Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Spring 2010

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 2010

EDITORIAL MATTERS

Thanks so, so much to all who got in touch with best wishes for our compatriot. All are appreciated and a few long-lost friends contact details were passed on. The good news is that there is some recovery though it has been a life-changing event. It was a near thing and could so easily have been so very much worse. The message to one and all is not to take for granted what, and who, you have with you today…

European SF classics not yet in English. We are working with the 2010 SF Euroconference London and are seeking the views of our mainland European readers for suggested SF novel titles of European classics not published in English. See the second half of the SF translation story below.

Concat Site Alert Closure Reminder. We will keep our currently signed-up readers informed for a little while longer (possibly even a few years) but will be not adding new e-mail addresses to our private contact list. We now have had a regular publishing schedule (see bottom of linked page) for the past few years so you should know when we have new stuff up, and besides we also now post (low down on the front home page) a short, big-font message about the current and next posting.   While we send out a three-figure worth of e-mail alerts each time, we currently get a five-figure a month number of unique visitors downloading a six-figure worth of pages and so the 'site alert' service represents barely one percent of our visitors. Dropping the alert service is one less thing for us to keep secure and to do.

 

Help support Concatenation: Get Essential Science Fiction which is also available from 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 2010

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

The best SF of the past year (2009).   Our choice recommendations of the Best science fiction books and best science fiction films to appear in the British Isles in 2009.

This season's science and SF prizes included: the Royal Society Popular Science prize, the Asahi Blue Planet Prize for global environmental science, a load of SF/F Awards with Britain's Festival of Fantastic Films, the France's various Utopiales and the International Horreur Film Fest awards, Spain's Andromeda and Xatafi-Cyberdark Awards, the Ukraine's Starbridge Awards and, last but not least, the International Bronze Icarus.   Also in 2010 there are to be changes to France's Le Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire ['The Imagination Big Prize'].

Book news – Includes : Top British SF/F and science writers of the decade; British authors' advances are down 70%!;   Book View Café goes Kindle bypassing publishers;   HarperCollins' new crossover SF&F imprint, Angry Robot, to go to N. America;  the British SF and fantasy imprint Solaris is leaving Games Workshop;   and Google is to sell books competing with Amazon.

Film news – Includes: Moon winning many SF awards and also a mundane biggie and its director plans to continue with SF;   Warner's creates Warner DC which follows Paramount's relationship with Marvel;   and there is a new Jurassic Park film as well as a Fantastic Voyage remake rumoured.

Television news – Includes: a lost Dr Who adventure is recovered, and Michael Moorcock is to write a Dr Who novel;   Primeval series is saved; and a TV mini-series honouring Ray Bradbury is being devised.

News of SF and science personalities includes, among many, that of: Ray Bradbury, Joe Haldeman, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman.

Major Summer SF events coming.   This year we can look forward to two (Yes 2!) major twin events: in Britain and in Australasia. In Easter in Britain over successive weekends there is the World Horror Convention followed by the British national convention cum Euroconference Odyssey 2010. Then later at the end of August in Australasia there is the New Zealand national convention with the following week the Worldcon in Melbourne.
          Because we at Concatenation really look after you, we have elsewhere on this site a guide to the British World Horror and national/Euroconference venue cities as well as a separate guide to the New Zealand national convention host city.
 

Our short video clip section this season features more than usual and so there is bound to be something for everyone… – See the section here.
 

Notable SF books due out in the run up to Easter include: Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky, Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds, The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar, and a welcome reprint of Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke.

Notable fantasy due out before Easter are: Avilion by Robert Holdstock, Hyddenworld: Spring by William Horwood, and welcome reprints include that of The Box of Delights by John Masefield and The Complete Lyonesse by Jack Vance.

Scientist and SF author arrested allegedly falsely and victimised. See the news here.

The Autumn saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included: Christopher Anvil, Norman Bier, Norman Borlaug, Ignatius Frederic (Ian) Clarke, Robert Holdstock, Dan O'Bannon, Robert Rines and Qian (H. S. Tsien) Xuesen.

 

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 2010

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SF NEWS

Best SF books of 2009. Yes, it is the start of a new year and so time for an informal look back at the last one. Here are a few of the books that we rated published in the British Isles last year (obviously there are other worthy offerings as well as titles published elsewhere). We have a varied mix for you so there should be something for everyone. So if you are looking for something to read then why not check out these Science Fiction books 2009:-
          Nova War by Gary Gibson is a romp of a space opera that has the vague feel of Niven's 'Known Space'.
          Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley, is a solid space opera set within our solar system not too far in the future following a climate overturn on Earth. More complex and less gung-ho than Gibson's space opera (above), so different. Great characterization and space combat set against the backdrop of our system's gas giants.
          The City and the City by China Mieville, excellent literary speculative fiction.
          Retromancer by Robert Rankin, is a comic science fantasy from a cult master writer with a particularly eccentric sense of humour.
          Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds, actually this technically comes out this year (2010) but advance copies were around in 2009. It is post-Eganesque ultra-hard SF. Brilliant!
          Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson is a kind of science fantasy that is part SF and part historical novel.
On the fantasy and horror front there was:-
          Avilion by Robert Holdstock, the sequel to the classic Mythago Wood.
          The Last Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko, which is part of his acclaimed 'Watch' series of good werewolves, vampires and mages balancing bad ones. OK, so this came out earlier in Russia but that is no reason not to rate it for us Western Europeans.
          The Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett, need any more be said.
          Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, a good first novel aimed at a teenage readership but adults will like it too, and it has a reasonably fresh take on zombies.
And if you missed this exercise last year (covering 2008) then you can find it here.

Best SF films (movies) of 2009. Well there has been the usual debate as to our informal consideration for better or worse. We have a varied mix (sci fi, SF, space opera, fantasy and horror) for you so there should be something in this, best of science fiction films 2009, for everyone here:-
          Avatar, a space opera from James Cameron that may have a two-dimensional plot but it has genuinely fantastical visuals.
          Cyborg She, an accomplished Japanese time travel rom-com. OK, this came out in 2008 in Japan but only in 2009 in Europe and the rest of the west.
          District 9, is an alien contact thriller concerning the integration of aliens from a huge ship in S. Africa. It has won three awards for best screenplay.
          Eraser Children, an Australian offering that sort of mixes Brazil and Max Headroom.
          Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was a huge box office success and so we include it.
          The Hunt for Gollum is a fan film – yes fan film made for diddly-squat – that just raised the fan-film bar. OK, so the thin plot does not flow as it might, but not only is the acting competent, the photography is absolutely stunning and make-up brilliant! What is more it is based on a chain of events outlined in The Lord of the Rings appendices. It received a commendation at Britain's Festival of Fantastic Films. An absolute must for Lord of the Rings fans.
          Lat Den Ratte Komma In [Let The Right One In] is a simply brilliant Swedish vampire film. It concerns a young boy, Oskar, who is bullied but gets a new friend in the girl Eli who has moved in next door. But young Eli is in fact over 200 years old. The boy finds out what she is and has to decide between her friendship and accepting what she really stands for. Though this film came out in Scandinavia in 2008 with a sprinkling of screenings at fests in other countries, it only had its general and DVD releases in most countries (including Great Britain, France, Germany and Russia) in 2009 and so counts outside of Scandinavia as a best film of 2009. (Its US DVD release was March 2009.) It has won many (56 awards to date) as fantastic film fests in many countries, as well as some more mainstream awards, and has been nominated for 16 more!
          Moon is near-future hard SF in which a lone lunar dust sifter (for helium-3) looks forward to his duty tour's end, but does his habitat's artificial intelligence know something he does not? This one has won prizes (note the plural) at this year's Utopiales as well as awards (note plural) from Stiges, as well as picking up the (non-SF/mainstream) 'Best Film' British Independent Award. (Steve Green, Brit fan and regular Fantastic Film Delta Award judge, urges this year's Worldcon participants consider Moon for a Hugo.)
          Star Trek, we mention this as it is bound to be popular (hence get nominated for a Hugo) but actually we had mixed feelings about this franchise re-boot as some of us feel it is time to move on from ST, as fun as it was decades ago.
          Thirst [Bakjwi], is a South Korean vampire film concerning a priest who volunteers for a medical experiment that goes wrong. This has won three awards including at Cannes.
          Watchmen. This is based on the seminal 1987 graphic novel by Alan (V for Vendetta) Moore and Dave (2000AD) Gibbons. It is set in an alternate Earth in which costumed super heroes really do exist. As such they are used by the Government until the people get worried and so nearly all the heroes are forced to retire. Then one former hero is murdered and another, Rorshach who never really retired, sets out to find his killer... Now the original graphic novel had all the depth and character of a text-only novel and the story the richness and allegory of much of Moore's other work. This is a faithful adaptation though some of the acting is wooden and part of the plot is missing. Otherwise this film made a fair go of it.
And if you missed this exercise last year (covering 2008) then you can find it here.
You may also be interested in the most pirated SF films of 2009 piece in our films section.

The 2009 Nobel prizes have been announced.
          Physics: Charles K. Kao (Singapore/UK), Willard S. Boyle (US) and George E. Smith US. Kao gets half the prize for "for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibres for optical communication" and Boyle and Smith the other half for "the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the Charge Couple Device sensor".
          Chemistry: Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (India/UK), Thomas A. Steitz (US) and Ada E. Yonath (Israel) for studies of the structure and function of the cells ribosome.
          Medicine: Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak, all from the US, for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.

The 2009 Ig Nobels have been awarded. They are in their 19th year. The winners included:-
          Veterinary Medicine: Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK, for showing that cows who have names give more milk than cows that are nameless. Reference: "Exploring Stock Managers' Perceptions of the Human-Animal Relationship on Dairy Farms and an Association with Milk Production," Catherine Bertenshaw [Douglas] and Peter Rowlinson, Anthrozoos, 2009, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 59-69.
          Economics: The directors, executives, and auditors of four Icelandic banks — Kaupthing Bank, Landsbanki, Glitnir Bank, and Central Bank of Iceland — for demonstrating that tiny banks can be rapidly transformed into huge banks, and vice versa — and for demonstrating that similar things can be done to an entire national economy.
          Chemistry: Javier Morales, Miguel Apátiga, and Victor M. Castaño of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, for creating diamonds from liquid — specifically from tequila. Reference: "Growth of Diamond Films from Tequila," Javier Morales, Miguel Apatiga and Victor M. Castano, 2008, arXiv:0806.1485.
          Medicine: Donald L. Unger, of Thousand Oaks, California, USA, for investigating a possible cause of arthritis of the fingers, by diligently cracking the knuckles of his left hand — but never cracking the knuckles of his right hand — every day for more than sixty (60!) years. Reference: "Does Knuckle Cracking Lead to Arthritis of the Fingers?", Donald L. Unger, Arthritis and Rheumatism, 1998, vol. 41, no. 5, pp. 949-50.

The Royal Society Award for adult popular science writing have been announced. The winner was:-
          The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes (Harper Press)
The runners up were:-
          What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life by Avery Gilbert (Crown Publishers)
          Bad Science by Ben Goldacre (Harper Perennial)
          Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer by Jo Marchant (William Heinemann)
          The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow (Penguin)
          Your Inner Fish: The Amazing Discovery of our 375-million-year-old Ancestor by Neil Shubin (Penguin)
Richard Holmes therefore picks up a cheque for £10,000 (US$19,600). He is a professor of biographical studies at the University of East Anglia. His book was also short-listed for the Dingle Prize for the history of science.   Runner-up Ben Goldacre is to appear at Odyssey2010 this Easter's British natcon and Euroconference at Heathrow (next to London airport).   The Royal Society prize is a juried award. It has previously been known by its sponsors such as Rhone-Poulenc and Aventis in turn, but has always been overseen by the Royal Society's public engagement committee (for many years known as the Committee for the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS)).
          Meanwhile the Royal Society president has been dispensing advice on science and SF on national radio. See the item in ourInterface – Science & SF subsection later.

This year's Asahi Blue Planet Prizes went to:-
          Hirofumi Uzawa (Japan) for environmental economics and the concept of the social common capital.
          Nicholas Stern (Great Britain) for the Economics of Climate Change (2006) (of which one of us is envious as our man's book on the same lines came out eight years before Stern's; the rest of us think this is very funny). Both winners each receive 50 million yen (£333,000, US$540,000).
          For last year's Blue Planet Prizes see see here.

The 2009 Euro PAWS (Midas) Awards for science and engineering communication are out. The winners of the Midas Prize were:-
          TV Documentary & Drama: Countdown on the Yangtze (German documentary about environmental degradation due to development pressures).
          General TV Programming: E-Waste Scandal in Ghana (German documentary).
          Environmental Science New Media: Fusion 2100 (DVD, Germany).
Of note to science fact and fiction Concateneers was the short-listed Die Hitzelle [The Heatwave] a German drama set in the near future when a heatwave sees the national water supply reach a crisis point, resulting in water theft (including a contaminated batch). The Germans had a winning streak this year. But also short-listed were a couple of the BBC Newsnight 'Ethical Man' reports from the US. Brilliant stuff. The awards evening saw two interesting speeches from Lord Puttnam and Prof Mark Maslin. There was also an – it has to be said a rather boring – technology-led (audience electronic voting) panel discussion. However, the brief clips screened of the short-listed entries left one wishing to see more. The awards were presented in central London and were followed by a small reception overlooking the Thames. (Stunning city lights bouncing off the river view.)
          For last year's Midas Awards see see here.

Young European scientist 2009 Eppendorf Award presented for DNA replicative stress damage. The award presented was jointly with the journal Nature in Dusseldorf, Germany, and went to Oscar Fernandez-Capetillo of Spain. This form of damage takes place when cells reproduce and is associated with ageing. It comes with a 15,000 Euro prize (£13,800). The award is selected by an expert jury and 2009 was its 15th year.

The 2009 International Bronze Icarus was presented for the 5th year in October. The announcement was made in the Crimea and though 'international' primarily relates to SF and its promulgation as well as related popular science from the former Soviet nations.
          Work: 'Trickster' by Yaroslav Verov & Igor Minakov
          Development of SF Literature: Pavel Amnuel
Those behind the award include the Moscow Union of Writers, the publishing house 'Equilibrium' (Moscow), and the publishing house 'Tretiy Etazh'.

French SF Awards at the 2009 SF Utopiales, in Nantes, France. Bigger than the Worldcon, if you speak French this is the west's SF event of the year for both cinematic and book buffs. The principal prizes and principal categories (there are others) were:-
Prix Européen Utopiales des Pays de la Loire: Le Déchronologue by Stéphane Beauverger
Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire ['The Imagination Big Prize']
          Francophone Novel: Le Déchronologue by Stéphane Beauverger
          Translated Novel: Roi du Matin, Reine du Jour [King of Morning, Queen of Day] by Ian McDonald
          European Prize: La Maison d’Ailleurs ['The House of Elsewhere'] (the SF museum in Switzerland)
Prix Julia Verlanger: Eifelheim by Michael Flynn
International Film Competition
          Grand Prix du Jury (juried award): a tie with Moon (US, 2009) and Kurôn Wa Kokyô O Mezasu [The Clone Returns Home] (Japan, 2008)
          Le Prix SF du public (public vote award): Moon (US, 2009)
Full details on www.utopiales.org.
Comment: All are very worthy wins (which is actually saying a lot given what we sometimes end up with from of some major awards). Prix Européen Utopiales des Pays de la Loire comes with a cash prize of 3,000 euros (£2,700). The double win for Le Déchronologue by Stéphane Beauverger is particularly noteworthy. The novel starts off an historical tale of pirates in the Caribbean but becomes SF when time travellers are added to the mix.   The Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire was established in 1974. Some of Ian McDonald's books we have reviewed elsewhere and we do like him.   La Maison d’Ailleurs is a wonderful venture that was founded back in 1975 based in Yverdon, Switzerland, 25 miles (40km) north of Lausanne (and is on the Swiss rail network should you wish to visit).   The Prix Julia Verlanger is the other Utopiales award that comes with a cash prize – 2,500 euros (£2,250).   The film wins were up against stiff competition. That Moon received both a juried as well as a public vote prize should tell you something, but eagle-eyed regular Concatenation readers will have seen Moon cited a few times in some of our previous season's newscasts. (Its DVD is now out see below.) It concerns a lone lunar miner who is coming to the end of his lengthy tour of duty filtering helium-3 from the Moon's surface, but does his artificial intelligence computer know something he does not? (Moon also cleaned up at Spain's Stiges festival (see immediately below).   Kurôn Wa Kokyô O Mezasu [The Clone Returns Home] concerns a clone that was to be created in the event an astronaut dies in space. With an art-house feel it is atmospheric reminiscent of the original Solaris.   As said there was stiff competition. Among the shortlist there was: Cold Souls (US/France), Canary (US) and Infestation (US).   Cold Souls is a comedy in which an actor (played by himself in the film) decides to have his soul technologically removed so as to be able to clearly interpret a play. He undergoes the operation fully intending to put his soul back but things do not quite go to plan.   Canary is biomedical science fiction in which a medical company takes transplantation to unusual lengths.   Infestation is an action comedy in which a loser, office worker gets knocked out only to wake to find the Earth over run by insectile invaders and so he teams up with an odd-ball bunch of survivors.
          For last year's various Utopiales prizes see here.

Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire ['The Imagination Big Prize'] is to move from SF Utopiales in 2010 and have new categories. The prize is France's oldest genre award in and 2010 will be its 38th year. There will be two new categories: data base and manga. Also the juvenile fiction category will now be divided into two distinct categories: Francophone original and translation. (See the previous item for this year's principal category wins.)   The Imaginaires presentation will now move the SF Utopiales from be presented at the 21st Etonnants Voyageurs [Astonishing Travellers] International Book And Film Festival, which is earlier in the year in May. This change of date means that for the 38th year of the prizes there will be a shorter short list selection period (which ended in December (2009)). The Utopiales retains the Prix Européen Utopiales des Pays de la Loire, the Prix Julia Verlanger, and the International Film Competition prizes.

Moon cleans up at Spain's Stiges Festival of Fantastic Films. Moon came away with the 'Best Feature', 'Best Production Design', 'Best Script', and 'Best Actor'. The film concerns a lone helium-3 miner on the Moon who, after a number of years, is coming to the end of his shift. But does his artificial intelligence computer know something he does not? Moon comes from a British independent company, Liberty Films, and is directed by Duncan Jones. The DVD is just out (see below) and it also picked up the 'Best Film' at the British Independent Film Awards.

The 2009 World Fantasy Awards were presented at the World Fantasy Convention 2009 in San Jose, California. It is a juried award. The principal category wins were:-
          Lifetime Achievement: Ellen Asher and Jane Yolen
          Best Novel (tie): The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford and Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan.
Details of all the category wins can be found on the worldfantasy.org site.

The Ukraine's Starbridge Awards were presented at last autumn's Starbridge. The principal category wins were:-
          Gold - Novel - Olga Gromyko for "Year of the Rat Vidunya"
          Silver - Novel - Marina and Sergey Dyachenko for "There is no Evil Power"
          Bronze - Novel - Ian Jacks for "School for Scoundrels"
          Gold - Series and Sequels - Sergei Lukyanenko for "Lout"
          Silver - Series and Sequels - Maria Galina for the "Low Wilderness"
          Bronze - Series and Sequels - Alexander Gromov for "A Dinosaur's Chance"
          Gold - New Author - Karina Shainyan for "The Life Monsters" (The book was co-written with Dimitri Kolodanom, but the debutant, hence prize recipient, was Karina Shainyan.)
          Silver - New Author - Natalia Shcherba for "Being a Witch"
          Bronze - New Author - Vitaly Obedina for "Wild Talent" (The book was co-written with Shimun Vrochekom, but debutant was just Vitaly Obedina.)
Note: Olga Gromyko got a Silver for his novel "Flower of Kamaleynika" a couple of years ago. Also previously Sergey Dayachencko got a Bronze for his novel "Wild Energy". Both are popular authors in Russia and the Ukraine. Sergei Lukyanenko is, of course, something of a superstar genre writer in Russian countries. Alexander Gromov is also a familiar name to Concatenation regulars.

Spain's Andromeda prize announced. This prize is a juried award for speculative fiction written in Spanish. The judges met to make their announcement in Spain's city of Mataró. The winners were:-
          Novel - (tie) La Geisha de Bucareli [Bucareli’s Geisha] by Héctor Chavarria (México) & El Extraño [The Stranger by Manuel Benítez Bolorinos (Alicante, Spain)
          Short Story - “Idempotente de Antonio” ["Antonio's Idempotence"] by Moreno Álvarez (Seville, Spain)
Overall 149 works were submitted for consideration with over a third from Spain. Entries were also received from Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba, and Chile among other countries.

Spain's IV Xatafi-Cyberdark Award of Fantastic Literature Critics. The award is promoted by the Cultural Association 'Xatafi' which is whose members are writers, university teachers, translators, critics and directors of magazines. The prize money comes from the Spain's online bookshop Cyberdark. The award was given by a jury of critics of fantastic literature, who evaluated the previous year's best works published in Spain of science fiction, fantasy and horror. This year the jury was consisted of Lola Coll, Alfredo Lara, Juan Manuel Santiago, Arturo Villarrubia, and Mariano Villarreal with Alberto García-Teresa acting as secretary. The winners were:-
          Spanish Novel (this year a tie): El mapa del Tiempo [The Map of Time] by Félix J. Palma, and
          El hermano de las Moscas by Jon Bilbao
          Spanish Short Story: 'Mosquitos' by Marc R. Soto (the anthology El hombre divergente)
          Foreign Novel: The Yiddish’s Policemen Union by Michael Chabon
          Foreign Short Story: 'The Index' by J. G. Ballard (in J.G. Ballard's anthology Fiebre de Guerra)
          Publisher: Francisco Arellano, because of Biblioteca del Laberinto.

The Awards from France's Festival International Du Film D'Horreur have been announced. Some 500 gathered for this 2nd convention in Sainte-Maxime, for what now seems a series as details of next year's event have also been announced. The principal category award wins were:-
Official Competition
          Prix d'Or (Gold): Human Centipede by Tom Six
          Prix d'Argent (Silver): Stoic [Stoica] by Uwe Boll
          Prix de Bronze (Bronze): Blackaria by François Gaillard & Christophe Robin
Competition Midnight
          Prix d'Or (Gold): Murder Set Pieces by Nick Palumbo
          Prix d'Argent (Silver): Neighbor by Robert Angelo Masciantonio
          Prix de Bronze (Bronze): Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl by Yoshihiro Nishimura & Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Prix Meilleur [Best] Film (run by dead.com): Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl by Yoshihiro Nishimura & Naoyuki Tomomatsu

New Scientist very short story competition winners announced. The winners were: Wise@SS2.0 by Mike Barretta (US) which is fantastic; A Reasonable Offer by Christopher Hanula (Canada) which is environmentally frightening; and Body Search by Simon Barron (Great Britain) which is biomedically worrying. Though under 500 words the winners are brilliant entries that deserve being professionally published in a hard SF anthology. Seek them out. (See also http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2009/12/flash-fiction-competition-winners. Stephen Baxter was involved in the judging.

New award for SF translation announced at World Fantasy Con. The new award will be for works of SF or fantasy. There will be two categories: one for long-form (over 40k words) and one for short-form. The award goes to both the translator and the author and is for works translated into English. The organisers, sfftwards.org, are in the process of establishing a cash prize fund and themselves as a non-profit organization in California. Our congratulations, as we at Concatenation have had over two decades of working with the non-English speaking SF community. In recent years we have been reporting on overseas SF prizes and it is often frustrating to see some titles receive awards in more than one country but we are unable to read them as they are not translated into English. +++ European SF classics not yet in English. Some of the Concatenation team are working with the Odyssey2010 Euroconference and Eastercon and the European SF community to ascertain classic SF novels from mainland Europe that have not yet been translated into English. Suggestions from our mainland European readers would be welcome. Get in touch with us at info[-at-]concatenation[-dot-]org and do your bit to help promote your country's classics. We particularly want to see if the suggestions we have from Russia, Germany, France and Hungary are shared by others, so do send us your views.

Science Fiction/Fantasy Odyssey Writing Workshop. The 2010 Odyssey writers workshop will be held from 7th June to 16th July at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA. Odyssey is held every summer on Saint Anselm College's beautiful campus in Manchester, NH. Saint Anselm is one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the US. Class meets for four hours in the morning, five days a week. Students spend about eight hours more per day writing and critiquing each other's work. Prospective students, aged eighteen and up, apply from all over the world. The early admission application deadline is 30th January, and the regular admission deadline is 8th April. Tuition is US$1,900, and housing is US$775 for a double room and US$1,550 for a single. Odyssey's 2010 writer-in-residence is Laura Anne Gilman. She is a former Executive Editor at NAL/Penguin USA and the author of several fantasy series. 2010 guest lecturers: Bram Stoker Award-winner Michael A. Arnzen; World Fantasy Award-winner Elizabeth Hand; Gregory Frost, best-selling author and Swarthmore College Fiction Writing Workshop Director; Alexander Jablokov, author of six science fiction novels; and David G. Hartwell, Senior Editor at Tor/Forge Books, winner of several Hugo awards, a World Fantasy award, and editor of four Nebula-winning novels. If interested contact: jcavelos[-at-]sff.net.

Canadian marine biologist and Hugo-nominated SF author Peter Watts arrested in December. He was returning from the US to Canada when he was stopped by the US border patrol. He pulled over and – so he and an accompanying witness say – a cluster of guards surrounded the car. He got out to ask what was going on (big mistake) and on not getting any reply asked again (a bigger mistake) and was told to get back in the car. He did not. (Huge mistake – did he not realise these are the land-of-the-free cops and they are going to keep it that way?) And so, it is reported, he got punched in the face, pepper-sprayed, kicked, handcuffed, and thrown wet and half-naked into a holding cell for three hours before being moved to an even colder cell, arraigned, and charged with assaulting a federal officer, all without access to legal representation (although reportedly they did try twice to get him to waive his Miranda rights). Finally, he was released across the border in shirtsleeves. His computer has been seized, flash-drive confiscated, as well as his paper notepad. Later he was left without a jacket in Ontario’s first winter storm. He faces being summoned back to the States to stand trial and, if convicted, a possible two-year jail sentence. Another author John Scalzi has the story and news of the legal fund-raising now underway. At his preliminary hearing the police did not provide CCTV footage despite the incident taking place at a border crossing. +++ Peter Watts' novel Blindsight (2006) was nominated for a Hugo.

The British book-format magazine Postscripts is getting bigger, going biannual... There is to be no change in subscription prices! Now approaching its seventh year, PS's flagship publication -- having already established itself as one of the premier magazines in horror, fantasy and SF short stories -- has settled into life as a full-blown, bona-fide, state-of-the-art, no-questions-asked, tell-it-like-it-is, cutting-edge, where-it's-at hardcover anthology containing all that is exceptionally fine in the field of genre fiction. But putting it out four times a year is taking its toll on the PS Publishing team... So they have reduced the frequency to twice-yearly but, at the same time, more than double the contents. Therefore the only thing that readers will be short of is two sets of boards every year. Starting with issues 20/21 they are dropping Postscripts to two 150,000-word books per year (300,000 words total) -- each one with its own title -- instead of four 65,000-word issues (260,000 words total). But worry not – it is not going to cost you any more for your fix.

On-Spec, the Canadian state of Ontario's speculative fiction magazine, celebrates its 20th anniversary. On-Spec marked the occasion in part with a special editorial from Robert Sawyer. Last year also saw it begin to put electronic editions on Zinio.

Death Ray magazine closes after 21 issues. One of Britain's large (180 pages) full colour glossy magazines, it is indicative of the British SF market and the recession. It was launched back in the summer 2007 by Blackfish Publishing which in turn is owned by Rebellion (the computer games people who also do the SF comic 2000 AD) from which Blackfish is now splitting. Issue 21 is the last though other Rebellion related publications did carry advertising for issue 22, which suggests that this split was on the precipitous side.   Death Ray's summer launch in 2007 happened to coincide with the launch of SciFi Now magazine. At the time we commented that we thought the British market had more glossy monthly SF magazines than could be easily sustained: we cited principal competitors as SFX, Starburst and Dreamwatch. So from our perspective we are not surprised at the demise. Even so it is disheartening as only last season Starburst ceased publication: Starburst was founded in 1978 long before SFX and might be considered as SFX light (MIR Fantastic is the closest equivalent to SFX in Eastern Europe). Conversely Death Ray was perhaps aimed at just a slightly more sophisticated SF readership than SFX. We understand that the decline in advertising revenue to Blackfish may be behind the decision. There is a slim chance that Blackfish's new owners may find a home for Death Ray.

 

[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 2010

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

Brian Aldiss along with Warwick U. mathematician and SF fan Ian Stewart participate in BBC Radio 4's flagship news programme Today just before the New Year. Both exercised old hobbyhorses. Brian recounted that he writes 'metaphorical realism' in which he takes what could be a local event (hence only of greater interest to those from that place) and turns it into a global one on a bigger canvas. It is then relevant to the whole world but in the process may have been transformed from something that could have passed for being mainstream into something that was science fiction, and so the two can be confused. He noted the theme to his book Greybeard (1964) marketed as SF whereas P. D. James' novel Children of Men (1992) (also a film) with exactly the same theme was presented as mainstream fiction as most of that author's fiction is not about global events but murder mysteries affecting only individuals.   Ian Stewart commented that Margaret Atwood is noted in SF circles for denying that her writing is SF (for example see last season's news) even though it deals with topics such as radically dystopian societies, extensive genetic engineering, mass flooding etc.   Both Aldiss and Stewart were on the Today programme as part of a special edition guest edited (as happens each year between Christmas and New Year) by invited great and the good, in this case the Astronomer Royal (and current President of the Royal Society) Sir Martin Rees. Sir Martin also added a genre-related science comment, for which see our Interface – Science & SF subsection later.

J. G. Ballard was the subject of a half hour programme on the BBC's national Radio 4, Archive on Four. The programme was presented by the writer Will Self.   J. G. Ballard died last summer.

Octavia Butler, who sadly died in 2006, has had her archive of paper donated to the Huntingdon Library in San Marino, California, US. These include eight file cabinet draws of manuscripts, letters, photographs etc.

Ray Bradbury has celebrated his 89th year with a pseudo-birthday celebration. For the highlight of his day he returned to an old haunt. Ray had belonged to a science fiction society whose members met in the 1930s at Clifton's Cafeteria on Broadway in downtown Los Angles. So he went there for a celebration and was presented with an unbirthday cake by the current owners. The pseudo celebration was held halfway between his real birthday on 22nd August and 15th October which was the anniversary of the science fiction society's founding by Forrest Ackerman who died last year aged 92. Another early member was film special effects maker Ray Harryhausen. +++ Bradbury new TV mini-series news below.

Stephen Baxter has been judging the New Scientist very short SF story competition. (See item earlier.)

Christopher Ecclestone, former Dr Who star, is to lead in a TV play about Beatle John Lennon. The play marks 30 years since the singer's murder.

Steven Erikson's first Malazan title, Gardens of the Moon, has had a special 10th anniversary edition published in the British Isles by Bantam (Transworld). Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen has established itself as one of the most celebrated and acclaimed works of epic fantasy in the new Millennium. This is the first ever UK hardback edition of the book and it includes a special foreword from the author. Its ISBN for ordering purposes is 978-0-593-06506-8.

Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book not only won SF's prestigious Hugo Award last season but has now been honoured by another (this time non-SF) prize – the Booktrust Teenage Prize. Congratulations. +++ And, in case you missed it, 20 years ago back when we were a print semi-prozine, Neil kindly provided Quorn vs the Microwave Popcorn. +++ Neil will be in Wellington, New Zealand, on the 13th March (2010) as a speaker at the NZ International Arts Festival being held in Wellington.

Joe Haldeman has been in intensive care following bad abdominal pains (he is now out recuperating). It turned out he had a twisted bowel that necessitated surgery and there was pancreatitis too. The 66 year old N. American author is well known this side of the Atlantic and a few of our Concatenation team have on a number of occasions enjoyed his company when he has been visiting SF groups in the more remote parts of Eastern Europe. Joe is now out of hospital and recuperating. He has some follow-up surgery in six months time. We wish him well for his recovery and our thoughts are also with his wife Gay. +++ Joe's next novel is Starbound which should be out about now (January 2010) from Ace in N. America. It is the sequel to Marsbound. Joe was working on Earthbound the final part of the trilogy, when he became ill. +++ Joe is to receive the SFWA's Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in May at the Nebula Awards weekend.

Joe Hill's novel Horns is to have its Australian paperback release from Gollancz in February (Aus$32.99). All well and good, but the author is probably as delighted that the book has been optioned by Mandalay Pictures for big screen treatment… Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with one hell of a hangover, a raging headache... and a pair of horns growing from his temples. Now Ig is possessed with a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look and he means to use it to find the man who killed his girl and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge; it's time the devil had his due… Sounds interesting. We have previously reviewed Joe's collection 20th Century Ghosts.

Diana Wynne Jones has sadly had a fall breaking her hip so necessitating replacement surgery. She is now home. Best wishes for a full recuperation.

