Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Summer 2009

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

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

Summer 2009

EDITORIAL MATTERS

Hugo nominations, Eurocon Award wins and Concatenation. Two who in the past have been involved in Concat have just been nominated for a Hugo while two others more recently/currently associated with Concat have won Eurocon Awards. Congratulations to all concerned. (Dignity now.)

New book reviewers wanted.No news other than all the core team are all real busy and the strain of bringing all this seasonal news and reviews from a dozen countries and scores of groups is beginning to tell.   If you are in semi-regular contact (go to the same events) as members of the Concatenation core team and regularly read SF and fantasy, then we are looking for more book reviewers. If so then do get in touch.   Meanwhile we hope that none of you are credit crunched and that all of you can grab an investment banker and recycle them (slowly!).

Concat Site Alert News. With three major site updates a year and three small ones, there are months between new postings and so we have our free and confidential alert service. Now we go to some lengths to ensure confidentiality and prevent hacking which is why we dead-ended in March - early April. If you had joined the alert then you will not know that in fact you were not being registered... Sorry about this but we were having a security screen and did not want news of that to be public. Consequently if you registered in those weeks you will need to re-register again. (See immediately below.) Again our apologies but better safe than sorry. :-)

 

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 Amazon.co.uk. In addition to helping this site it makes a great present and helps you do your bit to spread the genre word. See also news of signed copies from Porcupine Books (who can send you copies cheaper than Amazon...).

 

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

Summer 2009

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

This season's prizes included: the Templeton £1 million for science and religion, and the SF prizes Aurealis (Australia) and the Euopean SF Awards.

It is the Summer and so it is Hugo nomination time for books and films and the opportunity to look back to last season and see how well our analysis of the previous year (2008) fared.

Book news - Includes that the British publishing house Solaris may be being sold, the top selling British SF/F books and popular science books of 2008, UK publisher business performance, and new Winnie the Pooh and J. R. R.Tolkien books to be published.

Film news - Includes that there will be a film adaptation of Dan Simmons' Hyperion, and the TV series Lost in Austen, with other forthcoming new SF films Pandorum and The Thirteenth Hour.

Television news - Includes: the new Terry Nation Survivors debuts in N. America, and Being Human and Heroes both get new seasons commissioned. Meanwhile Sci-Fi Channel changes its name and upsets many.

News of SF and science personalities includes, among many, that of: Brian Aldiss, Iain Banks, Orson Scott Card, Harlan Ellison, Joe Haldeman, Ian Mcdonald, Paul McAuley, Audrey Niffenegger, Terry Pratchett, Robert Rankin, Alastair Reynolds, Adam Roberts, Robert Sawyer, Martin Taylor, David Tennant, Mark Walport and Ian Watson with Roberto Quaglia.

Major Spring SF events were in: Dubai. While coming up in the summer we have Sci Fi London, Hatfield PSIFA's 30th anniversary bash (Britain), Conjecture (Australia) and elsewhere on this site there is a list of national and major conventions and their web links here.

BBC has Science Fiction audio season including classics and blasts from the past. - See here.

SF magazines come and go around the world. - See various items relating to the British Isles, US and Romania from here onwards.

Preparations for next year's late summer 2010 Worldcon in Australia (actually it will be early spring down there) are steaming ahead and the preceding weekend there is the New Zealand national convention! - This could be the southern hemisphere SF event to attend next year. - See details here.

Preparations for the spring 2010 Euroconference in London are steaming ahead. - This could be the northern hemisphere SF event to attend next year. - See details here.

Our short video clip section this season is headed up with Watchmen film related short clips. But there is other stuff too, including a couple of trailers and an alternative couple of minutes ending to Back to the Future. - See the section here.

IT news: Facebook users protected for now and also we at Concatenation wish to contact Facebook users. - See here.

First SF author's name to be given to next European space ferry so ESA is continuing to name its space ferry's after European SF authors. - See here.

The Spring saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included: the prolific French SF author André Caroff, the pioneer rocket scientist Konrad Dannanberg, the SF grandmaster Philip José Farmer, Patrick McGoohan the actor and star of The Prisoner, as well as Alfred Knopf the US SF editor.

 

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 2009

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SF NEWS

The physicist Bernard d'Espagnat of France wins this year's £1 million (US$1,450,000) prize. The Templeton Foundation award is largely designed to honour work that finds a common ground between science and religion. From the University of Paris Sud, Bernard d'Espagnat (now 87 years old) has worked on quantum mechanics in a career that has included working with Nobel laureates such as Enrico Fermi and Niels Bohr. +++ Last year the Templeton Foundation published a study of how scientists considered the question as to whether or not the Universe had a purpose?

The nominations for the 2009 Hugo Awards for SF achievement in 2008 are out. The principal category nominations are:-
          Novel
                    Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Morrow; Atlantic UK)
                    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Bloomsbury; HarperCollins)
                    Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor US)
                    Saturn's Children by Charles Stross (Orbit; Ace)
                    Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi (Tor US)
          Related Book (non-fiction SF)
                    Rhetorics of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn (Wesleyan University Press)
                    Spectrum 15: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art by Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood Books)
                    The Vorkosigan Companion: The Universe of Lois McMaster Bujold by Lillian Stewart Carl & John Helfers, eds. (Baen)
                    What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction by Paul Kincaid (Beccon Publications)
                    Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 by John Scalzi (Subterranean Press)
          Dramatic Presentation (long form)
                    Batman: The Dark Knight
                    Hellboy II: The Golden Army
                    Iron Man
                    METAtropolis
                    WALL-E
          Dramatic Presentation (short form)
                    Battlestar Galactica: 'Revelations'
                    Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
                    Doctor Who: 'Silence in the Library' / 'Forest of the Dead'
                    Doctor Who: 'Turn Left'
                    Lost: 'The Constant'
For the full details of all other categories see www.TheHugoAwards.org.
          The above nominations were arrived at by popular vote of the members registered to attend last year's as well as this year's forthcoming World SF convention. The Hugo - for those who may not know - is nominally awarded for 'science fiction achievement' (as opposed to SF 'excellence') but has for a while now allowed works that are outright fantasy (as opposed to 'science fantasy' that has an SFnal connection). Being presented at the Worldcon - again for those who may not know - one might understandably assume that the award was for SF achievement internationally. However, as the Worldcon is more or less three out of four years held in N. America and even when it is not its attendance is dominated by N. Americans, the awards are effectively for N. American, or at least Anglophone, SF. Of course this in itself is an interesting exercise. The results of the vote on the above nominations for the winners in each category will be announced at the end of the summer at this year's SF Worldcon in Canada. As such the Hugo arguably reflects more the interests of Worldcon fandom than the SF community writ large: this caveat we should all ponder lest we get inflated moving on... Meanwhile it is good to see a past Concatenation contributor as well as the work from a small press run by one of Concat's contributors get nominated. Well done chaps. (Dignity now.) +++ (Two others loosely associated with Concat also won Eurocon Awards.) +++ News of this year's up-coming Worldcon is here in our Eurocon / Worldcon News section. +++ Item below on Hugo and SF excellence and Adam Roberts on SF awards.

Comment on the 2009 Hugo nominations. Well, on the SF books front compared to the past few years when we have identified the UK books that got Hugo nominations in our previous 'Best books of the Year' analysis, this year we failed... Now, at first we were a little disappointed until we remembered that all the books we cite in our end-of-year analysis (which for 2008 we posted last season here) are published in the British Isles, whereas nearly all the titles nominated for the Hugo are published in N. America and not over here. In fact given this the really surprising thing is how come we have in the past been somewhat so predictive!
          On the film front our last season end-of-year best films of 2008 analysis did throw up three (Batman: The Dark Knight, Hellboy II and Iron Man) out of the just-announced five Best Dramatic (Long Form) nominations. Of course this is not surprising as there is greater overlap in films between N. America and the British Isles. Indeed all but one of the other films we listed back in January as being the best of 2008 were made outside of N. America and again the Hugo is very N. America orientated to the extent that in all but name you can effectively consider them the N. American SF awards. Of course if you want to see what top ten films scored in the year to Easter at the British box office and as well as our other 'worthies' selection then see our separate 2008/9 SF film chart (and of course we have the top British box office SF & fantasy films listed here.
          As for which nominations might win the Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), it is probably a toss up between Dr Who and Battlestar Galactica. We will find out in the Autumn and of course bring you the news if you have not picked up on this in the other places it will be reported a couple of weeks before our next season's news is scheduled in September.   +++ The Hugo Graphic Novel category is this year very much a trial as it is due to be formally ratified at the World SF Society business meeting at the Worldcon. We have a comment on these nominations with our news below of the WSFS business meeting.

The 2009 Australian Aurealis Awards have been given for 2008 works. The winners of the principal categories were:-
          Best SF Novel - Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait by K. A. Bedford
          Best SF Short Story - 'The Empire' by Simon Brown
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 http://www.aurealisawards.com. +++ Last year's principal Aurealis Award winners are here.

The 2009 Eurocon Awards were presented in Italy -- see Eurocon coverage later on.

The rules for the US Nebula Award have changed. The new rules affect the nomination process so that you can only vote for works in the previous year and not the previous 18 months. A first-past-the-post system of total numbers of votes is now in place with preferential voting (ranked voting as in the Hugos (Australian system) of recent years) is no more for the Nebulas. This means that the most popular, nominations win as opposed to the least unpopular or those with greatest average popularity winning.   Also the 'Best Script' award has been replaced by the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation but is not a proper Nebula category. The Nebulas are voted on by American SF professionals (unlike the Hugos which are voted on by fans at the Worldcon).

The BBC Science Fiction audio season sees some SF classics and blasts from the past. All great stuff. The season was held straddling February and March with programmes on its national Radios 3, 4 and 7. Classics include adaptation's of H. G, Wells' The Time Machine, Arthur Clarke's Rendez-vous with Rama, J. G. Ballard's The Drowned World, Iain Banks' classic short The State of the Art and in five daily 15 minute parts John Christopher's eco-disaster The Death of Grass. Blasts from the past included a new audio version of the 1970s TV series Blake's 7, the Twilight Zone TV series episode 'The Hitcher', and the 2001 Sony Radio Academy Award winning radio play Alpha plus a new sequel play Omega. There were a number of other programmes and all were rather good, (including a 13-part serial adaptation of Rankin's comic Brightonomicon) and so it seems just a little unfair to single out Radio 3's Bring Me The Head of Philip K Dick This was a, as you might well expect, surreal vision of contemporary America where faith, national security and the very fabric of time are under attack from an unlikely and terrifying weapon invented by a shadowy research unit: the android head of Philip K. Dick is on the loose and wreaking havoc... More please Auntie Beeb.

Ray Bradbury's 'Leviathan 99' is to be a radio drama in the US. The California Artists Radio Theatre will be producing an original radio drama adaptation as part of a Bradbury tribute as well as veteran writer/director Norman Corwin in early May. Bradbury and Corwin are both expected to attend the live stage production in Los Angeles.

London's Fantasy Centre is to close! Well it has been some 40 years and the writing has been on the cards for a while. Ted Ball and Erik Arthur are shutting up shop in June when their lease runs out. The Fantasy Centre is the longest-established under the same management, second hand SF bookshop in Europe. Ted and Erik's genre expertise is extensive and if they have not got it in stock then the chances are they will have it in their lock-up. If you are reading this before June then this is the last good chance for you to get those older titles missing from your collection and so well worth a visit. Normally you can find some good bargains but with them closing prices are bound to be even better. The shop is mid-way between Holloway Road and Highbury & Islington stations. See www.fantasycentre.demon.co.uk.

Copy of first Superman comic, Action No.1, has fetched at auction US$317,200 (£227,000). There are only around a hundred copies left of this 1938 comic. The on-line auction ran for two weeks and attracted 89 bidders.

 

Science fiction magazines come and go around the world...

'Science Fiction World' [translated title] the World's biggest SF magazine, celebrated its 30th anniversary. The occasion is being marked by a series of events in universities and colleges in several provinces, including Sichuang, Chongqiong and Beijing. +++ Meanwhile the 2009 Galaxy Award will not be released until it is published in Science Fiction World mid-May. However we understand that following authors have been short-listed for most popular foreign writer category: David Brin, Neil Gaiman, Harry Harrison, Yasumi Kobayashi (Japan), Nancy Kress, Ursula K. Le Guin George R.R. Martin, Garth Nix, Michael Resnick, John Scalzi and Vernor Vinge.

Argentina has a new SF magazine for the Spanish-speaking world: Próxima [Next]. It will feature both stories and artwork from both established and new writers and artists, and is a quarterly.

Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine goes bimonthly. The move from monthly publishing happens about the time we post this page and bimonthly in this instance means every other month (not twice a month).

Reams of Fantasy magazine narrowly avoided closing. Having been around for 15 years and coming up to its 100th issue, there were financial difficulties and it was going to close this month (April 2009). However Warren Lapine and Tir Na Nog Press have purchased Realms of Fantasy from Sovereign Media. However this means that Fantastic Stories magazine will not now return. That magazine folded shortly after an editorial hiatus back in the Spring of 2007 and the demise of DNA Publications. Warren Lapine (formerly behind DNA) has started Tir Na Nog Press had hoped to release the new Fantastic Stories in September but will now concentrate on Realms of Fantasy.

Starburst magazine looks like it has closed. Founded in the UK in 1978 it originally had news and reviews of books, film, TV and comics. However after a couple of issues was taken over by Marvel and began its US existence covering mainly TV and film SF, though it could still easily be found in the UK. More recently its UK distribution has had competition from SFX and Death Ray and of course in the US was up against longer-standing magazines such as Starlog. A further blow came in the summer of 2007 with the launch of two rival magazines in the UK market, Death Ray and Sci-Fi Now. Factor in the current recession and it is not surprising that we may see some magazine closures.

Romanian Sci-Fi Magazine folds. Founded just in October 2007, the Romanian SF short story semi-prozine, Romanian Sci-Fi Magazine, has folded. Stories accepted but unpublished were compiled into a special collection.

 

[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 2009

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

Forrest J. Ackerman, who sadly recently died, is having his huge collection of SF memorabilia auctioned. This is likely to take a while but the amount raised could be considerable: US$500,000 (£330,000) is a ballpark figure cited. The auction is scheduled to take place late April/early May after this page is posted. +++ Did Forest Ackerman win the first Hugo? See news below.

