Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Autumn 2009

This is an archive page. Go here for the latest seasonal science fiction news.

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

Autumn 2009

EDITORIAL MATTERS

Various Concat team-member gatherings took place over the summer in Derbyshire (for a Peaks ramble), also Bedfordshire (real ale and DVD films), as well as Hertfordshire (PSIFA reunion) and London (post Royal Society summer exhibition conversazione drink). Alas each involved not the whole team, just a couple or four or five different crew members. Yet even such partial get-togethers are fun, and we have another such mini-gathering happening this autumn at the Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films. However next year we do plan to have something a little more substantive with hopefully over a dozen of us: our largest get-together since the Jersey Eurocon in 1993, hence all too long overdue. To make this even more special we will try to rope in some of those who have been regularly feeding us with news. Without wishing to give anything away a boat will be involved…
          This then is the good news. Unfortunately life elsewhere has not been so kind…

Problems, Problems, Problems… Life is not that bad when your worst problem is your ISP pulling the plug as happened to us, but fortunately we had a mirror back-up ISP and so the site was only down for 40 hours. Of course this was a trifle compared to another of us who had a leak which damaged his personalised autographed (hence now irreplaceable) collection of Roger Zelazny books. But all this was absolutely nothing compared to yet another one of us who had a somewhat serious health episode (a right full-blown, emergency hospital job!). In short, it has been quite a summer. In late August we had truly thought we were over the worst, then our compatriot suffered another major, different but as serious, attack. It appears his GP completely missed the warning signs but the British NHS hospital treatment has been good, otherwise we would be one down right now! We are, though, still all a bit anxious at this end.

Concatenation book reviewers. We are still on the lookout for some more as mission control is swamped with review copies. Get in touch explaining your review/writing experience, or alternatively provide us with a sample review of a title you have recently read, so we can see what you are like. Meanwhile we are delighted to welcome Ian Hunter and Duncan Lunan, both of whose first clutch of reviews appear with this (autumnal 2009) posting.

Concat Site Alert News. This is now too much hassle for us to continue providing. We will keep currently signed-up customers informed for a little while longer (possibly even a few years) but will be not adding new e-mail addresses to our private contact list unless you e-mail us before Christmas (2009). We now have had a regular publishing schedule for the past few years so you should know when we have new stuff and besides we also now post (low down on the front home page) a short, big-font message about the current and next posting.   While we send out a three-figure worth of e-mail alerts each time, we currently get a five-figure a month number of unique visitors downloading a six-figure worth of pages and so the 'site alert' service represents barely one percent of our visitors. Dropping the alert service is one less thing for us to keep secure and do. Of course you could argue that it is a key few percent, but then as our traffic increases by over a thousand visitors the months of our seasonal uploads even when we are late with our postings, we know we have a dedicated following above and beyond the lovely site-alert folk. These folk should, though, realise we are stopping not because we do not value them but because having somewhere anyone can upload an e-mail address is a chink that spammers and hackers can exploit to send malware, not to mention (see previous paragraph) that life continues to throw us more serious curves: see 'Problems, problems' above.

 

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

 

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

Autumn 2009

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

 

This season's science and SF prizes included: Argentina's Avalon Prize, Australia's Ditmar Awards, Britain's Arthur C. Clarke Awards and also the Clarke Awards, Canada's Prix Aurora, China's Galaxy Awards, Croatia's SFera Award, Estonia's Stalker Awards, Finland saw various awards given out at Finncon, France's Prix Rosny-aîné, Germany's Curt Siodmak Prize (visual) and the German SF Prize (written), Italy's Urania, New Zealand's Sir Julius Vogel Awards, Japan's Seiun Awards, Russia's Aelita Prize and Bronze Snails, the Ukraine's Portal Awards, North America's Nebula Awards, the Stokers for horror, the Eisners for comics, and the Beach Book (SF category) Award, the Locus Award plus, finally, the North American Worldcon's Hugo Awards.
          And there is a new competition for the best Arabic SF novel with a generous cash prize.

Book news – Includes that: a posthumous Michael (Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park) Crichton novel is to be published; and London's 4 decade old Fantasy Centre SF shop shuts.
 

Film news – Includes that: Daybreakers is a 2010 film looking at vampires giving them an SFnal twist; even more legal trouble for New Line – this is getting to be a Hobbit; Total Recall is to be remade; and there could be new Ghostbusters and Alien films.
 

Television news – Includes: a new DVD-only Twilight Zone type series Dark Matter and the new Dr Who assistant and his natural scientist wardrobe is revealed.
 

News of SF and science personalities includes, among many, that of: Iain Banks, Ray Bradbury, Rita Levi-Montalcini, Philip Pullman, Terry Pratchett and Alastair Reynolds.
 

France's Actu SF and Bifrost jointly celebrate their respective 10th anniversary – See details here.

Major Summer SF events included: early on the UK Eastercon LX, then there were the Australian, Estonian, New Zealand, French, Finnish and Polish national conventions; plus there was Sci-Fi London.
 

Next year we can look forward to two (Yes 2!) major twin events: in Britain and in Australasia. In Easter in Britain over successive weekends there is the World Horror Convention followed by the British national convention cum Euroconference Odyssey 2010. Then later at the end of August in Australasia there is the New Zealand national convention with the following week the Worldcon in Melbourne.
          Because we at Concatenation really look after you, we have elsewhere on this site a guide to the British World Horror and national/Euroconference venue cities as well as a separate guide to the New Zealand national convention host city.
 

Our short video clip section this season is headed up with the trailer for the 2010 SFnal vampire film Daybreakers, as well as a clip from this year's Hugo Award nominated episode of Lost, not to mention a simply delightful steampunk cartoon from Tim (Monty Python) Ollive, but there are other clips of interest in this section too… – See the section here.
 

Notable SF books due out in the run up to Christmas include: a delight for on-line SF gamers with EVE: The Burning Line by Hjalti Danielsson; the hugely anticipated Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds; Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson; and the lightweight but page-turning romp Wake by Robert J. Sawyer.
          On the fantasy front we can expect The Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett to fly off the shelves, and there is also the release of The Last Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (whose preceding novel has just won a Stalker Award in Estonia).

The notable SF sequels due out before Christmas are: Ark by Stephen Baxter; Nova War by Gary Gibson; and Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley.
 

Notable SF book reprints shortly coming out this autumn include: The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams; On the Beach by Nevil Shute; The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis; Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut; and The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham.
 

The Summer saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included: the renowned British speculative fiction author J. G. Ballard, Charles Brown editor of the multi-Hugo winning Locus, the glaucoma conquering Ronald Pitts Crick, the Nobel winner HLA discoverer Jean Dausset, the Nobel winner Robert Furchgott, Phyllis Gotlieb one of the founders of Canadian SF, the Japanese fantasy writer Kaoru Kurimoto , and the twice editor of Nature and polymath John Maddox.
 

 

Jump to other specialist news using the section menu below or else scroll down to get everything…

 

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

Autumn 2009

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SF NEWS

The 2009 Arthur C. Clarke Awards have been announced just as we were finalising last season's news early in April. Not to be confused with the Clark Award (see next item), these ones are for achievements in furthering and popularising space exploration and use. The 2009 winners were:-
          Best Corporate/Team Achievement: The ESA ATV Team - Project leader: John Ellwood (by the way the ATVs are named after SF authors).
          Best Individual Achievement: Richard Garriott (British born space tourist to the International Space Station in 2008 and third Brit, and 2nd to wear union flag, in space)
          Best Student Achievement: David Boyce
          Best TV/Radio Presentation: 'The Satellite Story' Directed by Dan Walker
          Achievement in Education: Chris Welch
          Best Space Reporting: The BBC Science News Team
          Inspiration Award: Lord Drayson (UK Science Minister who has called for 'scientific icons' including a British astronaut)
          Outreach Award for the Public Promotion of Space: The UK IAC Team
          Lifetime Achievement Award: Professor Fred Taylor (Oxford U. who has worked ESA's Venus Express and NASA's Galileo to Jupiter).
          Special Award: Alistair Scott (who is Astrium EADS PR person who what he may lack in science makes up for with bags of quietly spoken charm)
Unlike the science fiction Clarkes (which is decided by a small jury) the space Clarkes have nominations from the public (effectively those aware of British Rocketry and Oral History Programme members which includes a fair number in the UK space community). Then a panel makes a decision based on the nominations for each category. The awards were presented at this year's 4-day UK space conference in Godalming. The trophies were in the form of small glass monoliths as per the novel and film 2001.

The Clarke SF Award was announced at Sci-Fi London's opening night. The winner was Ian R. MacLeod's novel Song of Time.
          Clarke Award comment. Now as worthy a win as this was (so our sincere congratulations to the winner – way to go Ian) this year, with two space operas short-listed, especially highlighted the Clarke Award oddity which is that if ever Arthur C. Clarke got time-looped and had a chance to have one of his novels short-listed for the award then it would certainly not win! The Clarke Award simply does not go to the hardest SF book short-listed or a hard SF space opera of the type that Clarke himself wrote: instead the award's litcrit jury consistently goes for worthy 'literary' novels as opposed to harder SF and sense-of-wonder. And so true to Clarke Award form though poor old Paul McAuley, whose interplanetary space opera The Quiet War, and Alastair Reynolds, whose interstellar space opera The House of Suns, were both short-listed and excellent they never ever stood a proverbial snowball's chance.
          Please do not take the afore comment as being churlish, or even a sleight against the winner (our appreciation of which is heartfelt and already noted). However we mention it to you, our regulars (many of whom are possibly more spectators of, rather than participants in, the SF scene), because for our money it is not the winning of the Clarke Award that really counts as an indicator of SF excellence but being short-listed!   You see you can be sure that if a book is nominated for a Clarke then it is quite likely to be rather good. (And of course winners are first short-listed.) Indeed our previous recommendations for the best books of 2008 include two of this year's Clarke Award short-listed titles: The House of Suns and Martin Martin's on the Other Side. So in future you just may care to note the short-listed novels and do not worry so much about which of these the judges rate as the finalist: after all the Clarke is a judged award which means that the so-called 'winner' is in fact the short-listed book the judges disagree about the least. And more casual SF readers need to note that as far as the Clarke is concerned, the Award is not an indication of who today writes most like the great man himself or who excels in the type of SF Clarke penned.
          It should also be said that the book Clarke Award is not alone among awards for final winner oddity. The Hugo Award has some decidedly peculiar results even if its voting is a by larger cadre of Worldcon regulars with a decided N. American bias. Each year there are some brilliant novels nominated for the Hugo but alas – and this must be said (and indeed was as the subject of a recent Worldcon programme panel) – some Hugo winners have been right turkeys. Here other factors affecting the ballot seem to include things such as number of previous nominations which if high but not yet resulting in a win seems to engender an 'it-is-their-turn' effect. Also authors who regularly attend Worldcons and have a higher profile there seem to do better than as worthy authors who do not attend… Enough said.

Ukraine's Portal Awards were announced just as we were embedding last season's newscast back in April. They were presented at the Ukraine's annual Portal convention held in Kiev. The principal category wins were:-
          Major Form: 'Leonardo's Handwriting' by Dina Rubina
          Critical Non-Fiction (Book): 'Unknown Strugatsky: Drafts, Manuscripts, and Alternate Versions' by Svitlana Bondarenko

The 2008 Nebula Awards were presented at the 2009 Nebula Awards Weekend in Los Angeles, US, back at the summer's start. The Nebulas are, of course, the SF Writers of America (SFWA) award. The principal winners were:-
          Novel: Powers by Ursula K. LeGuin
          Script: WALL-E (that also won a Hugo this year and Germany's Curt Siodmak Prize)
At the Nebula weekend Harry Harrison was honoured as a Damon Knight Grand Master. (Harry Harrison is, of course, one of the authors selected to have their own entry in Essential Science Fiction due to accruing a number of works winning fan-voted awards.) Harry also took part in a Grandmasters panel with Robert Silverberg and Joe Haldeman.   Ursula K. LeGuin already has five previous Nebula awards, as well as five Hugos (and, of course, is one of the authors who has their own entry in Essential SF).
          Full details of all the Nebula category wins can be found on the SFWA site.

The 2009 Ditmar Awards, Australia's annual SF achievement awards for 2008 work were presented at the 48th Australian national SF convention, Conjecture, in Adelaide. The principal winners were:
          Novel: Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
          Best Professional Artwork: Shaun Tan for Tales from Outer Suburbia
          Best Fan Publication: Asif!
Conjecture summary is below.

The 2009 Sir Julius Vogel Awards, New Zealand's annual SF achievement awards for 2008 work were presented at ConScription, the 30th New Zealand national science fiction convention. The principal winners were:-
          Novel: Dark Heart by Russell Kirkpatrick
          Novel - Young Adult: Thornspell by Helen Lowe.
For the full results see http://sffanz.sf.org.nz.

Germany's Curt Siodmak Prize (visual) and the German SF Prize (written) were awarded at SFCD Con – SchlossCon 2009 – in Schwerin Castle :-
          Curt Siodmak - Film: WALL-E (that also recently won Hugo and a Nebula)
          Curt Siodmak - TV: Battlestar Galactica
          German SF Club Prize - Novel: Das Tahiti-Projekt [The Tahiti Project] by Dirk C. Fleck
          German SF Club Prize - Short story: 'Weg mit Stella Maris' ['Way with Stella Maris'] by Karla Schmidt
WALL-E beat Batman: The Dark Knight in the final SFCD con vote but earlier it had been neck-and-neck with pre-convention on-line votes. The Battlestar win was the third Curt Siodmak in a row for the series with the runners-up being Dr Who closely followed by Stargate Atlantis.   The German SF Club Prize is a juried award from the German SF Society (Club) SFCD. Conversely the Curt Siodmak Prize is fan voted. Curt Siodmak, after whom the prize is named, was a German writer and film director born in 1902.

Short-list cock-up for Germany's Phantastik Preis [Fantastic Prize] for fantasy but it is still on track for the October BuchmesseCon prize announcement and presentation. It concerns the nomination of Christopher Marzis Nimmermehr [Never] (Heyne) in the Best Original Anthology category. Nobody on the Prize's organising board noticed that the anthology actually came out in 2007 as the publisher's catalogue gave the official publication date as January 2008. After some debate, and given the numbers voting, it was decided to retain the anthology on the shortlist. +++ Of interest to our non-German regulars the shortlist for the Best International (Foreign) Novel category is:-
          Brian Keene: The Long Way Home
          Cassandra Clare: Chronicles of the Underworld - City of Bones
          John Scalzi: The Last Colony
          Neal Stephenson: Principia
          Patrick Rothfuss: The Name of the Wind

The 2009 Locus Awards have been presented for 2008 works. The Locus Awards are voted on by the readers of Locus magazine and are arguably more representative of the N. American genre book scene than the Hugos in that fantasy (with its own category) does not get in the way of SF excellence. This year the principal category wins went to:-
          Science Fiction Novel: Anathem by Neal Stephenson
          Fantasy Novel: Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin
Full details of all the other categories can be found on the Locus website.

Japan's Seiun Awards have been announced. The principal wins are:-
          Novel: Harmony by Project Itoh
          Foreign Novel: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

The 2009 Beach Book Festival Winners have been announced. The annual US festival honours books that are considered beach reads for the holiday season and there is an annual competition with an overall winner taking US$1,500 (about £1,000). This year the Fest was held in New York. The overall winner went to Brenda Bence for her How You Are Like Shampoo: For Job Seekers. The title shows how you can market yourself like a brand name and the judges felt was appropriate given the global recession. The title is surely a contender for the Diagram Prize (this year's Diagram winner below). The general fiction section winner was Ian MacDonald (not Ian Mcdonald) for The Boyd Massacre: bet you some confusion arises from that. And yes, there was an SF category. Here the win went to Tony Thorne for Tenerife Tall Tales. Tony Thorne is a Brit living in Austria and of note he previously had a story published in Creatures of Glass and Light: New European Stories of the Fantastic.   The SF category runner-up was The Grandmaster by Peter A. Balaskas.

The winners for the Eisner Awards were announced at the International Comic-Con in San Diego, California. The Eisners are presented for excellence in comic book/graphic novel writing and illustrating. The principal category wins were:-
          Best Continuing Series: All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
          Best Limited Series: Hellboy: The Crooked Man by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben
          Best New Series: Invincible Iron Man by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca
          Best Graphic Album-New: Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell
          Best Graphic Album-Reprint: Hellboy Library Edition, vols. 1 and 2 by Mike Mignola
          Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism: Comic Book Resources produced by Jonah Weiland
          Best Comics-Related Book: Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier
For full details of all the categories see www.comic-con.org.

Finnish SF Awards were given out at Finncon -- See the Finncon conrep in fandom section below.

Italy's 2009 Urania Award for best novella goes to Francesco Verso for Il Fabbricante di Sorrisi [The Smile Maker]. The winning novella will be published in the November issue of Italy's SF/F magazine Urania with the title E-Doll [E-Doll]. 36 year old Francesco Verso is already known for his book Antidoti Uman [Human Antidote]. The Urania Award is a juried award associated with the Italian SF magazine Urania and has been presented annually since 1989.

Argentina's Avalon Prize announced: And the winner is Ekaitz Ortega for Sanador [Healer]. The author also picks up a cheque for Ar$600. The Avalon Prize is a bit like the Arthur Clarke SF prize and is juried.

The 2009 Aelita Prize for a Russian SF writer goes to Vladimir Vasiliev. We have briefly covered news of Vladimir before. The Prize was given at this year's Aelita in Ekaterinburg. At that event the Russian Grandmaster of Fantasy, Sergei ('Watch' series) Lukyanenko was GoH.

Russia's Bronze Snails were announced at this year's joint Baltkon/Interpresskon near St Petersburg. This year's Snails went to:-
          Novel: Dmitry Bykov for 'Write'
          Novella: Alexey Lukyanov for 'Deep Drilling'
          Short Story: Julia Zonis for 'Me-gi-do'
          Non-Fiction: Ant Skalandis for his work on the Strugatskys
The Bronze Snails are Russia's SF grandmaster's Boris Strugatsky choice of best SF and fantasy and have been given each year since 1992 (though in 1991 there was the Strugatsky prize). There are four categories: large fantastic forms (the novel), moderate (novel), a small form (story, short story), as well as for the best critical, journalistic or non-fiction work.

Canada's Prix Aurora Awards were presented at this year's Worldcon, called Anticipation, in Canada. The principal category wins awarded were:-
          Best Long Form Work English: Marseguro by Edward Willett
          Best Long Form Work French: Les Vents de Tammerlan [The Winds of Tammerlan] by Michele Laframboise.

