Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Spring 2009

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 2009

EDITORIAL MATTERS

It is a New Year and so let us look forward, turning our backs on the woe of yesteryear...

Concat front page hacked. Yes, we had our annual hack as an early Christmas present. This time some code was inserted into our front page that redirected visitors to a malware lottery site. This was spotted and removed by Boris, our webspace provider, within 12 hours. Only our front page was affected and so visitors to the rest of the site had nothing to worry about. (Our 'What's New page is the alternate entry point our regulars seem to prefer.) Furthermore, those with a standard firewall were protected during these few hours. However the incident caused Google to both block and then brand Concatenation as having malware even though clicking on its 'further details' link revealed that only one page of our site had affected Google's bots and that there was no malware rather redirection to another site. Nonetheless, Google blocked and branded all of our couple of thousand pages as being harmful, even though only the one was affected, and it did so for three weeks even though we corrected the fault in half a day. Three weeks later and Google gave us the all clear. So with luck that is our hack for the year.

Concatenation's selection of Nature 'Futures' stories was copied by someone called Bert Botha on Scribd. It took five months to sort out due to Scribd's affidavit copyright assertion form not being appropriate to the complex three-way copyright relationship between Nature, Concatenation and the individual authors of the Futures stories. (Nature owns the PDF format copyright, Concatenation owns the logo artwork copyright, and the authors own the intellectual copyright.) Because Bert Botha had copied all the Futures stories on our site it did look as if we were going to have to involve all the authors (as Scribd's copyright statement assumes that all the posters have copyright permission to post) and some of their agents. Fortunately Scribd decided to do the pragmatic thing. However we have a question for Bert Botha - the Scribd user with no regard to copyright...

Question for Scribd user Bert Botha... Flattering as it is for the authors and ourselves to have what we do and contributed to us stolen and then re-posted, but why did you do it? The stories were already freely available on this site! You also need to know that Nature and the authors do not have to let their work be shown outside of the website which has full article-access only to paying subscribers. Nature allowing Concat to select and post a sample is bringing a flavour of the series to a far broader readership. Your action can only serve to irritate hence undermine this arrangement with Nature. Do note that this arrangement depends on the goodwill of all parties.

To anyone who knows who Bert Botha is. If you know Bert Botha and you enjoy our selection of the Future stories then you might want to let this person know how you feel.

Concat traffic record high. Now, our site traffic in terms of monthly unique visitors (not pages and not hits) has been growing at close to 20% a year for the past five or six years and last year became a five-figure figure: not bad considering we only have three major updates a year: spring, summer and autumn. However in December several people listed Concatenation pages in Stumble Upon bringing our site visitors up to over 73,000 for the month and who all told downloaded 150,000 pages. This is probably a flash in the pan (as the page per visitor count was well down) but we may keep some of these visitors as our regulars.

Enough of housekeeping, on with the show...

Concat' Site Update Alert Service: You can receive e-mail alerts (only every other month) letting you know when this site has an update. This alert service is free and your e-mail addresses will not be passed on to other parties. For details see the bottom of this news page. SF to your computer at near the speed of light. :-)

Help support Concatenation: Get Essential Science Fiction which is also available from Amazon.co.uk. 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 2009

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

This season's science prizes included: the Nobels, the IgNobels, the environmental science Blue Planet and the Euorepan Public Awareness of Science and Engineering Midas Awards.

Major autumnal SF awards included: China's Galaxy Awards, Czech Republic's Karel Capek [Karla Èapka ] Awards, Finland's Kuvastaja Award, France's Utopiales Prix [Prizes] and its Prix Rene Goscinny, Germany's Fantastic Prizes for fantasy, and Spain's Premio Athenea as well as its UPC Competition.

Europe's Large Hadron Collider powers up and then crashes. This puts a hold on our Graham's prophecy in our core team's predictions for 2009.

It is the Spring and so it is time to look back at last year for our Best Books of 2008 and also our Best films of 2008 and to look forward with our personal Scientific Predictions for 2009 and Beyond.

The French genre magazine Khimaira is dead, at least on paper. - see details here.

Alien world glimpsed. - see details here.

Book news - Includes that there is to a be a sequel of The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy and also a sequel to Dracula.

Film news - Includes that there will be two Will Smith follow-up films and also a new Judge Dredd film as well as a new version of Forbidden Planet.

Television news - Includes four Dr Who stories, that the BBC are doing a new Day of the Triffids mini-series and that from the US there will be two new alien invasion series.

News of SF and science personalities includes, among many, that of: Stephen Hawking (England), J. K. Rowling (Britain), Robert Sawyer (Canada), George Takei (US) and David Tennant (Scotland).

Major autumn SF conventions were in: England, Germany and Portugal.

Preparations for the 2010 Euroconference in London are steaming ahead. - This could be the northern hemisphere SF event of that year to attend. See details here.

Hatfield PSIFA marks 30th anniversary and plans re-union. - A major call goes out to anyone associated with, and anyone who knows anyone associated with Hatfield's SF activities over the years. - See details here.

Our short video clip section this season is headed up by the 2009 and 2010 Worldcon Chairs telling us why we should go to Canada and Australia respectively. (Strangely, in a demonstration of a lack of joined-up thinking, the Australian Chair fails to mention that visitors to down under can also go via New Zealand the previous weekend for a convention there...) Also included in the short-vid clip mix is a spat from William Shatner. - See the section here.

The autumn saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included: Forrest (4E) Ackerman the American SF fan, Barrington J. Bayley the British SF author, George Palade the Romanian cell biologist, Alfred Pippard the British physicist, Oliver Postgate the British children's TV producer, and Anatol Zhabotinsky the Russian chemist.

 

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 2009

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SF NEWS

The 2008 Nobel Prizes have been announced and the science category wins were:-
          Physiology or Medicine: Harald zur Hausen, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier for discoveries of viruses linked to disease.
          Chemistry: Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien for developing tools revealing the cellular processes.
          Physics: Yoichiro Nambu, Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa for discoveries in nature's broken symmetry.

The 2008 Ignobel Prizes have been announced for science that first makes people smile and then think:
          Biology: Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert, and Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France, for discovering that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than the fleas that live on a cat. Their paper is titled "A Comparison of Jump Performances of the Dog Flea, Ctenocephalides canis".
          Medicine: Dan Ariely of Duke U. (USA), Rebecca L. Waber of MIT (USA), Baba Shiv of Stanford U. (USA), and Ziv Carmon of INSEAD (Singapore) for demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine. Their paper is titled "Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy".
          Cognitive Science: Toshiyuki Nakagaki of Hokkaido U., Japan, Hiroyasu Yamada of Nagoya, Japan, Ryo Kobayashi of Hiroshima U., Atsushi Tero of Presto JST, Akio Ishiguro of Tohoku University, and Ágotá Tóth of the University of Szeged, Hungary, for discovering that slime moulds can solve puzzles. See their paper Intelligence: Maze-Solving by an Amoeboid Organism.
          Economics: Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tybur and Brent Jordan of the University of New Mexico, USA, for discovering that professional lap dancers earn higher tips when they are ovulating. Their paper is titled "Ovulatory Cycle Effects on Tip Earnings by Lap Dancers: Economic Evidence for Human Estrus?".
          Physics: Dorian Raymer of the Ocean Observatories Initiative at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA, and Douglas Smith of California U., San Diego, USA, for proving mathematically that heaps of string or hair or almost anything else will inevitably tangle themselves up in knots. See their paper Spontaneous Knotting of an Agitated String.
          Nutrition: Massimiliano Zampini of the University of Trento, Italy and Charles Spence of Oxford University, UK, for electronically modifying the sound of a potato chip to make the person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than it really is. See their paper The Role of Auditory Cues in Modulating the Perceived Crispness and Staleness of Potato Chips
          Chemistry: Sharee A. Umpierre of Puerto Rico University, Joseph A. Hill of The Fertility Centers of New England (US), Deborah J. Anderson of Boston U. School of Medicine), for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and to Chuang-Ye Hong of Taipei Medical University (Taiwan), C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang (all of Taiwan) for discovering that it is not. See Effect of 'Coke' on Sperm Motility and The Spermicidal Potency of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola.
          Literature: David Sims of Cass Business School. London, UK, for his lovingly written study: "You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations".

The Blue Planet science prize winners for 2008 are:-
          Claude Lorius - the French palaeoclimate scientist on glacial-interglacial transitions (he has done core work says Jonathan - his work has been fundamental to climate change science and on ice cores).
          José Goldemberg - the Brazilian energy expert who championed technological leapfrogging for developing nations.
Both gave commemorative lectures at the UN University in Tokyo and received 50 million Yen (£25,750 / US$45,800).

The 2008 Midas Awards for European Public Awareness of Science and Enginnering (EuroPAWS) were presented in London with Sir David King (see report in the science and SF Interface section later on). The winning documentaries and films in the various categories decided by jury were:-
          TV Drama or Documentary: Burn Up (United Kingdom). This is a brilliant BBC drama about global warming politics available on DVD.
          General TV: Fata Moranga (Belgium). The programme challenged a town with a number of projects to see if the public would rally round.
          New Media: 'Consequences of Climate Change' an interactive German website combined with two TV programmes.
          Jury's (special) Prize: Waste = Food (Netherlands). Documentary on recycling. This category was open to all category entrants and decided on by the jury.

The 2008 Utopiales prizes have been awarded. Summary con report below. The principal category award wins were:-
          The Julia Verlanger Prize: La Vieille Anglaise et le Continent [Old English and the Mainland] by Jeanne-A Debats.
          The Art & Fact Prize: Gilles Francescano
          Le Prix Européen Utopiales des Pays de la Loire: Seigneurs de l'Olympe [Lords of Olympus] by Javier Negrete (Which comes with 3,000 Euros (£2,160, US$4,000).) The short-list was derived from nominations by a number of specialist bookshops and a jury came to the final decision.
          Grands Prix De L'Imaginaire [The Great Imagination Prizes]
          European Prize: La Ville Européenne dans la Littérature Fantastique du Tournant du Siècle (1860-1915) [ The European City in Fantasy Literature at the Turn of the Century (1860-1915)] by Corinne Fournier Kiss.
          Best New French Book: La Vieille Anglaise et le Continent [The Old English and the Mainland] by Jeanne-A Debats.
          Prize for Best Francophone Book: L'Autre Rive [The Other Shore] by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud.
          Prize for Best Foreign Book: L'Enfant Crystal [The Child Crystal] by Theodore Roszak.
          Prize for Best New (translated to French) Foreign Book: La Jeune Détective et Autres Histoires Étranges [The Young Detective and Other Strange Stories but we think this relates to The Girl Detective and Other Strange Stories] by Kelly Link.
          Prize Best Graphic Novel Art : Jean-Baptiste Monge for Comptines Assassines [Comptines Assassins] by Pierre Dubois.
          Prize for Best Essay: 'Solutions non satisfaisantes: une anatomie de Robert A. Heinlein' ['Unsatisfactory Solutions: An Anatomy of Robert A. Heinlein'] by Ugo Bellagambe et Eric Picholle. (Apparently this was published as a monograph.)
          Special Prize: Les éditions du Bélial pour les inédits de Poul Anderson et 'Le Grand livre de Mars' de Leigh Brackett [The editions of Bélial with unpublished Poul Anderson and Leigh Brackett's 'The Big Book of Mars']
          Prix du Jury Cinéma (film decided by jury panel): From Inside by John Bergin.
          Le Prix Sci Fi du Public (film decided by vote): Tres Días [Before The Fall] by Javier Gutiérrez.
          Special Jury Mention (decided by jury panel): Tres Días [Before The Fall ] by Javier Gutierrez.
Notes on the wins: First up - the double award-winning film Tres Días [Before The Fall]. Now our regulars know that we - ahem - seem to have a certain knack for highlighting likely winners of English language SF awards but it seems that in this instance outside strictly Anglophone SF we were also on the ball regarding Tres Días [Before The Fall] as we noted back last summer that it was causing a stir in Spain.   Next up - the essay prize win. This is where it would be rather helpful if Ugo Bellagambe et Eric Picholle worked with someone (probably in Canada) to get their monograph, 'Solutions non satisfaisantes: une anatomie de Robert A. Heinlein' ['Unsatisfactory Solutions: An Anatomy of Robert A. Heinlein'], translated into English... Hint, hint. Meanwhile an English fantasy publisher straddling both sides of the Atlantic might like to take on La Vieille Anglaise et le Continent [Old English and the Mainland] by Jeanne-A Debats. It not only won a Grands Prix De L'imaginaire and the The Julia Verlanger but also see below...!

The Grand Prize of French SF has been announced. The 15 strong jury under the chairmanship of André Ruellan announced the results in November and included a meal in Paris.
          New SF: La Vieille Anglaise et le Continent [Old English and the Mainland] by Jeanne-A Debats.
          New Book: Les tours de Samarante [Samarian Towers] by Norbert Merjagnan.
Note: This is Jeanne-A Debats third award in a month! (See above.)

France's Prix Rene Goscinny for (French) graphic novels has gone to Chloé Cruchaudet. This prize annually rewards a young graphic novelist to encourage further career development. Chaired by Anne Goscinny and with last year's winner also on the jury, the prize has gone to 32 year old Chloé and her novel Groenland Manhattan [Greenland Manhattan]. The prize will be officially presented at the beginning of February (2009) shortly after we post this news page.

China's Galaxy Awards have been announced. There was no conference this year but then the aftermath of the earthquake does make this very understandable. The awards were mailed to recipients with the exception of the award for 'Best Foreign Author' as Neil Gaiman was present and gave a speech at Sichuan University. The wins were decided by jury with the exception of the SF World readers' prizes that were nominated by the magazine's readers. Please note that there was some confusion in the reports we have received and we are unsure if some of the below were nominations or whether there were some ties in some categories. Anyway as far as we know the wins were:-
Science Fiction
Best SF Short Stories
          'The Eternal Wave' by La La
          'Road 674' by Chang Jia
          'Elsewhere' by Luo Longxiang
Readers' SF Short Story Prizes
          'The Bubble' by Wang Jinkang
          'If' by He Xi
          'The Unexpected Thunder' by Yan Leisheng
          'The Summer in Grandma's House' by Hao Jingfang
          'The Post-Ice-Age Chronicle' by Wanxiangfengnian
Fantasy
Best Fantasy Novella: 'I'm a Cat Fairy' by Xiao Lang
Best Fantasy Short Story: Best Short Story: 'Strange Tales from Jianghu' by Benshaoye
Readers Fantasy Novels
          Number Thirteen in Chinatownby Ming Ling
          A Song of Xiling by Qiufengqing
Readers' Fantasy Novellas
          'Miss Xiaoqian' by Ming Ling
          'The Legend of Jingqiu' by Jingjiangxiao
Readers' Fantasy Short Stories
          'The Psychologist' by Baifanrushuang
          'Lost in 200x' by Fei Dao
          'The Holy Light' by Wen Zhou
          'Heroes' by Dushuzhiren
Best SF & Fantasy Artist: Li Tao
Most Popular Foreign Writer: Neil Gaiman (see news of Neil below)

The Czech Republic's Karel Capek [Karla Èapka] Awards were presented at Parcon. This actually took place at the end of August but we only received news as we were link-checking last season's posting early in September. This year's wins were:-
          Novel: Woman in the Winter Garden [ Žena v Zimní Zahradì] by Martin Koutný.
          Short Novelette: Paganini [Paganini] by Milan Bøezina.
          Short Story: Amoebae on the Slide [ Mìòavka na Sklíèku] by Vladimír Nìmec.
This year there were 134 entries from 95 authors. The Karel Capek Awards have been given since 1982 to encourage new writers. They are determined by a large jury that tries as far as possible to include representatives of the Republic's major SF groups. Karel (or Carl) Capek [Karla Èapka] (1890-1938) was, of course, arguably the Czech Republic's most famous SF author who is perhaps best known in the west for coining the word 'robot' (1923). The categories reported here are translations from Czech that relate to slightly shorter versions of the Hugo categories: this is purely because those of most of our regulars who are into awards are probably more familiar with Hugos. Long and very long novels are ineligible for the award.

Germany's Fantastic Prizes for fantasy in 2007 were awarded at the BuchmesseCon book fayre cum convention in October. The principal category wins were for:-
          Best Novel: Tintentod [Tintentod] by Cornelia Funke.
          Best Translated Novel: Harry Potter und die Heiligtümer des Todes [Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows] by Joanne K. Rowling.
          Best First Novel: Fairwater oder Die Spiegel des Herrn Bartholomew [Still Water or Mr. Bartholomew's Mirror ] by Oliver Plaschka.
          Best Original Anthology: Drachenstarker Feenzauber [Dragon-slayer Feenzauber] edited by Petra Hartmann.

Seville's Premio Athenea Prize for 2008 has been awarded to Felix J. Palma for El Mapa del Tiempo [The Map of Time]. Felix Palma therefore picks up €43,000 (£28,000). The novel draws on H. G. Wells Time Machine and also sees appearances by the Elephant Man and Bram Stoker.

Catalan's UPC Prize (Universita Politécnica de Cataluña) for its SF story competition has been won by Eduardo Gallego Arjona and Guillem Sánchez Gómez for their novella 'La cosecha del centauro' ['The Centaur's Harvest'] and they pick up €6,000 (£5,000, US$6,000). The runner's up were Alain Le Bussy (see below for further information) and Gerardo Benicio Da Fonseca who each pick up €1,500 (£1,300, US$1,500). We are told there were a good number of entries this year.

Finland's Kuvastaja Award for best fantasy novel went to Viides Tuuli [The Fifth Wind] by Päivi Honkapää. The award is a juried decision by Finaland's Tolkien Society and this year's winner is also the author's debut novel; it apparently has had other critical acclaim. The announcement was made during Helsinki's Book Fayre and this is the award's eighth year.

