Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Summer 2016

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 2016


It is all go in Europe with preparations of a run of international conventions over the next few years. We have: a seated Worldcon in Helsinki (Finland) in a couple of years time; what is shaping up to be to be a really international Eurocon later this year in Barcelona (Spain); a promising Eurocon I German for 2017 and even preliminary talk of a bid for a British Worldcon for 2014. The countdown commences…
          Meanwhile, back to this edition's news page that includes below the usual SF people filmSF book trade and TV news. Plus there is the usual season's forthcoming Science Fiction (and separately 'Fantasy') booklists. And then there is a good deal of science news all in the mix.  As is customary, to round things off we have several science & SF interface items.  Enjoy.



Staff gatherings over the spring included several members of the team, separately as well as together, seeing the new Star Wars film (predictable, huh?).  And then Tony B. celebrated his 50th at a real-ale gastro-pub in central London. Great beer and some champagne. Excellent, waited buffet… Good company… And a wonderful SFnal birthday cake (see below pic) in the form of Thunderbird 2 that itself recently had its own 50th anniversary in 2015.  F.A.B.


Elsewhere this issue…
Aside from this seasonal news page, elsewhere this issue (vol 26 (3) Summer 2016) we have stand-alone items on:-
          - an article on German Science Fiction since 1945
          - a review of Sasquan – the 2015 World SF Convention
          - our annual 2015/6 Year Top Ten SF/F/H Cinematic Chart
          - our annual SF & science oddities, gossip, exotica and whimsy from the past year to Easter
          - nearly thirty (yes, 30!) new, stand-alone, fiction book reviews,
          - as well as a few non-fiction book reviews.
and a reminder from last time, that as the SF Worldcon business meeting is coming up, a thought on the Hugo Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form: Is it really recognising the full breadth of SF achievement?
See our What's New page for a full listing of articles and reviews recently posted.
          All SFnally sustaining.


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


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

Summer 2016


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 below).

Major SF/F and science news last season includes:  The Twilight Zone to return as a radio seriesDan Dare to go audio and Einstein's gravity waves detected.  While internationally there are concerns that a major Hungarian SF magazine has been flaunting copyright and employment laws.

SF/F & Science Awards news over the Spring (2016) included:  the nominations for the Nebulasnominations for the Ray Bradbury (dramatic presentation) Awardsnominations for the Bram Stoker (horror) Awards, Australia's Aurealis as well as its Dirmar Awards,  Britain's BSFA Awards;  Russia's Bastkon Awards as well as the Mir Fantastika [Fantasy World] magazine 'Best of the Year' works;  and the USA's Philip K. Dick Film Festival Prizes and the Philip K. Dick Award.

Book news of the season – Includes: the latest Harry Potter related bookThe Martian novel does exceptionally well in all-book charts;  news of top SF/F authors' book sales;  and last year's performance of the 'big five' publishers.

Film news of the season – Includes: that of: seasonal box office highlights;  the next Star Wars filmsthe amount of new material in the extended release of The Martian.  Plus we have a number of links to short videos and film trailers, including:  a blast-from-the-past 1993, Jersey Eurocon;  the fun The Pink Five Star wars spoof re-visited;  the short SF film Autonomous;  the brilliant Stealing Time time-travel short film re-visited;  a fun deleted scene from the forthcoming Batman vs. Superman film;  and a Leonard Nimoy interview from before his demise – 'fascinating'!  See the section here.

Television news of the season – IncludesSteven Moffat is leaving Dr Who;  the new Thunderbirds Are Go is coming to the US;  and Stephen King's The Mist may be being made into a TV series.

News of SF and science personalities includes that of: David Brin; Stephen Fry; Neil Gaiman; Sherrilyn Keynon; George R. R. Martin; and Terry Pratchett.

Last season's science news includes:  India gets a science boost western science can only dream ofpossible ninth planet deduced from orbital mechanicslargest planetary system detectedExoMars launchedhow humans ate before fire – evolutionary puzzle solveda way found to avoid becoming allergic to peanutsBritish scientists allowed to edit human genestumour cell proteins now detectablesea eel grass genome betrays terrestrial flower origins;  and that horses can distinguish between happy and sad human faces.

Major past SF event standalone review elsewhere on this site:  the 2015 Worldcon – Sasquan.

Major forthcoming SF event news below includes that of:   the 2016 Worldcon (US);  the 2016 Eurocon (Spain);  the 2017 Eurocon (Germany);  and, being early days, there are currently no nations bidding for the 2019 Eurocon if anyone wants to put a marker down.

Notable SF books due out over the Summer 2016 includes:  Death's End by Liu Cixin;  Gasp by Trevor Hoyle;  The Long Cosmos by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter;  and The Medusa Chronicles by Alastair Reynolds & Stephen Baxter.

Notable SF paperback editions due out this season include:  Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson;  The End of All Things by John Scalzi;  Seveneves by Neal Stephenson and The Way Down Dark by J. P. Smythe.

Notable fantasy due out over the Summer 2016 includes:  The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch;  Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie;  Who Killed Sherlock Holms by Paul Cornell;  Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt;  and The Fireman by Joe Hill. There is also a mass market paperback edition out of The Vorrh by Brian Catling.

The Summer saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These among others included… Scientists: Tony DysonMarvin Minsky;  and Ray Tomlinson.  And SF/F personalities: Sylvia AndersonDavid HartwellDouglas Slocombe;  and Bud Webster.


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 2016



The 2016 Brain prize has been awarded to three British researchers working on memory formation. Using different approaches, Timothy Bliss (Francis Crick Institute), Richard Morris (Edinburgh U.) and Graham Collingridge (Bristol U.) over the past four decades elucidated the mechanism called long-term potentiation that underpins memory by firming connections between particular neurons.  Bliss recorded brain cells in anaesthetised rabbits and found that repeatedly stimulating two connected neurons caused their connection to get stronger.  Collingridge found the specific molecules responsible.  Morris demonstrated that the molecular systems identified by Collingridge were crucial for memory formation.  This is the sixth year of the prize from Denmark's Grete Lundbeck European Brain Foundation and carries with it a cash award of €1 million (£730,000, US$1.1m) and as such is financially slightly bigger that the biennial US$1m neuroscience prize awarded by the Kavli Foundation in the US.

The 2016 Abel Prize for mathematics has gone to Andrew Wiles (now at Oxford U.) for his proof of Fermat's Last Theorum. Following a false start in 1993, in 1995 Andrew Wiles demonstrated that xn + yn = zn does not exist for integers if 'n' is an integer greater than 2.  The prize is administered by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and comes with an endowment of 6 million kroner (£460,000, US$700,000).  +++ See here for last year's Abel Prize win.

STOP PRESS (30th April 2016) The nominations for the 2016 Hugo Awards for 'SF achievement' covering the year 2015 have been announced. The nominations for the principal Hugo categories (those categories attracting 2,000 or more nominators) were:-
Best Novel (3,695 ballots):-
          Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
          The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
          The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
          Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
          Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Best Novella (2,416 ballots):-
          Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
          The Builders by Daniel Polansky
          Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold
          Perfect Stateby Brandon Sanderson
          Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds
Novelette (1,975 ballots):-
          'And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead' by Brooke Bolander
          'Flashpoint: Titan' by CHEAH Kai Wai
          'Folding Beijing' by Hao Jingfang
          'Obits' by Stephen King
          'What Price Humanity?' by David VanDyke
Short Story (2,451 ballots):-
          'Asymmetrical Warfare' by S. R. Algernon
          'The Commuter' by Thomas A. Mays (See 'note' below.)
          'Cat Pictures Please' by Naomi Kritzer
          'If You Were an Award, My Love' by Charles Shao
          'Seven Kill Tiger' by Steven Diamond
          'Space Raptor Butt Invasion' by Chuck Tingle
          Note: Thomas Mays has asked to have his nomination withdrawn.
Best Related Work (2,080 ballots):-
          Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe by Jeffro Johnson
          'The First Draft of My Appendix N Book' by Lou Antonelli
          'Safe Space as Rape Room' by Daniel Eness
          'SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police' by Vox Day
          'The Story of Moira Greyland' by Moira Greyland
Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form (2,904 ballots):-
          Avengers: Age of Ultron
          Ex Machina
          Mad Max: Fury Road
          The Martian
          Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form (2,219 ballots):-
          Dr Who: 'Heaven Sent'
          Grimm: 'Headache'
          Jessica Jones: 'AKA Smile'
          My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: 'The Cutie Map'
          Supernatural: ' Just My Imagination '
The full list of all category nominations (including those that received less than two thousand nominating votes) can be found on
          Last year's Hugo nominations here.

STOP PRESS (30th April 2016) Comment. We at SF² Concatenation seem to be returning to form given that last year not one of our new year of 'Best Books and 'Best Films' got short-listed for a Hugo!  This year we have done better and back to form despite our having a British focus while some of the works nominated have only been published in N.America.  However the Sad and Rabid Puppies are back and their impact on the Hugo's last year was undoubtedly a factor in none of our 'Best of' new year recommendations last year being seemingly appreciated by that year's Hugo nominators. (Re-cap: these, largely N. American, 'Puppy' groups – think, Scalzi suggests, the tea party or Donald Trump supporters of science fiction – aim to game the Hugo Awards by taking out 'supporting memberships' to the Worldcon so as to get Hugo voting rights and then nominating a specific slate of titles from their own favourite writers.)  Anyway, on with the comment, as with last year there is much to discuss:-
          Best Novel:  Back in January we cited The Way Down Dark and Seveneves as two of our choices for the best SF/F books of 2015.  Also Ancillary Mercy and The Fifth Season have separately been nominated for the Nebula.  Turning to the Pups, The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher and Seveneves by Neal Stephenson were on the Rabid Puppies slate and both these together with Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie were on the Sad Puppies slate.  Now, for those of you who read these authors will be aware that Stephenson and Leckie write works that one would not always associate with the right-wing Pups, so what is going on? The answer is that the Pups this year have salted their slates including authors of broader appeal. This really muddies the waters as some Hugo voters will not vote on the merit of works irrespective of how they came to be on the ballot but ignore works they felt came to be on the ballot by slate.  However, as we suggested last year (and others such as George R. R. Martin and John Scalzi also maintain) the only thing voters can do is consider each work on their own merit.  We will return to this a little on below.  Now, as this may be getting a little boring, we will not unpick who nominated what for the other Hugo categories save to mention that we at SF² Concatenation have ourselves been somewhat put on the spot by the Pups with one of the nominations in the 'Short Story' category…
          Short Story:  This year we at SF² Concatenation have been put in a bit of a spot.  Prior to the Hugo nominations announcement – and so completely unconnected to anything Hugo or Puppy related – we chose 'Asymmetrical Warfare' by S. R. Algernon as one of our 'Best of Nature's 'Futures' stories. This is probably the closest we will ever get to the Hugos.  (Actually, something similar has happened before as another of our 'Futures' choices made it into one of the Year's Best SF anthologies a few years ago.)  Meanwhile, in the blogosphere, the short story 'Space Raptor Butt Invasion' by Chuck Tingle is causing little stirrings – not just with it being of the gαy erοtic persuasion and all but – because it was a subversive inclusion by complete outsiders to the Rabid Puppy slate. (The Puppies are sometimes viewed as hοmοphοbic, so some wags took advantage of the public being allowed this year to suggest titles for their slate and enough wags did so for 'Space Raptor Butt Invasion' to appear on a Pup slate.)  So we have a situation in which the Pups try to subvert the Hugos and now the Pups themselves are being subverted. Oh, the irony of it all.  Yet given that all the Hugo nominations for short story have been tainted by the Pups it looks like this year this category again will go to 'no award'.  This is a shame. We think S. R. Algernon's short story has both sense-of-wonder and depth otherwise we would not have selected it as our choice as one of the best 'Futures' story of last year. Do read it and make your own mind up.
          Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form:  All the films Hugo shortlisted this year were in either our Easter-to-Easter 2014/5 or 2015/6 box office top ten SF/F films, so no surprises there.  And four out of the five were in our beginning-of-year choices for best film of the last year. But only two of the films (Ex Machina and The Martian) shortlisted for this year's Hugos do not belong to some pre-existing franchise (be it Marvel Comics, Star Wars or Mad Max).  It is these non-franchise works that do – if the true spirit of the Hugos actually means anything – represent some sort of novel 'SF achievement' (this is a reference to the Worldcon/Hugo constitution's wording). But Worldcon Hugo voters do love their franchises, so who knows who will win?
          Sad and Rabid Puppies:  As mentioned above, this year some of the Puppies allowed the general public to nominate works, and it is this and a deliberate salting of their own slate with works of broader-than-Pup-appeal by the other Pups themselves, that has enabled some of the aforementioned genuinely worthy works to get on their Puppy lists. (The reason for this is that if Hugo voters give 'no award' to some categories, as they did last year then they will be discarding works that might have made it under their own merits: this is a way, some say, that the Puppies can undemine the Hugos.)  So, as a number of commentators (including John Scalzi) have already noted (and which we happily echo), some of this year's Puppy nominations were actually popular outside of Puppy Circles (cf. our annual team choices for 'Best' SF works – something we treat purely as a bit of fun).  Given that such works have popularity broader-than-Puppy appeal, it would be foolish if not irresponsible for Hugo voters to place such Puppy slated works below 'No Award'. Yet some stridents in Worldcon fandom are proposing to do just that. As paraphrased from the film Dark Star, a concept's validity does not depend on where it originates.  Let us hope the moderates and the sensible in Worldcon fandom win the day. As Scalzi says…

Don’t give credit for the Puppies slating already popular work and then acting like they got it on the ballot, or for dragooning unwilling and unwitting people onto their slates for their own purposes. That’s essentially victim blaming. Rather, use your common sense when looking at the work and people nominated.

          Here Scalzi is not the only one with such sentiments: there is also the aforementioned George R. R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson and others, let alone little us.
          So what is being done about all this?  Well, there are two moves by the World SF Society (WSFS) who provide Hugo Award governance: one sensible move and one based on opaque unproven statistics, that were proposed at last year's Worldcon WSFS Business Meeting. These need to be ratified at this year's meeting: we can only hope that the sensible one is approved and the opaque one is shown the door.  Whatever does happen it is likely that the Hugo procedure for the 2017 Worldcon in Helsinki, Finland will change in a way that impedes to some degree or other slate bloc voting.  Meanwhile, the Worldcon Business meeting Chair has just (April 2016) ventured a third possible move in which a large long list of nominations is created by both attending and the (cheaper to buy) supporting members of the Worldcon, this long list would then be voted on only by full attending Worldcon members to give us a short list. This is an intriguing idea, but will it advantage works from that year's Worldcon host nation or N. America (who represent a consistently large Worldcon voting constituency)?  Discussion by members of the Hugo-interested community over the summer will be telling.
          Finally, referenced a few times above in this comment is our (SF² Concatenation's) beginning-of-year best books and best films choices. It is worth emphasising that, like a number of other SF websites and magazines, we have long (well before any Puppy emergence) have been conducting this annual exercise purely as a bit of fun: we are not creating a lobby slate.  Nonetheless, if you do look at these other magazine and site 'best of year' recommendations, the titles of a number of works do re-occur! This arguably says something about these works (irrespective of Puppy slating or not).  You can easily check this out for yourselves as, last season, we compiled a list of links to some of these other 'best ofs'.

The 2016 Nebula Award nominations have been announced for 2015 works. The Nebula Awards are run by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). The Awards themselves will be presented at the Nebula Weekend in June. The principal category is for 'Best Novel' and here the nominations are:-
          Raising Caine by Charles E. Gannon
          The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
          Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
          The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
          Uprooted by Naomi Novik
          Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen
          Updraft by Fran Wilde
Full details of nominations for all the categories can be found at +++ As usual the Nebula's include fantasy as well as SF, and being the SFWA a number of the shortlisted books have so far only been published in N. America. Last year's Nebula Award 'Best Novel' nominations here.

The nominations for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation have been announced for 2015 works. The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation are run by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). The Awards themselves will be presented at the Nebula Weekend in June. The nominated works are:-
          Ex Machina
          Inside Out
          Jessica Jones season 1 finale 'AKA Smile'
          Mad Max: Fury Road
          The Martian
          Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Interestingly, apart from Inside Out and Jessica Jones (which has not [yet] been broadcast in the British Isles) all the rest of the shortlist were back at the start of the year included in our recommendations for the Best Films of 2015 (with links to trailers). So presumably one of us – either the SFWA or the SF² Concatenation team – are doing something right.

The nominations for the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards from the Horror Writers Association have been announced. The shortlists have been announced but the outcome will be announced at the World Horror Convention 2016 in Provo, Utah, US. The shortlist for the principal category of 'Superior Achievement in a Novel', or 'Best Novel' to most of us, is:-
          The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker
          The Deep by Michaelbrent Collings
          The Cure by J. G. Faherty
          Black Tide by Patrick Freivald
          A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Full details of the other categories can be found on the Horror Writers Association's website at

The 2016 Horror Writers Lifetime Achievement Award to go to Alan Moore and George A. Romero. Alan Moore is, of course, known for much including: The Ballad of Halo Jones, The Complete D.R. & Quinch, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol.1, Promethea and Watchmen.  George R. Romero is equally 'of course' known for his contribution to the cinematic treatment of the zombie trope. The awards will be presented at StokerCon in Las Vegas, USA, on Saturday, 14th May (2016). +++ See more Alan Moore news below.

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 regulars 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): Alexander and Ludmila Belash
          Bowl Bastion (attendee voted award):-
                    1st place: Elizabeth Dvoretskaya for the story ' Olga: Forest Princess '
                    2nd place: Artem Gularyan for the story 'Hot Season in the Arctic'
                    3rd place: Natalie Irtenina for the story 'Northern Freemen'
          Ivan Kalita Award (a cash prize raised by voting fee): Artem Gularyan for the story ' Hot Season in the Arctic '
          Igor Pronin for the story 'Flight'.
+++ See here for last year's Bastkons.

The 2016 Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Fest Prizes were announced a the 4th Philip K. Dick International Film Festival of Science, Science Fiction, Fantastic Film and the Supernatural in New York (US). The principal category winners were:-
          Best Philip K. Dick Feature: The Incident (2015) – Trailer here.
          Best Science Fiction Dramatic Feature: Counter Clockwise (2015) – Trailer here.
          Best Horror: Chatter (2015) – Trailer here.
The awards are decided upon by a core group. The award criteria are based on: story, originality, production design, and thematic connection to the ideas of Philip K. Dick, which in turn are: dystopia, parallel realities, ambivalence, humanity and technology. One category for 'Best Philip K. Dick Short' (not included in the principal categories above) was selected based on audience voting. There are plans for another fest next year, only this time it will be longer lasting five days.
+++ See here for last year's Philip K. Dick Film Fest winners.

The 2016 Philip K. Dick Award. has been given to Ramez Naam for his novel Apex.  A special citation was given to Marguerite Reed for Archangel.  The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States. The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the award ceremony is sponsored by the NorthWest Science Fiction Society.

Russia's Mir Fantastika [Fantasy World] magazine 'Best of the Year' works appearing first in Russian in 2014 were listed in its No. 138 February (2015) edition. The principal category results were:-
          Book – SF: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
          Book – Fantasy: Dark Blue Flame by Aleksey Pekhov
          Book – Best Juvenile: Railsea by China Miéville
          Book of the Year: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
          Book – Best Collection: Total Recall by Philip K. Dick
          Book – Best Anthology: Rogues by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozoi (eds)
          Film – Best Fantastic: The Martian
+++ See here for last year's Mir Fantastika 'Best of the Year'.

Australia's Aurealis awards have been presented. The Aurealis is a panel judged award that was established in 1995 by Chimaera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis Magazine. The principal category wins this year were:-
          Science Fiction Novel: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
          Science Fiction Short Story: 'All the Wrong Places' by Sean Williams
          Fantasy Novel: Day Boy by Trent Jamieson
          Fantasy Short Story: 'The Giant’s Lady' by Rowena Cory Daniells
          Horror Novel: Day Boy by Trent Jamieson
          Horror Short Story: 'Bullets' by Joanne Anderton
Full details of all the Aurealis Awards categories are at  +++ The 2015 Aurealis principal category winners are here.

Australia's Ditmar awards have been presented. The Ditmar is voted on by those attending Australia's national convention and have been presented since 1969. The Ditmars are named after Martin James Ditmar (Dick) Jenssen, a founding member of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club. The Ditmar Award wins this year were:-
          Best Novel: Lament for the Afterlife by Lisa L. Hannett
          Best Novella or Novelette: 'Of Sorrow and Such' by Angela Slatter
          Best Short Story: 'A Hedge of Yellow Roses' by Kathleen Jennings
          Best Collected Work: Cranky Ladies of History edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely
          Best Artwork: Cover and internal art, Kathleen Jennings, of Cranky Ladies of History
          Best Fan Writer: Grant Watson
          Best Fan Artist: Kathleen Jennings
          Best Fan Publication in Any Medium: Galactic Suburbia edited by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts
          Best New Talent: Rivqa Rafael
Note: Kathleen Jennings won the 'Best Artwork'and 'Best Fan Artist' last year, 2014 and 2013.  Tansy Rayner Roberts won 'Best Fan Writer' last year and in 2013.  Last year's Ditmar winners here.

