Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Summer 2013

This is an archive page. Go here for the latest seasonal science fiction news.

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

Summer 2013

STAFF MATTERS

We still need two or three more fantasy (and fantasy horror) book reviewers. Publishers send us so much that we cannot review it all. And indeed we have been wanting to review some SF classics from our own collections that on-line searches reveal have recently been republished (so review readers can get them). If you live in Great Britain or Northern Ireland (sorry it keeps our postage bill down) and are an avid reader (you may even have reviewed before) and would like to review for us then do please get in touch. We send out a books list three times a year (January, April and September). You choose what books you want (choose a couple more than you can review) and if nobody else has selected a title (hence your choosing more than you can review) we will post you the titles. You send the review as an MS word.doc (not .docx) to us mid-month March, August and December (whichever month follows the month we sent you the books and this typically gives you 3 months). Deadlines are important (but you can send stuff in earlier if you want [this actually helps us]). Importantly, provide the publication details (see what is required at the top of any of our fiction reviews already up) and put your name at the bottom (we would hate to end up accidently attributing your review to someone else). Reviews are typically 500 – 1,000 words in length (yes, that is longer than the reviews we have from our old print days [pre-2000] when space was a financial constraint). And, of course, you get to keep the book. If you review a book that is part of a series and we get more from that series in then you will get first dibs on those titles. If you give an author's book a bad review then someone else will review that author next time. (And if an author gets three bad reviews in a row from three different reviewers then we don't review that author's works again, but this is only something for authors, not reviewers, to worry about.)  If all this has not put you off then do get in touch and you can have a trial go reviewing for us.
          As said, we are looking for reviewers particularly of fantasy (be it magical, epic sword and sorcery, modern urban fantasy, and fantasy horror).

We are looking for convention reviewers to provide 600 – 1,250 word reviews from their nation's national SF convention. Aside from the basics, dates, venue, numbers attending, number and type of programme streams, ideally reports should contain something of the most notable two or three events that took place, any science items (many of our regulars are scientists and technicians into SF), the events strong points (and perhaps a weak one if it was notable) and anything on the traditions of your nation's national convention. Convention review should be sent as an MS word.doc (not .docx) to us mid-month March, August and December prior to our next season issue (the ones with news and review articles). National-level conventions only please, or if your country does not have one then it will probably have at least one or two longstanding series of conventions and a review of either one of these would be welcome. We have a good archive of SF convention reviews but even so we are missing a lot and would like to develop a more representative history of national-level SF conventions from around the world. Hoping that a few of you are up for this and get in touch.  See also here.

We are always looking for news from non-English speaking nations. An e-mail with short bullet points of the main details relating to your news item would be welcome. If reporting on SF awards then do not forget to give a line or two on the award (what is it exactly for, how is it voted or judged etc.). Ditto major conventions: numbers attending, awards given etc.  You do get a thank you at the bottom of the news page and also a fuzzy warm glow inside in the knowledge that you have waved your country's SF flag to the English-speaking SF community. Hoping that a few of you are up for this and get in touch.

 

Elsewhere this issue (vol 23 (3) Summer 2013) not mentioned above we have our annual look at the top ten UK box office SF/F films for the year to Easter, SFnal-ish oddities and science whimsy with Gaia and many SF/F book reviews. For a complete list of this edition's contents see What's new.

 

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

 

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

Summer 2013

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

These quickly link you to the item lower down in this large seasonal news page

SF/F news last season includes: John Sohus' mureder convicted, horribly sad news from Iain Banks, space marine trademark lunacy and Dragoncon controversy.  Plus Gandalf to marry Captain Jean Luc Picard. Shock, horror, drama, probe…!

Science awards presented over the last season included the Fundamental Physics Prize and a new Milner prize for biology.

SF/F Award nominations of the season, spring (2013), included for: the Hugos and the Nebulas.

SF/F Awards presented over the spring (2013) included: Europe's Eurocon Awards, Britain's BSFA, Poland's Zlote Maski [Golden Masks], Russia's Roskons and Spain's Minotauro.

Book news – Includes : the top SF/F authors in the British Isles and a summary statistical breakdown of the British Isles SF/F and fiction book trade for 2012.

Film news – Includes that of: many sequels and re-makes being planned as well as links to several short videos and trailers for forthcoming SF/F/H films.

Television news – Includes that of: Blake's 7's return; Dr Who related items and forthcoming new series with: Continuum, Human, Sense 8 and Zombieland.

News of SF and science personalities includes, among many, that of: Isaac Asimov, Joe Haldeman, Charlaine Harris, G. R. R. Martin, Terry Pratchett, Robert Rankin, Alastair Reynolds, John Scalzi, Charles Stross and Dennis Wheatley.

News of last season's and forthcoming SF events includes those that took, or will take, place in: Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Russia, Spain and the Ukraine.  It also includes news of the 2014 2014 NaSFic bids and three bids to host the 2015 SF Worldcon.

Science news includes: meteorite explosion and near-Earth asteroid pass, migraine cause discerned, why stroking and massage is pleasurable, smell has a quantum aspect and teeth plaque has evolved with human development among other science news.

Notable SF books due out over the Summer 2013 either new or first time in mass market paperback format include: The Finches of Mars by Brian Aldiss, The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, Intrusion by Ken MacLeod, Evening's Empires by Paul McAuley, Be My Enemy by Ian McDondald, Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh, The Long War by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter, The Adjacent by Christopher Priest, The Demi-Monde Summer by Rod Rees, 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson, and Neptune's Blood by Charles Stross.

Notable fantasy books due out over the Summer 2013 either new or first time in mass market paperback format include: The Ocean at the End of the Land by Neil Gaiman, The City by Stella Gemmell (debut), and The New Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko.

Notable reprinted books due out (vital to check in case your collection has something missing) include: The Ballad of Halo Jones by Allan Moore & Ian Gibson, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, and The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells.

The Spring saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included: Scientists: Tingye Li and Robert EdwardsSF personalities: Angel Arango, Stuart Freeborn, Rick Hautala, James Herbert, Jacques Sadoul and Paul Williams.

 

Jump to other specialist news using the section menu below or else scroll down to get everything…

 

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

Summer 2013

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SF NEWS

SF fan John Sohus' murderer convicted of first-degree. Los Angeles SF Society members John and Linda Sohus were in their twenties when they went missing in early 1985. John Sohus remains were discovered in 1994 by a construction crew building a swimming pool for the new owner of John's San Marino property, his wife's body was never found. Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, 52, was accused of bludgeoning his landlady’s adult son John with a blunt object and then digging a 3-foot-deep grave in the backyard of the victim’s home. John's body was buried behind a guest house where Gerhartsreiter had been living. Back in the 1980s Christian Gerhartsreiter told people that he was Clark Rockefeller and posed as an eccentric but brilliant member of America’s famous wealthy family. This won him entry to exclusive social clubs and fooled many, including his Harvard-educated wife.

New biology prize worth US$33 million has been launched. Nine winners of the annual prize will each receive US$3m. The prize is sponsored by a number of Russian billionaires including Yuri Milner who last year launched the Fundamental Physics Prize. The new biology prize's first winners are 11 life scientists working in areas such as: stem cells, cancer; genomics; and neurobiology. Each received US$3 million. In future five biology prizes a year will be awarded.

The 2013 Fundamental Physics prize goes to Alexander Polyakov of Princetown University, US. It is for his work on the standard model of particle physics. The prize is worth US$3 million.

The 2013 Abel Prize for mathematics has gone to Pierre Deligne who works in the US. His prize is for his work of 50 years connecting algebra and geometry. The prize is annually awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo and named after the Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel and is worth 6 million Norwegian kroner. (Last year's Abel winner details here.)

An SF2 Concatenation staff member's oyster card is found on murder victim. The SF2 Concatenation team member was mugged some months ago in London and, among other things, an oyster card was taken. (Oyster cards are electronic cards used to travel on rail, bus and underground (metro) in the London area.) Shortly after Easter the team member was contacted by the police who informed that the oyster card had been found on a murder victim. It looks like the incident was a criminal-on-criminal crime. London is generally one of the world's safer capital cities.

Quentin Cooper dropped from Radio 4's Material World science programme. The news caused a stir and a flurry of letters and e-mails to the BBC. His services will be dispensed with at the end of May.  The BBC has been heavily criticised for its science coverage. Other than Attenborough biology, its astronomy and physics coverage is dumbed down to below New Scientist level – the magazine for those with an interest in popular science. Much of the science on the BBC is below 17-year old school level. Conversely Material World was pitched at an intelligent level that with Quentin's interviewing technique made it of interest to the lay public into popular science as well as many scientists.  This decision comes hard on the heels of Radio 4 dropping the Home Planet programme last year. Home Planet saw listeners science questions answered by an expert panel.

The 2013 Eurocon Awards were presented at this year's Eurocon in Kiev, Ukraine. The wins were:-
          European Grand Master:-
                    Terry Pratchett (UK)
                    Iain Banks (UK)
          I. Hall of Fame
                    Best Author: Andrei Valentinov (Ukraine)
                    Best Publisher: Shiko (Ukraine)
                    Best Artist: Nikolai Redka (Ukraine)
                    Best Promoter of Science Fiction: Istvan Burger (Hungary)
                    Best Magazine: SFX (UK)
                    Best Translator: Patrice and Viktoriya Lajoie (France)
          II. Spirit of Dedication
                    Artist: Katerina Bachilo (Russia)
                    Dramatic Presentation: Your Entrance (by Raydo Theatre) (small>sic) (Ukraine)
                    Fanzine: Fandango (Ukraine)
                    Best Website: scifiportal.eu (Romania)
          III. Encouragement Awards Stephen Cernohuby (Austria)
                    Ioana Visan (Romania)
                    Alexandra Davydova (Russia)
                    Leonid Kaganov (Russia)
                    Livia Hlavatskova: (Slovakia)
                    Boris Georgiev (Georgia)
                    Julia Novakova (Czech Republic)
                    Oleg Silin (Ukraine)
                    Martin Vavpotic (Slovenia)
                    Anton Lik (Belarus)
          IV. Honorary Awards
                    Boris Strugatsky, in memoriam (Russia)
                    Harry Harrison, in memoriam (Ireland)
Comment.. Deserving wins. Sad it took so long for Terry and Iain to get recognised as European Grandmasters but better late than never. This year's wins were dominated by Russian affiliated nation wins. This is not surprising given this year's Eastern European venue in the Ukraine, and nothing wrong with that given that this year's attendance was dominated by those from these countries. But it does make the SFX win all the more remarkable. The other mildly surprising win was for best website. The winner has been going for barely a year and that really is a little short for Eurocon recognition, but given that there are so few websites that have a truly pan-European SF feel the win is understandable. Such is this paucity of truly European (as opposed to national) SF websites that this category of the award could come unstuck in a few year's time with wins going to websites that really only have a profile within their own country. This is something that ESFS will need to watch.  +++ Last year's Eurocon Awards are here.

The 2013 Roskon Awards, voted by participants of Russia's Roskon convention, were presented at this year's Roskon near Moscow:-
          Best Novel Gold: Ketopolis – Whales and Battleships by Gray F. Green
          Best Novel Silver: The New Watch by Sergey Lukyanenko
          Best Novel Bronze: Wayne by Ina Zhivetyeva
          Big Roskon Award - Lifetime Achievement: Vasily Golovachev
The above is just a summary; this year there were Roskon categories for short stories, juvenile fiction and non-fiction. Roskons are around a couple of hundred strong with attendance dominated by many SF professionals and semi-pros (writers, editors, journalists etc). Voting is in two rounds and by the Roskon attendees. +++ Click here for last year's Roskon Awards 2012.

The nominations for the 2013 Hugo Awards for 'SF achievement' covering the year 2012 were announced at the British national Eastercon convention as well as a couple of cons in N. America. A total of 1,343 valid nominating ballots were cast, substantially exceeding the previous record of 1,101 set in 2012 by the 2012 Worldcon. According to Worldcon 2013 LoneStarCon 3 Chair Randall Shepherd, "this outstanding turnout confirms that interest in the Hugo Awards is at an all-time high. LoneStarCon 3 will mark exactly 60 years since the Hugos were first presented at the 11th Worldcon in Philadelphia, PA. Winners that year included Alfred Bester, Willy Ley, Ed Emshwiller, and Forrest J Ackerman." The nominations for the principal two Hugo categories (those categories attracting over 700 voters plus we include the short form dramatic as many into SF watch it on TV) were:-
Best Novel:-
          2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
          Blackout by Mira Grant
          Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold
          Redshirts by John Scalzi
          Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form:-
          Avengers Assemble
          The Cabin in the Woods
          The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
          The Hunger Games
          Looper
Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form:-
          Doctor Who: 'The Angels Take Manhattan'
          Doctor Who: 'Asylum of the Daleks'
          Doctor Who: 'The Snowmen'
          Fringe: 'Letters in Transit'
          Game of Thrones: 'Blackwater'
Comment: Well, on the Hugo nomination front we only got one of our last-season-suggested Best SF/F Books of 2012 titles nominated for Best Novel Hugo and that was Stanley Kim Robinson's 2312. Of course, this is not surprising as our list is derived from those published in the British Isles whereas 90% of this year's Worldcon registrants who nominate for the Hugo are based in N. America.   With regards to 'Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form' our last-season-suggested Best SF/F Films of 2012 saw two of them nominated The Avengers and Looper. Of course, that we only got two is again not surprising as our annual list is derived from more an international base of films as well as more from independent productions. Conversely, the Worldcon nominators tend to go for N. American and especially Hollywood productions.  Anyway, as our spring list Best SF/F Films of 2012 also had links to those films' trailers why not check them out and see whether you agree with our selection or the Hugo (Science Fiction Achievement) Award nominations as a good representation of 'SF achievement' in 2012.  Meanwhile three of the Dramatic Presentation Long Form nominated films are in our British Isles SF/F top box office film top ten chart for 2013.  As for 'Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form' we did (yet again) say that Dr Who would get a good showing in this year's Hugo nominations, and the nominators did not disappoint. However it is good to see a Fringe episode in the running.
          So who will win? Well, this year's Hugo winners will be announced during the Hugo Awards Ceremony at Renovation at the 2013 Worldcon in the US and as usual we will report in our autumnal edition.   +++ Last year's Hugo nominations are here.

The BSFA (British Science Fiction Association) Awards were presented at this year's Eastercon. The principal category is for 'Best Novel' and this year it went to Jack Glass by Adam Roberts. The story concerns an interplanetary killer. (We hope to have a stand-alone review next season.)

The Nebula Award nominees have been announced. The Nebulas are voted on by the SF writers of N. America (SFWA). The nominations for the principal category that counts – 'Best Novel' were:-
          Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
          Ironskin by Tina Connolly
          The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
          The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan
          Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
          2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
Good to see that one of the titles we deemed as being one of the Best SF novels of 2012 published in Britain make the grade in N. America.

Spain's 2013 Minotauro Award has been announced. Panteón [Pantheon] by Carlos Sisi wins the award which this year is worth 10,000 euros and sees the novel published. The award has been run since 2004 by the Spanish publisher Ediciones Minotauro, one of Spain's leading SF imprints. The entries are judged by a small jury of seven. This year 590 novel manuscripts were submitted.  Carlos Sisi's earlier novel, Los Caminantes [The Wanderers], is now available in English thanks to Permuted Press www.thewanderersnovel.com.

Poland's Zlote Maski [Golden Masks] for SF/F game playing were presented at Pyrkon. The wins were:-
          Best Player: Gniewko Kozlowski
          Best GM Team: Kawaleria Berg and Zofia Urszula Kaleta for the LARP Ostatni rejs (Last Cruise)
          Best LARP Scenario: Katarzyna "Gorka" Górska, Piotr 'Kula' Milewski and Piotr Budzisz, Kaszek for the scenario for Metoda profesora Kamihary [Professor's Kamihara Method].

The first Lifeboat to the Stars Award nominations announced. Lifeboat to the Stars Award. The award is being presented to the best work of science fiction of any length published in 2011 or 2012 contributing to an understanding of the benefits, means, and difficulties of interstellar travel. The nominations are:-
          Tau Ceti by Kevin J. Anderson and Steve Savile
          Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven
          'Twenty Lights to `The Land of Snow’' by Michael Bishop
          'A Country for Old Men' by Ben Bova
          'Lucy' by Jack McDevitt
          Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds
          'The First Day of Eternity' by Domingo Santos (translated by Stanley Schmidt)

Night Shade Books is in trouble. Indeed Night Shade Books has announced that they have closed their magazine Eclipse Online.

Games Workshop sticks to claim to common law trademark of the term 'space marines' but M. C. A. Hogarth is considering challenging. It has already been reported that Games Workshop (the folk behind the Warhammer 40,000 game and books) got Space Marine novels removed from Amazon. The counter argument is that the term "space marine" goes back to the 1930s and has been used by Robert A. Heinlein and others. Hogarth thinks he has a point and is hoping to convince a lawyer that this is so and so work on a 'no win, no fee' basis to challenge Games Workshop   +++ One of us has worked in publishing and come up against trademark issues in the past. His initial (unresearched) view is that Hogarth has a point. 'Apple' (proper noun, capital 'A') can be a protected term if, as it is, registered as a trademark and is used in connection with computers. Apple (common noun) meaning the fruit is not protected. Such trademarks are 'arbitrary trademarks'. So if Games Workshop has a 'Space Marines' game and they have formally registered the trademark in Europe and the US then they should be protected from others producing a game with a title containing that term in Europe and the US. However as 'space marine' as a term has been in common genre use since at least E. E. Russell's 'Waitabits' in Astounding SF in 1955 it is most unlikely that genre use as a common noun in short stories, novels, TV and films is protected. Furthermore, even if Games Workshop has registered the term, other games producers could still use the term as part of games' documentation (rules etc.) as a common noun, but not as part of the game's title, which would be protected. More debatable is a novel with 'Space Marines' in the actual title. If Games Workshop had formally registered the term then it would most certainly be protected if the novel in anyway related to the 'single source' Games Workshop product (using similar character names, set up etc.) or any game commercially sold. +++ Other debatable genre-related trademarks famously include the Marvel and DC registration of the term 'super hero' (principally U.S. Trademark Serial Nos. 72243225 and 73222079). Any one can say that such-and-such, who did a good deed and exhibited exceptional bravery, was a super hero. What is purportedly protected is use of the term in connection with a super power (X-ray vision etc.). However such is the common use of the term (and not 'single source') that there is doubt as to whether the registration of the term 'super hero' in the US is legally enforceable. Given the size of DC and Marvel's wallets, the legal costs in finding out would in all likelihood be far more considerable than anyone's desire to test the legality. A wealthy fan or writer is needed to make the challenge. If they did they would certainly become news worthy.

Call for Dragon*con boycott. US megacon Dragoncon is a commercial venture. One of its founders is a shareholder (reportedly of 31%) who reportedly receives an annual dividend in excess of US$150,000 (£100,000). However the individual concerned was arrested in 2000 for child molestation, a charge that has yet to go to trial. Georgia (US) law does not apparently (the organisers say) allow the company to be dissolved – and reformed without Kramer, as many wish – while it is involved in any legal dispute; there's just such a pending dispute with Kramer over his shareholder rights. Reported in Ansible.

Gandalf to marry Captain Jean Luc Picard.  Shock, horror, drama, probe…!.  True!  Well actually it is Sir Ian McKellen marrying Sir Patrick Stewart this summer.  Let us be even clearer.  Patrick Stewart is marrying Sunny Ozell and Ian McKellen is officiating the ceremony… We wish everyone all the best for their futures.

Finnish SF was 210 years old in April. This news is blatantly nicked from Partial Recall. The first Finnish science fiction story, 'En Drom' ['A Dream'] by Gabriel Israel Hartman, was published in Abo Tidning on 6th April 1803. The story is set almost a hundred years in the future (in the year 1899 that is), and in it, scientists in the Paris National Institute discover microscopic universes when studying drops of blood with a cool new contraption, the microscope.

 

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

Summer 2013

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

Isaac Asimov may well have an historic marker erected in Philadelphia if local and the SF community get their way. For three years, from 1942 to 1945, while living and working in Philadelphia during WWII as a chemist at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Isaac Asimov wrote half a dozen of the key stories that comprise his two most influential cultural masterpieces: the Foundation series, which introduced the idea of 'psychohistory', the mathematical modelling of the future; and the 'Robot' series, which introduced the famous Three Laws of Robotics At that time he lived at an apartment on the corner of 50th and Spruce streets in West Philadelphia and it is there that the marker, it is hoped, will be erected. The newspaper The Philadelphia Weekly is petitioning the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Commission to dedicate a marker at that location honoring Asimov's profound literary accomplishment. The SF community is supporting the move with a petition.

