBs. He has throughout his career as an environmental scientist supported nuclear energy as a preferred supplier of electricity. He is the author of five books and over 200 scientific papers.

    Is an internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer, conservationist and author lauded by David Attenborough and Redmond O’Hanlon respectively as one of the world’s greatest explorers and having “… discovered more new species than Charles Darwin.” He is also Recipient of Centenary of Federation medal for his service to science and in 2002 became the first environmentalist to deliver the Australia Day address to the nation. His voice is familiar world-wide through radio and is also well-known to Documentary Channel viewers as writer/presenter on numerous ground-breaking series of the past 10 years. Tim was recently honoured as Australian Humanist of the Year as well as Australian of the Year.

    Professor in Columbia University Earth Institute and also Heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in NYC. In addition, Dr Hansen’s research has contributed to incredible identification of the properties of clouds of Venus as sulfuric acid. He has worked on understanding the human impact on global climate for nearly 40 years and is universally famous for bringing world-wide awareness of the global warming issue in 1980’s.

    Sir Crispin Tickell is the Director of the Policy Foresight Programme at the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization at Oxford University. He is associated with other British universities as well as universities in the United States. His main interests are in the field of the environment and international affairs.
    His interests as well as his unparalleled achievements in business, charities, climate and the Earth say all there is to say about this man and his imperative role in our ecological Earth group challenge.

    Virgin Earth Challenge Guidelines

    1. Purpose and overview
    The purpose of the Virgin Earth Challenge is to encourage the development of commercially viable new technology, processes and methods to remove anthropogenic greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to improve the stability of the Earth’s climate.

    Entrants must submit a commercially viable design (the “Design”) to achieve the net removal of significant volumes of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases each year for at least 10 years without countervailing harmful effects (the “Removal Target”). The removal achieved by the Design must have long term benefits (measured over say 1,000 years) and must contribute materially to the stability of the Earth’s climate.

    The prize fund will be awarded to (or shared amongst) any entrants whose Design (in the opinion of the judges) achieves or appears capable of achieving the Removal Target and other criteria set out in paragraph 7 and which in the opinion of the judges makes an outstanding contribution by way of innovation in the fields of engineering or the other physical technologies or in the application of the physical sciences, which is or will be for the benefit of the Earth’s climate.

    Virgin invites all interested individuals or teams to complete an Entry Form to register to participate in the Virgin Earth Challenge. There’s an entry form HERE.

    2. Guidelines and Participation Agreement

    These Guidelines (and the Participation Agreement (see below)) form the basis of the rules that will govern the Virgin Earth Challenge. However, the Virgin Earth Challenge will be subject to more detailed rules, terms and conditions. The full rules, terms and conditions will be adopted within 60 days following the official launch of the Virgin Earth Challenge on 9 February 2007. Such full rules, terms and conditions will constitute a Participation Agreement to be signed by all registered entrants who wish to compete in the Virgin Earth Challenge.

    3. Publicity

    3.1
    Virgin reserves the right to publish details of the entrants and/or winners of a cash award (“Winners”) and any Design(s) on the virgin.com website and in other promotional and publicity material as it considers appropriate, including (without limitation) for the purpose of promoting the Virgin group…

    4. How to enter the Virgin Earth Challenge

    4.1
    In order to register to enter the Virgin Earth Challenge, each entrant must submit a completed copy of the Entry Form (signed by all members of the team)…

    5. Submission of a Design

    5.1
    Only Designs received from registered entrants who have signed a Participation Agreement will be considered for entry into the Virgin Earth Challenge.

    5.2
    Entrants must submit each Design entry in writing by post or by hand…

    5.3
    The Virgin Earth Challenge is free to enter but each entrant shall bear the costs if any of researching, preparing and submitting his/her Design(s).

    5.4
    The number of Design entries per entrant is not limited.

    5.5
    The Design submission should be sufficiently detailed and clear to enable the judges to analyse properly and to form a view on all elements of the Design including the method and any possible side effects of exploitation of the Design.

    6. Entries

    6.1
    Entries will not be returned.

    6.2
    By entering, each entrant confirms that the submitted Design is original, is the entrant’s own work, is not in breach of any obligation of confidence, is not in violation of any applicable laws, does not infringe any other third party rights of whatever nature and that the entrant has all rights and permissions necessary to submit the Design to the Virgin Earth Challenge and to exploit (or grant rights to exploit) the Design anywhere in the World. Each entrant hereby indemnifies Virgin and the judges against any and all loss, damages or liability which they might incur by reason of any breach or alleged breach of this paragraph or these Guidelines.

    7. Criteria

    7.1
    Entries will be judged according to the following criteria:

    (a) ability of the Design to achieve the Removal Target;

    (b) technical viability;

    (c) commercial viability;

    (d) effectiveness and efficiency;

    (e) scalability;

    (f) harmful effects and/or other incidental consequences of the solution;

    (g) other contributions to the reduction in environmental greenhouse gases;

    (h) longevity of effects; and

    (i) any other criteria which the judges decide in their discretion are relevant.

    7.2
    Entrants may be required to provide further information to assist the judges in assessing the Design and each entrant agrees to fully co-operate with the judges. Information which is not in the public domain and is marked by the entrant as confidential shall be treated as confidential by Virgin and the judges.

    7.3
    Any cash awards (“Awards”) will be awarded at the discretion of the judges. The decision of the judges shall be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

    8. Judges

    8.1
    Judging of all submitted Designs will be conducted by a panel of judges comprising Sir Richard Branson, Sir Crispin Tickell, Al Gore, James Lovelock, Jim Hansen and Tim Flannery (provided that if any judge shall be unable to judge the entries, such judge(s) may be replaced by an alternate judge(s) selected by agreement of the remaining judges).

    8.2
    The judges reserve the right to take external advice and guidance from The Climate Group and/or such other experts as they consider appropriate.

    9. Challenge duration

    9.1
    The Virgin Earth Challenge will open on 9 February 2007 (the “Opening Date”).

    9.2
    The Virgin Earth Challenge shall be open for an initial period of 3 years from the Opening Date and the deadline for submissions shall be 8 February 2010 (the “Closing Date”).

    9.3
    Within 180 days after the Closing Date, the judges shall judge the entries submitted by the Closing Date.

    9.4
    If the judges consider that the criteria have been met and that one or more entries should win some or all of the prize pool, Awards will be awarded and the Winners will be announced by Virgin in accordance with these Guidelines.

    9.5
    If some or all of the prize pool has not been awarded following judging of the submissions, the Virgin Earth Challenge shall re-open for a further period and the “Closing Date” shall be extended accordingly to 8 February 2011. The judges shall repeat the judging process in accordance with paragraphs 9.3 and 9.4….

    10. The Award

    10.1
    The total prize pool is US$25million.

    10.2
    The judges may elect to award the entire prize pool funds to one Winner or to share the prize pool funds (as the judges think fit) between two or more Winners totalling US$25million in aggregate. The judges shall not be obliged to award all or any of the total prize pool funds if in the judges’ absolute discretion the criteria and Removal Target are not met.

    10.3
    The Winner(s) will receive 20% of his/her Award upon the judges’ decision to make the Award in respect of his/her Design (a “Winning Design”). The Winner(s) will receive the remaining 80% of his/her Award upon satisfactory achievement by his/her Design of the Removal Target for at least 10 consecutive years and provided all other criteria continue to be met at that time. (The intervening period between such payments shall be the “Post-Award Period”.) Accordingly, if there is a single Winner of the total prize pool fund that Winner would receive US$5 million upon the judges’ decision to make the Award and the remaining US$20 million following achievement of the Removal Target and other criteria for 10 years.

    11. Award Winner announcement

    11.1
    Winners will be notified in writing to the address given in the Entry Form as soon as possible and in any event as soon as reasonably possibly following the expiry of 180 days following the relevant Closing Date.

    12. Eligibility

    12.1
    The Virgin Earth Challenge is open to entrants resident in any nation anywhere on Earth, save for any nations the laws of which provide that entry in to the Virgin Earth Challenge is illegal. Designs may be submitted by any individual or individuals, independent team or teams or any team or teams working for a firm, company or other organisation of any nature.

    http://www.virginearth.com/

    So what’s up? What’s happening in response to the challenge? See these articles for a glimpse:

    2nd Australian International Green Build & Renewable
    Energy Exhibition and Conference

    Friday 1 June – Sunday 3 June, 2007, Australian Technology Park, Sydney

    International Green Build Renewable Energy Exhibition and Conference
    info@grex.com.au

    Conference – Topic Overview [one pertinent example]

    OCEAN NOURISHMENT – A Climate Change Solution
    John Ridley
    Executive Director ONC

    This Seminar will review – the need for carbon sequestration, The Ocean Nourishment technology, environmental and social benefits of Ocean Nourishment
    Professor Jones and his Ocean Nourishment team’s technology mimics the natural process of macro-nutrient upwelling from deep ocean sites . This upwelling occurs naturally in about 70 per cent of the world’s oceans, which means the Ocean Nourishment process is potentially far more reaching than any other solution yet proposed. The technology is therefore capable of removing significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere via photosynthesis and storing carbon in plant matter which falls to the ocean floor..
    The Ocean Nourishment team assembled to take part in Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Earth Challenge represents a “who’s who” of climate change, engineering, environmental and scientific expertise. The team aims to complete its submission to the Virgin Earth Challenge within the next year
    Key members of the Ocean Nourishment team (and their respective contributions) include:
    Professor Ian S F Jones (Champion)
    Ocean Nourishment Corporation (Commercialisation)
    Earth Ocean and Space (Inventors of Ocean Nourishment technology)
    Ocean Technology Group, University of Sydney
    Note: In response to intense media attention following the recent screening of the BBC2 documentary “Five Ways To Save The World”, Professor Ian S F Jones and Mr John Ridley provide more details on the Ocean Nourishment technology featured. A team led by Professor Jones will use this technology in its proposed entry in Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Earth Challenge. The Ocean Nourishment team welcomes enquiries from corporate sponsor organisations interested in becoming partners in the Challenge. The Challenge represents an opportunity to demonstrate leadership on the earth’s most challenging issue and to work in collaboration with leading thinkers on stabilisation of dangerous levels of climate change.

    http://www.grex.com.au/conferencetopic.shtml

    And from the Miami Independent Media Center :

    image

    GLOBAL WARMING SOULTION: Will it make it through the bureaucracy to the upper atmosphere?

    by Peter Graves-Goodman Apr. 13, 2007

    My friend Joe Fox, who is a molecular microbiologist, invented a modality to absorb CO2 in the atmosphere and reverse the global warming problem in days.

    He is submitting his plan to http://www.VirginEarth.com. The Virgin Earth Challenge (Richard Branson-Al Gore) is a prize of $25m for whoever can demonstrate to the judges’ satisfaction a commercially viable design which results in the removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases so as to contribute materially to the stability of Earth’s climate. The only problem is that it will be 3 years before they look at all the plans and judge who will receive the prize money.

    Global Warming Solut...
    greenhouse_warming.jpg, image/jpeg, 342×250

    Here is Joe Fox’s solution to the global warming process:

    Using a cloud seeding bacteria that eats CO2, it grows to a tremendous cloud in hours, then so full of carbon fibers inside unexcreted and heavily fattened, the bacteria will drop dead to the ground in about a day of gluttony eating CO2 to make carbon fibers inside itself unexcreted and releasing O2, like plants, taking the CO2 out of the atmosphere and dropping it to the ground, leaving a clean atmosphere behind, in about a day, since bacteria grows, like, well, bacteria, to a huge cloud in 2 to 4 hours.

    The gene to do these functions is already commercially available from cDNA suppliers like INVITROGEN, INCITE, GENOMICS, CELERA, and others extracted from plant cells that make bark by absorbing CO2 from the air, then making carbon fibers with it and releasing Oxygen. This is a well known safe gene you eat every day in salads or fruits, that plants have and that can be inserted into bacteria. Another gene to be inserted into the bacteria, chlorophyll, etc., would be used to allow bacteria to absorb UV and heat energy, to also cool the planet, and to power the bacteria to eat much more CO2, much faster with this energy.

    The bacteria I am proposing, is a perfectly safe, simple, readily available in the supermarket and even nutritious bacteria: Lactobacillus Acidophilus, (Yogurt), which is perfectly compatible with humans and animals, since it is a prehistoric bacteria, which all species have inside their guts, skin, and bodies. It has lived on this planet for billions of years, so everyone is compatible with it and all its nutritious effects.

    You can take a bath in yogurt and it would actually be good for your skin, as Acidophilus is a normal inhabitant of the skin and gut of humans, animals, fish and plans alike. And when our bacteria rains down dead from the sky, it would only look like yogurt/wood dust. The CO2 would have been FIXED into carbon fibers inside the bacteria (the carbon part) and Oxygen released to the atmosphere. And the bacteria will be short lived due to the fact that the carbon fibers would eventually kill the bacteria of too much carbon fiber, eliminating the bacteria after its job is done (one gene for many functions).

    This is the most elegant modality of removing tons and tons of CO2 in HOURS, (NOT DECADES) from the atmosphere, since bacteria grows in hours, not months or years like plants.

    I have proposed a test of my bacteria, using a clear 5 gallon water bottle tank filled with air and CO2 pumped into the tank and then spray some bacteria in the tank and watch as the CO2 gauge drop rapidly to zero.

    So, here is a Global Warming Solution. Will it make it through the bureaucracy to the upper atmosphere? http://miami.indymedia.org/news/2007/04/8108.php

    And from Scientific American:

    image

    Special Report: Inspired by Ancient Amazonians, a Plan to Convert Trash into Environmental Treasure

    New bill in U.S. Senate will advocate adoption of “agrichar” method that could lessen our dependence on fossil fuel and help avert global warming

    By Anne Casselman , May 15, 2007

    CHARCOAL like that created by ancient Amazonians or in a modern process called pyrolysis, could be used as a carbon-negative source of fuel and fertilizer.

    When Desmond Radlein heard about Richard Branson and Al Gore’s Virgin Earth Challenge, a contest in which the first person who can sequester one billion tons of carbon dioxide a year wins $25 million, he got out his pencil and began figuring whether or not his company was up to the task.

    Radlein is on the board of directors at Dynamotive Energy Systems, an energy solutions provider based in Vancouver, British Columbia, that is one of several companies pioneering the use of pyrolysis, a process in which biomass is burned at a high temperature in the absence of oxygen. The process yields both a charcoal by-product that can be used as a fertilizer, and bio-oil, which is a mix of oxygenated hydrocarbons that can be used to generate heat or electricity.

    Because the charcoal by-product, or “agrichar,” does not readily break down, it could sequester for thousands of years nearly all the carbon it contains, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Along the way, it would boost agricultural productivity through its ability to retain nutrients and moisture.

    “I developed this rough back-of-the-envelope calculation of what it would require if one were to [attempt the Virgin Earth Challenge] with the agrichar concept,” Radlein explains. “One would need about 7,000 plants each processing 500 tons of biomass per day, which is a large number, but it’s not outside the bounds of possibility.” Such facilities would produce four parts bio-oil to one part carbon sequestered, so it would rake in money as well as carbon.

    An International Movement
    Radlein is not alone in his belief in this technology—last week in Terrigal, New South Wales, Australia, the newly formed International Agrichar Initiative held its first ever conference, which included 135 attendees from every corner of the globe. According to Debbie Reed, an environmental policy expert who organized the conference, keynote speaker Mike Mason of the carbon offset company Climate Care urged attendees to unify in an effort to apply for the Virgin Earth Challenge. He also encouraged them to submit their method to the United Nations’s Clean Development Mechanism program, which is designed to transfer clean technology from the developed to the developing world.

    Although no officials from the U.S. government attended the conference, there is a nascent stateside movement pushing for adoption of agrichar. “[Democratic Senator] Ken Salazar of Colorado is drafting a stand-alone bill on this, and he may also promote it as part of the Farm Bill,” notes Reed. The Farm Bill, whose terms are decided every year, determines what agricultural initiatives can be funded by the U.S. government. Inclusion in the Farm Bill would virtually guarantee subsidies for research and application of the agrichar process.

    A Technology with a (Potentially) Huge Upside
    In 2100, if pyrolysis met the entire projected demand for renewable fuels, the process would sequester enough carbon (9.5 billion tons a year) to offset current fossil fuel emissions, which stand at 5.4 billion tons a year, and then some. “Even if only a third of the bioenergy in 2100 uses pyrolysis, we still would make a huge splash with this technology,” remarks Johannes Lehmann, a soil biogeochemist at Cornell University and one of the organizers of the agrichar conference.

    There are other perks: Increasing production of bio-oil could decrease a country’s dependence on foreign oil. In the tropics, boosting soil productivity increases the number of growing seasons per year, which could help alleviate the pressure to deforest biodiversity hot spots. The new markets for agricultural crops, which would in effect become sources of fuel, could boost rural economies worldwide, just as the demand for ethanol has bolstered the price of corn.

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=5670236C-E7F2-99DF-3E2163B9FB144E40

    Critics have judged Branson harshly for his gas-guzzling airlines and space rockets:

    image

    Branson defends space trips at eco-prize launch

    By Steve Connor, Science Editor
    Saturday, 10 February 2007

    Sir Richard Branson yesterday defended his plans to offer £100,000 trips into space while at the same time setting up a £12.8m prize for scientists to devise a way of absorbing carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere.

    He was speaking at the launch of the Virgin Earth Challenge, which offers a $25m reward for the invention that most successfully removes significant quantities of carbon dioxide over a period of 10 years without harming the environment.

    Sir Richard was asked how he could justify such a prize when he owns an airline and has set up a separate space tourism company. “Let’s confront the airline question,” he said. “I have an airline. I can afford to ground that airline today. My family have got businesses in mobile phones and other businesses, but if we do ground that airline today, British Airways will just take up the space. So what we are doing is making sure we acquire the most carbon dioxide-friendly planes. We’re making sure that 100 per cent of profits we make from our transportation businesses are put back into things like the prize.”

    Virgin Galactic, his space-tourism company, will use hybrid rocket motors and turbo-fan engines that will be “almost” environmentally benign, he said, and the cost of a space ride could come down to the price of an economy-class ticket.

    Flanked by Al Gore, the former American vice president, he said he was offering the biggest scientific prize in history to stimulate interest in the technology of capturing and storing millions of tonnes of man-made carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas…. He said he had no idea whether the prize would ever be won but that unless we could devise a way of curbing carbon dioxide levels we faced a major extinction of life.

