Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Summer 2010

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 2010

EDITORIAL MATTERS

Spring has been chaotic. To get the bad news out of the way, further to one of the founding team members having a health incident late last summer, a close relative of one of our other core team members has taken a turn for the worse. Both have best wishes from the rest of us.
          The SF front has been dominated by preparations for the largest residential SF event in the British calendar Odyssey2010, the first ever UK-hosted World Horror Convention and the largest non-residential SF film fest Sci-Fi London.   Odyssey was also a Euroconference and so principal operations shifted down from the East Midlands back to our other mission control in London. Pete Tyers celebrated his first days of retirement by going to the World Horror Convention with much socialising and then a mad-dash drive back to Norfolk for a community meeting before going to Odyssey2010.
          To mark the World Horror Convention coming to Britain, Tony Chester has written three horror articles:-
                    - Zombies After Romero
                    - Zombies Before Romero
                    - 'The Horror, The Horror' -- A review of cinematic horror
          Meanwhile Roberto Quaglia visited from Italy and Alan Boakes took him to a local heritage site. The next day Roberto and Jonathan Cowie visited Dan Heidel before going on a trip up the River Thames to the site of the proposed Worldcon 2014 bid that was followed by a journey into space courtesy of the Science Museum's 3D IMAX. Then it was off to Odyssey2010 where we met up with some of Concatenation's book reviewers. There Roberto was on a panel and Jonathan on two panels as well as giving a couple of talks (including the convention's only one-and-a-half hour solo (on exobiology since you ask)). Somewhere along the way, and in the midst of much partying, Roberto won a BSFA award jointly with Ian Watson for their short story from their co-written collection Beloved of my Beloved from NewCon Press… Meanwhile mid-convention the Hugo Award nominations were announced which included one for a book from Roger Robinson's Beccon Publications (Beccon Publications and Concatenation both sprang out of the 1980s BECCON conventions).   Roberto Quaglia has written a separate report on Odyssey2010 which supplements the by-the-numbers Odyssey news below.   And, after all that, we then had to cobble this season's Concatenation upload… (It's a tough old life.)

European SF classics not yet in English. Further to last time's editorial matters we are indebted to a band of mainland European aficionados for assistance with our working with the 2010 SF Euroconference London in getting suggestions for major SF novel titles of European classics not published in English. The article is now posted with this season's (summer 2010) edition and can be found here.

Elsewhere this issue (vol 20 (3) Summer 2010) not mentioned above we have:-
          - An article on Unseen mainland European SF classics
          - Our annual UK box office SF film top ten
          - Oddities, science Forteana and whimsy from Gaia
          - and book reviews (see the What's New page)

Concat Site Alert Closure Reminder. We will keep our currently signed-up readers informed for a little while longer (possibly even a few years) but will be not adding new e-mail addresses to our private contact list. We now have had a regular publishing schedule (see bottom of linked page) for the past few years so you should know when we have new stuff up, and besides we also now post (low down on the front home page) a short, big-font message about the current and next posting.   While we send out a three-figure worth of e-mail alerts each time, we currently get a five-figure a month number of unique visitors downloading a six-figure worth of pages and so the 'site alert' service represents barely one percent of our visitors. Dropping the alert service is one less thing for us to keep secure and to do.

 

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 2010

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

There has been BIG trouble in China with the World's largest circulation SF magazine. – See here.

This season's science and SF prizes included: the World Horror Association's Bram Stokers at the World Horror Convention; Britain's Science Fiction Association Awards at the Odyssey Eurconference and national convention; and Zilants at the 19th International Festival of Fantasy and Role-Playing Games and the Wanderer Awards.   And then there were the Hugo Award nominations.

Book news – Includes : Pyr celebrates its 5th anniversary; Britain's top selling SF/F authors identified; and a lostTitus Groan manuscript is found!

Film news – Includes: The Thing prequel rumour strengthens; prequel Planet of the Apes film rumoured; and the Terminator series of films saved by those that killed its makers!   And then we have a raft of links to short SF/F video clips including one of the Sci-Fi London's 48-hour challenges with Moonshot UK.

Television news – Includes: Loads of stuff on Dr Who; Primeval new season details revealed; and The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells is to be made into a new TV-film.

News of SF and science personalities includes, among many, that of: Margaret Atwood's film career; Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer announcement; Glen Duncan being tipped to be the next giant horror thing (its werewolves); much Terry Pratchett activity; Phillip Pullman's new book causes a stir; very sad news about Jeanne Robinson; as well as from Norman Spinrad and Peter Watts among others.

News of last season's SF events includes: Britain hosting the Euroconference Odyssey2010 in London and the the World Horror Convention in Brighton, India hosting Sci-Fi London (Mumbai), and Russia's 19th International Festival of Fantasy and Role-Playing Games, Zilantkon.

Major forthcoming SF events include in Australasia the New Zealand national convention with the following week the Worldcon in Melbourne (and don't forget we have elsewhere on this site a guide to the New Zealand national convention's host city); London is bidding for the 2014 SF Worldcon; Japan is bidding for the 2017 Worldcon. Early this summer we have Sci-Fi London, and there is news about the 2012 British national convention, Olympus.

Our short video clip links section this season features more than usual and so there is bound to be something for everyone… – See the section here.

Notable SF books due out in the run up to September 2010 include: The robotic Blood and Iron by Tony Ballantyne; Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter and a welcome reprint Xeelee: An Omnibus; also re-printed after many years is The Prisoner by Thomas M. Disch (and we have a stand-alone review here; and then there is the really hard SF novel Zendegi from Greg Egan.   Hot Insight for the autumn's potential SF blockbuster debut! The Quantum Thief (Gollancz) the debut novel from Hannu Rajaniemi.

Notable fantasy due out in the run up to September 2010 include: Avilon by Robert Holdstock; Kraken by China Mieville; the paperback release of Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett; post-apocalyptic zombie horror with The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan; and the paperback release of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudron by J. R. R. Tolkein.

The Spring saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included: Kage Baker, Sir James Black, Knox Burger, Geoffrey Burbidge, Roger Gaillard ,John Hicklenton (aka John Deadstock), Marshall Nirenberg , Leena Peltonen-Palotie, Joe Sarno, Takumi Shibano and Eric C. Williams.

 

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

 

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

Summer 2010

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SF NEWS

Science Fiction World's (SFW) Editor-in-Chief has left! This followed complaints en masse by the staff against the said editor. The Chinese news sites and blogs are awash with the news (for example here). Science Fiction World (Ke Huan Shi Jie) dominates the Chinese science fiction magazine market and had a peak circulation of 300,000 copies per issue in the late 1990s. So assuming 3-5 readers per copy it had an estimated total readership of at least 1 million and as such was (and still is) the World's most-read SF periodical though the circulation in recent years has dropped. What happened was that local state-run authorities in the Sichuan Association for Science and Technology (SAST) wanted greater control of this highly successful magazine, not for political purposes but to make money. To this end at the end of 2008 they employed a new senior editor, Li Chang, replacing Shi Bo who was passionate about SF. Li Chang, it is reported, knows little about SF and wanted to lower costs and increase profits. To that end he apparently: was loath to pay external writers and artists but asked the editorial staff to write and draw for the magazine; switched the magazine's paper stock to a lower grade; reduced writers' wages and 'like migrant workers on a construction site' delayed payments; reduced authors' percentage from copyright sales; brought in an advertising manager whose policies included cover adverts rather than SFnal artwork; and reduced staff benefits such as an annual health check. The bottom line has been that the magazine's circulation has apparently plummeted to about a third that of when it was at its peak. When challenged Li Chang would allegedly threaten staff with retribution citing his SAST contacts. Then on 21st March when Li Chang was away in Taiwan on a business trip, the editorial staff posted their complaints on an outside wall and this was quickly picked up by the local news. The word spread quickly with much comment. Support for the magazine staff grew including from many of China's SF personalities and authors.   SFW was started under the auspices of SAST in 1979 but SAST did not know how to develop the magazine, to make it attractive to SF aficionados, and so in the 1980s SAST handed the reins over to a group of young writers led by Yang Xiao. The magazine began to grow and by the 1990s SFW effectively had a cult following.   Greed and cronyism is still a problem in some strands of Chinese life impeding the nation's development. The question remains as to whether SFW will be left in capable hands of someone who has a passion for SF as well as business sense, and that SAST do not cream-off too much of the publication's income. Meanwhile Liu Chengshu will be acting editor in the interim. We will keep an eye on this for next season.

The Zilants were presented at the 19th International Festival of Fantasy and Role-Playing Games, Zilantkon (see Zilantkon report below). The Big Zilant is a juried award presented for a significant SF/F work of the previous year that has not been recognised by the other major SF awards (Snails, Interpresscon awards etc).
          The 2009 Big Zilant went to Holm Van Hare for his novel The Great Moon Incident.
          The Little Zilant goes to those facilitating SF/F and the 2009 award went to Vladislav Khabarov (Russia's Peter Weston) for many years support of Zilantkon and the production of the Big Zilant Awards.
(News of the 2007 Big Zilant was previously posted here.)

The nominations for the 2010 Hugo Awards for 'SF achievement' covering the year 2009 were announced at the British national convention and Euroconference, Odyssey2010, in London. The nominations for the principal categories were:-
Best Novel:-
          Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
          The City and the City by China Mieville
          Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd America by Robert Charles Wilson
          Palimpest by Catheryne M. Valente
          Wake by Robert J. Sawyer
          The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form:-
          Avatar
          District 9
          Moon
          Star Trek
          Up
Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form:-
          Dr Who: 'The Next Doctor'
          Dr Who: 'Planet of the Dead'
          Dr Who: 'The Waters of Mars'
          Dollhouse: 'Epitaph'
          Flashforward: 'No More Good Days'
Other categories briefly. The 'Best Semi-Prozine' category has both Ansible and Locus nominated both of which would normally be the hot contenders but this year the award is likely to go to Locus as we sadly lost its editor Charles Brown last summer and the SF community will naturally want to pay a tribute to his years of dedication.   One Hugo nomination, in the 'Best Related Work' category, is Canary Fever: Reviews by John Clute from Beccon Publications. (Of course we are a little delighted with this nomination not just for Clute but for Beccon Publications which, like Concatenation, grew out of the BECCON series of conventions in the 1980s.)
Comment. Regarding the 'Best Novel' category The City and the City by China Mieville has just won a BSFA Award and it is a title we previously cited as best SF novels of 2009. Also Wake by Robert J. Sawyer we have given a favourable review. The other titles in the short list have not yet been published in Britain.   As for the 'Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form' we got four out of the five nominations in our previously announced choice of best films of 2009. Having said that, those voting for: Avatar will be voting for the sensational 3D IMAX breakthrough effects and not the SF plot (very simplistic – 'unobtanium' indeed); Moon because it is a Brit low-budget independent and a pulp style story (the film, though worthy, is a tad derivative); and Star Trek quite simply because it is Star Trek.   Finally there is the 'Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form' which is dominated by Dr Who and which might get a Hugo as a tribute to actor David Tennant and script writer Russell T. Davis both of whom have now left the show… On the other hand this could work against Dr Who winning as with three episodes nominated the Who vote could be split. Either way we will find out at this year's Worldcon in September in Australia when the votes will be counted and the winners announced.

Russia's Wanderer Awards were presented at the 13th Wanderer convention, St Petersburg, Russia. The event was held last November but alas we received our Russian news just after we coded last season's news page (this sometimes happens). However as (as of April 2010) no other SF website in the west seems to have reported this news, it will still be fresh to you. This year there were four new award categories in addition to the traditional two. These new categories are most interesting and as far as we know quite unique in that they reflect aspects of SF work such as writing style and concept. The 2009 wins were:-
          Best Story: Dmitry Kolodan for the novel The Other Side
          Writing Style: Evgeni Lukin for the book Our Perforated Being
          Idea: Marina and Sergey Dyachenko for the novel Copper King
          Futuristic portrayal: Nicholas Gor'kavyi for the novel Astrovityanka
          Best Print Production: Magazine Mir Fantasy
          Collector Worlds: Norihiro Oono
          SF/F Knight- The website 'laboratory science fiction' fantlab.ru.
Mir Fantasy magazine of course has in the past, like Concatenation, won a European SF Award: think SFX with a hint of Omni magazine. Meanwhile, and equally of course, husband and wife writing team Marina and Sergey Dyachenko have won countless awards in both Russia and the Ukraine.

SF dominates 2010 BAFTAs (the British equivalent of the US film Oscars). SF films saw 23 nominations for 25 Awards (23 award categories excluding outstanding contribution and fellowship). There were wins for:-           Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer: Duncan Jones (director, Moon)
          Visual Effects: Avatar
          Production Design: Avatar
Comment: Well Avatar's win really reflects the ground-breaking visual as opposed to the quality of the film's simple plot or SF. Of course having groundbreaking effects has brought Avatar commercial returns. The win for Duncan Jones of Moon was SFnally far more deserving. As we reported last season Moon has won a number of awards including genre ones. Also last season we cited Moon and Avatar as two of our best science fiction films of 2009.

The 2010 Bram Stoker Awards were announced at the World Horror Convention in Brighton. The winners were:-
          Novel: Audrey's Door by Sarah Langan (Harper)
          First Novel: Damnable by Hank Schwaeble (Jove)
          Long Fiction : The Lucid Dreaming by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
          Short Fiction: 'In the Porches of My Ears' by Norman Prentiss (Postscripts #18)
          Anthology: He is Legend edited by Christopher Conlon (Gauntlet Press)
          Collection: A Taste of Tenderloin by Gene O'Neill (Apex Book Company)
          Non-fiction: Writers Workshop of Horror by Michael Knost (Woodland Press)
          Poetry: Chimeric Machines by Lucy A. Snyder (Creative Guy Publishing)
In addition the convention saw other awards presented including Lifetime Achievement Awards to Brian Lumley and William F. Nolan. The Specialty Press Award to Ray Russell and Rosalie Parker of Tartarus Press. The Silver Hammer Award (for outstanding service to HWA) to Kathryn Ptacek. The President's Richard Laymon Service Award went to Vince A. Liaguno. This was the first time the Bram Stoker Awards were presented outside of North America.

