Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Summer 2007

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

Summer 2007

EDITORIAL MATTERS

As of Easter 2007 the Science Fact & Fiction Concatenation was 20 years old...


Cover of issue no.1 in 1987.

Yes, we are twenty!   It all began with the BECCON EasterCon CONvention (BECCON) which was the 1987 UK national SF convention, which also happened to be on the 50th anniversary of the World's first ever SF convention. (Wheels within wheels...)   The BECCON Eastercon itself sprang from a series of three biennial Basildon Essex Crest CONventions (BECCONs) for the London region. -- OK well one was an Essex Centre convention. It was a philosophy of BECCON to provide extras. Many of these were in the form of firework displays but for two conventions a fanzine was produced, and it was the second fanzine that came out mid-convention during the 1987 Eastercon that was the first ever Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation. The idea was that it would be a kind of SF review of the year with a dollop of science thrown in for good measure (it was part of a then campaign to get real science regularly onto Eastercon programmes). Charles and Harry, of the Manchester & District SF Society (MaD SF), kindly provided free printing on spare paper they had. The reaction was quite positive and there was even advertising interest that enabled subsequent editions be produced through to most of the 1990s. After that in 1999 the last issue was largely archived on the internet and then shortly we started building the site. People helped out and the semi-regulars, as well as those pivotally involved in the zine's projects or ventures, became part of the loose association that is the Concatenation team.   Over the years the team's special projects have included: providing a press liaison service for a number of international conventions; assisting with the Anglo-Romanian SF & science cultural exchange (in the years following the fall of the Berlin wall) and its fan fund; helping run small international conventions; and producing Essential SF.   So here we are and now it is time to embark on our third decade... - 'Splundig' as Tharg would say.

CONCAT' SITE UPDATE ALERT SERVICE: Now you can receive e-mail alerts (only every other month) letting you know when this site has a major update. This alert service is free and your e-mail addresses will not be passed on to other parties. For details see the bottom of this news page. Meanwhile, if not already, treat yourself and also e-mail a friend who you think would be interested... Go on, brighten someone's day and e-mail them right now with this electrifying news... SF to your computer at near the speed of light. :-)

In-house project news: Essential SF is now available from Amazon.co.uk. Sadly we have had to up the UK by-post price following the second increase in post rates since the book came out, but still for a specialist reference text it is good value. Do your bit to spread the genre word. Makes for a great birthday present. Help support Concat. See also news of signed copies from Porcupine Books (who can send you copies cheaper...).

As you know each season we carry a single selection of the Nature 'Futures' one page short stories. (Nature being the leading multidisciplinary science journal.) Now that the current series in the weekly Nature has come to an end (though it is continuing in one of the more specialist monthly journals) our arrangement by which we make a seasonal selected story available to you also comes to an end... Or does it? Nature is kindly allowing us to make similar selections from the first run of 'Futures' stories from 7 years ago. This will enable us to provide you with a story between each of our three seasonal news postings a year through to 2008/9.

Viewing the Science Fact & Fiction Concatenation on your mobile phone? Though we have received some encouraging feedback that Concat's text-only format is great for mobile phone users (those phones that access the internet that is), it appears that some phones' browsers do not allow links enabling you to jump 'within' pages (they only allow links to work 'between' pages). Because our seasonal newscast is big, and mobile phone screens are small, this can be a problem. However you can get around this by instead of using the mini-newscast indices between newscast sections, you use the master news index instead on a separate page. This master index was re-formatted last season to make it more clear to use.

 

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

Summer 2007

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

IT'S ALL 'ANNIVERSARIES OF BIRTHS' AND 'DEATH' IN THE HEADLINES THIS SEASON

Kurt Vonnegut dies aged 84 -- click here for details.

First ever SF convention held 70 years ago in Great Britain   +++ Meanwhile New York's Lunacon is 50   and Russia's oldest convention is 26.

Delayed celebration of Star Trek's 40th anniversary -- click here for details.

European Union (EU) environmental policy 35 years old.

Asimov's Science Fiction (Magazine) is 30.   +++ 2000AD is having a 30th anniversary bash.   +++ Interzone, the British SF short story magazine, is 25

Philip K. Dick, 25 years on after his death. -- click for details here.

Concatenation is 20 -- well you may have scrolled down the very top bit and missed it -- Meanwhile Locus On-line is 10 years old... and and a nod to one of the newsest e-zines on the web as Sci-Fi Reporter is one year old.

Concat' team member to boldly go swim the English Channel! -- click for details here.

The Geological Society is 200 and the Earth 4,567 years old but does not yet have a single global geological map.   +++ Linnaeus, father of species classification, was born 300 years ago and Dolly (not exactly a new species) is 10 years old.

Physics' Woodstock was held 20 years ago and superconductivity theory defined 50 years ago. -- click here for details.

The Sky At Night is 50 years old.   +++ Dr Who gets a 30th season.

The Hugo Award nominations for SF achievement are out -- click here for details +++ As is the UK popular science shortlist.

Captain America is dead: Shock, horror, drama probe -- click here for details.

Harry Potter death betting frenzy -- click here for details --and Potter train vandalised -- click here for details.

 

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

Summer 2007

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SF NEWS

The UK popular science book shortlist for 2007 is out. The award is administered by whatever is the current incarnation of the Royal Society's Committee for Public Understanding of Science (COPUS) and funded by whoever is the current sponsor (quite frankly our popular science bod has given up bothering to keep track so frequent are the changes). Anyway, the shortlist is:-
          Can You Feel The Force? by Richard Hammond
          How Nearly Everything was Invented by Brainwaves by Lisa Swerling & Ralph Lazar
          It's True! Space Turns You Into Spaghetti by Heather Catchpole & Vanbessa Woods
          KFK Natural Disasters by Andrew Langley
          My Body Book by Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom
          Science Investigation: Electricity by John Farndon.

The 2007 Hugo Award nominations are out for 2006 works of science fiction achievement. The ballots have been counted (from those who attended last year's Worldcon (US) and those registered for this year's (Japan)). The announcement came on 29th March and those registered for this year's Worldcon in Japan will be able to vote over the summer and the winners will be announced at the Worldcon on 2nd September.
Best Novel nominations
          Eifelheim by Michael Flynn (Tor US)
          Temeraire (Voyager) by Naomi Novik (published in the US as His Majesty's Dragon (Del Rey))
          Glasshouse by Charles Stross (Ace)
          Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge (Tor US)
          Blindsight by Peter Watts (Tor US)
Dramatic Presentation Long Form
          Children of Men screenplay by Alfonso Cuaron and Timothy J. Sexton, directed by Alfonso Cuaron
          Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest screenplay by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, directed by Gore Verbinski (Why the strike out? See our films comment on the top ones of 2006 below.)
          Pan's Labyrinth Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro. Directed by Guillermo del Toro
          The Prestige screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, directed by Christopher Nolan
          A Scanner Darkly screenplay by Richard Linklater, directed by Richard Linklater
          V for Vendetta screenplay by Andy and Larry Wachowski (though any appreciation of the story should go entirely to Alan Moore for his graphic novel on which this was 'reasonably' based), directed by James McTeigue
Dramatic Presentation Short Form
          Battlestar Galactica 'Downloaded' written by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle
          Doctor Who 'Army of Ghosts' and 'Doomsday' written by Russell T. Davies
          Doctor Who 'Girl in the Fireplace' written by Steven Moffat
          Doctor Who 'School Reunion' written by Toby Whithouse
          Stargate SG-1 '200' written by Brad Wright, Robert C. Cooper, Joseph Mallozzi, Paul Mullie, Carl Binder, Martin Gero, and Alan McCullough
          Of the other categories, Dave Langford was nominated for 'Best Fan Writer' and Locus for Best Semi-Prozine. 'Nuff said. For the full details of all the Hugo categories see the   www.nippon2007.org   2007 Worldcon site.
          Comment. Well, only one of our best books of 2006 (see below) made it into the Hugo Best Novel short list and that was one of our best 'fantasy' nominations. Remember it is a peculiarity of the Hugo Science Fiction Achievement Awards' rules that works of fantasy are allowed and that the Hugo (unlike the Locus Awards) does not have both 'best SF' and 'best fantasy' categories. Turning to SF, the Glasshouse paperback edition has only just come out in Britain as we post this news and alas none of us saw last year's hardback (them's the breaks) and so none of our team recommended it as a top book of 2006. Having said that we do like Charles Stross (see our reviews of Accelerando (hardback), Accelerando (paperback) and Singularity Sky) so it is not surprising he was again short-listed for a Hugo.   Another problem between our best of 2006 novels and the Hugo short-list is that in the usual run of things we tend to miss things not yet published the British Isles (though of course we may pick them up the following year should they subsequently be released over here), whereas the Hugo usually has a more North American publishing focus. (This is not a gripe but simply a fact with which those of us on the European side of the Atlantic have to live. Rainbow's End by Vernor Vinge and Blindsight by Peter Watts were both published by Tor in the US and as far as we know are not out yet from a UK publisher and so were not considered for our listing of best genre books for 2006. (Having said that, a paperback edition of Rainbow's End is out in the UK this August.) So taking these factors into account it is understandable that this year at least our recommendations for 2006 did not tie in with the Hugo nominations for best novel as they have previously. (Of course taking a broader spectrum beyond the Hugo of those considering 'best genre' novels of 2006 we have a better fit (see the next item).)
          Television (films we will discuss after the following item) so what of the Hugo's Dramatic Presentation Short Form? This is in effect TV science fiction. Well no surprises here with either with Battlestar Galactica getting a showing (except if you have not yet checked it out and so think it is like the 1970s series) or Dr Who. However this last getting three nominations, which it also did the previous year, has to be considered a little remarkable. That it actually went on after nomination to win convincingly last year also suggests that this year it may well get another silver rocket.   Then we have the Stargate SG-1 nomination but this may well be just a tip of the hat to last year's end of such a long-running TV series; though whether that (sheer longevity) in itself makes it worthy of a science fiction achievement is debatable.   And that covers all the TV programmes that made it into the Hugo short-list, but what about those that did not? As it was the Hugo's had not yet even been posted on the 2007 Worldcon website when the blogosphere had a few dozen postings commenting on the short-list (probably a first for a Worldcon Hugo nomination announcement). Here the biggest grumble was for the lack of a nomination for Heroes. Still next time, eh? (Having said that this was the initial reaction in the blogosphere of the first few and not an assessment of a larger number of bloggers over a longer time.)

More TV news its section below.

Books: Concatenation's Top SF of 2006 re-visited. Given the problem of different times of US and UK publication (see Hugo news immediately above), how did our Concatenation (January) recommendations stack up with regards to a couple of other popular best SF novel of the year lists? Let's find out...
          End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood. This made it into Locus' recommended reading SF list for 2006 (announced on-line 1st February and in that month's print issue) as well as the number 5 slot for the SF Site's combined fantasy and SF top 10 of the year (announced 15th February). It also won the 2007 BSFA (British SF Association) Award for 'Best Novel'.
         Capacity by Tony Ballantyne was also in our best of 2006 but actually this came out in hardback in the UK the previous year so were were a bit naughty, still it remains a brilliant book that our Tony loves. In any case we are not alone with this 'year wrong' thing (which shows we are all too human) as Bookgasm lists River of Gods as the top SF book of 2006 and that came out originally in 2004! (Of course River of Gods is brilliant and both Tony and Jonathan liked it. But we are getting side-tracked.)
          Keeping It Real by Justina Robson (Gollancz, Pyr) also made it into Locus' recommended reading SF list for 2006.
On the Fantasy front there was:-
          Temeraire by Naomi Novik (Voyager, Del Rey). This made it into Locus' recommended reading first novel list for 2006 and (as immediately above) was short-listed for this year's Hugo novel category.
          The Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko (William Heinemann). This, of course, has won many awards in Sov Bloc nations,the Russian film of the novel even won a Eurocon award in 2004 (when the event was held in Bulgaria and before the English language edition came out in Britain). However the novel has yet to have the same profile in the UK (or US). Maybe things will pick up in Anglophone nations with the publication of the second and third parts of the trilogy and indeed when the Hollywood film version comes out. It is not inconceivable that this trilogy could really take off. Meanwhile given that we appear (ahem) to be on the ball elsewhere, why not just take it from us to check Sergei's trilogy out. +++ (See Twilight Watch below.)
          And there was also The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (Gollancz, Bantam Spectra). This made it into Locus' recommended reading first novel list for 2006 and it also made it as a runner-up to the SF Site's combined fantasy and SF top 10 of the year.
          So all in all, even if you doubted us when we recommended these at the beginning of the year, we think that you can now really take these as great books.

More SF book news in the SF Book Trade News and Forthcoming Book Releases below.

Films: As for our top film recommendations of 2006. Well our choices of Children of Men, A Scanner Darkly and V For Vendetta were all short-listed for the Hugo Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form (see above) and so we were on the button there. Indeed, nearly as we feared Pirate's of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was almost nominated for a Hugo simply due to its mass market Hollywood appeal and unfortunately we were almost right. (Do not get us wrong, it is an entertaining film but both the characters and fantasy tropes are standard so arguably not worthy of the Hugo's genre 'achievement' accolade.) However fortunately there was an error in the Hugo administrators' initial announcement and Pan's Labyrinth was to replace Pirates. (Phew!)   The only other films we tipped back in January that did not make the Hugo list were The Fountain and Superman Returns. The former came out only at the end of last year in the US and early this year in the UK, and so may perhaps had not had adequate time to permeate folk's consciousness. While the latter we cited (as we stated) because a few others have compared it with the Christopher Reeves' films the first of which did win a Hugo. Both these we still recommend you checking out even if Supes probably rightly did not make this year's Hugo shortlist.   All of which brings us to the question of whether we should we stick our neck out and tip which will actually win the film Hugo? Well Graham, Jonathan and Tony are all fans of Alan Moore and the film is certainly far closer an adaptation of Moore's previous graphic novels to the screen. So if we were really pressed to name the Hugo, and there was arguably some justice in the world then it would have to be V For Vendetta. ('Justice', V For Vendetta? Never mind.) But A Scanner Darkly comes with Philip Dick cred and is as worthy a film, so we will hedge our bet with that.

More film news in the Film News section below.

Spain's 2007 Minotauro Award announced. Clara Tahoces won with an urban vampire story Gótica [Gothic].The prize comes with 18.000 euros.

Axis is to be Robert Charles Wilson's sequel to his Hugo award-winning novel Spin. You may remember last year (2006) in January we rated Spin as one of the best SF novels of 2005. Then later that year (at the end of August) it won the Hugo.   This then is to let you know that there will be a sequel called Axis which will come out sometime this year from the US publisher Tor. (So now is the time to let your regional specialist SF bookshop know so we can get copies into Europe and other countries.) It has to be said that the Canadian author Robert Charles Wilson is not known for sequels to his novels that tend to be complete story arcs in themselves. Whether or not this exception is due to Spin's popularity, or whether Wilson has something creative to add, is not known. Spin did come to a sound conclusion in that it was clear that extraterrestrials were playing a Galaxy-wide game in deep time and that humans were (ultimately) given a gateway off of Earth. However what the first novel did not make clear was what exactly was this deep time game for and what was humanity's role in it. Axis may provide the answer.

It is 25 years since the death of Philip K. Dick. A quarter of a century on and his writing is still eminently relevant to today's readers even if the world has moved on and today many of the younger SF fans know Dick through films like Bladerunner, Minority Report, Screamers and A Scanner Darkly. This in itself is not a particularly bad thing if it introduces folk to his stories. Here, Gollancz has just re-published 25th anniversary editions of his novels: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (the film adaptation of which was Bladerunner), Dr Bloodmoney, Flow My Tears the Policeman Said and The Martian Timeslip. In addition Gollancz have brought out Human Is? A Philip K. Dick Reader collection of shorts. An initial inspection of which suggests that this is a new assemblage of his stories (so old time readers this is worth checking out in case there as may be something therein you have not got and new time readers this is a great place to start Dicking): alas the collection has no introduction nor does the press release give further information (the lack of time before posting this season's newscast precludes enquiry)). Nonetheless Gollancz has at least three very SF-knowledgable members of staff so this collection may well be something special even if some old favourites from previous collections (such as 'Beyond Lies The Wub', 'Second Variety' (which became the film Screamers), and 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale' (which became the film Total Recall) are reprinted. If you want to do an online search then the ISBN is 978 0 57508 034 8.   +++ Next the next Dick film is now out in time for the summer. It is based on Dick's short story 'The Golden Man'. Cris Johnson (Nicholas Cage) is a stage magician/illusionist who has a secret -- He can see a few minutes into the future... Next's director is Lee Tamahori. Julianne Moore, Peter Falk and Tory Kittles also star.   ++++ 4th Bladerunner film version due out in September. Yes, a fourth version of the film! The deluxe edition is billed as Ridley Scott's 'final cut' and will, they say, be truly director Ridley Scott's final cut. Hah! Anyway, Warner Home Video is releasing it in September and apparently it will only be on sale only up to the end of the year. This DVD will also have the three other versions plus additional material. You can bet it will be pricey. Talk about Ridley and Warner taking the nephridial efluent.

European SF centre is getting a major development. Founded in 1975, the Maison d'Ailleurs [House of Elsewhere] in Switzerland, is Europe's major SF museum and research centre. It is about to embark on a major programme of expansion, opening a brand new space - l'Espace Jules Verne. It will house one of Europe's most important research collections on Verne, as well as key parts of the museum's collection and specially themed exhibitions and displays. To make l'Espace Jules Verne everything it can be, a public appeal has been launched calling on visitors, friends and supporters from around the world to help raise 80,000 francs to ensure our unique new collection gets the home it deserves. If you would like to be kept informed of the exciting projects and programmes you can subscribe to a newsletter. A worthy cause perhaps for any convention making a small surplus.

The Geological Society has marked its 200th birthday with the release of 4,567 balloons that nominally represents one for each million years of the Earth's history. The balloons released are biodegradable and so will not ultimately form part of the geological record when they fall back to the ground. The Society itself was conceived by 13 men in a pub in Long Acre (London) complete with scientific with disregard to superstition (fingers crossed) on Friday 13th November 1807. The 200th birthday itself, however, was marked on 10th January 2007. In time for the celebration was the restoration of one of the original copies of the William Smith 1815 geological map of England and Wales. This is now hangs alongside the 1819 Greenough map in Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. The Geological Society used its 200th anniversary to launch 3 years of activity that will straddle the UN General Assembly dedicated Year of Plant Earth 2008 that leads on from the 2007 Polar Year.

Joe. R. Lansdale, has been voted the winner of the 2007 Horror Grand Master Award the World Horror Convention 2007 (see our convention diary for the link) has announced. The Texas-born Mojo storyteller and scriptwriter Joe R. Lansdale is the author of more than thirty novels in many genres, including crime, western, horror and pulp adventure, with notable titles including Act Of Love, The Nightrunners, Cold In July, Savage Season, The Bottoms and 'The Drive-In' series.   The number of votes cast this year by members of the convention was the highest in the history of the seventeen-year-old award, and Lansdale joins the distinguished ranks of such other honoured recipients as Robert Bloch, Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Anne Rice, Clive Barker, Dean R. Koontz, Peter Straub, Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Charles L. Grant, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Jack Williamson, F. Paul Wilson and Ray Garton.

It is 20 years since the physicists' Woodstock in March 1987, and 50 years since the defining of the theory of superconductivity. Superconductivity was first discovered in 1911. It was defined in theoretical calculations in 1957 by John Bardeen, Leon Cooper and John Schrieffer. These only worked at 23 kelvin (23 degrees above absolute zero). Then in 1986 George Bednorz and Alex Muller discovered a new class, cuprates, that worked at 30 degrees Kelvin. They presented their results at the 1987 meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) that became known at the physicists' Woodstock. Later that year the two scientists received a Nobel for their work. This year many of those at the physicists' Woodstock were reunited at the 2007 APS meeting to discuss old memories and progress since then. Soon after 1987 another class of superconductors (yttrium-barium-copper oxides) was discovered by Paul Chu that operated at 93 kelvin. 93 K is above nitrogen's liquefaction point so enabling far cheaper cooling and the superconductors easier to use. Today the temperature record for superconducting is 164 K (-109 Celsius).

Captain America shot by sniper.   Captain America is dead!   Steve Rogers, alias Captain America, the US emblematic superhero first battled the Nazis back in 1941. He was aided only by a shield and his athleticism that came from a super-soldier serum. He was shot on the steps outside a courtroom by a sniper. The reason for killing off Capt' was reportedly given by Ed Brubaker who writes for Marvel. Apparently there was a reader divide between the left wanting America to stand up to Bush and the right wanting him to take a lead in the war on terrorism.   There has been extensive media coverage in the States, for example here. Many comic stores were caught by surprise and re-ordered. Fortunately Marvel anticipated this with an over-print run.   +++ Captain America joins a number of superheroes who have been killed including Captain Marvel (last year) and the 'new' Superboy (a clone of superman) in the 1990s. Others who have died have included Superman in 1992/3 (unconvincingly by the monster 'Doomsday'). Superman had effectively a state funeral (in an issue of the comic that came complete with a black arm band) but later (1993) came back to life after time due to a 'regeneration matrix'. Also the second Robin (Jason Todd) died in 1988 following a readers' poll but later came back as one of Batman's enemies, the Red Hood. In Britain, Dan Dare sort of died, being in suspended animation frozen in space, but was retrieved in a story in 1997 and who went on to his very own TV series in 2002. Judge Dredd also sort of died in a 1990 story having taken the 'long walk' to bring law to the lawless in the Cursed Earth and became 'the Dead Man', but returned to save Mega City One from the Necropolis.   Given that there is a Captain America film being contemplated by Paramount it is not unlikely that Steve Rogers may turn out to have recovered in secret.