Iain Banks has made a tragically frightful announcement: he has terminal cancer and is unlikely to survive a year. He said:-
"I am officially Very Poorly.
          After a couple of surgical procedures, I am gradually recovering from jaundice caused by a blocked bile duct, but that - it turns out - is the least of my problems.
          "I first thought something might be wrong when I developed a sore back in late January, but put this down to the fact I'd started writing at the beginning of the month and so was crouched over a keyboard all day. When it hadn't gone away by mid-February, I went to my GP, who spotted that I had jaundice. Blood tests, an ultrasound scan and then a CT scan revealed the full extent of the grisly truth by the start of March.
          "I have cancer. It started in my gall bladder, has infected both lobes of my liver and probably also my pancreas and some lymph nodes, plus one tumour is massed around a group of major blood vessels in the same volume, effectively ruling out any chance of surgery to remove the tumours either in the short or long term."

          Iain is scheduled to be a Guest of Honour at next year's Worldcon but being realistic it is unlikely that he will be able to make it.  Having said that, the standard deviation for terminal cancer patient longevity forecasts is large.
          Clearly there is little we, the SF community, can do. However we can all check our collections for Banksiain gaps, fill them and make Iain's last royalty cheque a good one, not just for him but for his longstanding partner and new wife.  To maximise order direct from his publisher www.littlebrown.co.uk, and spread the word on your blog, social site etc straightaway. +++ Iain has married Adele Hartely at Inverlochy Castle Hotel in the Highlands in a short humanist ceremony.

Chris Beckett has sold two books to a US publisher in a major deal for this new writer. Julian Pavia at Broadway Books (part of the Crown Publishing Group) has acquired US rights in the science fiction novels Dark Eden and Gela’s Ring by Chris Beckett from Michael Carlisle at Inkwell Management and Vanessa Kerr, Rights Director at Grove Atlantic in London, for a high five-figure sum in US dollars.  Dark Eden was originally published by Atlantic’s Corvus imprint in 2012 and was this year shortlisted for the BSFA Award for Best SF Novel of the year, as well as being mentioned in several national papers as 2012’s best SF novel. The sequel, Gela’s Ring, will be published by Corvus in spring 2014. The agent who did both world rights deals with Atlantic was John Jarrold.

Eric Brown has had a new trilogy commissioned by Solaris. It is his first attempt at steampunk. Jani And The Greater Game will be set in India with a teenage female protagonist. The novel will be delivered in spring 2014, for an autumn publication.

Harlan Ellison is to appear on an episode of The Simpsons in the show's 25th year. As such, he joins a select cadre of other genre writers who have appeared on the show including: Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. (Harlan Ellison previously has appeared on Scooby Doo.) However, at the studios following the recoding session, Harlan accidentally fell out of his chair: it was one of those ancient, rickety old swivel chairs. Following his tumble he had to spend a week recuperating.

Neil Gaiman is editing an issue of Britain's SFX magazine. The edition will be on sale at the end of May and is issue #236 .

Joe Haldeman gave a reading at the Eastern New Mexico University in April to launch the two-day 37th Annual Jack Williamson Lectureship. The event continued with readings from science fiction authors from across New Mexico. Authors and guests also discussed genre-related topics in the Golden Library's Special Collection.

Charlaine Harris is, of course, best known for her Sookie Stackhouse novels. Now she has adapted her other series, the Harper Connelly books, into graphic novel format with comics writer Bill (Captain America) Harms and artist Denis Medri. The Harper Connelly series follows Harper Connelly and her stepbrother Tolliver Lang. Harper has the power to find the dead and see their last moments of life. There are three in the series now launched and the first is Grave Sight. +++ The rumour mill has it that the novel series may also be adapted for television by SyFy.

George R. R. Martin is feeling the pressure as television series episode production threatens to overtake his writing the Game of Thrones novels.  See the story in our television news subsection below. +++ See also Martin's sales last year below.

John Norman's Gor science-fantasy series is being re-released by E-Reads with new covers. This quasi-classic series revolves around individual humans (usually one per book) mysteriously transported from present-day Earth to the fantasy world of Gor. It is notorious for it being a little titillating and non-PC risqué (especially almost every other novel in the sequence). The new covers come courtesy of Shefali Randeria. E-book editions are US$9.99 and paperback prices range from US$11.95 to US$28.95.

Terry Pratchett has had a BBC 2 documentary broadcast (27th March) on his return to Borneo after 18 years for a re-encounter with endangered Orang-Utans. Called Terry Pratchett: Facing Extinction he examined the species' plight set against the context of his own mortality and Alzheimer's. Very thought provoking and not a little moving.

Robert Rankin has sold out of his 1,000 collectors' run of his graphic novel £Empires though he himself prefers illustratijng to graphic novel writing and drawing. In July he has Alice on Mars which is Alice in Wonderland's kidnap by aliens and taken to Mars. This will consist of one page of text opposite one page of illustration. It comes out in July and launched at the London film and comicon. Given the way the graphic novel has gone Alice on Mars sees a 2,000 print run. He has one more novel due out from Gollancz and then he will be self-publishing a new Brentford trilogy title.

Alastair Reynolds has delivered the sequel to Blue Remembered Earth which some of you may recall we cited as best science fiction books of 2012. As Alastair explains on his blog, Approaching Pavonis, the sequel – the next in the trilogy – is to be called On The Steel Breeze. The central character, Chiku, is totally new, although she is closely related to characters in the first book. When Alastair started thinking about this trilogy, almost five years ago, he had in mind a kind of logarithmic structure which would see the first book span 100 years, the second 1000, and the third 10,000. For that reason it was a handy shorthand to call it the 11K sequence. Things have moved on, though, and while the action in On The Steel Breeze does take us quite a bit further into the future than Blue Remembered Earth we certainly do not get to see life a thousand years from now. That was indeed how it started, but after months of progress Alastair came to feel that the narrative felt too detached from Blue Remembered Earth, and he wanted to bring it a little closer to home. There was also the technical challenge that he wanted the book to feature a good deal of action set in and around Earth, including at least one scene in Africa, and did not want those events to be happening ten centuries from now. Resolving these demands has pushed the timeline quite a bit nearer to the present than originally expected, but we are still two centuries on from Blue Remembered Earthat the start of the novel, and quite a bit more than that by the end of it. The action involves a 220 year expedition to an extrasolar planet aboard a caravan of huge iceteroid 'holoships', the tension between human and artificial intelligence, and, of course, elephants. Lots of elephants. There are scenes set on the holoships, around another solar system, on our own Earth, as well as in and around Venus, Mars and Saturn.

Robert Sawyer has announced that his latest novel will be coming out from Orion's Gollancz later in the year and is just out from Penguin in Canada and Ace in the US. Called Red Planet Blues is a hardboiled detective novel set on Mars – a combination of noir mystery and science fiction. And he has had book-tour events that went to: Los Angeles, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Waterloo, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City. Also, shortly after this seasonal news page is posted, there will be events 30th April, at 7:00 p.m.: Waterloo Public Library, Main Branch, 35 Albert Street, and Toronto 1st May at 7:00 p.m.: North York Central Library, Mel Lastman Square / North York Centre subway station.

John Scalzi and his site's followers have raised over US$50,000 for Emily’s List and the Human Rights Campaign due to an online nemesis whose online moniker is 'Vox Day'. Every time Vox Day used John Scalzi's name, or called someone by a derogatory nickname, John Scalzi set aside US$5 for charity. Though John caped his donation to US$1,000, his site's followers joined in and so the US$50k has been reached. Vox Day is apparently Theodore Beale and apparently the ire began back in 2005 when Beale wrote an article noting that women were less common among the ranks of hard science-fiction writers as apparently, according to Beale, women simply could not cope with the science. John noted this on his own site and a flame war began. Not wishing to be confrontational, John came up with this charitable counter strategy. The Human Rights Campaign needs no explanation to anyone this side of the Pond but Emily's List is a US lobby group that helps elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office. +++ John has also announced his latest project Morning Star Alpha. It is a graphic novel, written by John and illustrated by Mike Choi, which ties into the events of the Morning Star computer game. But please note that this a simple explanation. For one thing, Morning Star Alpha is its own app; you explore it on your tablet, and they have built the app and the story to take advantage of the electronic medium – which means it is a new graphic novel experience. You can make choices in Morning Star Alpha which affect the storytelling, and your actions can have an impact in the Morning Star game (and vice versa). You don’t have to experience Morning Star Alpha to enjoy Morning Star – and you do not have play Morning Star to enjoy Morning Star Alpha: these are both free-standing experiences; that said, each is complementary to the other.

Charles Stross has written a new trilogy set in and furthering the existing 'Merchant Princes' six-book sequence that began with The Family Trade. Tor (Pan Macmillan) is therefore re-releasing the original six novels as three two-book omnibuses and then the new three novels. However, note that the three two-book omnibuses (reprints of the original stories) are actually the author's cut versions as Charles has tidied up some errors. To avoid cataloguing confusion these three two-book volumes will be called: The Bloodline Feud, The Traders' War, and The Revolution Trade. In N. America the titles are coming out from Tor US. (Elsewhere on this site there is a review of Book 3 of the series The Clan Corporate and we hope to have a review of The Bloodline Feud twin-book this autumn.)

Lavie Tidhar's new novel The Violent Century, has sold to Hodder & Stoughton in the UK, in a two-book deal and will be published in hardcover in October. In addition, PS Publishing will do a signed limited edition of the book for the collectors market. Lavie Tidhar recently won the 2012 World Fantasy Best Novel Award for his novel Osama: there has been quite a bit of excitement about Osama in SF circles and probably the only reason it was not included in our Best Science Fiction Books of 2012 was because our reviews panel never got a copy to consider. The Violent Century can be pigeonholed as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy meets Watchmen. is the sweeping drama of a time we know too well; the 20th century, a century of fear and war and hatred and death. In a world where everyday heroes may become übermenschen, men and women with extraordinary powers. What does it mean to be a hero? To be a human? Would the last hundred years have been that much better if Superman were real? Would they even have been all that different?   Sounds interesting

Dennis Wheatley's books could reach a new readership with forthcoming Bloomsbury resurrection. Dennis Wheatley was a best-selling author of occult thrillers back in the 1950s and 1960s, who died in 1977. In October, Bloomsbury will be re-releasing 20 of his novels in e-book format and three in paper editions. The three paper format books will be: The Forbidden Territory, To the Devil a Daughter and The Devil Rides Out.

For SF author websites click SF author links.

 

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

Summer 2013

FILM NEWS

Terminator 5, TRON 3 and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 are, it is reported, to be made. Whether or not Terminator 5 will return us to the standard of Terminators 1 and 2 remains to be seen. Tron 3 is also very much on the cards with Joseph (TRON: Legacy and Oblivion) Kosinsk being at the helm. It looks like the story will pick up from where TRON: Legacy left off.  As for Hot Tub Time Machine 2, why ruin a reasonable and complete film with a sequel…? Oh, forgot. Cash machine no-brains rule Hollywood.

The Incredible Shrinking Man may be re-made. The original 1957 film was based on Richard Matheson's 1956 novel which Matheson himself adapted (or was it that Matheson wrote the novel based on his screenplay?). Anyway, the original film won a Hugo Award and now Matheson and his son are updating it. Apparently MGM are interested.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea being re-made. This project has been in embryonic development hell for a while, and we have not so far thought it worthwhile reporting. Disney, David Fincher and Scott Z. Burns. Six months ago the Australian government offered Disney Aus$22.5 million in tax breaks if they made the film there. Casting currently seems to be a stumbling block and David Fincher has plenty of other demands on his time. So it looks like we may have to wait a little while but the next six months should tell us whether this venture truly has legs.

The Man in the High Castle is being made into a 4-part mini-series. The 1962 novel is the latest Philip K. Dick to be transferred to the screen albeit the small one. The novel won a Hugo Award and is an alternate reality one in which the Axis powers won World War II. Japan now rules the US… The inventive story even has a novel within it, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which itself is an alternate history tale about what it would be like if the Allies won WWII… SyFy Channel are behind the venture.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!: Trailer for the new frozen post apocalyptic, rage-and-vaguely-zombie type film The Colony. This US film comes out in Canada around the time we post this season's news page in April (2013) with the European release hopefully later this year. There have been few SF films set in a frozen post-apocalyptic future -- Quintet was one – and now we have The Colony The set up is at least interesting in that the cause of the disaster is one that those concerned with geo-engineering to solve global warming have had: namely geo-engineering to solve warming over did it and cooled the planet. A few scattered colonies survive beneath the ice. An S.O.S. from one is picked up by another who send a party to investigate… The rest is somewhat predictable, but the frozen Earth scenes look good. This is the first film to be shot at the decommissioned N.O.R.A.D. (NORth American Aerospace Defense command base) of North Bay, Ontario, Canada. – See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Trailer for the new independent zombie film The Battery. The key thing here is that it is an independent film (which are usually far better plotted and scripted than Hollywood fodder) and this one needs to be as its budget was reportedly only US$6,000 borrowed from the director Jeremy Gardner's friends and family. However it has had some good reviews on the international fantastic film fest circuit. The personalities of two former baseball players clash as they traverse the rural back roads of a post-plague New England teeming with the undead.   Trivia: The four main characters are names after famous mice. Ben (from Willard), Mickey (Disney), Jerry (from Tom & Jerry) and Annie (from the Annie Mouse books). – See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Trailer for the new hard SF, space opera-ish film Oblivion. It looks interesting and stars Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman. One of the few remaining drone repairmen assigned to Earth, its surface devastated after decades of war with the alien Scavs, discovers a crashed spacecraft with contents that bring into question everything he believed about the war, and may even put the fate of mankind in his hands. Directed and written by Joseph Kosinski. – See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Trailer for the new hard SF, space opera-ish film After Earth. As with Oblivion above, the far future Earth has been left behind by humanity. A thousand years have passed and a spaceship crashes. The survivors have to cope with a planet subject to wild temperature fluctuations and hostile animals… – See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Trailer for the new Iron Man 3. Tony Stark uses his ingenuity to fight those who destroyed his private world and soon goes up against his most powerful enemy yet: the Mandarin. – See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Trailer for the new Canadian TV series for the BBC, Orphan Black. Orphan Black follows outsider, orphan and street-wise Sarah. After witnessing a woman's suicide, Sarah assumes the stranger's identity - who happens to look just like her! Expecting to solve all her problems by cleaning out the dead woman's savings, Sarah stumbles across a surprising fact: that she and the dead woman are clones! As Sarah searches for answers, she discovers that there are more people like her out there - genetically identical individuals who were planted in unsuspecting birth parents and nurtured in completely different circumstances. With no idea who created the clones, she'll need to discover the reason in a hurry as an assassin is killing them one by one… – See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: R´ha is a short (6 mins) SF film. An alien warrior defending his world is captured… This was a solo project. All computer animation and design was created by student Kaleb Lechowski during the first year of his studies, and so if this is what film students are doing these days then the future of SF film looks bright. Dave Masterson did the voice acting and Hartmut Zeller the sound and music. – See the see the film here.

Film clip download tip!: The Wishing Skull is a short (9 mins) SF film. Kemp Steadman is surprised when a magic lantern, forged from a human skull, projects the image of a young woman onto his office wall. She offers to grant Kemp one wish if he can solve the mystery behind her murder. – See the see the film here.

Film clip download tip!: Moonie and the Spider Queen is a new, deliberately B-movie, 1950s style sci-fi film based on the Nicola Cuti novels and graphic novel. Think low-budget Barbarella. She can live in Outer Space and on Alien Planets without any Life Support; Moonie the Starbabe will have her adventures, and so much more, displayed on the small screen. – See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Lara plays herself playing the Doctor Who theme on violin. How does she do it? Well the answer is kinda obvious and though it did not involve Time Lord style time travel it still took timing. – See the result here.

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

For a reminder of the top films in 2012/13 (and earlier years) then check out our top Science Fiction Films annual chart. This page is based on the weekly UK box office ratings over the past year up to Easter. You can use this page if you are stuck for ideas hiring a DVD for the weekend.

For a forward look as to film releases of 2013 see our film release diary.

 

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

Summer 2013

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

It is that time of year again, towards the end of the year's first quarter, when the book trade statistics for the previous year are released. As usual we have coverage, and the first few items below relate to the 2012 data…

The top selling SF/F authors in the British Isles in 2012 are listed below. The following list contains the authors' ranking in the top 50 British writer chart, the authors' names, the value of their British Isles sales in 2012 and in brackets the percentage change of these sales over the previous year (2011).  The data is calculated from Nielsen BookScan which covers the majority of British Isles retail outlets so enabling a quite reasonable proportional extrapolation to the rest. (It is estimated that in the US BookScan covers 75% of book retail sales.) Note that the top 50 British writer's chart includes non-SFF authors and even non-fiction writers, including those of cookery books.  Note that the authors' British Isles book sale value is exactly that: that estimated to be taken at shop tills or via the internet, and it includes e-book sales. What it is not is the amount the publisher received (which is discounted by 30% [or even 50% with some large newsagent chains and internet bookshops]) from the bookseller, or even that amount that the author received (which is typically 10% of publishers' receipts from booksellers). Taking these factors into account, and only as a very rough guide you might expect authors to receive 3% - 7% of the below cash figures.
          (8th) George R. R. Martin £8.0 million (+9%)
          (13th) Terry Pratchett £5.4m (+15%)
          (21st) J. R. Tolkien £3.9m (+230% [shows what The Hobbit film did])
          Iain M. Banks £1.0m (+22% [shows what a new 'Culture' novel does])
          George Orwell £0.9m (-10%)
          Charlaine Harris £0.8m (-29%)
          Ben Aaronovitch £0.5m (-10%)
          Raymond E. Feist £0.4m (-18%)
          Amanda Hocking £0.4m (Not applicable)
Oh, all right. Some of you are wondering that if the above is a list of SF/F authors, who was the biggest selling author (including non-SF/F) in the British Isles in 2012. well, actually is was a fantasy author, but not the usual fantasy. The top 2012 author was E. L. James of Fifty Shades of Grey fame. Her books sold £47.3 million worth in 2012 and as such had the biggest grossing book sales year of any author on record since records began. As such she beat the previous record-holder for biggest value book selling author J. K. Rowling whose books in 2007 sold £42.6 million's worth.  And speaking of J. K. Rowling, some of you might be wondering why she does not appear in the above list? Well, this is because she has not written any fantasy for the past couple of years and her latest novel is not speculative fiction even though her speculative fiction backlist surely significantly contributed to her 2012 sales. Her 2012 sales did bring her in at 10th of all British authors with £6.9m.

George R. R. Martin has another good year As can be seen from the above item he has again clearly had a good year, but what does this mean for the British SF/F book trade as a whole? You may recall that last year George R. R. Martin was key in making SF/F/H the only fiction sub-section (as defined by BookScan) to grow. In 2012 George R. R. Martin was responsible for 11 of Harper Collins top 15 adult fiction sales and his titles' sales were up 9.2% on 2011. So how are SF/F books doing in the British Isles…? (See following item.)  +++ Other G. R. R. Martin news see in author news subsection above.

British SF/F book sales of paper titles were down in 2012 compared to 2011. Physical books represent some 80% of the British Isles overall fiction market and e-books 20%. (In 2012 N. America physical books represented 75% of the market and e-books 25%.)  In terms of the total British Isles book market (fiction and non-fiction as well as physical and digital books) the proportion of e-book sales rose from 5.8% of the market in financial terms in 2011 with further growth of 14.3% in 2012.  In terms of numbers of copies sold (not cash terms) the number of e-books sold in the British Isles more than doubled from 20.2 million copies in 2011 to 48 million units in 2012.  The total British Isles physical book market (fiction and non-fiction) in cash terms saw paperbacks (by themselves) drop 3.9% to £336 million while print hardback dropped 12%.  The average selling price of a print book increased in 2012 over 2011 by 1.4% to £6.41p but all of this increase was down to the rise in price of hardbacks that went up 3.6%; the average price of paperbacks fell by 0.3%.  SF/F sales in 2012 were down 10.7% to £36.7 million compared to 2011.  Now before you panic it really is worth having a nice cup of tea at this point and a bit of a contemplate because industries are complex and it is difficult to disentangle what is going on in a few lines but, troopers that we are, we are jolly well going to have a go. First off, you need to recall that in 2011 printed SF/F books grew by 7% over 2010. That last year (2012) SF/F paper title sales were down 10.7% over 2011, and that 2011 saw an increase of some 7% over 2010, means that SF/F paper format book sales saw a decline over two years (2010-2012) of only 4.5%.  Looking at the fiction market as a whole (both non-SF/F as well as SF/F) paper format book sales (including hardbacks) were down 4.5% to £397m in 2012 compared to 2011. This means that SF/F in 2012 made up a tad over 9.2% of the British Isles paper format fiction market. (In short, very broadly speaking, SF/F as a proportion of all fiction is holding its own.)  Now, if you have seen blog posts or convention panels on the future of paper versus e-books you might ask yourself whether the views expressed are based on real data of just opinion plucked out of vacuum?