The best books of 2008 as far as we are concerned included (in author alphabetical order):-
          Incadescence by Greg Egan. A hard SF, first encounter story at the Galaxy's centre.
          House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds. A masterful deep-time space opera. Now come on folks this guy surely deserves a Hugo at some stage! (Alastair will be attending the 2010 Euroconference (see below))
          Swiftly by Adam Roberts. Despite our slightly cautionary review here this novel came out well in our team's end-of-year round Robin. It is a sequel to Gulliver's Travels with a decidedly SFnal riff.
On the fantasy front there was:-
          The Kingdom Beyond the Waves by Stephen Hunt. A masterful and colourful science fantasy.
          The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan. A gritty, violent and fast-paced adventure.
Please note that these are our personal choices, though from past years it does seem (ahem) that we have a knack of selecting a few forthcoming award winners. So it will be interesting to see what 2009 brings these authors in the way of accolades.
Our considered best debut was:-
          Martin Martin's on the Other Side by Mark Wernham.

The best films of 2008 as far as we are concerned included (in alphabetical order):-
          Batman: Dark Knight DC superhero fun with a darker portrayal of the Batman and an acclaimed heath Ledger portrayal of the Joker that rivals Jack Nicolson's.
          Dante 1. A French horror set in deep space concerning a new arrival at a prison but is something else also coming in?
          The Day The Earth Stood Still. This is the remake of the 1951 classic. It has to be said that our team was a little divided on this one in that we all liked the original but, while this new version has some great effects and good scenes (such as the mind control in the interrogation), it had sloppy references to the original film and such poor attention to detail (for example the London bus pictured never goes to that part of the city) as well as logic and character flaws (the alien's contempt for human laws and life despite being a law enforcer here with a message to protect life). Alas these are apparent to all but the most superficial of viewings. Anyway, you can decide for yourself. Great romp, despite being dire SF and a crap re-make with all the subtlety of a miners' outing. Perhaps then this was not so much a 'best film' of 2008 but a 'notable film of 2008'.
          Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Del Toro's acclaimed action adventure sequel to the cinematic adaptation from the graphic novel about a (nice devil-looking) creature who helps protect mankind from monsters.
          Iron Man enjoyable Marvel superhero romp. Tony Stark is Iron Man.
          Schrodinger's Girl. A physicist has to come to terms with the real nature of 'reality' in this British independent.
          Sleep Dealer. Mexican near-future cyberpunk about a dream trader operating under the nose of a military-police type regime.
          Time Crimes. Spain's interconnected time loops film.
Please note that these are our choices and are not the British box office SF top chart films which for 2008/9 we will as usual present with our post-Easter upload. Having said, that given previous years the DVD sales of those we choose for the above 'our choice of best of year' seem to have a track record of doing reasonably well bearing in mind our cult selection.

The Batman is dead, long live the Batman. Villain Simon Hurt shot the Batman in the 26th November issue (dated December number 681) of the comic. The story is by Scottish graphic novel writer Grant Morrison whose credits include The Filth and WE3 and Batman veteran with titles such as Arkham Asylum. Batman's death is of course not final. It is Bruce Wayne who is now out of the picture so enabling a new Batman to take over. Having said that in the next issue of Batman it soon became apparent that there was some wriggle room in the story. Had the Batman really died? By now Batman devotees will know the answer...+++ This is not the first time DC has killed off a major character as Superman was killed in 1992 by the monstrous Doomsday; all rather unconvincing it must be said. He was then resurrected by Kryptonian technology. (Yawn.) Marvel comics too have killed off their icons and Captain America died in 2007.

The French genre magazine Khimaira [Chimera] is dead! Long live Khimaira! Fabien Martinet has announced that the French high street fantasy & SF colour magazine Khimaira had its last edition published back in October. The news came following several months of uncertainty due to the long-term decline in sales. Finally the publishers, Spootnik, decided enough was enough and pulled the plug. However all is not lost. Apparently some of the editorial team have decided to have a go at putting the magazine on the internet. We await further 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 2009

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

Forrest J. Ackerman sadly died (see the news in our RIP section below) early in December but not before he got a chance to see some of his own obituaries as, according to a number of websites, he died early in November when actually in early November he was celebrating his 92 birthday. The proclamations fuelled the rumour in cyberspace that was picked up by a few key non-English SF sites in several different languages that then further promulgated matters. (In fact one of us - alarmed at first - had picked this up from a French website.) Forrest at 92 was frail and friends and admirers had apparently been visiting while they had the opportunity. If Forrest heard of his demise in cyberspace we hope he had a chuckle at his Tom Sawyer moment.

David Cronenberg is writing a book as we previously told you, so 8 months on here's the update. At a film festival in Rome he revealed that he had written 60 pages: so it is not exactly going fast. We also learned that it will not be horror or SF... But, hang on, didn't the man say before that he was being inspired by Ballard and that it was a murder thriller with a biomedical undertone? Now David you wouldn't be getting literary pretensions would you and distancing yourself from the genre..?

Thomas Disch wake was held in the autumn. Following last time's sad news of author Thomas Disch's death his wake was held on the US remembrance Saturday at the New York City flat of author Alice Turner. There Dana Gioia recited one of Tom's poems, and Richard and Christiana Sutor had photographic prints of Tom, some of which have also appeared in Locus magazine's tribute. Among those present were: John Crowley, Ellen Datlow, Samuel Delany, Ben Downing, Christopher Ecker, Scott Edelman, Gregory Feeley, Jacob Weisman, Henry Wessells, Sheila Williams and members of Disch's Minnesota family.

Kenneth Grahame's children's fantasy The Wind in the Willows had its 100th anniversary of publication (8th October 2008) and has been more or less continually in print ever since. The Christmas pantomime spin-off The Toad of Toad Hall has also been popular.

Neil Gaiman visited China back in September just as we were posting our Autumnal news. He went to Sichuan which is the home of China SF World magazine which had just given him a Galaxy award (see SF awards above) and where he gave a speech at Sichuan University. He then went on to Yingxiu, the epicentre of China's 5.12 Earthquake. There he went to a temporary school, and met a little over a hundred kids to whom he handed stationery and books. Alas almost 300 of their friends were killed by the Earthquake and many of them had lost family members. Neil commented on his blog 'incredible resilience of the people there made me marvel'.

Henry Gee, bioscience editor and 'SF Futures' commissioner at Nature, has published the first part of his SF trilogy as a print-on-demand novel at Lulu.com. Apparently - so we are told - this is the future of publishing. Alas there is no ISBN and so we cannot list it in our forthcoming books section (books in print necessitates ISBNs). However it is called Siege of Stars: Book 1 of the Sigil and has an ID number 2775440. It is a mix of hard SF and lablit romance with a space opera element. (Without the ISBN you'll need to order from Lulu.com.)

Stephen Hawking has announced that he will retire as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University on 1st October. University tradition is that professorships are passed on when the owner is in their 67th year. Stephen Hawking will continue at the university in an honorary capacity. The post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge was once held by Sir Isaac Newton.

Danny John-Jules (the actor who played 'cat' in Red Dwarf) has been found guilty by Brent (London) magistrates of assault on two Council workers who refused to empty his bin as it contained polystyrene.

Ellen Kushner - Obama merde! Ellen has been touring France promoting A la Pointe de l'Epée [Swordspoint]: doing signings, being interviewed by radio and a sort of French news-reviews site sort of equivalent of Concat (ActuSF) as well as being videoed for the French equivalent of You-Tube etc. A high point was appearing at the SF Utopiales along with Greg Bear, Robin Hobb and William Gibson. However she had the wind somewhat taken out of her sails with all the European interest in the US Presidential election (seems like the Yanks are re-discovering democracy after last times electoral role cleansing, hanging chad challenges, and other Republican machiavellian japes). A particularly unsettling moment came when a Frenchwomen - on seeing Ellen's Obama badge (button) - said "Merde, Obama!". Was the woman aligning Obama with solid animal detritus?! However Ellen's preferred hypothesis came when she recalled that the French have this unusual idiom which roughly means 'break a leg'.

Alain le Bussy has been awarded by the Jury of the UPC Science Fiction Prize a runners-up special mention and € 1,500 for his novella Flowers of Vlau. These grow on a third rate colony and offer a cure-all medicine for everything (possibly including ageing). There were 96 novellas sent to the UPC Jury, from Spain, South America, North America, UK, France and just one - Alain's -- from Belgium. +++ Regulars may recognise Alain's name as one frequently from our acknowledgements paragraph at the news page's bottom.

Gail Z. Martin has been on a promotional tour with a difference - and it is the first time we have come across something like this but probably not the last. She has had a World tour but in cyberspace appearing on specific blogs at specific dates at the end of October. Blog host nationalities included Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. Details on Gail's website.

Andre (Alice Mary) Norton's estate dispute is possibly over. Andre Norton, who died in 2005 left her residuals (value after tangibles such as house and money not specifically assigned) to her carer Sue Stewart. Meanwhile a long-standing fan, Victor Horadam, was to receive rights and royalties on works published after her death. (There was ambiguity as to whether this meant royalties from previous works sold after her death.) However Horadam contended that he was better placed to manage the rights to all Andre Norton's books than Stewart and so the matter went to the Tennessee courts. The Court has ruled that Sue Stewart will get the rights and royalties to Andre Norton's works published before her death (including reprints) and Victor Horadam those unpublished at the time of her death (which we at Concat think may also mean new editions (especially where rights have lapsed) as opposed to reprints of old editions). Previously a judge in Rutherford County ruled in favour of Victor Horadam, saying Norton used the terms 'royalties' and 'copyrights' interchangeably in her will and 'posthumous publication' meant any works, including reprints. The new ruling changes this. The previous judge also said Horadam had greater appreciation for the literary works than the caretaker. Reprints and new works of Andre Norton have been on hold the past three years. If the new ruling goes unchallenged (i.e. there is no counter appeal) then we may soon again see new editions of old and as yet unseen Norton books on bookshop shelves. As you may know, Andre Norton wrote more than 130 books over a 70-year career and become the first woman to win major SF awards.

Terry Pratchett handed in a 20,000 strong petition to Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Downing Street to call for more research into Alzheimer's. He then had an hour meeting with the Prime Minister together with the Health Minister. He said: "We have got used to the idea of Alzheimer's is part of getting old. It isn't!" His view was that we tend to consider the elderly getting a bit eccentric or odd as being a natural part of aging and that this needs to change. Last year Terry revealed he had a form of early Alzheimer's that was a bit of an embuggerance. +++ Terry had an hour programme on national BBC Radio 4 at midday on Christmas day. In With Great Pleasure he shared some of the science and SF he has on his library shelves with a live audience. +++ The New Year saw Terry Knighted.

J. K. Rowling has donated £1 million (US$1.75m) to Britain's Labour political party on the grounds that its track record shows it more likely to help less well-off families. She is quoted as saying: "The Labour government has reversed the long-term trend in child poverty, and is one of the leading EU countries in combating child poverty." Rowling's own wealth is estimated to be somewhere around £550 million (US$980). Currently Labour is some £17.9m in debt following the 2005 general election. (For our US visitors, Labour is sort of equivalent to Democrat and the UK Conservative party is a bit like your Republican. We also have a minority Liberal Party holding the centre and which historically (19th century) used to be big. The other well-known party is the Monster Raving Loony Party who frequently have a number of candidates standing but alas have never one a seat in Parliament even though some of its policies have come to pass: such as turning the Houses of Parliament into a children's play area, and indeed the House of Commons now has a crèche - Rowling no doubt approves.)

Robert Rankin, further to last season's news of the then forthcoming publication of his 30th novel, Necrophenia, Robert have been out and about. He has had a promotional tour of the UK starting off in Chiswick (appropriately near Brentford where many of his novels are set) with a weekend of activities mid-January: a sort of mini-Rankin con but with more than one venue. The tour came full circle ending up with a signing at central London's SF bookshop Forbidden Planet.

Louis Savy proudly reports a new addition to the Savy-Gorman household with the birth at home of Anton. Our congratulations to the parents, and if you see Louis asleep at Sci-Fi London 2009 then now you know why.

Robert Sawyer is having his novel Flashforward (1999) turned into a TV series. A CERN particle experiment causes everyone on Earth to see their consciousness 21 years hence for just two minutes: i.e. have a two-minute glimpse of their future. One physicist character does not have a flashforward and finds out he will be murdered. Can he find out who will kill him and prevent it from happening? +++ David Goyer will be directing the one-hour pilot in Los Angeles in February. If they like it ABC will take it on.

William Shatner is apparently rather miffed at (again apparently) not being invited to fellow Star Trek star George Takei's wedding. Other original Trek leads were there. William Shatner has posted his views on YouTube (see our video clips section below) where it attracted nearly a quarter of a million views and nearly a thousand comments in just a couple of days. George Takei's reported response has been to say that he had been invited. One theory is that William Shatner accidentally mistook the unopened invite letter as junk mail and inadvertently discarded it.

George Takei had barely settled into nuptial bliss when he was whisked off to the Australian jungle to take part in the Brit TV series I'm A Celebrity get Me Out Of Here. Now it has to be said - no offence George - that the participants are either very minor folk with no talent currently on our TV screens or they are former stars and celebrities whose peak fame was a decade or so ago. George Takei falls into this latter group and with others he camped out in the jungle and took part in trials. These included getting covered in swampy mud and having to eat nasty things like live cockroaches. To his credit George was one of three who made it through (by viewers' votes) to the final.

Martin Taylor, the Manchester U. mathematician and current Vice President of the Royal Society, was Knighted as part of the New Year's Honours list.

David Tennant announces departure from Dr Who, as BBC reveals Dr Who origins back in 1960s, and former Doctors re-unite - see below and new actor profile book. +++ David Tennant has had a great autumn on stage in London playing Hamlet. However before Christmas he had to cut short his run due to a slipped disc necessitating surgery.

Jeff and Ann VanderMeer have returned from a European tour that took in the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary. The principal event of the Czech component was the Czech national convention and 2008 Euroconference Parcon where Jeff was able to sign copies of the Czech edition (Laser-Books) of the collection of shorts New Weird, translated asNew Weird he and Ann edited. One highlight following the con was (literally) a beer bath courtesy of the Parcon organisers.   The Romania leg of their tour also saw signings of the Romanian edition (Millennium Press) of the New Weird collection, translated into Romanian asNew Weird. There were a couple of bookshop signings in the capital Bucharest before they made their way to Timisoara (home of the 1st (1999) and 2nd (2003) International Weeks of SF) for another signing and meeting a number of fans from the city's two SF groups: H. G. Wells and Helion.

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 2009

FILM NEWS

Spanish time travel film doing well and Los Cronocrímenes [Time Crimes] might repeat success in US and UK? The film came out last summer in Spain and before Christmas in the US. Directed by Nacho Vigalondo, it is a multi-time loop story and the word is you might want to keep an eye out for it. Plot summary here.

Spiderman 4 gets Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright for its screenplay. Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Rabbit Hole as well as Inkheart and Robots. This could mean that Spidy 4 might be more angst and character-driven.

Star Wars to become a musical. Star Wars: A Musical Journey is being produced by Lucasfilm and composer John Williams. In it the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will play a live score as excerpts from the six films are shown on a cinema screen. The six Star Wars films have been edited down to two hours for the show, and Williams has 'painstakingly rewritten' his music. The show will premiere at the O2 arena (The Dome) in Greenwich, London in April before a European tour.

The 1956 classic Forbidden Planet is to be updated by Warners. Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski is working on the screenplay. However this is not the first reported attempt at an update: James Cameron, Nelson Gidding and Stirling Silliphant have all been involved with previous attempts. Forbidden Planet came 5th in the mega survey Concatenation of European fans conducted in 1987 and came in the top ten of the Blackwood poll (2003) of Worldcon fans (mainly N. American).

Universal Soldier III possible but lack of decent script causes actor doubt. The lack of a decent story to add to the Universal Soldier story arc is giving pause to co-star Dolph Lundgren. It looks like the studios want to do this on the cheap and are not giving the original two stars - Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren - much screen time. Lundgren is reported as being uneasy about this and being associated with a shoddy production.

Hobbit film update. Further to last time's news that Guillermo del Toro is to direct both Hobbit films, he is now in the middle of writing the screen story for both films so that they are a seamless whole. However the process is throwing up new story dimensions. This means that other aspects of pre-production (such as casting) cannot yet take place. However he revealed that he is keen to use some of the SFX techniques trialled for Hellboy II but which could not be properly developed due to lack of budget. These are likely to include muscle-driven, radio-controlled suits.

New Judge Dredd film on the way! The new version will be made by Rebellion and production company DNA Films. It could be good as Rebellion actually own the 2000AD comic in which the 'Judge dredd' strip appears. Meanwhile DNA made the visually spectacular film Sunshine (albeit with a disappointing SF plot) and the brilliant bio-apocalyptic 28 Days Later. Other than 2000AD making ashort, official announcement on their website confirming this news, there are as yet no other details. 2000AD readers may remember that Hollywood got their paws on Judge Dredd back in 1995 with Sylvester Stallone in the lead star role as Judge Dredd. This version mangled the Dredd story and saw Dredd remove his helmet (a no no as he is mant to represent the dispassionate, faceless, embodiement of the law). However some of the imagery, the ABC warrior, the Cursed Earth and the landscape look of Mega City 1 (but not its street look) was remarkably faithful.

The new Invisible Man film progresses. Further to our news autumn 2007 of the likely new film, David Goyer has completed the script and hopes to start shooting towards the end of the year.

Plans for the new Champions film are progressing. Further to last year's news of a film version of the old British TV series, it looks like it will be co-written and produced by Christopher McQuarrie and might possibly star Tom Cruise. United Artists are behind the film adaptation.

