Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Autumn 2011

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 2011

STAFF MATTERS

Good news: Following the past couple of seasons of really awful news, it is really pleasant to have some really good news again.

First up is congratulations to Nick and partner Nelli on the birth of daughter Estelle. For those of you into weighty physics (or even lively biology and biometrics) Estelle came in at 7lbs 15oz (3.6kg).  Our congratulations to the family.

Second up is congratulations to Alan and partner Karen on getting married… Even if it meant that one of the team had to become a canine-caretaker for the day as Floyd didn't really know what was going on.

Third up are this year's Eurocon Awards.   We have always taken an interest in these especially having won three of these in previous years.   This year one of the SF2 Concatenation core team made nominations for Alastair Reynolds (Great Britain) as Best Author, Sam Lundwall (Sweden) as Grandmaster; and an Encouragement Award for the new author Hanu Rajaniemi (Finland / Great Britain) and, having a previous year nominated, this time spoke to the business meeting he made the nomination pitch for Louis Savy for Best Promoter.   Other than the Encouragement Awards, the afore nominations require speaking to as if at a hustings prior to a vote by the national delegates at the European SF Society business meeting and our man took the lead speaking for Alastair Reynolds and Louis Savy. This year in Stockholm there were a large number of European countries present (23) and each country gets two voting delegates. The Encouragement Awards tend to go through on the nod unless there is more than one nomination per country. However for the principal awards our chap must have been sufficiently eloquent at this year's business meeting at the Eurocon in Stockholm, Sweden as all won against rival nominations, and there was no UK/Finnish competition for the fourth Encouragement Award winner.   See the 2011 Eurocon Award results below. Our congratulations to all the winners including those others nominated: it was a good year for the Awards.

 

Elsewhere this issue (vol 21 (5) Autumn 2011) beyond this seasonal newscast page we have:-
          …an article on whether SF novels are getting too big, a review of the 2011 Eurocon in Stockholm, a review of the 2011 New Zealand national convention, and a review of the 2010 British Eastercon and many SF/F book reviews. See What's new.

 

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 2011

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

Hugo Awards announced and we have comment – see here.

ESFS Eurocon Awards announced and we have comment – see here.

Major SF/F Awards from around the World include: Australia's Aurealis Awards and Ditmars, Britain's Eagle Awards and Stan Lee Awards (both for comics), Canada's Auroras, China's Sky Awards, France's Prix Rosny Aîné, Peppins, Imaginales and Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, Germany's Kurd Lasswitz Preis, Finland's Tähtivaeltaja Award, New Zealand's Sir Julius Vogel Awards, Romania's ARSFan and Hobana Awards, Russia's Aelita, Bronze Snails and Interpresscon Awards, the Ukraine's SF Portal and Manticore Awards, the US Locus Awards, Nebulas, Eisners, Campbells and Bram Stoker Awards.

Book news – Includes : New Clute-Nicholls SF Encyclopaedia pre-launch announcement, Kurt Vonnegut book banned in US; Gollancz top ten SF reprints; Gollancz's news SF e-Book Gateway to its large SF backlist; Angry Robot's new enhanced audio book editions; Prometheus Books' Pyr's new juvenile SF imprint; the latest on the fight against British public library closures.

Film news – Includes: Ridley Scott's new Prometheus film; new Nightfall film (Wells not Asimov); and a number of links to SF short video clips.

Television news – Includes: George R. R. Martin's adaptation Game of Thrones does well; Dr Who news; and Eureka surprise new cancel.

News of SF and science personalities includes, among many, that of: Neil Gaiman, Ian McDonald, China Mielville, Hannu Rajaniemi; Stephen King; J. K. Rowling; and David Tennant.

Other news includes: .

News of last season's SF events that of: the 2011 SF Worldcon; and 2011 Eurocon; and the British Eastercon.

Major forthcoming SF events include: future Eurocons and Worldcons.

Notable SF books due out in the run up to the New Year 2012 include: Alden Bell's The Reapers are Angels mass-market paperback edition; Greg Bear's Hull Zero Three mass-market paperback edition; Greg Egan's latest - The Clockwork Rocket: Orthogonal Book One; Gary Gibson's new space opera Final Days; Stephen King does time travel with 11.22.63; Christopher Priest's latest novel The Islanders; the mass-market paperback publication of Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief; the mass-market paperback edition of Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees; Robert Rankin's latest far fetched fiction The Mechanical Messiah and Other Marvels of the Modern Age and Alastair Reynolds latest hard SF space opera Blue Earth Remembered.

Notable fantasy due out in the run up to the New Year 2012 include: Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson; The Third Section historical vampires by Jasper Kent; George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons; the mass-market paperback edition of The Ritual by Adam Nevill; and Terry Pratchett's latest Snuff.

The Spring saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included: Scientists Baru Benacerraf, Willard Sterling Boyle; Bernadine Healy, Mike Pugh-Thomas; David Sencer and Jonathan Windon.   and SF personalities included among others: Doug Chaffee, John Glasby, Joanna Russ, Komatsu Sakyo and Elisabeth Sladen.

 

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 2011

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SF NEWS

New edition of the Clute-Nicholls Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction announced. You have probably already heard this mid-summer news and, well, we all knew it was coming, but it has been 18 years since the second edition (1993) of the encyclopaedia first published in 1979 and is arguably the most important SF reference work in the world. The third edition of the Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction, will be released online later this year by the newly-formed ESF Ltd, in association with Victor Gollancz, the SF & Fantasy imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, whose support will enable the text to be available free to all users. This initial 'beta' version, containing about three-quarters of the total projected content, will be unveiled in conjunction with Gollancz’s celebrations of its 50th anniversary as a science fiction publisher. The first edition of the Encyclopaedia, whose founder and general editor was Peter Nicholls, appeared in 1979, and contained over 700,000 words. A second edition, edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls, appeared in 1993 and contained over 1.3 million words. Both editions won Hugo Awards. The beta version of the third edition will contain some 3 million words, including about 12,000 entries and well over 100,000 internal links. +++ See also in the SF Book Trade subsection the news about the SF Gateway.

Fantasy & Science Fiction samplers available free on Kindle. The US monthly magazine Fantasy & Science Fiction will have its editorial (including film reviews and cartoons) and one story available on Amazon Kindly FREE. The full magazine can also be downloaded for a subscription of just US$12 (£8) a year. Not bad.

The 2011 Hugo Awards were announced at this year's Worldcon, Renovation. Further to last year's nominating record, Renovation saw a new record number of final ballot voting (as opposed to nominations) for the 2011 Hugo Awards: up to 2,100 from 1,778 in 1980. Renovation also broke another record earlier this year when it received 1,006 valid nominating ballots up from last year's record-breaking 864. The principal Hugo category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Gollancz)
          Best Novella: The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)
          Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form: Inception, written and directed by Christopher Nolan
          Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form: Doctor Who 'The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang' written by Steven Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes
         Other category win information can be found at thehugoawards.org.
Comment.   This should not need to be said but as there has been criticism of Hugo Award discussion/criticism floating around cyberspace, let's say straight up that any award worth its salt is worthy of discussion/criticism/comment etc. After all, is it not at least in part the purpose of awards to encourage discussion and debate of award nominations, winners and the award itself? So here are some points some of us have raised over a pint the past few weeks…  Well, it was a reasonably predictable Hugo year especially if you were N. American (which we are not).   First off, the 'Best Novel', Blackout/All Clear is actually a duology (a single story in two books): Blackout and All Clear. Indeed Blackout, though published in N. America last year, was only published in Britain around the nominating deadline and so it did not even appear on our radar as one of our Best SF novels of 2010 published in the British Isles back in the New Year. However mid-summer we were aware that the novel(s) had attracted SF aficionado interest in N. America as it won the Locus (see immediately below). It has to be said that this is not the best SF novel of 2010 but the author probably does deserve a Hugo for the series of historian time travel books she has written, of which these two are a part. However Blackout being published as a stand-alone book suffers as its plot is all set-up and ends with a cliff-hanger: it has no sense of wholeness so you need to read the second half of the story with All Clear.   Delight on our part that Ted Chiang won the 'Best Novella' Hugo as Ted is the author of one of our selection of 'Futures' one-page short stories, 'What's Expected Of Us'.   The 'Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form' Hugo winner, Inception is a reasonable, if not brilliant, Hugo win. Indeed we had cited Inception as Hollywood's solid SF offering of the year (do not forget that Worldcon Hugo voters are largely N. American and Hollywood orientated who rarely nominate indie or European SF films) when back in January we listed the Best Genre Films of the previous year (2010). Inception was a brilliant win in the sense of considering the rubbish that also made the short-list. Clearly a reasonable tranche of the Hugo voters at the Worldcon realised this as the voting statistics indicate nearly twice the support for Inception compared to the next runner-up, How to Train Your Dragon.   The Short-Form win for Dr Who was similarly predictable. What is beginning to become a little tedious is seeing Dr Who have so many episodes nominated clogging the category's short-list. Now that we have had 'Dramatic Presentation - Short-Form' category Hugo for several years, the World SF Society (WSFS) really needs to iron out the wrinkles and rule that you can nominate a series' season with best episode, but only the series goes through to the Hugo short-list that gets the most votes regardless of episode, and the single episode listed in the short-list is only the one most cited by the majority of these voters. That way Hugo voters get a crack at five series in the short-list and five series get the honour of being Hugo nominated. As it is, looking back at the nominations for Hugo Best Dramatic Presentation Short-Form category for the past half decade, it may as well be called 'The best episode of Dr Who season' award: is Dr Who really the only TV series worthy of such science fiction achievement attention in a year?   However, the ways of WSFS are weird and wonderful to behold (albeit not quite as weird as ESFS).   And that really is the interesting category Hugo wins done and dusted.
          In addition to the Hugo wins being announced, the nominating long-list of those just missing getting voted onto the short-list was also released following the Hugo Awards ceremony.   Here for 'Best Novel' The Quantum Thief and Terminal World both came in the top 20 (but only the top 5 make the Hugo shortlist) and these titles we previously cited in our Best SF novels of 2010 published in the British Isles.   Also included in the Hugo top 20 nominated was Kraken which we also cited back in January (2011) as one of the previous year's Best Fantasies. (Remember, another WSFS peculiarity is that the definition of the Hugo 'Science Fiction achievement' Award includes fantasy. Locus (see immediately below) sensibly separate out a fantasy category.   Turning to the 'Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form', it is interesting to see in the voting statistics that Fu*k Me, Ray Bradbury came second.   As for the nominating long-list for 'Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form' (principally feature films), this once again demonstrated that Hugo voters do not seem to seek out SF films beyond their local cinema and apparently (judging by the nominations) they watch mainly Hollywood films (or, if their diet is more varied, they disdain indie and non-N. American films).   However it was interesting to see Metropolis (2010 restoration) just scrape the bottom of the nominating long-list (with just 3.53% of the nominating vote for that category). Also in the long-list were Monsters (6.27%) and Never Let Me Go (3.53%) both of which we cited back in January following our annual film box office analysis in our personal (non-box office determined) opinion as our other worthies addendum.   Worldcon organizers really have let slide the film programme in the past couple of decades, and the statistics above all show that the Hugo needs (let alone deserves) a more cinematically literate SF voting constituency: there really is some good stuff out their beyond Hollywood. Honest!   Make all of this what you will, but you might want to check out our book and film recommendations for 2011 this coming January (2012) in our forthcoming Spring edition and then later in the year make your own judgement as to the Hugo nominations.   'Nuff said.

The 2011 Locus Awards have been presented for 2010 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. Winners were announced during the US Science Fiction Awards Weekend in Seattle, 24th-26th June 2011. This year the principal category wins went to:-
          Science Fiction Novel: Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis
          Fantasy Novel: Kraken by China Miéville
          Best First Novel: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
Full details of all the category wins were announced in the August edition of Locus as well as at Locus online and specifically here.
Comment. The Locus Best SF Novel winner was also nominated for a Hugo earlier this summer. Alas it came out in the UK only this summer and so we have only just reviewed it). In addition to arguably being a better reflection of the state of N. American genre writing than the Hugos, the Locus Awards score hugely over the Hugo Award for 'Science Fiction achievement' by having a separate fantasy category. (No Harry Potter as 'science fiction achievement' Hugo nonsense for Locus who firmly let fantasy have its own pedestal.) Kraken is a worthy fantasy win and we were please to cite it back in January as one of the Best fantasy and horror books of 2010.   Incidentally, Britain is the setting for Willis' Blackout/All Clear as it also is for Kraken and, of course, China Miéville is a Brit. So many of us genre folk over here can be quite pleased that we are making a bit of an impression over there… Finally, one of the four runners-up (or is it 'runner-ups?') in the 'Best Non-Fiction' category (which we have not listed) was for Bearings: Reviews 1997-2001 by Gary K. Wolfe from Beccon Publications. And for those of you who were aware of (or who may be casually interested in) our SF2 Concatenation history, both Beccon Publications and ourselves grew out of the BECCON team who put on a biennial series of conventions in the 1980s culminating in the 1987 British national convention, so a tip of the hat to our former colleague Roger at Beccon Publications. So all in all as far as we are concerned, this has been another interesting year for the Locus Awards.

The 2011 Nebula Awards (for 2010 works) were presented at the end of May in Washington. The Nebulas are run by the SF Writers of America (SFWA) and are voted on by its members. The principal wins were:-
          Novel: Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Spectra US (this only came out in June 2011 in Britain from Gollancz))
          Ray Bradbury Award (for film): Inception
Comment: Blackout/All Clear back at Easter was nominated for a Hugo due to its N. American edition as neither were out over here (Europe) at that time. Meanwhile we at SF2 Concatenation at the beginning of this year (2011) cited Inception as one of the best SF films of 2010 and then at Easter it too was nominated for a Hugo which it then won (see above).

The 2011 Australian Aurealis Awards have been given for 2010 works. The winners of the principal categories were:-
          Best SF Novel - Transformation Space by Marianne de Pierres
          Best SF Short Story - 'The Heart of a Mouse' by K. J. Bishop
          Best Horror Novel - Madigan Mine, by Kirstyn McDermott
          Best Horror Short Story - 'The Fear' by Richard Harland The Aurealis is judged by a panel. The award was established in 1995 by Chimaera Publications, the publishers of Australia's Aurealis magazine, to recognise the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror. Details of all categories here.

The Ditmar Awards were presented at Swancon 36/Natcon 50 – the Australian national convention. The category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Power and Majesty by Tansy Rayner Roberts
          Best Novella or Novelette: 'The Company Articles of Edward Teach' by Thoraiya Dyer
          Best Short Story (tie): 'All the Love in the World' by Cat Sparks
          Best Short Story (tie): 'She Said' by Kirstyn McDermott
          Best Collected Work: Sprawl by ed. Alisa Krasnostein
          Best Artwork: The Lost Thing a short film by Andrew Ruhemann & Shaun Tan
          Best Fan Writer: Alexandra Pierce for her body of work for Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus
          Best Fan Artist: Amanda Rainey
          Best Fan Publication in Any Medium: Galactic Suburbia podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayer Roberts, & Alex Pierce
          Best Achievement: Alisa Krasnostein et al for Snapshot 2010
          Best New Talent: Thoraiya Dyer
The Ditmars are voted on by those attending the Australian national convention.   Of note, Grant Watson was nominated for the above 'Best Achievement' category for his organising of the 'Media Stream' for Aussiecon 4. Actually this was the film programme and not television as the term 'media' suggests in Britain. His nomination was hugely deserved as for the past 15 years few Worldcons have even had a half-decent film programme. Much criticism was levelled (arguably understandably) at many aspects of Aussiecon's organization but the film programme did work particularly well and was exceptional in having the best coverage of international cinematic SF and fantasy at a Worldcon for many years. This truly deserves a special mention and future Worldcon organisers would benefit from following Grant Watson's lead. +++ Last year's Ditmar and other Australian Awards are here.

Canada's Prix Aurora's for Best Canadian French language book has been announced. The winner was La Tueuse de Dragons [The Dragon Slayer] by Héloïse Côté.

Ukraine's Portal Awards were presented at the Portal SF convention in Pecherska Lavra in Kiev. The winners were:-
          Long Form: Ostromov or Wozard's Apprentice by Dmitry Bykov
          Intermediate Form: Time of the Jabberwocky
          Short Form: 'Anthem for the Departed' by Yulia Zonis
          Non-Fiction: Herbert Wells by Maxim Chertanov
          Best Article: 'Inside Out' by Omri Ronen
          Vladimir Savchenko Award: Discovery of Oneself (USSRtm) by Shamil Idiatullin,
                                               and Cloud-Disperser by Dara Korniy
          Best Ukrainian Language Book: Spellbound Musicians by Halyna Pagutyak
          Best Translated Book: Star Dust (illustrated edition) by Neil Gaiman and Charles Wess
          Solar Machine Award: the Editorial Board of Novy Mir mainstream literary magazine
          Special Award: The Book and Printing Museum of Ukraine.

Ukraine's Manticore Awards were presented at the Carpathian Manticore International SF Festival in Ivano-Frankivsk region. The winners were:-
          Large Iron Manticore: Flowers for the Goddess Makosha by Volodymyr Venglovsky
          Iron Manticore: Wizard's Failure by Kostyantyn Savitsky
                                along with
                                Universe Truth by Vladyslav Ivchenko
                                and
                                Humans Like Figs by Pavlina Prishlyuk
          Golden Manticore Contest Awards: There were 10 cited entries.

Various Russian awards were presented at the 18th Aelita convention in Yeksterinburg, Urals. (You can only win an Aelita once.) The principal award wins were:-
          Aelita Award: Henry Lion Oldie and also Eugene Voiskunski
          Debut Award: Vitaly Aboyan for War Tree
          Yefremov Prize: Boris Strugatsky
Comment: Henry Lion Oldie has won numerous Russian Sov Blok nations' and Eastern European SF awards over the years.