E-book royalties for authors see some good deals. Rosetta now offer authors 50% net publisher receipt on e-book sales up to 2,500 units sold, and 60% above that. Amazon Kindle White Glove now offers 70% royalty on publisher receipts on e-books priced between £1.49 and £7.81 or 35% if the e-book is priced outside that range. How long these terms will be in place is far from certain. For comparison the standard royalty for e-book fiction in the British Isles is 25% and for academic non-fiction 15%. However such is the pressure on academic publishing that some big-player publishers are offering only 10%. Yet given that there is little incentive for academics to write (the various research assessment exercises – with their focus on research paper citation indices and not text book publication – if anything serve to dissuade academics from writing), it could be that if publishers wish to attract academic authors that they will have to increase their e-book royalties.

Barnes & Noble reportedly plans to close a third of its stores over the next decade. If this happens there will be about 20 store closures a year: 200 over the decade! +++ This news builds on previous news of Borders bookshop closures in the US and general bookshop troubles in Western Europe.

Bookshop closures harm overall book sales more than previously thought. Research by both Bowker Market Research UK and Enders Analysis concludes that the single most effective way of dismantling the physical book sector would be to accelerate the closure of bookshops. The value British bookshops bring to the industry in 2012 is estimated to be £450m and 21% of all consumer purchases (internet retail sites and mail order account for most of the rest).  The research shows that when a bookshop closes a third of its trade transfers to another shop. Some trade migrates to online sales but it is thought that most of the remaining two-thirds of sales are simply lost. It is thought that serendipity and browsing generate as much as two-thirds of British Isles bookshop sales. Indeed the past couple of years have seen a disturbing trend of people visiting bookshops to browse and then buy at discount on-line. Taking this in the light of last season's Amazon tax avoidance scandal, it does suggest that physical bookshops and on-line book retail are not competing on a level playing field.

Del Rey holds first twin, debut author, book launch. The Del Rey British imprint was launched in 2013 by Ebury Publishing which in turn is part of the Random House group. It is Random's principal SF/F imprint (though other Random ventures – and joint ventures – will continue to provide SF such as Dr Who books through BBC Books). Currently, nearly half the Del Rey list features women writers and will develop into a broad-based imprint covering the spectrum of science fiction and fantasy (including horror).   The London West End launch was presided over by Del Rey's editor, Michael Rowley, whose previous incarnation was as the Waterstone's book chain's SF/F buyer.   The first of the books launched was Liesel Schwartz A Conspiracy of Shadows which is a rollicking steampunk novel. Liesel herself does not consider 'steampunk as just another sub-genre but as an aesthetic cultural phenomenon'. Her writing influences include Cherie Priest, and Gail Carreden.  The other debut novelist being launched was E. J. Swift with Osiris. The story is set in a city in the near future characterised by a split between the wealthy elite and the poor masses. How this came about is in part due to a past environmental catastrophe. When the brother on one of an idle member of the privileged class mysteriously disappears, a wealthy socialite begins to investigate and see her world in a new light. Meanwhile a forthcoming brutal winter sees tensions build…   Though the author has had work published in Interzone, her writing has its roots outside of the genre. That Osiris turned out as SF was almost accidental but we think that, as she has always been a fan of David Attenborough's natural history programmes (and as fiction based on science tends to become science fiction), it was kind of inevitable.

The Spanish SF classic, Mundos en el Abismo [Worlds into the Abyss] gets a 25th anniversary re-print. The novel by Juan Miguel Aguilera and Javier Redal has been republished by Bibliopolis. The hard SF (the novel has some good science speculation), space-opera, military SF novel is part of the Akasa-Pupsa sequence of books.   (Possibly worthy of consideration for an SF Masterworks translation?)

Dr Who 50th anniversary re-issue of novels. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who this year, BBC Books will be reissuing eleven classic Doctor Who novels – one for each Doctor – from across their fiction range. Repackaged with new introductions, bold new covers, and 50th anniversary branding, they are not only a collectable set for fans, but a brilliant introduction to the depth and range of the Doctor Who list. All eleven novels will be published as £7.99 b-format paperbacks in March 2013. Authors notably include Mark Gatiss, Terrance Dicks and Stephen Cole. The novels are included in our Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases listing (and here we number the Doctors as if excluding Peter Cushing).

Germany's Perry Rhodan has become a computer game. Perry Rhodan is a very popular German space opera book series (even today it still keeps winning prizes), has even been on the big screen and over 2,500 novels have been published! Now there is a basic shoot 'em up computer game out for Rhodan aficionado gamers. Perry Rhodan - Kampf um Terra is available for Android, iOS, Windows and Mac.   You can see screen footage of the game here.

Poland's award-winning Before-Moon People sees a second volume published. Przedksiezycowi [Before-Moon People] by Anna Kantoch has just come out. The first volume came out in 2009 and won the Zajdel Award and Gold Distinction for the Jerzy Zulawski Literary Award.

Amazon and big six e-book publishers are sued again. Some US independent booksellers are concerned that Amazon and the big e-book publishers are being anti-competitive. When Amazon launched the Kindle in 2007, Amazon convinced publishers to sell e-books with DRM on its platform. The Kindle then became the dominant e-reader. You cannot read e-books with Amazon DRM on any e-reader but a Kindle, and you cannot read any e-books with DRM on a Kindle that does not come from Amazon. As for Nook, Apple, Google, Sony and Kobo, it is suggested that part of these publishers' non-public agreements with Amazon stipulate that they will not sell any non-DRM copies of the same books sold for Kindle. What the booksellers want is for Amazon and the big six to stop publishing and selling e-books with device and app-specific DRMs and further for the big six to allow high street bookshops to directly sell non-app specific DRM e-books published by the big six. (The afore is the core of the problem, but expect some obfuscation as the complainants use the term 'open source' in an odd way and that some book sellers have liked DRM [albeit not app-specific] as it is thought to cut book piracy; though any geek kid worth their salt can hack DRMs.)

PublishAmerica case dismissed by judge. PublishAmerica, the US vanity press publishing house, has again been sued. And again they manage to get out of trouble. PublishAmerica are known in the US for their costs and service that has resulted in criticism from the likes of 'Writer Beware'. Indeed we covered one of PA's activities in Europe when PA was selling would-be authors the 'opportunity' for their books to be in a catalogue circulated at the Edinburgh Book Festival and (again for a fee) potential authors purportedly to get a short message to J. K. Rowling… This time PublishAmerica got out of trouble from disgruntled would-be authors as their complaint was based on Maryland, US, consumer law. Consumer law is for consumers but, the judge argued, would-be authors are having a business relationship (not a consumer one) with PublishAmerica and so there is no case to answer under consumer law.

More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in September 2013. Meanwhile check out the forthcoming SF and forthcoming fantasy book lists sections (see the mini-index immediately below…).

 

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

Summer 2013

TV NEWS

Blake's 7 to return! The original British space opera series was created by Terry (Dr Who, Survivors) Nation and broadcast between 1978 and 1981. At its height it was watched by 10 million viewers in Britain (whose population then was around 54 million). It was the BBC's answer to Star Trek albeit with not as (hard to believe now) good effects but with scripts that equalled anything Trek offered plus elements of basic over-arching season story arcs. Joy in the news of the series' return is tempered with that US investment and production is behind it. Fremantle Media International is producing 13 hour-long episodes for SyFy and these will be written by Heroes writer Joe Pokaski. If there is any justice, Auntie might get the chance to broadcast albeit subsequent to SyFy.

Casting confirmed for Dr Who's 50th anniversary fact-based drama Space and Time. The programme will chart the creation and production of the first Dr Who series. The 90-minute programme has been produced and scripted by Mark Gatiss, currently a regular Doctor Who scriptwriter. Will play Dr Who's original producer Verity Lambert, and David Bradley will play 'first Doctor' William Hartnell who died in 1975. David Bradley has previously played the character of Solomon in 2012 Dr Who episode 'Dinosaurs on a Spaceship'. Doctor Who was first broadcast on 23 November 1963 with a four-part adventure called as 'An Unearthly Child'.

Matt Smith to leave Dr Who? Very few have probably not heard of this but, in case you have not, the word is (there has been no official announcement) that Matt is to leave the series either at the end of the year or soon after. If it is at the end of the year then the 50th anniversary edition (which apparently will see some of the earlier Doctors and Billie Piper) will be his last. If this is the case then the new Doctor will have already been chosen and the BBC keeping this closely under wraps. Matt Smith's contract expires in November so it may just be that he could appear in a few episodes after the 50th anniversary special.  Of course Matt has said things that can be suggestive that he is leaving the show before, so it could be that this story needs to be treated with caution.

Game of Thrones television producers get nervous as their production of episodes threatens to overtake George R. R. Martin's writing the novels. The pressure Martin is under is 'like a freight train' bearing down says Martin. The TV show's producers, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, visited Martin who still has two more novels to write. The choice they faced was whether or not to put the television series into hiatus. This would not only disrupt the broadcasting schedule momentum but there are implications for actors' work commitments. Though the problem is a few year's away, Martin still has two novels to go but the television series sees 12 new episodes produced a year. Martin was able to give them the heads up on the novels' likely direction so that forthcoming scripts do not conflict with what will happen further down the line. It looks like the show will ultimately last 7 or 8 seasons. +++ See also above Martin's sales last year and Martin other news.

Continuum, the US time travel series, has been renewed for a second season. The second season on SyFy will consist of 13 episodes (up from 10 in the first season) and will continue the adventures of future cop Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) as she tracks a terrorist organization in modern-day Vancouver. The all-new episode season will premiere Friday, June 7 at 10PM (ET/PT). New episodes of Continuum pick up after the season 1 finale when Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols/Criminal Minds, Alias) fought a ticking clock to prevent a cataclysmic act of terrorism. She is a police detective from the future who finds herself trapped in the present day, swept along when a group of fanatical terrorists escaped their planned execution in 2077 by travelling back in time to our present.

Alphas is cancelled. The second season is therefore the last. Arguably this is for the best. It took television until the last years of the 20th century to discover that you can have a multi-season story arc with Babylon 5 and combine this with sensawunda (sense-of-wonder). Today, all too many series have the latter, a neat concept, but they neither know how to explore it or to have a story arc. Alphas was bereft of a story and the special power exploration was limited and not even as good as Heroes, which itself ran out of story arc with season two. When will they learn?

Zombieland is to become a TV series. This is somewhat ironic as the 2009 film was originally pitched as a web-series show, but after the networks passed, the writers reworked it for a feature film. However since the film did well at the box office, the web series is now on and a new cast assembled (the film cast have all got new career commitments). It will be posted in half hour episodes on Amazon online.  [Trailer for the film here.]

Babylon 5 and Matrix creators team up to make Sense 8 series. J. Michael (Babylon 5) Straczynski and the Wachowski (Matrix) brothers are producing Sense8 for Netflix. According to the early promo it is a 'global tale of minds linked and souls hunted'. The plan so far is for 10 episodes.

Human is J.J. Abrams pilot for a possible new series. It is a futuristic cop action show where LAPD human officers are partnered with androids.  John Kennex (being played by Karl Urban) is a well regarded, but emotionally withdrawn, police officer after being critically injured in the call of duty. His android partner is Dorian (being played by Michael Ealy) but who has a better understanding of humanity than Kennex.

Kirk's Star Trek phaser rifle sells for US$231,000 (£150,000). The sale was made at this year’s Hollywood Legends auction. The phaser rifle was designed for Star Trek‘s second pilot. Auctioneers expected it to go for about $50,000, however never under-estimate the strength of the geek pound (or even geek dollar). Star Trek series creator Gene Roddenberry was asked to retool Star Trek‘s original pilot to make it more action-heavy. Roddenberry response included hiring the toy manufacturer Reuben Klamer to make a 'really big gun' for Captain Kirk.  +++ The other genre sale of note was an original of the genie bottles used on the first season of NBC’s I Dream of Jeannie and that fetched US$41,600 (£26,800).

Actress Karen (Dr Who's Amy Pond) Gillien has appeared in a short, zombie commercial spoof. -- See the walking Dead skin care short video here.

 

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

Summer 2013

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

2013 Worldcon Progress Report 3 out. A Worldcon's PR3 is arguably the key Progress Report as sufficient time has passed since the Worldcon bid was won for potential registrants to see whether or not that year's Worldcon has a properly organised and managed team, yet sufficiently far away for those whose diaries always full a few months ahead. This year's Worldcon is to be held 29th August –2nd September in San Antonio, Texas, USA. The PR is available from the convention's website (the link for which – if you are viewing this page in 2013 – is on our convention diary page) as a PDF. Although it is perhaps just a little large at over 4MB it is a good sign that it is not as unwieldy (over 10MB) as those from some poorly organised cons and so this PR can be easily downloaded and transferred for portable viewing.   Leaving aside the convention Chairs' introduction – "We have articles on several of our Guests of Honor" but sadly no such articles are in the PR – there's nearly everything else you are likely to need to make a decision to attend at this stage in the proceedings. There are the basics including hotel information and here the two principal con hotels are offering rooms (both single and double) at US$154 (or a bee's knee from £100) and more details on the con website. There are the art show and dealer's details. For young families there is an outline of the childcare plans (for up to 10 hours per day) as well as mention of the kiddie programme for those aged 6 – 12. A brief outline of facilities for disabled mobility, together with the sub-committee members responsible, is also good to see. As for the programme (or 'program' as they call it), there is news that the programme participant suggestion form is now available online. No news of the science programme yet but no doubt this will come. Plus, there is a variety of other stuff including exhibits. Here there will be a Dr. Who exhibit; a Science Fiction music event; a fan-owned art exhibit of works that have been out of the public eye for years; and a special Darrell K. Sweet exhibit.   And then there is all the usual stuff such as the proposed changes to the WSFS constitution and the Hugo nominations form (though we announced the on-line Hugo nominations form in last season's news). The constitution changes see the drop of semi-prozines having to have an average print run of over 1,000 copies as a qualifying criterion, and this is worth a mention as it is the closest WSFS is ever likely to come to signalling the demise of paper fanzines' domination over the fan scene. As for Hugo nominations, for what it is worth we provided some of our suggestions for 2011's best SF books and best SF films (with links to trailers) in last season's news… And if all this tickles your fancy, there are the Worldcon registration rate details but dated: best go to the website as the dates to which these apply in the PR are muddled. (Unless you can decipher "Note that these rates will expire on December 31, 2012" immediately followed by "Attending (Rates through December 31, 2012 | Rates Beginning January 1". But as this is the only confusing thing in the PR, and there are rates on the website, one can perhaps forgive the lapse.)
          Anyway, from their separate press release, the principal membership rate change from Wednesday 1st May 2013 are:-
          - Full Adult Attending Membership rates will increase from US$200 to US$220
          - The cost of converting from Adult Supporting to Adult Attending Membership will increase from US$140 to US$160.
As part of the convention's policy to encourage families and children to attend LoneStarCon 3, the following attending membership rates will remain unchanged:-
          - Children (0-16 years old) stay at $75
          - Young Adults (17-21) stay at $110
There will also be day-rate memberships that can be bought on the door.

The 2014 Worldcon will be in London called Loncon 3. We previously covered Britain winning the Worldcon bid and GoHs. Progress Report 1 has just come out with GoH profiles: a little on the large size at over 8MB given the page count, but interesting and all you need to know at this early stage. As for other news, importantly Loncon 3 want you to know (if you have not yet registered) that the membership rates are to change on 1st May.
- Full Adult Attending membership rates will increase from £95 to £105 (US$170 / €135).
- Family membership rates, for two adults and two or more children, will increase from £230 to £245 (US$405 / €315).
- Discounts for pre-supporters of the London in 2014 bid will expire.
As part of the convention's policy to encourage families and children to attend Loncon 3, the following Attending membership rates, based on the person's age as of 14 August 2014, for Infants (0-5 years old), Children (6-15 years old) and Young Adults (16-25) will remain unchanged:
- Infants (0-5 years old) at £2 (US$3 / €3).
- Children (6-15 years old) at £30 (US$50 / €40).
- Young Adults (16-25 years old) at £65 (US$110 / €85).
The rate for a Supporting membership will also stay unchanged at £25 (US$40 / €35). (Supporting membership gets you the convention publications posted to you and also Hugo voting rights if you register in time. Attending membership gets you all that plus the right to attend the event.)
          We understand that these new rates will hold throughout the summer but will, as is usual for Worldcons, increase in the autumn so expect our next season's news page to see a further rise.
          As many in Europe (or indeed the London area) may not have been to a Worldcon, our recommendation is to register early (before further price rises) and get the paper versions of the Progress Reports as well as the right to nominate and vote for the Hugos.

And now for the bids to host future Worldcons…

The 2015 Orlando Worldcon (US) bid is for the con to be at the World's most popular entertainment resort, Walt Disney World. The facility, Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, has enough hotel rooms and function space to accommodate all of Worldcon. Indeed, it will be one con in one hotel! But Worldcons have become expensive to attend. The Orlando bid plans on reducing the cost of attending Worldcon, committing a greater effort to outreach to new fans, and keeping the traditions that make Worldcon great. The theme for the Worldcon, should Orlando win, is 'Science Fiction is Bigger Than You Think!' Orlando wants to showcase how far-reaching science fiction has become not only with the written word, but with all forms of media.  [Links to current bid websites (those that have them) can be found on http://worldcon.org/bids/bids.html.]

The 2015 Helsinki Worldcon (Finland) bid is for a European country that for many years has hosted well run large conventions (four figure attendance has been the norm for many years). In addition to presenting Helsinki, all of Finland, and its SF fandom with its unique history and traditions, what the Helsinki bid is hoping to achieve is the establishment of a truly European fandom in connection with Worldcon. By having a second European Worldcon right after London 2014, we can build a continuity with the fans that attend there to come to their second Worldcon on this continent. It hopes to establish connections between the various groups of fans across the continent in a way that would not be possible without the attraction of Worldcon, and start to build an identity as a European fans, in addition of course to our national fandoms.  [Links to current bid websites (those that have them) can be found on http://worldcon.org/bids/bids.html.]

Spokane in 2015 Worldcon bid is to bring the World Science Fiction Convention to the Northwest of the US! It has chosen the beautiful city of Spokane to host the Worldcon, at the edge of Riverfront Park, the site of the 1974 World's Fair. The site is in the centre of Spokane, surrounded by restaurants, shopping, and cultural and tourist attractions. The organisers, the Seattle Westercon Organizing Committee (SWOC) knows how to run a con, having run four successful Westercons and the 2005 NASFiC. Washington state is a great place to live, so it has a wonderful community of fans, authors, artists, and other creative people and they want to share their talent with the rest of the world. The bid is fanning out across the world to share the message about their bid follow it on Twitter at @spokanein2015.  [Links to current bid websites (those that have them) can be found on http://worldcon.org/bids/bids.html.]

Worldcon 2018. At the moment we only have news of one bid for this year and that is for New Orleans. A whole new generation of fen have grown up on the Gulf Coast since their last Worldcon and they are really excited about bringing the fannish world back to New Orleans. New Orleans is a world-renowned destination city. The food, music and sights speak for themselves and people know the city as a 24-hour town, with fun to be had day or night. What you may not know is that it has a world-class aquarium and zoo, great museums including the National World War II Museum, and much more for the entire family. The con will (should it win) be located right in Downtown New Orleans. The New Orleans Metropolitan Area had a population of 1.3 million and growing as of 2010. The proposed Worldcon will be within a six hours drive of over 18 million people, including the cities of Houston and Memphis. In 2018 it will have been 30 years since New Orleans last hosted Worldcon (NOLACon II) and it will be the Tri-centennial of the founding of New Orleans. 3 Worldcons, 3 decades, 3 hundred years... can that be a coincidence? [Links to current bid websites (those that have them) can be found on http://worldcon.org/bids/bids.html.]

