Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Spring 2014

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 2014

STAFF MATTERS EDITORIAL COMMENT

Further to last time's editorial comment on fandom's need to take fans' personal data security issues more seriously, author Charles Stross has posted an article building on the reports coming out of Russia suggest that some Chinese domestic appliances, notably kettles, come kitted out with malware – in the shape of small embedded computers that leech off the mains power to the device. The covert computational passenger hunts for unsecured wifi networks, connects to them, and joins a spam and malware pushing botnet. Charles runs with this idea to frightening and disturbingly plausible places. Conventions do need to realise that some folk will not join Facebook to access their convention's news, nor will they necessarily fill out their details and remember yet another password on a convention's portal site, etc., etc. Some folk do irrationally fear many aspects of the internet. Others – especially those who have been burned through an ID theft incident or whatever – rationally fear many aspects of the internet. Conventions and fan organizations do need to recognise the need to create multiple ways for communication (be it for publicity, registration or programming) and not restrict themselves to just one or two be it Live Journal or whatever. This is all the more true in a time where we are meant to be supporting diversity.

STAFF MATTERS

Yes, we are now on Twitter @SF2Concat. Now, though Twitter is not for everyone (which we firmly respect – see the above item) Twitter does have many adherents. Though as a site we currently attract some 16,000 unique visitors a month downloading well over 100,000 pages at the moment we only have just over a score of Twitter followers.  This is despite our having a few thousand more unique visitors the months we have a major upload compared to those in which we have made no changes whatsoever. Given we have this four-figure surge in unique visitors the months of one of our big seasonal uploads, this does suggest that we have a reasonable dedicated following in addition to pass-through background traffic. Why this has not resulted in a greater Twitter following is as yet unclear (it has only been a couple of months since we opened our Twitter account). It could be that because our big uploads have for several years now been mid-January, mid-April and mid-September means that our regulars simply know just when to check in on us. (Indeed our figures do surge the anticipated week of a new upload irrespective of those few occasions when we post a little late!) Or it might simply be that we do not Tweet much. Our plans are to send clusters of Tweets at these upload times with one for each major seasonal page posted (just three or four Tweets) and one each for the most notable three or four reviews so that followers can re-Tweet just the ones that they find most interesting. Plus, for Twitter followers, we will post a few pages in advance before we index them on our What's New page. In between these seasonal clusters there will be just one Tweet when we post a new 'Futures' one-page short story.  If you do feel like Following us then great, and it would be appreciated if regulars could re-Tweet as appropriate for a year or so just to help spread the word.  Thank you. (We'll get the hang of this Twitter thing eventually.)

Sadly one of us (not one of the core half dozen) had a major health incident prior to Christmas. The good news is that in this case a good recovery is likely. (Alas this is not the case for another of us who became chronically ill a few years ago.) The unfortunate truth is that we are all getting older and, as many of us we approach retirement age, entropy is taking its toll. Our best wishes to our colleague for a speedy recovery. Meanwhile those of you going to the British Worldcon may want to make the most of those of us that will be there as the laws of thermodynamics dictate that there will be likely fewer of us the next time in the 2020s.

The autumn saw five of us at the Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester. The Tony Meadows vintage SF track was, as usual, simply brilliant.  For an additional treat, two of us went up a couple of days before for an evening meeting with the MaD (Manchester & District) SF group. The day before the Fest itself enabled time to enjoy Manchester including visits to the Century 21 club and Manchester's Sci-Fi bar. Great fun had by all. More on the Fest below here and Darrell has a stand-alone review here.

And then, one of us was summoned to the British Parliament's House of Commons Science & Technology Committee to discuss 'Horizon Scanning': the mechanisms by which policy makers are alerted to likely potential future issues of probable great socio-economic concern. If you like, this is almost a practical application of hard SF.

Speaking of which there's a 20% discount on Jonathan's new Climate Change: Biological and Human Apsects through to the end of February. The old (2007) first edition reviews are here and 2nd (2013) edition reviews here. Though the book is primarily a one-stop primer (it is big) for undergraduate biology, geography, geology, and even some social science students, it also provides a broad sweep context for specialists and is written at the advanced New Scientist reader level. The kind folk at Cambridge University Press have their 20% discount for British, N. American and Australisa readers at www.cambridge.org/climatechange2.

Finally, an appeal for your consideration. The SF Worldcon only comes to Britain/Europe roughly once a decade and is mainly held in N. America. Indeed, even when it is outside of N. America, Americans make up the largest single contingent.  Because this year the Worldcon is in Britain we tentatively wonder (for everyone including N. Americans) whether it might be an idea to focus on nominating European authors for the Hugo Award   And how about European fanzines?  Hugo nomination ballots came out in January (2014).

Meanwhile, roll on 2014.

 

 

Elsewhere this issue…
Aside from this seasonal news page, elsewhere this issue (vol 24 (1) Spring 2014) we have stand-alone convention reports on:-
          … the The 24th Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester
          … the Spain’s 2013 National Convention
          … the 2013 World Fantasy Convention
          … the 2013 World SF Convention
And additionally we have:-
          … thirty three (yes, 33!) new stand-alone fiction book reviews
          … and a sprinkling of non-fiction book reviews
See our What's New page for a full listing of articles and reviews recently posted.  Fantabulosa fremboids.

 

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 2014

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

This first subsection quickly links you to the major items of news.  For more detailed coverage go direct to the principal subsections that interest you (see the blue subsection index above as well as between each subsection).

SF/F news last season includes: Our selection of the best SF/F books of 2013 and the best films (with links to trailers you may want to check out).

SF/F Awards presented over the autumn (2013) included: Britain's Fantasy Awards,the Clarke Imagination Prize and Delta short film award, Canada's Aurora, France's Utopiales, Germany's Curt Sidiomak and SFCD awards, Hungary's Peter Zsoldos Award, Russia's Big Zilant and Spain's Ignotus.

Book news of the season – Includes : books to look out for in 2014; E-book growth declining, much Amazon news, the top genre people in British publishing of 2013; Orion is expanding SF Gateway; and there is a new author on the block.

Film news of the season – Includes: that of: the genre box office hits of the season; another Tolkien film court case; and Beetlejuice 2 planned.

Television news of the season – Includes: much Dr Who news; Walking Dead court case; and Shanarra may come to television.

News of SF and science personalities includes, among many in this section, that of: Chris Hadfield; Robin Hobb; Terry Pratchett and J. K. Rowling.

Last season's science news includes (among much else on the page below):   the UN IPCC 5th Climate Change report; China has a rover on the Moon, and an extra Solar high water asteroids have been detected.

News of last season's SF events includes that of: World FantasyCon.

Major forthcoming SF events include: the 2014 Worldcon in London, things to do while in London and the 2014 Eurocon.

Our short-video clip links section this season includes, among others, links to some forthcoming film trailers. See the section here.

Notable SF books due out over the Spring 2014 include: the paperback releases of James Corey's Abaddon's Gate and The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar, and new titles Willfull Child by Steven Erikson, The Hive by Alexander Maskill, Descent by Ken Macleod, and Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett.

Notable fantasy books due outover the Spring 2014 include: Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris and Unfinished Tales by J. R. Tolkien.

The Spring saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included: Scientists Ray Dolby, Malcolm Carpenter, John Cloudsley-Thompson and Fred Sanger; and SF personalities Gary Brandner, Frank Dietz, Doris Lessing, Al PastinoColin Wilson.

 

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 2014

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SF NEWS

The 2013 Nobel Prizes for science have been announced. The science category wins were:-
          Physics: François Englert (Belgium) and Peter W. Higgs (Great Britain) for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles (the Higgs Boson) and which was recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider.
          Chemistry: Robert Lefkowitz (Austrian working in France) and Michael Levitt (S. African working in the US) for the development of multi-scale models for complex chemical systems.
          Medicine: James E. Rothman (US), Randy W. Schekman (US) and Thomas C. Sudhof (Germany working in the US) for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells.
          See also last year's 2012 Nobel Prizes.

The 2013 IgNobel Awards have been announced and the awards presented at Harvard University (US). These are humorous science awards that – after pausing for initial consideration – make you think that they really do have a point. Among the category winners this year, the following caught our eye:-
          Joint Prize In Biology and Astronomy:: Marie Dacke, Emily Baird, Marcus Byrne, Clarke Scholtz and Eric J. Warrant, for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way in their study 'Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation' in Current Biology.
          Psychology Prize: Laurent Begue, Brad Bushman, Oulmann Zerhouni, Baptiste Subra, and Medhi Ourabah, for experimentally confirming that people who think they are drunk also think they are attractive in their study 'Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder': People Who Think They Are Drunk Also Think They Are Attractive' in the British Journal of Psychology
          Physics Prize:Alberto Minetti, Yuri Ivanenko, Germana Cappellini, Nadia Dominici and Francesco Lacquaniti, for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond – if those people and that pond were on the Moon. Their study 'Humans Running in Place on Water at Simulated Reduced Gravity' appeared in PLoS ONE
          Peace Prize: Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding!
          Last year's winners here.

The Wellcome Book Prize money is to increase. The prize is now in its fifth year and is given for the best book for the general public with a medical theme. Judged by a panel, it is being revamped and the prize money is going up £5,000 to £30,000.

Best SF/F books of 2013?. 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 and Glasgow SF Groups. 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 books of 2013:-
          MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood. An artificial plague has all but wiped out our humanity, but a small group survives along with the green-eyed Crakers: a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. A literary offering from an established sci-fi writer and past winner of the Clarke Award.
          Abaddon's Gate by James S. Corey. Wide-screen space opera part of 'the Expanse' sequence. Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.
          Parasite by Mira Grant. A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease. We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It has been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them. But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives... and will do anything to get them…
          The Adjacent by Christopher Priest. Science-fantasy in an alternate timeline, past and future, in which photographers, magicians and soldiers deal in mirrors, reflections, camouflage and deceit.
          The Demi-Monde Fall by Rod Rees. The final in the hugely imaginative quadrilogy concerning a super-computer whose simulated inhabitants are trying to take over the 'real' world… Steampunk, meets hard SF, meets literary fiction.
          On the Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds. Hard SF sequel to Blue Remembered Earth but can be read as a stand-alone. A caravan of asteroid-sized, near-generation starships has to work out how to slow down. Meanwhile on Earth a clone of one of the crew realises that there may be a super-AI on the loose that will kill to protect itself and that this may have something to do with the starships' destination...
          The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar, sees an alternate Earth's version of the 20th century complete with superheroes… A literary offering from a new writer (but an old hand on Europe's fantasy fan circuit).
On the firmly fantasy front there is:-
          The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. Time travel and serial killer mayhem. Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.
          London Falling by Paul Cornell. Set in London, the novel is a mash-up of crime fiction and the supernatural, with a dollop of football thrown in and, surprisingly, it seems to work.
          The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. A tale of memory, magic and survival from the master story-teller.
          The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland. It concerns circus freaks, such as a man called Abel who can peel his own skin off and show it growing back and a girl with lion-characteristics. A strangely beautiful work.
          NOS4R2 by Joe Hill. Horror. Victoria escapes Charlie Manx who takes children away to a place called Christmasland where they never grow up and lose their humanity.
+++ Last year's best books (2012) here.

Best Science Fiction (and Sci Fi) films (and movies) of 2013. 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 our, best of science fiction films 2013 selection, for everyone seeking a DVD for the weekend. The below listing is in alphabetical order:-
          The Colony. A Canadian near future SF horror. Humanity has stopped global warming but triggered a glacial. Forced underground by the ice age, a struggling outpost of survivors must fight to preserve humanity against a threat even more savage than nature when messages from another refuge cease.   See the trailer here.
          Dragon Day. This is a topical film given World events of the past few years… The global depression worsens and so an unemployed family opts for a rural self-sufficiency mode of life in the hills. However global events are not so easily escaped. Unable to payback its huge debt to China, that country launches a cyber-attack against the US with a view to a takeover. Every microchip 'Made in China' has been infected with a virus that rapidly shuts down all modern technology. The aftermath happens fast, and as the rule of law, water, and food run out, the family must use all their wits and the unlikely help of an illegal immigrant to survive this frighteningly realistic scenario.  See the trailer here.
          11 A.M.. In the not-so distant future, researchers at a have finally succeeded in inventing a time machine. Two take a test flight to the next day. They arrive at the planned time only to find out their isolated research base on the verge of collapse. All the researchers are gone and someone is out to kill them. They begin the tedious process of piecing together what happened. Korea has been producing some fine SF-horror and this is no exception.  See the trailer here.
          Elysium. Set in the year 2159, where the very wealthy live in a man-made space station (orbital) while the rest of population reside on a ruined Earth, a man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.  You can see the trailer here.
          Europa Report. An almost Kubrick-like hard-SF offering following a space mission to Jupiter's Europa. Presented in a flat, dead pan way may alienate some viewers but in its way it adds to the tension.  The director is Ecuadorian Sebastián Cordero and this is his first full English language film and first fully US production.  See the trailer here.
          Frankenstein's Army. SF horror, war film from the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. Toward the end of World War II, Russian soldiers pushing into eastern Germany stumble across a secret Nazi lab, one that has unearthed and begun experimenting with the journal of one Dr Frankenstein.  At the time of compiling this page there was no proper trailer for this. The best there is is this sideways-look of a trailer.
          Gravity. Present day (or recent past because the space shuttle is involved) hard SF/technothriller offering. A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space. The hard SF combined with stunning visual effects of the adventure in low-Earth orbit surely must make this a contender for the Hugo short-list?  (The zero-g effects are also very good and there is only one obvious deviation we could see from Newton's Laws of Motion which – for understandable suspense purposes – the director breaks all three laws at once.) One word of advice: Don't DVD this one; go and see it in the cinema and preferably 3-D IMAX.  See the trailer here.
          John Dies at the End. Science fantasy, comedy horror. A new street drug that sends its users across time and dimensions has one drawback: some people return as no longer human. Can two college dropouts save humankind from this silent, otherworldly invasion? Now this one had a number of Fest screenings in 2012 that were very favourable, but it only had a limited 2013 general release in the UK and US.  See the trailer here.
          Snowpiercer. SF that is somewhat Ballardian in this French and South Korean offering but with some western stars in the cast. It is set in a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet, a class system evolves aboard the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine.  Well worth checking out.  See the trailer here.
          The World's End. British SF comedy from the Shaun of the Dead team. Five friends reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier but unwittingly become humankind's only hope for survival… Huge fun.  See the trailer here.

Other 2013 cinematic releases of some note included (again in alphabetical order):-
          Best Friends Forever. In this indie, post-apocalyptic Thelma And Louise, two LA hipsters take a road trip across America, unaware of the mass destruction around them. Being low-budget, most of the apocalyptic elements come from inference, allowing the film to concentrate on the protagonists' relationship.  See the trailer here.
          Channeling. Given the new Google glasses this film is somewhat prescient with contact lens cameras. Being able to film what you see and then upload it to the internet has implications… A soldier, returns home on bereavement leave to discover that his brother’s death was not the accident it was reported. He has under two days to solve the mystery. Assuming his brother’s identity, he enters a world of voyeurism and exhibitionism that is as addictive as it is dangerous…  At the time of compiling this page there was no trailer other than this spin-off advert for the camera eye-lens which you can see trailer here.
          Dark by Noon. This is an Irish time travel offering that did well at a few film fest screenings in 2012 and 2013 but has yet to have a release that would make it eligible for the Hugo (not that that would make any difference as this is not a Hollywood movie). Set in an alternate 1993, Titus is a machine that can send a person eight hours into the future, but only for a short period. This has tremendous stock market potential… Rez leaps forward in time and witnesses a nuclear explosion. Back in his own timeline, he has only eight hours to discover the cause, save his estranged daughter and a city unaware it is about to be destroyed… No trailer at the time this page was compiled but do try to Google one.
          Ender's Game. Very loosely based on the Orson Scott Card Hugo and Nebula winning novel Ender's Game. However, it so departs from the novel that sequels will be unlikely. (Of a number of deviancies, there is no law preventing a third child and Ender does not have as many siblings as in the book, which means that the Orson Scott Card trilogy cannot (easily) be made.) One also feels that the actors are going through the motions purely because Hollywood is spending a shed-load of money. However, we have to include it simply because of the film's literary provenance. Don't let this film movie put you off reading the book and its sequels.  See the trailer here.
          Oblivion. Jack Harper is one of the last few drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack's mission is nearly complete. Living in and patrolling the skies from thousands of feet above, his existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows.  This film starts of well and mainatins a high standard until two thirds the way through when the excellent assemblage of tropes simply fail to mesh. This film appears to have been plotted by committee; even if it is one that has read a few SF novels it is not one of genre buffs who expect logic together with trope awareness.  You can see the trailer here.
          Star Trek: Into Darkness. After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction. This is the second J. J. Abrams, glossy, lens-flare-ridden offering. OK, it is full of plot holes and illogicalities, but fun for Trekies and even Trekkers. And here Abrams seems to have made more of an effort to get the characters closer to the Roddenberry originals. Great romp. Mind the flares. And as Spock might say, it is only logical to ignore the illogicalities.  See the trailer here.
          Vanishing Waves. A cinematically literate SF offering from Europe (Lithuania, Belgium and France) that may have escaped your radar. In it, a neuron-transfer scientist experiments with the thoughts of a comatose young woman trying to interface with her mind. Sensual, visual, romantic and intellectual.  See the trailer here.