Russia's Bronze Snail Awards were presented at Interpresscon 22 in St Petersburg. The Bronze Snails are judged by Russian SF grandmaster author Boris Strugatsky. The 2011 wins were:-
          Novel: Tim Skorenko for The Garden of Hieronymus Bosch
          Novella: Alexey Lukyanov for 'High Pressure'
          Short Story: Maria Galina for 'Welcome to the wonderful country!'
          Non-Fiction SF: Sergei Pereslegin for Return to the Stars: Science Fiction and Evolution
And of course also at Interpresscon 22 there were…

The 18th Interpresscon Awards were presented at Interpresscon 22 in St Petersburg. The award is determined by convention attendee vote. The principal wins were:-
          Novel: Marina and Sergey Dyachenko for Migrant
          Debut Novel: Nick Batha for Island Paradise
          Non-Fiction SF/SF Journalism: Dmitry Lukin for 'Fantasy Vs. Bollitra: Peace is Inevitable'
Comment: Marina and Sergey Dyachenko have won numerous Russian Sov Blok nations' and Eastern European SF awards over the years.

Romania's ARSFAn Awards have been presented. ARSFan is the Association of Romanian Science Fiction (not to be confused with the Society of Romanian Science Fiction & Fantasy). The principal category wins were both ties. This is outcome arises out of the award being judged by a small jury and Romanian SF politics (balancing wins between west and east Romania). The wins were for:-
          Best Book: A tie between SF Doi [SF Two] by Cristian Mihail Teodorescu, and Capela Excomunicatilor [Chapel Excomunicator] by Adrian Buzdugan.
          Best Short Story: A tie between Cetateanul Wells [Citizen Wells] by Silviu Genescu, and Cumania 2010 by Marian Truta.
The winners also each get a cash prize of 500 (New) Lei (L50).

Romania's first Ion Hobana Awards were presented at a colloquium to mark Ion Hobana's memory. About a score attended the gathering in Bucharest. Winners included:-
          Lifetime Achievement: Mircea Oprita
          Best SF Novel: Cristian Mihail Teodorescu for SF Two [SF Doi
          Best Fantasy Novel: Liviu Radu for Lumea lui Waldemar [The World of Waldemar].

New Zealand's Julius Vogel Awards for 2011 were announced at the NZ national convention. The category wins were:-
          Best Novel: The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe
          which tied with…
                          The Questing Road by Lyn McConchie
          Best Juvenile Novel: Summer of Dreaming by Lyn McConchie
          Best Novella / Novellete: A Tale of the Interferers – Hunger For Forbidden Flesh by Paul Haines
          Best Short Story: 'High Tide At Hot Water Beach' by Paul Haines
          Best Collected Work: A Foreign Country: New Zealand Speculative Fiction edited by Anna Caro and Juliet Buchanan
          Best Artwork: 'Tymon’s Flight' cover by Frank Victoria
          Best Dramatic Presentation: This Is Not My Life (Pilot episode)
          which tied with…
                                                Kaitangata Twitch (Pilot episode)
          Best Professional Publication: White Cloud Worlds Anthology edited by Paul Tobin
          Best New Talent: Karen Healey
          Best Fan Writing: Simon Litten for SJV Watch and SFFANZ Reviews
          Best Fan Production: Doctor Who Podcast by Paul Mannering
          Best Fanzine: Novazine by Jacqui Smith
          Fan Writing: Jacqui Smith for Musings From Under The Mountain and Novazine Contributions
          Best Fan Artwork: Gino Moretto for Starship Sofa 150 cover
          Services to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror: Philip Mann
This year there were also 'Special Awards'. These were for:-
          Services to Fandom: Ross Temple
          Services to SF/F/Horror (Speculative Fiction): Simon Litten
The Julius Vogel Award is given to citizens or permanent residents of New Zealand and is voted on by members of the New Zealand National Convention (including this year overseas attendees). The awards are administered by SFFANZ (the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand).   Note: This is Paul Haynes second win in a row for Vogel 'Best Novelette' and Simon Litton's second in a row for fan writing. +++ Last year's Vogels are here.

The 2011 Eurocon Awards were presented at the 33rd Eurocon in Sweden. The winners were:-
          European SF Grandmaster:-
                    Sam Lundwall (Sweden)
          Hall of Fame:-
                    Author: Alastair Reynolds (Great Britain)
                    Promoter: Louis Savy (Great Britain) who tied with Oleg Kolesnikov (Russia)
                    Translator: Attila Németh (Hungary)
                    Magazine: Ubiq (Croatia) who tied with Fantlab.ru (Russia)
                    Publisher: Lenizdat (Russia)
                    Artist: Ivan Mavrovic (Croatia)
                    Fanzine: Parsek (Croatia)
                    Dramatic Presentation: Aniara (Sweden)
          Encouragement Awards:-
                    Jan Polacek (Czech Republic)
                    Maria Ryapolova (Ukraine)
                    Hannu Rajaniemi (Finland/Great Britain)
                    Mariam Petrosyan (Armenia)
                    Tim Skorenko (Belarus)
                    Michal Jedinak (Slovakia)
                    Ákos Kovács (Hungary)
                    Stefana Czeller (Romania)
                    Ivan Kuznetsov (Russia)
          Honorary Award:-
                    Vlado Risa (Czech Republic)
                    Svetlana Bondarenko (Ukraine)
Comment: The Hall of Fame Awards are voted on by national delegates. Two delegates per country are allowed so as to prevent host nation attendees to dominate the vote. The Encouragement Awards tend to go through on the nod unless there is more than one nomination per country.   We are hugely pleased with the results as one of us made nominations and/or made the nomination pitch resulting in four of the above wins. Alastair Reynolds we love and four of us avidly collect his books: we have yet to give him a bad review.   Sam Lundwall was put forward not only because we reckon him to be a good egg but because he really has done so much not just for Swedish SF but European SF. It was great that he won the title of European SF Grandmaster, and on his home turf so that he could attend (ill health has kept him out of the swim for a while).   Hanu Rajaniemi is deserving for his standout debut novel The Quantum Thief that has already received much critical acclaim.   Finally Louis Savy, who promotes SF films from many nations largely through his Sci-Fi London operation, is hugely deserving of the 'Best promoter' award; as often as not the European 'Best SF Promoter' goes to someone who only does work promoting genre works from just one country.   Slightly puzzling was the win for 'Best Magazine' as Fantlab.ru (SF/F Laboratory) is an excellent Russian internet genre resource but it is not an on-line magazine with editions, articles, editorial comment and so forth: instead it is more an internet database profiling authors, listing awards, hosting chat rooms and so forth. Very worthy as Fantlab.ru is, it probably would have been better (certainly more appropriate) if the nomination had been held over to next year with the new best website Eurocon Award category being introduced. Nonetheless, including those not nominated by us, those gaining awards were worthy wins all.

The 2011 Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers' Association was announced mid-summer. The Stoker Awards are given to recognise superior achievement in the field of horror fiction. The various category wins were:-
          Superior Achievement in a Novel: A Dark Matter by Peter Straub
          Superior Achievement in a First Novel: (tie) Black and Orange by Benjamin Kane Ethridge
                                                              and
                                                              Castle of Los Angeles by Lisa Morton
          Superior Achievement in Long Fiction: Invisible Fences by Norman Prentiss
          Superior Achievement in Short Fiction: 'The Folding Man' by Joe R. Lansdale

France's Prix Rosny Aîné 2011 was awarded at the French national convention in Tilf, Belgium. (Yes, it was the French natcon in Belgium.) The winners were:-
          Novel: Les Pilleurs d’Âmes [Pillagers of Souls] by Laurent Whale
          Short story: 'Suivre à Travers le Bleu cet Éclair Puis Cette Ombre' ['Follow Through on that Blue Flash and then the Shadow'] (in Des Nouvelles du Tibbar, Les Moutons Électriques)
The awards are fan voted in two rounds (like the Hugos).

France's Peppins for 2011 were awarded at the French natcon in Tilf. The Golden winner was:-
Title: 'Récit de la saga de Coox Le Bigleux qui, malgré sa jambe de bois et son bras en téflon, et alors qu’il était captif d’un poumon artificiel, triompha des Cent Épreuves et fut le premier empereur cataplexique de la Galaxie'   ['The tale of the saga of Coox Doubleview who, despite his wooden leg and his teflon arm, and though he was locked in a mechanical lung, won the one hundred challenges and became the first cataplectic imperator of the Galaxy'] by Terry Montcalm
Text: 'Je vous préviens,' commença le narrateur, 'c’est un peu tiré par les cheveux…'   ['I have to admit,' the narrator said, 'that it's a bit far-fetched...']
The Peppins are for short short, short stories (less than 300 letters, including title).

The 2011 Prix Imaginales were presented at France's Imaginales, the Festival of imaginary worlds.. The jury decided award winners were:-
          Francophone Novel: Cytheriae [Cytheriae] by Charlotte Bousquet
          Translated Novel: Lamentation [Lamentation] by Ken Scholes
          Juvenile Fiction: Reckless [Reckless] by Cornelia Funke
          Nouvelle: 'London Faerie Blitz' ['Faerie Blitz of London'] by Yohan Vasse
          Prix Spécial du Jury [Jury's Special Prize]: Kadath: Le Guide de la Cité Inconnue [Kadath: The Guide to the Unknown City] by Nicolas Fructus
This is the prize's eighth year.

France's Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire [The Imagination Big Prize] were presented at this year's Les Imaginales in St Malo. The principal award winners were:-
          Francophone Novel: May le Monde [The World May] by Michel Jeury
          Translated Novel: Le Fleuve des Dieux [River of Gods] by Ian McDonald
          Juvenile Fiction: La Douane Volante [Flying Customs] by François Place

Germany's Kurd Lasswitz (Kurd-Laßwitz) Preis will be awarded at Pentacon 2011 in Dresden early in October. The principal category wins are:-
          Best Novel: Walpar Tonnraffir und der Zeigefinger Gottes [Walpar Tonnraffir and God's Index Finger of ] by Uwe Post
          Best Foreign Work: Die Stadt & die Stadt [The City and the City] by China Miéville
          Best Translation: Juliane Gräbener-Müller and Nikolaus Stingl, for the translation of Neal Stephenson's Anathem [Anathem]
Kurd Lasswitz (1848-1910) of whom the German SF excellence awards are named, was a philosopher, historian of science, and SF writer. He kind of holds the same regard in Germany as H. G. Wells does in the British Isles.

The 2011 John W. Campbell Memorial Award and Theodore Sturgeon Award for best science-fiction novel of the year (2010) and best short story have been awarded at this year's Campbell Conference in Lawrence, Kansas (US). (UK author Brian Aldiss and US author – domiciled in Britain – Harrison created the Campbell Award in 1972 and, of course and of interest to science fact & fiction Concateneers, Campbell was a physicist turned SF author.) This year's winners were:-
          John W. Campbell Award: The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
          Theodore Sturgeon Award: 'The Sultan of the Clouds' by Geoffrey A. Landis
Comment: Note: The John W. Campbell Memorial Award (a panel judged award) should not be confused with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New SF writer (that is voted on by those attending the Worldcon); but if you do then fret not you would be in good company as the Kansas University website occasionally gets it wrong. +++ At the beginning of the year (2011) we cited The Dervish House as one of the best SF novels of 2010. +++ He was also one of the Guests of Honour at this year's Eurocon, plus Dervish may be made into a film.

The Stan Lee Awards for comics were presented at Kapow comics convention, London. (Kapow is a commercial venture (non-fan) organised by Brightstar Events.) The Stan Lee Awards have a shortlist selected by a panel and then the finalists are decided by advance attendee registrant vote. The principal category wins were:-
          Best Writer: Grant Morrison
          Best Artist:John Romita Jr.
          Best (comic) Series: The Walking Dead
          Best Superhero or Sci-Fi Movie: Inception
          Best Limited (comic) Series or Story Arc: Batman & Robin: Batman & Robin Must Die
          Best Comic Hero: Batman
          Best TV Show: The Walking Dead

Sturgeon papers find university home. Private letters, manuscripts and other papers by one of the most influential writers of the golden age of science fiction – who is credited with inventing with Leonard Nimoy the 'live long and prosper' Vulcan phrase for Star Trek – has been donated to the University of Kansas (US). The definitive collection of late author Theodore Sturgeon’s books, papers, manuscripts and correspondence are being archived at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at Kansas U., which also is home to the Centre for the Study of Science Fiction. The collection includes: original manuscript and multiple film script treatments of 'More Than Human', Sturgeon’s best-known novel; Sturgeon’s notes and outline for 'Amok Time', one of two Star Trek episodes he wrote; correspondence, story ideas and drafts shared with noted science fiction editors and authors, including John W. Campbell, Robert Heinlein, Edgar Pangborn, Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Gene Roddenberry, and T. H. White.

The 2011 Tähtivaeltaja Award for best science fiction book published in Finnish last year went to Maarit Verronen for her novel Kirkkaan Selkeää [Bright Clear]. This news is nicked from Partial Recall. The Tähtivaeltaja Award is given for a book either originally published in Finnish or translated to Finnish, but this is only the third time a Finnish book has been awarded in its 26-year history. The award is given by the Helsinki Science Fiction Society and is a juried award.

The 2011 Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards (for 2010 works) have been announced. This is a juried award for works translated into English. There are two categories: Long Form and Short Form. In each form the jury has this year additionally given an honourable mention award:-
          Long Form: A Life on Paper: Stories by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud, translated by Edward Gauvin from French.
          Honourable Mention: The Golden Age by Michal Ajvaz, translated by Andrew Oakland from Czech.
          Short Form: 'Elegy for a Young Elk' by Hannu Rajaniemi, translated by Hannu Rajaniemi from the Finnish (Hannu is a Finn living in Britain).
          Honourable Mention: 'Wagtail' by Marketta Niemelä, translated by Liisa Rantalaiho from Finnish.
This is the first year that the Californian-based awards have been presented.

Britain's Eagle Awards for comics were presented in London at the ExCeL Centre. The principal category wins were:-
          Roll of Honour: Dave Gibbons
          Favourite Writer: Grant Morrison
          Favourite Writer/Artist: Mike Mignola
          Favourite Artist: Pencils: J. H. Williams III
          Favourite Artist: Inks: Mike Mignola
          Favourite Artist: Fully-Painted Artwork: J. H. Williams III
          Favourite British Comic– Colour: 2000AD
          Favourite European Comic : Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Darguad/Dark Horse Comics)
Introduced in 1976, the Eagles are the comics industry’s longest established awards (older even than the Eisners in N. America) and are named after the 1950s and '60s comic Eagle whose principal strip was the space opera Dan Dare (think RAF in space). +++ Note: J. H. Williams III last year also won 'Favourite Artist: Fully-Painted Artwork'.   And 2000AD also won the 'Favourite British Comic– Colour' award last year and of course has garnered many 'Eagles' over the years… Splundig!   +++ Also see last year's 2010 Eagle Award principal wins.

The 2010 Eisner Awards (the premiere US comics awards) were presented at the San Diego Comic-Con. The Eisners (named after the comics artist Will Eisner) are juried awards presented for excellence in comic book/graphic novel writing and illustrating. The principal category wins were:-
          Best Single Issue (or One-Shot): Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben
          Best Writer: Joe Hill for Locke & Key
          Best Continuing Series: Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory
          Best Limited Series or Story Arc: Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba
          Best New Series: American Vampire by Scott Snyder, Stephen King, and Rafael Albuquerque
In addition the following deserve a mention for getting multiple Eisner wins: Skottie Young for The Marvelous Land of Oz won both 'Best Penciller/Inker' and 'Best Adaptation from Another Work'   +++ Note: Chew won the 'Best New Series' last year.   +++ For last year's Eisners see last autumn's science fiction news.   +++ For complete Eisner details see: wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Eisner_Awards.

China's Sky Awards have been presented in Shanghai. The winners were:-
          Best Fiction Long Form: Three Body Problem III: Dead End by Liu Cixin
          Best Fiction Short Form: 'Algorithm of Simhuman' by Chi Hui
          Most Popular Translated Fiction: Long Form: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, translated by Hu Yaqian
          Most Popular Translated Fiction: Short Form: 'Turing’s Apples' by Stephen Baxter, translated by Cai Yu
          Special Contribution Award: Liu Cixin – science fiction writer, author of the 'Three Body' trilogy

Second Chinese World Cinema Fiction Prize to Include SF stories. News via China SF Newsletter (www.chinesescifi.org). The Chinese World Cinema Fiction Prize aims to bridge the worlds of Chinese film and fiction. Science fiction has now been included in the scope of the second of these annual awards. SF submissions of between 30,000 and 40,000 traditional Chinese characters are eligible. The first awards were sponsored in Taiwan by BenQ and China Times and were co-sponsored by Southern Weekly on the mainland and Ming Pao in Hong Kong. The winner of the NT$600,000 prize was the mainland post-80s writer Shuang Xuetao for his story 'Flight'. The award's organisers retain the right to adapt winning entries to film. The winners will be announced in March 2012.

New Worlds magazine re-launch! Following an agreement between Daves Dream Company and author Michael Moorcock, the seminal science fiction magazine New Worlds will be re-launched. Michael has also kindly agreed to lend his name to the masthead of the magazine and to contribute editorial pieces. The magazine will appear in both electronic and traditional print on paper formats and be backed up by an extensive website that will feature exclusive editorial features free to all interested readers.   New Worlds was first published in 1946 edited by John Carnell and spanned a number of decades albeit sporadically including with a 12-year hiatus in the middle before resumption in 1991 with the same numbering system. Michael Moorcock was involved as editor for a couple of years from 1967 and again in fanzine format with Michael Moorcock as editor in 1978. In 1991 David Garnett took over with Moorcock advising and this incarnation lasted a few years.   It is anticipated that the new incarnation of the magazine will debut in September/October 2011, initially on a quarterly publishing schedule. Subscribers will receive both the electronic and printed versions of the magazine. Subscription rates and details will appear on www.newworlds.co.uk. This website will be hosted by colleagues from Storm Books, a specialist electronic publications publisher, owned and managed by Phil Ryan, one of the founders of The Big Issue.   +++ Stop Press: Dave Hodson resigns from the New Worlds 'editorial collective'. This was due to 'artistic differences'.   All well and good, but apparently despite resigning Dave continued to receive e-mails from potential contributors and reportedly nobody else from the collective is handling day-to-day matters. This prompted Dave Hodson to send out a circular stating his position and "also ask the remaining members of the editorial collective to send out revised submission guidelines and the like and put a time frame to the project themselves."