Jasper Kent one of Britain's top selling debut authors in 2009, will have his books come out in the US. Jasper's historical vampire novel (set in Russia in 1812 – there's probably a soundtrack in there somewhere), called Twelve (Transworld) was the second-highest-selling trade paperback debut novel right across UK publishing in 2009. The sequel, Thirteen Years Later is due to come out in March. However the good news for our N. American cousins is that the books will also be coming out courtesy of Pyr.

Stephen King announces film and mini-series at a signing for his new book Under the Dome. He has now written the screenplay for The Cell. Meanwhile Under the Dome is apparently going to be made into a TV miniseries. He also revealed that he is working on a new Dark Tower book. +++ At a subsequent signing, Stephen King announced there would be a follow-up book to The Shining. It is not so much a what-happened-next sequel but a fresh story following the (formerly) young Danny 40 years on. He will be living in upstate New York, where he works as the equivalent of an orderly at a hospice for the terminally ill. Danny's real job is to visit with patients who are just about to pass on to the other side, and to help them make that journey with the aid of his mysterious powers. Danny also has a sideline in betting on the horses, a trick he learned from his buddy Dick Hallorann.

Jay Lake has had a major operation to remove a cancer. It appears to have been successful. All wishes for a speedy recuperation.

Ursula K. Le Guin has celebrated her 80th birthday. Hearty congratulations. And in Britain we have a 40th anniversary hardback edition of her masterpiece (well, one of her masterpieces) The Left Hand of Darkness ISBN: 978-1-841-49606-1. We also had BBC Radio 7 mark her birthday with a reading of her story 'Diary of the Rose'. +++ She has resigned from the US Authors' Guild over their deal (settlement) with Google. Details are on her website www.ursulakleguin.com. +++ Also see our related story later about Google being fined for scanning French published books.

Gail Z. Martin has announced her forthcoming new series of fantasy books – 'The Fallen Kings Cycle'. The first title, The Sworn is currently slated for release in 2011. Though with its own identity, this new series does follow on from 'The Chronicles of the Necromancer' sequence.   It follows the fate of Summoner King, Martris Drayke, as he struggles to maintain the tenuous peace he has won for Margolan with a new saga in the Chronicles of the Necromancer universe. +++ Gail's Charlotte: The Chronicles of the Necromancer will be released as an audio-book from 'Audible'. Also the series Dark Lady's Chosen has just come out in print from Brit publisher Rebellion/Solaris and the afore audio-book launch is timed to coincide with this event. Meanwhile in N. America there will be a promotional book tour:-
          Jan. 23, 1 - 3pm - Borders Books, Northlake Mall, Charlotte, NC
          Jan 30, 1-3pm - Books A Million, Concord Mills, Concord, NC
          Feb 2010 - AZ Renaissance Festival
          Feb. 26 - 28 - SheVaCon, Roanoke, VA
          Mar 3-7 - StellarCon, High Point, NC
          Apr 9 - 11 - RavenCon, Richmond, VA
          Memorial Day Weekend - Balticon, Baltimore, MD

China Miéville spoke at the Kansas Union’s Alderson Auditorium in Lawrence, US, as this year’s Richard W. Gunn Memorial Lecturer. His topic was 'Cognition as Ideology: A Dialectic of SF Theory.'

Michael Moorcock is writing a Dr Who novel. For the past couple of years he has been unable to work due to his painful foot. He has begun a trilogy of autobiographical novellas and novels in which he examines his taste for romance and fantasy: his characters are thinly disguised versions of writers and others associated with New Worlds magazine.

Rog Peyton, long-standing Brit SF bookseller, comes back out of retirement! He had only announced his retirement last season. Apparently re-wiring his house leading to the discovery of extensive woodworm means he needs to continue selling for a few years yet.

Terry Pratchett has criticised the new British legal guidelines on assisted suicide for the terminally ill. Issued to clarify the law in England and Wales - it offers no guarantees against prosecution. Instead the director of public prosecutions spelled out the range of factors that will be taken into account when deciding on cases. These include whether there was a financial motive, and looking into how the decision to die was made. The guidance does not represent a change in the law. Assisting suicide is illegal and carries a jail term of up to 14 years. Terry said: "It would appear they are suggesting that people could help you commit suicide, and then the police would investigate as an act of murder." He also said: "I have suggested that there should be possibly some kind of non-aggressive tribunal system where someone who, for whatever reasons wishes to end their life - and I would only really accept medical reasons, I must say - can make their points to a magistrate or a coroner along with the medical evidence on which they wish to end their life," before adding, "I believe that the reason I wish to end my life is because of a medical condition - it's not bad yet but it will eventually get very bad and Alzheimer's is the most feared disease among the over-60s... It is not nice and I do not wish to be there for the endgame."   +++ Terry's novel Nation has been adapted for the stage by Mark Ravenhill and put on at the Royal National Theatre by Melly Still. Alas the reviews are rather negative with the consensus being that there is a loss of coherence with too much being crammed in. Also what works well, wrapped up with wit, in the book comes across a little patronising on stage.

Philip Pullman's has re-written the end of the Gospels to give the story of Jesus a different ending. He read this out at London's Globe theatre as part of an evening to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Reprieve, an organisation which campaigns for the rights of prisoners. His ending depicts what might well have happened had Jesus benefited from a fair trial. +++ His Dark Materials, as Ansible reports, was number two in the American Library Association list of books most 'challenged' by would-be US censors in 2008. 'Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence.' Dave Langford notes that he seems to remember the trilogy advocates the fearfully un-American concepts of a republic (politics) and the separation of church and state (religion)... +++ Mixed news…He was delighted when the Government backed down on the UK government's plan for occasional school volunteers and visitor to have to be criminal checked. He and other authors had previously complained. Now the Government says that only those who come into contact with the same school children more than four times a month need register. Authors who go from one school to another do not have the repeat visits to groom children before sexually preying on them. (Indeed, have there been any instances of a visiting author doing this?) This change in the rules means that instead of nine million needing to be vetted it is only seven million (which is still roughly 10% of the UK population).   However the rules still currently mean that anyone proven innocent by a court of a misdemeanour involving children will be included on the list as unsuitable for contact with children. Pullman said: "They are taking a basic principle of English law and throwing out of the window."

Sir Peter Scott would have been 100 this autumn. Sir Peter was instrumental in raising the profile of wildlife conservation in the UK in the middle of the 20th century. Incidentally, he was also the son of Scott of Antarctica. BBC marked the anniversary with programmes on the man and his work.

David Tennant looked back on his tenure as Dr Who on BBC1's Graham Norton show. When asked why he quit after four years he revealed that he could have gone on forever but wanted to leave while doing the show was still a joy. He never wanted to be in the position of turning up for work and thinking, oh not the Daleks. Asked whether or not he would be watching the new Doctor he answered, yes. One of the show's fans in the audience asked whether following his performance in Hamlet he thought Shakespeare or Russell T. Davies is the better writer? After just a couple of seconds thought, Tennant replied that Russell was the Shakespeare of our time… (to which Norton ventured that Tennant could have pointed out that Russell is the better writer as Shakespeare is dead). A TV version with Patrick Stewart was broadcast over Christmas (2009). +++ David Tennant also appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs between Christmas and New Year. He revealed that he had been a Dr Who fan since a boy of 8 and remembered meeting Tom Baker at a book signing when child David wore a Dr Who Baker scarf. As a child Tennant only missed one episode of Dr Who in 10 years. So when David was offered the Dr Who part he was keen not to break it. When he took the part on he did not know how the new Dr Who would fare as he was offered the part before the first episodes of the Ecclestone series was broadcast. Dr Who screenwriter Russell T. Davies requested that Scottish Tennant play Dr Who as an Englishman. At the time this did not seem political but since then some have commented on it. Tennant probably got the part through knowing Russell T. Davies (who was involved with the shooting of the BBC play Casanova in which Tennant starred) at the time Davies was penning the Ecclestone Dr Who scripts. Tennant also revealed that one of his first paying acting jobs was with a politically socialist leaning theatre company called 74% (because 70% of the population has just 4% of the wealth). +++ More Dr Who news later on in our TV subsection.

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 2010

FILM NEWS

Science Fiction leads in the most pirated film chart of 2009… which may or may not say something about SF… The latest Star Trek film lead the pack with an estimated 10 million pirated copies made in 2009. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen came second and Twilight came 5th. District 9, the latest 'Harry Potter' and X-Men Origins: Wolverine came lower down the top ten.

Moon wins 'Best Film' at the British Independent Film Awards so adding to wins at France's Utopiales and Spain's Stiges. The DVD is now out.

Moon director to continue with SF! Duncan Jones' (formerly known as Zowie Bowie, son of David Bowie) next film is also to be SF. Reportedly called Source Code, it is the story of a soldier who finds himself repeatedly placed in the body of another person on a commuter train just prior to the detonation of a bomb.

Hobbit film law suit over. We previously reported the case and now New Line has settled with the Tolkien Trust and HarperCollins. The settlement's terms are confidential. Shooting on the two films, directed by Guillermo (Hellboy) del Toro, is expected to begin next year with releases set for 2011 and 2012. The Tolkien Trust and HarperCollins filed the suit in February 2008, alleging New Line had failed to pay at least £137 million (US$220m). The plaintiffs had asserted that under a 1969 contract, the trust and other plaintiffs were entitled to 7.5% of gross receipts from the three films – that grossed £1.86 billion (US$3 billion) plus a merchandise share. "The trustees regret that legal action was necessary, but are glad that this dispute has been settled on satisfactory terms that will allow the Tolkien Trust properly to pursue its charitable objectives," said Christopher Tolkien, son of the author. The settlement will enhance the Trust's support of over 100 charities. Previously, following the success of the 'Rings' trilogy, director Jackson had to sue New Line over profits from The Lord of the Rings and at first he refused to work on The Hobbit films for New Line.

Global recession good and bad for Hollywood science fiction. Hollywood is cutting its rate of film production by a third from 606 films in 2008 to probably less than 400 in 2010. Funding for Hollywood films is down by 33%, some US$12 bn (£7.4) this despite cinema ticket sales up 2% as other income streams such as DVD sales are dwindling. The good news for SF is that what funding there is will go to promising income sci fi earners of the Harry Potter and Star Wars ilk, so expect more Marvel superhero type films. The bad news for cinematic SF from Hollywood is that more thought-provoking SF offerings are less likely to be green lit.

Warner Brothers create 'DC Entertainment Inc.' division to oversee all DC activity. The new company has been founded to fully realize the power and value of the DC Comics brand and characters across all media and platforms. The DC Comics publishing business will remain the primary focus of DC Entertainment, which releases approximately 90 comic books and 30 graphic novels a month. +++ This compares with the Marvel-owned Marvel Studios that works with Paramount. Marvel Studios' first film was Iron Man that was followed by a raft of others.

Harry Potter Deathly Hallows appearance competition. 1,000 black balloons were released from London's Millennium footbridge over the River Thames. Those finding the balloons can enter a draw, the winner (who must be over 18 years old) of which will appear in the final 'Harry Potter' film as a moving portrait on a wall in Hogwarts School. Meanwhile filming has commenced on the penultimate film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The Millennium Bridge appears in the explosive opening of the Half-Blood Prince.

30 Days of Night sequel filming commences. Dark Days is the sequel to the vampire movie 30 Days of Night (which our Tony recommends). Shooting has started in Vancouver, Canada.

The global apocalyptic film 2012 makes debut box office splash worldwide. The premise is that the Mayan's correctly predicted when the Earth would end in 2012 when the planets line up causing tidal stresses on the Earth. The film's opening weekend saw its global box office take to be US$230.4m (£137.1m), in the US alone it took US$65.2m (£38.8) and in the UK it topped the weekly chart at £6.48 (US$10.5). The film is undeniably spectacular but it is breathless with a bare-boned plot and one-dimensional characters. – We have a link to a clip in our film download clip tip section below.

George Lucas loses court case over rights to Star Wars storm-trooper costume design. You may understandably have forgotten that three years ago George Lucas sued Andrew Ainsworth for selling reproductions of the costumes he originally designed for Lucas' Star Wars. Now, as Ansible reports from The Times, that there has been a ruling that the models are not fine-art sculptures (lifetime plus 70 years copyright) but 'utilitarian' industrial designs which can be protected for only 15 years. Lucas now plans to go to the new UK Supreme Court. And so it goes…

Spiderman 4 villains may be the Black Cat and The Lizard. One more is thought to be added.

The second Twilight film New Moon is out, a third is now being planned. It is to be called Eclipse.

There is to be a sequel to the Death Race 2000 re-make. Actually the word is that Universal are making a prequel.

Asphyx re-make planned. You may recall the 1972 British original concerns a man's fight to cheat death by trapping his own Asphyx – the individual spirit that enters the body before (so enabling) death. Fortunately the re-make will be British too.

Fantastic Voyage remake rumoured. The 1966 film concerned the miniaturisation of a surgical team and Raquel Welch (for whom many have never forgiven what the dinosaurs did to her) who go into a patient to remove a clot. James (Aliens and The Terminator) Cameron is rumoured to be the producer.

New Jurassic Park film rumoured. The word is that Jurassic Park IV will not be set on an island involving a lone party journeying to survival but will be a completely different take on the franchise.

New Ghostbusters film confirmed. Last time when we told you of the rumour we thought it would be about a year before we got confirmation, but now Sigourney Weaver has confirmed she is in it as is Bill Murray. The plot concerns baby Oscar from the first film who has now grown up and become a ghostbuster. Bill Murray's appearance may not be entirely as it was in the first two offerings…

Winnie the Pooh has a new film scheduled for 2011. Five unfilmed A. A. Milne Pooh stories are being knitted together. Disney-Pixar will remain faithful to the existing Pooh cartoon look with watercolour backgrounds and Burney Mattinson (who previously worked on Pooh films) will be the lead story artist.

Stephen Spielberg's Tintin film is in the can, but it will take two years for the computer animation to be completed, producer Peter Jackson has said. The acting filming has finished and now it is the motion-capture animation phase of the production. Dream Works announced it was to make Tintin two years ago.

There is to be a third Transformers film. Summer 2011 is the currently scheduled release date.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!: The way the World ends in 2012. Its debut was box office hit. Strap firmly in then for the ride as the protagonists first try to escape by car and then by plane… (From director Roland Emmerich who also did The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Godzilla (1998), Independence Day (1996) and Stargate (1994).)   See it here.

Film clip download tip!: The trailer for The Crazies (2010) is now out. We have been waiting for this for a while. Of course it is a re-make of the George A. Romero's 1973 film of the same name. We are though still wondering how they will 'update it'? Nonetheless it looks interesting. This time it is not zombies, for which Romero is famous, but a bioweapon that makes the gentle town's folk loopy, the authorities twitchy and the local cop caught in the middle. You can see the trailer here. (The trailer for the 1973 original here.)

Film clip download tip!: See all Twilight Zone episodes in 10 minutes! Yes, the key bit of all 156 episodes in just 10 minutes and in order! You can see the compilation here.

Film clip download tip!: Twilight Zone top 25 episodes! Key bits from the top 25 episodes are here.

Film clip download tip!: Batman Dark Knight spoof alternate ending in which the Joker… You can see the three minute clip here.

Four Dr Who-related short vids…

Film clip download tip!: Dr Who David Tennant and Russell T. Davies exit video The interesting folk at BoingBoing. Have made a 20 minute interview that begins with a Who trailer. The interview took place just after Tennant and Davies had appeared at the 2009 Comicon in the US. You can see the interview here.

Film clip download tip!: Dr Who and 2001: A Space Odyssey are two iconic British SF offerings from the 1960s.   Now things could have been a little different with a less linear, more tangled, space-time line… Enjoy the clip here.

Film clip download tip!: K-9 trailer. This is the new kids TV series spun-off of Dr Who. While you may not want to see any of the shows (our regulars tend to be a little older than the shows target audience) just see what they have done to K-9!   The clip is here.

Film clip download tip!: Dr Who TARDIS and all the Doctors mash tribute.   The clip is here.

Film clip download tip!: Simulated mission to Mars based on the novel Voyage (1996) by Stephen Baxter. The novel concerned an alternate recent history in which after the Apollo Moon missions of the early 1970s NASA went on to Mars in the 1980s. The story (and the video simulation) has the mission leave Earth and then swing-by Venus for a gravity assist that sends the craft out to Mars. You can see the simulation here.

Film clip download tip!: The Apollo 11 mission. Well last summer (2009) was the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing. The film clip is 11 minutes long. You can see it here.

Film clip download tip!: Scott Tracy and Titan interview – Ray Barrett! Actually it is an interview with the recently deceased Ray Barrett who voiced these Gerry Anderson characters.   The interview is here.