The 2009 Hugo award were presented at this year's Anticipation in Canada. The principal category wins were:-
          Best Novel: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
          Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius: Volume 8 written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio
          Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form: WALL-E (that also won a Nebula this year. You can see its trailer here)
          Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form: Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog written by Joss Whedon
Comment 1,074 voted for one or more categories. It was a good win for the novel (notwithstanding Neil kindly writing us an article when we were starting out decades ago, so we were delighted for his win (way to go Neil)) by a reasonable margin though the voting saw Anathem (this year's Locus award winner) give it a good run for its money: The best graphic novel was a bit of a surprise, but a welcome one, beating the derivative Serenity and also Y: The Last Man (Tony is pleased). Conversely Disney winning the Long Form with WALL-E so convincingly (about twice as many votes as the next on the shortlist) speaks volumes as to Worldcon fandom's knowledge of cinematic SF… but then Worldcons in the past couple of decades have not been noted for their appreciation of that aspect of the genre (see also the conrep later), indeed this year's Worldcon being held in a country noted for its film independents was a missed opportunity. Having said that, US SF writers liked the film having just awarded it a Nebula and German fans gave it the Curt Siodmak Prize.   Which brings us to the Short Form win. This divided us as some rated Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog highly as a change while others of us as trite with it only winning due to the affection fans have for Joss of Buffy fame. You can decide for yourself by seeing the trailer here. (OK so it was worthy with its Hollywood writers strike-sensitive and new-technology ideals… but 'SF achievement' Hugo material? What do you think?)   Of the other categories the only thing of minor note was one of the lesser categories getting a not insignificant 'no-award' vote.   The results of all the category wins can be found on www.thehugoaward.org. +++ Details of Hugo business news appears later.
You can see the Hugo graphic novel acceptance speech as a comic strip on http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20090817

Who has the most Hugo Awards? SF Scope has compiled a chart of multi-Hugo winning fiction authors. It is an interesting chart that goes to show just how N. American the Worldcon awards truly are. See "http://sfscope.com/2009/07/hugo-award-fiction-winners-by.html".

China's Galaxy Awards for speculative fiction have been announced for last year's (2008) works (a lot earlier than last year's award for the previous year). Outside of the Anglophone market (Europe, Australasia and North America) and Russian-speaking nations, the largest linguistic market for SF is undoubtedly Chinese. Of course the modern Chinese market is very young and indeed there is only one magazine that dominates the market and that is SF World. But with a circulation a few years ago of 500,000, SFW has to be the largest read SF magazine on the planet (and possibly off it for a few light years at least). The Galaxy Awards are managed by the magazine and the short story wins relate to those appearing in that publication.
          The Most Extraordinary SF Story:
                    ‘The Sadness of Chinese Hibiscus’ by Chang Jia (This is the third time that Chang Jia won a Galaxy Award. The story is a bit of an experiment, which intended to add some pop elements in a traditional SF story, and this experiment has arguably been proven to be a success because both judges and readers liked his idea.)
          Excellent SF Stories (panel judged):
                    'An Eternal Summer Dream' by Xia Jia
                    'To Live' by Wang Jinkang (his third Galaxy in as many years!)
          Readers' SF Short Story Prizes (reader vote):
                    'The Hive' by Chi Hui
                    'The Source Code of Gene' by Feng Yuan
                    'Kangaroo' by Lin Chuan
                    'Siva’s Dance' by Jiang Bo
                    'Glass Labyrinth' by Yin Bingfeng
          Best Fantasy Novel:
                    'Tian Xingjian '- Genesis' by Yan Leisheng (the fifth book of this series)
          Best Fantasy Novella:
                    'Jiayu Pass' by Piao Deng
          Best Fantasy Novelette:
                    'Red Silk' by Jingshangsanchi
          Best SF & Fantasy Artist:
                    Li Tao (2nd year win in a row. This year's win was for an SFW cover depicting a futuristic Olympic games arena with torch about to be lit)
          Most Popular Foreign Writer:
                    Neil Gaiman (2nd year win in a row)
You will notice that there is no Best SF Novel category this year as once again it was deemed that there were not enough novels of sufficient quality to warrant this category.

Croatia's SFera Award winners for the best SF of 2008 were announced at SFeraKon in Zagreb. (SFeraKon is Croatia's oldest and most sercon (serious and conscientious) convention that in recent years has seen about 800 attend.) The winners were:-
          Novel: Dobitnik [The Winner] by Tamoya Sanshal
          Juvenile Novel: Vražje Oko [The Devil's Eye] by Igor Lepč
          Novella: 'Tako Biti Mora' ['It Is To Be So'] by Zoran Krušvar
          Short Story: 'Nek' Se Ne Zna Traga, Ljeljo!' ['To Know No Trace, Ljelja!'] by Dario Rukavina
          Micro-story: 'Zadnja Vožnja' ['The Last Ride'] by Ed Barol
          Art (colour): Biljana Mateljan
          Art (mono): Frano Petruša
          Non-Fiction Essay: 'Filmska Fantastika i SF u Kontekstu Teorije Žanra' ['Fantastic films and SF in the Context of Genre Theory'] by Nikica Gilić
          Lifelong Achievement: Darko Suvin
          ProtoSFera Award (for best young writer): Valentina Mišković for the story 'Izgubljeni Bijeli Brat' ['A Lost White Brother']
Background to SFera Awards. Croatia does not have a national SF Award as such, and neither does it have a national convention. Each convention in Croatia is organised by the local SF fans - SFeraKon in Zagreb, Istrakon in Pazin, RiKon in Rijeka. The biggest, oldest, most serious etc. is SFeraKon (lately around 800 participants). The second biggest is Istrakon (up to 500). The third biggest is RiKon (100-300). Additionally there is also Liburnicon in Opatija (a high-graded seaside tourist resort and it takes place in July, but the convention itself is a small one and tends to attract youngsters, so guests from abroad may be disappointed) and Essekon in Osijek (which turned to a relaxacon party the last few years, so guests from abroad may be delighted). So it may perhaps be argued that were Croatia to have a national award then it could be that the closest there is would the SFera Awards.

The 2008 Bram Stoker Awards for US horror have been announced at the Stoker Award Weekend banquet at the Burbank Marriott Hotel, Los Angeles, US. The principal wins were:-
          Novel: Duma Key by Stephen King
          First Novel: The Gentling Box, Lisa Mannetti
          Anthology: Unspeakable Horror, edited by Vince A. Liaguno & Chad Helder
          Non-Fiction: A Hallowe’en Anthology edited by Lisa Morton

France's Actu SF and Biforst (jointly celebrate their 10th anniversary). Actu SF is one of France's leading SF websites and Biforst a print semi-prozine. The anniversary was marked this summer with an SF party one evening in Paris that saw authors signing books and much beer.   Our congratulations to both.

Estonia's Stalker Awards were announced at Estcon. The principal category wins were:-
          Best Translated Novel: Night Watch by Sergey Lukyanenko
          Best Anthology or Collection: Space Folk by Poul Anderson
          Best Estonian Novel: Gort Ashryn: I osa. Enne viimast sõda [Gort Ashryn: Part I. Before the Final War] by Leo Kunnas
This possibly makes Night Watch the 21st century SF or fantasy novel with the most SF/fantasy awards from different countries!   The Stalker Awards are fan voted and – just in case you had not guessed it – named after Tarkovsky's 1979 cinematic adaptation of the Strugatskis' novel Roadside Picnic.

France's Prix Rosny-aîné were presented at Bellaing the French natcon:-
          Novel: Xaver Mauméjean for Lilliputia
          Short Story: Jeanne A. Debats for 'La Vieille Anglaise et le Continent' ['The Old Lady and the Continent']
The awards are fan voted in two rounds (like the Hugos).

The 2009 Diagram Prize, or Bookseller magazine/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year, has been awarded with some controversy. The winner, The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais by Philip M. Parker, was controversial because it was written by a machine. Philip Parker did not write the book himself but used an automated process to produce thousands of titles on the basis of internet and database searches. Philip Stone, charts editor and awards administrator at The Bookseller, commented by saying: "I think it's slightly controversial as it was written by a computer, but given the number of celebrity memoirs out there that are ghostwritten, I don't think it's too strange." +++ Possible candidate for next year's prize wins Beach Book award earlier here.

New major Arab SF prize for 2009. It is being run by ALECSO (The Arab Organization for Education, Culture and Science), is for the best SF novel, and has a cash prize of $10,000. The prize presentation is scheduled for this December. Apparently some Middle East publishers are wary of publishing SF as it is feared it might be perceived as a Westernization of Arabic literature. In Egypt the term "scientific novel" is used on the covers Nihad Sheriff's novels. (Nihad Sheriff is also regarded as a leading pioneer of Arabic SF.) Not all Middle East countries embrace SF, but it has particularly developed in Egypt and Syria.

Apex Magazine is back. Jason Sizemore announced that the American magazine was coming out of hiatus with an issue in July plus one in August via print on demand and lo, it was so. They need US$500 worth of sales a month to keep going and so will know the score this autumn.

Paradox has ceased publication.. No, not the H. G Wells Society (Timisoara) clubzine but N. American The Magazine of Historical and Speculative Fiction. There are plans for future book anthologies. The possibility also exists that the magazine could re-launch in an online format in the future.

The Swedish SF magazine Jules Verne-Magasinet is ceasing publication after 38 years. The editor, the Swedish master of SF Sam Lundwall, has deteriorating eye-sight problems.

Starburst magazine really does looks like it has closed. Further to last season's news there has been no sign of any resurrection. Founded in the UK in 1978 it originally had news and reviews of books, film, TV and comics. Its owners, Visual Imagination, appear to have gone bust with reportedly some court judgements against them.

Into SF comics? The you may want to know that 2000AD has just re-booted all its strips with brand new adventures as of Prog (issue) 1650 at the end of August. 2000AD is the only high-street-selling weekly British SF comic. Strips include: Judge Dredd, Kingdom, and Shakara. If you have been dissuaded from jumping in because you would be halfway through stories, this is a rare opportunity for a clean start for a trial subscription either by post or from your specialist SF shop (for example Forbidden Planet London keeps the past month's worth of copies in stock). Now (September 2009) is a good time to try out 2000AD. If you do not have a good SF shop near you then you can subscribe direct (specify starting with Prog 1650) from www.2000adonline.com for either the paper edition or (via 'click wheel') the electronic version. +++ If all this is to much hassle but you still would like a sampler then from mid-December there will be the annual Prog 2010 of 2000AD (note here this prog 'number' is the 'year date') which is the Christmas 100-page special. The strips are longer and a couple will be complete stories (including the traditional Judge Dredd Christmas tale). +++ 'Judge Anderson' is to return to the Judge Dredd Megazine in 2010 in 'The House of Vyle'. -- Splundig.

 

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

Autumn 2009

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

Isaac Asimov gets Martian crater. – News below here in the 'Science & SF' subsection.

Margaret Atwood is in Britain this autumn as part of her 35-city 'Green Tour' to promote The Year of the Flood (which is set at the same time as the events in the dystopian Oryx and Crake). The events of The Year of the Flood take place in the future and follow Ren and Toby who are devotees of the eco-religion God's Gardeners. Of course it is not real SF, she explained to Mark Lawson on BBC Radio 4. (Mark himself occasionally gives the impression that SF is not a particularly worthy genre.) Atwood points out that her (presumably 'phony SF'?) fiction does not have 'talking squid'. She has also revealled that there will be yet another novel to come set in the 'Oryx' universe. (Presumably that will also be phony SF, so no talking squid...) -- The Year of the Flood is out from Bloomsbury in hardback priced £18.99.

Iain Banks is making the most of once more having a passport (he tore his previous one up and mailed it to the Prime Minister during the Tony Blair years in protest at the Iraq war). This summer he was a speaker at the Prague Writers' Festival at Laterna Magika. He was interviewed by The Prague Post see http://www.praguepost.com/tempo/1455-on-the-cusp.html. In it he notes that his latest novel, Transition, is being treated in Britain as a mainstream novel, while, in the US, it will be published under his middle initialled name, which is reserved for his science fiction. +++ Iain has received a PhD from Middx U. +++ He also appeared on BBC Radio 4's Open Book programme discussing his novel Transitions. +++ Iain Banks will be having a signing in Forbidden Planet London on 3rd October 2009 for his new book Transitions.

Ray Bradbury turned 89 in August. The US author is still writing a few hours a day but also has other activities including campaigning for his nearby Ventura county's public library which is the victim of the recession (its funding coming from property tax). However he has his hates. “The Internet is a big distraction,” he has reportedly said. “Yahoo called me eight weeks ago. They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? ‘To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet.’" All of which kind of puts an e-zine like Concatenation in its place… We still love the man's writing though. (See our reviews of From The Dust Returned, The Illustrated Man, The Machineries of Joy, Ray Bradbury Stories and Something Wicked This Way Comes)

Howard Chaykin will be having a signing of American Flagg vols 1 & 2 at London's Forbidden Planet on Monday 5th October 2009 at 5.30 - 6.30pm.

Eoin Colfer will be having a signing at London's Forbidden Planet on Wednesday 14th October 6 - 7pm and the first 150 guests will also get a free signed poster.

Michael Crichton, who recently died, may have the sequel to his biotech novel Next(2006) completed and published. HarperCollins in the US is behind the move and of course (see later) they are also currently (November 2009) posthumously publishing Crichton's non-SF Pirate Latitudes in the US with a print run of a million copies.

Tessa Dick (Philip K. Dick's widow) is suing PKD's estate's production company Electric Shepherd and daughter Laura, for alleged loss of income from Ubik and A Scanner Darkly.

Greg Egan has had his identity swapped Ansible reports. Nearly all of us now have internet clones. So has Egan as photographs of an illustrious professor of electrical engineering from Monash University have been popping up on obscure fannish web sites recently, next to articles about his books. Egan thought this would burn itself out but now, alas, it appears on the cover of a Spanish edition of Axiomatic. With the increasing interconnectedness and ID conscious of the 21st century, he is now dreading being stopped at an airport accused of having a fake passport.

Steven Erikson's publishers are keen to remind readers that his fantasy series had some years ago attracted a similar deal to that recently awarded Alastair Reynolds. Steven Erikson signed up to a similar landmark deal when Transworld Publishers acquired world rights in the 10 novels that would go to make up his epic fantasy sequence ‘The Malazan Book of the Fallen’. Since then sales have grown exponentially year-on-year. The penultimate in the series, Dust of Dreams came out over the summer from Transworld.

Dave Gibbons, the artist whose work includes Watchmen, is supporting the 2009 Digital Arts Competition. www.digitalartistawards.com.

Stephen Hawking received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from USA President Obama.

Christopher Lee, the Brit horror actor, has been knighted.

Rita Levi-Montalcini, the Italian Nobel Prize winner, turned a hundred shortly after we posted last season's news in April. As such she is the oldest Nobel Laureate. She was forced by the anti-Jewish laws of the late 1930s to quit university and to do her research in an improvised lab in her bedroom. A neurologist and development biologist, she shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1986 with Stanley Cohen. In 2004 when the Italian authorities threatened to remove evolution from school curricular she was a voice for enlightened reason.

Gail Z. Martin has sold e-book rights to Double Dragon Press for the first four books in the ' Necromancer' series that includes: The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven and Dark Lady's Chosen.

George R. R. Martin has been in Estonia meeting fans, doing things in bookshops and meeting the publishers and translators of his Estonian books. There was also his latest Estonian edition in his Song of Fire and Ice series out.

Andre Norton will's court case is now over: The Tennessee Supreme Court denied Victor Horadam's request for final appeal. So it is as we reported back in the Spring: Norton's former carer, Sue Stewart, gets the income and royalties on books published up to her death and on subsequent reprints thereof, while longstanding Norton fan and friend, Victor Horadam, receives rights and royalties on new (formerly unpublished) works which by definition are published after her death.
          Meanwhile Sue Stewart has said she is, "currently working on several projects involving Andre's work. Her estate will be making an important announcement in the near future."

Frederik Pohl gets high-school qualifications aged 89 from Brooklyn Technical High School. Pohl had dropped out at 15; his parents were divorcing and there were depression-era problems. He did though wonder if he had finished high school whether he would have gone on to a life career at American Car and Foundry instead of writing a number of science fiction classics.

Edgar Allan Poe's life is to be celebrated on 11th October, the 200th anniversary of his birth, with a funeral procession and service in Baltimore, US.

Chris Priest's short story 'Futuristic.co.uk' was read out on national BBC Radio 4 in August as part of a series of stories called 'Perspective'. +++ You may recall Chris was awarded the special prize of 'European Grandmaster' earlier in the year.

Terry Pratchett was seen wandering a new housing estate in Somerset just prior to Easter as we were posting last season's news. No, he was not buying a house but checking the street names. The local Council have approved the naming of some of the streets of Kingswell Rise estate in Wincanton after elements of his Discworld series of books. So you can wander down Peach Pie Street or even slip along Treacle Mine Road. Sir Terry said that though they are names from his novels they do have an old English feel to them. Meanwhile Wincanton (population 5,000) is officially twinned with Ankh-Morpork (population 1,000,000) of Discworld. +++ Later in the summer Terry contributed to an article on the Daily Mail online calling for a change in the law to allow assisted suicide. Though he thinks the fight to change the law will be a long one – and that he will die before the endgame – he lives in hope that he can jump before he is pushed. If he does have to go then he would like it to be in his garden or, if wet, in his library, with a glass of brandy.
+++ His next Discworld novel is out this autumn.
+++ BBC Radio 4's arts hack Mark Lawson (who has a reputation for adopting a somewhat dismissive tone when referring to SF ('sci fi')) gets to interview Terry. You can see the vid clip here. Terry, oh so gently, encourages him to broaden his definition of fantasy. +++ Then Terry goes on to say how great SF conventions are for meeting literary giants like Ballard and Moorcock, and Lawson just has to sit there and take it. Brilliant (though you have to hear Lawson regularly on BBC R4 to know where he comes from with regards to SF). You can see this second vid clip here.

Philip Pullman began the summer with his stage debut in a theatrical adaptation of his own His Dark Materials. He was on stage in Oxford for 10 minutes in a non-speaking part. His participation was kept secret beforehand so as not to overshadow the Birmingham Repertory Theatre company production. He only appeared in one, the first, performance of the tour. +++ Later in the summer he joined with other leading juvenile fiction writers to object to the new need for writers who visit British schools to join the Government's 'Vetting and Barring' register list to ensure that they are not likely to prey on children. (It should be noted that writers visiting schools do so to speak to classes under the supervision of school teachers and do not undertake unsupervised one-to-one pupil encounters. The same problem also could affect visiting scientists engaged in school outreach encounters.) The Home Office says various new regulations will have meant that more than five million more jobs and voluntary posts - including most NHS positions - will be subject to checks.

Andy Remic has an online video trailer out for his latest book here.

Alastair Reynolds has accepted a £1 million (US$1,620,000) contract with Gollancz for a book a year for the next 10 years… Now if you have checked out our reviews of Reynolds' books you will get the impression that we think that his SF is ever so slightly fantastic. So on one hand we welcome this news, on the other we hope that this does not mean that if he happens to be able to do two in a year (say a novel and a collection of shorts as he has just done) that we wont get any delay in publication. Meanwhile what this news also indicates is that Gollancz is determined to remain the British Isles' premiere SF book imprint.
+++ Alastair Reynolds and Adam Roberts appeared on UK national radio – BBC Radio 4's Today programme – to discuss space opera. Reynolds discussed his Gollancz contract and that he likes to get the science as right as the plot will allow.   Adam Roberts said that while all SF had sense-of-wonder, it was particularly strong in large-scale space opera. When asked about the advantages of space opera dealing with contemporary issues such as 9/11 Roberts said that the genre was particularly adept at exploring complex social and human issues as SF is metaphorical. A straight book on 9/11 easily falls soul of running into trivia and the factual minutiae of the incident and its causes. Being metaphorical cuts through the complexity to enable eloquently exploration of key aspects.   It was also noted that Britain was leading the World in space opera with the likes of Banks, Baxter, McAuley and, of course, Reynolds.

Patrick Rothfuss has had a European tour that included his first UK signing session. It took place in London's Forbidden Planet SF shop and was followed later that day by an evening Q&A session. Previously he held signings in Rome and Amsterdam. Later he had a signing session in Manchester and then went to Taunton and Glastonbury.