Brian Aldiss was one of the 65 guests attending Dubai's inagurial Arab literary festival. The venue was the Intercontinental Hotel that makes the word 'luxurious' look out-of-date! Reportedly there was wonderful decor, wonderful staff, wonderful cuisine. By all accounts it was an exciting building to stay in: though worrying that bed linen and pillow cases and towels were changed every morning. An extravagance too far. But everything was scrupulously clean and hygienic. On the last day of the festival Brian and travelling companion Alison were driven to Zayed Ladies University, a new university situated a kilometre or more from the Men's University, where miracles had been achieved with plate glass. While other writers went elsewhere. There he gave a talk on the origin of species, apparently shocking no one. The young women were bright and spoke excellent English so it was enjoyable all round.

Scott Bakula at the end of March marked 20 years of Quantum Leap at the Leap Back convention. He revealed that given the chance he would jump at the opportunity for a Quantum Leap film. Though generous, he was less than 100% enthusiastic about the series Enterprise and its episodes' plots.

Iain Banks was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's flagship book programme by Mariella Fostrup. He talked about his post-scarcity 'Culture' ultra-advanced civilization. He noted that John Clute's claim he can date - without knowing when it was published - when any SF novel was written within six months. He was asked whether he felt that the dilemma the Culture have of interfering with lesser-developed species was politically pertinent to current political developments. Iain said 'uncomfortably so'. He was on to mark the reprint of his collection of shorts The State of the Art (that originally came out in 1991) - alas we have not received details for our forthcoming books list but your specialist SF shop will undoubtedly have it. +++ See Iain later on (below) for more Beeb Beeb Ceeb shenanigans in the Science and SF Interface section.

Greg Bear is to write novelizations based on SF's biggest franchise - Halo Jones. The Halo games have sold over 26 million copies worldwide and there are the films and comics too, all of which make it a bigger franchise in financial terms than others such as Star Wars. Greg Bear will initially write a prequel trilogy featuring the mysterious alien 'Forerunners'.

Charles Brown, editor of the Hugo multi-winning Locus, decries the proposed dropping of the semi-prozine Hugo Award category in, where else, Locus. This is not because Locus has won the semi-prozine Hugo numerous times but because it is a valuable category and that often there is only a score or so of votes between the winner and second place: in short others could easily win with just a few votes having gone the other way. This argument is logical though who can discern the machinations of the WSFS business meeting?

Orson Scott Card is concerned that the new Obama administration is undermining US democracy by moving the constitutionally-required Census from the Commerce Department to the White House -- specifically putting it under the thumb of his political strategist, Rahm Emanuel. Why does this matter? Well according to Orson Scott Card "When the Census takes place in 2010, the results will be used to determine which states lose seats in the House of Representatives, and which gain. This also determines which states lose electoral votes, and which gain." He says " It's a coup d'etat. And the so-called freedom-lovers in the Leftist media are absolutely silent about it."

Harlan Ellison has launched his twin legal suit against Paramount and the Writers Guild of America. The former for not paying him subsequent dues on the Star Trek episode 'City on the Edge of Forever' for which he wrote the screenplay but was only paid his original broadcast fees and not for subsequent airings, video, DVD and merchandise (it seems there was some merchandise specific to this episode). The latter, Writers Guild, he is suing for failing to properly represent his interests. This last seems to be more an act to get the Writers Guild to do its job as it would appear from the writ (and here we summarise greatly) that Ellison is of the opinion that the Guild has drifted into a comfortable relationship with Hollywood. Consequently this case, if found in Ellison's favour, could greatly benefit Hollywood writers generally. Yet Ellison is not being mercenary regarding the Guild. It seems that while he is suing Paramount for income not received as well as compensation and a punitive amount as well as legal costs, he is only suing the Writers Guild for US$1 (68 pence) plus legal costs. The writ was submitted on Friday 13th March 2009. If the new Star Trek film references 'City', and if Harlan wins the case, then presumably he would be entitled to either a one-off payment or a royalty share from the film's earning. On the other hand Paramount should have seen this coming as we understand Harlan did approach them about the matter before he resorted to legal action.

Raymond E. Feist has been over to the British Isles giving talks and doing signings in: Nottingham, Birmingham, Bristol and London in England, Edinburgh in Scotland, and Dublin in Ireland. Apologies to any of our regulars who are Feist fans but we were only told a couple of days before his arrival. Also he has a new book out see below.

Jaine Fenn will hopefully be at the British SF Association's London gathering on Wednesday 24th June in the Antelope Tavern in 22 Eaton Place (nearest tube: Sloane Square - District/Circle).

Joe Haldeman has been interviewed by France's Actu SF. The Ridley Scott film version of The Forever War is still go, Haldeman likes Marvano's graphic novel adaptation of his books, and he is currently writing a sequel to Marsbound. However you can read it for yourself as - a rarity for Actu SF - there is a version in English at actusf.com/spip/article-7074.html.

Rita Levi-Montalcini, the Nobel bioscientist, will become 100 on 22nd April shortly after this seasonal news page is posted. As such she will become the first Nobel winner to be 100 years old. Her Nobel win relates to her work elucidating nerve growth factor.

Ian Mcdonald has been interviewed by the Beeb Beeb Ceeb on their website here.

Paul McAuley's younger readers will welcome the news that he is having four of his early novels reprinted this autumn. Four Hundred Billion Stars (his first novel from 1988), Eternal Light (space opera (1991)), Red Dust (a near future tale with much of the action on Mars (1993)), and Pasquale's Angel (alternate Renaissance history (1994)) which are scheduled for publication in September from Gollancz. Eternal Light also gets an earlier airing shortly after we post this season's news as part of a Gollancz space opera promotion.

Michael Moorcock will be returning to London and speaking at the British Library on the subject of London on 29th June, 18.30 - 20.00. Tickets available from May £6.

Audrey Niffenegger, five years on from The Time Traveller's Wife has been given a reportedly (New York Times) near US$5 million (£3.38 million) advance for her next book Her Fearful Symmetry out in October. It is a supernatural story about twins who inherit an apartment near a London cemetery, the lives of the building's other residents and the ghost of their aunt. Speaking of The Time Traveller's Wife's ultimate success Joe Regal (Niffenegger's agent) is reported as saying: "There were lots of people who dismissed the first book because it sounded like romance or science fiction!"... Now let's see, the book was dismissed by some as unlikely to be successful because it was 'science fiction'. That would not be the same 'science fiction' that is part of a £-billion industry Worldwide would it?

Barack Obama to meet Spiderman. It all happens in Amazing Spider-Man No. 583. Barack, it appears, is a Spiderman fan.

Edgar Allen Poe will have his 200th anniversary celebrated at the World Fantasy Con in California 29th October - 1st November.

Terry Pratchett was revealing when he agreed for the BBC to follow him around for some months for a two-part documentary on living with Alzheimer's. Fascinating and scary at the same time this was worrying. The one optimistic note is that it looks like science will be able to come up with something that will at least hold Alzheimer's at bay within a decade or so: in short a bit like the treatments we have for HIV. (Certainly, the Concatenation bioscientists note that there have for the past couple of years some hot-lead papers published virtually every other month in Nature.) +++ Terry is pleased that his novel Nation is to be a stage play. It is the story of two children from different cultures who come together on a desert island. The play will be at the London National Theatre from November. (Just in time for the Christmas panto season... Oh no it won't... Oh yes it will...) +++ The Spring saw Terry finally go down on one knee to get his knighthood. - Picture here. +++ And then he got another award as The Oldie magazine's 'Campaigner of the Year' as part of its annual 'Oldie of the Year' awards.

Robert Rankin will no doubt be at the Golden Sprout birthday bash in the Brentford / Kew part of London 24th -26th July. Advance registration required. We are told there will be beer, food, music, toot, general silliness and pirates!

Alastair Reynolds takes a minute out of his hectic deadline run up to his next offering to appear on BBC TV's One Show to talk about SF gadgets. Meanwhile he has enthused over the rough cover art for Terminal World. Such has been is stonkingly brilliant hard SF of recent years that the question has to be asked can we contain ourselves while we wait...?

Adam Roberts does not like SF awards. See <futurismic.com/2009/01/28/sf-awards-rubbish... But then you can argue that all awards fail to be consistent indicators of quality (just look at which films won Oscars in the 1990s and earlier compared to the nominations in respective years!) so why pick on SF? (And don't get us started on Hugo wins...) +++ Also see the item below on the Hugo and SF excellence.

Gene Roddenberry and Majel Barrett Roddenberry's ashes to go to space. Celestis Inc. are to make the launch. Celestis have done this before with some of Gene's ashes back in 1997.

J. K. Rowling represented British female talent at the G20 financial summit in London. And when we say female talent - at the risk of sexist confusion - in this instance we mean her writing and here - lest there be literary SFnal confusion - we mean her earning ability due to capturing the juvenile/adult fantasy market. (Phew. Think we got away with it.) While the World's leaders were tucking into the recession-friendly £11-a-head nosh (various classic British dishes) provided by Jamie Oliver's chefs, the leaders' wives were enjoying the same menu in a separate room. J. K. Rowling was part of table one (of four) and sat between Michelle Obama (US First Lady) and Kim Yoon-ok (South Korean First Lady). No doubt there were table place names lest there be a muggle...

Rob Sawyer reports that the filming of the pilot has started of the series to be based on his novel FlashForward. Also a TV series he is hosting began to be broadcast in N. America at the end of January called Supernatural Investigator as well as a documentary series on inventions that never were called I Prophesy. But he has not stopped writing, his next novel Wake is due out this month (April 2009). Following that, between 20th April and 20th June, he will be on tour in N. America promoting it. The tour will take in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Waterloo, Winnipeg, Sudbury, Saskatoon and Regina as well as San Francisco south of the border. Wake concerns the internet gaining sentience. +++ In July Robert Sawyer spends a month at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron in his capacity as its first Writer-in-Residence.

Martin Taylor, the British mathematician, has received his knighthood. He is noted for having proved the Frohlich Conjecture relating the symmetries of algebraic integers. He currently works at Manchester University and is also known for engaging with school maths teachers.

David Tennant's portrayal of Hamlet on the stage has proven so popular - no small doubt to his fame through Dr Who even if a very worthy actor in his own right - that the stage version will be filmed. So now no need to go to the theatre, Tennant's fans will soon be able to get the DVD of the performance. It should be ready by the autumn.

Mark Walport who runs the UK's largest medical research charity, the Wellcome Trust, has been knighted. The Wellcome fortune comes from one of the owners of the original Wellcome pharmaceutical company. The dividends and interest from which goes to medical research. The amount given out each year is greater than that from the Medical Research Council which is the Government's own funding agency. The Wellcome Trust has been a major factor behind the Government's increase in its investment in science research as Mark Walport has pointed out that the Trust need not support research mainly in the UK but anywhere in the World and this focussed British politicians' minds.

Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia have a rare get-together in the UK in Bradford at the UK Eastercon for the launch of their theme-linked collection of short stories The Beloved of My Beloved. The pair do most of their collaboration writing apart with Ian mainly in the UK and Roberto on his perpetual wanderings around Europe including between his two homes in Italy and Romania. The book is out from NewCon Press in both paperback and a limited hardback run which both authors have signed. This could well be the first collaborative book-length fiction ever by two genre authors with different mother tongues; possibly even in mainstream literature too. Ian's most recent UK publication is the novel Mockymen from Immanion Press, which will also launch at the UK Fantasycon in the Autumn the first UK edition of Roberto's novel Bread, Butter and Paradoxine also from Immanion. +++ See Ian later on (below) in the Science and SF Interface section.

Jos Whedon the US screenwriter of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, is to be awarded the SF Writers of America's Bradbury Award for excellence in screenwriting. The award will be presented shortly after this season's news page is posted at this year's Nebulas weekend in Los Angeles the weekend of 24th - 26th April.

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 2009

FILM NEWS

Dan Simmons' 'Hyperion Cantos' is set to become a film. The film will bring together two of the 'Cantos novels: Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion. Pilgrims on the way to the 'Time Tombs' on the planet Hyperion tell tales (a bit like as with The Canterbury Tales). The Time Tombs themselves travel backwards in time and are guarded by a monster called the Shrike.   Hyperion (1989) won the Hugo for 'Best Novel' and also came top of that year's Locus poll for best SF novel. Trevor (Startide Rising ) Sands is doing the screen story. Now the bad news: Scott (The Day The Earth Stood Still rehash) Derrickson is to direct. Let's hope Derrickson has learned something from having botched that film and that (in anticipation of compensation) Dan Simmons got a good bung from Warner Brothers and GK Films who are behind the venture.

The Thing re-make to be a prequel. It has been a couple of years (well Autumn 2007) since we posted the news that John (Dark Star) Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing was to be re-made. Now we hear that it to be a prequel. However there is also news that Ronald D. (Battlestar Galactica) Moore is now off the project and that Universal Pictures have had his screenstory given to others for a complete re-write! At this point we at Concat affirm our comment of a couple of years ago that John Carpenter's The Thing was closer to the original John W. Campbell classic short story 'Who Goes There' (1938). So will further tinkering be worth it?

Pandorum, the new space film, is coming soon. A thriller, it concerns two astronauts who wake from suspended animation in a space ship. The trouble is that the astronauts do not know who they are let alone why they are there. However after a short while the pair learn that the ship they thought was abandoned isn't and that they are in deep do-do: it might very well be that the fate of humanity is in their hands... Pandorum, is directed by Christian Alvart, the man who directed the nifty Antikörper ((Antibodies) and is out this autumn.

The release of the final Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows film has been in hiatus since last summer (2008) but now it has been announced. The film is to be released in two parts. Part 1 is now slated for November 2010 with part 2 due from 15th July 2011. Warners said it was impossible to fit 608 pages of Rowling's novel into a single film. The first five movies have to date all-told made £2.2 billion (US$4.5 billion). As such as a franchise it has surpassed both 'James Bond' and Star Wars.

Men in Black 3 on the cards. The surprise news comes some 7 years after the last one. There is not much to report other than Sony have put it on the slate.

Third Batman film? Though director Christopher (The Dark Knight and The Prestige) Nolan is reportedly doing some preparatory work for another Batman film it looks like he will be taking a break and doing another project instead. This intervening project looks like it could be SF. However view all this rumour with a pinch of development hell salt... +++ Meanwhile The Dark Knight gets 11 (yes, 11) nominations for the US Saturn Awards which makes it by far the most Saturn-favoured film of the year. Having said that all nominations but for three are for Hollywood films and Hollywood performers, and those three exceptions are for BBC DVDs: no other European or other nationality offerings were nominated. In short the Saturns are a tad restricted as an indicator of genre film excellence.