Infini [Infinity] 2010 French SF competition is open to entries of up to 30,000 words up to 1st May. Entry fee of 10 Euros for non-Infini members and there is a prize of 150 Euros (approx. £100). The stories have to be in French and SF (not fantasy). Details from Alain le Bussy xuensf [-at-] gmail [-dot-] com .

France's Pepin 2010 short story competition prize to be awarded soon. A 'Pépin' (seed, like apple seed) is defined as a complete short story of no more than 300 characters long, with letters, punctuation, blank spaces and title included: it is equivalent to about 50 words. In short ('short' geddit?) they are like mini-Drabbles (100-word stories). The first time the prize was organised (2006) there were something like 100 Pépins submitted: now it is running nearly at 500 entries. Just before we posted this season's news the deadline for entries closed, and shortly the awards will be announced with Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes. Such inconvenient timing inevitably sometimes happens with our seasonal newscast, but you do not have to wait for our next news page but can see the results on monsite.orange.fr/prix-pepin. Galaxy SF, France's leading SF semi-prozine, will be publishing the winners together with a selection or the runners up.

The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards were presented at the British national convention and European SF Society (ESFS) Euroconference, Odyssey2010, at Heathrow, London. The principal wins were:-
          Best Novel: The City and the City by China Mieville
          Best Short Story: 'The Beloved Time of Their Lives' from the collection The Beloved of my Beloved by Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia (NewCon Press)
          Best Non-Fiction: Nick Lowe, 'Mutant Popcorn'
          Best Artwork: Stephen Martiniere, for the cover of Ian MacDonald's Desolation Road 2009 UK edition
Comment: The Best Novel win did not come as that much of a surprise as we did cite it last season as one of what we considered to be the best SF novels of 2009 (actually we seemed to have predicted a number of the BSFA Award novel category short list).   The Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia short story win marks a number of firsts. We think it is the first time that someone for whom English is not their first language has won a BSFA Award, and it is certainly the first time that an Italian has won a BSFA Award. Of course that we know Roberto makes it doubly a pleasure for us. What you may not know is that the wining story was the most politically correct out of the somewhat politically incorrect SF collection The Beloved of My Beloved. This anthology and its stories has had some previous success.

SF films top United States' Razzie Awards for bad cinema. Just as SF films have been doing well in the box office and in mainstream cinematic awards, so it has dominated this year's Razzies for worst cinema of 2009. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen picked up the top Razzie of the year for 'Worst Film' of 2009 as well as ones for 'Worst Director' and 'Worst Screenplay'. Land of the Lost got a 'Worst Prequel, Re-make, Rip-off, or Sequel' Razzie. And this year's special 'Worst Picture of the Decade' Razzie went to Battlefield Earth which previously won a staggering 8 Razzies!

Forthcoming Spanish SF film Cosmonaut now has over 1,500 producers! The film is an experiment in that anyone can become a producer for a small financial investment and then the film will debut online for free! So far it has received Euro 311,000 of the Euro 450,000 (£300,000) it needs. The organisers, called the Riot Cinema Collective, do not receive any remuneration themselves. Cosmonaut tells the story of the first Russian cosmonaut to the Moon in 1975 but who fails to return and is given up for lost. He, however, through ghostly radio messages, claims to have returned to Earth but finds it empty without a soul… When completed the film will premiere at the same time in different formats and platforms, Internet, DVD, film, TV and mobile both in English and Spanish. See www.thecosmonaut.org.

SF sells well in spring auctions. A 1938 edition of Action Comics No 1 introducing Superman has been sold on the internet for US$1m (£646,000) in the US. The sale beats the previous record for a comic sale of US$317,200 (£205,000) in 2009 also for Action Comics No 1 but a copy in poorer condition. Meanwhile back in 2010 the following week a 1939 copy of Detective Comic No 27 that introduced The Batman was sold for US$1.075m (£694,450). Then, over here in Europe, 160 lots of Dr Who memorabilia took place at Bonhams in Knightsbridge, London. The most expensive item of the day was a Dalek from the 1985 story Revelation of the Daleks - which sold for £20,400, including the auctioneer's fee. Kylie Minogue's waitress costume, worn in the 2007 Christmas special 'Voyage of the Damned', fetched £3,120. From the same Christmas special, David Tennant's two-piece Paul Smith dinner suit sold for £5,040.

Argentina's Proxima magazine celebrated its second anniversary with a gathering in February at the Centre for Science Fiction and Philosophy at the Foundation Human Vocation, Palermo, Buenos Aires. (Not to be confused with Denmark's oldest fanzine Proxima.)

Peruvian SF/F writers get organised. A colloquium writers of fantasy fiction and science fiction was held at the Peruvian House of Literature in the capital Lima. Those present included: Iván Bolaños, José Donayre, Cesar Espinoza, Ronald Garcia, Juan Carlos Gaspar, Pedro Felix Novoa, Yelinna Pulliti, Juan Rivera Saavedra, Carlos Saldiva and Daniel Salvo.

 

[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 2010

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

Margaret Atwood (the author) is to have a cameo in 'Score: A Hockey Muscical' (film). The film stars among others Olivia Newton-John. We don't know if Atwood actually gets to sing…

Iain Banks, fresh from him being a Guest of Honour at the UK natcon and Eurconference Odyssey2010, is to appear at the most northerly literary festival in the UK in Ullapool in May. Once again among the topics he will discuss will be news of his forthcoming novel.

David Brin is interviewed in the multi-disciplinary science journal Nature. See the story in our Interface: Science and SF section later on.

Michael Crichton artwork to be auctioned. Works by Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg and Roy Lichtenstein, thought to be worth £20m will go under the hammer at the auction house Christies in May.

Glen Duncan… 'Who he?' you may ask, but may well going to be big with were-wolves… He has sold the rights to a were-wolf trilogy to Canongate. Apparently it is a hybrid of noir and horror and big things are expected in the trade. Rights have already been sold to Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Italy and N. America. The first in the trilogy is out on 19th January 2011, so consider this an early heads-up from us. But 'why January 19th?' you ask. (Boy you have a lot of questions.) 19th January is the night of the first full Moon in 2011.

Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer have announced that they are to get married. We join with the many who send their congratulations.   Neil has also penned a screenstory for the 2nd Matt Smith series of Dr Who. Neil called it 'The House of Nothing' but Steven Moffat (current Who script supremo) has apparently changed this title. +++ Neil interview video at www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6282354n. +++ Also Neil has an old stand-alone article in Concatenation here.

Charlaine Harris has had her first British tour. The author of the books behind the True Blood TV series held an evening at a London West End cinema. The next day she went on whistle-stop mode to Nottingham for a midday signing and then on to Manchester for an evening signing.

Ursula K. LeGuin, further to her resignation from the Authors Guild last season, has started gathering other authors who share similar concerns over Google settlement allowing scanning and making available authors' books on the internet. Many seem to share her concerns. She is now taking forward matters with the National Writers Union.

Gail Z. Martin's new fantasy book Dark Haven and Dark Lady's Chosen! has a short promotional video out.

Mark Charan Newton is happy. Before his first book is out in paperback Pan Macmillan has concluded a second two-book world rights deal for an undisclosed five-figure sum. His 'Legends of the Red Sun' series began with Nights of Villjamur that Tor (UK) published 2009. The second title, City of Ruin, will be published in June 2010, together with the first in paperback. The US rights to both have been acquired from Macmillan by Bantam. Mark knows his genre as he was previously an SF/F book-buyer for a major chain of UK bookstores.

Grigory Perelman, the Russian mathematician who solved the Poincare Conjecture, is refusing a second financial prize. The US Clay Mathematics Institute's Millennium Prize is worth US$1m (£700,000). Dr Perelman, who formerly taught in the US, now leads a reclusive life with his mother in their flat in St Petersburg, Russia. He has already turned down the Fields Medal, the World's highest prize in mathematics, in 2006.

Terry Pratchett gave the 2010 Richard Dimbleby Lecture. His title was 'Shaking Hands With Death' and was broadcast on BBC1, 1st February. His topic stems from his own concerns with society's view on death and Governmental legislative guidelines. It is not the first time he has used his position as a poplar fantasy author to harness the media to highlight biomedical concerns and indeed he has put his own money where his mouth is by personally financially contributing to research efforts. This follows his being diagnosed with a form of Alzheimer's. Indeed it was due to this that Terry could not give the speech himself, though did give the introduction: actor Tony (Baldrick from Black Adder) Robinson read it out instead. In it, Terry recounted how his own father died of cancer, who had hoped that if he ended up with tubes and so forth entering him and him being no good to anyone, that someone would "tell them to switch me off". Terry said that in the future when he is in that position, "I sure as hell hope someone will do it for me," Terry's lecture was rational, logical, and it framed all the principal sides of the debate over assisted death. Above all, as you would expect, it had its funny moments. Terry has kissed New Avenger Joanna Lumley and has had breakfast at the White House (but with a few others, he hastened to add: he did not pass the cornflakes over to Mrs Bush). In conclusion said that we should all strive for a death worth dying for.   +++ Richard Dimbleby was a broadcaster who was instrumental in the early development of the BBC. Previous Dimbleby lecturers have included The Prince of Wales, US President William Clinton and former MI head (James Bond's boss) Dame Stella Rimington. This year's was the 34th Dimbleby Lecture. +++ Terry cautiously welcomes new assisted suicide guidelines. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, has announced new guidelines over whether people would face prosecution over assisting suicide. These do not represent a change in the England and Wales law but do advise placing closer scrutiny on a suspect's motivation for assisting someone to commit suicide. It does not affect Scotland which does not have a specific law on assisted suicide. Terry views the announcement as a stepping stone.

Phillip Pullman's latest book is not going down well with Christians. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, has two characters: 'Jesus' and 'Christ'. However some Christians have been concerned on Pullman's behalf, writing to him concerned that he may be destined for hell. "It's kind of them to be concerned," he said, "but I am going to ignore them." His previous 'His Dark Material's books did not exactly endear themselves to some Christians as they depicted the Church as being corrupt. His new book has been published by Canongate.

Jeanne Robinson is sadly not responding to chemotherapy and has been given a few months. At times like these there are no appropriate words. Details and donations info can be found at StarDance.Blogspot.

Norman Spinrad is looking forward to the publishing of He Walked Among Us over in the N. America by Tor (US). It was previously published last year in French by Fayard.   Meanwhile, alas, there is no news on the possible film of Norman's novella Vampire Junkies. Despite having the cast, the director, the script, and so forth, funds were lacking and since it has been a couple of years this venture seems to be stuck in development hell. This though is the least of his problems as sadly he has had to start chemo for stomach cancer. However he has been told that this treatment will not lose him his hair and so, in an act of faith, he has had a haircut.

Michael Straczynski (Babylon V creator) will be taking over DC comics Superman and Wonder Woman titles for the July issues onwards.

Lalla (Sarah) Ward, former Dr Who companion Romana (the Tom Baker Doctor), spoke on BBC Radio 4 of her Dr Who experiences. How when later she auditioned for a Shakespeare part, one Patrick Stewart asked why she chose science fiction acting. Years later still, after Stewart had the role of Captain Picard of Star Trek's Enterprise, she teasingly reminded him of his challenging her over SF.   She also spoke of her illustrating her husband's – the biologist Richard Dawkins – books.

Ian Watson had a good UK Eastercon/Euroconference. Not only did he pick up a BSFA Award with Roberto Quaglia, but his cult novel Orgasmachine had its British book launch some 34 years after it had been published in French and many years of it having cult status in Japan. Seek it out from NewCon Press but best be quick as it is likely to sell out!

Peter Watts – Pre-trial judge heart attack, the marine biologist and Hugo-nominated SF author, continues to have a surreal time following last season's news of him being assaulted by US border guards and then arrested. He returned to the US for the pre-trial: incidentally, receiving unduly officious behaviour (including temporary confiscation of his house keys) only slightly tempered by a charming border office worker. At the pre-trial his case was about to be called when the judge had a heart attack. He had to return to court the next day (so necessitating yet more border crossings). +++ The US guards at the Canadian border apparently have quite a reputation.
          Peter Watts – Guilty as charged! The court case took place just before Easter and Peter Watts was amazingly found guilty of "assaulting, resisting and obstructing a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer". 'Amazingly' for two reasons. First, if reporting is to be believed (and much on the web seems to be based on Peter Watts' own blog), there really was no case to answer. Second, he was found guilty because he technically broke Michigan state law in being slow to act when, having been told to get on the ground: he asked "What is the problem?" before being maced by one officer Beaudry of the border police guards. This was 'failure to comply with a lawful command' and so he is guilty. Period. End of story. Reportedly during the course of the trial all the other evidence presented against him withered under scrutiny, contradictions in the officers' evidence were uncovered, so all that was left was this technical 'failure to comply with a lawful command'. Apparently the jury found it difficult to come to a verdict as they took the best part of a day to deliberate on a specious technicality. So now Peter Watts is a convicted felon awaiting sentence (which should take place at the end of April). Even if he is given a minimal fine, Peter Watts may find that being a convicted felon of the US affects him in surprising ways, not least with international travel. +++ Peter Watt's rifters.com blog post saw over 200 comments posted within 24 hours. Nearly all the comments were supportive but one anonymous challenging post was suspected by other commentators to have been made by officer Beaudry. Meanwhile, one theme recurring in posts referred to jury nullification by which juries are meant to disregard specious, trivial applications of the law. Though if this is so, why the judge did not (or Watts' lawyer) raise this option does not seem to make sense.