Film clip download tip!: Pandorum trailer. Yes the film came out in Europe in October and the DVD is imminent. We alerted you to Pandorum back in Easter: we spoil you rotten.   Now you can see the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Inception film trailer now out. The film is directed by Christopher Nolan whom you may know due to Memento (2000), Insomnia (2002), Batman Begins (2005) and The Prestige (2006). Inception is billed as sort of psychological SF (whatever that means).   You can see the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: The Road film trailer now out. The film is based on the SF novel of the same name about the survivors of a post-Apocalyptic US.   You can see the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Star Trek's William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy at this year's DragonCon. They appeared on a panel before signing autographs for US$75 (£45) each. It would be sad but, fair is fair, the audience do not seem to mind their being a tad behind their sell-by date. Shatner is still good at hamming it up.   You can see the clip here.

Film clip download tip!: DragonCon's fancy dress parade is about the best there is at any SF convention. There is a clip from N. America's 2009 DragonCon here.

For a reminder of the top films in 2009 (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 2010 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 2010

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

With 2010 just started who were the top science fiction / fantasy as well as science writers in the British Isles of the 21st century's first decade? In terms of number of books sold the clear winner was J. K. Rowling who sold the most out of all authors (including non-SF/F). The value of her books sold in the British Isles from 1st January 2000 up to (but not including) December 2009 was £215,876,812:77p. Terry Pratchett came 6th out of all authors in terms of numbers of copies sold and 5th by value (£63,979,648:47p). Science writer Bill Bryson came 18th in terms of copies sold but 7th by their sell value (£50,003,985:47p); Philip Pullman cam 21st in terms of numbers of copies sold, J. R. R. Tolkien 23rd (10th by value £47,169,468), Stephen King 30th by numbers sold and Dean Koontz 66th.   The top 100 authors (of all subjects) in the British Isles sold 400,917 copies between 1st January 2000 up to (but not including) December 2009, with a total sell value of £2,540,165,351:02p (equivalent to a little over US$4 trillion).

Book View Café goes Kindle bypassing publishers. Book View Cafe, the answer is band together and take charge. The Book View Café group of twenty-six SF/fantasy authors have elected to bypass traditional publishing and bring out their latest works directly on Amazon's Kindle and Sony's e-Reader. No outside publishing house is involved and the profits go directly to the authors. +++ See also Kindle news in our Computer Corner below.

Solaris sold!!!!! The British SF and fantasy imprint is leaving Games Workshop. This is a bit of a blow to the SF book scene as Solaris was more than just any publisher of SF and fantasy but, as we reported a year ago, we knew it was to happen. Unlike some of the smaller presses its titles were always at the very least good and sometimes stonkingly brilliant. The imprint was particularly good at short story collections brining together tales from many authors: this is something that some of the major players can get very wrong but Solaris did it right. Anyway, Solaris has been sold, but there is good news!. It now has a new home with Abbadon Books. Abbadon are owned by the computer game firm Rebellion who are noted for also owning the 2000AD comic. None of the Solaris editorial staff are moving but staying with Games Workshop: hence the very real concern as to how Solaris will fare.

Tor (US) splits publishing between the usual Tor imprint and Tor.com.Tor.com are to begin publishing print-on-demand titles and the first one out is The Year's Best Fantasy 9 edited by David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. This marks Tor.com's debut as a publishing entity as distinct from Tor (US) Books, though both come under the publishing house multinational Macmillan's N. American wing. The Year's Best Fantasy 9 is available for US$15.95 (£10) as a trade paperback.

The British Isles wing of the US book chain Borders has closed with an estimated publisher debt of £5m - 7m (US$8m – 11m). The chain accounts for about 4% of the book retail market (as broken down by Nielsen sales data). The US chain business model is not quite the same in the UK with space rents being higher (roughly double in most areas). This means that 45 of UK Borders and Books Etc have closed affecting over 1,100 staff. Publishing group Hachette (understandably) sought to recoup debts and prevented their stock being sold off at discount in the closing down sales.

Canada's McNally Robinson small book chain is to close two of its four shops. It has filed for bankruptcy. The closures will be their Polo Park in Winnipeg and Toronto shops.

Google is to sell books. Google Editions will sell e-books and so compete with Amazon's on-line e-book retail operation. Launched at the Frankfurt Book Fayre, Google Editions will provide books in a variety of formats suitable for a number of e-readers and devices such as internet mobile phones. They also plan to work with websites of major book chains such as Blackwells and newsagents such as W. H. Smiths. Google has confirmed that it plans take 37% of the money made through direct sales on its own website, while if Google Editions is used to power other retailer's online shops then they would split 55% of the price. In both cases, the remainder would go to the book's publishers. Publishers of course will not have the substantial book print (other than editing and layout) and distribution costs but it is unlikely they will up their author's royalty percentage unless agents band together. +++ See also Google Books challenged in China in our Net watch section below.

British authors' advances down 70%! The recession and market restructuring (huge supermarket, book chain and Amazon discounts) have seen publishing houses cut back on the number of new books being taken on. (Though we have yet to see this impact percolate through to the Concatenation forthcoming books listing.) Publishers are also reducing advances to authors other than the affirmed big-sellers. The Society of Authors and also the Association of Authors Agents say that authors' advances have been cut by as much as 70%. It is not known whether this is a blip in the market or a long-term change: publishers may well begin to return to more reasonable levels as they compete to attract quality new blood to their lists, and if they do not then bright folk may decide there are other ways to make a living. Much will depend on publishers' strategic views.

E-book author royalties should be higher. The Society of Authors is campaigning for higher royalties for authors. In some instance after initial production costs have been recouped through sales, subsequent sales might see authors rightly expecting 75% - 85%.

E-books see delay in publication by US leading publishers. Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Harper Collins in the US are delaying the publication of e-books of newly released hardbacks by several months. The idea of having a several month gap between the hardback release and the e-book is so as not to compromise sales due to cheap Amazon kindle versions. There is also talk in trade circles of a combination of poor e-book royalties, non-top list decline and illegal downloading could force publishers and authors to seek alternative (novel) publishing platforms. +++ See also Kindle launch in our computer corner below.

British non-fiction titles under legal pressure. Non-fiction publishers are becoming very wary of taking on non-fiction books that have as their subject living people and active business concerns. The growth of no-win no fee litigation services are said to blame.

English public libraries lack vision says all-party Parliamentary report. It recommends a merging of the Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals with the National Literary Trust to form a library development agency for England to articulate a national vision for English libraries.

HarperCollins' new crossover SF&F imprint, Angry Robot, comes to N. America in May. After its summer ’09 launch in the British Isles and Australia, they are now announcing their 2010 publication schedule for North America. It is 6 books a month through the summer. Included are Andy Remic's 'Clockwork Vampires' vols 1 & 2 -- Kell’s Legend and Soul Stealers that respectively come out in May and June, and Kylie Chan's 'Dark Heavens' vols 1 – 3 come monthly from May with White Tiger, Red Phoenix and Blue Dragon. Also of note in the mix is Ian Whates' City of Dreams and Nightmare, Winter Song by Colin Harvey and Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero by Dan Abnett.

200 WaldenBooks store to close in the US. These are small bookshops compared to the mega-stores the market now seems to favour. 1,500 jobs are going with the closures. WaldenBooks is owned by Border, the US's second largest book chain. About 130 WaldenBooks stores remain open. The latest closures are in addition to the 112 WaldenBooks store closures in 2008. Borders shares rose 9 cents (4.3%) following the closure announcement.

N. American SF gets a puff in Spain. Pocket/Nova Zeta has just published a handful of SF translations of:-
          Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold
          Hyperion by Dan Simmons
          The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
          Portico I (we assume this is Gateway) by Frederik Pohl
          Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

British Book Industry Awards to merge with Bookseller Retail Awards. The Bookseller's Association has signed an agreement to merge the British Book Industry Awards with its own Retail Awards. This brings together the two major books award groupings – the publishers and the retailers. The new awards will now be run on the middle evening of the Book Industry Conference; the next one being on 17th May 2010. It means an end to the rather decent Bookseller Awards dinners held in the splendid main hall of Kensington's Natural History Museum.

W. H. Smiths, the British newsagent chain, wins the Booksellers Retail Award for Company of the Year. The award was presented as part of this year's black tie dinner bash at the Natural History Museum. Jezza Vine was reported as saying that from the state of the W. H. Smiths branch in his home-town of Cheam, that he would never have believed that Smiths would go on to such acclaim.

More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in April 2010. 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 2010

TV NEWS

Lost colour Dr Who adventure recovered. Ages ago the Beeb Beeb Ceeb brilliantly junked a number of the Jon Pertwee adventures' colour masters. Some though still existed in black and white as the BBC sold the series in monochrome to a few countries. Now, using colour from video recordings, it has been possible to electronically re-colour the monochrome masters of the adventure 'The Mind of Evil': an adventure featuring the Master. The work is expected to be complete this year with the DVD out either at the year's end or in 2011. +++ An episode in the recently released Dalek War (see below DVD section) set has also been re-coloured in this way.

Dr Who to meet Black Adder wild rumour. Yes, Blackadder scriptwriter Richard Curtis is to script a Dr Who episode. But this has sparked a rumour that Blackadder himself might make a brief appearance…

The SF/fantasy master Michael Moorcock is to write a Dr Who novel. He has long been a fan of the time traveller. He revealed in The Guardian newspaper that he disliked William Hartnell, the first Doctor, who barked with the authority of his sergeant from The Army Game. Patrick Troughton, the second incarnation, Moorcock considered brought an absent-minded quirkiness to the character, which stayed with him at his best. Jon Pertwee took him back to his more authoritarian mode and then came the glory years of Tom Baker – reasonable complexity, wit and an aptitude for ad libbing which was wonderful to watch but, Moorcock says, must have been murder for the other actors.

Dr Who was the most watched SF/F programme in Britain over Christmas (2009). The BBC took nine of the top ten most-watched programme and of all programmes (not just SF & fantasy) Dr Who was third most watched. However Dr Who was the most-watch programme in the new high definition format. +++ Over Christmas – New Year holiday there was also a Radio 4 programme Archive Hour on 4 on the Dr Who lost episodes as to how the BBC have been trying to find episodes missing from their archives. Currently 108 episodes are still missing including most of the Hartnell ones and some of the Troughton adventures. However there was a big hint that news of one adventure (a few episodes) may be forthcoming. (See also Lost colour Dr Who adventure recovered above.   Radio 4 also had a half hour programme on Dr Who books: 'On the Outside it Looked Like an Old-Fashioned Police Box'.

News of Dr Who star David Tennant is covered in our scientist, SF writer and artist subsection earlier.

Primeval saved! The time-holed series, in which creatures from the past and future drop in on our present, was surprisingly axed in the summer by ITV. Now BBC Worldwide takes the lead in supporting the show's continuation along with the cable channel UKTV, the German network Pro7 channel and ITV to produce two more short seasons of the show. There will now be a seven-episode fourth season, and six-episode fifth. Hopefully this will be enough to reconcile the various plot threads including how the original scientist's wife got to know of the holes in time and use them so easily, the parallel dimensions and their alternate line characters, as well as what started this all of in the first place. If they are to round things off properly then there is a lot to pack in. Let us hope that Tim Haines, creative director of Primeval's studio Impossible Pictures, does not duck the story arc with more of the padded episodes (monster comes to present, causes havoc with ill-equipped team, monster returns to own time) that caused the series to lose its ratings. We will find out in 2011 when ITV will premiere the show in the British Isles and Beeb Beeb Ceeb Worldwide in Canada and the American rebel colonies.

BBC science fiction this spring (2010) in brief. Ashes to Ashes, the police detective time warp series returns for a third outing. This one will (apparently) conclude Alex Drake's trip.   Dr Who has a new Doctor of course.   Re-make Survivors returns for a second series picking up where season one left off. With Greg wounded after being shot and Abby kidnapped by the politicians in the bunker for serum, it is down to Tom to save the day.   Then there is the 4th series of Heroes due from the US.

Lost final series to air in N. America in February. This will, or will not be news depending on when you access this Spring newscast which we posted in January. The final season will (or 'has' depending on when you read this) kick(ed) off with a 45 minute re-cap special on 2nd Feb as well as a double bill.

Phantom mini-series shooting begins. The short 4 hour series of 'the ghost who walks' is due to be aired on SyFy TV (Sci-Fi Channel) this year. This mundane fantasy is based on the classic newspaper comic strip created in 1939 about a costumed jungle-based crime-fighter who is part of a line of descendents righting wrongs. ('Mundane fantasy', in case you wondered, being fantasy that could actually happen and has no magical or supernatural elements.)

Flashforward is to be three seasons long minimum – but could last as long as seven! With season one aired where to now? Well the first thing to say is that with the change of protagonists and suspect zero, this is not faithful to the Robert Sawyer novel on which it is loosely based. A shame as while Sawyer's prose does clunk more than a little, he does invariably turn out an entertaining, fast-paced read (he is very commercial), and his novels might well more faithfully transfer to a visual medium. However what should be of great concern to Flashforward fans is the cynical, 'Catch-22' way the producers and channel (ABC) are determining the number of seasons the story arc is to be run. The co-creator and producers have made it clear in an interview in SFX magazine that three seasons are needed for the story arc. All well and good. Then we were told that they were treating the series' length like an accordion: if the series is not that successful then we will get the story arc in just three seasons but if it is successful we will see it spread over seven. In essence this means that if we like it (and the viewing figures are high) then we will simply get extra padding and not a new story arc… With the first series over and ratings out, the decisions will be being taken around now.

George R. R. Martin's fantasy Game of Thrones pilot episode filming is complete. HBO is expected to decide whether or not to go with the series later this spring. The principal cast is: Lena Headey (as Cersei Lannister), Peter Dinklage (Cersei's brother Tyrion), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Cersei's twin Jaime), Sean Bean (Ned Stark), Jennifer Ehle (as Ned's wife), Catelyn Stark, and Mark Addy (King Robert).

A TV mini-series honouring Ray Bradbury is being devised. Ray has signed on with White Oak Films to develop a mini-series based on six of his short stories. Ray will be involved in the story choice. Called The Bradbury Chronicles (presumably as reference to his The Martian Chronicles (1950) it will consist of six one-hour episodes.

Defying Gravity season one has ended. Hooray!!! Let's hope that this over-long, dull, poorly scripted, unconvincing series with unrealistic, one-dimensional characters, a complete waste of BBC TV licence-payers money, never, ever graces our screens again. (No, none of us liked it.)

 

[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 2010

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

DON'T FORGET! IF YOU went to the Canadian Worldcon Anticipation then your views on the con are being sought for some bona fide research. It takes 5 minutes – http://tinyurl.com/sf-fans.

 

Canadian Worldcon 2009 has banking problem for cheques to artists on sales. US artists expecting a cheque from Anticipation (last year's Worldcon) from auction sales have found that there are banking problems when cashing them in. The Worldcon has opened a temporary bank account in the US to work around the problems and keep artists from incurring these fees for handling Canadian cheques.

Aussiecon 4, the 2010 Worldcon in Melbourne Australia is now inviting art show and dealers room bookings. It is all standard stuff apart from there being no art auction due to Australian tax laws. However we understand that alternative arrangements are being made whereby potential buyers can be matched to artists' works enabling the buyer and artist to come to some arrangement on their own. Also out from Aussiecon there is now information on disabled access and facilities. If you are reading this in 2010 you can find the link to the Aussicon site on our convention diary page. This information is further to last season's news. The convention's Progress Report 2 is due to come out shortly (end of January) after we post this newscast and will come with the Hugo nomination ballot.   PR3 is due out at the end of April. +++ The weekend before the Worldcon there is the New Zealand national convention in Wellington -- news is below. +++ If you want to start familiarising yourself with Australian fandom (obviously only if you are not Australian) then a good place to begin would be to check out the Australian SF Bullsheet. It is edited by Edwina Harvey with tech support from Ted Scribner. Separately Edwina has a young adult SF novel just out called The Whale's Tale from Peggy Bright Books. It concerns future sentient and communicative, not to mention space-faring, dolphins and whales.

World Horror Convention 2010 has warned that there will be no registrations on the door. The registration rates have gone up considerably as we approach the convention (western Europe's Easter weekend) and may rise further still. It is also likely that the convention will cease to take advance registrations a couple of weeks before the convention. The advice therefore is that if you wish to attend to register now. This year's World Horror Convention is the first time it has been held outside of the UK. (The link to the World Horror Con 2010 is on our convention listing assuming that you are looking at this page in 2010.)

World Horror Convention 2010 London tourist deal! If you are not aware of it the 2010 World Horror Con is taking place the weekend before the 4-day UK national SF convention and Euroconference Odyssey 2010. There will be a special fan-organised tourist day of Central London for visitors to the UK the Wednesday between the conventions. (See the Odyssey 2010 website – the link to which is on our convention listing assuming that you are looking at this page in 2010.) That is to say the Wednesday after the World Horror Convention.

More World Horror Convention 2010 and Odyssey 2010 tourism. If you are going to go to either (or both) convention(s) then you might want to see our tourist article on sights to see in London and Brighton. Travel tips for getting between both the conventions are included.

