Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Autumn 2012

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 2012

STAFF MATTERS

Our last season's delight has to be being favoured with a Eurocon Award at Zagreb (Croatia) for 'Best Website' for which we are truly grateful.   Thank you ESFS.   And thank you all the well wishers who contacted us during and after the Zagreb Eurocon. Though the variability of our site stats with, and between, our yearly, three big seasonal postings reveals we have a following of many thousands, we do not get much in the way of customer feedback. So recognition such as this is genuinely appreciated.

Alas none of our core team could make it to Zagreb.   Alan was running a CamRA real ale festival. Jonathan and Dan were playing yearly catch-up, and others had their own commitments. However some of our regular site contributors did make Zagreb including: Antuza Genescu, Boris Sidyuk and Roberto Quaglia, together with Jim Walker who elsewhere gives us his separate report on the 2012 Eurocon SF convention. Appreciation goes to Martin Hoare who kindly accepted the award on our behalf. Meanwhile our news coverage on this event can be found in the Eurocon subsection below.

Elsewhere one of our book reviewers, Duncan Lunan, has had a busy summer. First up there was an astronomical video-cast on YouTube. Then his novel Children from the Sky was launched in Glasgow prior to mass distribution (see publication details in the recent and forthcoming SF books list below) and is looking forward to the launch of his non-fiction book The Stones and the Stars, Building Scotland's Newest Megalith. Finally, a documentary for the series National Geographic Ancient X-Files, had Duncan as a contributor and was aired on Sky on 5th June.

Not to be outdone, Jonathan is looking forward to his own book coming out at the year's end. Over the summer he has been working on the pre-production (manuscript copy edit and then the page proofs) of his 2nd updated and substantially expanded edition of Climate Change: Biological & Human Aspects from Cambridge University Press.   Written at New Scientist popular science magazine level (or Scientific American if you are that side of the Pond) the first edition received, ahem, rather kind reviews from a range of journals, so verifying that the book does speak across disciplines. It also had an unexpected recommendation from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as part of the UN World Environment Day 2008 (5th June) which, that year, had the theme of 'climate change'.   From on-line reader reviews, apparently the text works as an advanced popular science book as well as being an essential 'must read' for any student studying the climate change big picture.   Jonathan anticipates much nail-biting early in 2013 while awaiting the response to his 2nd edition.

 

Elsewhere this issue (vol 22 (5) Autumn 2012) not on this news page we have:-
          …convention reports on New Zealand's 2012 national convention as well as the 2012 European SF Convention – Eurocon in Croatia.

 

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 2012

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

SF/F Awards presented over the summer included: Europe's Eurocon Awards; Australia's Aurealis and Ditmar Awards; Britain's Clarke (SF) Award, Eagles, and Carnegie; France's Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire; Germany's Kurd Lasswitz Awards as well as the German SF Prize, Japan's Seiun Awards; New Zealand's Sir Julius Vogel Awards; Russia's Aelita, Bronze Snails, the Interpresscon and Roskon Awards; the Ukraine's Portal Awards and the USA's Locus Award, Eisner Awards, the Heinlein Award, Stan Lee Awards, Saturn Awards and Prometheus Awards; and the SF Translation Awards…   Plus, of course, the Hugo Awards.

Book news – Includes : the top selling books of the summer, Pottermore e-books boost paper book sales, Angry Robot's trial promotion successful and to be rolled out, Self publishing e-book statistics revealing, and open-access science proposals will damage learned charitable societies.

Film news – Includes that of: Snowcrash novel film; both The Dark Tower and Ghostbusters III in trouble; there is to be an extra (3rd) Hobbit film; and Avengers is the biggest superhero film to date.

Television news – Includes: Much Dr Who news, Sweden's SF series Real Humans to come to Britain and N. America, the green-lighting of new Black Mirror series and the new season of The Walking Dead.

News of SF and science personalities includes, among many, that of: Neil Armstrong, Sir David Attenborough, Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter, Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Ridley Scott, Chris Roberson, and A. E. van Vogt.

Other news includes: many tributes to Ray Bradbury, fan dies at Comic-Con, Ansible reaches 300th monthly issue and Green Lantern outed as gay.

News of last season's SF events includes that of: the 2012 Eurocon.

Major forthcoming SF events include: the 2013 Eurocon and the 2014 Worldcon.

Our short video clip links section this season includes, among others, links to: a Ray Bradbury and Robert Sheckley conversation, the new season of Red Dwarf trailer, and the Metro 2033 trailer of the computer game of the Russian book. …
– See the section here.

Notable SF books due out in the run up to Christmas 2012 includes: The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain Banks, The Time Ship: A Chrononautical Journey (Early Classics of Science Fiction) by Enrique Gaspar, The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi, and Demi Monde Summer by Rod Rees. Not to mention the paperback editions of Dreadnought by Cherie Priest and The Islanders by Chris Priest.

Notable fantasy due out in the run up to Christmas 2012 includes: Black Opera by Mary Gentle, Mage's Blood by David Hair, The Circle by Mats Strandberg and Sara Bergmark Elfgren, and Breed by Chase Novak.

The Summer saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included: Scientists Neil Armstrong, Andrew Huxley, William Knowles Bernard Lovell, Sally Ride and of science interest Lonesome George.   SF personalities Ray Bradbury, Carlos Feuntes, Harry Harrison, Margaret Mahy, Chris Marker, Hilary Rubenstein, Gore Vidal and Roland Wagner.

 

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 2012

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SF NEWS

Tributes to Ray Bradbury are made following his demise. These included those from:-
          Brian Aldiss in The Daily Telegraph said: "Of all the American science fiction writers, there was a time when Ray Bradbury was the most prized and most lauded. Certainly, his work comes freshly back to mind…   Anyone spending any time in the United States will come across deeply sentimental longings for possibly illusory home towns (expressed in such songs as Doris Day’s 'Sentimental Journey'). One of Bradbury’s most popular novels is The Martian Chronicles. One component of that book’s appeal is surely that the green grass growing on those alien landscapes appears to come from somewhere in the state of Illinois. He is on record as saying that The Martian Chronicles is more fantasy than SF. More properly science-fictional is Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which paper burns, and the firemen light fires instead of putting them out. It’s books that burn. The book is a hymn against anti-intellectualism."
          Brian on BBC Radio 4's (formerly Home Service) Today programme said: Ray was a teller of "technological fairytales"… "Ray Bradbury was not like most writers of science-fiction. He came from the country and he liked to stay in the country. This shows up in most of his books, The Martian Chronicles, for instance. It's a transplant of American countryside into the planet Mars. It could never happen, but the great thing is that you tell a technological fairytale…That was the attraction of much of what Bradbury wrote."
          Stephen King in The Hollywood Reporter said, with reference to Ray's short story 'A Sound of Thunder' (also turned into a film (2005)), of Bradbury's passing: "The sound I hear today is the thunder of a giant's footsteps fading away…But the novels and stories remain, in all their resonance and strange beauty."
          Neil Gaiman said: "The landscape of the world we live in would have been diminished if we had not had [Ray Bradbury] in our world".
          Margaret Atwood said: "Where would you locate him [Ray] on the map of literature? My own view is that, in his best work, Bradbury sinks a taproot right down into the deep, dark, Gothic core of America. It's no accident that he was descended from Mary Bradbury, convicted as a witch in 1692, during the notorious Salem witchcraft trials, for, among other things, assuming the form of a blue boar. (She was not hanged, as the execution was delayed until the craze was over.)… Ray Bradbury saw his writing as a way of living on after his death, and it will certainly perform that service."
          Stephen Spielberg cited the late author as a huge influence on his work saying: "He was my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career… He lives on through his legion of fans. In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination, he is immortal."
          David Brin in the journal Nature (vol. 486, page 471) said: "Often, when an author of future-orientated fiction achieves mainstream literary acclaim, there is a temptation to announce, 'I don't write sci-fi,' as if dropping the label will ensure escape from the ghetto. But when Bradbury said that, he meant the opposite. He wrote mostly fantasy, horror and suspense because, he once told me, "I can't do science, but that's my loss."
          US President Obama said: "For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury’s death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age,” Obama said. “His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values. There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."
+++ Below in our links to video clips on other sites we have a link to a 2000 video conference between Ray Bradbury and Robert Sheckley. +++ Also below in the video link section is the Hugo nominated Bradbury tribute song (which Ray himself accepted in good part as a homage) F*%k Me Ray Bradbury. +++ In addition below sales of Fahrenheit 451 boost following Ray's demise.

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises premiere sees 12 killed in madman rampage. As the film premiered across Europe and N. America on 20th July one midnight showing, in Aurora near Denver, Colorado (USA), saw drop-out medical student James Holmes walk in with a gas grenade, rifle, handgun and knife. He detonated the grenade and then began shooting. Ten people were killed at the cinema and two others died later in hospital. The culprit's home was later found to be booby-trapped with explosives and incendiaries. +++ Batman: The Dark Knight Rises had already had a premiere screening in central London on 18th July prior to general UK release on the 20th and the Aurora shooting, but the 20th July French premiere on the Champs-Elysees was cancelled as well as the associated media interviews with the director, Christopher Nolan, and the film's cast.

The 2012 Kyoto Prizes for science have been awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi (biologist) and Ivan Sutherland (computer scientist). The prizes are worth 50 million Yen (£400,000, US$626,000).

New physics prize worth US$27 million has been launched. Nine winners of the annual prize will each receive US$3m. The prize is sponsored by the Russian billionaire Yuri Milner. The first winners are: Alan Guth, Andrei Linde, Nma Arkani-Hamed, Juan Maldacena, Nathan Seiberg, Edward Witten, Alexei Kitaev, Maxim Kontsevich and Ashoke Sen. These winners (chosen by Yuri Milner) will decide next year's winners.

The 2012 Hugo Awards were announced at this year's Worldcon, Chicon 7. Further to last year's nominating record, Chicon 7 did not set a new record number of final ballot voting (as opposed to nominations) for the 2012 Hugo Awards: just 1,922 voted compared to 2,100 last year. But Chicon 7 did break another record earlier this year when it received 1,107 valid nominating ballots up from last year's record-breaking 1,006. Following the nominations earlier in the year, the principal Hugo category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor)
          Best Novella: “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson (Asimov's, September/October 2011)
          Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form: Game of Thrones (Season 1) (HBO) based on the George R. R. Martin books
          Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form: Doctor Who 'The Doctor's Wife' written by Neil Gaiman
          Best Fanzine: SF Signal.com
         Other category win information can be found at thehugoawards.org.
Comment.   Sadly we were not as on form as we have been in the past in selecting likely winners from the short list other than the Short Form 'Doctor's Wife' episode of Dr Who written by Neil Gaiman, for which we were spot on. But then that adds to the Hugo excitement and it is good that we can be surprised.   Finally, this year (for we do not always do this), we have included the 'Best Fanzine' category along with the principal winners as this year's winner, SF Signal is actually or interest to most SF buffs and not just a small cadre of Worldcon fans. SF Signal is a daily bulletin of links to SF news primarily from N. America and a good way to keep in touch with what is going on over there. Also it is probably the only reasonably comprehensive SF site that is updated daily. (Puts us with our three-yearly bulletins to shame but then we provide a different service for those who do not have the time for daily site checks and also we have a more European focus.)   Last year's (2011) Hugo winners are here.

The 2012 Eurocon Awards were presented at the 34th Eurocon in Zagreb, Croatia. (35th if you include Riga 1985). The winners were:-
          European SF Grandmaster:-
                    Brian Aldiss (Great Britain)
          Hall of Fame as well as Spirit of Dedication categories:-
                    Author: Ian McDonald (Great Britain)
                    Promoter:the SF Encyclopaedia Online team (Great Britain)
                    Translator: Pavel Weigel (Czech Republic)
                    Magazine: Galaxies SF (France)
                    Publisher: Ailleurs et Demain (France)
                    Artist (Hall of Fame) : Nela Dunato (Croatia)
                    Artist (Spirit of Dedication) : Zdenko Basic (Croatia)
                    Fanzine: Eridan (Croatia)
                    Dramatic Presentation: Divadelni spolek Kaspar [Flowers for Algernon] (Czech Republic)
                    Best Website: Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation (Great Britain) (Whuhayyyy! and thank you)
          Honorary Award:-
                    Jean Giraud / Moebius (France)
          Encouragement Awards:-
                    Oliviu Crâznic (Romania)
                    Alexander Ruda (Ukraine)
                    Marki Istvan (Hungary)
                    Ilya Tyo (Russia)
                    Katarina Brbora (Croatia)
                    Rod Rees (Great Britain)
                    Lucia Droppova (Slovakia)
                    January 'Johnak' Kotouc (Czech Republic)
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.   This year saw Croatia's second win in a row for 'Best Artist' and also 'Best Fanzine'.   The Dramatic Presentation win of the Czech film adaptation of Flowers for Algernon was of course related to the staggeringly brilliant, Hugo-winning novella of the same name.   The Brian Aldiss' win for Grandmaster is long-overdue but nicely follows last year's Grandmaster Sam Lundwell as the two have in the past collaborated together.   Prior to this year's Eurocon (none of the core team could be there this year) one of us nominated Rod Rees (UK) Author of Demi-Monde sequence and so it is pleasing that that got through.   France's Galaxies SF win for best magazine is also welcome and also arguably a little overdue, so congratulations to its editor Pierre Gévart.   And all of us at SF2 Concatenation are delighted with our win. +++ Last year's Eurocon Awards here. +++ Convention report of this year's (2012) Eurocon here +++ See also other French Galaxies news below.

Singapore wins 2012 Biology Olympiad and all the British team win Silver. The 23rd International Biology Olympiad (IBO) held in Singapore and resulted in good news for the home team. The Singapore team obtained four Gold medals, placing first in a field of 236 students from 59 countries. This is the first time a Singapore team has placed first, and also the first time the Republic's team has won four gold medals in the Olympiad. All the British team won silver medals which means that they were in the highest scoring 10-20% of all participants. Next year the Biology Olympiad will be held in Bern, Switzerland.

Locus Awards announced. These are voted on by the readers of the US magazine Locus and are arguably as good a steer to good titles as the Hugo if not on occasion better. The principal category wins were:-
          SF Novel: Embassytown by China Miéville
          Fantasy Novel: A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin
          (Best Debut) First Novel: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
          Collection: The Bible Repairman and Other Stories by Tim Powers
Last year's (2011) Locus award winners here.

Britain's Clarke Award for 2012 was presented at the Sci-Fi London film fest. This is the Clarke SF Awards we are talking about (not to be confused with the Clarke space exploration awards). The award is decided by jury and is for the best SF published in Britain over the previous year (2011). Now this year's short-list caused some controversy due to one author being upset (arguably to the point of rudeness). Yet it was an interesting short-list. And so there was some anticipation to see who would actually garner the prize at the ceremony at the SFL film fest in Piccadilly.   And the winner was The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers (Sandstone Press).
          This was an interesting award and it arguably went to the least read of this year's short list if only because all the others were published by one of the big four British Isles SF/F publishers whereas Sandstone is a small press. The Testament of Jessie Lamb concerns a future in which women are dying of a global pandemic. Jessie Lamb is an ordinary girl living in extraordinary times: as her world collapses, her idealism and courage drive her towards the ultimate act of heroism. If the human race is to survive, it’s up to her. Set just a month or two in the future, in a world irreparably altered by an act of biological terrorism, The Testament of Jessie Lamb explores a young woman’s determination to make her life count for something, as the certainties of her childhood are ripped apart.

The Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books long-list has been announced. The Royal Society Winton prize is a juried award. It has previously been known by its sponsors such as Rhone-Poulenc and Aventis in turn, but has always been overseen by the Royal Society's public engagement committee (for many years known as the Committee for the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS)). This year's long-list is:-
          Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer of which the judges said: "A jaunty and engaging exploration of the human memory"
          My Beautiful Genome by Lone Frank, of which the judges said: "A refreshingly honest dive into the nature-nurture debate."
          The Information by James Gleick of which the judges said: "An original concept that changes your view of the world and the way information has shaped it."
          The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene of which the judges said: "A clear and compelling account that unveils extraordinary parallel worlds and our place within them."
          The Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso of which the judges said: "A moving, almost poetic insight into the = world of modern medicine."
          The 4% Universe by Richard Panek of which the judges said: "A beautifully written account of what we are made of and what we are not."
          The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker of which the judges said: "An important and original book expounding on mankind relationship with violence."
          The Address Book by Tim Radford, of which the judges said: "A captivating journey through our place in the Universe."
          Pricing the Future byGeorge G. Szpiro of which the judges said: "A surprisingly fascinating insight into the world financial markets."
          Race? Debunking a Scientific Myth by Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle of which the judges said: "An important subject ripe for discussion in a scientifically reputable way."
          The Folly of Fools by Robert Trivers of which the judges said: "An original exploration of the place of self deception in the human animal."
          The Viral Storm by Nathan Wolfe of which the judges said: "This book takes a potentially terrifying subject and successfully makes it both readable and optimistic."
The shortlist will be announced on 25th September (2012) a week after we post this seasonal news page.   It had been thought last year that the days of the prize were over. However the global investment management company Winton Capital Management has agreed five-year sponsorship of the prize.

Germany's Kurd Lasswitz (Kurd-Laßwitz) Preis was awarded at the Urlaubs-Con Und Meer (2012) in July. The principal category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Herr aller Dinge [Master of all Things] by Andreas Eschbach
          Best Foreign Work: Biokrieg [Biokrieg] by Paolo Bacigalupi
          Best Translation: Jasper Nicolaisen and Jakob Schmidt, for the translation of David Marusek's Wir Waren außer Uns vor Glück [ We were Beside Ourselves with Happiness]
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 prize is the equivalent of the Nebula's in the US in that it is voted on by German authors, agents, editors and other SF professionals. +++ See link for last year's principal category Kurd Lasswitz prize winners.

