Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Spring 2011

This is an archive page. Go here for the latest seasonal science fiction news.

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


Sad news: Alain le Bussy has sadly died. Some of us personally knew Alain and first encountered him in Eastern Europe as he was en route travelling from Belgium by car to that year's Romanian natcon (Atlantykron). We subsequently met him a number of times at Eurocons. Indeed the most astute of this site's followers, and this seasonal newscast in particular, will recognize his name from our 'thanks' section at the bottom of many of the past editions. He was regularly in correspondence with us pointing us in the right direction for news from France's SF scene: indeed, we now have a le-Bussy-sized hole in our Franco news gathering network!   It goes without saying that many SF writers love the genre and some are both SF fans as well as authors. Alain was one of these, but more than that, he was never afraid to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in organising fan events. Continental mainland Europe's SF scene has lost a stalwart.

More sad news: Paul (Gamma) Gamble has sadly died. He was a well liked character by all our core team (among many within the Brit SF community) from the late 1970s through to the end of the 1990s at which point he settled in Kentish Town and ultimately what came to be known as the Martian Embassy. Gamma's time was arguably his watch at Forbidden Planet and Titan. Listing his friendships and acquaintances with many British authors – not least of which included Rob Holdstock, J. G. Ballard, and Barrington J. Bayley – would have made for a veritable who's who of then-living SF authors. And then there was the drinking which he enjoyed – and which he himself came to admit – much too much.  Memorable were the late nights upstairs at the Troy club with regulars that included John Brosnan and at the Groucho: Gamma lived life to excess. He was the essence of what might be described a hippy SF fan which brings us onto music and his love of Frank Zappa and an almost Fat Furry Freak brothers-type lifestyle. As such, Gamma would be eminently suited to being the patron saint of the SF&DA.  Though in recent years his profile was low within Britain's SF community, back in the 1980s and 1990s he seemed to serve as part of its intrinsic glue: bringing people, who really should meet each other, together. In recent years, he stopped going to SF conventions and seemed to all but drop out of the SF scene. Yet, as he was based in London, there was always the odd chance you would bump into him in town. He also continued to pop up in other ways. For example, with e-mail he would send out odd messages and, for a couple of years whenever Concatenation had a major seasonal site update, he would send us a zany missive of encouragement often as not accompanied by some weird video clip and a giggling soundtrack.  Many in our part of the World, on hearing the news of his death will have raised a glass to the man. He would have liked that, but preferred to be with us to turn it into an all night and early morning session.   Gamma, wherever you are, to you and the Unlimited Dream Company Ltd. Cheers.

Pleasant news: Neil Gaiman author and past Concatenation contributor has had a double celebration with his 50th birthday and wedding. We wish the couple a happy future.

Nice news: SF2 Concatenation had a brief but pleasant mention in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine in an essay by Aliette De Bodard. She was writing about SF in non-Anglophone countries and mentioned Concatenation as one of three 'fine resources'.   Alas we do not get Asimov's in newsagents in the British Isles: which is a feeble excuse as her essay appeared on their website, but the news came to us via Romania where we understand her article is being translated. All of which reminds us to remind you to tell us of news from your country you think fits in with this seasonal round-up; by now regular visitors will know what we cover.

The Autumn saw Dan trundle off to East Asia for a break shortly after Jonathan returned from the NZ natcon and Australian Worldcon (see last season's staff matters). Other than that it really has been business-as-usual for most of us which, after last season, has been most welcome. A couple of us went to a pre-Christmas LOTNA (London media 'sci fi' group) as a rendez-vous point to discuss some forth-coming SFnal goings on for 2011, and then some others of us met up at various Christmas gatherings. And so we wish all our regulars the best for this new year.

Elsewhere this issue (vol 21 (1) Spring 2011) not mentioned above we have:-
          Science Fiction in Romania since the 1990 revolution
          2010 Worldcon Review: Australia
          New Zealand 2010 national convention review: Au Contraire
          21st Festival of Fantastic Films 2010
          The 2010 European SF Convention, Poland / Czech Republic
          2010 World Horror Convention Review: Great Britain
          2011 Diary of Major SF Conventions & Forthcoming SF Films of the Year
          - and book reviews (see the What's New page).

Concat Site Alert Closure Reminder. We have finally knocked this one on the head. Too much trouble what with hackers and all to boot. We now have had a regular publishing schedule (see bottom of linked page) for the past few years so you should know when we have new stuff up, and besides we also now post (low down on the front home page) a short, message about the current and next posting. Dropping the alert service is one less thing for us to keep secure and to do.


Help support Concatenation: Get Essential Science Fiction which is also available from In addition to helping this site it makes a great present and helps you do your bit to spread the genre word. See also news of signed copies from Porcupine Books (who can send you copies cheaper than Amazon...).


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


The best SF of the past year (2010).   Our choice recommendations of the Best science fiction books and best science fiction films to appear in the British Isles in 2010.

This season's science and SF/F prizes included: Britain's Royal Society Popular Science Book; the Wellcome ; British Fantasy, Festival of Fantastic Films and Eagle (comics) Awards; various French Utopiales awards; Ireland's Blasters for short film, Russia's Big Zilant Award (new major writers), Spain's Ignotus Awards and Stiges film awards; Sweden's Nobel Prizes and the Ukraine's Starbridge and SF Days Awards.

Book news – Includes : Quercus starts a new SF imprint, new HH Books publishes SF for charity, Angry Robot launches Nano Editions, Infinity Plus launches e-books, Pyr publishes 100th title and forthcoming will be Hammer novelisations.

Film news – Includes: comparing Let Me In with Let The Right One In, the Alien prequel hiatus, and SyFy films launched.

Television news – Includes: Russia's first SF programme The Tower gets 2nd season, Russia and Ukraine to do Strugatski Stalker series, Dr Who gets new lease of life, and Spawn to be for adults.

News of SF and science personalities includes, among many, that of: Margaret Atwood, Iain Banks, Greg Bear, Harlan Ellison, Neal Gaiman, Sergei Lukyanenko, China Miéville, Elizabeth Moon, Adam Nevill, Terry Pratchett and also his assistant, John Scalzi, Charles Stross, and John Wyndham.

News of last season's SF events includes that of: Russia's Zilantkon, Britain's Fantasycon, Novacon and Festival of Fantastic Films, Ireland's Octocon, Ukraine's Starbridge and France's Utopiales.

Major forthcoming SF event news includes that of: the 2011 Worldcon, the 2014 Worldcon, Sci Fi London and Australia's double anniversary. Over in Europe we have news of the 2011 Eurocon in Sweden as well as the 2012 Eurocon in Croatia. Plus a lot will be happening this year at Sci-Fi London.

Our short video clip links section this season includes, among others, links to trailers for: Monsters, Source Code, Aliens & Cowboys and Bollywood's latest SF offering Endhiran. – See the section here.

Notable SF books due out in the run up to April 2011 include: Metro 2033 by Dimitry Glukhovsky, Embassytown by China Miéville, and The Demi-Monde – Part One: Winter by Rod Rees.

Notable fantasy due out in the run up to April 2011 include: The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie, The Crippled God: Malazan Book of the Fallen 10 by Steven Erikson, Conan's Brethren by Robert E. Howard, The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe, and The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan.

The Autumn saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included among others: Alain le Bussy, John Fenn, Paul (Gamma) Gamble, Jyrki Ijäkseltä, Benoît Mandelbrot, Ingrid Pitt, Jean Rollin, Allan Sandage, Michael Tinkham, Donald H. Tuck and John Waterlow .


Jump to other specialist news using the section menu below or else scroll down to get everything…


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011



Best SF books of 2010. Yes, it is the start of a new year and so time for an informal look back at the last one. Here are a few of the books that we rated published in the British Isles last year (obviously there are other worthy offerings as well as titles published elsewhere). We have a varied mix for you so there should be something for everyone. So if you are looking for something to read then why not check out these Science Fiction books of 2010:-
          The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell. A quest novel as our protagonists traverse a post-apocalyptic US, encountering survivors and trying to avoid zombies. 2010 saw a glut of zombie novels. This is our choice of those that came our way.  Elsewhere we have a stand-alone review of The Reapers are the Angels.
          For The Win by Cory Doctorow. A modern, urban cyberpunk novel for the eary 21st century.
          Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky, for fans of traditional solid SF, is remarkable post-apocalyptic yarn that resonates with 1950s and '60s Anglophone SF. Some of the imagery may seem facile (such as pterodactyl monsters in a devastated 21st century Moscow) until you realise that the protagonist grew up without a conventional education in the subway and the tale is recounted through his uninformed eyes. And yes, the book is translated from the Russian a small allowance is needed for the translation  Elsewhere we have a stand-alone review of Metro 2033.
          The Dervish House by Ian McDonald. It concerns the families of the House of Dervish in Istanbul in 2025. McDonald has previous form with Brasyl and River of Gods. Here is a stand-alone review of The Dervish House.
          Absorption by John Meaney. A space and time-spanning tale. The first of a trilogy that shows considerable promise.
          The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi. An ultra hard-SF, Eganesque, debut novel.  Elsewhere we have a stand-alone review of The Quantum Thief.
          Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds. Hard SF with steampunk elements in a strange world (that could be closer to home than you think so keep an eye out for the clues).  Elsewhere we have a stand-alone reviews of here and here.

On the fantasy and horror front there was:-
          Ash by James Herbert. This is the long-awaited return of one of Herbert's best-loved characters, paranormal detective David Ash.
          Secrets of the Fire Sea by Stephen Hunt. A rollicking tale of murder, mystery, mercenaries and mayhem….on a fantastical world.
          Hyddenworld: Spring by William Horwood. The first in a quartet, the Hydden are small people who live on the edge of our world. One is sent to live with us humans and is on a quest to find an ancient Anglo-Saxon artefact.
          Kraken by China Miéville. Dark, urban fantasy.  Elsewhere we have a stand-alone review of Kraken.
          Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill. It's a big book, with a big take on the ghost story and the tropes and themes therein.

Best Science Fiction (and Sci Fi) films (movies) of 2010. Well, there has been the usual debate as to our informal consideration for better or worse. We have as usual a varied mix (sci fi, SF, space opera, fantasy and horror) for you so there should be something in this, best of science fiction films 2010, for everyone here:-
          The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, family film based on the J. K. C. S Lewis children's books. This was one of the high-earner Hollywood releases of the year.
          Earthling. After an atmospheric event, a group of people wake up to realise that their lives have been a lie... One worthy of Hugo consideration.
          First Men in the Moon. This was the BBC's 2010 straight-to-broadcast film version of the H. G. Wells 1901 novella written and starring Mark Gatiss. Its running time is officially 90 minutes which makes it borderline between the Hugo short and long-form Best Dramatic Presentation categories but the full DVD release may be a little longer. The first broadcast was on BBC4 (a non-terrestrial channel) and watched by 830,000 people in Great Britain, the third largest multichannel audience of the night. See the trailer here.
          Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I , based on the J. K. Rowling children's books. This was one of the high-earner Hollywood releases of the year, whatever you think of the quality of the fantasy.
          Inception Directed by Christopher Nolan, this is a solid SF offering about technology used to enter people's dreams to acquire industrial information. Hugely recommended and if there was any justice (often there is not) this would be short-listed for a Hugo.
          Let Me In This is the 2010 Hollywood version of the Swedish film based on the Swedish fantasy vampire horror. Now the Hugo voters largely ignored the Swedish film which had a 2009 UK/US release so it failed to make the 2010 Hugo shortlist (though won literally scores of other genre film awards). We have covered the debate about these films below. Meanwhile you can find the trailer here.

As for short-form media (TV) SF, the year's offering worth consideration are:-
          Big Bang Theory (Season 3), more science and SF comedy with this charming N. American series about researchers and their attractive non-science mundane neighbour.
          Dr Who: The 2010 series saw the Doctor regenerate into a youthful embryo (Matt Smith). Dr Who is such a favourite with Hugo Award voters that no doubt at least one episode will be short-listed.
          The Event (Season 1): a US series that at the time of compiling this page has only had half its first series run in Britain: so the jury is still out. We are hoping that it’s a parallel continuum tale and not aliens. Anyway the trailer for the series is here.
          The IT Crowd (series 4), the British science and SF comedy series about two computer support department staff and their non-science manager working for a company headed up an eccentric, misogynistic maniac. Fantastically zany and surreal.
          Misfits (Season 1): which is effectively a British take on the Heroes premise when a group of young offenders each get a superpower. Gritty, streetwise and – dare we say it – much better that Heroes.
          Sherlock (Season 1): the modern re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes. Its genre appeal is that you might consider Sherlock's deductive ability as being a superpower. Anyway, the series is simply brilliant. Indeed its success has been such that a second series will be screened later this year.
          The Walking Dead (Season 1): the zombie series in which the inhabitants of a small US town struggle to survive against the hoards of walking dead. Based on the Robert Kirkman graphic novels.

Nominations for 2011 Hugo Awards are now open. For details see our Eurocon/Worldcon news subsection below.

The 2010 Nobel Prizes for science have been announced. The science category wins were:-
          Physics: Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov (both Russian born working in Britain) for graphene (single layer carbon in de-localised graphite-like hexagons).
          Chemistry: Richard F. Heck (US), Ei-ichi Negishi (US) and Akira Suzuki (Japan), for new ways to concatenate carbon.
          Medicine: Robert G. Edwards (Great Britain) for inventing and developing in vitro fertilisation in the 1950s.

Philip Kim should have shared the Physics Nobel say critics. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences who administer the Nobels released their usual 'Scientific Background' document to explain why the science Nobel winners were deserving. However critics (including Walter de Heer of the Georgia Institute of Technology) have noted that the document seems to have misunderstood some of the detail of the science and ignores the importance of the Philip Kim team paper that was published alongside one from the winners in Nature in 2005. (de Heer works in the same area of physics as the winners.) Meanwhile the Nobel internet site has an amended version of the 'Scientific Background' document.

The Royal Society ends its popular science book prize! The prize was instigated in 1988 (the year following the original Concatenation first print edition) by its Committee of Public Understanding of Science (COPUS), and a Royal Society Committee has managed the award ever since. But the prize, promotion and secretariat costs were a financial burden and so sponsorship was required. This came, and the last big sponsor for a number of years was Aventis. However Aventis, having done its bit, ceased sponsorship in 1996.   Popular science books in the British Isles has a market of around £13m (US$20.9m) a year as part of the total British Isles mass market book sales (fiction and non-fiction (but excluding small presses outside of BookScan) of £1.75billion (US$2.8bn): that's just 0.1%! Nonetheless, the prize did boost sales and draw attention to this genre of writing.   Let's hope another technology-based industry decides to rescue it.  Meanwhile, news of this year's winner is here.

The British Fantasy Awards were presented at this year's Fantasycon with Master of Ceremonies James Barclay. The Principle category wins were:-
          Best Novel: One by Conrad Williams
          Best Novella: The Language Of Dying by Sarah Pinborough
          Best Non-Fiction: Ansible by David Langford (actually, contrary to what it says on the physical award, the award is for the Ansible Link column in Interzone)
          Best Film: Lat Den Ratte Komma In [Let The Right One In]
          Best Television: Doctor Who
          Karl Edward Wagner Award: The Robert Holdstock
For full details of all the categories see The British Fantasy Award winners were decided by a vote of the combined memberships of the British Fantasy Society, FantasyCon 2009 and FantasyCon 2010, but the Karl Edward Wagner Award is decided by the British Fantasy Society and Fantasycon 2010 committees.
Comment: Dave Langford's Ansible win is most welcome as he seems to have slipped from recent Hugo Awards: apparently long service does not cut in these days of ephemeral short-termism. Ditto Lat Den Ratte Komma In [Let The Right One In] which also missed out on the Hugo (and was no way near the running even for the Hugo short-list) and which surely says something about the state of Worldcon's award! Of course you could argue that the Fantasycon Award is following the crowd given the many genre as well as film awards >Lat Den Ratte Komma In [Let The Right One In] has garnered… We had already included it in best SF films of 2009 a year ago back in January 2009 and said that it had won many (56 awards to date) at fantastic film fests in many countries, as well as some more mainstream awards, and has been nominated for 16 more!   Finally, Rob Holdstock'sposthumous win was for a number of us on the SF2 Concatenation team personally particularly welcome given his relationship with Hatfield PSIFA.

Ukraine's Starbridge Awards were presented at this year's Starbridge in Kharkov in September. The category wins were:-
Best Series/Sequence:-
          Gold: "Year of the Rat" by Olga Gromyko
          Silver: "War 2010: Against NATO" by Fyodor Berezin
          Bronze: "Impossible Vendors" by Vadim Panov
Best Novel:-
          Gold: Russian Gods by Dmitry Kazakov
          Silver: Long way to Bimini by Karina Shainyan
          Bronze: The Paradise Machine by Mikhail Uspenski
Best Debut Novel:-
          Gold: The First Judge of the Labyrinth by Alexey Kirsanov
          Silver: The House That… by Mariam Petrosyan
          Bronze: Un-alien by Maxim Khorsun
          Gold: Herbert Wells by Maxim Chertanov
          Silver: Did Shalom Aleikhem Like Fantastic by Vladimir Gopman
          Bronze: Evaluation of Futuristic Intrusion Opportunities by Stanislav Beskaravayny
At Starbridge there were also the jury-judged awards. Principally there was the Grand Prix Philosophers' Stone awarded by the Eccentric Institute and this year it went to Mikhail Uspenski for merit to Her Majesty Fantastic Literature. Note: this was in additional to his Bronze Starbridge award for his novel.

