Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Autumn 2013

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.]

Autumn 2013


Is fandom getting too comfortable with data protection issues? After all many of us are geeks and we know about cutting-edge technology: right?  Well, this year saw one major convention invite individual international GoHs on Facebook without considering how many fake author Facebook pages there are (we reported on one author's annoyance a few years ago), and nor did that convention consider that if they were turned down by one author that other authors subsequently approached could easily see that they were second (or third) choice.
          And then there is the trend for major conventions to store registrants' personal details (name, address, e-mail etc) on-line so that they can be accessed anywhere both by the committee and respective registrants. Yet such online storage of data is open to hacking. And if, as happened this season, well-protected and professionally run sites like Facebook can be hacked, not to mention millions of its users' details recently leaked, and Yahoo infiltrated with its members personal details copied, is such management of fans' details really prudent?  Indeed, if convention websites' data management uses one of the Google services (as does the current (2013) British Parliamentary Select Committee's trial on-line evidence submission forms) then it is governed by current Google 'privacy policy'. This (once read in detail) reveals that Google reserves the right to copy the details you submit including your name, address, e-mail as well as to create a file on you, cross-referencing the details so as to link you to anything else they may already have and add to it with web browsing, purchase histories etc, and they will also even allow certain third parties (presumably such as recognised credit card companies) add/change information to your profile.  Do you know whether the website of the convention you are registering allows Google access, does it use for example Google Analytics, or does it have a separate registering site that actively block search engines and additionally use at the very least banking standard security?  Of course Google has form with this summer's example being that Google was told by Britain's government-appointed data protection ombudsman that it was illegally collecting individuals' wi-fi details when Street-View roving.  This is all notwithstanding the issue that hit the headlines on both sides of the Atlantic at the start of the summer with revelations as to the degree to which Governments intrude on individuals' cyber privacy. At the summer's end there were also allegations the British and US security agencies were capable of routinely cracking e-mail and banking encryption and working with major providers for access.
          Naturally, many are unconcerned. Many find the convenience of registering, subscribing and paying for things on-line very handy and fine.  Many have never had their ID stolen, or been the subject of fraud via the internet.  Many do not have any reason to compartmentalise their lives.  Yet there are people who do wish to keep their fan life quite separate from, indeed invisible to, employers and/or clients. There are also people whose work gets them threats be it those in the police, armed forces, working on contentious issues from fracking to upholding women's reproductive rights (heck, even teaching Darwinian evolution in some countries/states can be very controversial, let alone teaching dissection). Such folk really do have good reason to want a low profile and good chance of their personal details being kept confidential. Others simply want privacy and this too is perfectly valid a reason worthy of support especially given the motives for I.D. theft are increasing (see our item in the internet sub-section below on I.D. theft for dating websites).
          This year's World SF Society (WSFS) business meeting had a discussion that begins to relate to a number of nations' data protection 'best practice'. (WSFS is the body that supervises Worldcon governance.) Though that discussion's direction is perfectly logical, and very understandable (it is a move from 'opt-in' to electronic communication to 'opt-out'), it just possibly does betray fandom not firmly realising that data protection needs to be managed with strict surgical precision and a clinical understanding of 'best practice' even if not, separately, but very much relatedly, the data legalities. Now, let us be clear that there is nothing illegal with opt-out propositions if done correctly (and nor is the way you receive con publications of any personal data threat) – in this case it is a 'best practice' related thing.  The trajectory the WSFS's conventions, and other fan events, seem to be on is to total on-line management of registrants' details. (Note: This is distinct from conveying data one-way, once at the time of registering on-line in addition to other non-online registration options.)  Already, elsewhere in fandom – as indicated by the move by some conventions to on-line accessibility of data – there are greater concerns.  Indeed one of us has only just had some of their personal details visible-to-all taken down from a SMOF website despite asking for these to be removed over two years ago. (This request should have been honoured in days especially as the site concerned did not have the data-owner's permission in the first place – it was an archive from pre-internet days and so the archive owner could not have requested the actual data-owner's permission for online posting.  Sorting this in the end necessitated: getting guidance from Britain's government-appointed data protection ombudsman; assistance from the third-party fan from whom the data was taken; and the SMOF's own internet service provider.)  Such lackadaisical an approach to fans' data and ineffectual protection is, quite simply, deplorable.  Looking to the future, being wise after the fact is easy: being wise before the fact is truly smart.  If conrunners (which includes some SMOFs) do not grasp this nettle, and pay greater attention to protecting fans' personal data, then it will not be a question of if fans fall foul to criminal use of their data, but when!


Your good deed... (possibly)

Mary Robinette Kowal has been running an on-line survey to find out more about the demographics of SF&F readers. (Let's hope once she has 10,000 responses she does a multivariate analysis.) This survey is a worthy venture and we hope that our site's visitors will support it with five minutes of their time. The survey can be found here. And if you have filled it in then have a gander at the results so far here.


Elsewhere this issue…
Aside from this seasonal news page, elsewhere this issue (vol 23 (5) Autumn 2013) we have stand-alone convention reports on:-
          … the 2nd Celsius convention in Spain
          … the 30th Russian Aelita convention in Yekaterinburg
          … the 2013 Eurocon in Kiev
And additionally we have:-
          … forty-two (yes, 42!) new stand-alone fiction reviews
          … five old fiction reviews but with, new editions just out, fresh publication details added
See our What's New page for a full listing of articles and reviews recently posted.  Fantabulosa fremboids.


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.]

Autumn 2013


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

SF/F news last season includes: SF fan John Sohus' murderer sentenced;  Sexism in the SFWA and BBC's Women's HourOn-line SF Encyclopaedia now with book coversBBC hold 'Dangerous Visions' seasonMore Gerry Anderson archive comic strips to be reprintedJudge Dredd comics to return to US; and Locus offers a student rate.

SF/F Awards presented over the summer (2013) included: Australia's Ditmar and Aurealis Awards;  Britain's Carnegie, Clarke SF, Delta and Terry Pratchett's Anywhere but Here award;   Canada's French language Aurora Awards;  Denmark's Niels Klim Awards;  various Finland awards;  Germany's Kurd Lasswitz;  Japan's Seiun Awards;  New Zealand's Vogels;  Poland's Zajdel Awards;  Russia's Aelita;  and the USA's Bram Stoker, Campbell, Eisner, Locus and Nebula; and, of course, there were the Hugo Awards.

Book news of the season – Includes : Half a year's worth of British Isles SF/F/H book sales figuresTop SF/F international best sellersTransfer from paper to e-books declining in British IslesUS sees e-book growth absolute and as proportion of marketNew British horror imprint launchedGollancz reorganises; US court ruling shakes up global book pricingSelfish book-buyers are closing high street bookshopsAmazon links protest and Amazon tax avoidance concerns.

Film news of the season – Includes: that of: Summer box office hits;  new versions of Slaugherhouse 5 and new Terminator trilogy coming;  Batman and Superman to team up;  and there are several links to choice short videos and trailers of up-coming films.

Television news of the season – Includes: renewals for second seasons of Sweden's Real Humans and the Canadian/BBC Orphan Black; a new but final season of Warehouse 13; a new forthcoming BBC science fiction documentary; and much Dr Who news.

News of SF and science personalities includes, among many in this section, that of: Brian Aldiss; Francis Crick; Neil Gaiman; and J. K. Rowling.

Last season's science news includes (among much else on the page below):   the Earth's core is hotter than previously thought; a new qubit paves the way for commercial quantum computing;   plans are made for Europe to return to Mars;  a system found with three super-Earths;  an important gay health alert;  a major cloning stem cell breakthrough;  the latest on the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirs (MERS-nCV) proto-epidemicdolphins on first-name terms;  and the genome sequences of the Coelacanth, horse and dog.

Other news includes that of:   a Facebook flaw ignored so a hacker pointedly demonstrates;  revelations as to the degree to which Governments intrude on individuals cyber privacy;  Google being told that it was illegally collecting individuals' wi-fi details when Street-View roving;  and Yahoo being hacked with subscribers ID details taken.

News of last season's SF events includes that of: ComicCon and the 2013 Worldcon.

Major forthcoming SF events include: the Festival of Fantastic Films (but be quick); the 2014 Worldcon2014 Eurocon and the 2015 Worldcon.

Our short-video clip links section this season includes, among others, links to: an interestingly irreverent take by SF writers Roberto Quaglia and Ian Watson on life after death;  the Matrix film as re-told by mum;  a 5-minute run through as to everything wrong (illogicalities & plot holes etc) with the 2009 Star Trek reboot; and trailers for Elysium and 47 Ronin. – See the section here.

Notable SF books due out over the Autumn 2013 include: Homeland by Cory Doctorow, the new broad-screen hard SF On the Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds, and the conclusion to the subversive 'Demi-Monde' sequence with Rod Rees' Demi-Monde: Fall;  the first mass-market paperback editions of The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain Banks, and The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes;  and after a number of years reprints of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, and Slapsticks No More by Kurt Vonnegut; again after a number of years, and including some first-ever British isles printings, various space operas by Jack McDevitt as well as his Starhawk.

Notable fantasy books due outover the Autumn 2013 include: The Days of the Deer by Liliana Bodoc, Your Brother's Blood by David Towsey, and the first mass-market paperback edition of Dodger by Terry Pratchett which accompanies his new collection of shorts and other material A Blink of the Screen.

Notable science books out include: the fascinating 50 Philosophy of Science IdeasThe Cancer Chronicles which is very relevant given the news of a number of SF pros and fans affected by the disease this season;  the hugely informative The Undercover Economist; and our own Jonathan's new updated and expanded Climate Change: Biological & Human Aspects.

The Spring saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included: Scientists David Dickson, Joseph Farman, Francois Jacob, James Martin and Kenneth Wilson;   SF personalities Iain Banks (far too early), Mick Farren, Ray Harryhausen, Richard Matheson, Frederik Pohl and Jack Vance.


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.]

Autumn 2013



SF fan John Sohus' murderer sentenced! We reported Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter's, 52, conviction back in the Spring. He has now been sentenced to 25 years for John Sohus’s murder, plus an additional two years for the use of a deadly weapon. He is not eligible for parole until 27 years minus the time since his arrest to conviction. It is thought he also killed John's wife Linda Sohus. Gerhartsreiter' has proclaimed his innocence and accused the victim's wife of killing her husband.

The 2013 Hugo Awards were announced at this year's Worldcon, LoneStarCon. Further to last year's Hugo voting statistics, Lonestarcon did break another record earlier this year when it received 1,343 valid nominating ballots up from last year's own record-breaking 1,107. Following the nominations earlier in the year 1,848 valid ballots for deciding final winners from the short-list were received (which is down slightly compared with 1,922 voting on the final ballot the previous year, which itself was down on the 2,100 voting in 2011). The trend is that more and more people are voting to nominate for the short-list but fewer and fewer are voting on that short-list to get the final winners. The principal Hugo category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Redshirts by John Scalzi (Gollancz)
          Best Novella: 'The Emperor's Soul' by Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)
          Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form: The Avengers (Marvel Studios, Disney, Paramount) based on the Marvel Comics
          Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form: Game of Thrones 'Blackwater' written by George R. R. Martin
          Best Fanzine: SF
          Other category (win information) (those categories with less than 1,400 voting) can be found at
          Note: The 'Best Novel' Redshirts by John Scalzi (Gollancz) also won this year's Locus Award. So clearly many in the SF community love Scalzi's subversion of the genre.
          Comment.   For a number of the categories, looking at this and the nominees for this year one gets the same kind of feeling as looking at past years of Oscar winners and their competing nomination rivals… Interesting.
          It is probably worth re-visiting the nominating and final voting statistics in this item's introduction: the past three-year trend is that more and more people are voting to nominate for the short-list, but fewer and fewer are voting on that short-list to get the final winners. Hypothesis: could it be that people are dissatisfied with the final Hugo shortlist and so more and more are nominating but fewer voting on the final ballot? In the spirit of true science we therefore tentatively predict that if this is true (and do note the if any children out there) then this trend will continue up to a point at which final ballot voting will cease decreasing due to people being satisfied with the Hugo short list and more will start voting on the final ballot again. There is certainly room for such manoeuvres: remember that Hugo nominating and voting is a minority sport with typically less than a third (often less than a quarter) of Worldcon registrants eligible to Hugo vote actually participating. Of course the voting system does not help (arguably not the best statistical method – there are others out there), and the conflation of fantasy with science fiction attracts as well as detracts, but these are other stories.  It remains intriguing as to what the future will hold for the most famous of SF awards, but then being intrigued about what the future may hold is the stuff of SF.

The 2013 Clarke Award has been presented and it is firmly SFnal. The winner was Dark Eden by Chris Beckett and published by Corvus. And here is a plot teaser:-
          You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of Angela and Tommy. You shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest's lantern trees, hunting woollybuck and harvesting tree candy. Beyond the forest lie the treeless mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it. The Oldest among you recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross between worlds. One day, the Oldest say, they will come back for you. You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of two marooned explorers. You huddle, slowly starving, beneath the light and warmth of geothermal trees, confined to one barely habitable valley of a startlingly alien, sunless world. After 163 years and six generations of incestuous inbreeding, the Family is riddled with deformity and feeblemindedness. Your culture is a infantile stew of half-remembered fact and devolved ritual that stifles innovation and punishes independent thought. You are John Redlantern. You will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. You will be the first to abandon hope, the first to abandon the old ways, the first to kill another, the first to venture in to the Dark, and the first to discover the truth about Eden… +++ More Chris Beckett news below.

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: Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan
          Best Novella or Novelette: 'Sky' by Kaaron Warren
          Best Short Story: 'The Wisdom of Ants' by Thoraiya Dyer
          Best Collected Work: Through Splintered Walls by Kaaron Warren
          Best Artwork: Cover art, Kathleen Jennings, for Midnight and Moonshine
          Best Fan Writer: Tansy Rayner Roberts for her body of work in Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth
          Best Fan Artist: Kathleen Jennings
          Best Fan Publication in Any Medium: The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
          Best New Talent: David McDonald
Note: This year's 'Best Novel' winner, Margo Lanagan, also won a 'Best Novel' Ditmar in 2009 and this year an Aurealis, see below.  The 'Best Fan Writer' winner Tansy Rayner Roberts previously won the 'Best Novel', and this year's 'Best Short Story' winner Thoraiya Dyer won 'Best New Talent' Ditmars in 2011.  The 'Best Novella' winner, Kaaron Warren, previously won the 'Best Novel' Ditmar in 2010.  Last year's Ditmars can be found here.

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: The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
          Science Fiction Short Story: 'Significant Dust' by Margo Lanagan
          Fantasy Novel: Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan
          Fantasy Short Story: 'Bajazzle' by Margo Lanagan
          Horror Novel: Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott
          Horror Short Story: 'Sky' by Kaaron Warren.
In addition to her three wins above, Margo Lanagan also won an Aurealis for 'Young Adult' (juvenile) fiction as well as a Ditmar (see immediately above) 'best novel'. Previously her novels have won a World Fantasy Award in 2009 as well as a Ditmar.  Kirstyn McDermott also previously won an Aurealis for 'Best Horror' novel in 2009.  Kaaron Warren previously won a Ditmar for 'Best Novel' in 2010.  Last year's Aurealis principal category winners arehere.

The Locus Awards have been announced The Winner of the 'Best SF Novel' category was Redshirts by John Scalzi.
          The winner of the Best Fantasy Novel category went to a novel that has decidedly science-fantasy leanings The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross which is part of the 'Laundry' sequence that includes The Fuller Memorandum
          The winner of the Young Adult Book category went to Railsea by China Miéville which should appeal to Miéville fans of whatever age.
          The shortlist nominations were announced earlier in the summer but after we posted last season's news. The other shortlist nominations for 'Best SF Novel' were:-
          The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks
          Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold
          Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey
          2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
Note: At the beginning of the year we cited The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks and 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson as among the Best SF Books of 2012. We almost included Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance as that was suggested to us by the MaD (Manchester & District) SF group but as this did not get a citation by the home team we left it out.
See the Locus website for all the category winners (such as short story, magazine, publisher etc) and also for full details of the various other category nominations.

The Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Awards were announced at the World Horror Convention that was held this year in New Orleans, US. The principal category wins were:-
          Novel: The Drowning Girl by J Caitlin R. Kiernan
          Debut Novel: Life Rage by L. L. Soares
          Graphic Novel: Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times by Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton
          Screenplay: The Cabin in the Woods by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
Last year's principal category winners here.

N. America's Nebula Awards have been presented. The principal category wins, as voted by SF Writers of America, were:-
          Novel: 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
          Novella: After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress
          Novelette: 'Close Encounters' by Andy Duncan
Also presented was the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation the winner was Beasts of the Southern Wild
Note: The 'Best Novel' winner, 2312, was a title we cited at the beginning of the year as one of those we considered among the Best SF novels of 2012.  Details of all the category wins can be found at  Last year's principal win Nebulas here.

The Delta Awards for best amateur short SF/F/H film have been announced in full. (There was a brief verbal announcement last autumn (2012) at last year's Festival of Fantastic Films, but the full announcement and details came out over the summer in the Fest's Progress Report 2 for 2013.)
          Winner: Quedate Conmigo – see the trailer here
          Second Place: Brutal Relax
          Third Place: Love Bug
          Honourable Mention: Por Que Desaparecieron Los Dinosaurios
News of this year's Fest below.

Denmark's Niels Klim Awards have been announced at this year's Dancon. The award has three categories which relate to shorter science fiction texts (of less than 40,000 words) published in Danish for the first time the previous year. The award is voted on by Danish fandom. This year's winners are:-
          Best Novella: 'Manebase Rodhætte' ['Moonbase Little Red Riding Hood' by Lars Ahn Pedersen,
          Novelette: 'Fredag formiddag' ["Friday Morning'] by Jesper Rugård Jensen
          Short story: 'Jeg husker alt' ['I Remember Everything'] by Richard Ipsen
Last year's Niels Klim Award results here.

The winner of the 2013 Terry Pratchett Anywhere but Here, Anywhen but Now First Novel Prize has been announced. The competition is run by Transworld and was launched in 2010 with the first prizes given in 2012. This year there were over 500 entries and a shortlist of six. Sir Terry Pratchett and a team of judges including Rob Wilkins, Alex Veasey from The Forbidden Planet, as well as an Editor and Publicist from Transworld. The winner was The Hive by Alexander Maskill who receives a £20,000 publishing contract.
          The winning novel takes us to New Cairo, a city built on technology, from the huge solar panels that keep civilisation going in a changed world, to the artificial implants that have become the answer to all and any medical problem. When a powerful new computer virus begins to spread through the poorest districts shutting down the life-giving implants, it threatens to tip the city into a violent class struggle. Hiding out amongst the riots and underground resistance, Zala Ulora, one of the most wanted criminals in the city and a gifted hacker, must trace the virus to its source before it destroys the city, or the city destroys itself.  Last year's winners are here.

The winners of the 2013 Campbell and Sturgeon Awards announced at the Campbell Conference in Lawrence Kansas, USA. The Campbell recognizes SF excellence in novels and the Sturgeon in short stories; both are juried awards. The winners are:-
          John W. Campbell Award: Jack Glass by Adam Roberts
          Theodore Sturgeon Award: 'The Grinnell Method' by Molly Gloos
Last season Jack Glass won the BSFA Award.

The French-language Aurora Awards for Canadian Science Fiction were announced back at the start of the summer at the at the 30th Boréal convention in Montréal. (These are not to be confused with the English language Canadian Auroras.) The principal category wins for the French Boreal Auroras were:-
          Best Novel: Transtaiga by Ariane Gélinas
          Best Related Work: Solaris edited by Joel Champetier
          Artistic and Audiovisual Achievement: Ève Chabot, for illustrations in the magazine Brins d’éternité

The 2013 Carnegie Medal goes to Sally Gardner for her novel Maggot Moon. The novel tells the story of a dyslexic boy living in an alternative 1950s Britain, whose rulers are intent on winning the space race. Sally is herself dyslexic. The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to a book for young people by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. The award was presented at a ceremony at the Natural History Museum, Kensington, London. She is critical of the Education Secretary Michael Gove's new school curriculum. "Without books I would not be a writer and without the zeal of librarians I would not have won this award," she said. "I believe teachers and librarians should be free to instil a life-long love of learning, without being policed by an outdated curriculum. Adding: "I firmly believe Gove's new curriculum excludes rather than embraces those like me, and millions of others, with a different way of seeing and thinking." +++ Maggot Moon also won this year's Costa Children's Book Award. +++  Last year's Carnegie winners here.

The Aelita Awards and other prizes were presented at the 30th Aelita convention in Yekaterinburg, Urals in central Russia. (You can only win an Aelita once.) The principal award wins were:-
          Aelita Award: Roman Zlotnikov (Obninsk, Moscow reg.)
          Debut Award: Aleksei Vert (Alexandra Davydova (Moscow) and Victor Kolyuzhnyak(Yekaterinburg) for the novel Dzen-Soft)
          Yefremov Prize (SF Promotion): Andrei Ermolaev (Saint-Petersburg)
          Prize. B. Bugrova (Contribution to Speculative Fiction): Mikhail Manakov (Chelyabinsk)
          Eurasia Award: Olga Slavnikova (Moscow) for the novel 2017
          SF Grand Master: Roberto Quaglia
          The Order of Good and Light: Svetlana Lavrova and Dmitry Lazarev (Yekaterinburg)
          Ivan Sokolov Memorial Prize: Vladislav Krapivin
          Hyperboloid award: Vasily Golovatchyov (Moscow)
Comment: The Aelita convention is one of Russia's longer running conventions beginning in 1981. The Ivan Sokolov Memorial Prize is named after the Yekaterinburg-based SF fan Ivan Sokolov.

Germany's Kurd Lasswitz (Kurd-Laßwitz) Preis was awarded at the Urlaubs-Con Und Meer in July. The principal category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Pulsarnacht [Pulsar Night] by Dietmar Dath
          Best Foreign Work: 'Die Hölle ist die Abwesenheit Gottes' ['Hell is the Absence of God'] by Ted Chiang
          Best Translation: Birgit Herden, Dorothea Kallfass, and Hannes Riffel for translating: Paolo Bacigalupi’s Der Spieler [The Player]
Kurd Lasswitz (1848-1910) of whom the German SF excellence awards are named, was a philosopher, historian of science, and SF writer. He kind of holds the same regard in Germany as H. G. Wells does in the British Isles. The prize is the equivalent of the Nebula's in the US in that it is voted on by German authors, agents, editors and other SF professionals. +++ See link for last year's principal category Kurd Lasswitz prize winners.

The 2013 US Eisner Awards for comics have been presented. The Eisner nominations in each category are generated by a five-member panel, then voted on by comic-book professionals, and presented at the annual Comic-Con International convention held in San Diego, California. As such they have a somewhat similar status to the reader-voted Eagle Awards in Great Britain. This year's principal category wins are:-
          Best Single Issue (or One-Shot): The Mire by Becky Cloonan (and it's self-published)
          Best Continuing Series: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)
          Best Anthology: Dark Horse Presents (Dark Horse)
          Best Graphic Album – New: Building Stories by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
          Best Graphic Album – Reprint: King City by Brandon Graham (TokyoPop/Image)
          Best Archival Collection/Project – Comic Books: David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil Born Again: Artist’s Edition edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
          Best Writer: Brian K. Vaughan, Saga (Image)
Notes: It was a 'Best Anthology' win second year in a row for Dark Horse. And Daredevil still gets a showing following last year's principal category multiple wins. +++ Last year's Eisner principal winners here.

Japan's 2013 Seiun Awards were announced at the 52nd Japanese national SF convention. The principal category wins were:-
          Best Novel: The Empire of Corpses by Priject Itoh & Enjoe Toh
          Best Translated Novel: The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi
          Best Translated Short Story: 'Pocketful of Dharma' by Paolo Bacigalupi
          Best Dramatic Presentation: Bodacious Space Pirates
Also this year of Anglophone note was…
          Best Comic: Inherit the Stars by Yukinobu Hoshino but based on James Hogan's 1977 novel of the same name.
Notes: The award is voted on by the convention's registrants.   See last year's Seuin's here.

Finland's Tahtivaeltaja Award for Best Book category has been announced. It is given by the Helsinki Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction book published in Finnish in the previous year (2012). The winner was:-
          Kiduttajan Varjo [The Shadow of the Torturer] by Gene Wolfe. The Shadow of the Torturer was originally published in English in 1980. It is the first in 'The Book of the New Sun'' quartet. While the sequence (especially the first three novels) have a fantasy feel, the quartet is SF. In the far future the ruler's executioner and torturer, Severian, travels the kingdom doing his duty, and trying to ascertain who he really is… Novels in the quartet have won the Locus Award (for 'best fantasy'), John W. Campbell Award, a Nebula and the quartet came joint 4th in SF2 Concatenation's 1987 British Eastercon all-time poll (book category). Partial Recall says that the translation (by Johanna Vainikainen-Uusitalo) is excellent, and this is a fine comment given the rich use of both obscure English and invented language.
The other nominated runners-up were:-
          Pintakuvio [Surface Detail] by Iain Banks
          Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
          Teemestarin Kirja by Emmi Itäranta
          Muistoissa Sininen Maa [Blue Remembered Earth] by Alastair Reynolds
          Kiduttajan Varjo [The Shadow of the Torturer] by Gene Wolfe
Note: Blue Remembered Earth we cited back in the spring as one of the Best SF Books of 2012.

Finland's principal SF awards were presented at Finncon. At the con, the Helsinki Science Fiction Society announced the seventh Tahtifantasia Award: the award for best fantasy book translated into Finnish went toUusi Maailma [The Modern World] by Steph Swainston.  This is a juried award.  The first prize in the short story competition organised by Finncon and Elisa Kirja went to Jenni Kauppinen for 'Jalokivihovi' ['Jewel Court']. In second place was Neko Koski with 'Nuru-nu-kang' and the third place there was a tie between Mikko Arjanmaa’s Tapaus Jii ['Case Jay'] and Stina Maria Saari’s 'Pedot' ['Beasts'].  The first prize in the Nova short story competition went to Anna Malinen for 'Siihen Kaarna Kasvakohon' ['Let There Grow Bark']. In second place wasKatri-Maija Karvonen with 'Salaperainen Kauppa' ['A Mysterious Deal'] and on third Irina Seppanen with 'Odotussali' ['Waiting Room'].  The Atorox Award for best Finnish SF short story published last year was given by the Turku Science Fiction Society. The winner was Anni Nupponen for 'Joka Ratasta Pyorittaa ['She Who Turns the Cog']. In second place was 'Wilhelmus Lyypekkilaisen Kuolema' ['The Death of Wilhelm of Lubeck'] byJussi Katajala, and 'Kirjallinen liite Kannevakuuskorvausanomukseen' ['A written Addendum to the Request for Liability Insurance Compensation'] by Tero Niemi & Anne Salminen came third. Atorox is a popular award, voted by members of the Finnish fandom.

Poland's Zajdel Awards have been announced. The award is fan voted and the winners were:-
          Best Novel: Niebo ze Stali [Sky of Steel] by Robert M. Wegner
          Best Short Story: 'Jeszcze Jeden Bohater' ['Yet Another Hero'] by Robert M. Wegner
The convention at which it was presented saw hundreds of programme items and was an event only marred by the excessively long queues for registration.

New Zealand's Julius Vogel Awards for 2012 were announced at the 2013 NZ national convention. The category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Queen of Iron Years by Lyn McConchie and Sharman Horwood
          Best Juvenile Novel: The Prince of Soul and the Lighthouse by Frederik Brounéus
          Best Novella / Novellete: Flight 404 by Simon Petrie
          Best Short Story: 'Hope is the Thing with Feathers' by Lee Murray
          Best Collected Work: Mansfield with Monsters edited by edited by Matt and Debbie Cowens
          Best Artwork: Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear fanzine cover by Les Petersen
          Best Professional Production/Publication: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Chronicles – Art and Design by Daniel Falconer
          Best Dramatic Presentation: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
          Best Fanzine: Phoenixine
          Best Fan Writing: John Toon for Phoenixine articles
          Best Fan Artwork: Keith Smith for Novazine art
          Special Award – Services to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror: Stephen Minchin
          Special Award – New Talent: Matt and Debbie Cowens (authors)
          Services to Fandom: Annette Bergner
The Julius Vogel Award is given to citizens or permanent residents of New Zealand and is voted on by members of the New Zealand National Convention (including this year overseas attendees). The awards are administered by SFFANZ (the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand).   Notes: Lyn McConchie won Best Novel and Best Juvenile Novel two years ago.  +++ Of Science Fact & Science Fiction Concateneer note, 'Hope is the Thing with Feathers' by Lee Murray was published by the NZ's science academy, the Royal Society of New Zealand.  +++ Regarding The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Chronicles – Art and Design by Daniel Falconer, check out its sequel coming this season.  +++ John and Lynelle Howell's zine Phoenixine won a Vogel last year and in 2010.  +++ While Novazine art got a Vogel this year, Novazine itself got a Vogel in 2011.  +++ Stephen Minchin services for which he won the award were the founding of Steam Press in 2011 and which remains NZ's only professional specialist genre small press.  +++ Annette Bergner was a driving force in the Phoenix Science Fiction Society (the local Wellington science fiction and fantasy club) 1993 until 2010. (No connection with 'the Phoenicians': Britain's NW Kent SF Group.)  +++ Last year's Vogels are here.