The German SF Prize [Deutschland SF Preis] was awarded at this year's Science Fiction Club Germany (SFCD) con;-
          Novel: Galdäa – Der ungeschlagene Krieg [Galdäa - The Unbeaten War] by Karsten Kruschel
          Short Story: 'In der Freihandelszone' ['The Free Trade Area'] by Heidrun Jänchen

New Zealand's Julius Vogel Awards for 2012 were announced at the NZ national convention. The category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Samiha's Song by Mary Victoria
          Best Juvenile Novel: Battle of the Birds by Lee Murray
          Best Novella / Novellete: Steam Girl by Dylan Horrocks
          Best Short Story: 'Frankie And The Netball Clone' by Alicia Ponder
          Best Collected Work: Tales For Canterbury edited by edited by Cassie Hart and Anna Caro
          Best Artwork: Oracle's Fire cover by Frank Victoria
          Best Dramatic Presentation: The Almighty Johnsons
          Best Fanzine: Phoenixine
          Best Fan Writing: Simon Litten for Phoenixine articles
          Best Fan Artwork: Nick Kim for Phoenixine cover art
          Services to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror: Philip Mann
          Special Award – New Talent: K. D. Berry
          Services to Fandom: Jacqui and Keith Smith
                                      and
                                      Ripley Patton (who helped found SpecFicNZ)
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: Anna Caro won a Vogel last year. This year's winning anthology, Tales For Canterbury, was an anthology the profits of which went to the Canterbury earthquake disaster relief. Frank Victoria's art win was the second in a row following his Vogel win last year. And Simon Litten's win too follows success last year. K. D. Berry is the pen name of Kevin and Diane Berry who write humorous fantasy. +++ Last year's Vogels are here.

The Aelita Awards and other prizes were presented at the 29th Aelita convention in Yekaterinburg, Urals in central Russia. (You can only win an Aelita once.) The principal award wins were:-
          Aelita Award: Paul Amnuel
          Debut Award: Vitaly Aboyan for War Tree
          Yefremov Prize (SF Promotion): Andrei Sinitsyn
          Prize. B. Bugrova (Contribution to Speculative Fiction): Sergei Chekmaev
          Eurasia Award: Vladimir Molotov for Ural Attacks
          SF Grand Master: Michael Swanick
          Ivan Sokolov Memorial Prize: Vladislav Krapivin
Comment: The Aelita convention is one of Russia's longer running conventions beginning in 1981. The Ivan Sokolov Memorial Prize is named after the Ekaterinburg-based SF fan Ivan Sokolov.

Russia's Bronze Snail Awards were presented at Interpresscon 23 in St Petersburg. The Bronze Snails are judged by Russian SF grandmaster author Boris Strugatsky. The 2012 wins were:-
          Novel: Zakhar Prilepin for Black Monkey
          Novella: Andrew Izmailov for 'Game Box'
          Short Story: Not awarded
          Non-Fiction SF: Sergei Pereslegin for Occam's Razor
This was Sergei Pereslegin's second year of a Snail Award in a row.   Last Year's Snail Awards are here.   And of course also at Interpresscon 22 there were…

Russia's 19th Interpresscon Awards were presented at Interpresscon 23 in St Petersburg. The award is determined by convention attendee vote. The principal wins were:-
          Novel: Julia Zonis for Inquisitor and the Nymph
          Debut Novel: Anna Semirol & Oleg Semirol for Half-step to the Sky
          Non-Fiction SF/SF Journalism: Vladimir Larionov, Alexander Etoeva for 'Book of Prashkevich or From the Exquisite to the White Giraffe Mammoth'
See link for last year's Interpresscon Awards.

The 2012 Roskon Awards, voted by participants of Russia's Roskon convention, were presented at this year's Roskon near Moscow:-
          Best Novel: Urbi et Orbi, or the City and the World by Henry Lion Oldie
          Best Novelette: Androids Shame No Shame by Yevgeny Lukin
          Big Roskon Award - Lifetime Achievement: Sergei Abramov
The above is just a summary; there were many categories and runner-ups (Silver and Bronze Roskons). Roskons are around a couple of hundred strong with attendance dominated by many SF professionals and semi-pros (writers, editors, journalists etc). Voting is in two rounds and by the Roskon attendees.

Ukraine's Portal Awards were presented at the Portal SF convention in Kiev. The winners were:-
          Long Form: Living by Anna Starobinets
          Intermediate Form: Folklore of the Inhabitants of Sector M1 by Lenore Goralik
          Short Form: 'Under the Bridge' by Dmitry Kolodan
          Non-Fiction: "Gold Dust: The Fantastic in the English Novel – the last third of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by Vladimir Gopman
          Best Non-Fiction Article: 'At the End of the Word: Fiction as a stylistic experiment' by Maria Galina
          Vladimir Savchenko Award: (Ed. Something we cannot easily translate) by Bakalets Yaroslav & Yaroslav Yarish
          Best Translated Book: Anathem by Neal Stephenson
See link for last year's Portal Awards.

Britain's Eagle Awards for comics were presented in London at the ExCeL Centre. The principal category wins were:-
          Roll of Honour: Frank Quitely
          Debut Writer: Jeff Lemire
          Debut Artist: Francesco Francavilla
          Favourite Writer: Scott Snyder
          Favourite Writer/Artist: Frank Miller
          Favourite Artist: Pencils: J.H. Williams III
          Favourite Artist: Inks: Scott Williams
          Favourite Artist: Fully-Painted Artwork: Alex Ross
          Favourite British Comic– Colour: Doctor Who Magazine
          Favourite European Comic : Dylan Dog
          Favourite Web-based Comic : Freakangels
The categories are many, often vary slightly, and only the key ones of likely interest are listed here. 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 – Pencils' and in 2010 won 'Favourite Artist: Fully-Painted Artwork'.   Freakangels is a science fiction win and also available as a collected paper edition. It concerns a future London after most of the population simply disappeared save a group of children, now young adults, who were all born on the same day…   +++ This year was rumoured to have been the last Eagle Awards presented +++ Also see last year's 2011 Eagle Award principal wins.

The 2012 Robert A. Heinlein Award has been won by Stanley Schmidt. The prize for given for outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space. The form of the Robert A. Heinlein Award is of a sterling silver medallion bearing the image of Robert A. Heinlein depicted by the artist Arlin Robbins. The medallion is matched with a red-white-blue lanyard. In addition the winner receives two lapel pins for use when a large medallion is impractical, and a certificate plaque. The award is a juried one with a committee consisting of science fiction writers chaired by Dr. Yoji Kondo, a long time friend of Robert and Virginia Heinlein. Members of the committee were originally approved by Virginia Heinlein. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society provides logistical support for this award.

The British Book Industry Awards were presented at the Park Lane Hilton Hotel in London. A number of the categories are of little interest to SF readers but the relevant category wins were:-
          Independent Publisher: Constable & Robinson (who do have a small SF line)
          Publisher: Harper Collins (known for their Voyager fantasy imprint)
Harper Collins is very much a deserving winner given that it is one of the few publishers whose sales of printed books actually increased last year despite a declining paper market. (No small thanks to Voyager's George R. R. Martin's sales.)   The award is a juried one made up of booksellers and the Bookseller Association representatives.   This year of some controversy was the 'National Bookseller' category. The winner was Foyles which is fair enough (it is many years now since their treatment of their staff caused some notoriety) but the only others on the shortlist were the newsagent chain W. H. Smiths (whose aggressive style insisting on substantive discounts from publishers despite economies of scale pressurised independents long before on-line retailers like Amazon) and Amazon (which itself insists on massive publisher discounts despite economies of scale as well as its recent tax avoidance scandal). And so the question is bound to be who will win next year? Unless it goes to a small chain of independents or a single independent, there really only is Waterstones in the running (again). Though the potential horror of a supermarket getting the prize does lurk…

France's Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire 2012 award winners were announced at the Étonnants Voyageurs [Astonishing Travellers] convention, Saint-Malo. The principal winning categories were:-
          French Novel: Rêves de Gloire [Dreams of Glory] by Roland C. Wagner
          Foreign Novel: The City & the City by China Miéville
          French Short Story: 'Boire la Tasse' [Drinking Cup] by Christophe Langlois
          Foreign Short Story: 'Ainsi Naissent les Fantômes' ['Born as Ghosts '] by Lisa Tuttle (we think that this might be the English publication Ghosts and Other Lovers)
          French Juvenile Novel: La Route des Magiciens [The Road of Magicians] by Frédéric Petitjean
          Foreign Juvenile Novel: Delirium & Le Dernier Jour de ma Vie [Delirium and the Last Day of my Life] by Lauren Oliver

The Stan Lee Awards for comics were presented at the 2nd 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: Scott (Batman, Swamp Thing) Snyder
          Best Artist:Sara (Ultimate Spider-man) Pichelli
          Best (comic) Series: Detective Comics (Batman)
          Best Graphic Novel:The Walking Dead Vol14
          Best Superhero or Sci-Fi Movie: X-Men First Class
          Best Limited (comic) Series or Story Arc: The Dark Angel Saga (Uncanny X-Force)
          Best Comic Hero: Batman
          Best TV Show: The Game of Thrones

Australia's Aurealis awards have been presented. The Aurealis is a panel judged award that was established in 1995 by Chimaera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis Magazine. The principal category wins this year were:-
          Science Fiction Novel: The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood
          Science Fiction Short Story: 'Rains of la Strange' by Robert N. Stephenson
          Fantasy Novel: Ember and Ash by Pamela Freeman
          Fantasy Short Story: 'Fruit of the Pipal Tree' by Thoraiya Dyer
          Horror Novel: No award was presented in this category this year
          Horror Short Story: (tie) 'The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt' by Paul Haines and 'The Short Go: a Future in Eight Seconds' by Lisa L. Hannett.

Australia's Ditmars awards have been presented. The Ditmar is voted on by those attending Australia's national convention and have been presented since 1969. The principal category wins this year were:-
          Best Novel: The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood
          Best Novella or Novelette: 'The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt' by Paul Haines, in The Last Days of Kali Yuga
          Best Collected Work: The Last Days of Kali Yuga by Paul Haines and edited by Angela Challis
          Best Short Story: 'The Patrician' by Tansy Rayner Roberts in Love and Romanpunk
Note: The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood won both the Ditmar and Aurealis. Last year's Ditmar winners are here.

N. America's Nebula Awards have been presented. The principal category wins were:-
          Novel: Among Others by Jo Walton
          Novella: 'The Man Who Bridged the Mist' by Kij Johnson
          Novelette: 'What We Found' by Geoff Ryman
Also presented was the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation the 2011 winner was Doctor Who 'The Doctor’s Wife' teleplay by Neil Gaiman which, by the way, we tipped would get nominated for the Hugo and indeed it did.
          The Nebula best novel Among Others by Jo Walton is a modern fantasy in which a geek girl seeks to find her place in life and, with fey magic around, at the end of the day succeeds.

Carnegie double win for Patrick Ness's with his novel A Monster Calls. Not only is it the second consecutive Carnegie win for Ness – his Monsters of Men won the prize in 2011 – but also A Monster Calls won the Kate Greenaway Medal for book illustration. Britain's Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are awarded annually to a book for young people by Cilip: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. A Monster Calls tells the story of a boy coming to terms with his mother's battle against cancer. The 'monster' that calls on the 13-year-old boy Connor, the protagonist, is an ancient walking, talking yew tree.

The 2012 US Eisner Awards for comics have been presented. The Eisner nominations in each category are generated by a five-member panel, then voted on by comic-book professionals, and presented at the annual Comic-Con International convention held in San Diego, California. As such they have a somewhat similar status to the reader-voted Eagle Awards in Great Britain. This year's principal category wins are:-
          Best Single Issue (or One-Shot): Daredevil #7 (Marvel)
          Best Continuing Series: Daredevil (Marvel)
          Best Anthology: Dark Horse Presents (Dark Horse)
          Best Graphic Album – New: Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand (Archaia)
          Best Graphic Album – Reprint: Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition (IDW)
          Best Archival Collection/Project – Comic Books: Walt Simonson’s The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition (IDW)
          Best Writer: Mark Waid, Irredeemable, Incorruptible (BOOM!); Daredevil (Marvel)
+++ See also below fan dies at Comic-Con.

The2012 Saturn Awards for 2011 fantastic films have been announced. The Saturns are awarded by US the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for film and TV and have run since 1972. The principal category wins were:-
          Best Science Fiction Film: Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
          Best Fantasy Film: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2
          Best Horror/Thriller Film: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
          Best Action/Adventure Film: Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol
          Best Director: J. J. Abrams (Super 8)
          Best Writing: Jeff Nichols; (Take Shelter)
          Best Network Television Series: Fringe
          Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series: Breaking Bad

Japan's 2012 Seiun Awards were announced at the 51st Japanese national SF convention, Yubari City, Hokkaido, Japan. The principal category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Tengoku and Zigoku by Yasumi Kobayashi
          Best Translated Novel: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
          Best Translated Short Story: 'The Lifecycle of Software Objects' by Ted Chiang
          Best Dramatic Presentation: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Notes: The award is voted on by the convention's registrants.   The Windup Girl was previously nominated and then won a Hugo in 2010.   Separately Ted Chiang has a one-page PDF short story elsewhere on this site, 'What's Expected Of Us.

The English-language Aurora Awards for Canadian Science Fiction have been announced. The principal category wins for the Anglophone Auroras were:-
          Best Novel: WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer
          Best Graphic Novel: Goblins created by Tarol Hunt
          Best Related Work: On Spec magazine published by the Copper Pig Writers’ Society
          Best Artist: Dan O’Driscoll
Note: Tarol Hunt also won an Aurora 'Best Graphic Novel', and Sawyer 'Best Novel' (for another title in the same trilogy) last year.

The the 2012 Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards have been announced.. There are two categories: Long Form (novels) and Short Form (short stories) and two honorable mentions for each.
          Long Form:-
                    Zero by Huang Fan, translated from the Chinese by John Balcom
          Long Form Honorable Mentions:-
                    Good Luck, Yukikaze by Chohei Kambayashi, translated from the Japanese by Neil Nadelman
                    Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, translated from the Spanish by Lucia Graves
          Short Form Winner:-
                    'The Fish of Lijiang' by Chen Qiufan, translated from the Chinese by Ken Liu
          Short Form Honorable Mentions:-
                    'The Boy Who Cast No Shadow' by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, translated from the Dutch by Laura Vroomen
                    'The Green Jacket' by Gudrun Östergaard, translated from the Danish by the author and Lea Thume (which appeared in Sky City: New Science Fiction Stories by Danish Authors.

The Libertarian Futurist Society Prometheus Awards were presented at this year's worldcon:-
          Best Novel (tie):-
                    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Crown)
                    The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman (Small Beer)
          Hall of Fame: 'The Machine Stops' by E.M. Forster (1909)
The Prometheus Award is an award for 'libertarian' science fiction novels, that is to say novels that focus on the politics and social order implied by 'libertarian' philosophies with an emphasis on individualism and a limited state, and in some cases no state authority at all.

Galaxies, the leading French semi-prozine, is doubling its publishing to 6 issues a year. In addition it is merging with Lunatique which itself is a longstanding French fanzine. +++ This comes hot on the heels of Galaxies Eurocon Award win. As fellow award winners this year, we offer our congratulations and wish much success for the newly merged Galaxies publication.

A Tintin cover art has sold for 1.3m euros (£1m, or US$1.6m) at auction in Paris. The Tintin in America cover was hand-drawn by Belgian writer and illustrator Herge who created Tintin, and who died in 1983. The Indian ink and gouache drawing work is one of only five remaining covers by Herge.

Green Lantern outed as gay. DC comics' publisher Dan Didio, that Green Lantern was to be gay. The development 'hoppers' to follows Marvel Comics announced the marrying of X-Man Northstar to his boyfriend in May and before then the marriage of Archie Comics' first gay character, Kevin Keller, to his boyfriend. DC is now playing catch-up even though DC's character Batwoman came out as gay back in 2006. T he Green Lantern will be the publisher's major homosexual superhero.   However note that this is neither the Hal Jordan Green Lantern that began in the 1960s, nor the original Green Lantern Alan Scott, but the alternate Alan Scott from the parallel DC universe (Earth 2) that sees parallel superheroes and a Justice Society of American (not the Justice League of America). As such the gay Alan Scott appeared in the June issue of Earth 2. The move has upset some US religious groups: for instance, the Christian mothers' group, One Million Moms, had a letter-writing campaign lobbying DC to reconsider.

 

[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 2012

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

Neil Armstrong has given a very rare interview. The normally silent astronaut granted an interview to the house magazine of Certified Practicing Accountants of Australia. "NASA has been one of the most successful public investments in motivating students to do well and achieve all they can achieve," said Armstrong. "It's sad that we are turning the programme in a direction where it will reduce the amount of motivation and stimulation it provides to young people." On his historic mission he said: ""A month before the launch of Apollo 11, we decided we were confident enough we could try and attempt on a descent to the surface," said Neil Armstrong. "I thought we had a 90% chance of getting back safely to Earth on that flight but only a 50-50 chance of making a landing on that first attempt. There are so many unknowns on that descent from lunar orbit down to the surface that had not been demonstrated yet by testing and there was a big chance that there was something in there we didn't understand properly and we had to abort and come back to Earth without landing." Neil Armstrong's father was an accountant and it is thought that this might have been a key factor in his granting the interview. +++ Also RIP Neil Armstrong below.

Sir David Attenborough F.I.Biol., has a spider named after him. (That is a species of spider and not an individual one.) The species – Prethopalpus attenboroughi – is a little over a millimetre in length and found only on Horn Island off northern Queensland, Australia. British biologist David Attenborough said, ""Naming a species is the biggest of compliments that you could ask from any scientific community and I truly thank you very much indeed for this one."   The spider is commonly known as a goblin spider, so the scientists behind the find said that made it Attenborough's goblin spider. The team said it was named after Sir David because of his enthusiasm for nature and his ability to make biology accessible to generations of television viewers over six decades."

Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett were on BBC Radio 4's Front Row as part of the launch publicity of their book The Long Earth. The idea for the book was one that Terry had had many years ago but Discworld took off and he never got around to developing it. Of course Terry and Stephen know each other from the British SF circuit of conventions and SF publisher events. Now that Terry is fighting off health problems he is trying to get as much work done as possible, and as Stephen is an established hard SF writer, he was a likely working partner. Though the kernel of the book is Terry's, Stephen has done his share of developing the concept as well as the writing. Indeed because the two commented on each other's contributions, it is now impossible to say who did what. The writing collaboration was fairly harmonious despite a couple of minor rows, but these cannot have been too serious as they are already working on a sequel. The BBC interviewer was Mark Lawson, who in recent years seems to have stopped asking writers disparaging questions such as do you think your writing 'sci fi' undermines your reputation.

Markovics Botond, who is arguably Hungary's only living hard SF writer, has had his novel Az Ember Könyve [Book of the Man] published. A thousand people have been kidnapped by members of an alien race. The aliens are interested in human DNA as their world sees genetic material in flux. The book explores the question as to what it is that (biologically) defines humans as human? And can we still be really human in a genetically fluid environment?

David Bowie has had the 40th anniversary of his June 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars marked with a run of evening programmes on the BBC on both the album and the performer. Upon its release Ziggy Stardust reached number five in the UK and number seventy-five in the US. The album eventually went platinum and gold in the UK and US respectively The album contained a few SFnal tropes and, of course, Bowie is noted for his single, Major Tom, about the trials of an astronaut being blasted into space, as well as playing an alien in the film The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Eric Brown has sold to Jonathan Oliver, commissioning editor of Abaddon Books, Satan's Reach a second 'Weird Space SF' novel. This follows on from Eric’s soon-to-be-published The Devil's Nebula Satan's Reach will be delivered in 2013. It is the second book in the 'Weird Space' series – a seat-of-the-pants adventure about a telepath on the run from the Expansion authorities and the bounty hunter who will stop at nothing to get him – and what they find on a far-flung planet in the badlands of Satan's Reach. It's space opera with the emphasis on starships, aliens, exotic worlds - and the perennial threat from the Weird.’

Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld unfortunately had a heart attack at Readercon in the US, necessitating him spending the con in hospital. Troubles never come singly and on getting home discovered he had a kidney stone. Our wishes for full recovery.

Norman Felton, the UK-born producer of the technothriller series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964-1968), died on 25 June aged 99.

Neil Gaiman is returning to Sandman with a new mini-series. DC Entertainment's Vertigo will publish this in 2013 to celebrate The Sandman's 25th anniversary. The Sandman graphic novels were among the few to be on the New York Times bestseller list, and they have sold 7 million copies worldwide. The new mini-series brings us back to Morpheus. What had happened to Morpheus to allow him to be so easily captured in 'The Sandman #1,' and why he was returned from far away, exhausted beyond imagining and dressed for war? J. H. Williams III (Batwoman) will illustrate and the mini-series will be available in print and in digital formats. +++ His next novel will be The Ocean at the End of the Lane and published in the summer next year (2013). +++ HarperCollins has announced a five-book deal with Neil focusing on children’s books. January sees the release of Chu’s Day, a picture book about a Panda named Chu who has an outsized sneeze. A sequel will follow. Then there will be three mid-grade titles, one of them a sequel to Odd and the Frost Giants, another Fortunately, the Milk. The final book has not yet been titled.

Curtis Jobling, the designer of the BAFTA winning Bob the Builder and the creator of the BBC's children’s animation series Frankenstein’s Cat based upon his book of the same name, has had two books sold to Simon and Schuster. The first novel, Haunt, will be published in 2013, with its sequel following in 2014. He said: 'I wanted to marry comedy and the supernatural together and write a ghostly tale from the point of view of a teenager whose life has been stolen away on the cusp of great things. Well, on the cusp of snogs from the girl of his dreams, anyway. I wondered whether an awkward, nerdy youth would draw on some profound inner power when faced with a limbo existence, haunting his best friend. As ill luck would have it, he becomes an awkward, nerdy ghost. I'd like to say that this isn't semi-autobiographical, but who am I kidding?'

Suzanne McLeod has sold two more supernatural thrillers to Gollancz. The titles reportedly offer a new twist to the Spellcrackers.com series, set in London. Speaking about the deal, Gollancz said 'We’re really thrilled with this new proposal from Suzanne McLeod. Her characters are warm and engaging, their relationships zing, her magic is clever and her London is beautifully evoked. The Spellcrackers novels are perfect for fans of Kim Harrison and Karen Marie Moning, and I think (when we share it!) readers will share our excitement about these novels.'

Barry Malzberg has had successful knee surgery.

George R. R. Martin is to have 8 superhero Wild Cards books to come out in the British Isles. The series, now firmly established in N. America, was created by a group of New Mexico science fiction authors, but it is mostly pulled together and edited Martin and there is a loose overall story arc. Each book is an anthology of shorts from various writers including: Roger Zelazny, Lewis Shiner, Walter Jon Williams, Pat Cadigan, Howard Waldrop, Leanne C. Harper, Chris Claremont, Victor Milán, John J. Miller, and Martin himself. So far only 6 of the 21 books out in the US have been published in the British Isles. The first three of the eight to be released will come out one a month November and December 2012 and January 2013. Then there will be the further 5 between June and October 2013. Each book is standalone despite there being overarching connections. See below Wild Cards: Aces High.

Elizabeth Moon is controversially suggesting that everyone should be bar-coded at birth. Speaking on an episode of the BBC World Service programme The Forum on the future of war, she noted that benefits could include that civilians being spotted and so avoid being collaterally killed said the former marine turned SF/F writer, and weapons would record who used them… Wonder if anyone asked a Syrian for a view?

Terry Pratchett has won the 13th Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction for Snuff. The prize goes to works that best capture the comic spirit of P. G. Wodehouse. Snuff is Terry's 50th book that has become one of the fastest-selling hardback novels since records began. The Prize is sponsored and organized by Bollinger (a producer of sparkling wines from the Champagne region of France) and Everyman Library (a book imprint that is a division of Random House). The winner is announced at the annual Hay (book) Festival and is presented with a jeroboam of Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée as well as 52 volumes of the Everyman Wodehouse edition. Additionally, a Gloucester Old Spot pig is named after the winning novel. +++ See also Stephen Baxter above.

Ridley Scott is the latest to say that science fiction is becoming a worn out genre. He said: "Over the past few decades, we've been 'action filmed-out' and 'monster filmed-out' and almost 'science fiction filmed-out'. So the baseline question is: how original are you going to be?" This is an old message that keeps on cropping up. For example, back in the late 1970s author Christopher Priest argued that SF wears out its tropes. First the concept is developed (such as Karl Capek with the robot in 1920), then the concept is developed (as Asimov did with robotics in the 1940s and '50s) and then the subject of humour (such as Adam's paranoid android Marvin in Hitch-hikers' Guide to the Galaxy in 1978).   Of course the science fact and fiction concateneer counter to such arguments is that as long as science itself develops there is more material for writers to explore and build upon with further 'what-if?' hypotheses.

Chris Roberson, the SF author, has left DC Comics citing their unreasonable treatment of writers. Known primarily for his books, such as Here, There and Everywhere and Paragea, he began working for DC Comics in 2008 under contract on a mini-series set in the universe of the DC/Vertigo series Fables, created by fellow-former-Clockwork Storybook author Bill Willingham. As for his leaving DC, he said: "The short version is, I don't agree with the way they treat other creators and their general business practices." As such his grumbles are in line with those aired by some in the Comics Alliance. (Google "The Ethical Rot Behind Before Watchmen & The Avengers".)

Stanley Schmidt retires as Analog editor. His successor will be Trevor Quachri, the managing editor of both Asimov’s and Analog for the last two years. Schmidt said, "I have now been editor of Analog for 34 years, tying or (depending on how you count) slightly exceeding the previous longest-tenure record of John W. Campbell." He added that he is leaving to follow other interests including writing.

Darren Shan's new series ZOM-B will be launched 27th Sept shortly after we post this season's news. Never heard of Shan? Well this might be because he is an established juvenile fiction writer with HarperCollins whose consumer sales retail value has topped £17 million. However now that many of his readers are older, he has decided to write for a more adult readership so as to continue his relationship with his existing following as well as attracting new readers. One to keep an eye on.

Matt (Dr Who) Smith was one of a number of celebrities who started the month-long 2012 Olympic torch relay. He ran from the old Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay to the Welsh National Assembly building.

Lavie Tidhar is having his novel Osama have a mass-market paperback release from Solaris. Osama was nominated for the 2012 British SF Association Award for 'Best Novel' and it has to be said that it is a very brave novel for someone who has yet to pen many books and not least that it has attracted a few review comments that liken the book to something reminiscent of Philip K. Dick. High praise indeed! Osama was first published by P. S. Publishing, a thriving small press noted for the quality of its output. However because of its niche, P. S. Publishing's titles are not the cheapest (you pay for quality) and so it was not certain that Osama would have reached the larger market that the book arguably warrants. So step up Solaris Books. Solaris itself is not one of the big four British Isles publishers but it does do mass market books and produces some quality SF/F, and their taking on Osama is decidedly welcome news.   As for the novel itself, it is set in an alternate reality where Osama Bin Laden is actually a fictional character appearing in the novels written by Mike Longshott. In this alternate reality a private detective called Joe gets a visitor from a mysterious woman who is seeking Longshott. Joe takes on the case but soon finds himself being shot at and stumble on clues that (unknowingly to Joe) relate to our real world reality…   Osama will be released in October (2012).

A. E. van Vogt was born a hundred years ago at the beginning of the summer, and so this is an appropriate time to remember one of Canada's major contributors to the Golden Age of SF. His novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle (1950) involved a vicious alien that stowed away on an exploration spaceship and then proceeded to start killing the crew. Indeed it is said that A. E. van Vogt brought a case against the makers of the film Alien who reportedly settled for $50,000.   Among his many novels were The World of Null-A (1948) (compiled from a 1945 serial and further revised in 1970), The Players of Null-A (1956), and The Secret Galactics (1974). Among his near two dozen collections of shorts his The Best of A. E. van Vogt (1976) is worth seeking out.

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 2012

FILM NEWS

Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash novel to be filmed by Attack the Block director Joe Cornish. Snow Crash (1992) was Stephenson's third novel. The title refers to his term for a particular software failure mode on the early Apple Macintosh computer. Stephenson wrote about the Macintosh that, "When the computer crashed and wrote gibberish into the bitmap, the result was something that looked vaguely like static on a broken television set — a 'snow crash'". In the novel, the Sumerian language is the program language for the brainstem, which is in turn functioning as the BIOS for the human brain. In addition the goddess Asherah is the personification of a linguistic virus, similar to a computer virus. The god Enki created a counter-program which he called a nam-shub that caused all of humanity to speak different languages as a protection against Asherah (in short this is a take on the Tower of Babel fable) and 'snow crash' is a pseudo-narcotic taken in cyberspace but also which affects biological humans. Snow Crash was nominated for both the British Science Fiction Award (1993) and the Arthur C. Clarke Award (1994). Stephenson is himself a physics graduate based in N. America.   The film Attack the Block was nominated for a Nebula Award last season and did well at the last STIGES Festival of Fantastic Films in Catalan in October. This Joe Cornish venture is at least the second serious attempt to bring the book to the big screen.

Injured Transformers actress gets US$18.5m (£11.7m) settlement. The 26-year-old stunt actress Gabriela Cedillo suffered brain damage when hit by flying metal when driving a car following an action sequence. Unfortunately Paramount Pictures had to be sued to get the pay-out.

SF films top the early summer box office charts. First up was The Avengers Assemble topping the UK and US box office. Then Ridley Scott's Prometheus topped the British Isles (UK and Ireland) box office for three weeks. See Prometheus below…

Prometheus came top of the British Isles (Britain and Ireland) for three weeks taking £19.4m over this time. The film is not only the long-awaited prequel (or pseudo prequel according to director Ridley Scott in pseudo-mode) but is a 3D visual feast. Having said that it is full of logical plot holes and so is decidedly not the SFnal classic as was Alien.

Over half an hour extra of coherent Prometheus cuttings have been identified. So the only thing that remains is when will the director's cut be out?

The Avengers is financially the biggest superhero film to date. It broke records with US$207.4m (£130m) its opening weekend in the US. By week three The Avengers topped the US and Canadian box office for the third week in a row, taking $55.1m (£34.8m). By week three its total worldwide earnings rose to US$1.2bn (£758m). It was also top of the British Isles (UK & Ireland) chart for three weeks taking a three-week total of over £40m (US$68m). All this makes The Avengers the financially most successful comics superhero film to date. Not surprisingly a sequel is being planned: bit of a no brainer that. The Avengers was directed and co-written by Joss Whedon, creator of the TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

The Avengers sequel to be directed by Jos Whedon. Jos Whedon (best known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer) will write and direct Marvel's The Avengers 2 [working title] as well as help develop a new live action series for Marvel Television at ABC. By August (2012) the first Avengers film had become the third top grossing film ever, grossing US$1.46bn (£937m).

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises the summer top of the N. American box office chart. It was at the top for four weeks up to early August. It held off the Total Recall re-make only to be finally topped by the new Bourne Legacy technothriller. Four weeks at the top is undoubtedly a success but overall the N. American (Canada and US) summer box office is not doing so well. On one weekend at the end of July ticket sales were down roughly 28% compared with the same weekend last year (2011), when Rise of the Planet of the Apes made more than US$50 million in its opening weekend.

What's next for Batman? Christopher Nolan has done his thing and while in plot terms there may be an option for a future 'Dark Knight Returns' type Nolan film, Nolan will not be doing anything with Batman in the near-to-medium-term future. So what will happen to Batman next? Well by all accounts the end of August saw The Dark Knight Rises total worldwide take half a billion dollars (over £350 million) and even though that is gross income (not net profit) that is still rather good. So can Warner Brothers afford to leave such a lucrative franchise alone? Unlikely, obviously for the cash but also because Superman is being re-booted and we have a possible Justice League offering which is now very likely given rival Marvel's The Avengers financial success. More likely is a yet-again rebooted Batman that is more in line with a future Superman team-up.

The Dark Tower films and mini-series is having financial problems. The films and mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's books of The Dark Tower which has nine volumes. The idea was to turn it into three films and two miniseries to fill in the gaps between the films. Universal was not prepared to undertake the necessarily large investment and now it appears that Warners are not enthusiastic. However the word has Media Rights Capital may be interested in providing a significant proportion of the finance. The question is whether this can be matched?

Ghostbusters III on the rocks?. It has been a couple of years since we reported that there would be a Ghostbusters III. Sadly it looks like Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd have disagreed about the quality of the script. Bill Murray is apparently saying that he is prepared to look at new scripts and Dan Aykroyd allegedly is prepared to continue with the venture without Bill Murray. The omens are that Murray is out, but Ghostbusters without Bill Murray, is that really viable???

The Hobbit now to be three films?. Having shot two Hobbit films (due out this and next Christmas respectively) Peter Jackson wants to do a third. MGM, New Line and Warner Brothers seem to be up for it. Apparently this will cover ground so far left out of the films that was in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit as well as other Tolkien Middle Earth work.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!: Ray Bradbury - Robert Sheckley teleconference in Bergamo, Italy. Robert Sheckley speaks via teleconference with Ray Bradbury in the occasion of Bradbury's 80th birthday in July 2000. But why actually in Bergamo? During his 'Genovese' period, when Robert Sheckley was living in Italy as a guest of Roberto Quaglia suddenly Ray Bradbury became 80 years old. Now, people of Bergamo had earlier invited Bradbury their city but at the last minute Bradbury could not go. Then in 2000, knowing that Sheckley was in Italy, the people of Bergamo decided that Bradbury might chat with Sheckley in a videoconference. This is the video of that unique - and to some extent bizarre - event. The moderator is Corrado Augias. See the conversation here here.

Film clip download tip!: The Ray Bradbury racy tribute song that was last year nominated for a Hugo, F*%k Me Ray Bradbury and you can watch the video here.

Film clip download tip!: Trailer for David Brin's new, 2012 novel Existence out from Tor UK. It is 2050 and the Perfect Storm has hit. Some of humanity progresses, some declines. Some seek salvation in science; some in religion. Then there is an unexpected first contact. 'Join us'. – See the 3 minute video here.

Film clip download tip!: Trailer for Red Dwarf X. Series X consists of six episodes, was recorded in front of a studio audience in December 2011-January 2012 and will shortly (autumn 2012) air on Dave in Britain. – See the trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Trailer for the game Metro: Last Light. Now, before those non-gamers skip over this, you need to know that this is based on the 2002 Dmitry Glukhovsky [Glukhovski] post-apocalyptic novel Metro 2033. The novel itself is an interesting take on the doomsday scenario (nuclear Armageddon) that is set in the complex nuclear shelter that is the Moscow underground (metro) system. The original novel was also a successful computer game in Russia, but now a decade on (with better technology) we have a new version of the game in English in 2013 with Metro: Last Light. The four and a half minute trailer recounts the events leading up to those entering the shelter. – See it here.

Film clip download tip!: Mini-webseries Broken Toy. The US army needs reaction-fast pilots for supersonic aircraft and so creates advance-reaction humans. However the test subjects fail, except for one who rejects being experimented upon and tries to figure out what was done to him… This mini-series from Forewarned Films came out last year but deserves coming to the attention of the broader SF community. The mini-series has good effects (especially given the budget), good sound, and great acting from the two lead protagonists (great personal chemistry between the two) from episodes 4 onwards. Add a not-bad script and one could easily see that with just a little development this might make for quite a reasonable SF, action cum light comedy thriller film. Each episode lasts between 3.5 and 9 minutes. Here are: episode 1, episode 2, episode 3, episode 4, episode 5 and episode 5.5 episode 6.

Film clip download tip!: Short SF film The Feeling of Unreality. This was originally made for the Sci-Fi London film fest 48 hour challenge in which a short has to be made in just two days and contain a couple of lines dialogue and props provided by Sci-Fi London. However at 8 minutes length this entry was deemed 3 minutes too long and ineligible for this year's contest. But you can enjoy it here.

Film clip download tip!: New Australian SF series Event Zero has a pilot 5-minute webisode here.