New version of the Robo Cop film proposed. Darren Aronofsky is hoping to bring the film back to the 1987 original Paul Verhoeven hard-core portrayal. The 1987 films sequels had the original's violence and gritty nature watered down and the TV series saw even further dilution. Darren Aronofsky says he is not worried about losing non-adult film certification.

Will Smith talks of two sequels...

1.   I Am Legend to have a prequel. It would be set in the final days before human life is wiped out in New York, the last US city to fall to the plague. The original film was, of course, based on the Matheson novel.

2.   Hancock sequel being considered. The possible film would see an expansion of the concept and Hancock's world.

 

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy....

Film clip download tip!: Worldcon 2009 and 2010 Chairs say why you should go to their cons. Pacific Fen interview the two Worldcon Chairs for Canada in 2009 and Australia in 2010. See the 9 minute clip here.

Film clip download tip!: Worldcon 2008 series of short views -- See the three-and-a-half minute clip here.

Film clip download tip!: Author Harry Harrison was interviewed by writer and Euro-fan Roberto Quaglia at the 2007 Eurocon in Copenhagen. -- See the 8 minute clip here.

Film clip download tip!: William Shatner wonders why he did not get invited to George Takei's wedding. . -- See the couple of minutes clip here.

Film clip download tip!: 40 Motivational speeches in just 2 minutes!!! In the mix there are a few SFnal and fantasy lines including Captain Picard and from Independence Day. See how many others you can recognise. The two-minute clip is here.

40 Motivational speeches in just 2 minutes!!! And here is the text of the above clip - You see it does make sense, sort of...

Shame on you. This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you're going to let it be the worst. And I guarantee a week won't go by in your life you won't regret walking out, letting them get the best of you. Well, I'm not going home. We've come too far! And I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause. A day may come when the courage of men fails... but it is not THIS day. The line must be drawn HERE. This far, no further! I'm not saying it's going to be easy. You're going to work harder than you ever worked before. But that's fine, we'll just get tougher with it! If a person grits his teeth and shows real determination, failure is not an option. That's how winning is done! Believe me when I say we can break this army here, and win just one for the Gipper. But I say to you what every warrior has known since the beginning of time: you've got to get mad. I mean plum mad dog mean. If you would be free men, then you must fight to fulfil that promise! Let us cut out their living guts one inch at a time, and they will know what we can do! Let no man forget how menacing we are. We are lions! You're like a big bear, man! This is YOUR time! Seize the day, never surrender, victory or death... that's the Chicago Way! Who's with me? Clap! Clap! Don't let Tink die! Clap! Alright! Let's fly! And gentlemen in England now abed shall know my name is the Lord when I tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our Independence Day!

You know it kinda gets you right there...

For a reminder of the top films in 2007/8 (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 2009 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 2009

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

Brisngr dragon novel gets five-figure re-launch orders in UK and six-figure sales in the first two days. The book is part three of Christopher Paolini's dragon-based 'Inheritance' series for children and is out in the UK from Random House Children's Books.

The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy series of books is to have a sequel!!! Stepping into the late Douglas Adams shoes is Eoin Colfer (a children's author) at the behest of Adam's widow. Penguin are to publish and it will be called And Another Thing.... Doug Adams himself hinted at their being a sixth book as the fifth was the gloomiest of the series and saw the protagonists get blown up. Adam's widow said that Douglas enjoyed having his books published but hated writing. In this sense he might possibly taken some perverse pleasure in someone else taking over the work. Douglas Adams died in 2001 aged 49. The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy was first a radio series broadcast by BBC Radio 4 in 1978. About 16 million copies of Hitch-hiker books have been sold Worldwide to date in 35 languages.

Dracula lives... Well, there is to be a sequel to the original book. HarperCollins will be publishing the sequel to Bram Stoker's novel. Dracula: The Un-Dead was meant to be the original's title but was changed by the publisher: now it will be the title of the sequel. The sequel will be co-written by Stoker's great grand-nephew, Dacre Stoker, along with Ian Holt. Its plot will draw upon notes Bram made and plot elements and characters that never made it to the original novel. Editor Jane Johnson is the commissioning editor behind the venture and the book will come out in the autumn (2009).

SF publisher Pyr is to launch Premium Mass Market size paperbacks. The US based publisher - that also distributes in the UK (with titles in specialist SF shops and Amazon UK) - is launching the new sized format titles from May 2009. With dimensions of 4-1/8 inches x 7-3/8 inches and priced at US$9.98. Premium mass-market paperbacks are taller than the traditional mass market size. This allows for improved readability and cover image area. The first title will be Crossover A Cassandra Kresnov novel by Australian author Joel Shepherd (it was previously published in trade paperback in August 2006). The Cassandra Kresnov novels Breakaway and Killswitch will follow in June and July 2009 respectively. Cassandra Kresnov is a highly advanced hunter-killer android who defected from her League Dark Star special ops assignment, seeking the quiet life of a civilian, but then becomes unwillingly embroiled in dangerous interplanetary intrigue. Shepherd is known for his strong female protagonists, his gripping action sequences, and his rich depiction of Byzantine political machinations. +++ Pyr also has plans for e-books.

PS Publishing celebrates 10th anniversary in 2009 with special offers. The offers mean it is a great chance to pick up some bargains from their backlist. This is something that SF book readers will certainly want to check out as PS Publishing is noted for doing special editions and luxury prints. For example last year they did the 50th anniversary edition of the Arthur Clarke Tales From the White Hart. For instance they are doing 10 trade novellas for £40 [US$60 approx.]. Our congratulations.

Gollancz authors reveal what superpower they want ('America' says one) and who they would take an alien visitor to meet. This year the Gollancz autumnal party in London was brought to You-Tube, all in the aid to answer weighty questions. Clip here.

Hachette-Livre in Britain drops Livre...! It is not that serious, it is a branding decision and so its British Isles operation will now be known as Hachette-UK. Orion's SF imprint Gollancz is part of the Hachette operation.

2009 sees the BIG boys seek even more market share as the next few stories reveal...

Hachette-UK seeks more market share. Hachette-UK boss, Tim Hely Hutchinson is of the opinion that Hachette is not going to get the growth it needs to pay for rising costs out of the market and so is having to increase market share. What this undoubtedly means is that the same production, editorial and marketing staff are going to have to produce more titles from more authors attracted from other publishing houses or get new quality talent. Overall 2008 saw Hachette begin to realise this goal. Hachette's share of the British book market increased from 15.5% to 15.9% in the year September 2007 to September 2008. Hachette-UK has the SF imprint Gollancz as part of its operation.

Russia's Eksmo turns to London for brand boost. Outside of the British Isles, one of the largest SF/fantasy publishing nations in Europe is Russia (in terms of numbers of copies of books printed as opposed to numbers of titles). The biggest SF/F publisher in Russia is undoubtedly Eksmo who won a Eurocon Award in 2007 and who, it has to be said, also do far more other stuff as well. Though Eksmo is already Russia's biggest publishing house it - like Hachette-Livre in the UK - is seeking even more market share. To this end it has employed the British branding consultants SCG London, and so our far eastern European cousins can expect to see Eksmo sport a new image later in the year.

The Bookseller Association has published a report on International Market Comparisons. Apparently the average Brit spends £58 a year buying 6 books whereas the average Yank spends £92 buying 10 books a year. The Irish tend to buy 5 books, the Dutch 6 but the Swedish come close to Americans buying 9 a year.

Google and US publishers have come to a provisional deal after a 3-year legal tussle. Google has paid US publishers US$125 million (£77.5m) so that Google Book Search can now be used to both browse and buy books online. US users will be able to search and preview some 7 million texts on-line. Revenue from advertising and sales will be split 63% to 37% between the publishers and Google. The deal is currently provisional and follows a court case brought by the authors' guild and five publishers in 2005. It applies to the US only though Google is seeking ways that this might be extended to other countries. A spokesperson for the UK Society of Authors has commented that it is a major development as at last Google has accepted the principle that copyright clearance is needed and payment made. However some UK book trade folk are concerned that Google could become too dominant. +++ Google brands Concatenation as having malware. As noted earlier in the editorial Concat was hacked twice in November and code re-directing visitors to a malware site was inserted. (Twice because we had not been given replacement codes from our space provider who was himself hacked which is how the codes were lost: we now have new codes.) In both instances the hack was spotted within a few hours and only one page was affected. However Google branded all of Concat (well over a thousand pages) as having damaging content and did so for a few weeks. A somewhat disproportionate response. (Those registered with our Site Update Alert service need not panic as we look after that database ourselves (not our webspace provider) and we also use a completely separate system and this data has never been compromised.) +++ November saw. Google make the majority of one of our team member's books free online. Jonathan's UN Environment Programme acclaimed Climate Change book saw some 80% freely accessible through Google books without either the author's or the publisher's permission! Other titles were also affected including The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. Cambridge University Press was hot on the case and the situation resolved within a week so that now only some 10% is freely available as sample pages.

Over 800 authors say no to age banding for children's books. Over 800 authors have now signed up to no to age banding. Terry Pratchett is one genre author supporting the campaign to stop publishers putting recommended reading ages on the covers of books, and last time we reported Philip Pullman was championing this cause.

SF/fantasy authors band together to present their work direct to readers with website. see story in our Net Watch section.

UK libraries have declining book spend for a third year in a row! The LISU Public Library Materials Fund and Budget Survey has shown that for the year 2006/7 to 2007/8 overall public library spend on books was down 1% (more than that in real terms). The British Government's Department of Culture Media and Sport in October launched a review of British public libraries and this is due to report later this year (2009).

British kids cause comics boost despite British teenagers turning away from buying magazines. The market research outfit Mintel have released a report showing that the UK market for comic-strip magazines and graphic novels has grown to £136 million a year (2008), up an amazing 72% since 2003! New titles for children such as Dr Who Adventures and In the Night Garden are popular. But old favourites such as the Beano and Dandy also have strong circulations. However this growth is despite a decline in the market for teenager magazines by 61%. Graphic novels also buck this declining teenage trend. Mintel forecast that the ales of comics in the UK are set to increase a further 21% to reach £165 million by 2013

More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in March. 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 2009

TV NEWS

Dr Who origins. The BBC has released archival papers that show that back in the 1960s it had little faith in the series and even appointed a woman producer in anticipation of the show failing! Early versions of ideas for the show that ultimately became Dr Who include one for a programme to be called Time Patrol. Other ideas considered were for the protagonist being immortal (this turned into him transforming into a new incarnation every so often) and his searching for an enemy who was bent on undermining the universe. Also the Daleks almost never happened as one of the series early rules was no bug-eyed monsters or robots! The documents came to light due to a rolling BBC research programme of trawling through its archives and releasing those thought to be of public interest. More at BBC here.

7 surviving Doctors of Dr Who to reunite! Tom Baker (1974-1981) (who is now the voice of Little Britain), Peter Davidson (1981-'84) (whose daughter Georgia Moffett has also recently featured in the programme and who is now dating the current doctor, David Tennant), Colin Baker (1984-'86), Sylvester McCoy (1987 -'89 and 1996), Paul McGann (1996) and Christopher Eccleston (2005) may well be appearing in one of the forthcoming Dr Who specials. The BBC's press office is being coy and we at Concat do hope that this story is not a reference to the pictures of the early doctors shown as part of the recent 2008 Christmas special...

David Tennant to end as Dr Who! The announcement came after once again the show won the public-voted National Television Awards at the end of October (see next item). As we noted a year ago there will be four Dr Who specials this year. We now know that Tennant will leave the show after these so the new Dr will have their first whole episode in 2010. However Tennant revealed that he almost delayed leaving by a season when he learned that the show would have a new executive producer. He said: 'What became very difficult was when it was announced that Steven Moffatt was taking over because I'm such a fan of his, he's such a great writer, he's written such amazing stories for me in Doctor Who already.' As for Scottish Tennant's replacement, he himself recommended wee Jimmy Krankie! (Now that will flummox our non-Brit regulars but we will leave you the joy of a Google to find out.)
+++ STOP PRESS: Matt Smith is cast as the 12th (including Peter Cushing) Doctor. At just 26 years old he is the youngest actor cast in the role. His previous roles have included the BBC's versions of The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North, both of which featured former Dr Who assistant Billie Piper.

Dr Who wins National Television Awards again! Unlike the BAFTAs, Britain's National TV Awards are voted on by the public and so the titles of individual categories are not 'Best' actor etc., but 'Most Popular'. The National Television Awards have been going since 1998. Dr Who returning in 2005 saw it (as previously reported) win that year's 'Most Popular Actor' with Christopher Ecclestone, 'Most Popular Actress' with Billie Piper and the series itself 'Most Popular Drama'. It has won awards each subsequent year. The 2008 awards were for 'Outstanding Drama Performance' which went to David Tennant, and the series as usual got 'Most Popular Drama'. David Tennant's Award was accepted by Catherine Tate (who played the Doctor's assistant in 2008) and Tennant gave his acceptance speech via live video-link when he confirmed that he will not be returning to Doctor Who in 2010 (see previous item).

Heroes creator lashes out at viewers. In a bit of convouted argument as to how to watch TV Tim Kring is reported as referring to some viewers as "the saps and the dipshits who can't figure out how to watch it in a superior way." Previously he had apologised to viewers for Season 2's dip in quality. For those who have stuck with it the series has picked up though equally it has become somewhat of a tangled web and difficult to follow. This may well be why it has lost some viewers who after a hard day at work do not want to put that much effort into watching a show, even an accomplished one. Even so Kring's reported lash out is not becoming and his argument (that a complex serial suffers if people dip into it on the internet and by DVD as opposed to watching TV broadcasts sequentially) is not even logical. The internet and DVD enables those who missed (due to having a life) a broadcast episode to keep up with events. Ho hum.
          Heroes may have lost some viewers but still has a reasonably healthy 9.5 million in the US. Heroes US viewing figures may be ones that most TV producers would envy but some look at its first season premiere figure of just under 17 million and see a big fall. However we at Concat like it and it still gets a prime time slot on BBC2 with a late night repeat later in the week and an advance episode on digital BBC3. Even if it is getting a bit complicated, the ride is fun.

New BBC series coming -- Superpower. Not much currently known about this other than it is straight (as opposed to comedy) SF and that it is being penned by Joe Ahearne. His previous TV writing credits include the blood-suckingly brilliant, modern science-fantasy take on vampires Ultra-Violet. BBC are contracting 'Impossible Pictures' to produce and their credits include (the somewhat mediocre) Primevil.

Day of the Triffids new mini-series forthcoming on the BBC. The latest visualisation of the John Wyndham (1951) novel will be produced by BBC Wales and broadcast at the end of the year. The last BBC TV version of the post-apocalyptic Earth (whose population were blinded by meteorites and which has intelligent carnivorous plants) story was in 1981. The Beeb also have done two radio versions. There was also a horrible 1963 film of which the less said the better. This new version is set in 2011 and no doubt the BBC are making the most of the success and the skills they learnt from their other recent, post-apocalyptic re-make, Survivors. +++ More details here

Lost Season 5 will be starting at the end of January. If you gave up on Lost a couple of seasons ago and want to join in for the run up to the end then arguably all you need to know is that time travel is involved. Hop back in and within a few episodes you'll be back in the saddle. A two minute promotional vid-clip is here.+++ Sky gained Lost with season 3 in 2006 in a multi-million pound deal that saw off terrestrial broadcaster Channel 4. (So now only Sky (direct and indirect) subscribers can get it.)

The next Battlestar Galactica TV film will look at the initial events of the series but from the Cylons perspective. This is the second stand-alone Battlestar Galactica film. Called Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, it is slated to air in June 2009. Meanwhile the show has just returned (mid-January 2009) with the remaining episodes of its fourth and final series.

Resistance is a new American TV series in pre-production vaguely in the vein of the 1970s series V. Alien invaders come to Earth and it is up to a band of super-smart teenagers to wage guerrilla strikes at them; all this in between hormones and dating. Andrew Dillon, executive producer of That's-A-Wrap Productions, who conceived the show, is handing the screen-story production of the TV film and show episodes over to Craig Miller. +++ Meanwhile...

V is being re-made. Considering the previous item, alien invasion must be de-rigour: either that or Hollywood is inflicting us with an Iraq detox. Either way, Warner and ABC are going to re-make the 1980s US mini-series about alien lizards invading Earth in a style reminiscent of the Nazis. Kenneth Johnson, one of the moving forces behinds the original V, recently tried to bring back V as V: The Second Generation but he is not involved in this version. A spin-off computer game is also being produced. One of the motivations for the aliens coming to Earth was to steal our water, yet as that is one of the most common compounds in the Universe (and commonly found in comets and oceans of it on some gas giant moons) the original series was not exactly hard-SF. So if we are going to have a re-make inflicted on us, let's hope that they actually put some thought into it this time.

Stargate to boldly go Star Trek. The next series to be spun out of the Stargate franchise will be Stargate Universe. The shows premise will be that a Stargate team ends up stranded on a distant ancient starship (the 'Destiny') and so go exploring the distant reaches of space. Production has begun and a two-hour premiere is expected later this year.

Futurama may be back as a TV series. Following the show's cancellation two straight-to-DVD Futurama films were made: Bender's Big Score and The Beast With a Billion Backs and Bender's Game. These were so successful that we can now look forward to another - Futurama: Green Yonder. If this also sells then it may well see Fox reconsider whether a new TV series might be commissioned. Futurama: Green Yonder comes out in February on DVD and Blu-Ray from 20th Century Fox Home. +++ More DVD releases 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 2009

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

Worldcon 2008 - video clip impressions. See the YouTube clip ''Worldcon 2008 series of short views' in our Film clip download tip section earlier.