Ukraine's SF Days Awards were presented at SF Days in Kiev in November. The voted SF Days Award wins were:-
          Novel: Alumen. Book 3: Life Gear by H.L. Oldie and Andrey Valentinov
          Novella: Time for Jabberwocky by Dmitry Kolodan
          Short Story: Roundabout by H.L. Oldie
          Translated Book: Eifelheim by Michael Flynn, translated by A. Bodrov
          Non-Fiction: Out of Conscience by Maria Galina
          Best Book in Ukrainian: The First Printer Revenge by Stanislav Rosovetsky
Then there were the SF Days contest winners:-
          Ukrainian Alternative History:
          First: A Colonel and a Girl by Julia Siromolot
          Second: Vacant Cell by Juliana Lebedynska
          Third: Steam Age by Igor Silivra
          Ukrainian Fantasy: The Petrenchuk's House by Zinaida Lutsenko
Regular SF2 Concatenation readers will note that H.L. Oldie has had quite a few wins from various Eastern Europe and former Soviet nation awards the past 18 months.

Spain's Ignotus Awards were presented at Hispacon 28, Spain's national convention. The principal category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Última Noche de Hipatia [The Last Night of Hypatia] by Eduardo Vaquerizo
          Best Novella: 'La Cosecha del Centauro ['The Harvest of the Centaur'] by Eduardo Gallego and Guillem Sánchez
          Best Anthology: De Mecánica y Alquimia [Of Mechanics and Alchemy] by Juan Jacinto Muñoz Rengel
          Best Nonfiction Book: W de Watchmen [W for Watchmen] by Rafael Marín
          Best Audiovisual Production: Planet51 by Jorge Blanco and Javier Abad
          Best Magazine: Calabazas en el Trastero [Pumpkins in the Back Room]
          Best Foreign Novel: Diáspora [Diaspora] by Greg Egan
          Best Website: [] NGC 3660
          Retro-Ignotus Award 1988: Hijos de la Eternidad [Sons of Eternity] by Javier Redal and Juan Miguel Aguilera, a landmark space opera.
The Ignotus is Spain's national SF Award (equivalent to the British SF Awards) and presented at Spain's annual natcon, Hispacon,which is sponsored by the Asociación Española de Fantasía, Ciencia Ficción y Terror. The 2010 awards were presented October 11 during Hispacon 28, held this year in Burjassot, Valencia.

Stiges – Northern Spain's 43rd Festival of Fantastic Films* – 2010 principal category award winners (for 2009) included:-
          Best Film: A Christmas Tale dir. Jalmari Helander
          Competition Winner: Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil dir. Eli Craig
          Golden Melies (for Best European film): Buried dir. Rodrigo Cortés
          Silver Melies (for Best European film): Rubber by Quentin Dupieux
          Audience Award: Thirteen Assassins dir. Takashi Miike
Note: A Christmas Tale also picked up awards for 'Best Cinematography' and 'Best Director' as well as a special mention in the Silver Melies.   Rubber also picked up a 'Critic Award' as well as a 'Carnet Jove' Award. All the Awards at Stiges are juried with the exception of the 'Audience Award'.
*Not to be confused with Spain's Festival of Fantastic Films, Stiges is Catalonia's Fest.

Ireland's 2nd Blaster Awards for short fantastic films were announced at Octocon, Ireland's natcon in Dublin:-
          Golden Blaster (jury award): Ubermensch
          Silver Blaster (audience vote):The Astronomer's Sun
          Creative Achievement: George R. R. Martin for work on The New Twilight Zone TV series
Further information:   Ubermensch is a tale that asks the question, 'What if Superman had landed in early-20th century Germany rather than Kansas?'. It was directed by Simon Temple, written by Daniel Poole, and based on a short story by Kim Newman.   Meanwhile The Astronomer's Sun is an emotional story about a young man and his mechanical teddy bear. The film was written and directed by Simon Cartwright & Jessica Cope. It premiered at this year's Stiges in Spain and was screened on Britain's Channel 4 terrestrial television. There is The Astronomer's Sun trailer on YouTube.   The Creative Achievement Blaster was this year a play to the gallery as the winner was Octocon's GoH. Note: the first Blasters in 2009 had the Silver juried and Golden audience vote determined which was the other way around to this year's Blasters.

Britain's 2010 Festival of Fantastic Films presented its usual awards:-
          International Independent Film Competition: Evariste Galois UK, directed by Pete Wild
          Delta Award (amateur shorts): Pigeon: Impossible USA, directed by Lucas Martell
          Delta (highly commended): Back in the Woods France, directed by Liam Engle
          Delta (commended): Short Lease UK, directed by Prano Bailey-Bond & Jennifer Eiss
Note: We do look after you at SF2 Concatenation and had drawn you attention to Pigeon Impossible last year! See the link to YouTube here. The six minute film is a hoot.

Britain's Eagle Awards for comics were presented in London at the ExCeL. The principal category wins were:-
          Roll of Honour: Brian Bolland
          Favourite Writer: Warren Ellis
          Favourite Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
          Favourite Artist: Pencils: Frank Quietly
          Favourite Artist: Inks: Kevin O’Neill
          Favourite Artist: Fully-Painted Artwork: J.H. Williams III
          Favourite British Comic– Colour: 2000AD
          Favourite European Comic : Requiem Chevalier Vampire
Introduced in 1976, the Eagles are the comics industry’s longest established awards (older even than the Eisners in N. America).

Life Ascending wins 2010 Royal Society Book Prize. Biochemist and author Nick Lane has won this year's Royal Society Science Book Prize for Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution. The others in the short list were:-           A World Without Ice by Henry Pollack
          Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic by Frederick Grinnell
          God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science James Hannam
          We Need To Talk About Kelvin by Marcus Chown
          Why Does E=mc2? - Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw
(Last year's winners are here.)

The winner of the Wellcome Trust Book Prize for 2010 has been announced:-
          The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
The Wellcome Prize is for popular science (non-fiction) as well as fiction that promotes understanding of medical bioscience and which was founded last year. Henrietta Lacks died of cancer in 1951 but during her treatment, cells from her tumour were taken and a cell line created. The resulting 'HeLa' (taken from the first two letters of her Christian and surname) cells were used over the subsequent decades in cancer research. So in one sense something of Henrietta Lacks literally lives on.   The winner also received a cheque for £25,000 (US$40,000).

Russia's Big Zilant awards were presented at the Zilantkon: 20th International Festival of Fantasy and RPG. The winners were:-
          The Hill's Trio: Guarding the Edge of the World by Mikhail Uspenski
          Cosmic Aunt by Elena Khayetski
The Little Zilants were not awarded this year but 2 Big ones were instead. The Zilants are a juried award for excellence in Russian literary fantasy (and SF) that has yet to be recognised by other major awards. It is therefore an award whose winners are keenly checked out by Russian genre readers. For example, former winners have included folk such as Kir Bulychev and Sergei Lukyanenko, whose names will have become familiar to this seasonal newscast over the years.

French SF Awards at the 2009 SF Utopiales, in Nantes, France. Bigger than the Worldcon, if you speak French this is the west's SF event of the year for both cinematic and book buffs. The principal prizes and principal categories (there are others) were:-
Prix Européen Utopiales des Pays de la Loire: Tie with Cygnis by Vincent Gessler
That came equal with Tancrède: Une Uchronie [Tancrède: An Alternate History] by Ugo Bellagamba
Prix Julia Verlanger:-
          SF novel: Cygnis by Vincent Gessler (Atalante)
          SF Comics/Graphic Novel: Derniers Jours d'un Immortel [Last Days of an Immortal] by Fabien Vehlmann and Gwen de Bonneval
Feature Film International Competition:-
          Juried Prize: Earthling directed by Clay Liford
          Juried Special Mention: Redline directed by Takeshi Koike
          Public Vote SF Film: Redline directed by Takeshi Koike
Comment. Given that some of you may not have seen the winning feature films, here is the summary gen. Redline is an anime that seems to have the approval of anime fans. At its core is a high-speed, hardcore futuristic motor race (think Deathrace 2000).   Earthling concerns a school teacher who is growing distant from her husband and has strange bumps appearing and skin peeling. Meanwhile in space disaster strikes a space station but one survivor makes it back down to Earth in a comatose state… The film has some resonances with David Cronenberg's offerings.
          As for the novels, Tancrède: Une Uchronie [Tancrède: An Alternate History] is an alternate history story set in the time of the crusades in which the crusading protagonist, Tancrède, finds that maybe morally he is on the wrong side.
          As for the novels, Finally, Cygnis which won both co-won the Prix Européen Utopiales des Pays de la Loire and also won the Prix Julia Verlanger.  Cygnis has been getting simply great reviews on the Francophone websites. It is a debut novel for Vincent Gessler and, though it has a few minor debut novel flaws, is a cracking story very well told and what more could you want than that. It is not exactly a post-apocalyptic story but something close. The world has developed in the future but somewhere along the way took a step back. Now there are pockets of human civilization left, small bands of brigands in between, and knocking about the occasional robot freed from human domination when whatever happened happened. The story revolves around Syn who is a trapper, and his wolf Ack. Syn traps robots and his wolf is a cyborg (or whatever half-robot, half animal is).  This novel really does deserve to come out in English. Hint, hint.   +++ Previously we reported on last year's Utopiales Prize.

The Arthur C.Clarke SF Award will be awarded for the 25th time this Spring. The Clarke SF Award (not to be confused with the Clarke (space) Awards) was founded 24 years ago in 1987, and first presented at that year's British Eastercon, BECCON (coincidentally where the first issue of SF2 Concatenation was launched), its first quarter century will soon be upon us (2012). However Arthur Clarke sadly died in 2008 and with the subsequent winding up of Rocket Publishing (Sir Arthur’s UK company which funded the Award’s prize) the Award is now faced with an immediate and pressing need to change, adapt and re-evaluate its role and function as it moves into 2012 and its next quarter century.  The Arthur C. Clarke (Book) Award is built around three core values:  i) To recognise the best science fiction novels of the year published in the UK.  ii) To promote science fiction and science fiction literature both within the UK and internationally.  iii)To honour the memory and legacy of Sir Arthur.  Just before Christmas the Clarke Book Award's current administrator, Tom Hunter, posed key questions as to the Award's future to the international SF community.  These included:  a) What value does the Award bring to the SF community?  b) How important is such a UK prize important in an increasingly international and digital market?  c) What could the Award do to promote SF?  d) Does it need to be a cash prize?  e) What potential funding partners and sponsors are there?   All with an interest in SF novels are encouraged to send Tom their thoughts with regards to these questions at ClarkeAward [-at-] gmail [-dot-] com. This is something that will not cost you anything to do, but it could be that you have the germ of an idea that could be key to shaping the Award's future for the next quarter century, so do please let Tom have your views.

All Romanian SF & F to be reprinted in ambitious several-year project. SRSFF (Society of Romanian SF & Fantasy) and Eagle Publishing have embarked on an ambitious project that will last several years to reprint all (yes, all) of Romania's published speculative fiction of the 19th and 20th centuries. Called 'Senior (or Oldster's) Imagination', works of speculative fiction as well as genre non-fiction will be re-published. In the event a work has had a number of editions, the publishers will reprint first editions but may append subsequent author comment and other additional material relevant to the work. The reprints will not appear in order of publication but as a mix across the two centuries so that readers can quickly get a feel for how Romanian speculative fiction has changed with time. Kindle versions will be available.

China's SF World editor sacked! As previously reported last summer the editor of SF World China's large circulation SF magazine, was suspended following greed and cronyism. Now Li Chang has officially been removed. The removal of an editor because of public complaint is virtually unheard of in China where publishing is strictly administered by the government. However we are still not sure that the magazine is out of the woods yet. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Realms of Fantasy closes and then resurrected. Publisher Warren Lapine cited financial reasons to close Realms back in the autumn – which is logical otherwise he would have sold it if he decided he did not wish to continue to publish the magazine. The December issue was not printed but put on-line for subscribers. Another of Warren Lapine's publication, Dreams of Decadence also closed.   Warren Lapine and Tir Na Nog Press had purchased Realms of Fantasy only 18 months ago but could not grow sales despite much effort.   However since the autumn the news is that Realms has been bought by Damnation Press, but still there have been embryonic worries on the blogoshpere (see htttp:// and here) as to the suitability of the new owner.   Conversely, Damnation Press say that they will print the December issue and then an issue in February (2011). The April 2011 issue will have a 'dark fantasy' theme to coincide with the 2011 World Horror Convention, where Damnation Books will be hosting a party and a stall in the dealers’ room. The new mailing address for Realms of Fantasy is: P.O. Box 1208, Santa Rosa, California 95402, USA. +++ Unfortunately Realms' farewell note caused Andrew Porter upset. +++ Meanwhile, many in the SF community will appreciate Warren's efforts and the hard work of Realm's editor Douglas Cohen.

All change at Strange Horizons. World Fantasy Award winner Susan Marie Groppi is taking more of a backseat having resigned as editor-in-chief. She will however continue to help out as a fiction editor. Meanwhile former reviews editor Niall Harrison takes her place. Reviews in turn are now being covered by Abigail Nussbaum.

Cosmos fiction editor change. After 5 years, Damien Broderick has resigned as fiction editor of Australia's popular science magazine. Cat Sparks takes over. (Last season Cat Sparks was noted for getting Peter Watts to the Australian Worldcon.

Fantasy Magazine gets new look and editor. The re-launch will take place this March. The quarterly publication has only been around for five years and comes from Prime Books. Then last summer Prime Books launched the internet magazine LightSpeed with John Joseph Adams as fiction editor. (J. J. A. was formerly assistant editor of Fantasy and Science Fiction.)

New magazine on comic heroes launched. Actually this is old news but we have only just found out that a new UK magazine has been launched called Comic Heroes. Three issues have come out since March so it looks like it is a quarterly that may go monthly if sales warrant it. It is from the same publishing house that does SFX magazine. The new magazine comes as a wallet containing posters and other goodies together with the magazine itself which seems to have a fairly comprehensive look at the comics scene and comics aficionado Dez Skinn has a column.

Locus marks its 600th issue in January with launch of digital version. Locus is the multi-Hugo-Award-winning magazine of the, primarily US and British, written SF trade. Appropriately, the January edition has a digital theme.  If you use an e-reader, you already know that the e-publication format presents certain difficulties for magazines and any documents that are image heavy or use columns. As a result, Locus has spent several months working toward creating a readable, searchable, and a hopefully enjoyable e-pub experience for its subscribers. They have to re-format the layout of the entire magazine each time to produce the digital version, but they consider it worth the extra work, and as the technology continues to develop (and magazine and graphic novel digital publishing is seeing some serious development right now) they will continue to fine-tune things.

Odyssey SF writers' course 2011 details announced. The Odyssey Writing Workshop is a programme for fantasy, science fiction, and horror writers. The 2011 workshop will be held from June 6th to July 15th at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire in the US. Odyssey is a great opportunity to improve writing and meet editors and authors. During the workshop, the class meets for four hours in the morning, five days a week. Students spend about eight hours more per day writing and critiquing each other's work. Prospective students apply from all over the World. Odyssey's 2011 writer-in-residence is award-winning author Gary A. Braunbeck. Braunbeck has had published 25 books, over 200 short stories, and co-edited two anthologies. 2011 guest lecturers will include: authors Elizabeth Bear, Barry B. Longyear, Theodora Goss, and Christopher Golden; and editor John Joseph Adams.

Mary Shelly (author of Frankenstein) exhibition takes place in Oxford (UK) and New York (US). The exhibition in Oxford is at the Bodleian Library until March 2011, and then it moves to the New York public library.

2000AD's Gronk was reprised with a mini-graphic novel Gronk adventure reprints bagged with the Judge Dredd Megazine no. 305 and 306. This would be welcome to Hatfield PSIFAns as Tharg of 2000AD granted PSIFA copyright permission to have the Gronk as its official mascot as it also is for Cambridge University SF Society. The adventures, 'Return of the Gronk' and 'The Darkest Star' are available by ordering back issues (#305) which came out in December 2010 and (#306) that came out January 2011. Both are available from

Michael Straczynski has left Superman and Wonder Woman comics. This is a bit of a surprise in that the Babylon V creator has only been in the saddle for about a year. Apparently behind this is the comics' market trend with single monthly comic sales declining, Straczynski's Superman Earth One graphic novel was a sell-out that went immediately into a second printing. So he has decided that from now on that is where he will be focusing his efforts.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


Margaret Atwood was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour and discussed her breakthrough novel The Handmaid's Tale that has just marked its 25th anniversary since publication. She warned that similar state actions portrayed in The Handmaid's Tale could take place given the circumstances and pointed out that controlling reproductive biology was a common feature of totalitarian states. She cited former communist Romania's policy of encouraging couples having more children, and China's policy of restricting fecundity.   She said that she worked in the tradition of Aldous Huxley. In terms of the race between Brave New World (1932) and Orwell's 1984 (1949, with the end of the Cold War Brave New World led with everyone going shopping. Yet following 9/11 we entered an era with 1984 very much in the running and we now are under greater surveillance than ever before.

