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 2006 | Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror | Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction | Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins, & DVD/Video Releases | Last Quarter's Science News Summary]
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The 2006 Hugo Awards have been announced -- see below.
The Electric Universe wins the 2006 Aventis Prize for (Popular) Science Books -- see below.
Nebula Awards and Locus Awards announced -- see Nebula below and Locus below.
TimeWarner takeover prompts SF editor move to New York -- see below and UK bookshop chain merger happens, finally -- see below.
A southern San Andreas California earthquake is imminent -- see below.
Daleks to invade Portsmouth in October -- see below.
The other sub-sections within SF News to which you can jump are: SF Book Trade News; Major SF Author and Professional News; R.I.P; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; Film, Graphic Novel + TV News; and Net Watch.
Or skip the following 'news' section and go to...
[SF News | Forthcoming Science Fiction Book Releases | Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror | Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction | Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins, and DVD/Video Releases | Last Quarter's Science News Summary]
NEWS IN MORE DETAIL
The 2006 Hugo Awards were announced at this year's Worldcon in Los Angeles (L.A.Con IV) at the end of August. We previously reported on the nominations, meanwhile the winners in the principal categories were:-
- Best Novel: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
- Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Serenity
- Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Dr Who for the two-parter 'The Empty Child' and 'The Doctor Dances'
Among the other categories Dave Langford who does Ansible and Locus got their usual wins. For the full list of winners in all Hugo categories then check the World SF Society's Hugo page.
Hugo Award comment. Unfortunately none of Concat's core team expended the carbon to traverse the Atlantic for Worldcon in L.A. this year and, though some friends of Concat went, we are posting this news page quickly (as a couple of editors are off to the Festival of Fantastic Films to leave our webmaster to de-bug and post) and so haven't yet been able to touch base to get all the gen on details such as Hugo voting scores. No doubt they will be posted before long and, of course, reported in Locus magazine. However it is pleasing to note that back in the New Year we did cite Spin as one of the Top SF Books of 2005 (along with one of the other Hugo novel nominations/shortlist Learning the World by Ken MacLeod. Though our views on SF may not be the most learned, it is good to see that at least they do somewhat reflect those of the SF community voting for the Hugo.
Regarding the cinematic (Dramatic Presentation Long Form) category we were again somewhat prescient in that we cited back at Easter Serenity at the top of our list of 2005 cinematic worthies that slipped through the 2005 top SF/Fantasy box office net (cinema go-ers all told are not reflective of those of the SF community). The TV (Dramatic Presentation Short Form) Hugo category presented us a dilemma back in Easter in that we were unsure whether Dr Who being shortlisted 3 times, though demonstrating solid Hugo support, would split the Hugo vote. Clearly it didn't enough to prevent a Dr Who win.
+++ The Hugo short-listed novel River of Gods by Ian McDonald now has a US edition out from Pyr, US$25, hdbk, ISBN 1-591-02436-6. See Tony's and/or Jonathan's review.
More 2006 Worldcon news is in the Eurocon/Worldcon section below - if you wish skip to it here.
The 2006 Locus Award for Best SF Novel went to Charles Stross' Accelerando. The Locus Award is run by and voted on by the readers of the US SF-book related magazine and as such vies with the Hugo for being an award in tune with the views of many SF book aficionados, at least as far as Anglophone SF is concerned. The Locus Awards were presented mid-June at the SF Museum, Seattle. The award has many other categories and for details of these winners visit www.locusmag.com. +++ Locus Award voted on by more than the number for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards combined. The July issue of Locus revealed that the numbers voting for the award it runs continue to grow. There were 962 valid ballots this year up 51 from last year. Though US centric, with the continuing increasingly common UK and US book publishing operations, the Locus Award is arguably the most representative awards for popular excellence in Anglophone SF. +++ Accelerando was also short-listed/nominated for a Hugo earlier in the year.
The 2006 Nebula Award (for 2005 stories) for Best Novel went to Joe Haldeman for Camouflage. The Best Script category went to Joss Whedon for Serenity. The Nebulas are awarded by the Science Fiction Writers of America and this year the presentation (May) took place at the Tempe Mission Palms in Tempe, Arizona. At the meeting Harlan Ellison was also honoured by becoming the latest Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master for his lifetime achievement in science fiction and fantasy. For further details and the full list of various category winners see the SFWA website.
The Eagle Awards were announced in the summer, at the UK Comic Expo in Bristol, with the Judge Dredd Megazine winning Best British Colour Comic. The 2000AD stable has always done well with the Eagles so this is not too much of a surprise, besides which The Meg contains some great strips and is only let down by variable quality non-fiction articles (a source of some comment that even occasionally can be found in the comic's own letter col). The evening following the Eagles would have been a celebratory one but reportedly (The Megazine no. 247) the editor of Comics International conducted an "unseemly rant against 2000AD and its publishers". Apparently it is now all sorted out. +++ DC Comics won 'Favourite Publisher' Eagle and Batman won 'Favourite Character'. +++ 2000AD staff member dies.
The Rosny SF Awards were presented at the French National Convention The (SF) novel category went to Goût de l'Immortalité [A Taste for Immortality] by Catherine Dufour. The (SF) short story category went to Les Yeux d'Elsa [The Eyes of Elsa] Sylvie Lainé.
The Merlin Awards for French fantasy were presented at the French National Convention. The Novel category went to Le Temps de l'Accomplissement [Time of Achievement] by M. H. Essling. The fantasy short Story Merlin went to Le Violon de la Fée [The Fairy's Violin] by Nathalie Dau.
The 2006 Prix Aurora Awards for Canadian science fiction and fantasy were presented by the by the Canadian SF & F Association in Toronto at TT20. The winner of the Best Long-Form Work in English was Cagebird by Karin Lowachee. (A sound win given that Robert Charles Wilson's Hugo winning Spin had also been short-listed for this category.) Details of all the other category wins can be found on The Aurora home page.
The 2006 Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers' Association was announced mid-summer. The Best Novel category was a tie and went to Creepers by David Morrell and Dread in the Beast by Charlie Jacob. The best Non-fiction went to Another 100 Best Books edited by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman. For further details and the full list of various category winners see the award's website at www.horror.org/stokers.htm.
Andre Norton and Lyn McConchie win New Zealand's Sir Julius Vogel Award for The Duke's Ballad (Tor, 2005). The announcement was mad at Conclave, the NZ Natcon, in Auckland, by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand whose site lists other category winners.
The Japanese Seiun Awards were announced at the 45th Japanese National Convention. Of interest to English language readers Greg Egan's Diaspora won the Foreign Long Story category. Details of the numerous categories of wins can be found in English on the SFWA site.
The Crime Writers' Association latest incarnation of the Dagger Awards sees its first short-list. (For the Award change see previous science fiction news.) The award nominations are: The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett; Raven Black by Ann Cleeves; Red Leaves by Thomas Cook; Safer Than Houses by Francis Fyfield; Wolves of Memory by Bill James; and A Thousand Lies by Laura Wilson. Translated novels (which caused all the original fuss) are eligible for the new £20K (US$35K) Duncan Lawrie International Dagger whose short-list is: Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri; Autumn of the Phantoms by Yasmina Khadra; Dead Horsemeat by Dominique Manotti; Borkemann's Point by Hakan Nesser; and Blood for the Saddle by Rafael Reig. +++ Dagger Award Panel Member Sacked Jane Jakeman had asked the CWA to fund the 5 judges travel, hotel and attendance costs for the prize-giving. The CWA refused. Judges receive a £250 honorarium and expenses to attend a short-listing meeting.
The BBC reviewed the history of SF over the summer. June and July were the best months for literally years in terms of genre coverage cum review. In a four part series on Radio 4 starting Thursday 22nd June, Francis Spufford covered four themes: utopias, invasions, space opera and empire in a series entitled Imagining Albion: The Great British Future - The History of Science Fiction. He was aided with contributions by authors Brian Aldiss, Iain Banks, Gwyneth Jones, Ian MacDonald among others, and in the mix was the geneticist Steve Jones. The series was trailed twice by pieces in other programmes. First by a feature in Radio 4's Women's Hour that naturally looked at the contribution of women writers such as Marge Piercy. Second by a feature in Radio 4's Open Book with the assistance of author Justina Robson and Gollancz editor Jo Fletcher. Justina put forward the notion that adult SF readers had a spell of reading SF and fantasy as a child. If you did not go through this phase you were unlikely to read SF later in life.
Nature's 'Futures' series of hard SF shorts is now open to receive submissions. PDF examples of the one page stories are here and the new guidelines to prospective contributors here.
Specialist sub-sections within this news section: SF News; SF Book Trade News; Major SF Author and Professional News; R.I.P; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; Film, Graphic Novel + TV News; and Net Watch.
The summer sadly saw us lose the following scientists and SF personalities:
James van Allen, the physicist who discovered what came to called the Van Allen Belt, has died aged 92. The discovery was made in 1958 with the Explorer 1 satellite of a radiation belt some 9,300 - 12,400 miles (15,000 - 20,000 km) above the Earth that traps high energy protons and electrons from the Sun in the Earth's magnetic field.
Jim Baen, the US SF editor died mid-summer aged 63. He was editor of the US magazine Galaxy (as opposed to the Hungarian Eurocon Award winning one) as well as If. He helped start Ace's and then Tor's SF imprints but is perhaps most famous for his own Baen Books from 1983.
Rich Brown a long-standing US fanzine fan died aged 64. His fanzine offerings included Focal Point (edited with Mike McInerney and then Arnie Katz) and then the solo Beardmutterings.
Peter Bryant, the British TV producer of ten original (1960s) 'Doctor Who' series adventures starring Patrick Troughton including The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Web of Fear, died aged 83.
Henry Bumstead, US film art director, died aged 91. His most famous SF credit is I Married a Monster From Out of Space.
Mike Damesick, the British fan, was found dead in his flat in Birmingham. He was a regular attender of the British national SF convention since the 1970s.
Ray(mond) Davis Jr. the physicist died aged 91. His life's work focussed on detecting neutrinos from space and the Sun using tanks of C2Cl4 underground in mines. In 2002 he won the Nobel for physics.
Tom Frame, the lead 2000AD and Megazine letterer, died early in July aged 75. The man was part of it all right back at the very beginning but, sadly, little recognised. However he was one of the Guest of Honours in 1980 at Hatfield PSIFA's Shoestringcon 2 as part of the 2000AD team (along with author guest Ian Watson). Way back then the then PSIFA crew (which includes a couple of the present Concatenation team) would occasionally drop in on 2000AD's former command module (in
Tharg IPC Tower) and Tom would always look up and say, 'I bet you don't remember who I am'. A quietly devious ploy ensuring that visiting PSIFAns always did. Lettering is not often valued but is an essential part of comic strip production for when it goes wrong it isn't half noticeable. So Tom's continuous and reliable contribution to 2000AD was intrinsically valuable, but importantly his continual role over the years made him a feature in the 2000AD landscape. Consequently when Essential SF was produced, and 2000AD had an entry (qualified because of its numerous fan-voted Eagle wins), Tom got a mention! Tom was lettering up to the end including a Wagner (script) / Kennedy (art) Dredd story 'Who's Wally?' published the month of his demise. He worked right up until his death. The absence of his credit in forthcoming issues of 2000 and The Meg will be missed by far more fans than he ever realised.
David Gemmell the British fantasy author died aged 57. His first book was Legend (1984) and he went on to author well over a score of books that were well received and attracted a sizeable readership. He had just had heart by-pass surgery a few weeks earlier and seemed to be doing well. An author to the end, he reportedly died at his word processor at his home in East Sussex. The second part in his 'Troy' trilogy is published this autumn. (John Jarrold has written an obituary on the BBC site.)
Paul Gleason, the US film actor, died apparently aged 67 (not 62 as he would have liked people to believe). His most famous genre role is perhaps in the Doc Savage (1975) film adaptation.
Val Guest the writer and director died in May aged 94. Most famously in SF terms directed a number of 'fantastic films' including the early 'Quatermass' films and The Day the Earth Caught Fire.
Peter Hawkins, the British actor, died aged 82. His voice was heard perhaps most recognizably on Captain Pugwash but in SFnal terms he will always be most famous as the first voice of the Daleks and the cybermen.
Henrietta, Charles Darwin's tortoise, dies aged 175. Henrietta originally came from the Galapagos Isles and was shipped to the UK by Darwin in the Beagle. She then was moved to Australia where she spent most of the 20th century before her death. (Ed: err, hardly an SF author or scientist...)
Philip E(mpson) High, British SF author died aged 92. He began writing short stories, a number with intriguing SF concepts, in the 1950. A dozen of his novels or story anthologies have since appeared (1964-1979) and these tend to feature a (usually joe-average) protagonist discovering that they have a (key) place in a bigger scheme that and/or involves overcoming some adversary that affects humanity. His lightweight novels were in 1970s Britain popular among a body of SF readers and their wish-fulfilment elements lended them young adult appeal. He spent much of his life down the road from Concatenation's former mission control in Kent and was an avid SF reader. Around the turn of the millennium Cosmos Books have republished some of his shorts in a collection as well as a few of his novels.
Tim Hildebrandt, the US fantasy artist, died in June aged 67. With his (surviving) twin brother Greg he created the original, iconic Star Wars poster. He and his brother also did a series of 1970s Tolkien calendars, and many book covers.
Jean-Pierre Hubert, the French SF author, died in May aged 64. He is perhaps best known for Le Champ du Reveur [The Field of Dreams] in 1983 which won the SF Grand Prix and the Prix Rose Aine
Leigh Anne Hussey, the US filk fan died in May aged 44. She was killed in a motorbike accident. She also wrote fantasy horror short stories.
