Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Summer 2014

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

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

Summer 2014

STAFF MATTERS & EDITORIAL COMMENT

Sad news from SF2 Concat's other (near London) mission control. Canine Floyd has died aged 15. A grand old age for a dog his size who rarely become teenagers. We will miss him and for a while it will be a little strange uploading our seasonal editions without having him there demanding attention...

This edition we have a full seasonal news page that both looks back at the SF news highlights of the summer as well as looks forward with forthcoming book releases due out over the summer to September (2014).  In addition we have the first of a remarkable series of articles on 20th SF film by our Tony. These articles link to trailers of the films concerned (and sometimes, in the case of shorter offerings, the whole film itself). The first up deals with early 20th century film and if it has been a while you have seen any of these -- or indeed if you have never seen some of these -- you may well enjoy clicking through to the trailers.  This article neatly complements our annual look at the genre box office top ten of the 12 months to Easter in addition to some other worthies you might want to hire out, or get, on DVD.  Another mini-article is actually a linking page to an article that originally appeared in the 40th anniversary edition of the Romanian fanzine Paradox. It is on the 1990s-to-early-2000s Anglo-Romanian Cultural Exchange and now this article has been translated into English just for you. Additionally this linking page links to other archive material related to this international SF fan and pro venture.  Finally, we have our annual dollop of science, and or slightly genre-ish, whimsy and oddities from Gaia.  Something for everyone.(See the links in the paragraph below the next one.)

Yet again, further to last time's (and indeed the time before that) comment on fandom's need to take care of ID security seriously, there has been yet more hacking of people's personal data from big companies this season including Yahoo (again), the Korea Credit Bureau, a fifth of Germans lost data in a virus hack, British Telecom being investigated for leaking customers details, Linked-In app revealing account holders' e-mail addresses and not to mention the HeartBleed bug leaks people's financial transaction passwords. Which does make one wonder whether our geek penchant for immersing one's self in the global cyber-hive is all that it is cracked up to be…?

 

Elsewhere this issue…
Aside from this seasonal news page, elsewhere this issue (vol 24 (3) Summer 2014) we have stand-alone convention reports on:-
          Anglo-Romanian Science & Science Fiction Cultural Exchange Re-visited
          SF Film recommendations from the 20th Century -- Part 1 - Tony Chester
          2013/14 (year to Easter) SF Film Top Ten Chart and Other Worthies
          Gaia - Annual whimsical SF and/or science snippets and exotica
And additionally we have:-
          … thirty five (yes, 35!) new stand-alone fiction book reviews
          … and a sprinkling of non-fiction book reviews
See our What's New page for a full listing of articles and reviews recently posted.  Fantantiscula.

 

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...).  +++ STOP PRESS: Those going to the 2014 Worldcon will be able to get discounted copies from the Porcupine stall in the dealers' area and without the postal charge, that's a great saving. The book is (they say) an invaluable checklist for SF book collectors wanting to include pre-2004 fan-voted and proven-by time, long-in-print SF works in their collection. European SF Society commended: "Special mention" in the 2006 Eurocon Awards 'for coverage of European science fiction information'.

 

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

Summer 2014

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

This first subsection quickly links you to the major items of news.  For more detailed coverage go direct to the principal subsections that interest you (see the blue subsection index above as well as between each subsection).

SF/F news last season includes: A James Herbert Award created, innovations at Apex Magazine, SF classic Brave New Worlds deemed inappropriate by US school, and the Green Hornet and Batman to re-unite.

SF/F Awards presented over the spring (2014) included: Britain's BSFA, Russia's Bastkon and Roskon Awards as well as the Mir Fantastika top works of 2013 listed. And then there were Britain's Clarke and the Worldcon (World SF Society) Hugo Award nominations announced.

Book news of the season – Includes : Spring's top genre sellers; E-readers may be made redundant by Adobe; growth in e-book sales slows; Quercus sold; and the number of British independent bookshops drops below a thousand. Plus a fair bit of Amazon-related news.

Film news of the season – Includes: that of: the Spring box office leaders, a couple of Summer films to look out for, Matrix prequel trilogy proposed and 2001: A Space odyssey is being digitally re-mastered.

Television news of the season – Includes: both Helix and Dusk Till Dawn get 2nd seasons; Game of Thrones has two new seasons green lit; new spacey TV series The 100 and Heroes is returning.

News of SF and science personalities includes that of: Joe Abercrombie, Brian Aldiss, Neil Gaiman, David Gemmell, Robert Jordan, George Orwell, George R. R. Martin, Terry Pratchett, Anne Rice, J. K. Rowling and John Scalzi.

Last season's science news includes: new UN climate reports released; Magnetic monopole analogue created; the Earth's age gets fresh estimate; cosmic inflation signal detected; new minor outer planets discovered; moon Enceladus has sub-surface sea; Ceres bound water confirmed; the stem cell breakthrough that wasn't; Clovis, chicken, dog, lion and cattle genomes sequenced illuminating their evolution/history; and there have been outbreaks of ebola and h7n9 virus.

News of last season's SF events includes that of: Poland's Pyrkon -- what price success?

Major forthcoming SF events include: the 2014 London Worldcon and forthcoming Worldcon bids.

Our short-video clip links section this season includes, among others, links to some forthcoming film trailers. See the section here.

Notable SF books due out over the Summer 2014 include: Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch, Jupiter War by Neal Asher, Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey, and Lock-In by John Scalzi.

Notable reprints due outover the Summer 2014 include: Stand on Zansibar by John Brunner, The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, Tales from the End of Time by Michael Moorcock, Indoctrinaire by Chris Priest, Her Smoke Rose up Forever by James Tiptree jnr., Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock, and Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic as a neat, but cheap, hardback coming out.

The Spring saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included: Scientists Fred Brammer and Alejandro Zaffaroni… and SF personalities Neal Barrett jnr., Phillippe Ebly, Juan José Plans and Lucius Shepard.

 

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

 

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

Summer 2014

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SF NEWS

The 2014 Abel Prize for maths has gone to Yakov Sinai. The Russian scientist picks up the prize from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters along with 6 million Norwegian kroner (£625,000, US$1m). The World's most prestigious mathematics prize was given to Sinai for his work on complex dynamic and chaotic systems. (Last year's Abel winner details here.)

The 2014 Millennium Technology Prize goes to Stuart Parkin. The British physicist's work on spin electronics has enabled a 1,000-fold increase in hard-disk drive storage so ennabling cloud computing and video streaming among other high-memory uses. The prize is worth 1 million Euros (£85,000) and is awarded every other year by the Technology Academy of Finland.

Locus have announced their 2013 reading list. Locus is effectively the N. American trade magazine for the genre's book dimension. The Locus full reading list is here. It is much, much longer than our own best SF/F books of 2013 posted last season (January) and with far more categories. Needless to say that all but three of our titles are in the Locus 2013 list. The ones they missed (and arguably deserving your attention) are:  Parasite by Mira Grant (but though Locus missed this recommendation of ours, it was picked up by the Hugo nominations),  The Demi-Monde Fall by Rod Rees,  and The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland.  Of course as the Locus list, being far longer than ours, has titles not on our list for the year. Many of these are titles published in N. America and not in the British Isles. However of note you may want to particularly check out Burning Paradise by Robert Charles Wilson who has a solid record of excellence. In addition the Locus recommended reading list has novellas, a plethora of short stories (strangely no Nature 'Futures'), anthologies and non-fiction. It's virtually certain there will be something there just for you.

The Arthur C. Clarke (the book not the space) Award has had a record-breaking number of submissions for its 2014 prize. A total of 121 eligible books have been put forward by 42 separate publishing imprints, the most ever received by the award and smashing the previous high record set only last year of 82 books received from 32 publishing imprints. This builds on a recent longer-term rise. The Award's administrator, Tom Hunter, says: "To put this year’s rise in context, when I first became involved with the award eight years ago, we were receiving approximately 40 books a year."  The leading imprints submitting books include: Gollancz (with 14 titles); Orbit (11); Titan (11); and Jo Fletcher Books (7). +++ Last year's Clarke book award winner was Dark Eden.

Clarke Award nominations – The six shortlisted books for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel (as opposed to the space Clarke Award) are:-
          God's War by Kameron Hurley (Del Rey)
          Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
          The Disestablishment of Paradise by Phillip Mann (Gollancz)
          Nexus by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot)
          The Adjacent by Christopher Priest (Gollancz)
          The Machine by James Smythe (Blue Door)
The Clarke is a juried award. Note: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie is also nominated for a Hugo (see next item below).

The nominations for the 2014 Hugo Awards for 'SF achievement' covering the year 2013 were announced at the British national Eastercon convention as well as a couple of cons in N. America. The nominations for the principal five Hugo categories (those categories attracting 760 or more voters) were:-
Best Novel (1595 ballots):-
          Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
          Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross
          Parasite by Mira Grant
          Warbound: Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia
          The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Best Novella (847 ballots):-
          The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells
          'The Chaplain’s Legacy' by Brad Torgersen
          'Equoid' by Charles Stross
          'Six-Gun Snow White' by Catherynne M. Valente
          'Wakulla Springs' by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages
Short Story (865 ballots):-
          'If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love' by Rachel Swirsky
          'The Ink Readers of Doi Saket' by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
          'Selkie Stories Are for Losers' by Sofia Samatar
          'The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere' by John Chu
          (Note: this category has only four nominations due to a 5% of total nomination
          ballot requirement under Section 3.8.5 of the WSFS constitution.)
Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form (995 ballots):-
          Frozen
          Gravity
          The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
          Iron Man 3
          Pacific Rim
Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form (760 ballots):-
          (Dr Who) An Adventure in Space and Time
          Doctor Who: 'The Day of the Doctor'
          Doctor Who: 'The Name of the Doctor'
          'Dr Who': 'The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot'
          Game of Thrones: 'The Rains of Castamere'
          Orphan Black: 'Variations under Domestication'
Comment: Well, on the Hugo nomination front we only got one of our last-season-suggested Best SF/F Books of 2013 titles nominated for Best Novel Hugo and that was Mira Grant's Parasite. Of course, this is not surprising as our list is derived from those published in the British Isles whereas nearly half of this year's Worldcon registrants who nominate for the Hugo are based in N. America.   With regards to 'Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form' our last-season-suggested Best SF/F Films of 2013 saw just one of them nominated Gravity. Of course, that we only got one is again not surprising as our annual list is derived from more an international base of films as well as more from independent productions. Conversely, the Worldcon nominators tend to go for N. American, and especially Hollywood, mainstream blockbuster productions.  Anyway, as our spring list Best SF/F Films of 2013 also had links to those films' trailers why not check them out and see whether you agree with our selection or the Hugo (Science Fiction Achievement) Award nominations as a good representation of 'SF achievement' in 2013.  Meanwhile three of the Dramatic Presentation Long Form nominated films are in our British Isles SF/F top box office film top ten chart for 2013/4: which is again not surprising as mainstream blockbusters tend to be the ones that do well at the box office.  As for 'Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form' we gave up this year in highlighting the best of SF television of the year in part because there is so much of it and secondly because the Hugo has in recent years been dominated by Dr Who (not that there is anything wrong with the good Doctor, but there is more at least as worthy televisual SF out there than just that).
          But what are the views of others? In recent years there is always some comment, including a fair bit of gripe, but this year has seen a fair bit of on-line outrage at one of the 'Best Novelette' nominations (this category attracted less than 760 ballots and so we did not report it above). The author of the nominated work in question has had a fair bit of criticism for personal views aired on-line. It is not for us to go into the rights or wrongs of the affair here, but if you are at this year's Worldcon you may well come across some discussion there.
          So who will win? Well, this year's Hugo winners will be announced during the Hugo Awards Ceremony at the 2014 Worldcon in the London and as usual we will report them in our autumnal edition.  Finally, it is worth a brief mention of one of the other categories attracting less than 700 nominators and that is 'Best Editor - Long Form'. This is the award that goes to the best book editor: these work for publishers as opposed to short form editors who do short stories primarily work for magazines or book anthologies. Now, while this site should not have favourites it is perhaps worth noting that one of the nominees, Ginjer Buchanan has just retired after a long and distinguished career and so this is her last chance for a Hugo gong. (Perhaps it was a bit naughty of us to mention this but the point is still germane.)  +++ Last year's Hugo nominations are here.

Retro-Hugo Award nominations for 1939 were announced along with the Hugos. Now, the Hugo Awards began in 1953 but there obviously were excellent SF works before then. So what happens is that occasionally a Worldcon will run Hugo Awards for a year prior to 1953. These are Retro-Hugos. This year the London Worldcon committee are running Retro-Hugos for 1939. Obviously few have an in-depth knowledge of SF, or if they have, do not have the time/inclination to go through their collections to see what was published when, and so few vote for the Retro-Hugos compared to the (current) Hugos. This year only 208 nominated titles for the 'Best SF Novel' of 1939 and all the other categories saw even less nominating, and so we would not normally report on them. (This page is a season news summary only.) However a few of the nominations will be familiar to many...
          The Best Novel category sees The Legion of Time by Jack Williamson and, if you like your fiction literary with a hint of Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis.
          The Best Novella category sees 'Sleepers of Mars' by John Beynon [pseudonym for John Wyndham], 'The Time Trap' by Henry Kuttner, and 'Who Goes There?' by Don A Stuart [John W. Campbell] which many will know from the three film spin-offs including The Thing.
          Other categories include works by past giants of SF writing including: Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Sprague de Camp, Robert E. Howard, C. L. Moore, Lester Del Rey and Clifford D. Simak.  Indeed for older readers who when youngster just caught the in-print back-list of this era it may even feel a shame to sully the memory of these fondly remembered writers by having to choose between them. At which point it is perhaps worth suggesting for those of you who got Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide to have another gander as many of the writers nominated for a Retro are therein. (And for those of you who do not have Essential then Pocupine Books will have copies at the London Worldcon.)

The British SF Association (BSFA) Awards have been presented. The winners were:-
          Best Novel: ties between Gareth L. Powell for Ack Ack Macaque and Ann Leckie for Ancillary Justice
          Best Short Fiction: 'Spin' by Nina Allan
          Best Non-Fiction: Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer
          Best Art: cover of Tony Ballantyne's Dream London by Joey Hi-Fi
Well done one and all.

The 2014 Roskon Awards, voted by participants of Russia's Roskon convention, were presented at this year's Roskon near Moscow:-
          Best Novel Gold: Cyclops by Henry Lion Oldie
          Best Novel Silver: Nuclear Dawn by Fedor Berezin
          Best Novel Bronze: Master Mirrors by Julia Zonis and Catherine Chernjavskaja
          SF of the Year: Commercial success of the year: Julius Orlovsky
The above is just a summary; this year there were Roskon categories for short stories, juvenile fiction and non-fiction. Roskons are around a couple of hundred strong with attendance dominated by many SF professionals and semi-pros (writers, editors, journalists etc). Voting is in two rounds and by the Roskon attendees.  Regulars will have spotted that over the years Henry Lion Oldie has repeatedly won many different genre awards across former Soviet nations.+++ Click here for last year's Roskon Awards 2013.

Russia's Mir Fantastika [Fantasy World] 'Best of the year' works appearing first in Russian in 2013 were listed in the No. 126 February (2014) edition. The principal category results were:-
          Book – Foreign Fantasy: Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
          Book – Best Domestic: Fortress of my Soul by Henry Lion Oldie and Andrew Valentine
          Book – Foreign Mystery and Horror: The Hound of the D'Urbervilles by Kim Newman
          Book – Best Juvenile: Pendulum by Stepan Vardano
          Book – Best Anthology: Variations on the End of the World by Victor Tochin and Vasily Vladimir
          Book – Most Anticipated of the Year: The Wind through the Keyhole by Stephen King
          Film – Best: Gravity
          Film – Best SF: Ender's Game
          Film – Best Fantasy: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
          Film – Best Comedy: The World's End
          Film – Best SFX: Pacific Rim
          Film – Jubilee: Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor
          Film – Disappointment of the Year: After Earth
The above were decided on by the Mir Fantastika staff.
The following were determined by a poll of Mir Fantastika readers:-
          Book: 11/22/63 by Stephen King
          Film: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Comment: Regulars will have spotted that over the years Henry Lion Oldie has repeatedly won many different genre awards across former Soviet nations.

Russia's Bastkon Awards were presented at Bastkon in January. Bastkon is an SF/F litcon for authors (especially young ones as encouragement and nurturing embryonic talent is behind this event), editors and critics founded in 2001. Around 150 usually attend. (If you are one of our Western SF community reguilars then think of this as Russia's version of the Milford weekend workshops.) The principal category wins were:-
          Sword of the Bastion (main juried award with 10,000 roubles prize money): Vadim Panov
          Bowl Bastion (attendee voted award):-
                    1st place: Nikolai Kalinichenko and Andrei Zhukov Xherbak for the story 'Island Baltchug'
                    2nd place: Yaroslav Verov and Igor Minakov for the story 'Troglodyte Hotel'
                    3rd place: Dahlia Truskinovskaya and Dmitry Fedotov for the story 'The Owl Spreads its Wings'
          Ivan Kalita Award (a cash prize raised by voting fee): Nikolai Kalinichenko and Andrei Zhukov Xherbak for the story 'Island Baltchug'
          Mirror Award (for translation): Xenia Medvedevich

James Herbert Award for Horror announced. It was sad to hear of James Herbert's death last year. Now Pan Macmillan have announced a new award for horror novels. The announcement coincides with the fortieth anniversary of the first publication of The Rats for which Pan Macmillan will be releasing special anniversary paperback and collectors’ hardback editions in May and September respectively and which will contain an exclusive new introduction by Neil Gaiman. The prize, which will be awarded annually, aims to discover and publicise a new generation of horror authors working today and celebrate the boldest and most exciting talent in the genre. The winning author will receive a cheque for £2,000 and a specially-designed commemorative statuette. The inaugural award will be open to horror novels written in English and published in the UK and Ireland between 1st January 2014 and 31st December 2014. Entries should be submitted to Pan Macmillan via their online submission form by 1st October 2014. James Herbert’s daughter, Kerry, will head up the panel of five judges whose names will be announced in the summer.

Apex magazine has had a spring innovations. Effective from issue 58 (March 2014) Apex now runs three original stories per month (currently had been running two). Also its monthly reprint now appears only in subscriber editions of the issue and the >eBook edition (for single copy purchase).Finally, it has brought its subscribers-only and eBook-only content in the form of additional stories from its other Apex catalogue or extended excerpts of books from the world at large (not just from the Apex stable).  See  www.apexbookcompany.com/magazine/  or  apex-magazine.com/

Brave New World is 'inappropriate' say school governors. Governors at Cape Henlopen School District in Delaware (USA) say that Aldous Huxley's 1932 SF classic is 'inappropriate' for some Advanced Placement English pupils. Though no one on the board has yet proposed that the book be removed from the curriculum, singling out a book with indisputable educational value raises constitutional issues, could invite challenges to the work and set an unfortunate precedent. The National Coalition Against Censorship (a US body) has written to the school saying “Focusing on content that someone might consider inappropriate or objectionable inevitably takes material out of context and distorts the meaning of the book.”

Batman and Green Hornet to reprise their 1960s team up in a comic strip serial. Remember the camp Batman 1960s TV series with Adam West and Burt (Robin) Ward? Well if you do you might remember the two-parter team up with the Green Hornet (Van Williams) and his side kick Kato (Bruce Lee) in 1967. Now the team-up is to be reprised in comic form by filmmaker and graphic novel writer Kevin Smith teams and a Bat-fan Ralph Garman (the latter apparently known in parts of the US as a comedian and KROQ radio personality). Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet launches as a 12-part, digital biweekly series beginning 21st May, and will debut in comic shops as a print comic on 4th June in a DC Comics/Dynamite Entertainment crossover. Let's hope a graphic novel compilation follows. And for those of you who do not know of the masked Green Hornet, he and oriental side-kick Kato were a crime fighting duo that appeared in US newspapers comic strips. (It is hinted that the Green Hornet is a descendant of the Lone Ranger.)

 

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

Summer 2014

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

Joe Abercrombie says he is franticly writing in the aim to complete his 'Half' trilogy so that the last one will be in the shops the summer of 2015 – next year! The second draft of the second book, Half the World was done in February and sent off to his readers. The hope is that it will be out for February 2015. The third one, Half a War, he is starting to draft around the time we post this news page by the end of April (2014) and with luck should be in the shops for July 2015. He also hopes to have a collection of his short fiction out for early 2016. Looking even further ahead, he is looking to start writing early next year a new 'First Law' novel with possible publication in 2017.

Brian Aldiss is not well, has had a couple of heart attacks and so we may not be seeing him at the 2014 London Worldcon. We do wish him the best of health. Though his likely missing Loncon will be a huge shame; Brian was a GoH at the 1979 Worldcon in Brighton.  Also, in 2012 we lost Harry Harrison from the Aldiss-Harrison-Lundwall triumvirate, and Sam Lundwall probably made his last appearance at a major international con at the 2011 Eurocon (though did get a Eurocon Award). Some of us will be thinking of, and raise a glass to, the three at Worldcon.

David Barnett's Gideon Smith steampunk trilogy is to be available in dramatic audio format (abridged audio with a full cast, sound effects, and music) from Graphic Audio. These will complement the novels. The first novel Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl was released by Snowbooks (and Tor in the US). The next, Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon, will follow in September (2014).

Elizabeth Bear has a World rights, two-book deal with Gollancz for a new space opera. The novels imagine the invention of The White Drive: an easy, non-relativistic means of travel across unimaginable distances. The story follows salvage operators, Haimey Dz and her partner Connla Kurucz, as they pilot their tiny ship into the scars left by unsuccessful White Transitions, searching for the relics of lost human – and alien – vessels. You may not need reminding (but some may not know and so we will say) that Elizabeth has two Hugo Awards, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (2005), a Sturgeon Award, a Locus Award, an Asimov's Reader's Choice award, a Spectrum Award, and an honourable mention for the Philip K. Dick Award.

Ginjer Buchanan is retiring from being the Ace/Roc principal editor over in the US after 30 years. All the best to her for the future. (She will probably now have more time to read SF.)

Neil Gaiman will be in London giving readings at the Barbican on the 4th and 5th of July (2014). He will be reading his Locus ('Novelette' category) and the Shirley Jackson Award (for 'Best Novelette' category) award winning story 'The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains'. The story will be read to a visual backdrop of Eddie Campbell paintings, and Eddie co-hosts the evening. There will also be an audio accompaniment with the Four Play String Quartet. This evening follows a similar one to a very sold out Sydney Opera House. See here for excerpts of that performance. Four Play also played the Dr Who theme during the interval. +++ See below in our vid-clip links section Neil singing Fireball XL5.

David Gemmell, who sadly died in 2006, is having re-issues of some of his fantasy novels from Orbit in July: Lion Of Macedon, Dark Prince, Knights of Dark Renown, Morningstar, and Stones of Power: The Omnibus Edition. We have not included these re-issues in our forthcoming fantasy listing for the season, which is already is rather long, but we thought that new Gemmell fans would want to know that these titles are available as paperbacks should they wish to catch up.

David Hardy had one of his paintings removed from its packaging while en route to a customer while in the hands of the courier DHL. The painting was an imaginary scene from the film Road to the Stars and a tribute to Pavel Klushantsev the package arrived at David's customer but it was empty. Much annoyance and dialogue with DHL, and then a day later the painting was delivered back to David in different, less robust, packaging resulting in a crease. No explanation was given. Fortunately the painting was insured and doubly fortunately David had previously taken a picture of the painting before he sent it off via DHL.

Robert Jordan, who sadly died in 2007 is having re-issues of many of his fantasy novels from Orbit in August: The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn,The Shadow Rising, Fires of Heaven, Knights of Dark Renown, Lion Of Macedon, Dark Prince, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Path of Daggers, Winter's Heart, Crossroads of Twilight and Knife of Dreams. These novels will also be re-released along with Jordan's titles with Brandon Sanderson: Towers of Midnight, A Memory of Light and The Gathering Storm.  Collectors and serious fantasy readers note: this is probably your last chance to get the late author's works together! We have not included these re-issues in our forthcoming fantasy listing for the season, which is already is rather long, but we thought that new Jordan fans would want to know that these titles are available as paperbacks should they wish to catch up.

