This is an archive page. Go here for the latest seasonal science fiction news.
This is an archive page. Go here for the latest seasonal science fiction news.
[SF News | Forthcoming Science Fiction Book Releases for Autumn 2005 | Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror | Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction | Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins and Computer Games | Last Quarter's Science News Summary]
Editorial matter - Two of the Concat team were, separately, in central London at the time of the July 7th bombs. Both are OK. Likewise, on a broader note, none of the SF authors and publishers in London at the time were unduly affected beyond the understandable disruption. The London SF Circle was due to meet that (first Thursday of the month) night at the Walkers of Holborn pub but it was closed. Half a dozen or so assembled at the Printers' Devil opposite. +++ Unfortunately SF enthusiast Giles Hart died in the bus bombing. He chaired a branch of the Wells Society (UK).
2005 Aventis popular science book prize announced -- details and other winners.
The 2005 Hugo Awards for SF achievement have been announced -- see the report on this year's Worldcon cum Eurocon below.
BBC axe their (2nd most popular) Cult TV website -- see below.
Robert Sheckley: summer of ill health -- see author news below.
UFO stars die within a week of each other in June -- see below.
The new Dr Who a success, but there is controversy and changes. More seasons assured -- see below.
The launch of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was a national sensation. -- see below.
A new Star Trek style communicator mobile phone has been developed with computer extras. see below.
The other sub-sections within SF News to which you can jump are: SF Book Trade News; Major SF Author and Artist News; R.I.P; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Film, Graphic Novel + TV News.
The 2005 Aventis (formerly the Rhone-Poulenc) Prize for best popular science book went to Philip Ball for Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another (William Heinemann). Bill Bryson, judging panel chair said: "This is a wide-ranging and dazzlingly informed book about the science of interactions and I promise you'll be amazed." +++ Meanwhile Lord Robert Winston took the junior Aventis prize (which itself is odd as he is old and grey) for his children's book What Makes Me, Me? (Dorling Kindersley).
The Locus Awards, voted for by the magazines readers, were presented at Westercon Due North in Calgary in July. The Best SF Novel award went to The Baroque Cycle: The Confusion and The System of the World, by Neal Stephenson. There were also novella, novelette and short story categories among others, as well as a fantasy set. Details on www.locusmag.com.
Canada's Aurora Awards for both English and French were presented in July at Westercon. Among the winners were the Best Long-Form Work in English which went to Wolf Pack by Edo van Belkom, and the Best Long-Form Work in French which went to Les Memoires de l'Arc by Michele Laframboise.
The 2005 Nebula Awards from the Science Fiction Writers of America were announced at the end of April. The principal winners were:
Best Novel: Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
Best Script: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The2005 Saturn Awards were announced in May. The Saturns are awarded by US the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for film and TV and have run since 1972. The following categories (there are more) are of genre interest:
Best Science Fiction Film: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (US)
Best Fantasy Film: Spider-Man 2 (US)
Best Horror Film: Shaun of the Dead (UK)
Best Animated Film: The Incredibles (US)
Best Network Television Series: Lost (US)
Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series: Stargate SG-1 (US)
Best Television Presentation: Farscape: Peacekeeper Wars (UK/Ca)
Best Actor on TV: Ben Browder (Farscape: Peacekeeper Wars)
Best Actress on TV: Claudia Black (Farscape: Peacekeeper Wars)
The 2005 Australian National Science Fiction Achievement 'Ditmar' Awards were presented at Thylacon, the 44th Australian National Science Fiction Convention in June. Named after Dr Martin James Ditmar (Dick) Jensen, a founding member of the Melbourne SF Club, they have been give since 1969.
Best Novel: The Crooked Letter by Sean Williams.
Best Collected Work: Black Juice by Margo Lanagan.
Best Novella/Novelette: 'The Last Days of Kali Yuga' by Paul Haines.
Best Short Story: 'Singing My Sister Down' by Margo Lanagan (in the aforementioned Black Juice).
Best Professional Artwork: Kerri Valkova for the cover to The Black Crusade (Chimaera Publications).
Best Professional Achievement: the Clarion South (writers workshop/class) committee.
Fan Achievement: the Conflux convention committee.
Fanzine: The Bullsheet and its editors Edwina Harvey & Ted Scribner.
Fan Writer: Bruce Gillespie.
Best New Talent: Paul Haines
Liverpool University launches SF hub - www.sfhub.ac.uc which includes the records of the SF Foundation's archives. This should prove an invaluable resource for SF historians. Of course the SF Foundation itself, also located at the university, is one of the UK's most important SF depositories.
The BBC have axed their Cult TV website (formerly www.bbc.co.uk/cult). Beeb's Cult TV not only informed about SF on the Beeb (such as the new Dr Who and the new series of The Hitch-hikers' Guide to the Galaxy) but also on products relating to 1960s and 70s series. According to the Beeb's own data, it was the second most popular part of the BBC's website with 70 times the site visits we at Concat receive (but then we don't have a multi-million pound, internationally known organization behind us). In fact the only other part of the Beeb site to be more popular than Cult TV, according to the BBC's on-line survey, is the news section (which also covers science, nature and sport and politics).
The team running the BBC Cult TV site have been doing so for 6 years. The axing of the site, which took place mid-July, was down to "the restructuring of the BBC's online activities". However this is a sop of a reason and unlikely the real one given the site's popularity. So not surprisingly other rumours abound. These include the BBC's new boss Michael Grade who hates SF and especially Dr Who (fortunately the new series was virtually in the can when Grade took over). Indeed Grade only got the job due to his predecessor resigning after a BBC reporter did not dot his 'i's or cross his 't's when alluding to there being little evidence of Iraq weapons of mass destruction which Tony Blair said there was and so we had the Hutton enquiry etc., etc.
So the SF community looses a resource and the BBC lowers its SF profile. The only good news (or less bad news) is that some elements -- such as the Dr Who part -- of the Cult TV site will find a new home somewhere else. Comments received by the Beeb on site users learning of the news included: 'Those Beeb Telly Bosses have gone mad!', 'I can best describe the people who closed this site, with some words from Douglas Adams. "Mindless Jerks who will be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes"', 'Whose idiot idea was this?', 'This is Michael Grade's revenge for Doctor Who being such a success isn't it...', 'How is the BBC catering for the public if it shuts down one of it's most successful online sites?', 'So I hope they are closing down the Archers and EastEnders sites as well', 'Disgusting', 'Another attempt by the Beeb to eradicate past British culture, and thus pave the way for the Great Euro Culture, " I am not a number, I am a free Man",' 'What reasons have been given? Surely as license payers couldn't we have a say in it?', 'So what was the point of the Online Audience survey, if you came 2nd and were still closed down? Madness,' 'Why do they hate us so much?', 'Yet another consequence of that stupid report by the Government a year or so ago,' 'A complete disgrace,' 'This is a real tragedy', 'Short sighted,'[BBC] Restructure THIS!', 'So where are we going to take the piss out of Enterprise fans now then?', 'We're probably classed as a minority - but I'll bet it's a bigger one than BBC4!!!!', 'They killed off the message boards (the most popular thing in the cult section) it was inevitable that the higher ups, in "their wisdom" would close the rest down as well. Bloody shame though.'...
Two of UFO's TV series' stars died in the summer (see below). UFO was arguably Gerry Anderson's most accomplished science fiction series that had some characterization and short story arcs. First broadcast in 1970 it was Anderson's second attempt to move away from puppets and have a mix of live actors and model work. Its premise was that aliens were coming to Earth to harvest human organs as they, and by implication their own planetary biosphere, was dying. Though this premise is a little dodgy a third of a century on in post-human genome terms, the show did successfully convey some menace behind the visitors. The future depicted had some outlandish styles reflecting the following 1970s and the real cars they used were something else: they were one of the best autos to appear in media-SF until Back to the Future. The show had only a few weak points, the chief of which was that there were only three Moonbase interceptor craft, so begging the question as to why the aliens didn't routinely send in more than a maximum of three UFOs? Nonetheless some of the episodes were science fictionally inventive and surreal. It was not even afraid of killing off one of its regular characters. Comparisons have been made between Anderson and Irwin in the US, but UFO showed that Anderson was streets ahead of his US counterpart. The show was going to have a second series but American producers got involved to boost the production finance as UK networks didn't quite know how to take it. As they usually do the new producers bxxxxxxd it up turning it unrecognisably into Space 1999 with US actor leads (it's all in Anderson's biography). The series is available on DVD and is still enjoyable to watch today even if a little dated. UK-fans will recognise a host of British guest stars.
It is a fresh start for 2000AD: the Galaxy's greatest SF comic. From mid-August's issue 1450 all the strips start a fresh story, so now is the time for you to check this publication out. OK, so you are reading this a few weeks later but specialist stores like Forbidden Planet (well their London branch at any rate) stock the past month or so's worth of issues. Current stories include Judge Dredd (future cop, judge and jury rolled into one and policing the post apocalyptic high tech Mega City 1 that covers the former US eastern seaboard), Savage (an alternate history where the Volgans (thinly disguised Soviets) invade Britain), Leatherjack (hard SF cum space opera) and Robo-Hunter an SF comedy thriller with Samantha Slade. If you did not know, weekly 2000AD has been going since the end of the 1970s and has in the past hosted strips such as Dan Dare. Alternatively you can get the monthly Judge Dredd Megazine which has about a third of its material outside of the Dredd universe and arguably better value for overseas subscribers.
...And talking of the monthly Judge Dredd magazine, the end of September (2005) sees its 15th anniversary. The anniversary issue will contain a complete 36 page Dredd adventure, and an all new Simping Detective story (an undercover Judge story) as well a an article on the Megazine's history plus more. If you want just a sampler of the Megazine then this is one of the issues appropriate for such a purpose.
The Summer also sadly saw us lose the following scientists and SF personalities:
Jim Aparo died aged 72. He was one of the first major artists to work on Batman.
John Bachall died aged 70. An astrophycist, he was perhaps best known for helping to show that the Sun worked by a fusion process. He also actively supported the Hubble Space Telescope's project development and later urged it being continued despite shuttle problems following the 2003 Columbia disaster.
Wilfred G. Bigelow aged 92. He was the Canadian pioneer of open heart surgery who co-developed the first electronic pacemaker, the FIG1 Wilfred G Bigelow, known as 'Bill,' and who introduced the concept and technique of hypothermia that first made open heart surgery possible. He also co-developed the first electronic pacemaker in 1950. In 1956 he was influential in developing the first formal cardiac surgery training programme in Canada.
Michael Billington died aged 64. This actor is most famous in SF circles for playing Paul Foster in Gerry Anderson's most science fictional series UFO. The 1970 series was one of the first SF shows to have a few story arcs and the character Foster played the lead in the first of these when he was recruited into SHADO. Michael Billington was at one point tipped to play James Bond.
Ed Bishop died aged 72. Like Michael Billington above, Ed Bishop was an actor who also starred in UFO only he played the lead character, the head of SHADO, Ed Straker. He also played the voice of Captain Blue in the original Captain Scarlet (another Gerry Anderson series). Ed Bishop was for many year's the BBC's 'American' but he also had bit parts in a number of films. His most famous SF bit part was as the lunar shuttle pilot in 2001: A Space Odyssey but he also appeared in The Mouse on the Moon. His voice even appeared in the fan film Armatige Shanks.
Bill Bowers died aged 62 just after our last (April) seasonal posting. Bill being a long-standing US fan who accrued four Hugo 'Best Fanzine' nominations and who was Fan Guest of Honour at the 1978 Worldcon in Phoenix, US.
Chris Bunch US author died aged 63. His SF tended to be military and undoubtedly part inspired by his Vietnam experiences. He also wrote the Vietnam war novel A Reckoning For Kings: A Novel of the Tet Offensive in 1987
Paul Cassidy died aged 94. The comic's artist who put the 'S' motif on Superman's cape was the first to ghost for Superman's co-creator Joe Shuster.
Robert Clarke died aged 85. He was the scriptwriter, director and star of The Hideous Sun Demon, and had other roles including in The Man from Planet X and The Astounding She-Monster.
William P. Cleland died just before his 93rd birthday, an early pioneer of open-heart surgery. Born in Australia he spent his post-war years in the UK.
Sir Richard Doll died aged 92. The British clinical researcher who identified smoking as a cause of lung cancer. At the time he was a smoker but then gave up. Subsequent research seems to affirm that there is a more or less linear relationship between the quantity a person smokes and the chances of incurring a smoking related disease, ancillary factors such as level of air pollution etc., notwithstanding.
James Doohan died aged 85. The Canadian actor who played Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott in the original Star Trek series. His other appearances included on Bonanza, Bewitched and the Virginian. He is credited with first creating the Klingon language for the Trek films.
Frank Gorshin actor, died aged 71. Genre roles include 'the Ridler' in the 1960s TV series Batman and as Commander Bele in the Star Trek episode 'Let that be your last battlefield'. He was nominated for an Emmy for both roles.
Giles Hart died in the London bombs, July, aged 55. A genre enthusiast he was a chair of a branch of the H. G. Wells Society (Britain).
Evan Hunter a.k.a. Ed McBain US author died aged 78. Though best known for his detective stories he also wrote some SF novels in the 1950s.
Saunders Mac Lane aged 94. The mathematician who invented category theory that enabled phenomena and concepts to be grouped according to core properties.
Warren Norwood aged 59. The US author of several novels including Shudderchild and True Jaguar.
Alvin Novick, died aged 84. A former Professor of Biology at Yale and an expert on bat sonar, in the early 1980s he turned to the legal, social and public policy question of AIDS at a time early on when we did not even know of HIV. His partner tragically died of AIDS a decade later in 1992.
Josef Nesvadba died suddenly, aged 78 on April 26th. Josef Nesvadba was won of the best known of Eastern Europe's SF writers, indeed ask any western SF-book reader to name am,late-20th century East European SF author and Nesvadba (probably along with Stanislaw Lem) would arguably be there in the top ten: heck, the top five! Of relevance to those into the science fact & fiction interface, born in Prague, Nesvadba trained as a clinician and specialised in psychiatry. This could only have helped his writing during that time known as the 'normalisation' when the communists ruled what was Czechoslovakia. Indeed some of his work, such as Prvni zprava z Prahy [The First News from Prague] was banned at the time as it too transparently portrayed the situation: it was only published in 1991. Nevadba's writing was not so much hard SF but New Wave in that it dealt with perceptual and psychological matters, he also wrote horror and even some Tarzan parodies. Several of his stories have been filmed or televised. He was one of the Guests of Honour at Britain's first Eurocon (Seacon) in 1984.
Lady Jean Medawar died aged 92. A family planning pioneer from the days when there was much hostility to the subject: she often quoted a 1930 Lancet letter that said that the matter 'was something that no decent man would handle with a pair of tongs.' She studied her BSc under Howard Florey (later Lord Florey, penicillin's developer). In 1932 she was on vacation in the Black Sea when she saw then illegal Nazi swastika flags flying and joined the Labour party that opposed appeasement. She then helped refugee German scientists who fled to Britain before the war. She married Peter Medawar (a Brazillian of Lebanese stock) despite some family members who wondered what she would do if she had 'black babies', and an aunt disinherited her because Peter had 'no background and no money.' Peter was later knighted being an immunologist and transplant pioneer for which he became a Nobel Laureate. Lady Jean is the author of Hitler's Gift about the German scientists who fled the Axis nations.