J. K. Rowling has resigned from being patron of the Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland. Just as we were link-checking last season's posting, the news came in that J. K. Rowling was resigning citing the organizational splits between the charity's Scottish Council and its London-based management: apparently it has been so bad that some staff have died and J.K. even attended a mediation meeting. +++ J. K. Rowling's mother died with MS and Scotland is thought to have the highest incidence in the world.

Lars-Olov Strandberg, member of Swedish first fandom and the continental European Fan GoH at the 2005 Eurocon-Worldcon, celebrated his 80th birthday with a party at the Tolkien society Forodrim club house in Stockholm.

Steph Swainston hugely enjoyed her Finnish trip to Aland 4. She was particularly taken with the woodland and the abundance of moss (stacks for reindeer to eat). Aland 4 had its usual light programming and the long-days (it only got to be dusk near midnight) kept things going. She also got introduced to and hugely enjoyed Salmiakki which is a very gothic black liquorice liqueur.

Bryan Talbot has become the first comics writer and artist to receive an honorary doctorate for his work. He received his for 'outstanding contribution to the Arts as writer and graphic artist' from Sunderland University.

Roberto Quaglia overjoyed at someone asking him to autograph his playlets Someone Up There is Lasting After Me and God Inc. (copies from the 1993 Jersey Eurocon), not to mention the successful launch of his book of shorts co-written with Ian Watson (apparently it flies like a space shuttle) at this year's British Eastercon, he returned to Romania where he was bitten by a stray dog. After some weeks worrying whether or not he would get rabies, he was cheered up with the publication of the Romanian edition his docu-book on 9/11 (and that he is still rabies free). +++ A Guadrian review of Roberto and Ian's book is here. +++ And here is a video clip of the book launch (and if you look closely behind the beer you may discern how the review got into the Guadrian).

 

The US Science Fiction community really needs to get behind Obama's health initiative! Alas the US, in terms of its social development at least, does not have a healthcare system for all its citizens like Great Britain's. While Britain's admittedly does not cover the most expensive of specialist anti-cancer drugs (of course Brits can go private), its system does cover HIV medicines and heart surgery not to mention accident injury: Britain has (2005) a life expectancy of 78.38 years whereas for the US it is 78.14, so the Brits don't seem to lose out with their healthcare system. See the following two news items…

Paul Williams support fund launched. An early champion of Philip K Dick, author of the underground classic Das Energi, confidant of John Lennon, biographer of Bob Dylan and travelling companion to the Grateful Dead, Paul Williams suffered a road accident in 1995. His condition has since slowly declined and now he needs full-time care. See www.paulwilliams.com.

Aaron Allaston also needs help with his medical bills. Aaron Allston is best known for many Star Wars novels (Del Rey Books). Alas during a book tour he has had a massive heart attack necessitating (expensive) surgery. See also http://theswivet.blogspot.com/2009/07/help-writer-aaron-allston-out-with-his.html

For SF author websites click SF author links.

 

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

Autumn 2009

FILM NEWS

RATHER WARM FORTHCOMING FILM TIP
Schrodinger's Girl (2009) is a must-see for hard SF fans of low-budget, independent fantastic films. Directed by Huw Bowen, it has already has successful showings at Cannes in Europe and the N. American San Diego Comic-con at which it was the only Brit independent screened. OK, so it is low-budget and this does show, but nonetheless its content is a cut above much of the polished eye-candy we get from mainstream media. Abigail Tarttelin plays scientists Sarah, Anastasia and Rebecca Hunter, who each experiment with quantum tunnelling in parallel universes remarkably different from each other. Anastasia’s world is a dark, KGB-run dystopia; Sarah’s world, a futuristic heaven; and the world of rebel scientist Rebecca closely resembles our own. Abigail takes on an entirely different character for each role. There have been a few Schrodinger films in recent years: this one relates to the Everett multi-universe hypothesis more than Schrodinger, but is nonetheless entertaining hard SF. See trailer here.

HOT FORTHCOMING FILM TIP
Daybreakers could well be the SF horror film of 2010. It is the year 2019 and a plague has turned many into vampires. The big problem is that the unaffected humans are now being so heavily predated upon by the vampires that they are becoming endangered despite attempts to 'farm' them. One of them (played by Ethan Hawke) is tasked with trying to find a solution but ends up having to save human kind… The trailer was leaked onto the web in the summer and at first the studio tried to block it. However PR value won and now you can see it for yourself. We have a link to it further down with our other short video clips. Daybreakers is due out early in 2010 and also stars Sam Neill and Willem Dafoe. It was made in Australia and the US. +++ If you think you will like Daybreakers then check out the 1999 British mini-series Ultraviolet which is available on DVD.

Hobbit film still under threat with legal trouble for New Line Cinema. As we previously reported New Line are being sued by the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien's publishers and the Tolkien Trust charity, over royalties from the Lord of the Rings films allegedly owed. Now a lawsuit has been filed with the Superior Court of Los Angeles (US) for US$220 million (£136m): reportedly the Lord of the Rings films have grossed US$6 billion (£3.7b): half from box office take and half from DVDs and merchandise. If the case is not soon settled out of court and proceedings begin in court then the 2010 production schedule for the The Hobbit is likely to be suspended. +++ Previously Peter Jackson had his own complaints against New Line and received a settlement at the end of 2007 before he would work on The Hobbit.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine was the early summer box office hit reaching the number 1 spot in Britain as well as N. America. In the UK and Ireland box office it took £6.6m in its first five days on release. In Canada and the US it took US$87m (£58.2m) in its opening weekend. As such it is likely to appear in the next Concatenation top film chart.

Star Trek was the following summer box office hit after X-Men Origins: Wolverine (above) reaching the number 1 spot in Britain as well as N. America. In the UK and Ireland box office it took £5.95 million in its first four days of release. The film has had both popular and fan acclaim. Great re-boot set up: threat from the future creates past alternate-reality branch. Good characterisation. Stupendous effects. Sound multiple references to events, people and things from the past ST series and films. Conversely: weak plot (another – yawn – super threat to Earth, whereas ST should be about overcoming misunderstanding of aliens and cultures cf. Tribbles, Corbomite, Squire of Gothos, Devil in the Dark, etc.), and crap science from mega fauna on an ice world (what did they eat) and Titan way off the ecliptic, to the health and safety aspects of Romulan ship design). Overall it gets the thumbs up from a range of SF authors all the way from Robert Sawyer through to Paul McAuley.

Coraline, the animation of Neil Gaiman's book, comes second to Star Trek early in the summer. It took £2.4 million over the same period as ST above and pushed X-Men Origins: Wolverine into third place in the Great Britain's early summer box office charts. It is a film to check out.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was the BIG mid-summer hit taking £63.7m (US$104m) worldwide the first day it showed in 20 countries! The 6th Harry Potter film launch did predictably very well in the British Isles (UK and Ireland) taking £4.7m (US$7.6m). In N. America (Canada and US) it took £35.7m (US$58.2). Subsequently, over the two-week period since its launch Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince took £33m (US$53.5m) in the British Isles (UK and Ireland). The only other N. American film to come close was the previous month's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen that took £38 (US$62m) during its launch. This makes Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince the most successful British Isles film of the year to date. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was still top of the British Isles (UK & Ireland) cinema charts its third week since its launch. Consequently it is likely to do well when (Easter 2010) we compile the annual Concatenation top 10 film chart.

District 9 has been a big late summer hit in the US. First-time director Neill Blomkamp was undoubtedly helped by his film's producer being Peter (Lord of the Rings) Jackson. The film took US$37m (£22.5m) its mid-August opening weekend in the States and the number one slot in the film box office charts. It concerns a group of aliens who are forced to live in a S. African ghetto under an apartheid system. The New Zealand/South African film starts off looking like it will turn into a clone of Alien Nation (1988) but actually takes a completely different (more exciting?) direction.   We have the trailer lower down in our short film/video clip section here. The film opened in Britain and many European countries early in September just before we posted this page.

Never Let Me Go novel to be a film. A Clarke Award and Booker Award finalist, the story is set in a bleak near future Britain where clones are an organ source. Filming under the directorship of Mark Romanek has begun in London.

Total Recall remake confirmed. Crikey, we are so good to you: we gave you the heads up on this a year and a half ago! Columbia have now affirmed the remake. Kurt (The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)) Wimmer is currently working on a script. The film is of course based on the Philip K. Dick short story ' We Can Remember It for You Wholesale'.

New Ghostbusters film? Well that's the rumour, and apparently the original cast are up for a third outing… (We may confirm it for you in a year's time…)

New Alien film rumoured… Now this is clearly rumour but there are a few floating around and as they say there is no smoke without fire. One rumour is that Sigourney Weaver is up for it: what is known is that she has been talking a fair bit about the franchise recently. Another rumour (and this is a horrible one) is that they want to remake the original film. Finally, there is the rumour that they want to do a film explaining the alien species' origins… For this they had better get an SF author onboard to sort out the story premise and outline: Paul McAuley is the obvious choice as he has the biology. There you have it. Naturally if/when we hear anything we will let you know. +++ STOP PRESS: It appears that Twentieth Century Fox has asked Jon Spaihts to write a prequel and that Ridley Scott (the director of the original film) may possibly be connected.

Predators, the proposed sequel to Predator (not Predator II), being produced and written by Robert Rodriguez is looking for a director. The rumoured candidate of interest is Neil ( Dog Soldiers, The Descent and Doomsday) Marshall!!!! How this will all fit into the Alien – Predator overlap that has sort of spun out of the graphic novels who can say.

A new Barbarella now back on the cards. Yes, it has been over a year now since we reported that Universal Pictures has dropped Robert (Sin City) Rodriguez's proposed remake. Since then apparently the reason Universal dropped Rodriguez was not because of his fiancé, Rose McGowan, being proposed for the lead but because the studio wanted it made in Germany to save money and Rodriguez did not want to work that far from home. Apparently, word has it, that the studio is currently seeking writers for the script…

The Thing re-make not to have Ronald D. (Caprica) Moore as writer. Ronald D. Moore is no longer involved with the proposed big-screen remake of John Carpenter's The Thing which itself – of course – was based on the John W. Campbell short story 'Who Goes There?'. Moore was originally slated to be the script writer as we reported a couple of years ago. +++ Caprica debuts in January.

Buffy The Vampire films wrangling continues. The plan to do a series of three new Buffy films have hit the rocks of development hell. To cut a convoluted story short, Fran and her husband Kaz Kuzui did the first (poor) Buffy film, which though Joss Whedon scripted at the tender age of 19 they apparently changed (and we all know how the first film turned out). They own the rights but it seems as if Joss had more control over the creativity of the successful TV series. Now the Kuzuis want to do three films with a new slayer, but are not going to be joined by Joss…

Finnish fan film Iron Sky gets Euro 800,000 (£470,000) support from the Finnish Film Foundation. Iron Sky has near-professional film qualities despite being the young, semi-pro production team and has as its premise that Germany's Third Reich escaped to the Moon after WWII and then, years later, plan to invade Earth. The young film makers previously made the Babylon V – Star Trek film Star Wreck in 2005. +++ Iron Sky had some promotion at Finncon (see below) +++ Also from the same team, in the scripting stages, is a film adaptation of Risto Isomäki’s novel Sands of Sarasvati (also available as a graphic novel). It is thriller set against the backdrop of serious global warming. The graphic novel has been translated from the Finn into an English edition. Recommended.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

RED HOT FORTHCOMING FILM TIP
1884 is a steampunk animation from Tim Ollive whose work you know from Monty Python and some Terry Gilliam films. Rick (the Klaw) Klaw spotted this neat synopsis test footage before Chris Roberson picked it up, and we now pass it on to you good folk. Have fun. See the film's test footage here. It is a right laugh and great steampunk.

Film clip download tip!: Daybreakers trailer suggest the film will add an SF riff to the vampire theme. – See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: District 9 trailer is out. The film came out in the British Isles this month (September 2009). – See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Lost: 'The Constant'. – a 9 minute clip The season 4 episode of Lost called 'The Constant' was this year nominated for a Hugo Award for 'Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form'. This clip is a taster of the episode. – See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Lost The Season 6 trailer. The trailer for the final (6th) season that will commence shortly is here.

Film clip download tip!: Lost The Season 6 opener. The first two minutes of the season that will commence shortly is here.

Film clip download tip!: Clive Barker British documentary. The first 10 minute segment out of five is here.

Film clip download tip!: Philip K. Dick British documentary. The first 10 minute segment out of six is here.

Film clip download tip!: George Carlin - Saving the Planet Roberto Quaglia has found this clip of the North American comedian who seems to be saying much what our environmental scientist Jonathan has for a few years: Yes, humans are messing the planet up but so what, the planet will survive. Warning – You need to view two thirds of the clip to get the message and the first third does seem not be be environmental. - See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Moon trailer. The film is directed by Duncan Jones and stars Sam Rockwell. Rockwell plays astronaut Sam Bell who is coming to the end of a lonely three-year stint harvesting helium 3 from lunar dust for Earth's fusion plants. Alas it looks as if he has a bit of a computer problem or worse… - See it here.

Short SF film: Homing is a short, 7 minute film which is (only) vaguely inspired by Heroes. It took just 48 hours to make. - See it here.

For a reminder of the top films in 2008/9 (and earlier years) then check out our top Science Fiction Films annual chart. This page is based on the weekly UK box office ratings over the past year up to Easter. You can use this page if you are stuck for ideas hiring a DVD for the weekend.

For a forward look as to film releases of 2009 see our film release diary.

 

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

Autumn 2009

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

New Crichton book to be published by Harper Collins. Michael (Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park) Crichton died last year but left behind the manuscript for a pirate story cum techno-thriller called Pirate Latitudes. Harper Collins is publishing in November and in N. America alone we understand that the print run will be 1 million. +++ Crichton also left behind an unfinished sequel to his biotechnological Next (2006) and this is being worked on.

London's Fantasy Centre bookshop closes with a celebratory party. Further to last time's then forthcoming news of London's Fantasy Centre closure, there was sadness mixed with celebration of nearly 40 years of SF book trading at a party the evening prior to the shop's last day of trading. Ted Ball and Erik Arthur's shop has been one of the most notable trader fixtures in Britain's SF landscape, arguably rivalling Ken Slater's Operation Fantast. The Fantasy Centre was originally opened in 1969 by Ted Ball and Dave Gibson. After ten years it moved to its final location on the Holloway Road. After 20 years Dave Gibson returned to his native Dundee and Erik Arthur replaced him as partner. There are few if any other bookshops in the UK where you can find such an inclusive range of authors' works from those of old – such as Bulmer, Kuttner, Lafferty, (Bob) Shaw and White – through to current writers – such as Ballantyne, Banks, Reynolds, and Stross. It was the sort of shop that you went to with a list of titles you wanted – not so much because you could guarantee that they would be there (sometimes they would not despite the author range) but because there was so much else there that straying from the list led you into serious temptation. What's more Erik and Ted were so knowledgeable and the books easy to find being strictly arranged alphabetically by author (would that other of London's major specialist shops keep their new acquisition sections so navigable (hint)). Britain (London) may have lost a major SF resource but we can rejoice that we had it for so long. The final weeks saw shop visitors from all over the kingdom (including, as Erik said, "south of the river" (Thames)) as well as from mainland Europe (such as from Norway) and further afield (such as the US). It has all been, as Erik again commented, "more of a way of life." – All the best for your retirement Ted and Erik.
+++ Apparently some valuable first edition hardbacks remained unsold. +++ Cold Tonnage and Porcupine Books are among the few remaining alternative (mail order) British Isles sources of second-hand genre books.

The 2,500 Perry Rhodan book has been published! It seems like only yesterday that we reported that the 2,400 novella came out, but it was two years ago which means they are being published around once a week! The anniversary editions have extra special artwork and are larger. The 2,500story is called 'Project Saturn'. The longevity and prolific nature of this German space opera series makes it a true phenomena. +++ See also death of Perry Rohdan author below.

Sony launch new e-book reader. See item within Computer Corner below.

Rog Peyton is to retire properly. Apparently, according to Ansible, Britain's Novacon 39 (2009) will be the last convention at which Rog – as one of the nation's leading SF book sellers – deals book.

On the Origin of Species first edition auctions for £35,000 (US$54,000). It is quite a rarity as not only was it published 150 years ago but just 1,250 copies were printed. Furthermore if you are a scientist strangely it is the first edition you want and not one of the many later ones. Normally scientists go for textbooks' later editions as these have the latest research but in the case of On the origin of Species the later editions are simply filled up with counter arguments to the religious outrage Darwin faced and this dilutes his core message. Having said that it is only in the very last few editions does the phrase 'survival of the fittest' appear. Sold through Norfolk Auctioneers the book went to a local book dealer.

The 'Planet Stories' books of SF reprints sport SF pulp magazine style covers. The line is from North America's Paizo and the old stories reprinted include those by Kuttner, Piers Anthony, and Merritt. They do look rather good.

Edinburgh book festival has science and SF one-day sell outs. SF and science helped make this year's book festival in Edinburgh get a phenomenal reception. The August event saw 50 of the 700 events sell out of tickets the first day the box office opened in June! Among those selling out were events for the Canadian SF novelist Margaret Atwood and also the biologist Richard Dawkins. The event saw a programme featuring 750 authors from 45 countries.

Argentinean writers interviewed thought September. Silvia Hopenhayn will be interviewing a number of SF writers, publishers and critics throughout September as an exploration of contemporary culture. The interviews will be held on Wednesday evenings (19.30 start) and are free at the House of Culture, Rufino de Elizalde 2831, Buenos Aires.

Mexican short course on SF books started. The course being run by the School of Humanities of the Independent University of Mexico, is 12 lectures long and comes with a reading list. Books explored will include those by: Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Cordwainer Smith, Stanislaw Lem and Philip K. Dick.

E-Book Copyright Infringement Portal working The Publishers Association portal launched earlier this year has recorded some 800 illegal uploaded e-books onto the net enabling anyone to freely download them. The PA and their N. American counterparts are also working with Scribd and Wattpad to address the issue. +++ Our regulars may recall that back in the Spring we had to threaten Scribd with legal action to get part of our site duplication removed: contributors' copyright was being infringed.

The Hachette-Amazon dispute is over. Hachette had refused to provide Amazon with the extortionate discount it was demanding and so Amazon restricted Hachette sales. The dispute is now over but the exact details of the deal are being kept confidential. (One presumes that Amazon made this a condition as it does not want other publishers from reducing the discount it gets from them.)

Titan books best growth of major Brit genre publishers. The first half of 2009 saw sales of £3.3m (US$5.3m) up 94.7% on the gist half of the previous year. Titan are one of Britain's major publishers of genre graphic novels. The Watchman film is thought to have been a factor.

Random House turnover up 6% in 2008 over 2007. Its annual turnover was £295 million with an operating profit of £41.5 million. (And don't ask what that is in US$ as the Pound : Dollar has been going up and down like a proverbial yo-yo for much of this year so looking at a cash figure over the entire year is rather meaningless.).

Oxford University Press has had its highest turnover ever and highest profit. The year to March 2009 saw it turnover £578.7 million (up 4.8% on the previous year.

British supermarkets sell one in five UK mass market books Based on Nielsen BookScan data (which excludes things like textbooks) it shows that supermarket (food malls) book sales have grown dramatically from their 6.4% in 2004.

More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in January 2010. Meanwhile check out the forthcoming SF and forthcoming fantasy book lists sections (see the mini-index immediately below…).

