Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Summer 2008

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

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Summer 2008


As of Easter 2008 the Science Fact & Fiction Concatenation was 21 years old...

Cover of issue no.1 in 1987.

Yes, we are twenty one!   And it does not seem that long ago we were just 20. (A year possibly?) For our potted history see last summer's editorial matters. Now, it was mooted that we hold a party but the team is these days so dispersed that finding a time and a place where many of us can get together has proven difficult. We still haven't quite given up though suspect that we may have to hold some splinter gatherings. Having said that, it is only four years to our quarter century... Tempus fugit. Meanwhile enjoy this issue.

Concat' Site Update Alert Service: You can receive e-mail alerts (only every other month) letting you know when this site has an 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. SF to your computer at near the speed of light. :-)

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


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

Summer 2008


Both Britain's top SF author and fan die aged 90! See A. C. Clarke and Ken Slater below.

Terry Pratchett does a very decent thing in his fight and vows to eat a dead mole's arse -- click here for details

The nominations for the 2008 Hugo Awards for SF achievement are out. - click here for details

SF awards last season included: Australia's Aurealis Awards and Ditmar Awards, Britain's BSFA, Italy's Italcon Awards, New Zealand's Sir Julius Vogels, Russia's Silver Arrow and Mir F. Awards,.

First Hideyo Noguchi Africa prize-winners announced. -- details here.

New publications. -- 2000AD now on-line (details here) and New Romanian SF magazine (details here).

China bans SF horror. In the run up to this summer's Olympics - click here for details

What has happened to our 2008 New Year recommendations of the top British SF books of 2007? In three short months all but one have now been short-listed for major SF awards here and/or in North America. -- Details here.

News of SF and science personalities, among many, includes that of: Brian Aldiss, Iain Banks, J. G. Ballard, Richard Dawkins, Greg Egan and even Tarzan's Cheeta -- Yes, the species barrier means sod all to us.

Eastercon SF conventions abound in: Australia, Britain, Italy, New Zealand and the Ukraine.

Stardrive drink launched in the Ukraine. -- details here.


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


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

Summer 2008



The short-listed nominations for the 2008 Hugo Awards for SF achievement in 2007 are out. The principal category nominations are:-
                    Brasyl by Ian McDonald
                    Halting State by Charles Stross
                    The Last Colony by John Scalzi
                    Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer
                    The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon.
          Related Book (non-fiction SF)
                    The Arrival by Shaun Tan
                    Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction by Jeff Prucher
                    Breakfast in the Ruins: Science Fiction in the Last Millennium by Barry N. Malzberg
                    The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Glyer
                    Emshwiller: Infinity x Two by Luis Ortiz
          Dramatic Presentation (long form)
                    Enchanted directed by Kevin Lima
                    The Golden Compass directed by Chris Weitz.
                    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix directed by David Yates
                    Heroes, Season 1 Created by Tim Kring
                    Stardust directed by Matthew Vaughn
          Dramatic Presentation (short form)
                    Battlestar Galactica: Razor directed by Félix Enríquez Alcalá and Wayne Rose (note that this is the televised
                    version and not the film which presumably would be long form?)
                    Doctor Who: 'Blink' directed by Hettie Macdonald
                    Doctor Who: 'Human Nature'; 'The Family of Blood' directed by Charles Palmer
                    Star Trek New Voyages: 'World Enough and Time' directed by Marc Scott Zicree
                    Torchwood: 'Captain Jack Harkness' directed by Ashley Way
The results of the vote for the winners in each category will be announced at the end of the summer at this year's SF Worldcon.

Comment on the Hugo nominations. Not that many surprises this year. As far as we know only two of the SF novels was published in the British Isles in 2007 and that was Brasyl -- which we had already identified as being one of the top UK SF books back in the New Year -- and The Yiddish Policeman's Union. Scalzi and Stross are strong SF writers some of whose previous work we have previously reviewed. Sawyer is a good ideas man but his Hugo win in 2003 was, truth be told, a bit of a surprise and indirectly alluded to by a comment in one of that year's Worldcon newsletter following the Hugo ceremony. (Some (gossip) have suggested that that win was due to him having been Hugo nominated so many times previously so that there was an 'it's-his-time' vote, though this hardly seems worthy of neither Hugo voters, their intended beneficiaries nor Gernback's name. This still does not detract him from being an ideas man.) None of the Concat team have seen his Rollback and it could well have ample good ideas to make it of SF note, but will Sawyer's prose be up to those of his rivals? Alas Rollback has not been published this side of the Atlantic (which is the reason our reviewers haven't seen it). Meanwhile a cursory scan of all the Hugo categories as well as the separate (but presented at the same time) John W. Campbell Award nominees suggests that SF publishers Gollancz and fantasy publishers Voyager in the UK, and Pyr and Tor in the US, should be happy.
          Regarding the related (non-fiction) nominations, only two were published in the British Isles last year and we already identified Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction as being one of our top UK non-fiction SF books back in the New Year (actually it was our only non-fiction recommendation).
          As for the dramatic presentation (long form), Hollywood as ever dominates the Hugo nominations and as such it more ties in with our UK weekly box-office chart assessment of top science fiction films of the year than our core team's views. Here three of the five Hugo nominations are on our 2007/8 top science fiction films chart though of course both our chart and the Hugo nominations include works of fantasy as well as SF. That Hereos season one was nominated was also not a huge surprise (see the end of our last year's comment on television Hugo nominations ).
          The dramatic presentation (short form) was even more devoid of surprise (again see our last year's comment on television Hugo nominations ). Once more there were Dr Who and Battlestar nominations with the Dr Who spin-off Torchwood now also in the mix. The Star Trek New Voyages: 'World Enough and Time' nomination was somewhat predictable as (as we reported on the sci-fi/media hit of last year's Worldcon) a screening of that episode wowed last year's Worldcon goers and of course they vote for the Hugo.
          Summary of this year's nominations: nothing unduly out of the usual. In fact the only tangible benefit to SF buffs in Europe is that it provides a few recommendations for novels that we (or your local SF bookshop) might order from North America, though with luck Stross' novel may be published in Britain this year.

Brian Greenwood and Miriam K. Were win the first Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize for service to global public health. Brian Greenwood is a distinguished malaria researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Miriam Were is an AIDS specialist working in local communities on East Africa. Both receive their medals in May. There is also an honorarium worth 100 million Yen (£421,500, US$843,000). The prize has been established by the Japanese government and is named after Noguchi Hideyo (1876) the researcher who discovered that Treponema pallidum (syphilitic spirochete) was the cause of syphilis. The award is to be given every five years.

The 2008 Australian Aurealis Awards have been given for 2007 works. The winners of the principal categories were:-
          Best SF Novel - The Company of the Dead by David Kowalski
          Best SF Short Story - 'Hollywood Roadkill' by Cat Sparks (in Canada's On Spec #69)
The Aurealis is judged by a panel. The award was established in 1995 by Chimaera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis magazine, to recognise the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror. Details of all categories at

Australia's Ditmars are the nation's SF fan-voted awards presented at the country's national convention which this year was Swancon at Easter. This year's principal category wins went to:-
          Best SF Novel - Saturn Returns by Sean Williams
          Best Collected Work - The New Space Opera edited by Jonathan Strahan & Gardner Dozois
          and (this year it was a tie)
          Fantastic Wonder Stories edited by Russell B. Farr.
The Ditmars are Australia's national SF Awards. The Tin Duck Awards were also presented for Western Australian SF.

The British SF Awards were presented at this year's national convention at Easter. The winner of the 'Best Novel' category went to Ian McDonald's Brasyl.
          The runners up were: Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot, Black Man by Richard Morgan, The Execution Channel by Ken MacLeod, The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds, and The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon.
          A special BSFA 50th anniversary award for 'Best Novel of 1958' went to Brian Aldiss' Non-Stop. A special presentation to mark the BSFA's 50th anniversary went to fan Peter Mabey who has had continuous membership throughout the Association's half-century.
          Full details of all categories are on

Italy's Italcon Awards were presented at this year's Italcon. Thanks to Roberto for the heads up and at the time of posting this was not easily searchable on the internet and so here are all the categories:-
          Best Science Fiction Novel or Anthology - L'essenza del futuro [The Essence of the Future] by Vittorio Catani
          Best Book Collection - Urania Collezione
          Best Editor - Vittorio Curtoni
          Best Artist - Dino Marsan
          Best Translator - Salvatore Proietti
          Best Professional Magazine - - Delos Books
          (Note: Which of course separately was a previous Eurocon magazine winner and was the first on-line
            publication to receive a Eurocon Award
          Best Essay - 'La Fantascienza sugli schermi 3' by Giovanni Mongini
          Best (non-fiction) Article in a professional publication - 'Philip Dick, le barriere di Blade Runner e i superuomini che non sanno volare' ['Philip Dick, The Barrier Between Blade Runner and Supermen Who Do Not Know How to Fly'] by Salvatore Proietti
          Best Artistic Production - Marcello Rossi and Aleksandar Mickovic for il programma Wonder Stories (Jimmy)
          Best Fantasy Novel or Anthology - I Draghi di Chrysos [The Dreggs of Chrysos] by Debora Montanari
          Best Short Story in a Professional Publication - 'Crescerà a poco a poco' ['[It will grow little by little'] by Alberto Cola
          Best Fanzine - Fondazione SF Magazine
          Best Fan Website - Uraniamania
          Best Fan Short Story - 'Illusione Celeste' ['Celestial Illusion'] by Mauro D'Avino
          Best Fan Article (non-fiction) - Fantaspot by Enrico Di Stefano
          Best TV Series - Lost
          Best DVD - The Prestige directed by Christopher Nolan
          Best International Novel - Ammonite by Nicola Griffith
(Note: Fondazione SF Magazine [Foundation SF Magazine] also published the 'Best Fan Short Story' and the 'Best Fan Article'.)

New Zealand's Sir Julius Vogel Awards were presented during this year's national convention, Conjunction, held over Ester weekend.
The principal category winners were:-
          Best Novel Adult - Path of Revenge by Russell Kirkpatrick
            (Note: The sequel Dark Heart is now out and a further follow-up is anticipated next year.)
          Best Novel (Juvenile) - The Sea-wreck Stranger by Anna Mackenzie
                             that tied with...
                                         - Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
          Best Anthology: Doorways for the Dispossessed by Paul Haines
          Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) Black Sheep directed by Jonathan King
          (Note: You may recall from last time that this film also won a prestigious award at France's SF Utopiales
            which is one of the World's biggest SF gatherings (many times the size of the Worldcon).
The awards are named for Sir Julius Vogel, a prominent New Zealand journalist and politician, who became Prime Minister of New Zealand in the 1870s. He also, in 1889, wrote what is widely (though possibly erroneously) regarded as New Zealand's first science fiction novel, Anno Domini 2000 - A Woman's Destiny. The book pictured a New Zealand in the year 2000 where most positions of authority were held by women - at the time of writing, a radical proposition. In 2000, New Zealand's Head of State, Governor General, Prime Minister, Chief Justice and Attorney General were all women.
            The full list of winners and nominations can be found here.

This year's Bram Stoker Awards were presented at the World Horror convention at the end of March. The principal category winners were:-
          Best Novel - The Missing - Sara Langan.
          Best First Novel - The Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill.

The Silver Arrow Awards were presented at Russia's third Silver Arrow convention. The winners of the principal categories were:-
          Best Science Fiction Writer 2007 - Alex Ovkosh
          Best Fantastic Book of 2007 - Sea-Scape by Sergey Dyachenko
          Best Russian Science fiction Writer - Vadim Panov
In addition to the awards they received 20% discount Russian tourist vouchers.

The Russian magazine Mir Fantastique [Fantasy/Fantastic World] has presented its annual awards. For the first time these were physically (as opposed to virtually) presented and the venue for the occasion was Moscow's Silver Arrow convention. The winners of the principal categories were:-
          Book of 2007 was won by the author Yuri Burnosova
          Popular Science Book of 2007 was Mars by Anton Pervushin

Chilean SF magazine Tau Zero marks its fifth anniversary with issue 24. The content of this anniversary edition includedshort stories by Chilean authors and an interview with Brit author Alastair Reynolds with a story of his especially translated for the issue. There is also an article in the value of a scientific and sceptical approach to 'paranormal' phenomena. Ben Bova provided a report on Japan's 2007 Worldcon.

A new Romanian SF magazine has been launched -- Sci-Fi Magazin. Actually it came out last October but we have only just been told. It consists of short stories and mainly by western writers. Issue one has contributions from Bud Sparhawk, William Sanders, Ursula K. Le Guin, Alfred Coppel, Will Shetterly, Matthew Hughes, Ken Lui, George Lazar and Cory Doctorow. Website

A Spanish SF magazine has been launched in Madrid. Called SciFiWorld it was officially launched during an evening of fantastic films that featured three screenings of features by the director Javier Tolentino. In the midst of these half an hour was devoted to the launch. Those present included directors Jorge Grau, Paco Cabezas, Elio Quiroga and Alex Sampayo and the writer Jose Manuel Serrano Cueto. SciFiWorld is apparently Spain's only genre magazine selling in Spain's major high street newsagents.

2000AD Britain's leading SF comic of the past three decades is now available on-line. Published weekly and with characters such as Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog and script writers such as Alan Grant, John Wagner, David Bishop and even occasionally Alan Moore, 2000AD has developed a solid following in the UK. It has also won more Eagle Awards (Britain's leading comic award) than can easily be remembered. Despite continual but marginal profit, 2000AD has suffered a number of transfers of ownership before a few years ago it was bought out by the computer games company Rebellion whose owners are 2000AD fans. Being no longer within a major magazine company has presented difficulties but its support has remained. It has managed to attract a few overseas readers but distribution is a big problem. At least up till now because going on-line gets around that problem providing you are used to (as increasingly people are) material being electronic. Now issues of 2000AD are available to buy on-line the week following the paper versions distribution from All that can be said is 'splundig'.

What's happened to our last season Top Books of 2007 recommendations? Were we on the ball? Well let's see how they fared in other areas of the SF community...?
          Brazyl by Ian MacDonald is now out in North America in hardcover from Pyr at US$25, ISBN 978-1-591-0-2543-6. Brasyl was subsequently nominated for the BSFA award which it then won and has also just been nominated for a Hugo (see earlier) and is on the Locus 2007 recommended reading list.
          Black Man by Richard Morgan was nominated for a BSFA Award and is on the Locus 2007 recommended reading list.
          The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds was nominated for a BSFA Award and is also on the Locus 2007 recommended reading list.
          Which brings us to Cowboy Angels by Paul McAuley and Divergence by Tony Ballantyne. So far these are the only ones of Concatenation's Best Novels of 2007 that do not seem to have gathered much interest in the award stakes, though both have attracted some great reviews. It might be that this lack of award recognition was due to the books coming out later rather than earlier in 2007. Another reason, for Cowboy Angels at least, is that it has not yet come out in North America and (surprisingly), we currently understand, there are no plans for its publication that side of the Atlantic! For these reasons it never stood a chance of either making the Hugo or the Locus Award shortlists. Now the Hugo rules are such that it gets a second bite at the cherry if a publisher releases it over there this year (2008) so enabling nomination next year (2009). However it may be that both these titles have slipped between stools. Pity that. We sincerely recommend them so do seek them out. The mass market paperbacks should be out in the UK later this year to accompany the hardback already out. STOP PRESS: Cowboy Angel's paperback forthcoming release listed below.
          On the non-fiction SF front we only recommended one as our Best Non-Fiction SF of 2007and that was Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of SF by Jeff Prucher. This has since been nominated for a Hugo (see earlier).

