Science Fiction News
& Recent Science Review for the
Spring 2023

(N.B. Our seasons relate to the northern hemisphere 'academic year'.)

This SF & science news page builds on the
seasonal science fiction news previously posted.

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Spring 2023

Editorial Comment & Staff Stuff

 

EDITORIAL COMMENT

The elephant currently in the room that is Robert Sawyer. Let's hope that there will be no trouble.  First the back story, in case there is anyone new to this site who is unaware. The 2023 SF Worldcon will be held in Chengdu China. That China won the site selection vote was itself controversial due to: the nation's hostile policy to Taiwan; breaking the Hong Kong treaty by not allowing democratic, local self-governance; and its poor civil rights record to its own people not least minorities such as the Uyghurs.  But in addition, two of its three Guests of Honour (GoHs) have a very questionable public views: its Chinese GoH supports China's re-education camps policy for Uyghurs, while its Russian GoH proactively supports Putin's war against Ukraine and forcible re-education of Ukrainians. And so we come to the third GoH, Canada's Robert Sawyer who will be standing on a Chinese cultural platform along side the other GoHs.
          Despite
authors and most recently Polish SF fans calling for Chengdu GoH disinvites, and not least ourselves for both Sergei and Cixin disinvites, Robert Sawyer has remained silent.  This has not gone unnoticed by fandom with leading sites such as the multi-Hugo winning Ansible saying 'Canada’s Robert Sawyer seems blithely unconcerned about sharing a platform'.  Maybe, having had decades of a successful SF career and much fan accolades behind him, he does not care and will revel in being a Chengdu Worldcon guest? Or maybe there is something else?  So what might be going on?
          Well, we know that Sawyer is aware of the Ukrainian invasion – he even had the Ukrainian flag on his Facebook profile page and given the common public knowledge of China's stance against the Uyghurs and the Chengdu Worldcon being high on the SF Community's news and China issues being regularly covered by various nation's (including Canada's) national media, Sawyer can't really play the ignorance card of not knowing what is going on. So, if he goes to Chengdu and says nothing he would be unlikely to get as many convention guest invites in the future as he has in the past and his respected standing in the SF community would suffer, with his having the Ukrainian flag on his social media be seen simply as virtue signalling.  This leaves two principal options as to what may be happening.
          The first may be that Sawyer is so enamoured with being a Worldcon GoH that he is happy to be used by China as a cultural soft-power tool and content to share a stage with the other GoHs.  But is the man that facile or uncaring?  Well, as a best-selling man of words one would think not.  Indeed, if he did publicly stand down from the Chengdu Worldcon stating his reasons, the chance are that he would quickly be asked (and if not many fans would lobby for him) to be a GoH at another Worldcon: he would in all probability still get to have the Worldcon GoH experience.
          The second option is that he may go to Chengdu and on that stage publicly condemn Russia's war and China's behaviour to its own and neighbouring nation citizens.  And here is why at the top of this editorial we said 'let's hope that there will be no trouble'.  For here's the thing, if Sawyer did make a stand on the Chengdu stage the Chinese authorities would be unlikely simply to let it pass. The very least that might happen is that he would be detained and coerced (successfully/unsuccessfully) to retract before leaving that country. The very worst is much worse (especially if any coercion to retract was unsuccessful).
          In short, Sawyer needs to be vigilant.  On one hand his reputation in the free world is at stake. On the other there is his personal safety.  Fortunately, there are other options and the man really needs to think very carefully.

 

STAFF STUFF

Charles Partington has sadly died. We knew it would happen sometime and it has been with increasing worry over recent years that he has not been seen at SF gatherings. Nonetheless, it was with much sadness that we learned of his passing.  Some of our long-time followers might recall that Chuck, along with Harry Nadler, back in our print days, was responsible for printing our first edition (1987) – we were originally a print zine in our first decade. Charles was a dear friend and a number of us enjoyed his company at numerous conventions over the decades.  We have in our Rest in Peace section below a larger than usual Charles Partington obituary as well as a more lengthy and illustrated stand-alone tribute.

Graham Connor, Charles Partington, Jonathan Cowie' Laura Wheatley
Graham Connor, Charles Partington, Jonathan Cowie & Laura Wheatley

 

We finally received our 2012 Eurocon Award from the European SF Society.  This delivery time possible could be something of a record?!  The SF² Concatenation won the 2012 Eurocon Award for 'Best website' (that was among other previous Eurocon award category wins) as voted on by those at the European SF Society’s convention which, that year, was held in Croatia.
          This was our fourth Eurocon Award. The previous being: 'Best Fanzine' (given in Romania in 1994); 'Best Promoter' (Ireland, 1997); and 'Honorary' (Bulgaria, 2004). It is somewhat pleasing to note that other than 1997, all the others were in non-British Isles European countries and so their fan voting ambience was not dominated by a home crowd.
          None us were at the Croatian Eurocon convention and so Martin Hoare kindly collected it for us.  It was due to be handed on at the following UK Eastercon with, if that failed, a stop-gap handover at the Loncon 3 Worldcon. Alas, on both occasions Martin forgot.  Then, sadly, Martin passed away.
          Step in Dave (Ansible) Langford who managed to find the award at Martin's home and so plans were made for a 2020 pick-up in Reading, Berkshire, en route to a NIRD luncheon (National Institute for Research into Dairying and not a geek gathering).  But the gods were conspiring, and a global pandemic put matters on hold.
          With the easing of CoVID-19 restrictions, diaries were consulted, the upshot of which was that a handover was made en route to this year's NIRD luncheon. And, as a visit to Northumberland Heath (SE London), Kent, was coming up, and as the Heath was where SF2 Concatenation began back in 1987, the award had an unpacking at the local SF group’s monthly meet in October. (Note below the beautifully balanced blend of books and beer on the table.)


The 2012 Eurocon Award trophy
10 years ago.


Those who accepted the various category
Eurocon Award wins at Zagreb (2012).

Eurocon Award
The Award's unpacking at North Heath SF (2022).

 

Elsewhere this issue…
Aside from this seasonal news page, elsewhere this issue (vol. 33 (1) Spring 2023) we have stand-alone items on:-
          Charles Partington: A Life in Science Fiction
          Space Exploration 2022 – Ian Moss
          The 2022/3 Science Museum Science & SF Exhibition – Jonathan Cowie
          Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Is it time for a reappraisal? – Mark Yon
          Chicon 8 - The 2022 Chicago Worldcon – Sue Burke
          Chicon 8 - The 2022 Worldcon's Polish Programme Track – Marcin Klak
          British Fantasycon 2022 – Ian Hunter
          The Sci-Fi London 2022 Film Fest – Jonathan Cowie
          The Best SF Books & Films of 2022 - Possibly?
          2022 SF Film Top Ten Chart and Other Worthies
(All archived annual film charts are indexed here)
          SF Convention Listing & Film Diary with links to con sites and film trailers
          Ten years ago. One from the archives: 23rd Festival of Fantastic Films 2012 - Darrell Buxton
          Plus over thirty (30!) SF/F/H standalone fiction book and non-fiction SF and popular science book reviews.  Hopefully something here for every science type who is into SF in this our 36th year. For full details of the latest contents see our What's New page.

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Spring 2023

Key SF News & SF Awards

 

 

 

Best SF/F books of 2022? Yes, it is the start of a new year and so once more 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 (many are available elsewhere and can be ordered from specialist bookshops). 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 and Fantasy books of 2022:-
          Amongst our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch (supernatural police procedural)
          Upgrade by Blake Crouch (SF bio-hack thriller)
          Beyond the Burn Line by Paul McAuley (post-apocalyptic ''first' contact)
          The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (horror romance)
          Eversion by Alastair Reynolds (fantastical cyberpunk?)
          Sea of Tranquility: A novel by Emily St. John Mandel (time travel)
          Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchaikovsky (space opera)
And, with the benefit of hindsight, how did we do?  Well, we will have to wait until later in the year to see which works get short-listed for, or win, SF awards. Last year's Best SF/F novels here.  (Last year all our suggested Best SF novels were short-listed or won major SF awards. You can scroll down or dedicated annual choice of best SF page to see how our choices have fared over the years. Full details here.)

Best SF/F films and long forms of 2021? So if you are looking for something to watch then why not check out these Science Fiction and Fantasy films and long-forms of 2021. Possibilities alphabetically include:-
          Oegye+in 1bu (Alienoid) (Trailer here)
          The Batman (Trailer here)
          Everything Everywhere All at Once (Trailer here)
          Nope (Trailer here)
          Prey (Trailer here)
          Slash/Back (Trailer here)
          Spider-Man: No Way Home (Trailer here)
          Three Thousand Years of Longing (Trailer here)

And, with the benefit of hindsight, how did we do?  Well, we will have to wait until later in the year to see which works get short-listed for, or win, SF awards. Last year's Best SF/F films here.  (Last year four of the films we selected were short-listed and/or won awards.  See here, scrolling down a bit.)

The British Fantasy Awards, from the British Fantasy Society, have been presented.  The winners were:-
          Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award): She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
          Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award): The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
          Best Novella: Defekt by Nino Cipri
          Best Short: 'Bathymetry' by Lorraine Wilson
          Best Anthology: Sinopticon: A Celebration of Chinese Science Fiction edited by Xueting C. Ni
          Best Artist: Daniele Serra
          Best Collection: Never Have I Ever by Isabel Yap
          Best Film/Television Production: Last Night in Soho
          Best Audio: Monstrous Agonies
          Best Independent Press: Luna Press Publishing
          Best Magazine/Periodical: Apex Magazine
          Best Graphic Novel: The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag
          Best Newcomer (Sydney J. Bounds Award): Shelley Parker-Chan for She Who Became the Sun
          Best Non-Fiction: Writing the Uncanny by eds. Dan Coxon & Richard V. Hirst
          Best Artist: Jenni Coutts
          The Special Award (the Karl Edward Wagner Award): Maureen Kincaid Speller
Last year's Awards here.

The 2022 World Fantasy Awards have been announced.  The winners were:-
          Novel: The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
          Novella: And What Can We Offer You Tonight by Premee Mohamed
          Short Fiction: '(emet)' by Lauren Ring
          Anthology: The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021) edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
          Collection: Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan by Usman T. Malik
          Artist: Tran Nguyen
          Special Award – Professional: Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, for Monstress Volume Six: The Vow
          Special Award – Non-professional: onia Ransom, for Nightlight: A Horror Fiction Podcast
          Lifetime Achievement: Samuel R. Delany & Terri Windling
          +++ For last year's winners see here.

The 36th Clarke (book) Award has been announced. The winner of the juried award is: Deep Wheel Orcadia by Harry Josephine Giles (click on the title link for a standalone review). ++++ See the 'other' Clarke Award news below in the science and SF interface section.

The inaugural Utopia Awards were presented during The Climate Fiction Conference (#CliFiCon22). The winners were:-
          Best Novella: A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
          Best Novelette: A Song Born by Remi Skytterstad
          Best Anthology/Collection: Reckoning 5 edited by Cécile Cristofari and Leah Bobet
          Best Short: 'All We Have Left Is Ourselves' by Oyedotun Damilola Muees
          Best Poem: 'Mythic Book Emporium' by Mary Soon Lee
          Best Art: Erewhon and Other Strange Utopias by Roger Leege
          Best Non-Fiction: On the Destruction and Restoration of Habitats by Prya ChandBest Curator: Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors

The 2022 Booker Prize goes to a fantasy horror novel. The prestigious £50,000 prize, for a single work of fiction published in the UK in English, also gives the other five writers on the shortlist £2,500 each. The winner was The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka. He said he decided in 2009 to write "a ghost story where the dead could offer their perspective" after the end of the Sri Lankan civil war, "when there was a raging debate over how many civilians died and whose fault it was". He also added: "I hope it's in print in 10 years... if it is, I hope it's written in a Sri Lanka that learns from its stories, and that Seven Moons will be in the fantasy section of the bookshop, next to the dragons, the unicorns and will not be mistaken for realism or political satire." The novel is a metaphysical who-dunnit which is part murder mystery, part comedy? It starts in the afterlife, which turns out to be bureaucratic and banal. It then flips back and forth between the underworld and the real world during the Sri Lankan civil war in 1990 as Maali Almeida tries to work out who killed him - and why.

 

Other SF news includes:-

Locus, the US science fiction publishing monthly magazine, is fundraising due to reduced advertising. Locus is arguably the best window on the US science fiction publishing scene. (It does look at SF publishing elsewhere but its N. American coverage is exceptional.) Founded in 1968 it has provided over 740 issues and accrued numerous Hugo Awards along the way. Sadly advertising revenue has plummeted. This is both part of a long-term trend and also the current global recession. So a fund-raiser is needed. Do check out igg.me/at/locusmag.

Leading Russian SF/ author Sergei Lukyanenko again affirms support for Russian President Putin and his war against Ukraine. Sergei Lukyanenko is one of Russia's best-selling SF/F authors. His 'Night Watch' series has been hugely popular across the Russian Federation and been published in the west as well as transferring to the big screen.  Shortly after Chengdu, China, won the 2023 site selection vote, Chengdu announced that their Guest of Honours would include Cixin Liu, who supports China's actions against the Uyghurs (causing authors to call for Chengdu to have its Worldcon revoked), and Sergei Lukyanenko, who has voiced as well as led a petition in support of Putin and his war which caused a number to call for him to be dis-invited including a motion by the World SF Society (the body under whose auspices Worldcon governance is run). (SF² Concatenation in turn has called upon Chengdu's western Guest of Honour to refuse to share a platform with Lukyanenko which, if he does not make a stand, he is currently set to do so.) Alas while the motion at the World SF Society passed, the Chengdu Worldcon ignored it. (And the western GoH at the Chengdu Worldcon so far appears unconcerned about sharing a stage with those who hold views that are crimes against humanity.)
          Despite Russia's failings in Ukraine, and news from returning Russian soldiers informing the general population (who have been under a free press ban and western information internet sites blockade), this autumn Sergei Lukyanenko affirmed his support for the war.  SF² Concatenation's ISP organiser, Boris, is Ukrainian and based in Kyiv. He monitors Russian SF social media and has reported Sergei Lukyanenko saying, “Deliberately and ruthlessly, fascist scum should go to hell”, meaning “all Ukrainians”. When Boris reported this latest Lukyanenko news, Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were under missile attack. Boris let us know that: “As of 11 am Kyiv time, 11th October, 19 have died, 105 were wounded, 199 buildings are damaged including 46 private houses and 30 flat complexes, 98 schools, kindergartens, hospitals. Russia launched over 80 missiles and over 40 kamikaze UAVs, half of which were shot down by the Ukrainian air defence.”
          Then at the end of October, Sergei Lukyanenko appeared on Russian TV, interviewed by pro-Putin Anton Krasovsky. Krasovsky reportedly suggested that children in Ukraine criticising Russia should be drowned in the river. Lukyanenko added, "In Russia [they] traditionally used rods. They are better than the river.” Also he reportedly proposed maybe not drowned but rather re-conditioned to love Russians. (Reuters report here.) Lukyanenko is reported as saying that Krasovsky’s call to drown Ukrainian children was a 'journalistic technique’.
          Meanwhile, it is not known whether a high-ranking member of the Communist Party of China will take part in the opening of the Chengdu SF Worldcon. Currently, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is implementing a policy of compulsory imprisonment and 're-education' of Uyghurs as well as recently hinting at a military takeover of Taiwan. The question therefore arises as to whether the Worldcon SF community wishes to be associated with those supporting and instigating crimes against humanity?

Petition by Polish SF fandom to disinvite Sergei Lukyanenko as a GoH from the Chengdu Worldcon There is really little more to say. A welcome campaign but sadly the Chinese are unlikely to be moved especially as their own Chinese GoH has spoken in favour of Uyghur re-education camps.  ++++   Related previous news elsewhere on this site:
  – China 2023 Worldcon spring 2022 news
  – Horror Writers Association condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine
  – The Authors Guild condemns the invasion of Ukraine.
  – The SFWA did not originally want to take a stand on Ukrainian invasion but then changed its mind with a basic statement of support.
  – The European SF Society suspends Russia and Belarus.
  – Western science publishers are divided over Russian research paper ban.

The 2023 Worldcon, Chengdu, China, has awarded all those who voted in its site selection Hugo voting rights! Previously, the Chengdu Worldcon split the membership into two broad camps: those with and (at a much cheaper rate) those without World SF Society – WSFS (essentially Hugo Award nominating and voting) membership rights.  This was arguably a good thing as it made it less likely that works that had only appeared in Chinese in China (and so unknown to the vast majority of the traditional Worldcon community) would get short-listed. This was of potential concern.  Of course, the Chengdu committee have the right for having their own special Hugo category for the year, and so could have a category for Best Chinese SF Novel (in Chinese) category should they wish and this would benefit those Chinese speaking solely Chinese who paid for full attending membership and WSFS rights.  However, as we understand it, by extending WSFS rights for 2023 to all who voted in that convention's site selection in 2022, will open the doors to over 2,000 mostly Chinese fans who have never before had involvement with the Worldcon and Hugos.  It could mean a win for works that have only appeared in Chinese and so could not be enjoyed by the regular, and Anglophone, Worldcon community. Of course, some might say that this was a good thing?

The 2023 Worldcon has yet to release its first Progress Report. This builds on last season's news of Chengdu organisational delays. Typically, in the two years following a Worldcon winning their site selection vote, four or five Progress Reports are issued every three or four months to attending members and PDFs put on the Worldcon's website. However, with just seven short months until the 2023 Worldcon in Chengdu, China, no Progress Reports have yet been produced.  Apparently it is a funding thing – Chengdu appears to be cash poor – that is required for the hotels to confirm details and reportedly the Worldcon is seeking sponsorship from sponsors including a number of governmental agencies. So, expect the Chinese government to have a fat finger in this particular Worldcon.
          Because of the lack so far of Progress Reports and because Hugo nominating and short-list votes all take time, let alone the 2023 site selection pitches and voting, it looks like these aspects of the Chengdu Worldcon will have to proceed separately to the Progress Reports and be run by fans outside of China.
          On so many levels arguably, this particular Worldcon should never have come into being and so the Worldcon constitution and rules desperately need to be modified. This is not just because of this particular Worldcon but other Worldcon bids of concern such as Uganda.

UK 2023 Filkcon, Long-Play, has been cancelled. The 32nd UK Filkcon, Long-Play has been cancelled primarily due to hotel problems and the cost of living crisis arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine energy and food crises. First, the convention lost its hotel for the second year running and despite trying alternatives, none could match the price commitment of the first. It was offered the opportunity to tack the convention onto the UK Eastercon 2023, but the responses to that were unenthusiastic, so the committee decided not to go down that route. The lead members of the committee have therefore decided not to proceed and to stand down for this year. Having said that, they have left open the option for others to step into the breach.

The H. G. Wells Society (Romania) marks the 50th anniversary of its clubzine Paradox. The H. G. Wells Society was originally the student SF group for Timisoara, Romania's second city after its capital. Half a century ago, the society was formed in the communist era. Initially, the authorities questioned the naming of the society after a western SF author but the students got their way by pointing out that Wells was a socialist. Shortly after, the society created its clubzine, Paradox. However the authorities did not allow it to be numbered as they said there would be no second edition. How wrong they were. And then in 1990 there was the fall of the Iron Curtain and the revolution that overthrew the Ceausescu regime. This helped secure the society's existence.
          In 1994 the H. G. Wells Society was one of the two Timisoara SF groups that helped put on Romania's first Eurocon which was held in that city. At that Eurocon, two of the Special Guests were two of SF² Concatenation's founding editors and the Concatenation team worked with members of H. G. Wells to produce a tri-lingual edition of the (then) print edition of the zine. (That edition at that convention went on to win the first of Concatenation's four Eurocon Awards.) After that Eurocon SF² Concatenation with the then NW Kent SF Society (now N. Heath SF) for the next nine years run a series of cultural exchange events: four in Romania and two in Britain involving Hungarian, Romanian and British SF fans and authors. These included involvement with SF conventions, Mayoral receptions, book launches, BBC World Service broadcasts among much else.
          Today the H. G. Wells students have gone on to have their own careers and begun to retire. Some have become SF translators and others authors (one of whom has won national book awards). In November (2022) the H. G. Wells SF Society marked the 50th anniversary of the first edition of Paradox with a special half-century edition. This was Paradox's 29th edition.
          Happy birthday.

And finally….

Future SF Worldcon bids and seated Worldcons currently running  with LGBT+ freedom percentage (Equaldex.com ) scores in bold, include for:-
2023
          - Chengdu, China (seated Worldcon) 42%
2024
          - Glasgow, Great Britain in 2024 (seated Worldcon) 82%
2025
          - Brisbane, Australia in 2025 - Now 2028
          - Seattle, WA, USA in 2025 82%
2026
          - Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2026 (civil rights concerns noted two years ago)
          - Cairo, Egypt in 2026 (replaces Jeddah above) 12%
          - Los Angeles in 2026, USA 82%
          - Orlando in 2026, USA 82%
          - Nice, France in 2026 - Bid folded
2027
          - Tel Aviv in 2027, Israel 74%
2028
          - Brisbane, Australia in 2028 84% (but is so silent it might have died)
          - Kampala, Uganda in 2028 (all be there civil rights concerns) 15%
2029
          - Dublin in 2029, Republic of Ireland 74%
2031
          - Texas in 2031, USA 54%
          The LGBT+ equality percentages come from File770 which in turn came from Tammy Coxon pointing out the Equaldex.com equality rankings. We added the UK score that was not included in the original File770 August 2022 posting.

Future SF Eurocon bids currently running  include for:-
          - Aland, Finland (2025)
          - Berlin, Germany (2026)
          - Zagreb, Croatia (2028)

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Spring 2023

Film News

 

E.T. sells for US$$2,560,000 (£2.1 million)! The original E.T. model made by Italian Carlo Rambaldi for the Spielberg film was auctioned at Beverly Hills' Julien's Auctions. Also sold was a plaster model of E.T. that went fort £102,578.

Avatar: The Way of Water grosses US$1bn (£831m) at the global box office in just 14 days, becoming the fastest film to pass the milestone this year.  However, this is a grossing figure and is not what the studio will receive after cinemas and distributors take their share. Avatar: The Way Of Water needs to gross US$2 billion to break even!  There is a lot riding on its box office performance, as it is the first of four planned sequels, with future instalments coming in 2024, 2026 and 2028. Director James Cameron shot the third movie in tandem with The Way of Water, as well as "a little bit" of the fourth to ensure his child actors still looked the right age.  You can see the trailer here.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is to see the Ben Affleck Batman. Last year, Ben Affleck confirmed his final appearance as Batman will be in DC’s The Flash slated for 23rd June (2023). Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is the sequel to 2018’s Aquaman. You can see the Aquaman (2018) trailer here.

Godzilla vs. Kong sequel has a working title Origins. So this could well be a prequel that will explore the inception of the Titans and the ancient civilization that inhabited Hollow Earth?  In Godzilla vs. Kong, the powerful primate journeyed into Hollow Earth to find a lizard-killing weapon he could use to show Godzilla who’s the king of the jungle. During this underground adventure, we learned that humans used to live in Hollow Earth many millennia ago, building colossal temples to worship Kong’s ancestors. In one particular scene, we even see a throne room with a small door in the base of a chair, indicating that humanity lived side by side with monsters in the past.  The film is currently slated for 15th March 2024 (but you can expect that to slip).  Meanwhile Apple TV+ is developing a Godzilla and the Titans series.  You can see the Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) trailer here.

The Haunted Mansion re-make gains cast. This is a re-make of the 2003 film which in turn was inspired by a Disney theme park ride. It will be directed by Justin Simien from a screenplay by Katie Dippold. It now has a principal cast, namely: Rosario Dawson, LaKeith Stanfield, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Winona Ryder, Dan Levy, Jared Leto, Danny DeVito, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Shooting is taking place.  It is currently slated for an August (2023) release.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife sequel sees the return of Mckenna Grace. Mckenna Grace reprises her role as Phoebe Spengler, granddaughter of original ghostebuster member Egon Spengler (the late Harold Ramis). Ghostbusters: Afterlife introduced an entirely new – and younger – cast of characters. The film followed a mother (Carrie Coon) and her children (Finn Wolfhard and Grace) as they left their lives behind to move into an old family house in Oklahoma. It’s there that the kids uncover the truth about their family - that their grandfather was a member of the Ghostbusters. As they dive further into their grandfather’s background, the children are swept up into the family business and soon find themselves busting some ghosts of their own… The new film apparently relocates back to New York.  If the post credit addendum snippet at the end of Ghostbusters: Afterlife is anything to go by, it might signal the start of the forthcoming sequel film. In which case, it could be that the power for the ghost containment chamber is failing allowing ghosts from the original two films to escape If all goes well, note the 'if', the sequel film might just be out for December (2023).  We cited Ghostbusters: Afterlife as one of the best films of 2021.  Meanwhile you can watch the Ghostbusters: Afterlife climactic scene with the original Ghostbusters here.

The Leader character in Captain America: New World Order is cast. 'The Leader' will be played by Tim Blake Nelson. The film also sees a new Captain America actor with Sam Wilson. The newcomers to the Captain America franchise will share the screen with returning Falcon And Winter Soldier Danny Ramirez, back as Joaquin Torres (a military intelligence friend of Sam Wilson's). Captain America: New World Order is currently slated for a May 2024 release.

Megalopolis gains its cast. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather,1972, Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1992), the film's cast will include Shia LaBeouf, Adam Driver, Nathalie Emmanuel, Forest Whitaker, Laurence Fishburne, Jon Voight and Aubrey Plaza.  Coppola has been working to make Megalopolis for some years and was put on the back-burner after the real-life 9/11 in 2001. The film concerns an architect who wants to rebuild New York City as a utopia following a devastating disaster.

Zombie Town gains its cast. Zombie Town is based on the children's author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name. Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe will play the teen co-lead roles in the family adventure. Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase are also onboard. The film sees a quiet town is upended when young Mike and his friend Amy watch a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters come off the screen and chase them… The film is slated for a limited cinematic release in 2023 before streaming on Hulu in the US and ABC in Australia.

Ursa Major gains its cast. Ursa Major is an SF adventure concerning a mother and daughter fighting for survival on an Earth-like planet, hiding from a group of relentless hunters with the added threat of an imminent and deadly storm approaches. But Natalie, now a teenager, has begun to question her mother’s decisions, her explanation of who there are, how they got here and what they need to do to survive… Mary Elizabeth (Birds of Prey, Gemini Man and Fargo) Winstead and Xochitl (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) Gomez will star. The Baker Brothers will direct.

Cloverfield 4 gains its director: Babak Anvari. Anvari is a relative newcomer. He was a producer and director of Wounds and executive producer of Monsterland, a Hulu exclusive show.  The original Cloverfield (2008) was a slow burn not entering that year's top ten SF/F/H but ultimately made US$172 million worldwide with an estimated budget of US$25 million. Then 10 Cloverfield Lane (trailer here) grossed US$110 million world wide with an estimated budget of $15 million. Then we had the 2018, direct-to-Netflix The Cloverfield Paradox which was a bit of a stinker and flopped despite an estimated budget of US$50m. All of which means much rides on Cloverfield 4 for the future of the franchise.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' production has started and gets a tentative release date.  The film stars Owen (It) Teague with Freya (The Witcher) Allan, Peter (The Orville) Macon, Eka (Jessica Jones) Darville and Kevin (Locke and Key) Durand. Wes (Maze Runner helmer) Ball will direct.  The film is set many years after the events depicted in War For the Planet of the Apes and will likely see the enslavement of what is left of a mindless humanity. Shooting is underway in Disney Studios Australia.  The film is currently slated for a May 2024 release.  You can see the teaser here.

A Quiet Place: Day One tentatively slated for a 2024 release.  The original aliens-who-hunt-by-sound invasion film opened months after the invasion, later jumping ahead to roughly a year in. Part II did begin on the first day, showing the Abbotts enjoying a normal day with their friends and neighbours before a mysterious meteor hurdles toward Earth. While we do see the immediate aftermath of the invasion, it is limited to the opening minutes of the film. This third offering returns to the original invasion. It won't end well… It is currently slated for a March 2024 release.

Deadpool 3 to see Wolverine, and a mean one at that. It has been four years since Deadpool 2. Hugh Jackman originally said Logan (2017) would be his last time in the role but now it looks like he will be back. Jackman has teased his Wolverine will be even 'angrier', dismissing the chance of a gentler version of the X-Men mutant under Disney's banner.  The film is currently slated for a September 2024 release.