George Kashdan has died aged 78. A writer and editor most known for his work with DC comics, including Superman, Batman, and Aquaman. Besides working for DC from 1946-'68 and then for Gold Key, he also scripted some 1960s super hero-themed television, including Aquaman; The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure; and The New Adventures of Aquaman. He was largely responsible for the 'Brave and the Bold' format that saw Batman team up with a different hero each issue.
Robert Leman long-standing US fan, died aged 84. He also has written a few short stories one of which was nominated for a Nebula.
Gyorgy Ligeti the Hungarian composer whose work was used in 2001: A Space Odyssey, died in June aged 83.
Bruce Merrifield the US chemist, died aged 85. He is most noted for the development of solid-phase peptide synthesis for which he won the 1985 Nobel for chemistry. This enabled synthetic proteins and other biomolecules to be synthesised, a process of great value to the pharmaceutical industry.
Peter Mottley, a British fan, died aged 71. He frequently attended the Pangbourne (near Reading) SF group pub meetings. He wrote a comic novel in 1972, The Sex Bar.
Gytha North, a UK fan, died at the end of May aged 55 after a short battle with cancer. A number of us on the Concat' team knew Gytha especially as she was on the organising committee of the 1988 UK Eastercon, the year after our original team were involved with the 1987 BECCON Eastercon (that year's national convention). So that year Gytha used to regularly ask us how things were going and for us to let her know of problem areas she and her team might encounter. Gytha went on to become arguably best known for being one of the founding moving lights of the UK filk movement and was recognised by the Filk Hall of Fame in 2001. Terry Pratchett apparently even named his Discworld witch Gytha (Nanny) Ogg after her. May she sing with the choir invisibule.
Karl T. Pflock, the US ex-CIA author of some short SF and the critical book Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe, died in June aged 63.
Robert Sterling, the US actor, who in genre terms most famously co-starred in the 1950s Topper TV series and played the captain in Voyage to the Bottom of The Sea (1961), died aged 88.
Frankie Thomas, the US actor who famously starred in the 1950s US TV series Tom Corbett: Space Cadet, died aged 85. He was to be a special guest at this year's Worldcon, L.A.con IV, which has a space-cadets theme. He was, as he wanted, buried in his Tom Corbett costume.
Dr Lee Jong-Wook, Director-General of the UN agency the World Health Organization, died aged 61. He became Director-General in July 2003 but had a total of 23 years with WHO. A Korean, he will be remembered by those with whom he worked for his attempts to bring AIDS medicines to 3 million in poor countries as well as for leading global efforts to tackle avian flu.
David Maloney a Dr Who TV series director, has died. He was also producer for the first two series of Blake's 7 and BBC's Day of the Triffids 1981 mini-series.
Jim Overmyer a Michigan-based fan died in May. He had for many years been a conrunner.
Zora Seljan, the Brazilian SF writer, died aged 88. She was one of the cohort of writers for Brazil's first specialist SF/fantasy publisher GRD (Gumercindo Rocha Dorea).
Alex Toth the North American comics artist, died in May. Among many strips, he drew Green Lantern, Flash, and Batman.
Pascual Enguídanos Usach (a.k.a. George White) died aged 82 back on March 28th (we did not get the news until May). He is recognised for his La Saga de los Aznar [The Saga of the Aznar] sequence that began in the 1950s and ran to 59 novelettes. Famous as an SF author in Spain he also won a Eurocon Award in 1978.
Kurt von Trojan, the Austrian SF author who lived much of his life in Australia, died aged 68. Clute's encyclopaedia cites his best work as the non-SF autobiographical novel Mars in Scorpio while the Australian Bullsheet notes his SF novel The Atrocity Shop.
Elizabeth Walter, the British ghost story writer, died (we understand) in her 70s. Some of her work was screened in the 1970s Ghost Story TV series.
George W. Wetherill, US geochemist and planetary scientist, has died at the age of 80. His first major area of work was on the use of long-lived isotopes to date old geological strata that enabled a wider range of rocks (such as granite that do not contain rare uranium ores) to be dated. Then he moved to studying orbital mechanics and showed how an asteroid belt object could end up on a collision course with Earth. Finally he looked at the formation of Earth-like planets and his work here concluded that Earth-like planets might be as big as several times that on Earth. (Since then the extra solar planets so far detected lighter than 10 Earth masses could represent just a fraction at the high en of a meaningful population in the Galaxy of near Earth-size Earth-like planets.) His earlier work also predicted that an asteroid hitting Mars could result in a bit of Mars reaching Earth and other work supported - now widely believed - theories as to how the Moon was formed.
Alexander Zinoviev, the Russian philosopher and author, died aged 83 in Moscow. His The Yawning Heights (1976) is a dystopian satire paralleling the old Sov-Bloc. Following the publication of The Radient Future 1978 he was given the choice of exile in Siberia or deportation for behavious damaging to Soviet prestige. He went to Munich, Germany. In 1990 his citizenship was restored but he did not return to Moscow to live until 1999.
The other sub-sections within SF News to which you can jump are: SF Book Trade News; Major SF Author and Professional News; R.I.P; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; Film, Graphic Novel + TV News; and Net Watch.
SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS
The US Science Fiction/Fantasy imprint Pyr have changed their UK distributor. They are now distributed through Gazelle Book Services Limited, White Cross Mills, High Town, Lancaster. LA1 4XS, Tel: +44(0)152468765, Fax: +44(0)152463232, Sales AT gazellebooks DOT co DOT uk, www.gazellebooks.co.uk.
Blackwells Publishing is the first international publisher to commit to becoming carbon neutral. Blackwell is one of the UK's top five science publishers and the World's largest scientific society publisher. It has announced it is becoming carbon neutral. To achieve this Blackwell worked with the CarbonNeutral Company and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management. Blackwell has affirmed that it is not just its journal and book production to become carbon neutral but its distribution operation too. Solar panel and forestry projects in the UK and overseas are being funded by Blackwells to achieve its target. The learned societies for whom Blackwells publish include the British Ecological Society, the oldest ecological science society in the World.
Random House is to increase the amount of recycled paper it uses to 30%. Currently the US publisher uses 3% recycled The plans are to phase in the increase to 30% recycled by 2010. Random House is apparently the first major US publisher to undertake such an initiative.
The proofing and subbing of books has taken another step towards becoming truly paperless. PaperlessProofs is a new package attracting quite a bit of interest in the profession.
Waterstone's, the UK bookstore chain, has finally taken over Ottakar's! This represents the end of a long saga, which you could not make up if you tried. Ottakar's board accepted a £62.8m (US$113m) offer from Waterstone's, which amazingly was £33m less than originally offered, such has been the length of time and various gyrations including a Government agency inquiry (see last season's science fiction news for the start of the news chain). So Waterstone's parent HMV ultimately benefits from the saving, while Ottakar's shareholders lose out. Is this the end? Don't bet on it. Business for both chains is not (reportedly) buoyant, and the UK newsagent chain W. H. Smiths has in the recent past also indicated interest these bookchains...
As the imprint Little Brown returns to good old Blighty (that's Britain for our overseas surfers) and so the SF imprint Orbit moves its base of operations to the US. Orbit and Little Brown now both belong to TimeWarner which is also now in turn owned by Hachette Livre (see last season's science fiction news.) Orbit's SF editor Tim Holman has moved to New York and is now also responsible for Anglophone SF in both the US and Australasia. +++ This is all part of globalization, demonstrating if nothing else that for better or worse book publishing is not immune. For better because internet sales and other globalization factors means that worldwide language imprints make sense. One obvious move would be for SF writers to make one Anglophone rights sale rather than separate deals for US and the UK. For worse, as we previously reported in 2005 a third of Hachette's income (back then at any rate) comes from the defence company EADS (European Aeronautical Defence and Space) who manufactures the European airbus as well as cruise missiles, fighter planes, attack copters and so forth. This now really puts authors with an ethical and political conscience on the spot as today all the big UK SF publishers ultimately come under Hachette. What will such authors do? (For example authors like Orbit's Iain Banks who tore up his passport and mailed it to Tony Blair in protest over the Iraq war.)
New US science fiction book imprint to be launched - Cosmos Books. Dorchester Publishing and Wildside Press are to launch a new mass-market paperback line, publishing both science fiction and fantasy called Cosmos Books. It will be launched in June 2007 with two titles a month. It will showcase works by bestselling classic and award-winning contemporary authors under the editorship of Sean Wallace, Executive Editor, and John Betancourt, President and Publisher of Wildside Press.
Random House's Ebury gets stake in BBC Books. As previously reported in last autumn's science fiction news page, BBC Books has had a rough time financially and was seeking a commercial partner. Now Random House has bought an 80% stake in BBC Books and will integrate many BBC projects into its Ebury imprint: Ebury will be able to publish using the BBC name and the BBC retains some of the shares and so gets part of the profits. One of the first ventures this autumn is a book spun off the Planet Earth series. Some of the 40 staff at BBC Books are likely to see their jobs go, but these are talented folk who helped turn aro8nd BBC Books' loss to a £1m profit last year.
Manga specialist does deal with UK publisher. TokyoPop, currently the largest manga specialist outside of Japan, has signed an exclusive sales and distribution deal with PanMacmillan.
Wildside Audio Library is to be launched in US in October. Included in both CD and MP3 formats will be Robert E. Howard's The Phoenix and the Sword, Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror and The Call of Cthulhu, Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone and H. Beam Piper's cuddly alien environmental story Little Fuzzy.
The Spanish magazine Asimov Ciencia Ficción [Asimov SF] has stopped being produced. Its last issue was no. 21 and its publisher, Robel, has also ceased trading. Source: Espora of the Asociación Española de Fantasía, Ciencia Ficción y Terror.
Science Fiction books are not 'good books'! According - by omission - to the recent summer's The Good Book Guide as used by many British booksellers, there was no SF or Fantasy section, yet there were 4 pages of 'Crime & Thriller' books. So fiction about murder and evil is all right and books that stretch the imagination are not? The saving grace was that the guide contained a non-fiction book about Poe and a reprint of his The Murders in the Rue Morgue were listed. There was also a page of 'Science & Discovery'.
Threat to tax UK authors' agent's fees largely lifted. British entertainer presenters Richard and Judy lost their case against the Inland Revenue who will now be charging them tax on their author agent fees. UK authors feared that this would mean that they would face increased tax bills. However the revenue has confirmed that though they will recover such tax from entertainers and sports-people they will not from authors who are self-employed: those like Richard and Judy who receive a salary will face the tax. Nonetheless the position is still unclear for SF authors for whom writing is ancillary to a salaried position. Concat's advice passed on from a few within the business is not to rock the boat, quietly declare all and put some money aside for a few years in case the IR decide to back claim this tax. This is going to be bad news for popular science writers in the UK who also have university or research institute salaries and so for science communication.
UK authors be wary of having US editors. The Association of Authors says that the US editors' practice of only paying half or less royalties for many of the books they export outside the US is out of line with UK practice. Aside from being intrinsically unfair, ironically UK authors who publish a book solely through a US editor can receive substantially less royalties for copies sold in their own country!. This problem is likely to get worse as North American and British Isles production increasingly sees production on just one side of the Atlantic. SF authors are urged to discuss this with their agents.
Brit publishers are upset by US editions being sold direct to Europe. If only because the US population is just shy of 300 million (and there is also Canada on top) while the UK is just shy of 60 million (though there is southern Ireland too), US books can be produced far cheaper than UK books. Yet because of a long-standing agreement between the UK and US editions can be sold in continental Europe. But now, because Britain is in the European Union, US editions can be exported from continental Europe to the UK in competition with UK editions. This problem applies only to books first published in the US: books first published in the UK have exclusive rights in Europe. Some book dealers welcome the competition but then they are in the selling and not the publishing business. The problem for UK publishers is that the different-sized UK and US markets, and that many US publishers pay their authors less royalties for copies sold outside the US (see previous item). This means that there is not a level playing field for fair competition. It is also another reason for Brit SF authors (and their agents) to ensure that they are published in the UK first.
AbsoluteWrite.com, a popular forum for swapping information on writing, publishing and associated scams, was taken down by its ISP (JC-Hosting) at one hour's notice early in the summer on the 23rd of May, Ansible reports. The alleged cause was a complaint from Barbara Bauer (who features in the SFWA/Writer Beware list of the 20 worst agents) and has a habit of threatening to sue those who mention this undeniable fact. (She has even reportedly tried to get Teresa Nielsen Hayden fired from Tor Books on this account.) It was an unfortunate coincidence that JC-Hosting's owner, Stephanie Cordray, had just relaunched her own web forum for information on writing, etc, etc. Why AbsoluteWrite wasn't allowed time to retrieve its message database, and why JC-Hosting kept issuing contradictory stories and bizarre excuses for not handing over gigabytes of intellectual property belonging to others (released at last in June), is still unclear and possibly criminal.
100 rural UK libraries could close. Despite urban library use growing in 2004/5 many rural libraries are underfunded. The Bookseller reported that Devon & Cornwall spent just £1224 a head compared to London's £25 on libraries. MP Lyn Brown, Chair of the all-party Parliamentary group on Libraries & Information Management, suggests that UK libraries need a development agency. A promotion around the 2007 World Book Day is being contemplated.
World Book Day will be 10 next year. It will therefore launch 10 children's £1 books instead of the usual 6. The 2007 World Book Day will be on the weekend of 1-4th March. +++ UK sales during the 2006 World Book Day were up 3.8% on previous week's sales.
Dark They Were and Golden Eyed closed 25 years ago! July's Ansible reminds us. An absolutely brilliant shop of books and comics much loved by members of the SF&DA, it was central London's principal SF book and comics shop in the late 1970s to early '80s. Located off Wardour Street with an ally down one side with apartments that offered 'French tuition', it was a must visit whenever founding members of the Concat' team went to see a West End film.