The World Fantasy Awards were presented at the World Fantasy Con in Brighton, Britain. The various category wins were:-
          Novel: Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
          Novella: 'Let Maps to Others' by K. J. Parker
          Short Story: 'The Telling' by Gregory Norman Bossert
          Anthology: Postscripts No. 28/No. 29: Exotic Gothic 4 edited by Danel Olson
          Collection: Where Furnaces Burn by Joel Lane
          Artist: Vincent Chong
          Special Award – Professional: Lucia Graves for the translation of The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
          Special Award – Non-Professional: S.T. Joshi for Unutterable Horror: A History of Supernatural Fiction, Volumes 1 & 2
Note: this is the second year in a row that K. J. Parker has won 'Best Novella'.  +++ Last year's awards here.

The British Fantasy Awards have been presented by the British Fantasy Society at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton (Great Britain). The winners were:-
          Best Novel (Robert Holdstock Fantasy Award): Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce
          Best Novel (August Derleth Horror Award): Last Days by Adam Nevill
          Best Novella: The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine by John Llewellyn Probert
          Best Short Fiction: 'Shark! Shark!' by Ray Cluley
          Best Anthology: Magic: an Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane edited by Jonathan Oliver
          Best Collection: Remember Why You Fear Me by Robert Shearman
          Best Screenplay: The Cabin in the Woods by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
          Best Magazine/Periodical: Interzone edited by Andy Cox
          Best Comic/Graphic Novel: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
          Best Non-Fiction: Pornokitsch by Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin (ed.s)
          Best Independent Press: ChiZine Publications
          Best Newcomer: Helen Marshall, for Hair Side, Flesh Side
          Special Award (the Karl Edward Wagner Award) : Iain Banks a.k.a. Iain M. Banks
Note: this is the second year in a row that Adam Nevil has won 'Best Novel (horror)', the second time in a row Robert Shearman has won 'Best Collection' and Interzonefor Best Magazine. We are positively delighted that Iain Banks, best known for his SF in genre circles, has won a World Fantasy Award. All too tragic it could not have been granted to him while he could enjoy it.  The Karl Edward Wagner Award is given at the discretion of the British Fantasy Society (BSF) committee. The membership of the BFS vote to determine recommendations, short-lists and winners of the awards.  +++ Last year's awards here.

Russia's Big Zilant Award was presented at Zilantkon. Zilantkon is Russia's XXIII International Festival of Fantasy and Role-Playing Games which as usual was held in early November in Kazan; it is kind of like a sword and sorcery equivalent of the World Fantasycon only much bigger. This year's winner was Henry Lion Oldie for Urbi et Orbi, or City and the World. Eagle-eyed site regulars will remember that Henry Lion Oldie, received a Eurocon 'Best Author' Award in 2006, won an SF Days Award in 2009 (Ukraine), an Aelita Award in 2011 and a 2012 Roskon Award which in this latter case was also for his novel Urbi et Orbi, or City and the World. The Big Zilant is a juried award for outstanding Russian language fantasy. +++ Last year's Zilant winner is here.

The English Aurora Awards for Canadian Science Fiction were presented at Can-Con in Ottawa, Canada. (The Francophone winners were previously announced at the start of last summer in Montreal.) The principal category wins for the Anglophone Auroras were:-
          Best Novel: The Silvered by Tanya Huff
          Best Graphic Novel: Weregeek by Alina Pete
          Best Related Work: Blood and Water by Hayden Trenholm
          Best Artist: Erik Mohr
          Last year's English language Aurora winners here.

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 Garching, MucCon. The wins were:-
          Curt Siodomak - Film: Cloud Atlas
          Curt Siodomak - TV: Fringe - Grenzfälle des FBI [Fringe - Cross Files]
Last year's Siodmak awards here.
The Deutsche Science Fiction Preis DSFP (German SF Club Prize ):-
          Best Novel: Das Artefakt [The Artefact] by Andreas Brandhorst
The Artefact is a far future space opera I which humanity has had a 600-year war. Now it is ready to be admitted to the Galactic club of wise old species. However the appearance of a strange artefact threatens to inflame rivalries as species race to uncover its secrets.
          Best Story: 'Zur Feier Meines Todes' ['To Celebrate My Death'] by Michael Iwoleit
'To Celebrate My Death' is a story set in a future in which people are immortal. For any new birth somebody has to give way and die voluntarily. The story tells the biography of one scientist who has helped establish this system as he prepares for his own death.
          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 Deutsche Science Fiction Preis DSFP here.

Hungary's Peter Zsoldos Awards were presented at Hungarocon, which was held this year in Budapest.
          Best Novel: Book of the Programmer by Endre Balint
          Short Story: 'Míg mozgok, van vilag' ['Until I Move, There is a World'] by Sandor Szelesi
This is a juried award that carries some weight within the Hungarian SF community. Having said that -- and sincerely no disrespect meant to this year's winners -- apparently there is a little controversy with some writers boycotting the award as the jury's choices some view as a tad old-fashioned.  With regards to this year, it is noteworthy that this is the second time that the 'Best Novel' has gone to an e-book. This probably has more to do with Hungary having a small SF market compared to other countries such as Britain (whose authors can also sell to N. America and Australasia) and Russia (whose authors can sell to Russian-speaking former Soviet states, even the French have a second market in parts of Canada.  With regards to the 'Short Story' winner this is Sando Szelesi's seventh Peter Zsoldos award.

Hungary's SF year (2013) saw a new author, Judit Lorinczy, make a spectacular debut with Ingokovek [Balancing Stones]. It centres around the bloody Battle of Stalingrad but with strong fantasy element: It combines historical accuracy with surprising and original mystical elements.  There is a recent trend in Hungary that writers avoid English settings and names but use Hungarian ones instead. Two examples are Zoltan Laszlo's novel Egyszervolt [One Upon a Time] and Agnes Gaura's Vampirok muzsaja [Vampires' Muse]. In the former the protagonist is a fairy tale hero but with amnesia trying to get home. The latter concerns an employee of the Hungarian Vampire Research Institute who have been set up to advise the government and tackle vampires.  2013 also saw Trenka Csaba Gabor give us another of his alternative history novels with Palace Rimbaud in which France is the world's leading power.  Finally, there was Imre Bartok's A Patkany Eve [Year of the Rats], a weird post-apocalyptic science fiction horror novel in which three famous philosopher protagonists have gone mad: think Saw and Blob plus any Tarantino film.

Spain's 2013 Ignotus Awards were presented at the 2013 Hispacon. The Ignotus has been Spain's national SF Award since 1991 (equivalent to the British SF Awards) and is presented at Spain's annual national convention, Hispacon, sponsored by the Asociacion Española de Fantasía, Ciencia Ficcion y Terror [The Spanish Association of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror] and voted on by association members and convention attendees.The winners were:-
          Best Spanish Novel: El Mapa del Cielo [The Sky Map] by Felix J. Palma (the follow-up to The Map of Time)
          Best Spanish Novella: Osfront by Eduardo Vaquerizo, José Ramon Vazquez and Santiago Eximeno
          Best Spanish Short Story: 'Neo Tokio Blues' by José Ramon Vazquez
          Best Anthology: Terra Nova: Antologia de Ciencia Ficcion Contemporanea [Terra Nova: Anthology of Contemporary Science Fiction] edited by Mariano Villarreal and Luis Pestarini
          Best Non-Fiction (book): La Ciencia Ficcion de Isaac Asimov [The Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov] by Rodolfo Martinez
          Best Article: 'Ciencia-Ficcion en Español' ['Science Fiction in Spanish'] by Fernando Angel Moreno
          Best Illustration: Cover art for Terra Nova created by Angel Benito Gastanaga
          Best Audio-Visual Work: Los Verdhugos, a podcast by Miquel Codony, Elías Combarro, Josep María Oriol and Pedro Roman
          Best Comic: Espinas [Thorns] by Santiago Eximeno y Angel Manuel Sánchez Crespo
          Best Poetic Work: 'Quiero Comerme tu Mascara de Gas' ['I Want to Gobble Up Your Gas Mask'] by Santiago Eximeno
          Best Magazine: Delirio [Delirium
          Best Foreign Novel: LaCiudad y la Ciudad [The City & The City] by China Miéville
          Best Foreign Short Story: 'El zoo de papel' ['The Paper Menagerie'] by Ken Liu
          Best Website: La Tercera Fundación [The Third Foundation] (Asociación Los Conseguidores)
          And finally the short stories 'Remolinos de viento coloreado' ['Colored Whirlwinds'] by José David Espasandin Garciawon along with 'Articulo 45' by Aitor Solar Azcona won the The Domingo Santos Award for best unpublished short story, and judged by a jury.
(Domingo Santos is a well known Spanish SF author who also co-founded the magazine Nueva Dimensión [New Dimensions].) +++ Last year's Ignotus results can be found here.

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): Exodes [Exodus] by Jean-Marc Ligny
          Prix Utopiales Européen Jeunesse (Juvenile SF): Nox, Ici-Bas [Nox, Down Here] by Yves Grevet
          Prix Julia Verlanger: Le Protectorat de L'Ombrelle [The Protectorate Umbrella] by Gail Carriger
          Prix de la Meilleure Bande Dessinée de SF (Graphic Novel): Souvenirs de L'Empire de L'Atome [Reminiscences of the Atom Empire] by Alexander Clérisse and Thierry Smolderen
Cinéma
          Grand Prix du Jury: Jodorowsky's Dune directed by Frank Pavich (United States)
          Prix SYFY du Public: Jodorowsky's Dune directed by Frank Pavich (United States)
          Prix du Jury Courts (Shorts) Métrages: The Creator by Al & A (Great Britain)
          which tied with: Sleepworking by Gavin Williams (Great Britain)
          Prix du Public Courts (Shorts) Métrages: Orbit Ever After by Jamie Stone (United States)
+++ Last year's Utopiales winners can be found here.

The 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award for Impact of Imagination on Society has gone to Ursula K. Le Guin. It was presented by Shelley Streeby at the Clarion Writers’ Workshop at University of California San Diego.

The International Delta competition for best amateur short SF/F/H film has been judged. It took place at the 24th Festival of Fantastic Films. The winners were:
          Mecs Meufs (France) that tied with Foto (Italy)
          Mecs Meufs, directed by Liam Engle, explored gender attitudes in society by throwing them into sharp relief when the protagonist gets transported (via a pub toilet hand-dryer (very F.A.Q About Time Travel)) into a parallel universe where matters are reversed. The film was a very accomplished production that even managed to seamlessly include a song-and-dance routine.  Foto, directed by Ismael Ferrer, was a charming ultra-short offering that ticked all the boxes (photography, sound, concept etc). However, appealing as it was, compared to Mecs Meufs it was a one-trick pony. And so while the judges unanimously agreed that Mecs Meufs was the winner, the award co-ordinator, turning up half-way through the Delta session, declared that whatever was the result via the tick-box formula was what counted. Sadly the coordinator also took the films way with him immediately after the session and so the usual winner screening could not take place at the Fest's closing ceremony, and nor could the Fest as a whole judge!  However the Fest's core committee bravely stepped in and ruled that this year it would be a tie.  News of this year's Fest below.

The Odyssey Writing Workshop, a programme for fantasy, science fiction, and horror writers. The2014 workshop will be held from 9th June to 18th July at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, United States. Odyssey is a great opportunity for writers to improve their work and receive feedback from top authors and editors. More information can be found on odysseyworkshop.org.

 

[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 2014

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

J. J. Abram has apologised for his over-use of lens flare in Star Trek Into Darkness. Though he toned it down a little in Star Trek into Darkness, it was still way over-the-top for his earlier Star Trek reboot film. Indeed it was so much so that someone counted them up in a short YouTube video which we reported (and linked) on last season (autumn 2013). Which makes one wonder whether all the fan talk and this vid got to him, for Abrams has now revealed in an interview with Crave Online that this over-use of lens flare epiphany came during the making of Star Trek into Darkness. By then he had already over-egged that film with lens flare but at least production was still in the editing process. So he commissioned the special effects company, Industrial Light & Magic, to clean up as much lens flare as possible.  Who says fan power has no effect?

Iain Banks, will have the first mass market paperback edition of his last novel, The Quarry come out in March (2014) from Abacus at £7.99. It is not genre and so not included in our forthcoming books listings below, but we thought that some of you would want to know. +++ Since his death, Iain's British Isles backlist sales (via BookScan) were up 141% on the previous year. Iain was also Britain's biggest 'top UK news trending topic' on Twitter of 2013.

Mike Carey, is continuing to branch out from graphic novels into novels with The Girl With all the Gifts from Orbit. It is set in a post-apocalyptic Britain where many have succumbed to a pathogen. For science fact and science fiction concateneers, Mike got the idea from the wildlife television presenter David Attenborough when he was talking about the fungal pathogen Cordyceps. It infects insects and changes their behaviour. The Girl With all the Gifts is out the month we post this news page (January 2014).

Samuel R. Delany has been made by the SF Writers of America the 2013 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master for his contributions to the literature of Science Fiction and Fantasy. The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master is given by SFWA for 'lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy'. Samuel joins previous Grand Masters that include: Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. Le Guin, Connie Willis, and Gene Wolfe. The award will be presented at the 49th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend in San Jose, CA, USA 16th – 18th May (2014).

Dmitry Glukhovsky, the Russian author of Metro 2033, has been on tour in Hungary.

Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut and a past commander of the International Space Station, was told to leave a cinema screening the SF film Gravity after he would not stop heckling. By the 30-minute mark, he reportedly >www.thebeaverton.com/chris-hadfield-ejected-from-movie-theatre-for-loudly-heckling-gravity.htm< made numerous comments such as, “Nice Soyuz procedure, Hollywood!” and “Oh yeah, because that’s what hypoxia as caused by rapid cabin decompression looks like you idiots!” (Actually had Chris held off commenting for five minutes he would have found that it was not rapid cabin decompression that was happening.) It has also been said that at one quiet and tense point the astronaut let out a loud fart.  The film was being screened in 3-D in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Apparently, it is reported that he did not go quietly. One film viewer said, “The last thing I heard him yelling was, ‘Have you been to space? Because I’ve been to space!’”  Oh dear, a Big Bang case of the Howard Wollowitz's.

Robin Hobb has a new trilogy contract with Harper Collins. The first of the new deal will be Fool's Assassin, and will revisit two of Hobb's most famous characters, Fitz and the Fool, who have appeared in nine of her previous novels. It will be published in August (2014London Worldcon science fiction convention.

Simon Ings is to have some of his earlier novels re-released by Gollancz in new livery. The re-releases will follow the publication of his new book Wolves. All the books will have Jeff Allan Love designed covers. Jeff is a Society of Illustrators award-winner. The re-releases include Hot Head, Hotwire, City of Iron Fish, Painkillers and Headlong all as £8.99 paperbacks between February and June (2014).

Jay Lake is having his last collection of shorts published. This follows last season's news that his health is deteriorating markedly. It is appropriately titled Last Plane to Heaven. It is being released by Tor in the US and is due out this autumn (2014). +++ Jay Lake's genome is now on-line (see below story in Interface Science and SF section).

China Miéville has announced that regretfully he has had to cancel all public engagements for personal reasons.

Peter Nicholls has revealed, via Ansible, that he has had an operation for deep stimulation of the brain to overcome his now-advanced Parkinson's. The really good news is that this has profoundly improved his life and can now walk and speak near normally again. He hopes he will now be able to contribute more to the third edition of the SF Encyclopaedia. And now he is officially a cyborg, he 'really must avoid rereading Michael Crichton's The Terminal Man.'

Frederik Pohl's The Way the Future Blogs.com blog is to continue with much new material despite the author passing on at the end of the summer. The blog team have gone through a treasure trove of hard (paper) copy, some of it old and some of it unseen by others, much of which Frederik intended for the blog. The blog team are going through this and hope over the coming years to fulfil Frederik's wish… The take-home message for Pohl fans is not to remove the blog from their favourites list.

Terry Pratchett has a new 10-book, 7-figure deal with Doubleday and Anchor Books. The first novel in this deal, Raising Steam, was to have been released in March (2014) but actually came out in November (2013). The deal Terry has with Doubleday and Anchor Books is on a par with, and we suspect bigger in real-terms than, Alastair Reynolds' 10-book deal in 2009. +++ Terry now admits he can no longer read. Back in 2007 he revealed that he had a PCA form of Alzheimer's. "When you read, I'm sure you don't realize that your eyes are going backwards and forwards and to this place and that place. Mine don't do that," he said. He is continuing to write using a Dictaphone. His fear is that he might not notice if the quality of his output will deteriorate without him noticing. "The book I'm writing right now is gonna be a good one, I believe. If it gets really bad, get the little men to go into the flying saucer and take me away from it all."  +++ Terry was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 and its Front Row programme. Mark Lawson has clearly learned from his previous interview of Terry and this time there were no backhandedly, snide questions disparaging SF and fantasy as written genres. Terry talked about his use of voice-to-text technology and how he was getting better at it. Terry did not wait until health circumstances forced him to use it but jumped right in as soon as he had the technology available. He said that he still gets the same pleasure from voicing his writing as opposed to typing. He revealed that he has an excellent set of new characters for a new Discworld book but alas has not yet a plot for them. Still, he seemed confident that that would come. Finally, he concluded saying that his PCA Alzheimer's was not causing him to lose satisfaction with life (yet).  See also further down in the book news subsection past Discworld novels being re-released in affordable hardback.

J. K. Rowling's Book of Spells (Pottermore) tie-in with the PlayStation game was launched in November and quickly sold 500,000 units before Christmas.

Brian Ruckley is diversifying a bit, and writing a Rogue Trooper comic. Rogue Trooper is a genetically modified infantryman in a future off-world battlezone and the last of his modified kind. The character was originally created for 2000AD. This news means that this year (2014) he will have both a novel and a graphic novel out on the shelves. Brain says he "liked comics and SF, it goes without saying that 2000 ADwas a biiiig deal to me way back then, and Rogue Trooper was one of my favourite strips. It’s remained one of those I remember with the most affection, along with stuff like Dredd, Slaine and Nemesis. So all in all, fair to say I’m a happy chap with this turn of events."