The 2013 Bookseller Industry Awards have been presented at a ceremony at London's Park Lane Hilton Hotel in May. The category wins of genre interest were:-
          Publisher of the Year: Random House. Random's principal SF imprint is the relatively new Del Rey.&nsbp; BBC books who do a number of SFnally-related titles including Dr Who books and graphic novels.  Then there is Random's Hammer books and Heinemann, the latter do occasional non-fiction titles of genre interest as well as some science. Also in the Random group is the new horror imprint Blacklist books. Altogether Random has quite a bit of genre.
          Digital Strategy of the Year: Pottermore which is J. K. Rowling's own newly formed Harry Potter e-book arm which notably refused to bow down to Amazon's horrendous discount demands to publishers (would that more publisher stand up to Amazon and make the playing field more level with that of high street bookshops – closing high street bookshops is not in publishers' long-term interests). The site's first two weeks had over a billion page views!
          Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher: Bloomsbury (who do some nifty popular science and non-fiction).

Locus has introduced a student subscription rate for digital editions. Locus is the longstanding, multiple Hugo-winning US magazine covering matters related to SF/Fantasy books as well as major SF/F book-related conventions such as Worldcons.  The offer is for twelve digital issues (monthly) for the price of six - US$27.00 (normally US$48.00). To get the student subscription you must be a current student at an accredited academic institution, taking at least six units or the equivalent during the current calendar year, to qualify for this offer. Please e-mail a photo/image of your current school ID and class schedule to locus [-at-] locusmag [-dot-] com. If your ID or schedule is invalid or out of date, you will be refunded your subscription less the full price (US$5.50) of the single digital issue delivered to you upon completion of your order (digital content is non-refundable). No price adjustments will be made on existing subscriptions. When you press submit on the student subscription page in the Locus website ( you will be redirected to a PayPal button to complete your purchase.  It looks like this system relates to US 'schools' as opposed to European universities but if it goes well no doubt they will consider expanding it. Of course you could always e-mail them with a scan of your student union card (given that the modular nature of most of our degrees precludes a generic timetable) and see what they say.

The on-line SF Encyclopaedia (SFE) is now with book covers. Its Gallery collects together covers for SF books and links them back to SFE entries. You can search to reveal everything the archive contains for a particular author, title keyword, illustrator or publisher; you can select Slide Show for an ever-changing presentation of available pictures, more than 1,800 of them on launch day; or you can simply click on Lucky Dip for another unpredictable image, to be replaced by further visual serendipity as often as you care to hit the button again. The encyclopaedia folk especially welcome help with attributions for some where we’ve been unable to track down the artist. Details

SF season, 'Dangerous Visions', held on BBC Radio 4. The series was varied but the theme as such could be said to be dark Ballardian.  The series included five views of the future and what life might be like in the near future if everything goes wrong: what happens if sleep is outlawed? (The Sleeper); if cloning becomes a matter of course, and your loved ones are capable of being cloned? (Billions); if North London declares unilateral independence on South London, which has become a wasteland? (London Bridge); an alien invasion is detected resulting in an infected astronaut returning from Mars being kept isolated? (Invasion ) and human sacrifice becomes a part of society? (Death Duty)  In addition there was a five-part dramatisation of Jane Roger's award-winning novel The Testament of Jessie Lamb dramatised by the author herself and in which in the near future, every woman in the world has been infected by some kind of airborne contaminant which causes maternal death syndrome (MDS).  Then there was a radio adaptation of J. G. Ballard's own short story 'Concrete Island' in which, on his way home one Friday rush hour, bullish architect Maitland crashes his Jaguar off a motorway junction outside London. At first he seems bound to be rescued but as his attempts to make the passing commuters notice him fail he finds himself increasingly helpless and trapped on a strange, neglected island between the highways.  Plus there was a repeat of the BBC radio adaptation of William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies.  Accompanying the series was a series of related non-fiction programmes: Very British Dystopias saw Steven Fielding looks at the impact of British dystopian political fiction; Dangerous Visionaries saw the playwright and poet Michael Symmons Roberts wonder how close the gap between imagining and living in dystopia actually is; Face to Face with JG Ballard was a repeat interview with the late author of Empire of the Sun and many works of speculative fiction; and in Start the Week: Hari Kunzru and Dystopia Jonathan Freedland and guests discussed the dystopian vision. Finally in Adapting Jessie writer Jane Rogers discussed the difficulty of adapting her award-winning novel for radio.   While the series is now over the BBC has a few still on-line for download and other copies will no doubt become manifest so if interested Google on a few of the terms in this piece and see what you can find.

Harry Potter book sells for £150,000 (US$225,000).. A first edition hand annotated and illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was auctioned.

Stingray, Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds comic strips to be reprinted by Egmont. Back in the 1960s Gerry Anderson began an unwitting experiment in which he exposed toddlers to the western fantasy Four Feather Falls and then a run over the next couple of decades of ever-more sophisticated sci-fi TV series (many puppet based) that accompanied a generation growing up. This spawned a whole spin-off industry of comics led by TV21 and finishing with Countdown in the 1970s. Despite huge commercial success, and despite the proliferation of television channels today, no channel has had the vision to repeat this by sequentially and successively re-running the various series in order over a similar time period and so engaging a new generation. Yet the success of the series continues in a sufficiently strong way that even in recent year's limited run small press editions of the comic strips have proven viable (such as Century 21: Classic Comic Strips From The Worlds of Gerry Anderson).  Now Egmont has grasped the nettle and will be re-issuing collected strips from the various seasons. First up is a collected volume of Thunderbirds strips which will come out this October. Egmont also intend to mark Thunderbirds 50th anniversary in 2015 (2nd October if pre-publicity is accurate) – Is it half a century already?

Judge Dredd strips hit the US. Yes, Judge Dredd has come (again) to the rebel colonies, a.k.a. the USA, a.k.a. Mega City 1 & 2 (not forgetting Tex Cit). IDW Publishing from July has been producing classic, Judge Dredd strips, re-coloured in a monthly, 32 page comic (US$3.99). And if some rebel colonists squaxx dek Thargo (2000AD aficionados) have a sense of déjà vous then it is probably you are remembering back in the early 1980s a similar short-lived venture. The thing is that we believe that these are strips from the early 2000AD days that were half in black and white (hence the colouring, or 're-colouring') and so those of us in Blighty (Brit Cit) never got to see colour versions unless we bought the Dredd comics from the US as imports. Weird, huh? So we asked IDW whether these new comics would be available over here? They said that they did not know and were not aware that the Judge Dredd Megazine No. 336 was carrying a full-page advert for their new series.  Looks like an editorial and marketing advanced infestation of lesser spotted thrill-suckers.

US stamps to honour SF writers possible. According to the word circulating US philately circles (such as the weekly Linn's Stamp News), the US Postal Service was to have produced for this summer stamps honouring major US SF authors. The authors cited include: Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein and Frank Herbert. Apparently this run of forthcoming stamps will still take place but not until next year (2014).  One area of contention is the lack of women on the list. Of course SF literature has up to the end of the 20th century been very dominated by men: with fantasy this is less so. Nonetheless there are understandable calls for the inclusion of at least one woman. Potential candidates might include: Alice Bradley Sheldon (James Tiptree Jr.), C. L. Moore, Alice Mary Norton (Andre Norton), Leigh Brackett or Octavia Butler.

Campaign for Rocky Horror Show and Rocky Horror Picture Show star Patricia Quinn for a statue in her native Northern Ireland. She grew up in Belfast. Patricia, along with Little Nell, Tim Curry and Richard O'Brien all performed in the original stage show of Rocky Horror as well as in the film version. Patricia played both the Usherette and Magenta. Her lips were also used for the opening number, 'Science Fiction Double Feature', which she sang in the original play and lip-synced to Richard O'Brien in the film. When first launched the stage show sold out its original three-week run in 1973 and was extended. 20th Century Fox then acquired the film rights and the show transferred from the stage to screen in 1975 with filming taking just six weeks. 2013 marks the stage show's 40th anniversary +++ There is a statue of Richard O'Brien's character, Riff Raff, in New Zealand.

The SF Writer's of America Bulletin has seen a wave of complaint regarding sexism. Apparently things have been of concern for a number for some time, but a recent SFWA Bulletin cover with a scantily-clad sword-and-sorcery female, together with comments in an article as to a female SF/F editor's attractiveness when younger, triggered many on-line complaints. Then in early June the editor of the SFWA Bulletin, Jean Rabe, resigned, though it is not clear from the SFWA announcement as to whether this was in response to the complaints. The SFWA President did say that originally as the magazine's business manager, and then editor, she had been responsible for improving its production look as well as regularity of publication. So it could be coincidental. Links to many of the online aspects of the debate can be found here  +++ Observation from outside of the US: Unfortunately, despite some very lucid and constructive comments on-line, there has been a rash of those involved in this discussion that say, in what appears to be a negative way or at least a derogatory tone, that the SFWA is a haven/club/group of 'privileged', 'old'/'elderly', 'white', 'cis', 'men'/'guys'. These comment-makers probably did not substitute the word 'gay', or 'women' or 'young' instead of these nouns/adjectives to see how their comments then read.  There is nothing wrong in being 'white'. Or is there? If 'privileged' means educated or employed or housed etc., then there is surely nothing wrong with that either: surely everyone should be entitled to a roof over their heads, an education, be nourished and – if adult – employed irrespective of their race, gender, religion, political persuasion, etc?  As for 'elderly', it is a sad fact that a good proportion of developed (OECD) nations do not have a particularly healthy attitude to the elderly and now, it seems, so does a section (hopefully a small section) of the SF community.  Many elderly, many white, many men, many hetero, many cis, are decent and honest, fair and kind, big of heart, and even zarjaz.  Sadly bigotry rears its ugly head in many places including the self-righteous. If such complainants really mean that the SFWA is not representative of its purported constituents then say that! If complainants mean that a specific view is homophobic, sexist or whatever, then say that (but gently explain why in case the person concerned is innocently oblivious).  But do not have a pop at another section of the community.  If complainants mean that some individuals seem, or are, out of touch with modern views then say that gently explaining why: do not have a pop at another section of the community.  Debate and societal evolution is great, but let's try to keep it lucid, logical, cool and constructive.  There is no shortage of lack-of-reasoned, uncool and destructive elements in the World as it is: so worry not on those grounds as there is enough bigotry to go around without adding to it.  'Nuff said.

Sci-Fi women were under-represented by BBC's Women's Hour early this summer.  BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour is a long-standing series of many decades with a substantial following of women and, it has to be said, men in the British Isles and beyond: they usually have much interesting content of pan-gender appeal. However May saw three SFnal items that clearly put yhe Women's Hour team (composed mainly of mainstream arts and humanities as opposed to science & technology graduates) out of its depth. The first was an interview with Lauren Beukes (see item below) which was saved by Beukes herself carrying the item.  The second was a Gillian Anderson interview in which it became plain that neither interviewer nor interviewee knew what the X-Files' principal back-story was about, so reconciling SF to some unknowable ghetto. (See transcript below.)  The third concerned women in 'sci fi' (sic) TV and film. The faux set-up was that women were being increasingly marginalised in genre TV and film. To explore this they got two combatants: Dean Conrad and Christine Cornea. The former's hypothesis (presented without data – box office or otherwise) was that SF film was becoming so expensive to make that to guarantee appeal to the genre's core market the central protagonists had to be all male. The latter did her best to counter but understandably it is difficult to get to grips with such a weak argument (which incidentally was itself sexist). She did though make the worthy point that female protagonists do not need to be alluring and physically strong. However neither drew upon any data to support their respective cases, yet again demonstrating that so-called 'SF academics' have to develop quantitative analytical tools.
          Conversely, regarding the genre situation, though gender representation could be a lot better (as it could in many walks of life from Parliament to the military), if surveys and polls are to be believed (sorry, most of us are scientists and we heed data), even though SF has more a male following (just as fantasy has female), the trend over the past four decades clearly reveals increasing female interest in SF (which coincidentally parallels that of increasing female science and technology graduates over the same time albeit that caution is needed when considering a causal link).
          As for the specific question Women's Hour were addressing regarding female lead protagonists in SF cinema, lets quickly look at some real data from our own annual surveys. Two of the top ten grossing SF/F films in the year to Easter (2013) had lead female protagonists including the number top grossing film Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part 2) and four others had female co-stars with leading roles (defined for our quantitative purposes as there being at least one female character in the top three of the film's IMDB cast listing).  The year before was even more gender equal with seven or eight of of the top ten box office genre films having female co-protagonists.  Indeed of our own 10 other worthies recommended genre films of the year 2012/3 (a list compiled months before the Women's Hour broadcast and based on box office data) nine had lead female co-protagonists! In short, while sci-fi movies (N. American large studios – principally Hollywood [our box office top ten]) do still have a distinct gender bias: SF film (independent as well as non-N. American studios [our other worthies) show that quality SF cinema is very nearly gender-neutral. Dig beneath the mass-market Hollywood sci-fi movie pap (which admittedly has a mass-market following) and non-Hollywood SF cinema (which has a smaller but more focussed and cinematically literate following) is well ahead of the game in gender representation.
          Taking all this together (weak academic guests, lack of investigative rigour, poor premise formulation and interviewer briefing) means that the Women's Hour gender take on the genre was a distinct wasted opportunity and if anything shows that there is a bias against science and its related arts genre (SF) in the Women's Hour staff team.  However, if  gender participation in the genre is to be genuinely discussed by Women's Hour then there is much to explore.  To take just one example, three of arguably the top half-dozen commissioning SF book editors in the British Isles are women who have worked in the industry for many years, and one of these not that long ago was given her own titled imprint: they certainly are well-placed to comment on gender and the genre.
          Come on Women's Hour, you have a fine programme, just because the SF genre is a foreign land to your artsy team, surely you can research your proposed content better than pandering to perpetuate stereotypical gender myths?
          But then, hey, what do we know; our core team are encumbered by Y-chromosomes.

David R. Morgan's plagiarism scandal.. Reports abound that apparently much of David R. Morgan's material since at least January 2011 has been plagiarised from others' works. He has also used many SF/F authors' material; copying passages from stories and tweaking them slightly in poem form. The on-line SF magazine Strange Horizons is particularly concerned that a number of its contributors' works seemed to have been used this way and are investigating.


[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.]

Autumn 2013


Brian Aldiss gave an interview to BBC Radio 4's Front Row Mark Lawson. The interview was conducted around the time of his last novel's launch: Finches of Mars.  Brian has noted that most SF stories of Mars are largely dominated by men and so he decided to have a female focus. His Martian colony is mainly women but childbirth in Mars' low gravity is a problem. And so when it came to researching for the novel Brian consulted a gynaecologist.  The 'Finches' in the book's title are a reference to Darwin's finches and that our colonization of Mars will also necessitate an evolutionary step.  Having said that, Brian considered the radiation hazard of a real life space trip to Mars. Mark Lawson is one of Front Rows two lead authors and the one who seems a little disparaging of SF. Recently he had seemed to stop asking authors questions such as whether writing SF is detrimental to a literary reputation but raised a similar point with Brian. Brian replied that he thought that SF was these days considered more worthy and, for example, recently The Times not only carried an obituary of SF novelist Iain Banks but an article too.  Brian also confirmed that Finches of Mars was to be his last novel but that he had been writing short, short stories of just a couple of sides of A4.  Let's hope he considers the possibility of penning a few 'Futures' short stories.

Gillean Anderson appeared on BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour on the 10th May (2013). During the short interview the interviewer asked what the TV series the X-Files was all about as neither she nor her (then) pre-teen children knew? Gillean Anderson said that, She had no idea what was going on and she wondered if the producers themselves knew as sometimes all they seemed concerned about was getting the scripts out.  The following is the genre-related part of the interview:-
          Women's Hour: It is 20 years astonishingly since the X Files went global… Now, it was one of the few programmes that my two boys were allowed to stay up to watch because it was so talked about and so fascinating.
          Gillean A.: How old were they at the time?
Women's Hour:They were 12 and 8, and I would watch it with them and I'd say do you understand what's going on? And they would go, 'no but it's great'. Did you ever understand what was going on?
          Gillean A.: No, and I learned very quickly not to ask! And I in fact have got such a notoriously bad memory, and I don't remember anything about the series period now but even when I was working with it then it was so complicated. And there is a question as to whether the producers and the writers knew what was going on as well, and they were just trying to get the scripts in on time and you know...
          Women's Hour: What impact did it have though on the way your career developed to have such an early phenomenal success?
          Gillean A.: I don’t know, I mean I had no frame of reference and I am not sure what would have happened had that not happened. I am a bit thick and it takes me a long time to get things, I think, and it took me a long time to realise that actually I was in the middle of something that was quite unique. I could talk about it and I could, you know because everybody was saying and I could parrot what was being said to me to say, but it wasn't until many years after we had stopped that I actually realised where it did fit in the history of television and the impact that it had and how unique it was and that it was the beginning of a lot…

Iain Banks has died aged 59. Obit in our R.I.P. section below. Following last season's tragic news, Iain had been making the most of life including being on holiday with Adele in the Scotland's western isles. Given that he would not for much longer be incurring a developed nation person's fossil carbon burden for about third-of-a-century's, he had resumed driving high-performance cars and flying. (Ed: though not having had kids was the best fossil carbon saver of all.) He also had clarified via an online message that his SF never was needed to be written so as to subsidise his mainstream writing (despite what some academics might have liked to think) as his mainstream writing clearly outsold his science fiction. He wrote his science fiction because he wanted to and was fond of his 'Culture' novels.  He also had said early in the summer that he had yet to find out how aggressive his tumours were and this would have determined whether or not chemo was to be an option… And so it was with some surprise that on Sunday 9th June the BBC and national media reported his death: it had been hoped that he would have been with us for more months. A few of us on the Concat team had the privilege to meet Iain on a number of occasions (he was also at the 1987 British Eastercon that saw Concatenation's launch) and many more of us have greatly enjoyed his SF. His all too early demise is a sad loss to the genre.
          +++   Just over a week later The Review Show (Special): 'Iain Banks – Raw Spirit' was broadcast on BBC2 on Tuesday 18th June. The half hour programme was a documentary dominated by what was to be Iain's last television interview. It was ably conducted by Kirsty Wark. The title of The Review Show Special, 'Raw Spirit' was borrowed from his one non-fiction book.  Iain revealed that his novels usual feature a lead character who is in some way a version of himself, albeit taller, more handsome and more successful with the ladies. His last novel, the non-SFnal The Quarry has a protagonist dying of cancer. This was purely coincidental as Iain had nearly finished writing the quarry (10,000 words from the end) when his own condition became apparent. Iain's initial reaction on learning his own diagnosis and prognosis was 'Oh b*gger'. Kirsty observed that he seemed to have taken the news bravely. Iain said that he took it as bad luck basically. His works have nearly always featured death and sometimes in gruesome form and so he has as a writer had to consider death a number of times above and in ways beyond that which most do. In this sense he is a bit more prepared to face the prospect of his own demise: a bit like ambulance crews and other professionals. Looking at it philosophically, he will not miss all the injustice, bigotry and ills of humanity. There is a character narrative to this effect in The Quarry (2013).  With regards to his other work, Kirsty noted that his non-SF novel The Bridge (1986) was not just a reflection of the Forth rail bridge (in whose shadow Iain grew up and lived) but a gigantic version of it. Iain said that he had always been fascinated by the concept of huge structures and these filled his 'Culture' SF novels. As for SF, Iain said that in addition to mainstream literature, he always enjoyed reading SF. As for being an SF author, science fiction as a genre gives a writer tremendous freedom.  Commenting on the Culture, that was as close to a functional utopia as might be possible. However he doubted that humanity would be up to it: too xenophobic, racist etc.  Returning to his then imminent demise, Iain said that he was 99.5% atheist with a definite 1/2% agnostic: it might just be that creation was one gigantic cosmic joke.  He also revealed that had he lived his next book would have been a Culture novel. He had already drafted a very brief outline for it in case somehow he managed to beat the cancer. He has mixed feelings about the thought of anyone else taking these notes and writing the novel.
         +++ The 30th Edinburgh International Book Festival closing Sunday featured an event in which crime novelist Ian Rankin and two more of Banks' close friends, Val McDermid and SF author Ken (Dark Light, The Restoration Game) MacLeod, discussed Iain's work.
         +++ Asteroid named after Iain – See the story in our 'Interface: Science and SF' subsection further down.

Chris Beckett is writing a sequel to his Clarke Award winning novel Dark Eden called Gela's Ring. Also Julian Pavia’s has acquired the rights to both books for Broadway Books (part of the Crown Publishing Group) from Inkwell Management and Atlantic Books UK for a high five-figure sum in US dollars, Random House US has also acquired US audio rights. In addition translation rights to Dark Eden have sold to France, Russia, Poland and Turkey viaAtlantic Books UK. (Stop Press (April 2015): Gela's Ring was published electronically on the on-line magazine Aethernet and served as the proto-novel for Mother of Eden.)

Lauren Beukes appeared on BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour. The South African author discussed how violence against women influenced her new novel, The Shining Girls. The story concerns a time-travelling serial killer and Lauren considers it her best book to date. Though the book contains violence, it does not dwell on it: real violence is shocking and horrific – it should be – but Lauren does not linger on it.  As to the book's origins, she said that in real life a young friend of hers was murdered by their partner and Lauren mused as to whether this book came about as part of her own attempt to deal with this incident.  The Women's Hour interviewer seemed to be unsure as to what to ask Lauren or of SF's literary status. And so Lauren was asked whether or not she feared genre ghettoisation? Lauren was not worried. Interest in The Shining Girls has been considerable and the novel went to a five-way publisher auction at the Frankfurt Book Fayre.   Lauren also spoke about her time as a journalist in South Africa.  – See more in the Women's Hour item above.

Max Brooke's, does not appear to be a happy bunny about the film World War Z. According to The Huffington Post, he has opined that the film only shares his book's title, "and that's it." He also is reported as saying that the film's producers did not approach him to look at the script until after filming already began! He apparently advised: "I cannot guarantee that the movie will be the book that they love. And I'm in no position to tell people to see this movie or not see it. If I'm asked I say: See the movie as a movie and judge it as a movie." All that remains is to see whether he will retain his name being associated with the film. What does seem to have happened is that the novel's journalistic documentary style has not been adopted for the film. +++ European's note in case you missed the American pun on the title 'World War Z', the 'Z' needs to be pronounced the American way 'zeee' (not 'zed') so that the film title becomes a pun play on 'World War Three'.

Pat Cadigan has announced that she has cancer. OK, that's the bad news. The good news is that they seem to have caught it early and that it is operable. In this regard early 21st century biomedical science may well do the trick. Our best wishes are with her.

Ramsey Campbell, after very many years and much good work as a final arbitrator in times of conflict as well as an excellent front man on stage, has stood down as President of the British Fantasy Society. Hopefully he will still be a regular at the British Fantasy Society for many more years to come. He continues to be President of the Festival of Fantastic Films (Manchester). (Current Festival news below.)

Francis Crick's Nobel Prize medal has been sold at auction for US$2.27 m (£3.43 million). The buyer was one Jack Wang of the firm Biomobie based in China that sells 'electromagnetic aids' for healing. Would the co-discoverer of DNA's structure (arguably one of the top scientific achievements of the 20th century) have approved?

Rjurik Davidson could be a new fantasy writer to watch. He is a freelance writer and Associate Editor of Overland magazine. He has written short stories, essays, screenplays and reviews. His short collection, The Library of Forgotten Books, was recently released by PS Publishing. His work has been published in Postscripts, Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy, Volumes One, Two and Four, Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror 2006, SciFiction, Aurealis and Borderlands. He has been short-listed for the Ditmar Award for Best Short Story three times, the Aurealis Award once and won the Ditmar award for Best New Talent in 2005.
          Now Tor has acquired the rights to two of his novels. The first is titled Unwrapped Sky, and will be published in spring 2014. It and its sequel concerns a city of languorous philosopher-assassins and magnificent creatures from ancient myth: minotaurs and sirens. Three Houses rule over an oppressed citizenry stirring into revolt. The ruins of Caeli-Amur's sister city lie submerged beneath the sea nearby, while the remains of strange advanced technology lie hidden in the tunnels beneath the city itself…

Neil Gaiman, has returned to Blighty for a series of events. One of the ones with the largest reach was his late June appearance on BBC Radio 4's Open Book programme where he had a twenty-five minute interview with Mariella Fostrup. She began by noting that 2013 had been a ful year of Gaiaman productions. There was: the launch of his infants' book Tuesday, his children's book Fortunately The Milk, the screening of his second Dr Who episode (aiming to make the cybermen even scarier), the broadcasting of Neverwhere (formerly a TV series and then a novel) on the Beeb Beeb Ceeb but sadly only episode one was broadcast on Radio 4 (the remaining episodes where broadcast on Radio 4 Extra which is a digital-only station); and the launch of his adult novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It was revealed that Neil's background was a Jewish scientology mix and that when young he believed in a religious mish-mash including everything in the DC comics universe. His exposure to books came at first from his local children's public library and then the school library. He soon discerned from the dates of titles on offer that the latter, which had been going for many decades, must have had three major infusions of cash for new books in 1911, 1932 and 1955 and so he became exposed to many authors few today are aware of. He also found out a lot from Larry Niven's SF including that an author should treasure their mistakes: Coraline stemmed from a typo (typing error) from a letter to a 'Caroline' but now has become a top 1,000 most popular Christian name in the US.  He said he liked the BBC Radio production of Neverwhere as it had an unlimited special effects budget of people's imaginations. Following on the earlier mention of his second Dr Who episode, Mariella asked why there were so few sequels to Gaiman's works. Neil said that he had plenty of ideas for sequels (including to Neverwhere and Stardust) but the challenge of new ideas seduces him.  Finally, with regard to being a Brit living in the US, Neil said that he feels a bit of an outsider, an alien, in both places, but that this was a good place for a writer to be.  +++ In mid-August Neil returned to his home town of Portsmouth for a road-naming ceremony. He said "I lived in Portchester and Southsea until I was five. But my grandparents and much of my family were in Southsea, so I was back every school holiday and stayed as long as I could. I was even Barmitzvahed in the Portsmouth Synagogue."  A road close to the seafront was named 'The Ocean at the End of the Lane' that seems fitting. "It's something different and creates a talking point," said Portsmouth Council's Lee Hunt who is its cabinet member for culture. The road was previously unnamed and is located west of Canoe Lake.
          +++ Gaiman extra. Given all the Gaiman news above and fan interest, we feel almost obliged to give you a little more. So here are Neil's top 5 British Isles books sales up to Easter this year (2013). (Data from BookScan so the usual omissions and caveats apply but the following is nonetheless a good indication of the various titles' performance.)
          American Gods 186,751 copies since 2001
          Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett) 168,520 copies since 1998
          Neverwhere 139,376 since 1998 (but expect it to have gone up markedly following the BBC radio adaptation)
          The Graveyard Book 121,862 since 2008
          Coraline 107,079 since 2002

Charlaine Harris has been in Britain on tour promoting her final Sookie Stackhouse book Dead Ever After. (The novels became the television series True Blood.) Interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Front Row she was asked whether she had a tearful reaction to having completed Sookie Stackhouse's last lines as J. K. Rowling confessed to have had on finishing writing Harry Potter?  Charlaine replied that she had a quite different emotion along the lines of a joyous 'yes'. Well, it was 15 years and you 'have to cut the umbilical cord'.  She accepted that some might not like her turning away from Sookie and indeed that was why she did not have a farewell promotional tour in the US: Brits are much more measured where as some, a few, of her US readers are 'so out there'.

Joe Hill has been this side of the Pond in good old Blighty on tour promoting his latest NOS4R2. This included: The Gallery at Foyles in London; Waterstones in Reading, Bristol, Manchester and Liverpool, Blackwells in Edinburgh and Forbidden Planet in London. Orion who organised this only told us a week before the tour's commencement but their information release did warn that attendance was such that events were likely to be booked out. (So sorry that we could not give you advance notice in last season's news but if we had that might have aggravated over-attendance.) However consider this a heads up that NOS4R2 is out. +++ Elsewhere on this site we have stand-alone reviews of Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box, Horns and 20th Century Ghosts.

