Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Spring 2015

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 2015


Though SF2 Concatenation does have a Europe and beyond dimension, its heart is placed within the British Isles. Here, the end of last summer saw much international SF community focus on our isles what with the Loncon3, 72nd Worldcon, in London and the following weekend the 2014 Eurocon (Shamrokon) in Dublin. Then a little later, just a week after we posted Concatenation's last season's (the 2014 autumnal) edition, there was the referendum in Scotland on the question of that country's independence from the United Kingdom.
          Now, we are not going to rehash the pro and con arguments here; suffice to say that with Concatenation regular contributors based on both sides of the border, with two of the core team with Scottish ancestry (for one of whom this includes parental contribution), and with British team members without Scottish links nonetheless included in the possible UK break-up question, the whole referendum issue was something that weighed on many of our minds.
          And here's the thing. Quite clearly our (UK) political system is broke and, without going into detail, the referendum brought matters to a head. If it cannot be fixed then the referendum demographics (far more Scottish youngsters want independence) suggest that any similar future vote could well see the UK fragment. Ignoring possible long-term consequences for formerly-UK constituent countries (be they positive or negative) there would be implications for the British SF community. Let's leave aside the higher book mailing postal bill Concatenation itself would face dispatching works to reviewers in what would be another nation, there would be bigger questions for the British SF community as a whole, not least of which would be what would happen to the British Eastercon? After all, since the 1980 Eastercon there have been nigh on half a dozen Scottish Eastercons and numerous other Scottish conventions that have seen, minority but still substantive, attendance by those from south of the border. And then there is book publishing with the five big SF imprints being located in just one country, not to mention matters such as critical mass for the BBC which has given us much SF over the years from 1984 to Dr Who. Finally, what of the British SF Association and its awards: to whom should it belong and for whom should it serve?
        Given UK constitutional questions are not simply going to go away, we (the British SF community) might do well to consider matters. Everyone surely espouses caring common sense but, no use denying it, in recent years there has been an element of strident 'political correctness' in science fiction fandom. Here some might say that a call for retaining 'Britishness' is some kind of English imperialistic call, but biologically speaking (think DNA, and after all this is the 'Science Fact' & Science Fiction Concatenation) the Britons were part of the first protracted, but significant, colonisation of the British Isles: they were Celts. (Britons should not be confused with the Angles and Saxons who arrived centuries later creating England prior to the Norman conquest.)  Today, the SF community in the 'British Isles' (as distinct from 'Britain's Isles' – do search on both these terms if you are unfamiliar) has contributed much both jointly and separately as well as a bit of both, as the end of last summer so admirably demonstrated. Given the success of the Loncon 3 Worldcon and the Shamrokon Eurocon, given the forthcoming Irish bid for a future Worldcon (which if successful will need the assistance of many UK-based fans), and not mentioning the possibility of another Eurocon elsewhere in these isles within a decade, our SF community does need to think about devolution issues, the implications for our genre, and so contribute to the debate. A nod to our Celtic heritage could just be beneficial?  For the time being at least, the UK is one nation of many countries all potentially reaching for countless stars and betterment. Meanwhile thank you Scotland for ensuring that the myopic and insular inhabitants of the Palace of Westminster were sent the message that UK politics is broke. Your gift in September was truly remarkable.

        Apologies if you live elsewhere and found the above boring.



Our Tony Bailey has swum the English channel! And, if you thought from the previous column above that we do not make the effort to connect with mainland continental Europe, Tony has demonstrated that some of us do and, spectacularly, he most certainly does.  Tony did this almost all by himself (though he sensibly had the obligatory support boat). And actually, we were a bit worried about him.  You see at the SF2 Concatenation dinner at the start of last summer's Worldcon Tony let slip that (despite already having paid attending registration for the event) he would not be going to the Worldcon. When quizzed he muttered something about training on the south coast; all of which seemed too athletic after a pleasant meal and the prospect of five-days of Loncon3 celebrating SF.  Then a couple of weeks later it all became clear when we found out that he had swum the 20 miles (32 km) English Channel separating Britain from France! Perhaps he was not broadcasting that widely in advance that he was going to undertake this feat given what happened in 2007 when he previously made a brave attempt but failed a few miles short. However last season he tried again and this time, leaving Dover, succeeded landing in France at Strouanne.  Our congratulations to Tony, who is certainly made of sterner stuff than the rest of us, and who has now become the oldest person to swim the channel only by breaststroke. Well done that man.

Sad news came in October of Stefan Ghidoveanu. Stefan was not just a leading member of Romania's SF community, his national radio show, Explorers of Tomorrow's World, ran for some 30 years and so surely has to hold the international record for being the longest-running non-fiction SF radio show.  SF2 Concatenation's three founding editors first met Stefan as he was one of our nightly Romanian dinner guests at the four-day Eurocon (also a British Eastercon) in Jersey (Channel Isles) in 1993, shortly after the fall of Europe's Iron Curtain. This short run of dinners, not to mention that SF2 Concatenation's 7th print edition, had a bit of profile at that year's Eurocon, and that in turn led to two of us being fan special guests at the 1994 Eurocon in Timisoara in Romania and all three of SF2 Concatenation's founding editors attend that event. That further led to many things including the First and Second International Weeks of Science & SF.  Stefan therefore was an intrinsic part of the ripples that spread out from that 1993 Anglo-Romanian encounter. More directly, one of us subsequently went on to do a six-part weekly radio slot with Stefan, 'London Calling', in 1994 which accrued a rather odd fan base that in turn generated minor ventures including an article in Romania's armed forces' monthly magazine.  Stefan was gregarious, honest, a hard worker, and a damn decent chap. Concat team members met him at a couple of other Eurocons including in 2001 back in Romania.  We miss him, as does Romania's science fiction community.  (Full obit below.)


Elsewhere this issue…
Aside from this seasonal news page, elsewhere this issue (vol 25 (1) Spring 2015) we have stand-alone convention reports on:-
          … the 2014 British Fantasycon by Ian Hunter,
          … the 2014 Eurocon in Dublin, Ireland by peter Tyers (Our 2nd review of that con),
          … the 25th Festival of Fantastic Films by Darrell Buxton,
          … the 15th French SF Utopiales by Jim Walker,
          … and the 32nd Spanish Hispacon by Sue Burke.
          … There is also our diary of national-level and international SF cons and forthcoming British Isles SF film releases.
And additionally we have:-
          … thirty two (yes, 32!) new, stand-alone, fiction book reviews,
          … as well as a several non-fiction book reviews.
See our What's New page for a full listing of articles and reviews recently posted.  Marvelliant.


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


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

Spring 2015


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 2014 and the best films (with links to trailers you may want to check out). Plus there is a new Elite game out for anniversary..

SF/F Awards presented over the autumn (2014) included: Germany's Kurd Lasswitz Award and Phantastik Prize, Britain's British Fantasy Awards, Canada's Copper Cylinder and Sunburst Awards, France's various Utopiales Prizes, Israel's Geffen Awards, Poland's Jerzy Zulawski Prize, Russia's Zilant Award, Sweden's Finlandia Award, Spain's Stiges Prizes and Ignotus Awards and, of course, the World Fantasy Awards.

Book news of the season – Includes : Gollancz's SF Masterworks get a facelift, Angry Robot is bought, Frankfurt Book Fayre news, usual Amazon latest, new European VAT rules hitting small dealers and the latest digital book trends.

Film news of the season – Includes: that of: seasonal box office highlights, first British SF film A Message From Mars gets restored, Dragon Riders of Perngets a scriptwiter, and links to a variety of short SFnal videos and new film trailers.

Television news of the season – Includes: a comment on the Dr Who blogosphere debate, Real Humans is to come to British TV, Twin Peaks is to return and Lost in Space may return!

News of SF and science personalities includes that of: Brian Aldiss, Greg Bear, Wesley Chu, Harlan Ellison, Jack Kirby, Ann leckie, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Neal Stephenson and Charles Stross. Scientist news of note includes that of James Watson.

Last season's science news includes: that of Europe's leaders turn their backs on science, a new way to reach really high super-collider energies, a new way to measure distances to galaxies, the lastest from the ebola outbreak, AIDS origins traced to 1920s Congo and fresh evidence pointing to a gay gene.

News of last season's SF events includes that of: the London Worldcon and a round-up of links to blog reports.

Major forthcoming SF events include: the 2015 Worldcon, forthcoming Worldcon bids, the 2016 Eurocon in Spain and the 2017 Eurocon bid.


Our short-video clip links section this season includes, a lost Forbidden Planet promotion is found, what 2001: A Space Odyssey looks like to an alien critic, and finally a rather hectic short SF time travel film.  See the section here.

Notable SF books due out over the Spring 2015 include: Mother of Eden by Chris Beckett, The Deep by Nick Cutter, the Futures 2 anthology of short SF shorts, Galaxy Game by Karen Lord, The Forever Watch by David Ramirez, Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds, Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch and Real Children by Jo Walton

Notable fantasy due outover the Spring 2015 include: Half the World by Joe Abercrombie, Severed Streets by Paul Cornell, The Last Dark by Stephen Donaldson, Murder by Sara Pinborought and The Seal of the Worm by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

The Spring saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included… Scientists: Anatoly Berezovoy, Alexander Grothendieck and Paul Vaughan.  And SF/F personalities: Graham Joyce, Stefan Ghidoveanu, Eckhard Swettmann, Stu Shiffman and Claire Walsh.


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 2015



Best SF/F books of 2014? 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). We have a deliberately 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 2014:-
          Afterparty by Daryl Gregory (Tor (US))
In a world where God is a drug, one woman has to get sober. Lyda Rose was one of the neuroscientists who helped create Numinous, which produces the illusion of a personal deity, but since unwittingly overdosing, she has been haunted by her own visions of an angel she calls Dr. Gloria. After a stay in an asylum, she thinks she has put it behind her. Then others start overdosing. Who is still producing the drug, and why..? A stimulating read, plastered with ideas, despite needing a polish in places.
          Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell (Tor Teen)
This is really a juvenile SF read for teens but is sufficiently a cut above the block that we thought we would include it especially as surprisingly it has had little profile over here.  What happens when you turn eighteen and there are no more tomorrows? It is the year 2049, and humanity is on the brink of extinction...Tania Deeley has always been told that she's a rarity: a human child in a world where most children are sophisticated androids manufactured by Oxted Corporation. When a decline in global fertility ensued, it was the creation of these near-perfect human copies called teknoids that helped to prevent the utter collapse of society….
          Tomorrow and Tomorrow (2014) Thomas Sweterlitsch (Headline)
Noire-ish, future detective and cyberpunk story set after Pittsburgh had been blown away by a terrorist bomb. Our protagonist discovers a body in cyberspace among the ruins of Pittsburgh. The story is reminiscent of a modern William Gibson crossed with Paul McAuley in near-mundane SF mode and not to mention the ubiquitous influence of Philip K. Dick. This is classic old-fashioned, new-wave cyberpunk.
          Annihilation (The 'Southern Reach' Trilogy) by Jeff VanderMeer (Fourth Estate)
For thirty years, Area X, monitored by the secret agency known as the Southern Reach, has remained mysterious and remote behind its intangible border – an environmental disaster zone, though to all appearances an abundant wilderness. Eleven expeditions have been sent in to investigate; even for those that have made it out alive, there have been terrible consequences. Annihilation is the story of the twelfth expedition and is told by its nameless biologist.
          My Real Children by Jo Walton (Corsair [Britain], Tor [US])
Patricia Cowan is very old. 'Confused today', reads the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know – what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don’t seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964… This spring it will be coming out for the first time as a British, mass paperback market edition (see below).
          The Martian by Andy Weir (Del Rey)
This is a gripping mundane SF novel.  NASA astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist and mechanical engineer, is left stranded on Mars when the crew of the Ares 3 mission is forced to evacuate their landing site in Acidalia Planitia due to a dust storm with high winds. Thought by his crewmates and NASA to be dead, he is actually alive but now comes the struggle to survive and to make the thousands of miles trek to where the next mission is due to land…  This is a remarkable book not just for its content but because though it only came out from a commercial publisher in 2014, it first came out as a free, chapter-by-chapter book in 2012 on the author's own website. It then migrated to Amazon where its success prompted Crown Publishing to release it in the US and Del Rey in Britain.

On the firmly fantasy front there is:-
          Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes (Harper Collins)
In decaying, crumbling Detroit, a body has been found, but not just any body, it is THE body, or rather, an attempted joining of two bodies, one part human, an African American boy, the other part animal, a deer. Who would do such a warped, crazy, twisted thing? Well, the killer has the perfect excuse or defence because voices told him to do it. The voice of a dream. 'Even killers have dreams' says the front of the book, but perhaps 'even dreams need their killers', and while our killer has got it wrong, wrong, wrong, he has got the bug, he is going to kill and create again and make life from parts of bodies, until he gets it right, and the dream can walk the Earth.
          The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell (Tor)
Having handled occult artefacts, a handful of detectives from Scotland Yard have developed cognitive psychic powers. This is handy with investigations, as they can read auras, and pick up on apparitions. But evil spirits of past and future saturate the city and God-like malevolent entities make villains with knives and guns the least of their worries. This is not The X-Files. When a leading politician is hacked to death on the back seat in his locked door, chauffer driven Rolls Royce, though his chauffer is in the front seat driving, and no one else is in the car, it seems rather a familiar MO – famously, even infamously so…
          The Relic Guild by Edward Cox (Gollancz)
Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us. It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls 100 feet high…
          Kill Baxter by Charlie Human (Century)
The world has been massively unappreciative of sixteen-year-old Baxter Zevcenko. His bloodline may be a combination of ancient Boer mystic and giant shape-shifting crow, and he may have won an inter-dimensional battle and saved the world, but does anyone care? No. Instead he is packed off to Hexpoort, a magical training school that’s part reformatory, part military school, and just like Hogwarts (except with sex, drugs, and better internet access). The problem is that Baxter sucks at magic. He’s also desperately attempting to control his new ability to dreamwalk, all the while being singled out by the school's resident bully, who just so happens to be the Chosen One… This book really does deserve greater recognition.
          Seal of the Worm by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor)
The last in the epic fantasy had its more devoted fans reading the final pages almost tearful in that it was all going to end… With her chief rival cast into the abyss, Empress Seda now faces the truth of what she has cost the world in order to win the war. The Seal has been shattered, and the Worm stirs towards the light for the first time in a thousand years. Already it is striking at the surface, voraciously consuming everything its questing tendrils touch…
          And finally…Dreaming Spheres by Allen Ashley and Sarah Doyle. This is a poetry book. One of our team is really into poetry and so this year we thought we would pass on his tip for fantastical verse to you.
+++ Last year's best books (covering 2013) here.

Best Science Fiction (and Sci Fi) films (and movies) of 2014. Well, there has been the usual debate as to our informal consideration for better or worse and what follows is a very unscientific selection. We have as customary a varied mix (sci fi, SF, mundane SF, fantasy, juvenile SF and horror) for you, so there should be something in our, best of science fiction films 2014, selection for everyone seeking a DVD for the weekend. The below listing is in alphabetical order:-
          Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species… This second in the second re-boot of the 'Planet of the Apes' franchise may well appeal to Hugo Award nominators and if it is not on this year's short-list then you can be your bottom dollar that it will be on the long list.  Trailer here.
          Debug A Canadian SF horror offering.  Six young computer hackers sent to work on a derelict space freighter, are forced to match wits with a vengeful artificial intelligence that would kill to be human… This is a worthy film that aspires to be more than its low budget and it almost makes it, which in turn means that you may want to check it out.  Trailer here.
          The Giver. In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the 'real' world.  The cast includes Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep and is based on Lois Lowry's 1993, juvenile SF novel, so it should appeal to a The Hunger Games and Maze Runner liking teen audience.  Trailer here.
          The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will be a firm favourite with fantasy fans and indeed did very well at the box office (see below film sub-section) and so is a likely contender for a Hugo Award.  Trailer here.
          I Origins. A molecular biologist and his laboratory partner uncover evidence that may fundamentally change society as we know it.   Trailer here.
          Lucy. A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal is mentally altered, turning the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic… Cast includes Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman and Min-sik Choi.  The DVD will be out this season (see below).  This is our action pic of the year.  Trailer here.
          The Perfect 46. A geneticist creates a website that pairs an individual with their ideal genetic partner for children. This is firmly rooted in genuine science and so was arguably the best mundane SF fiction film of last year!  Trailer here.
          Predestination. The life of a time-travelling Temporal Agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time. This technically came out last year (2014) and was shown at a number of film fests. However lucky for us it has a general release early this year both here (Great Britain) and N. America.  Trailer here.
          The Quiet Hour. An offering from the British Isles.  Humans are few and far between since Earth was invaded by unseen extraterrestrial machines that harvest the planet's natural resources and relentlessly kill its inhabitants. In a remote part of the countryside, where starved humans have become as dangerous as the alien machines hovering in the sky, a feisty 19 year old girl, Sarah Connolly, sets out on a desperate attempt to fight back a group of bandits and defend her parents' farm, their remaining livestock, and the solar panels that keep them safe from extraterrestrials. If she doesn't succeed, she will lose her only source of food and shelter; but if she resists, she and her helpless blind sibling will be killed. And if the mysterious intruder dressed like a soldier who claims he can help them turns out to be a liar, then the enemy may already be in the house.  Trailer here.
          These Final Hours. It is the end of the world in one hemisphere and the catastrophe is spreading to the rest of the planet. A self-obsessed young man makes his way to the party-to-end-all-parties on the last day on Earth but ends up saving the life of a little girl searching for her father… This did well on the Fantastic Films Festivals circuit in the latter half of 2013 and early in 2014. It has had a general theatre release in Australia in 2014, but has not had much profile elsewhere.  Trailer here.
          Time Lapse. Three friends discover their neighbour's mysterious machine that takes pictures 24hrs into the future and conspire to use it for personal gain, until disturbing and dangerous images begin to develop…  This is an indie film and a directorial debut for Bradley King. As here he is unencumbered by big Hollywood studio producers' constraints, we get a genuine reflection of this director's abilities: He is one to watch.  This was possibly the best time travel film of the year.  Trailer here.
          Under the Skin. A female drives a van through the roads and streets of Scotland seducing lonely men but is she what she seems to be..?  This teaser does not do this 'contact' film justice. It was extremely well received on the Fantastic Film Fest circuit in 2013 but only got a general release last year (2014). It is a British-US-Swiss SF art-house offering with a basic premise (only) based on Michel Faber's novel.  Trailer here.
          Young Ones. Post-apocalyptic film set a century or so in the future. Climate change has shifted the vegetation belts and so some formerly lush areas have become arid facing chronic water shortages making life tough for the locals…  Trailer here.
          See also Congress below in our video clip tips section. It was inspired by a Stanislaw Lem story.
          And finally, though it had a belated general release in 2014, we did not include Snowpiercer in the above as we previously included it in our other worthies of the 2013/4 year as the DVD had already been out back then. But it is a notable film.
+++ Last year's best films (covering 2013) here.

The 2014 Nobel Prizes for science have been announced. The science category wins were:-
          Physics: Professors Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura (Japan and US) for the invention of blue light emitting diodes (LEDs) hence enabling white light, low energy, LED illumination. (Although red and green LEDs had been around for many years, blue LEDs were a long-standing challenge for scientists in both academia and industry. Without them, the three colours could not be mixed to produce the white light we now see in LED-based computer and TV screens.)
          Chemistry: Eric Betzig (US), Stefan Hell (Germany) and William Moerner (US) for improving the resolution of optical microscopes through super-resolution fluorescence spectroscopy.
          Medicine: John O'Keefe (Great Britain), May-Britt Moser (Norway) and Edvard Moser (Norway) for their discoveries as to how the brain knows where we are and is able to navigate from one place to another that may help explain why Alzheimer's disease patients cannot recognise their surroundings.
          See also last year's 2013 Nobel Prizes.

The 2014 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:-
          Physics: Kiyoshi Mabuchi, of Kitasato University, Japan, and colleagues, for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that's on the floor.
          Psychology Prize: Peter Jonason, of the University of Western Sydney, Australia, and colleagues for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.
          Neuroscience: Kang Lee, of the University of Toronto, Canada, and colleagues for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast.
          Biology: Vlastimil Hart, of the Czech University of Life Sciences, and colleagues for carefully documenting that when dogs defecate and urinate, they prefer to align their body axis with Earth's north-south geomagnetic field lines.
          Economics: The Italian government's National Institute of Statistics, for proudly taking the lead in fulfilling the European Union mandate for each country to increase the official size of its national economy by including revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling, and all other unlawful financial transactions between willing participants.
          Arctic Science: Eigil Reimers, of the University of Oslo, Norway, and colleagues, for testing how reindeer react to seeing humans who are disguised as polar bears.
          Last year's winners here.