Film clip download tip!: New Norwegian SF film, Everywhen.   It is set a few years into the future, where teleporting is as normal as busses and trains, and where scholarships have been replaced with small chips containing knowledge. It’s like living in a Utopia... Until several million people are reported missing, and technology starts failing.. Bit after bit. See the trailer here.

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

For a reminder of the top films in 2011/12 (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 2012 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 2012

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

The New York Forbidden Planet shop (USA) has moved from 840 Broadway and 13th, to further down the road at 832 Broadway. This will give them more space.

Sales of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 surge following the author's demise. Im the US, sales of the latest trade paperback edition of Fahrenheit 451, published in January 2012 by Simon &Schuster, sales reached 7,600 copies for the week ending 17th June enabling it to reach 75 on Nielsen BookScan's overall US bestseller list, and 19 on the trade paper bestseller list. This compares with 3,066 copies in the week ending 3rd June. Something Wicked This Way Comes also saw an increase in sales albeit far more modest. +++ See also elsewhere on this page tributes to Ray Bradbury.

The top summer (July) SF/F books in the British Isles were led by Suzanne Collins Hunger Games. Indeed in terms of overall book sales (not just SF/F) Hunger Games came second only to the suburbian erotica Fifty Shades of Grey. Far lower down the summer's top book charts (of all mass market titles not just SF/F) comes George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones titles and then third, the vampiric Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris. Whose Dead Reckoning mass market paperback edition is out from Gollancz this autumn.

British Isles half-yearly book fiction charts see George R. R. Martin as highest-selling genre author. Game of Thrones came 13th in the 6-month British Isles mass market fiction chart (which includes non-SF/F titles) for January – end of June 2012, and this was the top SF/F title in the chart. Martin's A Clash of Kings came 25th and A Dance With Dragons: After the Feast came 43rd, all being published by Harper Voyager. (The top three titles in the chart – in case you are interested – were non-SF/F and all Fifty Shades of Grey suburbian erotica titles by E. L. James: fantasy but not as we know it.)

Stephen King has best selling UK hardback. The Wind Through the Keyhole, Stephen King's 8th 'Dark Tower' novel came top of the weekly British Isles (Great Britain and Ireland) hardback chart just after Easter with 11,487 copies sold in just 7 days.

Rowling's e-book venture boosts paper copy sales. One big question to arise out of last season's launch of Pottermore, Rowling's new e-book publishing venture, was whether it would damage Bloomsbury's sales of the paper edition's of her Harry Potter books? Now, four months on and we have the answer. The end of March saw an increase in the paper editions of Harry Potter books. Meanwhile the first month of Pottermore saw £3 million worth of Potter e-books sold.

SF/F publisher Angry Robot e-book initiative to boost paperback sales is a huge success. The idea is that every Angry Robot paper/print book sold through the 'Mostly Books' bookshop in Oxfordshire had the option of getting a free additional e-book. This initiative has tripled the sales of Angry Robot print titles from the shop. Now 20 other independent bookshops have indicated a willingness to sign up to the deal.

Book View Café (BVC), the professional author-run e-publisher, has announced the launch of its library-friendly “All You Can Read” e-book programme with the signing of distribution agreements with Douglas County Libraries, the third largest library system in Colorado, and Wheelers Books, New Zealand’s largest online new book supplier to schools and libraries. The arrangement places no restrictions on the number of times our titles may be loaned out and offer up to 45% discount to libraries, making the average price for our books less than NZ$3.00. Everybody wins: libraries, their patrons, and the bookseller's authors. Titles include those by Hugo and Nebula award winners (Ursula Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, David D. Levine, and Linda Nagata), NY Times bestsellers and notable book authors (Patricia Rice, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Lois Gresh, and Sarah Zettel), Campbell winner Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant, and Philip K. Dick award winner C.L. Anderson. Details of the scheme are available from chris[-at-]chris-dolley[-dot-]com. +++ BVC has also had a summer redesign. The new bookstore makes it much easier to browse and sample the books and short fiction available from BVC, and checkout has been vastly simplified. It also features an extensive coupon functionality.

Waterstones to sell rival Amazon Kindles. The Waterstones bookshop chain has decided to sell its rival, internet bookseller, Amazon's Kindle e-book readers. The surprise decision caused a few book trade eyebrows to rise. The decision is not solely giving in to the seemingly inevitable rise of Kindle, but that there does seem to be a link between e-book reader owners (and Kindle is one of the biggest brands) and physical/paper book buying (for example see the previous news item). Waterstones have also started a major refurbishment programme of their stores.

E-book self-published author survey is revealing. Getting published in paper books has never been easy. But now anyone can write 100,000 words and self-publish their books. But is this a route to success? How much do self-published e-book authors make? What genres are most promising for self-published e-book authors?   The firm Teleist has announced the results of its survey of 1,000 self-published e-book authors of whom 72% were based in the US and 9% in Britain.   The results superficially are encouraging for those considering the self-publishing e-book route with respondents average earnings for 2011 being US$10,000. However, drill down into the data a big skew becomes apparent. Half the respondents failed to get US$500, and indeed only a small number of those surveyed accounted for 75% of the total income those surveyed earned in 2011, so that less than 10% of those surveyed actually made enough to live off their earnings. However two-thirds of those top earners were women. As for genres, the big self-published e-book income seems to come from romance titles as opposed to SF/F or literary fiction. Other strong tips for success (apart from being able to write a book with a decent plot, structure and characterisation) included the author investing in a professional copy editor, professional proof reader and a decent cover – costs that themselves will set back prospective a couple of thousand dollars/pounds. +++ A separate study showed that self-published authors who subsequently got an agent, so that a professional publisher took on their e-book, is far more financially rewarding than going it alone.

Belief that self published e-books have a role prevails among professional authors a survey reveals. The survey by the consultancy firm Writers Workshop was of 320 professional writers in Britain. Some 74.2% had considered self-publishing directly to their readers but only 17.5% had actually done so, and only 9.4% were confident enough to say that their going the self-published route was a matter of time. 48.1% thought that they would still be conventionally published in 5-10 years time. Pulling all this together, it looks like professional think that self-publishing will be at least a part of their publishing mix in the future in a world still dominated by conventional publishing of both paper and e-books.

US self-published paper/print books boost the total number of new US paper titles. Data from the Bowker US bibliographic information service (think Whitakers in Britain) suggest that the number of new printed book titles in the US in 2010-2011 were up 6% from 328,259 to 347,178. However, remove the self-publisher print book titles and the new print titles number is flat. +++ Reprints via print on demand in terms of sales value went down 69% in 2010-11. +++ All this is set against the rise of e-books. The total book trade is healthy but the picture is complex.

Cambridge University Press ends in-house printing and warehousing. Where CUP and OUP go today, the rest of academic science publishing goes tomorrow, so this news is significant. Two thirds of the CUP printers have been taken on by the commercial company who will now do much of the UK-based printing. The decision to cease in-house printing was that CUP had been shipping tonnes of books all over the world. Today it is easier to send a book electronically and then have it printed in the appropriate continent. +++ What this means for one of us on the SF2 Concat team is that his science book readers are likely to get their books faster. The hardback of Jonathan's first edition sold out before the book was launched necessitating a reprint and an additional three week wait for some readers in N. America. However his forthcoming expanded second edition is being printed in both the US and Britain.

Learned science societies spurn 6-month free access proposal. The Government body responsible for much British government funding distribution for science research – Research Councils UK (RCUK) – has called for its researchers to ensure free access of their research papers 6 months following publication. The RCUK move follows calls for open access to tax-payer funded research to tax payers by Parliamentary Select Committees. However many British Learned Societies make most of their income from journal publishing. And so the Association of Learned & Professional Scientific Publishers (which represents scientific publishing in Britain) and the Publishers Association (representing commercial publishers) have said that this will mean that many university libraries will cancel journal subscriptions. +++ This debate has been running for a decade now and the arguments on both sides are not new. SF2 Concatenation has a number of scientists on the team and there is a compromise that nobody is discussing – have the embargo limit set at two years and not 6 months. Most of the public do not need or want the latest research. Even undergraduate university students tend look at the paper that significantly affected the shape of their discipline and this is only apparent after a couple of years. Only researchers and postgraduate university students critically need access to research published in the past two years. However nobody is discussing this option (yet).

More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in January 2013. 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 2012

TV NEWS

BBC Dirk Gently axed. The series based on Douglas Adams' novel saw rating of the pilot exceed one million. However the three-part mini-series saw numbers fall to below 600,000 by its end.

The Dr Who Experience opens in Cardiff. The Doctor Who attraction has specially built sets and interactive features saw thousands of tickets sold in advance of its opening. Based near the BBC's Roath Lock studios in Cardiff Bay, it is expected to attract up to 250,000 visitors a year. Exclusive filming with Doctor Who actor, Matt Smith, is one of the features at the exhibition as well as a (non-functioning) replica of the TARDIS.

The Dr Who 2012 Christmas special to star Richard E Grant. Previously Richard Grant also played an unofficial 'Tenth Doctor', aka 'The Quite Handsome Doctor', in a 1996 Comic Relief spoof. The Christmas special is also expected to see the debut of Dr Who's new companion, played by actress Jenna-Louise Coleman.

Tom Baker to return to Dr Who. Tom Baker plus scarf will reprise their roles for the series' 50th anniversary in November, 2013. This is quite a surprise as Tom (who played the Time Lord from 1974 to 1981) refused to appear on the 20th anniversary show in 1983. In 2013 he will join with the current Doctor (Matt Smith). +++ Diana Rigg and daughter Rachael Stirling are also to appear in Doctor Who. Diana Rigg is most famously know for being Mrs Emma Peel in The Avengers. Rachael Stirling is most noted for playing Nan Astley in Tipping the Velvet (2002). The actresses will play 'a mother and daughter with a dark secret' alongside Matt Smith, as the Doctor, and new companion Jenna-Louise Coleman.

Sweden's Real Humans comes to Britain and N. America. Isaac Asimov would probably enjoy this one. Hubots (or androids to us) are stronger, smarter, more attractive than humans. As such are they tools or threats and what of the humans responsible for them? The Swedish series Äkta Människor [Real Humans] was broadcast back in January to much success. It is produced by SVT and Matador Films in collaboration with Denmarks Radio and YLE, with funding from Norway's Film & TV Fond and Nordvisionsfonden, so it has a genuine Scandinavian pedigree. The British Isles rights have been sold to Kudos Film & Television. It is going to be shown in Australia, France and Germany and N. America.

Season 3 of The Walking Dead starts in October. The new season of the TV adaptation of Robert Kirkman's zombie post-apocalyptic graphic novels see the main band of survivors hole up in a Prison. Meanwhile two others find a town that has protected itself, sealed off from the zombie horde outside.

Black Mirror gets a 2nd series. We cited the first series as one of the best TV science fiction offerings of 2011. Created by journalist and humourist Charlie Brooker, the short series (just three stand-alone episodes) is a very dark look at modern society, with three vignettes looking at how technology affects our lives. The first episode, in which a fictional Prime Minister was blackmailed into having sex with a pig, prompted 322 complaints to Ofcom (the British television standards regulatory body) and Channel 4 but also won it a Golden Rose for best comedy at this year's Rose d'Or Television Festival.

 

[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 2012

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

The 2012 Worldcon Chicon 7 is held. Tragic news that one of the committee died a week before the event. Also sadly, but far less serious, artist Guest of Honour Rowena Morrill was unable to attend having recently been hospitalized following health problems, but is now recovering well. The numbers registered for this year's Worldcon topped 5,000 prior to the event and there were day walk-ins too.   There were, of course loads of authors predominantly fantasy and then SF but also a couple of science writers. It is difficult to say how many were there but as some 62 writers held formal signing sessions on the programme, so the number at the convention most likely exceeded a hundred. One plus point (of a few) was that in addition to a timetable, the pocket book broke down the programme by category. (Well done!)
          Programme items of likely interest to science fact & science fiction Concateneers were this year mainly panels (sadly too few talks by experts) and heavily dominated by space science: thin pickings for biologists, chemists, computer scientists and engineers. Indeed this was so much so that the programme booklet not only had a science category but a space science category too. Having said that, there was as usual at least something for virtually everyone.   Programme items included: 'Sometimes Things Go Wrong in Space'; 'Logic and Time Travel'; 'Is Europe Winning the Space Science Race?'; 'Latest News From Astronomy'; 'Ozma Plus 50: My Week Among the Searchers for Extraterrestrial Intelligence'; 'Exploring the Solar System'; 'Transhumanism and Space Exploration'; 'The Hubble Space Telescope'; 'Dyson Sphere Update'; 'The End of the Space Shuttle Era'; 'Transhumanism: Where Do We, as Homo Sapiens, Go From Here?'; 'The Future of Food'; 'How Google Works'; 'Global Warming' (which the organisers failed in their brief to distinguish whether it was a panel on the latest climate change science or a science versus denialist bun fight); 'Talk to a Rocket Scientist (putting science into fiction)'; 'Space Law'; 'Medicine and Science Fiction'; 'Exoplanets, Exobiology, Extensions of SF'; 'Toxicology 101: Everything You Know Is Wrong'; 'Interplanetary Hotels'; 'The Lives (and Deaths) of Stars'; 'After NASA?'; 'Climate Change and Society'; 'Space Medicine: The Ultimate House Call'; 'Curiosity: The Mars Science Laboratory'; 'Space Battles'; 'Manned Space Stations'; 'New Space: Where Do We Go Now?' (post space shuttle); 'Planet Earth at a Crossroads' (human development and biosphere); 'World Building Workshop: The Ecosystem'; 'Galaxies, the Universe'; 'Human or Robot: Is Human Spaceflight Necessary?'; 'Is the Apocalypse Such a Bad Thing?'; 'Looking Forward to the Post Apocalyptic World'; 'Apollo 13: Teamwork and Problem Solving'; 'The Space Programme Viability'; 'The Resurgence of Pseudo-Science in 21st Century America'; 'What Energy Sources Are Sustainable?'; 'Towards More Realistic Spacecraft'; 'Longevity Panel'; 'Random Mathematical Fluctuation in the Understanding of the Higgs Bosun'; 'String Theory for Dummies'; 'Merging Mind and Machine'; 'Crewed Space and History'; 'The “Other” Space Telescopes'.
          Film programme was this year much better than most recent Worldcons and in its way up to the high standard of Aussiecon 3 in 2010. The film programme was dominated by short films, but there is nothing wrong with this airing of often new and invariably independent talent; indeed it is most laudable.. Some feature films were shown but the only regret here being that they were largely N. American and did not reflect World SF cinema which something one hopes for at a Worldcon. Of course there was a raft of anime and cartoons.
          Other programming included the usual fancy dress parade which again as in recent decades was dominated by fantasy rather than SF entries but -- as in recent years -- with some steampunk. Chicon members also had free access to the Adler Planetarium.   Other Worldcon programme organisers please note... One very positive aspect of the Chicon 7 programme was that this was one of the Worldcons with hardly any programme schedule changes: hardly any items were cancelled or shifted in time. (Unfortunately a few Worldcons are badly run in this regard.) The main changes were that some panellists dropped out and others were added. Though this is not ideal, such minor changes attendees are things with which average attendees can easily live. What Chicon got right was very much to adhere to the published programme time and location schedule.
          Then there was all the usual. With so many authors, book commissioning editors, literary agents, convention runners, zine editors around there was much business discussed. Again naturally as usual with so many fans there was much socialising. And of course there was the Hugo Awards presentation, and a good dealers hall and art show.

Progress Report 2 out for the 2013 Worldcon, Lonestarcon 3 in Texas, US. Guests of Honour are: Ellen Datlow, James Gunn, Willie Siros, Norman Spinrad and Darrell K. Sweet, together with Toastmaster: Paul Cornell, and Special Guests: Leslie Fish and Joe R. Lansdale. PR2 contains further committee member details. There is an announcement that it will hold the NASFic site selection for 2014. (The NASFic is effectively a N. American continental convention held when the Worldcon is outside the US which it will be in 2014 when the Worldcon is held in good old Blighty.) Right now, Phoenix, Arizona is the only NASFic contender. Progress Report 2 also announced that there will be a Dr Who exhibition to celebrate 50 years of the programme. There is some tourism info. Finally PR2 has some programme news and that there will be a special Spanish language track.   Progress Report #3 will be published in January of 2013. It will contain information on the Art Show and Dealers’ Room; hotel registration will also be included.