Graham Joyce has announced he has been fighting an aggressive lymphoma cancer. He has been knocked for six by the chemotherapy but notes that he is grateful to have had the chemo option which sadly was not a timely option for Iain Banks. Meanwhile Graham's Some Kind of Fairy Tale has been shortlisted for both the East Midlands Book Award and in two separate categories for the British Fantasy Award.  Graham has our wishes for the chemo being successful.

Jasper Kent's fourth historical vampire novel, The People's Will, has been published by Bantam. Jasper has created a promotional video which you can find here.

Stephen King was interviewed by Britain's commuter paper Metro regarding the current TV series adaptation of his Under The Dome. (We reported that the series was coming three years ago.) He said that he had the idea for the book back in the 1970s with the oil crisis and then Chernobyl some years later. The dome is a microcosm of life. His favourite adaptations include The Shawshank redemption, Misery and Stand By Me but he urged his readers to check out Cujo as that does not often get screened. He did not [particularly like Firestarter.

Jay Lake, the N. American SF author, has announced that he is losing his lengthy battle with cancer and now has multiple tumours. He is going to start on Regorafenib but this only has an estimated 50% chance of working to provide just six months to a year of life extension and so anticipates he only has nine months to two years of life. On the SF front, he has this year already had stories that have been nominated for the Nebula, Locus, and Hugo Awards. He hopes to attend all three awards ceremonies.

Audrey Niffenegger appeared on BBC Radio 4's Book Club programme to discuss her The Time Traveller's Wife she revealed that she had long had an interest in SF. Regarding researching the genre trope underpinning her book, she recommended the book Time Traveller's for Writers. During the discussion, a question from the audience revealed that protagonist Henry was an incredibly selfish person: he told Clare that she would eventually be his wife but his future self never revealed that to his younger self (through his diary) and so his younger self was free to try relationships with others.

Richard Matheson's health had regretfully forced him to bow out of being GoH at this year's World Fantasy Convention which this year is being held in Britain at the end of October. Then came the sad, but not unexpected news, in June of his demise (see obit section below). The convention will continue to have programme items to mark his work.

Ben Peek has sold to Pan Macmillan for World rights to his 'Children' trilogy for a six-figure sum after an auction. The books are entitled Immolation, Innocence and Incarnation. Pan Macmilan then sold the US rights to Immolation, Innocence and Incarnation to Peter Wolverton of Thomas Dunne Books at St Martin’s Press for a good five-figure sum. Immolation is set fifteen thousand years after the War of the Gods. The bodies of the gods now lie across the world, slowly dying as men and women awake with strange powers that are derived from their bodies. Ayae, a young cartographer's apprentice, is attacked and discovers she cannot be harmed by fire. Her new power makes her a target for an army that is marching on her home… Ben’s earlier work has mostly been published by smaller presses. Of Above/Below (co-written with Stephanie Campisi), John Scalzi wrote that it presses “The nerd pleasure centres of my brain.” Published by Twelfth Planet Press, it was critically acclaimed and nominated for a Ditmar Award. His first novel, Black Sheep, caused Paul DiFilippo to write, “With the gravitas of a Margaret Atwood or Kazuo Ishiguro, Peek, in his debut novel, Black Sheep, crafts a quietly horrifying world displaced from ours by a century of time and an implosion of globalist attitudes.”  Pan Macmillan will be publishing the 'Children' trilogy through Tor in Britain, and St Martin’s Press in the US in the summer of 2014.

Roberto Quaglia, after the best part of a decade, has stood down as Vice-Chair of the European SF Society where his principal contribution was to enhance its website with archival contributions from one of the other officers. The summer also saw him being a guest at Aelita, Russia's longest running SF convention. The convention is traditionally in the heart of Russia at Ekaterinburg in the Urals which marks the geophysical border between Europe and Asia. There he was awarded the title of SF/F Grandmaster and also made a brief TV appearance both with regard to current SF events and also brief reference to his visit with the late Robert Sheckley to the Ukraine. Roberto has long been known for his involvement in Italian and Romanian SF ventures and recently the Russian SF community in addition to his occasional interactions with SF2 Concatenation. +++ See also the link to the Roberto and Ian Watson video discourse on the afterlife below.

Hannu Rajaniemi the Scottish-based, Finnish SF writer, has another three-book deal for a six-figure (£) sum with Gollancz. Hannu’s debut novel, The Quantum Thief, excited huge interest and major sales when it was published in 2010. Its sequel, The Fractal Prince, came out last year (2012) with the final novel in this debut trilogy, The Causal Angel, is being edited now for publication early in 2014.  The first book in the new, three-book contract, Summerland, will be delivered in autumn 2014. Gollancz editor Simon Spanton said, "Wow indeed. The sheer invention and variety of the ideas Hannu has for his next novels was extraordinary. There is the potential here for Hannu to become one of the most important writers of SF in the early decades of the 21st century. It’s a thrill and a privilege that Gollancz will be his home for at least three more novels."

J. K. Rowling, mid-summer, was outed as the debut crime writer Robert Galbraith of the novel The Cuckoo's Calling (Sphere, part of the Little Brown Group), whose protagonist is a war veteran turned private investigator called Cormoran Strike. Prior to the outing the book had received some critical praise. One reviewer described it as a 'scintillating debut', while another praised the male author's ability to describe women's clothes. The book had sold 1,500 copies before the secret was revealed by the Sunday Times. Within hours, it went up more than 5,000 places to top Amazon's sales list. The digital edition also rose to number one on the iTunes book chart.  Rowling said, "It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name." There were many reactions to the news. Perhaps the most sober and telling was from crime novelist Ian Rankin: "So a debut novelist, garnering good quotes from famed authors for the cover plus good reviews, can expect to sell only a few hundred copies!"  +++ Some cynics suggested that all this was a promotional ploy. Well, if it was the publisher was unprepared to meet the demand and so had to order a 140,000 reprint. +++ Another 'Cormoran Strike' book is forthcoming.  +++ JKR's own reaction to the outing came the following week. She found out the leak came from the law firm Russells, whom she engaged and had assumed she "could expect total confidentiality from". She said, "I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced." And added: "To say that I am disappointed is an understatement."  We at SF2 Concatenation can understand how she feels, this is something with which we can all sympathise: no one likes unwarranted release of personal data. Apparently what happened was that one of Russells' partners – Chris Gossage – had told his wife's best friend – Judith Callegari – that Robert Galbraith was really Rowling. J. K. Rowling then sued Russells but agreed to accept an apology and a charitable donation to The Soldiers’ Charity, which helps former military personnel and their families: Rowling is a supporter of that charity.

Samantha Shannon has had her debut novel launched with some considerable promise following a book auction at the London Book Fayre resulting in a six-figure book deal. Now aged 21 (itself young for a published novelist, she began writing her seven-part science fantasy series when just 19! Now, The Bone Season has just been launched and has already been sold in 18 languages with Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) and Jonathan Cavendish (Bridget Jones’s Diary) optioning film rights. The novel has a compelling protagonist heroine.  The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing… The novel is out from Bloomsbury.

Lee Wood has announced she has cancer and has gone onto chemotherapy. Encapsulating her personal trauma over this distressing news has been hair loss about which she has bravely blogged and videod. Lee is now living in Australia with the one consolation that that nation has the best cancer survival rate in the world. We wish her fortitude and the very best of all possible outcomes for the coming months.

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.]

Autumn 2013


The summer's box office leaders included: Iron Man 3 that topped the early summer British Isles box office that took £13.7m in its first five days in cinemas. This blew Oblivion, that had led the box office the preceding weeks, out of the water. For comparison Oblivion took £9.5m in three weeks.  By the time Iron Man 3 had been out for three weeks it had taken £31m.  But the early summer leader was Star Trek: Into Darkness that took £8.4 million between its opening Thursday and Sunday, beating the £6m its predecessor earned in its debut weekend back in 2009.
          Conversely over in N. America Star Trek: Into Darkness topped the box office its opening weekend, taking US$70.6m (£46.4m), but failed to beat the opening weekend of the previous Star Trek film. This dashed the industry's somewhat optimistic hopes that it would take open taking US$100m (£66m).  By the end of the summer over in N. America it was Iron Man 3 that was the biggest hit taking US$408.6m (£263m). Summer of flops included The Lone Ranger, After Earth and The Wolverine. However an unusually large number of summer releases also saw cinema attendance rise by 6.6% to about 573 million. This could be the way to go with a more faster responsive theatre booking of films enabling more releases.

The first film to be launched simultaneously in the cinema, on television, video on demand, and as a DVD is a genre horror. There was a time, back in the 1960s, when it would often take three or more years for a film to transfer from the cinema to the television. Then came the late 1970s and the advent of Betamax VHS tapes and typical transfer times from cinema to television came down to under three years but as often as not 18 months after the film came out there would be a version available on video tape. With the early 2000s and DVDs, transfer times were further reduced but only for DVD, so that by the early 2010s typically a film would appear on DVD six months after it came out in the cinema and be available in subscription television within the year.  Which brings us up to now, when in June (2013) a film was launched simultaneously in the cinema as well as on television and as a DVD. That the film is a genre offering arguably says something for SF/F/H. It is a British fantasy horror (albeit a light horror with a certificate 15) called A Field in England.  Set in civil war England, three soldiers duck out of a nearby battle and in a field stumble across someone they think to be a thief. But who is taking whom prisoner? The person the soldiers find, it transpires, is someone with alchemist ambitions who want the soldiers help him find a treasure, and leaving the field seems difficult. All are in for a weird time… Made in black & white this offering has an art-house feel to it. The film had a limited cinema theatre release simultaneously with a broadcast on Film 4 FreeView television, video on demand and also as a DVD &Amp; Blu-Ray.  See the trailer here.

A new version of Slaughterhouse Five is tentatively in the pipeline. The 1969 novel behind the 1972 George Hill film was by the SF grandmaster Kurt Vonnegut jr. and concerned someone who had been contacted by aliens and who lived his timeline non-sequentially. And so our protagonist flashes between his time as a captured US soldier in WWII Dresden, to his period of captivity by the aliens, childhood, old age and adolescence. Kurt's writing always pushed the envelope and some in the US banned the book.  Now Guillermo del Toro appears interested in a new version of the film and apparently Charlie Kaufman (the writer behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) is involved in drafting the screenplay. If this does go ahead then it is likely that it will come out from Universal. – See the video here.

New Terminator film affirmed and slated for 2015. We noted the rumour last time of a new film as part of a slew of possible sequels. Now the news is confirmed and Arnie is onboard! Also it is part of a new trilogy!! Hopefully this will add to the story and not be a reboot. (On hearing the news Jonathan opines would that they did a film of the S. M. Stirling spin-off novels including T2: Infiltrator.)

After Earth film to have spin-off novels. News in our SF Book Trade news below.

Batman and Superman are to team up in next Superman film. It looks like the film will re-tell their first encounter and that they will be enemies… Recent Hollywood franchise re-boots have been slick and enjoyable productions, but they have strayed from their respective franchises' roots and suffered from severe plot illogicalities (examples being Star Trek, Prometheus (of the Alien franchise) and Superman). So this new offering may make money but not as much if care and attention is not given. Batman and Superman do have comics history. For many years in the 1970s the two paired up in the DC comic The Brave and the Bold. This new film is tentatively slated for a summer 2015 release. Zack Snyder, who directed the most recent Superman film Man of Steel, is set to direct.

Ultron will be the villan and Robert Downey Jr. will continue his Iron Man role in two forthcoming Avengers sequels. The first, The Avengers 2, will open in May 2015, with Joss Whedon returning as director. Ultron is an aggressive artificial intelligence that constructs an android that attacks the Avengers. The film has now been given a title: Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are warning that the film industry is in danger of 'meltdown'. They say it will become increasingly difficult for them to get smaller films into theatres because Hollywood is relying on big budget releases. In a speech in June Spielberg said Lincoln was nearly made for TV network HBO because of difficulties getting it into cinemas. "The pathway to get into theatres is getting smaller and smaller," Spielberg said. "You're gonna have to pay US$25 (£16) for the next Iron Man, you're probably only going to have to pay US$7 (£4.50) to see Lincoln."  George Lucas commented that he could see a model similar to theatre pricing, where fewer films were released, they stayed longer in the cinema (up to a year) and ticket prices increased depending on the film.  If all this sounds too gloomy then don't worry.  Cinematically literate SF buffs know all too well that the industry is thriving outside of Hollywood with many fine and profitable productions being produced by independents unconnected with the big Hollywood studios, and there are also amazing offerings being produced from outside of the US.  Spielberg and Lucas seem to be worried just about their own particular brand of Hollywood blockbuster but could it be that they themselves would be happier making lower-budget, non-blockbuster productions?  +++ Later in the summer US critics panned The Lone Ranger summer blockbuster and this coloured the film's European launch a couple of weeks later so causing Disney to contemplate a million dollar loss.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!: Elysium has to have been the SF blockbuster of the summer. Set in the year 2154, the very wealthy live on a man-made space station (think Iain Banks orbital) while the rest of the population resides on a run down Earth, a man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds. This is from the director, Neill Blomkamp, who gave us District 9 and you can see imagery from that previous offering in Elysium. Interestingly the IMDB enty for the film titles it 'Elysium (I)' which suggests that there may be a sequel 'Elysium (II)'.  It stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley.  Anyway, if you have not seen the trailer you can catch it here.

Film clip download tip!: The Matrix Retold by Mom. This is what happens when your parents are not genre-philes and have not seen (or heard of) the Wachowski's classic The Matrix . After watching the entire film together, this is how one US mother explained what it was all about. This clip is a YouTube favourite given it has been downloaded a view million times! – See the video here.

Film clip download tip!: A Futuristic CGI VFX Short Film HD Futuristic SFnal action in this four minute short parody of a 1950s SF film. This short has received a reasonable amount of attention at various fantastic film fests. – See the video here.

Film clip download tip!: What might life after death be like? SF author Ian Watson and former European SF Society Co-Chair cum phantastical writer Roberto Quaglia provide a two-person impromptu panel discussion. Be prepared to take your mind on the logical tortuologies necessary to begin to comprehend what life after death might be like…  The conversation ranges from an Arthur Clarke's character's view religion in Rendezvous With Rama to the question of if an old lady loves her poodle and her poodle dies, would the poodle go to heaven as when the lady dies heaven would not be heaven without her poodle… Along the way one logical conclusion is that hell has a big takeaway kitchen sending food to limbo from which it can be collected by heaven's residents. And then many new questions arise such as who was the first person to die to go to heaven? Could the ability to go to heaven mark a speciation point: the first human to evolve?  All in all rather amusing. It lasts a smidgen over half an hour. (And yes there are a few conclusions: for example, the Buddhists are probably right.)  See the video here. +++ See also Roberto news in the 'People' subsection above.

Film clip download tip!: Everything Wrong With Star Trek (2009) In 5 Minutes Or Less It is important not to get too rose-tinted about the 2009 re-booting of the franchise. This is a rather fun short that exposes some rather basic plot flaws in the re-boot film: it's not logical Mr Spock... – See the five and half minute video here.

Film clip download tip!: How Many Lens Flares Are Actually In Star Trek? In addition to the Star Trek (2009) re-boot's making space seem really crowded – and not the vast expanse of wonder it really is – the film adds to the visual clamour with loads of lens flares (well, they are dirt cheap). But how many are there? Well someone has found out and it is the best part of a third of the film! Here is how it looks speeded up. Sunglasses on and check out the count at the clip's end… – See the two-minute video here.

Film clip download tip!: Abe is an 8-minute SF horror short. – See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Free Zone, Sci-Fi London's 48 hour Challenge 2013 Grand Winner. Sci-Fi London has become one of the British Isles top two regular annual fantastic film fests (albeit there are others focussing on related genres such as horror). For many years Sci-Fi London has included a 48-hour challenge competition (and indeed a few other fests elsewhere in the World run similar competitions) for budding short film makers. The idea is this. The film teams turn up and are given a line of script and a prop to include in their short film and then given just two days to make it.  This year's (2013) Sci-Fi London 48 Hour Challenge winner went to Clement Gharini, Annabel Davis, Katrina Viksna and Mina Todorovic, for their offering Free Zone. – See this short film here.

Film clip download tip!: Mock The Week, BBC2's comedy show, looks at 'Lines You Wouldn't Hear in a Sci-Fi Film' – See this short video here.

Film clip download tip!: 47 Ronin is a new fantasy horror film due out in December (2013) starring Keanu Reeves.  After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai (Ronin) vow to seek vengeance and restore honour to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Reeves) – a half-breed they once rejected – as they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors… – See the trailer here.

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

For a reminder of the top films in 2012/13 (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 2013 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.]

Autumn 2013


British Isles SF/F/H books sales were down 3% the first six months of 2013. In cash terms British science fiction and fantasy (including horror) book sales have gone down by 3% in the first six months of the year compared to the first six months of 2012. The data comes from BookScan which covers sales from major outlets (but excludes things like small press direct sales), and so can be considered a reliable indicator of the overall trend covering Great Britain and Ireland.  BookScan divides books up into 246 sectors or product classes. The SF/F/H sector is still a top ten BookScan Sector which over six months saw a turnover of £14 million (but remember including small presses and non-major outlets etc the overall figure would be higher and some books are misclassified – such as some Michael Crichton and Orwell titles which are marketed as general fiction). The biggest sector is general fiction (£58.5 million) and Crime/Thriller (£39.8m). SF/F/H is still larger than juvenile fiction (Young Adult £10.2 m) and Romance (£8.7m).

Current international SF/F best sellers. Science Fiction / Fantasy & Horror titles rarely make any nation's top twenty book list for some length of time, but just one or two do stick in the charts for a few months. Here are the top SF/F/H titles that did make the 2013 first half-year top twenty in a few countries:-
            India: - 'The Shiva Trilogy' by Amish Tripathi (402,393 combined sales)
            US: - World War Z by Max Brooks 265,057 units sold
            Australia: - The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (35,410 units sold)
From the above you will see that Amish Tripathi's 'Shiva trilogy' has done very well. As of mid-year, including previous year's sales the three books all told have sold 1.7 million copies.  The good news is that they are coming to Britain courtesy of Quercus SF/F imprint Jo Fletcher's Books. Whether or not this will be British fantasy fans' cup of tea remains to be seen but Britain does have a large Indian community (not the same as in N. America our US site visitors should remember) and so these could sell quite well.

Random House and Penguin now merged. Further to previous news the merger has now gone through. Random House’s parent company, the German media group Bertelsmann, is to control 53% of the new company, while 47% is to be controlled by Penguin’s parent company, Pearson. The chief executive of the new Penguin Random House is Markus Dohle (former Random House CEO since 2008) and the chairman is John Makinson (who has led the Penguin Group since 2002). The new company should have sufficient publishing clout to be able to stand up to Amazon (as Rowling's Pottermore has done). But will it? Obviously it will want Amazon to distribute and so it will be interesting to see developments over the next few years. +++ Random's SF site now social – see article in internet subsection below.

DC Comics switch their distributor to Diamond. The former distributor was Titan so its reported British isles sales figures were down 28% to £1.8 million for the first half-year.

The large British publishers lead the World. The global ranking of the big publishing houses for 2012/3 shows that 5 British companies – Cambridge University Press, Elsevier, Oxford University Press, Pearson and Reed – took in £11.47 billion (€13.39, US$17.3) which amounts to 24.5% of the World's top 50 biggest publishing houses.  Second place come the United States whose large publishers took an estimated £7.82 billion (€9.13 billion, US$11.81), followed by Japan, Germany, and France.  (Note: This is large publishers only. The following item on Germany looks at the nation's publishing in totality and includes smaller publishers.)

Germany's combined book and academic journal market has declined for the second year in a row. Germany is financially the World's third largest book and journal market. The data comes from Germany's book trade body, Borsenverein des deutch Buchhandels, and shows that the market has gone down 0.8% to €9.52 billion (£8.1 bn) for 2012/3. This though is a small decline that the previous year's -1.4%. As expected, e-books sales as a proportion of the market from 0.8% to 2.4%. Sales via the internet rose by 10.4%. However arguably the really bad news is that for a third year in a row German publishers produced fewer new titles: 79,860 compared to the previous year's 82,048.

Portugal’s largest genre fiction publisher, Saida de Emergencia, is to enter the Brazilian market. As well as setting up a local office there, Saida de Emergencia [Emergency Exit] will be launching a Brazilian edition of their glossy genre fiction magazine Bang!. In Portugal, Saida de Emergencia publishes a number of leading British and American genre authors in translation, including George R. R. Martin and Stephen Hunt. All Saida de Emergencia Portuguese language editions will be copy edited into Brazilian Portuguese.

The transfer from paper books to e-books is declining in the British Isles. As previously reported last season when looking at the last year's book trade performance e-books make up 20% of the British Isles book market. The past years e-book sales have been growing and physical paper book (or carbon storage books) sales declining. The first half of 2013 saw the paper book market down 6.7% (£41.7m) to £582.7. (Note: This excludes journal sales and is based on BookScan data so does not include things like direct sales by small presses). Paper book volume was down 7.9% (or 6.8 million units) to 79.3 million units. But incredibly a third of this was due to the E. L. James phenomena. Take those sales out of the equation and the value of the decline of paper sales was only 4.5% and volume down 4.2%. Indeed in terms of purely fiction sales, e-book sales were largely flat the first half of 2013. While academic and non-fiction e-books may still increase, it does begin to look that as far as British e-book sales are concerned we may possibly be just a few years away from peak sales.

E-book sales in the US grew to 11% in 2012. E-book sales made up 7% of the market in cash terms in the USA in 2011 and grew to 11% in 2012. The US seems to be behind Britain (see above item) in terms of maturing the e-book market and achieving a steady-state balance (which neither countries have yet to realise). Data from Bowker.

New British horror imprint stalks the World. Blacklist is a new publishing house which is billed as being dedicated to printing and preserving lost or banished books: the forbidden, the forgotten, the condemned. It comes from Jonathan Cape which is part of the Random House group (that also of genre relevance has within it Arrow, Lucas Books, Hammer, William Heinemann, Century and Harvill Secker). The first title to be launched is Theatre of the Gods by M. Suddain which concerns the story of M. Francisco Fabrigas, philosopher, heretical physicist and perhaps the greatest human explorer of all ages!  Blacklist have a clutch of other titles on the way. Check out

Gollancz has announced a structural reorganization within the editorial team. Simon Spanton is promoted to Associate Publisher, with particular responsibility for innovative acquisitions and Gollancz’s social media and community engagement, as well as continuing to publish his award-winning list to its full potential.  Gillian Redfearn is promoted to Deputy Publishing Director focusing on strategy, critical path delivery and the publishing programme. She will be looking to take Gollancz – already the number one for Science Fiction and Fantasy in the UK – to the next level, while continuing to work as a full time commissioning editor. Both Simon and Gillian continue to report to the Gollancz Publishing Director, Jon Wood.  Charlie Panayiotou is promoted to Editorial Manager. Jon Wood, Gollancz Publishing Director and Deputy Publisher, Orion Group, said “We believe these changes will better equip the already-thriving Gollancz list for the major challenges of the future. By looking at all the individual roles in the team, we hope to keep on delivering the most professional, most innovative and most successful SF/Fantasy list in UK publishing”.

New look for Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks Series. Beginning in October through to December, the first titles with the new livery are:-
          Aegypt by John Crowley
          The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard
          Last Call by Tim Powers
          The Falling Woman by Pat Murphy
          Votan and Other Novels by John James
          The Phoenix and the Mirror by Avram Davidson

Harry Potter's PotterMore is only a year old but has had a re-vamp and spun off CreateMore. PotterMore now has new apps and products. Chief among these is 'The Book of Potions', the follow-up to the PlayStation 3's game 'The Book of Spells'.  PotterMore was created just a little over a year ago but has reportedly had 5 billion page downloads!

US court ruling promotes global pricing and an end to less-developed nation discount editions!  This story is a little complex but is important and so bear with this introductory background… Over the years, since the end of the book Net Book Agreement in the 1990s, book publishing has increasingly become more free market and global. A good thing you may think (and certainly few want to return to the full strictures of the Net Book Agreement) but with large sellers, be they at first mega-book chains and recently large online retailers, insisting on similarly large discounts, both independent book dealers and high street bookshops (even now the chains) being squeezed out of business publishers not the giant retailers need to be able to control the discounts they give.  Now, another consumer benefit to book buyers in less-developed nations is under threat (we have previously covered bookshop closures).
          A number of international publishing houses have recognised that book buyers in less-developed nations simply do not have the purchasing power of customers in developed nations. On the books front, some publishing houses produce low cost (often poor quality paper, printing and binding) editions of books in less developed nations for the market there. On the journal front some publishers give discounts to those from less-developed nations and there are even schemes like HINARI and AGORA.  Still with us? And now we have the news…
          Recently a US court case may well be the first sign that such discount deals will become illegal if not irrelevant. If so, nobody will benefit: the book publishers will sell less copies; authors will consequently get less royalties; poorer buyers in less developed nations will purchase less books and journals; and consequently margins will make it more attractive for pirates further damaging publishers, authors and ultimately this will affect buyers' prices in developed nations.
          The US Supreme Court ruled on John Wiley (Publisher) vs. Kirtsaeng in May that it is perfectly legal for a book buyer in a less-developed nation to re-sell titles in the developed-nation US. What the Asian student Supap Kirtsaeng had been doing was buying low cost Asian editions from John Wiley in Asia and then selling them in the west undercutting US book dealers whose prices are based on John Wiley's developed nation edition pricing.  The Supreme Court ruled that this undercutting was legal in the US under the first sale principle.  If this principle is upheld and other countries follow suite then it will be an end to pricing to fit local economies and the introduction of single global prices for books. Bye-bye low-cost editions in less developed nations. Free market adherents need to realise that there is no one global market just as there is no one global currency and that all markets have externalities. Benefiting customers in developed nations who would like to have the lowest prices means that publishers will not be in a position to favour those in less developed nations who need the lowest prices. It also curtails producer freedom which itself is another ethical can of worms… (See also the below item...)

US court ruling pushes up the price of textbooks. Following the John Wiley (Publisher) vs. Kirtsaeng case (see the item immediately above) in the US, quite a few textbooks have had eye-watering price rises, including here in the British Isles suggesting that we might be beginning to see something global.  For example, the cost of Management Science Modelling now costs £192.99 (up from £54.99 last year) and the modern classic Biochemistry 4th edition) by Donald & Judith Voet is now £180 when last year it was £16.95.  Publishers Cenage, Wiley and Pearson have ramped up the price of a number of their textbooks. This is so that they, and not private citizens, can control discounts as well as to ensure textbooks (which do not have large sales as fiction books do) give them a meaningful return. (Private citizen Supap Kirtsaeng had been buying cheap editions in Asia and then selling them at discount in the US.)  If the publishers are sure that bona fide purchasers will not re-sell discounted books outside local markets then it looks like the publishers will offer them substantial discounts in 'local competitive pricing' arrangements.  However some teachers in Britain (and presumably N. America and elsewhere) are worried that bookshops may not be clued up so as to negotiate discounts.  Meanwhile, any book buyer taking undue advantage of discounts and reselling outside their proscribed market will find that they will barred from getting further discounts.

Some book-buyers' selfishness is driving high street bookshops out of business, but amazingly it is the young that feel more guilty! Recent years have seen us regularly report on bookshop closures both in Europe and N. America (most recently Barnes & Noble to close a third of its stores). One reason for the decline is the discount book availability from the on-line retail giant Amazon who not only offer discount prices, but who demand a bigger discount from publishers that single bookshops typically get.  Now while many book-buyers are decent, honest folk, there are a sizeable number who quite simply are selfish, who care nothing about the book trade or even, given last season's questions over Amazon tax dodging efficiency, the nation's economy and public spending deficit.  Now, a new book-buyer survey reveals the extent of another nasty dimension to such selfish souls. A survey held to mark Independent Booksellers Week – commissioned by the Booksellers Association and carried out by Censuswide – questioned 2,045 British book buyers, found that nearly two thirds (63.5%) of shoppers admitted to browsing in a bookshop and buying the product online, a practice known as 'showrooming'. Yet this despite 88% of British book buyers were concerned that there were fewer bookshops on the high streets than five years ago: so the word that springs to mind for those both worried about bookshop closures yet who nonetheless 'showroom' is 'hypocrite'.  Now some do feel guilty. Interestingly, you might expect that the young who have grown up with on-line retail giants would feel less guilty than those older book-buyers who have grown up with bookshops. Yet the survey found that younger respondents were feeling 'feeling guiltier' than older shoppers (60% of 16-24-year-olds compared to 39.6% of 55+ year-olds) about using bookshops as showrooms!  What can you do? Encourage others to use real bookshops as opposed to on-line giant retailers. +++ The total number of independent British Isles bookshops in 2012 was 1,028, compared to 1,424 in 2007, which is a decline of 28% in under half a decade!