The British SF Association (BSFA) Awards have been presented. The winners were:-
          Best Novel: House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
          Best Short Fiction: ' Thirty Cups of Grief, by Starlight' by Aliette de Bodard
          Best Non-Fiction: Rave and Let Die: the SF and Fantasy of 2014 by Adam Roberts
          Best Art: Jim Burns for Pelquin’s Comet
Well done one and all.  145 votes were cast and the award was presented at the 2016 Eastercon at which Aliette de Bodard happened to be a GoH.  Last year's BSFA winners here.

The The Twilight Zone has returned as radio plays courtesy of the BBC. Ten episodes using Rod Serling’s original TV scripts have been given new life as 40 minute radio plays on BBC Radio 4 Extra. The Twilight Zone television series was first broadcast in the US in 1959 and ran to 1964. BBC Radio 4 Extra began broadcasting ten of the best as radio plays staring in March. This means that at the time this seasonal news page is posted we are halfway through the series. However the series will remain available on BBC iPlayer as mp3 downloads for some months to come. The cast members throughout the series will include: Jane Seymour, Jim Caviezel, Michael York, Malcolm McDowell, and Don Johnson.

Dan Dare is returning in a series of audio adventures. B7 Media is producing a series of audio adventures based on the original Eagle comic adventures starting with Voyage to Venus.

Batman – Superman – Wonder Woman 'Trinity may return. In 2008/9 DC Comics ran a weekly series called Trinity starring all three characters. There is now a rumour that it may well return later this year (2016).

Some Neil Gaiman's Sandman characters may return. Sandman: Overture may have seen the official end of the Sandman character arc but word has it that Neil may consider writing outlines for Sandman-related character that other writers could flesh out. +++ Other Gaiman Neil Gaiman news 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 2016


Iain Banks has entered the Gollancz SF Masterwork series with a re-print of Feersum Endjinn. It all came as a bit of a surprise as the release was neither announced in the Orion Gollancz catalogue, nor was it in the 6-monthly Book Buyers Guide (hence not in our forthcoming lists below) but publicised in an-end-of-March press release.  Gollancz's SFnal guru, Malcolm Edwards said, "Iain was immensely supportive when we launched the SF Masterworks [series], giving us an enthusiastic endorsement which appeared prominently on all the books, so it's a particular pleasure to see him join the list."  Iain Banks is best known in genre circles for his 'Culture' series of widescreen space opera (though arguably these are IMAX screen space operas). However Iain did write a couple of non-Culture SF novels and Feersum Endjinn was the first. Set somewhere in space and time, humans (or a human-like species) live in vast rooms with a floor space of many square miles and ceilings hundreds of feet in the air. It soon becomes clear that these people are the descendents of a previously advanced civilisation but they have degenerated: one faction even attacks another by drilling through the floor to the room below.  Meanwhile, the sun is dimming…  Interestingly, from purely a writing perspective, the novel's protagonist is dyslexic and chunks of the story are told phonetically.  The Masterworks edition of Feersum Endjinn was published in hardback on 14th April 2016 just as we were about to post this edition of SF² Concatenation. It includes an introduction by Ken MacLeod. The hardback licence was agreed with Gollancz's cousin imprint, Orbit, the SF imprint of the Little, Brown Book Group (all are part of Hachette), who will continue to publish Feersum Endjinn in paperback.

David Brin, has announced that his new collection Insistence of Vision is now out. It offers tales of tomorrow. Visit a chillingly plausible future when prisoners may be sent to asteroidal gulags. Or might prisons vanish? Felons roam free, but see only what society allows? Suppose, amid lavish success, we gain the superpower to fly! Will we appreciate it... or find new ways to complain? ISBN: 978-1-611-88221-6.

Genevieve Cogman has a contract for two more 'Invisible Library' novels. The Invisible Library was in the Independent’s top five fantasy novels for 2015. It was also the bestselling SF/F debut of 2015 through Nielsen BookScan. Its sequel was The Masked City. PanMacmillan has bought the world rights to the new books. They follow the exploits of resourceful Irene Winters, Librarian spy, which are often based in an alternative Victorian London. Irene hunts down dangerous books for the secretive interdimensional Library.

Nick Cole has gone public as to why his latest novel is independently published through Amazon Apparently, according to Nick, HarperVoyager (presumably HV in the US and unconnected with HV over here) objected to the novel including humans undertaking abortion as a reason for artificial intelligences feeling threatened by our species. This rationale appears briefly in just one chapter but it apparently offended Cole's editor who then dropped the book from the publisher's release schedule. Within 48 hours his post had attracted some 300 comments, virtually all supportive… Clearly feelings around this issue are stronger in the US than they are in Blighty, but Cole claims his own views on the topic are immaterial: he simply was seeking a motivation for AI distrust of humans. From Cole's perspective, what concerns him is publisher unilateral censoring.

Gardner Dozois has received the 2016 Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction (the 'Skylark Award') from the New England Science Fiction Association at Boskone 53, Boston, US. The Skylark is given to 'some person, who, in the opinion of the membership, has contributed significantly to science fiction, both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late ‘Doc’ Smith well-loved by those who knew him.'

Stephen Fry has left Twitter following abuse from trolls who attacked him for his BAFTA night comment on costume designer, Jenny Beavan's, 'bag lady' outfit for the evening. It was meant as a joke pointing out irony that only a costume designer could get away with at such a formal event (something of which she admitted later that she was all too aware), and the comment was taken as such by the audience. But there was an initial hostile response from some of the public on Twitter so Stephen tweeted a picture of himself with Bevan enjoying the BAFTA after-party with a self-deprecating caption 'Jenny Baglady Beavan and Stephen Outrageous Misogynist Swine Fry at the after party', but this did not prevent a Twitter storm brewing: because so many millions use Twitter even a reaction involving a small fraction of a percent of users becomes very intimidating.  The net result was that the following day Stephen left Twitter and his 12 million followers. On his website he explained, 'It's quite simple really: the room had started to smell. Really quite bad.'  He said that Twitter had become 'a stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended - worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know.  It's as nasty and unwholesome a characteristic as can be imagined. It doesn't matter whether they think they're defending women, men, transgender people, Muslims, humanists … the ghastliness is absolutely the same.' He went on to say that while the majority of Twitter users were fine, if you find one turd in a reservoir you leave it even if the rest of the water is clean.  This is not the first time an SF-related person has been the subject of a Twitter storm. A minority – a few score – of SF fans attacked the initial decision for Jonathan Ross (the Four-Poofs and a Piano support act) to host the 2014 Hugo Award ceremony…  For the record, Stephen Fry and Jenny Beavan are personal friends!  Stephen did though get his share of supportive tweets including from Matt Lucas: "Stephen Fry Didn't you get the memo? No-one is allowed to do jokes anymore."

Neil Gaiman has pooh-poohed reports that his visit to Santa Fe (where George R. R. Martin happens to live) was to help Martin out with The Winds of Winter, the sixth novel in the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' sequence.  It is true that George R. R. Martin has been struggling to keep ahead of the TV series. The idea that Gaiman was helping Martin out came from a whimsical blog post by The Santa Fe New Mexican that – if you read it – clearly indicated, both at its beginning and end, that this was the blog author's fantasy wish. The problem came when someone covered the post, who either read it too quickly or deliberately sought sensation, and reported it as a factual story. This then got covered again elsewhere, and then again and again…  There was nothing for it but for Neil himself to post a clarification.  +++ Other Gaiman news: see earlier/above Sandman news.

Diana Gill has stepped down from being Executive Editor at Roc/Ace (of Berkley Publishing). It is thought that the Berkley/NAL merger with Putnam Dutton has necessitated reorganisation. Ace is the oldest SF imprint in the USA.

Peter Hamilton has sold a novella (yes, 'novella' – shock, horror, drama probe) to Pan Macmillan. Peter does have quite a following but while some of our review team greatly enjoy Peter's stories, a few have been put off by his novel's typically, very high page count. But a novella! This could bring Peter a whole new readership. This really is good news. Called A Window Into Time, it is a high-concept mystery set in London, reportedly with a compelling twist. In the novella, teenager Julian has perfect recall, which means he has trouble finding his place in the world. But he really does know his own mind. So when he starts experiencing someone else’s memories, which are also glimpses of the future, Julian realises he must find out why. It soon becomes clear that this unmet friend is in danger. And Julian resolves to do everything in his power to track down this mysterious other person – and prevent him from being killed…

Sherrilyn Kenyon is suing Cassandra Clare for allegedly copying elements of her 'Dark Hunter' series (the latest of which is out this season (below)). Both are US writers and in the UK both have sold hundreds of thousands of copies of their respective works. Apparently Clare's own 'Shadowhunter' series is, it is contended, too similar to the 'Dark Hunter' series beyond the use of the same, common fantasy tropes. The contention is that both the Dark Hunter series and the Shadowhunter series are about an elite band of warriors that must protect the human world from the unseen paranormal threat that seeks to destroy humans as they go about their daily lives. These hunters, whether ‘dark’ or ‘shadow’, preserve the balance between good and evil, protecting humans from being consumed or enslaved. There is also a branding issue which could be economically serious given that a TV adaptation of Clare’s Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments launched on Netflix in January. In Britain, Cassandra Clare is published by both Simon & Schuster Children’s Books and Walker Books. Sherrilyn Kenyon is published by Piatkus, Little Brown.  Colouring all of this is that apparently in 2006 there was a – but note the different spelling – Cassandra Claire plagiarism issue at with a not insignificant amount of text apparently lifted from the novel The Hidden Land, an out-of-print fantasy novel by Pamela Dean. Notwithstanding all of this, one cannot but help think of the original Battlestar Galactica court case when its makers were unsuccessfully sued by those of Star Wars. That silly litigious fight ended in 1980: both films draw on many long-standing SF tropes. True, the similarities between 'Dark Hunter' and 'Shadowhunter' are greater than that between Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica but if (note the 'if') the case rests purely on the trope treatment similarity of a secret group combating an unseen threat to humanity then there are plenty of precedents from Gerry Anderson's U.F.O. (1970) to Sergei Lukyanenko's best-selling 'Watch' series (beginning with The Night Watch, 1998). A triumvirate also including overall plot and character similarities, in addition to the tropes used, may well need to be demonstrated if the case is to be successful.

Dave Langford announced in his April monthly newsletter Ansible that his regular SFX column – regular since issue 1 back in 1995 – will cease in issue 274: it will be the last.  The column has always been a kind of Ansible detailed addendum: Ansible itself is a monthly summary SF digest of author and fan news but the SFX column regularly devoted itself to expanding one item of such news and often included a historical dimension.  So sad news indeed, especially as apparently it was due to economic reasons with the publisher reducing the magazine's budget. It seems that others are going too.  Still, not all is lost as another collected volume of his columns is forthcoming.

Rob Latham, the US science fiction scholar, has been fired surprisingly following a charge of sexual harassment of which he had previously been cleared. Latham is puzzled by University of California's decision given that the two harassment complainants had reportedly submitted doctored evidence and levelled charges that were proven false by a police investigation. Alas we will not know the truth of the matter unless Latham exercises his rights to take the University to court which is an expensive option. This he has said he intends to do. Discussion in the blogosphere speculates that the real motive might be that the University wants to divest its responsibility for curating the Eaton SF Collection. Meanwhile some members of the University staff have been saying that the university followed due procedures.

George R. R. Martin has been given an honorary dungaree from Texas A&M University. George has in the past contributed to the University's Cushing Library long before his Game of Thrones fame on television. +++ George R. R. Martin is very much alive despite some confusing reports of the death of George Martin (the fifth Beatle) made by readers failing to distinguish between the two completely different people. George R. R. Martin reassured his fans that he was not the deceased George Martin whom he never met. He did though recount that he briefly met Paul McCartney once when waiting for a valet to collect his rental car outside a hotel…  +++ As we reported at the beginning of the season, Martin's The Winds of Winter – the 6th in the series 'A Song of Fire and Ice' – was not published before the 6th season of Game of Thrones TV series theoretically based on the novel was aired. George has not set another deadline. For the most parts fans have been supportive, though there have been a few smegheads. (See also Neil Gaiman above.) +++ See also thoughts on Martin's idea to spread the Hugo short form love.

Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill (who created The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) are editing a new horror graphic anthology series called Cinema Purgatorio. Contributors so far on board with this monthly include Max Brooks, Kieron Gillen, Ignacio Calero and Christos Gage.

Mark Oshiro, the US SF blogger and vlogger, has – after nine months awaiting committee action – come out as to how he was treated at ConQuesT 46 as its fan GoH. If it was just one lapse, or even a couple of minor ones, then any faults might be forgivable, but from the account he has given there were multiple concerns that together could not be put down to random chance events. These included: not being booked into the main hotel; hotel room – initially at least – not paid for by the committee; segregated from the GoH dinner table; abused (on more than one occasion) by a programme participant; verbally abused by at least one convention participant, and disturbing incidents on a panel on equality among a number of disquieting experiences.  Mark feels that his ethnicity and sexual orientation were behind his treatment. Irrespective of whether or not that this is so (we are not mind readers, judge or jury), clearly nobody let alone a GoH should have be treated this way.  The culture over here in Europe is a little different (though that does not mean that things are 100% perfect) but Mark's report does help explain the rise of fandom's code-of-conduct culture which can at times from a European perspective seem a little over-the-top.  Mark welcomes his report of his experience being shared. Read it, search around the blogs and make your own mind up.

Jerry Pournelle is to be awarded the 2016 Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award. The award is presented by the National Space Society and this year at the International Space Development Conference 18th – 22nd May.  The award recognises Pournelle’s activities in the L5 Society, and his term as the Chair of the Citizen’s Advisory Council on National Space Policy.

Terry Pratchett may well have a commemorative plaque on Beaconsfield Library's wall if proposals by Beaconsfield town council get approved, and also a statue in Salisbury: Terry died last year.  Terry was born in Beaconsfield. Terry’s daughter Rhianna may well be asked to take part in the plaque's inauguration. The Beaconsfield town council is now asking Bucks County Council for permission to install the plaque before this venture can progress.  Meanwhile Salisbury Council (near Broad Chalke where Terry lived much of his professional life) has approved a life-sized statue of the author designed by Paul Kidby who illustrated many of the book covers for the Discworld books. The Council has approved the plans but funding and planning permission (the latter being in the Council's control) has yet to be obtained. It is hoped to pay for the statue through crowd-funding and sponsorship from local companies.

Eugene 'Rod' Roddenberry (son of Gene) has been hired by CBS as executive producer for the forthcoming Star Trek reboot TV series. He previously was as a consulting producer for the fan-made series Star Trek: New Voyages, as well as producer for the documentary Trek Nation.

J. K. Rowling is to receive a human rights award from Pen America in May. This year's Pen/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award presentation will take place in New York. The Literary Service Award is given annually to authors whose work fights repression and censorship around the globe. J. K. Rowling is the founder of the charitable trust Volant, which supports multiple sclerosis research, and she is also the founder of the non-profit organisation Lumos, which works to reconnect children who have been in institutional care with life within a family. Pen America's president has noted that Rowling's writing provided a wealth of, "imagination, empathy, humour, and a love of reading, along the way revealing moral choices that help us understand ourselves."  +++ J. K. Rowling has released the first of a four-part series, collectively called Magic in North America, on her Pottermore website. Magic in North America addresses magic-related topics such as the Salem witch trials and native American legends and is a is a precursor to the forthcoming Harry Potter film spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that is slated to launch in November.  +++ A London performance of letters of note saw a letter from the mother of a cancer patient to J. K. Rowling read out. Harry Potter helped Chrissy Hart's daughter get through her cancer treatment. It was read out by actress Ellie Bamber as part of the latest performance of 'Letters Live'.  +++ At the performance one of the other letters was from Sir Alec Guinness writing about his shooting the original Star Wars film. In it he refers to the film's 'rubbish dialogue'. As to the shoot itself he said: 'Can't say I'm enjoying the film.' And in talking about Harrison Ford he said that he was 'a rangy, languid man who is probably intelligent and amusing.'  +++ J. K. Rowling has made a couple of rejection letters public (minus the signatures as she was not being spiteful) by the request from some of her fans who were aspiring writers. The one from Constable & Robinson comes across as banal to the point of being patronising. In response to Rowling's release the author Joanne Harris joined the Twitter discussion, joking that she got so many rejections for her 1999 novel Chocolat that she had 'made a sculpture' out of them.  +++ See below 8th Harry Potter due out at the end of July.

John Scalzi is bitter-sweet in anticipation of fame from possible Old Man's War film. His muses were made at the Arisia 2016 convention in Boston.  You can see the 8 minute video interview here.

J. R. R. Tolkien has had two of his lost poems found. 'The Shadow Man' and a Christmas poem called 'Noel' were found at Our Lady's School, Abingdon. The poems came were found after a US Tolkien scholar, Wayne G. Hammond, got in touch with the school. He was aware that two of his poems appeared in a magazine he called The Abingdon Chronicle from notes made by Tolkien. In reality this was the 1936 annual of Our Lady's School, which was at the time run by the Sisters of Mercy.


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 2016


The spring's SF/F box-office hits included, with their place in the all-film box-office charts, in order of release…:-
          January saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens had become the fastest film to gross a billion (US) dollars and early in January it had grossed a billion pounds. It was number one in the N. American (Canada and US) box office chart for four weeks by which point, mid-month just as we posted last season's edition. It then held onto the number one slot and did so for a total of seven weeks until the beginning of February when it slipped to number four in the N. American charts and number three in the British Isles box office charts. However by then it had taken over US$2bn (£1.38bn) globally. (Trailer here.)  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies did not do well in the US following limp reviews. This might be because, as is the Seth Grahame-Smith book on which the film is based, it solidly references Jane Austen's original novel Pride and Prejudice. The film is US financed but shot in Britain with a largely English cast. (Trailer here.)
          February saw no SF/F/H top ten box office hits!  This is a rarity for the top ten box office charts to be so devoid of genre in any one month.
          March saw The Divergent Series: Allegiant enter the top ten chart in the number two slot in both the British Isles and N. American charts.  Originally it had been slated to be released mid-month but eOne Films, Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment had it moved up a week presumably because of the much anticipated Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice's Easter launch at the month's end. (The Divergent Series: Allegiant trailer here.)  Mid-March saw 10 Cloverfield Lane the psychological horror with an SFnal riff enter the N. American charts in the number two slot. (Trailer here.)   And then came Easter and the aforementioned Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice that pushed 10 Cloverfield Lane to number 5 in the British Isles and The Divergent Series: Allegiant to number 8 in the weekend box office chart.  Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice took the number one slot its opening weekend in both the British Isles (UK and the Republic of Ireland) and N. America (Canada and the US) charts.  The film took £300m (US$424m) at the box office worldwide in its first five days (£14.6m in the British Isles).  The film received praise from some sci-fi sites and bloggers but got a far less warm a welcome from sercon SF sites and professional mundane cinematic critics despite – most agree – a good portrayal of Alfred and a fair first outing for the new Batman despite tedious dream sequences.  Whereas Star Wars: The Force Awakens held on to its number one slot in the N. American charts for seven weeks, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice held onto its number one position for just two: it slipped to number two in its third week albeit only just. Nonetheless, in the US alone it had by then taken nearly £211m (US$300) so making it the third highest-grossing DC Comics release to date in the US. (Trailer here.)  +++ Last season's box office SF/F/H chart news here.

Despite much talk, the Han Solo stand-alone Star Wars remains on course for a May/June 2018 release. This confirms our last autumn news. Meanwhile filming on Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII has begun and is aiming for a December 2017 release.  Furthermore, Episode IX has entered pre-production aiming for a 2019 release.  Finally, the stand-alone Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has seen filming completed and is slated for a December 2017 release (see link to first trailer below here).

Extended edition of The Martian is highly likely as Ridley Scott talks about unseen footage. He says he still has half an hour of extra footage not in the original cinematic release. This includes how Watney got ill due to an inadequate diet, and how he cleaned himself with baby wipes after relieving himself while en route to the second launcher. Both scenes were probably too off-putting to include in a family rated film but could be in the extended edition. And of course what we all hope for are extended song sequences.  The unofficial word has it that the extended (which may be marketed as the 'special') edition may be out in the mid-summer.

5th Indiana Jones film is coming. Disney have announced that Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg are getting together for the production that is tentatively sated for 2019 (when Ford will be 77). The first four films have so far made nearly £1.41billion (US$2bn).

6th Terminator film is on says Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is a little surprising as Terminator Genisys did not do that well at the box office. Having said that, it is better than the fourth offering and if the film is on then this will be due to that film's global take as well as subsequent DVD sales.