New SF Award for deeply weird SF. The DnA (Daves'n'Anarchy) or Gamma Award for deeply weird SF in any medium was launched at this year's UK Eastercon and was created in the memory of the late Paul (Gamma) Gamble. The first winner is for K. W. Jeter's Dr Adder (1984). Future DnAs will honour work from the previous year

John Betancourt of Wildside Press is selling Weird Tales to editor and publisher Marvin Kaye. The last major editorial change was back in 2007. Current editor-in-chief Ann VanderMeer says that Marvin Kaye will take over from Ann and edit the magazine himself. No other members of the current staff will stay on. Ann VanderMeer’s last issue will be #359.

The British Library SF exhibition season was launched at the beginning of the summer. We reported on the exhibition last time and now it will be over in just a few days after we first post this seasonal news page. However back at the beginning of the summer there was a launch reception for those who put the exhibition on as well as for many of the great and good of the Brit SF community. SF authors in the mix included Brian Aldiss, Dave Langford, Paul McAuley, Geoff Ryan, and Ian Whates, there were representatives from groups such as Sci Fi London's Louis Savy, the BSFA and the Clarke (Book) Award.   Baroness Blackstone (British Library Chair Person) gave a welcoming presentation, which was followed by one from China Miéville. China said that he had somewhat revelled in SF being a genre that was not properly recognised by the mainstream arts community, which meant that as one of its adherents he was being a little subversive. However with the British Library hosting this exhibition SF had gained some mainstream recognition. Nonetheless he initially took comfort in the thought that at least the British Library would not do a good job with the exhibition… However now that he had seen the displays he can say that they had done a great job.   Of course the Science Fiction Foundation was the prime force behind compiling much of the material.  SF2 Concatenation was (and a few of its loose associates were) pleased to be able to be at the gathering, not only because it was such a worthy exhibition, or because so many SF folk were there, but because a few of us were members of the Friends of Science Fiction Foundation when, in the second half of the 1990s, the Foundation lost its N E London Polytechnic home before it got relocated to Liverpool University (where it is still based). So much has been achieved over the years, it was a delight to mark this exhibition's opening that had the Foundation at its heart.

DC comics rebrands all its major characters with a fresh start. DC is rebranding 51 of its titles this September with new issue no. 1's. The idea is that each of their superhero characters will have their story presented as if they were much younger but set in the 21st century. Remember Superman originally came out in 1938 and so he would – if not his support characters such as Lois Lane – be really old by now. Ditto Batman came out in 1939. of course there have been some attempts over the years to keep things fresh. For example, Batman has been through three Robins! And then there was that whole load of mish-mash 'Crisis' re-boots in the mid-2000s. Clearly that did not work and, despite the DC (as with Marvel) films doing so well, sales of the comic magazines have been falling. So this latest re-boot is to address all of that and while they are at it DC will make the comics available in electronic format.

Kurt Vonnegut book banned by a Missouri high school. The Republic School District banned Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) following a complaint lodged by local resident Wesley Scroggins. Scroggins, a the Missouri State University associate business professor, called on district officials to stop using textbooks and other materials "that create false conceptions of American history and government or that teach principles contrary to Biblical morality and truth."   Once again… so much for freedom to read in the good old US of A and so-called proverbial 'land of the free'.   However the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library (which has been going less than a year) is providing up to 150 copies to pupils from the school requesting copies. +++ According to the American Library Association, this is not the first time the book has been banned or challenged. In 1973 the book was burned in Drake, North Dakota. Back then Vonnegut said: “All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let’s get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States — and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!”

 

[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 2011

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

Joe Abercrombie braved jet-lag from Brit Cit to L.A. to interview George R. R. Martin for a Book Show special that was broadcast before the Sky Atlantic premiere of the first episode of the television adaptation of Martin's Game of Thrones. The interview's subject matter ranged widely from Martin’s feelings on, and involvement in, the TV adaptation, to his own career including his upbringing and his time spent as a writer in Hollywood, to the historical and literary influences that brought about A Game of Thrones in the first place, to filth, greyness, and moral complexity, to dealing with fans, and fans irate at delays in particular, to his working process and attitudes to fantasy in general... +++ See further down this page -- Game of Thrones renewed.

Iain Banks need not be worried about his backlist sales even though his first 'Culture' novel was published 24 years ago in 1987. As of mid-summer, this title still sells well and this century (past 11 years) in the British Isles this novel alone has seen 82,900 copies bought.

Tony Blair, Her Majesty's former Prime Minister, was asked by The Bookseller for his 'Desert Island Books'. Among them was J. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings which he included 'for the scale and majesty of the invention and the details of the imaginary world'. He drew parallels between the conflict in the book and that with the Nazis.

Edgar Rice Burroughs is to have a 'Forever' postage stamp in the US next year (2012). The stamp features an artist's rendition of the author's profile (based on a photo taken by the author's son in 1934) together with the figure of Tarzan hanging from a creeper.

Bernard Cribbins, News nicked from Ansible (and its correspondent Jessica Yates) of the British actor whose genre roles include The Mouse on the Moon (1963), Daleks Invasion Earth: 2150 AD (1966), The Wombles (1973-1975 as narrator) and several recent Doctor Who episodes, received an OBE in the Queen's Birthday honours in June. So did Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden, whose best-known SF parts were in The Goodies and bits of I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again. Who could forget 'Professor Prune and the Electric Time-Trousers'?

Neil Gaiman was back in May branded a 'thief' by Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean! A charge to which Neil gave an understandably bemused reaction. What happened was that last year Neil was asked to speak at a library and charged his commercial rate US$45,000 (or £27,000 in real money). The library agreed, Neil went to speak, the library paid his fee and Neil, after the booking agent's fee subtracted, donated it (US$$33,600), plus a little bit more, to charities… All well and good, but then this US politician decides that he does not like the library spending US$45k on a prestigious speaker and so in a leap of logic (that we bears-of-little-brain at SF2 Concatenation cannot quite follow) Matt Dean reportedly brands Neil a 'thief'. So, so much for the US being the land of the free, capitalism, the free market, truth, justice and apple pie. (OK, they can have the apple pie as long as it is served with cold Devon clotted cream or hot custard.) The good news is that arguably more US citizens demonstrably like Neil and/or his work than hate it otherwise Neil's output would not sell as well as it does. Meanwhile Neil himself has become a bit of a fan of Matt Dean's mother (who chastised Matt Dean for name-calling).

Robert Holdstock's memorial fund has managed to secure through the Woodland Trust three acres of Victory Wood near Canterbury lying between the ancient Blean and Ellenden woodlands. This woodland is permanently and exclusively dedicated to Rob. There is also have a bench and oak sapling dedicated to him: a perfect place to sit and read Mythago Wood.

Terry Gilliam has appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. His record choices were:-
          1. Elvis Presley 'Heartbreak Hotel'
          2. Jiminy Cricket & chorus with Orchestra 'When You Wish Upon a Star'
          3. Tom Waits 'Alice'
          4. Parno Graszt 'Odi Phenel Cino Savo / Azt Mondja A Kisfiam'
          5. The Beatles 'Taxman'
          6. Van Dyke Parks 'Opportunity for Two'
          7. Castaway's (Terry's) favourite, Richard Strauss 'Ein Heldenleben' – final movement
          8. Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff 'The Isle of the Dead'

Ian McDonald has sold a film rights option for The Dervish House to Warp films. At the beginning of the year (2011) we cited The Dervish House as one of the best SF novels of 2010. +++ He was also one of the Guests of Honour at this year's Eurocon and this year Campbell Award winner.

China Mielville was on the summer season's last programme of BBC Radio 4's Start the Week. He was talking about is latest novel Embassytown. China has always been interested in the crossover between language and theology: symbolism, the possibility of lying and so forth. One of his co-panellists saw connections with the themes of the 3rd and 4th books of Gulliver's Travels and China acknowledged this, adding that another influence was the works of Ian Watson. The BBC panel moderator noted that readers have to work at the start of reading Embassytown because of the new terms and strange situation. China concurred saying that part of the draw of speculative fiction is the possibility to estrange the reader: de-familiarisation is a technique to distance the reader from the everyday to enable new perceptions of the same.

John Landis, the US film director, is in London for a book signing of his new offering, Monsters in the Movies: 100 Years of Cinematic Nightmares. The signing takes place from 18.00 on 11th October at Forbidden Planet bookshop, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8JR. Copies are £24.99. A must for fantastic film buffs.

Stephen King's radio station WZON 103.1 FM and 620 AM will now have a new, left-leaning morning talk show which will offer a counterbalance to the proliferation of conservative US American radio propaganda. "We're going to try to be informative. We're going to be provocative. We're going to be amusing, and we're going to try to be a positive community force," Stephen King said.

Bella Pagan has left as editor of Little Brown at Orbit in order to become a senior editor at Tor at Pan MacMillan.

Hannu Rajaniemi becomes Gollancz's best-selling debut author for several years. In just 10 months The Quantum Thief sold 21,000 copies. In reviewing The Quantum Thief for SF2 Concatenation, the month of the book's launch, Jonathan was predictive in saying, "This one is surely destined to be short-listed for the BSFA as well as Locus (best debut) awards". Hannu has since garnered acclaim winning a Eurocon 'Encouragement' Award.

Robert Rankin will be signing his new book The Mechanical Messiah and Other Marvels of the Modern Age on Saturday 24th September, at 13.00, at the Forbidden Planet bookshop, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8JR.

Alastair Reynolds has been commissioned to write a new past Doctor Who adventure called Harvest of Time, featuring both the Third Doctor and the Master; set on both 20th century Earth and far into the future, it will see the duo battling to save the universe – and facing the ultimate moral crisis. Harvest of Time is due to be released in hardback in 2013.   +++ Alastair has also just won a Eurocon Award.

J. K. Rowling fires the agent that discovered her and then hires that agent's former business partner. News of the split first came to light when the 71-year-old agent, Christopher Little, was not at from the final Harry Potter film's premiere in London. Reportedly J. K. Rowling did not herself tell Christopher Little that she was changing agent but Little's business partner and company lawyer Neil Blair did it in a letter that he was leaving to start his own agency and taking J. K. Rowling with him.   Originally, the agency had only been going for about six years when the Harry Potter manuscript (MS) arrived in the post. Rowling, then a poor 29-year-old single mother, thought the name Christopher Little was a portent because it sounded like a character from a children's book. Yet her MS went straight into the reject basket, but the office manager (who apparently liked the look of its distinctive binding) rescued it, read the synopsis, and showed it to Little. He sold it to Bloomsbury for just £2,500, but later reaped huge rewards from international rights.   +++ Plagiarism – The seven-year attempt by Paul Allen, the trustee of the estate of Adrian Jacobs, to win the case against Rowling and her publisher Bloomsbury for plagiarism of Jacobs' The Adventures of Willy the Wizard has failed by default as The Court of Appeal had ordered the estate to pay the first stage of £1.5m as security and this was not forthcoming from Jacobs' estate. Previously a New York district judge ruled "the contrast between the total concept and feel of the works [was] so stark" that "any serious comparison of the two strains credulity". +++   Ancestry. – J. K. Rowling is the subject of BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? ancestry TV series. And we learn among other things that her great-grandfather, Louis Volant, won the Crois de Guerre in World War I.   +++ High jinks with Publish America -- see the item in the book news subsection below.

Stephanie Swainston has cancelled her contract with Gollancz as she is fed up with the isolation that comes with being a writer. She is to re-train as a chemistry A-level (pre-university) chemistry teacher. Her novels to date include The Modern World and The Year of our War.

David (former Dr Who) Tennant and Catherine (former Dr Who assistant) Tate have been appearing together on stage in a London West End production of Willy Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing. Earlier, both appeared on BBC's Graham Norton's chat show prior to the summer launch of their Shakespearian performances. Catherine Tate had just come back from L.A. in the US where nobody knew her, so she found it liberating walking down the street as a normal person. Until, that is, she bumped into a group of Brit exchange students. They asked if they could take pictures of her, to which she agreed. And then a crowd of US Americans started to form and take pictures. One Yank woman kept shouting, 'Who is she? Who is she?' Another shouted back, 'I don't know but I am not going to be the only one going home from this without a picture…"

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 2011

FILM NEWS

Film props are not works of art a landmark copyright ruling dictates. Star Wars prop designer's rights upheld against Lucasfilm. As we previously reported, Lucasfilm sued for US$20m (£12.5m) in 2004 and now seeks this sum in the British courts, arguing the Star Wars storm-trooper helmet, British freelance prop designer Andrew Ainsworth did not hold the intellectual property rights and had no right to sell them as the props were works of art with copyright protection lasting 70 years: a point upheld by a US court. But the ruling could not be enforced because the designer held no assets in the US, so the case moved to Britain. There the High Court and Court of Appeal ruled that these creations are mere props – copyright-protected for 15 years, making it OK for Ainsworth to produce and sell copies. Lucasfilm then appealed but has just lost. The case has cost Andrew Ainsworth almost £700,000 (US$1.12m) fighting the case. He has had bailiffs at his door demanding £12m (~US$20m). The ruling is doubly a landmark in that it now enables US copyright cases to be held in the UK. Its affects will be far-reaching.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon was the summer's British Isles (UK and Ireland) science fiction box office hit. It took £10.7m (US$17m) on its opening weekend. It is the third film in the franchise starring Shia LaBeouf, and is directed by Michael Bay. It is the first Transformers film to be released in 3D. +++ Green Lantern's opening weekend in the British Isles took less than a quarter than that with £2.4m… and then word spread as to the film's (ahem) quality.

New retro Brit independent space opera film On the Shoulder of Giants is coming out. Billed in part as a homage to the classic film Forbidden Planet, On the Shoulder of Giants concerns the investigatory mission to find out what happened to the first prototype faster-than-light/superluminal spacecraft mission 15 years earlier. The mission locates the crashed prototype on Theta-25L, a desolate planet 45,000 light years from Earth. Whilst attempting to contact the prototype the rescue mission's captain is killed. This untimely tragedy imposes the captaincy on Commander Jane Altaire. After fifteen years on Theta-25L, genius who developed the star drive (Zepethar) is the sole survivor of the prototype's crew. When Commander Altaire begins searching for answers to the prototype’s demise, it soon becomes apparent both Zepethar and Theta-25L harbour terrifying secrets…

New Ridley Scott film, Prometheus, will have Geiger designs. It has been two years since we reported the rumours about a possible new Alien film (back in autumn 2009) from Ridley Scott and then a year later the word was that it would be part of an Alien prequel trilogy. Now a press release from the studio affirms that Scott's new film Prometheus will be hard SF involving scientists on an exoplanet, and with some of the photos released having HRG stamped suggests that that H. R Geiger (the conceptual image designer of the original Alien alien) will be involved. However, coyly there is no actual mention of an alien.   We think this lack of mention is smoke an mirrors and that either way Prometheus is bound to be worth checking out. Ridley Scott himself in an tele-linked interview at Comicon said that his aim was to scare the living @hit out of you. The word is that Prometheus' story is related to Scott's Alien and there is a fleeting glimpse of what appears to be an alien nymph in the just-released trailer and also, equally fleeting, the adult at its end. Stills and artwork released indicate that Prometheus has a Blade Runner look. Hopes are high in fantastic film fan circles. – See the short video clip section below for a link to the trailer.

New Daredevil film mooted. Now the Ben Affleck Daredevil film did accrue some arguably unfair criticism: it was actually quite a reasonable go at bringing the Marvel comics character to the screen. Apparently there are now plans for a new Daredevil film based on the recent comic series by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. David (30 Days of Night) Slade is apparently going to direct it.

World War Z seems to be progressing again. Back in the Spring there were concerns that World War Z might not be made. However it now seems that turning Max Brook's zombie apocalypse novel into a film is once more back on. The latest news is that Ed Harris and Matthew Fox have joined the cast… Late news in below…

World War Z filming now taking place in Scotland. This Paramount film is being shot on location in Scotland with a cast and crew of 1,200! In the late summer shooting took place in Grangemouth (west of Edinburgh) and Glasgow. Other location filming has taken place in Valletta in Malta and in Cornwall, England.

Green Lantern sequel green lit? Well that is the word from Hollywood, despite what you might have thought of this summer's offering.

In Time is a forthcoming SF film about the commercial ability of life extension. In the not-too-distant future, time has become the ultimate currency. You can stop aging at 25 by having cell death genes switched off. But there's a catch: you are genetically-engineered to live only one more year, unless you can buy your way out of it. The rich 'earn' decades at a time, becoming essentially immortal '25-year olds', while the rest beg, borrow or steal enough hours to make it through the day. The film is to star Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde, Alex Pettyfer and Cillian Murphy. It is written and directed by Andrew Niccol who was involved with GATTACA and The Truman Show.

Keep your eye out for a film called Nightfall. This is not to be confused with Asimov's brilliant short story, and certainly not the dire film of the same. Instead the forthcoming Nightfall from Tempest Entertainment. Filmed as if by a video camcorder, it recounts a War of the Worlds type invasion. The pre-release teaser trailer looks interesting.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!: Doctor Who: 47 Years in 6 Minutes as concisely narrated by a couple of US fans – See the video here.