China bans SF horror. In the run up to this summer's Olympics, China is doing everything to tidy up its image. Now they have turned to film. No, they are not cracking down on the (reportedly) 90% of DVDs sold there being pirated. No instead, according to a Reuters report, they are asking media outlets to identify offensive films including 'wronged spirits and violent ghosts, monsters, demons, and other inhuman portrayals, strange and supernatural storytelling for the sole purpose of seeking terror and horror'. Identified films are to be reported to The General Administration of Press and Publications... Scary huh?

An SF drink has been officially launched in the Ukraine. It is a vodka called Gravitsapa. It is named after the 1987 Soviet Science Fiction film Kin-Dza-Dza (director Georgy Danelia) Gravitsapa was intergalactic drive for space ships in the film. The launch (coincidentally) took place a few days prior to Ukraine's national convention Portal.


[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 2008


Brian Aldiss has been talking about his recent life in January's Locus magazine and his forthcoming novel with the working title Walcot. Apparently his agent hated it as it was written in the second-person singular: 'you' did this etc, and Brian has been working on it for years. The novel appears to be a history of the 20th century as told through the eyes of a family member. However it turns out to be SF as the 20th century we experienced was an experiment. To find out by who and for whom you can find out when the book is published this side of the Pond later in the year.

Juan José Aro, due to poor health (necessitating two operations) has announced the rescheduling of releases from Spain's Espiral Ciencia Ficción [Spiral Science Fiction]. Details in book news.

Iain Banks was interviewed by The Guadrian newspaper (or Guardian if you are a non-Brit visitor to this site). He revealed: that he did not have a favourite book as a youngster but a favourite genre -- science fiction; that his parents were keen readers and that he was shocked to discover at school some of his friends did not have books in their houses ('I thought it was like not having oxygen'); and as for a tip to budding writers, the three 'P's 'practice, practice, practice. +++ Meanwhile he also gave an interview to The Australian. He said in the early days he thought of himself as an SF writer daring to dabble in the mainstream.

Clive Barker is to produce film of his own Book of Blood. See item in film news below.

J. G. Ballard, as noted as forthcoming last time, has his autobiography published. Simultaneous with its launch Miracles of Life was summarised and broadcast on national BBC Radio 4 in five daily broadcasts one week. In it he revealed how has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and grateful for the thoughtful care being given him by Hammersmith hospital (London). He also revealed two of his favourite contemporary authors: Will Self and Iain Sinclair. Both these writers are more associated with the mainstream than genre. Yet both have their SFnal moments. Notably, as we pointed out a little while ago, is Self's The Book of Dave. Then in February both Will Self and Iain Sinclair held a public discussion at the Victoria and Albert (Kensington, London) on psychogeography, and naturally both referred to Ballard a few times.

Eric Brown has sold a trilogy of forthcoming books to Solaris. These concern the work of a telepath, Jeff Vaughan, at a spaceport. The first, Necropath, is scheduled to be out from Solaris in September. Xenopath follows in June next year (2009) with the final due out in 2010. Eric Brown has written several SF thrillers set in the near and far future. See our reviews of: Helix, New York BluesNew York Nights and Penumbra.

Cheeta is now the oldest non-human primate according to the Guinness Book of Records and now has his biography out. Cheeta (real name Jiggs) is famous for co-starring in a dozen Tarzan films of the 1940s through to '60s that starred Romanian Johnny Weissmuller. Now retired, he lives in Palm Springs with the nephew of his trainer. His biography is called Me Cheeta and is out from Fourth Estate. It dispatches rumours as to stand-in animals and has gossip about Weissmuller's wives. His last film was with Rex Harrison in the 1967 fantasy Dr Doolittle. He paints art (which can be bought) and apparently enjoys watching TV, especially cartoons and wildlife programmes. +++ OK, so Cheeta is not a major SF or science writer or artist but we thought you might be interested in this news and had to put it somewhere...

David Cronenburg the Canadian film director of genre note, is turning to writing fiction. Fourth Estate have paid an unspecified but reported five-figure sum (which, it has to be said, needs to be a high one to be of note) for his debut novel Consumed. Apparently it is a murder thriller with a biomedical undertone and Cronenburg says he is inspired by Ballard... Which is a good thing since he adapted Ballard's novel to the big screen with the film Crash. So far only a few pages have been penned so this is unlikely to be ready before 2009.

Richard Dawkins, the British zoologist, having caused a stir with The God Delusion, is to have another book on the evidence for evolution to come out next year (2009) to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth. Gossip has it that his US publisher has paid an advance of US£3.5 million (£1.8m). +++ In February Dawkins appeared on BBC Radio 4's Open Book programme and said that Science Fiction helps him think about science. Included in his top five fiction novels were Fred Hoyle's The Black Cloud (1957) and Daniel F. Galouye's Hugo-nominated Dark Universe (1961).

Greg Egan had a major boost to his backlist in February prior to the May launch of his new novel Incandescence in May. Computer scientist and part-time author, Australian Greg Egan is known for writing very hard SF. If this is how you like your SF (and arguably many SF-loving scientists do) and you have not come across Egan then now is the time. Gollancz have released eight of his books in nifty, themed-styled covers (all paperback at £7.99) that would look great as part of a collection. Our Jonathan and Tony highly recommend Quarantine (biotech controlled probabilistic determined manipulation of reality comes unstuck) and Permutation City (a pre-Matrix novel of computer simulation and human transmigration) but do not let their partisan favouritism put you off the others. Also in the mix are: Axiomatic, Diaspora, Distress (another review of which is here), Luminous, Schild's Ladder and Teranesia. If we get a chance we will do a stand alone review of Incandescence later in the year as well as fill in some of the gaps in our Egan coverage not to mention do a couple of second reviews. (A number of our reviews on this site stem from when we were more constrained in our early print incarnation, besides which it is good to see with second reviews how books stand up a decade on.)

Steven Erikson, author of the fantasy series The Malazan Book of the Fallen is due to come to the UK on an author tour in June. This ties in with the UK launch of the series' eighth volume Toll the Hounds. (There will be ten books in all.) Of course this follows on from April's British launch of the paperback edition of the seventh book Reaper's Gale. Publishers Transworld tell us that all in all it is going to be quite a year for Erikson this side of the Pond as, in addition to all this, the autumn will see the trade paperback edition of Toll the Hounds. +++ Also Ian C. Esslemont has a Malazan book out this summer.

Steve Furber, the computer scientist, has been made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE). Steve Furber helped design the BBC computer as well as separately developing the ARM processor. In the late 1970s he designed the BBC Acorn computer as part of a computer literacy campaign. They thought that maybe 12,000 would be sold but they were very successful between 1983 and 1986. All in all 1.5 million were sold. Many of Britain SF convention publications were word-processed using the BBC around this time including the first couple of issues of Concatenation back in our print days. Then in the early 1980s Furber designed the ARM chip and the first were mass produced in April 1985. Today the chips are used in many devices including calculators, mobile phones and MP3 players: about 10 million chips are currently sold every day! At the moment Steve Furber is working on the Spinaker project that uses ARMs as commonly as transistors were a few decades ago. The aim of Spinaker, using 1 million ARMs, is to model around 1 billion biological neurons (or very roughly 1% the processing power of the human brain).

William Gibson has been over from North America to continental Europe on a promotional tour in France doing book signings and interviews.

Alan Lee has been visiting France to promote the latest Tolkien book he has illustrated, the Children of Hurin. Places visited have included: Bordeaux, Paris and Toulouse.

Doris Lessing had her first public appearance in January since winning the Nobel for literature last year. She had an hour session at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall (South Bank) with an interview by her biographer Hermione Lee. They also discussed her last genre book The Cleft. Before giving a reading from her next due out in May.

Michael Moorcock has been awarded the 2008 Damon Knight Grand Master by the SF Writers of America. This is SFWA's highest accolade and recognizes excellence for a lifetime of contributions to science fiction and fantasy. Michael Moorcock is, of course, British. His latest collection of stories, The Metatemporal Detective was published last year by Pyr in the US. Though it is not out (yet?) from a British publisher, Pyr does have a UK distributor and as Moorcock is so well known over here we thought you would be interested. +++ Moorcock is glad that Elric blunder sorted -- see book news below.

Terry Pratchett is proactively supporting Alzheimer's Research. Further to last time's news of Terry Prathcett's embuggerance, he has given £500,000 (US$985,000) to Alzheimer's research. This news came the day he was giving a speech to the Alzheimer's Research Trust. The news hit the UK media at all levels including national BBC TV and radio. Terry pointed out that Alzheimer's research in the UK is just 3% that of cancer. Furthermore Alzheimer's victims are often hidden from the rest of society. Unlike cancer victims they are less able to speak out and often elderly and at home or in homes. Terry himself has a variant of the affliction that affects motor processing first: posterior cortical atrophy. His symptoms have begun to show and present themselves, for example, in him having difficulty sorting out a jacket sleeve that is inside out. So far it has not affected his story-telling but is beginning to affect his typing: he used to be able to touch type but now occasionally has to look to check keys out. Nonetheless he plans to continue writing a novel a year for as long as he can, although at some stage he expects to have to dictate his stories. Regarding campaigning for Alzheimer's he intends to "scream and harangue while there is still time." He said, "Personally I'd eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance." Aside from funding he noted that it was easier for him to get heroin down at a bus stop than it was to get Aricept. He is paying for the drug because the National Health Service (NHS) says that at 59 he is too young to get it for free! +++ Meanwhile the Alzheimer's Research Trust said, "Research is the only way to beat this disease and help people like Terry - to prevent them losing their thinking skills and keep them doing the things they love." +++ Terry's fans have started an Alzheimer's fund campaign (see below in 'Fandom and Other News'). +++ Catholic Church challenge stem cell embryo Bill, see story in the Interface: Science and SF section below.

Philip Pullman's books were a Christmas hit. Story below in the SF trade news subsection. Now he is turning part of his attention to comics and is providing the storyline for a strip about a mysterious boy who sails the Pacific in the new British comic The DFC.

Robert Rankin's next book, Necrophenia will be out 11th July 2008. There will be a book launch combined with a Rankin exhibit wrap party at the Gunnersby Park Museum (London). Following this he will do a book signing tour and then 5th - 7th of September he will be one of the principal guests at Zombiecon.

George A. Romero, the US director of zombie films, has revealed an ambition to do a Tarzan and a Dracula film the way the original authors, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Bram Stoker, would have done.

Robert Silverberg is having his 1972 classic novel Son of Man reprinted in June by Pyr (trd pbk, US$15, ISBN 978-1-591-0-2646-4). It won the 1972 Locus Award for 'Best SF Novel' and as the Locus is voted on by the magazines readers it very much reflects the views of N. American SF reader buffs. We normally focus on British Isles new releases but we thought you might be especially interested in this one and Pyr does have a UK distributor. Son of Man concerns Clay who is whisked from the 20th century to a distant future in which humans have 'evolved' into different forms. Clay is human, whatever that now means.

Ian Wilmut who led the Roslin Institute team to clone the first mammal, dolly the sheep in 1997, has been knighted. +++ Since then Worldwide some 13 mammal species have successfully been cloned.

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 2008


The Signal SF horror may yet be released in British Isles. Maybe by now you will know, but at the time of posting we were told that UK date had not been set: if it is not, dare say it will be available on DVD. Set just before New Year, The Signal concerns the city of Terminus where electronic communications have been jam,med by a mysterious signal. And then the killing starts. Check out this YouTube clip.

The film Jumper topped the N. American mid-February box office ranking the weekend of its opening. It took some US$27.2million (£14m). It is a somewhat loose spin-off from Steven Gould's 1992 novel Jumper that has recently been published for the first time in the British Isles by Harper Voyager. It concerns a young man who has the (super power) ability to jump. Gould knows his SF and the teleportation trope roots within the genre. Apparently the film does not demonstrate this so clearly. Furthermore -- from the early reviews on the web -- the film is not a complete story and appears to be more of an incomplete pilot for a series. However the film's marketing and trailer does not indicate this. Further, co-star Samuel L. Jackson is reported as saying that he took part in the film as he could see it becoming a franchise. Do, though, check out the original book. Jonathan says he really enjoyed it. There is also a spin-off book of the film (as opposed to a film novelization).

The new Journey to the Center (sic) of the Earth is to parallel Verne's vision. This is at least the third film spin-off of the novel (not counting the failed TV pilot of the same name unrelated to the novel). The producer, Charlotte Huggins, says it will parallel the novel with the protagonists carrying a copy of Verne's novel with them for reference. Given that it is not strictly a novel adaptation, the real news then is that it is shot with James Cameron's Fusion 3-D digital camera system and will be a 3-D epic. No European release date has yet been announced, but it comes out in North America on 11th July as there are 1,200 cinema theatres there equipped with the "Real D" 3-D projection system. +++ A copy of a Verne book is going into space. Details below.

2012 goes to Sony following bid war. It will be director Roland (10,000 BC) Emmerich's next film and despite a budget of US$ 200 million (£1.01m) was fought over by a number of studios. 2012 is when the World is supposed to end. If all goes well it will be out next summer (2009).

There may be two more Star Trek's films to follow the next release and Scotty is to be played by a Brit. Simon (Shaun of the Dead) Pegg is to play Scotty in the up-coming Trek film. That a Brit is doing it may mean we get a half-decent Scottish accent rather than the mangleised accent the 'actor' has in Star Trek: New Voyages. Pegg's contract is also of interest as apparently there is an option for two more films if the next is a success.

Paramount delay next Star Trek film. The film's release has been pushed back from Christmas 2008 to May 2009 as the studio feel that it will see a bigger box office return with a summer release. +++ Scientist to help ST film! See story below in the Science & SF Interface section.

More hobbit trouble for Time Warner's New Line Cinema. This time the charitable trust of J. R. R. Tolkein and the Lord of the Rings publishers (Britain's HarperCollins) are owed 7.5% of gross receipts but apparently have only received a film advance of some US$62,500 (£32,000). The trilogy of films have now grossed US$6 billion (£2.08 billion) and the complainants reportedly say they are owed US$150 million (£77m). This is not the first time New Line have been accused of not paying out their contractual dues. At the end of last year director Peter Jackson received a settlement from New Line but the suspicion lingers that they only paid up because they wanted Jackson to work on the upcoming hobbit film. Meanwhile at the end of last year New Line -- who were behind the Golden Compass film sued the makers of a documentary of the film. In addition, back in 2004, following a dispute with New Line Saul Zaentz -- the producer of the cartoon version of LOTR received an out of court settlement as he optioned the rights he inherited from his work to New Line. The signal all this seems to be sending authors of works some studios might want to turn into films, is for authors to guestimate total earnings and ask for this as the upfront advance, as relying on a small advance with a subsequent share of profits may be a hassle.