Blade to be the next addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Yann Demange is onboard to direct having replaced Bassam Tariq who had scheduling complications.  Yann Demange previously directed the first episode of HBO’s Lovecraft Country having made his big-screen directorial debut in 2014 with ’71 which won him Best Director at the British Independent Film Awards.  The vampire-slaying character was originally created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan, introduced in July 1973’s The Tomb of Dracula no. 10.  Wesley Snipes played Blade across three films from 1998 through 2004, and he was played by Sticky Fingaz in a short-lived TV series.  Currently, Mahershala Ali is tipped to star in the new re-boot. This, it is said, will feature a darker tone than earlier MCU projects. It is currently slated for a September 2024 release.

The Fantastic Four re-boot gains a director. Matt Shakman will direct. He previously directed the Nebula Award-winning WandaVision. The first official Fantastic Four adaptation was in 2005 came from director Tim Story and performed well at the box office. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007). Then the franchise bombed (9% on Rotten Tomatoes) with the 2015 Josh Trank re-boot.  However, with the Disney acquisition of 20th Century Fox, the rights to the characters were returned to Marvel Studios, allowing for a fresh reboot. The debut of The Fantastic Four in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the film is currently slated to be released in November, 2024.

In The Blink of an Eye gets Andrew Stanton as director.  Stanton is best known for his animation: A Bug's Life (1998), Wall-E (2008), Finding Nemo (2003) and its 2016 sequel, Finding Dory. He also co-wrote the scripts for Monsters, Inc. (2001) and all four films of the Toy Story franchise.  He has, though, done live-action film with John Carter (2012). He has also directed live action TV including episodes of: Better Call Saul, Legion, For All Mankind and Stranger Things.   In The Blink of an Eye is being touted as an SF epic.  This film has long struggle to move on from just being a script; Colby Day apparently penned the original version over half a decade ago. It is reported as being inspired by: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar and Magnolia. It is said to use three plot lines spanning thousands of years and explore the entire history of the world and tackle the nature of life, love, hope and connection… So, much hype to live up to.

The latest Nosferatu gets a director and principal cast.  It will be directed by Robert (The Witch & The Northman Eggers.  The principal cast includes Bill Skarsgard as the titular vampire, and Lily-Rose Depp as the main subject of the blood suckers' attention… While the 1922 F. W. Murnau, silent film did need an update, this was ably done with the Werner Herzog 1979 version. All of which begs the question as to why we need a new take? The bar is set high!

Cold Storage SF thriller gets a director and principal cast.  The film follows a small team of people led by a bio-terror expert in a race against time to destroy a dangerous micro-organism before it escapes a research facility. Several decades ago, a highly infectious, constantly mutating micro-organism – capable of extinction-level destruction – was contained in a military facility. In the present day, the military has sealed the facility’s lowest sublevel, selling the remaining space to a self-storage company. As temperatures rise underground, the micro-organism finds a way to escape and, if left to spread, it will soon uncontrollably multiply around the world.  The cast will include Georgina Campbell, Liam Neeson and Joe Keery. Jonny Campbell directs.

The next Star Wars film gets a director and writer.  It will be directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and written by Damon Lindelof. Obaid-Chinoy’s has already directed two episodes of the first season of the Disney Plus series Ms. Marvel.

The Omen is to get a prequel film!  20th Century Studios is to make The First Omen which will be a prequel to the original 1976 Omen, that starred Gregory Peck, Lee Remick and Harvey Stephens. That film followed an American ambassador who comes to believe his five-year-old son is the Antichrist. That film saw three sequels and then a 2006 reboot. There was also a short-lived Damien television series. So 20th Century have grounds to think that more cash can be wrung out of the franchise. Tiger (Game Of Thrones) Free will star. Arkasha Stevenson will make her feature directorial debut and assist in the writing with Tim Smith.

The Bang! comic series is to become a Netflix film. The SFnal Dark Horse comics thriller of 2020 saw: a top secret agent with memories he couldn’t possibly possess; a mystery writer in her 60s who spends her retirement solving crimes; a man of action with mysterious drugs that keep him ahead of a constant string of targeted disasters; and a seemingly omnipotent terrorist organisation that might be behind it all… And they are all connected to one man: a science-fiction author with more information than seems possible, whose books may hold the key to either saving reality or destroying it.  The script for Netflix's Bang! is written by the original comics' author Matt Kindt together with Zak Olkewicz who was behind Netflix's Fear Street 1978.

The Electric State is finally to become a Netflix film. The film is based on the Clarke (Book) Award short-listed novel (2018) by Simon Stålenhag. The Electric State sees an orphaned teenager travelling across a retro-futuristic American west with an eccentric drifter and mysterious robot, in search of her younger brother. This film has been in the offing for some time but anticipated costs put Universal off. Netflix has picked it up with the film’s new budget thought to be north of US$200 million (£174m). Millie Bobby Brown will star as Michelle the orphan. The script is currently being penned by Russo collaborators, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who also wrote the script for Avengers: Endgame, which the Russo Brothers directed. The Russo Brothers are helming.

Constantine 2 is in the works. It is expected to be a direct sequel to the 2005 supernatural thriller and will see a reunion of lead Keanu Reeves and director Francis Lawrence who directed the 2005 original.  The character Constantine is based on the DC Hellblazer comics and a character that first appeared in Swamp Thing, John Constantine is a cancer sufferer, world weary, alcoholic detective who combats evil, righting supernatural wrongs…  The character has seen renewed interest given the NBC series starring Matt Ryan who would, later on, join the CW’s Arrowverse, and even with The Sandman‘s Johanna Constantine, who was played by Jenna Coleman.  ++++ You can see the Constantine (2005) trailer here.

Barbarella remake is in the works. Sydney Sweeney has been tapped to star in and executive produce for Sony Pictures. It is based on the 1968 classic that starred Jane Fonda as Barbarella that saw a 41st-century astronaut go on a mission to stop the mad scientist Durand Durand from using his positronic ray to bring evil back to our universe.

Godzilla sequel to have a November 2023 release in Japan and a likely 2024 British Isle release. Takashi Yamazaki to direct.

Nicolas Cage to star in Sand and Stones post-apocalyptic adventure.  The film is set in a post-apocalyptic and sparsely populated world where Paul (Nicolas Cage) and his twin teenage sons, Joseph (Jaeden Martell) and Thomas (Maxwell Jenkins), have managed to claw out an existence, yet live in constant fear. Until, confronted by imminent danger, they must execute a desperate plan to survive. Ben Brewer to direct.

Armor Wars TV series to become a film instead.  The putative Armor Wars Disney+ series is to become a feature film from Marvel Studios instead. The series sees Tony Stark’s Iron Man armour technology falling into wrong hands.  The TV series is based on a Marvel Comics plotline and stars Don Cheadle as James 'Rhodey' Rhodes, aka War Machine. Cheadle will star in the film. Apparently during development of the series that had been slated for this year (2023) but it was decided that the plot made more sense as a single two hour and a bit film than six parts dropped weekly on TV.  However, you can see the series' concept trailer here.

Possible new Alien film may begin shooting?  20th Century Studios prospective new Alien film reportedly is beginning casting. Cailee Spaeny is in talks to star. Apparently Fede Alvarez is directing. Such is the progress that shooting may begin in a few months.

Bioshock may well become a Netflix film.  The BioShock series of games from 2K began in 2007 and has globally sold more than 39 million copies.  In that original game, gamers played as Jack, the lone survivor of a plane crash over the Atlantic Ocean in the 1960s. He discovers an underwater dystopia called Rapture, that was created by an eccentric business magnate Andrew Ryan. Rapture had seen better days, and Jack must battle a variety of enemies, like the super-powered, drug-addicted Splicers and massive, diving-suit-clad Big Daddies, to escape. However, Jack’s own mental state and the origins of his plane crash are far from what they originally seem… A sequel was released 2010.  As for the Netflix film, Francis (Hunger Games, Constantine and I Am Legend) Lawrence is being touted as a possible director and Michael (Jungle Cruise) Green writer.

Stephen King's novel The Regulators may be a film.  The Regulators (1996) is the story of the peaceful suburban life on Poplar Street in Wentworth, Ohio that is shattered one fine day when four vans containing shotgun-wielding 'regulators' terrorise the street’s residents, cold-bloodedly killing anyone foolish enough to venture outdoors. Houses mysteriously transform into log cabins and the street now ends in what looks like a child’s hand-drawn western landscape. Behind this sudden onslaught is an evil creature who has taken over the body of an autistic boy whose parents were killed in a drive-by shooting several months earlier…  Bohemia Group has optioned the film rights. Previously, 2014, there was talk of a The Regulators TV series but it came to nothing.

And finally…

Short video clips (short films, other vids and trailers) that might tickle your fancy….

Film trailer download tip!: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts trailer out. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will take audiences on a 1990s globetrotting adventure and introduce the Maximals, Predacons, and Terrorcons to the existing battle on earth between Autobots and Decepticons. It is slated to debut 9th June, 2023.  You can see the trailer here.

Film trailer download tip!: 65 trailer out. After a catastrophic crash on an unknown planet, pilot Mills (Adam Driver) quickly discovers he’s actually stranded on Earth…65 million years ago. Now, with only one chance at rescue, Mills and the only other survivor, Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), must make their way across an unknown terrain riddled with dangerous prehistoric creatures in an epic fight to survive. From the writers of A Quiet Place and producer Sam Raimi comes 65, an SF adventure starring Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, and Chloe Coleman. Written, directed, and produced by Scott Beck & Bryan Woods - the film is also produced by Sam Raimi, Deborah Liebling and Zainab Azizi.  You can see the trailer here.

Film trailer download tip!: Barbie trailer out. OK, so Barbie is not SF but the trailer sure as eggs is…  You can see the trailer here.

Short film download tip!: A neat, doctored The Batman (2022) trailer featuring the Adam West Batman and villains has been doing the rounds. It has been racking up millions of views. This video explains how it was made by the Corridor Crew SFX folk and then airs the trailer. You can see the 22 minute vid here.

Short film download tip!: Parallel Man short film.  A dictatorial regime controls access to parallel Earths and controls several of them. Our Earth is next. A rogue agent flees across the multiverse with a device…  You can see the 11-minute film here.

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

For a reminder of the top films in 2022 (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.

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Spring 2023

Television News

 

Netflix bounces back. Having ended its growth last spring (2022) with a loss of 220,000 subscribers that followed on from a previous winter quarter loss, it has now seen a summer (2022) growth of 2.4 million subscribers. Netflix has been attempting to make the platform more enticing with the way it packages its shows, not as binge box set drops (indulged in by many during the CoVID-19 lockdowns) but regular weekly new episodes; an old-fashioned terrestrial TV model that seems to work. Of course regulars can still box-set binge, but they will have to wait until a whole season is out before they do that. Binging may have been fine during CoVID lockdowns, but less so now we are back to having a life, and a regular work/leisure schedule. Meanwhile, Netflix is continuing to invest in new content.

Disney+ scoops Doctor Who outside of the British Isles. Disney has announced that it will be the new home for upcoming seasons of the classic BBC science fiction series in the United States and around the world, a major streaming acquisition for a streaming service that’s already home to major franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars. Previously, you could access recent episodes on: ABC iview (Australia), HBO Max (U.S.), FuboTV (U.S.) and Google Play (U.S. store) and Ecclestone onwards on Netflix, iTunes or Amazon Prime.  Those in the British Isles (Great Britain and Ireland) will still be able to access very recent episodes for free on the BBC iPlayer and see them as they are broadcast on the BBC. (Parts of western Europe, such as the Netherlands, may also be able to see BBC broadcasts.

Doctor Who Diamond Anniversary with brand new adventures and classic texts. BBC Audio are celebrating 60 years of Doctor Who by journeying with each Doctor in turn, from the series’ beginning to the present day. We’ll also be charting the history of the programme itself with Doctor Who at the BBC: The Collection and The Making of Doctor Who, and delving into the psychedelic realm of mid-1970s annuals with The Amazing World of Doctor Who. With a huge variety of readers, writers and characters, there’s something to delight the ears of everyone throughout 2023.
          BBC Audio Doctor Who titles are published by BBC Studios and distributed by Penguin Random House Audio,. There are more than 400 Doctor Who titles available as digital downloads, with many also published on CD. Penguin Random House Audio have won awards including the British Book Award: Audiobook of the Year three years consecutively in 2020, 2019 and 2018; for The Testaments written by Margaret Atwood and read by Ann Dowd, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Mae Whitman, Becoming written and narrated by Michelle Obama, and The Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman, narrated by Michael Sheen, respectively.
          Highlights include:
  -  New audio titles for Doctors 1-13, starting with the First Doctor in January and culminating with the Twelfth and Thirteenth in December.
  -  Encounters with Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors, Silurians, Sea Devils, the Master, the Toymaker and a host of new adversaries.
  - Adventures with Ian, Barbara, Vicki, Jamie, Zoe, Jo, Sarah, Harry, Tegan, Turlough, Peri, Ace, Clara and many other much-loved travelling companions – plus a few new ones.
  -  Readers including Maureen O’Brien, Jon Culshaw, David Troughton, Tim Treloar, Dan Starkey, Louise Jameson, Jamie Glover, David Banks, Katy Manning and many more.
  -  Two very special nostalgic releases based on legendary books from the 1970s: The Amazing World of Doctor Who and The Making of Doctor Who.

Scooby-Doo's Velma being re-imagined as South Asian, for the new series Velma, causes a social media backlash.  Velma Dinkley will be South Asian in the forthcoming HBO Max series. Mindy Kaling, who will voice Velma and who is co-executively producing the series, was surprised at the social media response but unswayed. She also revealed that the forthcoming series will explore Velma's unresolved seΧual tension with a number of characters. You can see the series teaser here.

The Babylon 5 reboot has stalled but don't panic, just wait. The reboot has been a long time coming and last season we reported encouraging words from the CEO of the CW. However, the CW has now been bought by the Nexstar Media Group and so everything is up in the air. According to creator, J. Michael Straczynski, it means we wait, and it’s as simple as that…. So, hang on in there.

The Flash has been cancelled.  The 15 episode Season 9, starring Grant Gustin, will be the last. It looks like the final episode will air weeks before the 23rd June release of Warner Brothers The Flash film starring Ezra Miller.  The Flash, from Berlanti Prods. and Warner Bros. TV, has been a pivotal series for the CW. It was a spinoff from Arrow, and helped to establish the Arrowverse as a franchise. The Flash has been the most successful of the Arrowverse series and the longest-running too, beating Arrow‘s eight-seasons. It is not expected that the film will see any continuation of the series. With The Flashes completion, Superman & Lois and Gotham Knights, if it gets the ratings, as the only returning DC series for the 2023-24 season.  Season 8 of The Flash, with 1.03 million viewers, ranks among CW's most streamed shows on its digital platforms.  See the Season 8 trailer here and Season 9 fan made concept trailer here.

Resident Evil has been cancelled after one season. Netflix has decided not to order a second season of Resident Evil, its action horror series loosely based on the popular video game franchise. It did not perform well especially given its cost. It debuted at no. 2 in the Netflix streaming chart with an 72.7 million hours viewed for its opening weekend but failed to maintain from the second episode onwards when it fell out of the top ten. It scored 55% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a 27% Rotten Tomatoes audience score.  The series takes place in the year 2036, fourteen years after a deadly virus caused a global apocalypse, Jade Wesker (Ella Balinska) fights for survival in a world overrun by the blood-thirsty infected and insane creatures. In this absolute carnage, Jade is haunted by her past in New Raccoon City, by her father’s connections to the Umbrella Corporation and by what happened to her sister, Billie.  See the season 1 trailer.

Paper Girls has been cancelled after one season.  The series concerns four young girls on a paper round in 1988 somehow whisked to 2019, a 2019 where being outside of your own time is a crime… The series had SF, humour and an LGBTQ+ aspect. However it only stayed a month in Amazon Prime's top ten in Spain, France and Italy. It only lasted in the top 10 for one day in the British Isles, and did not breaking into the US Prime top ten at all.  Season 2 was being planned when Amazon axed it. The show's makers are trying to find a new home for the series but don't hold your breath.  See the season 1 trailer.

Westworld not only cancelled but has been removed from HBO.  Westworld debuted in 2016 in the same setting as the 1973 film: a futuristic Western theme park where the exceedingly wealthy could play out any and all fantasies with androids known as Hosts. The series debuted in 2016 and has ended after season 4 despite reasonable viewing figures for seasons one and two, even if they had slumped in recent months, and despite there having been a season 5 planned that would wrap up all the plot threads. HBO Max and Warner Brothers Discovery+ have merged and there have been changes with the re-structuring and one issue with the show was its cost: its first season apparently had a U$100 million budget! Also apparently following its merger HBO is seeking US$3.5 billion in cost-savings. But why removal from the streaming service in addition to cancellation? “The removal of shows from HBO Max means WB Discovery is able to save money in residuals paid to cast and crews of productions, on top of the money saved by not continuing with the shows at all. Having said that, such has been the show's success that it will likely reappear on another company platform before long.  Season 4 trailer here.

The Nevers has been cancelled in the middle of its first season.  The Joss Whedon-created SF drama will be pulled from streaming on HBO Max. Some of the remaining first season episodes that have been made might air on another platform.  Like Westworld above, it to has been removed from HBO Max.  Season 1 trailer here.

The Midnight Club has been cancelled after its first season.  The Midnight Club was an adaption of the books of author Christopher Pike. It's about terminally ill teens living at Brightcliffe Hospice – a place with many a supernatural mystery to it… Its first episode, of ten in the first series, broke the world record for most jump scares in a TV episode.  The cancellation came after the show's executive producers, Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy, left Netflix for a for Amazon Studios. There had been plans for a second season and there are many more Christopher Pike novels to mine, so it is just possible that the show might return(?).  See the season 1 trailer here.

The Young Constantine series is in doubt. The series was being developed by J. J. Abrams. Warner Brothers Discovery has announced that a sequel to their 2005 Constantine film was in development. With Keanu Reeves and original director Francis Lawrence are set to return. This is likely to put a stop to the Young Constantine series that had been proposed.

The Rings of Power season 2 has begun filming in Great Britain. Season 1 was shot in New Zealand but filming has moved to the UK for season 2 as it is more cost-effective and also it is where Amazon Prime is creating a multi-show hub.

Loki season 2 sees Ke Huy Quan join the cast.  One of Ke Huy Quan's first parts was in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and recently he starred in Everything Everywhere All at Once.  In the Season 1, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his female counterpart – and first true love – Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) confront the mysterious mastermind behind the Time Variance Authority (TVA), a man known as He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors). By the end, Sylvie fractures the timeline into the multiverse by killing He Who Remains, after she boots Loki into another reality entirely, one in which his TVA ally Mobius (Owen Wilson) doesn’t even recognise him…  Loki was renewed for season 2 by Disney+ last the same day as the Season 1 finale. Loki is Disney+’s most-watched Marvel series.

Superman & Lois season 3 sees a new Jonathan Kent. Jordan Elsass, who had played the role of Jonathan is not returning for personal reasons: Michael (Spin) Bishop takes his place.  Part of the Arrowverse, “Superman & Lois” follows the famed superhero (Tyler Hoechlin) and his wife, journalist Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch) as they raise their two teenaged sons, Jordan (Alexander Garfin) and Jonathan (Bishop). The show’s third season production has begun in Vancouver. It continues on from season 2 with a chaotic merging of Earth and the Bizarro World.  See the season 2 trailer here.

Love, Death and Robots has been renewed for a fourth season. Netflix has renewed adult-skewed animated anthology series for the fourth time. That its viewing figures have held and that it is a 12 times Emmy-winning series would have nothing to do with it. The nine new episodes will range from uncovering an ancient evil to a comedic apocalypse.  See the season 3 trailer here.

The Lazarus Project has been renewed. Sky has ordered a second season of the time-twisted action and espionage series set in Britain about a team that prevents national extinction-level threats.  You can see the season one trailer here.

For All Mankind has been renewed for a fourth season. The series imagines an alternate history where Russia beat America to the Moon. Since season two, season three moved us through the 1990s with a new goal, Mars, so what lies ahead in the 21st century now that the show has moved to 2003?  See the trailer for season three here. Apple TV+ airs.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur has been renewed for a second season. This news comes ahead of the first series' premiere next month (February 2023). The animated series is Based on Marvel's comic books and follows the adventures of 13-year-old super-genius Lunella Lafayette and her 10-ton T-Rex, Devil Dinosaur, whom she accidentally brings through time into present-day New York City. Equipped with Devil's fierce loyalty and brawn, the loving support of her family and best friend Casey, Lunella sets out to make a difference and protect her Lower East Side neighbourhood from danger.  You can see the opening theme music sequence here.

Outer Range has been renewed for a second season. The Amazon Prime, modern-day, SF western show sees Josh Brolin as Royal Abbott, a rancher who is fighting to protect his family and discovers a mystery at the edge of Wyoming’s wilderness. The Abbotts are coping with the disappearance of daughter-in-law Rebecca (Kristen Connolly) and are pushed further to the brink when the Tillersons, the gaudy owners of the neighbouring profit-driven ranch, make a play for their land. An untimely death in the community sets off a chain of events that come to a head with the arrival of a mysterious black void in the Abbotts’ west pasture…  You can see the season one trailer here.

The Sandman has been renewed for a second season.  Neil Gaiman's adaptation of his own comic series 10-episode first season came out last summer (2022) and its viewing figures in three months have been such that it was renewed after just three months.  Season 1 trailer here.

Good Omens second season is to air this summer (2023)! We reported on Amazon green lighting Neil Gaiman's series a second season back in 2019. Since then we have had the CoVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. During this Neil Gaiman, Michael Sheen and David Tennant produced Good Omens: Lockdown. And now that the pandemic is over, shooting the second season has taken place and is set to air this summer.  Meanwhile you can see Good Omens: Lockdown here.  Previously covered related story: Gaiman's Good Omens attracts attention of religious fundamentalists.

The forthcoming Time Bandits series gains its principal cast. The series has been a long time coming. It was announced in July 2018 that Apple had a deal to develop a television series version of the Terry Gilliam film, with Gilliam set to serve as executive producer. In March 2019, Taika Waititi joined the project, set to co-write and direct the first two episodes. In July 2022, Waititi stated the series would be 10 episodes.  And now we have the principal cast. Lisa (The Comeback) Kudrow will lead. She is joined by: Kal-El (Unseeing Evil)Tuck, Charlyne (Knocked Up)Yi, Tadhg (Conversations With Friends) Murphy, Roger Jean (You Don’t Know Me) Nsengiyumva, Rune (Eddie the Eagle) Temte, Kiera (Martyrs Lane) Thompson and Rachel (Heartbreak High) House.  Shooting has commenced. With a following wind it might just air at the end of this year (2023).

The forthcoming Dune: The Sisterhood series gains its principal cast. The series was announced back in 2019. Emily Watson and Shirley Henderson are now aboard the HBO Max series. Emily Watson has been cast as Valya Harkonnen and Shirley Henderson has been cast as Tula Harkonnen. Both of these characters are sisters. The Harkonnen Sisters have risen to power in the Sisterhood, a secret organisation of women who will go on to become the Bene Gesserit, fabled sect that combats forces that threaten the future of humankind…

Forthcoming Godzilla and the Titans series gets Kurt Russell as a star.  Kurt Russell and son Wyatt Russell join the cast of the forthcoming series who join Anna Sawai, Ren Watabe, Kiersey Clemons, Joe Tippett, and Elisa Lasowski. The sereis will explore the aftermath of the battle between Godzilla and the Titans that levelled San Francisco and the shocking reality that monsters are real, as one family sets out to uncover its buried secrets and a legacy linking them to the secret organization known as Monarch. This series follows on from 2014's Godzilla, 2017's Skull Island, 2019's King of Monsters and 2021's Godzilla vs. Kong. There is also a Godzilla vs. Kong sequel film currently in the works. The first two episodes of the new series will be helmed by the Hugo-winning WandaVision director Matt Shakman who is also on board as an executive producer.

The Mandalorian season 3 gets delayed air date. The third season of the “Star Wars” series will apparently debut on 1st March, 2023, on Disney+. Previously it had been reported to air in February.

The forthcoming Star Wars: The Acolyte gets a male lead.  Lee (Squid Game) Jung-jae will co-star with Amandla Stenberg (the latter's starring, along with the show's premise, reported on last summer (2022).  This will be Lee Jung-jae's first major American studio role. Jodie Turner-Smith also is joining cast. Leslye (Russian Doll creator) Headland is directing.

The forthcoming Goosebumps sees Justin Long cast.  He will play Nathan Bratt, the new schoolteacher who develops a terrifying connection to a decades-old supernatural murder. The Goosebumps series of 62 books that each sold on average over six million copies in English (there are other non-English editions), has become the second most successful book series after Rowling's Harry Potter. The TV series will air on Disney+.

The forthcoming Blade Runner 2099 series may see Harrison Ford return albeit as a cameo?  Rumour has it that Harrison Ford is in discussion to reprise his role as Rick Deckard. We reported on this series' early pre-production last year. As Ridley Scott is executive producing, and Alcon Entertainment – the folk behind Blade Runner: Black Lotus (2021) that was set in 2039, are also involve then expect this to be a linear continuation of the franchise from Blade Runner 2049. It may well see how the underground community of reproducing replicants fares…  Don't expect the forthcoming series on Amazon Prime much before 2024.  Meanwhile you can see Blade Runner: Black Lotus Episode 1 'City of Angels' here.

Eragon is getting a television re-boot. Based on the Christopher Paolini 'Inheritance Cycle' novels, Disney+ are developing a live-action television series. A teenage boy becomes magically joined with a newly-hatched dragon. Together, they must learn what it means to be dragon and Rider as they fight in the resistance against a tyrannical king. Christopher Paolini will co-write the series and executive produce.

Outlander prequel series begins to take shape.  The Outlander Diana Gabaldon novels have been successful as has the series. We reported last Easter (2022) that a prequel series was in the offing. As suspected, we now know it will focus on Jamie Fraser’s parents: a young Brian Fraser and Ellen MacKenzie. Brian and Ellen had a forbidden love affair with the couple having to hide their relationship. The prequel series will be called Blood of My Blood.  See an Outland season 7 mini-promo-feature here.

Indiana Jones gets new spin-off TV series. Like the The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles it will be a prequel series. Its protagonist will be Abner Ravenwood who would eventually become Indiana Jones' mentor. It will be set in the 1920s around the time that Henry Jones Jr. was embarking on an affair with Abner’s teen daughter.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is slated to launch in 2024. The Disney+ series is based on the novel series of the same name by Rick Riordan. It concerns a 12-year-old demigod Percy Jackson who is accused by the Greek god Zeus of stealing his lightning bolt. Walker Scobell will star as Percy Jackson, alongside Leah Sava Jeffries and Aryan Simhadri.

Assassin’s Creed is now to become a Netflix series.  The Assassin’s Creed franchise is one of the biggest gaming franchises of all time. Since the first game was released in 2007, the series has gone on to create new games almost every year.  There was an Assassin’s Creed film, 2016, but was not particularly successful.  Netflix is now developing a TV series that is billed as being an epic, genre-bending, live-action adaptation, blending a modern-day setting with a historical one, with the likes of Ancient Greece, the American Revolution, and Ancient Egypt all serving as backdrops.

Orphan Black gets a quasi return with a spin-off series: Orphan Black: Echoes. The original Orphan Black ran for five seasons (2013-2017), and starred Tatiana Maslany as a woman who discovered she’s been cloned… Or rather, she might be the clone. Or, anyone one of the numerous characters Maslany played, often in the same scene, could be the original. But whoever came first, they were all stuck in a massive conspiracy with global ramifications.  Orphan Black: Echoeswill star Krysten Ritter and Keeley Hawes. It will be set in the near-future and explore the scientific manipulation of human existence. It follows a group of women as they weave their way into each other’s lives and embark on a journey, unravelling the mystery of their identity[ies].  Keeley Hawes plays a perceptive but sensitive scientist who finds herself at odds with her own moral code when circumstances lead her to make an unthinkable choice.  The new series is directed and executive produced by John Fawcett, one of the two creators of the original.  It will debut on AMC in the US this year. The first season of Orphan Black: Echoes will consist of 10 episodes.  See the original Orphan Black's top ten memorable moments.

Pilot ordered for a series based on Catherine Lacey's Answers novel.  FX has ordered a pilot for a pending series based on Catherine Lacey’s novel The Answers (2017).  The story is set in a future where a young woman joins an experiment that promises to help her find love, but instead, she finds herself bunking with other women who all discover they’re dating the same guy.  The pilot and potential series is a collaboration between 20th Television, Danny Strong Productions, and Protozoa Pictures.

The videogame The Medium is to be made into a TV series. The psychological horror video game was only released in 2021. It follows Marianne, the eponymous medium, who has a deep connection to the spirit realm and can pass between them to solve puzzles. Platige Image and the Bloober team are joining forces to make the series.

Silk: Spider Society series to be the first in a number of Spider-Man franchise character series. The series will be released on MGM+ and Amazon Prime Video. Angela Kang will be the showrunner.