Spider Robinson sadly had a heart attack at the end of the summer and then surgery. This was successful and he has now largely recovered.

J. K. Rowling is making her screenwriting debut in a new Harry Potter-themed film series for Warner Brothers. The first of the series will be Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It is named after a textbook Harry potter used when at Hogwarts. The textbook's supposed author, Newt Scamander, will be the film's protagonist. The Harry Potter books have sold over 450 million copies worldwide and the films so far have grossed £4.8 billion (US$7.7bn). +++ The lawyer who revealed crime writer Robert Galbraith was actually J. K.Rowling has been fined £1,000 for breaching privacy rules. Chris Gossage, a partner at Russells Solicitors, has also been issued with a written rebuke from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Robert Silverberg was visiting Blighty for the World Fantasycon when he sadly had a heart attack. Fortunately, it was easily treated with a stent, but it meant a couple of days in hospital. Full recuperation is expected and he is urging folk to attend next year's Worldcon in London. +++ A stand-alone review of the World Fantasycon is here and there is additional news in the Worldcon/Eurocon section below.

Mats Strandberg and Sara B. Elfgren are Sweden's new fantasy giants. A number of Sweden's aspiring writers have gone down the self-publishing route as have countless others elsewhere. However this Swedish partnership have had considerable success with their trilogy that began with The Circle. It concerns about some girls in a small town who discover that they are witches. Following the initial success there are moves to transfer the story to the big screen.

 

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 2014

FILM NEWS

The autumn's SF/F box-office hits included:-
          The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, or The Desolation of Smog as some refer it, came top of the N. American box office the week it launched, though did not do quite as well as its predecessor by five or six million pounds. It held on to the top slot the following two weeks too.  Over here, in good old Blighty, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smog also topped the British Isles box-office charts the weekend of its launch and also subsequently through to the New Year.
          Gravity was a medium burn being in the box office top ten for eight weeks up to Christmas. Where it did score really well was at the IMAX box office which, let's face it, is the format in which it is truly spectacular. (Please don't watch this on DVD, as that would be like taking a gourmet dish and putting it between two slices of plastic bread.)
          The Hunger Games: Catching Fire also spent a number of weeks in the autumn in the N. American box office top ten as well as in the British Isles. Very popular with younger teenagers.
          Finally there was Thor: The Dark World another multi-week box office top-tenner in both the British Isles and N. America.
          Relatedly see in the above major news section for our take on the best science fiction films of 2013 and links to their trailers. Some of these you may care to keep an eye out for their respective DVD releases later this year.

Another court case over J. J. Tolkien's Middle Earth with Bob and Harvey Weinstein suing Warner Brothers over its decision to divide The Hobbit into three films. This means that the Weinsteins will receive no payment from the second and third instalments.  This is because the Weinstein-owned former studio Miramax sold its rights to The Hobbit to New Line, part of the Warner group, in 1998. New Line agreed to make payments for the first film only, presumably in case New Line subsequently made unrelated spin-off films. The Weinsteins claim the studio adapted the book into three films solely to deprive the Weinsteins of agreed revenue.  The Weinsteins are seeking US$75m (£45.7m).&nsbsp; Now there are two ways to look at this. One is that the Weinsteins were foolish to think that only one film would be made, and that they did not check the small print is their tough luck. The other is that the spirit of the contract is clear and that New Line should pay its fair share as they bought the rights to a single book (even if it is to end up as three films).  However it is not the first time that New Line have been challenged over the way they have handled revenue from Middle Earth films. We previously reported in 2007 Peter Jackson sued New Line over his share from The Lord of the Rings. A cynic might say that New Line only settled because if they did not then Peter would not have worked on The Hobbit.  Either way eyes and clammy hands are on precious Middle Earth revenue: precious, oh so precious, my precious…

Ender's Game film does not do well at the box office. Based on the dual, Hugo and Nebula, award-winning, 1985 novel of the same name, one might have expected that there would be a fair bit of interest from the SF community. Alas there has not and one wonders whether this is due to Hollywood's reputation of mangling novels. (Even with comparative commercial successes such as I am Legend the original book's plot typically gets shredded.) And so it was somewhat ironic that one of its stars, Ben Kingsley, said before the film's launch: "think there's a much bigger audience than just your science fiction fans – we'll get them as well – but we'll also get people who want a philosophical journey, that journey of spirit through the film."  Way to go with your credibility Sir Ben.  What does all this mean for the possibility of a sequel? Well, the early word has it that a follow-up film is not now being considered. A good job too as one of the film's plot-mangling was the omission of one of Ender's siblings, and as Ender's brother and sister were central to author Orson Scott Card's second 'Ender' novel one shudders to think of the storyline contortions Hollywood would have had to make to even vaguely reflect Card's vision..

Ted Chiang’s short 'Story of Your Life' is being adapted for film! The story, which is collected in Stories of Your Life and Others, won a 1999 Sturgeon and a 2000 Nebula for short fiction. It concerns an alien race, the Heptapods, landing on Earth. A linguist, Dr. Louise Banks, sets about learning their language. The thing is that the Heptapods have one language for speaking and another for writing… Queue recipe for confusion. The film will be directed by Nic Mathieu. +++ And in case you have forgotten, we have one of Ted's shorts on this site: 'What’s expected of us' in which sending signals through time is fun but there is a down side...

C. S. Lewis' The Silver Chair is to be the fourth Narnia film. Together the previous three films globally accumulated at the box office £1.05 billion (US$1.6 billion) at the global box office.

Harrison Ford is up for appearing in the mooted Blade Runner spin-off. We first reported that a spin-off was on the cards way back in the early summer of 2011. Now Harrison Ford says he has been talking to director Sir Ridley Scott about appearing in it. Alcon Entertainment are still behind the venture but previously had said it would be either a prequel or a sequel and completely different.

Beetlejuice 2 is being mooted and Tim Burton is keen to direct. Burton directed the 1988 original comedy horror film that starred Michael Keaton as a fast-talking, Machiavellian ghost. The news is that Tim Burton is now talking with Michael Keaton. +++ Beetlejuice won an Academy Award for best make-up in 1989.

Transformers 4 film crew attacked. Arrests made. Director Michael Bay was reported to have had a facial injury. Two men were arrested on suspicion of blackmail and assault after they demanded money from the film crew. It said that the men might have missed out on disturbance fees which the film crew paid to shop and business owners whose businesses were likely to be affected during filming. One demanded HK$100,000 or £8,000 (US$13,000).  Transformers 4 is due for release this summer (2014).

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!: As Doctor Who celebrates 50 years, this mini-documentary goes behind the lens on the year's top television event. Voiced by the Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker, it catches up with old friends and meet some new ones. It is a rollercoaster ride and a time to celebrate. Features Matt Smith, David Tennant and Jenna Coleman with Billie Piper and John Hurt, as well as lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, discussing their 50th Anniversary experiences.  See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Dazzling new Wonder Woman short. DC's Wonder Woman small screen outing of the 1970s, while having a certain charm, was decidedly (ahem) limp.  And so it is a positive delight to see this new quality-production short here.

Film clip download tip!: Unearthed short SF film On the edge of space, a mining ship, The Ezekiel, finds an uncharted planet that reveals signs of a possible fuel resource. Two crew members undertake a mission to the desolate rock to take samples for later analysis. The mission goes well until they unearth a dark and terrifying truth.  See it here.

Film clip download tip!: The Signal short SF film 2046. A new energy source, created to solve the world's energy crisis, is believed to have deadly side effects. When 'The Signal's' inventor chooses to help a girl warn the public, he gains an unlikely ally to save the world from his own creation…  This live action short film was shot in downtown Los Angeles over a weekend. The post-production and visual effects took considerably longer and were done by the writer/director Marcus Stokes and a few additional VFX artists.    See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Edge of Tomorrow trailer. This film is based on the Japanese juvenile SF novel, All You Need is Kill? (2004) by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (and published in English by Viz Media). The protagonist (Tom Cruise) is a futuristic soldier battling aliens who keeps dying in the same battle, and meets someone who experiences the same thing. Are they stuck in a time loop and if so, why?  See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Battle of the Damned film trailer here

 

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

For a reminder of the top films in 2012/13 (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 2014 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 2014

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

Book tips for 2014. In addition to our seasonal forthcoming Science Fiction forthcoming Fantasy & Horror lists below, what other arguably special delights has 2014 in store? Some of the following may tickle your fancy:-
          The Bees by Laline Paull, is set in a bee colony on the verge of collapse and is due out from Harper Collins.
          The Well by Catherine Chanter. This is set in a Britain three years into a severe drought. Interest in this novel has been considerable. Cannongate are due to publish in Britain, Atria in N. America, Fischer in Germany, Ambo Anthos in the Netherlands, Bazar in Norway, and Salamandra in Spain.
          The Seventh Life of Miss Hathfield has got to be on of the most intriguing juvenile science fantasies of the coming year. This is not so much because of its teenage time-travelling female protagonist, but because the author herself is just 16 years old!
          On the non-fiction and popular science front there will be:-           End Game: Tipping Point for Planet Earth by Tony Barnosky that will come out in Britain by Harper Collins.
          Would you Kill the Fat Man? by philosopher Dave Edmonds, which explores moral dilemmas and is distributed in the British Isles and N. America by Princeton U. Press.

Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane has been voted Britain's 2013's Book of the Year! Neil said: "Winning a National Book Award was thrilling; discovering that the public have made The Ocean at the End of the Lane their Book of the Year is somewhere out beyond wonderful. Thank you to everyone who voted."

E-books growth seems to be declining. According to Nielsen (and remember Nielsen only cover major book outlets and not things like academic publishers or small press fiction direct sales), in four weeks to early June as a proportion of the total British Isles (UK, Republic of Ireland and associated islands) market share (paper and electronic) e-books £ sales only increased by 1% to 19% of the total market.  However this masks a decline in the overall market and in terms of volume (units sold) sales were down 25.7% to £3m and value down 12.5% to £10m.  If e-books make 19% of the market by sales for the British Isles, then for comparison the figure in Germany is 7.9%, with France, Spain and Italy having a smaller, but growing, proportion. The average price for fiction e-books in the summer was around £3.20.p

Amazon's sales of e-books for its kindle represent 79% of e-book sales in the UK an Ofcom study reveals. Apple's iBookstore was the next most popular capturing 9%, Google's search engine platform *%. Waterstones' sales account for 3%.

Australia: Amazon launches a dedicated Kindle store. Kindle in Australia has (2013) captured 75% of the digital reader market, so the launching of a dedicated bookstore makes sense. However, the Australian Booksellers' Association notes that Australasian bookshops are having to adjust to Amazon's model of tax minimization and buying 'market share sat prices that are not sustainable'. The Kindle's success in Australia is despite users having to download from Amazon international sites. +++ Meanwhile 2013 saw Pearson close its educational arm in New Zealand, and Harper Collins has closed it New Zealand distribution operation.

Amazon is creating a world that might get a Charlton Heston-like reaction at the end of The Planet of the Apes. So opines Philip Jones in a Bookseller magazine editorial (6th December 2013). We might in the future discover, a bit like Charlton Heston did at the end of the film, that it was our human-made disaster that created the new bookselling world… Harsh words maybe, but a view shared by others. At Britain's 'FutureBook' Conference the Book People's CEO, Seni Glaister, was reported as warning that Amazon's e-book dominance could lead to a 'dystopian disaster'!

The summer saw the on-line book-seller Amazon UK report a loss for the third quarters in a row! It reported a net loss of £25m (US$41m) for the July-September period. But that is considerably down from the $274m loss a year earlier. The reason seems to be that even though over a year its sales have surged by 24% to £10.6 billion (US$17.1 bn), it has been investing in further expansion of its services. A 9% growth is tentatively forecast for the autumnal (2013) quarter. The company has been expanding its Kindle line of e-readers and tablets and refining its delivery network (building more regional warehouses to reduce delivery costs) and further developing cloud-computing services. Last year's losses were a reversal of Amazon's previous profitable trends which in turn sparked tax avoidance concerns. Meanwhile the growth of on-line bookselling such as Amazon's have in part been cited as one key reason as to the decline in high street bookshops (see also previous story above).

Macmillan is moving more of its operation from Basingstoke to London. This will bring together Macmillan Science and Education, Nature Publishing and Palgrave Macmillan on a single site. What is happening is that Macmillan is developing another site next to its Crinan Street site in London where Nature's editorial offices are located. The combined site will house 1,500 employees. All but the most senior staff will be in open plan.

Waterstones painful re-structuring may secure its future. Waterstones is one of Britain's largest book chains (as opposed to newsagent chains such as W. H. Smiths). The past three decades has seen it struggle despite it being much loved by its regulars. The summer saw a couple of hundred of its 487 managers leave. 130 assistants have also gone. Four book buyers posts have also been removed: Kit Clothier who covered Waterstone's genre book buying has gone to another department and Waterstones will now focus on stocking new books leaving backlists to look after themselves. As much as possible of the staff cuts were voluntary, though there was some pain. Let's hope this will be enough to ensure its future.

Top 100 most influential in British publishing list sees some genre change. Each year The Bookseller, the trade magazine for the British Isles book trade, publishes a list of the top 100 most influential in British publishing.  Of genre interest… Orion's Malcolm Edwards continues to feature but this year Neil Gaiman is also included. Neil's inclusion is not because over the years he has sold over £1 million books in the British Isles but for his support of libraries.&nsbsp; Also included of genre interest, but not for genre reasons, is J. K. Rowling, who since being outed as Robert Galbraith, has seen her post-Potter books, The Cuckoo's Calling and The Casual Vacancy, have phenomenal sales. As we have pointed out before she was outed, but that prior to that despite excellent reviews from big names, her post-Potter books hardly sold. Only after it was revealed that Galbraith was Potter did the books start selling, and sell so very well that she earned a place in the 2013  100 most influential in British publishing list.

Orion to further expand SF Gateway. Orion's new C.E.O., David Young, has announced that SF Gateway will be broadened to include SF classics from across Hachette UK. To understand the importance of this you need to know a little about the publishing scene. SF Gateway is connected to Orion's SF imprint Gollancz. Orion in turn is owned by the multinational Hachette. Yet Orion only makes up of 25% of Hachette UK's publishing: there are other Hachette publishers. The other Hachette UK publishers include: Little Brown (24%), Hodder & Stoughton (20%) and Headline (9%). All have their own SF/F imprints and these have backlist titles that can now end up on SF Gateway. Good to see publishers' SF backlists becoming more accessible.

Discworld goes high quality. Serious Pratchett fans will undoubtedly be welcoming Gollancz's decision to produce Terry's Discworld novels in a high quality book format. (NB. Transworld hold the Discworld paperback rights.) These Gollancz editions will be beautiful but not that expensive B-format, hardbacks at a very affordable £9.99. Terry Pratchett says: ‘The truth is that even big collections of ordinary books can distort space, as can readily be proved by anyone who has been around a really old-fashioned second-hand bookshop, so just think what a lovely big collection of Discworld novels like this might do.’  Gollancz began publishing the Discworld novels in hardback in 1987 and have worked with Sir Terry Pratchett ever since. He has become the most shop-lifted author in the UK, selling more than 2.5 million copies every year, and these will be the most desirable editions of his novels yet published. All told, so far, they have sold more than 85 million copies around the world. Of these 75 million have been Discworld titles that have been published in 37 languages. The first titles came out in November (2013) with Reaper Man and Mort. Then in December there was Hogfather and Soul Music all of which featured death. Then in January (2014) we will be getting Small Gods and Pyramids. February sees Eric and Sourcery with more to follow in subsequent months. So far 21 Discoworld novels will be published this way. However these titles will only be available from British Commonwealth countries excluding Canada. This is due to Gollancz's contract. But, hey, if you are so disadvantaged why don't you order them from a book dealer attending the London Worldcon and then pick them up there and while you are at it ask Terry if he'll autograph them for you.  +++ More Terry P. news in the SF & Science Personalities subsection above.

There's a new SF author on the block. His robots may leave a little to be desired, and his aliens are largely extinct, but his space battles are still epic. Though SF2 Concatenation is largely a seasonal news review, we do still like to carry news that looks forward, and we thought many of you really would want to know about this new author Alexander Lamb. His first novel will be Roboteer that will come out in 2015 from Gollancz.  Of Roboteer Alex says: I've been fascinated for years by a single big question: How do we, as a species, survive the impact of our own intelligence? The more powerful we get, the higher the risks to ourselves and our environment. Is there a way to play civilization-poker and win?  I believe the answer is 'yes', but only if enough people in the world are thinking about the problem. With Roboteer, I wanted to take some of the most fun themes in science fiction and use them to frame the question in a new way.  That’s why Roboteer has aliens, robots, and epic space-battles, but all of them a little more realistic than we’re used to seeing. Robots are stupid, starships are insanely expensive, and aliens tend to be extinct, while being no less dangerous for it.  Alexander Lamb may be a new author but he is not a new writer: his short story 'Ithrulene', in the anthology Polyphony 5 (Wheatland Press), was singled out for praise by Gardner Dozois in his end-of-year review for Locus.  Of interest to science fact and science fiction Concateneers, Alexander Lamb has a science and technology background with expertise in systems analysis and software development, and he holds an academic position in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton U.  Additionally he is married to an astrophysicist.  Also noted by European based Concat' is that Alex is a Brit even if domiciled in the US.  Apparently the word among the Gollancz team is that his writing is comparable to Alastair Reynolds: queue recipe for fight among our book review panel should Gollancz favour us with review copies. Actually that is more likely to be 'queue fights' as Alex has a three-book contract with Gollancz. And yes, we will be keeping an eye on him.