Potter deaths spark betting frenzy. When J. K. Rowling announced in January that two central characters of the Harry Potter juvenile fantasy series of books would die in the forthcoming and final work, The Deathly Hallows punters were quick to place bets. The book is due to be launched on the 21st July by Bloomsbury. Many young readers, if blogs and websites are to be believed, seem to feel that Harry is near the top of the list to join the choir invisibule. Indeed bookmakers William Hill are so certain that that they have even offered to return all stakes if he doesn't. (Apparently help lines are being set up to console readers...) Meanwhile Hill's odds for Voldemort snuffing it are 100-1 on. You can even bet on who will kill Harry.. Voldemort 2-1, Hermione at 14-1 and Uncle Vernon at 100-1. (Of course if you are reading this at the end of the summer then this will be old news.)

The Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows price wars started before the book was even launched! The newsagent chain W. H. Smiths was giving away £5 book tokens for every advance copy ordered. Meanwhile supermarket food store chains Tescos and Asdas had reduced advance order price to £8.87p. +++ Meanwhile in the US, Harry Potter's (sorry, Rowlings') publisher Scholastic ordered a print run of 12 million copies!

Harry Potter's train vandalised! Around £50,000 (US$95,000) of damage was done when the train used as The Hogwarts Express when six youths broke into the yard where it was stored and smashed its windows with hammers. Forensics are being used to track those responsible. +++ This is not the first such wanton act of destruction on the train. In September 2003 West Coast Railway had to spend £3,000 (US$5,800) on cleaning and repainting the train after graffiti defacement.

Batman comes to Britain. Titan has launched a new Brit-only Batman comic. Writers and artists include those familiar to the 2000AD stable.

The Nature series of 'Futures' short stories to be a book. Many of the stories from the successful series of shorts by SF authors and scientists is to be collected into a book. The series has had two runs in the multidisciplinary science research journal Nature and delighted readers who make it through to the back page. Over the past year, non-Nature readers could sample Concat's seasonal selection of these stories on this site (see Nature Futures story selection). From November North Americans who do not have access to Nature can read many more in a collection to be published by Tor. As the Futures commissioning editor tells us, "just in time for the Annual Festival of the Plurdling of the Grummet-Nadger's Scrode, or whatever the Winterval is called this year." In short a worthy addition to the old stocking (or even the fishnet one) at the end of your bed.

Asimov's Science Fiction (Magazine) is 30. The publication marked the event with a double April/May issue (that went on sale March 6th). Each of the past editors -- George Scithers, Kathleen Moloney, Shawna McCarthy, Gardner Dozois and current editor Sheila Williams have each contributed comment and there was a reprint of Isaac's first editorial. +++ US based Tachyon Publications is publishing a 30th-anniversary anthology of stories from the magazine.

Interzone, the British magazine, is 25. The publication marked the event with its March/April issue (no. 209). It had fiction by M John Harrison, Gwyneth Jones, Hal Duncan (also interviewed), Alastair Reynolds, Daniel Kaysen, Jamie Barras, with a novella by Edward Morris. Arthur C. Clarke, Bruce Sterling, Stephen Baxter, Greg Egan and (the old editor) David Pringle, comment on Interzone's past quarter century as part of a series of articles.   Has it really been that long since Interzone seemed to take over from Ad Astra (which seemed to have taken over from SF Monthly)?   Part of the celebrations include a downloadable free access story parodying Journey to the Centre of the Earth with a cast of characters that include Howard Hughes, Rod Serling, Jacques Cousteau, Ursula K. Le Guin and Jim Henson.

Finally Sci-Fi Reporter is one year old. The youngest anniversary noted this newscast is that of the Australian monthly e-news sheet which has survived its first year. Congratulations. +++ Update 2016: site deprecated.

 

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

Summer 2007

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

The Spring saw that...

Brian Aldiss, as an established author of over 260 stories, had his Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 on 28th January for the second time (previously it was over 25 years ago). During it he revealed that some might consider it surprising that he became a writer given that his parents were tea-total church-goers who frowned on things like films. He likes to travel and when a young man spent time in the military in India and then Burma (as part of what is now known as Britain's forgotten army). He started writing when he was four years old but (fortunately he said) these stories are now lost though they were probably imaginative tales. Faber & Faber gave him his first book, a commission, which was a compilation of the column he was then writing for a magazine. Many stories have since seen print, but he especially remembers getting his Hugo (1962) for Hot House. He is still writing and has three books coming out this year. (The actual titles were not cited in the programme but we note them below this piece.) With regards to writing he said that it is hard work but the second most enjoyable experience in life. He spoke with fondness for his late second wife and four sons and daughters as well as his current partner. His desert island discs were:-
          'Old Rivers' - Walter Brennan
          'Symphony for Sorrowful Songs' - Gorecki
          'Cow Cow Boogie' - Ella Fitzgerald and the Inkspots
          'Orpheus' - Achenbach
          'Oh My Darling' - Croation folk song
          'So long mom' - Tom Lehrer
          'In the Steppes of Central Asia' - tone poem by Borodin
          'The Planets: Saturn, Bringer of Old Age' - Holst
His book to take to the island would be John Heilpern's biography of John Osborne (Chatto & Windus, ISBN 0-701-16780-7) and for his luxury he would take was the banjo (so he could learn how to play).

Brian Aldiss' new books for 2007 are:-
          HARM (coming out on both sides of the Atlantic from Duckworth). It is about British and American institutional torturing of prisoners. Thus, 'HARM' stands for Hostile Activities Research Ministry.
From Penguin comes a refreshed version of his previous SF omnibus, now it will be in Penguin's 'Modern Classics'.
          From Goldmark comes Walcot. It is an ambitious work. It took three years to write this story of an English family living through the Twentieth Century. It will be out in September.
          There is also a possibility that another novel just finished, Comfort Zone, might appear this year. It is about the proposed building of a mosque in Oxfordshire, where Brian lives. It is funny in parts.

Margaret Atwood joined Robert Sawyer getting his Toronto Public Library Reading Award but remotely from the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo via LongPen -- the remote-control autographing and video-conferencing device she helped invent (previously reported on last season's science fiction news page and with more success this time). Atwood was last year's winner of the Award and, by way of passing the torch, she used the LongPen to autograph a copy of her latest novel to Robert Sawyer.

J. G. Ballard lets the World in on his study in The Guardian's 'writers' rooms'. His is dominated by a large copy of Paul Delvaux's painting The Violation. There is no word processing PC on his desk. The first drafts of his novels are all done by hand and then he types them up on an electric typewriter. (Presumably such is his selling power his publishers must indulge him and OCR scan his MSs.) He says that he does not believe that a great book has yet been written on a PC. He says he works for three or four hours a day in the late morning and early afternoon. Then goes for a walk and back in time for a large gin and tonic. See The Guardian on-line version which (when checked in March) had a quite different picture to that published in the original print version.

Iain Banks has sold all but one of his cars. Though fond of fast cars, climate change concerns have finally got to him. He now just has a dual fuel car and a motorcycle, though this last may still go.

Greg Bear may be pleased at his novel Eon being the basis of the computer graphics competition for best book trailer as he was a judge. The visual representation of his novel, it is quite stunning, -- See our 'Film download tip' subsection.

James Doohan is blasting of into space in April. The Canadian actor, who played Scotty in Star Trek, died in 2005. His ashes were to have been launched into space but the flight has been delayed twice already. The first time was due to tests and the second time a misfire. Third time lucky. If only they had a good engineer on hand...

David Eddings accidentally set his garage on office fire while trying to drain petrol from a car. A science experiment was reported to blame... This took place in February. Sadly, in March his wife Leigh died. Our condolences.

Ben Goldacre the clinician turned science journalist who exposes 'bad science', has been given an award by the Royal Statistical Society for his work in communicating probability and risk in his articles.

Henry Gee's latest novel, The Sigil is currently (but for a while at any rate) available for free download at http://www.aburt.com/ifiction/stories/84/. Enjoy.

Eileen Gunn unfortunately broke her leg skiing in December. This must have happened shortly after she kindly gave permission for her short story Speak, geek to be reproduce as part of our Nature 'Futures' exemplars. We wish her well for a speedy return to full mobility. Meanwhile Eileen tells us that Speak, geek has now been selected for the Hartwell Year's Best Science Fiction anthology.

Joe Hill officially comes out as the son of Stephen King on BBC Radio 4's Today (29th March). Having sold stories for the past 10 years and with his first novel (see last time's forthcoming fantasy books just out) he feels it is time to make the open secret of his DNA inheritance officially public. After all it is the public, he says, that will decide on whether his books are any good.

Guy Gavriel Kay wows Russia with a visit to Moscow and St Petersburg. In Moscow he took part in that city's book fayre. The visit actually took place at the end of last year but seasonal festivities disrupted the Concatenation information flow. Canadian Kay is a popular fantasy writer in Russia and nearly all of his novels have been translated into Russian.

Stephen King revealed at Now York's comicon that he turned down Frank Darabont's request to adapt The Dark Tower for the screen. Darabont had already adapted The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile and is working on The Mist, The Monkey. King said he said, "'Frank, give me a break!... Stop putting so much on your plate!'"   Stephen King has instead given the project to the co-creators of the TV series Lost.

Sergei Lukyanenko sees, or hears, the first of a series of short stories adapted for radio be broadcast on Radio Russia (97.6 FM). Given Sergei is a prolific short story writer, if sufficiently popular this series could last a long time. +++ The final in his 'Watch' trilogy is translated and out this summer.

Billie Piper, the actress who played the immediate past Doctor Who assistant, took part on the BBC show Top Gear. She narrowly escaped having three seconds docked from her lap time in an averagely-priced car due to not always staying on the track. She claimed that a Dalek's top speed was 6 mph (ahh, but what is the velocity of its exterminator ray?). She said that she took the decision to leave Dr Who because she felt 'the time was right' for her professionally in terms of her career, and also because that the show was filmed in Cardiff. She finally confessed to liking men with a bit of a beer belly as men with six-packs try too hard. That's 'a bit of a beer belly' before half of male SF fans get too excited.

Philip Pullman has seen his books added to British school curricula. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has added Pullman titles to the pre-GCSE, key stage 3 curricula. Some Douglas Adams titles are added too.

Robert Rankin has returned from Egypt and his adventures have been recorded in the Brentford Mercury fanzine. His next novel will be launched at the end of June.

Robert Sawyer has been awarded the Toronto Public Library Reading Award for 2007. The award includes a cash prize of Ca$2,500 and a crystal sculpture and was presented in front of a sold-out audience of 640 at the second annual Book Lover's Ball, a gala, Ca$350-a-plate black-tie event in the presence of Toronto's mayor. Sawyer says that: "Science fiction still struggles in some places for respectability, but that's never been the case in Toronto. The Toronto Public Library is known world-wide for its support of the genre." The library houses the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, one of TPL's special collections, and has one of the largest SF holdings of any public library in the World. It is the largest and busiest library system in North America, and the second largest in the World.

Robert Sawyer celebrated the launch of his next novel, Rollback (about rejuvenation and SETI), with a party in Toronto's Bakka-Phoenix Books and then another at the Write Book shop in the US state of New York the very next day. Over the summer he will be visiting 20 cities in North America. The book is out from Tor (US) so only available by overseas mailorder or very specialist shops in Europe.

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

Summer 2007

FILM NEWS

Paragraph 78 is the current SF film doing well in Russia. It is in part reminiscent of 28 Days Later (2002) but in fact based on a story by Ivan Okhlobystin (the director, actor and occasional writer). The SF premise is that it is the near future and everyone is at peace with armies disbanded worldwide. However politicians (naturally) keep weapons in secret. In one such secret base a virus has mutated (that is a bit like the one in 28 Days) so that the antidote is no longer effective. Something has happened at the base itself so a disbanded military team is reassembled. The team members never were close to each other in the personal sense, even though they were an effective military unit. This might be important given paragraph 78, which calls upon the soldiers to kill any of their fellows who become infected. The virus must not leave the base to spread.   The film is more action than SF, just as 28 Days was more horror than SF (though a good genre blend) , but Paragraph 78's action scenes are winning and the rock music soundtrack seems to have gone down well at a concert held before the February screening in Moscow. The film was screened in two parts: the first in February and the second in March. You can view the trailer here.

Paramount announces date for next Indiana Jones film launch. 22nd May is the date for north American fans and, apparently, shortly after in Europe. (Old news if you read this late in the summer season.)

There is to be a Mummy III and it is currently tentatively slated for a summer 2008 release.

The Strugatskis' Inhabited Island is to be made into a film. A Russian studio is behind the venture so it is not clear yet whether there will be distribution to the west. Inhabited Island (also known as Prisoners of Power) was originally published in 1972 but only after Soviet censoring. In 1992, following Russia's partial democratisation, a new authorised edition was released (but we are not sure if it has been translated into English as was the censored version -- Hint, hint Macmillan). Story outline: Maxim, a space explorer, crashes onto a post-nuclear war-torn world having been shot sown by a still-functioning but unmanned defence system. He then settles in a land that has an organised society but is in fact controlled by a militaristic regime that is at constant war with a rival nation. Propaganda is delivered by broadcast mind waves but Maxim (being human) is immune to them...

There is to be a Justice League of America film. Warner Brothers has reportedly hired screenwriters (sadly note the plural) as a preliminary to a JLA film. The JLA, of course, was the team of DC Comics heroes featuring Batman, Flash, Superman, Green Lantern, Aquaman etc.

Scanners re-make. Dimension Films hopes to cash in on the cult success of David Cronenberg's Scanners (1981) with a remake. The original film concerned a group of individuals who were created by a Governmental secret agency to be telepaths. However, as with Government agencies, there are wheels within wheels. Throw telepathy into the mix and it all gets rather convoluted. Though the re-make's production will not start until 2008, they hope for a release at the end of that year. (So it won't be a rush job then, is the cynical take. On a more optimistic not it may be that they will not have time to mess around with the original screenplay. As for doing a re-make for any other reason than to make a buck, given that the strength of the film was not its effects, one has to ask, 'why?'.) +++ Scanners cult status is such that it met the strict criteria to be on the list of films that have entries in Essential SF: A Concise Guide.

Peter Jackson is saddened by New Line Cinema boss saying he (Jackson) would never work for the studio under his watch. This follows the legal dispute between Jackson and New Line previously reported.   Reported in Variety magazine, Jackson is said that he found the comments of New Line Cinema founder and co-chair Robert Shaye, that he would never work for the studio under his watch, 'regrettable'. The news was later reported on SciFi Wire and Shaye apparently told the site that, "I do not want to make a movie with somebody who is suing me." Which is rather odd because reportedly it was Jackson who declined to do forthcoming 'Hobbit' film until the legalities had been settled: up to then New Line wanted Jackson to continue despite the dispute! +++ Robert Shaye is reported saying that The Hobbit will probably premiere in 2009. (This may have something to do with NewLine having to renew its film rights to the book after that date if there is a delay.)

Star Trek's 40th anniversary last September was not properly celebrated but is now with Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. This is a new (semi-pro) fan film that will currently only be available on the internet in three 90 minute episodes. The fans are joined by some of the stars from the Star Trek series and films including Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols. The venture is directed by Voyager actor Tim Russ who also stars as Tuvok. A time bifurcation results in a darker than usual ST universe.

The rumour as to who will direct the next Star Trek movie has now been confirmed. J. J. Abrams will direct and it is hoped to release the film by Christmas 2008. Brad Grey, chairman and chief executive of Paramount Pictures, is reported as saying, "The revival of the Star Trek franchise is an important part of Paramount's turnaround." Which begs the question as to whether this will re-assure Parmaount's shareholders given the commercial strength of the Enterprise TV show... +++ Meanwhile just prior to Easter saw news that, though the film will touch upon Spock and Kirk's academy days, and there will be a starship in which they go star trekking across the Universe... Also (apparently) the film will be more action dominated than the other Trek films.

Captain Kirk was -226 years old on 22nd March 2007. So apparently it can be calculated.

Stephen King's The Dark Tower is to be adapted for film by the Lost team. Lost creators J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof. The choice was very much King's who views The Dark Tower as one of his life's main works and indeed he says he was developing this story since he was 22. The adaptation announcement was made at the New York Comicon-venued launch of The Dark Tower comic by Marvel, but it turns out that the Lost team were not the only ones interested in making the adaptation.

Get Smart wises up to the 21st century. The 1965-70 US TV show from Mel Brooks and Buck Henry is getting made (again) into a film. Mel Brooks is still aboard on the writing. In the new version the idea of gender equal opportunity and the fall of communism are accepted. Meanwhile, apparently Maxwell (Steve Carrel) Smart and Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) -- who take over from Don Adams and Barbara Feldon -- have to overcome FBI and CIA miscommunication when KAOS attempts to blackmail the US threatening to give away nuclear launch codes. The film is currently due for launch in August 2008. The director is Peter Segal.

Jurassic Park IV which was due to be released in 2008 has hit a stumbling block prior to shooting. Joe Johnston, who directed the perfectly reasonable Jurassic Park III (better than JP II and top of our 2002 video chart), was tipped to direct this follow-up but apparently (according to slashfilm.com) Johnston's people say that he is not doing it. All of which begs the question who will? Especially as Spielberg said that if Johnston was not onboard then he would direct. However Speilberg already has Indi IV, Interstellar and Lincoln slated. So will he have time?

Don't be confused by the forthcoming film Prisoner. Prisoner (due 2008) is about a film maker who, in scouting for locations, ends up in a prison. It stars Julian (Dr Doom Fantastic Four) McMahon. This psychological thriller should not be confused with the proposed cinematic version of The Prisoner based on the cult genre TV series that originally starred Patrick McGoohan.

28 Days Later graphic novel imminent. The graphic novel will come out shortly after this seasonal news is posted and (hopefully) before the launch of the sequel film 28 Weeks Later. It is dived into four parts. The first covers the period before the first film and is about the virus' creation. The second part takes place during the first stages of the outbreak. The third takes place at the same time as the events in 28 Days Later and concerns the last survivor in London who really enjoys the fight for survival. While the final part brings everything together and leads into the events of 28 Weeks Later. +++ Stop Press: it is out and we have reviewed it. (You can thank our webmaster Alan organising a real ale beer festival for the delay in posting this seasonal update so enabling this review.)

The Star Wars cloak as worn by the character Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) was sold for US$104,000. The auction took place at Bonhams in London as part of a film and TV memorabilia auction. Previous Star Wars prop auctions have shown that light sabres are more valuable. +++ Recent Star Trek auctions have also done rather well.

New Stargate DVD-film to have Arctic locations. Which suggests (speculating wildly) that the film will in part relate to Antarctica where in the TV series a second stargate was found. MGM has announced that it will also use the U.S. Navy's Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station and that Ben Browder and Amanda Tapping travelled to the facility, about 200 nautical miles north of Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, at the end of March for the shoot. A submarine, U.S.S. Alexandria, is also being used. Further to last time's news of the forthcoming two straight-to-DVD Stargate productions, it now appears that this first Stargate DVD will be called Stargate: The Arc of Truth, while the second will be Stargate: Continuum. For this last Richard Dean Anderson will reprise his role as Gen. Jack O'Neill. Meanwhile there is no new news at the time we posted this bulletin of the proposed Stargate cinematic film. +++ News of Stargate TV series here.

Tintin is to come to the big screen. Dream Works Studio has apparently announced that it will be doing the films. Tintin -- the boy reporter who used to hang out with bluff, whisky-drinking sea Captain Haddock, and Professor Calculus, while aiding (or being aided by) the Thompson twins police detectives -- had a dozen or so graphic novel adventures. Many involved SF tropes including: telepathy, asteroid impact, technological inventions, and a rocket journey to the Moon (where he discovered ice (but also erroneously stalagmites)). DreamWorks have not yet announced whether the films will be animated or live action. Blistering blue barnacles.

Sci-Fi London -- We could have put the news here in the film news section but did it later with fan events.

FrightFest London 2007 -- We could have put the news here in the film news section but did it later with fan events.

Festival of Fantastic Films 2007 -- News also given later.

Film download tip!: Greg Bear's Eon novel now has a short film that is a trailer of the book. It was the subject of a computer graphic competition. If you have viewing software you can see the winning entry here http://features.cgsociety.org/challenge/eon/player.php?entry_id=77140. It lasts just a couple of minutes.

Film download tip!: Guy's Guide to Zombies can now be viewed online. (See http://www.atomfilms.com/film/guys_guide_zombies.jsp) The film received a commendation as part of one of the Festival of Fantastic Films competitions in 2006. Lasting about quarter of an hour, it is in the style of an old black and white US public information film.

Film download tip!: Original Rocky Horror Picture Show beginning is available here (lasting 4 minutes 30 seconds). Yes, before Patricia Quinn's lips there was a fantastic film montage version. Something similar was screened at the opening of one of the past Festival of Fantastic Films when they used to do a music-to-clips fest-opening montage, but this apparently, is the real thing. It was dropped because the test audience reaction was so negative. (Obviously not a cult audience. Still can't argue with Patricia's lips.) This short is then what the opening might have been.

For a reminder of the top films in 2006/7 (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.