Germany's Kurd Lasswitz (Kurd-Laßwitz) Preis was awarded at the Schlosscon (2014) in July. (We should have posted this last season but we weren't sent the news in time.) The principal category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Dschiheads [which translates as Dschiheads] by Wolfgang Jeschke
          Best Foreign Work: In Einer Anderen Welt [Among Others] by Jo Walton
          Best Translation: Margo Jane Warnken for translating: Julie Phillips’ James Tiptree Jr. – Das Doppelleben der Alice B. Sheldon [James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon]
Kurd Lasswitz (1848-1910) of whom the German SF excellence awards are named, was a philosopher, historian of science, and SF writer. He kind of holds the same regard in Germany as H. G. Wells does in the British Isles. The prize is the equivalent of the Nebula's in the US in that it is voted on by German authors, agents, editors and other SF professionals. +++ See the following link for last year's principal category Kurd Lasswitz prize winners.

Poland's 2014 Zajdel Awards were announced during Polcon in Bielsko-Biala. The award is fan voted and the winners were:-
          Best Novel: Cienioryt [a title that does not lend itself to ready translation] by Krzysztof Piskorski
          Best Short Story: 'Czlowiek Nieciagly' ['The Discontinuous Man'] by Anna Kantoch
Cienioryt also picked up this year's Jerzy Zulawski Literary Award.  Last year's awards here.

Poland's third Jerzy Zulawski Literary Awards [Nagroda Literacka im. Jerzego Zulawskiego] for 2014 have been presented. This juried award goes to a winner for their contribution to science fiction as well as to 'Gold' and 'Silver' runners-up. These were:
          J. Z. Winner: Cezary Zbierzchowski for his novel Holocaust F
          Gold: Krzysztof Piskorski for Cienioryt
          Silver Adam Przechrzta for Gambit Wielopolskiego [Wielopolski's gambit].
Jerzy Zulawski (1874 –1915) was a Polish literary figure whose best-known work is the science-fiction epic, Trylogia Ksiezycowa (The Lunar Trilogy) written between 1901 and 1911.

The 2014 British Fantasy Awards have been presented by the British Fantasy Society at Fantasycon in York (Great Britain). The short list for each category was decided upon by nominations submitted by British Fantasy Society members. The winners were then decided upon by a juries for each category.  The winners were:-
          Best Novel (Robert Holdstock Fantasy Award): A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar
          Best Novel (August Derleth Horror Award): The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
          Best Novella: Beauty by Sarah Pinborough
          Best Short Fiction: 'Signs of the Times' by Carole Johnstone
          Best Anthology: End of the Road edited by Jonathan Oliver
          Best Collection: Monsters in the Heart by Stephen Volk
          Best Screenplay: Game of Thrones The 'Rains of Castamere' by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss
          Best Magazine/Periodical: Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace and Kate Baker
          Best Comic/Graphic Novel: Demeter by Becky Cloonan
          Best Non-Fiction: Speculative Fiction 2012 by Justin Landon and Jared Shurin (ed.s)
          Best Small Press: The Alchemy Press
          Best Newcomer: Ann Leckie, for Ancillary Justice
Note: This is the second year in a row that Jonathan Oliver has edited a British Fantasy Award-winning 'Best Anthology' and Jared Shurin for 'Best Non-Fiction'. Last year's British Fantasy awards here.  Anne Leckie and Ancillary Justice, of course, recently won the Clarke, a BSFA Award, 'Best Debut' Locus and the Hugo 'Best Novel' Award but in this case holding up the SF novel Ancillary Justice as fantasy is a bit of a stretch.

Canada's third Copper Cylinder Awards announced in Toronto by Sunburst Society. The awards are decided on by Canada's Sunburst Award Society for books published during the previous year. The award derives its name from the first Canadian scientific romance, A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder by James De Mille (1833-1880). The winners receive a handcrafted, copper cylinder trophy. The Copper Cylinder Awards are a member-vote cousin to the Sunburst Society's juried Sunburst Award (see below item) which is also for previous-year excellence in speculative fiction. The 2014 Copper Cylinder Awards (for 2013 works) winners were:-
          Adult Award: River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
          Young Adult (Juvenile) Award: Homeland by Cory Doctorow

Canada's 2014 Sunburst juried Awards have been announced:-
          Adult Award:Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
          Young Adult (Juvenile) Award: The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint
The winners receive a prize of Can$1,000. The Sunburst Award takes its name from the debut novel of the late Phyllis Gotlieb, one of the first published authors of contemporary Canadian speculative fiction. Launched in 2000, the Sunburst Awards bring together a different panel of jurors annually to select the best literature of the fantastic written by a Canadian. In 2008, the Sunburst Awards added a Young Adult (YA) novel category. Beginning in 2015 and with the assistance of ChiZine Publications (CZP), the jury will also select the best short story written by a Canadian. The first short story award winner will be announced in the autumn of 2015 and will receive a prize of Can$500.

The 2014 Aurora Awards for Canadian Science Fiction were presented at Can-Con34, Vancouver, Canada. The awards are organised by the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association. The principal category wins for the Anglophone Auroras were:-
          Best Novel: A Turn of Light by Julie E. Czerneda
          Best Graphic Novel: Rock, Paper, Cynic by Peter Chiykowski
          Best Related Work: On Spec by the Copper Pig Writers' Society
          Best Artist: Erik Mohr
Note: Two years in a row for Erik Mohr also won the Best Artist Aurora last year.
          Last year's English language Aurora winners here.

The winners of Israel's 2014 Geffen Awards were announced at Icon in Tel Aviv:-
          Best Translated Science Fiction Book: The Devil’s Alphabet by Daryl Gregory
          Best Translated Fantasy Book: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
          Best Translated YA (Juvenile) Book: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
          Best Original Hebrew SF&F Short Story: 'Whisky in a Jar' by Rotem Baruchin
          Best Original Hebrew Book: Every Story is a Sudden Cat by Gabriella Avigur.
The award is named after the late Amos Geffen, one of the first editors and translators of SF in Israel.

Stiges – Northern Spain's 47th Festival of Fantastic Films* – 2014 principal category award winners included:-
          Best Film: I Origins dir. J Mike Cahill
          Special Jury Award: The Babadook dir. Jennifer Kent
          Silver Melies (for Best European film): Goodnight Mommy by Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala
          Audience Award: What We Do in The Shadows dir. Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement
Note: The Babadook also enabled Essie Davis to pick up a 'Best Actress' award.
*Not to be confused with Spain's Festival of Fantastic Films, Stiges is Catalonia's Fest.

Germany's Phantastik Prize was awarded at Buchmessecon (BuCon) (or Book Fayre Con) in Dreieich near Frankfurt. The principal wins were:-
          Novel: Phoenix – Tochter der Asche [Phoenix - Daughter of Ash] by Ann-Kathrin Karschnick
          Debut Novel: Eldorin – Das Verborgene Land [Eldorin: The Hidden Land] by Gaby Wohlrab
          Best Foreign Book (translated to German): Dunkle Halunken
                                                            [published in Britain as Dodger] by Terry Pratchett
          Best (book) Series: DSA - The Dark Eye
          Short story: 'Claire' ['Claire'] by Miriam Schäfer
The 2012 Phatastik Award winners 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:-
          Prix Utopiales Européen (Novel): Sumerki [Sumerki] by Dmitry (Metro 2033) Glukhovsky
          Prix Utopiales Européen Jeunesse (Juvenile SF): Pixel Noir [Black Pixel] by Jeanne-A Debats
Honourable mention: Automne [Autumn] by Jan Henrik Nielsen
          Prix Julia Verlanger: L’Esprit du Melkine [The Spirit of Melkine] by Olivier Paquet
          Prix Extraordinaire: Chris Foss
          Prix de la Meilleure Bande Dessinée de SF (Graphic Novel): Punk Rock Jesus by Sean Murphy
          International Competition of Feature Films: Predestination by Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig (Australia, 2014)
          Prix du Jury Courts (Shorts) Métrages: Reset by Marcus Kryler & Fredrik Akerström (Sweden, 2012)
          Honourable mention: Triad, Bradley Oliver-White (Great Britain, 2013)
          Prix du Public Courts (Shorts) Métrages: The Nostalgist by Giacomo Cimini (Great Britain, 2014)
+++ Last year's Utopiales winners can be found here.

The 2014 World Fantasy Awards were presented at the World Fantasy Con Arlington, Virginia. The various category wins were:-
          Novel: A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar
          Novella: 'Wakulla Springs' by Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages
          Short Story: 'The Prayer of Ninety Cats' by Caitlín R. Kiernan
          Anthology: Dangerous Women edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
          Collection: The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories by Caitlín R. Kiernan
          Artist: Charles Vess
          Special Award – Professional: Irene Gallo (for art direction of and William K. Schafer (for Subterranean Press)
          Special Award – Non-Professional: Kate Baker, Neil Clarke & Sean Wallace, for Clarkesworld
          Lifetime Achievement: Ellen Datlow and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
+++ Last year's awards here.

Russia's 2014 Little Zilant has been awarded at the 24th Festival of Fantasy and Role-Playing Games 'Zilantkon'. It was presented to the fan editors of the fantasy anthology Letters Not of our Time. This year there was no Big Zilant awarded to an author for a major SF/F work. This provides a kind of symmetry with last year in which no Little Zilant was awarded.

Spain's 2014 Ignotus Awards were presented at the 2014 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:Memoria de Tinieblas [Memories of Darkness] by Eduardo Vaquerizo
          Best Spanish Novella: 'Detective' by Rodolfo Martinez
          Best Spanish Short Story: 'El Aeropuerto del fin del Mundo' ['The Airport at the End of the World'] by Tamara Romero
          Best Anthology: Terra Nova 2: Antologia de Ciencia Ficcion Contemporanea [Terra Nova 2: Anthology of Contemporary Science Fiction] edited by Mariano Villarreal and Luis Pestarini
          Best Non-Fiction (book): La 100cia Ficcion de Rescepto [The Hundred Respected Science Fiction Stories a translation that fails to convey the spoken/written pun in Spanish] by Sergio Mars
          Best Article: 'La Ciencia Ficción Española' ['Spanish SF'] by Mariano Villarreal
          Best Illustration: Cover art for Memoria de Tinieblas [Memory of Darkness] by Eduardo Vaquerizo
          Best Audio-Visual Work: Los Verdhugos [The Hugo Hangmen] a podcast by Miquel Codony, Elías Combarro, Josep María Oriol y Pedro Roman
          Best Comic: Espinas [Thorns] by Santiago Eximeno and 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: Scifiworld
          Best Foreign Novel: Embassytown [Embassytown] by China Miéville
          Best Foreign Short Story: 'El Hombre que puso fin a la Historia: Documental' ['The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary'] by Ken Liu
          Best Website: La Tercera Fundación [The Third Foundation] and Cuentos Para Algernon[Stories for Algernon] (tie)
          And finally the short stories The Domingo Santos Award for best unpublished short story, and judged by a jury.
          'La oscura majestad de la Dama Cuervo' ['The Lady Raven's Dark Majesty'] by Juan Angel Laguna Edroso
Eduardo Vaquerizo co-won the 'Best Novella' Ignotus last year. Terra Nova won the 'Best Anthology' Ignotus last year. Los Verdhugos also won Best Audio-Visual last year, China Miéville 'Best Foreign Novel' and Ken Liu. +++ Last year's Ignotus results can be found here.

Sweden's prestigious Finlandia Junior Prize has been awarded to Maria Turtschaninoff. The country’s best-known literary award given to a children’s or YA title, for her literary fantasy novel Maresi. Among a number of her literary influences are: Diana Wynne Jones, Lloyd Alexander, Philip Pullman, Michael Ende, J. R. R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin and C. S. Lewis. About Maresi. The Red Abbey, located on the island of Menos, is a refuge and a community for women and girls. At the Red Abbey everyone is given the freedom to pursue and develop their own talents and areas of interest. Maresi, the main character and narrator, has realized that reading and learning are the two things closest to her heart. One day Jai, a frightened girl, arrives on the island. It is gradually revealed that Jai is running from her father’s senseless fury; she has seen her sister get buried alive for speaking to a young man, and now her father and a crew of thugs are after her. The bravery of Maresi and her friends is put to the ultimate test when they have to fight to defend both Jai and their community.

New Elite game to be released on the 30th anniversary of the original and also three new tie-in Gollancz novels.  1984 was not just iconic because of Orwell, but also because it was in the middle of the home computer revolution, a revolution which, in Britain at that time, was being led by the BBC computer (the same BBC that brought you Adam Adamant, Dr Who, Star Cops, Blake's 7, Out of the Unknown, Hitch-Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy and Survivors): the BBC were pioneering computer education in schools.  And the game to play on the computer that year was the space opera sci-fi Elite complete with rotating space stations and a range of ships all visually rendered in… errr… wire-frame outlines. (It was fun but maybe you had to be there.) The game even came with a Robert Holdstock novella. It is still fondly remembered and so now a Kickstarter crowd-sourcing campaign with some 45,000 backers has enabled a new version of the game with modern graphics to be created in time for the original's 30th anniversary on PCs and around Easter on Macs.  Meanwhile, Gollancz contributed over £13,000 to secure the rights to publish three related books: Elite Dangerous: Wanted (Gavin Deas), Elite: Nemorensis (Simon Spurrier), and Elite Docking is Difficult (Gideon Defoe). The new version of the game and three novels are now out. +++ Other Elite-lilke games are also coming out. These include No Man's Sky and Star Citizen.

New Elite game row over broken off-line promises to KickStarter supporters. Frontier, the company making the new version of the game, raised more than £1.5m through its original KickStarter campaign and since then, has raised a total of £7.5m from more than 140,000 people who have been playing the various beta or test versions of Elite as it is being developed. However many of its supporters wanted a version of the game to be off-line as was the original game. Yet mid-November (2014) Frontier announced that an off-line version of the game that was independent of the internet would not be possible. To say that the game's financial backers were furious would be an understatement: the complaints make up over 500 pages on the Elite game's discussion forums. Michael Brooks, executive producer of Elite at Frontier, said: "A fully off-line experience would be unacceptably limited and static compared to the dynamic, ever-unfolding experience we are delivering," and added, "trust me we didn't sit down and think, 'What would annoy people the most?'" Yet this is exactly what has happened. The original game was a solo experience off-line without anyone mucking in or any external support required from a good, fast internet connection, and many of the new game's financial supporters expected the same with this new version. Unless this is sorted, expect this to damage future fan support for resurrected and re-vamped games.

The new New Worlds magazine is dead… This comes according to a blog entry by the graphic novelist Warren Ellis: we at Concatenation never realised that it had been revived and, apparently according to Warren, others too were oblivious of the re-launch. Anyway, apparently this latest incarnation has died after just two issues, and nobody had even told the original magazine's most famous editor Michael Moorcock that it had been back.  See

The Odyssey Writing Workshop, a programme for fantasy, science fiction, and horror writers. The2015 workshop will be held from 8th June to 17th July at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, United States. Odyssey is an opportunity for writers to improve their work and receive feedback from top authors and editors. Only 15 are admitted and over half the class' alumni go on to make a professional sale. Lecturers for the 2015 workshop include: authors Brendan DuBois, E. C. Ambrose, Alma Alexander, and Alex Hughes; and top literary agent Jennifer Jackson. More information can be found on


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

Spring 2015


Dan Abnett is joining Gollancz with a three-book deal. Dan is known for his writing for small presses (medium-sized publishing houses) as well as for computer games and comics. The three-book deal is for 'The Wield' fantasy trilogy. It takes place in a human-populated society with a vivid, dark ages culture following an ancient and elite band of warriors. The first book will be published in trade paperback and e-book in 2016, with the other two books to follow in 2017 and 2018. Dan Abnett said, "I'm more than a little pleased to be joining the Gollancz list. In my teens, I quickly learned that the sight of one of their classic yellow-covered editions on the shelf of a library or bookshop was a guarantee of an extraordinary reading experience." Gollancz's have acquired World Rights excluding USA.

Brian Aldiss is having his entire oeuvre of short stories published – at least that is the aim – in a number of collections. The first volume covers the 1950s and includes his first published short story which appeared in the Bookseller (the British Isles book trade magazine). Brian started writing shorts for the Bookseller as early on he assisted in a bookshop. These days usually the Bookseller never carries fiction but in September (2014) they reprinted Brian's first story called 'A Book in Time' that originally appeared in 1954. In it a bookshop owner spies a shoplifter… In the course of the story our retailer is transported to the year 2054. The state of the mid-21st century book trade is explored. The quality of paper books are printed on is far better than it was in Britain in post-WWII rationed Britain of the early 1950s. The standard of artwork on book cover was also vastly improved. However there was no foreseeing of electronic publication and the Encyclopaedia Britannica was still being published on paper… The Aldiss series of short collections is coming out courtesy of The Friday Project. +++ Note: There has been some question over the first volume already out covering Aldiss' fiction from the 1950s. A superficial look at the contents and it seems to exclude six stories published in the collection The Canopy of Time published in 1959. However, we understand that these stories are included but under alternative titles. In short this venture to compile all of Brian's shorts does seem to be thorough and a very worthy one.

Lou Anders has resigned from the US publisher Prometheus and his post of its specialist SF/F Pyr imprint's Editorial and Art Director which he has been in of since Pyr's creation 10 years ago. He reported as focussing on writing and his debut novel Frost Born came out from Crown Books in August. Rene Sears, who previously assisted Lou at Pyr, has returned for the interim. Elsewhere word has it that Pyr is facing difficulties and possibly has not been receiving the support it needs from its parent company, Prometheus.

Gillean Anderson has been interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Front Row (16th October 2014) arts programme to promote her new book A Vision of Fire – a fantasy thriller – from Simon and Schuster. Gillean admitted that, despite her co-starring in The X-Files, she was not into science fiction and only provided the outline for the novel which was then fleshed out by the 'sci-fi' (sic) writer Jeff Rovin. Now, if you are an SF reader and so wondering 'who he?', Rovin is actually a thriller, horror, adventure, and mystery writer whose more SFnal offerings seem to be novels based on computer games and films but apparently a 'New York Times bestselling author'.  Rather than the genre or writing, Gillean herself confessed to have been more interested in developing A Vision of Fire's protagonist – a renowned child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara who is a single 'mom' trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lacklustre dating life and who is thrust into fantastical situations – into a character for film and TV; not too distant shades of Scully.  A Vision of Fire itself is book one in the 'Earthend Saga'.

Margaret Atwood was interviewed by BBC News prior to the New Year on her concerns for 2015. She highlighted economic inequality which is increasing and is particularly harmful within countries not just between them. She also predicted that violence against women would increase and that in the West the dying with dignity movement would grow. Finally, she discussed her 'Future Library' venture (which we reported on in last season's news).

Greg Bear has had heart problems that have necessitated emergency surgery. It all went well and now he is home recuperating. Alas, and understandably, he will not be able to undertake his N. American tour to promote his latest book War Dogs. Because of the Amazon action against some publishers (see last season's news) readers are asked to support Greg by buying War Dogs (ISBN 978-0-316-07283-0) from their local bookshop or direct from the publisher. Stand-alone reviews of some of his works on this site include: Blood Music , City at the End of Time, Darwin’s Children, Dead Lines, Hull Zero Three, Legacy - Greg Bear, New Legends, Vitals: Never Say Die and Quantico.

Ray Bradbury belongings fetch US$493,408 (£306,500). The auction came following Ray Bradbury's demise two years ago. Among the top selling pieces was the Dean Ellis' painting of a naked, tattoo-covered man sitting atop a tiny wooden platform under a red sky that was used for the 1969 cover of short story collection The Illustrated Man that went for US$45,894 (£28,500).Ray's 2006 Hugo Award went for US$28,734 (£17,800): Peter Weston has not commented. Also among Ray's possessions were an inscribed spade formerly owned by Irish Playwright George Bernard Shaw and a rambling unpublished poem about the garden tool, that together sold for US$6,250 (£3,800)… Time to queue the Hugo Award-nominated song.