Internet links to and large chain bookstores have been ended by a number of publishers and authors. Concerned by Amazon's impact on independent booksellers (which have been in decline, several publishers and authors told The Bookseller (the trade's professional magazine – 21.6.2013, pp4-5) that their websites no longer link to Amazon or the large chain bookshops. Support independent bookshops or lose them is their message.  Their Amazon concern may also have been influenced by recent tax concerns.

110,000 submit Amazon tax petition to Downing Street. The petition expressing concern that Amazon was not paying its fair share of tax was handed in to Downing Street in April shortly after the spring's season's news. The physical handover was made by a group of book dealers and authors. It follows revelations of tax avoidance and a House of Commons all-party Select Committee enquiry at the end of 2012.

Amazon is to sell fan fiction and it is legal. Amazon has bought the licensing rights to a number of television shows and books. This has resulted in Kindle Worlds, the first commercial publishing platform that will enable any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so. Amazon Publishing will pay royalties to both the rights holders of the Worlds and the author. The standard author’s royalty rate (for works of at least 10,000 words) will be 35% of net revenue. As with all titles from Amazon Publishing, Kindle Worlds will base net revenue off of sales price – rather than the lower, industry standard of wholesale price. Amazon Publishing is engaged with additional rights holders from different areas of entertainment – books, games, TV, films and music – and looks forward to announcing future rights arrangements soon.  Of genre interest they currently have rights for Vampire Diaries by L. J. Smith and for those with a more literary bent Kurt Vonnegut's character 'Kilgore Trout'. This model looks like good news for fanfic writers and readers as well as franchise holders. The question is whether other publishers will try it and whether or not Amazon will seek to prevent competition.

Apple colluded to set e-book prices judge controversially finds. Apple Inc's strategy for selling electronic books on the Internet, included conspiracy with five major publishers to raise e-book prices a US federal judge ruled. This caused some e-book prices to rise to US$12.99 or US$14.99 from the US$9.99 that a major online e-book retailer was commonly asking.  "This result is a victory for millions of consumers who choose to read books electronically," Bill Baer said, head of the US Justice Department's antitrust division. "This decision by the court is a critical step in undoing the harm caused by Apple's illegal actions." Last year, Apple settled a separate antitrust case over e-book pricing with the European Commission, without admitting wrong-doing.  +++ Now, you may have a view on this, but actually this is quite a complicated case and it may be that perhaps fault does not lie with Apple alone. Amazon controls about 65% of the N. American e-book market. Barnes & Noble Inc has about 20 percent share and Apple a single-digit percentage and so Apple is a tiny player. Apple's view is this: "Apple did not conspire to fix e-book pricing," Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr said. "When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We've done nothing wrong." Apple is accused of colluding with Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group Inc, News Corp's HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Pearson Plc's Penguin Group (USA) Inc, CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster Inc and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH's Macmillan effectively (it is alleged) to fix prices. Apple entered into 'agency agreements' in which publishers were able to set prices and pay 30% seller's commissions to Apple.  The federal government said this arrangement pushed Amazon into a similar model and resulted in prices of e-books from the five publishers increasing by 18%. Conversely Amazon's strategy involved buying e-books at wholesale and then selling them at below cost allegedly so as to promote its Kindle reading device. Pushing down the price of e-books squeezes publishers' margins and in turn authors' e-book royalties. That e-book royalties for authors have been squeezed is a concern that has been expressed for a few years now.

The After Earth film is to have spin-off novelizations. Overbrook Entertainment, Sony Pictures, The Random House Publishing Group and Ebury Publishing are working together on a line of publishing products set to expand the universe of the film. The novel and film tackle the idea that our planet might one day be relatively uninhabitable by humans, the campaign has tried to expand the public understanding of the threats we're under in real life and also what advances technology is making and might make in light of this.

Terra Nova: An Anthology of Contemporary Spanish Science Fiction has been translated into English. Originally published in Spanish last December it has now been translated by SF2 Concatenation contributor Sue Burke together with Lawrence Schimel. It includes six stories by authors from Argentina, Cuba and Spain and an essay on Spanish science fiction by the editor, Mariano Villarreal. Available from (we hate to say) Amazon in both Britain and N. America and, more importantly, all good specialist SF bookshops. +++ Sue Burke recently reported on Spain's 2nd Celsius event

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


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

Autumn 2013


Real Humans is to have a second series. Let's hope they have a good season story arc. Sweden's SVT1 channel has ordered the second series of Real Humans [Akta Manniskor]. The series is set in Sweden where humanoid robots have become commonplace and evolve with us. Called the hubots – human robots -, they have adapted to all the needs of human beings. If certain segments of society depend entirely on them, other human beings reject them. Some androids dream of freedom, others are perfectly domesticated. On the other hand, the hubots have developed true identities, experiencing feelings but also a desire for independence. Some men develop emotional relationships with them, others want to eliminate them…  Last year it was announced that the series would be available in the British Isles and N. America and has now been aired in over 50 countries. The second series will be available for broadcast this autumn.

Orphan Black is to get a second season! It only came out this spring but the Canadian series for BBC America has had sufficiently strong ratings for a second series to be commissioned. The conspiracy clone thriller starring Tatiana Maslany was re-commissioned with a 10-episode order from Temple Street Productions, ahead of its season one finale on in June. Last season we linked to the series' trailer.

The American Gods television series has not been aired… but may yet still happen. Back in 2012 we reported that a multi-season series of Neil Gaiman's novel was being planned.  Unfortunately, though these were only plans, the word back then was that they were fairly firm.  Alas it now seems as if this was not so. Apparently the word from Neil Gaiman is that HBO has not “officially green-lit” the series yet. Consequently it is unlikely that we will see anything, assuming the go-ahead is given, until 2015 at the earliest.

New SF documentary series. BBC America and BBC 2 have announced a new four-part docu-series co-production with the working title My God, It’s Full of Stars: A Journey to the Edge of Science Fiction. The series heads to the very frontiers of space and science to produce the definitive television history of science fiction. The story of one of the liveliest and most stimulating genres in popular culture will be told through its impact on cinema, television and literature. Each episode will explore one of the enduring tropes of science fiction: time travel; the exploration of space; robots and artificial intelligence; and aliens. It will be made with the help of genre: filmmakers, writers, actors, and graphic artists.

Star Wars: Rebels TV series announced. Lucasfilm have announced a new Star Wars CGI TV series is being made, Star Wars: Rebels. This series will be set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope and will be heavily influenced by Ralph McQuarrie's concept art for the original trilogy of movies.

New but last season of Warehouse 13 announced. Syfy has announced that its long-running flagship series Warehouse 13 will return for a fifth and final season of six episodes in 2014. In case you have not come across it, Warehouse 13 follows a team of government agents who work at a massive, top-secret storage facility (think end of Raiders of the Lost Ark) in windswept South Dakota, which houses every strange artifact, mysterious relic, fantastical object and preternatural souvenir ever collected by the U.S. government.

Matt Smith is to leave Dr Who BBC formally announces. We reported on the rumour last season and now it is confirmed. He will leave after the 50th anniversary in November and the 2013 Christmas special episodes. During his time in the TARDIS the show's British Isles viewers peaked at 30 million and including viewers in Australasia and N. America alone it is thought he has reached 77 million.  Matt Smith is the Doctor's 11th (12th including Peter Cushing) incarnation. +++ And in case you did not know it, here is a reminder – the 50th anniversary episode will be screened Saturday 23rd November 2013 on Beeb Beeb Ceeb 1.

The new Dr Who is Peter Capaldi.  Great to have another Scot back in the TARDIS.  OK, we won't bang on about though there's a tear in the old eye for the demise of Malcolm Tucker, king of politicians. So now we have a doctor with a rug.  You can watch the condensed 11 minute version here.
Data point. Here is the rundown of the 13 Doctors so far:-
          1. William Hartnell (1963-1966)
          2. Peter Cushing (1965-1966)
          3. Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)
          4. Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)
          5. Tom Baker (1974-1981)
          6. Peter Davison (1982-1984)
          7. Colin Baker (1984-1986)
          8. Sylvester McCoy (1987-1996)
          9. Paul McGann (1996)
          10. Christopher Eccleston (2005)
          11. David Tennant (2005-2010)
          12. Matt Smith (2010-2013)
          13. John Hurt (2013)
          14. Peter Capaldi (2013 - )

BBC puts 3-D broadcasting on hold. Further development of the Beeb's 3-D capability is to be suspended due to poor public interest. Only half of the estimated 1.5 million households in the UK with a 3-D enabled television watched the London Olympics opening ceremony in 3-D. The BBC began a two-year 3-D trial in 2011 broadcasting several programmes in 3-D including the Olympic Games. The November Doctor Who anniversary special will be among the final 3-D programmes in the trial. +++ In the US it is thought that no more than 120,000 people are watching 3D channels at any one time, and this summer the US sports network ESPN announced it was to close its 3-D channel in the US due to a lack of interest.


[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.]

Autumn 2013


The 2013 Worldcon was LoneStarCon 3 held in Texas, US of A. This year's provisional attendance figures were 4,311 warm bodies at the convention and 6,060 total registration. In addition to the usual – Hugo Awards, masquerade and over a dozen parallel programme streams, this year's event also sported:-
          - A special exhibit on Texas writer Robert E. Howard, literary pioneer in both sword and sorcery and the weird western.
          - Original artwork from TSR's Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game.
          - An exhibit on the 'Texas-Israeli War of 1999', based the on the award-winning novel by Jake Saunders and Howard Waldrop.
          - A recreation of the bridge of the USS Enterprise from the original Star Trek TV series.
          - A celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the BBC TV series Doctor Who with exhibit.
          - An exhibit inspired by the genome of science fiction writer Jay Lake, which was recently mapped as part of Lake's fight against cancer.
          - A special display on science fiction music.
And there were the fringe items including the regulars such as the convention bid parties. Here one sad (but celebratory of the man's SFnal life) was a wake for the late, great Harry Harrison.  One independently organised (thanks Justin Landon, Steve drew & Myke Cole) event was an evening's 'Drinks with authors' with over a score of writers in attendance including next year's, London Worldcon GoH Robin Hobb at Ernie's Bar at The Crockett Hotel.
          Programme. Let's get the bad news out of the way. There were (sadly) an average number of programme changes: the modern day blight of recent decades' Worldcons. Ignoring the changes of those participating on panels (a comparatively trivial matter as new, last minute, expert participants should always be welcome), what was disappointing to see (as it messes up planning everyone's convention planning) was the number of changes of time and place of programme items.  Now some Worldcons do admirably get it right with hardly any changes if at all of programme item time and place. (Chicon 7 in 2012 got it right! Conversely the last two Brit Worldcons suffered badly, and the least said about the 2010 Australian Worldcon programme planning the better.)  The only reason for dropping a programme item is if the principal item participant does not show. In which case leave that slot blank or have a new item in its stead, but DO NOT shuffle around other items! (And really LoneStarCon, why change the screening times of films? (Unforgivable.)) Enough said.
          As usual – as this is the Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation – here is a listing of main science items on the programme:   'Contaminating Other Worlds' (with Earth microbes on probes); 'Sacrificing Earth: The Politics and Science of Ecology';   'Bloopers and Blunders of Science' (in the vein of Lord Kelvin's statement as to the impossibility of heavier than air flight);  'All of Biology in One Hour or Less' (flash teaser intro for non-scientists); 'Scientific Literacy vs. Human Knowledge';   'The Year in Physics and Astronomy';   The History of Science and the Experience of Science Fiction';   'Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Asteroids but Were Afraid to Ask';   'Starship Century' (interstellar spaceships but the panel sadly had only one scientist (and that was a physicist);   'Higgs Bosons, Neutrinos, B-Mesons, Oh My!'';   'Europa - What’s Under the Ice?'; 'Can Science Fact Deliver on What Science Fiction Has Promised?';   'Truly Alien' (Exobiology'); 'Near-Future Energy';   'Rocket Scientists, Geeks and Mystics' (scientists reading SF and non-science popularity such as ID);   'Can Machines be Conscious?';  'The New Era of Commercial Space';   'Astrobiology and the Problem of the Fermi Paradox'; 'Mars and/or Bust!'; 'The Future Two Hundred Years Out' (interesting but sadly no horizon-scanning scientists on the panel); 'Space Psychology';  'Survival of the Biggest (Internet) Power' (included privacy concerns);   'Biodiversity: Why We’re Storing Billions of Seeds'; 'The Green Chemistry Movement'; 'Keeping It Real: The Science in Science Fiction'; and 'Higgs Boson Found: Where do We Go from Here?'.   If all this were not enough, there was also a whole programme stream on 'NASA Space Science and Exploration'.
          By all accounts, programming changes aside, LoneStarCon 3 was an above average Worldcon. This puts the pressure on London in 2014, but then no doubt they'll be up to it.
          Short video of news item on this year's Worldcon convention.

The World SF Society (WSFS) business meeting. Worldcons are run under the auspices of the WSFS. At this year's Worldcon, Texas, two items were agreed and carried over to next year's 2014 London Worldcon for ratification. The key one is, if passed, that future it will be assumed that a registrant has 'opted in' for e-mail publications. Now, this is a totally understandable move. However some nations Data Protection 'regulations' do insist on assuming 'opting out' for mailing, others have 'best practice guidelines' encouraging the same, and others still are moving in this direction, but…
          What WSFS does not have are guidelines on data management. Of course WSFS may feel that such would be outside of its remit. But some conventions may think that they are compliant with some nation's data protection regulations (or indeed best practice) but in fact they are not. Here an area of worry (of a number) is conventions using 'clouds' to store members' data especially if these clouds are Google related, or if the data is stored on a website (albeit password protected) that uses third party analytics (such as Google analytics). If cons are using any of these then according to – for example – Google's current 'Privacy Policy' they have the right to copy people's names, postal and e-mail addresses and reserve the right to build a profile about members and merge this with any separate data they may have on an individual's home PC (or home PC's IP) with Google search and website visit histories Google may have. Furthermore Google will allow other principal data holders (such as we suspect credit history sites) alter the data on your profile without consulting you… Conventions do need to have a clear data protection policy ideally plainly stating that data will be: held off-line, not passed on to anyone outside the membership officer, and guaranteeing that the data will be destroyed at the end of the convention (if you want it passed on to next year's Worldcon then opt-in to that. This issue may be one that WSFS wishes to leave to individual Worldcon organising committees. However, given current trends, it may be one that could come back and bite them in the future. (See the top of this page's Editorial comment.)
          The other aspect to this motion is that Worldcons are moving away from having paper Progress Reports. This means that those not on the internet, or who actually prefer paper copies, will be disadvantaged, and archivists will only have PDFs with which to work (as it is many Worldcon websites evaporate after a few years and so there is a genuine permanence of record issue here). Given that the cost savings of purely electronic publications (no print and post costs) one can foresee paper copies of Progress Reports vanish within a decade or two. Is browsing a PDF be the same? Well, visitors to your house cannot pick up a PDF from your coffee table, and current e-book vs. paper books statistics do show that real paper publications are valued more than their electronic counterparts. Will this mean that Progress Reports' promotional value will be eroded? If so will their status in the run-up to a convention be the same? If not, can one see future moves to reduce the number of PRs? For now as one fan blog put it, a long-term fear is that conventions might say, "'Sorry, we can't be bothered to produce paper for you. If you don't have a computer, we don't really care about you.' I do hope that Worldcons do not immediately drop all of their paper publications if this proposal is ratified."  This worry is one some of us share even though SF2 Concatenation being a website is ipso facto for those with computers connected to the net we still like our fellows within the SF community who use paper.
          The WSFS will establish a working group to investigate the feasibility of having a 'Young Adult' novel category for the Hugo Awards. ('Young Adult' means 'Juvenile' in explanation for those adherents to traditional terminology (while for those that aren't consider the difference between 'Young Adult' and 'Old Baby').) The reason a working party is required is in part how do you define 'Young Adult' books: are Harry Potter books for adults or children?  We wish this working party well.

The 2014 Worldcon (Loncon3 ) will, of course, be in London. Let's get the sad news out of the way. The convention has tragically lost one of its GoH's but you can bet more than a wee dram that we will be celebrating this wonderful writer's life at the convention.  Moving on…  With just under a year to go many of the convention's plans have already been made. Loncon 3 will innovate. A massive hospitality space will bring the North American party scene and the European-style fan bar together in one place. In addition, Loncon 3 will present the Retro-Hugo Awards for 1939 (the year of the Buck Rogers film), celebrating the science fiction of the time of the very first Worldcon, held in New York 75 years before. (This first Worldcon marked the World Fayre taking place in that city that year.)  With so much happening, and plans coming together, not surprisingly at the twelve-months' mark, membership uptake for Loncon 3 has been somewhat outstanding. They currently have more than double the number of members that most Worldcons have a year out. All indications are that Loncon 3 will be the largest Worldcon ever held outside the United States! The organisers are clearly being wary of further proactive recruitment and are not responding to offers to distribute flyers to other conventions and SF societies.  Planning for the programme is now underway. (Let's get it properly organised so as to keep those programme changes down folks.) The take-home message is that if you have an interest in SF and can manage a week's holiday in London, then register for the Worldcon now! (Advance registration gets you the pre-convention Progress Reports and (if before New Year) the right to nominate SF works for the Hugo Awards.)  +++   SF2 Concatenation plans to review the Loncon 3 venue in full international convention mode – well international ecology congress mode – next season. This will compliment Peter's article on the 2014 London Worldcon venue. +++  Booking for the 2014 London Worldcon (Loncon 3) Dealers' Zone is now open. They invite dealers in anything that might interest an SF audience: books, comics, DVDs, games, graphic novels, clothing, models, crafts of all kinds, high tech gadgets. The brief is wide: they want an exciting and varied range of goods and services for our members to experience.  Let us hope the Loncon 3 organisers include a web link to the dealers paying for tables on their website as well as a contact link so folk can reserve goods for collection. (Loncon committee Chair please note (especially as it is a zero cost to the Worldcon added benefit to the dealers for paying for tables).)
          The convention plans to launch its hotel room booking on 2nd January 2014.

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

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

See also the short promotional video below

NOTE: If you are thinking of coming to Britain for the London 2014 Worldcon, then do not forget that the 2014 Eurocon is the following weekend in Dublin, Ireland.


The 2015 Worldcon will be held in Spokane (USA). The announcement was made at the site-bid vote session at this year's Worldcon. Spokane won on 3rd ballot with 645 votes over Helsinki's 610, after Orlando eliminated. Helsinki probably had two things only slightly against it that tipped the balance: one, the lack of any Western European with a track record of large convention conrunning success outside of Finland (despite some of the team being well known in fandom for worthy, but non-conrunning, contributions), and two, if it had won it would have been the second Western European Worldcon in a row and these things do not happen (yet) outside of N. America.  As for the winner, Spokane is the second largest city in Washington and the largest between Seattle and Minneapolis. Spokane offers the kinds of attractions and amenities you would expect from a city the size of Seattle but without all the rain and traffic: the average number of sunny days in Spokane is 260. Known for its untamed beauty and fantastic outdoor activities just minutes away, Spokane’s motto is: 'Near nature, near perfect'. Its GoHs will include Brad Foster, David Gerrold, Vonda McIntyre, Tom Smith, Leslie Turek.

The 2013 World Fantasy Convention will still have Richard Matheson programme items -- news in SF author section above.

Links to 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…

The 2014 Eurocon will be held – importantly – the weekend after the London 2014 Worldcon! Expect more detailed coverage in our Spring news page but meanwhile we previously reported quite a bit on this convention. Expect quite a few from N. America using their transatlantic air fare to cover two conventions and have a couple of days holiday in between. We understand that the organisers are doing their best to ensure a mainland European influenced programme. If they can ensure that not only are there some items relating to mainland Europe (i.e. not just British Isles SF) then that will be great. If they can ensure that there is at least one mainland European on each and every panel then that will be fantastic. They have already announced one mainland European GoH. +++  Standalone review of this year's Ukrainian 2013 Eurocon here.

The stakes are now extremely high for the 2014 Eurocon in Ireland as Dublin has announced a Worldcon bid. The bid is for 2019. They have a venue. A team with many of the same names behind the bid are preparing for this year's Eurocon who gave that reasonable pre-event promotion and a decent website. All they need to do now is to demonstrate at the 2014 Eurocon that they can programme internationally and their uncles could very well be Bob.

The New Zealand 2020 Worldcon bid will confirm at the London 2014 Worldcon whether it will continue with its bid: this confirms our previous reporting. The bid team is looking at two venues that can hold around 2,500, one in Auckland and one in Wellington. (Two of us having been there hope for Wellington, as Auckland is too spread out for tourism without the use of a car. Conversely there is much in compact Wellington to see as well as a few tourist sites within a 20 minute taxi drive of the city centre in the surrounding countryside.) Fingers crossed.

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.]

Autumn 2013


The Czech semi-prozine XB-1 has once again died, and then once again has been re-born. The last time XB-1 closed it took until early 2011 when another Czech magazine died, Ikarie, and then was reborn taking the name of the old XB-1. Unfortunately the global economic crisis and lack of advertising was behind the recent demise. Fortunately very soon after new sponsors were found and so the magazine will (we suspect for the time being) survive.

Dragon*Con becomes Dragon Con and buys out one of the founders following fan boycott threat. Further to last season's news that a boycott of Dragon*Con had been called for by a number of fans due to one of its founders being accused of a sex crime, Dragon*Con has dissolved with five partners buying out the sixth. Dragon*Con has now been reformed as Dragon Con, Inc. (Dragon Con).  The sixth founder, who has not had any role in managing or organizing the convention since 2000, was offered cash for his shares in the old company. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. “This decision only affects the ownership of the old Dragon Con,” said Pat Henry, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dragon Con.  Dragon*Con is the largest pop culture convention featuring comics, film, television, costuming, art, music, and gaming. Held each Labour Day weekend in Atlanta, Dragon*Con attracted more than 52,000 attendees in 2012.

ComicCon 2013 was held. This is one of the regular megacon fixtures in the US sci-fi diary. For a flavour check out these short videos on:  cosplay at ComicCon;  Matt Smith on leaving Dr Who;  a behind the scenes The Big Bang Theory interviewNeil Gaiman on the new Sandman graphic novel;  and Harrison Ford joking during the Ender's Game panel.

Dr Who exhibition seeks memorabilia from fans. Fans of Dr Who have been asked to contribute to a major exhibition at the National Media Museum in Bradford. The exhibition will itself focus on Who fandom. +++ And don't forget the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who will air on BBC 1 on 23rd November 2013.

Star Wars and Dr Who sci-fi fans clash at University of East Anglia media con. The event was apparently organised by the Norwich Star Wars Club. Members of a rival Norwich Sci-Fi Club (not to be confused with the Norwich SF Society) also attended to get autographs from two Dr Who actors. At first there were reports of an assault but it transpired that it had been just hard words exchanged between members of the two groups. (Apparently there has been a history of rivalry.) The police were called and the situation calmed. However with such behaviour sci-fi does not give SF a good name. The news was covered by the BBC website.

The Festival of Fantastic Films has had Progress Reports 2 and 3 out but for us only just time for last minute news. Scheduled for 20th - 22nd September 2013, new GoHs have been announced. Michael Armstrong was announced in PR2.  And with PR3 comes the news that Shane Rimmer will also be there!  It has to be said that the Festival's PR3 misses out much of Shane's significant contribution to British sci-fi and his presence at this year's fest will undoubtedly stir many fond memories. Aside from minor appearances in three (yes, three!) James Bond films ('films' Fest PR editors please note we make in Britain, not 'movies which are made in the US), Shane also appeared in supporting roles in the Hugo award-winning film Dr Strangelove (1964) as well as Hugo-nominated films Twilight's Last Gleaming and Rollerball (1975). His brief appearances in other SF/F/H offerings include: Star Wars, Superman II & III, The Hunger, Batman Begins and Alien Autopsy. But surely his biggest genre contributions have to be his work with various Gerry Anderson TV series.  Here Shane: wrote scripts and provided uncredited voices for Anderson's Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967–68), Joe 90 (1968–69) and The Secret Service (1969); appeared in episodes of the live-action series UFO (1970) and The Protectors (1972–74), provided voices for Space: 1999 (1975–77); and guest-starred in one of its episodes, 'Space Brain' (1976). But much of these undoubtedly went unnoticed by most viewers. However what will not have been unnoticed was the character Scott Tracy of Thunderbirds to whom Shane gave his voice. Shane Rimmer also appeared once in Doctor Who (in the 1966 serial 'The Gunfighters').
          With regards to Michael Armstrong, he has had a long and varied career, beginning as an actor, aged 20, replacing Melvyn Hayes in the original London stage production of Bill Naughton’s Spring and Port Wine. Michael was soon producing and directing for the stage and in 1966 began writing for Films and Filming. His film career began with the award-winning 1969 black-and-white short The Image, which starred Michael Byrne and in his first film role David Bowie. Michael’s first feature, The Haunted House of Horror (aka Horror House), which he wrote and directed at the age of 24 (at that time the youngest ever writer/director of an international feature film), starred Frankie Avalon, Jill Haworth and Mark Winter. It’s rumoured that Michael had originally intended that David Bowie would appear in the picture, with Boris Karloff in the role subsequently played by Dennis Price. Michael's other credits include House of the Long Shadows - the only film to unite such horror luminaries as Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and John Carradine, it was also the last film in which Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing appeared together. His television writing credits include Return of the Saint, Triangle, Shoestring and The Professionals.
          This year's festival of Fantastic Films, the 24th Fest, also proposes to remember Peter Cushing as this is his 100th year. They say they are probably going Sci-Fi more this year as last year tended to be mainly horror. Suggested themes & films they have been considering include creature movies (space monsters / giant bugs / and such like for one choice. Then really bad creatures/monsters & just plain bad films (Not bad bad, just so bad they are good.) Hopefully as well as sci-fi there will be some SF too.  The fest is a small affair given the recent trend for Megacons, but this means that most can get a chance to informally chat to the guests, yet despite its size there are three parallel programme streams. The gathering is a must for fantastic film buffs and unmissable for anyone in the Manchester area. Fortunately for those of us from further afield, the venue hotel is four minutes walk (three blocks) from Manchester's main Piccadilly station. Membership is £70 for the weekend.  Details

Dark Matter has a special Dr Who themed issue out. The editor is studying Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT University. One of her subjects last semester was Creating Content (a.k.a. desktop publishing) and was required to create a small magazine, so here we are. See

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


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

Autumn 2013


US Random House's SF site Suvudu is now has open social site for fans. Suvudu was launched in 2008 and has grown to have over 9,000 fans following via Facebook and Twitter.  Now, Suvudu is open to contributors directly from the SF community with its own social website 'Suvudu Universe'. Suvudu Universe invites bloggers to join the community and connect with like-minded, yet diverse, contributors from all over the world. Bloggers will receive the opportunity to enter contests and participate in Q and As with notable personalities while promoting their brand and blog…. And, of course, Random House is now Penguin Random House.

Fox TV Channel has issued a DCMA request to take down links to Corry Doctorow's free e-book Homeland. The Murdock-owned Fox did not check to see the content of Cory's Homeland (2013) e-book and it appears that they may well have thought Cory's techno-thriller Homeland (and sequel to Cory's Little Brother (2008)) was related to its own espionage and terrorist TV series Homeland. Reportedly Corry has said, “I think you can safely say I’m incandescent with rage. BRING ME THE SEVERED HEAD OF RUPERT MURDOCH!”  This is understandable and galling given that Cory has been an advocate of copyright free material on-line and makes a number of his works free on-line as e-books: aside from principle, he considers that this enhances sales of his physical (paper) books.  But troubles never come singly. Tor US who have published Cory's Homeland as a physical book have also issued their own DCMA request. Presumably not only were their legal team unaware that Cory had made the e-version of his book copyright free, they did not know Cory's law: "Anytime someone puts a lock on something you own, against your wishes, and doesn't give you the key, they're not doing it for your benefit."

World SF Blog has had its final posting. It started in February of 2009 partly as an excuse to promote Lavie Tidhar's then-forthcoming anthology of international speculative fiction, The Apex Book of World SF. It always championed SF in non-English speaking countries and as such there was some commonality with this site. However it began publishing translated fiction from non-English speaking countries in 2010 taking on a mission to promote non-Anglophone SF. The editor decided to stop in the summer because the blog fulfilled everything he ever wanted it to, and so much more. And then, too, there is the fact that it has been four years. Lavie says he was not sure he ever intended the site to run for that long, and he did begin to feel a certain fatigue around a year ago: this enterprise was run on enthusiasm and a certain desire for change, and he did not want to become resentful of the time or effort he was spending. To do a thing it must be done with joy, or not at all.  And so, with a job well done, we bid farewell to the World SF Blog but its memory lives on in an archive Val Grimm is making the available through the Merril Collection. has a new site design. Yes, the website from people who bring us the World Horror Convention has had a facelift.

