Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Spring 2013

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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

STAFF MATTERS

Sadly a small minority have accused us of bias in our reporting of the European SF Society Business meeting 2014 bid presentation and vote session. On one hand there have been online comments that specifically deprecate ourselves inferring that we were biased in favour of the Irish bid. On the other, when two of us attended the December London SF Circle one of us was heatedly (arguably to the point of abuse) accused of 'favouring Romanian friends'. That we have been accused of being biased towards both bids by different parties we take as our actually providing balanced reporting. That the 2012 Eurocon had in its programme an item stating that one bid was to be the 2014 Eurocon prior to the bid session and vote is a matter of fact which was brought to our attention (we have the screenshot as evidence) that we simply reported saying 'there was a presumption of a one-horse race' and that an ESFS officer was connected. This last is also a matter of fact as the ESFS constitution clearly summarises its officers' duty with regard to liaising with the current Eurocon and in advising on the programme in advance of the convention. We also factually reported that there had been some grumbles as to the way the bidding session was managed and (as evidence) linked to the complaint that was most relevant. Fortunately, all the other feedback (both formal and informal) we had last season has not been critical (some was actually quite positive) of our coverage; indeed we continue to have good relations with those who presented both bids! (Neither do we – nor either of those who bid – dispute the bid's outcome.)   However, make no mistake we will not be hectored either collectively or individually and so a detailed analysis (but without citing specific names) explaining reasons for the concern has been posted on a blog that last year called for ESFS reform – scroll down to the comments on that link. Of course, if we do make reporting errors then we are always pleased to amend them and apologise. We are also happy to discuss why we report and comment if approached in a calm and friendly manner. We do from time to time correct errors of fact we have made: we are human. That in this instance, despite being factual, we have been subject to public, boorish criticism from a very tiny minority arguably says more of our detractors than it does of our reporting. Enough said.

Save Glasgow's astronomical stone circle. One of our review team suggests that regulars might like to lend their support to saving Glasgow's modern, pre-historic, astronomical stone circle. Check out www.sighthillstonecircle.net.

Special offer on climate change biology and human ecology. One of our core editorial team has a new book out on climate change and its biological and human aspects. See below science fact and non-fiction SF book release section for a special 20% discount offer from Cambridge University Press, but it is only valid up to 31st March 2013. (NB. Only if interest to those concerned about that issue and who read at least at the New Scientist or Scientific American level.)

Congratulations to you all for surviving the end of the World. Plucky souls that we all are. Yes, we made it past the end of the Mayan calendar on 21st December 2012 (21.12.2012) and so all narrowly avoided a close shave… Well, perhaps not.

Fantasy and horror book reviewers still wanted. Though we have one new reviewer since last season's appeal joining our book review panel, we have lost another (due to a new family addition), and so we are continuing our appeal. SF2 Concatenation not only lists forthcoming British Isles books on its seasonal news pages (like this one) but posts between 50 and 70 stand-alone book reviews a year. Currently we have a thousand stand-alone fiction reviews on the site and last year (2012) these were over 300,000 fiction review downloads by site visitors (a figure that has been growing year-on-year). Specifically we are looking for reviewers willing to review fantasy (both traditional and urban), horror, steam punk and related titles.
          Reviewers must be based in Britain (so as to keep our post costs down) and have been regular genre readers for a decade or longer.   Reviews should be typically between 500 and a thousand words and submitted as a MS Word.doc 2007 or earlier version (not .docx) with publication details as per house style accurately cited at the review's top line (check out a couple of recent reviews from our What's new page.   What we do is circulate a list of books (which has the aforesaid publication details) we have to review in January, April and September. Reviewers say how many titles they are prepared to review for the relevant review period and then list the titles they would like to review plus a couple of extra choices (as often some books get selected by more than one reviewer).   We then send the reviewers the books.   The one thing we are strict on are the seasonal deadlines (March 15th, August 15th and December 15th) as we have a really mad rush at the end of each season collating not just reviews but all the news sent us, coding the site, internal and external link checking and then posting seasonal editions.   Naturally book reviewers get to keep the books they review.   If you think you have what it takes and wish to share your critical enthusiasm for genre books then feel free to contact us about trial period.

 

Elsewhere this issue (vol 23 (1) Spring 2013), not on this news page, we have:-
          …convention reports on Spain's 2012 national convention as well as the 2012 Festival of Fantastic Films.

 

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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

SF/F news last season includes: Spiderman dying, 2000AD going digital with iPad etc. apps and our selection of the Best SF/F Books and Best SF/F Films of 2012 with the latter having links to their respective trailers.

Science awards presented over the last season included the Nobels and the IgNobels.

SF/F Awards presented over the autumn (2012) included: the World Fantasy Awards, the British Fantasy Awards, Canada's A. E. van Vogt Awards, various Finnish awards, France's Utopiales and Phenix Awards, Germany's Curt Siodmak and Phantastik Awards, Poland's Jerzy Zulawski Award, Russia's Big Zilant, Spain's Ignotus and Nocte Awards, and Denmark's Niels Klim Award and Sweden's Alvar Appeltoffls.

Book news – Includes: the top selling SF/F authors of past 15 years, Clockwork Orange's 50th anniversary and iPad app, the 2013 World Book Night, European bookshops struggle as well as more on the Amazon tax scandal.

Film news – Includes: Ruin to become a feature film and Iron Sky begins to payback supporting fans.

Television news – Includes: the top pirated SF/F shows of 2012, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell to be a series and much Dr Who news.

News of SF and science personalities includes, among many, that of: Ray Bradbury, Cory Doctorow, Pierre Gevart, Stan Lee, C. S. Lewis, Terry Pratchett, Kim Stanley Robinson and J. R. Tolkien.

Science news includes: half the Universe's missing baryons found, a planet with four suns, a super-Earth in a habitable zone, the first stone age spears found to be many thousands of years earlier than thought and the Parkinson disease-causing protein has been discovered.

News of last season's SF events includes that of: the 22nd International Festival of Fantasy and Role Playing Games and the London SF 75th anniversary.

Major forthcoming SF events include: Aelita, the 2014 Eurocon, the 2013 and 2014 Worldcons.

Our short video clip links section this season includes, among others, links to: a Short film about a knowing the future, a 5th Element costume parody, the next Iron Man trailer, and the World War Z trailer.
– See the section here.

Notable SF/F books due out in the run up to Easter 2013 includes: the mass-market paperback editions of Empty Space by M. J. Harrison, Railsea by China Miéville and Intrusion by Ken MacLeod, as well as the new hardbacks Planesrunner by Ian McDonald and Demi Monde: Summer by Rod Rees.

The Autumn (2012) saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included: Gerry Anderson, Jacques Goimard, Patrick Moore and Boris Strugatsky.

 

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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SF NEWS

Best SF/F books of 2012. 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 which also include some of these). In addition to a number of the SF2 Concatenation team, thanks for suggestions also go to the MaD SF Group. We have a varied mix for you (alphabetically by author) so there should be something for everyone. So if you are looking for something to read then why not check out these Science Fiction & Fantasy books of 2012:-
          Hydrogen Sonata by Iain Banks
          Empty Space by M. J. Harrison (Controversial inclusion for some of us. You'll either love or hate it.)
          Intrusion by Ken MacLeod
          Transmission by John Meaney
          Railsea by China Miéville
          Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik
          Dodger by Terry Pratchett
          Demi-Monde Spring by Rod Rees
          Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds
          2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
Last year's best books (2011) here.

Best Science Fiction (and Sci Fi) films (movies) of 2012. Well, there has been the usual debate as to our informal consideration for better or worse. We have as customary 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 2012 selection, for everyone. The below listing is in alphabetical order:-
          The Avengers. This is the film that all too predictably will almost certainly be nominated by Hugo Award for SF achievement voters. See the trailer here.
          Chronicle. A group of American youngsters gain superpowers with humorous and then tragic results. Misfits this aint but it comes close in a middle class way. See the trailer here.
          Cloud Atlas. Feelings divide on this one, perhaps due to being coloured by it being based on David Mitchell's novel. The film's protagonist are reincarnated across time with the past informing the future. See the trailer here.
          The Dark Knight Rises. The third and final part of Christopher Nolan's successful run of 'Batman' films. We include this purely as a nod to the trilogy and not to this specific film. See the trailer here.
          The Divide.This German, Canadian and US co-production sees a group survive a nuclear attack in a basement fallout shelter… It had a limited screenings at film fests in 2011 and then a limited general release in 2012. See the trailer here.
          Extraterrestrial. A Spanish offering by Director Nacho (Timecrimes) Vigalondo – need we say more? OK, for those of you who don't get beyond Hollywood, Vigalondo's a cinematic SF genius. With Extraterrestrial two strangers wake up after a party in bed with each other. Outside a giant alien space craft arrives to hover over the city… Now, this may not sound like much but seek it out. It was screened at a number of Fests in 2011 but had its US and British general release in 2012. See the trailer here. (We cited Time Crimes as one of the best films of 2008.)
          John Carter (of Mars). This is one that Hugo voters should shortlist as it is based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs cult classic (sci fi in the strictest sense) 1912 novel but memories dim. Remember that the source material was the best part of a century before Star Wars and you will begin to appreciate its value. The film has bags of spectacle. See the trailer here.
          Looper. Another Hollywood production but not a comic character adaptation and possibly their best original SF offering of the year. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis together star as the same (younger and older person). His younger self in the present executes those organised crime sends back from the future. Until one day he is sent his older self to kill… See the trailer here.
          Safety Not Guaranteed. News reporters, struggling to find an interesting story, decide to investigate a man who has advertised for a companion to accompany him on a time travel trip but with the caution 'Safety Not Guaranteed'. Arguably this is more than just a comedy SF offering. See the trailer here.
          Sound of My Voice. More of an intellectual offering that for much of the film is only quietly SF. A documentary team visit a recluse in a basement who has a following who claim she is a visitor from the future. Amnesic (convenient) and dying due to time travel, she begins to warn of a coming war that will ravage the Earth's population… This film is as much an exploration of the phenomenon of cults and belief. Should the documentary makers strive to debunk if she really is who she claims? See the trailer here.
          Womb. A possibly unsettling film that explores bioethics. When a biologist's lover dies there is only one thing that is obvious to do: get cloning. This – like many independents – has done the Fest circuit for a couple of years before getting a limited release in the US and Britain in 2012 along with its DVD. It is also a German, Hungarian and French co-production. See the trailer here.
          There was also The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey that came out just before Christmas but which was, we felt, overly long and a mash between The Hobbit and Silmarilion. Finally, there was Iron Sky which was good but not great. +++ Last year's best films (2011) here.

As for short-form media (effectively TV) SF and offerings under 90 minutes, we seem no reason to change our view from last year the Hugo voters will no doubt go for Dr Who in what has in recent years effectively in all but name become the Dr Who Hugo category. This is not a function of the Hugo's purpose of reflecting SFnal excellence rather than the Hugo rules mean you vote for an episode (not the series) and so many Dr Who fans vote at the Worldcon for so many episodes that almost everything else gets squeezed out. (Would that the TV series only count for the Hugo nomination and then the episode that gets the most votes be the one put on the ballot. That way Hugo voters would be able to choose the best episode of the different series on the ballot.) So if recent year's Hugo-voting practice is anything to go by then a few Who episodes will be short-listed and here our betting is that it will be the departure of the Ponds episode that will be the one that wins.
          Anyway, if you do feel like voting for something different then the year's worthy-of-consideration productions (out of many offerings) include:-
          Big Bang Theory (Season 5). More science and SF comedy with this charming N. American series about researchers and their attractive non-science mundane neighbour. A safe bet for most of our regulars to be able to view this as this is shown on both sides of the Pond. If you have not seen it then here are some season 3 highlights (including how come they have always been unable to use the lift).
          Misfits (Season 4) is in effect the British take on the Heroes premise of individuals gaining super-powers but dark, gritty, sassy and street wise.   Seasons 1 and 2 (2009 and 2010) were stunningly brilliant and radically different to Heroes even though the theme explored is the same. Season 4 sees another of the original Misfits leave the series but there are some cracking standalone episodes. See the first season introductory trailer here.
          The one short-form innovation of 2012 was the rise of the web-series. Here arguably the best web-series of 2012 was H+. In the near future most of the developed world's adult population has their brain wi-fi-ed into the internet. However a virus strikes and suddenly all are effectively killed apart from a tiny minority… Each episode is just 10 minutes (5 after opening and closing credits) but with 44 episodes released over 2012, it is quite a story. The episodes jump between the event and a few years before as well as after. See www.youtube.com/user/HplusDigitalSeries. Hugely recommended.

Nominations for 2013 Hugo Awards are now open for works of SF achievement appearing in 2012. For details see our Eurocon/Worldcon news subsection below. Vote, and vote wisely.

The 2012 Nobel Prizes for science have been announced. The science category wins were:-
          Physics: Serge Haroche (France) and David Wineland (US) for their work on with light and matter at the most fundamental level. Their quantum optics work on single photons and charged atoms could lead to advanced modes of communication and computation. The prize is the second in quantum optics: the theory behind decoherence formed part of 2005 Nobel for physics
          Chemistry: Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka for work on G-protein coupled receptors which loop across cell membranes and so are important for hormone and neurotransmitter signalling hence by application the pharmaceutical industry.
          Medicine: John Gurdon (Britain) and Shinya Yamanaka (Japan) share Nobel prize for creating stem cells from 'normal' cells. Gurdon used a gut sample to clone frogs and Yamanaka altered four genes to reprogram cells. (John Gurdon's early forays into biology resulted in his school teacher describing his scientific ambitions as 'a waste of time'.)
          Literature: Mo Yan (China) who writes a mix of realism and magical realism. Usually his stories concern about communities in China that seem to be very familiar, very ordinary - the sort of region where he grew up - but then all kinds of magical and unusual things start to happen. He has been writing for decades and has a large oeuvre and readership. He addresses the human condition in a way in which the Nobel Committee likes.
          See also last year's 2011 Nobel Prizes.