Film clip download tip!: Fireball XL5 in CGI colour as constructed as a tribute to the 1960's Gerry Anderson series – See the video here.

Film clip download tip!: Short time travel film (10 mins). It is a typical supper for a Jewish family, except that the young son has developed a time machine and Nazi agents have managed to join the family so as to get at the machine to go back in time to enable Hitler to win WWII – See the video here.

Film clip download tip!: Frank (Dune) Herbert mini-interview. Here is a blast from the past, a short one-and-a-half minute clip of the great man. See the video here.

Film clip download tip!: The John Carter of Mars film based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs' 'Barsoom' novels (1918 – 1940) and is due out March 2012.   War-weary, former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins).   In a world on the brink of collapse, John Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom (Mars) and its people rests in his hands.   See the video of the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: The trailer to the Alien prequel film Prometheus.   -- See the video of the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Do you or your partner have Princess Leia fancy dress, costume-play problems?   Kaley Cuoco addresses an important issue affecting cosplay girls: Slave Leia fatigue. With so many choices available to women who cosplay, there is no reason everyone needs to be Slave Leia. By acting now, we can save Slave Leia for when we really need her.   See the video here.

Film clip download tip!: Russia's Star Vors cooperative SF film is looking for funds to complete the project.   Our Boris has now sent us this second clip. The film seems to be a musical pastiche (or at least as musical as Flash ahhh aaah) and similarly have a comic-strip space opera style.   See the video of the clip here.

Film clip download tip!: Russia's short film Forever After is due out in a few months time   Our Boris has also sent us the link for this trailer which has subtitles for those of you not fluent in Ruskie.   Is it us, or is the brief superficial glimpse of this Russian offering reminiscent of Clifford D. Simak's 1979 novel The Visitors?   See the video of the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Harrison Ford may have left his Star Wars acting behind him, but his past still haunts him and he has a feud to settle.   See the 1 minute clip here.

48-hour Challenge film clips!: SCI-FI LONDON's 48-HOUR FILM CHALLENGE 2011. The best of the (very) short-film competition are now available to view. SFL's 48 Hour Challenge has been going for a few years now. The deal is this. Budding film makers are given a line of dialogue and told a film prop which they must then both include in a short film that has to be made over the next 48-hours. To date, preceding years have seen over 180 films completed in previous competitions. This year alone (2011) the number of entries was 174! (Interest in this competition is growing in leaps and bounds. So expect great things from this competition in the future.)   As for the overall winner, well they got a real film deal with Vertigo Films.
          Below we have the winners. Bear in mind that the judges were looking for 'film-making' talent and not just a focus on the SFnal plot. So, as we are SF fans we have included a couple of other of the 48-hour challenge offerings whose SF-take we like irrespective of the production quality. Meanwhile before we give you the links, we would like to offer our personal advice to budding film-makers, and that is to pay as much attention to the sound quality as you do to the film visual.   Now, enjoy the following very short films…:-

The 48-Hour SF Film Challenge 2011 winner The Intention of Miles – A man is chased. Why?   See the video here.

A 48-Hour SF Film Challenge (runner-up) Sit in Silence – A young lady out walking sees a bomb go off.   See the video here.

A 48-Hour SF Film Challenge (runner-up) No Escape – Those in a city cannot get away from flying droids.   See the video here.

A 48-Hour SF Film Challenge offering (we - SF2 Concatenation - liked for its SFnal storyline) Absence – Who is interested in matter teleportation experiments?   See the video here.

A 48-Hour SF Film Challenge offering (that we - SF2 Concatenation - liked) Thought Provoking – Why was he being chased? Why did he have a number tattooed on his hand? And who was it who was chasing him?   See the video here.

A 48-Hour SF Film Challenge offering (that we - SF2 Concatenation - liked) 2 Years of Summer – War takes its toll. But what if there was a way out?   See the video here.

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

For a reminder of the top films in 2010/11 (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 2011 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 2011

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

Gollancz SF top 10 announced. As part of Gollancz's 50th anniversary celebrations it held a vote earlier this year of some of its backlist. The results are in and the winners – all of which are being reprinted – are:-
          The Book of the New Sun – Gene Wolfe
          Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes
          I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
          Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep – Philip K. Dick
          Dune – Frank Herbert
          The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
          Eric – Terry Pratchett
          The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
          Hyperion – Dan Simmons
          The Time Machine – H. G. Wells

Gollancz, has launched the World’s largest digital SF & Fantasy library, the SF Gateway, which will make thousands of out-of-print titles by classic genre authors available as e-Books.   Building on the success of Gollancz’s Masterworks series, the SF Gateway will launch this Autumn with more than a thousand titles by close to a hundred authors. It hopes to build to 3,000 titles by the end of 2012, and 5,000 or more by 2014.   The SF Gateway will be closely integrated with the recently announced new online edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, which provides an independent and definitive reference source of information on the authors and books.   Direct links between the Encyclopedia and the Gateway will provide easy access to e-Book editions, for sale through all major online retailers.   The SF Gateway was conceived by Orion Deputy CEO, Publisher and BNF Malcolm Edwards, who commented: “It’s clear that publishers need to show that they can respond to the challenges and opportunities of the digital revolution imaginatively, particularly when it comes to backlist."   www.sfgateway.com.

PublishAmerica attracts ire of the Edinburgh Book festival and J. K. Rowling. PublishAmerica is a vanity press for desperately aspiring authors. Their latest scam jape has been to circulate their authors with an offer to include their books in a catalogue that would be at the festival. This prompted the Edinburgh Festival to issue a statement that it has no relationship with print-on-demand publisher Publish America and was (by implication) not involved in any catalogue distribution or endorsement. Furthermore, PublishAmerica said that it would also present (again for a fee) short messages (50 – 100 words) from its 'authors' to J. K. Rowling at the Festival. J. K. Rowling has denied any arrangement. This resulted in Publish America getting all in a huff about the Rowling team response threatening legal action. What is rather odd is that, despite the reputation PublishAmerica has attracted over the years, it is still going…

Angry Robot and Brilliance Audio join for audio editions. SF/F publisher Angry Robot has signed an exclusive licensing deal with the renowned Brilliance Audio. The US-based company will create and release audio editions of the imprint’s titles, including new releases and selected backlist. Recordings will be available for the retail and library markets on compact discs, MP3-formatted compact discs, and as files for download worldwide. Brilliance Audio, a Michigan-based audiobook publisher that is part of the Amazon.com group of companies, publishes more than 600 audiobook titles annually. They are a leading publisher of audio Science Fiction and Fantasy and have published audio versions of a number of Hugo and Nebula nominees and winners.

Angry Robot create social space for fan works related to their books with Project WorldBuilder. Fans have a long and proud tradition of creating their own works based on their favourite stories, but have traditionally found resistance from the publishers or authors of the original tales. With WorldBuilder, Angry Robot are reaching out to the fan creators, and encouraging them to create derivative works based on specific Angry Robot novels. The first novel to feature will be Adam Christopher’s noir-fantasy thriller, Empire State, and additional works will be folded into the project over time. The WorldBuilder project will allow fan creators to feature their fiction, art, songs, photography, and other creations and collect them on a central, dedicated website. The best of the fan creations will also be featured in anthologies, and the creators will be paid for their work. A number of specially commissioned works will also feature. See www.WorldBuilderOnline.com (we would have provided a hard link but for some reason the whole site is behind a registration wall which we suspect is because it is still being finalised so check out angryrobotbooks.com for news instead).

Infinity Plus have produced a free anthology: Infinities by Infinity Plus and friends. Now we do not normally cover e-books (as a volunteer site we are stretched as it is) but Infinities is free and so we thought you might like to check it out. It is an anthology; a sampler; and a catalogue for works published by Infinity Plus and their friends in the writing world, including: Eric Brown, John Grant, Anna Tambour, Keith Brooke, Garry Kilworth, Iain Rowan, Kaitlin Queen, Linda Nagata, Scott Nicholson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Steven Savile. It is available in the following formats: Kindle, e-pub, and PDF.

H&H Books have released their first e-book anthology. Now we do not normally plug e-books, but as we reported at the beginning of the year, all H&H proceeds go to charity! Voices from the Past is edited by Scott Harrison and Lee Harris and features writers such as Alastair Reynolds, George Mann, and Paul Cornell. The anthology is available at Amazon for Kindle users, and at the publisher's own website at www.HHBooks.org with all proceeds benefiting Great Ormond Street children's hospital. With prices starting at just 99p/US$1.59, the publisher is confident that it will find an appreciative readership. Editor Scott Harrison said: "We are absolutely delighted by the response - both from our authors, who all gave their time and stories free of charge, and from our early readers, who have already been telling us how much they are enjoying the stories." Scott's co-editor, Lee Harris, added: "We created two versions of the eBook - one at 99p/US$1.59 and one at £2.99/US$4.00. They're identical in terms of content, but most readers are buying the more expensive version, purely to ensure the charity gets as much as possible. With 28 new pieces of flash fiction, even the higher-priced e-book is a bargain!"

Prometheus Books’ Pyr (science fiction/fantasy) Imprint enters the juvenile/Young Adult (YA) genre fiction market. In November 2011, Pyr will introduce its first book specifically for the juvenile/ Young Adult market. Two additional YA titles follow, in December 2011 and February 2012. Prometheus Books, an independent publisher of thoughtful nonfiction based in Amherst, New York, launched the Pyr imprint in March 2005. The first Pyr Young Adult title (in November) will be Lightbringer, the debut novel from K. D. McEntire. For ages twelve and up, Lightbringer is a YA urban fantasy/paranormal romance set in a world a breath away from our own. Similar in tone to Tithe by Holly Black and Unleashed by Kristopher Reisz, Lightbringer tiptoes down the line between love and horror with the tale of a young girl discovering love with a long-dead ghost.   Then in December, one of the most critically acclaimed Pyr authors—the Hugo and Philip K. Dick award–winning Ian McDonald – makes his YA debut with the sci-fi adventure Planesrunner. The first part of the new Everness series for ages twelve and up, Planesrunner features a fourteen-year-old boy searching for his kidnapped father across the many parallel worlds of the multiverse. Cory Doctorow (Little Brother, For the Win) calls it 'smashing adventure fiction that spans the multiverse without ever losing its cool or its sense of style. Ian McDonald is one of the greats of science fiction, and his young adult debut is everything you could hope for: romantic, action packed, wildly imaginative, and full of heart.'   Lastly, Ari Marmell’s Thief’s Covenant (A Widdershins Adventure), for readers twelve and up, will be published in February 2012. It features a young, female orphan-turned-thief making her way in a dangerous city with help from Olgun, a foreign god who, having lost his followers, has taken up residence in her head. The Pyr YA titles will be released initially in hardcover and in e-book formats. YA is expected eventually to account for a third of the Pyr list.

Latest e-book news is that Random House see 1,000% growth in e-book sales! Random's e-book sales the first quarter of 2011 were ten times the same period in 2010. This prompted its Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Ian Hudson, to speculate that e-books could form 15% of Britain's mass market sales in 2012.

Quercus gained the title of 'Best Publisher of the Year' at the 2011 Book Industry Awards. Quercus' turnover grew by 100% last year! It will be interesting to see what happens next year when Quercus' new SF imprint has its first birthday.   Meanwhile Faber & Faber picked up two Book Industry Awards: For 'Best Independent' and the 'Future Digital Book Innovation Prize', F&F have a spiffing I-Pad app for his e-book on the solar system.

Waterstones has been sold by HMV and bought for £53m. The new owner is Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut (who also owns a 6% stake in HMV the record shop chain). Waterstones, in common with many bookshops, is in the middle of a bad economic time. Recently several Waterstones branches closed and the chain owes some £170m. After three months of not renewing stock, new books were ordered for the stores shelves in July.

The fight against British library closures ramps up. The Gloucestershire & Somerset campaigns have filed local Council plans, as have campaigners in the Isles of Wight and Brent. Each legal case costs around £30,000 but some campaigners are seeking legal aid.   According to the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act requires local Councils to provide a meaningful library service.   Additionally Gloucester apparently made budgetary decisions to close some 14 (out of 26) libraries before the end of the consultation period. Reportedly, they also only printed 2,000 consultation questionnaires and buried the on-line version deep within their website.

Science fiction, comics and fantasy are the 4th most popular genres bought by Brits to take on holiday. The data comes from Lastminute.com who analysed the requests from over 10,000 customers. Beating science fiction/fantasy/comics were crime and thrillers which were the most popular genres. Coming second and third were biographies and humour. SF and fantasy in turn beat chick-lit/romance as well as spiritual and finally x-rated reads.

More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in January 2012. 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 2011

TV NEWS

The TV series of George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones books has been renewed after single episode showing. HBO unusually renewed the series for a second season after the screening of only the first episode. The reason was that that premiere episode ('Winter is Coming') got such a good audience: it garnered .2 million viewers for its first airing, and a total of 4.2 million over three telecasts on Sunday night. On the Monday HBO decided to renew the series for a second season. In the British Isles the premiere episode screening on Sky Atlantic attracted 750,000 which was a premiere record for that channel. As with season one, season two will have 10 episodes and will probably cover the second novel in Martin’s series, A Clash of Kings.   +++ Game of Thrones scripts stolen from US mail. The scripts were autographed by writers David Benioff & D. B. Weiss, and director Alan Taylor so as to be auctioned for charity and were for episodes nine and ten of season one, 'Baelor' and 'Fire and Blood'. The US post office delivered the envelope in a plastic baggie with a pre-printed note apologizing for the 'damage'. But this was no error in handling as the envelope was torn open at one end, and both scripts were gone, though covering letter remained. Someone in the US Post Office (Martin believes the package made it across from Belfast relatively unscathed) recognised their value and removed them. If any of the scripts appear for sale could you please notify George R. R. Martin.

Dr Who's Daleks are on gardening leave. Who writer and executive producer, Steven Moffat, has announced that the Daleks will not be appearing in the current or next season of Dr Who. Though they are the Doctor's most popular foe, they have been defeated so often that Moffat is concerned that their impact on viewers is wearing thin. This news follows on from the 2010 season (Matt Smith's first) of Dr Who which saw the Daleks being unnecessarily re-designed, being slightly bigger and with a front bust.

BBC confirms Matt Smith to remain as Dr Who for another season. The Beeb Beeb Ceeb made the official announcement mid-June. However we told you the unofficial news back in April. (See how we keep you lovely folk ahead of the game.)

The series Eureka has been cancelled by SyFy. The US series concerns a town that is a community serving a giant research think tank stroke high-tech industrial park. And so with geniuses coming up with anti gravity, time travel and so forth, there is much to keep the town's policeman busy.   The stories for the last season (its fourth) were admittedly flagging. A fifth season is in production (to be aired in 2012) and a small 6-episode sixth season was planned to wrap up all the loose ends but SyFy have just cut this to the understandable annoyance of the series' followers.   The way Hollywood treat series is increasingly despicable. Long story arcs hold a series together, so when series become popular padding is added to cover extra seasons. Then when series lose ratings the programme is axed without proper wrapping up of story lines. All in all this is a recipe for disaster. Popular series need longer gaps between seasons to allow for the generation of new story lines and to give actors the time to do a film or a play elsewhere to broaden their CV to prepare them for the day when their show ends (which will come). Series also need fair notice of being axed so as to wrap up story lines. Only those series that never at all attracted a significant audience need to be perfunctorily chopped… Well Hollywood ever learn? Meanwhile, SyFy as a channel is – for this and other reasons – losing the plot and any meaningful following they have within the broader genre community.

 

[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 2011

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

This year's Worldcon (2011) was held in Reno (USA) at the end of August. By mid convention there were 3,880 attending (some 400 of which were walk-ins) out of 5,420 totally registered. All the usual goings on. The programme was up to scratch and unlike some Worldcons (Glasgow 2005 and Melbourne 2010 being among the recent culprits) this year there were very few programme changes which goes to show that it can be done. In fact there were so few changes that the convention daily newsletter took to listing who was dropping out of panels (though the panels themselves ran with remaining panellists): not sure whether this was a name and shame exercise or whether there was so little news.
          This year did not have a solid film programme (unlike last year's good one at Melbourne (2010)) but Renovation did have a great fan film festival as one of the programme streams, and also good anime stream, so the con was half way there on the oft neglected cinematic front (see the Hugo nominations for 'Best Dramatic Presentation' and this year's Hugo Awards comment (above)to gauge the cinematic literacy of Worldcon regulars).
          For science fact and science fiction Concateneers there was a fair selection on the science programme stream with items on: 'Designing Believable Physics', 'Green Chemistry', 'Teaching SF: Scientific Literacy', and some items that if nothing else had the debatable: such as 'Teaching SF: Stellar Evolution/Alien Design', 'Have We Reached the Ecological Tipping Point?', 'When Faith and Science Meet', 'Reproductive Technology – Medical Ethics and the Law', 'Astrobiology and the Fermi Paradox'.   Other science items on the programme included: 'Infections and Viruses that Could Doom Humankind', 'Space and the Biological Economy', 'Space Telescopes: a Progress Report', 'The Role of the Science Advisor', 'Anticipatory Anthropology - Study of Future Humans', 'SIGMA - The Science Fiction Think Tank', 'Laser Launch Systems', 'Applied Quantum Mechanics', 'The Year in Physics and Astronomy', 'Can Computers Think?', 'Near-Earth Objects', 'Time Paradox', 'String Theory Frontiers'. Unusual for a Worldcon was a good few of these were on the 'academic' track (most previous Worldcons have an academic track that is purely 'arts literature') which raised the question as to whether this year science contributions were lending credibility to the ditsy, or….
          Then there were the parties which included a good showing by the London 2014 Worldcon bid and Texas 2013.   And of course there were the Hugo Award wins (see earlier item). News throughout the con came via a very ably produced twice daily newsletter the only curious thing about which was it regularly reminded people to have two meals a day, six hours sleep and a shower… Is Worldcon fandom that out of touch with personal biological maintenance?
          High points, many but notably there was the second ever performance of the late Roger Zelazny's play Godson and a screening with an introduction by director John Allen Simon of his film Radio Free Albemuth based on the Philip Dick novel.   All in all after the organisational disaster that was Melbourne it was back to business as usual.   You can follow this link to see highlights of the Renovation Worldcon opening ceremony. Additional vids on YouTube can be found from the username 'RenovationSF' and pictures on Flickr with the tag '#RenoSF'.