New Spiderman film slated for 2017. This is likely to be a re-boot: the third Spiderman incarnation in the past one and a half decades. As Sony last year did a deal with the Disney-owned Marvel Studios it is possible that Spiderman could appear with other Marvel Avenger characters.  The film is currently slated for a July 2017 release and will star the Brit actor Tom Holland.

James Bond's Spectre car has been sold for £2,434,500. The DB10 is one of only two 'show cars' from the 10 made specially for the film. Made in Warwickshire, the model has a 4.7-litre V8 petrol engine and a top speed of 190 mph, but it cannot be driven on public roads. Aston Martin has been associated with Bond since the 1964 film Goldfinger's DB5. The other DB10s were modified for filming leaving only two in show room condition. During the making of the film an estimated £25m worth of vehicles (various models) were destroyed.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!: The 1993 Eurocon in Jersey re-visited. This vid was put up a couple of years ago (and Roberto never told us)!  This one hour video ignores the programme in favour of the social scene: the bars and parties.  In its own way it is a bit of a document as a roll call of all those glimpsed would make for a mini who's who of the early 1990s European SF community. In the mix we get fleeting encounters with young-looking:  Brian Ameringen (at 00 minutes: 07 seconds); John Brunner (01:21); Iain Banks (01:24); Sam Lundwall (13:16); Heidi Lyshol (23:40); Forrest (4E) Ackerman (24:47); Stefan Ghidoveanu (28:53); the dealers' hall (29:09); art display (29:40); Joe (The Forever War) Haldeman (32:26); Ian (Saving for a Sunny Day) Watson (33:52); Brian (author of many novels and short stories) Aldiss (34:58); Sam (Swedish author and translator) Lundwall (35:19); George R. R. Martin (on left 37:17); Ian (The Very Slow Time Machine) Watson (41:47); George R. R. (Game of Thrones) Martin (43:05); Chris Cooper (44:10); Roberto Quaglia (44:29); Bridget (European SF Soc' officer) Wilkinson (44:53); Jonathan Cowie (45:45) with Iain Banks followed by his carpet exercise; Graham Connor 'I'm going for a pee' (47:15); Jonathan Cowie (47:21); Jack (biologist) Cohen F.I.Biol. (48.38) and briefly Jonathan again (49.03).   Also in the mix – but blink and you'll miss them – are: Ellen Andresen, Jim (e-fanzines) Burns, Mary Burns, Pavel Constantin, Malcolm (Gollancz supremo) Edwards, Silviu Genescu; Mandics (Hungarian author) Gyorgy, Harry Harrison, Martin (1984 Eurocon Chair) Hoare, Jane (Unwin and then Harper editor) Johnson, Dick Jude, Jane Killick, David (Ansible) Langford, Frederik Pohl, Larry Van der Putte, Phil Rogers, Ken Slater, Sorin Repanovici, Ina Shorrock and James Steel.    You can see them all here.

Film clip download tip!: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Official Teaser Trailer.  This trailer for the film, slated for December (2016), came out early in April just as we were about to post this seasonal news page… See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: The Pink Five Star Wars short films are really worth checking out. What with all the excitement of Star Wars: The Force Awakens we thought it time to remind you of a past little gem of a series of fan films we first brought to your attention a decade agoThe Pink Five is a series of shorts concerning a happy-go-lucky young female pilot first caught up in the attack on the Death Star and who then goes on to parallel Luke and Han across the original Star Wars trilogy. Bearing in mind that these were made over a decade ago, the special effects stand up well.  You can see the trailer for the series here and episode 1 (the weakest of the films) here.  Like, wow, so totally have fun.

Film clip download tip!: Autonomous is a short computer animation concerning an autonomous recon droid following its last commands on a barren planet. It started out as a proof of concept for a bigger story and completed as a free time project during two years by a team of two people based in Estonia.  See the short film here.

Film clip download tip!: Waste of Time is a neat time travel (sort of) 6 minute short that was a finalist in Tropfest Australia 24, Australia's major short-film fest.  See the short film here.

Film clip download tip!: Stealing Time is a classic exploration of the time travel trope. Given we shared Waste of Time (above) with you, we thought we'd revisit this rather nifty, six-minute offering from half a decade ago which is more of an exploration of one of the time travel's standard paradoxes…  See the short film here.

Film clip download tip!: Never before told secrets ofThe Matrix film This will change the way you watch The Matrix.  See the three-minute short vid here.

Film clip download tip!: Leonard Nimoy speaks out and imitates Shatner during Spock death scene. As this is a year on since we lost Leonard we thought you'd like a chance to see again an interview he gave on his life and work. He talks to an L. A. Times reporter about the inception of the Star Trek movies, great moments in The original series, and the origin of the Vulcan salute   See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Pandemic film promises to be an action, first person shoot-'em-up type film a bit like Doom was.  A pandemic makes its victims violent and a team of survivors with the authorities have to get to safety. See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: The James Bond Spectre technothriller gets the 'Honest Trailer' treatment. See the Honest Trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Advert of the season: 'Coping with Humans: A Support Group for Bots' 'Advert of the season?' OK, so we don't usually have adverts but this one-and-a-half minute short is especially all our therapy-loving friends in the rebel colonies and droids everywhere.  See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Deleted Scene from Batman v Superman starring Jimmy Kimmel. Jimmy Kimmel is a US equivalent of Jonathan Ross or Graham Norton.  Here is a clip from an outtake from the forthcoming Batman v Superman film featuring Kimmel himself but note there is a minute or two if introductory set up before the scene itself.  Great fun.  See it here.


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

For a reminder of the top films in 2015/16 (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 2016 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 2016


The Eighth Harry Potter book will be released on 31st July.  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts I & II will be released by Little Brown on 31 July, the day after the play has debuted on stage.  J. K. Rowling said that the writing of the book was due to many fan requests from those who could not come to London and the Palace Theatre to see the play. Within a day of the press release pre-orders for the book took it to the top of both the Waterstones and Amazon book charts. The e-book will be released by Rowling's own Pottermore e-book publisher.

Titan Books gets Hammer and Warcraft licences. Titan is bringing the classic Hammer Horror license to the comics with a whole new line of graphic novels with the first to be released over Halloween 2016. It will also be producing Warhammer 40,000 comics starting in September.

Pan Macmillan buys world rights to new space opera author Anne Corlett . Pan Macmillan acquired The Space Between the Stars by debut novelist Anne Corlett.  The Space Between the Stars is a novel of love, loss and second chances. It is also a road-trip through the stars, as a woman journeys across a plague-ravaged universe to the place she once called home and the man she once loved. After a virus wipes out most of humanity, Jamie heads for Earth. She must reach the Northumberland coast, to see if Daniel is still alive…  Pan Macmillan compares the novel in tone to Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven and The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber both of which were short-listed for the Clarke (SF) Award last year.

Beatrix Potter has a new book coming out. The rough manuscript was found in the Beatrix Potter archives at the Victoria & Albert Museum back in 2013. The decision was made to hold off publication until 2016 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the author's birth; Frederick Warne & Co will publish The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots in September. It will feature new illustrations by Quentin Blake.

SF novel hits No. 2 slot in Britain's all-book, top sellers weekly chart – Andy Weir's The Martian. SF books rarely make it to near the top of Britain's (or even the US) weekly all-book sales chart or even actually appear in it! Occasionally we see SF titles in the mass-market fiction sales chart though some fantasy titles do make it (The Game of Thrones being a recent example). But now the SF novel The Martian came top of the all-genre book chart in mid-February. Indeed the only other SF/F/H top 50, all book chart entrants mid-February were a couple of Harry Potter colouring books (there's been a bit of a colouring book craze in Britain in 2015/6). Of course The Martian has been out in Britain for over a year, but the mass market paperback edition tie-in with the DVD release of the film only took place the second week of February (2016) and here a promotion with the Sainsbury supermarket chain which sold the book along with the DVD undoubtedly contributed to the 24,338 copies sold in one week (BookScan data). Mid-February also saw The Martian appear on BBC Radio 4's 'Book Programme' and 'Film Programme'. Up to mid-February (2016) over 120,000 copies of various editions of The Martian were sold in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  +++ Last season The Martian topped the e-book chart.

The book sales of Britain's top 50 selling authors account for 13% of all author sales. According to Nielsen BookScan data (which includes major online retailers, major publisher direct sales and high street bookshop sales) some 45,000 authors contributed to the UK consumer market generating some £1.51 billion in 2015. However the top 50 authors sold £199m or 13% of all sales in 2015.  Within the top 50, the SF/F/H genre authors with their ranking, value of books sold (not their author royalty) and its percentage change over 2014 are given below:-
            3) J. K. Rowling £8.3m (+51.6% over 2014)
          13) Terry Pratchett £5.4m (+78.2%)
          15) George R. R. Martin £5.1m (-22.2%)
          20) Roald Dahl £3.8m (+11.6%)
          28) Stephen King £2.7m (+4%)
+++ See previous year's news that top 5% of authors earned 42% of all income received by professional writers and in 2013 authors earned on average £11k. +++ Also see previously Best Selling Genre Authors of 2015.

The top genre hardback sold in 2015 was George R. R. Martin's A Knight of Seven Kingdoms. There was only one genre entry in the 2015 British top twenty hardback original fiction for the year and A Knight of Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin came 12th in the chart selling 59,169 through BookScan-using outlets.

UK academic book sales flat, 2010 – 2014. Total sales (e-books and print) in 2010 were £1,081m and in 2014 they were £1,074m. However over the same period digital sales increased 88% from £134m to £252m but still only accounted for less than a quarter of total (books and digital) sales value at 23%. However it is important to note that this does not take into account 2nd hand textbook sales between students: physical textbooks are far more popular with students and are regularly sold by one generation of students to their previous year. It is also thought that the US Supap Kirtsaeng ruling in 2013 that has caused a price hike in textbooks has hindered sales growth.

Print may well be growing and e-books sales stabilised, early data for 2015 UK book sales for the five biggest publishers reveal. While data for the entire year of 2015 has not yet come out, data for the big 5 British publishing houses has and it accounts for 56% of Britain's 'Total Consumer Market' (which excludes direct sales from professional bodies and non-publishing house companies etc): covering over half the UK industry, the big 5 data are considered illustrative of the overall book sector. This early data saw the number of units of e-book sales of the big 5 for 2015 of 47.9 million copies, which was a reduction of 2.4% on 2014. Tentative extrapolation from the big 5 to the total consumer market suggests that e-books in 2015 account for 31% by volume of sale.  The big 5 data suggest that the Total Consumer Market value in the UK for both e-books and print for 2015 might be around £1.9 billion and up some 7% on 2014. If this is so, then it would bring publishing sales back to 2007 values prior to the financial crash in absolute values (still a little way to go for real-term parity). This news builds on last year's total e-book and print big 5 growth and is consistent with the decline in e-book sales reported for the first half of 2015. This decline somewhat undermines Pricewaterhouse Coopers' prediction last year that e-books would overtake physical book sales by 2018: we at SF² Concatenation were sceptical of this 'expert' prediction back then and remain so now. Pricewaterhouse Coopers are part of the financial sector, the sector that brought you the global economic collapse of 2007/8 from which we have not yet recovered.

University students shun e-books firmly preferring paper. A survey by Naomi Baron from American University of over 300 university students from Japan, Germany, Slovakia and the U.S., found that 92% preferred to textbook read from paper books and not e-readers, laptops, phones and tablets. This has been corroborated by one of SF² Concatenation's editors who writes university textbooks whose sales are over 95% paper.

The state of England's libraries is now 'beyond urgent'. As we reported last season Britain lost over a hundred libraries in the 2014/5 financial year and it has been three years since the all-party Select Committee enquiry into libraries.  Since then there has been the Sieghart Report that called for a reinvigoration of British libraries, but this is simply not happening. Now the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals has said that the rate of public library service attrition is 'beyond urgent'. They call for the Government's Libraries Task Force to devise a national library strategy for England. It will be interesting to see if there are similar calls from the semi-devolved states of Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland.
          Then at the end of March a BBC investigation of 207 authorities responsible for running libraries made through the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that almost 8,000 jobs in UK libraries have disappeared in six years, about a quarter of the overall total and some 343 libraries have closed. Of these, 132 were mobile services, while 207 were based in buildings. A further 111 closures are planned this year. Over six years the number of library paid staff has fallen from 31,977 in 2010 to 24,044, a drop of 7,933 (25%) for the 182 libraries that provided comparable data. A further 174 libraries have been transferred to being run by community groups.

PublishAmerica/America Star Books drops its case against Writer Beware. America Star Books, formerly PublishAmerica, filed suit against Michael Capobianco, Rich White and Writer Beware for defamation on the basis of two posts from the Writer Beware blog.  Writer Beware is a service of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) that reports on unfair treatment of writers through to outright scams targeting writers. America Star Books, when existing as PublishAmerica, has been covered on this site before for its, what some may say, wide-boy approach to writers.  Going the legal route is expensive: SF2 Concatenation once had to cost the options against a site duplicating material wholesale without contributor permission (the site eventually took the material down) and one of our staff once was on the point of taking an SF webmaster and his ISP for releasing personal data (the site eventually took the material down).  So if legal costs can be avoided then so much the better.  In the America Star Books vs. Writer Beware case, the issue had completed the court's discovery phase and it looks like America Star Books would have been unlikely to win without bringing big legal guns to bear.  Whatever the issue, America Star Books sought to drop the case provided that Writer Beware did not seek legal costs.  This Writer beware assented and America Star Books released all claims asserted against Writer Beware and the case was stipulated 'Dismissal With Prejudice'.

'Books of the Year' now included in the British Book Industry Awards. There will be four categories of 'Book of the Year': Children's, Debut, Fiction and Non-Fiction.  The shortlists have been announced and there are two titles of genre interest, both in the Children's category. They are: Terry Pratchett's final Discworld, The Shepherd's Crown, and the Jim Kay illustrated edition of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
          With regards to the British Book Industry Awards' usual categories, the shortlisted nominations of genre interest include 'The Gollancz Festival' in the 'Marketing Strategy' category, and Children's Doubleday in the 'Publicity Campaign of the Year' for Terry Pratchett's The Shepherd's Crown though arguably Terry's name sells itself.  The Awards themselves will be announced and presented at a gala dinner in London early in May.


More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in September 2016. 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 2016


Neil Gaiman's Likely Stories is to be a mini-TV series. The four-episode anthology series will be based on Neil's stories 'Foreign Parts', 'Feeders & Eaters', 'Closing Time', and 'Looking For The Girl'. Neil will also appear in the series.  +++ More Neil news above.

Steven Moffat is leaving Dr Who as the show's senior writer and will be replaced by Chris Chibnall. Steven will have had six seasons at the helm of the show. Chris Chibnall is already familiar with the show having written the Doctor Who episodes '42,' 'The Hungry Earth', 'Cold Blood', 'Pond Life', 'Dinosaurs on a Spaceship', 'The Power of Three', and 'P.S.'. Peter Capaldi has been asked to stay on as star while Chibnall embeds. Capaldi has previously hinted at leaving the show in 2016.

New Dr Who spin-off series is Class.  Unlike Torchwood the last Dr Who spin-off, Class is juvenile SF aimed for the older teenage market. Set in a secondary school, London's Coal Hill School, Class sees a group of pupils not only having to contend with growing up, school work and so forth, but the fabric of space-time thinning due to Dr Who's previous escapades.  Filming has started and screening is currently slated for latter this year on the BBC and also BBC America.  Steven Moffat is onboard as executive producer as he already is for Dr Who.

Thunderbirds Are Go TV series (not the film) is coming to the US. We reported the proposals for a Thunderbirds re-boot back in 2014 as a mix of CGI and models. It then returned in returned in 2015 with the first 13 of 26 episodes. Despite an early morning slot and poor billing in the printed schedules, it was sufficiently successful for a second set of 26 episodes being made. In the spring (2016) the second half of the first set of 26 episodes were screened in Britain by ITV (the original home of Gerry Anderson series), TV2 in New Zealand (whose Weta company did the new series' models and CGI) and Nine/GO in Australia. The remaining (second set) of 26 episodes in series 3 and 4 are slated for broadcast in 2016/7 in Britain and Australasia, and will also be available in the US.
          The new series is closer to the 1960s original than the ghastly Frakes' film and even has one of the original cast: the character Parker still being voiced by David Graham. Also Sylvia Anderson who originally played Lady Penelope makes a cameo in the first series as Penelope's aunt.  The series is set some years after the original 1960s TV series ended. In it father Jeff Tracy has died having been killed by the Hood. Kyano does not exist but Tanusha 'Kayo' Kyrano (the analogue to the original TinTin) is (unknowingly to the Tracy sons) related to the Hood. The special effects are good but the new music and shorter-length format sadly do not facilitate the original's tension in the rescue scenes. Nonetheless, this is a worthy resurrection of a much-loved series. (Trailer here.)

Jekyll and Hyde scared the sh¡t out of children Britain's media watchdog rules. Following over 500 complaints, Britain's Ofcom (the nation's official broadcast watchdog) found several scenes in the first episode, broadcast at 18:30 on 25 October last year, 'were likely to frighten and disturb younger children'. The show was cancelled last season.

Stephen King's The Mist could be a TV series. Spike TV has commissioned a pilot. The 1980 King story has already been a film (2007) concerning a group of Maine residents trapped in a grocery store after a mysterious mist (presumably a portal to another world or dimension) covers the town and which harbours killer creatures…


[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 2016


The 2015 Worldcon, Sasquan in the US has been reviewed. See Peter Tyers take on the convention here.

The 2016 Worldcon is MidAmeriCon II in Kansas City. Progress Report 2 is out. In addition to information on its proposed fan fayre (like Loncon3's fan village), there are appeals for the programme, basic hotel information (prices), encouraging discussion of fan parties, and the Hugo nomination form, there is also information on their film-making competition| which has two categories: films over and under an hour long.
          Now, this is the boring, but actually quite important bit. There is also a reminder that the deadline for submitting 'New Business' to the World SF Society (WSFS, under whose auspices the Worldcon is held and Hugo Awards are run) is 3rd August (2016).  All well and good, but it is the WSFS business already in hand for which Worldcon regulars may well want to attend.  Following the Sad Puppies controversy last year's WSFS business meeting made a number of proposals to prevent block voting of select works by a lobby group.  These require ratifying this year. One sensible suggestion is that of restricting nominations to just four works in each category while increasing the number of works on the shortlist ballot to six per category.  This is arguably a good move that gives those voting on the final shortlist more choice as well as inhibiting those who want to lobby a particular slate at the earlier nominating stage.
          However, controversially, there is another move to change the voting system of the final shortlist to a complicated procedure called 'E Pluribus Hugo' (use that phrase as a search string to find out more).  It is complicated (necessitating increasing the Hugo rules by over 400 words), but in essence gives voters one weighted vote per category.   So if you vote for four of the six shortlisted works you in effect allocated a quarter of a vote to each work.  If you vote for just one work on the six shortlisted then it gets one full vote weighted support from yourself.  It has to be said that some of us at SF² Concatenation, who follow award goings on, are a bit dubious as to the wisdom of 'E Pluribus Hugo'.  As we said last autumn are not yet convinced that the proposers have sorted out their Type I and Type II Errors yet: narrow-peaked, long-single-tail statistical distributions cannot readily distinguish between just four or five very-popular-by-Worldcon-fandom works and a slate-of-works-by a lobby group; both have statistically similar properties and so that any system that works against a slate will also work against what is effectively a popular-by-a-chunk-of-'genuine'-Worldcon-fandom slate.  In addition, 'E Pluribus Hugo' suffers because it is complicated (check it out for yourself by searching on 'E Pluribus Hugo') and so lays the Worldcon open to the charge that they are gaming the Hugos for their own nefarious purpose.  To get around such charges WSFS would (others as well as some of us suggest) be better served by keeping the rules simple and clear to all.  We urge all who regularly vote for Hugos and who are going to MidAmericon II to consider carefully whether 'E Pluribus Hugo' be ratified.  Remember, a minority of Hugo voters actually attended last year's business meting to vote this in!  If this does get ratified then don't be surprised (or Hugo voter regulars grumble) at blogosphere rumblings in 2017.  Only if a large proportion of Hugo voter regulars do actively support the ratification can this 'E Pluribus Hugo' procedure be seen to have democratic currency.
          Meanwhile Progress Report 3 will be coming out early in the summer with more details on the hotels and the hotel booking form.  It will also include the Hugo shortlist ballot.
          +++ This item builds on last season's news of the convention. +++ Also, while thinking about the Hugo, last time we noted Jonathan's thoughts on George R. R. Martin's Hugo Award musings.  So, as the SF Worldcon business meeting is coming up here's a thought on the Hugo Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form: Is it really recognising the full breadth of SF achievement?