The 2012 IgNobel Awards have been announced. These are humorous science awards that – after pausing for initial consideration – make you think that they do have a point. Among the category winners this year, the following caught our eye:-
          Medicine Prize: Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode.
          Psychology Prize: Anita Eerland and Rolf Zwaan and Tulio Guadalupe for their study 'Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller'.
          Peace Prize: The SKN Company for converting old Russian ammunition into new diamonds.
          Literature Prize: The US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports: 'Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies', US Government General Accountability Office report GAO-12-480R, May 10, 2012.

The World Fantasy Awards were presented at the World Fantasy Con in Toronto, Canada. The various category wins were:-
          Novel: Osama by Lavie Tidhar
          Novella: 'A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong' by K.J. Parker
          Short Story: 'The Paper Menagerie' by Ken Liu
          Anthology: The Weird edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer
          Collection: The Bible Repairman and Other Stories by Tim Powers
          Artist: John Coulthart
          Special Award – Professional: Eric Lane, for publishing in translation – Dedalus books
          Special Award – Non-Professional: Raymond Russell & Rosalie Parker, for Tartarus Press
Last year's awards here.

The British Fantasy Awards have been presented by the British Fantasy Society at Fantasycon in Brighton. The winners were:-
          Best Novel (Robert Holdstock Fantasy Award): Among Others by Jo Walton (following being a Hugo winner)
          Best Novel (August Derleth Horror Award): The Ritual by Adam Nevill
          Best Novella: 'Gorel and the Pot-Bellied God' by Lavie Tidhar
          Best Short Fiction: 'The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter' by Angela Slatter
          Best Anthology: The Weird edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
          Best Collection: Everyone’s Just So, So Special by Robert Shearman
          Best Screenplay: Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen
          Best Magazine/Periodical: Black Static edited by Andy Cox
          Best Comic/Graphic Novel: Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
          Best Non-Fiction: Supergods by Grant Morrison
          Best Independent Press: Chomu Press
          Best Newcomer: Kameron Hurley
Last year's awards here. And speaking of last year, it is good to see normal service resumed after that little ruck.

Danish Niels Klim Award was presented at this year's Fantasticon. The winners were:-
          Best Novella: (tie): Alastair Reynolds for 'Skjul' ['Hideaway'] and 'Minlas blomster” ['Minla’s Flowers'] from Vejen mellem stjernerne(both translated by Niels Dalgaard) and both of which appear in the English edition Zima Blue.
          Best Novelette: 'Faderens Sønner' ['The Sons of the Father'] by A. Silvestri from Faderens sønner.
          Best Short Story: (tie) 'Homo Arachnida' ['Homo Arachnida'] by Michael Kamp and for 'En Helt Almindelig Død' ['A Completely Ordinary Death'] by Lars Ahn Pedersen.

Germany's Curt Siodmak Prize (visual) and the German SF Prize (written) were awarded by the SF Club Deutschland (SFCD) at their annual convention this year in Kiel. We should have covered this last time in the autumn but alas were not then informed of the wins:-
          Curt Siodomak - Film: Planet der Affen: Prevolution [Rise of the Planet of the Apes]
          Curt Siodomak - TV: Ijon Tichy - Raumpilot (This year a German offering that
                                        is an adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's Star Diaries.)
The Deutsche Science Fiction Preis DSFP (German SF Club Prize ):-
          Best Novel: Galdäa - Der Ungeschlagene Krieg [Galdäa - The Unfought War]
          Best Story: 'In der Freihandelszone' ['Within Free Trade Zone']
The German SF Club Prize is a juried award from the German SF Society (Club) SFCD. Conversely the Curt Siodmak Prize is fan voted. Curt Siodmak, after whom the prize is named, was a German writer and film director born in 1902.   Last year's Siodmak awards here.

Germany's Phantastik Prize was awarded at Buchmessecon (BuCon) (or Book Fayre Con) in Dreieich near Frankfurt. The principal wins were:-
          Novel: Vernichtender Hass [Shattering Hatred] by Markus Heitz
                    (2nd year win in a row for Heitz – watch him)
          Debut Novel: Die Alchemie der Unsterblichkeit [The Alchemy of Immortality] by Kerstin Pflieger
          Best Foreign Book (translated to German): Die Furcht des Weisen 1
                              [published in Britain as The Wise Man's Fear] by Patrick Rothfuss
          Best (book) Series: Perry Rhodan (yet again).
          Short story: 'Die Duftorgel' ['The Scent Organ'] by Nina Horvath
Last year's Phatastik Award winners here.

Finland has seen a number of genre awards presented. These principally included:-
Atorox Award (for best Finnish short in 2011):Kirje Lethelle [A Letter to Lethe] by Pasi Jääskeläinen
Nova (short story competition): Kiven Värit [Colours of Stone] by Jenni Kauppinen
Tähtivaeltaja Award(best science fiction book - original or translated): Kvanttivaras [The Quantum Thief] by Hannu Rajaniemi
Tähtifantasia Award (best fantasy book translated into Finnish of 2011): Kohtalon Miekka (original title Miecz Przeznaczenia [Sword of Destiny]) by Andrzej Sapkowski
Kuvastaja Award (best Finnish fantasy book of 2011): Sudenlapset [Wolf Children] by Helena Waris

The Utopiales and other Awards were presented at this year's Utopiales in Nantes, France. (an event that is a big as Worldcon). The principal category wins were:-
Literature
          Prix Utopiales Européen (Novel): Mordre le Bouclier [Biting the Butcher] by Justine Niogret
          Prix Utopiales Européen Jeunesse (Juvenile SF): Saba Ange de la Mort [Angel of Death] by Moira Young
          Prix Julia Verlanger: La Route de Haut Safran [Originally published in the British Isles as Shades of Grey 1: The Road to High Saffron] by Jasper Fforde
          Prix de la Meilleure Bande Dessinée de SF (Graphic Novel): Big Crunch by Rémi Gourrierec
Cinéma
          Grand Prix du Jury: Eega [Fly] directed by S. S. Rajamouli (India)
          Mention Spéciale: The Human Race by Paul Hough (UK)
          Prix SYFY du Public: Iron Sky by Timo Vuorensola (Finland)
          Prix du Jury Courts (Shorts) Métrages: Apnoe by Harald Hund and Paul Horn (Austria)
          Prix du Public Courts (Shorts) Métrages: La Mysterieuse Disparition de Robert Ebb [The Mysterious Disappearance of Robert Ebb]
                    by Francois Xavier Goby, Matthieu Landour and Clement Bolla (France, UK)
          Special Mention : Robots of Brixton Avares Kibwe (Great Britain)
          Special Mention : Error 0036 by Raul Fernandez Rincón (Spain)
          Special Mention : Tvillingen [The Twin] by Gustav Danielsson (Sweden)
In addition, this year (2012) saw short story competitions for school children. Note: We reported that Robots of Brixton was getting attention at Film Fests last Easter and had a link to the film here.   Last year's Utopiales winners can be found here.

France's Prix Phenix 2012 award went to the novel Rêves de Gloire [Dreams of Glory] by Roland C. Wagner who sadly died last year.

Poland's Jerzy Zulawski Literary Awards [Nagroda Literacka im. Jerzego Zulawskiego] for 2012 has been presented. This juried award goes to a winner for their contribution to science fiction as well as to 'Gold' and 'Silver' runners-up. These were:
          J. Z. Winner: Jacek Dukaj for his 'Science fiction'
          Gold: Wit Szostak for Dumanowski
          Silver Michal Protasiuk for Swieto Rewolucji [ Revolution Day].
Jerzy Zulawski (1874 –1915) was a Polish literary figure whose best-known work is the science-fiction epic, Trylogia Ksiezycowa (The Lunar Trilogy) written between 1901 and 1911.

Spain's 2012 Ignotus Awards were presented at Hispacon. The winners were:-
          Best Spanish Novel: Fieramente Humano [Fiercely Human] by Rodolfo Martínez (NGCficción)
          Best Spanish Novella: La Textura de tu Piel [The Texture of Your Skin] by David Jasso (Abismos - Grupo AJEC)
          Best Spanish Short Story: 'Mytolitic' by Sergio Mars (Catarsi 6)
          Best Anthology: Abismos [Abyss] by David Jasso (Grupo AJEC)
          Best Essay (book): Blade Runner-Lo que Deckard no Sabía [Blade Runner: What Deckard Did Not Know] by Jesús Alonso (Akal)
          Best Article: 'Gilgamesh, ¿Qué fue de...?' ['Gilgamesh, What happened to ...?'] by Ignacio Illarregui Gárate (Literatura Prospectiva)
          Best Illustration: 'Los Horrores del Escalpelo' ['The Horrors of the Scalpel'] by Alejandro Colucci (Grupo AJEC)
          Best Audio-Visual Work: Eva (2011) by Kike Maillo.
                                                        (This film premiered in Japan and other countries 2011-'12.)
          Best Comic: El Héroe [The Hero] by David Rubin (Astiberri)
          Best Poetic Work: 'Histerias Minúsculas' ['Lowercase Hysteria'] by Víctor Miguel Gallardo Barragán (Alea Blanca)
          Best Magazine: Calabazas en el Trastero [Pumpkins in the Attic (Saco de Huesos Ediciones)
          Best Foreign Novel (ex aequo): 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (Tusquets)
                                                        and La Chica Mecánica [The Windup Girl] by Paolo Bacigalupi (Plaza & Janés)
          Best Foreign Short Story: 'Ultima Generación' ['The State of the Art'] by Iain M. Banks (Ultima generación – La Factoría de Ideas)
          Best Website: La Tercera Fundación [The Third Foundation] (Asociación Los Conseguidores)
          And finally Orpheus by M. Braceli won the The Domingo Santos Award.
Domingo Santos is a well known Spanish SF author who also co-founded the magazine Nueva Dimensión [New Dimensions]. Feel free to read 2011 Domingo Santos Award winning Astronauta en la Playa [Astronaut on the Beach] by Ramón San Miguel (in Spanish) here (completely legally): http://www.ciencia-ficcion.com/relatos/r217.htm   The Ignotus has been Spain's national SF Award since 1991 (equivalent to the British SF Awards) and presented at Spain's annual natcon, Hispacon, which is sponsored by the Asociación Española de Fantasía, Ciencia Ficción y Terror (AEFCFT) and voted by its members although Spanish Tolkien Society and AGASF (Galicia Science Fiction Association) members are allowed to vote too.

Spain's 2012 Nocte Awards were presented by the Spanish Association of Horror Writers (Nocte). The category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Cuerpos Descosidos [Ripped Bodies] by Javier Quevedo Puchal (NGC Ficción)
          Best Foreign Book: Now We Are Sick: An Anthology of Nasty Verse by Neil Gaiman-Stephen Jones (23 Escalones)
          Best Foreign Short sStory: 'Venganza' ['Revenge'] by Liudmila Petrushevskaia (Atalanta)
          Best Short Story: 'La Necesidad del Dolor' ['The Need of Pain'] by José María Tamparillas (Saco de huesos)
          Best Anthology: Abismos [Abyss] by David Jasso (Grupo AJEC)
          Nocte Honorary Award: Diego Laguarta

Meanwhile with our eye still on Spanish language SF/F, La Locura de Dios [The Folly of God] by Juan Miguel Aguilera won the Locus Somebody-Please-Translate Award. And the Chilean film producer ChileFantástico is developing Zohe that is set against the backdrop of a 2084 post-apocalyptic war.

Sweden's Alvar Appeltoffts Minnespris (Mini-Prize) went to Jonas Wissting for contributions to Swedish fandom.

Russia's Big Zilant Award was presented at Zilantkon. This year's winner was Yevgeny Lukin. Eagle-eyed site regulars will remember that Yevgeny Lukin won a 2012 Roskon Award and a 2010 Wanderer Award. The Big Zilant is a juried award for outstanding Russian language fantasy.

The inaugural A.E. van Vogt Award winner has been announced. The winner is Brian J. Clarke who will receive the Can$1200 prize for his novel Alphanauts. The award is sponsored by the Winnipeg Science Fiction Association and is presented for first-edition full length science fiction novel or full-length science fiction short story anthology, written by an author linked to Western Canada by birth or residency. The awards instigation comes 100 years on from 1912 when Alfred Elton Van Vogt was born on a farm in Edenburg, a Russian Mennonite community east of Gretna, Manitoba, Canada.   Alphanauts is hard SF and sees a small group of explorers return to Earth after a several year trip to an Earthlike planet in the Alpha Centauri system. They find, to their dismay, that they cannot now live on Earth. So the explorers are forced to return to Alpha Centauri and…

New Zealand's Sir Julius Vogel Award nominations are now open. See news in the fandom subsection below.

7th Fantastic Forum sees the launch of two semi-prozines: Lusitânia and Trëma. Held in Portugal at the end of November (2012) both publications present Portugeuse science fiction and fantasy.