Worldcon Chair for Canada 2009, René Walling speaks out. Come to Canada and expose yourself to 'French' and French SF. -- See the YouTube clip 'Worldcon 2009 and 2010 Chairs say' in our Film clip download tip section earlier. +++ Anticipation have launched an on-line registration facility using Paypal for those with Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. +++ The Hugo nomination ballots are now out and can be used by those who ether attended the 2008 Worldcon in Denver or attending or supporting members of Anticipation. +++ Progress Report 3 is out. There will be a strong representation of French language (Francophone) SF plus some 'glimpse' programme items about French SF but held in English. There is no news about the film programme and despite Canada having both a thriving independent film sector and links with both Hollywood and European studios, so it does not look like we will see much in the way of films let alone a glimpse of current cinematic SF about the globe. This is a lost opportunity and a great pity. Fortunately there are other areas of the programme that are looking healthier. The science programme (of undoubted interest to SF & SF Concateneers) will look at both science in SF and SF in science. The latest news here is that Anticipation will have a George Hay Science Room sponsored by the SF Foundation (UK). This will see a science poster display and this is rather an intriguing idea. Now, for those of you who are not scientists, science posters are often displayed at symposia and they summarise science research of relevance to a symposium's topic. So if you are a scientist who is working on something you might think might interest SF folk - be it nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, astronomy, biosphere behaviour, robotics, biotechnology - then feel free to submit a poster. To do this you must summarise your topic and tell the organisers - posters [at] anticipationsf [dot] ca - by 31st March 2009. The best 20 poster topics will be displayed. Finally, for those who do not know who George Hay was, he was a Brit fascinated with the way science and SF inter-related. Despite truly awful handwriting (which made correspondence with the man a real challenge) he did much for the UK SF community and was a driving force behind the creation of the SF Foundation. +++ Accommodation it looks like there are only 1,500 rooms in the 10 hotels the convention are officially using. Even if nearly all of these are double/twins it means that there are less than 3,000 beds. This could be enough if this Worldcon is going to be small (possible bearing in mind the convention programme's initial pitch, the reaction to the last Canadian Worldcon in 2003, and that 2010 sees an Australian and New Zealand double bill for which people might save skipping this year). On the other hand if numbers top 3,000 (which is not that impossible) then there could be a bit of an accommodation shortage. So our advice is if you are going then get yourself sorted sooner rather than later. +++ Numbers going from outside N. America. So given the afore accommodation issue are many going and how many from outside N. America? Well as of the end of 2008 only a little over 2,000 were registered and of these a little over 1,800 from N. America. So it may well be that this year will see a small Worldcon. What is very surprising given the convention's Francophone dimension is that so far only 16 are going from France! This single fact alone is rather telling. +++ Hugo Base design competition won and the winner is Dave Howell, a Seattle based artist. +++ Progress Report 4 is due out in April.

Worldcon Chair for Australia 2010, Perry Middlemiss, speaks out. Come to Australia, learn about the boom in Australian SF of the past decade and experience a continent that stretches from the tropics to the temperate belt and is nearly as wide as the US. -- See the YouTube clip '' Worldcon 2009 and 2010 Chairs say' in our Film clip download tip section earlier.   other than this there is no Worldcon 2010 news further to the win and initial guests reported last time. There should be more news later in the year with the publication of Progress Report 1 and then a burst following this year's Worldcon.

New Zealand national convention the weekend before Worldcon 2010 in Australia. This is just a reminder to the news we broke last time. We mention it because, though there have been no new developments, it may be an additional reason for those in the northern hemisphere to make a trip down under in 2010|: after all the comparatively short hop to New Zealand does not add that much to the travel cost. Those wishing to make this a bit of a special holiday may therefore want to arrive a few days before the New Zealand event to do their tourism and get over jet lag and then do their tourist bit in Australia after the Worldcon.

Links to Worldcon websites can be found from the World SF Society on www.wsfs.org.

 

Meanwhile over in Europe...

Harry Harrison was interviewed by the writer Roberto Quaglia at the 2007 Eurocon (Copenhagen). our Film clip download tip section earlier.

The Parcon Euroconference and Czech national convention took place at the end of August and news reached us a week later as we were link-checking last season's coding (so it just missed last season's newscast). Parcon itself is the Czech and Slovak national convention and a con series that has run since 1982. This year's event was different on two counts. First it was a Euroconference (as designated by the European SF Society in Copenhagen). Second, for the first time it was held in Plzeò (or Pilsen): this being the town famous for its brewery and which gave many European countries the terms Pils and Pilsner (so no surprising part of what comes next).
          The Euroconference's theme was 'New Weird': New Weird being a form of (often urban) fiction that subverts the romanticized ideas about place found in traditional fantasy, largely by choosing realistic, complex real-world models as the setting that frequently combine elements of both science fiction and fantasy. Parcon's Euro dimension largely consisted of its Guests of Honour being non-Czech European with Ian MacLeod (English author), Les Edwards [Edward Miller] (English artist) and Hal Duncan (Scottish author). Also in the mix was GoH Jeff VanderMeer (US author) and his wife as Special Guest, Ann. (Jeff and Ann went on from Parcon to visit other European countries.) The Czech publishers Laser-Books (whose offices are in Plzeò) also featured at the con as they have recently published around a score of New Weird books with cover art by Edward Miller. Thought the 200 or so attending Parcon were Czech, there were other Europeans including a small party of Finns as well as a lone German and a Bulgarian not to mention a Scot living in Italy. The programme was largely in Czech apart from the English guest items and there seemed to be only a little interaction between Czech and non-Czech fans - an unfortunately common occurrence European con occurrence between those attending from host and non-host nations and a bit of a shame especially for Euroconferences. However there was Eurofan and Guest socialising with a fair bit at the PUB (Pilsner Unique Bar) where beer at the tables was literally on tap and delivered from the brewery just down the road. This lead to a drinking competition between tables: an event facilitated by the pub there being electronic scoreboards on the wall and in which the American-Finnish-British-Italian-French-Czech-Scottish beer drinking team put in a fair showing. Parcon also saw the launch (or a celebration of the launch) of Vlado Ríša's new Conan book and the presentation of the Czech annual Karel Capek [Karla Èapka] Awards.

Robert Silverberg drops out of the 2009 Eurocon in Italy. We have heard this indirectly as the 2009 Eurocon organisers do not seem keen on giving out news themselves. (Could be an Italian way of reverse marketing?) Why the change we know not. We understand that there may be one or possibly two replacement guests as there will be a transatlantic air fare saved. We understand that some British authors are included on the replacement shortlist. We have also indirectly heard about the previous Star Trek domination worries. You may recall that there have been concerns that the Captain Janeway TV actor guest might lead to the event being swamped by Italian Star Trek fans. We have heard through an intermediate source that this is not a worry as the Eurocon will not become like Star Trek cons are in the UK and US... (What this means do not ask us, we just report just what they apparently say.) As with this year's Worldcon, if you are going then the advice is to get your accommodation sorted early, and just in case be prepared to dodge the phasers but not to worry: the host town is good for tourist activities and there will at the very least be a small contingent of non-Italian Europeans going, with whom time can be spent even if the Federation and local concerns largely squeezes the European dimension out of this Eurocon's programme. +++ STOP PRESS: More news came in after our Spring news upload but we have added this as the news is time-limited. -- Apparently the Italian Eurocon computer had a glitch and e-mails were lost hence the communication problem. The latest is that Kate Mulgrew has also dropped out but Ian Watson (UK author) and Marina Sirtis (US actress) will be there. US athors Geoffrey A. Landis and Mary Turzillo are likely to be in attendance and the Italian Space Agency may be making a contribution... The Fan GoH will be Boris Sidyuk from the Ukraine (good to see one of the Concat team invited) and he is bringing a small contingent from his country. We have just been told that registrants include fans from Russia, UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Sweden and Greece.

The Czech-Pole Eurocon 2010 is dead quiet. By dead quiet, we have heard zilch: they could really be dead? This is not even the above quiet, reverse-marketing of the Italians. The Czech-Poles do not seem to have a website, venue, guests or any of the basics in place (or if they have then they are keeping it very secret). Remember this was the Eurocon that controversially won its bid due to its aspiration (being a joint nation bid) as opposed to its substance (just a letter of intent sent to the European SF Society (ESFS) officers and read out at Moscow back in May last year: they did not even send a representative to pitch for them). This then says it all and is just a little embarrassing for the European SF Society. (A huge shame since the Copenhagen 2007 Eurocon was so successful.) Consequently, even if many months on, they do finally get their act together, their track record to date does not inspire confidence. So, with regret, in future we will not be wasting your time with further advance coverage of this particular venture. Instead we need some good news. Fortunately, in addition to the official ESFS Eurocon, 2010 sees an official ESFS Euroconference...

The British Odyssey 2010 Euroconference is steaming ahead for Western Europe's Easter 2010. You may recall from last year that, at the 2008 Moscow Eurocon, Odyssey 2010 was granted Euroconference status. Odyssey 2010 was already to be the 2010 UK national convention and organised in a sort of spin-off way by some of the 2008 UK natcon organisers in the same venue next to Heathrow (London) Airport. As such we can expect a convention that will be well over a thousand strong, have four or five parallel programme streams, a good dealers room, an art exhibition and all the usual stuff you will expect. Science fact and fiction Concateneers may especially appreciate that there will be a series of science-related programme items. The convention also hopes to have a European dimension represented on the programme as well as socially. Indeed as part of this last a few of the Concatenation team will be organising a tourist day in London for mainland European visitors to the British Isles. This will take place the Wednesday before the convention. It will give visitors a chance to briefly see many of London's landmarks and to orientate themselves and meet other European visitors, so that the next day (the Thursday) visitors can do their own in-depth exploration. British fans will start arriving at the hotel late Thursday afternoon and early evening. The convention will formally begin on the morning of Friday 2nd April and end late on Monday with a late night dead-dog party (5th April, 2010). In short the Euroconference will neatly fit into a one week, Tuesday-to-Tuesday, visit and with Heathrow airport next door it is all rather convenient (and with a free bus connection every 10 minutes both ways from the airport past the hotel between 06.00 and 23.00 hours). +++ If you can contribute a programme item be it a talk or a panel on (non-British) your country's European SF then please contact Odyssey 2010. +++ STOP PRESS NEWS Odyssey 2010 announces even more Guests of Honour! In addition to the previously announced Guests of Honour - Alastair Reynolds (hard SF and space opera author (see also our best book recommendations of 2008 earlier)), Liz Williams (science fantasy author) and Mike Carey (horror graphic novel writer) - Odyssey 2010 have announced that the hugely acclaimed Scottish SF writer Iain Banks and the Spanish SF comics artist Carlos Ezquerra (famous for appearing in 2000AD) will also be lead guests. Splundig vur Thrigg (as 2000AD's Tharg would say).

Links to Eurocon websites can be found from the European SF Society on www.esfs.info.

For links to Worldcon bid websites check out - http://worldcon.org/bids - the Worldcon bid page.

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 2009

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

SF Utopiales 2008 was another success for the 9th in the convention series founded a decade ago. France's four-day SF Utopiales festival in Nantes at the end of October saw around 40,000 attend; as such it really should be in our Eurocon/Worldcon section above as it is bigger than both those cons together! This year's theme was 'networks'. William Gibson was the principal GoH but the following authors, scientists and film-makers were also in the mix: Jean-Pierre Andrevon, Greg Bear, Jacques Barberi, Stéphane Beauverger, Francis Berthelot, Pierre Bordage, Carole Boudebesse, Alfred Boudry, Jean, Michel Calvez, Jack Campbell, Lucie Chenu, Fabien Clavel, Fabrice Colin, Sophie Dabat, Nathalie Dau, Lionel Davoust, Jeanne-A Debats, Olivier Delcroix, Sylvie Denis, Catherine Dufour, Pierre Dubois, Hal Duncan, Jean-Claude Dunyach, Patrick Eris, Michel Etcheverry, Mélanie Fazi. Caroline Gaillard, Corinne Guitteaud, Tepthida Hay, Johan Heliot, Grégoire Hervier, Robin Hobb, Wolfgang Jeschke, Jess Kaan, Ellen Kushner, Pierre Lagrange, Sylvie Lainé, Christophe Lambert, John Lang, Loïc Le Borgne, Marin Ledun, Antoine Lencou, Jean-Marc Ligny, Meddy Ligner, Adriana Lorusso, Xabi Molia, Xavier Mauméjean, Gilles Ménégaldo, Norbert Merjagnan, Jean, Millemann. Karen Miller. Sylvie Miller. Lucas Moreno. Richard Morgan. Javier Negrete. Jérôme Noirez. Jeff Noon, Pierre Pevel ,Alastair Reynolds, Carina Rozenfeld, Miquel Salarich, Tony Smith, Norman Spinrad, Roland C. Wagner, Philippe Ward, Isabelle Wenta and Joëlle Wintrebert... Phew, that is quite a line up and a fairly international one at that! Fortunately there were six large-halled parallel streams across four days.
          In addition to the writers, scientists and film folk, the bookdealers hall and art show, there was a showcase of ten films from around the World: The Japanese-Franch Nirvana (1996), Japanese-French manga Tokyo Eyes (1998), the US New Rose Hotel (1999), the French La Mort en Direct (1980), the French Le Prix du Danger (1983), the French-Belgian Thomas est Amoureux (2001), the Japanese Kairo (2001), the Japanese La Mort en Ligne (2004), the US La Seconde Guerre De Secession [The Second Civil War] (1997) and the Argentinean Telepolis. And then there were a slew of short films. TV was there too with a screening of the pilot episode of the Canadian series ReGenesis and the French premiere of the first episode of the fourth season. An evening rock concert, an exhibition of Lovecraft illustrations from the Swiss SF museum Maison d'Ailieurs, and the prizes all added to the event. +++ Next year's event will be the tenth. Though it has yet to be formally confirmed the theme currently being discussed is 'Science and conscience'. We also understand that a major North American SF grandmaster (one of whose books has been turned into a film by a leading French director) is being considered as a principal guest.

Portugal holds 4th Fantastic Forum. Held back in October, from Thursday evening to early Sunday night at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon, the Forum saw several authors and artists contribute to a programme of panels, debates, films and all the usual activities you might associate with a British or North American convention albeit for a smaller crowd. One big difference though, the event was free! As such it was more like a small sercon Fincon. The Forum Fantastic aims to provide the public at large an introduction to work of SF artists, authors and scholars, as well as encourage and enrich the study and debate on the Fantastic in Portugal. This year in the mix was British writer Richard Morgan.. The Forum is organized by the Portuguese Association of the Fantastic in the Arts and is supported by several institutions, publishing houses and companies, both Portuguese and international. The first such Forum in 2005 originally came about as a result of a meeting about SF/F literature at the Faculty of Letters of Lisbon and was sufficiently successful for there to be other events each year. We have been told that the first two days of the latest event were definitely the best, with good debates, nice presentations and even better after-event dinners where people mingled with great enthusiasm. Saturday saw Portuguese fantastic films. It was interesting, and attendance was great, but it turned the day into a double feature that split the ambiance: either you were in the "film" crowd, wanting to watch Portuguese shorts like the internet hit The Curve, and documentaries like veteran filmmaker António Macedo's historical and marvellous creative documentary of Surrealist writer Almada Negreiros, , or you were into the lit crowd, eager for the guests - local horror writer David Soares and Brit SF author Richard (Altered Carbon) Morgan - talking about their recent books. Other highlights were presentations about magical realism by academic Paulo Serra, and debates about the future of reading and the state of juvenile fantastic literature (including the infant lit crowd), as well as homages to the national (and deceased) animation legend Nelson Dias, and the for the already mentioned António Macedo (for many years the only Portuguese filmmaker of the fantastic persuasion). Also appearing were Portugeuse writers and publishers such as João Barreiros, Luis Filipe Silva, João Seixas, João Ventura, Jorge Candeias, Nuno Fonseca, from Luis Corte-Real, Luis Rodrigues, Pedro Marques, Ricardo Loureiro and Tiago Gama; a small note goes to the fact that most of these names are known to double as translators, critics, and editors. Also present for their film screenings were David Rebordão, Paulo Prazeres and Fernando Jesus. The Portuguese genre community owes much to the organisers especially Safaa Dib and Rogério Ribeiro for Épica, the Portuguese Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.

BuchmesseCon 23 was in Germany and was the third to be held in the Dreieich venue just to the south of Frankfurt. BuchmesseCon is a cross between a convention and a book fayre and is loosely associated with the autumnal Frankfurt Book Fayre. This year some 300 attended. In addition to a twin track, book orientated programme, of mainly author interviews and readings, there were many book-dealer and SF group stalls. There were also items on German 'Trek' fandom, the TV films of Terry Pratchett's 'Discworld', and Perry Rohdan comics. The 2008 Fantastic Prizes were also presented.

US writer and screen writer Richard Matheson's works have been honoured with a French symposium. Held in the first week of December in Amiens in north France, the two-day event was organized in partnership between the Centre for the Study of the Novel and Fiction (CERR) of the University of Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV). The event considered Matheson's legacy and his impact on modern horror and SF - there was much mention of Stephen King and even a screening of Speilberg's Dual. The symposium was hosted in two halves at separate venues. The first took place in Amiens at the Maison de la Culture in Amiens, and the second in the National Library of France.

Sci-Fi London's trial mini-film fest Oktober was so successful that a repeat is on the cards. This was a trial at a smaller second, autumnal fantastic film Fest in the year to support the main, larger and longer, annual event in May. Some 550 attended. SFL said: "The Oktoberfest was a bit of an experiment, but unlike most sci-fi experiments this one actually worked without causing any adverse effects. So it looks like it will be back next year bigger and better. Thanks to all our staff, volunteers, sponsors, the Apollo and the audience!".