Liu Xingshi, who is effectively China's SF patriarch, has given support to China's Science Fiction World magazine editors who have demonstrated against the Editor-in-Chief, Li Chang, who came in at the end of 2008. Another leading author, He Xi, as well as younger writers, such as Chen Qiufan and Fei Dao, have all expressed support for the SFW editors.

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 2010

FILM NEWS

The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells is to be made into a TV-film. BBC4 will screen over the summer their 90-minute adaptation of the 1901 novel byWells with this new version being written by, and starring, Mark Gatiss. +++ The First Men in the Moon was first made into a film in 1964 in an adaptation by Nigel Kneale.

Avatar, the James Cameron blockbuster pre-Christmas SF film has come under frenzied blogger and media attack! Right wing US bloggers and media 'shock jocks' have condemned Avatar for having a 'subtle' anti-American message. The film concerns the battle between Earth corporations exploiting the natural resources of another, lush world, and its natives together with those concerned with the ruination of a pristine environment. James Cameron has made it clear (indeed it is obvious in the film) that the film has an 'environmental' message. That there are accusations of a (partially) hidden theme is a little surprising as the films 'message' is as about as subtle as a miners' outing: indeed, we previously noted that the film's plot is 'two-dimensional', even if the visuals are genuinely fantastical, when we cited it as one of the best SF films of 2009 last season. Yet the reaction from some quarters has been vitriolic. You only have to Google 'Avatar', 'liberal' and 'January 2010' to be able to stumble upon some amazing conservative reaction that claims that the film is unpatriotic: apparently being environmentally concerned somehow equates with being un-American.   +++ See also Cinefantastique's comment.

Avatar has become the highest box office grossing film of all time beating the previous record holder Titanic. James Cameron's Avatar's worldwide takings in just six weeks stood at US$1.859bn (£1.15bn), versus Cameron's Titanic's US$1.843bn (£1.14bn). The figures are not adjusted for inflation or the higher cost of Avatar's 3D film tickets. However the biggest film of all time in North America - adjusted for inflation - continues to be Gone with the Wind (1939). +++ Avatar was nominated for 9 Oscars.

There's to be a second Avatar film. Surprise! James Cameron is up for it though the deal with him as director has yet to be made (though there should not be any problems). The word is he wants a trilogy. Though the only thing is he does not want the second Avatar film to be called Avatar 2.

Harry Potter final films to be 3D. At least that is the unconfirmed rumour. It follows the success of 3D Avatar. Part one of Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows is slated to open on 19th Nov. 2010, and part two is currently scheduled for 15th July 2011.

The next Alien film to be in 3D and may be part of a new trilogy. When we last reported on the proposed forthcoming Alien film six months ago, it was just a rumour. Since then that rumour has been confirmed and that now it appears that not only will Ridley Scott be one of the producers he may also be directing. Furthermore it appears that due to the success of 3D Avatar it may also be in 3D and possibly (note 'possibly') be part of a new Alien trilogy. However the idea that it might be a prequel involving the spaceship found in the first film has been cast in doubt… More news as it comes.

Green Lantern to be in 3D. Again due to the success of 3D Avatar, Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds, will be in 3D. It is slated to come out next (2011) summer.

Luc (Fifth Element) Besson to return to SF. The writer and producer of Fifth Element will be writing the story for the film Section 8 that is set on an orbital maximum security prison.

The Thing prequel rumour strengthens. We reported a year ago the rumour that the next The Thing film would be a prequel. Now the latest word confirms this: it seems that the film will focus on the Norwegian team's original discovery: at the beginning of the 1982 film the dog was being chased into the American's camp by a Norwegian helicopter. What we still cannot say (as we wondered a few years ago (autumn 2007))) is whether, as John (Dark Star) Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing is closer to the original John W. Campbell classic short story 'Who Goes There' (1938), will the remake be worth it? Could it be even closer to the Campbell original or will it be some mash up?

Prequel Planet of the Apes film rumoured. The word is it will be directed by English director Rupert Wyatt. Rumour has it that it might focus on the work of a researcher who's test animal shows remarkable intelligence.

Miramax has been wound up. The independent founded in 1979 by Bob and Harvey Weinstein was taken over by Disney in 1993 but the Weisnsteins stayed with it until 2005 when they left to form the Weinstein Company. So Miramax retained its identity but without the Weinsteins Disney probably saw no reason to keep this subdivision separate. Miramax films include the modern vampire blood fest From Dusk Till Dawn, the reality splitting Sliding Doors, the Scary Movie series, the Hellraiser series, Mimic and Sin City among over 200 offerings.

Terminator series of films saved by those that killed its makers! As you may know, Halcyon films who made the Terminator films was in partnership with the Santa Barbara-based hedge fund Pacificor. The partnership clearly did not go well as Halcyon accused Pacificor, in a lawsuit, of extortion, bribery, and fraud, so calling for US$29.5m (£18.7m) in damages. It did not end well and to cut a long story short Halcyon went bankrupt. When Halcyon's assets were auctioned Pacificor outbid Lionsgate and Sony Pictures for the rights to the Terminator franchise. Originally two more of the second Terminator trilogy were planned. What will happen now is less clear. Pacificor are a hedge fund and so are going to have to turn to a film company to actually make the films. But which film company is going to be enthusiastic about partnering with Pacificor when their previous Terminator film partner was wiped out?   As they say, watch this space. +++ filmstalker.co.uk has the details of the Halcyon rights transfer. +++ William Wisher, who worked on the first two Terminator films, has reportedly drafted screenstory treatments for the next two films. Interestingly there is scope for Arnie to return in the final film, which if it went ahead would be shortly after Schwarzenegger's political term ended.

New Star Wars toys to celebrate SW Empire Strikes Back 30th anniversary. Often referred to as the best SW film, Hasbro is marking Empire's 30th birthday with a range of toys and special packaging. It's enough to bring out the kid in you.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!: Moonshot UK was one of a raft of shorts shown at Sci-Fi London's Indian mini-fest. Enjoy, it is only 6 minutes long.   See it here.

Film clip download tip!: The Story of Sputnik was one of a raft of shorts shown at Sci-Fi London's Indian mini-fest. This short film starts out as a straight lecture but almost immediately jumps the tracks, mutating into a free-associative rant about Russians, the Cold War, etc.   See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Pigeon Impossible humorous computer animation. A hapless government agent has a snack on a street bench so attracting a pigeon. Alas the pigeon gets trapped inside the agent's briefcase, but being a secret agent briefcase it has also sorts of electronic gimmicks…   Six and half minutes long, see it here.

Film clip download tip!: New Cosmic Zoom. You may recall the Canadian 1970's drawn cartoon of a zoom back away from the landscape to reveal the surrounding countryside, curvature of the Earth, the Earth and Moon, Solar system, etc., etc. Well here is a 6-minute computer animation on a similar theme.   See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Lost TV series reduced to 10 minutes. From the team behind the Reduced Shakespeare Company, here is the Lost TV series distilled down to just 10 minutes. .   See it here.

Film clip download tip!: New Dr Who trailer. But before you go and get all excited, this one has had some online criticism.   See it here.

Film clip download tip!: New Dr Who preview. This had a better reception than the trailer above. But then by now many of you will have seen the new Who on TV for yourselves. See the preview here.

Film clip download tip!: David Tennant Dr Who comedy flashback. Huge fun with the spoof comedy skit with David Tennant playing a school teacher against the Catherine Tate 'Am I Bothered' teenage comedy character for Comedy Relief charity in 2007. See it and enjoy here.

Film clip download tip!: 13th anniversary of the Buffy the Vampire trailer -- Yes, it has been that long ago. See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Iron Man 2 trailer is here.

Film clip download tip!: Predators sneak preview of the up-coming film is here.

Film clip download tip!: Fireball XL5 tribute to the 40th anniversary of the Moon landings which we should have posted last summer. Still, better late than never, here is US personality Craig Ferguson's 'I wish I was a spaceman' tribute here.

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

For a reminder of the top films in 2009/10 (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 2010 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 2010

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

UK mass market book trade worth £18.1 billion in 2009. But 20% given away in enticing discounts. 2009 saw 1.88 billion books sold with a total recommended price of £18.1 billion but were sold for £14.4 billion. However at the decade's beginning (2001) discounts were only 16.4%.

Hachette UK has the biggest share of Britain's mass market books with 16.4% sales. (The mass market book market excludes specialist textbooks from learned societies small press sales and others not included in BookScan data.) Hachette UK grew by 1.9% last year. Random House has a 13.7% share in 2009 (14.9% in 2008), Penguin 9.7% (10% in 2008) and HarperCollins 7.6% (8.3% in 2008).

Leading UK SF/F authors in the top 50 all fiction author list in 2009 were…
          Stephenie Meyer (coming 1st in the all fiction top 50 author list with £29.4m worth of books sold in the British Isles in 2009)
          Terry Pratchett (coming 9th with books worth £5.97 million sold)
          J. K. Rowling (coming 19th, £4.19 million and the first time for a while she's been below Terry)
          R. Dahl (coming 31st with £3.367 million sales)
          Charlaine Harris (coming 39th with £3.09 million sales)
          Stephen King (coming 42nd with £2.89 million sold)
          Audrey Niffenegger (coming 50th with £2.69 million sold).

New electronic book tokens a big success. National Book Tokens new electronic book tokens were launched in the British Isles in February and some 48,000 were sold. Furthermore, week 4 sales were 63% higher than week 1.

Then next BIG book thing will be enhanced e-books. Enhanced e-books not only have electronic text but also sound and video. Already they are causing the trade a bit of a headache as they cost more to create… Well that is in theory. A book with many site video clips and/or customised animated diagrams an/or sound and music do necessitate the author getting a higher percentage to cover the production costs, and this is what is (rightly) being demanded by agents. On the other hand publishers do not want to pay higher royalty percentages for just a 10 minute audio blurb from the author at the book's end (or introduction).

Pyr, celebrates 5th anniversary. Pyr, the N. American SF book imprint from Prometheus, has in five years done much including helping to introduce American readers to some Brit authors, then little-known that side of the Pond, such as John Meaney, Ian McDonald, Joel Shepherd, Justina Robson, and Joe Abercrombie. Pyr Editorial Director Lou Anders has been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Editor Long Form for three consecutive years. In 2009, Prometheus Books and Pyr launched a major e-book initiative, with titles available on Kindle and programs with many different e-reader platforms in the works. In 2010, in addition to celebrating its five-year anniversary, Pyr will publish its 100th title. (We wonder whether the latter will be a centenary?) To mark this fifth anniversary, Pyr has organised a 1,500-word essay competition for its continental US readers on the subject of 'Five reasons why science fiction and fantasy is important to you'. The deadline for entries is 1st June 2010. The winner gets an expense-paid trip for two nights to Dragon-Con, N. America's largest convention and dinner with some of Pyr's staff. The runners-up get books. Details on www.pyrsf.com.

Hot tip for potential SF blockbuster debut! The Quantum Thief (Gollancz) is a debut novel from Hannu Rajaniemi, a Finnish author living in Scotland, due to come out this September. Gollancz were very impressed with the manuscript and have given a high five-figure advance, which is most unusual. Equally unusual were other aspects in the way that this was picked up: indeed so unusual that we have decided not to report these finer details lest would-be writers think that such goings on are the norm and that getting published is easy.   Now before you go thinking that Gollancz have gone soft, or that this is just a one-off flash in the pan, there is also news that German rights were also pre-empted at the Frankfurt Book Fair by Carsten Polzin of Piper Verlag for a good five-figure sum in Euros.   The Quantum Thief is hard SF (wuhay!) and the author is a scientist (physicist) which should delight science & SF Concateneers.   Not surprisingly we gently provide the tentative advice that you most certainly will want to definitely check this one out!

Titus Groan lost MS found! The Gormenghast sequel was completed by Mervyn Peake's widow and then lost. Following the original trilogy (1946, 1950 and 1959) Mervyn Peake had already begun to write the fourth Gormenghast book when he died in 1968. His widow, the writer and artist Maeve Gilmore, then completed the story unknown to anyone else. Jump forward to today and their granddaughter discovered the story in hand written exercise books stored in the attic. The sequel, Titus Awakes may well be published next year which is poignant as 2011 will be the centenary of Mervyn Peake's birth. +++ Apparently there was to have been a fifth book, Gormenghast Revisited.

The Twilight juvenile vampire fiction books by Stephanie Meyer have boosted the sales of children's books. With 2009 over it has been possible to analyse the Nielson BookScan data for British Isles sales. In terms of volume (not money which would need an inflation allowance) 2009 children's books sales were up 4.9% and picture book sales up 13% on 2008. This compares with the British Isles book sales as a whole (excluding text books) which were down in 0.5% in terms of volume and 1.2% in terms of value. More than 60 million children's books were sold in the UK last year (excluding text books), bringing in £293m to the book industry. The Twilight books of modern-day vampires by Stephanie Meyer took the five top slots in a list of the 100 children's best sellers for 2009 and well as the 10th slot. Altogether, last year the Meyer books added up to £29.3m in sales or 10% of the total children's book sales. Library lending of children's titles was also up according to the Reading Agency, a charity that promotes reading.

Book View Café has announced it has partnered with Smashwords to distribute Book View's growing e-book catalogue, including titles by from authors such as Ursula K. LeGuin, Vonda N. McIntyre, Sarah Smith, Seanan McGuire and Laura Anne Gilman. "Smashwords is taking a truly dynamic approach to e-books," said Book View Café Project Manager Sarah Zettel. "From the beginning, BVC has promised readers the books they want, when they want them. Smashwords' commitment to delivering multi-format e-books to a wide variety of major retail outlets and mobile smart phone platforms will help us keep that promise."