And of course there are other future Worldcon bids but we are particularly keeping an eye on New Zealand for 2020. We understand that they have been looking into the practicalities and plan to confirm the seriousness of their bid next year or shortly after.   [Links to current bid websites (those that have them) can be found on http://worldcon.org/bids/bids.html.]

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

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

 

Meanwhile over in Europe…

The 2013 Eurocon was held in Kiev, Ukraine. It saw 288 attend the actual Eurocon but a further 3,000 attended the associated book fayre that was open to the public. It was a somewhat different affair to the 2006 Eurocon held in Kiev. Whether this was due to a slightly different organising team or the recession is hard to say. There were some difficulties beyond the committee's control principally down to the general election last year which delayed the confirmation of governmental sponsorship as well as the global depression which made sponsorship thin on the ground. (Ukrainian Eurocons are the type of Eurocon that are sponsorship dependent.) And of course Stockholm (2011) and Zagreb (2012) were always going to be hard acts to follow. None of these factors were in the organising committee's control, though the committee did not get up to steam sufficiently early: arguably as soon as the bid is won, Eurocon organisers really need to get cracking as 24 months passes faster than you think. One major problem was the venue. The convention was on a markedly split site (not just different locations close to each other but some distance away) and this did nobody any favours. The open-plan Expo site, though very modern and very large, was also so noisy that the loud sound really was an issue. Apparently, the principal partner (the Medvin book fayre) at the time the Kiev Eurocon won its bid for 2013, had agreed to use the same venue as in 2006. However they changed their mind and so the Eurocon either had to abandon its sponsor (and so in all likelihood cancel the Eurocon) or go with them to the Expo site. That is why on one of the days most of programme was run at a different location away from ExpoPlaza. The programme was a good one (the committee get marks here), although once again there could have been more topics that enabled a mix on actual items of eastern and western European participants but apparently a number of foreign fans cancelled. Even so a good number of the programme items were given in English or English and Russian. And there was a good spread of guest authors from the Ukraine and Russia plus Christopher Priest from the west, and they once again Kiev organised a post-convention Chernobyl trip.&nsbp; Christopher Priest's Guest of Honour speech went down particularly well.  One thing caused a small stir among the locals and that was the book launch of a title by Olexandr Turshynov who is a member of the Ukrainian political opposition. This launch attracted a fair bit of media attention.  In short, this was a Eurocon with decided strengths and weaknesses. It may not have been the best of Eurocons of the past couple of decades, but it was most certainly far from the worst and for that the committee can relax.  We hope to have a standalone review of the convention next season.
          The Eurocon Awards were also presented.
          The European SF Society (ESFS) held its business meeting. All but one of the officers changed and the remaining officer changed roles. In this case the retention of this individual was arguably a good outcome due to their extensive historical knowledge of ESFS. The new Chair and Secretary bring very welcome, hands-on Eurocon-organising experience to the table. The challenge now is to draft a strategic development programme for the Society. This will not be easy, but neither will it be difficult if the officers consult Eurocon regulars. The trick will be to build in on-going consultation into the ESFS fabric and then delegate to those suggesting good ideas to take them forward so that the officers do not become overburdened.

The 2014 Eurocon will be held in Dublin, Ireland. Further to previous news on-line registration is now available (if you are reading this in 2013/4 then the link is on our convention diary page). Beyond that, they are still sorting out a plan of action for the programme, which is more about getting the general ideas of what they want to cover. At this point all of the organising committee's progress has been structural, getting things like contracts with main and overflow hotels sorted, and working out what technology is needed, and where it can be sourced. There is still over a year to go. Expect more news in our Spring 2014 season news page.

The 2015 Eurocon will be held in St Petersburg, Russia. The bidding session took place at this year's Eurocon in Kiev and St Petersburg was unopposed apart from a spoof bid for Martinique. It has to be said that the St Petersburg crew really will have their work cut out to attract western Europeans. Not only do they have to come out of the shadow of the last Russian Eurocon, their pre-bid profile was so low that even our own Russian correspondents either knew nothing of the bid or did not know with any surety as to what was happening. Given that St Petersburg put down a pre-bid marker in 2012 this has been a little disappointing: they have had ample time to spread advance news of their bid to the European SF community. We mention this as whether or not the St Petersburg Eurocon gets much advance coverage on this site is firmly down to that convention's organisers (not us, as we can only report what we are told).

Future Eurocon pre-bid markers. The marker Antwerp put down in 2012 for 2016 is still holding. It would be great to have a Eurocon in Belgium and lets hope they have a good team.  The markers Helsinki (Finland) and Dortmund (Germany) also put down in 2012 for 2017 also are still holding. Our view is as before that both these are strong Eurocon bids (Finncon lends itself to being a Eurocon and the last Dortmund Eurocon was soon after the re-unification of West and East Germany and successfully reflected this). Helsinki is also bidding for a Worldcon in 2015 (see item a little earlier on) and might be better served focussing on that for the time being. Anyway, we will see.

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

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

 

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

Summer 2013

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

Sci-Fi Spectacular 7 was held in Chicago, US. As usual it was a one-day, single-stream programme of films together with appearances by a couple of guests. This year's guests were Rank Henenlotter (dir. of Basket Case, Brain Damage, Frankenhooker) and Jay Bonansinga (co-author of The Walking Dead: Rise Of The Governor & Walking Dead: Road To Woodbury). One highlight was a competition for a retro-sci-fi film trailer: a Roger Corman 1 min. 50's Trailer Competition. Here is one of the three finalists on YouTube: Screams on Planet Zero! - Faux 50's Sci-Fi Trailer. Enjoy.

Sci-Fi Weekender held with mixed reaction to changes. To re-cap: Sci-Fi Weekender started out as SFX Weekender three years ago. Last year's SFX Weekender attracted some 4,000 making it Britian's largest regular megacon (albeit smaller than the roughly decadal Brit Worldcons). SFX Weekender was run jointly by SFX magazine (Britain's leading SF magazine albeit a little skewed to sci-fi cult TV) and Chic Festivals. SFX knew the subject matter and Chic knew how to put on events. Any problems that there were, were down to the lack of affordable UK venues to hold megacons and the inevitable teething problems associated with putting on inaugural unique events. After the third event SFX decided that they would concentrate on their magazine, but Chic decided to continue…
          Jump to the present and the event was re-branded as Sci-Fi Weekender. It attracted even more people and was sold out a couple of months in advance of the event!  So how was it?  Well, before reviewing the comments from forums and blogs (and there were many comments on-line), it is important to remember that this was Chic's first time going it alone and so there has to be a little latitude given. The comments can be broken down into 'Pros' and 'Cons'.
          Pros:-
          Venue accommodation better
          Venue staff really friendly (very many comments here)
          Food better
          Good dealers' room (but needs to be larger and no panels there)
          Panels mainly good (need more)
          Good film programme (universal praise – not a bad word – here)
          VIP membership began to mean something (but more than one discount card per group as people go their own way. Perhaps have special ticket IDs to act jointly as discount cards?)
          Cons:-
          Initial registration queue far, far too long
          Programme really felt decidedly light
          Panels need to be restricted to just 4 participants (possibly including the moderator who needs to have an advance prep hour with panel)
          There needs to be somewhere (large) to sit down for a quiet chat over a coffee or pint without having to order food and bombarded with sound.
          The sound of the main hall had poor quality and it was far too crowded (sound generally was a problem)
          Some of the accommodation was bitterly cold (and it was N. Wales in March!)
          A very small minority (but enough for this complaint to crop up a number of times) were aggressive both swearing and border physical. Some of these were thought to be public gate-crashers.
To sum up. The SFX dimension (who really know about the genre) was missing and the programme felt a little threadbare. Though it is good to see new authors, where was the balance with big names? Chic really do need to know their customers' interests and if not then hire an SFX consultant. Venue logistics need reviewing. Aggressive elements need to be dissuaded from attending lest the event get a reputation for being unsafe (event's behaviour policy needs to be upfront and non-registrants kept out). An organiser or two needs to monitor twitter and pick-up on problems. Having said that, many of those that went felt that if concerns were met that Sci-Fi Weekender might have longevity as an annual event and so many were prepared to give Chic another chance next year. All the problems were solvable with just a little care and thought but minimal expense. Let's see what happens.

France and Belgium saw a couple of SF events in the Spring. The Festival Zone Franche, Bagneux (near Paris), saw a good number of authors. Guests of Honour included authors: Melanie Fazi, Pierre Pevel, Pierre Dubois and Fabien Clavel. The art GoH was Jean-Pierre Nicollet, and the academic GoH was the ethnologist Dominique Camus.  The end of March saw the 'Festival Trolls et Légendes' in Belgium. Meanwhile looking forward there will be the Imaginales 2013 megacon in Epinal, and the French national convention 22nd -25th August in Aubenas.  The submission period for the Pippin challenge ended at the end of march and there were around 470 ultra-short stories.  [Don't forget to see the website links to current/forthcoming national conventions visit science fiction convention diary page.]

Germany's Dortcon still small but numbers up yet again. The 7th Dortcon saw 264 attend which represents another step in a modest but constant rise since 2003. Dortcon may be small but this biennial event is an important gathering in Germany's SF calendar. Charles Stross was this year's Anglophone Guest of Honour. During the Sunday morning discussion he gave some impression of possible future developments in genetics. Including his entertainingly floating the speculative kite genetically re-designed racoons could do the work on agricultural fields better and cheaper than humans: a strange and also fascinating concept.   [Don't forget to see the website links to current/forthcoming national conventions visit science fiction convention diary page.]

Poland sees 13th in megacon, Pyrkon series. Though it is not Poland's natcon, last year's event saw around 4,000 attend (with one post-con estimate of 6,200) which makes it the largest SF event in Poland, and this year's was even bigger with around 12,000. The event, though SF/F and multigenre (with programme areas covering film, video games, literature and science), has a strong roll-playing game focus. It was held in Poznan, which is a favourite venue city for SF cons. This year's event was different as it had a programme stream in English. If it attracts more from other countries and/or English-speaking guests from other countries, then they will probably retain this innovation in the future.  The Zlote Maski (Golden Masks) were also presented.  [Don't forget to see the website links to current/forthcoming national conventions visit science fiction convention diary page.]

Russia's 13th Roskon was held just outside of Moscow. This year numbers were up to just over 300. Most attending were from Russia and associated states (Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Ukraine) but there were a handful also from Germany, Great Britain and Spain. Britain's presence was in the form of independent space consultant Gerry Webb (but billed in the programme as from the European Space Agency).  There were the usual workshops but this year, for the first time, there were a cluster of items billed as a 'Futurological Congress' (which western fans might consider as a science programme). Jerry's contribution was on the topic of large, multi-generation ship design.  There was also an item in remembrance for Boris Strugatsky.  On the audiovisual SF front there were screenings of short films as well as one feature, A Cossack's Tale based on the fantasy novel by Andrei Belyanina and with an introduction by him.  There was also a screening of part of the forthcoming TV series Mediator based on the novels Chief Noon and House of Wandering (the latter a 1976 extension of the former) by Alexander Isakovich Mirera (who also writes as Alexander Zerkalov). The show is seen by its makers as an important attempt to revive the forgotten genre of Russian televisual science fiction, and the show's creator and co-producer Yusuf Bakhshiev was on hand to answer questions. The series is a 20-part SF thriller in which an alien invasion is attempted back in the 1960s. Today a Russian city is in part under alien control… The series' makers are trying to keep to the spirit of the novel.  As usual Roskon also saw the presentation of the Roskon Awards.

Britain's Eastercon (its natcon) has just been held in Bradford. The 64th Eastercon, called Eight Squared Con saw numbers down from last year's G. R.. R. Martin boosted Olympus. This was only to be expected but attendance was still respectable and enough for the venue. Yorkshire’s very own specialist publisher got the convention underway launching new books by five of Britain's leading SF and Fantasy writers: Universes by Stephen Baxter; Starship Seasons by Eric Brown; A Very British History by Paul McAuley; Martian Sands by Lavie Tidhar and Growing Pains by Ian Whates.  There was some – albeit light for a four day event – programming for science and SF concateneers with the panels: 'What's Big in Microbiology', 'The Far Future' (humanity at the time of universe heat death), 'Patrick Moore' memorial, 'Near Earth Asteroids Say Bang!', 'Selling Space' (funding big science research) and 'The Clay Institute Problems in Mathematics'. This year there was only one solo science talk: 'Pure and Applied Mathematics' by Nicholas Jackson. As is usual when it happens, a live screening of the first episode of the new season of Dr Who was a big draw.  Sad news, a fan (a former BECCON colleague of the SF2 Concatenation editors) had a heart attack but fortunately recovered and was able to re-join the convention.  As usual the British Eastercon saw the presentation of the BSFA Awards.

The site for the 2015 Eastercon (the British natcon) was not voted on at this year's event. There were no bids for the 2015 Eastercon, so both 2015 and 2016 will be voted on at next year’s Eastercon (Satellite 4) in Glasgow. There is apparently a SE England bid forming for the 2015 Eastercon.

This year's Sci-Fi London film fest sees move from London's West End. The Apollo (the former venue) it seems is under new management and so after many years there it is time for a new home. So this year's event, 30th April – 6th May, will be in Stratford in east London. This may seem a downgrading from the former central London west end venue, but Stratford has both rail, tube (metro) and DLR (district light rail) connections. Sci-Fi London also have a good price deal with a local three star hotel (very competitive given normal London rates).  Among the many films there will be the usual sprinkling of European and British premieres.  Offerings will include Alter Egos (exploring superheroes secret ID problems) , Stress Position (SFnal) , Dead Meat Walking (zombie horror) which gives you an idea of the broad genre spread, though we always look forward to their space-set film choice. This year's fest will open with Byzantium, a new film by Neil Jordan, starring Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton and Jonny Lee Miller. It concerns a mother and daughter vampire duo.  Also there will be once more the Sci-Fi-London 48 Hour Challenge which is SFL's ploy to get more local SF film made. The idea is that amateur film making teams turn up and get given just a sentence or two of script and a prop which they must include in an SF film they will then make over the next 48 hours. The quality of the shorts produced has increased exponentially over the years, thanks to a combination of better and more affordable film/video-making equipment, and the enticement of the feature development deals for winners that has attracted a higher calibre of filmmaker. Prizes for this year's Challenge will include cameras from Canon this year's competition's main partner. This year's jury ncludes Guillermo Del Toro and Benedict Cumberbatch, along with Hollywood producer and IndieGoGo film geek Brad Wyman.  And of course there will be other happenings including the Arthur C. Clarke SF Award presentation for best SF literary novel of the previous year.

Spain to see Celsius 232 mega-convention and literary fest in August. This is the second Celsius 232 convention and it will be held from 31st July 31 - 3rd August 3 in Aviles (Asturias) [ www.celsius232.es ]. Joe Abercrombie, Robert J. Sawyer, Christopher Priest, Nina Allan, Steven Erikson, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Juan de Dios Garduno, Emilio Bueso, Virginia Perez de la Puente and David Monteagudo are among the guests.

24th Festival of Fantastic Films coming this (2013) autumn advises early hotel booking due to political pressure. Manchester's Festival of Fantastic Films is one of those smaller, more intimate, conventions that anyone who has a semblance of an interest in SF/horror/fantasy films, both classic past and current independent, simply has to have sampled. For example, its independent film competition attracts entries from across Europe and beyond, while its classic film screenings show offerings very rarely (if at all) broadcast on TV these days as well as being shown in the way they were meant to be seen using celluloid film projectors And then of course there are the directors and actors who attend… All well and good, but this year's Fest in September (see the convention diary page for weblink if reading this in 2013) will be a few days before the annual gathering of a major national political party. As the hotel is well within 4 minutes walk of Manchester's principal rail station (Piccadilly), not to mention the city centre's main hotels, but smaller with a less overwhelming character, it has in the past proven popular with politicians seeking to get away from it all yet close to the action. Consequently, the hotel has in the past found that some politicians and their support teams book their rooms at the Fest's hotel a couple of days before their own event for preparatory networking. So the hotel have advised Fest's organising committee, who have in turn contacted us, that it would be advisable for Fest attendees seeking accommodation in the Fest hotel to book early. Of course, if you do not mind staying in a neighbouring hotel then you need not worry. And, if by chance you are into SF/horror/fantasy films, past classic and current independent, and have never been to the Fest then it really is worth going – most attendees are return regulars or semi-regulars. Furthermore, the Fest's organisers are getting on in years and we have already lost the Fest's founder, besides which Britain's centrally located Manchester makes for a great city, long-weekend break. Progress Report 1 is already out, but is largely a review of last year's Fest. Progress Report 2 should be out shortly after mid-summer with news of guests and films, but to be honest it is not worth waiting to book up as the film selection is always nicely varied, the three parallel programme streams provide choice, and the half dozen actors and directors on hand very largely tend to be genial as well as interesting (one of the advantages of a smaller event). So book now is the message (don't worry about using the non-savable, return PDF booking form on their website just note the details they need to register you and send them an e-mail or snail mail letter should you require a record of what you sent, or alternatively print out the form, fill it in, scan and return).   [The website links to current/forthcoming festival is on our science fiction convention diary page.]

Ireland's short SF/F/H Film festival, The Golden Blasters, is open for submissions. See www.goldenblasters.com. The following are the entry deadlines:-
          Early Bird Entry Deadline: 30th April 2013
          Standard Deadline: 30th June 2013
          Final Deadline: 31st July 2013
          WAB Extended: 20th August 2013
The film festival will be taken place on the Saturday evening of Octocon (12th October – see our sci fi convention diary page for links if you are reading this in 2013/4).

Nine Worlds attempt to bring an SF Utopiales / DragonCon style megacon to Britain. With the British natcon, UK Eastercon, these days attracting 600 or so and, these days, frequently with a largely litcrit focus and its regulars getting on the old side (greying), we do not actually have a 'convention' that attracts many thousands and caters for genre's complete spectrum (including its cinematic and televisual dimensions), all ages and the exotic science from which much of it springs.   True, the roughly decadal British Worldcon attracts around 5,000 but then that is roughly decadal and also book dominated, and Worldcon fandom is also greying.   True, the SFX (now Sci-Fi) Weekenders get a couple of thousand and a more younger fandom but that event is really more rooted in 'sci fi' and spectacle rather than community and discussion, though there are a few authors that attend (and who are well received).   True, Sci-Fi London also sees a few thousand but that is a speculative fiction film fest (even if it has one-off regular items into other fields such as with the Clarke SF presentations).   True, megacons are more about big name SF media (sci fi) and cult TV spectacle. Conversely, mainstream conventions are smaller and have a more literary and cinematic, more about trope discussion and SF community member interaction. However there is more than enough room for both types of convention in the year's SF diary let alone a hybrid of the two.   In short, Britain does not have an event that caters for all things geek: SF as in books, film and television, science, costuming, gaming, etc.
          It is probably best to let Nine Worlds describe it themselves. They say:-
"The idea behind Nine Worlds is to create a large fan-run multi-genre geek event in London. For years we've been going to huge US sci-fi cons like Dragon*Con and GenCon and SDCC, and we got to wondering why nothing like that exists in the UK. France can drum up over 20,000 sci-fi fans for Utopiales, even Finland can find 15,000 fans for FinnCon. But when it comes to large, fan-driven, residential, multi-genre sci-fi cons in the UK, pickings are pretty slim.
          That said, we're not really a sci-fi con either; we're more than that. We started off self-defining as a sci-fi con because there aren't really any other models (or words) for what we're trying to create. But we always intended to be inclusive of all kinds of things from board games to costumes to Dr Who fandom to rocketry. As we're been developing the project, the label Sci-Fi Con has been fitting less and less well, and eventually, we decided that GeekFest is a better description. And while there'll be lots of sci-fi/fantasy TV/film & lit stuff going on at Nine Worlds, there'll be even more other stuff like science and creative writing and filmmaking, that have no direct link to sci-fi (other than a degree of overlap in fan bases).
          We're really looking to make Nine Worlds about fan-led events, and having conversations with creators (writers, directors), rather than focusing on merch[andise] and celeb signings. The merch' and celeb market feels pretty well covered by the soulless corporate expos. We've rented out the entire conference space and hotel rooms of two large neighbouring Heathrow conference hotels for the weekend. So, we have lots of space, which is great because we've got lots and lots of content organised into a couple dozen tracks.
"
          Nine Worlds is certainly a brave, if not inevitable (given trends in other countries), venture. Importantly it is fan-led (not commercial). True, with the first of its kind in Britain there are bound to be some rough edges, but this should not put off the organisers and we should all be a little forgiving of any misjudgements that are bound to take place with the inaugural convention. The tone of the organisers' website certainly makes it seem as if the organisers have their hearts in the right place and this may well see the start of a welcome addition to Britain's SF calendar and indeed for Science-SF Concateneers and other Big Bangers. Indeed being right next to Heathrow means that it may even attract some visitors from overseas, and the number of hotels within Heathrow's free public bus zone should provide enough bed space from those not in the London area unable to do a daily commute.   Let's see what happens. [Cut 'n paste link - http://nineworlds.co.uk ]

Canada's SF will be explored at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario at a weekend conference in September. Entitled 'Science Fiction: The Interdisciplinary Genre' from Friday, September 13, through Sunday, September 15. Special guests at the conference are author Robert J. Sawyer, Order of Canada member John Robert Colombo, author Julie E. Czerneda, editor David G. Hartwell, author Élisabeth Vonarburg, author Robert Charles Wilson, and Chris Szego of Bakka Phoenix Books. This could be the largest academic conference about science fiction in Canada in 2013, if not the biggest academic conference on Canadian science fiction ever. The conference will be open to the general public. Dedicated website yet to be announced but you can Google “Science Fiction: The Interdisciplinary Genre” + "McMaster University" and by mid-summer (2013) that will bound to get you somewhere.