Sci-Fi London 2009 on the way. Only six short months until SCI-FI-LONDON 8 and plans are already under way and it's looking good. It will be bringing the usual high quality indie features London's way, a selection of tasty shorts and of course the all-nighters. They also plan to add some 'real science' at the next festival and are playing with ideas from a large gaming area and lots more talks and workshops. There will also be another 48hour film challenge as well... SFL really is worth attending and we don't hesitate to recommend it. Jonathan has tips for prospective participants. Details on their website.
          One of SFL's themes for 2009 will be evolution. This will include evolution of the SF genre and cinema as well as biological evolution, evolution elsewhere in the Galaxy and other evolution science aspects. This theme is to mark 2009 being a Darwin double anniversary (see item in the SF interface subsection below).

The North American Odyssey 2009 writers workshop will be held from June 8th to July 17th at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Odyssey is a great opportunity to improve writing and meet editors and authors. More information can be found in the press release below, or on the workshop website www.odysseyworkshop.org. The six-week workshop combines an intensive learning and writing experience with in-depth feedback on student manuscripts. Top authors, editors, and agents have served as guest lecturers including George R. R.Martin, Harlan Ellison, Jane Yolen, Terry Brooks, Robert J. Sawyer, Ben Bova, Nancy Kress, Jeff VanderMeer, Donald Maass, Dan Simmons. Fifty-three percent of Odyssey graduates go on to professional publication.

The 2010 British National convention will also be a 2010 Euroconference. Preparations all seem to be going well, which you may have noticed aswe have covered this in our international section above.

The Hatfield PSIFA SF Society celebrated its 30th anniversary and is now planning a reunion. Founded back in October 1978 the Polytechnic ScIence fiction and Fantasy Association has ended up being Hertfordshire University's (formerly Hatfield Polytechnic's) second oldest students club. The 30th anniversary was marked by talking over two lecture theatres for 12 hours (10 am - 10pm) for films, quizzes and other activities that made it a sort of a mini-convention or even a 'Shoestringcon'. Over the years PSIFA's membership has fluctuated between a score or so and well over a hundred and so the cumulative membership is probably around the 500 mark. Assuming half a dozen members from each generation of students are interested in a get-together then it could mean that some 50 or so attend the reunion being planned. However this will only happen if all Old Age PSIFAns (OAPs) are contacted. To this end there is an appeal for any former PSIFA members in touch with other former member to let them know of this re-union and for them in turn to forward the message. With luck such a viral communication may work. The reunion is planned for the summer term and Old PSIFAns are encouraged to contact Simon Baldwin at psifa_uh [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk as soon as possible. Meanwhile as our small contribution to mark the occasion Concatenation (two of whose core team members are PSIFA founding members) has posted a PDF of the now ancient 10th anniversary edition of the PSIFA clubzine Hypo Space.

London's LOTNA 'Sci-Fi' group has slight change of schedule for 2009. LOTNA is one of London's more active 'sci-fi' TV SF groups (Star Trek, Smallville, Stargate etc) though a few members are also into broader aspects of SF (books and films). Meetings are bimonthly in the Miller of Mansfield pub on the evenings of the 2nd and 4th Saturday's of most months (two or three times a year they go to an event elsewhere in the UK). As from the beginning of 2009 the first of the month's meetings (on the 2nd Saturday) events will be more formal (a quiz or a programme screening) and will be held upstairs, while the second of the month's meetings (on the 4th Saturday) the gathering will be downstairs and more informal. The Miller of Mansfield is three minutes walk due south from London Bridge underground and rail station (walk through the Guy's Hospital and Kings College campus to Snowfields (road)). All welcome. (See our links page for the website.)

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 2009

NET WATCH

SF and fantasy authors band together to present their work with the new website BookViewCafe.com. Ann Arbor, Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, and Laura Anne Gilman are among the writers offering their fiction for free on BookViewCafe.com. The new website promises something new every day and most of it unavailable elsewhere. The project currently includes twenty-four professional authors. Book View Cafe represents a new approach to publishing made possible by the Internet. While most of the fiction on the site will be free, authors will also be offering expanded work, additional content, print versions, or subscriptions for a fee. With sales of e-books skyrocketing and the advent of new technologies such as TextOnPhone and Amazon's Kindle e-book reader, it appears that the book publishing industry may be in for a shake up similar to that experienced by the recording industry. In recent years, independent musicians have been taking their work directly to fans, and it's working for them. Member Ursula K. Le Guin points out, "given the deteriorating climate of print publishing, the Café seemed like a great experiment to be in on." The diversity of authors guarantees something for just about everyone into SFnal reading. Additionally, Book View Cafe will be partnering with TextOnPhone to make content available via iPhone and iPod. Daily posts on the group blog creates an on-going virtual book conference where readers and writers can interact. Book View Cafe can also be found at social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, and at LiveJournal, Blogspot, and Wordpress. +++ Select Book View Cafe authors will be making a presentation at the Library of Congress the week of May 18, 2009. The Library of Congress, the repository of the United State's literary heritage is extremely interested in new methods of publication and distribution of literature. Book View Cafe's combination of authors, cooperative creativity and internet outreach, have sparked the Library's attention.

Sci-Fi Wire - the newsy bit of sfi-fi.com the US television channel - has launched 'Sci-Fi Wire Extra'. This will be where they put their extraneous, fun bits and bobs such as top 10 lists, opinion columns and bloggy items.

Good SF listening on the web... The website Starship Sofa.com has now had 52 of its weekly 'aural delights' shows consisting of SF podcasts. So the Starship Sofa crew have organised a visitors poll of the best of its podcasts of fiction, poetry and factual articles. This all took place between our last seasonal newscast and this one. The poll results will be presented as the StarShipSofa Awards just after this seasonal news page is posted on at the end of January.

Serpentari.us announces closure. The editors of the semi-pro webzine have had to endure their site being repeatedly attacked by a hacker (a juvenile delinquent) who then used it for the distribution of malware. The site closed in September with the final five authors being paid but their stories not used (and copyright returned to them).

Webzine pressures - Comment on the preceding item. We at Concat ourselves have been tempted to shut down as sustaining effort for over two decades has not been easy but growing site traffic spurs us on for the time being. Meanwhile, like Serpentari, Concatenation has in the past been the subject of a cyber-attack (summer 2007) and we then so discouraged that we actually began archival measures as an initial part of a winding-up procedure. Then, three days before we were finally going to pull the plug, our webspace sponsor contacted us with new access codes. And then this year too we had had our woes. All of which demonstrates that the internet is not a particularly easy alternative to print zine (be it fan, semipro or pro) publishing. Yet arguably the problem is particularly acute for those in the middle ground between small amateur personal sites and the giant professionals. The former escape the attention of cyber attackers being small with little traffic (hence visitors that could access malware inserted by hackers) and the latter who can afford professional 24/7 management and continually updated, top-end protection software. This soft-target middle ground typically consists of sites with over 10,000 unique monthly visitors (at least a several hundred visits a day) and typically have a site Google rating of between 4 and 6 out of 10. Yet it may be that there is a role for middle ground sites such as Serpentari.us and Concatenation. Users of such sites (that is 'you') can at least encourage their continuation by alerting like-minded souls of their existence either by direct recommendation or links on blogs and such. Of course pressure on politicians internationally to take a harder line on cyber crime would also greatly help.

The SF fiction webzine Helix is to close. Set up just a couple of years ago in the US it was then billed as a webzine that would publish stories too risqué for other platforms. One of the reasons for its closure has been cited as it relying on readers' voluntarily paying for stories and that, though it managed to pay its contributors, it was actually dependent on a small pool of very generous readers for support. However another reason may well be a bit of a row between the editors and some of the writers submitting material (see Helix fiction webzine spawns Transcriptase... from last season's news).

Aeon is to close. Editors Bridget and Marti McKenna have announced that After four years of publication, Æon Speculative Fiction, the quarterly webzine is suspending publication effective immediately. All submissions are being returned.

Estronomincon fiction webzine continues despite editorial health problems. Estronomicon came out in October despite the editor having been in hospital. Estronomicon had not been going long having been founded early in 2006 and had been roughly bimonthly up to 2008 but there was only one issue that year prior to the October edition. It is available as a pdf with some nifty artwork.

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

Nothing in the corner this time.

 

[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 2009

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

The European CERN's Large Hadron Collider was powered up for the first time in September. It will (once the tests have been completed) accelerate particles in opposite directions around two 17 mile (27km) circumference rings up to 99.9999991% the speed of light before bringing them together at 4 points to do experiments. 1) ATLAS (A Toroidal Lhc ApparatuS) will help the look for the Higgs boson (a particle predicted to attract other nearby particles much like an SF author walking through a semi-crowded convention area) as well as other particles that could make up dark matter. 2) ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) will help with the study of the quark-gluon plasma thought to have existed shortly after the Big Bang. 3) CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) will also help with dark matter related physics. 4) Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) will help the examination of the difference between matter and anti-matter through the beauty quark. Only 5% OF THE universe is made of matter that we understand: 25% is so-called dark matter and 70% dark energy (that drives the accelerated expansion of the Universe).
          It has taken 20 years and some £5 billion (US$9.5bn) for Europe to construct the facility straddling the French-Swiss border. The UK contributes £78 million a year to the venture (and so added to this year's £78m there has been £518m from Britain since 1995). All these figure seem meaningless unless put into some sort of public spending context: so here goes... Britain has spent an average of £83m a year since 2002 on renewable energy research. The original proposed budget for the British Olympics scheduled for 2012 was £3.4 billion (US$6.6bn) and its current revised budget (New Year 2009) is £9.3 billion (US$18bn). Which gives you an idea as to how science friendly British politicians really are. Other BIG science budget comparators include the US-European James Webb telescope (to replace Hubble) that has a budget of £1.8 billion (US$3.5 billion) spread across several countries.
          BBC Radio 4 held a themed (Big Bang) day on the powering up of the European Big Hadron Collider on Wednesday 10th September.

The Large Hadron collider crashes. Barely 10 days later and a helium coolant rupture into the vacuum chamber caused considerable damage putting the collider out of action up to the Summer. To keep its beam focussed some 9,600 superconducting magnets are used. Each needs to carry an enormous load without generating heat as the magnets operate at a couple of degrees above absolute zero (Kelvin). The problem is that the repair needs to be done at room temperature and it takes a couple of months to slowly warm the magnets, do the repair and then cool them: the repairs may not be complete until the summer. The cost is estimated as being around £14 m (US$21).

Brit attempt to boost his own land-speed record. In 1997 RAF pilot Andy Green broke the World ground speed record when he drove the Thrust SSC jet-powered vehicle at 763mph (1,228km/h). Now he intends to reach 1,000mph (1,609km/h) in a new vehicle called Bloodhound. The new vehicle will be powered by a rocket bolted to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine. The British team expect to be ready to make their attempt in 2011.

Oldest Hebrew script found. Five lines were on a piece of pottery found at a dig 25 mile south-west of Jerusalem. It looks as if it may have been written 3,000 years ago; which is 1,000 years before the Dead Sea Scrolls. It could relate to King David's time.

Attempt at artificial intelligence launched in US. IBM have formed a partnership with five universities in a cognitive computing project that will see electronic systems mimic their biological counterparts. The aim is to create a brain at least as effective as a cat's. Last year the BlueGene supercomputer 'simulated' a mouse's brain of 55 million neurons with half a trillion synapses. The US government is supporting this new venture with US$4.9 (£3.27). This work will also build on last year RoadRunner petaflop record.

 

[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 2009

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

Alien worlds glimpsed. There are two studies to report. The first is a Jupiter-size gas giant orbiting Fomalhaut about 25 light years away. Its planetary system is young and accretion is still going on. The second study is of a system with three observable planets. They are just three points of light around a central star but they are extra solar planets. The three large gas giants are orbiting the star system number HR 8799, at distances corresponding to Uranus, Neptune and just beyond Pluto's furthest reach in our own Sol system. This system is also young with the gas giants still cooling from their own accretion. However there could be smaller rocky Earth-like planets closer in but these are too small to be discerned (and too young for life). The plane of the system is facing us on Earth (as opposed to being edge on). The system is in the constellation Pegasus. Both research teams published their results in the journal Science.

Nucleic acid sugar precursor found in space dust cloud away from the Galactic centre. Glycoaldehyde (CH2OHCHO) was first discovered in space in 2000 near the Galactic centre. That part of space is weird, it being jam-packed full of stars around a meganormus black hole. However now glycoaldehyde has been found out in the spiral arm (the Earth is in this part of the Galaxy) and found in an area of large star-forming region called G31.41+031, about 26,000 light years away from us. It is a region expected to generate planetary systems. The thing is that glycoaldehyde is a precursor molecule to sugars such as ribose, and ribose with phosphate forms the backbone of nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA. In short this discovery is another clue as to the origins of life and the possibility that it is reasonably common elsewhere in space. The research was reported by Maria Teresa Beltran and her a European team (Spanish, British, Italian and French) of astronomers in Astrophysical Journal Letters using France's IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer.

First Chinese space walk. The September 3-man mission saw taikonaut (or 'yuhangyuan' as apparently we are now apparently meant to call them) Zhai Zhigang (42) undertake a space walk. China's last space mission was a two-man affair back in October 2005. All three astronauts returned to Earth safely. Previously China successfully sent its first astronaut, Yang Liwei, into orbit on the Shenzhou V spacecraft in 2003. Chinese authorities say that this latest mission was the "most critical step" in the country's "three-step" space programme: sending a human into orbit, docking spacecraft together to form a small laboratory and, ultimately, building a large space station. The Shenzhou VIII and IX missions are expected to prepare for the establishment of science space station in 2010. Meanwhile China launched an unmanned Moon probe last year around a month after its neighbour Japan launched its own lunar orbiter. +++ BBC report here.

Methane plumes on Mars - microbiological life? It has been four years since we reported news that Mars' atmosphere had methane detected by the European Space Agency Mars Express probe and two ground-based telescopes. Now a NASA scientist, Michael Mumma, has used spectroscopy data from observatories in Hawaii and Chile that suggests that there are methane plume hotspots on Mars hundreds of kilometres across. One of these hotspots is the Nile Fossae which is one of the possible targets being considered for NASA's Mars Science Lab (MSL) due for launch in 2009. The MSL's destination is due to be announced shortly.

NASA's Mars Science Lab (MSL) delayed. It was expected early in 2011 as part of an on-going Mars presence now it will launch late in 2011 as opposed to land then. Previously the launch was to have been later this year (2009). The delay is due to the MSL having technological problems as it is using brand new systems including a new way of landing and carry a payload ten times the size of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. +++ Europe has already announced the delay the launch of ExoMars from 2013 to 2016.

European space agency (ESA) nations have agreed a 10bn-euro (£8 billion, US$12 billion) budget. The two biggest contributing nations were Germany, at 2.7bn-euros, and France at 2.3bn. The Italians contributed just over a billion; the UK just under a billion. The 18 nations will get the Ariane 5 launcher upgraded, the 2nd phase of the GMES environmental monitoring project, a project to build the next generation of meteorological satellites (this was over-funded), In addition, Europe will now take the first step in a plan that could eventually lead to a manned spaceship based on the successful ATV unmanned space-station cargo-vessel. The manned spaceship might come to pass around 2017 and also there may be a new ExoMars rover in 2016 to look for microbial life. One area of bad news was that the Ministers voted 1.4bn euros into its on-going activities at the White Elephant and scientifically vacuous International Space Station - the single biggest 'ticket' in the new finance package but, hey, that's politicians for you.

The European probe Ulysses dying, but its five year mission to boldly go where no man has gone before has lasted 13 years longer! The probe has been injected into an eccentric polar orbit about the Sun that at one point clips the Earth's orbit and at another encompasses Jupiters. By going into a Solar polar orbit it has been able to examine the Sun from all angles and measuring its magnetic field as well as Solar wind. During its 18 year mission it has also passed through the tails of two comets. Originally it was to be part of a ESA-NASA pair of probes but NASA backed down and its counterpart was never launched. A fault with its thermoelectric generator converting heat from a radioactive mass froze the craft's hydrazine. It has completed three orbits of the Sun and six polar passes. The mission cost was £790m.

 

[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 2009

NATURAL SCIENCE

It's a gene theme this season...

Genetically modified genes do transfer to non-GM crops new study confirms! Evidence had previously emerged in 2001, now a study using samples taken in 2004 has reported (2008) further evidence that genes from GM maize can spread to fields of normal maize. However some criticism of the statistical analysis, and also the gene analysis, has made both the 2001 study and this recent one controversial. So much so that the recent lead researcher is turning to other work.

Study shows that half of Europeans live close to their own genetic population. This may seem obvious but it is not. The average North American has genetic origins going back more than a couple of centuries or so to Europe and so do not live close to their own genetic population. In Europe populations are older going back thousands of years (the last glacial ice age ended over 10,000 years ago). Now a study of 3,000 European individuals reveals that around half live within 185 miles (300 km) of the historic location of their genetic population. One additional outcome is that genetic ancestry analysis has more potential than previously expected and so may soon see some major developments.

10 minute human genome! The company Pacific Biosciences in Menlo Park, California, are hoping to build a machine that will analyse someone's genome in 10 minutes. Major developments are expected later this year.

Mammoth genome sequenced. - One small step to Jurassic Park. Having had a draft sequence of the Human genome in 2001, other species have since been sequenced. The latest is the genome of the extinct mammoth. A US-Russian team have sequenced the mammoth genome using samples from several individual woolly mammoths that lived some 18,500 years ago. They used mammoth hair to extract DNA - recent DNA analysis can do that even though there is little DNA in hair but mammoth hair is preserved in a number of peri-arctic sites in permafrost. They found that the woolly mammoth genome differs by as little as 0.6% from that of the African elephant: this is about half the difference between that of humans and chimpanzees although humans and chimps and mammoths and elephants seem to have evolutionary diverged about the same time. Though we are a long way from sequencing genes from 70 million years ago (the time of Tyrannosaurus Rex) this is still an exciting development especially as the next extinct species likely to have their genome analysed could well be that of a Neanderthal human.