    “We will lose half of all species on Earth, including the polar bear and the walrus, we will lose the coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, 100 million people will be displaced due to rising sea levels, farmlands will become deserts, rainforests wastelands,” Sir Richard said.

    Mr Gore said the prize should not deflect from other attempts at curbing emissions. “It should not be seen as a substitute for, or distraction from, the main aim, which is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide ,” Mr Gore said. “We are now facing a planetary emergency and things that would not have been considered in the past ought now to be considered.”

    Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, welcomed the initiative but warned that more should be done to encourage more environmentally friendly forms of travel. “Many of the ways of tackling climate change, such as energy efficiency and renewables, already exist, and it is essential that these are implemented as soon as possible. We cannot afford to wait for futuristic solutions which may never materialise,” Mr Juniper said.

    “Sir Richard must also look at his business activities and the contribution they make to climate change. The world will find it very difficult to tackle climate change if air travel continues to expand and space tourism is developed,” he added.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/branson-defends-space-trips-at-ecoprize-launch-435792.html

    Here is his response:

    PREACHING GREEN WITH THE ZEAL OF A CONVERT

    (FORTUNE Magazine)

    By Eugenia Levenson, March 16, 2007

    The Virgin king is set on saving the planet. Since the fall, Branson has pledged profits from his gas-guzzling airline businesses to alternative-fuels research and launched an eco-equivalent of the X Prize. His Virgin Earth Challenge, announced in February, offers a $25 million reward for a winning plan to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. (For other business responses, see our “Green Is Good” package.) On a recent visit to the UN to promote another worthy cause, blindness-prevention charity ORBIS, Branson spoke to FORTUNE’s Eugenia Levenson about his new crusade.

    Who or what turned you green?

    The Muppets!

    So you wanted to prove Kermit wrong–that it is easy to be green?

    Well, I read a lot of books, including Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers and James Lovelock’s Gaia. I also met Al Gore, Ted Turner, and other people who were passionate about it. In the end, I realized the world has a serious problem, and if we carry on putting too much carbon and methane into the earth’s atmosphere, we’re going to snuff out the people and all the world’s species.

    Gore is a judge for the Virgin Earth Challenge. How did you meet the former U.S. veep?

    He came to my house a year and a half ago and said, “I want to spend two hours and try to convince you to tackle this problem.” By the end of those two hours, he’d got me thinking. A few months later I came up with the idea that since we had a dirty business in our airlines, if we put all our profits toward tackling global warming, it would be a good signal.

    But Virgin Atlantic planes are still flying and producing emissions. Why not quit a dirty business altogether?

    What we need to do is get our own house in order and reduce our carbon output. We’re experimenting with towing planes to and from runways rather than turning on engines before pushback, and we’re trying to buy lighter, more fuel-efficient planes. If we pull out, someone else will step in. Instead, we decided to reinvest all profits from our transportation businesses into trying to discover clean fuels.

    The Earth Challenge is initially open for three years. Have you had any entries yet?

    We’ve had over 15,000 submissions in the first month, so we’re wading through them at the moment. There’s one or two that the judges are [happy] about. They’re complicated but could be quite exciting.

    You now own two private islands in the British Virgin Islands, and you’ve said they’ll be carbon neutral. How does that work?

    We’ll have windmills for wind energy and solar [panels] for solar energy as well as for when the wind’s not blowing. We may have a little bit of wave power as well. No petrol on the islands is the plan. Hopefully we’ll get there.

    From the April 2, 2007 issue, Fortune

    http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/04/02/8403412/index.htm

    From the Virgin Blue:

    image

    Our Inflight Magazine

    image

    venturing into virgin territory

    From a student paper to one of the world’s ‘mega-brands’ and a foray into space, Sir Richard Branson has seen it all. And he’s still got time to save the world, writes Catherine McCormack.

    Richard Banson’s can-do attitude, sharp business acumen and grand spirit of adventure have paved his successes in life. From the fledgling record mail-order business run from the basement of the London flat he lived in as a 16-year-old, he has transformed Virgin into a global empire with 350 individual companies, 45,000 employees and an annual profit of around US$250 million (A$290 million).

    Now the 57-year-old billionaire ‘multipreneur’ can add passionate environmentalist to the list. And, possibly very soon, astronaut.

    In the past two years, Virgin has announced three new ventures: Virgin Fuels, a company dedicated to developing environmentally-sound fuel; the Virgin Earth Challenge, a US$25 million (A$29 million) prize for the individual or team who develops technology to remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; and Virgin Galactic, a space tourism operator that sends paying customers on a round-trip into outer space.

    That these companies and the causes they represent are groundbreaking shouldn’t come as any great surprise. In his 41-year career, Branson has launched everything from Virgin Blue to Virgin Brides, breaking every ‘rule’ of business along the way. He’s thrived on doing the unpredictable, and often achieved the unthinkable.

    Yet fame and money are no longer what drive Branson. They’re an incentive, sure, but the grand prize no more. The Englishman’s real passions are to challenge people’s perceptions and make a positive difference to the world, particularly when it comes to the causes he champions, such as world poverty, health and global warming.

    Heralding a move away from fossil fuels seems an odd choice for a man whose billion-dollar transport enterprises rely on the stuff. But Branson, who was once described as “capitalistic in business but socially communist”, isn’t at all afraid to put his money, or his business reputation, where his conscience is.

    “I’ve always said that I want to build the most respected brand in the world,” Branson said in an interview with Forbes magazine. “If we can send people into space in an environmentally friendly spacecraft that will help enhance our brand. [And] if we can invent an alternative fuel that tackles global warming and can one day be used in airplanes that will enhance our brand and tackle global warming – and enable me to sleep better at night.”

    It was former US Vice President and star of the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore, who made Branson see how important he could be in global efforts to save the world.

    “I was sceptical [about global warming],” Branson said during an interview on US TV show Good Morning America. “But I’ve met a lot of scientists. I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve had Al Gore spend two hours at my home giving me his personal time to convince me and, sadly, I’m now convinced the world has a serious problem.”

    Shortly after the two men met, Branson announced, at a Global Initiative organised by former US President Bill Clinton in September 2006, that all of his profits from all of Virgin’s transport companies – including its five airlines – would be invested in developing clean energy sources that do not contribute to global warming. Profits are estimated to be US$3 billion (A$3.5 billion) over the next 10 years.

    “Richard’s commitment is groundbreaking not only because of the price tag – which is phenomenal – but also because of the statement that he is making: Clean energy is good for the world, and it’s good for business,” commented Clinton.

    Also in September, Branson launched Virgin Fuels, a company which will invest up to US$400 million (A$465 million) over a three-year period to develop earth-friendly biofuels. “It’s a commitment to try and find alternative fuels – for planes, for cars, for all forms of transport – and ultimately, obviously, to take on the oil companies,” he said.

    In February this year, the business mogul again teamed up with Gore to launch the Virgin Earth Challenge Prize, a US$25 million (A$29 million) bounty to the individual or team who come up with a commercially viable way to suck massive amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Among the Challenge’s judges is acclaimed scientist, explorer, conservationist and the 2007 Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery.

    “Sir Richard Branson is the rare individual who captures and commands attention, and he has the guts to do something bold,” said Gore. “And a lot of people are going to follow his lead.”

    http://www.virginblue.com.au/products/voyeur/aug07/index.php?section=Venturing%20into%20Virgin%20territory

    And some news on Branson’s environmental investments:

    image

    Virgin’s Branson Invests in Cilion

    September 11, 2006

    Richard Branson invested more than $60 million into Cilion recently, a company that will make bioethanol from corn. Cilion raised a total of $160 million earlier this month.

    In total, Virgin Fuels, the subsidiary used for the investment, is investing $400 million in several biofuel companies, The Sunday Times reports (via Free Republic). Virgin Fuels is already working with UK’s government to make it economic for train companies to use biodiesel. Branson is understood to be considering other big investments in a range of other alternative-energy technologies, including wind power, hydro-electric and possibly even small nuclear stations.

    Cilion is expected to start work on the first of seven bioethanol plants within a few weeks.

    http://www.environmentalleader.com/2006/09/11/virgins-branson-invests-in-cilion/

    AND

    Branson Commits $3B to Renewable Energy

    September 21, 2006

    branson-commits-3b-68.jpgVirgin Group founder Richard Branson will spend three billion dollars in the next 10 years on a variety of projects to combat global warming and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The announcement was made at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, Yahoo News reports.

    Branson said Virgin Group will invest all future profits from its airline and train businesses into renewable energy initiatives within the company and in other investments in new biofuel research and other projects to tackle emissions related to global warming. Virgin currently estimates this commitment to be three billion dollars over the next 10 years.

    Virgin said the initiative would take the form of investment in new fuel technologies through an investment unit called Virgin Fuels, for which Branson’s group has pledged 400 million dollars in the next three years.

    The first investment is in Cilion, which was announced earlier this month.

    http://www.environmentalleader.com/2006/09/21/branson-commits-3b-to-renewable-energy/

    AND

    Branson: Airlines Can Cut CO2 Emissions 25% in 2 Years

    December 14, 2006

    Even though high fuel prices have cost the Virgin Group and Virgin Atlantic about a billion dollars a year in increased costs because of its trains and planes, Richard Branson prays that fuel prices remain high in order to stir people to take action to address global warming, Grist reports (via MSNBC).

    Branson said the airline industry can reduce its CO2 emissions by about 25 percent over the next two years. Branson said he has started towards that goal by towing planes to the runway with an electric tug instead of taxiing planes.

    Branson also said that he supports some type of a carbon tax for airlines. “Anything like that that cuts down greenhouse gases I support.”

    Earlier this week, Virgin Atlantic pulled out of the UK government’s carbon emission reduction scheme after the air passenger duty was doubled.

    Branson said that if there’s an adequate train service covering short-haul routes, people should be going by train, which produces about eight times less CO2 than planes.

    “I think it should be government mandated,” Branson said.

    In September, Branson announced that Virgin Group will spend three billion dollars in the next 10 years on a variety of projects to combat global warming and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. That announcement followed his investing more than $60 million into Cilion, a company that makes bioethanol from corn.

    http://www.environmentalleader.com/2006/12/14/branson-airlines-can-cut-co2-emissions-25-in-2-years/

    AND

    Virgin Group, NTR Form Virgin Bioverda

    January 17, 2007

    virgin-group-ntr-685.jpgRichard Branson’s Virgin Group and NTR have formed a joint venture company, VBV LLC (Virgin Bioverda), that will focus on U.S.-based ethanol. VBV’s first deal is an investment in two 100 million gallon corn to ethanol plants – Indiana Bioenergy in Indiana and Ethanol Grain Processors in Tennessee. The total capital investment in these projects will be in the region of $336 million.

    Construction of both plants is to be carried out by Fagen, Inc. and is expected to be completed in 2008. VBV says it is has already identified a number of additional projects for development in 2007/08, and the company intends to look for additional biofuel opportunities in both North America and Europe.

    “This is our second venture in the biofuel market in the U.S. since Virgin Fuels formed under the management of Shai Weiss,” said Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group.

    Richard Branson has pledged to invest up to $3 billion over the next 10 years to combat global warming. In September, Branson invested more than $60 million into, a company that will make bioethanol from corn. The new investments bring Virgin’s total financial commitment to the renewable energy sector to $150 million in the last twelve months.

    NTR’s recently announced corporate strategy is to invest up to $3 billion in renewable energy over the next five years.

    http://www.environmentalleader.com/2007/01/17/virgin-group-ntr-form-virgin-bioverda/

    AND

    Virgin To Avoid Buying 4 Engine Planes For Environmental Reasons

    September 4, 2007

    virgin-to-avoid-3269.jpgRichard Branson says Virgin Atlantic will aim to avoid buying four-engined airplanes in future for both economic and environmental reasons, Reuters reports. Virgin Atlantic’s fleet of 38 planes all have four engines, and it has six four-engined Airbus A380 superjumbos on order.

    But in April the airline announced it was buying 15 of Boeing’s new fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner jets with 2 engines.

    Virgin is developing biofuels for aircraft alongside Boeing and engine-maker GE Aviation and plans to test them next year.

    http://www.environmentalleader.com/2007/09/04/virgin-to-avoid-buying-4-engine-planes-for-environmental-reasons/

    Related Stories
    Boeing and Virgin Announce Environmental Partnership
    Virgin Unveils Fuel-Saving Plan
    Virgin To Test 747 On Biofuel
    Branson: Airlines Can Cut CO2 Emissions 25% in 2 Years
    Virgin Launches New Green Fund

    image

    Welcome

    Virgin Green Fund has been established to invest in companies in the renewable energy and resource efficiency sectors in the US and Europe. We are a sector-focused, multi-stage investment firm investing primarily in expansion/growth capital opportunities with an allocation to earlier stage venture capital opportunities. We are committed to helping companies at an inflection point of substantial growth and/or disruptive innovation. Diversification is a cornerstone of our strategy, investing across stage, geography and technology in our core sectors

    image image

    Virgin Green Fund is uniquely positioned to access attractive investment opportunities, and help portfolio companies maximise value:

    • Our experienced investment team has a demonstrated track record in helping companies to build, shape and accelerate growth
    • Our strong business relationship network and strategic vision help us attract valuable partners to propel our portfolio companies towards value creation
    • Our deep insight on market evolution helps us form a unique position on the risk/return profile of investment opportunities across multiple stages
    • Our brand awareness and affiliation with Sir Richard Branson create unparalleled deal flow and recognition

    Investment Approach

    At Virgin Green Fund, we seek out opportunities to partner with superior management teams and established businesses seeking to raise expansion or growth capital. In addition, we evaluate disruptive technologies in our core sectors. Our portfolio companies match our investment charter.

    image image

    Our investments span across stage, geography and technology in renewable energy and resource efficiency sectors.

    We work alongside a number of leading investors on many of our investments.We partner with our portfolio companies as an active lead investor, leveraging our expertise and network, our experience in building great businesses, and our strong relationships with corporations, governments, academic institutions and NGOs.

    image image

    Our Investment Charter:

    • Invest in companies whose products and services reduce net greenhouse gas emissions and/or improve management of scarce resources, operate in environmentally and economically sustainable markets, and have a long-term positive impact on their communities and society more broadly
    • Conduct business with our partners in a way that is open, collaborative, based on trust and equitable

    image image

    http://www.virgin-fuels.net/

    http://www.virgingreenfund.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=29&Itemid=35

    And for ye of little faith:

    VIRGIN ATLANTIC 747 TO TEST BIOFUEL IN EARLY 2008

    image


    US: October 16, 2007

    BOSTON – British billionaire Richard Branson said on Monday his Virgin Group hopes to produce clean biofuels by around the start of the next decade and early next year will test a jet plane on renewable fuel.

    Virgin hopes to provide clean fuel for buses, trains and cars within three or four years, Branson told a Mortgage Bankers Association meeting in Boston.

    In the meantime, Virgin will be conducting a test jet flight on renewable fuels. “Early next year we will fly one of our 747s without passengers with one of the fuels that we have developed,” Branson told the annual conference.

    Virgin is developing biofuels for aircraft in conjunction with Boeing Co and engine-maker GE Aviation, a unit of General Electric Co. Previously, Branson had said the company would test the fuel sometime next year and that some people had said it would be late in the year.

    Air New Zealand has said it plans to test a flight on a combination fuel of biofuel and kerosene in late 2008, but Virgin is trying to beat that airline by testing biofuels first.

    Branson pledged last year to spend all the profit over the next 10 years from his 51 percent stake in Virgin’s airline and rail businesses on fighting global warming.

    He also created Virgin Fuels, which is investing US$400 million over three years in renewable energy initiatives, as part of the pledge.

    Biofuels, at this point mostly ethanol and biodiesel, have witnessed explosive growth this year amid record oil prices and concern about global warming. They are believed to emit less greenhouse gases because they are made from plants like corn and soybeans that absorb carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas, when they grow.

    Cutting emissions of heat-trapping gases from transportation sources is more difficult than cutting them from stationary sources like power plants. Power stations can switch from coal, the heaviest greenhouse gas emitter, to cleaner burning natural gas.

    On Monday, Branson said jets may have problems using ethanol, the most common biofuel, which is made mainly from corn in the United States and sugar cane in Brazil.

    He said ethanol freezes at 15,000 feet (4,600 meters) and that butanol, a fuel similar to gasoline that can be made from biomass, may be a better alternative. It is also less corrosive than ethanol.

    Virgin Fuels has invested in a small number of US ethanol projects and hopes eventually to produce branded biofuels, the company’s managing partner said earlier this year.

    Separately, Branson said Virgin would name one of its Galactic crafts — planned for use in space tourism — after his friend Steve Fossett, the millionaire adventurer who disappeared in a small private plane in the US West early last month.

    Test flights of the Galactic crafts begin next year and passenger service is expected to begin in 2009.

    Story by Al Yoon

    image http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/44849/story.htm

    So, are you are believer yet?

    No more sunbathing – is privacy dead?

    This came home to me a few days ago when my 14 yr. old daughter had me watch it – she showed me the street we live on, and crystal clear views of our house, our driveway, the ladder leaning on the fence, and even my Chevy Cavalier that had been totaled. The picture was taken last summer, but it was eerie to “drive” up and down your street, the street of my ex (and my ex-house), and even up to the gates of my ex’s mother’s gated community – even though the gates were open, they apparently can’t enter such a place. It was rather unsettling – just like the satellite images I saw when I placed our address in the search bar – a friend from Germany could identify it by the parking lot behind out fence, the car in front, etc. And what if I had been sunbathing – not a pretty sight at my age and weight, but I have the “illusion”, the operative word here, of complete privacy in my backyard, surrounded by 6-ft fences. Now I wouldn’t go top-less, but I still wouldn’t want anyone to see me in a bathing suit, or similar revealing apparel! So here is the story behind this, first from my local news:

    GOOGLE PUTS PICTURES OF YOUR HOUSE ONLINE

    04:10 PM MST on Saturday, February 16, 2008

    KTVB.COM


    See how it works

    BOISE – If you live in Ada County, chances are a truck loaded with computers and camera gear has roamed past your house snapping pictures as it goes along.