For a forward look as to film releases of 2007 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 Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2007

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

How much does the average British author earn? A survey of 25,000 UK authors reveals that an average annual income of £4,000 (US$7,600) and for young authors (aged 25-34) it is £5,000 (US$9,500). Not surprising then that only 20% of British authors earn all their income from writing and that 60% of those who consider themselves to be professional writers need another source of income to make ends meet.

On-line content ripping off authors. A survey of UK writers reveals that less than 15% receive any fees for on-line uses of their work. The survey by the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society sees a failure of secondary on-line rights embedded in writers' contracts.

Spain's classic SF novels being reprinted. Equipo Sirius is going to reprint some classic Spanish science fiction novels (from the 1960's, 70's and 80's). Domingo Santos and Francisco González Ledesma will be some of the main authors included and Manuel Calderón will be the covers artist. The first book will reprint the novels Sombras del Caos [Shadows of the Chaos] and La Muerte es de Metal [Death is Metallic]. Both of them written by Lem Ryan.

Virgin sold. Virgin Books, known in genre circles for its TV tie-ins (and elsewhere for its erotic Black Lace imprint) has not been profitable for Richard Branson. Losses last year were around £3m (US$5.75m). Now there has been a 90% buyout from Random House. There are at the moment no reports of Virgin staff cuts and it may be that Random will want to expand Virgin titles, exploiting the brand name, but using Random's well developed sales force and digital conversion abilities.

Simon & Shuster UK are back in profit. S&S UK had an operating loss of over £3m (US$5.75m) in 2005. An approximate £20m (17%) increase in turnover was central to the turnaround.

Random House has split in two. One half, CHA, has imprints that include Hutchinson Heinemann, Random and Arrow. The other, CBV, includes Jonathan Cape, Vintage and Pimlico.

Ed McFadden resigns as editor of Fantastic Stories of the Imagination. He says on his website (www.edwardmcfadden.com/3.html): "In light of recent events, and based on the fact that DNA Publications, Inc. has not maintained a reasonable publishing schedule for Fantastic Stories in some time, I am resigning my editorship of Fantastic Stories of the Imagination effective immediately. I also will no longer be a consulting editor for the Wilder Publications Spyre imprint." But that he: "I would like to thank Warren Lapine and DNA Publications, Inc. for everything he has done on my behalf, and I wish him and the company the best of luck in the future."

Wildside Press reorganizes Weird Tales magazine. In 2006, Weird Tales circulation began once again to increase substantially (though it has to be said not from the higher circulation it once had in its 1930s heyday) as a regular publication schedule, a significantly larger page count, and the return of featured-author issues all helped. Now in 2007, to build on this, all three of the current co-editors will step away from story selection and into more specific roles, and Wildside will bring Ann Vandermeer on board as the new fiction editor as of its October issue. (Ann is wife of SF author Jeff.) George Scithers now becomes Editor Emeritus and will continue on Weird Tales staff in an advisory capacity. John Betancourt will continue to oversee the magazine group as publisher, though his focus remains on Wildside Press' core business, its book publishing operations. Stephen H. Segal will handle day-to-day operations of Wildside's magazines as general manager and creative director. The magazine will be 80 early next year (2008) as well as 20 in terms of its modern incarnation.

Jim Baen's Universe sees a new executive editor. Author Mike Resnick now takes up the post.

SF and fantasy publishers Ace and Roc (US) have a new editor in chief. Ginjer Buchanan is promoted into the role.

SF and fantasy publisher Eos gets a new associate editor. Kate Nintzel gets promoted into the role.

Is Borders UK going to change hands? The gossip is that the British branch of the US bookshop chain may soon be up for sale. Pressure on bookshops generally from internet retail and that the US format of borders does not sit so easily this side of the Atlantic, are thought to blame. If W H Smiths or Waterstones (arguably the two biggest competitor chains) do buy Borders then the motive, at least in part, will be to remove competition and so some stores will close. An alternative is if individual Borders shops are sold off in a franchise fashion. The coming year is likely to be interesting.

The National Space Society and Baen's Universe new short story competition. The winner gets their story published and paid at the going rate as well as getting free entry to this year's Space Development Conference and a coffee mug. Alas the first year's deadline will be just after this is posted. Fortunately, if following national statistics, as most Brit writers drink tea they can probably stand the wait till next year.

Harper Collins fantasy imprint Voyager are pleased to have acquired new George R. R. Martin rights. Specifically they have acquired the rights to turn George R. R. Martin's bestseller fantasy series 'A Song Of Fire And Ice' into a new series to be written and executively produced by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. However what the press release does not say is that the original 'Fire and Ice' itself is to become a TV series... (see below TV news).

Gollancz picks up hot new fantasy writer. Gollancz has paid a reported six-figure sum to Robert Redick for three novels. The first, The Red Wolf Conspiracy is due out in early 2008. It features internecine skulduggery, death and sorcery on a 600 year old ship.

The Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) are being sued by Barbara Bauer and her literary agency. It appears that Bauer does not agree with some of the alleged statements the SFWA is associated with, along with others who are also being sued. This follows previous action resulting from material on AbsoluteWrite.com as to the alleged quality of the literary agency in question. The SFWA is reported as investigating the claims with a view to vigorously defending its rights.

Amazon the most popular source of student textbooks. Amazon apparently accounts for 28.8% of textbook purchases. The next most popular (11.7%) is second hand from university bookshops and 7.1% university student union shops. e-Bay is another popular source of second hand books for students.

Many UK bargain bookshops have gone into administration. To be precise David Flatman Ltd has gone into administration, Brit readers probably know their bookshops as 'Bookworld' and 'Bargain Books', two of Flatman's more well-known high street names. Adebt of some £4.875 million (US$9.3m) The reason for their trading problems is related to other outlets such as supermarkets now offering discount books as well as on-line retail sites. A buyer has emerged and it is now to be taken over by 'The Works'. It looks like maybe none are going to be going to be closed but re-branding is likely.

The BBC is shutting all 7 of its bookshops The retail outlets sell books relating to BBC programmes, DVDs and audio CDs.

SF & fantasy bookshop, DreamHaven in Minneapolis (US), has been broken into. In addition to stealing cash, the thief/thieves vandalised the store. Fortunately there was insurance but owner, Greg Ketter, may decide that as (in common with many other independent bookshops in the West) trade has not been buoyant this may be an appropriate time to close.

Boston (US) bookstore Pandemonium Books closure threatened. It joins a number of stores feeling the pinch. It recently closed for a season due to premises relocation. However back-taxes owed are a burden. Regulars and genre readers in the region are encouraged to buy an extra book from them soon.

ClarkesWorld Books, the US online genre seller is closing. Space is required for the joyous new arrival in the family. Clarke's World magazine will continue.

Most borrowed in UK libraries. -- So now that the dust has settled on 2006, which genre books were most borrowed in UK libraries in the past year? The answer sadly is not many. J. K Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince came second in the top 100 most books borrowed chart. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came 42nd. The only other genre entry in the top 100 is Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveller's Wife. The most popular book was Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, indeed Brown had three other titles in the top 100 coming fourth, fourteenth and twenty-fourth. The UK Public Lending Rights people also give the top 'classic titles (adult)', though how they define 'classic' or 'adult' remains a mystery. Here The Lord of the Rings makes it to number 10.

Top publishers. -- So now that the dust has settled, who were Britain's top publishers of 2006? Since the late 1980s and early 1990s which saw a frenzy of buyouts, there has been an on-going series of takeovers. Not surprising then that the UK's latest leading publishing group is also the largest recently formed merger into the Hachette Livre that includes Mitchell Beazley, Cassell, Gollancz, Headline, Hodder & Stoughton, Little Brown, John Murray, Orion, Sceptre, Weidenfeld & Nicolson among others. A number of these publish SF and a number science and popular science. As far as the SF goes then perhaps Gollancz is the jewel in the crown. The Hachette group is rivalled by three others: Random, Penguin and HarperCollins. For the first time all four groups accounted for more than half of UK book sales. Random's deal with BBC Books brought its 2006 turnover to within 1% of Hachette in the UK. HarperCollins is noted for its strong fantasy titles especially those in its Voyager imprint.   Meanwhile the smaller independents that have loosely banded together with Faber into the Independent Alliance have seen their collective sales grow over the year by 23%.   The mid-players such as Bloomsbury, Pan Macmillan and Simon & Schuster seem to be largely holding their own and each have a few star writers (such as Bloomsbury with J. K. Rowling).

A Survey has revealed Britain's current top fiction. The poll was conducted as part of the Britain's activities for World Book day (summary details of which given in our autumnal news). Science Fiction and fantasy featured strongly in the top 25: Lord of the Rings (2), the 'Harry Potter' series (4), 1984 (8) tying with His Dark Materials (8), The Hobbit (16) The Time Traveller's Wife (19) and The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (25). Number 1 was Pride and Prejudice.

The 2007 Galaxy Books Awards. The awards are (self-)billed as the 'Oscars of the (British) publishing industry' and indeed the short-listing for the dozen categories is a bit of a mystery (not detailed on their website nor the advance promo booklet and we got no reply from their press office). Once again SF is largely sidelined and the closest got to it was Terry Pratchett's fantasy Wintersmith and Geraldine McCaughrean's Peter Pan in Scarlet being finalised for the Children's Book category sponsored by the newsagent chain W. H. Smiths. The Night Watch was short-listed (again however that was done) for Book of the Year and it is one of just two categories that the public get to vote which on the short-list wins. Having said that it was not by Sergei Lukyanenko but a romance by one Sarah Walters.   If SF was sidelined, then the one saving grace was that science got a reasonable showing. Richard Dawkins The God Delusion was short-listed for 'Book of the Year' and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and the BBC's Planet Earth were both short-listed for the TV & Film category. +++ The 'Galaxy' in the Galaxy Book Awards is neither an astronomical nor an SFnal reference but the manufacturers of milky chocolate. The results were announced on March 30th and Richard Dawkins, though not picking up 'Book of the Year', got 'Author of the Year'.   That's one for biology and science. Now, will we see any SF next year?

Locus has published its annual assessment of SF publishing in the US. Locus is the multiple Hugo Award winning magazine that covers SF and fantasy books.
          The good news: the number of strictly SF novels published in North America in 2006 is only a little down on 2005 (this may be due to changes in the publishing industry?) but not outside a 90% chi-squared deviation from the two and a half decade mean. The number of fantasy books published continues its two and a half decade rising trend and horror sees a continuation of the past half decade comeback since a slump that began a decade ago. Taken together (SF, fantasy and horror) the two and half decade trend is up. Part of this is due to TV and film tie-ins.
          The bad news: the circulation of SF short story magazines like Analog, Asimov's SF, and Fantasy & SF have continued their decline of the past two decades. One suspects that it will be unlikely for all these titles to survive another decade.
          Locus itself has seen a continuation of a decline in circulation of the past decade and a half (though it is still well above where it was two and a half decades ago). So it is perhaps timely to remind fellow Europeans that Locus is still an interesting read. OK, so it does not cover the cinematic aspects of the genre (other than book tie-ins). But it does regularly feature British SF books and occasionally has small features on SF in other countries. Furthermore some SF books we get in Britain and continental Europe are first published in North America (and we know of the ones published here first). So Locus does help give us Europeans and others a small window into part of the future. The transatlantic delays in publication are such that the news of books is often still timely (Locus did not get all those Hugos for nothing) even though a surface subscription (low cost, low fossil carbon) means that copies arrive between one and four months late (two being the average). Specialist shops (such as Forbidden Planet London) carry copies should you wish to browse. As this season's Concat posting marks our 20th birthday and we are noting other science & SF birthdays, the a mention is not entirely out of order that next year sees Locus' 40th. Here endeth the plug, given because we want to see the magazine continue to thrive.

The London Book Fayre returned to west London. After last year's debatably-venued event in the opulent new docklands (exhibitors complained about the layout and the facilities) it was Earls Court for 2007. Aside from the plethora of stands there were sessions on: ensuring you maximise your book's profile for Google searches; masterclasses on how to get published; selling rights; the e-book challenge; the internet as a marketing tool; and one covering globalisation, translation and English. One panel session featured author Christopher (Inverted World, The Prestige) Priest.

The Moscow book fayre had a fantastic fiction stream. This is late news as it took place at the end of November, but worth reporting as it shows that speculative fiction is of growing commercial interest in Russia. A dozen writers contributed and the Canadian author, Guy Gavriel Kay, was also attending the fayre.

How does the US and the UK divide up the English-speaking (Anglophone) world? The answer is with difficulty, and this turf war has impacts for both readers and authors. With internet ordering, and now exchange rate differences, this on-going dispute has reached new heights. It is something that both authors and readers should be aware.
          At the moment if you write an SF novel you can sell it to a UK publisher and receive (after the advance has been allowed for) a royalty based on a percentage of the publisher's receipts. This in turn is related to the cover price of the book. All is fairly alright if the book is sold to a US customer from a US publisher and a British customer from a UK publisher. If the book is only published in the US and not the UK then you pay extra for the shipping and this is reflected in the price of US-only titles in specialist shops. But what happens if an author has editions from both a US and a UK publisher? Now, for many years the arrangement has been that the US publisher would sell to North America which has a four times larger population than the British Isles, and that UK publishers would sell to continental Europe and other commonwealth countries with a high proportion of English speakers such as India.
          The problem however comes when US publishers want to tap into this European and allied market with book titles already being produced by UK publishers. Already, because of the size of the North American market, US publishers have the advantage of the economics of scale (it is cheaper on a per copy basis to print 100,000 copies of a book compared to 25,000 copies). If the difference in this cost of production price is big enough to offset the cost of international transport then US publishers may be tempted to market in Europe and so threaten UK publishers. With the recent strength of the pound and euro against a weakening dollar this temptation has increased. For European, and Indian, customers it means cheap books, but for authors it can mean a decrease in royalty revenue and for unestablished British-based authors it can mean getting fist published this side of the Atlantic. Are you following this so far? Now for two developments.
          First off, a seemingly unrelated problem of piracy. Some 11,000 books that were produced and copied cheaply in India have been seized in Baroda bound for Philadelphia (US). They are more expensive text books and reportedly cost some US$75,000 to produce however are worth some US$4,000,000 in North America. Such pirate books are leaking into the UK.   Second, this case has recently highlighted the reverse concern of US publishers selling in India contrary to the understanding that India is territory of UK publishers.   Third, Hachette (the big French-owned group that has many imprints to its name (and which includes some SF and fantasy) and which operates on both sides of the Atlantic) has decided to clearly give Europe to its British divisions while its US operations can have Asia. All well and good in theory, but what is to stop a continental European bookseller taking advantage of the exchange rate and buying form a US distributor? Little it would seem. The Portuguese distributor Lisma apparently has some 75% of its English language books coming from N. America. Further why should its customers be forced to pay for more expensive books by US authors who are also published by Hachette's UK operation? Meanwhile not only authors and readers are affected, think of the poor old authors' agents. How will they manage things for their clients?   This whole matter of how to divide up the world is going to run and run for the foreseeable future.

Britain is to have a second National Reading Year in 2008. So says Education Secretary Alan Johnson. The first Reading Year was in 1998/9 for which the Government provided additional funding to help build school libraries. Industry this time is asked to get involved, after all we need a literate workforce.

British Parliamentary publishing group formed. Parliamentary groups are formed by Parliamentarians (members of the Houses of Commons and Lords) with an interest in a topic and major stakeholders can also join (who largely finance groups' operations). For example, for many years there has been the Parliamentary Science & Technology Committee that not only has Parliamentarians (who run them) but a dozen or so learned scientific societies, as well as Research Councils and a few major industrial firms belonging to it.   Now there is to be a publishing group. 22 Parliamentarians have come together -- foremost among them being Lord Heseltine and Lord Weidenfeld -- to form a publishing group. Gordon Banks MP is to chair it. The group will lobby publishing issues such as copyright and piracy.

Are book buyers nicer than average folk? -- see the item below in our SF & science interface section.

More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in September. Meanwhile...

 

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

Summer 2007

TV NEWS

Flash Gordon TV series. Sci Fi Channel has given the go-ahead. Flash originally appeared as a comic strip by Alex Raymond in 1934. The latest incarnation will be in the form of 22 one-hour episodes. Flash! Aaah Ahhh.

Sci-Fi channel are also making a series called Diamond Age based on Neal Stephenson's novel. In the not too distant future a nanoengineer is called upon to create an (illegal) interactive primer for a wealthy man's daughter to enhance he memory/knowledge. However it falls into the hands of a working class girl who can now affect world events. The novel won a Hugo in 1996. +++ Sci-Fi is also making Witch School a fictional docu-soap about a school for witches. (Perish the thought that this might be an emulation of Rowling...)

George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series of books is to become a TV series. HBO are bringing it to the small screen with each book being a season. Reportedly Martin is meant to be one of the co-producers so let us hope it gives him some control as to the realization. +++ This news is in addition to the 'Fire and Ice' universe being franchised out to other authors by Voyager.

Battlestar Galactica has been renewed for a 4th season. The Hugo Award winning (Best Dramatic Presentation short form 2005) series has been renewed initially in January for a 13 episode 4th series. However in March this was upped to 22 episodes. A target date for initial airing is expected for January 2008. A two hour special may, it is hoped, be screened in December 2007.

Lost has been renewed for a fourth series. ABC has renewed Lost but this surely has to be the last series if the series' makers are to keep to their original plan to reveal what the series is all about. Or are they going to string us along as long as the ratings hold out?

Stars of Stargate SG-1 will make regular appearances in Stargate Atlantis. Following the decision to end Stargate SG-1 after the second half of the current series, it now seems likely that stars of SG-1 will start making appearances on Stargate Atlantis and some sort of crossover arc with Lt. Col Samantha Carter (played by Amanda Tapping): she will appear in 14 out of 20 of Atlantis' next 4th series. Both series have just returned (April) to European broadcast from a short break with the final episodes of Stargate SG1 and the remainder of the 3rd series of Atlantis. +++ News of Stargate straight-to-DVD film here.

Life on Mars to be Americanised when it goes to the US. The hit BBC show about a Manchester-based present-day cop caught in a hit and run accident who wakes up in the 1970s, is to be adapted for US viewing by ABC. Twentieth Century Fox Television is producing. Given that North America has a few good SF shows of its own, and flattering as it is for them to continually try to adapt Brit series, you would have thought that the failure of US versions of (for example) Red Dwarf, The Avengers, Thunderbirds and Hitch-hikers would have suggested something to them? +++ Meanwhile the second season of the BBC original recently ended. This brought matters to a resolution and there is no prospect, the writers say, for a third series. We will not reveal/spoil matters for those outside the UK that may not have seen it yet save to say a rather satisfying fantasy ending, but an incomprehensible science fictional one. +++ There may be a spin off series involving someone waking up in the 1980s... (sigh).

Patrick (Captain Jean-Luc Picard) Stewart voted sex symbol by UK television viewers. Britain's Channel 4 (a nationwide terrestrial station) aired 100 Greatest Sex Symbols on Saturday 24th February. Patrick Stewart came 59th. Apparently a man wielding a hundred thousand tonnes or so of starship is a bit of a turn on. He beat Prime Minister Tony Blair (who once was a popular celebrity magazine's 'torso of the week') and Carol Vorderman (the Cambridge statistics graduate who went on to be a presenter on the Countdown TV show). Marilyn Munroe came in at 3, Elvis at 2 and Angelina Jolie at one.

Dr Who gets a 30th season. Aunty (BBC) has renewed Dr Who for a 30th series, or a 4th series in its 21st century incarnation (or a 3rd series for Tennant). Meanwhile the 29th series which begins just as we post this summer news page will see the return of the Master who will be played by John (Life on Mars) Simm. The Master will re-appear in a two-episode special at the end of the current season. The 30th season will begin in 2008 after a 2007 Christmas special.

Dr Who 'family' squares up to Ann Robinson. Regular Dr Who cast members took part in a celebrity edition of The Weakest Link BBC1 quiz show (30th March). Ann Robinson's droid double (from an episode of Dr Who) began the show but was unplugged by Robinson herself. K9 was unanimously voted off first as the cast had conspired to let the 'family' (the core cast) through to the end. Not being tall, K9 gave his one correct answer from on top of a box. How the canine robot got off of it to undertake the 'walk of shame' was edited out.   The last person left was Camille Coduri (who plays Rose's mother) and who won £16,550 (over US$31,000) for charity. The sum may not seem large considering the BBC is a national terrestrial broadcaster but those outside the British Isles need to know that it is funded by a viewers' licence fee and the BBC has a policy of not having large prizes.

 

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

Summer 2007

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

The 2007 Eurocon (Denmark) now also a Balticon and the fan guest has been announced along with hotel details. Further to the guest, film and book projects we covered in our Eurocon news last time, developments have progressed and now the Eurocon is also a Balticon! This means that there will also be several programme items with a focus on the ten countries around the Baltic Sea.   The Fan GoH will be Niels Dalgaard one of Denmark's most knowledgeable scholars on SF with a PhD whose thesis was genre-related. (If you like he is a kind of Danish equivalent to Britain's Colin Greenland.). Niels has been active within fandom since the early 70's and has written a number of books, not to mention articles, about science fiction and fandom. He is also the current editor of Proxima, Denmark's oldest fanzine produced by Denmark's oldest SF society, Science Fiction Cirklen. Hotel registration is now up and registering via Paypal is now an option. Travel information is being created and will be online later. Details on www.eurocon2007.dk. Progress Report 2 is now out (see the website) and has a reminder for European countries to nominate and submit what they consider their best short story of 2006 for publication in a book anthology of European SF of the past year.