Ursula LeGuin organises authors' Google petition. See the story in our Net Watch section below.

More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in September 2010. 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 2010

TV NEWS

The BBC pulls out all the stops for launch of the news Dr Who. Matt Smith, and his companion, Karen Gillan, travelled around the UK on a tour bus as part of a BBC Outreach programme. The tour targeted hard-to-reach communities relatively underserved by the BBC in Belfast, Inverness, Sunderland, Salford and Northampton. Each location will hosted a regional premiere of episode one, of the new season 'The Eleventh Hour', for local children. Following the tour, the BBC held events on big screens that included a 3D Doctor Who trailer for Who fans in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Plymouth and Swansea. Meanwhile at this year's UK Eastercon and Euroconference had the first episode up on a big screen in the main programme hall. This was followed by a discussion panel for die-hard fans in a smaller room. +++ The new 13-part series of Dr Who was be broadcast over Easter (3rd April 2010) with a big screen live showing at this years Eastercon cum Euroconference Odyssey2010, and will be launched in the US on BBC America on 17th April and ABC Australia on 18th April shortly after this season's news page is posted.

Which Dr Who is the best kisser: David Tennant or Matt Smith? Billie Piper revealed all on the BBC's Jonathan Ross show. She obviously has worked with Tennant, but she has also worked elsewhere with Matt Smith. When asked who was the best kisser, she paused for a moment before replying David Tennant. Possibly Smith has a little more growing up to do.

Vworp Vorp is a new Dr Who fanzine. Actually it is a semi-prozine, not just because of its extremely high production standard but because of the number of genre professionals – writers, artists, SF-commentators and publishers – involved. It is edited by Gareth Kavanagh and Colin Brockhurst and is an affectionate look at Marvel/Panini’s Doctor Who comic strips and the Doctor Who Weekly that spawned them. The line up of contributors to the first issue speaks for itself. Included in the mix are: Dez Skinn, Justin Abbot, Dave Gibbons, Pat Mills, Gareth Kavanagh, John Daiker, Dan Abnett, and David J Howe. Indeed what stops Vworp Vorp from being a professional magazine is that clearly there is little to no profit in it with its high production standards and a cover price of just £5.99 and only 1,000 copies being run off. The first issue sees 900 copies with a comic-style cover drawn by artists portraying all the Doctors playing cricket in front of the TARDIS, and 100 copies with a cover reminiscent of Doctor Who Weekly. Both come with a set of free transfers.

Torchwood star John Barrowman has joined Desperate Housewives. He went to the US early in March, but that is not all he may be doing over there (see following story). Asked whether he would return to Dr Who he said on BBC's Friday Night With Jonathan Ross that he does not know yet. Well that is, he said coyly, the 'official story'. He said when he speaks out on Dr Who apparently he says too much and gets told off. But he did add that he would go back to Dr Who if asked.

A US version of Torchwood is being considered. Russell T. Davies is reported as providing the scripts and there is even a rumour that John Barrowman may somehow be involved. He has just gone to the US: see previous story.

Flashforward season 2 gets off to a shaky start with just 6.6 million ABC viewers in N.America, down 10% from the end of season 1. We previously reported that there have been story-padding concerns if the series is to be stretched to seven seasons. However this slump in ratings may well have been because it was up against basket ball playoffs on the other side (CBS).

Star Trek's Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) returns to The Big Bang Theory. He reprises his role (portraying himself) as Sheldon's nemesis.

You can now book a Lost flight on 'Oceanic Airlines' on www.kayak.com travel site. Details on SciFi Wire.

Primeval series details revealed. Further to last time's news that Primeval had been saved, it has been revealed that all the cast will be back. This suggests that some characters presumed dead will return albeit as counterparts from a parallel universe. Filming of series 4 began in March. The 7-espisode series 4 will be shown January/February 2011 and the 6-episode 5th series on ITV(1) and final series is slated to begin in October/November 2011 on the channel Watch and then in early 2012 on ITV(1). Pro7 will screen the series in Germany and BBC America will screen the other side of the Pond.

New TV series pilot – The Walking Dead filmed. It is based on the Robert Kirkman comic it is set after zombies have overturned civilization. This N. American pilot comes from AMC.

Smallville has been renewed for a 10th season. The improved US ratings for the last season (current season in terrestrial broadcast Europe) have encouraged CW to renew the series. All well and good, but note it will be the 10th series! Now given that series one saw the main characters in their late teens, the question arises as to when will superman appear?

New Futurama in June. June 24th sees a brand new Futurama (with the old voice cast) on Comedy Central in N.America.

BBC distributes SF to central and Eastern Europe and beyond. Dr Who goes to Macedonia and Hungary are just two of the deals that see British SF shows that will now be seen in local languages across the Central and Eastern European region, from Poland and Romania to as far afield as Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and Montenegro. The programmes will be transmitted locally by Sony Pictures Television's AXN SCI-FI, and AXN channels.   Meanwhile Dr Who has now sold to over 50 countries, Torchwood to over 35, and Survivors to a score of broadcasters. BBC Worldwide now also handles the distribution for Primeval and sells to over 40 countries. Primeval and Dr Who are even the top two imported programmes in South Korea, as well as in the top five selling programmes overseas for BBC Worldwide.

 

[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 2010

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

Aussiecon 4, the 2010 Worldcon in Melbourne Australia, has its Progress Report 2 now out. Its publication date was officially before the end of January but air-mail copies arrived in Europe early in March just over a week before the Hugo nominating deadline: this was the PR with the Hugo nomination forms. Of course the Hugo form was on-line before hand but you needed your PIN number which was on the PR2 mailing label (it may have been on the PR1 mailing label but that might have been binned unnoticed by recipients). The Hugo deadline will therefore have passed by the time this seasonal news page is posted: indeed the nominations have already been announced both on-line and live by the Hugo administrator at the Odyssey UK national convention and Euroconference.
          PR 2's other item of importance was the hotel accommodation form. Though there are a few cheaper rooms, rates seem to be between Aus$100 and Aus$225. However we have found out that if you book direct, or through your own travel agent, you can get far cheaper rates. Melbourne is awash with hotels and (especially if you are staying on before or after the con for a bit of tourism) and do not mind up to a half hour walk or 10 minute bus ride to the con, then you may find other better deals than the those the Lido Events (the accommodation booking organisation Aussiecon 4 is using) offer.
          One final item of note in PR2 is a New Zealand tie-in article, better late than never (this should have all been up front shortly after the bid was won as it is one of this Worldcon's USPs). A page of the PR has been devoted to the New Zealand national convention the previous weekend in Wellington, a city well worth a tourist visit in its own right. Of course we already have posted our own article on this New Zealand SF tourist extra last autumn courtesy of NZ fandom.
          Meanwhile the final copy deadline (10th April) for adverts etc., for Progress Report 3 has already passed and PR3 is due out before the end of April. Moving on, given current timings Aussiecon organisers look as if they might be pushed to get their Progress Report 4 into the postal system so it arrives elsewhere in the World more than a week in advance of the event. This Ausiecon needs to do especially if prospective attendees are going touristing in advance, or going to the NZ natcon, and so leaving home over a week beforehand.
          Numbers. As of 1st Jan '10 the number with attending membership for Aussiecon was a smidgen under 1,000 (up from 673 a year ago on 31st January 2009), so we may possibly be looking at 2,000 or so warm bodies on the day. This compares with the 2009 Canadian Worldcon of 3,370 attending and 4,100 attending the 2005 Eurocon-Worldcon in Great Britain. (If you are reading this in 2010, the link for Aussiecon is on our diary page.) +++ Note: Aussiecon registration rates go up on 1st May 2010. Remember conventions value your money (hence registration) early rather than late and so the rates to register go up incrementally as we get closer to the event. Pre-convention registration closes on 31st July but it will still be possible to register on the door albeit at an even higher rate.

2011 SF Worldcon membership rates go up and the hotel details are now on its website. The registrations rates for Renovation, the 2011 Worldcon, will go up on 1st May 2010 from US$140 to US$160 for full attending membership. The Renovation very useful website has also been expanded with some details of the hotels. Three will be used. While the day-time action will take place in the convention section, in addition to parties, the Hugo award ceremony will take place in one of the hotels (The Peppermill). All hotels are within 10 minutes walk of the conference centre along the same road so no getting lost) and everything is within a mile of the airport. The convention also have a very fair smoking policy that looks at 'both' smoker and non-smoker requirements and include some air filtered smoking bars and a completely smoke free hotel with the Courtyard by Marriott. Five progress reports (starting with PR0) are envisaged and PR1 is due out shortly after we post this seasonal news page. The staff managing the Renovation desk at Odyssey 2010 also reassured that recent border incidents were atypical and that provided you did not try to 'buck the system' and were 'compliant' with border police, there should be no problem. (Though this does not deal with other longstanding US visit concerns putting off some Europeans.) Beyond the convention Reno itself seems an excellent holiday destination with much surrounding natural beauty and the town itself described as the 'Biggest Little City in the World'. So all in all the Renovation organisers' preparations look good and auger for a great Worldcon for everyone that gets there.

Worldcon 2012 has at the moment only one bid: Chicago. Unless a new bid comes along, there will not be a need for a vote at Aussiecon in Melbourne this August.

Worldcon 2013 has at the moment only one bid: Texas. Unless a new bid comes along, there will not be a need for a vote at the 2011 Worldcon, Renovation.

London is bidding for SF Worldcon 2014… It's official! Half a year ago previously reported that a bid was being mounted for a European Worldcon in 2014. Now it has been announced at the British Euroconference and national convention this Easter that London (England) will to be the bid's venue. This is a break from the two previous European Worldcons that have been held in Glasgow (Scotland). The London venue takes advantage of the conference development taking place as a result of the 2012 Olympics. The conference venue will be ExCeL London Conference Centre which has more than ample space and good rail (light rail and metro-underground) connections with central London (half an hour). Western Europeans can easily get to it as it is next to the City of London airport, while Heathrow and Gatwick airports for long-haul visitors are roughly an hour away. The organising team includes those who were involved with the Glasgow 2005 Worldcon as well as this year's Odyssey Euroconference and national convention who also brought us the 2008 national con Orbital. Should be good. You may want to support the bid. The bid will be voted on at the 2012 Worldcon which is likely to be in N. America.

2015 Worldcon currently has no bid. It is unlikely that there will be a firm bid announced for this year before 2011, but a tentative one just might possibly be mooted in Melbourne later this year. The chances are that when it happens 2015 will go to a N. American bid be it Canada or the US.

Japan is bidding for the 2017 Worldcon. We have no news of the tentative New York bid for that year reported last time.

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

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

 

Meanwhile over in Europe…

The 2010 World Horror Convention was held, for the first time outside of N. America, in Brighton, England. Some 600 attended, though there could have been more but the convention was sold out prior to the event which meant that there were no new registrations on the door. There were typically four (sometimes five) parallel programme streams of panels, guest talks and readings. In addition there were book launches and publishers parties, and of course the 2010 Bram Stoker Awards were presented, and rather ably with Gollancz editor Jo Fletcher. During the course of the awards evening it was noted that despite the convention being in Europe for the first time, all the finalists in every fiction award were N. American. This was not a comment on the mediocre and over-priced awards banquet catering, rather it was due to most of the HWA members being US-American or Canadian: if they do not get to see European and Australasian works, they cannot nominate them! (As an aside: The Hugo Awards have a bit of a similar problem, though occasionally there is more than one European Hugo nomination.)   Film screenings at the World Horror Con included Ghostwatch and Lat Den Ratte Komma In [Let The Right One In] (which we recently rated as one of the best films of 2009). Then there was the dealers' hall and a solid art show.   The surprise of the convention was Neil Gaiman's attendance to interview James Herbert (these days he tends to keep quiet as to where he will turn up next to avoid too much attention).   The somewhat embarrassing moment of the convention was the HWA chair-person's video presentation. One of the best things about the convention was the hardback programme book. One of the worst things about the convention was the hardback programme book. (A small printed programme details schedule that could easily be folded into a pocket was desperately needed to accompany the chunky hardback.)   One of the tortuous high points was Heather Graham's (the writer) party at the end of Brighton's surviving pier: 'tortuous' because this excellent party clashed with the screening of Lat Den Ratte Komma In [Let The Right One In] . (Decisions, decisions…) That the ghost train was kept running for the party was an added bonus.   The convention was rounded off with a Dead Dog party Sunday evening. Then next weekend it was off up the road to Heathrow (London) for the Odyssey2010 Euroconference and UK national convention… (See next item.)   As said, this was the first time the World Horror Convention had been held outside of N.America. Our unscientific poll of N. Americans was what this was very much one of the better WHCs. Consequently Stephen Jones, Amanda Foubister and Michael Marshall Smith, who led the excellent organising team, can sit back and rest assured that the event was a decided success and that they have prepared the way for another European WHC in the not too distant future. (See also Editorial Matters at the top of the page.)
          To mark the World Horror Convention coming to Britain, Tony has written three horror articles. Enjoy:-
                    Zombies After Romero
                    Zombies Before Romero
                    'The Horror, The Horror' -- A review of cinematic horror