New SF/F fiction PDF e-zine launched – International Speculative Fiction. November (2012) saw issue 1 of International Speculative Fiction. The zine contains SF/F fiction as well as related non-fiction in English but from non-Anglophone authors. Of note in issue one is a non-fiction article on Philip K. Dick by the late Polish SF grandmaster Stanislaw Lem reprinted from Science Fiction Studies (March 1975). The publication's design looks good (but it really does need its artwork and background page tints compressed as in the first edition they make scrolling pages painfully slow even if the 38 page PDF is just 4MB: hopefully they will sort this out with future editions). Some of the contents have won awards from their original publication. If such offerings are to be a mainstay of the publication then ISF could become rather important. Award-winning SF from non-Anglophone (non-English speaking) nations is hard to come by. True some awards in some countries have little true merit due to a variety of innocent reasons: the country may be small and so publish little from which to select truly meretricious works; or some awards are little more than local pats-on-the-back to otherwise genre-worthy individuals independent of writing quality. However when a writer's name and stories crops up in a number of different award wins then clearly their stories would be appropriate for something like International Speculative Fiction. (Examples continually crop up and from this season's news there's Markus Heitz Phantastik wins and Yevgeny Lukin with the Zilant Award being his latest. The ISF staff just need to go back through recent year's of various awards to see whose names keep recurring.) Minor first issue quibble: International Speculative Fiction always needs to fully cite (and if possible link within the PDF) these works' original publication details for both netiquette good manners, and readers' academic interest let alone proper copyright listing.   You can download copies from internationalsf.wordpress.com.

Spiderman has died! Shock! Drama! Horror! Probe!. Tripple sized issue 700 of Amazing Spider-Man sees spiderman's body taken over by Dr Octopus, while Peter Parker's mind is in Dr Octopus' body and dies. So now we have Dr octopus effectively wearing Spiderman's body… And this has all sadly meant that Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott has received death threats. Now Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso has come out to support Dan. "This isn't the first time a creator has received a death threat here at Marvel, and we take all threats of physical violence -- to a Marvel staffer or freelancer -- very seriously. If you threaten one of us, even if it's just as a joke, we will do a thorough investigation to determine who you are. Count on it. This announcement [of Peter Parker's death] was met with perhaps a little more vitriol than others. Perhaps that speaks to the passion people have for this character."   Meanwhile issue 700 has sold around 250,000 paper copies.

2000AD goes iPhone and iPad. First up there is now a free 69-page sampler that includes the first Judge Dredd story from the Apple Newsstand.   Also there are digital subscriptions available which include free back issues of the 'Galaxy's greatest comic'. A one-month subscription costs £7.49 (US$10.99) which represents a 9% discount on the normal subscription and includes a month of back issues. A three month sub costs £20.99 (US$29.99) which represents a 24%% discount on the normal subscription and includes two months of back issues. Finally, there is the annual subscription of £74.99 (US$109.99) which represents a 24% discount on the normal subscription and includes three months of back issues! All are delivered direct to your iPhone or iPad each Wednesday. Splundig.

 

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

Spring 2013

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

Ray Bradbury has had a street junction in Los Angeles named after him. Ray Bradbury Square is at the intersection of 5th and Flower streets in downtown Los Angeles and, appropriately for an author, is near the L.A. Library. Most fitting.

Eric Brown has had commissioned a linked quartet of novellas by PS Publishing. The books will be published as limited editions only and the first will appear next summer. Each volume of the Colony Quartet will be set on a different colony world in Earth’s Expansion – the same universe as Eric’s Starship novellas. They will feature Matt Hendrick, an ex-colonial administrator. The story arc will show him regaining his humanity through his various experiences. One story will be a murder mystery set on an exotic alien world, another a mystery involving a bizarre race of native life-forms...

Cory Doctorow and Ben Laurie argue in the journal Nature (2012, 491,125-6) that the system of Certificate Authority used by the Domain Name System (DNS) is outdated and now can be copied by some hackers. One solution is to use a cryptographic protocol called Sovereign Keys (SK) and another is also cryptographic called Certificate Transparency (CT), both use a log based on Merkle Tree hierarchy that has elements (analogous to tree leaves) that are independent of other elements on the tree. This means that knowing some elements means that you cannot deduce others. Cory and Ben conclude that history shows that those who seek new avenues of attack will eventually find them. We need to close this troubling breach now before hackers find it and there are potential solutions such as these.

Raymond Feist is to have his 'Rift War' sequence re-released in print. News in our Book News subsection below.

Neil Gaiman has written the next Dr Who cyberman adventure as part of the series' 2013, 50th anniversary season. The episode has been filmed and features the episode Warwick (Harry Potter) Davis, Tamzin Outhwaite and Jason (Being Human) Watkins as a band of misfits on a mysterious world.

Pierre Gevart, editor of Galaxies SF, has written a play entitled Jules Verne invites H. G. Wells to a dinner during a railway hazard in Amiens station, 1898.... It will be performed using professional actors during France's 40th national convention in 2014 in Amiens.

Stan Lee, he of Marvel comics fame, turned 90 on 28th December (2012). Our belated many happy returns. Sadly Spiderman has died.

C. S. Lewis is to be honoured in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. His memorial stone service will take place on 22nd November (2013) to mark the 50th anniversary of his death. As such Lewis will join such greats as John Keats, William Blake and TS Eliot in the Poets' Corner tradition going back 600 years.

Michael Moorcock is to have his entire SF/F backlist re-released in print. News in our Book News subsection below.

Adam Nevill has two novels – House of Small Shadows and No One Gets Out Alive slated to come out from Pan Macmillan in the British Isles and St Martin’s Press in the USA. The former will come out later this year (2013) and the latter next year. These will be Adams 5th and 6th novels. His second was Apartment 16. Bragelonne have also acquired French rights for Adam’s novels The Ritual and Last Days.

Gareth L Powell has a sequel to Ack-Ack Macaque commissioned by Solaris with the novel Hive Monkey . Ack-Ack Macaque came out at Christmas (2012). The novels are steampunk, whose protagonist is an intelligent monkey who pilots a spitfire against the Nazi's Martian-tripod-like war machines in a world which may or may not be real… The novels had a taster 5-page comic strip in the Christmas 2000AD Prog 2013. The sequel is slated for an early 2014 publication. In it our hirsute hero finds himself once again racing to save the world – this time from an aggressive hive mind, time-hopping saboteurs, and an army of homicidal Neanderthal assassins.

Terry Pratchett has been in the US promoting his latest novel Dodger. While in New York, and in a taxi, he suffered cardiac fibrillation necessitating carer / assistant, Rob Wilkins, having to give him cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He subsequently announced that his daughter, video game writer Rhianna, will take over his Discworld series of novels after his death. Rhianna Pratchett will also be a co-writer on the upcoming BBC Discworld series The Watch, and will write the Discworld books when Pratchett eventually retires. “The Discworld is safe in my daughter’s hands,” Terry assures. +++ In the US the Amazon Kindle version of Dodger uses US spelling. Previously Terry's Discworld books have been in English and some fans (rightly in our view) have complained.

Kim Stanley Robinson was interviewed by the journal Nature (2012, 491, 330-1) on some recent science developments and his latest novel. The August 2012 news was that Barnard's star (6 light years away) has no planets although it has been used by authors such as Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Will Eisner and Michael Moorcock. Conversely, October's news was that Alpha Centauri B (4.3 light years away) has an Earth-sized planet and so in-keeping with stories by Stanislaw Lem, Robert Silverberg, Philip K. Dick, as well as Asimov and Clarke. (Indeed Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of the Star Trek warp drive, will live there.) However Stan's reaction to all this was that we get over the idea of interstellar travel altogether as FTL seems impossible. His recent book 2312 looks at humanity three hundred years from now when we only have colonised other parts of our own Sol system. He opines that colonising the Galaxy is 'a fantasy' albeit one of power and transcendence. We have to get more realistic.

J. K. Rowling's non-SFf The Casual Vacancy has been in and out of the British Isles' 'original fiction' chart's number 1 spot since its release in the autumn up to Christmas. Up to Christmas its total British Isles sales exceeded 317,000 copies. +++ She has announced that her next book will be a return to the juvenile market for younger children.

Patrick Stewart appeared on BBC Radio 4's science chat show The Infinite Monkey Cage. A fellow panellist pointed out that exoplanet searches so far suggest that most systems do not contain Earthlike planets in the habitable zone harbouring life but in Star Trek: The Next Generation they came across alien civilisations every week. Patrick replied that those were the episodes that were filmed. Most weeks on the Enterprise they never encountered alien life but those weeks were not filmed… The audience was also asked as to what greeting they would give an alien who had just landed on Earth. One response was that as the aliens would most likely not speak English that instead they would communicate with them through the medium of dance. Another was to inform the aliens that our leaders were morons but instead here are our scientists. Finally, there was an end-of-episode announcement made in the interest of balance and the BBC's aim for fair broadcasting. The BBC recognised that most listeners believed that Man had been to the Moon but accepted that a minority were of the view that the Moon-landings had been staged, although those with such a view were wrong.

J. R. R. Tolkien has only belatedly revealed that the intitial sales of The Hobbit were poor. He wrote to fellow author Arthur (Swallows and Amazons) Ransome revealing his concern about The Hobbit's sales. Tolkien said he would send a revised edition to Ransome "if there is a reprint", adding "sales are not very great". The letter forms part of a collection of Tolkien's writing held at the University of Leeds where he taught. +++ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has acquired the United States rights to publish a previously unknown work by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fall of Arthur. The book, chronicles the last days of King Arthur and will be edited by Tolkien’s son Christopher, who will also provide commentary and notes. It will come out in May (2013). +++ Meanwhile The Hobbit does well at the box office (see below). +++ And HarperCollins has Hobbits' breakfast (see below)

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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

FILM NEWS

Skyfall has had the biggest Bond opening weekend and does well in US. OK, so Bond is not firmly seated in SF but it is arguably a technothriller franchise with SF riffs: world domination, space programmes, germ warfare, high-tech gadgetry etc. Skyfall took £20.1m following its release on Friday making it the biggest British Isles opening of 2012 so far and the third biggest British Isles opening of all time. But Skyfall failed to smash the record set by last year's genre Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 debut weekend. Over in the US Skyfall took US$87.8m (£55m).   In case you have not seen the film, you need to note that the first two Daniel Craig Bond films reinvents his early days with MI6 and this continues these ultimately taking him back to his deceased parents' Scottish (nod to Sean Connery) estate and a reprise for Bond's Goldfinger car (another nod to Connery's legacy). Excellent scenes shot in Whitehall London (including one on top of the Home Office roof). And yes, the London Circle tube (metro) underground rail line does go beneath Whitehall and Westminster, including by Churchill's War Office bunkers. (And this is why in times of emergency, such as 11/9, that part of the underground gets closed to traffic.) And, yes, there is a sewer running parallel to the tube along this stretch and this is part of Bazalgette's Victorian heritage.) SPOILER ALERT: This film's ultra-high-tech gadget is a radio GPS transmitter.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey broke US debut weekend box office takings with US$84.8m (£52.4m). The previous record for December was also set in cash terms (unadjusted for inflation) by an SF film with I Am Legend with US$77.2m (£47.7m) in 2007.   The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is shot at a far higher screen refresh rate than normal and this gives a viewing impression of higher image clarity by reducing blurring caused by motion. The usual rate is 24 frames per second, but The Hobbit was shot at twice this at 48 frames a second. +++ Hobbit tops N. American box office chart for three weeks in run-up to Christmas (2012). Over this time Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth grossed US$222.7m (£137.3m) in North America. +++ Contrary to the book's initial sales.

Ruin to be made into a feature film. Ruin was a post-apocalyptic short film with excellent computer animation that we recommended in our film short clips last summer and made by Wes Ball. Part of the opening series has been used in the new US television series Revolution (a near-future where electricity is blocked). The short's post-end-credit message suggested a follow-up but now it looks like 20th Century are to fund a live action feature film! You can see the original short here.

George Lucas to leave Star Wars. George Lucas and LucasFilm have sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney. Disney are now working on Star Wars Episode VII for an anticipated 2015 release. (Without Lucas it might even be good.) +++ Right now rumour has it that the next film will be part of the Lucas Star Wars storyline but then Disney will see how that goes and may release a couple of Star Wars films unconnected with that story arc and then perhaps return to it after 2020.

Why was Total Recall (2012) a commercial flop? Its director, Len Wiseman, thinks he has the answer. It is to do with the star value of the 1990 version's lead Arnold Schwarzenegger. Furthermore, the studio preferred a tighter, more action-oriented, cut that trimmed too much of the story. Now he is encouraging fans to check out the extended DVD and Blu-ray director's cut, which restores a lot of the world-building and 'big ideas' he had tried to include. "It truly is my director's cut and not just an extended cut. It goes further into the things that I was excited about - that question of fantasy versus reality and really playing with that idea," he said. He also pointed out that "While I was in college I read Philip K Dick's story and it was shocking to me how different that character of Quaid came across in the story to the film that I watched when I was a kid. So I was excited by the idea of not in any way trying to replace Arnold Schwarzenegger but to present a new type of Quaid not a new type of Arnold."

Iron Sky starts paying back its investors. It has made more than US$10 million at the box office since its April release. Furthermore it has yet to be released in some countries and the box office figures do not include DVD sales. Some 10% of the film's £7.5 million (US10m) budget was provided through crowd sourcing and these investors are now beginning to see a return. (See here for our link to the trailer.   Also our early reporting on funding.) +++ Blind Spot Productions who made the film are now working on Jeremiah Harm which is based on the SFF graphic novel. The film will be conventionally funded other than the funding for the aliens. So if fans want to see great aliens then they will have to pay for the effects.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!: Time Travel App. Is knowing the future a good thing? – See it here.

Film clip download tip!: 'Sixth Element' (Fifth Element Parody) $400 Costume Contest Winner. After winning the Halloween Costume contest at Movieclips, it was decided to shoot the winner, Jimmy, in costume, acting out the iconic scene in The Fifth Element - shot for shot. – See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Iron Man 3 - Teaser Trailer (2013). Brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man comes up against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?   The film will be released early in May, 2013. – See it here.