Plans for the 2008 Eurocon in Moscow are developing but with much controversy. For the convention's preliminary details see last time's 2008 Eurocon news but ignore the western guest news. Apparently neither Neil Gaimen nor George R. R. Martin had agreed to be guests despite the 2008 Eurocon announcing them as such! As we post this season's news we understand that neither will be going. (See Gaiman's blog.) The last time this happened to a Eurocon it was in 2001 with another Eastern European country, Romania, that had announced that its UK author guest of honour would be Brian Aldiss and a special guest was our own Jonathan Cowie. Neither had been in fact been consulted and Brian as it happened had another engagement. Further the venue changed to that announced at the Eurocon bidding session. It will probably take at least a decade for Romania to recover its standing to host a Eurocon. Now that the 2008 Russian Eurocon has made a similar fundamental mistake, its organising team has severely undermined its own credibility. Regular Eurocon-goers will know that if convention organisers cannot cater for their foreign guests then they will even less likely be able to do so for foreign fans. All of which puts us on the Concatenation team in a bit of an awkward spot as many of us have been to a number of Eurocons and we are rather supportive of this series of conventions. It is therefore particularly disappointing when a forthcoming Eurocon apparently does not look as if it will come up to standard. So what about the case for the defense? We were told that apparently a third party go-between the 2008 Eurocon organisers and Gaimen and Martin had had a confirmation from one of the authors' representatives that they had agreed to be guests. Sadly this go-between did not then put the authors and the convention organisers directly in touch with each other. Meanwhile the Russian organisers enthusiastically, albeit naively, went ahead with their announcement. If the Russians can launch a massive charm offensive and demonstrate they can organise a truly international event then they will need to do this quickly and certainly before this year's Danish Eurocon in September. Details will no doubt be on convent.ru/Euroscon but many outside of the Soviet nations will probably independently check any Eurocon 2008 postings' veracity. In the meantime news has quickly spread with the first comments appearing on Russian blogs within a day or so, and the European SF Society (under whose auspices the Eurocon is nominally run) officers now have hassle of earning their keep oiling the appropriate wheels.

Hugo 2007 on-line nomination process concern. There have been a few blog rumbles about the on-line processes the 2007 Worldcon, Japan, adopted for putting forward suggestions for the Hugo award short-list. Apparently the on-line nominating system did not acknowledge receipt of individuals' nominations, nor did it send those nominating a copy of their nominations. Consequently it was impossible for those using this process to ascertain whether their suggestions had been accepted by the system! This is of double concern to those who recently joined the Worldcon because the system needs to know the current membership if it is to accept someone's nominations. There are worries if this system will be again used when the voting takes place over this summer on the short-list for the Awards themselves. +++ This news was before the Hugo nomination press release with its erroneous announcement of Pirates of the Carribean being short-listed for the Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form Hugo. (The corrected announcement came out on April Fools Day and there was some initial concern that it might not be believed.)

Going to the Japan Worldcon? Then we would love to hear from you... Be it a paragraph of an odd happening to a more substantial review, be it a blog entry or an e-mail to a friend on the event. Whatever, we would welcome being sent comments, snippets and a even more substantial convention reports. If we get enough then we will compile them into a report. You can either be anonymous or cited as a contributor together, if you wish, with a link to your website, fanzine, SF club or group or even a local convention with which you are associated. If we do not get enough material then obviously we will not be doing this... So it is completely up to you good folk (and you and you and whoever else is going who browses this site.). Submissions/contributions, or just snippets and comments, should be sent within a month of the convention to japan [at] concatenation [dot] org.

Going to Japan for the Worldcon? Then best start boning up for the experience. There are plenty of tourist sites on-line you can find yourself, but for the oddities then check out a few examples in our Netwatch section. See also .

Devention 3, the 2008 Worldcon in Denver (US) rates are rising over the summer. Registration rates to attend rise from the beginning of June onwards. If you are reading this after June then note that they will probably rise again before the event and will certainly be more expensive still on the door. As with all major conventions, seasonal Progress Reports are sent to advance registrants and, of course, those signed up by the end of 2007 (or who get their registration processed before the spring 2008 closing date) can participate in the Hugo Award nominating process.

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

For a list of 2007 national and major conventions, check out our convention diary for 2007.

 

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

Summer 2007

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

Concatenation team member to swim the English channel for charity. Tony Bailey is to swim the channel. Tony has for a number of years has been helping out designing Concatenation's paper work and was responsible for designing and producing the programme book for the 2nd International Week of Science & SF. He has also been a long-standing member of London's LOTNA media SF group. The English Channel (La Manche) separates the British Isles from continental Europe and is the busiest sea-lane in the World. Tony is going to have to swim some 20 miles (32 km) -- coincidentally that is one mile for every year Concatenation has existed -- between Dover in England and Calais in France. The attempt is being made this July to boldly go where no fan has gone before. The charities are all humanitarian: Barnados (orphans) and the British Heart Foundation and Madam Curie Cancer Care (both health related). Sponsors -- and let us hope that many individuals and groups that make up the SF community worldwide feel encouraged to support this one -- can if they wish choose which charity they would like their contribution to help. +++ If you cannot sponsor yourself then you can still help. You -- yes, your good self -- can easily spread the word by e-mailing an SF group, SF fanzine, or even SF enjoying scientist friends and colleagues, the following link to the challenge site http://uk.geocities.com/thecontact_2000/WhoDaresSwims.html. +++ Just so you know that Tony, if not insane (perish the thought), is at least consistent. He has participated in other fund-raising activities before including: the London to Cambridge bike ride (and back); done a parachute jump; and abseiled down the outside of Centre Point (one of London's sky scrapers).
Should it help you to promote this brave new venture, the link to this specific news item within this page is http://www.concatenation.org/news/news4~07.html#channel~swim.

First SF convention! It was 70 years ago today, than Leeds taught fans how to play. They've been going in and out of style, but they guaranteed fans a smile... Yes, this Spring (3rd January to be exact) saw the 70th anniversary of the Leeds Science Fiction League organised SF convention, that was the World's first such public-venued event. Held in the Theosophical Hall, Leeds, in 1937, a score of fans gathered including one Eric Frank Russell and a young Arthur Clarke: Russell was later to become the first person with whom Clarke would collaborate with story writing. +++ Twenty years ago, the 50th anniversary was marked by the 1987 UK Eastercon, BECCON '87, that ran a number of retrospective events including a panel on 'Fandom, past, present and future' chaired by Vin¢ Clarke, and there was also an H. G. Wells 'Ghost of Honour' speech. (Strangely, Wells' ghost was exactly the same height as one Ian Watson, but then someone has to be.)

Aelita Fantasy day held in Urals (31st March). The convention was attended by the fantasy writer Mari Semenovoy, author of 'Wolfhound'. An art exhibition, book hall and a couple of film screenings (one of which was a premiere) were the principal attractions, but there were others including a sword-fighting demonstration, fancy dress assisted by a film make-up crew and some live music by the group Ark.

The 2007 Bastkon was held in Moscow. Some 120 attended the January event, many of whom were SF and fantasy writers, though the focus is mainly fantasy. A good number of critics, genre journalists, publishers and translators were also present. Not bad considering the freezing Russian winters do not lend themselves to travel. A number of awards were presented including:
          The Sword of Bastion Award was given to the author Roman Zlotnikov.
          The Cup of Bastion Award went to Alexander Zorick for the novel Time Moscow'.
          The Ivankalit's Award went to Elena Haecka for the novel 'Michelle'.
          The Two Hearts Award was presented for the first time and relates to the cities of Moscow and St Petersburg. It went to Vadim Panov for the collection of stories 'Simply Crossroads'.
          The Karamzinski Cross -- fiction and non-fiction -- was presented for historical novels and films. The fiction Karamzinski went to Dalia Truskinovskaya for the novel 'The Cumnaya Expedition' and the non-fiction Karamzinski Cross went to Sergei Alexev for a monograph on St. Vladimir.
          Other authors picking up awards included Sergei Zarkowski for the novel 'I, Hobo', Yuri Maksimov for the novel 'Awakening' and Ivan Tardanov for the novel 'Prophets of War'.

The 2007 Roscon was held in Moscow at the end of March. Over 600 attended (similar to last year) the 7th Roscon. The Guests of Honour were Vasily Golovachev, Sergei Lukyanenko, Nick Perumov and Vladimir Mikhailov, but many more writers were also present and a cosmonaut, Gyorgy Grechko, participated on the programme who received a lot of attention. This and the presence of the science writer Anton Perwoshinam added a sound hard SF element to the event. Among the awards given, the Roscon award for 'best novel' went to Alexander Gromov for "Islandskaya karta" [Icelandic Chart or Iceland Map]. This is the first in a fantasy sequence and it has already won a number of awards including the Ukraine's Starbridge Award 2006 in the 'sequels and series' category. This year there was also a Polish dimension courtesy of the Polish Culture Centre. Of course next year's Roscon will also be the 2008 Eurocon.

Redemption '07, the television/media SF convention was held in Leicester, England. -- review here.

The 50th Lunacon has been held marking over half a century of SF activity in New York. Lunacon 50 was held in March and featured a programme stream that at times boasted around a dozen alternative programme items. The Guests of Honour were Christopher Moore (author), Dave Seeley (artist) and Frank Dietz (fan). The programme was panel dominated (which kept the registration fee down) but did cover books, films and TV. Science was represented too with panels on 'Singularities and the Tunguska Event' (a controversial one that); 'From X-Wings to Biplanes'; 'Organic Farms on Mars'; 'Medicine in 2057'; 'WHERE'S MY FLYING CAR?'; 'The Year in Science' and 'The Next 10 Years in Space'. There were also a number of technology panels on internet-related topics. Science fact and fiction Concateneers (who examine the line dividing science fact and fiction) might have enjoyed the panel on 'SF in the classroom' that examined how the genre can be an aid to learning/teaching.   Meanwhile a particularly nasty storm for a while impeded travel links with the airport. +++ Lunacon is the annual science fiction/fantasy convention organised by the New York Science Fiction Society better known as The Lunarians.

The British Eastercon was successfully held. Remember this was a last minute back-up convention as the original 2007 Eastercon folded and so it nearly did not happen. Some 500 (including day members) attended. By all accounts the Chester venue was excellent, though would not in the British Eastercons' larger years be big enough to cope (and the heating in some parts was excessive). Because it was a rescue Eastercon, not all the things happened this year that are usual to an Eastercon, nor could it cater for the broader British SF clans. Nonetheless this year's event did serve its current core constituency. There was the visiting (Hay) science lecture - psychology-related this year with Bangor U's Guillaume Thierry who demonstrated that what we take for 'reality' is nothing other than an illusion constructed by our brain (which was apparently in part reminiscent of Peter Gilligan's 1981 BECCON presentation). A high point was David Wake's SF play ‘Inveigle’. The convention all seemed to go off rather well and so the bail out committee -- who got a standing ovation at the closing ceremony -- can sit back knowing that they have done a good job. Even the real ale ran out very early on (another Eastercon tradition continued). +++ The 2009 Eastercon will be held in Bradford, home of the British curry so best share rooms wisely. Guests: Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Tim Powers and Dirk Maggs. Fan guests: Mary and Bill (formerly MaD) Burns. (MaD being Manchester and District SF.)

The nominations for the Ditmar, Australia's principal SF Award, are now closed. All those who are registered to attend Australia's national convention, Convergence 2 in June (see our convention diary), are eligible to vote on this five-strong short list. The results will be announced at Convergence 2.

The British Fantasycon (September 2007 in Nottingham) announces guests. They will be Michael Marshall Smith and Stephen Jones. The Master of Ceremonies will be Peter Crowther. In addition to book-related events there will be films shown. The convention banquet will also see the British Fantasy Society Awards. (Details here.)

Hispacon 2007, Spain's national convention, announces details. The 25th Spanish Convention of Fantasy and Science Fiction, HispaCon, organized by the Spanish Association for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (AEFCFT) will be in Seville from the 2nd to the 4th of November 2007.

Beneluxcon announces details. Beneluxcon is a small international western European convention held in the Benelux (Belgium, Luxemburg or Netherlands) nations. This year the focus is on written SF. Guests this year are both English: Christopher Priest and Nigel Calder. Dates: Fri 23rd November to Sunday 25th. Venue: Novatel near Leuven rail station which itself is half an hour from Brussels South which is a terminus for both the Eurostar and Thalys. English will be the con's main language and the programme will include an evening walk through the town. The e-mail is: contact [at] futurevisions [dot] be.

'Orbital' the 2008 British SF Eastercon progress report 1 out. It features profiles of two of the Guests of Honour, author as well as comic story writer and novel author Neil Gaiman and SF book dealer Rog Peyton. Orbital's organising committee is in no small part underpinned by experience gained at the Redemption media conventions. So not surprising that plans for the 2008 British Eastercon programme see a return to Eastercon programmes of yore with some film programming and there will be some TV related SF too. Recent Eastercons have seen media items largely relegated to a side room with its programme, seemingly concocted on the hoof, only being presented on a notice board each day, as opposed to being detailed in the programme book with everything else. Eastercons never really adapted to the arrival of home video (and then DVD) as many conrunners viewed the copyright issues as too hard to address or saw there being no need for cinematic and TV-related screenings. So 2008 sees a real chance, should the committee decide to take it, for the Eastercon to present hard-to-get independent genre related films or some of the copyright-free semi-pro offerings that abound (a few of which are downloadable from the net) fully integrated within the rest of the convention's programme. Orbital's progress report 1 also says that there will be a science stream. (The first Eastercon with something close to a science stream was Eastcon (1990) that had several science items which, though sprinkled across 3 of its 4 streams, had each science item linked to the previous as well as subsequent item on the programme.) Orbital is going to need a large attendance if it is to sustain these streams but appealing to Redemption goers as well as the present day regulars should help. Being held on the outskirts of London (Heathrow) may also see a not insignificant daily commuting attendance. Prior to the 2007 Eastercon, Orbital had over 300 adult paid-up registrations. (Details see www.orbital2008.org.)

British Fantasy Society London 'open nights' through to the autumn have been announced. The open nights are free to both members and non-members and are informal affairs in a pub, usually with a few authors in attendance. Some small press representatives also regularly turn up to sell books. Open nights through to the autumn will all be held at Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1AA. Nearest tube Temple and the nearest rail Blackfriars. The dates are all Fridays on: June 1st, September 7th and December 7th. +++ Apart from June, the others are the day after the London SF Circle's (1st Thursday of the month) evening meetings usually in the basement of the Melton Mowbray pub in Chancery Lane, London.

New Croydon SF group. There is a new Croydon SF group in SE London. This one is a little more media orientated and its first meetings were being held on the 1st Thursday of the month from February. However they now realise that this clashes with the London SF Circle (see previous item) and we understand that a new time is being considered. Venue is the Red Deer pub near Croydon bus garage.

LOTNA back at Horseshoe Inn (London Bridge). Following yet another gazumping at Christmas which forced a move for their seasonal party. LOTNA are back at the Horseshoe Inn, Melior St (4 minutes SE from London Bridge station) on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month (with a few exceptions in the year). Details from lotna [at] gmail [dot] com.

The Contact: Cult TV & Science Fiction Newsletter has ceased publication after an 11 year run. The newsletter was in full colour throughout and laid out and produced to a high standard. Its circulation has primarily been to London's LOTNA and a subscription base largely drawn from Cult TV convention fandom. After 131 monthly issues the production team are finding it a bit much. They have not pulled the plug completely and may consider a new volume in 2008.

2000AD birthday bash plans get rough ride from fans. 2000AD was actually 30 in February but in April (shortly after this seasonal news page is posted) it planned to hold a birthday bash in London. However the proposal did not meet with all their fans' approval on the 2000AD's own website noticeboard. Being held midweek at a nightclub disco venue until 3am did not go down well. Those who work cannot easily party midweek and did a nightclub disco venue mean that a noisy bop was the order of the day, or a would it be a drinks and chat party? The latter was argued as more befitting a gathering of 2000AD aficionados. Other criticisms related to the proposals being announced with less than a month to go. Having said that, in favour of the organisers this could all have been a prudent ruse to ensure that only the most dedicated 2000AD fans went as they would be prepared to take the necessary time off of work: well most dedicated and those hard of hearing... +++ Birthday bash honours the late Tom Frame and a donation is raised and made to cancer charity. Cheers Tom, we raise a glass to you.

Sci-Fi London -- the SF film fest will be on Wednesday 2nd - Sunday 6th May. This is the Fest's sixth year and again there are many worthy films on the programme including the a sprinkling of either World or European premieres. Of the World premieres there is one of an old classic -- a new edition of the 1936 William Cameron Menzies black and white Things To Come, based on the H. G. Wells story. This version has an extra 20 minutes of never-seen-before footage (and is billed as a 'director's cut', which is a pretty neat trick since he popped his clogs yonks ago).   Then there is the World premiere of Exitz. The plot of which concerns a global computer games tycoon Percy (Malcolm McDowell), a billionaire celebrity who creates a strange new game where reality is the game and real people become the pawns.   Another premiere is that of a spoof pulp type 1950s SF film called Captain Eager.   There is also an SF horror with Plane Dead in which a zombie type rage virus (that's oh so popular since 28 Days) escapes on a plane in mid-flight. Meanwhile there is the UK premiere of 28 Weeks Later.  There are of course plenty of other films (so check out the link at the beginning of this article) as well as a pub quiz (but with the novelty of it not being held in a pub but some pop-beer will be around).   All in all the line-up for this year's Fest will make for an entertaining few days.

Frightfest London -- the horror film fest will be held 23rd - 27th August The venue will be the Odeon West End. Anyone wishing to submit films for consideration for the programme needs to have done so by 1st June.

The 2007 Festival of Fantastic Films is to be held at the end of August and (further to last time) has announced a guest change and more guests. Sadly it looks like the Director/Actor/Producer Lamberto Bava will not be joining the Fest. However actor Edward De Souza will be attending instead. His appearances include Phantom of the Opera, Kiss of the Vampire, The Spy Who Loved Me and Rocket to the Moon.   Actor John Leyton will also be attending. His appearances include Schizo, The Great Escape and the geographically challenged Krakatoa: East of Java. Because some guests invariably have to bow out at the last minute due to changes in shooting schedules the Fest has gone overboard this year with a few extra guests than usual. In the line up are actor and director Ulli Lommel whose credits include Zodiac Killer and Zombie Nation. Then there is actress Vera Day (Quatermas 2, Hell Drivers and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels). Finally there is the stuntman and actor 'Lightening Bear' whose genre appearances include Diamonds Are Forever, King Kong (1976), and Star Wars 4, 5 and 6.   This is in addition to director Jean Rollin, announced last season's newscast, who will apparently be bringing his last two movies: The Two Orphaned Vampires and Fiancée of Dracula.  He may also be able to bring the currently-shooting Transfigurated Night if a copy is available from the cutting room.   The Fest's details are on fantastic-films.com/festival. There will of course be both SF and horror golden oldies and new independents and amateur films in parallel programme streams. See here for a review of the last 2006 Festival.

Nominations for the 2007 FFANZ (Fan Fund for Australia and New Zealand) have now closed. Voting on these nominations is to last to 31st March. This fund sends fans between Australia's and new Zealand's national conventions. The news as to the winners should be out sometime soon after we post this season's newscast. Details are on sffanz.sf.org.nz.

The DUFF (Down Under Fan Fun) selection continues. This fan fund sends either an Australasian to a North American convention or vice-versa. This year the vote is for an Australasian fan to travel to the 2007 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) in Illinois, 2nd-5th August 2007. Voting will have ended by 6th June. Details are here.

Into TV related Sci-Fi memorabilia? Our other Tony is parting with a substantial chunk of his collection amassed over many years. Check out uk.geocities.com/captaincardigans. Probably only practical if you are London or home-county based (Tony goes to LOTNA), but if a serious collector and further a field you could arrange to do an international money transfer and add on the cost of shipping. (Concat team members are generally trustworthy types.)

 

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

Summer 2007

NET WATCH

It is 10 years since the first blog. Continuing this season's newscast 'anniversary' theme (remember we told you we are 20) it is a decade on since Dave Winner posted what is often called the first blog in April 1997: though the term 'weblog' (which then became 'blog') was not coined until December. Winner was a New Yorker who at first just used to post daily links of the websites he visited. Today Technocrati lists some 70 million blogs with 120,000 new ones created each day (1.4 a second) but less than 1.5 million blog posts are made each day. Two thirds of blogs are either in English or Japanese. The blogsphere (or blogosphere?) is 'currently' (as of April) doubling in size every five months: note the 'currently' as this is not sustainable and is bound to slow before this year's end

Starship Sofawww.starshipsofa.co.uk. Worth checking out by SF book buffs and the on-line audio podcasts are great for downloading and listening to if you have a work commute or some such. (We reported on the Starship Sofa site on last time's science fiction news page.)

Estronomicon, the free online fiction zine, is now well into its second year. Launched last year issue seven in PDF format is now out: www.pdf-search-engine.com/estronomicon-pdf.html

The SFsignal has found out that in 1949 SF was just a fad! They ("http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/004686.html) report of a Time magazine article from 1949 that says that science fiction small press book publishing has been 'mushrooming' in the past few years. It opines that this is due the current time being one of uncertainty and the tremendous advances in science. The Time article also notes that fans are 'rabid'.