Watchmen centre of 20th Century Fox case against Warner. As we have previously covered, production on the Watchmen film is well and truly underway (our previous story trail starts here). Now Fox is suing Warner as Fox claims it owns exclusive rights. Some might say this is what comes of buying up film options and then sitting on them but we could not possibly think that especially as... Apparently there is a complication in that a third party wrote the screenplay and it is the rights to this that Fox appears to be protecting. The film is of course based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' graphic novel (who probably won't see a penny of all this) and the film's director is Zack Snyder.

The Hulk film, if successful, is designed to be a franchise. So the star Edward Norton is reported as saying. Enough said. The film is out from 13th June in Europe and North America.

The forthcoming Spanish SFnal film Tres Días [Three Days] or Before the Fall (international release title) is generating a fair bit of speculation on the net. Directed and co-written by F. Javier Gutiérrez, the plot concerns local events following a UN announcement that a planet-killer asteroid is just three days away. The film's protagonist decides to drink the last days away listening to music in his house in a small rural village. However a stranger arrives with obscure intent and he is forced to protect his brother's four children. +++ Trailer here.

Clive Barker's Book of Blood is to be a film. Matador Pictures and Midnight Picture Show have joined forces for the project. Clive himself is one of the producers (see earlier). John Harrison (Tales from the Darkside) will direct from a screenplay co-written with Darin Silverman. Sophie (Heartbeat) Ward and Jonas (Robin Hood) Armstrong will star. The plot concerns a paranormal expert investigating a grisly murder, finds a house that is crossroads of routes that take souls to the afterlife. It is hoped the film will be sufficiently successful to become a franchise. +++ The paperback of Barker's Mr B. Gone is out this summer (see below).

Max Brook's novel World War Z may well be a film scripted by Michael J. Straczynski (of Babylon V fame). The plot is a slightly different take on zombie movies. It concerns a UN researcher who is asked to review the key events leading to the Zombie World War. However as his work progresses official interest in the review seems to evaporate because it looks as if it will highlight the failing of governments and their agencies. The parallels of the book's plot with the failings of real officials in the face of major events are all too obvious.

The X-Files 2 film has finished shooting and plot set-up revealed. The wrap took place in Vancouver, Canada. Mulder (Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) staged a kiss for photographers and predictably these were published and posted on the net. Apparently the plot set-up concerns what happened to Mulder and Scully six years on after the show's TV finale that was, of course, in 2002.

Cloverfield to have a prequel? Whatever fans say (and there has been criticism of the film being plot light), the non-traditional online marketing seems to have worked, not to mention the post 9/11 cathartic release nature of the film in the US, has enabled Cloverfield accrue a good US box office take in the first couple of months since its launch. So it is not surprising that there is already talk of a sequel or prequel.

Heavy Metal is to have a third film. The Franco-US quality-art comic SF/fantasy magazine is to spin out into a second film. The first film (1981, dir. Gerald Potterton) was animation and soon after its release there was a talk of a live-action film to be called Heavy Metal's Burning Chrome but this never came to pass. A second did appear in 2000. Now there are plans for a third animation film with David Fincher as the director. Like the first film it will consist of several stand-alone stories each with its own sub-director.

The 7th 'Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows , will be filmed in two-parts. They will be released in2010 and 2011 respectively.

The Descent is to have a sequel. Called De2cent advance information suggests it takes off where the last film ended. The caving women are overdue and the local rangers are concerned. Then the surviving woman turns up bloodied and traumatised. Unable to get any sense out of her the rangers take he back to the cave... Bad move... Not least because the current gossip on the net is not very favourable and it looks like this sequel may well fail to live up to the Neil Marshall original. +++ Meanwhile Neil Marshall (director of the original Descent) has Doomsday coming out. This also has a female protagonist who takes a military team into a quarantined zone to find a cure for a plague affecting the World.

Rumour central has it that loose plans are being made for De3cent! Apparently (so gossip has it) in the process of casting De2cent one of the actresses was given an option for a second film... Talk about milking the franchise, they would have been better off doing a follow-up to Dog Soldiers that was directed by Neil Marshall who did the original The Descent. (Dog Soldiers had an unrealised back-story as clearly the authorities new or suspected there was a long-time were-wolf pack in the highlands otherwise they would not have sent in a hunting team and separately an uninformed soldier platoon (purportedly on exercise) as bait.)

More rumours as to another alien film. Further to last time's details there have been more rumours as to a possible sixth 'Alien' film. We thought you might want to known as all this fuels likelihood -- no smoke without fire and all that. Yet for all the fantastic film buff gossip (all of which is firmly in line with our previous report) there has been no more info on the likely plot.

Frank Herbert's novel Dune (1965) is once more to be adapted to the big screen. Dune has been on the big screen before courtesy of David Lynch (1984) and there was a TV mini-series (2000). Now Paramount have asked David Berg to direct a new film with Kevin Misher producing. The film has a tentative release date of 2010. Apparently this version is to be faithful to the novel but then nearly all film directors adapting novels say that...

Dan Simmonds' Hugo-winning Hyperion is to become a film. Warner Brothers is to make it with producer Graham King.

More Outer Limits and RoboCop to come from MGM. The studio is saying that it will produce more feature-length productions of both these franchises.

Film download tip!: Isaac Asimov on the future of SF. Isaac Asimov discusses the transformation of science fiction from the 1950's to 1971 (when this interview occurred). This interview is the 2nd of two Asimov excerpts from the Literature of SF DVD available at It is brought to you by AboutSF and the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. For more info, visit See the clip here.

Film download tip!: I Am Legend film alternative ending We let you know news of the changes made to the film last time. Well at last you can see for yourself, here it is.... (about 5 minutes).

Film download tip!: Which doctor is whom? Two Dr Who's, an old (Peter Davidson one) and the current David Tennant one in this mini-encounter first broadcast for BBC's Children in Need last year. See it here.

For a reminder of the top films in 2007/8 (and earlier years) then check out our top Science Fiction Films annual chart. This page is based on the weekly UK box office ratings over the past year up to Easter. You can use this page if you are stuck for ideas hiring a DVD for the weekend.

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


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

Summer 2008


Performance of leading UK publishers -- last year (2007) summarised. How much investment UK science fiction book imprints are likely to get this year will not only depend on publishing imprints performance last year but how fared the overall publishing group to which they belong. This is reflected by publishing house sales as indicated by BookScan that reports on sales from some 90% of UK retail book outlets. By this indicator then, good news for arguably the British Isles number one SF imprint Gollancz (part of the Orion group which in turn is) part of Hachette Livre. Hachette saw BookScan reported sales rise by some 5%. This news is also good for Hodder and Headline who also release some genre-related books. Nonetheless Hachette's Tim Hely-Hutchinson predicts some 'belt-tightening' this year.   Penguin and HarperCollins had a reasonable year. Though smaller than Hachette in terms of overall sales, they held their share of the market and this is good news for fantasy readers as HarperCollins do Tolkien's books and of course has the Voyager fantasy imprint. Pan Macmillan (which is noted for it Tor (UK) imprint) and Simon & Schuster (whose SF seems to have taken a back seat in recent years) though mid-sized players in the UK market did see 12% growth. However given that this growth came following an apparent down-sizing of S&S's genre lists it is unlikely that this will hugely benefit their SF and fantasy readers. Of course S&S do Pocket Books who in turn cover some media (TV and film) sci fi. On the other hand could we see more investment go to Tor (UK)? This might be no bad thing especially of we could get more US Tor titles over here. Overall British Isles book publishing by these major publishers seems to be holding its own. Where the various SF and fantasy imprints will be by the year's end is going to be interesting. Yet senior boardroom worries continue, such as the heavy discounting on some titles by supermarkets and the larger bookchains, which means that margins are tight and this in turn does make it difficult for new authors.

Numbers of UK bookshops change again! For the past few years the decided trend has been that more bookshops close each year than open. This spurred fears that bookshops would vanish from British high streets. The figures for 2007 (out from the Booksellers Association) reveal that last year 81 opened but only 72 closed. Could this be a meaningful turning point?

Top selling mass fiction authors -- the 2007 figures for Britain are out. The top genre-related authors were led by J. K. Rowling whose books sold £43.5 million (US$85m). (Note: this is the cash taken at British Isles bookshops as well as on-line and is not author income.) Rowling also came top of all mass-market authors and this figure is hugely up from the £3.7m (US$7.4m) in 2006 due to the publication of Deathly Hallows and the new Potter film. The 2nd genre-related author selling author of 2007 was Terry Pratchett whose books sold £7.2m (US$14.4m) which was up £0.3m (US$0.6m) from 2006's £6.9m (US$13.8m). Stephen King's titles sold £2.6m (US$5.2m) which was down from 2006's £4.3m (US$8.6m).

Top selling non-fiction science authors -- the 2007 figures for Britain are out. Bill Bryson's books sold £5.6m (US$11.2m) up £0.7m (US$1.4m) from £4.9m (US$9.8m) in 2006. Richard Dawkins sold £3.7m (US$7.4m) up £0.9m (US$1.8m) in 2006. See our review of Dawkins The God Delusion here.

Top library borrowed books. Yet more figures out showing that the most borrowed genre title from UK libraries in 2007 was J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (published by Bloomsbury, 2005) at number 23. This was followed by Stephen King's Cell (Hodder, 2006) at number 98.

British Government rips off authors by cutting the PLR. Local governments in the UK provide public libraries paid for out of rates (an annual house tax). Citizens can freely borrow books that would be a breach of copyright were it not for the Government paying authors up to £6,600 a year depending on how many times their books are borrowed. This money comes out of a pot called the Public Lending Right. The 2007/8 size of the PLR is £7.68 million (US$14.9m) which is shared between 24,000 writers. However the PLR for 2008/9 is to be cut to £7.43 million. The Chair of the Society of Authors is overwhelmed and astonished and has written to the Minister for Culture. The Chair says that: "The PLR scheme is widely seen as a just, efficient and economic war of rewarding writers for the loan of their books from public libraries..." and "the cut may be small but the clear message given to writers is that they are not valued."

Philip Pullman had four titles in the UK Christmas top 100 mass market book chart. All three of 'His Dark Materials' trilogy as well as The Golden Compass film tie-in which was also the Children's book chart Christmas number one in the week prior to the festivities.

The Christmas top selling annual of 2007 was SF related. In the week up to Christmas the top-selling children's annual in the British Isles was the Dr Who Annual 2008 with some 30,000 sold. This is the second year in a row that the Dr Who Annual has been a top Brit seller the week before Christmas. We think it is the parents who grew up with Dr Who as well as the new generation of youngsters who enjoy the series.

New North American SF publishing imprint. is now open for submissions of SF and modern fantasy. (By modern they mean no Swords 'n Sorcery). The guidelines are available at their website, and pros will not need telling that these need to be adhered to if proposals are to be considered. Criteria do have a distribution arrangement in the British Isles where Lightning Source is used to print their books.

Gollancz boost Greg Egan's backlist. -- See the news earlier in the authors' news section.

Gollancz to boost Arthur Clarke backlist. -- See Clarke news below.

Elric of Melniboné blunder narrowly avoided. Michael Moorcock's fantasy hero is due to get another airing. Yet the publishers Gollancz, who are normally very much on the ball, were to be publishing two Elric novels together as a compendium: Stealer of Souls and Stormbringer. They were to do this giving the compendium the title Elric of Melniboné. Yet Elric of Melniboné is actually the title of quite a separate Elric novel unconnected with the proposed compendium novels other than it is another adventure of the same protagonist. Apparently SF buff Guy Lawley found out and alerted Gollancz who put matters right, though Moorcock himself initially was not pleased. (Past title confusion (with other publishers and authors) has seen notable lost revenue and notwithstanding the author could have called for a misnamed book to be pulped on the grounds of misrepresentation.) No doubt Gollancz will be showing their gratitude and appreciation. These things happen but good to see that genre enthusiasts can help prevent mistakes of such magnitude: professionals need to value them. +++ Other Moorcock news earlier here.

E-Books get British boost. British bookseller chains Waterstones and Borders are to push e-books (electronic books) from the summer (July). This should (coincidentally) nicely lead up to Sony's November launch of its new e-book reader... Well, if people must they must.

Spain's Espiral Ciencia Ficción [Spiral Science Fiction] is to decrease its publishing frequency from bimonthly to biannual. The not-for-profit publisher has been going for around 13 years but recently the ill-health of its editor has taken its toll. This April saw the publication of La Marcha de las Anémonas [The March of the Anemones ] by the Chilean writer (and science journalist) Lilian Duery. This will be his second book. Set in the very near future, the plot concerns genetic experiments which end up enhancing global warming. Following this the next publication will be out in October.

US book chain Borders feels the credit squeeze. Despite total sales up 4.2% to US$3.8 billion (£1.9 billion) in 2007, there apparently was a problem with its selling its Australian and New Zealand branches and this and the overall economic climate has given it difficulties. You may recall from last season that Borders sold its British Isles operation arguably cheaply and last year it made an operating loss of US$45.7 (£22.6 m). And so it has sought to borrow US$42.5 million (£21.2 m) but had difficulty finding a lender. However its major shareholder (Pershing Square Capital) came to the rescue, sort of, with a loan but at a reported eye-watering interest rate of 12.5%.

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


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

Summer 2008


Prisoner celebrates 40th anniversary as McGoohan celebrates 80th birthday. The 1968 TV series, The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan had its 40th anniversary with a Prisoner convention in Portmerion, which served as the North Wales location of the 'village'. Jane Merrow and Earl Cameron from the series attended. Meanwhile the show's star, Patrick McGoohan, celebrated his 80th birthday on 19th March. +++ The BBC marked the anniversary with a Radio 4 programme 'A Still Tongue Makes for a Quiet Life' as part of the Britain in a Box series.

Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles may not 'be back!' The show opened in North America in the autumn to some 18 million viewers, which no doubt gratified the studio Fox. Alas over the next weeks viewers gradually dwindled by 12 million to just 6 million. The show is likely to be cancelled. Why have American audiences been so disaffected? Well, if one believes the gossip, it is the protagonist (played by Lena Headey) being too scrawny and that her character agonises over having to be tough rather than get on with it as the character did in the films. However the female Terminator protecting her and John Connor is much better. She too is a lithe woman but with clearly discernable grit underneath. Viewers will recognise her as Summer Glau who has appeared in Firefly and Serenity. Unfortunately the studio is unlikely to think of her appearing in the new Terminator film reportedly starring Christian Bale. +++ Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles had its UK debut in February. Will its ratings follow the same pattern as in N. America?

The Bionic Woman has been cancelled by NBC. As we reported in last time's science fiction news the series launch attracted a big North American audience. This then rapidly dwindled and then the writers' strike hit -- only 8 episodes have been broadcast. It was then released in Great Britain on the digital channel ITV 2 and got 2.2 million viewers (a record for that channel). However with the plummeting of the North American audience the writing was on the wall and NBC have pulled the plug.