And finally news relating to nearly 1,000 years ago. In 1086 the Normans compiled The Doomsday Book that listed all the people and property in England (and bits of Wales) so that taxes could be accurately levied. Now in the 21st century you can access it on line but, as with the original, it will cost the people. Each page costs £3.50p (US$6) to download!
More book trade news early in January. Meanwhile...
The other sub-sections within SF News to which you can jump are: SF Book Trade News; Major SF Author and Professional News; R.I.P; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; Film, Graphic Novel + TV News; and Net Watch.
MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS
Stephen Baxter has been invited to become a Vice President of the H.G. Wells Society, and so joins Brian Aldiss, Arthur C. Clarke, as well as Michael Foot and some academic luminaries as officers. (not to be confused with the H. G. Wells Society in Timisoara, Romania.)
Greg Bear and Jack Williamson received the 2006 Robert Heinlein Award from the Heinlein Society at the 2006 Worldcon in LA. Williamson's most recent book is the space-time adventure The Stonehenge Gate. Bear's most recent story is a near-future techno-thriller Quantico and he also has a hard SF novel with deep-time consequences in the pipeline.
Ray Bradbury celebrated his 86th birthday in August and is still going strong. He reported he is working on a new screenplay of The Martian Chronicles (last aired as a TV mini-series in 1980) and hopes that 2008 will see the screening of a new film version of Fahrenheit 451 (last filmed by Francois Truffaut in 1966).
Ramsey Campbell bellows, "It's Secret Stories!" in the midst of the opening ceremony of this year's Festival of Fantastic Films following the Fest's co-chair's proclamation of Ramsey's success in being short-listed for the 2006 Brtish Fantasy Award for -- it was announced -- 'Secret Stones'! Ramsey hismelf was nanchalant about the short-list, being a little bemused as Secret Stories is not the out-and-out horror for which he is better known but consits of more mainstream stories with, perhaps, a fantasy edge. The British Fantasy Awards were announced at the end of September after we posted this season's news page. +++ Following the Fest's opening ceremony there was the international premiere (or preview of the penultimate edit) of The Death of Poe and Ramsey then interviewed its director and lead actor Mark Renfield. Further details of which and other happenings at this year's Fest will be covered in the next of our full SF convention reviews.
Stephen R. Donaldson and Jennifer Dunstan got married in June in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Raymond E. Feist will be touring the British Isles in the latter half of September to promote his latest fantasy, Into A Dark Realm (so alas only those of you who check this seasonal news page out as it is uploaded early in September will benefit). He will be undertake a number of bookshop signing sessions including in: London (Forbidden Planet & Waterstones (EC3V 1PJ)), Manchester (Deansgate Waterstones), Nottingham (Waterstones), Leeds (Borders), Glasgow (Borders (Buchanan St)), Reading (Broad St Waterstones), Southampton (Waterstones (S014 7FE)), Chelmsford, Birmingham (Forbidden Planet), Milton Keynes (Ottakars), Bury St Edmunds (Ottakars), Dublin and Belfast. He will also be at the FantasyCon in Nottingham with Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman.
Neil Gaiman will be signing his new book Fragile Things at London's Forbidden Planet bookshop Tuesday 26th September. As per above he will also be at Fantasycon.
Paul Kearney, author of the 'Sea Beggars' sequence has launched his new look website at www.paulkearneyonline.com.
Stan Lee is to make a rare appearance at a large comics event as he is one of the main guests at the forthcoming commercially (as opposed to fan) organised New York Comic-Con 23rd - 25th February 2007. Though Stan Lee was born and spent most of his life in New York, he has effectively been away from the city for some two decades working in Los Angeles. he is also scheduled to be at the opening the same weekend of New York's new Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA).
Michael Moorcock brings back Jerry Cornelius in a Nature short. Moorcock claims, in his Nature by-paragraph, "to have invented the multiverse in 1961 but then he claims to have created London in 1965, the same year he created Jerry Cornelius." Because the story's enjoyment in no small part necessitates prior knowledge of Jerry Cornelius, Concat will not be including it in its selection of Futures shorts. However if you are university based then log on via your library and you can access the Nature website (most universities have a Nature institutional subscription). The story is called "The Visible Men" and appears in vol 441, page 382.
Terry Pratchett, after many years, will not have an adult Discworld book out this year. Fortunately for Pratchett fans he has other offerings a TV film script and the related novel re-print due out this autumn. +++ Terry's novel Buch [Thud!] has been in the Czech Republic's top ten fiction (all classes) chart.+++ STOP PRESS: Terry has his dates sorted for next year as the Hogfather 2007 Calendar is now out with stills from the op-coming Sky One adaptation. You can even order it from a good bookshop as it has an ISBN! ISBN 0-575-07927-4 and from Orion Books. +++ Also there's the 'Ankh-Morpork Post Office Handbook: Discworld Diary 2007'. In which you will learn the date in history for Master Richard Scallion becoming by far the youngest person to be dismissed from the post office for writing 'Oh yes they do' on a package bearing the inscription 'Priceless engravings -- Do not bend'. The diary is hardback, includes both UK, N. American and Australasian public days. Cost £12.99. Again from Orion ISBN 0-575-07723-9. (OK so this is not really author news but it doesn't easily fit in 'forthcoming books', besides we got the news late and these products are somewhat time limited.)
Robert Rankin, as regulars will know from our last autumn's science fiction news, has not been well. Sproutlore has sent out news that unfortunately this year he will not be able to do his usual UK signing tour. Sproutlore did though hold an event in August to mark the launch of The Toyminator, his latest novel. 100 attended and there was news that his novel The Brightonomicon is being turned into a 13-part radio play hopefully for (UK) Channel 4's new digital radio service, but the pilot at least will be available to fans via www.brightonomicon.netfirms.com.
Justina Robson together with Gollancz editor Jo Fletcher gave a trail interview on Radio 4 for the four-part summer series on the history of SF that ran over the summer. Justina said that SF books went through a major change in the 1980s with Iain Banks' culture series and Peter Hamilton's novels. Jo let us know that she fights hard to get her seniors to put forward SF novels for major literary prizes as they normally shun SF.
J. K. Rowling corroborated rumours revealing that she was contemplating killing off Harry Potter in the final (7th) book. +++ Authors John Irving and Stephen King pleaded 'don't do it', to Rowling when all three appeared in New York for a charity reading in August.
Robert J. Sawyer has won the 2006 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Novel (not to be confused with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer) for Mindscan (Tor (US)). It concerns a young man who copies his consciousness into an artificial body, since he believes his biological body is about to die due to a congenital illness. But shortly after, a cure is found and the biological version must battle the copy to be considered the real Jake.
Ian Watson sort of joins that club of authors whose SF predicts science fact. Watson had a short SF 'Futures' story published in Nature entitled "Nadia's Nectar" ( vol 441, and worryingly p666) which is all about (ahem) pee being sold as a health drink. The story refers to the fact that pharmaceutical companies do occasionally use pee from which to extract biomolecules. This though is old hat. What was a little prescient was that a week later in the very next issue of Nature (vol 441, p671) was the news that its sister journal Nature Medicine had published a paper describing the discovery of an antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin in human urine. On returning from a GoH at a Hungarian con and before departure to Spain, Ian remarked to Concat' 'what a seer I am'. +++ Ian Watson has also been voted overseas regional director of the Science Fiction Writers of America.
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro had a health check being the latest author to be confirmed a 'Living Legend' by the International Horror Guild.
For SF author websites click SF author links.
The 2006 Worldcon was held in Los Angeles, US, at the end of August. Roughly, some 6,000 or so people actually attended (as opposed to registered but didn't make it). Much of the programme had an international appeal and as usual a lot relating to North American SF & fandom, but there were few items geared to specific nations outside of the host continent. There was one on a short-lived but much loved German SF TV series, two Japan-related items on fandom and SF books and films (good preparation for next year's Worldcon), and an item on SF in Australia. There was also the usual spread of parties, too many to list. Of those held that related to fandom outside of N. America there was a: 'Thank You' party from the Interaction 2005 (Glasgow) Worldcon/Eurocon organisers; a 'Friendly Scandinavians' party; a TAFF party; and, of course, a party held by the organisers of next year's Japanese Worldcon who also ran a Hugo party for those nominated and who won.
The aforementioned Interaction 'Thank You' party saw a steady stream of folk but was never over-crowded. In addition to the whiskey, the room's wall was decorated with co-chair Vince Docherty's kilt, as one of the party's themes was 'time to hang up the kilt'. The 2006 Worldcon kindly sponsored ribbons in recognition of the 2005 Glasgow Eurocon/Worldcon that read 'So long, and thanks for all the haggis'. The 2005 Interaction Worldcon in turn sponsored tea and coffee for the WSFS business meeting.
Science at the 2006 Worldcon. From the advance programme the good news is that, as has been usual in the past decade or so, there was a fair bit of science and technology on the programme. Astronomy and space tended to dominate a little. This is also usual but this year understandable as the convention had a 'space cadets' theme. Less forgivable was that most of the science and technology items were on the first three days with little on the last two: indeed Saturday saw three science items slated to clash! Nonetheless there was something for most into science, and those treading the science fact & fiction boundary might have been able to attend items on the following:-
The Worst Future You Can Imagine; Mars On Earth -- Adventures of Space Pioneers in the Utah Desert; Okay, You've Got The Moon, What're You Gonna Do With It?; Mars Exploration Rovers -- Year 2; Nuclear Weapon Strategies; The Day Job -- SF fans and writers with a science day job; Bad Astronomy; Interstellar Travel And Biotechnology; Does Science Have A Future? (with an odd (US centric maybe?) notion in the panel brief that science budgets are declining!); No, Really, That Makes Sense -- Rationalising what may at first seem absurdly fantastical concepts; 21st Century Snake Oil; Science In The News; Forensic Science Fiction; The Cold Worlds: Colonizing The Outer Solar System; Memory, Sleep, And Dreams; Physics Circus -- science demonstrations; Magnifying Mars From Orbit With HiRiSE; The Chinese Space Program; Mars Attacks (more bad astronomy); Space Drives: From Launch Lasers To Warp Drives; Changing Human Nature; The Future Of Medicine; European Space Programs (sic); Is The Scientific Method The Death Of God?; The Physics of Superheroes; Exploring Space; How We'll Get There -- Humans To Mars; Nanotechnology: The Future Or A Dying Fad?; Swimming In The Gene Pool; When Things Go Wrong In Space; Extraterrestrials; The Ethics Of Cloning; Scientific Fraud; Frankenfood To Frankenpeople (gene modification technology); Metropolis: The Future of Big Cities; Future Space: New NASA Initiatives For The 21st Century; Cool New Technology; Inside Cassini; Alternative Energy Sources and Conservation; How To Do Research; and Whatever Happened To The "Science" In Science Fiction?
The Worldcon 'Big Heart Award' has been re-branded as the Forrest Ackerman Big Heart Award. It was therefore appropriate that the first to receive the re-branded award at this year's Worldcon was Forrest J. Ackerman himself.
The Prometheus Awards were also presented at the Worldcon. The winners were:-
Best Novel:Learning the World by Ken MacLeod (which by sheer coincidence we considered back in the New Year as one of the best SF novels of 2005).
Best Classic Fiction: V for Vendetta the Alan Moore and David Lloyd graphic novel.
Special Award: Serenity the film directed by Jos Whedon.
The Prometheus Award is managed by the Libertarian Futurist Society and is given to SF works that explore freedom.
Scuttlebutt at the Worldcon. Apparently the sign welcoming folk to, and announcing the Worldcon read 'L.A.Con IV 64th Annual Science Fiction Convention August 23-27'. Problem with this? Well read it closely and it actually doesn't mention that it's a 'Worldcon' or a World convention. It also could look as if L.A. held an annual SF convention every year for 64 years. Is it a big problem? Well probably not but then the World SF Society (WSFS) under whose auspices the Worldcon is run have actually registered the term 'Worldcon' (which of course maybe (tongue in cheek) why it was left off the sign). +++ 'Eurocon' is not registered which is perhaps why if you Google 'Eurocon' you get other non-ESFS (European SF Society) events coming up. +++ Though perhaps not the greatest issue facing the SF community one can't but help feel that the L.A. venue making tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars could have listened to any complaints made. Further had, say, Coca Cola hired the venue for an international sales force gathering of its staff then you can bet they would have been vociferous had they been billed as a 'Coke' event. +++ Science politics did raise its head at the WSFS business meeting with some fans trying to force through a stand on Pluto's new astro-nomenclature status in the Solar system.
Some pictures from the 2006 Worldcon can be found on the mid-American fan photo archive here.
The 2006 Eurocon was held in Kiev (Ukraine's capital) over Easter weekend. Further to the report previously given in our summer SF news, see here for Jonathan's convention trip article.
The 2007 Eurocon will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark next September. Further to last time's core details and weblink a professional convention organiser has been chosen to handle hotel bookings. The website is also being redesigned and should be up before Christmas (we will link again to it next time). John Angelmark is now slated on the committee to co-ordinate overseas agents. A newsletter is also forthcoming.
The 2008 Eurocon will be held in Moscow, Russia. Brit science fantasy author Neil Gaiman, US fantasy author G. R. R. Martin and Russian horror writer Sergei Lukyanenko are the Guests of Honour. (Sergei wrote the 'Nightwatch' sequence of books that are really BIG in Russia and the Russian-speaking Sov Block nations (a review of the 2006 English translated collected UK edition of which will be posted next time) and the (Eurocon Award-winning) film has done really well too!) The venue has yet to be decided but it looks as if the convention will be scheduled for May. This last will come as a huge relief to many who attended the Eurocon bidding sessions in 2005 and 2006. Not because it avoids a possible clash with one other nation's national convention (which in fact is the least of any Eurocon's problems) but because a con timed February to March in Moscow (which was what was initially suggested) would have seen temperatures of between -15 and -5 degrees C whereas in May it will be plus 5 to 17 degrees C which makes a day's advance sight seeing quite pleasant.