Warner Brothers want to milk franchises. Of course studios want to make money but Warners CEO, Jeff Bewkes, has publicly underlined this with reference to Batman, Superman and Sherlock Holmes being franchiseable brands. This news is taken to mean by those watching Hollywood that Warners will do a sequel to the forthcoming Sherlock Holmes film irrespective of how well it does, so as to see if they can get a franchise going.

The British TV min-series Lost in Austen is to be turned into a film by Columbia Pictures. The series concerned a modern-day woman who finds herself living the life of a fictional heroine from a Jane Austen novel. Though this sounds naff it did work rather well. However whether it will once Hollywood gets hold of it remains to be seen. Fortunately the original writer, Guy Andrews, is writing the screenplay. The original four-part series starred Jemima Rooper and Gemma Arterton and aired on ITV in the British Isles last (2008) autumn.

The Thirteenth Hour is to be a new time travel film from New Line. A man accused of murdering his wife has access to a limited time machine: he can go back in time one hour at a time. So he goes back 12 hours, one hour at a time to find out what really happened.

The film Ghost to become a musical. Eurythmics founder Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard are writing the stage musical adaptation of the Oscar-winning film that starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoppi Goldberg.

Iron Man 2 villain to Mickey Rourke. The 56 year old will play a villain called 'Whiplash'. The film is slated for May 2010. The first Iron Man was a big financial hit of 2008.

The Watchmen Fox - Warner court case has ended. As reported last year Fox was claiming it owned the distribution rights to Watchmen which is now being made by Warners. Fox get a cash lump sum settlement of a few million US dollars and a small percentage of the gross box office take.

Watchmen has premiered and the initial reactions are in. On-line reviews and comment from TV and radio arts programmes are amazingly similar. The film does have spectacle but it is not the masterpiece that was the original Alan Moore graphic novel and Alan was probably right not to have his name on the credits. The film does try to be faithful but the actors and director takes it all so seriously, including what were meant in the graphic novel the wry humorous moments. Another problem was trying to squeeze so much of the graphic novel into a film only two and a half hours long. The consensus seems to be that the film starts well enough but then seems to become a sequence of set pieces with little sense of whole. Having said that, there is spectacle and fans of the graphic novel can recognise scenes. Those who have not read (and re-read) the graphic novel will simply miss out on much of the subtlety both on screen and of course be unaware of what was changed or left out. Of course part of the problem is that we have all been expecting so much that it really was impossible for anything but the very best of cinematic experiences to stand up to such a high bar.   It remains to be seen whether the film itself will do well at the box office and DVD. There are many fans of the graphic novel and others may pick up on all the media fuss.   Anyway we have a number of short Watchmen vid clips immediately below. Enjoy...

 

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy....

Film clip download tip!: Watchmen -- Alan Moore talks about the Watchmen graphic novel. This 5 minute interview clip is a few years old but with the film just released we thought you might be interested. - See it here.

Film clip download tip!: The physics of Watchmen is explained by Prof. Jim Kakalios. - See him here.

Film clip download tip!: Watchmen trailer for Tales of the Black Freighter. Now Tales of the Black Freighter is the comic in the Watchmen graphic novel that is read by one of the incidental (albeit regular) characters: in short for Tales of the Black Freighter is the comic series within the Watchmen comic series that became the Watchmen graphic novel.   OK, you still with us?   So now Watchmen has become a film and therefore it would be logical for Tales of the Black Freighter to become a film too.   Got that? &nsbsp; Good.   So this short video is the trailer for that film. (In short it is the trailer of the film of the comic that was within the comic that became a graphic novel that was turned into a film...) - See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Watchmen -- The 2nd trailer for the 2009 film (of the Watchmen graphic novel) and this version (alone) ramped up well over a You Tube million views in just a couple of months. - See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Terminator Salvation -- The 2nd trailer for the forthcoming 2009 film and this 2 minute version (alone) has also ramped up well over a You Tube million views in just a couple of months. - See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Mutant Chronicles -- The trailer for the film is here and the DVD is also out see our DVD release section below.

Film clip download tip!: Forest of Hands and Teeth -- The vid trailer for the new, bound-to-be-classic, horror science-fantasy book is here. We have been sent a pre-publication copy and can say - without dithering lest the Unconsecrated get us - that it is decidedly a bit of a somewhat masterful work... No word of understatement here: just several.

Film clip download tip!: Superman or Batman: Who would win? -- Superman the ultimate brawn. Batman the brain (plus a few dollars). Put like that... Well, judge for yourself in this short.

Film clip download tip!: There have been a number of Batman logos over time. These are some of the major changes. - See the video short here.

Film clip download tip!: An alternative ending to the first Back to the Future film and a warning not to travel a flying time machine at speed. Dear me no... - See the video short here.

For a reminder of the top films in 2008/9 (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 2009 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 2009

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

Solaris the British SF book imprint is reportedly to be sold. The news broke in the run up to our seasonal posting and as yet there is no official announcement, though we understand a few of the Solaris authors have been told. Apparently the owners (Games Workshop) want to concentrate on core business. This seems more than a little odd as if sales are profitable why not take the money and run? Sales should be profitable as the quality of much of Solaris's SF (and presumably its fantasy) is decidedly above average. This leads to the suspicion that some part of the Games Workshop group needs some liquid assets, which is plausible given the recession. However this last is sheer speculation, so do take it as such. We do understand that whatever happens that the publishing schedule through to spring 2010 will continue. +++ See also Mark Chadbourn's "www.jackofravens.com/2009/03/02/solaris-put-up-for-sale" early blog entry. (We did approach Solaris for a comment and, though they regularly provide use with news of their releases, in this instance they declined.)

The top selling genre book of 2008 in the British Isles was The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling with 856,268 copies sold. Meanwhile of the top 100 mass market paperbacks there was only one fantasy title, and that came in at a low 91st with 131,985 copies sold, which was The Children of Hurin.

Popular science books decline in British Isles in 2008. According to BookScan Data (which does not always include direct publisher and some miscellaneous sales) the popular science market has grown from some £9.8 million in 2002 (about 1.1% of all non-fiction) up to £16m in 2006. This then slipped by 14.7% in 2007 to £13.65m and then again by a worrying 27% in 2008 to around £9.96m. 2009 will therefore be interesting as despite the recession it should rally as in real-terms (inflation linked) this is near a decade low. If it does not then things do not bode well for our nurturing a scientifically literate society.

The Guardian and The Telegraph have separately listed their top novels of all time. Many in their SF selections are already cited in Essential SF: A Concise Guide. However The Telegraph's 'top 100' has The Lord of the Rings at the bottom, dismissively listing this as a 'tale of fantastic creatures looking for lost jewellery'.

Top e-book device of 2008. The Kindle e-book device topped Amazon's electronic goods for 2008 beating both iPhone and iTouch.

The top British Isles publishers in 2008 in terms of revenue were as follows. Hachette Livre (UK) - who do Orion who in turn run the Gollancz SF list - lead with a revenue of £282.5 million and had some 15.9% market share according to BookScan Data. But this was not entirely good news as the market share was down 5.4% yet Orion performed the best within HL(UK) with revenue only slightly down at £72.3m. (See, quality SF sells!) Random House followed on close on HL(UK)'s heels with £262.7m revenue, up 0.4%: Random do popular science with William Heinemann and Ebury. Penguin followed with £177.2m (10% of the market) with sales down just 0.9%. Harper Collins took £147.5 (up 2.9%) and of course they do the leading fantasy imprint Voyager. Finally, at least the last of the big ones, Pan Macmillan (who do Tor (UK)) had a revenue of £57.9m which was down 6.6%. Here, while we cannot speak for the group as a whole, Tor (UK) could make more noise about the Tor (US) titles released over here and push the treasures in their backlist: Gollancz seem to regularly cast their eye over its backlist and then repackage titles that have not had a puff for a few years and this seems to work.

Gollancz create mega-signing session. Back in January ten Gollancz authors took part an evening for the public where by not only could folk come and get their books signed but they could also chat informally with the authors who came out from behind the tables. Held at London's Forbidden Planet bookshop the authors were: Joe Abercrombie, Alex Bell, Mark Chadbourn, Jaine Fenn, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, David Devereux, Tom Lloyd, Suzanne McLeod, Steven Savile and James Swallow.

Space Opera promoted by Gollancz. Literally just as we are adding the last bits and bobs to this summer page the Gollancz space opera promotion has thudded into touchdown at Concat mission control. It includes welcome reprints of: the high speed, hard SF Tau Zero by Poul Anderson (originally published 1970), the multidimensional Eon by Greg Bear (originally published in 1985), the passing close encounter with Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (originally published in 1973) that leaves them wanting more, the literary The Centauri Device by M. John Harrison (originally published in 1975), the journey to the centre of the Galaxy a million years after an interstellar war in Eternal Light by Paul J McAuley (originally published in 1991), the Galactic estate agents' delight with Ringworld by Larry Niven (originally published in 1970), Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds (originally published 2004), Stone by Adam Roberts (originally published in 2002), Ilium by Dan Simmons (originally published 2003) and Olaf Stapledon's early 20th century SF mega-classic from 1930 the one and only, the fantasticalated (now retro) Last and First Men. Phew... All simply stonkin stuff and a chance to fill gaps in your collection.

Google books legals in US. Authors and publishers outside the US are asked to get in touch with www.googlebooksettlement.com about a class action settlement with Google for their scanning and use of books. Claims must be filed by 5th January 2010 and relates to books published before then. Worryingly (and remember this is the US and Google and not best practice in the UK (which in any case is not binding) you actively have to opt out. It may be that authors could be bound to an arrangement with Google in unless they say otherwise! - See another story in the 'Net Watch' section below on Google blacklisting all internet sites and Google Books up to its old tricks of making large portions of books free access without permission.

Winnie the Pooh sequel authorised. The A. A. Milne Estate say that writer David Benedictus and artist Mark Burgess have captured the spirit of the originals - but they would have to say that wouldn't they... Anyway, the sequel is to be called Return to Hundred Acre Wood and is to be published by Egmont in October. +++ This follows on from last season's news that there is to a be a sequel of The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy and also a sequel to Dracula.

New Tolkien book coming. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun will be a re-working of the Norse tales of Sigurd and the Fall of the Niflungs. Tolkien drafted the manuscript before he wrote The Hobbit. HarperCollins is to publish.

Superman fetish! Superman's co-creator, Joe Shuster's interest in fetish art is the subject of Abram's new comic's list. The first came out in March and it looks like there will be one a month for the rest of the year. The one comic buffs might want is April's Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-Creator Joe Shuster by Craig Yoe.

Murder One, London's specialist crime-fiction shop - (Charing Cross Road) closed at the end of January after over two decades. Owner Maxim Jakubowski's previous shop across the road had the SF bookshop New World's in the basement. The reason for the final closure is blamed on the shift to on-line retail (Amazon). (See also story below.) +++ Murder One to resurrect on-line. Murder One's former fiction buyer, Trisha Taleb and former Deputy Manager Tany Stone, have bought the company from Maxim Jakubowski and Nick Landau.

BBC is to start doing graphic novels beginning with a Dr Who Dalek title. BBC Books will be launching The Dalek Project graphic novel in September. It is written by Justin Richards, the creative consultant for 'Dr Who Books' and Dr Who Magazine and drawn by Mike Collins. It will have an introduction by Russell T. Davies. It will see the David Tennant Doctor come across the Daleks in World War I. The next graphic novel is slated for 2010.

Bookview Café.com in the US is now selling e-books of its authors. e-books from Sarah Zettel and Maya Kathryn Bohnhoff were launched in February. e-books following will include those by Brenda Clough, Laura Anne Gilman, Anne Harris, Phyllis Irene Radford, Vonda McIntyre, and Sue Lange.

Odyssey, the N. American SF writers' workshop has started a blog. See details in our Net Watch section further down.

And finally...

Acre-sized warehouse stripped of books by manic crowd. It happened in Bristol, England, back at the end of February. When a bookshop own ceased trading he simply left his storage warehouse full of books behind. The owners of the warehouse wanted it cleared and offered some locals to help themselves. But word soon spread. Thousands turned up including a few book dealers. Some were dismayed at the site of people thoughtlessly clambering over books. There were old 2nd hand titles too including a complete set of Eagle annuals.

So we lied... (Honest...) And finally...

A survey reveals that people lie about having read of the Ministry of Truth! As part of World Book Day, the visitors to the official website (www.worldbookday.com) were given a list of 10 books and asked whether they had ever lied about reading them. A total of 1,342 took part in the first two months of the year. 42% said that they had pretended to have read George Orwell's 1984. 31% said so about War and Peace: though we at Concatenation unashamedly recommend instead Shaw's Warren Peace (1993) - that is Bob, not George Bernard.

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 2009

TV NEWS

BBC Survivors series 1 and Primeval series 2 have their N. American debuts around or after Easter. SPOILER ALERT -- Both have already been aired in Europe. Primeval series 2 sees the continued mystery as to how one of the characters survives in the prehistoric past: she can track hence predict where the wormhole gates will appear. A continued flaw with the series is that the protagonists will rush in ill equipped (lightly armed).   Survivors is a promising remake of the 1970s series. The introductory episode is not nearly as good as the 1970s version that had reference to bird flu from Asia. Less forgivable is that the majority of the population dies within a few hours despite a slow lead up of a few days: great for drama, bad for biology. Interestingly the big difference with the 1970s show is that there is a bunker functioning. Plot elements of Terry Nation's novel do remain: character names and the lead looking for her son with another being a can-do adventurer, the stock-piler getting injured then left by his girl, and the recognition of the ultimate need to re-invent things from scratch. Series 1 was shorter that the 1970s first series and the story arc stronger. As expected the effects are better. +++ See also original Survivors DVD out below. +++ Science & SF Concatenation moment: Primeval actor Ben Miller (also half of the Miller Armstrong comedy duo) dropped out of doing a physics PhD to become an actor...

Being Human, the new comedy fantasy horror, has had a second series commissioned. The BBC Three series about the everyday lives of a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost sharing a domicile, has been a bit of a hit. BBC Three is only available to digital viewers and is not analogue broadcast. As such it is a channel the Beeb often use to try series out. This one has proved quite popular.

Heroes is to return to the BBC for a fourth season. The news was in doubt as the series has had falling viewing figures in N. America. Ratings in the US dipped from a peak of nearly 14 million during season one in 2006, to 8.5 million midway through the third season. In the UK Heroes got BBC 2 some 4.3 million (which is quite good). +++ Our previous season Heroes news was aboutits creator, Tim Kring, lashing out at viewers.