The Returned TV series is to be novelised in two books by Pan Macmillan. The French television series has been something of a hit, and indeed a surprise hit given it is subtitled. The Returned series 1 was aired by Channel 4 in the UK in 2013 and has been a worldwide bestselling series having sold into Sweden, Netherlands, Israel, Turkey, New Zealand, Hong-Kong, Hungary, Canada, Australia and the US. It is set in a small Alpine village in the shadow of a vast dam. A group of men and women find themselves in a state of confusion, trying to return to their homes. What they do not yet know is that they have been dead for several years, and no-one is expecting them back. Now Pan Macmillan has acquired the rights to develop two books based on the series. The novels will be adapted from the screenplays of the first two series by Pan Macmillan author, Seth Patrick, author of Reviver. The first novel will be published in the autumn (2014) alongside the transmission of series two.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiaman has been withdrawn from a New Mexico school in the US. The book has been part of the 10th-grade English curriculum in 2004 but a complaint was made that it contained inappropriate material. The complainant, a parent, was offended by a four-paragraph passage that “graphically describes an adulterous sexual encounter between a married man and a single woman in which the F-word is used three times, along with a brief description of groping of one’s anatomy.”
          “I reviewed the language personally. I can see where it could be considered offensive,” Alamogordo Public Schools Superintendent George Straface said. “The F-word is used. There is a description of a sexual encounter that is pretty descriptive, and it's between a married man and a single woman. Although kids can probably see that on TV anytime they want, we are a public school using taxpayer dollars.” Meanwhile an English teacher at the school is seeking to keep Neverwhere on the curriculum.

 

More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in April 2014. 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 2014

TV NEWS

David Tennant is Britain's favourite Dr Who. A survey was conducted by the Radio Times (the BBC spin-off weekly British television schedule magazine as part of the BBC's 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Dr Who 23rd November 1963. Over 20,000 took part. David Tennant, who played the Doctor from 2005-10, accrued 56% of the RadioTimes.com vote, easily beating closest rival Matt Smith. Billie Piper, who played Rose, won a parallel vote for the best companion with 25% of the vote for her role, that saw Rose accompany both Tennant and Eccleston Dr Whos. Sarah Jane Smith, who was portrayed by the late Elisabeth Sladen came second, while Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) - who also appeared alongside David Tennant - came fourth. The top 5 Doctors and the proportion of the vote they respectively attracted were:-
          1. David Tennant - 56.1%
          2. Matt Smith - 15.9%
          3. Tom Baker - 10%
          4. Christopher Eccleston - 6.5%
          5. Patrick Troughton - 2.5%
We think that, given that this poll was conducted in 2013, that Patrick Troughton as the 2nd Doctor way back in the 1960s did particularly well to get such a following today.

The 50th anniversary Dr Who adventure was a World record-breaking broadcast being shown simultaneously to 94 countries on six continents. The show already holds the Guinness Book of Records record for the most successful television series. Now it has another being the most watched simultaneously. The venture was a logistical triumph considering it needed to be dubbed or subtitled in 15 languages.  The British broadcast of the episode, 'The Day of the Doctor', on BBC 1, was seen by 10.2m, Doctor Who's highest overnight ratings since 2010.  The US broadcast of 'The Day of the Doctor' was watched by an average of 2.4 million, a record for BBC America. With the BBC America peak-time repeat the total viewing in the US increased to 3.6m.
          The extra-long episode principally reunited the two most recent doctors (Tennant and Smith) together with the anniversary special, 'forgotten' Doctor, John Hurt. However, Tom Baker had a cameo and all the Doctors had a fleeting appearance towards the end as they rushed to save Gallifrey. With many references to past Doctors and past adventures, this was a delight for fans. The only thing that marred the BBC's British Isles broadcast was the end-credit voice-over just as fans were all in their cathartic release moment. (End-credit voice-overs and message flashes are one of the most common complaints the BBC receive after debatable censor issues/good taste, watershed violations, and supposed lack of political impartiality (levelled by folk of all political party persuasion). Why the BBC are so insecure that they feel the need to forgo their unique selling point of not having advertising (and for that matter other) messages interrupting programmes is unfathomable. We at SF2 Concat would happily see those at the BBC's continuity department responsible recycled… And individually recycled very, very slowly at that.)
          In the month prior to the 50th anniversary edition we were treated to repeats from the last season on BBC3. In the week before the 50th screening there were also repeats of half a dozen key episodes from seasons with the last three doctors. There were two Dr Who documentaries: one on monsters and one a guide to the show; both were well made. And then there was an insightful BBC2 dramatization of the show's creation and original producer Verity Lambert. Finally, there was a Royal Institution lecture by (physicist) Brian Cox on the physics of Dr Who and he did a very credible job. The lecture was broken up with a few short, pre-recorded scenes with Brian and Matt Smith on the TARDIS. These were very well scripted. Good science, good SF.  It concluded with a very appropriate reference to SF engendering enthusiasm for studying science in that there might be a little girl or boy in the audience inspired to try to practically bend space-time light cones and even if they fail in the process discover something that changes the world: very moving. Alas, the first screening of this documentary also had a continuity announcer gibber all over the end credits. Ughhh!
          Lets hope the BBC learns some lessons from the 50th anniversary. Let's hope they use November 2013-2014, the 50th anniversary year to build on this and perhaps re-screen some of the key past adventures such as the three and the five Doctors as well as a couple of cybermen and dalek classics. This is what BBC 3 was made for. Above all the BBC must learn that its good SF comes from writers steeped in SF, be they Terry Nation, or Steven Moffat, and also SF novel writers. It is not that long ago that the BBC ditched its new take on Survivors with the truly awful show Outcasts. The BBC might also recognise that it holds the rights to some Gerry Anderson shows that could do well if shows were screened successively one at a time, and also with seasons screened a year apart so as to capture a generation of kids as they grow up. This after all is what BBC3 should be all about. 'Nuff said.

Dr Who's 2013 Christmas episode's regeneration scene was the top British Isles programme scene broadcast over the holiday period. Some 10.2 million people tuned in to see Matt Smith's final outing as the Doctor (barring any subsequent guest reprises) and the new face of the Doctor appear. Good to see SF take the lead once more, especially as it has been a decade when the soap East Enders beat Dr Who at Christmas.

Gotham's Commissioner Gordon is to have a TV series. This Batman spin-off will not feature the caped crusader but will include many of his foes such as the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Mr Freeze, Poison Ivy etc. The Gordon origin story, to be titled Gotham, will follow him in his early days as a detective. The screen stories will be scripted by British writer Bruno (The Mentalist, Rome) Heller. Fox Television has won the bid to screen it. Gotham is one of three comic book franchises being developed by Fox, alongside adaptations of Unthinkable and Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

New Terminator television series to tie-in with film re-boot trilogy. Paramount has hired Thor: The Dark World director Alan Taylor to make the first film. Meanwhile Skydance Productions and Annapurna Pictures have begun development on a new Terminator television series that will tie directly in to the films. Both the series and the films will be stand-alone, but like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. there will be crossover references with the films, and their respective plot arcs will also chime. Terminator 5/Terminator (2015) is slated to go on general release in cinemas the summer of 2015.

The Walking Dead TV series creator, Frank Darabont, and also his agents Creative Artists Agency, are suing the US television network AMC. AMC are accused of licensing the series at a deliberately low level to one of its affiliates. AMC then officially receives less money and the show technically does not make a profit: in the trade this is called 'self dealing'. The AMC affiliate is then free to do other deals. The Walking Dead is now in its fourth series and a fifth is slated for a fifth with each episode reportedly drawing an average of 13 million viewers, making it one of the top-rated cable shows on US television. However AMC set a license fee rate of US$1.45 million per episode, with an increase of 5% per season, far less than what it costs to produce the show, meaning there was no profit to share with the programme's makers. +++ Previously The X-Files and Smallville have previously been the subject of self-dealing cases.

The Walking Dead has spin-off web-series. Season 4 of the post-apocalyptic zombie TV series based on the Robert Kirkman graphic novels now has an accompanying spin-off three-part web series. Called The Oath on AMC.com.  The prequel three-parter ties in with events from the first season and tell the story of two previously unseen survivors. The Oath tells the story of the lone survivors of a massive walker-attack, Paul (Wyatt Russell, Cowboys and Aliens) and Karina (Ashley Bell, The Last Exorcism), who speed across the countryside, frantically searching for an aid-station as one of them slowly bleeds out from a wound. Finally coming upon a hospital that has not been overrun at first feels like a blessing, but could soon turn to misfortune, as a seemingly benevolent doctor (Ellen Greene, Little Shop of Horrors) may hide a darker agenda…

The 'Shanarra' sequence of Terry Brooks novels is to become a TV series. Jon (Iron Man Favreau will likely direct the series. Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar will be providing the scripts should the series get green lit. If it does go ahead the first season series will be based on The Elfstones Of Shannara, the second book the 26-novel series of books. The Shanarra stories are is in the future, thousands of years after the destruction of civilization in a chemical and nuclear holocaust called the Great Wars. A medieval state had emerged in the aftermath, with magic re-emerging to replace science. But you can't keep science down forever.

Marvel and Netflix announce Daredevil, Luke Cage, and three more new TV series. Beginning with Daredevil, all the series will be connected. The epic will unfold over multiple years of original programming, taking Netflix members deep into the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell's Kitchen, New York. Netflix has committed to a minimum of four, thirteen episodes series and a culminating Marvel's The Defenders mini-series event that re-imagines a dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters.

 

[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 2014

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

The 2013 World Fantasy Con was held in Brighton. This was only the third time Britain has hosted the event and it was a perfectly functional World Fantasycon by all accounts in that the programme ran on time and for the most part folks had a great time. But there were concerns over somewhat unadventurous panel topics chosen and incidents of harassment (despite the con taking the unusual step of hiring professional security) as well as committee attitude, some of which in turn reflected on the World Fantasy Board: if you really want to know more then search the SF/F blogs and you'll be bound to stumble across them.  Then, beyond the committee's control, there was huge sadness that one of the Guest of Honours (GoHs), Richard Matheson had sadly died a few months beforehand: he was remembered and other GoHs pulled their weight. As you would expect there were a predominance of professionals (writers, publishers, agents etc) in attendance: World Fantasycons are like that, whereas SF Worldcons see more fans in the mix. Attendance – again more typical for World Fantasycons – was limited and so there were just 1,285.attending and 136 no-shows. As noted earlier, Robert Silverberg arrived in Britain but had a heart attack and could not make the convention. However there were plenty of authors to make up for that and Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Adam Nevill were among the many present who were popular on the programme. The programme itself ran across just half a dozen streams (again not unusual for a World Fantasycon compared to SF Worldcons near score of programme streams) consisting of panels and a good proportion of readings. (Forgive the continual Worldcon comparisons, It is probably worth mentioning the similarities/differences of World Fantasycons and SF Worldcons as Britain will be hosting the SF Worldcon in the summer (2014).)  This year saw the World Fantasycon wrapped up with Britain's Fantasycon which meant for one thing that there was also the presentation of the British Fantasy Awards, and, of course, there were the World Fantasy Awards themselves. Next year the event is back in the US. +++ We have a separate stand-alone review on this con here.

The 2014 Worldcon (Loncon 3) will be held in London. We have been reporting on this event for some time now. We noted last autumn (2013) that, "All indications are that Loncon 3 will be the largest Worldcon ever held outside the United States! The organisers are clearly being wary of further proactive recruitment and are not responding to offers to distribute flyers to other conventions and SF societies."  This is now confirmed and we have been told by the committee that registrations for membership have been very good and that it "is possible that Loncon 3 might be the first Worldcon that will need to cap its membership."!  Indeed the membership trajectory is such that it if carries on as it has then it might even begin to approach 8,000. (We – SF2 Concatenation – have visited the convention site and one of us has seen it in action for an international conference of just 2,000. From this it can be seen that at 8,000 there could well be not enough space for the specialist programme streams: 5,000 even could begin to be pushing it! Having said that the con's organisers seem well aware of the potential problem.) The take-home message has to be that if you have not yet registered, but plan to, then you really must register now!  Indeed, even if you only plan going for just one or two of the Worldcon's five days and were thinking of just getting walk-in on-the-day memberships, we would advise that you book these in advance. Indeed we have been told that Day & Hall Admission registrations go on sale on 2nd February 2014, which is a little early for most Worldcons and a possible sign that the organisers want to ensure that serious SF aficionados and professionals get the chance to book day registrations before any possible membership cap is imposed.  Currently, Loncon 3 has attending member from 41 countries, with significant numbers coming from many countries that are normally represented by just a few people.
          Accommodation. By now (mid-January) those registered will have realised that the 2014 Worldcon hotel booking has opened. Again, we recommend that you book sooner rather than later. Having said that, provided that you can afford three and four star hotel rates, there are plenty of hotels near the Excel (or one district light railway stop down the line (12 minutes walk)). The problem comes if you want cheaper accommodation. There is one cheaper option near the venue but you can bet your bottom pound (dollar, franc, guilder, galactic groat…) that these will have been snapped up by now. There are student and other options south of the river which are perfectly fine provided you do not mind the commute but we urge just a little caution returning there at night: crime around the Worldcon ExCel venue itself is so low that many annual quarters see zero crime reported, but there is some crime across the water. Provided you are sensible (for example, don't travel alone late at night having partied worse for wear) you should be fine. (London is a lot, lot safer than some cities and at the most a minority of tourists suffer is pick-pocketing. Just take the usual precautions.)
          Hugo Nominations opened at 00:01 on 1st January 2014 – you need to be a member of Loncon 3 by 31st January if you want a say in who is on the final ballot/short list. Here, even if you are from N. America, can we introduce a tone of bias and gently urge you to consider European authors, films and indeed fanzines/websites: there are many that simply do not usually get Hugo-shortlisted. For example, regarding 'Best fanzines', there are some fine blogs from Fennoscandia, well designed European SF websites, some great mainland continental SF offerings. (Heck, there is even the poorly designed, infrequent, badly grammaticalised SF2 Concatenation for your possible consideration…) But whatever you do do, please vote so that the award is as democratic as possible. (No use grumbling if your favourite novel, author, film, fanzine did not get nominated if you did not vote, and remember it took centuries of struggle, from the Magna Carta to women's right to vote 1918/1928, to get the democratic rights we Brit Cit citizens enjoy today.) 'Nuff said.  Nomination ballots for the Hugo shortlist must be in by midnight 31st March GMT.  Then at Easter the short-list and the Hugo ballot will be announced at Satellite 4 (Britain's Eastercon this year in Glasgow) and almost certainly announced in other locations across the Pond simultaneously.
          Programme. As we have previously reported, Loncon have recruited the Sci-Fi London film festival (we are happy) to sort out the film programme, so Loncon stands a good chance of being one of the all-too-few Worldcons with a decent SF film programme with offerings from independent studios and non-Anglophone nations. Those into books will be delighted by the excellent authors and globally renowned SF publisher as guests. Finally, being the Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation we simply have to point out that they have a research scientist organising the science programme, so that should be good too.  The programme team are being aided by an on-line database. This is truly innovative. Having said that hopefully the team will be mindful of those that do not have regular internet access (25% of British homes do not have a functioning internet connection and 10% of the population do not have internet access either at home or work, plus others are wary of entering personal details onto online databases). In a time of diversity awareness it is important to recognise that not everyone is prepared to use such forms (even assuming that all with expertise will put themselves forward). The Loncon Worldcon team seem thoughtful and so hopefully will have strategies in place to capture those who for varying reasons can't or won't use on-line databases.
          Progress Report 2 is now out. It includes some of the above information, preliminary hotel details, WSFS business and the Hugo voting forms. A paper copy of the Progress Report has been mailed to all paid up registrants and no doubt a PDF will be available on their website.
          Steve Cooper (Loncon 3's Co-Chair) and his team are working hard. They are not being complacent about the interest shown by the number of registrants from so many countries and are aiming high. Steve tells us that, "Loncon 3 will truly be the World Convention of 2014."