The 2017 Worldcon is Helsinki, Finland. Apparently Progress Report 1 is due out as we go to press but Helsinki outreach were not able to briefly outline some of its contents for us to share with you. Still, there's last season's news here.  Worldcon's Progress Report 1's are telling documents as they lay out that particular Worldcon's stall, its unique selling points (USPs), etc., and as such are telling as to how unique and well organised the event will be.  Later Progress Reports have to devote space to accommodation, travel and Hugo matters.  The PR will soon (if not by the time you read this) available as a PDF on the Helsinki Worldcon website the link to which up to the end of 2017 will be on our national and International Convention Diary listing.

The 2018 Worldcon has two US bids. The two bids are for New Orleans and San Jose.

The 2019 Worldcon bid for Dublin announcement we covered last spring. No news.

The 2020 Worldcon bid for New Zealand has no new news since our report back in the autumn.  A reminder: the bid team are focussing on securing a venue for a good price. The problem remains (as with a number of countries including Britain) that NZ has no single venue of the size that can properly accommodate a Worldcon.  However, if  the bid does proceed (and it is currently unopposed) then New Zealand is a wonderful place to visit and so a number of fans may well add on tourist activities before and/or after any Worldcon.  This New Zealand Worldcon bid does not have to make a decision until late in 2017 as if it decides to withdraw, this will give others time to mount an alternate bid for the 2020 site selection vote in 2018.

Other Worldcon bids include:-
          Boston (US) in 2021
          Dallas (US) in 2021
          Chicago (US ) and Doha (Qatar) in 2022
          France in 2023 (we previously reported back in the autumn)
          Britain in 2024 (we previously reported back in the spring)
          Perth (Australia) in 2025
In addition to the news above, links to all Worldcon bid websites check out - - the Worldcon bid page.


Links to current Worldcon websites can be found from the World SF Society on

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


Meanwhile over in Europe… News of this year's Eurocon event plus the promise of further two good Eurocons

The 2016 Eurocon Progress Report 3.1 and PR4 for Barcelona are now out. We covered news of PR3 last time. PR3.1 provided a further update on this.  The most important item is that the Barcelona Eurocon now has more than 600 members and there is a limit of 800 total.  The list is filling up fast with more members from Spain itself and so people from other countries are strongly advised to join now, and not delay or they may lose the chance to join.  "Because of credit card detail confidentiality via e-mail concerns", it is now possible to book rooms on-line at the convention hotel.  PR3.1 also gave news that registered members are also eligible to vote for Spain's Ignotus Awards. This will be of particular interest to Spanish speakers who follow that country's SF scene, to which the rest of us will get an introduction at the convention. (Details of the 2015 awards here)  There was also news of the possibility of all registrants getting a flash drive with an English translation of recent Spanish anthologies in English, and also other European national SF anthologies in English.  Furthermore, we have affirmation of the reduced price of 10 Euros for those aged 16 to 24 years of age (importantly) at the start of the convention.
          More news came with Progress Report 4 in March. The important information – as now (summer 2016) many will be wondering whether or not to go and if so for how long – is that the convention will be working with others to provide a number of activities the days before as well as after the convention.  It now looks like for certain that there will be a Dead-Dog-Drown-Your-Sorrows Party on Monday night (the day after the convention ends) as well as a number of events in the days before the convention. These will include activities at Gigamesh bookshop. These will be in Spanish, but the bookstore will be the perfect place to meet other early-arrival Euroconners.  This Eurocon is one of those with which it is perfect to attend both for the convention and a few days either side for some tourism; something to seriously consider.  Finally, in addition to the Guests of Honour previously reported, the convention will have a 'Special non-European Guest': Brandon Sanderson, the winner of two Hugo Awards.  His works include the juvenile fantasy The Complete Alcatraz, Steelheart and Firefight.  SF conventions are somewhat of a variable feast, and Eurocons are no exception, but the 2016 Eurocon in Barcelona is shaping up to be one of the classic vintage ones.

The 2017 Eurocon – U-Con – Progress Report 1 is now out. It will be in Dortmund, Germany as we reported last autumn.  PR1 includes the news that the illustrator Autun Purser is to be the convention's third GoH.  The PR also contains a hotel list but it is early days yet for booking. However, for those on a budget and who wish to sort out a cheap option SFCD (the German SF Society) have a group membership of the German Youth Hostelling Association. The details are here  All those wishing to book with this option need to include the name U-Con when booking.  For those seeking to register with the 2017 Eurocon then its committee will be represented at Luxcon 2016, Coloniacon 2016, and Fantastika 2016 (Swecon).
          Finally, just as we were posting this season's news page Concatenation was informed that Dave Hutchinson has been added as an extra Guest of Honour.  He has been published by small-to-medium sized imprints in Britain and recently garnered some attention with his novel Europe in Autumn (2014) which was short-listed for the 2015 A. C. Clarke (book) Award. The book, with its Eurocon-relevant theme is set in a future Europe which is fragmented into numerous microstates. A cook called Rudi, who is working in a restaurant in Krakow, is dragged into an affair and starts a new career as a smuggler and spy. Critics have praised the novel as a blend of John le Carré's espionage thrillers and Franz Kafka's absurd world.  +++ If you want to register for the 2017 Eurocon – U-Con – the you can get details from their website (linked to from national and international level convention listing up to the end of 2017) or you can visit their desk at the following conventions: Luxcon 2016 (Luxemburg), Coloniacon 2016 (Germany), Fantastika 2016 (Sweden) and the 2017 Eurocon (Barcelona).

France remains the sole bid for the 2018 Eurocon. This is a strong bid with many positive aspects to it as we reported last time. We expect more details to emerge in the run up to the 2016 Eurocon, Barcelona at which the site selection vote for 2018 will take place.

The 2019 Eurocon is now open to a range of bids. Any European nation seeking to bid to host the 2019 Eurocon should contact the European SF Society (ESFS) just to let them know. Potential bidders are advised to steer clear of the late summer as Ireland may well be hosting the Worldcon. Bids will be presented and then voted on at ESFS's site selection meeting at next year's Eurocon in Dortmund.

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


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 2016


Art competition run by New Zealand's natcon now open. Au Contraire 3, New Zealand’s 37th National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention is running an art competition with art supplies, DVDs, vouchers, and print books packages as prizes. Submitted works should follow Au Contraire’s theme of 'FANDOM: The Next Generation' and be original works in any medium: digital, paint, photo or sculpture. Artists are welcome to submit more than one work. The competition closes to entrants on 27th May 2016. Photos of the artwork must be e-mailed to artcontest.aucontraire3[-at-] by 28th May. Artwork must delivered to the Quality Hotel, Cuba Street, Wellington by 3rd June 2016. Au Contraire 3 reserve the right to post photos of any entry in any con publications (physical and/or digital) so as to promote the contest and entrants' works.

Fans in court ask 'what is Star Trek?'.  You may recall that last season we reported Star Trek fan film-makers being sued, and now the case is at court. The Paramount lawyers claim that the Trek film Axanar infringes upon 'thousands of copyrights'. So the Axanar legals have asked the simple question: 'Which ones?' After all Star Trek now exists over several different universes, time periods, and casts.  The burden is now on Paramount to explain what Star Trek is in a legal sense…  Good luck with that.  (It could only happen in the US.)

Galaktika, a leading Hungarian semiprozine, has been accused of piracy. Reported in the SF's news page, Pintér Bence claims that the Hungarian semi-prozine has been pirating nearly all of its recent foreign language content. Apparently stories have been taken from Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Popular Science without any payment being given or permission to print granted.  US writer A. G. Carpenter reports that works as early as 2008 have been published without author consent. The problem may even go back as far as 2006.  It also seems that some Hungarian authors and translators have never been paid for their work.  Reports of an initial response to these allegations by a senior member of the Galaktika team allegedly dismisses the concerns likening them to Michael Jackson's agent being unaware which radio stations play his songs: a response that itself demonstrates a lack of understanding of music copyright broadcast remuneration.  Over a decade ago in 2005, the then newly resurrected Galaktika won a Eurocon Award. Galaktika has effectively built up a Hungarian SF brand dating back to Eastern Europe's post-WWII communist era being established in 1972, but the original could not be sustained in the post-1990 democratic free market era and it ceased publication in 1995. It was resurrected in 2004 and received a Eurocon Award at the 2005 Eurocon in Glasgow (Scotland) for this by way of encouragement.  Should these issues be true it is a sad day for the Hungarian SF community and raise eyebrows among regular Eurocon fandom.  Further details here…  Also, if true and to be kind to Galaktika, this could be a hangover from communist era times when many western novels were translated in Eastern European, former communist bloc countries without regard to copyright. Even so this does not excuse such practices especially over a quarter of a century on, nor does it excuse the way translators have purportedly been treated.  If the N. American and Western European writer complainants' case has merit then it is not inconceivable that they band together, sharing legal costs, to present a collective case against the magazine's publisher, Metropolis Media.  Hungary as a nation has signed up to the principal international copyright treaties and so such a move would be reasonably straightforward for a copyright lawyer.

The 2016 Eastercon – Mancunicon in Manchester – was something of a success. An early estimate of attendance puts it at somewhere around a thousand.  There were up to seven parallel programme streams over the four days of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend but typically there were at least five and often six different programme items at any one time. A significant innovation was having a half-an-hour gap between programme items. This meant that each item could run for the full hour and, if very popular, over run by 10 to 15 minutes without eating into the next item's programme time.  Items included an item on Manchester fan history with former MaD (Manchester and District [not to be confused with the nearby Bolton and District]) SF Group member Bill Burns who also gave a talk on the 1950s and 1960s Manchester Delta Films venture whose principal participants included Charles Partington and the late, great Harry Nadler whose legacy still lives in the form of Manchester's Festival of Fantastic Films, the 26th of which was held last autumn.  The real ale was also most welcome by many and the supply lasted to the middle of the third of the four days.  Downsides to the con? Just two: first, the perennial problem of limited lift space especially aggravated by programmes mainly being split across two floors with book launches on a third (not helped by the frequency with which too many squeeze into a lift so triggering the safety disabler); and second, the limited size of many of the programme rooms. This last brought back shades of the 2014 Loncon 3 Worldcon with far less space than the demand to attend programme items (infamously some Loncon 3 programme items saw attendees turn up to the previous item just to secure a seat for the one they really wanted to attent). Sadly, few hotels in Britain have the function space to cater for several hundred so this is an issue beyond the control of most organising committees and one which we fans simply have to accept if we wish to see the Eastercon manifest itself in various parts of the country.  During the Mancunicon Eastercon the BSFA Awards were presented (see above) (alas only a small proportion of the convention voted) as well as the Doc Weir for unsung hero of Eastercon fandom which this year by popular vote went to Kathy Westhead: Kathy, some might remember, was also on the 1987 BECCON Eastercon committee at which the first print edition of SF² Concatenation was launched.  Much credit to the success of this year's event goes to the organising committee Chair Pat McMurray.

Pasgon, the 2017 British SF Eastercon, has been cancelled. The convention was to have been held in Cardiff but apparently the committee had not firmed up arrangements with the venue and the prices being asked were not considered to make the Eastercon viable.  Eastercon 2017 will now be Innominate in the Hilton Birmingham Metropole… Which happens to be where SF² Concatenation had its first edition at the 1987 BECCON Eastercon back when we were a print publication.

The 2018 Eastercon is to be held in Harrogate, Yorkshire. It won the site selection at this year's Eastercon in Manchester.  The convention will be called Follycon.  It should not be confused with the 1988 Eastercon Follycon in Liverpool and so, in a bid not to confuse fandom's future historians and archivists, the 2018 Harrogate venued Eastercon might be better advised to be referred to as 'Follycon 2' or 'Follycon 2018'.


For a list of current 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 2016


Fantasies of Possibility is a new blog. With posts roughly monthly, it will examine science fiction in books, television and cinema, looking back at some classics and also some less well known work. The blog's title is inspired by title H. G. Wells, as this is what he himself called his work, he never called it 'science fiction', a term then unknown.  The blogger, Michael Herbert, himself has watched science fiction for more than fifty years. As an eight year old he watched the first episode of Doctor Who, 'An Unearthly Child', on the 23rd November 1963.  He then moved on to other works, essentially all the science fiction novels which Marlow Library possessed. And so he read the classics – Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, John Wyndham, Ray Bradbury... He also read the science fiction novels which were published by Victor Gollancz in distinctive yellow covers that were easy to pick out on the shelves.  The blog's first post looked back at the classic BBC science fiction series A for Andromeda, broadcast in the autumn of 1961. The cast included a then little-known Julie Christie as Andromeda.  The blog can be found at

Bandwidth and broadband speed static in rural areas. This is the conclusion of Britain's official communications watchdog, Ofcom. Urban speeds have increased considerably in recent years. In the UK average speeds stand at 28.9Mbps (megabits per second), a 27% increase on the average speed last year. But this increase has been firmly in urban areas which themselves are three times faster than rural ones. Indeed average rural area speeds, already low, have barely changed since 2013. If this is true for a more developed economy such as Britain, it probably applies elsewhere too.  The message is straightforward: website designers need to both keep their site's simple and also their pages not necessitating much memory space if they wish to maximise their reach into the population. This runs contrary to the fashion for all the latest bells and whistles.

University inadvertently makes research students' personal data available on the net. Hundreds of Greenwich postgrad students' details were available on the web, a data breach only discovered when a student undertook a Google vanity search.  The Information Commissioner's Office (UK's official data ombudsman) has confirmed that an investigation is underway.  Students' names, addresses, dates of birth, mobile phone numbers and signatures were all available.  Under recent EU rules the university could possibly be fined £7.8m (&euros;10m, US$11.2m).  +++ This problem has affected fandom. One recent Worldcon inadvertently made the details (name and home address) public of its registrants who opted to Hugo nominate and vote online. This became apparent following one member's Google search on their own home address. This, together with knowing the style of the Worldcon's membership database URL, and knowing the registered names of other members (available from the convention's Progress Reports) enabled the individual to potentially ascertain the home addresses of anyone else registered for the Worldcon employing the online option.

Baidu apps said to be leaking users' personal details. An app development tool for Android phones and programs for Windows from the Chinese internet company Baidu could potentially affect millions. The data reveals people's locations, search terms, sites visited and the ID numbers of users' devices.  The development tool has been downloaded hundreds of millions of times and so the potential for a comparable number being affected is possible and users would be unaware that their data was being gathered or passed on. Baidu itself says it has fixed some of the problems and has assured users that it does not hand information over wholesale to the Chinese authorities.

Hackers thought to be behind a power cut affecting nearly quarter of a million Ukrainians. The US Department of Homeland Security presented this conclusion in a report on the December (2015) incident. It did not speculate as to who was responsible (though we – as others have – can all probably have a good guess).  If true it would be the first publicly known successful hack aimed at utilities.

Facebook agrees to pay more tax in Britain. This follows concerns that big companies – such as Google and Starbucks – have not been paying their fair share of tax as well as the announcement (following a Parliamentary Select inquiry) that Amazon would be paying more tax. In 2014 Facebook paid only £4,327 in corporation tax in Britain, despite Britain being one of the multi-billion dollar company's biggest markets outside the US: £4,327 is similar to the amount of tax a single, average working Brit pays!



iPhone 6 sets are now being disabled if repaired by anyone other than an authorised Apple engineer. iPhone 6 users have been reporting that their sets have been disabled with users unable even to retrieve old photos and documents.  If anyone other than an Apple engineer makes a repair, service or replaces faulty components, then the user may find that their set no longer work and they get an 'error 53' notice.  It seems that iPhone software checks whether any repairs were authorised by Apple and if not the phone is then disabled.  Some customers have apparently been told that all they can do is buy a new phone.  Subsequently, following a consumer backlash, Apple apologised to iPhone customers whose phones were disabled after third-party repairs, and issued a fix for the problem.  +++ Apple's iPhone and iPad iOS 9.3 update has caused problems and some owners have been locked out. The update caused some older versions of the phones and tablets to require the passwords and ID numbers used to set them up, and if the owners could not remember them then they were locked out of their own phone. It has taken some weeks but Apple has now promised that they are going to release a new version of the update that will not require passwords or the original ID. This should be available around the time we post this news page.

Apple contested a request by the FBI to access the iPhone data of a terroríst gυnman. The phone had been locked and if more than 10 attempts at the password were made without success, then the iPhone would automatically delete the phone's data. Apple in theory needs to make the attempt as its software patches have security signatures. Apple deliberately does not know how to hack its own phones precisely so that it cannot compromise its customers' privacy.  Since September 2014, data on the latest Apple devices - such as text messages and photographs - have been encrypted by default. The terroríst and his wife killed 14 people in the California city last December before police fatally shot them. Then late February saw Apple asking a US court to reconsider an earlier ruling ordering the company to help the FBI.  But in March the FBI announced that it had managed to unlock the phone (much to Apple's concern) and dropped its court action against Apple.  +++ US Department of Justice requests Apple to access iPhhone. The DoJ asked Apple to unlock an iPhone in connection with a drugs case. The judge refused permission. This refusal happened in February but was unsealed (made public) in April. Clearly there is tension growing between US government agencies (FBI and DoJ) and the legal rights to personal e-security that will, one way or another, need resolving/clarifying.

Apple Macs see first viable ransom malware attack. Up to now Windows PCs have been the ones susceptible to ransomware whereby malware locks a computer until a ransom is paid to criminals who then provide the key code to unlock the Apple Mac computer.  The 'KeRangers' malware is thought to be the first time successful ransomware has appeared on Macs and the development is considered by computer scientists to have been inevitable.

78% of children aged 10 to 12 in Britain use social media despite being underage. Many social media sites have set 13 years as their cut-off point due to a US law called Coppa (Children's Online Privacy Protection) 1998 Act. Some, like Facebook, and Kik simply bring up refusal messages if a user types in an underage date.  Others, such as Yahoo, allow a kid to have an account but then refuse them access to subsidiary services like Flickr. And some, including Twitter and Instagram, ban under-13s, but never actually ask for confirmation of birth date.  Children's BBC commissioned a survey from Comres to mark Safer Internet Day. 78% of 10-12 year olds surveyed claimed to use social media. Facebook was the most popular with under-13s, with 49% claiming to be use it.  Further, Among 16 to 18 year olds surveyed, two in five had used social media to spread gossip and a quarter had used it to say something 'unkind' or 'rude' to someone else online.

France's data protection body has tasked Facebook to stop tracking non-Facebook members without their consent. Facebook tracks everyone who visits the site, regardless of whether they are members, through cookies. These tell Facebook of its site's visitors' other internet usage. Furthermore some of this data has been transferred from France to Facebook in the US and Facebook has also been told to stop this practice.  If Facebook fails to comply with the French privacy body (CNIL [Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes]) within the three-month time frame it may face a fine.  Last year the Belgian Privacy Commissioner made similar stipulations which forced Facebook to change the way it behaves in that country.  Meanwhile in the rest of Europe and in N. America, Facebook continues to try to track its site's visitors irrespective of whether or not they are members.  Facebook members themselves, by joining the site, forgo such data protection as part of the terms of Facebook member/user registration.

Nissan Leaf electric cars hack vulnerability revealed. A flaw in the onboard computer security has been found that means that data about drivers' recent journeys can be accessed. Apparently NissanConnect app's has no authorisation security.  Nissan has been slow to address the issue.  Customer Troy Hunt found the problem and gave the company a month to sort it out before he went public. Apparently some Canadian customers have, independently, also discovered the flaw.


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Summer 2016



Gravity waves have been detected! The detection was made by the recently upgraded US laser interferometer gravity observation collaboration (LIGO).  The observation was made by LIGOs at both Hanford, in Washington, and Livingston, in Louisiana, so providing independent corroboration. It is thought that the waves were generated by the merger of two black holes or, as was initially thought, a black hole and another body such as a neutron star.  From the gravity waves frequency and decline fed into a supercomputer model, it was possible to estimate that the two bodies were of 36 and 29 Solar masses (one Solar mass being the mass of the Sun) and some 1.3 billion light years away (Abbott et al, 2016, Physical Review Letters vol. 116, 061102).  That the waves were almost perfectly sinusoidal (as opposed to asymmetrical) indicates that our observation on Earth is either directly above or below the orbiting pair and not edge on where the different masses of the bodies would skew the waves.  As the black holes made their final five orbits of each other before merger, they reached speeds estimated to be around half the speed of light.  During the 'event' it is thought that mass equivalent to three times that of the Sun were lost being converted into gravity waves.  The detection of gravity waves further vindicates Einstein's general relativity that mass warps space-time.  Also the US collaboration has beaten Europe's LISA Pathfinder orbiter launched in December.  Previously, in 2012, gravity waves were only inferred by astronomical observation.  +++ India's government has approved proposals to construct a copy of the US LIGO.  Having a third machine in a different hemisphere to the two US LIGOs should help discern the source of future gravity waves. The copy will cost 12.6 billion rupees (US$138m) and should be operational by 2023.

German fusion experimental reactor turned on. The Wendelstein 7-X stellarator generates a helical plasma unlike the linear ring of plasma produced by the ITER being built in France. The 7-X stellarator is more experimental than ITER but has in theory the advantage of creating a fusion plasma continuously (ITER is pulsed).