The Wicker Man may become a TV series. The Wicker Man tells the story of a police officer who finds himself travelling to a remote island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. While there, he’s horrified to find the population of the island worshipping Pagan gods and potentially doing much worse deeds.  The original film came out half a century ago and was a cult success. There was a lame re-make in 2006 starring Nicholas Cage.  Now The Imaginarium and Urban Myth Films are planning to make it into a TV series. How they will stretch out a well known film into a series beggars belief, but it is their money.

Max Headroom may return with Matt Frewer!  Matt Frewer was the star of the original 1987/8 series that aired in Britain on Channel 4. It was set in a television media dominated world in which everyone's identity depended on their digital profile. Reporter, Edison Carter (Matt Frewer) carter hits a raising car park barrier (emblazoned with the 'Maximum headroom' warning) and severely injured. His brain is scanned and a digital Carter is created. But the human Carter recovers and so now there are two Carters, the human Edison and the digital Max Headroom who haunts cyberspace.  SpectreVision and All3Media are working on attempting a reboot to your screens 15 minutes in the future.  See the original series' opening credits here.

King Kong may get another television series.  Last summer (2022) we reported that a series based on the recent, modern day set films is being made into a series.  Now, Disney+ is considering making a series that essentially explores that brings the classic monster story into the modern age, with a return to Skull Island and the dawn of a new Kong. This will be based on the original 1933 film's director Merian C. Cooper’s novels and the new King Kong novelisations by Joe DeVito. It appears that the King Kong rights are split between Monsterverse (who are making another series based on the recent films) and Disney.

An Arthurian series may be developed by the Daily Wire. It will be based on the 'Pendragon' novels by Stephen Lawhead. If it is true to the novels then it will be set in the last days of the Roman Empire in Britain. This is when the idea of a unified Britain was only a dream. In this tumultuous world Merlin, the son of an Atlantean princess and the bard, Taliesen, pursues his father’s vision of a Kingdom of Summer – a Britain unified in peace. But to achieve this dream, Merlin will have to overcome ancient evils and navigate both the fall of the Roman occupation and the rise of Christianity in search of a king who can unite the Island of the Mighty. It will air on the right-wing DailyWire+ later this year (2023).

Atlas Shrugged classic novel optioned for television. Ayn Rand’s dystopian 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, has been optioned by the right-wing Daily Wire. The novel reportedly has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide.  It depicts a dystopian United States in which private businesses suffer under increasingly burdensome laws and regulations. Railroad executive Dagny Taggart and her lover, steel magnate Hank Rearden, struggle against “looters” who want to exploit their productivity. Dagny and Hank discover that a mysterious figure called John Galt is persuading other business leaders to abandon their companies and disappear as a strike of productive individuals against the looters. The novel ends with the strikers planning to build a new capitalist society based on Galt’s philosophy.

 

And finally, a couple of TV related vids…

How Stranger Things should have ended.  Alternate endings for each of the four seasons of the show.  You can see the 4-minute video here.

Doctor Who 2023 season trailer. Well, there are always a few who miss such things and in case you are one of them you can see the trailer here.

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Spring 2023

Publishing & Book Trade News

 

The world's first comic strip may have been discovered. An 11,000-year-old carving in Turkey is the earliest known portrayal of a narrative scene. Eylem Ozdogan at Istanbul University in Turkey found the panels carved on the side of a limestone bench while excavating a building at the Sayburc archaeological site. The right panel features a male figure facing forwards, its shape protruding from the flat surface. The individual is flanked on each side by a leopard gazing towards it. In the left panel, another male figure holds a snake or rattle while approaching a bull. Because the panels sit side by side and portray similar narratives – people encountering dangerous animals – they probably represent a progressing scene from a story. The research is published in the journal Antiquity (2022) vol. 96, p1,599–1,605.

Thinking of becoming an SF writer? Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop might help. Odyssey is a non-profit dedicated to helping fiction writers improve their craft. Since its inception in 1996, Odyssey has been offering educational programmes for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. It now has an online educational programme, begun in 2022. Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop (YPOW) provides an intensive, one-on-one workshop experience, customised for each individual student. The program combines the renowned Odyssey lectures by top authors and editors, deep practice, expert feedback, and extensive mentorship with Odyssey director Jeanne Cavelos. Students are able to choose their own pace, taking the workshop over 6 weeks, 12 weeks, or 18 weeks; choose which writing topics they study and in what order; repeat a topic to delve deeper into content; and design individual assignments to address their writing weaknesses and build on their strengths.
          Scholarships. For the twelve students admitted in 2023, six scholarships are available, including the Fresh Voices scholarship for an outstanding writer of colour, and the Walter and Kattie Metcalf Singing Spider Scholarship for a fantasy novelist who shows great skill and promise.
          Applying to the Workshop and/or Scholarship. The deadline to apply for Your Personal Odyssey is 13th March 2023. For details see odysseyworkshop.com.

Book prices rise. With inflation in Britain topping 10% publishers will have to increase books' prices. Paper seems to be a key driver and if prices are to be kept down the quality of paper used may be reduced. Other measures publishers could take may include increased print runs so as to lower unit production costs. However, this comes with a sting in its tail as it will mean increased storage costs.
          Meanwhile the Bookseller Association's current president (indie bookdealer Hazel Broadfoot) has initiated a discussion to consider publishers removing printed prices from books' covers. Books are one of the very few products where the price has a maximum determined by the producer: retailers can only discount from the cover price should they wish to. Some independent bookshops may feel that some titles might sell at a higher price especially as small independent bookshops do not benefit as much from publisher discounts for bulk orders given to larger chains.

Book sales slump in western mainland Europe. In many countries book sales grew in 2021 in no small part driven by CoVID-19 lockdowns, just as they did in Great Britain. However, with vaccine rollout completed and things returning to normal (cinemas, theatres and restaurants re-opening etc), the first half of 2022 saw a book sales slump in many nations. Germany, Europe’s largest book market, followed this pattern seeing total sales in the book industry rise 3.5% in 2021. Then in the first half of 2022 there was an 11.1% decline in sales at bookstores, and an overall decline of 3%, when online retail is included, compared to the same period in 2019.  In France In France for the same period, unit sales fell almost 6%.  In Italy, 2021 saw total sales revenue rise 16%, to 1.7 billion euros and then in the first half of 2022 drop 4.2% compared to the first half of 2021 – though this is still 14.7% higher than pre-pandemic revenue from books sold in the first six months of 2019. However, in Italy, bucking the trend is the sales of comics/graphic novels. These grew 23.7% in the first half of 2022 compared with the same period in 2021 and an incredible 24.5% compared with 2019.

Authors' incomes still continue to decline! Britain's Authors Licensing and Collectors Society's ALCS latest survey on author income reveals that the median full-time author income has fallen to £7,000 (US$8,400). When the ALCS first ran its survey of author incomes in 2006 it found that the median self-employed income of a full-time author was £12,330 so the 2022 figure represents a drop of more than 60% when accounting for inflation.  In 2017 the median was £10,437 a year. +++ Previous related news:-
  - Authors' income continues to decline and sparks vigorous dialogue between publishers and authors' bodies
  - Top British SF/F authors did not do as well in 2017 compared to 2016
  - &; Mid-list authors drive 2017 growth in British book sector
  - Top authors sold more in 2016 but bottom authors -- given there are more of them -- each earn less even than in 2015
  - The top-selling SF/F/H genre authors in Britain remain the same in 2015
  - The top 5% of 2014/5 authors earned 42% of all income received by professional writers and a consequence is that publishing may reach a 'breaking point'
  - Bad news for authors – Author royalties squeeze continues.

Harper Collins sees 11$ fall in revenue. Harper Collins (which also has SF imprints in the US and UK – the latter being Voyager) has seen a third quarter (ending 30th September 2022) fall in revenue of 11%, some US$487millon (£405m). This follows two years of growth in common with most publishers who fared well with CoVID-19 lockdown. With the return to work, book sales seem to have suffered. Mid-term elections in the US are also considered a confounding factor.

SF authors support the Internet Archive Library who are being sued by publishers in the US. We reported on the case last season. Now a number of authors, including SF/F writers such as Neil Gaiman, Naomi Klein, and Cory Doctorow. They say that the publishers case is one of a number of efforts to curb libraries’ lending of e-books. They say: “Libraries are a fundamental collective good. We, the undersigned authors, are disheartened by the recent attacks against libraries being made in our name by trade associations such as the American Association of Publishers and the Publishers Association: undermining the traditional rights of libraries to own and preserve books, intimidating libraries with lawsuits, and smearing librarians.”  They also say: “We fear a future where libraries are reduced to a sort of Netflix or Spotify for books, from which publishers demand exorbitant licensing fees in perpetuity while unaccountable vendors force the spread of disinformation and hate for profit.”

The Penguin-Schuster merger has been prevented by court ruling. Penguin Random House (US) and Simon and Schuster (US) controversially wanted to merge, but that would mean the new giant would dominate the market. Clearly, the U.S. District Judge, Florence Pan, was not convinced of the publishers case.

The FBI takes down the Z-Library. The Z-Library was one of the world’s largest repositories of pirated books and academic papers. No longer now that it has been forcefully closed.

Amazon's Audible is not treating authors properly says SF author Brandon Sanderson.  Brandon says: "They treat authors very poorly. Particularly indie authors. The deal Audible demands of them is unconscionable, and I’m hoping that providing market forces (and talking about the issue with a megaphone) will encourage change in a positive direction."  He goes on: "If you want details, the current industry standard for a digital product is to pay the creator 70% on a sale. It’s what Steam pays your average creator for a game sale, it’s what Amazon pays on e-books, it’s what Apple pays for apps downloaded. (And they’re getting heat for taking as much as they are. Rightly so.) Audible pays 40%. Almost half. For a frame of reference, most brick-and-mortar stores take around 50% on a retail product. Audible pays indie authors less than a bookstore does, when a bookstore has storefronts, sales staff, and warehousing to deal with." He also points out that, "If indie authors don’t agree to be exclusive to Audible, they get dropped from 40% to a measly 25%. Buying an audiobook through Audible instead of from another site literally costs the author money."
          Authors might ask their publishers not to have an exclusive Audible deal. Some publishers – especially those that do not wish to create a long-term publisher/author friendly commercial environment – will be reluctant (they will not want to drop from 40% to 25%) but there are other audio retailers out there. Others include Speechify and Spotify as well as less known but important audio retailers such as Libro.fm (who also support local bookshops) and Libby (which has a good relationship with public libraries).
          Readers (listeners?) might use audio retailers other than Audible: the aforementioned Speechify, Spotify, Libro.fm and Libby. Many readers – especially those that do not wish to create a long-term customer/publisher/author friendly commercial environment – will be reluctant (they will not want to pay a little more or the – trivial – inconvenience of shopping elsewhere) but hopefully there will be enough in the medium term to cause Audible to think again. It is up to you audio-book purchasers!

Amazon is replacing its Kindle subscription service with Kindle Unlimited. This is causing much concern for magazine editors as magazine owners will have less control over pricing. They will be ending their Kindle Publishing for Periodicals Program in September 2023, which means subscribers will no longer be able to receive their print or digital magazines through the site. Kindle Unlimited is a subscription program where customers can read as many e-publications as they like and keep them as long as they want, for a monthly subscription fee. This means less money for publication producers.

Amazon to lay off 10,000 jobs. This is about 3% of Amazon's corporate staff. Apparently these relate to jobs in Amazon's devices organisation, which makes voice-controlled “Alexa” gadgets and home-security cameras, as well as in its human-resources and retail divisions.

Amazon's worker monitoring criticised by UK all-party Select Committee. Amazon was giving evidence the Business Select Committee. Brian Palmer, Amazon's head of Public Policy Europe, Brian Palmer, repeatedly said surveillance of workers was not the ‘primary focus’ of their monitoring systems. But committee chair Darren Jones MP asked Mr Palmer why an older constituent was let go by Amazon after ‘the system said he wasn’t being productive enough’. He asked, ‘Do you track then productivity of your workers ion the warehouses? Yes or No?’ . Mr Palmer said: ‘Yes’. The Committee previously heard from health experts that the degree of monitoring of Amazon workers was leading to over-working staff, stress and have adverse health outcomes. The GMB trade union of which a number of Amazon workers belong said: “Amazon’s misleading account of workers’ treatment rightly fell apart today.' (You can see a 25 minute video here – it gets interesting about 12 minutes in as the Amazon rep begins to squirm.
          ++++ Related Amazon stories previously covered elsewhere on this site include:
  - Cory Doctorow explains that he will not let his books appear on Amazon Audible
  - Alleged intimidation by Amazon causes a second vote on whether workers in Alabama can have a trade union
  - Authors removed from Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing
  - Pirated copy of the Hugo-winning Blindsight is finally taken down from the Amazon website.
  - Amazon fined by European Union
  - Amazon pays a little more tax as sales rise by 50%
  - Amazon destroys millions of items of unsold stock
  - Audible – the audiobook sales outlet for Amazon’s company ACX – seems to be ripping off publishers and authors
  - Concerns as to Amazon's staff work conditions and rights
  - Amazon workers launch protests on Prime Day
  - Staff at Amazon's Swansea warehouse 'treated like robots'
  - Amazon warehouse accidents total 440
  - Amazon workers praising conditions are accused of lying
  - Amazon breaks embargo on Atwood's The Testaments
  - Amazon's UK tax paid substantially down despite a great profit increase
  - Amazon must pay its tax, says European Commission
  - Amazon tax wrong says UK Booksellers Association
  - 110,000 submit Amazon tax petition to Downing Street
  - Amazon and Google lambasted by Chair of House of Commons Accounts Committee
  - Amazon UK avoiding substantial tax says report in The Bookseller.

Gollancz to publish #1 Sunday Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson’s four KickStarter novels.  In Spring 2022, Brandon Sanderson launched a Kickstarter campaign to sell 4 books. The Kickstarter raised some US$41.7 million (£34.75m) and was the sites biggest and most successful campaign to date. The Kickstarter had 185,000 backers, and those who participated in the campaign will receive from Brandon receive premium hardcovers, e-books, audio-books, or swag boxes in multiple combinations from Dragonsteel (Brandon’s company).  Dragonsteel (Brandon’s company) will release the KickStarter titles in January, April, July and October (2023).  But what about everyone else?
          Enter Gollancz. The Gollancz hardcover editions will be published four months after each KickStarter release: Tress of the Emerald Sea -- 04/04/23;  The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England -- 27/06/23;  Yumi and the Nightmare Painter -- 03/10/23;  and  The Sunlit Man -- 02/01/24.

 

And finally, some of the autumn's short SF book-related videos…

Meeting author S. A. (Stacey) Barnes. S. A. Barnes, also writing as Stacey Kade, is a High School librarian by day, science fiction horror writer by night, and weekends.  She also gives Media Death Cult five recommended SF reads.  The interview ends up with a conversation about whether aliens will ever be detected and the futility of UFO-ology.  Stacey's next book will concern human contact with an alien civilisation but don't expect it much before 2024.  You can see the video of her 45 minute interview here.

Meeting author Nancy Kress . Nancy Kress is a multiple Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction author, a Professor of Literature and a lover of ballet. She also discusses the impact of detecting extraterrestrial intelligence and gives Media Death Cult five recommended SF reads.  You can see the video of her 45 minute interview here.

Moid, at Media Death Cult, gives his MUST READ Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Books...  (However view the comments on the video's YouTube page as the channel's feedback (no offence Moid) is often more interesting.  You can see the 15 minute video here.

SF book review channel alliance now launched on YouTube. If you want SF book review content then search for the following channels on YouTube:
  - Media Death Cult typically 20 minute reviews plus roughly monthly 1 hour+ SF author interviews. Mainly SF (occasional dip into fantasy) and some film and TV.
  - Fit 2B Read posts of widely varying lengths. SF.
  - Bookpilled typically posts of 15 to 30 minutes. SF, some fantasy.
  - Words in Time typically posts of 15 to 30 minutes. SF.
  - The Library Ladder typically posts of 10 to 30 minutes. SF & fantasy.
  - The Secret Sauce of Storycraft typically posts of 10 to 30 minutes. SF & fantasy.
          Members of the alliance will trail other members at the end of their usual posts, they will also have a common outlet for their respective channel's merchandise. Finally, there will be occasional content collaboration between channels.  Check them out on YouTube.

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Spring 2023

Forthcoming SF Books

 

The Transcendent by Nadia Afifi, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58673-4.
After a fateful confrontation with her former ally, Amira Valdez is on the run, pregnant with her own clone and desperate. All her hopes lie with finding Nova, the first human clone, to solve the greatest riddle in human history – how to preserve human consciousness after death.

Weaponized by Neal Asher, Tor, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-05005-9.
A standalone adventure set in the world of the Polity. When a far-flung colony is attacked by powerful alien raptors, its inhabitants will be forced to fight back – even as war changes them in monstrous ways…

The Empty Heavens by John Birmingham, Ad Astra – Head of Zeus, £15.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-789-54600-2.
With sheer weight of numbers, the Sturm's Combined Fleet of the (self-proclaimed) Human Republic are driving ever deeper into the network of worlds they were exiled from over three centuries ago.  At a horrendous cost, Commander Lucinda Hardy, Admiral Fraser McLennan, Sephina L'trel, Booker3 and Princess Alessia lead the only resistance to the Sturm's overwhelming forces. Amid the ruins of a civilisation utterly corrupted by the Sturm's horrific darkcode malware, they must gather allies and weapons where they can. Old enmities must be overcome and unlikely partnerships forged.  Surrounded, outnumbered and outgunned, the resistance cannot hold out. By strategy and deception, they must force a decisive confrontation with the Sturm.

Ascension by Nicholas Binge, Harper Voyager, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN not provided.
A fast-paced modern science fiction thriller set in the midst of a mountain expedition with big heart, big questions and a grip of arctic terror.  When a mountain mysteriously appears in the middle of the ocean, a group of scientists are sent on a secret mission to investigate it – and discover what is at the summit. Told through letters written by one scientist during the mission, the reader watches as time and space begin to bend around the climbers. A higher power and a higher purpose has sent them there: what will they discover about themselves and their world as they rise?

Downfall by Louise Carey, Gollancz, £18.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23276-1.
The exhilarating conclusion to the dystopian thriller series that started with Inscape, and Outcast.  Tanta and Cole may have stopped the mass murder of InTech’s residents, but the cost was severe. Now its citizens are compliant zombies, and Tanta and her crew are trapped underground.  If Tanta, Cole and InTech’s residents are truly to be free, InTech needs to be destroyed. But Tanta knows that task will put her on a collision course with the woman who was once her soulmate.  And this last mission might ask more of her than she’s able to give.

Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher, Penguin, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-15007-0.
Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian return in this novel set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

Upgrade by Blake Crouch, Pan, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-04537-6.
Blake Crouch is known for his thrillers and techno-thrillers. This last is at the very least genre-adjacent but with Upgrade he moves firmly into SF territory. It is the not too distant future and genetic modification has already caused a famine and so the technology is strictly policed. But when an officer of the Gene Protection Agency has his own genes hacked he gets an upgrade he did not want and in a race to stop whoever it is that seems to want to take humanity to its next evolutionary level…

Frontier by Grace Curtis, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-39053-7.
In the distant future, climate change has reduced Earth to a hard-scrabble wasteland. Saints and sinners, lawmakers and sheriffs, gunslingers and horse thieves abound. Folks are as diverse and divided as they’ve ever been – except in their shared suspicions when a stranger comes to town. One night a ship falls from the sky, bringing the planet’s first visitor in 300 years. She’s armed, she’s scared… and she’s looking for someone. Click on the title link for a standalone review.

Alien Agendas by Ian Douglas, Harper Voyager, £8.99, pbk, ISBN not provided.
For decades, there have been rumours of alien life. Now the truth is out – a truth more shocking and thrilling than anyone could have imagined. We are not alone. But neither are we defenceless.

Furious Heaven by Kate Elliott, Ad Astra – Head of Zeus, £15.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-800-24325-5.
Wide screen space opera. The Republic of Chaonia, under the joint command of Princess Sun and her formidable mother, Queen-Marshal Eirene, has defeated and driven out an invading fleet of the Phene Empire, although not without heavy losses. But the Empire remains strong and undeterred. While Chaonia scrambles to rebuild its military, the Empire's rulers are determined to squash Chaonia once and for all – by any means necessary.  On the eve of Eirene's bold attack on the rich and populous Karnos System, an unexpected tragedy strikes the republic. Sun must take charge or lose the throne. Will Sun be content with the pragmatic path laid out by her mother for Chaonia's future? Or will she forge her own legend despite all the forces arrayed against her?

Interviews with an Ape by Felice Fallon, Penguin, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-15756-7.
A silverback gorilla who comes to us with a remarkable secret: he can communicate with humans through sign language. This is the story he tells us…

The Landing by Mary Gentle, Gollancz, £18.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-0-575-08353-0.
The British Science Fiction Association award-winning author returns with her first novel in ten years.  Aeris Warren-Finch is NASA’s Acting Director of the New Earth Object Lab, overseeing the transit of a large unidentified object past Earth’s orbit.  But what was one object becomes three, seven, nineteen. Nineteen different modules land across the planet.  When the nearest module creates a dome and leaves Aeris and her unlikely companions stranded within its confines, they’re left to wander in search of safety. But when every direction reveals new and strange geographies, which way is the right way to go?

Beautiful Shining People by Michael Grothaus, Orenda Books, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-914-58564-7
It’s our world, but decades into the future … an ordinary world, where cars drive themselves, drones glide across the sky, and robots work in burger shops. There are two superpowers and a digital Cold War, but all conflicts are safely oceans away. People get up, work, and have dinner. Everything is as it should be… Except for seventeen-year-old John, a tech prodigy from a damaged family, who hides a deeply personal secret. But everything starts to change for him when he enters a tiny cafe on a cold Tokyo night. A cafe run by a disgraced sumo wrestler, where a peculiar dog with a spherical head lives, alongside its owner, enigmatic waitress Neotnia… But Neotnia hides a secret of her own – a secret that will turn John’s unhappy life upside down. A secret that will take them from the neon streets of Tokyo to Hiroshima’s tragic past to the snowy mountains of Nagano. A secret that reveals that this world is anything ordinary – and it’s about to change forever…

The Forcing by Paul E. Hardisty, Orenda Books, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-914-58555-5
Civilisation is collapsing. Frustrated and angry after years of denial and inaction, a 'government of youth' has taken power in North America, and deemed all those older than a prescribed age responsible for the current state of the world, and decreed they should be 'relocated', their property and assets confiscated.  David Ashworth, known by his friends and students as Teacher, and his wife May, find themselves among the thousands being moved to ‘new accommodation’ in the abandoned southern deserts – thrown together with a wealthy industrialist and his wife, a high court lawyer, two recent immigrants to America, and a hospital worker. Together, they must come to terms with their new lives in a land rendered unrecognisable.  As the terrible truth of their situation is revealed, lured by rumours of a tropical sanctuary where they can live in peace, they plan a perilous escape. But the world outside is more dangerous than they could ever have imagined. And for those who survive, nothing will ever be the same again…

Tell Me an Ending by Jo Harkin, Conrerstone, £9.99, pbk, ISBN not provided.
The promise at Nepenthe is simple: they will erase the memories you cannot live with.  After the procedure, psychologist Noor will assess you for two things: your mental wellbeing, and the successful erasure of the memory. But there is no assessment if you choose to delete the memory of the Nepenthe procedure itself. If you do that, you're on your own.  And what if one day, out of the blue, your memory is offered back to you - would you want to remember what you've chosen to forget?

Not Alone by Sarah K. Jackson, Picador, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-08958-5.
Set in contemporary Britain, Not Alone tells the story of Katie and Harry, a mother and son who are fighting for survival in a world devastated by a toxic storm.  Not Alone follows Katie and her son, Harry, who have survived alone in their haven of a flat for the last five years. Katie is a character with a quiet strength; a woman who has had to rely on herself to survive and care for her young son, alone in a world that has been ravaged by a toxic storm brought on by the climate crisis and microplastics pollution. As she forages for what is safe to eat, Harry remains in the flat, quiet and safe from the dangers of outside: pervasive layers of toxic dust on the ground from the storm and subsequentrains, plastic smog, hungry animals and fear of not being as alone and safe as Katie hopes they are. Life is a relentless cycle of fear, hunger and a longing for the man Katie was meant to marry: Jack, who left for work on the day of the storm and is since presumed dead.  However, Katie thinks she might be dying. The cough that has come every winter since the storm has arrived early, and with it, a new pain in her heart.<  She knows that Harry needs someone other than her to love and protect him.  When the peace that they have lived in is shattered by the arrival of another survivor, Katie discovers that the man she loved might still be out there. She takes Harry outside and into the changed and toxic – yet beautiful – world for the first time and on a desperate journey across the country to try to find him.

In the Lives of Puppets by T. J. Klune, Tor, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-08802-1.
Science fantasy. In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees live three robots – fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They’re a family, hidden and safe.  The day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labelled ‘HAP’, he learns of a shared dark past between Hap and Gio – a past spent hunting humans.  When Hap unwittingly alerts robots from Gio’s former life to their whereabouts, the family is no longer hidden and safe. Gio is captured and taken back to his old laboratory in the City of Electric Dreams. So together, the rest of Vic’s assembled family must journey across an unforgiving and otherworldly country to rescue Gio from decommission, or worse, reprogramming.  Along the way to save Gio, amid conflicted feelings of betrayal and affection for Hap, Vic must decide for himself: can he accept love with strings attached?   Inspired by Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, In the Lives of Puppets is a masterful standalone fantasy adventure from the beloved author who brought you The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door.

The Secret of Life by Paul McAuley, Gollancz, £12.99, ISBN 978-1-399-60377-5
A Chinese mission to Mars discovers life deep under the Martian polar caps but keeps the discovery a secret. Their aim is to research this life form to see of there can be biotechnological products that can be developed. To this end they covertly bring a sample back to Earth. However, due to industrial espionage, there is an accident that releases the Martian bugs into the ocean where it starts gobbling everything up, and this is a bit of a give-away that the Chinese and biotech companies have been breaking biosafety protocols let alone industrial regulations. This Martian life form, now in the more life-friendly, warmer and wetter Earth environment, begins to mutate at an alarming rate. What is needed is a pristine sample of the life form. So the US mounts its own mission to Mars with the covert aim of getting its own sample and find out what the Chinese have really been up to. Meanwhile the Chinese are mounting their own second mission to the Red Planet… This is a welcome 2022 reprint of McAuley's 2001 novel as part of the SF Masterworks series with an introduction by Pat Cadigan. Click on the title link for a standalone review of the book's original publication.

Hopeland by Ian McDonald, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-20229-0.
Hopeland is a community. It is a culture. It is a family.  When Raisa Hopeland, determined to win her race to become the next electromancer of London, bumps into Amon Brightbourne – tweed-suited, otherworldly, guided by the Grace – in the middle of a riot, she sets in motion a series of events that will span decades and continents, and will change everything.  Raisa’s journey encompasses the globe. But one thing will always be true: Hopeland is family.

The Memory Librarian: and other stories of dirty computer by Janelle Monae, Harper Voyager, £8.99, pbk, ISBN not provided.
Whoever controls our memories controls the future.  Janelle Monae and an incredible array of talented collaborating creators have written a collection of tales comprising the bold vision and powerful themes that have made Monae such a compelling and celebrated storyteller. Dirty Computer introduced a world in which thoughts – as a means of self-conception – could be controlled or erased by a select few. And whether human, A.I., or other, your life and sentience was dictated by those who’d convinced themselves they had the right to decide your fate.  That was until Jane 57821 decided to remember and break free.  Expanding from that mythos, these stories fully explore what it’s like to live in such a totalitarian existence… and what it takes to get out of it.

Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Jo Fletcher Books, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-42631-1.
Baja California, 1979: Viridiana spends her days under the harsh sun, watching the fishermen pulling in their nets and the dead sharks piled beside the seashore. Her head is filled with dreams of romance, travel and of a future beyond this drab town where her only option is to marry and have children.  When a wealthy American writer arrives with his wife and brother-in-law, Viridiana jumps at the offer of a job as his assistant, and she’s soon entangled in the glamorous foreigners’ lives. They offer excitement, and perhaps an escape from her own humdrum existence. When one of them dies, eager to protect her new friends, Viridiana lies – but soon enough, someone’s making more searching enquiries, and it’s not long before Viridiana has questions of her own about the identities of her new acquaintances.  Sharks may be dangerous, but there are worse predators nearby, ready to devour a naïve young woman unwittingly entangled in a web of deceit.  Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of Velvet was the Night, Mexican Gothic and The Daughter of Doctor Moreau.