Facebook leaks personal details of six million. Six million Facebook users had their e-mail and telephone numbers accidentally shared with people that would not otherwise have had access to the information. Late in June. This is the latest issue with Facebook. Fortunately few use Facebook for serious communication: its attraction is as a network site for social trivia. Nonetheless Facebook said it was "upset and embarrassed" by the problem that was discovered by someone outside of the company.

Facebook flaw ignored so billionaire founder's page hacked! When Khalil Shreateh found a security flaw in Facebook he reported it under Facebook's own White Hat scheme that rewards those uncovering problems with £320 (US$500). However his e-mail was ignored by Facebook. So to demonstrate that there really was a serious flaw, Khalil Shreateh hacked into the private page of the site's billionaire owner and posted a message on Mark Zuckerberg's wall to prove it was possible getting a friend request accepted. Facebook admit that they should have looked at Shreateh's report.

Governments threaten individual e-mails, browsing habits and telephone messages personal confidentiality. That governments spy is not new. What has become apparent over the past couple of decades is that monitoring systems are capable of intercepting personal telephone calls and e-mails.  What is new is that this summer saw a raft of stories that reveal that government agencies in both Britain and the US were regularly storing data as to who was calling and e-mailing whom and presumably individual's browsing histories and other personal details (such as on-line shopping hapbits).
          Early in the summer The Guardian ran a story that the UK's main surveillance centre (GCHQ) has been secretly gathering information on Britons from the world's largest internet companies. The allegations quickly prompted Google to say that the government has 'no access' to servers. Meanwhile GCHQ did not deny the story but said in a statement it operated to 'a strict legal and policy framework'. The Guardian said it has obtained documents showing that Britain's secret listening post had access to the Prism system, set up by America's National Security Agency (NSA), since at least June 2010. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has defended the Prism monitoring programme, saying it was closely overseen by Congress and the courts and that his administration had struck "the right balance" between security and privacy.  But it was revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans. The US House intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers said that collecting Americans' phone records was legal, authorised by Congress and had not been abused by the Obama administration. One example of such monitoring stems from the Bush-era Patriot Act, that allows access to business records for 'foreign intelligence and international terrorism investigations', and requires Verizon - one of the largest phone companies in the US - to disclose to the NSA the metadata of all calls it processes, both domestic and international, in which at least one party is in the US. Such metadata includes telephone numbers, calling card numbers, the serial numbers of phones used and the time and duration of calls. It does not include the content of a call or the callers' addresses or financial information. Furthermore, one claim is that Verizon is currently handing over electronic data on all its customers (numbering tens of millions) on an 'ongoing daily basis'.  Suggestions have also been made that Yahoo, PalTalk, AOL and Apple have also been involved in Prism.
          An editorial in the journal Nature (vol 498, pp137-8) said 'What is perhaps most concerning, apart from the mind-boggling scale of the snooping, is that until last week, the very existence of these programmes was secret.' The editorial also noted that the revelations seem to vindicate many of the conclusions and recommendations of a 2008 report by the US National Research Council (NRC) — Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists: A Framework for Program Assessment. That report addressed privacy issues raised by the Total Information Awareness programme, a research effort launched by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2002 to develop data-mining and other technologies to link and search disparate databases, for example to try to identify suspicious patterns to detect and track terrorists. That programme was soon closed, but its work continued spread across a number of agencies.  The editorial also opined that privacy is a human right, and is essential if people are to develop autonomy. It is central to freedom of expression and association, and to preventing abuse of personal information. There are numerous examples of misuse of private data by agencies and law enforcement, including intimidation, selective character assassination, repression of dissent and wrongful arrest. Privacy is a cornerstone of a free and creative society, and is an essential defence against unwarranted social control.
          Separately, in another Naturearticle (vol 498, p139) growing concern among bioscientists and personal data was explored. People in the United States could soon know someone whose genome is held in a research database. Concerns are growing about our ability to properly control access to that information. Also growing among some scientists is the feeling that restricting access to genomic data fetters research. How long will it be until an idealistic and technically literate researcher deliberately releases genome and trait information publicly in the name of open science?  Now, some studies already gather the genetic data of more than 50,000 individuals in a single analysis. Although this information is supposed to be highly protected, it is disseminated to various institutions that have inconsistent security and privacy standards. In practice, data protection often comes down to individual scientists. But, once leaked, such data would be virtually impossible to contain. So, what harm would come from a leak of personal and genomic data? The consent form for the Personal Genome Project (PGP) — which makes no attempt to keep genetic information secret — offers a guide. It lists a range of adverse consequences, from revealing non-paternity to being framed with synthesized DNA planted at a crime scene. If this seems an exaggeration then what about the threat of a person's genome data going public will do to the current legion of volunteers for biomedical studies?
          If the above is what the British and US (among others) governments are doing, and other potential personal data security threats, what is happening to people's personal details elsewhere? Some examples are in the following stories below…

US and UK intelligence have allegedly cracked the encryption codes protecting e-mails, banking and medical records. Disclosures by Edward Snowden (who has leaked US government documents) allege the US National Security Agency and Britain's GCHQ successfully decoded key online security protocols. It is further suggested that some internet companies provided these agencies with backdoor access to their security systems. However if this is true this guide aid cybercriminals as if backdoors exist then they can be used.

Google was told to delete stolen "mistakenly collected" wi-fi data by Britain's Data Protection ombudsman, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). It was told to delete any data it 'mistakenly collected' while taking pictures for its Street View service, or face criminal proceedings. Google had previously promised to delete all data it had collected, but admitted last year that it had "accidentally" retained additional discs. The "enforcement notice strengthens the action already taken by our office, placing a legal requirement on Google to delete the remaining payload data identified last year within the next 35 days and immediately inform the ICO if any further discs are found," said Stephen Eckersley the Office's head of enforcement. "Failure to abide by the notice will be considered as contempt of court, which is a criminal offence." However, unlike authorities in the US, the ICO said it would not be issuing a fine. The company was fined by US$25,000 (£15,700) by the US Federal Communications Commission last year. Google's stealing data has been found in 30 countries, and included complete e-mail messages, email headings, instant messages and their content, logging-in credentials, medical listings and legal infractions, information in relation to online dating and visits to porn sites.

Yahoo in Japan has been hacked and ID details taken. A file of ID details for about one tenth of its 200 million members was stolen. A file of 22 million IDs had been stolen. Yahoo said it did not know for sure that the file had been taken but said it could not "deny the possibility". It has urged its users to change their passwords.

I.D. theft for dating websites. Identity theft for purposes of stealing from the victim is now well established but increasingly I.D. theft is for other purposes. One of the latest is to use elements of a victim's I.D. to create a fake I.D. that is then used by dating websites who claim that these are genuine people responding to the site's clients. A total of 10,000 online dating profiles were sold to the BBC's Panorama current affairs documentary programme, many of which were fake. The programme was sent photographs and lists of names, email addresses, dates of birth and details of sexual orientation by the website Usdate. Some profiles included photographs of celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Michael Caine and the TV chef Rick Stein. Some of the contact details sold were genuine. The email addresses of academics, a House of Lords life peer and BBC employees were included on the list. All of these individuals told the programme that they had never used a dating website. The issue was explored by an edition of the Panorama programme called 'Tainted Love: The Dark Side of Online Dating'.

Britain is seeing about 70 sophisticated cyber espionage operations a month against government or industry networks says British intelligence MI5. GCHQ director Sir Iain Lobban said business secrets were being stolen on an 'industrial scale'. In addition to government and industry, some 14% of attacks are aimed at educational establishments (mainly universities) and 13% others such as domestic systems.

Cyber-criminals convicted of stealing US$45 million (£29m). Seven people have been charged at the beginning of the summer in May in New York, and an eighth suspect (the ringleader) is thought to have been murdered in April. The network used fake pre-paid debit cards to target banks in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, Japan, Canada, the UK, Romania and 12 other countries.  The team hacked computer systems to steal data on cards. The cards are pre-loaded with funds rather than being linked to a bank account or a line of credit. They then cancelled the withdrawal limits and went on an international withdrawal spree. The theft has been the largest of its kind so far.

Star Trek e-mail addresses now available. Fan-boys at can now provide Trekies with an e-mail address with Trek domains such as,, or the rather cumbersome @ussenterprise1701. The cost is US$15 per year.



World mobile (cell if you are US) number to overtake global population early in 2014. There will be more mobile subscriptions than people in the world by the end of next year, according to a UN agency report World in 2013. The International Telecoms Union predicts that subscriptions will pass seven billion early in 2014. There are currently 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions and 7.1 billion people.  the alliance of countries formerly in the Soviet Union, has the highest mobile penetration with 1.7 subscriptions for every person while Africa has the least, with 0.63 subscriptions per capita. +++ Two thirds of the World do not have ready access to the internet. 2.7 billion people, almost 40% of the world's population, have ready access to the internet either at home, work or school. 60% do not!  Europe has the highest penetration (75%), followed by the Americas (61%). Asia has 32% of its population online, Africa 16%.

PC global decline continues. Mid-summer saw new personal computer sales for the fifth quarter in a row. The 2nd quarter of 2013 saw 76 million units sold. This represents a 10.9% drop from the same time a year earlier. So why the decline? There are several reasons: 1) market saturation; 2) market alternatives (In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC; 3) the current global recession. 4) With cloud storage, external hard-drive add-ons and so forth, it is possible to extend PC lifetimes before upgrading. Each of these factors play a part in varying degrees to the decline. PCs are still though likely to be a significant part of home IT for the medium to long-term future (next couple of decades).

British citizens are among the most connected in the World and much of this is mobile led. Ofcom is Britain's governmentally-funded media consumer watchdog and ombudsman. Ofcom's seventh International Communications Market Report, which looks at the take-up, availability, price and use of broadband, landlines, mobiles, TV and radio across 17 major countries, reveals that Britons are among the most connected in the World.  This is manifest in a number of ways.  Internet shopping: Brit consumers spend on average spend the most via the internet with £1,083 a year on internet shopping, compared with Australia which spends the second most at £842.  Mobile downloads: UK consumers are downloading more data from their mobiles than any other nation. And in December 2011 the average UK mobile connection used 424 MB of data, compared to the second most, Japanese users, who averaged 392 MB.  16% of all web traffic in the UK was from mobiles, tablets or other connected devices - more than any other European country.  Four in ten Brit adults now access Facebook, Twitter and others social networks via their mobiles. And for 18 to 24-year-olds the figures is higher at 62%.  15% of Brits own an internet-enabled television. This compares to 10% in the US.  One reason for this is the cheap price of connectivity in Britain. A basket of communication services (including fixed-line telephone, mobile calls and texts and fixed and mobile broadband and TV) costs on average £146 in the UK. That is £32 cheaper than France, £101 cheaper than Italy and £168 cheaper than the US.

Microsoft backtrack on Xbox One games protocols following customer uproar. The Xbox One console was to restrict the free trade of pre-owned games, and that an internet connection was required to play all titles. Following the on-line anger from gamers and complaints made to Microsoft, its interactive president, Don Mattrick, said the company had "heard loud and clear" from its customers. The freedom rules for trading apply to games bought as physical discs only, and not games downloaded via the online Xbox store. With regard to the disc versions, Microsoft said: "An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games - after a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24-hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360. // Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today - there will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360." +++ A few weeks earlier Microsoft told Windows 8 users that it would be bringing back its iconic 'Start' button to its operating system.

British police told that their intensive number plate recognition technology around a town is illegal. The Hertfordshire town of Royston has six roads leading into it and all have cameras monitoring with car number plate recognition technology.  This means that Royston car users cannot avoid their movements into and out of town from being monitored.  In a landmark ruling the data protection ombudsman, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), has said that Hertfordshire Constabulary's use of cameras in and around the town of Royston was in breach of the law with the police failing to carry out required privacy impact checks. "The use of ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras and other forms of surveillance must be proportionate to the problem it is trying to address… After detailed inquiries, including consideration of the information Hertfordshire Constabulary provided, we found that this simply wasn't the case in Royston," the ICO said. The data regulator began investigating the use of number plate recognition in the town after a complaint in June 2011 by three civil liberties groups: No CCTV, Big Brother Watch and Privacy International. +++ At the same time over the summer, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) highlighted its own concerns about the 'widespread collection' of vehicle data by US police.

PlayStation 4 to be released by Sony on 14th November (2013) in N. America and in Europe two weeks later.


[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 |
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Autumn 2013



Girls have proportionally overtaken boys in British science. Data from Pearson, which runs the BTEC awards, suggests that girls who take these qualifications in science and technology (still a minority compared to boys) are more likely than boys to get top grades. BTECs were originally awarded by the Business and Technology Education Council. BTEC qualifications are undertaken in vocational subjects ranging from business studies to engineering and are equivalent to other qualifications such as the GCSE (levels 1 to 2), A Level (level 3) and university degrees (levels 4 to 7). (For our overseas readers, GCSEs are school qualifications typically taken when aged 15-16 years old.) This year more than a third (37%) of girls taking engineering level two BTECs gained a distinction, compared with 20% of boys. At BTEC Level Three, the proportion of female engineers was just 4% - but again they performed better than males, with 14% achieving the highest grade, as opposed to 9% of the boys. In information technology (IT), girls made up 38% of those taking level two but around a third (31%) gained a distinction, compared with 21% of the boys. MP Andrew Miller, chairman of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee said it was important to find out why girls with science qualifications were not following through into STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers.

The Earth's core is now thought to be hotter. The Earth's core is actually solid crystalline iron surrounded by liquid iron. The temperature at the inner core boundary is expected to be close to the melting point of iron at a pressure of 330 gigapascals (GPa). Measurements in the early 1990s of iron's 'melting curves' – from which the core's temperature can be deduced – suggested a core temperature of about 5,000°C. Now French researchers have replicated the pressures at the core using a diamond anvil cell – essentially a tiny sample held between the points of two precision-machined synthetic diamonds. Then the iron samples were subjected to the high pressures by the anvil and high temperatures using a laser. X-ray beams were used to carry out diffraction to see how the iron changed from solid to liquid. The results suggest a core temperature of about 6,000C, give or take 500C - roughly that of the Sun's surface (Science vol. 340, no. 6131 pp. 464-466).

Qubit in silicon paves the way for quantum computing using conventional electronic platforms. Back in the mid-20th century and turn on a television and it would take a few minutes to warm up. This was because the electronic platform was based on thermodynamic semiconductors that needed (literally) to warm up. Then came the solid state semiconductor transistor which provided the basis for a revolutionary new electronic platform such that the term 'transistor radio' became 'tranny'' which was the by-word for a domestic 'radio' for over a decade.  This in turn was only a short, hop, skip and a jump to the silicon-based integrated circuits which are now so complex that home electronics is no longer a teenager's hobby, but nonetheless have become the dominant technology for modern electronics.  All well and good, but we are now looking forward to a hopeful future where quantum computing is possible and which will greatly enhance (by many orders of magnitude) processing power.  Now an international team (based in Australia, Britain, Finland and the Netherlands) led by Jarryd J. Pla and Kuan Y. Tan has managed to read the nuclear spin of a phosphorous atom embedded in silicon, a qubit: a critical step for quantum computing using solid-state silicon technology (Nature, vol. 496, pp334-338).

New meta-material gets narrower when squashed. Sit on most materials and they get squashed flat (wider). This new meta-material does the opposite and gets narrower. Most packing arrangements avoid holes. (Think of a stack of billiard balls.) This metamaterial makes the most of such packing instabilities and uses holes. It consists of shells with empty space, with the shells buckling under pressure so causing the material to be come narrower. It is thought that such materials could be used where kinetic energy absorption is required or even acoustic dampening. (Advanced Matter (2013).) Up to now metamaterials have been mainly used for invisibility at specific wavelengths of light and related goals such as creating perfect black surfaces and slowing light. Metamaterial acoustic dampeners have been previously created

Progress on taking subatomic images has come with the development of X-ray laser pulse re-emission on the scale of hundreds of zeptoseconds (1 zeptoseconds = 10-21 seconds). This is necessary because small objects move (even vibrate) small distances and this takes a small amount of time. Up to now pulses of several attosconds have been used. (An attosecond = 10-18 seconds.) X-rays are needed because high frequency means short wavelength and wavelengths need to be smaller than the object viewed to be seen. (Physics Reviews Letters, 2013 vol. 111, p033002.)


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

Autumn 2013


Meteor dust cloud of hundreds of tonnes over much of the northern hemisphere following February's exploding meteor in Russia. Satellite data reveals that the dust cloud reached an altitude of 25 miles (40 km) within hours of the explosion. It then, over a few days, formed a band around the Northern Hemisphere that in turn lasted for around three months (geophysical research letters).

China has successful space station mission. Three Chinese astronauts – taikonauts – took the Shenzhou-10 capsule Ona Long March 2F rocket to China's Tiangong-1 space laboratory. There they spent just under two weeks performing experiments and PR related activities. This last included Wang Yaping - China's second woman in space - present a video lecture to Chinese school pupils back on Earth. After completion of the Shenzhou-10 mission, Tiangong was left and allow to undergo orbital decay ultimately to burn up over the Pacific Ocean. Future plans include a second space lab, Tiangong-2, which is likely to be launched in a couple of years time. It will be a more developed and pave the way for the large space station China hopes to build around 2020.

The Russian rocket launching GLOSNASS navigation system crashed. The GLOSNASS navigation system was to be Russia's answer to the west's global positioning system. Coincidentally, the same day India successfully launched the first of seven satellites that will form its own global positioning system which will be completed in 2016. +++ Europe's own system, Galileo, was launched in December 2005 and was the second such system, the first being run by the US military.

ESA have announced next Ariane design. Ariane 6 will have less lifting capacity than Ariane 5 and so carry only one satellite per launch rather than two. However it will be more cost-effective at £60 million (70m Euros) per launch. The economics influencing the decision was apparently down to increasing competition from non-European launchers such as Russia's Proton. It is hoped that price combined with reliability will sway those seeking launches in the 2020s.

Europe's plans for Mars exploration affirmed. The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed contracts for 216 million euros (~£300 m). ExoMars will have two missions. The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) should be ready for launch in January 2016, that will among other things will look for methane, and there will be a surface rover launched in 2018. Previously ExoMars plans have had problems with US cutbacks but these were overcome with a partnership with Russia. Russia is providing two of the four instruments for the orbiter, as well the 1.8-tonne landing mechanism for an early 2019 Mars touchdown.

Star surrounded by super-Earths found. The star is Gliese 667C (named using the catalogue system developed by the German astronomer Wilhelm Gliese). Gliese 667C is 22 light-years away in the constellation of Scorpius and is a low-luminosity, M-dwarf star just over one-third the mass of our Sun. Previously the star was thought to have three planets with one being a super-Earth in the habitable zone. Now astronomers led by Guillem Anglada-Escude of the Göttingen University, Germany, and Mikko Tuomi, of the University of Hertfordshire, Britain, have found that it likely has three super-Earths (large mass Earths) in its habitable zone. They used the 3.6m telescope at the Silla Observatory in Chile. This incorporates the high-precision HARPS (High Accuracy Radial-Velocity Planet Searcher) that was last year (2012) used as the basis of the estimate that there were 10s of billions of Super-Earths in Galaxy and around a billion in the Goldilocks liquid water zone.  Being an M-dwarf it is cooler than our sun Sol and this means that the Goldilocks (habitable) zone is closer than Mercury's orbit around Sol, which in turn means that the planets are likely to be close to tidally locked with very long days so reducing the chance of complex life.  +++ There is a short explanatory video here.

Crowded open cluster stars surprisingly seem to have many planets. US researchers have determined that two stars in the open cluster of NGC 6811 have sub-Neptune sized planets. Up to now of the 850 exoplanets discovered, only four reside in open clusters. This led astronomers to think that clusters were too crowded an environment to allow for planets. The new survey looked at just 377 stars. (Up to now more than 10,000 stars in open clusters have been examined.) That two are thought to have planets means that it is likely that many other stars in clusters have planets.  Now, before you go thinking that two is not large enough for statistics (you would be right) what makes the researchers optimistic is that NGC 6811 is both established (older than a billion years) and a small cluster. Given that cluster tend to drift apart, this means that in the past it must have been more crowded and so interstellar interaction more dynamic, hence potentially disruptive to planetary systems. Given that two were found today means that there is a good chance that planetary systems formed in clusters are robust. NASA's Kepler mission provided the data. The research appeared in Nature (vol 499, pp55-68).

NASA's Kepler (exoplanet-seeking) mission is now over due to failed gyroscope. Spinning at a couple of thousand revolutions a minute, the gyroscopes stabilise the satellite. Kepler's aim was to survey some 150,000 Sun-like stars within 3,000 light years (920 parsecs) to identify Earth-sized planets and those in systems' habitable zones. This has proven harder than thought and the mission was extended to 2016, so this problem that took place in May is a disappointment. Nonetheless results have been impressive and only last summer found that smaller planets form under a wider range of conditions than gas giants. There have been a host of other discoveries including that planets can form in twin sun systems. So far Kepler has discovered 2,700 exoplanets. Most are three to five times the radius of the Earth and closer to their sun than the Earth. However the mission was only just beginning to refine the technique of identifying planets at the smaller end of the Kepler range. Fortunately more results are expected from the Kepler data already gathered up to the point of mission fail.

Voyager-1 due to leave the Solar system… (No, honestly). Some of you may have the feeling we have been here before and indeed we have. A decade ago, back in 2003 we reported that the Voyager probe was about to leave the Solar system. Now, it did leave in one sense by crossing the 'terminal shock' (the edge of the region dominated by particles flowing from the Sun) but we now think it entered a zone (the 'heliosheath)' that contains both particles from the Sun as well as those from the interstellar medium moving in all directions. However it seems that the Voyager craft did not enter the interstellar medium proper but a boundary zone. Now the Voyager team have published in the journal Science news of what seems to be an increase in the Sun's magnetic field lines as if they are piling up against the true interstellar medium. The researchers are currently watching the direction of the field lines. At the moment (2013), they orientate east-west, wound into a spiral by the rotating Sun, but when Voyager finally enters interstellar space proper they are expected to shift to run north-south. When this happens this will signal that they have crossed the heliopause boundary and left the zone influenced by the Sun's particles and magnetic field. +++  Launched 35 years ago way back in 1977, the probe is now 11.5 billion miles (18.5 billion km) from Earth and its radio signal takes 17 hours to arrive here.

Pluto's moons named. And the names are… 'Kerberos' and 'Styx'. The names were selected by the International Astronomical Union from suggestions submitted by the public over the internet. In mythology Pluto ruled the underworld the entrance to which was guarded by the three-headed dog Kerberos and bordered by the river Styx.


[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.]

Autumn 2013


Gay health alert!. (We'll keep this short and to the point.)  Small clusters of infections of Neisseria meningitidis, frequently fatal and speedily, are emerging with some linkage to gay communities in North America and Europe.  Biomedical scientists are trying to discern patterns of infection, and spreading beyond gay communities seem to be a particular (but currently unquantified) concern. (Science, vol. 341, p328.)

Coelacanth genome analysed and it is not the closest relative to tetrapods. – Shock, horror. The coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae was discovered alive off east Africa in 1938 having thought to have been extinct since the Late Cretaceous some 70 million years ago. In 1997 a second species of coelacanth was discovered, Latimeria menadoensis, in Indonesia. Noted for its large fins – it is a lobe-finned fish – the coelacanth was thought to be the closest living relative of the first vertebrate animals to walk on land (the four-legged tetrapods).  Now an international team has sequenced the genome of Latimeria chalumnae and found that it is not the closest living relative to the first fish that walked on land. Comparative gene analysis of 21 jawed vertebrates reveals that that accolade goes to the West African lungfish, Protopterus annectens (Nature, vol 469, pp311-316).

MRC is 100 years old. The Medical Research Committee, the pre-cursor to today's Medical Research Council, was 100 years old in June. The MRC is the independent agency responsible for Britain's government funded medical research. It has had many successes. Arguably one of the greatest was the development of randomised controlled trials. The first of these was conducted in 1920 at the Brompton Hospital that looked at the efficacy of streptomycin as a treatment for TB. Its initial 1913 budget was just £4 million in today's (2013) money. Today its gross expenditure for the year 2012/3 was £767 million (US$1,166m).

Harmful red meat compound identified. Current advice is that it is wise not to have more than two portions of red meat a week to avoid increasing risk of heart disease. But why red meat, unlike white meat, makes one more prone to heart disease has not been clear though a link to a build up of a harmful form of cholesterol is thought to play a part. Now a study in Nature Medicine shows that that carnitine in red meat is broken down by bacteria in the gut releasing a gas that in turn is converted in the liver to a chemical called TMAO. The study now shows that TMAO is strongly linked with the build-up of fatty deposits in blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease and death. In Britain the recommendation has been 70g of red or processed meat a day – the equivalent of two slices of bacon – whether this will need to be revised remains to be seen as the research affirms (not overturns) current dietary thinking.

Super wheat with 30% more yield developed by British biologists. It was done with conventional plant breeding techniques together with seed embryo transfer technology. The National Institute of Agricultural Botany (Cambridge) combined an ancient ancestor of wheat with a modern variety to produce the new strain. Though each few years throughout the latter half of the 20th century has seen significant improvements in wheat productivity, the last 15 years have seen little growth in the average wheat harvest from each acre in Britain.

Cloned cell makes stem cells. Cloned embryos have now been used as a source of stem cells, which in turn can make new heart muscle, bone, brain tissue or any other type of cell in the body. The study, published in the journal Cell, used a somatic cell nuclear transfer methods like that which produced Dolly the sheep but not using human cells which have proven difficult (the egg does not divide beyond the 10 or so cell stage). Now this has been overcome. A thorough examination of the stem cells derived through this technique demonstrated their ability to convert just like normal embryonic stem cells, into several different cell types, including nerve cells, liver cells and heart cells. However for ethical reasons the researchers did not let the embryo continue developing, but the Oregon Health and Science University did develop the embryo to the blastocyst stage – around 150 cells – which is enough to provide a source of embryonic stem cells.

Naked mole rat's resistance to cancer now has a possible explanation. The naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber) exhibits a couple of remarkable characteristics. It has a maximum life span of over 30 years, which is the longest of any rodent species: a similarly-sized house mouse lives at most around four years. Naked mole rats are also are remarkably resistant to cancer. This last has already in part been explained by early contact inhibition (ECI) in which cell growth ceases when cells come into contact with one another and mole rat cells do this at a lower density compared to mouse cells.  But why is this? Researchers have now identified a viscous chemical secreted by mole rat fibroblasts and it is as if (through membrane receptors) this presents an illusion that a cell is closer to other cells than they actually are (Nature, vol 499, pp346-349). This viscous chemical is a high-molecular-mass hyaluronan.  (If you really want to know what it is then it's an unbranched disaccharide glucuronic acid, N-acetylglucosamine polymer, but you really should not ask such questions unless you really want to get bogged down in the biochemistry and we all know what that means.)  The researchers have shown that by removing it (by knocking out the hyaluronan-synthesising enzymes) the mole rat cells become susceptible to malignant tumours. ? So how did all this come about?  The researchers contemplate that mole rats initially evolved this viscous hyaluronan chemical to give its skin the elasticity needed for life underground. The cancer resistance spin-off then provided further evolutionary benefit so conserving this characteristic.  The next question is whether or not this hypothesis and evidence has any biomedical benefit? For that we will have to wait for further research.

Genome from nearly a million years old sequenced suggesting that modern horses evolved earlier than previously thought: 4.0 – 4.5 million years ago. A diverse international team (whose two lead authors are Danish) have sequenced DNA from a Thistle Creek, Canada, horse bone preserved in permafrost for 700,000 years. This DNA is ten times – just let that 'ten times' sink in for a moment before reading on – older than the previous oldest DNA sequenced (a Denisovian human 80,000 years ago). By comparing this genome with that of a horse genome from 43,000 years ago as well a modern Przewalsk's horse and five domestic horse breeds plus a donkey, the researchers conclude that first horses evolved 4-4.5 million years ago giving rise to today's horses and zebras. Further, it seems that horse population was reduced in times of climate change.  To put all this into some sort of planetary context we need to remember that we are currently in the middle of an 'Ice Age' (note capitals), albeit one of the warm parts of the Ice Age called an 'interglacial' (compared to one of the cold parts called 'interglacials' or, confusingly, 'ice ages' (note the lower case)). Our Quaternary Ice Age began about 2 million years ago but around 4.0-4.5 million years ago when horses are now thought to have first evolved, the Earth was already cooling: ice was already established in Antarctica albeit not to the extent it is today. This was also the time that Ardipithecus ramidus lived, a cousin to an early human ancestor species. What it means is that horses are one of a number of species that evolved in a cool Earth: a cool Earth that we are now leaving with global warming.&nspb Anyway, this ancient horse genome research was published in Nature (vol 499, pp74-78).