Worldcon 2012 – Chicon 7. No news received further to last season.

Texas, US, won the right to host the Worldcon in 2013. (Well we did say last time it was likely.) It is back to San Antonio where we were in 1997. Guests of Honour will be: Ellen Datlow, James Gunn, Willie Siros, Norman Spinrad and Darrell K. Sweet, with Toastmaster: Paul Cornell, and Special Guests: Leslie Fish and Joe R. Lansdale.

London is bidding for the Worldcon 2014. And of course we have reported on this London 2014 Worldcon bid before. No new news this season as with three years to go to 2014 it is understandably quiet. But there is bound to be more news this coming year prior to the site selection bid vote (at the 2012 Worldcon).   What we can say (assuming a win as the bid is unopposed) is that a couple of us on the Concatenation team will be showing a small group of fans visiting Britain around London on the Wednesday before the first day of the convention (Thursday). So if you want to join us get in touch if you are from overseas and going to the Worldcon. Meanwhile, already our SF2 Concatenation London staff have had folk asking to stay so we are already booked up on that front.

Washington State (USA) bid to host the 2015 Worldcon. Spokane is the proposed venue and it is in the State of Washington on the US west coast (not the city Washington DC). Spokane is the second largest city in Washington and the largest between Seattle and Minneapolis. Spokane offers the kinds of attractions and amenities you would expect from a city the size of Seattle but without all the rain and traffic. The average number of sunny days in Spokane is 260. Known for its untamed beauty and fantastic outdoor activities just minutes away, Spokane’s motto is: 'Near nature, near perfect'. The city is very walkable: there are plenty of green spaces and short city blocks (averaging 280 feet) so the walk from the hotels and convention centre to shopping and dining will not be hard on the average SF fan. There are many restaurants and art galleries, and shops open all weekend throughout the nearby area. The Spokane Convention Centre and the nearby hotels will be a perfect Worldcon venue. The facilities sit along the banks of the beautiful Spokane river with stunning views of the 100 acre Riverfront Park. The hotels are varied with some that are very unique, they are comfortable and welcoming and all within an easy walk of the convention centre. Each of the facilities we are speaking with want to be our main hotel and are willing to allow our parties in their suites and rooms. The hotels are connected by walkways through the park or the sky tunnel that by-passes the need to walk on the street level. As for the convention venue itself, with final renovations completed to the facility in May 2007, the Spokane Convention Centre offers over 320,000 square feet of user-friendly meeting space. The facility provides 23 state of the art meeting/breakout rooms, a 25,310 square foot, fully finished ballroom and a junior ballroom that is 13,730 square feet. For outdoor events or receptions for up to 500 participants, the Convention Centre also offers the roof deck, which provides a panoramic view of the river and Riverfront Park. Spokane has an International airport, daily Amtrak service and bus service and they are right on one of the nation’s major interstate highways. For further details visit http://spokanein2015.org/Index.html.

Another bid for Worldcon 2015 -- Orlando, Florida -- but we know little else not having been press-released.

Other future Worldcon bids. The 2012 Worldcon in Chicago sees the vote for the Worldcon in 2014 but as currently the only bid is for London (see also above), and as Britain hosts above-average Worldcons (even if the current generation of Brits can't seem to run a Worldcon without a plethora of programme changes), that bid is likely to win and be a good con.   Further away there are bids for Kansas City, US, for 2016.   Japan in 2017 and New Zealand in 2020 that was launched at the 2010 NZ national convention.

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…

The 33rd European SF Convention (Eurocon) was held over the summer in Stockholm, Sweden. It was also the Swedish National Science Fiction Convention, Swecon, for 2011. The event saw a three parallel stream programme of talks, panels, readings, etc. There were also a few films in the mix including the Swedish premiere of the US film Lunapolis by Matthew Avant (which explains that something found on the Moon was the reason the US stopped their explorations with Apollo).   The Swedes had chosen the Royal Institute of Technology university as the venue. Being a student building it was a little drab, but then that probably kept the costs down for the organizing committee. However it was clean and perfectly functional: in fact ideal for a convention with bar and cafeteria areas immediately off the two main halls, and a decent outdoor terrace off the bar for drinking and smoking that was much used when sunny (there were only a couple of showers). Additionally there was a smaller room for a third programme stream, green room, ops, children's area and a large ground room that was used for the European SF business meetings and Saturday-night parties. With over 500 registered prior to the event and some 745 having attended by the convention's end, the venue's size just about coped with what turned out to be Sweden's largest convention to date.
          The Guests of Honour included: John-Henri Holmberg the Swedish author and SF translator; Ian MacDonald as non-hosting European GoH (fresh from the success of his The Dervish House that we cited as one of the best SF works of last year); Elizabeth Bear as non-European Guest. The Fan GoH was Jukka Halme from Finland. A late surprise (always welcome) was the new writer Hanu Rajaniemi as a Special Guest: not only is his debut novel, The Quantum Thief, stunning (think Greg Egan with a quantum Pentium 3,000 chip) but as a Finn resident in Britain he was appropriately international for a Eurocon.
          As this is the Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation a number of you will be pleased to hear that there were a few science programme items, including: 'Space is Big, Planets are Small', 'World of Robots – What's the Holdup?'; 'The Dawn of the Cyborg has Arrived'; a lecture on 'Dark Matter', lectures on 'Exobiology 2.0'' and 'Bioastronomy'' by some miscreant who also gave a flash 5-minute PowerPoint introduction to the panel on 'A World After Oil'.
          There is a separate more detailed convention report here, but the overall feeling from many was that we really want the Swedes to run another Eurocon in a few year's time and not the typical decade between most nations' turn.

Eurocon 2012 and 34th SFeraKon will be held in Croatia's capital, Zagreb 26th to 29th April 2012. Since our last Eurocon 2012 news report a more complete Guest of Honour line-up has been announced: Tim Powers, Charlie Stross and the Croatian author Darko Macan. Furthermore, they are hoping to host guests from other European countries as well. Eurocon 2012 is hosted by 34th SFeraKon, the largest Croatian convention that is usually around one thousand members. They have pre-booked rooms at Hotel International across the street from the venue, and at a very good hostel run by the Hostelling Association at the city centre, near the main railway station. walking from the city centre to the con takes about half an hour (obviously it is quicker by public transport and those details will be on the con website soon). Kontakt will be a four-day convention, Thursday to Sunday, but the first day's programming will be somewhat lighter, though they plan an opening party in the evening. See our earlier report for further details, or (if you are viewing this before the end of 2012) on our convention diary page that has a link to their con.

The 2013 Eurocon will be held in Kiev, the Ukraine. It was only back in 2006 that the Ukraine last held the Eurocon, and this is a short time in Eurocon terms. The 2006 Kiev Eurocon had its successes which included having two Government Ministers at the opening ceremony as well as a post-convention trip to Chernobyl and a programme with a good balance of items in either Russian or English. Having said that, the 2006 programme did fail to integrate the western and eastern European elements: few panels had both western and eastern European participants and western and eastern European solo items were not translated into the other's language (the notable exception being the – non-solo – panel on Chernobyl apart from of course the opening and closing ceremonies). The organisers need to grasp the concept of actively bringing Europe together and not presenting European SF and fandom in a stand-alone silo style. But this point can easily be address by a competent committee and the 2006 Kiev Eurocon was the most successful eastern European convention of the 21st century's first decade and so things could possibly go rather well for Kiev in 2013… The venue for 2013 is the same as for 2006: a sports training college with lecture halls and a main theatre style main hall. The 2006 student translator service was invaluable (especially given the programme), so if this is repeated non-Russian/Ukrainian foreign visitors should have no worries. One of the hotels for foreign visitors is literally next door.   Kiev's Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monastery are 'must see'.

Ireland and Romania have rival bids for the 2014 Eurocon. For those into Eurocon fandom this is going to be a fascinating contest. Western Romania organised a stunningly brilliant Eurocon in 1994 (with a multi-streamed, multi-lingual, multinational panel, and translated solo talks) in a beautiful city, whereas Eastern Romania gave us a far smaller, single programmed affair on a camp site in 2001.
          Ireland won the bid to hold the Eurocon in 1997 and then forgot it was a Eurocon with no mainland European guests or programme participants (or European SF programming with arguably the sole exception of a panel on translating). Since then they have bid twice to hold a Eurocon and each time lost because they were unable to answer the question as to why they wanted to hold a Eurocon and not a normal national Irish convention or what European elements they were going to include.
          Jump forward to today and we have two bids for the 2014 Eurocon both from teams who are Eurocon novices. Both bids have their advantages and both their disadvantages. Ireland wants to hold their convention (which will happen anyway irrespective of whether or not it will be a Eurocon) the weekend after the proposed 2014 London Worldcon. This will no doubt attract many N. Americans to stay over and so do two British Isles conventions for the price of one transatlantic flight, but will equally put off mainland European fans who do not have a transatlantic flight cost to offset and who may not be able to afford the extra travel and hotel. Ireland therefore will have the difficult task of showcasing European SF without many mainland European fans there who will have gone to the preceding London Worldcon instead: Ireland will have the numbers but not the mainland Europeans.   Conversely Romania in Eastern Europe held earlier in the year (April/May) will attract Eastern European fans and can act as a promotional springboard for August's London Worldcon. However the Romanian team are even less versed in international SF conventions that than the Irish team (who have at least gone to a few). What the Romanian team do have going for them is that they have established a very active SF group that organises regional events within Romania, integrates both western and eastern Romania (trust us this is a considerable feat), and which has a very good internet presence.   In short the bidding session at the 2012 European SF Society (ESFS) business meeting could well be fascinating with the only danger being that the pros and cons of both bids are so fine, and both teams so inexperienced in the ways of Eurocon, that we could end up with a poor outcome. Consequently, both bidding teams really need to decide exactly what sort of convention they will be running, work hard on their preparations and then make a very professional presentations to ESFS. Time will tell.

Links to current/forthcoming 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 2011

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

Matrix the British SF Association's (BSFA) news and reviews magazine, has ceased publishing. The BSFA has been in trouble for a number of years. Indeed Concatenation takes no pleasure in reminding that, following a 1986 Novacon panel on the association, we conducted a straw poll of some Eastercon fans on the BSFA for an article in our first (print) issue nearly a quarter of a century ago in 1987.   Quite simply the BSFA has not been keeping up with the times and does not appeal to younger fans: all a little strange for purported followers of a genre that explores new horizons, cultures, technology etc. However, at last it seems as if the BSFA are beginning to realise the score. Their on-line announcement says it all ("http://www.bsfa.co.uk/MatrixNews/tabid/108/smid/551/ArticleID/262/reftab/81/Default.aspx" ). Of course Matrix is only one aspect of the BSFA, the question remains as to whether those who can see the writing on the wall can galvanise enough of the membership to completely revamp the association?

The 2011 UK Eastercon was held next to the Birmingham NEC. This venue was last used by the UK national convention way back in 1987 at (and for) which SF2 Concatenation was launched. Since then the best part of a quarter of a century has passed and the hotel has changed and no longer has a purpose-built cinema and has become rather expensive.   Some 855 attended and the programme was divided into four principal parallel streams with three or four supporting streams of workshops, gaming and other peripheria. There was not as much science this year over the four days. Science items were on: Asteroids, Space Over Time, Medical Horror Stories, Real World Cyberwar, Skylon: The New British Spaceplane, Error correction, Sphere packing & abstract algebra, and (appropriately with artist David Hardy as a GoH) Space Art v. SF art as well as the now usual Eastercon Young Science Lecture. So there were a couple of items for scientists into SF each day.   The hotel's bar and food prices (not to mention car parking prices which was free when we ran ours back in 1987) were off-putting and some even took the short 10 minute rail journey into Birmingham rather than stay in the hotel for their evening meal: apparently the money-grubbing hotel altered the wording of their contract with the convention after it was signed (so always keep a signed copy of the contract with you) and this caused a temporary VAT (tax) problem, which means that if the Eastercon does go backto the NEC Hilton in the near future (now unlikely) then the committee should not trust the current Hilton Metropole managerial staff.   Conversely, the breakfasts were good (apparently the halibut was excellent according to one report we received). The convention manfully avoided a number of small disasters including their tech team saving the day by finding a workaround for a malfunctioning digibox with only 15 seconds to go before the broadcast of Dr Who. However climate control was a bit off with parts of the hotel rather chilly and other parts rather hot. One success was the Real Ale bar (with real cider). The only really unforgivable mistakes were the programme timetable changes: a problem that many (but fortunately not all) conventions have. +++ Awards presented included the BSFA Award we just sneaked in last time and the new DnA award.

The 2012 British Eastercon will Olympus in London and likely to have a broader programme, hence appeal to more of Britain's SF clans. The last time the 2012 cadre of conrunners ran an Eastercon was for Odyssey 2010 at which 1,301 attended (52% more than 2011 reported above). Previous Olympus 2012 report. Having said all that, they have this time round been quieter than usual. Some of them are associated with the 2014 London Worldcon bid so maybe this is occupying their time?

The 2013 British Eastercon currently did not have a team bidding to run it when this year's (2011) Eastercon was held. This does occasionally happen and usually some group steps in the year before it is due. However there is a risk that a team with duff proposals (such as happened a few years ago with a proposed return to theft-risk perception Adelphi combined with children's fantasy writers as guests) resulting in insufficient registrations and an emergency bail-out team).   The problem Eastercon has is that 2014 will in all likely see a British Worldcon so tying up nearly all the worthy Brit conrunners 2012-4.   Since then there have been two bids announced for 2013 which will necessitate a vote at the 2012 Eastercon's business meeting. The prospective bids for 2013 are for EightSquaredCon and Concordia. No news yet as to Concordia, but 82con is for Bradford and is chaired by Juliet E McKenna. Its theme is decidedly catch-all temporal, being: 'Past Times and Other Worlds – Alternate Presents – and Possible Futures, Near and Far'. With Simon Bradshaw heading up programming, there could well be a solid science component and hard SF edge to the programme which contrasts neatly to the forthcoming Olympus 2012 Eastercon and its main fantasy grandmaster guest George R. R. Martin.

Eastercon 2014: a bid called Satellite 4 has been announced for 2014 in Glasgow. The Satellite team have run two smaller regional conventions to date in 2007 and 2009 and plan to run another in 2012.   The Satellite 4 bid (if successful) will have the unenviable task of running an Eastercon in a Worldcon year (assuming the London 2014 Worldcon bid wins). Unenviable because the organiser will not know whether the hype of the forthcoming Worldcon will attract more than usual to the Eastercon or whether some regulars will stay away so as to reserve their money for Worldcon spend later in the year. Our take, for what it is worth (some of us having run an Eastercon in the Worldcon year of 1987) is that if the organisers promote the event in advance with the local press they will attract a good local crowd of potential newcomers to British fandom. (Previous Glasgow Eastercons have run successful SF short story competitions in advance of the Eastercon with the winner announced at the Eastercon.) Furthermore if the Satellite 4 team let the prospective London 2014 team know that they are doing this then London 2014 may run promotional events at Satellite 4 so adding to the gaiety. Some potential there.

The 38th French national convention (natcon) was held in Tilf in Belgium. (The French occasionally hold their natcon outside France and once held it in Canada.) Of note there was a public tribute was given to Alain le Bussy, with an official of the town, and his son Olivier. Alain was a prolific Belgian SF author and a key contributor to the French SF community.   Also at the convention the annual prizes for the Prix Rosny and the Peppin.

FantasyCon 2011 has announced a further Guest of Honour: Joe Abercrombie. Fantasycon 2011 will be held over the weekend of 30th September to 2nd October 2011 at the Royal Albion Hotel, Brighton, Great Britain. he is the author of a number of fantasy novels. The Blade Itself has been published in over twenty countries. Its sequels, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument Of Kings, followed in 2007 and 2008. Best Served Cold, a stand-alone book set in the same world, was published in 2009, and a second stand-alone, The Heroes, in 2010, when it made no. 3 on the Sunday Times bestseller list. Joe Abercrombie joins existing Guests of Honour Gwyneth Jones (Ann Halam), John Ajvide Lindqvist, and Peter Atkins, Special Guest is Brian Aldiss, and Mistress of Ceremonies Sarah Pinborough.

Festival of Fantastic Films, Manchester announces new Guests of Honour. In addition to previously announced Tower Of Evil, Frankenstein Created Woman and TV's Yes Minister actor Derek Fowlds, actor Robin Askwith and director Johnny Legend. Also attending will be film producer Richard Gordon and Fest regular director Norman J. Warren. The fest will have a main programme of interviews and fantastic films (horror, fantasy and SF), a second programme of old greats and older overlooked works (all rarely seen these days) and a third programme of more recent independents as well as amateur shorts. The convention is small which lends it an intimate atmosphere and has been going for 21 years. Date: 21st – 23rd October 2011.