Doris Lessing's memorial service was held at St Martin-in-the-Field off Trafalgar Square in April. (The Nobel-winning author died in the autumn.) The service was open to everyone from fans to literary peers and colleagues. The collection went to BookTrust and the Africa Book Development Organisation.

George R. R. Martin appeared on BBC Radio 4 just prior to Easter. He said he enjoyed writing novels compared to film script writing where studios continually interfered. Given this he asked whether studios were interfering with his Game of Thrones novels now that the television series had become a hit. He replied that so far things were fine. His only difficulty, he confided, was keeping writing so as to stay ahead of television production, but he tries not to think about it but to focus on doing a scene a day. His worries seemed understandable but became all the more so a week later when it was revealed that the television series had been again renewed for more seasons.

Paul McAuley is in the process of sending his next novel to Gollancz and is called Something Coming Through. In his own words: "Something Coming Through is set in my Jackaroo universe, first explored in several short stories. Trickster aliens have gifted the ailing contemporary human civilisation with 15 worlds orbiting various red dwarf stars and the means to reach them. In London, Chloe Millar is searching for a troubled young man who is compulsively drawing pictures of a landscape on Mangala, one of the Jackaroo's gift worlds. On Mangala, an investigator and his novice partner become embroiled in a murder involving an ancient alien artefact. And as Chloe's search and the murder investigation draw together, it become apparent that the Jackaroo's concept of help is stranger than anyone could guess..."

Karen Miller is having re-issues of some of her fantasy novels from Orbit in June: The Prodigal Mage, The Reluctant Mage, Empress, The Riven Kingdom and Hammer of God. Then in early September her 'Mage' books will be released: The Innocent Mage, The Awakened Mage and A Blight of Mages. We have not included these re-issues in our forthcoming fantasy listing for the season, which is already is rather long, but we thought that new Miller fans would want to know that these titles are available as paperbacks should they wish to catch up.

George Orwell shocker! This comes via the faster than light Ansible in turn from US Weekly. George Orwell must be rotating in his grave after the announcement that the 1956 film of 1984 is being remade as Equals, described as a 'futuristic love story'. Kristen Stewart, playing the female lead, breathlessly comments: 'It's a love story of epic, epic, epic proportion ... I'm scared.' Is it she, rather than the hapless Winston, who at the end will really, really, really love Big Brother?" (US Weekly, 24 January.)

Gareth L Powell has news about his novel Ack-Ack Macaque: Tokyo Sogensha Co., Ltd. have acquired Japanese rights in SF novel. This builds on it being shortlisted for the 2014 British SF Award for 'Best Novel' and then winning it. Last year we announced that a sequel was forthcoming.

Terry Pratchett has written the forward to the non-fiction book Assisted Dying: Who makes the final decision edited by Lesley Close and Jo Cartwright (Peter Owen Books). The book is a collection of essays by medical experts and religious souls. The title was originally published in 1969 but this is a brand new collection, and appropriate too as attitudes have change markedly since then. The new edition includes some case studies.

Anne Rice has joined a thousand others – including a number of other authors – signing a petition to protest against the bullying of authors on Amazon's review comments. The signatories argue that a stand against comments that are 'gratuitously destructive towards the creative community' is needed. Anne Rice has addressed werewolves, vampires and witches in her stories, but now the bestselling novelist is taking on a real-life enemy: the anonymous 'anti-author gangsters' who attack and threaten writers online. The petition calls on Amazon to remove anonymity from its reviewers in order to prevent the 'bullying and harassment' rife on the site. Anne says, "They've worked their way into the Amazon system as parasites, posting largely under pseudonyms, lecturing, bullying, seeking to discipline authors whom they see as their special prey." The author added, "They're all about power. They clearly organise, use multiple identities and brag about their ability to down vote an author's works if the author doesn't 'behave' as they dictate."  To which we might add that this problem is not just restricted to author bullying but attacks on other reviewers commenting on the Amazon site on books that generate distinctly differing camps of views. For example, anti-evolution and climate denier texts attract commenters with diametrically opposed views and the comments can become heated to the point of bullying. If commentators were not anonymous, commenters would likely be more restrained. Anne has been a victim of these Amazon cyber-bullies herself when giving advice to up-coming writers. She feels that Amazon is not even enforcing its own guidelines. +++  Other Amazon news in the book news subsection further down below

J. K. Rowling has announced that she has had second thoughts over Hermione and Ron getting together. Ron always played second fiddle to Harry Potter and Hermione is kind of alpha female: would she have settled for Ron? Rowling is reported as saying: "said: "I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfilment. That's how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron."  Anyway, apparently this is terrifically important genre news as it made the front page of The Times (2nd February 2014) so we thought you'd feel this season's newscast incomplete if we left it out.  +++ Jo Rowling was also the first takeover editor for BBC national Radio 4 Women's Hour programme in the show's WH Takeover Week at the end of April. For her show she shose topics close to her heart. These included: women in rugby; multiple sclerosis (Scotland has a high incidence); children in institutions in impoverished parts of Europe (she founded the Lumos charity in 2008); and shoes (her Penny Big Bang moment).

John Scalzi has called for Worldcon's Hugo administrators to stop announcing Hugo nominees over the holiday Easter weekend as that is media dead time and so will not much raise the profile of Hugos. He makes a cogent case. Of course, one counter to this is that because it is dead time for news this is exactly the time to make such announcements. Another is that many countries in the World do not have Easter weekend, and indeed many Eastern European countries have their Easter weekend at a different time to the British Isles and N. American Easter. Still, no doubt this debate will run a little. +++   Members of the Concatenation team have run press liaison operations for two Eurocons and a British national convention, among other SF ventures, and so are fully cognisant of press-liaison difficulties. Few in fandom have press skills. (For example, how many would-be Worldcon press officers start by separately Yahoo, Bing and Googling search key strings such as 'science fiction news' and then seeing which sites are updated regularly and carry Worldcon news to build the specialist on-line media press list?) Also, each Worldcon has a largely fresh organization team. Conversely, established book prize awards, such as the Booker, tend to have a stable organizational base that can over time establish a long-lasting relationship with media contacts. A long-term media contact would very well be prepared, or sort out a journalistic channel, to process news over a dead-news period, and indeed welcome doing so.  +++ An alternate suggestion. If we may be so bold, an alternative suggestion would be to announce a Hugo long-list of the top twenty nominations one week after nomination closes. This would be before the administrators had a chance to contact potential short-list nominees to ask whether they would be prepared to be short-listed, but that would not matter (as at that stage we would not know the short-list and this long-list in any case would normally released after the awards ceremony). By releasing the long-list in advance it would spark some interest and alert journalists to the short-list's forthcoming Easter release.

Lynn Shepherd , the crime writer (in case SF/F/H readers have not heard of her), has come under a cyberstorm since she called for J. K. Rowling to stop writing because she has 'had [her] turn', and that other writers need 'room to breathe'. Shepherd made her plea on the mainstream US newszine The Huffington Post saying that Rowling's first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, 'sucked the oxygen from the entire publishing and reading atmosphere' and that 'Rowling has no need of either the shelf space or the column inches, but other writers desperately do.'  The call soon met fierce criticism on The Huffington Post and this quickly spread to Twitter. There the Hugo, Kurd Lasswitz (Kurd-Laßwitz) Preis, Ignotus award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi said Shepherd's call was 'zero-sum author thinking', and 'If you think other people's success diminishes you, don't be a writer.'  Two-time winner of the British Fantasy Award, Mark Chadbourn, said Shepherd's call was an instance of 'how authors can shoot themselves in the head via a catastrophic misunderstanding of how publishing works.' Then matters went to Amazon and its cyberbullying hoard (no matter the rights of the cause there is no excuse for bullying, indeed especially if the cause is self-evidently right). And Shepherd's novels which had had many Amazon 5-star reviews now received many 1-star reviews so lowering their ratings. Shepherd apologised for upsetting writers and readers alike, explaining she had, 'only ever meant to raise the issue of how hard it is for new writers to get noticed and how publishing is much more of a zero-sum game than people often think.'

Michael J. Sullivan is having re-issues of some of his fantasy novels from Orbit in June: Theft Of Swords, Heir of Novron and Rise of Empire. We have not included these re-issues in our forthcoming fantasy listing for the season, which is already is rather long, but we thought that new Sullivan fans would want to know that these title are available as paperbacks should they wish to catch up.

 

For SF author websites click SF author links.

 

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

Summer 2014

FILM NEWS

The spring's SF/F box-office hits included:-
          The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which came out for Christmas, sustained a position in the British Isles weekly box office charts well into 2014 accruing enough points to come top of our annual chart (12-months to Easter).
          Gravity, which also came out for Christmas, sustained a position in the weekly box office charts well into 2014 accruing enough points to come 2nd in our our annual chart (12-months to Easter). It also did well at this year's BAFTAs and Oscars picking up multiple awards.
          Divergent that came out just before Easter and therefore never had the time to accrue points in our annual chart (12-months to Easter), topped the weekend N. American (Canada and US) chart when it came out at the end of March (2014). It is a book for teenagers (tapping into angst of who am I and how do I fit in) set in a dystopic future and based on the Veronica Roth books.
          Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out just before Easter was another potentially strong contender for our annual chart as it topped the British Isles weekly chart but again never had the time to accrue points in our annual chart (12-months to Easter).
          Ditto Muppets Most Wanted.
          Ditto Noah, the science fantasy set in the (presumably far post-apocalyptic ) distant future and inspired by the Biblical fantasy.
          Frozen, the children's fantasy computer animation, has become the highest-grossing animated film of all time. The Disney film recently reached US$1.072 billion (£644.5m) at the worldwide box office, overtaking previous record-holder Toy Story 3. Frozen topped the British Isles box office when it was released in December but did not sustain its position in the weekly charts on which we base our annual chart. The film has earned US$398.4m (£234.1m) at domestic (U.S. and Canadian) theatres with another US$674m (405.2m) at the foreign box office.
Genre underperformers at the box office included:-
          I, Frankenstein but which still debuted at 6th place in the N. American box office, though that will not hugely reassure its producers given the film's budget. In the British Isles it spent one week in the weekly charts as the fourth most box office grossing film.

Films to watch out for in the summer include:-
          Lucy -- Think Limitless combined with an action thriller. Stars Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman. +++ Trailer here.
          The Giver -- Set in a near utopia future there is a dark secret – something has been kept from us… Stars include Meryl Streep. +++ Trailer here.
          Earth to Echo -- This is one for youngsters (young teenagers) and is a kind of modern re-imagining of E.T.. +++ Trailer here.
For other films see our forthcoming film diary which we update every January (and so are only a snapshot of forthcoming films) and which primarily consists of big studio offerings.

The British Academy Film & Television Awards (BAFTAs) were swept by Gravity. Though not winning 'best film' it did secure best: 'director', 'British film', 'cinematography', 'sound', 'musical score' and 'visual effects'.  Note: gravity should only be viewed at an IMAX and preferably in 3D. Do not watch it on TV at home, and if we ever catch you viewing it on your mobile (cell)…

The Academy Awards (Oscars) were swept by Gravity Though not winning 'best film' it did secure best: 'director', 'cinematography', 'film editing', 'original score', sound editing', 'sound mixing', and 'visual effects'.

Back to the Future is to be a musical. The Hugo Award winning, 1985, Roger (Concact, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) Zemeckis film starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd is set to be a musical with Zemeckis and co-writer Bob Gale to pen the stage adaptation. They intend to be faithful to the film but mot slavishly follow it. The music will be based on music from the film together with some new numbers. Composer Alan Silvestri - who scored many of Zemeckis's films, including Romancing the Stone, Forrest Gump and Cast Away - will co-compose the music and lyrics for the show with Glen Ballard. The musical will debut in London's West End near the 30th anniversary of the original film's launch.

Something Wicked This Way Comes, the Ray Bradbury novel, is one more to be made into a film. Disney first turned it into a film in 1983. Now the studio is going to make another version. Seth Grahame-Smith is set to direct: it will be his directorial debut. (Seth Grahame-Smith is currently working on the new Beetlejuice film's script and also completing a sequel novel to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.)

The Matrix is to have a new prequel trilogy. The word is that the Wachowskis have already started work on writing the prequels. The first, and best, Matrix film came out in 1999. The sequels were overly complex with style triumphing over SFnal substance. However there was a short 9-episode Animatrix cartoon series (2003) that was rather good on SF but poor on artwork. How this will turn out we will see. Much depends on Warner Brothers officially green-lighting the venture as they do need a sure-fire commercial success.

Film option deal for Adam Nevill’s horror novel The Ritual. Imaginarium Studios have optioned Adam Nevill’s horror novel The Ritual. The highly praised novel was published in the British Isles in 2011 by Macmillan UK and in the US by St Martin’s Press in 2012. The novel is a contemporary horror tale that follows four men hiking in the northern European forests and the hellish things they discover there. The deal was brokered by the Gotham Group in Los Angeles, representing the John Jarrold Agency. Imaginarium Studios is jointly-run by Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish. Imaginarium also recently secured film rights for Samantha Shannon's novel The Bone Season, along with rights to a new adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls is being made into a film by Spanish producer. Beléén's (Labyrinth) Atienza is producing. Shooting starts this autumn for an anticipated 2016 release. Patrick Ness' novel won a Carnegie in 2012. A Monster Calls is a visually spectacular drama about a young oy who attempts to deal with his mother's illness and the bullying of his classmates by escaping into a fantastical world of monsters and fairy tales.

Star Wars: Episode VII will start shooting at Pinewood Studios near London in May and the rumours that Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher may star strengthen. Disney and Lucasfilm confirmed the latest instalment in the series would be set about 30 years after the events of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. It "will star a trio of new young leads along with some very familiar faces", the press release added. This strengthens the rumour that Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher will star as they are now three decades older than when they appeared in the first three films. J. J. Abrams is directing, Lucas is increasingly not involved (as we reported at the beginning of last year) and the film is slated for an 18 December 2015 theatre release.

Ghostbusters III loses director Ivan Reitman. Ivan Reitman, who directed the first two Ghostbusters films and was working on the third, feels that the third needs as many of the original team as possible. Given that Bill Murray (who played Dr Peter Venkman) will not confirm involvement, now that Harold Ramis has died Reitman feels that a third film without these two of the original team would not be the same. He will remain on board as a producer, helping Sony to find a new director. The film studio hopes to start shooting Ghostbusters 3 in early 2015.  We first reported that there might be a third film back in 2009 and we noted Bill Murray's reluctance reluctance in 2012.

2001: A Space Odyssey being re-mastered, digitally restored. The 1969 Hugo-winning film's screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke, telling the story of encounters between humans and black monoliths, a conflicted computer and a voyage to Jupiter. the British Film Institute will release the re-mastered Warner Bros version on 28th November as part of its science fiction film blockbuster season, which starts in October.

New Battlestar Galactica film in the offing. Universal’s exec VP of production Scott Bernstein and director of development Jay Polidoro are overseeing the latest version of Battlestar Galactica for the studio.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!: Frank Drake, the SETI pioneer, was interviewed at SETIcon II as part of the celebration of the beginning of the 30th year of the SETI Institute.   You can see it here.

Film clip download tip!: Fear Force Five new web series is attracting attention. In a boring beach community a handful of 20 somethings would rather be anywhere else end up being charged with defending the town, and the world, against an onslaught of marauding gigantic monsters.  It is rather fun.  See the trailer here, and episode 1 here.

Film clip download tip!: Honest trailer of Gravity. If you have not come across 'Honest trailers' yet then quite simply they are trailers for films assuming that the film-makers were being totally honest!   It is just a bit of fun but betrays some truths.  See the honest trailer of Gravity here.

Film clip download tip!: Gravity 2 is being made; sort of. And here is the trailer.

Film clip download tip!: Dr Who and Sherlock mash.  Months after an encounter with a mysterious 'Doctor', Sherlock becomes obsessed with discovering more about this impossible man... until the man makes an unexpected return.   You can see it here.

Film clip download tip!: A (slightly out of tune) Neil Gaiman sings Fireball XL5's with the FourPlay string quartet… Well, it's a bit of fun, and a nostalgia trip for an iconic television series of yore.  It was at Sydney's City Recital Hall as part of the Sydney Writer's Festival.  You can see it here.

Film clip download tip!: Star Trek Phase 2: 'Kitumba'.  Now, prior to getting cancelled back in the 1970s, Star Trek was going to have another season. Some scripts were written but the season, as we all know, was never aired. What has happened now is that the group of Trekies (Phase 2) – who have recently been making fan films (with above-average amateur quality values and better effects than the early 1970s series) of the original series (the accent of the actor now playing 'Scotty' very firmly excepted) – have adapted what was originally a two-part episode script from this never-shot season into a single one-hour episode and filmed it.  You can see it here.

Film clip download tip!: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is being launched just after we post this page on 18th April (2014): the coincidence of our seasonal posting and the films' launch do not have a causal relationship (honest).  The villains this time are Electro (Jamie Foxx) and Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan).  – You can see the extended HD trailer here.

 

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

For a reminder of the top films in 2013/14 (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 2014 see our film release diary.

 

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

Summer 2014

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

The Best selling SF/F books in the British Isles of the last year (2013) out of the top 100 best selling fiction books (both SF/F and non-SF). The number at the beginning is the number in the top 100 of all the year's best sellers. The top SF/F titles were:-
          21. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien with 244,676 copies sold in the British Isles.
          24. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, 213,457 sold.
          33. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 194,749 sold.
          38. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, 175,406 copies sold.
          49. Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett, 166,305 copies sold.

Adobe may be making old e-readers redundant! Adobe has announced that starting in July, the vast majority of e-reader apps and hardware devices will not be able to read any newly bought e-Books. This is due to Adobe's forthcoming major upgrade to its encryption system in their new Digital Editions 3.0. This will have reverberating effects on ePub books all over the world. Unless thousands of app developers and e-reader companies update their firmware and programming, customers will be unable to read books they have legitimately purchased. Some are saying that, in effect, Adobe is killing eBooks and e-readers! The big impact will be for all of the old e-readers, reading apps, and older bookstores that will never make this change. An e-reader issued by a company three years ago, is likely never going to receive the firmware update to read protected ePub or PDF Files. Don't forget that outside developed nations there are many places in the world still not on the internet or have wi-fi to receive this upgrade, and that assumes that very old e-readers have the necessary hardware to accept the new encryption modifications anyway. Unlike mobile phones, which many in the developed west, buy the latest model every 12 – 18 months, e-readers are rarely upgraded, and shops that have lower turnover of stock may find that their e-readers are not capable of being updated. (So be wary of cheap e-reader offers later this year.)  One saving grace is that many big eBook stores and e-reader companies did not adopt the Adobe system in the first place, like, for example, Sony has: Apple, Amazon, B&N and Kobo all use their own book encryption and are not reliant on Adobe. Amazon uses their own book format (though anyone using Amazon arguably needs their moral compass checking), and the other players have all developed their own off-shoots of ePub and PDF. Meanwhile Adobe is keeping their source code secret in the hope that the new system will not be broken/hacked.  Apparently they are also planning a new 'always online' form of DRM. This will work much the same way most games work, that require you to always maintain an internet connection to verify the authenticity of the book. Again not helpful to those parts of the world away from wi-fi or hard internet connection.  These new Adobe developments will either make the company very successful, or it will blow up in their face requiring a major re-think.

The growth of digital books was down in 2013 for all the big 6 British Isles publishers. Note: this is 'growth' we are talking about and not sales; 'growth' being the 'rate of increase' in sales. E-book sales are still increasing and for the big 5 publishers their 42.3 million e-book sales represent a rise of 18% over 2012. However growth the previous year (2012) was a massive 105%: that is 2012 sales over 2011 sales. It could be that the growth in e-book sales could level off almost completely within a couple of years? Or it could resurge if the economy picks up. We will see.

The first quarter (2014) British Isles book sales data is now out. Books (paper formats) represented around 75% of the commercial (retail, main publisher and on-line sales only) market. This is down from 80% of the market the previous year's (2013) first quarter. These percentages represent the proportion of sales (not quantity or copies sold). Of the 25% of e-books sold, 12% were self-published titles (that means self-published e-book titles represent just 3% of the total book and e-book market). Self-published e-books typically sold for around £2 whereas other e-books typically sold for £3 - £4.99.  The 2014 first-quarter print sales for paper-format fiction were down over last year, but some sub-genres were up. Particularly strong have been graphic novel sales and here Manga up 32% to £900,000 on the same time last year.

Quercus – the home of the Jo Fletcher Books SF/F/H imprint – was put up for sale. Quercus was originally set up in 2004 by those leaving Orion (the home of the Gollancz SF imprint which Jo originally worked up to a couple of years ago). Quercus started off small but slowly and steadily grew. It had something of a growth spurt in 2010, growing 100% that year, and so was awarded 'Best Publisher' in the Book Industry Awards in 2011.  As for the reason for the sale, Quercus said that sales in the final quarter of the year were "lower than expected", attributing the result to "continuing issues within the book trade which led retailers to adopt very conservative ordering policies", and "a lower than expected upturn in digital sales over the Christmas period to the end of the year." It should be noted that all publishers are being squeezed by the double whammy of discounts they have to offer the larger on-line retailers as well as the global recession.

Quercus bought by Hodder & Stoughton. Apparently the purchase price was £12.6 million. Unless Quercus has had a remarkable change of fortune (see previous item and its 2011 Book Industry Award win), this is a good buy: Quercus' turnover in 2012 was £20.4 million but its current financial position is not secure. Hodder & Stoughton, of course, do do SF/F but Quercus' comparatively new Jo Fletcher Books still has much to offer and could compliment Hodder's genre titles. The deal will be formally finalised in May after we post this season's news page.

Constable & Robinson, noted for its SF anthologies, has been bought by Little Brown (known for its Orbit SF/F imprint). Let's hope those anthologies keep coming. +++ The sale of Constable & Robinson and Quercus means that two more of the remaining large-ish independent publishers have been taken over by the large publishing corporates.

New SF/F editor for US's Ace/Roc/Berkley is Diana Gill. Diana comes from being editor at Harper Voyager in the US and replaces long-standing Ginjer Buchanan who is retiring. Of interest to science fact and fiction concateneers, Diana started in publishing in science working on text books at W. H. Freeman. When she moved to Harper Collins' Harper Voyager she ended up running its SF/F imprint for 12 years.

Pyr celebrated its 9th birthday in March. Many happy returns. Only a year to the big '1' '0'. Pyr's first book was John Meaney's Paradox: Book I of the Nulapeiron Sequence. It had published 189 titles at the time of its birthday and so should easily reach 200 books by its 10th anniversary.

The number of independent bookshops in the UK has fallen to below 1,000! There are now 987, down from 1,028 in February 2013. Over the past nine years a third of independent bookshops have closed.: in 2005 there were 1,535 in the UK. The Bookseller Association's President, Tim Godfray, said that everyone should sit up and take notice of this. Now you may think that these closures mainly affect the far-flung parts of the UK but no, those in the Home counties and those close to them have been affected too. For instance, there are no independent bookshops at all in Bedfordshire (and only one Waterstones in that county). Discounts given to the on-line giant retailer Amazon is largely blamed and nobody seems to be challenging it or their hold over the e-book market, employee policy, and their tax avoidance. Hertford and Stortford MP, Mark Prisk, when Minister for small business (2010-2012) to get the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to address this matter but the OFT declined.

British bookshop buyers' Amazon backlash. The Bookseller (British bookselling trade magazine) annual Christmas survey of bookshop owners saw them reporting increased awareness of customers of the need to support them or lose them in the face of on-line book retailers. A dislike of Amazon was particularly cited for their employment and tax practices. Bookshop owners were pessimistic as to the outlook for high street bookshops in 2014 due to large on-line booksellers and supermarkets creaming off the big-selling titles with unfair discounts that are thought to be one of the principal factors behind bookshop closures in recent years. +++  Fantasy horror writer Anne Rice joins call against Amazon commenter bullying. See Anne Rice in the People subsection earlier above.