J. G. Ballard fans had another chance to hear author Will Self's tribute to Ballard, who died in 2009, when BBC Radio 4 repeated a half-hour documentary on JGB. The documentary, narrated by Self, included many recorded comments from Ballard. Self noted how a theme of Ballard's writing was a nightmare marriage of sex, death and violence refereed by the media. And that Ballard had a penetrating power of vision that was both prophetic an ironic. Ballard himself said that his favourite song was the children's Teddy Bears' Picnic with its childish delight on one hand masking an undercurrent of subversive goings on in the woods. Though Ballard enjoyed the freedom of Science Fiction, he did not like much genre writing that dealt with the far future or outer space; Ballard preferred his SF to be set in the present. Self also noted that Ballard omitted his first novel, The Wind From Nowhere (1962) (which Clute notes as being formula SF and written in a fortnight but the income from which enabled him to become a full-time writer).

Iain Banks' latest 'Culture' novel, Surface Detail, is doing very well even by Banksian standards. Its launch at Forbidden Planet unfortunately clashed with the September London Circle, but most bookshops had hardback copies at the official launch date a little later. The result was that it jumped into the British Isles weekly top 20 mass-market fiction charts at number 4, with first week sales of 7,176 copies. Remember this is the first week of sales only. His previous (2008) 'Culture' novel, Matter, sold 38,400 copies in hardback which was an incredible 20,000 or so more than his last mainstream fiction British Isles hardback sales for The Steep Approach to Garbadale.

Greg Bear and wife Astrid have been highlighting possible copyright infringement by Google's Project Gutenberg which digitises written works and then makes them freely available on the internet. They in particular are concerned that Poul Anderson works posted by Gutenberg have not yet (November 2010) been taken down. (Astrid is Poul's daughter.)

Orson Scott Card has had a stroke on New Year's Day. Fortunately, it was only a mild one but it is making typing difficult, though not impossible. Prospects for recovery are good and naturally he has our best wishes.

Malcolm Edwards, former co-founder of the SF semi-prozine Interzone and deputy at Hachette (which owns Orion that in turn has Gollancz as an imprint) has been cited as one of the top 100 most influential people in the British book trade by the Bookseller Association.

Harlan Ellison has put his first typewriter, a Remington 'noiseless', up for sale with an asking price of US$40,000.  Harlan is getting on, feeling his age and so creating a war fund chest in anticipation of future health bills. Asked by the New York Times whether or not Cormac McCarthy selling his typewriter was an influence, Harlan was reported as saying: "A friend said 'oh gee, you should sell it, they sold Cormac McCarthy’s typewriter.' And I said, 'yeah, Cormac McCarthy who ripped off my story 'A Boy and His Dog' to do The Road.' I said how much did they get US$20?' And he said, 'they got US$220,000 because they gave it to charity' and I said 'that’s nice.' So now I’m terrified to throw it out and a dealer came to me and said, 'if you need money now would be the time to sell it because they sold the Kerouac.' I asked if they got US$220,000 and he said: 'no, that got US$116.' That’s a big difference. He said that mine would be 'somewhere in between' and I said 'let’s try it.'

Steven Erikson is over from N. America in February for a signing tour of Britain to mark the launch of The Crippled God the (purported) final tale in the Malazan sequence.

Jo Fletcher has left Gollancz (Orion) where she has for many years been one of its SF editors. She has moved to Quercus to start a new SF imprint.

Becca Fitzpatrick, the US paranormal romance author, has made her first trip to Great Britain. (Note: she is an author of paranormal romance and is not herself paranormal.) Simon and Schuster ensured she did not waste time and so she visited eight British cities in ten days. This included one signing of over 1,000 books that took 7 hours in two sessions straddling two days. During her visit she revealed that she had had 100 rejections before her debut novel Hush Hush was accepted.

Neil Gaiman held a 50th birthday part in New Orleans’ Rosy’s Jazz Hall. Roughly 150 gathered. Neil, wearing black, sported a top hat given him by his financé Amanda. A band (complete with accordion, double bass, wind and horns) enlivened the evening, not that that was needed as conversation buzzed.   Our congratulations to Neil, whom some of us knew decades ago in his native Brit residing days, and who was one of our early contributors. If the second half of his professional life as productive as his first, then we will have much for which to look forward. +++ And then on 3rd January Neil and Amanda got married in the living room of Californian friends (and authors) Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldma. Neil and Amanda got engaged a year ago.   Double congratulations.

John Gwyne, 'who he?' we hear you cry. Well, he is a new British fantasy author who has just had sold the rights to two novels in his ' The Faithful And The Fallen' sequence for a five-figure sum to Tor. So Deep A Malice, the first volume in the series, will be published in 2012, followed by its sequel Terror Of Heaven in 2013. Set on a continent called the Banished Lands, populated by men and giants, dark forests, dreadwolves and draigs; this debut fantasy follows the story of Corban, a young man who just wants to become a warrior, but whose path will lead him to so much more. Populated with original and engaging characters, set in a primal, feral world, soon to become the battleground of angels and demons, this is a tale of love and betrayal, truth and courage, friendship and loyalty. An epic and intimate coming-of-age tale filled with mystery, Machiavellian politics, adventure, joy and tragedy.  We hear that it is expected to appeal to fans of George R. R. Martin.

Nye Joell Hardy, whose one-page PDF 'Futures' story we posted a couple of months ago, has a fantasy novel out. The Crows of Bedu is out from Pill Hill Press in the US but is available from Amazon UK (and of course all respectable specialist genre bookshops)… Plot teaser: Holly is a juvenile delinquent. Gregory is a teenage ballet dancer. Sabine is the new kid in town. They don't have anything in common until thousands of crows appear, and with them a legendary sorceress named Circe. Then their seaside town gets a little crazy: there are hordes of young pickpockets, a prison of famous paintings, a scraggly black tree that appears only at midnight, a thief who turns into a grey owl and a dead Queen who has reigned for hundreds of years. Now, Holly is a shape-shifter. Gregory is king of the Tree House. Sabine is a siren. But the magic is not as wonderful as it first seemed, and Circe has even more planned...and these three teens are the only ones who can stop her.

Sergei Lukyanenko, the Russian mega-star author famous among other things for The Night Watch and The Day Watch has been conducting minimal suggested payment experiment. Reported on The World SF Blog by Valentin Ivanov, Sergei Lukyanenko has offered a new novel for a suggested donation of 1 Rouble (£0.025p or 6d (old pence in real money)). The results: 52,993 people read the post. 2,640 people made donations, of 6,404 Roubles (£125). So only 5% were prepared to pay. Alas this is not nearly enough for the average Russian writer. Lukyanenko novels typically sell around 200,000 copies in Russian-related states (former Sov Bloc) but the average Russian writer sells around 5,000 – 7,000 copies. Valentin Ivanov notes that internet access is not so common in former Soviet nations as it is in the West and also that there is some relevance to Cory Doctorow's own publishing model experiment.

China Miéville keeps on seeing fake Facebook pages of himself and has had to go to great lengths to get Facebook to address the matter. His latest letter would actually be quite funny but for the understandably considerable annoyance the matter has generated. For details see

Elizabeth Moon blogged about the proposed Muslim centre in New York. A risqué topic whichever way you cut it, but in this case it resulted in her having her Guest of Honour status for the US convention Wiscon summarily rescinded. This prompted debate both ways. Much lengthy comment on the gossip and some news blogs should you be interested. Comments at SF3 - - give the range of much of the debate.

Adam Nevill is becoming a bit of a horror star to watch and has had concluded a World Rights deal for him with Pan Macmillan in London, for two horror novels for a very good five-figure sum. Already Adam's Apartment 16 was published very successfully by Pan in May this year, reprinting three times and spending many weeks as’s best-selling horror title, and The Ritual will follow in 2011. The two new books are, as yet, untitled but they will be published by Macmillan in 2012 and 2013.   Meanwhile, German publisher Heyne has acquired German rights and plan to publish The Ritual first, following up with Apartment 16. This is the sixth translation deal for Adam via Macmillan’s rights department, following on from China, France, Russia, Spain and Turkey. Finally, St Martin's Press in the US has acquired the rights for The Ritual which they will publish in 2012.

Andrew I. Porter, editor of the semi-prozine Science Fiction Chronicle, was not happy that when Warren Lapine was announcing Realms of Fantasy's closure, he included Science Fiction Chronicle in a list of magazines that were 'defunct' until bought and brilliantly turned around by Lapine. November's Ansible reports Andrew Porter saying 'As of this morning, my request for a correction [at] was still not posted. I have consulted an attorney.'

Terry Pratchett – now Sir Terry given that he is knighted – has had his coat of arms granted and drawn up for him by the College of Arms. It is featured in their September newsletter +++ Terry (and also Martin Amis) received a 'Nibbies' Award for Outstanding Achievement at the Galaxy National Book Awards held in London at the BBC studios in November. It honors their 'unrivalled contribution to the publishing industry'. Commenting on his win, Terry said, “I’m amazed. You find something that you like doing, and do well, and keep on doing it, and suddenly they give you an award when all I really was doing was having lots of fun.” The Galaxy National Book Awards celebrates the best of British publishing, and prizes were given in several other categories, including popular fiction and non-fiction. The Galaxy 'Nibbies' have been given annually since 1990.

Hannu Rajaniemi and his novel The Quantum Thief are seeing continued success. We first highlighted this then forthcoming novel as one to watch back in last Easter. Since then rights have been sold in Spain as well as Germany and just before Christmas in Turkey. Meanwhile (as of mid-December 2010) Gollancz has reprinted the trade paperback four times!

J. K. Rowling gave more than a hint during her interview on the Oprah Winfrey show that she may write another Harry Potter novel. Now that is a surprise.   However what is a surprise is Harry Potter actor, Daniel Radcliffe's reaction: "Oh God, she promised me categorically that there wouldn't be another book involving Harry." He added that it was "very doubtful" he'd ever again play the character. "I think 10 years is a long time to spend with one character."

John Scalzi reveals a secret… His novelette The Sagan Diary was originally written in free verse. When finished writing (composing?) it, he went back and formatted it into traditionally formed sentences and paragraphs, so as not to scare away the sort of reader who does not like poetry. So The Sagan Diary is a poem and when you read it knowing that, it becomes fairly obvious.

Charles Stross fans can look forward to a bumper 2012 with two books, the writing of which is currently occupying him as their MSs are due in this summer (2011). The first is The Apocalypse Codex which is another in 'The Laundry' sequence (see The Fuller Memorandum). The second is The Rapture of the Nerds which is a collaboration with Cory Doctorow. It is an extension, continuation, and culmination of our collaborative novellas, Jury Service and Appeals Court. Meanwhile he has just checked the copy edited manuscript from his publisher of his next novel Rule 34. If all this were not enough, there is the chance – just a chance – that a media project, for which he has been paid a kind of retainer, may take off. So he is fully busy and kept off the streets.

Terry Pratchett's p.a., Rob Wilkins, of over a decade's service, has revealed what it is like to work for Terry in a piece for the Galaxy Book Award 2010 booklet. Rob wrote that in winter Terry likes to write with a fire burning in the house and he chops his own wood from logs delivered. Rob's duties means he has to accompany Terry on many engagements and so has to have three black-tie suits so that there is always one available even if another is being cleaned. He also does a lot of transatlantic flying with Terry and though getting a Lear jet is not on the cards he was once asked to find out how long one would take to get to the US. As for Terry's philosophy of writing and whether he is a serious author: apparently, Terry says that the opposite of 'serious' is not 'funny'. And the opposite of 'funny' is not 'serious'. The opposite of 'funny' is 'not funny'. So it is possible to be a funny and a serious author at the same time.

John Wyndham's science fiction was explored by BBC Radio 4 in a half-hour programme 'John Wyndham: No Place Like Earth'.  Ground covered included: his hate of the term 'science fiction' (he preferred 'logical fantasies'); the feminist dimension to his work (role of women, marriage etc., in society); the vulnerability of society to upheaval (he lived through World War II); that the plant kingdom has species that exhibit a characteristic of Triffids (walking, digesting animals, poisonous sap, and whip-like stingers) but no one species has all the characteristics; Aldiss' critique that Wyndham wrote 'cosy catastrophes' was challenged (for example, there is nothing cosy about the end of the Midwich Cuckoos with a room of school children being blown up); and how his work echoes through today's fiction (for example the theme, let alone the very opening scenes, of 28 Days Later). Few authors have most of their works still in print many decades after their death.

For SF author websites click SF author links.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


17 new minutes found of 2001: A Space Odyssey! 17 minutes of good quality film cut from 2001 shortly after its initial release has been found in Warners' Kansas salt mine archive vault. They are in the form of negatives and are in good condition. It is not known what Warner's proposes to do with the footage.

The Let Me In (2010, US) versus Let The Right One In [Låt Den Rätte Komma In] (2008, Sweden) debate continues as revenues for both roll in. OK. If you are an SF/F film buff then you will know what all this is about. Suffice to say that the latter did well at the box office, thank you, and the former got off to a flying start in the autumn, grossing an estimated £7.4 (US$11.9 million) in N. America and £8.5m (US13.7m) Worldwide in its first month of release. Meanwhile revenue for the latter has had a new lease of life with its British/US re-release to coincide with the theatre premiere of the former.
          If you are not an SF/F film buff but do like science fiction and fantasy – and given that Hugo voters all but ignored Let The Right One In [Låt Den Rätte Komma In], then there are a lot of you in fandom out there in this camp – this is what the fuss is all about...   Let The Right One In [Låt Den Rätte Komma In is a vampire film that came out in Sweden in 2008 and is based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist (who also wrote the screenplay). It soon garnered many awards (including recently the British Fantasy Awards): indeed with its British Isles/US DVD and theatre release (subtitles) in 2009 (there had only been closed screen showings in UK/US film fests before then) we cited it spring 2010 as best SF/F films of 2009. What the film is, is a fresh take on vampire-human relationships with a young bullied boy befriended by a (seemingly) young new neighbour who it soon transpires is in fact a vampire.   This is not a sickly-sweet tale for teenagers (such as Twilight), nor a comedy horror (such as Buffy) but a portrayal that develops the traditional vampire myth. Now, aside from the Hugos, the film got claim from virtually everywhere else: fantastic film fests, fantasycons and even mainstream Cannes!
          Clearly there was money in this film but the US film industry believes its audience is not capable of enjoying subtitled films let alone slightly ponderous European productions. So it was hardly a surprise that as Let The Right One In [Låt Den Rätte Komma In] was released in N. America there were plans for a US re-make. This turned out to be Let Me In (2010, US) and though this film's location was switched from Sweden (with its long-night winters) to New Mexico (US), which admittedly does have its Rocky Mountains, the re-makes saving grace may be that the production studio used was Britain's Hammer films. So what was the result and how do the films compare?
          Surprisingly both Let Me In and Let The Right One In [Låt Den Rätte Komma In] complement each other rather well. The European original is (as you might expect) more atmospheric, and the latter is a little more faster-paced. Yet unlike other film versions of novels (I am Legend being the obvious example with its The Omega Man and its other film versions) both the film versions of Lindqvist's novel are clearly based on the same story. And while the two films are not the same shot-for-shot, they do have nearly all the same elements. Perhaps the best judge is John Ajvide Lindqvist himself, for though he did not do the screenplay for the US he is reported as saying : "I might just be the luckiest writer alive. To have not only one, but two excellent versions of my debut novel done for the screen feels unreal." Aside from Hammer we also have to thank Matt (Cloverfield) Reeves who directed and did the screenplay for the US version and whom reportedly did not bow to US producer pressure to change the story but did get in touch with the original's author/screenwriter.   So there you have it. As far as the Worldcon Hugo voters are concerned you may want to check this one out if only to see what the rest of the SF/F and fantastic film communities (as well as mainstream critics) have been banging on about. Though, as with anything that has had so much grassroots hype, do not build your hopes up. These are just films we are talking about, even if they are head and shoulders above the herd.
          The DVD/Blu-Ray of Let Me In is scheduled for release on February 2010. As said, the DVD/Blu-Ray of Let The Right One In [Låt Den Rätte Komma In] is already out but the price has come down and is now a more respectable £4.49.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: part 1 launch week breaks five British box office records: the biggest Friday, Saturday and Sunday openings in the UK to date; the record for the biggest three-day opening, and the biggest single day in ticket sales. The film made £18.3m over the three-day weekend, taking £5.9m on Friday, £6.6m on Saturday and £5.7 on Sunday. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire held the previous records for biggest single day and the biggest Saturday with £5.6m and the biggest Sunday with £5.2m.   Given that many Hugo voters seem to be Hollywood fixated, this could well be short-listed and so we have (perhaps a little reluctantly) included it our list of best Films of 2010.

So is it a new Alien film or films? The Hollywood buzz, we previously reported, is still flying. The latest seems to be that the studio, 20th Century Fox, is certainly up for a film but that creator and director of the original Alien wants to do at least two.  Our guess is that the studio will confirm one and then see how that goes before committing to more.