Film clip download tip!: World War Z - Trailer. Based on Max Brooks' novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, the story revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself. – See it here.

See also the trailers for some of the best films of 2012 near the top of the page in our Best of the year sections.

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

For a reminder of the top films in 2011/12 (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 2013 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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

Penguin and Random House are merging! This is a direct result of pressure on the book publishing trade from retail discounts especially Amazon. The new company will be Penguin Random House. The SF implications may well be favourable. Penguin holds the rights to some SF/F classics but has been notably weak on new SF/F in recent years. Conversely Random House has Arrow, BBC Books (Dr Who etc.) and Lucas (Star Wars) Books.

Harper Collins celebrated the 75th anniversary of Tolkien's The Hobbit with a 'second breakfast'. This took place on 22nd September (2012) shortly after we posted last season's news, by the Thames in Fulham, London. The 22nd September is also Bilbo and Frodo Baggins official birthday (which begs the question of whether, like the Queen, they have a 2nd [unofficial] birthday?). Aside from ticket holders, children who were competition winners attended for freshly baked bread, butter and mountains of bacon. Lord of the Rings actor Andy Serkis was there to read from The Hobbit in a Gollum voice and urged the kids to read the book before watching the forthcoming films.

Quercus to the US. British publisher Quercus, which includes SFF imprint Jo Fletcher Books, is to open a New York office in the Autumn (2013). Random House Publisher Services will handle all print and e-book distribution in N. America.

Random House marks The Clockwork Orange's 50th anniversary with an iPad app (£9.99). Not only does it include the novel but a dictionary of Clockwork Orange lingo as well as audio and visual extras. Penguin is publishing the e-book and William Heinemann the hardback; all this is to do with how the rights for the novel's original (1962) release were allocated.

World Book Night will be 23rd April (2013) shortly after we post this season's news page. The BBC will once again be the UK media partner for the event. Last year saw a total of 500,000 copies of 25 book titles given away. This year's World Book Night in Britain sees an SF graphic novel included with Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges which is also reviewed here. In the US there will be an SF title with Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

The top SF/F authors 1998-2012 in terms of British Isles print book sales, out of the top 50 list of all authors' (including non-SF/F), are:-
1. J. K. Rowling who has sold over this period 31,200,000 print copies with a retail vaue of £237,600,000 (easily beating cookery writer Jaimie Oliver in 2nd place with 10.1 million copies with a retail value of £93.5m).
4. Terry Pratchett with 12,700,000 print copies sold with a retail value of £93.5m.
13. Stephanie Meyer (US) with 9.7m copies retail value at £56.9m.
16. J. R. R. Tolkien with 5.4m copies (£50.9m).
21. Stephen King 6.2m (£45m)
28. Philip Pulman 5.8m copies (£37.5m).

Fictionwise and allied Fictionwise.com, eReader.com and eBookwise.com are to close. Barnes & Noble acquired Fictionwise, Inc. in March, 2009. Over the past few years there has been a significant decrease in demand for many of the eBook formats that Fictionwise.com sells. In contrast, the new industry standard eBook format supported by Barnes & Noble – ePub – has been growing in popularity. Consequently Barnes & Noble is closing its Fictionwise group. British-based customers will cease to have access to their Fictionwise Bookshelf through the site after 31st January , 2013. N. Americans have lost theirs already on 21st December. Fictionwise customers were notified of this and UK and US customers have been given an opportunity to move their customer accounts, including their eBooks purchased at the Fictionwise websites, to a Barnes & Noble NOOK Library.

Parliamentary Select Report into British libraries reveals Government disowning of the decline in nation's libraries. The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport (all-party) Select Committee report, Library Closures, noted that the current situation with the Secretary of State having considerable reserve powers but is unwilling use them satisfies no one. Also that the Public Libraries (Inquiries Procedure) Rules 1992 were virtually unworkable and so adversarial that they hindered, rather than helped, to solve the underlying problem. Now, SF2 Concatenation has previously reported on the English library spend on new books is 'embarrassingly low and that some libraries are now closing as well as the overall threat to libraries. The Select Committee notes that the Government plans to review the situation at the end of 2014. However commentators have opined that not only will this be too late for some libraries but that as 2015 will likely be a general election year so any Governmental report will likely be shelved in the pre-election hiatus. All this is more than a little worrying especially as the Select Committee observed that some local Council plans actually fail to comply with their legal requirement to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service! But the Select Committee did not name them.

European bookshops are struggling. The problem is not just confined to the British Isles (as as previously reported a number of times). Germany which has not been the hardest hit by the recession saw bookshop sales down 1.4% to €9.6 billion in 2011 and an even bigger decline is expected when the 2012 figures are released.   Scandinavia (including Finland) has seen a 2011 bookshop sales decline of 4.3%. Sweden's two largest bookshop chains – Akademibokhandein and Bokia – are to merge subject to passing Governmental competition rules. This follows the merger of Norli and Libris in the Spring of 2011. Meanwhile Denmark did have 381 bookshops in 2006 but only 336 in 2011.   The Netherlands saw bookshop sales down 10% in the first half of 2012 alone to €287m and this is before the forthcoming Dutch Amazon book-site opening (Ouch!).   France saw bookshop sales down just 2% in the first 6 months of 2012 but VAT on book sales has just this month (January 2013) increased from 5.5% to 7%.   Italy's largest bookshop chain, Feltimelli with 106 shops, managed flat sales in 2011 but a decline of 5.4% in the first half of 2012.  Spain's sales declined by 4.1% in 2011 to€2.78bn and around 10% IN 2012.   Greece saw hardly any book reprints in 2012 and only half the usual number of new titles.

Gollancz are to re-release Michael Moorcock's SF/F backlist and then, once a year between 2013 and 2015, the last three Elric novels: Daughter of Dreams, Destiny's Brother and Son of the Wolf. The backlist project was initiated by Malcolm Edwards who is also one of the Guest of Honours for the London hosted 2014 Worldcon.

Raymond Feist's Rift war cycle is being re-packaged by Harper Voyager with a new livery. Harper Voyager is now releasing the Rift War cycle in e-book format for the first time. The first novel in the sequence, The Magician (1982) has so far sold over a million copies in the British Isles. Magician's End will conclude the sequence in (hopefully May) 2013.

Orion's Gollancz's SF Gateway has reportedly had 27,000 unique visitors in the year since SF Gateway's launch. With e-book sales from SF Gateway generating around 5% of Orion's e-book revenue, Orion are now launching The Murder Room for its crime books. SF Gateway now has 2,500 titles from 144 authors and aims to reach 5,000. The best-selling print book from SF Gateway is Dune. +++ (Which prompts us to note that SF2 Concatenation may be missing a trick as 27k unique visitors represents just a couple of month's visitors to this site so perhaps we should investigate paid click-through promotional links. Having said though we have over 35,000 fiction review accesses each month, these are spread across many publishers, and only a fraction would likely result in sales for which we would get a small fraction of that. So even if we did have some link through advertising the revenue would be small compared to the effort of keeping it all going. Nonetheless it makes you think and perhaps Gateway might like to explore this option with other SF sites.)

Amazon and Google have been lambasted by the Chair of House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. Member of Parliament Margaret Hodge said that Amazon and Google's tax avoidance was 'outrageous' and was 'an insult to British business and individuals who pay their fair share'. This follows the tax scandal we reported last summer. As if Amazon using its market clout to force publishers to grant a bigger discount than bookshops usually get and so causing their high street demise was not enough, they rip off the tax payer. That they do have so much of a market share is a sad testimony to the average person's, as well as their own, greed. We hope our book-loving regulars either buy direct from book publishers or from high street bookshops: you may well regret it if/when the latter go…

More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in April 2013. 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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

TV NEWS

BBC Dr Who was the top SF/F show over Christmas (2012). Doctor Who this Christmas saw the Time Lord battle with nightmarish snowmen. It was the fifth most popular programme of Christmas Day in the British Isles with33.9% of the audience or 7.6 million viewers (down 1.3 million on the previous, year). The more popular items were not SF/F and in descending order of view figures were: the soaps EastEnders and Coronation Street; the competition Strictly Come Dancing; and the comedy The Royale Family.

Royal Mail issues 11 Doctor Who stamps. The stamps – all first class of course – feature each of the 11 BBC incarnations of the character (and so exclude Peter Cushing in the show's two cinematic outings). In addition to the face of each character, each has the show's logo as it was when the respective actor played the character.   But there are second class stamps too and these feature support characters such as the daleks and cybermen.

The top SF/F shows pirated in 2012 was Game of Thrones based on George R. R. Martin's novels. An individual episode of Game of Thrones itself was pirated at least 4.28 million times. Game of Thrones beat Dexter at second place and The Big Bang Theory at third. Then there were a couple of non-SFF shows pirated at fourth and fith place. The Walking Dead ranked sixth, with SFF offerings Fringe and Revolution coming ninth and tenth in the top ten shows most pirated according to Torrent Freak.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is coming to the BBC. Susanna Clarke's, Hugo Award-winning, fantasy novel's six-part adaptation is to be directed by Toby (Doctor Who & Sherlock) Haynes.

The Walking Dead gets a new season. Shooting has yet to start on this new 4th season.

 

[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

The 71st World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) LoneStarCon 3, has announced that the 2013 Hugo Award nomination period is now open. The Hugo Awards are for 'science fiction achievement' for the previous year (2012). Nominations can be made by members of the current (2013) as well as the preceding (2012) Worldcon, up to Sunday 10th March (2013). +++ If you want a reminder of some of the best SF offerings possibly worthy of Hugo nomination then check out our above best books and best films of 2012. +++ Membership rates for LoneStarCon 3 increased 1st January 1 (2013) .Full Adult Attending membership rates went up from US$180 to US$200. All of these membership rates will be valid through to 30th April (2013) after which, as usual, there will be further rises.

London 2014 Worldcon (Loncon 3) members will soon benefit from an important rule change which has been made for the Hugo Awards. Traditionally, members of each Worldcon were allowed to nominate for the Hugo Awards both for the year of the Worldcon itself and for the following year. Worldcon members now have the additional option of submitting nominations for the previous year as well. This means that all members of Loncon 3 (other than children or infants) will be able to nominate for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Hugo Awards. Please note however that membership in the current Worldcon is required to participate in the final round (following the nomination round) of voting for each year’s Hugo Awards. So members of Loncon 3 may nominate in 2013, but only members of LoneStarCon 3, the 2013 Worldcon, will receive the final ballot and be entitled to choose the winners. +++ And as previously mentioned, if you want a reminder of some of the best SF offerings possibly worthy of Hugo nomination then check out our above best books and best films of 2012.

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

For links to Worldcon bid websites check out the Worldcon bid page.

 

Meanwhile over in Europe…

Events leading up to and including the 2014 Eurocon bidding session at the 2012 Eurocon continue to generate discussion. SF2 Concatenation has itself been impugned as being biased both ways (which we take to mean as providing balanced coverage). It is all a bit complex and only of interest to those concerned with European SF Society affairs. We refer to it earlier in Editorial Matters.

The 2013 Eurocon will be in Kiev, Ukraine. Kiev has hosted a Eurocon before in 2006. The 2013 event will see an election for the European SF Society officers. It will also see the voting for the 2015 Eurocon.

The 2014 Eurocon will be in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. As previously reported it is called Shamrokon. As it will be the weekend following the 2014 Worldcon in London, it will provide an opportunity to unwind in a more intimate affair than the Worldcon shindig. The question remains as to which event (Dublin or London) will give the most profile to mainland European SF but whatever the case these two SF gatherings have the potential for synergy. Meanwhile as of Christmas (2012) the registration breakdown reveals that just under half so far registered are from the US, just over a quarter are from the host nation – the Republic of Ireland, just under a quarter from the rest of the British Isles and over a score from Croatia. Additional mainland Europeans are likely to register following this year's Eurocon in Kiev, additional Brits may well register following this year's natcon at Easter, and those bidding teams from nations hoping to win the vote for the 2016 Eurocon will also be attending as that vote will take place at the Dublin Eurocon. In short attendance currently looks like being fairly international so the question is whether the programme will have a Eurocon flavour? Well mainland Europe is not short of SF authors and also has a thriving quality film industry. The 2014 organisers have included mainland European author Ylva Spångberg as one of the GoHs who will certainly add to the mainland European dimension. Ylva is a translator who has translated into Swedish books by the following authors: Joe Abercrombie, Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, Leigh Brackett, Arthur C Clarke, Stephen Donaldson, David Eddings, Neil Gaiman, Robin Hobb, Brian Jacques, Robert Jordan, Stephen King, Andre Norton, Christopher Priest, Patrick Rothfuss, Joanna Russ, Clifford D Simak, Tad Williams, and Roger Zelazny.  +++ Now in case you are wondering why anyone from English speaking nations, that have an established history of SF production, would be interested in SF from non-English speaking nations? Then the best answer might be to consider it this way. Imagine instead of SF from foreign lands you are in a spacecraft approaching and Earthlike world with a civilisation, what would its SF be like? This is part of the Eurocon attraction: discovering strange new worlds of SF, new cultures and treading boldly where you have never trod before. Well, something like that. (You can check out current Eurocon details and weblinks on our diary webpage.)