The British Euroconference and national convention, Odyssey2010 was held next to London's Heathrow airport over four-and-a-bit days of the long Easter holiday weekend. By the Monday morning (beginning of the final day) some 1,301 people had physically attended out of 1,397 attending registrations booked (this last figure includes no-shows and cuddly toy joke registrations); and so registration was up about 100 on the previous (2008) Heathrow Eastercon Orbital's registration number (that was run by largely the same committee). Naturally most attending came from the British Isles but there were also French, German, Scandinavian, Italian, Russian, Polish, Canadian and US folk in the mix. These participated in several (commonly up to nine) parallel programme streams of mainly panels but also talks and films not to mention a few book launches and convention business items such as the official British Worldcon bid launch for 2014 and the official Hugo award nomination announcement. The guests – authors Alastair Reynolds, Iain Banks and Liz Williams – were great and very approachable. Huge sadness that comic and graphic novel artist Carlos Ezequerra could not make it due to family ill health; let's hope for a speedy recovery and that he might be invited to a future Heathrow Eastercon.
          There was much on the programme that was clearly thought out and overall the programme was welcomed by the majority. A minority did grumble that the larger, more extensive programme did not include more of their favourites, but these people missed the point: the idea was to use the increased extra slots to cover different areas of interest such as steampunk, gaming, computing, media, film screenings and so forth, and not to simply provide more of the same. This meant that this year's Eastercon could really be a true gathering of the British SF clans, and given the membership numbers were high the convention did have a feel reminiscent of Eastercons of quarter of a century ago. Of relevance to Science Fact & Fiction Concateneers (itself founded at an Eastercon 23 years previously) was the science programme, and here there were items on: the Life of a Hydrogen Atom; Flying Saucer Patents (and genuine patent submissions for other exotic nonsense such as perpetual motion machines); Bad Science with Ben Goldacre; Geoengineering – The Hay Lecture with Oliver Morton; subsequent Geo-engineering panel; LabLit Fiction; Science and Media (accuracy); Tales from the White Hart (scientific tall stories); Non-Euclidian Geometry; 'Big Biology' SF tropes (this largely focussed on the nature, and different types, of life on Earth and elsewhere); Alien Archaeology (a panel scientifically elucidates from objects their SFnal backstory); Exobiology (the only one-and-a-half hour talk in the programme and which was on one level Drake but on another the tension between divergent and convergent Darwinian evolution, a model exoplanet was included together with both slides and OHP illustrations); kids Science Lab; Pyrotechnics (by a film explosive consultant); Junior Science Question Time; Fusion – Joint European Torus; Physics of Weapons; Cutting Your Carbon Footprint; Climate Scepticism (12 arguments passionately presented and then re-presented de-bunked); Black Holes for Beginners; Intelligent Life in the Universe: Still a Believable Concept?; and Clarke's Law – Is Today's Technology Magic to Most People.
          This year's British natcon was also a Euroconference which was naturally reflected in the programme with topics such as: European Fandom Today (go to Eurocons was the advice as an easy 'in' to many SF cultures that underlined the potential importance of the European SF Society (ESFS)); Should European Worldcons be Eurocons? (only if they have the passion to make it meaningful, and for ESFS (European SF Society) to be actively helpful to Worldcon organisers, were the conclusions); European SF Society Where is it Heading? (new job descriptions for ESFS's officers needed, more active officer posts, and a 'go to' person for Eurocon organiser guidance between Eurocons were just three of the panel's core appeals, but will the ESFS officers take this advice onboard?); Writing in English as a Foreign Language (it's not easy); Recommended European SF classics; and on the science front an item on Fusion and the Joint European Torus.   That three of the Euroconference's panels, each with different participants, all constructively emphasised the importance of Eurocons and supported their future hopefully will encourage the officers to attend to ESFS evolution to ensure that the society is fit-for-purpose in the 21st century.
          Other items included: the NewCon press and Constable & Robinson multiple book launch (of the anthology Conflicts, Ian Watson's novel Orgasmachine (first UK printing having been a cult novel in Japan for a couple of decades), the Keith Brooke novel Faraway Frankie and The Mammoth Book of Alternate Histories) and Solaris' launch (of the anthology Shine). The former NewCon launch saw two of their four books launch sell out, while the latter Shine launch had a number of the anthology's authors on hand, a communication delay (avoidable) combined with a snow storm (unavoidable) meant that only sixteen or so copies were present.   And of course the BSFA Awards were presented.   What was an oversight was that the Guest of Honours seemed to be under-used and – according to the advertised timetable – appear on far too few of the other panels.
          It should be said that very much by and large the convention organisers got it right... but not entirely. Of course, there were hiccoughs: some are inevitable in staging an event as large and complex as Odyssey's.   A significant minority of attendees (we can't say how many) seemed to have hotel booking problems due to errors/omissions in the electronic booking system that seemed to largely replace a paper system rather than be an adjunct to it. (Having said that, while several associated with Concat were at the event and there were hotel booking problems with a couple, with one the committee did do their best to sort things out in advance (for which much gratitude).)   Then there were programme clashes (again inevitable with several parallel streams) but clashing one of the very few film screenings with another of the media screenings (Dr Who's first season live TV screening) was simply unforgivable. Furthermore film information on the programme grid was largely omitted: having a slot simply marked film does not encourage people to go, and there did not seem to be much of an attempt to disseminate the relevant information beforehand (even on the same day). (While film companies do not like you advertising a film before you take money (register con members) – as then you should be paying the film distributor the cinema hire rate – if you advertise the film only to those who have already paid (as part of a film club or event such as a convention) then the cinema hire rate does not apply as you are not using the showing of a film as the selling point for your event.)   A minor problem was that the informative newsletter print run did not seem to be large enough (copies of some editions ran out) but, on the other hand, this demonstrated that they were being appreciated and so was an encouraging problem to have.
          Good points, many. Great programme, hardly any programme changes (Hooraaayyy!!!! See other Eastercons and Worldcons, it can be done), showing some films twice (which helps get around programme clashes), fair catering (though the bar buffet nearly drove many concerned about their BMI to the nearby supersize-me takeaways, the restaurant 3-course convention-special buffet for just £10 was nutritious, basic and fair with reasonable choice), reasonable real ale (and cider), great and copious signage (though it would have helped to designate the 'main programme' and hall the same in both prog map and signs), lovely Odyssey artwork on the hotels electronic signs that changed every 10 seconds, largely good clean ups (even if empty glasses and dirty plates did occasionally accumulate). Plenty of others added to the event including those unable to be present: for example some free old copies of Fantasy & Science Fiction were given. First rate art show, plenty of dealers in the merchandise hall, free cybercafe, and other well-run facilities and the marvellous backroom staff in (tech crew, ops and the green room) all contributed to a fine Eastercon.   The Thursday night buffet and other activities (pub quiz) was particularly innovative: not only did it enable proper on-site preparation but it encouraged three or four hundred to book in the day before, which in turn meant that the Friday registration rush was greatly reduced. The bottom line is that as it is largely the same 2010 committee running the 2012 Eastercon and, provided they do not get complacent (and learn from the hiccoughs that did take place), 2012 should be an Eastercon to which to go. Spread the word. +++ Blog reports of Odyssey: There are a few but these here provide more than interesting snippets: "http://www.bookchickcity.com/2010/04/event-odyssey-2010-eastercon.html" [BookChickCity.com], Nukapai, JonnyNexus, AlietteDeBodard and Pigasus Press (you'll need to view preceding pages from the last link). They all show how different Odyssey could be depending on who you were and your tastes given so much was going on. +++ See also Editorial Matters at the top of the page. +++ Roberto Quaglia (having returned from Earth orbit) has written about Odyssey's social aspects here and Peter Tyers has his own report on Odyssey2010 here.

The European Science Fiction Convention (Eurocon) in 2011 will be held in Stockholm, Sweden's capital, 17th – 19th June.. Further to last time's news (see the detailed news here) several Swedes were at the Odyssey Euroconference (previous item) to promote the event. Additional information is that normally the Swedish national convention attracts about 100 -150 and the 2011 organisers expect to get 300 – 400 for their Eurocon, however the conference venue can hold 500 should more than expected register. They also plan a full programme, so hopefully we may get something like Denmark 2007 which was a Eurocon that both provided the rest of Europe a window on Danish fandom and also Danish fandom a chance to have programme items given by those from the rest of Europe, only this time it would be the Swedish-Europe two-way SF exchange. Tourism may be organised either the day before or after (or during let's hope not) the convention and there will be a party in a pub the night before. Lets hope the organisers sort this out six months beforehand so that visitors booking early cheap transport deals can be present for these extras.

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

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

 

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

Summer 2010

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

The London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film – or Sci-Fi London as it is more commonly known – has gone really international, to India no less. Sci-Fi London is now firmly established in Britain's SF diary as one of the foremost events of the year (see review of last year's SFL) but at the end of January went literally further with a mini event in Mumbai (Bombay) India. Films shown included The Age of Stupid (2009) and Exitz (2007) together with its director Laurens Postma, and a raft of shorts (some of which you can now see on YouTube – see some of the links in our video and film clip section earlier). There were also workshops and of interest to science fact and fiction Concateneers there was one on the science and SF interface. Using journals like Nature, and popular magazines like Scientific American and Wired as well as the science and technology sections of newspapers, it showed how to take real science news and use it as a basis for creating compelling SF to end with some strong outlines for films. +++ The next SFL in London itself will be between 28th April and 3rd May. If you are reading this in 2010 see our SF convention diary.

Sci-Fi London have begun to announce films for the SFL 9 28th April – 3rd May. The line-up will include: One the Hungarian film based on a Stanislaw Lem short called 'One Human Minute' and part of an SFL strand this year that has a Polish focus; Despotisitarios, an SF police thriller from Mexico in a society that relies on clones for biomedical reasons; and Drones, a dark SF comedy from the US in which an office worker discovers that some of her colleagues are aliens. Then there is Cargo a Swiss film about the off-world survivors of a ruined Earth, and Hunter Prey from the US film about a crashed ship and an escaped alien prisoner: it is low-budget but good. One screening of special note is that of the 2003 film Nothing that never had a cinema release here (Britain) and there does not appear to be a DVD either. Sci-Fi London 9 is also running its third 48 hour short film-making challenge. We previously herereported on the first one and the news has just come in that Gareth Edwards, director of that year's winning film, Factory Farmed (Factory Farmed), has just had the World Premiere of his debut feature Monstersat SXSW in Texas: this film got green-lit on the strength of Factory Farmed. If you want to see an example of a 48-hour challenge film then see our link in our short videos section earlier. The Clarke book Awards (as opposed to the space Clarke's) will also be presented at the fest. If the Festival of Fantastic Films is Britain's premiere social SF film event, then Sci-Fi London has to be Britain's premiere cutting-edge SF film event. Neutron star massively recommended. For details see www.sci-fi-london.com.

The 19th International Festival of Fantasy and Role-Playing Games, Zilantkon, was held in Kazan, Russia. It took place back in November but news came in after we had coded last season's news page. The event was successful with much going on, however numbers were down by about a half with only 1,500 attending as opposed to the 3,000 common in recent years: the global economic recession was blamed. This year's event saw a bit more music than usual, in fact it was almost everywhere. Aside from the set mucical pieces in the programme, there were also wandering minstrels and one of the GoHs – the writer Dmitry Skiryuk – entertained with his harmonica. Again there was much cosplaying including a spectacular ball (shades of War and Peace) with, of course, more music. There were also master writer classes from Dmitri Skiryuk, Leonid Kudryavtsev and Andrew Lazarchuk: one exercise involved drafting a memo as from the Orc captain to Sauron explaining how he lost captive hobbits. Included in the programme was an amateur short film contest. And of course there was the presentation of the Big and Little Zilant Awards (see earlier). Next year sees Zilantkon's 20th anniversary and there is already some discussion that this might be a little special…

Scandinavian conrunner convention Snorfcon returns in August. After a few years gap, the third Snorfcon is returning on 13th – 15th Oslo, Norway. Because opportunities for conrunning dialogue are so limited in mainland Europe, this is the sort of thing which some past and all prospective future Eurocon-runners might want to attend. It is also the sort of thing at which ESFS should have profile even though the event is primarily a Norwegian one. Apparently the theme of this year's event is running large SF cons (of over 1,000). The event is therefore very timely as there is the possibility of a European Worldcon in a few years and this time it would be good if event had a true Eurocon feel and so needs the inclusion of the SF great and good of mainland Europe. For further info see www.snorfcon.org.

The Maelstrom International Fantastic Film Festival 2010 calls for film-makers. MIFFF is seeking features, documentaries, short films and animations for its 2nd annual festival.. The premier genre film festival in the Pacific Northwest, MIFFF showcases action, animation, fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other mind-blowing films from across the globe. For additional information, or to submit your short or feature-length production for consideration, you may visit the MIFFF website at www.mifff.org. The Regular Submission Deadline is 12th July, 2010, and the Late Submission Deadline is 26th July, 2010. The festival dates are 17th - 19th September, 2010 in N. America.

Forbidden Planet's blog has marked its 5th birthday. Congratulations to all concerned. Of course the FP central London shop has been going a lot longer (since it in effect took over the baton left by 'Dark They Were') is one of the few shops to have both a good range of books as well as graphic novels, comics and toys. (Though would that the downstairs staff sort their new books shelves by author instead of randomly.) The FP chain outside of London sports far less books, and the blog arguably reflects FP's broader manifestation. Well worth checking out. See http://forbiddenplanet.co.uk.

The 2010 NoFF delegate has been announced. Mirka Ulanto will go to a Nordic con this year. She is chair of Turku university SF and is also on the 2011 Finncon team.

Reminder: The 2010 New Zealand national convention is the weekend before the Worldcon in Australia. If you are going to the Worldcon from Europe, Asia or even N. or S. America then it adds little to the air fare to go to this convention in Wellington on your way to Melbourne. We provided basic details with last season's news and have an article on visiting Wellington elsewhere.

The 2011 UK Eastercon and national convention is Illustrious in Birmingham/Coventry. Actually it will be held at the Hilton NEC by Birmingham airport and exhibition centre. The convention will have more of a books focus than the more catch-all approach to SF of this years Odyssey2010. There will be two themes: 'military SF and 'SF through the ages'. Because of this numbers are expected to be more convivial at 550 – 650, and so it is a change of pace from this year's big bash. (Nothing wrong with that as variety is the spice of life.) The central England venue on the west coast line and next door to the international airport make it easy to get to. The Guests of Honour are authors David Webber and Peter F. Hamilton together with space artist David Hardy and fan conrunner Vince Docherty. The last time this hotel was used was for the 1987 Eastercon at which Concatenation burst into existence.