Buffy the Vampire 2nd film remake attempt. Yes, it is true. No doubt the fact that the Twilight films and Sookie Stackhouse books (see Dead Until Dark and Dead and Gone) and TV series have been so popular that there would be an attempt to bring back Buffy to the big screen. Of course the original Buffy film was utter rubbish, but Jos Whedon's TV series hit the proverbial nail on the head. There was, a couple of years ago, a previous (failed) attempt to capitalise on the TV show's success bringing it to the big screen, so this latest attempt may, or may not work. What is known is that Jos Whedon was not invited to be involved in this big screen venture and he is a bit upset. Warner Brothers are behind this latest attempt and there are hints that this may be set in a time just after Buffy left school…

Batman Live World Arena Tour. OK, so this is really theatre, but Batman film fans should like this too. Premiering in the UK in the summer (2011), Batman Live – World Arena Tour is a large-scale stage production featuring stunts, acrobats and illusions as Batman and Robin tackle the Joker, The Riddler, Catwoman and The Penguin. Two-Face and Harley Quinn are in on the action for good measure. The show is more for families but the story has been written by written by Alan Burnett (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm) and Stan Berkowitz (Superman/Batman: Public Enemies). The premiere run begins in: Manchester 20th – 24th July; Newcastle upon Tyne 27th – 31st July; Glasgow 3rd – 7th August at the SECC; Sheffield Arena 10th – 14th August; Birmingham 17th – 21st August; the London O2 Arena 24th August – 4th September; Liverpool 7th – 11th September; Nottingham 14th – 18th September 2010; Dublin 28th September – 1st October; and Belfast 5th – 8th October 2011.

The Hobbit films are now to be made in New Zealand. Of course this was the original plan, but a newly merged Australian-NZ actors union had a reasonable demand to have collective negotiating rights as to terms but, arguably, went about it in a heavy handed way. The result was that Warners (the firm producing the films) began to consider shifting production to another country (for a while Britain was in the running). However the NZ government stepped in and changed the NZ law (so removing some union rights) and then to secure the deal offered Warners an extra NZ$10m (£6m) in tax relief and a NZ$13m (£7.8m) top-up to the films' publicity budget that would also promote New Zealand's role in the making of the film. New Zealand is thought to gain the order of £1 billion in employment for its film-making industry plus tourism benefits. There are critics of the deal and one wag reportedly said "if Roman Polanski wanted to make a film in New Zealand, the government would be more than happy to lower the age of consent to 13". Conversely, if the Government had not stepped in and The Hobbit production was relocated, then it is likely that some film makers would no longer consider NZ as a suitable home for production.

Alien invasions continue in March with World Invasion: Battle LA . It is billed as a cross between Independence Day, War of the Worlds, Aliens and Black Hawk Down. It stars Aaron Eckhart as a marine squad leader and Michelle Rodriguez as an Air Force sergeant. See the trailer at

Martin Sheen to play Uncle Ben in next Spiderman. The new Spiderman, which begins shooting next month, will be directed by Marc Webb ([500] Days of Summer) from a script by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac). It is thought the villain will be The Lizard. (See last time for further information on the forthcoming film.

X-Men: First Class plot set-up revealed. It charts the beginning of the X-Men saga, before mutants had revealed themselves to the world, and before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto. Then they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Not archenemies, they were instead at first the closest of friends, working together with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop Armageddon. In the process, a grave rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.

X-Files 3 script being written. Matters are still up in the air as 2008's The X-Files: I Want to Believe only grossed £13m (US$20.8m). The problem with the last film is considered to be that it strayed from government conspiracies and the new script will be closer to X-Files' roots.

Syfy Films is a new company set up by Syfy cable television (formerly Sci Fi Channel) and Universal to produce and distribute two SF films a year. At the moment we have no information on what sort of SF/F they propose to make.

George Lucas to release Star Wars in 3D. Having ruined the first trilogy with a lame second one, this 3D move is Lucas latest milking of what was a promising space-opera epic. 'Nuff said.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!: Monsters is the latest British SF film that came out before Christmas. Some years after a probe has returned to Earth with a sample of alien life, the southeast US has been taken over and declared a quarantine zone. Victims of a crime, our protagonists find themselves in middle America who are trying to get home, though that involves entering the quarantine zone. Some trade critics have made loose comparisons of this film with District 9: others, arguably more realistically with Cloverfield. However, in addition, for SF fans there are vague resonances with Stalker (Roadside Picnic).   Anyway, see the video clip here.

Film clip download tip!: Interested in the science behind Monsters? Here, Monsters writer and director Gareth Edwards and, separately, exobiologist Lewis Dartnell (with whom our Jonathan last year did a London West End exobiology session) talk about the thinking and relevant exobiology behind the film. See the video clip here.

Film clip download tip!: Source Code is a new action SF film due out this Spring from Moon director Duncan Jones. It concerns a soldier whose mission includes Sheckley-like body swaps.   See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Aliens & Cowboys is a new action SF film due out this Summer from Iron Man director Jon Favreau. Starring Daniel Craig, Sam Rockwell and Harrison Ford, it sees the wild west have a close encounter.   See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Orson Scot Card Ender's Game fan trailer gets attention.   See the video here.

Film clip download tip!: Darth Vader promotes mobile phones in Japan.   See the video clip here.

Film clip download tip!: Endhiran is the latest Indian SF film. Think of a Bollywood take of a 'Terminator' cum 'RoboCop' type superhero. .   See the trailer here.

Want more? See last season's video clip recommendations here.

For a reminder of the top films in 2009/10 (and earlier years) then check out our top Science Fiction Films annual chart. This page is based on the weekly UK box office ratings over the past year up to Easter. You can use this page if you are stuck for ideas hiring a DVD for the weekend.

For a forward look as to film releases of 2011 see our film release diary.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


Quercus is to start an SF imprint. The new SF imprint will be called Jo Fletcher Books and Jo has left Orion to take this new imprint forward. All this has taken the British SF book scene by somewhat of a surprise, especially as publisher Orion's Gollancz has such a reputation as one of the British Isles leading SF imprints: Jo was for 16 years an editor for Gollancz. However this is only 'somewhat' of a surprise as Quercus itself was founded in 2004 by two former Orion staff members: so there is previous form here. Quercus was the fastest-growing British Isles mass-market trade publisher in 2009 with sales rising 133%, making it the 18th largest publisher with a mass market share of 0.7%.

H&H Books is a new SF & fantasy e-book publishing company works to benefit a number of charitable causes. Created by Scott Harrison and editor Lee Harris, H&H is a non-profit venture to benefit a number of charitable causes.  The company’s first project is an anthology of flash fiction, entitled Voices from the Past that sees 100% of proceeds going to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital (London). Over twenty authors have already pledged their support, including Alastair Reynolds, Paul Magrs, Jasper Fforde and Paul Cornell. Voices from the Past will be published in April 2011 and sold for just 59p or US$0.99.  All books will be available as e-Books via Kindle, iBooks, Sony Bookstore and elsewhere. Further details at

'Nano Editions' of digital short stories has been launched by Angry Robot. Most Nanos will be in the 5,000 – 15,000 word range. Shorter works than that will be automatically bundled with another story to ensure value for money. Stories cost just 59p each (approximately US $0.95). Readers can bundle a collection of any 10 by any combination of authors, for only £3.49 (US$5.59). The files will be DRM-free and available worldwide. Authors included Dan Abnett, Kaaron Warren and Aliette de Bodard. 30 Nanos were available at the December 1st launch and more are being added at regular intervals. Visit

Angry Robot open to new authors for March 2011 only! In common with most serious publishers these days, proposals from would-be authors usually have to come to Angry Robot through a professional agent (part of agents' work is only to take on promising authors so to free up publishers from slush-pile duty). However in March 2011 Angry Robot will have an open month and consider book proposals directly from unpublished science fiction and fantasy authors without the need for an agent. For details see

'Infinity Plus' e-book publishing imprint launched. Infinity Plus was a webzine for short SF stories that after 10 years closed in 2007. (Robust business models for professional stories on the web are difficult to devise.) However it had attracted some quality writers and, with Solaris, a hard copy paperback anthology of shorts had been produced. Now the infinity plus e-book imprint launches with six titles. These include: The Angels of Life and Death by Eric Brown, a new collection of short fiction; and the collected short fiction of Keith Brooke, in five volumes (Liberty Spin, Embrace, Faking It, Segue and Memesis). Each book is available in the Kindle e-book format, priced £2.18 or US$3.44. Kindle e-books can also be read on PCs, Macs, smart phones and other devices. Soon to follow will be books from Eric Brown, John Grant, Anna Tambour, Molly Brown, and Garry Kilworth. Infinity Plus remains online as an archive and with information about the new imprint at

Pyr publishes its 100th title and offers free exclusive ePub novelette in celebration. Pyr has published its one-hundredth title, The Wolf Age by James Enge. The Wolf Age is the third novel to feature Enge’s character Morlock Ambrosius, a wandering swordsman, an exile, and a drunk. Blood of Ambrose, Enge’s first Morlock novel, was on the Locus Recommended Reading list and a World Fantasy Award nominee for 'Best Novel'. In honour of the growing Morlock fan base, and to commemorate The Wolf Age’s status as Pyr’s one-hundredth title, Pyr has issued a free, exclusive, e-Pub novelette called 'Travellers' Rest'. It is available on the Pyr website,, as a free download in ePub format and will also be available via Kindle.

British films and SF Book's studio and an SF book imprint join for film novelisations. Hammer Films (recently re-launched) and Arrow Books (part of Random House) has announced a partnership with Hammer to publish novelisations of new and classic films, plus original novellas by authors 'whose oeuvre does not necessarily encompass the horror genre'.

British public library threat grows. Further to last time's UK library news it now seems that local government are considering whether or not to close 1,000 libraries across Britain and some 330 are consider to be at serious risk. The total number of pubic libraries in the UK is some 4,500. Local governmental authorities (local councils) are legally obliged under the Public Libraries and Museums Act (1964) to provide a 'comprehensive' public library service. Culture Minister Ed Vaisey is reported as saying that they also must be efficient. However even if there were only two libraries in the UK one would always be less efficient than the other and so by this argument politicians can keep chopping the service to almost nothing.  Among the authorities considering the most extreme cuts are: Croydon who are contemplating cutting 6 out of 12 libraries; Conway up to 7 out of 12; Northamptonshire 8 out of 38. Meanwhile Gloucestershire Council is reported as considering cutting its library budget by 43%, which could mean the closure of 23 out of 48 libraries! Libraries are considered a soft touch by many Councils who face having to make around 8% overall cuts to their budget but the counter-argument is that cuts of 10% to 50% are simply disproportionate. Furthermore library cuts run counter to Government's policy of encouraging an added-value, knowledge-based economy.

Ireland book trade hit by recession. In the autumn we reported that the British Isles book trade was down 5.5% first half of 2010 compared to first half of 2009. Now, as much of the mass market book trade in Southern Ireland is dominated by UK (Great Britain and N. Ireland) publishers this was broadly accurate. But Ireland does have customers and sales as well as some of its own publishing houses. Figures suggest that in 2010 trade was down in Ireland (excluding N. Ireland) by over 16% compared to 2009 both in cash value (to €103 million) as well as quantity of books terms.

The Frankfurt Book fayre grows despite recession. Stalls were unexpectedly up from 7,400 to 7,533. Argentina was this year's guest. Next year's is Iceland.

British Bookshop chain expands by 30%. Bucking the trend in bookshop closures, the chain British Bookshops now have 51 stores up from 30% from 39.

Kindly upsets publishers with poor territorial control. In the print book world publishers get rights to print certain countries. All well and good, but electronic books can get around this. Kindle has come under fire for its territorial controls being on the verge of non-existent. For example, a Brit entering a genuine US postal address but using a credit card linked to a UK address can order US editions. Amazon – who own Kindle – do not seem to care as to them a sale is a sale.

Science Fiction special edition of The Bookseller due in May. The SF and graphic novel special edition will be out 13th May.

More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in April 2011. Meanwhile check out the forthcoming SF and forthcoming fantasy book lists sections (see the mini-index immediately below…).


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


Russia's first home-grown SF television series gets second season. Since 1990 (the so-called fall of communism) Russia has produced a number of SF/F films. Now, the autumn saw Russia's first SFnal series, The Tower. Its central premise concerns a disparate group trapped in an ultra-modern tower following a mysterious explosion. The group cannot get out. In the group there is a scientist who was to deliver a revolutionary physics paper in the building, a materialistic businessman, a security guard, someone who was going for a job interview, and so forth. In addition, there is the mysterious girl –Splinter – who keeps on appearing and then going away but seems to have access to pizza.   One of the scriptwriters was well-known SF writer Alexander Bachilo.  Season two will be screened later in 2011.

Stalker to be a TV series. Boris and Arkady Strugatski brothers' novel Roadside Picnic, inspired Andrei Tarkovsky's film Stalker (1979), which in turn inspired the Ukrainian computer game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.. And now it looks like this last may well inspire a Russian/Ukrainian TV series…

The Walking Dead gets 2nd series go-ahead after just two episodes! AMC wants a 13-episode second season for the new series whose first two episodes have had excellent ratings with more 18-49-year-old viewers than anything else on US cable, and of course the original graphic novels recently picked up an Eisner.

Stargate Universe cancelled. The final 10 remaining episodes will be aired this year (2011). The original Stargate TV series began in 1997 (spun off from the 1994 feature film). Stargate Universebegan in October 2009 with 2.5 million viewers in N. America but season 2 has seen a fall to around a million.

Dr Who will live on! Now, die hard fans have known that the 13th Dr Who should be the last. It was revealed in a 1976 Doctor Who episode, 'The Deadly Assassin' (with Tom Baker as the Doctor in his fourth incarnation) that the Doctor can only regenerate 13 times. In that story, the Master is dying and unable to regenerate because he has used his last regeneration. The Master plans to steal energy from the 'Eye of Harmony' to give himself a new cycle of 12 regenerations, and so, dearly beloved, the limit of regenerations was born. But now that we are on the 11th Doctor with Matt Smith, the end is nigh for the Beeb Beeb Ceeb's lucrative franchise. The answer was to have a retcon (retro-conceive) the concept. And so no longer is there this limit as has been revealed in series 4 of the CBBC (Children's BBC) spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures. This younger-children's series stars former companion Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. Matt Smith (no relation), who plays the current (11th) Doctor Who, guest-starred in a two-part episode called 'The Death of the Doctor,' that was screened on 25th and 26th October (2010>. While the Doctor and Clyde Langer (played by Daniel Anthony) are in the process of escaping vulture-like undertakers the Shansheeth, Clyde asks how many times he can regenerate? The Doctor says 507 times. Well this retcon should be enough for many series to come…

Torchwood: The New World filming starts. The fourth series of the Doctor Who spin-off is being co-produced by the BBC and the American broadcaster Starz and will be 10 episodes long. The new season will pick up two years after the events in Torchwood: Children of the Earth with Torchwood without government support. A summer broadcast is expected.

New Spawn to be for adults only. The original animated Spawn ran on HBO between 1997 and 1999, during which it won an Emmy for Outstanding Animation Programme while also filled with swearing, violence and sex. According to MTV, the show's Todd McFarlane is adamant that the series will 'absolutely' be for mature audiences only. He explained, "We're going to a cable network, and that's their bread and butter. ...They want stuff that isn't what you can find on ABC, NBC and CBS. They've covered that field. We have now an area where we can actually do shows that get a little grittier, a little darker, a little more risqué."


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


Zilantkon -- The 20th International Festival of Fantasy and Role-Playing Games(RPG), as our Eastern European and Sov Bloc regulars will know, is Russia's equivalent of the World FantasyCon and is held in Kazan (which is 450 miles east of Moscow). This year's (2010) event was held in November attracting some 1,500 from more than 200 cities, in Russia, the CIS and other foreign countries. Among many fantasy notables present were including GoHs Yevgeny Lukin, Andrew Valentine, and Leonid Kudryavtsev. Unlike the largely N. American World FantasyCon or the SF Worldcon where the award ceremonies are held on the last or penultimate day, the International Festival of Fantasy and RPG presents its award as part of the opening ceremony (see here for this year's Zilant winners). The surprise this year was not an award for one Big and one Little Zilants, but two Big Zilants. The con was divided into five main areas: Sword duelling, battle re-enactment, music/poetry, and (at the university area) panels and interviews about fantasy literature, but there were three other support programme tracks too. Because this year was Zilantkon's 20th anniversary, the con had the theme "Between Past and Future: 20 Years Later". Of course the marked difference between Zilantkon now and when it started was that back in 1990 (with the fall of communism) there were roughly 100 attending: today it is more like 1,500.   One healthy sign, which those attending Zilantkon's western Fanstasycon and SF Worldcon counterparts might be envious, is that the 20th International Festival of Fantasy showed a fairly equal spread of age range with plenty of young blood around who may well help keep the event going for another 20 years.

2011 SF Worldcon – Renovation: Progress Report 2 is out and subsequently PR3 has just come out. PR2 contains information on the convention's new Guest of Honour, Bill Willingham. Bill is best known for his creation of Fables (see Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days), Fables: Homelands, Fables: The Mean Seasons and Fables: Storybook Love), the award-winning urban fantasy series about folkloric characters exiled from their homelands to the mundane world. PR2 also had a profile of Renovation's Ghost of Honour, Charles Brown.   October saw Renovation's full single membership rate go up from US$160 to US$180 (kids under 16 US$25 and under six years old free).  PR2 also had information on facilities and an eminently sensible smoking policy that caters for all, both non-smokers and smokers and even in the Courtyard Hotel zero-tolerance non-smokers who disdain weed partaking even if not in the same room: everyone should be happy.   The two main hotels – the Atlantis (across the way from the conference centre) and Peppermill (extravaganza venue) – are two-thirds of a mile (15 minutes walk) apart and the con will be running a regular shuttle for those not wishing to burn calories.  Those with ideas for the programme should check the Renovation website and fill in the form as soon as possible. PR3 came out on the cusp of 2010/11 and has more information about hotels, including booking information and suite rates. Hotel bookings and suite bookings will be opening in early 2011. Attending rates are likely to go up once more before the con (and of course be very high on the door).