Australia to hold classic fantastic film fest – Con9 From Outer Space. being held 14 – 15th July 2012, Con 9 will delight fans of classic fantastic films who enjoy offerings such as Forbidden Planet and The Day the Earth Stood Still. It will celebrate the Golden Age of fantastic films and radio. There will be 2 parallel programme streams as well as a fan fiction competition, short film competition, displays, and giveaways. In short, it will be a bit like the Britain's Festival of Fantastic Films. The event will be held in the Amora Hotel Riverwalk, Melbourne, Victoria. Details at   www.con9fromouterspace.com

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 2011

NET WATCH

James Patrick Kelly's Strangeways is a new e-book 'zine. It is available on via Kindle as well as Nook. Each issue contains reprints of two of his stories and two essays together with some bonus material. Number one includes his multiple-award-losing novelette 'Plus or Minus' and 'The Propagation of Light in a Vacuum'. There is also an essay introducing the 'zine and another discussing our chances of reaching the stars. The cover art is by John Picacio – revised from the art that graced the December 2010 Asimov's. Issue two has a time travel theme and includes his 1990 Hugo-winner '10^16to 1' and another quirky short, 'Unique Visitors'… Brave of the author, or a sign of his own quirkiness, to name his e-zine after a prison!

Antipodean SF, the long-running Australian speculative fiction webzine, has started a weekly radio show and podcast. This news comes courtesy of the Australian Bullsheet The show and podcast features the flash fiction stories published therein, along with various segments. Listen to the show at the website, and find past shows archived at http://antisf.libsyn.com.

PayPal is suing Google. Claims that the internet search giant stole its technology for turning smart-phones into digital wallets. PayPal (owned by e-Bay) alleges that Google obtained trade secrets from Osama Bedier, a former PayPal executive who is now Google's vice president of payments. The lawsuit came hours after Google unveiled its plans to allow people to pay for shopping with their mobiles.

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

Mobile phones even more vulnerable to hacking. A distinct proportion of the population are adverse to having a mobile phone on the grounds of privacy (not wanting to contacted all the time): after all the 21st century should not be the time of Big Brother. However it has now been shown that mobile phones have another privacy problem: keeping personal phone-calls private. Only this time it does not involve using a scanner but remoter hacking into personal phone's themselves. . The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is the dominant cellular phone technology, used in billions of handsets around the world. Much of it was developed in the 1980s and it is now vulnerable to 21st century hackers. Using the free software (firmware) used by Motorola phones, Karsten Nohl and Sylvain Munaut were able to deduce the mathematical algorithm behind the encryption process used by base stations to identify a particular handset. They can now to locate a handset, track its movements from a distance of more than 500m and record all the calls made on it. About a quarter of current mobile handsets are open to this particular flaw. While Nahl and Munaut are not going public with exactly how they do it, they warn that it is simply a matter of time for others duplicate their work. Meanwhile mobile users can use encryption apps to hinder eavesdropping.

 

[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 2011

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

Electrons are balls say British researchers. Researchers from Imperial College London have found that the electron is really round; by 'really' round read 'very' round (Hudson et al, Nature vol.473, p493-496).   It is well established that an electron has a magnetic moment (you can consider it as a tiny bar magnet with a north and a south end) and will be affected by a magnetic field. But does it have an electric dipole moment (as if it were a battery with a +ve and a –ve end)? Using nothing more than a couple of electric field plates charged with a radio frequency, and ablation laser and a couple of fluorescence detectors, and so forth, the researchers at London SW7 have discovered that any electric dipole an electron has is very small, almost zero and less than the equipment can detect i.e. less than 10 x10-28 ecm. All of which means the electron is very round. And so an electron seems to be a particle that has mass and charge but neither size nor structure, and yet, seemingly paradoxically, it has a well-defined orientation and so 'point' in a direction in space… So why all the fuss? Well SF2 Concatenation's physicist keeps on telling us (see our long-term predictions to 2030) that there is something wrong with the standard model of physics. For there to be more matter than anti-matter in our universe (there is because all we see is leftover matter from the Big Bang) some physicists would like the electron to have an electric dipole. Indeed extensions to, and variations of, the standard model (e.g. supersymmetry) that are needed to explain some such exotic aspects of the universe require the electron to have an electric dipole (and so not be round). That the electron does not have an electric dipole is good news for the standard model even if it does leave us dashed puzzled regarding some of the big questions of space, time and stuff (matter).

Antimatter's 5,800 fold increase in time being held. At the beginning of the year (2011) we reported that anti-matter created and held at Europe's CERN for a fraction of a second. Now comes the news (from Nature Physics) that anti-hydrogen has been held for 1,000 seconds. This means that we can now begin to study antimatter and see how it compares with matter… Study that involves great care and some protection: a sturdy pair of gloves is probably in order.

First commercial quantum computer sold. D-Wave Systems, of Burnaby in British Columbia, have just sold a quantum computer to Lockheed Martin. However, arguably appropriately just as nobody can by definition know how a quantum computer computes a particular problem, nobody is quite sure why the quantum computer works, but work it does!   There are stil sceptics but Lockheed reviewed the product carefully. For the physicists amongst you, there is a suggestion by some that it might be using quantum discord.

A new microwave ion trap has tremendous potential for quantum computing. It provides a more stable environment preserving trapped entangled ion pairs in a chip embedded microwave guide. And its cheap too. The research was published in two papers (Nature vol 476, p181 and 185).

People are using their memory less as internet search engines and PCs take the strain. A Columbia University team have conducted a number of experiments. In one, participants were given pieces of information to type into a computer. Half were informed that the computer would retain the information and the other half that it would be erased. Participants "did not make the effort to remember when they thought they could later look up the trivia statements they had read," the researchers reported. In another experiment, when participants were given information and folder names in which the info was saved, they were better remembering the folder names than the information. The results of four studies suggest that when faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers and that when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it. The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves. (Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1207745.)

 

[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 2011

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

Earth has a Trojan asteroid companion. Co-rotating about the Sun principally around the Trojan point 60º ahead of Earth (mainly at L4 but also part of its time at L3)a new body, 2010 TK7 has been discovered by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) team. Co-orbiting asteroids have been found with Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune, but not (until now) Earth due to visual proximity to solar glare. 2010 TK7 is several hundred metres in diameter.  +++ Note: 2010 TK7 is the first Earth companion co-rotating about the Sun discovered. Conversely, the 3.1 mile (5 km) diameter Cruithne, discovered in 1986, is a pseudo-horseshoe orbiter whose orbit about the Sun is roughly same distance to the Sun as the Earth's but offset and more eccentric. Cruithne's orbit is stable and resonant with Earth's (so no chance of a collision as determined by several million year orbit simulations) and approaches Earth each November by (7,800,000 miles or 30 times the Earth-Moon separation (12,500,000 km)). As viewed from the Earth (due to the Earth's own motion about the Sun) Cruithne has an orbit that 'appears' shaped like a horseshoe (and not an ellipse which it truly is).

New Pluto moon discovered. Currently known as P4 it is just 8 – 21 miles (13 – 34 kilometres) across, smaller than Nix and Hydra discovered using the Hubble space telescope in 2005. Pluto by contrast has a diameter of 1,440 miles (2,300 km) and Charon 750 miles (1,200 km).

India space success at last with multiple satellite launch. The success was welcome following December's rocket explosion. The principal satellite was Resourcesat-2, that will study the impact of humans on the Earth's resources. India is hoping to send its first manned flight into space in 2016. It already has become the fourth country to land a probe on the Moon - after America, Russia and Japan – with its Chandrayaan ('moon craft') probe.

NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter is launched. The US$1.1 billion (£0.69 bn) mission will orbit Jupiter in a highly elliptical way and look for water vapour and signs of a solid planetary core.

NASA's space shuttle programme ends with Atlantic flight. After a programme spanning three decades and 135 flights, the US loses capability to take humans into space… For the time being that is… (See the following item).

NASA chooses 'Orion' as next deep space manned craft. The Orion design originally came out of former president George Bush's US$9 billion Constellation programme to return to the Moon but was cancelled by President Obama following the 2009 financial crash. However, some US$5 billion has apparently already been spent developing it.   The 23 tonne Orion Multi-Purpose Crew vehicle (MPCV) has 690 cubic feet (19.5 cubic metres) of which 300 ft3 (9 m3) hold the crew. It can be used for missions up to 21 days. Obama wants NASA to visit an asteroid in the 2020s and (optimistically) perhaps go to Mars in the 2030s. On missions such as Mars that are longer than 21 days, another living module would be attached. Next NASA needs to develop a large launcher. Congress is looking for Orion space trials by 2016, but NASA and others consider that this might be too ambitious. With the retirement of the space shuttles, the US is relying on Russia to get crew to and from the International Space Station. However private companies (such as Space-X and Virgin) are working on developing low Earth orbiters.

Next Martian landing site announced. Mars' Gale Crater will be explored by the Mars lander and rover 'Curiosity'. It will look at drainage channels on the crater's side, a mound of water-related minerals, alluvial deposits on the crater floor and climb the crater's central mountain. The mission will launch later this year. +++ Coincidentally see next news item…

New evidence for very recent water on Mars! The Hi Resolution Imaging Science Expt' (HiRISE) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have detected seasonal streaks on the side of Mars' Newton crater. These are thought to be created by salty water. (Science, vol 333, p740-743.)

Surprisingly black exoplanet discovered. The Jupiter-sized planet is orbiting its star at a distance of just 3.12 million miles (five million km), and is likely to be at a temperature of some 1200C. (For comparison Mercury orbits at 36.2 million miles (57.9 m km). The planet is TrES-2b and is about 750 light-years away, in the Draco constellation. Researchers measure the light from its day and night sides to get its albedo which turned out to be about 1% (reflecting 1% of light shining on it. For comparison Earth's is 37% and Jupiter's 52%. TrES-2b surface therefore is as black or blacker than black paint. It is not just that the planet is failing to reflect light; something must be absorbing it! Chemicals such as gaseous sodium and titanium oxide have been proposed to have this effect. Indeed, while it is possible that there is a huge overabundance of these chemicals, it is probably more likely that there is some other exotic chemistry going on which we have never seen before. +++   Of course being science fictional for a moment, if you had an ultra advanced technology and wanted lots of power, then a Jupiter-sized solar collecting sphere grazing a long-lived sun would just be the ticket and would have a very low albedo so as to absorb the energy. So speculating wildly, could this be our first detection of a Big Dumb Object? (Well, this is wild speculation on our part.)

Neptune completes first year. Neptune takes 164.79 (Earth) years to go around the Sun. This summer (2011) Neptune completed its first orbit around the Sun since it was discovered on 23rd September 1846 by Galle and d'Arrest at the Berlin observatory who looked where J. C. Adams (in England) and U. J. J. Leverrier (in France) calculated it should be from deviations in Uranus' orbit.

Japanese become the third nationality with the most astronaut-days in space. This summer (2011) with a collective 494 days in space the Japanese passed the Germans to take third place as the most human space-faring nationality. France currently comes fifth. The first two places go to Russia (20,817 days in space) and the US (14,820 days) respectively, will remain unassailable for the time being. However launch schedules for the remainder of this decade that China will enter the top 4 human space-going nations as it establishes its own space station.

 

[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 2011

NATURAL SCIENCE

Mid-life brain scans could predict later Alzheimer's. Research reveals that MRI brain scans could identify potential future Alzheimer's patients many years before the onset of symptoms. In Britain 1 in 14 over the age of 65 has Alzheimer's.

Move over Archaeopterix, there's Xiaotingia zhengi the new kid on the block. The Bavarian (Germany) fossil Archaeopterix has long been cited as a missing link between birds and theropod dinosaurs. Now a new fossil has been discovered in western Liaoning China in late Jurassic strata. It is more suited to being classified as a bird-like theropod (the Avialae). Indeed, so much so that Archaeopterix is now reclassified as a 'non-avian' dinosaur part of the group Deinonychosauria.

Genetic studies confirm Neanderthal interbreeding with modern humans. It is barely two years since the Neanderthal genome begun to be mapped. Now we know that outside of Africa modern humans have 4% of their DNA inherited from Neanderthals. This has now been dated to 65 -95 kya (thousand years ago) in the Middle East and 40 kya in western Europe.

A global human population bottleneck is inferred to have taken place some 10,000-60,000 years ago. A pair of researchers (one from Cambridge, Great Britain, and one from Cambridge, US) have inferred from human whole-genome analysis – of three Europeans, a Chinese , a Korean, and two Yorubas – that there was a bottleneck or reduced population of both European and Chinese between 10,000 and 60,000 years ago when both populations were reduced by a factor of around 10. This new analysis used genome-wide diploid sequence data and it broadly seems to confirm conclusions of earlier genome work that looked at selective genotyping data (the way a gene evolves with time) or re-sequencing data (the way genes get jumbled with time).

Potato genome sequenced for the first time. The potato (Solanum tuberosum) is the most important non-grain crop with an annual production of 330 million tons (2009). Outside of its natural range (South America) it has a narrow genetic diversity so making it prone to pathogens and resulting crop failure (cf. the Irish potato famine). The International Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium's results have been compared with that of the grape (Vitis vinifera) genome. Gene mutation can be assumed to take place at a regular rate and so act as a clock. Comparison of syntenic gene frequency reveals peaks that are thought to correspond to speciation events: i) at 185 +/- 55 million years that likely corresponds to the split between monocots and dicots; ii) at somewhere around 65 million years ago that is likely to represent the divergence of rosids (the superorder containing the Rosaceae) and the astrids (the superorder that contains the potato); and iii) around 65 million years ago which could represent when either the potato Solanaceae family (that also includes tomatoes, peppers and tobacco) or the potato genus evolved.   Those into deep time evolution matters will have noted that the latter is around the time of the dinosaur mass extinction and so speculation that the extinction event enabled speciation that led to the evolution of the potato is not unreasonable.

 

[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 2011

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 retrospective British listings in its magazine.

 

Insurrection by Dan Abnett, 2000AD, trdpbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-1-907-99249-0.
This space opera graphic novel is set in the Judge Dredd universe but does not feature Dredd himself. It comes from a spin-off comic strip series in the monthly Judge Dredd Megazine back in 2009. So if you only get the weekly 2000AD you will have missed out on this. The plot is this, Megacity 1 depends on imports from off-world industrial enterprises (both on planets and in space). However MegaCity 1's demands on station K-Alpha 6 are onerous resulting in the maltreatment of uplifted animal workers that is at least unethical and at worst unlawful. So the Judges in charge declare independence. Yet MegaCity 1 needs to control the resources the station provides and sends in a Special Judicial Squad of military Judges… This is space opera with interesting black & white pencil artwork from Colin MacNeil. A must for Judge Dredd fans, but probably not the best place for newcomers to Judge Dredd to start.

The Departure by Neal Asher, Tor, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-70873-0.
In an overpopulated world, control comes from dictators in orbiting fortresses. Billions must die to stabilise matters... Asher's military-ish space opera novels have a steady following.

Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-10096-1.
This is the first British mass-market paperback release of the hard SF, space-opera-ish, latest Greg Bear novel. It came out in America last year and in Britain as a trade paperback this year. Recommended. Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.

The Reapers are Angels by Alden Bell, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-51896-3.
This is the paperback release of last year's hardback. It is a quest novel as our protagonists traverse a post-apocalyptic US, encountering survivors and trying to avoid zombies. Now back in last year we said of the hardback that "this one looks promising". Our Sue also said that this was a "proverbially hard-to-put-down novel". Then at the beginning of this year (2011) we chose this novel as one of the best books of 2010. Subsequently it was short-listed for the Philip K. Dick Award and it won the Alex Award… So do not say that we do not know about what to recommend you lovely folk. This one is nominally written for the juvenile (teenage) market but adults can get off on it too (hence the Alex win). See also the title link for another review than Sue's.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, Century, trdpbk, £11.99. ISBN 978-1-846-05937-7.
It is 2044 and Beddington's 'Perfect Storm' has hit. With peak oil passed, famine is all too commonplace in the overpopulated world. However if you have enough money you can pay to temporarily escape to a virtual utopia. There, if you can solve riddles, it is possible to win prizes of wealth. Yet millions have tried and failed…

The Clockwork Rocket: Orthogonal Book One by Greg Egan, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09512-0.
Carbon-fibre-hard SF. An approaching galaxy will (on a deep time perspective) threatens a world and so a fleet is sent to investigate… even though the journey will take millennia.   Now, if you do not know Egan his SF is the sort of stuff Hanu Rajaniemi might well have written in his undergraduate days… (Oh, how we tease…)

Bringer of Light by Jaine Fenn, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09695-0.
This is Old Age PSIFAn Jaine Fenn's 4th book. It is set in the same universe as the novels of her debut space opera-ish trilogy that began with Principles of Angels.

The Nemesis List by R. J. Frith, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-51997-7.
This is the mass market paperback release of last year's hardback. It's a space opera – click on the title link for a stand-alone review.

Final Days by Gary Gibson, Tor, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-074877-4.
It is the year 2235 and wormholes enable humans to reach the stars. But then a second network left behind by aliens is discovered. But this new wormhole network does not just traverse space but billions of years of time. This is Gibson's 4th book and once again is hard SF space opera. – Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.

Manhattan in Reverse by Peter F. Hamilton, Macmillan, hrdbk, £17.99. 978-0230-75030-2.
This is a collection of his shorts. It has got to be the SF publishing wonder of the year: Hamilton writing short stories! Whatever next…

Roil by Trent Jamieson, Angry Robot, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-66183-8.
This offereing comes from the author of Death Most Definite. The alien creature, the Roil, is destroying a world a city at a time. Before the last falls a small band must confront it. Science fantasy.

11.22.63 by Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton, hrdbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-1-444-72729-6.
Escaping the pressures of modern life, English teacher Jake Epping travels back in time to 1958 a few years before the assassination of JFK. Jake is enjoying his new life but what should he do about the approaching assassination date?   (Should this not have been re-titled 22.11.63 for the British market?)

Autumn by David Moody, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN SBN 978-0-575-09129-0.
Now this is the paperback release of a zombie plague novel originally self-published as an e-book to some success.

The Islanders by Christopher Priest, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07004-2.
An archipelago of islands sits between two warring continents, yet the island's names and exact location seem to change… 'This is so-called 'literary SF', but you all know what is meant by that. Chris Priest has form so this is bound to get a lot of attention. 'Nuff said.