NASFic bids for 2014.The North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFic) has a two bids for 2014.   NASFic is a less well known a series of conventions in Europe. It is effectively North America's equivalent of Eurocon that is held when the Worldcon that year is held outside of N. America. As 2014 sees the Worldcon in Britain there will be a vote on the bid at this year's 2013 Worldcon in San Antonio, Texas. Effort is made so as to try to avoid date clashes between NASFic and that year's Worldcon.   We have details below for the Detroit bid.

The Detroit 2014 NASFic bid highlights that Detroit is a really exciting place right now. It is a city undergoing renewal, and figuring out what it wants to be in the 21st century. And the bid team are really thrilled about the possibility of showing North American fandom all that Detroit has to offer. The convention (should it win) will have a prime location in the centre of a revitalized Detroit downtown, in a fan-friendly hotel with all rooms, convention programming and parties under one roof. Detroit itself is a central location for both the US and Canada, and is easily accessible by car or air. The theme of the bid (and the con, should it win) is 'Driving the Future'. The con will be inspired by the automotive history of Detroit, and use that as a launching point for a celebration of innovation, technology, and science, along with SF. The primary focus will be on where science fiction, technology, and human inventiveness will take us next. The con would tap into Detroit's local fandom with its vibrant active community of fans and authors, as well as filkers, techies, geeks, and 'makers'. The bid has a strong committee with many years of conrunning experience, including a former Worldcon vice-chair and several committee members with Worldcon department head experience. [Links to current bid websites (those that have them) can be found on http://worldcon.org/bids/bids.html.]

For a list of national and major conventions and their web links check out our convention diary.

 

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

Summer 2013

NET WATCH

The Hacker collective Anonymous has itself been hacked. The relatively new group, the Rustle League said it had hacked Anonymous' @Anon_Central Twitter account that has 160,000 followers. Embarrassingly, the hack is thought to have been made possible due to poor password practice (such as using the same password for a number of functions).

YouTube backtracks and re-instates search filters. Last season YouTube disabled its 'view count', 'relevance' and 'upload date' search filters. Instead YouTube, now owned by Google, had these search filters on Google Chrome. So the move, some might cynically say, might have been made to encourage Google Chrome uptake. However, while the search filters were popular, not everyone wants Google Chrome as their preferred browser (MS Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox are currently the two most popular browsers), and so YouTube has re-instated its 'view count', 'relevance' and 'upload date' search filters.

Frightlibrary.org has been updated for reading straight off the Smart Phone web browser and large monitors. Aside from the site's owners own work, it contains about 350 public domain files of fiction with old SF/F classics. http://frightlibrary.org/fright2.htm#novels .

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

Google glasses get second prototype limited test release. High tech glasses used for virtual reality have long (at least since the 1980s) been an SF sub-trope, and such glasses used for enhanced viewing since the 1990s (notably with William Gibson's 1993 novel Virtual Light) and these days seasoned SF afficionado's are just waiting for the internet-mediated version. Indeed last year (2012) Google held a limited prototype release of its glasses. Now Google has made further refinements and is asking those who purchased the prototypes for feedback. The glasses can be used to take pictures and record video, as well as share content directly via e-mail or social networks. Voice commands are used to control the device. Other features appeared to include Skype-like video, and other related information such as weather reports and map directions. It all appears in a small, translucent square in the top right of the wearer's field of vision. A new YouTube video demonstrates the device.

 

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

Summer 2013

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

Positron (antimatter) excess detected in space. The first results from the International Space Station's Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer confirm a presence of an excess of positrons. One speculation is that these are the result of dark matter collisions.

British science papers from taxpayers funded research to be freely available. The argument is that the taxpayer has paid for the research and so has the right to see it, and also that open access facilitates scholarship hence science development. The rules came into force 1st April 2013 for papers based on science research that was at least 45% funded by government (taxpayers) should be made available either immediately or between 6 and 24 months depending on the subject matter. Learned scientific societies (whose income largely comes from journal subscriptions) have responded by giving researchers the option of paying for their papers to have immediate open access. The policy will be reviewed next year (2014).  Over in the US, Barrack Obama has backed US open access saying that publicly (government) funded research should be made freely available within 12 months of publication.  +++ But there is a downside to this with the rise of sham journals. See the story further down in the Interface: Science and SF subsection.

US science cut by 5%. As the US fails to sort out its budget deficit, federal science programmes took a 5% cut in their budget.

 

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

Summer 2013

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

Meteorite explodes with force of half a megatonne of TNT above Russia mid-February. The meteorite's mass was close to 10,000 tonnes and around 17m (55ft) across: the size of a small house. It is estimated that it entered the atmosphere becoming visible in the thermosphere-Mesosphere boundary at around 92 km high with an initial velocity of 17.5 km per second. It slowed in a trajectory over 100 km long to just 180 metres per second before exploding at a height of 32 km in the stratosphere not far from Lake Cherbakul and the city of Chelyabinsk. (Chelyabinsk served Russia former military testing area, analogous to the US Area 51.) Using CCTV, personal mobile footage and the impact location around Lake Chebarkul, Jorge Zuluaga and Ignacio Ferrin, from the University of Antioquia in Medellin, were able to back-calculate the meteorite's trajectory. The meteor belongs to a well known family of Earth (and Mars) orbit-crossing Apollo asteroids. Of about 9,700 near-Earth asteroids discovered so far, around 5,200 are thought to be Apollos that originate in the asteroid belt. It is probably the largest meteorite to hit the Earth's atmosphere since Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908. The shockwave of the explosion shook buildings and blew out windows. A thousand or so were injured by flying glass. The meteorite's last moments were caught by CCTV and many people using mobile phone video which generated much news coverage.   From the meteorite samples retrieved, the meteor was a chondrite (composed of olivine or enstatite like [very loosely speaking metal-rich silicate] minerals) that had internal stress fractures that were thought to have formed in a collision between two asteroids many millions of years ago that resulted in the Cherbakul meteor.

Near Earth asteroid passes inside our geostationary satellite ring just hours after the Cherbakul meteor explosion. The two events were unrelated. Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) 2012 DA14 has its annual flyby of the Earth on 15th February 2013 only this time it came within the Geosynchronous satellite ring 26,200 miles above the Earth. (For comparison, the Moon's orbit is roughly 240,000 miles from the Earth.) At its closest it came to some 17,000 miles above the equator. Asteroid 2012 DA14 has an estimated diameter of about 45 meters, and a mass of roughly 130,000 metric tons. If Asteroid DA14 were to have impacted the Earth, it would do so with the energy of 2.4 Megatons.   Short NASA vid here.

Canada's Near Earth Orbit Surveillance satellite has been launched. In close-Earth orbit (1 orbit per 100 minutes) it will identify large asteroids that may one day threaten the Earth. However it will not detect asteroids as small as that which exploded above Chelyabinsk.

Planck space telescope releases highest yet precision map of the cosmic background radiation. Theory has it that as soon as the Big Bang occurred (hi Sheldon) a faster than light expansion (inflation) of the Universe from sub-atomic to the size of a grapefruit took place lasting just 10-32 seconds. When 380,000 years later matter condensed out the pattern carries an imprint of the quantum fluctuations that roiled in the inflating Universe. These are manifest today in very slight differences in the cosmic background radiation that the Plank space probe detects at a temperature of arounbd 2.7 kelvin.  The results suggest that the Universe is expanding just a little slower than previously thought which means that there is a little less dark energy (probably only 68.3% of the Universes' mass) and a little more dark matter to compensate. It also means that the Universe is a tad older than previously thoughts at 13.82 billion years.

 

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

Summer 2013

NATURAL SCIENCE

Stress signal triggering migraine headaches found. A Turkish team led by Turgay Dalkara at Hacettepe University in Ankara have found how depolarising waves originate in the cortex triggering migraines. This research provides clues as to likely new pharmaceutical treatments. The research was reported in Science 2013 vol. 339, pages 1092-1095.

It is nice to be stroked and this is due to a special massage neuron. Work on mice has revealed sensory neurons in hairy skin that respond specifically to stroking or grooming. Technically speaking, these 'massage' neurons resemble the C-tactile afferents, unmeyelinated mechanoreceptive nurons found in humans which explains why we – and our mammal pets – like being touched this way. The research was lead by Sophia Vrontou of the California Institute of Technology (US) and published in Nature (2013) vol. 493, pages 669-673.

Smell sense may well have quantum physics properties.   Smell has long been thought to work by the shape of the molecules causing the odour to fit as a key would to a lock into molecules on the surface of the sensing cell and so trigger a response within the sensing cell that in turn would be transmitted to a nerve.   Now an idea has been developed by Luca Turin that he originally postulated in 1996. The idea is that it is not just lock-and-key but that the odour molecules' (the key) vibration is an essential factor: all the atoms in molecules vibrate and the whole molecules themselves vibrate. So how to test this? Well a molecule's shape is determined by its constituent atoms' outer (hence the entire molecule's surface) electron cloud. However its vibration is largely determined by the nuclei of the constituent atoms (of course atomic [electron] bonds play a part too). By changing the constituent atoms' isotopes it is possible to change the nuclei but not the molecules shape. And so work was done by Leslie Vosshall in 2004 on humans that was thought disprove this quantum effect. Now, Luca Turin has used acetophenone molecules in two forms: one with normal hydrogen and another with heavy hydrogen (deuterium) that has a neutron in addition to the proton so doubling its atomic weight but otherwise keeping its chemistry (and shape) the same. In a paper in PLOS One shows that humans can distinguish the two. +++ If this effect is central to smell then smell joins photosynthesis as a biological process relying on quantum effects. Other biological processes postulated (but far from proven) to rely on quantum effects include synaptic function in brains.

13 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide. Seven have died. Three cases have been confirmed in Britain, all belonging to a single family of whom one has died, another became seriously ill and the third only mildly sick. This last suggests that some cases globally may have gone undetected. Coronaviruses are of the type responsible for SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003. Coronaviruses are named after their crown-like halo of protein spikes. Fortunately in the case of SARS, despite a nucleotide copy error rate similar to HIV, it does not mutate rapidly as errors are weeded out due to the way a copying enzyme works.

New virus H7N9 is now spreading in humans, but slowly (for now). As of Easter there have been 24 human cases of this new strain of bird flu and 8 of these have been fatal. The cases are in 11 cities in eastern China. The virus has now been found in live chickens, pigeons and ducks in markets. Unlike its cousin H5N1 that killed millions of birds and several hundred people and which also infected cats and dogs, H7N9 does not cause serious bird disease: symptoms of infection are not visible. Yet as with the 2009 H5N1 outbreak we need to be prepared: it may be a mild strain and less virulent, or mutate into something more serious. SF2 Concatenation has had a global pandemic as one of its longstanding New Year predictions for some time now. The good news, for now, is human-to-human transmission has not (yet) started. The bad news is that humans have never been extensively exposed to either H7 or N9 viruses (let alone H7N9) and so we lack resistance to these subtypes. Flu viruses evolve fast.

The plaque on human teeth changed when farming began and also with the industrial revolution. A team led by Alan Cooper of the University of Adelaide, Australia, (and published in Nature Genetics) have sequenced microbial DNA from the dental plaque of the remains of 34 Mesolithic (middle stone age) to medieval skeletons. Plaque microbes from those living in early farming communities thousands of years ago were less diverse than those of earlier hunter-gatherers. Indeed, modern human plaque microbial communities are even less diverse and these plaque microbes are also linked to diseases and cavity formation. The researchers believe that the transition from medieval-to-modern plaque microbes took place around the time of the industrial revolution when processed flour and sugar became widely available.

The remains of King Richard III find confirmed Not only is the skeleton found under a Leicester car park have a curved spine and its carbon dating ties in with the date of Richard III's demise (1485), but the remains have now been shown to contain a mitochondrial marker linked to the Plantagenet line and two known descendents. The Leicester University department undertaking the genetic analysis is the same one in which Alec Jeffreys originally developed DNA fingerprinting.

China is over fishing seas and under-reporting catch. A study by a team led by Daniel Pauly at Canada's University of British Columbia estimates that China is catching 4.6 million tonnes of fish a year, some 12 times what it reports to the UN! The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization has long suspected China of under-reporting its fish catch given that it claims to have the World's largest distant-water fishing fleet. China seems to be reporting what it catches and brings back to China. It is failing to report China's fish catch that is sold to other nations. The Pauly team looked at field interviews, scholarly papers, newspaper reports and online reports in 14 languages to estimate how many Chinese vessels were operating in 93 countries and found that many were reporting no Chinese catch at all. They also looked at what vessels China had and the amount of catch that might be expected. They admit that their estimate may not be accurate but does truly reflect the magnitude (the power of ten) of the problem: middle, single figure millions of tonnes and low double-figures multiple of what is reported.  Ironically, the team also found that it had over-reported its domestic catch by at least 6 million tonnes. The explanation for this, the team believes, is that China's mid-level bureaucrats often exaggerate their achievements.

 

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

Summer 2013

FORTHCOMING BOOK RELEASES

Forthcoming Science Fiction book and graphic novel releases

The following 'forthcoming' listings (SF, fantasy/horror, and popular science/non-fiction SF/fantasy)
relate to UK releases (with just a few exceptions).
It aims to let you know the main English language genre and popular science books currently coming out for the European market.
It is not a complete listing and depends on us being given details.
We only occasionally include titles from N. American major publishers and only where we know there is European distribution.
If you wish for a more complete listing then Locus publishes occasional British listings in its magazine.

 

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch, Gollancz, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13246-7.
This is the fourth in the supernatural, police procedural mash-up.

Finches of Mars by Brian Aldiss, Harper Collins, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-007-47892-7.
Mars' coloney survives thanks to technology, but the colonists are beset by stillborn births… Brian has indicated that this may well be his last SF novel!

The Age Atomic by Christopher Adam, Angry Robot, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-857-66313-9.
The follow-up to Empire State.

The Good, the Bad, the Infernal by Guy Adams, Solaris, pbk,£7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08090-0.
Steampunk in the wild west and other planes of existence.

Hellhole Awakening by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert, Simon & Schuster, hrdbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-0-887-20334-2.
2nd in series. Also out in paperback at £7.99, ISBN 978-1-840-83031-7.

Fuse by Julia Baggott, Headline pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-472-20142-3.
Well the pre-publicity is a bit thin, but the hard SF technology could be interesting. It is being promoted as juvenile SF/ young adult (which translated means for the teenage market) but the early word has it that this is a rather good read for adults too…

Terminus by Adam Baker, Hodder, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-444-75585-5.
This is the third in a horror sequence. Bombing New York City has not stopped the spread of a lethal infection. However one man can create an antidote if he can be found…

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, Harper Collins, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-007-46456-2.
The latest novel from the Clarke SF Award winner and her first novel from a major publisher. With a time travelling serial killer on the loose, one of his intended victims tries to escape by solving the mystery.

Terra by Mitch Benn, Gollancz, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-578-13208-5.
There is chaos at school when the new girl arrives. Could it be that this is because she is adopted? Are her alien parents to blame..? This is a debut novel.

The Lost Fleet – Beyond the Frontier: Guardian by Jack Campbell, Titan Books, trdpbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16464-8.
This is the third in the 'Lost Fleet' series 'Beyond the Frontier'.

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu, Angry Robot, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-857-66328-3.
Ancient parasitic aliens in a battle for the Earth.

Abaddon's Gate by James S. A. Corey, Orbit, trdpbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49992-5.
Part of the 'Expanse' space opera sequence. For generations, the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt – was humanity's great frontier. Until now. The alien artefact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has emerged to build a massive structure outside the orbit of Uranus: a gate that leads into a starless dark. Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artefact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them…

The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow, Titan Books, trdpbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16744-1.
Cyberpunk, popular culture mash-up.

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow, Titan Books, trdpbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16746-5.
This is the first UK paperback release of this title.

Naming Monsters by Hannah Eaton, Myriad Editions, trdpbk, £11.99. ISBN 978-1-908-43421-0.
A cryptozoological science fantasy. Warm, funny with some sexually explicit scenes.

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales by Steven Erikson, Transworld, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06779-6.
Three science-fantasy novellas:-
'The Devil Delivered': In the breakaway Lakota Nation, in the heart of a land blistered beneath an ozone hole the size of the Great Plains of North America, a lone anthropologist wanders the deadlands, recording observations that threaten to bring the world’s powers to their knees.
'Revolvo': In the fictitious country of Canada, the arts scene is ruled by technocrats who thrive in a secret, nepotistic society of granting agencies, bursaries, and peer review boards, all designed to permit self-proclaimed artists to survive without an audience.
'Fishing with Grandma Matchie': A children’s story of a boy tasked with a writing assignment becomes a stunning fantastical journey with his tale-spinning grandmother…
Steven Erikson is well known as the creator of the epic fantasy sequence ‘Malazan Book of the Fallen’. This collection, from the pre-publicity, looks more science-fantasy and so likely to be of great interest to many speculative fiction readers. This book actually comes out late in September (just after we post next season's news page) but we thought you would appreciate the early heads up.

Judge Dredd: Trifecta by Al Ewing, Rob Williams, Simon Spurrier, Henry Flint, Simon Coleby & D’Israeli, 2000AD, trdpbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08145-7.
Graphic novel. Mega-City One, 2134 AD. Fresh from the devastating events caused by the Chaos virus, Dredd becomes aware of a potential power grab from within the Justice Department. Wally Squad gumshoe Jack Point is given a mysterious doll to safeguard. Dirty Frank wakes up on Luna-1 as a board member of Overdrive, Inc. All three Judges soon find themselves embroiled in the same case in which allegiances and grudges form in equal measure! See also below Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos – End Game.

The Exiled Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Orbit, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49850-8.
Venice stands victorious. It has beaten back the German emperor's army and the Byzantine navy. The Duchess Alexa's party at court is strong again. Her niece, Lady Giulietta, will be the next Regent, and possibly the next duchess. Giulietta's lover, Lord Tycho, will sit beside her. But no one is prepared for the fury of Prince Alonzo, exiled regent and traitor to his city. No one is prepared for the harshest winter Europe has ever known. As the canals of Venice freeze and wolves cross the ice from the north, Alonzo's plotting brings the Venetian empire to the very edge of destruction. With the Millioni family at war with itself, Lord Tycho, once a slave and a trained assassin, has to ask himself the only question that matters. How much is he prepared to sacrifice to keep Lady Giulietta's city safe?

Baneblade by Guy Haley, The Black Library, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-849-70076-4.
Brutal military SF with the Imperium against alien Orks.

God's War by Kameron Hurley, Del Rey Books, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-091-95277-8.
Far future action from a debut author.

A Stitch in Time by Amanda James, Choc Lit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-89000-4.
A romcom with time travel inspired by Dr Who and The Time Traveller's Wife.

The Clone Republic by Steven L. Kent, Titan Books, trdpbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-2-781-16713-7.
Military space-opera with an interstellar clone rebellion.

Rogue Clone by Steven L. Kent, Titan Books, trdpbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-2-781-16716-8.
Next in the series.

Half-Sick of Shadows by David Logan, Corgi Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-552-16670-6.
Yet another release for this title which seems to be getting quite an airing. See Peter's stand-alone review and also Mark's take.