Hugo Award nominations for 2011 are now open. Nominations are sought for a variety of categories of the Hugo 'SF achievement' Awards for novels, novellas, best film (dramatic presentation long form) and TV (short form) among other categories for works that came out in 2010. (Check out our above thoughts on the best science fiction books and best science fiction films to appear in the British Isles in 2010.)  The Hugo Awards are one of the major awards for (in practice) English-language science fiction. The Hugos were first awarded at the 1953 World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia (Philcon II), and they have continued to honour science fiction and fantasy notables for nearly 60 years since.  Nomination ballots will be accepted from 1st January to 26th March 2011, 23:59 PDT for the Hugo Awards and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Members of Renovation – the 2011 Worldcon who join by 31st January 2011, and all members of Aussiecon 4, the prior year's Worldcon, are invited to submit nominating ballots. +++ Links to current Worldcon websites for more information can be found from the World SF Society on or on our diary page.

London Worldcon 2014 bid marks its European card regarding Eurocons. Back in last autumn we noted the importance of the 2014 London Worldcon bid identifying its proposed relationship to the Eurocon: the last two British Worldcons 1995 and 2005 were both Eurocons, but the previous three to that were not. In short, there is no reason for a British Worldcon to be a Eurocon unless it really wants to push the European dimension in a big way. However the European SF Society (ESFS) who (as the World SF Society does for Worldcons) oversee Eurocons needs to know at least a year in advance of the 2014 site vote (to be held in 2012) whether or not it intends to bid to be a Eurocon: if it did then other potential bids would probably not stand; if it did not then they would.   And so it was particularly welcome when in October (2010) the London 2014 bid folk announced their ESFS intentions. Their statement said:

"Having seen the increase in European participation at the last two UK Worldcons, the London in 2014 bid is confident that we can continue that trend independently of having Eurocon status. We therefore support the idea of a separate Eurocon in 2014, able to give full prominence to European science fiction endeavours and achievement. If we win the Worldcon bid we will be happy to work to promote participation in science fiction across Europe with whoever wins the Eurocon bids for 2013 and 2014. We may also in due course apply for Euroconference status for the London convention."

This statement is most helpful and lets potential 2014 Eurocon bids to organise themselves for the 2012 bid vote in Zagreb, Croatia, for 2014.   Meanwhile from SF2 Concatenation's perspective, we hope that all the Eurocons leading up to the 2014 London Worldcon (assuming it itself wins its site selection vote in 2012) will work with the London Worldcon team with internet link exchanges and contra publicity arrangements such as adverts in 2014 Worldcon Progress Reports in exchange for adverts in Eurocon programme books. Whatever happens, just as Australasia was the place to be last year (2010), Europe looks like being where the action will be in 2014.

Elsewhere this issue (vol 21 (1) Spring 2011) we have:-
          A 2010 Worldcon Review of Aussiecon 4 in Australia
          2010 World Horror Convention Review: Great Britain.

Links to Worldcon websites can be found from the World SF Society on

For links to Worldcon bid websites check out - - the Worldcon bid page as well as our convention diary.


Meanwhile over in Europe…

Eurocon video memories now available. The European SF Society website now has a page of videos. Well worth checking out if you are a Eurocon regular. +++ Meanwhile there is related news below from Roberto of a new convention video clip channel.

The European Science Fiction Convention (Eurocon) in 2011 (as previously reported) will be held in Stockholm, Sweden's capital, 17th – 19th June 2011 and will be Sweden's national convention (Swecon). The latest news is that there are details as to hotel accommodation now up on its website (see our diary page for the link if you are reading this in 2010. The principal Guests of Honour will be Elizabeth Bear and Ian McDonald. See previous Eurocon 2011 news for more information and we hope to have far more of an update in the Spring.  Remember to arrive a day in advance as the evening before the convention sees a pre-convention social gathering! And of course it goes without saying that Stockholm is a wonderful capital city.

The European Science Fiction Convention (Eurocon) in 2012 (as previously reported) will be held in Zagreb, Croatia 26th – 29th April 2012. The venue will be the usual one for Croatia's natcon, SFeraKon, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing of the Zagreb University. This is a 30-minute walk from the city centre, or 15 minutes by public transport, allows delegates to enjoy Zagreb as well – its 'Mitteleuropa' architecture and a relaxed street side cafe culture. They are planning varied programming with parallel programme tracks and at least one programme item in English at all times, but the intention is to have most of the programming in English since there will be little need for translation into Croatian. The lectures and panel discussions will be centred on (but not limited to) SF literature and popular science. There will be at least one stream of film programme, a traditional book fayre (with titles in English as well), and a SF club's 'fayre' (different societies and clubs presenting their work). Saturday evening is reserved for the Award ceremony. There will also be a less formal but equally important part of the convention with: quizzes, workshops, gaming tournaments, auctions, debates, costume competitions, different kinds of games.
          The 2012 Eurocon will be called 'Kontakt'. and will also be the 34th SFeraKon, the largest and oldest Croatian convention. It will be called Kontakt because there is relatively little contact with fandom in the rest of Europe.
          Two kinds of memberships are available: a three day membership and a four day membership, which will include a collection of translated SF stories by Croatian authors, a guided tour of Zagreb with a licensed guide and airport transfer to the city centre. The membership rates are 12.5€/21€ (three/four days) until 9th of May2011. (The difference between the three and four-day rate covers the cost of translation and printing for the English language story collection. Concatenation recommends that visitors to Croatia go for the higher membership rate.)
          The first Guest of Honour has been announced as Darko Macan, a Croatian author, editor and illustrator.
          The organisers are currently negotiating a discount with a four star hotel that is across the street from the convention venue (the regular price is 150€ for a double room), and two three star hotels that are a ten minute walk away (regular rate is 80€ for a double room). Also, they will try to pre-book all the available beds in a nearby hostel.
          Since the first Eurocon was held in Croatia in 1986, the Croatian fandom has changed immensely.  In 1986, there was just one SF club in Croatia, one convention, and one fanzine. Today, there are around ten SF clubs, seven yearly conventions, five fanzines / semi-prozines and several active web portals. The SF clubs have started non-for-profit publishing that has proven to be an important breeding ground for a whole new generation of young authors. There is now a new generation of convention organizers whose devoted efforts keep on attracting young membership. It is this enthusiasm and energy that the Croatians would like to share with other European fans at Eurocon 2012.

Elsewhere this issue (vol 21 (1) Spring 2011) we have:-
          A review of the 2010 European SF Convention in Poland / Czech Republic.

Links to current/forthcoming Eurocon websites can be found from the European SF Society on

For a list of national and major conventions, check out our convention diary.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


Great Britain's Fantasycon was held in Nottingham at the beginning of the autumn. Some 300 attended a single stream programme largely of panels and which included a Friday night Heavy Metal karaoke with Abaddon Books as well as a fiendish quiz in which everyone could participate with table teams. There were GoH talks and interviews; the GoHs being Garry Kilworth, Lisa Tuttle and Bryan Talbot. Bryan's (being a comics artist and graphic novelist) was particularly well received (talked about after) and was on the tradition of depicting anthropomorphic animals in artwork. This went from seventeenth-century political cartoons, through Korky the Cat and Rupert Bear, to Boneand his own latest works Grandville and the forthcoming Grandville: Mon Amour. However the single stream did not afford choice and there were the numbers to support at least two streams even if three might have been pushing it a little. The dealers room saw reasonably brisk trade despite the recession. Then there was the banquet (with free Gollancz books) which preceded one of the conventions regular high points the British Fantasy Awards. There was the Fantasycon raffle that this year raised £390 (US$590).   Next year, after five years in Nottingham, Fantasycon is moving to Brighton to the Albion Hotel which was the venue for last year's World Horror Convention. This means that those attending better not go to breakfast singly: the waiters there have an annoying, persisting habit of promptly whisking away any unattended plate as those who briefly left their table to get coffee or whatever soon found out: downright irritating after Saturday night festivities! Still, plenty of restaurants in Brighton.

Octocon, Ireland's national convention was held. As usual it was a lightly programmed (one and a bit streams) con, more of a relaxacon, but this year there was very much a fantasy feel to the event with George R. R. Martin as a very popular guest and as evident from other activities such as sword-fighting demonstrations. High points included: George R, R, Martin (obviously); Martina Pilcerova talk and presentation of her art, and another of film-maker John Vaughan's film clip talks (Vault of Horror). The latter seems to have taken over the role Phil Strick had at cons in the 1980s with presentations of clips of extreme and/or bad-so-they-are-funny, films. The Golden Blasters for short film Awards were also presented.

Ukraine's 12th annual Starbridge con was held back in September just after we posted last season's news in Kharkov, just inside the Ukraine 250 miles east of Kiev and 375 miles south of Moscow. This year's event attracted some 200 paying registrants (i.e excluding guests, committee and key gophers) and usual there was a good mix from both the Ukraine and Russia with a few from other Sov Bloc countries. Established authors present included Vadim Panov, Dmitry Kazakov, H. L. Oldie, Andrew Valentinov, Andrew Chernetsov, Lyudmila Astakhova and Yana Gorshkova. At the event the Starbridge Awards were presented.

The 21st Festival of Fantastic Films was held in Manchester. This coming-of-age landmark was one that Fest Founder Harry Nadler would have loved to see, though sadly not to be. The guest list was up to its usual high standard: Bert I. Gordon was quite frail but full of enthusiasm and spoke well and soon was popular with the crowd; Bert was there with his daughter Susan; Jane Merrow also hit it off, still beautiful, spoke with interest and was articulate: Francoise Pascal was an absolute peach in the '70s and it was interesting seeing her again and sharing some of her film experiences;. Stephen Volk, the Welsh scriptwriter based in L.A., was fun and interesting and definitely one to keep an eye out for; finally there was Horst Janson turned out to be a lovely guy – a regular Joe with no attitude, one of the boys who was interesting, funny and warm and all that you could want in a guest. As noted earlier awards were given.  As for the Fest itself, well there was a good range of films, but as regulars will know that some of the sparkle left with the death of Harry and this and that age really is taking its toll on the organisers means that all the little jobs that help pull in people simply are not being done. Of course, what is bad for the Fest as a collective does have a few plus opportunities for individuals. For example, with the numbers attending low, one soul managed to get a full copy of the working script for This Island Earth for £1. Unbelievable!   Now, we have covered the problem of one of the stalwarts not being prepared to pass on the torch to younger enthusiasts before and so do not intend to go into this again unless there is genuinely new news. However, the move away from the The Days Hotel (2009) back to Sachas (the Fest's former home of yore until the service went down) was not good and so apparently numerous small incidents at this year's event means that the Fest is back to the Days Hotel for 2011. +++ See also a separate detailed report of the 2010 Festival of Fantastic Films.

Birmingham's Novacon marked its 40th convention. Novacon is Britain's second longest running series of conventions. Beginning in 1971 (so next year will be the 40th anniversary though this year is the 40th event), Novacon is the convention of the Birmingham SF group and so has always been held in the W. Midlands. To mark the event, all living past GoHs were offered free memberships and so this year there was a particularly high number of authors present. In the mix were: Brian Aldiss (GoH), Iain Banks (GoH), Chris Evans, Geoff Ryman, Charles Stross, and Harry Harrison (GoH), the latter too frail to make it, did have a presence by pre-recorded video. Local scientists – Ian Stewart (mathematician) and Jack Cohen FIBiol -- were also there giving their thoughts on exobiology.

SF Utopiales once again held in Nantes, France. Again the four-day Utopiales had a decidedly international flavour. Reportedly some 40,000 attended the four-day event, much the same as last year sand again making the event one of the World's largest SF gatherings. Loads of the usual prizes were given out (see earlier in our awards items). In addition to SF film, SF books were also covered with many authors attending. Anglophone authors in the mix this year included: Ian McDonald (Great Britain), Peter Watts (Canada), and Larry Niven (US). As usual there was a posse of scientists (mainly French) on the programme. Recent films shown (all worth checking out) included: Hunter Prey (US, 2010); Earthling (US, 2010); Glenn 3948 (Belgium, 2010); Redline (Japan, 2010); King of Thorn (Japan, 2010); Cargo (Switzerland, 2009); Mars (US, 2010); and For the Good of Others (Spain, 2010). There were also several golden oldies screened.  We previously reported on last year's event.

Sci-Fi London 10 will this year be ten days long to mark its 10th anniversary. It will be held 23rd April - 2nd May '11 which does mean that it will clash with the British Eastercon / national convention. However, as this year's Eastercon is more book-orientated, smaller (about half the size of last year's Eastercon (2010)) and held outside of London, the two events are unlikely to affect each other, other that is, except for the Clarke awards which will be held mid-fest on the Wednesday (rather than at the Fest opening shindig).
          To mark Sci-Fi London's 10th anniversary there will be a special fancy dress parade of aliens, SF characters, monsters and zombies along London's South Bank. All those with a yen to dress up in exotic garb (or dress down in post-apocalyptic fashion) are most welcome to participate and should check out the Sci-Fi London website (see our convention diary page for the link).
          Easter Monday will hopefully see a combined out-and-about in the real world of London with an on-line game for all who have internet-connectable mobile phones.
          Those keen on matters relating to the Monarch (Gawd bless her) will be aware that this year's fest straddles the Royal wedding. Those wishing to mark this in true SFnal style can attend Sci_Fi London's all-nighter clutch of films, which will have the theme of marriage. The films for this have not been decided at the time of compiling this news page but we understand that I Married a Monster From Outer Space and the Hugo winning The Princess Bride are all-nighter candidates. Attending this is a serious option for those wishing to come to London for the Royal wedding itself as the all-nighter film session will be a lot cheaper than staying in a London hotel (which will all be fully booked and over-priced due to the wedding anyway).
          This year's guest country will be Italy. As is evident from spaghetti westerns, Italy has a thriving film industry and there are some cracking SF offerings to be had from that country.   Of course there will be the usual extras, and those going to see a film are also invited free to the pub quiz and have a complementary beer / wine. Don't forget that as you pay per film viewed if there is a gap between those you want to see, that there is much to do in central London with Forbidden Planet SF boshop 20 minutes walk away, and the Captain's Cabbn pub (with pub food) three minutes walk due east.   Remember, no one outside of Manchester projects photons like the brave souls at Sci-Fi London.

Australian national convention plans 50th anniversary. Swancon 36:50's plans for its 36th Western Australia regional con cum 50th natcon include a half-century natcon celebration. At the centrepiece will be a book. They are currently seeking to compile Natcon’s history and want photos, stories, programme booklets (presumably scanned covers and digitised content). Those with Flickr accounts and Technorati registered blogs are encouraged to use the tag 'Natcon50' as well as e-mail contributions to natcon50 [-at-] gmail [-dot-] com.

Outreach Initiative invites comics and media fans to Read a book. WonderCon, a celebration of comics and media, is held annually in April in San Francisco, attracting some 34,000 people but few read SF books. A group of fans affiliated with the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) have booked two booths and plan to give away six pallets of SF/F books. Each book given away will contain a bookmark listing upcoming Worldcons and other conventions.
          And now here is the appeal. Publishers: If you are an SF/F publisher and are willing to donate new books to this cause (and expand your market by encouraging new readers) then contact sfoutreach [-at-]   Fans: Many fans have often contemplated a trimming of their book collections. So don't just recycle your books -- donate them to this project so they can encourage potentially new SF fans!   The team will be carrying out book drives at area conventions, beginning with Loscon in late November. The venture includes conrunners involved in Renovation, Chicon 7 and London 2014.

Ukrainian SF moves to unify. At the moment there is no single organization in the Ukraine that brings together all those with an interest in science fiction, fantasy and horror. Now there is a move to create one. VOLF, it is envisaged, will have both individual members as well as institutional ones. It will have a role somewhat akin to that of the BSFA in Britain and the SFCD in Germany. Concatenation understands that a constitution is being developed and that it is hoped that VOLF will run SF achievement awards much like the BSFA awards, and perhaps even another award for Ukrainian professional a bit like the Nebula in the US.   It remains to be seen – assuming preparations go well – whether VOLF will launch in 2011 or 2012.

New convention video clip channel. Roberto Quaglia has created a channel on YouTube for his many (some quite historic) video clips taken at European SF conventions. See +++ Meanwhile, in case you missed it, there is related news of Eurocon video memories earlier on.

Student SF/F fancy dress convention at Surrey University. 12th – 13th February (2011 sees a two-day con at Surrey for students involving a number of societies. No GoH or other usual SF/F details available at time of posting. Student card required. If you are not a student they do have a limited number of non-student places given on a 1’st come 1’st served basis. Costs £4 in advance or £5 on door. Details at

Elsewhere this issue (vol 21 (1) Spring 2011) we have:-
          20th Festival of Fantastic Films 2010.

For a list of national and major conventions and their web links check out our convention diary.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


The Australian Bullsheet has entered indefinite hiatus. The site has provided a monthly bulletin summarising Australian SF news for over 8 years and as such has been a very useful window on Australian fandom. Edwina Harvey (editor) and Ted Scribner (webmaster) have decided to have an indefinite rest due to growing commitments and, with the Australian Worldcon in August looming, decided that that was the time to call it a day. Though they have asked whether anyone wants to take over for the interim, it does rather look there will be a bit of an Australian shaped bullsheet gap in the internet for (we hope only) a while. The Australian Bullsheet will be particularly missed by those of us at Concatenation as we had good editorial liaison that facilitated our respective news coverage perspectives from opposite parts of the globe. We wish both Edwina and Ted well and hope that at some stage they will feel their batteries recharged and will want to resurrect their constructive and helpful fannish contribution.