    Google launched its Street View service last May to a few select cities – and now the program has hit the Treasure Valley. A vehicle went slowly down many streets in Ada County, methodically taking pictures and recording the precise location of the image.

    Engineers at Google take all the images and data and translate it to an easy-to-use overlay on the company’s popular Google Maps site.

    The Boise images became available on Tuesday, along with Albany, NY, Salt Lake City, UT, Juneau, AK, Kansas City, KS, Milwaukee, WI, San Antonio, TX, Raleigh, NC and Manchester, NH. The latest cities bring the count to 33.

    The photos appear to have been taken this summer – with lush green grass and full trees.

    Users can even scroll from photo to photo, giving the sensation they are walking down the street.

    Most areas in Boise, Eagle, Star, Meridian, Garden City and Kuna are covered – though there are sizable gaps in southeast and northwest Boise, and a few spotty areas mixed in.

    Some are concerned about privacy and Google told the New York Times that it allows a user to request an image be removed. Google also noted to the newspaper that it only features imagery taken on public property.

    Click over to Google Maps. Once there, type in Boise, ID – and click the “Street View” button in the upper right hand side of the map. You can type in an address, or use the map to navigate to a location – then click the Street View link. Click and drag the photos to move around.”

    http://www.ktvb.com/sharedcontent/newslink/thumbnail/ktvb/087/googlemaps_3181-t240.jpg

    Street View car 3

    Picture of car and camera

    Now all are NOT happy in the land of Googleville:

    Get ready for your close-up

    Google’s acclaimed, criticized Street View bears down on Boston

    By Robert Weisman, Globe Staff / December 11, 2007

    Google Inc.’s controversial Street View feature, which offers 360-degree, street-level images of urban life so clear that passersby often can be identified, is set to make its Boston debut this morning.

    Starting at around 10 a.m., Internet users who click on the “Street View” box on Google Maps (maps.google.com), will be able to peek at images from streets in Boston and surrounding communities. The views were stitched together from images taken by Google employees over the past year from cars and vans equipped with cameras.

    The feature, which already captures street scenes in 15 cities across the country, has become popular among people planning vacations, searching for shops or restaurants, or checking out landmarks such as Wrigley Field in Chicago or the Empire State Building in New York. But it drew howls of protests from privacy advocates when it was launched last May in San Francisco, where people complained about everything from photos of recognizable men entering adult bookstores to an image of a cat in a window.

    “We take privacy concerns seriously,” said Stephen Chau, product manager for Google Maps. “All these images are taken on public streets. It’s exactly what you could see walking down the street.”

    But while Google has developed technology that can obscure faces and license plate numbers in Street View images, the Mountain View, Calif., company has said it will blur faces and plate numbers only in countries where it is required to do so, not in the United States.

    Street View’s rollout in Boston is part of a larger debut of the feature today in eight more cities, including Providence, Dallas, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Detroit, Minneapolis, and St. Paul. Google officials yesterday said they could not specify which Boston or suburban streets would be visible. The service covers only certain streets and neighborhoods in the cites where it’s now available, although in some locations, such as San Francisco, the majority of streets have been photographed. Google plans eventually to extend Street View to cities and towns of all sizes worldwide.

    Google is also introducing a “mashup” service today that will enable Internet users to import Street View panoramas from particular streets or neighborhoods to their own websites or blogs. The service is intended to make it easier for people to use Street View to recommend sights, locate coffee shops, or design cyber-walking tours.

    While those might be legitimate uses of Street View, the feature also has the potential to be used for more questionable pursuits, such as compiling digital dossiers on individuals, critics warned.

    “As Google gets closer and closer to its stated goal of indexing all the world’s information, more and more issues arise,” said John G. Palfrey Jr., executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. “In the privacy realm, Google is asking people for a lot of trust. The ball is really in Google’s court to prove they’re not going to violate people’s privacy.”

    Google's Street View

    A sample of Google’s Street View feature. The company says it will not blur faces and plate numbers in its US street images.

    Other companies also have released products in the drive-by image space, including EveryScape Inc. in Waltham and Povo Inc. in Boston. EveryScape moved up its launch to the same day as Google’s to capitalize on the publicity generated by the larger company.

    Street View does what it’s intended to do very well,” said Jim Schoonmaker, the EveryScape chief executive. “But they’re focused on streets. We’ve been up and down ski mountains, on beaches, and in and out of businesses like restaurants and dental offices.”

    Images from Street View and similar services are not live. They capture a point in time when sections of city streets were photographed, typically over a period of months, by small teams of Google employees driving in company cars with roof-mounted cameras equipped with global positioning technology that digitally matches the images with their locations on a map. The company hopes to refresh its images to document changing streets, but its highest priority has been expanding to new cities, Chau said.

    Internet users visiting Street View are shown a map of the United States and can click on icons shaped like cameras to view cities Google has photographed. From there, they can type in a street address or call up blue-outlined streets to view images that can be rotated and zoomed in.

    Google, in refusing to blur faces in US cities, has faced a chorus of critics in cities already catalogued in Street View, such as San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, who have called on the company to install technology that will make people pictured more anonymous. One of Street View’s critics, Kevin Bankston, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a public interest group focusing on technology issues, was photographed on Street View smoking on his way to work in San Francisco.

    “That was of concern to me because not all of my family knew I smoked,” Bankston said. Google ultimately removed the image at his request, but Bankston said the incident demonstrated the potential for worse abuse if other people were photographed going to Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, health clinics for sensitive procedures, or other places that could compromise their privacy. He said he felt the Google feature was part of an ominous trend that included people taking pictures of others with camera phones and posting them on the Internet.

    http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2007/12/11/get_ready_for_your_close_up/

    Protests accompany Google’s expansion of Street View

    By Robert Weisman, The Boston Globe, December 11, 2007

    Despite protests from privacy advocates, Google on Tuesday introduced its Street View feature for eight more U.S. cities, offering 360-degree, street-level images of urban life so clear that passers-by often can be identified.

    The feature is available on Google Maps, which had captured street scenes in 15 American cities before the expansion Tuesday.

    It has become popular among people planning vacations, searching for shops or restaurants, or checking out landmarks.

    But it drew protests from privacy advocates when it was introduced in May in San Francisco, where people complained about everything from the clear photos of men entering adult bookstores to an image of a cat in a window.

    “We take privacy concerns seriously,” said Stephen Chau, product manager for Google Maps. “All these images are taken on public streets. It’s exactly what you could see walking down the street.”

    The views were stitched together from images taken by Google employees over the past year from cars and vans equipped with cameras. But while Google has developed technology that can obscure faces and license plate numbers in Street View images, the company has said it will blur those images only in countries where it is required to do so, not in the United States.

    The eight new cities are Boston; Dallas and Fort Worth in Texas, Indianapolis; Detroit; Minneapolis; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Providence, Rhode Island. The service covers only certain streets and neighborhoods in the cites where it is available, although in some cities, like San Francisco, the majority of streets have been photographed.

    Google said it would extend Street View to cities and towns of all sizes worldwide.

    Google is also introducing a “mashup” service Tuesday that would enable Internet users to import Street View panoramas from particular streets or neighborhoods to their own Web sites or blogs. The service is intended to make it easier for people to use Street View to recommend sights, locate coffee shops, or design virtual walking tours.

    Critics warn that while those might be legitimate uses of Street View, the feature also has the potential to be used for more questionable pursuits, like compiling digital dossiers on individuals.

    “As Google gets closer and closer to its stated goal of indexing all the world’s information, more and more issues arise,” said John Palfrey Jr., executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. “In the privacy realm, Google is asking people for a lot of trust. The ball is really in Google’s court to prove they’re not going to violate people’s privacy.”

    Images from Street View and similar services are not live. They capture a point in time when sections of city streets were photographed, typically over a period of months. Small teams of Google employees take the pictures from vehicles with roof-mounted cameras equipped with global positioning technology that digitally match the images with their locations on a map. The company hopes to refresh its images to document changing streets, but its highest priority has been expanding to new cities, Chau said.

    Internet users visiting Street View are shown a map of the United States and can click on icons shaped like cameras to view cities Google has photographed. From there, they can type in a street address or call up blue-outlined streets to view images that can be rotated and zoomed in.

    Google, in refusing to blur faces of individuals in U.S. cities, has faced a chorus of critics in cities already catalogued in Street View, including New York, and Chicago, who have called on the company to install technology that makes people pictured more anonymous.

    One of Street View’s critics, Kevin Bankston, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a public interest group focusing on technology issues, was photographed on Street View smoking on his way to work in San Francisco.

    “That was of concern to me because not all of my family knew I smoked,” Bankston said.

    Google ultimately removed the image at his request, but Bankston said the incident demonstrated the potential for worse abuse if other people were photographed going to Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, health clinics for sensitive procedures, or other places that could compromise their privacy. He said he felt the Google feature was part of an ominous trend that included people taking pictures of others with camera phones and posting them on the Internet.

    “Rather than a Big Brother scenario, we’re looking at a Little Brother scenario where more and more of us are surveilling each other,” Bankston warned. “That is a trend that is fraught with a level of privacy risk that we as a society have not yet come to grips with.”

    Google’s Chau, however, said that while Street View critics have been vocal, the company has received no more than a couple of dozen requests from people seeking to remove pictures of themselves since the Street View feature was launched last spring.

    “This hasn’t been a big concern among our users,” he said. “The biggest complaint is the service isn’t available in their city yet.” http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/11/technology/street.php?page=1

    GOOGLE COMES TO TOWN, ALONG WITH SOME PRIVACY CONCERNS

    2/1/08 by Stu Woo, Brown Daily Herald

    Minsuk Kim ’08, seen here on Google Street View, walks down Williams Street with a friend. Media Credit: Courtesy of Google, Inc.

    One day last fall, Minsuk Kim ’08 put on a teal sweater, gray pants and black shoes. He and a friend then walked east on Williams Street, around the corner from Kim’s apartment.Kim doesn’t recall this particular incident. But Google does.

    On Dec. 11, the search engine giant introduced a service called “Street View” to Providence. The feature, integrated with the popular Google Maps, allows Internet users to get a panoramic view of most Providence street addresses.

    Google says that Street View is a practical tool allowing users to, say, see if parking is available around an address or to find the name of a business they passed by. But critics complain the product is invasive and smacks of “Big Brother,” since Street View takes such clear photos – many of which include distinguishable shots of unsuspecting passersby.

    Like Kim, who didn’t notice anyone or anything photographing him. He didn’t even know his likeness was on Street View until a friend sent him a text message over winter break, telling him to check out Williams Street.

    So Kim went online. There he was, walking toward either his friend’s house or a liquor store, he says. He laughed when he saw the image, which was clear enough for any acquaintance to recognize him.

    “I just think it’s funny,” Kim says. “I also wasn’t doing anything incriminating, but I could see how it could be a problem.”

    “Don’t Be Evil”

    When Google first introduced Street View last May, the Mountain View, Calif., company imagined it as a way to further “understand the world through images.”

    “With Street View, you can virtually explore city neighborhoods by viewing and navigating within 360-degree scenes of street-level imagery,” wrote Stephen Chau, Street View’s product manager, in a Google blog entry introducing the tool. “It feels as if you’re walking down the street!”

    With Street View, which debuted in five cities and is now in 23, Google introduced a technology that seemed unfathomable just a few years ago. Though Amazon.com and other companies have attempted similar projects, Street View is by far the most advanced, since it seamlessly stitches images together to create a virtual street.

    Google uses regular cars, equipped with “imaging technology,” to collect images and location data as they drive down public streets, wrote Elaine Filadelfo, a Google spokeswoman, in an e-mail. Filadelfo added that the vehicles have the “Google Maps” logo on them.

    Street View is simple to use. Users enter a street address in Google Maps and, if the feature is enabled for that particular location, click “Street View.” They will then see a panoramic shot of that location and can virtually move up or down a street using the arrow buttons.

    Filadelfo wrote that Street View images are usually a couple of months to a year old when they are uploaded. Google plans to update its Street View images in the future, she added, and is currently working on adding high-definition photos in a “wide variety of cities.”

    Those high-definition photos may not sit well with critics who say Street View already intrudes too much on individual rights. Though the product breaks no laws for the most part – after all, the images are shot from public property – it raises serious ethical questions, says Rebecca Jeschke, spokeswoman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group.

    “Something like Google Street View really is the first step in a feeling that we’re being recorded in everything we do,” Jeschke says. “Generally, we can expect a certain amount of anonymity (in public places). This shows a real change to that, and that’s disturbing.”

    Street View can be potentially embarrassing. When the feature debuted last year, bloggers posted some of their favorite images: of sunbathers, of people entering or leaving strip clubs and even one of a man who appears to be breaking into a house.

    “You shouldn’t have to think about whether or not you’re on camera when you’re going to the doctor or perhaps going to drug treatment,” Jeschke says. She adds that a journalist found a Street View image of Kevin Bankston, one of Jeschke’s co-workers, smoking, “a habit that he’s not proud of.”

    Bankston, a lawyer for the EFF, has urged Google to make it easier for people to remove photos of themselves on Street View. Jeschke says this still doesn’t totally solve the problem, since most people wouldn’t know where they would have been photographed. She believes Google should make it a priority to blur faces or remove people from photographs. The company should have the technology to do that, she says, since it has the “best programmers in the country.”

    Filadelfo wrote that Google “takes privacy very seriously.” The company has set up a simple, online process that allows clearly-identified individuals to request that their photos be removed.

    Google, whose informal corporate motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” currently doesn’t have any plans to automatically blur faces in Street View, Filadelfo wrote, though she added that the laws may “vary by country to abide by local laws and cultural norms.” Social networking blog Mashable.com reported on Nov. 30 that Street View will blur all faces and license plates in its European version when it launches.” http://media.www.browndailyherald.com/media/storage/paper472/news/2008/02/01/Features/Google.Comes.To.Town.Along.With.Some.Privacy.Concerns-3183023.shtml

    And From Wikipedia:

    Google Street View is a feature of Google Maps introduced in 2007 that provides 360° panoramic street-level views and allows users to view parts of selected cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas at ground level. When it was launched on May 25, 2007, only five cities were included. It has since expanded to 23 cities, and includes the suburbs of many, and in some cases, other nearby cities.Google Street View, when operated, displays photos that were previously taken by a camera mounted on an automobile, and can be navigated using either the arrow keys on the keyboard or by using the mouse to click on arrows displayed on the screen. Using these devices, the photos can be viewed in different sizes, from any direction, and from a variety of angles. Lines that are displayed along the street that is shown indicate the direction followed by that street.”

    “This feature of Google has raised privacy concerns, with views found to show men leaving strip clubs, protesters at an abortion clinic, sunbathers in bikinis, and other activities. Google maintains that the photos were taken from public property. Before launching the service, Google removed photos of domestic violence shelters, and allows users to flag inappropriate or sensitive imagery for Google to review and remove. The process for requesting that an image be removed is not trivial. Images of potential break-ins, sunbathers and individuals entering adult bookstores have, for example, remained active and these images have been widely republished.

    In Europe, the creation of Google Street View may not be legal in all places. While the laws vary from country to country, many countries in Europe have laws prohibiting the unconsented filming of an individual on public property for the purpose of public display.

    Google has delayed the release of its street views of Washington, D.C. and other nearby areas of Virginia and Maryland (including Baltimore) out of concern from the United States Department of Homeland Security that some of the images taken may be of security-sensitive areas.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Street_View

    Google Fails Privacy Study, Criticizes Watchdog Group

    By Luke O’Brien, June 11, 2007

    Googlelogo_4_2 When Privacy International, a UK-based watchdog group, released a study on Friday ranking the privacy practices of major internet companies, Google may already have known it would wind up dead last, saddled with an overall “hostile to privacy” rating that took into account Google’s data retention policies and recent purchase of online advertising company DoubleClick. Privacy International, for its part, already knew that ranking Google last and below a company such as Microsoft would cause a backlash:

    “We are aware that the decision to place Google at the bottom of the ranking is likely to be controversial, but throughout our research we have found numerous deficiencies and hostilities in Google’s approach to privacy that go well beyond those of other organizations. While a number of companies share some of these negative elements, none comes close to achieving status as an endemic threat to privacy. This is in part due to the diversity and specificity of Google’s product range and the ability of the company to share extracted data between these tools, and in part it is due to Google’s market dominance and the sheer size of its user base. Google’s status in the ranking is also due to its aggressive use of invasive or potentially invasive technologies and techniques.

    The view that Google “opens up” information through a range of attractive and advanced tools does not exempt the company from demonstrating responsible leadership in privacy. Google’s increasing ability to deep-drill into the minutiae of a user’s life and lifestyle choices must in our view be coupled with well defined and mature user controls and an equally mature privacy outlook. Neither of these elements has been demonstrated. Rather, we have witnessed an attitude to privacy within Google that at its most blatant is hostile, and at its most benign is ambivalent. These dynamics do not pervade other major players such as Microsoft or eBay, both of which have made notable improvements to the corporate ethos on privacy issues.”

    Of course, the watchdog group was right. Google immediately cried foul, claiming that Privacy International has a conflict of interest because one of its board members works for Microsoft. Privacy International responded yesterday with an open letter to Google, explaining its position. (the member of its 70-person board in question has been working with Privacy International for six years before taking a job with Microsoft, at which time he offered to resign from PI.)

    Does Google have a legitimate beef or do its actions, as PI suggests, “stem from sour grapes that [it] achieved the lowest ranking amongst the Internet giants?” Decide for yourself.”

    http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/06/google_fails_pr.html

    A Race to the Bottom:
    Privacy Ranking of Internet Service Companies

    image

    A Consultation report

    “Why Google?

    We are aware that the decision to place Google at the bottom of the ranking is likely to be controversial, but throughout our research we have found numerous deficiencies and hostilities in Google’s approach to privacy that go well beyond those of other organizations. While a number of companies share some of these negative elements, none comes close to achieving status as an endemic threat to privacy. This is in part due to the diversity and specificity of Google’s product range and the ability of the company to share extracted data between these tools, and in part it is due to Google’s market dominance and the sheer size of its user base. Google’s status in the ranking is also due to its aggressive use of invasive or potentially invasive technologies and techniques.