Tor (US) has updated its website. We found out from SFsignal who had ("http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/004797.html") previously noted that it was dated and so it seems the Tor site revamp was long overdue.

Dr Who Scarf.com is for all those Tom Baker Who fans fascinated by his jumbo scarf. In addition to checking out its role in the series (actually there were four of them), adventurous fans capable of knitting can create their own with the patterns provided. The webmaster now has an original scarf and there is naturally a page to commemorate the acquisition. +++ Only Brit SF could come up with iconic yet mundane textile products such as scarves and towels.

There are many odd bits of Japanese culture online should you wish to get into the mood before going to this year's Worldcon in Japan.   Japan TV profiles some of the aspects of Japanese TV.   Ping Mag a site about Japanese design, art and the odd.   And finally http://www.thejapanesearecrazy.com - The Japanese Are Crazy with eccentrics and Forteanna.

Into drawing and writing SF comics? The Dredd Megazine recently carried an informative spread featuring on-line examples thant might help.
          Do not re-invent the wheel. Bugpowder.com is an on-line noticeboard so you can see who else is doing what.
          FutureQuake, Solar Wind (www.omnivistascope.com) and The Girly Comic are just some of the small presses you can submit to once you feel your work is up to standard.
          Redeye is the magazine of small press comics and taking out a subscription will help familiarise you with the scene.
          Have fun, listen to criticism and pay attention to reviews, don't print large print runs (a couple of hundred should suffice despite the economics of scale) otherwise you will end up with boxes you can't get rid of and waste far more money than you thought you might have saved, and be original.

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

Sphere of Destiny (http://ds.rambler.ru) is an on-line fantasy game taking Russian nations by storm. It was created three years ago and today over 700,000 players are registered and this is increasing, while on any given day some 25,000 play. As such it is Russia's and its allied countries' top on-line computer game. The game takes place on-line in cyberspace in real time. The aim is for you to rise through society and create your own empire.
          In March a one-day event was held to find the first All-Russian Champion. In addition to taking part in this championship (or watching others do so), those attending the free event met the game's creators and administrators. There was, of course, all sorts of related books, models and other memorabilia on sale. If you speak Russian why not have a go and then tell us what you think.

 

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

Summer 2007

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

Britain returns with a World class synchrotron. Synchrotrons provide high energy electromagnetic radiation that can be used to determine molecular structures. The first synchrotron was in London in 1946. Since then higher energy systems have been built in other countries. Now Britain's Diamond synchrotron, costing £260 million (US$505 million) has gone operational. It currently has seven beams capable of producing X-rays of 100 - 20,000 eV. It has funding for another 15 which should be operational by 2011.

So what is the future of UK science? Questions asked following spring cuts in Britain's Science Base. Quick lesson: The UK 'Science Base' is the specific term for the Government's research investment on (supposedly fundamental, basic and blue skies) research through its Research Councils (covering physics, biology, and medicine and their technological applications) and does not include spending by Government Departments (such as for health, agriculture and the environment) who spend is for 'policy-driven research' (for example there may be a policy to combat the importation of avian flu), nor does it include industrial research or 'education'...
          The back story is that science funding in the UK declined in the latter part of the Conservative years in the 1990s. Since the late 1990s the Labour government has been increasing the Science Base (as well as much Departmental policy-driven research with the notable exception of agriculture). The increase in the Science Base and much of the Departmental policy-driven spend has largely caught-up in real-terms with the 1990s decline in terms of the annual spend (but not the cumulative real-term shortfall). So the UK is more or less (but not quite) back to where it was in terms of Governmental investment a couple of decades ago. The Government in 2003/4 announced that it would continue this growth in real-term science investment through to the end of the decade but called for industry to join it. Industry so far has been reluctant to do so. The Government signalled its disquiet about this in a leaked memo a year or so ago. Now it has made a further indication with a 1.5% cut in the £6.6 billion (US$12 billion) Science Base budget.
          Much of the recovery of British science is down to the work of Lord Sainsbury who was Minister for Science (1998-2006) who recently resigned. This cut has come at the beginning of the new Science Minister's watch (Malcolm Wicks). Worse, while Wicks has a responsibility across all Government Departments (most of whom have their own science budgets), he has direct control of his Office of Science and Innovation (formerly Office of Science and Technology) budget and this is includes all the UK Science Base funding.
          Given this back drop, the Government found it easy to cut Science Base funding when elsewhere in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) (within which science funding is also managed) there was a budget deficit (due to a car industry project going wrong). Critics of the Science Base cut say that this breaks the agreement that science would be ring-fence protected in the DTI, and also that bailing out a failed project elsewhere rewards failure elsewhere in the DTI.

The Earth is to have a single geological map. To some this may seem amazing that this has not been done before but it has not. The project, called OneGeology is being led by the British Geological Survey. The aim is to have a 1:1,000,000 scale (1 cm representing 10 km) but some countries may think this too commercially sensitive and so in places the map may only have a fifth of this resolution. It is hoped that much of the content, though not all of it, will be free to browse.

Archaeology: The oldest known solar observatory in the Americas has been discovered. Located in Chankillo, Peru, it is comprised mainly of 13 pillars that date from the 4th century BC (2,300 years ago), which compares with Stonehenge some 4,500 to 5,000 years ago. When viewed from one of two observation points, the pillars mark where the Sun rises and sets at key times throughout the annual cycle. (Sciencev315, p1239).

 

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

Summer 2007

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

The Pluto-bound probe, New Horizons, made its closest approach to Jupiter on 28th February. Launched January last year the probe will slingshot by Jupiter to get an acceleration boost of 9,000 miles per hour to 52,000 mph (84,000 km/h) for its journey to Pluto. Even so it will not arrive there until July 2015: though the acceleration has shortened the journey time by four years. During the flyby observations will be made through to early June 2007 of Jupiter and some of its moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto). After the fly-by, between Jupiter and Pluto, the probe will only be activated once a year for maintenance checks.

Mars' south pole has far more water than previously thought. ESA's Mars Express has found that there is enough water locked up at the Martian south pole to cover the planet to a depth of 36 feet (11 metres). Mars Express used an Italian-US devised radar probe (Marsis). It was able to probe the ice through to the bottom at the deepest point some 2.3 miles (3.7 km). The radar was deployed in June 2005 after a delay of a year as the 65 foot (20 metre) long booms were in danger of swinging back to damage the probe. This discovery adds to others (such as the geological activity history and atmospheric methane) Mars Express has made.

Hang gliding over Mars. Pictures from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRise camera, of areas of the Martian surface from different angles, has enabled virtual parts of Mars be created. You can now virtually hang glide over these areas of Mars. See this link for a short couple of minutes clip. This animation shows a "hang-glider's view" of the Victoria Crater on Mars, where NASA's Opportunity rover is based.

The Cassini probe has found the biggest sea on Titan yet. Two years ago the ESA Huygens part (the lander) of the ESA-NASA Cassini-Huygens mission detected small seas really the size of lakes when it descended. Now the Cassini Orbiter has found one body of liquid bigger than 39,000 sq miles (100,000 sq km), or Lake Superior, which given that Titan has a diameter a third that of Earth arguably means that this is a sea. It covers a proportional area compared to the Earth of the Black Sea. Unlike Earth's seas of water, Titan's ones are of hydrocarbons, probably methane.

India's capsule successfully returns to Earth. The test paves the way for manned missions but also is a critical step in its planned unmanned mission to send an unmanned mission to the Moon in 2008. (Details here.)

A falling satellite narrowly misses airline. Passengers en route from Chile to New Zealand just missed being hit by flaming bits of a Russian satellite.

The Chinese have blown up one of their own satellites with a missile. Soon after the year began the Chinese launched a KT-1 rocket that hit one of its low-orbit satellites. There was no explosive warhead but the orbital velocities were such that the impact alone broke the satellite up into an estimated 800 fragments larger than 10cm and some 40,000 smaller ones. Other space-going nations, including the US, have ceased such satellite deliberate destruction as the resulting fragments are a threat to other satellites. The US alone has some 40 military satellites in low orbits typically of about 400 - 600 miles. +++ Anniversary note: Those of our regulars back from when we began in 1987 may recall then we reported on the space junk problem and that a fleck of paint from one craft hit a space shuttle window causing sufficient damage that it had to be replaced. It is also thought that there is a real chance that over a 100 year period the International Space Station will be hit by a piece of junk big enough to cause decompression.

Chinese to the Moon. The Chinese have announced their medium and long-term goals for space. In the short-to-medium term they will focus on unmanned probes but in the medium-to-long term they are out to put a man on the Moon. +++ Chinese goals spur US Moon base but budgets not secure.

NASA's chief is encouraging the UK to join with the US to go to Mars. Michael McGriffin was speaking to the World Economic Forum and encouraged the UK to team up with NASA to realise George Bush's dream of a man on Mars by 2020. Great Britain has distinguished itself as being the only space-going nation in the World that has given up its independent space ability. However the Blue Streak rocket that was Britain's own launcher today makes up one of ESA's Ariane stages and of course the UK is an active partner in ESA. ESA itself has its own long-term plans regarding Mars called Aurora. It is a more sedate programme than Bush's 2020 goal but ESA's record for success does suggest that Europe may well get there in the end.

The first atmospheres of two hot Jupiters have been detected. There is some debate about the results (Nature v445 p803) and the first paper suggests that the hot Jupiter HD 209458b orbiting a star 150 light years from Earth has carbon molecules in its atmosphere along with silicates (which suggest water vapour being around). The analysis was done by comparing the parent star's spectrum when the hot-Jupiter was in front of it compared with the spectrum when it was behind it and subtracting one from the other.

New Italian Space Agency (ASI) President identifies key space science questions that over the next two decades will be answered. Giovanni Bignami, was the former ASI Science Director and is now its President. The multidisciplinary science journal Nature (v446, p478) asked him what three key questions space science will solve within the next 20 years? Three things apparently. i. The nature and origin of dark matter. ii. The observation of gravity waves after the Big Bang. iii. Discovering a new 'Earth' (using a methodology that Concatenation happened to outline back in 1994 (issue 8, p7-8)).

Patrick Moore's amateur astronomy show The Sky At Night marked its 50th anniversary with a special edition (1st April) entitled 'Time Lord'. While Dr Who may arguably be the longest running SF series in the World (OK so there was a break of a few years and so Stargate pips it) but The Sky At Night is the BBC's longest running series period! Going for half a century for the past couple of decades it has been shown late at night on the first Sunday of the month. In the anniversary episode Patrick Moore travelled back in time to meet his younger self (played by impressionist Jon Culshaw who is himself an amateur astronomy enthusiast). He also travelled forward in time and cyber uploaded to visit Mars. Pop group Queen's Dr Brian May (who has studied astrophysics) also appeared in the show. +++ In addition to astronomy Patrick Moore has written a couple of juvenile SF books and on one occasion visited the UK Eastercon.

Amateur astronomy tip of the season... The time to catch Saturn is early on, as opposed to later, in the summer. Later the angle of tilt of the rings as seen from Earth will narrow making it difficult to discern the Cassini division.

Lazy amateur astronomy tip of the season... Have a drink and watch others do it for real by a webcam at the Palomar Observatory. (Note: You have to check the web cam when it is night and they are observing at Palomar: that is GMT -7 hours (Mountain Time in N.America).)

 

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

Summer 2007

NATURAL SCIENCE

Carl Linnaeus was born in May 300 years ago. This Swedish naturalist's legacy is the system of species classification we use today. This system of double Latin names is used Worldwide and now with the internet there are a number of sites from which you can find the Latin name of any living creature that has been identified. For example see www.zoobank.org for animals and here for plants. The first Latin name refers to the genus (for example Homo) and the second the species (for example sapiens). Sometimes there is a third for sub-species (for example sapiens) So taking our example there is Homo sapiens sapiens which relates to modern man. However over the past two and half centuries there has been scientific progress. In the beginning species were classified by their appearance and classified according to where they visually seemed to appear in evolution's family tree. Today genetic analysis has shown that a number of these 'taxanomic systematic' classifications were mistaken. Genome systemics is currently a growth area of science but traditional taxanomic systematics is a declining skill and life scientists ability to identify species a cause of concern in the UK. Another problem has been confusing sub-species with species. So there has been some 'taxanomic inflation'. Finally, in terms of relevance of the need to properly classify species, species are since the nineteenth century becoming extinct at a rate that many biologists say is equivalent to a global mass extinction event. This is commonly known as biodiversity loss.

The European Union (EU) environmental policy is 35 years old. Achievements have included tackling acid rain, addressing the thinning of the ozone layer, improving air quality, and reducing noise pollution and waste. While along the way it banned lead in petrol. Among its successes is Natura 2000, the most widespread and successful network of high value nature sites in the World, with more than 30,000 sites across the EU nations. Current goals include the Water Framework Directive (adopted in 2000) that aims to ensure that all EU rivers, lakes and ground water have water of good quality by 2015.

Chaz Darwin's other on-line. Emma Darwin, wife of Charles, now has her diaries on-line. Spanning 1824 - 1896 they can be viewed by anyone on the net at darwin-online.org.uk.

Dolly, the artificially cloned sheep is ten. Yes, she had her tenth anniversary on 27th February. Since then we have had cloned cows, mice, pigs, cats, horses, rats and most recently a dog. Dolly was the only success from 277 cloned embryos. There are many bona fide reasons for cloning but world domination is not one of them. One main goal is whether we will get the ability to clone and grow organs for medical reasons.

Curry since the dawn of humanity. Humans domesticated the chilli in the Americas more than 6,100 years ago and so in some cases even pre-dates pottery. (Science v315, p986).

Doomsday seed store plans released. February saw the design plans published for the Arctic seed store to preserve crop genes in the event of a global disaster. We covered the story in last season's news.

Amateur science explorer tip of the season. Have a drink and watch where the Brit Antarctic research vessel RSS James Clark Ross goes by webcam at http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/Living_and_Working/Transport/Ships/Webcam.

 

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

Summer 2007

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. America and only where we know there is European distribution.
If you wish a more complete listing then Locus publishes an occasional British listing in its magazine as well as a more detailed retrospective one.

Brothers of the Snake by Dan Abnett, Black Library, hdbk, £16.95. ISBN 978-1-844-1-6475-2.
A space opera tale of conflict.

No Humans Involved by Kelly Armstrong, Orbit, hdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49395-4.

Polity Agent by Neal Asher, Tor (UK), pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-4-4152-0.
Space opera action. This is the paperback of the previously published hardback.

Hilldiggers by Neal Asher, Tor (UK), hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 140-5-05500-6.
A new novel from Asher. Scientific discoveries can happen at any time, including in the midst of an interstellar war when a superstring is stumbled upon.

Divergence by Tony Ballantyne, Tor (UK), trdpbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-0-330-44650-1.
Our Tony has been raving over Ballantyne since he discovered him last year (see his review of Capacity) and some of the rest of us are keeping an eye out for him. This one is a tale of the distant future in which an intelligent virus runs rampant and a woman inherits a mission of destruction.

Navigator by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, hdbk / trdpbk, £17.99 / 10.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7675-4 / 978-0-575-0-7991-5.
This is the latest in Baxter's counter factual sequence (see Emperor below). The question here is who discovered America?

Emperor by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7922-9.
This is the paperback release of the new counter-factual (alternate history) series by Stephen Baxter. NOTE - This actually is sort of SF. We hope to review it in full shortly but it does seem as if Baxter is bringing together some of his earlier series of books. In particular this new counter-factual series, though set back in Roman Empire days may ultimately tie in with his Xeelee sequence which already has a book, Coalescent, beginning in the fifth century. The thing is that if you are playing with time and alternate realities, as Baxter likes to do, then really his series can in plot terms become no holds barred. Hence we have listed this in the forthcoming SF section rather than fantasy in case those not into fantasy decide to give it a miss. (In case you have picked up on Concat's core reviewers' tastes, Graham and Jonathan quite like Baxter while Tony though enjoying many gives a slightly more jaded perspective: overall it is probably fair to say we think he gives good hard SF. Some Baxter reviews on this site include: Coalescent, Origin, Moonseed, Space, Time, Titan, Traces, Transcendent and Vacuum Diagrams.)

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier, John Murray, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-719-5-6830-5.
A science fantasy worthy that slipped under our radar but the good news is that the paperback came out. A city sees new arrivals and it eventually becomes apparent that they are all recently dead and that this is a nowhere city. So what of the world that these folk have left behind. Meanwhile in Antarctica a women is the last person in a research base, the others having since gone for help. She realises that they are not coming back and so assembles her supplies to set off for civilization. This book has had some great reviews, though it has to be said that some do not like the ending but equally many of these reviewers say that this should not put you off getting this title.

Infinity Plus: The Anthology Eds Keith Brooke and Nick Gevers, Solaris, trdpbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-844-1-6489-9.
A collection of stories from the fiction website Infinity Plus. The catch is that the stories are the ones chosen by the authors themselves. (Risky as often authors' views and motives are different from those of readers.) However with Kim Stanley Robinson, Adam Roberts, Stephen Baxter, Michael Moorcock, Paul McAuley and Charles Stross in the mix there's bound to be a few gems and an overall good standard.

Helix by Eric Brown, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-1-6472-1.
Being washed up on a desert island can be bad enough but crash land on an alien world is an even bigger battle for survival. However there are many planets in this system, each a short distance from the other... (Other Eric Brown titles reviewed on this site include: New York Blues, New York Nights and Penumbra all of which show he writes good SF detective stories. Helix is a little different, so it will be interesting to see how it shapes up.).

Dead Man's Boots by Mike Carey, Orbit, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-841-4-9395-4.

The Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark, Viking, hdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-9-1532-3.
This one may have slipped under your radar (it slipped under ours) when it came out as a general fiction title in February (hence this late announcement). It is an 18th century tale of one woman's triumph over 'the dark forces of science'.

Invasion by Gerry Finley-Day & Eric Bradbury, 2000AD, trd pbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-1-905-4-3726-9.
Graphic novel. This black and white graphic is a reprint of a late 1970s strip from 2000AD so it is one of the silver oldies. Of interest to 2000AD and graphic novel fans, but probably not SF readers who only occasionally dip into graphic novels as this strip never went on to anything great (other than there are references to the Volgan invasion in othr 2000 strips and there is (currently) a disjointed link with the universe of the ABC warriors). In the near future the Volgans (for which read the Sov Block) invade Europe and Britain. This is the story of (largely one man's) resistance. Bearing in mind that this was written three decades ago before the end of the Cold War, this near-future is one without home computers, e-mail, the internet or mobile phones which kind of adds to its quirkiness.

Fat by Rob Grant, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7820-8.
Comedy SF from the co-creator of Red Dwarf. (See the title link for a full review.)

Death's Head by David Gunn, Bantam, hdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-0=5832-9.
Gunn's debut novel is billed as an all-action, testosterone-fuelled adventure as if Mad Max had strolled onto the set of Judge Dredd or vice versa. So this may have an SF riff in that James Bond, with his high-tech devices and global domination plots, has an SFnal dimension. If you are into Bond then it will be a fairly safe bet that you could get off on Death's Head.

The Dark River by John Twelve Hawkes, Bantam Press, hdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-593-0-5489-5.
Now you may have missed this one as Bantam are not marking this as SF (and so we only found out about it by accident. However it may be sufficiently SFnal for many of our regulars. This is a tale about those who live 'off of the grid', who prefer anonymity to being monitored and controlled in today's e-world. Techo-thrillerish maybe but do you recall the idea of 'blanks' from Max Headroom?

No Dominion by Charlie Huston, Orbit, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-841-4-9527-9.

My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen, Bloomsbury, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-747-5-8593-0.
Part set in Copenhagen in 1897 and part in modern-day London, this is a time travel fairtale of a novel.

Unconditional by Clara Sue Kean, Book Guild Publishing, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-846-2-4107-9.
Everyone in monochromia thinks in black and white, but fragment 29 is a dissident.

Dean Koontz Frankenstein -- Dead and Alive by Dean Koontz and Leigh Nichols, HarperCollins, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-007-2-0311-6.
This is another in the series that Koontz began with Kevin J. Anderson and their Dean Koontz's Frankenstein. Deucalion (one of the early Frankenstein creations) now has the two police detectives on his side. Meanwhile Frankenstein's army (of a sort of Homo superior) begin to infiltrate society.

Icarus by Roger Levy, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7981-6.
Hard SF story of the discovery by a geological team of an old escape pod buried at the bottom of a former lava lake. Meanwhile on another world life is very different with villages struggling to survive in deep forests. Levy is slowly acquiring a bit of a reputation and we hope to do a full review of this shortly. (Levy titles that are fully reviewed on this site are Dark Heavens and Reckless Sleep.)

Acorna Children: Second Wave by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Corgi, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-552-1-5537-3.
A science fantasy fairy tale adventure.

Brasyl by Ian McDonald, Gollancz, hdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-8050-8.
Ian MacDonald is well known for richly written novels full of character and description. (In fact we welcomed his debut novel (the 1989 paperback of his 1988 Desolation Road) back in the days when we were an annual print publication. Then we wondered whether 'this new British author [will] maintain such a high standard?'. While his rich description is more than enough in itself, River of Gods had the added bonus of a properly developed plot (as opposed to the background providing the book's momentum) and so was rightly nominated for the 2005 Hugo Award for Best Novel. That story was set in India in the near future. Now with Brasyl McDonald takes us to Rio de Janeiro, again in the near future. It is a time when technology gives us access to alternate/parallel worlds. Do not be surprised if this one does very well. Advance copies of the US edition (Pyr) has already and had some good comment that side of the Pond. (Ian McDonald books reviewed elsewhere on this site include: Ares Express, River of Gods hardback and paperback.)