Ancestors of American dogs could well have come with migrations across the Bering Straight rather than having been carried across the Atlantic (such as with Vikings). Swedish researchers have looked at mitochondrial DNA (mtDNAQ) from 347 individual dogs of American breeds (like the Chihuahuas and Canadian Eskimo dogs. These were compared with the mtDNA of modern European and Asian dogs in addition to mtDNA from preserved remains of American dogs who lived before Columbus set foot in the Americas. The results suggest that American breeds came with human migrants across the Bering Straight some 15,000 years ago (Proceedings of the Royal Society B, vol 280, 20131142).

Limpet shells suggestive of growth in palaeo-human population. US researchers looking at limpet shells found in archaeological sites in South Africa show a sudden decrease in size from around 50,000 years ago. This, they suggest, is an evolutionary response to more intense harvesting (larger limpets are harvested first only leaving smaller ones to breed if all the large ones are removed). However humans living on S. Africa's coast created symbolic artefacts around 100,000 years ago so this result challenges the theory that a large population was required for this innovative leap. (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci (2013).)

New novel Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-nCV) continues to spread. By mid-summer 77 people were known to have been infected with the virus. Cases have been confirmed in the Middle East (Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia) as well as Europe (France, Germany, Italy, and Britain) and of these 41 had died: last season we noted that there were 13 cases. At the beginning of the summer, in a statement in May, the World Health Organization (WHO) said: "The greatest global concern is about the potential for this new virus to spread. This is partly because the virus has already caused severe disease in multiple countries, although in small numbers, and has persisted in the [Middle East] region since 2012… Of most concern, however, is the fact that the different clusters seen in multiple countries increasingly support the hypothesis that when there is close contact this novel coronavirus can transmit from person-to-person."

Dolphin's probably do call each other by individual name. Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) seem to call each other by name researchers from St Andrews University (Great Britain) have found. They did this by recording animals extensive vocabulary and then used whistles associated with one dolphin on itself as well as separately others. Dolphins did not respond when played what were assumed to be names of dolphins they had never met. This is the first time this has been seen in an animal, although other studies have suggested that some species of parrot may use sounds to tag others in their group. (King & Janik (2013) PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1304459110).


[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.]

Autumn 2013


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.


Jupiter War by Neal Asher, Macmillan, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-236-75071-5.
Alan Saul is a cyborg but his human origins means he is compelled to rescue his sister trapped on Mars. Space opera.

Terminus by Adam Baker, Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-444-75587-9.
Salvation is down there, hidden somewhere beneath the streets of devastated New York…

The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain Banks, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50149-9.
This is the first mass market paperback release of what sadly this turned out to be Iain's last 'Culture' novel, but it is a cracker. Click on the title link for a review (but note that the review was written before the news of Iain's illness and demise). Fantastic space opera. Recommended.

Proxima by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-11684-9.
No advance publicity on this one but suspect it might be a return to solo hard SF, or space opera, for Stephen: in which case this will be eagerly awaited.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, Harper Collins, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-46458-4.
A time travelling killer is on the loose. One would-be victim survives and is determined to catch the murderer.  Lauren Beukes previously won a Clarke Award. This is the first mass-market paperback release of last season's hardback. Jonathan has just done a review of The Shining Girls.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50188-8.
Humanity is at war with the aliens but is losing. All resources are being directed to the problem especially the brightest and the best; including children untainted by preconceptions and habit…. The 1985 modern, Hugo-winning classic reprinted in time for the feature film. Click on the title link for a review. (Let's hope that Orbit reprints the next two in the trilogy and subsequent spin-offs soon.)

Ex-Purgatory by Peter Clines, Del Rey, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-091-95365-2.
This is the 4th in the 'Ex-Heros' series.

Wraith by Dean Crawford, Simon & Schuster, pbk, £6.99, ISBN 978-1-471-10257-8.
A science-fantasy Ethan Warner horror-thriller with paranormal allusions wrapped up in an SFnal rationale. Reminiscent of Michael Crichton apparently.

Homeland by Cory Doctorow, Titan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16748-9.
This takes place four years on from Little Brother. Marcus has now lost all his money but still wants a university degree and so gets his education on the web.  Interestingly, and typical of Cory, the e-book is freely downloadable.  However this book should not be confused with Andrew Kaplan's prequel to the Homeland television series that is also out this autumn.

Stories of Legendary Lands edited by Umberto Eco, Maclehose Press, hrdbk, £35. ISBN 978-0-857-05287-2.
Umberto eco is, of course, well known for his novel The Name of the Rose. Here he collects writings about legendary lands: dreams, utopias and nightmares from both mainstream fiction as well as science fiction and fantasy. The book is illustrated.

The Eternal Flame by Greg Egan, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-10573-7.
Egan is known for his mastery of ultra-hard SF.

The Arrows of Time by Greg Egan, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-10576-8.
This is the final volume in the orthogonal trilogy that began with The Clockwork Rocket set in a universe in which the laws of physics are different from our own: which Egan devises in a logical way.

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales by Steven Erikson, Transworld, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06779-6.
Three science-fantasy novellas:-
'The Devil Delivered': In the breakaway Lakota Nation, in the heart of a land blistered beneath an ozone hole the size of the Great Plains of North America, a lone anthropologist wanders the deadlands, recording observations that threaten to bring the world’s powers to their knees.
'Revolvo': In the fictitious country of Canada, the arts scene is ruled by technocrats who thrive in a secret, nepotistic society of granting agencies, bursaries, and peer review boards, all designed to permit self-proclaimed artists to survive without an audience.
'Fishing with Grandma Matchie': A children’s story of a boy tasked with a writing assignment becomes a stunning fantastical journey with his tale-spinning grandmother…
Steven Erikson is well known as the creator of the epic fantasy sequence ‘Malazan Book of the Fallen’. This collection, from the pre-publicity, looks more science-fantasy and so likely to be of great interest to many speculative fiction readers. This book actually comes out late in September (just after we post next season's news page) but we thought you would appreciate the early heads up.

Queen of Nowhere by Jaine Fenn, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09700-1.
Space opera-ish. The mass market paperback edition of the spring's trade paperback. Part of the 'Hidden Empire' sequence that previously included Principles of Angels.

Marauder by Gary Gibson, Macmillan, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-74890-3.
New space opera thriller. This author is beginning to shape up nicely. Sort of Banks and Reynolds light, this is set in the same universe as, but many years after the events of, his 'Shoal' trilogy. Billed as a 'stand alone' novel. (A two-page preamble gives new readers the little necessary background needed.)

The Thousand Emperors by Gary Gibson, Tor, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-330-51972-4.
The mass market paperback release of last autumn's hardback. High octane space adventure somewhat loosely reminiscent of Alastair Reynolds. Set in the future, the Earth has colonised the nearby stars using a portal 'Stargate' type network but alien technology turned Earth into a ruin and collapsed the network. After many decades, by the time a new network had been established, humanity's colonies had largely formed two camps… Archivist (and intelligence officer) Luc Gabon is dying slowly, a victim of a forced technology implant inserted while on assignment. However the technology enables him to see things that are forbidden and one of the empire faction rulers is clearly guilty of a murder but which one and how will this affect the forthcoming treaty with humanity's other faction?& See Gary's Final Days that dealt with humanity's last days on Earth.

Heaven's Fall by David S. Goyer & Michael Cassutt, Macmillan, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-23-757o4-2.
This is the third and final instalment of their hard SF trilogy. The first saw a mission to a near earth object that turned out to be artificial. The second the exploration of the said NEO. This third book most likely deals with an invasion of Earth and the human explorers returning the NEO to Earth.

Parasite by Mira Grant, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50192-5.
A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease. We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It has been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them. But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives... and will do anything to get them… This is the first in a duology. (Editorial comment: Now, if you thought that a parasite could not have an affect of the biological condition of the host then check out an old SF2 Concatenation tapeworm article by Prof. Chris Arme.)

The Secret of Abdu El-Yezdi by Mark Hodder, Del Rey, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-091-95062-0.
This is an SF steampunk romp. Brunel and Florence Nightingale have gone missing. So who does King George V ask to find them? None other than Captain Richard Francis Burton.

Dust by Hugh Howey, Century, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-780-89187-3.
A poison is growing in Silo 18… This novel was previously a self-publishing success.

Fiendish Schemes by J. W. Jeter, Melia, pbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-0-765-33094-9.
Though this is a sequel (in that it takes place subsequent) to Infernal Devices it is a stand-alone novel and can be read as such. The protagonist is George Dower the son of the inventor in Infernal Devices.

When It’s Ajar by Tom Holt, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49782-2.
Maurice has just killed a dragon with a breadknife. And had his destiny foretold . . . and had his true love spirited away. That’s precisely the sort of stuff that’d bring out the latent heroism in anyone. Unfortunately, Maurice is pretty sure he hasn’t got any latent heroism. Meanwhile, a man wakes up in a jar in a different kind of pickle (figuratively speaking). He can’t get out, of course, but neither can he remember his name, or what gravity is, or what those things on the ends on his legs are called . . . and every time he starts working it all out, someone makes him forget again. Forget everything. Only one thing might help him. The answer to the most baffling question of all. WHEN IS A DOOR NOT A DOOR?  Now, Orbit's pre-publicity bills this as SF (not fantasy) so we will have to take them on their word at that, not least because Tom is know for some science-fantasy.. However, what is certain is that Tom has a solid track record in genre humour writing.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50240-3.
The Radch are conquerors to be feared – resist and they will turn you into a ‘corpse soldier’ – one of an army of dead prisoners animated by a warship’s AI mind. Whole planets are conquered by their own people. The colossal warship called 'The Justice of Toren' has been destroyed – but one ship-AI controlled soldier (with the AI) has escaped the devastation. Used to controlling thousands of hands, thousands of mouths, 'The Justice' now has only two hands, and one mouth with which to tell her tale. But one fragile, human body might just be enough to take revenge against those who destroyed her...

The Detainee by Peter Liney, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-782-06033-8.
An island is circled by punishment satellites. The island contains the old, the sick and poor who have been dumped there… This is a debut novel and the trade paperback of the hardback announced last season.

Sherlock Holmes: The Will of the Dead by George Mann, Titan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16001-5.
Sherlock gone steampunk.

Cauldron by Jack McDevitt, Headline, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-472-20329-8.
This is a space opera thriller. Based in the US, Jack is a master of comfy, lightweight but entertaining space opera. Set in a future where humanity has colonies in many systems but in which the Galaxy is still largely unexplored, where the rich have their won faster-than-light space ships and the average citizen on colony worlds drives antigravity cars (but where the internet – or its successor – and artificial intelligence seems largely absent – Jack established his future universe in the 1980s), there are still many mysteries to solve… Sadly, for over a decade Jack has not been published in Britain. It is really good to see him back. This is a reprint and accompanies and other reprint, Odyssey (below) and also a new stand-alone prequel story Starhawk (also below).

Odyssey by Jack McDevitt, Headline, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-472-20327-4.
Space opera thriller detective story. A passing tourist craft happens to see lights from a planet in an uninhabited star system off the usual space lanes. The story of the sighting only comes out years later and the surviving witnesses are reluctant to talk. Could the lights be those from aliens?  See the title link for a review.  Sadly, for over a decade Jack has not been published in Britain. Good to see him back. This is a reprint and accompanies the new stand-alone prequel story Starhawk below and another reprint above.

Starhawk by Jack McDevitt, Headline, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-472-20754-8.
Hard SF space opera adventure. This is a new 'prequel' and a stand-alone novel that recounts Priscilla Hutchins' first adventure. Jack is an established writer in the US. Though not an SF giant by any means, you can be extremely sure of a reasonably good read every time. This is part of a couple of related series in which humanity has gone to the stars. Everyone in civilised colonies drives anti-grav cars and faster-than-light travel is possible. See Jonathan's review of Odyssey which is another Hutchins' adventure.

The Eidolon by Libby McGugan, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08158-7.
A mission to sabotage SF may save the Earth. The Autumn Buyers' Guide has this down as 'philosophical SF'.

The 100 by Kass Morgan, Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-444-76688-2.
It is the year 3010 and a hundred juvenile delinquents are sent to recolonise the Earth…

Fashion Beast by Alan Moore and Malcolm McLaren, Titan, trdpbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-592-91211-7.
Moore's reputation as a graphic novelist speaks for itself. This latest offering can be summed up as 'Beauty and the Beast' re-told set in a future dystopic city.

The Loch Ness Legacy by Boyd Morrison, Sphere, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-751-54805-1.
From the author of The Noah's Ark Quest comes this thriller in which the discovery that Darwin made in 1827, that led him to come up with the theory of evolution, now threatens to trigger World War III.

2000AD Presents Sci-Fi Thrillers by Grant Morrison, Henry Flint et al, 2000AD, tradpbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08177-8.
This graphic novel collection brings together a number of standalone SF comic strips that over the decades have occasionally appeared in the weekly 2000AD.

The Game is Altered by Meg Packer, Tindal St, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-781-25118-8.
In an alternate reality there is gaming and people trafficking. The publicity indicates that this novel is in the vein of Cory Doctorow.

A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett, Corgi, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-552-16333-0.
The first mass market paperback release of last year's hardback. A collection of short fiction from Terry Pratchett, spanning the whole of his writing career from schooldays to Discworld and the present day. Here are characters both familiar and yet to be discovered; abandoned worlds and others still expanding; adventure, chickens, death, disco and, actually, some quite disturbing ideas about Christmas. Includes wonderful illustrations by the late Josh Kirby as well as drawings by Terry himself.

Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-447-22558-4.
US based steampunk with Abraham Lincoln.

The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0575-08893-1.
This is the mass market paperback release of last autumn's trade paperback sequel to the fantastic, Eganesque, hard SF The Quantum Thief. Now, Jonathan felt that Hannu got carried away and leaving many of his readers behind (see the title link to review), but don't take his word for it, Google around for other reviews.  Having said that, interest in Hannu continues.

The Chickens of Atlantis and Other Fowl and Filthy Fiends by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08645-6.
Private detective Cameron Bell and Darwin the educated ape are on the case in this SF comedy steampunk that we think is the last Rankin novel in his contract with Gollancz.

The Demi-Monde: Fall by Rod Rees, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-849-16509-9.
This is the conclusion of the hugely inventive Demi-Monde quartet. An unlikely agent has been sent into a highly sophisticated quantum computer simulation world used by the military for training to rescue the President's daughter. Within this world 'supernatural' forces are becoming manifest that threaten both Demi-Monde and the 'real' world…  This is a sub-genre-busting series of novels that can be read as hard SF turning into a fantasy or as fantasy (with a sugar coating of science) or alternatively as steampunk. Either way it is very engaging. It is also both an action adventure as well as a dark comedy. And if all that were not enough, those who enjoy wordplay will find this wonderfully entertaining. We have elsewhere on this site standalone reviews of Demi-Monde: Winter, Demi-Monde Spring and Demi-Monde: Summer… With a 'big dumb object perspective', Bob Shaw gave us 'Orbitsville', Larry Niven 'Ringworld', and now we have Rod Rees (virtually) with 'Demi-Monde'.

The Demi-Monde: Summer by Rod Rees, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-849-16507-5.
This is the paperback release of the hardback that came out earlier this year. Click on the title for a stand-alone review. Also see the above The Demi-Monde: Fall mini-descriptor.

On the Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09045-3.
The latest offering from the wide-screen, space opera maestro. Three of our reviewers (Tony, Ian and Jonathan) have reviewed a dozen of Alastair's books on this site and none have a bad word to say. This might just give you just a slight clue as to whether or not we truly, massively recommend you checking this latest offering out.

The Suicide Exhibition: The Never War by Justin Richards, Del Rey, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-091-95596-0.
This is a thriller set in an alternate World War II. Del Rey's hardback pricing suggests they have confidence in this one.

Short Stories by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13035-7.
We think this may well be Adam's first collection. He certainly turns out novels at quite a rate which either says something about him as a writer, or the demands placed on a humanities university lecturer. But he has been short-listed for the Clarke a few times and has appeal to both litcrits and semi-hard-SF enthusiasts. Could very well be worth checking out.

Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson, Orbit, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49999-4.
Set 30,000 years ago at the height (or is it depth?) of the last glacial maximum (LGM). Now this may read like a fantasy but we have a feeling that there may be little if any fantasy element. Rather, this novel may well have a factually based setting that makes it more SFnal… So how does this fit in to Kim's oeuvre? Well, one thing the author has had an interest in is climate change. (See the trilogy that includes Forty Signs of Rain.)  The pre-publicity says it is 'Perfect for fans of Alastair Reynolds, Peter F. Hamilton and Iain M. Banks'. Actually this is every so slightly very wrong. Such a line is very appropriate for Robinson's previous novel, 2312 which was a space opera, but not this title which is a palaeo-drama. Instead let us give you our own steer and say that 'Shaman is perfect for fans of Stephen Baxter's 'Northland' trilogy'… Meanwhile those at the 2010 Worldcon in Australia may recall Stan saying that his kind of utopia was more the Palaeolithic but with dentistry and health care.

Limit by Frank Schatzing, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-849-16515-0.
Techno-thriller cum SF when in 2025 the first ever hotel on the Moon is open. It is a near future with an energy crisis necessitating the harvesting of helium-3. Fortunately there is a space elevator to help support lunar enterprises. And so we are all set for intrigue… Germany's most successful thriller writer, Frank Schatzing's SFnal The Swarm was a big hit with mainstream readers and he has won both mundane fiction as well as SF prizes in Germany (though our Tony did not like it but feel free to ignore him). This new novel will probably do well in Britain with both mainstream and technothriller readers, whether it will with the SF community only you can answer.

The Explorer by James Smythe, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-45676-5.
Lone space explorer thriller.

The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar, Hodder, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-444-76287-7.
The past and present collide… Lavie only has a couple of books under his belt but is nonetheless attracting some critical attention as you can find out with a quick Google. (He also once the best part of a decade ago contributed to this site.)

Your Brother's Blood: The Walkin' – Book I by David Towsey, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-782-06433-6.
This is the trade paperback release of last season's hardback.  The Earth is a wasteland with no technology, science or medicine. But the dead don't always die. Those who rise again are the walkin'. Thomas is 32 and comes from a small town with a wife and child there. He is on his way home from the war. Thomas is also one of the walkin' and his home townsfolk do not like the walkin'… See the title link for a review.

The Tower by Simon Toyne, Harper Collins, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-39208-7.
Science-fantasy. A cyber-atttack on NASA's deep space search for the origins of the Universe stops the programme and comes with a warning that 'Mankind must look no further'. And then around the world species migration, strange weather events suggest that Revelation is coming.

Halo: The Thursday War by Karen Traviss, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-447-22093-0.
Spin-off from the game.

Amped by Daniel H. Wilson, Simon & Schuster, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-471-10294-2.
This is the first mass market paperback release of Amped. The novel portrays a near-future in which people can amplify their intelligence with implants, but this results in a rift between normal people and the amped.

Slapsticks or Lonesome No More by Kurt Vonnegut, Vintage Classics, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-38781-7.
Vonnegut's 1976 novel reprinted.

Welcome to the Monkey House and Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage by Kurt Vonnegut, Vintage Classics, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-842705.
Welcome to the Monkey House collection of shorts was first published in 1968. This is a welcome reprint from Vintage Classics. Good to see Vonnegut published years after his death. This collection some say contains among his best short SF.

The Broken Wheel: Chung Kuo by David Wingrove, Corvus, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-587-89821-0.
It is 2207 and Chung's stasis is failing. Meanwhile the Seven's dominance is threatened by terrorist attacks…

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

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


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Autumn 2013

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

The Clown Service by Guy Adams, Del Rey, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-091-95314-0.
This is the first in a new supernatural spy series. Think Stross' 'Laundry' novels such as The Fuller Memorandum.

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13293-1.
Fantasy sword & sorcery with a Middle East setting.

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom, Sphere, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-751-54117-5.
The inventor of the clock returns to Earth to teach two people the meaning and value of time. One is a suicidal girl. He other a wealthy man who hankers after immortality.

The Secrets of Life and Death by Rebecca Alexander, Del Rey, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-091-95323-2.
Occult and magic across time.

Isabel's Skin by Peter Benson, Alma Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-846-88295-1.
This tale is a hybrid package of gothic horror, murder mystery and a love story.

Witch Wraith by Terry Brooks, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49983-3.
Book three of the Dark Legacy of Shannara.

The Days of the Deer by Liliana Bodoc, Corvus, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-848-87027-7.
Lilian Bodoc is a big seller in her native Argentina and is considered the Tolkien of S. America. Ursula K. Le Guin is happy to give this a line of support.

Soulless: The Manga – Volume 3 by Gail Carriger, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50265-6.
Gail Carriger’s New York Times bestselling novel of vampires, werewolves, dirigibles, parasols and tea comes to life in this steampunk-fuelled manga graphic novel adaptation.

Cold Blooded by Amanda Carlson, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50129-1.
The third Jessica McClain novel – a fast-paced, occasionally mildly erotic urban fantasy. The time has now come for female werewolf Jessica McClain to honour the oath she swore to the icy Vampire Queen.

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson, Gollancz, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09923-4.
The final in the 'Fire and Thorns' trilogy.

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole, Simon & Schuster, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-857-07921-3.
The 2nd in Arcana Chronicles.

The Raven's Shadow by Elspeth Cooper, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13438-6.
Third in the Wild Hunt sequence, the first of which was short-listed for Best Fantasy Debut category of the Gemmell Awards.

King Breaker: The Chronicles of King Rolen's Kin by Rowena Cory Daniells, Solaris, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08149-5.
It's a fight for the throne…

Dragon Queen by Stephen Deas, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-10053-4.

The Last Dark by Stephen Donaldson, Gollancz, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-473-20085-2.
The final story of the 'Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant' See Graham's review of the previous Fatal Revenant: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant Book 2 . Now, new readers will have missed the earlier books in the series when they first came out. Lucky you, because these came out over a couple of decades. And it is lucky you because you can catch up with these from Gollancz. Graham, who is really into science fantasy wrapped up in fantasy is a huge fan of this Donaldson series.
          First published in 1977, 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever':-
                   Lord Foul’s Bane
                   The Illearth War
                   The Power That Preserves

was one of the keystone works of modern SFF and is directly responsible for establishing the epic fantasy genre as it is today.
          'The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever':-
                   The Wounded Land
                   The One Tree and
                   White Gold Wielder
followed from 1980 to 1983 and cemented Donaldson’s reputation as the major fantasy writer of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
         'The First and Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever' will be published as eBooks and will be released to coincide with the publication of The Last Dark on the 17th October 2013.

World After by Susan Ee, Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-444-77853-3.
This is book 2 in the Penryn and the End of Days series following Angelfall. Apparently a feature film could well be on the way.

The Dead Fool by Tom Fletcher, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87065-6.
In his lifetime Thomas Skelton was a jester who used to sit beneath a chestnut tree, in front of Muncaster Castle, where he would direct travellers to their deaths in quicksand… But he has been dead since 1600… Now he wants to come back!

Seven Sorcerers by John R. Fultz, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50083-6.
The third instalment in this fantasy tale of epic proportions – where men walk side by side with giants, warriors do battle with monsters and mighty kingdoms clash… A fantasy equivalent of The Magnificent Seven – perfect for fans of Robert Jordan, Raymond E. Feist, Markus Heitz’s 'Dwarves' series and Dungeons & Dragons.

Herald of the Storm by Richard Ford, Headline, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-755-39404-3.
At 668 pages this is a hefty start to a new sword & sorcery epic.

The Third Kingdom by Terry Goodkind, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-007-303071-7.
Terry is no stranger to mainstream fantasy fans. This is the sequel to The Omen Machine.

Dark Possession: The Hallow Dor by Carol Godman, Ebury, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-091-95313-3.
Book 3 in the Farwick Chronicles.

The New Girl by S. L. Grey, Corvus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-89592-9.
Set in a private school for girls of wealthy parents, this is the final in the South African Downside sequence.

The Scarlett Tides: The Moontide Quartet – Book II by David Hair, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87199-8.
The Moontide has come, and a scarlet tide of Rondian legions is slaughtering and pillaging in the name of Emperor Constant…

Mage's Blood by David Hair, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87197-4.
In the vein of G. R. R. Martin.

After Dead by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-473-20049-4.
This is a sort of wrap-up for Sookie Stackhouse that ties up the loose ends. It is a sort of almanac with alphabetical character listings informing what will happen in the future. Also included is extensive interior art by Lisa Desimini as well as a Sookieverse Alphabet. See previous stand-alone reviews of Dead and Gone and Dead Until Dark.  This coda to the series will be welcomed by the series' readers as some were disappointed with the way Dead Ever After failed to answer questions (though the author has made it plain she knew where the story arc should end, but some readers simply have to have everything wrapped up in a nice little bow).  See Charlaine's news in the People subsection near the top of this page.

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-12296-3.
The British trade paperback release of the 13th and final Sookie Stackhouse. Who will love whom? Who will live? And who will die? And who will be dead ever after?

Cemetery Girl: Book 1 by Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden with artwork by Don Kramer, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87520-0.
Charlaine (True Blood) Harris is of course very well known, but Christopher Golden also has form having done Buffy The Vampire Slayer graphic novels.  This new graphic novel series introduces us to Calexa Rose Dunhill who was just 12 years old when she awoke in a cemetery: bruised, bloody and left for dead with no memory of her previous life… +++ Expect more graphic novels from Charlaine's stories as we reported last time.

Harper Connelly Omnibus by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-575-09219-8.
The complete Harper Connelly stories (so far). Harper, having been hit by lightening, can locate the dead. Now is the chance for you to catch up.

Gallow: Cold Redemption by Nathan Hawke, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-575-11510-1.
The first book in a trilogy.

Dark Lady by Maria Dahrana Headley, Bantam press, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06705-5.
It is Elizabethan London in 1588 and the immortal, blood drinking Cleopatra has made a new home. But in Elizabeth's court there are fears of a Spanish invasion and Armada. This is the sequel to the Queen of Kings.

Horns by Joe Hill, Gollancz, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0575-12069-3.
Ignatius is a respected part of the community with his whole life in front of him. Until, that is, the brutal rape and murder of his girlfriend, and only love, Merrin Williams, and him becoming the number one suspect. Although acquitted of these crimes he still remains under suspicion… However, when he wakes up in the morning a hangover is the least of his problems as he discovers that horns are growing out of his head. Even worse he suddenly has the gift to see the deep dark secrets and desires of all the people he meets with some very disturbing and humorous results. Nadia likes this: click on the title link for the review. Others must too as the hardback first came out in 2010 and Gollancz have now decided to have this new mass market paperback edition plus, of course, there is a film due out starring Daniel Radcliffe.

Dolly by Susan Hill, Profile, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-846-68575-0.
His is a ghostly horror, and word has it (for whatever word's worth is) that it is quite good.

Harvest by William Horwood, Pan, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-330-46170-2.
Part of the Hyddenworld sequence.

The Silvered by Tanya Huff, Titan, pbk, £7.99, 978-1-781-16958-2.
Werewolf and military fantasy.

Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human, Century, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-780-89131-6.
When protagonist Baxter's girl is kidnapped he discovers he has a really nasty side as he searches Cape Town's supernatural underworld. This is billed as 'Neil Gaiman meeting Tarantino'. (Which gives us pause for thought as if the two ever did meet in a duel we are truly not sure for whom we should feel sorry.)

Chosen by Benedict Jacka, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50230-4.
Fourth book in a new urban fantasy series set in Camden, featuring Alex Verus. Life is quiet for Alex. With a flat full of friends (and the occasional fish), and business booming, why not enjoy the humdrum here and now? But of course that’s too good to be true. In a sudden and cruel pincer movement of fate, Alex finds himself fighting a sinister and powerful gang as well as his own demons – for the same crime. Held hostage by the choices of his past, Alex’s future is now in jeopardy...

River Road by Suzanne Johnson, Headline, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-755-539768-6.
An urban fantasy in the loose vein of Charlaine Harris.

The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones, Head of Zeus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-55464-8.
A fantasy inspired by tales on One Thousand and One Nights.

Faerie Tales: Stories of the Grimm and Gruesome edited by Stephen Jones, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-782-06470-1.
This is an anthology of shorts by various writers brought together by the master horror editor Stephen Jones to re-interpret classic tales. This volume is surely a must for fantasy horror readers.