The 2012 UK Eastercon and national convention will be Olympus 2012 in London. The vote was taken at this Eastercon. The GoHs so far include British SF author Paul Cornell and US fantasy writer George R. R. Martin (more will follow). The convention organisers are largely those behind this year's successful Euroconference cum British national convention Odyssey2010 (see earlier) and the 2008 Orbital British national convention. It is not sure yet whether Olympus will apply to the European SF Society (ESFS) for Euroconference status. This is not because the Euroconference dimension to Odyssey was not a success but because with the possibility of a British Worldcon in 2014 (and so a possible Eurocon), would 2012 be a suitable opportunity for preparatory European fanac (including Worldcon site visits)? The question mark is that this con will be just before the Worldcon vote and so we will not know the result, and also much depends on ESFS leadership and possible ESFS evolution (or not) springing out of the discussions at Odyssey.   Irrespective of mainland Europe, if Olympus' organisers do do a similar job to that which they did for Orbital 2008, and Odyssey 2010, then this could be one of those Eastercons that really is a gathering of the British SF clans and so a convention for which it is worth keeping one's diary clear. More news to follow.

London Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Group meets each third Tuesday of the month at the CLR James Library, 24-30 Dalston Road, E8 3AZ, for an hour from 18.30 before moving on. Details readsciencefiction [-at-] hackney [-dot-] gov [-dot-] uk.

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 2010

NET WATCH

New on-line SF magazine Lightspeed is now accepting fiction submissions. If you want to submit then do read the guidelines first and note they only want SF (not fantasy). Lightspeed goes live June 2010. The URL is www.lightspeedmagazine.com.

Ursula K. LeGuin has submitted an authors petition against Google posting authors works without permission. This follows her concerns raised last season against the Google authors' settlement. The petition, which requests that the United States be exempted from the settlement, has already been submitted to Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court: Southern District of New York. The details are on LeGuin's website. +++ See also the following story.

US Justice Department still not satisfied with Google Books. It says that the plan still fails to address antitrust and copyright concerns and echoes concerns by others (such as Amazon) that it could lead to an unfair monopoly. Previously the US Justice Department asked Google to amend its proposals but the changes apparently are not enough to satisfy the Department. +++ See also our last season's news of the Google Books French court case.

China launches Google look-alike 'Goojje', further to the alleged China attacks on Google (see above). The site looks very similar to Google, and the final syllable of 'Goojje', 'jje, sounds similar to the Mandarin word for 'older sister' ('jiejie'). But Goojje's search results seem to be filtered for sensitive content in accordance with Chinese authorities' wishes. So Google may not be usurped by 'big brother' but 'big sister'. +++ A survey by the multidisciplinary science journal Nature suggests that three-quarters of Chinese scientists would find losing Google would either significantly or somewhat affect their work. (A quarter either said it would not or skipped the question.)

Google removes self-censorship in China and moves to a Hong Kong base. Given the above troubles, and that many computer literate Chinese are jumping China's 'firewall' that censors internet topics (such as Tiananmen Square), Google decided to remove self-censorship it had previously agreed with the Chinese government. Income from China currently contributes some 2% of its annual US$24 (£15.9 billion) income. In Beijing some passers-by laid flowers outside Google's offices thanking it for standing up for its principles.

Three Google executives convicted in Italy for allowing bullying video. The video posted by a member of the public showed an autistic teenager being bullied. The UK's former Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, said the case gave privacy laws a 'bad name'. The three employees, Peter Fleischer, David Drummond and George De Los Reyes, received suspended six-month sentences, while a fourth, product manager Arvind Desikan, was acquitted. A number in the industry find the case worrying. If firms can be held liable for every piece of content on their site they would face a nigh-on impossible job of policing and vetting everything before publication. If who had nothing to do with the harassing incident, its filming or its uploading onto Google Video can be held criminally liable solely by virtue of their position at an internet service provider, then every employee of any internet hosting service faces similar liability.+++ Italy also has on-going cases against e-Bay and Facebook.

Australia is proposing mandatory net filters to block all RC (Refused Classification) content. The Government seeks to prevent hardcore material reaching and using children being accessed. However the industry and information service providers (such as the Australian Library and Information Association) say that the RC categories are too broad and that much legitimate material would be blocked. +++ On the 10th and 11th February several Australian government websites were cyber attacked in protest.

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

The Philip K. Dick estate asks Google to rename its Nexus One phone. The estate claims that it is riding off of Dick's Do Androids Dream… and film Blade Runner Nexus 6 replicant androids. Google claims it is using the word in its original sense: a place where things converge. Of course for right or wrong, Google does tend to attract lawsuits as we saw, for example, last time. However the word 'Nexus' seems to have been around for centuries and does not appear to have any exclusive SFnal usage: indeed it does not even have an entry in Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction.

Google has begun to phase out support for Internet Explorer 6, which was the weak link in a Chinese cyber attack on the search engine. From March some of its services (such as Google Docs) would not work properly with the browser. Google threatened to withdraw from the Chinese market following the attacks, which it said originated in China. In January hackers used a flaw in Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE6) browser to get at the G-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. +++ Currently (Spring 2010) some 20% of web users use the nine year old browser. There is a campaign by a number of internet firms to end IE6 which does not support many new web features and so is said to be holding back web design. Firefox is now second to Internet Explorer in Europe, with 40% share of the market compared to Microsoft's 45%.

 

[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 2010

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

Earth's core may have atmosphere and ocean-like molten circulation. Zonal flows are common in gas atmospheres and liquid oceans. Now Takehiro Miyagoshi and colleagues have investigated numerical simulations of the Earth's dynamo assuming lower viscosities. The results look promising and suggest that the Earth core convection processes may be more similar to those we see in atmospheres and oceans.

The Large Hadron Collider powers up. The European particle accelerator at CERN on the Swiss-French border has powered up for the first time since its accident. Maybe we will have some results by next season's news page?

 

[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 2010

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

India to have man in space by 2016. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bangalore said that this will cost 124 billion rupees (£1.68 billion or US$2.68 billion). +++ In September India launched seven satellites in a single mission, nearly a month after the country's first Moon mission was aborted due to a communications problem but otherwise had been going well. +++ India is also thinking about a Mars mission in 2030.

Ground-based exo-planet study reveals complex atmospheres. Using a ground-based telescope at the Hawaiian Mauna Kea observatory H2O, CH4, CO2 and CO have been found in the atmosphere of the hot Jupiters HD 189733b and HD 209458b. Normally space telescopes have to be used for such work due to the Earth's atmosphere but the researchers have developed a novel calibration method. This opens the prospect for more, cheaper, ground-based observation of planets beyond the Solar system.

A new extra solar planet has been found with an Earth-like surface temperature. Discovered by the CoRoT space observatory, planet CoRoT-9b orbits close to its star in a circular (not highly eccentric as a number of extra solar planets are) orbit of just 95 days. However as its star is cool, the planet's surface (remember it is a gas giant) is between -20 and 150°C.

UK Space Agency launched. Despite Britain having long been involved in space (its Blue Streak launcher (first successful flight in 1964) and which now forms part of ESA's Ariane rocket, despite British aerospace satellites and probes forming a multi-billion annual contribution to the UK economy and notwithstanding six astronauts being UK born, British governmental support for space has been around a paltry £250 million (US$375 million) a year. To put this last into context, this is less than the French, Italian and German governments contribute to their nations' space efforts. The news UK Space Agency hopes to grow Britain's aerospace sector to £40 billion (US$60 billion) a year over the next two decades.

 

[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 2010

NATURAL SCIENCE

Photosynthesis almost certainly involves quantum events. Elisabetta Collini's Canadian-Australian team's observations at room temperature provide compelling evidence for the quantum-coherent sharing of electronic excitation across 5-nm wide proteins (Nature vol 463, 644-647). Previous work (2007) was conducted at cryogenic temperatures. Quantum coherence is necessary to bring together several electron transfer events (and not just one with a single photon) necessary to split water as well as to enable photosynthesis to work at low light levels.

New study affirms indications that life started before 3.2 billion years ago. The Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago (bya), however the first billion years or so saw a continuation of planetesimal bombardment. Life is thought to have evolved shortly (from a geological perspective) after. However some early micro-fossils of purportedly single cells could possibly be non-biotic artefacts. Now Emmanuelle Javaux and colleagues have found microfossils from 3.2 billion years ago that do seem to be genuine microfossils of microbial cells.

African genomes sequenced. The genomes from Namibia hunter gatherer and of a Bantu have been sequenced: the oldest modern human genome lineage. The preliminary analysis suggests that the two seem more different in terms of nucleotide substitution than typical Asians and Europeans who have previously (separately) been sequenced. In short African human genomic diversity seems to be high.

Possible new human species discovered. Mitochondrial DNA from a finger bone found in a Siberia cave at Denisova, is significantly different compared to the mitochondrial DNA of 54 modern humans, a 30,000 modern human and six Neanderthals. It therefore looks like it could be a new human species (though this has not yet been formally announced). The analysis suggests that this hominin split from the Neanderthal-and-modern-human line a million years ago. (Neanderthals and modern humans split 500,000 years ago.) This discovery also implies yet another African diaspora. +++ In 2003 H. floresiensis was discovered and then in 2008 the remains of their cousins were discovered.

Human and chimpanzee 'Y' chromosomes have been compared. The male specific region of the 'Y' chromosome (MSY) has been sequenced and compared with its human counterpart. The results show a surprising difference that suggests rapid evolution separating the lineages over the past 6 million years.

Panda genome sequenced. It consists of some 2.4 billion base pairs (compared to 3 billion in humans). However genomic diversity within the genome is high. This raises hopes that despite of the Panda's global population now being only some 2,500, that it is sufficiently genetically diverse for viable sustainability.

 

[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 2010

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.

 

Shadow of the Scorpion by Neal Asher, Tor (UK), pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-47877-9.
Now Duncan did not seem to rate this too highly (see title link to the review). However we are not (yet) sure whether this is Duncan's taste or a blip as some of Asher's other novels are liked by other of our reviewers. (For example: Orbus, Line of Polity, Cowl and The Gabble.) Maybe it would be best to just advise not to expect a character-driven story but do expect action and romp.

The Winds of Dune by Kevin J. Anderson & Brian Herbert, Pocket Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-83027-0.
Dune spin-off, not to be confused with the Frank Herbert originals.

Blood and Iron by Tony Ballantyne, Tor (UK), hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-73861-4.
This is the second in the trilogy that follows on from Twisted Metal (see next book below). This series is much more of a straightforward read than Ballantyne's 'Judy – Social Care' trilogy from the cutting edge of the genre that is of appeal to serious, die-hard, SF readers (see Recursion, Capacity and Divergence). Being more straightforward, this new trilogy will be accessible to a broader readership. It concerns a planet of warring robots (who believed that they evolved themselves) but this sequel promises to see the arrival of humans on the scene.

Twisted Metal by Tony Ballantyne, Tor (UK), pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-330-47886-1.
This is the mass-market paperback release of the first in the trilogy of which Blood and Iron immediately above is the second.

Transitions by Iain Banks, Abacus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-349-11927-4.
This is the mass-market paperback release of last year's hardback. Now though this comes out under Banks' mainstream (mundane) fiction nom de plume (without the 'M'), and not his SF one (Iain M. Banks) this book is SF but with the genre aspect sufficiently coated that mundane readers may well be able to cope with its fantastical dimension. Though many of Banks' readers like both his SF and mundane offerings, a good proportion stick to either one or the other. So maybe this is his publisher trying to get a bit more crossover? Either way, from his previous SFnal offerings we cannot do anything but recommend you check this out.

Ark by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09413-0.
This is the parallel sequel to Flood and tells the different story of those who escaped the Earth being drowned. You should be able to read this as a stand alone and then go back to Flood.

Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08919-8.
This is Baxter's latest offering which is coming out in trade paperback (and presumably hardback too if Orion's Gollancz is true to form). Set eight thousand years ago, one girls wish sets to change the very course of history. Baxter is, of course, best known for his hard SF (such as Space, Titan and Resplendent). But he has recently included fantasy science (that is science fantasy but with the emphasis decidedly on the fantasy) in his prolific mix (for example Emperor). At the moment we do not have further details but dare say Concat' will get a review copy and if so there will be no shortage of takers on the review team to check this one out for you.

Xeelee: An Omnibus by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09041-5.
Now we noted this last time as it is due out on the cusp of the spring/summer, hence the border of our seasonal newscasts, but we would not want you to miss this one if you have only cottoned on to Baxter in recent years. This is a hard SF space opera collection of his earlier Xeelee novels and stories that span deep time (you have to go back to our pre-internet print editions of Concatenation to see our reviews of these stories). So this is very much recommended if you like your SF hard and on a BIG canvas.

And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer, Peguin Paperbacks, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-141-04213-8.
The (ahem) sequel to Douglas Adams brilliant Hitch-Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy.

The Prisoner by Thomas M. Disch, Penguin….
This is the 2010 re-release of the 1969 novel by the hugely respected SF author Thomas M. Disch. The re-release is due to the new, re-maude Prisoner mini-series being screened. Click on the title link for our review.

For the Win by Cory Doctorow, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-007-35201-2.
Juvenile fiction but Cory's writing has broader appeal so some adult readers are bound to like this tale of teen rebellion against the global corporations.

Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science-Fiction edited by Jetse de Vries, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-906-73566-1.
Solaris usually produced very good collections of short stories. Yes, Solaris was sold at the end of last year. Yet this anthology was probably (we are not sure) commissioned prior to the takeover and so if up to Solaris' usual standard then this is highly recommended. Jonathan has just reviewed it here and the anthology was launched at the Odyssey Euroconference and British national convention.