 

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

Autumn 2009

TV NEWS

Heroes is top show with unauthorised on-line viewers. This year over 55 million episodes have been downloaded. The next most popular show was also SF – Lost. 47% of download activity is in the US and 4% in the UK. But absolute numbers are growing. Films too are popular downloads with the current number 1 illegal download being Watchmen.

BBC muck up Torchwood scheduling and cut season 3 episodes. Yet viewing numbers were up! Its star is annoyed. Having now moved from BBC2 to BBC1 (the BBC's main channel) due to its success and yet the number of season episodes have been cut from 13 to 5. What is more these were all shown on consecutive days in a single week: contrary to popular myth, SF fans do have social lives away from the TV so exactly why the BBC felt the need to present an entire season in a single week seems plain daft (it also will not endear the BBC schedulers to non-SF viewers). The show's star, John Barrowman said, "But personally, I felt like we were being punished. Other shows move from BBC Three and Two to One and they don't get cut."… Perhaps it is all a ploy to boost sales of the DVD. However whatever the reason the series' viewers were actually up!   Season 2 saw Torchwood attract 2.5 and 4.2 million on BBC 2 but season 3 on BBC1 had a first episode viewing figure of 5.9 million! (Remember the UK has a population of around 61 million.)

Ashes to Ashes returned to BBC but clashed with Heroes.   Concatenation complains (3 times).   BBC ignores… but clash ends… Ashes to Ashes returned with a second series to national terrestrial TV on BBC but at a slot that clashed with the only other prime time terrestrial SF show on the BBC with Heroes on BBC 2. We at Concatenation lodged a complaint; after all Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman of the BBC Trust, says 'Your complaint is important to us'. But alas the online complaint process from the very page with that quote (ahem) did not work. Still not phased (or even stunned) we sent an e-mail. This did not bounce, but neither was there a reply. Of course we played safe and also sent a query to the BBC press office: well we are specialist online press with five figure unique visits a month that downloads six figures worth of pages… What, we asked, was the rationale behind this clash? With three hours of prime time (19.00 – 22.00) 7 days a week on two terrestrial channels, why schedule the BBC's only two prime time SF shows against each other? However we got no response here either. (Surprise.)   Yet does this matter in this crazy universe of ours? Nope, because mysteriously the clash ended... (Rod Serling says 'hi'.)

Ashes to Ashes returned to BBC but clashes with and gets Brit audience of 7 million. This was up from 5.4 million at the end of its first season. +++ Around 1.3 million people watched the BBC's one other current prime time SF show Heroes on BBC 2, which was broadcast at the same time (see above). The BBC schedulers move in mysterious ways… (Rod Serling says 'hi' again.)

Ashes to Ashes season 2 ending was brilliant. Unlike the ending to the (UK original version) Life on Mars (the series from which Ashes followed on) season ending which was a science fantasy cop out, the Ashes to Ashes season ending (though not hard SF) had a neat SFnal twist and a dilemma for the protagonist. Some of you outside of the UK may not have seen this yet.

Ashes to Ashes season 2 DVD now out -- see below.

Red Dwarf three-parter 2009 follow-up is a homage to Blade Runner. This has yet to be broadcast in some nations outside the British Isles, so here is a word of advice, it is great but don't be put off by the weaker first part that sets up the situation for the rest of the trilogy. The final two episodes are a neat homage to Blade Runner and also are very SFnal yet consistent to, and follow on from, the Red Dwarf history to date. The one bit of information you (our non-Brit regulars) do need to know is that Rimmer is played by the actor Craig Charles who also these days appears on a Brit TV series about everyday life called Coronation Street. Enough said.

Primeval cancelled! The Brit show has been dropped by ITV after three seasons. Season 3 saw UK viewing figures fall from 6 million to 5 million. The series concerned the investigation of anomalies – temporary rifts in time that allowed creatures from other eras to appear in the present. The series had an overall story arc that featured greater understanding of the phenomenon including the ability to cross into parallel universes. However the show did not fully commit to SF and was aimed at teenage viewers being shown just before the watershed (the time of night after which adult shows can be broadcast in the UK). Irritatingly the protagonists were all too often poorly equipped (running in to face a dinosaur without a good gun) to deal with monsters given they were an official Governmental task force. Frustratingly the season 3 ended with a bit of a cliff-hanger and many story arc loose ends. All of which begs the question as to whether it is worth investing time in other ITV series if they can be dropped without wrapping up story lines.

Futurama revived! The show's original 72 episodes were first aired between 1999 and 2003 before being axed by Fox. But the popularity of the repeats and the four DVD films has lead to the cable network Comedy Central to commission 26 new episodes. But some of the cast wanted more money… John DiMaggio, Katey Sagal and Billy West were hesitant in agreeing terms. We understand Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille are onboard but if agreement had not been reached with the others then new actors would have been brought in. Fortunately after some negotiation everything got signed and sealed in August. The Futurama animation series concerns pizza delivery boy Philip Fry, who was cryogenically frozen at the end of 1999 before being defrosted in 2999, his love interest Turanga Leela and Bender - a cigar smoking misanthropic robot.

New Dr Who assistant announced. 21-year-old Karen Gillan will star alongside new Time Lord Matt Smith in the new series, to be broadcast next year. She has already appeared in the show having played a soothsayer in 'The Fires Of Pompeii' in the last season. Matt Smith, 26, who will appear as the 11th Doctor in 2010. +++ New Dr Who wardrobe revealed. It is a 1950s – 60s natural science academic look: tweed jacket, trousers with turn-ups and bow tie. You can tell it is a natural science (biology or geology) look as opposed to a physical science (chemistry or physics) due to the (field trip) walking boots. -- See here.

Dr Who and Sarah Jane to get together again. David Tennant is to appear as the Time Lord in Doctor Who children's spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures (SJA). He will appear over two episodes of the current (autumn 2009) 12-part series. The SJA follows the adventures of the investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith - a former Doctor's companion. Sarah Jane is played by actress Elisabeth Sladen, 61, who also played the character in Doctor Who opposite Doctors Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker (1973 –1976).

Dr Who cinema film? That's the rumour. More news when we get it.

Heroes season 4 could return to the atmosphere of season 1. 'Volume Five: Redemption' sees Bryan Fuller return to write for Heroes. He wrote and co-executive-produced Heroes in its first year, and then left to work on his own Pushing Daisies series. Now that that has been cancelled he has returned to Heroesas both a writer and consulting producer. Season 4 starts in N. America a couple of weeks after we post this seasonal news page and will run through to February stopping just before the winter Olympics.

Dark Matter DVD collection reprises spirit of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone. US Dreamscape Studios are a film marketing firm that produces trailers for and provides marketing consulting. They are now producing a series of DVDs. Each has five tales in the vein of The Twilight Zone. For example: the end of the Mayan calendar; choice vs. freewill (delivered via a story about four pulp fiction novel characters stuck in a seedy bar waiting for the writer of their lives to get on with it); privacy and fascism; what happens when time begins to flow in reverse; and the implications of paranoia and self-destruction as experienced by a wounded soldier under the care of his comrades behind enemy lines.   Just as The Twilight Zone was hosted by Rod Serling so Dark Matter series is hosted by George Noory, who is best known in the US as host for Coast to Coast AM, the largest overnight radio show in North America. At the moment we understand that the DVDs are only available by post and in the N. American format (not European PAL). However time will tell whether some channels pick it up. For details see http://www.darkmatterdvds.com.

Caprica, the Battlestar Galactica prequel, debuts in January in N. America. However it better had pick up from the pilot released back in the summer as that was a sort of crossover between Beverly Hills 91210 and Eureka.

 

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

Autumn 2009

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

The 2009 Worldcon – Anticipation has been held in Canada. By Sunday 3,370 had physically attended though 4,353 had paid for registrations (quite a few register early at the cheap or register at the supporting rate to gret the literature and to vote on the Hugos). At it, as reported earlier, the Hugo Awards were presented. The programme, as we reported last year had a litcrit focus together with a part-emphasis on Francophone SF and fantasy. Yet as we got closer to the event there was news of some science and SF programming. At the end of the day there was plenty of good topics explored. Programme items of likely interest to Science & SF Concateneers included:-
(All are panels unless indicated. Items are in French if the title is in French.) La renaissance du space-opéra; Open Science – Workable Goal or Idealistic Fantasy?; Water, Past, Present and Future; Bio-Ethics; What is Consciousness?; The Panopticon Society (the growth of CCTV); First Contact: World-building (workshop); The Future is Artificial, the Future is Intelligent!; First Contact: What will the Neighbours Think? (of us); Toilet Technologies; How to Get to Alpha Centauri; Who Pays for Science?; How to Effectively Talk about Science to Non-Scientists and Why it Matters (talk); First Contact: Extraterrestrial Life; In Space Everyone Can Hear (is non-science dumbing down in films necessary?); The Meeting of Art and Science (illustrators panel); Just how does Creationist Science Work? All About Archaeology; Stump the Scientists!; After Shuttle; What’s new in Astronomy?; What’s New in Outer Space; Getting It Right: Environmental Issues In Science Fiction or Fantasy; Fun With Chemistry: Explosions; Prof. Gail Chmura, Climate Change Specialist (lecture); First Contact: Create and Design Aliens (workshop); The Politics of Science; Geo-engineering to Fight Climate Change; Stargazing (practical); Future Health Care; The Philosophy of Science; David Clements (astronomer and lecture); Climate Change in the Canadian North; Canadian Space Agency Presents: Exploring the Red Planet; Sex Toys of the Future; When the Oil Runs Out; Science for SF Writers; Small Science (nanotech); How Weather Forecasting Works (talk); Piloted Missions to Near-Earth Objects via the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (talk); Is Climate Change Storyable?; Science Blogging – The New Science Journalism?; QI (Quite Interesting); The Future of Sex; The Drake Equation and the Fermi Failure; First Contact: The PRESENTATIONS; The Science of Risk; Hard SF: Is it What You do, or How You do it?; Space Camp; Genetic Engineering Our Offspring; Communiquer la science; Technobabble Quiz; A Century of Atom Smashing; Dealing with Disasters; and Mundane SF vs. Science.
          With over 60 science/hard SF items over five days there was plenty for the science-&-SF enthusiast to attend and so some overlap was inevitable. Having said that some overlap was avoidable, especially one occasion with three science or hard SF items clashing! Scheduling aside (which was not in control of the science programme leaders), hard SF and science got a fair shake at this year's Worldcon and the science programme organisers for this part of the con can now sit back and deservedly relax.
          As for the rest of the programme, as we previously predicted from who was in charge and who was doing what, it was litcrit orientated. The History of Tor panel was a high point. A low point (again as we previously suspected) was the appallingly low-profile given the film programme which (as common with a number of the arguably less-well run Worldcons) did not even make the programme booklet! Other low points included the now disgustingly-all-too-common programme changes: completely unnecessary. (If programme participants cannot be arsed to run their own item to schedule then just cancel it and we will all know where we stand without having to fart-arse around each day of the con with programme re-schedule sheets!) Then there was the access to the parties that was at times a bit fraught and necessitating at one point the brief closure of the lift service. Apparently (at least so one of us has been told) much trouble was caused by a room party press releasing the media inviting the public to a free party. Furthermore the liaison between the committee and the hotel regarding parties could have been better.
          Plus points (aside from the science programme) included the art show, friendly Canadians, the WiFi service, Victoria Banjavcic for her novice fancy dress win (see her dress presentation – as a complaint against game designers – here), and the LA Joute fountain by the Place Jean-Paul Riopelle (which on the hour has a burst of fire but not everyone was impressed). Oh yes, and there were the Hugo Awards.
          WSFS business. Largely very sensible, though reportedly touch and go at times. The Hugo Semi-Prozine category was very decidedly saved though there is a specialist committee established to look at what counts these days as a semi-prozine. The Best Graphic Story ('Graphic Novel' to many of us) category seems to be here to stay by will be ratified by the business meeting in 2012. However if the numbers vote as the have done this year then it should be OK though the nominating round could have seen more involved. Finally the Pete Weston contribution to the Hugos item was ratified and so he gets a very worthy mention in the WSFS constitution: metalworker Peter physically creates the awards each year (but he also did a great job Chairing the 1979 Worldcon which two of us on the core Concat team remember well).
+++ Here is a 2 minute video clip of Canadian TV's news coverage of the 2009 Worldcon. +++ Here are the Worldcon Chairs who were at this year's Anticipation in person in this short clip from the current and past chairs' photo-session.

IF YOU went to the Canadian Worldcon Anticipation then your views on the con are being sought for some bona fide research. It takes 5 minutes – visit http://tinyurl.com/sf-fans.

Australia Worldcon sees Progress Report 1 out. The usual call for volunteers and profile of the Guests of Honour Kim Stanley Robinson (no into needed here), Shaun Tan (Australian artist inc. graphic novels) and Robin Johnson (ex-pat Brit fan and chair first Australian Worldcon). However tucked away we find that the host city Melbourne was this year designated an UNESCO City of Literature (second only to Edinburgh) and that it is hoped that the Worldcon will play a part in marking that status. Also revealed is that the committee plan for the programme to present all aspects of the genre: "books to anime, cinema to fanzines, fantasy to horror, and hard SF to comics." Ambitious and a rare treat as few Worldcons truly seek to embrace all the SF clans. If they realise half their goals it could be a very good programme indeed. However it was not just what was in Progress Report 1, but what was not included that is as much of interest. Australia gave no mention of the deliberate timing of the New Zealand national convention the weekend before the Australia Worldcon. Yet this could be a substantial draw to scores of fans if the news gets around in sufficient time as the added air fare is minimal for those already travelling far (especially from Europe where a round the World ticket costs little more than Australia-return). The last Glasgow Worldcon made much of the timing of the Tolkien convention and next year's World Horror Convention in south England is also timed to be a week in advance of the British National Convention (Odyssey 2010) in London. So why Australia is ignoring the New Zealand synergy in its PR as opposed to bigging it up is a little mystery. Fortunately though there are a few zines and fan sites promoting NZ-Australia synergy in addition to Concatenation; for example there is a short vid clip showing that Cheryl Morgan is up for it. +++ See also a video clip of Australia 2010's co-chair and presentation at the end of the 2009 Worldcon.

 

2011 Worldcon. Reno beat Seattle in winning the vote at this year's (2009) Worldcon (Canada). Its Guests of Honour are to be Tim Powers, Ellen Asher and Boris Vallejo. The late Charles N. Brown is the Ghost of Honour.

Europe for Worldcon 2014… Now this is very early days and is only just a little more than talk… well some work by a preparatory team has been done. Venues have been looked at (including on mainland Europe in the Netherlands) and apparently the hot contenders are either Glasgow or London. However it could well be that there may be an official bid launch in London at the Odyssey2010 Euroconference. (See the afore link for a little more information.)

Japan for Worldcon in 2017. No doubt spurred on by the success of the previous Japanese Worldcon in 2007 (see also the conrep here), the Japanese fans are up for another one in 2017. No details yet but there is plenty of time.

World Horror Convention 2010 has announced that its Special Media Guest is Hammer Film's 'Queen of Horror' the actress Ingrid Pitt. She has, of course, appeared in The Vampire Lovers (1970), Countess Dracula (1970), The House That Dripped Blood (1970), The Wicker Man (1973), Clive Barker's Underworld (aka Transmutations, 1985), Minotaur (2006) and the 'Vampirology' episode on the US Urban Gothic TV series. Her latest credit is a new version of Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart (2009). However her appearance has a commercial edge and she will (as is common with media conventions in the US) be charging for autographs.

World Horror Convention 2010 London tourist deal! If you are not aware of it the 2010 World Horror Con is taking place the weekend before the 4-day UK national SF convention and Euroconference Odyssey 2010. There will be a special fan-organised tourist day for UK visitors the Wednesday between the conventions of Central London. (See the Odyssey 2010 website – the link to which is off our convention listing assuming that you are looking at this page in 2009/10.)

More World Horror Convention 2010 and Odyssey 2010 tourism. If you are going to go to either (or both) convention(s) then you might want to see our tourist article on sights to see in London and Brighton. Travel tips for getting between both the conventions are included.

World Horror Convention 2010 registration rate rise. The advantage of registering early is the low registration rate. The problem with registering late is that the price goes up, and indeed it will on 1st October 2009.

Links to Worldcon websites can be found from the World SF Society on www.wsfs.org.

For links to Worldcon bid websites check out - http://worldcon.org/bids - the Worldcon bid page.

 

Meanwhile over in Europe…

News of the British 2010 Euroconference is in the next section as though it is a European SF Society Euroconference it is not a full Eurocon, but it is also next year's British national convention. See the news here.

The European Science Fiction Convention (Eurocon) in 2011 will be held in Stockholm, Sweden's capital, 17th – 19th June.. The venue is the Royal Institute of Technology students union, a building that has housed several Swedish SF conventions, in central Stockholm only five minutes with the underground from the central station and 30 minutes from the airport. Unlike Denmark's 2007 Eurocon's successful programme of literary, science, films and fan items, and unlike Italy's 2009 media (TV sci fi) heavy Eurocon, Sweden is going for a more focussed literary convention, with three parallel programme streams and a fourth for films. English will be the principal language. It will be a three-day event but importantly there will be an opportunity to gather for an informal warm-up the evening before. It is too early to learn of dead dog, after the convention ends plans but these will no doubt become apparent before folk have to book accommodation and travel. You can register for the con on its website (and if you are reading this before the end of 2011 you can find the link on our con diary page, but it will also be possible to become a member at many Scandinavian conventions, UK Eastercons, Eurocon 2010 and Worldcon next year.

Links to Eurocon websites can be found from the European SF Society on www.esfs.info.

For a list of national and major conventions, check out our convention diary.

 

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

Autumn 2009

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

LX British Eastercon (natcon) numbers were down but deemed successful by all reports. LX – the 2009 British Eastercon and national convention – did surprisingly well given that they had much against them: it was a change of pace and a very different event to last year's Orbital in London. Last year's gathering was all-inclusive and aimed to cater for SF cinematic, book and TV enthusiasts and was held within easy reach of those who live in and around the capital. This year's gathering had a decided book focus, was held in Bradford away from the town centre, and had accommodation for many a bus ride away from the con venue. Not surprisingly numbers were down by almost 40% with 787 attending: indeed some 68 (8%) who had paid good money for advance registration decided not to go. Now this may seem bad and indeed in part this could be attributable to the committee's progress reports' tone (as it was already clear in advance as to where the event would be held so location would not have put paying advance registrants off). Having said this for the most part between 2002 and 2007 Eastercon attendance has been around the 500 mark with just 2006 being getting on for 850. So the previous 2007 Orbital with 1,300 was an achievement going back to Eastercon's roots of openness to all Brit SF clans combined with location, so this year's change of pace was just that, a change of pace and as such 787 warm bodies attending was clearly respectable.
          As for the event itself, the split site meant that nothing really happened on Thursday or late on Monday with much of the programming crammed into the day time between Friday and Sunday. Yet given that people had to get to and from the site, given the reduced numbers and given the con's focus, it worked: people who went knew what they were in for and had, by all the (several) accounts we have received, a great time. The LX Fan GoH seemed to sum it up for the others who sent us comment: 'As fan GoHs Mary and I had a very good time, but it would have been an excellent con by any standards.' So congratulations to the committee, meanwhile for the rest of us it is time to change gear again for next year's Euroconference Odyssey 2010 which could well be a far bigger bash bringing together more of Britain's SF tribes and, indeed, being a Euroconference we might see some from mainland Europe attend.