Wesley Chu has re-signed with Angry Robot for a substantive six–figure deal for three books. The new standalone series starts with The Rise of Io, to be published August 2016. Although The Rise of Io is set in the same warring Genjix and Prophus universe as the 'Lives of Tao' books, this brand new series will open the Quasing world to new readers as well as fans of 'The Rise of Tao'. Given Angry Robot has got new owners, the size of the deal suggests confidence in the imprint.

Harlan Ellison unfortunately had a stroke in October. This left him paralysed on one side. Recent years have seen the core Concatenation team too familiar with the impact of a stroke and so our heartfelt sympathies go to Ellison and his family, as well as wishes for as full a recovery as possible. He is now back home which is a good sign. +++ Harlan recently published his 114th book.

Silviu Genescu is one of a number of mainland continental European authors whose works form a World Science Fiction Course at Bowdoin College (Brunswick, Maine, US). Other authors whose work is on the course include: Herbert Franke, Anatoly Dnieprov, Julian Kawalec, Lino Aldani, Sandro Sandrelli, José Maria Gironella, Stanislaw Lem, Italo Calvino, Luigi Cozzi, Ilya Varshavsky, Strugatsky Brothers, Primo Levi, Tor Age Bringsvaerd, Gérard Klein, Vladlen Bakhnov, Sam Lundwall, Wolfgang Jeschke, Josef Nesvadba, Ion Hobana, Valerio Evangelisti, Sergey Lukyanenko, Karin Tidbeck and Goran Konvicni. There are also writers works from elsewhere including: Argentina, Mexico, India, Israel and Japan. Surely a worthy course.

Gary Gibson has had his first foreign, non-Anglophone rights sale. It is for his 9th novel Extinction Game which will be published in French by L’Atlante. Our congratulations especially as Extinction Game is a cracking novel.

Mark Hamill, he who played Like Skywalker, is to reprise his 1990 Flash TV character as the villain 'The Trickster' in episode 17 of the new The Flash series.

Stephen Hawking the physicist and one-time The Big Bang Theory guest star, warns of artificial intelligence threat to humanity. See the item in the 'Science & Science Fiction Interface' section below.

The Late Jack Kirby's estate has begin to see the fruits of winning the battle for him to be recognised as the co-creator of Marvel Comic's: he was credited as being co-creator in editions of X-Men, Fantastic Four and Captain America in November (2014). The estate won the legal battle earlier this year and now Marvel have begun to include a credit to Jack in each issue. Previously only Stan Lee was acknowledged.

Dave Langford has had a successful eye cataract operation. Congratulations. Now he needs new glasses.

Ann Leckie has had Ancillary Justice optioned for a TV series by Fabrik and Fox Television Studios. Now this is interesting, and how are they going to handle the gender ambiguity..?  But before we get too carried away, let's remember that being optioned, while providing some dosh for the author, does not in itself guarantee the novel(s) coming to the small screen.

Tannith Lee to have twin book launch at British Eastercon (see item in fandom subsection below).

Ursula K. LeGuin has been awarded the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards. Her short acceptance speech is on YouTube.

George Lucas has not seen, and will not watch the teaser for J. J. Abrams Star Wars: The Force Awakens as reportedly "it’s not in the movie theatre. I like going to the movies and watching the whole thing there. I plan to see it when it’s released."  Within two weeks of its release on YouTube it had over 50 million downloads.  So it is not a case of Lucas being jealous of Abrams regaining the public Star Wars following subsequent to Lucas' disappointing-to-some second trilogy…

Ken MacLeod gave a short presentation on national BBC Radio 4 Sunday lunchtime news being introduced as a Scottish 'sci-fi' (sic) author who writes about the future. Ken gave us his take on the recent Scottish governance (independence) referendum. He opined that the Scots had broadly split into two camps. Scotland has become more left of centre than England which is right of centre, and that the Scottish National party (SNP) has become mainstream: so much so that it could possibly influence the make-up and direction of the next UK government. This group he describes as the 'left popularist'.  The second camp consists of all those who voted against independence in the referendum. To these, the United Kingdom makes sense for all countries within the union.  He concluded that our new political leaders will need to appeal to both these camps.

Adam Nevill has had Serbian rights sold for Last Days to Laguna. Last Days followed Apartment 16 and The Ritual into publication in the UK by Pan Macmillan in 2012, and the latter won the British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel of the year.

Audrey Niffenneger has revealed that she is writing the sequel to The Time Traveller's Wife .

Jerry Pournelle had a small stroke in mid-December. The news comes via  Ansible from Alex Pournelle that he's recovering well and 'In a twist of fate far too strange to put into fiction, Jerry ended up in the exact same room as did Harlan Ellison a month earlier, after his own stroke.'

Alastair Reynolds has been promoting The Economist magazine by commenting on near-future technology. Here is the short video here.

Benjanun Sriduangkaew, a female, up-coming SF author based in Thailand has been outed as 'CrackedMoon', 'RequiresHate', 'Winterfox' and 'Pyrofennec' among other possible online personae who have reportedly stalked, harassed and threatened members of the SF/F community who disagree with her purportedly pro-feminist, pro-gay/LGBT, pro-person-of-colour views saying that they should be raρed by dogs, dismembered and/or have acid thrown in their faces. Taking advantage of the current (and welcome) progressive moves within the SF/F community (that alas occasionally veer to stridency) she has apparently attacked those who might be seen to be her competitors. It is very difficult to make this up, to the point that the story is almost post-modern.  US engineer and SF writer Laura J. Mixon has charted some (just some) of what has happened: see Sriduangkaew must, of course, be responsible for her own actions. Nonetheless, part of how far she got comes from both the support given and lack of criticism raised that in no small part stems from those PC stridents of the otherwise welcome recent progressive moves within the SF community: become fervent and you risk taking your eye off the ball. (Some [including some whose standing within the community is such that arguably they might be expected to know better] uncritically supported Sriduangkaew comments, admittedly before they realised what was going on, but then that was Sriduangkaew's game.) Understandably, biologist and SF author Peter Watts would like to know where were, the past three years, all the self-proclaimed champions of the disenfranchised, all those defenders of up-punching, all those opportunists who supported one or more of Sriduangkaew and her personae, the folk who are so busy now disavowing the whirlwind they helped sow?  Others fared worse.

Neal Stephenson has been interviewed by the science journal Nature ( vol. 513, p170-1). On being asked what sparked his interest in SF he cast back to his youth growing up in a university town, Ames (Iowa, US) where his father was an electrical engineer and many in the family circle of friends had a PhD. And of course, when young he read a lot of comics and SF. He attends a few science meetings which not only gives him a handle on the science but also a sense of personalities behind the ideas. He is surprised about the degree of anti-science in the US today and noted wryly that he grew up attending a Methodist Church 'filled with professors who would never have questioned the validity of evolution'. He thinks that ' a lot of opposition to global warming is not about science' but fear that admitting to it will 'open the door to excessive regulation by the government'. He has currently contributed to the anthology Hieroglyph which was born out of the Arizona State University in Tempe's Center for Science and the Imagination. Hieroglyph's stories are optimistic and written by 20 visionaries positing attainable technologies for young engineers.

Charles Stross has turned 50 and gives us half a century's worth of wisdom. He notes that Terry Pratchett opined, "inside every old man there's an 8 year old wondering what the hell just happened".  Stross' Rule 1: "don't die".  Rule 2: Idiots are everywhere: fixing their idiocy is not your problem (unless it really, really is).  Rule 3: It is probably the Golden Rule, in the original (non-Jesus) formulation: do not do unto others that which would be repugnant were it done unto you. Honourable exceptions for self-defence (as long as you didn't start it) and Being Right on the Internet, as long as you do not wallow to excess in 'Being Cruelly Right on the Internet. Ahem. No, seriously, a lot of things would be a whole lot better if we all just tried not to inadvertently stomp on each other's corns…' Thank you Charles, and happy half-century.

Vernor Vinge, the US author, has received a Special Prometheus Award for 'Lifetime Achievement' from the Libertarian Futurist Society. The presentation was made at the regional US convention Conjecture, in San Diego, California. This is only the second a Lifetime Achievement award has been presented by the Libertarian Futurist Society. Poul Anderson received the first in 2001. He is particularly known for his Hugo-winning novel A Fire Upon the Deep (1992) and for popularising the concept of a developmental 'singularity' which also features in some of his fiction. It is this last that is particularly behind the society's thinking in granting this award. Of science fact and science fiction concateneer note, Vernor Vinge is not just an SF author but also a professor of mathematics (at San Diego University).

James Watson, the British co-discoverer of DNA's structure, has sold his Nobel Prize medal. Nobel medals have previously been sold, including Francis Crick's (one other co-discoverer of DNA's structure) that fetched US$2.27 mullion (£1.4 million) in 2013. However Watson's sale is the first by a living Nobel laureate. And what did it go for? US$4.1 million (£2.6m) at auction


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 2015


The autumn's SF/F box-office hits included in order of release:-
          The season began with The Boxtrolls stop-motion 3D animation topping the British Isles (UK and Ireland) box office in its first week of release mid-September with takings of £2,000,597.  See the trailer here.
          The Maze Runner, based on the series of best selling juvenile SF novels by James Dashner, debuted at the top of the North American (Canada and US) box-office with US$32.5m (£19.9m) weekend takings.  See the trailer here.
          Mid-October and Dracula Untold, starring Welsh actor Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper and Sarah Gadon, took US$23.4 million (£14.5 million), in the N. American box office its opening weekend making it the top N. American SF/F/H film and second in the charts (beneath the non-SF/F Gone). Dracula Untold fictionalises Romanian Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler) and the story of how he became the vampire Dracula. Acting against threats to his kingdom and his family, Vlad Tepes makes a deal with dangerous supernatural forces while trying to avoid succumbing to the darkness himself.  See the trailer here.
          November's box-office film of the month was Interstellar which did well in both North America and British Isles spending more than a week at the top of their respective charts and remaining in the top ten charts for much of December. Interstellar is wonderful cinematic space-travel eye-candy but Christopher Nolan tries too hard to emulate Stanley Kubrick (and fails) with the film being overly self-reverential and rather preachy. It also fails being SFnally naïve (with a morally dubious sub-text of leave-the-Earth's-environmental-degradation-problems-to-future-generations) and is at three hours way far too long.  See the trailer here.
          The last half of November saw the year's biggest grossing opening weekend debut in both the British Isles (UK and Ireland) and N. American (Canada and US) with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1. The third film of the franchise, made £12.6m in the British Isles, making up two out of every three tickets sold! In N. America, Mockingjay made £79m (US$123m), a drop from last year's Hunger Games film, Catching Fire, which took £100m (U$152m) with its debut weekend.   See the trailer here.
          December saw The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies open at the top of both the N. American (Canada and US) and British Isles (UK and Ireland) box offices. It remained at the top of both the British Isles and N. American box offices for three weeks.
          2015 began began with a look back at 2014. The Lego Movie was the top film of the year in the British Isles taking for its makers £34.3m. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies came a close second taking £33.5m. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes came third taking £32.7m. However the most striking thing about the British Isles box office top ten for the whole year is that all but one  of the films are science fiction or fantasy!

First feature-length British SF film restored: A Message From Mars!  The 1913 film survived in the collection of the BFI (British Film Institute) National Archive as two shortened versions with significant imperfections in the third reel and a number of missing scenes. Scans from these copies were combined with a tinted and toned print from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art to bring the film back to its original running time. Restoration specialists spent over six months working to identify the missing scenes from each copy and produce a new master the applied colours of the original prints meticulously reproduced.

A new version of 1984 is being made. Scott Rudin is producing and Paul (Bourne Supremacy) Greengrass is to direct.

First Dragonriders of Pern film gets scriptwriter Sarah Cornwell. We previously announced that Warner brothers had acquired the series' rights. Now it has been announced that mystery novelist Sarah Cornwell will write the first, Dragonflight, film's script. She has adapted the supernatural thriller The Forest to the big screen and its general release is anticipated for January 2016. She is currently adapting Jennifer Percy’s Demon Camp. Dragonflight is the first of 22 Pern novels and so if successful Warner's will have plenty more grist for their mill.

Stephen King's The Stand possibly to be four films. Josh Boone had been hoping for a single film of King's 1978 post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy that was re-released in an expanded form in 1990. The Stand was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1979, and was adapted into both a television miniseries for ABC. The novel sees a weaponised influenza virus wipe out most of humanity, but it transpires that other dark forces also are at work…  Warner brothers has apparently asked Boone to make four films.

Star Wars preliminary teaser trailer out. And, of course it went viral. If you missed this short, 88-second teaser for the next 2016 film then it is here. (George Lucas reaction in SF & Science Personalities section above.)

Star Trek 3 has new director and is possibly slated for 2016.  J. J. Abrams, who made the first two reboots, has stepped down to make the new Star Wars film. Roberto Orci was to have been the new director but he has pulled out but is apparently still co-writing the script. The new director is Justin Lin who is best known for four of the Fast and Furious films. There has been speculation that the third film will come out in 2016 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek television series' first broadcast.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!: Bringing together last season's top science news and SF, this is a riff on ESA's Rosetta mission. And, indeed, ESA had a hand in making this small film which was made for he British Film Institute’s celebration of Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder, at the Southbank, London which in turn contributed to the rather excellent film programme at the 2014 Worldcon.  See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Forbidden Planet six-minute, promotional TV item broadcast back in 1956 with Walter Pidgeon (Dr. Mobius) and... Robbie the Robot. originally shown in breaks in the middle of Captain Courageous, this was posted on YouTube curtsy of Loup Dargent.  See the item here.

Film clip download tip!: How would 2001: A Space Odyssey appear to an alien film critic?  See the short analysis here.

Film clip download tip!: Time Travel Lover ten-minute short, romantic comedy short film directed by Bo Mirosseni with Elisha Yaffe who wrote the screenplay, and Stephanie Hunt with Craig Anton. It's fun.  See the short film here.

Film clip download tip!: Aliens Night seven-minute short. a close encounter between a girl and some aliens just arrived on the Earth. Almost unbelievably this was shot on a zero budget!   See the short film here.

Film clip download tip!: Phoenix9 is a short proof-of-concept post-apocalyptic, AI takeover film. After a global nuclear war has turned earth into a scorched wasteland, struggling survivors discover a secret installation that offers a new beginning - but not without a catch. German Amir Reichart & Peer Gopfrich are hoping that this will spark interest in a full feature film.  See the item here.

Film clip download tip!: 'Batman Evolution' is a six-minute video of the Piano Guys rendition of the various Batman theme music starting with the 1960s TV series through to the various films. A great way this year (2014) to mark the Batman's 75th anniversary. Skilful stuff.  See the item here.

Film clip download tip!: An SF short made to pitch a proposed SF television series. With echoes of Mad Max, on a post-apocalyptic Earth, Leila Dawn (Natalie Floyd), is the only human survivor. Raised by Robots after humanity abandoned the planet they destroyed with nuclear warfare, Leila cannot forget her parents nor ignore her yearning to find other organic life. A hunt she sets out on with a Military Unit, Marker (Lex Cassar), leads Leila to discover the reality she’s been denied… See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Children of the Machine is a forthcoming webseries. In the near future (2025) an addictive cybernetic implant becomes all the rage with the young… The idea sprang from considering present-day computer game and internet addiction. Could this web series be the next H+?.  See the five-minute promotion here.

Film clip download tip!: Ex Machina trailer. Alex Garland wrote and directed this: Alex being the screenwriter for 28 Days Later and Sunshine. What would it be like creating a truly human-like artificial intelligence?   See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Congress trailer. This 2014 film is based on a story from the SF grandmaster Stanislaw Lem.  A woman agrees to be one of the first to enter cyberspace… Could this be one of the best films of 2014? This did not make our best films of 2014 list above as none of us have yet seen it, so you decide.  See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Terminator Genisys trailer. The next in the Terminator franchise is slated to premiere July, 2015, directed by Alan Taylor. See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Marvel vs DC Epic fan-fic trailer. This homemade trailer came out just before Christmas and postulates a film in which the DC and Marvel superhero universes merged… See the trailer here.


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

For a reminder of the top films in 2013/14 (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 the year 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 2015


Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks get a facelift. The series accompanies the separate one of SF Masterworks. Now Fantasy Masterworks is having new livery starting in the New Year. There will be a new title once a month both as a paperback at £9.99 and also an e-book. This news will be of interest to younger fantasy book readers who have started collecting and wish to seek out excellent past works especially those of urban fantasy and so-called 'literary' fantasy.

Angry Robot SF imprint bought by American entrepreneur Etan Ilfeld. This follows the news last season that the juvenile SF/F Strange Chemistry imprint of publisher Angry Robot Books had been closed but that Angry Robot would continue. Angry Robot will now be part of Ilfeld's Watkins Books and Watkins Publishing group which is to be rebranded as Watkins Media Limited. Angry Robot will be in hiatus during the transition but hopes to resume publishing following Easter. The overall new owner, Etan Ilfeld, is described as a 'die-hard sci-fi fan'. We understand that Marc Gascoigne will continue with Angry Robot.  +++ See also Wesley Chu news above.

Frankfurt Book Fayre less gloomy but not buoyant. The informal word has it that this year's Frankfurt Book Fayre was as gloomy as recent years and so perhaps we are seeing the light at the end of the recession. Having said that, trade was not particularly active outside of the major publishing houses. The one success was for New Zealand's publishing industry as New Zealand was this year's Guest of Honour. Its presence was bolstered by NZ$6 million (£2.87m) from: publisher sponsorship; the Ministry for Culture and Heritage; the governmentally supported agency Creative New Zealand, and the nation's lottery. This enabled 82 New Zealand authors to be present. There was much interest from German publishers in what NZ had to offer with 116 titles sold to that one nation (that is 10 times what NZ usually sells to Germany at previous recent Frankfurts). There were 85 sales to other territories. NZ is now to be GoH at this year's (2015) Taiwan International Book Exhibition.

SF/Fantasy titles of interest at this year's Frankfurt included:-
          Circle of Stones by Catherine Fisher. It is a juvenile SF novel concerning a time slip and is set in the present as well as the 18th century and prehistoric times.
          Weathering by Lucy Wood is a debut about memories, mothers and ghosts.

Authors United call for the US and Europe to "protect the market place from domination" by Amazon. Authors United have also called for Amazon to resolve its dispute with Hachette Books in the US. These calls followed an open letter in The New York Times in August… And then…

The Amazon and Hachette dispute is now over (for now). This builds on last season's news. Amazon wanted to retain a larger proportion of sales of Hachette e-book titles while at the same time to lower e-book prices; in short, make e-books cheaper but more at publishers' (and authors') expense than its own. Details of the multi-year deal are unclear but according to the New York Times it 'publisher control over most of its book pricing', whatever that means. Hachette, the US's fourth-largest book publisher (and its overarching company also operates in Britain being the ultimate owner of a number of publishing houses). A few weeks earlier Amazon had signed an agreement with another US publisher Simon & Schuster (that also has a European manifestation) over the pricing of e-books and some think that the arrangement with Hachette is similar. +++ More Amazon news below…

The new European VAT begins to make Amazon more equal, but there is a still a long way to go. The new European law on VAT (Value Added Tax) begins to even up matters between the likes of Amazon and Kobo, and traditional selling mechanisms such as bookshops and National Book Tokens. Up to now e-books attracted 20% VAT in the UK but the likes of Amazon and Kobo have only had to pay 3% as their HQs are based in Luxembourg. Yet from the New Year all e-book sales in the UK (even if the HQ is based elsewhere) will attract 20% VAT.  The impact is not going to be trivial. 85% of all e-book sales in the UK are through Amazon and this move is likely to see Luxembourg lose somewhere around €800 million a year. Conversely, the UK and Germany are each likely to gain €350m. The UK is estimated to gain over £1 billion over five years, and last year Amazon only paid £4.2 million on £4.3 billion of UK sales.  There is a fear that in response Amazon will squeeze publisher margins even harder.  However despite this VAT equalization, there is still a long way to go before Amazon is fairly competing with traditional booksellers on a level playing field. Amazon has in the past been accused of not paying its fair share of tax, its employment practices and bullying small publishers. Until issues like these, and having the same publisher discounts as do book chains, are addressed then bookselling in Britain cannot be said to be truly fair. Meanwhile, though this levels things up for bookshops, those small e-book sellers that use Amazon are going to have to sort out their tax arrangements and many small e-book sellers (not just those that have got into bed with Amazon) may find the new arrangements too taxing to continue.