Bone Song by John Meaney, Gollancz, hdbk/trdpbk, £18.99 / £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0795-5 / 978-0-575-0-7954-0. This promises to be a bit of a science fantasy blast where necromancy is a science and the dead walk. In this world people are killed for their bones. Billed as reminiscent of Dark City. (Graham and Matt like Meaney see their reviews of Context and To Hold Infinity.)

Albion by Alan Moore, Leah Moore, John Reppion and Shane Oakley, Titan Books, trdpbk, £9.99. ISBN 1-845-76351-3.
(See the title link for a full review.) This is the first (there will no doubt be many future editions) compilation into a graphic novel of the comic Albion that was due to have seen a complete run in 2005 but in fact was only completed after much delay in the summer of 2006. We mentioned it last time but as it came out so close to the summer we though to give it another plug since it will be of interest to all who enjoyed British boys comics of the 1960's; it features many characters of that era now aged to the present day. For example there is Archie and the Steel Claw. If such characters had really existed, would the authorities today have allowed them to roam free in society, and what of some of the powers that they possessed? A great story in itself that is only rivalled in Albion's historical value. The low price only partly reflects that it is not very large but also that Titan probably achieved economies of scale with a respectable print-run and the current low-value of the US dollar. This is a strong contender for 'the' graphic novel of 2007. (Alan Moore titles with stand-alone reviews elsewhere on this site include: The Complete D.R. & Quinch, DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Vol. 1), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Vol. 2), Promethea Book 1, Promethea Book 2, Promethea Book 4, Promethea Book 5, Skizz, Swamp Thing: A Murder of Crows, Tomorrow Stories Book 2, Tom Strong Book 1 , Tom Strong Book 3, Tom Strong Book 4, Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales book 1, Top 10 book 1 and Terra Obscura vol. 2.)

Black Man by Richard Morgan, Gollancz, trdpbk, £9.99. ISBN 9780575-0-7513-9.
In the next century some humans are genetically modified and bred to be super fighters. Then one of them, a prisoner on a flight to Mars, escapes and starts to kill. (Full reviews of other Richard Morgan books on this site include: Altered Carbon, , Broken Angels, Market Forces and Woken Furies.)

Astrotruckers by Michael Niemi, Harril Secker, pbk, £10. ISBN 978-1-843-4-3278-4.
Several tales of outer space as told by an astrotrucker.

Debatable Space by Philip Palmer, Orbit, trdpbk, £10. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7865-1.

The Da-Da-Di-Da Code by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, hdbk / trdpbk, £14.95 / £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7011-0 / 978-0-575-0-7990-8.
Rankin is well into double figures with his comic science fantasy novels. He has been described as many things. However we feel that he is CamRA's answer to Terry Pratchett. (CamRA, for our overseas site visitors, is the Campaign for Real Ale, and Real Ale is what we call a bitter beer made from hops and served with either a gravity feed or hand pump (and not gas under Jovian pressure). Now Real Ale is an important part of properly organised SF book conventions in the UK. You can tell Robert Rankin's comic science fantasy comes from a man who runs on bio-ethanol. In this quasi-parody of the Dan Brown fiction there can be little doubt that the protagonists will have a pint, or three, along the way. (Rankin novels already reviewed on this site include: The Brightonomicon and The Toyminator .)

The Toyminator by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7951-9.
The paperback edition of the hardback previously reviewed -- see title link for a full review.

The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, hdbk / trdpbk, £14.99 / £10.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7716-4 / 978-0-575-0-7818-5.
A return to the world of Revelation Space. Reynolds gives good space opera that we like. (See also a Century Rain, Chasm City, Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days and Pushing Ice.).

Land of the Headless by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, trdpbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7799-7.
A tale set in the future on a far away world that is run along New Testament lines. A man accused of rape is beheaded and then fitted with an ordinator and visual receptors. With such a stigmata the only thing he can do is join the army.

Splinter by Adam Roberts, Solaris, trdpbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-844-1-6490-5.
Hector thinks that the end of the world is nigh and he, so his cult followers duly prepare. When an asteroid shatters the Earth he and his followers struggle to survive on a splinter of the planet... This is inspired by a Jules Verne story that Solaris will have freely available on their website with an introduction by Roberts. (Full reviews of other Adam Roberts titles already on this site include: Gradisil, The McAtrix Derided, Salt, Star Warped, Stone and The Va Dinci Cod.)

Doctor Whom by A. R. R. R. Roberts, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07968-7.
Adam Roberts in spoof mode. Wonder on whom this parody is based?

Sixty Days and Counting by Kim Stanley Robinson, HarperCollins, hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-007-1-4892-9.
Yes we mentioned this in last season's forthcoming science fiction books as, coming out in April it was on the cusp between the end of the spring period our the summer season listings. This is the third, and presumably the last, in Kim Stanley Robinson global warming series taken from the perspective of those in the advisory policy circles to a politician who becomes President. The first two in the series, Forty Signs of Rain and Fifty Degrees Below, gets the science largely right and, our Jonathan says that Robinson has clearly read quite extensively and got some solid science advice. This book and series deserves to do very well if only because the subject matter -- human-induced climate change -- is so vitally important. Set in the very near future this book should appeal to both SF and mainstream readerships. Are the likes of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace recommending these titles to their members? They should! Robinson provides us with an all too rare example of SF with immediate and global relevance. With luck we will do a full review of this in time for the paperback release.

Selling Out by Justina Robson, Gollancz, trd pbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07865-9.
This is book two in Robson's Quantum Bomb series that sees a super heroine (cyborg) do her thing in a future where a supercollider experiment caused parallel Earth's to become open to each other. One side effect of this is that the laws of physics have changed and magic sort of works on Earth. Action packed. Female science fantasy 007. Leather and bikes too. (See reviews of book one by Tony and Jonathan.)

Everfree by Nick Sagan, Bantam, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-553-8-1599-3.
The final part of the 'Idlewild' trilogy. The Black Ep(idemic) has passed and those that survive begin to revive those who out-rode the Black Ep's biological ravages in cryogenic suspended animation. Howeverthe sleeper have political and resource luggage, hence and agenda, not entirely in line with creating an utopia for all. And then a threat from far away is detected... Graham liked the first two (Idlewild and Edenborn) in the trilogy. We'll throw Jonathan into the deep end with this one. Review to appear shortly.

Old Man's War by John Scalzi, Tor (UK), pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-330-4-5216-8.
It has taken over a year for the paperback of this Hugo-Award nominated novel, first published in North America in 2005, to come to the British Isles and Western Europe! Why? Well at least Tor (UK) has now got it here. No elbowing now. There will be enough copies for everyone.

Mockingbird by Walter Tevis, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7915-1.
This is part of Gollancz's excellent SF Masterwork series. A dying civilisation has no art, no reading, no children and no hope. But could there be love?

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files #8 by various, 2000AD, trd pbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-1-905-4-3727-6.2000AD fans) as this is part of the series of reprints of the original Dredd stories in black and white from in order from when they first appeared. This 8th volume covers stories from the 1980s. Having said that this is a must (or a good present to buy) for young 2000AD as well as serious Dredd fans, this is probably not for those who only occasionally dip into graphic novels or even those who occasionally get other Dredd graphic novels. The other Dredd graphic novels these days are in full colour and in the main are either a single long story or a themed collection of shorts, so with these other you get a coherent whole. The disappointing thing for 2000AD fans is that the colour centrefold of the original stories is in B&W like the rest of the strip. Having said that with copies of 1980s 2000AD going for £5 - £25 an issue you are unlikely to get hold of these early yarns cheaply any other way. In this sense Rebellion (who are behind 2000AD) are usefully meeting a market need.

Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge, Tor (UK), ISBN: 978-0-330-4-5194-4.
This one is up for a Hugo. In the near future a recovering Alzheimer's patient, rejuvenated, convalesces with his son's family. However though younger he has no memory of recent years and so has to learn back at school for former-oldsters how to live life in the 2020s. In this time the boundary between reality and cyberspace is blurred, but the technology can be subverted and our protagononist slowly becomes entangled in a conspiracy...

Star Begotten: A Biological Fantasia by H. G. Wells (edited by John Huntingdon), University Press of New England, (format not given), £15.95. ISBN 978-0-819-5-6729-1.
This 2007 edition was actually released in January (so should have been listed last time) but was, naturally, first published back in Wells' time in 1937. Cosmic rays from Mars may be affecting the human psyche. This Wells novel is not often re-printed as are say The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine and so this is an opportunity for serious SF readers.

High John the Conqueror by Jim Younger, Vintage, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-4-9274-6.
A dark comedy set in a dystopian future London.

In depth reviews of fiction books can be found off the reviews index.

 

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Summer 2007

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Caello, Thorsons & Element, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-25187-2.
From the author of The Alchemist.

Scar Night by Alan Campbell, Tor (UK), pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-330-4-4476-7.
Described in the promo as written in a Gormenghast style and it is the first of a trilogy. The hardback was published last year (and in North America by Bantam). Locus have short-listed this as one of the best debut novels of 2006.

Weatherwitch by Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Tor (UK), trd pbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-1-405-0-4715-9.
The third in the Crowthistle chronicles.

Hunters' Moon by David Devereux, Gollancz, trd pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0575-07985-4.
Supernatural thriller. A debut novel that has been described as in the style of Andy McNabb meets Buffy. Jack's mission by the government is to protect the Britain from supernatural threats. A one-man Torchwood combating Buffy-type foes.

The Serpent Bride by Sara Douglass, Voyager, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-007-2-3238-3.
His homeland made desolate by the Timekeeper Demons, Star Drifter Sun Soar is the most powerful enchanter on his planet. What next... This is the first in the Darkglass Mountain trilogy.

The Younger Gods by David and Leigh Eddings, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-1-5769-3.
The fourth and final volume in the Dreamers sequence. Popular. Unless there is another in the pipeline, this is probably Leigh's last book.

The Bonehunters by Steven Erikson, Bantam, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-553-8-1315-9.
This is the paperback edition of the sixth in the 'Malzan Book of the Fallen' sequence, of which some 10 are planned. The seven cities rebellion has been crushed but one last rebel force remains ion an ancient fortress. The prospect of laying siege is not to the army's liking. Yet all the while other forces stir as part of a greater conflict...

Reaper's Gale by Steven Erikson, Bantam Press, hdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-0-4632-6.
This is Erikson's latest, book 7, in the 'Malzan Book of the Fallen' sequence.

Night of Knives by Ian Esselmont, Bantam, hdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-593-0-5781-0.
A debut novel. It gave the Empire its name, but the tiny island and city of Malaz is now a sleepy, seedy back-water port. However this night things are a little different. This night its residents are bustling about, barring doors and shuttering windows. Because this night a once-in-a-generation Shadow Moon is due and threatens the good citizens of Malaz with demon hounds and other, darker, beings... And it was also prophesied that on this night the Emperor Kellanved, missing for all these years, will return... +++ Ian Cameron Esslemont is the co-creator of the world of Malaz that Steven Eriksson writes about. Night of Knives is set in the same world, but is very different in writing style and approach.

Into a Dark Realm by Raymond Feist, HarperCollins, £12.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-007-1-3378-9.
Another we mentioned last time, as coming out in April it falls on the border of our posting seasons. Pug and his friends travel into a 'dark realm' where live malevolent creatures. There they find a powerful enemy so great that their homeland could be threatened. This US author has a popular following and attracted a fair bit of attention when visiting BritCit in the autumn.

First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde, Hodder & Stoughton, hdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-593-0-5489-5.
Again you may miss out on this one as so far it is being marketed to a mainstream audience. Thursday Next leads the hunt for a serial killer in bookworld, Sherlock Holmes has died at the Rheinbach Falls and Miss Marple was fatally involved in a car accident... Comedy thriller.

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin, Bantam Press, hdbk, ISBN 978-0-593-05649-3.
Murder mystery in Medieval Cambridge as a woman doctor finds herself in a race to find a child killer. Though low on fantasy this historical tec story might also appeal to such a readership?

Phantom by Terry Goodkind, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-1-4565-2.
Tenth in the Sword of Truth series.

The Man With the Golden Torc by Simon R. Green, Gollancz, trdpbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7939-7.
The author of Deathstalker Legacy , this promises to be a delightful, light piss-take on James Bond. The only reason the ghouls and monsters have not taken over the world is because of one family standing in the way. here are the adventures of family member Bond, Shaman Bond. Licensed to kick supernatural arse.

The Harlequin by Laurell K. Hamilton, Orbit, hdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-841-4-9475-3.

Danse Macbre by Laurell K. Hamilton, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-841-4-9319-0.
An Anita Blake Vampire Hunter tale. Number 14 no less. Published by Berkley in the US last year. It has to be said that while this series has a significant following that reviews for Danse Macbre appear to be mixed. A number who have been with the series since the beginning say that it has become poorly-written-sex dominated and that the first half dozen were, from a fantasy read perspective, far better. We have been told that will be two other Laurell Hamilton's in November, a paperback Mistral's Kiss (Meredith Gentry book 5) from Bantam and A Lick of Frost, a hardback, from Bantam Press. More of these in our autumnal season's news page and its 'forthcoming books' in September.

Dead as a Doornail: A Sookie Stackhouse Mystery by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, hdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7887-1.
US modern fantasy about a waitress in a were community. Then someone starts killing them. So much for Sookie's quiet life.

The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert, Pan Macmillan, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-370-4-1168-4.
A ghost story.

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill, Orion, trdpbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7912-0.
The paperback of the Gollancz hardback detailed at length in last time's forthcoming fantasy books listing and as suspected it is doing well. Seems to be a little confusion over the ISBN as to whether its the paperback or the hardback, meanwhile our copy has already left Concat mission control and is with our reviewer. Anyway you should have enough information above to find a copy at your specialist bookshop (or from an on-line seller).

Renegade's Magic by Robin Hobb, Voyager, hdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-007-1-9618-0.
This is the final part of the soldier son trilogy. The first of these has done well and Hobb is a popular fantasy author.

Forest Mage by Robin Hobb, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-1-9617-3.
This is the second in the soldier son trilogy.

The Fate of the Fallen by Ian Irvine, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-841-4-9469-2.

The Mammoth Book of Monsters edited by Stephen Jones, Robinson, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-786-7197-6.
We have no information on this one, but Stephen Jones ability as an editor is well known.

This Foresaken Earth by Paul Kearney, Bantam Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-553-8-1375-3.
This is the second in the nautical fantasy series.

The Spirit Stone by Katherine Kerr, Voyager, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-007-1-2871-6.
This is the penultimate part of the 'Deverry Cycle'. Prince Dar must gather his allies together to counter the fanatical Horsekin.

Conan and the Songs of the Dead by Joe R. Lansdale & Timothy Truman, Dark Horse, trdpbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-593-0-7718-1.
Graphic novel about the barbarian warrior, by Crom.

No Flame But Mine by Tanith Lee, Tor (UK), trd pbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-1-405-0-0636-1.
Final part of the Lionwolf trilogy.

Twilight Herald by Tom Lloyd, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7729-4.
The sequel to The Stormcaller.

The Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7926-7.
In a land ruled by prophecy and the whims of gods, a young man finds himself at the heart of a war he barely understands, wielding powers he may never be able to truly control.

The Twilight Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko, William Heinemann, trd pbk, £11.99. ISBN 978-0-434-0-1444-6.
This is the final in the 'Watch' trilogy that is literally taken the Soviet nations by storm. Magic, werewolves and vampires exist, and they have to do so with the rest of humanity. The last thing needed is for their cover to be blown. Yet this could happen if those with powers use them for 'trivial' personal reasons. Furthermore cosmic balances could be upset. Such belong to the dark. Others, those of the Light, are more restrained. The Light and the Dark are therefore on opposite sides and it would be all out war between them were it not for an ancient treaty policed by two groups one from each side: The Night Watch and The Day Watch... Lukyanenko is as big a phenomenon in Russia and the Soviet nations (cf. recent news of his stories being broadcast) as Pratchett or Pullman are in the British Isles. However for some inexplicable reason Sergei has not (yet) had the profile over here (Western Europe). This may change with the forthcoming Hollywood film? Jonathan has reviewed the first, The Nightwatch and he is also covering the second (though as this listing is compiled it is touch and go whether it will be ready for this season's posting, so check Concat's what's new page).

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7925-0.
Locke travels the seaways in this follow-up to The Lies of Locke Lamora which our Sue liked and which was one of our best fantasy books of 2006 as well as one of Locus' best 'first novels' of 2006. Gollancz say that Lies was their best debut novel to date, so Sue was probably right.

Bitterwood by James Maxey, Solaris, trdpbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-1-6487-5.
In a world where dragons rule over humans, Bitterwood, the famed dragon hunter, is growing old. A disastrous encounter with a royal dragon leads the dragons to embark on the genocide of the human race. Can Bitterwood save the day?   This is Maxey's second novel.

Odalisque by Fiona McIntosh, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-841-4-9460-9.

Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead, Bantam, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-553-8-1892-5.
This is the paperback release of the first of the Georgina Kincaid sequence about a modern-day female succubus. Published by Kensington Books in North America.

Ciaphas Cain: Duty Calls by Sandy Mitchell, Black Library, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-844-1-6465-3.
Ciaphas is an unlikely hero who really is not cut out for derring-do, however try as he might (or not as the case may be) he always ends up in the thick of it.

Hav by Jan Morris, Faber, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-571-2-2984-0.
A travelogue describing events before and after a siege of a fictional city. This is the sequel to Last Letters from Hav (1985). The previous hardback edition of Hav has attracted some critical acclaim in SF's more 'literary' circles.

Quicksilver Twilight: Book 3 by Stan Nicholls, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-1-4154-8.
The final part of the Orcs trilogy.

Eragon: Inheritance Book 1 by Christopher Paolini, Corgi, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-552-1-5551-9.
When a poor farm boy, Eragon, finds a strange blue stone in the forest, he begins a journey into a world of magic. The stone is in fact a dragon's egg from which will hatch his beloved blue dragon. Then there is an evil emperor to overthrow. This is the paperback of the hardback, but this first came out in the US in 2003. Since then a million copies have been sold internationally. The Hollywood film of the novel last Christmas has also done rather well. This edition ties in with the publication of the sequel. See below.

Eldest: Inheritance Book 2 by Christopher Paolini, Corgi, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-552-1-5552-6.
The sequel to Eragon (see immediately above). This first came out in the US in 2005 and the hardback was first published in Europe in 2006 by Doubleday which, as is Corgi, part of the Random House group.

A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park, Tor (UK), pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-330-4-5217-5.
A passionate fantasy tale...

The Helmet of Horror by Victor Pelevin, Cannongate, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-841-9-5889-7.
A telling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. This is the fourth in the Cannongate myths series.

Making Money by Terry Pratchett, Doubleday, hdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-385-6-1101-5
OK, so this is not out until October (over our September horizon), but Pratchett is so popular that we thought you would want to know that this is on the horizon. However we understand that it follows on from Going Postal but now Discworld has to sort out its currency as it has no banknotes. Apparently reading Wintersmith first is also advised for Pratchett regulars. We will list Making Money in more detail in next season's news page's 'forthcoming books', which should be up sometime in September.

Set the Seas on Fire by Chris Roberson, Solaris, trdpbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-844-1-6488-2.
This is set in the same universe as Paragaea that our Sue liked. It is 1808 and HMS Fortitude follows a Spanish galleon. After a particularly heavy storm they find themselves in uncharted waters and spy an island. It harbours a dark secret... Solaris bill this as cross between Hornblower and H. P. Lovecraft. This may speak to oldies but readers of less advanced years who are familiar with Naomi Novik's Temeraire might view Set the Seas on Fire as coming from a cousin stable. We hope that one of our reviewers will review this in our autumnal posting. (Also by Roberson reviewed on this site Here, There & Everywhere.)

The Last Witch by Andrzej Sapkowski, Gollancz, hdbk / trdpbk, £17.99 / £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7783-6 / 978-0-575-0-7782-9.
This is a very rare treat. We only very occasionally get modern non-Anglophone fantasy and SF (in fact even less SF it seems). Indeed recently, other than Russia's Sergei Lukyanenko, nothing else from continental Europe has come our way, so this new offering is most welcome. Andrzej Sapkowski is very well known in Poland. In this novel, Geralt de Riv is a witcher, a man whose own magic powers make him a brilliant assassin. But he murders only monsters and demons. Along the way he meets rascal kings, vampire daughters, genies, harpies and ghouls, but not all these are evil. Oh no.

The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas, Cannongate, trdpbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-1-841-9-5957-3.
Ariel Manto is a PhD student who is researching a Victorian scientist when she discovers in a second hand bookshop a very rare copy of The End of Mr Y by the said scientist. She is delighted. One problem though, the book is cursed... Apparently, according to the advance word, this is intelligently written.

The Children of Hurin by J. R. R. Tolkien and Alan Lee (illustrator), HarperCollins, hdbk, £80.00 / US$150.00. ISBN 978-0-007-2-5223-7.
Well, as we previously mentioned in last season's SF & fantasy news the publication of this book is likely to be the fantasy event of the year. It is a new Tolkien book: though son Christopher surely deserves some of the credit for pulling together Tolkien's many notes and draft MS, but such an acknowledgement might knock the edge off the marketing? Either way though at 80 quid this may seem expensive in the long run it probably isn't. For a start collectors will cream over this. For second, a great investment to pass on to one's children as in 50 years time this first edition could easily well be worth ten fold this (that's around 5% compound per annum). Third, this apparently is a slip-cased edition. Fourth, the Alan Lee pics are bound to be brilliant.