The right of innocents to confidential DNA fingerprints is now assured in Europe. For a number of years the government for England, Wales and N. Ireland (but not Scotland) have kept DNA fingerprint records of criminal suspects subsequently found innocent. Some 4.5 million have their DNA fingerprints on police record but around one in five is innocent. This is despite there being a constitutional subjects' right of presumed innocence until proven guilty. So is this the biological face of Orwell's 'Big Brother' or is it necessary to keep crime down? The government has always maintained the latter. Now two former suspects subsequently cleared - Michael Marper and a teenager (not named due to youth) - fought to have their DNA fingerprint records deleted. They had to go all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. The European judges said keeping the information "could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society". Both men were awarded £36,400 (42,000 Euros) in costs, less the money already paid in legal aid.

And this year we have the 2009 Darwin double anniversary -- see item in the SF interface subsection 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 2009

FORTHCOMING BOOK RELEASES

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.

 

Shadow of the Scorpion by Neal Asher, Tor UK, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-73859-1.
Space opera with a further adventure of agent Cormac now having to deal with the legacy of the Prador Wars. (Previous Asher reviews include: The Line of Polity, Cowl and Hilldiggers.)

Twisted Metal by Tony Ballantyne, Tor UK, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-230-73860-7.
This is Tony Ballantyne's fourth book and the start of a new series set in the future with a world of robots. Now, judging by Ballantyne's work to date, this could be one to really look out for. It is not due out until May and so we should really have included it in next season's 'forthcoming books' but we thought you might want an early heads up. (Ballantyne novels previously reviewed by our Tony include: Capacity, Divergence and Recursion).

Firstborn by Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08341-7.
The third in the Time Odyssey series. This is the paperback release and the hardback came out last year. Jonathan has reviewed this here and Tony has reviewed it here. Clarke's penultimate co-authored offering in paperback for the first time. You will recall that Arthur C. Clarke died last year.

The Accord by Keith Brooke, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-161710-4.
The Accord is a virtual utopia where the soul can live on after death. It is also a great place to hide out if someone is after you... Providing that is they don't threaten to literally pull the plug on the whole thing.

Kethani by Eric Brown, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16713-5.
The aliens came bearing the gift of immortality. But beware of what you ask for as you might get it... This is the paperback release of the previous hardback. Eric Brown does not seem to get the profile he arguably deserves. Do check him out.

Principles of Angels by Jaine Fenn, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08329-5.
Tony has reviewed this (see the title link) first novel and says this is "a promising debut in that there was always a clear intention to tell a story, and that there was some depth of vision behind it" and also that "she is an author worth keeping an eye on".

The Stainless Steel Rat Omnibus by Harry Harrison, Gollancz, trd pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08171-0.
Yes we mentioned this last time, but as it only came out before Christmas you may have missed this: if you did not already know it, it is a minor SF comedy classic worthy of your consideration. Slippery Jim diGriz is a cosmic thief and sneakiest conman in the known Universe. So when the law catches up with him there is only one thing to do... Make him a cop! The first Stainless Steel Rat came out in 1963. Now this novel plus some of its sequels come together in one volume. This series of novels was hugely popular back in the 1960s and 1970s on both sides of the Atlantic. Indeed in the late 1970s 2000AD turned some of them into comic strips. Now you can catch up. Recommended.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein, Gollancz, hrdbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08241-0.
Correction: We listed this last time as paperback and a pound cheaper than it actually is. (Though to be fair to us the trade news we sourced the information was incorrect). So this is a hardback and only £7.99! It is a very fine edition and though hardback is the same size as 'A' sized paperbacks and so will neatly fit in your normal-sized bookshelf. Also the colour cover is laminated into the board and not as a cover wrap. This edition will last, and of course it is an SF classic...The Moon is an open prison but a revolution is being plotted. This 1966 novel popularised the term 'tanstaafl' (though it is thought to have originated elsewhere back in 1949) - 'tanstaafl' meaning 'there ain't no such thing as a free lunch'. (Yes, it is a double negative.) This The Moon is a Harsh Mistress edition is a very welcome addition to Gollancz's SF Masterwork series. Serious collectors note: Even if you already have this in your collection you may want to think about picking up this version. As it only came out mid-December copies should still be in shops and of course you can order it from Gollancz.

Bugz: Contact by David Jackson, Gardners Books, hrdbk £19.99. ISBN 978-0-955-42141-9.
In 2042 against a backdrop of global warming, a group of scientists use a particle accelerator and contact an intelligence. Is this the beginning of the end or the beginning of a new reality?   Now we know absolutely nothing about this title other than Gardners seem to be spending a fair amount promoting this title in a conventional way: that is to say like Crichton books are promoted to the main market and not a genre readership even though the novel is clearly SF.

City Without End by Kay Keynon, Pyr, hrdbk, US$25 / £19.99. ISBN 978-1-591-02698-3.
This is book 3 of 'The Entire and the Rose'. Which if you have not come across it might be described as epic science fantasy, which is to say that the premise is SF but it reads a lot like fantasy. Two parallel universes see a struggle for dominance.

The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction vol. 3 edited by George Mann, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16709-8.
Stephen Baxter, Ken MacLeod, Ian Watson and Alastair Reynolds are some of the major writers in this collection of short stories. Can't be bad.

Dragon Harper by Anne & Todd McCaffrey, Corgi, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-552-15349-2.
The latest Pern novel now in paperback. (See title link for the review.)

Deluge: Book Three of the Twins of Petaybee by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Corgi, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-552-15442-0.
The latest Petaybee now in paperback. (See title link for review.)

Cyberabad Days by Ian McDonald, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08408-7.
A collection of stories and novellas (including one wholly original novella not previously published in a magazine) set in the India of River of Gods (see hardback and paperback reviews). The stories are literary, stylish and packed with SF tropes.

BioHell by Andy Remic, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16650-3.
On a world rife with corruption a global corporation develops the biomod human upgrade. However hackers break the code and it heads into the black market creating a zombie population packed with hardcore weaponry. The Combat-K squad must find out what really has happened...

War Machine by Andy Remic, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16616-9.
Following the singularity and the Helix War, ex-soldier Keenan is now working for an investigator on a far off planet.

Zima Blue and Other Stories by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08456-8.
A new collection of short stories from one of Britain's top writers of hard SF and space opera. Highly recommended. (See also reviews of Reynold's previous collection of shorts Galactic North and his novels Revelation Space, Chasm City, Redemption Ark Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, Century Rain, The Prefect, Pushing Ice and House of Suns.).

The Dragon's Nine Sons by Chris Roberson, Solaris, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16619-0.
The first in the Celestial Empire space opera series with an alternate history twist..

Three Unbroken by Chris Roberson, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16707-4.
The next in the Celestial Empire Sequence. The Chinese and the Aztec Empires seek to control the Red Planet. The lives of three soldiers are followed from their respective training through to front line combat.

Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08357-8.
This is the fictional memoire of SF author Konstantin Skvorecky. Back in 1946 Josef Stalin called together Russia's greatest SF writers to create an alien invasion that will unite the people. However the secret plan was shelved. Then 40 years later around the time of Chernobyl it begins to come true... Now we have not yet seen this but Roberts is well-known to us and he has been reviewed by a number of the team overall getting the thumbs up. Gradisil was short-listed for a fiction Clarke Award. Yellow Blue Tibia's plot is so neat and mixed with a dash of post-modernism (must not have too much as post-modernism by itself is strong, empty-calorie sauce) that it might even get short-listed for the Award in 2010. We will see. (Meanwhile check out his other titles: Land of the Headless, The McAtrix Derided, Salt, Splinter, Star Warped, Stone, Swiftly and The Va Dinci Cod).

The Best of 2000AD edited by Tharg the Mighty, Prion Books, hrdbk, £20.00. ISBN 978-1-85375-668-9.
Well we are slowly creeping up on a third of a century of 'the Galaxy's greatest comic' and this collection features numerous strips from over the years. There is so much thrill power here - from Judge Dredd to Robo-Hunter - that this book's release was kept from advance books in print info until after we posted last season's news! (Either that or Prion have been scuppered by thrill suckers.) Now if you never kept your early progs or you are a relatively new squax you can have exemplars of the Galaxy's finest to hand. Splundig.

Secret Invasion by various, Marvel, trd pbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-846-53405-8.
A graphic novel in the Marvel universe of super heroes and super villains. In the aftermath of the World War Hulk, the alien Skrulls Invade Earth using shape-shifter technology. But when your enemy can look like anybody else, superheroes have to ask themselves whom can they trust?

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 2009

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

Tyrant: Storm of Arrows by Christian Cameron, Orion, trd pbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-0-752-89055-5.
Historical sword and sandals set in Alexandrian times that will appeal to some fantasy readers.

Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-007-651040-6.
This is a welcome re-print of his 2002 novel. Click on the title link for the review.

Graceling by Kirsten Cashore, Gollancz, trd pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08450-6.
A debut fantasy that is billed to appeal to fans of Patrick Rothfuss and Trudi Canavan. In a world where those with a particular skill are said to have a 'grace' is Kasta with a grace she does not want - that of the ability to kill. Starting out as a criminal, she begins to turn her ability away from evil when she starts to investigate the kidnapping of an old man. However in the process she attract the attention of a malevolent force...

The Hoard of Mhorrer by M. F. W. Curran, Macmillan, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-70980-5.
It is 1820 and the world is on the brink. Can a cohort of soldier monks save the day or will daemons walk the Earth?

Poe edited by Ellen Datlow, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16652-7.
A collection of short stories inspired by Edgar Allan Poe to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Poe's birth.

The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas, Gollancz, trrd pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08374-5.
A debut for Deas with a fantasy about a world about to be brought to the edge by dragons returning to their natural fury against a backdrop of a society wrought by a power struggle.

Eagle Rising by David Deveroux, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07988-5.
A neo-Nazi sect of business men with occult interests is bent on returning us to the darkest days of the 1940s.

The Infinity Gate by Sara Douglas, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-007-27040-8.
This is the third in the Darkglass Mountain sequence where the survivors of Tencendor battle the darkness surrounding Threshold.

Acacia by David Anthony Durham, Bantam Press, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-553-81967-0.
The best-selling historical novelist turns to epic fantasy with a powerful story of treachery, murder and revenge...

Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson, Bantam, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-553-81319-7.
Erikson's fantasy epic enters its climactic final stages...

Rides a Dread Legion by Raymond E. Feist, Voyager, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-007-26469-8.
The first in a brand new series (great for new-comers) but linked to the events of Wrath of a Mad God great for Feist's regulars. It is book one of the Demonwar sequence.

Wrath of a Mad God by Raymond E. Feist, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-007-24431-7.
This is the paperback of book 3 of the Darkwar sequence which connects with the Demonwar sequence (see previous book above).

Consorts of Heaven by Jaine Fenn, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08323-3.
Kerin's sky-touched son (though not bright he has some magical ability) is destined for greatness... until she discovers her world is rotten to the core...

Heritage - The Chronicles of Xandim: Book 1 by Maggie Furey, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07662-4.
The Xandim are little more than simple beasts who have been trapped in horse form by the faey and powerful Phaerie for so long that they have forgotten their human shapes...

Black Magic Woman by Justin Gustainis, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16618-3.
Supernatural investigator Quincy Morris and his consultant witch are hired to free a family from a curse.

Dark Lord by Ed Greenwood, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-884-16617-6.
This is book 1 of the Falconfar Saga. A fantasy writer finds himself in his own created world where three dark wizards rule.

Arch Wizard by Ed Greenwood, Solaris, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-1-884-16651-0.
This is book 2 of the Falconfar Saga. Having been drawn into a fantasy world of his own creation, Rod Everlar continues to fight corruption.

Evil Ways by Justin Gustainis, Solaris, trd pbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16653-4.
Supernatural investigator Quincy Morris goes after the murderer(s) of white witches.

Succubus in the City by Nina Harper, Piatkus, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-749-92922-0.
This is a kind of supernatural 'sex in the city' style story and the first of a series from the US. Apparently there are three more to follow shortly.

The Rise of the Iron Moon by Stephen Hunt, Voyager, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-007-23222-2.
This is the third in the 'Court of the Air' sequence that follows on from The Kingdom Beyond the Waves which Tony highly recommends.

Caligula by Douglas Jackson, Corgi, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-552-15694-3.
Historical fiction but it could well resonate with sword and sorcery fans.

Twelve by Jasper Kent, Bantam Press, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06064-3.
Melding the supernatural and the historical, a 'skin-tinglingly exciting' (we are told) debut novel of vampires in the Napoleonic wars.

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-70443-5.
This is a story of Salem time witch hunts in, that bastion of the free, the US. It is loosely based on real-life events and written by a direct descendent of one of the protagonists.

The Shadow Isles by Katherine Kerr, Voyager, pbk, £7.00. ISBN 978-007-26893-1.
The penultimate book in the Deverry sequence that interweaves human and elvish over several centuries and many reincarnated lives (or a few lives reincarnated a number of times).

The Sign by Raymond Khoury, Orion, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-752-89759-2.
A thriller masked as present-day fantasy - or is it vice-versa? When a mysterious sign appears over sites of conflict and natural disasters, the World wonders what it might portend?

Raven by Giles Kristian, Bantam Press, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06162-6.
A debut for a new author, Raven is not fantasy but historical fiction, nonetheless it could well have appeal for that genre's aficionados. A Viking adventure, packed with battles, blood, and gore; with a quest, pagans versus Christians, and a conflicted hero at its heart.

Lavinia by Ursula LeGuin, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08459-9.
A Princess is to wed for political reasons, against her will, to someone she only knows of indirectly through a shade - a poet's ghost. Le Guin's various books either stem from the heart of fantasy or that of SF. Either way they are inevitably accomplished.

Necroscope: Harry and the Pirates by Brian Lumley, Solaris, trd pbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16706-7.
A long awaited return for Harry Keogh the Necroscope. This book contains two Harry novellas.

Dark Haven by Gail Z. Martin, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16708-1.
Part three of the Chronicles of the Necromancer.

A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin, Voyager, hrdbk, £20.00. ISBN 978-007-224739-9.
This is book 5 in A Song of Fire and Ice.

Kingdom by Tom Martin, Pan, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-330-45212-0.
When a monastry in Tibet is overrun by Chinese soldiers a western journalist flees with a holy relic and the seemingly remote possibility of refuge in a hidden mythical land.

Royal Exile by Fiona McIntosh, Voyage, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-27602-8.
Paperback release of the autumn's hardback of Book 1 of the Vasilar Trilogy.

Irons in the Fire by Juliet E. McKenna, Solaris, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16620-6. The start of the Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution. Think Robin Hobb.

Hater by David Moody, Gollancz, trd pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08467-4.
By the end of today you could be a killer, Or by the end of today you could be dead. There is suddenly a sharp increase in assaults. The police are at a loss to explain it. It seems as if an infection of hate. Anyone can become a victim or a hater... Now here is a bit of news for you. Apparently Guillermo del Toro has bought the film rights to this one!

The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark, Doubleday, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-385-61537-2.
It contains whatever you desire . . . but at what cost?

The Cardinal's Blades by Pierre Pevel, Gollancz, trd pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08438-4.
Part historical novel and part swashbuckling high-action fantasy, this is musketeers with dragons. A must for Novik fans.

The Third God by Ricardo Pinto, Bantam Press, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-593-05051-4.
Six years in the writing, the concluding volume of Ricardo Pinto's acclaimed and unique The Stone Dance of the Chameleon fantasy trilogy...

Making Money by Terry Pratchett, Corgi, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-552-15933-3.
The latest Discworld to go into paperback.

Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-25676-1.
Another in the alternate Napoleonic series with dragons. Very popular.

The Wise Man's Fear - The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two by Patrick Rothfuss, Gollancz, trd pbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08142-0.
A return to the world of The Name of the Wind and Kvothe's adventures.

The Ancient by R. A. Salvatore, Tor UK, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-330-45845-0.
A multi-stranded fantasy set in a magical world. A quest novel involving disparate societies of monks, dwarves and barbarians. The author is popular in N. America where apparently some 10 million copies of his books have been sold! This book is part of a four-part series called the 'Saga of the First King'.

Hell's Horizon by D. B. Shan, Voyager, trd pbk, £10.00. ISBN 978-007-26132-1.
This is the second book in 'The City' trilogy. A noirish, gritty, urban fantasy thriller from Darren Shan that follows on from The Procession of the Dead.

The Burning by Susan Squires, Pan, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-330-46091-0.
Erotic temptation in a new Regency vampire romance.

One with the Night by Susan Squires, Pan, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-330-46092-7.
Vampiric goings-on in new Regency England.

Dragonfly Falling by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tor UK, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-230-70415-2.
The second in the Shadows of the Apt sword and sorcery series.

A Very Persistent Illusion by L. C. Tyler, Macmillan, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-230-71329-1.
When Chris' father-in-law dies some shocking secrets are revealed. Meanwhile back in the 17th century in an Inn in the Danube valley a philosopher seems to have some words of guidance for our modern-day hero. This is a fun and thought-provoking novel with just a hint of a fantasy riff.

White Star by Beth Vaughan, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08424-7.
Sword and sorcery fantasy.

Stray by Rachel Vincent, Mira, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-778-30322-0.
A romance and the undead type novel but featuring werecats. This is the first in a series of six that has a certain following in the US.

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 2009

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Intriguing Scientific Mysteries of our Time by Michael Brooks, Profile, hrdbk, £15. ISBN 978-1-861-97817-2.
Questions that scientists to which seek answers.