British national con fanzine. LX (the 2009 UK national convention) and Orbital (the 2008 national convention) joint souvenir fanzine has come out. Orbital on the day was a very well run convention with a sound programme, however a year on and the committee had failed to produce the souvenir programme booklet as a post-convention fanzine!   Though compared to organising the convention this is not so important, it does add fuel to the debate as to the wisdom of this practice of producing something after the event rather than a souvenir book on the day that details the Guest of Honours' works and features retrospective summary on the various British SF clans' year represented at the annual gathering. (The thousand pound cost of posting and packing a fanzine after the event compared to giving out a proper programme book at the convention at zero distribution cost is simply an additional reason to give serious pause.)   However after nearly a year and a half the Easter 2008 Orbital souvenir fanzine did finally appear albeit tacked on to the 2009 LX fanzine.   It was quickly obvious that there was little in the Orbital portion: indeed the membership list was almost bigger than the rest of the material. The boggle-eyed article on caring for the GoH was not nearly as informative for future conrunners as, say, the Brunner one was in Conrunner a couple of decades ago. Having said that, the article on organising the music strand to LX, and its concert, is a must-read for anyone organising a similar themed programme at another con.   Indeed the larger LX portion of the joint fanzine had three items of particular fan interest. Fan GoHs Bill and Mary Burns – veterans of over five decades of Eastercons – gave whistle-stop flash snippets on each. Then elsewhere Peter Weston and Mark Plummer gave a longer history of the same. Clearly they could not cover everything and what they did was of historical value. Nonetheless – as they say history goes to the victors – there was no mention at all of the Eastercon-Elydore split for a few years: when a fifth of your convention ups and forms a rival one it should arguably really have been noted, especially if lessons are to be learned and when these days Eastercon fans are still debating the merit of a media and film programme as well as attracting younger British fans (the cause of the split). All of which made another article on just this topic somewhat ironic for those with long memories Eastercon and a knowledge of Brit Fandom beyond this annual convention.   (The article's bottom line should have been clear: that media and cinematic SF has a big following; that not all films (especially overseas) are quick to either appear on TV or get a DVD let alone a British cinematic release; and so are worthy of Eastercon programme inclusion. Of course because they are over most people's horizon you need to be a real SF film buff to know what is there. Several of such films, each shown twice during an Eastercon (to avoid programme competition), in one of the smaller/medium-sized halls is what is required, crucially together with the film schedule appearing as part of the printed programme! Enough said.)   In short much of the publication appeared to be an expensive triumph of style over substance despite the all too occasional gem. Speaking of gems, there was one hugely entertaining article (that could not have appeared in any programme book given out on the day), the absolutely hilarious, Kim Newman and Paul McAuley text of their hosting of the BSFA awards ceremony. Fantastic stuff.

Conjecture, the 48th Australian national SF convention was held in Adelaide in June. Around 185 attended the triple stream programme event: there were two main programme streams and a children's stream that was popular with kids of many ages. The Maskabolo party on the Saturday night was enthusiastically attended, Professor Barry Brook's talk 'Climate, Energy and Geo-Engineering' on Sunday, and the life-sized paper-mache SF characters that Steve Scholz produced and which were lining the foyer were also all big hits. The con saw three book launches: a steampunk novel called Worldshaker by Richard Harland; a sword and sorcery The Whorl and the Pallin by Ian Nichols; and a present-day science fantasy detective thriller Horn by Peter M. Ball. The science educator's workshop, 'The Universe is Made of Stories', that Canadian GoH Julie Czerneda ran, was also popular and of interest to science fact and fiction Concateneers: it looked at how to engage pupils in science using SF. The Worldcon was, of course, a topic of much discussion, and one of the Fan Guests of Honour, Catherine Scholz, was snapped up to be its Masquerade Director. +++ The Ditmar Awards were as usual presented.

Australian national conventions 2011 and 2012. With the WorldCon happening in 2010, the Australian NatCon will that year be part of that event. It might be called, DudCon 3 and will consist of a business meeting, the Ditmar Awards, and possibly a BBQ. After that, the NatCon moves to Perth for SwanCon 36. The SwanCons have a reputation for excellence and it should be a wonderful event. This last is arguably more important than usual as 2011 will be the fiftieth Australian national convention.

Conscription 2009 was New Zealand's 30th national SF convention. It was held in a hotel by Auckland airport. The Guests of Honour were Julie E. Czerneda the Canadian author, the NZ writer Russell Kirkpatrick, Nalini Singh (the litcrit GoH), and Fan Guest Robbie Matthews, the editor of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Julie Czerneda of course was sharing her GoH duties (hence travel costs) with Australia's natcon the following weekend (see item earlier), but some of the NZ arguably got the most out of her as she ran a writers workshop over three days prior to the con. The programme itself consisted of mainly two – but sometimes three – parallel streams with Julie Czerneda being heavily involved. A special mention must be made for running a film festival from midnight to breakfast on the con's two principal days. (This might prove very handy next year with some jet-lagged visitors.) The con highlight as usual was the convention dinner after which there was the presentation of the Sir Julius Vogel Awards. All in all the con went off very well.

Au Contraire 2010 will be New Zealand's 31st national convention. As we have mentioned a year ago (we do tell you early), New Zealand's 2010 natcon will be held the weekend before the Australian Worldcon. This is not coincidence but an old favourite of timing cons to be near one another in space and time just as was the Tolkien convention near the Glasgow 2006 Worldcon, or the 2010 World Horror Convention being down the road from, and the weekend before, Britain's 2010 natcon and combined Euroconference. The 2010 New Zealand national con is being held in Wellington. This means for that visitors – flying to Australasia for the Worldcon taking the further short hop the previous weekend for the New Zealand natcon – will have to travel from Auckland (where the NZ's international airport is located) to Wellington and here it is a toss up between train (you get to see the NZ countryside but it is 12 hours on top of a lengthy inter-hemisphere flight) and the plane (quick). Of course there is plenty to see in New Zealand as we hinted last season, and as we promised this time we have a more detailed stand-alone introduction to Wellington and New Zealand.
          Our preliminary investigations indicate that a flight from Europe to Auckland, return to Wellington, then Auckland to Melbourne, and finally Melbourne to Europe will cost under £1,100 if booked this autumn (2009) which works out at less than a bob a mile (£0.05p).

Sci-Fi London 2009 (SFL). London's 8th annual SF film fests branched out to books and science. Yet despite the economic recession this year's numbers were up! SFL was again held in the Apollo Cinema, Piccadilly, in downtown London's 'West End' seemingly an age ago now right at the beginning of the summer on the May Bank Holiday. This year the organisers decided to branch out into book SF and science, in addition to the core programme of films. Many of these were either UK, European or World premieres from a range of countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, as well as Great Britain and the USA: once more this year's fest had an international feel.
          The 5-day event opened with the Arthur C. Clarke Award presentation: that is to say the SF novel Clarke award and not the space award Clarke. Some note must go to Britian's greatest SF publisher Gollancz who published three out of the six short-listed titles.
          This year's SFL itself proceeded with twin parallel programme streams beginning with the World premiere of Eyeborgs (directed by Richard Clabaugh). Appropriately this film, of futuristic high-tech, state surveillance, reflected this year's Fest's added book dimension as it (2009) was the 60th anniversary of George Orwell's classic SF novel 1984 as well as being the 25th anniversary of 1984. The added book dimension consisted of a series of panels that included authors as well as graphic novel writers. Among those writers appearing were: Joe Abercrombie, Tony Ballantyne, Pat Cadigan, Paul Cornell, Jaine Fenn, Dirk Maggs, China Mieville, Robert Rankin, Charles Stross, Bryan Talbot, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Karen Travis, Liz Williams, and Chris Wooding. Topics included: writing, comics as SF literature, the rise of steampunk (which was popular), robots and reality, the new heroic fantasy, comedy (which was also popular), contemporary urban fantasy, and women writing. There were also several science panels. Scientists and technologists cited on the programme included: David Ashford, George Attard, Mark Brake, Lewis Dartnell, David Kipping, Marek Kukula, Rich Walker, and (one of Concatenation's two biologists) Jonathan Cowie. Subjects included: alien biology, artificial life, space colonization, robotics, and dystopian threats.
          Despite the dystopian panel (which actually came out being optimistic as far as the end of the World was concerned even if we may be in for a bumpy ride), and despite the global economic recession, over 5,000 event tickets were sold: folk pay a small amount to attend a programme item rather than a large overall event-registration fee. Given that some attended more than one item, it is likely that the fest's overall attendance for one or more items exceed 2,000. Ever popular was the free pub quiz which the principal organiser, the sleep-deprived Louis Savy, only devised the previous day midway through the Fest. The winner of the short SF 48 hour film challenge (to create a film on a given theme and including set lines of dialogue) was Tracker directed by Matthew McGuchan with the joint second place to going to the films Mark Up and Glimpse.
          The added book and science dimensions were deemed a success and Louis Savy says he will definitely include these at next year's event. That gathering will be held in April 2010 a few weeks after the London-based SF Euroconference and national convention Odyssey2010 which itself is one week after the World Horror convention down the road in Brighton.

France's national convention, Bellaing 2009, saw around a hundred gather for a single programme stream 3-day event and held in a small rural village. It was France's 36th natcon. Guests included the writers Elisabeth Vonarburg and Xavier Mauméjean as well as Belgium's Alain le Bussy. Other guests included the university lecturer Irène Langlet and the translator and editor Jean-Luc Blary. This year there was a bit of an Arab SF theme with two Arab SF writer guests. (We previously have elsewhere on this site an article on the first Arab SF con. 2009 has apparently been a good year for Arabian SF especially with the launch of a major Arab SF prize – see earlier.) In addition to the opening ceremony, that saw a welcome by the Mayor of Bellaing, highlights included a trip to a nearby mine which complemented a programme item on terraforming. Other highlights included a barbecue and the presentation of this year's Prix Rosny-aîné. There were also film screenings. On the business front it was decided to hold the 2011 natcon in Tillf, Belgium, the home town of the Eurocon award-winning (Best European Promoter) author Alain Le Bussy. (Being the French natcon it would be remiss of us if it were not mentioned that the Château Lestage Simon, Haut Medoc 1995, was well received.)

Finncon was held in Helsinki and was most likely the biggest SF event in northern Europe with over 7,000 attending. (Utopiales in western Europe France gets more.) Finland's national convention ran from early Friday afternoon to late Sunday afternoon followed by that evening a dead reindeer party. Attendances were 3,000 on Friday, 7,000 on Saturday and 5,000 on Sunday (assuming that some turned up only on the Friday or Sunday means that total numbers must have exceeded Saturday's 7,000). The event was run jointly with an anime con and the organisers estimated that 2/3's of the visitors were there for anime side of the event and 1/3 for the SF. There were half a dozen full parallel streams together with a couple of others of occasional fringe items. Obviously most items were in Finnish but there was at least something in English nearly all the time. Of note to scientist fans was the panel the 'Science in SF', the panel could've could have gone on for several hours more, spirits were high and the audience enthusiastic. Indeed considering that this was a Friday item, the turnout was tremendous, as there were no seats available in the room.   Causing a small a stir at the con was news that some time ago – well prior to the convention – one of the Guests of Honour Alastair Reynolds (reportedly somewhat under the influence) agreed to have one of his unpublished stories translated into Finnish and then to destroy the English MS. This story, 'Pandoran lipas' ['Pandora’s Box'], appeared in the Finnish semi-prozine Tähtivaeltaja zine the week before the convention. Tough luck the rest of us English-speakers, this one escaped.   The convention also so some promotion for the forthcoming film Iron Sky (see the earlier films news item). A zine was circulated in the form of a newspaper with articles that included the rumour that Nazi's had survived the end of World War II in a Lunar base. See here.
          As always, the con (or the appropriate parties) gave out several literary prizes: The Atorox Award(for the best Finnish SF/F short story of the year, voted by the Finnish sf-societies and given by the Turku SF Association) went to Mari Saario; Nova Award (a writing competition arranged in co-operation by the Finnish SF Writers Association) and the Noviisi (for 13-17 years old writers, also by FSFA). Then there was the Tähtifantasia Award for the best translated fantasy novel of the year, awarded by a jury and given by the Helsinki SF Association) to Ellen Kushner and Thomas the Rhymer [Thomas Riiminiekka] translated by Johanna Vainikainen-Uusitalo. More information can be found in Partial recall.
          The organisers are very pleased with: the way programming was received; the GoHs; the press coverage which was huge (most, if not all major newspapers with proper articles, some daily!) and Finncon was on all major broadcast news including some magazine shows as well. The dealers/vendors were also very happy with their trade.

Estonia's Estcon was the biggest in its 12-year history with 64 attending. It took place in Taevaskoja house. Similar to what is in effect Romania's national convention, much of Estcon took place outdoors. The programme included: authors' readings; a weapons demonstration; a Finncon report illustrated with pictures; and a talk about SF, reality and current Estonian society. In addtion there was a quiz and some films were screened. The Stalker Awards were also presented.

Polcon -- Poland's national convention -- saw about a thousand attend a four parallel programme stream event. Streams related to Star Wars, litcrit, comics and role-playing games (RPG). We are told apparently that RPG and Star Wars are big in Polish fandom.

Odyssey 2010, the 4-day UK national convention and Euroconference (scheduled at Easter one week after the 2010 World Horror Convention) is beginning to attract mainland European registrants and in particular Scandinavians. The 4 (or possibly five) parallel stream programme is beginning to take shape. Among the many items planned, Ben (Bad Science) Goldacre (whose reports Concat regularly covers) has agreed to be one of science stream speakers (as has one of the Concat team) and Dr Who writer Paul Cornell will be giving a talk on Kate Bush as a fantasy writer.   Of course, in addition to the parallel programme streams over the four days, there will also be a fancy dress parade, a sizeable dealers room, and an art exhibition, not to mention usual stuff such as trying to predict the Clarke SF award and the presentation of the BSFA Awards. The hotel itself also has three bars, one of which has many tables for socialising and there will be cheap snack meals as well as more substantial fare in the restaurants. Of conrunner note we understand that there will be a significant announcement at Odyssey about the forthcoming British Worldcon bid for 2014 – Glasgow is a proven venue but its managers seem to be a little complacent assuming we will return there a third time and offer nothing new. The new facilities in London post Olympics (and seeking use) make that a possibility (though as the bid needs be promoted in 2011 it will not be possible to ascertain a post-London Olympic perspective). A Netherlands option is also being considered but the facilities might not be big enough. Either way maninland European fans will want to contribute to the discussion at Odyssey2010 and see how their respective nations might take part. +++ Odyssey 2010 discussion group launched. The 2010 Odyssey group in on Yahoo. It is a closed group. You need to be a member of Odyssey and ask them to join to be invited. Odyssey_2010-owner[-at-]yahoogroups[dot]com. +++ London tourism before the convention (which is also just after the World Horror Convention) will be supported by fans acting as guides for a walkabout central London and a river Thames cruise the Wednesday before the Odyssey convention (which is also the Wednesday after the World Horror Con). Meanwhile there is an article elsewhere on this site as to how to get from London's airports to and from both the World Horror Convention (Brighton) and Odyssey 2010 (London) as well as to some tourist sites in London from the Odyssey 2010 hotel. See London 'must see' article.

The Transatlantic Fan Fund (TAFF) winner has been announced and the trip completed. Steve Green from England made the west-bound trip to this year's Canadian Worldcon. Steve is a Midlands-based British fan who has been on the Novacon committee, a Critical Wave fanzine editor, and a judge for some of the Festival of Fantastic Films (Manchester) Delta film competition awards.

The Down Under Fan Fund (DUFF) winner has been announced and the trip completed. Emma Hawkes made the east-bound (from Australia) trip to this year's Canadian Worldcon. Emma is a Western Australia based fan who has been on a couple of WA con committees as well as being co-editor of Australia's first feminist SF fanzine. Previously she was a National Australian Fan Fund (NAFF) delegate in 2002.

Hertfordshire University's SF society, PSIFA, held the second of its 30th anniversary gatherings. This time there were few of the current students as finals had just finished and many had gone home. However a dozen or so from various generations of former members spanning 30 years turned up. There is a report elsewhere on the site.

SF fan on Trafalgar Square plinth. Twice Hugo-nominated SF artist and fan Sue Mason had an hour session on the Trafalgar Square plinth the first Thursday in September (the London SF Circle night). She told fannish stories to the passing public and London tourists just as she does at Eastercon masquarade gaps (when the judging takes place). +++ Then later that day, after Sue left the plinth, another person with an hour session on the plinth to off their clothes as part of a naturalist demonstration. Fortunately...

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

 

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

Autumn 2009

NET WATCH

A Science Fiction and Fantasy Enthusiasts website has been launched (www.sciencefictionandfantasyenthusiasts.com). It aims – we are told – is to celebrate all that is positive in genre fiction, to make an enthusiastic stand, to do what is right and leave cynicism and negativity at the door, to concentrate on what makes us smile, what entertains us, and what brings light and joy to our SF, fantasy and horror worlds. That's not to say there is no place for criticism – there's plenty bad in the World. However, this little digital corner aspires to be a place for positive progression. Somewhere you will (hopefully) come if you want to smile and be entertained… Concat' was asked for a contributory article and Jonathan stepped up to the plate with a piece providing counters to those that argue that SF is puerile, childish escapism of little value.

fannewsdenmark.blogspot.com is a new Danish blog of SF news. Unlike other Danish blogs, this one is in English and so a boon to us Anglophones. So far the news summary has been good covering the range of SFnal news from that of Danish pros through to fanac relating to books, films and comics. One definitely to visit. +++ If you want an insight into the country's genre books then see our article on (fairly) recent Danish science fiction books. (News update February 2010 -- fannewsdenmark.blogspot.com site no longer exists which is why we deactivated the link.)

The SF Writers of America website has had a makeover. It looks a lot cleaner and more navigable. See www.sfwa.org.

E-Fanzines to close! (Don't panic Bill Burns...) eFanzines.com.br based in Brazil is closing says webmaster Marco Bourguignon. But he will keep the site up and, he says, may return to it when and/or if he has more time to spare.

The US author Michael Bishop reads his short story 'Vinegar Peace' on StarshipSofa podcast. The story is particularly touching because Michael lost his son in the Virginia Tech shooting.

Vonda N. McIntyre's Dreamsnake (1978) is now available on BookViewCafe.com. Which is rather a surprise as BookViewCafe was formed in November 2008 as a way to offer via the internet work that is out of print, experimental, or not yet published. The surprise being that Dreamsnake has won the Hugo, the Locus Award, and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers' Award and even the Nebula Award, so why on Earth is it out of print? The novel concerns woman in a devastated future world. Linked to her healer snake through genetic imprinting, she struggles through a destructively superstitious, post-holocaust world. When her snake is lost amid the primitive desolation, she must search for a replacement through the dangerous environment… Because it won both the fan-voted Hugo and fan voted Locus awards it is listed in Essential Science Fiction. +++ A new author joined BookViewCafe each month over the summer. The additions were: Alma Alexander, Jane Yolen, Rachel Caine, and Judith Tarr.

New search engine launched, may rival Google… Wolfram Alpha is called a computation 'knowledge engine' rather than a 'search engine'. It gives direct answers to queries rather than provide link lists to other sites where they may find what they are seeking. Instead it provides annotated pages of data. For example, if asked about the weather in Manchester it would present a graph of average temperatures, rainfall and other relevant data. It was invented by British-born physicist Stephen Wolfram and developed at Harvard University, US.