Sci-Fi Channel change name to 'SyFy' and cause storm. Now get this for logic. Despite (apparently) having real-term growth in advertising revenue and being 13th US advertising-led cable channel in terms of audience size the Sci Fi channel want to distance themselves from, well er... 'sci fi'. TV historian Tim Brooks, who helped launch Sci Fi Channel, apparently said: 'We spent a lot of time in the '90s trying to distance the network from science fiction, which is largely why it's called Sci Fi.' He also reportedly said, 'It's somewhat cooler and better than the name 'Science Fiction'. But even the name Sci Fi is limiting.' In terms of television, the new brand is meant to better reflect that the channel has programmes that are not about the typical SF tropes of space, aliens and the future. The Sci-Fi Channel suits worked with the branding consultancy Landor Associates and apparently went through about 300 possibilities before selecting 'Syfy': so that was money well spent wasn't it. The change is due to take place on 7th July 2009. 'SciFi.com' also will also change to 'SyFy.com'. +++ The reaction from Sci-Fi Channel viewers on the internet has not been enthusiastic (this is being polite - Technorati 'syfy channel' and see as blog uses of 'SyFy' leapt from near zero prior to March 15th to around 400 the day following the announcement). If such reactions are typical then the channel will alienate the very audience that attracted its good advertising in the first place.

The US version of the BBC Life on Mars ends. The US version ending (we were previously told) would be different from the emotive wimpy BBC ending. Indeed it was different and hard SF, however the reception was mixed: apparently some US fans did not like it... It did though make sense, though it would have been good if they had woven clues into the episodes throughout the series rather than just presenting it out of the blue. One commentator (Marlowe) liked it and pointed out that the US version was the original with the BBC ripping it off beforehand due to a timewarp!

The Simpsons are set to be longest running US series. Currently in its 20th season, Fox has ordered another two. This will bring the total number of episodes to 493.

Dr Who exhibition comes to Glasgow. Complete with Daleks and cybermen, the exhibition will be held at the city's Kelvingrove Museum. It will run until 4th January 2010.

Dalek graphic novel coming out in the autumn. The story is above in our book news section.

 

[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 2009

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

Not long now to Anticipation, this year's World SF convention in Canada. Further to last time's extensive news, we have reported above, at the top of this news page, that this year's Hugo nominations are out and the vote on this for the winners will be taken at the Worldcon in Montreal, Canada., in August. By now you will have decided whether or not to go and if so will have registered and received Progress Report 4 in April. Of course whether or not you will receive the final Progress Report 5 remains to be seen. All too often with N. American Worldcons, including with the last Canadian Worldcon in 2003, Europeans and others find the final PR awaiting them at home on their return after the event... (In short 'Anticipation', anticipate this problem and get the PR out and posted in good time early in July!) +++ DUFF race on. See item in fan news below

Will 'Best Semi-Prozine' be dropped from future Hugo Awards? Last year's (2008) Worldcon - Devention - World SF Society business meeting saw a move to drop the 'Best Semi-Prozine' category. In one sense the merit is that as with some other categories a few of the same names seem to reappear each year as nominations. In another there are plenty of semi-prozines (as there are fanzines and SF editors for those categories) worthy of nomination even if they don't get nominated. A further confounding point is that a few hundred fans vote for the Hugo out of the few thousand eligible (all who have supporting or attending Worldcon registrations), but only 40 voted at the 2008 business meeting to drop the Semi-Prozine Hugo category. This decision has to be ratified this August (2009) at the Anticipation Worldcon in Canada. +++ Charles Brown comment. +++ Neil Clarke has created a website explaining why the semi-prozine category should be retained. See semiprozine.org. +++ Also up for ratification is the less-contentious move to adopt a Hugo for graphic novel. Though as we have opined before it is unlikely to garner the status in the comics' world (or even the SF world) of an Eisner or an Eagle award. Indeed this lack of support for the Hugo graphic novel category is borne out by this year's trial as the graphic novel nominations category only had half the number of those voting for it as voted for the 'Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)' and less than a third the number of those voting for 'Best Novel'.   Consequently here is our take on this year's trial graphic novel Hugo nominations.. +++ Comment on this year's Hugo graphic novel nominations. - Bill Willingham's Fables seems to be a hot runner (if there is any justice, which often there isn't with awards) as does Y: The Last Man, Vol. 10 but our Tony is not at all sure about this last: see here and here. Meanwhile if Jos Whedon's Serenity: Better Days wins then that will arguably be because there is Worldcon fan support for the film Serenity which, of course, won the Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) Hugo in 2006 and not because that graphic novel title has some inherent 'SF achievement' of its own. (See also the item below on Hugo excellence.)

Pre-Worldcon convention in New Zealand in 2010 website up. As previously reported last time New Zealand has moved their natcon to the weekend before the Australian Worldcon. This means you can visit New Zealand on your way to Australia for the Worldcon. The New Zealand convention is Au Contraire. What is new is that they have just created a website and are open to receive registrations. See http://aucontraire.org.nz. Their accommodation form also allows you to book a hotel room the night before the con and a couple of nights after. This will enable a full day of sight seeing the Monday in Wellington before spending a day travelling to Australia and then having a full day sight seeing there before the Worldcon. +++ We have been told that the hotel is based in one of the more grassroots area of Wellington: the hotel itself is very fine but one of the nearby streets is not recommended for very late night life. Wellington itself has bags of things to see for both the visiting scientist and SF fan. (Thanks June for the heads up.) There is Te Papa (a modern museum highly recommended), the local zoo and Crater Observatory. Just out of town there is Whale Watch and Rotorua (a geo-thermal area). Booking a boat ride to see the glowing caves (glow-worm lit) either in the North or South Islands is also highly recommended. (Thanks Claire for the heads up.) We hope to have a stand alone-article from June Young shortly.

The Australia Worldcon 2010 website has both relocated and had a make-over. It can now be found at www.aussiecon4.org.au. They have announced an extension to the child rates. Membership for zero to up to five years as they will be at on 2nd September 2010 is free, while membership for 5 - 16 year olds as on 2nd September 2010 accompanied by their parents is currently AU$50.   There is also a blog and a Facebook group called 'Aussiecon4'.   The committee is also developing with appointments being made to cover key positions recently made with Peter Jordan taking on the Dealers' Room and Natalie Maclachlan as the crèche co-ordinator. +++ Australia information websites:

 

The Seattle 2011 Worldcon bid has folded. The vote for the 2011 Worldcon was due to take place at this year's Worldcon (Anticipation) in Canada in August. Seattle have decided to withdraw because of competition for Seattle conference facilities in late summer 2011. It seems that others wanted the facilities and had more money to commit a financial deposit. The Seattle Worldcon bid naturally has little money and so could only financially commit after winning the bid in August (2009). This means that Reno (again US) is the only other Worldcon bid for 2011 (joke bids excepted). Meanwhile the Seattle bid team are considering whether to bid for another year, however (unless there is some reason why 2011 was anomalous) it is likely that they will face a similar problem.

Worldcon 2012 has a new bid from Texas, US. The ALAMO SF group are behind it: they previously did LonStarCon II. At the moment there is no venue city but no doubt all will become clear at this year's Worldcon (Anticipation) in Canada in August.

Europe for Worldcon 2014... Now this is very early days and is only just a little more than talk... well some work by a preparatory team has been done. Venues have been looked at (including on mainland Europe in the Netherlands) and apparently the hot contenders are either Glasgow or London. However it could well be that there may be a bid launch in London at the Odyssey2010 Euroconference.

Why do the Worldcon's Hugo Awards sometimes fail to recognise true SF excellence? Well, the answer is too long to go into here, other than it is blatantly clear that occasionally some really dire offerings end up with the award. However Adamosf has cited some examples from past years of who he would have preferred win visionsofparadise.blogspot.com/2009/02/if-i-selected-hugo-awards.html.

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

 

Meanwhile over in Europe...

The 2009 Eurocon was held in Italy. 270 attended to see Sergey (Night Watch) Lukyanenko (Russian writer), Ian Watson (UK author) and Marina Sirtis (US actress). (That's around 80 more than the Italians usually get at their usual (non-Eurocon) event.) A last minute surprise guest was US cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling. The usual mix of markedly different fan communities from across Europe joined with a common appreciation of the genre made this one of the better Eurocons. In addition to the Italians there were a half dozen Swedish, three or four Hungarians (3-4?), two or three Romanians, several from the British Isles, a small group of several Russians and a similar number of Ukrainians, two or three Spanish, up to half a dozen Germans, a few from Slovakia, a few Polish, one Greek, one Bulgarian, one from Belgium, and one New-Zealander living in Germany. Austria, Lithuania and Croatia were also represented.   Of goings-on much could be said. Suffice to say that author Ian Watson kept the English flag flying and helpfully explained to the Italians cultural differences. (Here, for example, what is the difference between the Scottish Mafia and that Italian Mafia? While the Italians you make proposed that you cannot refuse, the Scottish Mafia would make a proposal you that you cannot understand.) Perhaps the most successful fan part of the event was the 'Eatcon', a regional buffet post-dinner with food and wine from every corner of Italy brought by the host-nation fans and with some delicacies brought by foreign guests.   Meanwhile there was the usual European SF Society farce business meeting. Apparently it was as usual "a bit chaotic but it could have been worse, at least it was possible to keep it shorter than [it has previously]". Fortunately in the middle of some rather silly nominations - (which this year included one magazine whose European success is such that it folded after barely a couple of years, and another fanzine that happily translates western material without obtaining copyright permission, with one nation excelling in this inanity as it did in 2006) - there were also a few good ones. Yet another area in which the ESFS officers really do need to get a grip (but are unlikely to) as the former undermine the standing of the latter. How far towards one or the other this year's Eurocon Awards results lie you can decide for yourself but there are a good number of real SF gems in the mix:-
          Hall of Fame:-
                    Author: Roberto Quaglia (Italy)
                    Promoter: Bons Sidyuk (Ukraine)
                    Translator: Flora Staglianò (Italy)
                    Magazine: Nova SF (Sweden)
                    Publisher: Metropolis Media (Hungary)
                    Artist: Franco Brambilla (Italy)
                    Fanzine: Andromeda Nachrichten (Germany)
                    Dramatic Presentation: 'Nivel' ['Theatrical Novel'] by Maryna and Sergey Dychenko (Ukraine)
                    Special Prize - European Grandmaster: Christopher Priest (England)
          Encouragement Awards:-
                    'Light Through The Shadow' (Bulgaria)
                    Dan Dobos (Romania)
                    Dmitry Kolodan (Russia)
                    Olga Onoitis (Ukraine)
                    Krzysztof Piskorski (Poland)
Of course other than the previous comment, we should add that among the above, and as with this year's Hugo nominations, are two vaguely associated with Concatenation! (Dignity now...)

The Odyssey 2010 Euroconference in London is still moving forward. The effects of the 2009 Eurocon in Italy have yet to be fully realised but we can say that not only is there on-going progress for the London Euroconference combined with British national convention (see last time's news) but interest is beginning to ramp up in continental Europe. Check out www.odyssey2010.org, and some of Concat's team are involved in a tourist day in London for continental European visitors the Wednesday before local fans gather for the convention's beginning (Thursday evening). So London is where you may want to be for Easter 2010. +++ Calling European convention organisers. Odyssey 2010 will be having a table at the Canadian Worldcon. Odyssey 2010 would be pleased to carry leaflets promoting European national conventions if European nation conventions can kindly reciprocate by distributing Odyssey 2010 leaflets at their convention. Any mainland European convention interested should contact Rita at enquiries [-at-] odyssey2010 [-dot-] org.

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

For links to Worldcon bid websites check out - http://worldcon.org/bids - 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 2009

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

The important stuff first...

The good news is that no fans or authors have been directly affected by the fires in Australia's Queensland, Northern NSW and Victoria. The Australian SF Bullsheet's news is reassuring. The Bullsheet also reports on fan concern for animals affected by the fires.   We tend to forget that World events such as the China earthquake or US hurricane Katrina can affect SF fans and pros too.

Hugo Award no. 1 - There has been debate as to who received the first Hugo Award - Forrest Ackerman or Ken Slater? Both Forrest and Ken recently died but who was the recipient of the first ever Hugo? The 1953 Award to Forrest Ackerman was thought to be the first as it was the first Hugo actually presented at the first Hugo Award ceremony. The question recently came to be asked as apparently the Formalization of Long List Entries (FOLLE) Committee of the World SF Society business meeting at Worldcon, which manages Worldcon (hence Hugo Award) affairs, at first decided that the award given Forrest back in 1953 was not a Hugo but a special committee award.   To cut a long story short, upon investigation it transpired that it was a Hugo complete with rocket trophy. A further complication had been that Forrest (understandably) passed on the Hugo to Ken Slater as he considered him a more deserving recipient of the accolade. However that was subsequent to his receiving the award as voted for by the fans. +++ For details a coherent account can be found at http://www.sfawardswatch.com/?p=1528. +++ Ackerman SFnal memorabilia is being sold. See news above.

Emirates Airline runs inaugural Arab literary festival and an SF presence. Billed as the 'first true literary Festival in the Middle East celebrating the world of books in all its infinite variety' (i.e. not just SF) it was held in Dubai at the end of February and lasted four days. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has had a long-term goal of eradicating illiteracy from the Arab World. Though this goal has not yet been achieved, so much has been done that it was thought that this was the right time for such an Arabian Festival. Indeed its final day was dedicated to education. As such it was for pupils and students, and visiting authors visited many of them at their various schools and universities around Dubai: they tried to get each writer to visit at leas one educational establishment in fringe events before and after the festival proper. In attendance as one of the 65 guests (yes '65') was SF author Brian Aldiss (whose talk was titlted 'The Permian in the Brain'). Margaret Atwood was due to attend but (according to The Bookseller) pulled out due the organisers' decision to drop Penguin's launch at the event of The Gulf Between Us by Geraldine Bedell. (Our Concatenation take is that whatever the reason - and there is some debate behind the story - it is well within the organisers' rights to give time and space to whatever events they chose: the event is their event!) Subsequently we have been told that Margaret Atwood had a video presence.   Also in the mix waving the SF flag was mega-publisher supremo Malcolm Edwards There were five parallel programme streams of hour-long sessions that were each followed by half an hour of questions and answers. Brian Aldiss says "the event was well-conceived, well-planned, and well-attended." +++ See also Brian Aldiss' news earlier. +++ See also our 2007 report of the first Arabian SF convention courtesy Kawthar Ayed.