    The view that Google “opens up” information through a range of attractive and advanced tools does not exempt the company from demonstrating responsible leadership in privacy. Google’s increasing ability to deep-drill into the minutiae of a user’s life and lifestyle choices must in our view be coupled with well defined and mature user controls and an equally mature privacy outlook. Neither of these elements has been demonstrated. Rather, we have witnessed an attitude to privacy within Google that at its most blatant is hostile, and at its most benign is ambivalent. These dynamics do not pervade other major players such as Microsoft or eBay, both of which have made notable improvements to the corporate ethos on privacy issues.

    In the closing days of our research we received a copy of supplemental material relating to a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission concerning the pending merger between Google and DoubleClick. This material, submitted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and coupled with a submission to the FTC from the New York State Consumer Protection Board, provided additional weight for our assessment that Google has created the most onerous privacy environment on the Internet. The Board expressed concern that these profiles expose consumers to the risk of disclosure of their data to third-parties, as well as public disclosure as evidence in litigation or through data breaches. The EPIC submission set out a detailed analysis of Google’s existing data practices, most of which fell well short of the standard that consumers might expect. During the course of our research the Article 29 Working Group of European privacy regulators also expressed concern at the scale of Google’s activities, and requested detailed information from the company.

    In summary, Google’s specific privacy failures include, but are by no means limited to:

    • Google account holders that regularly use even a few of Google’s services must accept that the company retains a large quantity of information about that user, often for an unstated or indefinite length of time, without clear limitation on subsequent use or disclosure, and without an opportunity to delete or withdraw personal data even if the user wishes to terminate the service.
    • Google maintains records of all search strings and the associated IP-addresses and time stamps for at least 18 to 24 months and does not provide users with an expungement option. While it is true that many US based companies have not yet established a time frame for retention, there is a prevailing view amongst privacy experts that 18 to 24 months is unacceptable, and possibly unlawful in many parts of the world.
    • Google has access to additional personal information, including hobbies, employment, address, and phone number, contained within user profiles in Orkut. Google often maintains these records even after a user has deleted his profile or removed information from Orkut.
    • Google collects all search results entered through Google Toolbar and identifies all Google Toolbar users with a unique cookie that allows Google to track the user’s web movement.17 Google does not indicate how long the information collected through Google Toolbar is retained, nor does it offer users a data expungement option in connection with the service.
    • Google fails to follow generally accepted privacy practices such as the OECD Privacy Guidelines and elements of EU data protection law. As detailed in the EPIC complaint, Google also fails to adopted additional privacy provisions with respect to specific Google services.
    • Google logs search queries in a manner that makes them personally identifiable but fails to provide users with the ability to edit or otherwise expunge records of their previous searches.
    • Google fails to give users access to log information generated through their interaction with Google Maps, Google Video, Google Talk, Google Reader, Blogger and other services.”

    http://www.privacyinternational.org/article.shtml?cmd[347]=x-347-553961

    REQUEST FOR URBAN STREET SIGHTINGS: Submit and Vote on the Best Urban Images Captured by New Google Maps Tool

    By Ryan Singel, May 30, 2007

    Google’s new Street View, a new Google Maps feature that uses vehicle-cameras to take 360-degree street level views of major urban areas, captured all sorts of urban ephemera in the process from tabbies in windows to red light runners.

    Help Wired News capture the best inadvertent urban snapshots. Submit and vote on your favorite urban scenes — be they citizens flaunting the laws or hot dog vendors rocking a sweet style. You can find some inspiration and examples here, New York shots here, and the well named streetviewr.com has some good links, too.”

    image

    “Maybe the guy just forgot his keys. Or he’s practicing for the free climbing contest. Hey, is that a lockpicking set dangling out of his pocket?”

    http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/05/request_for_urb.html

    Domestic Access to Spy Imagery Expands

    By EILEEN SULLIVAN, February 12, 2008

    WASHINGTON (AP) — “A plan to use U.S. spy satellites for domestic security and law-enforcement missions is moving forward after being delayed for months because of privacy and civil liberties concerns.

    The charter and legal framework for an office within the Homeland Security Department that would use overhead and mapping imagery from existing satellites is in the final stage of completion, according to a department official who requested anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about it….

    Domestic agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Interior Department have had access to this satellite imagery for years for scientific research, to assist in response to natural disasters like hurricanes and fires, and to map out vulnerabilities during a major public event like the Super Bowl. Since 1974 the requests have been made through the federal interagency group, the Civil Applications Committee.

    These types of uses will continue when the Homeland Security Department oversees the program and becomes the clearinghouse for these requests. But the availability of satellite images will be expanded to other agencies to support the homeland security mission. The details of how law enforcement agencies could use the images during investigations would be determined in the future after legal and policy questions have been resolved, the official said.

    It is possible that in the future an agency might request infrared imaging of what is inside a house, for instance a methamphetamine laboratory, and this could raise constitutional issues. In these instances, law enforcement agencies would still have to go through the normal process of obtaining a warrant and satisfying all the legal requirements. The National Applications Office also would require that all the laws are observed when using new imaging technology….”

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gM4mwPQcU0j446qIew8P7ZmifwNgD8UP4GG03

    GOOGLE’S STREET VIEW UPSETS PRIVACY ADVOCATES

    By Josh Gerstein, Staff Reporter of the Sun June 13, 2007

    Google’s new Street View service, which allows users to pull up street-level, 360-degree photos of addresses in major urban areas, is cool and more than a little creepy, but is it legal?

    The Web site’s high-tech photo vans have captured and posted shots of a pair of scantily clad sunbathers on Stanford’s campus, a man entering an adult bookstore, and a woman’s thong underwear being exposed as she climbed into a truck.

    Privacy advocates are in an uproar over the service, but Google and its defenders have declared confidently that the firm is in the clear because anyone has the right to publish photos taken from public streets.

    “The images in Street View are lawful. The Street View feature only contains imagery gathered on public property,” a spokeswoman for Google, Megan Quinn, said in a statement sent by e-mail to the Sun. “This imagery is no different from what any person can readily capture or see walking down the street.”

    Legal experts say there is no hard-and-fast legal rule that blesses all public photography. “Privacy laws vary from state to state, but there have been instances where legal liability was found even for photos taken in public,” an attorney urging changes to Street View, Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said.”

    Usually, people doing things in public, even foolish or embarrassing things, are deemed to have waived their privacy rights. The situation becomes more complicated, though, when a person is put in an embarrassing position through no fault of his or her own. Crime or accident victims often feel violated by news photos, but courts almost always throw out suits over such episodes on the grounds that the images were newsworthy. Even when news value is debatable, judges tend to side with the press.

    However, the woman whose so-called whale tail was posted by Google for all to see was not part of any newsworthy event. The episode is almost identical to one of the best-known cases punishing a newspaper for a photo that invaded privacy. In 1961, an Alabama woman, Flora Graham, was visiting a county fair’s funhouse with her young sons when air jets blew her dress up, exposing her panties. Unfortunately for Ms. Graham, a photographer snapped a shot at that very moment and the image showed up on the local newspaper’s front page.

    A jury gave Ms. Graham $4,166 for her anguish, and the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the verdict. “One who is part of a public scene may lawfully be photographed as an incidental part of that scene in his ordinary status,” the court wrote. “Where the status he expects to occupy is changed without his volition to a status embarrassing to an ordinary person of reasonable sensitivity, then he should not be deemed to have forfeited his right to be protected from an indecent and vulgar intrusion of his right of privacy merely because misfortune overtakes him in a public place.”

    Of course, four decades later, social mores and technology have changed. “Anything done almost anywhere can be captured as an image on someone’s cell phone and uploaded to the Internet,” the dean of the University of Richmond law school, Rodney Smolla, said. “That genie can’t be put back in the bottle. I think the law would be reluctant to fight against it.”

    Still, just last year, a lawyer for Lindsay Lohan, cited the funhouse case while threatening a gossip Web site with legal action over a photo in which one of the actress’s nipples was exposed. “Just because a wardrobe malfunction occurred and Ms. Lohan’s right breast was inadvertently and very briefly revealed and someone was able to photograph her in this intrusive manner without her consent or knowledge does not justify or legitimize publication or display of the photo or justify this violation of Ms. Lohan’s right of privacy at a most basic level,” the attorney, Martin Singer, wrote.

    Google does offer a link to request removal of inappropriate Street View photos. The thong shot is no longer on the Web giant’s site, though it is now readily available elsewhere, which makes its deletion from Google of little moment. “The privacy harm may very well have occurred by the time you are aware of it and ask that it be taken down,” Mr. Bankston said. “We would have preferred that Google develop some technology to obscure the pedestrians in Street View before debuting it.”

    http://www.nysun.com/article/56475

    Now it’s up to you to decide if this is helpful, interesting, or a step towards “Big Brother.” It all depends on the usage.

    SciFi Books I Want to Read – my dream buying list…

    SciFi Books (a few of these are more Y/A, but I enjoy those too, and a few are fantasy, but I tried to mark them as such. ** means it looks really good, and is recommended). If they are part of a series, they are noted as such – a missing one – i.e. it starts with #2, means I have #1. Some series have names and are noted, others do not.

    So try a few – you might enjoy them. All had plots I liked, or came recommended by friends.

    Allen, Steve – Resurrection
    Anderson, Barth – Patron Saint of Plagues
    Anderson, Kevin – Metal Swarm (et al)
    Asaron, Catherine – Primary Inversion
    Asher, Neal – Gridlinked #1, The Line of Polity#2, Brassman #3, Polity Agent #4 (Polity Universe) Prador Moon (Polity series), Africa Moon, The Engineer Reconditioned (ss)
    Ashley, Mike – Gateways to Forever
    Asimov – End of Eternity, The God’s Themselves
    Atlanasio, A. A. – Solis
    Atwood, Margaret – Oryx and Crake
    Baker, Kage – In the Garden of Iden, Heaven,
    Black Projects, White Knights: The Company, Anvil of the Work
    Ballantyne, Tony – Capacity
    Banks, Iain – Feersum Endjinn, The Algebraist, Steep Approach to Garbadale, Consider Phlebas, Use of weapons, The Player of Games, Excession, Inversion, Look to Windward, Matter
    Baxter, Stephen – Deep Future (anth), Traces
    Bear, Elizabeth – Carnival, Dust, chains that You Refuse, Whiskey and Water, New Amsterdam
    Bear, Greg – Quantico, Darwin’s Children, Benford, Gregory & Carter, Paul – Iceborn
    Bester, Alfred – Demolished Man
    Birmingham, John – Weapons of Choice
    Bishop, M, ed. – Cross of Centuries
    Blaylock, James – All the Bells on Earth
    Bonta, Vanna – Flight
    Bova, Ben – City of Darkness (ya), Sam Gunn Omnibus
    Bowes, Richard – From the Files of the Time Rangers
    Bradbury, Ray – The Cat’s Pajamas
    Brin, David – Stratos, Glory Season, Sky Horizon (ya), Out of Time: Yanked – Kress (ya)
    Brown, Eric – Helix
    Brunner, John – Jagged Orbit, The Sheep Look Up
    Buckner, M.M. – War Surf
    Butcher, Jim – White Night (Dresden Files)
    Card, Orson Scott- Wyrms, Empire
    Capbianco, Michael – Burster
    Carey, Jacqueline – Kushiel’s Dart, Kushiel’s Avatar
    Carver, Jeff – Neptune Crossing
    Cherryh, C. J. – Downbelow Station
    Clarke, A – Dolphin Island (ya)
    Clarke, Arthur & Stephen Baxter – Time’s Eye#1, Firstborn #2, (Time Odyssey trilogy) Emperor #1, Conqueror #2 (Time’s Tapestry series)
    Clayton, Donald – The Joshua Factor
    Clement, Hal – Mission of Gravity
    Cook, Hugh – Wizards and the Warriors #1, The Wordsmiths and the Warguild, #2 (Chronicles of an Age of Darkness) ** To find and Wake the Dreamer
    Cooper, Brenda – The Silver Ship and the Sea
    Crowther, ed. – Moon Shots (anth)
    Cunningham, Mich – Specimen Days
    Czerneda, Julie – Survival #1, Migration #2, Regeneration #3 (Species Imperative)
    Dann, Jack & Gardner Dozois – Beyond Singularity
    Dann, Jon R. – Song of the Axe
    Davis Russell & Martin H. Greenburg, eds. – Apprentice Fantastic (anth)
    Delaney, Samuel – The Einstein Intersection, Dahlgren
    DeLint, Charles – Spirits in the Wire, Onion Girl
    Dick, Philip K. – Valis
    DiFilippo, P – Fuzzy Dice, Ribopunk, The Steampunk Trilogy
    Doctorow, Cory – Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
    Dowling, Jerry, ed. – The Jack Vane Treasury (ss)
    Duntemann, Jeff – **The Cunning Blood
    Egan, Greg – Schild’s Ladder, Quarantine, Diaspora, Permutation City, Terrenasia
    Eklund, Gordon – A Thunder on Neptune
    Elliot, Kate – King’s Dragon #1, Prince of Dogs #2, Burning Stone #3, Child of Flame #4, Gathering Storm #5, (Crown of Stars – fantasy)
    Ellison, Harlan – Deathbird Stories (SFBC – ss)
    Elrod, P.N., ed. – The Magic Shop (anth)
    Emerson, Earl – Vertical Burn
    Eskridge, Kelly – Dangerous Space (ss)
    Farmer, Nancy – Riverworld, The Ear, The Eye and the Arm, The House of the Scorpion
    Flynn, Michael – Country of the Blind, Eifelheim
    Forward, Robert – Dragon’s Egg#1, **Starquake #2
    Frost, Greg – Fitcher’s Brides
    Gaiman, Neil – Mister Magic, Interworld
    Gardner, James Alan – Vigilant #2, Hunted #3, Trapped #4 (Festina Ramos), Ascending, Gravity Wells (ss)
    Gibson, William – Spook Country, Pattern Recognition
    Golden, Christopher – Myth Hunters, The Borderkind
    Goonan, Kathleen Ann – Rhapsody, Crescent City, In War Times
    Green, Tim – 4th Perimeter
    Greenburg, Martin Harry, ed. – Assassin Fantastic (anth), All Hell Breaking Loose (anth), Gateways (anth)
    Greenburg, Martin H. & Brittiany A. Koren, eds. – Pharoah Fantastic (anth), Fantasy Gone Wrong
    Greenburg, Martin H. & Kerrie Hughes, eds. – Maiden, Matron, Crone (anth), Children of Magic (anth)
    Greenburg, Martin H. & Janet Pack, eds. – Magic Tails (anth)
    Greenburg, Martin H. & John Helfers, Eds. – In The Shadow of evil (anth)
    Greenburg, Martin H. & Russell Davis, eds. – Millennium 3001
    Griffith, Nicola – Slow River
    Grimsley, Jim – The Last Green Tree
    Grimwood, Jon Courteney – End of the World Blues, **Recursion, Pashazade #1, Effendi #2, Felaheen #3 (Arabesk Trilogy – fantasy)
    Hairston, Andrea- Mindscape
    Haldeman, Joe – Camouflage, Forever Free
    Hambly, Barbara – Ishmael (Star Trek)
    Hamilton, Peter – Pandora’s Star, Judas Unchained, Reality Dysfunction Part II, A Quantum Murder, The Dreaming Void
    Harrison, M. John – Nova Swing
    Hartwell, David, ed. – The Space Opera Renaissance (anth)
    Heinelein, RA – Mutants (ya), Outward Bound (SFBC- Podakyne, Have Spacesuit, Starship Troopers), To The Stars (SFBC – Between Planets, Rolling Stones, Starman Jones, Star Beast), Double Star, Beyond the Horizon
    Heinlein, Robert and Spider Robinson – Variable Star
    Herbert, Brian – The Web & the Stars
    Hoyle, Fred – October the First is Too Late (old)
    Jones, Gwyneth – Bold as Love
    Kaye, Marvin, ed. – Don’t Open This Book (anth)
    Kent, Steven – Clone Republic
    Kenyon, Kay – Maximum Ice#1, Braided World #2, Tropic of Creation, Bright of the Sky #1, A World Too Near #2 (The Entire and the Rose series), Leap Point
    Kenyon, Sherrilyn, ed. – My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (anth)
    Keyes, Greg – Newton’s Cannon #1 (The Age of Unreason – fantasy)
    King, Stephen – Dark Tower series, Lissey’s Story
    Kress, Nancy – **Beggars in Spain, Out of Time:Yanked (Brin series)
    Lackey, M & Mallory, James – Outstretched Shadow
    Landis, Geoffrey – Impact Parameter (ss)
    Landon, Kristin – Hidden Worlds
    Lem, Stanilaw – The Investigation
    Levinson, Paul – The Plot to Save Socrates
    Little, Denise, ed. – Creature Fantastic (anth), Time After Time (anth), Hags, Siren and Other Bad Girls of Fantasy (anth), Magic Toybox (anth)
    Lumley, Brian – The House of Doors, Psychomech, Screaming SF (ss)
    Mackay, Scott – Phytosphere
    MacLeod, Ken – Cosmonaut Keep #1, Dark Light #2, Engine City #3 (Engines of Light series), Star Faction #1, Stone Canal #2, Cassini Division #3, (Fall Revolution series), Learning the World, Human front, Cydonia
    Maguire, Greg – Mirror, Mirror (snow White fantasy)
    Martin, Mark & Benford, Gregory – A Darker Geometry
    Martin, George R.R., Gardner Dozois & Daniel Abraham – Hunter’s Run (not an anth)
    Martin, George R.R. ed. – Inside Straight (anth), McAuley, Paul – **Four Hundred Billion Stars, Secret Harmony, Eternal Light (400 Billion Stars series), Of the Fall, Fairyland, Red Dust, White Devils, Secret of Life, Whole Wide World, Child of the River #1, Ancients of days #2, Shrine of the Stars #3 (Confluence series)
    McCaffrey, Anne & Elizabeth Scarborough – Changelings #1, Maelstrom #2 Deluge #3 (Twins of Petaybee – ya/adult), First Warning #1, Second Wave #2, Third Watch #3 (Acorna’s Children – ya/adult)
    McCarthy, Wil – Collapsium #1, Wellstone #2, Lost in Transmission #3, Flies From the Amber
    McDevitt, Jack – Outbound
    McDonald, Ian – River of Gods
    McIntyre, Vonda – Transition
    McKinley, Robin – Blue Sword
    McMullen, Sean – Souls of the Great Machine
    McPhail, Mike – Breach the Hull
    Melko, Richard – Singularities Ring
    Mieville, China – Iron Council, Un Lun Din
    Mitchell, Syne – Technogenesis
    Moon, Elizabeth – Command Decision, Engaging the Enemy, Remnant Population, Speed of Dark
    Morgan, Richard – Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, Woken Furies (series)
    Moriarty, Chris – Spin State, Spin Control
    Nagata, Linda – Tech Heaven
    Niven, Larry – Neutron Star (ss)
    Niven, Larry & Lerner – Fleet of Worlds
    Norton, Andre – Zero Stone (ya)
    Norton, Andre & Martin Greenburg, eds – Catfantastic 5
    Olson, Mark, ed. – Years in the Making (L. Sprague deCamp ss)
    Palmer, Philip – Debatable Space
    Parks, Paul – The Tourmaline
    Patterson, James – Maximum Ride: Angel Experiment, School’s Out Forever (y/a)
    Pohl, Fred – The Coming of Quantum Cats, Platinum Pohl (ss)
    Pratchett, Terry – Going Postal, Men at Arms
    Preuss, Paul – Broken Symmetries #1, Secret Passages #2
    Reed, Kit – Dogs of Truth (ss)
    Reed, Robert – Marrow#1, Well of Stars #2
    Remic, Andy – War Machine
    Resnick, Mike, ed. – Alien Crimes (anth), Down These Dark Spaceways (anth), I, Alien (anth)
    Reynolds, Alastair – The Prefect, Galactic North
    Roberson, Chris – Here, There, Everywhere
    Robinson, Kim Stanley – The Galilieans, Wild Shore #1, Gold Coast #2, Pacific Edge #3 (Three Californias series)
    Robson, Justina – Keeping it Real #1, Selling out #2 (Quantum Gravity series), Mappa Mundi, Natural History, Silver Screen
    Rosenblum, Mary – Horizons (anth)
    Rucker, Rudy – Postsingular
    Rusch, Kristine Kathryn – White Mists of Power , The Black Queen #1, the Black King #2, Sacrifice #1(Book of the Fey)
    Rusch, Kristine Kathryn, ed. – Familiars
    Russell, Mary Doria – The Sparrow, Children of God
    Russo, RP, ed – Futures from Nature
    Sawyer, Robert – Frameshift, Terminal Exposure, Rollback, Mindscan, Hominids #1, Humans #2, Hybrids #3 (Neanderthal Parallax), Fast Forward
    Scalzi, Jon – An Old Man’s War, The Android’s Dream
    Scarborough, Elizabeth Ann – Cleopatra 7.2
    Schroeder, Karl – Queen of Candesce, Engines of Recall
    Schmidt, Stanley – Newton and the Quasi-Apple
    Scott, Tim – Outrageous Fortune
    Shaw, Bob – Other Days, Other Eyes
    Shepard, Joel – Crossover
    Simmons, Dan – Olympos, Fall of Hyperion #2, Endymion #3, Rise of Endymion #4
    Silverberg, Robert – Time of the Great Freeze (ya)
    Snyder, Maria – Poison Study
    Stableford, Brian – Architects of Immortality
    Steele, Allan – Coyote Rising, Spindrift
    Stephenson, Neal – Snow Crash, Quicksilver, Cryptonomicon
    Sterling, Bruce – Schismatrix Plus
    Stewart, Ian – Flatterland
    Stirling, S.M. – Protector’s War #2, A Meeting at Corvallis #3
    Strahan, Jonathon – Best Short Novels 2004, 2005, 2006
    Stross, Charles – Glasshouse, Singularity Sky, Iron Sunrise, Halting State, The Family Trade #1, The Hidden family #2, Clan Corporate #3, Merchant’s War #4 (The Merchant Princes series), The Jennifer Morgue
    Suzaki, Koji & Glynne Walley – Ring #1, Spiral #2, Loop #3 (Ring trilogy)
    Tepper, Sheri – Sideshow, A Plague of Angels, Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, The Awakeners (Northshore, Southshore), Singer From the Sea
    Thomas, Jeffrey – Deadstock,
    Thompson, Mercy – Moon Called
    Tiptree, James – The Girl Who was Plugged In
    Tobias, Micael – Voice of the Planet
    Traviss, Karen – Matriach, Judge
    Van Voght, A.E. – Slan
    Varley, John – Red Thunder, Red Lightening
    Vinge, Vernor – Marooned in Realtime
    Vonarburg, Elizabeth – A Game of Perfection
    Watts, Peter – Blindsight
    Weber, David – Off Armageddon Reef
    Weinbaum, Stanley – The New Adam
    Westerfield – Peeps, Fine Prey, Evolution’s Darling, The Risen Empire #1, The Killing of Worlds #2 (Succession series) Midnighters (The Secret Hour, Touching Darkness, Blue Noon)
    Wharton, Ken – Divine Intervention
    Williams, Tad – War of the Flowers
    Williams, Walter Jon – Voice of the Whirlwind, Hardwired, Implied Spaces
    Williamson, Jack – Stonehenge Gate
    Willis, Connie, & S. Williams, eds – A Woman’s Liberation: Futures By and About Women
    Wilson, R.C. – Chronoliths, Darwinia, Axis, Spin
    Womack, J – Random Acts of Senseless Violence
    Zebrowski, George – Macrolife: A Mobile Utopia
    Zeddies, Ann – Steel Helix
    Zettel, Sarah – Reclamation