The Rt Rev Hugh Montefiore died May aged 85. Not a scientist as such, nor an SF personality, Hugh Montefiore championed issues common to many in both camps. An Anglican theologian, Montefiore was a former Bishop of Birmingham but is best known for supporting issues such as literary freedom (publicly supporting defence witnesses in the 1960 Lady Chatterley's Lover trial) and green ('environmental' issues) where he put his name to efforts of the Schools Eco Action Group in the 1970s which became Youth Environmental Action at the decade's end). More recently (1998) he resigned from the Friends of the Earth board as he favoured nuclear power to global warming. His sexual politics were on the liberal side and sometimes a tad too much for the mainstream church and he clashed with Lord Hailsham (then Lord Chancellor) over divorce and penal reform. His 1995 autobiography is Oh God, What Next?
Hamilton Naki died aged 79. Unrecognised for his contribution to Christiaan Barnard's World-first heart transplant when he removed the heart to be transplanted and took care of it. His contribution went unrecognised because he was black and the patient white so contravening the then South African apartheid laws. In fact he was not even medically qualified being a technician. He later rose to being a senior technician, which was the highest position a black could be in the university. Following apartheid's decline he received an honorary MSc in surgery.
Gerald Price died June 30th aged 69. He was a fantastic film professional who ran his ran his company 'Intercontinental Films' from 1963 till the day he died, and also a fan and especially of vintage offerings. He regularly made a selection for one of the programme streams at the annual Festival of Fantastic Films (Manchester). Indeed had already made his selection for this year's event (September 2-4) which was projected by his friend Tony Meadows. He would have celebrated his 70th birthday the Monday after the convention.
Michael Sheard died aged 65. An actor he had a number of genre roles including Admiral Ozzel inThe Empire Strikes Back and as Hitler in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (he played Hitler at least five times in his career). He also appeared a few times in Dr Who. He was due to have roles in the forthcoming film Voices of the Forest and a pilot six-episode series called Star Hyke.
David Tyrell died aged 80. He ran the MRC's Common Cold Unit and though never found a cure did uncover just about all we know about the illness. Originally it was thought that there was one pathogen but research at the unit uncovered some 200 viruses. It also debunked many of the cold's mythical cures. His 1991 book The Common Cold (with Michael Fielder) illustrates the hopes, false leads and frustrations of research. More recently he was interested in possible connections of chronic fatigue syndrome with virus infections.
Mel Welles died aged 81. An actor he appeared in Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy, The Undead and in the original version of The Little Shop of Horrors.
SF BOOK TRADE NEWS
Oregon's (Portland) specialist SF bookshop Wrigley-Cross Books has just closed but will continue as a mail-order company. The bookshop, run by Paul Wrigley & Debbie Cross, has been providing genre books for some 15 years. Alas competition from the internet and large bookshops has seen them have dwindling in-store sales. They will continue to provide a mail order service and have a stall at occasional conventions.
Birmingham (England) specialist SF Andromeda Bookshop closed its doors on 26 August. Rog Peyton, original founder of Andromeda, is quoted in Ansible: `All the staff had walked out, the current owners pushing them one step too far... The stock is all in storage in Walsall.' Some of the Concat team have fond memories of expeditions to Andromeda in the late 1970s and 80s. An era has passed.
Following the above, so quick, break out some good bookshop news... Could London's Fantasy Centre be the oldest SF and fantasy bookshop in the World? To be precise the oldest that has stayed in the same location? Owner Eric Arthur wondered and so he checked his records. He has a catalogue they sent out early in 1973 so he thinks they've been on the Holloway Road since 1972. The shop specialises in 2nd hand books and Eric's knowledge of the genre is very wide. So if you are in London before this Christmas, arm your self with either Essential SF: A Concise Guide or the Beccon Publications Collectors' Checklist, find out the key works you are missing (or that a friend might like) and pick up those missing titles. But best do it this Christmas as because the Centre's been going so long Eric's retirement looms and he has been occasionally heard muttering about shutting up shop... Meanwhile if you know of an older shop that has been in the same location then let us know.
Popular science does sell. Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything's Black Swan Paperback edition has sold 930,000 copies over the past year.
The £50,000 July launch at Edinburgh Castle of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince did not disappoint, though booksellers were squeezed. The launch was televised on UK national (ITV) television (surely a first?) and the first official copy went to 15 year old Savannah Mazda. Savannah, who is English but currently living in New York reportedly said, "I don't like American copies" (Guard 16.7.05). First day UK sales at 1.9 million in the UK alone were ahead of the last HP book Order of the Phoenix's 1.7m (2003) -- that's a UK average of about one in 30 households. A three-deep queue stretched for nearly 1.3 miles (2 km) on London's Oxford Street. In the US Barnes & Noble had around 1 million just to meet advance orders! However supermarkets were set to take the edge of booksellers' profit margins with UK supermarket chains Asda and Tesco selling copies at reduced prices. This caused real booksellers to dub the book Harry Potter and the Half-Price Prince. Indeed some bookdealers even restocked from their local supermarket as their discounts were close to the wholesale price. Though supermarkets Asda and Tesco took a third of the first-day market, such was the volume of sales that real bookshops were largely satisfied. The lowest price at any major chain was Kwik Save's £4.99 (less than a third of the full price of £16.99) but stocks were limited. The story itself was a closely guarded secret that was kept despite attempts to leak it. Given the Government's success in this area what with the Hutton report and all, surely there are lessons to be learned beyond the book trade? Whatever, so far Harry Potter has sold 265 million copies all told in 200 countries. The (supposedly) final book in the series is due out 2007/8.
Penguin celebrated its 70th birthday at the height of the summer with a rather well-lubricated bash at Lawrence Hall near St James Park. New Chief Exec, John Makinson revealed that Penguin's all-time bestseller was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which will not doubt further benefit from the new Johnny Depp film). He wants to make Penguin a stronger force in commercial fiction. What this means for genre books remains to be seen.
Voyager, Harper Collins' SF & fantasy imprint, celebrated its 10th anniversary in Australia and UK. First came the Australian party at Continuum 3 inthe Ballroom Foyer of the Hilton on the Park which was followed by the convention's masquarade. The master of ceremonies for the Voyager part of the evening was Australian Voyager's own Sean Williams. Then the UK occasion took place at the 2005 Eurocon cum Worldcon in Glasgow with a rather nifty reception Saturday at the Tall Ship behind the Scottish Exhibition Centre. Pirate bandanas and eye pathces were distributed to guests.
Voyager Publishing Director Jane Johnson revealled all to Concat in an interview.Our congratulations to Voyager and we look forward to continuing listing and review Voyager books over the next 10 years...
Books from the new US imprint Pyr should be available in UK bookshops. Contrary to our previous understanding, Pyr books should be available in European specialist shops as the UK and European distribution is being handled by UK and Europe by Lavis Marketing of Oxford. Here, There and Everywhere is recommended.
SF magazine Weird Tales has been completely taken over by Wildside Press. Wildside had previously been a minority owner of the US title. The previous editors, Darrell Schweitzer and the Hugo Award-winning editor George H. Scithers, have remained but have been joined by Wildside's President John Betancourt who has already been helping out the magazine since 1987.
Poster adverts for Iain Banks' The Algebraist has seen a complaint lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority from a member of the public due to the London bombings. The poster quotes from a review: "A perfect place to have your mind blown." Nobody seems to be taking the complainant seriously but the ASA has to go through with the motions. Of greater concern is that the award winning cover with the picture of a gas giant has the giant made transparent so that stars can be seen through it. Why, oh why?
The summer saw all change at the top of HarperCollins with the departure of Caroline Michel to be an authors' agent. Her two years as head of HC's literary division had its controversial moments (ending the Flamingo imprint for example) and occasionally it is reported that things were not as smooth as they might have been with other senior HC staff (though this can be as good as it can bad). However HC's lit approach to paperbacks seemed to have fared well under her. HC's SF & fantasy genre titles appear to have survived it all reasonably unchanged.
Amazon faces greater competition in the UK with the return of Ottakar's to on-line selling. Ottakars ceased its websales in 2001. Since then Amazon has grown with the on-line sales sector and of course Amazon has taken over running Waterstone's and Borders' sales sites. However as small print publishers know, as we do from Porcupine for Essential SF: A Concise Guide, Amazon can be a right pain to get them to load details and account for alternative titles (in our case Essential Science Fiction). If the Ottakars development encourages Amazon to improve matters then both small publishers and book customers will both benefit.
Will UK book chains Ottakars and Waterstones merge? As we enter the autumn the book trade is awaiting the outcome. The merger possibility arose because Ottakers' founder, James Henage, is tired of stock market fluctuations and plans to bring Ottakers, and its 137 shops, back into private ownership for £78.6m (US$134). This encouraged Waterstones' parent, HMV, to consider a takeover. If the merger happens then the amalgamated chain would control roughly a quarter of UK book sales. Trade fears arising from the possible merger include minority books and the nurturing of new talent. However whether these are really valid with the rise of things like print on demand and on-line sales, remains to be seen.
The Blackwell academic bookshop chain in the UK, some shops of which have a reasonable SF section, was subject to a family battle. Chief Executive son Philip Blackwell had tried to sell to the UK newsagent chain W. H. Smiths (not known for its SF selection, for example if you want to buy Hugo nominated titles). He failed, meanwhile father Julian campaigned with fellow shareholders for a refinancing scheme with venture capital money. The problem Blackwell faces is that students are tending to go to Amazon for their core course books. Blackwells has strengths in that students can browse for other books. Currently there appears to be a family truce with the son takingit off the market and dad allowing the son to continue to run the show. Meanwhile the family and board have to work out how Blackwells will meet the twin challenges of the internet and declining student demand for books - they tend to go for electronic journal papers in science these days. +++ Academic book publishing has also suffered in recent years with UK authors who are university-based researchers being encouraged to focus on RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) criteria (of which authoring is at best peripheral) as the RAE score is used by the Government agencies to prioritise funding.
This year's UK Booksellers Association annual conference was in Glasgow prior to the Worldcon. This year's theme was 'driving growth in a changing World'. Contrary to impressions from Rowling and Tolkein sales, it was reported that the children's book market is declining. Conversely booksales for 53-74 year olds is up 31% in five years.
Manga goes all romantic with Mills & Boon. M&B, the UK romantic fiction publisher, has teamed up with Dark Horse comics to publish romance manga format graphic novels. These will be adaptations of Mills & Boon novels and will be distributed in both the UK and N. America. Half a dozen titles are in the pipeline so far. The graphic novels will come in two categories: a pink spine for readers 12-15 and a violet spine for older readers. The first title will be out in December and called A Girl in a Million by Betty Neels with art by Kako Itoh. This will be followed by Response by Penny Jordan and art by Takako Hashimoto.
BBC books face a financial loss but recovery is possible. BBC books lost £12m over the past two years out of a turnover over that time of around £40m. However after a tough redundancy programme last year the future looks better. BBC books is though seeking a commercial partner.
Queen Mary's University's Octagon Library dumps books in skips including 1st editions of Voltaire. The library decided to clear out its 'surplus' books at the end of the summer term and dumped them into skips. Books thrown out included those dating back to the 18th century. They were titles that no one had borrowed for 30 years and included copies of Gibbons Decline and Fall, The Diary of Bertie of Tame. Second hand bookshops would have loved to have these titles one university member commented. The university said that academics at the university had been consulted and booksellers had been given an opportunity to buy. Meanwhile students realised the opportunity and helped themselves. Author, publisher and campaigner for libraries said that there had been similar dumpings by other libraries. With 300 public libraries in London there should have been a collaboration to find a better home for the books than the bottom of a skip.
Movies about Marvel super heroes are turning youngsters onto comics. Avi Arad, president and chief executive officer of Marvel Studios, has said that Marvel is building on this ensuring that there are appropriate titles at appropriate outlets aimed at the 7-11 age group.
More book trade news early in the New Year in January. Meanwhile...
MAJOR SF AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS
Forry Ackerman made it to Glasgow for the Euro-Worldcon but alas had a domestic accident necessitating a stay in Glasgow Royal Infirmary. He regretted missing the con: it was only the third Worldcon he's missed. Convention co-chair visited him in hospital bringing convention publications.
Brian Aldiss received and OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to literature in the Queen's birthday honours. Way to go Brian.
+++ Arthur Clarke has not publicly commented on Brian's Award but, back in 1990, Clarke's novel The Ghost From the Grand Banks features a letter from one Lord Aldiss of Brightfount, President Emeritus of the Science Fiction World Association, SFWA. Of course in real life Brian has done much for World SF (not to be confused with the World SF Society that overseas Worldcons, or the Science Fiction Writers of America).
Brian Aldiss celebrated his 80th birthday in August on top of celebrations at this year's Eurocon cumWorldcon in Glasgow. Obviously with such protracted festivities it was necessary to get some training in and so back in March he received a (surprise) 80th birthday cake at the end of banquet at the 2005 International Conference on the Fantastic at Wyndham Fort Lauderdale.
Iain Banks is to appear on a 'celebrity' edition of BBC TVs Mastermind. He is of course an expert on culture and his specialist subject will be 'whiskey'. Fortunately a couple of year's ago he wrote Raw Spirit that recounted his tour of Scotland and many of its distilleries interspersed with occasional musings about his work and life. The show is due to be screened inDecember.
Clive Barker, horror author and film maker, has teamed up with producer Jorge Saralegui with a view to making two horror films a year. Among the first offerings tipped is an adaptation of the Barker short 'Pig Blood Blues' as well as New York Resurrection from an idea Barker had. +++ Meanwhile separately there is talk of the Barker story The Midnight Meat Train being made into a film.
Gregory Benford married Elizabeth Brown in Palo Alto, California, just after our Spring bulletin in April.
Gregory Benford sadly missed out of his dream this summer of testing a solar sail in space. He and brother James were due to fire a laser at an orbiting craft but alas the Cosmos Russian space rocket crashed when a booster stage seemed to fail to separate. The Planetary Society, behind the mission, is not daunted.
Doug Beason has been appointed to the Los Alamos National Laboratory as an associate director. "Basically an SF writer's dream position as I'm responsible for our space activities." His non-fiction book At the Speed of Light is expected from Da Capo Press shortly.
Lois McMaster Bujold's forthcoming book, The Sharing Knife is to be the first in a new series. Bujold seems most comfortable writing series and her (14 book so far) 'Miles Vorkosigan' series has served her well. If you have not read her then do not worry. Each book can be read as a stand alone.
Ken Bulmer has a graphic novel coming out... Yes, we were pleasantly surprised.
Malcolm Edwards, UK SF editor, has been promoted to managing director of Weidenfeld and Nicholson but will retain his role as deputy chief executive and publisher for the Orion book group.
Jo Fletcher, UK SF editor, married Ian Drury in May.
Harry Harrison celebrated his 80th birthday with daughter Moira and friends in Brighton, England. (Harry relocated to England from the US some years ago.) His birthday cake featured a stainless steel rat and there was no soylent green in sight. Our congratulations to Harry and may there be many more cakes with candles.
Harry attended the Interaction Euro-Worldcon but shortly after came down with a lung infection that prevented him from attending CascadiaCon, this year's NASFiC in Seattle, at which he was to have been a Special Guest. His infection cleared up without too much trouble.
Richard Morgan's Market Forces won this year's John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel published the previous year (2004).
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle have won this year's Heinlein Award. Their best collaboration is arguably The Mote in God's Eye about a system isolated from the interstellar jump points (as its is inside its sun) and whose native species has gone Malthusian (mega population explosion) which apparently it has done several times in the past, boom-bust style. The human explorers find this out and realise that they can't let this species loose on the galaxy... The novel spawned a fair sequel but whose climax is a very rare example of SF prediction.
