A new web site launched that may be of interest to role-playing fans of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series of books.

Called The Red Sun, the fan-crafted site launched over the weekend. The RPG uses a blend of in-character message board posts and fan fiction to build the player-generated storylines.

The game is open to the public to create user accounts and join in on the fun. Since it is still in its rough starting stages, The Red Sun may be more malleable in its plot direction (a boon to creative new players) than more established BBS-based RPGs.

The Red Sun describes itself as a “game is set in the Recontact era – Terra discovers Darkover for the first time … again. Shattered Chain, The Winds of Darkover, Spell Sword and Forbidden Tower are books set in this time. Terrans think Darkovans are a primitive, violent people while Darkovans feel pretty much the same things about Terranans.”

In the same introductory message, the main site administrator (with the board nickname of Zandru) warns MZB purists that the “game does not always follow MZB canon. Rather, just like MZB herself did in her work, I’ll make minor changes to allow for the best stories and game balance.”

Following are links to a few headlines SF has made in recent press:

Jason Connery Plays Lead in SCI FI Channel’s Original Film, Stan Lee’s Lightspeed
Press Release
Stan Lee’s LightSpeed is an original film for Sci Fi Channel based on a new character. Jason Connery (Merlin , Robin of Sherwood) stars with Lee Majors (Six Million Dollar Man), Nicole Eggert (Amanda and the Alien), and Daniel Goddard (BeastMaster).

ADV Films set to hook Moby Dick in new sci-fi animation series
Monsters and Critics.com
Anime sci fi series Hakugei 1: Legend of Moby Dick is being released on DVD.

A decade after being exiles from primetime network TV, the Muppets are returning with a new, six-episode limited-run series in 2006.

Called America’s Next Muppet, the miniseries, made by the Disney-owned Jim Henson production shop, targets its satirical eye on the much overdone reality TV genre. Henson creators think they have found fertile ground for comedy.

The news of the series originally leaked to Muppet fan sites earlier this year in a viral marketing campaign being waged by Disney. After months of speculation, ABC finally is acknowledging the show is really in production to mainstrem press.

The show sets its comedic sites on the faux rags-to-riches reality talent/game shows FOX’s American Idol and UPN’s America’s Next Top Model. Official air dates for the miniseries have yet to be announced by ABC.

Genre shows ranked by number of seasons:

  1. Dr. Who (26 seasons: 1963-1989) 700 episodes
  2. Stargate: SG1 (10 seasons: 1997 – 2007) 184 episodes (to date) [214 at end of 10th season]
  3. Touched By an Angel (9 seasons: 1994 – 2003) 212 episodes
  4. X-Files (9 seasons: 1993-2002) 202 episodes
  5. Bewitched (8 seasons: 1964-1972) 254 episodes
  6. Charmed (8 seasons: 1998-present) 161 (to date) [178 at end of 8th season]
  7. Star Trek: TNG (7 seasons: 1987-1994) 178 episodes
  8. Star Trek: DS9 (7 seasons: 1993-1999) 176 episodes
  9. Star Trek: Voyager (7 seasons: 1995-2001) 172 episodes
  10. Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (7 seasons: 1996-2003) 163 episodes

Genre shows ranked by number of episodes:

  1. Dr. Who (26 seasons: 1963-1989) 700 episodes
  2. Bewitched (8 seasons: 1964-1972) 254 episodes
  3. Stargate: SG1 (10 seasons: 1997 – 2007) 184 (to date) [214 at end of 10th season]
  4. Touched By an Angel (9 seasons: 1994 – 2003) 212 episodes
  5. X-Files (9 seasons: 1993-2002) 202 episodes
  6. Charmed (8 seasons: 1998-present) 161 (to date) [178 at end of 8th season]
  7. Star Trek: TNG (7 seasons: 1987-1994) 178 episodes
  8. Star Trek: DS9 (7 seasons: 1993-1999) 176 episodes
  9. Star Trek: Voyager (7 seasons: 1995-2001) 172 episodes
  10. Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (7 seasons: 1996-2003) 163 episodes

Cable TV industry magazine MultiChannel News reports that the Sci Fi channel has renewed both Stargate: SG1 and spin-off series, Stargate Atlantis.

Although new episodes for the current season are scheduled to resume in January, episodes for next season are to debut in the summer of 2006 after the Memorial Day weekend.

This will mark the 10th season for Stargate: SG1 a (the second with Farscape‘s Ben Browder as the team leader) and the third season for Atlantis.