Stargate: Continuum new DVD out July. It will be more stand-alone that the previous Stargate straight-to-DVD, The Ark of Truth (that came out back in March) which tied up the 'Ori' story line. Continuum will be accessible to more casual viewers.

The latest Knight Rider TV film has been hugely successful in N. America. NBC's film topped the February ratings in the young adult demographic prompting speculation that a TV series may be in the offing. Overall 12.7 million viewers watched and the figures climbed during the two-hour showing. NBC may make an announcement in May. +++ STOP PRESS: TV series now confirmed.

Fear Itself is a new TV horror anthology show being launched at the end of May. Individual programme directors include: directors including Brad Anderson, Mary Harron, Ernest Dickerson, Ronny Yu, John Carpenter and Stuart Gordon.

Merlin, a new TV series for 2009. It will follow the adventures of the wizard from Camelot before he became well-known as a legend. It co-stars Brit actor Anthony (Buffy and Little Britain) Head.

Heroes returns for a third series in September in N. America. Having only just (prior to Christmas) seen the first series on terrestrial broadcast in Europe (satellite/cable viewers got it a few months earlier), it seems a little previous to contemplate season three. On Monday, 15th September season three will commence in North America with an hour-long Heroes clip show to try to bring the audience up-to-date. This will be followed by a two-hour Heroes film. The bigger than usual gap between season two and three is in part due to the writers strike but also in part due to season two being a little limp. Time was needed to devise strong storylines.

Caprica as a Battlestar Galactica prequel is to be very different. Whereas Battlestar is action space opera, Caprica will be more new wave soap, or should that be a soapy new wave?. The series will centre on the families (the Greystones and the Adamas) and industries that created the cylons. Think Dallas with an SF riff and you will get the idea. It will appear as a two-hour production.

Stargate Atlantis' 5th season production is underway. The 20 episodes will include the series' 100th episode.


[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 2008


Worldcon hotel full but plenty of others nearby. The main hotel for this year's Worldcon, Devention, became fully booked early in the year not long after the accommodation form came out. The organisers point out that there are still many hotels within half a mile (10 minutes walk). Other news: There will be several programme (or 'program' items as Americans computerise it) items for aspiring writers. +++ Devention has announced the reported earlier +++ Pre-registration closes 10th July so book up before then unless you want to pay the inflated on-the-door rate. +++ The art show space request deadline is 15th July.

Anticipation, the 2009 Canadian Worldcon, has co-opted some Europeans onto its committee. Overall programming comes under the same person on the main committee who oversaw the programme for Canada's 2003 Worldcon (Torcon). This convention received some bitter criticism from some areas of fandom (for example see here). Certainly the 2003 programme was: panel dominated; the film section was particularly dire (very surprising given Canada punches well above its weight both in big-studio and independent film productions) plus poorly timetabled in the convention literature; and overall there was a lack of solo presentations other than readings. Many of the programme items on the day were not billed as advertised (science items largely excepted) and there were problems with some of the extravaganzas. So for 2009 a European programme director has been brought in to help out and this is arguably a welcome move. However a look at the Anticipation website reveals that so far those at the top of the 2009 programme organization are book orientated. Now there would be nothing wrong with that if this was balanced by those with expertise addressing SF's other areas. However with five staff members (not counting the programme director) concentrating on SF's written form and nobody (yet?) slated for, say, the cinematic dimension, it is obvious which way the wind is blowing. One saving grace is that there is someone with science expertise covering that part of the programme though of course science was one area that Canada did do reasonably well back in 2003, so it is a little surprising that a European was felt necessary for 2009. However if anyone from Europe can involve Canadian academics in the science programme then this individual can albeit an ocean away. (The chap is known to Concat and has done the odd thing with us.)
          Where does all this leave us? Truth be told, probably a little confused as to what sort of a Worldcon we will get. Book orientated yes, and this will be fine for those whose interests lie solely there. In addition, with two staff members working on the Francophone written SF programme then that dimension will be well covered, though without translated readings it is difficult to convey that genre dimension to those who are strictly Anglophones. So accessibility here is an issue. It would be easier (what with subtitling) to showcase recent cutting-edge and past classic Francophone cinematic offerings but, from what is on the website as nobody is covering film then the possibility of this last (currently) seems remote. Conversely the Anticipation Worldcon could attract French fans and pros and to do that could have a multi-pronged promotional blitz at the annual SF Utopiales.
          Does any of this matter? Worldcon regulars will go in 2009 regardless, and certainly a Canadian Worldcon is no barrier to US fans and professionals who make up the greatest proportion of attendees. Canadian locals will also go. To be honest as for anyone else, other than for tourist value, there seems little accessible on offer out of the usual. So will many decide to skip a year? Here Canada 2009 could benefit from Australia 2010 being difficult to get to from N. America and doubly so from Europe (as few Europeans or Americans would want to skip two years) but this is certainly a negative reason to attend Canada in 2009. What we do know is at the time of posting this seasonal newscast there are four months to this year's 2008 Worldcon at which point many (non-Canadians) still yet to decide what to do for next year will do so. If the 2009 Canadian Worldcon is going to come up with some clearly defined unique selling points then this season (summer 2008) is its last meaningful chance to both present them and demonstrate achievability. The 2009 committee needs to remember that for many memories of 2003's good and not so good aspects are still fresh in the mind.

Australia wins 2010 Worldcon bid!!!! So the Worldcon will be in Australia in 2010! How come we know now when the vote results are not due be announced until this year's Worldcon at the end of the summer? The sensational drama probe was as a result of the news of the win slipping through one of the tiniest wormholes in space to end up 5 months back in time to Easter just gone and next to a fish and chip shop in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, England. How it got there nobody knows: even Stephen Hawking has so far not provided an explanation. Particularly puzzling is that tiny wormholes are -- to put it somewhat technically -- 'tiny', yet this news is BIG! Wild speculation has it that space was warped along with time, but of course many are arguing that all this is pure fantasy. There' will be a reality check with next season's newscast...

New Zealand may run pre-Worldcon 2010 convention. -- see story in the following fandom section.

Worldcon bids for 2011. As we post this seasonal news page there is currently only one bid for 2011 and that is for Seattle, USA. It has the nifty slogan 'Yesterday's tomorrows today'. The northwest US has a fairly strong SF community and the region has at least five medium-sized general SF conventions, two SF and fantasy cons as well as five anime and comics conventions covering last year and this. The Seattle Westercon Organizing Committee are behind the bid. The results of the competition for the 2011 bid will take place at the 2009 Worldcon Anticipation in Canada.

The 2008 Moscow Eurocon sees SF Awards binge! Well it will have by the time you probably read this (this news page was posted just before the event). In addition to the traditional Eurocon Awards from the European SF Society (ESFS) and the host nation's own awards that are also frequently given at Eurocons, this year sees other. The Alisa (for best juvenile SF) and SF Writer of the Year (for biggest printed copies number in Russia) will be presented. Furthermore Boris Strugatsky will present his personal Bronze Snail award to the authors he personally thinks is most deserving for best: novel, novella, short story and non-fiction. Boris has been doing this since 1992 and the aim was to do so for the Eurocon via internet -- Very SFnal.

Passports required when paying 2008 Eurocon hotel and other bureaucracy? If you are reading this shortly after posting, and are going to this year's Eurocon, then you may care to note that your passport may be required when you pay your hotel bill and elsewhere. While it is common practice for foreigners across Europe to show their passport on registering with a hotel, in Moscow it may also be required when settling your bill. This last is likely to apply to Russians too given the experience at February's Silver Arrow convention in Moscow! This is just one aspect to the bureaucratic hassles that visitors to Moscow may encounter. Hopefully lessons will have been learned from last year's Roskon. Nonetheless it is worth reminding those going to this year's event are reminded to double check that they have all their documentation and that it is all in order. (You need advance registration papers for every place you will be spending the night.) +++ Now before Western Europeans get all smug that they do not have to suffer such indignities in the 'free west', remember that the proposed British biometric ID cards are of a type that would be illegal in Germany due to lingering memories of the early part of the last century as well as the cold war in the eastern part of that country. Furthermore the British government proposals with the EU want passengers taking flights between European Union countries and even domestic ones to provide not only a passport but mobile phone and credit card details!!! In all 19 bits of information would be required so as to identify 'high risk' passengers. The data, it is proposed, would then be held for 13 years. If these proposals go ahead it is likely that sea and rail passengers would also be included... Seems like George Orwell was only a quarter of a century out.

European SF Society (ESFS) makes statement without meeting! Further to the complaints that were raised by an international group of fans (see last season's ESFS business meeting story) about the way the 2007 Eurocon Award nomination process was conducted, the ESFS officers have now formally replied. In the statement not widely circulated, the officers say the person presiding the nomination process "has the complete trust of the ESFS and is fully backed by the elected board". This is a pretty nifty achievement given that ESFS has not met to discuss the matter! Of course the 'elected' officers are fully entitled to speak up for themselves but how can they speak for ESFS on a matter ESFS has not even met to consider? The perversity of this is underlined by the ESFS officers' own reply that includes the comment: "Anything that is done before the Eurocon can only be considered preliminary actions." (The underlining is our emphasis.) That is to say that ESFS meets at Eurocons so that matters outside of this can only be preliminary. All told this clearly indicates that there is somehow a difference between 'preliminary action' between meetings and an 'official ESFS statement' coming out of ESFS which sort of undermines the officers' own statement! The 'elected' board bit does though give the statement an air of democracy, or it would had not the previous two ESFS officer elections only been announced just a couple of minutes before the votes at the 2005 and 2007 business meetings respectively! Responding to the ESFS officers' statement, Sabina Marinova-Theo said, "I cannot call it 'satisfactory' but I am satisfied with [the ESFS officers'] inclination to accept 'positive suggestions' in order to 'avoid any misunderstandings in the future'. This is exactly what many Eurocon members, including me, expect." +++ Meanwhile the ESFS review body the officers promised at the Copenhagen business meeting has still not, as far as we know, been established. And even if it was to be this month (April) it is now too late for it to do anything before the next ESFS meeting (Moscow) in May. Ho hum. And so it goes.

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

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


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

Summer 2008


The 30th anniversary of the broadcast of Douglas Adams' Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy was celebrated in London with a party at the Captain's Cabin, West-End London pub. Among those attending were: Paddy Kingsland (who composed the music for parts of the radio series and the TV series); Dirk Maggs, who directed and adapted the last three radio series of HHGTTG and the recent and forthcoming Dirk Gently radio series based on Adams' novels; Michael Cule, who was the Vogon guard on TV in 1981 and in Kevin Davies' 1992 'Making of' documentary; Tony Clark, the an animator; and James Thrift, Douglas Adams' half-brother. Among fans present were those from North America, Germany, Sweden and, yes, Scotland. Fan groups represented of course included 'ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha' and DAC (Douglas Adams Continuum) +++ Then the following Wednesday there was the Sixth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture at the Royal Geographical Society, together with an auction and a raffle. But the highlight was a 30th Anniversary Live Performance of HHGTTG 'Fit the second' by original cast members, Simon Jones (including dressing gown), Geoffrey McGivern (Frod), Susan Sheriden (Trillian), Roger Greg (Eddie), Stephen Moore (Marvin), Philip Pope (Vogon Capt), Michael Cule (Vogon Guard), Geoffrey Perkins (Voice of the Book) and Zaphod was played by Rupert Degas. The performance received a standing ovation and was truly a once in a life time experience.

LOTNA (the London 'sci-fi' media group) celebrated its 10th anniversary with a one-day relaxacon near London Bridge. Games and fan-video screenings enlivened the proceedings and a birthday cake fuelled participants. The evening saw the results of members' votes on sci-fi TV shows that came out in LOTNA's decade. The results were:
          Best TV Show. Winner: Doctor Who.   Runner-ups: Battlestar Galactica and Life On Mars.
          Best Movie. Winner: Transformers.   Runner-ups: Galaxy Quest and Serenity.
          Best Male Character. Winner: The Doctor.   Runner-ups: Captain Malcolm Reynolds and DCI Gene Hunt.
          Best Female Character. Winner: Rose Tyler.   Runner-ups: Sydney Bristow, Aeryn Sun.
          Best Monster, Enemy or Villain. Winner: The Master.   Runner-ups: Daleks, Scorpius.
          Best Music or Theme Tune. Winner: Doctor Who.   Runner-ups: Enterprise and Firefly.
          Best Quote. Winner: DCI Gene Hunt. And the winning quote.... "Drop your weapons, you are surrounded by armed bastards!"
          Best Writer. Winner: Joss Whedon.   Runner-ups: Ron D. Moore and JK Rowling.
          Worst TV Show.   Winner: Andromeda. Runner-ups: Charlie Jade and Torchwood.
          Worst Movie. Winner: Thunderbirds.   Runner-ups: Star Trek: Nemesis and Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.
          Show That Was Cancelled Before Its Time.   Winner: Firefly. Runner-ups: Enterprise and Farscape.
          Most Influential TV Show or Series. Winner: Doctor Who.   Runner-ups: Babylon 5 and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Hatfield PSIFA will be 30 years old this October. PSIFA (the Polytechnic ScIence Fiction & Fantasy Association) was formed in October 1978. It quickly became one of the Polytechnic's most active societies with two or three events held each term-time week. These included weekly meetings of talks and games; a radio show (Radio Free Entropy), wargaming and a fortnightly writers workshop. There were regular fieldtrips to SF conventions and PSIFA alumni can still be found attending UK Eastercons and the occasional Worldcon. PSIFA's newszine Hypo Space was modelled on Hypo (hype of the polytechnic) the Student's Union newspaper. It has even had a series of Shoestringcons and has as its official mascot the Gronk from 2000AD. Time moves on and the polytechnic is now Hertfordshire University but PSIFA continues.

The Sci-Fi London 7th festival of fantastic films highlights announced. Running 30th April - 4th May the Festival will feature a number of premieres including French film Chrysalis - a slick and classy thriller set in Paris in the year 2025, that dives into the depths of murder and moral issues like altering one's mind and dreams in order to become someone else entirely. From Russia there will be Wolfhound, a true hero with a pet bat - no really, the coolest sidekick ever. From Japan Dai Nipponjin, a mocumentary about a fourth generation superhero who is losing his popularity with the public. There will also be the regular items. These will include two all-nighters one will feature anime and include Tekkon Kinkreet and the UK premiere of the amazing Appleseed Ex Machina as well as that of Dante01. There will also be the usual free pub-quiz: huge fun with loads of film clips to identify. Then earlier in the month there is a 48-hour film challenge competition for film makers to make a film on a topic/theme given to them in just two days. This competition has prizes sponsored by Sci-Fi Channel who will also be making a documentary of the teams' efforts. Director John Landis is heading the jury deciding the winning entries.

Third Silver Arrow convention has been held demonstrating that Moscow is rapidly developing as a centre of Russian fandom. This third event now establishes the Silver Arrow as a regular convention series and, though smaller, as such it joins the longer-running Moscow-venued Roskons (of which this year's Eurocon is one). It was held in February two months before the EuRoskon. A couple of hundred attended including half a dozen established writers of mainly fantasy. The programme featured workshops, talks panels and a pop concert. The 2008 Silver Arrow awards were also given as were the Mir Fantastique [Fantasy/Fantastic World] awards.