The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60047-7.
When pioneering marine biologist Dr Ha Nguyen is offered the chance to investigate a highly intelligent species of octopus, she doesn’t pause to look at the fine print. But the stakes are high: the octopuses hold the key to unprecedented breakthroughs in extra-human intelligence and there are vast fortunes to be made by whoever can take advantage of their advancements.  And no one has yet asked the octopuses what they think. Or what they might do about it.

Braking Day by Adam Oyebanji, Quercus, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-41713-5.
The Archimedes has been hurtling through space for more than five generations. But now the ageing starship is preparing to brake, for it is arriving at Destination Star: Tau Ceti. But not everyone is excited to be reaching journey's end…  Click on the title link for a standalone review.

Fractal Noise by Christopher Paolini, Tor, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-035-00111-8.
Fractal Noise is the prequel to the space opera To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. On the planet Talos VII, twenty-three years before the events of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, an anomaly is detected. A vast circular pit, with dimensions so perfect that it could only have been the result of conscious design. So a small team is assembled to learn more – perhaps even who built the hole and why.  Their mission will take them on a hazardous trek to the very edge of existence.  For one explorer, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. For another, a risk not worth taking. And for xenobiologist Alex Crichton, it’s a desperate attempt to find meaning in an uncaring universe. But every step they take toward that mysterious abyss is more punishing than the last. Ultimately, no one is prepared for what they will encounter.

The Sky Vault by Benjamin Percy, Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-69016-5.
The third and final book in the 'Comet Cycle' series.  Theo Jenson is 15 years old when his father inexplicably disappears along with the plane, and the month-long search for him ends with a funeral procession and the beginnings of acceptance. Despite the tragedy, Theo’s popularity in school skyrockets, while his best friend Wheezy remains on the outskirts of any real social circle. Their friendship will be put to the test when other Fairbanks citizens begin to vanish, sucked up by a funnel cloud that extends like an elephant’s trunk, and chased down by a mist that solidifies into the shape of a man.

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough, Harper Voyager, £8.99, pbk, ISBN not provided.
Emma can’t sleep. Check the windows.  It’s been like this since her big 4-0 started getting closer. Lock the doors.  Her mother stopped sleeping just before her 40th birthday too. She went mad and did the unthinkable because of it.  Look in on the children Is that what’s happening to Emma? Why can’t she sleep?

The Cabinet of Dr. Leng by Douglas Preston &Lincoln Child, Head of Zeus, £15.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-801-10422-7.
How can you stop a serial killer who has been dead for a hundred years?  FBI Special Agent A. X. L. Pendergast always wants to protect his protegee Constance Greene from harm. But, against all odds, Constance has found a way to travel back in time to New York City in the late 1800s to embark on a dangerous quest: to stop the era's most infamous serial killer, Dr. Enoch Leng.  Meanwhile, Pendergast is desperate to reunite with Constance in the present day before she's stuck in the past forever... can he find a way before it's too late?

Lost in Time by A. G. Riddle, Ad Astra – Head of Zeus, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-54178-4.
When his daughter is falsely accused of murder, a scientist must travel 200 million years into the past to save her. But there are secrets waiting there. And more than her life is at stake.  One morning, Dr. Sam Anderson wakes up to discover that the woman he loves has been murdered. For Sam, the horror is only beginning. He and his daughter are accused of the crime. The evidence is ironclad. They will be convicted. And so, Sam does what he must: he confesses to the crime. But in the future, murderers aren't sent to prison. They're sent to the past.  Two hundred million years into the past – to the age of the dinosaurs – to live out their lives alone, in exile from the human race. Sam accepts his fate. But his daughter doesn't. Adeline Anderson has already lost her mother to a deadly and unfair disease. She can't bear to lose her father. She sets out on a quest to prove him innocent. And get him back. People around her insist that both are impossible tasks.  But Adeline doesn't give up. She only works harder. She soon learns that impossible tasks are her speciality. And that she is made of tougher stuff than she ever imagined. As she peels back the layers of the mystery that ripped her father from this world, Adeline finds more questions than answers. Everyone around her is hiding a secret. But which ones are connected to the murder that exiled her father? That mystery stretches across the past, present, and future – and leads to a revelation that will change everything…  Click on the title link for a standalone review of the hardback.

Quantum Radio by A. G. Riddle, Ad Astra – Head of Zeus, £15.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-803-28170-4.
Dr Tyson Hauser is a quantum physicist working at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. He is a man completely dedicated to his research, which focuses on finding patterns in the data generated by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Thanks to a recent upgrade to the massive machine, Ty believes he's found a new pattern, what looks like an organized data stream, being broadcast over what Ty believes is a sort of quantum radio.  Is it a message sent to us from someone in the future? Or possibly a signal from another universe? Or could the code be something else entirely?  As Ty peels back the layers of his discovery, he quickly learns that what he's found isn't exactly what he thought it was. The code and the message it carries is far more profound – a revelation that will alter our very understanding of human existence and the origins of our universe.  And he's not the only one looking for it.  Ty soon discovers that a mysterious organisation has been watching him – and following his research – for a long time. And they'll do anything to prevent him from unravelling what is being broadcast by the quantum radio. Because the first one to discover the truth may well control the future.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel, Picador, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-08351-4.
A novel of art, time, love and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony of the moon three hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space. This novel was one of our choices as to the Best SF Novels of 2022.

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi, Tor, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-509-83531-7.
Click on the title link for a standalone review.

Starter Villain by John Scalzi, Tor, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-08295-1.
Inheriting a family business is never easy, especially when it involves underwater volcanoes, minions, sentient cats and supervillains.  Inheriting your mysterious uncle’s supervillain business is more complicated than you might imagine.  Sure, there are the things you’d expect. The undersea volcano lairs. The minions. The plots to take over the world. The international networks of rivals who want you dead.  Much harder to get used to are the sentient, language-using, computer-savvy cats.  And the fact that in the overall organisation, they’re management.

Extinction by Bradley Somer, Harper Voyager, £8.99, pbk, ISBN not provided.
With the natural world exhausted and in tatters, Ben has dedicated himself to protecting this single fragment of the wild.  One night, he hears voices in the valley – poachers, come to hunt his bear.  A chase begins, crossing forests and mountainsides, passing centuries of human ruins. Sometimes hunter, sometimes prey – Ben must choose the bear’s fate and his own.  Is he willing to lay down his life for a dying breed?  Is he willing to kill for it?

Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tor, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-05195-7.
A far-future space adventure, and the second instalment in the epic 'Final Architecture' trilogy.

Lords of Uncreation by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tor, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-05198-8.
The gripping conclusion to the 'Final Architecture' trilogy that began with Shards of Earth.

The Best of 2000AD volume 1 edited by Tharg, Rebellion, £14.99 / US$22.99 ISBN 978-1-786-18706-2
If you are not familiar with the Galaxy's greatest comic then there is a new graphic anthology now out, The Best of 2000AD volume 1. It is the ultimate 2000AD mix tape and an excellent taster for those not yet familiar with the comic which remains the only guaranteed cure for lesser spotted thrill-sucker infections. Zarjaz. Available from all good thrill merchants on both sides of the Pond (but not Russia or China).

The Best of World SF: 2 edited by Lavie Tidhar, Ad Astra – Head of Zeus, £10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-803-28033-2.
Navigating around the globe, The Best of World SF Volume 2 features writers from: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Brazil, Bolivia, China, Czech Republic, Greece, India, Iraq, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Uganda and Zimbabwe.  Each story has been selected by World SF expert and award-winning author Lavie Tidhar in a collection which traces the ever-changing meaning of the genre from some of the most exciting voices writing today.

The Final Rising by A. E. Warren, Penguin, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-10137-9.
Conclusion to 'Tomorrow's Ancestors' series.

Dark Dweller by Gareth Worthington, Dropship Publishing £12.61 / US$14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-954-38605-1
Captain Kara Psomas was pronounced dead when her research vessel slammed into Jupiter. More than a century later, the crew of the Paralus, a helium mining freighter, find a pristine escape pod with a healthy young girl nestled inside. A girl who claims to be Kara—and she brings a message of doom. She says she has been waiting in the dark for that exact moment. To be found by that particular crew. Because an ancient cosmic being has tasked her with a sacred responsibility. She claims she must alter the Fulcrum, a lever in time—no matter the cost to the people aboard—or condemn the rest of civilization to a very painful and drawn-out demise. She sounds convincing. She appears brave. She might well be insane.

The Best of Roger Zelazny by Roger Zelazny, Gollancz, £10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23500-7.
A collection of award-winning fiction from one of SFF’s greatest writers.  A collection of short fiction and novelettes from acclaimed Science Fiction and Fantasy writer Roger Zelazny, including the award-winning titles ‘The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth’, ‘Permafrost’, ‘The Last Defender of Camelot’ and ‘Home Is the Hangman'. Part of the SF Masterwork series. Recommended.

The Remembrance's Tale by David Zindell, Harper Voyager, £8.99, pbk, ISBN not provided.
What happens when a man tasked with developing perfect memory forgets the most important thing in the universe?  After a cataclysmic stellar war, peace has come to the trillion human beings who live on the Civilised Worlds. In Neverness, the City of Light, the pilots of the Order of Mystic Mathematicians resume their ancient quest to discover the real purpose of the human race. Crucial to their success will be a mastery of the One Memory, believed to hold the secret of how humanity might evolve.  Thomas Rane is the Order’s Lord Remembrancer. He has become the teacher to a new generation of humans called the Asta Siluuna – the star children – and so has a crucial part to play in the development of the human race. But at the end of the war, his beloved – the mysterious and beautiful Maria – died.  Memory is strange, and Rane comes to believe that Maria might have survived the storm. Perhaps a memory virus left over from the war has robbed her of her identity and she wanders the streets of Neverness, lost and alone. Perhaps she’s still out there, among the stars?

 

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Spring 2023

Forthcoming Fantasy Books

 

The Devil's Advisor by Brad Abdul, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58518-8.
Lucy, the Devil, wants to retire. Brian, the Business Advisor, hates his job. When Brian finds himself in Lucy’s crosshairs, she makes him an offer he can’t refuse: work his business magic on Hell, and if he succeeds, become her successor as the next Devil. To claim this throne, Brian faces off against Death, God, and Lucy’s own twin children.

The Ruined by Renée Ahdieh, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-36843-7.
The Sylvan Vale and the Sylvan Wyld are at war. In an effort to protect the weakened Winter Court, Bastien rallies powerful allies and friends in New Orleans to come to their aid. Under protection alongside her injured mother in the Summer Court, Celine is uncertain of whom to trust. When she realises war between the fey courts is imminent, she journeys with Ali to find the time-travelling mirror and change their fate. But when Celine’s rivals realise Bastien has rallied his allies in the mortal world, they decide to take the fight to him.

Alternate History Short Stories edited by anon, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17272-8.
What if the Ancient Egyptians had conquered Rome? What if World War II had been won by the loser, not the victors? What if women had ruled the world for 4,000 years not men? There are so many ‘what if?’ questions to fuel this imaginative collection created from open submissions and classic tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne, H. G. Wells and more.

Hidden Realms Short Stories edited by anon, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17271-1.
A new thematic collection of fantasy stories in the bestselling Gothic Fantasy series. Created by mixing open submissions from modern writers and classic literature, this new title explores the adventures of hidden places, secret gardens, and shadow lands in forests and mountains, in the swamps and the wild places of our world and beyond.

Immigrant Sci-Fi Short Stories edited by anon, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17273-5.
With stories of immigration, migration, slavery and seekers of refuge told with the gaze of the outsider this new book explores perspectives of displacement in a future or fantastical setting. New stories by new writers are placed alongside older narratives by Frederick Douglass, Sutton Elberg Griggs, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Harriet E. Wilson.

Indian Myths and Legends edited by Raj Balkaran, Flame Tree Press, £10.99 / Can$19.99 / US$14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17327-5.
Anthology. India, one of the great civilisations, spawned a fascinating canon of myths and legends. With multiple gods, and a riot of joy and character, this new book explores the themes and landscapes that created the tales, with the stories of Krishna, Buddha and Shiva, and some of the many different versions of creation.

Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-22802-3.
Galaxy ‘Alex’ Stern is determined to break Darlington out of hell – even if it costs her a future at Lethe and Yale. But Alex is playing with forces far beyond her control, and when faculty members begin to die off, she knows these aren’t just accidents. Something deadly is at work in New Haven, and if Alex is going to survive, she’ll have to reckon with the monsters of her past and a darkness built into the university’s very walls.

The Way Home by Peter S. Beagle, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60702-5.
Two novellas from the world of The Last Unicorn.  The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone… so she ventured out from the safety of the enchanted forest on a quest for others of her kind. Joined along the way by the bumbling magician Schmendrick and the indomitable Molly Grue, the unicorn learns all about the joys and sorrows of life and love before meeting her destiny in the castle of a despondent monarch – and confronting the creature that would drive her kind to extinction.

Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-71509-6.
Juvenile YA fantasy. Thirty years ago, a young woman was murdered, a family was lynched, and New Orleans saw the greatest magical massacre in its history. In the days that followed, a throne was stolen from a queen. On the anniversary of these brutal events, Clement and Cristina Trudeau – twin heirs to the powerful, magical, dethroned family – are mourning their father and caring for their sick mother. Until, by chance, they discover their mother isn’t sick – she’s cursed. Cursed by someone on the very magic council their family used to rule. Someone who will come for them next.

Book of Night by Holly Black, Penguin, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-10239-0.
Holly Black makes her adult debut with Book of Night, a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies.

One For My Enemy by Olivie Blake, Tor, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-035-01157-5.
In New York City, two rival witch families fight for the upper hand.  The Antonova sisters are beautiful, cunning and ruthless, and their mother – known only as Baba Yaga – is the elusive supplier of premium intoxicants. Their adversaries, the influential Fedorov brothers, serve their crime boss father. Named Koschei the Deathless, his enterprise dominates the shadows of magical Manhattan.  For twelve years, the families have maintained a fraught stalemate. Then everything is thrown into disarray. Bad blood carries them to the brink of disaster, even as fate draws together a brother and sister from either side. Yet the siblings still struggle for power, and internal conflicts could destroy each family from within. That is, if the enmity between empires doesn’t destroy both sides first.

The Witch in the Well by Camilla Bruce, Transworld, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-63341-4.
a Grimm's fairy tale for the 21st century…  Over a hundred years ago, the citizens of F- did something rather bad. And local school teacher Catherine Evans has made writing the definitive account of what happened when Ilsbeth Clark drowned in the well her life's work.  The town's people may not want their past raked up, but Catherine is determined to shine a light upon that shameful event. For Ilsbeth was an innocent, after all. She was shunned and ostracised by rumourmongers and ill-wishers and someone has to speak up for her. And who better than Catherine, who has herself felt the sting and hurt of such whisperings?  But then a childhood friend returns to F -. Elena is a successful author whose book, The Whispers Inside: A Reawakening of the Soul, has earned her a certain celebrity. In search of a new subject, she takes an interest in the story of Ilsbeth Clark and announces her intention to write a book about the long-dead woman, focusing on the natural magic she believes she possessed.  And Elena has everything Catherine has not, like a platform and connections and no one seems to care that Elena's book will be pure speculation, tainting Ilsbeth's memory rather than preserving it.  Catherine is determined that something must be done and plots to blunt her rival's pen. However she had not allowed for the fact that the past might not be so dead after all - that something is reaching out from the well, disturbing her reality.  Before summer's over, one woman will be dead, the other accused of murder… but is she really guilty, or are there other forces at work? And who was Ilsbeth Clark, really? An innocent? A witch? Or something else entirely?

Ancient Images by Ramsey Campbell, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58764-9.
Tower of Fear is a lost Karloff and Lugosi film. Researcher Sandy Allan vows to track it down. She learns how haunted the production was and survivors are, and becomes haunted herself. The film contains a secret of Redfield, a titled family. For fertility the Redfield land demands a sacrifice and a band of ideal victims is heading there.

The Adventures of Amena Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty, Harper Voyager, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN not provided.
Shannon Chakraborty, the bestselling author of The City of Brass, launches a new trilogy of magic and mayhem with this tale of pirates and sorcerers, forbidden artefacts and ancient mysteries, and one woman’s quest to seize a final chance at glory…  A pirate of infamy and one of the most storied and scandalous captains to sail the seas.  Amina al-Sirafi has survived backstabbing rogues, vengeful merchant princes, several husbands, and one actual demon to retire peacefully with her family to a life of piety, motherhood, and absolutely nothing that hints of the supernatural.  But when she’s offered a job no bandit could refuse, she jumps at the chance for one final adventure with her old crew that will make her a legend and offers a fortune that will secure her and her family’s future forever.  Yet the deeper Amina dives, the higher the stakes. For there’s always risk in wanting to become a legend, to seize one last chance at glory, to savour just a bit more power… and the price might be your very soul.

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-38405-5.
Gothic fantasy. Once upon a time, a man who believed in fairy tales married a beautiful, mysterious woman named Indigo. He was a scholar of myths. She was heiress to a fortune. In exchange for her love, Indigo extracted a promise: that her bridegroom would never pry into her past. But when Indigo learns that her aunt is dying and the couple travel to the House of Dreams, the house slowly reveals his wife’s secrets. Soon the bridegroom will be forced to choose between reality and fantasy, even if doing so threatens to destroy their marriage… or their lives.

The Book of Eve by Meg Clothier, Wildfire, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-472-27608-7.
Beatrice is the convent's librarian. For years she has shunned the company of her sisters finding solace in manuscripts. Then, one carnival night two women are left bleeding, abandoned outside the convent walls. Moments from death one of them gives Beatrice something, a book whose pages have a dangerous life of their own. But men of faith want the book destroyed… Meanwhile, the book's voice grows stronger…!

Scarlet by Genevieve Cogman, Tor, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-08372-9.
The Scarlet Pimpernel is rescuing vampire aristocrats from Revolutionary France. But one young mage is determined to stop his dastardly plans. In Revolutionary France, the aristocrats are vampires – and they face the guillotine. However, the Scarlet Pimpernel, a disguised British noble, is determined to rescue them. These predators are being offered sanctuary by their aristocratic British kin, but at great cost to London’s ordinary people.  Then an English maid discovers the only power that could stop them. Assuming she survives.  Scarlet is the first book in the trilogy, set during the turbulent French Revolution, and featuring all of Genevieve Cogman’s trademark wit and fast-paced plotting. Billed by the publisher as perfect for fans of 'The Invisible Library' series, Kim Newman and Gail Carriger.

The Blood Gift by N. E. Davenport, Harper Voyager, £8.99, pbk, ISBN not provided.
It’s all about blood.  Blood spilled long ago between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor, ending all blood magic.  Now there is peace in the Republic – but there is also a strict class system, misogyny, and racism. Her world is not perfect, but Ikenna survived in it. Until now.  With the murder of her grandfather, Ikenna spirals out of control. Though she is an initiate for the Republic’s deadly elite military force, Ikenna has a secret only her grandfather knew: she possesses the blood magic of the Republic’s enemies.  Ikenna throws herself into the gladiatorial war games at the heart of her martial world: trials that will lead her closer to his killers. Under the spotlight, she subjects herself to abuse from a society that does not value her, that cherishes lineage over talent – all while hiding gifts that, if revealed, would lead to execution or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all to find out who killed her grandfather… So she can end them.  Magic, technology, and rebellion meet in this debut – part one of a duology that sees a young Black woman rise through misogyny and racism to become an elite warrior.

The First Bright Thing by J. R. Dawson, Tor, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-035-01819-2.
If you knew how dark tomorrow would be, what would you do with today? Welcome to the Circus of the Fantasticals. Ringmaster – Rin, to those who know her best – can jump to different moments in time as easily as her wife, Odette, soars from bar to bar on the trapeze. With the scars of World War I feeling more distant as the years pass, Rin is focusing on the brighter things in life. Like the circus she’s built and the magical misfits and outcasts – known as Sparks – who’ve made it their home.  Every night, Rin and the Fantasticals enchant a Big Top packed full with audiences who need to see the impossible.  But while the present is bright, threats come at Rin from the past and the future. The future holds an impending war that the Sparks can see barrelling toward their Big Top and everyone in it. And Rin's past creeps closer every day, a malevolent shadow Rin can’t fully escape. It takes the form of another Spark circus, with tents as black as midnight and a ringmaster who rules over his troupe with a dangerous power. Rin’s circus has something he wants, and he won't stop until it’s his.

The Malevolent Seven by Sebastien de Castell, Jo Fletcher Books, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-42277-1.
Picture a wizard: skinny old guy with a long straggly beard, wearing iridescent silk robes. The hat’s a must, too, right? Big, floppy thing, covered in esoteric symbols – wouldn’t want a simple steel helmet that might, you know, protect the part of him most needed for conjuring magical forces from being bashed in.  Now open your eyes and let me show you what a real war mage looks like. You’re probably not going to like it. We’re violent, angry, dangerously broken people who sell our skills to the highest bidder, be damned to any moral or ethical considerations.  At least, until such irritating concepts as friendship and the end of the world get in the way.  My name is Cade Ombra and I currently make my living as a mercenary wonderist (I used to have a far more noble-sounding title – until I discovered the people I worked for weren’t as noble as I’d believed). Now I’m on the run and my only friend, a homicidal thunder mage, has invited me to join him on a suicide mission against the seven deadliest mages on the continent.  Time to recruit some very bad people to help us on this job..

The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi, Harper Voyager, £8.99, pbk, ISBN not provided.
The Empire rules by blood Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control. Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance. Clear is the blood of the servants, of the crushed, of the invisible.  The Aktibar – a set of trials held every ten years to find the next Ember rulers of the Empire – is about to begin.  All can join but not just anyone can win; it requires great skill and ingenuity to become the future wardens of Strength, Knowledge, Truth and Duty.  Sylah was destined to win the trials and be crowned Warden of Strength. Stolen by blue-blooded rebels she was raised with a Duster’s heart; forged as a weapon to bring down from within the red-blooded Embers’ regime of cruelty. But when her adopted family were brutally murdered those dreams of a better future turned to dust.  However, the flame of hope may yet be rekindled because Sylah wasn’t made to sparkle, she was born to burn.  And it’s up to her whether she rules the empire or destroys it.

Shield Maiden by Sharon Emmerichs, Ad Astra – Head of Zeus, £15.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-804-54556-0.
Fryoa has grown up hearing tales of her uncle, King Beowulf, and his spectacular defeat of the monstrous Grendel. Her one desire is to become a shield maiden in her own right, but a terrible accident during her childhood has thwarted this dream. Yet still, somehow, she feels an uncontrollable power begin to rise within herself. The last thing Fryoa wants is to be forced into a political marriage, especially as her heart belongs to her lifelong friend, Theow. However, as foreign kings and chieftains descend upon her home to celebrate Beowulf's fifty years as the king of Geatland, the partnership begins to seem inevitable.  That is, until, amidst the lavish gifts and drunken revelry, a discovery is made that threatens the safety of Fryoa's entire clan – and her own life. Incensed by this betrayal, Fryoa resolves to fight for her people no matter the cost. As a queen should. As a shield maiden would.  And as the perilous situation worsens, Fryoa's powers seem only to grow stronger. But she is not the only one to feel the effects of her new-found battle-magic. For, buried deep in her gilded lair, a dragon is drawn to Fryoa's untamed power, and is slowly awakening from a long, cursed sleep...

Forge of the High Mage by Ian C. Esslemont, Transworld, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-63255-4.
Taking readers back to the turbulent early history of what would become the Malazan Empire, the fourth chapter in Esslemont's epic fantasy series 'Path to Ascendancy' – a sequence of six novels that will lead readers directly to Steven Erikson's epic fantasy opener, Gardens of the Moon. After decades of warfare, Malazan forces are now close to consolidating the Quon Talian mainland. Yet it is at this moment that Emperor Kellanved orders a new campaign far to the north: the invasion of Falar.

Blackheart Ghosts by Laure Eve, Jo Fletcher Books, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-41179-9.
The godchildren are rising… Billed by the publisher as Bladerunner meets Camelot in a neo-noir thriller drenched in power and betrayal. A stranger turns up at the door of Garad Gaheris, retired King’s Champion, with a hell of a story to tell. Current King’s Champion Si Wyll is poised to become the most dangerous man in London. Then a figure from his past surfaces, determined to blackmail him. The godchildren, born with illegal magical abilities, have had enough of being put down – but who must die to ensure their ascension?

Ragman by J. G. Faherty, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58743-4
An Egyptian priest comes back from the land of the dead to take revenge on the descendants of the men who killed him and uses a spell to call forth a bloodthirsty mummy. Two police officers must overcome their differences to stop the creature before things spiral completely out of control…

The Gauntlet and the Burning Blade by Ian Green, Ad Astra – Head of Zeus, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-800-24417-7.
Once a warrior of the Stormguard Commandos, Floré wrought horrors in the rotstorm to protect her people. She did her duty and swore to leave the bloodshed behind. But when her daughter, Marta, was kidnapped, Floré was forced to once again raise her gauntlet against the devils of Ferron to bring her home.  Now Marta is dying from the skein-magic she inherited from her father, and the Protectorate is weakened by the absence of the whitestaffs. The mystical order of healers and sages fled to their island citadel when strange orbs cut through the night. Floré and her comrades must race to find a cure for Marta, to find the truth of the whitestaffs' betrayal, and to fight back against the encroaching children of the storm. Floré has taken up her gauntlets and her sword to keep her people safe – but steel alone might not be enough...

Agents of Light and Darkness by Simon R. Green, Jo Fletcher Books, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-42645-8.
PI John Taylor is back in the Nightside because the Unholy Grail is missing… In the Nightside, that nightmarish realm hidden deep beneath London, it is forever 3 a.m. Here inhuman creatures walk beside mythic gods. And John Taylor, private detective, is in the secret supernatural heart of London to find an item of inestimable value. Angels, demons, sinners and saints are all determined to find the Unholy Grail, no matter what the cost. And it isn’t long before they realise exactly who can lead them to it.

Something From The Nightside by Simon R. Green, Jo Fletcher Books, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-42644-1.
In the Nightside, that nightmarish realm hidden deep beneath London, it is forever 3 a.m. Here inhuman creatures walk beside mythic gods. PI John Taylor swore he’d never return to the Nightside, but a girl is missing… I left the Nightside a long time ago, with my skin and sanity barely intact, and now I make my living in the sunlit streets of London. I swore I’d never return. But there’s a kid in danger and a woman depending on me. So I am going home.

Weyward by Emilia Hart, Borough Press, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN not provided.
KATE, 2019 - Kate flees London – and her abusive partner – for Cumbria and Weyward Cottage, inherited from her great-aunt. There, a secret lurks in the bones of the house, hidden ever since the witch-hunts of the 17th century.  VIOLET, 1942 - Violet is more interested in collecting insects and climbing trees than in becoming a proper young lady. Until a chain of shocking events changes her life forever.  ALTHA, 1619 - Altha is on trial for witchcraft, accused of killing a local man. Known for her uncanny connection with nature and animals, she is a threat that must be eliminated...

The Thorns Remain by J. J. A. Harwood, Harper Voyager, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN not provided.
A dance with the fae will change everything.  1919. In a highland village forgotten by the world, harvest season is over and the young who remain after war and flu have ravaged the village will soon head south to make something of themselves.  Moira Jean and her friends head to the forest for a last night of laughter before parting ways. Moira Jean is being left behind. She had plans to leave once – but her lover died in France and with him, her future. The friends light a fire, sing and dance. But with every twirl about the flames, strange new dancers thread between them, music streaming from the trees.  The fae are here.  Suddenly Moira Jean finds herself all alone, her friends spirited away. The iron medal of her lost love, pinned to her dress, protected her from magic.  For the Fae feel forgotten too. Lead by the darkly handsome Lord of the Fae, they are out to make themselves known once more. Moira Jean must enter into a bargain with the Lord to save her friends – and fast, for the longer one spends with the Fae, the less like themselves they are upon return. If Moira Jean cannot save her friends before Beltine, they will be lost forever…

A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon by Sarah Hawley, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60889-3.
A magically challenged witch accidentally summons a demon who wants her heart – but needs her soul.  Mariel finds herself staring down a demon, Ozroth the Ruthless. Oz is a legend among demons, powerful and merciless. But his reptutation has suffered ever since a bargain went awry and he accidentally gained a soul.  If he can strike a bargain with Mariel, Ozroth will earn back his deadly reputation.  When real attraction blooms between them, Ozroth has a limited amount of time to strike the deal, and if Mariel gives up her soul, she’ll lose all her emotions – including love.

The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield, Harper Voyager, £8.99, pbk, ISBN not provided.
‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’.  1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.  The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.  In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives.  But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.  The publisher says, with romance, betrayal, and enchantment, The Embroidered Book re-imagines a dazzling period of history as you have never seen it before.