Other things to do while you are at the 2014 Worldcon in London. Europe in 2014 is the place to be for SF professionals and fans alike.  Not only is there the Worldcon in London but there is the Eurocon in Dublin. Which begs the question visitors will be asking as to what to do the few days between the two conventions?  Well, Murphyville and Brit Cit both have much to offer.  Indeed, Brit Cit in particular has so much that the usual 'must see' internet search of 'London' would cause a Google meltdown were it not for Hypo Space dampers and quantum Cavorite curbs. (Marvel at how easily we dissect the internet's viscerals for you…)  Instead Google the key terms from the following suggestions (which you may want to cut 'n paste save for reference):-
          Want a view of London? Forget the London Eye, instead head for The Shard. (Britain's attempt at building a space elevator but we are waiting until continental drift brings our Isles to the equator before we complete it.)  Yes, it is bigger, far bigger; taller: more so even than Tharg's King's Reach Tower! Short of buying a return international air ticket and getting caught in a Heathrow airport approach stack, the Shard is your best bet on a sunny day to see London spread out below as one huge blanket of over two thousand years worth of urban sprawl. Get the district light railway (DLR) from ExCel to the 'Bank' (it is the end of the line and so will be well signposted). Either change at 'Bank' to the underground Northern Line and go south one stop to 'London Bridge'. Emerge and ask a rail porter where the Shard is and they will point upwards. For prices check the Shard's website.  However better still, if you do not mind a kilometre walk, get out at the 'Bank', check your map and head south to the Thames. Crossing over at London Bridge you will see 'the Shard'. Crossing London Bridge to your left you will see Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. To your right you will see the old financial district and Shakespeare's Globe.
          Want to steampunk and have you and your steampunk fancy-dress picture taken by the biggest pair of Victorian flies since Brunel's? Well, if it is a rainy day then why not go to the World's oldest combined with biggest, shit shoveller. Yes, the Victorian engines that ended the 'Great Stink' at Crossness. It is a steampunker's paradise. Now, you will need to check with the Crossness Engines Trust first, but they do have the biggest operational Victorian beam engine in London… HUGE fly wheels and the best pair of twirlers outside of the Star Wars bar scene.  And even if you are not into steampunk then it is still educational for those for whom taking a dump brings the biggest relief of the day.  To get there from ExCel, DLR a couple of stops to Canning town. Then change and DLR to Woolwich Arsenal (which is the end of the line and so easily signposted). Then change to British Rail and it is two stops east to Abbey Wood. Then taxi the kilometre to Crossness. As said, unless it is a specific Sunday steam day, you will need to arrange your visit with those restoring Crossness (and we suggest making a donation of at least £10 a head as it is an unpaid volunteer-run charity). If you liaise with a willing volunteer and speak very nicely to get their mobile phone (cell) number, they may even meet you at Abbey Wood station. (Note: this outing is not for those with very sensitive olfactories depending which way the wind is blowing but the machinery is genuine Victorian and big.)
          See the Thames, but don't go on the tourist run. Go on the cheaper, quieter, Thames commuter ferries. Take the DLR to 'Poplar' on the line to Bank. Change at 'Poplar' to the line to Lewisham but get off at Canary Wharf. A couple of hundred yards on foot and you get to the pier and the Thames ferry. We suggest you getting a return ticket to Charing Cross. (Remember, if you have a 'Capital Card' ticket then you will get half-price on these commuter ferries. The best thing to do is stay outside at the stern of the boat.
          See central London. Do the above but instead of staying on the ferry (for the return leg), get off at Charring Cross pier (you can use your return ticket later in the day). Within 500 yards of the pier there is Trafalgar Square with Nelson's Column (and where Dr Who spent part of his recent 50th anniversary adventure), Leicester Square (around the corner from Orion House, home of Britain's Gollancz SF imprint), and the Houses of Parliament (home of fantasists).
          Straddle the planet's hemispheres at Greenwich. This option is best done by those who don't mind a quarter-mile walk uphill to get there (there are taxi alternatives). The east-west 0° longitude meridian runs through (and is determined by) the Greenwich (astronomical) Observatory. The Observatory has a museum of timepieces that enabled Britain to rule the waves. It also has a planetarium. Once there, stop and turn around for a great view of the new financial district and the National Maritime Museum below. There you can take your picture with one foot in each (western and eastern) hemisphere, or shake hands across the meridian line. To get there get the DLR from ExCel a couple of stops to Canning Town. Then get the DLR to Woolwich Arsenal (which is the end of the line and so easily signposted). Then get the British Rail train towards London (Charing Cross or Cannon Street) four stops to 'Maze Hill' station and get out. At this point bring out the Google street map you printed out beforehand to make your way to the Observatory. Ignore the real ale pub on the way there. (Don't ignore the real ale pub on the way back.)
          And finally a travelling tip for London. Your best bet is each day you are travelling within London is to get a 'one-day off-peak Travel Card'. You can only buy these off-peak, after 09.30 (for around £10 [~US$16] at 2013/4 prices). This gets you free travel on DLR, underground, buses and half-price travel on the commuter River Thames ferries (not the tourist ferries). Alternatively, guess how much you will spend and buy an Oyster top-up card. Or pay as you go (by far the most expensive option).
          For other tourist tips Check out the article we did for the 2010 Euroconference and that year's World Horror Convention. These cons had a different venue and the prices are 2010 prices but otherwise all the information is still valid. You may especially want to check out the subsections on tours in London, SF in London and security.  If you find these useful then do Tweet the link (the hyperlink at the start of this article) to fan friends. We ourselves have only just created a twitter account at #SF2Concat and have yet to build up a following that matches our unique visitor stats.
          (Note: the terms 'Brit Cit', 'Murphyville, and 'Tharg', all come from the 2000AD folk who brought you Judge Dredd and 'the Galaxy's greatest comic'. This last is not self-aggrandisement but is their actual motto! If you are travelling to Blighty for the Worldcon, we thought you'd appreciate local SF colloquialisms.)

Concatenation supports the London in 2014 Worldcon.
We understand it to be a capital adventure, what ho...

See the 2014 promotional video below of a science fictional London...

Awesome, isn’t it.

See also the short promotional video below

NOTE: If you are thinking of coming to Britain for the London 2014 Worldcon, then do not forget that the 2014 Eurocon is the following weekend in Dublin, Ireland. The London Worldcon will undoubtedly have its fair share of European SF. The Dublin Eurocon will have more things Irish and some things mainland continental European. The smaller Dublin Eurocon will also be a chance to have a bit of an unwind after the crowded, jam-packed 5-day Worldcon.

 

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

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

 

Meanwhile over in Europe…

The 2014 Eurocon, Dublin, now has accommodation details on its website. We have covered the basics of this convention before. Being held the weekend after the 2014 Worldcon in London it does make the British Isles the place to be in 2014's late summer. It will be much smaller than the Worldcon (and so good to relax at following the London event), showcase Irish SF, and give a flavour of some mainland continental European SF goings on. If you are viewing this in 2014 then the Dublin Eurocon website can be found on our science fiction convention listings page.

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 2014

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

Ed Kramer was fined and sentenced to 34 months of house arrest for child molestation. Kramer was a founder of DragonCon in the US (unconnected with the British 1980s series of Dragoncon conventions run by 'At the Sign of the Dragon Bookshop). He was bought out of his share of DragonCon last year following the child molestation charges and a fan call for a DragonCon boycott.. He was ordered to pay a total of US$300,000 to his three victims and was sentenced to 34 months of house arrest.

The 2014 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFic), Detcon1, has announced that some registration rates have gone up. As of 1st January (2014), full adult attending membership prices went up by US$10, from US$55 to US$65 for a weekend membership. To encourage attendance by families and younger fans, young adult and child membership prices will remain at 2013 levels of $50 and $25 respectively. Supporting memberships remains unchanged at US$35. NASFic is only held those years when the Worldcon is outside N. America (as it will be in 2014). Online registration and a printable form is available at http://detcon1.org/registration.

Sci-Fi London held another of their annual Oktober fests in, appropriately, October. Oktoberfest is the smaller autumnal brother to the May Sci-Fi London film fest. This year Oktoberfest's British film premieres included The Colony from director Jeff Renfroe, starring Laurence Fishburne, Bill Paxton and Kevin Zegers. You may remember that we posted a link to its trailer a couple of seasons ago (Summer 2013). A frozen Earth sees humanity sheltering in small isolated bases. When one of these goes quiet, those from another travel to see what is going on… Oktoberfest also saw the British premiere of Battle Of The Damned, in which Dolph Lundgren leads an army of robots against a zombie hoard. See the trailer here.  Then there was Channeling (sic), which was the 2013 Sci-Fi London film favourite, got a repeat airing. Also in the mix, for fans of Japanese cinema, there was the world premiere of the HD restoration of Shi'ya Tsukamoto's surreal and violent Tokyo Fist, in a double bill with his cult classic Tetsuo: The Iron Man. But one highlight for seriously cinematically literate SF aficionados was a free (yes, free) screening of the classic 1963 Czech film Ikarie XB-1.&nbsb; OK, so you missed this year's Oktoberfest but, hey, Sci-Fi London (SFL) is in May and also the 2014 London Worldcon in August whose film programme stream is being run by the SFL director. Worldcon's are not noted for screening decent SF films (though occasionally some do) and no British Worldcon subsequent to 1979 has had a decent film programme. So this year's Worldcon, cinematically, should be very worthwhile checking out.  Finally, and of great interest to science fact and science fiction concateneeers, there was a day with the Icarus team of scientists and engineers who are designing a functional starship and planning a mission. These folk are bona fide scientists and engineers who have been quietly beavering away on this project for a few years now and so have quite a bit of the detail worked out, even though there's a fair way to go (and not least four light years).

Sci-Fi London 2014 will take place in April. – If you are viewing this page in 2014 then check out our sci-fi convention diary page for details and a link to their site.

WisCon is a feminist SF con in the US. By and large much worthy activity goes on at Wiscon, however recent years have seen a few incidents attract on-line attention. The latest comes in the form of a YouTube comment that within a week attracted several thousand views, and which concerns the convention's POC (People of Colour) Safer Space facility: an area where whites are not allowed.  Racial segregation?  You can see the video here.

The 24th Festival of Fantastic Films was fun. Part of the Fest's charm is that it is a small intimate affair of fantasy, horror, SF film buffs with a focus on rarely-seen-these-days offerings together with some very recent independent films. This year there were 107 paid registrants (a bit (about 15% ) up from last year.) Added to which there were seven guests, actors and directors from yester-year. This was slightly more than usual and at times the main programme was a bit of a conveyor belt.  Here there were two downsides. The first was marginal in that the second independent film programme stream closed while there was a guest on. Fortunately, for those whose appreciation is more of the films than personalities, the vintage SF/fantasy track kept running throughout.  The second was that one of the guest interviewers was also making a TV documentary and so filmed their interview with the guests before they went on stage, and once on stage simply ran a post-interview question-and-answer session for the audience. (There were quite a few mumbling a gripe about this.)  However, the afore mentioned vintage fantasy/horror/SF track, run by the masterful Tony Meadows, was as usual simply brilliant. Though now greatly dated, the many vintage treats included: the BBC's 1960's They Came From Beyond Space; the 1960s film The Power; and the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers (rarely seen now in its reel-to-reel celluloid format). Added to which Tony had included some more recent SF pleasures including the Korean film The Guard Post. This came across as a psychological horror but in the end transpired to have an underpinning SFnal rationale.  Finally there was the international independent and amateur short film competition and we have the Delta Award winners further up this page.
          The now-regular venue, the Days Hotel cum Manchester Conference Centre, it transpired had gone into receivership. Consequently, it looked as if none but critical maintenance had been done in the past year and so the rooms' 20 TV channels were reduced to just four and there was no radio; even the large toaster at breakfast still had not been repaired/replaced from last year, though the roof leak in the Weston Hall had been sorted.  Fortunately all this had a minimal effect on the Fest, though the waiters at breakfast were of the turn-your-back-and-your-plate-was-taken variety. This was not good as an integral part of the Fest is the socialising over breakfast and between tables. Hopefully things will be better with new management and other than this the hotel service was reasonably fine.
          This year the next Fest will be its 25th in the run, and the year after (2015) will be the Fest's 25th anniversary of the first 1990 event. While we all miss Fest founder Harry Nadler who brought so much to the table, and the current organisers are getting decidedly on (not their fault as entropy hits us all), there are plans to make next couple of years a little special. The early word has it that there will be even more guests (if that's possible) and the latest confirmed word is that the Fest registration for the 25th event will appropriately be just £25! If you really do have a penchant for fantastic film then you may very well want to consider attending. If distance or circumstance makes this impossible, you can still contribute by blogging or putting news of this happening on your social website. This would be really appreciated. :-)  If you are viewing this page in 2014 then see our natcon and internat-con convention diary for details. +++ We have Darrell's stand-alone review of the 2013 Festival of Fantastic Films here.

Åcon 2014 will be in Mariehamn Åland 1st – 4th May on an island in the Baltic between Stockholm and Helsinki. This is the small Finnish/Swedish relaxacon. An intimate gathering with an author GoH, which this year will be Karen Lord. Expect some informal discussion of the Finnish 2017 worldcon bid. Details: http://acon7.wordpress.com.

Sci Fi Scarborough in April will be the town's first ComicCon. A full weekend over 5th & 6th April 2014, of guest speakers, fan films, authors, artists, trading halls, writers and more. The event will include items on cosplay, tabletop gaming, film, manga, online gaming, writers, comic book artists, autographs, steampunk, sci-fi, fantasy or the million other things that revolve your orbit, they are sure there will be something for even the most discerning geek. Details: www.scifiscarborough.co.uk.

 

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 2014

NET WATCH

Britain is introducing heavy filtering of internet sites. The move has been championed by Prime Minister David Cameron purportedly to prevent children from having easy access to pornography sites. Internet Service Providers have begun implementing these 'filters' which include sites which youngster should have access to. The ISP O2 has been blocking the Childline (child abuse help site) and Refuge, while BT have been blocking lesbian and gay content.  Many SF sites have also been included. In December the SF Encyclopaedia was found to be blocked by anyone activating the O2 parental filter as indeed was SF2 Concatenation. Some SF on-line book dealers have been outraged that they have been blocked while Amazon.co.uk has not! Who says which site is permissible or not? What criteria are they using? What rights do bona fide website masters have to protect them from being filtered especially if their site is perfectly legal and has no sexual, criminal, anti-discriminatory content? Britain is slipping into an unhealthy state and at our political masters' wont.

Electric Velocipede the short story SF magazine and webzine has ceased to exist. The magazine was founded in 2001 and has published at least two issues (and the occasional double issue) every year since. In 2011 the magazine published its final print issue with the 21/22 double issue. Issue 23 was the first online issue.  Time pressures on the editor, and unpaid debts owing the magazine are behind the decision to close.  Over its time it won a Hugo Award. It also received five World Fantasy Award nominations (four for the magazine and one for a story it published). 12 years is though a remarkable feat in such a tough market and not helped by the global banking recession.

Hungary has a new major SF website. The new site is backed by one of Hungary's leading publishers, Alexandra. The website carries news and reviews and went on-line in October. Since then it has been updated two or three times a day. In addition to SF and fantasy, the site covers juvenile SF/F, paranormal romance, films and comics.

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

World mobile (cell if you are US) numbers are to overtake global population early in 2014. There will be more mobile subscriptions than people in the world this spring. (They'll take over we tell you.)

Bitcoin fraud – E-Sports Entertainment agrees to pay US$1m (£620,000) to settle case. Video games company, E-Sports Entertainment, has agreed to settle having accused of taking over its customers' computers to mine Bitcoins. Some 14,000 of its customers' PCs had apparently been used to generate the virtual currency in April. The crime was reportedly carried out by a rogue employee but E-Sports has agreed to pay the State of New Jersey $1m (£620,000) to settle without accepting liability and if it does not break the law for a decade it need not pay over two-thirds of this. New Jersey's acting attorney general, John Hoffman, said, "These defendants illegally hijacked thousands of people's personal computers without their knowledge or consent, and in doing so gained the ability to monitor their activities, mine for virtual currency that had real dollar value, and otherwise invade and damage their computers." E-Sports said that it has sacked the employee responsible and would agree to regular, third party conducted, privacy audits. E-Sports charges gamers a subscription to play supported games - such as Counter-Strike and League of Legends - against each using their anti-cheat software on their PCs. The employee used this to create a botnet. US$3,500 of bitcoin value was mined over a fortnight in April (2013). Those affected have been offered a free month's subscription and the company promised to help anyone whose processors might have overheated and damaged as a result of the incident.  +++ China's central bank has banned financial institutions from handling bitcoin. The concern is that it interferes with normal monetary policy operation. Supporters might counter that with that that is the point as bitcoin is meant to be an alternative to normal currencies. The result was that in December the value of a bitcoin dramatically fell to 2,560 yuan (£258, US$421) from 7,588 yuan (£764, US$1,250) in late November.

Google launches Nexus 5 mobile phone. It runs on Google's Android Kitkat software. The handset is smaller and lighter than the Nexus 4 but its 4.96in (126mm) touch-screen is bigger. Initially a basic 16GB version of the device costs £299 (or US$349 in the US ) unlocked and without a contract. The 32GB version costs around £339.

 

[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 2014

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released it first Working Group (WG I) 'Summary for Policy Makers' for its fifth assessment report (AR5). The 5th assessment follows previous assessments in 1990 (FAR), 1995 (SAR), 2001 (TAR) and 2007 (AR4). The 1st Working Group always deals with the science (the 2nd tackles impacts and the 3rd mitigation options).  It concludes that the warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.  The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased. Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.  In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1,400 years. Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010.  Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.  Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes (Figure SPM.6 and Table SPM.1). This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4 (2007). It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.  Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.  Cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond. Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of carbon dioxide are stopped. This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of carbon dioxide.
          The full Working Group report has yet to be published but will be during 2014 as will the summaries and full reports of Woking Groups II & III. However the summary of WG I has no different a take-home message from previous 2007 assessment (AR4). And humanity itself still seems to be on a business-as-usual, or burn-baby-burn, trajectory. +++ And if perchance you happen to be studying a geography, environmental science, geology, biology and even a social science degree that has a climate change module, or you are a really avid reader on New Scientist, then don't forget our Jonathan has Climate Change: Biological & Human Aspects (2013) out from Cambridge University Press which has had embarrassingly glowing reviews in biology, physics, ecology, meteorology, climatology, palaeoclimatology, geology and social science journals and magazines.

Quantum wave-function collapse can now be observed.  There is a lot of stuff and nonsense uttered about quantum physics, such as faster-than-light communication (ansibles) will never be possible. But we have come a long way, for example, by showing that tweaking one of an entangled pair will get the other to respond near instantaneously as can be measured tens of thousands of times faster than the speed of light and that you do not need near-absolute zero temperatures for entanglement. Other recent quantum science developments have included the demonstration of a single photo gate as might be used in a quantum computer, and 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.  Now, two US physicists (Murch and Weber) have developed both a way to observe a quantum trajectory but also manipulate quantum states. Their results demonstrate that decoherence can be mitigated by environmental monitoring. Moreover, their experiments suggest a new means of implementing ‘quantum steering’ – the harnessing of action at a distance to manipulate quantum states through measurement. (Nature,vol. 502, p211-214.) As physicist Andrew Jordan comments, this experiment further cements solid-state systems as a central player in the manipulation and control of single quantum systems (the area of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded to Serge Haroche and David Wineland). It also opens the way to further investigations in quantum feedback and control, and it exhibits the fundamental importance of new ideas in weak and continuous quantum measurement, a field that has until recently been largely ignored in solid-state physics. (Nature,vol. 502, p177-8.)