And talking of Amazon…

Scandinavia's book industry has slowed Amazon's entry into its book market by talking tough terms. Norway still has a fixed-price system (Britain had one with the 1900 NET Agreement that ended in 1997). Norway's commercial sales are all monitored by Bookbasen (a sort of Britain's BookScan) and payment relates to sales but Amazon is hesitating to release its sales data. Sweden's book sales database company is Bokrondellen and the word is that it is talking tough terms with Amazon. Denmark stopped fixed-price charging in 2011 and its small book industry has seen arguably chaotic times since then: Amazon is probably making the most progress here. +++ What are the lessons for Britain (or indeed N. America)? Well, in Britain some had hopes that the 2013 Penguin-Random merger might have meant that there was enough publishing clout for them not to feel they had to grant Amazon the discounts of which high street bookshop chains (let alone independent bookshops) could only dream. Yet challenging the mighty Amazon is possible as fantasy writer J. K. Rowling proved in 2012 when founding Pottormore to sell Harry Potter e-books. She did not grant Amazon the discounts they wanted, yet not only did they let her sell Kindle versions of her books but the 2013 Bookseller Industry Awards gave Pottermore the Digital Strategy of the Year award. It's not too late for publishers to get some nerve.

Girl Genius and Tor (US) have a tiff: Tor, it has to be said, does not come out of this well. Kaja and Phil Foglio's Girl Genius has done well: vol. 8 won the 2009 Hugo Award for best graphic story. The dispute is a little complicated but, in essence, it seems to be down to poor project management by Tor. Tor apparently decided to start a line of omnibus graphic novels. (All well and good.) As part of this they came out with a low-priced hardcover omnibus of Girl Genius. (All well and good.) But then the Foglios wondered when the paperback would come out? (Understandable.) And that was when they started getting obfuscation from Tor. After a year they get nowhere but started a dialogue with one of Tor's senior editors who – it must be emphasised – was unconnected with the graphic novel omnibus project but who wanted matters settled. Apparently, what happened was that the Tor's graphic omnibus line was not selling. The Foglios did not mind this if they could produce and sell an omnibus edition themselves and they are good at selling graphic novels. However their contract with Tor says that they cannot produce a competing publication and Tor will not release them from this clause in their contract. All very messy, and the moral is to be wary of non-compete clauses and also check publishers reputations as to how they structure editorial load (there's talk in the blogosphere that this could be a Tor issue).

Discworld diaries to be published. Gollancz in partnership with the official purveyor of merchandise from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, The Discworld Emporium, are delighted to announce plans to publish Discworld diaries for the next three years from 2015 to 2017. With background detail and hilarious one-liners, The Discworld Diaries will help all fans of Sir Terry Pratchett keep their lives in order. Developed in consultation with Sir Terry Pratchett, the Discworld diaries are one part diary, one part guide to the arcane practices of the funniest creation in modern fantasy. Gollancz’s previous Discworld diaries sold over 25,000 copies per year at their peak, and their Discworld calendars continue to sell in the order of 15,000 copies per year. The Discworld Collector’s Library, launched in November last year and has already sold more than 40,000 copies.

 

More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in September 2014. Meanwhile check out the forthcoming SF and forthcoming fantasy book lists sections (see the mini-index immediately below…).

 

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

Summer 2014

TV NEWS

In case you are missing it, BBC America is just broadcasting a four-pert documentary series The History of Science Fiction. The first two episodes were broadcast in N. America in the latter half of April just prior to our posting this seasonal news page. Early May sees the remaining two episodes. The British Isles will see the series over the summer. Those interviewed in the documentary include: Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Stardust), Kim Stanley Robinson (Mars Trilogy, 2312), Ursula K Le Guin (The Left Hand of Darkness,Four Ways to Forgiveness) and Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveller's Wife), along with a host of sci-fi stars such as William (Star Trek) Shatner, Anthony (Star Wars) Daniels and Nathan (Firefly) Fillion. Episode 1 covers robots, 2 covers space, 3 invasion and 4 time.

James Corey's novels to come to television in The Expanse mini-series. It is being billed as a thriller set 200 years in the future and follows the case of a missing young woman who brings a hardened detective and a rogue ship's captain together in a race across the solar system to expose the greatest conspiracy in human history. The 10-episode series is to air on SyFy.  SF2 Concatenation cited James Corey's 'Expanse' novel Abaddon's Gate as one of the Best SF novels of 2013.

From Dusk till Dawn is now a TV series that already has a second series green lit. Using the 1996 film (Aztec vampires are alive and well today preying on passing truckers) as a springboard it has Robert Rodriguez very much at the helm. The series explores and expands on the (surviving) characters and story from the film. The first episode was only aired last month (March 2014) in the US but so far the series has been warmly received with such strong viewing figures that reportedly a second series has been green lit.

Helix is to have a second season. The series concerns a multinational's large bioresearch facility at which some researchers have become infected with a novel (man-made?) pathogen and to which a governmental health team is sent to ascertain what is going on.  Helix's first season saw an average US audience of 2.1 million viewers: this is actually top rating for a US cable show which Helix is. The 13-episode second season will commence production later this year (2014), with a view to a winter 2015 premiere. Let's hope season two takes forward the overall story arc in a meaningful way. Season one was just about engaging but beginning to drag. Memories of the lack of story arc for the series Lost still linger.

Walking Dead end to season 4 attracts its biggest audience. Things look good for season 5. The closing episode of the fourth series averaged 15.7 million viewers in the US. In the (advertising) key 18-49 age group, it was the top rated show across all US TV entertainment programming the day it was screened. By comparison, the third series finale in March 2013 was watched by 12.4 million viewers. Season five of The Walking Dead is scheduled to air in the US in October (2014).

Game of Thrones is to be extended by two seasons after season 4 with 6,6 million HBO viewers in the US. In the British Isles, 1.2 million tuned into Sky Atlantic across two broadcasts, one a 02:00 BST simulcast with the US. More than 538,000 UK fans watched the early morning airing, while another 664,000 saw the series return in its Monday night slot of 21:00 BST. And now Game of Thrones has been commissioned for two new series. +++ George R. R. Martin on BBC.

Generation spaceship set murder mini-series coming to SyFy. Ascension will be a six-part (episodes of probably 45 minutes) mini-series concerning a generation ship that has just passed the point of no-return in its century-long mission to transport colonists. And then a murder takes place that causes those aboard to question their mission's purpose… A further twist – if the advance word is to be believed – is that the spaceship was covertly launched back in 1963.  Reportedly SyFy to air in November.  (What's the betting the colonists aren't on a spaceship at all? Maybe some nuclear bunker and kept to colonise re-populate the US?)

Z Nation new Zombie series to air on SyFy. The 13-episode series will follow the struggle for humans to survive post-zombie apocalypse. It will follow what is happening three years after the zombie apocalypse. Only one survivor of the plague lives on, but he has to be transported across the country to a lab where a sample of his zombie-free blood can hopefully create a vaccine.

The 100 is a new television series. Ninety-seven years ago, nuclear Armageddon decimated planet Earth, destroying civilization. The only survivors were the 400 inhabitants of 12 international space stations that were in orbit at the time. Three generations have been born in space, the survivors now number 4,000, and resources are running out on their dying 'Ark'. The leaders of the Ark secretly exile a group of 100 juvenile prisoners to the Earth's surface to test whether it is habitable. For the 100 young people on Earth, however, the alien planet they have never known is a mysterious realm that can be magical one moment and lethal the next. With the survival of the human race entirely in their hands, the 100 must find a way to transcend their differences, unite and forge a new path on a wildly changed Earth that’s primitive, intense and teeming with the unknown…  The series is airing on CW in N. America. In the British Isles is will be shown on E4 (FreeView 28) sometime over the summer.

Neil Gaiman's prospective American Gods television series splits with HBO and is now with Freemantle. We first reported back in Spring 2012 that a television series of Neil's novel American Gods was being mooted. Then last autumn (2013) there were hints that HBO was not entirely comfortable with the project.  Now, Freemantle has acquired the rights and seems to be keen. This is what Neil says on his blog: "HBO had an option on American Gods for several years. It went through three different pilot scripts. HBO has a limited number of slots and, after a while, passed it to Cinemax, who are in the HBO family, who decided eventually they didn't want to do it, and the option expired, which unfortunately meant we couldn't work with Tom Hanks' production company Playtone any longer, as they are exclusive to HBO. However, Stefanie Berk, who had been one of the brightest stars at Playtone, had recently moved to Freemantle, and was as determined as she had been when she was at Playtone to bring American Gods to the screen. And I was impressed by her determination."

Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys to be a BBC mini-series. Gaiman's novel Anansi Boys is well known outside of Gaiman regulars as in 2006 it won the British Fantasy Award for 'Best Novel'. Neil has now announced that it is going to be made into a mini-series for the BBC by the Red Production Company (or RED). Good news indeed.

Heroes will be returning for a new mini-series in 2015. The 13-part series will be titled Heroes Reborn Tim Kring will once again direct but how many of the original cast will return is not yet clear. The first season in 2006 saw 14.5 million people tune in in the US and the show saw terrestrial BBC weekly repeats when screened in the British Isles and other parts of BBC's reach in western Europe in 2007: something unheard of back in 2007 in pre-FreeView years when not everyone had access to many channels and restricted to just 5: there was even more repeat coverage in 2008 with episodes screened four times over a three-month period on national television. In 2007 the series won an Eagle Award for best comics-based television or film. Season 1 was nominated for a Hugo (long-form) in 2008 following in-fandom debate. However in 2008 the audience reaction to season 2 was far from favourable and the series ended without a satisfying conclusion to the story arc. This reboot will be a chance to properly round the story arcs off.

Star Trek: Renegades is to be a new television movie. It is set some ten years after Voyager's return from the Delta Quadrant, and the Federation is in a crisis: the Federation's main suppliers of dilithium crystals are disappearing… Principal photography on this project was completed in October, 2013 and is currently in post-production looking towards a summer/autumnal 2014 release. The movie features: Walter Koenig (Admiral Chekov), Tim Russ (Tuvok) and Richard Herd (Admiral Paris).  See the trailer here.

Preacher to be a television series. It is, of course, based on the Preacher graphic novels by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Ennis' previous credits include: some of The Authority stories; Bloody Mary, and numerous Judge Dredd stories. including Judgement Day and Goodnight Kiss. Preacher follows Reverend Jesse Custer, a tough Texas preacher who has lost his faith, has learned that God has left Heaven and abandoned His responsibilities. Rev. Jesse Custer finds himself the only person capable of tracking God down, demanding answers, and making Him answer for His dereliction of duty. Accompanying Jesse on his journey is his former girlfriend and a friendly vampire who seems to prefer a pint in the pub to the blood of the innocent. On his tail is an immortal, unstoppable killing machine named the Saint of Killers.

12 Monkeys to be a television series on SyFy Based on the Terry Gilliam film, a dozen episodes (appropriately) of 12 Monkeys, written and executive produced by Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett, will air on SyFy. They are currently looking to a January 2015 screening.

Farscape television film in the offing. The word has it that for Jim Henson Productions has got Justin Monjo. He was one of the writers on Farscape (1998-2002) and the 2004 mini-series Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. At the very end, the protagonists, astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder) and peacekeeper Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black) had a child. In the film, it is revealed the boy had special powers which made him the target of the villainous aliens so his parents hide him on Earth. The new TV movies sees their son 19 years old, but his whereabouts have been discovered and so he rejoins his parents.

 

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

Summer 2014

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

Preparations for the 2014 Worldcon in London, Loncon 3, are going well. There are excellent guests and the committee have announced that Iain Banks (who for obvious reasons cannot be with us) will be remembered: the committee aim to make the event, as Iain mused, 'great fun and a total hoot'.  But first let's get the controversy out of the way, before the need-to-know news…
          It had been announced that the 'Four Poofs and a Piano' support act was to host the Hugo Awards ceremony: a support act known for enjoying, and recently creating, SF, and that has previously (successfully) hosted the Eisner awards among other SF community-related functions. However, some did not 'feel safe' and/or approved, and a Twitter storm ensued. The bottom line is that the 'Four Poofs and a Piano' support act will no longer now host the Hugo Awards ceremony.  All of which begs the question, what about '5 Poofs and 2 Pianos'? Take it away Tim Minchin.  …And if you missed the twitting storm then Mewsings has an account and Ansible has links in its March 2014 blinks.  One of Britain's national newspapers The Guardian also ran the story (The Guardian being Britain's quality left-of-centre broadsheet newspaper) and within three days there were over 400 comments. The Guardian also ran an item on author Neil Gaiman's reaction and the readers' comments to this echoed those previously given. These indicate just how non-fans perceive the fannish SF community and also that there are also SF fans who do not agree with the stridency – justifiable or not as it may be (not for us to say: their issue) – of fandom's PC brigade.  Controversy coverage now out of the way, on with the other stuff....
          Plans for the programme are progressing. The film programme is in the very capable hands of the Sci-Fi London film fest people and so should be good and certainly the best British Worldcon film programme since the 1987 and arguably the best Worldcon film programme since Melbourne, Australia, in 2010.  Other programme tracks are progressing too. Of interest to science fact and science fiction concateneers is the science programme that is in the competent hands of a research astronomer (who coincidentally had a Best of 'Futures' story selected elsewhere on this site), but one who will ensure that there will be plenty of non-astronomical science on his track too.
          One new highlight is that a play will be performed of a theatrical adaptation Tim Power's Anubis Gates (1983) novel during the convention. It is a complex fantasy with appeal to literary-style readers and involving time travel and steampunk elements. The novel won the Philip K. Dick Award. It has influences of Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor and to a lesser extent the works of Charles Dickens. The performance of the play at the convention will be a World premiere by Current Theatrics, a theatre company based in Las Vegas and New York.
          Another highlight will be the visual arts dimensions (in addition to the afore-mentioned film programme which is as said already likely to make this Worldcon the most cinematically literate since Australia in 2010). The 'Art Show' (exhibition) will be at the heart of this celebration and we understand it is on track to be the largest display of genre artwork – the majority for sale – ever seen in the British Isles. Over 2,000 individual pieces of art from nearly 100 artists are expected to be on show, with particular emphasis on the best of British illustration from the golden age of the 1970s and 1980s and on to the present day. For fans, this will be a unique opportunity to meet the artists who shaped the look of science fiction in this distinctive period of British SF illustration. A 96-page full-colour Artist Showcase publication will also available for purchase by members. In addition to art Guest of Honour Chris Foss, artists already confirmed for the Show include Chris Achilleos, Jim Burns, Steve Crisp, Galen Dara, Fred Gambino, John Harris, Chris Moore, Anne Stokes, Anne Sudworth, and Margaret Walty.
          As for the overall programme, we understand that an effort will be made to ensure that last-minute programme changes will be kept to a minimum (a bugbear of recent British Worldcons). We also understand that the organisers are keen to have as diverse and equal-opportunity cadre of programme participants as possible. This means that an effort is being made to ensure gender equality and that there is a good showing from non-Anglophone nations. So if you are from mainland Europe or any other non-English speaking nation (but who can speak English) then please do e-mail the organisers volunteering for the programme stating your expertise (even if only an expertise in SF (be it books, films, TV or fandom) in your own nation). Please do this soon, before June.
          Worldcon merchandise hot tip. One problem both fans and dealers have at the convention is that fans in the dealers hall may ask after a certain product from a stall-holder. Here more often than not (stochiometry) the reply is 'oh, not here, I have plenty back at the shop… You see the problem is that dealers do not have psionic precog faculties. What to do? Well the answer is to compile a shopping list, especially for products from, authors published, etc., overseas. Then identify the appropriate dealer attending the Worldcon and e-mailing them asking if they have what you want in stock and would bring it to the Worldcon for you to collect. The nice folk organising the Worldcon have a list of dealers who have booked a table at the Worldcon on their website with a hyperlink to the dealers' website.  So compile your shopping list and get e-mailing.  (And here we'd gently remind you that Porcupine Books will be carrying paper copies of the Eurocon ESFS commended Essential SF but these have been known to run out at past conventions so if you want one do ask Porcupine – brian [at] porcupine.demon.co.uk – to bring and reserve one for you. The guide is a cross-referenced mini-encyclopaedia with appendix checklists of – in essence as the algorithm is complex – SF works voted for by popular (not juried) awards, large surveys and works that have enjoyed being continually in print for over 50 years. Covers films, books and television.)
          Finally, Progress Report 2 came out in January with details of hotel booking and Hugo nomination. Progress Report 3 should be out after Easter with Hugo nominations (the short list) and the Hugo voting form.  The attendance rates for the convention for those not then yet registered went up in March.  Registration is going very well and, as mentioned last season, it may be that if they top somewhere around 7,000 that there will be a membership cap (the convention will be then closed to new registrants). So the message clearly is that if you have not yet registered then for goodness sake do so now: this applies doubly for visitors to the London area needing accommodation. We've been banging on plugging the London Worldcon since before it won the bid, so if you end up leaving it too late you only have yourself to blame. The bottom line is that it looks like being a brilliant bash.
          +++ Hugo-winning US author John Scalzi calls for Loncon and other Worldcons to change the timing of the Hugo nomination announcements. See the item earlier in People, Author, Scientist & artist news. +++ STOP PRESS (Update 6th May 2014) over 7,300 have registered of which over 5,200 have attending memberships. Given that some of the non-attending will convert, and given the carrying capacity of parts of the venue, the likelihood that the convention will cap memberships is increasing. +++ Progress Report 3 (PR3) is now out with an interesting interview with publisher maestro GoH Malcom Edwards and a GoH Bryan Talbot comic strip with SF personalities of the 1990s revealled. Plus other news including if you want a paper copy of PR4 you have to let the convention know online and not forgetting the Hugo Award short-list voting form. Do vote. Do vote all short-list nominations you like in order and then leave the remaining ones (if any) you do not like blank (otherwise they may well be counted towards a win). There is also the 2016 site selection form with just Bejiing (China) and Kansas (USA) to choose between (and strangely China has not taken out an advert in PR3 to promote themeselves which, given their lateness coming to the race does suggest that they are unlikely to win unless something spectacular happens). It also looks as if there will be quite a few exhibits and displays (which is a good job as they have much exhibition space to fill). All in all it is quite positive, though numbers do threaten that if not careful it will be a bit of a bun fight.

The 2014 Worldcon venue.  See Peter's previous article on the convention's London ExCel venue.

Other things to do in London if hanging around before or after the Worldcon were covered last season. If you want ideas for things to do in central London then check out the suggestions we gave for the 2010 Euroconference (though obviously ignore the London arrival travel guidance as the venue was different to the one we now have for the 2014 Worldcon). This guidance includes: 'Travel within London', 'Dos and Do nots in London,' and some 'central London tourism suggestions'.

Arrival travel tips for non-British visitors to Worldcon.  Visitors will be booking their air tickets about now (post-Easter) to take advantage of any early-booking discounts. So to help you (and if you Tweet others the beginning paragraph link you'll be helping others) here is some travel advice from London locals on our team:-

          Intercontinental visitors. The easiest airport for intercontinental visitors is London Heathrow (LHR): Gatwick and Stansted involve an additional rail journey to London (cost and changing hassle) and then London transport. Try to ensure that your plane arrives at Heathrow before 19.00 in the evening to allow for customs and immigration and the journey to the Worldcon which will take well over an hour. Arriving at Heathrow, head for the underground (tube/metro) rail and buy an off-peak (after 09:30am) one-day travel card for zones 1-6 (£8.90p 2014 price): peak time one-day travel cards (before 09:30am) are over 50% more expensive but this may well be nothing compared to the saving you will make if you come on a red-eye flight arriving long before 09.30am.  Having got to the underground (tube/metro) get the underground to South Kensington (all underground trains from Heathrow go via South Kensington so you can't go wrong) and then change at South Kensington (go upstairs) to the eastbound Circle and District Lines (either line will do) and go to Tower Hill. Get off and it is a less than 100 yards/metres walk to Tower Gateway. It is signposted but ask a station member of staff if in doubt.  Then get the DLR (District Light Railway). Ideally you want a train to Beckton and get off either at Custom House ExCel or Prince Regent depending where your hotel is (the convention itself is at Prince Regent). However, due to the frequency of direct trains to Beckton you may want to go to Canning Town and change for the Beckton line. You can do it all from Heathrow on the same Travel Card ticket which covers travel on all underground, rail within these 1-6 London zones, and DLR.  When arriving in London then try to avoid landing between 14.00 and 16.00 as that will mean you'll hit London in the 16.30-18.30 rush hour.

          Flying from other parts of Britain and/or western Europe. The easiest airport here is London City airport (IATA code: LCY) which is less than half a mile from the ExCel and the Worldcon (a ten-minute bus ride) and both the airport and Worldcon and its hotels are all in Travel Card zone 3. You can use the DLR (and so keep dry if it is raining) but this involves going around a 'U' turn. You first need to go to Canning Town (3 stops) and then change to the Beckton Line (which takes you back but the other side of the dock) to get off at Custom House (2nd stop from Canning Town) or Prince Regent (3rd stop). (Conversely, the bus goes over a road bridge across the top of the 'U'.)  The DLR (District Light Railway) should take under half an hour even allowing for a wait changing at Canning Town. If there are three or more of you, and your luggage will fit, then you might want to get a London black cab: make sure that the fare meter is running when you set off (which is the law); most black cabs are honest but some have been known to 'forget' to switch the meter on for short journeys so that they then have to 'guess' the price for you... Black cabs also tend to like a 10% tip but they give a nice ride. (Best avoid cabs that are not black cabs.) If possible try to avoid arriving 16.00 – 18.00 as you'll hit the evening rush hour but this is far less of a problem for you at London City airport compared to the others.

          And keep your eye out near the ticket area of the major underground rail stations (or ask if they have one) for a small copy of the London Underground (tube map). These also include the DLR (district light rail) lines you will use to get to the Worldcon venue.

          Arriving early and wanting something to eat.  The exhibition centre adjoining the conference centre should have coffee and snack bars open at the conference centre (Prince Regent) end during the Worldcon. If there is an event on in the Exhibition centre and access is allowed (sometimes it is not) then you will have no problem arriving early and getting something to eat as you should find a bistro or two open. Alternatively, if not much is happening at the Exhibition and Conference centres, Exhibition eating places may be largely closed. Your hotel (other than the cheapest) near Prince Regent will obviously have a restaurant and there are restaurant bars by the hotel next to the conference centre. If you are staying at the Custom House end then again the hotels with more stars have restaurant bars, but in addition at the Custom House end (either one stop on the DLR or a 10 minute walk from Prince Regent) there are a couple of Chinese as well as a couple of Indian restaurants.  [Warning, do not be tempted by the lights to the eating places across the water (accessed by the high pedestrian bridge near Custom House). There is one that locals have warned a couple of us off (summer 2013) for reasons we'd rather not explain publicly, but you could chance it solely for the view back of the conference centre. If you are adventurous going for a walk over there and carry on away from the conference dock, then the next water inlet off the Thames sees the Concatenation yacht moored.  OK, it's not Concatenation's (though we do undertake some press liaison work for its crew) but our webmaster does have a part-ownership share in it. And, OK, it is not a yacht: it’s an old Thames river tug…! Perhaps we should not have mentioned this… We did briefly consider offering fans at the Worldcon short trips on the Thames (the Worldcon is being held in a dock) but, after a nanosecond's thought, decided that this would keep us away from the Worldcon which we want to enjoy too.]

If you feel the above Worldcon travel guidance is helpful and you are on Twitter (and you have a few SF fan Twitter followers) then do please consider re-Tweeting this here so that others can benefit. The Tweet gives a link to the top of the above 'Arrival tips' article.