Far future Eurocons: Italy, Hungary and Spain (see below) have all put down markers for future Eurocons.
The Spanish and Portuguese are still hoping to bid for a joint Eurocon in 2012. It is proposed to hold the event in Cadiz. The mayoress of Cadiz is reported as being supportive.
The 2007 Worldcon latest details are as follows: Nippon 2007 will be held 30th Aug - 3rd Sept 2007) at Pacifico Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan. The GoHs are: Sakyo Komatsu, David Brin. FGoH: Takumi Shibano. AGoHs: Yoshitaka Amano and Michael Whelan. Adult attending membership (up to 6th June '07): US$220/£125/€186/¥26000. For other options, see website. Postal address: Nippon2007/JASFIC, 4-20-5-604, Mure, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-0002 Japan // Australian agent: Craig Macbride (nippon07 at f8d dot com), PO Box 274, World Trade Centre, Vic, 8005, Australia // European agent: Vincent Doherty (vj1709 at hotmail dot com), Koninginnegracht 75a, 2514A Den Haag, Netherlands // North American agent: Peggy Rae Sapienza (peggyraes at Comcast dot net), Box 314, Annapolis Junction MD 20701, USA // UK agent: Mike "Sparks" Rennie (sparks at lspace dot org), 68 Crichton Avenue, Burton Stone Lane, York, YO30 6EE, United Kingdom of Great Britain./// It is the first Worldcon in Asia: a combination of that and the Japanese National SF Convention (JASFIC), with several thousand attendees. English-language programming will predominate. Some items (in each language) will be translated beforehand, and others will use simultaneous interpreting. +++ See also new one-off Europe to Japan fan fund.
The 2008 Worldcon is to be held in Denver, US. Devention III won the bid at this year's Worldcon. Lois McMaster Bujold is the author GoH so far announced. The convention sees a move from the US Labour Day date that is sometimes when US Worldcons are held, so freeing up the Labour Day holiday for US fans.
For links to Worldcon bid websites check out the Worldcon bid page.
For a list of 2006 national and major conventions, check out our convention diary for 2006.
FANDOM &: OTHER NEWS
The 33rd French National Convention was held in Bellaing in the extreme north of the country. Despite the very wet weather over 100 attended. There were the usual speeches and debates, among which one of the most interesting was on the future and development of E-books: the managers of the main SF E-books publisher, Eons being present. Other SF personalities were in attendance. As usual at the convention there was the artist Didier Cottier. Also there was Henri-Layon Oldie, "an Ukrainian author" who earlier in the year won a Eurocon Award for Best Author. Inverted commas are used because H-L Oldie is in fact two writers working together, Dimitri Gromov and Oleg Ladyjski. Unfortunately communication was very difficult with neither speaking French and one of them only speaking some English. As is not unusual at the French National convention there was an outing and this year it was to an ancient mine as it was the location for several parts of a French SF TV series based on the Compagnie Des Glaces [Icy Company] novels (of which more than sixty in the series have been published to date). There was also the playing of a 'Game of Liars' designed and animated by the fan and author Alain le Bussy. The best liar was the convention organizer, Pierre Gevart! During the convention the Rosny and Merlin Awards, for Best French SF and fantasy respectively, were announced. The Cyrano Award (for lifetime SF literary achievement named after Cyrano de Bergerac) went to Jean-Pierre Fontana. +++ Next year the 2007 French NatCon will be held in April and for the first time outside Europe, in Montreal, Canada. (Is this surrogate national natcon a first for the SF community?) +++ The site for 2008 was announced as Nyons in the Drôme, which is more or less midway between Lyon and Marseille. It will be held at the end of August.
The new President of the AEFCFT (Spanish Association for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror) will be Víctor Gallardo. His term of office begins in January.
Hispacon will be held in 3rd -5th November in Córdoba. Guests include Elia Barceló and posibly Michelle Houellebecq, John C. Wright, Thomas M. Disch, Antoine Volodine and Ian Watson. The summer saw Spanish fans rallying conrunners. Spanish fans have had difficulty in recent years in marshalling skilled conrunners but hope to establish regular conventions and even hold a Eurocon. Córdoba is an old cultural city in the south of Spain with a part Arabic history.
There will be a Portuguese convention, Forum Fantastico, in November in Libson. Some 200 - 300 are expected to attend. Guests include the following authors: Juan Miguel Aguilera (who is also published these days in France); León Arsenal and Rodolfo Martínez (these two are both winners of Spain's top SF award, the Minutauro [The Minotaur Award].
India's SF studies newsletter launched. The first issue of the IASFS (Indian Association for SF Studies) Newsletter was launched over the summer. It includes an article on the SF film Krrish which in part borrows a concept from the US film Paycheck (which, of course was in turn based on a Philip K. Dick story) and is a sequel to what has been called India's first SF film Koi Mil Gaya. Also included are the preliminary details of this year's IASFS conference 11 - 12 November. We are not sure whether electronic PDF copies of the newsletter are free. Paper (hard) copies are only available by a modest subscription but the difficulties of currency transference might mean that the IASFS sends non-Indian registrants outside the country the PDF by e-mail. As said, we are not sure, but dare say things will settle down soon. Meanwhile you can enquire of Ms Remma Sarwal at reema DOT sarwal AT gmail DOT com.
Bridget Bradshaw won the 2006 TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) race. She will therefore receive the monies raised and so was the British TAFF fan attending the Worldcon in LA at the end of the summer. She was a strong candidate to win due to her connections with the SF Foundation in the UK. The surprise this side of the Pond is that Arthur (1/2r) Cruttendon did not do nearly so well given he has been attending the London SF Circle and conventions since around the time of the 1965 London Worldcon. That he did not have a stronger showing may be either because he might be perceived as a passive fan (though he does do the occasional fan project) or because he is somewhat unknown stateside (which actually would be the reason for him going!). He also very much entered into the spirit of the TAFF race producing candidate's reports. (Perhaps if these focussed on some of his past fan escapades through the decades, rather than the race, he might have greater demonstrated his eligibility?) Nonetheless Bridget makes a fine TAFF delegate who no doubt waved the Liverpool U. based SF Foundation flag during her visit.
TAFF fund event knocks London's LOTNA SF fan meeting for six. The one-day TAFF event early in the summer at the Horseshoe Inn did indeed clash with a regular LOTNA event (see our summer science fiction news page). Fortunately some of the LOTNA members were away and so it was to be a smaller meeting anyway (and apparently the Concat alert on our last season's news page also helped), but the regular meeting had previously been advertised in the LOTNA Contact newsletter. So it was that a small number of the LOTNA regulars were unaware that their free event had been replaced by a 'pay for' one. As LOTNA only meets the 2nd and 4th Saturdays the TAFF event organisers surely might have picked another Saturday especially as LOTNA was mentioned on the TAFF event flier... Having said that, the pub itself confused TAFF with LOTNA not realising that there may be another SF group wishing to use the pub. +++ But Sproutlore do it right when subsequently they held their day to mark the launch of Rankin's latest book and there was no clash with the resident group that meets the evenings of the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month. It is now becoming clear that the Horseshoe Inn, (Melior St, 3 minutes walk SE of London Bridge rail and underground station) is becoming a popular venue for SF events.
Nominations for the 2007 TAFF eastbound trip are now open. North American fans need to provide nominations from 5 fans (3 North American, 2 European), a 100-word platform, US$20 administration fee, and a pledge that if they win, that they will travel to Britain for the 2007 Eastercon. Details: Suzanne Tompkins at SuzleT AT aol DOT com.
The 2007 FFANZ (Fan Fund for Australia and New Zealand) Race is now on. Nominations are open for the trip this time from Australia to New Zealand for Conspiracy 2, the NZ Natcon in June 2007. Nominations open for residents of Australia and New Zealand who have been active in fandom prior to 31 March 06. Details are on sffanz.sf.org.nz.
JETS is a one-off fan fund to sponsor a European fan to the Japanese Worldcon. The Japanese Expeditionary Travel Scholarship (JETS) is a special fund created for the purpose of assisting a European science fiction fan, elected by vote of other "European fans", to travel to and attend Nippon 2007. Unfortunately this was devised after this year's Eurocon (and many European national conventions) and European publicity outside UK, and specifically, Eastercon fandom has been rather low-key so far.) So all interested parties are urged to spread the word if this worthy project is to get properly off the ground let alone truly fulfil its ambitious goal not be largely dominated by UK fans. This will be difficult as there are less than 30 fans who have been to more than two Eurocons in the past decade, so there is no large European fan constituency to compete with that of the UK Eastercon. But getting someone that can truly represent Europe and write a decent report is not impossible. The organisers of the 2005 Eurocon (Interaction) that was also a Worldcon, have generously stumped up £1,000 (US$1,800) to ensure that the winner's travel costs and at least a good part of their hotel bill will be covered. +++ Concatenation has offered to post on the web the JETS winner's convention report.
The August meeting of the London SF Circle saw a small Spanish delegation. Ángel Carralero with friends was visiting London on holiday and dropped in on Forbidden Planet before visiting the London SF Circle. Concatenation's Dan gamely helped with the translation. News from Spain is given above.
The 2006 Festival of Fantastic Films was held early in September literally just as this news page is being posted. There will be a full article (the latest in our series of reports of science fiction conventions. Meanwhile here is a HOT film tip of three shorts slated for screening at the Fest. They are each short Star Wars spoofs. The first sets the scene but, though funny, is in essence a one-joke short about a young female teenage X-wing pilot who thinks that flying is sooo cool but the helmet is not kind to hair. But the next two offerings are really great shorts that develop the scenario in which this character turns out to be the other Jedi hope whom Obi mentioned to Yoda. The scenes portrayed take place around or parallel to those of the original Star Wars trilogy. If your home computer has a media player the check out the short movies on www.pinkfive.com (though you may need to temporarily switch off your advert/cookie/popup blocker if you use this link). These are very well made amateur/independent shorts that had to have the permission of Lucas Films.
Did you like the afore SF short film link? From the New Year Concatenation will be trialing a new feature of this seasonal news page. We will present one or two SF film short recommendations that you can view off of the web. Steve Green, of the Birmingham SF Group and the Festoival of Fantastic Film competition jusdging panel has kindly offered to see what is out there for you to enjoy. This is yet another reason why you might want to register with our new seasonal site alert update service where by you get one e-mail every other month or so letting you know that the site has had a major udate.
Sci-Fi London - the SF film fest will be in May in 2007. Sci-Fi London (which covers all aspects of cinematic SF not just Sci Fi) has decided to make its move from January/February to later in the year more permanent following its successful trial earlier this year. Sci-Fi London is one of the few fantastic film fests in the UK. Bradford and Leicester regularly have fantastic film days and weekends, while the Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester has for over one and a half decades provided excellent coverage of vintage films, rare uncut edited versions, and recent art-house offerings. Sci-Fi London has over the past five years joined them to become a lead fixture in the SF film buff's calendar. Unlike convention type fests, Sci-Fi London runs on a pay per film basis. It loses out on the social aspects of the convention style, but makes up for this with a very well assembled programme that includes shorts and an all-nighter session. See www.sci-fi-london.com.
Austrek is 30. This Star Trek group, based in Victoria, Australia, is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
SF book readings at London's Oxford Street Borders bookshop have stopped. The last of the monthly meetings was in July.
Into TV related Sci-Fi memorabilia? Our other Tony is parting with a substantial chunk of his collection amassed over many years. Check out uk.geocities.com/captaincardigans. Probably only practical if you are London or home-county based (Tony goes to LOTNA), but if a serious collector and further a field you could arrange to do an international money transfer and add on the cost of shipping. (Concat team members are generally trustworthy types.)
FILM, GRAPHIC NOVEL + TV NEWS
Sci-Fi London -- we could have put the news here in the film news section but did it earlier with events.
Over 1,000 Star Trek series props and original memorabilia are to be auctioned. Christies exhibited the lots in August in London and will do so again in Seattle 8-10 September at the SF Museum, before Los Angles on 12-16 September at 360 N Camden Drive, as well as New York at 20 Rockefeller Plaza, between 30th September - 4th October. The auction itself will take place 5th-7th October at Christies New York premises. Props include Kirk's chair and Spock's ears as well as models of the Enterprise and other ships. It is hoped that sales may reach £800,000 (US$1,360,000).
Star Trek XI has a logo -- see startrek.com. The movie has a tentative 2008 release.
The Daleks are to star in a play in Portsmouth this October. The Evil of the Daleks will run from Wednesday 25th to Saturday 28th October at the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth. It is based on the David Whitaker story: Whitaker wrote a number of the first Dr Who paperback novelettes in the early 1960s published by Armada Books. Details of the play can be found on www.evilofthedaleks.co.uk. Concat wondered whether if successful it might go on tour around the country? Alas no. Rob Thrush, who is involved with the play, told Concat that under the terms of their licence (from the BBC) it will be a one-off production. Nonetheless if it is successful they may be encouraged to do others. Two good reasons for those in the south of England nipping down to Portsmouth for the day, seeing the sights (well the Victory) and taking in the play.
There will be another Dr Who special Christmas episode this year. Called 'The Runaway Bride', it will introduce the Doctor's new companion Donna, alias the comedienne Catherine Tate.
2nd series of Dr Who to be screened on Sci Fi Channel in the US. The run will start on 24th September (just in time for this seasonal news posting). It will include the 2005 Christmas episode.
Futurama the skiffy cartoon, from the people who do The Simpsons, has been re-commissioned. Futurama was dropped by Fox in 2003 but Comedy Central have picked up the show. There was a problem getting all the cast back onboard after they had moved on. 13 episodes have been commissioned and Comedy Central now has the rights to old episodes. The new episodes will be broadcast in 2008.