British Eastercon goes musical. As this season's newscast is coded, and this editions stand-alone articles and reviews are embedded in this website, so the UK Eastercon is taking place in Bradford making any news irrelevant to any considering going (it is too late as the event will have happened by the time you read this) and there is no resultant news (as the event has not yet happened at the time of writing). However we have just been told that the convention will (did?) see a 36 piece orchestra perform and this surely has to be something of a first for an Eastercon: though of course musicals have been known before with the Sorensen rock numbers and also the Hawkwind concert in the 1980s. We understand that the National Festival orchestra will be providing (had provided?) a medley of classical covers of SFnal ditties.

Sci-Fi London is back for its 8th incarnation and as usual with loads of premieres. The event takes place 29th April - 4th May shortly after we are due to post this season's news. The opening night premiere is Blood: The Last Vampire. Then there is also have the world premiere of The Hunt For Gollum, a stunning fan film based on Tolkien's notes, with production values that are a match for Peter Jackson's award-winning trilogy. This is an exclusive screening being simultaneously released onto the web at www.dailymotion.com. It is part of a 'fan films' strand SFL are running for the first time. In addition to the films, the programme includes authors China Mieville and Robert Rankin, comics story writer Kevin O'Neill and filmmaker Marc Caro. There are the usual two parallel film streams, the 48 hour film challenge, the all-nighters, the Sunday pub quiz and buried in the mix even a dash of Concatenation science. (What? Yes. Concat science...). +++ Last year's SFL coverage is here.

The Science Fiction Foundation's Annual General Meeting as well as that of the British SF Association's will be in London Saturday 27th June. Yes, you can get your fill of SF governance at this two-in-one gathering at the Conway Hall.

SF art exhibition in NW United States. The Northwestern University's Charles Deering Library in Evanston, Illinois, will be hosting a display of science fiction artwork to 30th June 2. Artists' work on display included that of Chesley Bonestell, Richard Powers, Kelly Freas, and Ed Emshwiller.

Wallace and Gromit science exhibition in London. The Science Museum, Kensington, is hosting the 'Wallace & Gromit present A World of Cracking Ideas' exhibition through to 1st November.

Delta Award submissions open to amateur makers of fantastic films from many countries. The Delta Award has been presented for many years at the Festival of Fantastic Films (Manchester): this year's event is 16th - 18th October. Entries fall into the general categories of fantasy, supernatural horror or science fiction, there is no fee and the deadline is 29 August; full details are available from the Fest's website. In recent years, films have been submitted from as far a field as the USA and Australia, Spain and Singapore, Canada and China.

Seattle (US) to host new Fantastic Film Festival. It will be held 18th - 20th September 2009 at the SIFF Cinema at McCaw Hall in Seattle, Washington. The festival will include feature-length films, shorts, and genre-specific documentaries. In addition to the screenings, MIFFF plans to have panel discussions, Q & A's with filmmakers, and after parties. It is called the Maelstrom International Fantastic Film Festival and details can be found on their website www.mifff.org. If successful it could be part of a series.

The DUFF race to bring an SF fan from Australia to this year's Worldcon in Canada is on. Emma Hawkes, Chris Nelson, David Cake and Grant Watson (the pair), and Alison Barton are in the running. Since 1972 the Down Under Fan Fund (DUFF), a fan-supported fund, has encouraged closer ties between science- fiction fans in Australasia and North America through an alternating exchange of representatives. DUFF delegates attend the Worldcon or a national convention in the host country and visit fans they might otherwise never meet in person. This year the vote is for an Australasian fan to travel to the 2009 Worldcon, Anticipation in Montreal, Canada. There will be a link and other details on the Australian SF Bullsheet March and April issues.

NoFF (Nordic Fan Fund) delegate announced. Senja Hirsjärvi is this year's winner. She has been a Finncon conrunner a number of times. The NOFF win takes her to Sweden's national convention, Imagicon 2, in Stockholm in October.

The London Croydon SF Group (note: not the younger Croydon Sci-Fi Group) has had its 20th anniversary. It meets informally on the 2nd Tuesday of the month in the 'Dog and Bull' in Surrey St. from 8pm.

The Hatfield PSIFA science fiction group will be holding their 30th anniversary gathering in June. This is further to last time's news. The June gathering will hopefully be the big one with even more people attending. We say 'hopefully' and 'even more' because the current students, being students (bless), think in college terms and though they held a part one event in April, they forgot to tell anyone outside the college not in the Hatfield area such as former members from the group's first quarter century. (A Simpson 'Doh!')
          Old PSIFAns are encouraged to contact Simon Baldwin at psifa_uh [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk as soon as possible. Meanwhile as our small contribution to mark the occasion Concatenation has posted a PDF of the now ancient, pre-desktop publishing 10th anniversary edition of the PSIFA clubzine Hypo Space [Hypo being the former Student Union newspaper Hype of the Poly lest you get the wrong idea].

The Australian 2009 national convention looks as if it is going ahead. Called Conjecture, it had had some organisational difficulties but it looks as if these may well be now sorted. It will take place in June but accommodation should have been booked by 5th May. See Concatenation's SF convention list and diary page.

London party to celebrate latest Star Trek film. We have been asked to give a plug to 'SF Alumni' who are apparently organising a party on Saturday 2nd May from 7pm till late, at 105 Cannon St, St Giles, EC4N 5AD (nearest tube Cannon St). The tag line is 'an evening to honour all things science fiction'. Admission £5. Alas we know nothing of the group and they do not have a website - so no queries to us please - our impression is that it's more sci-fi than SF and so ironically will not be so much affected by the date clash with Sci-Fi London that itself is more SF than Sci-Fi. (Why can't sci fi events steer clear of the tag 'SF' and SF events avoid referring to themselves as 'sci fi'???)

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 2009

NET WATCH

Odyssey SF Writing Workshop blog launched in February. So now those outside of N. America can benefit from Odyssey. The blog's weekly posts aim to provide insights into the writing process and the publishing industry. They include: interviews with professional authors and past Odyssey workshop lecturers, Profiles of Odyssey alumni (where is their writing now), and multiple author answers to a monthly 'Writing Question'. The blog can be found at odysseyworkshop.livejournal.com.

M-BRANE SF is a new US monthly magazine of speculative fiction. It launched in February in both electronic (PDF) and print formats. Check out the site mbranesf.blogspot.com.

Tangent Online almost ended as of March (2009) but survived. After 14 years, and first (like Concatenation) appearing in print form, Tangent was about to end. It was one of the few places that regularly saw reviews of SF short stories. However someone came through with a web hosting offer

Google says all internet sites are 'potentially harmful' and blocks them. For about 40 minutes all websites were so flagged by Google at the very end of January. +++ This happened to Concatenation last year when we were hacked.

Google Books has returned again to making books largely free access without we understand author or publisher permission. Yes, this first happened back in the autumn but this free access lasted only a short while before publishers complained. This breach of copyright included titles such as The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction as well as our Jonathan's UN Environment Programme acclaimed Climate Change book. So can Google be trusted? It does not exactly bode well for Google regarding this season's other story of a legal book settlement with Google being pursued in the US - see earlier story. If you are an author you may want to check how Google Books portrays your work and think carefully before signing away your rights: Google Books is not the only on-line way to promote your work and there is a big difference between promotion and giving it away. STOP PRESS: The latest news we have is that this problem is 'intermittent'. Sometimes Google has most of the books open (free) access and other times only a 10% sampler. The matter is being investigated.

Facebook backs down on copyright domination over users' content. February saw the social networking site Facebook get much user concern over its rules to use its 175 million members' photos, wall posts and personal data as it wanted. More than 75,000 users joined protest groups (Metro 18.2.09, p1). Facebook then withdrew this while it considered options. Reportedly some bloggers think that this latest Facebook attempt to unilaterally control its users' copyright will not be the last. Apparently one of the rather limp excuses Facebook used was that they wanted users' material on other users' pages to be still copyright valid in the event the original user decided to leave Facebook: did Facebook not realise that this excuse actually compounds their dictatorial image! +++ If you are a Facebook user and into SF and are especially (but not necessarily) European based, then we at Concatenation would really like to hear from you about something cooking. Please contact us on facebook1 [-AT-] concatenation [-DOT-] org. If you can put something like 'Concatenation' and 'Facebook' in the subject line then that would help in case your message accidentally gets spam filtered. (This request has a time limit up to February 2010.)

Amazon, the on-line book dealers, bucks credit crunch with 9% rise in last three months of year. Revenue increased 18% to US$6.7bn providing net profits totalling US$225m in the fourth quarter, up from US$207m a year ago. +++ This is of course in line with Concatenation's new year predictions that included the prediction of real shop closes due to internet retail growth. Indeed the UK chain Woolworths has closed its high street shops but now has been re-born online. +++ Top Amazon UK Christmas sales were the book The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling and the DVD Batman: The Dark Knight.

Internet video views grow and You-Tube clearly dominant. Indeed December 2008 saw a bit of a peak on the overall upwards trend in video downloads and that month itself saw 13% more than the previous December. You-Tube is the lead video site with over 2 billion viewed in a month which accounts for over half of all video clips viewed online. The BBC site comes a distant second with some 60 million views.

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

This season it is all hacking...

Millions infected by New Year Trojan virus. Known as Conficker, Downadup, or Kido was first discovered in October 2008. Although Microsoft released a patch (MS08-067), it has on to infected millions downloading malware from hackers. Computers in China, Brazil, Russia, and India appear to have suffered most. This virus also spreads via memory sticks (wands). Since then there have been two new strains the latest of which prevented users from logging on to the Microsoft website to obtain the necessary security patch. One strain threatened to do something on 1st April (Fool's Day) and experts thought that this would be more a demonstration of power than actual nuisance/destruction as the latter (with major viruses) tend to be associated with commercial/political hacking. In the end nothing much happened.

The credit crunch will cause internal hacking warns Microsoft. With 1.5 million job losses in the US alone, Microsoft warn that those being sacked are likely to take out their frustration electronically. According to separate research in 2008 covering 4 years, some 18% of company hack incidents were due to internal hackers. Meanwhile McAfee have estimated last year's global economic loses due to hacking and data theft to be around US$1 trillion.

Those winning X-box Live on-line games are being hack-attacked by losers. Losers are paying US$30 (£20) to hackers who will remotely access the 'customers' PC to ascertain the IP address of game winners. Data then swamps the loser provider's ISP port so preventing the user to participate in other on-line games, stream video and sometimes even simply browse standard HTML pages. There has been a marked rise in such attacks on the X-box Live network this year. Victims can suffer between hours or even days of internet interruption unless they can get their ISP to change their ISP address. In January there were some 17 million members of MS X-box Live.

 

[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 2009

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

US uses science to help stimulate economy. In a move the envy of European and other developed nation scientists, the US has included a hefty boost to its government's investment in science as a way of stimulating its economy following the credit crunch. A total of US$787 (£546) billion is at the heart of the tax cutting and increased governmental expenditure bill that went through Congress back at the end of February. Among the science winners were the National Institutes of Health which got an extra US$10 billion (on top of its 2008 budget of US$29 billion, the National Science Foundation with an extra US$3 billion on top of its US$6.1 billion, the Department of Energy an extra US$40 billion on top of US$23.9 billion (this also reflect Obama's climate change, greenhouse concerns), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration an extra US$830 million on top of US$3.9 billion (with US$170 million specifically for climate modelling), NASA an extra US$1 billion on top of US$17.2 billion, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology US$580 million on top of its budget of US$737 million with much of this extra to go to translating research output into economic applications.

Gordon Brown wants to double UK school pupils taking science over next five years. The Prime Minister wants to double the number of pupils taking 'triple science', which includes biology, chemistry and physics. He also wants to have access to science as single subjects in 90% of schools. Speaking at Oxford University he said he wants to "ring-fence" science during the recession. He emphasised the economic importance of protecting the investment in science. "Some say that now is not the time to invest, but the bottom line is that the downturn is no time to slow down our investment in science. We will not allow science to become a victim of the recession."

 

[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 2009

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

Space satellites collide. A US communications satellite and a non-operational Russian military one have collided 800km (500 miles) over Siberia. The collision generated 600 objects large enough to be tracked from Earth and presumably thousands of smaller ones. The collision took place at 10 km per second and released possibly up to 100 times the energy released by China's anti satellite weapons test in 2007. The debris increases the chance of the space shuttle getting catastrophically hit when it goes on its maintenance mission in May to the Hubble Space Telescope to 1 in 185: 1 in 200 is normally the limit NASA uses (Nature v457, p940-1). Currently there are some 17,000 objects tracked in orbit. So far the International Space Station has had to move to avoid a collision with space junk eight times. Of 6,000 satellites sent into orbit since 1957 about half remain operational. +++ International Space Station crew take to Soyuz due to space junk scare. Subsequent to the satellite collision, March saw the crew of the International Space Station retreat to the docked Soyuz space craft due to an alert from Earth as to a possible space junk collision. The warning came too late for the station to be moved. Fortunately the tiny 1 cm piece of junk travelling at thousands of miles per hour missed. +++ Concatenation has reported on this orbital space junk before. Back in 1987 in our very first print edition (page 6) we noted that there were some 40,000 items over 1 cm across and 6,000 over 5cm large. In 1983 one of the shuttle's windows had to be replaced after a fleck of paint struck it. A study of panels from the Solar Max satellite showed that paint flecks from other manmade objects are the most common form of orbital micro-erosion (Nature v323, p136).

Natural object reminds us of asteroid danger to Earth. 2nd March saw 70 - 150 foot (21 - 47 metre) asteroid DD45 pass within 44,750 miles (72,000 km): that is twice the distance of orbiting geosynchronous satellites or a fifth of the distance between the Earth and the Moon. (This is not the closest we have had for as recent as 2004 asteroid FU162 came to within 4,000 miles (6,500 km) of Earth.) Asteroid DD45 was first spotted just two days before its closest point. Had it hit the Earth it is thought that it would do the damage of the 1908 Tunguska, Siberian strike that devastated 800 square miles (2,000 square kilometres) or a 28 mile by 28 mile square with the power of 1,000 Hiroshima bombs.

Space tourist returns for 2nd holiday. The US billionaire Charles Simonyi (aged 60) becomes first space tourist to return to space. Russian Soyuz rocket has took him from Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome to the International Space Station (ISS). The software tycoon, paid £24m (US$35m) for his trip, will also be the last tourist for the foreseeable future. He will make the most of it and during his 13-day stay, he will help with research projects and take part in broadcasts to schools. Charles Simonyi said the fee he paid was his contribution to the exploration of space.

Dark matter near by??? The European PAMELA satellite has detected cosmic ray positrons between 1.5 - 100 GeV. This suggests a nearby primary source whether a pulsar or some such or dark matter. (Secondary sources - rays resulting from other high energy rays hitting interstellar medium - have a different GeVs.) As a nearby pulsar or other substantial astronomical object is clearly not there then the source could very well be dark matter (Nature v458, p607).