Digital book trends: The Booksellers Association's 5th annual report on digital trends is out. Aside from the continuation of recent years' background trend of the growth of e-books getting less (presumably the British Isles is approaching a steady-state balance between physical and e-book sales), there are two key bits of news. Contrary to the hype over self-publishing, it is not a good route to sales. Half of the self-published e-book titles in the British Isles sell less that a thousand units and 74% less than 5,000.  Secondly, the iPad has now overtake then Kindle with 41.9% now using iPad compared to 37.9% of those surveyed using Kindle.

Christmas is good for backlist sales. The data for October, November and December sales for the past five years show that this time of year is particularly good for backlist sales. People seem to be thinking, I liked that book; I'll get it for so-and-so for Christmas. The data also shows that people are more prepared to pay the full price for a backlist title than a new one over these months.

The Waterstones book chain has a new look website. The facelift has been twice deferred and was finally left until after the Christmas/New Year period. Lessons were learned from the M&S website facelift that saw that firm lose 8.1% of monthly sales in the Christmas period as its customers were forced to re-register with the new site.  Waterstones recently announced that it would only be stocking recent titles. So what better way to pick up an author's backlist titles than through the bookshop's website; better that than through publisher-squeezing and tax reluctant online-only mega-giant retailers.

Authors are urged to use YouTube to greater effect. Authors are not getting the best out of YouTube, authors and publicists are told at a meeting held at YouTube's London offices. Too many authors hype in what comes across as an amateurish sales pitch. Now, there is nothing wrong in being amateurish, but it is best to focus on what might essentially be the book's back cover contents teaser. YouTube also revealed that its most viewed book-related content come from readers – 'Book Tubers' – who discuss what they are currently reading.

The Lovecraft zine is to start publishing books. The US-based site is recognised as being the principal one for things to do with H. P. Lovecraft and also Lovercraftian-type dark and weird fantasy fiction. The site has around 175,000 unique visitors a month (which, for comparison, dwarfs British-based Concatenation's 15,000). And now it is to start publishing books. Its webmaster, Mike Davis, is reported as saying is not out to compete with small presses but simply to provide another outlet for quality dark fantasy and new weird fiction. He stresses that he will focus on quality and not quantity, which we interpret as him not planning to rush many books out. Nonetheless, he is seeking submissions of novel and novella length fiction as well as short stories for anthologies. He also plans to bring out some reprints of past works.

Do vinyl records sales tell us anything about e-books vs. paper books? Vinyl record sales started to fall in 1996 and this downward trend continued into the 21st century as music went electronic with i-Phones, internet streaming to PCs and recently to pads via wifi. One common view is that paper books would be similarly displaced by e-books and the digital march… Except vinyl records have been coming back! Back in 2009 UK sales of vinyl records were only £3 million. However since then they have been climbing; people realise that there are benefits to vinyl notwithstanding better quality sound and listening experience. By the end of October 2014 UK vinyl record sales reached one million units sold at a total retail value of £20 million. With the growth of British e-book sales slowing and the decline of the physical paper book market slowing, could we be seeing either the first signs of a new steady-state balance between e-book and physical book publishing, or the start of a physical book resurgence. Physical books have a permanence, greater beach proofing and lower theft-value risk than e-readers: the march to digital could be coming to an end?


More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in April 2015. 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 2015


Comment: Dr Who new series appeared to be off the rails: Moffat defensive. When originally pitched in the 1960s Dr Who was meant to be educational. However, the autumnal series debuting Peter Capaldi has had a number of episodes that left the science far behind. It is not that Peter Capaldi is a bad Doctor (we have to give the man a chance to settle in) but for anyone with school-level knowledge of science it is the new season's scripts that are more than a little irritating. Notwithstanding having to battle Dalek antibodies, matters were brought to a head with the season's seventh episode, 'Kill the Moon'. Among a number of falsehoods and inanities, in it we learned that the Moon was just 100 million years old, that giant, single-celled bacteria could look like multi-celled spiders complete with web-spinning capabilities, and that – in a burst of spontaneous mass creation – Moon-sized creatures when born would depart and immediately leave behind a Moon-sized egg.  Peter Harkness was the writer irresponsible for 'Kill the Moon' but the series' overall script editor, Steven Moffat, must take the large share of the blame. Our prediction: it is unlikely this year for any three or four multiple Hugo Award nominations for Dr Who in the 'Dramatic Presentation Short Form' category as they have previously been each year the past few years… And yet among the dross there are some plot and actor intriguing episodes, such as Jamie (F.A.Q. About Time Travel) Mathieson's 'Mummy on the Orient Express' that featured comedian Frank Skinner as the train's engineer (potential future travelling companion if ever there was one), a delightful jazz rendition of Queen's 'Don't stop me now', and an excellent monster… And then the following week we had Jamie Mathieson's only other contribution to the season with 'Flatline' that, with bags of sensawunda, saw an incursion from two-dimensional planes and the TARDIS shrinking in size. These were in sharp contrast to much of the rest of the season. The 2014 Christmas special, 'Last Christmas' was inventive and logical, albeit with key questions left unanswered. But this by itself does not redeem Moffat. Indeed though this attracted some 6.34 million UK viewers on Christmas Day (the Queen's annual message topped Christmas Day viewing with 7.82 million), this compares with the 8.3 million that watched Matt Smith bow out as the Doctor Christmas Day 2013 (even beating the Queen that year).  So, what are we to make of it all?  Dr Who's current lead-writer and editor, Steven Moffat, said to TV & Satellite Week magazine that concerns were that Dr Who had become 'too dark'. Yet on the Blastr website (formerly SciFi Wire) the site's visitors' comments reveal that it was the scripts and storylines themselves that were weak with no complaints as to their darkness.  +++ Jenna Coleman is to continue playing the part of Doctor Who's assistant Clara Oswald at least for another series of the show. Good news.

Successful Swedish SF series Real Humans version to be made by British TV. Microsoft's Xbox Entertainment Studios has teamed up with Britain's broadcaster Channel 4 for hour-long, eight-episode series Humans. We have previously reported on the successful Swedish original series Real Humans made by Sveriges Television and Matador Films. The new version, Humans, is set in a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a 'synth' -- a highly developed robotic servant eerily similar to its live counterpart. In the hope of transforming the way they live, one strained suburban family purchases a refurbished synth only to discover that sharing life with a machine has far-reaching and chilling consequences.

Childhood's End mini-series' shooting has started. Shooting began in Melbourne back in November. The six-part mini-series is thought to have a production budget of Aus$20 million. It is, of course, based on the A. C. Clarke classic novel.

Twin Peaks to return with new season. The 1990 cult, fantastical detective series is to return with a new, third season. The original series concerned the death of a young woman, Laura Palmer, in the small, mid-US town of Twin Peaks, and the investigation by a special FBI agent Dale Cooper. The series had an undercurrent but firm fantasy thread together with much up-front eccentricity of the locals who, it is revealed, lead double lives. If you were not around in the early 1990s then you could be forgiven for not knowing about the considerable public (not just fan) interest in the first season. The second season was not so well received and seems to have been written in a hurry to build on the unforeseen, runaway success of the first season. However, after a two-decade rest we can hope that the shows creator, David Lynch, has put in much thought. It did though have more of a fantastical element. If the new show can generate just half the interest the first season did then this will still be a huge success. The new season is slated for 2016. Here is a teaser trailer for those who missed the theme tune.

Supergirl TV series forthcoming. Apparently CBS had greenlit the venture. Currently there is no SF/F TV series with a female lead, though the Jessica Jones series will do so. The closest to a speculative fiction series currently with a female lead is iZombie though that arguably is more a police procedural.

Superman prequel series, Krypton, mooted. The word is that David S. Goyer and Ian Goldberg are developing a pilot for a Superman prequel series set on Krypton and following the story of Superman's grandfather, Jor El's father. At the moment DC's Batman prequel series, Gotham, is doing wel as are other DC Comics' series, Arrow and Flash; plus there is Supergirl above in development. If the pilot is liked then SyFy will be interested in screening the series.

Syfy Channel renews Defiance and Dominion.  Defiance is set in the near future, future, following the arrival of alien races on Earth. The series is a spin-off the Defiance computer game.  Meanwhile Dominion is a supernatural thriller set in a post-apocalyptic future and based on characters from the 2010 film Legion.

Under the Dome and Extant have both been renewed for a third and second season respectively. Both series come from their executive producer's, Steven Spielberg's, Amblin Television. In N. America (Canada/US) Under the Dome ended its second season (autumn 2014) averaging 11 million viewers. Extant saw a season-end average of 8.6 million viewers.

Evil Dead is to return as a TV series. Called Ash vs. Evil Dead, it will consist of ten half-hour episodes. Apparently Bruce Campbell will reprise his role as Ash.

Lost in Space may be brought back by Legendary TV! The original series came out in 1965 from the Irwin Allen 'sci-fi' production mill. (Other Irwin titles included Land of the Giants and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.) Running for three seasons, Lost in Space concerned the space family Robinson (Swiss family Robinson, geddit?) who were sent out by themselves to colonise a planet with just one non-family member (best not dwell on the population genetics). Alas a bumbling saboteur (accidentally stowing away) caused a navigation error and their flying saucer-like, Jupiter 2 craft got lost. (After the initial episodes the saboteur became whiney – 'The pain, the pain' – and the show's comedic relief.) Also onboard was Environmental Robot B9, frequently called 'Robot'. This looked similar to (and was made by the same people as) Forbidden Planet's Robbie the Robot (who himself appeared in two episodes: 'War of the Robots' and 'Condemned of Space'). The Robot's catchphrase was 'Danger. Danger Will Robinson' (hence today in The Big Bang Theory when you unexpectedly wake up Sheldon he sits up and says 'Danger. Danger'. And Will Robinson, the show's child, was played by Billy Mumy [the same Billy Mumy who was the controlling scary kid from a ‘Twilight Zone’ episode and wasBabylon V's Lennier]).  If Legendary TV do bring the series back, let's hope they do not make a mess of it as was the 1998 film written by Akiva Goldsman and directed by Stephen Hopkins. Keep it firmly based on the original's concept and style, otherwise the producers might as well create their own franchise.

Frequency to possibly become a television series. The original (2000) film saw a man communicate with his father 30 years in the past so preventing his father's untimely death. NBC has commissioned a script albeit without commitment to go on to pilot.


[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 2015


2014 Worldcon: Loncon3 – The Aftermath… Now that the event is over, the conreps and blog reports have come out. We reported on the Worldcon last season with our usual emphasis on the science. Meanwhile the briefest Yahoo/Bing searches (Google is not the same post-Panda/Penguin) reveals a number of conreps and blog reports. These include:-
          Lise Anderson at (in Danish so you may want to Babelfish / Altavista translate)
          Bookdaze at
          Adam Bowie at
          Randy Byers at
          Bertha Chin at
          Paul Cornell at
          Jonathan Cowie at
          Nick Falkner at
          Feeejay at
          Furahan Biology at
          David G. at
          The Guardian at"
          Jaq at
          Jessica at
          K. V. Johansen (fantasy) at
          Bethan Jones at
          Juliet Kemp at
          Lisa That’s me at
          Sean McLachlan at
          Nicollela Merichs at
          Abigail Nussbaum at
          Craig Pay at
          Lawrence Person at
          Ludi Price at
          Jessica Rydill (fantasy) at
          Alex Shvartsman at
          Pigeon Sim at
          R. A. Smith at
          Strangelove at
          Amy H. Sturgis at
          E. J. Swift at
          Ian Watson at watson
          David Wilkinson at
          Darusha Wehm at
          Joseph Zieja at
          Nell Zink at
And photos from:-
          Mike Glyer at
          David Langford at
          Keith Stokes at
          Strangelove at

2014 Worldcon: Loncon3 – The Reckoning…. The organising committee have made an initial announcement saying that 7,310 physically attended (compared to over 7,439 we reported last time) and 11,125 members in total; remember, some register only with the cheaper supporting membership just for the publications and/or to vote for the Hugo Awards and future site selection. The numbers attending make this the best attended/membered Worldcon to date.  The initial interim estimate is that the convention made a very small surplus of around £1,000. On one hand, given that gross expenditure was of the order of £900,000, this was a bit tight especially as most Worldcons usually make a surplus of many thousands to pass on to future Worldcons. On the other hand, London is not cheap and the venue is expensive (more than double a number of recent US Worldcons). Having said that, the committee did a masterful job of matching their expenses only ramping up their plans as members registered. And remember, the afore figures are an interim estimate only.

2015 Worldcon: Sasquan in Spokane (USA) has PR2 out and announced its Hugo hosts. The most important item in Progress Report 2 is the hotel information. Also of relevance (as you need to know when to book your holidays and travel tickets) is news that there will be a pre-day 1 (or day 1) introduction to the area and party the Wednesday afternoon and evening respectively before the start of the convention proper on the Thursday. Good news, and hopefully building on the lessons learned at the small but very excellent film and video programme at the 2014 (Loncon3) Worldcon, is that Sasquan will be running a film festival that will showcase the best in independent feature and short films from around the world in the SF&F, horror, animation and fan genres. Now this is something as Worldcons through the 1990 and early 2000s went though a very dry patch when it came to cinematic and televisual SF, and when there was coverage it was (as are Hugo Long-Form Dramatic Presentation nominations usually) big-studio Hollywood TV and film. So big hopes here; eventually we can hope that the very significant SF achievement from independent as well as non-Anglophone might one day be recognised by Hugo nominators. PR2 also has preliminary hotel information.
          It has been announced that Tananarive Due and guest of honour David Gerrold will co-host the 2015 Hugo Awards Ceremony.
          The Sasquan Worldcon will also see a lecture sponsored by the American Astronomical Society. The Sagan speech is given by the person accepting the Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in Public Communication in Planetary Science whose winner in 2014 was Guy J. Consolmagno. Guy Consolmagno ('Brother Guy'), is an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory and also known in SF circles as an active fan and a member of the MIT Science Fiction Society. Brother Guy will also be interviewing Guest of Honour Leslie Turek, also a MIT SF Society member, later in the convention.

Future Worldcon bids. Worldcons are chosen two years in advance by vote of the current Worldcon attending and well as supporting memberships. However a bid can announce at any time beforehand so as to put a marker down for a future year.  Most years the Worldcon is held in N. America and in Britain just once a decade. Recent years have seen one in three Worldcons outside the US; there is a slight drift towards Worldcons being more international.  The following are the bids so far that have announced themselves…

The 2017 Worldcon bids include:-
          Nippon (Japan) in 2017
          Montreal (Canada)in 2017
          Helsinki (Finland) in 2017
          Washington D.C. (USA) in 2017
Given that 2016 will have seen a US Worldcon, 2017 does bode well for a non-N. American Worldcon bid. It is difficult, if not unwise, to place odds. However Japan has previously held a well run Worldcon in 2007. Ditto Montreal in 2009. Finland has not yet seen a Worldcon and that may mean that some will support it as it undeniably deserves a shot at hosting the event. Finland is already known for its large Finncons which, being state supported, are different from current Worldcons, but Finncons do have the necessary scale. Arguably the long-shot this far out seems to be Washington as so far there are only US bids for 2018 and so without other bids the US will get it next year.

The 2018 Worldcon bids are both US:-
          New Orleans in 2018
          San Jose in 2018
Being Brit based we have no idea as to the respective merits of these bids.

The 2019 Worldcon bid is for Dublin (Ireland). Given the success of the 2014 Dublin venued Eurocon that immediately followed the London Worldcon (British conrunners would undoubtedly be integral to an Irish Worldcon) this seems a reasonably strong bid. If the bidders maintain a high profile at successive Worldcons, other potentially rival bids may fail to materialise.  However it really would be very helpful indeed if the 2019 Irish bidders announced a decision (albeit for or against) their combining this with a Eurocon bid and whether or not this Eurocon bid would continue irrespective of winning Worldcon site selection. Knowing where they stand others can meaningfully plan; not knowing and they are impeded.  If Dublin does decide to also bid to be a Eurocon, and they fully embrace mainland continental Europe with programme and guests, then this could potentially be one of the more internationally flavoured Worldcons of recent years. Conversely, if they announced that they had no intention of being a Eurocon then this would free up Eurocon bids (especially for Central and Eastern Europe) earlier in the year. Placing markers for future Eurocon bids are important, and Dublin (Ireland) needs to start seriously contemplating this now while 2019 is Eurocon bid free.
          Finally, in case you were wondering the 2019 bid for a French Worldcon (previously announced) has folded: it was ill-conceived and the bid team was not strong. Normally we would not mention this but it has been emphasised to us that the current bid for a 2018 Eurocon has zero connection with this previous French Worldcon bid (so if you are a Eurocon person then do give the 2018 French Eurocon bid some consideration), and also this previous French Worldcon bid has no connection with the new 2023 French Worldcon bid.

The 2020 Worldcon bid is for New Zealand. Now, we had a couple of years ago been told that 2014 would see whether this bid would stand and apparently it is. However the venue has not been decided. The options are a picturesque, mid-North Island holiday town (plenty of rural scenery but necessitating a travel hop) or Wellington the capital (ample varied of urban tourism less rural scenery though there is still plenty for biologists) and there is a local SF group.  Leaving aside the NZ bidders' own decision-making, this bid could be affected by whether Dublin (Ireland) wins the previous year. You see the thing is that the Worldcon has never been held outside of N. America for two consecutive years and so a rival bid is likely if Dublin (Ireland) hosts it the previous year. Conversely, if Ireland and New Zealand remain unopposed then these two successive non-N. American Worldcons will be something of a landmark in Worldcon history.

The 2021 Worldcon bid placed so far is Fort Worth (US).

The 2022 Worldcon bid placed so far is Chicago (US).

The 2023 Worldcon bid placed so far is for France. This is separate to the 2018 French Eurocon below and is not the same as the ill-advised, poorly planed and weakly teamed 2023 French bid (that itself previously was a 2019 bid) that was promulgated at the recent London Worldcon (August 2014): this 2023 French Worldcon bid team is completely different.

The 2025 Worldcon bid placed so far is for Perth, Australia. It is a good way off and so by then the memory of the 2010 Melbourne, Australian Worldcon may have dimmed; that convention had extremely poor programme organization (albeit with a couple of very notable exceptions including one of the best Worldcon film streams) and the party hotel's treatment (reportedly breaking their contract) was unpardonable. But Perth is not Melbourne and the bidding team is largely different. If NZ holds it in 2020 with success then Perth 2025 may stand a chance against a rival bid should one materialise. It is, though, all a long way off.


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

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


Meanwhile over in Europe…

The 2014 Eurocon was held in Dublin and we now have a second report of the convention elsewhere on the site from Peter Tyers.

The 2015 Eurocon will be held in St Petersburg. From the online membership list it currently (January 2015) looks like few are going from outside the Russian Federation. Consequently, it would be helpful if you are going that you participate in the European SF Society business meeting. (ESFS is the governing body behind the Eurocons.) The business meeting will see voting on the ESFS Awards (nominations for which are now open) and the site selection (for which Germany is currently the only, but still very strong, bid). Details are on the ESFS website: see the link at the bottom of this subsection or on our external links page. If you have award nominations and are registered to attend then why not drop them an e-mail nominating for the Awards. (Remember award nominations must not have previously won an award: past award winners can be found on the ESFS website. Also remember that for site selection there are two electoral camps: anyone registered with the Eurocon and also two delegates per country represented [it is up to each country to decide who their delegates will be, so sort this out amongst yourselves or ask the EU President to decide].)

B-Con, the 2016 Eurocon in Barcelona, Spain, has released its first Progress Report. We have previously noted that it has a very experienced organising committee.  Now a few of us from SF2Concatenation are planning on going and we have suggested that they build on the success of the some recent Eurocons for social gatherings just before as well as after the event and we understand that this is being actively considered. But B-Con's PR1 does show that they are taking this tourist aspect dimension most seriously and are planning a guided walk to Las Ramblas (which is close to the convention centre) to see the locations described in George (1984) Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. The organisers also note that 2016 is the 10th anniversary of the death of Stanislaw Lem, the Polish SF grandmaster who is also of (not just European but) world importance and who wrote not just science fiction but philosophy and satire.  2016 is also the 50th anniversary of Daniel Keyes' novel Flowers for Algernon, about the artificial enhancement of intelligence. It was subsequently dramatised for the stage and filmed as Charley. Consequently B-Con will have a panel about enhancing intelligence by genetic engineering and other methods; including discussion of Transhumanism, the international cultural and intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.  PR1 also includes teasers as to places to eat near the convention.  If you are reading this from N. America and have never been to a non-English speaking European country then you may want to consider the 2016 Eurocon in Barcelona: much of the programme will be in English and there will be very many English-speaking fans and pros present. In short, this is an ideal opportunity to have a very different, exotic, but safe way to experience another kind of fandom and SFnal happening. Do spread the word. (If you are reading this before 2016 then the link to the convention's website is on our convention diary page and also the European SF Society site.)