Sci Fi Channel have announced proposals for a spin-off series to Battlestar Galactica. Called Caprica it will take place about half a century before Battlestar and feature the development of robotics that will ultimately lead to the Cylons. +++ See also Battlestar DVD release.
Lost season 3 teasers from producer Carlton Cuse. At this year's Comic-con International he said the third season's first six episodes will stand as a kind of mini-series. Seperately ABC revealed that on-line ("http://blogs.abc.com/inside_the_experience/") The Lost Experience will also contribute its share of revelations including those relating to Alvar Hanso and the Hanso Foundation. The Lost Experience has already revealed something about 'The Black Rock'.
Sky One's series Hex has been cancelled. Viewing figures over the show's two series have fallen from almost a million to around 200,000 last December.
The proposed Aquaman series has been dropped. Based on the DC comic character, the pilot was shot but it did not generate sufficient interest. The pilot may yet be broadcast as a one-off.
The Lord of the Rings musical closed in the summer. Launched in Toronto and costing some £14m it has suffered from poor attendance and bad reviews. This somewhat puts a dampener chances of it coming to London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane in May next year (2007). The London version has a proposed budget of £25m... Consequently the organisers started advertising advance tickets over the summer. See www.lotr.com.
The Iron Man film is likely to be released early in the summer of 2007 director Jon (Zathura: A Space Adventure) Favreau is reported as saying. It is based on the Marvel comics' character.
Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is to come to the big screen. Filming has just started. Daniel Craig (the James Bond actor) is to play Lord Asriel along with Nicole Kidman as Mrs Coulter. The film is being produced by New Line (who did The Lord of the Rings) and the release date will hopefully be before Christmas 2007.
Hellboy 2 will be directed by Guillermo del Toro. It is based on the comics and graphic novels and will hopefully be released in 2008. +++ A cartoon film Hellboy: Sword of Storms will premiere on the Cartoon Network in this autumn and comes to DVD in February 2007.
Director Neil (The Descent) Marshall's next film will be Doomsday. Set in a brutal post-apocalyptic Britain, a small group has to save the World from a disease. Doomsday has a tentative 2008 release. +++ Warning below over Descent's US release.
There is to be a follow-up film to Death Race 2000. Death Race 3000 will be scripted and directed by Paul (Resident Evil) Anderson and have Death Race 2000 Roger Corman as executive producer. A 2008 release is hoped.
George A. Romero is to write and direct George Romero's Diary of the Dead. It concerns a group of film students who meet real zombies in woods when making a horror film. A 2008 release is hoped. Shooting begins next autumn in Toronto. Plenty of woods there.
The proposed Watchmen film is now back on having previously been dropped (See last year's autumnal science fiction news page.) Zach (Dawn of the Dead) Snyder has been chosen to direct Watchmen. To date Fox, Universal and Paramount studios have adopted and then let go of the project. Warner Brothers is currently behind the venture. The graphic novel's themes are too subtle, and the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons nuance and detail in their graphic novel too complex, to facilitate an easy transference to the big screen. Alex Tse drew the short straw writing the screen play.
'Conan the Barbarian' from the Robert E. Howard 1930s stories, is making a multi-media come-back 'by Crom'. The Age of Conan comic was released at the summer's Comic-Con in San Diego (US) by Dark Horse Comics. Before any Conan fans get too excited, this is a bit of a shoe-horn project that is related to Funcom's multiplayer online role-playing game 'Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures'. This last will be launched before Christmas. +++ Meanwhile next year, if all goes well, production is likely to begin on a new Conan film from Warner Brothers with a screenstory by Boaz Yakin. It is reported that Yakin is a fan of the Howard series so -- if true and Yakin gets his way -- the film has the potential to be good. However Hollywood has a reputation of mangling adaptations so best not to hold your breath.
The Boys From Brazil could be remade. Brett (X-Men) Ratner is rumoured to be the possible director. The film apparently will be re-set in the present day but possibly be closer to the Ira Levin (1976) original novel than the 1978 film. With artificial cloning an actuality, the idea of trying to resurrect someone like Hitler with a mix of 'nature and nurture' could resonate with a larger audience these days.
The sequel to Batman Begins will be called The Dark Knightand will feature the Joker. Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale will return as director and lead star respectively. Michael Caine will again feature as Alfred.
A The Prisoner feature film is in the offing. Universal is reportedly in talks with Christopher (Batman Begins) Nolan who may well do this Prisoner project after The Dark Knight (see preceding piece). This is not to be confused with the previously reported forthcoming TV series, more of which next...
The new Prisoner TV series may star Christopher (Dr Who) Eccleston. Further to our Spring science fiction news page that reported the plans for a new series, Sky One said that the proposed series has a budget of over £8 million (US$14m) for the first six episodes. Eccleston is in talks with a view to take the lead. The hope is that the series will attract both old Prisoner fans as well as a new following.
The latest attempt to adapt the classic novel I Am Legend to the big screen should star Will Smith. The novel, of course, was written by Richard Matheson, and Gollancz recently cited it as one of the 10 greatest SF novels of all time and has just re-released the novel (see our earlier Summer science fiction news page. It remains to be seen whether this new film version (unlike the Charlton Heston and Vincent Price versions) is true to the novel having a rationale for vampires as its basis. (The novel is highly recommended.)
There is to be a film of the Steve Niles vampire graphic novel 30 Days of Night. Columbia Pictures is behind the move and apparently Josh Hartnett is considering playing a lead role.
A new film version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is being developed. New Line is behind this latest re-imagination of the Jules Verne classic (1870) novel that, among other things, kind of predicted nuclear power.
Anne McCaffrey's Pern and its dragon could be coming to the big screen. Canada's Copperheart Entertainment is behind the move.
A sequel to Superman Returns is planned for 2009 it is rumoured, with more action and some alien terror. (Now does this remind you of the 2nd Superman film of the 1980s just as SR paid homage to the first one?)
News on the plot of sequel to 28 Days Later. Further to the announcement that 28 Days was to have a sequel. The first film was a Brit SF horror about the immediate aftermath of a plague, 'rage', that makes people senselessly violent and a group of survivors in a depopulated Britain. The sequel, 28 Weeks Later, apparently continues the story six months later. Special Forces is working to restore order in London when a carrier of the virus unwittingly reinfects. So more running around a deserted London with the thin veneer of civilization stripped. Lovely stuff. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is to direct, which might be worrying other than the original's director, Danny Boyle, is producing.
A new 'Hulk' film is in the offing. Avi Arad was not too impressed with the 2003 Hulk film (who was). He wants to do another version and one closer to the Marvel original. +++ A 'Thor' film is also being mooted and is at the script-writing stage.
A second Stargate movie is contemplated. Apparently dean Devlin, the producer of the original film, is talking to MGM. The original film was actually envisioned as the first in a trilogy. If this second film comes off it will continue this trilogy which has a story arc independent of the TV series story arc and will hopefully again star Kurt Russell & James Spader from the original. +++ A Stargate TV-film may launch the next spin-off TV series in the 'Stargate' franchise..
The Stargate SG-1 TV series is being dropped by the SciFi Channel. It only has just aired its 200th episode and is the second longest running SF television series (after Dr Who which has, contrary to some websites, been aired on US television). Stargate will have seen 215 episodes over 10 seasons in the past decade. Low ratings are blamed but the fans cite poor scheduling and promotion. +++ Stargate Atlantis has been renewed for a fourth series. See www.gateworld.net for details.
The car used in the Harry Potter films has been found! The car had been stolen (see our Spring science fiction news page). It was found not too far from where it was stolen. Some men had tried to sell it but were unsuccessful and so they left it outside a castle in Falmouth.
Spiderman III has a trailer - see sonypictures.com/movies/spiderman3/site.
Next Fantastic Four film is to be called Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer. Dr Doom is also in the mix. The film is due out summer 2007.
The daughter of one of the Batman (1960s) TV series producers has just found out she is entitled to 26% of the show's net profits. She discovered her father's contract and is now suing Fox and ABC for concealment.
Concat' HOT film tip!: Science Fact and Fiction Concateneers might like to check out our tip below in the DVD release section.
Concat' HOT film short on internet tip!: Check out out tip of three fun SF shorts we've linked to from our summary news from this year's Festival of Fantastic Films in the fan section above.
For a reminder of the top films in 2005/6 and earlier years then check out our top Science Fiction Films annual chart. This page has just been updated and is based on the weekly UK box office ratings over the past year up to Easter.
Helix.com is a new quarterly webzine that aims to publish stories that are too risqué to be accepted elsewhere. Issue one has all stories written to an average or above-average standard (a plus in itself for web-fiction). More importantly, as the editors aim, the stories are a little controversial (possibly more so in the US than Europe but then we do not have as many large-circulating magazines publishing short story SF as they do in North America). A Helix-type story might be described as one that challenges what is known in Anglophone (English-speaking) countries as 'being politically correct'. Well someone has to do it and the Helix folk seem up for the job. The first issue (nominally came out in July) has stories that challenge conventional political correctness such as anti-Semitism and marriage perceptions. The big question for those treading the science fact and fiction boundary will be whether they tackle controversial science and technology issues (such as animal experimentation, GM crops, eugenics (in the strict sense), fertility control etc).
Heliotrope magazine has been launched on the internet. The first issue contains articles by Jeff Vandermeer and R. Scott Baker, half a dozen book reviews and three short stories. You can either access the articles / reviews individually or download a PDF.
Flurb: A Webzine of Astonishing Tales has been launched. Rudy Rucker is behind the project of free access SF stories. The first issue is a cyberpunk themed one.
Area51 the internet scifi radio station has a competition to find the best SciFi TV show. Entrants also should say briefly why in up to 200 words. There are apparently great prizes. Send your entries to: email@example.com before the deadline Saturday 22nd September. Presumably if you win they will e-mail you back after the deadline to get your address. Equally presumably the short reasons 'why' are for tie-breaking and reading out on air purposes.
The monthly e-zine Emerald City is to cease. Cheryl Morgan, whose zine it was, cites pressures of life as the main reason. The award-winning zine focussed largely on SF books and their litcrit dimension. The announcement was made August 1st but a couple of issues of material already in the pipeline may be forthcoming. 'This is actually a decision I took back in early June, well before the most recent attack on the integrity of reviewers,' she said. (An article arising from this last appeared in EM's July posting.) 'Over the past year or so I have become very disillusioned about both the quality of my own work and the general usefulness of online book reviews,' Cheryl Morgan added, 'The bottom line is that if you don't think what you are doing is worthwhile then it is very difficult to maintain the level of commitment necessary to produce something like Emerald City.' However perhaps it was not its book reviews that made the most compelling reading, rather the transatlantic fan perspective (both UK and US) as well as the behind the scenes glimpses of Worldcon-running, not to mention the occasional specialist-interest article. +++ The July issue of Emerald City has an interesting piece by Pádraig Ó Méalóid on the old Brit comic characters the Spider and the Steel Claw. (See our reviews on this site for comparison: The (Spider:) King of Crooks and The Steel Claw: The Vanishing Man.)
A book listing Australian SF works 1848-1999 is being published the Australian Bullsheet reports with full publication details.
The Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine is now available in PDF format the Australian Bullsheet reports.
The SyFyPortal.com website and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry son, Eugene W. Roddenberry, are working together to celebrate Star Trek's 40th anniversary this September. +++ See also Area51 celebrates Trek below.
Area51 the internet scifi radio station is celebrating Star Trek's 40th anniversary. They include interviews with some of the stars who served on the bridge of Enterprise such as Dominic Keating (Lt. Malcolm Read in Enterprise). There is also a poll as to who is the favourite Star Trek captain.
Optical illusions including some neat ones can be found on www.eyetricks.com.
Top 5 Science Blogs
Courtesy of Nature (442, 9) who with Technorati searched for blogs by working scientists active in research (as opposed to teaching, monitoring, journalism, policy etc). They ranked these out of the 46.7 million blogs Technorati index...
179th Pharyngula. Biologist Phil Myers explains basic science concepts behind science misconceptions. (Does in a blog what the scientists on the Concat team do in the bar but with greater coherence.)
1,647th The Panda's Thumb. Where to go to get the correct science countering intelligent design and creationism.
1,884th Real Climate. Sound climate science from current controversy and news clearly explained. (Dare we say 'better than if you don't have our climate read Jonathan on hand...?' Probably better not.)
2,174th Cosmic Variance. Physics and astrophysics with some interesting muse on the fly. (Does what we've been trying to get our Graham to do for years.)
3,429th The Scientific Activist. Where science meets politics in the US as reported by Nick Anthis. (Covers the ground for all science which our Jonathan does in the UK for bioscience.)
The other sub-sections within the above 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; Film, Graphic Novel + TV News; and Net Watch.
[SF News | Forthcoming Science Fiction Book releases | Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror | Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction | Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins and DVD/Video Releases| Last Quarter's Science News Summary]
Capacity by Tony Ballantyne, Tor, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-575-07817-0. This is a new hard SF writer whose advance publicity compares him to Egan and Baxter, which if true means this debut should be packed with ideas and sense of wonder but perhaps light on characterization. However we love hard SF and sense of wonder, so urge you to keep an eye out for this one.
Resplendent by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-575-07811-1. The final in the Destiny's Children trilogy and which spans the series from the Big Bang to the far future. (Reviews of other books by Stephen Baxter on this site include Coalescent, Origin, Moonseed, Space, Time, Titan, Traces, Transcendent and Vacuum Diagrams.)
End of the World Blues by Jon Courtney Grimwood, Gollancz, hdbk / trd pbk, £12.99 / £10.99. ISBNs 0-575-07616-7 / 0-575-07777-5. Though we listed last time we review in full in this season's posting. (Our Tony likes his Grimwood. See also past reviews of: Effendi, Felaheen and Pashazade.)