Colin Pillinger has announced that he has multiple sclerosis. He will though continue his space science work for the time being. Colin was the driving force behind the Beagle 2 Martian probe.
Roberto Quaglia had not been feeling well since his trip with Bob Sheckley in the Ukraine. In Moldavia he was diagnosed with pneumonia and just managed to make a flight to Germany where he was hospitalised for a week. He had contracted the same strain as Sheckley but being younger fared far better. Roberto made the Eurocon-Worldcon where he was again elected Vice-Chair of the European SF Society. Afterwards he visited Ian Watson in the Midlands and subsequently some SF groups and members of the Concat team (Alan, Dan, Graham, Jonathan, Simon and Tony) in London and the Home Counties.
Robert Rankin fell ill over the summer which required a period of hospitalization. He is better now, but it did mean that he missed the Interaction Euro-Worldcon. He would have done a signing, been on a panel, taken part in young adult activities and joined in with the Gollancz PR activities, not to mention be the centre of the Sproutlore party. His latest book the The Brightonomicon is now out and Robert had fallen ill during its promotion tour of the UK.
J. K. Rowling has called for Brit kids to consider supporting owls in refuges rather than having them as pets (which is cruel). In the Potter stories owls are kept in small cages indoors and British sales of owls have noticeably risen.
Robert Sheckley has had a major illness while visiting the Ukraine (and not Russia as reported in some US science fiction press) with Roberto Quaglia in a dry run for next year's Eurocon in Kiev (not Moscow US press please note). Having attended a computer fayre cum SF event, one of whose organisers is running next year's Eurocon (of which news below) Bob went on to Odessa where he contracted a lung infection. He was hospitalised and transferred back to the capital Kiev. After a few weeks his health improved sufficiently to fly back to the US on a ventilator. His medical insurance did not cover all his costs but some Russians and the Ukrainians together with some other SF fans came to the rescue. (Bob is particularly well known in Eastern Europe and an 'anonymous' donor made a substantial and immediate contribution.) Those who are more closely involved with Concatenation's going's on will remember that Bob was a welcome GoH at the 1st International Week of Science & SF and he even encouraged the US magazine Fantasy & Science Fiction to contribute copies to the 2003 follow-up event of its May 2003 edition with his short story The Refuge Elsewhere that was inspired by his trip to Romania. However the great man is getting on so the pace at that event adjusted marginally. Consequently a couple of years on few will be surprised if he is unable to make next year's Eurocon. Our thoughts are with him. For further news and details of the health fund appeal check out the Sheckley site. According to the E. European press (RIA Novosti) " Sheckley's insurance company did not comment on the situation". Alas all this meant that Sheckley missed attending this year's SF Eurocon-Worldcon in Glasgow at which he would have been the principal SF (as opposed to fantasy or fan) Guest of Honour.
Sheckley latest +++ Subsequent to above Robert Sheckley was hospitalised at the end of June in New York and underwent heart surgery. He is recovering (and talking of a visit to Mexico). Correspondence and cards very much welcome, though understandably don't necessarily expect a reply, to Robert Sheckley, c/o Box 656, Pine Plains, NY 12567, United States of America.
Steven Spielberg gave himself room to manoeuvre as his summer adaptation of The War of the Worlds was released. He admitted that there were political messages that could be read into the story... Er... wasn't that what H. G. Wells intended? It is likely that Speilberg is sensitive to the growing unease in the US of the running sore that is Iraq but is unwilling to make too firm a public stand or alienate a proportion of his prospective audience. +++ There is also a new Wells documentary now out.
Sylvester Stallone has written a screenplay about the life of the 19th century fantastical author Edgar Allan Poe. Stallone is now reported to be financing the production of this film which he will also direct.
Jules Verne , commonly viewed as one of the two fathers of SF (the other being H. G. Wells) had his works celebrated by the French as this year marks the centenary of his death. There is a set of six stamps showing scenes from his stories. There was also an item marking this centenary at this year's Eurocon cum Worldcon and a new translation of The Green Ray is planned.
Jack Williamson celebrated his 97th birthday in April just after our post Easter bulletin was loaded. The occasion was marked with his family. In the summer he sent an e-mail to the Glasgow Euro-Worldcon with best wishes and news of a new book of his, The Stonehenge Gate.
The 2005 Interaction Eurocon-cum-Worldcon in Glasgow was a great success. A more detailed report can be found elsewhere on this site. The bottom line is that the 5-day event - with over a dozen parallel programme streams featuring a total of some 400 programme items (talks, films, panels, games, slide shows etc), art exhibition, dealers room, fan exhibition area & stalls, television SF stream and scores of authors, agents and editors went off well and at first light appears to have covered its costs. Turnout at some 4,100 could have been better (say over 5,000) but this has more to do with conveying a strategic sense of vision than the nuts and bolts of running a mega-event with surety, real ale and North American style evening parties. The science content was also very strong. Congratulations to the committee.
Interaction, being a Eurocon, there were the Eurocon Awards voted by 'delegates' from European countries at the European SF Society's second business meeting of the convention which was attended by over 100 people. That for once the formal UK delegates were both at least loosely associated with Concatenation but this neither here nor there as they represented only a tiny proportion of the voting potential. The winners were:-
- Best Author(s): Marina and Sergey Djachenko (Ukraine) who have also won Ukrainian awards and penetrated the Russian market.
- Best Artist: Sergey Poyarkov (Ukraine) whose artwork was clearly the best shown to the ESFS meeting and who will be the art Guest of Honour at next year's Eurocon.
- Best Publisher: Nature for Henry Gee's 'Futures' series of SF shorts (Great Britain). These are one-page shorts and frequently outstanding. A couiple of weeks later a Nature editorial acknowledge ESFS and the win.
- Best Magazine: Galaktika (Hungary). This title had died but is back, in full colour with some reasonable (though not outstanding) artwork. Though in Hungarian Anglophone authors' stories are also included as are short technology articles and adverts for fan events. This resurrection is an achievement considering the small Hungarian language market.
- Best Promoter: Alain le Bussy (Belgium). This award did not go for anything special Alain has done in the past year, rather his long-term contribution in providing a Franco-Anglo link not to mention with other European countries for fan activities.
- Best Translator: Kees van Toorn (Netherlands). As with Alain, Kees has contributed much for many years.
- Best Fanzine: This was not awarded this year. Irish SF News was briefly mentioned but, though worthy nationally, was not considered to have contributed outside Ireland's borders other than it has some non-Irish readers.
- Best Scriptwriter: This was not awarded this year. There were no nominations.
Interaction, being a Worldcon, there were the Hugo Awards for 'Science Fiction achievement'. These were voted in advance by between 400-600 registrants (depending on category). We have previously reported on the nominations, meanwhile the winners were:-
- Best Novel: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
- Best Novella: The Concrete Jungle by Charles Stross
- Best Novelette: The Faery Handbag by Kelly Link
- Best Short Story: Travels with My Cats by Mike Resnick
- Best Related Book: The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction
- Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: The Incredibles
- Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: "33" - Battlestar Galactica
- Best Professional Editor: Ellen Datlow
- Best Professional Artist: Jim Burns
- Best Semiprozine: Ansible
- Best Fanzine: Plokta
- Best Fan Writer: David Langford
- Best Fan Artist: Sue Mason
- Best Web Site: SciFiction
- John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (not a Hugo Award): Elizabeth Bear
- Special Interaction Committee Award (not a Hugo Award): David Pringle (former Interzone editor)
All of which means that statistically to have maximised your chances of winning a Hugo this year you needed to live in the SE of England and preferably in 'Reading' (appropriately enough for an award that mainly has 'written' SF categories). Some say that this is coincidence, but not Charles Fort.
Following the Hugo result announcement, the earlier nomination statistics (as opposed to the short list vote stats) were declared. It was then revealled that Terry Pratchett's Going Postal would have been nominated for 'Best Novel' but he declined the offer of it going forward onto the short list. Whatever his reason it is most laudable. Going Postal is a great work but one of pure fantasy and so not really appropriate for what the World SF Society describes the Hugo as in its constitution (1.2.1) as "Science Fiction Achievement Awards", even if in a later section works of fantasy are allowed, presumably to enable science-fantasy works to be eligible. Well done Terry.
In addition to the Hugos the following awards were also presented in Glasgow:
- James White Award: Elizabeth Hopkinson
- Big Heart Award : Walter Ernsting, John-Henri Holmberg, and Ina Shorrock
- First Fandom Hall of Fame Award: Big Hearted Howard DeVore.
Our congratulations to all and especially Ina who is one of a small band who has been active both in British SF fantastic film fandom and book fandom for decades.
The vote for the 2007 Eurocon took place at Interaction and despite an enthusiastic bid from Ireland the hands-down and predictable (51:16 of the ESFS national representatives' secret ballot) win went to Denmark. (Ireland could very easily win a future bid but its proposers really need to think 'Eurocon' and not a bigger version of their own national convention: the days when Eurocons were just larger versions of national conventions with a foreign guest thrown in for good measure are receding fast. Furthermore they shot themselves in the foot when saying that they would have a continental SF guest to attract continental Europeans, so demonstrating that they felt that they and the Irish locals would not be attracted with the inclusion of continentals. They did not seem to realise that the Eurocons are an attempt to bring people from all over Europe to meet a different local constituency each year and more importantly for that local constituency to meet their European counterparts. The Irish organisers need to understand this and plan their bid accordingly. If, in the future, the Irish can produce a bid with this clearly in mind, and some ideas as to how to realise this, then they would stand an excellent chance of winning.)
The Danes were the odds on favourite to win simply because they have been successfully running conventions that have had a strong international dimension for the past few years. They just need to do something for the Eastern Europeans and their event stands a good chance of being the best western European Eurocon in recent years. Denmark will be an expensive Eurocon (as would Ireland have been) hence the need to positively help some key Eastern European players attend. The hotel is likely to be £80 a night. Their convention will cover SF books, media, science and role-playing games. They have yet to firmly decide on a venue but a university city is likely and so they could perhaps adopt the Timisoara model for translation services (see below).
Markers were placed at this year's European SF Society meeting at Interaction for the 2008 Eurocon by both the Italians and the Russians.
The Italians proposed a European version of their national convention that usually attracts 300-400 in March. Because the nat con is usually held in a small town with a small venue their national convention is not very big. However a Eurocon will be different, so they propose moving to the city of Milan. It is proposed that half the programme items would be in English and half in Italian. Whether they will have a third of programme talks translated (as did Dortmund very successfully) and whether they will secure local university language students to shadow groups of three or four non-Italian visitors (as Timisoara successfully did so enabling the students to get free language practice and visitors a translator guide) remains to be seen.
The Russians are also enthusiastic. Again as with the Italians they will need to sort out translating services (and checking out the above Timisoara model would serve them and any other Eurocon bid well). Also like the Italians they propose having their convention early in the year in the midst of the harsh Moscow winter. Much was made of this at the ESFS business meeting and the need to buy sturdy boots. However a quasi-ESFS wash-up meeting a week after the convention considered that this was not a problem as everything will be on site and indoors. Aside from translation, the real problems will be in getting visas (Russian bureaucracy is notoriously difficult especially if one wants to stay on elsewhere for site seeing) and in identifying and informing prospective non-Russian con-goers of a number of trivial difficulties that can become significant to those concerned. For example travelling from Moscow airport to the city late at night after public transport shuts down is not advised due to horrendous lone-shark taxis. Also returning to the airport if you phone for a taxi then it will cost £9 (US$15) but hailing a cab off the street could easily cost £50 (US$80). So you can see that if you are not properly informed that life can get very expensive. However on the plus side the Russian SF market is a giant far bigger than the combined Anglophone (British Commonwealth and US amalgamated) market, it is just that the unit margins and author royalties are lower. Russian cons are also renowned for their alcohol and don't ever try to claim to be able to hold your own unless you have a liver on stand-by. Economically the plus point for any Russian bid is that the cost of accommodation for the 3-day convention is likely to total £60 (US$100) for all nights and food.
Next year's Eurocon bidding session should be exciting.
Eurocon 2009. There was a tentative proposal from the Hungarians to hold the 2009 Eurocon in Budapest. This would be hosted jointly with the Hungarian national convention. However the Hungarian national convention is used to having non-Hungarian guest authors. Indeed the 2003 natcon had both a western SF writer but also actor Patrick Stewart so catering for literary and media SF. Locals tend to book for the convention a day at a time with between 100 and 150 attending any one day. Numbers could well be double for a Hungarian Eurocon. Translation could be a problem, but the idea of adopting the Timisoara model was briefly mooted. (As per above, this is where the organisers arrange with the local university to have some foreign language students provide guides/translators for groups of three or four non-Hungarian visitors. The visitors provide coffee and refreshments during the day. The student provides a translation/guide service. The student gets to talk with native speakers of the language s/he are studying for a few days. Everyone wins.) If the Hungarians can announce such an arrangement early on then this is likely to attract non-Hungarian speaking fandom. Of course much depends on whether they firm up their tentative pre-bid proposal.
Eurocon 2006's Progress Report 1 is now out. And now that the problem of this year's dry run (the elderly guest became ill - see below) it is all hands to the organising pump. The art guest is Sergey Pyarkov whose SUV, gun-toting 'lifestyle' image fails to convey that the man has real talent as demonstrated by the mini one-minute exhibition at this year's Eurocon business meeting by Boris Sidyuk won him a Eurocon Award. (Boris' pitch was simple: 'Just look.') Ellen Datlow and Eileen Gunn are among the Eurocon's special guests and (announced later) Harry Harrison is a Guest of Honour. The Progress Report also features a map of Kiev city centre, convention venue and hotels: all look admirable. Parallel to, but separate from, the Eurocon will be a film festival and also a computer fayre. It being its 20th anniversary, a day or two prior to the Eurocon will see a coach trip to Chernobyl (which means you also get to see much Ukrainian countryside) for around $100 (£65). This means that a good trip would be for folk to arrive either Monday or Tuesday April 10th or 11th 2006 for the Chernobyl trip either Tuesday or Wednesday (depending on what the organisers decide) and a day of site seeing and orientation in Kiev before the convention which begins on Thursday 13th. It ends midday Sunday 16th in good time for afternoon flights home and convention teardown in the afternoon. If you are interested in the pre-convention Chernobyl trip then e-mail info[-at-]eurocon[dot]kiev[dot]ua so that he has an idea of numbers. The Chernobyl energy and environment theme will form one strand of the Eurocon programme. Further news will be announced on the www.Eurocon.kiev.ua and of course as usual covered in this seasonal news column.
Worldcon 2008: There was no Worldcon venue vote this year due to 2003 changes in the World SF Society constitution from three-year in advance bidding to two-year in advance. However all Interaction members will be eligible to vote next year to choose the site for 2008 even if they are not going to next year's Worldcon in Los Angles (so if you went to Interaction keep your membership number safe).
There was a proposal to split the Hugo Award 'Professional Editor' category into two. One award would be for magazine editors and the other for book editors. The reason for this is that book editors have only been awarded this Hugo three times (Terry Carr twice (one of which was posthumous) and Judy-Lynn Del Ray (again posthumously). Indeed Judy-Lynn's husband refused the award on the grounds that Judy-Lynn should have been honoured with the Hugo while alive. While many may understandably sympathise with this view, the Hugo remains (largely along with the Locus Award) an expression of SF fan appreciation. However here at Concat we have had many times to put up with Jonathan and Tony (and occasionally Simon and Graham) gasping when the Hugo short-list has been announced for 'Best Novel' while the short story category seems to be a contest largely restricted to stories of variable quality from half a dozen magazines or 100% fantasy works winning the 'SF achievement' award (which regulars know we have discussed before). The hurdle the proposers (Chris Barkley and Patrick Nielsen Hayden) had to overcome was to convince Worldcon fandom that it is worth splitting the small pool of a score or so magazine and book editors into even smaller two groups. Furthermore, the actual contribution a book editor makes to an author's work varies and is between the author and editor (not the reader). Additionally, while a Best Novel Hugo winner on a book's cover may encourage sales, a Best Book Editor is unlikely to affect an editor's professional reputation. [Historic note: The 'Professional Editor' Hugo category used to be 'Professional Magazine' back in 1972 and earlier.]