Germany is bidding for the 2017 Eurocon. This event is supported by the German SF Society (SF Club Deutschland) and is being organised by some of Germany's most experienced fans including the Elstercon team. The proposed venue city is Dortmund which itself is the home of DORT.con, a very successful biannual convention that regularly has international guests of honour and which, of course, was the venue city for when the Eurocon last came to Germany. The last time the event came to Germany, the programme handled languages very well with some items in German, some in English and some in both languages with translation provided and all were very well signalled in the programme timetable. The organisers are also beginning to contemplate some activities outside of the convention. They will be holding a fan-social gathering the evening before the convention for fans visiting Germany. (This is already a tradition with DORT.con.) And they are making plans to have a greater dead dog party on Sunday evening for all con attendees, both German and visitors. This is a bid worth watching.

France is bidding for the right to hold the 2018 Eurocon. The proposal is to hold this in Amiens. We will pass on more news when we have it. Meanwhile the organisers are associated with past French national conventions which, despite being small, are noted for their varied programmes as well as social dimension. This is a potentially exciting bid as the Eurocon has for too long been absent from France and the organisers have good French national convention experience.

No Eurocon bid markers yet placed for 2019. There are currently no bids announced for 2019. Hopefully the Irish Worldcon bid team will announce whether they intend or not (it would be useful to know either way) to combine their Worldcon bid with a Eurocon. This means that if you/your nation would like the Eurocon to come to your country, all you have to do is to assemble a convention-running team, have a venue in mind and create a website. Then just tell the good folk at the European SF Society (the ESFS website is in the below paragraph) so that their website can link to you, and that really is it. Only in 2017 will you need to firm up your bid with a provisional (in the event you win the bid) but formal agreement with your venue and hotels, and then pitch your bid at the 2017 Eurocon business meeting and those there will vote on your proposal. Simples.
          Meanwhile if Ireland does bid they themselves have the option of bidding both jointly as a Worldcon or to promise to continue as a Eurocon in the event their Worldcon plans fall through (due, say, to a rival Worldcon bid). If Ireland does bid then their event will be held in August (which is when Worldcons are held) which means any rival Eurocon bid would be best placed for the spring/early summer, or alternately it could be held as a relaxacon the weekend after the Worldcon as the Irish 2014 Eurocon did to the British 2014 Worldcon (but that would really only work if your nation was a short hop from Ireland). Either way, this is something for seasoned European conrunners to think about.

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


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


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

Spring 2015


US University to digitise 10,000 fanzines. The University of Iowa Libraries is digitising fanzines from the James L. 'Rusty' Hevelin Collection that has zines from the 1940s to 2012. The University of Iowa Libraries already has a reputation for its SF and fandom studies. As such it contains contributions from fans who went on to become major figures in the SF community including: Forrest Ackerman, Robert Bloch, Leigh Brackett, Ray Bradbury, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Arthur C. Clarke, Roger Ebert, Harlan Ellison, Joe Haldeman, Robert Heinlein, George R. R. Martin, Michael Moorcock, Frederik Pohl, Robert Silverberg and Roger Zelazny,. Once digitised, the fanzines will be incorporated into the UI Libraries’ interface. They will then be transcribed, annotated and their contents indexed so that they can be text searched.

Linked-In Science Fiction group now exceeds 10,000 members. The group started in December 2007, and has grown in 7 years to an astonishing 10,000 members in December 2014. There are two SF groups on Linked-In but only one is proactively moderated, hence is so large. is a social networking site for professionals: a kind of FaceBook for middle managers.

2015 British Eastercon to see twin Tanith Lee book launch. Tanith Lee will be a Special Guest at this year's event, Dysprosium, at the Park Inn Heathrow, London. The fantasy and horror writer's two new books – her first for three years – will be coming out from Telos. The first is a new collection of vampire tales called Blood Twenty that brings together much of Tanith's past vampire short fiction but also includes several original stories. The novel, called Death of the Day, is a detective story. Telos will be celebrating this twin launch with a reception at the convention as well as with book signings and talks by Tanith. The 2015 Easter weekend release gives everyone a specific place and time to access these works and to meet the author.

New York's Lunacon to have a year off. Lunacon in the USA is being postponed for 2015. The currently official dates for the next Lunacon are planned to be from 18th to 20th March 2016. This will allow time to prepare for a more organized and enjoyable convention.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards have ceased to be. Its organisers have found it difficult to muster the time to run the award. The awards were established in 2009 as while there were many non-Anglophone SF Awards for translators of English SF/F into other languages run by many countries, there was no award for translating the other way into English. Meanwhile the SF Awards Watch site itself seems to be a little moribund.

Fan-made Batmobile auctions for US$137,000 (£85,000). Forrest Robinson, a Bat fan spent three years to 1963 customising a 1956 Oldsmobile 88 with a 324 Rocket engine to resemble the batmobile as depicted in DC's Batman Comics from the 1940s and 1950s.


For a list of current 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 2015


The Coode Street Podcast is to be hosted by (US). The Coode Street Podcast was founded in 2010 and is hosted by the SF/F critic Gary K. Wolfe. The move to in January (2015) sees it joint's existing podcasts Rocket Talk and Midnight in Karachi.

The Lovecraft eZine is to publish books. See story in in the Book Trade subsection above.

Flurb, the on-line SF magazine, has officially ceased publication. It has already been a couple of years since the last edition but the editor, Rudy Rucker, acknowledges that he now does not have the time and energy to continue. Thirteen issues of Flurb were produced over six years.

New site Motherboard Terraform has 'just started publishing the best science fiction on the internet'. The US media firm Vice has just launched a new website to publish, they say, 'the best science fiction on the internet'. Terraform will be part of Vice's science and technology online magazine and video channel, Motherboard. "Motherboard is already at the bleeding edge of the future," said Claire Evans of Motherboard. "Publishing science fiction is a logical next step for us. We've led the charge, investigating and reporting about technology; now we want to share stories about where all these technologies might lead. Think of it as 'Future journalism; tomorrow's news today."  The site is at

Google threatened with fine over Dutch citizen privacy. The Dutch Data Protection Agency (DPA) says that Google has broken Dutch laws over privacy and a penalty of 15m euros (£12m) is possible. Google has until the end of February (2015) to change its ways. Since 2012 Google has been gathering its users data and cross-referencing with other sources so as to maximise advertising relevance. Keywords in search strings, location data, cookies, e-mails and video viewing behaviour are all used by Google to build up a profile on each of its users.

British politicians say internet industry unsure of how to use personal data. The all-party House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology has issued a report entitled Responsible Use of Data. It concludes that while millions of individuals from across the globe have signed up to social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and this phenomena has led to vast collections of personal data, and though the tools to analyse and organise vast quantities of digital data are being developed, they feel that that the users of social media platforms are not fully aware of how their data might be used and what redress they may, or may not have if they disagree with how an organisation exploits that data. For example, the terms and conditions contracts are simply too long and complex for any reasonable person to make any real sense. The politicians are worried that current legislation is no longer sufficient now that data moves more easily across digital platforms and that technologies can be used to analyse multiple sets of such data in real time…. It kind of makes it enviable to be an old-fashioned, off the grid, kind of person.

US retail giant, Home Depot, has had personal credit card details of millions of its customers stolen by hackers. It also lost an estimated 53 million e-mail addresses in addition to some 56 million card details. Back in 2013 another US retailer, Target, lost payment and personal data of possibly as many as 70 million customers… It kind of makes it an advantage to be an old-fashioned, off the grid, cash user., the western European hotel-book online service, reportedly estimates fraudsters used 10,000 of its customers' data. is one of Western Europe's biggest online travel agents. Fraudsters used personal data to secure 'deposits' from its customers. Though has provided some compensation, it kind of makes it an advantage to be an old-fashioned, off the grid, cash user.

12 million websites compromised by hackers exploiting Drupel weakness. Drupal is an open source content (text, video etc) management platform powering millions of websites and applications. Hackers were able to insert malware into these sites and so reach internet users. In case you wonder, not having heard of Drupal, this is not a trivial case: 1,124,056 websites in 230 countries use the Drupel system. The bug was in version 7 of the Drupal. One compounding problem is that Drupal had not been using automatic security updates and had been relying on its users to download these from its site manually. This is particularly problematic when an attack happens at night. The hack hole was discovered, after we posted last season's news, on 15th October (2014).

N. Korea is suspected of cyber-attacking Sony. Sony's computers have been attacked and unreleased films made available on the internet. The attack (coincidentally) came ahead of the release of a comedy film, The Interview about N. Korean leader Kim Jong-un. When asked if it was involved in the attack a spokesman for the North Korean government replied: "Wait and see." Whatever emerges, this event has given much free publicity for the film. In it Seth Rogen and James Franco are two reporters who are granted an audience with Kim Jong-un. The CIA then recruits the two to assassinate him. North Korea described the film as an act of war and an 'undisguised sponsoring of terrorism', and called on the US and the UN to block it. The US has firmly blamed N. Korea and President Obama expressed regret that Sony has withdrawn the film from theatres as two of the leading theatre chains refused to accept it fearful of terrorist attacks. President Obama said of his response to the Sony cyber-attack "in a place and time and manner that we choose". It would be proportionate.

N. Korea's world-wide web silenced for seven hours a few days before Christmas. This affected the ruling elite class the most as the average citizen only has access to N. Korea's own intranet. It is not clear who was responsible for N. Korea's www outage: the US obviously, but China is also in the frame, as are various internet groups such as Anonymous who might be outraged by the freedom of speech attack on Sony's comedy film, The Interview. Censor satirical comedy today and who knows what more serious opinions might suppressed tomorrow.

Sony screens The Interview in a number of theatres over Christmas. US President Barack Obama was happy. North Korea has denied that it was behind the cyber-attack on Sony but praised it and had long condemned The Interview, which depicts a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Sony Entertainment said they had 'never given up' on a release, and were continuing efforts to have the film shown more widely. No mention was made of it being related to N. Korea suffering a www outage. The US has not claimed responsibility for the latter... Meanwhile, The Interview became film company Sony's most-downloaded title of all time, just four days after its release on 24 December 2014.

German steel plant damaged in cyber attack. Germany's Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) revealed that a steelworks had been severely damage in a cyber attack. Phishing and individual targeted e-mails enabled viruses to infect the system and logins to be accessed.



New virus affects Linux systems as well as Apple's Mac operating system. It is apparently more serious than the Heartbleed bug detected in April. Unlike Heartbleed which reveals to others what you are and have been doing on your PC, Shellshock, can be used to remotely take control of Linux and Apple's Mac operating systems. It is thought that half a billion PC worldwide might be susceptible to this virus.

New spyware virus, Regin, discovered. Once having infected a PC Regin can capture screenshots, steal passwords or recover deleted files. Computers in Russia, Saudi Arabia and Ireland have been affected most. Its sophistication is such that it seems to have been developed by a nation state for espionage purposes as was the previous Stuxnet. However unlike Stuxnet that attacked equipment, Regin's function seems to be to gather data. However, now that Regin has been outed, it may be being adapted by criminal hackers and phishers.

First glimpse of Microsoft Windows 10 revealed. It will run on smart phones and tablets as well as PCs. It also sees the return of the desktop 'start' button that had been removed from Windows 8. The menu also brings up resizable tiles similar to those featured in Windows 8's touch-centric interface on PCs and tablets. Windows 8 was criticised for being too different from previous versions and is only currently offered to British employees by about one in five organisations. Windows 7 (2009) is arguably the de facto standard. Across desktop PCs as a whole, only 13.4% currently run Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. 51.2% are powered by Windows 7 (2009) and 23.9% by Windows XP (2001) and XP Pro (2005), versions that are no longer supported by Microsoft. That the Windows XP versions are still so popular after a decade can be put down to three factors. First, it is not so dependent on being connected to the internet and so is very useful for stand-alone use. Second, they are similar to earlier Windows versions. And finally, the Windows XP versions are very robust.  Microsoft needs Windows 10 to be successful, but one wonders whether they might find an updated, but minimally-changed and stand-alone capable, version of Windows XP Pro would have a very significant market for established users who do not want glitzy bells and whistles. Yes Microsoft, that really is a significant market. Windows10 is slated for formal launch in 2015.

California computer games developers flee home after harassment. The Head of development at Giant Spacekat, Brianna Wu, and her husband Frank were so harassed by on-line trolls that they felt they had to leave their home. Brianna is known for supporting women's rights in the gaming industry and this appears to have attracted the misogynist element in that industry and elsewhere. She said, "Sometimes, I write about issues in the games industry that relate to the equality of women. My reward is that I regularly have men threatening to rape and commit acts of violence against me." Now she has received death threats the Arlington police are investigating. An offending Twitter account has been closed.

New space opera, Elite: Dangerous launched harking back to PC computer games roots. See story earlier/above in the news section.

Clothes that prevent digital hacking created -- See the Science and SF Interface section 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 2015



Europe's political leaders turn their backs on science. The European Union has removed the post of EU Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) which will cease when the term of EU President, Jose Manuel Barroso, comes to an end. The post is currently occupied by biologist Prof. Anne Glover CBiol FIBiol of the University of Aberdeen. She has expressed views on GM crops contrary to the official EU GM-opposition policy. According to the so-called 'green' groups writing a letter to the incoming President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and urging him to cancel the role, she 'presented one-sided, partial opinions in the debate on the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture, repeatedly claiming that there was a scientific consensus about their safety'.  Many learned, scientific societies and professional science bodies are most disappointed that the role will go. Prof Sir Paul Nurse, President of Britain's leading science academy, the Royal Society, said: "Scientific advice must be central to EU policy making, otherwise you run the risk of having important decisions being unduly influenced by those with mixed motives… If the Commission has a plausible plan for ensuring that scientific evidence will be taken seriously they need to start sharing it with people soon, otherwise they will encourage those who portray the Commission as out of touch and not willing to listen to informed advice." Ironically, the final decision was announced out as European scientists were celebrating the dramatic landing of the Philae lander on Comet 67/P.

New, ultra-fast, photography technique reaches 100 billion frames a second. And all this without the need for special illumination such as strobes. The new technique uses the imaging optics and geometry of streak cameras but using compression sensitivity to recover lost data. Expect some stunning pictures over the next couple of years. (See Nature vol. 516, p74-77 and further elucidation at vol. 516, p46-7.)

Lightning strikes in the US to increase by 50%. Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the State University of New York have noted the conditions necessary for lightning to strike. They then applied this to 11 climate models and found that lightning strikes are predicted to increase 12 ± 5% per degree Celsius of global warming and about 50% over this century over the contiguous US (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). Currently there are around 25 million lightning strikes per year. See Romps et al (2014) vol. 346, pp. 851-854.

Refined estimate for the mass of the Higgs boson. When the Higgs was discovered in 2012 its mass was estimated at 125 GeV (giga-electron volts). Now, the ATLAS collaboration at CERN's Large Hadron Collider have come up with a refined estimate of 125.36 GeV ± 0.18 GeV. The refinement will help with predictions of Higgs behaviour and possibly identify phenomena not predicted by the Standard Model (Physics Reviews D, vol. 90, 052004). +++ See also next item…

A possible new way to reach super-energies in particle colliders has been found. M. L. Litos and colleagues at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Menlo Park, California, US, have managed to boost the energies of subatomic particles in a novel way. First, though, you will need to appreciate the energies involved. The recently detected Higgs boson has a mass of around 125.36 GeV (giga-electron volts, see previous item) and so to detect this particle collisions must involve energies at least as great as this (and in practice that means greater than this) which in turn necessitates large super-colliders such as at Europe's CERN. What Lito and colleagues did was to first boost electron bunches to 20 GeV using a standard accelerator (the Facility for ACcelerator science and Experimental Tests – FACET) that is 2 km long. They then split particles into two bunches. The first bunch of electrons enters their new micro-accelerator that is only 30cm long (remember these numbers '2 km' and '30 cm') and this first electron bunch drives a plasma wake. The second electron bunch follows immediately behind and surfs the plasma wake. As is described in an accompanying article in Nature it is as if a hundred Australian surfers flattened the wave they were riding to allow all to accelerate at the same rate. While the electron bunch was accelerated from 0 to 20 GeV in 2 km which is equivalent to 0.01 GeV per metre, in the subsequent 30cm-long test chamber they were accelerated by a further 1.6 GeV which is equivalent to 5.333 GeV per metre!  As yet undetected sub-atomic particles beyond Higgs at 125.36 GeV will require accelerators that can go up to thousands of GeVs. M. L. Litos and colleagues could have uncovered a practical mechanism to achieve these energies without having to construct proportionally larger accelerators as those we now have. (See Litos, M., et al, Nature vol 513, p92-95, and Downer & Zgadzaj Nature vol 513, p40-41.).


[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 2015


European lander Philae from the ESA Rosetta probe lands on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In order for Rosetta to get to the comet matching orbital velocities it had to do a tour of the inner Solar System, a 10-year, 4 billion-mile (6.4 billion km) journey before in May (2014) it caught up with the 2.5-mile (4-km) long comet. It hit, bounced hundreds of metres and then landed again. The pitons failed to fire; these would have held it to the ground in the ultra-low gravity. Alas it was in the shade of a cliff and so its batteries could not be recharged by its solar array. But it did obtain pictures and a surface sample. It is hoped that as it nears the Sun, recharging the batteries will be possible.  The mission cost 1.4bn euros; that is equivalent to 3.50 euros per person from 1996-2015 (less than a pint of beer in London), or 0.20 euros per person per year.

New method for measuring galactic distances created. This is a reversal of the parallax method. The parallax method measures the apparent movement of stars against a distinct, distant background when viewed from the Earth's orbit on either side of the Sun. Here the base-line of the triangle is the diameter of the Earth's orbit and the angle at the top of the triangle the angular distance of parallax shift. But suppose you reversed this. Let's take the Moon as an example. If you know the Moon's diameter then you can (as the ancient Greeks did) calculate the distance to the Moon. The diameter 'D' of the Moon forms the base of the triangle and the angle of the triangles apex is the angle your eyes have to move to focus on the left side of the Moon compared to the right side. It is this method that is being used to calculate distances to far galaxies. But how does one know the triangle base of the far-away galaxy? The answer Sebastian Honig (Denmark and UK), Darach Watson (Denmark), Makoto Kishimoto (Japan) and Jens Hjorth (Denmark) took was calculate the size of active galactic nuclei that are powered by giant black holes. The black holes themselves are too small but the surrounding toroidal of hot dust is hundred of times bigger. As an object falls into the hole it emits light. This also travels out to hit the hot gas that then re-emits the light. Measuring the time between the two emissions and knowing the speed of light, it is possible to calculate the size of the toroidal ring of hot gas. Then using the highly sensitive Kech astronomical interferometer on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, it is possible to measure the angular separation of the far edges of the toroidal gas. Doing this they successfully calculated the distance to galaxy NGC 4151 at around 19 megaparsecs (62 million light years). This chimes with the distance to this galaxy calculated by other means. The importance of this development is that the distance to galaxies even further away can now be calculated. (See Nature vol 515 p 528-530 and an exposition piece Nature vol 515, p498-499.)

Orion command module test flight a success. Early December saw a two orbit unmanned flight of the command module to 3,650 miles (5,800 km) lasting 4 hours 24 minutes with a successful splashdown. The Heat shield and parachute systems worked. The first manned flight is slated for 2020/21.

Europe is to build the service modules for NASA's Orion replacement for the space shuttle. NASA chose Orion to replace the shuttle back in 2011. But the Orion capsule needs to be serviced with air and water as well as have a manoeuvring system in space. The European Space Agency and the manufacturer Airbus signed a contract valued at £310m (390 million euros/$490m) to deliver a service module for a test flight in 2017. The design for the service module is based on the one for the successful unmanned Automated Transfer Vehicle Europe has been running to the space station in recent years. ESA will pay Airbus the money. NASA pays nothing in return for their being nothing owed by ESA for its 2018-2020 access to the International Space Station. It is hoped that if the test flight is successful, that ESA and Airbus will get the subsequent, on-going Orion service module contracts which will be worth billions to Europe's aerospace industry.