Fibres that store electrical energy developed. Smart clothes that house electronics must be made of stretchable fabric to ensure comfort and efficacy. Now a Chinese team have developed capacitors made out of stretchable fibres: rubber coated in layers of electrolyte and sheets of carbon nanotubes that act as electrodes. Even when stretched repeatedly, 100 times, to over half their length again they still retained their electrical storage capacity similar to that of other carbon-based, non-stretchable fibre capacitors (doi.org/f2nqcn (2013)).

Acid rain and ozone depletion probably key to Earth's biggest mass extinction. The end-Permian extinction 250 million years ago saw over 60% of animal species both marine and terrestrial disappeared. Some 90% of ocean plant and animal species vanished as did 70% of vertebrates on land. It is now generally agreed that the Siberian Traps volcanic activity caused this extinction, but how exactly? Theories abound including climate change. No doubt climate change played a part but volcanic activity has other dimensions harmful to life. Now Benjamin Black of MIT and his team have analysed the gases trapped in the Siberian lava. They did some calculatons and the fed this into a global climate model. The results suggest that the amount of carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide would have created global cabonic acid and sulphurous acid rain, while methyl chloride would have eroded the ozone layer (Geology 2013).

The record for storing a quantum bit at room temerature has been thoroughly smashed! The previous record was 2 seconds. Michael Thewalt of Canada's Simon Fraser University and his team stored the bit in the nuclear spins of ionised phosphorous embedded in a silicon crystal using optical and radio frequency electromagenetic radiation to encode and read out the bit. The new record is over 39 minutes! This is a key step to practical quantum computing (Science vol. 342, pp830-833).

 

[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 2014

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

China has landed its 'Jade Rabbit' lunar rover on the Moon. It was the first soft landing on the Moon in 37 years and China bemoes the third nation to achieve a soft landing on the Moon after the US and former Soviet Union (and not counting Britain's Edwardian Cavor [First Men in the Moon] expedition). The lander deploy its robotic rover called 'Yutu' or 'Jade Rabbit' in English. The touchdown took place on a flat plain called the Bay of Rainbows. The rover carries a science payload that includes ground-penetrating radar. Jade Rabbit was so named due to an ancient Chinese myth about a rabbit living on the Moon as the pet of the lunar goddess Chang'e. And so once again fantasy feeds into science fact.

India's Mission to Mars has left Earth orbit On 1st December it began its 300-day journey. It is the country's first interplanetary probe.

Earth's hit-rate 'underestimated' according to Chelyabinsk meteor back-study. February's meteor explosion in Russia was picked up by US infrasound network used to detect atomic explosions. This prompted scientists to examine the network's record for the past 20 years. They found that during this time about 60 asteroids up to 20m in size had entered the Earth's atmosphere: far more than was previously thought. They went unnoticed because they exploded over the ocean or in very remote areas. The team estimates that the strike rate of asteroids that are tens of metres in size is between two and 10 times higher than was previously thought. "Something like Chelyabinsk, you would only expect every 150 years on the basis of the telescopic information. But when you look at our data and extrapolate from that, we see that these things seem to be happening every 30 years or so," said Prof Peter Brown of University of Western Ontario, Canada. "An event such as the Tunguska impact in 1908, where an asteroid flattened thousands of square kilometres of forest in Siberia, would probably happen every few hundred years rather than every few thousand years."

A bit of ancient Mars discovered on Earth as a meteorite. The meteorite is called NWA 7533 (NWA stands for northwest Africa, where it was found), was part of a celestial rock that broke up during its entry through the atmosphere, producing at least five recovered stones. Another member of this group of stones, NWA 7034, was described previously as a volcanic breccia (composed of fragmentary material produced from basaltic lava). Humayun et al. in the journal Nature, have interpreted NWA 7533 — hence NWA 7034 — as being a regolith breccia. Regolith is the planetary surface layer that is pulverized by meteor impacts (planetary scientists and some SF authors, often use the terms ‘regolith’ and ‘soil’ interchangeably, which irritates soil scientists and scientist SF readers no end). Regolith breccias are soils compacted and cemented into rocks by impact-derived melts as well as water weathering (soils can form in the top parts of regolith where there has been biochemical weathering). Many lunar samples returned by the astronauts of the Apollo missions are regolith breccias. The ancient age of NWA 7533: 4.4 billion years, demonstrates that this breccia is a sample of the earliest Martian crust. The age was determined by analysing the radioactive-decay products of uranium in zircon crystals, which concentrate this element. Zircon crystals typically form during magma crystallization. (See review article by Harry Y. McSween Nature vol. 503, pp473–4, and paper by Humayun, M. et al. Nature vol. 503, pp513–516.)

A high-water content asteroid, of the type that created Earth's oceans, has been detected in another star system. The existence of water in extrasolar planetary systems is of great interest because it constrains the potential for habitable planets and life. Two British and a German astronomer have seen the creation of a circumstellar disk that resulting from the destruction of a water-rich and rocky extrasolar minor planet (asteroid) orbiting a White Dwarf. The spectrum of the circumstellar disk indicates that the asteroid body was originally composed of 26% water by mass and 60 miles (96 km) across. In the Solar system asteroids such as the large Ceres has a similarly high proportion of water. At the time of the Solar system's formation water solidified as ice further out than the Earth. Water vapour in space closer in was pushed out by Solar wind as the Sun got going. This meant that some means was needed to get water from further out back to Earth. High water-content asteroids are the obvious way. This is the first time that such have been inferred outside our Solar system. (Science vol 342, p218-220)… Possible shades of Fritz Leiber's 1964 Hugo Award winning The Wanderer.

Starless planet found in interstellar space just 80 light-years away. Such lonely planets are often called brown dwarfs being smaller than a star's size for fusion but many times the size of Jupiter. This one has a mass only six times that of Jupiter and so some may not even call it a brown dwarf. It is in the constellation Capricornus and called PSO J318.5-22. It belongs to a collection of young stars called the Beta Pictoris moving group that formed about 12 million years ago and PSO J318.5-22 is thought to have formed at the same time. PSO J318.5-22 is cold and faint, about 100 billion times fainter in optical light than Venus. Most of its energy is emitted at infrared wavelengths. Astronomers found it using the Pan-STARRS 1 wide-field survey telescope on Haleakala, Maui. The research was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters (Michael C. Liu et al., 2013, The Extremely Red, Young L Dwarf PSO J318-22: A Free-Floating Planetary-Mass Analog to Directly Imaged Young Gas-Giant Planets).

Britain takes exoplanet count to over a thousand. The autumn (2013) saw Britain's Wide Angle Search for Planets (Wasp) add 11 new exoplanets to those already discovered (Wasp [not to be confused with the World Aquanaut Security Patrol - Stingray]). This took the number to over a thousand.  Though exoplanet discoveries have been great, one of the major contributors to the venture has been the Kepler space telescope. Though the Kepler telescope is now defunct, we still have to trawl through more than 3,500 other candidates from this mission so the number of finds could still rapidly increase.  Unfortunately none of the exoplanets so far found are sufficiently Earthlike for visitors to enjoy a nice cup of tea outside without protection from temperature or gravity extremes let alone a decent atmosphere. However in time…

A laval Earth-sized planet has been found. It orbits its sun in less than 12 hours and is so close – 100th the distance of the Earth to the Sun – that it is tidally locked. This close means that the day side of the planet will be around 2,000C-2,800°C. Named Kepler 78b, it is 400 light years away. It belongs to a new class of ultra-short period planets recently identified by the Kepler space telescope. These worlds all complete one orbit of their host star in less than 12 hours.

 

[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 2014

NATURAL SCIENCE

New flu virus discovered in bats. Called H18N11, it has been found in Peru's flat-faced fruit bat (Artebius planirostris). It is the second influenza 'A' virus to have been found in bats and it is genetically diverse. neither of these bat viruses have been found in humans but it does suggest ythat bats are a reservoir for diverse viruses that could one day pose a threat (PLOS Pathology vol9, e1003657, 2013).

Bubonic plague hits Madagascar. 20 people in the village, near the north-western town of Mandritsara, Madagascar, have died of the plague. This is the plague of the Middle Ages 'Black Death'. It is caused by caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis (though a few years ago this was debated) and spreads to humans either by the bite of infected fleas or rats. It is treatable if caught early, but can be lethal. In 2012, Madagascar had 60 deaths from the plague, the world's highest recorded number, but a single outbreak causing 20 deaths is more unusual. The Pasteur Institute has said t that the disease could spread to towns and cities where living standards have declined since a coup in 2009.

Genetic prediction patent awarded. The Californian genetics company 23and Me has successfully been awarded a patent whereby parents' DNA can be analysed to predict their babies' likely traits from eye colour to the risk factor for a number of diseases. Ethical concerns arise as to whether this could facilitate the creation of designer babies. 23and Me says that it does not intend to use the technique that way… (Good intentions paving…?)

Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans. The origins of the First Americans remain contentious. Although Native Americans seem to be genetically most closely related to east Asians, there is no consensus with regard to which specific Old World populations they are closest to. Now a largely European team has draft sequenced the genome of an approximately 24,000-year-old individual from Mal’ta in south-central Siberia. The suggest that populations related to contemporary western Eurasians had a more north-easterly distribution 24,000 years ago than commonly thought. Furthermore, they estimate that 14 to 38% of Native American ancestry may originate through gene flow from this ancient population (Nature, vol. 505, pp87-91).

 

[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 2014

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.

 

Mentats of Dune by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert, Simon & Schuster, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-471-13183-7.
Anderson and Herbert again set out to establish Frank Herbert's Dune franchise's Young's Modulus.

Bedlam by Christopher Brookmyre, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-349-13869-5.
This is this writer's first SF outing and sees its protagonist trapped in retro video games.

The Girl with all the Gifts by M. R. Carey, Orbit, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-356-0273-1.
Kept in a cell she is wheeled to her favourite teacher. There she tells her all the things she will do when she grows up. But she does not know why this makes her teacher sad….  Orbit are quite encouraging about this one. And well they might. This is by Mike Carey who is perhaps better known, not for novels but, for graphic novels such as the Hellblazer and Lucifer series. That he is doing novels means that he has the alter authorial name of 'M. R. Carey'. The Girl with all the Gifts is set in a post apocalyptic Britain much of whose population have succumbed to a pathogen that have turned them…

Traitor's Blade: Greatcoats – Book 1 by Sebastien De Castell, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-848-66379-4.
The greatcoats: legendary heroes, arbiters, travelling magistrates, or notorious traitors? Now divided they must reunite if they are to have any hope of fulfilling the King's dream.. The trouble is that they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom and impaled their king's head on a spike… The author has a degree in archaeology.

Cell by Robin Cook, Macmillan, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-230-76938-0.
Robin Cook is well known for his biomedical ethical crime and/or disaster novels: embryo implanted with super genius genes sort of thing. This time is is a smart phone app that causes the problem with people dying. The 'cell' here refers not to biological 'cells', but what the yanks call 'mobiles'.

Abaddon's Gate by James S. A. Corey, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49993-2.
Hard-ish SF, widescreen space opera.  Jim Holden is being haunted by the ghost of a detective called Miller, who died when Ceres hit Venus, and is being hunted by a woman who blames Holden for the collapse of her family’s corporation and the imprisonment of her father after their failed bid to take over and exploit the alien 'protomolecule'… Duncan has a stand-alone review of Abaddon's Gate elsewhere on this site, and likes it "as a space blockbuster, it is highly recommended". He is not alone. The word in the trade has it that sales of Corey's previous two set in the 'Expanse' universe have been strong. Though this is the third book, Duncan tells us that the authors do a good job of introducing what has gone on before to newcomers.

Willful Child by Steven Erikson, Transworld, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-593-07307-0.
A wickedly entertaining spoof SF space adventure by Steven Erikson, a life-long ‘Star Trek’ fan and author of the multi-million copy selling ‘The Malazan Book of the Fallen’ series.  These are the voyages of the starship, A.S.F. Willful Child. Its ongoing mission: to seek out strange new worlds on which to plant the Terran flag, to subjugate and if necessary obliterate new life life-forms, to boldly blow the... This title is actually due out early summer but we thought you'd appreciate an early heads-up.

Astra: The Gaia Chronicle – Book 1 by Naomi Foyle, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87634-4.
Coming of age story set on an Earth struggling to recover from global environmental change. Like every child in Is-Land, all Astra wants is to have her security shot, do her National Service and defend her Gaian homeland from Non-Lander infiltrators…

A Red Sun Also Rises by Mark Hodder, Del Rey, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-091-95064-4.
My name is Aiden Fleischer, and today my assistant and I awoke on another planet. On Ptallaya, we are welcomed by the Yatsill. The creatures transform their society into a bizarre version of our own, and we find a new home beneath the world's twin suns. But there is a darkness in my soul, and as the two yellow globes set… A Red Sun Also Rises... and with it comes an evil more horrifying than any on Earth…  The early word is that this is quite good.

Wolves by Simon Ings, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-575-11973-4.
Two friends working on reality augmenting technology decide to go hunting in a dystopic world… Psychological, murder mystery.  Ings' latest that precedes a re-release of some of his earlier novels.

Innocence by Dean Koontz, Harper, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-51801-3.
Addison looks like a walking nightmare. By night he makes his way to the library where with Gwyneth they come to face a terrifying evil as the World draws to a day of reckoning.

The Galaxy Games by Karen Lord, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87689-4.
The Galaxy is changing: unreast spread. Only the Academes on planet Punartum may have found a solution in this sequel to The Best of all Possible Worlds (see below).  Science fact and science fiction concateneers might like to know that Karen used to be a physics teacher.

The Best of all Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87168-4.
A dying race desperately need to propagate…

The Confluence Trilogy by Paul McAuley, Gollancz, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-575-11939-0.
A trilogy of books in one volume; reprints of Child of the River, Ancients of Days and Shrine of Stars originally published in 1998-9. Now we have not reviewed any of these before, but McAuley doing hard SF space opera is a fairly good bet.  Among others, we have previously reviewed his: Cowboy Angels, Eternal Light, The Quiet War, red Dust and The Secret of Life.

Starhawk by Jack McDevitt, Headline, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-472-20755-5
This is a standalone space adventure/thriller. Though it is standalone, it is a prequel to the run of standalone Priscilla Hutch 'Academy' series of books. McDevitt has in recent years established himself as a writer of futuristic space operas set in a benign future of mankind where interstellar travel is common enough for the wealthy to go on private jaunts, and on colony worlds (now firmly established) average citizens have air cars…. This actually came out in the autumn but as we only listed the hardback we thought you might want to know of that the cheaper trace paperback is now out.  See Jonathan's review of Odyssey which is another Hutchins' adventure.

Be My Enemy by Ian McDonald, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87670-2.
Second in the Everett series. This is the first paperback outing of this juvenile SF title which came out in hardback last year. Everett has escaped and is travelling across multiple parallel Earths to find his father. McDonald is a Hugo Award winning author and this adventure for young teenagers is a rollicking romp. Many will pick up on references to things like Dr Who but how many teenagers will have seen things like Babylon V. Answer hardly any. But heck so what, such references are for grown-up readers who'd like a light McDonald, and if it gets youngsters watching Babylon V then fantastic. Solid juvenile SF. Steampunk elements thrown in for good measure. What's there not to like?

Empress of the Sun by Ian McDonald, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87671-9.
Third in the Everett series. Part of Ian's juvenile SF sequence for young teenagers. Everett is still looking for his father across multiple parallel Earths. On E1, dinosaurs had 65 million years more in which to evolve…

Descent by Ken Macleod, Little Brown, hrdbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49941-3.
Ryan lives in Scotland in the not too distant, high surveillance future. Then one day something falls from the sky not far from his house. He sets off to investigate but why is there nothing in the news in this highly monitored world…?  Now it surely is no secret that we like Ken's novels. Other Macleod novels stand-alone-reviewed on this site include: The Cassini Division, Cosmonaut Keep, Dark Light, Intrusion , Learning the World , The Restoration Game, The Sky Road, The Star Fraction and The Stone Canal.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £14.99. 978-0-007-52982-2.
A woman tries to keep her children safe in her house.  Most ignored the news reports, but then the internet died and then radio and TV broadcasts ceased… This is a debut horror.

Blood's Pride by Evie Manier, Blue Door, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-50750-4.
Billed as a 'Frankenstein' for the 21st century.

Channel Blue by Jay Martell, Head of Zeus, trdpbk, £10. ISBN 978-1-781-85580-5.
Alien television executives decide to cancel a show in which planet Earth is the star…

The Hive by Alexander Maskill, Transworld, hrdbk, £14.95. ISBN 978-0-857-52221-4.
Winner of the Terry Pratchett Prize 2013, a dark, imaginative science fiction thriller.  Situated deep in the Sahara Desert, New Cairo is a city built on technology – from the huge, life-giving solar panels that keep it functioning in a radically changed, resource-scarce world to the artificial implants that have become the answer to all and any of mankind’s medical problems. But it is also a divided city, dominated by a handful of omnipotent corporate dynasties. And it’s when a powerful new computer virus begins to spread through the poorest districts, shutting down the life-giving implants that enable so many to survive, that the city begins to slide into the anarchy of violent class struggle. Hiding out amidst the ruins and underground resistance is Zala Ulora, a gifted hacker and fugitive from justice. She believes she might be able to earn her life back by tracing the virus to its source and destroying it before it destroys the city . . . or the city destroys itself…. This title is actually due out early summer but we thought you'd appreciate an early heads-up.

Resonance by John Meaney, Gollancz, trdpk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08539-8.
The final in the Ragnorak sequence. See Peter's review of Absorption, the first in the sequence.