In the end the business meeting proposed that the Best Editor Hugo be split into long and short forms that would presumably relate to book and magazines. This proposal was voted for by a substantial majority, but still has to be ratified at next year's business meeting. So the debate continues for a year to the amusement of many a book editor, most of whom (and there aren't that many) seem currently to be keeping fairly quiet or arguing against the new category. (Does this debate have a pro-fan divide?) Meanwhile editors of the rising popular SF magazines seem to be ignored... Nuff said.
A detailed 2005 Interaction Eurocon-cum-Worldcon report can be found here.
An SF cryptic teaser was circulated by us at Glasgow's Interaction. In case you want to have a go here it is...
1) What have the following three in common? Ditmar, Eisner, and Hugo.
2) The subject of this question is to work out which of the above three is the odd one out?
3) You have to decide in this question which of the above three is the odd one out?
4) Thinking globally, which of the above three is the odd one out?
5) Professionally speaking which is the odd one out?
Clue: The answers to 2 and 3 are the same while 1, 4 and 5 are different. The answers are below. Alternatively you could order up a copy of Essential SF: A Concise Guide.
The 2003 Worldcon, Torcon 3, has announced it is returning programme participants' registration fees. The Torcon accounts have been reported as being a "mess". Over a year and a half after the event they now feel able to return programme participants' registration fees. This practice is common among North American Worldcons, not so in Europe. More importantly, how long it will be before the final accounts are published remains uncertain.
Next year's 2006 Worldcon will be L. A.Con IV in Anaheim, California. It promises to include SF and science, and importantly SF in both its written and visual (both cinematic and televisual) forms, all catered for in over 600 programme items. That is possibly more than this year's Interaction in Glasgow. It promises to be quite a bash.
Further to, see Japan winning the 2007 Worldcon bid and last season's Guest news the Japanese were on form at Glasgow Interaction. In addition to a lively room party (see the separate more detailed Interaction report) they manned a large stall in the fan exhibition hall. Nippon merchandise was expensive (such as £8 for a small promotional shoulder bag) so possibly reflecting Japanese cost of living prices. However given that the Japanese Worldcon could be one of the first Worldcon that have non-English completely out-number English speakers, and given the expense and distance, the Japan team get brownie points for trying to encourage attendance. However major points go to SF fans Val and Ron Otell who are organising a four or five day tour of Japan. Their flier does not day whether this is before (so combining with Japanese culture orientation) or after the convention. However you can find out by mailing them at val [at] ontell.org.
There are three bids to host the 2008 Worldcon. As previously noted, because we have just moved to two year bidding for Worldcons, there was no Worldcon-bid vote at this year's Interaction, and the vote for 2008 will be administered by next year's (2006) Worldcon in Los Angeles. And, again as previously noted, Interaction members will be able to vote albeit that the options for host nation are (again) restricted to the United States, the US, and the US of A. This, it has to be said for many this side of the Pond, makes very little difference provided that the hosting city has a transatlantic airport. (Columbus loses points on this score, and for Europeans Chicago travel will be cheaper). For the very few planning to stay on a few days to explore the State then there is this local tourist criterion. (Natural scientists, ramblers and mountaineers may find the Denver, at the foot of the Rocky's highest area, have the edge, but how many Worldcon go-ers are mountaineers, ramblers or natural scientists?)
The Columbus 08 bid sees a team with a lengthy track record of regional (for the US hence equivalent to European national) convention organising. It's east of centre, Ohio, location makes it attractive to east coast fans, and it is 50 miles or so from where the Wright brothers made the World's second flight with a heavier than air machine (and the first one in which the pilot survived). The Columbus team in various guises have made a few attempts to attract the Worldcon to Columbus. Could this be their time?
The Chicago 08 bid sees a team brought together across the US including some Canadian conrunners and with a fair bit of conrunning experience between them. Chicago has seen the Worldcon three times in the past 25 years so the venue is suited and known.
The Denver 08 bid plans a gathering of the clans type convention that brings together the literary and visual dimension of the genre and will rely in grass roots fandom to do their own thing. Denver has not had a Worldcon for 24 years though has held it twice before. What's new is that Denver's convention centre has recently been expanded.
Markers are already being placed for the 2009 Worldcon. There are, so far, two bids: one for the US and one for Canada. Assuming no other bid becomes manifest before Japan 2007 (at which the vote for 2009 will take place), then much of the criteria will be weighted towards which nation's turn it is. By then the US will have had a Worldcon in 2004, 2006 and 2008 so some might argue (in-keeping with the long-term average of the US hosting two out of three Worldcons) that it will be the US's turn. Conversely others might say that as the US would have had the Worldcon every other year (so embarking on a new long-term trend of only having it alternate years) then it would be Canada's turn. Clearly much depends on how international an event Worldcon regulars want the Worldcon to be. Those of us this side of the Pond will have less of a stake as many will see both as a North American convention (probably much to the annoyance to our Commonwealth cousins). However the Canadian bid will have slightly lower travel costs but this might be countered by the lower US dollar?
The Kansas 09 bid is reasonably strong, it is centrally located and so equally easy (or difficult) to get to from the east and west coasts. Kansas also held the Worldcon back in 1976 with some 3,000 physically attending. The venue presumably can hold the 5-6,000 needed these days.
The Montreal 09 bid has the convention facilities, the air connections and road link to the east coast US. However its strength is also its weakness of not being a US bid. Consequently issues such as memory of Toronto (2004) (which many traditional Worldcon goers did not like) may become pertinent. Also there is the question as to whether US regulars will be put off by Quebec being bi-lingual (English and a variant of French). This last is far less of a problem to Europeans (other than the French) and is actually a plus as a good proportion of Europeans speak either a little English and/or French.
The 2009 vote will be interesting.
There is one marker already down for 2010 and that is for Australia. Australia has had the Worldcon the last two times in 1985 and 1999, so some may well say that 2010 is about right for another Australasian Worldcon. These two Australian Worldcons were small with about 1,500 attending but reasonably successful. Nonetheless, one wonders whether the Australian team are going to see if they can build in the potential flexibility for a 2,500 Worldcon. Another factor may be whether Montreal wins 2009 as which country's perceived turn it is may become a major factor all other things being equal: witness the Japan 2007 win.
There is even a Worldcon bid for Washington DC 2011. However this is so far ahead as to not really worth worrying about for a few years.
Notwithstanding the above, following Interaction there was talk of Glasgow or Brighton for 2012. Discussion of a possible Brit bid before the dust had settled on Interaction was no doubt due to the enthusiasm generated by that event: though notably most of Interaction's key players have not (to our knowledge) contributed to this discussion (probably too tired or sane). Having said this Europe needs to put a marker down in the next two or three years if Europe is to see a Worldcon without a decadal gap. For this reason we report this bit of scuttlebutt.
NOTE: For links to Worldcon bid websites check out the Worldcon bid page.
FANDOM &: OTHER NEWS
Kiev, April 14-17, saw Portal 2005, an SF convention held as a distinct part of Iograd 2005, Kiev's 3rd Fantastic Computer Week. Robert Sheckley (US) attended as did SF writers Andrzej Sapkowski (Poland) and Sergy Lukyanenko (Russia). As such Portal 2005 could be considered a dry run for next year's Eurocon. Unfortunately, shortly after, elderly Robert Sheckley took ill while visiting Odessa. Sheckley has been well-known in Eastern Europe and was Guest of Honour at the First International Week of Science & SF and was originally scheduled one of the Guests at this year's Eurocon cum Worldcon in Glasgow.
Norwescon this year (March) was another success, ably steered by the Chair, Shawn Marier, with some 3,000 attending in Washington, US. The GoHs were Michael Bishop, Suzette Elgin, Alan Dean Foster, Stephen Hickman and Tom Doherty, plus Science Guest Suzette Halden. Highlights included the presentation of this year Philip K. Dick Award which was won by Britain's Gwyneth Jones for Life and attended by 4 of the 7 nominated but alas (for understandable reasons) not those nominated from the UK including the winner. The Special Achievement Award went to Lyda Morehouse for Apocalypse Array.
Of special interest to Concateneers the Science Programme featured 'The History of Our Universe in 60 Minutes or Less' by Eric Schulman, Michael Laine's 'Space Elevator Demonstration (the view was great), as was Pat MacEwan's global warming talk.
The Art Exhibition saw a few initial hiccoughs but other exhibits carried matters early on including one from Seattle's Science Fiction Museum.
Parties of note included: Biohazard's (no, not our Tony's (cf. his 1980-90s fanzines)), which was smoky, fairly loud music, and with copious booze; Dethcon's, which despite its name was quieter and less smoky; Belters, quiet, some munchies and soft drinks; Geeks Without Borders, with its schoolgirl outfits and loud music.
The Fancy Dress saw Lance Ikegawa win the 'Best in Show' category for both the 'Presentation' Awards and the 'Workmanship' Awards for 'Life is War'. Ditto Julia Clayton, 'Master' Awards for both categories for 'Faim Animale', but she trumped this with another win in the 'Single Pattern' Awards for the 'Judges' Choice' for her 'Victorian Riding Jacket'. The Fanzine Library was as usual run by R'kandar (Dara) Korra'ti with a couple of score of print zines and some electronic including the one and only Science Fact & Fiction Concatenation. She also edited the convention's daily newsletter called Iteration, issue no. 2 of which caused one wag to mention that that edition should have been called 'Re-iteration'.
Quotes overheard during the event included: 'If women can get breast implants, maybe I can get a backbone'; 'I'm actually going to sell myself this year'; 'What time is midnight?' (which actually is not quite as daft as it sounds as a day is longer than 24 hours and also bearing in mind the turn of the millennium year debate); 'My liver wants to go home now'; 'I'm having a paradigm shift without a clutch'; and evidently Trekkies were present drawing the following, 'Ew, it's a Borg frenching a Romulan' (perhaps too much information).
Next year's Norwescon 29 will see Guests include: Lois McMaster Bujold (author), Donato Giancola (artist), Betsy Wolheim and Sheila Gilbert (both representing DAW publishers), and the event's toastmaster Robert Sawyer (author). The theme will be journeys, adventures and quests of fantastic fiction.
Heinlein's 100. - Thousands of fans and SF personalities gathered July to mark 100 years since Heinlein's birth. The Heinlein Centennial Convention took place in July in Kansas.
An International Science Fiction Conference, for 9-11 December 2005, is being organized by the Indian Association for Science Fiction Studies at Mysore city, Karnataka state, India. The conference theme will be 'Information Science & Technology, Science and Science Fiction and Fantasy'. The venue is appropriately the Centre for Information Science & Technology, University of Mysore. The organizers are also arranging site-seeing opportunities. Mysore is 180 km (6-8 hours by road) from Mangalore Bajpe Airport (which itself connects to Bangalore Airport). Attendance (including food and accommodation) for the three days is £120. For more details contact: kspsf[-at-]yahoo.com, or sciencefiction_India[-at-]yahoo.com or alternatively Dr Srinarahari, General Secretary, Indian Association for Science Fiction Studies, #3293, 21A Main, II Stage, Vijayanagar, Mysore -570 017, Karnataka State, India.
It is hoped that the first Euroclarion will be held in 2007. This is further to last time's news of plans to bring a version of the US writers workshop to Europe. Those behind this move includes writers: Pat Cadigan, Gwyneth Jones, Justina Robson, and Geoff Ryman. The original US Clarion was begun in 1968 by Damon Knight.
The Big Apple Comic-Con (June) had the greatest array of Batman creators ever assembled with free Batman comics for all. The Big Apple is NYC's largest and longest running comic book and popular arts convention; its been going for about a decade now. Batman creators spanning the years, from every era: the 40's beginning with Bob Kane, 50's and 60's camp, the Shadow of the Dark Knight 70's, to current illustrators, attended.
Octocon - Ireland's national convention - announced Charles Stross as its Guest of Honour. Other guests include a number of regulars: Michael Carroll, Roger Gregg, Harry Harrison, Anne McCaffrey, Juliet E. McKenna, Michael Scott, and John Vaughan. Octocon takes place in the Glenroyal Hotel, Maynooth (10 miles east of Dublin), 15 - 16th October, 2005.
An Anime convention EirtaKon will be held at Dublin City University on Collins Avenue, Dublin 9, 11 - 13th November. There will be six screens of anime.
More Irish news at: slovobooks.com.
The British Fantasy Society occasionally hold open evenings in a central London pub. There is one scheduled for the 2nd December, the venue to be confirmed, see the BFS web page.
FILM, GRAPHIC NOVEL + TV NEWS
New SF film fest in the US announced. Yes the UK has had one and a half decades of the Festival of Fantastic Films and half a decade of the Sci Fi London fest, and now there is to be one for SF shorts in the US. Run jointly by the SF Museum and the Seattle International Film Fest. Here an SF short is defined as 12 minutes or less. They are also running a competition and entries will be welcome up to 1st November 2005. Chosen entries will be screened at their fest in Seattle 3rd - 4th February 2006.
British Independent TV (ITV)celebrates its 50th anniversary with stamps. ITV was the first rival to the BBC TV channel. Of genre interest one of the stamps is dedicated to the series The Avengers. A celebration pack is available from the Royal Mail for £3.50.
The former SF & horror Brit film makers, Hammer, would have been 50 years old this year. The anniversary is marked by a new book.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire will be simultaneously released 18th November to both conventional and giant screen Imax theatres.
The film of V For Vendetta will be released in November. A new edition of the graphic novel will be released.
Serenity's October film release will also see a companion book.
The Wallace & Gromitt: The Curse of the Were-rabbit's October release sees a behind the scenes companion book.
Further to last time , the film version of Dick's A Scanner Darkly may be delayed to next year... But there is a nifty book on Dick's media adaptations coming out.
A Dr Who Christmas special is confirmed by BBC controller of drama, Jane Tranter. She also is reported as saying that Billie Piper will remain with the series for the entirety of the follow-up series. Subsequently there has been confirmation of this second series. This is further to the last time's Dr Who news of the commissioning of a second 13-part series. Captain (John Barrowman) Jack is slated to return midway through the second series which begins early in 2006. Further news over the summer is that there are now plans for a third series and another Christmas special - this last has since been confirmed.
Dr Who kids' suitability: BBC back down. Kids under 8 are no longer advised against watching Dr Who now that the BBC say its up to parents. This follows around just 60 complaints received over the Dickensian ghostly episode 3 which attracted an 8.9 million audience. This is a high UK terrestrial viewing figure and only slightly down over the estimated 10.5 million that tuned in for the series re-launch reported last time.
Further to last time's Dr Who Ecclestone news, David Tennant is to be the new Dr Who. Tennant has in the past provided a voice for a Who character and early in the summer wowed UK beeb audiences with his portrayal of (the young) Cassanova. He was seen briefly at the end of last episode of the current series.