Mars sees its first Asian viitor with the arrival of India's Mangalyaan probe. The probe went into orbit about the Red Planet at the end of September.

The Kepler exoplanet hunting space telescope has come back from the dead. Well, this is fantastic news given that over a year ago (Summer 2013) it was thought that a failed gyroscope had put paid to new exoplanet discoveries. However it has been possible to orientate the craft against the Solar wind and to use the small manoeuvring thrusters to stabilise the craft. Last spring (2014) the most Earth-like planet had been found (so far) where temperatures are such that liquid water could be on the surface and it is the nearest to Earth-size so far encountered. By the end of September, the resurrected Kepler had data from over 12,000 stars. However Kepler's new positioning means that it always has to keep the Sun to one side and that precludes looking at any one part of the sky long enough to detect Earth-sized planets (though more may still be elucidated from data previously gathered).
          Kepler's new focus at a set angle to the Sun means that it will now be orientated at a swathe of the sky as the Earth and satellite orbits the Sun. This means it will over the course of the year be able to examine the Pleiades cluster and others with early stars and their dust clouds which should help explain how planetary systems form. It will also look in the direction of the centre of the galaxy and possibly see free-floating planets as they eclipse the galactic centre stars.

Kepler has now detected over 1,000 exoplanets and one of the latest finds could be an Earth twin! Kepler was launched in 2009. The latest discoveries are a batch of eight, three of which are potentially habitable (have the right temperature and the possibility of liquid water). One of these three, Kepler 438b, seems to be the most Earthlike of all the exoplanets so far discovered, and more so than Kepler 186f which up till now had been the most Earthlike exoplanet. At 12% larger than Earth, Kepler 438b is bigger than 186f but it is closer to our temperature, probably receiving just 40% more heat from its sun than we do from ours. Kepler 438b is 475 light-years away.

The British public may well fund a mission to the Moon. A British-led consortium hopes to land a probe on the Moon in 10 years' time through raising £500m for the project by public donations. The Lunar Mission One probe would survey the South Pole as a possible water-bearing site for a future base. £600,000 is initially needed to get things going and it is hoped to raise this from the public through KickStarter. Supporters can have a hair sample or short digital message sent tot the Moon.


[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 2015


West African ebola outbreak still continues to grow. We reported a year ago back in the spring 2014 that there had been 122 cases and 78 deaths. By mid-summer 2014 the World Health Organization had reported 599 confirmed or suspected cases and 388 deaths and by early August the number of fatalities had topped 700. So it was unsurprising that by the time of the 2014 Worldcon (mid-August) the number had exceeded a thousand! And by early September 2,000. By early October fatalities were at over 3,000. A graph of fatalities since April through to October is still very closely exponential with a doubling time of near to one month. Not good. By Christmas fatalities had topped 7,500.
          Ebola more lethal than thought. The viral strain in west Africa seems to be more deadly. The World Health Organization Ebola Response Team have reported (New England Journal of Medicine) a death rate of 70% (as opposed to 50%). +++ An indication of how serious this is – as if World health Organization declaring it to be a global emergency was not enough – the World Bank (not noted for throwing large sums at non-financial concerns) released US$400 million (£250m) to combat the outbreak. +++ In October Britain sent 750 troops, three Merlin helicopters and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Argus to Sierra Leone together with medical supplies and teams to help contain the outbreak.

Cancer more bad luck than genetic or environmental.  Why are some tissue types more prone to cancer?  US researchers have found that tissues becoming cancerous is strongly correlated with the number of time their cells have replicated. These results suggest that only a third of the variation in cancer risk among tissues is attributable to environmental factors (such as smoking) or inherited (genetic) predispositions. The majority is due to 'bad luck', that is, random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal, non-cancerous stem cells (see Science vol. 347, p78-81). Note: this statistical analysis explains the difference in tissue types' proneness to cancer and this explains about two-thirds of cancer cases; yet environmental and genetic factors are still highly relevant for the remaining third and here they statistically explain why these patients get cancer in the first place.

Original AIDS source traced back to the 1920s in the city of Kinshasa, in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The University of Oxford and the University of Leuven (Belgium) researchers used archived samples of the AIDS Human Immunodepression Virus' (HIV's) genetic code to deduce its source. HIV is a mutated version of a chimpanzee virus, known as simian immunodeficiency virus, which probably made the species-jump through contact with infected blood while handling bush meat. The virus made the jump on several occasions. One event led to HIV-1 subgroup O which affects tens of thousands in Cameroon. In the 1920s, Kinshasa (called Leopoldville until 1966) was part of the Belgian Congo. It was a large and rapidly growing area and medical records show there was a high incidence of various sexually transmitted diseases.

New antibiotic derived from vaginal microbe. A team lead by Michael Fischbach of the University of California used a computer program that included the data for genes known to make pharmaceuticals and related compounds, and then used these to check the human microbiome (the collection of genomes used by microbes living in humans). This yielded thousands of genes including those for thiopeptide antibiotics and so they managed to isolate a new thiopeptide from a vaginal microbe grown in the lab. This could be the first drug discovered in, and isolated from, an organism living in humans (Cell, vol. 158, p1402-1414).

New class of antibiotics created derived from engineered viruses targeting bacterial resistance genes. Researchers from MIT (US) have used an RNA-guided nuclease called a 'Crispr' to seek and break up resistance genes inside bacteria. This does not kill the bacteria but 'engineers' them at the gene level removing resistance. This means that resistant strains of good bacteria such as beneficial Escherichia coli that are resistant can be targeted removing their resistance and so preventing resistance genes being transferred to malicious strains of E. coli. This work is at its early stages.

New support for 'gay gene'. Now, before we go any further reporting this news, let us remind you that there are a number of factors involved in sexual orientation including social as well as biological, and on the biological front possibly more than one genetic factor not to mention the possibility of epigenetics in the mix. Now on to the news…  A new study of gay siblings revisits a finding that sparked social and scientific controversy more than 20 years ago. In a 1993 paper, molecular biologist Dean Hamer showed evidence that a region on the X chromosome is associated with male homosexuality, but several studies failed to confirm his finding.  Now we have the largest replication effort so far, published in November (2014,/small>) in Psychological Medicine by Sanders et al (DOI: 10.1017/S0033291714002451), and it identifies the same region of the X chromosome, known as Xq28.

The 24-hour biological clock control in humans found in worms. Researchers from the University of Heidelberg have found ancient roots to the daily circadian rhythm and sleep patterns. In humans (and all other vertebrates) this is mediated by the hormone melatonin. The researchers have found that melatonin also affects the movement of Platyneriseis dumerilii (a type of rag worm often used by seaside fishermen as bait) larvae up and down the water column. It seems that melatonin evolved early in animals to coordinate daily cycles (Cell, vol. 159, p46-57). +++ Those who have attended our Jonathan's science talks at conventions and specifically his one on bioastronomy, will recall that there are other bio-cycles mediated by astronomical bodies including that of the Moon. It is more than a little likely that the monthly menstrual cycles in humans will also have an ancient evolutionary root in marine species.


[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 2015


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.


Every Boy Should Have A Man by Preston L. Allen, Jacaranda, £11.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-909-76217-6.
A dystopian future in which 'oafs' keep 'mans' as pets.

Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher, Tor, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-230-75072-2.
Set in Asher's Polity universe, Spear 'died' a century ago in a war with aliens. But a desire for revenge brings him back to life…. Stand-alone reviews of other of Asher's work on this site include: Cowl, The Departure, The Gabble, Hilldiggers, Jupiter War, Line of Polity, Line War, Orbus, Prador Moon, Shadow of the Scorpion, The Technician and Zero Point.

Impulse by Dave Bara, Del Rey, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95641-7.
Book one of the 'Lightship Chronicles'. Sci-fi space opera billed as ideal for fans of Star Wars and Star Trek.

Mother of Eden by Chris Beckett, Corvus, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-782-39235-4.
This follows on from the Clarke Award-winning Dark Eden and is what was to have been called Gela's Ring. Generations after the break-up of the human family of Eden, survivors of a hijacked interstellar craft that crashed on a far-flung world, the Johnfolk emphasize knowledge and innovation, the Davidfolk tradition and cohesion. But both have built hierarchical societies sustained by violence and dominated by men – and both claim to be the favoured children of a long-dead woman from Earth that all Eden knows as Gela, the mother of them all. When Starlight Brooking meets a handsome man from across Worldpool, she believes he will offer an outlet for her ambition. She has no idea that she will be a stand-in for Gela herself, and wear Gela’s ring. And she has no idea of the enemies she will make, and that a time will come when she, like John Redlantern, will choose to kill… (Stop Press (April 2015): Gela's Ring was published electronically on the on-line magazine Aethernet and served as the proto-novel for Mother of Eden. Mother of Eden's publication was then delayed from the Spring of 2015 to the Summer.)

The Eye of Heaven by Clive Cussler, Michael Joseph, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-718-17872-7.
An expedition to the Arctic discovers a Viking ship encased in the ice, but it is filled with pre-Columbian artefacts from Mexico!!!

The Deep by Nick Cutter, Headline, £14.99, trdpbk. 978-1-472-20625-1.
The plague, known as the 'Gets, at first makes people forget their car keys, then how to drive and finally the body how to live… Ian liked Cutter's The Troop.

Astra by Naomi Foyle, Jo Fletcher Books, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-780-87636-8.
A coming-of-age tale set in a post-apocalyptic world Gaia.

Futures 2 edited by Colin Sullivan and Henry Gee, Tor (US), £1.57 / US$3.99 in e-book format only.
OK, so we do not normally list e-books, but if you follow the 'Best of Nature 'Futures' short stories' then you will love this second anthology of short SF stories, each being only two or three pages long. Given we (SF Concatenation) only post 4 out of the 51 such stories published each year on the inside back cover of the science journal Nature, then this is your chance to catch up with the others you have missed.  Futures 2 collects together 100 stories from 100 authors; scientists, journalists and many of the most famous science fiction writers in the world. This eclectic selection tries to address the question "what will the future really be like?" in tales just 800 words long. A celebration of flash fiction.

The Peripheral by William Gibson, Viking, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0670-92155-3.
Drones, time travel and murder… as the advance publicity has it. Sounds good for William (Neuromancer) Gibson's first book in what seems like years. Also previously reviewed on this site by Gibson Pattern Recognition and Iduro.

Tabit Genesis by Tony Gonzales, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09322-5.
Earth is finished, laid waste by alien attack. Two massive generation ships are all that is left out in the void, to carry the fight back to the enemy. But can they possibly hope to defeat them? And just what are they fighting for? Revenge? Themselves? Survival?

Symbiont: Parasitology 2 by Mira Grant, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50193-2.
The second in what the advance publicity calls 'the Contagious' series after Parasite but we note that that book referred to the trilogy as 'Parasitology'. (We mention lest there is confusion.) And of course Parasite was nominated last year for a Hugo and prior to that we cited it as one of our best books of 2013, which may tell you something?

Spark by John Twelve Hawks, Corgi, £6.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-552-17057-4.
Thriller. A future assassin lacks emotions due to a medical condition.

In Dark Service by Stephen Hunt, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09207-5.
Steampunk and a the start of a new series in which air nomads abduct the ground-based population as slaves.

Memory of Water by Emni Itaranta, Harper Voyager, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-52994-0.
In a future where water is scarce, Noria must takeover responsibility for the hidden spring her family has guarded for generations…

Born of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Piatkus, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-749-95419-2.
Sixth in the 'League' space romance series.

The Unreal and the Real: Volume 2 by Ursula K. LeGuin, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20286-3.
Sort stories from the grandmistress of science fiction.

The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord, Jo Fletcher Books, £18.99, hrdpbk. ISBN 978-1-780-87689-4
This is the sequel to The Best of All Possible Worlds that was short-listed for a Locus Award last year. Jo Fletcher have previously released this edition but are giving it another push presumably because of the attention The Best of All Possible Worlds received last year.

Something Coming Through by Paul McAuley, Gollancz, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20393-8
The aliens are here. And they want to help. Mankind has shown that it is not ready for the stars – but are the aliens ready for us? McAuley in hard SF space opera mode (as well as a couple of others) is brilliant. Other of McAuley's books with stand alone reviews on this site include: Cowboy Angels, Eternal Light, Evening's Empires, Red Dust, White Devils, Pasquale's Angels and The Quiet War.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman, Harper Voyager, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-52990-2.
A young mother in a post-apocalyptic world has protected her children for four years by never letting them see the outside world…. Now, they have to move…

The Remaining Allegiance by D. J. Molles, Orbit, £9.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50341-7.
The fifth in the series of originally self-published novels following special forces Captain Lee Harden and his small group of survivors in a zombie-ridden world.

The Forever Watch by David Ramirez, Hodder, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-444-78788-7.
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. (Not to be confused with one of Lukyanenko's 'Watch' series.) Of Science Fact and SF Concatenation interest, the author is a scientist who worked on the Human Genome Project. Click on title link for a standalone review.

Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds, Tachyon Publications, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-616-96193-0 .
No firm news on this, and Tachon is US based but we like Reynolds and this is bound to be good. Previous Reynolds' books reviewed (among a number) on this site include: Blue Remembered Earth, Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, Galactic North, House of Suns, The Prefect, Pushing Ice and Revelation Space.

Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, £8.99. ISBN 978-0575-13443-0.
Inspired by the Jules Verne classic.

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0575-10421-1.
This is the second in the 'Reckoners' series and follows Steelheart. Fun science fantasy adventure.

No Life But This by Anna Sheenan, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-10476-1.
Sequel to A Long, Long Sleep in which Rose wakes from a 100-year hibernation to be heir to a vast interstellar empire…

The Echo by James Smythe, Harper Voyager, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-45678-9.
Twin brothers – one on the ground and one in space – investigate a region where manned spacecraft disappeared 20 years earlier…

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, Atlantic Books, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-857-89782-4.
When the Moon blows up, a meteorite storm is predicted that could last for thousands of years, rendering the Earth’s surface uninhabitable. In preparation, the nations of the Earth send an ark of humans to an International Space Station. But the Station isn’t immune to the galactic catastrophe and many of its people are lost, mostly men. When stability is reached, only seven humans remain, all of them women. Thirty thousand years later, two tribes exist: those who survived on Earth, living rustic, primitive lives; and those who derived from the Seven Eves of the space station, affluent, sophisticated, organized sects looking to colonize the surface of Earth…

Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch, Headline, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-472-21486-7.
Click on the title link for a standalone review.  Set in the not too distant future, it has been a decade since Pittsburgh has been destroyed. And now a murder has taken place in its ruins… This is a taught, cyberpunk thriller and a rather remarkable debut.

The Mechanical by Ian Tregellis, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50232-8
Little known about this one so far other than the protagonist, Jax (presumably the 'mechanical' of the title) is determined to be free of his (its?) human masters.

My Real Children by Jo Walton, Corsair, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-472-11563-8.
An old lady with Alzheimer's can more easily remember her distant past than recent events… The only thing is that she seems to be remembering two distinct lives! This came out last year in the US and this is its first British, mass market paperback edition. We think it will do well over here and have included it as one of our Best SF novels of 2014 (above).


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 2015

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

Half the World by Joe Abercrombie, Harper Voyager, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-007-55023-4.
This is the second in the Shattered Sea trilogy. Thorn, the young woman who has trained as an assassin, has to cross half a world…

Son of the Memory by Mark Alder, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-11516-3.
The first in a new series with Edward III considering a very unholy war with France.

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50155-0.
Mercy Thompson returns to face a creature that could wreck her life.

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-356-50162-8.
The latest in the 'Alpha & Omega' werewolf series.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown, Hodder, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-444-75901-3.
This is the second in the 'Red Rising' trilogy.

The Black Dream by Col Buchanan, Tor, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-21118-1.
The third in the 'Heart of the World' series following on from Stands a Shadow.

Skin Game by Jim Butcher, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50096-6.
The latest in the 'Dresden Files' urban noir fantasy series with Chicago's only professional wizard detective.

Queen of the Dark Things by C. Robert Cargill, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13016-6.
Sequel to Dreams and Shadows.

Prudence by Gail Carriger, Orbit, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50179-6.
Steampunk. A commercial hunt for a good tea crop inadvertently stumbles across a kidnap plot… Gail recently won the Prix Julia Verlanger. She also sells well in the US.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman, Tor, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-25623-6.
Irene is a spy for the secretive library who is tasked to retrieve a dangerous book in an alternate London infested with supernatural creatures… This is a debut novel and the pre-publicity sounds intriguing.

The House of War and Witness by Mike Carey, Linda Carey and Louise Carey, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13273-3.
Austrian soldiers of 1740 are billeted in an empty house only to suspect that it is haunted…

Gemini Cell by Myke Cole, Headline, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-472-21189-7.
The fourth in the 'Shadow of Ops' series. A US navel Seal has been raised from the dead by a sorcerer and now works for a secret unit that employs the occult…

The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell, Tor, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-330-52810-8.
DI Quill and team must use their second-sight skills when London's wealthy start getting murdered… Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.

A Dance of Ghosts by David Dalglish, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50282-3.
The fifth in the Shadowdance sequence.

Tithe of Survivors by A. J. Dalton, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-12323-6.
Last in the Chronicles of a Cosmic warlord.

Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson, or, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-25238-2.
An ancient city faces possible revolution…

Knight's Shadow by Sebastien de Castell, Jo Fletcher Books, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-782-06677-4.
Second in 'The Greatcoats series following Traitor's Blade. 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.

The Last Dark by Stephen Donaldson, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-08346-2.
The final in the long-lasting and epic Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. This builds on, among others Fatal Revenant: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant Book 2. If you have not come across Donaldson before and you like well-written, epic fantasy (or is this epic science fantasy with the science hidden???) then you are strongly urged to check the earlier Thomas Covenant books out. If you like them then know that you are blessed because we had to come the long way round over the decades, with years to wait between each story. Now, lucky you, you can get the lot in one go! Recommended.

The Key Sara B. Elfgren & Mats Strandberg, Hammer, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-099-56857-5.
The final in the Engelors trilogy.

Gleam by Tom Fletcher, Jo Fletcher Books, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-848-66255-1.
The first in 'The Factory' trilogy in a world ruled by alchemists and astronomer priests…

Trigger Warning: Short Fiction and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman, Headline, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-472-21768-4.
A new collection of shorts that will be devoured by Neil's many readers.

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman, Arrow, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-472-20472-1.
The final in the trilogy and Quentin Coldwater has finished his adventure in Antarctica and now heads off to the enchanted Netherlands.

The Day Shift by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09288-4.
There’s a small town in Texas called Midnight. It stands at a crossroads, where pawnbrokers rub shoulders with vampires, bounty hunters with shopkeepers, and a brand new mystery is waiting to be solved…

Spira Mirabilis by Aiden Harte, Jo Fletcher Books, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-780-87155-4.
This is the last in the 'Wave' trilogy.

The Fireman by Joe Hill, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13071-5.
In a world overtaken by a deadly and dramatic new virus, Harper is determined to live long enough to deliver her baby. But when it only takes a spark to start a deadly blaze, she’s going to need some help from the mysterious fireman.

Winter by William Horwood, Pan, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-330-46171-9.
The universe is in danger and only Stort can save it… Conclusion of the Hydden World sequence.

Rapture by Kameron Hurley, Del Rey, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95282-2.
This is the final in the Dame Apocrypha trilogy.

Written in the Blood by Stephen Lloyd Jones, Headline, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-472-20472-1.
Part of the String Diaries Saga.

Son of No One by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Piatkus, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-349-40069-3.
Paranormal romance and the last in the 'Dark Hunter' series.

Wake by Elizabeth Knox, Corsair, £12.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-472-11753-3.
Horror. Police officer Theresa Grey arrives in a small New Zealand town to find the local overwhelmed by collective murders. Something is making them turn on each other. An hour later there are thirteen survivors. But some sort of forcefield is preventing them from leaving town…

The City by Dean Koontz, Headline, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-52030-5.
A musician muses over the rather peculiar events of his life.

Valkyrie’s Song by M. D. Lachlan, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-12964-1
The Norman harrowing of the north has begun, and the wolf and a woman fight for their immortal lives. Ragnarok casts its dark shadow over a new generation of humans forced to play the games of the warring gods.