The 2015 Eurocon site will be voted on at the 2013 Kiev Eurocon. At the moment there is only one bid, St Petersburg, Russia, though there may be other bids on the day. The St Petersburg community has just sadly lost one of Russia SF grandmasters and so we in the West have just lost an opportunity to meet him should St Petersburg win the bid. Of course there are other Russian authors whose works have appeared in the West and, who knows, grandmaster Sergei (Nightwatch) Lukyanenko and the comparatively new author Dmitry (Metro 2033) Glukhovsky among others may well be attending. If St Petersburg does win then its trick following the 2008 Moscow Eurocon (and following the 1985 Riga, then USSR, Eurocon but which may not have taken place) will be to ensure that the programme properly integrates eastern Europe with west with panel members from both sides of the continent, as well as programme items by western contributors promoted to eastern attendees and vice versa.

The 2016 Eurocon site will be voted on at the 2014 Dublin Eurocon. At the moment there is only one bid, Antwerp, Belgium, though there may well be other bids on the day. Belgium last hosted a Eurocon in 1978, so we are overdue for a BeNeLux Eurocon.

At the moment there are two markers put down for the 2017 Eurocon though there could well be even more bids by the 2015 voting session for 2017 assuming both the current markers keep going. Currently the markers are for Helsinki, Finland, and Dortmund/Germany,. The Finns last ran a Eurocon in 2003 and the Germans (again in Dortmund) in 1999. Both these Eurocons had good European-wide programme items and both countries currently have sound conrunning teams. So in one sense it is sad that these two countries are going up against each other. In another sense it could make for a spicy site bidding session and vote. Maybe one could defer for a year and if so it would arguably have to be Finland as German Dortcons are only held every other year and also because Finland more recently hosted a Eurocon. Anyway, there is plenty of time to sort this out.

Links to current/forthcoming 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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

Hispacon XXX-Imagicon II, organized by the Spanish Association for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (AEFCFT), was held at Urnieta (Gipuzkoa) in October. Javier Negrete, Juan Miguel Aguilera, Susana Vallejo and Alejo Cuervo were the main guests. The former two gave a well attended and enthusiastically received programme item on the comparison between historical and SF novels. The convention had more than 300 attending. This represented a substantial increase on the usual numbers and was due to a number of newspapers and magazines running articles in anticipation of the event before it took place not to mention on TV. Highlights included a music concert by Duendelirium and the presence of the Iron Throne thanks to Spanish TV Canal+. The convention saw the presentation of the Ignotus Awards. Elsewhere this edition Sue Burke has a standalone review of Hispacon.

Festival of Fantastic Films 2012. Elsewhere this edition Darrell Buxton has a standalone review of the Fest.

Russia's 2013 Aelita convention will be the 30th. It is Russia's longest running extant series of conventions that is held in the middle of Russia in Ekaterinburg (or Yekaterinburg) by the Ural Mountains on the border between European Russia and Asian Russia. Over the years its guests have not been restricted to Russian and former Soviet nation writers but western European ones too. The convention also sees the presentation of a number of awards. The 2013 event could well be one that many serious Russian SF fans will attend as it will be a landmark in Russia's fan history.

The 22nd International Festival of Fantasy and Role Playing Games, Zilantkon, was held in Kazan. This year there were 1,322 which with day registrants meant the number was roughly the same as last year. In total, there were around 250 programme items. These included 60 musical items (bands and solo artists of filk as well as other musical genres), 3 plays, 4 themed fancy dress balls (and these are more balls than western fancy dress parades) as well as choreographed duel fencing, archery, themed workshop classes, talks, round tables and readings. The Fest's GoH was Sergei Pereslegin who will be known to this site's eagle-eyed regulars as the twice winner of Russia's Bronze Snail Awards. he took part in four programme items: two lectures entitled 'The new format of thinking' and "The New Scholasticism," as well as giving a master class in "strategic role-playing games" and actually taking part in a strategic game. In addition to the main parallel programme streams there was also a kiddiecon stream for youngsters. The convention also interacted with 5 orphanages and 200 children. The Committee for Children and Youth Affairs of the Executive Committee of Kazan, Kazan Aviastroitelny district, Board of Education, Health and the Office of Internal Affairs of the city of Kazan supported the convention. There was media coverage by the TV channel KZN Star and the newspaper All-In… And of course the Big Zilant Award was presented.

London SF marks 75th anniversary. The December (2012) monthly meeting of the London SF Circle was just three days shy of the 75th anniversary of the date when SF writers and fans first met up at the Lyons tea rooms on 9th December 1937. As the oldest at the December Circle meeting space launch consultant Gerry Webb was asked to give a toast. He said that back in 1980 that he had hoped that he would be skiing on Mars by now. As for a toast, he called on all assembled to look forward to the 100th anniversary.

Happy birthday to the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Or congratulations to the BSFS on its 50th anniversary. The occasion was marked with a celebratory gathering on 5th January (2013) just before we posted this seasons news.

New Zealand's Sir Julius Vogel Award nominations are now open. The Sir Julius Vogel sub-committee of SFFANZ is currently accepting nominations for science fiction and fantasy works first published or released in the 2012 calendar year by New Zealanders (presumably this applies to ex-pat NZers which is why their press release went international). Nominations are open up to 31st March 2013. To make a nomination please email sjv_awards [at] sffanz.org.nz. Anyone can make a nomination and it is free of charge. Send one nomination per email and include the title and author of the work, as well as contact details for both the nominee and yourself. You can find full details about the nomination procedure and rules, including eligibility criteria, at www.sffanz.org.nz/sjv/sjvAwardsNominationGuidelines.shtml.

I-CON 32 cancelled.. Originally scheduled for 21st – 23rd March (2013) at Hofstra University in Hempstead, the New York based convention has been cancelled due to the aftermath of hurricane Sandy. Any funds collected for member registrations or dealers will be refunded as quickly as possible. ICON is attended by over 6,000 people each year and designed to encourage literacy, creativity and interest in science and technology through science fiction and its related genres: so its very much an Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation sort of thing.

P-Con cancelled..The Irish literary SF convention, P-Con, has had to cancel its 2013 iteration due to the ill health of its principal organiser Pádraig Ó Méalóid. It will hopefully return in 2014. Meanwhile we send Pádraig our best wishes for full recuperation.

Sci-Fi London 12 film fest has announced it will be on 27th April - 6th May 2013.

The 2013 Odyssey SF/fantasy/horror Writers Workshop will be held from 10th June to 19th July at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA. The long established Odyssey is a great opportunity for writers to improve their work and receive feedback from top authors and editors. Odyssey is for developing writers whose work is approaching publication quality and for published writers who want to improve their work. The six-week workshop combines advanced lectures, exercises, extensive writing, and in-depth feedback on student manuscripts. Jeanne Cavelos will be the primary instructor. She is an author and a former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing, where she won the World Fantasy Award for her work. This year's application deadline is 31st January 2013. The 2013 Writer-in-Residence will be Nancy Holder. She is an award-winning,New York Times bestselling author of adult, young adult, middle grade, and early reader work, both fiction and nonfiction. She has sold approximately 80 novels and 200 short stories. Tuition is US$1,920, and housing is US$790 for a double room in a campus apartment and US$1,580 for a single room. Full details at www.odysseyworkshop.org.

The Acon 2013 science fiction convention will be a great place for English speakers to meet Scandinavian fans, a well known author, and to holiday. This year's Acon (or to be correct Åcon) will be on 9th -12th May (2013 and (as always) held on the island of Åland in the Baltic midway between Sweden and the coastal stretch from Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It is a small affair but there is – as you might expect – attendance from a number of countries and they usually seem to have an interesting author GoH. This year it is Tricia Sullivan. The size is capped at 100 members (but we have been asked to give this a puff so we hope we do not increase applications to attend to above a hundred as we would hate to cause disappointment for those failing to register in time). Membership is 25 €. Details at http://acon6.wordpress.com. We previously reported on Acon 5, and earlier still reports include on Åcon 2 science fiction convention.

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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

NET WATCH

YouTube disables most-used search filters. In December (2012) YouTube disabled its four most-used facilities for doing searches: by popularity ('view counts' and 'average rating'), 'relevance' and 'upload date'. This means that if you key in, for example, 'steampunk' you cannot filter searches in order of recent posting, or in order of decreasing view count (a mark of popularity). You can still filter for time in a limited way by day, week or month. This makes searches for, say, 'Worldcon' useful to view videos posted within a day, week or month of a Worldcon, but if you want anything older than a month then you simply get all the Worldcon tagged videos across all the years (and these include videos unrelated to the 'SF' Worldcon. Furthermore, popular terms, like 'sci fi', sees thousands of postings a week and so not being able to filter by 'view count' means that you end up having to wade through literally hundreds of pages of search results (hence many thousands of video titles) to see the popular ones likely to be of most interest.
          YouTube themselves say that searches using 'view count' and time ('upload date') have historically been its most popular search filters and there are many grumbles online that this disabling renders YouTube useless for disseminating new material. (It is still fine if you know the exact title of what it is your are seeking to view.)
          However all is not lost. Google Chrome has a 'Video Sorter for YouTube' that restores these search functions. That's nice of them isn't it. Isn't it?
          Google owns YouTube, having bought it in November 2006 for £1 billion (US$1.65)… (You may now be beginning to suspect where this story is going…) YouTube is popular: in January 2012, YouTube stated that four billion videos were being streamed per day. Google's problem is how to monetorise a free-access site to open-access material. However YouTube does have access to a BIG market. Google Chrome (privacy settings notwithstanding) has the ability to hoover up details from user's IP addresses and indeed there have been some (past) concerns on-line that Google Chrome might be collecting passwords, bank details. With the new 'Video Sorter for YouTube' Google Chrome presumably can pass on what YouTube videos you have been watching. Valuable intel for those with a commercial interest in videos be it because the videos are about product or are product-related (such as film trailers) themselves. If this is so and you are happy for your activities to be used commercially then this is not a problem. Conversely it is a big brother mechanism and has even has bigger-than-personal social implications if, for example, politically sensitive video material is involved. Time to blow the dust off of 1984.

British government indifferent to internet development and IPv6. The internet started using an addressing scheme called IP Version 4 (IPv4). As the internet was being started in the 1970s w the 4.3 billion IP addresses allowed by IPv4 were thought to be enough. But, the net's rapid growth has exhausted this pool and led to the creation of IPv6 which has an effectively limitless store of addresses: Europe effectively ran out of IPv4 addresses in September (2012). And so 6UK was set up to advise Internet Service Providers and firms about the move from version 4 to 6. Although the British government has given a small grant (just £20,000 (US$32,000) to get 6UK going in 2010 to, there has been no substantive since. Importantly, nothing had been done to change official procurement rules to mandate the new protocol which would have had a significant effect on adoption. Conversely the US has facilitated adoption by mandating IPv6 compliance in contracts to force suppliers to work with it. It is the one critical factor that makes a difference to a nation's adoption. But 6UK has now been wound up after its board realised its work was futile without governmental backing. Governmental lack of involvement with IPv6 is at odds with its enthusiasm for other digital initiatives such as Tech City.

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

Computer viruses are frequent in medical equipment. Out-dated computer systems are to blame for the vulnerabilities. One US hospital is said to be deleting viruses from up to two machines a week. The warnings were given as part of a panel discussion in Washington DC, as reported by Technology Review from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Medical devices could even end up being part of botnets - large networks of hijacked computers that are often used to send out spam email. The clinical concern is that virus infection could impede, slow or otherwise affect the equipment's proper operation. The problem is likely to affect other countries too.

 

[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

Half missing baryons found?. X-ray satellite data has revealed a halo of baryons (neutrons, electrons etc.) around the Galaxy extending as far as 100 parsecs (326 light years). And this could account for half or more of the missing baryons (but not half dark matter (and of course not dark energy)). (Astrophys. J. Lett., 2012, 756, L8.).

Artificial muscle created. It consists of yarns spun from carbon nanotubes and soaked in paraffin wax can lift 200 times the weight that biological muscles the same size can carry (Science, 2012, 338, 928-932). As importantly, it is cheap. This is of course a major breakthrough for the development of android bodies among other things.

Quantum physics becomes even weirder with entanglement. Two separate teams have found that entangling a photon it is possible to delay the collapsing of the quantum state and so explore both its wave-like and particle-like properties (Science, 2012, 338, 634-63, and I>Science, 2012, 338, 637-640).

 

[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

First private spaceship supply run to the International Space station. The Californian firm Space X launched its first mission on 7th October to re-supply the space station. One of the nine rocket engines failed but the Dragon spacecraft successfully reached orbit. Good job too as Howard (Fruit Loops) Wallowitz is currently onboard.

Planet found with four suns!. The planet orbits one pair of stars which have in turn a second stellar pair revolving around them. The planet, located just under 5,000 light-years away, has been named PH1 after the Planet Hunters site, and is a gas giant slightly larger than Neptune (or more than six times the radius of the Earth). There are currently known six other planets around double stars, and they are all pretty close to those stars. Now we know that if this pair of stars has such a relatively close planet then it still remains in a stable orbit if that pair of stars has distantly orbiting it another pair of stars.

Wandering planet found between stars. Astronomers have discovered the closest and most convincing known example of a planet wandering through space without a parent star. Some have been found since the 1990s, but because no one knew their ages, researchers could not determine whether the objects were truly planets or were heavier, star-like brown dwarfs (not smaller planet-sized). But Philippe Delorme of the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics in Grenoble, France, and colleagues say that the newfound body, CFBDSIR2149, is the first orphan that seems to be associated with a stream of young stars, the AB Doradus moving group, of known age – between 50 million and 120 million years – and is 4-7 times heavier than Jupiter.