The Dark Lands by Markus Heitz, Jo Fletcher Books, £12.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-784-29441-0.
The great pulp writer Robert E. Howard introduced the Puritan Solomon Kane to the world: a sombre man who dedicated his life to battling evil in all its forms. Now Markus Heitz brings us Aenlin Kane, his daughter. She may never have met her famous father, but the young adventuress is determined to follow in Solomon’s footsteps, battling dark forces, gunpowder, steel and magic – in the Dark Lands!

Oracle by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-33193-6.
When teenagers stumble on a battered, 18th-century Dutch sailing ship in a deserted field, they take turns daring each other to enter. . . until they don’t return. Soon, Luca’s father is among the missing, until one day when he returns… changed. Together with a number of unlikely companions – the mysterious Safiya Adan, whom Luca is secretly in love with, and the eccentric Robert Grim, an old man with a frightening past – Luca discovers he is the linchpin in a battle between ancient forces, and time is running out to avert a disaster that threatens the country’s entire coastline…

Christmas Gothic edited by Jerrold E. Hogle, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17164-6.
A seasonal evocation of the dark and moody, the ghastly, the ghostly and the magical Christmas short story. New stories from open submissions join the classic tales of Algernon Blackwood, James Joyce, E. F. Benson, Elizabeth Gaskell and more. Jerrold E. Hogle is Professor Emeritus of English and University Distinguished Professor at the University of Arizona in the USA. The winner of Guggenheim, Mellon and other fellowships for research – and the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Keats-Shelley Association of America – he has published extensively on English Romantic literature, literary theory and the Gothic.

A Man Among Ghosts by Steven Hopstaken, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58776-2.
After surviving a near-death experience, David finds himself haunted by numerous tortured souls, all demanding he kill someone named Fitz. Are the ghosts real, is he hallucinating or are people trying to drive him insane? As his paranoia ramps up, he discovers these are ghosts of people not yet dead.

Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-70203-4.
In the city of Qalia, spice magic awakens the affinities of those who drink the misra tea. With her affinity for iron, Imani can wield a dagger like no other. But ever since her brother was caught stealing coveted spice, Imani’s reputation has been in tatters. Until she discovers her brother may be alive. Desperate to find him, she joins the mission sent to hunt him down, accompanied by Taha, a powerful beastseer, who enthrals and enrages her in equal measure. Imani must decide where her loyalties lie… before it is too late.

Slavic Myths edited by Jake Jackson, Flame Tree Press, £10.99 / Can$19.99 / US$14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17331-2.
A new collection of tales from the Slavic peoples of Eastern Europe, from the Polish to the Macedonians, the Czechs and the Serbians, with roots in pagan folklore, and influenced by the Viking traders who settled in Kiev in the mid-ninth century. Stories include ‘The King of the Toads’ and ‘Vassilissa the Cunning and the Tsar of the Sea.’

Godkiller by Hanna Kaner, Harper Voyager, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN not provided.
You are not welcome here, godkiller.  Kissen’s family were killed by zealots of a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing gods, and enjoys it. That is until she finds a god she cannot kill: Skedi, a god of white lies, has somehow bound himself to a young noble, and they are both on the run from unknown assassins.  Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, they must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favour. Pursued by demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning – something is rotting at the heart of their world, and only they can be the ones to stop it.

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka, Sort of Books, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-191-4-50207-1.
A searing satire set amid the murderous mayhem of Sri Lanka beset by civil war Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida, war photographer, gambler and closet gay, has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira lake and he has no idea who killed him. At a time where scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts with grudges who cluster round can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons (nights) to try and contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to a hidden cache of photos that will rock Sri Lanka... The novel won this year's Booker Prize.

The Curator by Owen King, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-71509-6.
At first glance, the world has not changed: the trams, the grand hotels, the cafes abuzz with conversation. Yet it only takes a spark to ignite a revolution. Dora, a maid, finds herself free to investigate what her brother may have seen at the Institute for Psychical Research before he died. But it is another establishment she is given to look after, The National Museum of the Worker. This forgotten edifice is occupied by waxworks of disturbingly lifelike figures. As the revolution unleashes terrifying darkness, Dora’s search for the truth unravels a conspiracy and brings her to the edge of worlds.

Under the Whispering Door by T. J. Klune, Tor, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-08799-4.
A story about a man who spent his life at the office – and his death building a home.

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff, Harper Voyager, £8.99, pbk, ISBN not provided.
It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.&nbap; Gabriel de Leon, half man, half monster and last remaining silversaint – a sworn brother of the holy Silver Order dedicated to defending the realm from the creatures of the night – is all that stands between the world and its end.  Now imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope: The Holy Grail.

The Thousand Eyes by A. K. Larkwood, Tor, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-03281-9.
Two years have passed since Csorwe defied her mentor and stole a precious artefact. But the powerful wizard isn’t done with her yet – even as an ancient and deadly enemy threatens to reawaken.

The Children of Gods and Fighting Men by Shauna Lawless, Ad Astra – Head of Zeus, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-803-28264-0.
981 AD. The King of Dublin is dead. His widow, Gormflaith, has ambitions for her son – and herself – but Ireland is a dangerous place and kings tend not to stay kings for long. Gormflaith also has a secret. She is one of the Fomorians, an immortal, magical race. She has kept her powers hidden at all costs, for there are other immortals in this world – like the Tuatha Dé Danann, warriors who are sworn to kill Fomorians.  Fodla is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann with the gift of healing. Her kind are forbidden to live amongst the mortals, but Fodla agrees to help her kin by going to spy on Brian Boru, a powerful man who aims to rule Ireland. She finds a land on the brink of war – a war she is desperate to stop. However, preventing the loss of mortal lives is not easy with Ireland in turmoil and the Fomorians on the rise.

Speaking Bones by Ken Liu, Ad Astra – Head of Zeus, £12, pbk, ISBN 978-1-838-93167-4.
Ukyu-Gondé. Stalked by foes and dogged by betrayal, Princess Théra is pursued across a continent vaster than she could ever have imagined, to the hidden valleys of the World's Edge Mountains, into the barrows and subterranean halls of the City of Ghosts, across the ice floes of the far north. She breached the Wall of Storms intent on taking war to the Lyucu homelands, but how do you conquer the unconquerable?  Dara. Empress Jia, Prince Phyro and Pékyu Tanvanaki find themselves bound to paths they never would have chosen. Amid atrocity and subterfuge, they will discover that the Courage of Brutes is no substitute for the Grace of Kings, and that little separates the Grace of Kings from the Madness of Tyrants. On both sides of the Wall of Storms, defeat's bitter tears mix with the fruits of knowledge new and ancient as two empires bound by blood and bone, by writ and iron, by time and custom, face a whirlwind that threatens to utterly consume them. The teeth, as they say, are on the board.

Maybe Next Time? by Cesca Major, Harper Fiction, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN not provided.
What if at the end of an ordinary day, the worst thing possible happened to the love of your life? And then the next morning you woke up, and you were living that day again? And again? And again?  What would you do differently? How would you save the person you loved?  Ask yourself: what would you do to save the love of your life?  This novel is a fresh take on the 12:01 short story turned novel, turned film trope that arguably 'inspired' Groundhog Day.

The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer, Phoenix, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60586-1
A debut set in East Anglia in 1645 and inspired by true events, The Witching Tide is the story of a midwife harbouring a secret and a community torn apart by fear.  Martha Hallybread has lived peacefully for more than four decades in her beloved village of Cleftwater. But when a sinister newcomer arrives, she becomes a silent witness to a witch-hunt that threatens her community and her own survival.  In desperation, Martha revives a poppet, a wax witching doll that she inherited from her mother, in the hope that it will bring protection. But the poppet’s true powers are unknowable, the tide is turning and time is running out…

The Sinister Booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60631-8.
Alternate 1980s England. There is often trouble of a mythical sort in Bath. This time it comes from the discovery of a sorcerous map, leading left-handed bookseller Merlin into great danger. A desperate rescue is attempted by right-handed bookseller Vivien and their magical friend Susan.  The map takes the trio to a world maintained by deadly sorcery performed by an ancient sovereign and guarded by monstrous living statues of Purbeck marble.  If they do not stop the sovereign’s plot, she will soon kill again. And this time, her target is not an ordinary mortal.

The Best of our Past the Worst of our Future by Christi Nogle, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58518-8.
Collection of shorts: psychological and supernatural horror stories. Their rural and small-town characters confront difficult pasts and look out to promising but often terrifying futures. The stories share themes of trauma and resilience, with a focus on characters’ psychologies, and a sense of the gothic in contemporary life.

The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik, Penguin, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-10093-8.
The conclusion to the Scholomance trilogy.

Juniper & Thorn by Ava Reid, Cornerstone, £9.99, pbk, ISBN not provided.
Marlinchen and her sisters are the last true witches in a city shifting from magic to industry. Viewed as little more than tourist traps, they spend their days treating clients with archaic remedies and nostalgic charm, while attempting to placate their tyrannical, xenophobic wizard father, who keeps his daughters locked away in their crumbling home.  But at night, they sneak out to revel in the city's thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theatre, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart. But as their late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father's rage. And while their city flourishes, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power.

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross, Harper Fiction, £12.99, hrdbk, ISBN not provided.
When two young rival journalists find love through a magical connection, they must face the depths of hell, in a war among gods, to seal their fate forever.  After centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again. But eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow just wants to hold her family together. Her mother is suffering from addiction and her brother is missing from the front lines. Her best bet is to win the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette.  To combat her worries, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them beneath her wardrobe door, where they vanish into the hands of Roman Kitt, her cold and handsome rival at the paper. When he anonymously writes Iris back, the two of them forge a connection that will follow Iris all the way to the front lines of battle: for her brother, the fate of mankind, and love.  Billed by the publisher as Shadow and Bone meets Lore, Divine Rivals is an epic enemies-to-lovers fantasy novel filled with hope and heartbreak, and the unparalleled power of love.

A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland, Tor, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-09967-6.
A fantasy romance set in an Ottoman-inspired world of courtly conspiracies and chivalric fealty, as Prince Kadou and his bodyguard Evemer investigate a counterfeiting operation that could topple their empire.

City of Nightmares by Rebecca Schaeffer, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-71211-8.
Gotham-inspired city where people go to sleep and wake up as their own nightmares. Ever since her sister became a man-eating spider and slaughtered her way through town, Ness has been terrified. Because in Newham, the city that never sleeps, dreaming means waking up as your worst fear. Ness will do anything to avoid becoming another victim, even if that means lying low among a questionable organisation. In order to prove herself, Ness cons her way into what’s supposed to be a simple job for the organisation – only for it to blow up in her face.

Stardust in Their Veins by Laura Sebastian, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-37306-6.
Princesses Beatriz and Daphne have lost their older sister, but their mother’s grand scheme of taking the continent of Vesteria is far from complete. Usurped by conniving cousins Nico and Gigi, Beatriz fears for her life, while in icy Friv, Daphne continues her shaky alliance with the rebels even as she struggles to stay a step ahead of them. But when an unlikely ally offers Beatriz a deal, she finds herself back in her mother’s sights.

Persian Myths and Legends edited by Sahba Shayani, Flame Tree Press, £10.99 / Can$19.99 / US$14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17325-1.
Anthology. The great works of Persia contain some of the most beautiful language in the literary world. The Shah Nameh, Masnavi-e Ma’navi, the Anvar-i Suhayli fables and more, rival Dante’s Divine Comedy, India’s Mahabharata and Sumeria’s Epic of Gilgamesh in their cultural impact, bringing to life the tales of Ancient Persia

The Jaguar Path by Anna Stephens, Harper Voyager, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN not provided.
The Empire of Songs reigns supreme. Across all the lands of Ixachipan, its hypnotic, magical music sounds. Those who battled against the Empire have been enslaved and dispersed, taken far from their friends and their homes.  In the Singing City, Xessa must fight for the entertainment of her captors. Lilla and thousands of warriors are trained to serve as weapons for their enemies. And Tayan is trapped at the heart of the Empire’s power and magic, where the ruthless Enet’s ambition is ever growing.  Each of them harbours a secret hope, waiting for a chance to strike at the Empire from within. But first they must overcome their own desires.  Power can seduce as well as crush. And, in exchange for their loyalty, the Empire promises much.

The Homecoming of Beorthtnoth: together with the Battle of Maldon by J. R. R. Tolkien, Harper Fiction, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN not provided.
Historical (non-)fiction. Despite being first published in 1953, The Homecoming of Beorthtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son has remained in relative obscurity and been elusive to most readers, yet there is now a growing interest among students and general readers to plunder its riches.  The story told in the central verse-dialogue recounts the aftermath of a disastrous attack by Vikings on a small defensive force led by the Anglo-Saxon lord, Beorthnoth. As two of his soldiers carry bodies from the battle, they discuss the merits of how their commander conceded a dominant defensive position to give the Vikings a fair fight (and was then slaughtered for this needless act of chivalry).  J.R.R. Tolkien based this work on the famous Anglo-Saxon poem, The Battle of Maldon, and Tolkien’s prose translation of this poem appears in print here for the very first time. Also appearing for the first time is ‘The Tradition of Versification in Old English’, a wide-ranging essay on the nature of poetic tradition and The Battle of Maldon’s place within the early English canon. These are accompanied by Tolkien’s bravura analysis of the nature of heroism, which he himself cites as central to his writing of The Lord of the Rings. Billed by the publisher as a hybrid of incisive critical analysis and powerful verse-drama, these texts are unique among his published work and brilliantly demonstrate the peerless blend of poetic imagination and academic mastery which distinguishes J.R.R. Tolkien above all other scholars.

The Nature of Middle Earth by J. R. R. Tolkien, Harper Voyager, £9.99, pbk, ISBN not provided.
It is well known that J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings in 1954–5. What may be less known is that he continued to write about Middle-Earth in the decades that followed, right up until the years before his death in 1973.   For him, Middle-Earth was part of an entire world to be explored, and the writings in The Nature of Middle-Earth reveal the journeys that he took as he sought to better understand his unique creation. From sweeping themes as complex and profound as the metaphysics of Elvish immortality and reincarnation, and the Powers of the Valar, to the more earth-bound subjects of the lands and beasts of Numenor, the geography of the Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor, and even who had beards!  This new collection, which has been edited by Carl F. Hostetter, one of the world’s leading Tolkien experts, is a veritable treasure-trove offering readers a chance to peer over Professor Tolkien’s shoulder at the very moment of discovery: and on every page, Middle-Earth is once again brought to extraordinary life.

Equinox by David Towsey, Ad Astra – Head of Zeus, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-801-10166-0.
In this world, two souls inhabit a sole body, one by day, one by night. But though they live alongside one another, their ends do not always align. For Special Inspector Morden, whose hunt for a dangerous witch takes him far away, this will be a problem...  Christophor Morden lives by night. His day-brother, Alexsander, knows only the sun. They are two souls in a single body, in a world where identities change with the rising and setting of the sun. Night-brother or day-sister, one never sees the light, the other knows nothing of the night.  Early one evening, Christophor is roused by a call to the city prison. A prisoner has torn his eyes out and cannot say why. Yet worse: in the sockets that once held his eyes, teeth are growing. The police suspect the supernatural, so Christophor, a member of the King's special inspectorate, is charged with finding the witch responsible. Night-by-night, Christophor's investigation leads him ever further from home, toward a backwards village on the far edge of the kingdom. But the closer he gets to the truth, the more his day-brother's actions frustrate him. Who is Alexsander protecting? What does he not want Christophor to discover?  And all the while, an ancient and apocalyptic ritual creeps closer to completion...

Egyptian Myths and Legends edited by Joyce Tyldesley, Flame Tree Press, £10.99 / Can$19.99 / US$14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17326-8.
Anthology of the stories of the ancients, from the birth of creation by the sun god Ra, the murder of Osiris, and the revenge of Horus, to the underworld and afterlife. The Egyptians explained the effects of famine, harvest, floods and death by creating a pantheon of gods that still holds our fascination today.

Misrule by Heather Walter, Penguin, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-10132-4.
Did they break the curse, or begin one? Sleeping Beauty’s dark sorceress reclaims her story in this sequel to Malice.

Nocturne by Alyssa Wees, Del Rey, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-90096-5.
Fantasy set in 1930s Chicago, a talented ballerina finds herself torn between her dreams and her desires when she’s pursued by a secretive patron who may be more than he seems. Grace has always wanted to be a ballerina, ever since she first peered through the windows of the Near North Ballet company. The elegance of the dance seemed transcendent to an immigrant child of the working poor, and so, when she is orphaned, it is to the ballet that she flees. Years later, Grace is on the verge of becoming the company’s new prima ballerina – though she is beginning to realise that achieving her long-held dream may not be the triumph she once envisioned. Then Grace attracts the attention of the enigmatic Master La Rosa, and realises that the world may not be as small or constricted as she had come to fear. But who is her mysterious patron, and what does he want from her? As Grace begins to unlock the Master’s secrets, she discovers that there may be another way entirely to achieve the transcendence she has always sought.

Hide by Kiersten White, Penguin, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-15025-4.
A high-stakes hide-and-seek competition turns deadly in this dark supernatural thriller. Billed by the publisher as perfect for fans of Stephen King and Squid Game.

In the Heart of Hidden Things by Kit Whitfield, Quercus, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-41491-2.
When you live next to the People, life is never safe… Everyone knows that if you fall afoul of the People, you must find a fairy-smith to protect you with cold iron, good counsel and unvarnished opinions about your common sense… but sometimes even they run into difficulties.

The Night Field by Donna Glee Williams, Jo Fletcher Books, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-42268-9.
Welcome to The Real, where Pyn-Poi’s people live in harmony with nature – until an invisible stink threatens their whole world.  The trees have a job for Pyn-Poi. To succeed, she will have to be brave and strong and true, no matter what.   Pyn-Poi’s mother Marak wants her to grow up to be the matriarch of the tribe, to cook, to make medicines, to care for everyone. Pyn-Poi would rather be out among the trees with her father, learning how to persuade tree roots into bridges, to feel when shoots are too crowded, when drooping leaves need attention.  Then something starts going wrong in The Real: instead of nourishment and renewal, the rains bring an invisible, all-pervasive stink that’s poisoning people and plants alike. Pyn-Poi is the treewoman now: it’s her job to stop it. Their only chance is for her to climb to the land beyond the Wall, where the Ancestors live, to plead for their intercession.  She never expected to find a whole new world up there, with people who are very different from her own family and friends – a land where they are killing nature, and what they are doing to their plants is also killing The Real.  Pyn-Poi must learn how to live in this terrifying new world if she is to save her own world from total destruction.

Games for Dead Girls by Jen Williams, Harper Voyager, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN not provided.
When Charlie was eleven, she created a monster…  For Charlie and her niece Katie, it’s supposed to be a quiet holiday in the peaceful, out-of-the-way seaside town of Hithechurch, England. Charlie is researching a book on the folklore of the area, and the gloomy sea and dangerous caves seem to offer up plenty of material, while Katie is just there to run wild and get some fresh air.  But Charlie’s research reveals a deeper, darker secret, one that uncovers her own, carefully hidden past. Because young women are going missing again: a teenage girl snatched from the beach in broad daylight, and before that, other girls through the decades have vanished from the area, their families left with no answers and no bodies to bury.  Charlie’s creation was a thing of felt, straw, fury, and a rusty pair of scissors in the dark. It couldn’t be her monster. Could it? Charlie is set on discovering the truth about the girls’ disappearances, but she’s about to encounter a force of pure, obsessive malevolence that threatens to destroy anything in its path.  Jen Williams has twice won the British Fantasy Award for her 'Winnowing Flame' trilogy.

Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amelie Wen Zhao, Harper Voyager, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN not provided.
Once, Lan had a different name. Now, she goes by the one the Elantian colonizers gave her when they invaded her kingdom, killed her mother, and outlawed her people’s magic. She spends her nights as a songgirl in Haak’gong, a city transformed by the conquerors, and spends her days scavenging for remnants of the past. For anything that might help her understand the strange mark burned into her arm by her mother, in her last act before she died. No one can see the mysterious mark, an untranslatable Hin character, except Lan. Until the night a boy appears at the teahouse and saves her life.  Zen is a practitioner – one of the fabled magicians of the Last Kingdom, whose abilities were rumoured to be drawn from the demons they communed with. Magic believed to be long lost. Magic to be hidden from the Elantians at all costs.  Both Lan and Zen have secrets buried deep within. Fate has connected them, but their destiny remains unwritten. Both hold the power to liberate their land. And both hold the power to destroy the world.  A tale of romance and fate, Song of Silver, Flame Like Night is, the publishers says, a gift to those seeking adventure with a mythological twist. Perfect for fans of Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan, The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi and Iron Widow by by Xiran Jay Zhao.

The Shadow Casket by Chris Wooding, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-21490-3.
The second instalment in what the publisher says is a fast-moving coming-of-age trilogy featuring a cast of diverse characters, brilliant set pieces and a strong character- and plot-driven story.  A band of rebels. A revolution about to begin. The Krodans have crushed Ossia in an iron grip of terror. The revolution seems further away than ever.  Far in the north, the Dawnwardens seek to unite the fractious clans of the Fell Folk and create a stronghold from which to retake their land.  But what if there was a weapon that could turn the tide?  The Shadow Casket has returned from out of the past, and it will save or damn them all…

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Spring 2023

Forthcoming Non-Fiction SF &
Popular Science Books

 

Fans: A Journey Into the Psychology of Belonging by Michael Bond, Picador, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-05247-3.
a journey into the world of superfans and an exploration of the psychology of fandom.  Fans takes the reader on a journey through a constellation of fandoms, and along the way demonstrates some fundamental truths about the human condition. Part behavioural study, part entertainment, at its heart the book is a story of collectives, of what happens to us when we interact with people who share our passions. The human brain is wired to reach out, and while our groupish tendencies can bring much strife (religious intolerance, racism, war, etc.), they are also the source of some of our greatest satisfactions.  Fandoms offer much of the pleasure of tribalism with little of the harm: a feeling of belonging and of shared culture, a sense of meaning and purpose, improved mental well-being, reassurance that our most outlandish convictions will be taken seriously, and the freedom to try to emulate (and dress like) our hero.  In Fans, Michael Bond explores the subject through the lens of social identity theory, a set of ideas used by social psychologists and anthropologists to understand how people behave in groups and why groups have such a profound effect on human culture.

If Nietzsche Were A Narwhal: What Animal Intelligence Reveals About Human Stupidity by Justin Gregg, Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-71250-7.
What if human intelligence is more of a liability than a gift? After all, the animal kingdom, in all its diversity, gets by just fine without it. At first glance, human history is full of remarkable feats of intelligence, yet human exceptionalism can be a double-edged sword. With our unique cognitive prowess comes severe consequences: existential angst; violence; discrimination and a tendency towards self-destruction. Gregg highlight features seemingly unique to humans – our use of language, our rationality, our moral systems, our so-called sophisticated consciousness – and compares them to our animal brethren. What emerges is demystifying, remarkable, engaging, and surprisingly upbeat.  Psychologist Justin Gregg is a Senior Research Associate with the Dolphin Communication Project and Adjunct Professor at St Francis Xavier University.

On the Origin of Time: Stephen Hawking’s final theory by Thomas Hertog, Transworld, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-911-70908-4.
A new theory of the universe, twenty years in the making, by Stephen Hawking and his close collaborator Thomas Hertog.  Perhaps the biggest question Stephen Hawking tried to answer in his extraordinary life was how the universe could have created conditions so perfectly hospitable to life.  Pondering this mystery led Hawking back to the origins of the universe, but his early work ran into a crisis when the maths predicted many big bangs producing a multiverse – countless different universes, most of which were far too bizarre to harbour life.  Holed up in the theoretical physics department at Cambridge, Stephen Hawking and his friend and collaborator Thomas Hertog worked shoulder to shoulder for twenty years on a new quantum theory of the cosmos. As their discoveries took them deeper into the big bang, they were startled to find a deeper level of evolution in which the physical laws themselves transform and simplify until particles, forces, and even time itself fades away. This led them to a revolutionary idea: the laws of physics are not set in stone but are born and co-evolve as the universe they govern takes shape.  On the Origin of Time takes the reader on a quest to understand questions bigger than our universe, peering into the extreme quantum physics of black holes and drawing on the latest developments in string theory. As Hawking's final days drew near, the two collaborators published a final theory proposing their radical new Darwinian perspective on the origins of our universe. Their theory profoundly transforms the way we think about our place in the order of the cosmos and may ultimately prove Hawking's biggest legacy.

Dice Men: The Origin Story of Games Workshop by Ian Livingstone with Steve Jackson, Unbound, £30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-800-18052-9.
Since then, Games Workshop has grown into a cornerstone of the UK gaming industry. From the launch of Dungeons and Dragons from the back of a van to creating the Fighting Fantasy series, co-founders Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson tell their remarkable story for the first time.  An initial order of only six copies was enough for Games Workshop to secure exclusive rights to sell Dungeons and Dragons in the whole of Europe. Hobbyists themselves, Steve and Ian's passion for the game soon spread and in 1977 they opened the first Games Workshop store. They went on to become bestselling authors and created an entirely new genre of interactive stories.  Dice Men is more than just the story of an iconic shop which has changed gaming forever, it's an insight into the birth of an industry. Games Workshop has grown from its humble beginnings to become a global company listed on the London Stock Exchange, an FTSE 250 company with a market capitalisation of more than £3.5 billion. Dice Men is the story of the rollercoaster early years.  Click on the title link for a standalone review.

Tomorrow's People: The Future of Humanity in Ten Numbers by Paul Morland, Picador, £9.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-04601-4.
Paul Morland The future of both humanity and the planet depends on the shape of human population growth, the only aspect of our future that can be confidently predicted. In ten thought-provoking chapters, Paul Morland explores ten illuminating trends that will determine that shape, from the fertility (sic means 'fecundity') rate of Singapore to the ageing of the Japanese.

Still Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton, Harper Voyager, £8.99, pbk, ISBN not provided.
Wil Wheaton grew up.  Ideally, this is what everyone does. But most of us don’t do it in front of millions of people. Wil was a very famous kid – right up until he wasn’t. After that, he wasn’t sure who he was at all.  So, in 2001, he started a blog. It was less about being a famous child than about being a not-so-famous grownup. He wrote about his pets and his hobbies, punk rock and parenting, board games and birthdays and (most importantly) burritos.  He thought he was writing for an audience of one: himself. To be fair, he was only off by about 3 million people. In Still Just a Geek, an older, somewhat wiser Wil revisits Just a Geek, his 2004 collection of posts from that blog, with all-new reflections on nerd culture, fame, love, trauma, tragedy, and confronting the worst parts of yourself.  Equal parts funny and poignant, Still Just a Geek explores the folly of youth and the pain of experience – and all the strange, awful, beautiful adventures in between.

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Spring 2023

General Science News

 

The 2022 Nobel Prizes have been announced. The wins were:-
          Physics: Alain Aspect (France), John F. Clauser (USA); and Anton Zeilinger (Austria). For groundbreaking experiments using entangled quantum states, where two particles behave like a single unit even when they are separated. Their results have cleared the way for new technology based upon quantum information. Related stories previously covered include:-
  - A quantum entanglement transfer from solid to photon and back has been developed, as has a quantum booster
  - Gamers prove quantum theory's spooky action at a distance
  - Quantum entanglement record smashed via satellite to 750 miles (1,200 km)
  - Quantum entanglement (action-at-a-distance) gets most rigorous test yet
  - Faster-than-light communication naysayers further confounded by robust, long-lived and high fidelity entanglement reading (in other words the instant teleportation of quantum states)
          Chemistry: Carolyn Bertozzi (US), Morten Meldal (Denmark) and Barry Sharpless' (US). For their work on linking molecules together, known as "click" chemistry that allows molecules to link together, like Lego pieces.
          Medicine: Svante Pääbo. For discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution. Related stories previously covered include:-
  - Denisovan, early humans, colonised more of Asia than previously thought
  - New estimate for oldest Homo sapiens
  - An ancestor species to Neanderthals and archaic human species in Europe and Asia has been discovered
  - An cousin species to Neanderthals and modern human species has been discovered in China
  - How humans eat meat before fire has now been revealed
  - Mouth bacteria reveal ancient, humans had a cooked starch diet
  - Denisovan and Neanderthal Y chromosomes have been sequenced
  - Neanderthals and Denisovans diverged between 381,000 and 473,000 years ago
  - Modern humans on Flores exhibit dwarfing genes
  - Modern humans had seΧ with Neanderthals 100,000 years ago
  - Denisovan and Neanderthal DNA found in modern Icelander genomes
  - New early human species found - Homo luzonensis
  - Genomes show modern humans first left Africa thousands of years earlier
  - Modern humans diverged from primitive humans between 350,000 and 260,000 years ago
  - Iηcest abounds among Neolithic Irish ruling classes genomic research reveals
  - Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans
  - Early Britons had dark skin and blue eyes ancient DNA reveals
  - First stone age tools now 71,000 years not 40,000 years ago
  - First humans in Australia arrived 10,000 years earlier than thought
          Literature: Annie Ernaux (France).
          Economics: Ben S. Bernanke (US), Douglas W. Diamond (US) and Philip H. Dybvig (US), “for research on banks and financial crises” in the early 1980s.
          Peace: Ales Bialiatski – Peace activist (Belarus), Memorial (Russian human rights organisation), and the Centre for Civil Liberties (Ukrainian human rights organisation.
          Last year's Nobel winners here.

