The Shiniest Stories On io9 Last Week

Too busy trying to build your own science fiction franchise from scratch? Don't worry, we've compiled a list of the best stories of the week, just for you. Highlights this week include great geeky causes to give to this holiday, a new kronk burger (extra rare), an exclusive look behind the scenes at the original The Day The Earth Stood Still, and the complete gift guide for every type of fan.

Why Is It So Hard To Start A New Franchise?
In an alternate universe, we're all obsessing about the impending release of The Matrix V and Chronicles Of Riddick 9. Even as we're drowning in retreads of things that launched in the 1960s, just think of all the more recent works that tried — and failed — to launch a franchise. Why is it so difficult?

Gift Ideas for the Ten Major Species of Science Fiction Fan
We've got the definitive guide to what you and your fannish pals should have on your holiday lists this season. Not sure what to buy for the Star Wars fan in your life? Got a steampunker or zombie lover on your list and no clue where to look? Wondering what's out there for the Battlestar Galactica watcher, the Trekkie, or the Whedon devotee? Our gift guide offers ideas for the ten major species of scifi fan.

No Final Cylon Will Ever Be Good Enough
With Battlestar Galactica returning in less than two months, anticipation is at fever pitch over the identity of the show's Final Cylon. We've looked at the clues to date and offered some theories of our own, but with SyFyPortal claiming that it knows the character's identity for sure - and then offering up five possible choices to choose from - it's time to look at it from another angle: Which character would be ruined if they turned out to be the Final Cylon?

What Superpower Should Wil Wheaton Have On Heroes?
Final proof that social networking can make the world a better place: Heroes' Greg Grunberg and baby-faced Wil Wheaton (Star Trek:The Next Generation) have been networking publicly on Twitter. And the upshot may be that Wheaton becomes the latest Trek veteran to pass on his wisdom to those troubled mutants. But which superpower should Wil Wheaton have? Click through to vote.


Plagues, Hidden Cities, and Harbingers of Doom at the Bookstore This Month

Nothing is better than curling up during the holidays with a good book, and December brings a lot of terrific options. Dark urban fantasy dominates, with The Engine's Child and Knights of the Cornerstone, but there's also some good space opera from Mike Resnick and Karen Miller - and a whole lot of apocalypse with a new Wild Cards novel and Scott Sigler's latest "virus ate the world" book. Check out what's coming to your local bookstore in the next few weeks, below.

Hot Flashes: 10 Uses For Lightning That Ben Franklin Never Guessed
It can power a time machine, steal Superman's strength and even help Zack Morris graduate high school. Oh, lightning – is there anything you can't do? Long before nuclear energy and genetic engineering joined the team, lightning reigned as the top catch-all explanation for the funky phenomenon of the week, even transcending genre to become a standard sitcom plot device. Click through for clips of the flashiest lightning this side of Mt. Olympus.


You Will Sweat Nanoblobs: Your Future Workplace!

Chances are, you're reading this blog at work. At the same time, you're pretending to be a cat princess in a bestiality-quest MMO with your left hand, making a new Lynyrd Skynyrd/MC Frontalot mashup with your right hand and denouncing Saxby Chambliss with both feet. And you're still bored. But fear not — the workplace revolution that's coming will eradicate boredom forever. You will be amazed.


Exclusive Clip Shows Why Keanu Can't Fill Original Klaatu's Boots

Michael Rennie, stoic actor and first to don the silver spaceman duds in the 1951 classic The Day The Earth Stood Still, has left Neo some mighty big space boots to fill. Don't take our word for it — just check out this exclusive clip from one of the featurettes from the new TDTESS DVD re-release, and find out what went into making Rennie the definitive Klaatu.


Gifts for Geek Causes

If you'd like to donate to a geek cause this holiday, we've got a big list of fifteen organizations you might consider helping out with a charity gift. Let's say you'd rather not get another sweater for the holidays (even if it has a Star Wars pattern). Consider asking people to give that gift money to a charity instead - the kind of charity that helps nerds in need.

Hundreds Of Tests Needed To Get Spaceship Right, Says Earth Stood Still Designer
Those giant glowing spheres that trash Manhattan in the Day The Earth Stood Still remake took painstaking work — on everything from color schemes to the way they looked reflected in people's hazmat suit visors. We talked to production designer David Brisbin about reinventing a science fiction legend, and he explained why the new film is such a visual departure from the 1950s version.