Habitable-zone super-Earth candidate has been found in a six-planet system around the K2.5V dwarf star HD 40307 some 42 light years away. Not only is it likely to be capable of having liquid water but its distance from its star means that it is not likely to suffer from tidal locking. In terms of comparing with the Solar system, in absolute distance terms this planet is closer to its star at just 0.65 AU (1 AU being the distance from Earth to the Sun). However in terms of proportion of the habitable zone and distance from its star, it is proportionally a little further out than is our Earth. This planet has the mass of 7 Earths.

Mercury's water ice at its north pole finally proven. It has finally shown what has been postulated for decades: the planet Mercury holds billions of tonnes of water ice at its north pole. A report in Science shows evidence from the Messenger spacecraft that craters in constant shadow host water.

 

[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

NATURAL SCIENCE

Parkinson protein found. Virginia Lee and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania (US) have injected a synthetic abnormal form of alpha-synuclein into the mouse striatum, a brain region to which the neurons that die in Parkinson's project. The injected protein clumped forming Lewy bodies, a signature of Parkinson's disease. Neurons then began to die, and neurons that link up with those near the injection site also developed Lewy bodies, indicating cell-to-cell transmission of alpha-synuclein. Six months after the injection, the animals' motor coordination, strength and balance had deteriorated — all are Parkinson symptoms. Antibodies against alpha-synuclein could stop or slow down the spread of the disease (Science, 2012, 338, 949–953).

Preparations for the post-human society has already begun due to demographics! The British Academy and other bodies have produced a joint report Human Enhancement and the Future of Work. The human population is ageing and so the new demographics mean we will have to work longer before we retire. This means both the need and commercial opportunities for things like cognitive enhancement and physical preservation technologies will come to the fore. But what of the ethics? Will society become divided? Among the report's conclusions is that cognition-enhancing drugs present the greatest immediate challenge for regulators and other policy-makers. They are already available without prescription through internet purchasing, are relatively cheap and are increasingly being used by healthy individuals. These might therefore be a high priority for continued attention.

First stone age tools now 71,000 years not 40,000 years. The discovery not only significantly pushes back the date of human tool use but adds credence to the notion that modern human behaviour began when anatomical modern humans arose 200,000 years ago. The current rival theory is that subsequent to anatomically similar humans rising there was a further gene mutation allowing for modern human behaviour (tool use). (Nature, 2012, 491, 531-2 and 491, 590-593).

Ash tree die-back may kill all of Britain's 90 million ash trees. The pandemic is due to the importing of the fungus Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus.

True Polar wander detected. Paul Doubrovine and colleagues from Oslo University have determined a new reference frame based on mantle hotspots. Using this they have determined that the Earth's continents en masse seem to be drifting westward by 0.2 degrees every million years irrespective of additional plate tectonic driven continental drift. The Earth is experiencing true Polar wander in which the crust is spinning slightly differently to the inner Earth. (J. Geophys. Res. dx.doi.org/10.1029/2011JB009072 (2012)).

 

[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

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.

 

Hellhole Awakening by Kevin Anderson and Brian Herbert, Simon & Schuster, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-847-37427-1.

Zero Point by Neal Asher, Tor, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-330-52452-0.
The second part of the 'Owner' series and the action moves from Earth to Mars. Neal Asher is the author of The Departure, The Gabble and The Cowl among other books.

Halo: Silentium by Greg Bear, Pan MacMillan, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-230-75832-2.
The third book in Halo's Forerunner trilogy.

Black Heart by Holly Black, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09681-3.

Bedlam by Christopher Brookmyre, Orbit, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50213-7.
This is established-writer Brookmyre's first venture into SF. Apparently it concerns someone trapped in a video game. It is billed as humorous SF loosely in the vein of Hitch-Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy. So no pressure on the author then…

The Shape Stealer by Lee Carroll, Bantam, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06629-4.
Set in the 21st century this is the final in the Black Swan trilogy.

The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16744-1.
This is this novel's first British Isles release. The Earth's population is just a billion and stuck at the bottom of a gravity well…

Queen of Nowhere by Jaine Fenn, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09699-8.
Part of the 'Hidden Empire' sequence that previously included Principles of Angels.

Seoul Survivors by Naomi Foyle, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87598-9.
The end of the world is imminent but it just maybe that a bioengineer may be able to save it… Billed as a cyber thriller, this is a debut novel.

The Great North Road by Peter Hamilton, Pan, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-330-52177-2.
Click on the title link to see the full review. This is the paperback release of last year's hardback. A body is recovered from the river with strange but distinctive knife wounds – signature of an unexplained but probably alien attach in St Lucia twenty years before. Trouble is, nobody believes the aliens exist…

Empty Space by M. John Harrison, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09632-5.
'Literary' space opera (with emphasis on the 'literary') from the author of Nova Swing which won the Arthur C. Clarke (SF) Award.

Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13054-8.
A police inspector hunts a terrorist amidst the secret service and revolutionaries of an alternate Russia.

Doughnut by Tom Holt, Orbit, £7.99. pbk. ISBN 978-1-841-49940-6.

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87165-3.
The Sadiri once were the lead civilization in the Galaxy but now they are dying out and their home world is uninhabitable…

Planesrunner by Ian McDonald, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-750-87665-8.
Everett's father has been kidnapped and to find him Everett needs to follow a mysterious app, the infundibulum, that maps the multiverse… (Now science & SF Concateneers may wonder about the protagonist's name and novel's trope, Everett, and the multiverse. We did.) If you have been following Ian's writing career he began in 1989 with the wonderfully written Desolation Road, the 1990s saw a fallow period but come the millennium he bounced back with titles that included the Hugo nominated River of Gods and Brasyl. Latterly he has been with Gollancz but it now looks like when editor Jo Fletcher moved to Quercus he moved with her.

Intrusion by Ken MacLeod, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49940-6.
Hard SF from the author of Cosmonaut Keep, The Restoration Game and The Stone Canal.

The Disestablishment of Paradise by Phillip Mann, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. 978-0-575-13262-7.
On the planet Paradise something is very wrong. The farmers crops are not growing and life is becoming very hard… This is an ecological SF thriller.

The Many Coloured Land by Julian May, Pan MacMillan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-44-722386-3
In the 22nd Century, a group of misfits and mavericks are preparing to leave behind everything they have known. Advanced technology has created a one-way time portal to Earth’s Pliocene Era – six million years ago. Those seeking a better life are drawn to the promise of a simple utopia, far from the civilised Galactic Mileu. But no one could have predicted the dangers on the other side…. This is a reprint of the first novel in the 'Saga of the Pliocene Exile' first published in the early 1980s. Also released this month are other titles in the series including: The Adversary, The Golden Torc and The Nonborn King.

Ganymede by Cherie Priest, Pan Macmillan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-447-22556-0.
Josephine Early, New Orleans brothel owner and Union spy, has a mission. And it might just end the Civil War. She must deliver Ganymede, an astonishing prototype submarine, to the North. But the giant war machine is at the bottom of a lake, no one has safely piloted it and she must sneak its huge bulk past enemy forces.

Railsea by China Mielville, Pan, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-447-21367-7.
Click on the title link for a stand-alone review. This is the paperback release of last year's hardback. Literary science fantasy. Recommended.

The Curve of the Earth by Simon Morden, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50182-6.

Vurt by Jeff Noon, Pan MacMillan, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-76880-2.
Take a trip in a stranger's head. Travel rainshot streets with a gang of hip malcontents, hooked on the most powerful drug you can imagine. Yet Vurt feathers are not for the weak. As the mysterious Game Cat says, ‘Be careful, be very careful’. But Scribble isn't listening. He has to find his lost love. His journey is a mission to find Curious Yellow, the ultimate, perhaps even mythical Vurt feather. As the most powerful narcotic of all, Scribble must be prepared to leave his current reality behind. 'Literary; SF and Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award (which is an indicator as to whether you will like this or not.

Demi Monde: Summer by Rod Rees, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-849-16505-1
Now even though this is the third in the series, it is only the third in the series and is very well worth checking out. It is set in a virtual world populated by artificial intelligences that think they are the toughest leaders from Earth's history. This virtual world is actually a training ground for the military but is so realistic that trauma's and unofficial leaving of the virtual realm in an uncontrolled way can lead to death. So it was bad new when the President's daughter was kidnapped inside this world… This is a delightful short series of books that works on a number of levels: the SF, the thriller element, the steampunk, and the wonderful pun-like names given things in the virtual world. This first one Demi Monde: Winter only came out in 2011 and so is easily available. Apparently this has done reasonably well, given Rod Rees is a new author, but the surprise is that it has not had the greater level of interest in genre circles we might have expected. Do check out the on-line reviews for the earlier Demi Monde books. If this is anything like the earlier ones then this is firmly recommended.

Adam Roberts: Short Stories by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13034-0.
We think this is probably Robert's first collection of shorts. He is, of course, the author of numerous books including: Splinter, Stone and the Clarke (SF) Award shortlisted Gradisil. Given the author's prolific and varied output this collection may well be worth checking out.

Triggers by Robert Sawyer, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISB 978-0-575-12960-3.
Click on the title link for the review. This is the paperback release of last year's hardback. Hard SF. A hospital's experimental equipment generates a field that causes pairs of people's minds to be linked. As one of the is the US President there are national security issues at stake.

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-50020-8.
It is 1894 and on a remote island Juliet's father vivisects animals using the parts to re-assemble them in human form with the capability of speech. By now you wil have realised that this is a re-working of The Island of Dr Moreau and indeed it is, and is the first in a series re-working SF classics. Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll to follow.

The Age of Scorpio by Gavin G. Smith, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 987-0-575-09475-8.
A deep space salvage job goes very wrong… Gavin Smith is known for his first two, hard SF, high testosterone and hard hitting action books Veteran and War in Heaven.

Crysis 3 by Gavin G. Smith, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 987-0-575-11570-5.
A selection of short stories that relate to the Crysis computer game. As Gavin has written military SF he should be the man for the job and, who knows, this might be quite interesting even if you aren't into gaming?

The Explorer by James Smythe, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-007-4567-5.
A journalist is chosen to accompany the first deep space mission. All well and good but when he and the crew emerge from hibernation they find that despite all the safety features (supposedly fool proof) the Captain is dead. It looks like murder….!

The Testimony by James Smythe, Blue Door, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-46772-3.
A thriller with an SFnal riff as the world is on the brink of disaster…

The Dark Judges by John Wagner et al, 2000AD, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-78108045-0.
This is a small format (so the artwork is reduced in size) graphic novel of the classic Judge Death stories from the early Judge Dredd comic strip (so it is in black and white). These stories are classic early Dredd. Though the reduced size is not the best, the cheap price makes it ideal for newcomers to get a taste of the old Dredd and for those who need to get a rounded collection without too much expense. This title is also going to be part of this year's World Book Night. Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.

The Ten Seconders by Rob Williams, Mark Harrison, Dom Reardon, Shaun Thomas & Ben Oliver, 2000AD, trdpbk . ISBN 978-1-781-08066-5.
Full colour graphic novel. In the near future humanity has all but been destroyed by powerful alien invaders who now rule via a human puppet, right wing government. Those who rebel and confront the invaders are called 'ten seconders' because that is their short life expectancy against such odd. Good artwork and a solid SFnal basis for the story.

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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

Countess Dracula by Guy Adams, Hammer, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-099-55386-1.
A new novelisation of the Hammer film. (i.e. not the Michael Parry 1971 one.)

The Secret of the Nagas by Amish, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-710-87404-3.
This is the second in the series that imagines Shiva's life in ancient India.

The Twyning by Terence Baker, Head of Zeus, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-781-85070-1.
This is Watership Down but with rats.

The Diviners by Libby Bray, Atom, pbk,£7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-57482-8.
This is a juvenile fantasy but it also has some adult appeal. A supernatural tale set in the 1920s jazz era in New York.

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-007-27619-6.
Humanity is fighting back in the third episode of the Demon Cycle.

Bloodfire Quest by Terry Brooks, Orbit, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49978-9.
This is the second in the New Shannara series. The final one is due out in the summer.

Hunger by Melvin Burgess, Hammer, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-099-57664-8.
Beth wakes up one morning covered in mud. This is a little strange but she puts it down to the most logical likely explanation that she has been sleepwalking…. Until, that is, she hears the news that a local grave has been desecrated.

The City of Silk and Steel by Mike Carey, Linda Carey, and Louise Carey, Gollancz, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13265-8.

Dreams and Shadows by Robert Cargill, Gollancz, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13009-8.
Whiskey swilling genies and foul-mouthed wizard argue the state of the state in this twisted, modern fairy tale that is reportedly in the vein of American Gods.

London Falling by Paul Cornell, Tor, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-090037-8.
An SF/F thriller. A criminal suspect is murdered in custody. Investigation suggests that something odd is going on that a supernatural something is involved that can bend space and time and even alter people's memories…

Empire of Saviours by A. J. Dalton, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-12314-4.
Traditional fantasy.

Gateway of Saviours by A. J. Dalton, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-12318-2.
Follow-up to the above.

The Iron King: Yhe Accursed Kings by Maurice Druon, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-007-49125-4.
Now listen up fantasy fans. George R. R. Martin apparently says that though not strictly fantasy that this "was the original Game of Thrones and, indeed, he provides the forward to this book. This novel is based on the life of the French King Philip the Fair (1285-1314) and features much intrigue, the occasional murder and some sex… So you can see that it is 'Games of Throney'.

World's End by Will Elliott, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-857-38143-9.
Conclusion of the Pendulum trilogy.

A Crown Imperilled by Raymond E. Feist, Voyager, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-007-26483-4.
The penultimate in the Rift War cycle. See news of Rift War cycle being re-printed and so now is the time for fantasy book readers who may have missed it the chance to catch up with this popular work.