Tangent comes back after hiatus. We reported last season that the site specialising in reviewing SF short stories nearly closed. Dave Truesdale announced its return at the end of June.

3D Realms has closed. The computer games firm was famous for popularising shareware gaming and its popular Duke Nukem and Wolfenstein games.

Barack Obama announces US cyber defence. From now on that protecting America's digital infrastructure, the networks and computers everyone depended on every day, would be 'a national security priority'. In 2007 the Pentagon reported nearly 44,000 incidents of what it called malicious cyber activity carried out by foreign militaries, intelligence agencies and individual hackers..

First jail sentence for cyber-bullying. Keeley Houghton (18 years of Malvern, Britain) posted a death threat against Emily Moore on Facebook. She had first claimed she wrote it late one night when drunk but internet records show she posted it at 4pm. The court was told she had two previous convictions concerning Moore: assaulting her after school in 2005 and in 2007 causing criminal damage to her front door. Unemployed Houghton was sentenced to 3 months in a Young Offenders' Institution and has a restraining order from approaching Moore.

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

Sony has launched a new e-book reader – called the Reader Daily Edition. At £250 (US$400) the reader is £60 more expensive than Amazon's Kindle (launched 2007), but it does have a 7 inch (18cm) touch screen and can store up to 1,000 novels from a million currently available in the reader's format.

Europeans website visits and summary details of e-mails and phone calls are now being logged by telecom companies and internet service providers (ISPs). Shades of 1984 this is a result of an European Union (EU) directive drawn up after the 2005 London bombings. The summary details of calls and e-mails do not include content just the sender and recipient's address and date. The idea is to see who is looking at what and talking to whom. The data is stored for a year and the authorities can access it with a warrant. It was passed by politicians because it was deemed a commercial directive requiring only a simple majority as opposed to a policing matter which requires unanimity. However it is not being applied across all of Europe as Germany is challenging it in the courts and Sweden is ignoring the directive. Critics say that one problem with the directive is that it is not just the police that can access these records but hundreds of public bodies. In the UK of Great Britain the access to communications data is governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000) which tries to ensure that effective safeguards are in place so that data can only be accessed when it is deemed both necessary and proportionate.

Intel has been fined a record Euros 1.06bn (£948m, US$1.45bn) by the European Commission for anti-competitive practices. Between 2002 and 2007 the EC says Intel paid manufacturers and a retailer to favour its chips rather than those of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). This compares with the EC fining Microsoft Euro 497m in 2004 for abusing its dominant market position. In 2009 Intel made 80.5% of the microprocessors in PCs, while AMD made 12% of them.

 

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

Autumn 2009

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

A new element number 112 has been created. The discoverers are a team of German scientists led by Sigurd Hofmann at the Centre for Heavy Ion Research. They must now propose a name for their find, before it can be formally added to the periodic table. – Details here.

Tunguska explosion due to icy comet, space shuttle evidence indicates. Noctilucent clouds (high stratospheric) were seen in the N. hemisphere after the Tunguska event. Such clouds are found at the poles and have been noticed after shuttle launches. Yet until now it was unclear how just 300 tonnes of shuttle exhaust water vapour could spread so far and fast. Now research in the journal Geophysical Research Letters suggests that the Earth's magnetic field both constrains the water at a certain altitude while also facilitating very fast distribution within this thin layer. This suggests that the Tunguska Siberian event was caused by a comet exploding. Comets being very dirty snowballs contain much ice. If the Tunguska body was a comet then it could have injected water vapour as it ablated in the atmosphere before becoming a giant, super heated steam bomb. – More detail here.

Fusion research delayed and has become more costly yet again! This summer the ITER council reps from all 7 members (European Union, Japan, S. Korea, Russia, US, China and India) met to try and sort matters out. Their plan is due to be approved at a meeting this November. Last year (2008) it was revealed that the first experiments capable of validating fusion would not be conducted until 2025 which was five years latter than in the ITER agreement signed in just 2006! Part of the problem is the way materials for the reactor are provided by the contributing countries and not sourced the ITER team on site. Also these experiments will not be as ambitious as physicists originally wanted. The politics is plain daft: at the moment the ITER science team cannot even go onto the cleared land where the reactor will be sited without an escort from the French Atomic Energy Commission. Of course fusion has been dogged with funding and political problems since the 1980s so that past research plans never stood a chance of proceeding as scheduled: for example the US Magnetic Fusion Act 1980 that was meant to see a demonstration plant by 2000 had had about a third of its funding delivered by that date. Contrary to uninformed belief it is politics, and not the science, that has delayed fusion, and yet the World desperately needs a new non-fossil fuel source of energy.

Earliest musical instrument found. Three ivory (bone ribs) flutes have been found from a site in south west Germany. They date from more than 35,000 years old (possibly about 40,000 years) and so were at close to the height (or depths) of the last ice age (glacial). Each flute has holes that can be covered to change the instrument's pitch. It therefore seems that music accompanied the visual arts in the area. It could be that the first fantasy tales were therefore oral with a musical accompaniment.

 

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

Autumn 2009

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

British astronauts honoured by the British Interplanetary Society. - Helen Sharman, Richard Garriott, Michael Foale, Nicholas Patrick and Piers Sellers are all getting commemorative pins from the society.

Europe announces its astronauts. The European Space Agency has announced the team of astronauts it will be training. Initially after three and a half years some will go to the space station but it is conceivable that a few might even get to the Moon. The team consists of: the Brit Timothy Peake, Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, Italians Samantha Cristoforetti and Luca Parmitano, Germany's Alexander Gerst, Denmark's Andreas Mogensen and Ms Cristoforetti.   The Brit, Timothy Peake, is a 37 year old army test pilot. Successive British governments have considered human space flight an expensive distraction, preferring to fund robotic exploration instead. "I hope it will now encourage the British government to contribute," said Jean Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director-General.

UK space sector set to double over decade! Currently worth £6.5 billion (US$10.4 billion) a report from Oxford economics suggests that it should grow by around 5% a year to £14.2 billion! Government investment in space is currently only £270 million a year. ESA has just opened a technical centre near Oxford.

Russia plans to detach and continue with its parts of the International Space Station when it is decommissioned (between 2015 and 2020). Russian modules will form the core of an orbital outpost which would serve as a staging base for possible deep-space ventures to the Moon, Mars and asteroids.

The World's first purpose-built commercial spaceport sees construction start in New Mexico, US. Costing £121m (US$200m), it has a 10,000 foot (3,000 m) runway. It will be the home of commercial ventures such as Virgin Galactic as well as some Government-run ventures. Its location was in no small part determined by it being remote from major settlements; its neighbour is the White Sands Missile Testing Range. Another advantage is that the area has 350 days sun a year.

The most Earth-like yet planet is found in the Gliese 581 system 20.5 light years away. Discovered shortly after Easter it is the third Earth-like world found in the system according to previous press releases, though with retrospect it now seems the earlier ones are not really Earth-like at all and this one is so close to the system's sun that it will be too hot.   Gliese's first 'Earth-like' planet was discovered in 2005 but was not really that Earth-like being 7.5 times the mass of the Earth and also close to the sun and so has an estimated surface temperature of about 200°C.   The second (so-called) Earth-like planet around Gliese 581 was discovered in 2007 and is only 5 times Earth's mass (50% bigger diameter). Though close to its sun with an orbit of just 13 days, Gliese 581 is so cool that water may be on this planet's surface.   Now this latest Earth-like planet discovered is closest to Earth in size being just 1.9 Earth masses but with an orbital period of just 3.15 days, it is so close to Gliese 581 that is would be way too hot for life.

Changing phases of extrasolar planet detected 400 years on after Galileo used a telescope to detect Venus' changing phases. The Convection, Rotation, Planetary Transit (CoRoT) satellite has detected a gradual brightening and dimming of a target star that suggests that it is being orbited by a planet with changing phases from full through crescent to 'new'. (See Nature, vol. 459, pp543-545). What is more there is a short, sharp dip around the peak that suggests that the planet is eclipsed by its star, and also a short sharp dip around the trough in the star's waxing and waning brightness which suggests that the star is in transit across the star: in short that we are seeing this planetary system edge on through its ecliptic.   This brightening and dimming is different from the star wobble way (by discerning the star's Doppler changes) of elucidating the presence of orbiting planets (that gravitationally affect their stars). The size and (red channel) spectrum region of this waxing and waning effect suggests that the planet is a large hot gas giant. +++ This detection of changing phases of an extra solar planet comes on the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescopic observation of Venus' changing phases.

Small star has planet! There are big implications The discovery of a gas giant orbiting the small star VB10b 20 light years away, is 1/12th the mass of the Sun and the gas giant is about as far away as Jupiter is to our Sun. The gas giant was detected by the star's wobble but not using the Doppler effect (see previous item) but the physical wobble against the backdrop of stars (astrometry): this is the first time an exoplanet has been found this way. As around 7 out of 10 stars in our part of the galaxy are small, it could possibly mean that planets are common.

More organic space molecules found. The two new molecules – ethyl formate and n-propyl cyanide – were found in a hot, dense cloud of gas in the area of as Sagittarius B2 which contains a luminous newly formed star. They represent two different classes of molecule: the esters and alkyl cyanides and are in addition to alcohols, aldehydes, and acids previously discovered. As such molecules are necessary for life it bodes well for the chances of extraterrestrial life. +++ Last year sugar precursors were found.

More scanning microscope pictures of atomic structures. The latest pics (published in Science) are effectively of a carbon nanotube fragment: pentacene. The scanning scope used is an atomic force microscope (AFM) – see here.

Galactic black holes get bigger. Well actually they are the same size but now thought to be two to three times larger. A re-assessment of the black hole at the centre of galaxy M87 (55 million light years from Earth) means that it could have as much mass as 6.4 billion Suns. If black holes of other galaxies are re-assessed and similarly found to be bigger then problems such as quasar brilliance go away. (Quasars being compact, bright, distant (hence early universe) galaxies.) – More details here.

 

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

Autumn 2009

NATURAL SCIENCE

Clone camel birth marks the beginning of the summer. The World's first camel clone was born in Dubai. He is called 'Injaz' which means 'achievement' in Arabic. Camels join sheep, mice, cows, pigs and dogs as animals cloned.

Swine flu pandemic worries World – Move over avian flu. While avian flu (of the type H5N1) is still a concern the new swine flu cases, that began appearing at the summer's start, are the current top concern as an autumnal pandemic may be on the way. Both avian and swine flu are created by human and bird flu viruses merging in pigs. If the merged virus goes on to infect other birds it is avian flu. Alternatively if it goes on to infect pigs it is swine flu. If either of these then affect humans then head for the plains – not the hills (hot dry environments with people widely separated in airy homes are better to reduce transmission than cold wet environments in which people huddle together in sealed homes).   The latest swine flu is of the type H1N1 that is similar to the usual human flu: it is the H1 that relates to the type of hemagglutinin protein on the virus' surface that is of particular worry.   Because most of the human population is in the northern hemisphere, a possible pandemic this winter is the worry. For this reason the virus was genetically sequenced over the summer and governments stocked up on antivirals. By the time you read this we will know how serious or not this outbreak is. But whatever its potency, with the human population growing and also becoming increasingly mobile, it is only a matter of time before we face a really serious pandemic of the 1918 proportions or greater: back then some 50% of the World's population became infected with 40 – 50 million dying. Concatenation has had a global pandemic as one of its longstanding New Year predictions for some time now. Even if this turns out to be a mild strain we need a proper dress rehearsal.

Women do fight disease better than men throwing light on so-called 'man flu'. Canadian research shows that oestrogen blocks the enzyme Caspase-12 which reduces inflammatory response, an early line of defence against infection. With Caspase-12 blocked the inflammatory response is greater and disease fought more effectively. The human Caspase-12 gene was implanted by the researchers into mice, but only the males became more prone to infection. The researchers concluded that oestrogen produced by the female mice blocked the expression of the human Caspase-12 gene. Researcher Dr Maya Saleh said: "These results demonstrate that women have a more powerful inflammatory response than men." The work was written up in the N. American journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Identified genes help rice survive floods. Rice productivity has doubled since the 1960s but a further doubling is needed by 2050 to avoid famine. However if rice is completely submerged for several days it dies. Poor water control and extreme weather events (more common or unpredictable with climate change) leads to crop loss in high-yielding varieties. 3 genes have been identified in low-yield wild rice that enable it to grow in inundated at an incredible 25 cm per day (albeit at the expense of part of the grain yield) and survive submergence for up to 15 days. Japanese researchers have bred two of these genes (called SNORKEL 1 & 2) into a high-yield Japanese strain of rice. Though in the event of extreme flooding yields will be lower, this will be far better than losing the entire crop.

Scots origins begin to be illuminated by DNA. DNA research from Edinburgh University on residents of the Scottish isles of Islay, Lewis, Skye and Harris suggest an influx from Ireland around 500 AD. There was also an east-west divide of Anglo-Saxon influence on one hand and Dane influence on the other. The Danish influence appeared to be pre-Viking and could be due to Bronze Age trade links (3,000 – 500 BC). Finally, some 40% of the population on the western isles may have some Viking ancestry but no Viking ancestry was evident in NE Scotland. – Further information.

Mitochondrial genetic disease measure. A new technique has been developed (so far only tried on monkeys) by the Oregon Health and Science University, for ensuring that a mother with a mitochondrial genetic disease does not pass it on. It is now possible to take the nucleus of one of her eggs and emplace it in a de-nucleated egg from a healthy donor. The resulting child retains all of the nuclear (chromosomal) DNA from the mother that would have otherwise been there: all that is missing is the unhealthy mitochondrial DNA. Human trials could take place as soon as three years.

 

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

Autumn 2009

FORTHCOMING BOOK RELEASES

Forthcoming Science Fiction book and graphic novel releases

The following 'forthcoming' listings (SF, fantasy/horror, and popular science/non-fiction SF/fantasy)
relate to UK releases (with just a few exceptions).
It aims to let you know the main English language genre and popular science books currently coming out for the European market.
It is not a complete listing and depends on us being given details.
We only occasionally include titles from N. American major publishers and only where we know there is European distribution.
If you wish for a more complete listing then Locus publishes occasional British listings in its magazine.

 

The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Macmillan Children's Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-330-50811-7.
This is the first of all five parts of the trilogy. You know the other titles so we will not list them, but they are all coming out together so if you need the set then now is your chance.

The Winds of Dune by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert, Simon & Schuster, trdpbk, £12.99. 978-1-847-37423-3.
Yet another Dune follow-up, but does it build on the masterpiece that was the original?

The Gabble and Other Stories by Neal Asher, Tor UK, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-45759-0.
13 shorts from the House of Asher.

Orbus by Neal Asher, Tor UK, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-70872-3.
The follow-up to The Voyage of the Sable Keech. Here Captain Orbus is unaware that he has a stowaway… a war drone!

Ark by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, trdpbk, ISBN 978-0-575-08057-4.
This is the sequel to the planetary disaster Flood. You can probably read this as a completely stand-alone story as Flood follows us lot on Earth getting swamped as the seas rise, and rise, and rise… And rise.   Whereas Ark follows those who went into space in what is essentially a generation ship.

City at the End of Time by Greg Bear, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08190-1.
The new paperback release of last year's hardback and trade-sized paperback. This is, quite simply, Bear's best novel for some considerable time (the last 'notable' one being Darwin's Radio back in 1999); it should also appeal to fans of Rudy Rucker and Greg Egan.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks by Max Brooks, Gerald Duckworth, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-715-63815-6.
Graphic novel.

EVE: The Burning Line by Hjalti Danielsson, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09017-0.
This is another stand-alone in the 'EVE' series, of which we have elsewhere reviewed EVE: The Empyrean Age. With some 300,000 players, EVE Online is one of the biggest online role-playing games in the English-speaking world at any rate. This spin-off novel ties in with one of the game's developments.

Makers by Cory Doctorow, Harper Voyager, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-007-32522-1.

Life On Another Planet by Wil Eisner, W. W. Norton, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-393-32812-7.
A reprint of the classic graphic novel by one of the form's early masters. Live on another world is discovered and this has implications for folk on Earth.

Nova War by Gary Gibson, Tor UK, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-706804.
This is the follow up to the really quite good Stealing Light: vaguely reminiscent of Niven's 'Known Space'. Light (excuse pun) but engaging space opera.

The Temporal Void by Peter F. Hamilton, Pan, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-330-40788-2.
The 2nd in the 'Void' trilogy and sequel to The Dreaming Void. It is another big one.

Halfhead by Stuart B. MacBride, HarperVoyager, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-007-29870-9.
A debut SF novel from the established (and Crime Writers Association Dagger Award winning) crime author but with a 'B.' added. Set in a near future Glasgow criminals are part-lobotomised and have their lower jaw removed…

Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07937-3.
Sequel to The Quiet War whose hardback we reviewed as well as its paperback edition. +++ Meanwhile the The Quiet War has just come out in the US from Pyr. Note: it was nominated for the Arthur C Clarke SF award which you should consider giving it brownie points and also it did not win which in our book is even better news for the novel's SFnal credibility. (Clarke winners tend to be strong on style but weaker on sense-of-wonder and story compared to their runners-up.)

The Quiet War by Paul McAuley, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08355-4.
The paperback release of the hardback.   Click on the title link to see the review.

Cyberabad Days by Ian McDonald, Gollancz pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08406-3.
The collection of shorts set in the same universe as The River of Gods.This is the paperback release of the trade sized paperback that came out earlier in the year. Presumably Pyr will also release a smaller sized paperback in N. America.

Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, hrdbk, £1899. ISBN 978-575-07718-8.
This latest outing for one of Western Europe's top SF writers is a mix of steam punk, western and future romance. So we are guess in the vein of The Wild, Wild West but in the future. We all like Reynolds and so are bound to stand-alone review this one when it comes out.

Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £18.99. 978-0-007-26031-7
This actually came out late-summer but we posted the last season news before we received news of this release. Someone gives Galileo a telescope that enables him to see centuries into the future… Two things to say. First, this year (2009) is the 400th anniversary of Galileo to use the telescope to do some decent astronomy. Second, Robinson loves to re-write history or rather consider history as being a tad fluid. He has played with history and the idea of history as a fluid concept on and off since his first novel, the futuristic Icehenge (1984). Expect this one to be short-listed for a few of the major awards.

Chasing the Dragon by Justina Robson, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12. ISBN 978-0-575-08562-6.
Fourth in the Lila Black science-fantasy series with a quantum portal connecting fantastical alternate Earths with different laws of physics that allow magic.

Wake by Robert J. Sawyer Gollancz, trdpbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09407-9.
By our reckoning (and we may be wrong) this is Sawyer's first book from a major British publisher for several years. The Canadian author is well known in N. America for his hard SF, gung-ho Bulmeresque SF romps in a Fanthorpian vein. Wake is the first of a trilogy about the internet gaining sentience.

On the Beach by Nevil Shute, Vintage Classics, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-53025-1.
A reprint of the classic end-of-the-World as lethal radioactive fallout from a nuclear exchange in the northern hemisphere slowly makes its way to Australia.

Anathem by Neal Stephenson, Atlantic, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-843-54917-8.
Neal's now with Atlantic having been with Random. Alas we only rarely received sporadic news from Random's imprints and are not on Atlantic's radar and so we cannot let you know any more about this one which is a shame as it was short-listed for the Hugo and the good money was backing it to win (in fact it gave this year's Hugo winner see the Hugo Comment earlier a run for its money and did also win the Locus).