Future Past and Other Premonitions by various, Living Time Media International, trd pbk, £11.95. ISBN 978-1-903-3-3124-8.
An anthology of stories about premonition including one by E. M. Forster.

Lover Revealed by J. R. Ward, Piaktus, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-749-9-3822-2.
This is part of a new (in Europe) Black Dagger Brotherhood series of vampire romances that have done quite well in North America. Apparently this is the fourth in the series but it will be the first one to be released over here. 'Why?', we hear you cry. Well apparently this one is the sexiest so if you like a light erotic fantasy this could be for you. However if you are of a more romantic persuasion and not turned on so much by the physics and biology, then do not be put off from trying the others in the series..

Dark Lover by J. R. Ward, Piaktus, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-0749-9-3818-5.
This is the first in the above series.

Lover Eternal by J. R. Ward, Piaktus, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-0749-9-3819-2.
This is second in the above series.

Stormed Fortress -- The Wars of Light and Shadow by Janny Wurts, HarperCollins, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-007-2-1780-9.
Two half-brothers are cursed with lifelong enmity when they defeated the Mistwraith. Now the citadel of Alestron comes under siege and ancient magic must be evoked to save the day, but the risks are great. This is volume 8 of the Wars of Light and Shadow sequence and the fifth part of the Alliance of Light. Of note Wurts co-authored the 'Empire' series with Raymond Feist. Co-incidentally, or not, she also is able to ride a horse and is apparently fairly nifty with a bow and arrow.

The Diamond Warriors by David Zindell, HarperCollins, trdpbk, £11.99. ISBN 978-0-002-24762-7.
This is the forth and final book in the 'Ea Cycle'. The Red Dragon marches on the Nine Kingdoms and the last battle will be fought and explanations given. The reason the Valari came to Ea from the stars will be revealed.

In depth reviews of fiction books can be found 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 Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2007

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

New Theories of Everything by John Barrow, Oxford University Press, hdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-192-8-0721-2.
String theory, GUT, is the standard model breaking down? Barrow guides us through the physics of the past decade or so.

The Genesis Machines: The New Science of Biocomputing by Martin Amos, Atlantic Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-846-2-4113-0.
Can we create a biological computer, or a calculating biological brain? We seem to be getting there albeit slowly.

Fly Me to the Moon: An Insider's Guide to the New Science of Space Travel by Ed Belbruno, Princetown University Press, hdbk, £12.95. ISBN 978-0-691-1-2822-1.
The X Prize and Branson's aims to provide short space flights for wealthy tourists may usher in a new age of space travel.

The Moon by Michael Carlowicz et al, Abrams Books, pbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-0-810-9-9307-5.
An exploration of the Moon as an astronomical body as well as its cultural significance through the ages.

Climate Change: Biological and Human Aspects by Jonathan Cowie, Cambridge University Press, trd pbk / hdbk, c. £ 27.99 / £65.00 (prices to be confirmed). ISBN 13-978-0-521-6-9619-7 / 978-0-521-8-7399-4.
OK, so this is written by one of the team. At 500 pages it is quite big. Although it is an introductory text for university students on biology, geology, geography and human ecology courses, anyone with a school-level knowledge of science can find out the key evidence behind whether or not global warming is happening and what has happened in the past (both in human history and over geological time). The future longevity of fossil fuels (irrespective of climate) is also discussed. (It should be noted that the author's 1998 book, Climate and Human Change: Disaster or Opportunity?, had the same thesis as the conclusion to last year's (2006) Stern Report commissioned by the UK Treasury.)   The author was for many years responsible for science policy at the Institute of Biology (UK). Spectacular cover photo by fan Pete Tyers. Camb' U. Press have distribution in N. America and Australasia as well as Europe -- see their website.

Cloning Fraud: How Dr Hwang Conned the World by David Cyranoski, Palgrave, hdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-5-1756-1.
As Concat has noted before, Dr Hwang has been a bit of a naught boy. He claimed that his work on cloning human stem cell lines was, shall we say, a little more developed than it actually turned out to be. He had been a national hero in Korea and attracted millions of dollars in funding. But when the truth came to light it was a court case and national disgrace...

The Cult of Pharmacology by Richard DeGrandpre, Duke University Press, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-822-3-3381-9.
It is quite clear that many countries have a serious drug problem while some nations seem to be coping far better. Why? Psychoactive drugs have not always been considered as an evil in society. Here the view is put that the modern 'cult of fear' is doing more harm than good, and that we need to radically change our perceptions if we are to take drugs out of the hands of criminal peddlers and transform addicts into economically useful and socially adjusted citizens. This book has had some good reviews in the biomedical and clinical press as it argues that solutions should not so much be based on cultural perceptions but a sound pharmacological and biomedical understanding of how we use drugs (including, for comparison, alcohol and caffeine) in our society.

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre, Bloomsbury, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-007-2-4019-7.
Well, we have been noting for some time Goldacre's exposés of dubious claims dressed up in the authoritative cloak of sound science (for example below). Non-efficacious herbal remedies, spurious nutritional claims, dazzling with meaningless statistics, it is all there. He has also won an award. Recommended.

An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore, Bloomsbury, trdpbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-747-5-9096-5.
Global heating and climate change is an uncomfortable truth says former US Vice-President Al Gore. Though it is Lovelock who uses the term 'global heating'. This is the book that goes with the film documentary. (Jonathan says... Note: Al Gore has recently been unfairly criticised for saying that ice age glacial-to-interglacial temperature changes correlate with carbon dioxide concentrations (this is true). Some critics have said that at such times temperature leads carbon dioxide concentrations (this is also true) and so carbon dioxide is not the cause (this is misleading). Glacial-interglacial changes are triggered by Milankovitch changes in which the Earth receives solar radiation to variations in Earth's orbital parameters. The initial small temperature change then facilitates the release of carbon dioxide from oceans and other biosphere carbon reservoirs and this then amplifies the Milankovitch-driven climate change). Just so you know. Gore's understanding, as a non-scientist, is fine.)

Dalek: I Loved You (A Memoir) by Nick Griffiths, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07940-3.
Not only is this a review of the writer's appreciation of the Dalek, it is also a social commentary on the late 20th century life as lived and as perceived by an average middleclass citizen. Surprisingly this a work, though seemingly trivial, is maturely written and will probably be appreciated by future social historians. Because Dr Who has, appropriately for a Time Lord, spanned the decades, it is an appropriate vehicle for such an appraisal. Of interest to the SF fan, it also successfully captures the sense of fun the genre evokes. Easy to read and very entertaining, this book is a delight. We hope to have a full review shortly.

Evolution by Derek Hough, Book Guild, hdbk, £16.95. ISBN 978-1-846-2-4113-0.
The advance publicity blurb says that this bridges the gulf between creationism and Darwinism. So this could be brilliant, on the other hand it could be...

How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change the Planet by Tony Juniper, Quercus, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-847-2-4049-1.
Green perspectives from the Director of Friends of the Earth.

The Revenge of Gaia: Why The Earth Is Fighting Back -- And How We Can Save Humanity by James Lovelock, Icon, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-141-0-2597-1
This is the paperback release of last year's hardback and trade paperback. Global heating (Lovelock's preferential term to the understated 'global warming') will not ruin the biosphere as far as the great scheme of things is concerned. On the other hand our human global modern society... Both our biologists on the team rate Lovelock. Highly recommended.

Twilight of the Mammoths by Paul S. Martin, University of California press, pbk, £10.95. ISBN 978-0-520-2-5243-1.
Tiny mammoths in northern Russia to mammal survivors on an island between Russia and Alaska. Meanwhile on the mainland did humans wipe out these creatures or was it climate change? Surprisingly, the debate is still ranging in the academic literature...

Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease by Sharon Moalem with Jonathan Prince, Harper Collins, hdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-007-2-2440-1.
There is a biological rationale, the authors say, why we need disease.

What Everyone Should Know About the Future of our Planet by Bill McGuire, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-841-8-8269-7.
What future threats do we face and how can we best address them.

Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning by George Monibot, Penguin, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-141-0-2662-6.
The paperback edition of last year's hardback. Can we save the world from global warming? George Monibot thinks so and tells us how.

Our Universe: An Introduction by Patrick Moore, Facts, Figures & Fun, hdbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-904-3-3241-1.
Facts, Figures & Fun is an imprint of the Artists' And Photographers press Ltd. Doyen of popular astronomy, Patrick Moore has packed a burst of useful astronomical information. Now you could spend much more on a voluminous tome as your main astronomical reference. Equally, this concise volume is easier to navigate and contains much that the average person with a casual interest in astronomy is likely to need. Here getting Patrick Moore to assemble such package was a brilliant move. Yes, a younger astronomical researcher at a World-leading observatory may have provided a more complete (larger and more expensive work), but Patrick has had a lifetime in popular astronomy and so knows what questions folk are likely to want answered. Do not under-estimate this work. There is a good sprinkling of black and white photos and line diagrams too. This is a little gem of a reference book, and an enjoyable quick read at 127 pages. Further, a hardback at under £7. Fantastic! A delightful and economical addition to one's reference shelves. Would make for a good Christmas stocking filler too.

The Science of Dr Who by Paul Parsons, Icon, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-840-4-7691-8.
Does what it says on the tin and the author has plugged last year's hardback edition extensively in the BBC related, high street magazine he edits so no further comment from us is required.

The Bionic Book: The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman Reconstructed by Herbie J. Pilato, BearManor Media, trdpbk, US$29.95 plus US$2.50 for postage. ISBN 1-593-93083-6.
Television's classic wonder people of the 1970s are back and stronger than ever. This title explores in-depth the social, psychological, medical and scientific influence, appeal and message of the various bionic shows. Though this is a US title, fans of the show this side of the Atlantic may be interested.

Dawkins Vs. Gould: Survival of the Fittest by Kim Stevelny, Icon, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-8404-6780-2.
For those who do not know it British Dawkins and North American Gould have different takes on Darwinian evolution and they disagree (at times with a heat that some might say is not warranted as it is with the detail in our understanding of Darwinian evolution and not the overall concept which appears robust from observations in the field). From the advance bumph it seems that this will look at both their views. Now it has to be said that the two biologists on the Concat team have heard both Dawkins and Gould speak and have a clear view as to which of them is the most coherent. Having said that, one of the conflicting duo has died. Consequently for a number of reasons this book is likely to be controversial at least among biologists, yet as it is written for the popular science market others may enjoy it too.

Homo Britannicus by Chris Stringer, Icon, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-141-0-1813-3.
The history of human evolution and the British Isles. Yes, humans have been in Blighty since the last glacial (ice age - but actually the recent 100,000 year cold spell within the current 2 million year ice age). As our current warm interglacial began (some (10,000 years ago) humans took up the space north of London as the ice retreated (and so NW7 first became residentially desirable). With the consequential rise in sea level many coastal settlements became flooded. All this and more is recounted. Fascinating if you are into our species' real history, and not just the paltry socio-political squabbles of the past thousand or so years.

Unicorns by Nigel Suckling, Facts, Figures & Fun, hdbk, £5.99. ISBN 978-1-904-3-3268-8.
Facts, Figures & Fun is an imprint of the Artists' And Photographers press Ltd. Doyen of popular astronomy. Unicorns is a small 96 page hardback but paperback priced. It is a to-the-point reference work on, surprisingly, unicorns: their appearance in mythology, history, art and their modern cultural manifestations. He has a sort of Forteanna and cryptozoological approach and the book has a good number of line drawings. He also is known for other books on vampires and werewolves. A cost-effective reference work.

Endless Universe by Neil Tvrok & Paul Steinhardt, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, hdbk, £16.95. ISBN 978-0-97-8-4554-6.
Recent years have shown that we really do not understand our universe and the debate continues. Even though the standard model serves us well there have been a few holes that reveal it not to be as robust as it should be. So what are the new theories?

Don't forget -- Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide by Jonathan Cowie & Tony Chester, Porcupine Books, £8.90, pbk, 272pp. ISBN 0-954-91490-2. Also now available from Amazon.   Jump to the new specific Amazon link earlier on (but it's cheaper from Porcupine). +++ Signed copies... Brian at Porcupine now has a score or so signed copies by the authors. E-mail Brian (follow the Porcupine Books link) first to check availability (no extra price). If you enjoy Concat then you can support us by getting this book either for yourself or a friend.

 

In depth reviews of 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 Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2007

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky & Kent Williams, Titan Books, trd pbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-845-7-6171-4.
The graphic novel of the film that won an award for its favourable portrayal (spin) of science.

Star Trek: Mirror Universe -- Glass Empire by Greg Cox & Kevin Dilmore, Pocket Books, trd pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-416-5-2459-5.
Three spin-off novels in one.

Buffy: The Deathless by Keith R. A. De Candido, Buffy, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-843-3-9037-0.

Dr Who: The Keys of Marinus by various cast members, BBC, £13.99. ISBN 978-1-405-6-7690-8.
Audio CD of an original and re-mastered William Hartnell Dr Who adventure. On the planet Marinus the Doctor and pals get involved with those searching for four lost keys to the Conscience of Marinus, but the dastardly evil Voord are after them too. This adventure was originally broadcast in 1964.

Star Trek: Fearful Symmetry by Leanna Morrow, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-416-5-2713-8.

Star Trek: Errand of Fury 2 -- Demands of Honour by Kevin Ryan, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-743-4-8054-3.

Star Trek: Vulcan's Soul 2 -- Exiles by J. Sherman & S. Schwatrz, Pocket Boooks, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-743-4-6360-7.
Ambassador Spock has to investigate what must have happened in Vulcan's past. This follows the events of Exodus and the trilogy will be concluded in Epiphany (see immediately below).

Star Trek: Vulcan's Soul 3 -- Epiphany by J. Sherman & S. Schwartz, Pocket Books, hdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-743-4-6362-1.

Star Wars: Darth Bane - Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn, Arrow, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-099-4-9196-5.
This is billed as the first ever adult Star Wars novel! It is a prequel set in the time of the old Republic.

 

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

Summer 2007

SELECTED RECENT DVD RELEASES

Casino Royale £22.99 from Sony. OK, so it's action thriller but Bond has SF riffs. This version has loads of extras.

Children of Men £17.99 from Universal. Tale of a near future world in which fecundity is a problem: nobody is getting born. Hang on, one person is pregnant. Starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore. Michael Caine's in it too you know. Loads of extras and a documentary exploring the themes. This film has just been nominated for a Hugo Award.

Idiocracy £15.99 from Fox. This employs the same eugenic (to use the term in its correct sense) albeit rather over-simplistic premise as Cyril M. Kornbluth's short story 'The Marching Morons' (1951). Namely that in the future the fecund underclass will have dominated the gene pool and, in the absence of pre-industrial natural selection pressures, the population's intelligence is lowered. It is into this world that our two protagonists (having been in suspended animation for 500 years) awaken. It becomes apparent that these formerly average folk are now among the most the intelligent on the planet! This US comedy comes from the same people who did 'Beavis and Butthead' and 'King of the Hill which have their own respective cult followings. So be warned you may well not like the humour (some might say infantile, others simplistic but sardonic and cynical). If however you are among those who do, then you may find that a surprising amount of thought has gone into this film.

The Man Who Fell to Earth: Special Edition £17.99 from Optimum, directed by Nic Roeg. A re-release of the 1976 cult-ish movie based on Walter Trevis' novel and starring David Bowie (in the film not the novel) as a wimp-ish alien trapped on Earth. He attempts to return to his (implausibly) drought-stricken home world by first becoming a billionaire (through using his alien knowledge of science to create market-dominating products) and then financing a space programme. However all this attracts the attention of the authorities. Will he get away? The film itself is a little overdrawn but back in the 1970s its lack of rockets and ray guns made it a fresh change from the usual fare then offered. Though slow-paced, it is a thoughtful production with a dash of grit. If you have not seen it and are into new wave SF books then this could well be for you.

Pan's Labyrinth £17.99 from Optium. A fantastic modern fantasy that's rather fairy tale-ish but in the dark edge sense. Highly acclaimed. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro who did Hell Boy. It is also on our 2006/7 film chart page.

The Prestige £17.99 from Warner. Rival Victorian magicians, Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, square up in this adaptation of Chris Priest novel. Michael Caine's also in it you know. This film has just been nominated for a Hugo Award. It is also on our 2006/7 film chart page.

The Pulse £15.99 from Paramount - rating 15. This is a science fantasy horror and a debut feature-film from Jim Sonzero. It is actually a remake of the Japanese The Ring. To be fair this has had mixed reviews as some horror fans say that it is not scary enough hence our noting the rating. (This could be a plus or a minus depending on your inclination.) The premise is that a computer hacker has opened a gateway to another dimension whose creatures want to take over the world, ridding it of humans.   There are extras including deleted scenes.

Stranger Than Fiction £17.99 from Sony. Harold (Will Ferrell) Crick is an IRS auditor who starts hearing the voice of an author (Emma Thompson) in his head. The voice seems to be predicting his life as it tells the plot of a book apparently being written. Apparently in the plot, things start getting dangerous for the protagonist, hence Crick too. Crick therefore goes to a psychologist (Dustin Hoffman)... It has, perhaps unkindly, been compared to Being John Malkovich or Adaptation, but actually stands reasonably well on its own two feet. The DVD comes with extras.

The Thing From Another World a two-disc version with a John Carpenter extra. Loosely based on the classic John W. Campbell jr. short story.

See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in 2007, 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 Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2007

R.I.P.

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

John Backus, the US computer scientist, has died aged 82. Despite a poor academic record at school and at early university, he found his forte in mathematics in his later undergraduate days and went on to do a Masters. As for his scientific life, he became a pioneer in the early development of computer languages. He initially devised Speedcoding for IBM to get around having to code in binary, which was time consuming and error prone. He then went on to develop Formula Translator in the autumn of 1953 and this was soon called 'Fortran'. Fortran was launched in April 1957. It is still at the heart of many computer programmes today: for example the UK Met Office's climate change programme is a one million line Fortran programme. In the late 1950s he became a member of the Algol committee that designed the scientific language Algol 60. He was eventually awarded the US National Medal for Science in 1975 and then in 1977 computer science's highest honour, the Turing Award. His entire working career was with IBM.

Ivar Berggren, the Swedish fan, has died aged 69. He edited the fanzine Sviraren.

Jamie Bishop was shot as part of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (US) massacre after Easter. As well as a teacher of German he was an SF artist and some of his art even adorned the cover of his father's, Michael Bishop's, SF novels. He died aged just 35. Our sincere condolences go to his wife and parents. Words are simply insufficient to convey the senselessness of this event.

Yuri Mikaylovich Braider the well-known Soviet bloc author has died. Born in 1948 in Belarus, he became famous in Soviet writing circles for the books he wrote jointly with Nikolai Chadovich. Their first joint novel was 'Disturber' (1983) but they are perhaps best known for 'The Way' sequence of books of which one of the most notable is 'The Blades of Maxars'. Their joint novels belong to what is known in Sov-bloc circles as the 6th wave of Russian/Soviet SF.

Yvonne De Carlo, the US actress who played Lily Munster in The Munsters and who starred in The Power, has died aged 84.

Frank A. Cotton, the US chemist and discoverer of the quadruple bond, has died aged 76. The quadruple bond was found in the [Re2Cl8]2- ion. He also invented the hapto nomenclature used to indicate the number of carbon atoms that bond to a given metal atom. For a while he was a governmental advisor on the National Science Board. Frank Cotton also wrote both elementary and advanced textbooks of which all told sold over a million copies.

Patrice Duvic, the French editor, and author who also worked in films and comics, has died aged 61. He contributed much to both Franco and Anglophone-Franco SF but is arguably not that well known in the English-speaking SF community and so worth a few extra words (for which thank you Alain and Serena).   Though having a longstanding interest in SF, on the amateur side he was only introduced to international fandom as a result of the Heicon Worldcon (1970), which was Europe's second (and continental Europe's first) Worldcon. He was probably best known worldwide (and in North America especially) for a series of interviews with American SF writers first published in the French magazine Galaxie during the early '70s. In the course of these he made acquaintances with the likes of Philip K. Dick, Alfred Bester and Isaac Asimov. Some of these interviews - notably with Theodore Sturgeon and Harlan Ellison - appeared also on the Italian magazine Robot. He was also a writer in his own right and his books include Poisson-Pilote (Pilotfish), Naissez, nous ferons le reste (Get Born, We'll Take Care of the Rest), and Autant en emporte le divan (Gone With the Couch). As to film, he wrote the screenplay for the film Terminus (1987) and also its novelisation. He also co-wrote and directed the film Vampirism (1967). With regards to comics, he wrote scripts for the monthly Pilote.   But he is best known in his native France as an editor. With Presses Pocket he conceived the 'Best of"' series Livre d'Or (Books of Gold), a series where he published anthologies of the likes of Norman Spinrad, A. E. Van Vogt, Tom Disch, and John Wyndham... He published in France, in the series 'Fictions' for La Découverte, the great genre novels of our time such as Gibson's Neuromancer and Bear's Blood Music. His name is also well known in France's horror field due to the 'Terreur' series he created for Presses Pocket. Just before his final days he conceived a new fantasy series for Livre de Poche. Outside of SF, a passion a few knew of was photography: he presented some of his pictures at a soirée organised in Lyon by the writer Sylvie Lainé on 15th December. It was the last public event he attended.