Ancient Babylonians calculated Jupiter's position using more modern maths. The idea of computing a body’s displacement as an area in time-velocity space is usually traced back to 14th-century Europe. However research from Humboldt University, Berlin, shows that in four ancient Babylonian cuneiform tablets from 350 to 50 BC and now in the British Museum's archives, Jupiter’s displacement along the ecliptic is calculated in this way. This is at least 1,400 years earlier than the method was thought to have been devised. This discovery changes our ideas about how Babylonian astronomers worked and may have influenced Western science. (See Science vol. 351, p482-4.)

Watch out world science – The Indians are coming. India's science base has expanded considerably over the past two decades: for instance it now has a space programme and has recently sent a probe to Mars and soon hopes to send its first astronaut into space.  Now the Indian government has announced a major boost to India's science research community with a budget increase of 17% to 52.3 billion rupees (£507million, US$760m); a percentage increase in funding that many western developed nations' science bases can only but dream.  However it will not all be spent on space: its department just got a 2% increase.


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Summer 2016


A possible ninth planet for the Solar System has been inferred. A gravitational model could explain the highly eccentric orbits of minor planets in the Oort Cloud beyond Kuiper bodies. These minor planets include Sedna and 2012VP113. Several of these bodies at times come closest to the Sun at roughly twice the Neptune and Pluto-Charon orbit radius (in the Kuiper Belt) but spend most of their time further out in the Oort Cloud.  Konstantin Batygin and Michael Brown propose that the clustering of these orbits suggest a resonance with a large planet the other side of the Solar System orbiting far out in the Oort Cloud never getting closer than 200 AU (1 AU being the distance from Earth to the Sun).  At that 200 AU distance, this hypothetical ninth planet orbits the Sun once every 10,000 to 20,000 years.  It is probably smaller than Neptune (very roughly 50 times the mass of the Earth) and is tentatively been called Phattie. If it is a rocky planet then it could be a cold super-Earth: many super-Earths have been detected around other stars and if Phattie exists it would therefore be the Solar System's first discovered and possibly its only Super Earth.
          If the ninth planet Phattie does exist, then it should exert a small influence on the out planets. What we really need is a radio beacon orbiting one of these over many years to we can exactly monitor the planet's orbit and spot any discrepancies…  Wait a minute…  Don't we already have one with Cassini?  That probe has been there for over half a decade and could be operational to 2020 and possibly beyond… Already Agnes Fienga (of Nice University, France) has already used existing Cassini positioning data and has calculated that if Phattie exists the it is likely within a 21° slice of its hypothetical orbit. If Cassini operates to 2020 then a more accurate, narrower, prediction will be possible.

The largest planetary system has been discovered and it is three times the size of the previously known largest system.  Reported in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society the star is around 100 light years from Earth and its furthest planet detected is one trillion kilometres away, making its orbit 140 times wider than Pluto's path around our Sun and so taking it nearly a million years to orbit (several times longer than our own system's speculated ninth planet above).  The system's outermost planet, 2MASS J2126-8140, is between 12 and 15 times the mass of Jupiter.  It is thought that the planet and its star formed 10 – 45 million years ago and that the two are so tenuously linked that any passing star would disrupt it.

A cluster of the largest monster stars has been detected. Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, 165,000 light years away and just outside, orbiting our galaxy, the cluster includes R136a1, the most massive star 250 times heavier than our Sun that was discovered back in 2010.  Now the Hubble Space Telescope has pictured an additional two dozen stars all over a hundred times the mass of the Sun.  These stars are each a million times brighter than our Sun: that is as bright as our Sun is compared to the Moon.  These giant stars are close to the Eddington limit where further accreting in-fall material is prevented by the powerful out-going stellar wind.  These stars formed only a few million years ago and are unlikely to have planets (which take longer to form) and even if there were any then there would be no night in that region of space as the light from the other monster stars makes the region permanent day.  Large stars were thought to exist in the early hydrogen-only universe and they exploded to leave behind heavier elements. These current giants, formed in a hydrogen and heavier element environment, may well exist (some think) due to the Magellanic Cloud picking up a bow-wave of gas and dust as it orbits our Galaxy. (Crowther, P. A. et al, 2016, Monthly Notices of the Royal Society vol. 458 (1), p624-659.).  If some of these stars are binaries then eventually the resulting orbiting black holes should generate gravity waves which will get stronger as their orbit decays just as was recently detected by LIGO in the 'event' (see earlier).

Ceres may have water. NASA's Dawn probe went into orbit about the asteroid Ceres early last year (2015). It has now (late March 2016) detected low neutron counts (suggestive of hydrogen hence water which absorbs neutrons) around one of its poles. It had been thought that white splodges (don't you like it when we get technical) in two of its craters might be water, but this result is different.

Europe's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander – which at 4,322kg is the heaviest Mars mission to date – has been successfully launched by a Russian Proton rocket. The mission will see its Schiaparelli lander touch down on 19th October (2016). The lander has no camera but pictures will be taken on the way down.  The main purpose of the lander part of the mission will be to demonstrate a descent radar, computers and algorithms for Europe's ExoMars rover being built in Britain.  Meanwhile the Trace Gas Orbiter will take readings of Mars' atmosphere, and here there is much interest in methane which may be biological or alternatively purely abiotic geological in origin.  It had been hoped that the next part of ExoMars, the ExoMars rover, launch would take place in 2018 but it increasingly looks like the mission will not be ready until the next Earth-Mars alignment in 2020. Its activities will include drilling for samples up to two metres in depth.
          Europe's ExoMars is a collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos (Russia's agency). The US's NASA had been onboard but had to drop out in 2010 due to funding difficulties (here some have implicated financial overruns by the James Webb space telescope).  Roscosmos is providing a Proton rocket launcher for both the ExoMars missions and will also be contributing to the second lander and its rover.  ESA is providing the orbiter and first lander in addition to taking the lead on the second lander collaboration.

NASA's InSight – the US's next Mars mission – faces delay costs of US$150 million (£1m). The mission should have launched this year but cracks in the vacuum chamber to the seismometer (the key part of the mission) have caused the launch to miss this year's launch window and for it to be delayed until 2018.  The mission's overall costs were meant to have been US$450m (£300m).  The mission aims to use seismic detection to infer Mars' internal structure as well as to measure the level of the planet's geological activity.

Europe's next Ariane rocket proposal – Ariane 6 – has been approved. This finalises the design and modifies the proposal made a couple of years ago.  The first Ariane built on Britain's 1960s Blue Streak rocket.  The new Ariane will be a modular rocket offering two variants.  One version, known as Ariane 62, will loft medium-sized spacecraft into orbit such as the platforms that image and study the Earth.  The second version, known as Ariane 64, will put up the heavy telecoms craft, at geosynchronous 36,000km above the equator.

Fast radio burst enables Universe weighing. An international team detected a fast radio burst and were able to optically look for its source in time to see the after-glow in a distant galaxy.  Measuring the galaxy's red shift – a first for a fast radio burst – they discerned that it was some 6 billion light years away give or take a billion or so light years.  Now, intervening matter (largely ionised gas) causes light to slow but lower energy light (red light) slows more. Therefore the dispersion of the spectrum (as opposed to its 'shift') is an indication of the amount of intervening matter. This gave a figure that is broadly consistent with dark matter plus visible matter (but which excludes so-called 'dark energy'). This result suggests that baryonic density (even if we can't see it) is consistent with standard cosmological models (see Keane et al, 2016, Nature vol. 530, p453-6, and a review by Lorimer, 530, 427-8.). As more fast radio bursts are detected we will get a better estimate as to the true weight of the universe.

The Moon has two sets of ice poles suggesting it has changed its tilt. An analysis of hydrogen from neutrons deficits has been used as a tool to detect ice (frozen H2O) hence water on the Moon.  It has been found in dark craters at the poles permanently shielded from the Sun.  Now, two other poles of ice at an angle to the known north and south poles have been found and these two lie on an axis through the Moon's centre.  It seems that the Moon has shifted its angle of tilt. The current theory is that the rise of volcanic activity (that gave us the dark flat 'seas' we see from Earth) caused a shift in the Moon's tilt.  Micrometeorite accumulation – it is hypothesised – prevented all of the water from these ancient poles from evaporating when exposed to sunlight in their new non-polar position. (See Nature vol. 531, p480-4 and an explanatory review vol. 531, p455-6.).


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Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
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Summer 2016


Eating peanuts as a baby helps avoid allergy in later life. Previously, last year, it was shown that early exposure greatly reduced the likelihood of developing a peanut allergy in later life.  Now new research of 550 participants suggests that if a child has consumed peanut snacks within the first 11 months of life, then the chances are that at the age of five they can afford to stop eating the food entirely for a year, and maintain no allergy (see DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1514209).  Both research papers were written by scientists from King's College London and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

British scientists get the go-ahead for human embryo gene editing. This is the first time a nation has contemplated gene-editing human embryos and approved it.  The research will examine the genetic influences governing embryo development but it will be illegal for the scientists to implant the modified embryos into a woman.  The research hopes to solve some of the problems resulting in spontaneous abortion: roughly half embryos fail this way.  The research will only look at embryo development in its first seven days.

Lab-grown sperm function perfectly. Chinese researchers have created fully-functioning sperm from stem cells which led to healthy mice offspring.  These sperm have undergone one of the most difficult cell replication processes in nature – meiosis – that shuffles genes and halves their number (so that when united with the half-set of genes in a female egg the offspring has a full complement).  This development is likely to ultimately lead to address some human fertility problems such as sperm production affected by cancer or infections such as mumps. ( See Zhou et al., 2016, Cell Stem Cell DOI:

How humans eat meat before fire has now been revealed. Cooking enables meat to be easily chewed and this diet enables us to have the brain size we have. Without cooking it is difficult to break meat down into digestible swallows: about 40,000 chews of raw meat and vegetables are needed for 2,000 calories: this works out – assuming one chew a second – at 11 hours a day spent chewing!  Homo erectus -- with a brain size beginning to approach that of modern humans, arose around for 1.5 million years ago (mya), yet the use of fire has not been found before 500,000 years ago. So how did H. erectus get the necessary calories? This is an evolutionary conundrum.  However, now Katherine Zink and Daniel Lieberman have shown that using stone tools it is possible to have a diet where one-third of the calories can come from meat by chopping it into small, easy-to-chew pieces (Nature vol. 531, p500 – 503. doi:10.1038/nature16990.): stone tool use began some 3.3 mya.  The researchers used people today and found that a 2,000 calorie a day diet of one third goat and two-thirds raw carrots, yams and beets necessitated 2.5 million fewer chews a year: an entire month.  And so today, with liquidisers in the place of stone tools as well as fire, we now have the time to watch celebrity chefs on TV. There is also rising obesity.

Modern humans had seΧ with Neanderthals 100,000 years ago. This was a few thousand years into the last glacial's (ice age in lay terms) commencement.  This seΧual activity was elucidated when the remains of a Neanderthal and a Denisovan from the Altai Mountains in Siberia were genetically sequenced and modern human (H. sapiens) genes found in the Neanderthal. The last common ancestor between Neanderthals and modern humans was at least 430,000 years ago (430kya) and the new data suggest that this might have taken place between 550,000 and 765,000 years ago. The Neanderthals and Denisovans diverged between 381,000 and 473,000 years ago. However, the Altai Neanderthal genome has 5.4% common alleles (different types of gene such as dominant or recessive) to modern humans. (See Kuhlwilm et al, 2016, Nature vol. 530, p429-433.)  +++ In 2011 it was discovered that modern humans and Neanderthals interbred 65 -95kya (thousand years ago) in the Middle East and 40kya in western Europe.

Melanesians have between 1.9% and 3.4% of their genetic ancestry from Denisovians. We know that all non-Africans owe some 2% or more of their ancestry to Neanderthals, but now some humans have been shown to have Denisovan DNA.  Denisovans are an extinct group of archaic humans (see previous article above). Analysis of the genomes of 1,496 people from around the world has shown that 35, all from Melanesia (the New Guinea west Pacific area), have between 1.9% and 3.4% of their genes from Denisovans.  Analysis of these people's genomes revealed that long-stretches of their genomes devoid of both Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA, and that these stretches included the FOXP2  gene that is involved in speech and language. (Science doi: 10.1126/science.aad9416 (2016).)

Cancer molecules on the surface of tumour cells now detectable – Drugs likely to follow. Researchers at University College London have developed a way of finding unique markings within a tumour - its 'Achilles heel' - allowing the body and possibly future medicines to target the disease.  The problem is that each person's cancer has a different such molecule on different cells, however there is a core similarity for them in each person.  Bespoke designer pharmaceuticals could attack such tumours. (See Science DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf1490.)

People's brain's age can now be determined by imaging. William Jagust (California U. US) and his team have found a way to safely tag a protein (tau) that accumulates in the brain as it ages, and that is also found in higher concentrations among Alzheimer patients.  Patients can then have their brain's scanned using positron emission tomography (PET).  Previously patients' brains could only be tested once the patients were dead.  The spread of tau to other areas of the brain away from the medial temporal lobe (associated with memory) also correlates with the amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer's.  Such scanning of brains with their tau proteins tagged will enable the biological age of the brain (as opposed to the biological age of a person's whole body) to be estimated as well as early detection of Alzheimer's.

Human mitochondrial replacement is OK says US National Academies of Sciences. Ironically, this technique was first developed in the US but first approved for human use in Britain last year.  The technique sees a woman's egg have its faulty mitochondria (the organelle that produces energy) replaced with that of another woman's healthy ovum mitochondria.  Now, in addition to the egg's nucleus DNA (carrying most of the egg's genes) there is also DNA in mitochondria.  So replacing mitochondria with that of another person means that the embryo (once fertilised) has DNA from two mothers and one father: in short, the embryo has three parents.  Faulty mitochondrial DNA results in mitochondrial genetic disease that is passed down the female line (male sperm mitochondria do not enter the egg).  In Britain mitochondrial replacement has been approved but the new ethical approval in the US is restricted to male embryos.  This is because the three-parent genetic mix cannot be passed on to the next generation (male sperm mitochondria do not enter the egg).  However even with mitochondria-replaced females the parental mix after two generations could – in theory – naturally occur (but it would involve cousins getting together with only a 50% chance of a non-incestual genetic mix and the mitochondrial replacement obviates that).
          The new statement provides some ethical approval for the US Food and Drug Administration to start clinical trials. However a change in the US law is still required.

Numbers of the world's largest primate, Grauer's gorilla have decreased by 77% in the past 20 years. The Wildlife Conservation Society has published a report– sadly not picked up by much of the world's media – noting that number of Grauer's gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) have plummeted from some 17,000 in 1995 to 3,800 today.  Illegal hunting around mining communities and civil war in the Republic of Congo together with habitat loss are thought to be the principal reasons.

Seagrass genome reveals its terrestrial, flowering plant ancestral adaptations. The eelgrass (Zostera marina a marine species) genome has now been sequenced by an international team of Europeans together with some N. Americans.  Eelgrass itself is a very productive species, is important to local fisheries and, with its roots, in stabilising sediments beneath the waves. As such it is a key species providing environmental services for many coastal human communities.  And now its genome has been sequenced.  This reveals some of the genetic markers of its past evolution.  All land plants started out as marine algae that moved into freshwater systems and then on to land.  This happened with eelgrass's ancestors which then further evolved into flowering plants on land.  But what happened next was that they moved back into freshwater and ultimately back into the sea: seagrasses are the plant equivalents of dolphins and whales.  Seagrass evolution has seen some of the most extreme habitat shift ever undertaken by flowering plants.  In moving back to the sea eelgrass lost the genes involved in stomata (the pores that regulate gas exchange and water loss), the genes involved in ultraviolet light protection and sensing far infra-red (these wavelengths do not penetrate far into water).  And during their move back to the sea they regained the genes for cell wall compounds involved in osmoregulation.  But eelgrass has still retained all the genes for the polysaccharides (sugar chains) typical of land plants. (Olsen, J. L., et al (2016) Nature vol. 530, p331-5 and review article Williams, S. vol. 530, p290-1.)

A species thought to have been a mollusc turns out to be one of the earliest species of animal. Xenoturbella, at several centimetres long, looks like a discarded sock.  It was discovered over 60 years ago but nobody knew how it fitted into the evolutionary tree.  For many years, this few cm-long, deep sea, sock-like species was thought to be a degenerate form of mollusc, the same phylum as slugs, snails, limpets and octopi.  Now genetic analysis, by a team led by Johanna Taylor Cannon together with the discovery of four new species of Xenoturbella by a team led by Greg Rouse and both reported in the journal Nature, has shown that it is a simple, multicelled animal (metazoan) more advanced than, but not too distant from, simpler phyla such as Cnidaria (simple two-tissue-layered creatures), but a long way from the more evolved molluscs.  This puts them above Cnidaria and at the base of the diversity of Bilatera (bilaterally symmetrical, three tissue-layered animals that include radially symmetrical echinoderms such as starfish) and the Bilatera ultimately include most of the animals familiar to you, including reptiles, birds and mammals.

A lizard that generates heat has been discovered! We all know that mammals and birds generate heat (they are endotherms) whereas reptiles (that include lizards) get their heat from the environment and cannot generate their own (they are ectotherms).  But now a lizard has been discovered – the black and white tegu (Salvator merianae) that during its reproductive phase can generate heat keeping it as much as 10°C above the ambient temperature.  It is thought that biologists missed this as they stop generating heat when they are disturbed (such as by having their temperature taken); the researchers made the discovery keeping the animals for several days in a temperature-monitored and controlled chamber.  Now biologists need to establish how they generate heat as well as whether there are other heat-generating non-avian reptiles?  Could it be that tegus are closely related to the first reptile that led to the heat-generating avian reptiles that went on to become birds? (Tattersall, G. J. et al, 2016, Science Advances vol. 2, e100951.)

Horses can distinguish between happy and sad human faces. Research by Amy Smith and colleagues at Sussex University in Brighton (England) showed horses pictures of humans with happy and sad faces, but they looked at angry ones with their left eyes, a sign that they were processing the information with their right cerebral hemispheres thought to process negative stimuli. (Biology Letters vol. 12 20150907.).  Previously dogs have been shown to identify human emotions from their faces.

Ebola has returned to Sierra Leone. Just two months after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Sierra Leone's ebola spread halted (but not ebola free).  Other flare-ups have been traced to ebola survivors who still had the virus in semen and other bodily fluids.  +++ Last season we reported news that Guinea was ebola free and the previous season to that that the pandemic had ended in Liberia but previously it had been declared ebola-free twice before only for flare-ups subsequently to occur.  +++ STOP PRESS: Just as we were beginning to code this page WHO declared on 29th March the ebola emergency in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is over.

Ebola treatment completes monkey testing and is now in human clinical trials. So far there have been no effective antiviral therapies to combat ebola.  But now a small biomolecule, GS-5734, has shown efficacy in non-human primates with 100% success.  GS-5734 is a monophosphoroamidate prodrug that breaks down to the pharmacologically active adenosine nucleoside triposphate (NTP) that, following treatment, migrates through the patient including to ebola sanctuary sites such as eye tissue and the brain.  Human clinical trials of GS-5734 are now underway.( Warren, T. K. et al, 2016, Nature vol. 531, pp381-385.)  +++ Elsewhere, John Misasi and his team solved the crystal structures of fragments of the two antibodies bound to the Ebola virus glycoprotein (GP), which mediates viral cell entry.  Relatedly, Davide Corti and his team isolated two monoclonal antibodies from a survivor of the 1995 Kikwit ebola outbreak and used them to develop a serum that was effective in infected macaques. Corti's two antibodies targeted different regions of the glycoprotein whose structure Misasi elucidated. (Science vol. 351, p1343-1346 and vol. 351, p1339-1342)

Zika virus causes alarm in S. America and US. The Zika virus is transmitted by the mosquito. It is usually comparatively harmless but expecting mothers contracting the virus have given birth to children with unusually small brains (microcephaly) and there is an assumed connection between microcephaly and having the Zika virus.

It's official! The world is now not just fat but positively growing obese. Analysing Body Mass Index (BMI) data from 1975 to 2014 from various national surveys involving a total of over 19 million people the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (with lead authors based in Imperial College in London) find that now globally the overweight (mainly in developed nations) outnumber the underweight (in developing nations) and that the clinically obese (though still comparatively a small proportion) is growing exponentially.  Over the past four decades, we have transitioned from a world in which underweight prevalence was more than double that of obesity, to one in which more people are obese than underweight.  The rate of increase in BMI since 2000 has been slower than in the preceding decades in high-income countries, where adiposity became an explicit public health concern around this time,27,28 and in some middle-income countries.  However, because the rate of BMI increase has accelerated in some other regions, the global increase in BMI has not slowed down.  If post-2000 trends continue, not only will the world not meet the global target for halting the increase in obesity, but also severe obesity will surpass underweight in women by 2025. (NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, 2016, Trends in adult body-mass index in 200 countries from 1975 to 2014: a pooled analysis of 1698 population-based measurement studies with 19.2 million participants, The Lancet vol. 387, p1377-1396.).