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49871-3.
This is the first release of the mass market paperback edition (the hardback came out back in the spring (2013)) of the much awaited conclusion to the 'Wheel of Time' sequence. Robert Jordon sadly died at the end of 2007 with this novel far from complete. Brandon Sanderson took on the task of reading the entire sequence, going through the beginnings of the MS and the notes that Jordan left so that this final novel of the sequence could see light of day.  The hardback sold reasonably well (considering hardbacks have low sales) and – of course – Robert Jordan has an established reputation, so this first British Isles printing of the mass market paperback edition could well be popular. Click on the title link for Duncan's review.

Kill City Blues by Richard Kadrey, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-007-48386-0.
This is the fifth in the 'Sandman Slim' run. James is back in L.A. after escaping hell, but a pack of angry gods are after him... Now, if the pre-publicity details are correct then note the price and that it is a hardback that suggests that Voyager are confident of considerable sales.

Children of Fire by Drew Karpyshyn, Del Rey, hrdbk, £18,99, 978-0-091-95283-9.
Epic fantasy about an immortal wizard warrior king. This is the start of a new series.

Styxx by Sherrilyn Keynon, Piatkis, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-349-40064-8.
This is the 23rd in the 'Dark Hunter' paranormal romance sequence.

The Dark-Hunters: Infinity – Volume 2 by Sherrilyn Keynon, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50263-2.
Graphic novel adaptation of Chronicles of Nick, the prequel to Sherrilyn Kenyon’s immensely popular Dark-Hunter novels. A young, streetwise Nick Gautier meets Dark-Hunter Kyrian of Thrace, who shows Nick a world of vampires, demons and zombies far more dangerous than the mean streets of New Orleans. A must-read for existing fans and those new to the supernatural world of the Dark-Hunters!

Carrie by Stephen King, Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-444-77810-6.
Stephen King's 1976 classic science fantasy. OK, so this is probably being re-released because of the totally unnecessary re-make of the 1976 Brian de Palma film. If you have not come across it before, Carrie is the teenage daughter of an ultra-religious, loopy and repressive, single mother. She does not fit in at school but, hitting puberty, starts to get an interest in boys. With puberty comes other changes including the ability to move objects… Actually the re-make of the film is not totally unnecessary if it gets folk to check out the King story and, indeed, seek out the original film.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton, hrdbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-1-444-76116-0.
Remember the book and film The Shining? Well what happened to little Danny Torrance? Decades later, the kid is now middle-aged and trying to leave behind his alcoholic, despondent father's legacy… The advance indication is that this can be read as a stand-alone novel.

Last to Rise by Francis Knight, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50168-0.
This third in a trilogy is from a British debut fantasy author.  The towering vertical city of Mahala is on the brink of war with its neighbouring countries. It might be his worst nightmare, but Rojan and the few remaining pain mages have been drafted in to help. The city needs power in whatever form they can get it – and fast. With alchemists readying a prototype electricity generator, and factories producing guns faster than ever, the city’s best advantage is still the mages. Leading the alchemists is Rojan’s sister, with a risky plan to help tap the mages’ strength and overcome the armies marching towards them. With food in the city running out, and a battle brimming that no one is ready for, risky is the best they’ve got...

Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz, Harper, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-32706-5.
This is the 6th 'Odd Thomas' horror thriller.

Innocence by Dean Koontz, Harper, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-51801-3.
Addison looks like a walking nightmare. By night he makes his way to the library where with Gwyneth they come to face a terrifying evil.

Swords of Good Men: The Valhalla Saga – Book I by Snorri Kristjansson, Jo Fletcher's Books, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-782-06331-5.
Ancient traditions are about to meet the new order as the armies of the White Christ sweep all before them: blood will wash the land…

Long Live the Queen by Kate Locke, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50145-1.
The final novel in this frightfully fun urban fantasy series full of goblins, corsets and undead aristocrats – set in an alternate world where the Victorian age never ended.

Moon's Artifice by Tom Lloyd, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13117-0.
New fantasy series the promo blurb suggests might appeal to fans of George R. R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie.

The Returned by John Mott, Mira, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-848-45214-5.
All over the world people's dead loved ones are coming back to life. No-one knows why and soon tensions mount…

Emperor of Thornes by Mark Lawrence, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-007-43906-5.
This is the concluding part of 'The Broken Empire' trilogy.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, Gollancz, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07701-0.
The roguish capers of Locke Lamora, 'Gentleman bastard', continue. Part of the sequence that began with The Lies of Locke Lamora.

Fortune's Blight: Shattered Kingdoms – Book II by Evie Manieri, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-857-38946-6.
The rebellion is over; the Shadari are free – but their trials are only just beginning.

Rags and Bones edited by Melissa Marr & Tim Pratt, Headline, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-472-21052-4.
Anthology of shorts by a range of authors including Neil Gaiman and Garth Nix.

Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister by George R. R. Martin, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-007-53232-2.
Rediscover the with and wisdom of Tyron Lannister: sage, lover and reluctant warrior, plus everyone's favourite dwarf.  Especially following the Game of Thrones TV series, George R. R. Martin was a huge seller in 2012 and his British Isles sales in 2011 ensured that SF/F was the only fiction genre that that year grew.

A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-447-24239-0.
Fantasy horror from a 20th century genre grandmaster, this novel was originally written back in 1958 but more recently has been made into a film.  A person undergoes hypnotism as part of a bet, but this releases an ability and a darker force.  Sadly Richard recently died.

Arcanum by Simon Morden, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50183-3.
Carinthia: a kingdom of great influence, power – and formidable magic. Long has the kingdom of Carinthia relied upon the spells of its Hexmasters to maintain its position of control. The great Prince Gerhard has ruled benignly over a kingdom that’s never had to change for a thousand years. But now there are signs that their magic is failing, and the kingdom lies vulnerable to attack from all sides. Some Carinthians would do anything to see the magic return: any act, no matter how terrible, is justified, so long as the Hexmasters can still cast spells to protect their homeland.

Drakenfeld by Mark Charan Newton, Macmillan, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-76682-2.
First in a new fantasy crime series inspired by ancient Rome.

Breed by Chase Novak, Mulholland Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-444-73701-1.
Horror. An all-American family pays a high price for their children.

Doomed by Chuck Palahnuick, Jonathan Cape, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-224-0917-6.
Sequel to Damned sees Madison trapped in purgatory but able to see and hear everything on Earth even though he is invisible…

Elves War-Fighting Manuel by Den Patrick, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13277-1.
Presented as if a non-fiction book, it accounts major conflicts and is illustrated and has strategic maps.

She Who Waits by Daniel Polansky, Hodder, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-444-72139-3.
Dark fantasy, Lowtown is a dump – the worst ghetto in the worst town in 13 lands – and Warden is trying to leave but finds it difficult.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Gollancz, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-473-20049-4. A re-issue and one of Gollancz's good buys being a hardback at just £9.99.

Dodger by Terry Pratchett, Random House, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-552-36314-7.
Dark Dickensian take on London. See the title link for Ian's review.

The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-007-49813-0.
Part of the Farseer sequence… Robin is to be the non-European fantasy author GoH at next year's Worldcon in London.

Beauty by Sara Pinborough, Gollancz, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09305-8.
A re-telling of with 10 lovely Les Edwards illustrations.

The Glass Republic: The Skyscraper Throne – Book II by Tom Pollock, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87011-3.
Pen's life is all about secrets of the city's spirits and monsters living just beyond the notice of modern Londoners…

Hide me Among the Graves by Tim Powers, Corvus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-848-87409-1.
Set in Victorian London, this is a ghost cum vampire novel.

The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice, Chatto & Windos, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-701-18825-2.
This is the second in the Wolf Gift Chronicles. Reuben struggles to adapt to life as a wolf.

I, Soddit: The Autobiography by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, hrdbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09642-4.
This is a spoof take spin-off of The Hobbit and timed to come out before the second Hobbit film. Now the fact that this is a hardback but only priced at £8.99 should tell you something. Indeed apparently the first such spin-off, The Soddit, sold over 150,000 copies.

The Path of Anger by Antoine Rouaud by Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13081-4.
Debut author fantasy thriller in The Game of Thrones vein.

'Legion' and 'the Emperor's Soul' by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, trdpbk,£9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-11620-7.
This has two very different novellas in the same book.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-10399-3.

A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwartz, Del Rey, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-091-95069-9.
Fantasy steampunk. Liesel was part of Del Rey's inaugural launch.

Tales of Majipoor by Robert Silverberg, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-11307-4 7 short stories set in Majipoor from the grandmaster of SF who the past couple of decades has turned more towards fantasy.

The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring, Quercus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-780-087975-8.
This is a fictionalisation of the investigation of Borely Rectory, the 'most haunted house in Britain'. The novel is purportedly (ahem) inspired by the notes left behind by the assistant to the ghost buster Harry Price…

Number Cruncher by Simon Spurrier, & P. J. Holden, Titan, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-782-76004-7.
Graphic novel and science fantasy. God runs the Universe by the numbers (literally). Zane is an enforcer with the Ministry of the Afterlife. Back when he was alive, Zane was a nineteenth century thug but a deal with the supreme being (God) led him to find employment with the Ministry.  Now, a deceased mathematician, Richard Thyme, has signed a contract to be reincarnated so as to be reunited with his true love. And Richard knows his numbers. Can Zane use his centuries of experience with the Ministry to get the upper hand?  This black and white graphic novel has great humour. The story was first serialised in the Judge Dredd Megazine in 2011 and now for the first time is appearing as a stand-alone graphic novel via Titan (which is a little odd as you'd have thought 2000AD would be releasing it and also odd is Jordie Bellaire (whoever he is) getting a credit in the pre-launch publicity). Anyway, this is certainly recommended for science fantasy enthusiasts and is an excellent sampler of the stand-alone SF/F non-Dredd stories that appear in the Megazine.

Angel City by Jon Steele, Transworld, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06866-3.
Jay Harper, one of the last ‘angels’ on Planet Earth, is still hunting down the half-breeds and goons who infected Paradise with evil. Intercepting a plot to turn half of Paris into a dead zone, Harper ends up on the wrong side of the law and finds himself a wanted man. That doesn’t stop his commander, Inspector Gobet of the Swiss Police, from sending him back to Paris on a recon mission... a mission that uncovers one more truth buried in the Book of Enoch…

Catereiro by E. J. Swift, Del Rey, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-091-95307-2.
Book 2 of 'The Osiris Project' about the lost city. The first title was part of Del Rey's launch tranche of books.

Lips Touch by Laini Taylor and Jim Di Bartolo, Hodder, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-444-73150-7.
Fantasy anthology of shorts.

The War Master's Gate by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Macmillan, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-230-75701-1.
9th in the Shadows of the Apt sequence.

Hunter of Sherwood: Knight of Shadows by Toby Venables, Abaddon, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08161-7.

Possession by J. R. Ward, Piatkus, trdpbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-0-749-95720-9.
A fallen angel and seven souls in a struggle to end the conflict between good and evil… Advance publicity bills this as paranormal romance.The Tower Broken: Tower and Knife Trilogy – Book III by Mazarkis Williams, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87149-3.
The walls of Cerana are crumbling. Sarmin, Mesema and High Mage Covnan are about to make a last stand…

Happy Hour in Hell by Tad Williams, Hodder & Stoughton, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-444-73860-5.
This sequel to The Dirty Streets of Heaven sees Bobby covertly returning to Hell to rescue a girl.

The Ace of Skulls by Chris Wooding, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09881-4.
Seafaring steampunk.

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.]

Autumn 2013

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

Dr Who edited by Paul Both, Intellect Cooks, trdpbk, £14.95. ISBN 978-2-783-20020-7.
A guide to Dr Who fandom.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya Von Bremzen, Doubleday, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-857-52023-4.
Probably a book to read before going to the Eurocon in St Petersburg. Memoires from communist era Russia and its food shortages, through to the present day. It takes us from Kulebiaka pie to Putin on the Ritz.

Fan Phenomenon: Batman edited by Liam Burke, Intellect Books, trdpbk, £14.95. ISBN 978-1-783-20017-7.
A guide all to do with Batman memorabilia and fandom.

Climate Change: Biological and Human Aspects by Jonathan Cowie, Cambridge University Press, trdpbk, £34.99 / Australia$80.95 / US$69.99. ISBN 978-1-107-60356-1.
OK, so we have mentioned Jonathan's offering before (it came out earlier this year) but the glowing review in September's Geoscientist demands to be shared: "Read this book and gain a new perspective on climate change. This is above all an interdisciplinary topic, and hard to grasp in all its essentials by those of us brought up in the old-fashioned 'single discipline' mode of instruction. Few people have put together in such a compelling and reader-friendly way the full extent of information about climate change and its effects ranging all the way from changes with geological time to real potential impacts on human health and welfare and on animal and plant life… …This is an educational tome, suitable for the scientifically literate layman, high school and undergraduate students as well as policymakers… …This is an invaluable, readable and well-referenced guide to where we are now, how we got here, what is happening now, what may happen next, and what we can do about it."

An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist by Richard Dawkins, Bantam press, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-593-07089-5.
Autobiographical by the famous anti-religious British biologist and neo-Darwinist.

Dr Who: The Eleventh Hour – A Critical Celebration of the Matt Smith and Steven Moffat Era by Andrew Day, I. B. Taurus, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-780-76019-3.

50 Philosophy of Science Ideas that you Really Need to Know by Ben Dupre, Quercus, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978010780-87909-3.
Ever wondered whether reality is real, or perhaps we are disembodied brains in a vat? If so you are no alone and are in exalted company as Ben Dupres takes on an intellectual ride from Plato to Popper.

British Gothic Cinema by Barry Forshaw, Palgrave Macmillan, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-373-0071-7.
A must for fantastic film fans, this is an almost definitive guide to the genre from the 1940s to the present day.

Dr Who: The Doctor – His Lives and Times edited by James Goss and Steve Tribe, BBC Books, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-849-990636-4.
A profile of the character written by actors, screen writers, the show's producers etc.

100 Science Fiction Films by Barry Keith Grant, BFI/Palgrave, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-844-57457-5.
Does what it says on the can. (There is arguably a desperate need for a title such as '100 largely overlooked Science Fiction Films', but there you go.

The Undercover Economist Strikes Back by Tim Harford, Little Brown, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-408-70424-0.
Harford is an economist who has a broadsheet newspaper column as well as broadcasting on BBC Radio 4. He is really hot on the actual figures behind political and economic debate and so frequently exposes the shallowness of politicians' debates. This book answers a host of questions such as what would happen is we cancelled everyone's debt, and what is the prognosis for the currently up-and-coming BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations? Recommended.

Dr Who: The Vault by Marcus Hearn, BBC Books, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-849-90581-7.
This covers five decades of the series and coincides with the show's 50th anniversary.

The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine's Deepest Mystery by George Johnson, Bodley Head, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-847-92166-6.
Ranging from a cancer tumour found on a 150 million year old dinosaur fossil to the latest thinking today, this is a wide-ranging overview of the science behind the diseases. Given the rash of cancer afflictions currently affecting authors, which itself is due to the growing cohort (as a proportion of the population) of those in their late 50s and 60s (the high-risk years), this will be of interest to many.

The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy by Paul Kane, McFarland, trdpbk, £22.50. ISBN 978-0-786-47717-3.

Mathematics in 100 Key Breakthroughs by Richard Lewes, Quercus, pbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87322-0.
This is a series of essays explaining the fundamentals of the most exciting maths and concepts that takes us from the origins of counting right up to the latest breakthroughs and Fermat. It all adds up to a grand story of invention and leaps of the imagination…

The Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis, William Collins, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-53280-3.
Nine sermons by the Christian and fantasy author. These were originally given around the time of World War II and this is the first time that this collection has been published in the British Isles. It comes out come out close to the 50th anniversary of his death around 22nd November.

Star Wars: Frames by George Lucas, Abrams, boxed, £100. ISBN 978-1-419-70470-3.
This originally came out four years ago as a special limited edition costing £4,000. This 'edition' does not have such a fancy box, has no extras. It centres around 100 prints of frames from the film.

C. S. Lewis and One More by Alistair McGrath, Hodder, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-444-74554-2.
A new and at time revelationary biography timed to come out close to the 50th anniversary of his death around 22nd November.

A Year With C. S. Lewis from William Collins, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-007-53282-7.
360 short readings, one for each day of the year.

We Will Destroy Your Planet: An Aliens Guide to Conquering Planet Earth by David McIntee, Osprey, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-782-00602-2.
So how could you help invading aliens destroy the Earth? A satirical guide. Sort of a fiction and non-fiction book.

Patrick Moore's Yearbook of Astronomy 2014 by Patrick Moore et al, Macmillan, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-447-24396-0.
This is a special memorial edition and it the 52nd consecutive edition in the series. Patrick sadly died shortly after outlining his plans for this edition.

Anime by Colin Odell, Michelle Le Blanc, Kamera, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-842-43586-1.
Covers all things animé from its cultural standing in Japan to its portrayal of eroticism and gender dimensions.

Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine by Steve Parker, Dorling Kindersley, hrdbk, £19.99, ISBN 978-1-409-33272-5.
From pre-history to today via Roman surgery and medieval blood letting.

The Periodic Table: An Indispensible Pocket-Sized Guide to the Elements by Paul Parsons, Quercus, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87327-5.
A basic guide to the periodic table from the author of The Science of Dr Who.

The Hobbit: Professor J. R. R. Tolkien's Magic Mirror Maps of Wales by Stephen Ponty, Matador, hrdbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-1-730-88542-1.
Apparently the maps of Middle Earth are based on maps of Wales reversed or flipped back to front.

A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-fiction by Terry Pratchett, Transworld, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-857-52122-4.
A collection of essays and other non fiction from Terry, spanning the whole of his writing career from his early years to the present day.

The Batman Filmography by Mark S. Reinhart, McFarland, trdpbk, £39.95. ISBN 978-0-786-46891-1.
A thorough reference work to the icon's big screen outings.

The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film by J. W. Rinzler, Arum press, hrdbk, £40. ISBN 978-1-781-31190-5.
Part of an in-depth series on each of the Star Wars films. This one has a forward by Peter Jackson.

The Making of the Return of the Jedi: The Definitive Story behind the Film Arum Press, hrdbk, £40. ISBN 978-1-781-31076-2.
As per above.

Timeless Adventures: How Dr Who Conquered Television by Brian J. Robb, Kamera Books, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-843-44156-4.
This is an expanded edition of a previous release to bring it up-to-date.

Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks, Picador, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-447-20826-6.
The mind-altering experiences of patients.

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets by Simon Singh, Bloomsbury, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-408-83530-2.The Simpson's TV show.

Breakpoint: Why The Web Will Implode by Jeff Stibel, Palgrave, hrbk. 978-1-137-27878-4.
This neuroscientist's view is that the brain tells us that networks cannot expand indefinitely and so will grow to they reach a breaking point. This has implications for the internet. (Corroboration from a mathematician would be nice.)

Science Fiction (Guides for the Perplexed) by Sherryl Vint, Continuum Publishing Corporation, pbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-441-19460-2.
The author is a Professor of Science Fiction Media Studies at the University of California, Riverside, USA. She is editor of the journals Science Fiction Studies and Science Fiction Film and Television and Vice-President of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. This introductory guide is best suited for undergraduate arts (humanities) students. If you are an older SF afficionado there is unlikely anything new for you here. If you are a younger (under 30) SF enthusiast then this might give you an idea of the genre's range (but we'd recommend you seeking out Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopaedia by John Clute (not to be confused with the Clute & Nicholls encyclopaedia which is truly encyclopaedic and not a time-line synopsis as is the Illustrated Encyclopaedia. And of course new readers of the genre might seek out the European SF Society cited Essential Science Fiction that checklists all the fan-voted award-winning works and works continually in print for over 50 years up to 2005.  Vint's Science Fiction (Guides for the Perplexed) does have its place.

Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life, Little Brown, hrdbk, £20, ISBN 978-1-408-70524-7.
Importantly it covers synthetic life, creating a bacterium from raw chemicals in the lab.

Shock Value by Jason Zinoman, Gerald Duckworth, trdpbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-715-64585-7.
Reveals how just a few people gave us nightmares, went to Hollywood and invented cinema's horror genre.

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.]

Autumn 2013

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Resistance by Samit Basu, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16249-1.
This is the first graphic novel to spin-off the Sony Play Station 3 video game.

Dr Who: The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90183-3.
With Baxter being a leading SF writer, this is related to the Dr Who 50th anniversary.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50188-8.
Well, few of us back in 1985 when this Hugo-winning novel first came out would have thought that a reprint of this would appear in our 'Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins' subsection. Even if you do not plan seeing the film, do check this novel out. The Earth is losing the battle against the alien buggers and so uses all that it can to devise some winning strategy. Included in such attempts are the brightest of children who are in a military camp learning tactics, problem solving and so forth. Ender is one such potential military child genius. Click on the book's title link for a review.

Catching Fire Movie Tie-in by Suzanne Collins, Scholastic, pbk, £7.99, ISBN 978-1-407-13833-6.
The above is the pre-launch publicity title (it may change) and is a Hunger Games juvenile SF spin-off from the film.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of the Smaug – Chronicles: Art and Design by Daniel Falconer and WETA, Harper Collins, hrdbk, £25. ISBN 978-0-007-48727-1.
Over 1,000 images of concept artwork and design as well as development paintings from those who brought you the film.

Star Trek: Into Darkness by Alan Dean Foster, Simon & Schuster, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-419-70470-3.
This is the novelization of the film.

Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years by David A. Goodman, Titan, hrdbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16915-5.
This illustrated report purports to chart 150 years of Federation history. Included in the mix are such things as Kirk's official biography and 'newly translated' Klingon reports.

Carrie by Stephen King, Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-444-77810-6.
This is the 1976 story by Stephen King (which made him famous) and turned into a classic film that year by Brian de Palma. A young girl develops telekinetic powers along with teenage angst and against the backdrop of her overly religious mother's control that makes her a virtual school outcast. The film starred Sissy Spacek. This re-release is timed to come out with the re-make film starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore.

Star Wars: Frames by George Lucas, Abrams, hrdbk, £100 This was originally published four years ago as a limited edition ultra-high priced box set. There are over a thousand frames in this high quality, large format book, from the Star Wars films. A must for this franchise's most avid, die-hard fans.

The Making of The Return of the Jedi by J. W. Rinzler, Aurum, hrdbk, £40. ISBN 978-1-781-31076-2.
Timed to mark the film's 30th anniversary in 2013.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Official Movie (sic) Guide by Brian Sibley, Harper Collins, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-007-46446-3.
A lavishly illustrated guide to the film.

Thunderbirds 100 F.A.B Postcards, Egmont Publishing, 100 postcard box set, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-405-26893-6.
A hundred stills from the series. Those with long memories may remember a short run of Thunderbird postcards back in the 1960s. This looks as if this idea has now been greatly extended.

Thunderbirds Comic Collection, Egmont Publishing, trdpbk, £25. ISBN 978-1-405-26836-3.
Recently the TV21> strips have begun to be reprinted in graphic anthologies by Reynolds & Hearn and then its successor Signum. However there is a body of Thunderbirds-related trips from allied comics to TV21 and annuals to specials. Egmont pre-publicity does not inform the exact source of the strips. There have been other strip collections such as those licensed by Carlton and ITC in the late 1990s and early 2000s and it is possible that some of this other material may be included. Having said all that reprints seems to be coming further apart and with Gerry Anderson's demise there is not the driving force behind Anderson enterprises. The take home message has to be that if you are an Anderson fan or want to pass on Thunderbird fun to the youngsters in your life, then seek this collection (and the subsequent ones to come) out.+++ Also see the report earlier in our news section.

Imperial Death Star Manual: DS-1 Orbital Battle Station – Owners Workshop Manual by Ryder Windham, Chris Reiff and Chris Trevas, Haynes, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-857-33372-8.
Star Wars spin-off with diagrams and specifications.


[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.]

Autumn 2013


The Big Bang Theory - Season 6 £17.97 DVD and UV version from Warner Home Video.
The latest in the comedy about scientists into SF series.

Byzantium £10 from Studiocanal.
Two beautiful mysterious women seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort. Clara meets lonely Noel, who provides shelter in his deserted guesthouse, Byzantium. Eleanor befriends Frank and tells him their lethal secret. They were born 200 years ago and survive on human blood. As knowledge of their secret spreads, their past catches up on them with deathly consequence.

Doctor Who - The Tenth Planet £13.50 from 2entertain.
Adventures with Patrick Troughton as well as William Hartnell starring as the Doctor. One of the adventures is a cyberman one.

Exodus £9 from 50/50 Films.
12 astronauts volunteer to pioneer a colony on a newly discovered planet. They awake from their frozen 15 year sleep to discover that the ship has crashed and that they're trapped in their cryo-tubes. To make matters worse, an alien beast breaks in and begins devouring them, one by one. Note, this is an old 2003 film previously called War of the Planets. It is not good but is great if you like rubbish sci-fi (which sometimes some like us occasionally do).

Iron Man £12 from Walt Disney Studios.

Hawking £13.75 from Spirit Entertainment Limited.
Great biopic drama of the physicist's early life from student through to post-doc.

Lifeforce Blu-Ray edition £19.99 from Arrow Video.
Based on the Colin Wilson novel Space Vampires it starts out as a science fiction mission to Halley's comet, turns into an alien-invasion thriller featuring a beautiful naked woman (Mathilda May) who's a vampire from space and escalates into an end-of-the-world disaster film. Co-written by Dan O Bannon (Alien, Return of the Living Dead, Dark Star) and directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Poltergeist). Cast includes Peter Firth, Frank Finlay and Patrick Stewart.

Nosferatu Ltd. Edition Steelbook Dual Format [Blu-ray & DVD], £19.55 from Eureka Entertainment.
The classic silen. In this first - ever screen adaptation of Bram Stoker s Dracula, a simple real - estate transaction leads an intrepid businessman deep into the superstitious heart of Transylvania.

Outpost 11 £8 from 101 Films.
Set in an alternative past where steam power still rules the world, Outpost 11 is the story of three soldiers manning a remote listening post in the Arctic Circle. One day the warning light goes off unexpectedly and their world is plunged in to chaos… Think Quatermass meets The Thing.

Revolution - Season 1 Blu-Ray version, ££22.55 from Warner Home Video.
Something has soaked up all the electricity in the world and humanity reverts to a pre-industrial state. All 20 episodes from the first season of the sci-fi drama executively produced by J.J. Abrams. Set in a post-apocalyptic world 15 years after all forms of electricity have mysteriously been shut down, the show follows Miles Matheson (Billy Burke), his niece Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and other rebels as they fight back against the powerful Monroe Militia. Sebastian Monroe (David Lyons), the militia general and former friend of Miles, is in the possession of special pendant devices that can enable electricity hence weapons and machinery, and which he plans to use to take over the United States.

Star Trek Into Darkness £10 from Paramount Home Entertainment.
The latest ST film and 2nd in the re-boot franchise.

Vanishing Waves £11 from Autonomy Pictures.
When a young researcher volunteers for a sensory deprivation experiment he is tasked with communicating with a comatose woman. Soon, through these unorthodox means, the subject and the scientist begin to develop an unlikely emotional and sexual bond. As things develop further, the waters begin to muddy and their unique relationship is threatened by external and more earthbound forces.

The Walking Dead - Season 3 £28 from Entertainment One.
The television spin-off from the zombie classic graphic novels.

The World's End Blu-Ray version, £16.50 from Universal Pictures UK.
For Gary King (Simon Pegg) and Andy Knightley (Nick Frost) it was supposed to be the ultimate reunion - one night, five friends, twelve bars. A boozy quest to 'The World's End' pub on which only the strongest will survive. Having the time of their lives, they are ready to take on the world ... but tonight they might just have to save it. From Edgar Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, comes a wildly entertaining thrill ride of outrageous humour and explosive action that will raise a glass to the SFnal apocalypse.

World War Z £13 from Paramount Home Entertainment.
The recent, high action, mega special effects, zombie global pandemic outbreak.

See also our film download tips.

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

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


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

Autumn 2013


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

Dan Adkins, the US comics artist, has died aged 76. His credits include Dr. Strange. He also served as an art director at Marvel.

Patricia Anthony, the US writer, has died aged 66. Her debut novel |Cold Allies (1993) won a Locus Award. Other novels include Brother Termite (1993), Conscience of the Beagle (1993) and the Clarke SF Award finalist Happy Policeman (1994).

Michael Baigent, the author, has died. He was the co-author, with Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, of the alternate history The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. He and Leigh unwisely sued Dan Brown for elements of their in The Da Vinci Code but lost and required to pay £1.3 million costs.