On The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (this edition edited by Gillian Beer), Oxford University Press, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-199-219223
This obviously ties in with 2009 being the double Darwin anniversary. Our biology members of the Concatenation team naturally recommend this book. Simon says that its is the first edition to look out for (and hopefully this will be a reprint of that) as the latter editions really are extended not due to the theory of evolution being developed but due to rebuttals against Victorian theocratic attack. Meanwhile Jonathan reminds us that this book really popularised the idea of evolution through the survival of the fittest that was also at the same time as Darwin being independently developed by A. R. Wallace -- See also the book on Wallace below.

Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear by Dan Gardner, Virgin, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-753-51553-2.
Why are the safest people in the world living in a culture of fear?

Darwin's Island by Steve Jones, Little Brown, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-408-70000-6.
Geneticist Steve Jones who does popular science writing on the side turns his attention as to what Darwinism is today in the 21st century. This book is part of the 2009 celebrations of the Darwin double anniversary (see below).

Confessions of an Eco Sinner by Fred Pearce, Eden Project Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-905-81112-0.
The New Scientist writer examines where all the stuff in his life comes from and finds a few basic assumptions we probably all have are challenged.

The Long Life Equation: 100 Factors That Can Add or Subtract Years From Your Life by Trisha Macnair, New Holland, pbk, £5.99. ISBN 978-1-847-73405-1.
Moderate regular exercise, low alcohol intake, high fruit and vegetable and low animal fat diet, owning a pet, and monogamy are among the plus points. Over eating hence over weight, high salt, high saturated animal fat diets, little exercise, exposure to air particulates, high alcohol, stress and so forth are among the negative factors.

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin, Penguin, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-141-02758-6.
Biologists have a saying that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. This is to say that the (human) embryo develops recapturing the embryo development of its evolutionary ancestors. And so it is possible to work out things such as what happened to our fish gill slits. This book explains the origins of many parts of the human body. Fascinating stuff for non-biologists and indeed molecular biologists who have been away from whole-organism biology for too long.

Natural Selection and Beyond: The Intellectual Legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace Edited by Charles H. Smith and George Beccaloni, Oxford University Press, hrdbk, £30. ISBN 978-0-199-23916-0.
This ties in with 2009 being the Darwin double anniversary This book actually came out at the end of November but the paperback should be out this year. As Concatenation's Jonathan will tell you (he tells us) Wallace is the great unsung (as far as most people are concerned) hero of evolution through survival of the fittest.

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 2009

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Transformers Movie Prequel: Saga of the Allspark by Simon Furman. IDW Publishing, trd pbk, £11.99. ISBN 978-1-600-10358-2.
A graphic novel to prequel the film (quaintly referred to here as a 'movie' - guess they still find the magic lantern shows trendy).

David Tennant Casebook: The Who's Who by Molly Mitchell, Orion, hrdbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-010409-10469-8.
The Dr Who actor profiled. Full colour throughout. Excellent value. Apparently it comes with a free poster.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Omnibus vol 6 by various, Dark Horse, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-595-82242-0.
Graphic novel comic strip collection.

 

[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 2009

SELECTED RECENT DVD RELEASES

Creepshow £10.99 from Universal.
Five tales in one film inspired by the E.C. comics of the 1950s. Directed by George A. Romero, this minor 1982 horror classic has one Stephen King as one of the screenplay authors who also has a cameo as does his son Joe (now the author Joe Hill).

Dante 01 £12.99 from Momentum.
This is a recent film (2008) that had its UK premiere at last year's Sci-Fi London. A new prisoner arrives at a space prison cum psychiatric research centre, but why is he there and what was the incident with which he was involved? It turns out that he is no ordinary inmate. Now, none of us have seen it and it has had mixed reviews from average to brilliant, so maybe it is halfway between these or maybe because it is a French film some of the US reviewers did not take to the continental Europe take or some of the violent content? Word has it that the film successfully carries you along but the ending is a little disappointing...? Either way definitely worth renting. (The director Marc Caro did Delicatessen.)

The Dark Knight £22.99 from Warners.
Another of the box office successes of 2008 (along with Iron Man below and Hellboy II). Dark, gritty, and featuring Two-Face as well as an acclaimed portrayal of The Joker. The Blu-Ray version is something else though of course the best way to see this is in an IMAX cinema.

Doomsday £19.99 from Universal.
An absolute must for fans of Mad Max and 28 Days Later this only had a brief showing in UK cinemas in 2008 but is bound to attract genre/cult interest especially as its director and writer is Neil (Dog Soldiers and The Descent) Marshall. In the very near future a virus breaks out infecting millions in Scotland and so the authorities quarantine the country. However, when the (Reaper) virus appears elsewhere, a team is sent into Scotland to seek out a possible cure.... Doomsday is a bit of a pot boiler ripping off paying homage to other films' plot premises but - if you like such offerings - it is action-packed fun.

Edge of Darkness £13.99 from BBC.
The 1985 nuclear-related covert op mini-series. A policeman witnesses his daughter being shot and his investigation leads him to the depths a nuclear state can plumb. The series received much critical acclaim and its music score by Eric Clapton won a BAFTA.

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun £9.99, Universal.
This is Gerry (Thunderbirds) Anderson's live action film made around the time of his rather neat 1970s SF series UFO (arguably his best SF work). This film concerns an astronaut who goes on a mission around the Sun but crash lands home to find things slightly different... Now this could have been quite good had the premise not involved the far side of the Sun. Worth viewing if you are a young teenager getting into SF cinema, or if you are an Anderson fan.

Hancock £19.99 from Sony.
What if a superhero like superman did not come from a good middle-American family but was lazy and drunken? Will Smith subverts DC and Marvel in this comedy.

The Happening £19.99 from Fox.
An ecological nightmare in the US.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army £21.99 from Universal.
Del Toro's acclaimed sequel to the cinematic adaptation from the graphic novel. SFnal action with a dash of humour. Recommended.

The Incredible Hulk £19.99 from Universal.
The first thing to note is that this is the recent (2008) offering from director Louis Leterrier, and not the one four years ago: this version is much better. What is more the DVD comes packed with extras including an alternate beginning. Still, unless you are a die-hard Marvel fan, at £19.99 you may want to wait for the price to come down.

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull £24.99 from Paramount.
It's Indie's fourth outing and his age is beginning to show. For what it is worth in our opinion not as good as 1 or 3 but better than 2. OK so this only came out early last summer but £25 is a bit steep, so why not wait a few months for the price to come down.

Iron Man £19.99 from Paramount.
Director Jon Favreau's take on the Marvel comics' franchise. Robert Downey jnr. Stars as Tony Stark. Enough said as you know it did well at the box office. This DVD should hold you until the sequel in 2010.

Léolo £12.99 from Network.
This 1992 (released 1993) British film from director Jean-Claude Lauzon concerns a young lad torn between the real world in Montreal and his dysfunctional family and an imaginary world spawned from his writing.

Logan's Run £12.99 from Warner.
The 1976 adaptation of the William F. Nolan 1967 novel. A poor adaptation certainly but an enjoyable, if not passingly thoughtful, film nonetheless. In a future world humanity has enclosed itself within high tech domes (the inside of which look a bit like one of those ghastly out-of-town shopping malls). Nobody is allowed to live beyond 30, at which time they are euthanased, but some coming up to their 30th birthday get second thoughts and so go on the run. Hunters are sent after them. One such hunter, Logan, decides that he wants old age and so runs. The film has good Brit leads including Michael York and Jenny Agutter. However the three original Logan novels are worth seeking out.

Lotte Reiniger - The Fairy Tale Films £18.99 from BFI.
This one is hugely recommended for fantasy fans. These are old European fairy tales using shadow puppet type effects from the first half of the 20th century. They are as they should be - far darker tales - before that ghastly Walt Disney sugared them up.

The Mist £19.99 from Momentum.
Director Frank Darabont's latest adaptation of a Stephen King story. A group are trapped in a supermarket surrounded by a fog. In the mist there lurk monsters... It's horror underpinned by SF. Most countries give it a 15 or 16 certificate so it is not the goriest of horrors in case this puts you off.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor £19.99 from Universal.
The third outing of this action fantasy-horror franchise.

Orphée £18.99 from BFI.
The 1950 B&W French classic. Director and screenwriter Jean Cocteau's fantasy tale concerns a poet who falls in love with Death... Recommended for serious fantastic film buffs.

The Princess Bride £19.99 from Lionsgate.
The 1987 UK/US comedy fantasy that won the 1988 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (up against RoboCop and Predator) and indeed it was the first fantasy film to win a Hugo Award for SF achievement. Directed by Robert Reiner it is a delightful love quest story with a fair bit of swash buckling. Good cameos too from Mel Smith and Peter Cooke.

The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash £15.99 from Second Sight
OK, so it is really stretching it that this is genre, but if you are into The Beatles then this is the closest you will get to an alternative parallel universe version. Comic but with both a sense for Lennon-McCartney music and lyrics this 'spoof' comes courtesy of the fall out of Monty Python. This is the 30th anniversary DVD. Has it really been that long? Brilliant stuff!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars, £19.99 from Warners.
The first three (Harrison and Hamill) Star Wars films were fine but the prequelling second trilogy was truly awful. Now we have this animate spin-off about the clone wars that were mentioned, but not seen, in the live action films. (Our advice is to catch this when it is on TV should you wish rather than give your hard-earned groats to this franchise that has well out-stayed its welcome.)

Vexille £19.99 from Momentum.
Well presented Japanese anime film (2007) about an agent who is sent to infiltrate those possibly manufacturing robots. In this future there have been international restrictions on robotic AIs. The film has been dubbed into English, so no sub-titles to worry about.

Wall-E £22.99 from Disney.
Pixar's SF animation for children and young-at-heart adults. A robot is left alone amid the ruins of civilization after everyone else has gone to the stars. Then one day a ship returns... Harmless fun.

Westworld £12.99 from Warner.
Michael Crichton's screenstory of a future leisure complex served by androids who malfunction and rebel. 'Westworld' is the section of the resort made out to look like the old wild west. There Yul Brynner kind of reprises his Magnificent Seven gunslinger role as an android bent on killing the last surviving holiday maker... Michael Crichton has made a career out of being a technophobe and recently lost the plot in publicly declaring that global warming is not human-induced with climate scientists following some sort of 'agenda'. However this 1970s offering comes from the days when his ideas were comparatively fresh. Westworld is far superior to its sequel, Futureworld, and the subsequent sci fi series that alas went nowhere though did have a promising start.

The X-Files: I Want To Believe £19.99 from Fox.
The latest Mulder and Scully adventure, and their second celluloid outing, but this time away from the extraterrestrial story-arc. This time they are confronted with more down-to-Earth exotica.

See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in 2009, 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 2009

R.I.P.

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

Forrest (4E) Ackerman has died aged 92. He had the status in North America that Ken Slater enjoyed in Britain as the leading SF fan for very many years. Yet while Ken was a book dealer (which helped furnish his collection) Forrest was both a book and an SF film memorabilia collector. Indeed so much so that his house - the Acker Mansion - was packed with artefacts much to the delight of many visitors and was cited by the Smithsonian Institution as one of the ten best private museums in the US. The attribution of coining the term 'sci fi' is given to him in the sense of 'sci fi' being an abbreviation of 'science fiction' though it has since then also come to mean more commercial and shallow genre offerings. His life was so synonymous with SF that he was sometimes known as Mr Science Fiction. But he was more than a fan. He had cameo appearances in more than 50 films and appeared in videos such as Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'. He created Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine in 1958, and the character Vampirella. Not surprisingly he was one of the Guest of Honours for the first Eurocon in 1972 in Italy. His other European visits in more recent years included attending the Glasgow Worldcon in 2005 but sadly had an accident which meant he missed the con being in hospital. As far as we know the last time he was a GoH at a European con was in 2000 for the 12th Festival of Fantastic Films. With such an SFnal life it was only fitting that in 2006 the Worldcon's 'Big Heart Award' was re-branded as the 'Forrest Ackerman Big Heart Award'. +++ He had recently celebrated his birthday and survived an earlier (incorrect) announcement of his death (see story further up the page.)

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry , the wife of Gene Roddenberry who created Star Trek, has died aged 76. Not only did she appear as nurse Christine Chapel in the original series (Dr Chapel in the first film and The Voyage Home) but also as Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek Next Gen and Deep Space Nine. She was also the voice of the computers on all the shows' starships.

Barrington J. Bayley, the British author, has died aged 71. He had complications from bowel cancer. This is sad news for some of the Concatenation core team as Barry was Guest of Honour at the first BECCON (1981) and he enjoyed himself such that we saw him at some of the others including 1987 which saw Concat's launch. A charming chap, Barry was part of that cohort/era of Brit writers that also gave us the likes of Charles Platt and Michael Moorcock (see also Jim Cawthorn below). As such he was part of the New Worlds 1960s magazine crowd and his stories often appeared in its spin-off book anthologies. He is probably best known for his novels Star Virus (1964) The Fall of Chronopolis (1974), The Soul of the Robot (1974), The Garments of Caean (1976), and The Zen Gun (1982). The past couple of decades have seen him less prolific though an occasional offering still surfaced including the novel The Sinners of Erspia (2002). That year also saw Cosmos begin to reprint a number of his books.

Edd Cartier, the US artist, had died aged 94. He illustrated Doc Savage magazine and also for many years his pictures appeared in both Astounding and Unknown.

Jim Cawthorn, the British fantasy artist, has died just prior to his 79th birthday. Jim was one of those whose SFnal orbits included Manchester and as such was known by the likes of our Charles for some 40 years as well as SF/fantasy professionals such as Michael Moorcock whose 'Elric', to take just one example, Cawthorn drew for the Stormbringer (1976) graphic novel. In addition he worked with Mike on New Worlds' covers and some interior illustration (see also Barry Bayley above). Not surprising he also drew for Manchester's Savoy Books, one of Britain's small presses that has over the years really pushed the envelope especially regarding censorship. Jim is another of Britain's old guard now sadly gone. Charles recommends fantasy buffs seek out Fantasy: The 100 Best Books (Xanadu Press, 1988).

Michael Crichton, the US author, has died following a battle with cancer at 66. His notable books are his first SF novel The Andromeda Strain (1968) and Jurassic Park (1990): both were international best-sellers with film adaptations (the former more faithful than the latter). The former concerned the investigation of a microbiological life form in a top-secret military research establishment and the latter the genetic reconstruction through genomics, and (presumably) synthetic biology, of dinosaurs. However many scientists into SF (who probably make up a proportion of Concat regulars) have had a love-hate relationship with Crichton who seemed to be anti-science confusing it with technology. His novels featured technology going wrong but seemed to speak of science failing. As such his works had a mixed reception by the science community. In North America Jurassic Park was criticised by some scientists but in the UK was used (for example by the Natural History Museum) to promote an public interest in science. His films (he also directed) too featured technology undermining human well-being. Westworld (1973) saw androids kill humans, and Coma had clinicians abuse patients. This muddling of science and technology probably was because Crichton's training was as a technician in medicine: medical doctors being technicians not scientists (check out the articles by the former editor of the British Medical Journal.). Then towards the end of his career Crichton was heavily criticised by climate scientists whom he seemed to accuse (see State of Fear (2004) of having some sort of 'agenda' in raising concerns over human-induced global warming. It might therefore appear that Crichton had difficulty distinguishing between science fact and fiction. Indeed whether or not encouraged by the man himself, his books in the UK were marketed as 'adventure' or 'thriller' novels and not SF. Whatever the underpinning truths behind his works' themes, or his own beliefs, his written and cinematic offerings reached millions. As such his contribution to SF cannot be ignored.

Leo Frankowski, the US author, has died aged 65. He wrote over a dozen SF novels many of which were in the Conrad Stargard sequence in which a US time-traveller settles in medieval Poland.

Wolfgang (Phil) Gluch, the German translator and editor, has died aged 52. He is especially known for his work on bringing the first three volumes of the John Norman 'Gor' fantasy sequence to German readers in uncensored form.

Richard K. Lyon, the US science fiction author and research chemist has died aged 74.

Joseph McGee, the little known (because he was young) US author has died sadly aged only just 23.

Irving Gertz the US composer for films and TV, has died aged 93. His film credits included It Came from Outer Space (1953), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955). His TV credits included the catchy theme for The Land of the Giants (1968) and a more grandiose number for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964).

Clive Newell the Australian fan and a past president of the Australian Science Fiction Foundation died after a three years with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. He is survived by his wife, Lyn, and two children.

George Palade, the cell biologist, has died aged 95. Born in Iasi (pronounced eye-ash-i) in Romania, he moved to the US following World War II. He was part of a team at Rockefeller University that looked at cells using the then new electron microscope and then using cell fractionations tried to identify organelle structure with function. He had discovered in 1955 a type of cellular granule that was sometimes referred to as the 'Palade granule' however it is now known as the 'ribosome'. He also went on to propose that the endoplasmic reticulum was the site for the synthesis of secretory proteins. In 1974 he became a joint recipient of that year's Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Alfred Pippard, the British physicist, has died aged 88. He is known for having demonstrated the reality (as opposed to the abstract concept) of the Fermi surface and established it for copper through measuring the reflection and absorption of microwave radiation. He was also an excellent lecturer, an all too rare a talent than many think and here Pippard was a master. He was also doctoral supervisor for Brian Josephson who went on in 1973 to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Oliver Postgate, the British children's TV producer, has died aged 83. A generation of Brit fans fondly remember his programmes that included: the sword and sorcery Noggin the Nog; his surreal Ivor the Engine; and the science fantasy about a race of aliens, The Clangers. They literally do not make them like that any more.