[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 2016


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.


A Dream of Ice by Gillian Anderson, Simon & Schuster, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-471-13776-1.
A sequel to A Vision of Fire.

Straights of Hell by Taylor Anderson, ROC, £6.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-451-47062-1.
The crew of a WWII warship fights alongside the felinoid Lemurians and Imperial allies against a reptilian army… What's not to like?

War Factory by Neal Asher, Tor, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-230-75074-6.
Follow-up to Dark Intelligence. Thorvald Spear's only goal was to get his revenge on the rogue artificial intelligence, Penny Royal. The AI apparently left him to die and killed thousands of his comrades in the process. But things aren't as clear-cut as they seem. Can he truly rely on his own version of events? And has Penny Royal been meddling with his memories and his very identity?

Creation Machine by Andrew Bannister, Transworld, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-593-07648-4.
Widescreen space opera and a debut novel. It is the aftermath of civil war in the vast pageant of planets and stars known as The Spin (created by a long-past super-intelligent race). Three years since he crushed the rebellion, Viklun Haas, industrialist and leader of the Hegemony, is eliminating all remnants of the opposition. Starting with his own daughter. But Fleare Haas, fighter for Society Otherwise has had a long time to plan her next move. Sprung from her remote monastery prison and reuniting with a team of loyal friends, Fleare’s journey will take her across The Spin to the cluster of fallen planets known as the The Catastrophy Curve - and from exile, to the very frontiers of war.

Lament for the Fallen by Gavin Chait, Transworld, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-857-52369-3.
Reminiscent – the pre-publicaiton blurb says – of the fiction of David Mitchell, Michel Faber and J G Ballard, this darkly compelling literary science fiction debut tells a story that is bleak and brutal and yet also shot through with hope and a transcendent sense of wonder. 'Father, tell me a story?' asks Isaiah, moments before a strange alien craft falls from the sky and smashes into the jungle near his isolated Nigerian community. Inside the ruined vessel the villagers find the shattered body of a man. He is called Samara and he is a man unlike any they have seen before - a man who is perhaps something more than human. With his orbital city home of Achenia hiding in the rubble left by a devastating war, Samara has fallen 35,000 km to Earth in order to escape from the automated hell of the space-based prison called Tartarus. As he struggles to heal himself, he helps transform the lives of his rescuers but in so doing attracts the attention of the brutal warlord who rules over this benighted, ravaged post-21st century land, threatening the very existence of the villagers themselves and the one, slim chance Samara has of finding his way home and to the woman he loves. And all the while - in the darkness above - waits the simmering fury that lies at the heart of Tartarus…

Death's End by Liu Cixin, Head of Zeus, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-784-97163-2.
This is the final in the trilogy that began with The Three Body Problem that won the 2015 Hugo Award for 'Best Novel'.

Javelin Rain by Myke Cole, Headline, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-472-21191-0.
Shadow ops military SF.

Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50425-4.
This is the 5th novel in the 'Expanse' series.

Star Carrier 7 by Ian Douglas, Harper Voyager, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-008-12109-9.
7th in the action sci-fi series.

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde, Hodder, £17.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-444-76358-4.
Science fantasy. In a world where all humans must enter a state of dreamless sleep to hibernate through a brutally cold winter, a group of Sleep Marshalls diligently watch over the sleeping citizens. When junior Sleep Marshall John Fugue finds himself in a forgotten outpost, he hears of a viral dream spreading amongst those in hibernation, causing paranoia and psychosis – and an episode that can end in murder. After entering the Sleepstate himself Fugue wakes two months later to discover that all who knew about the dream have disappeared. But Fugue can recall parts of the dream – which shouldn’t be possible...

The Tabit Genesis by Tony Gonzales, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09323-2.
Two ships carry the last of humanity. Earth has been taken over by aliens seeking to wipe our species out.

Extinction Biome: Invasion by Addison Gun, Abaddon, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-781-08388-8.
They have always been here and now they want the planet…

A Night Without Stars by Peter Hamilton, Del Rey, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-345-54722-4.
Set in Hamilton's 'Commonwealth' universe. After centuries trapped inside the Void, the planet Bienvenido – along with its inhabitants, both human and Faller – has been expelled into normal space. But the survivors are millions of light-years from the Commonwealth, which knows nothing of their existence. As the two races plunge into mortal conflict for sole possession of the planet, the humans seem destined to lose despite the assistance of the mysterious Warrior Angel, who possesses forbidden Commonwealth technology.

The Last Gasp by Trevor Hoyle, Jo Fletcher Books, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-848-66455-5.
An SF thriller in which oxygen is being lost from the atmosphere… Scientists have been warning for decades that we are poisoning the Earth. Now their prophecy is coming true. The oceans have become polluted, destroying a crucial link in the planet’s life-support system. While corrupt superpowers plot to secure the last remaining clean air for the privileged few, one team of maverick scientists from across the globe are the planet’s only hope. Time is short. The air is running out.

The Flicker Men by Ted Kosmatka, Michael Joseph, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-405-91665-1.
A quantum, physicist stumbles across evidence for the human soul…

Nemesis by Alex Lamb, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20613-7.
Years ago, one starship and its crew discovered an alien entity which changed everything. Its discovery finally brought an end to the interstellar war being fought between the masses of humanity and the few pockets of genetically engineered colonists. An uneasy peace was negotiated as the human race realised there was something else sharing our universe. Something that had plans for us... This follows on from Roboteer.

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, Faber &Faber, £8.99. pbk. ISBN 978-0-571-31157-6.
This is a very welcome reprint of a European classic. This 1961 novel from the Polish SF grandmaster, sees a number of deaths among the crew of space station observing an alien ocean world. An investigator arrives and begins to get visitations of those he knew back on Earth… If you are a young, serious SF book reader that has not got this then this is a title you will want to check out. This novel spawned two films.

World of Water by James Lovegrove, Solaris, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-781-08304-8.
Dave Harmer gets a new body in the seas of an alien world…

Into Everywhere by Paul McAuley, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20398-3.
This is McAuley's latest Jackeroo story. Don't worry if you have not read any Jackeroo stories before as they are stand-alone. The one before this, Something Coming Through, was an SF police procedural with a murder on a colony world made accessible by the alien Jackeroo. The Jackaroo gave humanity access to alien worlds and technologies, yet we still know nothing about them. As humanity spreads wider into the universe, will we discover what secrets they are hiding? And will we discover if the aliens really are here to help us?  McAuley has an established following and writes diverse novels.

Thunderbird by Jack McDevitt, Headline, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-472-23433-9.
What is effectively a 'stargate' type portal is discovered in an American Indian reserve. Being on a native American land means that the local community has control of access but the government looks on and helps with the exploration of three destinations to which it leads: a subterranean maze, a forest on a world orbiting a Saturn-like ringed world, and an airless space station… This is solid SF adventure. Perhaps a little lightweight but deftly using a number of established SF tropes.  Click on the title link for a standalone review.

Bad Company: First Casualties by Peter Milligan, 2000AD, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-781-08442-7.
Graphic novel. Futuristic warfare with a platoon you'd not want to be up against. Bad Company first appeared in 2000AD in the early 1980s. This is a welcome compilation.

Sleeping Guards by Sylvain Neuval, Michael Joseph, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-718-18168-0.
An 11 year-old called Rose discovers a giant metal hand deep in the Earth. Years later, as an adult scientist, she leads an investigation into the object. The artefact is not of this Earth… Sony has reportedly optioned this novel for a film.

South by Frank Owen, Corvus, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-782-39890-5.
Set in a post-apocalyptic, pathogen-ridden America there are strict societal controls…

The Long Cosmos by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, Random House, £18.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-857-52178-1.
Completed by the authors some eighteen months before Terry Pratchett's untimely death, The Long Cosmos is the grand climax of the 'Long Earth' series. Terry had always wanted to explore the question ‘what’s it all for?’ - and in this novel, we find an answer… 2070-71.N early six decades after Step Day and in the Long Earth, the new Next post-human society continues to evolve. For Joshua Valienté, now in his late sixties, it is time to take one last solo journey into the High Meggers: an adventure that turns into a disaster. Alone and facing death, his only hope of salvation lies with a group of trolls. But as Joshua confronts his mortality, the Long Earth receives a signal from the stars. A signal that is picked up by radio astronomers but also in more abstract ways – by the trolls and by the Great Traversers. Its message is simple but its implications are enormous: JOIN US. The super-smart Next realise that the Message contains instructions on how to develop an immense artificial intelligence but to build it they have to seek help from throughout the industrious worlds of mankind. Bit by bit, byte by byte, they assemble a computer the size of a continent – a device that will alter the Long Earth’s place within the cosmos and reveal the ultimate goal of those who sent the Message. Its impact will be felt by and resonate with all – mankind and other species, young and old, communities and individuals – who inhabit the Long Earths.

The Long Utopia by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, Corgi, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-552-16936-3.
This is the fourth in the hard-ish SF series about a line of parallel Earths. The series began with The Long Earth and continued with The Long War and The Long Mars .  Sadly, will be the second last in the series due to his recent demise. The series concludes with The Long Cosmos (see above). For a standalone review, click on the title link.

The Medusa Chronicles by Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter, Orion, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21018-9.
This is loose sequel to Arthur C. Clarke's 'A Meeting With Medusa' has been much publicised and the trade (rightly) expects it to acquire a strong reader base. Following an accident that almost cost him his life, Howard Falcon was not so much saved as he was converted, through the use of prosthetics, into something faster, stronger and smarter. And with this change came an opportunity. That of piloting a mission into Jupiter’s atmosphere, and ultimately of making first contact with the Jovian life-forms.

Poseidon's Wake by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09051-4.
Click on the title link for a standalone review.  This is widescreen space opera from the reigning master of this specialist genre. It is the mass paperback release of last year's hardback and trade paperback editions. It is the third in a trilogy but, having said that, it can almost be read as a standalone. Yet again, this is such great hard SF space opera that you may want to go back to the beginning and get Blue Remembered Earth first.

Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21531-3.
A re-visitation/re-boot to Verne's classic with an out-of-control submarine diving to depths as its crew succumbs to madness…  By our reckoning this is the second mass-market edition after the first one last year… So it must be selling well.

Waking Hell by Al Robertson, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20343-3.
On Station the dead live on, haunting the living as digital ghosts drawn from the downloaded memories of the deceased. Hell is a series of hard-drives where those who cannot haunt are stored. But now one woman must journey into the hard-drives to solve a murder. This is a mix of classic cyberpunk tropes with a fresh take on how we will live in a virtually-enhanced reality. See also below to which this is a sequel.

Crashing Heaven by Al Robertson, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20341-9.
Humanity has abandoned Earth for the asteroids in sentient, Pantheon corporation run communities. This was a debut novel and apparently Gollancz has a lot of faith in Robertson.  See also above.

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50048-5.
This is the paperback release of last year's hardback. Humanity is leaving the Solar System… As we reported at the beginning of the year in our regular slot looking back at the Best SF of the previous year (2015) we heard favourably things about this but alas weren't favoured with a copy to review.

Regeneration by Stephanie Saulter, Jo Fletcher Books, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-008-13254-5.
A biohazard scare in London has a focus in a base for genetically modified humans who can breathe water…

The End of all Things by John Scalzi, Tor, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-29050-6.
Set in the same universe as the Hugo nominated novel Old Man's War. The Colonial Union's Defence Force was formed to save humanity when in an overpopulated universe alien species targeted our worlds. Now Lieutenant Harry Wilson has an urgent new mission, as a hostile universe becomes ever more dangerous. He must investigate a sinister group, which lurks in the darkness of space playing different factions against one another. They'll target both humans and aliens, and their motives are unfathomable.

Way Down Dark by J. P. Smyth, Hodder Paperbacks, £6.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-444-79633-9.
Click on the title link for a standalone review.  A tense, action packed, character rich science fiction story set maybe a few hundred years in the future on what the inhabitants believe to be a colony ship, the Australia, launched at the stars…  Our Mark hugely liked it.

Long Dark Dusk by J. P. Smyth, Hodder, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-444-79637-7.
Life was simple on board Australia: you fight or you die. But things are a lot more complicated on Earth… The follow-up to Way Down Dark.

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, Borough, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-008-13254-5.
We cited this back in January as one of the best SF books of the previous year (2015). This is the mass market paperback edition.

Monday Starts on Saturday by Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20221-4.
This is a reprint of their 1965 novel. The Strugatskies wrote SF under the Soviet regime and as such in a climate of severe censorship, consequently their work is codified using SF to disguise the real targets of their writing. This novel has a folk tale feel that looks at science and technology in an alienated society. The Strugatskies are required reading for serious book aficionados seeking to sample non-Anglophone SF.

Hunters and Collectors by M. Suddain, Jonathan Cape, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-224-09704-8.
The Universe's most feared food critic (though he prefers the term 'forensic gastronomer') is on a quest to find the Hotel Grand Skies patronised by the richest and most famous…

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Pan, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-27330-1.
Better known for his 'Shadows of the Apt' this is a more traditional widescreen space opera but nonetheless as inventive as his other work. In this case the survivors of Earth leave. One person has a vision to find a world and colonise it with monkeys (a kind of reverse 2001) to avoid the mistakes of humanity…  Click on the title link for a standalone review.

Judge Dredd: Dead Zone by John Wagner and Henry Flint, 2000AD, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-781-08425-0.
Graphic novel. This is a compilation of two connected Dredd stories that themselves fit into the recent 'Day of Chaos' sequence that began with The Fourth Faction. 'Day of Chaos' is over and millions of Mega City One's dead have been buried outside the city in mass graves with memorial parks. One of these sees a Cursed Earth family of slavers mine the pits for loot. One of their slaves finds a bracelet that makes the wearer invisible… This first story was published in the Judge Dredd Megazine in 2014/5 and introduces a new dimension to the Dredd universe which – if 2000AD further explores – could lead to a rich vein of possibilities that sit alongside or include Dredd's Helter Skelter. The compilation also features the sequel 'Bub'.

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker, Del Rey, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-785-03266-0.
Overweight slob, under-performing husband and reluctant father – for Ed, the world may as well have already ended. So when it does end in a catastrophic asteroid strike and Edgar and his family find refuge in an Edinburgh army barracks, it comes as something of a relief. But nothing's ever that simple. Returning from a salvage run in the city, Edgar finds his family gone, taken to the south coast for evacuation by an international task force. Suddenly he finds himself facing a gruelling journey on foot across a devastated Britain. Edgar must race against time and overcome his own short-comings, not to mention 100 mile canyons and a heavily flooded west coast, to find the people he loves before he loses them forever...

Rig by Jon Wallace, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-11889-8.
A final post-apocalyptic mission for (replicant) Kenstibec – a quest to meet his maker and discover why we lost the world to war… A sort of a cross between Bladerunner (from the replicant's perspective) and Mad Max (but in a wetter, ruined Britain). Action with a solid SF trope or two, and laced with a generous dash of dark humour. This follows on from Barricade and Steeple.

Judge Dredd: Titan by Rob Williams and Henry Flint, 2000AD, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-781-08440-3.
Graphic novel. A romp of an outing for Dredd fans as the man is sent to lead a squad of Mega City One space marines' finest to quell a rebellion of convicted Judges on Titan. The plot is not particularly well thought out (tad ridiculous) and it not an intrinsic part of any Dredd long-running arc. However for Dredd regulars it’s a bit of an off-piste high-jinx.

The Ocean of Time by David Wingrove, Del Rey, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-091-95618-9.
Science fantasy thriller about a war raged across time.


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 2016

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch, Gollancz, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13255-9.
Another gripping and hilarious adventure through the secret streets of London. A tour of what remains, and an insight into what once was, with a liberal sprinkling of folklore, myth and violent crime. Peter Grant is back – as are Nightingale et al – at the Folly and the various river gods, ghosts and spirits who attach themselves to England’s last wizard and the Met’s reluctant investigator of all things supernatural… Set in the same world as Rivers of London.

Sharp Ends: Stories from the World of The First Law by Joe Abercrombie, Gollancz, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-10467-9.
This collection combines a mix of original and award-winning short stories collected together for the first time, including the Locus Award-winning ‘Tough Times All Over’. The brand-new shorts will feature some of the most popular characters from the First Law world, including Glokta, Jezal, Logen Ninefingers, Bethod and Monza Murcatto.

Second Lives: The TimeBomb Trilogy Book 2 by Scott K. Andrews, Hodder & Stoughton, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-444-75209-0.
It began when three people from three different moments in history discovered that they could travel through time when they clasped hands. But the mysteries surrounding them have only deepened. Jana, Kaz and Dora have escaped from their mysterious enemy, Quil, wounded and scared. Taking refuge in a place outside of time, they devise a plan to change the past, altering Quil’s life so that she never meets them.

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard, Orion, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-409-16533-0.
This is the prequel to Red Queen that precedes the events of Red rebellion. This juvenile fantasy author has a steady following.

Heart of Granite, Blood and Fire by James Barclay, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20243-6.
Science fantasy as this is a fantasy genre take on Battlestar Galactica. Max Halloran is a pilot. A fighter. A Hero. And his life is a round of battle and victory – until he uncovers a series of game-changing government lies which threaten the lives of his squad more surely than any war. Combining politics, war and romance into a gripping story, against the backdrop of a vicious daily war for survival…

Conjuror by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman, Head of Zeus, £12, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-781-85637-6.
A new fantasy trilogy from a brother and sister writing team that includes Torchwood actor John.

Sockpuppet by Matthew Blakstad, Hodder & Stoughton, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-473-62472-6.
Techno-thriller/SF cross. You shared your life online. Now, how will you get it back? Twitter. Facebook. Whatsapp. Google Maps. Every day you share everything about yourself – where you go, what you eat, what you buy, what you think – online. If someone wants to know everything about you, all they have to do is look. But what happens when someone starts spilling state secrets? For politician Bethany Leherer and programmer Danielle Farr, that’s not just an interesting thought-experiment. An online celebrity called sic_girl has started telling the world too much about Bethany and Dani. There’s just one problem: sic_girl doesn’t exist. She’s a construct, a program used to test code. Now Dani and Bethany must race against the clock to find out who’s controlling sic_girl and why. . . before she destroys the privacy of everyone in the UK.

The Darkling Child by Terry Brooks, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50221-2.
A new, standalone Shannara novel.

The Vorrh by Brian Catling, Coronet, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-60663-0.
The Vorhh is a forest which sucks souls and wipes minds… This originally came out back in 2007 and is a bit of a modern fantasy classic. The hardback was re-issued last year and this year we have the first mass market edition for a few years. Click on the title link for Arthur's standalone review.

The Mammoth Book of Cthulu by Paula Brown (ed), Robinson, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-472-12003-8.
An anthology of shorts with a Lovecraftian theme.

The Fall of the Dagger by Glenda Clarke, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50271-7.
The conclusion of a trilogy following The Dagger's Path.

A Time of Torment by John Connolly, Hodder, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-444-75157-4
Private detective Charlie Parker is not like other men. He died, and was reborn. He is ready to wage war. Now he will descend upon a strange, isolated community and face a force of men who rule by terror, intimidation, and murder. All in the name of the being they serve.

Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? by Paul Cornell, Tor, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-447-27324-0.
The third book in the Shadow Police series following London Falling and The Severed Streets. Someone has murdered the ghost of Sherlock Holmes. But who is responsible - and will the murderer strike again? As a fictional character remembered by the people of London, Holmes' ghost walked the city. But someone put a ceremonial dagger through his chest, with fatal consequences. What could be the motive?

The Stars Askew by Rjurik Davidson, Tor, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-25242-9.
With the seditionists in power, Caeli-Amur has begun a new age. Or has it? The escaped House officials no longer send food, and the city is starving. When the moderate leader, Aceline, is murdered, the trail leads the philosopher-assassin Kata to a mysterious book that explains how to control the fabled Prism of Alerion. The sequel to Unwrapped Sky.

The Silver Kings by Stephen Deas, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-10062-6.
The conclusion to the series that began with The Admantine Palace.

Knight's Shadow by Sebastian de Castell, Jo Fletcher Books, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-782-06678-1.
The King of Tristia has been beheaded and his Greatcoats branded as traitors but who now must protect the heir to the throne.

Saint's Brood by Sebastian de Castell, Jo Fletcher Books, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-782-06680-4.
The third in the series following Traitor's Blade and Knight's Shadow. How do you kill a saint? Falcio, Kest, and Brasti are about to find out, because someone has figured out a way to do it and they’ve started with a friend.

Broken Crown by Lauren Destefano, Voyager, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-54128-7.
Book 3 of the 'Internment Chronicles'.

Augur’s Gambit by Stephen Donaldson, Gollancz, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21447-7.
The first of two brand new novellas from an acknowledged master of fantasy (for the other see below). Stephen Donaldson returns with two new novellas, with all the rich word-building and acute characterisation that readers have come to expect from the man who re-invigorated the whole genre in the 1980s and went on to write one of Fantasy’s landmark series 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant'. This is a real treat for fantasy fans, both those previously acquainted with Donaldson as well as for those for whom he is a new discovery. Old-timers will welcome more of his writing; newcomers get a chance to sample his work without having to tackle the – what may at first seem intimidating – giant 'Thomas Covenant' epic. (This last is a joy for you to come except that, unlike those who read it the first time around, you will not have to wait many years between books.)