2011 SF Worldcon begins on-line registration. Renovation, the 2011 Worldcon, now has on-line registration up and running. Renovation has instalment plans and family plans, as well as special rates for children. Its Guests of Honour are to be Tim Powers, Ellen Asher and Boris Vallejo. The late Charles N. Brown is the Ghost of Honour. The link (if you are reading this in or before 2011) for Reno is on our convention diary page.

Europe for SF Worldcon 2014… Now this is very early days and is only just a little more than talk… well some work by a preparatory team has been done. Venues have been looked at (including on mainland Europe in the Netherlands) and, apparently, the hot contenders are either Glasgow or London: Glasgow having been the venue twice before is reportedly taking for granted that it will get chosen and is not giving good deals, whereas London is a new, untried venue. (We understand that the Netherlands conference facilities are thought not to be able to cope with an event as big as the Worldcon and so is no longer being considered.) The official bid launch will take place this Easter weekend (2010) at the Odyssey2010 Euroconference at which the venue will be announced.

New York for SF Worldcon 2017… We understand that at this moment this is a tentative bid. We will no doubt learn more later this year at Worldcon (Aussiecon) in Melbourne, Australia.

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

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

 

Meanwhile over in Europe…

Odyssey2010 has Progress Report 2 out. Odyssey2010 will be both a Euroconference (as denoted by the European SF Society) and UK national convention. Memberships are now (New Year) racking up to the thousand mark and are expected to top 1,500. In case you have missed out on the earlier news, it is taking place next to London Heathrow airport (free connecting bus service) over four days. The airport proximity makes it very easy for overseas pros and fans to attend. Fans will begin arriving for the convention itself Thursday night 1st April with programming starting the next day (so far over 200 have registered for the Thursday evening get-together). However as the convention will be the weekend following the World Horror Convention the other side of London there will be a tourist day for visiting fans on the Wednesday between the two conventions (see below). The convention itself will see five parallel programme streams, art exhibition, book dealers hall plus fan lounge areas, four bars as well as a fancy dress parade, evening disco for energetic young 'uns and much more. The main hotel is now full but the overflow hotel is just next door. A quick whiz through the registration list to date reveals a few dozen authors, representatives from all the major British Isles SF publishing houses as well as small presses, a few scientists, and a couple of media personalities. The link (if you are reading this in 2010) for Odyssey's website is on our convention diary page. There should be another Progress Report due out before the convention. +++ Anne K.G. Murphy and Brian Gray have won this year’s Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund (TAFF) race to represent N. American fandom at Odyssey 2010, this year's ESFS Euroconference and UK Eastercon.

(To repeat the World Horror news above in case your link-jumping missed it…) Odyssey2010 Convention London tourist deal! If you are not aware of it the is taking place the weekend after the 2010 World Horror Con. There will be a special fan-organised tourist day of Central London for visitors to the UK the Wednesday between the conventions. (See the Odyssey 2010 website – the link to which is on our convention listing assuming that you are looking at this page in 2009/10.) The tourist day is the Wednesday before the Odyssey Euroconference.

More Odyssey2010 tourism. If you are going to go to either (or both) convention(s) (the World Horror Con is the previous weekend) then you might want to see our tourist article on sights to see in London and Brighton. Travel tips for getting between both Odyssey and the World Horror convention are included.

The European Science Fiction Convention (Eurocon) in 2011 will be held in Stockholm, Sweden's capital, 17th – 19th June.. The venue is the Royal Institute of Technology students union, a building that has housed several Swedish SF conventions, in central Stockholm only five minutes with the underground from the central station and 30 minutes from the airport. Unlike Denmark's 2007 Eurocon's successful programme of literary, science, films and fan items, and unlike Italy's 2009 media (TV sci fi) heavy Eurocon, Sweden is going for a more focussed literary convention, with three parallel programme streams and a fourth for films. English will be the principal language. It will be a three-day event but importantly there will be an opportunity to gather for an informal warm-up the evening before. It is too early to learn of dead dog, after the convention ends plans but these will no doubt become apparent before folk have to book accommodation and travel. You can register for the con on its website (and if you are reading this before the end of 2011 you can find the link on our con diary page), but it will also be possible to become a member at many Scandinavian conventions, UK Eastercons, Eurocon 2010 and Worldcon next year.

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

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 2010

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

The Ukraine's 11th Starbridge convention was held at the end of September in Kharkiv at the university. Starbridge is one of the Ukraine's top two conventions and is held in the south of the country. This year some 200 attended including a good number of leading Russian and Ukraine authors. In the mix were S. Lukyanenko, V. Golovatchev, M. & S. Dyachenko, S. Loginov, A. Gromov, EV Lukin, M. Uspensky, A. Orlov, O. Gromyko, A. Valentine, V. Vasilyev, V. Sverzhin, A. Dashkov, Shalygin, R. Glushkov, E. Dvoretskaya, D. Kazakov, E. Proshkin, M. Galin, F. Cheshko, A. Chernetsov, V. Rusanov, O. Pankeeva, A. Korepanov, O. Chigirinsky, S. Vilar, N. Stepanov, Leshchenko, L. Astakhov, Y. Gorshkov, S. Kolodan, S. Vrochek, S. Slusarenko, A. Bondarev, K. Shainyan, N. Shcherba, and V. Obedina. The con also had a film premiere of Prohibited Reality and there was the launch of the new book of SF short stories that is associated with the convention. During the convention the Starbridge Awards were presented.

Dragoncon 2009 was held in September in N. America. N. America's largest SF convention reportedly attracted some 30,000 (and so is not quite as big as Europe's SF Utopiales in France – see below). Highlights were many but causing a bit of a stir was the William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy double act in conversation session. Of note, the con's blood drive was a great success With 2,012 donors the drive resulted in 2,623 units (140 platelets, 1,843 red cells, and 640 plasmas). According to Life South this was the largest blood drive ever conducted at a convention! Also the preliminary 2009 charity auction proceeds (including the Stargate auction) totalled US$25,000 (some £15,500).

France's SF Utopiales held its 10th convention and once more in Nantes Again it has had a decidedly international flavour. Reportedly some 40,000 attended the four-day event. Loads of the usual prizes were given out (see earlier in our awards items). There were 6 parallel programme streams in large halls that covered SF books and film with some science thrown in. As such outside of some Scandinavian conventions, Utopiales is one of the handful of large SF cons that has a programme that really does true justice to both genre books and film. Attending Utopiales should be compulsory for all Worldcon and Eurocon programme team leaders!   Among the, too-many-to-fully-list, authors in the mix this year were: Jean-Pierre Andrevon, Sarah Ash, Ayerdhal, Stephen Baxter, Stéphane Beauverger, Ugo Bellagamba, Francis Berthelot, Bessiere Richard, Igor Bogdanov, Hal Duncan, David Klass, Gerard Klein, Ian Mc Donald, Gilles Ménégaldo, Denis Mellier, Sylvie Miller, Robert Redick, Norman Spinrad, Robert Charles Wilson, and David Wingrove. Of note there was a tribute item of sorts, a pop concert, in the name of J. G. Ballard.   Science and SF got a good airing. There were 10 science items covering key areas from biomedicine and immortality through to returning to the Moon. Stephen Baxter's interview also had much reference to science with his recounting how SF had originally turned him on to science; his unfulfilled ambitions to be either an astronaut or a rocket scientist.   The film programme was a healthy mix of old and new with the new including rarely-seen offerings many of which have not had a cinema release or much profile (yet). And, of course, there were many shorts shown. Added into this there were a few musical items including a small orchestra conducted by a robot (and again this year there were a few of those about).   The dealers hall and art exhibition neatly topped everything off. +++ Meanwhile, here is a video distillation of the previous year's (2008) Utopiales.

New Zealand's 2010 National Convention progress report 2 is out. (Remember this convention is being held the weekend before the Australian Worldcon.) The Guests are announced as: Sean Williams the Australian SF and fantasy author of Books of the Change and the Astropolis SF series; and Paul Mannering the NZ fan and producer of many fan audio adventures BrokenSea Audio Productions who have released over 500 episodes of fan audio dramas based on shows such as Doctor Who, Logan's Run, Planet of The Apes, and the original Battlestar Galactica; plus all those attending are considered GoHs. Programme participants so far announced are: Jonathan Cowie (UK scientist and part time Concatenation team member), Jennifer Fallon (author of The Tide Lords), Tim Jones (NZ writer), Russell Kirkpatrick (author of the Fire of Heaven and Husk trilogies), Kathryn Sullivan (EPPIE Award winner), and Sonny Whitelaw (author of The Rhesus Factor a Stargate novel).   More news to follow soon… +++ See our article for information on what to do and see in Wellington. +++ Meanwhile we have received this tip (CL) Visit the Maori Museum in Wellington or just don't bother going to NZ at all. Take the Venicular (sic) up to the gardens overlooking the bay for great views and a peaceful stroll.

20 years of the Festival of Fantastic Films! The late Harry Nadler would undoubtedly be delighted that the Manchester Fest has completed two decades and is now set to embark upon its third. Though small – this year saw about 215 attend – the festival attracts a hard core of regulars that include a sprinkling of professionals and many films (far to many to be screened) entered in its two competitions (independent and amateur) from all over the World. This year's guests were the: actress Emily (Perverella, Evil Aliens) Booth; actor John (The Blood of Dracula, Plague of Zombies) Carson; actress Jenny (Lost Continent, On her Majesty's Secret Service) Hanley; director John (The Legend of Hell House and TV Avengers) Hough; actor Ian (I Monster and TV's Survivors) MucCulloch; actor Derren (Behemoth the Sea Monster, Where Eagles Dare) Nesbitt; and director Peter (Taste the Blood of Dracula and TV's Ghost Squad and Journey into the Unknown) Sasdy. The fest followed its usual format of three parallel streams mainly screening 1950s and 1960s horror, fantasy and SF as well as recent independents and the short-listed films for the two competitions. Apparently – so we heard from the main stage -- somewhere in the mix was Sir Ian McKellen, but this transpired to be an interviewers' over-optimism rather than actuctality.   This year's Independent Competition feature film winner was Kirk (directed by Michael Ferns) with Spain's Lodo (directed by (physicist) Karlos Alastruey) being runner-up. 'Highly Commended' were Evil Angel directed by Richard Dutcher (USA) and Dreamscape directed by Daniel J Fox (UK).   The independent short film winners were a tie: Ireland's Enchanted Island (directed by Noel Kearns) and Italy's Under the Garden (directed by Andrea Lodovechetti); and there was a commendation with Britain's Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders (directed by Sean Candon).   The amateur short went to a very funny couple of minutes worth of animation from America, McDonough (directed by Kyle Stephens (US)) brilliant with the runner-up Home (Francesco Filippi, Italy). +++ This year saw a little more expensive hotel but far, far better staff service and properly manned bar (which in the past was blighted by being chronically understaffed in the evenings) so well worth the extra few quid.   There was also much discussion over the Festival's future organisation. There is now a new team taking over the large part of the Fest's organization with the active, light-touch support of the old stalwarts.   Harry would be pleased that the torch is being thoughtfully passed on with such good grace and consideration with perhaps just the very occasional, informal, gentle word of advice.   Here's to the next couple of decades!
          A full stand-alone review of the festival is here.

Glasgow's SF group -- Friends of Kilgore Trout – has moved. It is a longstanding group and a sort of equivalent to the London SF Circle. As their usual pub has closed, it is now meeting at the Edward Wyllie in Bothwell St in evenings on the 2nd Thursday of the month.

PSIFA is to hold another party Saturday 27th March 2010. Last summer Hatfield PSIFA (Hertfordshire University) held two gatherings to mark the student SF society's 30th anniversary. Buoyed by these PSIFA have decided to hold another Saturday 27th March 2010 starting around midday until around midnight in the student part of the Elephant House. By now some of you will have realised that this is the weekend of the World Horror Convention in Brighton and the weekend before the UK national SF convention and Euroconference Odyssey 2010. It may be accident that they chose this date but some Old Age PSIFAns (OAPs) will be coming to the London area for Odyssey2010, or it could be just that this is the Saturday that is the first day after semester ends on the Friday. Either way, if you are interested in going then check out http://sites.google.com/site/expsifans/, http://tinyurl.com/temp-psifa or http://twitter.com/PSiFA. Alternatively you can contact them at psifa[-DOT-]uh[-AT-]googlemail[-DOT-]com. (You will need to cut-and-paste the afore links as they are temporary.)

New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (SFFANZ) board change. June Young and James Dignan, have stepped down for personal reasons. However, June has agreed to stay on as Press officer. The Board have appointed Alan Robson as the Association's new president.

Fortnightly Brit SF fan fix. Steve Green (key member of the Birmingham SF Group and Festival of Fantastic Films amateur awards judge) has a new, short but fortnightly fanzine available for free download from e-fanzines. Appropriately it is called The Fortnightly Fix.

And finally… Irish fandom had a bit of a storm in a teacup. A locally active fan personality was banned from the Irish national convention and this (understandably) caused a bit of a stir. Fortunately after brief heat it all ended well with the ban lifted… Now Ireland could learn from European organising: lacking on the competency front maybe, but as no one else wants to do the job let them get on with it. And as for critical heat, who cares? The lesson of the day – like nuclear war, such spats are best avoided. The only person to come out of this well was one James Bacon who (as you can see from the last link) helped mediate matters.

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 2010

NET WATCH

The Internet Review of Science Fiction is to close. After six years of publication the Internet Review of Science Fiction will cease to be with the February (2010) issue. Blunt 'Bluejack' Jackson and Editor Stacey Janssen said that it was not just the economics of the site but the problems of managing a disparate group of volunteers were just too much… Something with which we at Concatenation can fully sympathise.

A new flash fiction site has just started called WeirdYear.com. Contributors and readers sought and the aim is to provide flash fiction daily.

New on-line SF magazine Lightspeed is being launched this summer. The new on-line magazine will come from Prime Books in the US and be the SF counterpart to their Fantasy Magazine. John Joseph Adams (formerly assistant editor for the magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction) will edit fiction and Andrea Kail will edit non-fiction. They hope to have new content at least weekly. The URL will be www.lightspeedmagazine.com.

Sci-Fi Wire has cancelled all its columns. This includes those series from John Clute, Wil McCarthy, and Michael Cassutt. Sci-Fi Wire consider the column format now outmoded – a hang-over from print formats – for the internet but hope to use its column writers in other ways. +++ Ansible reports John Clute's response that Sci-Fi Wire's previous changes made columns difficult to find and, if found, not clearly part of a regular series, so that after time site traffic to its columns dropped, hence the conclusion that the column format was outmoded. The column is to re-launch shortly as 'Scores' on Strange Horizons.

A French court ordered to stop digitizing books and pay €300,000 (£266,000) in costs to a group of French publishers. Google was ruled to have violated copyright law by digitizing books and putting extracts online, following a legal challenge by major French publishers. Google has so far scanned some 10m books with the help of some leading US and British universities, in an attempt to put the world's literature on the net. Google displays snippets of books in copyright and all the texts of out-of-copyright works. Recently Google came to a settlement (yet to be approved) in the US with authors and publishers led by the US Authors Guild, which had sued Google for copyright infringement. Some authors, such as Ursula K. Le Guin (see earlier) do not approve of the settlement.

Google Books challenged in China. The China Writers’ Association and China Written Works Copyright Society, claim that Google has scanned Chinese works into an electronic database in violation of international copyright standards. The organizations are urging China’s authors to step forward and defend their rights. Some Chinese authors have only recently discovered that Google has obtained their works from libraries in the United States and scanned them into its database. However at the moment, the books appear only in the company’s Book Search service, which allows people to only access short snippets of copyrighted texts or, if the company has obtained permission, longer excerpts. It is comparable to a quotation from a book in a review, which is perfectly legal. Matters may well heat up when Google scans more of the books' contents.

Swiss Google Street View court case. Google faces a court case in Switzerland because of privacy concerns over its Street View service. Further info from BBC.

Science Fiction books are not literature! This is something we have all had drummed into us ad nausium by the arts community. Following the latest kafuffle with the Booker Prize, John Howell speaks for many of us with this article on SFF Media.

Science Fiction money. SF books, films and TV have used various financial currencies. This article cites a good few: www.onlineforextrading.com/articles/scifi-top-currency.

Facebook stripped down site launched. The problems with many sites is that, with all the pictures, graphic animations, sounds, cookies etc., etc.,, they can take a while to load. This can be frustrating if you are in a rush and even more of a pain if you are in an area with low bandwidth, or are part of a heavily-used network and so forth. Indeed Concatenation has long known this and we strictly adhere to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) with a largely text-only, no sounds or animations or frames website. (We have had comments from those who appreciate this so we know some value the approach.)   Now at last the big boys are beginning to wise up! Facebook has launched Facebook Lite. This stripped-down version has no apps or special boxes but still allows you to post comments and pictures on your wall. At the moment the lite site is for users outside of N. America and Europe but no doubt we will get included in due course. http://lite.facebook.com.