The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis, Penguin Classics, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-141-19037-2.
He only wrote a couple of SF books but they were both great as is this is one. You may recall it from the film starring David Bowie. Alien comes to Earth for water. He creates a multinational empire using his off-world science to fund the construction of his return spaceship but the authorities begin to notice.

Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection – Field Notes by Dr Robert Twomble, Chronicle Books, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-811-87100-6.
Graphic novel.

The Very Best of Gene Wolfe edited by Gene Wolfe, PS Publishing, hrdbk, £50 / US$75. ISBN 978-1-848630-27-7.
OK so this came out over the summer but such is the way we get sent PS Publishing news that it does not easily lend itself to rapid pasting into this listing or be timeous. Nonetheless this volume is worthy of your attention. Gene Wolfe, renowned for his fine storytelling and the subtlety of prose, is one of America's finest living genre authors. The Very Best of Gene Wolfe is a massive career retrospective featuring thirty-two stories chosen by the master as his finest, and a genuine literary event. 'The Fifth Head of Cerberus', set on a colony planet whose macabre social system may hide a horrifying truth about the very nature of the human species; 'The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories', in which a young boy's imagination darkly transforms his troubled life in a broken household; 'The Hero as Werewolf', an astonishing gothic enquiry into the roots of what it is to be human; 'Seven American Nights', a baroque masterpiece of altered perception and authorial misdirection set in a ruined America; and many more.

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, Penguin Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-0-141-19037-2
This is a reprint of arguably Wyndham's most famous novel back in 1951. Having been injured his eyes a man awakes in hospital to find that the rest of the World has gone blind due to a brilliant meteor storm the night before. However the Triffid plants that can walk (shuffle) and have a lethal stinging stem are on the loose, and the blind do not stand a chance. This is one of Wyndham's 'cosy catastrophes' that demonstrate the vulnerability/transitory nature of our 'advanced' society as it is brought low by plants. Yet a few with character can save the remnants of civilization.

Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut, Vintage Classics, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-26754-6.
This is a re-release of his 1997 novel. In 2001 a timequake causes the past decade to be re-lived but with everyone aware that they are making the same decisions as before. The novel draws upon Vonnegut's own experiences in this exploration of free will. The novel has as its protagonist Kilgore Trout. Kurt Vonnegut died in the Spring 2007. (Click on the title link for a short review from Tony.)

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

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

 

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

Autumn 2009

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

The Mammoth Book of Merlin edited by Mike Ashley, Robinson, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-01111-2.
Ashley is a good editor so if you like Arthurian fantasy…

Elves: Once Walked with Gods by James Barclay, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08502-2.
Part of a series from the acclaimed author.

Fire by Kirsten Cashore, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08511-4.
A monster is in beautiful female form…

Death's Mistress by Karen Chance, Penguin, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-141-03952-7.
This is the second in the Dory Basarab sequence.

The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham, Doubleday, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-385-61449-8.
Epic fantasy.

Gardeners of the Moon by Steven Erikson, Bantam Press, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-593-06506-8.
10th anniversary hardback re-release of the first in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. This re-release should delight our public librarian regulars as we now and then hear from them as to the difficulty in completing sets of books.

Heretige of the Xandim by Maggie Furey, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08496-4.
This is set in the land of Aurian's early history.

Divine Misdemeanours by Laurell K. Hamilton, Bantam Press, hardbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-593-05956-2.
Paranormal romance. ('Paranormal'… sounds as if it could be kinky.)

True Blood Omnibus by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09122-1.
The first three novels in one volume: Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas and Club Dead. And the protagonist (a telepathic cocktail waitress) and her chums (including a vampiric lover) come to British terrestrial TV this autumn. How's that for sheer coincidence?

Conan's Bretheren by Robert E. Howard, Gollancz, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-575-08987-7.
This is the companion to The Complete Chronicles of Conan and presumably is a collection of Howard's non-Conan tales but of a similar ilk. As such this is highly recommended for all into warrior sword and sorcery fantasy.

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror edited by Stephen Jones, Robinson, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-845-29932-3.
Jones knows his horror, so this is going to be a good collection of shorts for horror fans.

The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, Orbit, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-841-49165-3.
Book 12 of the 'Wheel of Time' completed by Brandon from notes left behind by the late Robert Jordan. This is the first of three posthumous novels that will tie up all the loose ends in the series.

The Silver Mage by Katherine Kerr, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-007-28736-9.
The final in the Deverry series based on Celtic mythology.

The Grave Thief by Tom Lloyd, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08492-6.
This is the third in the 'Twilight Reign' series. The trade paperback is also out this autumn from Pyr in the US.

The Last Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko, Arrow, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-090-51015-4.
Part of the acclaimed 'Watch' series by the Russian master of fantasy. Set in the modern day the forces of evil and good are kept in balance by the 'Day' and 'Night' watches. Recommended. Sergei is really BIG in Russia and the Ukraine and a bit of a hit in many other European countries too. Indeed one of the earlier in the series has just won a Stalker Award: one of many European awards titles from the series have won.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08447-6.
More humorous adventure with the 'Gentleman bastard' series that began with The Lies of Locke Lamora.

Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Mariller, Tor UK, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-45111-6.

A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-002-24739-9.
The fifth in A Song of Ice and Fire.

Tyrant's Blood by Fiona McIntosh, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-007-27603-5.
The 2nd in the 'Valisar' trilogy.

The Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett, Doubleday, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-385-60934-0.
The latest Discworld novel that is undoubtedly going to fly off the shelves. This time the citizens of Discworld discover football.

The Vampire Archive by Otto Penzler (ed), Quercus, trdpbk, £19.99.. ISBN 978-1-847-24982-1.
This is the 'must buy' of the year for vampire buffs. Over a thousand pages of short stories and novelettes on vampires. Among the authors are all the usual suspects: Stoker, Doyle, King, Rice and Barker. Garlic bread anyone?

Retromancer by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07872-7.
Very witty, very silly, full of horrible puns, another far-fetched fiction, science-fantasy from the master of genre comedy. Recommended you give Rankin a try and if you like him you'll be absolutely hooked.

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

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

 

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

Autumn 2009

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

American SF Film and Television by Lincoln Geraghty, Berg, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-845-20796-0.

Don't Panic: Douglas Adams and The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Neal Gaiman, Titan, pbk, £9.99. 978-1-848-56496-1.
A must for those who know where their towel is.

Almost Human: Making Robots Think by Lee Gutkind, W. W. Norton, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-393-333684-9.
As we get closer to true AI we can expect more of these titles coming out. It is a hot area where SF is really on the point (a decade or two away) of becoming science fact.

Evidence of Evolution by Mary Ellen Hannibal, Abrams, hrdbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-0-81094924-9.
Another evolution book marking the 200th anniversary since Darwin's birth and 15o years since On the Origin of Species. This one has lots of excellent photographs.

Climate Change: Our Warming World – What can you do about it by Christina Hutchins, Alastair Sawday, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-906-13631-4.
This is timed to come out just prior to the December UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

Star Wars: Frames by George Lucas, Insight Editions, hrdbk, £4,000. ISBN 978-1-933-78473-1.
Yes, you read that right: it is £4,000 (roughly equivalent to US$6,500)! This makes this the most expensive book we have listed. Actually that it is a single box set of six books that comes in a special wooden case. It has Lucas's thought on scenes and is illustrated by pictures of frames from the films. Only 1,138 copies of this set have been made and we are guessing that 138 are give-aways with a thousand for commercial sale. Assuming a unit production and distribution cost of £250 (we guess) and a publisher and wholesale discount of 50%, and that they sell all 1,000, then the publisher stands to make £1,750,000 (US$2,900,000) to share with George. So it is no small hardship that George is signing the numbered book plate in all 1,000 sets. The books are just over two feet (65.4cm) wide and a foot (31cm) high so as to reproduce the wide-screen frames. There are about 1,300 images in the set.   Now we suspect that only die hard Star Wars fans who are also extremely affluent will go for this: but maybe we are wrong? For whatever reason, we have not been sent a review copy… (Don't worry. We'll get by.)

The Rough Guide to 'The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy' by Marcus O'Dair, Rough Guides, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-848-36242-0.
Does what it says on the tin.

The Genesis Enigma by Andrew Parker, Doubleday, hrdbk, £20. 978—0-385-61520-4.
Could there be more to Genesis than meets the eye? The evolutionary order ties in…

The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs, Corgi Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-552-15946-3.
Jam packed with quotes.

Timeless Adventures: How Dr Who Conquered TV by Brian J. Robb, Kamera Books, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-842-43302-7.

The Torchwood Encyclopedia by Garry Russell, BBC Books, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-846-07764-7.
A-Z guide.

Virolution by Frank Ryan, Collins, pbk, £12.99. 978-0-007-31512-3.
Viruses in evolution have affected plant and animal evolution. (Recommended for Greg Bear.)

Star Wars: 1,000 Collectables – Memorabilia and Stories From a Galaxy Far, Far Away by Stephen J. Sansweet and Ann Neumann, hrdbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-0-810-97291-9.

Mad Science: 100 Amazing Experiments From the History of Science by Reto Schneider, Quercus, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-16069-8.
Recommended for both scientists and non-scientists into science.

The Folklore of Discworld by Jaqueline Simpson and Terry Pratchett, Corgi Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-552-15493-2.
This is the paperback release of the earlier hardback.

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham, Profile, pbk, £15. ISBN 978-1-846-68285-8.
Apparently (and it seems plausible) that cooking meat enabled the digestive tract to shrink and so our brain to grow proportionally.

Brian now has autographed copies of -- Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide by Jonathan Cowie & Tony Chester, Porcupine Books, £8.90, pbk, 272pp. ISBN 0-954-91490-2. E-mail Brian (follow the Porcupine Books link) first to check availability. Also Essential is now available from Amazon.   Jump to the new specific Amazon link earlier on (but it's cheaper from Porcupine). If you enjoy Concat then you can support us by getting this book either for yourself or a friend and there are postage discounts for getting more than one copy and a further discount is available if buying several for an SF group or SF class.

 

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

In depth reviews of many science and SF non-fiction books can be found off the non-fiction reviews index.

 

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

Autumn 2009

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Star Trek: Voyager – Unworthy by Kirsten Beyer, Pocket Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-439-10398-2.

Dr Who: Autonomy by Daniel Blyth, BBC Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-846-07759-3.
The Autons, who else.

Halo: The Cole Protocol by Tobias S. Buckell, Tor UK, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-33-44513-9.
The third in the series.

Terminator Salvation: Dark Sky by Greg Cox, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-848-56087-1.
This is an official spin-off novel.

Torchwood: Risk Assessment by James Goss, BBC Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-846-07783-8.
The Torchwood Assessor is woken.

Star Wars: Darth Bane – Dynasty of Evil by Drew Karpyshyn, Century, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-846-605697-0.

Star Wars: Millennium Falcon by James Lucens, Arrow Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-54259-9.

Star Trek: Enterprise – The Romulan War by Michael A. Martin, Pocket Books, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-439-10798-0.

Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Scheiber, Arrow, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-54288-9.
It takes place on a zombie infected star destroyer...! Could this be the first Star Wars horror novel?

South Park Episode Guide: Seasons 1-5 by Sam Stall, Perseus, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-762-43561-6.
Well it is genre what with Kenny the immortal and with appearances of the Devil and Mr Poo. You either love it lots or hate it.

Star Wars: Imperial Commando – 501st by Karen Traviss, Arrow, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-54282-7.
This is set after the clone wars below.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars by Karen Traviss, Arrow, pbk, £7.99.ISBN 978-0-099-53319-1.
What with the film and the TV series (perhaps one but not the other would have been preferable) this novelization is bound to do well. Now the trick will be to pull together the various film and TV elements into a coherent whole. If Karen can do that this could be quite a seller.

Torchwood: The Undertaker's Gift, BBC Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-846-07782-1.
Earth comes under the spell of a curse…

The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike, Penguin, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-141-03803-2.
Sequel.

 

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

Autumn 2009

SELECTED RECENT DVD RELEASES

Ashes to Ashes £39.99 from BBC.
Box set of the entire season two of the pseudo time travel series with our shot detective mysteriously ending back in time a quarter of a century to the 1980s. – We covered the season's series' news earlier in this page.

Being Human £24.46 from BBC.
Episodes from season 1 of the comedy about a modern-day vampire, werewolf and a haunting ghost share a house…

The Coffin Joe Collection £17.60 from Anchor Bay.
Director Brazil's José Mojica Marins is well known for his first two blood and guts 'Coffin Joe' films: At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1964) and This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse (1967). This collection includes the more recent third horror offering Embodiment of Evil (2008).

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button £19.99 from Warner.
Adapted from the classic 1920's story by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button stars Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button - a man born in his eighties who ages backwards! The film follows Benjamin's story, set in New Orleans, from the end of World War I in 1918, into the twenty-first century, following his journey that is as unusual as any man's life can be. Directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett with Tilda Swinton, Taraji P. Henson, Jason Flemyng, Elias Koteas and Julia Ormond, Benjamin Button, is in effect a time traveller's tale of the people and places he bumps into along the way, the loves he loses and finds, the joys of life and the sadness of death, and what lasts beyond time. Almost a classic, this science fantasy is a bit of a tear-jerker and rather twee.

Diagnosis: Death £19.99 from Revolver.
New Zealand independent horror comedy. A couple meet as guinea pigs for a drug trial.

Dr Who: Planet of the Dead £12.71 from BBC.
'Planet of the Dead' was the first of four David Tennant Doctor Who Specials that aired in 2009.   An escaping jewel thief bumps into the Doctor on a London bus just before it goes through a rip in space time to end up on a hot, sandy desert world… Except the world used to be living… Bionic Woman and Merlin star Michelle Ryan plays the mysterious Lady Christina de Souza who joins the Doctor on this bus-trip. British comedy star Lee Evans also joins the cast playing Malcolm whose life becomes connected to the Doctor's under extraordinary circumstances. Noma Dumezweni returns as Captain Erisa Magambo - last seen helping Rose and Donna save the world in 'Turn Left'.

Hardware £19.56, Blu-ray £28.44, from Optimum.
The first spin-off film from 2000AD made in 1990, though it took a court case for this to be recognised. Based on a one-off, short comic strip story by Steve MacManus and Kevin O'Neill the tale is set in the same universe as the Cursed Earth of Judge Dredd. Part of a battle droid is recovered by someone from the wasteland desert and brought home. However it starts to reassemble itself and, with murderous intent, seals off the house. However why it was built is a bit of a mystery, until… The premise is neat but what works for a short 4-page comic strip cannot be padded out for a one-and-a-half hour film: would have made a good half-hour outer limits.

The Incredible Human Journey £19.56 from BBC.
A brilliant series of documentaries that reveals how humanity left Africa and colonised the World. It draws upon archaeology, anthropology, climate change science, and molecular biology among the range of sciences used to tell this tale. It also asks questions about the Neanderthals and why the Chinese facial structure looks so different to the rest of humanity (same phenotype as near as makes no difference, different phenotypic expression).

Hush DVD £15.65, Blu-ray £19.56, from Optimum.
A sort of British version of Duel in which a couple on a motorway (Yorkshire) are threatened by a truck driver following a near accident. This is tightly plotted and edited: arguably a nod to Hitchcock.

Knowing DVD £22.99, Blu-ray £29.99, from E1.
This starts of looking like a chiller but ends up as SF. A 50-year old time-capsule is opened and included inside are numbers that turn out to be the dates of disasters together with the death toll. Many have already taken place in the intervening half-century but three have yet to take place… This is the sort of film that would have gone down well in the 1950s but today would be considered a tad cheesy despite quite a good first two-thirds. Stars Nicholas Cage.

Lesbian Vampire Killers DVD £17.99, Blu-ray £24.99, from Momentum.
This (sadly) is a Brit independent… (talk about letting the side down). Actually this is almost so bad it is good, but alas not quite. Writers Stewart Williams and Paul Hupfield were challenged to think of the silliest and yet most commercial title possible for a film, and came up with Lesbian Vampire Killers: well, they got the silliest part vaguely right. They then went away and wrote this comedy horror: they got this bit horribly wrong. Stars Mathew Horne and James Corden. A Welsh village is cursed and the women folk enslaved by lesbian vampires as part of a long-standing curse. Two passing through are considered suitable sacrifices. Paul (Dr Who) McGann plays the vicar… If you want a comedy horror then why not go for the classic Dance of the Vampires.

Let The Right One In DVD £17.99, Blu-ray £24.99,from Momentum
A Swedish vampire offering that makes a change from the sugary teenage Twilight from Hollywood. This offering is more atmospheric, has character and a photogenic Swedish backdrop. A bullied 12 year old gets a new young friend when new neighbours move in, the thing is she only sees the friend at night and their neighbours' home's windows are blacked out. It is based on John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel and is directed by Tomas Alfredson. It is getting considerable attention from fantastci film fests in many countries. Recommended.

Martyrs £15.55 from Optimum.
French horror, violent revenge film. Two young women track down the man who terrorised one of them when younger. The director is Pascal Laugier provisionally slated to make a Clive Barker Hellraiser re-make.

Mirrors £19.55 from Fox.
Horror starring Kiefer Sutherland.

Monster Squad £17.60 from Fabulous.
This release of the 1987 film is a spoof in which Dracula – seeking to rule the World – brings together Frankenstein's monster and the werewolf to help him. But a gang of kids gets in the way. Light comedy horror.

The Secret of Moonacre £15.65, Blu-ray £22.50, from Warner.
Children's fantasy in the ilk of Rowling and C. S. Lewis, just about watchable for adults.

Outlander £17.99, Blu-ray £24.99, from Momentum.
In Viking times an alien crash lands along with a predator. The latter escapes and it is down to our alien hero and the Vikings to get it. OK, so the plot is shaky and the film a little too long for its own good, but the film is reasonable B-movie fare.

Seven Pounds £15.56 from Sony.
It is a frustrating spiritual mystery for Will Smith and a matter of life and death. He causes a car accident through using a mobile phone and kills several innocents. With guilt, he uses his life to identify potential recipients for organs from his body…

Terminator 2: SkyNet Edition (Blu Ray) £24.99 from Optimum.
This special Skynet Edition of Terminator 2 comes in a steel tin. Extra DVD Features include: Behind the Scenes slideshow with cast & crew comments; Text production commentary and trivia track with animated graphics in synch to the film; Storyboard and Script shown in synch to the film; Interactive quiz and games to the film; 2 feature commentaries (for TH, SE, ESE): "23 members of cast & crew", "director James Cameron & co-author William Wisher"; Seamless Branching of 3 different versions of the film; BD-Live (using dynamic HD Client by Imagion AG, Germany); and 4 restored T2-Trailers, THX trailer, 2 Deleted Scenes with audio commentary.

Timecrimes £15.55 from Optimum.
Or should it be Time Crimes? Anyway, this is an excellent Spanish time travel, time loop film. If you recall way back in the spring we recommended it as one of the best films of 2008. Now you can get the DVD.