The King’s Justice by Stephen Donaldson, Gollancz, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21449-1.
The second of two new novellas. See above.

Fall of Light by Steven Erikson, Bantam Press, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-593-06219-7.
The second in the Kharkanas trilogy and also a prequel to The Malazan Book of the Fallen. The Malazan books have a respectable following. It is a bitter winter and civil war is ravaging Kurald Galain. Urusander’s Legion prepares to march on the city of Kharkanas. The rebels’ only opposition lies scattered and weakened - bereft of a leader since Anomander’s departure in search of his estranged brother. The remaining brother, Silchas Ruin, rules in his stead. He seeks to gather the Houseblades of the Highborn families to him and resurrect the Hust Legion in the southlands, but he is fast running out of time.

Fire Bound by Christine Feehan, Piatkus, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0349-41032-6.
Paranormal romance.

Idle Hands by Tom Fletcher, Jo Fletcher Books, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-848-66256-8.
Idle Hands is an ancient disease that once tore through the Discard, and if Wild Alan doesn’t find a way into the Black Pyramid and administer the cure to his son, Billy, it will soon be stalking Gleam once again…

The Edge of the Light by Elizabeth George, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-444-72010-5.
Instead of being a fabulous gift, Becca’s ability to hear the broken thoughts of others is an obstacle. More seriously, it makes her think she knows things that she doesn’t know at all. Becca’s friends are also doing their best to navigate a difficult world. Seth Darrow’s learning disabilities make him vulnerable, especially to his deceitful girlfriend. His grandfather might lose his property and be thrust into care. Jenn has to come to terms with her sexuality, while Derric discovers that the cover-up he has engaged in for the last ten years was never necessary in the first place.

The First Confessor by Terry Goodkind, Head of Zeus, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-784-97201-1.
Sword & Sorcery. Prequel to 'The Sword of Truth' sequence.

The Map of Bones by Francesca Haig, Voyager, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-007-56309-8.
The second in the 'Fire Sermon' series. DreamWorks has optioned for a film and the author is working on the screenstory.

The Adversaries by David Hair, Jo Fletcher Books, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-857-05361-9.
Everyone’s talking about Swayamvara Live! This brand-new TV reality show is recreating the ages-old custom where young men compete for the hand of a noble bride. In this case, the bride is Bollywood stunner Sunita Ashoka, who’s pledged to marry the man who wins the on-screen contest. For Vikram Khandavani, it’s a chance to draw out his nemesis Ravindra, the reincarnated sorcerer-king – but he’s taking a deadly gamble…

Night Shift by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09292 1.
Death seems to be plaguing the residents of Midnight, Texas – and there’s no rest for the wicked. There’s a small town in Texas called Midnight. It stands at a crossroads, where pawnbrokers rub shoulders with vampires, bounty hunters with shopkeepers, and a brand new mystery is waiting to be solved…

Dark Paths by Markus Heitz, Jo Fletcher Books, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-782-06594-4.
Outside the älfars’ conquered lands lies a forgotten empire. Here, the survivors of a mysterious outbreak wait under the leadership of Caphalor’s friend Aïsolon. Cut off, they wait to be called back to their people. Meanwhile, triplets Sisaroth, Tirigon and Firüsha are accused of murder and banished to a dark underground place. There, Sisaroth meets a dwarf, Tungdil, who will change the fate of the älfar and the dwarves forever.

Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn, Picador, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-509-81247-9.
The first in a new series.

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-44-79321-5.
A British debut for the writer who last year won a 'Best Novelette' Hugo Award (which was lucky as only another author's ineligibility enabled Heuvelt move up into the shortlist and so be considered for the award). Hex is a supernatural thriller set in a small US town that is haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. The local lore has it that if ever the stitches are cut pen the whole town will die. The town's elders have managed to preserve the status quo through isolating the community from the outside world. However, frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting.

The Fireman by Joe Hill, Gollancz, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13071-5.
Science fantasy. The brightest flames start with a single spark. Harper is pregnant. Only the day she finds out is also the day she learns she has a terminal disease. Known as dragonscale, it’s sweeping the country in an epidemic which leaves people and infrastructure alike destroyed in its wake. And those people who contract it have an average life expectancy of four months. Harper needs longer. She’s determined to live for long enough to give birth to her child. Even if the path to her survival means tracking down one of this new burnt world’s most elusive men: the fireman…

Heartland by Lucy Hounsom, Tor, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-447-26857-4.
Kyndra has taken on the sunken citadel of Naris and won - for now. In its subterranean chambers, she faced its dangerous politics and a fanatical sect. And as she discovered more about herself than she ever believed possible, she almost lost her life. Now, she's changed the rules for a whole world, but her greatest challenge is still to come.

City of Woven Streets by Enmi Itaranta, Voyager, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-53606-1.
This is this Finnish author's second novel.

Burned by Benedict Jacka, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50440-7.
The 7th in the urban fantasy series featuring Alex Verus owner of a magic shop in Camden and who can see into the future.

The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, Bantam, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-593-07313-1.
The conclusion of the Tearling trilogy.

Dragonbane by Sherrilyn Keynon, Piatkus, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-394-0072-3.
A new 'Dark Hunter' novel.

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu, Head of Zeus, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-784-97323-0.
The debut novel from the award-winning (Nebula and Hugo) writer of short stories.

Stranger of Tempest by Tom Lloyd, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21317-3.
Brand new heroic fantasy from the author of the 'Twilight Reign' series. Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour; little could compel him to join a mercenary company, but he won’t turn his back on a kidnapped girl. At least the job seems simple enough, so long as there are no surprises or hidden agendas along the way...

The Gentlemen Bastard Series by Scott Lynch, Gollancz, £27, boxed set. ISBN 978-1-473-21445-3.
A box set of the trilogy that began with The Lies of Locke Lamora.

Ashes of Honour by Seanan McGuire, Corsair, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-472-12012-0.
The 6th in the Toby Day urban fantasy series.

After Alice by Gregory Maguire, Headline, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-472-23046-1.
Ada, Alice's friend, follows Alice down the rabbit hole…

The Shadowed Path by Gail Z. Martin, Solaris, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-781-08438-0.
All the Jonmarc Vahanian stories from the Summoner series in one book.

Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville, Picador, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-23500-2.
Short story collection.

The Whispering Swarm by Michael Moorcock, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21333-3.
This is Moorcock's own hybrid of autobiography and fantasy. Click on the title link for Jonathan's standalone review.

Midnight Marked by Chloe Neil, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20851-3.
Merit is one of Chicago’s most skilled vampire warriors – these days, she doesn’t scare easily. But she and Master vampire Ethan have made a new and powerful enemy, and he won't give up until he owns the Windy City.

The Veil by Chloe Neil, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-475-21534-4.
Seven years ago, the Veil that separates us from what lies beyond was torn apart, and New Orleans was engulfed in a supernatural war. Now, those with paranormal powers have been confined in a walled community that humans call the District. Those who live there call it Devil’s Isle. Even there, Claire has to keep her abilities hidden…

The Malice by Peter Newman, Voyager, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-007-59316-3.
This is the sequel to Newman's debut, The Vagrant.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Pan Books, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-29414-6.
Fairy tale inspired fantasy.

Leviathan's Blood by Ben Peek, Macmillan, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-447-25131-6.
The second in the juvenile fantasy series following The Godless.

Tales from the Kingdoms by Sarah Pinborough, Gollancz, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-478-20233-7.
An illustrated and thoughtful re-telling of classic fairytales.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Little Brown, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-751-565355-5.
Set 19 years after Deathly Hallows and we find Harry overworked at the Ministry of Magic with kids… This will be released the day after the launch of the play.  No surprises that this will fly out of the bookshops, less to magic and more to the fact that so far over 450 million copies of Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide.

Wings by Terry Pratchett, Random House, £6.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-552-57335-1.
Juvenile fantasy by the acclaimed author we lost far too soon.

Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi, Gollancz, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20327-3.
It is 1958. The Second World War never happened. In the 1930s, the armies of the afterlife – known as Summerland – conquered the world of the living. How do you start a revolution against rulers you cannot escape even in death?

The Damned by Tarn Richardson, Duckworth, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-715—65-68-4.
Set on the battlefield of an alternate First world War where dark forces roam… A sequel, The Fallen, is to follow.

Runaway Vampire by Lynsay Sands, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20504-8.
The latest entry in the paranormal vampire series featuring the Argeneau family – wickedly funny and irresistibly steamy like Lynsay Sands!

The Tower of Swallows by Andrzej Sapkowski, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21156-8.
The saga of 'The Witcher' continues, with the latest novel in the original series which inspired the computer game. The Child of Destiny has been lost, and an unlikely group of adventurers must find her. But she has powers of her own, and may not wish to be found…

Vigil by Angela Slatter, Jo Fletcher Books, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-784-29402-1
Verity Fassbinder has her feet in two worlds. The daughter of one human and one Weyrd parent, she has the ability to walk between us and the other. As such, she is charged with keeping the peace and ensuring the Weyrd remain hidden from us. But now Sirens are dying and Verity must investigate – or risk ancient forces carving our world apart.

The Last Mortal Bond by Brian Staveley, Tor, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-230-77045-4.
The trilogy that began with The Emperor's Blades and continued in The Providence of Fire reaches its epic conclusion. And war engulfs the Annurian Empire.

Cursed by Sue Tingey, Jo Fletcher Books, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-784-29078-8.
Lucky de Salle, who can see ghosts in the human and daemon worlds, is looking for a friend who has mysteriously disappeared. However, de Salle himself is being pursued by a daemon.

The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief by Lisa Tuttle, Jo Fletcher Books, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-784-29960-6
Should you find yourself in need of a discreet investigation think of Jesperson and Lane. Miss Lane works with Mr Jasper Jesperson as a consulting detective, but cases are not plentiful and money is getting tight – until several mediums are kidnapped from across London. There is only one team that can investigate these seemingly supernatural disappearances: Jesperson and Lane, at your service.

The Beast by J. R. Ward, Piatkus, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0349-40912-2.
The 14th in the 'Black Dagger Brotherhood' sequence.

Resurgence by Kerry Wilkinson, Pan, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-23532-3.
Third in the Silver Blackthorn trilogy.

The Boy Who Killed Demons by Dave Zeltserman, Duckworth, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-715-65066-0.
A teenager can see demons…


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 2016

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

Black Hole by Marcia Bartusiak, Yale University Press, £10.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-300-21966-1.
This celebrates last year's 100th anniversary of general relativity.

The Great Acceleration: How the World is Getting Faster, Faster by Robert Colville, Bloomsbury, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-408-84007-8.
For example, the growth of ever higher frequency trading in the finance sector.

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers and Strategies by Nick Bostrom, Oxford University Press, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-198-73983-8.
With progress being made towards artificial intelligence, superintelligence is on the way and so it is about time we started contemplating the implications. Click on the title link for a full standalone review. Jonathan considers this a 'must have' for hard SF readers into science.

The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life by Richard Dawkins and Yan Wong, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £25, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-474-60056-9.
More evolution explained. This updates previous Dawkins' work.

Brief Candle in the Dark by Richard Dawkins, Black Swan, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-552-77944-9.
This is the second volume of Dawkins' autobiography following An Appetite for Wonder. It covers teaching at Oxford and the publication of his The God Delusion.

Thinking Machines: The Secret Story Behind the Race for Artificial Intelligence by Luke Dormehl, Virgin Books, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-753-55674-0.
The story of the journey of Artificial Intelligence, from a Cold War sci-fi dream, to an actually existing present, and onwards to a bright (and sometimes terrifying) future. Covers character and pattern recognition; learning; machine translation, and dozens of other breakthroughs that have finally taken place over the past several years as the field of Artificial Intelligence has is beginning to come of age.

Gut by Giolia Enders, Scribe UK, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-925-22860-1.
The inside story of the gut from how it works to the best position in which to poo.  Apparently over 1.3 million copies have been sold in Germany since its publication! in 2014.

The Voices Within: The History of Science of How we Talk to Ourselves by Charles Ferneyhough, Profile, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-781-25276-9.

Einstein's Masterwork: 1915 and the General Theory of Relativity by John Gribbin, Icon, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-785-78048-6.
100 years on from its formulation this is a highly accessible account of General Relativity from the longstanding science writer.

The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who by Simon Guerrier & Marek Kukula, BBC Books, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-849-90939-6.
The mass market paperback edition of the first official guide to the science of Doctor Who with new mini-adventures in space and time that illustrate the science being discussed. Click on the title link for a standalone review of the hardback.

The Age of E.M.: Work, Love and Life When Robots Rule the Earth by Robin Hanson, Oxford University Press, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-198-75462-6.
Here 'E.M.' stands for 'brain emulation' hence true artificial intelligence.

Snowball in a Blizzard: The Tricky Problem of Uncertainty in Medicine by Steven Hatch, Atlantic, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-782-39987-2.
Medicine has come a long way. But we are deluged in biomedical information and misinformation be it about the wonders of Prozac to bacon-causes-cancer. Consequently we need to be very aware of the limits of our knowledge, the uncertainties and to recognise the gaps…

The Tyrannosaur Chronicles: The biology of the tyrant dinosaurs by David Hone, Bloomsbury, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-2-472-91125-4.
What science tells us about how they lived, bred and died.

Beyond by Chris Impey, W. W. Norton, £10.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-393-35215-3.
A look at the future of space travel as we contemplate going to and possibly living on Mars.

Genetics in Minutes by Tom Jackson, Quercus, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-784-429606-3.
A concise guide to this branch of biology that touches us all be it in a tangential or life-determining way.

No Need For Geniuses: Revolutionary Science in the Age of the Guillotine by Steve Jones, Little Brown, £25, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-349-40545-2.

Medieval Medicine: Its mysteries and science by Toni Mount, Amberly, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-445-65542-0.
Covers much from the obvious leaches to roasted cat and red bed-curtains.

When We Are No More: How Digital Memory is Shaping our Future by Abby Smith Rumsey, Bloomsbury, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-620-40802-5.
We are storing more and more information. Yet, if you keep a book dry and physically safe, you can still read it after centuries without resorting to any specialist equipment. Conversely, if you keep a computer disk dry and physically safe the chances are that readers for that particular disk will not exist in a decade's time and the format too is similarly likely to become dated. We are, the author warns, moving towards increasing the risk of our losing 40,000 years worth of records of human accomplishment.

The Mysterious World of the Human Genome by Frank Ryan, William Collins, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-54908-5.

Leonard: A Life – My fifty-year friendship with a remarkable man by William Shatner with David Fisher, Sidgwick & Jackson, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-283-07252-9.
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy first met as journeymen actors on the set of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Little did they know that their next roles, in a new science-fiction television series, would shape their lives in ways no one could have anticipated. In seventy-nine television episodes and six feature films, they grew to know each other more than most friends could ever imagine.  David Fisher is (and we quote from the actual publicity blurb) is the author of more than fifteen New York Times bestsellers, including William Shatner's autobiography (sic) Up Till Now.

Forgotten Science: Strange ideas from the scrapheap of history by S. D. Tucker, Amberley, £18.95, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-445-64837-8.
Includes hollow Earths and bees being too religious for sex. The author has a column in the quirky magazine Fortean Times.


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.


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 2016

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Doctor Who: In The Blood by Jenny T. Colgan, BBC Books, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-785-94110-8
Can the Tenth Doctor and Donna save the world from a mysterious sickness – spreading through the internet?  All over the world, people are venting their fury at one another on social media. Dropping their friends, giving vent to their hatred, and everyone behaving with incredible cruelty. Even Donna has found that her friend Hettie, with her seemingly perfect life and fancy house, has unfriended her. And now, all over the world, internet trolls are dying... Jenny T. Colgan has written 16 bestselling novels that have sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide, been translated into 25 languages. She has won both the Melissa Nathan Award and Romantic Novel of the Year 2013. Aged 11, she won a national fan competition to meet the Doctor and was mistaken for a boy by Peter Davison.

Warcraft by Golden Christie, Titan, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-783-29559-3.
The novelisation of the film. Two heroes are on a collision course that will decide the fate of their respective families.

Batman: Facts and statistics from the classic TV show by Joe Desris, Titan, £10.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-783-29469-5.

Harry Potter: The Artefact Vault by Jody Revenson, Titan £24, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-785-65288-2.
This takes us behind the scenes of the Harry Potter films to look at the props and sfx. How were the flying brooms realised and the enchanted maps made?

Dr Who and the Zarbi by Bill Strutton, BBC Books, £6.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-785-95035-5.
This is a reprint of a title first published back in the 1960s and features the first Doctor when he and companions arrive on a world with giant intelligent ants: the Zarbi.

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor, Head of Zeus, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-784-97047-5.
A look at the franchise and its social impact.

Star Wars: Aftermath – Life Debt by Chuck Windig, Century, £19.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-780-89366-2.
Set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.


[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 2016


The Big Bang Theory - Season 9 £18.99 from Warner Home Video.
The brilliant, geek/nerd comedy series about SF-loving scientists (sound familiar?) and the street-wise, young woman in the opposite flat.  See the overall series trailer here.

Childhood's End £22.99 from Universal Pictures UK
2-disc set of the recent mini-series that we rated in our best dramatic presentations of 2015.

Doomwatch £29.99 from Simply Media.
The classic 1960s eco-technothriller series. Yes, it's more than a bit dated but the tropes explored are still familiar today. This 7-disc set covers all the episodes.

Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD £7.99 from Metrodome.
Documentary of the world's greatest comic and the home of Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog, Robo-Hunter and The ABC Warriors among others. The title comes from its occasional 'Future Shock' standalone SF short strips. Splundig.

Helix £7.99 from 101 Films.
This is not the TV series but a separate feature film. In the not-too-distant future, the world is divided into two sectors; the privileged live in Sector One, a place where there's no crime, while in Sector Two there's a daily struggle for food and shelter and violent crime is a regular occurrence.  When a low-level cop, Aiden Magnusson, solves an infamous crime, he is promoted to Sector One and used as a "poster boy" of success. But his newly established status and lavish life is jeopardised when the central computer system that governs his city accuses him of murder; "The system is never wrong and the DNA never lies", so they say. Now Aiden must return to the ruins he once called home to solve the mystery and prove his innocence.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens £9.99 from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
The latest Star Wars film that took the box office by storm.

Trancers Trilogy £19.99 from 88 Films.
This is something of a low-budget, 1980s cult classic. Jack Deth - a bounty hunter in the bleak Los Angeles of the future. He's become obsessed with chasing Whistler - an evil criminal who uses powerful hypnotic powers to convert people into zombie like creatures known as trancers. Whistler has managed to escape through time travel and is loose in 1980s L.A. but Deth is on his trail. See the trailer here.

The X-Files: Event Series £20 from Fox.
One-disc ser of the recent mini-series.


See also our short film and video download tips above.

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 2016


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

Cliff Amos, the US fan, has died aged 67. He was part of the founding generation of Louisville fandom and was also a conrunner and chaired the second NASFic, the 1979 NorthAmeriCon.

Sylvia Anderson, the British television producer, costumer and voice actress, has died aged 88. She is perhaps best known for her work with former husband, television sci-fi grandmaster Gerry Anderson, but this belies her role as a TV executive in the very male-dominated world of the 1950 – '70s; as such she was a trailblazer. With Gerry she worked on Supercar, Stingray, Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Secret Service, Joe 90, UFO and the first season of Space 1999. But perhaps best known for voicing the look-alike Lady Penelope.  She went on to become head of programming for HBO in Britain, and to write a few books including her autobiography Yes M'Lady 1991 that was subsequently expanded as My FAB Years (2007). But in 2015 she sort of reprised her Penelope role – this time playing Lady Penelope's great-aunt Sylvia in a couple of episodes – in the new CGI/model re-boot series Thunderbirds Are Go which is coming to the US this year (2016) (and not to be confused with the 1960s film Thunderbirds Are Go on which she also worked).  +++ Here is a short interview with Sylvia.

Bill Baldwin, the US science fiction author, has died aged 80. He is best known in N. America for the 'Helmsman' space opera series.

Erik Bauersfeld, the US actor, has died aged 93. he is famous among Star Wars fans for playing Admiral Ackbar and the catchphrase 'It's a trap!'. He had a cameo in the recent Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Tony Dyson, the British engineer, has died aged 68. He is especially noted in SF circles for his model building work and special effects direction for various films including: Altered States, Superman ll, Saturn 3, Moonraker and Dragon Slayer. He also designed and built robots for electronic companies including Sony, Philips and Toshiba as well as for a number of TV commercials and leisure parks. Most famously he built eight R2-D2 robots for the Star Wars franchise; though R2-D2 was designed in artwork by Ralph McQuarrie and co-developed by John Stears it was built by Tony Dyson.