Oceanic by Greg Egan, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08654-8.
The mass-market paperback release of last year's trade paperback. See the title link for Jonathan's review. A real must for fans of hard SF: Egan puts sense-of-wonder science into science fiction.

Zendegi by Greg Egan, Gollancz, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08617-3.
This is Egan's latest and is going to be a must-check-out for fans of hard SF who really like their genre ultra hard. A computerised dimension with millions of inhabitants is about to become a war zone…

Consorts of Heaven by Jaine Fenn, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08324-0.
See the title link for a stand-alone review.

Zima Blue by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08455-1.
Highly recommended collection of Reynolds' short stories. Click on the afore title link for the stand-alone review. This is the mass-market paperback release of last year's trade paperback.

Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08358-5.
This is the mass-market paperback release of last year's hardback which we listed but don't seem to have had a copy to review. However the word some of us have heard is that it is good. Apparently it is about an imagined (science fictional) Soviet threat that turns out to be a real one!

Veteran by Gavin Smith, Gollancz, trdpbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09410-9.
300 years into the future an alien enemy threatens in this dystopian tale. Can our anti-hero save the day? This is a debut novel for Gavin Smith.

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 2010

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08248-9.
This is the mass-market paperback release of last year's hardback. Click on the title link for Sue's review.

Trancewarriors: Connor's Folly by Robert C. Auty, Book grid, hrdbk, £16.99. ISNBN 978—1-846-24396-7.
Sword and sorcery.

The Steel Queen by Karen Azinger, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £14.99. (78-0-007-34534-2.

Elves: Once walked With Gods by James Barclay, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08502-2.
This series is coming along nicely.

The White Cat by Holly Black, Gollancz, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09670-7.

The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-007-27616-5.
This is the 2nd in the trilogy.

Farlander by Colin Buchanan, Tor (UK), hrdbk £17.99. ISBN 978-0-250-74481-3.

Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09361-4.
Sensual fantasy and sequel to Naamah's Gift.

Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Cary, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09358-4.
Importantly this won a Locus Award for 'Best First Fantasy' novel and the Locus Award is probably the best barometer of N. American SF&F. This is the mass-market paperback release of last year's hardback.Fire by Kirsten Cashore, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0575-08513-8.

Swords of Albion Mark Chadbourn, Bantam Press, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06247-6.
The first in the 'Swords of Albion' trilogy for this seasoned writer.

The Demon King by Cincla Williams Chima, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-007-34276-1.
This is Chima's first book and this is the first in a fantasy series. Purportedly similar vein to Trudi Canavan.

The King of the Crags by Stephen Deas, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08378-3.
An empire crumbles and dragons rise. Could the end of the World be coming?

Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson, Bantam Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0553-81317-3. This is part of the Malazan 'Book of the Fallen' series and is the penultimate in the 'Fallen' sequence.

Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton, Headline, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-755-35256-2.
More vampire hunting with Anita Blake.

Avilon by Robert Holdstock, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0575-08302-8
This is destined to be somewhat of a fantasy classic, it being a continuation of the longstanding classic Mythago Wood: ancient English woodland with a fantastical dimension. Sadly we lost Bob last season. Hopefully Gollancz will release all of the Mythago books but this one is apparently more closely linked to the original as we understand that it is a direct continuation. Recommended by virtue of considerable reputation.

Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane, Harper Voyager, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-007-338737-6.
The first in a new urban fantasy series.

Nagash the Unbroken by Mike Lee, Black Library, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-01-844-16790-6.
This is the second novel about the dark necromancer.

Bloodborn by Nathan Long, Black Library, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-844-16824-8.
Dark vampire fantasy.

Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey, Bantam, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-593-05587-8.
Todd has now had a couple of books all by himself under his belt, having done a few with mum Anne. This is a sequel to his Dragonheat and it is a Pern novel.

Kraken by China Mieville, Tor (UK), hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-333-98950-0.
Dark, urban fantasy. Mieville has a solid reputation for well-written, character and concept-driven fantasy. Ian liked his offering last year, The City and The City.

Dog Blood by David Moody, Gollancz, hrdbk, £18.99. 978-0-575-08469-8.
This is the sequel to Hater for which Guillermo del Toro has the film rights…. Humanity has split into two groups: the Haters and the Unchanged. Will anything break their rivalry?

City of Ruin by Mark Charan Newton, Tor (UK), hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-71259-1.
This is the 2nd in the 'Legends of the Red Sun' sequence.

Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton, Tor (UK), pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-46166-5.
This is the mass-market paperback release of book one of the 'Legends of the Red Sun'.

Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehori, Simon & Schuster, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-01-847-37563-6.
This is the first in the 'Chronicles of Siala' trilogy.

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett, Corgi, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-552-15337-9.
The mass market release of Terry's latest and of course it will sell like hot cakes.

The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan, Gollancz, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0575-09089-7.
This is the sequel to the post-zombie apocalyptic Forest of Hands and Teeth which Jonathan liked and to which Ian gave a more cautious but nonetheless clear welcome. In short, recommended.

The Road to Bedlam by Mike Sherdon, Angry Robot, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-33975-4.
This is the sequel to Sixty-one Nails.

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudron by J. R. R. Tolkein, Harper Collins, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-31724-0.
It was only last year that we had news of this newly discovered Tolkien book. It was written back in 1930 but not published until 2009 and this is the mass-market paperback release. (We seemed to have missed the hardback.).

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 2010

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

Dr Who: The Writers' Tale – The Final Chapter b Russell T. Davies and Benjamin Cook, BBC Books, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-846-07961-3.

Wired for God? The Biology of Spiritual Existence by Charles Foster, Hodder & Stoughton, trdpbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-0-340-96442-2.

Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk by Massimo Pigliucci, University of Chicago Press, hrdbk, £45. ISBN 978-0-226-66785-0.

Mirage Men by Mark Pilkington, Constable, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-845-29857-9.
The weird truth behind UFOs from uncritical blind acceptance to clearcut scepticism in N. America. (Good job the book doesn't cover Britain and the goings on beneath the Harlington-Straker film studios..)

Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization by Spencer Wells, Allen Lane, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-713-99755-2.
Ceasing to be hunter-gatherers and to congregate in large numbers has led to AIDS, swine flu, global terrorism, obesity and climate change. Alas the author does not make a case for the Fermi Paradox but he could have…

Natural Computing: DNA Quantum Bitts and the Future of Smart Machines by Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere, W. W. Norton, trdpbk, £11.99. ISBN 978-0-993-33683-2.

West of the Mountains, East of the Sea: The Map of Tolkien's Beleriand by Brian Sibley and illustrated by John Howe, HarperCollins, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-007-31270-2.
This is a charming little hardback that will simply be a must-have for The Silmarillion and Children of the Hurin fans. There is a loose full colour map of the said area of Middle Earth inside the back cover, as well as a double page black and white version within the book. The map is based on a sketch by Christopher Tolkien and about half of this small book consists of quotes from Tolkien's novels that elucidate what goes where on the map.

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 2010

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Backlash by Aaron Allston, Century, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-846-05687-1.

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Outcast by Aaron Allston, Century, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-10-999-54270-4.

Star Trek: Unspoken Truth by Margaret-Wander Bonanno, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-439-10219-0.
Lt Saavik has to decide where his loyalties lie: Vulcan Romulus or Starfleet.

Star Trek: New Frontier – Treason by Peter David, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-439-16627-9.

Supernatural by Rebecca Dessertine & David Reed, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-848-56601-9.

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Allies by Christie Golden, Century, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-01-846-05688-8.

Being Human: Bad Blood by James Goss, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-846-07900-9.

The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis by Matt Groening, Abrams Comic Arts, hrdbk, £15.99. ISBN 978-0-810-98837-8.
This graphic novel is a must for fans of the hit cartoon series.

Being Human: The Road by Simon Guerrier, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-846-07898-9.

Star Wars: Clone Wars – Gambit by Karen Miller, Century, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-846-605567-6.

The TARDIS Handbook by Steve Tribe, BBC Books, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-846=07986-3.

 

[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 2010

SELECTED RECENT DVD RELEASES

Bakjwi [Thirst] £19.99 from Palisades Tartan.
This Korean horror sees Sang-hyun, a priest working for a hospital, volunteers for a secret vaccine project to eradicate a deadly virus. However, the virus eventually takes over the priest who nearly dies but makes a miraculous recovery by an accidental transfusion of vampire blood… Now the last thing you want is vampire blood in your system… Last time we cited it as one of the best genre films of 2009. Of lesser note, it won a jury award and was nominated for a Golden Palm at Cannes. It came third in the Fant-Asian Film Fest for 'Best Asian Film' and was nominated for 'Best Film' at Stiges.

Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant £15.99 from Universal.
Based on the first three novels of the twelve-part fantasy series, this teenage vampire film has a different take on the blood suckers: they can go in daylight but sunburn easily, they tend not to kill when they feed and their bite does not transform others, they are not immortal but do age slowly.

Creation £17.99 from Icon.
A dramatization that marks 2009 being the 200th anniversary of his birth and 150th of his book On the Origin of Species and particularly his own personal religion-science conflict.

Dorian Gray £17.99 from Momentum.
Ben Barnes and Colin Firth lead an amped-up version of Wilde's Faustian tale.

Dr Who: The Space Museum/The Chase £29.99 from the BBC.
Fortunately these old Dr Who classics keep turning up (for example see last season's news). This time it is two related William Hartnell adventures first broadcast back in 1965. The second is a multi-location classic involving the Daleks (now with the solar panels making them independent of metal floors and demonstrating potential flight) and the Mechonoids as well as being the last time William Russell and Jacqueline Hill appear as the Doctor's companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright and sees the introduction of Peter Purves as the new companion Steven Taylor. Also includes some marvelous asides such as the Beatles songs becoming future musical classics. (Vicki's reference to a statue of The Beatles in Liverpool predicted the real-life memorial that now exists today.!)

FAQ: About Time Travel £15.99 from Lionsgate.
This is a charming British (BBC and HBO with Doglamp) hard SF, humorous, time travel story set in a pub – think Shaun of the Dead -- that came out in 2008. There are few sets with the action principally taking place (repeatedly) in the pub, its toilets and beer garden, but in the present, near present and far future. Three thirty-somethings (two of whom are SF nerds ('imagineers')) go for a drink, when one gets the round in he meets a delightful lady who says she always wanted to meet someone famous and new her job as a time operative has given her chance to meet our man. He thinks it is a wind up but when his friend comes back from the toilet saying that he had come back from there just five minutes before to find everyone dead, they realise that something very odd is happening… Three guys. One pub. Too much time on their hands.   How come our heroes are famous? What is the future like? What is a time editor? And whose round is it next..? This is simply brilliant (and brilliantly simple).

Jennifer's Body £19.99 (£28.99 Blu Ray) from Fox.
Horror. Jennifer is abducted but turns up later with an appetite for blood. Her friend, Needy, has to find out what is going on as her classmates one-by-one turn up dead… (And it is not vampirism.)

Last Action Hero £19.99 from Sony.
This is a hugely fun genre romp starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Very much tongue in cheek, it sends up the Hollywood action hero genre a treat. The plot: A kid (the one yuk factor of the film without which it could have been delightfully darker freed of its certificate 15) gets a magical ticket that enables him to enter the world of films, which he does and gets to meet the action, maverick cop (Arnie). All well and good, but the evil mastermind in the film world gets to find out that there is a real world in which he and his no-good ambitions might thrive… Also stars Jean-Claude Van Damme, James Belushi, Leeza Gibbons and Tina Turner.

Night of the Comet £15.99 from Optimum.
This is the DVD release of the 1980s SF (mild (certification 16)) horror that sees two high school girls wake up to find that everybody in Los Angeles has been turned to dust by a Comet except them, a guy who looks like Erik Estrada, some zombies and the occupants of a secret underground government installation. Apparently, if you were surrounded by steel (Faraday cage?) when the Earth passed through the comet's tail you were safe. It is very enjoyable in the sense of enjoying earlier Hammer horror films and there is a touch of humour. A decided cut above typical low budget SF horror adventures.

Paranormal Activity £19.9 from Icon.
Shot as if with a hand-held camcorder, this poltergeist film has little horror in shot and no gore, but is very atmospheric. Recommended.

Twilight: New Moon £19.99, or 2-disc set £22.99, from E1.
The second in the vampire series that has been such a hit for young teenage girls. The two-disc set has a preview of the third film and loads of other extras.

Twin Peaks: Season 2 £49.99 from Universal.
The 1991 David Lynch cult TV series now on DVD. More damn fine cherry pie.

Suspiria £19.99 from Nouveaux Pictures.
Now if you have never heard of this 1977 offering from Dario Argento, and even if you have and had seen it on VHS or an earlier DVD, then do please do yourself a favour and check this out. Yes, it is a horror, but not your standard sort. This is a visual treat and all the more so as it has been re-mastered for this release, so you can see it more or less as it was meant to be (big screen excepted). Colourful, this was deliberately shot in, the even-by-then outmoded, Technicolor. The plot is more straightforward. A young American dancer goes to Europe to a ballet school. As she arrives, we follow another woman leaving hurriedly. This other young woman returns to her apartment where she is murdered by a dreadful creature. Meanwhile, the young American is trying to settle in at the ballet school, but hears strange noises and there are little odd things that she notices. She eventually discovers that the school is front for… Certificate 18.

Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl £15.99 from 4 Digital Asia.
This comedy horror is decidedly weird, decidedly non-PC, Japanese film that will either delight or make you squirm (or even both). Two girls fight over a boy and one is killed but dad thinks himself a bit of a Frankenstein and so sets about re-building her with the strongest parts of school staff and students. Plenty of comedy gore. The sambo-styled characters, who pledge allegiance to President Obama and refuse to drink coffee unless its completely black may be too non-PC racist for some or a hoot to others, give you an idea of what is on offer.