The Dagger's Path by Glenda Lake, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50270-0
Epic fantasy and second in the 'Forsaken lands' trilogy.

Old Man’s Ghosts by Tom Lloyd, Gollancz, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575 13120-0.
After the events of Moon’s Artifice, Narin and his group of unlikely heroes are settling back into their lives in the Imperial City. But one of them has a secret that has been kept hidden for decades, a secret that might shake civilisation to its foundations. And one chance meeting is all it will take to set off a string of events that will lead to death and fire.

The Autumn Republic by Brian McCellan, Orbit, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50205-2.
The conclusion of the Powder Mage trilogy.

The Hidden Rune of Iron by Suzanne McLeod, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09844-2.
The fifth novel and conclusion of Spellcrackers urban fantasy series.

Fortune's Blight by Evie Manieri, Jo Fletcher Books, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-587-38945-9.
This is the second in 'The Shattered Kingdom' trilogy.

Windhaven by George R.R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20894-0.
Maris of Amberly, a fisherman’s daughter, wants nothing more than to soar on the currents high above Windhaven. So she challenges tradition, demanding that flyers be chosen by merit rather than inheritance. But even after winning that bitter battle, Maris finds that her troubles are only beginning. now a revolution threatens to destroy the world she fought so hard to join – and forces her to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13048-7.
The world fell to an apocalypse, but the Falconer survived – and now she must save her friends. Billed as a mix of Jane Austen’s high society and the Grimm’s fairy tales.

On Her Majesty's behalf by Joseph Nassie, Voyager, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-062-04878-7
Book 2 of the 'Great Undead War'' series. It is a steampunk alternate history in which the Germans use zombies to ensure that they have unlimited fresh troops: though we are not too sure that the term 'fresh' and zombies is entirely appropriate but you get the gist.

Dark Debt by Chloe Neill, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20850-6.
In the vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Merit didn’t choose to become a vampire, but she did choose to fight for her house and forge strong alliances with powerful people across North America.

The Golden Cage by J. D. Oswald, Michael Jospeh, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 078-1-405-91773-5.
The third in the Ballad of Sir Barfo sequence concerning the return of dragons.

The Rose Cord by J. D. Oswald, Michael Joseph, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 078-1-405-91769-8.
The second in the Ballad of Sir Barfo sequence concerning the return of dragons.

City of Eternal Night by Kristen Painter, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-03752.
Urban fantasy set in New Orleans. The Faeries and the vampires are set to clash during Mardi Gras.

The Boy Who Wept Blood by Den Patrick, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13433-1.
Lucien is gone and now the young Orfano swordsman Dino must fight to protect his sister as she attempts to overturn the old aristocratic order and bring a republic to Demesne. Billed as a mix of Mervyn Peake, Robin Hobb and Jon Courtenay Grimwood.

The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13402-7.
Billed as for fans of Scott Lynch and Robin Hobb.

Murder by Sarah Pinborough, Jo Fletcher Books, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-780-87236-0.
Police surgeon, Dr Bond, investigates when children's corpses keep turning up. A supernatural mystery sequel to Mayhem. +++ Sarah Pinborough has just received a British Fantasy Award.

Those Above by Daniel Polansky, Hodder, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-444-77989-9.
'Those Above' are near-immortals who have enslaved mankind for three thousand years…

The Templar Inheritance by Mario Reading, Corvus, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-782-39533-1.
2013: A bomb goes off in As Sulaymaniyah, Iraq. Veteran photojournalist John Hart and his beautiful Kurdish translator are caught in the blast – and the ensuing chaos. 1198: Johannes von Hartelius, ancestor of John Hart, discovers that the Copper Scroll, the most prized possession of the Knights Templar, has been stolen. The code-written scroll is said to hold the secret of Solomon’s Treasures. 2013: Hart finds a secret message from his forbear inside the Holy Spear. Is it possible that the mountain in Iran known as Solomon’s Prison holds the Copper Scroll?

The Glorious Angels by Justina Robson, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13401-0.
Justina has previously established herself as an excellent cocktail-maker of science, magic and sexual politics.

Night After Night by Phil Rickman, Corvus, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-857-89872-2.
A supernatural thriller sees a production company sets out to make a Big Brother-style TV show the house they choose to film in is a Tudor farmhouse turned luxury guest house, ideal for their famous stars. But a journalist uncovers a terrifying history – inescapable by those locked inside, night after night...

The Glorious Angels by Justina Robson, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13401-0
On a world where science and magic are hard to tell apart, a stranger arrives in a remote town with news of political turmoil to come. And a young woman learns that she must free herself from the role she has accepted.

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson, Tor, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-26615-0.
A young pupil is fascinated by the study of Rithmatics, or geometric magic.

The Immortal Who Loved Me by Lynsay Sands, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20500-0.
An Argeneau Vampire novel Lynsay Sands continues her enormously popular vampire series starring the argeneau family. The latest in the paranormal vampire series featuring the Argeneau family – funny and steamy.

Sword of the North by Luke Scull, Head of Zeus, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-781-85155-5.
The second in the 'Grim Company' trilogy. A blind wanderer arrives to threaten the Magelord of the City of Towers.

The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley, Tor, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-230-77043-0.
Epic fantasy and second in the 'Chronicles of the Unknown' trilogy.

The Evil Inside by Philip Taffs, Quercus, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-848-66399-2.
A father suspects that his son is possessed…

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-10435-8.
The sequel to Steelheart and the battle against the epics continues.

The Seal of the Worm by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tor, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-23455-5.
The 10th and final part of the 'Shadows of the Apt' sequence and follows on from War Master’s Gate. Now that the series is coming to an end, this is actually a good time for newcomers to consider it as now they can check out reviews of the previous titles (including War Master's Gate), and then if drawn to it then you will not have to wait to get the others as we did between novels as they were being written.

The Guns of Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tor, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-447-27267-0.
Stand-alone fantasy.

Arcadia by James Treadwell, Tor, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-444-72856-9.
The final in the trilogy following Advent and Anarchy, and magic has returned to the Chaos…

The Mechanical by Ian Tregellis, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0356-50232-8.
Fantasy steampunk world of mechanical servants powered by alchemy.

The Devil's Detective by Simon Kurt Unsworth, Del Rey, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95651-6.
When a badly mutilated body is found the case is handed over to one of Hell's (information Men) detectives…

The Woman in Black: The Sequel Angel of Death by Martyn Waites, Hammer, £6.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-784-75026-8.
The authorised sequel to the classic ghost story The Woman in Black.  Click on the title link for a standalone review.)

Deadly Spells by Jaye Wells, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50300-4.
The third in the 'Prospero War' series where illegal magic is as dangerous and as addictive as hard drugs…

The Iron Ghost by Jon Williams, Headline, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-472-21113-2.

The Tower Broken by Mazarkis Williams, Jo Fletcher Books, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-780-87151-6.
The final in the Tower and the Knife trilogy.

Immortal by J. R. Ward, Piatkus, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-749-95725-4.
Jim Heron faces the demon Devina in the last of the 'Fallen Angels' sequence.


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 2015

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome by Nessa Carey, Icon, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-848-31826-7.
98% of the human genome used to be dismissed as junk DNA made redundant by evolution's onward march… However now it is thought that it contains much that is pivotal including epigenetic switches…

Stay by John Clute, Beccon Publications, £???, pbk. ISBN 978-1-87-082463-7.
This should have been in our forthcoming books listings two seasons ago but Beccon Pubs does not do pre-launch publicity and indeed in this case we were sent the information after the event, but, as it will be of interest to those into SF criticism, we pass it on now. Stay gathers together many reviews, plus short fiction by John Clute, and was published to coincide with Loncon3 (the 2014 World Science Fiction Convention) at which John was one of the Guests of Honour.

Perv by Jan Bering, Corgi, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-552-16513-6.
Psychologist Jan argues that all humans are sexual deviants at some level and so challenges us to accept our true nature.

Murderous Contagion by Mary Dobson, Quercus, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-782-06943-0.
The history of disease and the fight against it.

The Astronomy Bible by Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest, Cassell, £14.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-844-03808-4.
A compact but comprehensive guide by astronomers well-known on the popular science circuit.

The Knowledge: How to re-build our world from scratch by Lewis Dartnell, Vintage, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-099-57583-2.
What do you need to know to re-build civilization following an apocalyptic event? This is the paperback edition of last year's hardback. Click on the title link for Jonathan's take.

The Stressed Sex by Daniel and Jason Freeman, Oxford University Press, £10.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-198-72758-3.
This explores the link between gender and mental health.

The Mathematics of Love by Hanna Fry, Simon & Schuster, hrdbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-471-14180-5.
What are the chances of your falling in love? How long will it last? How does online dating work? Does Game Theory have something to offer? These and other statistical and mathematical questions are explored.

How to Build a Universe: From the Big Bang to the Edge of Space by Ben Gilliland, Cassell, £17.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-844-03809-1.
The author writes the 'MetroCosm' column in the Metro newspaper.

Scientific Babel: The Language of Science from the Fall of Latin to the Rise of English by Michael D. Gordin, Profile, £25, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-781-25114-0.
Now actually the word is that this is quite an interesting book. We start with Latin before moving on to French, then German with Russian, and finally English.

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield, Pan, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-01-447-25994-7.
Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.

Harry Harrison! Harry Harrison! by Harry Harrison, Tor, £17.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-765-33308-7.
The autobiography of the prolific writer that gave us Make Room! Make Room! and The Stainless Steel Rat. It was a big and varied career in SF: to take just one example, don't forget that Harry contributed some stories to the Jeff Hawke comic strips. And Harry had profile within the SF community both with his professional peers (especially with his close friends Brian Aldiss and Sam Lundwell) and fans. This autobiography must have been his last work and he probably was working on it right up until his demise in 2012. This is a 'must have' for serious SF book readers.

The Real Science of Sex Appeal: Why We Love, Lust and Long For Each Other by Howstuffworks, SourceBooks, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-492-60312-2
The authors run the website.

The Neutrino Hunters: The Chase for Ghost Particles and the Secrets of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhanna, One World, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-780-74647-0.

The Teenage Brain by Frances E. Jensen, Harper Thorsons, £12.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-44831-9
The neuroscientist informs as to the late development of the brain's centres responsible for organization, judgement and emotion.

What does Nature do for Britain? by Tony Juniper, Profile, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-781-25328-1.
What is the value of woodland? Why does industry spend hundred of thousands on peatland? Natural systems not only are fundamental for wildlife but their 'ecosystem function' has social, commercial and industrial value. This is called 'natural capital'. Remember that term as it already is well known among British ecologists and governmental departments are already taking note. However, as scientists and governmental departments are increasingly appreciating the value of assessing our wildlife assets this way, the question is whether politicians will recognise this new way of accounting for our nation's natural resources?

The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku, Penguin, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-141-97587-0.
Downloading our dreams and communicating 'telepathically' are no longer purely science fiction tropes but becoming science fact…

Women After All: Sex, evolution and the end of male supremacy by Melvin Konner, Norton, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-393-23996-6.
As if our species sexual dimorphism was not obvious, women are not equal to men. What is a surprise is that according to the author you can compare chalk and cheese: women are superior in many ways! This will go well with the PC crowd.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore, Scribe, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-922-24788-9.
This is a part profile of the DC comics' superheroine and part biography of its creator, William Moulton Marston. Marston had a colourful life that straddles politics, science and comics. He helped propel women's rights in the US and he invented the lie detector, in addition to his work for DC.

Inheritance by Sharon Moalem, Sceptre, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-444-76323-2.
Genetics is not immutable. The genes we inherit are not fixed and can change in our lifetime. (Epigenetics etc.)

Imagination and a Pile of Junk by Trevor Norton, Coronet, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-444-73258-0.
An entertaining guide to inventors and inventions.

How to Make a Human Being: A Body of Evidence by Christopher Potter, Fourth Estate, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-44781-7.
A thoughtful and scientific look at what it is to be human.

Dataclysm by Christian Rudeer, Fourth Estate, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-408-84945-3.
What does the vast amount of data being harvested about us from social media tell us about human behaviour?

Professor Stewart's Incredible Numbers by Ian Stewart, Profile, £14.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-781-25410-3.
From one to ten, to infinity. Covering the mathematics of codes, Suduko, Rubik's Cube, music, pi, among others. Ian is known in British SF circles as a fan as well as among Pratchett fans for The Science of Discworld books with Jack Cohen

Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Cybermoney are Overturning the World Economic Order by Paul Vigna and Michael Casey, Bodley head, £14.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-847-92332-5.
The authors are Wall Street Journal writers.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth by David Whitehouse, Weidenfeld, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-297-60880-6.
Inside the Earth is a planet the size of Mars. Using supercomputer analysis of seismographs and other techniques the author takes us down a volcano and into this world.


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 2015

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

The Avengers Vault by Peter A. David, Arum, hrdbk, £25. ISBN 978-1-781-31398-5.
The visual history of the film franchise.

Robot Overlords by Mark Stay, Gollancz, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20487-4.
The tie-in novel to a new British film starring Gillian Anderson and Sir Ben Kingsley. Three years ago, earth was conquered by a force of robots from a distant world. They have one rule: STAY IN YOUR HOMES Step outside and you get one warning before you are vaporised or incinerated. But Sean Flynn is convinced that his father is still alive. And when he and his gang figure out a way to break the robots’ curfew, they begin an adventure that will pit them against the might of the Robot Overlords.

Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne, Century, £19.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-780-89261-0.

Dr Who: Time Trips by Various, BBC Books, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-849-90771-2.
An anthology of shorts.


[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 2015


The Avengers £74.99 Blu-ray Box Set from Studiocanal.
No, this is not the US comics Avengers but the original British 1960s TV series starring Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg. 7 discs in the set of 26 episodes from the fourth season. Includes 'The Cybernauts'. Short clip here.

Intruders £14, DVD from 2entertain.
Based on the novel by Michael Marshall Smith, Intruders is a paranormal thriller about a secret society who search for immortality by seeking refuge in the bodies of others. This is a two-disc set. Stars: John Simm, Mira Sorvino, James Frain, Millie Bobby Brown and Tory Kittles.   trailer here.

Left Behind, £9.99 DVD from 101 Films.
Starring Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Lea Thompson and Cassi Thomson and based on the novel of the same name, this is an apocalyptic action thriller. A small group of survivors are left behind after millions of people suddenly vanish and the world is plunged into chaos and destruction. Trapped at 30,000 feet, veteran airline pilot Ray Steele (Nicolas Cage) must fight to protect the passengers that remain on his flight. Running out of fuel and with his equipment failing, Ray needs to safely guide the plane with the help of news reporter Cameron (Chad Michael Murray) who takes over the role of co-pilot in the face of the crisis. On the ground, Ray's terrified daughter Chloe (Cassi Thompson) braves the bedlam of the city streets in search of her lost brother and mother.  trailer here.

Lucy £9.99 DVD from Universal Pictures UK.
A woman used as a drug mule discovers that the drug is an experimental pharmaceutical that transforms her higher brain abilities.Action/adventure starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman. Listed as best action flick in our Best Films of 2014 abovetrailer here.

Metropolis [Ultimate Collector's Edition] (1927) Ltd Edition SteelBook £30 Blu-ray from Eureka Entertainment Ltd.
The classic silent re-released and re-mastered.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954) £11.99 DVD from the British Film Institute (BFI).
This is the 1954 BBC version starring Peter Cushing that controversially raised questions in Parliament…!  trailer here.

Off World £15.99 DVD from KSM Film.
When their shuttle is damaged on the way to Centauri Five, six friends are forced to crash land on the surface of a mysterious alien planet. Stranded with little hope of rescue, it soon becomes clear that they are not alone. Hunted by the planet's ferocious inhabitants and targeted by heavily-armed forces, they will have to struggle just to survive.   trailer here.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Seasons 1-7 [Region Free] £130 Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The Time Tunnel £59.99, Blu-ray Box Set from Revelation Films Ltd.
The 1960s US time travel series.


See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in 2015, 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 2015


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

Russell Aitken, the British SF book dealer, has died. He ran Glasgow's Obelisk Books from the 1980s for a couple of decades.

Anatoly Berezovoy, the Russian cosmonaut, has died aged 72. In 1982 he flew as Commander on Soyuz T-5 on the first mission to the Salyut 7 space station, during which time he undertook over two hours EVA, returning to Earth on the Soyuz T-7 after 211 days 9 hours in space. He retired on 31 October 1992 following injuries received as a victim of an armed robbery. From 1992 to 1999, he was a Deputy President of Russian Space Federation. In 1995, he ran for the State of Russia 11th convocation as an independent candidate from Adygea but was not elected.

Willy Burgdorfer, the Swiss born / US working entamologist biologist, has died aged 89. He was a University of Basel graduate and is best known for identifying the cause of Lyme disease in 1982. The disease is caused by spirochete bacteria carried by deer ticks. There are around 300,000 cases of Lyme a year. The bacterium that causes Lyme disease had been named in honor of him: Borrelia burgdorferi.

André Carneiro , the Brazilian SF author, has died aged 92. His collections include Diário da Nave Perdida [Diary of a lost Spacehsip, 1963] and O Homem que Adivinhava [The Man who Guessed Right, 1963].

Leigh Chapman, the US actress/screenwriter, has died aged 75. She appeared in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1965-1966) and wrote scripts for the sci-fi comedy My Favorite Martian (1966) and the steampunk The Wild Wild West (1966-1968).

Brian Clemens OBE, the British TV screenwriter and producer, has died aged 83. He is best known for his work on The Professionals and themuch loved The Avengers (the original British Avengers and not the Marvel comic book characters). Of incidental note, he was related to Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens). From the mid-1950s onwards, he was a staff writer for the Danzigers, churning out dozens of quickie scripts for assembly-line 'B' movies and half-hour television series such The Man from Interpol (ITV, 1960–1961) and Richard The Lionheart (ITV, 1961–1965). He also wrote for ITC Entertainment's thriller series The Invisible Man (ITV, 1958–1959) and Danger Man (ITV, 1960–1961; 1964–1967; aka Secret Agent) for which he had also written the pilot. (This last Patrick McGoohan used as a springboard for The Prisoner.) He wrote the original pilot episode for The Avengers in 1961 and was the script editor, associate producer and main scriptwriter for The Avengers series (ITV, 1961–1969). But he also wrote episodes of Adam Adamant Lives! (BBC, 1966-1967), The Persuaders (ITV, 1971-1972) and The Protectors (ITV, 1972-1974). In 1971 he wrote and produced for Hammer films Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde and, in 1974, wrote and directed Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter.

Robert Conroy, the US author, has died aged 76. His day job included being a history teacher. His novels are alternate history stories.

Fiona Cumming , the British television director, has died aged 77. Of SFnal note she worked on 34 episodes of D Who starting in the Patrick Troughton years. She worked on the second Doctor story 'The Highlanders', Patrick Troughton's second story and the one which saw the introduction of the character Jamie. She worked alongside the second Doctor again in 1969 on 'The Seeds of Death'. In 1972 she worked with Jon Pertwee on the story 'The Mutants'. In the 1980's she was asked to direct four stories featuring the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. In addition to Dr Who, she did two episodes of Blakes 7: 'Sarcophagus' and 'Rumours of Death'.

Vijay deSelby-Bowen, the US fan has died after a lengthy cancer illness aged just 52. She was active in US fandom for over three decades and was the 1999 TAFF delegate and active in the Lunarians.

Helen Eling, the British SF fan and conrunner, has died aged 77. She, and surviving husband Stan, were on the committee of several Novacons of the 1970s and '80s and members of the Birmingham SF Society.

Herman Eisen, the US molecular biologist, has died aged 96 having collapsed on the way to the gym. He is best known for elucidating be fundamentals of antibody binding and this led to his work on T-cell receptors. His textbook General Immunology (1990) is an immunological classic.