Dr Who is doing very well with our North American Commonwealth cousins who have made a six-part documentary of the series. The Canadian Broadcasting Company documentary features bona fide SF writers including Robert Sawyer: well they are bound to go for the locals and Robert has a certain commercial appeal. The question is when will we see it here in Europe. Come on Auntie.
Before the last episode of the recent Dr Who series was screened the 3 Who novelizations sold 37,000 copies. The reference book Dr Who: Monsters and Villains sold more than 9,000 copies by the series' end.
More news of the 2nd series of the new Dr Who to be aired in the coming Spring. First, it will guest feature Anthony Stewart Head (the watcher in Buffy). More importantly this will be in an episode that sees the return of Sarah Jane Smith (played by Elisabeth Sladen) who was first seen with the Jon Pertwee Doctor and then Tom Baker. She left the TV show in 1982 but reappeared in BBC radio episodes with Pertwee in 1993 and 1996. Finally the Doctor will also be re-united with K-9 which will have the original voice of John Leeson.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith grossed a record US$303 million (£170m) in the first four days of its Worldwide release in 115 nations. As such it beat the previous record of 2003's The Matrix Reloaded's US$134.3 (£79.6m) in its four-day opening. If you have not seen it yet, it is better than 1 and 2 (the 4th and 5th films) but does not have the sense of epic that the first (1970-80s) trilogy had.
The Hollywood film version of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy had to get permission from Alta Vista to use the term 'Babel fish' which it apparently registered. Douglas Adams' biographer Mike (Simo) Simpson told Ansible (June) but the permission did not extend to the DVD extras. Mike Simpson also expressed disappointment in the film (just in time to put off some of theConcat team having a group outing to the flicks).
The War of the Worlds Spielberg film has an H.G. Wells spin-off documentary. H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds: 100 Years of Terror is available from Goldhil Home Entertainment.
This autumn's King Kong movie is as close to a remake of the 1933 original with a 1930s setting as is possible. The trailer is now online.
The Island website (www.theisland-themovie.com) promoting this autumn's SF movie is recommended by the Guardian. The government is secretly cloning people on this island for nefarious purposes. Namely the clones are grown of wealthy people as spare organ parts. The clones are told that they are in a protective base and that they are survivors of a global disaster. When a bug crawls in from the outside one begins to suspect. The film is more of a thriller adventure than a serious SF exploration of the topic. It is though rather fun.
The brothers (who did the summer's version of The Undead zombie movie) Peter and Michael Spierig's next film will be a fresh take on vampires. Daybreakers' premise 'apparently' is that its a couple of decades hence and the vampires have come out of hiding. In fact they lead suburban lives. It is humans who are on the decline and are hunted. The problem is that without fresh blood a vampire loses immortality and becomes a human. If this happens, as they say, the hunter becomes the hunted. It's a kind of take on Matheson's excellent novel I am Legend (1954) that was recently re-printed. As such Daybreakers joins three or four wild film takes on that novel, the most famous probably being The Omega Man. Filming begins in 2006 for a 2007 release.
The proposed film adaptation of the Watchmen graphic novel has been dropped. The all-too familiar development hell outcome is apparently due to changes in the senior executive at the studio who did not feel comfortable about this film whose budget has been reported to have been around US$100 million.
The 1960's Irwin series Time Tunnel is being updated for Sci Fi Channel. It is to be aired as part of their 2005/6 season and produced with Fox Television Studios and Kevin Burns and Jon Jashni of Synthesis Entertainment. Allen's wife, Shelia Allen, will produce. It better have a good SF story arc.
Blade is to become a TV series. The vampire hunting comic hero and film series is to transfer to the small screen. It is being produced by the Batman Begins scriptwriter David Goyer who is also behind the new SF series Threshold. 13 episodes of 45-minutes each of Blade have apparently been commissioned
The other sub-sections within SF News above to which you can jump are: SF Book Trade News; R.I.P.; Major SF Author and Artist News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom; and Film, Graphic Novel + TV News.
[SF News | Forthcoming Science Fiction Book releases | Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror | Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction | Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins and Computer Games| Last Quarter's Science News Summary]
Horizon Storms by Kevin J. Anderson, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-743-43067-0. The paperback release of the third instalment - following on from Hidden Empire and A Forest of Stars - in 'The Saga of the Seven Suns' series. Kev Anderson is shaping up nicely to be a somewhat less prolific Lionel Fanthorpe for the early 21st century, demonstrating that a market for pulp is alive and well. He has also written X-Files books.
Scattered Suns by Kevin J. Anderson, Simon & Schuster, trd pbk, £10.99. ISBN 0-7743-275446. This is the fourth book in the 'Seven Suns' series. Well you've seen our reviews linked to the previous entry above, so here are some quotes from others from the book's publicity blurb: 'Stands head and shoulders above most others in the genre' - Alien Online; 'Sure-footed, suspenseful and tragic... an exhilarating experience' - Locus; 'Well-thought-out-ideas' - SFX; 'Space opera to rival the best the field has ever seen' - SF Chronicle. Not surprisingly the first in the series has now sold 27,000 copies... So, for those of you who read it, who was right?
Capacity by Tony Ballantyne, Tor, pbk, £10.99. ISBN 1-405-04140-4. Human life is being watched by 'the Watcher' who may well be on the murderous side...
The Algebraist, by Iain Banks, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 1-841-49229-9. This is the paperback release of last year's hardback. (Click on the title for the review.) The bad news for purists is that Orbit have changed the formerly brilliant cover adding stars - bit like the BBC did for the first ever UK screening of 2001.
Transcendent by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, pbk, £10.99. ISBN 0-575-07431-0. This is the conclusion of Destiny's Children. Other Baxter titles reviewed on this site include: Coalescent, Origin , Moonseed, Space, Time,Titan, Traces, and Vacuum Diagrams.
The Healer by Michael Blumlein, Pyr, hdbk, US$25 (~£15), ISBN 1-591-02314-9. This came out back in July so by rights this should have been in our last summer listing, but Pyr is a US firm (we tend to get better advance coverage of our home UK firms). However they are worth special attention as they seem to be releasing some damn fine books. UK bookshops and readers can get Pyr publications from Lavis Marketing of Oxford. Anyway, our first impressions of The Healer is that it is another great offering. 'The Healer' in question is ironically called 'Payne' and is an offshoot of humanity called 'Grotesques' or 'Tesques' and he is one of a small minority of these who in turn have healing powers that make them a commodity. This is in fact more science fantasy than science fiction let alone hard SF which by rights should be The Science Fact & Fiction Concat's focus, but Blumlein is a clinician who is still active today. The SF author and professional synergies here are obvious. Blumlein also has a respectable past biblio. Stand-by for a full review.
The Steel Claw: The Vanishing Man, by Ken Bulmer & Jesus Blasco, Titan Books, hdbk, £14.99. ISBN 1-845-76156-1. This B&W graphic novel is a 'must buy' for anyone seriously into SF and SF graphic novels. The Steel Claw was a character nearly every British 1960s schoolboy knew from the comic Valiant. Meanwhile Ken Bulmer was an established SF writer whose peak period was the mid-1950s through to the end of the 1960s. Basic set up: A lab experiment goes wrong (don't they always) and Louis Crandel finds that when is mechanical steel hand gets charges with electricity he goes all invisible. What mischief could he do? He was the classic anti-hero who sometimes did the right thing for the right people. This volume comes complete with an introductory article. Highly recommended for comics buffs and SF cognoscenti.
The Absolute at Large by Karel Capek with additional material by Stephen Baxter, University of Nebraska Press, pbk, £10.95. 0-803-26459-3. A new invention releases vast amounts of near-free energy but also something else. One consequence is war... OK, now bear with us on this. University of Nebraska Press unlike most UK publishers don't have Concatenation in their promotional sights (which is fine because we have a decided UK and European focus). However they have been promoting this title in the UK book trade but the message has become confused. Consequently some bookshops may have this as by "Karl Capek" on their database and with Baxter co-cited as a full-blown co-author. Actually we think this is a new release of the Czech author's 1927 novel with additional material by Baxter. Collectors will be most interested in this release.
Shadow of the Giant by Orson Scott Card, Orbit, £17.99. ISBN 1-841-49205-1. This continues the "parallel to the 'Ender' saga" that began with Ender's Game. Card has definitely wrung a lot out of these series but, though offering little new, even these later books are rather fun. See Ender's Shadow.
Sunstorm by A. C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, hdbk, £12.99. ISBN 0-575-07531-7. The sequel to Time's Eye which was separately reviewed by Jonathan and Tony. (Also by Clarke and Baxter The Light of Other Days.)
Marker by Robin Cook, Pan Macmillan, hdbk, £17.95. ISBN 0-333-90285-8. Two medical doctors become a tad suspicious when otherwise healthy patients start dieing for not apparent reason... Cook (if you did not know it) has a reputation for SF medical thrillers.
Babylon Babies by Maurice G. Dantec & Noura Wedell, Semiotext (e), pbk, £12.95. ISBN 1-584-35023-7. A mutant embryo is designed to be a GM messiah.
Mary and the Giant by Philip K. Dick, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 0-575-07466-3. Small-town America is uncovered in this one of Dick's mainstream novels. The man is as perceptive as ever.
The Mammoth Book of Best SF no. 18 edited by Gardner Dozois, Robinson, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 1-845-529116-6. See our reviews of no. 16 and no. 17.
Against Gravity by Gary Gibson, Tor, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 1-405-03446-7. This is Gibson's first book so as yet we know not what he is like. Check the guy out.
9 Tail Fox by Tom Courtney Grimwood, Gollancz, hdbk, £12.99. ISBN 0-575-07615-1. Reportedly this is a mix of organised crime, Chinese folklore and medical technology. Could Grimwood be doing for medicine and China what Ian McDonald did for artificial intelligence and India? Whatever, we like him. (See our previous reviews of: Effendi, Felaheen and Pashazade.)
Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton, Pan Macmillan, hdbk, £18.99. ISBN 1-405-00036-8. See also Mispent Youth.
Extinction by Ray Hammond, Pan, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-33048596-2. Future international disaster thriller with echoes of SF tropes. (See also Emergence.)
Classic Dan Dare: Prisoners of Space by Frank Hampson, Titan Books, pbk, £14.99. ISBN 1-845-76151-0. This Eagle comic character was a British icon of comic book space opera in the 1960s. Imagine if the Royal Air Force types of World War II had subsequently gone into space. Fortunately Dan Dare seems to get reprinted about once a decade, but don't bank on this continuing into the future. So if you have not already got this then don't miss this opportunity. The artwork is colourful by gum. (See also our reviews of Dan Dare: Operation Saturn and Dan Dare: Voyage to Venus pt.1.)
Dean Koontz's Frankenstein (2): City of the Night by Dean Koontz, HCP, pbk, £5.99. ISBN 0-007-20312-8. Does what it says on the tin.
The Wave Theory of Angels by Alison MacLeod, hdbk, £15.99. ISBN 0-241-14261-X. Now you may miss this one as it is not being marketed as sf/fantasy, so just as we alerted you to Niffenger's The Time Traveller's Wife last year, you might want to see if Angels has legs. Apparently this is a mix of history, poetry and metaphysics that links two time-periods: 13th century France and a 21st century physics lab in Chicago. In both periods there is a young lady called 'Christina'.
Mind's Eye by Paul McAuley, Simon & Schuster, hdbk, £12.99/ trd pbk, £10.99. ISBNs 0-743-23887-7 and 0-743-23888-5 respecively. Following White Devils, McAuley is decidedly drifting from outright SF and into thriller land, nonetheless his blend of SF and thriller has its appeal (and this is certainly not techno-thriller land). Alfie was instantly traumatised on glimpsing one of his father's secret papers and this left him occasionally prone to epileptic fits. Years later and he sees some graffiti in London containing graphics that have an effect mildly similar to that in his (now 'disappeared') dad's document. The graffiti is tagged 'Morph' and so he decides to track him down. It is a trail that leads to the Middle East and some ancient caves. Someone has learned how to tap into the human primal psyche. For more read the review. Other McAuley reviews include: Pasquale's Angel, Red Dust and The Secret of Life, and White Devils.
Learning the World by Ken Macleod, Orbit, hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 1-841-49343-0. Alas we have no information ion this one. However we have reviewed Ken before. See: The Cassini Division, Cosmonaut Keep, Dark Light, The Sky Road, The Star Fraction, and The Stone Canal.
Looking for Jake by China Mieville, Macmillan, hdbk, £16.99. ISBN 1-405-04830-1. The man comes highly recommended, though none of Concat's core team have read him (yet).
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore & David Lloyd, Titan Books, trd pbk, hdbk, £24.99. ISBN 1-845-76182-0. A new hardback edition of the classic colour graphic novel about a future totalitarian Britain and a one-man vigilante with hinted at powers. If you missed it before and enjoy the November film version then get this - it will be better.
Woken Furies by Richard Morgan, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-575-07652-6. This is the paperback release of the Spring hardback. We have previously reviewed his Altered Carbon and Broken Angels.
Tales of the Future by Jayant Narlikar, Witness Books (India), pbk, Rs. 250, ~£7.99 (depends on import price). ISBN 8-188-93800-9. This is a collection of short stories. Science fiction books in India are quite rare. Not surprisingly Jayant Narlikar has had contact with the west and was for a while an astronomer working with Fred Hoyle. Nonetheless this is SF for an Indian market by an Indian and so represents a fairly unique opportunity for a different take on the genre. Though we encourage non-western SF (pardon the term but you follow the drift) there is little point listing it if it cannot be purchased. However Witness Books have a UK and US distributor contact in the form of Cheryl Morgan at Emerald City.
Project Alpha by L. P. Newham, Book Guild, hdbk, £16.95. ISBN 1-857-76922-8. Two men train as an elite assassin team and sent on a secret mission to space...
Gene by Stel Pavlou, Simon & Schuster, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-743-40385-1. A New York policeman is asked for by a hostage-taker by name. The detective gets injected and gets nightmares of his past; a past 3,000 years long!
The Brightonomicon by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, hdbk, £9.99. ISBN 0-575-07009-9. Zany science fantasy from an author whose absurd humour will either irritate or delight: and given his sales he tends to do the latter. If he is new to you then do give the book a good try as it only tends to begin to hang together and for some of the absurdities to find a logical place in the 'plot' well over half-way through. Some may classify this as fantasy but Rankin always seems to have some SF tucked away so let's call this science-fantasy. Here the streets of Brighton (UK) form zodiacal-type constellations and so are of commensurate significance. Regulars will delight in the return of some old characters, or even young ones... Enough of this toot.
Knees up Mother Earth by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-575-07649-6. This paperback of last year's hardback is definitely on firmer SF ground and is in fact a prequel to the 'Brentford' trilogy (of more than 3 books), and its famous 2nd book The Brentford Triangle, that got Rankin going way back in 1982. Assuming Gollancz re-release this last title and the Antipope, then this could be a good introduction to Rankin as the first books are less zany. (If you like the Goons' punning and Monty Python/Douglas Adams absurdities then there is a good chance you'll love Rankin. If not you might find him a little childish - you old fogy.)
Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, hdbk £14.99. ISBN 0-575-074388. Reynolds' latest is another dark and cutting space opera. Should do well.(See also our other reviews of his: Chasm City, Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, Redemption Ark and Revelation Space.)
Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-575-07691-7. The paperback release of last autumn's hardback. Hard SF noir type thriller space opera of the sort we generally like and our Tony seems to go for. (See Chasm City, Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, Redemption Ark and Revelation Space).
Origin in Death by J. D. Robb, Piatkus Books, pbk, £10.99. ISBN 0-749-93583-9. The adventures of the futuristic detective Eve Dallas continue.