Exodus of Xandim by Maggie Furey, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07663-1.
This is a prequel to the Aurian series and so a fine time for new readers to jump in.

Malice by John Gwynne, Tor, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-75845-2.
A debut novel that is traditional sword and sorcery.

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway, Windmill, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-83809-7.
Mechanical bees are in the mix along the way in the quest for human perfection.

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09659-2.
Part of the 'True Blood' sequence with Sookie Stackhouse murder mystery with vampires.

Irenicon by Aiden Harte, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-38899-5.
Epic medieval fantasy in Game of Thrones territory.

The Warring States by Aidan Harte, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978—0-857-38901-5.
Book two of the Ware trilogy.

Ash by James Herbert, Pan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-230-07669-5.
Ash holidays in a Scottish retreat. Quiet? Not for long.

Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-007-44413-7.
This is the final in the 'Rain Wind Chronicles'.

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, Orbit, hrdbk, £25. 978-1-841-49872-0.
This is the much awaited conclusion to the 'Wheel of Time' sequence. Robert Jordon sadly died at the end of 2007 with this novel far from complete. Brandon Sanderson took on the task of reading the entire sequence, going through the beginnings of the MS and the notes that Jordan left so that this final novel of the sequence could see light of day.

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-11529-3.
A girl has been missing for 20 years. Suddenly she turns up again but has hardly changed despite the intervening years.

Time Untime by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Piatkus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-749-95772-8.

Fade to Black by Francis Knight, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50166-6.
Corruption and dark magic abound in this debut novel.

Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz, Harper, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-007-32703-4.
Odd Thomas can see the dead. Not a gift you really seek…

Odd Apocalypse by Dean Koontz, Harper, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-3270-7.
An Odd Thomas Tale.

The Armageddon Rag by George R. R. Martin, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-12955-9.
This early (Game of Thrones) Martin has been a long, long time in coming to the British Isles. Gollancz are doing quite a bit to bring Martin's backlist to the British Isles including this one.

Jokers Wild edited by George R. R. Martin, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13415-7.
This has been out of print in Britain for quite a while.

A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow by George R. R. Martin, Voyager, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-007-48384-6.
This release is tied in to the new Sky TV series.

The Quickening by Julie Myerson, Hammer, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-099-58023-2.
A newly wed couple are expecting a baby… Well if they new they were the protagonists in a fantasy novel then they might not be so happy about it…

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley, Head of Zeus, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-908-80037-4.
A person wakes in a park without memory but has a note which says 'the body you are wearing used to be mine'. Time to call in the secret organisation that protects Britain from the supernatural rum and uncanny… This is a fantasy debut.

The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice, Arrow, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-57482-8.
And this time it is vampires.

The Sky Bound Sea by Sam Sykes, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. 978-0-575-09037-8. Concludes the sword and sorcery Aeon's Gate trilogy.

Grandville Bête Noir by Bryan Talbot, Cape, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-22409624-9.
Graphic novel from one of the 2014 London Worldcon's Guest of Honours. This is the third in the Granville steampunk detective series.

The Silver Bough by Lisa Tuttle, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87441-8.
A modern, urban fantasy fairy tale. (By the way, good news for Tuttle's readers as her entire backlist has been bought by Jo Fletcher books.)

Lover at Last by J. R. Ward, Piatkus, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-749-95916-6.
Edgy, erotic vampire romance that is loosely in the vein of Charlaine Harris.

Ice and Fire by David Wingrove, Corvus, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-848-887729-0.
This is a new edition reprint of the 4th in the 20 volume Chung Kuo series.

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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

What a Plant Knows by Daniel Chamovitz, OneWorld, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-851-68970-5.
A fascinating look at plants' senses.

Climate Change: Biological and Human Aspects by Jonathan Cowie, Cambridge University Press, trdpbk, £34.99 / Australia$80.95 / US$69.99. ISBN 978-1-107-60356-1.
This is the completely updated and expanded 2013 edition of the 2007 textbook that was one of the UN Environment Programme's recommended climate change titles for the UN's World Environment Day in 2008 (which, that year, had the theme of 'climate change'). This book speaks across disciplines and so explains: past climate change as revealed by the geological record to biologists, the ecology of climate change to geographers, energy resources and climate change to social scientists, human impacts of climate change to climatologists, and all at a New Scientist or Scientific American level. Reviews of the first edition can be found here.   Special Offer: SF2 Concatenation regulars can obtain a 20% discount on this title from Cambridge University Press   http://www.cambridge.org/COWIE13   but only up to 31st March 2013.

Wonder of Life by Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen, Collins, hrdbk, £25. ISBN 978-0-007-45267-1.
This accompanies the new BBC series.

Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton, Penguin, pbk, £9.99. ISBN978-0-141-04631-0.
Using the World's religions to find our place.

Turing's Cathedral by George Dyson, Penguin, pbk, £9.99. 978-0-141-01590-3.
The story behind computers.

Losing the Head of Philip K. Dick by David Duffy, OneWorld, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-851-68920-0.
An exploration of androids, and one in particular: one with a head modelled on Philip K. Dick's and which got lost…

Chaotic Fishponds and Mirror Universes by Richard Elwes, Quercus, pbk, £8.99. ISNB 978-1-780-87160-8.
An exploration of the maths that underpins our lives.

Extremes: Life, Death and the Limits of the Human Body by Kevin Fong, Hodder, hrdbk, £20. 978-1-444-73774-5>,?P>

Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked us by Michael Moss, W. H. Allen, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-753-54145-6.
One of the world's unsung scandals explored. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease… all arising out of corporate greed. A must read for anyone who eats from a Pulitzer prize-winning writer who blows the lid on the likes of Craft, Coca Cola and Nestle.

Are We Being Watched? The Search for Life in the Cosmos by Paul Murdin, Thames & Hudson, hrdbk, £16.95. ISB 978-0-500-1671-3.

Are You Smart Enough to work at Google? by William Poundstone, OneWorld, pbk, £8.99. ISBM 978-1-851-68955-2.
Puzzles and enigmatic questions often posed at job interviews by high-powered employers.

The Universe Within: A Scientific Adventure by Neil Shubin, Allen Lane, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-846-14220-8.
The story of the Big Bang to the present.

The Cosmic Gallery: The Most Beautiful Images of the Universe by Giles Sparrow, Quercus, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-780-87811-9.

The Future: 50 Ideas You Really Need To Know by Richard Watson, Quercus, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBV 978-1-780-87159-2.
What will the world be like in 100 years time? Cyber war, quantum computing and digital democracy?

Brian now has autographed copies of -- Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide by Jonathan Cowie & Tony Chester, Porcupine Books, 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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Doctor Who: Shada by Douglas Adams & Gareth Roberts, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90328-8.
This is the paperback version of the never-aired-on-television due to a strike in 1979, the uncompleted six-part adventure 'Shada' that traces the chase to recover a powerful book, 'The Artifacts of Gallifrey', stolen from retired timelord Professor Chronotis.

New Vampire Cinema by Dan Gelder, Palgrave, trdpbk, £55. ISBN 978-1-844-57441-4.
40 modern vampire film classics from 1992.

TV Horror: Investigates the Darker Side of the Small Screen by Lorna Jowett & Stacey Abbott, I B Taurus, hrdbk, £56. ISBN 978-1-848-85617-2.

Cold Equations: the Body Electric (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by David Mack, Star Trek, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-451-65074-7.

Scoundrels: Star Wars by Timothy Zahn, Lucas Books, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-345-51150-8.

 

[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

SELECTED FORTHCOMING DVD RELEASES

Android Insurrection £9.70 DVD from Halcyon International.
A super computer in a military complex gets ideas above its station – think Skynet from Terminator. A small elite force is sent in to deal with it but the computer has more control and intelligence than they thought… This is really a bad B-movie and should only be viewed if you are in the mood for such an offering. (Sometimes one is but note that this really is a bad B-movie.)

Alien Dawn £9.99 DVD from Halcyon International.
Basically a cross between War of the Worlds and Skyline. Alien tripod invasion nicking humans for processing.

Continuum - Season 1 £9.99 DVD from Universal Pictures UK.
This is a 3 disc set of the Canadian TV series of all ten episodes from the first season. Whilst attempting to stop eight terrorists, known as Liber8, from escaping execution, Vancouver law enforcement officer Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) finds herself transported from the year 2077 to 2012. In her attempts to track down the terrorists and prevent them from changing the future, Keira joins the present day Vancouver Police Department, enlisting the help of 17-year-old tech geek Alec Sadler (Erik Knudsen) and local officer Carlos Fonnegra (Victor Webster).

Crawlspace £11.99 DVD from Revolver Entertainment.
An Australian film from the people who did Wolf Creek. Crawlspace sees an underground military complex have some sort of accident and thengets sealed off. A team are sent in to investigate… This had potential and there are some reasonably good effects, but it is all rather clichéd. Good for a boring weekend but probably best wait a few months for the price to come down.

Doctor Who: The Legacy Collection (Shada/More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS) £13.99 DVD from the BBC.
A double helping in a 3 disc set from the Doctor Who archives. Never aired on television due to a strike in 1979, the uncompleted six-part adventure 'Shada' (written by one Douglas Adams) traces the chase to recover a powerful book, 'The Artifacts of Gallifrey', stolen from retired timelord Professor Chronotis (Denis Carey). Skagra (Christopher Neame) is the evil despot responsible for this foul jiggery-pokery. Original footage from this episode was used as the Fourth Doctor's involvement in 'The Five Doctors', before it was reassembled, with an older and portlier Tom Baker narrating the missing gaps. Also included is the BBC-produced documentary More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS, a compilation of clips spanning the first thirty years of the Doctor, including some previously unseen footage, plus interviews with the many stars, writers, producers and designers.

Dredd £13.00 Blu Ray 3D + Blu Ray / £9.99 DVD from Entertainment in Video.
The latest (2nd) film adaptation of the Brit SF comic 2000AD lead character Judge Dredd. Other than the judges' uniforms as well as the Mega City One cityscape being more muted than the 2000AD original portrayal, this is a far better representation of Dredd's character and (broader physical view aside) the general ambience of Mega City One than the 1995 Stallone film. Recommended.

Looper £13.00 DVD from Entertainment One.
In the present a killer dispatches victims sent from the future by organised crime. Then one victim turns out to be his future self… Stars Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels. Great SFnal action thriller.

Love £6.00 DVD from High Fliers Films.
After losing contact with Earth, astronaut Lee Miller becomes stranded in orbit alone aboard an international space station. As time passes, and his life support systems start to dwindle, Lee has to battle to maintain his sanity and stay alive. His world becomes a lonely, claustrophobic and dangerous existence, until he makes a strange discovery aboard the ship… An interesting offering worth checking out.

War Games £8.00 Blu Ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The Blu Ray release of the 1983 juvenile SF film in which a teenager stumbles online to a military war game operation and accidentally triggers alarms that suggest that a real world war is imminent. Though aimed for a younger audience this has some appeal for adults. Though the film seems a little dated, it was quite advanced considering it was made well over a decade before the internet began to be recognised and significantly used by the public. As such this is one of those offerings that illustrates what Carl Sagan called science fiction's dance with science.See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in 2013, 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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

R.I.P.

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

Gerry Anderson, the British TV sci fi grandmaster, has died aged 83. Gerry inspired a generation of SF fans with his television series. Many of these were puppet series as you could feature space craft, giant machines, futuristic devices and so forth without impossibly expensive special effects that real life (life-sized) actors would have necessitated. Even so, such was the increasing attention to detail that his puppets and models got more expensive with each new show, so that in the end his final series were as often as not using real live actors!
          The reason he captured the minds of a generation in The British Isles was that his first series were for the very young aged 3-4 years old The Adventures of Twizzle. It concerned a toy doll that came to life and could stretch his arms' length and each episode cost £450 (US$1,000 in money of the day) back in 1957. In 1958 there was Torchy The Battery Boy concerned a boy whose torch enabled him to travel along its light. Then there was the fantasy western Four Feather Falls (1960) but it was Supercar (1961) – concerning a prototype flying submarine car – that set Gerry on an SFnal path (with just a couple of exceptions) through to the end of his career was seen by kids mainly 4 – 6 years of age. Fireball XL5 (1962) saw the adventures of a space patrol appealed to those aged 5 - 8, Stingray (1964) about a super-submarine appealed to those aged 7 – 9. Then came the series that firmly established Gerry in the public's mind with Thunderbirds (1965) whose principal audience was 8 – 10 years old but – being longer at 40 minutes an episode and not 25 minutes) also some fathers. After this there was Captain Scarlet (1968) about a future military agent made indestructible following a human expedition to Mars accidentally attacked the Mysterons city. The same year there was Joe 90 about a boy agent who used brain recordings to gain expert knowledge (becoming a surgeon or a pilot). In 1969 there was The Secret Service about a vicar who could miniaturise his gardener as they also worked as secret agents. (This starred the famous speech comedian Stanley Unwin both as live action (full sized) and voice/puppet.) The huge popularity of the various series was demonstrated with the launch of the comic TV21 in January 1965 and which over the subsequent years had strips of many of his SF series brought together in a loose 21st century timeline/world. The first issue's circulation was 630,000 copies! The comic continued with Gerry's involvement until September1969 (and for a while after with others influencing its development).
          The high point of Gerry's SFnal career was arguably the 1970 live action series (mixing live actors with models of craft) U.F.O about a secret military organization defending Earth from aliens who were harvesting human organs. Though the series is now a little dated it is still very watchable. The series enhanced its two seasons with a number of story arcs (such as the recruitment and promotion of a key character into the organization, its commander's marriage to divorce, as well as political rivalry episodes). U.F.O was to be further developed but the necessary big budget required Los Angeles (US) television finance and the SFnally ignorant executives demanded casting and premise changes. This resulted in the eye-candy Space 1999 (1975) about which less the said the better despite the SF charm Gerry brought. One more puppet series (a different take on Martian hostiles) and a live action (future cop) series later effectively saw Gerry through to retirement. Yet Gerry's career saw a generation carried along from one series to a slightly more sophisticated next series for a couple of decades. Speak to any Brit currently (2013) aged in their mid-to-late 50s and they will remember Thunderbirds among other of his series with fondness. Sadly no channel today would sequence evolving TV series over that length of time, but if they did they too would foster a generation.   +++ See a Gerry Anderson video obituary here.
          Gerry Anderson was a Guest of Honour at the 1995 Eurocon/Worldcon. The 50th anniversary of Supercar was marked with Anderson series' postage stamps.
          F.A.B. Gerry.