Marking a decade of continuous production, Stargate: SG1 becomes the longest-running American science fiction series ever and the second-longest-running series world-wide behind the BBC’s storied Dr. Who.

SG1 has remained a ratings success for Sci Fi this year despite the loss of series star Richard Dean Anderson. With Browder as his replacement, the show continues to be a ratings high point for the cable network.

Both series are produced under Sony’s MGM television division.

For: Fandominion

Following are links to a few headlines SF has made in recent mainstream press:

Invasion of the ’50s snatchers
New York Newsday, New York, NY
Noel Holston writes a pretty good story about the recent crop of network sci fi offering and their relationship to 50s-era science fiction.

Sci-fi stars hit Armageddon Pulp Culture Expo
New Zealand Herald
Q&A with Battlestar Galactica‘s Richard Hatch and Star Trek‘s Gates McFadden.

Sci-fi release provides “Serenity now” through innovation
The Oshkosh West Index – Oshkosh,WI
So-so review of Serenity.

According to a report in Variety, the Sci Fi channel has bought the U.S. rights to the German sword and sorcery epic, Ring of the Nibelungs. The network will air the miniseries in March under a newer, American-friendly name: Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King.

The Nibelungs saga was one of the inspirations for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series (As well as the famous Ring Cycle opera by Wagner). The miniseries, when it aired in Germany, was the country’s top-rated TV show in 2004.

The program was directed by Uli Edel (director of Mists of Avalon) from a screenplay written by Diane Duane and Peter Morwood. It stars Benno Furmann (The Order)as “Eric/Siegfried,” Alicia Witt (Dune, Vanilla Sky) as “Kriemhild,” and Julian Sands (Rose Red, Warlock) as “Hagen.”

As Thursday’s overnight TV ratings trickled in Friday morning, the results were shocking. For the first time, the WB was ranked as the third-most watched network in America among the coveted 18-49-year-old age demographic.

Buoyed by a Smallville episode featuring a guest appearance of Aquaman, the adventures of young Clark Kent and friends was the second-most-watched TV first the first half hour of primetime.

Smallville laid waste to NBC’s Joey, UPN’s Everybody Hates Chris, ABC’s Alias and a repeat episode of Reunion on Fox. Only CBS’s latest edition of Survivor had more viewers.

This is particularly bad news for Alias, as Smallville had 75% more viewers than ABC’s spy-fi series. Alias was ranked as the No.4 most-watched show for its timeslot for 18-49 year olds (it scored better with the over 50-set, not a good sign for youth-obsessed advertisers), barely beating UPN’s Everybody Hates Chris by a mere tenth of a ratings point.

In the 9 p.m. hour, supernatural thriller Night Stalker on ABC fared better, although it had fewer viewers than Alias. Night Stalker’s draw of the 18-to-49 year olds had it placing third in its time period, a respectable showing for the No. 4 network. Stalker faces twin titans, CSI and The Apprentice in its timeslot fight for viewers.

Night Stalker also is faring better than ABC’s Life as We Know It did last year. Stalker even shows signs of chipping away at the ratings lead for both CSI and The Apprentice as those shows are down in audience from last year.

But the future of Stalker is by no means safe. We’ll have to see if the sereies can pull in enough viewers for its heavily promoted Halloween episode next week.

If not, look for both Alias and Night Stalker to head into hiatus, replaced by stunt programming on ABC’s Thursday nights during November sweeps.

Invasion is the latest science fiction series to get a full-season order from its network. ABC president Stephen McPherson praised the show for adding creative momemtum and ratings success during its five weeks on the air at the pick-up announcement Thursday afternoon.

The show, which airs Wednesday nights at 10/9c p.m., plays opposite existing hit series Law & Order on NBC and CSI:New York on CBS. Despite that challenge, Invasion has consitently scored higher ratings in the age demographics that advertisers crave.

Because Invasion keeps most of the viewers from its lead-in series, Lost, for the past five weeks, ABC has been ranked No. 1 in viewers aged 18-49, ages 25-54 and 18-34 at 10 p.m. ABC says that Invasion has the best ratings for its timeslot in more than five years for the network.

After years of the Brisith teasting America for it’s general populace’s foolish thoughts, UK researchers surveyed 2000 citizens of that country for the UKTV Gold channel. The simple question: which science fiction and fantasy mainstays are fact and which are pure fiction.

Some of the results reveal:

  • 40 percent believe Star Trek’s warp drive is possible
  • 33 percent tink the future will include Tardis-type time travel
  • 63 percent think ESP is real
  • 26 percent think blackholes are gateways to alternate universes