Living Next Door to the God of Love by Justina Robson, Pan Macmillan, hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 1-405-02116-0. A follow-up to Natural History. We've previously reviewed Mappa Mundi and so think that this could do reasonably well.
Air by Geoff Ryman, Gollancz, hdbk, £14.99. ISBN 0-575-07697-6. Ryman's books vary considerably in style, but not necessarily quality which is usually of a high standard. So much depends on how broad is your reading church as to whether you will like this. Air has already come out in the US and we understand it to be one of his harder SF works (which should be welcome to Science & SF Concateneers).
The Hanged Man's Song by John Sandford, Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-743-49218-8. A friend disappears from cyberspace and turns up murdered in the real world. Meanwhile this victim's laptop has gone missing that contains material that could incriminate his friends. And then the situation gets bigger than anyone imagined...
Accelerando by Charles Stross, Orbit, hdbk, £16.99. ISBN 1-841-49390-2. One of this year's Hugo nominees, reasonably new author Charles Stross has demonstrated that Brit hard SF is still rock solid. Stross tends to combine his hard SF with space opera laced with a dash of humour. See our review of Singularity Sky.
Double Vision by Tricia Sullivan, Time Warner, trdpbk, £10.99. ISBN 1-841-49337-6. A previous review on this site of her work is that of Maul.
The Green Ray by Jules Verne, Luath press, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 1-905-22212-2. This new translation marking 100 year's of Verne's death provides an opportunity for those who have yet to see this title.
The Orthodox War by Walter Jon Williams, Simon & Schuster, trd pbk, £10.99. ISBN 0-743-25677-8. Space opera in which the events in The Praxis and The Sundering are concluded.
In depth reviews of fiction books can be found off the reviews index.
[SF News | Forthcoming Science Fiction Book Releases | Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror | Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction | Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins and Computer Games | Last Quarter's Science News Summary]
Children of the Serpent Gate by Sarah Ash, Bantam press, pbk, £10.99. ISBN 0-593-04985-3. The last in the 'Tears of Artamon' trilogy.
The City of the Newborn by James Barclay, Gollancz, pbk, £10.99. ISBN 0-575-07620-8. A world is about to discover the wonder, and the terror, of magic.
Straken by Terry Brooks, Simon & Schuster, hdbk, £17.99 / trd pbk, £10.99. ISBN 0-743-25946-7 / 0-743-25947-5. Not druids on weed but the conclusion of 'The High Druid of Shannara' series.
Blood Rites by Jim Butcher, Orbit, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 1-841-49403-8. Harry Dresden is a supernatural detective. In this case he is has to go undercover on the set of a sex film. Part of a series now being published one-a-month this side of the Pond.
Death Mask by Jim Butcher, Orbit, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 1-841-49402-X. The Turin Shroud goes missing so who you gonna call? Harry Dresden.
Grave Peril by Jim Butcher, Orbit, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 1-841-49400-3. Harry has to find out who is attacking his human friends and then there is something torturing ghosts in Chicago. To cap it all Harry's faerie god-mother complicates matters.
Kushiel's Avatar by Jacqueline Carey, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 0-330-42001-1. The conclusion to the Kushiel alternate world trilogy. Has had quite a bit od success especially in N. America.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrellby Susanna Clarke, Bloomsberry, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 0-747-57988-1. The paperback release of last autumn's Victoriana fantasy that wowed mainstream as well as speculative fiction lit crits. Given the page count this is excellent value and is no doubt due to cost of scale of economy from the large print run due to major anticipated sales. Nominated for the World Fantasy Award and this year's British Fantasy Award, it also won this year's 'Best Novel' Hugo Award for 'SF achievement'.
Shadowmasque by Michael Cobley, Simon & Schuster, trd pbk, £10.99. ISBN 0-743-25682-4. This was actually missed out from last season's publishing notification. It is the third book in the 'Shadowkings' (Cobleys debut) trilogy. The Emperor is dead and his only son is to ascend the throne. Only the Order of Watchers, a band of renegade mages, knows of the old, evil powers that are out to disrupt matters. The first books have received quite good reviews from both the SF & F and mainstream press.
The Journey by Josephine Cox, HarperCollins, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-007-14616-7. A tragedy in the past affects the present.
The Well of Tears by Cecilia Dart-Thompson, Tor, hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 1-405-04712-7. A fantasy epic.
Thomas Covenant: The Runes of the Earth by Stephen Donaldson, Gollancz, B-format pbk, £7.99. ISBN 0-555-07612-7. This is the paperback release of last autumn's hardback which has done reasonably well as expected. This is the first part of a 2nd trilogy that follows a 1st trilogy the last novel of which was first published over 2 decades ago. Recommended for serious fantasy fans.
Vellum by Hal Duncan, Pan Macmillan, hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 1-405-05208-2. Ancient gods and modern humans struggle to save their souls.
The Contract With God - Life on Dropsie Avenue by Will Eisner, W. W. Norton, graphic novel, £22.00. ISBN 0-393-061051. This is a classic reprint by the man frequently considered to have helped define the graphic novel. Chronicling an American immigrant's experience in the great depression, it explores a man's relationship with God. If you are into graphic novels, or are heavily into genre works but only require a sampler of graphic novels, then this surely must come high on your list.
Lion of Senet by Jennifer Fallon, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 1-841-49351-1. The arrival of a sailor on the island of Elcast awakens an old hatred among the locals.
Flight of the Nighthawks by Raymond E. Feist, Voyager, hdbk, £18.99. ISBN 00-071-96123-3. The start of a new series.
Rose of the World by Jude Fisher, Simon & Schuster, hdbk, £17.99 / trd pbk £10.99. ISBNs 0-743-25935-1 / 0-743-25936-X. The final part of the 'Fool's Gold' trilogy. Ahh, the old iron pyrites three-book tale.
Troy - Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell, Bantam, hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 0-593-05219-6. Transworld (who own Bantam) are really pushing this one which is billed as 'The greatest story ever told'. No hype then, but it is sure to be a hit with fantasy fans.
Barry Trotter and the Dead Horse by Michael Gerber, Gollancz, £5.99. ISBN 0-575-07692-5. Spoof Harry P.
Chainfire by Terry Goodkind, Voyager, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 0-007-14561-6. This is the trade paperback release of the hardback we announced back in the Spring. Our reluctant hero and magical warrior Richard Rahl awakes after being injured in battle to find his wife gone. Worse, nobody remembers her or that she existed. This is part of the Sword of Truth series.
The Traitor's Sword by Amanda Hemmingway, Voyager, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 0-007-15388-0. This is the second in the Sangreal trilogy.
Shaman's Coming by Robin Hobb, Voyager, hdbk, £18.99. ISBN 0-007-19612-1. Hobb has accrued quite a following among fantasy fans. This is the first in a new trilogy, Speck's Magic.
Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan, Orbit, hdbk, £20. ISBN 1-841-49163-2. Book two of the 'Wheel of Time' series.
The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay, Pocket, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 0-743-48423-1. Swords, a dead king, a prince in exile and an act of vengence.
The Mark of Ran by Paul Kearney, Bantam, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-553-81374-9. This sea faring fantasy has been described as a sort of David Gemmell meets Hornblower.
The Gold Falcon by Katherine Kerr, Voyager, pbk, £11.99. ISBN 0-007-19612-4. The penultimate story of the Deverry Cycle.
Kiss of the Night by Sherrilyn Keynon, Piatkus, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-749-93611-8. This is number 4 in the (we believe stand alone) series of semi-erotic paranormal novels.
Here Cold in Hell by Tannith Lee, Tor, pbk, £10.99. ISBN 1-405-00653-8. The one-line summary, 'A whale leviathan seeks revenge', is not likely to do justice to this accomplished SF and fantasy writer. Maybe its our perception but she doesn't seem to have had that much published in recent years, at least by the big UK publishers. If you have not come across her before then do check this out.
Sorcerer's Moon by Julian May, Voyager, hdbk, £18.99. ISBN 0-007-19612-5. The last in the Boreal Moon sequence.
Ironcrown Moon by Julian May, HCP, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 0-007-12323-X. The paperback release of part 2 of the Boreal Moon sequence.
Blood and memory by Fiona McIntosh, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN I-841-49374-0. This continues the Myrren's Gift tale.
The Scroll of the Ancients by Robert Newcomb, Bantam, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-553-81455-9. Another that should have been listed last time as it came out back in July but alas advance publication details weren't available. The formerly booming land of Eutracia declines following the return of the Coven of Sorceresses. Fiendish slavers (are there any other kind) are plundering its people and taking them away for a mysterious fate. It falls to the King in hiding, his sisters and the wizard Wigg and Faegan to sort things out. This is the final book in the 'Blood & Stone' trilogy.
Gene by Stel Paulou, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-743-40385-1. The story of the ancient Greek warrior Cyclades whom the Gods deemed was to be resurrected (reincarnated?) seven times.
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, Corgi, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-552-14943-8. A paperback reprint in case newly turned on Pratchett fans missed it when first released. This is timed to come out along with the 34th Discworld novel Thud.
Out of the Darkness by Harry Turtledove, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-743-46849-X. The final instalment in his series of a magical world at war. Turtledove has also written The Jaws of Darkness and American Empire.
World War by Harry Turtledove, Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 0-340-33483-3. The final instalment to the alternate 2nd World War series.
Giants of the Frost by Kim Wilkins, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-575-07721-2. European fairytales with a supernatural edge...
Camelot's Honour by Sarah Zettel, Harper Collins, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 0-007-15869-7. This is a kind of Arthurian side-story of a healer who is the orphaned daughter of a Welsh chieftain. Another chieftain, Urien, who is in turn paramour of Morgaine, the most powerful sorceress in Britain, murders our healer's mother. Round Table knight Geraint comes to the rescue.
Black Jade by David Zindell, Voyager, trd pbk, £14.99. ISBN 0-002-24760-7. Valashu Elahad rescued the Lightstone from the enemy's own city only to have his triumph overturned. Once more the Lord of Lies has the sacred gem in his possession and its power is invincible... This is book three of the 'Ea Cycle'. We should have listed this last time for our summer fantasy release list as this came out back in mid-June. Not only is this a trade paperback but with a 728 page count it's a hefty read: enough to keep the most ardent and swift sword and sorcery reader happy for a good few days. The publicity blurb cites Zindell as being "nominated for the 'best new writer' Hugo Award' in 1986" - which probably means the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer that is presented at the same time as the Hugos but is sponsored by Dell Magazines and not the World Science Fiction Society through that year's Worldcon who do the Hugos.
In depth reviews of fiction books can be found off the reviews index.
[SF News | Forthcoming Science Fiction Book releases | Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror | Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction | Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins and Computer Games | Last Quarter's Science News Summary]
The Illustrated Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, Doubleday, hdbk, £30. ISBN 0-385-60961-2. A new edition of his 2004 bestseller illustrated.
Imago: The Fantasy Art of Jim Burns by Jim Burns, Titan Books, hdbk, £12.99. ISBN 1-845-76133-2. Fantasy (and SF) colour art from the Hugo Award winning artist. Great coffee table Christmas present.
CHRISTMAS ALERT: Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide by Jonathan Cowie & Tony Chester, Porcupine Books, £8.90, pbk, 272pp. ISBN 0-954-91490-2. Check out the new reviews from The Green Man Review, SF Reader.Com and SF Contact. The poor-person's Clute - well, it's more compact, cheaper and a tad more recent than the great man's ultimate reference work over a decade ago. It's an ideal Christmas gift for that person, or persons, you wish to introduce to the joys of SF. Cheaper than a bottle of malt, doesn't melt like chocs, and it lasts longer too. Covers books, films, TV and SF comics that came top of mass fan-voted awards and surveys and also has closely related works (such as spin-offs). Plus there is some fandom information, such as on the Worldcon, Eurocon and national sources of further information. All fully cross-referenced with book and film checklists appended for you to be surprised at what you have read but may not actually have in your collection. (Surprised all of us.) It's also fun to see what's missing from the guide that you'd expect to be in. If you disagree with the listings then blame the fans for not voting the necessary mass-vote awards and works' longevity in print - the criterion for inclusion. mail brian[-@-]porcupine.demon.co.uk e-mail Porcupine now and treat either yourself or a loved one this Christmas and/or do your bit to help one of fandom's next generation find the principal landmarks of the genre's landscape.
Why Does a Ball Bounce? And 100 other Questions From the World of Science by Adam Hart-Davis, Ebury Press, hdbk, £14.99. ISBN 0-091-90268-1. Illustrated with his own photos.
Descartes by A. C. Grayling, The Free Press, hdbk, £20.00. ISBN 0-743-2347-3. Scientist, mathematician, soldier, and spy, Rene Descartes has been called the father of modern philosophy ('I think, therefore I am). He arguably provided one of the foundations for the Renaissance.
The Fellowship: The Story of a Revolution by John Gribbin, Allen Lane, hdbk, £25. ISBN 0-713-99745-1. So did the European 17th century Renaissance have a causal relationship with the plague, civil war and fire? John Gribbin has an excellent reputation as a science writer.
The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life by Tim Haines & Paul Chambers, BBC, hdbk, £16.99. ISBN 0-563-52219-4. Based of a 3-part series made by the Walking With Dinosaurs team.
First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong by James Hansen, Simon & Schuster, hdbk, £20. ISBN 0-743-25963-7. The first, and only, authorized biography of the first man on the Moon (after Cavor and Bedford of course). Covers his career and of course the Apollo 11 flight with the Eagle landing.
A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking with Leonard Mlodinow, Bantam Press, hdbk, £25. ISBN 0-593-05497-0. A reworked version of Hawking's original best seller that is more accessible for non-scientists, plus with illustrations.
The World of King Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island by Peter Jackson, Film Tie-in, hdbk, £25.00. ISBN 1-416-50258-0. The film director explains the backdrop behind his remake version of the classic filmKing Kong.
The Long Emergency: A Manual for Surviving the 21st Century by James Howard Kunstley, Atlantic, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 1-843-54433-9. Global famine, pandemics, energy poverty. What do you need to do to survive.
The Art of Discworld by Terry Pratchett & Paul Kidly, Gollanzc, pbk, £10.99. ISBN 0-575-07712-3.
Destination Moon by Rod Pyle, Carlton, hdbk, £16.99. ISBN 1-844-42712-9. The story of the Apollo lunar programme. The book's timing coincides with the 40th anniversary of the early Apollo missions. Because Carlton is involved expect a documentary series.
Counterfeit Worlds: Philip K. Dick on Film by Brian Robb, Titan Books, trd pbk,£16.99. ISBN1-840-23968-9. The history of Philip K. Dick's many works that have been adapted to film, radio, TV and computer games. Includes 150 B&W photos. Essential for Dick heads everywhere - and that is meant in the nicest of all senses.
Kingdom of Heaven by Ridley Scott (the publicity suggests), Film Tie-in, trd pbk, £16.99. ISBN 1-416-51131-8. With more than 200 production photos and story board illos, this book covers is the making of the historic (swords and armour) block-buster summer film release. (Well, it's almost fantasy.)
The Planets by Dara Sobel, Fourth estate, hdbk, £15. ISBN 1-857-02850-3. The story of the solar system and its associated mythology, astrology and science.
Universe by various contributors, Dorling Kindersley, hdbk, £30. ISBN 1-405-31071-5. A guided tour of the cosmos illustrated with the latest pictures from probes and telescopes.
In depth reviews of science and SF non-fiction books can be found off the non-fiction reviews index.