WikiLeaks -- the website that leaks information in the public interest highlighting political weakness, immorality and fraud – has been under cyber attack and its founder accused of non-related crimes (sex allegations). Having posted leaked information that reveals what diplomats and politicians think of each other, WikiLeaks has come under heavy pressure. The 'secrets' leaked were not at all surprising and included: how US diplomats and politicians are bemused by British politicians' obsession with the so-called Anglo-US 'special' relationship; that the president of the European Council does not believe that the Cancún 2010 climate talks would be any more successful than the Copenhagen 2009 talks; how the US State Department sought information from the CIA for leverage in climate negotiations; that Prince Andrew was outspoken; and how Libya's Gaddafi, allegedly upset at not being allowed to pitch a tent outside the UN, was prepared to leave enriched uranium with low-level security (hence open to theft).   And so in November and December WikiLeaks came under sustained cyberattack forcing it to have to repeatedly change internet service providers. Meanwhile its founder, Julian Assange, was repeatedly accused of unlawful molestation and coercion and arrested.  Also other cyber attacks (presumably by supporters of WikiLeaks) have been made against Visa, PayPal, Mastercard and other companies who have withdrawn their services processing donations to WikiLieaks following US governmental 'advice' that they could be charged with aiding criminal activity.
          On one hand the case against WikiLeaks is that it is releasing sensitive material that could undermine diplomacy and even expose some assisting civilians in war zones to risk of kidnap and death.  Conversely, the case for WikiLeaks is that it assists democracy and freedom of information as well as expose where leaks might already have covertly happened.
While it is known that Sweden has issued arrest warrants (surprisingly to little effect), and that countries such as the US and France have called for steps to shut WikiLeaks cown, the source of the cyberattacks remains unknown. +++ The first sustained and major cyber attack allegedly by authorities was the 2007 cyberattack on Estonia.

Dark Matter is a new SF genzine from Australia freely available electronically from It aims to cover a range of SF topics both relating to the Australian SF scene and that of further afield. Publication is roughly quarterly and issue 1 sports 56 pages. Contents include: news of the Iron Sky film and the V re-boot; convention reports from Monash's Utopias, and three Aussiecon reviews; Australian SF society information; 8 book reviews; and a healthy section on films. Issues are also available on request from darkmatterfanzine [-at-] in PDF format.

First French SF fiction website launched. Death Angle. The site aims to give subscribers new French fiction every month for € 2.99 (£3.50). See

Internova is a new SF zine from Germany. It aims to provide SF/F stories from around the World. InterNova is intended be a showcase of contemporary SF writing in all those countries that are generally neglected by the Anglo-American centred SF markets. American and British writers will not be excluded but the main intention is to feature stories and essays by writers who are rarely published outside their home countries. It will try to be as international as possible, advancing our editorial work into countries and areas that are rarely associated with Science Fiction. To make InterNova available for readers in as many countries as possible this e-zine is published in English, which has become the lingua franca of the international SF community. Check it out at

Issues of Phlogiston, the New Zealand fanzine, published between 1984 and 1996 are now being made available from E-Fanzines. Phlogiston was a semi-regular fanzine putting out 43 issues across 12 years with articles and fiction. There are also author interviews including with: Joe Haldeman, Larry Niven, Dan Simmons, Roger Zelazny, Jane Lindskold. Issues one to six from April 1984 to August 1985 are available in PDF format, more will be uploaded on a regular schedule.

Clarkesworld editor resigns. Sean Wallace has stepped down owing to family commitments. He and his wife Jennifer now have twin girls.



Virgin launches i-Pad-only magazine called Project. It is a monthly style and culture publication that will be sold through Apple App Store. Project also has video, sound and links to supplement features pieces, and will cost £1.79 (US$2.99).

Ultraviolet is the forthcoming system that will give you the right to watch a film you bought on your PC, smart-phone, DVD player, tablet, etc., without having to buy a licence for each. The way it will work is that you or your household sets up an Ultraviolet account and then register each of your own devices you use to watch films. You can then buy a film, downloading it from the Ultraviolet library (or rather you account within the library), and you will legally be allowed to view it on any of these devices without any extra cost. A household is defined as for up to six people with twelve devices. Beta testing has started and a public roll-out is expected later this year.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011



Anti-matter created and held! (Briefly). European scientists at CERN, have created and held 38 anti-hydrogen atoms in place for a fraction of a second. Anti-matter was first created in 2002, but now it has been trapped, albeit briefly for a sixth of a second. While trapping of charged normal atoms can be done with electric or magnetic fields, trapping anti-hydrogen atoms in this hands-off way requires a very special type of field. Atoms are neutral - they have no net charge - but they have a little magnetic character. The other trick is to ensure that te atoms are not moving fast in the first place. +++ See Roz Kaveney's take on this below in our science and SF interface subsection.

British science cut to help UK budget deficit. The Government has made much play that the Britain's 'Science Base' has been spared the cuts other areas of Government spend have had to endure. True, the Science Base budget has been frozen in cash terms for the next few years, but first thing to note is that this represents real-term cuts as inflation kicks in with time. It will mean that it will be hard to fund actual research budgets as costs to maintain infrastructure (labs and so forth) – about 20% of the Science Base – will rise with inflation, as will Britain's subscriptions to international research projects (like CERN) and agencies (like ESA) as there will be less to pay actual scientists.   The second thing to note is that the 'Science Base' is actually a science policy term that refers to Research Council spend: these are the bodies that decide on who gets what funding covering biology, medicine, physics, engineering and so forth. It does not include government Department (Ministry) research budgets (that relate to things like environment, industry, agriculture, health and so forth). Such Departmental R&D is likely to have real-term cuts. The bottom line is that university researchers and Research Council scientists who in part depend on Ministry/Departmental R&D contracts will see far less investment in their work. The hardest hit will be young researchers. The last time this happened was in the 1990s towards the end of the Thatcher-Major era and it took half a decade to recover.

Another aspect to light's wave-particle duality observed. A photon is both a wave and a particle, all well and good. However, a photon can be generated easily by exciting atomic orbitals as well as absorbed by the same. Conversely particles of matter under normal circumstances) remain as particles (atoms). So here is a question: is it possible to trap light as fundamental particles and yet still retain their wave-like properties?   Now German researchers Jan Klaers, Julian Schmitt, Frank Vewinger and Martin Weitz have done just this by confining the light between two mirrors (hence wavelike properties maintained), with a dye and as a Bose-Einstein condensate. (See Nature 2010 vol. 468 545-548 and for a comment and explanation 517-518.

Hot quantum entanglement achieved. The common view (until now) was that entanglement could only be sustained at cold temperatures: generally the strength of the entanglement had to be less than thermal energy which would otherwise swamp it.   Now physicist Galve and colleagues have reported in Physical Reviews Letters (2010, vol. 105) that it is the 'effective temperature' that counts. The 'effective temperature' being the product of multiplying the absolute temperature by the rate at which the system approaches thermal equilibrium and divided by the driving frequency (the signal at which the system is made to oscillate). The implication is that current temperatures at which entanglement measurements are made of around 20°K could be increased to 100°K so eliminating the need for such expensive cryogenics.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


The geometry of the Universe tested and is in line with the 'standard cosmological model'. An extremely elegant test as to the geometry of the Universe has been conducted by two French researchers, Christian Marinoni and Adeline Buzzi. According to Einstein, the geometry of the Universe is dependent on its contents. One prediction (hence a test) of the standard cosmological model if it is correct is that a large expanding sphere of proportions significant to the Universe should remain spherical. However, no such structure exists that is the size of many millions of galaxies and spanning galaxy sheets. So what the researchers have done is to consider random pairs of points on such a theoretical sphere. Here they used pairs of galaxies that orbit each other with their red shift to determine their distance and Doppler effect to determine their orbiting speed. The distribution of the galactic pairs must be completely random for spherical symmetry. This is what they find and this in turn suggests that 23% of the energy density of the Universe is in the form of dark matter, 73% in the form of dark energy, and only 4% in the form of ordinary matter, also the Universe has a flat geometry and dark energy is consistent with being a vacuum energy.
          The results are only a test and provide corroborative evidence for the nature of the Universe: they are what we would expect with the standard cosmological model. The test's weaknesses (and we need not remind our scientist regulars that all tests have weaknesses) include that distant galaxy pairs see the galaxies as they were with a younger Universe and these could have change with time. (See Nature 2010, vol. 468, 539-541 for the paper and 511-2 for an explanatory comment.)

A planet from another galaxy has been detected. The new planet is thought to have a minimum mass 1.25 times Jupiter's and circles close to its star (HIP 13044), with an orbit of 16.2 days. Though the planet's sun is 2,000 light years away, it belongs to a group of stars called the 'Helmi stream' which is known to have once belonged to a separate dwarf galaxy that collided/merged with our own about six to nine billion years ago.

Sample from 2nd celestial body makes it back to Earth. Despite difficulties Japan's Hayabusa probe returned and now scientists have confirmed that 1,500 particles found inside the Hayabusa probe after its seven-year space trip are from the asteroid Itokawa. It is the first time material has been brought back from a major celestial body other than the Moon.   The Hayabusa mission spent three weeks orbiting asteroid Itokawa in 2005 and attempted to pluck dust from its surface. The £125m (US$200m) mission encountered many technical problems, from being hit by a solar flare to propulsion glitches. No-one was quite sure whether it had succeeded at the time because the capture mechanism appeared to fail just as the probe approached the asteroid's surface to make the acquisition. It would seem that Hayabusa disturbed the asteroid surface sufficiently in its approach to kick up dust into the capture tool, even if the mechanism itself did not work as designed. The particles contain the minerals olivine, pyroxene and plagioclase, all common to Earth and some meteorites, but in addition mineral troilite (an iron sulphide) not found in Earth rocks. +++ In addition to Moon samples (the only other major celestial body from which samples have been retrieved) cometary dust has been captured by the US Stardust probe; and solar wind particles returned by the Genesis craft.

Outer planetoids Pluto and Eris have a similar surface ice coating. Pluto has an elliptical orbit clipping that of Neptune and then going further out. Eris has a more eccentric elliptical orbit that clips Pluto's median orbit and which goes further out still than Pluto at its most extreme. CH4 (methane) and N2 (nitrogen) ice was discovered coating the surface of Pluto in 1976 and 1992 respectively.  Now Tegler and colleagues using ground-based infrared spectroscopy (compared with lab spectral studies of ice mixes) have estimated that the ratios of the frozen abundances of CH4 and N2 on Pluto are 97% and 3% respectively and Eris 90% and 10% (Astrophysical Journal vol. 725, p1296-1305).  So, could other Kuiper-belt objects have a methane dominant and nitrogen minority ice composition?  ESA's Rosetta mission will arrive at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in mid-2014. Then in 2015 NASA's New Horizons will reach the Pluto system in 2015. The former will illuminate the Kuiper question (as the Kuiper belt, at roughly at the orbital distance of Pluto, is thought to be the source of most comets) and the latter affirm the Pluto ground-based results.  Both missions should also be able to discern sub-surface ice composition where meteorite or other activity has created gaps in the surface ices. And comparing the results of the two might explain why comets are comparatively nitrogen poor as well as why a portion of the Kuiper population only seem to have water (H2O) ice?

Private rocket does two orbits before splashing down in the Pacific. SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation) has developed a Dragon re-usable capsule that hopefully may ferry crew and cargo to the International Space Station following NASA retiring the shuttle fleet this year.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


Rinderpest cattle disease all but wiped out. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has announced that Rinderpest is all but eliminated. Rinderpest is an acute, highly contagious and often fatal myxovirus infection of cattle, sheep and goats. When the disease arrived in Africa at the end of the nineteenth century between 80% and 90% of cattle and buffalo on the continent were killed. "As of mid 2010, FAO is confident that the rinderpest virus has been eliminated from Europe, Asia, Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, and Africa." A formal announcement on the eradication of rinderpest is expected from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) next year. When confirmed, rinderpest would become only the second viral disease - after smallpox - to have been eliminated by humans.

Living fossil seaweed found. The two types of seaweed, , represent previously unrecognised ancient forms of algae, have been found at depths of more than 200m. The colonial algae could belong to the earliest of all known green plants, diverging up to one billion years ago from the ancestor of all such plants. They appear to possess special chlorophyll pigments that allow them to utilise the low intensity blue light found at depth. The algae had previously been identified as belonging to groups (genera) Palmophyllum and Verdigellas, but genetic make-up has revealed their ancient ancestry. Green plants in general belong to one of two groups, or clades. One includes all land plants and the green algae with the most complex structures, known as charophytes or more commonly stoneworts. The other are the Cholorophyta, make up all other green algae. Instead of belonging to the Cholorophyta both types of these Palmophyllum and Verdigellas algae actually belong to a new (ancient) group of green plants and may well be assigned their own Order, a high level taxonomic classification.

US biosecurity labs not cleared as safe. Two planned labs have not been adequately vetted for safety says the US National Research Council. The National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (Manhattan) and National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratory (Boston) may not be as biosecure as the government's latest safety assessments make out as these assessments underestimate the chances as well as impact of an accidental pathogen release.

Sliver of hope for Alzheimer's' sufferers. Researchers at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease in San Francisco now have evidence from tests on mice that boosting the brain's neurotransmitter EphB2 could help reduce, or even prevent, some of the worst effects of Alzheimer's. The research suggests that the chemical plays an important role in memory, and is depleted in Alzheimer's patients. The work was published in Nature.

Key difference between modern humans and Neanderthals discovered. Tayna Smith (Harvard) and Paul Tafforeau (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility) studied modern human, ancient human and Neanderthal teeth and discovered that dental maturation was faster in Neanderthals. Conversely humans had a longer maturation hence childhood. This could give humans an evolutionary advantage over Neanderthals. (See Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1010906107 (2010).)

Humans used coca 8,000 years ago. Remains of coca leaves were found beneath a Peruvian house and show that Peruvian foraging societies used coca. Reported in the journal Antiquity, this pushes back known usage by 3,000 years. Coca leaves contain a range of chemical compounds known as alkaloids. In modern times, the most notable among them is extracted cocaine. But the chewing of coca leaves for medicinal purposes has long been known at least as old as the Inca civilisation. Other coca alkaloids have mildly stimulating effects and can reduce hunger, aid digestion, as well as help combat the effects of altitude sickness.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


Forthcoming Science Fiction book and graphic novel releases

The following 'forthcoming' listings (SF, fantasy/horror, and popular science/non-fiction SF/fantasy)
relate to UK releases (with just a few exceptions).
It aims to let you know the main English language genre and popular science books currently coming out for the European market.
It is not a complete listing and depends on us being given details.
We only occasionally include titles from N. American major publishers and only where we know there is European distribution.
If you wish for a more complete listing then Locus publishes occasional British listings in its magazine.


The Technician by Neal Asher, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-45762-0.
See other stand alone reviews of Asher's books: Cowl, The Gabble, Hilldiggers, Line of Polity - Neal Asher, Line War, Orbus, Prador Moon and Shadow of the Scorpion.

Stone Spring – Northland: Book One by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08920-4.
This is set in the end-glacial and early interglacial world when the N. Sea was dry to lower sea levels over 8,000 years ago. But the seas were rising. Click on the title link to Duncan's stand-alone review.   Also we have other reviews of Baxter's novels: Coalescent, Emperor: Time's Tapestry Book One, Conqueror: Time's Tapestry Book Two, Navigator: Time's Tapestry Book Three,Weaver: Time's Tapestry Book Four, Flood, Moonseed, Origin, Resplendent: Destiny's Children Book Four, Space, Time, Titan, Traces, Transcendent and Vacuum Diagrams.

Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-10094-4.
A man awakes on a starship but has no idea where it is going… (Also we have other reviews of Greg Bear books: Blood Music, City at the End of Time, Darwin’s Children, Dead Lines, Legacy, New Legends, Vitals: Never Say Die, and Quantico.)

Cure by Robin Cook, Pan Macmillan, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-75064-7.
Techno-thriller. Can a pluripotent stem cell cure really work? A former researcher untangles a web woven by vested interests including criminal forces.

Metro 2033 by Dimitry Glukhovsky, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08625-8.
Though this edition was catalogued for release in last autumn (hence our listing last season), there is a push for this title this spring. This is the paperback release of last spring's hardback (click on the above title to see the stand-alone review) of the post-atomic war novel that has taken eastern Europe by storm and garnered Glukhovsky (or Gluhovsky) a Eurocon Award in 2007. The computer game tie-in helps, but it is a rattling yarn with some black humour, and even where you think the novel may be going off-piste, with thought there is an easy explanation. The story concerns the survivors in Moscow's metro (which in real life has been designed as an air-raid shelter complete with space for underground warehouses). Then one day something, or somethings, break into one of the stations on a line to the north. Help is required from the centre of the metro where the best of civilization resides. However the journey there involves going through stations where strangers may be considered with suspicion, where extreme political regimes flourish and then there are the perils of the tunnels in between.

The Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton, Pan, pbk. ISBN 978-0-330-44317-3.
This is the paperback release of the final in the 'Void' sequence. See Peter Tyers standalone review of the The Evolutionary Void.