    Doll Books For the Younger Set – about them and "by" them

    One of the most beloved types of books I read as a child, and that my children enjoyed having read to them, were classic doll stories. While I had most of Rumer Godden’s books and we read those over and over, and my youngest was at the right age when Ann Martin’s Doll People came out, there are many others as I discovered, including a set of “Story House Dolls” books. I picked the states of my daughters’ births, and the state we live in. Hope you enjoy them!

    Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Goddden

    Miss Happiness and Miss Flower

    Ages 6-10. “England is the last place Nona Fells wants to be. No one asked her if she wanted to leave sunny India to live in a chilly English village with her aunt’s family — and her cousin, Belinda, just hates her! But when two dainty Japanese dolls arrive at Nona’s doorstep, everything begins to change. Like Nona, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower are lonely and homesick, so Nona decides to build them their own traditional Japanese house. Over time, not only does Nona create a home for the dolls, but one for herself as well.

    Originally published in 1961, Rumer Godden’s classic story of friendship and being part of a family is now back in print for a new generation of readers to cherish.” Book description

    This book, and other Rumer Godden doll books, were among my absolute favorite as a child, and this one was long out of print. I read this and Little plum to both my daughters and each of them wanted nothing more than two little Japanese dolls. While living in Hawaii I combed the stores, looking for the right ones, but despite the Japanese department store, and shops, and the celebration of “doll day” for girls, I couldn’t find the ones I want – I’ll keep trying, for my grandchildren, if they ever arrive.

    Little Plum by Rumer Godden

    Ages 6-10. “Rumer Godden excels at creating a gentle fantasy world where dolls have Lives–or in this case, Thoughts–of their own. Nona and Belinda Fell treasure their three Japanese dolls: Miss Happiness, Miss Flower and Little Peach. These special persons enjoy their own Japanese dollhouse and clothes, beds, foods (green paint water tea) and celebrate many traditional customs. While the dolls converse privately, the sisters (who are unaware of their dolls’ communications) plan and dream of a new friendship. They themselves are very different: nine-year-old Nona is neat, polite and very talented with her creative fingers. While eight-year-old Belinda is a fearless tomboy, a reckless daredevil who defies parental authority, common sense and even the laws of gravity, to satisfy her whims.

    But things get really interesting when a rich family buys and improves the big House Next Door. What delicious opportunities to observe the doings and possessions as they move it–and there is a daughter too! Gem proves to be a “motherless” only child, waited on by her personal nanny and a large household staff–all supervised by an authoritarian aunt. The kindly father is often away on business, but after one trip he brings his daughter a Japanese doll of her own. Poor Little Plum–as the spying girls name her and discover–is neglected by her lonely mistress.

    Belinda decides to teach the proper care of Japanese dolls to the sulking snob next door, but soon the teasing and critical notes escalate into a non-verbal war between the headstrong young ladies. Will that “rough child” ever be allowed in the front door of the wealthy but isolated Tiffany-Jones’ mansion? And will Gem ever accept cultural tutelage from mere middle-class English children? This is a delightful read-aloud story for Girls Under Ten. And all women who remember the dolls of their girlhood.” Amazon Customer Review

    The Doll’s House by Rumer Godden

    Ages 6-10. “Rumer Godden, the author of those absorbing novels about nuns of yesteryear, “Black Narcissus” and “In This House of Brede,” both successfully filmed with Deborah Kerr and Diana Rigg respectively, tries her hand here at a book for younger readers. This is the tale of a doll “family,” not related by biology but the simple fate of being thrown together. Although there are nominal mother and father dolls, the real head of the household is Tottie, a wooden farthing doll, wise beyond her childish appearance. The dolls’ relative happiness and the way it is threatened by the appearance of Marchpane, an expensive, arrogant and, as it turns out, really malevolent interloper, makes for surprisingly gripping drama. Indeed, the tale of Marchpane’s machinations and the tragic climax of the story may be too intense for younger or more sensitive children, for whom this book needs to be introduced with care. For the rest of them, and for adults who simply like a good story, “The Dolls’ House” still exerts its considerable spell. Tasha Tudor’s illustrations are a notable contribution as well.” Amazon Customer Review

    The Best-Loved Doll by Rebecca Caudill

    Ages – unknown. “I still have the 1962 paperback edition and the pages are so brittle. I get all choked up reading it to my own daughter now, as I used to when my mother read it to me. It is 30 pages and tells the tender story of a girl named Betsy and her decision to bring her Best-Loved doll to a party. It is a doll that has seen better days. She had many other choices, but she followed her heart. Moral: True beauty is on the inside. I treasure this book as much as Betsy does her doll.” Amazon Customer Review

    Story of Holly and Ivy, The by Rumer Godden

    Ages 4-8. “Ivy, Holly, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones all have one Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she’s sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. And the Jones’s wish more than anything for a son or daughter to share their holiday. Can all three wishes come true? This festive tale is perfectly complemented by beloved Barbara Cooney’s luminous illustrations, filled with the warm glow of the Christmas spirit.” Book Description

    Doll People, The by Ann M. M. Martin

    Ages 7-10. “Passed down from one generation to the next, the Doll family has lived in the same dollhouse, located in the same room of the Palmer family’s house, for 100 years. While the world outside has changed, their own lives have not with two significant exceptions. First, Auntie Sarah Doll suddenly and mysteriously disappeared 45 years ago, when the Doll family belonged to Kate Palmer’s grandmother. More recently, the modern, plastic Funcraft family has moved into Kate’s little sister’s room. Following the time-honored traditions of such well-loved works as Rumer Godden’s The Doll’s House, The Mennyms by Sylvia Waugh and Pam Conrad’s and Richard Egielski’s The Tub People, Martin and Godwin inventively spin out their own variation on the perennially popular theme of toys who secretly come to life. By focusing on Annabelle’s and Tiffany Funcraft’s risky mission to find Auntie Sarah, the authors provide plenty of action and suspense, yet it is their skillfully crafted details about the dolls’ personalities and daily routines that prove most memorable. Selznick’s pencil illustrations cleverly capture the spark of life inhabiting the dolls’ seemingly inanimate bodies. The contemporary draftsmanship frees the art from nostalgia even while the layout which presents the illustrations as standalone compositions as well as imaginatively integrated borders and vignettes reinforces the old-fashioned mood of the doll theme. Doll lovers may well approach their imaginative play with renewed enthusiasm and a sense of wonder after reading this fun-filled adventure. Ages 7-10. Publishers Weekly

    This one and it’s sequel were favorites of my younger daughter, not although being published when my older daughter was young (and missed out something she would have loved), it’s becoming a family favorite – the new Rumer Godden for the modern age,

    The Meanest Doll in the World by Ann M. Martin

    Ages 8-12. “Grade 3-6–Annabell Doll and Tiffany Funcraft are back in Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin’s fun-filled sequel (Hyperion, 2003) to The Doll People (Hyperion, 2000). This time the dolls take a trip outside the house in Kate’s backpack by mistake. Unfortunately, there is a mix-up at school and the dolls wind up in the home of classmate BJ. Here they meet the evil Mimi, a doll who is convinced she shall be queen of all the dolls and has the demanding attitude to prove it. Annabelle and Tiffany, along with an assortment of other dolls, fend off Mimi and her wicked army before returning to their own home. There they discover that Mimi has followed them, bent on revenge. Mimi manages to cause a rift between the Doll and Funcraft families before her own rash behavior causes her downfall. Lynn Redgrave does an admirable job of voicing the various characters and imbuing Mimi with a sly, sneering intonation. Have the book available so listeners can enjoy Brian Selznick’s witty illustrations which do a fabulous job of extending the story. This fantasy with its broad humor, evil machinations, and tales of friendship will delight both fans of the Doll People and those new to the story.” School Library Journal

    The Enchanted Dolls’ House by Robyn Johnson

    Ages – any, although as it’s pop-up, probably 6and up. “Adventure & Romance in Four Period Dollhouses: A Medieval Dollhouse; An 18th Century Neoclassical Dollhouse, A late Victorian Dollhouse, An early 20th Century Dollhouse. 32 pages. The 4 pages of houses are the fronts of the houses that pop forward (that is the 3D). You look in through the windows and doors and see the interior. Very interesting, very creative, and great for the imagination.” Amazon Customer Review

    Enchanted Dolls’ House Wedding by Robyn Johnson

    Enchanted Dolls' House Wedding

    Ages 6-12. “Albert and Lucinda from the beloved The Enchanted Dolls’ House have pled their troth (Victorian for “got engaged!”). It is a happy time for everyone in the Enchanted Dolls’ House. All the dolls from the servant dolls to the toy dolls, even the resident dog and cat dolls enthusiastically join together to celebrate a joyous wedding with all the fashionable and tasteful accoutrements of the Edwardian, Regency and Victorian eras available to them.

    Four masterfully conceived and constructed pop-up buildings amaze with historical accuracy and bustle with activity: Shop for wedding finery in an Edwardian department store. See the toiletries, accessories, hair styles, and beautiful wedding clothes from which the dolls choose. Attend a wedding breakfast, complete with musicians, favors, and a glorious cake garnished with marzipan pearls, pendants and bows. Peek through windows and doors of a Victorian Manor Dolls’ House and a Regency Dolls’ House to see the dolls observe their elegant way of life. And finally, attend a breathtakingly beautiful wedding in a Victorian Chapel.

    Overflowing with doll lore and loving rendered details of wedding gifts, food, and flowers, readers of all ages will attend the wedding of their dreams!” Book Description

    Hitty Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field

    Ages 9-12. “Presented for the first time in audio, here are the charming and adventurous memoirs of an exceptional doll named Hitty. Her story begins in Maine in the early 1800s, where she is transformed from a piece of sturdy mountain-ash wood into the valued playmate of a young girl named Phoebe Preble. When the inseparable pair join Phoebe’s father on a journey aboard his whaling ship, Hitty’s one hundred years of exciting adventures begins! Join this doll of great charm and character as she travels all over the world, from India to Philadelphia to New York. Whether she is traveling with a snake charmer, attending the opera, meeting Charles Dickens, becoming a doll of fashion, posing as an artists’ model, or being stolen away on a Mississippi riverboat, one thing is certain… no doll has led a life like Hitty’s! The 1930 Newbery Award winner.” Book Description

    Impunity Jane by Rumer Godden

    Ages 6-12. “Impunity Jane is a Victorian pocket doll who years for adventure. Without a trace of sticky-sweetness, Godden shows us a restless doll consigned for four generations to sitting in a dollhouse, sometimes neglected for years, until she is purloined by a 7-year-old cousin, Gideon, who can hear doll wishes. Then Impunity Jane’s life begins! She is a devoted companion in Gideon’s play and gets to be a sailor, an aviator, a miner, and enjoy all manner of adventures. Gideon faces being called a “sissy” by a gang of older boys, until tough little Impunity Jane manages to win them over. Yet the guilt of her being stolen weighs heavily on both the boy and the doll, and they know they must do the honorable thing …
    This story is also included in the Rumer Godden collection ‘Four Dolls.'” Amazon Customer Review

    Mouse House by Rumer Godden

    Mouse House

    Ages 4-10. Although not truly a “doll” book, it takes place inside one… “This is special! It has a gentleness, and love of tiny creatures reminiscent of Beatrix Potter. It also depicts real animals as infinitely more beautiful than their toy counterparts, and it reminds us that there is plenty of room to share with…well, take your pick: other animals, other people who may be less fortunate than ourselves. This story is replete with lessons for charity, kindness, tolerance, the wonder of life, the fact that toys – and other gadgets – are really not so important for one’s happiness.