Iran puts into orbit its first satellite. The satellite, carried on a Safir-2 rocket, is for telecommunication and research purposes. The launch of the Omid (Hope) satellite was expected and timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Iran's revolution. However it caused alarm in the West due to it demonstrating Iran's nuclear weapon delivery capability. +++ The launch was almost exactly two years since Iran's first sub-orbital test flight reaching space.

ESA and NASA to boldly go to Jupiter's Europa. ESA and NASA have decided to build on the successful ESA/NASA Huygens-Cassini mission and team up for another venture, this time to Jupiter's moon Europa. Europa is one of the three likely places to find life off the Earth within the Solar system. +++ Of course Arthur Clarke fans will note that this could incur wrath (c.f.. 2010).

Martian life may be revealed by mud volcanoes. Mud volcanoes on Mars might bring material including any life to the surface. Mars Odyssey spacecraft have identified mounds in Mars' northern plains (around Acidalia Planitia) that could be mud volcanoes. On Earth mud volcanoes have been known to release methane formed from biological carbon: normal (rock) volcanoes on Earth release mainly (99%) other gases. Some years ago methane was found on Mars. Methane only has a short residence time in the atmosphere and so if it is replenished it implies a biological source. The methane in Mars' atmosphere is thought to be seasonal. If Mars' mud volcano activity is also found to be seasonal, or decomposition of their ejecta is seasonal, then they could be the source of the Martian atmosphere methane. It could be that any Martian microbial life could be brought to the surface by such volcanoes. The site is therefore worthy of consideration as a future probe landing area.

 

[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 2009

NATURAL SCIENCE

Some 60% of the Neanderthal genome has been sequenced and the jury is still out as to whether they interbred with modern (H. sapiens) humans. Early results do though suggest that they shared with us the same FOXP2 gene variations that are thought to confer the power of speech.

New ultra sensitive DNA fingerprint test will solve more crimes but will finger innocents. DNA-Boost will enable a DNA fingerprint to be taken where before none emerged and to unscramble samples that contain DNA from more than one person.. All good news for the coppers on the unsolved crime case squad, except that they will have to be careful they do not arrest the wrong person. For while it is true that the technique will unscramble the DNA from two people who have the profiles AB and CD it will also create a new profile ABCD. Furthermore this profile could be produced by two other people with profiles AC and BD, or even AD and BC. On one hand in a population the size of the UK with currently some 4.5 million DNA fingerprints on file (one in five of whom have never had a charge brought against them), DNA-Boost should increase the chance of finding a match by 20 - 30%. Conversely if usually the chance of a duplicate is one in several million then the chance of an innocent person being matched increases to be a significant (possibly majority (over 50%)) risk. +++ German police spent 15 years tracking pointlessly due to a DNA profile. They thought samples found linked someone (they called the 'Phantom of Heilbronn') to 39 crimes. It turned out that the DNA belonged to the factory worker who made the cotton buds used to swab samples. +++ Previous DNA identity news: Spring saw European innocents have rights to their DNA records.

Feathers evolved earlier and were more common. Up to now all dinosaurs with feathers (or feather-like structures) have been theropods. Apart from a possible quill-like structure on Psittacosaurus they were not known on ornithischians distantly related to theropods. Now Chinese palaeobiologists have found an early ornithischian (a heterodontosaur), Tianyulong confuciusi, with theropod-like feathers. This discovery suggests that feathers evolved earlier - the early Cretaceous (144 - 99 million years ago) and were more widespread in the dinosaurs group than previously thought (Nature 458, 333-336).

New record for the earliest vertebrate sex with internal fertilization. Most fish (from which all land vertebrates evolved) lay their eggs which are only then fertilised by the male: that is to say the fertilization takes place outside of the body. Now scientists at the Natural History Museum (Kensington, London) have found an example of internal fertilization (which therefore necessitates copulation) in a 365 million-year-old fish, Incisoscutum ritchiei that is part of the placoderms group of species that were covered in tough armour. +++ Further information here.

Early bony fish reveals fast branching to land vertebrates. Chinese palaeobiologists have found a well-preserved bony fish from the Silurian over 418 million years ago (Nature 458, 469-474). This is the earliest well-preserved fossil of a bony fish, which are the basal members of the lobe-finned fishes which today include all lung fish and which in turn led to all land vertebrates. This means that the lobe-finned bony divergence from the ray-finned fish must have occurred by this time which is around just a couple of hundred million years of the pre-Cambrian boom (the emergence of true multicellular creatures).

Dracula fish fangs - reverse evolution. Carp-like cypriniform fish lost their teeth millions of years ago. Now the males of a newly described species, Danionella Dracula has them report biologists at London's Natural History Museum reporting in the Proceedings of the Royal Society (Trans. B). Why remains a mystery but it is an example of reverse evolution: the re-acquiring of previously lost features.

 

[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 2009

FORTHCOMING BOOK RELEASES

Forthcoming Science Fiction book and graphic novel releases

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

 

Sideways in Crime edited by Lou Anders, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16744-9.
This is a collection of crime stories set in alternate histories. Some well known authors are in here including those in Essential SF such as: Stephen Baxter, Pat Cadigan and Jack McDevitt. Apparently, according to the promotion, Lou Anders is going to be over in the UK at a couple of conventions: he is normally US-based and works for Pyr SF.

Shadow of the Scorpion by Neal Asher, Tor UK, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-73859-1.
Space opera with a further adventure of agent Cormac now having to deal with the legacy of the Prador Wars. (Previous Asher reviews include: The Line of Polity, Cowl and Hilldiggers.)

Twisted Metal by Tony Ballantyne, Tor UK, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-230-73860-7.
Yes we mentioned this last time but it comes out in the seasonal overlap at the end of the sprint and early in the summer. This is Tony Ballantyne's fourth book and the start of a new series set in the future with a world of robots. On a world with intelligent robots who have forgotten their own distant past, there is war. However some on the planet think there is more than metal... We understand that this is the first in a new series. Its launch this summer is timed to coincide with the latest Terminator film and Tor (UK) promise some robotic promotion... (Ballantyne novels previously reviewed by our Tony include: Capacity, Divergence and Recursion.).

Kethani by Eric Brown, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16713-5.
The aliens came bearing the gift of immortality. But beware of what you ask for as you might get it... This is the paperback release of the previous hardback. Eric Brown does not seem to get the profile he arguably deserves. Do check him out.

Xenopath: A Bengal Station Novel by Eric Brown, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16742-5.
This is a follow-on (but effectively a stand-alone tale) from Necropath. It features telepath Jeff Vaughan who is now a private detective and on a serial murder case that, it transpires, appears to be linked to other killings on a distant colony world. Now Eric Brown is a workman-like author steadily turning out solid SF tales. As such he has not had much recognition: certainly not the amount he deserves.

The Death of Grass by John Christopher, Penguin, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-141-19017-4.
As you may know, the global supply of cereals depends of the grass family (Poaceae (or Graminae)) of species. So what happens when grasses begin to die? This is the premise behind Christopher's seminal 1956 novel (1957 in the US as No Blade of Grass). A welcome reprint from Penguin Modern Classics as this, says our Jonathan, is arguably one of the top ten environmental SF novels of all time.

The Last Theorem by Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl, Harper Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-29002-4.
This is the paperback release of last autumn's hardback of what is in effect Clarke's last novel. Though the cover says it was written with Pohl (as most of you know himself a bit of an SF grandmaster), the promotional material from Voyager tells us that Pohl was only involved in the book's final stages due to Arthur's ill health but we understand that actually though there were extensive notes, only a few scenes in the novel were fully fleshed out by Arthur before he handed the project over: in short much is owed to Pohl for getting this to us. Naturally we plan to review this one but an initial inspection shows that he returns to his standard themes including alien intelligence and space travel (with the elevator featured and lunar bases). Yes, and his adopted home Sri Lanka is there too. Now, we are not going to patronise by saying that this is a 'must' for any self-respecting SF buff: not only is it so but, even if it is not Clarke at his best, it is a flash of the old Clarke aficionados cherish. Indeed Clarke is required reading for any extraterrestrial intelligence visiting Earth (which, of course, they will given time)... Click on the title link for a full stand-alone review.

The Mammoth Book of Short SF Novels edited by Gardner Dozois, Robinson, trdpbk, £9.99. 9978-0-141-19017-4.
Now Dozois does do a best of SF short story collection each year which includes some novellas and novelettes. He also tends to have an eye for fantasy. So depending on your tastes as to whether fantasy is an added bonus or alternatively a contaminant in an anthology specifically billed as 'SF', you may want to flick through this one first.

The Temporal Void by Peter F. Hamilton, Pan, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-330-50788-2.
Hamilton is known for his l-a-r-g-e books and at 746 pages this one is no exception (which does make it difficult to place with any of our review panel). It is also the 2nd in his 'Void' series. However there must be a good market for this as the hardback (for which this is the paperback release) did sell well. This one follows on from The Dreaming Void.

Dan Dare: The Phantom Fleet by Frank Hampson, Titan, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-848-56127-4.
Another full colour graphic novel collection of the 1960s iconic 'Pilot of the Future'. We have reviewed Dan Dare before: see here. However beware of the price. Forbidden Planet in London has been selling these at around the above price (so we know that the advance publicity price in this case appears to be accurate) but when a couple of the Concat team went to the Science Museum's bookshop (Kensington, London) in February they found that the Museum were selling titles from this series for £20! (Now we have heard of supermarket discount but a bookshop surcharge of 33% over the odds..!)

Make Room! Make Room! Harry Harrison, Penguin, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-141-19023-5.
First published in 1966 in the US and then in 1976 in Europe, Penguin have hung on to the British Isles copyright like grim death. True it has had a few airings since 1967, such as in 1973 to capitalise on the film of the book Soylent Green, but it has not had the profile it deserves. This, says our Jonathan, is arguably one of the top ten environmental SF novels of all time. (The second one - the other being Death of Grass - to be re-published this season: JC must be in a personal heaven.) Click on the above book title link to see his review.

City Without End: Book Three of the Entire and the Rose by Kay Keynon, Pyr, £?? / US$25, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-591-02698-3.
An SF epic that reads a bit like a fantasy. Has shades of Philip Jose Farmer in 'Riverworld' mode... A struggle between two universes threatens to leave the Earth in ruins but it is up to a small number in both universes to muddle through and save the day.

The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction vol. 3 edited by George Mann, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16709-8.
Stephen Baxter, Ken MacLeod, Ian Watson and Alastair Reynolds are some of the major writers in this collection of short stories. This has just been reviewed elsewhere on this site - click on the title link.

Cyberabad Days by Ian McDonald, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08408-7.
Yes, we know we mentioned this last time, but it only came out in March 2009 towards the end of last season and also it has pedigree so arguably deserves another plug. This is a collection of stories and novellas (including one wholly original novella not previously published in a magazine) set in the India of McDonald's previous novel River of Gods (see hardback and paperback reviews). The stories are literary, stylish and packed with SF tropes and in this case best read with a stack of papadoms by your side (and some mango chutney).

Zima Blue and Other Stories by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08456-8.
A new collection of short stories from one of Britain's top writers of hard SF and space opera. Highly recommended. (See also reviews of Reynold's previous collection of shorts Galactic North and his novels Revelation Space, Chasm City, Redemption Ark Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, Century Rain, The Prefect, Pushing Ice and House of Suns.).

The Forest of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan, Gollancz, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09084-2
You know our reputation and of course our past track record speaks for itself, so take our word for it this one is going to be a proverbial cult classic up there with I Am Legend and John Wyndham's post-apocalyptics! It came out in the US back in March and has been causing a decided stir amongst the cognoscenti in the rebel colonies. (It is also being published in Australasia.) The book trailer is in our short video section and we have just managed to squeeze in a stand-alone book review in time for this season's posting.

A Very Persistent Illusion by L. C. Tyler, Macmillan, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-230-71329-1.
When Chris' father-in-law dies some shocking secrets are revealed. Meanwhile back in the 17th century in an Inn in the Danube valley a philosopher seems to have some words of guidance for our modern-day hero. This is a fun and thought-provoking novel with just a hint of a fantasy riff.

The Ace of Skulls: Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08515-2. This is the story of the irreverent and roguish captain of a spaceship. When a heist goes wrong and a space freighter blows up, the law is on Frey's and his crew's tail but only he knows that it was already deliberately set to blow...

The Beloved of My Beloved by Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia, NewCon Press, pbk, £??.??. 978-0-955-57919-6
A collection of short stories long-awaited in the UK. This one is different and there is the very real possibility (such are the authors respective reputations in various countries) that this could really take off. See also the item in our SF/science personality news.

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 2009

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie, Gollancz, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08245-8.
A new stand-alone novel from the author of The Blade Itself which has done very well. Monza wants revenge on each of the seven of her brother's killers. Abercrombie is known for his dark humour and good characterization. This is said by the publishers to appeal to fans of George R. R. Martin and David Gemmell. Other of Abercrombie's books Sue has reviewed elsewhere on this site are The Blade Itself and Before They Are Hanged.

Galilee by Clive Barker, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-006-17805-7.
A rich family's affairs may be affected by the supernatural??? Tony's review of this a decade ago was perhaps just a bit harsh given that time has demonstrated that Barker sells.

Imajica by Clive Barker, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-006-17804-0.
A welcome reprint from the horror author perhaps best known for his 'Books of Blood' and of course his horror films.

Sacrament by Clive Barker, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-006-48264-2br> Another reprint.

Jasmyn by Alex Bell, Gollancz, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08028-7.
This is billed as an ancient fairytale, a contemporary heroine and a stunning read. Jasmyn's husband suddenly dies of natural causes. However it then transpires that there were things about his past she did not know and soon she is on the trail to a fantasy world and vicious sibling rivalry and a stolen love. This is the author's debut novel.

The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas, Gollancz, trd pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08374-5.
A debut for Deas with a fantasy about a world about to be brought to the edge by dragons returning to their natural fury against a backdrop of a society wrought by a power struggle. It is a fast-paced adventure with political sub-plots and hidden agendas mixed in with the action and the dragons. The politics are such that instead of the cliché map at the book's start, we get four family trees. Abercrombie gives him a fellow author promotional puff. A follow-up of sorts is expected.

The Infinity Gate by Sara Douglas, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-007-27040-8.
This is the third in the Darkglass Mountain sequence where the survivors of Tencendor battle the darkness surrounding Threshold.