Britain wins bid to host 2014 Worldcon. Well at last we can breathe. Though Britain was the only bid on this year's Worldcon site selection ballot for two years time, there was always the chance that the Worldcon bid team could do something silly to alienate Worldcon voters. This has not happened. The bid team commendably has on it a few who are little known on the international Worldcon-Eurocon SF scene outside of the British Isles. (This is commendable as new international conrunning blood needs to be encouraged.) But the team has on it some with experience too, and they had ready access to those central to the two previous British Isles hosted Worldcons and so it was unlikely that they would make a major cock up causing Worldcon voters to vote for no site selection. (Had this happened the site selection for 2014 would have been held over till next year and no doubt there would then have been a hastily prepared rival N. American bid that would have won.) But it all went well and there was a very large vote for London. This is encouraging as it means it is likely that many from N. America (Worldcons largest constituency) will come to London.   London is also noted for its larger than usual British Eastercons: well over a thousand attending the last two times this happened albeit for atypical reasons – one saw a small but respectable Euroconference (European SF Society conference as opposed to Eurocon) adding numbers and the other most recent was George R. R. Martin boosted – last year he effectively saved Britain's SF/F book market from recession decline.)   Taking all this into account, it could well be that London will see a Worldcon topping 5,000. More good news is that the venue can handle this number. And then there is the added attraction of a British Isles Eurocon the following weekend.   The Worldcon committee is beginning to be fleshed out and also commendably they have produced a pre-bid Progress Report.
          Of course Britain must not let this positivity engender overconfidence. Even though the previous British Worldcons were successful they still had their minor shortcomings. The last two were plagued by programme scheduling changes on the day (something that good Worldcons and other large conventions successfully avoid as did this year's Worldcon). The last two British Worldcons also had lamentably poor film programming despite mainland continental Europe and Britain producing much, truly excellent, independent SF hardly seen in the mainly Hollywood-dominated media. Several films chosen by an expert (perhaps from Sci Fi London?) and each screened a couple of times over the convention's 5 days (so as to provide choice-of-time viewing – something you cannot do with repeating panels) would be hugely welcome. Also including all films on the main programme grid with short descriptors in the pocket timetable are basics that were not done for the last two British Worldcons. (And this time please keep any laissez faire video stream and its organisation quite separate.)
          Apart from building on undoubted past success, building on the Worldcon support London 2014 has engendered, and recognising and correcting past slip-ups, what else might the Worldcon committee do? Well, one of the successes of the previous British Worldcon was that it promotionally teamed up with other conventions held the weekend before and after that event. The range of fan interest is such that it should be possible for the British Isles fan community to put on four or five smaller specialist conventions the weekends immediately before and after 14-18th August 2014 and for the Worldcon and these conventions to promote each other (contra promotion as it is known in the PR business).   One benefit to the 2014 Worldcon committee is that, apart from promotional exchange, there is nothing else for them to do as the other con teams will organise the other conventions. What such arrangements will do is to encourage those from other continents who have already paid for a transatlantic ticket to take in another smaller convention and do some tourism while over here in the British Isles. Already we have the Dublin Eurocon the weekend after the Worldcon and this is a start. But what of other conventions? Could say Manchester's Festival of Fantastic Films (traditionally held late summer) be another option the weekend before, and can the Tolkien Society be persuaded to hold another event the weekend next to the Worldcon as they did before?   London 2014 may seem a long way away, but for the committee and the SF community in the British Isles there is a lot to be done and huge potential to be realised…   Now, can we persuade James Bond and Her Majesty to parachute in to the opening ceremony?   +++ See also the new non-fiction book on London's East End which is where the 2014 Worldcon will be held.

London 2014 Worldcon Guests of Honour. These were announced following winning the bid at this year's Chicago Worldcon. The Guests of Honour are to be: Iain Banks (author of the 'Culture' space opera novels), John Clute (SF encyclopaedist), Chris Foss (SF book cover artist), Malcolm Edwards (SF book editor and publishing supremo), Robin Hobb (fantasy author and non-European GoH) and Bryan Talbot (graphic novel artist and writer). Plus Fan GoH: Jeanne Gomoll. A good selection of GoHs that surely provides at least someone for every SF fan, if not more for most. +++ 2nd London Worldcon promotional video is available for viewing on YouTube complete with messages from the GoHs and sight of the venue.

Worldcon 2015 Helsinki, Finland new bid. The new bid was announced at Chicon 7. Finnish fandom, despite being a nation of some 5 million, has Finncons of 4,000 (they used to be even bigger when combined with Finland's anime con) and so they can physically conrun large conventions of Worldcon size. The programme streams would all be in English apart from one or possibly two that would be in Finnish. It may seem odd that they are bidding for 2015 as if they win it will mean two consecutive Worldcons outside of N. America. Indeed they might have been better served bidding for 2016 (and might even want to consider changing the year of their bid) as that will mean a site selection vote at London in 2014 and so the possibility of accruing European fan support. However if, and this is a big if, N. American fans do support a Finn 2015 bid at the vote at next year's Worldcon (as opposed to the two rival N. American bids in 2015) then this will be the first time that there will be two non-N.American Worldcons in successive years. This would be a genuine milestone for Worldcons putting the World into Worldcons (which were originally named after the 1930s World Fayre held in the US).

Other future Worldcon bids. We have covered these before. See previous summary and its links to earlier coverage. We will provide a review of all the bids for future worldcons with the summer 2013 season's coverage.

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

For links to Worldcon bid websites check out the Worldcon bid page.

 

Meanwhile over in Europe…

The 2012 Eurocon was held in Zagreb, Croatia. This was to be a tough act to follow after last year's excellent event in Sweden however Croatia, acquitted itself well and its committee can now rest with heads held high. Indeed numbers were up on Sweden last year with 1,000 paying registrants at Zagreb together with 300 children and their parents/teachers who entered the convention's SF competition and so got free registration as did the con's sponsors: so that's 1,300 total attending.   There were six parallel programme streams for most of the con mainly of panels, but some welcome stand-alone solo talks though nearly non-existent on recent European films (in part a shame as Europe regularly produces some fine SF/F indie offerings) and (of relevance to science fact and fiction Concateneers) the convention was also light on science. However, there was a very worthy theme running through the programme of European fandom and literature as well as joint ventures between European countries. The Guests of Honour got a reasonable showing on the programme (some other Eurocons under-use their guests) and these were: Tim Powers, Charles Stross and the Croatian author Darko Macan, plus fan guest Cheryl Morgan. Above all, like previous year Sweden, the programme was integrated with many panels having participants from both western as well as eastern Europe. (A few Eurocons not make the most of the European dimension integrating the programme this way with host nation and foreign participants, or firmly promoting the European dimension to their own host nation attendees as per ESFS guidance. Fortunately many more Eurocons do.)   The weather was fine, Zagreb a charming city though the memory of recent troubles were not far away in many visitors' minds. The food was good (and one of the benefits of Eurocons is that many European nations have their own distinctive national dishes). There was much socialising in the evenings and a merciful late start to each following mornings' programme (something that more conventions might want to contemplate: would 11am be about right?). One neat touch was the service for foreign visitors to the con for just a few Euros to have a guide meet and return them to the airport. Most non-Anglophone nation Eurocons have someone meet groups of visiting fans and help transfer to and from the airport to the hotel (which can be daunting if you do not speak the language and the first sign of a bad Eurocon to come if it is not done), but Zagreb did it just for individuals for a small sum. In short, a good time was had by all and Zagreb could easily attract another Eurocon in the not-too-distant future. And, of course, the Eurocon awards were presented for which we were rather appreciative. +++ Jim Walker elsewhere gives us his separate report on the 2012 Eurocon SF convention.

The Eurocon bidding session for the 2014 Eurocon saw undermining disquiet but a sound win. Regulars to the European SF Society (ESFS) business meetings will be aware of their (ahem) free spirit format in recent years. This year's meeting saw two bids for the 2014 Eurocon.   Now, to be fair, there were pros and cons to both bids (see discussion in our Spring 2012 news). All well and good, but prior to this year's Zagreb Eurocon there were some manifestations associated with one of the ESFS officers suggesting that Dublin, Ireland, had won the bid before the Zagreb Eurocon and the vote had been taken!   And then there was the seemingly not unconnected behaviour of one of the officers at the ESFS bidding session itself which was sufficient for one of the Romanian bid organisers to be unsettled (see lenghel.net/wp/reflectii/esfs-should-reform).   All of this presumption of a one-horse race was a little surprising as, for example, SF2 Concatenation has been following both the bids closely in each of our seasonal news pages (see news in the autumn 2011, spring 2012 and the summer 2012). So the fact that there were two bids for the 2014 was no secret: the 2014 Eurocon was not a forgone conclusion!   As it turned out at Zagreb, Dublin, Ireland, won the bid by a large margin 61 to 16.   Now, while Ireland arguably had the stronger bid it certainly did not help ESFS's credibility for the perception of bias that had taken place, nor does it enhance the Irish bid's moral standing, even though they themselves did absolutely nothing wrong and ran a very fair campaign.   There is naught at this stage we can do about all this except firmly note the ESFS governance failure, understand what happened and move on… Next up at the business meeting was the membership of the ESFS secretariat. Some of you may remember that it had been announced at the 2011 Swedish Eurocon that this year's (2012) Croatian Eurocon would see the ESFS officers election. This election did not happen; presumably the ESFS officer speaking last year got the dates wrong. Instead the elections will take place next year at Kiev. Hopefully the officer concerned, having served ESFS for many years, will decide to move on after next year's officers vote at the Kiev Eurocon and so we can truly leave such kerfuffles behind us.
          The good news is that ESFS has much going for it. The 1990 fall of the Iron Curtain between Eastern and Western Europe and the subsequent decade of economic growth (especially air travel), not to mention the years around the millennium seeing the rise of the internet and e-mail, all have enabled Eurocons to switch from being biennial to annual. Furthermore SF/F/H, as a broad genre encompassing books, TV, film and gaming, has grown markedly. So the future potential for ESFS is truly considerable.   Eurocon fans with a sense of strategic vision and/or leadership skills (who can build a team of volunteers that has the necessary vision and delivery capability) are needed to get involved in ESFS. The various ESFS posts are not that demanding, though focus, networking and a commitment to undertake the minimal work involved in a timely way are all required. Conversely, the rewards in contributing something solid to the European SF scene are considerable, not least being able to see and interact with a diverse range of SF communities across Europe. What we do not want is another decade of constitution tinkering (though some overdue reform has not yet been undertaken especially with regards the Eurocon bid process, defining eligibility of Eurocon award categories, and ESFS officer duties), nor do we need tinkering at the frills with new logos, mission statements and other ephemera. Building core substance into what ESFS does and its delivery needs to be the focus of the coming decade.   The 2013 Eurocon in Kiev is where it will (or will not) start to happen.

The 2014 Eurocon will be held in Dublin, Ireland on 22nd – 24th August 2014 and called Shamrokon. This will be the second Irish Eurocon and longstanding fans may wish to note that the new committee is unconnected with that of the 1997 Irish Eurocon. Being held the weekend after the Worldcon in London (just three clear days between the two) means that visitors to London who wish to do both cons can have a clear day or two sight-seeing in London before moving on to Dublin and having a 24 hour period of site-seeing there before the Eurocon starts.   The venue is the 4-star Burlington Hotel. Because some may find the cost of doing two international cons on the trot heavy on the wallet/purse, the committee has identified a range of alternative accommodation nearby including hotels for €70-90 (£56-£70) per room per night, university accommodation for €45 (~£36) per person per night and hostels and guest houses from €20 (~£16) per person per night. They will have all of these available through a central booking service shortly. Two guests of honour, the US writer Seanan McGuire and the Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick have been announced. The committee are also in touch with several other potential guests, and it is their intention to have at least one mainland European guest who works primarily in a language other than English. The Dublin team were also signing up registrants at the 2012 Zagreb Eurocon and by the end of Zagreb some 80 mainland continental Europeans had registered for the 2014 Dublin Eurocon Shamrokon. All of which looks promising for a full-bodied, European flavoured, Eurocon.

Eurocon 13 will be held in Kiev, Ukraine. No news further to last season's (we did ask). The only thing to add is not to be put off by the racism at the Ukraine hosted European football over the summer, or one of their politician's controversial imprisonment, or even their recent parliamentary fisticuffs, all of which made Britain's (hence probably elsewhere in Europe's) national news earlier this year. The Kiev SF community is more civilised.

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 2012

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

Fan dies at Comic-Con. A Twilight fan died having been run over outside Comic-Con in San Diego, US. Gisela Gagliardi was walking along the kerb when she stumbled, fell into the street and was run over by a passing car. A Subaru Outback had had a green light when his vehicle hit the 50-year-old woman shortly before 9:30 am. Gisela Gagliardi was among a large group that had been waiting near the convention centre since Sunday specifically to see the cast of the Twilight films.

The Ansible monthly newszine reaches 300th issue without mishap. Ansible has reached issue 300, the monthly SF newsletter has been going for the past 25 years providing a concise, largely British SF book fandom, summary of the SF scene. Of course 25 years ago it was a double-sided single sheet paper newsletter given out at the London SF Circle as well as the Birmingham SF group. These days it is available on the web. Along the way it has garnered a number of 'Best Fanzine', and for its editor David Langford 'Best Fan Writer', Hugo Awards. Congratulations.

Anticipatia Romania's longest running semi-prozine is relauched. Founded in 1983 (though advance copies of the first edition came out at the end of 1982) Anticipatia has been a source of the Romanian SF community's news, reviews as well as some fiction. The re-launch is possible because one of Romania's leading SF book imprints, Bucharest based Nemira, will be handling production. Alexandru Mironov will be the Honorary Chair of the Editorial Board, a role he has done before. The magazine's formal launch will be accompanied by a website. The first edition of the re-launch is, we are told, likely to contain material by the British writer Ian Watson as well as the Italian writer Roberto Quaglia.

Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine has 10th anniversary. Issue 56 marked the Australian SF magazine's 10th birthday. It is available in a variety of formats from www.andromedaspaceways.com.

Weird Tales in racism controversy. Weird Tales editor Marvin Kaye had announced that he would be publishing an extract from a self-published novel by Victoria Foyt but that this excerpt seen on-line has been widely decried as racist. After much debate in the blogosphere Weird Tales publisher John Harlagher has said that this content would not now run. Weird Tales had had a successful editorial team but following new ownership this has changed.

Åcon 5 continues successful run of the Finn-Swedish international convention. Acon is a small relaxa, but literary sercon, SF convention of both Swedish and Finnish fandom located on the island of Åland in the Baltic between the two countries. Though only the 5th Acon and being small, the series has a reputation and in 2010 it won Sweden's Tentacle Award. This year saw numbers once more marginally up to just over 90, which means that if it continues to grow then in a few years time there will be difficulty fitting everyone in to the main hall, but this is not a problem yet. This year’s GoH was Catherynne Valente who by all accounts had a good time. The con, being a relaxacon, has a light programme that did not begin before midday so enabling tourism or recuperation from the previous night's partying. There were a few good panels including one on the various incarnations/interpretations of Sherlock Holmes, as well as another on the works of Jack Vance. One convention highlight was the island's premiere of Iron Sky< which was screened at the local cinema. The one marginal downside was that the convention clashed with the world ice hockey championship finals and the hotel is used by local sports fans to watch live games. Nonetheless the con was a success and another is planned for next year.

Serbia to organise 2nd SFTERRACON. It will be held just before Christmas in Belgrade, Serbia, on 21st December, 2012. There will be a programme of talks, few panels, video rooms, game rooms, exhibits, and some free refreshments. The organisers, the SF Association-Belgrade-Serbia, ran SFTERRACON I in October 2009, and that had guests from all former-Yugoslavian countries. The convention is named after the group's clubzine Terra.

New Zealand 2012 national SF convention -- Full report just posted.

The DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) has voted to hold-over funds to 2013. The Fan Fund aims to get Australasian fans to N. American based Worldcons and vice-versa every other year. This year's leg would have been from N. America to Australasia but the organisers left the nomination and voting so late that it was felt that three months would not be enough time for the winner to plan and raise the balance funding needed for a visit and indeed it would have been impossible for the winner to attend the New Zealand natcon as that had already taken place before the DUFF vote result announcement.

The DUFF (Going Under [or Get Up and Over] Fan Fund) nominations for 2013 now open. GUFF proceed help transport SF fans from Europe to Australasia (and vice versa). Nominations are now open for the southbound race, to transport a European fan (or fans) to Conflux, the 2013 Australian National Convention (NatCon), on 25th to 28th April 2013. Depending on the length of trip they're able to make, the winner could also consider attending Swancon in Perth (29th March to 1st April) and/or Au Contraire 2 in Wellington (12th to 14th July). The winner will also be required to take over the administration of the fund for the next northbound and southbound races. If you wish to stand, please contact us at james [at] scifi [dot] ie (British Isles) or kylie_ding [at] hotmail [dot] com (Australasia).

The Eagle Awards continue!!! Despite a rumour apparently started by someone associated with the London-based comic convention at which the Eagles are presented that this year (2012) was to be the last year of the awards, the Eagles are to continue. The rumour was that they would be re-named after the convention. However those behind the Eagle Awards have stated their firm intention to continue and reportedly deny knowledge of the earlier purported change. Looks like someone tried to pull a fast one. Huge shame and not honourable. Long may the Eagles continue. +++ See also this year's Eagle principal category wins.

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 2012

NET WATCH

Fantasy Short Stories is a new publication established with the aim of publishing the best short stories in Heroic, Epic, and High Fantasy, and with plenty of Swords and Sorcery thrown in. Although many of its authors may be less well known, it aims to set high standards for publication, and to discover some great new talent in the world of fantasy fiction. Fantasy Short Stories aims to provide a safe haven for all lovers of 'proper' fantasy – it waves garlic maces in the face of all urban vampires. Fantasy Short Stories Issue 1 is available on SmashWords at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/157898.

The Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) has launched its website. This fulfils its promise to deliver the most innovative and widely read new multimedia forum for vibrant, ongoing dialogue about books and culture including science fiction books: it has an SF genre page. The complete site www.lareviewofbooks.org offers an interactive online literary experience, featuring reviews and essays, video and audio of author interviews and events, reader forums, a searchable database of books, authors and their publishers.

Google 'in breach' of UK data privacy. Google has admitted that it had not deleted users' personal data garnered via home wifi during surveys for Street View. The data should have been deleted in 2011 as part of a deal signed by the firm in November 2010. Britain's Information Commissioner is analysing the data to ascertain the degree of the breach. When Google found it still had the data it approached Information Commissioner asking what it should do. 30 countries are affected an the authorities in some of these are also investigating including the US Federal Trade Commission. The British Information Commissioner Office (ICO) has said, 'The ICO is clear that this information should never have been collected in the first place and the company's failure to secure its deletion as promised is cause for concern.'

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

Digital iris (eye) biometric security scans can be fooled. No surprises there as politicians faith in digital biometrics as a security measure is flawed (also previously noted among others by a House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee report some years ago). Researchers from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid recreated the image of an iris from digital codes of actual iris data and announced their results at the annual Black Hat security conference (Las Vegas, US). They printed out images of irises which in 80% of attempts fooled a security scanner that cleared it as the real eye. Universal biometric IDs are not fool proof. Data can be manipulated. Databases can be hacked. IDs can be stolen. (And there are also personal freedom and state control issues.) Notwithstanding this, the 9/11 terrorists had genuine passports and criminals can have clean pasts (all have a first offence let alone an offence first caught). Instead security effort should be into investigating threats and old fashioned security policing is more secure if adequately resourced compared to having faith in technology that can be subverted (let alone impinges on personal data).

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a new multi-player game due out February 2013. Based on the 20th Century Fox Alien franchise, the scenario is an orbital space station infestation of aliens which (you) the colonial marines are sent to clean up. Xbox360 and Playstation versions available.