The Disappearances by Gemma Malley, Hodder, pbk, £11.99. ISBN 978-1-444-72283-3.
Follows on from The Killables dystopia trilogy part 2.

Intrusion by Ken MacLeod, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49940-6.
Imagine a near-future city, say London, where medical science has advanced beyond our own and a single-dose pill has been developed that, taken when pregnant, eradicates many common genetic defects from an unborn child. Hope Morrison, mother of a hyperactive four-year-old, is expecting her second child. She refuses to take The Fix, as the pill is known. This divides her family and friends and puts her and her husband in danger of imprisonment or worse. Is her decision a private matter of individual choice, or is it tantamount to wilful neglect of her unborn child? A plausible and original novel with sinister echoes of 1984 and Brave New World.  We hope to have a stand-alone review of this in next season's edition.

The Arrivals by Melissa Marr, Harper Collins, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-007-34928-9.
Former alcoholic Chloe gets drunk after 5 years of struggling to be sober. She wakes up in the wasteland world of monsters and fellow misfit humans. How come were they pulled out of time..? Now, from the pre-publicity we are not sure whether this is SF, science fantasy or fantasy, but it looks interesting.

Tuf Voyaging by George R. R. Martin, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-12952-8.
Tongue-in-cheek SF romp with Haviland Tuf, one of the few honest space traders in a dangerous galaxy… Most know of George R. R. Martin from the huge success of Game of Thrones that continues to dominate the British Isles SF/F book sector. Few outside of the SF/F community know of Martin's earlier work which Gollancz is now re-releasing.

Evening's Empires by Paul McAuley, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-10079-4.
In the far future a young man stands alone on a barren asteroid after his ship and his family have been stolen from him. All he has is a semi-intelligent spacesuit… Now for what it is worth we like nearly all of McAuley's previous stuff such as Cowboy Angels, Eternal Light, Pasquale's Angel, The Quiet War, White Devils, Red Dust and Gardens of the Sun.

Sky Dragon's by Todd & Anne McCaffrey, Corgi Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-552-16246-3.
The fight is on to replenish Pern's dragon population.   As you know, sadly Anne died last autumn. This novel was shaped by the notes she left and preliminary work with son Todd.

Be My Enemy by Ian McDonald, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87668-9.
To save his father, Everett must venture to the darkest corner of the Panopoly… Ian is of course a Hugo-Award winning author whose previous titles include: Brasyl, Cyberbad Days, The Dervish House, Desolation Roadand River of Gods.

Planesrunner by Ian McDonald, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87667-2.
A fourteen-year-old boy searching for his kidnapped father across the many parallel worlds of the multiverse… Ian McDonald has won a number of prestigeuos SF awards. This is the paperback release of last season's hardback.

Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50214-4.
Welcome to dating a hundred years into the future: Technology has extended the lives of the rich and attractive by decades. The wealthy can arrange to be reanimated multiple times. While in cryogenic dating farms, dead women await lonely suitors to resurrect them and take them home . . . Love Minus Eighty follows interconnected lives touched by these dating farms. There's Rob, who accidentally kills a jogger, then sells everything to visit her, seeking her forgiveness but instead falling in love. Veronika, a socially awkward dating coach, finds herself responsible for the happiness of a man whose life she saved against his will…  Love Minus Eighty is an expansion of the 2010 Hugo Award-winning and Nebula Award-nominated short story 'Bridesicle'

The Ballad of Halo Jones Alan Moore & Ian Gibson, 2000AD, trdpbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08148-8.
The latest reprint of this classic graphic novel. In the future a girl leaves a boring Earth for adventure among the stars. But life is not fun… See our stand-alone review of The Ballad of Halo Jones.

Drowntown by Robbie Morrison & Jim Murray, Cape, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-224-08587-8
A body is dragged from the Thames. Welcome to Drowntown. A not-so-distant future London in a world altered by climate change. Much of London is flooded and the rich elite look down from their towers as the Thames expands…

The Curve of the Earth by Simon Morden, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50182-6.
Welcome to the Metrozone – the post-apocalyptic London of the future, complete with homeless refugees, vicious street gangs and mad cults. A dangerous city needs an equally dangerous saviour: step forward Samuil Petrovitch, a Russian émigré with a genius-level intellect, extensive cybernetic replacements, a built-in AI with god-like capabilities and a full armoury of Russian swear words. Brilliant, selfish and cocky, he's dragged the city back from the brink more than once – and made a few enemies on the way…

Nineteen Eighty-Four: The Annotated Edition by George Orwell, Penguin Classics, pbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-0-141-39170-0
This SF classic needs no summary. The notes are by Orwell biographer D. J. Taylor.

The Detainee by Peter Liney, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-782-06032-1.
An island is circled by punishment satellites. The island contains the old, the sick and poor who have been dumped there… This is a debut novel.

Deathwatch by Steve Parker, The Black Library, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-849-70446-5.
Dark gothic SF with a space marines, elite, alien-hunting, special forces.

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy, Hodder, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-1-444-72499-8.
Epic apocalyptic thriller.

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, Doubleday, Corgi Books, pbk, £7.99. 978-0-552-16408-5.
Paperback release of last summer's hardback. 2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Junior cop Sally Jansson is called out to the house of Willis Lynsey, a reclusive scientist, for an animal-cruelty complaint: the man was seen forcing a horse in through the door of his home. Inside there is no horse. But Sally finds a kind of home-made utility belt. She straps this on - and ‘steps’ sideways into an America covered with virgin forest. Willis came here with equipment and animals, meaning to explore and colonise. And when Sally gets back, she finds Willis has put the secret of the belt on the internet. The great migration has begun...

The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, Doubleday, hrdbk, £18.99. 978-0-857-52011-1.
Hard SF from the master of comic fantasy and heir to A. C. Clarke's mantle.   Mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth – but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind ... A new ‘America’, called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the plentiful environment of the Long Earth – and Valhalla is growing restless under the control of the Datum government ... Meanwhile the Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity’s thoughtless exploitation... Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any mankind has waged before.

The Adjacent by Christopher Priest, Gollancz, hrdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-10536-2.
An alternate timeline, past and future, in which photographers, magicians and soldiers deal in mirrors, reflections, camouflage and deceit. Chris Priest is a long-standing favourite with those into litcrit SF. This one could well garner critical acclaim.

The Educated Ape and Other Wonders of the World by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-086432.
This is the 3rd in the Victorian steampunk sequence. Quirky comedy. His present-day Brentford trilogy (actually several stand-alone books) are rather good if you have a Goon or Monty Python sense of humour. To be fair, these steampunk tales are different but Rankin has standing in the steampunk world if that is what floats your boat.

The Demi-Monde: Summer by Rod Rees, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-849-916507-5.
This is the first paperback airing of the third in the Demi-Monde sequence that Jonathan has been raving about (see his reviews Demi-Monde: Winter and Demi-Monde: Spring) about a virtual world within a quantum computer that has trapped a couple of people from the real world, including the President's daughter. The virtual world was originally created for military training purposes and is peopled by artificial personalities from our real history but with their own warped (and created by the author with some humour) culture. This continues the story from where it left off. This sequence of novels is a delightful mix of hard SF and steampunk that has nearly always received great reviews but for some reason they have not been short-listed for any of the awards knocking around. Why? The bottom line is that if you have not heard of it then do check the first one out. The chances are you will become hooked and all the more pleased for it.

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49998-7.
The year is 2312. Scientific advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer our only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system, on moons, planets and in between. But in 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront our past, present and future. The first event takes place on Mercury, in the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. For Swan Er Hong, it will change her life. Once a designer of worlds, now Swan will be led into a plot to destroy them….  This is the mass market paperback release of last year's hardback. Back in the Spring we cited 2312 as one of the best SF books of 2012. It has also just been nominated for the Hugo and a Nebula awards.

The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50093-5.
The service of Britannia is not for the faint of heart or conscience. Rumours of a devastating new weapon reach the Queen's ears, and sorceress Emma Bannon is sent to find its creator. The genius, Archibald Clare, is only too happy to help. It will distract him from pursuing his criminal nemesis, and besides, Clare is not as young as he used to be. A spot of Miss Bannon's excellent hospitality and her diverting company may be just what he needs.

Gemsign by Stephanie Saulter, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87865-2.
Surviving the syndrome mean genetically modifying nearly everyone on the planet. But norms and gems are different. Gems were created to solve problems. But now they are rising up despite the God Gangs… Caribbean born Stephanie Saulter lives in Devon and has written short fiction. Of interest to science fact and fiction Concateneers, she read biology at MIT before majoring in English literature and minoring in anthropology. Possibly one to watch.

Limit by Frank Schatzing, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-849-16515-0.
The end of the oil age forces a return to the Moon.

Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh, Gollancz, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-11097-7.
Part of the psy-changeling science-fantasy series.

The Age of Scorpio by Gavin G. Smith, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 987-0-575-09475-8.
A deep space salvage job goes very wrong… Gavin Smith is known for his first two, hard SF, high testosterone and hard hitting action books Veteran and War in Heaven…. We mentioned this release last season but as this book only came out a couple of days before we posted this season's news we include it again…  Of all the captains based out of Arclight only Eldon Sloper was desperate enough to agree to a salvage job in Red Space. And now he and his crew are living to regret his desperation.  In Red Space the rules are different. Some things work, others don't. Best to stick close to the Church beacons. Don't get lost.  Because there's something wrong about Red Space. Something beyond rational. Something vampyric . . . Long after The Loss mankind is different. We touch the world via neunonics. We are machines, we are animals, we are hybrids. But some things never change. A Killer is paid to kill, a Thief will steal countless lives. A Clone will find insanity, an Innocent a new horror. The Church knows we have kept our sins.

The Machine by James Smythe, Blue Door, hrdbk, £12.99. 978-0-007-42860-1.
A Frankenstein tale for the 21st century.

The Bloodline Feud by Charles Stross, Tor, pbk, £9.99. 978-1-447-23761-1.
Reporter Miriam Beckstein uncovers a money laundering scam but her editor does not want her to touch the story, and then the death threats begin. Little does she know that she herself does not belong on this Earth but a parallel, less-technological world where her family runs a criminal empire… This duology was originally published as The Family Trade and The Hidden Family and is part of a set of three duologies that cover the 'Merchant Princes' sequence. This reprinting is a prelude to a new forthcoming Merchant Princes trilogy.

Neptune's Blood by Charles Stross, Orbit, hrdbk, £16.99. 978-0-356-50099-7.
5,000 years in the future, metahumans have replaced humans… All well and good, but they still have crime and this one revolves around a financial scam. Hard SF. We generally like Stross and this is the first airing of his latest novel.

Theatre of the Gods by Matt Suddain, Jonathan Cape, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-224-09706-2.
Steampunk space opera.

The City of Devi by Manil Suri, Bloomsbury, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-408-83390-2.
A portrait of a dystopic India on the brink of collapse.

Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos – The Fourth Faction by John Wagner et al, 2000AD, trdpbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08108-2.
Colour graphic novel. With the Mega-City One mayor presumed dead, an election is held. Meanwhile there is a psi prediction that something terrible will happen on election day…. And an East Meg assassin has arrived to wreck revenge for their own city's destruction following the Apocalypse War… This is the latest continuation of a long, intermittent story arc that began back in the early 1980s. It actually came out just before Easter and so we should have reported it in last season's forthcoming SF books list, but advance PR is not 2000AD's forte (they save their efforts for their SF). We hope to have a stand-alone review for next season.

Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos – End Game by John Wagner, Ben Wilsher, Henry Flint & Colin MacNeil, 2000AD, trdpbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08142-6.
Graphic novel. With the Chaos virus released, Mega-City One totters on the brink of extinction. Judge Dredd and a weakened Justice department are desperately trying to stay in control. But the citywide infection has taken its toll and the chances of anyone coming away unscathed is looking less and less likely as each new day goes by. Features the much welcomed return of some of Dredd’s greatest enemies – Judge Death and the Dark Judges! See also above Judge Dredd: Trifecta.

The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-11537-8.
A very welcome reprint of the Wells classic and part of the SF Masterworks series. This series varies in format, but this edition is one of the very affordable hardbacks with the colour cover integral and not a separate dust jacket. Nice. If you do not have a copy in your collection then this is your chance… This actually came out just before we posted this season's news page but we missed including it last time as a forthcoming book and we thought you would want to know of its availability.

Solaris 2: New Solaris Book of Science Fiction edited by Ian Whates, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08087-0.
Whates is known for Newcon Press and the first Solaris anthology of shorts seemed to be well received.

Alif the Unseen by Willow G. Wilson, Corvus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-89569-1.
An original science-fantasy technothriller where the supernatural and internet collide.

Our latest in-depth reviews of recent fiction books can be found linked from the whats new index.

In depth reviews of hundreds of fiction books can be found linked alphabetically by author off the reviews index.

 

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

Summer 2013

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

Gilead's Curse by Dan Abnett and Vincent Nik, The Black Library, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-849-70356-7.
Sequel to Gilead's Blood.

Iron Winter by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08929-7.
An alternate history telling what it might have been like if there was an early Celtic civilization on the land where the N. Sea now is just after the last ice age (glacial) when seas were lower. However, as happened in real life back then, the seas were rising… This is the mass market paperback release. Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.

The Marching Dead by Lee Bartersby, Angry Robot, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-857-66289-7.
Sequel to The Corpse Rat King.

Witch Wraith by Terry Brooks, Orbit, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-356-50226-7.
The third and final part of the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy.

The Traitor Queen by Trudi Canavan, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49596-5.
The final in the Traitor Spy trilogy that has seen reasonably strong sales.

Hot Blooded by Amanda Carlson, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50128-4.
Jessica McClain has just discovered she is the biggest threat the supernatural world has seen in over eight-hundred years, but there's only one thing on her mind – finding her mate. Rourke's been kidnapped by a wicked goddess and his only chance of survival lies in her hands.

The Pirate's wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke, Strange Chemistry, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-908-84427-9.
This is the sequel to The Assassin's Curse.

Macriere by Kresley Cole, Simon & Schuster, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-471-111361-1
Part of the 'Immortals After Dark sequence.

The Wrath of Angels by John Connolly, Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-44-75648-7.
A Charlie Parker supernatural thriller.

The Monster’s Lament by Robert Edric, Transworld, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-857-52004-3.
April 1945. While the Allied Forces administer the killing blow to Nazi Germany, at home London’s teeming underworld of black marketeers, pimps, prostitutes, conmen and thieves prepare for the coming peace. But the man the newspapers call the English Monster, the self-proclaimed Antichrist, Alaister Crowley, is making preparations for the future too: for his immortality. For Crowley’s plan to work, he has to depend upon one of London’s Most Wanted, ambitious gangland boss Tommy Fowler, who, presiding over a crumbling empire, can still get you anything you want - for a price. And what Crowley wants is a young man, Peter Tait, in Pentonville Prison under sentence of death for murder. Convinced of his innocence but unable to prove it, his only chance of survival lies in the hands of one detective struggling against the odds to win a desperate appeal that has little chance of success. The Monster’s Lament is an extraordinary journey through a ruined landscape towards an ending more terrible and all-consuming than any of its participants can have imagined. When you’re used to fighting monsters abroad, it is easy to overlook the monsters closer to home… The author's novels include Winter Garden (1985 James Tait Black Prize winner), A New Ice Age (1986 runner-up for the 1986 Guardian Fiction Prize), The Book of the Heathen (shortlisted for the 2001 WH Smith Literary Award), Peacetime (long-listed for the Booker Prize 2002), Gathering the Water (long-listed for the Booker Prize 2006) and In Zodiac Light, which was shortlisted for the Dublin Impac Prize 2010. From the pre-publicity (the book is due out just as we post this news page in April) The Monster’s Lament looks like it could be more a mundane novel than speculative fiction, but irrespective it certainly draws heavily on a fantasy riff and as such may well appeal to litcrit speculative fiction readers.

Cold Steel by Kate Elliott, Orbit, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49885-0.
Trouble, treachery and magic just won't stop plaguing Cat Barahal. The Master of the Wild Hunt has stolen away her husband. The ruler of the Taino kingdom blames her for his mother's murder. An enraged fire mage wants to kill her. And Cat, her cousin Bee and her half-brother Rory aren't even back in Europa yet, where revolution is burning up the streets. Revolutions to plot. Enemies to crush. Cat and Bee have their work cut out for them.

The Fictional Man by Al Ewing, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08093-1.
If you discover that your friends are all fictional, then what does that make you?

Red, White and Blood by Christopher Farnsworth, Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-340-99821-2.
Supernatural vampire thriller from the author of The President's Vampire. Nathan Cade (the President's Vampire) is up against the Boogeyman who in turn is trying to assassinate the President. The problem is that no matter how many times Cade kills the Boogeyman, the Boogeyman keeps on coming back…

Leopard's Prey by Christine Feehan, Piatkus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-749-95749-0.
From a tough stint in the armed forces to stalking the unknown as a bayou cop, leopard-shifter Remy Boudreux has been served well by his uncanny gifts. And right now, New Orleans could use a homicide detective like Remy. A serial killer is on the loose, snatching victims from the French Quarter with pitiless rage and unnatural efficiency. But something else is drawing Remy into the twilight – a beautiful jazz singer bathed night after night in a flood of blood-red neon.

Girl Genius: Agatha H. and the Airship City by Phil Foglio & Kaja Foglio, Titan Books, trdpbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-116647-5.
One of the Girl Genius stories won the 2009 Hugo for 'Best Graphic Story'.

Herald of the Storm by Richard Ford, Headline, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-472-20392-2.
Billed as being in the vein of Joe Abercrombie and G. R. R. Martin.

The Stranger's Shadow by Max Frei, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09013-2.
Best selling Russian author continues with another adventure of Sir Max and other-worldly characters as he investigates the use of illegal power in the supernatural world of echo... Be warned, this is a heady mix, but if you like heady mixes then this could well delight you. See Ian's review of Frei's The Stranger here.

Ahriman: Exile by John French, The Black Library, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-849-70426-7.
After the Horn's Heresy and the Chaos, sorcerer Ahriman is cast out of his own legion.

Exodus of the Xandim by Maggie Furrey, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07663-1.
Prequel to the 'Aurian' series. Being a prequel you should be able to read this as a stand-alone novel.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Headline Review, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-472-20031-0.
A tale of memory, magic and survival.

The City by Stella Gemmell, Bantam Press, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-593-07098-7.
Debut by the wife of the late David Gemmell. Built up over the millennia, layer upon layer, the City is ancient and vast. Over the centuries, it has sprawled beyond its walls, the cause of constant war with neighbouring peoples and kingdoms, laying waste to what was once green and fertile. And at the heart of the City resides the emperor. Few have ever seen him. Those who have remember a man in his prime and yet he should be very old. Some speculate that he is no longer human, others wonder if indeed he ever truly was. And a small number have come to a desperate conclusion: that the only way to stop the ceaseless slaughter is to end the emperor’s unnaturally long life…

Known Devil by Justin Gustrainis, Angry Robot, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-857-66165-4.
My name is Markowski. I carry a badge and a Beretta loaded with silver bullets.

Malice by John Gwynne, Tor, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-330-54575-4.
Traditional epic fantasy.

War God by Graham Hancock, Coronet, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-444-73437-9.
The Spanish conquest as told by young tribeswomen believed by the Aztecs to be a witch.

Blood Therapy by Lynda Hilburn, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-587-38729-5.
Psychology meets vampirism with erotic undertones.

Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton, Headlong, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-755-38902-5.
Another outing for the vampire hunter Anita Blake. These have sold rather well with six million Anita Blake books already bought worldwide.

Rising Darkness by Thea Harrison, Piatkus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-749-95897-8.
Mary, a bone-tired ER doctor, has always felt disconnected from other people, but lately she feels disconnected from her own body. She thinks she's going crazy until the world around her stops making sense – especially when a swarm of hawks save her and a persistent snatch of wind then tells her to drive up the Lake Michigan coast as fast as she can. She listens to the wind . . . and runs into Michael, an attractive but annoyingly enigmatic man who seems to know what is going on. Soon, Mary starts to remember what she is. Six thousand years ago, eight creatures came to our world: the Deceiver to destroy it – and seven to stop him. Reincarnated when they die, these legends must remember in each lifetime what they are, find each other and fight to annihilate the Deceiver once and for all. Now he's back, and he's already killed four of the seven.

Hunted by Kevin Hearne, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50198-7.
For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O'Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he's being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt – Artemis and Diana – for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, his apprentice Granuaile and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide and seek, the game plan is... run like hell.