The 2022 Breakthrough Prizes for science have been presented. The researchers behind the AlphaFold artificial-intelligence (AI) system have won one of this year's US$3-million Breakthrough prizes – the most lucrative awards in science. Demis Hassabis and John Jumper, both at DeepMind in London, were recognised for creating the tool that has predicted the 3D structures of almost every known protein on the planet.
          Another Life-Sciences Breakthrough prize was awarded jointly to sleep scientists Masashi Yanagisawa at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, and Emmanuel Mignot at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, for independently discovering that narcolepsy is caused by a deficiency of the brain chemical orexin.
          A third Life-Sciences prize is shared by Clifford Brangwynne at Princeton University in New Jersey and Anthony Hyman at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, for discovering a mechanism by which cell contents can organize themselves by segregating into droplets.
          The Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics goes to Daniel Spielman, a mathematician at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Spielman was recognized for multiple advances, including the development of error-correcting codes to filter out noise in high-definition television broadcasts.
         The Breakthrough prizes were founded in 2012 by Yuri Milner, a Russian-Israeli billionaire. They are now sponsored by Milner and other Internet entrepreneurs, including Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Meta (formerly Facebook).

Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize shortlist and winner for 2022 has been announced.  The Royal Society is Britain's national academy for science. The award is for popular science writing and this year’s shortlisted books were chosen from a record 219 submissions. It is a juried award.  The shortlist consists of:-
  - The Greywacke: How a Priest, a Soldier and a School Teacher Uncovered 300 Million Years of History by Nick Davidson
  - Different: What Apes Can Teach Us About Gender by Frans de Waal
  - Spike: The Virus vs. The People - the Inside Story by Jeremy Farrar with Anjana Ahuja
  - A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Pithy Chapters by Dr Henry Gee
  - Age Proof: The New Science of Living a Longer and Healthier Life by Professor Rose Anne Kenny
  - Hot Air: The Inside Story of the Battle Against Climate Change Denial by Professor Peter Stott
          And the winner was   - A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Pithy Chapters by Dr Henry Gee. Particularly pleasing win for us as Henry was the first of the Nature 'Futures' short story editors with whom we liaised (and still do) following our memorandum of understanding with Nature. His book encapsulates not just the history of the Earth, but life itself, and as a bonus takes into the future.
          The winner receives £25,000 (US$26,969) with £2,500 (US$2,696) awarded to each of the five shortlisted authors.  ++++ See here for last year's short-list and winner.

The Royal Society's Young People’s Book Prize 2022 shortlists is: 
Beetles for Breakfast…and Other Weird and Wonderful Ways to Save The Planet by Madeleine Finlay, illustrated by Jisu Choi
Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories by Kate Pankhurst
Fourteen Wolves by Catherine Barr, illustrated by Jenni Desmond
How Was That Built? by Roma Agrawal, illustrated by Katie Hickey
If the World Were 100 People by Jackie McCann, illustrated by Aaron Cushley
Microbe Wars by Gill Arbuthnott, illustrated by Marianna Madriz
          The shortlist will now be sent out to over 700 UK schools, science clubs and groups, where more than 15,000 young judges will pore over the pages before declaring their winner.

The world's population tops 8 billion in this the year of Soylent Green. The film Soylent Green was set in the fictional, overpopulated year of 2022. In the real 2022, November saw the global population top 8 billion and it is still rising. When SF2 Concatenation began as a print zine in 1987, the World population had just reached 5 billion and back in 1950 it was under three billion. By 2050 under the UN's high forecast the population will reach 10.6 billion, and low scenario 8.9 billion with a media scenario of 9.7 billion.
          This is all against a context of climate change. Today, there are just a few places in the Sahara that are uninhabitable; places where people would die of heat stroke in the summer without air conditioning. By 2070, under a median business-as-usual forecast (the track we are currently largely on), this will expand to all the southern Sahara and into sub-Saharan areas, much of Brazil and Peru, much of Arabia, much of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, parts of SE Asia and northern Australia. Currently, only 30 million people live in hot places, primarily in the Sahara Desert and Gulf Coast. Whereas, around 2 billion people are expected to live in the extremely hot areas of 2070. Factor in state fragility and nuclear weapons, then India and Pakistan is the principal touch point. (See Kemp, L., Xu, C., Depledge, J., et al. (2022) Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios. PNAS, vol. 119 (34), e2108146119.)

Electronic communications' dirty big secret. Some say we should move further away from relying on paper communication with increased electronics. Others that this is green-washing of a dirty industrial commercial sector. Leaving aside that using sustainably-managed forestry (plant at least one tree for every cut), and ship paper using non-fossil fuelled transport, is relatively environmentally friendly, electronic communication is both resource intensive and in the main environmentally damaging. Leaving aside that powering electronic communication (including the internet) and ignoring the energy used in its construction uses as much electricity (globally in 2021 still over 61% generated by fossil fuels) as a country the size of Iran, electronics produces causes environmental damage and, currently, is not sustainable.  The International Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) forum have estimated that in 2022 some 5.3 billion mobile phones were thrown away. Indeed, it has been estimated that by 2030, electrical and electronic waste - from washing machines and toasters to tablet computers and global positioning system (GPS) devices - will grow to 74 million tonnes! There are an estimated 16 billion mobile phones worldwide, and in Europe, almost a third are no longer in use. Their touch screens rely on rare earth elements. Though rare earth elements are not that rare, they are rarely found in ores in sufficient concentrations to be economically viable and those that are still result in much mine spoil.  In 2022, the Royal Society of Chemistry launched a campaign promoting the mining of e-waste, not mineral ores, to produce new products, highlighting global conflict, including the war in Ukraine, threatens precious-metal supply chains.  Precious elements not extracted from waste have to be mined - at great environmental cost.  Only some 17% of the world's e-waste is properly recycled, so the United Nations International Telecommunication Union has set a target to raise that to 30% this year (2023).  E-waste needs to be mined, not the Earth.
          The next time an SF convention tells you that they are solely going to rely on electronic communication as it is good for the environment, call them out! There are other reasons why convention organisers may want to go totally paperless but don't stand for their green-washing claims. As with most things, a sense of balance is required together with education and awareness if we are to transition to a truly sustainable management of the planet.

UNESCO says that glaciers in one-third of World Heritage sites will disappear by 2050 regardless of climate change scenario and glaciers in around half of all sites could almost entirely disappear by 2100 in a business-as-usual emissions scenario.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has published a report that also says that Africa will lose its last glaciers by 2050. These are on Mount Kilimanjaro in the United Republic of Tanzania, Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest24 in Kenya, Rwenzori Mountains National Park25 in Uganda and the Virunga National Park26 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo). If emissions are drastically cut to limit global warming to 1.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels, glaciers in two-thirds of World Heritage sites could be saved. (See UNESCO, IUCN (2022) World Heritage Glaciers: Sentinels of climate change. UNESCO: Paris and IUCN: Gland.

Forests are being chopped down more than ever! The period 2017 – 2021 saw more annual deforestation than any other prior annual rate, says the Forest Declaration Assessment: Are we on track for 2030? report. Forests are fundamental to regulating and stabilising the global climate. Meeting the Paris Agreement’s ambition of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5°C will require global greenhouse gas emissions to reach net-zero by the second half of this century. Eliminating deforestation by 2030 is a major milestone towards achieving the 2050 net zero target. The reports says that we are not on track to achieve the private sector goal to eliminate deforestation from agricultural supply chains by 2025. Commodity-driven tree cover loss declined by 6% in 2021 compared to previous years (2018-20), but deforestation rates are still higher than in any year before 2016 and are far from the trajectory (20% reduction per year) needed to reach the 2025 target. (See Forest Declaration Assessment (2022) Forest Declaration Assessment: Are we on track for 2030?.)

Fusion experiment generates more energy than was used to create the reaction!  The milestone took place at the US National Ignition Facility (NIF). The facility used its set of 192 lasers to deliver 2.05 megajoules of energy onto a pea-sized gold cylinder containing a frozen pellet of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium. The reaction released some 3.15 MJ of energy – roughly 54% more than went into it, and more than double the previous record of 1.3 MJ. However, do not get too excited. Steam turbine generation of electricity is Carnot cycle limited with efficiencies of around 40% and so commercial reactors will need to deliver well over three times the energy that went into them to be commercial. Some nuclear physicists think we will need an energy return factor of five or more. Further, while 2.05 MJ was delivered to the target releasing 3.15 MJ, a total of 322 MJ of energy was consumed to generate the lasers that delivered the 2.05 MJ. Sop while this was a landmark moment of sorts, we still have huge way to go.
          So, what's next? The US$22-billion ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) project – a collaboration between China, the European Union, the United Kingdom, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States – aims to achieve self-sustaining fusion, meaning that the energy from fusion produces more fusion. It uses a magnetic bottle, rather than NIF's lasers, to create a fusion plasma. ITER is currently looking for its experiments to start in 2035.
++++ Previous news items similar to above elsewhere on this site include:-
  - New US fusion achievement remarkable but commercial fusion still far
  - A new type fusion discovered with quarks (not whole atoms)
  - A fusion plasma of 100 million kelvin lasting up to 20 seconds

CERN reduces power due to Ukraine crisis. Now that Europe has cut gas imports from Russia due to the Ukraine crisis, CERN is reducing its energy consumption by 20% in 2023. CERN's flagship Large Hadron Collider has a 27 megawatt cooling system and then there are the magnets. CERN as a whole annually consume 1.3 terawatt hours a year and this compares to the city of Geneva's 3 terawatt hours. To achieve this reduction its colliders will have longer maintenance shutdowns. Other high energy-consuming physics establishments across Europe are also facing energy reductions for 2023.

Higgs boson generation's carbon footprint varies between colliders. An analysis of current and future Higgs boson factories (colliders designed to produce Higgs bosons) shows that their carbon footprints per Higgs boson generated varies considerably.  CERN's Large Hadron Collider first powered up in September 2008 and went on to detect the Higgs boson in the summer of 2012; a discovery that garnered François Englert (Belgium) and Peter W. Higgs (Great Britain) Nobels in 2013.  However while colliders use a lot of energy, the amount varies with collider.  Europe's CERN's forthcoming Future Circular Collider will use less than 0.25 tonnes of carbon equivalent to generate a Higgs boson compared to: China's proposed Circular Electron Positron Collider at over 2 tonnes; the US's Cool Copper Collider at over 6 tonnes; and Japan's International Linear Collider at over ten tonnes. (See Janot, P. & Blondel, A. (2022) European Physics Journal Plus, vol. 137, 1122.)

Dinosaur extinction asteroid generated a tidal wave over a kilometre high. Researchers have now modelled the likely impact of the 14-kilometre wide asteroid that hit the Earth 66 million years ago wiping out the dinosaurs.
          They conclude that 10 minutes after the impact, the wave was still over a kilometre high and had travelled 225 km (140 miles).
          Slowing as it spread, it was still half a kilometre tall one hour after impact and had travelled some 600km.  Four hours after impact it had travelled roughly a thousand miles, was 50 metres tall (but taller once it reached land) and was beginning to hit the coast of what is today the southern US coast.
          A day after impact, part of the wave front reached what is today eastern Australia and was up to 5 metres high in places. Meanwhile, the sea was still churning in the Gulf of Mexico next to the impact site.
          The researchers cross referenced their model results with geological core evidence. (See Range, M. M., et al (2022) The Chicxulub Impact Produced a Powerful Global Tsunami. AGU Advances, vol. 3, e2021AV000627.)  ++++ Related news covered elsewhere on this site includes:-
  - Remains of a second dinosaur asteroid discovered
  - The dinosaurs went extinct during the northern hemisphere spring around about tea time
  - Dinosaur poo reveals intact insects
  - The early dinosaurs laid soft eggs
  - Dinosaur's genetic evolution outlined from modern descendent species' genomes
  - Dinosaurs saw temperate rainforests near the South Pole
  - All modern birds are descendants of ground birds, dinosaur impact study concludes
  - Dinosaur extinction featured several years of a largely frozen Earth

The Anthropocene – Determining the place that defines it. When is the present? Well, most people would say now, but for palaeoclimatologists looking at ice cores and those in archaeology using carbon dating, the present is defined as 1950 as that is the year that atomic bomb testing released many radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere that were carried across the globe. The Anthropocene is proposed epoch in which humanity had a global environmental impact and around 1950 seems to be the date many agree should define its beginning. But which site in the geological record should define it? Currently, changes in radioactive carbon-14, nitrogen-15 and spheroidal carbonaceous particles (SCPs), which are a type of fly ash only produced by high-temperature combustion of coal or fuel oil, seem to be the characteristics that define the onset of the Anthropocene. But which site contains the best geological strata that defines this? The International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) have now a short-list of a dozen sites. When it is decided, the site's name is likely to determine the name of the 'age' that begins the Anthropocene 'epoch'. (See Waters, C,. N. & Turner, S. D. (2022) Defining the onset of the Anthropocene. Science, vol. 378, p706-8.)

The 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) ends with a deal, sort of. low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) came away from COP 27 (Conference of the Parties 27) with an agreement on a new ‘loss and damage’ fund to help them cover the costs of climate-change impacts. The final 10-page summary document says that limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels requires “rapid, deep and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” by 2030. But calls to phase out fossil fuels were blocked by oil-producing states. Finally, de-carbonising economies is happening at far too slow a rate to meet the 1.5°C.

 

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Spring 2023

Natural Science News

 

The two million year old Greenland ecosystem has been revealed through DNA. Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene epochs 3.6 to 0.8 million years ago had climates resembling those forecasted under future warming. The northern tip of Greenland around two million years ago had temperatures 11-19°C above temperatures there today. Because it is so cold there today, by the coast there is little snowfall that accumulates as ice and so researchers have direct access to the sediment by a cliff of sediment that has accrued over three million years. Sampling around the two million year mark, the researchers looked for DNA and identified the DNA of animal and plant species. The picture that emerges is that two million years ago, northern Greenland was an open boreal forest ecosystem with mixed vegetation of poplar, birch and thuja trees, as well as a variety of Arctic and boreal shrubs and herbs, many of which had not previously been detected at the site from macrofossil and pollen records. The DNA record confirms the presence of hare and mitochondrial DNA from animals including mastodons, reindeer, rodents and geese, all ancestral to their present-day and late Pleistocene relatives. The reconstructed ecosystem has no modern analogue. Their findings open new areas of genetic research, demonstrating that it is possible to track the ecology and evolution of biological communities from two million years ago using ancient environmental DNA. (See Ruter, A. H. et al (2022) A 2-million-year-old ecosystem in Greenland uncovered by environmental DNA. Nature, vol. 612, p283-291.)

Neanderthal genomes reveal family life and partnering customs. 11 Neanderthal genomes have been sequenced from the Chagyrskaya Cave, in the Altai Mountains in Asia, along 2 individuals from the nearby Okladnikov Cave. The genomes date from around 51,000 and 59,000 years Ago. They were related. There were members of a nuclear family: a father and his adolescent daughter. Also a male–female pair of second-degree relatives (those who share about 25% of their DNA). A male individual who was a maternal relative of the aforementioned father. The Chagyrskaya genomes, contain signs of inbreeding, in the form of long stretches of identical DNA inherited from each parent. This is likely the result more-numerous ancestors shared between parents, as a result of consistently small population sizes. What is not known is whether this level of inbreeding was a common predicament for Neanderthals, or a specific feature of Altai populations isolated at a geographical extreme: the easternward edge of the Neanderthal range. It seems as if here the women seem to have been frequently on the move between Neanderthal groups as revealed by comparing the diversity of mitochondrial DNA (inherited down the maternal line) and Y-chromosomes (inherited by males down the paternal line).  (See the review piece Cassidy, L. M. (2022) The first genomic portraitof a Neanderthal family. Nature, vol. 610, p454-5  and the primary research  Skov, L. et al (2022) Genetic insights into the social organisation of Neanderthals. Nature, vol. 610, p519-525.).
++++ Related news elsewhere on this site includes:
  - Denisovan, early humans, colonised more of Asia than previously thought
  - A cousin species to Neanderthals and modern human species has been discovered in China
  - How humans eat meat before fire has now been revealed
  - Mouth bacteria reveal ancient, humans had a cooked starch diet
  - Denisovan and Neanderthal Y chromosomes have been sequenced
  - Neanderthals and Denisovans diverged between 381,000 and 473,000 years ago
  - Modern humans on Flores exhibit dwarfing genes
  - Modern humans had seΧ with Neanderthals 100,000 years ago
  - Denisovan and Neanderthal DNA found in modern Icelander genomes
  - New early human species found - Homo luzonensis
  - Genomes show modern humans first left Africa thousands of years earlier
  - Modern humans diverged from primitive humans between 350,000 and 260,000 years ago
  - Iηcest abounds among Neolithic Irish ruling classes genomic research reveals
  - Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans
  - Early Britons had dark skin and blue eyes ancient DNA reveals
  - First stone age tools now 71,000 years not 40,000 years ago
  - First humans in Australia arrived 10,000 years earlier than thought

The Black Death in the 14th century left a genetic imprint that has modern day disadvanteges. Researchers have sequenced DNA from 406 people who lived in London or Denmark just before, during or after the Black Death. They show that there was a greater frequency of genes conferring resistance to Yersinia pestis, the bacterium causing the Black Death, in those living after the pandemic. The show that protective variants overlap with alleles that are today associated with increased susceptibility to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatism. The reason autoimmune disease related genes increased is probably because while the plague conferred a strong pressure (if you died of plague before you reproduced your gene line ended), having an autoimmune disease in later life did not confer an evolutionary pressure. So, if you are in your late fifties and are beginning to have aching bones, it might be that you need to blame the Black Death. (See  Klunk, J. et al (2022) Evolution of immune genes is associated with the Black Death. Nature, vol. 611, p312-9  and the review piece  Enard, D. (2022) Rapid natural selection during the Black Death. Nature, vol. 611, p237-8.)

16th century Baltic fishing impacted Herring genetics. A study of 40 old Herring DNA that span the period from 750AD to 1600AD provides genomic evidence of the earliest long-distance trade for this species, providing evidence for a longer exploitation history than previously understood. It shows that while the Oresund fishery (between Denmark, Sweden and Germany in the southern Baltic) had a negative impact on the western Baltic herring stock, the demographic shift to spring-spawning dominance did not occur until the 20th century. The early genomic shift has been attributed to fishing pressure as well also the Little Ice Age that saw more winter sea ice. (See Atmore, L. M. et al (2022) Population dynamics of Baltic herring since the Viking Age revealed by ancient DNA and genomics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 119, e2208703119.)

Global biome catalogue has been created. A 'biome' is simply an assemblage of ecosystems and examples include tropical rain forests, boreal conifer forests, or subtropical savanna grasslands. Yet while the Amazon rainforest looks very similar to the African tropical rainforest (tall, dense canopies of mostly evergreen, broadleaved trees with many vines and most of the nutrients locked up in plants, rather than in the soil), yet contain very different species. But we have no systematic catalogue of the Earth's biomes, until now, that is. The UN's International Union for Conservation of Nature has sponsored an international collaboration who have developed what is called the Global Ecosystem Typology. It has three main category levels: realm, biome and functional group. This new classification system identifies ten realms: four core realms (terrestrial, freshwater, marine and subterranean) and six interface realms that capture transitions between two core realms. These 10 realms are divided into 25 biomes, which are further subdivided into 110 functional groups that have more-subtle distinctions, driven by factors such as temperature, precipitation and seasonality. If politicians wish to have conservation goals they need to know what they are conserving. The catalogue enables a move away from the individual tracking of each of the approximately 9,000,000 species living on Earth and towards identifying common processes that allow us to better predict how a biome will be affected by humans, and how human benefits (termed ecosystem services) derive from different biomes. It should also enable a transfer of knowledge about successful management practices between locations within a biome. The building of biome inventories also furthers the goal of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity of conserving ecosystems. ( See McGill, B. J. & Miller, S. N. (2022) New catalogue of Earth’s ecosystems. Nature, vol. 610, p457-8  and the primary research  Keith, D. A. et al (2022) A function-based typology for Earth’s ecosystems. Nature, vol. 610, p p513-8.)

UN biodiversity deal aims to protect a third of the planet by 2030. The COP15 UN biodiversity summit in Montreal, Canada (not to be confused with the climate change COPs). The big question that remains is whether the funding will materialise to pay for it. Delivering funding for the climate change COPs agreements has been difficult ad here full funding has yet to be achieved.

 

…And finally this section, the season's SARS-CoV-2 / CoVID-19 science primary research and news roundup.

Africa imports more of the main CoVID-19 variants than exports. An analysis of over 100,000 viral genomes across the continent has revealed how CoVID has spread. To date, five variants of concern (VOC) have been classified by the World Health Organization; of these, two were first detected on the African continent (Beta and Omicron) and two (Alpha and Delta) have spread extensively on the continent in successive waves. The remaining VOC, Gamma, originated in Brazil and had a limited influence in Africa, with only four recorded sequenced cases. But Africa has seen more variant imported cases than exported. For example 102 BA.1 Omicron cases were imported from N. America and 69 f4rom Europe. In terms of cases going the other way, there were far less: 31 to Europe from Africa and 8 to N. America. (See Anon. (2022) Africa's pandemic revealed in 100,000 viral genomes. Nature, vol. 610, p237 for a clear take-home message summary or the opaquely written primary research, Tegally et al. (2022) The evolving SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in Africa: Insights from rapidly expanding genomic surveillance. Science, vol. 378, eabq5358 (2022).)

A Wisconsin office may be the source of the next SARS-CoV-2 variant after Omicron. Researchers have sampled Wisconsin sewage and had found a greatly changed new variant of SARS-CoV-2. They started taking samples from the main sewage plant and worked back through the system. They finally ended up at the offices of a firm with less than 30 employees. Over half gave permission and were tested for the virus. The new variant has three changes in the virus' spike protein identical to Omicron, eight different but the same as place on the site as Omicron, and four changes that are completely new from Omicron. Further, this new Wisconsin variant has evolved markedly between January and June (2022). (See Calloway, E. (2022) These Scientists Traced a New Coronavirus Lineage to One Office – Through Sewage. Nature, vol. 609, p883-885.)

There is likely to be a winter (2023) wave of CoVID-19. Various unrelated variants are continuing to exhibit similar mutations; this convergent evolution of variants has been seen before.  This is leading to 'immune evasion'. Therefore, it is quite possible that this winter wave will be as big as waves in 2021 and 2022. However, equally, it is very likely that mortality will not be as great due vaccination and hospital admissions, while they may increase, might perhaps be not as great. Much depends on booster take up this winter and roll out of the 50:50 original variant and omicron variant booster. (See Callaway, E. (2022) Will There Be a CoVID Winter Wave? What Scientists Say. Nature, vol. 610, p239-240.)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) list of key variants of concern now include among others:
  - Kent (scientifically called B.1.1.7) to be now known as Alpha
  - S. African (scientifically called B.1.351) to be now known as Beta
  - Brazilian (scientifically called P.1) to be now known as Gamma
  - Indian (scientifically called B.1.617) to be now known as Delta
  - Californian (scientifically called B.1.429, B.1.427 and CAL.20C) to be now known as Epsilon
  - Philippines (scientifically called P.3) to be now known as Theta
  - New York (scientifically called B.1.526) to be now known as Iota
  - Peru (scientifically called C.37) to be now known as Lambda
  - Colombia (scientifically called B.1.621) to be now known as Mu
  - S. Africa / Botswana (scientifically called B.1.1.529 with offshoots BA.1, BA.2, BA2.75 (unofficially Centaurus), BA.3, BA.4 and BA.5) to be now known as Omicron

Related SARS-CoV-2 / CoVID-19 news, previously covered elsewhere on this site, includes:-
  - Wuhan sea-food market was epicentre for SARS-CoV-2
  - How long are you infectious with CoVID?
  - Those with Omicron exhale very much more virus than the original CoVID variants
  - The 1918 flu pandemic saw different variants
  - CoVID mortality twice in less-developed countries than in developed
  - Genetic links to severe CoVID have been identified
  - Omicron easily re-infects people unlike other SARS-CoV-2 variants
  - The end of 2021 and first three months of 2022 saw Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 dominate in England
  - New SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant offshoots have been detected
  - Both the unvaccinated and vaccinated who have had the Omicron variant get limited protection against the Delta CoVID variant
  - The new variants have a greater chance of infecting the vaccinated
  - Centaurus is the new subvariant of SARS-CoV-2 sweeping India
  - The World Health Organisation (WHO) list of key variants of concern
  - Some non-symptomatic people shed SARS-CoV viruses 60 times more than others
  - India's CoVID death toll could be nearly ten times higher than officials say
  - CoVID changes the brain
  - Which vaccine is best, the Oxford-AstraZeneca or the Pfizer-BioNTech
  - How long do the Oxford-AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 or the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccines remain effective
  - The global death toll as of January 2022
  - The total global death toll revised
  - CoVID vaccines are very effective
  - Vaccines reduce the incidence of long-CoVID
  - Do we need an Omicron vaccine?
  - UK pattern of the Omicron infections becomes clear
  - Move over Omicron sub-strain BA.1, here comes BA.2
  - Why is Omicron so infective?
  - Deer can be a breeding ground for new variants
  - The risk of heart disease from CoVID vaccines is very, very small
  - The World Health Organisation (WHO) list of key variants of concern
  - Britain embarks on an experiment ditching mask wearing
  - Third shot vaccine booster approved in Israel
  - Broad SARS-CoV-2 variant vaccine has initial trials in Manchester, Great Britain
  - Delta variant characteristics
  - New York's Iota variant contains key mutations found in other variants
  - Could SARS-CoV-2 have had two intermediate animal sources?
  - The closest relative to SARS-CoV-2 has been found in bats in northern Laos
  - A consortium has been created to map the epitope landscape of the SARS-CoV-2 spike
  - Africa has become a reservoir for CoVID-19 variants
  - New Ο (Greek Omicron) variant arises in Botswana
  - Omicron variant properties begin to be seen
  - Artificial intelligence helps tell border staff who to test for CoVID
  - Asia has become the dominant source of CoVID related plastic waste in the oceans
  - We may not know when the SARS-CoV-2/CoVID-19 pandemic ends!
  - Will we have to face a wave of more than one variant?
  - A small outbreak of pig coronavirus has been discovered to have taken place in Haiti in 2014/5
  - Global fatalities top 4 million but could have exceeded 8 million!
  - Boris Johnson's CoVID 'Freedom day' – Scientists had grave fears
  - UK's third wave of CoVID-19 sees young affected more
  - WHO investigation too slow and unclear about pandemic onset
  - A SARS-like virus has been detected in a horseshoe bat suggesting a potential SARS-like pool
  - Do coronavirus genes merge with human chromosomes
  - WHO changes the common name nomenclature for SARS-CoV-2 variants for snowflakes
  - Kent (sorry 'Alpha') variant of SARS-CoV-2 more lethal
  - Kent (sorry 'Alpha') variant of SARS-CoV-2 more transmittable
  - Some convergent evolution is taking place with SARS-CoV-2 variants
  - California variant has simple mutation similar to India variant
  - Both Oxford-Astra-Zeneca and Pfizer vaccines effective against the Kent (sorry 'Alpha') variant
  - India Delta variant B.1.617 now dominant in that country
  - India Delta variant B.1.617 diverges to two further two sub-variants
  - Why is the India Delta variant B.1.617 so successful?
  - Do vaccines work against the India Delta variant?
  - Pfizer-BioNTec vaccine is effective against the South African Beta SARS-CoV-2 variant
  - Novavax vaccine is effective against the S. African SARS-CoV-2 Beta variant
  - Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is effective against the S. African SARS-CoV-2 Beta variant
  - WHO optimistic of vaccines to protect against current early-summer 2021 coronavirus variants
  - China's CoronaVac vaccine has been approved by WHO
  - ZyCoV-D is the first DNA vaccine against CoVID-19
  - Russia's Sputnik V (vaccine) may be safe, it is beginning to look
  - Can you mix vaccines?
  - The mRNA vaccines are safe for pregnant women
  - Breast feeding and SARS-CoV-2 / CoVID-19 vaccines
  - Engineered immunoglobulin antibody promises to be an effective treatment
  - Over 100,000 lives had been saved in England due to the NHS vaccine roll-out
  - Overseas holidays were behind the 2020 autumnal wave of CoVID
  - Face masks effectively limit the probability of SARS-CoV-2 transmission
  - Those with asymptomatic CoVID-19 express as many viruses
  - People who have had CoVID-19 probably only need just one shot of two-shot vaccines
  - Vaccine trials tend to miss seχ detail
  - Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 could be long-term
  - Long CoVID affects 38% of those who have had CoVID and more of those hospitalised
  - Long CoVID affects children
  - Lead vaccine scientist receives Albert Award
  - Pros and cons of single shot vaccine strategy
  - More is being learnt about the new SARS-CoV-2 mutations
  - What makes the B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant more transmissible?
  - China's Coronavac vaccine has a disappointing Brazil trial
  - The new Novavax vaccine has near 90% efficacy
  - Hospital worker study of the Pfizer vaccine shows strong results
  - Elderly protected by Pfizer BioNTech vaccine
  - Scottish phase IV trial reveals high vaccine effectiveness
  - Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is highly effective according to a US study
  - Britain's Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine seems to reduce, and possibly prevent, transmission
  - Pfizer vaccine may suppress transmission of SARS-CoV2
  - The US approves third vaccine
  - Fake Sputnik V vaccines received from Russia
  - Vaccines may reduce long-CoVID-19
  - The SARS-CoV-2 vaccine side effects are rare and minimal
  - European nations temporarily ban Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine
  - Is the planet heading for a second peak?
  - UK dexamethasone steroid treatment for CoVID-19 successful
  - Worry less about SARS-CoV2 contaminating surfaces; worry more about aerosol transmission
  - First vaccine deployed - BioNTech's BNT162b2
  - The Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine
  - The Janssen Ad26CoVS1 vaccine
  - The AstraZeneca Oxford ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine
  - Russian SARS-CoV-2 vaccine data is suspicious
  - Vaccine unknowns
  - Life will not return to normal in spring 2021
  - An alternative to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine
  - Synchronising lockdowns
  - Masks not only reduce viral load…
  - Racoon dogs can catch SARS-CoV-2
  - Pet dogs can catch SARS-CoV-2 off of owners
  - Minks can catch SARS-CoV-2 off of farm workers
  - A new variant of SARS-CoV-2 has emerged in the south-east of the UK
  - A second new variant
  - So, what is the situation with vaccines and the new strains?
  - Two viruses related to SARS-CoV-2 (not variants of SARS-CoV-2) have been discovered outside of China in horseshoe bats
  - The spikes from the SARS-CoV-2 virus have now been directly seen
  - No symptom transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is less significant than symptomatic
  - Kenya has a surprisingly low death toll for its infection rate
  - Those who have more Neanderthal genes are at greater risk of severe CoVID-19
  - Some people may be naturally immune to SARS-CoV-2 and so do not get severe CoVID-19
  - Why men are more prone to CoVID elucidated
  - Healthcare workers and their households are at greater risk from SARS-CoV-2
  - Restaurants are high risk places for the spread of SARS-CoV-2
  - Big data and a simple epidemic model estimates SARS-CoV-2/CoVID-19 transmission rates
  - Hydroxychloroquine use against SARS-CoV-2 does not work
  - CoVID-19 fatality risk factors confirmed
  - SARS-CoV-2 can be spread by aerosols
  - Review concludes that masks are necessary to reduce spread of SARS-CoV-2
  - Social distancing and school closures are key to lowering the spread of CoVID-19
  - Genomic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 reveals how the epidemic spread in New York, US
  - Cruise ship SARS-CoV-2 containment informs on the virus
  - The free market has failed to lay the groundwork for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine
  - A new, highly pathogenic, coronavirus has emerged in China
  - How Eastercon and Worldcon fandom survived CoVID-19 lockdown
  - SARS-CoV-2, CoVID-19 and the SF Community Briefing