Arcanum by Simon Morden, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50183-3.
Simon Morden won the Philip K. Dick Award in 2011. Here magic and science clash.

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett, Transworld, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-857-52227-6.
The new Discworld novel, the 40th in the series, sees the Disc’s first train come steaming into town. To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork – a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it’s soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear… Looks like Discworld could be going steampunk…

The Long Childhood: (Long Earth 3) by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter, Transworld, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-857-52174-3.
This is not due out until mid-summer and so by rights we should not be listing this until our near-Easter seasonal edition looking forward to the summer, but many of you will really want to know what is coming… This is the follow-up to The Long War.  2040-2045: In the years after the cataclysmic Yellowstone eruption there is massive economic dislocation as populations flee Datum Earth to myriad Long Earth worlds. Sally, Joshua, and Lobsang are all involved in this perilous work when, out of the blue, Sally is contacted by her long-vanished father and inventor of the original Stepper device, Willis Linsay. He tells her he is planning a fantastic voyage across the Long Mars and wants her to accompany him. But Sally soon learns that Willis has ulterior motives... Meanwhile U. S. Navy Commander Maggie Kauffman has embarked on an incredible journey of her own, leading an expedition to the outer limits of the far Long Earth.  For Joshua, the crisis he faces is much closer to home. He becomes embroiled in the plight of the Next: the super-bright post-humans who are beginning to emerge from their ‘long childhood’ in the community called Happy Landings, located deep in the Long Earth. Ignorance and fear are causing ‘normal’ human society to turn against the Next, and a dramatic showdown seems inevitable...

The Forever Watch by David Ranirez, Hodder & Stoughton, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-444-78790-0.
A city-sized generation ship is 400 years into its 800 year journey when a man is murdered. Gene-modified to use the ship's 'telepathic' internet, Hanna Dempsey has to track down the killer… This is a debut novel.

Short Stories by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99,. ISBN 978-0-575-13035-7.
We think this may well be Adam's first collection. He certainly turns out novels at quite a rate which either says something about him as a writer, or the demands placed on a humanities university lecturer. But he has been short-listed for the Clarke a few times and has appeal to both litcrits and semi-hard-SF enthusiasts. Could very well be worth checking out.

Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13442-3.
Inspired by Jules Verne naturally.

Gem Signs: (R)Evolution – Book 1 by Stephanie Saulter, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87867-6.
The human race was under attack from a deadly syndrome, but will a cure be found? The cure, genetic engineering. With ethical dilemas, the genetically engineered (gems) find that there are other differences compared to the norms…

Binary: (R)Evolution – Book 2 by Stephanie Saulter, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87892-8.
Gems and norms are now equal in the eyes of the law, but confiscated gene-stock has been stolen from a secure government facility and no-one knows what for…

When the Blue Shift Comes by Robert Silverberg & Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13187-3.
In the deep future humanity has gone to the stars but has never forgotten its cradle, Earth. But now the home planet is threatened by a black hole… Silverberg started work on this a couple of decades ago. His is well known to longstanding genre readers as a past master of SF best known for works from mid-1950s to the end of the 1980s. Now in his late seventies, recently his writing has become more fantasy orientated (together with the occasional SF novel). Anyway, he has now decided that he wanted When the Blue Shift Comes completed but sought help and chose Zinos-Amaro giving him the draft, partial manuscript and further notes.

The Abominable by Dan Simmons, Sphere, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-751-4870-9.
This tale is of an Everest expedition set just after Mallory disappeared. Simmons is well know so expect this to get a respectable following.

The Echo by James Smythe, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-007-45679-6.
This is the sequel to Explorer and sees identical twin brothers go into deep space where the Ishiguro disappeared 20 years previously.

Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux, Faber, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-571-27980-7.
Literary SF.

The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar, Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-444-76289-1.
The past and present collide… Lavie only has a couple of books under his belt but is nonetheless attracting some critical attention as you can find out with a quick Google.  The Violent Century can be pigeonholed as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy meets Watchmen. is the sweeping drama of a time we know too well; the 20th century, a century of fear and war and hatred and death. In a world where everyday heroes may become übermenschen, men and women with extraordinary powers. What does it mean to be a hero? To be a human? Would the last hundred years have been that much better if Superman were real? Would they even have been all that different?

Halo: Mortal Dicta by Karen Traviss, Macmillan, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-230-076710-2.
The Covenant war is over… but there is always need for a black op…

The White Mountain by David Wingrove, Atlantic, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-857-89824-1.
In 2207 a lethal disease strikes Sven's supporters….

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 2014

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

The Secrets of Life and Death by Rebecca Alexander, Del Rey, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95324-9.
In 1585 Hungary and apprentice Edward Kelly is into witchcraft and the quest for eternal life. In the present day their descendents…

The Secret of the Nagas by Amish, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-78-=87404-4.
The Shiva Trilogy Books 2. This is effectively a fictionalization of Indian scriptures. The equivalent of someone turning the Gospels into a novel.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Black Swan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-055-27763-9.

Terninus by Adam Baker, Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-444-75587-9.
And as we have not received any other advance PR, that's all we know.

Daughter of the Blood: Black Jewels – Book 1 by Anne Bishop, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-848-66355-8.
First UK outing for this fantasy trilogy that has done well in N. America. For years the realm has been falling into corruption as the powerful Queens turn to cruelty. But there is hope in a prophecy... The next in the trilogy, Heir to the Shadows, is due out at the end of April (2014).

The Days of the Deer by Lilian Bodoc, Corvus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-848-87028-4.
Lilian Bodoc is a big seller in her native Argentina and is considered the Tolkien of S. America. Ursula K. Le Guin is happy to give this a line of support.

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs, Orbit, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50154-3.
This is a Mercy Thompson adventure in the series of stand-alones. The Mercy Thompson urban fantasy stories have slowly been gaining market traction and this is the first to be launched as a hardback.

The High Druid's Blade by Terry Brooks, Orbit, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50217-5.
A stand-alone novel set in the Shannara universe.

Witch Wraith by Terry Brooks, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49983-3.
Book 3 of 'The Dark legacy of Shannara'.

Hunger by Melvin Burgess, Hammer, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-57665-5.
From the spin-off horror film studio comes this haunting tale of a girl and a ghoul…

Dreams and Shadows by Robert C. Cargill, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13011-1.
Set in an alternate faerie world a la Neil Gaiman. This is a debut novel from a major publisher of fantasy.

The Shape Stealer by Lee Carroll, Bantam, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-553-82570-1.
A futuristic tale set in 21st century Paris but we understand that this is more fantasy than SF... Part of a trilogy that began with Black Swan Rising.

The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell, Macmillan, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-447-26206-0.
Detective Inspector James Quill and his squad police London's supernatural underworld.

Gateway of Saviours by A. J. Dalton, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-12319-9.
Might well appeal to fans of George R. R. Martin.

A Dance of Mirrors: Shadowdance Book 3 by David Dalglish, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50280-9..

Traitor's Blade: Greatcoats Book 1 by Sebastien de Castell, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-848-66379-4.
The Greatcoats: legendary heroes, arbiters of justice or notorious traitors?

Dark Wolf by Christine Feehan, Piatkus, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-349-40216-1.
Part of a big-selling paranormal romance sequence.

The Shattered Crown by Richard Ford, Headline, trdpbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-0-755-39406-7.
This is the second in the Steelhaven series.

Seven Sorcerers: Book of the Shaper 3 by John R. Fultz, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50083-6.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Review, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-472-20034-1.
Gaiman continues to dazzle with his fantastical tales. The hardback and trade paperback have sold very well. We think that this is the novel's first outing as a mass-market paperback.

Snowblind by Christopher Golden, Headline, trdpbk, £13.99. ISBn 978-1-472-20958-0.
Horror. In Massachusetts people are grieving their lost relatives and friends who went in the storm. But now a new, dark storm is coming…  Stephen King really rates this and says it is far better than the television series The Returned.

The Exiled Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49849-2.
Vampires in 15th century Venice.  Other Jon Courtenay Grimwood novels reviewed on this site include: Effendi , End of the World Blues, Felaheen, 9 Tail Fox and Pashazade.

Valour by John Gwynne, Tor, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-230-75846-9.
This is the sequel to Malice and it is back to the banished lands as King Nathair seems unassailable…

Cemetery Girl by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-857-38908-4.
Charlaine Harris will need no introduction to those into modern, southern US vampire tales made even more popular by a television series. Now she has teamed up with an artist for this graphic novel. Calexa has no memory when she wakes up in a cemetery covered in blood.

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09663-9.
The British mass-market paperback release of the 13th and final Sookie Stackhouse. Who will love whom? Who will live? And who will die? And who will be dead ever after?

Games Creatures Play edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87260-5.
Horror anthology by 15 writers. Everyone plays something: whether it is solitaire, or squash, World of Warcraft, darts or dodgeball. Games bring out the best in us, or the worst in us… the thing we never suspected in us...

Home Improvement edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87255-1.
Horror anthology compiled by an author of supernatural vampire novels turned into a television series together with an Agatha Award-winning author.

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris, Gollancz, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-472-21484-3.
Now the advance promo in the 'Books in print' listing has this as an 'unofficial autobiography' (sic), which is a tad oxymoronic. Actually it is the history of Asgard as told by Loki (hence an unofficial profile of Asgard, and not an unofficial profile of Loki by Loki). It is expected to sell well as the author wrote Chocolat.

Spira Mirabilis: The Wave Trilogy – Book 3 by Aidan Harte, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87153-0.
The engineers of Concord have defeated fractious city state of Rasenna using magical science…

Warring States: The Wave Trilogy – Book 2 by Aidan Harte, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-857-38903-9.
The city ids falling and she realises she must escape with her baby. When a prophecy leads her to another cesspit of treachery…

Truth and Fear by peter Higgins, Gollancz, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-575-13057-9.
Inspector Lom returns Mirgorod, a regional capital in an imagined Russia.

Blood Therapy by Lynda Hilburn, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-38725-7.
A psychologist specialises in counselling the undead…

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines, Del Rey, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95345-4.
Isaac Vaino is able to take object out of books… An enjoyable romp that could well appeal to the fans of the likes of Jasper Fforde.

Blood of Dragon by Robin Hobb, Voyager, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-44416-8.
The final in her current dragon sequence. Robin is the fantasy GoH at this year's Worldcon to be held in London.

When it's a Jar by Tom Holt, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49782-2.
Complex and very silly, satirical fantasy from the master mickler of mirth.

Winter by William Horwood, Macmillan, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-71263-8.
This is the final in the Hyddenworld sequence.

The Descent by Alma Katsu, Arrow, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-099-55997-9.
The final in the 'Immortal' trilogy that began with The Taker.

The People's Will by Jasper Kent, Bantam, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-50105-9.
The next in the vampire sequence. This time we are further forward in 1881 and the Russian revolution. Plenty of disorder here for vampires to do their mayhem thing. The first in the sequence was Twelve that was followed by Thirteen Years Later.

Dark Bites by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Piatkus, trdpbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-0-349-40140-9.
This is a collection of all of Keynon's 'Dark Hunter' short stories and it includes some for which this is their first appearance in print.

Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Piatkus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-349 40066-2.
This is the 23rd in the 'Dark Hunter' series that is huge in N. America and has a slowly growing following here. Apparently it is easy to enter the series at any point.

Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard, Headline, trdpbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-1-472-21484-3.
Jane Austin meets Deborah Harkness with dragons.

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50200-7.
An action adventure and part one of the 'Powder Mage' trilogy.

Blood's Pride by Evie Manieri, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-857-38944-2.
The Shadar species is near extinction and females must be found to save them…

We Are here by Michael Marshall, Orion, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-409-13602-6.
This is a thriller but it has a fantastical rift with a protagonist plagued by hallucinations, or are they ghosts…

Dangerous Women edited by George R. R. Martin, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-007-54940-5.
An especially commissioned anthology of short stories apparently brought together by you-know-who.

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-782-06754-2.
A woman sits beside her dying father…

Beauty by Sarah Pinborough, Gollancz, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09307-2.
This is a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast with Rapunzel and Rumplestiltskin thrown into the mix. Dark and adult.

The Demonologist by Andrew Piper, Orion, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-409-12079-1.
A girl disappears in Venice… Time to call in the demonologist!

Sword of Feimhin: The Three Powers – Book 3 by Frank P. Ryan, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87744-0.
The tyrant's control of the Fail is increasing, strengthening his hold over the forces of dark magic that no threatens Earth as well as Tir.

Tales of Majipoor by Robert Silverberg, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13007-4.
Themed shorts set in Silverberg's fantastical Majipoor.

Unfinished Tales by J. R. R. Tolkien, Harper Collins, hrdbk, £60. ISBN 978-007-54292-5.
Shorts from the old master of alternate world sword and sorcery. But £60! We hear you cry. Well this is the first outing for this collection and it comes in a lovely slip-case. Serious fantasy collectors will want to get this. Those who budget their books might wait for the trade paperback or mass market paperback editions.

The King by J. R. Ward, Piatkus Books, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-749-95958-6.
Beth thought she knew what she was getting into falling for the last pure-blood vampire on Earth…

The Golem and the Djinni by Helen Wecker, Blue Door, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-48019-7.
Set in 1899 New York and two unearthly beings have to make their way in the Jewish and Syrian communities…

The Copper Promise by Jennifer Williams, Headline, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-477-22111-8.
The caverns in the citadel are mysterious and foreboding… So even if curious, probably better not go there exploring. Yet a trio do…

Happy Hour in Hell by Tad Williams, Hodder, £7.99, pbk. 978-1-444-73862-9.
This follows on from Dirty Streets of Heaven. Now it is Hell's turn to get the Tad Williams treatment. All rather horrific and nasty: should delight his fans. All of which begs the question as to where will we be going next for the final outing?

The Emperor of All Things by Paul Witcover, Bantam, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-50159-2.
Set in a German Georgian period, this is all about clocks and the nature of time… This was hugely recommended by our Mark: see his standalone review of The Emperor of All Things.

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 2014

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

The Future by Al Gore, W. H. Allen, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-753-54050-3.
Covers the socio-economic and political forces that will likely shape the coming decades.

The Improbability Principle by David Hand, Transworld, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-593-07281-3
Why is it that incredibly unlikely phenomena actually happen quite regularly and why should we, in fact, expect such things to happen? What do the Bible and Shakespeare have in common (presumably other than being foisted on Desert Island Disc castaways)? How to win the lottery? Why Apple's song shuffling was made less random to seem more random… Here, in this highly original book - aimed squarely at anyone with an interest in coincidences, probability or gambling – statistician Prof David Hand (Imperial College, London) answers this question by weaving together various strands of probability into a unified explanation, which he calls the improbability principle. (Hmmm. There could well be a star drive in their somewhere Marvin.)

The Little Book of Chocolat by Joanne Harris with Fran Warde, Transworld, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-07281-3
Now, some of you might wonders why a science fact and fiction website is giving an advance notice for a book on chocolate of all things? Well, the answer is simple. British SF fandom has long had an association with chocolate. So much so that when in the 1980s and 1990s the British national SF con and a Eurocon was held in Jersey (Channel Isles) orders had to be placed in advance for the venue's chocolate shop for their high-coco, 1 kg bars lest they sell out, and indeed despite this they still sold out!  Brit SF fans, it seems, have a thing for chocolate.  Regarding this book, Joanne Harris is the author of Chocolat (made into an Oscar-nominated film in 2000, with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp), and ten more bestselling novels.  Fran Warde’s has trained as a chef, worked at the Cafe Royal, on an Australian prawn trawler, ran her own cookery school and then moved into food styling and food writing. She was the food editor at Red magazine and is the author of Food for Friends, Eat, Drink, Live and Thirty Minute Italian. Joanne Harris’s bestselling Chocolat has tantalized readers with its sensuous descriptions of chocolate since it was first published. Now, inspired by the much-loved story of Vianne Rocher’s deliciously decadent chocolaterie, Joanne Harris and Fran Warde have created the ultimate book of chocolate recipes to bring a touch of Lansquenet chocolate fantasy to your kitchen.

The Neutrino Hungers: The Chase for the Ghost Particle and the Secrets of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhanna, Oneworld, pbk, £11.99. ISBN 978-1-780-74326-4.
Why is antimatter so rare? What is dark matter made of…? And other such questions answered (or not as the case may be).

Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss, W. H. Allen, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-753-54147-0.
How the giant food multinationals hooked us into fattening their bottom line.

The Science of Discworld IV: Judgment Day by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, Ebury, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-091-94980-8.
A non-fiction, popular science book delightfully wrapped in colourful Discworld fantasy packaging. Hugely entertaining, thought-provoking, and an aid to seeing the world and Universe (if not universes) with a different perspective that can be illuminating, it is certainly entertaining and surely (as surely as anyone can be in a universe underpinned by quantum uncertainty) falls squarely into that category of being the proverbial 'good read'. See Jonathan's stand-alone review of The Science of Discworld IV: Judgment Day elsewhere on this site.

We are our Brains: From the Womb to Alzheimer's by Dick Swaab, Allen Lane, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-241-00372-5.
Apparently this book has been a tremendous seller in the Netherlands…

Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality by Max Tegmark, Allen Lane, hrdbk, £25. ISBN 978-1-846-14476-9.
A cosmological approach as much as a mathematical one and, apparently, reminiscent of Feynman (presumably without the bongos).

Dot Complicated by Randi Zuckerberg, Transworld, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-593-07350-6
Randi Zuckerberg, social media and technology expert and former marketing executive at Facebook, gives us a useful, essential guide to understanding social media and technology, and how they influence and inform our lives online and off. Technology and social media have changed, enhanced, and complicated every facet of our lives—from how we interact with our friends to how we elect presidents, from how we manage our careers to how we support important causes, from how we find love to how we raise our children. The technology revolution is not going away. We cannot hide from it or pretend that it is not changing our lives in a thousand different ways. So how do we deal with it?