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08889-4.
This is the eagerly awaited mass-market paperback release of last year's trade paperback debut, ultra hard SF novel. If Greg Egan ever outdoes himself then The Quantum Thief could well be the result. Fans of Egan will cream themselves with this one. An absolutely stunning, far future, post-human adventure cum detective story. Though beware of some reviews on the internet that have major spoilers. Ours does not – click on the title link for a stand-alone review.

The Mechanical Messiah and Other Marvels of the Modern Age by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08635-7.
Now if you do not know Rankin but like zany British humour and truly awful puns then this is your chance to get acquainted with the Britain's next favourite comedy SF-fantasy writer after Terry Pratchett. Yes, the plots are chaotic (but often gel towards his books' endings) and, yes, the humour is delightfully dire, but that's all part of Rankin's charm if you are up for it. He is a marmite author (you either love him or hate him and some of us do, while others of us don't). But be warned, if you do end up liking him then you'll be hooked. The good news is that he has over 30 novels under his belt. +++ Robert Rankin is having a London signing of this book late in September (2011).

Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees, Quercus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-1630-4.
And following on from above, is this an echo??? This is the eagerly awaited mass-market paperback release of this spring's trade paperback debut, hard SF cum steampunk novel.   Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.

Blue Earth Remembered by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08827-6.
Another hard SF space opera-ish from the modern master of this sub-genre. This novel traces the story of the Akinya family over 10,000 years starting in a future where Africa is a world power…   Our Tony and Jonathan simply love Reynolds' novels, and even Ian said of Terminal World that it was an "an imaginative, good read". Yet for some reason the honour of a Hugo for 'Best Novel' has eluded him: which probably says more about the Hugo given Reynolds' SF sales than the financial faith Gollancz have in him.

By Light Alone by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISNB 978-0-575-08365-3
It is the future and humans have genetically modified themselves which in turn helps define their place in society. When a young woman arrives at the home of a wealthy couple, they do not know whether the woman's looks are due to expensive GM or something else…

War in Heaven by Gavin Smith, Gollancz, trdpbk, 978-0-575-09471-0.
This is the sequel to the military SF Veteran of which our Ian said was pretty good stuff for a debut and Jonathan rated as a good debut novel.

Superman Grounded: Vol. 1 by J. Michael Straczynski & Eddy Barrows, Titan, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-857-68491-2.
Michael Straczynski is, of course, best known for Babylon V but he was also behind a couple of recently successful Marvel graphic novels (Thor and Spiderman). This time it is DC's Superman that gets his graphic novel treatment. Certainly one to check out.

The Emperor's Knife by Mazarkis Williams, Jo Fletcher Books (Quercus), trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-857-38800-1.
From the little we know, we think this is science fantasy (though could be a fantasy). A plague sweeps the world even threatening the Emperor himself.   This is the first book we have come across from Jo Fletcher's new SF/F imprint.

Daylight on an Iron Mountain by David Wingrove, Corvus, hrdbk, £18.99. ISNB 978-0-857-89345-1.
A welcome reprint.

The Iron Jackal by Chris Wooding, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09807-7
A steampunk epic.

Judge Dredd: Tour of Duty – Mega-City Justice by John Wagner, 2000AD, trdpbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-1-907-907992-0.
This is the sequel to last year's Judge Dredd: Tour of Duty – Backlash rather than the re-packaged volumes that Rebellion impose on our N. American (rebel) colonies. – Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.

Out of the Dark by David Weber, Tor, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-330-53495-6.
Military SF.

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 2011

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09764-3.
This is a third outing (but can be read as a stand-alone) for Peter Grant, London's police wizard detective.

Spell Bound by Kelly Armstrong, Orbit, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49807-2.
Urban fantasy thriller. One for fans of Charlaine Harris.

Bronze Summer – Northland: Book Two by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08927-5.
The Doggerland community is now so rich that it attracts the jealous, aggressive attention of the Greeks. This follows on from Stone Spring, but reading that should not be a prerequisite for getting this one as Baxter is quite good about stand-aloning is series.

The Walking Dead: Book 1 by Jay Bonansinga and Robert Kirkman, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0330-54133-6.
This is the first of three stand-alone novels based on the
Kirkman's Eisner Award-winning graphic novels that have been turned into a TV series. With season 2 of the series coming to BritCit these are bound to do well.

The Measure of Magic by Terry Brooks, Orbit, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49586-6.
This is the second in the 'Legends of the Shannora' sequence. The human and elf survivors of the daemon war seek to find sanctuary.

The Watchtower by Lee Caroll, Bantam Press, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06597-6.
This is the second in the fantasy series with the hunt for a 400 year old vampire.

Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09914-2.
This is a debut novel. Can an overweight, inexperienced girl save a nation from an invading army… Well,…

Red Phoenix by Kylie Chan, Voyager, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-34980-7.
2nd novel in the 'Dark Heavens', Australian modern fantasy series.

Spellbound by Blake Charlton, Harper Voyager, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-007-34929-6.
The rogue wizard, Nicodemus, is back. This follows on from Spellwright.

The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-32199-5.
2nd in the epic fantasy series.

Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09615-8.
A new fantasy with a new take on magic (hearing the power in music) but the Knights of the Church do not like magic, witches, wizards etc. The publishers say that this will appeal to fans of Rothfuss and Abercrombie.)

The Night Eternal by Guillemo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, HarperCollins, hrdbk, £16.99. 978-0-007-31952-7.
Final part of the horror trilogy that started with The Strain and The Fall. The first novel was a bit of a slow-burn but things are now cranking up. A nuclear winter means that days now last an hour long and the surviving humans are enslaved in camps to be harvested by the vampires… The second novel could be read as a stand-alone so maybe newcomers could jump straight into book 3???

The Woman in Silk by R. J. Gadney, Quercus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-38259-7.
Horror, chiller. A soldier returns from Afghanistan to a country estate… but something terrible awaits…

Crimes by Moonlight by Charlaine Harris (ed), Gollancz, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09801-5.
An anthology of urban fantasy shorts (various writers) edited by CH.

Awakening by William Horwood, Macmillan, hrdbk £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-071261-4.
This is the second in the 'Hyddenworld' series and Jack has to decide if he is human or one of the Hydden.

Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49869-0 This is part of the completion of the late Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series.

The Taker by Alma Katsu, Arrow, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-099-55284-6.
A love story that spans the centuries all due to an immortality elixir. This is the first British Isles mass-market paperback edition but earlier editions have apparently sold well.

The Third Section by Jasper Kent, Bantam Press, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-597-06537-2.
This is the third in the historical vampire series that started with the acclaimed Twelve and then Thirteen Years Later. We have now reached 1855 and the action now centres on Sebastopol. A must for those into both vampire stories and historical novels.

Avenger's Angel by Heather Killough-Walden, Headline, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-755-38037-5.
The first in the 'Host of Angels' quartet. Each novel deals with one of the four archangels scouring the Earth for their soulmate.

Blood Ninja II: Lord Oda's Revenge by Nick Lake, Corvus, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-848-87389-6.
It's 16th century Japan and there are vampire Ninjas around.

Prince of Thieves by Mark Lawrence, Harper Voyager, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-007-42329-3.
This is Voyager's lead debut novel of 2011 and the first in a trilogy.

Red Law by James Lovegrove, Solaris, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-907-99204-9.
An urban fantasy. The authorities struggle to keep the vampires in their city ghetto. May appeal to readers of Mike Carey.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-07701-0.
Another romp with the Gentlemen Bastards.

A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin, Harper Voyager, hrdbk, £25. ISBN 978-0-0-00724739-9.
A sword and sorcery with dragons. George R. R. Martin, of course, had a substantial following even before the recent new TV series adaptation of his Game of Thrones which itself (as noted earlier above) has just been renewed. All of which suggests that this new title (especially the paperback release due out early next year) will do very well.

The Bitter Seed of Magic by Suzanne McLeod, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08433-9.

A Blight of Mages by Karen Miller, Orbit, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49786-6.
This is the prequel to An Innocent Mage (and so can be read as a stand-alone).

Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk, Penguin, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-241-95661-8.
The US urban fantasy series now published in the British Isles.

The Ritual by Adam Nevill, Pan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-51497-2.
Four friends and a spooky wood in the sub-arctic, so the last thing they need is to stumble onto a Pagan ceremony… This is the paperback release of the summer's hardback. Adam Nevill is becoming a bit of a rising star what with his Apartment 16 doing so well. So if you are into horror this one may well be worth your making a point of checking out. – Click on the title link for a stand-alone review.

Snuff by Terry Pratchett, Doubleday, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-388-61926-4.
Need we say anything? well this is Terry's 39th 'Discworld' novel and Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City watch is back. This time he is way on his holidays but there is crime there and he is outside of his jurisdiction…

The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-10582-9.
A new 'Mistborn' tale. (Sanderson is known for completing the late Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. (cf. Towers of Midnight above.))

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09744-5.
Magical fantasy.

Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh, Gollancz, £6.99, pbk. 978-0-575-10013-8.
Shape-shifting and psychic goings-on.

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan, Hodder, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-444-70701-4.
A woman recalls her 500 year-long life in flashbacks. Recommended.

Black Butler: Vol. 6 by Yana Toboso, Yen Press, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-316-08430-7.
This graphic novel is set in Victorian times. A young 12-year old prodigy is already a successful in business and loyal to the Queen whom he helps from time to time. He in turn is assisted by a butler who is not human. Together they serve her majesty by investigating the dark places of her capital… This graphic novel has been popular with readers in the American colonies.

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49904-8.
Epic fantasy.

Shadowheart by Tad Williams, Orbit, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49924-6.
The concluding novel in the 'Shadowmarch' sequence.

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 2011

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

In Other Worlds: Science Fiction and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood, Virago, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-1-844-08711-2.
The author of the Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning A Handmaid's Tale reflects on her relationship with SF since her childhood reading in the 1940w. She elucidates the differences between SF proper and speculative fiction, sword and sorcery, fantasy and slipstream… Do you think she will have checked Brave New Worlds first? Only one way to find out.

A Tolkien Tapestry by Co-Blok, Harper Collins, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-007-43798-6.
100 paintings based on The Lord of the Rings by the Dutch author.

The Quantum Universe by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw, Allen Lane, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-846-14432-5.

Survivors: The Animals and Plants That Time Left Behind by Richard Fortey, Harper Press, hrdbk, £25. ISBN 978-0-007-20986-6.
TV programme related.

A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionised the Cosmos, Bloomsbury, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-408-81800-8.

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinov, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-553-81922-9.

The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins and illustrated by Dave Mckean, Bantam Press, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-593-06612-6.
Written for the juvenile (specifically teenage) market.

The Hammer Vault by Marcus hearn, Titan Books, hrdbk, £29.99. ISBN 978-0-857-68117-1.
A review of Hammer Film studios output.

Star Trek Vault by Scott Tipton, Aurum Press, hrdbk, £35. ISBN 978-1-845-13678-9.
An illustrated guide to the various TV series and films. Comes in a slip case.

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 2011

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Conviction by Aaron Allston, Arrow Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-995-04277-3.

Dr Who: The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett, BBC Books, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90243-4.
The Doctor, Amy and Rory tackle the Ice Warriors. (Guess who wins?)

Torchwood: The Man Who Sold The World by Guy Adams, BBC Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90285-4.

Halo: Cryptum by Greg Bear, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-54562-4.
One for fans of the game and film. Greg Bear is a respected SF writer so he is bound to make a fair fist of this.

Falling Skies by Juan Ferreya et al, Dark Horse Comics, pbk, £7.50. ISBN 978-1-595-82737-1.
Graphic novel based on the N. American TV series about a present-day family trying to survive following an alien invasion.

Green Hornet: Year One – Biggest Of All Game by Francesco Francavilla, Dynamite Entertainment, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-606-90216-5.
Graphic novel based on the comic strip that recently has a spin-off film about a Batman-like crime fighting duo (which in the original were descended from the Lone Ranger.

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Ascension by Christie Golden, Century, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-846-05691-8.
The penultimate in the nine-book series.

Star Wars: The Old Republic – Decieved by Paul S. Kemp, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-68092-1.

The Walking Dead Book 1 by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-54133-6.
The novel based on the zombie graphic novel and spin-off TV series.

Torchwood: Long Time Dead by Sarah Pinborough, BBC Books, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90284-7.

Dr Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles by Michael Moorcock, BBC Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90140-6.
A bold eccentric space-opera-ish take on Dr Who by the British science-fantasy grandmaster.

Cowboys and Aliens by Joan D. Vinge, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-447-20211-0.
The novelisation of the summer's block-buster film by the notable US science-fantasy writer.

 

[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 2011

SELECTED RECENT DVD RELEASES

Attack The Block £9.97 from Optimum Home Entertainment.
The budget film recommendation of the season. A Brit independent SF horror comedy gets its first airing on DVD. An alien invasion commences and the first place the aliens happen to land is a tower block of flats in a rundown housing estate in London. Big mistake… Cast includes Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker and Luke Treadaway. Recommended.

Beastly £9.99 from Lions Gate Home Entertainment.
Fantasy romance in which a teenage school girl goth turns a fellow pupil bully into an unattractive creature who is fated to remain that way unless he can get someone to love him for his inner beauty… which of course he then has to cultivate.

The Big Bang Theory - Season 4 £14.99 from Warner Home Video.
Brilliant comedy about a group of young scientist and engineer geeks who are also SF fans, and their beautiful neighbour. If you have missed it so far then it may be you aren't interested (or you have been on a biological field trip deep in some remote tropical rainforest). However the science and SF when mentioned are spot on (though they seem to be more into comics, films and TV SF with no SF book reading which is a little odd: their flat should be lined with shelving...

Chrysalis £5.99 from Scanbox Entertainment.
This 2008 film is based on a Ray Bradbury story and for this alone (though the price is also cheap) it may be worth a view (none of us have seen it). The Earth is dying but scientists are looking for ways to sustain life. When one of them falls ill, and a chrysalis forms around him, a tug of war ensues about the future of the stricken scientist... and ultimately the fate of the Earth.

Doctor Who - Colony in Space £14.99 from 2entertain.
With Jon Pertwee (The Doctor), Roger Delgado (The Master), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart) and Jo Grant (Katy Manning). First broadcast in 1971. This DVD has extras and is digitally remastered.

Doctor Who (New) Series 6 - Part 2 £15.99 from 2entertain.
Season 32 in old money. The latest (embryo Matt Smith) Dr Who.

Green Lantern (Extended Cut) £16.99 from Warner Home Video.
A disappointing adaptation of the DC comic superhero.

H. G. Wells' Island of Lost Souls £11.99 from Eureka Entertainment.
This 1932 film was directed by Erle C. Kenton and starred Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi (yes, can you believe it!) Originally rejected by the BBFC on its original release for being "against nature", this first and best screen adaptation of H. G. Wells The Island of Dr. Moreau is a taboo-flaunting, blood-curdling spectacular, and one of Hollywood's wildest, most notorious, pre-Code pictures. Shipwrecked and adrift, Edward Parker finds himself a guest on Dr. Moreau's island, but quickly discovers the horrifying nature of the doctor's work and the origin of the strange forms inhabiting the isle.

Silent Running Blu Ray, £12.99 from Eureka Entertainment.
Directed by Douglas Turnbull and starring Bruce Dern, this 1971 SF classic concerns a spacecraft containing large ecological pods that houses the species threatened on Earth… Now back in 1988 this film came 8th in Concatenation's all-time favourite film survey of UK Eastercon attendees. Nuff said.

Quatermass And The Pit Blu Ray/DVD double play, £12.99 from Optimum Home Entertainment.
This is the 1967 colour film based on the 1958 -'59 b&w BBC TV series created by Nigel Kneal and this film produced by Christopher Neame. Prof Bernard Quatermass is a scientist who sometimes gets called in to help the government out. In this film an ancient spacecraft is uncovered by works in London's (metro) underground rail. However, though ancient there is still a threat… Classic British media SF and arguably the best of the original Quatermass stories. (However if you can get the TV series (available on VHS video) then do go for that.)

Robotropolis £9.99 from Metrodome Group.
In Europe at least, this 2011 offering is straight-to-DVD (so you will not see it in the cinemas. A group of reporters are covering the unveiling of a new facility that is maintained by robot prototypes. When one of the robots goes haywire, the reporters find themselves not just reporting on the malfunction, but fighting for their lives.

Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) Ltd. Edition Film Cell [Blu-ray] £67.50 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Nine disc set. Includes the non-Hamil/Ford films for those that must have them, otherwise try and haggle to get this for half price.

X-Men: First Class £12.99 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn. This is a prequel taking us back to when Xavier was setting up the X-Men.

See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in 2011, 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 2011

R.I.P.

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

Hans Joachim Alpers , the German genre academic, has died aged 67. He is best known for his Lexicon der Science Fiction Literatur (1980).

Baru Benacerraf, the Venezuelan borne/French living immunologist, has died aged 90. He won the Nobel for Physiology or Medicine in 1980 on the genetic basis of the immune system.

Bill Blackbeard, the US comics scholar and collector, has died aged 84. He will be remembered by US comics aficionados for collecting many newspaper comic strips and saving them on microfilm for posterity.

Jacques Boireau, the French author and fan, has died aged 60. He died back in January but we only learned of this over the summer. He is especially known for Les Années de sable [The Years of San] (1979).

Willard Sterling Boyle, the Canadian physicist and co-inventor of the charge-coupled device, has died aged 87. He is most famous for sharing the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics for 'the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit—the CCD (charge couple device) sensor'. CCDs enable pictures from space be sent back to Earth (as opposed to having to return a chemical film and have it developed): it is the technology that since then is now behind all digital and cell phone cameras.

Derek Bryce-Smith, the British chemist, has died aged 85. His academic work on photochemistry gained much scientific credibility. However to the public he is more known for his campaign of many years on public health grounds to stop lead being added (as an anti-knock agent) to petrol.