Instinct by Ben Kay, Penguin, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-014-1-04657-0.
Hidden in a remote corner of the South American jungle is a clandestine research facility known simply as MEROS. Here, working in laboratories buried five hundred feet underground, military scientists have developed a most astonishing and deadly weapon: genetically-modified killer wasps. They were meant to take out terrorists and other perceived threats, but their insect brains make no distinction between 'enemy' and 'friend'. All they know is an unceasing hunger for human flesh and even behind feet-thick security shields, the means to satisfy it... It is Man's oldest fear – being eaten alive… This is a debut novel for Ben Kay who enjoys reading Stephen King and Michael Crichton.   It came out in December and so we should have included this last season but only received the pre-publicity in November and any earlier publicity – if there was any – was not overtly geared to science fiction as none of our regular trade contacts had news of this. All of which to say that this is being marketed in a 'Crichton -is-not-SF' kind of way. Of course Crichton is SF, and, before he went off the rails towards the end of his career, his genre contributions were very notable. So, is this new title by a new author any good? Well, if we get a review copy we will let you know. +++ STOP PRESS: Jonathan has just reviewed Instinct here.

The Walking Dead vol. 13 by Robert Kirkman, Image Comics, trdpbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-1-848-56993-5.
The latest instalment of the graphic novel series on which the high-rating TV series is based.

Absorption by John Meaney, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08534-3.
Click on this book's title link to see Pete's review of this novel. We also have other reviews of Meaney's novels: Context, Dark Blood and To Hold Infinity.

Embassytown by China Miéville, Pan Macmillan, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-75076-0.
This one is not due out until May, and so we should really announce it at Easter with our Summer listing, but we thought you would want to keep an eye out for this especially as last year we cited China's The City and the City as one of the best books of 2009 and it subsequently went on to win the British SF Association, the Clarke and Hugo Awards. Embassytown is full of contradictions and on the outskirts of the Universe. Avice is an immerser – a traveller of the inner sea of space and time below everyday reality – who has now returned to here home planet. But catastrophe looms…

Autumn: The City by David Moody, Gollancz, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09132-0.
Post holocaust, survivors find shelter in a devastated city. However the arrival of a squad of soldiers is potentially troublesome.

Equations of Life by Simon Morden, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49948-2.
This debut novel is the first in a trilogy set in a dystopian London.

Batman vs. Robin by Grant Morrison, Titan Books, trdpbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-848-56993-5.
In this graphic novel, Damian Wayne (the latest new Robin) searches for evidence that Bruce Wayne is trapped in time.  This is destined to be something of a classic given Morrison's previous Batman form.

Green Hornet vol. 1: Sins of the Father, Dynamite Entertainment, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-606-90191-5
vol.2. ISBN 978-1-606-90192-2.
Please pay attention: These tales are adapted from the unproduced Green Hornet film and not the 2011 Green Hornet film. However the Green Hornet used to be as iconic as the Lone Ranger (now, why did we pick that example?) and the new film is bound to revive interest.

The Demi-Monde – Part One: Winter by Rod Rees, Quercus, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-849-16303-3.
Demi-Monde is a simulated (steampunk) world ruled by tyrants from throughout history and conceived to train the military. The programme is on the World's first quantum computer and has some 30 million (artificial) inhabitants. In the real world, a kidnapper hides the President's daughter in Demi-Monde meaning that the simulation cannot be switched off. The pre-publicity for this title is rather interesting and we understand that rights have also been sold in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, N. America, Germany, Russia, Poland and Italy. Such commissioning editor interest prior to significant sales is rare.  See Jonathan's review of Demi-Monde.

Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08850-4.
This is the paperback release of Reynold's steampunk futuristic novel: his latest. See stand-alone reviews by Ian as well as Jonathan. We have cited this above as one of the best SF books of 2010.

New Model Army by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08363-9.
And we have absolutely no information on this one… (Though we have previously reviewed other Adam Roberts books: Gradisil, Land of the Headless, The McAtrix Derided, Salt, Splinter - Adam Roberts, Star Warped, Stone, Swiftly, The Va Dinci Cod and I am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas.)

Down to the Bone by Justina Robson, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0575-088565-7.
Book five in the Lela Black science fantasy that connects parallel space-time continua. See reviews of those earlier in the series: Keeping It Real, Chasing the Dragon and Selling Out

Our latest in-depth reviews of recent fiction books can be found linked from the whats new index.

In depth reviews of hundreds of fiction books can be found linked alphabetically by author off the reviews index.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, Gollancz, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN978-0-575-09756-8.
An urban fantasy thriller with a detective and his trainee wizard.

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie, Gollancz, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08383-7.
See other Abercrombie reviews: Before They Are Hanged, Best Served Cold and The Blade Itself.

The Steel Queen by Karen Azinger, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-007-34534-2.
The first in a five-book sword and sorcery series.

Farlander by Col Buchanan, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-51188-1.
An impressive sword and sorcery debut with just a tiny hint of steampunk.

The Enterprise of Death by Jesse Bullington, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49912-3.
Set in the time of the Spanish inquisition complete with witch burnings, vampirism and necromancy.

Sea of Ghosts by Alan Campbell, Pan Macmillan, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-74294-9.
Science fantasy.

The Ambassador's Mission by Trudi Canavan, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-848-49592-7.
The paperback release of book one in Canavan's 'traitor spy' sequence.

Goddess of Spring by P. C. Cast, Piatkus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-749-95371-3.
Sexy paranormal romance with ancient mythology impinging on our world.

The Sword of Albion by Mark Chadbourn, Bantam, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-553-82021-8.
Elizabethan faerie fantasy.

Spellwright by Blake Charlton, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-004-34919-7.
This is a debut novel. It concerns a world where the very language people speak has power.

The Fallen Blade by Jon Courtenay, Orbit, trdpbk, £11.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49845-4.
Rather good historical fantasy about a vampire assassin in 15th century Venice.

The Crippled God: Malazan Book of the Fallen 10 by Steven Erikson, Bantam Press, hrdbk, £20. 978-0-593-04635-7.
The concluding volume of the popular epic. The author is over from N. America for the launch.

At the Gates of Darkness by Raymond Feist, Voyager, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-007-26472-8.
A conclusion to Feist's Demon War sequence.

The Tree of Seasons by Stephen Gately, Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-444-70653-6.
Now if the name of the author rings a bell that's because he is apparently the Boyzone band member who died recently, which makes this a posthumous release. The book is described as being Narnia-ish.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith, Corsair, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-01477-9.
This one is from the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Lincoln's journal is uncovered and from it we learned that he battled the undead and that vampires paid an important part in US history…. (Forgive the oxymoronic term 'US history', but you follow our drift.)

Florence and Giles by John Harding, Blue Door, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-31504-8.
A Victorian ghost story and the very-early-word is that this could do well.

Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-37609-4.
The paperback release of the second in her new 'Rain Wild Chronicles' sequence.

The Inheritance by Robin Hobb, HarperVoyager, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-007-27377-5.
This is a collection of her novellas and shorts.

Conan's Brethren by Robert E. Howard, Gollancz, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-575-08987-7.
No, you are not having déjà vous, this was due out last November. Nonetheless this is a hugely worthy re-print of the original classic stories and a companion volume to The Complete Conan Chronicles. A must for devoted sword and sorcery readers by Crom.

Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick, Pan Macmillan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-53620-2.
A new fantasy debut set in an underground world of thieves in a kingdom that has magic.

Wolfsangel by M. D. Lachlan, Gollancz, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08960-0.
A new series that spans time starting with Norse myth and goes through to the 20th century.

Midnight by Stephen Leather, Hodder, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-444-70067-1.
The second in the supernatural thriller series following Nightfall.

The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe, Orbit, ISBN 978-0-356-50000-3
The Heir of Night is author Helen Lowe’s second book (the first being Thornspell a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story from Prince Charming’s standpoint). The Heir of Night is the first of a new series 'The Wall of Night'. It concerns a people called the Derai and their bleak, twilit world of the barrier mountain range known as The Wall – or Shield-Wall – of Night. The Derai, although they believe themselves to be the champions of good and right, are a society that has been fractured by civil war. Both the Derai and their aeons-old enemy, The Swarm, are alien to the world of Haarth in which their conflict is currently being fought out—and the indigenous inhabitants have their own perspective.

The Bride That Time Forgot by Paul Magrs, Review, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-755-35945-5.
An outrageous comedy with Brenda and Effie from Whitby, alias Frankenstein's bride and her best friend a witch.

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan, Gollancz, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09483-3.
If the pre-publication is right, this is a very affordably-priced hardback. Could be that the publisher feels confident in sales to get scales of economy. Well, this is from the author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09030-9.
A debut novel apparently in the vein of Scott Lynch.

The Waters Rising by Sheri S. Tepper, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09495-6.
A sword and sorcery sequel to A Plage of Angels.

The Sea Watch by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tor, pbk, £7.99. (78-0-330-51146-9.
The 6th in the 'Shadow of the Apt' series.

Finch by Jeff Vandermeer, Corvus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-848-87478-7.
This is being pitched a 'fungal noir'. Apparently it is a bizarre murder mystery, but whether or not it involves dark zygomycota or black ascomycota we really could not say.

Our latest in-depth reviews of recent fiction books can be found linked from the whats new index.

In depth reviews of hundreds of fiction books can be found linked alphabetically by author off the reviews index.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

The Quantum Story: A History in 40 Moments by Jim Baggott, Oxford University Press, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-199-56684-6.

Moon: A Brief History by Bernd Brunner, Yale, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-300-15212-8.
How the Moon has engaged the human imagination from ancient to present.

Dr Who: The Complete Guide by Mark Campbell, Robinson, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-184-901587-5.
We have no details. Presumably does what it says on the tin.

Neutrino by Frank Close, Oxford University Press, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-199-57459-9
This looks at neutrinos' growing significance, and looking at how neutrino astronomy is at the threshold of enabling us to look into distant galaxies and to finding echoes of the Big Bang.

The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch, Allen Lane, hrdbk, £25. ISBN 978-0-713-99274-8.

Here on Earth: A New Beginning by Tom Flannery, Allen Lane, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-846-14396-0.

42: Douglas Adams' Amazingly Accurate Answer to Life the Universe and Everything by Peter Gill, Beautiful Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-907-61612-9.
Harry Potter discovers he is a wizard on page 42. Hitler became a vegetarian at 42. Elvis chocked on a hamburger at 42…

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better by Jane McGonigal, Cape, trdpbk, £14.99. 978-0-224-08925-8.

The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, Fourth Estate, hrdbk, £25. ISBN 978-0-007-25091-2.

Incoming! Or Why We Should Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Meteorite by Ted Nield, Granta, hrdbk, £18. ISBN 978-1-847-08241-1.
From the author of SuperContinent and past SF2 Concatenation contributor.

An Optimist's Tour of the Future by Mark Stevensen, Profile, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-846-68356-5.
Trans-humans, intelligent robots and commercial space flight are all coming soon.

Harry Potter: Film Wizardry, Bantam, hrdbk, £25. ISBN 978-0-593-06648-5
Is a behind the scenes view of the Harry Potter films. Learn why the Yule Ball ice sculptures never melt, where Galleons, Sickles and Knuts are really 'minted', how to get a Hippogriff to work with actors, about the inspiration behind Hogwarts castle, and why Dementors move the way they do, and much more.

Brian now has autographed copies of -- Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide by Jonathan Cowie & Tony Chester, Porcupine Books, £8.90, pbk, 272pp. ISBN 0-954-91490-2. E-mail Brian (follow the Porcupine Books link) first to check availability. Also Essential is now available from Amazon.   Jump to the new specific Amazon link earlier on (but it's cheaper from Porcupine). If you enjoy Concat then you can support us by getting this book either for yourself or a friend and there are postage discounts for getting more than one copy and a further discount is available if buying several for an SF group or SF class.


Our latest in-depth reviews of recent non-fiction SF and popular science books can be found linked from the whats new index.

In depth reviews of many science and SF non-fiction books can be found off the non-fiction reviews index.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Star Wars: Year by Year – A Visual Chronicle from Dorling Kindersley, hrdbk, £35. ISBN 978-1-405-34167-7.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


Ancient Worlds £24.99 from 2entertain.
This is a BBC series of factual documentaries about the ancient Mediterranean civilizations 5,000 BC to 500 AD. A must for anyone fascinated with early civilization that gave us the classical fantasy epics, early proto-science, beginnings of democracy and much more, despite epic battles, invasions, natural disasters and population shifts. Riveting.

The Avengers: Series 6. £59.99 from Optimum Home Entertainment.
The 1960s classic British thriller (and slightly '60s camp) TV series about two (presumably government) secret agents. The series regularly used SFnal tropes (robots, invisibility, bio-terrorism etc.) The publicity descriptor for this DVD confuses us as it is billed as series 6 but then tells us of Tara King (Linda Thurston) taking over from Emma peel (Dianna Rigg) as John Steed's (Patrick Macnee) but then according to our reckoning that should be season 7.

Inception £22.99 from Warner Home Video.
Directed by Christopher (The Dark Knight) Nolan, this is one of the best Hollywood SF offerings of the year. A process is invented whereby it is possible to enter someone's dreams. This technique is used to steal industrial secrets. One agent, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio),good at this is now a fugitive because of what he has done, however he gets one last chance at redemption but is not aware of a new danger…

Jonah Hex £15.99 from Warner Home Video.
In the wild west, a scarred bounty hunter with a warrant on his own head gets an offer from the US military he cannot refuse. He must capture a former confederate general who is planning to use supernatural powers to bring the fledgling US to its knees.

Misfits: Series 1 £19.99 from Channel 4.
If you liked the TV series Heroes then you could well enjoy this rather different take on the same trope, Misfits. Heroes had a wealthy senator, son of a business tycoon, talented artist, daughter of an ostensibly middle-management businessman (in fact a spy), as individuals who discover that they each have their own individual superpower. Conversely Misfits have a bunch of under-trodden working class or unemployed teenagers or early twenty-somethings, on community service who are caught in a storm and after find that they each have their own super power. This is far more grittier than Heroes, has elements of dark British humour, and a firmer story arc. Hugely recommended.

Misfits: Series 2 £29.99 from Channel 4.
If anything need be said, this is just a little darker than season 1. Superb modern science fantasy. This one has two discs, season one (above) had just one, and so there must be extras and so the price is more.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice £15.99 from Walt Disney Home Entertainment.
This is not the classic fairy tale. Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) is a master sorcerer in present-day Manhattan trying to defend the city from bad-guy, Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina). Balthazar needs help, so he recruits Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel), an average guy who demonstrates hidden potential, as his reluctant protégé. The sorcerer gives his unwilling accomplice a crash course in the art and science of magic so as to stop the evil forces.

Star Wars: Clone Wars Season 2 £12.99 from Warner Home Video.
This spin-off animation series is set between the two trilogies.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse £19.99 from E1 Entertainment.
Mild horror thrills with sugary romance for teenagers with vampires and werewolves.

Zombie Town £12.99 from Scanbox Entertainment.
A local mechanic gets caught in the middle of his town's folk becoming infected with a parasite turning them into zombies. Average. If you are into zombies then worth a view with a bottle of wine.

See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in 2010, check out our forthcoming film diary.

To see our chart ratings for last year's films, nearly all of which are now available for DVD hire, then check out our most recent annual film top ten.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


The Autumn sadly saw us lose the following science and SF personalities:

Hans Arnold, the Swiss-born horror artist who lived in Sweden, has died aged 85.

Roy Ward Baker, the British film director, has died aged 93. His genre work included: Quatermass and the Pit (1967), Moon Zero Two (1969), Scars of Dracula (1970), The Vampire Lovers (1970), Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971), Asylum (1972), And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973), The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974), The Vault of Horror (1973), The Monster Club (1980). He also worked on TV directing episodes of SFnal series, or series that commonly featured SFnal tropes, such as The Avengers,and The Champions, as well as cult TV series such as The Saint and The Persuaders.

Elisabeth Beresford, the British children's author, has died aged 84. She is most famous for devising the wombles.

Alain le Bussy, the Belgian SF author, has died from complications following throat surgery. Alain was quite a prolific author and for many years could be considered to be Belgium's only major extant SF writer. His novel Deltas received France's Prix Rosny-Aîné in 1993. His work was not well known in Brit-N. American SF circles, but he was in France and he was also known in some Eastern European countries. He was active in European fandom especially in France where he was regularly involved in aspects of the French national convention. In 2005 he won a European SF Society (ESFS) Eurocon Award for 'Best Promoter' and was one of the few people to win that award for promoting SF outside their own country. Some of us on the SF2 Concatenation team knew him and he will be be missed by us.

Georges Charpak, the Polish Dachau concentration camp survivor and winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize for Physics, has died in Paris aged 86. He devised the 'multi-wire proportional counter' (MWPC), a device that detected not only sub-atomic particles but any electron-liberating ionising radiation such as X-rays. After the Nobel, Charpak adapted his invention to a other purposes, such as the detection of X-rays used in breast scans and, in the last years of his life, the detection of radon liberated in advance of earthquakes.

Geoffrey Crawley, the British photographer, has died aged 83. In 1982-3, he published ten articles in British Journal of Photography declaring the 1910 Cottingley Fairy photographs as fakes. He has obtained the original cameras and found that they were incapable of taking the pictures without the darkroom trickery to enhance the pictures. After Crawley’s articles, the cousins in the picture admitted the pictures were taken using cut-outs on pins.

John Fenn, the US physical chemist, has died aged 93. He is most famous for developing a way to electrospray ionised macromolecules such as proteins which then could be mass spectrographed. He won the 2002 Nobel Prize for chemistry for developing this technique.