The 2008 British Eastercon was held with some 1,300 attending. The event consisted of several parallel programme streams of talks, panels, and games over 4 days of the Easter long holiday weekend at the Radisson next to London's Heathrow airport. Guests of Honour were aithors Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, China Mieville, Charles Stross, and SF book dealer Rog Peyton. During the weekend a number of books were either launched or newly launched. These included the BSFA half-century Celebration of professional author short stories (see item below) and a fan collection of essays called What it is we do when we read Science Fiction from the specialist press Beccon Publications (check the afore link out for details). Science included the George Hay memorial lecture given by the European Space Agency's Prof. David Southwood (who like a good number scientists had his interest inspired by SF - in his case 'Dan Dare'), the decline of UK physics, clanger physics and ecology, and an item on 'bioastronomy' by someone vaguely associated with Concatenation (here Jon gives many thanks to Orbital's tech crew providing audiovisuals). Other items included: a half-day writers - and also two drama - workshops; a films of 2007 panel; and genre readings of both fiction and poetry. Discos and a fancy dress parade enlivened the evenings along with the obligatory late night bar. With the number registered in four figures, in terms of attendance if not feelings on the day, this was the most popular Eastercon since 1984 (and that was combined with a Eurocon!). One possible reason for this 24-year record was that from the word go the organisers adopted an inclusive attitude to all forms of SF as opposed to one over another, this despite all but one of the guests had their feet firmly planted in the genre's written form (the exception Neil Gaiman being involved in film as well as writing.) The all-inclusiveness of SF plus science stretched to promotion through London's SF film festival and sci-fi media (TV SF) magazine mentions. The big question is whether the new blood sufficiently enjoyed the event to come back? One (totally unsubstantiated) view is that a number from the SE went (Heathrow being well connected by both rail and underground) as well as a few overseas (due to the convention being next door to the airport?) +++ Assorted random and unweighted attendee comments: programme largely good; real ale bar too cold; real ale kept in good condition (because room was cool); great guests; hotel staff (mainly) tried particularly hard to help in difficult situations; posting of Arthur Clarke's press coverage welcome; Martian race irrelevant; no proper (celluloid/HD proj?) film screenings; video (film) programme not properly integrated into programme; however there was a video prog sheet (albeit separate); helpful that nominated Hugo dramatics in programme (this may have been fortuitous but if so good judgement); no local map (of restaurants just list); no disasters; four days not long enough; mostly well organised... however the programme had a lot of clashes that should have been thought through more clearly; good art show; hotel snack food not good plus expensive; there seem to be a few Americans (a plus); largely smoothly run; registration should open Thursday late afternoon and perhaps some light programming that evening as there were enough there that early; a decidedly better-than-usual Eastercon. +++ Here endeth the totally unscientific analysis.

The 2009 British Eastercon. Next year it is Bradford (halfway between London and Edinburgh) and is called LX. (If you are reading this page in 2008 or 2009 then see our convention diary for summary details and the weblink.)

The 2010 Eastercon will be back in London (Heathrow) -- this year's venue -- and will be called 'Odyssey 2010'. The title reflects that of the book 2010: Odyssey Two by British writer Arthur C. Clarke who died the week before Easter. Guests of Honour are the authors Alastair Reynolds (space opera) and Liz Williams (fantasy) as well as comics script writer Mike Carey. It won the bid unopposed at this year's Eastercon. At the bid session a proposal was made for it to bid at this year's Eurocon (Moscow) in May for it also to be the 2010 Eurocon. If it wins (and here, given this news page goes up in April and our next one is not due until early September, you may already know which country will run the 2010 Eurocon) then Odyssey 2010's organisers will need to upgrade their plans not only to showcase British SF (which all good Eastercons already do) albeit to mainland Europeans, but also to showcase mainland European SF to British Isles SF communities. Hopefully they will have had some idea as to how they will do this before they present their bid in Moscow. (If you are reading this page in 2009 or 2010 then see our convention diary for summary details and the weblink.)

The New Zealand national convention, Conjunction, was held over Easter weekend. Guest author: Philippa Ballantine. Overseas guest author: Peter F. Hamilton (in theory) but Elizabeth Moon stepped into the breach. Media guests: Kate Orman and Jon Blum Dr Who novel writers. Some 110 - 140 attended for a small but well formed convention. Nonetheless it still managed four or five parallel programme streams with at least a choice of two choose from at any one time and frequently three or four things. The evenings were enlivened with film screenings, a fancy dress masquarade and Live Action Role Playing. The high points included a tour to the Karori Wildlife sanctuary. The low point was that it transpired that the hotel was having its lease transferred in three weeks time and so the staff were not always enthusiastic. Worse, this affected the bar's opening hours! In common with the UK Eastercon there was a screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show... Mentioned here because there was probably some international time zone difference, or time warp, between the two conventions but we won't know until we've done it again.   The Sir Julius Vogel Awards were presented following the convention banquet.

Australia's national convention, Swancon, was held over Easter weekend. The programme had five parallel streams of talks and panels. The fancy dress had a few fun aliens in addition to the more fantasy related dress often seen these days not to mention a Dalek whose invasion of Perth was facilitated by bevelled curbs. Science items included one of the practicalities of space travel and one on foresight horizon-scanning. At the con the Ditmar Awards were presented. In addition to the GoHs, DUFF winners Steve and Sue Francis attended.

Italy's 34 national convention, Italcon, was also the ninth Deepcon and held over Easter weekend. Programming began Thursday evening and ran through to Sunday night in two parallel streams. There were: panels on the works of Sturgeon and Lovecraft; a bad science panel (that is the topic was bad science and not the panel bad), science panels on artificial intelligence, living on other worlds and the past and future space opera; and finally a panel on Italian SF women. Talks included: a review of 70 years of Superman; and the charm and mystery of the Egypt. During the convention the Italcon Awards were presented +++ Next year's Deepcon will also be the 2009 Eurocon.

Ukraine's national convention Portal was joined by StarCon. StarCon is a convention of Soviet Fandom veterans dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the First Conference of Soviet Science Fiction Clubs that was held in Kiev, 15th - 19th March 1988. That event formed the face of Soviet Fandom. StarCon is a convention run by old fans for old and new fans with the aim on Fan history. It has its own awards 'Fandom Stars' awarded to fans' fanac that made the greatest contributions to Fandom's development. The joint convention also saw the presentation of the annual Ukrainian Portal Awards but we have not yet got the details. Just prior to the convention Ukraine saw the national launch of a new SF drink.

New Zealand may hold its 2010 national convention the weekend before the Australia Worldcon! Assuming the time travel news is correct and Australia wins its bid at this year's Worldcon to run the 2010 Worldcon then New Zealand is thinking about holding its national convention the weekend beforehand (27th -29th August 2010). It will be called 'Au Contraire'. Should everything fall into place then those going to the Worldcon from the US and Europe could go via New Zealand for a pre-Worldcon convention and a bit of tourism. This is something that Concatenation has been encouraging. It would mean that many from outside Australasia (from North America and Europe) could do two conventions for only a little extra travel cost. Here Europeans would come off best as round-the-World tickets (that allow you to stop off a often as you want provided you continue the same way around the World and with the same airline (airline affiliate group)) are almost the same price as a return Europe to Australia. The advantages are many. Not only do you get two conventions over a 11-day period but:-
          - a chance to acclimatise to the time shift before the Worldcon with a smaller more relaxing event.
          - get an extra chance to see the southern hemisphere star field (handy in case Australia is cloudy... [Sure you joke there sport?])
          - get to go to the planet's most southerly SF national convention.

Terry Pratchett's fans are aiming to match his donation to Alzheimer's research. The target is £500,000 (US$1 million) and it looks as if may well be achieved. Just a couple of weeks following the campaign's launch, and just prior to this pages posting in April, the campaign had almost reached 10% of their target with around £50,000 (US$100,000) raised. Norwescon (in the US), Eastercon/Orbital and ICFA were the first conventions that were able to attempt fundraising. Details on "".

BSFA celebrated its 50th anniversary with a book of original SF short stories. It is called Celebration and is edited by Ian Whates. In addition to an appreciation of the BSFA by Pat Cadigan, there are stories from such SF luminary authors such as Brian Aldiss, Stephen Baxter, Ken MacLeod, Alastair Reynolds, Ian Watson and Liz Williams. One story even is a thinly disguised escapade of one of Concatenation's team members... (If you know us, and you read the story, you will know who. Tea vicar?) And so it goes.

The British SF Association (BSFA) newsletter Matrix is no longer being produced in print form. Matrix has been part of BSFA mailings since 1975. Instead it will have a distinct area on the BSFA website.

Reminder: The British Fantasy Society Awards nominations need to be in by 1st May 2008. Of course if you are reading this after that date there are always future years.

Late news in: Alt.Fiction in Derby, England, is running for the third year in 2008 and takes place on Saturday April 26th. Alt.Fiction is a one-day event drawing together a range of science-fiction, fantasy and horror writers for a mix of readings, panels and workshops across three rooms. This year's leading authors include Michael Marshall Smith, Brian Lumley, Charlie Stross, Mike Carey, Adam Roberts, Ramsey Campbell, Justina Robson and many more. Tickets for the day £20 (£16 concessions). Details

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


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

Summer 2008

NET WATCH reviews mainly fantastic (genre-related) films in the form of vid-casts. The vid-casts themselves feature trailers and a discussion panel. The panel clearly knows their stuff and have thoughtful comments. The only down side is that each cast is a little long. If they trimmed the introduction credits to 10 seconds (about two seconds per panel member), showed a couple of two minute trailers missed in with just 10 minutes of discussion, then it would be much better. Perhaps posting long and short (condensed) versions of each vid cast might be the answer? Nonetheless, now that it is in its third year the panel seem comfortable in their role and for fantastic film buffs this site is one worth checking out.

The children's film The Spiderwick Chronicles has spawned a rather nifty website with lots of game elements. Go on. Give it a whirl. You know you want to.

The Happy Scientist blog. This is one probably only of interest to our core regulars: scientists into SF. OK, so there is little genre content, but it is refreshingly frank about a young scientist's life to which many in academe can relate.



Nothing in this corner this time...


[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 2008



New two billion transistor chip launched. Known as the Tukwila it will be used for high end servers rather than computers. It succeeds a previous high transistor equivalent chip Intel launched in 2006 that had a billion transistors equivalent. Moore's law (that processing power doubles every two years) still holds.

High definition DVD format battle won by Blu-Ray. Toshiba is stopping promoting its HD-DVD format. They will cease manufacturing HD recorders but will, for a while, continue with product support. Toshiba's HD-DVD was supported by NEC, Microsoft and Sanyo as well as Universal and Paramount. Warner Brothers have supported both formats. This leaves the way clear for the Blu-Ray format to be the standard format for high definition DVD discs. Blu-Ray comes from Sony and supported by Dell, Apple, Philips, Panasonic, Hitachi and Samsung as well as 20th Century Fox and Disney. This battle of formats is similar to the one over Betamax, two Philips and VHS video cassette formats in 1977-9. +++ Toshiba were sponsoring Paramount with the HD-DVDs of Star Trek of which season one has come out. Work on re-mastering season two may well stop. +++ The South Korean firm LG has just released a dual format player at the same time as Warner Brothers launch a dual format double-sided disc. +++ Now you know which format discs to buy. As for the player, you could wait a couple of years for the price to come down.


[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 2008


Cosmic fireworks to light up our Galaxy in 20-40 million years. Smith's Cloud is a massive cloud of hydrogen (discovered by Gail Smith in 1963) some 11,000 light years long and 2,500 wide (compared to our galaxy's diameter of 100,000 light years). However it has only just been discovered how it is moving and the answer is that it is coming towards our galaxy hitting the galactic plane at 45 degrees. When it does in 20-40 million years time, the shock waves in the galactic interstellar medium and the hydrogen will set of a period of star formation. These will be big hydrogen stars (without many planets) and they will burn quickly: some with a good probability of ending as supernovae. Smith's Cloud is only some 40,000 light years from Sol (our Sun). Given that our galaxy rotates roughly once in 220 million years we should get a reasonable view. Normally there is only one (big type 1) supernova in our galaxy each year and a couple of other smaller (type 2) ones.

Ultra fast spinning black holes at the centre of galaxies? Super-massive black holes at the centres of most galaxies could be spinning at rates close to (over 90%) the maximum rates allowed by Einstein's theory of relativity. The findings are suggested by observations of nine galaxies using Nasa's Chandra X-ray telescope. These gravity wells could be completing one rotation each day. This may not seem fast but for objects of this size it is extremely rapid and rapidly spinning black hole makes space itself rotate. This frame-drag effect, coupled with gas flowing in towards the black hole, can produce a magnetic field which in turn generates a high-speed jet. In one second these jets release around fifty times the energy radiated by our Sun in one year. Weird time effects near these objects can be expected but then the gravity effects would be troublesome for any appropriately-equiped would-be time traveller.

NASA's MESSENGER (MErcury Surface Space ENvironmental, GEochemical and Ranging) mission flew past Mercury in January. Launched in 2004 it has taken three and a half years to reach Mercury but will take three more following this fly-by before it goes into orbit about the planet in March 2011. The fly-by enabled the probe to use Mercury's gravity to slow itself by 5,000 mph (8,000 km/h) to a speed relative to Mercury's of 16,000 mph (25,000 km/h). Two future fly-bys will slow it further still until it can achieve orbit. Nonetheless this fly-by enabled the probe to take over 1,000 pictures including a part of the surface not seen before. (Mariner 10 could only closely photograph 45% of the planet in its three fly-bys, the last of which was in March 1975.)

The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed industrial contracts for its part of the European, Russian and Japanese 2013 BepiColombo mission to Mercury. Japan and Europe will each build a separate probe. The European one will have 11 instruments that will measure the surface height, detect ground composition and the thin atmosphere as well as photographing the surface in unprecedented detail at higher resolution than ever before. The Japanese part will measure Mercury's magnetic field, which like Earth it has (but which Venus and Mars do not). How a geologically-inert planet can have a magnetic field is a bit of a mystery. A Russian Soyuz-Fregat rocket will launch the mission from the ESA spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana. BepiColombo is named for Giusseppe (Bepi) Colombo, a 20th Century researcher from the University of Padua, Italy, who studied Mercury.

British astronomers must present their case to Government if they are to stave off funding cuts, says head of UK astronomy funding body (the Science & Technology Facilities Council). The STFC has an £80m (US$160m) funding shortfall over the next three-year budget period to 2011. Despite a growing economy, the Government faces a big bill for conflicts in the Middle East and a forthcoming large bill of it goes ahead with citizen ID plans. UK Government-funded civil science overall has benefited but the winners have been in biotechnology and biomedicine: astronomy and physics have not fared so well given their international commitments. This has put the squeeze on some projects and funds to individual researchers. +++ This topic was discussed by a panel at this year's UK Eastercon, Orbital,. Further details on BBC science.

NASA discovers that neutrinos made up 10% of early Universe just after Big Bang. Full story here.