 

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Spring 2023

Astronomy & Space Science News

 

Gamma ray burst theory challenged!  Gamma ray bursts (as distinct from fast radio bursts) come in two types: 'short' and 'long'. Short gamma ray bursts are thought to result from the merger of two neutron stars to form a black hole. Whereas long radio bursts are thought to result from a large star following a supernova collapsing to form a black hole.  Now four papers published in a December (2022) issue of Nature challenge this long-standing paradigm, by providing evidence of a long gamma-ray burst that seems to have been produced by the merger of a compact binary system to form single star. Having said that, there are still puzzling aspects to all this so expect further revelations from research. (See the review piece Piro, L. (2022) Strange flashes linked to stars merging, not dying. Nature, vol. 612, p213-4.)

Heavy metal barium detected in the upper atmosphere of an ultra-hot Jupiter exoplanet! observations taken with ESPRESSO at the Very Large Telescope detected Barium ions (Ba+) in an ultra hot Jupiter. The hot Jupiters WASP-76b and WASP-121b, with barium ions, are the first to have the heaviest species so far detected to date in any exoplanetary atmosphere. Both planets are inflated ultra-hot Jupiters on orbits with periods shorter than two days and equilibrium temperatures close to 2,500K. That Ba+ is detected in both of the studied planets may indicate that this heavy species can be common in the atmospheres of ultra-hot Jupiters. (See Silva, T. A. et al (2022) Detection of barium in the atmospheres of the ultra-hot gas giants WASP-76b and WASP-121b. Astronomy & Astrophysics, vol. 666, L10.)

Two potentially habitable planets have been detected around second-coolest star found to host planets.  The red dwarf LP 890-9 is 105 light years away. The inner habitable planet orbits its star in under three days and the outer one in a little over eight days. The two planets are in near 3:1 orbital resonance. Both have diameters about 1.3 the size of Earth's. The inner one is close enough to its star to be almost Venus like but might have escaped that fate. Both planets are likely to be near-tidally locked with their star. (The coolest star to host a planetary system is TRAPPIST-1.) (et al. (2022) Two temperate super-Earths transiting a nearby late-type M dwarf. Astronomy & Astrophysics, vol. 667, A59.) ++++  Related news previously covered elsewhere on this site includes:
  - There could be watery planets around red dwarf stars
  - First ever image of a multi-planet system around a Sun-like star captured
  - Giant planet pictured orbiting far from a twin star system   - The first exo-planet has possibly been detected outside of our Galaxy
  - How many alien worlds could detect our small rocky plant, the Earth?
  - A hot Jupiter's atmosphere reveals cooler origins
  - Another planet survives red giant death phase of a star
  - How many Solar system type planetary systems are there in our spiral arm? We may soon be finding out
  - Quiet star holds out prospect for life near Earth
  - European Space Agency's CHEOPS launched to study exoplanets
  - NASA's TESS finds exoplanet in habitable zone
  - NASA's TESS finds its first planet orbiting two suns
  - Two more twin sun planetary systems found
  - Rocky planets with the composition similar to Earth and Mars are common in the Galaxy a new type of analysis reveals
  - Water detected on an exo-planet large analogue of Earth
  - 2019 and the number of exoplanets discovered tops 4,000!
  - A new technique probes atmosphere of exoplanet
  - European satellite observatory mission to study exoplanet atmospheres
  - The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) to launch
  - Seven near Earth-sized planets found in one system
  - Most Earth-like planets may be water worlds
  - Earth's fate glimpsed
  - An Earth-like exo-planet has been detected
  - Exoplanet reflected light elucidated
  - Kepler has now detected over 1,000 exoplanets and one could be an Earth twin
  - and Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a cool star.
  - Winston Churchill wrote about the possibility of alien life: documents found

First known star map found and it is not Ptolemy's. The oldest known star map was by Claudius Ptolemy in Alexandria, Egypt, in the second century.  What has just happened is that a manuscript has been found at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, but originally came from the Greek Orthodox St Catherine's Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. This manuscript contained star coordinates in an idiosyncratic way that relates to an earlier time. These suggest that the author of whoever originally wrote the original source lived earlier. Also, due to orbital precession, the stars positions' were listed with such accuracy that the date this catalogue was made could be deduced as around 129BC. This around the time of Hipparchus of Nicea from whom some suggest may have been the originator of Claudius Ptolemy's star data.  (See the review  Marchant, J. (2022) First Known Map of Night Sky Found Hidden in Medieval Parchment. Nature, vol. 610, p613-4  and the primary research paper  Gysembergh, V. et al (2022) New evidence for Hipparchus’ Star Catalogue revealed by multispectral imaging. Journal for the History of Astronomy, vol. 53 (4), p383–393.)

A single star has three super-Earths – and two rare super-Mercuries. An unusual planetary system offers hints about the birth of planets with large iron cores and thin mantles. A star system containing two Mercury-like bodies could give clues to how small, dense planets form. Susana Barros at the University of Porto in Portugal and her colleagues studied tiny movements of the star HD 23472 that were caused by the gravitational pull of its planets. This allowed the team to infer the masses of the star’s five known planets, including the two innermost bodies, which seem to be smaller and lighter than Earth.  Combining their data with previous observations, the researchers estimated the five bodies’ compositions. They found that the inner two are likely to be heavier, denser versions of Mercury, with large iron cores; the outer planets, which have larger diameters than Earth, contain more water and gas. (See Barros, S. C. C. et al. (2022) HD 23472: a multi-planetary system with three super-Earths and two potential super-Mercuries? Astronomy & Astrophysics, vol. 665, A154.)

The Perseverance rover is under a third of the way to the delta in the Jezero crater and has taken samples of the crater floor. These will eventually -- it is hoped -- be returned to Earth. Purely from a visual observation, it seems that there are two main types of mineral at the site. The first is informally known as Máaz rock which is igneous and common across the crater (two samples of this have been taken -- see picture left). The second, informally known as Séítah rock, consists of 2- to 3-mm-diameter crystals of olivine, surrounded by pyroxene. (Olivine being minerals all consisting of silicate (SiO4) combined with the elements of either magnesium, (ferrous) iron, manganese or calcium or mixtures thereof. Pyroxine being various ferromangesian silicates.) The olivines are rimmed with magnesium-iron carbonate, likely produced by interaction with carbon dioxide-rich water. The crater was a lake billions of years ago. (See Farely, K. A., et al (2022) Aqueously altered igneous rocks sampled on the floor of Jezero crater, Mars. Science, vol. 377, eabo2196)
          It is likely to be the best part of a couple of years before the rover reaches the delta proper.

A meteor impact and its subsequent seismic waves has revealed the crustal structure of Mars. The previously reported InSight results have been confirmed. A large meteorite impact on Mars, as recorded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) InSight Mars lander and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which has been orbiting Mars since 2006, and present analysis of the detected surface waves produced by the meteorite impact that created a crater 150 metres across. The results have led to an updated crustal model of Mars that provides a better understanding of the formation and composition of the Martian crust and extends the current knowledge of the geodynamic evolution of Mars.  The collected body of wave data suggest that Mars has a layering structure similar to that of Earth, having a core radius of ~1,830 km, a mantle thickness of ~1,500 km, and a crust thickness of ~20 to 70 km.  (See the review Yang, Y. & Chen, X. (2022) A seismic meteor strike on Mars. Science, vol. 378, p360-1  and the primary research  Posiolova, L. V. et al (2022) Largest recent impact craters on Mars: Orbital imaging and surface seismic co-investigation. Science, vol. 378, p412–417  and  Kim, D. et al (2022) Surface waves and crustal structure on Mars. Science, vol. 378, p417–421.)

SHERLOC detects organic compounds on Mars! Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) is one of the analytical tools on the Perseverance rover that landed at Octavia Butler in Jezero crater, Mars, in February 2021. Organics have been detected on Mars before, for example by the Curiosity rover. But Curiosity rover looked at organics in mudstones whereas Perseverence's were in igneous rock. This implies a more complex relationship between Martian organics and Martian geology, The organics Perseverance's SHRLOC detected seem to be twin carbon ringed compounds like naphthalene as well as single ringed compounds similar to benzene. Such compounds have been found in Martian meteorites though it was possible that these Martian meteorites had been contaminated with Earth organics. Several explanations for the presence of Martian organics are possible, for example, infall of meteoritic material, in situ synthesis mechanisms, or, tantalisingly, a putative relic Martian biosphere! (See Scheller, E. L. et al (2022) Aqueous alteration processes in Jezero crater, Mars – implications for organic geochemistry. Science, vol. 378, p1,105–1,110.)

No hope for the world's largest radio telescope, Arecibo. It suffered a catastrophic structural failure in 2020 and almost immediately it was announced that it would be decommissioned. Despite much subsequent outcry by both the astronomy community and public, the National Science Foundation (NSF), which owns the site, has determined that despite pleas, the Arecibo Observatory won’t be getting any new telescope to replace the loss. There will, though, be a small education centre due to open in 2023.

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Spring 2023

Science & Science Fiction Interface

Real life science of SF-like tropes and SF impacts on society

 

One of the other Arthur C. Clarke Award 2022 winners have been announced.  We reported on this year's Arthur C. Clarke (book) Award above, yet there are other Clarke Awards of which the next most notable are the Clarke (space) Awards, but we don't seem to have been sent news of these since 2015. This new(?) Clarke Award is run by the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation in the US. The 2022 Clarke Award winners were:
          - Lifetime Achievement: Francis Collins ( former head Human Genome Project)
          - Service To Society: Cory Doctorow (SF author)
          - Innovator: Esther Dyson (internet policy)

Peanuts Snoopy has orbited the Moon. A toy Snoopy dressed in a mock pressure suit has been used as a zero-g indicator on the Artemis 1 mission. The toy is tethered in front of a camera within the Orion capsule. However, the doll was largely flown for the benefit of the public watching the launch on NASA’s television channel or website. Also on board were mannequins wrapped in many sensors as a major part of the unmanned mission is to check for human safety for the subsequent crewed missions. The capsule safely returned to the Earth. Humans last landed on the Moon on 11th December 1972, at 19:54 GMT. The Apollo 17 crew of Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent just over three days on the surface before coming home.

Borg DNA may be related with methane metabolism.  You may remember we reported on the new 'Borg' DNA over a year ago. Borg DNA are extrachromosomal elements (ECEs) are found in some archaea (simple prokaryotes that are cousins of bacteria). It has taken over a year for the research paper to get through peer review! Borg DNA are called such as they seem to 'assimilate' DNA from other prokaryotes, incorporating them in the Borg DNA, much like the hive alien species the Bork in Star Trek: The Next Generation. This assimilation gives the prokaryote as a whole the ability to process methane that it would not otherwise have. The researchers have identified at least 19 different Borg types coexisting with Methanoperedens spp. in four distinct ecosystems. It might be that this discovery might be used to modify methane release from wet lands? Though this last is currently a tentative musing… for now. (See Al-Shayeb, B. et al (2022) Borgs are giant genetic elements with potential to expand metabolic capacity. Nature, vol. 610, p731-6  and the review piece  Rhinke, C. (2022) Mystery find of microbial DNA elements called Borgs. Nature, vol. 610, p635-6.)

Dimorphos asteroid successfully hit by probe in asteroid deflection experiment.  Reminiscent of the Bruce Willis film Armageddon, the aim of the experiment was to see if an asteroid's trajectory could be altered: Asteroids have impacted the Earth in the past and are a source of worry.  In September, the 160m-wide (one tenth of a mile) asteroid Dimorphos was hit by the DART probe (launched autumn 2021). The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) hit the asteroid at 13,000 miles per hour (22,000km/h). Astronomical surveys have identified more than 95% of the large asteroids that could cause a global extinction were they to hit the Earth (they will not, their paths have been calculated and they won't come near the Earth), this still leaves many so-far undetected smaller objects that could be locally if not regionally disastrous if they impacted with us. Were Dimorphus on course with the Earth and impacted, result in a crater perhaps two-thirds of a mile (about 1km) across and a couple of hundred metres deep. Instead it orbits the much larger, half mile diameter (780m), Didymos asteroid which was unaffected by the DART experiment. The impact only affects Dimorphos , slowing it, so making it fall into a tighter and, ironically faster, orbit about Didymos. Dimorphos' orbital period was 11 hours and 55 minutes and this was changed by the impact to 11 hours and 23 minutes – a change of 32 minutes.

Stanislaw Lem's Solaris has become a model for Gaian evolution. The Earth's biosphere consists of many sub-systems such as tropical rain forest biomes and peri-Arctic boreal land. These subsystems also undertake what is called ecosystem function such as the storage of carbon, management of water flow and so forth. Gaia theory has it that systems work together to provide stable states for the biosphere (such as creating greenhouse levels for either a glacial or interglacial planetary mode). A paper, 'Gaia as Solaris: An Alternative Default Evolutionary Trajectory', in the journal Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres has just been published that suggests that ultimately all these sub-systems could become so closely integrated that they effectively become a super-organism. The researchers say: 'The blueprint for a possible outcome of this scenario has been masterfully provided by the great Polish novelist Stanislaw Lem in his 1961 novel Solaris. In fact, Solaris offers such a persuasive and powerful case for an “extremely strong” Gaia hypothesis that it is, arguably, high time to investigate it in a discursive astrobiological and philosophical context.'. (See Jankovic, S., Katic, A. & Cirkovic, M.M. (2022) Gaia as Solaris: An Alternative Default Evolutionary Trajectory. Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, vol 52, p129-147.)

Do you speak extra-terrestrial? Research hub considers response to life beyond Earth. What does humanity do when we discover we are not alone in the cosmos? A new international research hub at the University of St Andrews will coordinate global expertise to prepare humanity for such an event and how we should respond. While we might never learn about the existence of life beyond Earth, or even about another intelligent civilisation, there’s a chance it could be detected sooner rather than later. But are we prepared?
          The new SETI Post-Detection Hub, hosted by the Centre for Exoplanet Science and the Centre for Global Law and Governance of the University of St Andrews, will act as a coordinating centre for an international effort bringing together diverse expertise across both the sciences and the humanities for setting out impact assessments, protocols, procedures, and treaties designed to enable a responsible response.
          There are now procedures and entities established with the United Nations for dealing with the threat posed by impacts of asteroids on Earth, but there is nothing similar in place for picking up a radio signal from E.T.
          Currently, the only existing agreed ‘contact’ protocols are those drawn up by the SETI community itself in 1989, which were last revised in 2010. Focusing entirely on general scientific conduct, they constitute non-enforceable aspirations and fall short of being useful for managing in practice the full process of searching, handling candidate evidence, confirmation of detections, post-detection analysis and interpretation, and potential response.
          The SETI Post-Detection Hub for the first time provides a permanent ‘home’ for coordinating the development of a fully comprehensive framework, drawing together interested members of the SETI and wider academic communities as well as policy experts to work on topics ranging from message decipherment and data analytics to the development of regulatory protocols, space law, and societal impact strategies.

Space Solar power is now cheap enough that ESA is considering a demonstration project. When this SFnal tech was last investigated in the 1970s, the cost of a space Solar power station was estimated to be about US$1 trillion. Since then costs have tumbled. Costs of photovoltaic cells have dropped by around 25% the past decade alone. More importantly, launch costs have become far more economic. A solar power satellite big enough to replace a typical nuclear or coal-powered station will need to be kilometres across, demanding hundreds of launches. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket takes cargo to orbit at about US$2,600 per kilogram – less than 5% of what it cost on the Space Shuttle – and the company promises rates of just US$10 per kilogram on its Starship launcher, due for its first launch this year. Finally, If space solar can achieve 20% efficiency converting light to energy, it might compete with existing energy sources? Microwave beaming also needs to be at more that 75% efficient: 90% would be good.  In November (2023, ESA will ask member states to fund an assessment of whether the technical hurdles can be overcome. If it seems promising, the ESA will develop plans for a full effort in 2025. Armed with €15 billion to €20 billion, and could put a megawatt-scale demonstration facility in orbit by 2030 and scale up to gigawatts – the equivalent of a conventional power station – by 2040.  (See Clery, D. (2022) Has a new dawn arrived for space-based solar power? Science, vol. 378, p238-9.)

Near-extinction events are a trope of SF. Of the real near-extinction threats, supervolcanic eruptions are with asteroid impact at the top of the list along with asteroid impact, and followed by climate change and nuclear war. Research now shows that the quiescent Yellowstone supervolcano, Wyoming, US, is closer to eruption than previously thought. It has had three super-eruptions in the past 2.1 million years, the most recent of which happened 640,000 years ago which means that one is due any time now – geologically speaking – over the next few thousand years. Past surveys suggested that the magma chamber beneath Yellowstone was at a fair depth. However, researchers have pooled past data gathered over 20 years, to refine the imagery. This has revealed that the magma chamber is at a depth of between three and eight kilometres. That’s shallower than some preceding estimates of the magma chamber’s depth, but consistent with the depth from which previous eruptions began. (See Maguire, R. et al (2022) Magma accumulation at depths of prior rhyolite storage beneath Yellowstone Caldera. Science, vol. 378, pp. 1,001-1,004.)

Science deniers know less as to what really causes cancer compared to the rest of us. Over 350 fictional science believers (flat Earthers, CoVID vaccine refusers, political leaders are reptilian believers and the like) were surveyed as well as those with conventional beliefs. Awareness of the actual and mythical causes of cancer among the unvaccinated, alternative medicine, and conspiracy groups was found to be lower than among their counterparts. Awareness of causes of cancer was poor, especially among people who rejected the CoVID-19 vaccine, preferred alternative medicine, or endorsed flat earth or reptilian conspiracies. This suggests a direct connection between digital misinformation and potential erroneous health decisions, which may represent a further preventable fraction of cancer. (See Paytubi, S. et al (2022) Does everything cause cancer? British medical Journal, vol. 379, e072561.)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) passes radiologists' exams! Five British-based clinical researches decided to find out whether an artificial intelligence candidate could pass the rapid (radiographic) reporting component of the Fellowship of the Royal College of Radiologists (FRCR) examination?
          The artificial intelligence candidate was a commercially available tool called Smarturgences v1.17.0, developed by a French artificial intelligence company called Milvueand marketed since February 2020. The tool has been awarded Conformite Europeenne certification under the Medical Devices Directive and registered as a class 2a medical device.8 It is used in more than 10 institutions across Europe as part of clinical care, although not currently in the UK. The artificial intelligence model had been trained on a multicentric dataset of more than 600,000 chest and musculoskeletal radiographs to detect seven key pathologies (fracture, pleural effusion, lung opacification, joint effusion, lung nodules, pneumothorax, and joint dislocation). The AI was pitted against radiologists who had recently passed the Royal College of Radiologists exam.
          Long story short: The AI candidate was able to pass two of the 10 mock examinations and overall sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy rates were high for images that the AI could interpret at 83.6%, 75.2%, and 79.5% respectively. Summary estimates across 26 radiologist readers were 84.1%, 87.3%, and 84.8%, respectively.
          In 2016 Geoffrey Hinton, winner of the Turing award and considered one of the godfathers of deep learning, proclaimed: “We should stop training radiologists now. It’s just completely obvious that within five years, deep learning is going to do better than radiologists.” We are now five years past this seminal statement, so the time was ripe to put artificial intelligence to the test and see if it is ready to graduate? On this occasion, the artificial intelligence candidate was unable to pass any of the 10 mock examinations when marked against similarly strict criteria to its human counterparts, but it could pass two of the mock examinations if special dispensation was made by the Royal College of Radiologists to exclude images that it had not been trained on. It therefore seems that only sufficient training is holding back AI from taking over from human radiologists. (See Shelmerdine, S. C. et al (2022) Can artificial intelligence pass the Fellowship of the Royal College of Radiologists examination? Multi-reader diagnostic accuracy study. British Medical Journal, vol. 379, e072826)

Artificial Intelligence produced artwork cannot be copyrighted says the US Copyright Office. In September, Kris Kashtanova announced that they had received a U.S. copyright on his comic book Zarya of the Dawn which had artwork generated by the artificial intelligence (A.I.) Midjourney. Then in December the US Copyright Office reversed that decision. It stated that s copyrighted works must be created by humans to gain official copyright protection. All of which begs the question as to the status of graphic novels' human generated text…?
          As to how AI and copyright will apply in Britain, perhaps we need a Select Committee inquiry?

British Members of Parliament to examine artificial intelligence. The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee launches an inquiry into the governance of artificial intelligence (AI). In July, the UK Government set out its emerging thinking on how it would regulate the use of AI. It is expected to publish proposals in a White Paper later this year, which the Committee would examine in its inquiry.
          Used to spot patterns in large datasets, make predictions, and automate processes, AI's role in the UK economy and society is growing. However, there are concerns around its use. MPs will examine the potential impacts of biased algorithms in the public and private sectors. A lack of transparency on how AI is applied and how automated decisions can be challenged will also be investigated.
          In the inquiry, MPs will explore how risks posed to the public by the improper use of AI should be addressed, and how the Government can ensure AI is used in an ethical and responsible way. The Committee seeks evidence on the current governance of AI, whether the Government's proposed approach is the right one, and how their plans compare with other countries.

Robots may kill “San Francisco's police rule… and then backtrack... Members of the US city’s Board of Supervisors Rules Committee have been reviewing the new equipment policy. The original version of the draft didn’t include any language surrounding robots’ use of deadly force until Aaron Peskin, the Dean of the city’s Board of Supervisors, initially added that “robots shall not be used as a Use of Force against any person. However, the San Francisco Police Department returned the draft with a red line crossing out Peskin’s addition, replacing it with the line that gives robots the authority to kill suspects. Apparently 'there could be scenarios where deployment of lethal force was the only option.'  However, following widespread criticism, barely two weeks later, it reversed its decision.

Robot falcons prevent plane damage and crashes.  Collisions between birds and airplanes can damage aircrafts, resulting in delays and cancellation of flights, costing the international civil aviation industry more than US$1.4 billion annually. Driving away birds is therefore crucial, but the effectiveness of current deterrence methods is limited. Live bird predators can be an effective deterrent, scaring other birds. RobotFalcon, a device modelled after the peregrine falcon, has been developed and tested to deter flocks of corvids, gulls, starlings and lapwings. Researchers compared its effectiveness with that of a drone, and of conventional methods routinely applied at a military airbase. The RobotFalcon scared away bird flocks from fields immediately, and these fields subsequently remained free of bird flocks for hours. The RobotFalcon outperformed the drone and the best other conventional methods such as playing recordings of predator calls. The RobotFalcon is a practical and ethical solution to drive away bird flocks with all advantages of live predators but without their limitations. (See Storms, R. F. et al (2022) Deterrence of birds with an artificial predator, the RobotFalcon. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, vol. 19, 20220497.)

A traversable wormhole has been successfully simulated and a message sent through it. Wormholes are a trope in SF with examples including the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the TV series Sliders and the Spin novels by Robert Charles Wilson. But first, some science background…
          One exploration of quantum gravity in 1978 showed that string theory c an provide lower dimensional description in which gravity emerges from it in what would now be called a holographic way. This is to say that a 3D object (such as the Universe) can be expressed on a 2D surface (the surface of the Universe). This is known as the holographic principle the universe is really a hologram with the information of its contents "inscribed" on the surface of its boundary. This theory arose out of an attempt to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity: a quest that has yet to be resolved, clearly one or other or both will need modifying/refining. Using the holographic principle, the entanglement can be mathematically equivalent to a wormhole between two points.
          With quantum gravity a wormhole between two points and the quantum entanglement of two particles have a mathematical equivalence when calculated as a holographic duel. Quantum computing can do this. So Daniel Jafferis and colleagues from Harvard have done this to simulate a wormhole. Further, they have successfully sent a message through the wormhole.
          Now, do not get excited, this is not faster-than-light communication as the one quantum computer is simulating both ends of the wormhole at the same time: Einstein is safe (for now). However, this research is proof of principle and will lead to other quantum gravity simulations that might provide an insight as to the nature of space-time. (See Jafferis, D. et al (2022) Traversable wormhole dynamics on a quantum processor. Nature, vol. 612, p51-55  and  Brown, A. R. & Susskind, L. (2022) A holographic wormhole in a quantum computer. Nature, vol. 612, p41-2.)

 

And to finally round off the Science & SF Interface subsection, here are some short videos…

What If Humanity Is Among The First Space-faring Civilisations?.  Half of the universe is filled with expansionist alien civilisations, and it’s only a matter of time before they’ll reach us. OK, that sounded a little sensationalist says PBS Space Time. But it’s also the conclusion of a recent astrophysics paper. Let’s see how they figure this, and whether we should take it seriously…  It concludes that about half of the universe is filled with expansionist alien civilisations, and it’s only a matter of time before they’ll reach us… Further, because we do not see / hear astronomical signs of them, their rate of expansion must be fast: at least a significant fraction of the speed of light. (If it were slow we would literally see them coming: see the techno signatures around stars getting closer.)  Warning: this is something of a rabbit hole, but it is a mathematical logical one. However, it ignores biology and openly makes a number of assumptions about grabby aliens which are highly debateable. Nonetheless, it is interest, just don't easily buy into the conclusions.  You can see this 20-minute video here.