Blood of Ambrose by James Enge, Pyr, trd pbk, US$15.98. ISBN 978-1-591-02736-2.
Behind the King stands the Protector and beyond him the Protector's shadow... Sword and sorcery. The author teaches classical languages in the US.

Consorts of Heaven by Jaine Fenn, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08323-3.
Kerin's sky-touched son (though not bright he has some magical ability) is destined for greatness... until she discovers her world is rotten to the core...

Rides a Dread Legion by Raymond E. Feist, Voyager, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-007-26461-8.
The first in a brand new series (great for new-comers) but linked to the events of Wrath of a Mad God great for Feist's regulars. It is book one of the Demonwar sequence. Yes, we listed this last time but the ISBN is different to the advance publicity and besides it came out on the cusp of the summer. It promises to be BIG. Feist's last hardback, A Wrath of A Mad, was a Sunday Times best seller for 3 weeks and of course his first novel sold over a million copies in the British Isles alone! (See also author news above.)

The Laurentine Spy by Emily Gee, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-844-16711-1.
Author of the romantic fantasy The Thief with no Shadow, The Laurentine Spy is a tale from the royal court of politics and magic. The citadel is a place of virtue and debauchery but for the spies embedded there, every day is one of danger. A former pickpocket from the slums and now spy treads a narrow path between being discovered and burned as a witch. The author is not related to the science and SF editor Henry, but she is the daughter of the New Zealand novelist Maurice Gee.

The Spy Who Haunted Me by Simon Green, Gollancz, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07946-5.
From the author of Deathstalker Legacy. Yes, there are bad things out there. Fortunately we are protected. The name's 'Bond', 'Shaman Bond', licensed to kick supernatural arse.

Succubus in New York by Nina Harper, Piatkus, £6.99., pbk. ISBN 978-0-747-9929923-7.
This is the second in the paranormal romance series. (When they say 'paranormal' we don't think they mean 'kinky' on the other hand...)

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, trdpbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-409-10066-9.
This is a Sookie Stackhouse mystery. Sookie is telepathic and hangs out with vampires and werewolves. This series has been very popular in the US and indeed there is a spin-off TV series - True Blood - which shortly coming to Europe.

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb, Voyager, hrdbk, £20.00. ISBN 978-0-007-27374-4.
Though set in the world of the 'Liveship Traders' this is a stand-alone novel. Hobb has acquired a reasonably substantial following on both sides of the Atlantic.

Avilion by Robert Holdstock, Gollancz, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08299-1.
It must be about a quarter of a century or more since Holdstock's classic fantasy Mythago Wood was first published. Now in July 2009 we have this return to the world of Mythago Wood. An absolute must for serious fantasy fans.

Conan The Barbarian: The Original Unabridged Conan Adventures by Robert E. Howard, Prion, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-853-7-5699-3.
This volume contains the first 17 original adventures. As such, if not already in the collection, this is an absolute must for serious sword and sorcery fantasy fans.

The Lost Book of Salem by Katherine Howe, Penguin, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-141-03811-7.
A fantasy interpretation of the Salem witch trials.

Just After Sunset by Stephen King, Hodder, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-340-97718-7.
This is the paperback release of last year's hardback collection of short stories from the US grandmaster of horror: their equivalent of our Ramsey Campbell. Should be good. Our Tony will hopefully review for next time.

Lavinia by Ursula LeGuin, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08459-9.
A Princess is to wed for political reasons, against her will, to someone she only knows of indirectly through a shade - a poet's ghost. This combines history with mythology as Lavinia is a minor character in Virgil's Aeneid. Le Guin's various books either stem from the heart of fantasy or that of SF. Either way they are inevitably accomplished.

Republic of Thieves: Gentlemen Bastard Series by Scott Lynch, Gollancz, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07701-0.
From the author of The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies, this is the follow-up to both those and starts off resolving the cliff-hanger at the end of book II. This fantasy series is doing well on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Osiris Ritual by George Mann, Snowbooks, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-906-72704-8.
The second Newbury-Hobbes investigation set in a supernatural Victorian London.

The City and the City by China Mieville, Macmillan, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-1-405-00017-8.
An epic urban fantasy that sees two cities co-exist but denying each others existence. A murder causes the two to collide and the investigating officer has to travel from one city to the other. Mieville is an engaging writer that also has litcrit appeal so this one is bound to do well.

The Cold Kiss of Death by Suzanne McLeod, Gollancz, trdpbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08429-2.
Genny is a rising star at Spellcrackers.com but it is not all fun with celebrity vampires and eccentric goblins freely mix with humans.

Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton, Tor UK, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-71258-4.
This is the first in the series 'Legends of the Red Sun' and is billed as set in the tradition of George R. R. Martin and Steven Erikson. An ancient city is threatened by a long-expected ice-age (we think they mean 'glacial') and thousands of refugees are stuck outside the gates. Not knowing what to do the Emperor commits suicide and so it is all down to his daughter. Meanwhile some Council members have come up with a rather drastic, but effective, solution to the refugee problem.

Orcs: Bad Blood Two by Stan Nicholls, Gollancz, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07805-5.
A new fast-paced Orcs tale with bloodshed and just a tough of tongue-in-cheek.

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson, Arrow, pbk. ISBN 978-0-099-9-51497-8.
An alien hunter is on the case. We understand that this ties in with a separate graphic novel release.

The Cardinal's Blades by Pierre Pevel, Gollancz, trd pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08438-4.
Part historical novel and part swashbuckling high-action fantasy, this is musketeers with dragons. A must for Novik fans.

The Wise Man's Fear - The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two by Patrick Rothfuss, Gollancz, trd pbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08142-0.
A return to the world of The Name of the Wind and Kvothe's adventures.

Sea Robber by Tim Severin, Macmillan, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-230-70971-3.
A pirate sea tale.

One with the Night by Susan Squires, Pan, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-330-46092-7.
Vampiric goings-on in new Regency England.

Blood of the Mantis by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tor UK, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-230-70416-9.
This is the third in the ''Shadows of the Apt' series and follows on from Dragonfly Falling that came out only in the spring in paperback. Driven by the ghosts of the Darakyon, Achaeos has tracked the stolen shadow box to the marsh-town of Jerez. Meanwhile the forces of the Empire muster...

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 2009

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

The Nature of Technology: What is it and How it Evolves by Brian Arthur, Allen Lane, hrdbk, £22. ISBN 978-1-846-1-4017-4.
So what are the steps and processes that bring us inventions such as laser printers?

The Mature Student's Handbook by Lucinda Beckor, Palgrave, £12.99. 978-0-230-21026-4.
Well we are the Science Fact and Science Fiction Concatenation and so some of you continuing your studies hand a helping hand if you are going to free up time to peruse your SFnal interests.

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins, Bantam, £20. hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-593-06173-2.
Dawkins is a very fine science writer even if he did get a tad anal over The God Delusion. This no doubt ties in with 2009 having a Darwin double anniversary.

Science: A Four Thousand Year History by Patricia Fara, Oxford University Press, £17.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-199-22689-4.
The history of proto-science and science.

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre, Harper Perennial, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-007-28487-0.
As you know we cover Goldacre's column in our science fact and fiction interface section below. You can check out his style with the link to his site in our coverage. If you like what you see then get this book that brilliantly uncovers pseudo science and bunkum.

How to Write Your Undergraduate Dissertation by Bryan Greethan, Palgrave, £12.99. 978-0-230-21875-8.
Well we are the Science Fact and Science Fiction Concatenation and so some of you continuing your studies hand a helping hand if you are going to free up time to peruse your SFnal interests.

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes, Harper Perennial, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-14953-7.
This recounts scientific learning around the time of the industrial revolution. As such it covers scientists such as Faraday and Davy.

What on Earth Happened by Christopher Lloyd, Bloomsbury, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-408-80216-8.
B-format edition of a science overview of the planet and life from the primordial soup to today. Now, this could either be very good or promulgate myths such as was done by the recent TV series Catastrophe did with Snowball Earth II. So we will see. Of course many in the public will be unable to tell and so irrespectively this could get rather good sales as the trade tip.

The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson, Corgi, pbk. ISBN 978-0-552-15493-2.
So what real life folklore did Terry Pratchett draw from when he created Discworld? Time to collaborate with folklore expert Jaqueline Simpson. Does for folklore what Cohen and Stewart did for science in The Science of Discworld.

Finding Moonshine by Marcus du Sautoy, Harper Perennial, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-007-21462-4.
We don't know much about this one other than du Sautoy is Dawkins' successor as a professor of the public understanding of science. Also he appears on BBC 4 (whatever that is...)

Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist's Search for Extra terrestrial Intelligence by Seth Shostak, National Geographic, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-426-20392-3.
Apparently he does it without a rifle.

The Book of the Moon by Rick Stroud, Doubleday, £15, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-385-61386-6.
This is timed to come out to mark the 40th anniversary of Man landing on the Moon... Now, we at Concat' remember it like it was yesterday. Huge disappointment that the Apollo missions never found a black monolith nor the note left behind by Prof. Carver.

The Undergraduate Research Handbook by Gina Wisher, Palgrave, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-230-52097-4.
Well we are the Science Fact and Science Fiction Concatenation and so some of you continuing your studies hand a helping hand if you are going to free up time to peruse your SFnal interests.

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. E-mail Brian (follow the Porcupine Books link) first to check availability. Also Essential is now available from Amazon.   Jump to the new specific Amazon link earlier on (but it's cheaper from Porcupine). If you enjoy Concat then you can support us by getting this book either for yourself or a friend and there are postage discounts for getting more than one copy and a further discount is available if buying several for an SF group or SF class.

 

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

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

 

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

Summer 2009

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Dr Who: Prisoner of the Daleks by Trevor Baxendale, Ebury/BBC, hrdbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-846-07641-1.

Star Trek: Full Circle by Kristen Bayer, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-416-59496-3.
A Voyager adventure.

Star Trek: Over a Torrent by Christopher Bennett, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-416-59497-0.
The USS Titan face danger on a waterworld.

Dr Who: Judgement of the Judoon by Colin Brake, Ebury/BBC, hrdbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-846-07639-8.

Star Trek: Open Secrets by Kevin Dilmore & Ward Dayton, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-416-54972-1.
A USS Vanguard story.

Terminator Salvation by Alan Dean Foster, Titan, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-01-848-56085-7.
The official novelization of the film.

Dr Who: The Slitheen Excursion by Simon Grerrier, Ebury/BBC, hrdbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-846-07640-4.

Torchwood: Bay of the Dead by Kevin Morris, BBC Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-846-07737-1.
The living dead walk the streets of Cardiff.

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett & Vadim Jean, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99, ISBN 978-0575-08478-0.
See the title link for a stand-alone review of the hardback: it ties in with the film version of Pratchett's novel. Now if this is the paperback of this hardback reviewed then the question remains as to how on Earth are Gollancz producing this wonderfully illustrated book for just £8.99? Or has there been a gremlin in the advance publicity details?

Torchwood: The House that Jack Built by ???, Ebury/BBC, £6.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-846-07753-1.

Dr Who: Companions and Allies by Steve Tribe, BBC Books, trd pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-846-017749-4.
Actually this is a non-fiction book but we thought that most people who would be interested would find it easier in this Film and TV tie in section. We understand it is a sort of encyclopaedia of Dr Who characters.

Terminator Salavation: From the Ashes by Timothy Zahn, Titan Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-848-56086-4.
Apparently this is the official prequel to the film...

 

[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 2009

SELECTED RECENT DVD RELEASES

Big Bang Theory: Season 1 £24.99 from Warner.
The US comedy series about science geeks (and the science is accurate) who are also sci-fi (alas not SF) fans. Leonard and Sheldon are brilliant physicists who understand how the Universe works. But none of that genius helps them interact with people, especially women. All this begins to change when a free-spirited beauty, Penny, moves in next door. Sheldon is quite content spending his nights playing Klingon Boggle with their socially dysfunctional friends, fellow Caltech scientists Wolowitz and Koothrappali. However, Leonard sees in Penny a whole new universe of possibilities ... including love. This is the 3 disc set and is available from some stores with a 30% discount.

Blindness £15.65 from Fox.
Based on the Portuguese Nobel Prize winner José Saramago's 2008 novel and directed by Fernando Meirelles, Blindness is a disturbing apocalyptic film produced between three countries: Brazil, Japan and Canada. The film is allegorical and very gritty. A few people become blind and it appears that this may be the result of a contagious illness and so they are placed in isolation. However after a while nobody comes to look after them. Slowly their world disintegrates as they barter for resources with the only person with authority in charge: a man with a gun...   This film caused outrage by a politically correct minority who claimed that the film denigrated blind people. Actually the film can be considered to be about the selective blindness we all have to the ills of this world lest such concerns disrupt our comfy existence, and that this selective blindness spreads throughout society.

Blackadder Anniversary: Special Edition £50.71 from BBC.
A special collector's set of the historical cult comedy.

Carnival of Souls £14.67 from Network.
This 1962 offering is a cult film for serious cinematic buffs. Three women in a car are challenged to a drag race. It results in a crash. One woman survives and starts a new life as a Church organist. However some spectral figures associated with an old carnival ground seem to be interested in her. The film might have appeal for David Lynch fans.

Dr Who - The E-Space Trilogy £23.85 from BBC.
Three Tom Baker adventures. 'Full Circle', 'State of Decay' and 'Warriors Gate', that all feature the Doctor's encounters as the TARDIS accidentally pass through a Charged Vacuum Embodiment, from their own universe, N Space, to a smaller one - E-space.

Dr Who - The Next Doctor: The 2008 Christmas Special £10.45 from BBC.
A very seasonal Christmas episode with Davit Tennant set in Victorian times. When the Doctor arrives and starts to investigate a spate of mysterious deaths, he is surprised to meet another Doctor, and soon the two must combine forces to defeat the ruthless Miss Hartigan. But are two Doctors enough especially when the Cybermen show?

Ghost Town £19.56 from Dreamworks.
A man (Ricky Gervais) has an accident and ends up being able to see dead people. Hollywood comedy but with Ricky it kind of works.

The Midnight Meat Train: Extreme Edition £15.99 from Lionsgate.
The film based on a Clive Barker short story from his Books of Blood. Set in the Manhattan tube it concerns a photographer who inadvertently takes a picture of, and then becomes fascinated by, a serial killer (Vinnie Jones) who delights in carving up late-night travellers. More gore than fright but there is a commentary by Clive Barker himself.

