November 2002 News

SF Fan and Con News, Forthcoming Science Fact and Fiction Books

International Week of Science & SF

As you can see from Progress Report 2 elsewhere on this site, plans for the 2nd International Week are coming along. Fans who enjoy travelling to new worlds and encountering new civilizations, as well as science fiction, and who have yet to decide where to spend their overseas holiday next year could do worse than treading boldly in Timisoara.

In addition to the updates in Progress Report 2, we are saddened to report that the Timisoaran SF fan Laurentiu Turco died at the end of September after a year long battle with lung cancer. Laurentiu was an active member of Timisoara's SF community. As part of his fanac, he attended all the Anglo-Romanian Science & SF Cultural Exchange activities held in that city and loaned equipment for the first International Week of Science and SF (1999). He will be missed but hopefully will still contribute to the forthcoming International Week as local fans are planning to publish a collection of his science fiction shorts and to launch this during the Week. 'Hopefully' because the story manuscripts have to be obtained from a local publisher with whom they have been languishing for some time. Laurentiu's SF interests included a fascination with biological Forteana. He earned his living as an architect.

Other News

This supplement to pre-Christmas 2002 and New Year news builds on the Pre-Christmas news posted in August (click here).

The omens do not bode well for Japan's 2007 bid for the Worldcon. Checking out their web site does reveal an English language section which was updated in the autumn. However an examination of the pre-supporters listed sees few from the UK, and indeed none of the Concatenation team who paid their registration in the Spring. The web site does have a contact e-mail which welcomes comment and queries and so we availed ourselves of this service last month. However as of early October we have yet to be favoured with a reply. We at Concatenation have long found that a convention committee's ability to deal with pre-convention queries is a very reliable indicator of their organisational ability (especially to harness resources and services that may be volunteered). Given Japan is so expensive, and because we recommended Japan 2007 on the con diary page, we thought you might want to know of this possible indication of fortune. We will let you know of developments as the idea of a Worldcon in Japan is long overdue and has the potential to be a really great venue.

Conversely we had a query regarding the Toronto Worldcon (2003) and they replied, concisely and politely fully answering our question within one week. Nice one, eh. Consequently some of us may well be going to Canada.

The UK has successfully won its bid (unapposed) at this year's Worldcon to hold the Worldcon in Glasgow in 2005. This event will be called 'Interaction'. They have also up-graded their website A few of the Concatenation team as well as friends of Concat will be going and some have even pre-supported...

Shock, horror, drama ,probe! The failure of carbon dioxide gas providing ale to the pumps at the London SF Circle's new haunt at the Trafalgar Square end of Whitehall caused the October meeting (1st Thursday of the month) to split up. What was more shocking was the discovery that pressurised gas is used on their real-ale pumps. Is nothing sacred? Now, they do not have this problem at the City Illiterates (most Friday evenings early on, near Waterloo)... but then it doesn't have real ale...

UK Book Publishing

Out for Christmas, Robin Cook's latest is Abduction out from Pan. ISBN 0-33-036900-8. A departure from the medical SF with which he is usually associated. This time it's alien invasion.

David Brin's Kiln People is released this side of the pond by Orbit ISBN 1-84-149152-7 a year after its US release from Tor (ISBN 0-765-30355-8). A futuristic thriller Orbit will be pushing this one heavily; reportedly with advertising in The Guardian's 'G2' over 4 weeks. The premise is that in the future you will be able to electronically imprint yourself onto artificial creations called dittos or golems. These are short-lived, temporary bodies and you then download your experiences back to your own body at the end of the day. One day one of the scientists who pioneered this process is killed and a murder mystery ensues. Brin usually has some great ideas but his packaging and plotting sometimes leaves a little something to be desired. It will be interesting to see how the Kiln People fares.

Alan Grant (he of 2000AD fame?) has written a Smallville TV series spin-off entitled Smallville: Dragon, again from Orbit, ISBN 1-841-49247-7. It accompanies Roger Stern's Smallville: Strange Visitors, ISBN: 1-841-49246-9. The publishers marketing hype to booksellers is that these title will sell as well as Buffy The Vampire Slayer spin-off books. This is of course pure hype. Smallville does have quite a following but it is not nearly as big as Buffy's. Conversely, if the afore mentioned Alan Grant is the Alan Grant of 2000AD fame, then it could well be worth checking out.