Torchwood: Children of Earth (Series 3) £29.35 from BBC.
It's the entire season 3, only five episodes but one story. An ordinary day becomes a world of terror, as every single child in the world stops. A message is sent to all the governments of Earth: ‘We are coming’. But as a trap closes around Captain Jack, sins of the past are returning, as long-forgotten events from 1965 threaten to reveal an awful truth. Torchwood personnel are forced underground, as the government takes swift and brutal action. With members of the team being hunted down, Britain risks becoming a rogue state, with the mysterious and powerful 456 drawing ever closer. Captain Jack, Gwen and Ianto are helpless, as events escalate until mankind faces the end of civilisation itself. Guest Starring: Kai Owen (Rhys), Peter Capaldi (Mr Forbisher) & Paul Copely (Clem).   The DVD's special features are Torchwood Declassified: A look behind-the-scenes featuring Cast and Crew, and Torchwood In the Shadows: an audio clip read by Eve Myles.

Watchmen £19.56 from Paramount, £29.35 for the Blu Ray version.
The early summer's cinema release of the film version of the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons rich and complex graphic novel of superheroes. When the (former) superheroes start being killed, one of them decides to investigate... Though this film is reasonably faithful to the original graphic novel, so much has been squeezed in that those unfamiliar with the story may find it hard to follow. What is more, much has still been left out. We hate to say it but you might be better off waiting a few months for the Director's cut which should be at least 20 minutes longer.

Wonder Woman Special Edition £15.65 from Warner.
An animated feature of the DC superheroine.

See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in 2009, check out our forthcoming film diary.

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

 

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

Autumn 2009

R.I.P.

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

Mort Abrahams, the US television and film producer known for Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, has died aged 93. other contributions include several episodes of Tales of Tomorrow, as well as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the first two Planet of the Apes films.

Uwe Anton, the German SF author, has sadly died aged only 47. His death comes following long-term illness. He is known especially for his work on the German mega-series 'Perry Rhodan'. +++ Also see the earlier story on the 2,500 Perry Rhodan.

J. G. Ballard, the renowned British speculative fiction writer, has died aged 78. He was part of the 'new wave' movement that looked more at the human condition that the hardware of SF. Yet many of his stories had a firm SFnal setting right from the beginning of his writing career with novels such as Drowned World (1962) and The Drought [also published as The Burning World] (1964), both of which today resonate with global warming concerns. His view of the world was unflinching and this unsettled some, indeed his collection of shorts The Atrocity Exhibition (1970) was pulped in the US before publication: though perhaps with one of its stories being 'Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan' one can at least understand this censorship, though perhaps not forgive it. He continued to explore the twentieth century western condition with novels such as Concrete Island (1974) and High Rise (1975). Undoubtedly his work was influenced by his World War II childhood experiences witnessing the Japanese invasion of Shanghai and his internment with his parents in the Lunghua concentration camp exposed him to how life could be dramatically upturned and norms radically redefined. His autobiographical novel based on this time, Empire of the Sun (1984) was made famous by the Spielberg film of the same name. Ballard valued SF and considered himself an SF writer: he was part of the cadre of regular contributors to New Worlds magazine. However he shunned fandom: for example, two of us back in the 1970s tried to get him as a Guest of Honour for a Hatfield PSFA convention and got the usual polite but firm refusal. A shame for had he engaged with the SF community he would have had a tremendous welcome and interacted with appreciative folk.

Wrai Ballard, the US fan, has died from cancer aged 85. A fan editor he reportedly helped promote the term 'filk' having previously refused to publish Lee Jacob's essay that used the term for fear its bawdy content might get the zine in trouble with US post office censors.

Gary Bateman, the Canadian SF fan, has died aged 62. Though a graduate engineer he became an accountant and wrote books on taxpayers' rights.

Charles N. Brown, Locus' editor, has died aged 72 in his sleep aboard a plane on his way back to his California home from a convention in Boston. If credit had to go to just one person for charting the state of North American written SF (and fantasy) over the past few decades then that person is undoubtedly Charles Brown, and in terms of assessing English-language SF he is surely up there with the likes of John Clute. What perhaps some do not realise is that he had a science training with a degree in physics and engineering and worked for several years as a nuclear engineer. As per his wishes, Locus continues to be published with a new editor-in-chief as of the August issue. +++ Ansible reports from the Locus website that ... the most Charles-worthy ironic twist of the whole week: an e-mail from Virgin Airways -- addressed to Charles -- apologising for the inconvenience caused by the delay in deplaning following the recent flight from Boston, explaining that a passenger had become seriously ill, and hoping his plans worked out well anyway.'

David Carradine, US actor best remembered for the 1970s Chinese martial-arts monk 'Grasshopper' in Kung Fu, has died aged 72. Other genre work included the SFnal Death Race 2000 (1975) and the science fantasy Q: The Winged Serpent (1982).

Robert A. Collins, the N. American SF academic who founded the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, has died aged 80.

Ronald Pitts Crick, the ophthalmic scientist, has died aged 92. He pioneered the use of the operating microscope in British eye surgery and devoted much of his professional life to the study of glaucoma – raised pressure in the eye that is a leading cause of preventable blindness. He founded the International Glaucoma Association.

Jean Dausset, the medical researcher, has died aged 92. He is most famous for discovering the HLA system (human leukocyte antigen), the genes that encode for molecules on the surface of cells that define them as belonging to a specific, individual organism. For this work (together with Baruj Benacerraf and George Snell) he received a Nobel Prize in 1980. He also advised the French government and founded France Transplant, the organisation that coordinated organ transplantation across France.

Thomas F. Deitz, the US fantasy author, has died aged just 57. The author of some 16 novels, he had for a while suffered from a weak heart. He spent his last week in care settling his affairs.

David Eddings, the US sword and sorcery fantasy author, has died aged 77. He was the author of over two dozen novels which itself is quite an achievement, though a debt is owed to his wife Leigh who contributed to his novels but, especially earlier on, was not always credited: Leigh sadly died in 2007. His most recent series (with Leigh) was the 'Dreamers' sequence of four novels (2003-2006) that were published in the British Isles by Voyager.

Bette Farmer, the widow of science fiction author Philip José Farmer, has died aged 86. She had been married to Philip from 1941 through to his death in February earlier this year. Over the years, Farmer wrote a essays for fanzines about her husband and frequently attended cons with him, including Farmercon. As is all to common with close partners, her departure came just a little after her counterpart's.

Farrah Fawcett, the US actress SFnally known for The Six Million Dollar Man and the films Logan's Run (1976) and Saturn 3 (1980), has died aged 62.

Harvey Frand, the US TV producer, has died aged 68. He worked on the recent Battlestar Galactica series, but his previous genre work included the 1985-7 version of The Twilight Zone, The Lazarus Man and The Pretender . He won an Emmy Award for on Battlestar Galactica: Razor last year.

Abigail Frost, the British SF fan active on the fanzine front, died aged 57 from an undiagnosed heart condition.

Robert Furchgott, the Nobel-winning US biochemist who elucidated the role of NO (nitrous oxide) in dilating blood vessels, has died aged 92. He shared his 1998 Nobel win in 'Physiology or Medicine' with Ferid Murad and Louis Ignarro.

Cathy Goodwin, the Australian fan, has died aged 52.

Phyllis Gotlieb [Bloom], the Canadian SF grandmistress, has died aged 83. She was arguably Canada's most high-profile author of the 1960s and '70s. She has been described as the founder of Canadian SF, but what is certain is that she was a founding member of SF Canada. The title of her first novel, Sunburst (1964), became the name of one of Canada's most valued SF prizes.

Kris Hembury, an Australian based in Queensland, has died.

Alan Keeley, the British horror film fan, has died aged 52.

Kaoru Kurimoto (Sumiyo Imaoka), the Japanese author of the 126 volume 'Guin Saga' fantasy among other novels, has died aged 56.

Arthur Lewis, of N. America, has died aged 88. He was president of the Science Fiction Research Association in 1977-78. He had an interest in utopian literature. He edited the anthology Utopias: Selected Short Fiction and a 41 volume or reprints (Arno Press).

Robert Louit French SF editor and critic and book translator, has died aged 64.

Sir John Maddox, former editor of Nature (twice), has died aged 83. Objectivity with a wry smile is how the regular readers of Nature on the Concat team describe Maddox's second tenure (1980-'95) as Nature editor (we were too young to appreciate his first stint (1966 – '73)): its correspondence page has never been the same since he left; gone are the jokey/wry one-paragraph letters. Nature is the multi-disciplinary science weekly journal that has the highest impact factor (the average number of times a paper within it is subsequently cited) in the World rivalled only by the US journal Science. John Maddox also contributed to science in other ways, serving terms on the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Group the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. He was knighted in 1995.

David McDonnell, an Australian SF fan, has died. He was part of the Melbourne SF community.

Laura Molesworth, the Australian fan and widow of Voltaire (Vol) Molesworth who wrote A History of Australian Science Fiction Fandom, 1935-1963, has died. She served as the Futurian Society of Sydney's librarian, and helped organise some of the earliest Australian natcons held in Sydney.

Simon Oates the UK actor who played in the Brit TV series Doomwatch scientist Dr John Ridge, has died aged 77.

Les Paul, the music technologist famous for inventing the electric guitar, has died aged 94.

Gero Reimann, the German SF author, has died following a long illness aged 64.

A. Langley Searles, the British fanzine fan, has died aged 88.

Dave Simons, the US comics artist, has died aged just 54. His work included on Spiderman and Conan.

Harry Alan Towers, the N. American producer and screen writer, has died in Toronto, Canada, aged 88. His genre work included She, Dorian, The Mummy Lives and Masque of the Red Death. Under a pseudonym he wrote the screenplay to Gor and Outlaws of Gor.

Ken Rand, the US writer, has died aged 62. He wrote many short stories and several SF novels together with other non-fiction books and writing guides. He also worked as a talk show host, editor and actor as well as a sports presenter.

Frank Springer, the US comics artist, has died aged 79. His work included that on The Phantom, Batman and Spiderman.

Paul O. Williams, the US English lecturer and part-time SF author, has died aged 73. He is especially known for his 'Pelbar series' of seven novels set in post-apocalyptic Illinois.

Herbert Frank York, the US physicist, has died aged 87. Worked on the Manhatten Project, then headed up what was to become the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Was instrumental in the early 1980s in getting the governor of California and University of California to establish the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation that works on research to prevent war. In 2000 he was given the Enrico Fermi Award.

 

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

Autumn 2009

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

Isaac Asimov gets a Martian crater named after him. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has officially named a 51 mile (84 km) diameter crater located in Noachis Terra on Mars after the US author (1920–1992). Asimov Crater can be found at 47.0°S, 355.1°W. For a crater on Mars to be named after a person, it must have a diameter greater than or equal to 60 kilometres (about 37 miles): though the number of these remaining unnamed is running out but the IAU could move on to smaller ones. The IAU rule for naming craters of diameters 60 km and larger on Mars are that they are to be named for persons deceased at least 3 years who contributed to the study or Mars or writers who contributed to 'the lore of Mars'. Asimov wrote numerous novels and short stories including 'The Martian Way'. Asimov Crater has been almost completely filled with material. Pits have somehow developed by the buried crater wall in the material that has filled the crater and there appear to be flow-like patterns on the walls of these pits.

Calling Asimov! An international debate is needed on the use of autonomous military robots. Noel Sharkey of the University of Sheffield said that the drive for more robotic technology used in warfare puts civilian lives at risk. "Robots that can decide where to kill, who to kill and when to kill is high on all the military agendas," Professor Sharkey said. "The problem is that this is all based on artificial intelligence, and the military have a strange view of artificial intelligence based on science fiction."

The force is with Glasgow's police. Yes Glasgow – the home to two wonderful Eurocons (that were even combined with Worldcons) – has some of its police draw upon the Star Wars force. 10 Strathclyde police officers described themselves as Jedi it was discovered after the Police Review journal submitted a freedom of information request to ascertain the religious diversity of Glasgow's police. +++ In the last official UK national survey of the entire population some 400,000 described themselves as Jedi.

Orwellian DNA surveillance criticised by DNA fingerprint inventor Sir Alec Jefferies. His comment came at the beginning of the summer and following last December's European Court ruling that said that the UK indefinitely keeping DNA records of innocent people was unlawful. The DNA profiles of everyone arrested for a recorded offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (but not Scotland) are kept on the database, regardless of whether they are charged let alone convicted. At present there are over 4.5m profiles on the database. "I've seen figures as high as 800,000 entirely innocent people on that database," said Sir Alec. "My concerns, which were very much reflected in a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, is that this is a real violation of an individual's privacy." Sir Alec said he agreed with the court's assessment that this level of retention was 'blanket and indiscriminate.' "There's a real risk of stigmatisation, particularly ethnic minorities are being over-represented, along with juveniles."

US$10 million from the Eddings' estate to asthma research. David Eddings died this summer but left the bequest for science research in his will. Eddings's wife and occasional co-author, Leigh, suffered from asthma most of her life. Eddings' bequest is specifically for research related to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of childhood asthma.

Cyberspace robbery of 'virtual' cash nets 'real' money. Space trading game Eve Online has had a robbery. One of the game's bank's controllers stole about 200bn kredits and swapped them for real world cash of £3,115. As news of the theft spread, many of the bank's customers rushed to remove their virtual cash. The theft was carried out by EBank's chief executive, a player known as Ricdic, now known to be a 27-year-old Australian who work in the technology industry. Eve Online has about 300,000 players all of whom inhabit the same online universe. Though theft is allowed – encouraged even – Ricdic has now been thrown out of the game as trading-in game cash for real money is against Eve Online's rules. Ricdic used the money for medical bills and a deposit on a house.

The 'science' of time travel is looked at by a physicist in the light of the recent film release of the novel The Time Traveller's Wife. See http://www.slate.com/id/2225223.

Internet addict murdered as part of cure! Deng Senshan, 15, under 24-hour was under supervision the Qihang Salvation Training Camp in Nanning, China for web addiction: some estimate that up to 10% of China's 100 million teenage web users could be addicted, and rehabilitation services are growing. Staff are reported to have put the teenager in solitary confinement and then beaten him that evening.

Vatican gives Harry Potter approval. Six years after Cardinal Tatzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) criticised the Harry Potter books for 'distorting Christianity', the latest film has been praised by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano for demonstrating that good triumphs over evil.

Harry Potter actress Emma Watson is descended from a witch! Emma Watson (19) who plays Hermione Granger in the cinematic adaptations of J. K. Rowling's children's books is, according to ancestry.com, descended from Joan Playle of Essex who was convicted of witchcraft in 1592. She was not executed but excommunicated from the Church of England.

Chinese astronauts – taikonauts – have to pass Moon is a Harsh Mistress standards. Just as in Heinlein's classic novel, prospective taikonauts are screened and those with body odour or bad breath among 100 characteristics, will not be able to go forward to the next stage of the taikonaut programme. The test is being applied at the 456th Air Force Hospital in Nanjing, eastern China, to ensure only the best get into space.

A British UFO-seeking hacker of US government computers is to be extradited to the States. Ignore the fact that he actually did no harm, or that he has done the US a great service in revealing a security weakness, or that he has Asperger's Syndrome, or that the Blair wet Brit government in 2003 entered into a non-reciprocal extradition relationship with the US sucking up to Bush… Gary McKinnon, 43, from Wood Green, north London, admits hacking into 97 US government computers, including NASA's and Pentagon's, during 2001 and 2002. Mr McKinnon faces up to 70 years in prison if convicted in the US of what prosecutors have called "the biggest military computer hack of all time".

Canadian mathematicians use zombies as epidemiological exemplar. See here.

Frequency of UFO sightings may or may not be linked to SF films. (yawn…) See here.

 

Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in The Guardian has last season coverage that included:-
  - how the pharmaceutical company Merck wants to 'neutralise' and 'discredit' various Australian doctors who they do not perceive as will toe the line, lobbied the Australian minister to back off a campaign similar to one that got 44,000 US citizens over £2 billion (US$3.1 bn) compensation related to Merck drug Vioxx, and working with science publisher Elsevier to produce a promotional publication of which Elsevier said it "does not today consider a compilation of reprinted articles a 'journal'", though Goldacre points out: "it was a collection of academic journal articles, published by the academic journal publisher Elsevier, in an academic journal-shaped package. Perhaps if it wasn't an academic journal they could have made this clearer in the title which, I should have mentioned, was named: The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine." Goldacre concludes that the real tragedy is that the cost of distorted information, and irrational prescribing, is far greater than the cost of the research that could prevent it.
  - Goldacre raising a counter hypothesis to the equally unsubstantiated claim, by Professor Baroness Susan Greenfield of the Royal Institution, that frequent computer (internet social sites, games etc) use can harm the development of children's brains and fuelling obesity.
  - that even though we expect newspapers to be cheap, hence they are prone to misinforming about science, press releases can be as bad. A US study of 200 press releases showed. Half of them covered research done in humans, and of these, as an early clue to their quality, 23% did not bother to mention the number of participants while 34% failed to quantify their results, and 40% were of trials without any control group or had less than 30 participants. Overall the study concluded that 58% of all press releases from its sample of academic institutions lacked relevant cautions and caveats about the methods used and the results reported. In short, do not always blame the newspaper.
  - over recent decades there have been many examples of evidence that decriminalising drug use would be more effective a control than criminalisation but the facts have been ignored, presumably because it is more important to be seen to be against drugs than have an efficacious policy combating them. Now Goldacre draws our attention to the latest evidence this time from the World Health Organization on cocaine being ignored.
  - how The Times newspaper misrepresented the views on magnetism of Gregory Ryskin, of Northwestern University, Illinois, to make a story more interesting.
  - the poor presentation of data (poor sample and data control) and statistics (no confidence limits) by the British Home Office in their consultation as to whether DNA samples and data taken from folk subsequently proven innocent should be retained. (Apparently, according to the Home Office, if you are ever stopped by the police and asked to submit your DNA and then shown to be innocent you are as likely to commit a future crime as someone sampled who turns out to be guilty… So the innocent are as equally prone to offend as seasoned, repeat, offenders???)
  - the scientific muddle surrounding 'organic' food.
  - the Daily Telegraph reporting that doing exercise can increase your weight was not only a distortion of research carried out by Prof. John Blundell of Leeds University but a reversal of the experiment's results! (The Telegraphs' quality of science coverage has plummeted since the 1990s.) The collected Goldacre 'Bad Science' articles up to last year are now available in book form. You can see all the examples of Goldacre's Bad Science for free at www.badscience.net.

Ben Goldacre (above) is to appear at the London SF Euroconference Odyssey2010 at Easter 2010 – see earlier news.

Meanwhile in the real world the past summer saw the 30th anniversary of the first man on the Moon and also there was the news of some pop singer chappy sadly dying young. How browned off must Neil Armstrong and Buz Aldrin feel with so many media mentions of the said pop singer inventing the 'moonwalk'…?

 

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News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
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R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2009

End Bits

 

More science and SF news will be reviewed in our Spring 2010 upload in January plus there will also be 'forthcoming' book releases for the Autumn.

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Brian Ameringen, Bill Burns, Perkovic Dalibor, Jukka Halme, Adam Jenkins, Dave Lalley, Rita Medany, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf, Roberto Quaglia, Sherry Yao, June Young and the many representatives of groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk who sent news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page. If you feel that your news, or SF news that interests you, should be here then you need to let us know (as we cannot report what we are not told).

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Spring 2010 period – needs to be in before the end of November 2009 (we break for Christmas and the New Year). News (of the past 2009 autumnal period or of forthcoming 2010 spring events) is especially sought concerns SF author news as well as that relating to national SF conventions: size, number of those attending, prizes and any special happenings.
To contact us see here and try to put something clearly science fictional in the subject line in case your message ends up being spam-filtered and needs rescuing.

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