 

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 2014

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Skin Game by Jim Butcher, Orbit, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-356009-4.
Another 'Dresden Files' tale of Chicago's Private Investigator wizard.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of the Smaug – Chronicles: Art and Design by Daniel Falconer and WETA, Harper Collins, hrdbk, £25. ISBN 978-0-007-48727-1.
Over 1,000 images of concept artwork and design as well as development paintings from those who brought you the film.

Horns by Joe Hill, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-12069-3.
Supernatural thriller from the rising (if not established) horror writer star. Here we have a pact with the devil.  The feature film due out stars Daniel Radcliff. This originally came out in 2010 and our Nadia reviewed Horns by Joe Hill.

A Storm of Swords Part 2: Blood and Gold by George R. R. Martin, Voyager, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-48385-3.
This is the second part of the third volume in A Song of Firte and Ice that ties into the Game of Thrones TV series.

47 Ronin by Joan D. Vinge, Melia, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-765-36964-2.
Based on the 3-D fantasy warrior feature film starring Keanu Reeves.

Star Wars: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn, Arrow, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-009-954292-6.

 

[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 2014

SELECTED FORTHCOMING DVD RELEASES

The Big Bang Theory - Season 6 £17.97 DVD and UV version from Warner Home Video.
The latest in the comedy about scientists into SF series.

Doctor Who - The Time of the Doctor & Other Eleventh Doctor Christmas Specials £13.50 from 2entertain.
Includes Matt Smith's final outing. 2-disc set. Excellent value.

Doctor Who - The Moonbase £15.80 from 2entertain.
Patrick Troughton stars as the Doctor in this 1967 TV serial set on the Moon. In 2070 the Doctor and his travelling companions Jamie (Frazer Hines), Polly (Anneke Wills) and Ben (Michael Craze) arrive on the Moon and set out to visit the Moonbase, a manned structure used to control the Earth's weather through a device known as the Gravitron. All is not well on the Moonbase, however, with many of its crew suffering from a mysterious virus..

Riddick £14 from Entertainment One.
The third in the action SF and monster series of films. Betrayed by his own kind and left for dead on a desolate planet, Riddick (Vin Diesel) fights for survival against alien predators and becomes more powerful and dangerous than ever before. Soon bounty hunters from throughout the galaxy descend on Riddick only to find themselves pawns in his greater scheme for revenge…

Game of Thrones - Season 1-3 £45 from Warner Home Video.
The popular fantasy series based on the George R. R. Martin books.

Time Runners £10.00 from Signature Entertainment.
Special Agent Sally Biggs has a secret, she can rewind time - whenever she wants. It's enough to make her a celebrity at the FBI and control almost everything in her life. But when her scientist husband disappears mysteriously, paranormal apparitions begin to surround her before she discovers the terrifying truth.

Colony £8.00 from Entertainment One.
Forced underground by the next ice-age, the inhabitants of Colony 7 struggle to survive below the world s frozen surface. When they mysteriously lose contact with the only other known settlement, Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) decides to lead a dangerous mission into the frozen wasteland determined to discover their fate. When he and his team reach their destination, they discover a threat much worse than nature and must battle to save themselves and protect their fellow colonists in what might be humanity s last stand. This is a by-the-numbers SF horror that has a spectacular setting.

Frost £9.00 from Entertainment One.
At a remote glacier drilling station on the outskirts of the Arctic circle, two young researchers wake up to discover that their station base camp has been mysteriously abandoned with no sign of their team anywhere. As the Arctic weather worsens and darkness descends the base is shaken by ear-splitting screams and flashing lights. Believing these to be signs of their missing colleagues the pair head out into the darkness frantically following a trail of blood in the snow, not knowing what they will find at the other end…

 

See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in this year, 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 2014

R.I.P.

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

Gary Brandner, the US author, has died aged 80 from oesophageal cancer. His novels included Walkers, Mind Grabber and Doomstalker. But arguably his most famous was The Howling, that was adapted to film in 1981. (Actually, the fourth film in the Howling series, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, is actually the closest adaptation to the original novel.

Peter Bogati, the Hungarian SF author, has died aged 87. He was a master of writing with medieval settings. But he also made a very solid contribution to SF especially with the time travel trope. He is perhaps best known for his 1982 novel Az Utolso Ember [The Last Man] about the sole survivor of the final World War. But he is also noted for his short stories.

Michael Burgess a.k.a. Robert Reginald, has died aged 65. Michael Burgess was the person who created Unicorn & Son and the better known Borgo Press which produced non-fiction for a number of years. In 2003 Borgo Press was re-born as an imprint of Wildside Press. In addition, using the name Robert Reginald, he wrote fiction. His best-known non-fiction book is arguably Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature 1975-1991 and Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature: A Checklist, 1700-1974, with Contemporary Science Fiction Authors II.

Malcolm Scott Carpenter, the US astronaut has died aged 88. Entering Project Mercury in 1959, Carpenter served as backup pilot for John Glenn, who flew the first US orbital mission aboard Friendship 7 in February 1962. When Deke Slayton was withdrawn on medical grounds from Project Mercury's second manned orbital flight (to be titled Delta 7), Carpenter was assigned to in his place. He flew into space on May 24, 1962, by a Mercury-Atlas 7 rocket for a three-orbit science mission that lasted nearly five hours. His Aurora 7 spacecraft attained a maximum altitude of 164 miles (264 km) and an orbital velocity of 17,532 miles per hour (28,215 km/h). (In the film, The Right Stuff (1983), Carpenter was played by Charles Frank. Although his appearance was relatively minor, the film included Carpenter's friendship with John Glenn (played by Ed Harris). The film was, of course, based on the book by Tom Wolfe. Scott Tracy in the Thunderbirds television series was named after Malcolm Scott Carpenter.)

John Cloudsley-Thompson CBiol FIBiol FRES FZS, the British biologist, has died aged 92. Having been a tank commander in WWII (he was severely wounded in May 1942, during the Allied defense of the Knightsbridge Box), he developed a career in biology specialising in desert fauna. He was a lecturer at King's in London before, in 1960 becoming professor of zoology at the University of Khartoum, and keeper of the Sudan Natural History Museum. Over his life he penned some 50 books on desert fauna.

Frank Dietz, the US fan and editor. In 1956, with David Kyle, he was one of the founding members (and indeed a President) of the Lunarians. In 1958, he and George Nims Raybin filed a lawsuit against Dave Kyle over funds from the 1956 NYCon. Over the years, he published the fanzines Luna, Luna Monthly, and Science, Fantasy, and Science Fiction. He served on the con committee for Lunacon from 1957 through to 1971. In 2007 he was Lunacon Fan GoH. At the 1957 Worldcon (London) he was inducted into Britain's Knights of St Fantony along with Walt Willis, Bob Silverberg, Terry Jeeves, Bobbie Wild, Eric Bentcliffe, Ken Slater, Bob Madle, Franklin Dietz and Ellis Mills.

Ray Dolby, the US electrical engineer, has died aged 80 of leukaemia. He is was the co-inventor of video tape recording but is best known for devising the noise-reduction system named after himself. He studied engineering in the US but did his PhD in Cambridge in Britain. In the US he played a key role in the effort that led Ampex to unveil their prototype Quadruplex videotape recorder in April 1956. In 1965, he returned to England, where he founded Dolby Laboratories in London with a staff of four. In the same year he officially invented the Dolby Sound System, a form of electronic filter, although his first US patent was not filed until 1969. The filter was first used by Decca Records in Great Britain.

Bobbie DuFault, the US fan tragically died aged 55. She was an avid conrunner of many conventions. She was to have co-Chaired the newly won bid for the 2015 Worldcon.

William Harrison, the US author, has died aged 80. He wrote nine novels and some 50 short stories. He twice adapted his short story 'Roller Ball Murder' for film, both times under the title Rollerball.

Dot Houghton, the British literary agent, has died following protracted illness. In addition to romance novels, she also was an agent for fantasy horror writers. She was for a while married to Brian Lumely. They remained friends after but – and this is a testimony to her capability as an agent – remained is literary agent. Prior to her career as an agent she was an editor with Methuen.

Joel Lane, the British writer, has died tragically young aged 50. He won the British Fantasy Award for his collection The Earth Wire and Other Stories and for his short 'My Stone Desire'. His novella The Witnesses are Gone was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award.

Doris Lessing, the British writer, has died aged 74. With a writing career so far of 62 years, Doris Lessing has written an influential body of science fiction and other works. She has, of course, been recognised for her genre work by fans and was one of the Guests of Honour at the 1987 Worldcon (Brighton, UK). Her genre works include: Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971) which was short-listed for a Booker Award, The Summer Before the Dark (1973), The Memoirs of a Survivor (1974) which became a film (1981), The Fifth Child (1988) and more recently The Cleft (2007). On her SF, many mainstream commentators reporting her Nobel win cited her -- what they call 'sci-fi' -- 'Canopus' series. These explore personal dramas in differing societies on different worlds that are loosely part of the Canopan Empire. The sequence begins with Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta (1979) and includes The Sirian Experiments (1981) which was also short-listed for a Booker Award. Meanwhile most recent news reports have cited her (non-SF) 'breakout work' (excuse the term) The Golden Notebook (1962) that has often been described as a feminist bible. Her body of work, across genres as well as non-genre, has been truly formidable and, when reprinted following her Nobel win, continued to sell well, especially the The Golden Notebook.  Brian Aldiss was on BBC Radio 4's Last Word weekly obituary programme reminding us of Doris' world-weary and human reaction on learning that she had won a Nobel: “Oh Christ! I couldn’t care less.”  In all, she wrote more than 50 novels, as well as numerous story collections, plays, non-fiction, and a book of poetry. She is survived by a daughter and two granddaughters.

Bruce Murray, the US planetary geologist, died back in the summer aged 81. With astrophysicist Carl Sagan and aerospace engineer Louis Friedman, he founded The Planetary Society that now has around 100,000 members.

Adam Nemeth, the US mathematician, has died aged 96. Blind himself, he is best known among blind academics for devising the Nemeth Code of Braille Mathematics. In 2006 this contribution led him to receiving the Louis Braille Award from the International Braille Research Center.

Philip Nutman, the British writer and genre journalist, has died aged 50 in the US where he was domiciled. He is known for being a horror journalist including for Fangoria but also wrote many short stories that have appeared in a number of anthologies. Hos one novel Wet Work (1993) was nominated for a Stoker. He also wrote a dozen screenplays (including the 2007 horror The Girl Next Door) and numerous comic strips. He also occasionally lectured on horror to university arts course students.

Al Pastino, the US comics illustrator, has died aged 92. He drew numerous Superman strips and co-created the character Supergirl as well as and The Legion of Super-Heroes with Otto Binder.

Fred Sanger, the British biochemist, dies aged 95. The double Nobel Prize-winner – he is the only scientist to have been awarded the Nobel prize for 'chemistry' twice – is sometimes known as the 'Father of genomics'. His first Nobel in 1958 was for developing techniques to elucidate out the structure of proteins especially insulin. He was awarded his second Nobel Prize in 1980 for developing Sanger sequencing of DNA. He was awarded one of Britain's highest honours - the Order of Merit (OM) - in 1986. However, he declined a knighthood as he did not want to be called 'Sir' The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridgeshire, for genomics, is named after him.

Elliot K. Shorter, the US fan, has died aged 74. He joined fandom back in the 1960s in New York and was soon also active in Rhode Island's RISFA. His fanac included some conrunning including involvement with Worldcon bids. His standing within the US fan SF community is exemplified by his being a past TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fun) delegate which that year (1970) made him the Worldcon Fan Guest of Honour (not to mention being 6' 4" tall). He was among the Founding Fellows named to the Fellowship of NESFA in 1976. In 1979, he opened Merlin’s Closet, a used and rare SF bookstore, in Providence. Rumour among some have it that he was the model for 'Shorty Mkrum' in Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Graham Stone, the Australian fan, has died aged 87. he was an active fan who won an A. Bertram Chandler Award in 1999 for Outstanding Achievement in Australian Science Fiction. He published the Australian Science Fiction Index: 1939-1962 and the Australian Science Fiction Index: 1925-1967 His fanzine, Notes on Australian Science Fiction ultimately provided material for a book with the same title.

Larry Tucker, the US fan, has died aged 65. He was an active conrunner and chaired or co-chaired three ConFusions from 1978-’80. He also helped ensure the film FAANS got made.

Kenneth Wallis MBE, the British aviator, has died aged 97. He served as Wing Commander with RAF Bomber Command during WWII. But he is perhaps best known in aviation circles for furthering autogyro design and manufacture. He formed his own company for autogyro manufacture and these were used for survey, reconnaissance, research & development and surveillance as well as military purposes. His autogyros came to broader public attention through their appearance in You Only Live Twice in which he doubled as James Bond: he also appeared in several other feature films. Between 1968 and 2002 He set 17 World Records in two Classes of autogyro: 34 in all, and many are still held by him including the speed record of 129 mph. He died in September (2013) just before we posted last season's news summary page.

Colin Wilson, the prolific British writer, has died aged 82. His novel The Space Vampires (1976) was adapted into the film Lifeforce which he considered as the worst adaptation ever. Other works included Alien Dawn (1999) and Starseekers (1980). Nis novella The Return of the Lloigor (1969/1974) and The Tomb of the Old Ones (2002) draws on Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. He also wrote murder fiction and much non-fiction including The Unexplained Mysteries of the Universe (1997). He remained ill following a stroke in 2012. His novel Metamorphosis of the Vampire remains unpublished.

 

[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 2014

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

SF author Jay Lake's genome is now on-line: possibly a first! One of the long-term results of the genetic testing fundraiser SF fans participated in Sequence a Science Fiction Writer (January 2013) , is that the Personal Genome Project is now hosting his complete genetic sequence online as a https://warehouse.personalgenomes.org/tar/2622f6fe48669f66a0c5cc7650a3458a which is a UNIX .tar file. (Do not click that link unless you want to download 200 gigabytes of compressed data.) In other words, his entire genome has gone open source. While he is not absolutely certain this is true, it appears to be the first time that an entire human Whole Genome Sequencing data set has been released open source. (SF2 Concat has notified Nature.) He says on his website, "For my own part, cancer will claim my life soon enough. Releasing my Whole Genome Sequence to the world is one small way I can fight back against the disease. Not directly, of course, but as a way of helping students and researchers around the world become smarter about human health and life in general."

New gender class legal. In addition to male and female, Germany has become the first nation to legally recognise a new gender of indeterminate sex'. This could be something out of a Marge Piercy SF novel. As many as one in 2,000 people have characteristics of both sexes, or 'intersex'. The difficulty for parents is often that a gender has to be chosen rather quickly so that the new born can be registered with a birth certificate. It is hoped that the new law will remove pressure on parents to make quick decisions on sex assignment surgery for newborns. German passports currently list the holder's sex as M for male or F for female, will now have a third designation, X, for intersex holders. However it is not all plain sailing just yet. It remains unclear what impact the change will have on German marriage and partnership laws. Currently marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman, and civil partnerships are reserved for same-sex couples.

Well, that's 2013 done and dusted.  2013 was the year atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration rise passed the 400 parts per million mark. It was also the: 30th anniversary the publication of a paper detailing the first artificial introduction of a foreign gene onto a plant (Herrera-Estrella, L., et al, 1983, Nature, vol 303, pp209-213); 40th anniversary of the Rocky Horror Show at the London West End; 50th anniversary of the first woman in space with Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova's Vostok 6 flight, the death of Aldous Huxley and C. S Lewis; 60th anniversary of the Watson/Crick structure of DNA; 100th anniversary of the elucidation of the structure of salt (NaCl), the creation of the London underground (the transportation system, not the political resistance movement), the founding of Britain's Medical Research Council (the agency distributing governmental funding) and founding of the British Ecological Society (the world's oldest ecological learned society, hence 2013 saw Britain and London host the 4-yearly International Ecology Congress (INTECOL) at the ExCel -- Jonathan was there), the birth of Peter Cushing (genre actor), the Niels Bohr interpretation of the atom's structure (quantum orbitals) and publication of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Poison Belt.

Bring on 2014 and the World SF Convention coming to Britain at the London ExCel.

 

 

[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 2014

End Bits

 

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

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Arno Behrend, Sue Burke, Angel Carralero, Boris Dolingo, Andras Kanai, Alqua Kun and Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf. Thanks also go to numerous Brits and other Europeans who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, 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.   If you feel that your news, or SF news that interests you, should be here then you need to let us know (as we cannot report what we are not told). :-)

The past year (2013) also saw articles from: Sue Burke, Darrell Buxton, Ian Hunter, Roberto Quaglia and Jim Walker.  Stand-alone book reviews over the year were provided by: David Allkins, Mark Bilsborough, Arthur Chappell, Jonathan Cowie, Susan Griffiths, Ian Hunter, Duncan Lunan, Nadia Mook, Peter Tyers and Peter Young.  'Futures stories' in 2013 involved liaison with Colin Sullivan, PDF editing by Bill Parry and included stories from: Tony Ballantyne, Nathan Correll, Joao Ramalho-Santos, and Grace Tang.  Additional site contributions came from: Alan Boakes (webmaster), Jonathan Cowie (news, reviews and team coordinator plus semi-somnolent co-founding editor), Dan Heidel (additional IT and site back-up), Boris Sidyuk (sponsorship coordinator, web space and ISP liaison), Tony Bailey (stationery), Mark Cowling (book transportation) and Graham Connor (sleeping co-founder editor).

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Summer 2014 period – needs to be in before the 2nd week March 2014. 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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[Originally posted 14.1.15 | Contact | Copyright | Privacy | Editorial |Site Origins/History]