Our yet-to-be-read good bet for a friend's Christmas present is Jack McDevitt's latest offering just out in the US from Ace. As Concatenation regulars will know from our book reviews, we like McDevitt's works and we hope that Chindi will not disappoint. The premise is that something - or somebody - has left a series of satellites in orbit around various planets in the galaxy. Why? (Well not a litter bug that's for sure.) Now this - archaeological SF - is a theme that McDevitt has touched upon before with some success, so the omens are good for Chindi. Your bookshop can order it from the US for US$22.95 for the hardback. ISBN 0-441-00938-7.

Serious SF Book Collector Alert

Prof Fred Clarke has compiled British Future Fiction 1700-1914 in eight volumes from Pickering and Chatto (UK: 21 Bloomsberry Way, London, WC1A 2TH, and US: 2252 Ridge Road, Brookfield, VT 05036-9704). ISBN 1-85196-617-X. Each volume is over 480 pages (one is over 700 pages), and reproduces in facsimile (usually the first editions) early works of SF and proto-SF. There are scholarly comments and notes as well as bibliographic details. Clarke's selection has gone for more obscure works that have not been widely reprinted since World War II, and this is commendable: there is no point in giving us material we may already have in our collections. However the price of the collection at US$ 795 (approximates at around UKú 550) is still expensive even for an 8-volume hardback collection. This one is definitely for the most serious of collectors, but it could be worthwhile ensuring that your city, or county, library orders this.

Non-fiction News

The Complete Tolkien Companion will be published in December from Pan ISBN 0-33041165-9. This is a completely revised release and updated from the 1974 edition.

The paperback of Michael White's biography of Tolkien, imaginatively entitled Talkien, is published in December by Abacus. ISBN 0-34911620-2.

Science fact publishing news

Brenda Love's Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices has been a reasonably strong seller since 1995 and will now be released in December into B format by Abacus. ISBN 0-34911535-4.

Just missing Christmas 2002, a clutch of popular science books will see their release in the New Year.

Marcus Chown's The Universe Next Door examines a dozen topics at the forefront of cosmology. Chown is a reasonable science writer from the New Scientist stable and so we assume that this will be suitable for non-astronomy scientists. ISBN 0-74723528-7. The UK Booksellertrade magazine's science reader apparently found Chown's offering leaving him 'hopelessly out of his depth'. However our experience of the Bookseller's advance notices of science and SF are such that actually we consider this a positive endorsement of The Universe Next Door. Consequently, some of us will be keeping an eye out for this.

Phoenix publishes Janna Levin's account of How The Universe Got Its Spots. ISBN 0-75381376-9

Keith Tutt's The Scientist, The Madman, The Thief and Their Lightbulb looks at quirky ideas including, we presume, spoofs, as to how to produce cheap electricity and so end dependence on oil. Pocket books, the publisher, certainly has a great title. ISBN 0-74344976-2

And Finally... Site News

OK, we know that we are a small and somewhat specialised site. Even so that is no excuse for our not striving to improve service and delivery. So here is just a brief note on how we are doing. It appears that our now posting of new material on the site roughly quarterly and increasing the amount we post, seems to be something of a success. Text downloaded from the site has doubled over the past 12 months (to October 2002) and hits have more than doubled. Of course hits include search engine visits as well as each individual page visited, so the important statistic relates to a count of site visitors. Here, site visits are up nearly a half to 9,000 a quarter year and in September we broke the 100 visits a day barrier. (Not bad since neither of Concatenation's two principal editors have internet access at home and the Concat webmaster looks after two other sites of his own, so these visitors are not us). This means that we are getting roughly a third of the traffic of the web site belonging to the multiple Hugo-Award winning magazine Locus. (Well, you've got to have a reasonable target for which to aim.) It also means that more visitors are each looking at more of the site. We will provide a more detailed analysis for you in a few months time and/or when we hit the 10,000 visits a quarter barrier.) We will also announce plans for future site development.

That's it for now folks. Check out Concatenation's pre-Christmas mega-dump of reviews and news in December 2002.

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