Permanent link
STOP PRESS (July 2014) Cash no longer accepted on London busses! This development has only just taken place the month before the Worldcon.  This means that to travel on busses your options are one-day or weekly travel cards (available from rail and underground/metro stations) or Oyster cards.  A one-day zone 1-6 zone (that covers Heathrow and inner zones including central London and the Worldcon venue) off-peak (bought after 9.30am) travel card currently (2014) costs £8.90p (US$15) and gets you unlimited travel for the day on busses, trains, underground/metro and DLR (district light rail that serves the Worldcon venue). A seven day travel card (including peak times but _just_ for central zones 1-3 (central London and Worldcon venue (but not Heathrow airport and rest of London)) costs £36.80p.  The other option is the Oyster card which many Londoners love, and a few hate. These can be bought at major stations (not some minor ones). There is a capital charge of around £5 for the physical card itself which then needs money loaded onto it. The advantages of the Oyster are that if you plan to travel fewer than 6 trips a day for more than a couple of days then the Oyster will be cheaper. Remember that a journey from the Worldcon to the centre of London (to take one likely example you may use) will involve at least a DLR trip and then an underground/metro trip there and then the same back (four trips) plus whatever journeying you do about the town centre. So you will quite easily rack up six trips a day on a tourist day and so you may want the travel card option. (You just show your travel card to bus drivers and at station barriers feed the ticket in and it will come out again in a slot above having been scanned and opening the barrier for you. If not making six trips a day, and money is a great concern, then go for the Oyster.  The reasons why some Londoners don't like Oysters are that if you don't keep them firmly topped up you cannot tell (unless a transport staff member scans to read it for you) how low you are on credit at which point it ceases to work, and another reason is that if you forget to scan at a journey's start or end (or the scan does not register) and you get checked by a roving inspector, then you might get fined. Finally, if the Worldcon is a very rare visit for you to London, then any unused Oyster credit at the end of your visit is simply wasted money.  The Loncon Worldcon recommendation is for Oyster. (Possibly because it is the simplest to explain in the small space afforded in their Progress Report 4 and broadly covers all options.) However our Concatenation advice is to consider both the Oyster and travel card options as both have their pros and cons depending on your plans.  One thing. Certainly if you cannot face the 15 minute walk between some of the hotels at Prince Regent (the Worldcon conference venue) and Prince Regent (one stop away on the DLR and where the Novotel, Ibis, Ibis Styles, and Crowne Plaza hotels are sited, and which by the time you wait for a DLR train will take longer than walking) then get an Oyster. Alternatively, if you want that walk's exercise or are staying at the hotels at Prince Regent and only plan a few days before or after the convention being a roving tourist, then consider an off-peak (bought after 9.30am) one-day travel card just for those tourist days. (Cheaper, doesn't run out of credit, doesn't waste money with unused credit [you get unlimited free travel for the day], doesn't fall foul of failed scans being picked up by roving inspectors and your getting fined.)  Sorry if this all seems a little confusing.

Loncon3, the 2014 Worldcon, falls on Earth Overshoot Day! Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity exhausts nature’s budget for the year. The remainder of the year the human global system operates in overdraft mode maintaining our ecological deficit by drawing down local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Last year (2013) Earth Overshoot Day came on 20th August, which as it happened was during the International Ecology Congress (INTECOL) that is held every four years in a different country and so is a kind of Olympics for ecological scientists. And of 2014 Worldcon relevance the 2013 INTECOL itself was held at the London ExCel, the same venue as the Loncon3 Worldcon.  However, the thing is that such is humanity's unsustainable socio-economic growth, Earth Overshoot Day has taken place roughly three days earlier each year the past decade. This means that this year (2014) it will be taking place during the Worldcon. Something to think about while sipping your chardonnay prior to the Hugo celebrations.

Concatenation supports the London in 2014 Worldcon.
We understand it to be a capital adventure, what ho...

See the 2014 promotional video below of a science fictional London...

Awesome, isn’t it.

See also the short promotional video below

The 2015 Worldcon will be held in Sasquan, Spokane, (USA). We've heard no news further to last autumn's coverage.

Future Worldcon bids. As most of you know (so this is for those that don't) which city each Worldcon is held is determined by a vote of those attending the Worldcon two years earlier. This means that this year the 2014 Worldcon in London will be voting for site selection for 2016. In addition, bids to potentially run the Worldcon further ahead (more than two years hence) often announce themselves well in advance to demonstrate how organised they are and to place a marker so that potential rival bids can choose another year.  (This whole Worldcon bidding mechanism has some benefits and it may be that the Eurocon could learn some things from it even if the Eurocon ended up doing matters a little differently. Anyway, we digress.)  The following few items relate to future Worldcon bids…

Worldcon bids for 2016 currently are:-
          Kansas City (USA)
          Beijing (China)
Kansas is the firm favourite (at the time of posting [Easter]). Beijing is a late bid that only submitted its papers (intention to bid and a letter from the venue confirming a provisional booking) shortly before the Spring deadline. If Beijing does have anything going for it then it is its novelty value: a Worldcon has yet to be held in China. However the bid's presentation so far leaves a little to be desired and information on the bid is thin. Having said that, Kansas should not take matters lightly: the Chinese might rally over the summer months. And so this year's site selection (the results of which will be announced at the London Worldcon) could be interesting. As much depends on what both bids do to promote themselves before the London Worldcon as it does on what they do at the London Worldcon.

Worldcon bids for 2017 currently are:-
          Nippon (Japan)
          Montreal (Canada)
          Helsinki (Finland)
          Washington D.C. (USA)
The 2017 site selection (which will actually be decided at the 2015 Worldcon). Strangely much depends on whether China wins in 2016. The thing is that the Worldcon is dominated by those from N. America and it is very rare (never so far) for two Worldcons in a row to be held outside of N. America. So if this pattern continues and China wins then it is unlikely than either Japan or Finland will win. On the other hand if the US bid for Kansas wins in 2016 then Japan and Finland are in with a chance in 2017. Japan ran a fairly successful Worldcon (actually a good one considering it was their first) in 2007Montreal also held a successful Worldcon in 2009.  The outsider is Helsinki. The Finns do run an excellent national convention (natcon) and the Scandinavians have generally run good Eurocons a couple of times the past decade which, though smaller than the Worldcon, do arguably demonstrate that they have potential. The thinking in some (not all) conrunning quarters is that perhaps the Finns should bid for a Eurocon and put on a big show to demonstrate that they can do a Worldcon. Either way the 2017 site selection will be as interesting as 2016 promises to be.

Worldcon bids for 2018 currently are:-
          New Orleans (USA)
          San Jose (USA)
Two US bids currently, so at the moment it looks a sure cert for the US. New Orleans has venued a Worldcon before in 1988 and San Jose in 2002. Local (N. American) fan perceptions will be the deciding factor on this one. However a US Worldcon this year will lend perceptual credence to 2019 being held outside of N. America.

Worldcon bids for 2019 currently are:-
          Dublin (Republic of Ireland)
          France (er… France)
Two very interesting bids in that neither Ireland nor France have held a Worldcon before.
          Ireland has a three decade history of running small national conventions with a good number of local authors rubbing shoulders with a few British writers. They have held a Eurocon before in 1997 (that sadly saw a committee meltdown and almost zero continental European SF content) and will be holding another one this year after the 2014 London Worldcon. This 2014 Eurocon could so easily have been a post-Worldcon relaxacon, it being held the weekend immediately after the Worldcon. However current plans reveal that there will be some mainland European SF content even if this will be a minority proportion of the programme, so it will be certainly a step up from 1997: for which thanks to Romania presenting – albeit weakly – a rival Eurocon bid at the 2012 site selection for 2014 and this arguably focussed Irish minds a little. The question is can they make the leap to running a Worldcon? Well the Brits are just across the water and so they could have help. This could be a solid bid.
          France is currently the weaker bid (at the moment they do not even have a website but then 2019 is a long way off and so there is plenty of time for the bid to strengthen). France has held two Eurocons before in 1974 and 1990. It does have an annual, single programme stream natcon which is small with around just a hundred or so attending. But it also has the long-running SF Utopiales (think a more literate and cinematically literate Dragoncon or Nine Worlds) with purportedly some 40,000 attending: though as tickets are sold largely on a per programme item basis (few register for the whole thing) allowing for duplication this number could be reduced by a third (the Utopiales press liaison is very basic and aimed solely at French press). Nonetheless France has experience of Worldcon-scale events albeit this experience spread in different places within the French SF community that rarely come together. If they can pull a credible bid together, and if they can do this without the Brits, then this could be one of the most exciting northern hemisphere Worldcons of the decade. However, there are a lot of 'ifs' in the equation. Still…
          As said in the previous item, a US Worldcon in 2018 will lend perceptual credence to 2019 being held outside of N. America. Of course, don't be surprised if before 2017 a rival US bid forms for 2019.

New Zealand is the only Worldcon bid currently slated for 2020. Now, New Zealand has a very small SF community: it is a very small nation, but it is an SF community that proportionally punches decidedly above its weight.  Some of you may recall Concatenation had behind the scenes been encouraging for NZ to hold their natcon next to the 2010 Australian Worldcon and this they did with Au Contraire; a lively, small convention that turned out to be far better organised than the larger Worldcon that year.  Furthermore New Zealand is wonderful to visit and Wellintgon offered a lot in 2010. At the moment (Easter 2014) the New Zealand bid team is doing a feasibility study, and so we should know during this summer's Worldcon whether NZ 2020 is a go. Fingers crossed.

 

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

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

 

Meanwhile over in Europe…

Dublin Eurocon attracting members – booking accommodation now recommended. Further to last season's news that the hotel information was out we now understand that some hotels are already booked out! This includes the Shamrokon block booking in The Double Tree by Hilton, Dublin Burlington Road. While the organisers are seeing if more rooms to those that had been reserved for those attending the convention can be made available, you can be sure that there will not be many of these so that by the time you read this (if you have not already reserved your accommodation) you will have to use one of the overflow hotels. There are a number of alternative options very close by including The Mespil Hotel, The Ballsbridge Inn and more besides. If hotels are not for you, then there are Bed & Breakfasts (B&B's), hostels and apartments nearby. Check out the Dublin Eurocon website for more information. (If you are reading this in 2014 then the web address for this is in our natcon diary listing for the year.
          As you will gather from the hotel, the convention's membership figures are healthy. As of mid-April some 728 had registered (of which 88 are currently supportimg members but a good proportion of those are likely to convert to attending members). The largest nationality registered is the USA with 250. This compares with just 148 locals from the Republic of Ireland. Brits account for 95, and the good news is that there are 181 from mainland continental Europe: there are even 30 from Australasia. With a following wind it is just possible that registration will reach nearly a thousand which is quite respectable for a smaller Eurocon. The mainland continental European contingent is a substantial increase on both the proportion and number from mainland Europe that attended the previous Irish Eurocon in 1997.
          The programme is slowly taking shape. Many have volunteered their time and expertise and it looks like there will be something for everyone. Events will start around 12:00 on Friday 22nd, with the official Opening Ceremony at 18:00 that evening. The Programme will run (with a few breaks for sleeping and the like, maybe) until Sunday at 18:00 with the Closing Ceremony. Over the three days there will be interviews with the Guests of Honour, readings, discussions on Urban Fantasy, Young Adult literature, Horror, Comics, Steampunk, Alt History, and hopefully even a few events taken from '#panelswedontsee' on Twitter.
          One highlight will be the Tantalus Ireland Theatre Company performing an original piece. 2014 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of J. Sheridan Le Fanu and as part of the Le Fanu 200 celebrations there will be panel discussions, readings and talks about this Irish master of gothic horror.
          Finally, and importantly, as common with a number of Eurocons Irish there will be a gathering a day early with a meet up social in the hotel bar and Shamrokon will be no different. If you are in Dublin on Thursday 21st August make a point of an early start to the con with a few drinks and a chat. Also as common at a number of Eurocons there will be a gathering in Dublin city centre on Monday 25th to round of a day of visitors' tourism and to make sure the Dog is well and truly Dead.

Give the new European SF Society officers a chance.  The European SF Society oversees the organisation of the annual Eurocons.  Other than welcome website expansion at the turn of the millennium (thank you Roberto) and availability of heritage information at business meetings (thank you Bridget), the past decade has seen little progress on ESFS governance as well as some problems both of which have resulted in Eurocons of highly variable quality.  Then at last year's Eurocon at Kiev, with the exception of one (Bridget), all the officers were replaced.  The new team has already given the ESFS website a facelift. But their first real challenge will come with this year's Eurocon in Dublin and its ESFS business meeting there.  ESFS has some major challenges.  The quality of bids to hold future Eurocons is highly variable and some years sees voting akin to that of the Eurovision Song Contest so that sometimes substantially well-prepared bids lose out to weaker bids for jingoistic patriotic reasons or because the bidders exaggerate what they can deliver without providing evidence and so fool those voting. (Don't worry, that did not happen when Dublin won the bid to run this year's event: Dublin won fair and square.)  What this means is that the Eurocons have not been able to build up a track record of running solid, well-organised (European as opposed to single-nation focussed) conventions. So Eurocon bid management needs to be reformed with some urgency.  Another area is that ESFS does not currently draw upon the small community of regulars who typically attend a Eurocon every two or three years and so have experience of a number of Eurocons. (Worldcon does this through SMOFdom and there could be a way to do something functionally similar even if in practice it was a little different.)  Whatever happens the ESFS officers cannot be expected to make radical changes their first year. However, as once decided on radical changes still take two years (because the subsequent Eurocon has to ratify changes and then another year to effect the first business meeting since the idea was first mooted), so the new officers could see their three-year term quickly pass.  And so this then is a two-fold appeal to all who will attend this year's ESFS business meeting at the Dublin Eurocon.  First, could those who have an interest in Eurocon matters take time to share their views, concerns, hopes and aspirations for Eurocon with the new ESFS officers at both this year's London Worldcon (if not before – why not send them an e-mail today) as well as this year's Dublin Eurocon. This would be so valuable and a way for you to have your say. The alternative is that they operate in a vacuum,  Second, and perhaps this should not need saying, but it is as important, could past ESFS officers bear in mind the political custom for Presidents and Prime Ministers not to interfere with the new regime. This time is the time of the new officers and they need to be given the space to do their own thing. This is the time for the old officers to relax, enjoy reflecting on their past successes, and staying in the bar away from the business meetings.

Bids for the 2016 Eurocon are being sought. There is currently one bid marker down for 2016 and that is for Antwerp. This could be a potentially worthy bid, but as the team is small and Antwerp has never held a Eurocon before so understandably things are a little up in the air. And so if your country has a convention running team that occasionally runs your nation's natcon and they fancy a convention with guests and most programme items with participants from a range of European countries, then do please consider presenting a bid at the site selection meeting in Dublin this August. It would be good if Antwerp had some competition so they do not feel lonely. For a strong bid, all you really need is a provisional venue booking letter (a letter of intent or memorandum of understanding from the venue) in a city that has an international airport, some information on the type of convention you have organised in the past and what you plan, and indications that you have the support of your nation's SF community. If you are European, even if you are not a conrunner, do spread this invitation to your country's conrunner community. Please e-mail the ESFS officers.  Equally, it would be rather good if Antwerp goes for it and wins as it has been ages (1978) since Belgium ran a Eurocon.

Currently there is one marker bid down for the 2017 Eurocon and that is Germany. Now the Germans made a fair fist of the 1999 Eurocon in Dortmund with the only (good) problem of their being too many GoHs given that a couple of the sponsors never came through: but that was their problem and we enjoyed ourselves! Germany has also run a Eurocon in 1992. It would be a tad jolly to see a German Eurocon in the 2010s.

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

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

 

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

Summer 2014

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

Poland's 15th Pyrkon 2014 saw a reported attendance of nearly 25,000! Held in Poznan, this three-day event in terms of size rivals France's SF Utopiales and is Poland's equivalent of the US Comicon. By all accounts it was largely a success, and here note the 'largely' for that is where the problems lay. Now, if you have been following our coverage of Poland's Pyrkon in recent years you will have noticed that this year's event was double the size of last year's event which in turn was more than double that of the previous year's event. Pyrkon is growing. Bullets wont stop it... As usual the event was dominated by fantasy, media (sci fi), modeller, cos play and gaming fans. But there was a literary dimension too. Problems came with the sheer size of it all and that some items (including some of the book related programme items) were far more popular than the organisers thought and indeed attracted far too big an audience for the rooms and halls in which they were held: some programme participants even had difficulty getting into the room where their item was to be held! The winners were clearly the dealers and here those selling food and drink did extremely well as everyone needs to eat: some caterers were seen having to use a trolly to transport away their day's takings.  Oh, and while British Eastercons and US Worldcons may be ageing, very little sign of greying fandom at Pyrkon and reasonable gender diversity too. +++ Here is a short Youtube video vox pop of Pyrkon. It will give you a sense of the event's atmosphere.

Detcon – the 2014 NASFic – has a new GoH: Jon Davis. As previously reported Detcon is the 2014 NASFic. Jon Davis is a video game programmer currently working with Respawn Entertainment as a member of the team that is bringing out the forthcoming game Titanfall. He has previously contributed to games such as EverQuest 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 and Modern Warfare 2.

Spain's Celsius 232 convention will run for a third time. The third convention in the series will take place 30th July to 2nd August in Avilés, Asturias. Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson and Tim Powers will be among the main guests. Apparently Joe Abercrombie, who was in Avilés in 2013, wants to repeat his previous experience with the convention but this has (Easter 2014) yet to be confirmed.  Given the organisation of Spain's national convention has in recent years been a bit touch-and-go, it is good to see new conrunning experience. If they continue perhaps Celsius 232 might run a Hispacon and, if they can plan two-and-a-half years ahead (so as to bid), could we hope for Spain running its first Eurocon?

The Nature 'Future's micro-story (200 characters or less) results have been announced. As you know we have a relationship with Nature and have been pleased to post what we consider the best four or five of the 51 'Futures' stories each year. At the start of this year (2014), Futures ran a competition challenging readers to write a story in just 200 characters. And now the results are in. The first prize went to Catherine Rastovski, who won a year’s subscription to Nature. The winning entry was:-

I pass your empty chair every day. Across the room sits the computer, your voice, your face locked inside. I ache to bring you to life, but fear keeps me in my chair. What if you say no?

Our favourite runner up is:-

off that switch, Professor! Your time machine can’t travel back in time past the moment of its own creation and instead will trap the Universe in an endlessly recursive time-like loop! Take your hands
By Judith Reeves-Stevens.

Congratulations to all, and indeed well done all who submitted.

 

The Electronic APA has had its 10th anniversarry. The idea of an Amateur Press Association (APA) for amateur writers and publishers, began in the US and the UK in the late 19th Century. APAs spread to science fiction fandom in the 1930's with Fantasy APA in 1937, soon followed by others – and H. P. Lovecraft had already been heavily involved in the old APA world. The idea originally was simply to produce amateur publications and send copies to a central Official Editor (OE), who collates them into mailings for all members and include comments on previous editions from other contributors. Early APAs can therefore be considered as an early very slow and manual form on paper of what is now done in communal blogs and comments on the internet … Nowadays, aside from communal blogs, more formal APAs can be done through the net itself. EAPA (Electronic APA) was possibly first (at least in fandom) a decade ago. Its 120th monthly (= 10 years) mailing is coming up in April 2014. But it may be the last!  The OE has to step down for private reasons and membership has dropped. In the last mailings the few remaining members have discussed what to do. No one has yet been willing to take over as OE and more members are desperately needed. If you are interested you can study the 'open mailings' of EAPA here: www.efanzines.com/eapa/.  If you want to contribute an article on SF and/or fandom, or a short story, then check the site out and if it is still going after April (when we post this seasonal news page) do submit it.

Steampunk outing to shopping centre (mall) cut short by security guards over code of conduct. When a score of US steampunk fans dress up to go to their Oceanside, San Diego shopping centre for a ride on its Victorian carousel, what could go wrong? Answer, they get ejected by security guards on grounds of failing to comply with the shopping centre's code-of-conduct policy that included 'wearing apparel or gesturing in a manner which is likely to provoke a disturbance or embroil other groups or the general public in open conflict' and “'photography or videotaping any individual or entity on the Center’s property without prior consent of the subject or Center management': though they did give themselves permission to take pictures of themselves. The incident was covered on ABC Channel 10 local news and the Union-Tribune among other media.  Fans breaking a code of conduct policy! Who would have thunk it.

 

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

 

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

Summer 2014

NET WATCH

Dutch SF writers' blog created. A Dutch-speaking speculative fiction writers who publish in English website has been created, There are already five writers on the site. Soon there will be many more. See www.adutchtreat.nl.

The British government is trying to unblock legal and reasonable websites it previously asked ISP (internet service providers) to filter. You may recall that last season we reported on heavy filtering following the Prime Minister's call to prevent children having access to pornography. Internet Service Providers had been implementing these 'filters' but took out sites which youngster should have access to. The ISP O2 has been blocking the Childline (child abuse help site) and Refuge, while BT have been blocking lesbian and gay content. Many SF sites have also been included. In December the SF Encyclopaedia was found to be blocked by anyone activating the O2 parental filter as indeed was SF2 Concatenation. Some SF on-line book dealers have been outraged that they have been blocked while Amazon.co.uk has not!  So now the government is drawing up a list of sites inadvertently blocked by the filters it asked internet service providers (ISPs) to implement. Many sites on the list are run by charities that aim to educate children and others about health, sex education and drugs issues. The 'white list' will be used to ensure the sites are not immediately blocked. "'Research' suggests the amount of inadvertent blocking is low," said David Miles, who chairs the working group on over-blocking for the government's UK Council for Child Internet Safety, which goes to show how much he knows. Many legal sites are being completely blocked and some partially blocked (easily unblocked by parents) and these very many sites include SF sites. This is not a trivial issue that non-parents may escape. These filters are not just used by parents; they are used in schools, universities, public libraries and increasingly by companies providing wi-fi in public areas. And of SFnal note, one Hugo Award-winning and Google Page Rank 5 website is currently intermittently blocked for weeks at a time by the filter used by educational establishments and public libraries (among others) in the London area.  Well, what would you expect 30 years after 1984?

The public worldwide web had its 25th anniversary, or so they say... Berners-Lee wrote his initial proposal 25 years ago in March 1989, and in 1990, with the help of Robert Cailliau (with whom he shared the 1995 ACM Software System Award). The first website built was at CERN within the border of France,[29] and was first put online on 6 August 1991.
          Meanwhile we ask you to spare a thought for the billions who not only are not connected to the internet at home, and whose homes have no grid electricity. 25% of the population of India – a nation with a space programme – do not have home access to grid electricity let alone the internet. In Latin America the figure is 5% and the Middle East 9%.  But it is Africa where 57% of the population live in homes without grid electricity, let alone internet access, where the catch-up really needs to take place (Data IEA World Energy Outlook 2013).  So if you are running a convention and thinking of going all internet, remember these folk. Also bear in mind the many in Britain, elsewhere in Europe and N. America who – though having internet access at cyber cafes (and unofficially for private use at work) – do not have personal internet access at home! Not everyone is as privileged in fandom to have personal, private access to the internet.  Here endeth our 25th www anniversary thought of the quarter century.

Twitter redesign to look life Facebook hated by users. A new-look Twitter is being rolled out. The redesign was available to a small group of users initially but extended to more in the weeks following Easter. The initial reaction on Twitter to those exposed to the redesign was positively negative! The thing is that Twitter's unique selling point (USP) is its brevity and simplicity.

An attempt to block Twitter in Turkey has been made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Recep Tayyip Erdogan was annoyed with Twitter because many were using it voicing their concerns as to the politician's alleged corruption. Meanwhile President Abdullah Gul has challenged a ban on Twitter in Turkey and its citizen's using Twitter soon found a backdoor to continue Tweeting: Twitter's DNS details have even been graffiti-ed onto walls to spread news of how to hack. Politicians in other countries have condemned the block. "I don't care what the international community says at all. Everyone will see the power of the Turkish Republic," said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Meanwhile '#twitterisblockedinturkey' was trending around the world. There are about 10 million Twitter users across Turkey.  +++ In 2010, the country lifted its ban on YouTube - two years after it blocked access to the website because of videos considered insulting to the country's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

Microsoft has ended its support for Windows XP. Support ended on 8th April. 20-25% of all users have stuck with XP despite the fact that there have been three major releases of Windows since its debut in 2001: it is reliable and not everyone wants to buy a new computer every five years. The British government has a £5.5m contract for extended support. Likewise the Netherlands government has signed a multi-million euro contract for support for the 40,000 or so PCs running XP used by the nation's civil servants.