Nova Swing by M. John Harrison, Gollancz, hdbk, £16.99. ISBN 0-575-07027-7. This is the sequel to Light so should be good. The city of Raintown's police have to stop the import of ultra high-tech items that flow from the nearby event site. But a new class of semi-biological artefacts is finding a way into the city and the consequences are likely to be big.
Hunters of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, Hodder, hdbk, £19.99. ISBN 0-340-83747-0. Another in the 'Dune' follow-up series from the carbon -friendly authors who know how to get mileage. (Check out their recent their book on what they found in Frank's attic.)
Black Man by Richard Morgan, Gollancz, trd pbk, £10.99. ISBN 0-575-07767-0. A century from now despite the intervening population boom, oil running out and war fought by genetically enhanced soldiers, a new colony on Mars is growing. But the GM warriors have no battles to fight. This is not just a thriller but also about prejudice and the possible social consequences of human GM. (Also reviewed on this site Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon, Broken Angels and Market Forces.)
The Toyminator by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, hdbk / trd pbk, £12.99 / £10.99. ISBNs 0-575-07101-2 / 0-575-07774-3. We listed this last time as it came out in the late summer but, on the cusp of this posting, mention it again as we now have a full The Toyminator review. +++ See also above news of the Toyminator Rankin event.
Galactic North by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, trd pbk, £9.99. ISBN (978)-0-575-07910-X. Rynold's first short story collection which apparently sees a return to the universe of Revelation Space. A hard SF adventure writer whose books we like. (See new up this posting a full review of Pushing Ice. Also previously reviewed are his Century Rain, Chasm City, Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days.)
Gradisil by Adam Roberts, Orion, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-575-07817-0. Adam Roberts has had mixed reviews for his serious SF (such as Salt) and Stone and he also does humour (such as The McAtrix Derided and Star Warped). However he is definitely worth checking out.
Keeping It Real by Justina Robson, Orion, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-575-07907-X. Tony liked Justina's Mappa Mundi. This is the paperback release of the earlier hardback and has as its protagonist a cyborgs with attitude.
Air by Geoff Ryman, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-575-07811-1. This novel has been very well received, and for some strange reason we have not reviewed it, so you'll make up for our mistake and check it out with a browse at your local bookshop. This UK paperback edition will be out in time for Christmas. Ryman's fiction has variable appeal (that is to say he speaks well to different audiences but not necessarily at the same time) nonetheless the word amongst those associating with the team is that this one pushes the buttons on both an SF and a literary level.
Lurulu by Jack Vance, HarperCollins, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-006-48210-4. Myron, left behind by her great-aunt for dawdling, is now a member of a dodgy space freighter crew. During her journeys she discovers alien cultures. Jack Vance has had a long and distinguished career as an SF writer. Good to see him still going.
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 DVD/Video Releases | Last Quarter's Science News Summary]
The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie, Gollancz, pbk, £10.99. ISBN 0-575-0786-7. Abercrombie's debut novel and its about a torturer. Yes, we listed it last time as it comes out just around the time this season's news will be posted in September. One does expect a bit of publisher hype with new authors, notwithstanding this whispers on the ground reaching us are rather encouraging. Definitely one for noting to nip into a bookshop for a browse.
The Fledgling of Az Gabrielson by Jay Amory, Gollancz, hdbk, £12.99. ISBN 0-575-07878-2. Another we should have covered last time but only now have the details. This is billed as a 'young adult' fantasy but it is one of those rare offerings that could easily also appear to a slightly older readership. Furthermore it is not exactly a straight fantasy but more a science fantasy. Above the clouds over a fairly normal city fly the Airborne, winged sentients that have become distant from the prehistoric Groundlings. The Groundlings send offerings to the Airborne that help sustain the Airbornes' existence but the elevators that carry these goods are breaking down. Az, an airborne who is rare in having no wings, is sent to investigate. The Fledgling of Az Gabrielson might well attract a sizeable readership and is the first novel for younger readers by Jay Amory who apparently previously has written adult novels under another name though the pre-publicity from Gollancz describes the author as a 'new talent' who lives in Devon in south west England.
The Cry of the New Born by James Barclay, Gollancz, trd B format pbk, £7.99. ISBN 0-575-07812-X. Actually the pre-publicity is a little light on this but we understand it is part of two large volumes... Possibly related to A Shout for the Dead we listed last time -- hdbk / trd pbk, £18.99 / £10.99. ISBNs 0-575-07621-6 / 0-575-07622-4. The second in the Estorea series that sees the world having to deal with magic for the first time.
Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks, Orbit, hdbk, £18.99. ISBN 1-841-49478-X.
The Age of Misrule by Mark Chadbourn, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 0-575-07918-5. A gothic tale of horror, fantasy and romance from an author that has had a recent run of books out in the UK (two even in our last (the summer) listing!).
The Well of Tears by Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Tor, pbk £7.99. ISBN 0-330-48210-4. This is the paperback edition of the trade paperback listed last time, and is 2nd on the Crowthistle sequence. The author has a strong following in the US.
Into A Dark Realm by Raymond Feist, Voyager, hdbk, £18.99. ISBN 0-007-13377-4. This is the 2nd in his 'Dark War' series. Pug and friends enter a dark realm where a powerful, malevolent force awaits. Raymond Feist will be visiting the UK around the time of the launch. Yes, we mentioned this last time but as this is coming out just as we post this season's news and what with the author visit we thought you'd appreciate the reminder.
Flight of the Nighthawks, by Raymond E. Feist, Voyager, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-007-13376-6. This is the paperback release of last autumn's hardback and the first in his new Conclave of Shadows series. (Note above UK author visit.)
Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman, Headline, hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 0-755-33412-4. A collection of shorts from this Hugo-winning author of American Gods. (There will be a a London signing and the North American edition will be published by Morrow.)
Troy: Shield of Thunder by David Gemmell, Bantam Press, hdbk, £17.99. ISBN (978)-0-593-05222-6. This is the 2nd part of his Troy trilogy that fortunately was already in production at the time of his death. Gemmell is well known for his sword and sorcery fantasy. With his Troy trilogy he turned to more historical fiction that, in the case of the 'Troy' trilogy, is as much based on the Troy legend as its history as the story's backdrop. In this second of the series various kings, good and bad, are gathering and a tussle is in the offing to see who will come out top. Meanwhile travellers - a runaway priestess, and a warrior and his comrade in arms - make their way to the fabled metropolis of Bronze Age Greece... Others have described the 'Troy' sequence as a kind of prequel to the Iliad and the Aeneid. Gemmell will almost certainly bring his fantasy readers with him in this move to historical fiction where it is likely he will gather many more.
Ilario: The Lion's Eye by Mary Gentle, Gollancz, hdbk, £20. ISBN 0-575-07660-7. Heroic fantasy follow-up to Ash. Counter-factual, it is 1428 AD and history is different with a Visigoth-dominated Carthage, while in Rome there not been a Pope for centuries. Meanwhile the Turks to the East are restless.
Phantom Terry Goodkind, Voyager, £12.99, trd pbk. ISBN 0-007-14564-0. Part of the 'Sword of Truth' series. With no memory, and forgotton except by her husband who seeks her, Kahlan Amnell could unwittingly become an agent of evil and destruction. This is the trade paperback of the hardback listed last time. It has done very well in the US and for a while entered the nation's top ten fiction (all classes) chart.
The Sword of Truth Trilogy by Terry Goodkind, Gollancz, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN(978)-0-575-07893-2. This is the first three in the 'Sword of Truth' series (which does not contain the newly released Phantom above).
Mistrall's Kiss by Laurell K. Hamilton. Bantam Press, trdpbk, £10.99. ISBN 0-593-05723-6. This is the 5th in the acclaimed Meredith Gentry series.
The Ghosts of Memory by Wilson Harris, Faber, hdbk, £16.99. ISBN 0-571-23240-X. A novel with litcrit appeal that explores the line between being awake and dreaming and life and death.
Devil's Own Daughter by Meg Hutchinson, Hodder, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-340-89664-7. An occult thriller.
The Keeper by Sara Langan, Headline, trdpbk, £11.99. ISBN 0-755-33370-5. US supernatural chiller with two sisters one of whom commits suicide and then the other sister starts getting dreams... Well you would after a traumatic experience but is something else going on?
A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin, Voyager, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 0-006-48612-6. Well we had the hardback in the Spring, the trade paperback in the summer and now there is this small paperback release. Needless to say this book has been long awaited and has a healthy interest on both sides of the Atlantic. If you are a fantasy as opposed to an SF reader and have not come across George R. R. Martin then you will in all likelihood find this to be a real treat. Also, though not winning, was short-listed/nominated for the Hugo this year.+++ A Feast for Crows has been nominated for the British Fantasy Award for 'Best Novel'. The finalist for the award itself will be announced at Fantasycon 30 on September 22 - 24 just after we have posted this season's news page.
Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean, Oxford Univeristy Press, hdbk, £12.99. ISBN (978-) 0-192-7620-X. This is the official sequel (endorsed by the original author's (J. M. Barrie's) estate). Dreams are leaking out of Neverland and into the Real World. But now Peter and wendy are grown up with children of their own. To return to Neverland they must recover their childhood and then go and find out what is happening.
Wildfire by Sara Micklem, HarperCollins, hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 0-007-22182-7. Continues Firethorn's following of her lover, Galen, who has gone to war. In the battle's aftermath she finds herself alone in a strange, yet familiar, land.
Looking for Jake and Other Stories by China Mieville, Pan, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-330-43418-7. Mieville's novels have been well received by genre critics, especially those at the 'literary' end. Herewith is a welcome selection of some 13 shorts and a novella.
Orcs: Bad Blood Volume 1 by Stan Nicholls, Gollancz, hdbk, £16.99 / trd pbk, ISBN (978)-0-575-07804-9 / (978)-0-575-07803-1. Stryke and fellow Orc chums have located their ancestral home. Can they now find peace despite mankind's expansion.
The Adventuress by Audrey Niffenegger, Jonathan Cape, hdbk, £16.99. ISBN 0-224-08005-9. A graphic novel set in Napoleonic times about an alchemist's daughter. (Niffenegger's The Time Traveller's Wife is also reviewed on this site.)
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett, Corgi, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-552-15510-1. A re-release paperback of the Discworld novel timed to tie in with the early December Sky (UK) broadcast of the two-part adaptation early in December and repeated at Christmas. The illustrated script is also coming out.
Christ The Lord by Anne Rice, Arrow, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-099-46016-5. Now it will be interesting to see how this does (none of us have read it). It's the story of Jesus' troubled childhood. The question is whether there is enough to appeal to Rice's vampire following?
Morrigan Cross by Nora Roberts, Piatkus, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-749-93667-3. The first in a monthly magical, paranormal romance trilogy. This one is published in September.
Valley of Silence by Nora Roberts, Piaktus, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-749-93697-5. The final in the paranormal romance trilogy... Alas we never got the October one's pre-publicity.
Endgame by Andy Secombe, Tor, trd pbk. ISBN 1-405-05358-5. At the Adam and Eve launch party (would you believe it?) the Devil bets God, so as to get back into Heaven, that humanity will destroy itself. Endgame is a humorous fantasy.
Mexica by Norman Spinrad, Abacus, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 0-349-11904-X. An historical novel, (not SF) from the acclaimed SF author, set during the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs.
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 DVD/Video Releases | Last Quarter's Science News Summary]
An A to Z of Atlantis by Simon Cox and Mark Foster, Mainstream, hdbk, £12.99. ISBN 1-845-96080-9. A guide to the various versions of the Atlantis myth. A must for those with a Fortean bent.
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence of Belief by Francis Collins. Simon & Schuster, hdbk, £17.99. ISBN 0-743-28639-1. The head of the Human Genome Project (known as HUGO which can be a little disconcerting for SF souls) presents the case for God....
Brewer's Cabinet of Curiosities by Ian Crofton, Weidenfeld, trd pbk, £10. ISBN (978)-0-304-36801-3. A collection of way out oddities and anecdotes bordering fable and (oxymoronically) unbelievable truths. A must for fans of Forteanna.
The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is Everything Just Right? by Paul Davies, Allen Lane, hdbk, £22. ISBN 0-713-99883-0. Why does the Universe support life? Paul Davies has a reputation for being an authoritative populariser of science. This topic is one of the themes he has touched on before. This one explores some of the divisions cosmologists have addressing this question.
Planet Earth by Alastair Fothergill, BBC Books, hdbk, £25. ISBN 0-563-52212-7. This is the book of the quasi-series, part 1 (1 episode) of which was aired on BBC 1 in the spring and part two (5 episodes) is being broadcast this Autumn.
Richard Dawkins: How A Scientist Changed the Way We Think edited by Alan Grafen and Mark Ridley, Oxford University Press, £12.99 / US$25. Further to last time's science and SF non-fiction listing, in which we reported the 30th anniversary re-print of Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, there is this offering of comment and testimonials. Most are positive but a few critical ones are in the mix. Recommended.
An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergence of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It by Al Gore, Bloomsbury, trd pbk, £14.99. ISBN 0-747-58906-2. Al Gore is a former US Vice-President who has always been aware of environmental concerns. This release is timed to coincide with that of a documentary film.
H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life by Michel Houellebecq, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, trd pbk, £10.00. ISBN 10-0-297-85138-1. It has taken over a decade for this translation from a 1991 version of the French original to be made into English but, for Lovecroft's readers and those wishing for an insight into his works, a wait well worth it. This 2006 volume has excellent added value with a 2005 introduction by Stephen King and reprints of two Lovecraft classic shorts: The Whisperer in Darkness and The Call of Cthulhu (the latter of which has been said to have influenced much the-ancients-were-alien-astronauts modern myth (reviewed elsewhere on this site)). We hope to post a full review of H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life shortly.
The Single Helix by Steve Jones, Abacus, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 0-349-11940-6. 100 science-clarifying vignettes. Steve Jones is a geneticist and also a good science communicator. Should be good.