    The surprise is that it’s all so poetic and subtle that there is not a trace of moralistic dogma in the entire story.” Amazon Customer Review

    The Fairy Doll by Rumer Godden

    image

    1956. Ages 9 to 12. “The youngest child in a family of four children is constantly berated by her siblings as she struggles to grow past immaturity. Great Grandmother blesses her one Christmas with the gift of the Fairy Doll, who usually resides on the tree. She cares for the Fairy Doll, and the Fairy Doll helps her grow to maturity and confidence.” The Doll Book List

    Candy Floss by Rumer Godden

    image

    1960. Ages 9 to 12. “Candy Floss and her crew of friends live the carnival life with their owner, Jack. Jack fondly calls Candy Floss his “good luck charm”. Then, a spoiled child determines that the doll must be hers at any cost.” The Doll Book List

    Ages 4-8. “Grade 1-4– Candy Floss, a small china doll; Nuts the wooden horse; and Cocoa the dog bring Jack luck until a spoiled little girl named Clementina steals the doll and almost destroys her. The girl realizes the error of her ways and returns Candy Floss to Jack; he mends her and makes her look like new again. This book has gone through a similar rejuvenation with Hogrogian’s new illustrations, which replace those done 31 years ago by Adrienne Adams (Viking, 1960; o.p.). The doll is now stunning, with a short, stylish haircut and bright blue eyes. People and fashions are noticeably updated, but the look is still timeless. Numerous full-page paintings are more elegant than the older, smaller pictures that included simple sketches. One drawback of the new design is that there are several spreads of solid text. While there is nothing wrong with the previous edition, this one will likely attract a whole generation of readers who may otherwise have ignored the book. School Library Journal

    The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo

    The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

    Ages 6-adult. “Starred Review. Grade 3-6–This achingly beautiful story shows a true master of writing at her very best. Edward Tulane is an exceedingly vain, cold-hearted china rabbit owned by 10-year-old Abilene Tulane, who dearly loves him. Her grandmother relates a fairy tale about a princess who never felt love; she then whispers to Edward that he disappoints her. His path to redemption begins when he falls overboard during the family’s ocean journey. Sinking to the bottom of the sea where he will spend 297 days, Edward feels his first emotion–fear. Caught in a fisherman’s net, he lives with the old man and his wife and begins to care about his humans. Then their adult daughter takes him to the dump, where a dog and a hobo find him. They ride the rails together until Edward is cruelly separated from them. His heart is truly broken when next owner, four-year-old Sarah Ruth, dies. He recalls Abilene’s grandmother with a new sense of humility, wishing she knew that he has learned to love. When his head is shattered by an angry man, Edward wants to join Sarah Ruth but those he has loved convince him to live. Repaired by a doll store owner, he closes his heart to love, as it is too painful, until a wise doll tells him that he that he must open his heart for someone to love him. This superb book is beautifully written in spare yet stirring language. The tender look at the changes from arrogance to grateful loving is perfectly delineated. Ibatoulline’s lovely sepia-toned gouache illustrations and beautifully rendered color plates are exquisite. An ever-so-marvelous tale.” School Library Journal

    This book, being as it were, a sort of companion to our beloved The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by the same author, is mine – I bought it for me, and was not disappointed, nor was my then 13 yr old, who also loved it – a story for all generations who have ever loved a toy.

    Patty Reed’s Doll: The Story of the Donner Party by Rachel K. Laurgaard and Elizabeth Sykes Michaels

    Patty Reed's Doll: The Story of the Donner Party

    Ages 8-12. “In the winter of 1846, the Donner Party was stranded by heavy snows in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The pioneers endured bitter hardships, and many of them died. But some survived, including 8-year-old Patty Reed, a girl filled with dignity and determination in the face of mortal danger. This is her story, as told by Dolly, the wooden doll she kept hidden in her dress.” Book Description

    The Doll in the Garden: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn

    A Ghost Story

    Ages 9-12. “Grade 4-7– A young girl helps her cantankerous elderly landlord to resolve a childhood act that caused the woman lifelong guilt. Ashley follows a white cat back in time and meets Louisa, a girl who is dying and who longs for her beloved doll–a doll that Ashley and her friend Kristi have found buried in Miss Cooper’s garden. In the end Ashley, Kristi, and Miss Cooper visit Louisa; the woman is able to make am mends with her childhood friend, and Ashley begins to accept her father’s death. Hahn’s portrayal of crotchety Miss Cooper is expertly drawn, giving vivid insight into why she acts and lives as she does. Ashley, her widowed mother, and Kristi are also fully realized characters. When Hahn sticks to her story, it moves along at a steady, scary clip. However, when she lapses into lengthy descriptions of flowers, birds, and landscape, she slows the pace of the story rather than creates the intended atmosphere. Ashley’s first-person narrative often gets bogged down in a flowery adult voice, particularly in the descriptions: “As still as the cherub behind me, I watched the leaves sway in the breeze. Sunlight and shadow mottled the ground, and the weeds whispered to themselves, lulling me like distant voices of children at play.” Still, it’s an imaginative ghost story, fairly predictable, but with a completely satisfying ending.” School Library Journal

    The Christmas Doll by Elvira Woodruff

    The Christmas Doll

    Ages 4-12. “Lucy and Glory are orphaned sisters with no real place to call home. Only their memories of a beautiful doll named Morning Glory brighten their bleak lives. When a deadly fever sweeps through the workhouse where the girls live, Lucy and Glory flee to the mean streets of London.One day the girls find an old battered doll that Glory senses is their beloved Morning Glory. But Morning Glory is no ordinary doll–the girls learn that she has magical powers that will change their lives in amazing ways.. With the help of the doll, the sisters discover the true meaning of the Christmas spirit.” Book Description

    The Magic Nesting Doll by Jacqueline K. Ogburn and Laurel Long

    The Magic Nesting Doll

    Ages 6 and up. “Opulent oil paintings, as lushly colored and intricately detailed as a Russian lacquer box, set the stage for this original folktale. As Katya’s grandmother lies dying, she bequeaths Katya a magic matryoshka, or Russian nesting doll, and tells her that she may open it three times in an hour of need. The girl sets out to make her way in the world and soon arrives in a city under a wicked spell: “It is always winter without thaw, night without moon, and dark without dawn,” an innkeeper explains. Worse, the handsome young Tsarevitch has been turned into living ice. With the help of her nesting doll, which releases first a bear, then a wolf and finally a firebird, Katya is able to break the enchantment, give the conniving Grand Vizier a taste of his own frosty medicine, and find true love. Ogburn’s (The Jukebox Man) assured storytelling memorably joins together classic fairy-tale elements with Slavic imagery; her tale reads like one already tested by time. Long (The Mightiest Heart) weaves a kind of visual magic in a series of darkly lavish scenes. Her paintings simultaneously recall ornate tapestries, Russian icon art and the romantic elegance of Trina Schart Hyman. All ages.” Publishers Weekly

    Tatiana Comes to America: An Ellis Island Story (Doll Hospital) by Joan Holub and Ann Iosa

    An Ellis Island Story (Doll Hospital)

    Ages 6-12. “Sisters Lila and Rose, ages 8 and 10, are spending the year with their eccentric grandmother (who runs a doll hospital) while their parents are working out of the country. The girls are not pleased with this arrangement, but they begin to enjoy themselves when they learn that their grandmother has a special power to “read” the lives of the dolls she is working to restore. In each book in this series, their grandmother tells the girls the story of a different doll.In this book we meet Tatiana, a doll who travels to Ellis Island with her owner, a Russian girl named Anya.” Book Description

    Goldie’s Fortune: A Story of the Great Depression (Doll Hospital, Book 2) by Joan Holub and Cheryl Kirk Noll

    Goldie's Fortune: A Story of the Great Depression (Doll Hospital, Book 2)

    Ages 6-12. “Sisters Lila and Rose, ages 7 and 10, are spending the year with their eccentric grandmother (who runs a doll hospital) while their parents are working out of the country. The girls are initially unhappyt, but they begin to enjoy themselves when they learn that their grandmother has a special power to “read” the lives of the dolls she is working to restore. In each book in this series, their grandmother tells the girls the story of a different doll.In this book we meet Goldie, the beloved doll of a girl named Eliza whose family lost their fortune during the Great Depression.” Book Description

    Glory’s Freedom: A Story of the Underground Railroad (Doll Hospital, Book 3) by Joan Holub and Cheryl Kirk Noll

    Glory's Freedom: A Story of the Underground Railroad (Doll Hospital, Book 3)

    Ages 6-12. “Sisters Rose and Lila, ages 10 and 7, are spending the year with their grandmother (who runs a doll hospital) while their parents are working out of the country. Their grandmother has a special power to communicate with dolls, and to tell their stories.In this book we meet Glory, a doll who is given to a slave girl named May by Arabella, the daughter of a plantation owner. Glory then accompanies May on her journey to freedom. Years later, Glory is discovered by the new owners of an old house that, unbeknownst to them, was used as a stop along the Underground Railroad.” Book Description

    The Christmas Dolls (The Girls of the Good Day Orphanage) by Carol Beach York and Victoria De Larrea

    The Christmas Dolls (The Girls of the Good Day Orphanage)

    Ages 6-10. “This book was given to me by my grandma when I was around 9 or 10. I adored it. It truly captures the magic of Christmas that children understand better than adults. The pictures are beautiful. I haven’t read it in many years, so I can’t provide much more detail, but I plan on finding my old copy and rereading it this Christmas. My best friend also had this book and absolutely adored it. Good for 6-10 year olds.” Amazon Customer Review

    The Gingerbread Doll by Susan Tews and Megan Lloyd

    The Gingerbread Doll

    Ages 4-8. “When the extended family gathers for its annual cookie baking, great-grandma Rebecca tells about her ninth Christmas, in 1930 during the Depression. Times were hard on their Wisconsin farm, and there was no hope of the porcelain doll she wanted; so Mama improvised a doll of thick gingerbread, with yarn hair and a dress of cloth scraps. Rebecca ‘loved Button Marie in a way you could never love anything from a store;’ but though she was careful, ‘Button Marie’ eventually broke. Later, times got better and she had a cornhusk doll and, finally, the porcelain doll. But it’s Button Marie’s scrap of a dress that great-grandma Rebecca treasures and talks about on cookie-baking day: she ‘was made from love, and that’s the part…that lasts forever.’ Lloyd’s sharply observed realistic watercolors–in a palette somewhat grayed as if to recall old b&w photos–beautifully reflect this well-told story’s warmth and focus on essential values. (Picture book/Young reader. 5-9)” Kirkus Reviews

    The Doll with the Yellow Star by Yona Zeldis McDonough and Kimberly Bulcken Root

    The Doll with the Yellow Star

    Ages 9-12. “Gr. 3-5. Eight-year-old Claudine, who lives with her parents in Nazi-occupied France, is upset by the yellow stars that she and the other members of her family are required to wear. She sews a star on the velvet cape of her treasured doll, Violette, but she affixes it to the inside of the garment so she can decide whether to let it show. When Claudine is sent to live with relatives in America, she loses both her doll and her family. Writing a Holocaust novel for young children is a tricky business, but McDonough succeeds in conveying the realities of war without terrorizing her audience. Violette is a symbol of innocence lost, but like Claudine’s father, the doll is miraculously found and restored by the end of the story. The use of the present tense brings a sense of immediacy to the telling, while Root’s full-color artwork lends a feeling of reassurance. Give this to fans of Amy Hest’s Love You, Soldier (1993), also set in New York City, but with an American Jewish protagonist.” Booklist

    Henriette: The Story of a Doll by Tracy Friedman

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    Ages 6-10. Grade 3-5 A delightful tale of a doll’s determination and a steadily paced adventure story. After years of searching, a grandmother finally locates her long-lost granddaughter in an orphanage, but decides that it is too late to claim her. In the end, however, there is a reunion, brought about by the 14-inch doll who once belonged to the grandmother and now belongs to the granddaughter. With clever cunning, Henriette fights off a puppy, rides in a wagon among cotton bales to town, rides in a carriage with some fretful children who claim her, and finally reaches the orphanage. Children will relate to Henriette’s strong will and adventuresome spirit. The book is a new story with an old theme, and a nice addition to any collection.” School Library Journal

    Home is the Sailor by Rumer Godden and Jean Primrose

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    Ages 6-12. “Through a series of unusual circumstances the missing men of the doll family are reunited with their relatives.” Alibris

    This book is out of print, and there are simply no reviews on it. But I have a copy, and it was one of my children’s favorites. The interwoven stories of the dolls, and how each “man” is found, is enchanting, and unforgettable. Worth hunting for in library sales.

    Caitlin’s Holiday by Helen V. Griffith and Susan Condie Lamb

    Caitlin's Holiday

    Ages 8-12. “A delightful chapter book told with such good humor that readers will easily believe in one more toy that comes to life. Caitlin is browsing a sidewalk sale table when an irresistible urge comes over her and she “trades” her own beloved doll for a more beautiful one. Caitlin is convinced that this is a special doll, and worth every bit of the guilt she suffers, and sure enough, she is awakened that night by music playing in her room. Not only is her new doll alive, she is also obstinate, rude, and unreasonable–she refuses to turn down her stereo. Caitlin’s problems mount as the doll, who says her name is Holiday, becomes more and more difficult and demanding; she scorns Caitlin’s doll clothes, ignores Caitlin’s friends and their dolls, and won’t do anything but sunbathe on the windowsill and throw tantrums. Caitlin’s endeavors to cope with an absurd situation and to reason with Holiday, who has no logic or morals, is a maturing experience, first in frustration, and finally in diplomacy. The struggle of a child to understand and compromise is contrasted clearly with Holiday’s stunning about-face at the novel’s end, which indicates a sequel is to come. Young readers will be enchanted by Caitlin and Holiday and will be readied for the more serious subject matter of Banks’ The Indian in the Cupboard (Avon, 1982) and Cassedy’s Behind the Attic Wall (Crowell, 1983).” School Library Journal

    Doll Trouble by Helen V. Griffith and Susan Condie Lamb

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    Ages 8-12. “Having a favorite doll come to life–what a rich, delicious fantasy. Caitlin’s old doll Jodi, resenting Caitlin for abandoning her, arranges events so that Caitlin is blamed for stealing doll clothes, and even the doll herself. Caitlin, in turn, blames Holiday (the doll in Caitlin’s Holiday, 1990) for the thefts. In the end all is forgiven: Holiday finds her way back into Caitlin’s good graces; Jodi comes home to stay; and friend Lauren’s Sandi joins Holiday and Jodi to make a trio of “living dolls.” Deftly told from Holiday’s point of view, the story skips along at a playful pace. Holiday is still entirely self-centered yet endearing–just the kind of character a 12-inch fashion doll suggests. Smooth, satisfying fantasy. (Fiction. 8-12).” Kirkus Reviews

    The Richest Doll In The World by Polly M. Robertus

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    Ages 9-12. “Her parents having died, Emily faces the worst Christmas Eve ever. She decides to set off in the middle of a snowstorm for a spooky old mansion in hopes of seeing “the richest doll in the world.” Book Description. Available April 15, 2008

    The Racketty-Packetty House: 100th Anniversary Edition by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Wendy Anderson Halperin

    The Racketty-Packetty House: 100th Anniversary Edition

    “Acclaimed illustrator Wendy Anderson Halperin celebrates Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic, a tale of two dollhouses, just in time for its 100th anniversary. When Tidy Castle arrives, brand-new and grand in every way, the Racketty-Packetty House has never looked shabbier, and it is shoved in the corner of Cynthia’s nursery. But the Racketty family still dances, sings, and laughs louder than all the fancy dolls combined. When a real-life princess visits the nursery, the Rackettys learn that the humans are planning to destroy their house. Only a miracle — or some very unusual magic — can save them now!

    Since its publication in 1906, the story of how Queen Crosspatch and her band of fairies rescued the Racketty-Packetty House has inspired dreamers and readers of all ages in the tradition of The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. Now Wendy Anderson Halperin’s illustrations, brimming with whimsy and wonder, unlock the magic of two dollhouses — one posh and one proud — to a whole new generation of readers.”

    The Racketty-Packetty House is a beautifully illustrated charmer. It should bring great satisfaction to children with happy spirits but messy rooms!” — Gail Carson Levin, author of Ella Enchanted

    “If you believe in fairies — and if your dolls have adventures when you leave the room — then Frances Hodgson Burnett has written a book for you. With brilliant storytelling and intriguing characters, she pulls readers into the world of the haves and have-nots — only in this case the two classes both happen to be dolls. Burnett’s old-fashioned, charming tale has been given beautiful new clothing for its 100th anniversary edition. Now it can delight the next generation of readers.” — Anita Silvey, 100 Best Books for Children

    The Doll Hospital by James Duffy and Susan Tang

    The Doll Hospital (An Apple Paperback)

    Ages 6-10. “Grade 3-6– Eight-year-old Alison, an invalid for as long as she can remember, realizes that she is different from everyone else. She counts her brother Christopher and her dolls and stuffed animals as her best friends. When Denise, her beautiful French doll, comes down with the measles, Alison convinces Christopher to help her convert Mama’s old sewing room into a doll hospital. The two children decide to accept outside patients, and the doll hospital begins to play a significant role in Alison’s own medical treatment and recovery. In this quiet, old-fashioned story, the characters, even the dolls and animals that come to life, are not fully developed. The plot is predictable, and there is too little action in this slow-moving tale to capture and hold young readers’ attention.” School Library Journal

    Through the Doll’s House Door by Jane Gardam

    Through the Doll's House Door

    Ages 9-12. “Friends Mary and Claire, who as children shared playtimes with their special dolls, now have children of their own to continue the tradition; PW praised this “clever bit of characterization, told with humor and imaginative zeal.” Ages 9-12. Publishers Weekly

    Two girls lose interest in playing with their doll house after moving from London to Wales but the dolls in the house amuse themselves by telling stories about their exciting pasts.” Card catalog description

    Amy’s Birthday Doll by Kenneth James Newbrook

    Amy's Birthday Doll

    Ages 9-12? “Ken and Spot travel back in time with a doll than can talk, Spot also talks, making for a great adventure, when they turn up at his great, great grandfather’s wedding.” Book Description

    The Missing Doll by Constance Hiser and Marcy Dunn Ramsey

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    Ages 8-10? “Grade 3-4-Hiser’s attempt to incorporate suspense, magical happenings, a dysfuntional family, and budding friendships fails in this marginal, forced novel. With the last of her birthday money, Abby buys a beautiful talking doll that speaks in riddles that relate to specific events in her life. When an unpopular girl steals it, Abby and her friend Heather sneak into her house to take it back. There they learn about Julie’s miserable home situation. The drama increases as the child runs away, is seriously injured, and is saved by the doll and the quick actions of Abby and Heather. The plot is contrived and predictable, and the characters are minimally developed. At times motivation is unclear. There is a hint of child abuse, but it’s not explored in depth, and thus Julie’s reaction to a spanking is not believable. The ending is sappy as every loose end is neatly and happily tied together. Youngsters who enjoy books about dolls, suspense, magic, and mystery should try Carol R. Brink’s The Bad Times of Irma Baumlein (Aladdin, 1991), Mildred Ames’s Is There Life on a Plastic Planet? (Dutton, 1975; o.p.), Mary Downing Hahn’s The Doll in the Garden (Clarion, 1989), Betty Ren Wright’s The Dollhouse Murders (Holiday, 1983), and William Sleator’s Among the Dolls (Dutton, 1975). School Library Journal