 

[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 2012

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

Higgs boson found… It is almost certain. Well it has been quite a ride these past few years what with Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) powering up for the first time at the end of 2008 and then the LHC fire, and then at the end of last year the first tentative signs of the Higgs particle. And now it seems certain that we have got it. And what a big boy it is too, weighing in at 125 GeV (giga-electron volts) which makes it 133 times the mass of a proton that almost begs the question as to how we missed it before? The answer to that is how it interacts with other particles. And here is the nub of the problem. Because interacting with other particles confers them with mass, then the mass of the Higgs should vary. That observations suggest a fairly tight mass constraint of 125 GeV suggests some (unknown) stabilising mechanism.   What else is there? Well the discovery in reality of the previously hypothetical Higgs means that the 'standard' Standard Model still seems to hold water and not the Higgs-free version known as Technicolour (or 'Technicolor' in non-European English speak). Also ruled out are several versions of an extension of the Standard Model called Supersymmetry (SUSY) that predicts several types of Higgs boson. And also there is little sign of SUSY's extra dimensions that would have swallowed up some of the energy of the collision that enabled the Higgs to be detected (and also help stabilise the Higgs mass). Having said that the Higgs seems to be decaying into pairs of photons twice as fast as anticipated, so suggesting that it might be interacting with a super-partner of the top quark (which some variants of SUSY predict).   So if the simpler or 'minimal' versions of SUSY are out, what about 'near-minimal' versions of SUSY? This would fit in with the super-partner suggestion and Higgs being so massive.   As to what is the bottom line? Well, it is beginning to look like it is between some highly specialist form of SUSY extending the Standard Model could possibly be the framework for the way the Universe works, or it could be something we have yet to dream up. As for the moment, we need more data and here the good news is that it is coming. Time for a cup of tea.

There could possibly be as many as around 7,000 isotopes. We know of about 3,000 isotopes of elements of which 288 are stable elements. Now there has been an estimation of the theoretical chemical nuclear landscape by Jochen Erler and colleagues (Nature, vol. 486, pages 509-512) that suggests that the number of theoretical isotopes could be as many as around 7,000. Having said that, many of these will be short-lived and created by super-nova, black hole formation and other such exotic cosmological processes and just maybe some of their spectra could be detected.

New super-hard carbon material created. The news structure is formed by compressing carbon buckyballs with a xylene solvent. The resulting carbon based material is so hard that it will dent diamond (the previously hardest substance in the world. The research was conducted at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and the Carnegie Institute of Washington’s Geophysical Laboratory. The results were announced in the 16th August 2012 issue of Science.

Single photon gate principle demonstrated. At the moment computers rely on microscopic components consisting of billions of atoms but ultimately – in theory – data could be stored, transferred and manipulated by single atoms. That at least is the theory; the practice is different. A spate of papers over the past decade has demonstrated entanglement of single as well as, more recently, clumps of photons. There have been other developments too, but the latest is the development of a technique that enables the passage of single photons but blocks multiple photons. Now a team of 7 US-based, and one German-based, researchers have shown that a cold atomic gas coupled to Rydberg levels (high-lying atomic states)will allow the transmission of single photons but be opaque to many photons. Ultimately this could lead to single-photon switches, photon detectors of high quantum efficiency and non-destructive photon detection. So benefits will not just accrue to quantum computing but optics (such as applied to astronomy and microscopy) and no doubt other areas. (Source: Peyronel et al, 2012, Nature, vol. 488, pp57-60, and an explanatory piece Walker, 2012, Nature, vol. 488, pp 39-40.)

Oldest musical instrument found. Flutes made from mammoth bone have been found at the Geissenkloesterle Cave in Germany near the Danube. Carbon dating puts them at between 42,000 and 43,000 years old. Some researchers think that music appreciation and generation may have been one of a number of key of behaviours that helped early modern humans have an edge over Neanderthals. These results are also consistent with the hypothesis that the Danube River was a key corridor for the movement of humans and technological innovations into central Europe between 40,000-45,000 years ago. (See http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00472484 for Journal of Human Evolution 'Testing models for the beginnings of the Aurignacian and the advent of figurative art and music: The radiocarbon chronology of Geißenklösterle'.)

Fire used by humans much earlier than thought. Fragments of burnt bone and plant ash have been found in one-million-year-old sediments at Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape province, South Africa. Previously the use of fire was attributed to 400,000 years ago (Berna, F. et al. (2012) Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 109, E1215–E1220.).

Dairy herding in Sahara 5,200-3,800 BC, evidence found. Evidence for this 5th millennium BC (7 thousand years ago) Sahara dairying comes from 13C isotopic analysis of alkanoic acid molecules embedded in pottery unearthed by archaeological digs. The range of 13C shows that the animals generating the milk had a range of pasture biomes (pasture ecological assemblages) indicative of herds being shifted between radically different pastures. The processing of dairy products also explains how this pre-history community could access dairy protein despite milk sugar (lactose) intolerance. This work adds to the existing knowledge of the rise of dairying that first seems to have begun in Antolia in the 7th millennium BC, eastern Europe 6th millennium BC and Britain by 4th millennium BC. (Note: The Libyan Sahara in the 5th millennium BC was green and not dry desert as it is today.) (Source: Dunne et al (2012) Nature, vol. 486, pp390-394.)

Earth's plate tectonics got going 3.2 billion years ago (bya). The Earth's crust formed in its first billion years but new evidence suggests that plate tectonics as we known the today began 1.4 billion years after the Earth formed or 3.2 bya. Coincidentally (?) this means that modern plate tectonics got going after the principal period of the Late Heavy Bombardment of asteroid as that took place after the Earth formed. The evidence comes from isotopic analysis of zircon crystals that show a discontinuity around this time (Næraa et al, 2012, Nature vol. 485, pp627-31). +++ Life is thought to have arisen shortly before this time so there must have been a crust before 3.2 bya that then thickened considerably around that time. +++ Our biosphere scientist comments that a thinner crust without developed continental plates suggest the early Earth had more ocean that was shallower with, in all likelihood, more volcanic vents. Today we see deep sea vents in our deeper oceans that harbour the ancestors of what were the first living organisms. So it could well be that the very early Earth was more conducive a place for life to begin than it is today. Such discussion has not yet appeared in the literature following the Næraa et al paper (it is too soon) but it probably will.

Supervolcanoes magma chambers can grow to eruption size in just centuries. Research of the California Long Valley former supervolcano has revealed that the magma chambers responsible for the huge, global climate altering eruptions, can grow not over hundreds of thousands of years but centuries to a thousand years. Looking at the size of quartz crystals (crystals grow over time) enabled the derivation of the new estimate of supervolcano magma chambers. This work was published by Gualda et al (2012) in PLOS One as 'Timescales of Quartz Crystallization and the Longevity of the Bishop Giant Magma Body'. +++ Yellowstone Park is one supervolcano due to erupt. The magma chamber appears to be growing as the Yellowstone lake is tilting.

Twisting light enabled 2.5 terabits of data transferred per second. The technique relies on controlling the orbital angular momentum of light. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of angular momentum then an analogous example is that of the Earth in its orbit. The Earth has both 'spin angular momentum' from it spin on its axis, as well as 'orbital angular momentum' due to its orbit about the Sun. The idea is not to create light waves just of different frequency or oscillating in in different directions (polarization) but also with different amounts of twist, just like screws with different numbers of threads. Now, using 8 beams of light each carrying its own different data stream and then applying varied orbital angular momentum, it has been possible to illustrate the potential of this technique. In this way researchers, led by Alan Willner at the University of Southern California, were able to convey about 2.5 terabits per second: that is equivalent to over 66 DVDs per second. Though much needs to be done, ultimately this will have tremendous implications for internet communication. The research was published in the journal Nature Photonics.

Strong drag counter current found in nano-sandwich. US researchers D. Nandi and colleagues have found that putting two metal plates together separated by an insulator only about 10 nanometres thick, then apply a magnetic field perpendicularly and a current in one plate will cause a reverse current of roughly equal strength in the other plate. This is because an electron in one plate teams up with a positively charged gap in the lattice of the other plate (a hole). This pair (an exciton) can move say to the left. The electron moving to the left in one plate equals an electric current moving to the left. A positive charge moving to the left in the other plate is equivalent to a negative charge moving to the right, or an electric current moving to the right. That this 'drag' current is almost equal and opposite comes as a bit of a surprise.   Applications? Well it is early days. But this might mean that it is possible to have transformers (that increase or decrease voltage) using direct current (rather than alternating current). (See Nandi, D., et al, 2012, Nature vol 465, p481-4, and an explanation by Steven M. Girvin pages 464-5.)

Trees reveal mysterious gamma-ray event bathed the Earth in AD 774–775. Japanese researchers, Fusa Miyake, Kentaro Nagaya, Kimiaki Masuda & Toshio Nakamura, have detected a 14C spike in tree rings dating from AD 774–775. This ties in with earlier data from trees in N. America as well as previously ambiguously-dated ice core 10Be isotopic data from Antarctica. So the effect is global.   Likely explanations include a solar proton event (SPE) flare event, galactic cosmic rays and a supernova. However with regards to an SPE, it is possible that an SPE with an extremely hard energy spectrum could explain simultaneously the 14C and 10Be results, but it would have to be much harder than any flare observed so far. Also it is believed that a super flare has never occurred on our Sun, due to the absence of an historical record (such as a record of aurora and mass extinction caused by the expected destruction of the ozone layer).   With regards to galactic cosmic rays the spike represents 10 times (around 1,000%) more gamma rays than the average from cosmic rays. With regards to the Solar cycle, the spike represents 20 times the associated radiation. This leaves a supernova. To produce such a spike the supernova would have to be within 2kpc (6,500 light years): this is close given our galaxy is 100,000 light years across. Indeed the remnants of such a nearby supernova is possible but should be still easily visible in X-ray and also there are no historical visual records of such an event. All in all this is a bit of a mystery. (Source: Miyake et al (2012) Nature vol. 486, pages 240 – 242.) +++ Further news: Subsequently, in correspondence to the journal Nature (vol 486, p 473), Jonathan Allen of the University of California muses that a red glowing shape in the western sky just after sunset reported in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 774 AD could have been a supernova hidden behind a dust cloud: this would have reduced the visible light reaching the Earth but allow through infra red and some red light. +++ Still further news: Gary Gibbons and Marcus Werner report a similar sighting in the Annales Laurissenses that dates from Lorsch, Germany in 776AD.

 

[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 2012

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

Europe approves investigation of dark universe with Euclid. The Euclid space telescope had been shortlisted last October (2011) but the finance has only just been approved this summer (June 2012). It will operate in the near-infrared and hope to obtain clues as to the nature and distribution of dark matter and dark energy by seeing how light from distant galaxies (up to 10 billion light years away) is distorted by intervening dark matter and energy. The European Space Agency mission will cost £480m (US$760m) excluding ground station costs, but the US is to come aboard as a junior partner and meet 5% of the expense by providing infrared sensors. Euclid should be ready for launch in 2020. Britain will lead the production of the telescope's optical digital camera, one of the largest ever launched.

A dark galaxy is seen for the first time. Dark galaxies are regions of gas that contain no stars and, not having stars (hence supernova remnants), no dust. As such they are very hard to see directly and indeed until now have not been seen optically. Now Sebastiano Cantalupo and colleagues from California University using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope used the light from distant quasars passing through more nearby dark galaxies that caused the hydrogen to emit faint light. The researchers so estimate that the mass of the dozen dark galaxies are around a billion times the mass of the Sun. For comparison this is very roughly 1% the mass of the stars in our galaxy. ( Cantalupo (2012) Monographs & Notes of the Royal Astronomical Society).

Light from a Super Earth has now been detected. The infra-red signature was detected by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and it comes from a super Earth orbiting 55 Cancri 41 light years away. The results reveal the planet is likely dark, and its sun-facing side is more than 2,000 Kelvin (1,726 degrees Celsius), hot enough to melt many metals. This is due to its proximity to its star: it is the closest planet to its sun in the system. The super Earth is 8.57 Earth masses, the radius is 1.63 times that of Earth, and the density is 10.9 ± 3.1 g cm-3 (the average density of Earth is 5.515 g cm-3), places the planet firmly into the categories of a rocky super-Earth. It is tidally locked, so one side always faces the star. Spitzer discovered the sun-facing side is extremely hot, indicating the planet probably does not have a substantial atmosphere to carry its sun’s heat to its night side.

Rocky, Earth-like planets more common than thought. An analysis of 152 stars by the Kepler mission has revealed that small planets — those with a radius up to four times that of Earth — form under a broader range of conditions than for gas-giants. Stars with a wide range of heavy elements (heavier than helium) seem to result in rocky planets and not just those that are the highest in such elements as had been assumed. This result also implies that rocky planets formed at an earlier time in the Universe’s history than most gas giants did. Indeed stars with more of the heaviest elements tend to form more gas giants as the heavy elements quickly provide a core around which a gas giant forms before the gas is driven away by the star's analogous solar wind. As the abundance of heavier-than-helium elements increases with time in the history of the Universe (as these are formed in supernova), so it seems that there may be more rocky planets around older stars. This in turn implies that Earthlike planets have been formed before in the Universe's history and that our Earth is a newcomer (Buchhave, L. A. et al. (2012) Nature vol. 486, pp375–377. See also explanatory piece by Fisher, D. 486, 331–332. ).

The last transit of Venus until 2117 took place over the summer. The last transit of Venus across the disc of the Sun was in 2004: due to the inclination of Venus' orbit to the Earth's, transits of Venus come in pairs over a century apart. This year's transit was used to get a snapshot of Venus' global climate (as opposed to local snapshots taken by orbiting probes that then have to be assembled into a whole). The transit was also used to calibrate techniques for analysing exoplanets transiting their own suns.

Flat planetary system sighted. Theory has it (and poor observation of protoplanetary dust clouds suggests) that planetary systems around stars form an approximately flat plane: our Solar System's planets are aligned to within a few degrees of a flat plane. But is this common? Some hot Jupiters do not seem to be in a plane and some even orbit in a retrograde way. Now US astronomers have found a very close alignment of a three planet system to a flat plain. Planets that are seen to transit (pass in front of a star) clearly must be in a similar plane, but stars are big. What they have found in this (the Kepler-30) system (of a main sequence star) is that the planets transit a starspot (a large long-lived sunspot). This means that any angle of deviation from a flat plane is constrained. The authors conclude that high-obliquity hot Jupiters only occur in systems where there has been some disruption of the planetary system and that flat plain planetary systems could well be common. (Sanchis-Ojeda et al. (2012) Nature vol 487, pp449-453.). +++ Well, we suspected this but it is nice to be beginning to get some observational data.

Curiosity Mars rover touches down. After just several months since its launch Curiosity touches down safely using a novel sky crane by which the descent module hovers and then lowers the rover the last 7.5 metres to the ground, the rover being the size of a small car was too heavy for a safe hard touchdown. The target landing area was within a 20 km long, 5 km wide ellipse: this compares with a 200 km diameter circle target area Viking had in 1976. The rover will be able to carry out basic geological analyses onboard in the quest to find rocks that suggest that Mars once (billions of years ago) had substantive free flowing liquid water on the surface, hence possibly the conditions for life. +++ See also Ray Bradbury has a bit of Mars named after him.

Gravity waves inferred from star binary light. Gravity waves have yet to be detected but are predicted by Albert Einstein. In principle, any two massive objects orbiting one another can emit gravitational waves, slowly losing the energy of momentum of their orbits to that of the energy of gravity waves. Now a pair of tightly orbiting dwarf stars (JO651), some 3,000 light years away, have been observed to have orbital decay and the explanation for this is energy loss due to gravity wave radiation. Over a period of 13 months, researchers saw the orbital period reduce by around six seconds. The gravity wave energy loss is so significant because the stars are heavy objects and the orbital distance between the two is small at a round a third of the Earth-Moon distance. The research is published in Astrophysical Journal Letters. This sort of thing has been inferred from pulsars but never before using visible light. Good to know that Albert is still holding true.

 

[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 2012

NATURAL SCIENCE

Gene discovered that could lead to 'male pill' contraception. Edinburgh scientists have discovered that a mouse gene, Katnal1, is vital for the final stages of making sperm. This means that the protein this gene makes could help researchers synthesise a target molecule to block the enzyme making it and so lead to a male contraceptive pill. The lead researcher, Lee Smith, said: ""The important thing is that the effects of such a drug would be reversible because Katnal1 only affects sperm cells in the later stages of development, so it would not hinder the early stages of sperm production and the overall ability to produce sperm." (See PLOS Genetics, vol. 8 (5), doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002697).

Martian carbon macromolecules found hinting at life. An international team of researchers from both sides of the Atlantic have analysed 11 Martian meteorites, spanning about 4.2 billion years of Martian history. Ten of the meteorites contain abiotic macromolecular carbon suggesting that carbon sources were common on Mars. The jury is out as to whether this abiotic carbon indicates life as this carbon formed without life as it had been encased in molten rock. However if such carbon sources were common then Martian life – if it had existed or does still exist – would more likely have the necessary building blocks. The research was published in the journal Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6084.970). It is hoped that the next Mars mission to land – the Mars Science Laboratory, also known as the 'Curiosity' rover – will provide more evidence one way or another.

Early osteoporosis bone loss diagnostic developed by space science. Calcium loss sees isotope preference ad this is able to detect bone loss after as little as one week of bed rest, and before loss be detectable on conventional medical scans according to research in PNAS by Ariel Anbar and colleagues at Arizona State University supported by NASA.

Precursor retinal stem cells generated in lab. Yoshiki Sasai and colleagues in Japan have generated retinal epithelial cells which after a few weeks spontaneously formed an optic cup. This brings us closer to the day when we will be able to use stem cell therapy to treat blindness caused by retinal cell death (Cell Stem Cell, 2012, vol. 10, pp771-785).