Heat: The New Politics to Stop the Planet Burning by George Monbiot, Allen Lane, hdbk, £19.99. ISBN 0-713-99923-3. Apparently it, global warming, can be stopped and here's how. Neatly counterpoints current President Bush's views. Well worth buying if only as a political act.
Giant Leaps by The Science Museum and The Sun, Boxtree, trd pbk, £12.99. ISBN 0-752-22624-X. The Science Museum (Kensington) is one of the best UK museums (along with the Natural History Museum next door.. The Sun is a popular UK newspaper known for its sensationalization and not known for meaningful science coverage. Here science discoveries and technology developments are covered with how The Sun reported it on one page and the real science on the next. This is a really neat idea and surely a must for all those into science communication (which should mean all research scientists) and could be a delightful Christmas present for those who enjoy science and SF.
How To Cut A Cake by Ian Stewart, Oxford University Press, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 0-199-20590-6. Ian is a mathematician at Warwick University and also does for European SF conventions for maths what Jack Cohen does for reproductive biology and our Jonathan does for the biosphere sciences: so not surprisingly Ian and Jack (who is also at Warwick) have written both non-fiction SF (cf: Evolving the Alien and The Science of Discworld 3) and SF together (cf: Wheelers and Heaven). Herewith are 20 puzzles and their explanations. The title is dry but Ian's writing does tremendously enliven mathematics.
A Teaspoon and an Open Mind by Michael White, Penguin, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 0-141-02481-X. This is another 'Science of Dr Who type book. White is a very readable science writer so this could stand up well to the earlier Parson's book.
MISS OUT ALERT AS THE REVIEWS CONTINUE -- Old and new review excerpts of this reference work can be found on the following link, meanwhile the stock is steadily going down: Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide by Jonathan Cowie & Tony Chester, Porcupine Books, £8.90, pbk, 272pp. ISBN 0-954-91490-2. Also now available from Amazon. Jump to the new specific Amazon link earlier on. +++ Signed copies... Brian at Porcupine now has a score or so signed copies by the authors. E-mail Brian first to check availability.
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 and DVD/Video Releases | Last Quarter's Science News Summary]
FORTHCOMING TV & FILM BOOK TIE-INS
A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick, Gollancz, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-575-07631-X. The film has an intriguing use of animation reminiscent of the original Lord of the Rings movie and its production precursor (unrelated to Tolkein) Wizards. It is Philip K. Dick, 'nuff said. (Other Dick novels reviewed in full on this site include: Beyond Lies the Wub, Cantata-140, The Father-Thing, Galactic Pot-Healer - Philip K. Dick, Mary and the Giant, Minority Report, Now wait for last year, Second Variety, Solar Lottery, Three Early Novels, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Ubik, Valis, The Cosmic Puppets, A Maze of Death, and We Can Remember it for you Wholesale.)
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, Penguin, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 0-141-02869-6. Apparently the 2006 film is going to be more faithful to this original book - well the previous film's could hardly be more deviant from their cinematic namesakes... So the film could introduce a new generation (having missed a couple) to the real, world of Bond with its somewhat sadistically hard edge.
The End of Harry Potter by David Langford, Gollancz, trd pbk, £9.99. ISBN (978)-0-575-875-8. An analysis and forecast of the Harry Potter books that have been further popularised by the films. Is Dumbledore really dead? Whose side is Snape really on?
Hogfather: The Illustrated Screenplay by Terry Pratchett, Orion, format/price unknown. ISBN 0-575-07929-0. Pratchett's previous books you know and this is based on the Discworld novel of the same name wich is also being re-released. The programme stars David Jason. (Other Pratchett news above.)
The Prestige by Chris Priest, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 0-575-07906-1. The film version is directed by Christopher Nolan of Memento and Batman Begins fame plus has a cameo by David Bowie. This Priest novel is the tale of two 19th century stage illusionists. (Another Chris Priest novel, The Glamour, is reviewed on this site.)
Stargate SG-1: The Ultimate Visual Guide by Kate Ritter, Dorling Kindersley, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 0-756-62361-8.
VIDEO & DVD RELEASES
Battlestar Galactica: Season Two, DVD, £47.50, Universal. This new series has done for the now very dated special effects and campy 1970s Battlestar Galactica what the new Dr Who did for that franchise. Having said that Dr Who is still campy (which is fair enough) but the new series of Battlestar is gritty and in places brutal as well as visually hitting the spot and delivering on the space opera. Its sound ratings in the US suggest that it has attracted either a healthy SF fan following (the series did win a Hugo last year) or is also supported by non-SF enthusiasts. If memories of the 1970s series has so far prevented you from checking out this new version then think again. +++ See also news of the spin-off series.
The Descent is apparently coming out on DVD in the US. This then is a Red Alert for our trans-Atlantic regulars (assuming we have any that is?) to say that following Hollywood distributors running trial screenings apparently the UK ending was not to the Hollywood Exec's liking and needed to be more 'upbeat'. (Chorus, 'Ahhhhh.') So if you are in North America and want the real true grit ending you'll just have to make a special effort and seek it out. The version you're apparently getting has been sanitised by the Hollywood corporate censorship machine!
The Fly, DVD, £17.99 or box set £64.99. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the SF horror, Cronenberg's The Fly. This itself was, of course, a re-make of the 1958 original and not a bad, in fact quite a good, re-make at that: but then what else would you expect with Cronenberg at the helm. If you are young and into SF horror and missed this then you are in for a treat. A scientist experimenting with teleportation, (accidentally) teleports with a fly. The genome of both become entwined and so the scientist slowly begins to turn... The expensive boxed set version not only comes with the predictable 'Making of...' but also: the 1958 original version; its sequel The Curse of the Fly; and the 1986 Fly sequel The Fly II which itself is rather fun, but has less character though more action.
Mirrormask, DVD, £19.99, Sony. David McKean and Neil Gaiman's accomplished animated fantasy.
The Old Dark House, DVD, £12.99, Network. A welcome DVD release of a horror oldie starring Boris Karloff and directed by James Whale. Need any more be said?
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, DVD, 20th Century Fox. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the camp, risqué, and wonderfully over-the-top, classic SF musical, the release also comes with the quasi-sequel Shock Treatment: apparently the latter's first outing on DVD. This is available in two package formats. The expensive £55.99 for serious Rocky fans comes in a limited edition (and numbered) lip box complete with a Rocky Horror audience participation guide book and photo stills. There is also a cheaper double pack of just the two films (no packaging and without most of the extras from the limited edition) for £17.99. Dream it...
The Thief of Bagdad, the 1940's Arabian fantasy classic is now available for £10.99. Alas the publicity received does not say whether this is the rarely screened 'colour' (various film tints) version.
Time Bandits. This edition marks the 25th anniversary of its release. (Doesn't time fly.) Directed by Terry (Brazil) Gilliam. When God created the Universe it was a bit of a rush job - it was undertaken in under a week. Not surprisingly there were a few holes and these connect different places in time and space. All of which was of fundamental importance to one of God's repair crews, a gang of dwarves. Fed up with maintenance, and with God's map to guide them, they used the holes to gather riches throughout history. Then, one day a hole appears in the bedroom of one Kevin, a boy living in present-day British suburbia and Kevin gets caught up in the dwarves' adventure. A spectacular science fantasy comedy in true Gilliam style with a great support cast. Time Bandits was voted one of the Concatenation top 20 all-time films way back when we did our big fan 'desert asteroid' poll. Principal cast: Craig Warnock, David Rappaport, Sean (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Outland, and Zardoz) Connery, John Cleese, Ian (Alien) Holm, Ralph (Rollerball, The Man Who Could Work Miracles and Things to Come) Richardson, Michael Palin and Kenny (Star Wars) Baker.
Underworld: Evolution vampire and werewolf movie is now out on DVD at £19.99. The film was rated by us as a non-top-ten worthy from last year.
Concat' HOT film tip!: The 2005 German film Schläfer (Sleeper) is now available on DVD with English sub-titles. This is not based on the Wells' story but is a tale of security paranoia (borne of post 9/11) and career pressures set in a molecular biology lab. The director is one Benjamin Heisenberg who is the grandson of Werner, the Nobel winner and originator of the uncertainty principle. Schläfer was shown at the 2005 Cannes film fest, which is an achievement in itself, and has also won the 2005 Midas Prize for best European drama featuring science.
To see what films we can expect in 2006, check out our forthcoming film diary.
To see our chart ratings for last year's films, nearly all of which are now available for DVD hire, then check out our most recent annual film top ten.
Concat' HOT new cinema release film tip!: Severance (15) directed by Christopher Smith. This spoof-horror thriller is Brit made by a small team, which explains why there was no advance publicity when we compiled this year's forthcoming film release diary. It is pitched as The Office (the UK comedy show) meets Deliverance (adventure holiday back-packers in wild, hunted by hillbilly locals). Here an arms sales group on a team-building course in Hungary on the border with Romania and Serbia come under mystery attack. Funny and bloody (though note only a 15 certificate) with some surrealism in the mix. However of interest to those who went to the Timisoara Eurocon or either of its subsequent International Weeks of SF, on the Romanian part of this area will know that the (Banat) region common to the three countries is a flat plain of mainly farmland dotted with just small woods and hamlets, not to mention straddled with railway lines and roads: hardly the remote wilds. The film (not yet seen by any of us) though has had good early reviews by genre critics.
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The 2006 Aventis prize for (Popular) Science Books was won by David Bodanis for the Electric Universe (Little Brown). It concerns how electrons are fundamental to the Universe and indeed our own sentience. The prize gets Bodanis £10,000 (US$17,000). The runner-ups included: the evolving role and importance of mitochondria in Nick Lane's Power, Sex, Suicide; Jared Diamond's Collapse the explains why many past civilizations not just failed by almost self-destructed (an important book); and an explanation of the Big Bang and the early universe with Michio Kaku's Parallel Worlds. +++ The Aventis Prize is now changing hands. The prize actually might be called the Royal Society's COPUS Prize for it is administered by the Royal Society and sprung from its Committee On the Public Understanding of Science back in 1987. It has seen a couple of sponsors and was in need of another following the Aventis Trust's period of sponsorship coming to an end. Past sponsors have been from the pharmaceutical industry, but there is no reason why an energy, aerospace or agricultural/food companies might not get involved. The Royal Society continues to provide the secretariat.
Planet Earth, the Natural Environment Research Council's stakeholder and PR quarterly has been short-listed for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations award for 'best external magazine'. The winner will be announced shortly this autumn. NERC is the UK Government agency funding fundamental and blue skies environmental research. In addition NERC institutes are mission-orientated and receive other funding from Government Departments for policy-driven research and non-Governmental funding for applied research.
Russian physicist guilty but spared jail. Oskar Kaibyshev was fined the equivalent of about £75,000 (US$130,000) for providing aluminium-titanium alloy samples to a Korean tyre company but not sent to prison. The prosecution says that the alloy can be used in missiles. (For the backstory see last year's science & science fiction news.) Since 1990 Russia has sent to prison a number of scientists for 'spying' including physicist Valentin Danilov and military analyst Igor Sutyagin who respectively received 14 and 15 year sentences. It makes life difficult for Russian scientists seeking to collaborate with foreign science and industry. The question many Russian scientists wonder is whether this leniency is a true change of heart by the Russian authorities or because Oskar Kaibyshev's case attained a certain profile outside of Russia.
100th anniversary of the birth of the mother of the modern green movement. The early summer (May 27th) saw the 100th anniversary of Rachel Carson's birth. Rachel Carson being the author of the DDT mis-use book Silent Spring (1962) that also did much to boost the discipline of ecotoxicology. Rachel Carson sadly died of breast cancer in 1964 and so never found out how influential her book was to become.
China's software piracy has decreased to just 86% (2005) of program packages sold. This is down from 90% in 2004 and 92% in 2003. Had last year's pirated programs been properly paid for then the value would have been £7 billion (US$3.9 billion). For comparison, lost official trade to piracy in the US is estimated to be £12.4 billion (US$6.9 billion nearly double that in China but only apply to just a fifth of programs.
A southern San Andreas California earthquake is imminent a strain rate analysis predicts. Yuri Fialko of California University has been measuring the strain in the southern San Andreas just south-east of Pinto Mountain and north-east of Elsinore. This is one area of the Californian San Andreas fault that has not had an earthquake in historic times (the past 250 years). A slip of between 7 and 10 metres could well result.
There will be psychologically linked fairground rides at the Dana Centre, Kensington London, to explore the science of thrill. Fairground: Thrill Laboratory runs from on Tuesday 17th October, will include live physiological data broadcast into the Dana Centre as brave volunteers are hooked up to video and audio transmitters coupled with heart rate monitors whilst on the rides.
With Christmas on the way, aside from Essential SF as a present, what smart toy can you buy? Help is at hand with the Science Museum, Kensington, London's, Smart Toy guide.
Find out your brain's future. Medical technology in use today could be commercially used to enhance our brains to make them work quicker and better in the future. But should this be embraced and what could the consequences be if we do? A new interactive exhibition is sponsored by Siemens, at the Science Museum, Kensington, London's, contemporary science gallery and begins on 10th October. Further details on www.sciencemuseum.org.uk.
Russian mathematician Grigory Perelman has refused the Fields Medal offered him for solving Poincare's Conjecture. The Clay Mathematics Institute offered a £565 thousand (US$1 million) prize for a solution to that problem, and separately six others, in 2000. The conjecture, by Henri Poincare, in 1904, is to do with relationship of those bodies to which a loop drawn on their surface can be shrunk to a point and those that can't. Alternatively, in effect that a torus cannot be transformed into a sphere without tearing. Something which the Concat team, with its knowledge of doughnuts, has long known. Honest, would we lie to you?