[SF News | Forthcoming Science Fiction Book releases | Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror | Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction | Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins plus Computer Games | Last Quarter's Science News Summary]
FORTHCOMING TV & FILM TIE-INS
Dr Who: The Legend Continues, (Anon?), BBC Worldwide, large format pbk, £20. The hdbk 40th anniversary edition has sold out. This is not just a reprint but a revised edition with an extra 32 pages on the Christopher Ecclestone series. 'nuff said.
Star Trek Voyager: String Theory - Book Two by Kristen Beyer, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-416-50955-0.
Serenity by Kieth R. A. De Candido, Pocket Media, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 1-416-50288-2. The book of the recent film of the TV series Firefly.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Death in Winter by Michael Jan Friedman, Pocket Books, hdbk, £14.95. 0-743-49721-X. In the midst of a biogenetic pandemic (don't all epidemics somehow involve biology and genes?) Dr Crusher goes missing.
Spark & Burn, by Diana G. Gallagher, Buffy, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 1-416-502408. The life story of Spike the Vampire.
Stargate: Atlantis: The Official Companion Season 1 by Sharon Gosling, Titan Books, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 1-845-76116-2. Episode guide, interviews and behind the scenes pics.
The Hammer Story by Marcus Hearn & Alan Barnes, Titan Books, hdbk, £24.99. ISBN 1-845-76185-5. The Quatermass Experiment was released 50 years ago and was Hammer's first film. This book charts Hammer's history and contains many unpublished pictures.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Night Terrors, by Alice Henderson, Buffy, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 1-416-51146-6.
Creating the World of Star Wars by John Knoll, Abrams, hdbk, £19.95. ISBN 0-810-95936-4/
Star Trek Voyager: String Theory - Book One by Jeffrey Langs, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-743-45718-8. The first in a trilogy (by different authors) published to mark 10 years of Voyager (that's the 'Star Trek' franchise and not the Harper Collins SF/Fantasy book imprint).
Star Trek Vanguard - Harbinger by David Mack, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 1-416-50774-7. There is intrigue and mystery onboard an isolated space station...
Star Trek Titan: The Red King by Andy Mangels & Martin Michael, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-743-49628-0.
The Ring Companion by Denis Meikle, Titan Books, trd pbk, £16.99. ISBN 1-845-76001-8. The companion to the hugely successful Japanese cult horror film.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Colony by Melinda Metz, Buffy, bbk, £6.99. ISBN 1-416-50238-6.
Star Trek Voyager: Distant Shores edited by Marco Palmieri, Pocket Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 0-743-49253-6.
Shaun of the Dead by Chris Ryall & Zach Howard,Titan Books, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 1-845-76160-X. This is the colour director's cut graphic novel complete with deleted scenes.
Star Trek: Vulcan's Soul - Exodus by Joseph Sherman & Susan Schwartz, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-743-46357-9.
The Art of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-rabbit by Andy Lane & Paul Simpson, Titan Books, trd pbk, £14.99. ISBN 1-845-76215-0. The October film tie-in book. Bound to be popular.
Smallville: The Official Companion Season 3 by Paul Simpson, Titan Books, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 1-840-23952-2. Does what it says on the can and has behind the scenes pics.
Serentiy by Jos Whedon, Titan Books, trd pbk, £16.99. ISBN 1-845-76082-4. The companion to the popular TV series. Timed to come out for the film's October release...
Star Wars: The Comics Companion by Rider Windham and Daniel Wallace, Titan Books, trd pbk, £14.99. ISBN 1-845-76108-1. The definitive guide to Star Wars comics. No character goes unmentioned and no quadrant unmapped.
Star Wars: Outbound Flight Project by Timothy Zahn, Century, hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 1-844-13904-2.
VIDEO & DVD RELEASES
DVDs of the 1960s puppet series Space Patrol are now available. Check out the Larry Dart offerings from Galaxsphere 347.
Destroy All Humans, £40, from THQ (PS2, Xbox). Fed up with alien invasion games being specieist with humans ruthlessly killing aliens? Well with Destroy All Humans you, the game player, are the alien. To be specific you are Crypto, a rather nasty little green creature with despicable superiors who are out to dominate the Earth. However Earth needs checking out first to find out how tough these human types are and to find their weaknesses. So off you go to destroy towns and sample American DNA using nifty anal probes. All huge fun. Recommended.
Conker: Live & Reloaded, £40 from Rare (Xbox). Updated and revised from the Nintendo 64 version, Conker is a cute bunny who enjoys a drink or several and throwing up later. With a foul mouth to match you can proceed with him to lampoon scenes from films like Aliens. A must for those with South Park type humour.
Atari Flashback Console, £30. 20 games from the late 1970s-early '80s (i.e. just before things got vaguely interesting). Mind-numbingly primitive games that stretches one's appreciation of nostalgia. The arcade games of the time were far better.
Cold Fear, £20-£40, from Ubisoft (PC, PS2, Xbox). You are a US coastguard sent to investigate a drifting whaler in a storm. Something has happened and aside from some rather unwelcoming Russian crew there are also mutant type monsters. The ship's movement in the storm is also a confounding factor. Though not as advanced as some other games this is solid, if but standard, fare.
Doom 3, from Activision (Xbox) £40. More shoot the beasts from below but the visuals and sound effects are even better. Also with a 2-player mode.
Fantastic 4, from Activision (Gamecube, PC, PS2, Xbox), £30-40. This game is so obviously timed to coincide with the film that this scarcely seems worth mentioning, but how does it rate. Well put it this way, do not get the game if you expect it to follow the plot of the FF story or somehow tie in with Marvel's FF history. What it is is a scene-by-scene slug fest with little to relieve the monotony other than the FF's differing superpowers.
Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack (Xbox) £15 from Microsoft. Halo2 players on the internet know all about this but those off line, or who did not get all the data on-line as it was gradually released over the past few months, will find this just the ticket. In addition to the 4 new levels your Xbox will be updated with slightly better balanced weapons. Essential for those whose Xbox has no internet connector.
Sid Meier's Pirates! (Xbox) £40 from 2K Games. Sail the seven seas, fight other ships and take booty, then land and seduce an island's governor's daughter, and quest to avenge your parents. This is both a role playing type game with iterative cycles whereby you build up wealth, and a fight and dance game. There are games within the game so there is plenty for you to do. Britain's ITV Cybernet programme gave this an excellent review but the Guardian felt that the iterative cycles were boring. It probably depends on whether you prefer role-playing or straight action games.
The new XBOX 360 was previewed by Microsoft this summer and available in the shops any time now. Naturally it is more powerful than its predecessor and its smaller. It uses wireless controllers and comes with a removable 20GB hard disk and, of course, will be compatible with its predecessors. Streaming media from MP3 players and PC are also features. So that's the good news as far as Microsoft are concerned. As for the bad news, well some of the latest offerings from the competition out this year are more powerful. What it actually boils down to is to the new types of software being developed, as it can be possible to do more with less if you are clever. Equally it will be the new things that you can do, that the software guys again will have to come up with, that will probably count for more in the end. So if you are an XBOX fan this upgrade will be the biz. On the other hand if you are a games buff and into diversity then you will no doubt make up your own mind and check out the competition.
The new Play Station 3 is the above's competition. From Sony, its new disc format is capable of holding 50 Gigabyte's which is six times the capacity of existing DVDs. It, like the new XBOX, will be backwards compatible. The competition with XBOX will be fierce.
Playstation Portable (PSP), from Sony it will set you back around £180 but bet you that over the next year or two the price comes down. UMD mini-discs can also be used to play films and the screen resolution, bearing in mind the small size is good. It comes with a web browser and the ability to pick up wireless networks. Naturally you can also use it to listen to music (though the sound is better on headphones). The PSP may be the beginning of the future. If future models combine this with a mobile phone, personal organiser and TV receiver and it would be a product to see you through the first quarter of this century.
A Nintendo DS has survived a trip up Everest. Neal Mueller and Chris Grubb took a Nintendo DS on an expedition 8,000m up Mt Everest to play games when not climbing. Surprisingly the DS remained operational throughout, unlike the three of the four MP3 players they had with them or a Dell computer and a Sony PSP. Conditions were so bad that the CB radio occasionally stopped working. In the end Neal made it to the top but Chris had to turn back.
A new Star Trek mobile phone cum web browser enables users to surf the net and play an on-line multi-player game of Star Trek and to stream real-time videos. The 'Star Trek Communicator Phone' is powered by Sona Mobile's Sona Wireless Platform (SWP), which offers multi-threading capability for running several applications concurrently. The SWP makes it possible for end- users to stream video clips while simultaneously text messaging a friend or accessing information on the Internet, without negatively impacting device performance. It is produced by Sona Mobile, and Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products. The 'Star Trek Communicator Phone' will come equipped with a custom Star Trek faceplate and other themed features unique to the Star Trek franchise. The phone will be available beginning from the end of September 2005.
[SF News | Forthcoming Science Fiction Book releases | Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror | Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction | Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins and Computer Games | Last Quarter's Science News Summary]
The 5th of November 2005 marks the 400 anniversary of the Gun Powder plot to blow up the House of Lords during the sate opening of Parliament. This anniversary will be celebrated by all those into exothermic (energy releasing) chemistry, the former Los Alamos fandom and others into big bangs. There will be a free exhibition in the Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament, a new audio-visual display at the Tower of London, a display of paintings at the National Gallery, and a display of the conspirators' signed confessions at the National Archives (and online).
Warm fusion that is portable. Luverly, jubly. Yes, a promising fusion experiment does appear to work, though the confirmation is not yet in. A team from the University of California (Nature v343, p1115-7) have come up with a small device that appears to enable fusion to happen. However it does not have a net production of energy and nor is it intended to. The idea is to use the fusion reactions to provide a neutron source (or 'neutron sauce' as one non-physicist on the Concat team says). At the moment such neutron-generating fusion devices require high voltage to either contain a plasma or high voltage to generate an ion beam that hits a target. The new device is a target type but only uses a few tens of volts to bias an electron-suppression grid and around 2 watts worth of heat. No big high voltage supply and power is required. The device will have lab and industrial uses but, alas, not power a starship.
The honeybee dance, whereby bees use a dance to reveal the source of food (or 'sauce' of food as one of the non-biologist on the Concat team says). The discovery won Karl von Frisch the Nobel prize. However doubters say that the bees smell the food on arrivals back in the hive. Quantitative data of how the code is translated into a flight plan had yet to be elucidated. Now it has (Nature v434 205-7). An anglo-germanic team (Rothampsted, Berlin Inst' Biology and Greenwich U) have come up with the goods using radar to track bees. Amazingly they (the bees) also allow for wind drift.
ASTRONOMY AND SPACE
Solar system gains a 10th planet (or does it?). [(Shhhh) Actually it was there all along but has only just been discovered.] It is considerably larger than the former outer planet Pluto (which is itself roughly half the diameter of Earth), but not as big as Earth, and the 10th planet is twice as far away from the Sun as Pluto's mean distance (its highly eccentric orbit takes it inside that of Neptune's and has a mean distance of 5.9 billion km) - Pluto (rather the Pluto binary system) has been frequently considered to be either a rogue asteroid or lost moon of Neptune and so not a proper planet. This means that the 10th planet is in fact the 9th planet and so its orbit does tend to fit in with Bode's law!
Deep Impact did its stuff at 5.52 GMT (6.52 Brit summer time) 4th July when the 372Kg (820lb) 'impactor' stikes the Tempel-1 comet at over 6 miles a second (23,000 mph) dissipating the equivalent to 4,800 kg of TNT. The result was a bigger plume than expected, suggesting that the comet's crust is more fragile than thought and covered in fine talc-like dust. The plume's size made spectrography straightforward, hence enable to glimpse the chemical cocktail that made up the primordial solar system. There were two flashes separated by just milliseconds: the first is thought to have been the crustal impact and the second when volatiles were released. Weak signals of water, carbon dioxide and ammonia were detected and weaker still some light carbon-nitrogen molecules. Much was dust. It appears that repeated approaches closer to the Sun have baked away the volatiles from the surface. The plume obscured the crater that formed by it is thought to be between 100-300 m across. It also gave rebel colonists a great Independence Day firework. For further background see previous season's news. +++ Deep Impact blows astrologer claims - see below.
Deep Impact researcher quote of the mission. "We used to be afraid of comets. The dinosaurs should have been afraid of comets. Now it's the comets' turn to be afraid." So reportedly said UCL researcher Andrew Coates. Perhaps a tad anthropic Andy?
Extra-solar planet seekers lose out to Hubble Telescope. Under NASA's budget cuts (how on Earth does Bush expect to get to Mars?) the Hubble project was due to end. However the interest in Hubble, and that it has plenty of future potential yet even if the next generation of space (and ground) telescopes will be better, has meant that a rescue package has been cobbled together. However this draws upon monies that would have otherwise gone to two planet hunting missions - the Space Interferometry Mission and the Terrestrial Planet Finder.
The first extra-solar Vaguely-Earthlike Planet was detected in June. It is 15 light years away orbiting the red dwarf Gliese 876 that is already known to have two Jupiter-sized gas giants. Alas the Vaguely-Earthlike planet is only vaguely Earthlike. It is 7.5 times the mass of the Earth and orbiting so close to its sun (within the equivalent of the orbit of Mercury) that its surface temperature probably exceeds 200°C. However its size makes it the first of a new class of rocky terrestrial planet unless those detecting it from Washington's Carnegie Institution have got things wrong and it is a small gas giant.
Japan's 'red-bird' X-ray telescope makes it to orbit. This was the second attempt after a failed February launch. This will complement ESA's XMM-Newton mission and NASA's Chandra X-ray observatory.
Space shuttle Discovery was launched July 26th after a postponement earlier in the month due to a faulty fuel sensor that still was not fixed. It remained in orbit with a mission extension that kept it in space for the duration of this year's Worldcon. NASA has not confirmed with Concatenation a causal telationship. This was the first shuttle launch since the Columbia burn up in 2003. The 21-year-old vehicle is not without risks. NASA is planning to build a crew craft for the Moon and Mars. This should replace the shuttle. NASA faces criticism of cutting back on programmes such as Hubble due to being scared off after the Columbia incident. Meanwhile the International space station in Earth orbit is not doing anything useful. Astronaut George (Pinky) Nelson in Nature (v436, p163) says the station should have been somewhere interesting like orbiting the Moon. He also said he "would like to see a Moon-Mars exploration programme happen. But we're spending a lot of money blowing up stucco in Iraq".
Loose insulating foam casts shadow over future shuttle launches. The shuttle (above) had barely made orbit when consideration of footage of foam insulation coming off the booster fuel tank narrowly missing the shuttle cased NASA officials to announce a halt on future shuttle launches. This might mark the end of the programme. However if so NASA will need to get a move on to provide the next manned launch vehicle.
New NASA mission to Jupiter. Juno will be launched before 2010 and go into orbit around Jupiter so as to study its atmosphere and elucidate some of its internal structure. Juno won out over rival missions being considered over the summer as planetary positioning favouring trips to Jupiter are comparatively rare.
HEALTH AND BIOMEDICINE
The latest chapter in the saga of the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who were sentenced to death in Libya for allegedly deliberately spreading HIV to 400 children, is that Libyan police have been cleared of torturing them. A Libyan court cleared nine policemen in the summer though all the accused say their confessions were extracted under torture. The EU's Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldener is 'disappointed'. The matter goes to the Libya Supreme Court in November. The death sentence was originally given in May 2004.