Anne Francis, the US actress, has died aged 80. her most memorable SFnal role was as Altaira in Forbidden Planet (1956).

Paul (Gamma) Gamble, who spent a number of years in British SF retail, has died aged 62 following cancer of the liver. He was extremely well connected within the British SF book scene in the 1980s through to '90s and was huge fun to be with: the man had few inhibitions. However, one other side of this coin was that he did have his excesses, which explains his comparatively young age at which he left us. His achievements within SF were not with any body of work but his social skills, which Forbidden Planet and Titan publishers/distributors put to good use arranging numerous signings. Gamma seemed to know everyone within the UK SF author and editor scene and over the run up to Christmas, as news of his departure spread, his name seemed to crop up wherever Brit SF authors and editors gathered. His funeral was held at the end of November and consisted of testimonies from friends and family: one of his sons revealed the first words he remembered from his father, and there was a live music tribute as well as the playing of a record of Frank Zappa's 'Winos Don't March'. One of the British SF community's genuine characters has gone. A memorial party is being considered for next summer. +++ See also Editorial Matters earlier.

Bob Guccione, the US publisher, has died aged 79. Though famous for the men's girlie magazine Penthouse first published in Britain (1965) and then the US (1968) to huge financial success.   However of SFnal note, he was responsible forOmni magazine (1978-1995; then internet only up to 1998). Omni was a mixture of SF and popular science printed on high quality paper in full colour. In its heyday it was very profitable and a special UK edition was attempted but it never launched (there was just one dummy issue produced). A short-lived television show based magazine called OMNI: The New Frontier aired in the US from September 1981, hosted by Peter Ustinov.   However declining sales in final years forced Omni magazine to abandon print and move to the then embryonic internet.

Asenath Hammond, the US fan, has died aged 60. She was active within the New York SF community.

James Huchra, the US astronomer, has died aged 61. His lasting achievement is his refining techniques for measuring distances to galaxies and hence determining the age of the Universe, for which the consensus now is around 14 billion years. His work also led to mapping the macro structure of the Universe of sheets of galaxies with voids in between. He was president of the American Astronomical Society between 2008-10.

Jyrki Ijäkseltä, the Finnish fan, has died aged 67. Much loved, he was one of the fathers of Finnish fandom and among his activities he edited his fanzine Ikaros and was on the committee for the first Finncon. He was at last summer's Finncon which, as it happened, was more in the style of the early Finncons.

Irvin Kerhner, the US film director, has died aged 87. He directed RoboCop II (1990) – which was the better of the two sequels – and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) which won a Hugo Award and two Oscars.

Dino De Laurentiis, the US film producer, has died aged 91. Of genre interest, he worked on Barbarella (1968), Danger: Diabolik (1968), the first remake of King Kong (1978), Flash Gordon (1980), Conan the Barbarian (1982), The Dead Zone (1983), Dune (1984) and Army of Darkness (1992).

Benoît Mandelbrot, the Polish-born mathematician who lived in France (originally t escape the Nazis) and the US, has died aged 85. He is famous for aspects of chaos theory and especially fractals (a term he coined). (One of his fractal images is on the inside cover of the recently released Iain Banks'novel Surface Detail. Mandelbrot was also highly critical of the world banking system, arguing the economic model it used was unable to cope with its own complexity.

Brian Geoffrey Marsden, the British astronomer, has died aged 73. He was an expert on comets and trans-Neptunian objects. He was among the first to propose that Pluto be demoted to a minor planet back in 1999. Marsden's wish to 'demote' Pluto was granted in 2006 only after a number of trans-Neptunian objects more comparable to Pluto in size were discovered.

Len Moffat, the US fan and short story writer, has died aged 87. Noted for being a co-founder of Bouchercon.

Ingrid Pitt, the Polish actress, has died aged 73. Surviving the Nazi regime, she established a reputation with the Hammer films The Vampire Lovers (1970), Countess Dracula (1971) and The House That Dripped Blood (1971). She also appeared in the cult horror The Wicker Man (1973). Also of genre interest she appeared as of Queen Galleia in the Dr Who adventure 'The Time Monsters' in 1972 and Dr Solow in three episodes Doctor Who 'Warriors of the Deep' in 1984.

Jean Rollin, the French director, has died aged 72 following a lengthy illness. His full name was Jean Michel Rollin Le Gentil. His genre offerings include: Le Viol du Vampire [The Rape of the Vampire] (1968), La Vampire Nue [The Nude Vampire] (1969), Le Frisson des Vampires [The Thrill of the Vampires] (1970), Requiem Pour iun Vampire [Requiem for a Vampire] (1971), Among the Living Dead (1973), Les Démoniaques (1973), Lévres de Sang [Lips of Blood] and its hard-core version Suce-Moi Vampire [Suck Me Vampire] (1974), Phantasmes [Phantasms] (1974), La Nuit des Traquées [The Night of the Hunted] and its hard-core version Les Filles Traquées (both 1979), Les Deux Orphelines Vampires [The Two Vampire Orphans] (1997), La Fiancée de Dracula [The Bride of Dracula] (1999) and Le Masque de la Méduse [The Mask of Medusa] (2010). He also wrote novelisations of many of his films as well as had brief cameo appearances in them. He was Professor Nolan in the 1993 film Dinosaur from the Deep.

Adrienne Roy , the US comics colourist, has died aged 57. He worked on hundreds of Batman comics for DC.

Allan Sandage, the US astronomer, has died aged 84. A former assistant of the late Hubble, he published The Hubble's Atlas of Galaxies. By 1958 his research had considerably revised Hubble's estimates of galactic distances increasing them by around 7 fold. This gave him a new estimate for the expansion of the Universe (73 km per second per megaparsec) and in turn its estimated age (around 13 billion years) both of which are close to modern estimates. He was religious (though not of faith) and spoke of science and religion being two closets in the same house.

Hannelore Schmidt (nee Glaser), the German wildlife conservationist, has died aged 91. She wrote several books on botany and gardening that had international recognition and brought her numerous prizes. Her husband was Germany's former Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt.

William Self, the US television producer, has died aged 89. His shows of genre interest include: Batman; Land of the Giants; The Ghost and Mrs. Muir; Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; Lost in Space; and Time Tunnel. He also appeared in the film The Thing from Another World (1951).

Takeshi Shudo, the Japanese anime scriptwriter, has died aged 61. He was the first recipient of Japan's anime screenwriting award. He is particularly known for Fairy Princess Minky Momo, one of the first of the new generation of 'magical girl' shows, re-inventing the Japanese folktales of Momotaro for a young audience. He also wrote novels including nine of the fantasy series Eternal Filena.

Michael Tinkham, the US physicist, has died aged 82. Hving done his Masters and PhD at Cambridge MIT (US), he did a stint as a postdoc at Oxford University (Great Britain) before returning to the US. He is probably best know for his work on superconductors and his bookIntroduction to Superconductivity (1975) remains useful to students today. But it was back in 1956 that he found evidence for the, until then theoretical, energy level gap in superconductors even though it was the John Bardeen, Leon Cooper and Robert Schrieffer who devised the BCS theory in 1957 that explained it all (and which garnered Bardeen, Cooper and Schrieffer a physics Nobel Prize in 1972). Tinkham later worked on 'resistance' in superconductors.

Donald H. Tuck, the Australian SF encyclopaedist, has died aged 87. His Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, vol. III, won the 'Non-Fiction Book' Hugo in 1984 and remains one of the genre's core reference works next to the later Clute-Nicholls encyclopaedia and certainly the most significant contribution to SF studies made by a single person.

John Steakley, the US actor and author, has died aged 59 following a lengthy illness. His two SF novels were: Armor (1984) which is military space opera; and Vampire$ (1990) concerning Pope-funded mercenaries rooting out vampires and which was turned into the John Carpenter film Vampires (1998).

Ralph M. Vicinanza, the US science fiction literary agent, has died aged 60. In addition to being the agent for notables such as Robert Silverberg, Robert Heinlein, Stephen King, Carl Sagan and Philip K. Dick, he gained a reputation for selling rights outside of N. America.

John Waterlow, the British physiologist, has died aged 94. He worked on malnutrition. He sought to discern the cause of the condition, in which malnourished children had a suite of symptoms including: fatty liver, oedema (swollen limbs, flaky skin and hair loss, together with loss of potassium from muscles and blood cells, and reduced protein synthesis, called Kwashiorkor. Kwashiorkor was eventually shown to be due to chronic diarrhoea, or other common infections in children who lacked the protective antioxidant vitamins and minerals in their diet, and not as a consequence of protein deficiency, as initially thought.

Dudley Williams, the British biochemist, has died aged 73. Following a PhD from Leeds University, working on Vitamin D chemistry, he moved to Stanford University, California, to work with Carl Djerassi, the 'father of the contraceptive pill' he applied Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) to seeing how pharmaceuticals worked. He is perhaps most famous for his work with vancomycin as an antibiotic to combat MRSA antibiotic resistant strains. He was the co- author (along with Ian Flemming) of the textbook Spectroscopic Methods in Organic Chemistry that ran to six editions, the last being published as recently as 2008.


[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011


Did SF influence young scientists? Was a question asked by a Sigma Xi survey of its members. (Sigma Xi being a North American multidisciplinary learned society/academy.) According to renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, “Science fiction is useful both for stimulating the imagination and for defusing fear of the future.” Yet to some, science fiction is a distraction from real science. Sigma Xi has been exploring new ways to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. Its question to its members was: Did science fiction influence you? The overwhelming reply was a resounding: 'Yes'! Many Sigma Xi members shared specific titles and authors that captured their imaginations and inspired an interest in science. The overall conclusion emerging is one of SF helping inspire youngsters to get into science, something others have discovered and we have previously reported.

What SF do some science notables rate? was the question the magazine New Scientist asked in the autumn. Herewith are the answers:-
The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem and nominated by Sean Carroll, cosmologist
Dark Universe by Daniel F. Galouye and nominated by Richard Dawkins, biologist
Journey of Joenes by Robert Sheckley nominated by James Lovelock, engineer turned theoretical biosphere scientist. The Listeners by James Gunn and nominated by Seth Shostak, astronomer
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart and nominated by Freeman Dyson, physicist
Of course all are excellent choices, but for a more complete a list (fully cross-referenced and with summary plots) Concatenation regulars will have Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide and is, of course, a must for somewhat serious and semi-serious SF enthusiasts. (Naturally die-hard SF aficionados will be using Clute & Nicholls, but then that costs nearly ten times as much as it is not a concise guide.)

Architects wanted to know how to design the perfect zombie-safe house! The Zombie Safe House Competition was sponsored by the US Architects Southwest ( There were four categories of safe house to design: a floating refuge, a mountain hideout, a high-rise fort and a bunker.   Now, what is it about the southwest of the US?

Antimatter is not such a big deal, says SF fan and commentator Roz Kaveney. In a rather neat article Roz Kaveney says that we (SF aficionados) were unimpressed with the trapping of a few atoms of antimatter for a fraction of a second, as we have not only heard it all before but we have heard more all before. She says: " My sense of wonder was overloaded by the time I was 16; I am never going to get that rush again. Even major breakthroughs make me go 'Whatever!'. Partly that's because, despite all our advances, we still haven't got time travel, reptilian visitors from the Galactic Federation, or telepathy. Instead, we get the depressing environmental disasters that JG Ballard described, and crazed grinning fundamentalist politicians straight out of Philip K Dick."

Maison d'Ailleurs (The House of Elsewhere, Yverdon, Switzerland) is running an exhibition of the works of US artist Ken Rinaldo through to 20th March 2011. Rinaldo specializes in installations that blur the boundaries between the organic and inorganic. His art encourages communication between species by creating immersive environments. He is an associate professor in the Art & Technology programme at the Ohio State University, US.

Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in The Guardian has last season coverage that included:-
  - Dr Dalia Nield, a plastic surgeon, told the Daily Mail it was "highly unlikely" the cream ['Boob Job' from Rodial] would make your breasts bigger, and questioned the amount of information provided by Rodial. "The manufacturers are not giving us any information on tests they have carried out. They are not telling us the exact ingredients in the product and how they increase the size of the breast." She is being sued by Rodial, who no doubt can afford litigation given that the cream sells for £125 (US$200).
  - the taking to task of simplistic associations of brain blood flow scans with those with low sex drives. If you are not aroused for whatever reason then the blood is not going to flow. The problem may not be in the brain and there may not even be a problem…
  - a modern variant of the Solomon Asch's legendary studies from the 1950s on conformity that has ("") just been published that seems to indicate that women conform more than men, though conducting science really has its grey as well as black and white areas.
  - news that the US infected asylum inmates with sexual diseases in the 1940s has caused outrage, but it raises questions about today's medical trials.
  - the way the Hinkley Point nuclear power station PR gently nudged people in earlier survey questions to 'appropriately' answer a final question on support or not for the station. Goldacre salutes the PR people, and the nerds who shine a light on what they do.
  - on whether attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) really has a genetic basis or an attempt to use the label of a genetic basis for status.
  - the psychology of (mis-)perception. Experiment shows that if you present much information in a monotonous verbal way then listeners will tend to discern a pattern that is not there, such as a medical treatment will work.
  - how the US medical company NMT is suing NHS cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst who commented on a medical device – MIST – trial. Apparently there is no evidence that the device works. Peter Wihilmhurst reportedly paid some £100,000 (US$160,000) to defend himself. However NMT is itself not financially secure. The judge has ordered NMT to pay £200,000 into an independent holding account in case they go bankrupt and lose. If they fail to do this then the case will be struck out in January, but Wilmhurst may never get his defence expenses back.  Goldacre is not convinced that a libel law which allows a company like NMT to do this to one man is in society's best interests.
The collected Goldacre 'Bad Science' articles up to last year are now available in book form. You can see all the examples of Goldacre's Bad Science for free at

So that was the last season of 2010. Welcome to 2011… which among other things will see the 60th anniversary of American Carl Djerassi together with Mexican Luis E. Miramontes and Hungarian George Rosenkranz, developing the progestin norethindrone contraceptive pill which, unlike progesterone contraceptive pill , remains effective when taken orally and is far stronger than the naturally occurring hormone. Carl Djerassi has reportedly remarked that he did not have birth control in mind when he began working with progesterone—"not in our wildest dreams… did we imagine (it)".   Carl Djerassie is also the author of several SF novels, including Cantor's Dilemma, that explores the ethics of modern scientific research. Djerassi describes some of his novels as 'science-in-fiction' (which some today might call 'lab lit') that portray the scientific life, with all its accomplishments, conflicts, and aspirations.

Concatenation's biennial New Year predictions for the future… Now when we last did our fun prediction thing back in January 2009 were we right or were we right…? Well back then, of our four short-term predictions made at the end of 2008 and posted 2009 as predictions up to the end of 2010, three were absolutely spot on:-
          - Recession continues throughout 2009 to 2010 (it did despite what some economists and politicians were saying at the time) with personal credit card crunch to follow (we will see about this personal credit crunch but as we do seem to have an eye for the future best you prepare for it by ditching your cards before the unexpectedly sudden rates hike).
          - High street shop closures due to both recession and due to growth in developed nation internet retail (both happened).
          - And our unscientific prediction, a bigger than usual volcanic eruption (indeed in 2010 we had the Iceland (Eyjafjallajokull) volcano grounding air traffic over western Europe).
Our longer-term predictions (up to 2030) still have to bear fruit but with the next IPCC report just a few years away we will soon see about our global warming prediction.
          As for new prediction discussion. Well, the team is not due to do that until next year.  Meanwhile it is not long before you can see if any of our Best SF recommendations of the past year get any major SF awards this year (we have had reasonable success in the past in this department too, even though we focus on the SF we see in the British isles).  All that remains is for us to ask you to keep visiting us and telling us your country's SF news.  Splundig.



[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2011

End Bits


More science and SF news will be reviewed in our Summer 2011 upload in April
plus there will also be 'forthcoming' Summer book releases.

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Sue Burke, Ola Cholewa (see also Jim's Eurocon article), Antuza Genescu, Adrian James, Dave Langford, Boris Sidyuk, June Young, and not least the very many representatives of fan groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk who sent in news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page.   If you feel that your news, or SF news that interests you, should be here then you need to let us know (as we cannot report what we are not told). :-)

Elsewhere on this site… This past year's (2010) book reviewers were:  David Allkins, Jonathan Cowie, Susan Griffiths, Ian Hunter, Duncan Lunan, Nadia Mook, and Peter Tyers.  2010 articles and conreps (not provided by any of the afore) came from: Darrell Buxton , Tony Chester, Dorin Davideanu, Antuza Genescu, Silviu Genescu, Laurentiu Nistorescu, Elmar Podlasly, Roberto Quaglia, Jim Walker and Sherry Yao.  Site embedding, posting and off-line archive: Alan Boakes.  News and reviews co-ordinator: Jonathan Cowie.  Technical: Dan Heidel.  ISP and sponsorship: Boris Sidyuk.  We also had team get-together hospitality kindly provided by Alan Boakes, Graham and Donna Connor.  And now, on with the rest of 2011…

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Summer 2011 period – needs to be in before April 2010. News is especially sought concerns SF author news as well as that relating to national SF conventions: size, number of those attending, prizes and any special happenings.

To contact us see here and try to put something clearly science fictional in the subject line in case your message ends up being spam-filtered and needs rescuing.

Meanwhile feel free to browse the rest of the site; key links below.

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