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

New '6th-Sense' computer technology demonstration of portable graphic and keyboard presentation. Our mainland European colleague, Roberto Quaglia, thought you might like to see this short video demonstration of technology which, in just a little refined form, many of us might be wearing before the end of the decade.

Halo 3: ODST game launched. The Halo series, from Microsoft Games Studios, is one of the most popular video games of all time, selling millions of units worldwide and some claim it to be the most commercial SF brand: commercially bigger even than Star Wars! Set prior to events in the last game, Halo 3: ODST allows gamers to take control of an elite human soldier fighting hordes of alien invaders of different species that form a coalition called The Covenant. The 'ODST' stands for 'Orbital Drop Shock Troopers'. The big difference from previous Halo titles is that there is no Master Chief (the main character in previous Halo games), instead players are more ordinary (more vulnerable) regular troopers, rather than the turbo-charged super-soldier Master Chief.

Amazon's Kindle e-book reader has been launched in more than 100 countries around the world, including the British Isles. The Kindle offers over 200,000 Anglophone titles electronically you can purchase direct, downloading from the internet. Up to the autumn since its launch in November 2007, the reader was only in N. America. Being electronic, the device allows you to annotate books. However Amazon in the US has already had to pay out a large sum following legal action when it withdrew the SF classic 1984 (it found out it did not have electronic rights for the book) and also deleted a schoolboy's personal notes on the book. This is highlights a personal data control issue. With Kindle not only can you buy/download books from Amazon but Amazon can (when you are connected to the internet) delete content on your Kindle e-book. The cost of a Kindle is £175 (US$279). +++ Problems with Kindle include the dark grey text on light grey background presentation that does not favour illustrated books, and that Kindle books cannot be read on your computer. Nor can you borrow or swap or lend Kindle books, and – of course – a Kindle is not a real book. However if you really are wedded to electronic books then you might consider buying an i-Pod Touch (it costs a lot less than the Kindle 2 and has a more reader-friendly coloured screen that allows night reading), or get an i-Phone, and load the free 'Kindle for i-Pod' application. +++ See also Book View Café goes Kindle above.

Microsoft has launched Windows 7. If you have not yet investigated it then this is the situation in a nutshell. The Windows Vista operating system had bad sales largely due to two reasons. First, it took a heavy processing and memory use to run and so (depending what you were running) could be slow. Second (a little unrelated but the association is valid), for average users it was often sold with the then latest MS software packages, of Word and Excel with their totally new crap layouts that were so unpopular shops were loading the traditional-look previous versions instead. Vista was also not so hot with add-ons such as some printer drivers. We are still stuck with Microsoft's new versions of Word and Excel but this new operating system seems a lot better with some nifty screen touch and drag features, and MS have worked hard to reduce the add-on compatibility problems. There are some advantages if your PC is part of a network with regards to which of your files and programs can be seen by others on the network. One thing of debate is Windows 7's Mac look. Early indications have shown Windows 7 has healthy sales but businesses may wait to see how Windows 7 fares. According to a 2009 Forrester survey of more than 600 companies in the US and Europe, 79% use XP, 9% Vista and 6% still use Windows 2000. The down side largely seems to be summed up in that Windows continues to make things more and more complex rather than keeping it simple: not everyone wants or needs so many bells and whistles. However, whatever your view, you are probably best waiting a year while MS sort out all the inevitable teething bugs.

 

[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 2010

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

Gordon Brown has said he is sorry for the 'appalling' way World War II code-breaker Alan Turing was treated for being homosexual. A petition had called for a posthumous governmental apology to the mathematician and proto-computer scientist. In 1952 Turing was prosecuted for gross indecency after admitting a sexual relationship with a man. Two years later he killed himself. Computer scientist John Graham-Cumming initiated the campaign. He wanted an apology for the way Turing was treated following his conviction. He also sought for Turing to be awarded a posthumous knighthood. The campaign was backed by author Ian McEwan, bioscientist Richard Dawkins and homosexual-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. The petition on the Downing Street website saw thousands sign up.

Greenland is melting faster. A report in a November issue of the journal Science says that the total 2000–2008 Greenland mass loss is about ~1500 gigatons (equivalent to 0.46 millimetres per year of global sea level rise), but that since 2006 high summer melt rates have increased Greenland ice sheet mass loss to 273 gigatons per year (0.75 millimetres per year of equivalent sea level rise). The Greenland ice mass budget calculations were validated with satellite gravity observations (from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites).

Miniature nuclear batteries developed. Penny-sized nuclear batteries have been developed by researchers at Missouri University (US). Holding a million times more charge than standard batteries the same size their potential is considerable. Electrical power is generated by the radioactive decay particles being captured by a liquid semiconductor. Further miniaturization is envisioned.

Fund the scientist, not the science. The Wellcome Trust (which annually spends more supporting research than the British Government's Medical Research Council) is to shift part of its financial support from funding research projects to the scientists themselves who will then get on with whatever it is they do for three or four years with no strings attached. Welcome will be spending about £110 million (US$180 million) this way. +++ This research funding model is not new. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the US supports scientists this way to the tune of US$60 million every three years.

Europe's Large Hadron Collider at CERN powers up The Collider had its first power up over a year ago before crashing due to a fault. It has now had a successful low-power run. When they can conduct a high energy run they hope to find the Higgs boson.

 

[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 2010

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

Japan has launched its new space freighter from Tanegashima. The 16.5-tonne unmanned H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) is to re-supply the space station. It is carrying about 4.5 tonnes of cargo but has the capacity to carry six tonnes. The freighter incorporates additional solid-fuel boosters and a second main engine.

Dark matter close to visible matter. A European astronomer survey of galaxies of various sizes and shapes suggests a close correlation between the enclosed surface densities of luminous galaxies and their associated dark matter. The observation was reported in Nature (vol 461, pp627-8).

The planet Corot-7b is now thought to be a rocky world (as is Earth). Observations now reveal it to be about five times the mass of the Earth. However as the planet is only 2.5 million km away from its host star – or 23 times closer than Mercury is to the Sun – there will be no water, lead will be molten etc. The planet orbiting a star some 500 light years away was discovered in February 2009 by the French Corot space observatory phases of the planet were detected last summer (2009). The latest discovery was made by the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (Harps) spectrograph attached to the European Southern Observatory's 3.6m telescope at La Silla in Chile. It investigates planets by recording the 'wobble' induced in the parent star it orbits.

The World is less likely to end in 2036. New measurements of the Earth-orbit crossing asteroid Apohis suggest that instead on a one in 45,000 chance of it hitting the Earth in 2036 now put the chance at just 250,000 to one. After that the next time it comes vaguely close to the Earth is in 2068 but that approach will be further away than 2036. The asteroid is roughly 300m in diameter and has a mass of about 27 million tonnes.

Copious water found at the Lunar S. Pole. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission involved driving a 2,200kg Centaur rocket stage into the 100km-wide Cabeus Crater, a permanently shadowed depression at the Moon's far south. At the time, the expected plume was disappointing. However near-infrared spectrographic results subsequently indicated that over 20 gallons of water ice was vaporised. The presence of water was confirmed by the ultra violet spectrometry that identifies hydroxyl (O-H) ions.

 

[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 2010

NATURAL SCIENCE

Koalas could be wiped out within 30 years. The Australian iconic fauna has declined to possibly as few as 43,000. Koalas could be wiped out within 30 years unless urgent action is taken to halt their population decline. Removal of eucalyptus trees, climate change (altering the quality of leaves) and climate change caused bush fires are among the factors thought to blame. Also some have been killed by the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia. Pressure is on to persuade the Australian government's Threatened Species Steering Committee (TSSC) to list the koala as threatened.

Biodiversity catastrophe – International action on the level of climate change needed says to biodiversity scientist. Edward O. Wilson – the ecologist some describe as Darwin's living heir – says that we need an international agency to combat biodiversity loss much like the UN's IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The IPCC is credited with convincing world leaders that the threat from climate change is real. Since the beginning of the last century, 183 species are known to have become extinct, including the Tasmanian tiger, the Caribbean monk seal and the toolache wallaby. But this number is a gross underestimate of the true number of extinctions. Wilson spoke at the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species on Tuesday. The 80-year-old biologist delivered a lecture via video link to London's Royal Institution on Darwin's legacy and 'the future of biology'.

Early Earth oceans only 40°C. It had been thought that the oceans some 3.5 billion years ago were 80°C (and some say that life formed in an environment similar to hydrothermal vents – believe this if you must). However this high temperature has always been controversial because it assumes that the 18-Oxygen isotope fractionation is the same back then as in more recent ice-free world times (Paleogene). Now research reported in Nature (vol 462, p205-208) pairs 18-Oxygen data from 3.5 billion year old S. African Buck Reef Chert to deuterium (hydrogen) isotope fractionation. (Chert quartz contains minority of hydroxyl ions that came from the sea water.) The results suggest a cooler ocean of 40°C. (This also better fits in with the faint Sun paradox (of the early Sun being cooler) though the atmosphere was anaerobic with high CO2 and methane so matters are still far from clear.)

25th anniversary of genetic fingerprinting. The anniversary was marked in the autumn and the discoverer, Sir Alec Jeffreys (Leicester University), has called for the British government not to keep the DNA records of those who are neither been charged or convicted. "Innocent people do not belong on that database - branding them as future criminals is not proportionate response in the fight against crime," he said. +++ See also I was the first person freed from death row by DNA fingerprinting. +++ It is now expected that British Ministers may decide DNA of innocent people arrested in England and Wales should be held for no longer than six years.

Natural History Museum's Darwin Centre now open. The £78 million (US$130m) is a research wing attached (almost literally) to the museum. The public will have access and some of its walls are of glass so that the public (tax payers) can see the scientists at work (being funded by taxes).

 

[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 2010

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, pbk, £7.99. ISNB 978-0-330-47877-9.
This is an agent Cormac adventure and takes place after the events of Prador Moon. It should be noted that a number of our reviewers have read different Asher novels and they have had a mixed reception (which does not often happen). However, some do rate him highly so do give him a go and see for yourself. Meanwhile here are the links to these reviews: Cowl , The Gabble, Hilldiggers, Line of Polity, Line War and Orbus .

Blood and Iron by Tony Ballantyne, Tor (UK), hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-73861-4.
This is the 2nd in the hard SF trilogy that began with Twisted Metal (see next book below) concerning a world of robots (Penrose) fighting over dwindling resources. (First book spoiler) At the end of the first book humans show up on the planet. They now ally themselves to one of the robot factions. It eventually transpires that the humans are more powerful than the robots had thought… Now our Tony raved over Ballantyne's first trilogy that began with Recursion. That trilogy was a very rich Eganesque, hard SF. This is very much a much more straightforward tale and an easier read. This makes this second trilogy accessible to more readers. However those who delighted in his first may wish that this trilogy was condensed into a single, shorter novel.

Twisted Metal by Tony Ballantyne, Tor (UK), pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-47877-9.
This is the first in the trilogy that precedes Blood and Iron: see the previous book listed above. We have had the hardback and the trade paperback, and this is the release of Twisted Metal's first, small paperback edition.

Edge by Thomas Blackthorne, Angry Robot, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007=34971-5.
SF with a violent edge.

Xeelee: An Omnibus by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09041-5.
This is a hard SF space opera collection of his Xeelee novels that span deep time. Very much recommended if you like your SF on a BIG canvas.

Regenesis by C. J. Cheryh, Daw, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-756-40592-2.
Sequel to the Hugo-winning novel Cyteen (1988).

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke, Pan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-51401-9.
Early Alert: This is not coming out until May (2010) but we thought some of you younger ones might like the early heads up so you can order this SF classic. And this really is an SF classic. Yes, British born Arthur C. Clarke is best known for 2001: A Space Odyssey but he wrote a load of other stuff too some of which were SF masterpieces of their decade including: A Fall of Moondust and Rendezvous with Rama. Childhood's End is up there with the best of Clarke's novels. Published in 1953 in N. America and then 1954 in Britain, the British edition was continually in print throughout the rest of the 1950,s '60s and '70s. In Britain, the Pan paperback edition had to be reprinted seven times between 1956 and 1972 to keep up with demand! Nearly half a century on from when it first came out, Pan now make it available to a new generation of SF readers. Enjoy… Silent alien ships hang suspended over Earth's major cities, the extraterrestrial invaders shock Earth into submission, but why..? Arthur C. Clarke died in 2008.

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, Harper, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-007-31129-3.
Yes, this is the film maker del Toro! The Strain is the first in a science-fantasy trilogy about contaminated blood triggering an outbreak of zombie vampires in New York.

Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky, Gollancz, trd pbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08624-1.
In the aftermath of a devastating nuclear holocaust, some of Moscow's citizens have survived through sheltering in the city's underground rail system. Then in the northernmost station a new threat appears… One of our Russian contacts tells us that the original Russian edition had a good advertising campaign and it did sell well particularly in the Moscow part of Russia (remember Russia is big). The author as a young new writer has had a Eurocon Encouragement Award. Our Russian friend also tells us that the Moscow underground was designed with the dual purpose of being a nuclear shelter and has large storage tunnels in addition to the rail network.

Paient Zero by Jonathan Maberry, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08396-7.
Testosterone fuelled zombie story. Terrorists work out how to make a zombie plague but can the elite squad stop them? This is the paperback release of last year's hardback. Click on the title link for the review.

Absorption by John Meaney, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08532-9.
This is the first in a new trilogy of the Ragnarok and is space opera. (We have previously reviewed his Context, Dark Blood and To Hold Infinity.)

The City and the City by China Mieville, Pan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-49310-9.
Last time Duncan Lunan reviewed the hardback recommending it and other favourable reviews have recently appeared elsewhere on the net.

Kick-Ass by Mark Millar & John Romita jnr., Titan, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-848-56535-7.
A teenager decides to become a super hero despite not having any superpowers. Also to be a film starring Nicholas Cage.

Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-575-07718-8.
This is the latest outing for one of Western Europe's top SF writers is a mix of steam punk, western and future romance. Set in the far future with a series of isolated environments including similar to the wild west. We all like Reynolds and so will have a stand-alone review this one for next season's edition (mid-April 2010). We did list this last season but (ahem) we were getting a bit ahead of ourselves. (Still, we're sure you did not mind the early heads up.)

Wake by Robert J. Sawyer, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09408-6.
This is the paperback release of the recent British hardback of the first in a trilogy about the internet becoming sentient. The trade paperback came out late last autumn and we hope to do a stand-alone review shortly. One of Robert Sawyer's earlier novels, Flashforward, inspired the TV series of the same name.

Above the Snowline by Steph Swainston, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08159-8.
This is a prequel to her Castle trilogy.

The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar, Angry Robot, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978 0 007-34658-5.   N. America Can$10.99, US $7.99. ISBN 978 0-061-99428-9.
A steampunk yarn in which a brilliant criminal stalks the streets of London. Scotland Yard is on his trail. But how can the city remain safe when every book is a potential weapon?

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 2010

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

The World House by Guy Adams, Angry Robot, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-34504-5.

Shades of Midnight by Lara Adrian, Robinson, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-849-01282-9.
The first of three 'Midnight Breed' adventures out this season.

Midnight Rising by Lara Adrian, Robinson, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-849-01110-5.
The second of three 'Midnight Breed' adventures out this season.

Veil of Midnight by Lara Adrian, Robinson, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-849-01109-9.
The third of three 'Midnight Breed' adventures out this season.

Alpha and Omega: Cry Wolf – Vol. One by Patricia Briggs, Ace, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-441-01848-2.
The first in a new series of paranormal romance.

Down Among the Dead Men by Robert Gregory Browne, Macmillan Fiction, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-230-74299-4.
The Day of the Dead – El dia de los Meurtos – is when Mico celebrates lost loved ones. But for two people they realise that revelling this day a sinister cult is also at work. Drawn to a small town and its 'House of the Dead', two encounter someone, or something, evil that is waiting for the right moment to strike.

Farlander by Col Buchanan, Tor (UK), hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-74481-3.
The 'Heart of the World' is a land in strife. For half a century the 'Empire of Mann' has conquered nation after nation. Ash is a member of an elite group of assassins in one of the Mercian Free Ports… This is Brit Colin Buchanan's first novel.

Fade Out by Rachel Caine, Allison & Busby, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-749-00749-2.
A Morganville Vampire Tale.

Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0575-09357-7.
A tale of the rites of adulthood involving a warrior princess and a dragon.

Destroyer of Worlds by Mark Chadbourn, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0575-08480-3.
Book three in the Kingdom of the Serpent sequence.