Over 1% of global human biomass is due to obesity. Research has estimated that the global adult human biomass in 2005 was approximately 287 million tonnes. Of this 15 million tonnes were due to overweight (body mass index > 25), a mass equivalent to that of 242 million tonnes or over 5%. Biomass due to obesity was 3.5 million tonnes, the mass equivalent of 56 million people of average body mass (1.2% of human biomass). North America has 6% of the world population but 34% of biomass due to obesity. By comparison Asia has 61% of the world population but 13% of biomass due to obesity. Obesity affects a third of US citizens (and for comparison around 4% of British subjects but this proportion is increasing and there are also more who are overweight but not obese). If all countries had the BMI distribution of the USA, the increase in human biomass of 58 million tonnes would be equivalent in mass to an extra 935 million people of average body mass, and have energy requirements equivalent to that of 473 million adults as heavier people expend more energy getting around and metabolising. Increasing obesity could have the same implications for world food energy demands as an extra half a billion people living on the Earth. Increasing biomass will have important implications for global resource requirements, including food demand, and the overall ecological footprint of our species (Walpole, S. A., et al., 2012, BMC Public Health 12, The weight of nations: an estimation of adult human biomass).

20 cases of Ebola, with 14 dying, were reported in western Uganda in July. This is the first significant outbreak of the disease since 2009. The strain is a variant of the Sudan subtype that killed 224 (53% of cases) in the 2000-1 Ugandan outbreak. This suggests that the virus has been remained in resident in a local wildlife population (only slightly evolving with time).

 

[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 2012

FORTHCOMING BOOK RELEASES

Forthcoming Science Fiction book and graphic novel releases

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

 

Zero Point by Neal Asher, Tor, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-75070-8.
Space opera. It is Mars in the future and a struggle for freedom. Neil seems to be well received by our review panel. For example, see: Prador Moon, Orbus, Line of Polity and The Gabble.

Pure buy Julia Baggot, Headline, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-755-38550-8.
In a post-apocalyptic world, and within a domed city, there are the haves and have-nots… The early word on this is quite favourable.

The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain Banks, Orbit, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50150-5.
This is the much awaited 10th Culture novel (whose last culture novel was Matter) and it promises to be a real goody. Here is the pre-publicity: The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, the End Days for the Gzilt civilization. An ancient people, organized on military principles and yet almost perversely peaceful, the Gzilt helped set up the Culture ten thousand years earlier and were very nearly one of its founding societies, deciding not to join only at the last moment. Now they've made the collective decision to follow the well-trodden path of millions of other civilizations; they are going to Sublime, elevating themselves to a new and almost infinitely more rich and complex existence.   Amid preparations, though, the Regimental High Command is destroyed. Lieutenant Commander (reserve) Vyr Cossont appears to have been involved, and she is now wanted - dead, not alive. Aided only by an ancient, reconditioned android and a suspicious Culture avatar, Cossont must complete her last mission given to her by the High Command. She must find the oldest person in the Culture, a man over nine thousand years old, who might have some idea what really happened all that time ago…

Halo: Primordium by Greg bear, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-230-54563-1.
This is the mass market paperback release (the trade paperback came out back in the spring) of the 2nd in the series relating to the Microsoft computer game. Of course Greg Bear is a well known author in his own right.

The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman, Sceptre, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-340-9982-7.
If you are living in Germany in 1935 then it probably isn't accidental. But that is no consolation to Egon Loeser whose carnal misfortunes push him from the experimental theatres of Berlin to the absinthe bars of Paris and the physics laboratories of Los Angeles where he will meet a scientist who could win World War II before it starts… This is a historical novel that does not know what year it is, a noir novel that turns all the lights on, and a romance novel that arrives drunk. Oh, and its an SF novel that does not know what the term isotope means…. The early word doing the rounds is that this might be one to check out. The author's previous debut novel was shortlisted for The Guardian's First Book Award.

Exit Kingdom by Alden Bell, Tor, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-76674-7.
More post-apocalyptic zombie excitement from the author that gave us The Reapers are the Angels, which we did cite as one of our recommended best books of 2010.

White Death by David Blake, Harper, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-007-38448-8.
Though not an out-and-out SF novel this one does have a techno and gaming riff involving as it does, chess and artificial intelligent computers, with FBI agent Frank Patrese on the case.

The Eternal Flame by Greg Egan, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-10572-0.
This is the second in Egan's 'Orthogonal Trilogy' that began with The Clockwork Rocket. Here our unlikely (because the physics of this universe though logical is invented) astronauts have an encounter with the Hurlers that threaten their home planet… Expect substantive info-dumps with this follow-up to a rather unique trilogy that will not only appeal to Egan's regulars but any physicists into SF (i.e. quite a few).

The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde, Hodder & Stoughton, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-340-96311-1.
Four months after an assassination attempt, Thursday Next returns home to Swindon t recuperate. There she finds her son moping since his Chronoguard career was relegated and her daughter is having difficulty perfecting the anti-smote shield needed to protect Swindon, and then there is Jenny who does not exist… Oh, and there is a looming meteorite that could destroy all life on Earth.

The Time Ship: A Chrononautical Journey (Early Classics of Science Fiction) by Enrique Gaspar, Wesleyan University Press, pbk, £22.50. ISBN 978-081-957293-6.
Now actually this came out over the summer but the publishers did not tell us. (We can't plug what we are not told though to be fair we don't usually list foreign publications, but this is available via Amazon UK. Anyway, thank goodness we got the heads up from one of our regulars (Hi Angel).)   This is a translation of the Spanish SF classic El Anacronopete [The Time Ship] that was originally published before H. G. Wells' The Time Machine. An absolute must for serious SF book collectors.

The Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton, Macmillan, hrdbk< £20. ISBN 978-0-230-075005-0.
It is 2142AD and a wealthy family of clones has been slaughtered. The crime is somewhat similar to another clone murder 20years earlier off-world on a tropical planet (it rained on Mongo anyone?). All well and good but someone was convicted for that crime, someone who has always protested their innocence. She was a witness to the earlier crime and always said that aliens were involved. Now, the authorities are beginning to take her story seriously… Hamilton is known for penning a sound SF adventure of many pages (see for example The Dreaming Void) and is a worthy writer with a steady following. But, it has to be said, you have to like a high page count and this has in the past put off a number of our review panel who would otherwise be all too wiling to dive in. This one does have an enticing pre-publicity teaser. It should more than satisfy his regular fans and – if they like large books – attract new ones.

From the Deep of the Dark by Stephen Hunt, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-28968-4.
The author of The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, Hunt is quite well known for his steampunk-ish fiction.

Taken by Benedict Jacka, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-356-50026-3.

Children from the Sky: A Speculative Interpretation of a Mediaeval Mystery, The Green Children of Woolpit by Duncan Lunan, Mutus Liber, trdpbk, £16.95, ISBN 978-1-908-09705-7.
Investigates the historical background, identifies the participants, places and times, and speculates about ET abduction as an explanation – 'The X-Files in the 12th Century'.

After Time by Sophie Littlefield, Mira, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-848-45141-4.
The start of a new zombie trilogy which, the early rumblings suggest, could be quite reasonable.

Autumn: Aftermath by David Moody, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09147-4.
David Moody gave us Them or Us? and seems to have a knack for the post-apocalyptic thing. Here a band of survivors of the present-day zombie apocalypse is hold up in a medieval fortress, barely holding on, when another group of survivors arrive. The question then becomes one of whether the two groups will get along or fight each other to death before the zombies over-run the place…

Savage: The Guv'nor by Pat Mills & Patrick Goddard, 2000AD, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08040-5.
Savage was a strip in the early 2000AD that was to become Britain's top SF comic. Set in the not too distant future, Bill Savage was an average bloke when the Volgans invaded Britain and he became one of the resistance. All well and good but mostly this was a run-of-the-mill strip portraying what it might be like if a thinly-veiled Soviet invasion of western Europe took place: remember this was originally devised before the real-life 1990 fall of the Iron Curtain. Now those behind 2000AD had no idea how long-lived their comic was to be or how popular were some of the strips. Being an SF comic, many of the stories were set in the future, both near and far. However with popularity there became a need to bring the popular story futures in 2000AD together, but these were largely forced marriages and the time lines and technologies in the various strips did not always mesh. This graphic novel brings Savage together with elements from another strip Robusters that was itself to spawn The ABC Warriors, with Ro-Busters boss Howard Quartz unleashing his Hammerstein former ABC Warriors on the Volgs. A must for 2000AD aficionados as well as students of SF as this illustrates brand maximization, albeit with mixed results on the continuity front. Nonetheless the story is entertaining and should be checked out. Script writer Pat Mills was one of the early 2000AD team members who also worked on Judge Dredd.

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-447-22555-3
An impressive steampunk novel that follows Boneshaker in the Clockwork century' sequence of books. Now some of you may remember that Boneshaker (2009) was nominated for a Hugo Award. If we were Tor we would be banging on about this nomination to the trade press and re-release Boneshaker.

The Islanders by Christopher Priest, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08864-1.
This is the new mass market paperback release of last year's hardback and trade paperback. Chris Priest is hugely liked by SF (actually more spec fic) litcrits and indeed it won the BSFA Award for 'Best Novel' of 2011 (despite his Clarke Awards grumble for which he was not nominated, not that that was anything to so with it).   Life on the islands is familiar, but there are gods and monsters present, including those who can live forever thanks to science. Most of all there has been a murder – the death of a mime artist, killed on stage by a falling sheet of glass and what follows may be an attempt – through letters and accounts – to solve that crime… Click on the title link for Ian's review.

The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. 978-0-57508892-4.
This is the second novel and much awaited sequel to the The Quantum Thief. OK, so Jonathan raved about this with his advance review of Rajaniemi's debut and indeed well before the book was launched we hot-tipped it. The Fractal Prince is the trade paperback release of the hardback that came out back in the Spring, of which we were not sent a review copy so possibly testifying to Gollancz's surety of sales. And well they might (though we know a few on the review panel would love to review this one) as Hannu picked a European SF Encouragement Award at the 2011 Swedish Eurocon but debut was quickly bought up for translation by other countries.   The novel is ultra hard SF that is so firm, chunky and tough, that it will even cut through industrial strength, reinforced Greg Egan. An absolute must for those who like futuristic novels steeped in real-science tech-speak, hence the hard SFnal edge. N surprises that Rajaniemi himself works in science.

The Educated Ape and Other Wonders of the Worlds by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08641-8.
This quirky humorous steampunk is the third in Rankin's alternate Victorian sequence of stand-alone but related novels. Rankin has always been a marmite author: you either love him or hate him. He has a loyal following and some of us like some of his earlier works such as The Brightonomicon, Necrophenia and Retromancer, but this mini-sequence seems to see the man go off the boil, unless you are genuinely into steampunk as this might make up for any recent cooling of the humour, characterization and plot structure.

The Demi Monde Summer by Rod Rees, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-849-16505-1.
Hugely inventive and quite well written too. This is the next in the sequence and very well worth checking out given the first one: The Demi Monde Winter. An ultra-realistic cyberspace world has been used for training soldiers. All very well until some of the artificial cyberspace inhabitants' leaders realise what is happening and kidnap the US president's daughter (or at least her mind). A rescue bid was made in the first book and now we know that some of the Demi Monde leaders have designs for real world domination. This really is brilliant stuff and should appeal to both hard SF readers as well as those into steampunk... See also below.

The Demi Monde Summer by Rod Rees, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-849-16504-4.
This is the paperback release of the above hardback that should be out just before Christmas. Recommended.

The Age of Scorpio by Gavin G. Smith, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99, ISBN 978-0-575-09475-8
Stand-alone SF thriller from the author of Veteran and War in Heaven. So expect a possible dollop of space opera and certainly some hard-ish SF, but that it will literally be drenched in testosterone. Likely to be quite an action-packed romp.

Halo Glasslands by Karen Travis, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0230-76705-8.

Strontium Dog: The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha by John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra, 2000AD, trdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-781-08043-6.
This full colour graphic novel actually came out late in the summer and so missed last season's listing. However it is a modern classic brining together turn-of-the-millennium Strontium Dog stories from Britain's top SF weekly comic 2000AD. The strontium dogs are shunned mutants but unlike most mutants they manage to make good money in the dangerous work of being bounty hunters. Johnny Alpha was one of these. The son of a right-wing dictator (who despised mutants and herded them into ghettos), he was a living legend. But he died. Now as journalist approaches his former colleagues so as to write the definitive biography of one of the most infamous Stronts. This collection brings together both 'The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha' together with its sequel 'The Project'. The character Johnny Alpha first appeared in 2000AD's sister comic Starlord in 1977 before the two merged a couple of years later. Recommended for old and new readers alike, as well as those wanting a representative collection of British comic-strip SF in their library. Script writer Wagner and artist Ezquerra were there at the beginning of Strontium Dog's (what can now be rightly termed) saga. Wagner is also notable for Judge Dredd.

Ecks Rising by Dani Ware, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0857-68762-3.
Would love to say more about this but we have not received any pre-publicity.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead, Vintage, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-57014-1.
OK so this is a zombie novel and, yes, we have had a surfeit of these the past couple of years. However this one is a little chilling (so delivering on this sub-genre's inherent promise) and is – the early word has it – surprisingly well written.

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 2012

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie, Gollancz, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09582-3.
Shy South returns to her farm to find it burnt out and her brother and sister are missing. To find them and get them back safe she realises that she is going to have to return to her bad old ways… From the author of The Blade itself and Before They Are Hanged. Our Sue G. likes him, and indeed his books have quite a following.

Iron Winter by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, trdpbk, £19.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08928-0.
This concludes the Northland trilogy set just after the last glacial (in fact probably shortly after the Younger Dryas if you want to get technical) in which the then lands of (now beneath) the N. Sea, are threatened by sea-level rise. Baxter is of course know for his hard SF but he also has a following of fantasy type readers.

The Folly of the World by Jesse Bullington, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50088-1.
This is a Grimm tale type fantasy set in the 15th century.

Red Knight by Miles Cameron, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-11329-9.
Humans have to live in large, walled enclosures. Outside are the Wild that prey upon people. This is a debut novel.

Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson, Orbit, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-3-565-01026-0.
This is the start of a potentially promising new urban fantasy trilogy. The protagonist is the only female in an all-male werewolf pack.

Crown of Embers by Rae Carson, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09919-7.
This is the sequel to Fire & Thorns.

Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire by Mitzi Szeroto Cleis, Dist Turnaround, pbk, £?. 978-1-573-4415-4.
Highly erotic fantasy but in the vein of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice.

The Wrath of Angels by John Connolly, Hodder & Stoughton, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-1-444-75644-9.
The wreckage of a plane crash deep in the woods conceals a list of names and possibly a crucial weapon in the struggle against the forces of darkness. Horror thriller.

The King's Assassin by Stephen Deas, Gollancz, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09456-7.

Blood and Bone by Ian C. Esslemont, Transworld, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-59306446-7.
In the western sky the emerald banner of the Visitor descends like a portent of annihilation. On the continent of Jacuruku, the Thaumaturgs have mounted yet another expedition to tame the neighbouring wild jungle. Yet this is no normal wilderness: it is Himatan, and it is said to be half of the spirit-realm and half of the Earth. And it is said to be ruled by a powerful entity whom some name the Queen of Witches, and some a goddess: the ancient Ardata.

The Ravenglass Eye by Tom Fletcher, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-01-780-87000-7.

Fate: Science, Magic… Death and Beauty by L. R. Fredericks, John Murray, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-848-54331-7.
Lord Darmory's quest for the elixir of immortality takes him across 18th century Europe where science and magic, death and beauty meet in the salons of the decedent nobility and the brothels and debtors' prisons of London. He is on the trail of a mysterious ancestor who might be still alive.

Dark Storm by Christine Freehan, Piatkus, trdpbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-0-749-93757-9.
Vampiric paranormal romance. Part of the Carpathian sequence.

The Final Testament by James Frey, John Murray, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-848-54319-5.
Actually we should have listed this last time but we only just got JM's catalogue. They say the Messiah is alive and living in New York euthanizing the dying and healing the sick, defying the government and condemning the holy. If you meet him he will change your life…

The Hunt by Andrew Fukada, Simon & Schuster, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-857-07542-0.
No news sent us on this but word has it is a dystopic vampire story…

Black Opera by Mary Gentle, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08350-9.
Conrad Scales is a composer in Italy in an alternate world in which music has magical powers… Mary does not seem to have written much recently so if you were not reading fantasy a couple of decades ago then you might not know that she has a reasonable reputation for well crafted tales with rounded characters.

Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George, Hodder & Stoughton, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-444-71994-9.
Becca King is on the run from an abusive stepfather and from her own unusual talent for hearing people's thoughts.

Water Witch by Carol Goodman, Ebury, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-095-94020-1.
This is a dark, vaguely sexy, gothic fantasy.

Unholy Night by Seth Grajame-Smith, Bantam Press, £12.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-593-07110-1.
Apparently the three wise men of Christmas night are actually murderous thieves on the run. This book is released to tie in with the film adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Mage's Blood by David Hair, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £14.99. ISNB 978-1-780-87194-3.
This is the first in what is to be the Moontide quartet, and among the first tranche of new titles from the new Jo Fletcher Books SF/F imprint.   Every 12 years the sea over the Moontide bridge recedes so allowing invaders to cross...   This is the first adult fantasy from this New Zealand-based, established juvenile fantasy author.

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-1340-8.
This is the first paperback outing of the new Sookie Stackhouse story. See previous stand-alone reviews of Dead and Gone and Dead Until Dark.

Home Improvement: The Undead Edition by Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner (eds), Jo Flethcer Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87255-1.
This is an anthology of short stories by 14 authors and includes a new Sookie Stackhouse.

Harvest by William Horwood, Macmillan, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-71262-1.
The latest Hyddenworld adventure.

Sworn in Steel by Douglas Hulick, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978—0-330-53621-9.
Assassins, thieves and magic continue to abound in book 2 of the 'A Tale of Kin' sequence.

River Road by Suzanne Johnson, Headline, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-755-39767-9.
A nasty new species is swarming into Mississippi ands so it is up to a wizard to save the day.