Size comparison: the moons of Neptune and Uranus compared with London and Europe. This rather neat, alternate perspective video imagines the moons of Neptune and Uranus in increasing size, resting by London. Towards the end there is a little SFnal Easter egg. You can see the 5 minute video here.

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Spring 2023

Rest In Peace

The last season saw the science and science fiction communities sadly lose…

 

Martin Barker, the British media academic, has died aged 76. He studied racism, and portrayals thereof, in comics including 200AD. In the 1990s and 2000s he focused on film and television audiences especially of fantasy productions: Lord of the Rings and The Game of Thrones.

Margaret Basta, the US fan, has died aged 69. She was one of the first Star Trek fans and co-founded the Star Trek Association for Revival (S.T.A.R.) fan club.

Greg Bear, the US author, has died aged 71. He was a past president of the SFWA, one of the San Diego Comic-Con founders, helped in the establishment of the US Science Fiction Museum and the winner of five Nebula Awards and two Hugo Awards. He is possibly best known for his novel Blood Music (1985) which was short-listed for a Hugo. This novel was a development of a short story (1983) of the same title that appeared in Analog which did win a Hugo for 'Best Novelette'. His other novels include: Legacy (1995); Vitals: Never Say Die (2002); Dead Lines (2004); City at the End of Time (2008); Hull Zero Three (2010); War Dogs (2014) and Killing Titan (2015). He has also edited anthologies including a couple editions of the Nebula Awards Showcase. He was a guest of honour at the 2001 Worldcon, Millennium Philcon.   ++++ See our interview with Greg bear here.

Gabrielle Beaumont, the British film director, has died aged 80. Her directing credits include episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She became the first woman to direct an episode of Star Trek with the episode "Booby Trap".

Dame Valerie Beral, the Australian-born British epidemiologist, has died aged 76 back in August (we did not learn of this sad news in time for last season's news).  She worked on monitoring the safety of the pill and then moved on to see whether the pill would help protect against breast cancer. Subsequent work included the effects of radiation, breast cancer trials and screening, AIDS, gene therapy, Hiroshima survivors, Chernobyl, food toxins, among much else. The British Medical Journal described her CV like reading "a checklist of the epidemiological causes célebres of the past three decades". She kept close links with Australia but "could not imagine returning to live there". Aside from concerns that Australia would hold little for her partner, she joked that: "The population's too small!" to satisfy her needs as an epidemiologist.

John Bird , the British comic and actor, has died aged 86. He was well known for his work in political satirical TV shows, particularly his many appearances opposite John Fortune. His principal genre contribution was playing a character in the film Jabberwocky.

Kathleen Booth, the British computer scientist and mathematician, has died aged 100. She is known for writing wrote the first assembly language and designed the assembler and autocode for the first computer systems at Birkbeck College, University of London. She helped design three computers including the ARC (Automatic Relay Calculator), SEC (Simple Electronic Computer), and APE(X)C. She co-founded the School of Computer Science and Information Systems in 1957 at Birkbeck College along with husband Andrew Booth and J.C. Jennings. She and her husband moved to Canada to work at the University of Saskatchewan and then at Lakehead University in 1972 retiring in 1978.

Chris Boucher, the British , has died aged 79. British television screenwriter, script editor and novelist. He is known for his frequent contributions to two genres, science fiction and crime fiction, and worked on the series Doctor Who, Blake's 7 (its script editor for all 52 episodes and script writer for nine) and Star Cops. This last he created. He is particularly noted for having created the Doctor Who companion Leela (played by Louise Jameson). He was the last surviving Doctor Who scriptwriter from prior to the 1980s and also wrote four Doctor Who novels.

Justin Busch, the US fan, has died. He is the author of The Utopian Vision of H. G. Wells (2009).

James Caan, the US actor, has died aged 82. His genre films included: Countdown (1968), Rollerball (1975), Alien Nation (1988), Dick Tracy (1990), Eraser (1996) and Get Smart (2008). He won a Saturn Award for 'Best Actor' due to his starring role of Jonathan E. in Rollerball (1975).

Ellen Caswell, the US fan, has died aged 69. She was a long-time member of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society (PRSFS) who newsletter she edited between 1986 and 1988.

Brian Catling, the English sculptor, poet, novelist, film maker and performance artist, has died aged 74. His novels included the magic-realist 'Vorrh’ trilogy and The Hollow (2021).

Tom Chmielewski, the US author, has died aged 70. His novels include Lunar Dust, Martian Sands (2014) and The Silent Siege of Mars (2019).

Robbie Coltraine OBE, the British comedian and actor, has died aged 72. He regularly appeared in the The Comic Strip Presents (1982–2012) series and was part of the sketch series Alfresco (1983–1984). He is known for his appearances in The Young Ones(1987) and as Samuel Johnson in Blackadder the Third (1987) and was the spirit of Christmas in Blackadder's Christmas Carol but most for starring as the world-weary and troubled, police-assisting psychologist Edward 'Fitz' Fitzgerald in the series Cracker (1993–1996). Of genre note, he appeared in the James Bond technothrillers GoldenEye (1995) and The World Is Not Enough (1999) as well as the half-giant Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter fantasy films (2001–2011).  He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2006 New Year Honours for his services to drama. In 2011, he was honoured for his "Outstanding Contribution to Film" at the British Academy Scotland Awards ("BAFTA Scotland Awards").

Walter Cunningham , the US astronaut, has died aged 90. He flew on Apollo 7. He was also an outspoken denier of human-caused climate change.

Suzy McKee Charnas, the US author, has died aged 83. Her first book was Walk to the End of the World (1974) that won a retrospective Otherwise Award. Her novella “Unicorn Tapestry” (1980) won a Nebula while her short story “Boobs” (1989) won the Hugo Award. A selection of her short fiction is collected in Stagestruck Vampires and Other Phantasms (2004). She obtained a degree in history and economics which undoubtedly served her S which had a sociological focus. Her novel Motherlines (1978) was notable rejected multiple times for not having any male characters. It was finally accepted by David G. Hartwell. It later won a 1996 Retrospective James Tiptree Jr. Award.

Chandler Davis, the American-Canadian mathematician, writer, educator, political activist and SF fan, has died aged 96. In mathematics, his name is associated with the Davis–Kahan theorem and Bhatia–Davis inequality. In the 1950s, he refused to participate in the House Unamerican Activities Committee and was sentenced to 6 months in prison and was sacked from the University of Michigan. While in prison he worked on mathematics and a research paper from the time carries the acknowledgement: "Research supported in part by the Federal Prison System. Opinions expressed in this paper are the author's and are not necessarily those of the Bureau of Prisons." Of genre note he was a fan active in Boston’s 1940s Stranger Club as well as an author of SF short stories. His fanzine appearing in the 1940s was Blitherings. Following his prison sentence he relocated to Canada and the University of Toronto. He was the Science Guest of Honour at the 2013 SFContario convention.

Jean-Luc Godard, the French director, has died aged 91. He is generally known for being a leading light in the French New Wave. In genre terms he is best known for his noir film Alphaville (1965) concerning a detective who is sent into a city controlled by a giant computer named Alpha 60. His mission is to make contact with Professor von Braun (Howard Vernon), a famous scientist who has fallen mysteriously silent, and is believed to be suppressed by the computer. Alpha 60 has outlawed free thought and individualist concepts like love, poetry, and emotion in the city, replacing them with contradictory concepts or eliminating them altogether. One of Alpha 60's dictates is that "people should not ask 'why', but only say 'because'". People who show signs of emotion are presumed to be acting illogically and are gathered up, interrogated, and executed. In an image reminiscent of George Orwell's concept of Newspeak, there is a dictionary in every hotel room that is continuously updated when words that are deemed to evoke emotion become banned.  The film won the Golden Bear award of the 15th Berlin International Film Festival in 1965. •Episode 21 of season 1 of Star Trek: The Original Series, 'The Return of the Archons' (1967) refers to Alphaville and 'Alphaville' is mentioned in the first chapter of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.

Stephen Greif, the British actor, has died aged 78. In genre terms he was best known for being the first actor to play Travis in Blake's 7. (He was replaced in the second series onwards by Brian Croucher.) He reprised the role voicing Travis in 11 new audio stories of Blake's 7 for Big Finish Productions. He also voiced Raymond Maarloeve in the video game The Witcher. In the theatre he played The President and John Faa in the play of His Dark Materials.

Stephan Grundy, the US fantasy author, has died aged 54. He is noted for fantasy novels based on European mythology. He has a doctorate from the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic of Cambridge University.

Mike Hodges, the British film director, has died aged 90. His films include The Terminal Man (1974) adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel and the space opera Flash Gordon (1980). He also wrote the screenplay for Damien: Omen II (1977).

Dame Angela Lansbury, the British born US actress, has died aged 96. Though best known for playing an author turned detective, her long-lasting career has seen he feature in a number of genre productions including The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971).

Bruno Latour, the French philosopher and anthropologist, has died aged 75. His noted books include: Laboratory Life (1979), Science in Action (1987) and We Have Never Been Modern (1991). He maintained that scientists do not strictly adhere to the scientific method and that laboratory experiments involve a social construct of the researchers. His later work rejected the notion of there being a modern era and he used the term nonmodernism (or amodernism) over postmodernism.

Jim McDivitt, the US astronaut, has died aged 93.  He piloted Gemini 4 (1965), a mission that saw the first time the U.S. perform a spacewalk and which was a then record long, four-day, mission.  He commanded Apollo 9 (1969).  He became manager of Lunar Landing Operations in 1969 and then quickly manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Programme. He was the programme manager for Apollo missions 12-16.

Robert Madle, the US fan and SF bookdealer, has died aged 102. Known for his fanzine Fantascience Digest in the 1930s and '40s.  He was the first US TAFF delegate in 1957 and one of the few N. Americans to be made a Knight of St Fanthony. He won a Worldcon Big Heart Award in1974. He is credited with naming the Worldcon Award for 'SF achievement' the 'Hugo Award'. He was the last surviving member of the first (what would be come to be known as) Worldcon in1939.

Dame Hilary Mantel, the English author, has died aged 70. She is noted for her well-researched, historical fiction. She won the Booker Prize twice: the first was for Wolf Hall (2009), a fictional account of Thomas Cromwell's rise to power in the court of Henry VIII, and the second was for its 2012 sequel Bring Up the Bodies. The third instalment of the Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, made the Booker long-list. Some of her other novels included fantastical elements such as Fludd (1989) and Beyond Black (2005).

Matthew Mather, the English-borne Canadian SF author, has died aged 52 in a car crash. His novels were mainly technothrillers and included Darknet and the 'Atopia' trilogy.

Richard Miller, the American sculptor and visual effects artist, has died aged 80. He worked on such films as Star Trek: First Contact, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Rocketeer. He created Princess Leia's bikini in Star Wars.

Paula Helm Murray, the US fan and fantasy author, has died aged 66. She belonged to Kansas City fandom. She also wrote fantasy short stories. She was a guest at: Archon 27 (2003), Conestoga 9 (2005) and SFContario 5 (2014).

Kevin O'Neill, the British comics artist, has died aged 69. His career began with IPC and a stint on comics such as Buster. He had a solid spell with 2000AD and was the first to draw an image of Tharg. He was 2000AD's first art editor up to 1978. Fed up with erasing artists' signatures from comic strips, he introduced strips' credit cards (citing writer, artist and letterer) from Prog 36. It was the first time such had happened in UK comics and now other publishers could see who produced what and so could approach writers and artists directly. This is how a number of 2000AD contributors came to do occasional work for DC and Marvel.  He himself created Bat-Mite with fellow 2000AD staffer Alan Grant for DC Comics.  At 2000AD he worked on: Nemesis the Warlock (co-creating with Pat Mills), Ro-Busters; various Future Shocks; three Judge Dredds; and ABC Warriors: The Meknificent Seven. His other cooperative work with Pat Mils included on Marshall Law and Metalzoic. He also partnered with comics writer Alan Moore on Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual (of which one 1986 Green Lantern was banned by the Comics Code Authority) and all four The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series (not to be confused with the dire film very, very loosely based on the first graphic novel).  His 2000AD short strip "Shok!" (with writer Steve MacManus) had its plot illegally used by the 1990 film Hardware and a court ruled that the two should be credited.  He has won three Harvey Awards, two Eisners, an Eagle and a Stoker.

Radell F. (Ray) Nelson , the US author and fan artist, has died aged 91. He is perhaps most notable for having his short story 'Eight O'Clock in the Morning' (1963) becoming the basis for the film They Live (1988). Among fandom he is most famous for having invented the propeller beanie which in fan cartooning was traditionally emblematic of the SF fan. His first novel was co-authored with Philip K. Dick, The Ganymede Takeover (1967). His possibly most successful works were the novels Then Beggars Could Ride (1976) and its sequel, The Revolt of the Unemployables (1978), concern an ecological Utopia. He was inducted to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2019.

Charles Partington, the British SF fan and writer, has died aged 82.  Much, if not all, of Chuck's adult life was in part SFnally related and much with his life-long friend from his school days Harry Nadler who was also his business partner for most of his life. He, Harry, Anthony (Tony) Edwards, Bill Burns, among others, were members of the Delta SF Group that made spoof SF films (occasionally with SF notables such as Harry Harrison and occasionally fans from Liverpool such as Ina Shorrock). Delta SF members, including Chuck, were also a mainstay of MaD SF, the Manchester & District SF Society (not to be confused with BaD SF down the A666 Devil's highway in Bolton): in many of its heyday years (1970s and '80s) MaD met fortnightly at the Crown & Anchor near Piccadilly Gardens station and meetings continued into the 2000s with Chuck invariably in attendance.  Chuck, along with the afore fans mentioned, were also Knights of St Fanthony: a group of fans who would help introduce new SF aficionados into fandom and generally support good causes. For example, Chuck and Harry were responsible for printing the Ken Bulmer Bibliography for BECCON Publications, as well as printing the first edition (1987) of this zine, the SF² Concatenation back in its pre-online digital days: we have always been appreciative that British Eastercon, a convention they regularly attended from the 1960s to '90s.  With Harry, Charles was on the committee of three Eastercons and so was known for his national-level fanac.  Arguably, his serious fanac began with Harry Nadler and Tony Edwards when they produced the fanzine Alien between 1963 – '65. This evolved over three issues into the, sadly short-lived, semi-prozine Alien Worlds (1965).  Charles' own semi-prozine, irregularly produced in the 1970s and 1980s, was literally Something Else.  With high production values, despite it being the pre-desktop era, and paying its contributors, Something Else attracted some high profile writers including Michael Moorcock with whom he had a friendship over many decades.  In 1976, with Dave Britton and Mike Butterworth, he co-founded the Savoy Books publishing house which lasted over three decades and which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2006. It too attracted high-calibre writers, some of whose output was considered by the major publishing houses as non-commercial. These writers included the likes of Samuel Delany, Harlan Ellison and Charles Platt. Savoy was infamously subject to censorship and notably for the very dark, humorous, satirical and pοrnοgraphic Lord Horror (1989) which landed one of its editors (not Charles) a brief time in jail.  Various Manchester-based folk associated with Savoy, including Charles, were involved on and off in the magazine New Worlds no.213-215 between 1978 to 1979.  Harry and Charles business for many years was the Manchester Print Centre based in a basement of the Corn Exchange. This commercially viable venture enabled it on the side to produce a number of SF conventions' progress reports, programme booklets and promotional leaflets.  In the 1980s, at the very start of the software games industry era, while keeping the Print Centre, the pair created Red Rat Software that devised and published approximately thirty 8-bit, 16-bit and IBM PC compatible computer games, some of which were genre-related. Its games included a Tilt d'Ore prize in 1992 for 'Best Puzzle Game'.  Harry Nadler, as is well known in British SF film fandom, went on to establish the Festival of Fantastic Films which was a thriving convention up to Harry's passing in 2002. Albeit much reduced, such was the momentum the Fest gathered that it has continued to the present day (see our convention reviews link list for past Fest con reports) and Charles could always be found at it in the bar chatting to old friends right up to the late 2010s.  Charles also wrote stories beginning with 'The Manterville Inheritance' in the anthology Dark Things (1971) edited by August Derleth. Others appeared in editions of the New Writings in SF anthology series edited by Ken Bulmer. His only novel was the young adult book Winter Hill (2015). This was meant to be the first of a series but sadly others never arrived.  Old age subsequently took its toll and many of us saw little of Charles from the late 2010s onwards. Nonetheless, he packed much into his life and was a true master of SF fandom.  A chapter of northwest English SF has closed. ++++ Click here for an extended, illustrated version of this obit.

Leslie Phillips CBE, the British actor, has died aged 98. He became strongly associated with smooth-talking, libidinous roles, and his catchphrases: 'Ding dong', 'I say' and a drawn-out 'Hello'. Of his very many roles, his few genre appearances included Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), an episode of The Invisible Man (1958); The Lion, the Witch & th eWardrobe (1979); and The Canterville Ghost (1996 . He also provided the voice for the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter films.

Michael Reed, the Canadian-born British cinematographer, has died aged 93. Through the early 1950s he worked in the camera department at Hammer Films as a clapper loader and focus puller including the genre films The Gorgon (1964) and Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1965). He was 2nd unit Director of Photography on the James Bond films (Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice). He was the cinematographer for On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969). He also shot episodes of the TV series The New Avengers.

Maureen Kincaid Speller, the British SF fan, has died aged 63. Active in fandom since 1980 She was the Senior Reviews Editor at Strange Horizons, and Editorial Consultant for Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction. She edited the BSFA's Matrix in the late 1980s and was the BSFA's Vector magazine's Reviews editor in the '90s. Her fanzines included Snufkin’s Bum and Steam Engine Time co-edited with Paul Kincaid (her long-time partner) and Bruce Gillespie. She was Britain's TAFF delegate to the 1998 Worldcon in Baltimore. She had just won a Fantasy Award from the British Fantasy Society.

Fay Weldon CBE, the English author, essayist and playwright, has died aged 91. The was the author of 31 novels including the genre related Puffball (1980), The Cloning of Joanna May (1989) and Death of a She-Devil (2017). The Cloning of Joanna May was dramatised as a TV series. Her novel Praxis (1978) was short-listed for the Booker Prize. In here early life she was an advertising copywriter who invented the slogan 'Go to work on an egg' which was very famous in Britain in the 1960s.

Martin Morse Wooster, the US fan, has died aged 65. At university he was a member of Wisconsin's Beloit Science Fiction and Fantasy Association in the 1970s and he graduated in history and philosophy from Beloit before graduating from the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C. He went on to become a founding member of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society. In his professional life he was a journalist who also reviewed SF for The wall Street Journal and, among other things, wrote about beer. He was senior fellow at the Capital Research Center and had been an editor at the Wilson Quarterly and American Enterprise. He also authored a number of non-fiction books. On the SF fan front, he was a regular contributor to Ansible (UK) and File770 (US).  He was walking back to his hotel from a beer connvention in Williamsburg, Virginia, when he was hit by a driver who then failed to stop. Taken from us far too soon.

Volodymyr (Fresh) Yezhov, the Ukrainian electronic games developer, has died defending his country against Russian aggression. He was a game designer at GSC Game World and was one of the developers of the various S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. His other contributions were to the games: World of Battles: Morningstar, Call of Cthulhu and Sherlock Holmes: Devil's Daughter. In addition, one of the characters of the game S.T.A.L.K.E.R Loki's visual likeness is that of Volodymyr Yezhov. He is survived by two young sons.

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Spring 2023

End Bits & Thanks

 

Well, that is 2022 done and dusted.  2021 was..:-

          the 10th anniversary of the publication of:-
                    The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain Banks
                    Dark Eden by Chris Beckett
                    Empty Space by M. J. Harrison (Controversial inclusion for some of us. You'll either love or hate it.)
                    Intrusion by Ken MacLeod
                    Transmission by John Meaney
                    Railsea by China Miéville
                    Dodger by Terry Pratchett
                    Demi-Monde Spring by Rod Rees
                    Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds
                    2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
                    Kil'n People by David Brin

          the 30th anniversary of the following:-
                    Forward the Foundation by Isaac Asimov
                    Time Like Infinity by Stephen Baxter
                    Anvil of the Stars by Greg Bear
                    Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
                    Fools by Pat Cadigan
                    Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

          and the films:-
                    Alien³
                    Freejack (based on Sheckley's story)
                    Memoirs of An Invisible Man

          and the broadcast of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories

          the 40th anniversary of the following:-
                    Helliconia Spring by Brian Aldiss
                    Foundation's Edge by Isaac Asimov
                    The Sword of Lictor by Gene Wolfe

          and the films:-
                    Android
                    Blade Runner
                    The Thing
                    2010
                    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

          and the broadcast of:-
                    the 5th Doctor Who
                    Another Flip for Dominick

          the 45th anniversary of 2000AD and Judge Dredd

          the 50th anniversary of the following:-
                    There Will Be Time by Poul Anderson
                    The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
                    The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner
                    Again Dangerous Visions edited by Harlan Ellison
                    The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. LeGuin
                    The English Assassin by Michael Moorcock
                    Other Days, Other Eyes by Bob Shaw
                    The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad
                    The Tale of Troika by the Strugatskis

          and the film:-
                    Solaris

          And the broadcast of:-
                    the 3rd and final season of Doomwatch
                    and The Stone Tape

          The 50th anniversary of the humanity's last presence on the Moon with the departure of Apollo 17's Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt – Cernan being the last on the Moon – without the use of Cavorite….

          the 60th anniversary of the first edition of The Hulk and Spider-Man with Thor, Ant-Man, and Doctor Doom making their first appearance.

          the 75th anniversary of the following:-
                    Pilgrim's Through Time and Space by J. O. Bailey
                    the professional publishing of New Worlds magazine
                    the ENIAC computer
                    the birth of Octavia Butler
                    the birth of Lucius Shepard
                    the birth of John Varely
                    the birth of Vernor Vinge
                    the first Eurocon (Trieste, Italy) held

          the 75th anniversary of the invention of the transistor in 1947 that garnered William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics. These are now part of integrated circuits on silicon chips. Since 1947 at least 3 sextillion transistors have been made.

          the 85th anniversary of the first SF convention. It was held at the Theosophical Hall at Leeds. (Incidentally, SF² Concatenation was founded with its first (print) edition in the 50th anniversary year of that event at the BECCON '87 Eastercon.)

          the 100th anniversary of the film Aelita

          the 100th anniversary of the birth of Hal Clement, Damon Knight, Walter M. Miller and Kurt Vonnegut

          the 100th anniversary of the BBC (that in turn, and in approximate order of broadcast, eventually gave rise to: Stranger From Space, Quatermass, A For Andromeda, Adam Adamant Lives, Doctor Who, Out of the Unknown, Doomwatch, The War Game, The Stone Tape, Moonbase 3, Survivors, Blake's 7, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Flip Side of Dominick Hide, Threads, The Edge of Darkness, Star Cops, Red Dwarf and The Survivors re-boot among much else)

 

And now we are firmly into 2023 and a number of other anniversaries.  2023 will be..:-

          the 10th anniversary of the publication of:-
                    The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
                    London Falling by Paul Cornell
                    Abaddon's Gate by James S. Corey
                    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
                    The Demi-Monde Fall by Rod Rees
                    On the Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds
                    The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar

          the 10th anniversary of the passing of Richard Matheson and Frederik Pohl

          the 10th anniversary of the second Kiev Eurocon the World Fantasy Convention held in Britain and the LoneStarCon 3 Worldcon.

          the 10th anniversary of the films:-
                    The Colony (trailer here)
                    Dragon Day (trailer here)
                    11 A.M. (trailer here)
                    Elysium (trailer here)
                    Gravity (trailer here)
                    John Dies at the End (trailer here)
                    Snowpiercer (trailer here)
                    The World's End (trailer here)

          the 20th anniversary of the publication of:-
                    Blind Lake by Robert Charles Wilson
                    Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster
                    Ilium by Dan Simmons
                    The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (collected edition) by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill
                    Scarlet Traces by Ian Eddington & D’Israeli

          the 20th anniversary of the passing of Hal Clement and Don Lawrence.

          the 20th anniversary of the films:-
                    The Return of the King
                    Solaris
                    Terminator III

          the 20th anniversary of the Torcon III, Toronto Worldcon the 2nd International Week of Science Fact and Fiction held in Timisoara, Romania.

          the 30th anniversary of the publication of:-
                    Moving Mars by Greg Bear
                    Rama Revealed by Arthur C. Clarke & Gentry Lee
                    Virtual Light by William Gibson
                    Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
                    The Moat Around Murcheson’s Eye by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
                    Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
                    Across Realtime (collected edition) by Vernor Vinge
                    A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

          the 30th anniversary of the films:-
                    Batman Returns
                    Body Snatchers
                    Demolition Man
                    Jurassic Park

          the 30th anniversary of the broadcast of:-
                    Babylon V
                    The X-Files

          the 30th anniversary of the joint Eurocon and Eastercon in Jersey, the Channel Islands.

          the 40th anniversary of the publication of:-
                    The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov
                    Blood Music by Greg Bear
                    Startide Rising by David Brin
                    The Citadel of the Autarch (of the 'Book of the New Sun' by Gene Wolfe

          the 40th anniversary of the films:-
                    The Dead Zone
                    Return of the Jedi
                    War Games

          the 50th anniversary of the publication of:-
                    Billion Year Spree by Brian Aldiss
                    The Stone That Never Came Down by John Brunner
                    Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
                    Ocean on Top by Hal Clement
                    'The Roller Ball Murders' by William Harrison
                    Hellstrom’s Hive by Frank Herbert
                    Tyranopolis by A. E. van Vogt

          the 50th anniversary of the films:-
                    Frankenstein Unbound
                    The Legend of Hell House
                    Phase IV
                    The Sleeper
                    Soylent Green
                    Westworld

          the 50th anniversary of the broadcast of:-
                    Kolchak: The Night Stalker
                    Genesis II

          the 50th anniversary of the play The Rocky Horror Show

And 2023 is the 60th anniversary of Clifford D. Simak's (US) duel – Hugo and Nebula – award-winning Way Station (overdue for a British reprint), Kurt Vonnegut's (US) Cat's Cradle and Walter Tevis' (US) The Man Who Fell to Earth, not to mention the films The Birds (US), La Jetée (France) and Children of the Damned (Britain). Of course for us, one of the big anniversaries will also be a 60th but for the still on-going SF series Dr Who (Britain) for which the Beeb Beeb Ceeb are planning a celebration… Let the year roll on.

 

More science and SF news will be summarised in our Summer 2023 upload in April
plus there will also be 'forthcoming' summer book releases, plus loads of stand-alone reviews. (Remember, these season's relate to the northern hemisphere 'academic year'.)

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Ansible, Fancylopaedia, File 770, Silviu Genescu, various members of North Heath SF, Julie Perry (Google Scholar wizard), SF Encyclopaedia, SFX Magazine, Boris Sidyuk, Peter Tyers, and Peter Wyndham, not to mention information provided by publishers. Stories based on papers taken from various academic science journals or their websites have their sources cited.  Additional thanks for news coverage goes to not least to the very many representatives of SF conventions, 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 (2022) also saw articles and convention reports from: John W. Armstrong, Mark Bilsborough, Sue Burke, Darrel Buxton, Arthur Chappell, Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Timothy Gawne, Ian Hunter, Duncan Lunan, Ian Moss, Alastair Reynolds, Peter Tyers,   and  Mark Yon.  Stand-alone book reviews over the past year were provided by: David Allkins, Mark Bilsborough, Arthur Chappell, Jonathan Cowie, Karen Fishwick, Steven French, Ian Hunter, Ash Leaf, Duncan Lunan, Terry Miles, Roseanna Pendlebury Allen Stroud, Peter Tyers, Mark Yon and Peter Young.  'Futures stories' in 2022 involved liaison with Colin Sullivan at Nature, 'Futures' PDF editing by Bill Parry that included 'Futures' stories by: Peter S. Drang, Louis Evans, Mary E. Lowd and Gretchen Tessmer.  Additional site contributions came from: Jonathan Cowie (news, reviews and team coordinator plus semi-somnolent co-founding editor), Boris Sidyuk (sponsorship coordinator, web space and ISP liaison), Tony Bailey (stationery) and in spirit the late Graham Connor (ex officio co-founding editor).  (See also our regular team members list page for further details.)  Last but not least, thanks to Ansible, e-Fanzines, File770, SF Signal and Caroline Mullan for helping with promoting our year's three seasonal editions.  All genuinely and greatly appreciated.

Thanks for spreading the word of this seasonal edition goes to Ansible, File 770, Silviu Genescu, Caroline Mullan, and Peter Wyndham.

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Summer 2023 period – needs to be in before 15th March 2023. 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.

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