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

Summer 2008


Artificial life assembled! The complete genome for a bacterium has been chemically assembled in the lab. The work was done at the Craig Venter Institute in the US and is the next step beyond genome sequencing. (Venter was behind the US private half of the first human genome sequencing, the other half being funded by the British Wellcome Trust.) The next steps (not yet undertaken) will be to insert it into a bacterium that has had its own DNA (chromosome) removed and then given a small electric shock to trigger it into life. The bacterium species who genome was assembled was Mycoplasma genitalium but the artificially assembled bacterium is being called Mycoplasma JCVI-1.0 to distinguish it from the natural original. +++ 'Artificial life' is the artificial copying and assembling of natural genomes. This should be distinguished from 'synthetic life' as that is the creation and assembly of genes into a completely new organism. +++ In terms of how fast this area of biology is developing, the draft human genome sequence was published in 2001. An artificial version of the polio virus was assembled in 2002.

British stem cell Bill under attack from Catholics -- see story in our Interface: Science and SF section below.

Homo floresiensis has cousins. Remains of small humans have been found on the island of Palau roughly 2,000 miles NE of Flores. Story here.

Human deaths from bird flu (H5N1) top 100 in Indonesia. Bird flu rumbles on it is reported. +++ Well, we have been citing this concern as one of our New Year predictions for some time now (for example see below here). The global pandemic has not taken place but the issue remains. Mutation is just a question of time.


[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 2008


Forthcoming Science Fiction book and graphic novel releases

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


Sideways in Crime edited by Lou Anders, Solaris, pbk, £10.99 / US$15.00. 978-1-844-1-6566-7.
A collection of SF shorts all with the theme of crime. Contributors include: Baxter, McDevitt, Roberson and Stirling. So it should be good. (We previously reviewed this Anders edited collection Fast Forward 1.)

Metal Swarm by Kevin J. Anderson, Pocket, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-10416-5-0291-3.
This is the 6th in the Seven Suns space opera. Two of us have reviewed a couple of the series before. See: A Forest of Stars: The Saga of the Seven Suns II and Hidden Empire: The Saga of the Seven Suns.

Hilldiggers by Neal Asher, Tor (UK), pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-4-4153-7.
The paperback release of last year's hardback. We have reviewed Asher twice before: see Cowl and Line of Polity.

The Line War by Neal Asher, Tor (UK), hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-1-405-0-5501-7.
Asher space opera thriller with agent Cormac.

Weaver by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-8229-8.
The alternate time-line series brings us up to World War II and an England about to be invaded by Nazi Germany. Right from the start we meet a time messenger! (See Emperor: Time's Tapestry Book One, Conqueror: Time's Tapestry Book Two and Navigator: Time's Tapestry Book Three)

The Machineries of Joy by Ray Bradbury, PS Publishing, Slip cased hrdbk / hrdbk, £50 (US$100) / £20 (US$40). ISBN 978-1-905-8-3441-9 / 978-1-905-8-3440-2.
This is a collection of shorts from N. America's living grandfather of science fantasy. Now it has been in print before but not for some years. Possibly it might have last appeared in the British Isles in 2000 from Earthlight (Simon and Schuster), which of course was back in the days when S&S had a bit of a name for SF (see review here). Nor has it been out for a while in N. America. So it is time to check you collection and see if you have it.

Kethani by Eric Brown, Solaris, pbk, £10.99 / US$15.00. ISBN 978-1-844-1-6473-8.
Aliens visit Earth bearing gifts. Oh goody. And unwrapping them what do we have...? Immortality! Whoopeee. Or is it? (previously we have reviewed these from Eric Brown: Helix, New York Blues, New York Nights and Penumbra.)

The Mammoth Book of Best New New SF edited by Gardner Dozois & Pete Duncan, Robinson, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-845-2-9424-3.
Now this is one you'll either really want to get or alternatively could easily miss. The 'Best of' series edited by Dozois tries to be all things to all people and showcase the best across the genre. This is absolutely fantastic if your genre tastes are broad. Conversely if you are more specialised then the value becomes limited. So depending on your tastes rush out and get this or pass on by. Of course if you have been collecting the series over the years there is no point other than to find out (should you care) what Dozois considers the best of the best. +++ We think that this might have been published in the US as The Best of the Best which features short novels(?). As there are more than one volume of this it may be that Mammoth will also bring out a companion volume(?).

Infoquake by Davids Louis Edelman, pbk, £7.99, Solaris. ISBN 978-1-844-1-6645-9.
A cyberpunkish novel and Book One of the Jump 225 trilogy. This came out in North America from Pyr back in 2006 and now available over here.

Omega by Christopher Evans, PS Publishing, hrdbk, £50 / US$100. ISBN 978-1-906-3-0166-4.
This is a limited, high-quality production release of just 200 copies. There are apocalyptic rumours from the Eastern front which, in this timeline, sees Britain and Nazi Germany join forces to combat communism.

Principles of Angels by Jaine Fenn, Gollancz, hrdbk / trd pbk, £18.99 / £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-8291-5 / 978-0-575-0-8292-2.
This is a debut novel from a Brit author concerning a future city split between the privileged and a dark underworld.

Stealing Light by Gary Gibson, Tor (UK), pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-552-1-5490-1.
Larry Nivenesque 'Known Space' type space opera that our Tony quite liked and Jonathan liked even more. See this review andthis one too.

Night Work by Thomas Glavinic & John Brownjohn, Cannongate, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-847-6-7051-9.
The last man alive...

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Alan Grant and Cam Kennedy, Barrington Stoke, trd pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-842-9-9568-6.
This is a graphic novel adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 SF classic.

Death's Head by David Gun, Bantam, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-553-8-1871-0.
This is an action thriller but apparently it also has an SF riff.

The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton, Pan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-4-4302-9.
This is set in Hamilton's Commonwealth universe.

Cowboy Angels, by Paul McAuley, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-8223-6.
A page-turning thriller across multiple alternate Earths as a former agent tracks down a rogue colleague. Brilliantly handled. Great SFnal treatment. One of our recommendations for top SF book of 2007. Tony liked it as did Jonathan.

Da-Da-De-Da-Da Code by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-8227-4.
The comedic genre author strikes again. Click on title link for review which is perhaps a little understated as a good number of us like Rankin lots, but then we like sprouts. (Other Rankins previously reviewed include: The Brightonomicon and The Toyminator.)

The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0575-0-8218-2.
The latest novel now in paperback from the excellent 'Revelation Space' series. We rated this as one of the best SF novels published in the British Isles last year.Tony's done a full review here. Other Reynolds reviews on this site include: Century Rain, Chasm City, Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, Galactic North, Pushing Ice (hardback) , Pushing Ice (paperback) , Redemption Ark , Revelation Space and Revelation Space (2nd review) .

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, hdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7717-1
Dazzling deep-time space opera. Abigail Gentian splits herself into a thousand clones that spread throughout the Galaxy to periodically reunite to exchange memories. Two of them commit the serious crime of missing a reunion and, worse, are in love. If things cannot be bad enough, six million years into their mission they find that someone is out to kill off the Gentian line... This looks positively gripping and up to Reynold's cosmological best. Our Tony to review shortly.

The Collected Stories by Vernor Vinge, Souvenir, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-285-6-3821-1.
OK, SF book buffs, pay attention! This is Vernor's first collection of all his stories since 1965 with two new ones thrown in for good measure. He has written some cracking hard SF as well as space opera novels including the recent Hugo-winning Rainbows End.

Judge Dredd: The Henry Flint Collection by Wagner, Flint et al, 2000AD, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-905-4-3764-1.
This is a full-colour graphic comic-strip collection of Dredd stories drawn by the very able Henry Flint. A real must for 2000AD regulars.

Young Death: Boyhood of a Superfiend by Wagner, Doherty et al, 2000AD, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-905-4-3765-8.
The origins of Judge Death are revealed in this full-colour graphic novel which brings together the strips first serialised in the Judge Dredd Megazine back in 1990. This is the third time these adventures have been collected: in 1992 there was a Mandarin edition and in the late 1990s a Hamlyn edition, but this 2008 edition is in the new, more compact, 2000AD, graphic novel format. Full review here.

Saturn Returns by Sean Williams, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-841-4-9519-4.

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

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


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

Summer 2008

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie, Gollancz, hrdbk / trd pbk, £9.99 / £18.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-7789-8 / 978-0-575-0-7790-4
This is book 3 of the 'First Law' trilogy. At 512 pages for a large format book this is a good-sized story. Given that the earlier books seem to have established a certain niche, Gollancz can probably be quietly confident that this one will do reasonably well. See our reviews of The Blade Itself and Before They Are Hanged.

The Mammoth Book of Extreme Fantasy edited by Mike Ashley, Robinson, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-845-2-9806-7.
Goodness knows what 'extreme' fantasy is? However Mike Ashley as a collector editor has a good reputation so there are bound to be some good shorts in this one.

Mr B. Gone by Clive Barker, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-2-7628-8.
A demon has been trapped in a book buried by the historic father of printing Gutenberg back in 1438. Our Tony likes Clive. See reviews of: Abarat , Abarat II: Days of Magic, Nights of War, Coldheart Canyon and Galilee.

The Ninth Circle by Alex Bell, Gollancz, hrdbk / trd pbk, £18.99 / £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-8026-3 / 978-0-575-0-8027-0.
An amnesiac awakes in a pool of his own blood and a pile of money. Not knowing who he is he can speak many languages, go without food and sleep for three days and fight with extraordinary prowess. Events lead to the age-old conflict between demons and angels... Gollancz bill this as Neil Gaiman meets The Bourne Identity.

Darth Wraith of Shannara by Terry Brooks, Orbit, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-841-4-9638-2.
Apparently a manga graphic novel.

Heat Stroke by Rachel Caine, Allison & Busby, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-749-0-7921-5.

Penny Devil by Alan Campbell, Tor (UK), hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-1-405-9036-0.
This is the sequel to the Deepgate Codex.

Thieving Fear by Ramsey Campbell, PS Publishing, hrdbk, £50 / US$100. ISBN 978-1-906-3-0196-5.
A good quality production, as you would expect from PS Publishing, for Britain's living grandfather of horror.

Voice of the Gods by Trudi Canavan, Orbit, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-841-4-9517-0.

Derik's Bane by Mary Janice Davidson, Piatkus, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-749-9-3882-6.
Having looked at other horror monster trope, this is Davidson's first were-wolf story.

Heaven's Net is Wide by Lian Hearn, Picador, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-4-4745-4.
This is a stand-alone novel but is set before the events of Across the Nightingale Floor.

Hunters' Moon by David Devereux, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-8224-3.

The Twisted Citadel by Sara Douglas, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-2-7039-2.
Book 2 of the 'dark glass mountain' series.

Reaper's Gale by Steven Erikson, Bantam, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-553-8-1316-6.
Book 7 of Malazan book of the fallen series. It's quite a year for Erikson of which the UK paperback release of Reaper's is just a part. See above author news.

Toll The Hounds by Steven Erikson, Bantam Press, hdbk. ISBN 978-0-593-0-4637-1.
This is book 8 in the Malazan book of the fallen series and the release coincides with a UK author tour.

Night of Knives by Ian C. Esslemont, Bantam, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-553-8-1829-1.
This is set in the Malazan Empire world of
Steve Erikson. Now, though Erikson is most associated with Malazan, it was in fact jointly created by Erikson and Esslemont. It gave the Empire its name, but the tiny island and city of Malaz is now a back-water port. However tonight things are a little different. Tonight its residents are bustling about, barring doors and shuttering windows. Because tonight a once-in-a-generation Shadow Moon is due and threatens the good citizens of Malaz with demon hounds and other, darker, beings... It was prophesied that on this night the Emperor Kellanved will return. As factions battle over the imperial throne, the Shadow Moon summons an ancient presence for an assault upon the island. Indeed the cataclysmic events that happen tonight will determine the fate of the Malaz and of the world beyond...

Troy: Fall of Kings by David & Stella Gemmell, Corgi, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-552-1-5113-9.
The family have done a great job of concluding the trilogy following Gemmell's untimely death. Apparently the sales of the trilogy have been roughly double the usual Gemmell run. Gemmell's Shield of Thunder is reviewed here.

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman, Penguin, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-141-0-30777-7.
The advanced publicity is sparse and confusing. We think that this might be a novelization or some sort of spin-off of the possible return of The Champions reported last time. (Unfortunately we are just about to post this page but we will see of we can find out for next time.)

Romancing the Dead by Tate Hallaway, Review, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-755-3-3659-3.
This is the third in the 'tall, dark and dead' series.

The Harlequin by Laurell K. Hamilton, Orbit, pbk, £7.97. ISBN 978-1-841-4-9321-3.

Midnight Moon by Lori Handeland, Pan, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-330-4-5134-5.
Paranormal romance (which makes it sound decidedly kinky and it probably is).

Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-8220-5.
Supernatural thriller from the US author of Grave Sight and Grave Surprise that have done quite well in North America.

Where Demons Dare by Kim Harrison, Voyager, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-2-4780-6.
Light horror thriller. A pacey and addictive novel of racey, bounty-hunting witches, cunning demons and vicious vampires. Other Kim Harrison titles are reviewed here: Dead Witch Walking, Every Which Way But Dead , A Fistful of Charms and The Good The Bad and the Undead.

The Séance by John Harwood, Jonathan Cape, hdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-224-0-8186-3.
This is from the author of The Ghost Writer. Young Constantine takes his mother to a spiritualist as a way of comfort after she lost a young child. However in additon to apparitions, murder and blackmail ensue.

The Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-8186-4.
This is the paperback release of last year's hardback. Our Tony certainly recommends this as a creditable debut as did this year's World Horror Convention with a Bram Stoker Award.

Renegade's Magic: Book 3 of the Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb, Voyager, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-007-1-9619-7.
Need any more be said. Hobb has a sound following. See also...

Renegade's Magic: Book 3 of the Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-1-9620-3.
The paperback of the above trade paperback. (Important news if shelf space is a problem.)

The Kingdom Beyond the Waves by Stephen Hunt, Voyager, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-007-1-9619-7.
Fantasy on the Victorian high seas.

King of Ithica by Glyn Iliff, Macmillan, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-2-305-2923-6.
Now this is a sort of novelization of the ancient Greek adventures of Odysseus and apparently the author is a classics academic!

The Shadow Isles by Katherine Kerr, Voyager, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-007-2-6892-4.
The penultimate novel in Kerr's epic fantasy series, the interweaving tale of human and elvish history of several hundred years, and many reincarnated lives, comes full circle.

Devil May Cry by Sherrilyn Keynon, Piatkus, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-749-9-3874-1.

The Twilight Herald by Tom Lloyd, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-8228-1.
This is the sequel to The Stormcaller and the second in the 'Twilight Reign' sequence.

The Twilight Watch by Sergei Lukyanenkow, Arrow, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-4-8994-8.
This follows on from The Day Watch and The Night Watch. The publicity that has come our way by, truth be told, a rather a circuitous route suggests that this is the conclusion to the trilogy. Actually this is not so as there have been more 'Watch' books published in Russia but this might signal the end of Lukyanenko's British print releases? We hope not.