Janet Berliner-Gluckman, the S. African born US author, has died aged 73. She is the co-author of an alternate history trilogy as well as compiling anthologies with David Copperfield. Her first novel was Rite of the Dragon (1980).

Charles Chilton, the UK author and radio producer, has died aged 95. He is arguably best known for his writing and producing the landmark 1950s BBC radio series Journey into Space the first three storylines of which he also novelised.

Barry Commoner, US ecologist and Presidential candidate, has died aged 95. He spoke out against nuclear testing and pollution. He was a key figurte behind the UN's first Earth Day in 1970, and was a US presidential candidate (unsuccessful) in 1980.

Pam Fremon, the US fan, has died. She was a member of the New England SF Association and served a number of terms as its clerk.

David Grove, the US artist, has died aged 72. He worked on many SF/fantasy book covers as well as some film posters including Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Jane Gunn, the wife of US author James Gunn, has died. She worked as support staff at the Northwestern University.

Jacques Goimard, the French anthologist, SF essayist, critic and honorary editor, has died aged 78. For much of his career he was a university lecturer of genre fiction at universities in Paris. He is the author of several essays on SF and fantasy and some 250 articles in magazines from the mainstream Le Monde to genre publications such as Metal Hurlant (the now loosely connected US version of which is Heavy Metal). He also worked on genre anthologies including La Grande Anthologie de la Science-Fiction [The Great Anthology of Science Fiction] with Gérard Klein and Demetre Ioakimidis (from 1974) and La Grande Anthologie du Fantastique [The Great Anthology of Fantasy] with Stragliati Roland (1977-1982). From 1978 to 1982, he edited the annual [The Year of the Science Fiction and Fantasy]. He also was the honorary editor of Pocket's SF and fantasy books where he saw over 800 titles come into print.

Farish Jenkins, the US palaeontologist, dies aged 72. He is best known among the public for discovering in 2006 Tiktaalik roseae a four-legged fish-like creature that represents one of the vertebrate transition species between marine and terrestrial animal life.

Alberto Lisiero, the Italian comics writer, fan and conrunner, has died aged 48.

Dave Locke, the US fan, has died aged 68. He was active in the Science Fiction Poetry Association in the 1960s and '70s. He also produced a number of fanzines including Awry (1972-6) and Time and Again (1985-6).

Krsto Mazuranic, the Croatian fan, has died. He was a conrunner and editor of the semi-prozine Futura.

Sir Patrick Moore OBE, the British astronomer, has died aged 89. He is best known for his monthly 55 year long BBC TV series The Sky at Night broadcast the first Sunday of each month and which introduced generations to the wonders of astronomy. He was the author of over 100 astronomy books but also a sore of juvenile SF novels in the 1950s – '70s starting with The Masters of the Moon (1952) and included the 'Maurice Gray' series set on Mars as well as the 'Scott Saunders' sequence. He concatenated his interest in science and SF with Can You Speak Venusian (1972) about fictional science such as the flat Earth and hollow Earth theories as well as a spoof steampunk written in a non-fiction style about Victorian space-going efforts entitled How Britain Won the Space Race with Desmond Leslie (1982). Away from science and SF, he had an individual take on politics. He also played the xylophone and composed music for that instrument. Patrick also held what some might say were eccentric (others might say sane) political views. He was fiercely supportive of a Britain independent of European politics, and for a while was the finance minister for the Monster Raving Loony Party, of whom he said, "They had an advantage over all the other parties in that they knew they were loonies." In 2009 Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, said of Patrick Moore: "Astronomy has grown in leaps and bounds and it's people like Patrick who have been able to put it into perspective so that ordinary people understand the enormity of the universe." To our knowledge Patrick only attended one major SF convention and that was the Albacon British Eastercon in Glasgow (1980). His enthusiasm for astronomy was infectious and very many will hope that The Sky at Night programme will continue. A star has just gone out in our universe.

Kevin O’Donnell, the US science fiction writer, has died aged 62. He served on a number of SFWA committees and in 2005 received the Service to SFWA Award.

Archie Roy, the Scottish astronomy professor and SF author, has died aged 88. His novels tended to explore the theme of alternate worlds and parallel universes beginning with Deadlight 1968.

Vanessa Schnatmeier, the US fan, has died aged 58. She was active in the Los Angeles SF Society.

Boris Strugatsky, the Russian SF grandmaster, has died aged 79. Boris was the older of the Strugatsky brothers (Arkady died in 1991). Probably their best known works, not least because they are often published together, are Skazka o Troike [The Tale of Troika] (1968) and Piknik na Obochine [Roadside Picnic] (1969), both being nominated for the John W Campbell Memorial Award (though not winning). The first is a sequel to Ponedel’nik Nachinaetsia v Subbotu [Monday Begins on Saturday] (1965), which uses folk tale and magic motifs to explore the division between science and society; the sequel continues this theme, lampooning the administrative bureaucracy of their country. While Roadside Picnic combines new wave with hard SF when aliens, briefly stopping off on Earth, leave behind the detritus of their interstellar roadside picnic. Unfortunately the ‘rubbish’ contains items that: fascinate humans, are potentially useful, as well as the downright dangerous. This was adapted by the brothers as Tarkovsky’s film Stalker (1979), though with major changes. Despite severe censorship the Strugatskis managed to slip many subversive meanings into their works and, before perestroika, even managed to visit the UK-hosted 1987 World SF Convention (Worldcon), where they were warmly welcomed (with their KGB minders separated in the bar). A number of their works took a sideways swipe at the Soviet communist system and regime. As such they did not have the approval of the authorities but, in no small part due to their fame in Eastern Europe, escaped harsh penalties. Following Arkady's death Boris wrote two further SF novels that have not yet (hint Gollancz) been published in Britain but which contained veiled criticisms of the Putin regime. Boris also corresponded with political prisoners and recently demanded the release of jailed feminist punk band Pussy Riot and of protesters arrested on the eve of Putin's inauguration in May 2012. Nonetheless such was his standing that reportedly the Kremlin has said that Putin offered his condolences to Boris' relatives calling him 'a real intellectual authority for many generations'. Recent years also saw Boris encourage new SF authors that he considered worthy of support with the Bronze Snail Awards. Of note to science fact and science fiction Concateneers, young Boris applied to the physics department at Leningrad State University, but studied astronomy instead and subsequently worked in Russia's main astronomical observatory in Pulkovo before the Strugatsky brothers began their writing career full-time. In recent years he had heart problems and a week or so before his death a complication with pneumonia. Needless to say he is hugely respected by fans in former Soviet nations and his translated works appreciated by aficionados in the West.

 

[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

Will technology destroy human civilisation?. This is not just nanotechnology grey goo but things like artificial intelligence. Now Cambridge researchers are to assess whether technology could end up destroying human civilisation. The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER at http://cser.org  ) will study dangers posed by biotechnology, artificial life, nanotechnology and climate change. So, what of a 'Terminator style SkyNet takeover? The scientists said that to dismiss concerns of a potential robot uprising would be 'dangerous'. "It seems a reasonable prediction that some time in this or the next century intelligence will escape from the constraints of biology," one of the researchers opined. The group includes former president of the Royal Society professor Martin Rees and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn.

Scientists make first fiction film in Antarctic. Usually the British Antarctic Survey team in winter, when the continent is locked in darkness and freezing conditions, indulge in hobbies to help while away their free time. Now, one of them, Kirk Watson, has filmed South of Sanity a murder thriller and Matt Edwards, a London-based clinician, wrote the script. Filming in the Antarctic winter meant overcoming all sorts of problems. "Our actors suffered a bit in the cold as we had people sitting outside for ages, or playing dead people lying in the snow. It became a bit tricky with the 'dead people' as they shivered, so they were carefully edited to get rid of the movement."   It is now being marketed by a US film-maker and has been rated 18 by the British Board of Film Classification. The film will get its premiere in Aviemore on 31 October (20-13).

British Government says it is going to get tough upholding citizens' data protection rights. We should not need Orwell's 1984 to remind us of the importance of individual data protection. The first Data Protection Act (ironically entering the statutes in 1984) was meant to protect our rights but they have been flaunted by commerce who hoover up our names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail address, credit records, with impunity. Sometimes this data is wrong and this can disadvantage citizens, but often firms do not release the data they hold on us. Now, last summer and again in the autumn, the British government has threatened to legislate if businesses do not voluntarily release data gathered on customers who ask to see it. Further, there is a Midata initiative for firms to provide details to the public in a 'machine-readable' format and make the process easier. If firms do not voluntary sign up to the scheme the Government has threatened secondary legislation that could come into force in 2014. Having said that, there are concerns that easy access for citizens in a standard format of data might also mean increased availability of people's personal data to other business. Of course the best way to avoid spam and cold calls is not to put your e-mail address or phone number (or at least the genuine one) on any form. The post-1984 world isn't half complicated.

Russian chemist, Olga Zelina, is accused of aiding drug trafficking. A narcotics expert at the Penza Agricultural Institute is facing trial and also has now been accused of having produced a report on the amount of opiates in seized Sopanish poppy seeds without permission of her Institute despite, allegedly, the report bearing the signature of the Institute's director, Alexander Smirnov..

Leo Szilard, physicist and SF author, is still highly valued. In news taken from Ansible a December auction in Los Angeles, a Szilard-signed letter about the 'sensational new development' of nuclear fission went for $240,000, while autographed letters from Karl Marx, Ludwig von Beethoven and George Washington raised only $114,000 (£71,200) to $132,000 (£82,500) apiece.

The End of the World wasn't. Thousands of people gathered on 21st December 2012 (21.12.2012) at ancient sites in Central America and elsewhere in anticipation of what they believed was to be the end of the world. The date was – some believed despite Mayan experts saying the contrary – the end of the world as it was the end of the 'long count' calendar of the Mayan civilisation. Hundreds of spiritualists gathered in the city of Merida in Mexico, about an hour-and-a-half from the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. In Guatemala, thousands congregated on the Mayan ruins of Tikal in the jungles. Meanwhile in France (well known for its Mayan connections (not)) some went to the mountain of Bugarach only to outnumbered by waiting journalists. And in China, where arrests were made, police in Beijing posted an online notice telling people that 'the so-called end of the world is a rumour'.

Well that is 2012 done and dusted. 2012 was the 40th anniversary of the last man on the Moon with Apollo 17 in 1972 discovering orange soil in Shorty crater that was high in zinc and glass beads: it was thought to have formed in volcanic vents. The mission returned 110kg of rock to Earth.   2012 was also the 50th anniversary of The Clockwork Orange (see earlier), Brian Aldiss' Hothouse and J. G. Ballard's The Drowned World.  It was also the 50th anniversary of the first US astronaut (John Glen) to orbit the Earth.   The 50th anniversary of the tape cassette .   And the 60th anniversary of the Urey-Miller experiment that created the biochemical precursors of life from an inorganic mix.

Welcome to the rest of 2013 which is the 50th anniversary of Clifford D. Simak's (US) duel – Hugo and Nebula – award-winning Way Station (overdue for a British reprint), Kurt Vonnegut's (US) Cat's Cradle and Walter Tevis' (US) The Man Who Fell to Earth, not to mention the films The Birds (US), La Jetée (France) and Children of the Damned (Britain). Of course for us, one of the big anniversaries will also be a 50th but for the still on-going SF series Dr Who (Britain) for which the Beeb Beeb Ceeb are planning a celebration… Let the year roll on.

 

 

[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Spring 2013

End Bits

More science and SF news will be summarised in our Summer 2013 upload in April
plus there will also be 'forthcoming' Summer book releases and loads of stand-alone reviews.

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes among others to: Lise Andreasen, Arnor Behrend, Petra Bulic, Sue Burke, Angel Carralero, Boris Dolingo, Pierre Gevart, Gareth Kavanagh, Marcin 'Alqua' Klak, Carolina Gomez Lagerlof, Carl-Eddy Skovgaard, Tero Ykspetäjä, and not least the very many representatives of SF groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk who sent in news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page.   Your book review team for the past year was: David Allkins, Mark Bilsborough, Tony Chester, Jonathan Cowie, Jamie Faulkner, Susan Griffiths, Ian Hunter, Duncan Lunan and Pete Tyers. Articles and stand-alone convention reports the past year were written by: Darrell Buxton, Tony Chester, Ian Hunter, Peter Tyers, Jim Walker and June Young.   Posting, site embedding, registration and stuff the past year was done by: Alan Boakes, Jonathan Cowie and Dan Heidel with sponsorship liaison by Boris Sidyuk.   Finally there was sponsored stationery by Tony Bailey.   If you feel that your news, or national level SF news that interests you, should be here then you need to let us know (as we cannot report what we are not told). :-)

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Summer 2013 period – needs to be in before end March 2013. 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.

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


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