Gene Colan, the US comics artist has died aged 84. He is perhaps best known for his work on Marvel's Iron Man, Daredevil and Doctor Strange.

Doug Chaffee, the US sf and space artist, has died aged 75. He worked with NASA and also SFnally on many games franchises including Magic: The Gathering.

Peter Falk, the US actor, has died aged 83. He is most famous, if not loved, for playing the dishevelled detective 'Columbo' in a series of TV films that lasted for 30 years. However he does have genre connections. He was the narrator in the Hugo-winning 1987 film The Princess Bride and more recently appeared in the BBC version of Conan Doyle's The Lost World (2001). Even an episode of Columbo featured Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot's alternate. Peter Falk had sadly been suffering from dementia for the past three years.

John Glasby, the British author prolific in the 1950s and 1960s (and a few since), has died aged 82.. He, along with Lionel Fanthorpe had many SF novels published by Badger Books under his own as well as pseudonyms.

Martin H(arry) Greenberg, the US genre academic and anthology compiler (not the author), has died aged 70. He edited scores of SF anthologies (and many, many more in other genres) and worked with the likes of Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov and Heinlein among other notables.

Colin Harvey, the British SF author, has died aged 50. It is always doubly sad to learn of a young departure and Colin was one such who suffered a stroke. He is the author of Winter Song (2009) and Damage Time (2010). He was also active in British fandom.

Bernadine Healy, the US clinical cardiologist, has died aged 67. She was the first woman director of the US National Institutes of Health. Subsequently she launched the US$625 million (£390 m) trial that showed that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of breast cancer, heart disease and strokes.

Terry Jeeves, the British fan artist, has died. He is best known for being a founder member of the British SF Association (1958) and for about a year an editor of its fanzine Vector. He was the co-compiler (with Mike Ashley) of The Complete Index to Analog (1981). Terry Jeeves' own fanzine Erg ran for over 40 years to 2005.

Sakyo Komatsu, the Japanese SF author, has died aged 80. He is known for a number of Japanese mega-disaster SF novels.

Francisco Solano Lopez, the French comics artist, has died aged 82.

Christopher Neame, the British film producer, has died aged 68. He worked on many genre films including horror films for Hammer Studios. He also worked as an assistant director, sometimes uncredited such as for Quatermass and the Pit.

Mike Pugh-Thomas, the British environmental scientist, has died aged 79. He began academic life as a marine biologist but, shortly after a spell as a consultant for the World Health Organization, broadened his interest to the environment in general. In 1968 he founded a Masters course in Environmental resources at the University of Salford that was one of the World's first environmental science MSc courses. In addition, throughout the latter part of his career he was supportive of environmental education concerns through a number of bodies including the Institution of Environmental Sciences. He was also a Fellow of the Institute of Biology.

Harry Redmond, the US special effects designer, has died aged 101. His genre work included television's The Outer Limits, Sea Hunt, and Science Fiction Theatre as well as the films A Night in Casablanca, Lost Horizon, King Kong and Son of Kong. His work was not always cited on end-credits.

Joel Rosenberg, the Canadian author based in the US, has died aged 57. His SF novels include: Ties of Blood and Silver (1984), Emile and the Dutchman (1986), Not for Glory (1988) and Hero (1990). Joel had a respiratory depression that caused a heart attack. The following day would have been his 32nd wedding anniversary.

Joanna Russ, the US author, has died aged 74. Among her novels is the Nebula short-listed And Chaos Died (1970), but she also won Nebula and Hugo Awards for a couple of her short stories. She was also noted for her work on feminist genre writing. Following a stroke in February, she was admitted to a hospice in April with a 'do not resuscitate' notice and died at the end of the month.

Sol Saks, the US television screen writer, has died aged 100. His one genre offering was the original pilot script for the comedy series Bewitched after which he never wrote another episode just took the royalties. Starring Elizabeth Montgomery as a witch who marries a mortal man, Bewitched ran from 1964 to 1972.

Komatsu Sakyo, the penname of Minoru Komatsu the Japanese SF grandmaster author, has died aged 70. Among his most prestigious works are his early SF novelette 'Chi ni wa Heiwa wo' ['Peace on Earth'], his time travel novel Hateshinaki Nagare no Hate ni [At the End of the Endless Stream] and Nippon Chinbotsu [ Japan Sinks] which sold four million copies in Japan.

Jimmy Sangster, the British film scriptwriter and director, has died aged 83. His genre activities included work on a number of Hammer horror films. He also attended a few of Manchester's Festival of Fantastic Films.

David Sencer, the US clinician, has died aged 86. He spent much of his life advising politicians either directly or through the health agencies at which he worked. As director of the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 1966 to 1977, he expanded the role of the agency to include family planning, tobacco control and occupational health. Of SFnal note he devised guidelines for quarantining astronauts returning from the Moon, in case of extraterrestrial pathogens. As New York City's Health Commissioner in the 1980s he advised on early AIDS issues. He championed the idea of drug addicts getting free needles and opposed the closing of gay bath houses as he felt it would drive that community underground and hard to reach with health messages. As a result he was severely criticised by both moral campaigners who accused him of condoning drug use and immorality and also by gay rights groups for dragging his feet.

Elisabeth Sladen, the British Dr Who actress, has died aged 63 following a battle with cancer. She had many stage roles and appeared in TV series such as Z-Cars, Public Eye, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em and Special Branch, but it is her genre role as Dr Who's assistant for which she will be most remembered. She first appeared as Sarah Jane with the third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and stayed for three-and-a-half series, also working with the next Doctor (Tom Baker). She reprised her Doctor Who role several times over the years and was given her own spin-off series on CBBC in 2007, in which she appeared with the most recent Doctors: David Tennant and Matt Smith. The first episode of the 2011 season of Dr Who was dedicated to Elizabeth's memory. Her autobiography was published last year.

Roy Skelton, the British actor, has died aged 78. He is known for his genre work as one of the principal voices for Doctor Who's Daleks, from 1967 to 1988. He also voiced a Cyberman and a Kroton. In addition he appeared as the mock turtle in a version of Alice in Wonderland.

Craig Thomas, Welsh techno-thriller author, has died aged 69. Probably best known for Firefox which was also a film of the same name.

Carlos Trillo, the Argentinean comics writer, has died aged 67. He is perhaps best known for Cybersix.

Jonathan Windon, the US molecular biologist, has died at the unduly early age of 55. His work focussed on how the mammoth DNA molecule packs itself away into a chromosome and how it unpacks to that genes can be read.

Martin Woodhouse, the British scriptwriter and author, has died aged 78. He wrote scripts for Gerry Anderson's third children's TV series Supercar as well as the cult series The Avengers.

 

[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 2011

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

SETI search telescope mothballed. The Allen Telescope Array (ATA) at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory north of San Francisco, California, has been shut down and mothballed following its funding being cut by 90%. Among a number of its functions was searching for ET intelligence (SETI). But

Stars help keep the SETI Allen Array going. Over US$200,000 (£125,000) has been raised to help keep the Allen Array going. Contributors include star personalities such as the SF author Larry ('Known Space') Niven, Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, and actress Jodie (Contact) Foster.

Cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid alien invasion is one conclusion of a review of alien contact scenarios entitled 'Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis' (see arxiv.org/abs/1104.4462. The analysis was carried out by a geographer and also a meteorologist from Pennsylvania State University together with a member of NASA's planetary science division.   In it they say, 'Humanity may just now be entering the period in which its rapid civilizational (sic) expansion could be detected by an extraterrestrial intelligence' because our expansion is changing the composition of Earth’s atmosphere (e.g. via greenhouse gas emissions), which therefore changes the spectral signature of Earth.'   They add, 'It would be particularly important for us to limit our emissions of greenhouse gases, since atmospheric composition can be observed from other planets. We acknowledge that the pursuit of emissions reductions and other ecological projects may have much stronger justifications than those that derive from ETI encounter, but that does not render ETI encounter scenarios insignificant or irrelevant.'   +++ Comment: As our Jonathan has some academic expertise in both climate change science and exobiology here is his take on this news:-
          JC: This is a great-sounding story. Alas it is only a great sounding story. While one of the researchers is a meteorologist, he is not a biosphere scientist, indeed none of the team seem to have expertise in the way biospheres work over deep time (geological timescales). If they had then they would know there have been a number of occasions in the Earth's history where carbon-rich (fossil fuel bearing) strata have combusted (due to volcanic activity) injecting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which abruptly warmed the planet disrupting other biosphere reservoirs of carbon (such as in wetlands and marine methane clathrates) so boosting the atmosphere's carbon greenhouse gases further enhancing warming (over a number of centuries which in geological terms is abrupt). The last time this happened in a major way was at the beginning of the Eocene 55 million years ago but there have been other episodes which we call 'carbon isotope excursion' events. (Fossil fuel and other photosynthetically derived carbon is rich in carbon-12 and depleted in carbon-13 compared to non-biologically derived carbon because photosynthesis operates best with C-12.)   Had the aliens been spectrographically monitoring Earth's biosphere then they would have detected these events and – as the alien contact review authors hypothesise – could have come to investigate.   Alas we do not see any remains of fossilised space probes or the detritus of an alien invasion force in the geological record.   Our current warming of the planet through the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation is analogous to these natural CIE events (indeed some of us are pressing for greater attention to these in the next IPCC assessment).   There would be little from the greenhouse spectral signature alone for alien astronomers with expertise in biospheres for them to be able to tell whether our current greenhouse warming was induced by a technological civilisation or a natural CIE.   In short, a great story for the silly season but not good science (or even good exotic science).

France turns to SF for future defence. France's Ministry of Defence have teamed up with France's leading SF magazine Galaxies to organise a short story competition related to military technology and war scenarios. The best will be published in a special issue of Galaxy. By the end of the summer over 50 stories had been submitted. The results will be announced at the end of the year.

NASA teams up with Tor Books (US) to develop hard SF books. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland, US, will work with Tor-Forge Books to produce a series of 'NASA Inspired Works of Fiction' books. Nona Cheeks, Director of GSFC's Innovative Partnerships Initiatives said: "Ultimately this agreement will benefit the public, as we look for innovative ways to communicate our past and current achievements, while focusing on the needs of the future." Many people who work in science and technology often credit science fiction for career inspiration. The enormous popularity of science fiction is a key element in this collaboration to make the books a gateway to the public and generate awareness of the role NASA plays in everyday life. NASA will pair scientists and engineers with Tor-Forge writers to help raise awareness and enhance public interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics/medicine (STEM). NASA's goal is to attract and retain STEM students.

China bans time travel! OK, well actually the fictional portrayal of time travel on television. So do not expect to be able to catch up with Dr Who if ever visiting that country.   What prompted this seems to be some shows that use time travel as a device to compare modern Chinese 'politics' with those of yester-year. Formerly popular on Chinese TV up to the ban was Myth [Shen Hua], audiences seem to like the story of a modern man going back to ancient China where, an adolescent hero travels back 2,000 years to find he is blood brothers with Liu Bang, the first emperor of the four-century long Han Dynasty. After some adjustment, he finds love and happiness in his new home away from modern China. And then there is Gong, about a modern woman who goes back to Qing Dynasty China where she gets caught up in palace politics… Of course SF in the West has frequently been used as a genre to hold a mirror to contemporary concerns be they science, environment, sociological or political, by writers as diverse as Brunner, Harrison, Huxley, Orwell and Wells, to name but a few. But when a regime starts constraining SF expression then perhaps it is a signal that they are under pressure hence worried?

Thousands stay away from Rome due to 'prophet' prediction of earthquake rumour. Thousands of people were reported as staying out of Rome mid-May (2011) over fears the city will be hit by an earthquake. The panic was sparked by rumours that seismologist Raffaele Bendandi, who died in 1979, predicted the city would be devastated by a quake on 11 May. Authorities insisted quakes cannot be predicted and programmes were broadcast on state TV calling for calm. There were reports of an 18% increase in the number of city employees planning to stay away from work. Yet at the bottom of all this, there is no evidence Raffaele Bendandi even made the prediction! He was said to have used his theory that the movement of the planets caused seismic activity to accurately predict a 1923 quake that killed 1,000 people… And yet the 11th may did see an earthquake hit Spain.

Leicester city is not capable of dealing with a mass zombie attack! Shock, horror, drama probe. Under freedom of Information law, a citizen asked Leicester City Council (Britain) to explain its emergency plans to tackle a zombie attack. He asked: "Can you please let us know what provisions you have in place in the event of a zombie invasion?" He added: "Having watched several films it is clear that preparation for such an event is poor and one that councils throughout the kingdom must prepare for." A Council spokeswoman admitted there are no specific plans to deal with zombies. However she reassured other concerned citizens by saying aspects of its emergency plan could be used in such an incident.

Asterix the Gaul caused profligate head injuries that could have been avoided if the Romans retained their helmets. A paper published in Acta Neurochirurgica, the journal of the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies, examines the Asterix the Gaul books. They discovered that of the 704 victims, 698 were male and 63.9% were Roman. One hundred and twenty were Gauls, 59 were bandits or pirates, 20 were Goths, 14 were Normans, eight were Vikings, five were Britons and four were extraterrestrials. The majority of injuries were caused by the indomitable Gauls (87.1%), with Asterix and his large sidekick Obelix themselves responsible for more than half (57.6%), while only 32 head injuries were caused by Romans and just one by a pirate. The principal researcher was Marcel A Kamp from Heinrich Heine University. Although 70.5% of the victims were wearing a helmet, this was lost 'in the vast majority of cases', while 'a doping agent called "the magic potion"' was found to have been taken by the perpetrators of 83% of the injuries by Toutatis. They not that injury was more likely if the Romans lost their helmets and that often this happened because the strap was undone. The message is clear: wear your helmet with the strap done up and you lower the risk of being thumped by either Asterix or Oblix. And as such probability is already low (they are fictional characters) doing up helmet straps must make one virtually immune to head trauma… (unless, of course, the sky falls on your head).

Doctor Moreau forms the basis of a Nature science journal editorial. The editorial is one of this season's examples of how SF can be used to illustrate real science concerns. Entitled 'The legacy of Doctor Moreau' (vol 474, p423), the editorial begins noting that 'the science fiction author H. G. Wells coined the term humanised animals in his 1896 novel The Island of Doctor Moreau. The book invited readers to consider the ethical limits of curiosity-driven research and to ponder the moral value of the distinction between humans and animals.' It then goes on to discuss a biomedical ethics document on chimeras (organisms with cells/organs from more than one species). The editorial notes that: ' Dr Moreau's humanized (sic) animals evoke visceral disgust. Thankfully, more than a century later, they remain science fiction. However, the ethical dilemmas they presented by Wells do not'. The editorial concludes with: 'as facts and fiction converge, the answers have become more complex'.

Intel uses writers to imagine its future technology. Chip maker Intel has asked science fiction authors for short stories that imagine future uses for the firm's technology. This is being released as a free e-book anthology called The Tomorrow Project. Intel hopes that this may anticipate consumer aspirations, and drive future adoption of its products. The concept is called 'future casting' that aims to drive future technology uses, rather than simply responding to market forces.

Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and past President of the Royal Society, says better good SF than bad science. This SF-science news lifted from the monthly SF Ansible. He told the British Interplanetary Society: 'It is better to read first-rate science fiction than second-rate science; it's no more likely to be wrong and is far more stimulating than the second-rate science. And I think it's good to read the great classics of science fiction.'   However, this science fact / science fiction interface column's regulars will remember that we previously reported good Professor Martin Rees airing this view over a year ago. So it is good to see that, given this repetition, this must be something in which Martin Rees firmly believes.

Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in The Guardian has last season coverage that included:-
  - the World Health Organization refusing to provide the data behind their World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer news that mobile phones can cause brain cancer.
  - how research of 22 million (yes, million!) patients in Canada demonstrates the importance of doctors seeing patients quickly in accident and emergency units. Yet the UK has just abolished the four-hour maximum wait limit. Waiting times matter.
  - how two studies that look back at previous medical research that makes claims about treatments. These show that half the papers have their research conclusions vindicated with time. The remainder's conclusions show the treatment investigated either had only marginal benefit, or were actually inconclusive, or turned out to be false. This actually is not that bad a result that half initially-suggested breakthroughs turn out on detailed investigation to be as indications suggested probable: science is difficult.
  - the science debatability as to the benefit of badger cull to reduce bovine TB in cattle.
  - Britain's Channel 4 reporting that there is a new treatment for Duchenne's muscular dystrophy. Actually there is not but an over-enthusiastic press release from Great Ormond Street Hospital was based on anecdotal patient evidence. Ormond St have since changed their online press release.
  - how politicians and the media cite major changes in unemployment but these are based on monthly samples of the population and the 5% significance sampling error in recent political and media quotes is greater than the change cited… which means that recent unemployment changes are not statistically significant.
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.

 

 

[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 2011

End Bits

 

More science and SF news will be summarised in our Spring 2012 upload in January
plus there will also be 'forthcoming' Spring book releases, plus loads of stand-alone reviews.

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Antuza Genescu, Pierre Gevart, Roberto Quaglia, Boris Sidyuk, Ian Watson and not least the very many representatives of SF groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk and press officers who sent in news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page.   If you feel that your news, or SF news that interests you, should be here then you need to let us know (as we cannot report what we are not told). :-)

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Spring 2012 period – needs to be in before the end of November 2011. News is especially sought concerns SF author news as well as that relating to national SF conventions: size, number of those attending, prizes and any special happenings.

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.

Feel free to browse the rest of the site; key links below.


[Up: Science Fiction News Index | Recent Site Additions | Author Index to Fiction & Non-Fiction Book Reviews | Home Page: Concatenation]

[ Year's Film & Convention Diary | One Page SF Futures Short Stories | SF Convention Reviews | SF Film Charts | Articles | Whimsy with Gaia ]

[Originally posted 11.9.15 | Contact | Copyright | Privacy | Site Origins/History]