Sex and the Single Vampire by Katie MacAlister, Hodder, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-340-9-5198-9.
Not that you can imagine a vampire entering into holy wedlock... This follows on from A Girl's Guide to Vampires. Tipped to sell well?

Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire, Review, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-755-3-4156-6.
This is the sequel to Wicked.

Dreamsongs 2 by George R. R. Martin, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-752-8-9009-8.
George R. R. Martin has a substantial fantasy following acquired over a number of decades. This is a second collection of his shorter works and includes 32 short stories plus 2 TV scripts as well as a forward from Martin himself.

Hunter's Run by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-2-6022-5.

Un Lun Dun by China Miéville, Pan, pbk. ISBN 978-0-330-4-5347-9.
This is a new take on the Lewis Carol type of fantasy. Though it is aimed more for a teenage market, fans of China -- and he has a select following -- should enjoy this too.

Dragonforge by James Maxey, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. 978-1-844-1-6644-2.
Humans have been ruled by somewhat tyrannical dragons and seek vengeance. But can the two species live in harmony? Bet you a donner kebab...

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips, Vintage, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-5-1302-5.
This is a debut novel that reportedly has undertones of Doug Adams.

Making Money by Terry Pratchett, Corgi, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-552-1-5490-1.
This is the paperback release of last year's Doubleday hardback. Our Graham whole-heartedly recommends this as did many others.

The Hollow by Nora Roberts, Piatkus, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-749-9-3885-7.
This is the second in the 'sign of seven' trilogy.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-8140-6.
This is a debut novel.

Harry Potter the Box Set!!!, Bloomsbury, pbk, £59.99.
Yes, with new cover artwork and collected into a magical box, here are all seven of the Potter novels.

The Devil's Labyrinth by John Saul, Pan Macmillan, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-230-7-0218-9.

Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Pan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-230-7-0413-8.
This is the launch of a fantasy series.

The Children of Húrin by J. R. R. Tolkien, HarperCollins, pbk. ISBN ???
With the hardback and special editions out, now you can get hold of the mass market paperback. Set in Middle Earth 6,000 years before The Lord of the Rings , the epic tale of The Children of Húrin will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with elves and men, dragons and dwarves, eagles and orcs, and the rich landscape and characters unique to Tolkien. Begun by J.R.R. Tolkien at the end of the First World War, The Children of Húrin became the dominant story in his later work on Middle-earth. But he could not bring it to a final and finished form. In this book Christopher Tolkien has constructed, after long study of the manuscripts, a coherent narrative without any editorial invention. The story relates the brief and passionate lives of Túrin and his sister Niënor who are caught up in a great war between the immortal Elves and Morgoth, the first Dark Lord. The siblings are cursed as the children of Húrin, the only man to have defied Morgoth to his face. It is a tragic tale of brutal conquest and flight, of forest hiding-places and pursuit, of resistance with lessening hope, and of a huge wingless dragon of fire, Glaurung, sent to fulfil the curse of Morgoth and destroy the children of Húrin. This is Tolkien at his darkest.

Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-575-0-8267-0.

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

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


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

Summer 2008

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

Star Sight: The Story of Astronomy by Peter Aughton, Quercus, hdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-847-2-4186-3.
A good introduction to, and overview of, astronomy's history.

Cosmic Imagery: Key Images in the History of Science by John Barrow, Bodley Head, hdbk, £20.00. ISBN 978-0-224-0-7523-7.
A delightful coffee table book containing pictures ranging from 16th century prints through to those from the Hubble Space Telescope. Each print is accompanied by explanatory text from Barrow. Scientist Barrow is himself known for some interesting science writing.

Wholly Irresponsible Exploits: 65 Ways to Muck About With Science by Sean Connolly, Icon, pbk, £9.99. ISBN: 978-1-840-4-6895-3.
Note: This is mucking about with science and not mucking science about. This book is huge fun, probably slightly irresponsible, and destined to enable you -- should you be brave enough -- to create sheer mayhem at home in the name of progress and personal education.

Wholly Irresponsible Experiments: Science That'll Blow You Away by Sean Connolly, Icon, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-840-4-6876-2.
See the previous book's comment. This delivers on the title.

Science and Religion by Thomas Dixon, Oxford University Press, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-199-2-9551-7.

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre, Fourth Estate, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-007-2-4019-7.
Clinician Ben Goldacre is also a journalist exposing the dodgy way science is sometimes presented by those making a fast buck from fraudulent alternative therapists (as opposed to those that are honest and there are some) to the media. We have referred to his weekly coverage for some seasons now, such as below. This book will bring both a smile to your face at the audaciousness of some folk trying to pull the wool over our eyes and despair. Highly recommended to all concerned with the difference between science fact and fictional science. Those who are not scientists but have an interest in science will also begin to understand about some of real science's defining characteristics. Hugely recommended.

Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?: From Science to the Supernatural, the Many Mysteries of Indiana Jones by Lois Gresh & Robert Weinberg, John Wiley, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-470-2-2556-1.
This is timed to come out ready for the next Indy film.

The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson, Bodley Head, hdbk, £20.00. ISBN 978-0-224-0-7196-3.
Alright, so you may disagree with the ten experiments chosen (especially if you are a scientist) but -- if not 'the most beautiful' -- these are ten good ones that also led to significant progress.

A Portable Universe by Christopher Potter, Hutchinson, hdbk. ISBN 978-0-091-7-9688-4.
This is written as if the universe was a person needing an autobiography.

Future World from The Science Museum, Boxtree, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-752-2-2672-9.
This has been billed as how SF has merged with reality. The Science Museum is the Science Museum, London Kensington (which is well worth a visit as is the Natural History Museum next door if you ever get to London -- both have free entry). We have not seen this and the advance publicity does not really give a flavour as to what this is about so we are hesitant to recommend it to seasoned science fact and fiction Concateneers as it may be aimed to a more general public if not a young-ish readership. If we get a copy then we will review it.

Heredity and Hope: The Case for Genetic Screening by Ruth Schwartz Cowan, Icon???, hdbk, £18.95. ISBN 978-0-674-0-2424-3.
Eugenics has been a dirty word ever since an Austrian painter got uppity in the last century. Many do not even know what the term really means. Time then to start to get real and Ruth Schwartz does an excellent job. Now if you find the idea of genetic screening distasteful then you owe it to yourself -- assuming you are a clear thinker -- to weigh the actual evidence and not be blindly swayed by the historic hysteric hype. This book is a great start.

Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial by Simon Singh and Edzard Erntz, Bantam Press, hdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-593-0-6129-9.
This is a hard-nosed examination of the pros and cons of 'alternative medicine'. An absolute must for all clinicians (medical doctors) and health carers, as well as of interest to those into the way science is used and sometimes abused as well as how the public can be taken in. Simon Singh has written for New Scientist.

The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical Journey Around Your Head by Raymond Tallis, Atlantic, hdbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-1-843-5-4669-6.
This examines your brain and the physical anatomy of your head including excretions from spit to snot.

Brian now has autographed copies of -- 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 signed copies by the authors. E-mail Brian (follow the Porcupine Books link) first to check availability. If you enjoy Concat then you can support us by getting this book either for yourself or a friend and there are postage discounts for getting more than one copy and a further discount is available if buying several for an SF group or SF class.


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

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


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

Summer 2008

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Primeval: Extinction Event by Dan Abnett, Titan Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-845-9-6691-4.
Spin-off novel from the British TV series about rents in space time that allow animals into the present from the past and future.

Dr Who: Revenge of the Judoon by Terrance Dicks, BBC Books, pbk, £1.99. ISBN ?.
This is the third of the 'Dr Who Quick Reads' series that have sold reasonably well.

BBC Dr Who e-books FREE!. The BBC have a special offer. Click here while the offer lasts.

Jumper by Steven Gould, Harper Voyager, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-007-2-7599-1.
We should have listed this last time as it came out back in February but we were told after last season's posting. (These things happen.) This is the novel on which the new 20th Century Fox film Jumper is based. Davy discovers that he has the ability to teleport (jaunt / leap / jump) himself instantaneously from place to place. However others notice this and Davy realises that he is being hunted... This novel first came out in North America back in 1992 but it has never before been published in the British Isles or, as far as we know, in Europe. He has written five other novels so whether we will see more of him this side of the Pond probably depends on how well this title sells. In the acknowledgement Gould cites Alfred (working class) Bester, Robert Heinlein and Larry Niven as well as Star Trek as exemplars of the teleportation trope to which he hopes he does justice; so the guy is well steeped in the genre. We hope to do a stand-alone review of this shortly. +++ Here is the review of the novel Jumper. +++ See also below.

Jumper: Griffin's Story by Steven Gould, Harper Voyager, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-007-2-7600-4.
Further to the above book this is a spin-off, spin-off novelizations of the film of the above book. That is to say this is not the novelizations of the film but the prequel back story to one of the film's characters. Got that? Anyway we have a stand-alone review here of Jumper: Griffin's Story.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, by author?, Ebury, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-091-9-2667-0.
Novelization of the latest Indiana Jones film. Need we say more?

Indiana Jones, The Adventures of... by author?, Bantam, pbk, £7.99. ISBN ?.
Published with the May release of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. With his battered leather jacket, Fedora and bullwhip, Indiana Jones has gone in search of adventure, confronted danger and unearthed a wealth of ancient treasures... In Raiders of the Lost Ark, the archaeologist journeys from Nepal to Cairo to the Mediterranean, dodging poisons, traps and snakes, battling rivals old and new in pursuit of an ancient artefact that holds the key to power. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom finds our intrepid hero in a village in India, where a shaman tells him that his arrival has been foreseen and that he must retrieve a stolen mystical stone. And finally, Indy faces the most challenging endeavour of his life: to rescue his estranged father from a Nazi's lair, and recover the legendary Holy Grail. Yet Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade doesn't mean the adventure is over.

Dr Who: The Many Hands by Dale Smith, BBC Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-846-0-7422-6.

Dr Who: Martha in the Mirror by Justin Richards, BBC Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-846-0-7420-2.

Dr Who: Snow Globe 7 by Mike Tucker, BBC Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-846-0-7421-9.

Dr Who: Starships and Space Stations by Justin Richards, BBC Books, trd pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-846-0-7423-3.

Star Wars: Legacy of the Force IX: Invincible by Denning Troy, Century, hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-1-844-9-6692-4.


[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 2008


Alice in Wonderland £9.99 from Eureka
The 1972 dramatization of the English classic modern-ish fable is now available in DVD format.

Beowulf £17.99 from Warner
Loosely based on the old English poem cum legend with a bit of Neil Gaiman prose added, this is a special effects rich romp of our hero battling a monster that has been terrorising a small village. Now really you should go to a cinema and see this in glorious 3-D, but if you don't want to then this 2-D small screen version will have to do. It's in our annual top film chart.

Black Sheep £19.99 from Icon
Yes this is currently a little pricey but that is because it is an independent and also a good one from New Zealand where it has just won a Vogel. A delightful comedy-horror in the zoozomb vein where carnivorous sheep go on the rampage. Director Jonathan King. It is in our annual top film chart. It may get cheaper later in the year?

A Clockwork Orange £15.99 from Warner
Kubrick's other SF classic (to 2001 see below). This one concerns an attempt at brainwashing rebellious and criminal youth but things go a tad wrong. The response from the self-righteous about copy-cat criminal acts back in the 1970s caused Kubrick to withdraw the film from circulation in the UK: a ban that survived until the director died.

Earth £19.99 from Lionsgate
This is the feature-length version of the recent Beeb Beeb Ceeb wildlife documentary. Not only that but it is also available in Blu-Ray high definition format. Spectacular.

Enchanted £19.99 from Walt Disney
More for younger viewers, a fairytale princess is transported to present-day New York. Walt Disney sugar certainly but this does have sufficient depth to be a cut above some other of Disney's recent offerings. It certainly did something to Worldcon fans (mainly North Americans) who have nominated it for a Hugo Award.

The Phantom Carriage £15.99 from Tartan.
Victor Sjostrom's classic silent horror from the 1920s. A must for serious fantastic film buffs.

Tales From Earthsea £18.99 from Optimum.
This is a Japanese cartoon/anime version of Ursula LeGuin's teenage classic about young Jed who discovers he has magical potential and who wonders why dragons are starting to appear in the humans' realm. Note: This is not the live-action version that Ursula LeGuin complained about from Sci Fi Channel (see piece in summer 2005 news). This rendition of Earthsea comes from Hayao Miyazaki's son, Goro Miyazaki, and is a two DVD disc set.

Stanley Kubrick -- Box Set £59.99 from Warner.
This box set features A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Shining, as well as non-genre Kubrick films Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut. In addition there is a feature-length documentary about the man.

The Shining £15.99 from Warner
Kubrick's swing at horror. A family go to caretake a luxury mountain hotel during the winter. They think they are alone but more than memories linger...

Southland Tales £19.99 from Universal
Richard Kelly's chaotic and confusing offering that came after his cult success Donnie Darko. Now normally when mundane reviewers say that a genre offering is confusing this simply means that they don't get it. Truth be told none of the core Concat team have seen this yet. However some genre critics have also been less than kind. Make of this what you will.

Stardust £19.99 from Paramount.
Neil Gaiman's light-fantasy novel. Lover promises to fetch a falling star from a walled off realm. Film stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert de Niro. It is in our annual top film chart.

2001: A Space Odyssey £15.99 from Warner.
Inspired by an Arthur Clarke short story and made with Clarke's involvement, this is director Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece of SF that has topped a number of genre polls. Now if you did not know it, it is a future story of first contact by a crew to Jupiter. Only in a few minor details does the film betray that it was made around 50 years ago and the visuals remain absolutely stunning. Oldie Brits will also thrill to the fleeting appearance (and dialogue/mannerisms) of Brit TV's Rising Damp's 'Rigsby' and 'Reggie Perrin' (actor Leonard Rossiter) on the orbiting station, while UFO's 'Ed Straker' (actor Ed Bishop who also did the voice of 'Captain Blue') is the Earth-orbit to Moon shuttle pilot. If have not seen 2001 (and some youngsters visiting this might not have) and you are a serious SF aficionado into hard SF, as opposed to only the whiz-bang tinsel of pop sci-fi, then you are in for a real treat. However if, for example, the last trilogy of Star Wars films greatly stimulated your imagination (as opposed to being a bit of passing fun) then you may find aspects of 2001 a little incomprehensible. (We thought it only fair to warn you.) +++ See also Clarke R.I.P. below.

Wild Palms £9.99 from Fremantle.
The 1993 cyberpunk-ish mini-TV series co-produced by Oliver Stone (who did Twin Peaks). A complex tale of virtual reality, TV broadcasting and (techno-enhanced) religion. The news of this DVD release (especially at the price) will be hugely welcome by the show's fans. The show itself is either one you will love or could easily live without. If you enjoy Twin Peaks and William Gibson novels then you are most likely to be in the former camp. Incidentally William Gibson has a cameo playing himself.

Yella £18.99 from Artificial Eye.
A mystifying boardroom thriller from Germany, but is something supernatural lurking in the background...?

See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in 2008, 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 2008


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

Richard Baer, the US script writer, has died aged 79. His genre work included episodes of The Munsters and Bewitched.