Yahoo hacked again with people's e-mails accessed. A Yahoo hack has happened previously with some 20 million Japanese customers affected losing passwords. This time it affects Yahoo mail customers in the West. Yahoo have not revealed how many of its e-mail customers were affected but have said that e-mail addresses and usernames were taken from the e-mails in the folders of those of its customers hacked. The hack was possible, Yahoo say, due to its own usernames and passwords for accounts being likely collected from a database owned by a third-party that had been compromised: though who and for what purpose Yahoo had presumably given this third-party its customers' data is a moot point (but then you know that if you give any big company and of your data [filling in your e-mail address or whatever] then they will most likely share it with their business partners [just read their so-called 'privacy' policies]). However, we do know that enough of its customers were affected to warrant resetting passwords on those it identified as affected accounts and has implemented an extra verification step when users sign in. Customers were advised to change their passwords when prompted and reminded to pick new passwords on a regular basis. Meanwhile Yahoo's revenue has been falling for a year now.  +++ See the next item…

Heartbleed Bug: Public urged to reset all passwords OpenSSL is a product used to safeguard data and it is revealed that it can be compromised to allow eavesdropping. If an organisation employs OpenSSL or similar security software, users see a padlock icon in their web browser. Google Security and Codenomicon revealed in April that a flaw had existed in the software for more than two years that could be used to expose the secret keys that identify service providers employing OpenSSL. Google warned a select number of organisations about the issue before making it public, so they could update their equipment to a new version of OpenSSL released at the start of the week. However, it appears that Yahoo was not included on this list and tech site Cnet has reported that some people were able to obtain usernames and passwords from the company before it was able to apply the fix. Many companies use OpenSSL and if you do a lot of online money transferences, shopping, banking and so forth you are strongly advised to change your passwords.

20 million South Koreans have had their credit scores, names and social security numbers hacked. An IT worker contracted to the Korea Credit Bureau copied the data and sold it to a marketing firm. The contractor simply copied the data to a USB memory stick. Both he and those at the marketing firm were arrested. The Financial Services Commission, Korea's national financial regulator, said: "The credit card firms will cover any financial losses caused to their customers due to the latest accident."

16 million German e-mail users have had their passwords and other details stolen. To put this in perspective, that's a fifth of the population. The nation's security agency, the Federal Office for Security, revealed in January (2014) the theft which was carried out by criminals infecting computers with a virus.

British Telecom (BT) being investigated for leaks of customers passwords and details. The investigation is being conducted by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), Britain's data protection ombudsman. The problem seems to be relating to a BT system switchover and came to light due to a whistleblower.

Linked-In users e-mails revealed by browser add-on. 'Sell Hack' is available as a free add-on to the Chrome browser that will pop up a "hack in" button on LinkedIn profiles. Users can then find the e-mail address associated with the account even if they are not connected! Meanwhile Linked-In is taking legal action.

 

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

Summer 2014

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released it second Working Group (WG II) 'Summary for Policy Makers' for its fifth assessment report (AR5). WGII deals with climate impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. (The WGI report published in the autumn dealt with the underpinning science of climate change.) The WGII impacts report pulls no punches concluding that impacts will be severe: expect agricultural production impacts and water shortages. The previous AR4 (2007) IPCC Assessment three WG reports together gave the impression that with reduction in greenhouse emissions (mitigation) we could avert serious impacts. Conversely, the new (2013/4) AR5 WGI & WGII reports seem to be pointing us in the direction of having to adapt to some serious impacts.  Meanwhile, AR5's WGIII report on mitigation came out in April. It concluded that the emission reduction targets for 2020 agreed at the 2010 climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, will not by themselves restrict warming to just 2'C: further reductions beyond then will be necessary. (Actually this was even recognised back at the time of the Cancun summit.) At current (2013) rates of emissions enough greenhouse gas will have been added to the atmosphere by 2050 to take the Earth over this 2'C limit!  +++  And if perchance you happen to be studying a geography, environmental science, geology, biology and even a social science degree that has a climate change module, or you are a really avid reader on New Scientist, then don't forget our Jonathan has Climate Change: Biological & Human Aspects (2013) out from Cambridge University Press which has had embarrassingly glowing reviews in biology, physics, ecology, meteorology, climatology, palaeoclimatology, geology and social science journals and magazines.

Magnetic monopole analogue created. Common garden magnets have two poles: a north and a south pole. Split a magnet in two and each still has two poles. Conversely, monopoles are theoretical magnets with just one pole, and these have been a staple of some hard SF stories. Now M. W. Ray and colleagues in the US have engineered a 'Dirac monopole' in a Bose-Einstein condensate cloud of rubidium atoms that mimics a monopoles magnetic field. This process is a quantum simulation that uses real quantum systems to model others that would otherwise be very hard to make, or which we have yet to learn how to make. Although what has been created is only an analogue, its compatibility with theory reinforces the eventual possibility of detecting real monopoles. (Nature, 2014, vol. 505, pp657-660.)

The Earth is about 4,470 million years old a new analysis reveals. The international team of geoscientists and astronomers have used a combination of computer modelling of the early Solar System and the Earth-Moon system formation, and isotopic geological evidence. To cut a complicated story short, the Earth-Moon system likely formed late during the first 150 million years of the Solar System. They conclude it took around 95 million years to form the Earth (with an uncertainty of 32-39 million years) and made it about 4,470 million years old (Nature, vol. 508, pp84-87 and also 51-2).

The UN has created its first Scientific Advisory Board. This is arguably long overdue given we live in technological age based on scientific understanding. The board consists of 26 scientists who will each serve a two-year term. The Board has its origins in the UN report Resilient People, Resilient Planet produced for the 2012 Rio+20 conference as well as another UN report 21 issues for the 21st Century that criticised the lack of meeting points between scientists and politicians. This move is timely as international research into Earth systems and sustainable development is changing with the closure of key past networks this year and next. A new 10-year 'Future Earth' initiative will be critical.

King Alfred the Great's remains possibly found. Previously remains found in an unmarked grave at St Bartholomew's Church in Winchester carbon dated to the wrong years. Now new remains, previously uncovered at a dig at Hyde Abbey, have been dated to 895-1017 AD. This ties in with Alfred's time and archaeologists think that the remains could be either him or his son Edward the Elder. The remains, having been stored in two boxes at Winchester's City Museum, were tested by researchers from Winchester University. Carbon dating is one thing, DNA analysis is needed for matters to be conclusive. Alas, while DNA analysis will be possible, finding a confirmed present-day descendent of King Alfred against which to compare the DNA is (at the moment) not possible.  King Alfred the Great is known for uniting what would (a century later) be known as England against Viking invaders. In the process he became one of (what would be) Britain's first town planners by creating overall designs for defensive settlements. The last decade of his life also saw him encourage reading and he himself is thought to have translated a number of Latin works into Old English.

New cracked glass is way tougher! Glass etched with tiny sine-wave like cracks (several per centimetre) filled with shock-absorbent polyurethane is 200 times tougher than normal glass. The cracks do not spread as the shock travels along the channels and absorbed by them. The Canadian researchers were inspired by natural substances such as tooth enamel and mollusc shells which are stiff and hard but not brittle. The technique could be used on a range of ceramics. (Nature Communications, 2014, vol. 5, 3166.)

New metamaterial gathers energy from the air. Researchers have constructed a metamaterial with structures the size of microwave wavelengths. These pick up microwaves from the air and convert them into electricity. If the efficiency can be improved this may enable people to carry devices (such as a smartphone) that are powered by mobile phone and Wi-Fi microwave signals. (Applied Physics Letters, vol. 103, 163901.)

Why haven't we fusion yet?. Well, if you have been following matters we are talking about a third of a century of mis-management along with underfunding of the fusion roadmap (fusion development is expensive), and not (as the unschooled think) due to the difficulty of fusion's science and engineering. The latest load of boll*cks is the ITER (the international effort to get a working prototype with a commercial energy balance) governing council approving 11 urgent reforms to the project's management. But few actually have faith in the first ITER plasma being 2027.

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
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Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
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Summer 2014

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a cool star. Kepler 186f is about 500 light-years away from the Earth. The Kepler telescope has discovered arocky planet, Kepler 186f, that is close to the size of Earth and has the potential to hold liquid water, which is vital for life. This is the smallest planet we have so far found in a star's habitable zone and as such is the most Earth-like. Interestingly it is just beyond the tidal-lock zone which means that it could well be spinning relative to its star. This means that it may not be tidally locked (with one side burning hot and the other side cold locking away the planet's water as ice). In theory it could well support life. (See Science vol. 344, no. 6181 pages 277-280.)

Big Bang 'inflation' signal spotted!!! It's thought. John Kovac, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and his BICEP2 team have announced that they have spotted differences in the cosmic background radiation that are most likely a signal of the 'inflation' period that took place at the start (the first trillionth, trillionth of a second) of the Universe after the Big Bang. This 'inflation' period was very short and saw the Universe expand from an infinitesimally small point to the size of a grapefruit (or large orange, but some say only the size of a marble) at a speed many times that of light. (Now before you shout, but nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, bear in mind that it was the Universe's frame/dimensions expanding at this time and not matter within those dimensions, matter would have been carried along instead had there been matter there at that time: matter had not even begun to condense out what was then a high-energy exotic state.) One predicted side effect of inflation was that it would generate gravity waves. These gravity waves were thought to have left an imprint on the 'cosmic background radiation' (CMB) in the form of patches where the CMB has different polarization (B-mode) to other places: a kind of distinctive twist in the oldest light detectable with telescopes.  For completeness' sake we should mention it is possible for the interaction of CMB light with dust in our galaxy to produce a similar effect, but the researchers think they have ruled this out.  What does this mean? Well the degree of this effect is larger than some exotic theories of inflation predict, but do tie in with the simplest of the theories and is consistent with current views on Grand Unified Theory. More detailed detectors are being planned so we should get a better handle on all this in a few years' time. There is talk that this discovery might be Nobel worthy?

A small planet well beyond Pluto called 2012VP113 has been found. It is located in the Inner Oort Cloud. It comes closest to the Sun at 76 Astronomical Units (AU) and furthest at 1,000 AU. (1 AU is the distance from the Earth to the Sun, and Neptune is 30 AU out.) Its eccentricity is slightly greater than Sedna and its angle of tilt to the ecliptic (the rough plane in which all the major planets lie) is also similar to Sedna. This suggests that there really is an inner Oort Cloud that contains a number of small planets in addition to asteroids. So expect more small planets to be found. (Nature, 2014, vol. 505, pp471-4 and also 435-6.)…  And just a few weeks after we drafted this news item and the same team announced the discovery of two other potential dwarf planets beyond Neptune. One of these, 2013FY27 is estimated to be 475 miles (760km) across. The other object, 2013Fz27, is smaller.

Sub-surface water in Enceladus discovered at least the volume of N. America's Lake Superior. Analyses of Cassini measurements of undulations in Enceladus's gravity field point to a 10-kilometer-thick layer of water beneath the south polar region, if not the entire moon. Enceladus is 300 mile (500 km) diameter moon of Saturn. This prompts the suggestion that it could support basic life. By rights Enceladus should be completely frozen, but its eccentric orbit about Saturn produces tidal stresses that warm the sub-surface water (Science, vol. 344 pages 78-80 and comment p17)

Plume of water vapour observed coming from Ceres. Ceres is the largest of the small planets (asteroids) between Mars and Jupiter and is some nearly 500 miles (800 km) in diameter. Previously the photo-dissociation of water molecules (hydroxyl ions) were detected back in 1992 but these were not confirmed by subsequent observation. Now astronomers using the European Space Agency's Herschel space observatory have detected a plume of hydroxyl ions coming off of Ceres. It is not known whether this plume originates due water escaping from beneath Ceres' surface or whether water from a small cometary impact was the cause. Matters are likely to be resolved early next year (2015) when the Dawn space probe reaches Ceres. (Nature, 2014, vol. 505, pp525-527.)

Ancient massive black hole's spin measured. It is thought that supermassive black holes originated in the early Universe from 'small' seeds of only 10,000 or so Solar masses that then grabbed more nearby matter and grew further. Black holes have two key quantifiable properties: mass and spin. Total mass accreted corresponds to the hole's mass, and its spin is thought to represent the number of black hole mergers: it takes a big mass of a large black hole to affect a large black hole. So, question: how much spin do early black holes have? US astronomers have now measured an early Universe's (z = 0.658) black hole's spin. This hole dates back 6 billion years and that's nearly half the age of the Universe; long before the autotrophs began to drool, Neanderthals developed tools, we built the wall, we build the pyramids etc.  They measured it due to a fortuitous gravitational lens (whereby the gravity of an intervening galaxy bends light to act like a lens) to produce four images in a ring of the quasar containing the black hole. The X-ray spectrum was then analysed: high energy X-rays are produced as matter falls across the event horizon. The result shows that the hole's spin is large: so large that it is close to the theoretical maximum. This suggests that even by the time the Universe was half our age supermassive black holes had already swallowed enough black holes to ramp up its spin to the theoretical maximum. It is thought that Europe's next generation of X-ray telescope, ATHENA, will enable astronomers to use this method to measure other early Universe black hole spins (Nature, 2014, vol. 507, pp221-224).

The International Space Station is to have its life extended. Previously, crewing the station was due to end in 2020, but now the leaders of the sponsoring space agencies have agreed to extend this to 2024.

The recent near-drowning of spacewalk astronauts could have been avoided so says a NASA report. Well, that should comfort the fly boys. For example, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano had to feel his way back to the space station after his helmet began filling up with water. A week earlier the same leak happened but the crew thought that had come from the drinking water tube. Actually it seems as if coolant water was involved and there is quite a bit of that in a suit with a life-support pack.

It will be hard to weld structures to asteroids. This is bad news for those aspiring to a thriving industry in space where asteroids are mined, and processing and habitable structures are built on asteroids. John Elmer and his team at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab (US) tried to weld an asteroid fragment (that had fallen as a meteorite) under vacuum conditions. Alas the phosphorous in the asteroid created cracks as the weld cooled and so the joints are weak (Sci. Technol. Weld. Join., 2014).

NASA is contemplating a mission to Europa by 2025. In March ((2014) the White House's 2015 federal budget request included US$15 million to develop a space programme to visit the icy moon of Jupiter. Europa has a potentially life-supporting ocean of liquid water underneath its icy exterior. (And SFnally in Arthur C. Clarke's sequel novel 2010: Odyssey Two, we were warned to keep away from the potentially life-bearing Europa by the starchild aliens.) While the proposed NASA space programme is wide open, one candidate project is Europa Clipper; a probe that would orbit Jupiter and make flyby trips to Europa to study the moon's environment and potentially fly through Europa's 125-mile-high water plumes to collect and analyze samples. If the programme does get the go-ahead then there might be a potential launch date as early as the mid-2020s.

 

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

Summer 2014

NATURAL SCIENCE

Stem cell creation breakthrough! Or is it?. Up to recently to create pluripotent stem cells (capable of forming many specialist cell types – heart cells, retina, brain neurons, etc.) you needed to create an embryo and harvest the cells. But only embryo cells work, once the embryo begins to develop then pluripotency diminishes, and also there are ethical concerns having embryos develop. Then, back in 2006, it was discovered how to turn mouse fibroblasts (a connective tissue cell) into stem cells (induced pluripotent stem cells [iPSCs]). And then again last year a technique was developed to clone embryos and get stem cells from these.  Now, Haruko Obokata (who works in both Japan and the US) and colleagues (from various labs in the US and Japan) have published two papers in the same issue of Nature outlining a new technique for creating stem cells (Nature vol. 505, pp641-647, and pp676 – 680).  The first paper outlines the technique which involves taking leukocyte CD45+ haematopoietic (blood) cells from new born mice and exposing them to mild acid (lemon juice level of acidity) for a short while stimulates them to acquire pluripotency: that is acquire the ability to become a number of other specialist cells. The technique they call stimulus-triggered acquired pluripotency (STAP).  The second paper demonstrates how these STAP produced stem cells can contribute to both placental and embryonic tissues.
          What does this mean in the broader scheme of things? Well, separately in clone technology, we can now create a clone using DNA from a non-embryo cell, and from the cloned embryo could get stem cells that could then be used in the original animal (potentially a human patient). With STAP we now apparently have another way of creating pluripotent stem cell and are a step closer to creating these from cells from a person's blood or other tissue. We are slowly homing in on developing personal stem cell therapy...
          But then cracks in the research seemed to appear. It turns out that one of the photos used to illustrate the paper was previously used in a PhD thesis and were not purported mice cells but human ones. Furthermore, attempts by other labs to replicate the process have so far failed. One of the two papers' lead authors, Prof Teruhiko Wakayama, of the University of Yamanashi, has called for a paper retraction. He said: "When conducting the experiment, I believed it was absolutely right… But now that many mistakes have emerged, I think it is best to withdraw the research paper once and, using correct data and correct pictures, to prove once again the paper is right…If it turns out to be wrong, we would need to make it clear why a thing like this happened."  Meanwhile an interim investigation report from Riken University found Haruko Obakata guilty of research misconduct. However as the investigators delved deeper their concerns grew and in April said that researcher Haruku Obokata manipulated data in a misleading way and is guilty of misconduct. The journal Nature is conducting its own inquiry.  STOP PRESS (July 2014): Nature has retracted the two papers by Haruko Obokata. The retraction notices appear in Nature vol. 511, p122, and there is also an editorial comment vol. 511, p5-6. Some figures in the papers were misattributed (they had been published previously elsewhere) and the gene lines of some of the cells were also misrepresented. The papers remain online but their retracted status is signalled by a watermark. (Nature believes that taking down retracted papers is an attempt to re-write history and make life needlessly difficult for those wishing to learn from such mistakes.)

Origins of first Americans elucidated by Clovis genome. Anzick-1 is the only known Clovis burial site and now the genome of an infant boy's remains (~12.6 thousand years old) have been sequenced. His mitochondrial DNA belongs to the D4h3a lineage thought to have been carried by the earliest entering the Americas via the Beringia land bridge once between Russia and Alaska. The D4h3a marker is rare in native US Americans (1.4% of present-day population of native Americans) but more common in the oldest American inhabitant communities.  Conversely, Anzick-1 'Y' chromosome DNA is of the Q-L54*(xM3) lineage is common in native Americans.  Comparisons of Anzick-1 with the genomes of Eurasian and native Americans suggest that Anzick-1 is most closely related to Native Americans and Siberians than other Eurasians. There is evidence of a divergence in native American populations that pre-dates Anzick-1 (Rasmussen et al, Nature vol. 506, p225-229).

37 ancient chicken genomes and 124 modern chicken DNA analysis reveals chicken migration across Pacific. The big question is did the chicken arrive in S. America with the earliest S. Americans coming across the Alaskan landbridge? Or did chicken come with the Micronesians across the Pacific? (Or a bit of both?) Alan Cooper and Jeremy Austin of Adelaide University (Australia) genome analyses show that the pacific route only got as far as Easter Island. Earlier analyses suggested that the Pacific route to S. America was complete but the authors put this down to contamination. (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. doi.org/rx6, 2014.).

New dog genome analyses suggest dogs were domesticated before agriculture. Robert Wayne and John Novembre's team analysed the genomes from three wolves (Canis lupus) as well as two dog breeds and an Australian dingo and a golden jackal. Their results suggest that dogs may have been domesticated between 11,000 and 16,000 years ago. This period was well before farming arose and a time of climatic change as the Earth moved from a glacial mode to the current (Holocene) interglacial. Their conclusions contradict an earlier genome study that suggests that dog domestication was associated with farming. (PLoS Genetics, 2014, vol. 10, e1004016.)

New cattle genome analyses suggest cattle were domesticated after humans left Africa. Jared Decker and Jeremy Taylor of the University of Missouri (US) looked at the genomes of 134 domesticated cattle. Previously it had been thought that cattle in Africa had been domesticated there, but now it seems that cattle were domesticated in the Middle East before being brought to Africa 10,000 years ago where they interbred with African wild cattle to form the breeds of African cattle seen today (PLoS Genetics, vol. 10, e1004254.)

New lion (Panthera leo) genome analyses suggest that Asian lions have a 124,000 year old African ancester. Ross Barnett (Copenhagen University) and colleagues have looked at the genomes of 14 lions including from Iran. They all have a common ancester 124,000 years ago. It appears that the Asian lions left Africa some 21,000 years ago. Back then the Earth was still cold from the last ice age (glacial) and sea levels were still low (water was trapped as icecaps over N. America and N. Europe) which meant that there were more landbridges between islands and continents, but the Earth was beginning to warm (BMC Evolutionary Biology, vol. 70, p14).

The Amazon basin could become a future net source of carbon dioxide. Currently the Amazon rainforest absorbs more carbon each year than it releases. New research suggests that this will change. Monitoring the air above the tree canopy using light aircraft, an international team of researchers checked bi-weekly the air for carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide (an indicator of biomass burning) in 2010 and 2011. These years were important because 2010 was a major drought year, while 2011 was relatively wet. Currently humans emit 9 gigatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere from fossil fuel (and cement manufacturing). Conversely, the Amazon rain forest is estimated to have net absorbed an average of 0.4 gigatonnes a year for the two decades up to 2005. However droughts are changing things and if these continue with climate change, they could reverse this net absorption and so that the Amazon would then contribute to further climate change. (Nature, 2014, vol. 506, pp76-80.)

New dinosaur discovery labelled 'the chicken from hell'! The size of a small car, the new dinosaur discovery, announced in the journal PLoS ONE, also has claws and feathers on its upper arms. It belongs to the Oviraptorosauria group of dinosaurs. Called Anzu wyliei it is a strange, bird-like creature that has a bony crest on top of a beaky head and a long tail like a lizard. The discovery was made in a geological formation known as Hell Creek, hence it has come to be known colloquially as 'the chicken from hell'.

Mum's fatty diet encourages obese and diabetic offspring. Mice that eat a high fat diet while lactating predispose their offspring to obesity and diabetes. The change seems to be related to neuron sensitivity to insulin. In humans this period of development occurs in the last trimester of pregnancy. The suggestion is that a mother's diet during this time could have long-term effects on her offspring. (Cell, doi..org/q5k (2014)).

Why do toddlers keep sticking their hands in their mouths? Angela Sirigu and colleagues at the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Bron used electrodes to stimulate different centres in the brain. 10 sites resulted in volunteers moving their hands to their mouths. This is evidence of hard wiring of these parts of the brain. The researchers speculate that this hard wiring of movement evolved to ensure that toddlers (while young and uncoordinated) could get food accurately to their mouths (Proceedings National Academy of Science, http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1321909111 (2014)).

India has not reported a new polio case for three years. This means that the UN World Health Organization may soon certify S. E. Asia as being polio free. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only countries to have had new cases of polio every year. Polio has, though, re-emerged last year in Syria and the Horn of Africa.

Ebola outbreak in Guinea. By April out of 122 suspected or confirmed cases there were 78 deaths. By Easter there had been over a hundred deaths. By April cases were also found in the capital (Conakry) and neighbouring Liberia with four additional deaths out of seven confirmed or suspected Liberian cases. All the Liberian cases were contracted in Guinea says the UN's World Health Organization. By Easter Liberian deaths reached ten. This is the first known outbreak in Guinea - most recent cases have been thousands of miles away in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

This year's H7N9 bird flu season has been worse than last year's. We reported last summer that there were only 24 cases in the first quarter of 2013. China went on to record 160 that season. Now the 2013/4 season has seen over 200 cases reported in China and so far over a hundred have died of the virus (which – assuming the official statistics are complete [unlikely] – means that the virus has low infectivity but that infection results in quite a high mortality). This year also has seen the first cases outside of China in Vietnam. The spring has also seen the first case has been diagnosed in China's northern Jilin province, which means that there is a risk it might spread to North Korea and Russia. If it does turn up in North Korea then that reclusive country is not likely to be in a good position to combat the outbreak. We still have little knowledge of exactly how the H7N9 strain arose, its reservoirs and details as to how it spreads. A global flu pandemic is one of the Concatenation team's long-term predictions.