Brian Thomsen, the US book editor, has died suddenly of a heart attack aged 49. He was the first editor of Warner's Questar imprint in the late '80s. In the '90s he moved to the role-playing game company TSR to manage its fantasy fiction. He was short-listed for a Hugo (Best Professional Editor) in 1987.

Anatol Zhabotinsky, the Russian chemist has died aged 70. He developed Boris Belousov's reaction which oscillates back and forth into what is now know as the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (B-Z) reaction. This discovery prompted research into chemical reaction dynamics and Ilya Periogine (who incidentally won the 1977 Nobel for chemistry) described the B-Z reaction as the most important discovery of the 20th century. Though there is possibly a little hype in this last, it is certainly true that the discovery did not get the acclaim that it warranted. Anatol Zhabotinsky moved to work in the US in 1991.

 

[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 2009

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

Sir David King predicts grim mid-21st century future at the European Public Awareness of Science Midas Awards evening in November Giving the evening's key-note address Sir David King, the former British Government's Chief Scientific Advisor, warned that World population wouod peak just when cheap oil and gas was running out at a time of high water scarecity and food security issues. Of course we at Concatenation have had this as one of our predictions for some years now and our Jonathan even has it in chapter 7 of his 2007 climate change book. Purely coincidentally (and apparently unknown to David King) a couple of weeks earlier the Government's current Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor John Beddington, (King's successor) gave a similar warning to the Government's Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) Scientific Advisory Council (again our Jonathan happened to be present). John Beddington has initiated a 'Foresight' exercise to examine the issue. +++ The MIDAS Awards evening was organised by the Institute of Engineering & Technology and supported by the England and Wales' Environment Agency as well as the Royal Academy of Engineering. The award results were reported near the top of this season's newscast.

BBC has Big Bang day to mark the powering up of Europe's Large Hadron Collider: it includes SF. BBC Radio 4's Big Bang day began with its flagship morning news ('Today') programme resented from Geneva. This was followed by a programme of explanation as to what the collider was all about. 'Woman's Hour' even got in on the act and topics here predictably included women in science and the glass ceiling. The programme 'Physics Rocks' had celebrity science-philes (Alan Alda, John Barrowman, Ben Miller, Eddie Izzard, and Dara O'Briain) say their piece. Then the 'Afternoon Play' was a special audio episode of Torchwood called 'Lost Souls' written by Joseph Lidster. Here Torchwood is sent to investigate strange goings on in Geneva where by some amazing coincidence Dr Martha Jones happens to be working at CERN as a clinician. Later there was the documentary 'Five Particles' from science writer Simon Singh. The somewhat SF-phobic arts programme (that has hogged the peak time early evening slot for way too long) 'Front Row' had presenter Mark Lawson talked to Tom Stoppard and John Adams discussing how physics has been represented in the arts (shhh... don't mention SF too loudly). The themed part of the day ended SFnally with a comedy play from the creative Steve Punt in which a Brit physicist at CERN unleashes a storm of covert military activity. All of which goes to show that in a technologically based society, striving for a knowledge-based economy, it really is easy-peasy to have a themed day of science and SF. All of which begs the question as to why Brit media does not do more. Well, the answer in no small part lies in the proportion of arts-to-science graduates in media industry senior and middle management. The arts folk largely just don't get it. The next day, Thursday 11th September and it was back to reality TV, quiz shows, house renovation and scandalous personal relationship programmes. Fortunately Radio 4's non-science output is better than much of the afore-mentioned Brit media detritus.

Galileo is an OK bloke says Pope. Speaking just before Christmas, on the 400th anniversary of Galileo's astronomical observations with a telescope, Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to the 17th-Century astronomer, whose scientific theories were once condemned by the Catholic Church. The Church had thought that the Earth was the centre of the Universe with the Sun going around it. Pope Benedict has come under some criticism for appearing to condone the heresy verdict against Galileo. However it should be remembered that earlier in the year (May, 2008) the Church had indicated that accepted the likelihood of alien intelligence on other worlds. Also back in 1992, Pope John Paul said the Church's denunciation of Galileo's work had been a tragic error.

Royal Society deserts moderate Christian biologist who said that biology teachers should engage with those with creationist beliefs in the biology class. Prof. Rev. Michael Reiss who was part-time director of education at the Royal Society has argued that rather than ignore some pupils' creationist beliefs, that biology teachers should engage with them to explain the nature of scientific evidence compared to other forms of evidence. However he was mis-quoted by some media who suggested that he was a creationist teacher, which is not true. Prof. Reiss has been a former Chair of the Institute of Biology's (the UK professional body for bioscientists) Education Committee as well as a former IoB Vice-President. He has done much work on ethics in biology education including on controversial issues such as the use of animals in education and teaching AIDS issues (and this back in the late 1980s when such a view was very controversial). However some members of the Royal Society had lobbied for his removal from post and so he resigned by mutual agreement. Others have argued that the Royal Society has been greatly diminished by the episode which presents scientists as isolationist and unwilling to champion science that challenges some commonly held views. +++ In 2006 an Ipso MORI survey for BBC Horizon found that 39% of the British public believed in either creationism and/or intelligent design and 48% in Darwinian evolution. +++ BBC article on resignation here.

Following Libya's persecution of Bulgarian AIDS workers on fictional science based charges, now an Iranian AIDS clinicians have gone missing. The brothers Arash and Kamiar Alaei are internationally recognised in the AIDS science world for their progressive HIV-prevention programme and were due to speak at an AIDS conference in Mexico but were arrested at the airport before leaving Iran. They are not known to be politically active but AIDS is a taboo subject for many Iranians. Despite this, in part due to the brothers work, Iran has a progressive AIDS programme as far as the Middle East is concerned with, for example, condoms and clean syringes dispensed in prisons.

Religion relates to fearing Nanotechnology. A study in Nature Nanotechnology of 12 European countries and the US showed that acceptance of Nanotechnology inversely relates to a country's 'religiosity'. The researchers found that in those nations where religion was strong (such as Ireland and Italy) acceptance of nanotechnology was low and where religious following was low (such as Belgium and the Netherlands) acceptance of Nanotechnology was higher. On the researchers' scale the US had the highest 'religiosity' index of the nations studied and also was the least accepting of nanotechnology.

Jet-pack man flies English Channel. Back jet packs have been a long-standing trope of SF. Yet on 26th September, Yves Rossy (49 year old Swiss man), flew at 150 mph (250 km per hour) across the 25 or so miles of the Channel from Calais to the cliffs above Dover. The flight lasted some 13 minutes. Yves back pack consisted of a small stubby wing and a jetso turning him into a small but high-powered plane.

New Scientist produces an SF issue. The edition came out on 12th November 2008. Contributors included William Gibson, Stephen Baxter, Kim Stanley Robinson and Ursula K. LeGuin. As part of the issue the New Scientist folk conducted a readers poll for best SF film and book. 129 films were nominated but there were two clear leaders Bladerunner and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Of the 254 books nominated the clear leader was Dune. +++ Now if some of you have a sense of déjà vu then it may be that you are remembering Concatenation's very own 'desert asteroid' poll for best book and film we conducted back in 1987 at the UK national convention. Yes, its top two favourite films were Bladerunner and, yes, 2001: A Space Odyssey. And the top book was Lord of the Rings (fantasy) followed by, yes, Dune (SF). Some things never change which is perhaps why we used hard fan data when compiling Essential SF. +++ The New Scientist SF issue also saw Tom Easton, a columnist for Analog magazine, give recommendations as to new SF books for which to look out. Sadly this was not perhaps the best choice of reviewer as while Tom is brilliant he does have a decidedly US perspective: conversely New Scientist is a UK magazine. So it did not help that all Tom's choices were Tor USA books.

Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in The Guardian has this last season covered:-
  - a follow-up to Britain's Durham Council paying for a highly flawed fish oil nutrient study. That Durham Council persists in shining a spotlight on their own scientific ineptitude would be comic but for the fact that rate-payers' money is being wasted.
  - the way the UK media misreported a researcher's work on compiling and assessing climate data from 18th century ships' logs. They made out that he was providing evidence denying the link between current global warming and atmospheric greenhouse gas increases. The researcher, geographer Dennis Wheeler, said that the newspapers 'grossly and crassly misrepresented' his work. The so-called quality newspaper The Telegraph (which we noted last time Goldacre reported had lost both its science editor and science correspondence) and that well-know bastion of journalism, The Sun.
  - how Lloyds' PR company Citigate Dewe Rogerson misrepresented survey data (and so maligning local government landlords) in a promotion for Lloyds Pharmacy (LloydsPharmacy (sic) as they like to be known) who were selling carbon monixide alarms.
  - the drug company Lilly publishing identical data on duloxetine - a newish antidepressant drug - twice over, in two entirely separate scientific papers. This may confuse doctors into thinking that two separate trials prove efficacy and may easily lead to incorrect presentation in meta-analysis (analysis that assemble the results of past analyses.
  - on quack degrees validated by the universities of Thames Valley and Westminster. Apparently teaching miasma theory (which flourished in the Middle Ages but was discredited from the 11th century) and alternative medical treatments. Indeed the TVU lecture notes are reported as saying "Students and practitioners alike are frequently subject to negative expressions and even frank hostility from relatives ... it is therefore best to be forewarned that your adherence to 'alternative' principles will be tested in these ways."... Could it be that their subject is not underpinned by science? You guess.
  - BBC Radio 4's programme Born With Down's claims more mothers are keeping children with Downs than ever before. Yet in fact the statistics are such that given we now have a larger and an ageing population (a factor encouraging Down's) the increase in such births should be far bigger (by a huge margin) than it actually is. This means that the real story is the opposite: screening is enabling more people to abort fetuses exhibiting Down's. Fortunately the Behind the Headlines service on the NHS Choices website has explained what is really going on.
  - the Telegraph, the Independent, the Mirror, the Express, the Mail, and the Metro all reported that a coroner was hearing the case of a child who died after receiving the MMR vaccine. However when the verdict was given a few days later it was declared that the vaccine had nothing to do with the child's death and yet only the Telegraph had the ethical honesty to report this to its readers.
  - a 'crap' Cambridge mathematician getting his sums wrong in a daft formula that purports to reveal is a woman's 'boob-line' is too low.
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 www.badscience.net.

So 2008 is now done and dusted... But hang on, the 2008 UN International Year of Planet Earth carries on into 2009! Yes, the year was originally seen as being so important that it straddled 2008 with events spilling over into 2009. The UNESCO activities also have stimulated some science research and when this is completed and written up you can expect to hear more wonders of geology and biosphere science especially as they relate to the current human condition. +++ You may recall that Arthur C. Clarke helped launch the UN International Year of Planet Earth.

2009's International Year of Astronomy anniversary is based on a bit of fictional science. Apparently it is meant to be 400 years since the telescope was used to make astronomical discoveries... However while a patent for what was to be known as a telescope was applied for 400 years ago (by one Hans Lipperhey of Middelburg in the Netherlands) the patent application was denied as the invention was already commonly known. Indeed it was already well known in Tudor England (for military purposes) and no doubt elsewhere (as by Galileo's time it was a novelty toy). So was Galileo really the first to use it to look at the Moon and even if he was, was December 2009 really when he first did it? Believe this if you must. Still, astronomy will see some major telescope developments over the next few years. These will include:-
          The James Webb Space Telescope - the hot successor to Hubble but with good infra red. Cost US$4.5 billion. Expected 2013.
          The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope - that will use massive computing power to assemble repeat pictures of the same part of the sky as well as to see how it changes in real time over 10 years. Cost US$390 million. Expected 2015.
          The European Extra Large Telescope that has a collection area of 1,385 square metres giving it a resolution 18 time better than Hubble. Cost Euros 950 million. Expect it in the 2010s.
          The Square Kilometre Array. Literally that! Made up of thousands of radio dishes that combined have a collecting area of a square kilometre but spread out over thousands of kilometres it will have a very high resolution. Expect dazzling visual pictures taken in the radiowave spectrum. And if there is anyone (still) using television EMR within a a couple of thousand light years (and we point the SKA correctly) then we will be able to tune into their SF shows... Bill Shatner watch out: this is a big space ham alert. Cost US$1.4 billion. Expected 2020s.

Time to look forward to 2009 and the really big science celebration of the double Charles Darwin anniversary. 2009 is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth and 150 years for the publication of Darwin's On The Origin of Species that popularised the Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin theory of evolution through the survival of the fittest. There are literally hundreds of events to mark this dual anniversary. The SFnal one in Britain with be Sci-Fi London 29th April - 3rd May which this year has as one of its themes 'evolution' and which also will see a couple of science programme items. (See earlier item and the re-print of On the Origin of Species.

And finally our predictions for 2009/10. Now the last time we did this was back in 2007. Yes, we have gone biennial simply because the future seems to be slow in coming even though we have a reasonable prediction track record to date. So what is outstanding and how well did we do last time (2007)?
          Previously Tony forecast a surge in artificial limb development as a result of Gulf War II and indeed we are seeing some amazing developments including snap-on limbs seated in bone as well as smart limbs with processors that can even out load. However even Tony did not foresee last year's (2008) double limb transplantation!
        Previously (2007) Simon predicted a sharp rise in concern over peak oil (has the World reached its peak rate of oil production) and boy was he right. In 2008 World crude oil prices jumped from US$70 in 2007 to US$140 and this indeed prompt much discussion about peak oil in the press and on TV. Coincidentally at the beginning of last year (with oil still well under US$100) our Jonathan, who is a Fellow of the Geological Society, attended its meeting on peak oil along with other folk such as the Vice Presidents of oil and gas exploration of major multinational oil companies. Yes there was debate at the meeting: would peak oil take place in 30 years time or will we see it very soon now? In short there was no real debate but all had very real concern, and much worry, that politicians really did not seem to be aware as to how serious the situation really was... Meanwhile on the physics front Graham has for some years now been predicting a re-think as to physicists' standard model: he has been predicting the arrival of a post-Copenhagen view resolving quantum mechanics and relativity. Finally Jonathan had last time predicted that the UN's global warming IPCC would up their forecast for sea level rise. As it turned out the perishers at the IPCC increased uncertainty and bunged in loads of caveats in the small print without coming out with a straight statement of possibly higher rates of sea level rise. Also we should not forget long-term Jonathan's prediction of a global pandemic but he asks us to extend it to perhaps also affecting one of the World's four main cereal crops. Finally, as Jonathan notes in
          As for new predictions Jonathan has previously noted in chapter 7 of his 2007 climate change book, the mid-21st century will see a crunch between soaring energy and food demand against a declining currently-conventional energy and food resource base. Now in the autumn both the immediate past and current UK Government's Chief Scientific Advisors have made a similar prediction (see David King's mid-21st century prediction a few items earlier)... Meanwhile Tony fears that contrary to governmental proclamations that the current financial recession will not end in 2009 but last through to the end of 2010. (Though he notes that anyone making a prediction about the current global financial meltdown is brave.)... Simon feels that urban air quality is going to be an issue of increasing concern in the west and more people will start burning solid fuels domestically. He also predicts a massive swing to renewable energies in the UK led by consumers, particularly solar hot water, from 100,000 known installations to well over 2 million by then end of 2010 even with the recession. And so, like Tony, Simon is also brave. Jonathan expands on Simon's theme with a generic prediction that the 21st century will see a shift to micro-generation with small-generating capapbility in individual domestic and commercial buildings, just as the 20th century saw a shift in developed nations to larger, centralised generating plant... Graham has a feeling in his water for a BIG volcanic eruption but this is unscientific and purely based his perception that there has not been a big eruption in recent years. ( Of course Jonathan points out that not all eruptions are covered by the media.) Graham's more considered prediction is that by the middle of the 21st century we will have both artificial intelligence and a good human-brain to computer linkage. This is because many elements are coming together: improved chips, hardware, processing, neurobiology, etc. Meanwhile in the short-term Graham feels that we may see many high street shops close. This is not just because of the recession. Prior to the recession that began in the 2008 autumn, many shops were under pressure due to the growth of internet retail. Add in the pressure from the recession itself and we are likely to see a radical shift in the developed nations' commercial landscape... Anyway, all these past and current predictions are a little confusing and so we summarise them below...

The Concatenation 2008/9 prediction summary. Our above thoughts as to what we might expect are simplified below.
      Short-term predictions up to 2010/11.
          - Recession continues throughout 2009 to 2010 with personal credit card crunch to follow.
          - High street shop closures due to both recession and to growth in developed nation internet retail.
          - Increased concern in developed nation urban air quality.
          - And our unscientific prediction, a bigger than usual volcanic eruption
      Long-term 2008 predictions up to 2030.
          - Increased developed nation domestic and industrial building microgeneration of energy.
          - IPCC's 2007 Global warming forecasts for temperature and sea level become more pessimistic.
          - Artificial intelligence and a good computer to human-brain interface.
          - A microbiological pandemic either in humans or a major food crop.
          - Physicists' 'standard model' will see a significant revision.
          - Mid-21st century population, energy, food crunch.

 

[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 2009

End Bits

 

More science and SF news will be reviewed in our Summer 2009 upload in April plus there will also be 'forthcoming' book releases for the Summer.   Meanwhile ensure you've added the Science Fact and Fiction Concatenation to your site favourites list. Also you can be alerted via e-mail when our next major update takes place. See below...

Ensure You Get the Season's News From Concat': We only update the Concatenation with news and reviews seasonally, with a three or four month gap in between. (There is occasionally just one update (such as a one-page Future's story) in between.) This means that regular visitors continually have to remember to check this site out after a few of months of inactivity.   To see how you can register click here

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Ian Case, Nuno Fonseca, Silviu Genescu, Roberto Quaglia, Louis Savy, and the many representatives of groups and professional companies' PR folk who sent 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).

News for the next seasonal upload - that covers the Summer 2009 period - needs to be in before mid-March. News (of the past spring period or of forthcoming summer events) 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.
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