New evidence that the Black Death was a viral haemorrhagic fever from Africa. It may be that it left a genetic fingerprint in European populations (absent among Asians, American Indians and sub-Saharan Africans). A CCR5 gene deletion is found among 10% of Europeans. As it happens, those with two of these genes (homozygous) are almost completely resistant to HIV-1: one of the AIDS virus strains (Postgraduate Medical Journal v81, p315-20).
Leprosy origins discovered. The leprosy bacterium Mycobacterium leprae grows in humans, armadillos and the foot pads of mice but not in test tubes. Now a genetic analysis of strains from different countries has shown that the disease is almost a clone from a single strain that has little changed since it arose in east Africa (Science v308, p1040-2).
Charles Darwin's mystery illness solved. The great man experienced 40 years of intermittent vomiting, pain, headaches, lethargy, skin problems, and depression after returning from his voyage on the Beagle. Some 20 medical doctors failed to find the cause, and most concluded that it was of psychosomatic origin. However a diagnosis, recently revealed in the Postgraduate Medical Journal (v81, p248-51), suggests he had lactose intolerance all that time. Not only was there a familial disposition to a similar problem, but our Chaz only got better when by chance he stopped taking milk and cream.
The latest avian flu news is that it has spread to wildlife. Bar-headed geese and brown-headed gulls, great black-headed gulls and great cormorants at Qinghai Lake in western China, have come down with the disease. This spreading from chickens to wild fowl, especially fowl comparatively isolated from farms, is very worrying. If the epidemic amongst the birds does not burn out (and by the end of May over 1,5000 birds were dead) then the virus will become established in the wild. The consequence of a SARS-like pandemic among humans increases further.
Dope-smoking munchies may help with the creation of an anti-obesity drug. Rimonabant is the first in a new class of anti-obesity drug, which targets cannabinoid receptors in a complex neuroregulatory system known to control food intake and energy balance in laboratory animals. Trials show promise with rimonabant having a notable and beneficial impact on waist circumference, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin resistance, and prevalence of the metabolic syndrome. Some of these improvements were independent of weight loss, and the authors hypothesise that the drug has direct effects on metabolism as well as food intake. (Lancet v365, p1389-97). We really do not know whether this is good news or not for members of the SF & DA.
Very early sex determination is now available for mothers-to-be and is going down a bundle in the US. The finger-prick test looks for fetal DNA, specifically a Y chromosome, in the mother's blood. But, Concat's life scientists wonder, does this mean if you have non-duplicate twins the test falls down? The test from the Massachusetts-based Acu-Gen biotech company costs US$25 (£14 or Euro 21) and is said to work after 5 weeks of pregnancy. Ethical concerns as to whether this would skew the sex ratio of the next generation has come up but, the company is reported as saying (BMJ v331, p69) that this would not be a problem in the US. This of course implies that it would be a problem elsewhere. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said it had no comment. The test gives results at an earlier stage of pregnancy than chorionic villus sampling (11 weeks), or amniocentesis (18 weeks).
London Underground users and worker will be reassured that the tube's air quality s not quite as poor as has been previously reported. A recent report of station platform dust levels reveals it to be 270-480 g/m3 and 14,000-29,000 particles/cm3, comprising by mass roughly 67% iron oxide, 1-2% quartz, and traces of other metals (Occupational and Environmental Medicine v62, p355-62) It concludes that dust is unlikely to represent a significant cumulative risk to the health of workers or commuters. Concat's science team members who use London's underground are not so convinced.
Those who suffer from frequent severe migraine may find nasal surgery helps. The journal Cephalagia (v6, pp439-443) reports that 21 people had surgery to stop opposite surfaces of their nasal cavities pressing together. This may be an option for severe sufferers who do not respond to pharmaceuticals.
A genetic survey of the Scottish isles reveals that 30% of Orkney and 44% of Shetland residents have Scandinavian ancestry. As these frequencies are the same in mitochondrial as well as nuclear DNA it suggests that the Vikings settled as families. However in the Western isles and on Skye the percentage is lower and relates to the 'y' chromosome suggesting that lone Scandinavian males travelled further west and settled with 'British' women.
SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION
EVENT - London, Tuesday 11th October 2005: Alien Evolution, 19.00-20.30 (in association with Channel 4) at the Dana Centre. How special is our planet? What can life on Earth tell us about the possible evolution of extra-terrestrials? Alien Evolution explores how life might evolve on other planets. Audience members are invited to discuss with speakers from the Channel 4 documentary 'Extraterrestrial' whether the conditions for life on Earth are unique, if life could also exist on planets quite different from our own and what such life might be like. This event is part of a season of 'alien' themed events, debates and comedy nights at the Dana Centre and is running in conjunction with the Science Museum's major new exhibition The Science of Aliens, which of course was previewed at this year's Euro-cum-Worldcon.
EVENT - London, Tuesday 18th and Thursday 20th October: Punk Science: Aliens, 19.00-20.30 at the Dana Centre. A rip-roaring ride through star systems, crop circles, UFOs, extraterrestrials and maybe a peek at the 1986 cult film. An explosive fusion of Edinburgh style stand-up and serious science lecture, Punk Science asks: is anybody out there? If so...How do we find them? What would they be like? Are they already here? Does anybody actually care? Punk Science finds out the answers in 60 minutes of action packed science experiments, music, audience voting, gags and demos.
EVENT - London, Tuesday 1st November: Alien Contact, 19.00-20.30 at the Dana Centre. Is there intelligent alien life somewhere out there or are we all alone in the universe? Will we ever make contact with such life? Alien Contact debates whether intelligent alien life exists, and if it does, whether we will ever make contact with it. Speakers will focus on the attempts of SETI to receive radio broadcasts to alien life forms, and debate why such attempts have been so far unsuccessful.
The science journal Nature's back page 'Futures' series of SF shorts has now been going for a few months. And now the series editor, Henry Gee, has granted himself a story slot. It has to be said that there have been consistent trends with these tales. Predominantly most (but not all) of the professional SF authors with over dozen or so books under their belt have produced by far the best stories. Alas nearly all the scientists' stories (those that aren't SF authors as well) have been a tad limp to embarrassing. So when Henry Gee published his own yarn it was, for some of us on the Concat' team, a sharp intake of breath time... But bless his cotton socks he bucks the trend and his story is actually rather good. Of course Gee, though not known for his SF, is an accomplished journalist and so is a professional writer. His story, Are We Not Men concerns the near future coming out of non-sapiens hominids such as the Yeti and the implications this has. You can sift through the excellent, good, and not so good at www.nature.com/nature/focus/arts/futures. Unlike other parts of the Nature website, 'Futures' is open access and it is nearly all hard SF. Luverly juberly.
The science journal Nature has won an SF Eurocon Award. No not for its science but its science fiction in the guise of its back page 'Futures' column of short stories edited by Henry Gee. He told Concatenation, "That's marvellous news," before adding, "Any excuse to break out that ol' Janx Spirit." For details see the Eurocon-Worldcon review.
The European Space Agency has announced the second Clarke-Bradbury Award winners. Christian Doan won the best story, and Frank Lewecke the best image award. The award is run by ESA's Technology Transfer and Promotion Office and managed by the Maison d'Ailleurs (Switzerland). This year the award had took as its theme 'the Space Elevator'. The Clarke-Bradbury SF Competitions help raise the awareness about ESA and how technology can be used in innovative ways.
The new Bollywood horror film, Naina has terrified ophthalmologists and voluntary eye-donation campaigners in India (and is available in western Bollywood DVD shops)... Its plot is of a blind girl, Naina (meaning 'eyes' in Hindi) living in London. The girl loses her eyesight in a car crash when she is 5 years old. Twenty years later Naina (played by Urmila Matondkar, well known in Bollywood horror) gets a corneal transplant. The operation restores her vision but she sees shadows and spirits, and, having gained the power of clairvoyance, can predict death. In the hospital where she undergoes the transplant, she witnesses all sorts of blood and gore. Surgeons scoop out organs in operating theatres, and dumbfounded nurses stare while shadowy attendants whisk blood-drenched corpses away from bedsides. It transpires that the spirit of the donor - a girl from a remote Indian village - has entered Naina. The donor happened to be clairvoyant. The film could be considered as saying that Naina's blind life was better than her life with sight. The All India Ophthalmological Society (AIOS), and campaigners at the Eye Bank Association of India (EBAI) and Ganadarpan (a Calcutta-based voluntary organisation), Naina could reinforce myths about cornea transplants and is poised to create a climate of fear among recipients as well as donors. "Bollywood has such a huge impact on the mindset of gullible Indians that the movie will surely send a negative message," said Tanuja Joshi, managing director of Venu Eye Institute and Research Centre, New Delhi, India, and the president of EBAI, a voluntary organisation promoting eye donation. She feels that Naina will affect the success of the eye donation movement, which ironically received a boost when Bollywood idols such as Aishwarya Rai and Amitabh Bachchan pledged their eyes for cornea transplants. About 2.5 million people in India have cornea-related blindness so the country needs some 400,000 corneas annually but gets only 14,000 donations a year. Bollywood horror has been around for a little while as distinct from science fiction the first Indian film of which is reviewed elsewhere in Concatenation.
The Harry Potter stories can help educators provide an insight into gentics. The researchers from the Chromosome Research Unit at the Royal Children's Hospital, Victoria, Australia, say that the minority (in the stories) who have magical powers are either 'muggle-born' ('muggle' meaning having no powers) or of mixed ancestry ('half blood'). This suggests Mendelien genetics with the magical gene being a recessive. The caretaker is a 'squib' born into a magical family but with no powers so suggesting incomplete genetic penetrance...
Over the summer some 30 playrights, mathematicians, and novelists met to identify common ground between the story-tellers and mathematicians. They met on the Greek island of Myknos: an appropriate venue given that Plato arguably was the first to introduce a gulf between maths (which he loved) and the arts (he hated poetry). However some participants blamed Euclid whose dry logical style has been used by mathematicians ever since. Another meeting is planned for next year.
A novel portraying a terror-bombed London had its launch week curtailed the day after the July 7th real-London terror explosions. The techno-thriller genre borders that of SF (which is why Concat occasionally carries TT reviews) and is just as likely to seemingly 'predict' real-life events. Such a chance happening took place during July's London bombings when Chris Cleave's novel Incendiary (Chatto & Windus) was due to be launched. Its cover pictures a London-scape with smoke rising and cover wording "a massive terrorist attack... launches this unique, twisted powerhouse of a novel". Brit book chain Waterstones cancelled all its newspaper advertising for the book save for the Guardian's weekend Guide that had already gone to press.
Hitch-Hikers' science expo. If in London you might want to check out the Science Museum's, Kensington, Hitch-hikers' Guide to the Galaxy exhibition to celebrate Auntie Beeb broadcasting the 4th and final series over the summer. Just Don't Panic if there are Hollywood influences as they are also showed the recent film over the summer on their IMAX screen... But focus on the radio series and check out the exhibition which runs to the end of November.
Japanese life scientists are now using Manga to turn kids on to science. The RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology has come up with a card game that uses colourful Maga pictures. School pupils visiting the centre get them free. English versions have been distributed at some scientific meetings over the summer.
Science & technology is so complex that it is easy to fool people with gobbledegook. grad student Jeremy Stribling and two colleagues submitted a paper entitled 'Rooter: A methodology for the typical unification of access points and redundancy' which was a complete nonsense fabrication that used fictitious such as 'simulated annealing' and 'flexible modalities'. The paper was submitted to the World Multiconference (sic) on Systematics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI) held in Florida in July, and it was accepted. The students were fed-up with receiving e-mails from WMSCI asking them to submit a paper so they made one up. WMSCI then sent them a US $400 (£250) bill to have the paper published. It would appear that here cash is the driver and not science.
California Governor Arnold ('Terminator') Schwarznegger calls for his state to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% of their 1990 levels by 2050. This clashes with President Bush's stance on not signing up to Kyoto - Bush has effectively dismissed previous science research as fiction. Whether Schwarznegger's proposals are robust enough to deliver the cuts remains to be seen. His decision came following his receipt of a letter from 500 members of the Union for Concerned Scientists. Other US states are also adopting greenhouse measures. President Bush, it has been reported, received support from fossil fuel companies in his election campaigns. However, as this is Bush's second term, he wont be back.
More global warming fictional science - President George Bush wins the summer's G8 leaders' meeting with blinkered climate science stance. The G8 communique on climate change was so watered down to meet US objections that over a decade of UN agency peer review of the science by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been ignored. The communique reads: "Uncertainty remains in our understanding of climate change, but we know enough to put ourselves on a path to slow and, as the science justifies, stop and then reverse the growth of greenhouse gases." Of course there is 'uncertainty' in virtually everything from the macro to the quantum but the IPCC has made it clear that it is human action that is altering the climate and that warming trends will soon take us to a planetary climate not seen for millions of years! There is no uncertainty in this regard. The President of the Royal Society, Lord Bob May, said that the communique was a "disappointing failure". He added: "Make no mistake, the science already justifies reversing - not merely slowing - the global growth of greenhouse gas emissions."
Jesus' death is a story that has inspired millions in many ways over the years. His quick death on the cross may now possibly be explained. Crucifixion is notoriously a slow death lasting many days. Conversely Jesus is said to have died in just six hours. A letter in a June issue of Thrombosis and Haemostasis suggests that this may have been due to a genetic mutation common in Israel and particularly in the Galilee area that increases the likelihood of deep vein thrombosis.
The Deep Impact mission did not upset the Universe. Which slightly undermines the proposition made by the (apparently famous) Russian astrologer Marina Bai who attempted to take NASA with a US$300 million (£565m) lawsuit on the basis that the collision could damage the natural balance of the Universe... Which begs the question as to how she would have spent the money had she been right and also won?
NASA mission was named after SF film. In case you happened not to know NASA's Deep Impact mission (see above) is named after the 1998 SF eye-candy movie.
AS OTHERS SEE US Lewis Wolpert (UK biologist) on BBC (national) Radio 4's science programme Material World (11th August) said that: "science fiction has done science a great disservice." He explained that, "you can't do genetics without thinking of Frankenstein." Really! And what of all the service SF has done inspiring folk to embark on a career in science and engineering let alone attract crowds to science exhibitions... A little more clear thinking to distinguish between popular news coverage and the genre of the fantastic please.
And finally... the solution to the cryptic SF puzzler posed above and at this year's Eurocon cum Worldcon...
1) The Ditmar, Eisner, and Hugo are all titles of SF related Awards that are all named after people.
2) Given they are all awards for SF related topics (or 'subjects') the odd one out is the 'Eisner' which is first and foremost a comics award even if the vast majority of nominations are SF and fantasy related.
3) The 'decision' to whom to give the award for the Ditmar and Hugo is made by convention-going fans, however the 'nominations' for the Eisner are made by a small panel of judges.
4) Thinking 'globally' is important for the Hugo and Eisner as nominally they are World or international awards (one being given at the Worldcon and the other at the Comic-con International convention). The Ditmar is first and foremost an award for Australian SF given at the Australian national convention and so is decidedly national as opposed to international.
5) The Ditmar, Eisner, and Hugo are named after people but in terms of 'profession' only Will Eisner and Hugo Gernsback were SF professionals while Ditmar (Dick) Jenssen was a fan who was a founding member of Melbourne SF.
Congratulations to all who got there, and to those who did not then perhaps you will find Essential SF: A Concise Guide more use than you think... and even as a seasonal present? Happy Christmas.
More science and SF news will be reviewed in the New Year 2006 plus there will also be 'forthcoming' book releases for the Spring. Meanwhile ensure you've added the Science Fact and Fiction Concatenation to your favourites. And why not send a message to yourself delay-timed to mid-January alerting you to our Spring site update?
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