Flu virus evolution is beginning to be elucidated. A small team of US and British scientists have taken the genes of flu viruses and then developed a model phylogenomic clock model to see how it could have evolved. The idea is that the sequences of nucleotide (RNA) bases are slowly but steadily shuffled (or bases substituted), new strains arise representing a snapshot and these too see nucleotide substitutions over time. A further complexity is that the rate of substitutions can itself change over time. What you can do with models is to vary them and then see which best represents what we see in reality today.  What the researchers discovered was that it looks like the H7N7 and H3N8 equine flu is a sister lineage to avian flu (bird flu) as well as to human flu.  Furthermore it seems that all these flu strains come from a common ancestral heritage dating from the late 1800s. They conclude that the avian influenza virus underwent a global sweep with old genetic sequences being lost (swept away) beginning in the late 1800s and which is continuing today (old genes are being lost as new gene sequences arise) so that it has on occasion new infectivity and so contributed to major flu outbreaks such as the 1963 equine flu outbreak and the 1918 human pandemic. With regards to this last, the researchers suggest that the 1918 pandemic virus had a western hemisphere avian flu origin and that this strain rose just a couple of years earlier. Meanwhile the proteins of the equine flu outbreak of 1963 also seems to have had a western hemisphere avian origin but arose independent of the 1918 human strain (Nature, vol. 508, pages 254-7). Today we commonly associate the rise of new avian, human and swine strains and hybrids with East Asia and especially China, but it looks like N. America has played an important role too in the past even if today East Asia is where much present-day concern lies. Flu is continuing to evolve and with new gene sequences arising and flu jumps species, it does seem as if it is only a matter of time before a human strain arises that is both highly virulent and lethal: the two factors both necessary for a high mortality pandemic.   +++ Discussion. Now we (SF2 Concatenation) speculate here, but the paper does bring a coincidence to light in that flu seems to have evolved rapidly shortly after the industrial revolution facilitated increased international trade and traffic of livestock (and that includes us humans) around the globe. Is this sheer coincidence, or is this a causal connection? If so what of the future in our increasingly global mobile society? Something for some of you to think about when jetting off on your next holiday, business trip, and even this year's Worldcon.

Green spaces in towns improves mental health. Mathew White and colleagues from Exeter University used the British Household Panel Survey data from over 5 years to compare the mental health of those who moved from one urban area to another. Comparing the leafiness of areas and correcting for employment and marital status found that moving to a leafier area led to an immediate and sustained improvement in mental health (Environ. Sci. Technol., vol. 48, pp1247-1255). This adds to a body of work that shows that living standards, property values and other factors are better in green areas and improve with planting.

City birds and plants are in decline across the globe. Myla Aronson and her team at Rutgers University (US) brought together data from surveys of birds in 54 cities and plants in 110 cities (Proceedings Royal Society 'B', vol. 281, 20133330, 2014). They found that cities support just 8% of bird species and 25% of plant species compared to the countryside that surrounds them. And the proportion of species in cities is declining. The determining factors are human related (city age and land use) and not natural (geography and climate).

Darwin finch speciation undone! Chaz Darwin noted that the finches of the various Galapagos isles were of different species and proposed that they once had a the same ancestor, but each island's population then evolved due to local conditions and food sources into their own individual species. (For the background do an internet search on 'Darwin's finches'.) Now, speciation (the change of one species to another) is vulnerable to collapse in its early stages (introgression) through crossbreeding with parents each from a different diverging branch. Such introgressive hybrids may in some cases prove more adaptive (evolutionary viable) than one of the branches and so leading to the extinction of the original parent species and the creation of a variable hybrid that is not as different from the original parent species as the species that was being formed is different from the parent species: in other words it is a process that undoes part of the speciation process. (Hope you are still with us.)  This brings us to today and a team led by S. Kleindorfer appears to have found an example of this in Darwin's finches.  The small finch, Camarhynchus parvuluslives of the Galapagos island of Isabella but some migrated to the isle of Floreana. The large finch, C. psittacula, is thought to have originated on the Galapagos isle of Santa Cruz and some – a long while back – also migrated to the isle of Floreana. They (the large and small finches) interbred resulting in the medium Finch, C. pauper. Then the populations stabilised and then later – more recently still – a second migration of the large finch, C. psittacula, to Floreana took place so that there were all three species on Floreana: the two parent species and the medium offspring (so to speak) species. These three species did not interbreed. That was the position in the 1940s when the biologist David Lack studied the finches.  Now Kleindorfer has found that things have changed: the large finch, C. psittacula on Floreana has disappeared! Further, Kleindorfer's team's genome analyses show that not only are there on Floreana the small Finch parent species and the hybrid medium Finch species but that these two are now creating some hybrids of their own: the aforementioned introgressive hybrids. These individuals may have the 'hybrid vigour' to have out competed the larger finch species that then went extinct on Floreana (American Naturalist, vol. 183, pp325-341).  And also this means now we know that the dynamic evolution of Darwin's finches still continues today.

 

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

Summer 2014

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.

 

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13250-4
In the fifth of this series Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of London to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some children. How will the London bobbie fare with the local cops and gods…

Time Bomb by Scott K. Andrews, Hodder, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-444-75206-9.
Three teenagers from different periods of history find themselves flung together by a tear in he fabric of reality. With the help of a mysterious stranger, the learn to harness their abilities to move through time, only just man going to keep one step ahead of the evil Lord Sweetclover who will stop at nothing…

Jupiter War by Neal Asher, Tor, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-330-52453-7.
Third in the 'Owner' series from an established space opera author. Click on the title link to see Ian's stand-alone review.  Other Neal Asher novels with standalone reviews on this site include: Cowl, The Departure , The Gabble, Hilldiggers, Line of Polity, Line War, Orbus, Prador Moon, Shadow of the Scorpion, The Technician and Zero Point.

Heaven's Queen by Rachel Bach, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50237-3
From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell's doomed ship, Devi Morris' life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that's eating her alive. Now, with the captain missing and everyone -- even her own government -- determined to hunt her down, things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi's never been one to shy from a fight, and she's getting mighty sick of running…

Impact by Adam Baker, Hodder, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-444-75588-6.
This is a science-fantasy cum horror. To combat the post-apocalyptic horror that is slowly overrunning the world, a B-52 bomber is sent to nuke it. But the plane and its six-person crew crash to find the horror slowly creeping towards them…

Terra's World by Mitch Benn, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13212-2
Now Terra is a couple of years older and back on Earth. She's in hiding. And in Terra's World we find out why. But none of this is known to Billy Dolphin. He's just annoyed that since Terra returned to Earth Science Fiction has died a death. How wrong could a teenage boy be? There is an alien bounty hunter on Terra's trail. And only Billy Dolphin to help her.

Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20637-3
The latest edition of this Gollancz, SF masterworks novel, an environmental classic from 1968 (written as a kind of response to Harry Harrison's Make Room, Make Room (1966). Stand on Zanzibar is acknowledged as being one of the early serious attempts, using the demographic projections of the day, to base a story in the more crowded 21st century. At the beginning of the 20th century it was possible to stand the nearly 2 billion people of the world on the Isle of Wight (by the year 2000 the world population had in fact topped 6 billion!). By 2010, in Brunner’s future, the world population was well over 10 billion (an accurate projection in the late 1960s though today it is thought that that level of population would be reached closer to the middle of the 21st century). However, with a world population of 10 billion you would need something the size of Zanzibar on which to stand it. In Brunner’s future the gap between the rich and the poor nations had not been eliminated (as it had in so many futuristic novels of the 1960s), recreational drug usage was commonplace, genetically modified pets were available, and artificial intelligence was about to be created. It was a time of eugenic laws, genetic screening, economic domination by multinationals, and international tension. Brunner himself refers to Stand on Zanzibar as a ‘non-novel’. Unlike a novel which commonly has a single story frequently told from a single perspective, Stand on Zanziba portrays a future world through the different, but intertwining stories of half a dozen lead characters, in addition to short snippets: newscasts, television programmes, and extracts of the future writer cum philosopher Chad C Mulligan. Though an uncommon format, it is one that is very effective in presenting the complexity of the world of the early twenty-first century.

Galaxy in Flames by Ben Counter, Black Library £12.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-849-76621-6.
The million selling 'Horus Heresy' series continues.

Earth Awakens by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston, Orbit, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50276-2.
Nearly 100 years before the events of Orson Scott Card’s, Hugo-winning novel Ender’s Game, humans were only just beginning to step off Earth and out into the Solar System. A thin web of ships in both asteroid belts; a few stations; a corporate settlement on Luna. No one had seen any sign of other space-faring races; everyone expected that First Contact, if it came, would happen in the future, in the empty reaches between the stars. Then a young navigator on a distant mining ship saw something moving too fast, heading directly for our sun…  Tens of millions are dead in China as the invading Formics scour the landscape and gas cities with a lethal alien chemical. Young Mazer Rackham and the Mobile Operations Police scramble to find a counteragent, while asteroid miner Victor Delgado infiltrates the alien ship in near-Earth orbit.

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey, Orbit, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50015-7
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh… Melanie is a very special girl!

Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey, Orbit, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50416-2.
4th story set in the 'Expanse universe'. The previous one was Abbadon's Gate. Though part of a sequence, our Duncan says that they can be satisfying stand-alone novels, so feel free to jump into the Expanse with this one.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, Penguin Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-241-96809-3.
This is a very welcome reprint of Dick's 1962 classic set in an alternate history novels where the Axis powers won World War II. Robert Childan lives in an America run by the Japanese, a conquering race with whom he has to share his life. He is a jeweller whose values and personal philosophy is challenged by having to go into business with one of the Japanese conquerors. But this is Philip K Dick, and this altered perception is not the only one you get: there are worlds within worlds. In this other present there is a book called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which is itself an alternate history about what it would be like if the allies had won the war, and from time to time Dick refers in his alternate universe to another, a reality closer to our own but not of it... The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo for Best Novel.  Other Dick books that have standalone reviews on this site include: Beyond Lies the Wub, Cantata-140, The Cosmic Puppets, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, (Article on Bladerunner and Do Androids Dream compared.), Dr Bloodmoney, The Father-Thing, Five Great Novels (Omnibus), Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, Galactic Pot-Healer, Human Is? A Philip K. Dick Reader, Martian Time-Slip, Mary and the Giant, A Maze of Death, Minority Report, Now Wait For Last Year, Second Variety, The Sirens of Titan, Solar Lottery, Three Early Novels, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Total Recall: What is real?, Ubik, Valis and We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, The Zap Gun.

The Arrows of Time by Greg Egan, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-10577-5
The final in the trilogy set in an alternate universe with different mathematically formulated physics: very engaging for the scientist who likes science fiction. See the title link for a stand-alone review.

Willful Child (working title) by Steven Erikson, Transworld, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-593-07307-0.
This title is not due out until the end of September (and so by rights should be in next season's listing) but, given Erikson's popularity with fantasy readers, we thought you'd appreciate an early heads up. This new book is very much in Galaxy Quest (2000) and Red Shirts (2012) Hugo-winning territory.  These are the voyages of the starship, 'A.S.F. Willful Child' (sic). Its ongoing mission: to seek out strange new worlds on which to plant the Terran flag, to subjugate and if necessary obliterate new life life-forms, to boldly blow the...  And so we join the not-terribly-bright but exceedingly cock-sure Captain Hadrian Sawback - a kind of James T. Kirk crossed with American Dad - and his motley crew on board the Starship Willful Child for a series of devil-may-care, near-calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through ‘the infinite vastness of interstellar space’...

God is an Astronaut by Alyson Foster, Bloomsbury, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-408-85414-3.
Techno romance with an SFnal thriller backdrop that will appeal to those who read mundane fiction in addition to exotic genre novels. This is essentially a love story told in 107 e-mails. Jess is a professor of botany whose husband works for a space tourism company. A disaster occurs when a shuttle explodes shortly after lift off and Jess' husband has to go away to participate in the investigation. Alone, Jess turns to a friend cum colleague via e-mail. That was when her life began to spiral out of control.

Symbiont by Mira Grant, Orbit, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50193-2
Hard SF, zombie-style story. The follow-up to Parasite at the end of which we saw the outbreak just beginning…

The Human by Matt Haig, Cannongate, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-857-86878-7.
An alien arrives on Earth and impersonates a mathematician who has proved the Riemann hypothesis. The being then sets out to destroy all the evidence of this discovery including eliminating those who know… SF thriller with dark humour.

City of Endless Night by Milo M. Hastings, Hesparus Press, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-843-91505-8.
This is a very rare reprint of his 1919 novel. A dystopia vision thought to have been part-inspired by Fritz Lang's film Metropolis but actually this novel pre-dates that film. The 'city' in question is Berlin, and it is in endless night because it is buried in an underground dome. Germany has been defeated by endless war but Berlin remains and its citizens are divided into different genetic races in a proto-Nazi society. The novel also predates Huxley's Brave New World (1932). As such City of Endless Night will be sought out by serious SF book readers and should be by those studying English literature.  Your duty is to spread the word that this is out.

Infidel: Bel Dame Apocrypha by Kameron Hurley, Del Rey, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95280-8.
Second in the far-future action trilogy.

Zombie Apocalypse! Washington Deceased by S. Jones & M. Morris, Robinson, £7.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-472-11067-1.
If the advance publicity listings are to be believed this is a very good price for a trade paperback suggesting that the publishers expect this to really sell.

Born of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Piatkus, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-749-95404-8.
A space-opera-ish romance.

The Real and the Unreal: Vol. 2 by Ursula K. LeGuin, Gollancz, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20285-6.
Companion volume Where on Earth explores Le Guin's satirical, risky, political and experimental Earthbound stories. Both volumes include new introductions by the author.

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, Faber & Faber, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-571-31157-6.
A very welcome reprint of Lem's classic 1961 novel. We do so miss the late Stanislaw Lem… A remote research station is in orbit about the exoplanet ‘Solaris’ and its huge ocean. Something is wrong on the station and a psychologist is sent to help, but soon discovers that all is certainly not well and that the station is haunted by ‘projections’ of people. Shortly, the psychologist having encountered his former wife (who in reality had committed suicide) it becomes apparent that these projections come from the scientists’ own minds. But why…?

Into the Fire by Peter Liney, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-782-06036-9.
This is the second in the 'Detainee' sequence. Clancy has now escaped the island but only to find that the mainland is not as safe a place as he thought it would be. With the punishment satellites not operating, the wealthy and powerful have taken to hunting the poor in the streets…

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, Jo Fletcher Books, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-780-87168-4.
Sufficiently close to Ursula K. LeGuin territory to likely appeal to her readers. This is the first mass-market outing of last year's hardback.

The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord, Jo Fletcher Books, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-780-87689-4.
The sequel to The Best of All Possible Worlds above.

Defenders by Will McIntosh, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50215-1.
When Earth is invaded by telepathic aliens, humanity responds by creating the defenders. They are the perfect warriors--seventeen feet tall, knowing and loving nothing but war, their minds closed to the aliens. The question is, what do you do with millions of genetically-engineered warriors once the war is won?  (Shades of Mandroid?)  This is the author's fourth novel; his last was Love Minus Eighty.

The System by Gemma Malley, Hodder, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-444-72288-8.
To survive you need people watching you, following your every move...And, of course, you have to update every fifteen minutes. Everybody watches everyone else; nothing is hidden. And for those who fail to ‘update’ every fifteen minutes, the consequences are deadly. Evie and Raffy may have escaped the City but they still fear for their lives. Now the only person who can help them is Frankie, the most popular girl in the world, watched every second by millions of people. But Frankie has other ideas...  This is one more for teenagers and will appeal to fans of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, and it will be published soon after the British Isles film release of Catching Fire.

The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill, Doubleday, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-875-52221-4.
The winner of the 2013 Terry Pratchett Prize reported last season and now the winning entry has been published. It is set in New Cairo, a city built on technology, from the huge solar panels that keep civilisation going in a changed world, to the artificial implants that have become the answer to all and any medical problem. When a powerful new computer virus begins to spread through the poorest districts shutting down the life-giving implants, it threatens to tip the city into a violent class struggle. Hiding out amongst the riots and underground resistance, Zala Ulora, one of the most wanted criminals in the city and a gifted hacker, must trace the virus to its source before it destroys the city, or the city destroys itself.

Resonance by John Meaney, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09481-9.
From the leader of a Norse raiding party in 7th-century England to a young symbiotically bonded Pilot-and-Ship in the far future. From a female German scientist during the Second World War to a member of an alien race who communicates by smell. From the past to the future, war is coming. And only a few can see the darkness…Hidden at the centre of the Universe, the darkness spreads its tendrils throughout space and time. Those it touches become puppets, dedicated to slowing down the improvement of the human race and preventing it from reaching its true potential. For the darkness knows that when it makes its final invasion of our space, humanity will stand against it…  This follows on from Transmission.

Tales from the End of Time by Michael Moorcock, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09261-7.
A welcome reprint of Moorcock stories. Return to the End of Time - the fabulous decadent last party of the human race - and the bizarre and jaded individuals who dwell there. From Lord Shark to The Everlasting Concubine, the denizens of the ageing Earth dance to the dying of the Sun. Visited by various travellers - including Elric of Melnibon? - the dancers are involved in a series of complicated plots and hilarious misunderstandings, and a final fate of the Eternal Champion is revealed. Contains The Transformation of Miss Mavis Ming, Legends from the Ends of Time and Elric at the End of Time

Travelling to Utopia by Michael Moorcock, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09277-8.
A welcome reprint of Moorcock stories. Three standalone adventures, all exploring various aspects of Moorcock's Eternal Champion and the Multiverse. The stories include a frantic dash across a frozen hell on a dangerous ship, the story of one man's lonely five-year journey towards the stars, and a terrifying vision of a future where every version of Earth in the multiverse is in danger. Contains The Wrecks of Time, The Ice Schooner and The Black Corridor.

The War Among the Angels by Michael Moorcock, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09273-0.
Science fantasy and New wave SF. This is the final volume of Moorcock's trilogy about Rose von Bek and her friends Col. Samuel Oakenhurst, Colinda Dovero, and Jack Karaquazian, who can all transport themselves from our mundane reality into the Second Ether. Rose recounts her life and loves including her involvement in the War in Heaven. Moorcock blends reality and fantasy with myriad references to the real and imagined. Recommended for collections owning the other titles.

Vurt by Jeff Noon, Tor, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-22921-6.
An updated (revised) reprint of Noon's Arthur Clarke (book) Award winning novel.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Clare North, Orbit, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50257-1.
Every time Harry is reborn it is the same way, but he remembers his previous iterations. Then, as he nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl tells him that he must prevent the end of the world... This is the story of what Harry August does next – and what he did before – and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, Hodder, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-444-76275-4.
A star falls from the sky. A woman rises from the sea. The world will never be the same. When a meteorite plunges into the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, three people will find themselves bound together in ways they could never have imagined. Together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars, they must race through Lagos and against time itself in order to save the city, the world, and themselves.  Nnedi Okorafor is already a well-respected and much-lauded author, having won many awards including the Tiptree Honor Award and the Pan MacMillian Writer’s Prize for Africa. Nnedi’s first adult science fiction novel, Who Fears Death, won the World Fantasy Award in 2010.

The Long War: The Long Earth 2 by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, Transworld, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-552-16775-8.
Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.  A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth – but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind...

The Long Childhood: The Long Earth 3 by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, Doubleday, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-857-52174-3.
Actually this might be being called The Long Mars as we have advance publicity for both titles and the same ISBN. Anyway, its the final in the trilogy following The Long War. Solid SF concepts from two respected genre authors concerning an infinite series of parallel Earths being colonised but H. sapiens sapiens is not the only 'human' (intelligent) species roaming this long parallel line…

Indoctrinaire by Christopher Priest, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-12119-5.
A welcome reprint of Priest's 1970 novel originally published by Faber and Faber. In the very depths of the densest jungle in Brazil, there exists a circular plain of stubble. A perfect circle. This is the Panalto District, and no man has ever come out of it alive. Elias Wentik might, perhaps, be the exception. He finds himself imprisoned in the very centre of the plain, subject to humiliating and bizarre sessions of interrogation. And this visit, so completely contemporary in its paranoid vision of strangeness, has revealed to him the incredible secret of the Panalto. It exists two hundred years in the future… Literary SF.

The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi, Gollancz, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-08896-2.
And now we find out what will happen to Jean, his employer Miele, the independently minded ship Perhonnen and the rest of a fractured and diverse humanity flung through the solar system… This is the third in the Eganesque space opera-ish future that began with the mind-numbingly brilliant The Quantum Thief that was followed up by the very different, many may find somewhat impenetrable (take your pick of a number of reviews on the net), complex cant The Fractal Prince. And so the big question is how will this all turn out, and will Hannu manage to re-engage with his readers as he did with the first excellent title in this trilogy…?

The Forever Watch by David Ramirez, Hodder, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-444-78790-0.
A city-sized generation ship is 400 years into its 800 year journey when a man is murdered. Gene-modified to use the ship's 'telepathic' internet, Hanna Dempsey has to track down the killer… This is a debut novel. (Not to be confused with one of Lukyanenko's 'Watch' series.)

The Chickens of Atlantis and Other Foul and Filthy Fiends by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-08647-0.
The fourth in Robert Rankin's series of steampunk-tinged Victoriana novels featuring the master detective Cameron Bell (who has an unfortunate fondness for blowing up major landmarks) and his companion, Darwin, the Educated Ape… Wacky comedy. (Some of Rankin's earlier novels verge on Goon Show brilliance; some of the recent ones have been a little debatable.)

On the Steele Breeze by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-575-09047-7.
Staggeringly amazing hard-SF widescreen space opera concerning three clones with an identical memory source, one of whom is on Earth and the other light years away in a caravan of giant generation ships to a world possibly harbouring intelligence. This is the first mass market paperback release of last year's hardback. Click on the title link to see a stand alone review.

Lock In by John Scalzi, Gollancz, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13434-8.
Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. 4% suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And 1% find themselves 'locked in' - fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. 1% does not seem like a lot. But in the US that's 1.7 million people 'locked in' - including the President's wife and daughter! Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can fully restore the locked in. But then two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual-reality environment, 'The Agora', where the locked-in can interact with other humans, whether locked-in or not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, allowing those who are locked in to occasionally 'ride' these people and use their bodies as if they were their own. This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse... Scalzi has written very different books in the past including the Hugo-winning space opera Old Man's War.

A Kill in the Morning by Graeme Shimmin, Bantam Press, £10.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-593-07353-7.
Billed as Robert Harris meets Ian Fleming meets Tarantino in a 1955 in which WWII never happened.

Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh, Gollancz, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-11133-2.
Ivy Jane is re-building her life after the 'medical treatment' suppresses her psionic abilities… And alas that's all we know about this one.

The Age of Scorpio by Gavin Smith, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09476-5
SF-fantasy violent action. See the title link for a stand-alone review.

Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50100-0.
She was looking for her sister. She found Atlantis.  Krina Alizond is a metahuman in a universe where the last natural humans became extinct five thousand years ago. When her sister goes missing she embarks on a daring voyage across the star systems to find her, travelling to her last known location - the mysterious water-world of Shin-Tethys. In a universe with no faster-than-light travel that's a dangerous journey, made all the more perilous by the arrival of an assassin on Krina's tail, by the 'privateers' chasing her sister's life insurance policy and by growing signs that the disappearance is linked to one of the biggest financial scams in the known universe… Note: Neptune's Brood has been nominated for a Hugo.  +++ See also elsewhere on this site stand-alone reviews of Stross' Accelerando (hardback), Accelerando, The Clan Corporate , The Fuller Memorandum, Glasshouses and Singularity Sky.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch, Headline, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-472-21487-4.
Ten years after and attack largely reduced Pittsburgh to rubble. All that effectively remains is a an interactive digital archive record of the city and its citizens. But a murder indicates that someone is hacking into the archive…

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree jnr., Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20324-2.
A collection of eighteen short stories from a luminary of the science-fiction genre (real name Alice Sheldon). This updated edition is the quintessential Tiptree collection and contains revisions from the author’s original notes. Tiptree’s fiction reflects the darkly complex world its author inhabited: exploring the alien among us; the unreliability of perception; love, sex, and death; and humanity’s place in a vast, cold universe… nearly all this stories appeared in anthologies and collections now out of print and so these will be welcomed by new readers seeking solid SF and old fans who recall Tiptree's (Sheldon's) brilliance.  For example: 'The Screwfly Solution' describes a chilling, elegant answer to the population problem. In 'Love Is the Plan the Plan is Death', the title tells the tale – species survival insured by imprinted drives – but the story's force is in its exquisite, lyrical prose and its suggestion that personal uniqueness is possible even within biological imperatives. 'The Girl Who Was Plugged In' is a future boy-meets-girl story with a twist unexpected by the players. 'The Women Men Don't See' displays Tiptree's keen insight and ability to depict singularity within the ordinary. In Hugo and Nebula award-winning 'Houston, Houston, Do You Read?' astronauts flying by the Sun slip forward 500 years and encounter a culture that successfully questions gender roles in ours… Consider this a firm SF buff recommendation.

Best of Judge Dredd: Classic Strips from the Galaxy's Greatest Comic by 2000AD various, Prion Books £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-853-75910-9.
Little advance info on this one, other than the price suggests that these are early black & white strips. Prion is an imprint of Carlton who reproduce a number of vintage comic strips. All good stuff. But how they got to publish this is a bit of a mystery given that Rebellion is now run 2000AD and who are currently reprinting all the classic Dredd strips in order in a sequence of Dredd Case Files volumes: it could be that some residual rights are shared with the original owners of the comic, IPC? Either way, this is a very affordable collection and of interest to those who just want a taster of early Dredd.  See also related stand-alone reviews: Judge Dredd: The Carlos Ezquerra Collection, Batman – Judge Dredd Collection, Judge Dredd: The Henry Flint Collection and Judge Dredd Vs Aliens: Incubus among a number on this site.

Barricade by Jon Wallace, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-11794-5.
This is a debut novel and its premise sounds interesting. Our anti-hero, Kenstibec, is a kind of taxi driver and also a member of the ficial race, a breed of super-humans who are at war with humanity. In this post-apocalyptic future, the ficials largely live in barricaded cities surrounded by tribes of 'normal' humans. Kenstibec's job is to transport his fares to destinations on either side of the barricades…

The Empire of Time by David Wingrove, Del Rey, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95615-8.
Christburg 1236 AD and Otto Behr, the time-travelling German agent, is tasked with fighting Russians across three millennia.

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.

 

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Summer 2014

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie, Harper Voyager, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-007-55020-3.
Coming of age sword and sorcery, but you don't need us to tell you that Joe is very good at this kind of thing.

The Clown Service by Guy Adams, Del Rey, £7.99.pbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95315-7.
The first in a new supernatural spy series, previously out in hardback and now its first mass market paperback outing.

The Rain-Soaked Bride by Guy Adams, Del Rey, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95316-4.
The second in the 'Clown Service' series.

Son of the Morning by Mark Alder, Gollancz, £18.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0575-11515-6.
Edward III needs a victory against the French. As he stands in a burnt out church he contemplates the unthinkable. What if he opened the gates of hell and unleashed an unholy war.

The Oath of the Vayuputras by Amish, Jo Fletcher Books, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87408-1.
The first mass market paperback outing for this the third in the Shiva trilogy that is a fictional novelization of the Indian religious legend.

The Incarnations by Susan Baker, Doubleday, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-857-52257-3.
A tale of a Beijing taxi driver being pursued by his twin soul across a thousand years of Chinese history… Billed as for fans of David Mitchell.

Babyaga by Toby Barlow, Corvus, £12.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-782-39333-7.
An imaginative tale of witches and spies in Paris.

Heir to the Shadows: Black Jewels Trilogy 2 by Anne Bishop, Jo Fletcher Books, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-848-06357-2.
First UK mass market paperback outing for this fantasy trilogy that has done well in N. America.

This House is Haunted by John Boyne, Transworld, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-552-77842-8.
A chilling Dickensian ghost story by one of Ireland's finest writers. 1867. On a dark and chilling night Eliza Caine arrives in Norfolk to take up her position as governess at Gaudlin Hall. As she makes her way across the station platform, a pair of invisible hands push her from behind into the path of an approaching train. She is only saved by the vigilance of a passing doctor…  John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971 and lives in Dublin. The winner of two Irish Book Awards, he is the author of seven novels, including the international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which was made into a Miramax feature film and has sold more than five million copies worldwide.

Thief's Magic by Trudi Canavan, Orbit, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50110-9.
What if the world's industrial revolution had been powered by magic…?  Once a young sorcerer-bookbinder, Vella was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been collecting information, including a vital clue to a disaster world faces.

The House of War and Witness by Mike Carey, Linda Carey and Louise Carey, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13272-6.
Fantasy set in 1740 Austria and a garrison posted at a village near the Prussian border has disappeared… Que the ghosts. Carey is well known for his Hellblazer graphic novels and also the Lucifer series. Now it seems as if he has brought the family in on the act with Linda and Louise. Could be interesting

Lost Girls by Lilian Carmine, Ebury Press, £6.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95342-3.
Second in the 'Lost Boys' trilogy. Should appeal to Twilight fans.

Path of the Archon by Andy Chambers, Black Library, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-849-70590-5.
Final in the Dark Path trilogy.

The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell, Tor, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-447-26206-0.
Urban fantasy. Sequel to London Falling. Detective Inspector James Quill and his wily squad of supernatural crime-busters are coming to terms with their new-found second sight. They have a handle on the ghosts and ghouls, but the rest of London’s supernatural underworld is still scarily unknown. When a seemingly invisible murderer kills a top cabinet minister in mysterious circumstances, the team knows this is a case for them.

A Dance of Shadows by David Dalglish, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50281-6.
Book Four of the 'Shadowdance' sequence. When Lord Victor Kane attacks the city, determined stamp out all corruption, foreign gangs pour in amidst the chaos in an attempt to overthrow the current lords of the underworld. And when a mysterious killer known as the Widow begins mutilating thieves, paranoia engulfs the city. Haern knows someone is behind the turmoil, pulling strings. If he doesn’t find out who – and soon – his beloved city will burn.

Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson, Tor, £16.99, hrdbk. 978-1-447-25236-8.
A debut science fantasy apparently in the vein of China Miéville and Paulo Bacigalupi. A blend of science fantasy, A hundred years ago, the Minotaurs saved Caeli-Amur from conquest. Now, three very different people may hold the keys to the city’s survival. Rjurik Davidson is a winner of the Ditmar Award as 'Best New Talent' and the Aurealis Award for his short fiction. His first book was a collection The Library of Forgotten Books.

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales by Steven Erikson, Bantam, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-857-50065-6.
Three novellas. 'The Devil Delivered': In the breakaway Lakota Nation, in the heart of a land blistered beneath an ozone hole the size of the Great Plains of North America, a lone anthropologist wanders the deadlands, recording observations that threaten to bring the world’s powers to their knees.  'Revolvo': In the fictitious country of Canada, the arts scene is ruled by technocrats who thrive in a secret, nepotistic society of granting agencies, bursaries, and peer review boards, all designed to permit self-proclaimed artists to survive without an audience.  'Fishing with Grandma Matchie': A children’s story of a boy tasked with a writing assignment becomes a stunning fantastical journey with his tale-spinning grandmother.  Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.

Assail by Ian C. Esslemont, Transworld, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-409-04334-8.
Tens of thousands of years of ice is melting, and the land of Assail, long a byword for menace and inaccessibility, is at last yielding its secrets. Tales of gold discovered in the region’s north circulate in every waterfront dive and sailor’s tavern and now adventurers and fortune-seekers have set sail in search of riches. And all they have to guide them are legends and garbled tales of the dangers that lie in wait - hostile coasts, fields of ice, impassable barriers and strange, terrifying creatures…

A Tale of Tales by David Farland, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-841-49844-7.
Book nine of the 'Runelords' sequence.  The great war with the Wyrmling Hordes is over, and mankind has lost. Lord Despair has gathered an army of fell creatures, and is planning to unleash them like a wildfire across the stars.

King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist, Voyager, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-007-26485-8.
Arthurian style fantasy and the first in a new series from a master of epic sword and sorcery tales.

Magician's End by Raymond E. Feist, Voyager, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-007-26480-3.
This story follows the fate of Pug following the last book of the Rift War cycle, but apparently can be read as a stand-alone.

The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde, Hodder, £11.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-444-70727-4.
The third in Jasper Fforde’s 'Last Dragonslayer' series – his first works for children, with his trademark magic and invention. The Mighty Shandar, the world’s most powerful wizard, returns to the Ununited Kingdoms. Clearly, he didn’t solve the Dragon Problem, and is being asked to return his fee: eighteen dray-weights of gold. But the Mighty Shandar doesn’t do refunds, and instead vows to put an end to the now friendly beasts – unless Jennifer Strange and her sidekicks from the Kazam house of enchantment can bring him the legendary Eye of Zoltar.

The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher, Orbit, £13.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50289-2.
Only five still guard the border between the worlds. And when they fall, so do we all. The Oversight is a gothic fantasy billed as appealing to fans of Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

Biblical by Christopher Galt, Quercus, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-780-87480-7.
All around the world people are having visions from the past. Then they begin to turn apocalyptic. But one psychiatrist may have the answer… Apparently Quercus say that 'Galt' is a pseudonym for a well-known author.

Hawk Queen: The Omnibus Edition by David Gemmell, Orbit, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50376-9.
See also news of many Gemmell reprints over the summer in the author news section above and Caz's review of Shield of Thunder.

City by Stella Gemmell, Transworld, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-552-16895-3.
The City is ancient and vast and has been waging almost constant war for centuries. At its heart resides the emperor. Few have ever seen him. Those who have remember a man in his prime - and yet he should be very old. Some speculate that he is no longer human, others wonder if indeed he ever truly was. And a few have come to a desperate conclusion: that the only way to halt the emperor's unslakeable thirst for war is to end his unnaturally long life.

A Shiver of Light by Laurell K. Hamilton, Transworld, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-593-06746-8.
I am Princess Meredith NicEssus. Legal name Meredith Gentry, because Princess looks so pretentious on a driver's license. I was the first faerie princess born on American soil, but I wouldn’t be the only one for much longer...  The multi-million copy selling author of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series makes her long-awaited (since 2009) return to the dangerously addictive and scarily sensual world of former investigator, now faerie princess, Merry Gentry...

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, Headline, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-755-38477-8.
The final in the 'All Souls' trilogy sees Diana and the vampire scientist Matthew return to the present. Warner have green-lit a film adaptation.

Righteous Fury – The Legends of the Alfar: Book 1 by Marcus Heitz, Jo Fletcher Books, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-780-87588-3.
From the best selling author of The Dwarves.

Tarzan. Vol. 1 In the City of Gold: The Complete Burne Hogarth Sundays and Dailies Library by Burne Hogarth and Don Garden, £29.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-781-16317-7.
Graphic novel collection. A rare vintage compilation and a must for serious comics collectors.

Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20545-1.
Fantasy Masterwork latest edition, and this is a real (we were going to say 'urban' fantasy) rural fantasy classic.  Deep within the wildwood lies a place of myth and mystery, from which few return, and none remain unchanged. Ryhope Wood may look like a three-mile-square fenced-in wood in rural Herefordshire on the outside, but inside, it is a primeval, intricate labyrinth of trees, impossibly huge, unforgettable… and stronger than time itself. Stephen Huxley has already lost his father to the mysteries of Ryhope Wood. On his return from the Second World War, he finds his brother, Christopher, is also in thrall to the mysterious wood, wherein lies a realm where mythic archetypes grow flesh and blood, where love and beauty haunt your dreams, and in promises of freedom lies the sanctuary of insanity…

The Outsorcerer's Apprentice by Tom Holt, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50254-0.
Comic fantasy. See also Julie's review of Holt's Paint Your ragon.

Sworn in Steel Book 2: A Tale of Kin by Douglas Hulick, Tor, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-033-052621-9.
It’s been three months since Drothe killed a legend and unexpectedly elevated himself into the ranks of the underworld elite. Now, as the newest Gray Prince managing the city’s underbelly, he’s learning how good he used to have it.

Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human, Arrow, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-099-58077-5.
Billed as Neil Gaiman meets Tarantino in Cape Town's supernatural underworld.

Justice by Ian Irvine, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-841-49830-0.
This is the finale to Ian Irvine’s fantasy epic 'The Tainted Realm' trilogy, a series billed as for fans of Terry Brooks, Robin Hobb and Terry Goodkind.

Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta, Voyager, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-007-52991-9.
A woman holds a secret that can save her family but doom her village.

Kontakt: An Anthology of Croatian SF edited by Tatjana Jambrisak and Darko Macan, Wizard Tower Press, e-book. ISBNs: EPUB: 978-1-908-03932-1, and MOBI: 978-1-908-03933-0.
We don't normally list e-books (or small press titles as we do not have the resources to do a vaguely comprehensive job and anyway the lists would be impenetrably long) but this is arguably a little special and so we flag it here in case you missed it from the specialist websites. This Croatian SF anthology was originally published in paperback for the 2012 the European Science Fiction Convention (Eurocon) in Zagreb, Croatia, where it was given away free to members, and was an immediate hit. "We wanted to present the best Croatian genre stories to the English-speaking audiences, the intention was to showcase Croatian science fiction and fantasy fiction to the wider world," said Darko Macan. All the stories are translated into English, and many of the authors have won Croatian national genre literary awards. Of the twelve stories in the book, two have already achieved recognition outside of Croatia. 'The Corridor' by Darko Macan won the Lapis Histriae, an international short story competition open to writers from Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro. 'Every Time We Say Goodbye', by Zoran Vlahovi, received an honourable mention in the 2013 Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards. Until now, the anthology has never been generally available for sale.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, Transworld, £12.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-59-307269-1.
Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother – Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent. However he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme.  Debut novel.

Parasites Like Us by Adam Johnson, Transworld, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-50906-1.
After trashing his cherry '72 Corvette, illegally breaking into an ancient burial site, and snacking on 12,000-year-old popcorn, Hank Hannah finds that he's inadvertently unleashed the apocalypse. Hank, a professor of anthropology back in the days when there were still co-eds to ogle and now one of only twelve humans still alive on earth, decides to record the last days of human civilization for whomever - or whatever - might replace us.

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay, Harper, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-007-52193-7.
Think, a Chinese kind of Game of Thrones.

Innocence by Dean Koontz, Harper, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-51804-3.
Stand-alone supernatural thriller.

The City by Dean Koontz, Harper, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-007-52028-2
Stand-alone supernatural thriller.

Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff, Tor, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-20050-5.
The author is billed as beginning to become a bit of a rising star. This is the second in the 'Lotus Wars' sequence loosely based on Shogun history.

Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence, Voyager, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-007-53153-0.
New epic fantasy and book one of the 'Red Queen War'. It is though set in the same universe as 'Broken Empire'.

Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, Voyager, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-007-50398-8.
The conclusion of the Broken Empire sequence.

Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard, Headline, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-472-21485-0.
Love, destiny and dragons… A debut novel.

Last Night by Stephen Leather, Hodder, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-444-74268-8.
Fantasy thriller and the fifth outing for Jack Nightingale, the lad whose father sold his soul to the devil. Apparently the trade word is that Leather's sales of his Nightingale books are slowly and steadily building.

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, Jo Fletcher Books, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-780-87168-4.
A journey of survival and destiny.

The Three by Sarah Lotz, Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-444-77036-0.
Black Thursday. The day that will never be forgotten. The day that four passenger planes crash at four different points around the globe. There are only four survivors. Three are children, who emerge from the wreckage seemingly unhurt. But they are not unchanged. And the fourth is Pamela May Donald, who lives just long enough to record a voice message on her phone. A message that will change the world. The message is a warning.

Falling Apart by Jane Lovering, Choc Lit, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-781-89113-1.
2nd in the vampire and zombie series set in New York.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-08446-9
Lynch's long-awaited third 'Gentleman Bastards' high-fantasy caper novel (after 2007's The Lies of Locke Lamora and 2008's Red Seas Under Red Skies) abundantly delivers on the promise of the earlier volumes. Quick-witted protagonist Locke is slowly succumbing to poison as his loyal companion, Jean, tries to find someone who can save him. The price of rescue gets the duo involved in running an election campaign in the city-state of Karthain, where the parties are fronts for two factions of terrifyingly powerful mages…

Reign of Ash by Gail Z. Martin, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-841-49916-1.
Book Two of the Ascendant Kingdoms saga. Blaine McFadden survived six years in the brutal Velant prison colony, exiled for murder. When war devastates his homeland of Donderath, it also destroys the intentional magic on which Donderath and its fellow kingdoms rely…  See also Jonathan's stand-alone review of Gail's The Summoner.

The Crimson Campaign by Brian McCellan, Orbit, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50202-1.
After overthrowing the King Adro, the powder mage Field Marshal Tama has been drawn into a war against the invading kingdom of Kez…. It is a sort of fantasy Napoleonic war story.

The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead, Penguin, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-405-913658-4.
This is the second in the 'Age of X' series and is from the author of the healthy-selling, juvenile fantasy ''Vampire Academy' books.

The Remaining: Aftermath by D. J. Molles, Orbit, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50347-9.

The Remaining: Fractured by D. J. Molles, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50350-9.

Crown of Renewal by Elizabeth Moon, Orbit, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50130-7.
Book Five of 'Paladin’s Legacy'.  Count Jeddrin has received a grisly message. His son, Filis, is dead, brutally killed by Alured the Black – the first move in his plan to take the eight kingdoms. But Filis managed to send his own message, telling of the dark forces that control Alured, warning of something more than human behind the man’s eyes...

Banquet for the Damned by Adam Nevill, Pan Books, £7.99. ISBN 978-010447-24092-1
Horror. This is a re-release of Nevill's first novel: no, not Apartment 16, but Banquet for the Damned that was first published by PS Publishing and then Virgin Horror before that imprint died. This new mass-market paperback release is actually a revised edition with additional material.

Acolyte by Seth Patrick, Tor, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-230-76508-5.
The second in the supernatural thriller sequence following Reviver. There has been a lot of buzz about this series. A woman is brutally and unusually murdered in an alleyway. Strange shadows are appearing on people’s shoulders. Could there be a link?

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy, Hodder, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-444-72502-5.
Clare is a lycan but only realises that true danger that this represents to herself when her parents are killed by government agents. Werewolf thriller.

Murder by Sarah Pinborough, Jo Fletcher Books, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1780-87234-6.
A supernatural mystery sequel to Mayhem.

She Who Waits by Daniel Polansky, Hodder, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-444-72141-6.
The third in the dark fantasy Low Town series.

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett, Gollancz, £9.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20532-1.
Part of the Gollancz's new, very welcome, series of Discworld reprints. If you are an old Pratchett fan this is the time to get them in a standard livery and in affordable hardback. If you are relatively new to Discworld then this is part of your chance to get the lot. You might also be lucky and get them singed at this year's Worldcon.

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett, Gollancz, £9.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20533-8.
Part of the Gollancz's new, very welcome, series of Discworld reprints.

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett, Gollancz, £9.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20027-2.
Part of the Gollancz's new, very welcome, series of Discworld reprints.

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett, Gollancz, £9.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20028-9.
Part of the Gollancz's new, very welcome, series of Discworld reprints.

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett, Gollancz, £9.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20026-5.
Part of the Gollancz's new, very welcome, series of Discworld reprints.

Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50045-4.
Actually we don't know whether this is SF or fantasy: so this might be in the wrong listing. Stan has often referred to our needing to return to the Neolithic but with dental care as a way of living sustainably on the planet. He is known for his SF. This could be a fictional but set in reality story. Unlike his last book, 2312, set in an interplanetary future, this one is set thousands of years ago in what was the last glacial maximum. (Stan also knows about climate change with his Capitol Hill trilogy.) Whatever it is, it is bound to be speculative fiction.

Legion / Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-11634-4.
Two rather good fantasy novels in a single book.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, Bloomsbury, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-408-83645-3.
Set in 2059 and a dreamwalker is imprisoned by the Rephaites.

The Sky Pirates: Chronicles of Light and Shadow by Liesel Schwarz, Del Rey, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95072-9.
Steampunk, the third in the 'Chronicles of Light and Shadow' series that began with A Conspiracy of Alchemists.

A Clockwork Heart by Liesel Schwarz, Del Rey, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95071-2.
The paperback release of the second in the series (see previous above book).

Angel City by Jon Steele, Transworld, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-552-16456-6.
Click on title link for a stand-alone review.  Jay Harper, one of the last 'angels' on Planet Earth, is hunting down the half-breeds and goons who infected Paradise with evil. Intercepting a plot to turn half of Paris into a dead zone, Harper ends up on the wrong side of the law and finds himself a wanted man. That doesn't stop his commander, Inspector Gobet of the Swiss Police, from sending him back to Paris on a recon mission... a mission that uncovers a truth buried in the Book of Enoch.

The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross, Orbit, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50253-3.
The fifth in the 'Laundry Files' series of supernatural spook (spy) books that includes The Fuller Memorandum.

Theatre of the Gods by M. Suddain, Vintage, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-099-57564-1.
Children on a ship entering a frightening dimension. Apparently this is a bit like an Adams/Pratchett crossover.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor, Hodder, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-444-72272-7.
The final in 'The Daughter of Smoke and Bone' trilogy. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz. At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

Sphinx by James Thorton, Barbican Press, £12.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-956-33644-6.
The secrets of ancient Egypt are alive beneath modern Cairo.

The Fall of Arthur by J. R. R. Tolkien, Harper Collins, £10.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-48996-1.
A tale of the final days of the English king. This will undoubtedly be a mega-seller.

Anarchy by James Treadwell, Hodder, £6.9, pbk. ISBN 978-1-444-72854-5.
The second in the magical Advent trilogy.

The Way of Shadows: The Graphic Novel by Brent Weeks, Orbit, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50323-3.
The perfect killer has no friends, only targets. For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned the hard way to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint. But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler, Del Rey, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95060-6.
In the vein of Games of Thrones.

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

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

 

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

Summer 2014

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

Marvel Encyclopaedia by Anonymous, Dorling Kindersley, £30, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-409-34573-2.
DK are publishers of lavish and colourfully illustrated books, so this could well be for you if you are into Marvel comics.

Introduction to Japanese Horror Film by Colette Balmain, Edinburgh U. Press, £19.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-748-68393-2.

Missing Microbes: How killing bacteria creates modern plagues by Martin Blaser, One World, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-780-74441-4.

Superintelligence: The coming machine intelligence revolution by Nick Bostrom, Oxford University Press, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-199-67811-2.
So what will happen to us humans when a Skynet comparable intelligence arises? Intelligent machines – pipe dream or real threat?

The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell, Bodley Head, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-847-92227-4.
This is a bit of a departure for Lewis. He is a microbiologist more used to seeing how microbes survive in a simulated Martian environment. With this book he looks at what knowledge base would you need to survive a global catastrophe that ended our global society.

The Numberverse by Andrew Day and Peter Woreley, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-845-90889-8.
Aimed at those who do not like maths. It covers everything from percentages to maths use in things like barcodes.

The Wisdom of Myths by Luc Ferry, Harper Collins, £10.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-062-21545-1.
A fascinating summary tour of Greek mythology.