Umberto Eco, the Italian writer and philosopher, has died aged 88. "I am a philosopher," he has been quoted as saying, "I write novels only on the weekends." He studied medieval philosophy and literature. He then continued a career in academia. His personal library was split between two homes and amounted to some 50,000 titles. He is best known in genre circles for his fiction which, due to his medieval expertise often had elements of a fantasy riff even though they were set in the real world. These included: The Name of the Rose (1980), a historical mystery set in a 14th-century monastery. Franciscan friar William of Baskerville, aided by his assistant Adso, a Benedictine novice, investigates a series of murders at a monastery that is to host an important religious debate;  Foucault's Pendulum (1988) in which three under-employed editors decide to amuse themselves by inventing a conspiracy theory. Their conspiracy, which they call 'The Plan', is about an intricate plot to take over the world by a secret order descended from the Knights Templar; and The Island of the Day Before (1994) is set in the seventeenth century, and is about a man marooned on a ship within sight of an island which he believes is on the other side of the international date-line. The main character is trapped by his inability to swim and instead spends the bulk of the book reminiscing on his life and the adventures that brought him to be marooned.

Andrew Grove, the US, Hungarian-born computer engineer, has died aged 79. He escaped the WWII Holocaust and emigrated to the US. He became Intel's first computer engineer back in 1968 and went on to become the company's chief executive and chairman. He was instrumental in Intel's successful, exponential increase in Intel's chips' computer power over three decades as well as driving their cost. As such he was central to delivering Moore's Law which has only now being abandoned (see below science and SF interface section).

Michael Hanlon, the British popular science writer, has died aged 51. Hanlon is publicly best known for having been a science correspondent for the Daily Mail (one of Britain's right wing papers with a middle class largely female readership) and then the Daily Telegraph (a right wing paper with a professional class readership). As such for much of his career he was a climate denier claiming that climate change was not happening; a view much in line with his employers' newspaper's then editorial stance. Then in 2008 when the science became indisputable he became a climate sceptic admitting that warming was happening but denying that it could be shown that humans were involved. Then in 2010, after visiting Greenland, he accepted that human-induced climate change was possibly happening. However in other areas he was an accomplished communicator of science. He left full-time journalistic employment a few years ago to found the Jurassica project. Jurassica aims to recreate, using virtual reality and animatronics, the Jurassic Coast of Dorset in an Eden-like dome in a quarry on Portland Isles and has a number of well-positioned supporters who hope it will open in the early 2020s. Indeed it was after a board meeting for the venture that Hanlon collapsed due to a heart attack. Michael Hanlon is perhaps best known in genre circles for his The Science of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005).

David G. Hartwell, the US, multiple Hugo Award winning, science fiction editor, has died aged 74 following a fall down the stairs at his home. He was an English Lit graduate. Then, having worked as a jobbing editor for several publishers, he became a consulting editor at Tor/Forge Books in the early 1980s and became a senior editor there; a post he held at the time of his demise. He was nominated for a Hugo some 40 times and won three times for the 'Best Editor' category. Some of these nominations were not for being a book commissioning editor but for editing individual short story anthologies including a long-running Year’s Best SF series between 1996 and 2013 a number with his wife Kathryn Cramer. Other recognition included his winning two World Fantasy Awards.  He edited many SF luminaries and their works including: Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune and Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, in addition to books by the likes of Gregory Benford, Michael Bishop and Philip K. Dick. He also spent some time chairing the World Fantasy Convention's board and co-administered (with Gordon Van Gelder) the Philip K. Dick Award. Though in his seventies, he still had a number of years in him for further commissioning and no doubt many more with voluntary contributions to the SF world. He has left us far too soon and his unexpected demise has shaken the Anglophone SF book world.

Mark Justice, the US author, has died aged 56. He wrote SF horror, primarily zombie fiction. He was also a radio host.

Morris Keesan, the US fan, has died aged 63. He was a founder member of the Boston-area RISFA-North SF Club. He was active in fanzine fandom and conrunning including being on the staff of the as its Stage Manager for the 1989 Worldcon Noreascon 3. Sadly he was diagnosed with a brain tumour a few weeks before his demise.

David J. Lake, the Indian born, Australian fantasy writer, has died aged 86. He began writing science fiction in 1976. He might be best known for a sequence of books that have a similar riff to Burroughs' 'Barsoom' novels, and a sequel to The Time Machine in 1981, The Man who Loved Morlocks.

Justin Leiber, the US university lecturer, has died aged 77. The son of the SF grandmaster Fritz Leiber Jr., Justin also wrote SF/fantasy of his own including the 'Saga of the House of Eigin' and the 'Beyond' sequences of books.

Marvin Minsky, the US artificial intelligence (A.I>) pioneer, has died aged 88. His books include Steps Toward Artificial Intelligence (1960), which profoundly shaped AI in its earliest days, and Society of Mind (1985), which hypothesised that the brain is essentially an assembly of interacting, specialised, autonomous segments for tasks such as visual processing and knowledge management. His last book was The Emotion Machine (2006) that is understandable by a popular science as well as an academic readership. He was very astute. Once, when a colleague suggested that if ever we developed a really advanced A.I. that we should do a lot of simulation before letting them loose to be sure that they were not dangerous, he guessed his colleagues sentiments saying: "And we're the simulation? t isn't going very well is it?"  During his career he received the A. M. Turing award among other honours.

Edgar Mitchell, the US astronaut, has died aged 85. He is most noted for being the 6th man to walk on the Moon and a member of the Apollo 14 crew in 1971. He and Alan Shepard completed the longest Moon walk to date. His Moon experiences seriously affected him and in 1972 he left NASA to establish the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which aimed to support "'individual and collective transformation through consciousness research'. In 2008, he claimed that aliens had visited Earth and said he believed there was a government cover-up.  Of the 12 men who have set foot on the Moon, seven are still alive.

Joe Raftery, the British filker has died. His first filk was at the 1979 Worldcon in Brighton. He was nominated for the Pegasus Award in 2007. His last major venture was working on the exhibits for Loncon3 the 2014 Worldcon.

Peggy Ranson, the US fan, has died aged 67. Joining fandom in the late 1980s, she was known for being a fan artist and was nominated for a Hugo nine times, winning once (1993).

Jack Robins, the US fan, has died aged 96. The news came in after we posted our spring edition but he died just before Christmas (2015). He was a member of First Fandom and was one of the last two surviving members of the Futurians (the other being the Brit Dave Kyle). He is noted for having organised the Committee for the Political Advancement of Science Fiction and was caught up in the 1939 NYCon 'Exclusion Act' incident but managed to attend the event. In the 1940s, he published ten issues of the fanzine Looking Ahead Of interest to science fact and fiction concateneers, in real life he had a PhD. in Chemistry.

James Sheldon, the US television director, has died aged 95. His genre credits include episodes of the original The Twilight Zone and Batman as well as the spoof spy technothriller The Man From UNCLE. (Not to be confused with the much younger, American film actor, James Sheldon.)

Douglas Slocombe OBE, the British cinematographer, has died aged 103. Normally it is the director that get the appreciation of film buffs but the role of cinematographer (or director of photography), as the head of the production's camera crews, should not be underestimated. Douglas Slocombe following being a photojournalist, started out at Ealing Studios. Overall he worked on an incredible 80 productions that include a number of old classics such as Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) to Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) and The Italian Job (1969). But in genre terms he should be remembered for: Dead of Night (1945); The Man in the White Suit(1951); Circus of Horrors (1960); The Dance of the Vampires [a.k.a. The Fearless Vampire Killers] (1967); Rollerball (1975); Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977); and the first three Indiana Jones films (1981, 1984 and 1989) not to forget the technothriller Bond film Never Say Never Again (1983).

Murray Tinkelman, the US artist, has died aged 82. His principal contribution to the genre was the cover artwork for a couple of score of books including those by Robert Silverberg and John Brunner.

Ray Tomlinson, the US computer programmer, has died aged 74. He is noted for inventing a way of sending a text message from one computer network to another: the e-mail!  In the process he used the '@' symbol within senders' and recipients' addresses. He developed his invention while working in Boston (USA) as an engineer for research firm Bolt, Beranek and Newman: a firm that helped develop the Arpanet early version of the internet. To computer scientists he will be remembered for a number of achievements including helping develop the 'three-way handshake' a computer makes when initially contacting another including the initial 'syn' message to synchronise the two.

Bud Webster, the US fan and author, has died aged 63. He entered fandom four decades ago in the early 1970s and then turned pro writer for the past two with short fiction. He had long-running columns in Fantasy & Science Fiction and the SFWA Bulletin on past masters of SF and his collecting and selling SF. He also ran the SFWA’s Estate Project that encourages authors to sort out their works' intellectual rights before they die and to track down the rights of past authors that have been lost; he built up the Estate Project to cover some 450 authors. He was much loved in US fandom. Sadly his last year was spent fighting bile duct cancer and in his final weeks he was in hospice care.

Michael White, the British producer, has died aged 80. His genre credits include: the Arthurian Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974), the theatrical production of The Rocky Horror Show (1973) and the cinematic The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).


[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 2016


Science & SF conference planned by US Science Fiction museum. The Museum of Science Fiction in Vancouver (US) is the world's second comprehensive Science Fiction Museum (after La Maison d'Ailiers in Switzerland). As one of its latest ventures, the Museum of Science Fiction is organising a conference called Escape Velocity in July (2016). Among others, guests include: Alex Young (Solar astrophysicist), Pam Melroy (astronaut), Michelle Thaller (astronomer) and David Grinspoon (astrobiologist) who will be joining SF professionals Morgan Gendel (Star Trek: Next Gen TV exec.), David Brin (author), Dan Curry (Star Trek SFX and producer), Greg Bear (author), John Morton (actor Star Wars) and James Suriano (author).  Rod Roddenberry will be the keynote speaker. The son of Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, Rod will speak about his father's legacy as the series celebrates its 50^th anniversary this year, as well as his work as president of the Roddenberry Foundation.  Additionally, Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock on Star Trek, will be in attendance and screening his new documentary For the Love of Spock.  Finally, another son of a creator of iconic sci fi TV will also be present, Jamie Anderson, son of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. He will be discussing discuss his father’s legacy as well as his own new project, Firestorm. Firestorm is a new television programme which shares genetic material and the spirit of classic Anderson shows such as Fireball XL5, Captain Scarlet, Space: 1999, UFO and Thunderbirds, the latter celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.  Further details of the event can be found at and

A new 2-year SETI search has started. The SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) Institute in California is to listen to 20,000 of the nearest red dwarf stars over the next couple of years for radio signals from possible alien civilisations. Red dwarfs are the commonest star type and so if any civilisation was found then it is likely that alien intelligence would be very common in the galaxy. Red dwarfs are also long-lived stars and so maximise the chance for technological intelligence to evolve.  +++ SF² Concatenation's biologists point out that red dwarfs are cool (which is why they are long-lived) and so do not present the higher energy yellow light which makes it easier to split water in photosynthesis for high-metabolism life (highly active multicelled animals). So our advice is not to hold your breath expecting this search to yield results other than perhaps to detect Rimmer's socks.

We are ignoring BIG data opportunities says Parliamentary Select Report. In the age of 1984 and Neuromancer it is appropriate that the House of Commons all-party Select Committee on Science & Technology has examined the issue of big data. They found that while big data grows our ability to use it is not.  In 2014 there were 204 million e-mails sent every minute and the total amount of global data is predicted to grow 40% year on year for the next decade. Meanwhile, the Data Centre for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator) processes about one petabyte of data every day — the equivalent of around 210,000 DVDs, and distributes this data across the world via a grid which gives over 8,000 physicists near real-time access.  The Parliamentarians conclude that despite data-driven companies being 10% more productive than those that do not use their data, most companies estimate they are analysing just 12% of their data. Using more big data, the Parliamentarians conclude, the UK economy could potentially benefit from big data by £40 billion a year over the next five years.  We need a big data digital strategy that both enables the sharing of data and protecting sensitive data through criminalising offences. This means updating the Data Protection Act, giving companies a kitemark for best practice data use and protection, and a developing data anonymisation protocols and networks that enable sharing of data while protecting personal attribution… The problem is that we are all a very long way from that.

Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are to be examined in a British all-party Select Committee enquiry. The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is undertaking an inquiry into Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.  The Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Nicola Blackwood MP, says: “Robots are now beating humans at even the most complex games, like Go (see the following article below).  Artificial intelligence (AI) will play an increasing role in our lives over the coming years.  From navigation systems to medical treatments and from new manufacturing techniques to unmanned vehicles, new applications are rapidly being developed that involve robotic decision making.  It is important that the UK is ready with the research, innovation and skills to be able to fully take advantage of the opportunities and manage any risks.  The global market for the AI sector is expected to grow to $2-6 trillion by 2025.”  Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) is one of the ‘Eight Great Technologies’ identified by the UK Government in 2012.

Artificial intelligence beats defeats go world champion. DeepMind AlphaGo program beat South Korea's Lee Se-dol as part of the Seoul games. Google bought the London-based DeepMind in 2014. It had mastered a range of computer games in 2015. It now seems to have also mastered the thousands of years old Chinese game of go by beating Lee Se-dol four games out of five. There was much cheering (from the humans) when Lee Se-dol did win his one game. Google had put up US$1m (£702,000) in case of a human win but donated it to UNICEF STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) charities and Go organisations.

Jack McDevitt has an asteroid named after him. The International Astronomical Union has approved a proposal to name an asteroid after Jack McDevitt. The asteroid 328305, discovered in 2006, is now to be known as 'Jackmcdevitt'.

What does the future hold? What will we be able to do in just four years' time in 2020AD? The multi-disciplinary primary research journal Nature has taken a look at recent trends to see what might be possible in just four years' time in 2020AD.  They conclude:   that broadband speed will improve by 50% by 2020 and the amount of data transferred by the internet double before then in 2019;  that data online currently (2016) at over 11 zettabytes (1022 bytes) will quadruple in 4 years to 44 zettabytes in 2020, which is nearly as many bits as there are stars in the Universe.  This last means that there will be far, far more information for artificial intelligence to mine once we develop it sufficiently. (Butler, D., (ed.), 2016, Nature vol. 399, p399-401. Also CISCO Global Traffic Forecast & IDC Digital Universe Survey.)

Moore's Law is being abandoned by the computer industry. Gordon Moore's 1965 essay (Electronics vol. 38, p114-7) predicted home computers and 'personal portable communications equipment' (mobile phones) as well as estimating that the processing power of a chip would double every year. He revised this in 1975 to doubling every two years and this became known as Moore's Law which has held ever since then.  But one of the reason's Moore's Law has worked is that the semi-conductor industry meets every two years to work out what kit they will need to develop the latest research (to move from 'R' to 'D') and so since 1991 they developed a biannual roadmap for the industry they informally call 'More Moore'.  Today, with top microprocessors having circuit diodes the size of viruses (a little over a dozen nanometres), we are less than half a dozen doublings to the couple of nanometre limit where components are just ten or so atoms across and things like quantum effects begin to interfere.  So this year the roadmap (to be called the International Roadmap for Devices and Systems) is to become a new more-than-Moore strategy that, instead of looking at how to increase chips' processing power, will look at new hypothetical applications and then decide what chip designs are need to support them.
          But don't think that Moore's Law has ended just yet. As we have recently reported there are new developments that could see us take processing down to the near-atomic level. Also, most home computers and mobile phones do not currently use top of the range chips and so such devices could easily in the future become at least tens of thousands of times more powerful than they are at the moment.

Luxembourg becomes the first country to signal official support for mining in space. Not only is Luxembourg going to invest in space mining research and development, it will also put in place a legal framework to give operators who are based in the country the confidence to engage in space mining ventures. Some have raised a concern that Luxembourg's legislation might contravene the UN's 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Luxembourg's economic minister, Etienne Schneider, has said: "These rules prohibit the appropriation of space and celestial bodies but they do not exclude the appropriation of materials which can be found there."  The potential for mining is considerable: there have been some 13,500 near-Earth asteroids so far discovered. Luxembourg, though small, is active in space technology. It is the headquarters of SES, the world's largest commercial satellite telecommunications company, that relays thousands of TV stations. Intelsat, the second biggest company by revenue, also has offices there.

Recent on-line 'brain tests', that supposedly tell you whether your brain is left or right hemisphere dominant, are pure science fiction. They are though popular, several such test have been shared hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook. Supposedly your left side of the brain is associated more with logic and rationality, and the right side controls creativity and emotion. This is loosely based on genuine and longstanding research showing that different parts of the brain have different functions. But it is a leap to conclude that separating the brain's into two 'logical' and 'emotional' halves. Now new research affirms that such a belief is purely pop psychology, not science. Jeffrey Anderson and colleagues at University of Utah (USA) have looked at the brains of more than a thousand people. They found strong connections on both sides of the brain. Their results, reported in the journal PLoS, show that connections were distributed fairly evenly within both halves so that there were not more connections on one side. This builds on other, past work on hemisphere dominance. Of course this does not mean that growing brains in a different biochemical environment (such as stressed people with more adrenaline or gender-related hormones, among a great number of possibilities) leads to individuals' brains processing information in the exactly the same way.

A new cryogenic way of storing brains has been developed that keeps their synaptic structure intact. The Californian researchers use an aldehyde-based solution introduced into the (in this test case a rabbit) carotid artery and flushing out via the jugular. The brains were then removed and stored at -135°C. Up to now techniques have failed to scale to the whole organ and there have also been problems with ice crystal formation rupturing cells. With this technique, cells throughout the brain remained intact (see McIntyre & Fahy (2015) Cryobiologyvol. 71, pp448-458). While this is a step forward, it should be remembered that this process actually kills the brain before freezing (which itself is lethal), so do not expect suspended animation techniques any time soon.

Do we all think the same? New research has found that languages have similarities greater than their structures. We all know we perceive things, and then we talk about them. But do we perceive things and value them the same, and if so will such similarities will be reflected in language?  Now an international team of philosophers, linguists and mathematicians examining 81 languages has found evidence to support this idea. They looked at polysemous words in many languages. (A polysemous word has more than one meaning.) Translations uncover instances of polysemy where two or more concepts are fundamentally different enough to receive distinct words in some languages, yet similar enough to share a common word in other languages. The mathematical frequency with which two concepts share a single polysemous word in a sample of unrelated languages provides a measure of semantic similarity between them. In other words this is an examination of the meaning of words as opposed to the words themselves and so a study of human perception and value. For instance in English there is clearly an obvious association between Moon and month but in some languages they are closer with a single word that means both. The researchers have even drawn a map of a hundred or so words that cluster. (See Youn, H. et al. 2016. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1520752113.)… +++ Concatenation comment. The implications for encountering an extraterrestrial intelligence are interesting.

Apocalyptic SF both reflects recent historical experiences as well as current fears is the conclusion of a dissertation that is now publicly available. Apocalyptic themes are firmly established tropes of SF from Wells' Shape of Things to Come, through wyndham's The Day of the Triffids through to the quiet Earths (and not so quiet zombie Earths) fiction of today. Apocalyptic fiction traces the move away from a biblical understanding of humankind and its destiny towards a secular interpretation of the origin of human life and future of the Earth. The genre provides a vehicle to explore the fragility, fallibility and finite nature of humankind. Current trends point to the twin fears of global pandemic and warming.  You can download A History of Fear: British Apocalyptic Fiction by Martin Hermann from and a print version is also available with the ISBN 978-3-7375-5774-0.

US intelligence says gene editing is a potential weapon of mass destruction. James Clapper, the director of US national intelligence, has warned in his annual threat assessment to the US senate that genome-editing should be ranked alongside nuclear terrorism and other threats. CRISPR-Cas9 is a new technique that precisely targets genes and which took the bioscience community by storm in 2014/5: as we previously reported it can even alter the genetics of whole populations and, for example, is being used to create sterile mosquitoes in a bid to eradicate malaria. The concern is that not only can it be used for betterment but also for adverse technologies such as creating bioweapons. The report notes that using CRISPR-Cas9 is low cost and that it is now widely as well as increasingly used. Furthermore, some adverse aspects may be accidental arising out of well-meaning motives...

A Microsoft artificial intelligence (AI) that became Ηïtler-loving and in¢ëst-encouraging is just one of the stories in this year's Gaia column of science and SF oddities and whimsy.  You can see this year's Gaia column here and the index to all the annual Gaia columns here.



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

Summer 2016

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: the veritable legion of others, including some Brits and other Europeans, quietly sending in views, pointers and unofficial personal comment and views who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, and finally thanks not least the very many representatives of SF groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk who sent in news and product (book, film, DVD and convention) information; these last get their thanks in having 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 2016 period – needs to be in before the end of August 2016. 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.

We are coming up to our 30th anniversary next year (2017) and
are wondering whether this would be a good time to draw a line under our activities?
Our traffic between now and then will be a factor. So if you think our seasonal efforts are
worthwhile then do share with your followers, via your social media, blog etc., a link to this site.

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

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