Death's Mistress by Karen Chance, Penguin, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08423-0.
A tale set in the Dory Basarab universe.

The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08375-2.
Dragons and politics. This is the paperback review of his debut novel.

Street Game by Christine Feehan, Piatkus, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-349-40006-8.
A Ghost Walker adventure.

At the Gates of Chaos by Raymond E. Feist, Voyager, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-007-26471-1.
Set in his demon war universe.

Rides a Dread Legion by Raymond E. Feist, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-34258-7.
The first in a new series. A race of lost elves comes to reclaim Midkemia.

Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08553-4.
Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse and her vampire boyfriend adventure. Now a Channel 4 television series.

The Fog by James Herbert, Pan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-51531-3.
Reprint of the classic horror.

The Rats by James Herbert, Pan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-51520-7.
Reprint of the classic horror.

Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb, Harper Voyager, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-007-33581-7.
2nd in the Rain Wild series. Recommended.

Avilion by Robert Holdstock, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0575-08302-8.
This is the latest in Holdstock's masterful Mythago Wood sequence. This one is more a sequel than the others as it follows straight on from the original. Sadly we have just lost Rob Holdstock but though he did not see this paperback release he saw the hardback last year.

Hyddenworld: Spring by William Horwood, Macmillan, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-71260-7.
This is the first book we have seen from Horwood for about 15 years and as this is the first in a quartet we can safely assume we will be seeing more soon. The Hydden are small people who live on the edge of our world. One is sent to live with us humans and is on a quest to find an ancient Anglo-Saxon artefact.

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard, Headline, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-753-4785-8.
The publicity suggests that this is in the vein of Robert Rankin. So the bar is set high.

Thirteen Years Later by Jasper Kent, Bantam Press, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06065-0.
This is the sequel to Twelve which was one of the biggest selling debut novels of last year. It is 1825 in Russia and the Napoleonic wars are over. While vampires played a part in that battle, peace has since held… but the vampires are stirring once more.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, Harper Collins, pbk box set, £39.99. ISBN 978-0-007-25849-9.
Now if by chance you have not got this classic children's series in your collection, or if you know a young one, then this is your chance. OK, so it has Christian religious undertones but that legend arguably adds to this fantasy classic.

The Box of Delights by John Masefield, Egmont, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-405-23253-1.
A most welcome reprint of the 1935 brilliant and classic fantasy set early in the 20th century about a school boy (Kay Harker) discovering a mysterious box that needs to be kept away from a slimy, evil magician (Abner Brown). Wonderfully written by a Poet Laureate, this tale embodies the upper middle class atmosphere of Christmas in England in days gone by. Fantastic stuff.

Dragon Heart by Todd McCaffrey, Corgi, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-522-15576-2.
Another McCaffrey dragon tale, this time by son Todd by himself.

Hellblazer: Scab edited by China Mieville, Dave Gibbons and Peter Milligan, Titan, trdpbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-1-848-56461-9.
Graphic novel adventure with John Constantine. (See also John Constantine, Hellblazer: All His Engines - Mike Carey and Leonardo Manco, Hellblazer: All His Engines - Mike Carey and Leonardo Manco, John Constantine, Hellblazer: Rare Cuts - Jamie Delano and et al and Constantine: The Hellblazer Collection - Steven T. Seagle, Ron Randall and Jimmy Palmiotti.)

Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill, Pan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-51496-5.
An upmarket Knightsbridge (London) apartment has been sealed for years. One evening a security guard hears noises within and looks through the letterbox… This is a debut horror novel from one of the big publishers (Banquet for the Damned was his first from PS publishing) but expect another soon.

City of Ruin by Mark Charan Newton, Macmillan Fiction, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-71259-1.
This is the second in the 'Legend of the Red Sun' series following Nights of Villjamur. Vliren is a city under siege from an impending ice age and the threat of invasion.

Nation by Terry Pratchett, Corgi, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-552-55779-5.
This edition is for younger readers but still has all the Pratchett hallmarks that make him a best-seller. Also this edition is the first to feature Terry's own illustrations.

Zima Blue by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-084551.
This is the paperback release of last year's hardback. It is an excellent collection of hard SF and space opera short stories from the wonderfully fantastical writer. We have reviewed loads of his stuff and Tony, Graham and Jonathan all love him. See our fiction reviews index… First one to the swimming pool takes out the automatic cleaner.

The Hero of Ages by Brian Sanderson, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISNB 978-0-575-08994-5.
This concludes the Mistborn trilogy.

A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09381-2.
An Argeneau vampire tale.

The Price by Alexandra Sokolf, Piatkus, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-749-94163-5.
The Harrowing came out from Piatkus recently and The Unseen is due out in May.

Salute the Dark by Adrrian Tchaikovsky, Tor (UK), pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-51144-5.
Book four in the 'Shadows of the Apt' series. The vampiric sorcerer Uctebri has gained control of the Shadow Box…

The Complete Lyonesse by Jack Vance, Gollancz, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-575-09024-8.
This is one of Gollancz's occasional wonderful book productions in the physical sense they occasionally produce for a grand master, in this case the SF and fantasy maestro Jack Vance. This leather-bound volume brings together three of his later novels: Suldren's Garden (1983), The Green Pearl (1985) and Madouc (1990). These form his Lyonesse sequence set in a place now submerged in the English Channel off of France. An absolute must for serious fantasy collectors.

White Star by Beth Vaughan, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08423-0.
Fantasy sword and sorcery.

Prey by Rachel Vincent, Mira, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-778-30365-7.
No information sent.

Walking the Tree by Kaaron Warren, Angry Robot, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-32244-2.
This is the author that gave us Slights.

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 2010

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

Bad Ideas: How our Finest Inventions May Finish us Off, Bantam Press, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-593-06027-8.
TV tie-in book.

100 Essential Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know by John Barrow, Vintage, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-099-52042-9.
Long-time Concatenation regulars may recall we reviewed Barrow's co-authored Anthropic Cosmological principle back in our first (print) edition (1987) and more recently Jonathan reviewed on-line New Theories of Everything: The Quest for Ultimate Explanation.

13 Things That Don't Make Sense by Michael Brooks, Profile, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-861-97647-5.
13 modern anomalies that may lead to the breakthrough science discoveries of tomorrow.

Seeing Further: 350 Years of the Royal Society and Scientific Endeavour edited by Bill Bryson, Harper Press, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-007-30256-7.
Contributions come from SF author (no squids in space) Margaret Atwood, biologist Richard (The God Delusion) Dawkins, and geneticist Steve Jones, and others. All good stuff. Despite being very much 'establishment' and a tad stuffy, the Royal Society does some fine work promoting science research. For scientists its 'Discussion Meetings' really help you keep ahead of the pack, and for the public its evening meetings and summer fayre are fascinating. Indeed this year's (2010) fayre moves to the South Bank, is free and very much worth going to.

The Eerie Silence: Are We Alone in the Universe? by Paul Davies, hrdbk, £25. 978-1-846-14142-3.
Timed to roughly coincide with the 50th anniversary of SETI.

The Next 100 Years by George Friedman, Allison & Busby, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-749-07743-0.
A dollop of futurology for those who occasionally like theirs divorced from hard SF novels. Among the predictions the 2020s will see a return of the cold war between Russia and the US, China's problems stop it becoming a super-power and Japan we need to watch. Turkey's development could have an impact on the World stage. Mexico also is on the up. If all such musings are new to you then this will be worth reading.

We Are Not Alone: Why We Have Already Found Extraterrestrial Life by Dirk Schulze-Makuch and David Darling, One World, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-851-68719-0.
Life is on Mars but we don't seem to be accepting the evidence. (We guess they are probably referring to

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 2010

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Backlash by Aaron Allston, Century, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-846-05687-1.

Star Wars: Darth Bane – Dynasty of Evil by Drew Karpyshyn, Century, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-846-05697-0.

Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit – Stealth by Karen Miller, Century, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-846-05566-9.

Kick-Ass: The Movie Book by Mark Millar, Titan, trdpbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-1-848-56409-1.
The companion to the film.

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, Penguin. ISBN 978-0-141-04355-5.
This ties in with the Christmas two part dramatization of Wyndham's 1951 classic. A dazzling meteor shower blinds the world's population. A man wakes up in hospital having missed the episode as his eyes were bandaged for an operation. He leaves the hospital to find everyone groping around and, worse, the blind being stalked by moving plants with a vicious whip-like, killer strand. Civilization breaks down…

 

[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 2010

SELECTED RECENT DVD RELEASES

Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series £134.99 DVD / £159.99 Blu-ray from Universal.
This is the new series we are talking about (as there is already a DVD collection out of the 1970s TV series). If you are a re-vamped Battlestar fan then this release will not be news to you. Alternatively it may be that you are one of those that has given the series a miss because of the (ahem) poor quality of the 1970s original. In which case think again: the new series is far more in the vein of Babylon V than Star Wars. (If you recall the original saw a litigious spat from George Lucas.) Wait for a few months for the price to come down and then treat yourself to a plot and character-rich space opera with all the latest effects. Truly scrumbolt.

Big Bang Theory - Season 2 £24.99 from Warner Home Video.
The comedy series about scientist SF nerds. (And all the science and SF references are accurate… even if the characterization is (delightfully) way over the top.)

Dr Who: Dalek War £34.99 from the BBC.
Four and three-quarter hours of Jon Pertwee Who with Katy Manning from the oil crisis year of 1973. The four discs have two, six-part adventures: 'Frontier in Space' and 'Planet of the Daleks'. In the first the TARDIS accidentally brings the Doctor and Jo aboard Earth cargo ship C982, where they find it under attack. In the second, which is connected to the first, injured after a shoot-out between his old nemesis the Master and the Ogrons, slaves to the Daleks, the Doctor sends a message to the Time Lords, asking them to pilot his TARDIS to follow the Daleks to their new base.

For All Mankind £19.99 from Eureka.
NASA's literally spectacular film about the Apollo Missions now released 40 years after the first Lunar landing.

Ghost Story £17.99 from Nucleus Films.
This 1974 offering from Director Stephen Weeks sees several old friends converge at a mansion for a reunion but… This is a so-so offering but it does have a modicum of cult status and its cast includes: Anthony Bate, Marianne Faithfull, Vivian Mackerall (the person on whom Withnail is based) and Penelope Keith. There are some good extras including several of the director's short films and adverts as well as an informative documentary.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince £24.99 from Warner Home Video.
The latest Potter picture. 'Nuff said.

Lost - The Complete Fifth Season £44.99 from Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
Need we say more…

Moon £19.99 from Sony Pictures Home Pictures.
Though not destined to be a mega classic, this is very much quite a respectable British independent SF film from last summer. In fact it is sufficiently respectable to have won a couple of awards at this year's Utopiales in France as well as a few prizes from Spain's Stiges. On the mundane award front it picked up the 'Best Film' award at the British Film Independents.   After spending three years on the Moon as a solitary miner (of helium-3), Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is almost ready to return home to his wife and daughter. But as his homecoming approaches, he begins to experience strange things that cannot be explained, and his employer may have a sinister plan in mind for him… This is Duncan Jones' directorial debut. Well worth checking out.

The Prisoner: The Complete Series (1967) £59.99 Blu-ray.
This box set is in high-definition Blu-ray; the high definition is only possible as the series was originally shot on film. This classic series is so well known there is no need to summarise it suffice to say that this is a must -- indeed will be a first -- for buffs who up till now will only have seen 605 line TV definition. If you do not want the high definition then the DVDs of the complete series came out as a box set last year at only £39.99 but this should be cheaper now. Be seeing you.

Sarah Jane Adventures - Series 2 £19.99 from BBC Video.
The children's spin-off series from Dr Who starring Elisabeth Sladen. This 4-disc set is particularly good value.

Star Trek XI £29.99 from Paramount Home Entertainment.
This is the latest film that re-boots the Star Trek franchise into a slick, spectacular action-packed romp. This edition is a three-disc set with loads of extras and a comic book.

Terminator Salvation £19.99 from Sony Pictures.
The latest Terminator film starring Christian Bale, Sam Worthington and Bryce Dallas Howard.

True Blood Season 1 £39.99 from Warner Home Video.
The US series about a telepathic diner waitress and her vampire boyfriend based on the novels. This DVD came out in N. America year before last (2008) but we only had the series first screened in the British Isles last autumn (2009).

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 2010

R.I.P.

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

Christopher Anvil, the N. American SF author (real name Harry C. Crosby jnr.), has died aged 84. His books and stories are hard SF and mainly space opera, and many appeared in the 1950s and '60s and set in the same 'Federation of Humanity' interstellar universe. His stories often had a humorous edge.

Robert S. Baker, the British TV and film producer, has died aged 93. He is known for fantastic films such as Blood of the Vampire (1958), The Flesh and The Fiends (1960) and The Trollenberg Terror (1958). With regards to cult TV, he worked on the original Saint series as well as The Persuaders.

Ray Barrett, the Australian actor, has died aged 82. He is of SFnal import as the actor who voiced Thunderbirds' Scott Tracy and the Hood as well as Stingray's Commander Shore and Titan. He also appeared in Dr Who. In 2005, he was awarded with a lifetime achievement award by the Australian Film Institute. He died following a brain haemorrhage after a fall at home. Our video clips section earlier has a link to a short interview.

Norman Bier, the optometrist whose family came to England escaping Nazi Germany, has died aged 84. He will best be remembered for his work developing the modern contact lens. . In 1944 he developed and patented a kind of contact lens known as a 'fenestrated haptic' lens. The fenestration – a small hole – was provided by a small bubble of air trapped between the lens and the cornea of the eye. Then in 1957 he introduced the Bier contour lens. His career saw him spend periods of time in Israel and the US before returning to the UK.

Norman Borlaug, famous for being the person to save the most lives, has died aged 95. This Nobel Prize-winning scientist is one of just a handful who did not win the Nobel in one of its science categories but the Nobel Peace Prize. His contribution to the 'green revolution' of the 1960s is thought to have saved a billion lives. He developed high-yield, disease-resistant strains of wheat.

Barbara Bova, the founder of the US Barbara Bova Literary Agency and wife of Ben Bova, has died from cancer.

Fernando (Frank) Caldeiro, the NASA trained astronaut, has died aged 51. Though he never flew in space, he served as the lead astronaut in several technical support roles. His family migrated to the US from Argentina when he was 16. He did not speak English at that time, but later went on to complete a Master of Science degree in engineering management from the University of Central Florida. In 2002 he was named National Hispanic Scientist of the Year by the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Florida.

Annette Carrico, the US fan, has died aged 91. She was active in Kentucky con fandom and was due to be Fan GoH at Conclave in February (2010).

Ignatius Frederic (Ian) Clarke , the British SF scholar, has died aged 91. He is a Pilgrim Award winner for distinguished contribution to science fiction studies in 1974, given by the Science Fiction Research Association. He was an intelligence officer code-breaker during WWII before becoming a professor of English at Strathclyde University (Glasgow). He had a particular interest in the way SF depicts war. His books include The Tale of the Next Great War, 1871-1914: Fictions of Future Warfare and of Battles Still-to-Come, The Tale Of The Future and The Pattern Of Expectation: 1644-2001. Another long-standing member of the British SF community gone.

Louise Cooper, the British fantasy author, has died aged 57. She has written over a score of novels, primarily for the juvenile market. Her breakthrough work was the 'Time Master' trilogy (1986).

Zanny Dillson , the US fan and conrunner, has died aged 56.

Shel Dorf, the co-founder of the US Comic-Con, has died aged 76. Coincidentally he died the same month as the other Comic-Con founder Ken Kreuger.

Dean Ellis, the artist behind many SF book and magazine covers, has died aged 88.

Janet Fox , the US fantasy author, has died aged 68. She wrote both under her own name and as ' Alex McDonough'..

Vitaly Ginzburg, the Russian Nobel-winning physicist, has died aged 93. He is known as the father of the Russian H-bomb.

Robert Holdstock, the British fantasy author, has died aged 61. In November Rob came down with a particularly virulent E. coli infection, collapsed and was rushed to hospital. After several days in a critical condition the infection proved fatal.   Rob had only just taken part in the 25th anniversary of ''Elite' day. 'Elite' was one of the first space opera graphic computer games and Rob wrote an accompanying novelette. However Rob was best known for his novels Mythago Wood (also published 25 years ago and is a World Fantasy Award winner) and Necromancer (1978). Mythago Wood's latest follow-up was only recently published by Gollancz last summer as a hardback with the paperback coming out this spring. Rob was less well known for his writing under a pseudonym titles such as novelisations for the TV series The Professionals. Some of us on the Concat team will remember him from Hatfield PSIFA's formative years at the end of the 1970s when then Rob lived down the road in London Colney. He instantly chimed with us students not just because he was an author but he had an academic background with two dungarees in zoological sciences (applied and medical), and so, of course, he was Guest of Honour at one of the early Hatfield 'Shoestringcons'. His premature death is an unexpected loss to the British SF/F community.