    When the Dolls Woke by Marjorie Filley Stover

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    Ages 9-12. “Grade 4-6 That this is a mystery will not be evident early on. In fact, the mystery is handled so routinely that it is solved before readers are sure there was one. Sir Gregory, an antique china doll, is the first to awaken from a long nap of neglect. He, his family and their three-story dollhouse have been owned by successive descendants of the Boston clipper Captain Wurling, whose family tree is diagrammed as the book’s frontispiece (although at a 40-year variance from the text.) Now the Captain’s granddaughter, Abby, nearly 90 and fortune depleted, ships dolls and house to Gail, her unknown great, great niece. A miniature parchment hanging on the dollhouse wall suggests to Gail the possibility of hidden treasure. Sir Gregory, with trusty toy sword in hand, abets its discovery. Great-Aunt Abby accepts the found “treasurea rubyas” a legacy from her father that will rescue her from poverty. The story’s perspective moves erratically among the various characters, flesh and china; none are ever infused with any life. Happily, Loccisano’s handful of soft pencil illustrations enliven the scenes they depict. Children with a ready-honed affinity for dolls and dollhouses might enjoy this staid story, but they would be more felicitously directed to Sylvia Cassedy’s Behind the Attic Wall (Crowell, 1983). Godden’s The Dolls’ House (Penguin, 1976) and Tregarthen’s The Doll Who Came Alive (Harper, 1972,) are better for younger or less proficient readers.” School Library Journal

    Minnesota Twins : A Cabin Christmas (Story House Dolls) by Sandra Bartholomew and Lloyd Aadland

    A Cabin Christmas (Story House Dolls)

    Ages 7-12. “Emma and Will Hanson learn a lesson about the true meaning of the season when their family experiences a blizzard on Christmas Eve. Illustrated by charming photographs of miniature doll characters acting out the story line in an appropriately designed dollhouse. Appropriate for ages 7-12.” Book Description

    Sara of Sun Valley : An Idaho Adventure (Story House Dolls) by Sandra Bartholomew and Lloyd Aadland

    An Idaho Adventure (Story House Dolls)

    Ages 7-12. “Sara of Sun Valley is a delightful adventure that brings the reader from Idaho ski slopes to a hospital in Chicago. The challenges Sara and her family face are illustrated by color photographs of the little character dolls acting out the story.” Book Publisher

    Texas Mickey : A Story of Horses and Races (Story House Dolls) by Sandra Bartholomew and Lloyd Aadland

    A Story of Horses and Races (Story House Dolls)

    Ages 7-12. “Texas Mickey is a story that will delight the horse lover. Set on a Texas ranch, the story of Mickey and her problem accepting the Hispanic migrant workers is believable and compelling. The illustrations are wonderful color photographs of Mickey and the other miniature character dolls (including their horses) acting out the story line.” Book Publisher

    The Dolls’ Secret by Linda Blackburn

    The Dolls' Secret

    Ages 8-12?. “An old lady is the proud owner of two Victorian dolls. They sit quietly on her shelf, as dolls do! Not a peep, not an utterance. That is, until a fairy enters the room through an open window and casts a spell. Victoria and Amy are no longer ordinary dolls. They have a secret; they can come to life! And so begins a journey involving spoilt children and kind children, evil witches and a vicious dog! But will the dolls continue to use their special powers to do good? And, more importantly, will they manage to keep their secret safe? Through the eyes of Victoria and Amy, Linda Blackburn explores the relationships that children form with their possessions, and with each other, in this heartwarming story that will delight any young reader.” Book Description

    Victorian Doll Stories (Victorian Revival Series) by Brenda, Mrs. Gatty, and Frances Hodgson Burnett

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    No reviews or description available. Suitable for most ages, given the date.

    Seth The Doll Who Was Afraid Of Everything by Rowena Avery

    Seth The Doll Who Was Afraid Of Everything

    Ages 4-8. “Rowena Avery cleverfully illustrates that when someone is afraid of everything, that someone missed out on everything!

    Unique dolls highlight Seth as he learns to try new things with his other doll friends. Highly original and entertaining. This is a must-have for any collection.” Amazon Customer Reviews

    A Doll-House Christmas by Jean Marzollo and Shelley Thornton

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    Ages 4-8. A “punch-and-play storybook, Scholastic 1985.” Book Description

    William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow and William Pene Du Bois

    William's Doll (Jp 067)

    Ages 4-6. “More than anything, William wants a doll. “Don’t be a creep,” says his brother. “Sissy, sissy,” chants the boy next door. Then one day someone really understands William’s wish, and makes it easy for others to understand, too.” Book Description

    The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright

    The Lonely Doll

    “Once there was a little doll. Her name was Edith. She lived in a nice house and had everything she needed except someone to play with. She was lonely! Then one morning Edith looked into the garden and there stood two bears! Since it was first published in 1957, The Lonely Doll has established itself as a unique children’s classic. Through innovative photography Dare Wright brings the world of dolls to life and entertains us with much more than just a story. Edith, the star of the show, is a doll from Wright’s childhood, and Wright selected the bear family with the help of her brother. With simple poses and wonderful expressions, the cast of characters is vividly brought to life to tell a story of friendship.” Book Description

    A Gift from the Lonely Doll by Dare Wright

    A Gift from the Lonely Doll

    “A Gift from the Lonely Doll was first published in 1966 and is one of the most frequently requested and fondly remembered books in the Lonely Doll series by the author/photographer Dare Wright. A Gift from the Lonely Doll again features Edith and her friends, Mr. Bear and Little Bear, and a generous act of kindness that helps all of them understand and celebrate the meaning of the holidays.” Book Description

    Edith and Mr. Bear: A Lonely Doll Story by Dare Wright

    Edith and Mr. Bear: A Lonely Doll Story

    “Mr. Bear’s expensive clock fascinates Edith. She just has to touch it. But when she does, it falls down with a crash. Unable to admit that she has broken it, Edith’s guilty conscience makes her so unhappy that she can’t even enjoy her birthday party. In fact, Edith feels so badly about lying to Mr. Bear that she contemplates running away. What happens next makes for a timeless story that will resonate with anyone who has ever tried to cover up the truth. Dare Wright’s innovative black-and-white photographs make EDITH AND MR. BEAR as intriguing as it was when first published in 1964.” Book Description

    Make Me Real by Dare Wright

    “”Make Me Real” is a delightful story about a little girl named Brett and the tiny doll, Persis, who becomes her best friend. Persis can only come alive when she is loved by a child, and must return to being a regular doll when that child grows up. Dare Wright (1914-2001) is the beloved author of “The Lonely Doll” series. She wrote and photographed “Make Me Real” the 1970s, but this is its first publication.” Book description

    The Surprise Doll by Morrell Gipson and Steffie Lerch

    The Surprise Doll

    “For more than half a century children have been captivated with the story of Mary and her dolls. Mary’s father was a sea captain who took long trips across the ocean, bringing back a doll from each journey. Soon Mary had six dolls and wished for a seventh one to become her “Sunday” doll. But Mary’s father said six dolls were enough for any girl, so she set off to visit the Dollmaker and, oh, was she in for a surprise!

    Now available in its original, full 46-page format.” Book Description

    Elizabeti’s Doll (Elizabeti Series) by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen and Christy Hale

    Elizabeti's Doll (Elizabeti Series)

    Ages 4-8. “In an impressive debut, Stuve-Bodeen warms the heart and hearth with this sweetly evoked tale inspired by her experiences in the Peace Corps. Set in a Tanzanian village, the story tells of Elizabeti, who watches her mother care for her new baby brother and longs for a little one of her own to cuddle. She has no doll, so instead she looks around for a suitable “baby” and soon finds a rock that’s shaped just right. Carefully mimicking her mother, she bathes, feeds (her doll is “too polite to burp”) and changes “Eva,” and when doing chores ties Eva to her back “with a bright cloth called a kanga,” just as her mother does. Downcast when Eva is misplaced (her sister accidentally uses the rock for the cooking fire), Elizabeti finds her special doll in time to sing her to sleep. Stuve-Bodeen’s well-balanced prose strikes just the right tranquil, gently humorous tone. She lovingly delineates the mother-daughter relationship, and offers a rare, intimate view of another culture while sounding a universal chord. Hale (Juan Bobo and the Pig), meanwhile, deftly captures the story’s mood in softly shaded mixed-media illustrations, juxtaposing brightly printed motifs in African fabrics against an earthy, sundrenched palette. The artist is equally adept at conveying close-up portraits with a full emotional range as she is a village scene of Elizabeti carrying a water jug atop her head. A little slice of perfection. Ages 4-up.” Publishers Weekly

    The Apple Doll by Elisa Kleven

    The Apple Doll

    Ages 4-8. “*Starred Review* Through every season, Lizzy loves the apple tree outside her window. On her first day of school, she uses it to create a new friend to take along with her: Susanna, a doll with an apple for a head and twigs for its body. When children make fun of Susanna, Lizzy leaves her at home for a while. Lizzy’s mother shows her how to make Susanna into an apple-head doll by peeling the fruit, carving her features, preserving her with lemon juice, and letting her smiling face wrinkle as it dries. Newly aged but rejuvenated, Susanna accompanies Lizzy to school again and becomes the model for a class craft project. A plot summary does little to re-create the charm of this delightfully well-written picture book. Like the first illustration of the apple tree, where Lizzy lies happily on a branch surrounded by birds, cats, and squirrels, the pictures teem with life and intriguing details, but have at their heart the clear expression of the characters’ emotions. Created in mixed media with collage elements, the illustrations vary in size and complexity, from small winsome vignettes to detailed, double-page spreads that carry the eye from the main character to the outskirts of her neighborhood. For children, parents, and teachers inspired by this inviting picture book who want to make their own apple dolls, Kleven appends instructions.” Booklist

    The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll by Patricia Mckissack and Jerry Pinkney

    The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll

    “It’s Christmas, and Nella is beside herself with excitement! She and her sisters have been given a real gift – a beautiful Baby Betty doll. But it’s hard to share something you’ve waited your whole seven-year-old life for, and Nella grabs the doll for herself. It isn’t long before she discovers that a doll can’t do the fun things she and her sisters do together. So, as Christmas day fades, Nella shares it with her sisters. Set in the Depression era South, here’s a heartwarming story that captures the essence of the holiday.” Book Description

    “Parents looking for books on sharing will find this an appealing exploration of the subject, teachers seeking picture books set during the Depression will find many details that bring the period to life. A gentle lesson that plays into the spirit of the holiday.” Starred Review, Booklist

    “Full of humorous dialogue and scenes of realistic family life showing the close bonds within the family. Pinkney’s watercolor illustrations are masterful, as always…” – Kirkus Review, Starred Review

    “An evocative book with a universal message.” The New York Times Book Review

    Dolls Christmas (Tasha Tudor Collection) by Tasha Tudor

    Dolls Christmas (Tasha Tudor Collection)

    Christmas is a special time at Pumpkin House, where two dolls named Sethany Ann and Nicey Melinda live. Every Christmas they invite their friends to join them for an elegant dinner party and a marionette show. The dolls have fun getting ready for their party: they send out invitations to their guests by Sparrow Post, decorate their very own Christmas tree with silver nutmegs and golden pears, and prepare doll-size cookies and other treats for the party. Then at “candlelight-time” on Christmas Day the guests begin to arrive, and the evening isn’t over until the last carol has been sung around the tree.

    Tasha Tudor’s delightful tale captures all the charm and magic of an old-fashioned Christmas shared with your dearest friends. Beautifully illustrated in nostalgic watercolor paintings, this book will be treasured by generations to come.” Book Description

    The Ticky-Tacky Doll by Cynthia Rylant and Harvey Stevenson

    The Ticky-Tacky Doll

    Ages 4-8. “Rylant (the Little Whistle series) wisely explores a child’s separation anxiety through her relationship with her doll. The author conveys the girl’s bond with the doll, handmade for her by Grandmama (“It was ticky, her mother said, because Grandmama had made it from sewing scraps. And it was tacky because pieces of cloth hung from it like soft bits of hair”), through the rhythms of their day, their trips to town, a shared meal (“At the supper table the doll fit snugly on the little girl’s lap, and its eyes could see what was for dinner”). Stevenson’s (Bye, Mis’ Lela) paintings cast a magic glow on the pair, inseparable in the opening spreads. He portrays the doll with a seam down the middle of her smiling face, X’s for eyes and a mop of striped and polka-dotted fabric strips for hair. On the first day of school, when the girl must leave the doll at home, she withdraws completely: Stevenson shows her with head bowed at a table, markers and paper untouched. Only Grandmama knows what is wrong, and she comes up with an innovative solution. With the barest of statements, Rylant affirms the child’s feelings and conveys the bond between child and grandparent (“Grandmama had lived a long time and knew about loneliness and missing someone,” while the illustration shows a framed picture of her grandfather). Stevenson’s artwork, with its layered, contrasting planes of blue and gold, resembles the loving patchwork of the doll itself. Ages 3-7.” Publishers Weekly

    Nutcracker Doll by Mary Newell Depalma

    Nutcracker Doll

    Ages 4-8. “Tutus, stage lights, and tights-wearing mice – a girl’s giddy first experience dancing in THE NUTCRACKER is celebrated for all to share. For a young dancer, everything about “The Nutcracker” is thrilling, from auditions to opening night. Readers experience it all with Kepley as she dances before judges, goes to rehearsals, and stifles giggles as she gets carried offstage by a man dressed as a giant mouse! DePalma expertly takes readers backstage and into the heart of a small dancer as THE NUTCRACKER DOLL captures the magic of theater and the thrill of being part of a great ballet.” Book Description

    Betty Doll by Patricia Polacco

    Betty Doll

    Ages 4-8. “Polacco (Thank You, Mr. Falker) again elegantly embroiders a patch from the fabric of her own life in a moving tale that demonstrates the importance of family legacies. “I know that someday you’ll read this when your heart is aching,” reads the note that the author finds attached to Betty Doll after her mother’s [Mary Ellen’s] death. Mary Ellen’s letter goes on to explain how, as a girl, she and her mother made the doll from scraps of cloth after her other dolls perished in the fire that destroyed their home. Readers will happily tumble back in time as the fluid, conversational narrative reveals anecdotes underscoring Betty Doll’s importance in Mary Ellen’s life. For instance, the sight of Betty Doll who had fallen out of her owner’s book bag alerts the child’s father to her whereabouts during a blizzard; and when the girl is bedridden with a fever, Betty keeps her company. Over the years, the author and then her own children find solace in the beloved doll, who “kissed away tears, soothed hurt knees and was a guest at hundreds of tea parties and slumber nights.” In an effective graphic manipulation, the doll alone appears in color against Polacco’s finely detailed black-and-white art, which smoothly incorporates framed family photos arranged on tabletops. Together, text and illustrations credibly and poignantly capture the powerful bond among four generations of a loving family. All ages.” Publishers Weekly

    Mud Pies and Other Recipes: A Cookbook for Dolls by Marjorie Winslow and Erik Blegvad

    A Cookbook for Dolls

    Ages 4-8. “Any doll chef will tell you that no supermarket is as well-stocked as a forest, a sand dune, or your own backyard; and everyone knows that dolls love mud, when properly prepared.
    For forty years, Mud Pies and Other Recipes has been the consummate cookbook for dolls, using only the finest ingredients found outside. All of the perennial doll favorites are here, including Dandelion SoufflÈ, Wood Chip Dip, and, of course, Mud Pies.
    This special 40th anniversary hardcover edition now includes a Tea Party in the menu section, so that dolls with discriminating palates will be prepared for every social occasion. Erik Blegvad’s classically fetching illustrations provide the perfect dressing for Marjorie Winslow’s outdoor cookbook for dolls.” Book Description

    “One of the most charming picture books ever published.” —Horn Book
    “An adorable little book with charming pictures and a deadpan text.”—Publishers Weekly

    “The nicest oddball cookbook of the year.”—Life Magazine

    Daisy and the Doll (A Vermont Folklife Center Book) by Michael Medearis, Angela Shelf Medearis, and Larry Johnson

    Daisy and the Doll (A Vermont Folklife Center Book)

    Ages 6-10. “One of the inaugural releases in the Family Heritage series, this story is based on a true incident. The husband-and-wife authors (the African-American Arts series) adopt the crisp and amiable voice of eight-year-old Daisy Turner, a former slave’s daughter who was born in Vermont in 1883. Daisy’s teacher announces that, for a school competition, each girl will hold a doll from a different country and recite a poem about that nationality. When she hands Daisy a rag doll “with a coal black face,” the other girls giggle; and anger “bubbled inside me like hot tar.” Daisy’s father, Papu, advises her to memorize the poem her teacher has written, even though it obviously offends her. Disconcertingly, readers never learn any of the poem’s contents. Daisy instead comments, “I had never really noticed the color of my skin. It was as if Miss Clark’s poem had opened my eyes for the first time.” On stage during the program, Daisy finds that her teacher’s words “caught in my throat like a bone,” and the child delivers an extemporaneous but prize-winning poem (“My Papu says that half the world/ Is nearly black as night./ And it does no harm to take a chance/ And stay right in the fight”). Johnson’s (Knoxville, Tennessee) spare representational paintings capture the narrative’s emotion-charged tenor. A concluding page offers historical background as well as tips for rhyming games and for writing poems. Ages 6-10.” Publishers Weekly

    The Christmas Doll by Linda Doty

    The Christmas Doll

    “Amy Manchester is a young girl growing up in Victorian England during the turn of the century. She lives with her widowed, artist father and her older brother Jack. Amy’s life is changed when she wishes for a beautiful porcelain doll that she sees in the village toy shop window. Along the way, she finds a new friendship and a strange mystery in an old Victorian estate, that leads her and Jack to an exciting new adventure.” Book Description

    The Orphan and the Doll (A Little Apple Paperback) by Tracy Friedman

    image

    Ages preschool. “When little orphaned Amanda finds Henriette, a beautiful porcelain doll in her bed one morning, she has no idea that the magical doll will help her find the home she never knew she had.” Book Publisher

    The Stone Doll of Sister Brute (A Dell Young Yearling Book) by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban

    image

    Ages 6-9. “Dissatisfied with her stone doll and an ugly dog, an obstreperous youngster learns about familial love in this winsome, deceptively simple story. Ages 6-9.” Publishers Weekly

    I hope you enjoyed this “romp” through doll land. It’s a wonderful way for mothers and daughters to bond, even if they don’t play much with dolls.

    Time Travel in Science Fiction- Is it Possible, Plausible or Probable?

    What is time travel. How is it possible, or is it? These are the questions addressed in this collection of writings, web sites, book, and video.