The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work and Writing of Dr Spencer Black, by E. B. Hudspeth, Quirk Books, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-594-74616-1.
A cryptozoological tale involving the World's most famous mythical beasts and evolution. Philadelphia, the late 1870s. A city of gas lamps, cobblestone streets, and horse-drawn carriages—and home to the controversial surgeon Dr. Spencer Black. The son of a grave robber, young Dr. Black studies at Philadelphia’s esteemed Academy of Medicine, where he develops an unconventional hypothesis: What if the world’s most celebrated mythological beasts – mermaids, minotaurs, and satyrs – were in fact the evolutionary ancestors of humankind?

The Year of the Ladybird by Graham Joyce, Gollancz, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-11531-6.
A ghost story set in the hot summer of 1976.

The Descent by Alma Katsu, Century, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-846-05930-8.
The finale to the 'Immortal' trilogy.

A Discourse in Steel by Paul S. Kemp, Angry Robot, pbk, £8.99. 978-0-857-66252-1.
Egil and Nix return for another sword and sorcery adventure.

The People’s Will by Jasper Kent Transworld, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06954-7.
Turkmenistan 1881: Beneath the citadel of Geok Tepe sits a prisoner. He hasn’t moved from his chair for two years, hasn’t felt the sun on his face in more than fifty, but he is thankful for that. The city is besieged by Russian troops and soon falls. But one Russian officer has his own reason to be here. Colonel Otrepyev marches into the underground gaol, but for the prisoner it does not mean freedom, simply a new gaoler; an old friend, now an enemy. They return to Russia to meet an older enemy still. In Saint Petersburg, the great vampire Zmyeevich waits as he has always waited. He knows he will never wield power over Tsar Aleksandr II, but the tsarevich will be a different matter. When Otrepyev delivers the prisoner into his hands, Zmyeevich will have everything he needs. Then all that need happen is for the tsar to die… Of interest to science fact and science fiction Concateneers, Jasper Kent studied Natural Sciences at Trinity Hall, Cambridge and now works as a freelance software consultant in addition to fantasy writing.

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay, Harper Collins, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-007-52190-6.

The Macharian Crusade: Angel of Fire by William King, The Black Library, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-849-70399-4.
The first in a trilogy sees the birth of the legend of the Imperial Commander Solar Machurias.

Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan, Corgi Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-552-16669-0.
Parody humour.

The New Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko, Heinemann, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-434-02231-1.
The latest in the acclaimed 'Watch' sequence by the Russian fantasy grandmaster. The first in the sequence was The Night Watch. Though there is an overarching plot arc to this sequence, each can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel. If this title is true to Heinemann's previous form then it should contain a couple of the 'Watch' novellas and not just one story. These are huge best sellers in Russia. Recommended.

Faeryland: The Secret World of the Hidden Ones by John Matthews, Abrams, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-141-9-70673-8.
An interactive book about the faeries of Europe, Asia, Africa, Arabia and even America.

A Game of Thrones by [George R. R. Martin] Daniel Abraham & Tommy Patterson, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-007-49304-3.
Graphic novel.

Limits of Power by Elizabeth Moon, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50127-7.
The Lady of the elves has been slain and King Kieri injured by the iynisin, a corrupted race of elves whose poisonous touch means grisly death for all who stand in their way. As the Lady's elves retreat to bury their dead, strange discoveries are made in the palace, revealing old secrets about the ancient alliance between humankind and elves.

Inheritance by Christopher Paoloni, Corgi Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-552-15862-6.
Final in the 'Inheritance' cycle featuring Eragon and his dragon Saphira.

Charm by Sarah Pinborough, Gollancz, trdpbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-575-10079-4.
A contemporary re-telling of Cinderella.

The City's Son by Tom Pollock, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87009-0.
An urban tale about friends, families and monsters, and how it is not always so easy to differentiate between them.

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan, Orbit, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50246-5.
A debut in the vein of David Gemmell.

The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN978-0-575-11531-6.
The sorcerer Geralt of Rivia (you may know from the Atari 'The Witcher' computer game) is back.

I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-444-72926-9.
This one may have slipped SF/F devotees by as though Yrsa Sigurdardottir is a noted Icelandic crime writer this is a ghost story. If it is like his crime novels then we might well expect it to be a compulsive read.  An isolated Icelandic village and three friends work on renovating a desolate house but soon realise that they are not alone… The trade paperback came out last season. This is the mass-market paperback release.

Fearsome Journeys: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy edited by Jonathan Strahen, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08119-8.
Anthology of shorts compiled by a well known editor.

Angel City by Jon Steele, Transworld, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06866-3.
Jay Harper, one of the last ‘angels’ on Planet Earth, is still hunting down the half-breeds and goons who infected Paradise with evil. Intercepting a plot to turn half of Paris into a dead zone, Harper ends up on the wrong side of the law and finds himself a wanted man. That doesn’t stop his commander, Inspector Gobet of the Swiss Police, from sending him back to Paris on a recon mission... a mission that uncovers one more truth buried in the Book of Enoch…

Prince Thief by David Tellerman, Angry Robot, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-576-6267-5.
The third tale of Fasie Damasco.

A Taste of Blood Wine by Freda Warrington, Titan Books, trdpbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16705-2.
This is part of new re-edited editions of the best selling series described as 'Downton Abbey with vampires'.

Tomorrow, the Killing Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-444-72136-2.
Follow-up fantasy to the Straight Razor Cure.

Gods and Monsters: Unclean Spirits by Chuck Wendig, Abaddon Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08095-5.
Urban fantasy. All the gods have been here all along, all the time…

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams, Hodder, pbk, £7.99. 978-1-444-73857-5.
Bobby Dollar is not your average angel…

Our latest in-depth reviews of recent fiction books can be found linked from the whats new index.

In depth reviews of hundreds of fiction books can be found linked alphabetically by author off the reviews index.

 

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

Summer 2013

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

Paradox: The Nine Great Enigmas in Physics by Jim Al-Khalili, Black Swan, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-552-77806-0.

A Very Short Introduction to Black Holes by Katherine Blundel, Oxford University Press, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-199-60266-7.
Does what it says on the tin, a small format 100 or so pages, mini-book on black holes. Part of an excellent informative series providing a quick, cheap briefing on a range of topics.

Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany by Robert C. Clarke & Mark D. Merlin, University of California Press, hrdbk, £65. ISBN 978-0-520-27048-0.

Science Tales by Darryl Cunningham, Myriad Editions, hrdbk, £11.99. ISBN 978-1-908-43436-4.
An analysis and history of science denial.

Population 10 Billion by Danny Dorling, Constable, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-780-33491-2.
By 20100 there will be over 10 billion on the planet. The author is a geographer who charts global population's rise and the considerable challenges we face. Despite this, on balance, he has his optimistic moments.

How We Feel by Giovanni Frazzetto, Transworld, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-857-52124-8.
What can the neural activity in our brain cortex, or our reaction to a Caravaggio painting, reveal about the deep seat of guilt? How can reading Heidegger, or conducting experiments on rats, help us to cope with anxiety in the face of the world’s economic crisis? Can traditional Sicilian and Arabic recipes fight sadness more effectively than an anti-depressant prescription? What does the neuroscience of acting tell us about why we feel empathy, and fall for an actor on stage? And how can a bizarre neurological syndrome or a Shakespearean sonnet explain love and intimacy?

Writing the Science Fiction Film by Robert Grant, Michael Wise Productions, trdpbk, £17.99 / US$26.95 / Can$29.95. ISBN 978-1-615-93136-1.
A very useful introductory guide giving much practical help for aspiring SF film screenwriters especially those who knowledge of SF is more casual (not as great as aficionados). Having said that, it works equally well for aficionados with a considerable knowledge of SF who have written SF shorts and novels but not for film and who want to add film writing to their oeuvre. Recommended. (We may well have a standalone review of this next season.)

Computing With Quantum Cats: From Colossus to Quibits by John Gribbin, Atlantic Books, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-593-07114-4.
The science behind quantum computing and its implications for applications. John Gribbin is a well known author of numerous popular science books and a past contributor to SF2 Concatenation.

Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception by Claudia Hammond, Cannongate, pbk, £8.99. 978-1-847-67791-4.

Self Illusion: Why There Is No You Inside Your Head by Bruce Hood, Constable, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-780-33872-9.
We believe we have self, but if so where is it?

The Serpent's Promise by Steve Jones, Little Brown, hrdbk, £25.00. ISBN 978-1-408-70285-7.
The Bible was the first textbook of all; and it got some things right (and plenty more wrong). Steve Jones’ new book rewrites it in the light of modern science. Are we all descended from a single couple, a real-life Adam and Eve? Was the Bible’s great flood really a memory of the end of the Ice Age? Will we ever get back to Methuselah given that British life expectancy is still rising by six hours a day, every day? Many people deny the power of faith, many more the power of science. In this ground-breaking work, geneticist Steve Jones explores their shared mysteries – from the origins of life and humankind to sex, age, death and the end of the universe. He steps aside from the noisy debate between believers and unbelievers to show how the same questions preoccupy us today as in biblical times – and that science offers many of the answers… Steve Jones is Professor of Genetics at University College London and the president of the Galton Institute.

Uncorked: The Science of Champagne by Gerard Liger-Belair, Princetown University Press, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-691-15872-3.

A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-fiction by Terry Pratchett, Transworld, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-857-52122-4.
A collection of essays and other non fiction from Terry, spanning the whole of his writing career from his early years to the present day.

Time Reborn: From the Crisis of Physics to the Future of the Universe by Lee Smolin, Aha! Press UK, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-846-14299-4.
Author is a respected scientist.

How to Make a Zombie: The Real Life (and Death) Science of Reanimation and Mind Control by Frank Swain, One World, trdpbk, £11.99. ISBN 978-1-851-68944-6.

Darwin's Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists by Rebecca Stott, Bloomsbury, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-405-831041-4.

Why Genes Are Not Selfish and People Are Nice: A Challenge to the Dangerous Ideas That Dominate Our Lives by Colin Tudge, Floris Books, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-863-15977-0.

Why Can't a Woman Move Like a Man? The Evolution of Sex and Gender by Lewis Wolpert FIBiol, Faber & Faber, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0571-27924-1.
Lewis is a developmental biologist who has written a number of popular academic books.

Always the Fat Kid: The Truth About the Enduring Effects of Childhood Obesity by Jacob Warren & K. Bryant, Smalley, hrdbk, £16.99. 978-0-230-34177.

Brian now has autographed copies of -- Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide by Jonathan Cowie & Tony Chester, Porcupine Books, pbk, 272pp. ISBN 0-954-91490-2. E-mail Brian (follow the Porcupine Books link) first to check availability. Also Essential is now available from Amazon.   Jump to the new specific Amazon link earlier on (but it's cheaper from Porcupine). If you enjoy Concat then you can support us by getting this book either for yourself or a friend and there are postage discounts for getting more than one copy and a further discount is available if buying several for an SF group or SF class.

 

Our latest in-depth reviews of recent non-fiction SF and popular science books can be found linked from the whats new index.

In depth reviews of many science and SF non-fiction books can be found off the non-fiction reviews index.

 

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

Summer 2013

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Remembrance of the Daleks by Ben Aaronovitch, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90598-5.
This is a BBC Books re-issue as part of the Who 50th anniversary celebration… With unfinished business to attend to, the Seventh Doctor (as played by Sylvester McCoy) returns to where it all began: Coal Hill School in London in 1963. Last time he was here, the Doctor left something behind – a powerful Time Lord artefact that could unlock the secrets of time travel. Can the Doctor retrieve it before two rival factions of Daleks track it down? And even if he can, how will the Doctor prevent the whole of London becoming a war zone as the Daleks meet in explosive confrontation? A Dalek novel from a contemporary novelist and Dr Who screenplay writer, Ben is known for his Rivers of London novels.

The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90517-6.
This is a BBC Books re-issue as part of the Who 50th anniversary celebration… The winter festival is approaching for the hardy colony of Morphans, but no one is in the mood to celebrate. They’re trying to build a new life on a cold new world, but each year gets harder and harder. It is almost as if some dark force is working against them. Then three mysterious travellers arrive out of the midwinter night, one of them claiming to be a doctor. Are they bringing the gift of salvation or doom? And what else might be lurking out there, about to wake up? An Eleventh Doctor adventure, featuring the Doctor as played by Matt Smith and his companions Amy and Rory.

Fear of the Dark by Trevor Baxendale, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90522-0.
This is a BBC Books re-issue as part of the Who 50th anniversary celebration… On a moon of the ruined planet Akoshemon, an age-old terror is about to be reborn. Something that remembers the spiral of war, pestilence and deprivation – and rejoices in it. The Fifth Doctor (as played by Peter Davison) joins a team of archaeologists searching for evidence of the planet’s infamous past, and uncovers more than just ancient history. Forced to confront his own worst fears, even the Doctor will be pushed to breaking point – and beyond.

Ten Little Aliens by Stephen Cole, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90516-9.
This is a BBC Books re-issue as part of the Who 50th anniversary celebration… Deep in the heart of a hollowed-out moon the First Doctor (as played by William Hartnell) finds a chilling secret: ten alien corpses, frozen in time at the moment of their death. They are the empire’s most wanted terrorists, and their discovery could end a war devastating the galaxy. But is the same force that killed them still lurking in the dark? And what are its plans for the people of Earth? Stephen is the author of a number of film and TV-tie in novels.

Man of Steel: The Official Movie Novelization by Greg Cox, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16599-7.

Players by Terrance Dicks, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90521-3.
This is a BBC Books re-issue as part of the Who 50th anniversary celebration… Arriving on the sun-baked veldt in the middle of the Boer War, the Sixth Doctor (as played by Colin Baker) is soon involved in the adventures of struggling politician and war correspondent Winston Churchill. Of course, he knows Churchill is destined for great things, but unseen forces seem to be interfering with Winston’s historic career… The Doctor suspects the hidden hand of the Players, mysterious beings who regard human history as little more than a game. With time running out, can the Doctor find the right moves to defeat them?   Terrance Dicks is noted for his scripts for The Avengers as well as other series before becoming Assistant and later full Script Editor of Doctor Who from 1968. He also worked on the entirety of the Jon Pertwee Third Doctor era of the programme, and then turned to writing for the show, scripting Tom Baker’s first story as the Fourth Doctor.

Fringe Novel No. 1 by Christa Faust, Titan Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16309-2.

Last of the Gaderene by Mark Gatiss, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90597-8.
This is a BBC Books re-issue as part of the Who 50th anniversary celebration… The aerodrome in Culverton has new owners, and they promise an era of prosperity for the idyllic village. But former Spitfire pilot Alex Whistler is suspicious – when black-shirted troops appear on the streets, he contacts his old friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart at UNIT. The Third Doctor (as played by Jon Pertwee) is sent to investigate – and soon uncovers a sinister plot to colonise the Earth. The Gaderene are on their way… Mark Gatiss of course co-created and writes for the hit TV series Sherlock with Doctor Who show-runner Steven Moffat.

Star Wars: The Old Republic by Drew Karpyshyn, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16547-8.

Festival of Death by Jonathan Morris, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90523-7.
This is a BBC Books re-issue as part of the Who 50th anniversary celebration… 'The Beautiful Death' is the ultimate theme-park ride: a sightseeing tour of the afterlife. But something has gone wrong, and when the Fourth Doctor (as played by Tom Baker) arrives in the aftermath of the disaster, he is congratulated for saving the population from destruction – something he has not actually done yet. He has no choice but to travel back in time and discover how he became a hero. And then he finds out. He did it by sacrificing his life.

The Complete Flash Gordon Library: The Fall of Ming by Alex Raymond, Titan Books, hrdbk, £29. ISBN 978-0-576-8688-6.
Graphic novel collection.

Earthworld by Jacqueline Rayner, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90520-6.
This is a BBC Books re-issue as part of the Who 50th anniversary celebration… Anji has just had the worst week of her life. She should be back at her desk, not travelling through time and space in a police box. The Eighth Doctor (as played by Paul McGann) is supposed to be taking her home, so why are there dinosaurs outside? The Doctor doesn’t seem to know either, or else he surely would have mentioned the homicidal princesses, teen terrorists and mad robots? One thing is certain: Anji is never going to complain about Monday mornings in the office again.

Dreams of Empire by Justin Richards, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90524-4.
This is a BBC Books re-issue as part of the Who 50th anniversary celebration… On a barren asteroid, the once-mighty Haddron Empire is on the brink of collapse, torn apart by civil war. The one man who might have saved it languishes in prison, his enemies planning his death and his friends plotting his escape. The Second Doctor (as played by Patrick Troughton) arrives as the last act of this deadly drama is being played out – and with both terrifying killers and cunning traitors to defeat, the future hangs in the balance.

Only Human by Gareth Roberts, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90519-0.
This is a BBC Books re-issue as part of the Who 50th anniversary celebration… Reports of a time disturbance lead the Ninth Doctor (as played by Christopher Eccleston) to modern-day London, where he discovers a Neanderthal Man, twenty-eight thousand years after his race became extinct. A trip back to the dawn of humanity only deepens the mystery: who are these strange humans from the far future now living in the distant past? The Doctor must learn the truth about the Osterberg experiment before history is changed forever.

Beautiful Chaos by Gary Russell, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90518-3.
This is a BBC Books re-issue as part of the Who 50th anniversary celebration… Wilfred Mott is very happy: his granddaughter, Donna, is back home, catching up with family and gossiping about her journeys, and he has just discovered a new star and had it named after him. He takes the Tenth Doctor (as played by David Tennant) with him to the naming ceremony. But the Doctor soon discovers something else new, and worryingly bright, in the heavens – something that is heading for Earth. It’s an ancient force from the Dark Times. And it is very, very angry…

 

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

Summer 2013

SELECTED FORTHCOMING DVD RELEASES

Beetlejuice [Blu-ray + UV Copy] £12.50 from Warner Home Video.
Certificate 15 horror comedy starring Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis and Michael Keaton. Before making Batman, director Tim Burton and star Michael Keaton teamed up for this interesting 1988 black comedy about a young couple (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) whose premature death leads them to a series of wildly bizarre afterlife exploits. As ghosts in their own New England home, they are faced with the challenge of scaring off the pretentious new owners (Catherine O'Hara and Jeffrey Jones), whose Goth daughter (Winona Ryder) has an affinity for all things morbid. Keaton plays the mischievous Beetlejuice, a freelance 'bio-exorcist' who has got an evil agenda behind his plot to help the young undead newlyweds.

Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. [Blu-ray] £12.50 from StudioCanal.
This is one of the less-remembered Peter Cushing Dr Who outings. Also stars Ray Brooks, Jill Curzon, Roberta Tovey and Andrew Keir.

Doctor Who - Series 7 Part 2 [DVD] £17.75 from 2entertain.
Three disc set of the latest adventures with Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, Liam Cunningham, David Warner and Diana Rigg. The episodes are: 'The Bells of Saint John', 'The Rings of Akhaten', 'Cold War', 'Hide', 'Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS', 'The Crimson Horror', 'The Last Cyberman' and 'Finale'.

Extraction [a.k.a. Extracted] [Blu-ray] £10.25 from Signature Entertainment.
Certificate 15. Hard SF film starring: Sash Roiz, Jenny Mollen, Dominic Bogart and Richard Riehle, and directed by Nir Paniry. Thomas Jacobs is an engineer scientist who invents a device that enables him to enter the mind of a patient and observe them in their memories. Having run out of funds to complete the project, he teams up with the Justice Department who plans to use it to see criminals enact their crimes. However, during the first test on a convict, Tom gets trapped. For four years Tom is stuck in the criminal s mind until he discovers a glitch in the system. It soon becomes a race for survival as Tom is forced to work with the reluctant criminal to find a way out… Now, we have not been able to find out much about this forthcoming DVD but we think it is a 2012 independent straight-to-DVD offering that has only been seen at a few film fests. The word – such as it is – is that this is a surprisingly good offering that you may well want to check out.

Falling Skies - Season 1-2 [DVD] £28.00 from Warner Home Video
The complete first and second seasons of the US sci-fi drama (not shown on British Isles terrestrial TV/Freeview) so this may be the cnace for some of you to catch this popular series. It is set in the aftermath of an alien invasion. Six months previously the Earth suffered an extraterrestrial attack on a global scale, which left only ten percent of the human population alive. Now soldiers and civilians are banding together in an attempt to fight back. Former university professor Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) is made second-in-command of the Second Massachusetts and must put all his knowledge of military history to the test to aid the cause. Meanwhile, he hopes to find his 14-year-old son, Ben (Connor Jessup), who has been taken by the enemy and fitted with a 'harness', a device that enables the aliens to control children.