Ben Indick, the US fan, has died aged 86. Known for his zine Ben's Beat, he received a First Fandom Hall of Fame award last year.

John Joyce Brit actor who worked with Ken Campbell's SF Theatre, has died aged 70.

Ken Kreuger, who was one of those who founded the US Comic-Con, has died aged 70. Coincidentally he died the same month as the other Comic-Con founder Shel Dorf.

Barry Letts, Dr Who producer (1967-1974) and author of a number of spin-off books, has died aged 84.

Dan Lewis, the British botanist, has died aged 98. He is best known for his work on plant and fungal breeding. His work was of particular value to fruit growers. As with much British science, a political decision to stop funding one of his major research projects on the cherry meant it was shut down. This meant that the possible saviour of cherry growing in the UK was thrown on the compost heap. Fortunately, however, one of the project's self-fertile seedlings was sent to a breeder in Canada, who crossed it with the North American variety Lambert. The result was the first self-compatible cherry variety Stella which is now commonly sold.

William Miller, the former UK publisher (Panther) and then Japanese authors' agent, has died aged 75.

Dan O'Bannon, the US science fiction master of the big screen has died (reportedly of Crohn's disease) aged just 63. Dan O'Bannon spent much of his career near broke. However he did a lot (including work on the script and acting as Pinback) for the film Dark Star (1974) which got him onto doing the computer graphics for Star Wars (1977). His most famous screen story is undoubtedly Alien (1979) which saw him draw upon his Dark Star work, Heavy Metal (1981) 2 of the stories, Total Recall (1990), and Screamers (1995). He also co-wrote the screenplay for the forthcoming Silvaticus 3015. A huge loss to genre cinema.

Mark Owings the American fan and SF scholar, has died aged 64 of pancreatic cancer. He was very active within the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and its annual convention.

Kennedy Poyser, the US fan, has died aged 90. He was a well known fantasy fan and the owner of several US bookshops. He was the former husband of Hugo Award-winning artist Victoria Poyser.

Sheila Pover, the Brit SF fan, has died aged 79.

Pavel Popovich , the Russian cosmonaut, has died aged 79. He flew in Vostok 4 and Soyux 14. He was Deputy Chief of the Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Centre in the 1980s. He was a believer in UFOs and claimed to have seen one on a flight from the US to Russia. An asteroid and an Antarctic mountain range are named after him.

Barrie Rickards, the British palaeontologist and fishing angler, has died aged 71. He was a distinguished geologist and an Emeritus Professor in Palaeontology and Biostratigraphy at Cambridge University. However few in science were aware of his status within the angling community and that he has written more than 800 articles on fishing.

Robert Rines, the US physicist and cryptozoologist, has died aged 87. As a physicist he invented prototype technology that led to sharper resolution in radar, sonar and the ultrasound imaging of internal organs. Later in life he furthered his interest in cryptozoology. Every few years in the 1970s and '80s he would go to Loch Ness to search for the monster using his imaging techniques. Some of his pictures were published in Nature in December 1975 causing a sensation. The naturalist Sir Peter Scott agreed they indicated the existence of some sort of large animate object. Indeed, Scott declared that he was convinced that 'this is no hoax', and bestowed the Latin name Nessiteras rhombopteryx on Rines’s 'monster'.

Mary Schaub, US writer and collaborator with Andre Norton, has died aged 66.

Lawrence Slobodkin, the US ecologist, has died aged 81. He was a major influence on the development of the understanding of ecosystem community structure and their populations.

John D. Taylor, a leading member of the Kansas city (US) SF community, has died aged 63. He ran the city's SF shop, founded its SF society in 1971 as well as its firs SF con, and was active to the end.

Ed Valigursky, the US artist, has died aged 83. He worked on many of the principal N. American SF short story magazines.

Qian (H. S. Tsien) Xuesen, the Chinese N. American rocket scientist, has died aged 98. Born in China he came to the US initially as a student. He went on to make key contributions to both US and China rocketry. He was one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (California). In the 1950s, the US accused him of having communist sympathies and he lost his security clearance. He tried to return to China but was detained under house arrest for five years. Once back in China he lead its rocket programme became known as the 'Father of Chinese Rocketry' (or 'King of Rocketry'). Author Arthur C. Clarke, in 2010: Odyssey Two, named a Chinese spaceship in his honour. Also, Asteroid 3763 Qianxuesen is named after him.

 

[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 2010

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

SETI respectability has 50th birthday. It was 50 years ago that a science paper on the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence was published in the respected journal Nature so legitimising SETI as a bona fide research activity for scientists. Called 'Searching for Interstellar Communication' it was written by Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison and published in September 1959. January that year saw the Russian send a probe beyond the Earth's orbit for the first time and so it was a time of looking beyond the Earth. 50 years on and last summer saw the Allen Telescope Array (California) use a third of its time to begin its first sustained search for ETI. The first search in 1960 used a single radio frequency channel. The last major search was project Phoenix run by the SETI Institute that ended in 2004 after looking at 800 stars in a narrow frequency range and having taken a decade to analyse the data. The Allen telescope hopes to sample a million stars across a far broader range monitoring hundreds of millions of channels simultaneously.

Buzz Lightyear in space for real. The model from the film Toy Story returned from the International Space Station at the end of the summer having spent 467 days in space (beating a record held by a Russian cosmonaut by 30 days). But it was not all play for toy Buzz as he was involved in filming for Disney Parks and NASA to encourage youngsters into science.

Spiderman arrested in Hollywood. A Spidey impersonator was collecting tips from tourists along Hollywood Boulevard when he allegedly hit a man. The police were called and they came across four Spidey impersonators working the area. Finally, having sorted out who was whom, Christopher Loomis was detained has he had outstanding misdemeanour warrants.

Derren Brown lets his fans down badly. The conjurer cum psychologist has until now made it clear that he does not use paranormal magic and that his 'tricks' are the result of scientific understanding of psychology combined with a conjurer or conventional magician's skills. As such he both entertains yet retains the respect of sceptics and the secular.   All this was thrown to the wind following his successful attempt to predict the lottery live on Channel 4 TV. The week later he (supposedly) revealed how it was done on a special TV show. The top hypotheses were split-screen explanations. Yet what Derren told the public was that it was a panel of people using unconscious writing to guess. Even though his exact wording was imprecise – yes, he had a panel doing this but was this how the trick was done? – this explanation invoking people's paranormal abilities is a big departure from his 'unique selling point': rational honesty. While his trick originally attracted 2.7 million viewers (very respectable for the British Isles) his next ventures may see a significant reduction unless he clarifies his USP.

British Government sacks its own drugs science advisor. The Government yet again signalled that science is as malleable as fiction, with the Home Secretary Alan Johnson sacking Prof Nutt – the unpaid -- chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. Johnson said he had "crossed the line" in his role by campaigning against government policy. What had happened was that Prof Nutt answered a question in a lecture saying that cannabis was less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. (The UK has hard data on the effect of all three drugs on its population.) He also said it had been upgraded from class C to class B against the Council's advice - for political reasons. Then Britain's Science Minister, Lord Drayson, joined the fray saying the removal of the Government's chief drugs science adviser was a "big mistake". Two more of the Council also resigned over the way Chairman Prof Nutt has been treated. Meanwhile a number of other science advisors (with responsibility for guidance on other topics) asked the Government for clarification on the degree of free speech they have as science advisors. +++ This is not the first time the British Government has ignored science advice. Other issues have included the third runway at Heathrow airport and the question of mandatory, biometric identity cards. With regards to this last the all-party Member of Parliament Select Committee for Science and Technology pointed out that the proposals were wanting which resulted in Tony Blair's Government dissolving the entire Committee (only recently has it been resurrected). +++ CaSE (the Campaign for Science and Engineering – formerly Save British Science) has produced a formal response to the issue entitled Strengthening the integrity of scientific advice in policymaking following the forced resignation of Professor Nutt pointing out that Prof Nutt was acting in accordance with the Government's own guidelines for scientific advice providers and that Government Ministers need to have these guidelines updated for greater clarity. Furthermore it says that when Government introduces policies contrary to scientific evidence that "There should be published responses from Government to scientific advisory committee stating why they have accepted or rejected their recommendations". +++ This last was subsequently echoed by an all-party Parliamentary Select Committee report into the affair.

The founder of the Jedi religion accuses Tesco of discrimination over hoods. Daniel Jones, founder of the religion that claims around half a million followers globally, says he was victimised at a Tesco store (supermarket) in Bangor (Wales). Staff asked Jones to remove his hood or to leave the store but he claimed it was his religious right to wear it. Yet Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless but the Dark Side's Emperor is the one notably who never removed his hood. Furthermore, a Tesco spokesperson said: "If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they'll miss lots of special offers."

The White House was scared of Rowling promulgating witchcraft! According to his newly launched book, Speechless: Tales of a White House Survivor, the former Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer revealed that Bush's administration's officials objected to the suggestion that author J. K. Rowling the Presidential Medal of Freedom because her writing "encouraged witchcraft". Luckily for Marvel comics' Stan Lee, who did get the medal, Bush's god-fearing officials had not heard of Dr Strange.

'Harry Potter' wand is TV and other device remote. Brits Chris Barnardo and Richard Blakesley were inspired by Harry Potter to devise a buttonless, infra-red remote control that can 'learn' up to 13 gestures/movements to control volume, change channel or pause a DVD. Called the Kymera Wand, it has sold around 200,000 units to 41 countries including Russia, Japan and Australia: about half their orders come from N. America. It operates on a principle similar to the Nintendo Wii. As Arthur C. Clarke said: 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.'

Two Iranian government ministers, one of which is the minister for science, have been accused of science plagiarism. Science minister Kamran Daneshjou and separately roads and transport minister Hamid Behbahani have been accused of copying other scientists' published work and passing it off as their own. The incidents are reported in Nature (vol 461, pp578-9). One of the ministers was responsible for overseeing the disputed presidential elections that kept Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power that in turn sparked civil unrest. +++ Meanwhile Iran has admitted to having a second secret uranium enrichment plant… Fictional science by its government's ministers does not help Iran's claims for being open and transparent as to its real nuclear ambitions let alone its claims to be a democracy like the good old US of A that saw Gore Bush elected… Politicians eh!

Britain's Ministry of Defence closes UFO department. Established in 1950 the small unit has looked at some 12,000 reports (including 135 last year). 95% of reports have a rationale explanation but of the remaining 5% there has been no hard evidence of alien incursion. The MoD says it has no specific expertise to continue with investigations and in the absence of hard evidence for their being an alien threat to the UK the £50,000 (US$82,500) a year unit is not an appropriate use of tax-payers' money.

"Better read first class science fiction than second class science: far more stimulating,…" was the advice given by the Astronomer Royal and President of the Royal Society Sir Martin Rees, when he was guest editor of BBC Radio 4's Today programme 28th December (2009). (Guest editors are brought in each year to enliven the low news period between Christmas and New Year.) His programme naturally had a science flavour and covered issues such as: the lack of science literacy amongst Members of Parliament (very many of whom have a degree but not in science); biodiversity loss; and space exploration. His advice to read 'first class science fiction' rather than 'second class science' came towards the end of a piece with author Brian Aldiss and mathematician Ian Stewart.   Talking of 'bad science'…

Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in The Guardian has last season coverage that included:-
  - fallacious articles appearing in the Elsevier 'scientific' journal Medical Hypotheses that is not peer reviewed. The articles promulgated AIDS myths.
  - the non-science muddle that is the Home Office's study on the Blueprint programme on drug use in schools.
  - the extremely poor government agency regulation of drug trial. Yes, this is a boring issue but it is so important we all should struggle to become very concerned.
  - the British Chiropractic Association's suing science journalist Simon Singh for casting doubt as to chiropractic efficacy in treating children's colic. There seems to be a lack of convincing controlled, randomised double-blind evidence in peer-reviewed medical journals.
  - the science and the social science really shows that strict cannabis laws do not reduce use and so the Government needs to explain its reasoning for its policies especially in the light of sacking its science advisor on the matter.
  - the non-science from a British company (ATSC) selling a device which can detect guns, ammunition, bombs, drugs, contraband ivory etc. The ADE651 uses 'electrostatic magnetic ion attraction' (whatever that is) and (the powerless device) can detect these things in a dowsing-rod-like way a kilometre distant, through walls, under the ground, under water or even from an aeroplane three miles overhead. Iraq have apparently bought US$85 million worth.
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.

Ben Goldacre (above) is to appear at the London SF Euroconference Odyssey2010 at Easter 2010 – see earlier news. He also was short-listed for this year's Royal Society Popular Science Writing Prize.

 

So that was 2009. It was the year that saw the 50th anniversary of SETI and the 100th anniversary of the birth of wildlife conservationist Sir Peter Scott and that of the opening of the Science Museum, Kensington, and the 140th anniversary of the science journal Nature (which, of course we are delighted to have a relationship with the Nature 'Futures' SF stories; the double anniversary for Charles Darwin with it being the 200th anniversary of his birth and 150th of his book On the Origin of Species; plus also the double anniversary for the great Russian chemist Dmitrii Mendeleev with it being the 140th anniversary of his periodic table and 175th of his birth.   Of relevance to all internet sites (not just this one) it was the 20th anniversary of Sir Tim Berners-Lee inventing the world wide web.   2009 was also the year in which for the first time saw more people on Earth live in cities as opposed to the countryside!   2010 sees the 100th anniversary of Jules Verne's The Secret of William Storitz, and (at just 16 minutes long) the first film version of Frankenstein. Meanwhile on the science front 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity and also sees the 100th anniversary of Marie Curie's radiography paper as well as that of the Earth passing through the tail of Halley's comet and the publication of the Futurist manifesto. It is also the centenary of the death of the inventor Thomas Crapper and Nobel winning physician Robert Koch. Importantly 1910 was the year Fritz Leiber and John W. Campbell jnr. were born. Splundig.

Predictions. As you know we have gone biennial so this year we will not be looking for new predictions. However we cannot help but draw your attention to our previous long-term prediction summary of those crystal ball gazings that we have had on the table for a few years now. (See the item below this one here from last year.) Our long-term prediction for 'A microbiological pandemic either in humans or a major food crop' seems canny in the light of this year's swine flu outbreak. However Jonathan says that this is nothing: what he has in mind is far more serious!   Then again there is Simon and Jonathan's concern over 'the mid-century Mid-21st century population, energy, food crunch.' Well this was echoed this summer by the UK Government's Chief Scientific Advisor's 'Perfect Storm' concerns.   Meanwhile do not forget that last year Tony forecast that the World recession would last through to the end of 2010. Bear this in mind notwithstanding the various false-start comments from politicians and economists in the spring and autumn this year (2009) about the 'green shoots of recovery'… You are better off trusting us. Verily.

 

[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 2010

End Bits

 

More science and SF news will be reviewed in our Summer 2010 upload in April
plus there will also be 'forthcoming' book releases for the Summer.

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Angel Carralero, Amy Coleman, Steve Green, Chris Long, Flemming Rasch (sorry it was too late for last time), Oleg Kolesnikov, Roberto Quaglia, and the very many representatives of groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk who sent in news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page. If you feel that your news, or SF news that interests you, should be here then you need to let us know (as we cannot report what we are not told).

Thanks also to those contributing elsewhere on the site the past year (2009). The past year's book reviewers were: Tony Chester, Anne Clothier, Jonathan Cowie, Claire Gilligan, Kerry Glover, Susan Griffiths, Geoff Haynes, Ian Hunter, Duncan Lunan, Caz Rudd, Gail Tomlinson, Peter Thorley and Susanna Witch.   Articles were provided by: Darrell Buxton, Tony Chester, Jonathan Cowie, Jim Walker, Sherry Yao, June Young (with assistance from James Dignan) and a cooperative contribution from Laurentiu Nistorescu, Dorin Davideanu, Silviu Genescu and Antuza Genescu.   'Futures' SF stories came courtesy of: Robert Billing, Erika Cule, Joseph Lachance, Allan M. Lees and the doubly biological Henry Gee.

The site itself was provided by the core team of whom, not mentioned above, there is: Alan Boakes (main work station, posting, link checks etc), Boris Sidyuk (web space and sponsorship), Dan Heidel (back-up site and site registration), Tony Bailey (cards, paperwork etc), Bill Parry ('Futures' story PDF art editing), and Graham Connor (ancillary bobs and physics).

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Summer 2010 period – needs to be in before March 2010. News is especially sought concerns SF author news as well as that relating to national SF conventions: size, number of those attending, prizes and any special happenings.
To contact us see here and try to put something clearly science fictional in the subject line in case your message ends up being spam-filtered and needs rescuing.

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


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