The Improbable Primate: How water shaped evolution by Clive Finlayson, Oxford University Press, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-199-65879-4.
Leaving the forest, humans chances the open savannah at mid-day when large carnivores took shelter from the sun. And so they lost hair and developed sweating. Being close to fresh water was vital. But as the climate dried humans had to range further quickly and so became taller and slimmer as well as – to remember where water sources were at different times and to elude predation – become smarter.

Is the Planet Full? edited by Ian Golden, Oxford University Press, hrdbk, £30. ISBN 978-0-199-67777-1.
Ten people at the top of their very different fields give their perspectives on this critical question for the 21st century.

Too Much Information: or Can Everyone Just Shut Up for a Moment, Some of us are Trying to Think by Dave Gorman, Ebury, £11.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-091-92849-0.
Now if you have not come across Dave Gorman then to say he is a comedian is to do him a disservice. True his television programmes and documentaries very much have their funny side, but he is more a master of quirk and observer of oddity. The advance publicity on this is a bit thin, but on past form alone this title is recommended. (He is bound to have some YouTube clips on line: why not check them out?

Writing for Television: Series, serials and soaps by Yvonne Grace, Creative Essentials, £16.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-843-44337-7.
No-nonsense guide to the television industry for aspiring writers.

The Message by Naomi Keith, Allen Lane, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-846-14450-5.
What climate change tells us about how our species must evolve and spur transformational political change.

Spanish Horror Film by Antonio Lazaro-Reboll, Edinburg University Press, £19.99, pbk. 978-0-748-63639-6.

The Future: The Next Evolution of Gaia by James Lovelock, Allen Lane, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-846-14607-7.
Lovelock originated the biospheric theory of 'Gaia' that the Earth is one single cybernetic system: a theory that was at first widely criticised but now more accepted than not by the scientific community especially those into the specialism of 'Earth systems science' (or biosphere science as it sometimes used to be called). He is now getting on so this may well be his last significant book. It looks at how humanity is having a deterministic impact on the Earth system (or Gaia) and it is up to us to decide what this should be in the future.

Underlands by Ted Neild, Granta, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-847-708671-6.
This is a geological tour under Britain and very much home turf for Ted who is editor of the Geological Society's Geoscientist magazine. Ted is also a past SF2 Concatenation contributor and author of Supercontinent:Ten Billion Years in the Life of our Planet and Incoming!: Or Why We Should Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Meteorite .

Merchants of Menace: The Business of Horror Cinema by Richard Nowell (ed), Bloomsbury Academic, £21.99,pbk. ISBN 978-2-623-56420-9.

Stephen King Films FAQ: All that's left to know about the king of horror by Scott Von Doviak, Applause Theatre, £20.95, pbk. ISBN 978-1-480-35551-4.

Lucky Planer: Why the Earth is Exceptional and What that means for Life in the Universe by David Waltham, Icon Books, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-848-31656-0.
The Earth is an amazing fluke. (So we are probably a lone technological intelligence in the Galaxy.

Star-Craving Mad: Tales from a Travelling Astronomer by Fred Watson, Allen Unwin, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-174-237376-8.

Why a Woman Can't be More like a Man by Lewis Wolpert CBiol FIBiol, Faber & Faber, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-571-27924-1.
Lewis is a biologist and author of a number of popular science books. With this one he moves more into Jack Cohen CBiol FIBiol territory and the biology of gender and sex. Men are fundamentally modified females.

 

Brian now has autographed copies of -- Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide by Jonathan Cowie & Tony Chester, Porcupine Books, pbk, 272pp. ISBN 0-954-91490-2. E-mail Brian (follow the Porcupine Books link) first to check availability. Also Essential is now available from Amazon.   Jump to the new specific Amazon link earlier on (but it's cheaper from Porcupine). If you enjoy Concat then you can support us by getting this book either for yourself or a friend and there are postage discounts for getting more than one copy and a further discount is available if buying several for an SF group or SF class.  +++ STOP PRESS: Those going to the 2014 Worldcon will be able to get discounted copies from the Porcupine stall in the dealers area and without the postal charge, that's a great saving. The book is an invaluable check list for SF book collectors wanting to include pre-2004 fan-voted and proven-by time, long-in-print SF works in their collection.

 

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

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

 

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

Summer 2014

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Poster Pack: Cult Movies – A Collection of Retro Posters, Carlton Books, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-780-97474-3.
Posters of past SF, sci fi and horror films (and movies).

Godzilla: The Official Movie Novelization by Greg Cox, Titan Books, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-783-29094-9.

Star Wars: Crucible by Troy Denning, Arrow Books, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-099-54393-3.
Hans, Luke and Leia feature in this one.

Gerry Anderson's Gemini Force One, Black Horizon by M. G. Harris, Gollancz, £25, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20819-3
This is a complete reinvention of the magic formula of adventure and rescue which formed the core of the late Gerry Anderson’s most successful series, Thunderbirds that Gerry never managed to bring to the small screen before he died. Publication will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Thunderbirds.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The Art of the Films by Matt Hurwitz, Titan Books, £24.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-783-29197-7.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The Official Movie Prequel by Greg Keyes, Titan, £7.99, pbk. 978-1-783-29225-7. But would Pierre Boule approve of this novel…?

Dr Who: Harvest of Time by Alastair Reynolds, BBC Books, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-849-90741-9.
What more could you want? A Dr Who novel by Britain's top extant writer of space opera. Wow! Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.

The Twilight Zone FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Fifth Dimension and Beyond by Gabriel Ruzin, Applause Theatre, £20.95, pbk. ISBN 978-01-480-30549-6.
A comprehensive look at the 1960s television series.

Star Wars: Maul – Lockdown by Joe Schreiber, Century, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-846-05698-7.
This is the follow-up to Darth Plague.

Dr Who: The Wit and Wisdom of Doctor Who by Canavan Scott and Mark Wright, BBC Books, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-849-90768-2.
Wise words from the script writers good Doctor.

Star Wars: Dark Times Vol. 7 – Spark Remains by Randy Stradley and Douglas Wheatley, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-783-29215-8.
Graphic novel.

Art of How to Train Your Dragon 2 by Linda Sunshine, Harper Collins, £25, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-062-32335-4.

 

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

Summer 2014

SELECTED FORTHCOMING DVD RELEASES

The Day The Earth Stood Still - Limited Edition Steelbook [1951] £18.50 Blu-ray and UV version from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The classic first contact film. An alien saucer lands in the middle of Washington capturing the attention of the world. But the peaceful alien emissary (Michael Rennie) it brings fails to earn the public’s trust. When a young woman and her son befriend him, they soon realise they may be all that stands between the human race and total destruction.

Revolution - Season 2 £19.50 DVD from Warner Home Video.
The series continues in a world suddenly devoid of electricity…

Skyhook £11 DVD from Point Blank.
The challenge is in finding a practical method to transport man, equipment and resources from earth to orbit. In SkyHook, a team of scientists compete to build the world s first space elevator and find themselves up against an evil corporate mercenary in this science fiction espionage extravaganza of deals and death.

Vanishing Waves £10.25 DVD from Autonomy Pictures.
A truly fresh, slightly erotic and highly original take on the genre. When a young researcher volunteers for a sensory deprivation experiment he is tasked with communicating with a comatose woman. Soon, through these unorthodox means, the subject and the scientist begin to develop an unlikely emotional and sexual bond. As things develop further, the waters begin to muddy and their unique relationship is threatened by external and more Earthbound forces…

 

See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect this year, check out our forthcoming film diary.

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

 

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

Summer 2014

R.I.P.

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

Aaron Allston, the US writer, has died aged just 53. He was a genre journalist and notably was editor of Space Gamer and then founding editor of Fantasy Gamer. He wrote supplements for role-playing games. More recently he made a name for himself writing Star Wars X-Wing novels and additionally several other Star Wars spin-off novels.  He had a heart attack in 2009 and has not really been himself since. He had another at VisionCon but never recovered.

Neal Barrett, Jr, the US fantasy and SF author, has died aged 84. His short story 'Ginny Sweethips’ Flying Circus' (1989), was nominated (made the short list) for a Hugo and a Nebula. His novels include The Gates of Time (1970), The Leaves of Time (1971), Highwood (1972), Stress Pattern (1974), The Karma Corps (1984), The Hereafter Gang (1991), Interstate Dreams (1999), PIGGS (2001), and Prince of Christler-Coke (2004). He was toastmaster at the San Antonio Worldcon in 1997.

Christopher Barry, the British television director, has died aged 88. In addition to directing for Dr Who< from its beginnings in 1963 to 1979, he also worked on Out of the Unknown (1965), Moonbase 3 (1973) and The Tripods (1984).

Fred Brammer, the SF fan and geologist, has died aged 86. Though this is the 'science fact' and 'science fiction' concatenation, it is not Brammer's geology that earns him an obit: though certainly that is of interest to SF & SF concateneers. His geological interests related to fossil fuels and he was an expert in natural gas reservoirs. It is his life in fandom that is remarkable both for its quality and longevity. With regards to the former, he played a major role in getting Star Trek into the Smithsonian Museum; no small feat that. And as for the latter, he was in fandom for a very long time and part of America's first fandom. Many longstanding members of US fandom will be doffing their caps at Brammer's passing.

Stepan Chapman, the US writer, has died aged 62. His main output was short stories. His one novel The Troika (1997) won him the Philip K. Dick Award.

Philippe Ebly, the French SF author who lived in Belgium, we only just heard died aged 93 at the end of last year. He wrote juvenile SF and is primarily noted for his two series of books. The first, the 'Fantastic Conquerors' series consist of 19 novels beginning with Destination Uruapan (1971) a further two have not yet been published and require some editorial work. Second, the 'Time Runaways '('Les Evadés du Temps') series of nine novels began with Les Dix Jours Impossibles [The Ten Days Skid] (1988) and only one other remains unpublished.  The 'Fantastic Conquerors' is firmly SF while the 'Time Runaways' is supernatural romance.

Jack Kinzler, the US aerospace engineer, has died aged 93. He was responsible for constructing the full-sized models of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft that were used in preflight tests. He also created the flags and plaques left on the Moon by Apollo astronauts.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Colombian Nobel Literature Prize winner, has died aged 87. His novel One Hundred Years of Solitude sold more than twenty million copies and was translated into more than thirty languages. Some of his work has fantasy, fairy tale supernatural elements. He learned from his grandmother superstitions and folk tales. She told him about dead ancestors, ghosts and spirits dancing round the house, all in a level-headed style that he himself would adopt in his writing.

Steve Moore, the British SF writer, has died aged 64. He is mainly known for writing strips for Doctor Who Weekly and Monthly as well as 2000AD, and being editor of the Fortean Times and Fortean Studies.

William H. Patterson, Jr., the US SF academic, has died aged 62. He had a special interest in Robert Heinlein. He wrote a two-volume biography on Heinlein. The first volume, In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve (2011) was nominated for a Hugo. He founded the Heinlein Journalin 1997 and co-founded the Heinlein Society with Virginia Heinlein in 1998. He was also a conrunner and was on the committee of the 1978 Worldcon.

Juan José Plans, the Spanish SF and horror writer, has died aged 70. He specialized in fantasy, horror, and science fiction, and wrote several short stories. He is particularly known for the radio and TV adaptations of classics in these genres. Plans was translated into many languages and the adaptations of his novel El Juego de los Niños [Children's Game] has appeared in a film re-titled as Quién Puede Matar a un Niño [Who Can Kill a Child?] by director Narciso Ibanez Serrador and it is one of the most important offerings of Spanish horror cinema. It also came out as a second film Come Out and Play.

William Pogue, the US astronaut, has died aged 83. He was a back-up crew member for three Apollo missions but finally got into space with the last of the Skylab missions.

Harold Ramis, the US screenwriter/director, has died aged 69. He acted in Ghostbusters (the bespectacled Ghostbuster scientist on the team) and was writer/director for Groundhog Day among other films. He had been suffering from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis for several years.

Alan Rodgers, the US writer, has died aged 54. His short story, 'The Boy who Came Back from the Dead', was a World Fantasy Award nominee and Stoker Award winner. His novel Bone Music (1995) was a Stoker nominee. He was associate editor at The Twilight Zone (1984-87) and solo editor of spin-off magazine Night Cry (1985-87).

Lorenzo Semple jnr., the US screenwriter, has died aged 91. He worked on the 1960s Batman television series. His genre films contributions included Flash Gordon (1980).

Lucius Shepard, the US writer, has died aged 66. His first full-length novel, Green Eyes (1984), was set in the swamp forests of the American Deep South where a research organization has successfully created Zombies by injecting cadavers with bacteria from a graveyard. His debut garnered him a John W Campbell Award in 1985. His third novel, The Golden(1993), won a Locus Award, is essentially a vampire tale. He was the author of over half a dozen novels in all and wrote many short stories. From 2000 until last year (2013) he had a regular column on fantastic film in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Much of his short fiction was collected in The Best of Lucius Shepard (2008).

Alejandro Zaffaroni, the scientist cum entrepreneur, has died aged 91. Originally from Uruguay but spending much of his life in the US, he specialised in chemistry and biochemistry. His early work on steroids led to the first synthesis of the steroid hormone cortisone. This work continued with the pharmaceutical company Syntex and helped it grow. Then in the early 1960s he created a subsidiary in Palo Alto, California. He developed skin delivery of pharmaceuticals and in the late '60s then founded the ALZA Corporation to commercialise this work where he developed a patch for motion sickness, and then nicotine patches. His career was long and varied but a testimony of his influence is exemplified by the statistic that over 40 ALZA employees went on to ultimately become chief executives of other companies. In 1980 he established the DNAX Research Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology in Palo Alto with three others, two of whom were Nobel winners. He kept a low profile but his impact on bio-industry let alone society was considerable.

 

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

Summer 2014

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

'Science Fiction Stories with Good Astronomy & Physics' is an on-line index for educational purposes that has now been updated. Topics cover 'anti-matter', 'archaeoastronomy', 'asteroids' and 'astronomers' through to 'time', 'Uranus' (and its Satellites) and 'Venus'. It has been compiled Andrew Fraknoi (of Foothill College in the US). It is a selective list of some short stories and novels that use more or less accurate science and can be used for teaching or reinforcing astronomy or physics concepts. Andrew welcomes suggestions for additions to this list, especially if your favourite story with good science is left out. You can find it at www.astrosociety.org/education/astronomy-resource-guides/science-fiction-stories-with-good-astronomy-physics-a-topical-index/. Do let any science teacher friends you may have know.

Google has bought the London-based artificial intelligence company DeepMind. DeepMind's approach is to use neuroscience to inspire computer algorithms. Google has recently been hiring a number of artificial intelligence (A.I.) researchers. Of course we are a long way away (though possibly only decades) away from true Turing A.I. (and where Hal locks you out of your house). However artificial semi-intelligence could be used with voice and picture recognition, hence Google search engines.

Space smartphone game helps hunt for cancer genes. A new British space game, called Play to Cure: Genes in Space, players navigate their spaceships safely around many obstructions while on a fast-paced mission to collect a precious material known as Element Alpha. All well and good, but the obstacles they have to navigate around, and the valleys they travel through, are created due to an interpretation of human genomes. The thing is that this landscape in the genetic sense hides areas that code for cancer genes. By flying through the landscape the smartphone is in effect charting the landscape and so helping identify parts of the genome where cancer genes might lie.  Now, it could in theory be possible for a computer programme to do this charting, but actually humans (at the moment) are better at this. The map each player plots is then sent to scientists for interpretation. As more people highlight the peaks and troughs, scientists are alerted to these as areas worth further exploration. The game draws on the largest genetic study into breast cancer, carried out in 2012, which changed the framework of how breast cancer is seen, from one broad disease into a disease of 10 different subtypes. From the vast data gathered during this research, scientists search for areas of abnormalities known as copy number variations. This is where sections of genetic material are either gained or lost; these are known to be particularly important in the development of cancer. The project was developed by Cancer research UK.

The film Gravity is not 'sci-fi' says director Alfonso Cuaron. Actually we tend to agree with him using 'sci-fi' in its strictest sense: strictly Gravity is a techno-thriller with a mundane SF riff. However, Alfonso Cuaron was using 'sci-fi' in its sense as a synonym for 'science fiction'. "To be honest, I never thought I was doing a science fiction movie,' he said. 'I thought I was doing a drama of a woman in space.' Right, so SF can't involve a drama of a woman in space?!  Alfonso may have been worried because SF films have not done as well as they might and his comments were prior to those awards. In 2010, District 9 and 3D juggernaut Avatar both lost out to low-budget bomb disposal drama The Hurt Locker. The following year, Inception lost to The King's Speech. Cuaron conceded, 'But you have 2001 [A Space Odyssey] and I don't think you can go more serious than that.' Yet even 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was nominated for four Oscars, only received one. (2001 did not even get nominated for that year's category for 'Make-up' which went to Planet of the Apes as the Hollywood voters thought Kubrick used real apes.)  Yet Cuaron need not have worried as Gravity won multiple Oscars and has been short-listed for a Hugo.

A second attempt to clone an extinct animal is to be made. The Pyrenean Ibex (Capra pyrenaica), from Spain's central Pyrenees, went extinct in 2000. A group is trying to resurrect the species by cloning cells from the remains of its last living member. A previous attempt in 2003 failed, but renewed interest in 'de-extinction' in general as well as a financial donation is enabling this second attempt (Science vol. 344, p137-8).

Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864) portrayed oceans beneath the Earth's surface. Now it seems as if there are oceans worth of water locked in rocks hundreds of miles beneath the surface. The traditional view has been that the majority of the Earth's water is in the oceans with a small proportion locked in minerals and in subterranean aquifers and another small proportion of freshwater in rivers and lakes. Now a small international team lead by Prof Pearson have found water bound (2.5%) in the mineral ringwoodite in diamond formed at a depth of 320 miles (520 km). This is direct evidence that the transition zone between the upper and lower mantle (at least at this one place) is hydrous. This could be because water is carried there by downward thrusting plate margins carrying the water to such depths. If the effect is general (not a local exception) then it means that there could be 1.4 x 10 kg of water at such depths: that is an amount on a par with all the Earth's oceans (Nature, 2014, 507, 221-224 and see also a discussion Nature, 507, 174-5).  If water is a key part of the tectonic cycling process, and if such a vast amount exists, speculating a little it could mean that water is an intrinsic key part of the Earth system and not just a late addition brought in by comets. This in turn has implications for Earth-like planets elsewhere in the galaxy. It could be that most Earths have more water, with the Earth's water reduced by the planetesimal encounter that resulted in the formation of the Moon. If so, more other Earth-like planets could be completely covered by ocean with few actually having land. But this last is speculating wildly. Meanwhile ringwoodite is expected to form deep in Mars against its metallic core.

DNA nano-robots have been animal tested. Researchers at Bar-Ilan University (Israel) have created folds of DNA that open and close and do this in response to their environment as well as coordinatedly with each other. When tested in the cockroach (Blaberus discoidalis), different combinations of these 'nano-bots' created seven kinds of logic gate and their associated outcomes such as releasing an antibody payload. There are a number of potential uses for these nano-bots including site specific drug delivery in humans such as for cancer tumour treatment (Nature Nanotechnology dx.doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2014.58).

Lost Einstein papers found that could have supported astronomer Royal and SF author Fred Hoyle's steady-state Universe theory. A manuscript in Einstein's archives from 1931 lay unnoticed: it did not help that it had been misfiled. It's importance has now been recognised thanks to physicist Cormac O'Raifeartaigh from Ireland. It shows that Einstein had still been seriously considering a steady-state Universe in 1931 even though others and Hubble had discovered evidence in the 1920s of cosmic expansion (presumably from a then more-hypothetical big bang). Had this paper been known, it would have lent more credibility to Fred Hoyle's own case for a steady-state Universe in the 1950s. Einstein himself seems to have found a mathematical error in his paper (crossed out with a different colour ink) and presumably at that point stopped working on it. Aside from being the astronomer Royal and discoverer of enhanced carbon synthesis in stars, Hoyle was also an SF author and noted for The Black Cloud (1957).

The disgraced Korean cloning researcher Woo Suk Hwang has had a final verdict. The cloning researcher had previously been convicted for embezzlement in addition to other sins including bioethical violations. However, an earlier appeal would have forced Seoul National University to re-instate the researcher. Now the South Korean Supreme Court has upheld a 2010 ruling so that the university will not now have to take him back.

Director of the Office of Research Integrity (USA) resigns in protest and woeful standards. Davids Wright, described as mild-mannered, 'courteous' and 'polite', by the journal Nature has resigned in protest over standards. "I'm offended as an American taxpayer that the Federal bureaucracy – at least the part I have laboured in – is so profoundly dysfunctional," he said in his resignation letter to the US Assistant Secretary of Health.  The ORI is a key organisation ensuring research standards and preventing scientific fraud (fictionalising science): something vital in a technologically based society with a large knowledge-based economic sector. The problem seems to be that senior governmental levels in the US do not take the ORI as seriously as they might and give it the support it warrants.  Coincidentally, the National Academy of Sciences happens to be conducting its first study on US research integrity for 20 years.

16 nonsense (or is it non-science?) research papers have been taken down by the science journal publisher Springer. The gibberish science papers were generated by a computer package called SCIgen bt computer scientist Cyril Labbé of the Joseph Fourier University, France. The US Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers has taken down over a hundred gibberish papers. The episodes were staged to show how easy it is to subvert peer review. +++ Computers spot computer-generated fake papers. They use stylistic analysis that charts the frequency of use of words and phrases. Normally one assumes human assessment of papers submitted to journals is better than some automated process but it could be that shortly it will become increasingly common for papers submitted to be screened by both humans and separately computers.

Who discovered Downs Syndrome's cause?  Marthe Gautier, the French paediatric cardiologist, feels that she has not been given due recognition for the 1950s discovery of the cause of Down syndrome. She claims she was the first to notice that patients carried an extra chromosome in their cells but her colleague Jérome Lejeune was the first author on a paper about the discovery and which was prepared without Gautier's involvement. Matters recently again came to the fore on 31st January in Bordeaux, when an award ceremony for Gautier was cancelled after the J. Lejeune Foundation sent bailiffs to record Gautier's speech (Science, vol. 343, pp 720-721).

Dalek found in pond. Volunteers clearing a pond in Hampshire, S. England, discovered the head of a dalek buried in the mud. 42 year old volunteer, Marc Oakland said: "I got the shock of my life when a Dalek head bobbed up right in front of me." Apparently the BBC filmed Dr Who in Hampshire on at least one occasion in the 1980s, when Colin Baker played the Timelord. This might be the remains of one of the originals from the old TV series. Reputably they were built to last. Well they would wouldn't they if they were to stand a chance of conquering the Universe.

The Greenwich pips are 90 years old: happy birthday. Now, for those of you from outside of Blighty you may need a word of explanation into this great British institution. Greenwich is the site of the Royal Observatory (a mile or so and within sight of the forthcoming London Worldcon [check out last season's things to do in London]). It determines zero longitude hence Greenwich Mean Time and, as you move away from this meridian, time changes with the time zones (or is it the warping of the very fabric of space: it's one or the other). 90 years ago time in Britain was based upon a device that every hour produced six beeps, the last of these being twice as long and the key beep marking the hour. These beeps, or pips, were designed by John Reith, then head of the BBC, and Frank Watson Dyson, then Astronomer Royal. These pips are broadcast on BBC radio, and February saw their 90th birthday. Happy birthday pips. And maybe those of you going to the Worldcon can visit the site and straddle the eastern and western hemispheres.

Bring on the late summer 2014 and the World SF Convention coming to Britain at the London ExCel.

 

 

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

Summer 2014

End Bits

 

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

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Angel Carralero, Carolina Gomez Lagerlof, Marcin 'Alqua' Klak, David Lally (via Linked-In) and Terry Jackman (via Linked-In). Thanks also go to numerous Brits and other Europeans who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, and not least the very many representatives of SF groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk who sent in news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page.  If you feel that your news, or SF news that interests you, should be here then you need to let us know (as we cannot report what we are not told). :-)

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Autumn 2014 period – needs to be in before the 2nd week August 2014. 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.

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


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