+++ Fancy a go? Other mathematical problems include:-
Fermat's Last Theorem. It is impossible for Xn + Yn = Zn where n = 3 or more. Actually this has been solved by Andrew Wiles of Princetown U. who won £30,000 but who used mathematical tools in the 1990s that did not exist when Fermat claimed to have solved it. So a simpler solution is still sought.
Riemann Hypothesis. The frequency of prime numbers is closely related to the Riemann zeta function and this has been checked for the first 1.5 million solutions. Check it for more and get a £565 thousand (US$1 million) prize from Clay.
Goldback Conjecture. Every number greater than 2 is the sum of three primes if, that is you count 1 as a prime. Prove it.
The Euler-Mascheroni Constant. Show that this is irrational.
ASTRONOMY AND SPACE
Google have launched Google Mars. This is another off-world addition following Google Moon.
The two newly discovered moons of Pluto are to be called 'Nix' and 'Hydra' decided the International Astronomical Union. The two moons were discovered earlier in the year. Strictly speaking the moons are not Pluto's but the Pluto-Charon double system as they orbit about each other around the double system's centre (barycentre) of gravity. Charon was discovered in 1978 ( around the time of Scotland's first SF convention as it happens) with a diameter of 760 miles (1,200 km) that is just over half that of Pluto's. The two new moons are tiny with diameters very roughly 65 miles (100 km). The recently launched New Horizons probe (see last time's science & science fiction news) should tell us more in the summer of 2015.
Pluto is not a planet according the International Astronomical Union (IAU). There has for several years been a debate as to whether Pluto with its odd (non-Bode law) orbit is a true planet and not a rogue planetesimal. Any body whose mass is great enough so that it forms a roughly spherical orbit is not now automatically classified (say the IAU) a planet. Had it then bodies such as UB313 (nicknamed Xena) discovered in 2003 would also be planets. Instead it is suggested that Pluto be called a 'dwarf planet'. (See also towards the end of Scuttlebutt at the Worldcon above.)
Imaging extrasolar planets. Peter Williams of Harvard's Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has a new idea. The idea is to see the planet being eclipsed by its sun. The novelty is that instead of the planet passing in front and watching its sun's energy dim you look at the planet passing behind and watch its (low-energy) spectrum change. Because you are actually looking at the planet's own albedo change it may be possible to detect changes such as continents and oceans. (abstract from the Astrophys. Journ.)
New NASA manned Moon and Mars vehicle to be called 'Orion'. It has two and a half times as much crew volume as the Apollo craft. Its first manned flight - to the International Space Station - will take place no later than 2014 and its first flight to the Moon no later than 2020, say NASA. The Orion vehicle will replace the space shuttle programme after it comes out of service in 2010.
Sun-watch space mission extended to December 2009. The ESA - NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite was launched back in 1995 for just a two-year mission, so the new extension was made well-beyond its designed lifetime. This extension comes despite a number of previous set-backs. Contact was lost with the probe for a while back in 1998 and in 2000 solar storms blinded its detectors. Shortly SOHO will support two other Sol probes when NASA launches its twin STEREO satellites, and in 2007 ESA's Proba-2. So far it is estimated that data from SOHO has contributed to over 2,400 science papers.
The first satellite built to detect antimatter launched in June. The PAMELA (Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics) probe may be able to tell cosmologists whether 'dark matter' has an antimatter constituent. Anti-matter in the form of anti-protons and positrons can form part of cosmic rays. These are almost entirely absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere. Researchers think that PAMELA may be able to detect thousands of anti-matter particles during its three-year mission.
After two years Cassini finds hydrocarbon lakes on Titan. It was the probe's 17th fly-by and the first to look at the northern hemisphere. The southern hemisphere appears dry though where Huygens landed may well be 'damp'. More northern hemisphere fly-bys will take place in 2008.
London becomes the only capital city of a developed (OECD) nation not to have a planetarium. The London planetarium now becomes a 'stardome' and shows CGI cartoons. A new planetarium opens next year at the Greenwich Royal Observatory (replacing the old one there). Amateur astronomer and astronomy broadcaster Patrick Moore recommends the planetarium in Chichester in Kent (the county to the SE of London for our overseas visitors).
Journey to Mars in Manchester. Early this autumn (so hurry now) The Museum of Science in Manchester has a Mars Quest exhibit.
World's first female space tourist blasts off. Shortly after we post this season's news page on 14th September, Anousheh Ansari a US citizen of Iranian descent aged 39, is scheduled to take off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Martian number crunch
30 years ago the Viking probes landed on Mars -- details.
10 years ago the suggestion was made that meteorite ALH 84001 might contain a fossil of Martian life.
20 years time will be the earliest the US think they can get a man on Mars.
A gene that is key to making us human has been identified. There are a few genes that humans have that chimpanzees do not. The chimp genome sequence was published a year ago. The newly discovered gene that humans have but is absent from chimps is called HAR1F. It does not code for a protein but does (as do all genes) make RNA. This HAR1F RNA is found in the brain's Cajal-Retzius cells, which regulates how the six layers of the cortex (the brain's outer layers). HAR stands for Human Accelerate regions: segments of the human genome that are found to have undergone rapid mutation (evolution if you like) when compared with animal counterparts. So it may be that genes that code for proteins may not be the sole underpinners of evolution but so-called non-coding DNA (that codes for RNA instead).
75% of British men and 60% of women could be overweight by 2010 according to the Department of Health report Forecasting Obesity to 2010. Conversely for children it is expected that there will be more fat girls than boys. The biggest problem area will be Yorkshire and Humberside it is thought. The least worse area will be the south east and London. Obesity has become the number one health problem, leaving those such as HIV and smoking well behind. The current generation of children could even have a shorter average lifespan than their parents. +++ Weight in SF fandom. The 2006 Worldcon in L.A. held a discussion panel on the issue.
A 'Top 100' ecological questions list has been drawn up. The British Ecological Society facilitated the task, led by Bill Sutherland, and 645 scientists, policy advisors and policy makers derived the 100 from an initial long list of more than 1,000 questions. Questions include: what are the comparative biodiversity impacts of different types of renewable energy?; and which UK habitats and species might be lost due to climate change? Lists of research questions have been highly influential in the past in other fields. For example in mathematics, in 1900 David Hilbert posed 23 problems and these received considerable attention throughout the rest of the century.
Seeds for crops after doomsday are to be held on the isolated Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. Part of the Svalbard archipelago, it is free from tectonic activity and its -4 degree Celsius permafrost will give the proposed store's refrigeration (to -20 to -30 degrees) Celsius a start. The bank, its proposers say, is needed in case species become extinct or lose genetic diversity, or in the event of global nuclear war. Some 3 million seeds will be stored. The construction cost of £1.7 million (US$3 million) is being met by the Norwegian government and the annual running cost of £55,500 (US$100,000) is to be provided by the Global Crop Diversity Trust (a charity based in Rome). Nobody is needed full time to man the store as it is remote and only accessible by an air-strip. Two high security doors and motion detectors will provide protection. Though there are other crop seed banks in the World some are not well maintained and there are funding concerns. This one should be able to preserve seeds' viability for thousands of years. Completion of the store is expected in 2007.
Cardinal says that anyone involved in destroying human embryos should be excommunicated, embryonic stem cell researchers included! Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo who chairs the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family is the first senior Vatican official to publicly support excommunication for embryonic stem cell researchers. Researchers counter that largely only embryos (chiefly those left over from fertility treatment) that would otherwise be discarded are used and so if anything is ethical as simple disposal would be a waste. The Vatican has a powerful influence over politicians but embryonic stem cell work is legal under Italian law passed in 2004.
President George W. Bush has used his veto to block a law allowing state-funded embryonic stem cell research. This is the first time he has used his veto and he has done so for reasons similar to Cardinal Trujillo (see above). His decision has disturbed politicians on both sides of Congress.
The International Society of Environmental Botanists has launched a new website. Advert free (unlike the earlier website which will no longer be updated) it will feature both the latest and past issues of EnviroNews in PDF format. See isebindia.com.
The Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution has been formed. The inaugural meeting took place in Montreal and the society has already attracted about 600 members. See www.ecoeva.ca.
The Worldwide illegal trade in animals and plants is now £5.4 billion (US$10 billion) a year. This makes it the third largest form of international illegal trade after drugs and guns. Data from the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species.
So you've heard of 'Katrina' but what of 'Saomai'? Early in August, typhoon Saomai was the strongest storm to hit China. It was graded as a maximum category 5 'super' typhoon but was reduced to 4 (the same as Katrina last year) on landfall.
Population number crunch
UK population reaches 60 million.
Venice's population falls to 62,000 (down from 121,000 in 1966).
SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION
Dinosaur named after Rowling's Hogwarts. A dinosaur skull discovered in 2004 has been named Dracorex hogwartsia in honour of the school in J. K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' books. The decision was made after some children said that it looked like a dragon's skull.
Artists, ecologists, writers, environmental scientists and film-makers are coming together this autumn to help address pressing ecological issues. The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (the RSA (not to be confused with the Royal Society)) and the Arts Council are behind the venture. Issues range from climate change to biodiversity loss. The idea is that ecology is not just about the relationship between species but for humans has cultural, social and economic dimensions that can be illuminated by artists' and writers' work. This 'Arts & Ecology' programme will culminate in a conference in London this December (2006) under the rather complicated working title of 'Adaptable Ecosystems: Interconnectedness and Trans-Disciplinary Exchange'.
Ben Goldacre's 'Bad Science' column in the Saturday Guardian continues to entertain and inform. Topics over the summer that delight and scare in equal measure included: drug trials (why isn't their a single compulsory cross-referenced international register?); reporting on Scotland's Evening Mail debunking 'Angela's live psychic line', the effectiveness of the Nutrition Society's register, the faking of experiments on Sky's Brainiac programme, the use of potato as an AIDS cure in Africa, the fear of polio vaccine as a US plot in Nigeria and the MMR vaccine in London, the denial of the value of needle exchange schemes in the US, and commercially-driven pre-clinical trials both those that are and are not undertaken.
US National Academies quietly double their estimate of engineering graduates, so was the earlier estimate a fiction? It all began last autumn when the Academies reported that China had produced 600,000 engineering graduates compared to just 70,000 in the US. This helped with Bush's decision to go ahead with a multi-billion dollar 'competiveness initiative'. But then in June the Academies revised China's number down to 350,000 and doubled the US number up to 140,000. Why? Well, allegedly the original report compared proper engineering graduates in the US with the Chinese equivalent of mechanics (Nature v441, p913).
Dune post needed to run planet, says Chief Scientific Advisor to Britain's Department for International Development. Sir Gordon Conway rounded off his interview in the summer edition of the Natural Environment Research Council's Planet Earth magazine. "There is a book called Dune by Frank Herbert. 'Dune' was a great desert planet. The most senior position on the planet was 'planetary ecologist'. I rather like that idea. I think other planets need something similar, even Earth. You can quote me on that: 'Gordon Conway says that there should be a planetary ecologist.' Make sure you say I don't want the job."
Quantum computers are a step closer to reality from SF. Researchers from New South Wales U. (Australia) have created quantum cellular automata (QCA) from four nano-scale quantum dots of silicon (Applied Physics Letters 2006 v89, 013503). QCAs store information, switching between two states, swapping electrons between the dots. Previous QCAs have been made from semiconductors or metals. Using silicon makes the technology closer to that of silicon microchips.
Over 10% of UK adults believe they have been hit by identity theft. A survey of the British energy provider N-Power reveals that those in their late teens to 30s appear to be the main victims and perpetrators. Philip Dick's novels often included the theme of identity and identity control/theft so if this survey is reliable (N-Power's motives are to protect its customers) this is another example of how prescient Dick was as an author. +++ The first (UK) National Identity Theft Prevention Week will be in mid-October.
The Robot Hall of Fame 2006 inductees are:-
From SF: Maria from Metropolis, David from AI and
From reality: the AIBO robotic dog, and Scara (an early industrial robot).
The Robot Hall of Fame was formed in 2003.
Missed any of the 'Science News' subsections, then the following are jump links back: General Science | Astronomy and Space | Natural Science | Science & Science Fiction.
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More science and SF news will be reviewed in our Spring 2007 upload plus there will also be 'forthcoming' book releases for the Spring. Meanwhile ensure you've added the Science Fact and Fiction Concatenation to your site favourites list. Also you can be alerted via e-mail when our next major update takes place. See below...
STOP PRESS: It's currently Mid-October (at time of this supplemental posting) and you might like to check out Jonathan's call to arms reagarding The Tripoli Six for scientist-types into SF to join in the on-line campaign. Keep 'fictions out of science' in the domain of SF and not those seeking scapegoats at the expense of human life.
STOP PRESS: New free site update alert service. We only update the Concatenation with news and reviews at the most every fourth month. Additionally there are short stories in between. This means that regular visitors continually have to remember to check this site out after a few of months of inactivity. However we have noticed that our site visits rise by a few thousand in the weeks before likely seasonal postings! Consequently our IT guy, Dan, has instigated a free site-update alert service to which you can sign up! Be assured that we will not pass on your details to anyone else. To see how you can register click here. Who says we don't look after you.
...And if you don't register with the above alert service then you will be late in finding out about: which SF & fantasy books are forthcoming next season; our new hot SF film short tips and links you can view off the web; our look back at the top SF books of the year (will they continue to be as prescient in predicting the Hugo Awards short-list later in the year?); as well as a separate article on this year's Festival of Fantastic Films; plus a science/technology and society piece by the one and only Tony Chester.
Thanks for information, pointers and news goes to: Dave Basely, Tony Bailey, Alain le Bussy, Ángel Carralero, Olav Christiansen, Vince Docherty, Steve Green, Nikolai Pegasoff, Ted Scribner, Matt Smith, Phillip Thorne, and the many representatives of groups and professional companies who sent news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page.
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