Leigh Eddings, US fantasy author and wife of author husband David, has died aged 69. She is perhaps most famously known for the series of fantasy novels written jointly with her husband. Most recently was the 'Dreamers' sequence published by Voyager.

Peter Ellenshaw, Brit turned US resident and matte artist who worked for Disney. His work appeared in films such as 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and the Black Hole has died aged 81. During World War II he was an RAF pilot.

Charles L. Fontenay, the Brazilian born US science fiction author has died aged 89. He is also noted for his Epistle to the Babylonians (1969) that was a non-fiction work on the philosophy of science.

Freddie Francis the British filmmaker has died aged 89. An Oscar winner for his cinematography work (on Sons and Lovers), like most cinematographer he wanted to direct. However he was first brought in to help save, hence co-directed (with the uncredited Steve Sekely), the plot-mashed, The Day of the Triffids (1963). He then went on to work on a number of genre offerings including a few Hammer films. Reportedly by some mainstream commentators, he was not happy to be associated with these last but it was his talent that largely elevated these budget horror films and which secured him other work. So he returned to cinematography and in this capacity worked on such films as The Elephant Man, Cape fear and Glory (for which he won another cinematography Oscar. However he seemed perfectly content to be connected with his horror film contributions when he was one of the guests at the Festival of Fantastic Films in 1999 and he also attended a number of other Fests as a non-guest.

Tudor Gates the UK screenwriter of Barbarella, Twins of Evil, Vampire Lovers and Lust for a Vampire, has died aged 76.

Lee Hoffman the US author and popular fan has died aged 74. She began producing fanzines in the 1950s including Quandry (1950-3) and four novels from 1967 to 1972. She was extremely well known in US fan circles from the 1950s and was Fan Guest at the 1982 Worldcon.

Gareth Hunt, the actor whose work included 'Avenger' Mike Gambit, has died aged 65. Long term illness had impeded a more active career.

Benedict Keily, the Irish born writer, has died aged 87. He lived much of his adult life in the US.

Roland Jacob Levinsky, who pioneered the first successful bone marrow transplants in immuno-depressed children, has tragically died aged 63. He was walking his dog with his wife on New Year's day with wind blowing when a cable from a pylon came detached hitting him on the head. He died instantly.

David I. Masson the British author of a few rather good SF short stories, has died aged 91.

Alan G. MacDiarmid, the New Zealand chemist and co-winner of the 2000 Nobel for chemistry, has died aged 79. He was a pioneer of conducting polymers. (Polymers, such as plastics, are usually considered excellent insulators.)

William Ian McDonald, the British neurologist who refined the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, has died aged 49.

Barry Nelson the US actor has died aged 89. He is memorable for being the first person to visually (cinema/TV) play James (Jimmy) Bond which he did in a one-hour TV version of Casino Royale. On the genre front he also starred in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Alexander Nikolaenko the popular fan in Soviet nation fandom with the nickname 'the Great Slow King', has died aged just 49. He founded Tiraspol SF group 'Altair' in Moldova and has been active in Soviet fandom since the 1980s.

Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, the comparative physiologist, has died aged 91. Born in Norway but living much of his life in the US, his books' titles speak as to his speciality: Desert Animals (1965), How Animals Work (1972) and The Camel's Nose (1998), among others. He won a number of honours including being presented with the International Prize for Biology by the Emperor of Japan.

Hideo Ogata, the Japanese producer who established Japan's first anime magazine (Animage), has died aged 73.

Carlo Ponti, the Italian-born producer of over 150 films, has died on aged 94. His films include Flesh for Frankenstein, Gawain and the Green Knight and Whisky and Ghostsand Ulysses.

Adries Postma, the Dutch GP clinician who was involved in the first case to change Dutch law on euthanasia, has died aged 80.

Sir Gareth Roberts the UK (Welsh) scientist has died aged 66. He is particularly known for advising Governmental departments and in 2002 reported on UK science careers and then later on the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). He also served a term as President of the Science Council, the umbrella body of UK professional science bodies (with the Institute of Biology, Royal Society of Chemistry and Institute of Physics). His scientific specialization was in semiconductors and molecular electronics.

Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, considered the father of comparative physiology, has died aged 91. Born in Norway but living much of his life in the US, his books' titles speak as to his speciality: Desert Animals (1965), How Animals Work (1972) and The Camel's Nose (1998), among others. He won a number of honours including being presented with the International Prize for Biology by the Emperor of Japan.

Herman Stein, the US composer, has died aged 91. He worked for Universal and composed music for The Creature From the Black Lagoon, It Came From Outer of Space and The Incredible Shrinking Man. He also contributed to some TV sci-fi series.

Fred Mustard Stewart, the US author who work included a couple of SF books, died aged 74.

Kurt Vonnegut jr., the US author, has died aged 84 following a head injury from a fall a few weeks before Easter. Hugely respected both in the Anglophone and many non-English speaking countries, he was the author of well over a dozen novels, a couple of collections and a few more non-fiction books. He was also well known beyond the SF community and one of few science fiction authors whose death made the national news on both TV and radio in North America as well as newspapers in Britain and elsewhere (See for example: the BBC, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Times (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1644836.ece) and The New York Times). His SF (a term to use carefully as he was fiercely critical of the quality of much SF) was intelligently written, wry, laced with both comical and dry humour and often with autobiographical roots. Here his World War II experiences, especially in Dresden, echoed in much of his work and especially his Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) that was adapted into the film Slaughterhouse 5 (1972) (scroll down a little after this link). Recently Gollancz declared The Sirens of Titan (1959) as one of the 10 greatest SF novels of all time. More recently he wrote Timequake (1997). He last visited the UK a year ago to promote his actual autobiography A Man Without A Country: A Memoir of Life in George Bush's America. As you may suspect from this title, it was highly critical of Bush and in it he opined that few in the US were aware that many in the world loathed that country (due to Bush) as much as was Nazi Germany: damning criticism from someone who lived through some of the worst of WWII's horror. It might perhaps be fitting, on behalf of this humanist, to end on a typical Vonnegut joke he specifically asked would be said of him. May he rest in heaven.

Lenny Wenshe the Chicago, US, fan associated the Windycon series of conventions for several years, has died aged 51.

Robert Anton Wilson has died aged 74. The US author was best known for the 'Illuminatus' novels that began with The Eye in the Pyramid (1975) written with Robert Shea. The last few months saw the author very ill and without money. However an online appeal raised sufficient funds for him to be comfortable in his final days. The British actor (and fan) Ken Campbell enthused about Wilson (with whom he had a passing acquaintance) on BBC Radio 4's A Good Read March 20th. When asked whether Wilson believed that there was a global conspiracy he said not, that that was not the point. The point is that it is our beliefs that constrain us and that not believing, and not blindly accepting off pat everything with which we are presented, frees us. Campbell has done a play based on the 'Illuminatus' novels.

Dorothy Wood, J. R. Tolkien's original fiction publisher at Allen Unwin, has died aged 69. After Allen Unwin she went to the US to work for a short while at Viking and Random House before returning to Great Britain where she published Roald Dahl among others at Puffin and then Scholastic. She finally left employment for a few years of freelance.

 

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

Summer 2007

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

So what is the future of science? The UK government wishes to ask all British citizens their views as to the acceptability or not of likely science developments and their ethical views on the same. The idea is not to try to predict technological futures -- they have done that -- but to examine their acceptability. The international and personal consequences of carbon trading and genetic vaccines are just two examples. It would seem that the Government does not want a repeat of the GM foods debacle and would prefer that things went as well as they have for stem cell research. The Science Horizons (www.sciencehorizons.org.uk) programme is scheduled to run till June 2007.

Dr Who comes to Manchester's (UK) Museum of Science. A special Dr Who exhibition will run from 31st March to 5th November 2007. +++ Three episodes of Dr Who have just been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form.

ITV's Primeval programme's special effects person says the show "is based on science" whereas "Dr Who is a fantasy show". Christian Manz comments were reported in the Metro newspaper in February (Metro is distributed to rail commuters in Britain's major cities). Primeval is an ITV (Independent Television) show in which a fault in the space-time continuum allows portals to sporadically appear allowing creatures from the past into the present to terrorise London and the Home Counties. Dr Who is (if you did not know it) a BBC show (ITV being Auntie's (BBC's) longest standing rival) about travel in space and time. So the two shows are in effect competing with each other, though so far they have not been shown at the same time. Christian Manz's comments are peculiar. While SF can inspire an interest in science fact, at the end of the day 'SF' is science fiction: the clue it is fiction is somewhere in the term. All of which, if the reporting is true, begs the question as to how firm a grip on reality do you have to have to work on such a show or are we talking about an individual's quirk?

A number of SF authors have incorporated into their stories the idea of foldable, cloth-like or plastic, laptop computers. Now a flexible plastic screen has been developed for real. The Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge has made the development and a spin-out company, Plastic Logic, has raised £50 million (US$96 million) to build a factory to manufacture them. The prototypes look sufficiently good to be intriguing. +++ Separately, flexibly transistor arrays have been devised by growing carbon nanotubes on quartz. They show good performance and could be used in flexible displays. So now we have the flexible screens and the basics for flexible computing (Nature Nanotechnology doi:10.1038/nnano.2007.77).

Maxwell's Demon is created for real! James Clerk Maxwell came up with the idea in 1867. A demon at a gateway between two containers might allow only fast moving gas molecules go one way and slow moving molecules the other. The number of molecules on each side of the partition would be unchanged but the temperature would gradually differ: the container with the fast moving molecules would be warmer. This does not defy the laws of thermodynamics as the demon expends energy. Maxwell's Demon has even appeared in a number of SF stories (such as Jack McDevitt's The Hercules Text (1986) in which instruction as to how to create a demon was one of the items encoded in an alien transmission detected by astronomers). Now a team from Edinburgh University have built a demon they call 'a molecular information ratchet' (though they credit Maxwell and his demon). It gets around the law of thermodynamics by working when light shines on it (Nature v445, p523). (McDevitt's got his around thermodynamic legalities by plugging it into the electric mains.)

Evolution is back on the curriculum in Kansas. The Kansas State Education Board has removed standards that put 'intelligent design' on a par with (Darwinian) evolution. In 1999 the President of the Kansas Citizens for Science successfully stopped a move to drop the teaching of evolution in the State. However in November 2004 conservatives regained control of the Board (see our summer 2005 news). Creationists promoting 'intelligent design' have dogged the teaching of biology in a number of US states as we have previously reported (for example see our summer 2005 news).

Pope Benedict XVI reported (The Guardian) as saying, "The theory of evolution is not completely provable because mutations over hundreds of thousands of years cannot be reproduced in a laboratory." Clearly to virtually all biologists this is such an outrageously gob-smacking statement that it needed a little checking. (For non-biologist site visitors: The implication of the statment is that we cannot observe evolution at work over many generations. Actually we can. The trick is to use species that reproduce quickly. Favoured metazoans (multi-celled animals) include the Drosophila fruit fly. Also bacteria evolve all the time reproducing even faster: hence the real problem of antibiotic resistance.) So a quick Google was undertaken.
          It transpires that the quote arose due to the Pope having his new book published in Germany. Called Schoepfung und Evolution (Creation and Evolution) it apparently is actually a more reasoned account than The Guardian quote suggests. In the book the Pope distances himself from 'Intelligent Design' and aparently goes for 'theistic evolution' whereby God created the Universe and scientific laws that gave rise to evolution. Nonetheless it would appear that, though nearly there, from the quote he still has a little way to go before taking the accepted science onboard.

UK Ministry of defence has been funding psychic research. The Ministry spent roughly £18,000 (US$35,000) in 2002 to investigate the potential use of psychic powers to detect hidden objects. 12 self-proclaimed psychics declined to take part in the experiments and so 'novice' volunteers were used. The results apparently did not warrant the Ministry making further investment.

Princeton (US) PEAR lab into psychic research closes after 28 years. The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) lab was founded by Robert Jahn (a former researcher on electric propulsion) to investigate whether the human mind could influence machines. A major initial investment came from aerospace expert James McDonnell who thought that aircraft machinery might be affected by the mental state of pilots. After millions of trials of random event machinery (be it a screen flashing random numbers or ball-bearings falling) the best that can be claimed is that humans can shift two or three events out of 10,000 random ones. However critics say that this is roughly the experimental error that might be expected. Jahn made the decision to close the lab. Questions remain as to how open science should be to exploring highly unorthodox hypothesis. (See also previous item.) Others, such as psychologists exploring respectable questions (such as why do so many people believe in psychic phenomena), are finding difficult to obtain funding for legitimate questions into areas of Forteanna, such is taint of what has come to be called parapsychology.

Genius pianist's talent a fiction, as outed by technology. Joyce Hatto died in June but her last year saw her lauded as a great unknown talent following the release of a number of recordings. However when a Gramophone magazine critic used an iTunes program to compare recordings, one of Hato's of Liszt came back as already listed and by the pianist Laszlo Simon. A second of Hato's of a Rachmaninov recital was considered by the iTunes program as by the pianist Yefim Bronfman recorded by Sony. A more detailed analysis (from two researchers working independently) confirms that the Hato recordings are copies. It would appear that a deception has been played upon the public and that science has revealed a fiction. Joyce Hato's husband has now reportedly admitted that some of the recordings were in fact based on the work of others. It is possible that Joyce Hato herself may have been unaware that any deception was being perpetrated (as at the time she was ill and this ultimately became terminal).

Roswell UFO 60! Forget Lunacon being 50, Asimov's SF magazine being 30 or Concatenation being 20, it is the 60th anniversary of the supposed UFO Roswell incident...

French space agency website collapses due to open UFO file hits. France has become the first nation to open up its files on UFOs. Such was the interest in the Office for the Study of Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena part of the French space agency that its website went down. The French team have records of some 1,600 cases. In the UK you have to ask specific questions under the Freedom of Information Act to find out what the Government has been doing with regards to UFO reports. +++ However the UK Freedom of Information Act is most likely about to be effectively nullified due to a government amendment, so ask your questions while you can be it on UFOs or anything else. It was good while it briefly lasted.

Japan TV show confesses to faking science. Broadcast by Kansai Telecasting Corporation (KTV) the show deliberately mis-translated, rather dubbed a complete different dialogue when foreign researchers were being interviewed making them appear to make sensational claims. They also showed photos of people they claimed were slimmed by a certain diet but now admit that these were not the experimental subjects. KTV has broken Japan's communication's law that is against 'the perversion of the truth'. There are calls for the law to be toughened. Ironically this may not be advantageous as it would enable the Government to dictate what was right and wrong. +++ In Britain last year Sky TV's Brainiac programme faked experiments to jazz up explosions.

No further news regarding the Libyan six. December saw their appeal fail and the death sentence affirmed (see here). See here for the back story. We are keeping an eye on this particular ball.

Bubble fusion engineer cleared by inquiry not open say critics. Rusi Taleyarkhan has been cleared of internal allegations of misconduct by Purdye University, Indiana, US. However exactly what these allegations were, and importantly whether they included the quality of the research that suggest that nuclear fusion is possible in collapsing bubbles, have not been released. The Proceedings began in March last year and ended early in February. There have also been difficulties in independently duplicating this research.

The Great Global Warming Swindle, Martin Dirkin gets another controversial documentary aired. Dirkin's film (21.00 Channel 4 (UK) 8.3.07) claims that human-induced (anthropogenic) global warming is over-rated and that many scientists are fooling the public and politicians into unnecessary concern. With regards to his 'science' arguments:   i) his documentary claims that because temperature rises before carbon dioxide as we came out of the last glacial that carbon dioxide was not responsible for the magnitude of the temperature change. (Actually true, but glacial-interglacial cycles are Milankovitch driven and then this is amplified by carbon feedbacks.)   ii) That natural carbon dioxides fluxes (such as from oceans and vegetation) are far greater than the flux from humans burning fossil fuels. (Actually true, but the natural fluxes are by and large in balance and human fossil fuel use is tipping this balance.)   iii) That variations in solar activity over the past five centuries caused the little ice age. (Actually true, but only since the 20th century has there been enough fossil fuel consumption and deforestation to superimpose a far greater carbon dioxide warming effect on this smaller natural variation).   iv) That cosmic rays have a far bigger impact on the climate than greenhouse gases. (This is idea is interesting but if there is an effect it is likely to be small as there is simply too much evidence from a wide variety of sources as to the magnitude of the effect of greenhouse gases.)
          What viewers were not told by Channel 4 (the broadcasting channel) was that (to quote The Guardian (The Guide p87) 3.3.07) 'Dirkin has been here before -- his previous film attacking the environmental movement got into trouble with the ITC for bias and distortion'. Then Channel 4 had to broadcast a prime time apology. Could it be that they are thinking of regularly scheduling such a slot?

Concern over smoking research does not warrant review says university. The University of California has reviewed concerns that a 2003 British Medical Journal paper (v236, p1057) that concluded that the spouses of smokers were no more likely to contract cancer than the spouses of non-smokers. The University has had a preliminary look at the case but feel that the allegations were not sufficiently grounded to instigate a formal investigation. Yes, smoking has serious health risks, but are these really as great as some clinicians say?

The Russian Academy of Science's members have voted nearly unanimously against government control. The government proposed to take over the academy (which is a sort of combination of Britain's Royal Society and the Research Councils). The academy has been independent for nearly 300 years and, in common with most scientists worldwide, feels that identifying fundamental and basic research priorities (as opposed to industrial applied, and government policy driven, research priorities) should be made by eminent scientists. +++ It is likely that the Government will make a further move for control.

The American Chemical Society (ASC) has excluded 36 Iranian former members. The ASC has taken the measure fearing current US federal law and its application to the 'war of terror'. The ASC is the professional body cum learned society for US chemists (the Royal Society of Chemistry is the UK equivalent). It reportedly plans to apply for a licence from the Department of Commerce to exempt it from the embargo on Iran. if it gets one it will reinstate these members.

Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in The Guardian has this last season covered::
  - the Gambia's President touting fantasy cures for AIDS;
  - Channel 4 TV food documentary presenter's 'Dr' Gillian McKeith's 'PhD' reportedly came from Clayton College of Natural Health (US) and her 'thesis' is apparently great spoof science;
  - Patrick Holford claiming that vitamin C is better than AZT in helping those with HIV;   - poor GM science reporting of a Russian study purports to show a link between GM potatoes and cancer but it turns out that the Russian text does not contain terms relating to cancer or tumours and the first line of the commentary says that the test "were not carried out according to accepted protocols" but this did not stop The Independent a national (quality) newspaper covering the story in a sensational way;
  - a new drug called VegEPA apparently sells well due to research (reportedly Imperial College shamefully) that suggested that after three months children's reading age increased by over a year. However apparently there was no control group, no placebo (so no double blind) and only four children involved whose diet and lifestyle changed during the experiment and apparently all the children were very overweight...
  - the Netherlands trial of the nurse Lucia de Berk because of the large number who have died on her ward so scientifically this cannot be coincidence, can it?; and
  - the science journal open access vs subscription debate but in an incomplete way (this last not Goldacre's finest hour).

Ben Goldacre has recently won an award. He also has a book out this season.

Finally SF book buyers. Are book buyers nicer than other people? Yes, according to Richard Wiseman, who is the closest thing the UK has to being a bona fide academic Fortean phenomena researcher -- though this question is decidedly mainstream for him. Richard Wiseman is based at Hertfordshire University (formerly Hatfield Polytechnic with which a couple on the Concat team have certain roots). He used the devilishly cunning 'pen drop' test to ascertain altruistic behaviour. What he did was to seemingly 'accidentally' drop a pen next to unsuspecting customers and see whether they would pick it up for him. The results. 47% overall of book buyers were helpful compared to the average high street shopper at 40%. Customers of the Blackwells book chain were most frequent pen returners at 65%. Well, as British science & SF concateneers know, Blackwells is England's greatest academic book chain that also often has a very good SF section (nearly always superior to W. H. Smiths (admittedly not difficult)). We are the good guys. (And modest with it.)

 

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

Summer 2007

End Bits

More science and SF news will be reviewed in our Autumnal 2007 upload in September plus there will also be 'forthcoming' book releases for the Autumn.   Meanwhile ensure you've added the Science Fact and Fiction Concatenation to your site favourites list. Also you can be alerted via e-mail when our next major update takes place. See below...

Ensure You Get the Season's News From Concat': We only update the Concatenation with news and reviews seasonally, with a three or four month gap. (There is occasionally just one update (such as a one-page Future's story) in between.) This means that regular visitors continually have to remember to check this site out after a few of months of inactivity.
To see how you can register click here

Don't forget, if you are going to the Worldcon, Japan, then we would love to hear from you.

Thanks for information, pointers and news goes to: Brian Ameringen, Dan Austin, Alain le Bussy, Angel Carralero, Steve Green, Roberto Quaglia, Boris Sidyuk (who is also our internet space provider), Mandy Slater, Serena Verri, Ian Watson and the many representatives of groups and professional companies who sent news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page. Our thanks also to Bill Burns, of e-fanzines.com for proactively distributing this 20th anniversary newscast.

News for the next upload that covers the autumn period needs to be in before before the end of August. News (of the summer period July-Sept or forthcoming autumnal news Sept - Dec) especially sought concerns that relating to national SF conventions: size, number of those attending, prizes and any special happenings.
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