Mutant Chronicles £19.99 from EIV.
Four warring corporations run the Earth but an alien spacecraft buried since the ice age (glacial) is woken from its slumber and starts controlling people. As the mutant scourge threatens human extinction, a squad of ragged soldiers, led by Mitch Hunter (Thomas Jane), descends into the Earth in a last ditch effort to destroy the mutants and save mankind.   This is an action adventure film based on the role-playing game. The film has had a limited cinematic release and gone straight to DVD. We have a link to the trailer in our film clip section.

My Name is Bruce £19.99 from Anchor Bay.
In this comedy horror, Bruce Campbell is a cinematic icon of an actor but in real life is selfish and arrogant whose career hits a new low when he has to take part in Cave Alien 2... That is until he is called upon to save a small mining town from an ancient Chinese demon.

Repo! The Genetic Opera £16.55 from Lionsgate.
An organ-leasing horror musical of all things and starring Anthony Head and Sarah Brightman plus Paris Hilton (a role for which she has just been nominated for a Raspberry Award). (This has to be a joke, surely? - The film not the Raspberry nomination... Ed.)

The Sky At Night: Apollo 11: A Night to Remember £19.99 from the BBC.
A special documentary from the long-lived British astronomy series to mark the 40th anniversary of the US landing on the Moon. (But strangely no mention of the 100th of the first Brit landing as recounted by H. G. Wells of the Carvor venture.)

Survivors £32.99 from BBC.
This is a re-release (or a re-copying) of the 2008 DVD release of the original 1975 BBC series Survivors recently re-made... if you can follow all that. The big difference is that the set of DVDs of all the episodes is down from £32.99. The science (and even the portrayal) of the wiping out of humanity is actually better portrayed in this original's episode 1, though the 2008 remake has a better story arc and better city desert effects. The series was based on the Terry Nation novel and of course Terry Nation was the chap behind Dr Who's Daleks. +++ New Survivors debuts in N. America see above.

Charles Darwin & The Tree of Life £15.65 from the BBC.
Wildlife broadcaster David Attenborough's personal insight into Darwin's theory of evolution. This special documentary was made to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On The Origin Of Species.

See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in 2009, 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 2009

R.I.P.

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

Lino Aldani, the leading Italian SF writer, has died aged 82. He was part of the 1960s band of Italian writers who felt it important to include a psychological dimension to their SF be it exploring aliens or new technology. He was also co-editor (with Ugo Malaguti ) of the SF magazine Futuro Europa .

André Caroff (real name André Carpouzis), the French author has died aged 85. Following being in the French resistance during the war, Caroff went on to write short stories in Parisien Libéré then in the 1950s and from the sixties onwards many novels. Among those for which he is known include an 18-book series about a Japanese scientist who sets about getting revenge for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings on her country. He also had a futuristic espionage series with Space Security Special Agent Tom Rod. More recently he wrote post-apocalyptic set novels and two are due to be published posthumously. In total Caroff wrote thirty horror and thirty-four science fiction novels. Arguably his war experiences influenced his writing.

Jose Casanovas, the Spanish comics artist has died aged 75. His work includes that on 2000AD and its early cousin comic Starlord.

Ewan Chrystal, the British SF fan into animé, has died aged 56.

Chuck Crayne the US fan died aged exactly 71 on his birthday. He was a founder of the NASFiC and BoucherCon but also was involved in many other fan ventures. Indeed he helped Australian fans win the 1973 bid for the 1975first Australian Worldcon.

Chester Cuthbert, the Canadian SF fan, has died aged 95. He was known for his very large SF collection (once possibly the largest in Canada) and this has been donated to the University of Alberta's Library as the Chester D. Cuthbert Collection.

Konrad Dannanberg the German rocket scientist has died aged 97. He moved to the US following WWII and helped develop the Redstone rockets and then the Saturns. He eventually became the Deputy Manager of the Saturn programme at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Philip José Farmer, the US science fiction grandmaster author, has died aged 91 in his sleep after a lengthy period in intensive care. He was awarded the Hugo for Best New Writer the year that the prize began in 1953. The author of To Your Scattered Bodies Go which won the Hugo Best Novel 1972, and Riders of the Purple Wage which won the Best Novella Hugo in 1968, Philip José Farmer is better known in some circles for his SF treatments of sex. The Lovers (1961) explores a human-alien insectoid relationship. Fortunately, for the human protagonist (who originally was sent to exterminate the alien race), the insectoids can mimic human form. While the Strange Relations (1960) collection of shorts looks at a variety of familial relationships. Inevitably his subject matter led Farmer to touch upon eroticism and for their time these works were considered by some as risqué. Examples include Dare (1965), concerning alien amazons, and Flesh (1960) where the aliens are decidedly perverse. In 1969 he began a loosely connected series of books satirising a 'family' of heroic characters, including Tarzan, Doc Savage, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond and Kilgore Trout (cf. 'Kurt Vonnegut' - their was a bit of a row about this). The rivalries and sexual peccadilloes of these iconic characters make for hilarious reading and include A Feast Unknown (1969), Tarzan Alive (1972), Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973) and The Other Log of Phileas Fogg (1973). Farmer is also known for his 'Riverworld' series which began with the afore-mentioned Hugo-winning To Your Scattered Bodies Go. In this series all of humanity is resurrected by godlike aliens, and is housed along the banks of a multi-million-mile long river. Protagonists such as Mark Twain and Jack London delight in metaphysical musings, while now-immortal humans overindulge in various pleasures. Farmer added seven more volumes between 1971 and 1983, before embarking on the 'Dayworld' series (1985-90), in which the Earth is so overpopulated that each citizen is only awake for one day in every seven). Alas we lose another SF giant. +++ The April issue of Locus has an extensive obituary and related material.

Richard Gordon the Scottish writer has died aged 62. Writing as Stuart Gordon, his several novels began with Time Story (1972), time travel being an SF trope he was to explore in a few other novels. His work also included the 'Eyes' trilogy (1973, '74, and '75). He also wrote a couple of fantasies.

Alfred Knopf, the US publisher, has died aged 90. He co-founded the SF/F imprint Atheneum that ran for the best part of two decades before it merged with another publishing house to become Scribner Book Companies in 1978. This then was taken over by Macmillan in 1984, where he was a commissioning editor until he retired in 1988.

John Scott Martin, the TV extra, has died aged 82. He appeared in some 110 episodes of Dr Who usually inside a Dalek.

Bob May the US actor and stunt man (not the ecological physicist and former Chief Government Science Advisor), has died aged 69. He was the actor who played the Robot in the US series Lost in Space. He also appeared in the series The Time Tunnel. It is not known whether the stress of the loss to wild fire of his and his wife's home in November contributed to his death.

Patrick McGoohan the Anglo-American actor has died aged 80. Born in New York, his immigrant parents returned to Ireland when he was just a few months old and then moved again to England when he was aged eight. Though he appeared in over 200 plays he was a huge star of British 1950s and '60s television. He became a household name playing the ever-so British UN secret agent John Drake in the series Danger Man (broadcast in N. America as The Secret Agent). The late 1960s saw him create, co-produce, star and also write some of the episodes the ground-breaking SFnal series The Prisoner. The series explored issues such as state versus individual, and identity. It concerned a retired secret agent (referred to once as 'John' (could it be John Drake'?)) who is kidnapped and wakes up in a remote village where everyone is a number. So who are the prisoners and who are the warders? Today the series still entertains and holds its own. A new mini-series is being made. His other role of SFnal note was in the seminal psionics film Scanners (1981).

Federic Richards, the US biochemist, has died aged 83. He played a fundamental role in developing our understanding of how proteins were structured and how this related to their function. He also loved science as indicated by the title of an autobiographical articles in the Annual Review of Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure in 1997 called ' Whatever happened to the fun?'.

George F. Stanley, the US fan, has died of a heart attack aged 59. He was a Cincinnati convention organiser.

Harry Turner, the long-standing British fan and fanzine artist, has died aged 88.

John Updike, the US author, has died aged 76. His first novel, The Poorhouse Fair, was SF and he also wrote The Witches of Eastwick (1984)

Elda Wheeler, a British SF fan since the early 1980s, has died aged 47 as a result of ovarian cancer. She was a member of the woman's APA.

 

[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 2009

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

Can science keep up with SF? A pedestrian question as far as many science & SF Concateneers are concerned - as if it were some race - but from time to time the media will ask it: even the BBC. This time its Ken Macleod, Paul Cornell, Iain Banks and Ian Watson who keep the journalist happy: see here bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7948058.

Darwin science fiction venture marks 2009 Darwin double anniversary. As if you need reminding yet again that 2009 is 200 years since Darwin's birth and 150 years since the publication of On the Origin of Species, now science fiction gets in on the celebration. Tangled Bank Press is a new venture that is currently inviting writers, poets, and artists to submit to the first publication, an e-anthology of speculative fiction, artwork and poetry exploring this theory of evolution and the legacy of Charles Darwin. It is to be called The Tangled Bank and will be edited by Chris Lynch and published by Tangled Bank Press in late 2009. For submission guidelines and more information, visit thetangledbank.com.

Europe's next space ferry to be named after Johannes Kepler who some say authored the first SF novel. This will be ESA's next Automatic Transfer Vehicle (ATV). The first ATV first flew, ferrying supplies to the International Space Station, in February last year (2008) and that was called Jules Verne.   Johannes Kepler himself is the German mathematician and astronomer who was a key figure in Europe's 17th century scientific renaissance. He was an assistant to the astronomer Tycho Brahe but was famous in his own right for devising three laws of planetary motion: planets orbit in ellipses with the Sun at one of the ellipse foci; planet orbits sweep out an equal area pf their orbit in equal time periods; and that the square of a planet's orbit's period was proportional to the cube of its period.
          Kepler circulated the draft of his book Somnium [The Dream] around 1611. The hard science element of this story was to illustrate what it was like to do astronomy on another world, in this case the Moon. The book was published after Kepler's death in 1630. Some, including Carl Sagan, have cited Somnium as the first SF novel. However this claim is debatable as there are earlier works that are clearly at least proto-SF.

Spiderman saves boy on ledge. An 8-year old Bangkok boy on his first day at the special needs school scrambled out onto a third-floor window ledge. Efforts to persuade the him to come back inside failed. However a comment by the boy's mother about his passion for comic superheroes prompted fireman Somchai Yoosabai to fetch from his fire station a Spiderman costume. The sight of Somchai Yoosabai dressed as Spiderman and holding a glass of juice, brought a big smile, and the lad promptly threw himself into the arms of his 'superhero'. The fireman normally uses the costume to enliven school fire drills.

Apparently there are at least 361 intelligent civilizations in our Galaxy and could be as many as 38,000! This useless bit of information comes from Duncan Forgan from the University of Edinburgh who did effectively a multivariate analysis of the Drake equation. Of course this idea is very old hat to SF fans into science and such conclusions have been aired at SF conventions for many years. Indeed our Jonathan has several times over the past 25 years in as many countries having gone through Drake with the audience who gave upper and lower estimates for each of the variables. This tax-payer funded effort is published in the International Journal of Astrobiology.

There could be 100 billion life bearing planets in the Galaxy. But Alan Boss of Carnegie Institution of Science says that most would have simple forms of life such as bacteria. All this is very old hat to SF fans into science; indeed we at Concatenation covered this in our 8th print edition back in 1994 pages 7-14.

Alien life may already be here! So says Paul Davies of Arizona State University. He has called on scientists to launch a 'mission to Earth' by trawling hostile environments for signs of bio-activity as alien life could even be living among us, in forms which we don't yet recognise having fallen from space. This idea is of course very old hat to SF fans into science as it springs from the idea of panspermia, that life seeds itself between stars. On of the more famous proponents of this theory was Prof Sir Fred Hoyle back in the 1980s.

Enough! No more alien news. Haven't scientists anything better to do than regurgitate decades old pap?

 

Pope on fantasy misleads regarding HIV risk. The clinician's journal The Lancet has accused Pope Benedict XVI of distorting risk evidence regarding condom use and HIV transmission. During a visit to Africa the Pope said the use of condoms increased HIV infection rates. This was later amended by the Vatican condom use merely increased the risk of transmission. Both remarks do not chime with scientific evidence and are based on fictional science perceptions. A Lancet editorial in March said the statement was "outrageous and wildly inaccurate", adding: "By saying that condoms exacerbate the problem ... the Pope has publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine. Whether the Pope's error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear." It also said: "When any influential person ... makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record."

Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in The Guardian has this last season covered:-
  - the way science gets distorted with industrially sponsored research into influenza getting published in far higher impact factor (more referenced) journals than academic research into influenza. Does this hold true for other areas of clinical research? If so it is worrying.
  - how all papers - including The Guardian (well done Goldacre for being impartial) - misreported the amount and value of drugs seized in a Taliban operation by as much as 2,000%. However if the media journalists have us believe that every western street dealer passes on all their income (not just the profit) direct to the Taliban in Afghanistan then the reporting error reduces only to around 150%.
  - yet another reason why state surveillance of people and compulsory state IDs do not work, the statistics of what are called type 1 and 2 errors (type I & II errors) combined with the set number (as opposed to probability) of terrorists within a population. Add to this that the terrorists deliberately create trails that obfuscate and what you end up with is the number of false positive arrests (arrests of the innocent) compared to arrests of the guilty.
  - Pepsi's PR agency's banal spoof science that supposedly validates its (yawn) Pepsi logo change. Apparently its due to the Einstein gravitational warping of space-time so affecting light. Along the way the Pepsi agency tell us that a light year is 672 miles per hour! But hey, their fee to Pepsi was probably a couple of hundred inches and for all we know Pepsi hopes to sell hundred of hectares more drink... Goldacre says "And even if this is an elaborate 27-page long spoof, the horror is that it's believable. Across huge swaths of the world, scientific reasoning is regarded as decorative: a rhetorical stance, or a speech in a white coat from a 1950s B-movie. We live in a world that has indulged these buffoons for so long that they think they are heroes."
  - historical scientists fiddling with their data and the latest liar found.
  - how journalists cherry-pick evidence for the story they want with the example given that some newspapers call for prostate cancer screening for all men over a certain age while other papers say the reverse as all coverage will not only be very expensive but cause a few tens of people to have treatment erroneously due to false positives and this could easily result in their becoming incontinent and/or impotent.
  - in the wake of a disturbing incident, though the media can, and does, influence public behaviour, not all suicides can be blamed on media coverage.
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 www.badscience.net.

 

[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 2009

End Bits

 

More science and SF news will be reviewed in our Autumn 2009 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 Aldiss, Claire Gilligan, Sarah Jenkin, Rita Medany, Roberto Quaglia, June Young, Sherry Yao and the many representatives of groups and professional companies' PR/marketing 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 2009 period - needs to be in before mid-August. News (of the past 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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