Stefan Ghidoveanu, the Romanian SF broadcaster, has died aged 59. He had been aware that he had a heart condition but suffered an unexpectedly severe heart attack. His national, Radio Romania, show, Explorers of Tomorrow's World, was regularly followed by Romania's SF community for 30 years and as such probably holds the record for being the longest running SF radio show in the World: virtually certainly the longest running non-fiction SF radio show. But he was not just a broadcaster, he also wrote, edited anthologies, edited semi-prozines (notably Nautilus), book published and translated SF/F. With regards to just these last two, he helped bring stories to a Romanian readership of the likes of: John Brunner, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Gérard Klein, Robert Silverberg and Neal Stephenson. Within his own country he worked with the movers and shakers of Romania's SF community including TV broadcaster (and former government minister for youth and culture) Alexandru Mironov, and leading writers such as Mircea Oprita. Indeed, it is very likely that he at least interacted, if not helped promote or actually worked on a joint venture, with all the great and good of Romania's SF community since the nation's 1990 revolution. In recent years his reach extended into the internet and in 2010 he started Moshe SF (that very loosely translates to the British colloquialism 'SF Geezer') that presented SF online.  At the time of his death he was working on two anthologies, one of which was a collection of translated Brian Aldiss shorts. However one project he had been working on with a few others for some years was an ambitious Bibliography of Romanian Science Fiction. Let us hope his collaborators have the fortitude to see this through; that would be the epitaph Stefan would have liked.  +++ See also the editorial above.

J. F. Gonzalez, the US supernatural horror writer, has died of cancer aged 50. He has had nearly a hundred short stories published and edited two, short-run, semi-prozines Iniquities and Phantasm. With his own writing he often worked with others especially Brian Keene.

Alexander Grothendieck , the German-born French mathematician, has died aged 86. His achievements covered the specialisms of commutative algebra, homological algebra, sheaf theory and category theory. In 1958, he was appointed a research professor at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHÉS) and remained there until 1970, when, driven by personal and political convictions, he left following a dispute over military funding. (The reason he entered mathematics rather than physics was that the latter was associated with nuclear weapons.) His generalization of the classical Riemann-Roch theorem related topological properties of complex algebraic curves to their algebraic structure. In 1939, Grothendieck went to France and lived with his mother in various camps for displaced persons; his father died in Auschwitz. After the war he studied mathematics in France, initially at the University of Montpellier. he was a radical pacifist and strongly opposed both United States intervention in Vietnam and Soviet military expansionism. In 1966, he was awarded the Fields Medal, the highest honour in mathematics but refused to go to the awards ceremony in Moscow as an act of protest against Soviet militarism and imprisonment of dissident writers. He retired in 1990. In 2010, he wrote the letter 'Déclaration d'intention de non-publication' to Luc Illusie, claiming that all materials published in his absence have been published without his permission. He asked that none of his work be reproduced in whole or in part and that copies of this work be removed from libraries. he said of mathematics: 'it allows people to do difficult things — and it creates the tools by which difficult things can be made simple'.

P. D. James, the British writer, has died aged 94. She has over a score of books to her name, most of which were crime stories. She is also noted for her one SF novel The Children of Men that was adapted for cinema in 2006 with a film directed by Alfonso Cuaron and starring Clive Owen, Michael Caine and Julianne Moore (trailer here). She was awarded the Crime Writers' Association's Diamond Dagger award in 1987 for lifetime achievement, and received the Medal of Honour for Literature in 2005 by National Arts Club.

Graham Joyce, the British fantasy writer, has died aged 59 of cancer. He won the British Fantasy Award six times and five of his works are currently in development as films. His first novel was Dreamside (1991) but his more noted works include The Tooth Fairy (1996) and The Facts of Life (2002), and then there are his more recent works, including the British Fantasy Award-winning Some Kind of Fairy Tale (2012) and The Year of the Ladybird (2013). A number of his short stories were collected in Partial Eclipse and Other Stories (2003). Aside from writing, Graham enjoyed football and was a member of a writers team as well as author of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year runner-up Goalkeeping Made Spectacular (2009).  He was due to have been toastmaster at the 2015 World Fantasy Convention in the US.

Glen A. Larson, the US television sci-fi producer, has died of oesophageal cancer aged 77. He created the cult TV comedy-adventure western Alias Smith and Jones and the sci-fi The Six Million Dollar Man before Battlestar Galactica in 1979 and shortly after Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Though he was not involved in the 2004 Sci-Fi Channel remake of Battlestar Galactica, he was credited as a consulting producer. In 1982 he created Knight Rider.

Walt Lee, the fantastic film aficionado, has died aged 83. His final years were dogged with Alzheimer's. However he will be remembered in genre circles for his early 1970s, three-volume Reference Guide to Fantastic Films.

Roberta Leigh, the British television producer, has died aged 87. her programmes included the puppet series Torchy the Battery Boy (1957-1959), Twizzle (1957) and Space Patrol (1963-1968).

Ann Methe, the Canadian fan, has died of cancer. She was a conrunner and chaired Con*Cept Boreal in 1998. She won the Aurora Award for fannish achievement in 1999.

Donald Moffitt, the US author, has died aged 83. His first novel was the hard SF The Jupiter Theft (1977). The Genesis Quest (1986) and its sequel explored a deep-time radio conversation with aliens. Also as Paul Kenyon he wrote thrillers.

Michel Parry, the Belgian horror writer, has died aged 67.

Martin Perl, the physicist, has died aged 87. He is best known for being the joint recipient (with Frederick Reines who separately detected the neutrino) of a 1995 Nobel Prize for discovering in 1975 the tau lepton. The tau lepton is a subatomic particle that is 3,500 times heavier than an electron and its discovery was the first of a previously unknown family of leptons.

Francisco Porrúa, the publisher in Argentina, has died aged 92. He founded the Minotauro science fiction press that published both Spanish translations of Anglophone SF classics (by the likes of Ray Bradbury, Tolkien and J.G. Ballard) as well as Spanish SF. He is particularly known in Spain for discovering the writer García Márquez. Porrúa was the man who helped establish the 'magic realism' around the world at a time when few other publishers considered it.

Joseph Sargent , the US television director, has died aged 89. His SFnal films and television included: Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) and episodes of Star Trek (1966) 'The Corbomite Maneuver', The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964-1966) and The Invaders (1967-1968) here including the first two episodes.

Roy Scarfo, the US space artist, has died aged 88. He worked for General Electric and spent 16 years as its creative art director for its Space Technology Center. His work appeared in 40 books and on TV specials narrated by Frank McGee, Walter Cronkite, and Orson Welles. He collaborated with futurists Isaac Asimov and Alvin Toffler.

Paul von Ragué Schleyer, the US chemist, has died aged 84. As a graduate student he discovered a simple way to make adamantane, the simplest subunit of diamond. This enabled the development of two commercial drugs: memantine (which improves cognitive function in Alzheimer's patients) and saxagliptin (which helps diabetics regulate insulin levels). He went on to work on organic compund structure and the potential roles of carbocations (positively charged organic ions). When George Olah received the 1994 Novel for cation research, some thought Schleyer might have received it too. In the early 1960s he worked on predicting the structure of theoretical compounds; predictions that were later proved experimentally. In 1976 he moved to Germany and used computing to predict synthetic pathways. In 1983 he predicted that a carbon-lithium6 molecule could be synthesised: it was nine years later when it actually was in the lab. In 1990 he moved to Georgia University back in the US.

Eckhard Schwettmann, the German SF publicist, has died aged just 57. From the mid-1990s to just after the turn of the millennium he was at Germany's VPM imprint, where he established the marketing department for the Perry Rhodan series. Later he became head of the Moewig book publisher. Under his leadership, Moewig launched Perry Rhodan sci-fi, space opera novels in Russia, China, Brazil and the US as well as a new book series in Germany. In 2003, he became Managing Director at the publisher Humboldt where he saw the publication of four non-fiction books on Perry Rhodan.

Stu Shiffman, the US fan artist and cartoonist, has died aged 58. He was a winner of a Fan Artist Hugo Award in 1990 (previously building up the record for most Fan Artist Hugo nominations) and the Rotsler Award in 2010. He tragically has a stroke two years ago and recently had had a bad fall. He was especially noted for his humorous SFnally-riffed cartoons. It was all very appropriate for he was active and popular on the Worldcon fan circuit. He was also into alternate history and for many years was part of the judging panel for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History.

Carol Ann Susi, the US actress, has died from cancer at 62. Carol's SFnal role used a loud Brooklyn accent to play the voluble but unseen mother of the young engineer and SF fan Howard Wolowitz in the US comedy The Big Bang Theory. In early November at the end of the programme following her demise, the show's credits featured a picture of Susi along with a message that included 'Every time you spoke, we laughed. You're in our hearts forever'. Kaley Cuoco Sweeting, who plays Penny, posted a picture of Susi on her Facebook page adding: 'Rest in peace hilarious, adorable, sweet Carol Ann Susi. You will forever be part of the Big Bang Theory family'. Kunal Nayyar, who plays the young astronomer Raj Koothrappali wrote, 'My heart is broken. I will miss your smile. Your spirit is forever with us'. Real life big banger, biologist and actress Mayim Bialik, who plays the fictional biologist Amy Farrah Fowler, tweeted: 'Beloved Carol Ann Susi passed away, yes. The voice of Mrs Wolowitz. Oh Carol Ann'. Melissa Rauch, who plays pharmacologist Bernadette Rostenkowski tweeted: 'So grateful to have known Carol Ann Susi who brought laughter and light with her always. She'll forever be in my heart'. Warner Bros and producers of the show said: "Unseen by viewers, the Mrs Wolowitz character became a bit of a mystery throughout the show's eight seasons… What was not a mystery, however, was Carol Ann's immense talent and comedic timing, which were on display during each unforgettable appearance. In addition to her talent, Carol Ann was a constant source of joy and kindness to all."

George Slusser, the US science fiction academic, has died aged 75. He was based at California University where his duties involved curetting J. Lloyd Eaton Collection, as well as director of the Eaton Programme for Science Fiction and Fantasy Studies and where he ran its annual conference for a number of years. His non-fiction books on SF include Robert A. Heinlein: Stranger in His Own Land (1976) and The Farthest Shores of Ursula K. Le Guin (1976). His last was Gregory Benford (2014). He is noted for being responsible for translating from French to English the works Honoré de Balzac and J-H Rosny aîné.

Rod Taylor, the US actor, has died aged 84 just four days before what would have been his 85th birthday. Of SFnal note he starred in The Time Machine (1960) and The Birds (1963).

Wolfgang Thadewald, the German fan and SF semi-professional, has died aged 78. He lived in Hanover working for the tax office. He was editor of the fanzine Sol in the late 1950s. As a semi-pro he wrote many articles and compiled bibliographies on German SF. He was also an expert on Jules Verne.

Paul Vaughan, the British science broadcaster has died aged 89. Though he studied French and English at University, he went to work for a pharmaceutical company. From 1955-65 he was the Chief Press Officer of the British Medical Association. Throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and even most of the 1990s, he was the main voice the BBC's arts and science output, and was the main narrator of the BBC's main science documentary TV series Horizon. On the BBC World Service radio he presented Science in Action, and Discovery, and on Radio 4 New Worlds and Kaleidoscope (initially a science and arts programme before becoming solely arts) from its beginning in 1973 right throughout until its closure in April 1998. His refined, honeyed English accent was instantly recognisable.

Claire Walsh, the British literary publicist, has died aged 73. She is noted in SF circles for being the long-term companion to J. G. Ballard (having been introduced to him by Michael Moorcock) and, more than that, a sounding board for many of his ideas when his stories were in their embryonic stages. She worked for a number of publishing houses starting with Penguin and was for a while publicity manager for Orion's SF imprint Gollancz. She ended her professional career in 2010 having edited the in-house magazine for the Nautical Institute. In retirement she studied art history and was studying for a PhD at the time of her demise.

Rocky Wood, the New Zealand author, has died aged 59. He was an expert on Stephen King's books and worked for the man as a researcher for Doctor Sleep. He was also the current President of the Horror Writers' Association.


[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 2015


Ghostly presence created under laboratory conditions. Reported in the journal Current Biology, researchers led by Dr Giulio Rognini, from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), scanned the brains of 12 people with neurological disorders, who had reported experiencing a ghostly presence. They found that all of these patients had some kind of damage in the parts of the brain associated with self-awareness, movement and the body's position in space. For a control they tested others but added a twist. They recreated a ghostly presence by asking blindfold volunteers to move and electronically controlled arm which the volunteers could control to touch themselves. However by introducing a slight delay in the control it gave the illusion that there was another presence. When there was a delay between the timing of the movements, one third of the 48 participants reported feeling that there was a ghostly presence in the room: two of the participants found the sensation so strange, they asked for the experiments to stop. The researchers say that these strange interactions with the robot are temporarily changing brain function in the regions associated with self-awareness and perception of the body's position. The notion is that when people sense a ghostly presence, the brain is getting confused: it is miscalculating the body's position and identifying it as belonging to someone else. This work has a possible practical application in helping us to better understand neurological conditions such as schizophrenia.

Spiderman wall-crawler technology created. You may remember back in 2007 that nanotubules mimicing gecko feet created a strong 'sticky' pad, well now the technology has been created to enable someone to walk up glass walls! The hand-sized silicone pads created by a team at Stanford University can support an 11 stone (70kg) person. See

Artificial Intelligence could become a real threat to humanity says Stephen Hawking. Following his speech system getting a predictive upgrade, he started thinking about artificial intelligence. He said, "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." He added, "It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate." From which it is clear that he has either been reading mathematician Vernor Vinge's singularity SF stories or watching Terminator.

Medical implants might be re-programmed to kill! In the TV spy thriller Homeland the fictional US Vice-President William Walden was killed when terrorists used wi-fi to hack his heart pacemaker. This fictional notion was prompted by the real Vice-President Dick Cheney previously disabling his own pacemaker's reprogramming capability in 2007. Now researchers at the University of Carthage in Tunisia are attempting to see how serious are such threats and have developed software that automatically logs all procedures carried out by implants. In addition to pacemakers, defibrillators, intravenous drips and insulin pumps all have the potential to be hacked. Some 300 devices made by 40 firms had 'unchangeable' passwords that once guessed can allow someone to alter critical settings.

Anti-ageing drug being tested on dogs. Rapamycin is currently used in comparatively high doses as an anti-rejection drug following kidney transplants. Separately (Harrison et al., 2009, Nature vol. 460, p392-395), it has been shown to extend the lifetimes of mice (by 13% females and 9% males). Could it be used in humans to do the same? Well, at the doses used in transplant patients, rapamycin has been associated with diabetes but whether it will at lower doses is another matter and, even if it does not, will it extend the lives of larger mammals?  Now Matthew Kaeberlein and Daniel Promislow of Washington University (US) want to run a pilot involving 30 dogs that typically live eight to ten years but start giving the drug when they are six to nine. They already have the funding for the pilot in place and should have an indication of whether rapamycin is an effective anti-ageing drug in four years time. However, if this is a success they will then need a larger trial involving several hundred animals. And after that comes human trials. In short, this research could be of use to you if you are currently (2014) living in your forties.

DNA retains function on ballistic space rocket. Problem for Mars lander bio-integrity? European scientists (Thiel et al, PLOS One 2014, DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0112979) painted bacteria with fluorescing protein was painted in a circle around a ballistic, sub-orbital rocket, and also in the grooves of screw heads located in between the surface application sites as well as on the surface of the bottom side of the payload. Temperature measured up to 130°C during the flight on the inside of the recovery module, while outer gas temperatures of more than 1,000°C were estimated on the sample application locations. DNA was recovered from all application sites with a maximum of 53% in the grooves of the screw heads and up to 35% of DNA retained its full biological function. We already know that microbes can survive space vacuum for 1.5 years, solar electromagnetic radiation, cosmic radiation and simulated Martian surface conditions. But are they able to withstand the hostile conditions of re-entering a planet's atmosphere when they are situated e.g. on a meteorite. This suggest that life can be transferred between the Earth and Mars and also that we have to be really careful that our Martian lander probes are fully sterilised and not assume that re-entry will kill of any Earthly microbes that may go on to contaminate the Red Planet.

Scientists' guilty verdict squashed for failing to predict future earthquake. On 31st March 2009 a commission of experts met to advise the Italian government as to major earthquake risk in the region around the medieval town of L'Aquila. A press statement made following the meeting concluded that an earthquake was unlikely as there was an ongoing (gentle) discharge of energy. Consequently, when an earthquake struck on 6th April 2009 twenty-nine people chose to stay indoors and died: total fatalities were over 300. Subsequently, all the members of the commission were charged and found guilty of manslaughter in October 2012 after a 13-month trial.  Now, predicting the future is the stuff of science fiction and fantasy, and no scientist can predict such events as earthquakes with any accuracy. You may have thought this obvious, but it was not to the Italian courts. This brings us to November 2014 when the Italian appeal court squashed the scientists' 6-year sentences. The defence argued that there was no evidence proving that the L'Aquila residents behaviour had been determined by the press statement and also that the actual scientific (not the press) statements by the experts were ultimately correct. Bernado De Bernardinis, then deputy director of the Italian Civil Protection department was the person conveying the reassuring message, has been acquitted of 16 charges but not the other 13. Lawyers for the families of those that died are challenging the ruling in the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome. A retrial may result?

Jeans and jackets that prevent digital hacking are being developed. The Security software maker Norton have teamed up with San Francisco-based Betabrand to make the jeans and a jacket. The jeans will retail at £96 (US$151) and the blazer at £126 (US$198). They will impede thieves hacking into radio frequency identification (RFID) tagged passports or contactless payment cards.

Politician's fingerprint 'captured' from a normal photograph. A member of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) hacker network claims to have 'cloned' a thumbprint of a German politician by using commercial software and images taken at a news conference. Given the increasing importance of biometrics such as fingerprints, this may mean that VIPs will need to wear gloves in public.

Art and science history of forensics exhibition in London. From Jack the Ripper and Crippen to the recent Bosnian conflict, the exhibition – called 'Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime – is being held at the Wellcome Collection, Euston, London from 26th February to 21st June 2014.



[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 2015

End Bits


Well, that is 2014 done and dusted. The science development of the year that sort of resonates with a kind of SFnal riff was arguably the creation of artificial life with artificial base pairs.  Meanwhile 2014 was..:-
          The 40th anniversary of the discovery of Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) AL 288-1 who lived an estimated 3.2 million years ago.
          The 50th anniversary of John Stewart Bell's seminal paper 'On the Einstein Podolsky Rosen paradox' (Physics vol. 1 (3), p195–200) that casts doubt on 'local realism' and suggests that faster-than-light communication may be possible through quantum entanglement. This upsets unquestioning followers of Einstein who himself famously dismissed it as 'spooky action at a distance'.
          The 50th anniversary of the Isaac Asimov collection The Rest of the Robots, John Brunner's novel Telepathist, Fritz Leiber's The Wanderer, Clifford D. Simak's The Way Station and the film Doctor Strangelove.
          The 75th anniversary of Batman's first appearance.
          The 90th anniversary of the BBC Greenwich pips and also the birth of Rod Serling.
          The 100th anniversary of the discovery of crystallography by the German physicist Max von Laue who contemplated that the diffraction pattern of x-rays through a crystal would be determined by the crystal's structure.
          The 400th anniversary of Scotland's John Napier's formulation of logarithms.

And now we are firmly into 2015.  2015 will..:-
          See New Horizons reach Pluto.
          Be the 25th anniversary of the Hubble space telescope's launch.
          Be the 50th anniversary of the publication of Frank Herbert's Dune, Stanislaw Lem's The Cyberiad, Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughter House 5, the first appearance of The Trigan Empire and first broadcast of Thunderbirds.
          The 60th anniversary of the German SF Club (SFCD).
          Hopefully see Brian Aldiss turn 90 in August.
          The 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein's presentation to the Prussian Academy of Science on field equations (that underpin General Relativity) in November.
          The 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
          The 200th anniversary of the first geological map of Great Britain by William Smith.

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

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Lise Anderson, Arno Behrend, Sue Burke, Angel Carralero, Pierre Gevart, Carolina Gomez Lagerlof and Alqua Kun.  Thanks also go to a veritable legion of others including numerous Brits and other Europeans sending in views and unofficial personal comment 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 (2014) also saw articles from: Sue Burke, Darrell Buxton, Tony Chester, Ian Hunter, Roberto Quaglia, Peter Tyers and Jim Walker.  Stand-alone book reviews over the year were provided by: David Allkins, Mark Bilsborough, Arthur Chappell, Jonathan Cowie, Richard Edwards, Susan Griffiths, Ian Hunter, Duncan Lunan, Peter Tyers and Peter Young.  'Futures stories' in 2014 involved liaison with Colin Sullivan at Nature, 'Futures' PDF editing by Bill Parry that included stories from: Brian Clegg, Connor Powers-Smith, Deborah Walker and Sylvia Spruck Wrigley.  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) and Graham Connor (sleeping co-founding editor).

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Summer 2015 period – needs to be in before mid-March 2015. 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.

Je suis Charlie

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