Joe Beedell, the UK SF fan, has died. He was known in Southend where he founded the local SF group Orion in 1982.

Ray Bradbury, the British SF fan, has died aged 57. Not to be confused with the US author, Ray was sometimes known in fandom as 'the fake Ray Bradbury' or 'the other Ray Bradbury'. He was a long-standing member of the Birmingham SF group and regular at the autumnal Novacon. He will be missed by all members of these groups.

Al Curry, the US fan and editor of the fanzine Gnomenclature, has died aged 58.

Arthur C. Clarke, the British writer, died Tuesday 19th March at 20.00 GMT (01.30 local Sri Lankan time) nominally of respiratory complications and heart failure but in actuality of old age: he was 90. His death was reported on UK national news. The morning (British time) following Clarke's death was the second most topic the public e-mailed the BBC's website and there were still occasional items on national and TV radio being broadcast the rest of the week. Clarke knew he had not long to go and recently marked his 90th with a video message (see last time for the link to the message). Here Clarke signed off with a quote from Kipling:
          If I have given you delight
          By aught that I have done,
          Let me lie quiet in that night
          Which shall be yours anon:
          And for that little, little span
          The dead are borne in mind,
          Seek not to question other than
          The books I leave behind.

          His funeral was attended by brother Fred and featured music from 2001: A Space Odyssey. There was a nationwide minute's silence in Sri Lanka coinciding with the ceremony.
          Clarke's books will, of course be well-known to our regulars, but for casual visitors and our younger readers here are (just some) key titles you may want to check out: Childhood's End (1953) concerning alien's landing on Earth and human evolution; The City and the Stars (1956) concerning the last city on Earth; Rendez-vous With Rama (1973) about a human space mission's encounter with an alien craft passing through the Solar System; and The Fountains of Paradise (1979) his space elevator novel. Arguably his most famous themed collection of short stories is Tales from the White Hart (1957) -- loved by SF fans as the pub meetings still exist -- and then for a non-themed collection there is Tales of Ten Worlds (1963). Naturally there is the novelization of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey for which Clarke provided the screenstory with director Stanley Kubrick. A new version of the DVD has just been released see earlier. Before his death Clarke had finished collaborating with Stephen Baxter on a third part to the 'Time's Odyssey' duology (making it a trilogy) with First Born, as well as the novel The Last Theorem co-authored with Frederik Pohl a US author who (as again our regulars will know) himself is of considerable genre standing. This last will be published by Gollancz in the autumn. Gollancz also has plans to re-publish some of Clarke's backlist as well as repackage Rendezvous With Rama and The City and the Stars. +++ The BBC's obituary is here and some of Clarke's predictions are here. +++ Those with access to an academic library can check out the lead editorial on Clarke in Nature's 27th March 2008 edition (vol. 452, p387). +++ Britain's national convention in 2010 is named Odyssey after Clarke's book 2010: Odyssey Two.
          A giant of British Science Fiction, if not the World of SF, has just left our planet.

Bill Idelson, the US scriptwriter, has died aged 87. His writing credits include episodes of Bewitched, The Flintstones, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and The Twilight Zone episode 'Long Distance Call'. He was also an actor whose genre appearances included episodes of My Favourite Martian and The Twilight Zone.

Steve Gerber, the US comics creator and editor, has died aged 60. Starting off as a young comics fan, he turned professional and became an associate editor at Marvel. He is most famous for creating in 1976 'Howard the Duck', a satirical comic character, duck alien who finds himself on Earth. In 1986 a cinematic version of Howard was brought to the big screen by one George Lucas. The film was atrocious: it did not match up to Gerber's vision and deservedly failed at the box office.

Gary Gygax, the war games designer and co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, has died aged 69.

Frank Hamilton, the US artist, has died aged 89. In addition to original art he recreated Doc Savage and Shadow magazine covers.

Christine Haycock, the US fan, has died aged 84. She was also the widow of Sam Moskowitz.

Edward D. Hoch, the US author, has died aged 77. He is mainly known for detective stories but has written three SF novels.

Janet Kagan, the US author, has died aged 61. She is arguably best known for Hellspark.

Joshua Lederberg, the first exobiologist and a Nobel winner, has died aged 82. Working on Esherichia coli, he demonstrated that bacteria can have sexual reproduction and so gave a valuable research tool to genetic and biotechnological research. He also demonstrated that plasmids (ring-shaped DNA quasi bacterial equivalents to chromosomes) are capable of autonomous reproduction and can be transferred between bacteria. As such it became possible to get bacteria to produce industrial amounts of insulin and hepatitis B virus vaccine. This work led to Joshua getting a Nobel in 1958. But he was also interested in biology and space and coined the term 'exobiology' (which was commonly used before recent grant-seeking, trend-setters re-branded with 'astrobiology'). He was concerned about the Earth's biosphere being contaminated by extraterrestrial organisms which was why the first returning lunar astronauts went into quarantine. He also worked on the Mars Viking lander experiments. Finally his fascination with science was regularly passed on to the public with his 'Science and Man' columns in The Washington Post. In 2006 he was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Anthony Minghella, the K scriptwriter, has died aged 54 and probably best known to genre aficionados for scripting and directing the ghost story film Truly, Madly, Deeply.

Barry Morse, the British-born Canadian actor, has died aged 89. With regards to his genre-related work, as Prof. Victor Bergman he was the sole-saving grace of Space 1999 (season one only but the models were also nifty) and he was in The Martian Chronicles mini-series. He also had guest roles in episodes of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. His genre films included From Beyond the Grave (starring with Peter Cushing no less).

Malia Nurmi, the Finn born actress, has died aged 86. She was 'Vampira' the TV horror show host of The Vampira Show and appeared in Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Derek Pickles, the British SF fan, has died aged 79 just shy of his 80th birthday. He edited his leading fanzine Phatasmagoria in the first half of the 1950's that his notable for containing author John Brunner's first published work.

Patrick Roberts, the US conrunner, has died. He ran the art show for many Atlantan DragonCons.

Alain Robbe-Grillet, the French writer, has died aged 87.

Leonard Rosenman, the US film composer, has died aged 83. His music features on genre films such as: Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Fantastic Voyage, Robocop 2 and Star Trek IV.

Jody Scott, the Brit-born author, has died aged 84 back in December. News lifted from Ansible.

Roy Scheider, the US actor has died aged 75. His genre work included: The Curse of the Living Corpse (1964), 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984), Sea Quest DSV (1993) (film pilot for the series in which he starred), and Dracula II: Ascension (2003).

Ken Slater, the long-standing British SF fan, professional bookdealer and fixture of the British SF scene since before the war, has died aged 90 and indeed he had just a few weeks earlier had his birthday. He was renowned for Operation Fantast supplying SF magazines to hundreds of serving genre aficionados during WWII while a Captain in the army. After he went on to deal in SF books and was for decades a regular at many SF conventions. He was Fan Guest of Honour at the 1987 Worldcon. All those of us on the Concat team who knew him liked him lots and though he had a good run he will be sorely missed. +++ There will be a memorial gathering (shortly after this page is posted, so sorry if you missed it) on April 23rd 2008, upstairs in the Antelope Tavern, 22 Eaton Terrace, Belgravia, London (whose nearest tube and rail station is Victoria).

Dave Stevens, the US comics artist, has died aged 51. He is best known for The Rocketeer which also became a film. He also did the storyboards for Raiders of the Lost Ark. He died of leukaemia of which he had been suffering for many years.

Jinzo Toriumi, the Japanese animator, has died aged 78. His SFnal work included Astro Boy, Speed Racer, and Gatchaman (also known as Battle of the Planets).


[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 2008


Jules Verne blasted off in February. Well actually it was Europe's ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) Space Truck. This was the first practical launch of the 20 tonne 'Truck' that delivered 7 tonnes of food, clothing, water etc., to the International Space Station. Appropriately enough, with space travel being a core SF trope) it was named after an early European SF grandmaster, Jules Verne and is even carrying a valuable first-edition hardback of the 19th-Century French author's book From the Earth to the Moon. The novel will return on a space shuttle at a later date. (More details at +++ It docked with the International space station on 3rd April. +++ Japan will make the next contribution to the space station with the Kibo science lab in May.

Scientist is to assist forthcoming Star Trek film. director J.J. Abrams has hired planetary scientist Carolyn Porco to help with the astronomical vision. Carolyn Porco is the leader of the imaging science team on NASA'S Cassini mission to Saturn. (We have covered the Cassini-Huygens mission before: the link trail starts here.) This is not Porco's first cinematic connection as she also worked on the Hugo-winning 1997 film Contact which was based on the Locus annual short-listed (first-novel category) novel by scientist Carl Sagan.

The US tests space weapon (for a peaceful purpose of course). Back in January it was reported that a spy satellite, weighing in at around a tonne, was due to crash. The US decided that it (especially the hydrazine fuel it had onboard) was hazardous to human health and so they would blow it up with a surface to space missile. (In the past numerous satellites have suffered orbital decay and crashed to Earth.) Then in February a US warship shot the 283 km (172 miles) up orbiting satellite with a SM-3 missile. Officials are reported saying there was an 80-90% chance the fuel tank had been hit. Meanwhile there is peculation that the US was simply keeping pace with China which destroyed one of its own satellites last year and indeed China has called on the US to release more info about this mission. +++ We think that the reports of hydrazine [H2NNH2] as the fuel might be slightly technically inaccurate -- some of us on the Concat team synthesised the stuff at school as part of chemistry class back in the days when A-levels were A-levels and health and safety wasn't even a myth. We think they might have meant dimethyl hydrazine but shhh, let them have their secrets.

Virgin Galactic reveals spaceship design. Virgin Galactic, the Brit entrepreneur Richard Branson's private space tourist firm, has unveiled a design that is clearly an evolution of the spaceship 1 Ansari X-prize. Similar to the lunar ferry in the Gerry Anderson TV series UFO, it will have a mother aircraft taking it to tens of thousands of feet and a few hundred miles per hour before the spacecraft detaches and boosts off to 110 km (some 65 miles) altitude. The eight passengers will then get a few minutes of weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth against the black of space. Seats cost US$200,000 and flights last two and a half hours. Over 200 have made reservations. (Currently tickets into space cost US$2 million -- 10 times more -- on the Soyuz but the flights also last longer.)

A cryptozoological exhibition is being held The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, US, up to the end of August. It is called 'Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids'.

Britain's stem cell and embryo Bill attacked by Catholics. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, will used his Easter Sunday sermon to launch an attack on the Government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. "What I am speaking of is the process whereby scientists create an embryo containing a mixture of animal and human genetic material... One might say that in our country we are about to have a public Government endorsement of experiments of Frankenstein proportion, without many people really being aware of what is going on."
          OK so what are we talking about? Well so as not to use human eggs (surely an ethical plus and besides they are in short supply) the idea is to use human DNA from a cell's nucleus in another mammal's egg cell that has had its own nucleus' DNA removed. In fairness there is some mitochondrial animal DNA (which is not from the animal's egg nucleus and) that amounts to about 0.1% of the total DNA. What is not happening is the splicing together of animal and human DNA. What is not happening is the creation of hybrid animals: the embryos will only be a few days old before its cells are used to provide stem cell lines which will be valuable in the understanding of complex diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's (see Terry Pratchett story earlier) and Motor Neurone Disease.
          Of course the Catholic Church is a well known authority on scientific matters. It tried Galileo in 1633 for teaching the Copernican view of the Solar System in which the Earth goes around the Sun (and not vice-versa). Though to be fair to the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II did later apologise and affirm a different view of the Earth's motion. Pity though that that took as long as to 31st October 1992. Will we have to wait over three and a half centuries this time? Still, it was good of the Bish' to include an SFnal reference in his sermon. +++ Further information on the sermon and related science questions and answers.

Dawkins (British zoologist) says that SF helps him think about science... In case you missed the story in the earlier people subsection here..

Beatles song 'Across the Universe' to be played to stars. The song was broadcast mid-February on its 40th anniversary by NASA's deep space network of antennas and aimed at Polaris 431 light years from Earth. Former Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney said the project was 'amazing'. (Steady on Paul, it hasn't got there yet.) An alternative, SFnal view came from John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, who said: "I see this as the beginning of the new age in which we will communicate with billions of planets across the universe." (That's the spirit Yoko. Sod the aliens, let's talk to planets: after all it was good enough for one of Stanislaw Lem's protagonists.)

Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in The Guardian has this last season covered:-
  - the lack of evidence for SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) efficacy and even that there is convincing evidence that low serotonin levels in the brain is a key cause of depression.
  - the Daily Telegraph (the respectable right-of-centre UK national newspaper) reports that 500 people a week (in the UK) are being put in hospital due to cannabis but Goldacre points out that this is the number of cannabis users having contact with a drug service for any kind for any treatment.
  - the BBC reporting on 'cubic litres' of flood water (which of course is using volume units twice and similar to saying that someone is 20 kilograms grams heavy).
  - the blind faith that fluoridated water really is of major dental benefit whereas the Dept of Health commissioned 1999 York University research review suggested only a 15% increase in the number of children likely not to have dental caries. Meanwhile (with Goldacre's tongue somewhat in cheek) another study suggests that possible long-term exposure could just perhaps result in 10% increase in bladder cancer which if true might amount to 1,000 new cases across the UK.
  - the bogus quackery that is the supporting documentation that goes with the otherwise healthy mental fun puzzles of Brain Gym. Apparently the so-called accompanying facts -- such as on the best diet for your brain -- include that soup contains no water!
  - how Britain's ethical committees are hindering and event preventing sensible research such as how using surgical procedure checklists reduce errors. The problem is also rife in North America.
  - the over prescribing of anti-depressants many of which have as much of an effect as a placebo and others of which have no affect on a chemically balanced brain, hence useless for non-clinical depression.
  - Durham Council's enthusiasm for fish oil nutritional supplements for school children in improving their performance based on a non-controlled trial and then Durham Council's retraction. But was the retraction because the trial was unscientific or because their school children's performance ended up going down? Perhaps Durham Council's staff could do with fish oil supplements themselves and perhaps some basic training into the scientific method...
The collected Goldacre 'Bad Science' articles up to last year are now available in book form. You can see all the examples of Goldacre's Bad Science for free at


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

Summer 2008

End Bits

More science and SF news will be reviewed in our Autumnal 2008 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 in between. (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

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Brian Ameringen, Tony Bailey, Sarah Jenkin, lady on the bus to Heathrow, David Lally, Simon Litten, Sabina Marinova-Theo, Kath McKay, Roberto Quaglia, Caz Rudd, Louis Savy, Boris Sidyuk, June Young and the many representatives of groups and professional companies' PR folk who sent news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page. If you feel that your news, or SF news that interests you should be here then you need to let us know (as we cannot report what we are not told).

News for the next seasonal upload that covers the autumn 2008 period needs to be in before mid-August. News (of the summer period or of forthcoming autumnal events) especially sought concerns SF author news as well as that relating to national SF conventions: size, number of those attending, prizes and any special happenings.
To contact us see here and try to put something clearly science fictional in the subject line in case your message ends up being spam filtered and needs rescuing.

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