Zombieland £19.99 from Sony.
This is effectively America's answer to Shaun of the Dead, which means it is a funny take on zombies. Whether or not it is as good as the British offering you can decide for yourself. Certificate 15.

See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in 2010, 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 2010

R.I.P.

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

Hisashi Asakura (real name Zenji Otani), the Japanese translator of SF has died aged 79.

Kage Baker, the US author, has died aged 57 of cancer. She is known for her 'Company' sequence of books.

David Becker, US radiologist and clinician who pioneered use of a radioactive isotope of iodine to treat hyperthyroidism, has died aged 86.. This led to work on treating radiation sickness and in devising emergency plans following Chernobyl. He retired in 2009.

Sir James Black, the biomedical researcher, has died aged 85. A Nobel Prize winner, he is credited with discovering beta-blockers.

Knox Burger, the US fiction editor, has died aged 87. Authors whose stories he brought to print included Ray Bradbury, Jack Finney, Kurt Vonnegut, John Wyndham.

Geoffrey Burbidge, the British astrophysicist, has died aged 84. He most famously co-authored the mammoth 104-page B²FH paper named after the authors (Burbidges wife Margaret, British astronomer (and SF writer) Fred Hoyle, and US physicist William Fowler) on the stellar nuclear synthesis of elements from hydrogen. This revealed that we are all made of star dust.

Sir John Dankworth, the British jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer, has died aged 82. Though not well known by SF fans or scientists, he was the composer for the quasi-SFnal Avengers TV series (1961-'64) theme as well as the popular science series of up-coming technology Tomorrow's World.

Roger Gaillard, a former curator of Maison d’Ailleurs, has died of a heart attack aged 73. The Maison d’Ailleurs is, of course, Europe's principal SF museum. Roger Gaillard was its curator between 1989 and 1998. His background was as a journalist and he also wrote a few books including Audace: Annuaire des auteurs cherchant un éditeur [Audacity: A thousand authors in search of an editor]. During his time he edited and co-edited a number of SF non-fiction books including Transformations of Utopia with George Slusser and Paul Alkon that was a collection of essays from a conference to celebrate Switzerland's 700th birthday on utopian literature.

Cy Grant, the British but Guyana-born actor, has died aged 90. he was one of the fearly few black faces on British TV. His genre work included being the voice of Lt Green in Captain Scarlet. He also appeared in Blake's 7 and Doppelganger.

Peter Graves, best known as Jim Phelps on the television programme Mission: Impossible, has died aged 83. He also appeared in several SF films including It Conquered the World

Jim (James) Harmon, the US short-story SF writer, has died aged 76. Though having over 40 short stories to his credit, he only wrote one novel, The Contested Earth (1959). His non-fiction book The Great Radio Heroes (1967) includes many SFnal characters.

John Hicklenton (aka John Deadstock), the British, 2000AD, comics artist, has died at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland aged 42. He worked on a couple of Tharg's Future Shocks as well as, with Pat Mills, Nemesis not to mention several Judge Dredds among other work. He had bee diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and his condition had deteriorated.

Lionel Jeffries, the British actor, has died aged 83. His genre contributions included playing: Blake in The Quatermass Xperiment (1955), Dillworthy in Rocket to the Moon (1967), and Professor Joseph Cavor in the adaptation of H. G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon (1964), Jekyll's father in Jekyll & Hyde (1990), and Fritz in The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958). He also wrote and directed Wombling Free (1977) and The Amazing Mr Blunden (1972).

Marshall Nirenberg, the US Nobel prize-winning biochemist, has died aged 82. Following Watson and Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA, Nirenberg elucidated the three-base code for amino acids that is used by all terrestrial life from viruses to mammals like humans.

Leena Peltonen-Palotie, the Finnish geneticist, has died aged 57. Her work helped with the understanding of the genetic basis for some 20 diseases. She worked out of Britain's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute but also led two Helsinki-based research groups. In addition to her research, she also contributed to the bioethical debates as they relate to genetics.

Walter Plowright, British biologist who trained as a veterinarian, has died aged 86. He developed the vaccine against the cattle disease rinderpest that was instrumental in the programme that wiped the virus out. Rinderpest is one of just two viruses wiped out by humanity. (Actually its official eradication is expected to be announced later this year.) Rinderpest is analogous to measles in humans, but unlike measles has a higher fatality among cattle (up to 90%). Effectively wiping out the disease has benefited the World to the tune of over £300 billion pounds in milk and meat production that would otherwise have been lost; which is not bad for a programme that cost just £3 million. As such he has helped boost the economies of a number of African nations as well as the Indian agricultural sector.

Midge Reitan, US Chicago fan and co-chair Windycon-7, has died.

Joe Sarno, a US founder of ComicCon and former comic shop owner, has died. He was active in fandom for decades, starting in the 1950s. A special tribute is scheduled for the Chicago Comic Expo in April just after we post this season's news page.

Takumi Shibano, the Japanese SF author, translator and fanzine editor, has died of pneumonia aged 83. This is a sad day for Japan's SF community, which you will appreciate when you realise he was known by many in that country as the 'father of Japanese SF'. In 1957 he published Japan's first, and long-running, fanzine Uchujin [Cosmic Dust] that saw its 202nd issue in the spring of 2009. He has written many short SF stories and three novels (as 'Rei Kozumi' which in turn is a word play on 'cosmic ray') of juvenile SF, and since 1977 he has been a full-time translator and here translated many hard SF and space opera novels from English to Japanese. With regards to film he has contributed to anime and was a consultant researcher with Tatsunoko Productions on a number of SF anime classics such as Tekkaman, Gatchaman F and Casshan. The Takumi Shibano Award has been given in Japan since 1982 to those who have performed generous acts in Japanese fandom. He wrote the entry on Japan in the Clute – Nicholls' SF encyclopaedia. Of interest to science fact and fiction Concateneers he was a mathematician.

William Stanton MBE, British geologist and hydrologist who also championed concerns of global over-population, died aged 79. A neo-Malthusianist, he argued that resources, including fossil fuels, are in terminal decline and that the British population, for example, must shrink from about 60 million to only 2 million by 2150. He did not hesitate (which most scientists do) to suggest how to achieve this reduction: allowing families only one child and banning immigration.

William Tenn (real name Philip Klass), the US author, has died aged 89. He has two SF novels to his name but is best known for his many short stories which have been brought together in several collections. He also taught writing and SF at Pennsylvania State College Very popular in American fandom, he will be greatly missed.

Fred Wedlock, the British comedy folk singer, has died aged 67. His SF and fantasy relevance is three-fold. First, some of his songs have fantasy legend and SFnal references, such as 'Superman' and 'Robin Hood'. Second, he would have been a big hit with filkers (probably is with some). Third, his songs and act (he was a comedy turn) was hugely enjoyed by members of the SF&DA especially members of Hatfield PSIFA and Warwick University SF of the late 1970s. Much sadness from some core members of the Concatenation team. Time tonight for a pint of cider… Ahh, the distillation of the forbidden fruit of paradise…

Eric C. Williams, the former bookseller and British SF author who was also active in fandom, has died aged 91.

 

[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 2010

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

Science Fiction films should become more mundane says scientist. In a blaze of publicity that will not harm his science-in-SF books US physicist Sidney Perkowitz has suggested a new rule that every film should be allowed just one major suspension of belief for the sake of the story… In other words, films should not repeatedly violate scientific laws, and they definitely should avoid internal inconsistencies – breaking scientific rules established in earlier scenes. " If it's scene after scene, it becomes greater than I can stand," says Perkowitz. "I understand the dramatic impulse behind it. The natural tendency is to hype things up."   Of course the scientists here at Concatenation only have limited sympathy for this view. Some films have such ludicrous science that scientifically literate SF fans (of which there are many) cannot accept them even on science fiction terms. Such films include those that Perkowitz cites, namely: Deep Blue Sea with its instantly regenerating cells complete with sparks; 6th Day with its cloning of a recently deceased person (Concatenation's biologists disagree with Perkowitz here – do keep up with the literature Sidney), and the separate process of clone memory capture was the SFnal contribution; and the film The Core with the Earth's core needing hydrogen bombs to get it going again (yes that one was all daft).   However we at Concat' feel that many films have more than one SFnal inclusion and that is because they are not SF's sub-genre of mundane SF but full-blown SF. 'Science Fiction' is 'Fiction' Perkowitz, get used to it. Used effectively it can instil great sense of wonder, which is itself something that good SF has in common with science.

David Brin tells the science journal Nature why he switched from planetary physics to writing SF. Though he has a PhD David Brin can make a better living as a novelist than a researcher. He revealed that both receiving well thought out criticism and a thick skin are essential, though flattery is poison and mean folk and clueless jerks are valueless. He also said a science background in SF writing is only essential in certain sub-genres. Having said that if science is used then it is important to get it right. 'Scientists are happy to consult with an author for the grand fee of pizza and beer. So there is no excuse for getting it terribly wrong.' On being asked about the money in SF writing he said that, for every Stephen King there are a dozen Brins who make a good living, and for every David Brin there are a dozen authors who have managed to make it their day job, and for each of them a dozen whose SF writing supplements their day job income.

British sceptics demonstrate against homeopathy with overdose demonstrations in 13 cities. The synchronised mass overdose – called 10:23 – took place outside branches of the pharmaceutical high street shop chain Boots. Homeopathic medicines supposedly work by taking an ultra dilute solution (the more dilute the stronger the homeopathic medicine) or pill of whatever it is causing the problem. So for hay fever suffers it could be an ultra dilute solution of ground pollen. The idea is that the water of the solution takes on the imprint of the dilute solute. The problem with this is that this has never been proven in the laboratory in a randomised, double blind test with the results published in a high-impact peer reviewed science journal. Also that sometimes the dilutions are so great that there is not a single molecule of what was originally being diluted in the pill or capsule of solution taken as medicine. A spokesman for the event, which will begin at 10.23am, said the group had been moved to act by the evidence given to the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee last November. A spokesman said there was "general disbelief at the circus that was unfolding before our eyes." And: "To see a homeopathic doctor explaining to MPs how many times a remedy had to be tapped before it would imprint the water was just surreal. And for the spokesman of Boots to explain that they were happy to sell customers pills for which they have no evidence of effectiveness was an insult to many people."   The protest was called 10:23 as a nod to Avogadro's number. (The science bit.Avogadro's number is the number of molecules in a mole of substance. A water molecule has an atomic weight of 18 and so a mole of water is 18 grams. Avogadro's number of molecules order of magnitude is 10 to the power 23)

The British Homeopathic Association (BHA) been accused of misleading the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology. The all-party committee is conducting an enquiry looking at alternative medicines and the BHA apparently claimed that several scientific reviews found that homeopathic medicines worked compared to sugar placebos. Now the scientists whose reviews were cited in the BHA evidence to the Select Committee said that caveats were missing while other researchers said that their review came to no such conclusion. The Parliamentary Committee takes a dim view if being given erroneous evidence.

Homeopathy a waste of state (tax-payer) money the House of Commons all-party Select Committee reports. The Committee found little (no) evidence of clinical benefit for homeopathic medicines and called for the Government to cease funding ineffective medicines through the National Health Service. +++ But how scientifically valid are claims for conventional pharmaceuticals? See Goldacre immediately below.

Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in The Guardian has last season coverage that included:-
  - Alas many science papers that involved animals in the course of the research the paper covers do not give the details they should to be properly rigorous science. Only 12% of the animal studies used randomisation. Only 14% used blinding. And the reporting was often poor. Only 8% gave the raw data, allowing you to go back and do your own analysis. About half the studies left the numbers of animals in each group out of their tables.
  - So homeopathy is non-science (see previous two items), but how scientifically valid are conventional pharmaceuticals? A recent study of pharmaceutical adverts in the World's leading clinician journals (Lancet, BMJ etc) builds on previous work demonstrating that only half the adverts cited a clinical trial supporting the adverts claims and of those only about a half was the supportive trial itself conducted with good scientific rigour. A previous review in the open access journal PLoS One found 24 similar studies, and overall only 67% of the claims in adverts were supported by a systematic review, a meta-analysis or a randomised control trial.
  - That, despite the mixed messages in the academic literature, smoking does not reduce the risk of Alzheimer's but increases the chance by 1.72 to 1.
  - The pest-control firm Rentokill's claim that London commuters share trains with 1,000 cockroaches, 200 bedbugs and 200 fleas – a story that was picked up by the Evening Standard and other newspapers – is not actually based on a scientific field study but a theoretical model that does not include day-night time temperature extremes or even the cleaning of buses and trains.
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.

Ben Goldacre (above) appeared at the London SF Euroconference Odyssey2010 at Easter 2010 – see earlier news. He also was short-listed for last year's Royal Society Popular Science Writing Prize.

 

 

[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 2010

End Bits

 

More science and SF news will be reviewed in our Autumn 2010 upload in September
plus there will also be 'forthcoming' Autumnal book releases.

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Alain le Bussy, Angel Carralero, Pierre Gevart, Steve Green, Oleg Kolesnikov, Rita Medany, Roberto Quaglia, as well as several at both the World Horror Convention and the British Eastercon and Euroconference who gave informal comment at the time, and not least the very many representatives of groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk who sent in news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page. If you feel that your news, or SF news that interests you, should be here then you need to let us know (as we cannot report what we are not told).

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Autumn 2010 period – needs to be in before mid-August 2010. News is especially sought concerns SF author news as well as that relating to national SF conventions: size, number of those attending, prizes and any special happenings.
To contact us see here and try to put something clearly science fictional in the subject line in case your message ends up being spam-filtered and needs rescuing.

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