Firefly - The Complete Series (Limited Edition Steelbook) [Blu-ray] £31.75 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Certificate 12. Hugely lauded by many, considered derivative (a western in space by others) Firefly was a popular sci-fi space opera series back in 2002. Taken off the air before its time, its popularity was such that in 2005 there was a spin-off film, Serenity that won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form in 2006… It is a western in space where the losers in a civil war are heading out to a barren frontier. Mal Reynolds is a man embittered by the war, yet whose love of his comrades perpetually dents his cynicism--even in the 14 episodes that exist we see him warm to the bubbly young mechanic Kaylee, the preacher Book, the idealistic doctor Simon, even to the often demented River, Simon's sister, the psychic result of malign experiments…

Fringe - Season 5 [Blu-ray + UV Copy] £21.50 from Warner Home Video.
All episodes from the fifth and final season of the sci-fi television drama, co-created by J.J. Abrams, following a team investigating cases of strange phenomena that exist on the fringes of science. In this season, which takes place in a dystopian world in the year 2036, the Fringe team attempt to carry out a plan to defeat the Observers but sacrifices will have to be made if they are to succeed. The episodes comprise: 'Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11', 'In Absentia', 'The Recordist', 'The Bullet That Saved the World', 'An Origin Story', 'Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There', 'Five-Twenty-Ten', 'The Human Kind', 'Black Blotter', 'Anomaly XB-6783746', 'The Boy Must Live', 'Liberty' and 'An Enemy Fate'.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [DVD + UV Copy] £13.00 from Warner Home Video.
'Nuff said.

Merlin and the Dragon Empire [DVD] £5.00 from Lightning Pictures.
Stars: Nia Ann, Carys Eleri, William Huw, Jürgen Prochnow and Simon Lloyd Roberts. Director Mark Atkins. 2008 fantasy adventure set in Dark Age Britain. Young Merlin (Simon Lloyd Roberts) has to emerge from his training as a wizard to take on the might of the dragon empire in this exciting tale of magic and mythical creatures. Certificate 15.

Primeval: New World - Season 1 [DVD] £21.50 from Entertainment One.
Three disc set of the new Primeval spin-off series starring: Niall Matter, Sara Canning, Crystal Lowe, Amanda Tapping and Andy Mikita. Space-time anomolies allow creatures from the Earth's past and future to rampage in the present. Someone has to clean up the mess…

Space Precinct Legacy [Blu-ray] £16.25 from Event Films Limited.
Poor old Gerry Anderson never got the financial support he needed from British television channels and so he turned to Hollywood whose conditions ruined what turned out to be Space 1999 (but should have been a more adult, follow-up U.F.O.). His backers did though have faith in him to produce the most expensive (in real terms) TV series, Space Precinct, but with contracts that financially make it unlikely that the series will ever be re-screened. The story of the most ambitious British television series ever made. A feature length documentary about Gerry Anderson's short lived, live action series Space Precinct. Featuring all new interviews with cast and crew and never before seen behind the scenes material. Space Precinct Legacy is a must have for all Gerry Anderson and science fiction fans and those into the behind the scenes of cult TV… This documentary will be screened at this year's Sci-Fi London.

Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) - Limited Edition Steelbook [Blu-ray] £29.99 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels original trilogy before Lucas ruined it. Three disc set. Better get it quick before Lucas does yet another cut.

Stranded [Blu-ray] £11.25 from Signature Entertainment.
Certificate 15. Colonel Gerard K. Brauchman (Christian Slater) leads a team of isolated astronauts on board the ARK moon base. When a meteor collides with their base, the astronauts find themselves in immediate danger: spores from the meteorite can replicate, reproduce and mutate human cell structure, leaving everyone on board to fight for their lives. Stranded is directed by Oscar nominated Roger Christian who previously worked on Star Wars and Alien.

Zombies of War [DVD] £10.25 from Lightning Pictures.
Certificate 15 horror film with zombies in World War II. Hitler's desperation to win the war at all costs, combined with his obsession with science and the paranormal, give rise to a deadly type of warfare. Hitler unleashes his secret weapons -unstoppable Nazi super-soldiers - onto the advancing Allied army. After the D-Day landing, Lieutenant John Schmidt and his squad suffer losses when they encounter the monstrous German soldiers. When the military acknowledges the supernatural incidents, Lt. Schmidt is reassigned to a new unit with a mission to destroy Hitler s weapons lab. After they are shot down in occupied France, the soldiers find themselves caught between the German army and Zombie creatures.

See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in 2013, check out our forthcoming film diary.

To see our chart ratings for last year's films, nearly all of which are now available for DVD hire, then check out our most recent annual film top ten.

 

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

Summer 2013

R.I.P.

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

Angel Arango, the Cuban SF grandmaster, has died aged 85. Though he made his living as an aviation lawyer, he was one of Cuban SF's three founding fathers. His works included his collection of shorts A Dónde van los Cefalomos [ Where do the Cefalomos go?]. His style was heavily influenced by classic Anglo Golden Age Bradbury , Sturgeon and Asimov among others, together with a hint of New Wave. His most translated-to-English short story was 'An Unexpected Visitor'. His latest novel, La Columna Bífida [The Spina Bifida] has yet to be published.

Keith Armstrong-Bridges, the longstanding British fantasy fan, has died. He was involved in the formation of the Tolkien Society. Aside from his profile at a national level in British fandom, his Hertfordshire home was a regular venue for fantasy war-gaming.

Robert Briggs , the US fan, has died aged 82. He was one of the founding members of the Washington Science Fiction Society and became the first Vice President of the Washington Science Fiction Association when the society changed name.

Allyn Cadogan, the US fan, has died aged 65. She was a fanzine fan and co-editor of Convention Girls' Digest and her own Genre Plat.

Scott Clark, the US comic strip artist, has died tragically young at just 43. He began working for WildStorm studio in the 1990s as a penciller on StormWatc. Since then, notably, he worked as an artist on Justice League: Cry For Justice and more recently on I, Vampire. He died in the US in Miami where he lived for the last four years of his life.

Didier Comes, the Belgian comics artist, has died aged just 54. He is the twice winner of the Prix Saint-Miche.

Ray Cusick, the British television set designer, has died aged 84. He is best known in genre circles for the actual design of the Terry Nation iconic concept creation the Daleks. Another BBC in-house designer, future film-maker Ridley Scott, had been assigned to design the Daleks, but scheduling conflicts saw the job handed to Ray Cusick. In July 2008 he appeared in an episode of the BBC Three documentary series Doctor Who Confidential, when he spoke of the original Dalek design and how Terry's cyborg concept came to design fruition.

Roger Ebert, the US fan, has died aged 70. Mundanes will know him as a Pulitzer prizewinning, film critic. Longstanding genre circles will recall his involvement in early US fandom.

Robert Edwards, the British biomedical scientist, has died aged 87. He pioneered IVF (in vitro fertilisation) technique has helped bring more than 4 million children into the world. In the late 1970s, Edwards and Dr Patrick Steptoe became famous after developing the technique of in vitro fertilization, which resulted in 1978 in the birth of Louise Brown, the world's first so-called test tube baby. Their work won them the gratitude of millions but was criticised by the Vatican. He won the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine in 2010.

Jan Howard (Wombat) Finder, the US fan, has died aged 73. He was the editor of the fanzine The Spang Blah and the SF anthology Alien Encounters (1982). As a conrunner he organized the Middle-Earth conferences (1969, 1971, 2011 and another planned for 2014). Notably for those of us this side of the Pond, he ran Novacon West (Albany, NY, 1979) in parallel with our Novacon 9 (Birmingham) as well as attending some of the other Novacons.

Stuart Freeborn, the British motion picture make-up artist, has died aged 98. Known as the 'grandfather of modern make-up design', he is perhaps best known for his work on the original Star Wars trilogy, most notably the design and fabrication of Yoda and Chewbacca together with the creation of Jabba the Hutt and the Ewoks. However SF cinematic buffs know him for his work on the Hugo-winning 2001: A Space Odyssey where he created the humans/apes for the 'Dawn of Man' sequence. Such aficionados are acutely aware of the injustice done by the Oscars in 1969 in which Planet of the Apes got nominated for a 'Best Costume Design' Oscar in 1969 but 2001: A Space Odyssey did not: rumour has it the Hollywood folk thought Kubrick used (got Freeborn to use) real apes! Freeborn was also the make-up visual supervisor in the Christopher Reeve run of Superman films from the Hugo-winning 1978 Superman onwards. The other genre films on which he worked included: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972); Dr. Strangelove (1964); and The Omen (1976). That his career virtually spanned talking films up to his death is exemplified by his being the uncredited makeup artist on The Thief of Bagdad (1940).

Richard E. Geis, the US fan, has died aged 85. He was the editor of the Hugo Award winning fanzines Science Fiction Review and The Alien Critic.

Rick Hautala, the US horror author, had died aged 61. He has written over 90 novels and short stories since the early 1980s. His third novel, Night Stone (1986) was one of the first books to feature a holographic cover and it became an international best-seller, selling well over one million copies. His short story 'Knocking' was a part of the Bram Stoker Award-winning anthology 999: New Stories of Horror and Suspense. In 2011 the Horror Writers Association presented him with the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement.

James Herbert, the British horror writer, has died aged 69. Unofficially given the accolade by many horror aficionados as Britain's Stephen King, James' books have sold 54 million copies worldwide, and translated into 34 languages. While some horror is mundane, such as gruesome tales of serial murderers set in the present day without any fantastical dimension, James Herbert's novels often had a firm speculative fiction (be it fantasy or SF) riff and if not that, were at least techno-thrillers. For example, his first two books, The Rats (1974) and The Fog (1975) (both recently reprinted in 2010) were disaster novels with man-eating giant black rats in the first and an accidentally released chemical weapon in the second. While his third novel was a ghost story The Survivor (1976) as was The Secret of Crickley Hall (2006). His novel Creed (1990) was a comedy-horror with the protagonist Joe Creed being a cynical, sleazy paparazzo who is drawn into a story involving fed-up and underappreciated monsters. Other novels among many include Others (1999), Once... (2001), Nobody True (2003) and Ash (2010), the latter of which we cited as one of the Best Fantasy books of that year. The World Horror Convention made him a Grand Master in 2010 and he was also awarded an OBE by the Queen's government… One of his friends, the musician Gordon Giltrap, paid tribute to him on Twitter: "Received some sad news this morning that my good friend James Herbert has passed away. Am in no mood for music, that's for sure. RIP Jim." While another, Neil Gaiman, described him as "incredibly encouraging", saying that one of the "joys" of James Herbert's fiction was that "for so many people it was the virtual soundtrack to their teenage years"… Another great gone.

Anne Jordan, the US magazine editor, has died aged 69. Notably, she was an editor atThe Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction between 1979-1989. The 'Anne Devereaux Jordan Award' was established in her honour and is now given annually by the Children’s Literature Association for outstanding contributions to children’s literature.

Tingye Li, the electrical engineer who developed application theory for LASERs, has died aged 81. Lasers were in the early stage of development when Dr. Li and a colleague at Bell Labs, A. Gardner Fox, developed a computer simulation of how lasers produce the focused light energy. It was a great achievement given it was in the days (1961) of punch-card computer programming. This ultimately led to laser fibre optic communication. Dr. Li often quoted Confucius, though friends suspected he sometimes made up his own quotations before attributing them to the philosopher. He often travelled to China to help it develop. The Chinese Academy sent his family a letter praising him for helping China 'leapfrog to a higher level' in telecommunications. Li's death happened just after Christmas but the news broke only after we had finalised the copy for last season's news.

Dan Morgan, the British SF author, has died aged 85. His stories tended to be action SF and he is perhaps best known for his '6th Perception' series about those with psionic abilities: The New Minds (1967) The Several Minds (1969), The Mind Trap (1970) and The Country of the Mind (1975).

Henry Newton, the British SF fan, has sadly died. Henry and his wife Cherry were both SF fans who met at the 1979 Brighton Worldcon, romance bloomed, and they were soon married. For many years they held annual summer barbecue parties at their home on 'The Rock' in Cheshire, attended by local fans and professionals such as Ramsey Campbell, and fans Tony & Marge Edwards among many others. For many years he and Cherry were Novacon regulars.

Don Payne, the US screenwriter/producer, has died aged only 48. His works include: My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), Thor (2011), Maximum Ride (2013), Thor: The DarkWorld (2013) and episodes of The Simpsons.

Daniel Pearlman, the US short story writer, has died aged 77. His shorts began appearing in the late 1980s Amazing, and Nemonymous, as well as being re-printed in several anthologies and three collections of his work. His sole novel was Memini (2003). For 25 years he taught creative writing at the University of Rhode Island.

Nick Pollotta, the US novelist, has died aged 58. He is noted for his comedy novels including Illegal Aliens (1989), Bureau 13 (1990) and That Darn Squid God (2004) and the 'Satellite Night' trilogy, as well as adventure books written as James Axler, Don Pendleton and Jack Hopkins. He wrote over two score novels either alone or with a co-author. His steampunk Savage, co-authored with Bill Dunbar, came out this year (2013).

Robert Richardson, the US physicist, has died aged 75. Arguably his most important contribution was the co-discovery of superfluidity in helium-3 for which David Lee Douglas Osheroff and he received a Nobel Prize. His other awards included the Sir Francis Simon Memorial Prize and the Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Mater Prize. He was also the co-author of the textbook College Physics.

Jacques Sadoul, the French SF author, editor and academic, has died aged 78. He has had a formidable SFnal career. Not only has he written SF/F – including The 'La Passion Selon Satan' ['The Passion according to Satan'] trilogy (1960 onwards) – but the renowned non-fiction Histoire de la Science Fiction Moderne (1973) and Hier, l’an 2000: L’illustration de Science Fiction des Annees 30 [Year 2000: 30 Years of SF Art]. As an editor he was one of the first to commission SF paperbacks in France with the publisher Editions Opta. Later he created an SF imprint for the publisher J’ai Lu. Among his other genre achievement was helping to found the Prix Apollo award. In 2006 his autobiographical C’est dans la Poche! was published.

David B. Silva, the N. American horror editor and author has died aged 62. Silva edited The Horror Show magazine 1983 -1990. His short story 'The Calling' won the Bram Stoker Award and his collection Through Shattered Glass won the International Horror Guild Award. His novels included The Disappeared and Child of Darkness.

Paul Williams, the N. American, Philip K. Dick activist, has died aged 64. Though Paul was a ground-breaking rock music journalist, but it was his friendship with Philip K. Dick (Paul became Dick's Literary Executor) and his founding and running the Philip K. Dick Society that will be remembered in genre circles. He wrote a book on Philip Dick, Only Apparently Real (1986). He was also a fan of Theodore Sturgeon, and he edited 11 of a 13-volume edition of Sturgeon’s short stories that will be appearing as Gollancz SF Gateway eBooks over the next few months. Sadly, Paul had a bicycle accident in 1995 that left him with a brain injury.

 

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

Summer 2013

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

Tractor beam developed. Tomas Cizmar and his team from School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews (Britain), have developed a way to use light to attract microscopic objects. Usually when microscopic objects are hit by a beam of light, they are forced along the direction of the beam by the light photons. That radiation force was first identified by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler in 1619 when he observed that tails of comets always point away from the Sun. Cizmar's team's technique allows for that force to be reversed which seems counter-intuitive but there is a space of parameters when this force reverses. The practical applications could be considerable. For example, it is very selective in the properties of the particles it acts on, so you could pick up specific particles in a mix: it could be used to separate white blood cells. However the process transfers energy. With small objects this does not matter but with large objects – due to the square/cube law – it would result in considerable heating. The research was published in Nature Photonics. It is a development of a similar idea by Chinese scientists we previously reported in 2011. +++ The earliest use of the term 'tractor beam' was, of course, in SF. E. E. 'Doc' Smith used it in The Skylark of Space (which was serialised in Amazing Stories in 1928, novel 1946) and also Spacehounds of IPC (Amazing Stories serialisation 1931, novel 1947).

Time travel has been developed says Iranian news agency. Actually it is not time-travel but an app that purports to predict the user's future. Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency said that a Tehrani scientist, Ali Razeghi, Aryayek had developed a Time Travelling Machine that "satisfies all the needs of human society," and quotes the Centre for Strategic Inventions managing director as saying that his device will help Iran's government "prepare itself for challenges that might destabilize it." Not much was reported of the device itself, except that Razaeghi had been working on it since he was 17, and that it "fits into the size of a personal computer case and can predict details of the next 5-8 years of the life of its users." However such was the ridicule heaped on the report by the world's press that the news agency pulled its report. This is but the latest in a number of Iranian reports of false technological developments. However this is the furthest they have ventured into SFnal territory so far.

Would Batman be liable to damage inadvertently caused when crime fighting in Gotham? Could lawyer Harvey Dent sue the caped crusader? Would blind lawyer Matt Murdock have to explain why his Daredevil alter ego should be exempt from being sued if a by-standing member of the public got accidently injured as a result of a superhero fight? What are the legal health and safety implications for Tony (Iron Man) Stark wearing a portable fusion reactor? Attorneys James Daily and Ryan Davidson discuss thison their blog lawandthemultiverse.com.

US political fiction overruled by judge in favour of science. The morning-after pill should be made available to girls under 17 without a doctor's prescription a New York judge rules. The arguments for this are based on unwanted teenage pregnancy data but in 2011 had been overruled by President Barack Obama's administration (no doubt with an eye on second term re-election and Bible belt voters). Now, Judge Edward Korman has ruled that the government's decision was "arbitrary, capacious and unreasonable". The US Food and Drug Administration have restricted access since former President George W. Bush times despite scientists' arguments. In addition to the pregnancy data the drug is safe; by comparison, teenagers can legally buy a lethal dose of paracetamol perfectly legally. An FDA head had wanted to make the drug available without prescription but was overruled by the US Secretary of health and human services prior to the Presidential election. Now, over a year on, Judge Korman has ruled that that decision was "politically motivated, scientifically unjustified, and contrary to agency precedent. This gives Obama another chance to fulfil his 2001 promise to letting agency scientists to do their jobs "listening to what they tell us, even when it's inconvenient – especially when it's inconvenient".

Sham science journals rise as science open access increases. Scientists wishing their papers to be open access (and there are now new rules in Britain and the US) and seeking immediate open access, naturally hunt around for journals charging the least for publication. However, some of these journals do not always deliver on the peer-review, editing and other services expected in science publishing. Librarian and researcher Jeffrey Beall at the University of Colorado (US) has surveyed 300 publishers and thousands of journals. He estimates that in 2012 between 5-10% of all open-access papers were from journals with poor if not fraudulent science publishing practices. Some of these journals skimp on the peer review (fail to rely on a number of peer review reports per paper), while others declare that some expert scientists are on the editorial board when they are not. Some do not clearly describe their editorial process, while others claim a false journal impact factor (the average number of times a paper is cited by another paper).  The problem with these journals is two fold. First, some genuinely good science may get less prominence by being published in a lower profile journal. Second, some poor science gets published when it should have been rejected or at least returned for correction and then resubmission.

Germany's science and education minister resigns due to her PhD having plagiarisms. Annette Schavan resigned four days after the University of Dusseldorf confirmed that her PhD theses contained plagiarisms and revoked her doctorate. Apparently she had "systematically and deliberately" reproduced work that was not her own without citing the source. Schavan says she will challenge in court.

Bulgaria's science and education minister was fired after an inquiry revealed mismanagement. Sergei Ignatov was sacked after accusations that the nation's Science Fund was supporting poor-quality research by researchers with connections to the Fund.

 

 

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

Summer 2013

End Bits

 

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

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Arno Behrend, Angel Carralero, Boris Dolingo, Pierre Gevart, Carolina Gomez Lagerlof, Marcin 'Alqua' Klak, Charles Partington, Rog Peyton, Peter Weston, plus a number reporting from this year's Eurocon that took place the weekend prior to our posting this season's edition – these folk remain nameless to protect the innocent – and not least thanks to the very many representatives of SF groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk who sent in news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page.   If you feel that your news, or SF news that interests you, should be here then you need to e-mail us (as we cannot report what we are not told). :-)

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Autumn 2013 period – needs to be in before the 3rd week in August 2012. News is especially sought concerns SF author news as well as that relating to national SF conventions: size, number of those attending, prizes and any special happenings.

To contact us see here and try to put something clearly science fictional in the subject line in case your message ends up being spam-filtered and needs rescuing.

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


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