Iain Banks, the SF author, has died aged 59 in the early hours of Sunday 9th June. His death was calm and without pain. He had been suffering from late-diagnosed cancer and was making the most of his last months. He was a witty, dare we say 'bubbly', person that contrasted with some of the dark elements within his novels. Having said that, his dry wit also shone through his work. In addition to mainstream books (which gave him literary acclaim – and in 2008, The Times cited Iain in their list of 'The 50 greatest British writers since 1945') he also wrote SF. Here he is most noted in genre circles for his 'Culture' series of wide-screen, space opera books: of his 14 SF titles (including Transition), 9 were 'Culture' novels. The 'Culture' are an ultra-advanced, near-utopic, humanoid civilisation: hippies in space as Iain himself characterised it. However the movers and shapers of the Culture largely are artificial intelligences who regularly interact with the Culture's biological sentients. There are a few other civilizations in Banks' universe of the Culture's ability and status (including one with whom they had had a war), but most others are more primitive and at the very least the Culture has to acknowledge these neighbours and sometimes (albeit rarely) engage in their affairs. Banks' Culture novels explore all these aspects.  His novels The Player of Games (1988), Use of Weapons (1990) and Inversions (1998) were all nominated for the British SF Association Award with the latter winning the Premio Italia Science Fiction Award for 'Best International (non-Italian) Novel'. Use of Weapons also won the Arthur C. Clarke SF Book Award, Feersum Endjinn (1994) won a BSFA Award, and The Algebraist (2004) won a Hugo for 'Best Novel'. The Hydrogen Sonata (2012) was in the Spring of 2013 cited by Concatenation as one of the best SF novelspublished in the British Isles in 2012. Also in 2013 Iain, along with Terry Pratchett) was given the title 'European Grandmaster' by the European SF Society at its annual Eurocon.  Away from fiction, Iain loved malt whiskey and cars, so it was only apt that his one non-fiction title explored these interests.  With Iain's demise there is very much a sense within the British SF community that not only that we have lost a major genre talent, but we have lost one way far too soon who and would undoubtedly have had much excellent writing ahead of him as well as the sharing of the appreciation of the genre with the SF community. Iain was to have been the SF novelist Guest of Honour at the 2014 Worldcon. Many at that event will be remembering him.

Bob Booth, the US fan, has died aged 56. He was one of the founders of World Fantasy Con and was on its board of directors until 1990.

Thomas George Cockcroft, the New Zealand fan and bibliographer, has died aged 86.

Ann 'A.C.' Crispin, the US writer, has died from cancer aged 63. She wrote over a score of books, mainly sci-fi film franchise spin-offs and novelizations. However she did write two Witch World novels with her long-time friend, the late Andre Norton as well as her own StarBridge series. Importantly, she was a former Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and founder and chair of that organization’s 'Committee on Writing Scams'. She went on to found the very worthy scam watchdog site 'Writer Beware' with fellow author Victoria Strauss.

David Dickson, the British science writer, has died aged 66. In his time he worked for New Scientist as well as the top two multidisciplinary journals, Science and Nature (twice), and only retired last year.

Dennis Dolbear, the US fan, has died from pneumonia and septicemia. He was a co-editor of NOSFAn and also did much conrunning.

Christian de Duve, the British of Belgian-German descent biologist, has died aged 95. He spent much of his career in the US where, with fellow European Albert Claude, they discovered a lace-like structure around cell's nuclei. This was the endoplasmic reticulum and they elucidated that was a site for chemical synthesis. Their work garnered them a Nobel in 1974 for Physiology or Medicine.

Doug Engelbart, the electrical engineer, has died aged 88. His interest in how computers could be used to aid human cognition eventually led him to Stanford Research Institute and then his own laboratory, the Augmentation Research Center. Here he helped develop ARPANet, the government research network that was a North American precursor to the internet (as JANET was in Britain). But he was most infamous for inventing the computer mouse and he was the first to demonstrate it publicly back in 1968. At the same event, he held the world's first video teleconference and explained his theory of text-based links, which would form the architecture of the internet. He did not make much money from the mouse because its patent ran out in 1987, before the device became widely used and by today at least one billion computer mousse (Editor: tempted to say 'mice') have been bought. He was awarded the US$500,000 Lemelson-MIT prize in 1997 and the National Medal of Technology for 'creating the foundations of personal computing' in 2000.

Patrick Fahey, the US fan, has died aged 56 from cancer. He was a member of the Los Angles SF Society and helped with Loscons.

Joseph Charles Farman, the British geophysicist, has died aged 82. Together with Brian Gardiner and Jon Shanklin, he published the discovery of the ozone hole over Antarctica in 1985. Just two years later, world governments signed the Montreal protocol, a treaty phasing out the use of CFCs, the chemicals used in aerosols and other applications that were reacting with the ozone.

Mick Farren, the British SF author and fantasy horror comic publisher (as well as rock musician), has died aged 69. In the 1970s he was the co-founder of the comic Nasty Tales which attracted a prosecution for obscenity. Of his novels, he is probably best known for his 'Jeb Stuart Ho' quadrilogy that began with The Quest for the DNA Cowboys (1976) that had a certain hippy feel to them with a fair share of narcotics. Subsequent work was reminiscent of cyberpunk but it has to be borne in mind that these being written in the 1980s preceded the flowering of the cyberpunk movement in the late 1990s. In total he wrote 23 novels and 15 non-fiction books. Music fans will remember him not just for his own band but as a music journalist as well as writing lyrics for Hawkwind and Motorhead. He died an active musician on stage at London's Borderline while playing with his re-formed (from the late 1960s) band The Deviants.

Bryan Forbes, the British film director, has died aged 86. His best known genre contribution was the film The Stepford Wives (1975) based on the novel by Ira Levin. Forbes was awarded a CBE in 2004 for services to the arts and to the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain.

Marty Gear, the US fan, has died aged 72. He was active in the Baltimore SF Society, chaired Balticon 21 and was one of the BSFS's officers. He was also active in costume fandom chairing CostumeCon 3.

Ray Harryhausen, the US special effects pioneer, has died age 92. He specialised in stop-motion animation (more accurately called model animation) inspired by, and building on the pioneer model animator Willis (King Kong) O'Brien. Mighty Joe Young (1949) was the first feature film to have Harryhausen's special effects. Among his many films, Harryhausen is especially known for The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) that was similar to Ray Bradbury's short story 'The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms' (re-titled "The Fog Horn") and concerned a dinosaur drawn to a lone lighthouse by its foghorn, It Came from Beneath the Sea (aka Monster from Beneath the Sea (1955), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Mysterious Island (1961), Jason and the Argonauts (1963) which is especially famous for its fight with skeletons, First Men in the Moon (1964) based on the H. G. Wells story, One Million Years B.C. (1966) a British Hammer film featuring Raquel Welch in her second film being chased by dinosaurs, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and its sword fight involving the statue of the six-armed goddess Kali, and the last feature film to showcase his effects work was Clash of the Titans (1981). Ray had a lifelong friendship with Ray Bradbury. Another long-term friend was Forrest J Ackerman. Ray spent much of the latter part of his life (since 1960) living in London. Ray was a Guest of Honour at the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton, England, and the inaugural Festival of Fantastic Films in 1990, Manchester, Britain.

Hugh Huxley FRS CBiol FIBiol, the British Biologist, has died aged 89. He is famous for elucidating how muscle worked. This was the first proper molecular explanation for any of the complex processes that occur in the machinery of living cells. He became the deputy director of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology from 1979 to 1987. He was also a supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Carmine Infantino, the US comics artist and editor, has died aged 87. He is especially noted for working on The Flash.

Francois Jacob, the French clinician turned cell biologist, has died aged 92. Injuries sustained fighting with the allies in WWII prevented him becoming a surgeon. As a biological researcher he is best known for addressing the question as to why do specialist tissues and cells arise in animals and plants when all cells in an animal or plant have the same DNA? He, and Andre Lwoff and Jacques Monod, developed the 'operon model' in which a repressor protein encoded by a regulatory gene binds to DNA upstream of specialist structural genes. This prevents the structural genes from being transcribed to RNA. This work garnered the three researchers a Nobel Prize on Physiology or Medicine.  Francois was also the author of The Logic of Life (1973) that looked at how biological understanding has grown in distinct successive stages, and The Possible and the Actual which highlighted the features that make scientific knowledge distinctive.

Virginia Johnson, the US human coitus biologist, has died aged 88. Her discoveries included that female fits the male member so that size should not be the prime determinant of female satisfaction.

Jerome Karle, the US physicist, has died aged 94. He developed x-ray crystallography and mathematical models to elucidate the 3-D structure of molecules. He received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this in 1985.

James Martin, the British physicist turned electrical engineer and accidental futurologist, has died aged 79. Working mainly in IT, he will probably be best remembered for his book The Wired Society (1978), but this was but one of over a hundred science and popular science books! Among his many achievements he predicted, decades before they came to pass, mobile phones, TV on demand, multi player role playing games and on-line banking. We have lost a true visionary.

Douglas R. Mason [a.k.a. John Rankine], the British SF author, has died aged 94. He wrote many novels – at his peak sometimes two or three books a year – from the mid-1960s to the early 1990s. He was noted for the 'Dag Fletcher' space opera series, that started with the collection of linked stories The Blockage of Sinitron: Four Adventures of Dag Fletcher (1966). Under the name of John Rankine he produced the 'Space Corporation' series of novels. He also wrote some Space 1999 television related novels.

Richard Matheson, the US SF grandmaster of Norwegian descent, has died aged 87. He was to have been GoH at this year's World Fantasy Convention. Six of his 29 novels have been adapted for film: The Shrinking Man (1956), Hell House (1971), What Dreams May Come (1978), Bid Time Return (1975) (filmed as Somewhere in Time), A Stir of Echoes (1958) (due to be re-printed) and I Am Legend (1954) (filmed variously as The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, I Am Omega and I Am Legend. His last novel was Generations (2012).  He also wrote scores of short stories, a number of which were adapted for television. These included: 'Third from the Sun' (1950); adapted as a Twilight Zone episode (1960); 'Death Ship' (1953) adapted as a Twilight Zone episode (1963); 'Disappearing Act' (1953) adapted as a Twilight Zone episode (1959); 'Little Girl Lost' (1953) adapted as a Twilight Zone episode (1962); 'Dance of the Dead' (1954) adapted as a Masters of Horror episode (2005); 'The Funeral' (1955) adapted as story segment for Rod Serling's Night Gallery; 'The Splendid Source' (1956) the basis of the Family Guy episode 'The Splendid Source'; 'Steel' (1956) adapted as a Twilight Zone episode (1963); loosely filmed as Real Steel (2011); 'First Anniversary' (1960) adapted as an Outer Limits episode (1996); 'Mute' (1962) adapted as a Twilight Zone episode (1963); 'The Likeness of Julie' (as Logan Swanson) (1962) adapted into 'Julie' in the 1975 TV film Trilogy of Terror; 'Needle in the Heart' (a.k.a. 'Therese') (1969) adapted into 'Millicent and Therese' in the 1975 TV film Trilogy of Terror; 'Prey' (1969) adapted into 'Ameilia' in the 1975 TV film Trilogy of Terror; 'Button, Button' (1970) filmed as a The Twilight Zone episode in 1986; filmed as The Box (2009); 'Big Surprise' (1971) adapted as story segment for Rod Serling's Night Gallery; and 'Nightmare at 20,000 Feet' (as The Twilight Zone episode in 1963 starring William Shatner, and also as segment four of Twilight Zone: The Movie,1983, first published in 1984).  He was also a screenwriter for over two score films. Examples of those that were not adaptations of his own work include: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961); and The Devil Rides Out (1968).  His television work includes: Star Trek: The Original Series: 'The Enemy Within' (1966); The Night Stalker (1972); The Night Strangler (1973) these last two were spun out into a neat television series (that pre-dated The X-Files with a reporter encountering odd phenomena).  Richard Matheson was the recipient of World Fantasy Awards for Bid Time Return as the 'best novel' of 1975 and Richard Matheson: Collected Stories as the 'best collection' of 1989. He died days away from receiving the Visionary Award at the 39th Saturn Awards.  He was truly an SF giant whose work spanned SF's cinematic, televisual and literary forms.

Deborah J. Miller, the British fantasy author, has died following a battle with cancer. She also was the principal mover behind the founding of the Gemmell Awards.

George Mitchell, the US petroleum engineer who invented fracking, has died aged 94. Having built up his wealth with his own oil and gas company to Fortune 500 status, he turned to philanthropy in addition to research into new oil and gas extraction technology. The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation has distributed over US$400 million (£270m) in grants to causes, programmes and institutions. In the 1970s George Mitchell was one of the sponsors the of Dennis Meadows, whose Club of Rome study The Limits to Growth (1972) brought together population and economic growth concerns on a finite planet. This Meadows et al report drew on the Jay Forrester computer World Model which, though simple by today's standards and ridiculed by critics, made early 1970s predictions for the 21st century that – four decades on – have proven to be prescient and – if it continues to do so – predicts a mid-21st century global enviro-economic crisis; a warning similar to Beddington's 2009 'perfect storm' warning.  With regards to extraction technology, George Mitchell is best known for developing fracking: the hydraulic fracturing of shale to release methane gas. Having already made his wealth, he did not patent the technology. In 2004, Forbes magazine estimated his net worth as US$1.6 billion (£1.05 billion) so placing him among the 500 richest people worldwide.

Michael Morwood, the New Zealand born / Australian domicile archaeologist, has died of cancer aged 63. He specialised in pre-history and rock / cave art. In the mid-1990s, evidence of prehistoric contact between Australian aborigines and Indonesia moved Morwood to undertake a number of projects on the island of Flores. There he explored a cave but had to return to Australia leaving the rest of the team to continue excavating a six metre hole and two years later in 2003 they discovered the remains of small humans and in 2005 it was announced that the remains were of a new species: H. floresiensis and half joked that the species should be named after Tolkien's Hobbit.

Robert Morales, the US comics writer best known for his Captain America prequel Truth: Red, White & Black, has died aged 54. He was also a close friend of Samuel R. Delany.

Andrew J. Offutt, the US multi-genre author (including SF) who often signed his name 'andrew j. offutt', has died aged 78. His first SF novel under his own name was The Evil is Spelled Backwards (1970) concerned a 21st century religious dictatorship being overthrown by a sexual revolution.  The Castle Keeps (1972) had a survivalist theme.  His 1973 novel The Galactic Rejects was juvenile SF in which youngsters in a utopic society ward off invasion with their psionic abilities. He then wrote many fantasy novels (as well as other non-speculative fiction works) but also Genetic Bomb (1975). He is also known for editing the Swords Against Darkness fantasy anthology series and for serving two terms as President of the SFWA.

Anne C. Perry, the US fantasy academic and publisher, has died aged 67. Her non-fiction books included: One Ring to Bind Them: Tolkien’s Mythology, Tolkien in the Land of Heroes: Discovering the Human Spirit and Dragons of Fantasy: Scaly Villains & Heroes of Modern Fantasy Literature. She also founded and ran Kitsune Books.

Frederik Pohl, the US science fiction grandmaster, has died aged 93. Frederik Pohl, in addition to writing, had been an editor and a literary agent, as well as holding a number of 'straight' jobs, including advertising copywriter. Born in New York, his first stints as an editor were at the age of nineteen with Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories; and through most of the sixties Pohl was at the helm of Galaxy (working with Horace Gold) and If, which won three Hugos for Best Magazine during Pohl’s tenure as editor. Pohl was a member of the Futurians, an SF society who boasted such luminaries as Isaac Asimov, Damon Knight, and Cyril M. Kornbluth, and he collaborated with these and others, including Jack Williamson. The Space Merchants (1953), with Kornbluth, is typical of Pohl’s habit of writing telling and critical social commentary in the context of an SF satire, in this case on consumerism and advertising. Another telling collaboration with Kornbluth was Wolfbane (1959), a surrealistic tale of invasion by alien robots in which the Earth is kidnapped! Though he released little work during his editorships in the sixties, Pohl began to work exclusively on fiction from the seventies onwards. Pohl shared a Hugo for his 1972 short story (with Kornbluth) The Meeting, a posthumous collaboration, tying with Eurema’s Dam by R.A. Lafferty (1914-2002). The publication of Gateway in 1977 was a landmark SF novel that won him the Hugo, Nebula, Locus and John W. Campbell Memorial awards for Best Novel: though both Man Plus (1976) and JEM: The Making of a Utopia (1979) were contenders in their time with the former winning a Nebula. The seventies also saw Pohl release a book of memoirs, The Way the Future Was (1978), which contains fascinating insights about the Futurians. The eighties were very productive indeed, seeing: three more novels in the Heechee sequence, of which Gateway had been the first; a sequel to The Space Merchants called The Merchants’ War (1984); and fourteen other titles including Black Star Rising (1985), in which aliens demand to speak to the President of a Chinese-conquered America; The Coming of the Quantum Cats (1986), where the barriers between alternate universes fall and chaotic battles are fought across realities; and The Day the Martians Came (1988) collecting stories written over two decades with new material. Pohl won a short story Hugo in 1986 for Fermi and Frost (1985), and a John W. Campbell for The Years of the City (1984). Pohl had continued publishing into the nineties with novels and with a collection of Heechee universe related tales, The Gateway Trip (1990). In recent years Pohl maintained a blog that proved popular and it won him another Hugo award as Best Fan Writer in 2010. Frederik's work was a landmark of 20th century SF.

Nick Pollotta, the US author who was one of those that shared the house pseudonym 'James Axler' (of Gold Eagle Publishing), has died aged 59. His books were mainly comedy SF or comedy fantasy.

Heinrich Rohrer, the Swiss physicist, has died aged 79, just three weeks shy of his 80th. He is best known for devising, with Gerd Binnig, the scanning tunnelling microscope (STM). The STM moves a single atom tip an atom's diameter wide over a surface. Quantum tunnelling allows current to flow but drops off sharply as the tip moves away from the surface. Using fine controlled magnets to adjust the tips position, it became possible to map the atomic surface of objects. He and Binnig shared a Nobel Prize (the other half going to Ernst Ruska for developing the scanning electron microscope).

Howard Rosenblum, the British fan, has died aged 65 of pancreatic cancer. He was the editor of the fanzine SONF (Son of New Futurian) 1968 – 1977 and a regular Eastercon attendee.

Gilbert Taylor, the British cinematographer, has died aged 99. Film buffs know his work even if they may not know of him. These include: Ice Cold in Alex, the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night and Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy. SF film aficionados certainly know of his genre works which include: the original Star Wars film, Dr Strangelove, Omen II, Flash Gordon and, above all 2001: A Space Odyssey. His television genre work included The Avengers. A master of genre visualisation has passed on.

Kim Thompson, the Danish born then US domicile fan and editor, has died aged 56. He bought The Comics Journal in 1978. He also edited Amazing Heroes between 1982 and 1992. He also championed the publication of European comics in the US.

Jack Vance, the US science fiction grandmaster of 50 novels and 100 short stories, has died aged 96. Most of his work was published under the name Jack Vance. He published 11 mysteries as John Holbrook Vance and three as Ellery Queen. Other pen names (each used once) included Alan Wade, Peter Held, John van See, and Jay Kavanse. He wrote one of his first science fiction stories for an English class assignment; his teacher's reaction was a scornful, "We also have a piece of science fiction." Among his subsequent many works, most famously his novelette The Last Castle (1966) won both a Hugo and a Nebula Award. It is a far future tale about the last castle on Earth with human occupants. The humans increasingly relied on Meks – simple minded aliens – up to the time when the Meks revolted.  He also won an Edgar (the mystery genre's equivalent of the Nebula) for the best first mystery novel in 1961 for The Man in the Cage.  His last novel was Lurulu (2004) which itself was a sequel to Ports of Call (1998).  His autobiography This is Me, Jack Vance!, was published in 2009 and in 2010 won a 'Best Related Work'' Hugo Award.  Other than books and short stories, he was for a while a screenwriter for the Captain Video television series. He was a Guest of Honour at the Worldcon in Orlando (US) in 1990. Authors Frank Herbert and Poul Anderson were among his closest friends and they jointly built a houseboat which they sailed in the Sacramento Delta.

John Ware, the US author agent, has died aged 70. Prior to becoming an author agent, he was a commissioning agent at Doubleday.

Kenneth Geddes Wilson, the US physicist, has died aged 77. He is noted for his work on phase transitions (such as solid to liquid) and the development of renormalisation group theory to do this. This understanding developed from his previous work on the observation of elementary particles collisions which depend on forces influential at smaller-than-observable-scales. Prior to his work, calculations of elementary particle collisions tended to end up with lots of infinities (or reciprocal of infinities i.e. zeros). As such it was almost inevitable that he would be attracted to computer tools and in the early 1980s championed the use of supercomputers in physics. In 1982 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his seminal approach, combining quantum field theory and the statistical theory of critical phenomena of second-order phase transitions.

Bruce C. Murray, the US director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He served as director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1976 through 1982, a period that saw the launch of the Voyager probes. While serving as director, Murray co-founded, along with Carl Sagan and Louis Friedman, the Planetary Society, in 1980, to support research related to astronomy, planetary science, exploration, public outreach, and political advocacy.


[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.]

Autumn 2013


Scientists arrested as terrorists for what seems to be governmental political payback. Fatih Hilmioglu and five other Turkish academics have been accused of terrorism, but it appears that the charges may stem from Islamic politicians. A delegation sent by the US National Academies of Science and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina to Turkey has reported that the scientists have not received a fair trial and that evidence appears manufactured. All six are firm secularists and, for example, sought to uphold a headscarf ban in universities to the annoyance of the current Islamic leaning government. Many academics in Turkey feel that the arrests are acts of political revenge from pre-2003 when the government was secular, as well as a warning.

Near death experiences now have a possible explanation. Studying rats using brain electroencephalography (E.E.G.) during induced cardiac arrest has given an unexpected result. It had been thought that the brain after clinical death was inactive or hypoactive, with less activity than the waking state, but the new results show that is definitely not the case and, if anything, it is much more active during the dying process than even the waking state.&nspb; They identified a transient surge of synchronous gamma oscillations that occurred within the first 30 seconds after cardiac arrest. Gamma oscillations during cardiac arrest were global and highly coherent; moreover, this frequency band exhibited a striking increase in anterior–posterior-directed connectivity and tight phase-coupling to both theta and alpha waves. High-frequency neurophysiological activity in the near-death state exceeded levels found during the conscious waking state. These data demonstrate that the mammalian brain can, albeit paradoxically, generate neural correlates of heightened conscious processing at near-death. In humans this could give rise to a heightened state of consciousness and hence near-death visions. The research was conducted at Michigan University and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in a paper entitled ' Surge of neurophysiological coherence and connectivity in the dying brain'.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke's DNA to be sent into space. NASA plans to send Sir Arthur C. Clarke's DNA into orbit around the Sun in 2014 aboard a solar-powered craft. His DNA will be accompanied by that of a few others including Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry and actor James Doohan. Called the Sunjammer Cosmic Archive (SCA), it will carry digital files of human DNA including Clarke's. The DNA will be in a so-called 'BioFile'. Other so-called 'MindFiles' will include images, music and voice recordings.

An asteroid has been named after Iain Banks. Many scientists have an interest in (if not have been inspired to the profession by) science fiction. One such astronomer, Jose Luis Galache (of the Minor Planets Centre in the US) aided by colleague Gareth Williams, submitted a request to rename the formerly catalogue titled 'asteroid 5099' the appellation 'Iainbanks' to the Committee for Small Body Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union.  The request was granted towards the end of June.  Asteroid Iainbanks resides in the Main Asteroid Belt of the Solar system a quarter of the way beyond Mars to Jupiter; with a size of 3.8 miles (6.1 km), it takes 3.94 Earth years to complete a revolution around the Sun. It is most likely of a stony composition.  The official citation for the asteroid reads: "Iain M. Banks (1954-2013) was a Scottish writer best known for the Culture series of science Fiction novels; he also wrote Fiction as Iain Banks. An evangelical atheist and lover of whisky, he scorned social media and enjoyed writing music. He was an extra in Monty Python & The Holy Grail."
          +++ More Iain Banks news earlier this page and obituary above.

Early arthropod species named after Edward Scissorhands. Director Tim Burton's Hugo-winning 1991 film, Edward Scissorhands starred Johny Depp as an artificial human with scissors for hands.  Now David Clegg of Imperial College London (which incidentally along with Cambridge and Hertfordshire Universities has one of England's longest standing SF societies) has named one of the first species of arthropod (the phylum of insects, crustaceans (crabs and lobsters), arachnids (spiders) etc) after the Edward Scissorhand actor: Kootenichela deppi.  (Journal of Palaeontology, vol. 87, pp493-501.

The Science of Discworld IV: Judgment Day has been rather successful. It leapt straight into the British Isles non-fiction hardback book charts at number 2 back in April as we were posting last season's news page.  That week 5,031 units of The Science of Discworld IV: Judgment Day were sold. Total hardback sales of the previous title in the series, The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch topped 40,000!  The entire series has reportedly grossed over £2.5 million (US$3.775m) to date which no doubt has pleased publishers Ebury and the authors.

Personal telescopic vision created. The system is based on contact lenses that work combined with special glasses. The contact-lens-and-spectacles combination magnifies 2.8 times. Polarising filters in the spectacles allow wearers to switch between normal and telescopic vision. The system was developed to help people suffering age-related blindness and created by Joseph Ford at UC San Diego and Eric Tremblay at Switzerland's EPFL. Currently potential military applications are being considered.

Zombies used in evacuation research. Shock, Horror, Drama, probe! The zombies were used to simulate crowds in an evacuation scenario.  Now, before any of you go all funny with us about zombie rights (SFWA members don't panic) the Essex University used data using a zombie-themed computer game in which players had to escape from a building: they didn't use real zombies. Lead researcher Dr Nikolai Bode said: "We wanted to look at spontaneous responses to changing circumstances." What was found was that when no time limit was set, people would often leave by different routes to those from which they arrived. However, under stress conditions this was turned on its head -with people choosing to leave the same way they came in even if they were likely to get stuck in a zombies surge. The research was published in the journal Animal Behaviour.

Star Wars city used as a geological fixed point. The fictional city Mos Espa appeared in The Phantom Menace 'Episode I' and was the home of the young Anakin Skywalker, later to become Darth Vader. Ralph Lorenz and Jason Barnes have used the dwellings as a fixed geographic reference to measure the migration of giant wind-blown crescent-shaped dunes, or barchans. Ever-shifting dune fieldsare usually devoid of fixed points. So the desert film set provides a much needed reference point. The research (published in Geomorphology June 2013) has shown that dune movements on Earth are 10 times faster than barchans on Mars.  As for the Mos Espa set, this looks like it will begin to bee covered by a large sand dune next year. The dune is moving at 15m a year. Eventually it will pass and the set will emerge but will likely be very battered.

The Medieval Voynich manuscript probably really does contain a 'genuine message'! The book dates to the early 1400s, but it largely disappeared from public record until 1912 when an antique book dealer, Wilfrid Voynich, bought it in Italy in a batch of second-hand publications. The240-page long book is written in an unknown alphabet and is illustrated with mysterious pictures of astronomical images, unknown plants and naked women. Researchers from Britain's Manchester University have analysed the nonsensical text. They have found substantial evidence that content-bearing words tend to occur in a clustered patterns associated with genuine language. Over long spans of texts, words leave a statistical signature about their use. When the topic shifts, other words are needed. The semantic networks obtained analysing the text clearly show that related words tend to share structure similarities that happen in real languages. However it does look as if the language – whatever it is – is a made up language, as opposed to a real naturally evolving one, or it would have been broken years ago.  The research was published in the journal PLOS One.

A British astronomy network has been established for SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence). It is now seeking funding. If it gets half or one percent PPARC's (the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council) astronomy funding then the UK effort would be on a par with that of the N. American SETI programme. +++ (Some of the Concatenation's team's view is that even if funded this programme is unlikely to deliver a positive result but could be beneficial as a test-bed for new signal analysis technology if synergistic developmental programmes could be found.)

Tiny robotic flying flies constructed. Kevin Ma and his Harvard U. team (USA) have successfully manufactured insect-sized robots that actually fly and hover like real insects. Each wing is about the size of a one New Pence piece (or a one cent piece) and the robots weigh 80 milligrams (Science, vol. 340, pp603-607).



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Autumn 2013

End Bits


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

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Lise Andreasen, Arno Behrend, Boris Dolingo, Alqua Kun, Roberto Quaglia, Tero Ykspetäjä (without who's Partial Recall blog what would Finland SF do?), June Young, various Brits and other Europeans who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, and not least the very many representatives of SF groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk who sent in news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page.   If you feel that your news, or SF news that interests you, should be here then you need to let us know (as we cannot report what we are not told). :-)

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Spring 2014 period – needs to be in before the 2nd week in December 2013 (as the Christmas/New Year break impedes edition preparations). 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.

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