    “Time is of your own making;
    its clock ticks in your head.
    The moment you stop thought
    time too stops dead.”
    by Angelus Silesius, a sixth-century philosopher and poet

    A number of physicists are exploring the idea of time travel, and determining that it IS possible:

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa004&articleID=0000AB94-4016-1FBE-80168\
    3414B7F0000

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/time/
    http://www.lifesci.sussex.ac.uk/home/John_Gribbin/timetrav.htm
    http://freespace.virgin.net/steve.preston/Time.html

    Check out the American Institute of Physics and search “time travel”:
    http://www.aip.org/pnu/1998/split/pnu365-1.htm
    http://www.aip.org/pnu/2003/split/631-2.html

    Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which contains some great responses to arguments against time travel. http://setis.library.usyd.edu.au/stanford/archives/fall2001/entries/time-travel-\
    phys/

    K.S. Thorne, Do the laws of physics permit wormholes for interstellar travel and machines for time travel? in Carl Sagan’s Universe , eds. Y. Terzian and E. Bilsen (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, 1997), Chapter 10, pp. 121-134.
    Kip Thorne:

    “[A]n American theoretical physicist, known for his prolific contributions in gravitation physics and astrophysics and for having trained a generation of scientists. A longtime friend and colleague of Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan, he is the current Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Caltech and one of the world’s leading experts on the astrophysical implications of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kip_Thorne
    http://www.its.caltech.edu/~kip/

    and his book:
    K.S. Thorne, Spacetime Warps and the Quantum World: A Glimpse of the Future, in R.H. Price, ed., The Future of Spacetime (W.W. Norton, New York, 2002).

    AND, for those of you who don’t like to bother with URLS, some excerpts:

    “Despite years of debate, scientists still haven’t completely ruled out the possibility of going back in time. “Many physicists have a gut feeling that time travel to the past is not possible,” said Columbia University theoretical physicist Brian Greene. “But many of us, including me, are impressed that nobody’s been able to prove that.”

    “Over the next few years, some experiments hold out a chance of finally being able to show whether or not time can move backward as well as forward. Theoretically, at least, it might be possible for the future to influence the past, said John Cramer, a physicist at the University of Washington. He and his colleagues plan to try just such an experiment next year.
    Cramer acknowledged that the concept of retro-causality doesn’t seem to make sense, “but I don’t understand why not.”

    Both Greene and Cramer know the science as well as the fiction side of the time-travel issue: Greene is the author of The Elegant Universe, a best-selling book on string theory — but he also played a cameo role in “Frequency,” a time-travel movie released in 2000, and served as a scientific consultant for “Deja Vu.”…

    Cramer, meanwhile, has done research into ultra-relavistic heavy-ion physics at CERN and Brookhaven National Laboratory — but he’s also written two science-fiction novels and pens a regular column for Analog magazine called The Alternate View. If his experiments show that retro-causality is a reality — that one event can determine the outcome of another event taking place 50 microseconds earlier — it could lend support to the ultimate alternate view of quantum physics.

    “It opens the door to doing all kinds of really bizarre things,” he said.”

    “Nature would conspire against changing causality, something Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking has called the “chronology protection conjecture”: For example, if you tried to shoot your father before you were born, somehow the gun would fail to go off.” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15817394/

    OR try Hawking:

    “However, in a remarkable paper written in 1905, when he was a clerk in the Swiss patent office, Einstein showed that the time and position at which one thought an event occurred, depended on how one was moving. This meant that time and space, were inextricably bound up with each other. The times that different observers would assign to events would agree if the observers were not moving relative to each other. But they would disagree more, the faster their relative speed.
    So one can ask, how fast does one need to go, in order that the time for one observer, should go backwards relative to the time of another observer.

    The answer is given in the following Limerick.

    There was a young lady of Wight,
    Who traveled much faster than light,
    She departed one day,
    In a relative way,
    And arrived on the previous night.

    (…lots of physics…)

    “But this subject of space and time warps is still in its infancy. According to string theory, which is our best hope of uniting General Relativity and Quantum Theory, into a Theory of Everything, space-time ought to have ten dimensions, not just the four that we experience. The idea is that six of these ten dimensions are curled up into a space so small, that we don’t notice them. On the other hand, the remaining four directions are fairly flat, and are what we call space-time. If this picture is correct, it might be possible to arrange that the four flat directions got mixed up with the six highly curved or warped directions. What this would give rise to, we don’t yet know. But it opens exciting possibilities.

    The conclusion of this lecture is that rapid space-travel, or travel back in time, can’t be ruled out, according to our present understanding. They would cause great logical problems, so let’s hope there’s a Chronology Protection Law, to prevent people going back, and killing our parents. But science fiction fans need not lose heart. There’s hope in string theory.”

    See the full lecture at:
    http://www.hawking.org.uk/lectures/warps3.html

    One of the arguments against time travel is mentioned by Hawking:

    “One of these is, if sometime in the future, we learn to travel in time, why hasn’t someone come back from the future, to tell us how to do it.

    Even if there were sound reasons for keeping us in ignorance, human nature being what it is, it is difficult to believe that someone wouldn’t show off, and tell us poor benighted peasants, the secret of time travel. Of course, some people would claim that we have been visited from the future. They would say that UFO’s come from the future, and that governments are engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to cover them up, and keep for themselves, the scientific knowledge that these visitors bring. All I can say is, that if governments were hiding something, they are doing a pretty poor job, of extracting useful information from the aliens.”

    There are two views on time paradoxes. As Stephen Hawking says:

    “A possible way to reconcile time travel, with the fact that we don’t seem to have had any visitors from the future, would be to say that it can occur only in the future. In this view, one would say space-time in our past was fixed, because we have observed it, and seen that it is not warped enough, to allow travel into the past. On the other hand, the future is open. So we might be able to warp it enough, to allow time travel. But because we can warp space-time only in the future, we wouldn’t be able to travel back to the present time, or earlier.

    This picture would explain why we haven’t been over run by tourists from the future.

    But it would still leave plenty of paradoxes. Suppose it were possible to go off in a rocket ship, and come back before you set off. What would stop you blowing up the rocket on its launch pad, or otherwise preventing you from setting out in the first place. There are other versions of this paradox, like going back, and killing your parents before you were born, but they are essentially equivalent. There seem to be two possible resolutions.” http://www.hawking.org.uk/lectures/warps3.html

    One: the alternative universe, from John Gribbon’s page “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About…Time Travel“:

    “According to one interpretation of quantum theory (and it has to be said that there are other interpretations), each of these parallel worlds is just as real as our own, and there is an alternative history for every possible outcome of every decision ever made. Alternative histories branch out from decision points, bifurcating endlessly like the branches and twigs of an infinite tree. Bizarre though it sounds, this idea is taken seriously by a handful of scientists (including David Deutsch, of the University of Oxford). And it certainly fixes all the time travel paradoxes.

    On this picture, if you go back in time and prevent your own birth it doesn’t matter, because by that decision you create a new branch of reality, in which you were never born. When you go forward in time, you move up the new branch and find that you never did exist, in that reality; but since you were still born and built your time machine in the reality next door, there is no paradox.”

    This branch of “research deals with both time, and relative dimensions in space. You could make a nice acronym for that — TARDIS, perhaps?http://www.lifesci.sussex.ac.uk/home/John_Gribbin/timetrav.htm

    The other explanation, in Stephen Hawking’s words is:

    ” One is what I shall call, the consistent histories approach. It says that one has to find a consistent solution of the equations of physics, even if space-time is so warped, that it is possible to travel into the past. On this view, you couldn’t set out on the rocket ship to travel into the past, unless you had already come back, and failed to blow up the launch pad. It is a consistent picture, but it would imply that we were completely determined: we couldn’t change our minds. So much for free will.” http://www.hawking.org.uk/lectures/warps3.html

    Now for the good part – science fiction books!

    Here are some books I found that mention time travel – not all are HardSF, but I think you can figure that out by the authors. The best description of time travel’s paradoxes and how they are figured out is in Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog. It talks about history reweaving itself back around an event that was changed – so if you changed something in 1812, a change that would have had Bonaparte win the war, time would go backwards far enough and make changes so that the event you “changed” could not have happened – the inn where someone overheard a conversation you made about Wellington and is passed on to Napoleon, instead burns down before you could stop there, etc. It is fascinating. Another good one is Kay Kenyon’s Leap Point.

    Here’s a list (URL below) + some additions of my own:

    The Avatar by Poul Anderson
    Tau Zero by Poul Anderson
    The Corridors of Time by Poul Anderson
    The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov
    Pebble in the Sky by Issac Asimov
    In the Garden of Iden (The Company) by Kage Baker et al (series)
    Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter
    The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter
    The Fall of Chronopolis by Barrington J. Bayley
    Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy (1888)
    Timescape by Gregory Benford – “the best of the modern time travel novels, even though only subatomic tachyons do the traveling”
    Kindred by Octavia Butler
    Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card (series)
    The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter (“remote viewing” through a worm hole of other times)
    Time’s Eye (A Time Odyssey) by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter
    Timeline by Michael Crichton
    The Watch by Dennis Danvers
    Time and Again by Jack Finney
    1632 by Eric Flint
    The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold
    The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
    The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein
    The Proteus Operation by James Hogan
    Leap Point by Kay Kenyon
    Somewhere In Time by Richard Matheson (basis of the movie with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour – not HardSF)
    World Out of Time and Rainbow Mars by Larry Niven
    The Time Traders by Andre Norton (read the original version)
    Door Number Three by Patrick O’Leary
    Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds
    The Didymus Contingency: A Time Travel Thriller by Jeremy Robinson ( a thriller – not HardSF)
    End of an Era by Robert Sawyer
    Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer
    Up the Line by Robert Silverberg
    Our Children’s Children by Clifford Simak
    Ilium by Dan Simmons (and others)
    Chronospace by Allen Steele
    Island in the Sea of Time by S. M. Stirling
    Bones of the Earth by Michael Swanwick
    Gunpowder Empire by Harry Turtledove (1st in the Crosstime Traffic series)
    The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
    The Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

    Much of this list came from:
    http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:cNR72MoK1e8J:www.vla.org/05Conf/Presentation\
    s/Time%2520travel.doc+Hard+science+fiction+book+time+travel&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=6&g\
    l=us

    and myself Del.icio.us.ing and Amazon tagging.

    ————————–

    I also found:

    The Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th Century: Stories by Arthur C. Clarke, Jack Finney, Joe Haldeman, Ursula K. Le Guin, by Harry Turtledove and Martin H. Greenberg

    The Best Time Travel Stories of All Time by Barry N. Malzberg, Philip K. Dick, and Robert Silverberg

    Travels Through Time (Science Fiction Shorts) by Isaac Asimov, Martin Harry Greenberg, Charles G. Waugh, and Thomas Leonard

    Time Machines: The Greatest Time Travel Stories Ever Written by Bill Adler

    Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction by Paul J. Nahin and K.S. Thorne (Non-fiction)

    ————————–

    And some more NF references from Brian’s Views on Time Travel and Interdimensional Voyages: http://www.brianbosak.com/

    References:

    1) Bagnall, Phil , Where have all the time travelers gone? New Scientist July 6 1996, v151

    2) Deutsch, David, & Lockwood, Michael , The quantum physics of time travel, Scientific American March 1994, v270

    3) Parsons, Paul , A warped view of time travel, Science October 11 1996, v274

    4) How to murder your grandfather and still get born, The Economist January 20 1996, v338

    “This site was used by the TV show “NOVA” on PBS CH11 Chicago” (which I have a link to elsewhere).” http://www.brianbosak.com/

    —————————

    Interestingly, according to the book I’m Working on That by William Shatner, in his chapter on time travel, he says that Hugo Gernsback, the SF editor of Amazing Stories, et al, first posed a question to his readers in 1929 about time travel and interaction between future visitors and the people of that time. He supposedly posed the grandfather paradox, and there is a direct quote from his “letter’ to the readers. This is in open opposition to Wikipedia’s article on it, which states that the first mention of it was René Barjavel in his 1943 book Le Voyageur Imprudent (The Imprudent Traveller): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandfather_paradox

    I highly recommend Shatner’s book (as I have before) for the science illiterate. It contains chapters on time travel, black holes, transporters, holodecks, and all those cool gadgets like communicators. And he went to the leading people in the field for the information. Like in the time travel one, he used Kip Thorne who holds the Feynmann Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California
    Institute of Technology.

    ————————–

    Also of interest would be: Time Travel: A Writer’s Guide to the Real Science of Plausible Time Travel (Science Fiction Writing Series) by Paul J. Nahin
    http://www.amazon.com/Time-Travel-Writers-Science-Plausible/dp/0898797489/ref=pd\
    _sim_b_img_2

    —————————

    According to the link above (under the list of books), the author says: “The definitive book on time travel, its mathematical theory, its possibilities in modern Physics, and its literary exploration is

    Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction, by Paul Nahin [New York: American Institute of Physics, 1993].”

    “Besides the definitive analysis by Paul Nahin, other worthwhile non-fiction sources (critical and scientific) include:

    Origins of Futuristic Fiction by P. K. Alkon [Athens GA: University of Georgia, 1987]
    New Maps of Hell by Kingsley Amis [New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1960]
    When It Comes to Time Travel, There’s No Time Like the Present by Isaac Asimov [New York Times, 5 Oct 1986, Sec.2, pp.1&32]
    Faster Than Light by Isaac Asimov [Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Nov 1984]
    Time Travel by Isaac Asimov [Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Apr 1984]
    Impossible, That’s All by Isaac Asimov, in “Science, Numbers and I [New York: Doubleday, 1968]
    The Time Machine: an Ironic Myth by B. Bergonzi [Critical Quarterly 2, Winter 1960, pp.293-305]
    Physics and Fantasy: Scientific Mysticism, Kurt Vonnegut, and Gravity’s Rainbow by Russell Blackford [Journal of Popular Culture 19, Winter 1985, pp.35-44]
    Science Fiction: The Early Years by E. F. Bleiler [Kent OH: Kent State University Press, 1990]
    “Time” special issue with many essays [Daedalus, Spring 2003]
    Why Time Flows: the Physics of Past and Future by Thomas Gold [Daedalus, Spring 2003]”
    http://www.magicdragon.com/UltimateSF/thisthat.html#time

    See the same site for a list of Time Travel movies with reviews, etc.
    http://www.magicdragon.com/UltimateSF/time.html,
    which includes two of my favorites: Somewhere in Time, and A Sound Like Thunder, but forgets Butterfly Effect.

    ————————-

    And from U of Mich’s “Science of Film Site: Promise of Time Travel”
    (http://retrofuture.web.aol.com/timetravel.html) see:

    Cannon, Damian. La Jetee, Movie Reviews UK. (12 Monkeys was based on this short film)
    http://www.film.u-net.com/Movies/Reviews/Jetee.html

    Lefcowitz, Eric. A Brief History of Time Travel, Retro Future. (6/14/99)

    —————————-

    And then there’s NOVA’s site on time travel:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/time/through.html

    Here’s their list of web links AND non-fiction books, including Kip Thorne’s book (Kip Thorne was THE guy Shatner went to to help him with the section on Time Travel in I’m Working On That.

    WEB SITES:

    Web Links Time Travel
    http://freespace.virgin.net/steve.preston/Time.html

    This well-organized site, an excellent introduction to time travel, is designed for people with various levels of scientific knowledge. The site includes some of the mathematics that may support time travel as well as information on black-hole theory and the theory of relativity.

    Virtual Trips to Black Holes and Neutron Stars http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/htmltest/rjn_bht.html

    This site offers virtual trips via MPEG movies to neutron stars and black holes. Most movies are accompanied by a written description. The site also offers plenty of GIFs, a FAQ page, and links to other astronomy sites.

    The Time Travel Research Center
    http://www.time-travel.com

    This intriguing site offers authoritative studies on the history and philosophy of time, the physics of time travel, and experiments in time travel. Gain access to the Tri Star System, the world’s largest
    information database of science, technology, and research related to time travel, and shop for time-travel-related products in the on-line store.

    Brian’s Views on Time Travel and Interdimensional Voyages
    http://www.iit.edu/~bosabri/time.html

    This page offers a paper that discusses the possibilities of time travel and covers the subjects of time dilation, wormholes, and the grandfather paradox.

    The Theory Of Elementary Waves – Part 1
    http://compbio.caltech.edu/~sjs/tew1.html

    This site further develops the theory of time travel. It examines some of the basic principles of quantum physics, including the theory of elementary waves.

    BOOKS:

    Books Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy by Kip S. Thorne, Norton, 1994

    In a book the Wall St. Journal called an “engrossing blend of theory, history, and anecdote,” Kip Thorne, the Feynmann Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology,
    discusses everything from black holes to wormholes, with the final chapter devoted to time travel. The book’s glossary is excerpted in Timespeak.

    Time: A Traveler’s Guide by Clifford A. Pickover, Oxford University Press, 1998

    Pickover, the lead writer for Discover Magazine’s brain-boggler column, eases the reader into the arcane theory behind time travel with amusing fictional narratives, in which two people in a Museum of Music in New York experiment with time. See Traveling Through Time for
    an excerpt.

    A Brief History of Time: The Illustrated, Updated, and Expanded Edition by Stephen Hawking, Bantam Books, 1996

    Physics and the nature of time conveyed with the remarkable wit, clarity, and patience of the foremost theoretical physicist since Einstein. Illustrated with striking color imagery.

    Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction by Paul J. Nahin, Springer-Verlag New York, 1993

    Paul Nahin doesn’t write like an engineering professor, but that’s what he is (at the University of New Hampshire). With often amusing references to novels, comics, and sci-fi films, Nahin takes on the daunting topic of time machines with erudition and flair.

    Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything by James Gleick, Pantheon Books, 1999.

    In his latest work, James Gleick explores our increasingly speed-driven world. He specifically investigates the newest paradox of time: as technology accelerates, offering more time-saving devices, the notion of haste only increases. From atomic clocks, to answering machines, to the bunkers of war, Gleick approaches the subject from diverse perspectives.

    ————————-

    A few quotes on time travel:

    “I wouldn’t take a bet against the existence of time machines. My opponent might have seen the future and know the answer” – Stephen Hawking

    “Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future. And time future contained in time past.” – T.S. Elliot

    and from one of my favorite poets:

    “Listen; there’s a hell of a good universe next door: let’s go.” –
    e.e.cummings
    Conclusion: Time travel is possible, maybe not at this moment plausible or probable, but it will be, I have no doubt. Just like teleportation, another subject worthy of a post.