The Devil Said Bang by Richard Kadrey, Voyager, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-007-48809-4.
Now if the above pre-publication details are correct then this is extremely good value for a hardback, but then Voyager have done this with Kadrey before so he must sell well. This is the latest and 4th in the Sandman Slim series. Here, a serial killer is on the loose. The only problem is is that the murderer is a ghost!

Storm Dancer by Jay Kristoff, Tor, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-75901-5.
This is a steampunk novel set in a dystopian Japan with the Lotus War looming.

Wild Cards: Aces High by George R. R. Martin, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13413-3.
Gollancz cashing in on these early Martin books. See George R. R. Martin news above.

Breed by Chase Novak, Mulholland, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-444-73699-1.
A couple in the US desperately want children and so decide to submit themselves to an experimental procedure and are blessed with twins… But late at night there are unnatural noises from their bedroom…

The Demonologist by Andrew Piper, Orion, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-409-12258-6.
An expert in Christian mythology, Professor Hillman accepts a trip to Venice as a consultant. But once there his investigations suggest to him that a mythical being he thought to be fictitious could very well be real…

Tomorrow the Killing by Daniel Polansky, Hodder & Stoughton, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-444-72134-8.
Once he was a hero of the Great War and then a member of the dreaded Black House. Now he is the criminal lynchpin of Low Town.

Hide Me Among The Graves by Tim Powers, Corvus, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-848-87405-3.
Horror set in 19th century London, from the worthy author of The Anubis Gates.

A Blink of the Screen: Collected Short Fiction by Terry Pratchett, Transworld, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-385-61898-4.
A collection of short fiction from Terry Pratchett, spanning the whole of his writing career from schooldays to Discworld and the present day. Here are characters both familiar and yet to be discovered; abandoned worlds and others still expanding; adventure, chickens, death, disco and, actually, some quite disturbing ideas about Christmas. Includes wonderful illustrations by the late Josh Kirby as well as drawings by Terry himself.

Defiance by C. J. Redwine, Atom, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-907-41133-5.
A novel set in an historical fantasy world.

Alcatraz by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13134-7.
This is the first omnibus published in the British Isles of four of Sanderson's novels.   A son realises that his dead parents were freedom fighter resisting the evil Librarians who are out to dominate the planet.

Asbury Park by Robb Scott, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09391-1.
This is a twisted, supernatural horror that may appeal to Stephen King readers.

Nocturnal by Scott Sigler, Hodder & Stoughton, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-444-70095-4.
San Francisco detective Klauser is supposed to be hunting a serial killer with seemingly impossible DNA evidence. But he is haunted by strangely prophetic dreams and a centuries old cult beneath the streets. Click on the title link for David's stand-alone review.

I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Hodder & Stoughton, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-444-73849-0. An isolated Icelandic village and three friends work on renovating a desolate house but soon realise that they are not alone… Icelander Yrsa Sigurdardottir already has a reputation as a crime writer. This is a ghost story part inspired by real life events.

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens, Mira, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-848-45146-9.
This is the first in the 'Graveyard Queen Series' of dark gothic ghost stories. The protagonist works in cemeteries which (handily or not) is quite something given that he can see undead spirits…

The Circle by Mats Strandberg and Sara Bergmark Elfgren, Hammer, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-009-956853-7.
Now this originally came out as juvenile fantasy in Sweden as Cirkeln, but became very popular, and not just by youngsters as it is well written, plotted and has decent characterisation not to mention is briskly paced.   All of which means that this plot summary does not do the book any justice… Seven teenage witches are hunted by an ancient evil… The novel has been sold for publication in 21 different languages in addition to Swedish. Random House's Hammer has released the novel in Britain.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, Hodder & Stoughton, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-444-72267-3.
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared imagine a new way of living in peace… This was not to be…

Advent by James Treadwell, Hodder, pbk, £7.00. ISBN 978-1-444-72849-1.
For centuries it had been locked away lost beneath the sea... but now magic is rising to the world once more. Set in the present day and also 16th century, Britain. This is a debut novel and H&S have been pushing this one including by mysterious mailing that was only explained a few days later with subsequent marketing... No, you are not seeing double as we really did report this coming out in the summer but there is more pre-Christmas chat and we note a new ISBN.Have Hodder re-released this debut novel so quickly. Are sales that good? Well we do not know but we do know that the word is quite positive on this debut novel which apparently will appeal to Pullman fans.

Rapture by J. R. Ward, Piatkus, trdpbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-0-749-95700-1. The protagonist is an investigative journalist reporter of the uncanny. This is the 4th in the Fallen Angel sequence.

The Blinding Knife by Bret Weeks, Orbit, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49907-9.
This is the second in the 'Light Bringer' sequence.

The Christmas Spirits by Whitley Strieber, Hodder & Stoughton, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-444-73260-3.
George Moore is a modern day Scrooge, a futures trader who drives his staff hard… This is a new scary – by very Christmassy – re-telling of Dickens's A Christmas Carol.

Deathless by Cathrynne M. Valente, Corsair, hrdbk, £12.99. 978-1-780-33846-0.
This is a re-telling of a Russian folk tale. A fantasy set in the early 20th century.

The Heart of Fire: Destiny Quest by Michael J. Ward, Gollancz, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-575-11877-5.
An epic fantasy in which the reader decides on the story…

Knife-Sworn by Mazarkis Williams, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-875-738864-3.
There is murder at the Imperial court. This could end up meaning war...

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams, Hodder & Stoughton, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-444-73855-1.
It is not much fun working as an extremely minor functionary in the heavenly host judging recently departed souls… Until the day a soul goes missing, presumably stolen by 'the other side'.

The Place of Dead Kings by Geoffrey Wilson, Hodder & Stoughton, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-444-74246-6.
Alternate historical novel in which India rules what would otherwise be the British Empire. News comes of a rogue Indian sorcerer in Scotland. The rebellion has failed. Now, Jack Casey and his small band head north to see if they can find a weapon to use against their oppressors and free England, but they will find something even more powerful.

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 2012

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

Execution by Geoffrey Abbott, Summerdale, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-53255-6.
Probably one just for fans of horror in quasi-voyeuristic mode. This non-fiction book explores methods of torture and execution through to disposal of bodies.

This Is Improbable: Cheese String Theory, Magnetic Chickens and Other WTE Research by Marc Abrahams, Oneworld, pbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-1-68932-6.
Written by the founder of the Ig Nobel prizes for odd science research that, when you think about it, really do answer a curious question.

Why is the P*nis Shaped Like That? by Jesse Bering, Transworld, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-857-52047-0.
Jesse Bering - Scientific American columnist - takes the kind of questions about sex and he applies experimental psychology and rigorous scientific analysis to them until he finds an actual answer. There are serious evolutionary reasons why the penis is shaped like that. If you would like to find out what human pubic hair has in common with a gorilla’s fur, why girls are so cruel to each other, what happens if you swallow rather than spit, or why you should think twice about asking a gay man for directions, then this is the book for you.

2014 Worldcon AlertThe East End by Denys Blakeway, John Murray, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-848-54551-9.
The 2014 London Worldcon will be held at Canary Wharf. Though the Worldcon conference venue and hotel village is brand new, the other side of the district light rail line is one of the oldest communities in London and also one of the toughest places to live. Yes, most of the houses were build after 1945, but that is because the area was heavily bombed during WWII. The docks declined, Oswald Mosely's right-wing black shirts marched, the criminal Kray twins reigned…, the area has a rich, colourful history. This book is your local history briefing document prior to the 2014 Worldcon.

UFOs Caught on Film: Amazing Evidence of Alien Visitors to Earth by B. J. Book, David & Charles, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-01-446-30169-2.
Hopefully none of our regulars believe that UFOs represent visitors from other worlds, but the social phenomenon for this belief is itself worthy of examination. As such this could be an interesting adjunct to one's library. Furthermore, if the above price is correct, and it is truly a hardback, then this is value for money.

A Little History of Science by William F. Bynum, Yale University Press, hrdbk, £14.99. 978-0-300-13659-3.
This is a book that all climate denialists, homeopathic users etc., should get but won't. However it is hugely recommended for anyone embarking on a science degree or even any scientist too focussed on their own specialism wanting a refresher of how we got to where we are. Recommended for all into popular science.

Voyager: 101 Wonders Between Earth and the Edge of the Cosmos by Stuart Clark, Atlantic, hrdbk, £25. ISBN 978-1-848-87543-2.
Lavishly illustrated. Will appeal as a coffee table book for both those with a formal interest in astronomy as well as those who fascination is more casual.

The Science Magpie: A Miscallany of Paradoxes, Lists, Lives and Ephemora by Simon Flyn, Icon, hrdbk, £12.99. 978-1-848-831416-0.
An assortment of oddities and eclectically whimsical facts. What is the greatest equation ever? Learn Pi to 500 places…

Knit Your Own Zombie: Over 100 Combinations to Rip 'n' Reassemble For Horrifying Results by Fiona Goble, Ive Press, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-908-o0548-9.

Inside Apple: The Secrets Behind the Past and Future Success of Steve Job's Iconic Brand by Adam Lashinksy, John Murray, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-1-848-54724-7.

The Stones and the Stars, Building Scotland's Newest Megalith by Duncan Lunan, Springer, trdpbk, £19.95. ISBN 978-1-4614-56353-6.
The controversy over ancient astronomy, worldwide and in the UK; is explored in the context of the creation of the first astronomically aligned stone circle in Britain for over 3000 years, and what was learned from it.

You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney, Oneworld, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-851-68939-2.
This is based on the author's blog of the same title. 48 short chapters reveal how we routinely delude ourselves. Check out the blog and if you like it – it is rather entertaining – then you know to get the book.

The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science and Forensics by James O'Biren, Oxford University Press, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-199-79496-6.
Does what it says on the can and recommended for scientists and popular science fans into Sherlock Holmes.

Terry Pratchett & The Discworld Emporium: The Complete Ankh-Morpork by Terry Pratchett, Transworld, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-857-52074-6.
A brand-new street directory of Discworld city Ankh-Morpork complete with beautifully illustrated pull-out map. ‘There’s a saying that all roads lead to Ankh-Morpork. And it’s wrong. All roads lead away from Ankh-Morpork, but sometimes people just walk along the wrong way.

Genes, Cells and Brains: Bioscience's Promethean Promises by Hilary and Steven Rose, Verso, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-844-67881-5.
Given recent decades have seen great strides in biomedical research – sequencing the human genome leading to genomics, and stem cells being but two recent developments – why have not these been translated into medical healthcare practice. What, for example, of gene therapy? Hilary and Steven Rose review what we have discovered, the problems in translating these to applications and the challenges and promises ahead.

The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, John Murray, trdpbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-1-848-54621-9.
The executive chairman of Google and a director of Google Ideas set out their proposals for the future.

'Some Remarks' by Neal Stephenson, Atlantic, hrdbk, £20. ISNB 978-1-848-87854-9.
Neal Stephenson is particularly known in SF circles for his novels The Cryptonomicon (which won a Locus (readers) Award in 2000) and The Diamond Age (which won the best novel Hugo in 1996). These are some of his essays and journalistic writings on maths, cryptography, philosophy and the history of science.

How to Make a Zombie: The Real Life (and Death) Science of reanimation and Mind Control by Frank Swain, Oneworld, pbk, £11.99. ISBN 978-1-851-68944-6.
An intriguing book that covers living dog heads after they have been severed and remote-controlled bulls among other things.

Brian now has autographed copies of -- Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide by Jonathan Cowie & Tony Chester, Porcupine Books, 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 2012

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Sherlock: The Case Book by Guy Adams, BBC Books, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90425-4.
This is a spin off from the highly successful, new TV series that is a modern, and very inventive, re-booting of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Earlier this year the 2nd season won a British Fantasy Award and which the previous year we recommended the first season as one of the Best Short Form Media of 2010 (not that Hugo voters took a blind bit of notice but it was good to see Britain's fantasy fans on the ball).   This casebook is presented as Dr Watson's on-line blog of Sherlock's cases. What could be better? Well a third season of the series (and this is coming!).

Spider-Man Chronicles by Anon., Dorling Kindersley, hrdbk, £35. ISBN 978-0-1-409-38408-3.
Now believe it or not Peter Parker is 50 years old this year! Yes, Spiderman first slung a web back in 1962 and this title looks back over this half century. Dorling Kindersley are known for their superbly designed and highly illustrated books, so this will be a must for Spidy fans even if a tad pricey.

New Vampire Cinema by Ken Gelder, Palgrave, trdpbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-844-57440-7.

The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09715-1.
If you like the rural deep southern chick-lit vampire stories – both the novels and TV series – then this is for you. If you have not, then here are a couple of stand-alone reviews of the novels See previous stand-alone reviews of the novels Dead and Gone and Dead Until Dark.

The Lands of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin & Jonathan Roberts, Voyager, £35, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-007-49065-3.
Collected maps detailing the Game of Thrones world.

A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel by George R. R. Martin, Voyager, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-007-49304-3.
One of four graphic novels from the series of books and television.

The Art and Making of Hotel Transylvania by Tracy Miller-Zarncke, Titan, hrdbk, £24.99. ISBN 978-1-781-11415-0.

Misfits by Mike O'Leary, Hodder, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-444-76175-7.
This is the first official tie-in novel of the Channel 4 TV series. Now, as with Sherlock above we did cite Misfits season 1 as one of the Best Short Form Media of 2010 (not that Hugo voters took a blind bit of notice). Indeed season 2 won an SFX Award (good to see Britain's media sci-fi fans on the ball). Now we cannot comment on this novelisation but we do recommend you check out Season 1 and 2 DVDs. If you liked the TV series Heroes then you could well enjoy this rather different take on the same trope, Misfits. Heroes had a wealthy senator, son of a business tycoon, talented artist, daughter of an ostensibly middle-management businessman (in fact a spy), as individuals who discover that they each have their own individual superpower. Conversely Misfits have a bunch of under-trodden working class or unemployed teenagers or early twenty-somethings, on community service who are caught in a storm and after find that they each have their own super power. This is far more grittier than Heroes, has elements of dark British humour, and a firmer story arc. The DVDs are hugely recommended so if this novelisation only half lives up to fans likely expectation then it will do well (a potential career buster for Mike O'Leary). The launch of this novelisation coincides with the broadcast of the third season.

The Pirates: An Adventure With Scientists – The Making of the Sony Aardman Movie, by Anon?, Bloomsbury, hrdbk, £25. ISBN 978-1-408-82989-9.

The True History of Blackadder by J. F. Roberts, Preface, trdpbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-848-09346-1.
This is coming out nearly 30 years after the first episode was broadcast.

Vampire Diaries: Destiny Rising by L. J. Smith, Hodder, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-1-444-90602-8.
Ties in with the ITV Season 4 broadcast this autumn.

Halo: The Thursday War by Karen Travis, Tor, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-230-76709-6.
This is based on the Microsoft, SF-horror computer game.

 

[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 2012

SELECTED RECENT DVD RELEASES

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter £13.99 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
US history mashed with vampires lead to a successful Seth Grahame-Smith novel and now this film which is a bit of fun (but not really much more than that).

The Amazing Spider-Man £9.99 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Spiderman versus the Lizard. Great romp.

The Big Bang Theory - Season 5 £14.99 from Warner Home Video.
Arguably one of the best SF-related (indeed SF and science related) series currently coming out of the US. If you have not come across this comedy then think of it as a less surreal, but as engaging, version of our The IT Crowd. At the start of this year we rated season 4 as one of the best television series of 2011. In one sense Season 5 is not as good in terms of science and SF (for the producers the lure of even larger audiences seems to mean that a little dumbing down is required). However season 5 does have a good story arc. Highly addictive series. Great fun. Good value for a 3 disc set.

The Day £9.70 from Entertainment One.
Post apocalyptic thriller. This may seem standard fare but actually, despite the low budget (or even because of it) it is better than that and has at its heart the choices people make when faced with extreme situations. Base and higher level emotions are at play here: survival, love, mistrust, redemption and hunger…

The Dinosaur Project [Blu-ray] £8.00 from StudioCanal.
Dinosaurs are alive in the Congo… This British-South African independent production is effectively a Lost World update/re-boot type thingy much in the vein of Jurassic Park III. The visuals are good. Cryptozoologists discover the dinosaurs in a remote part of the jungle and their helicopter crashes due to pterodactyls. Now it is a trek for survival.

Marvel Avengers Assemble £11 from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and Captain America do their thing. The film was abig hit this summer.

Memory Lane £9.70 from Left Films.
Science fantasy thriller, when a near death experience enables the protagonist to time travel he uses this to find out about his girlfriend's murder. (Not as bad as it sounds.)

The Hunger Games £9.99 from Lions Gate Home Entertainment.
Two disc set of the recent film of the novels. Dystopic future world sees bread and circuses in the form of youngsters combating each other.

Prometheus £9.99 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Prequel to the Alien film. No it is not strictly says director Ridley Scott. (Shhhh, yes it is.) Plot logical inconsistencies aside, this is quite a spectacle and did well at the box office this summer.

Prophets of Science Fiction £22 from Demand Media.
This 6 disc set has documentaries on a number of grandmasters including Heinlein, Verne, Wells, Clarke, and Asimov. Generally interesting with some insights into their lives behind their writing, each documentary does tend to over-egg the contribution each author made: the documentaries view each author in isolation and not against what other writers were doing at that time (or even slightly earlier). Nonetheless this is one for SF readers (and indeed younger SF readers who will have missed the authors in their heyday).

Snow White and the Huntsman £9.99 from Universal Pictures UK.
A more darker, Grimm version of Snow White than the sugary Disney offering. Here, the evil stepmother Ravenna possesses a disturbing power to maintain her own perpetual youth by stealing youthfulness from the hearts of the young and beautiful, but her magic mirror warns that Snow White's innocence and purity as she comes of age will destroy Ravenna's chance at immortality. When Snow White escapes from the castle prison, Ravenna hires a downtrodden Huntsman to bring her back so that Ravenna can steal her youth and achieve personal immortality. But Snow White runs into a dark and sinister forest where mushrooms disperse hallucinogenic spores, trees come to life, flocks of bats spring from inanimate objects, and dwarves lurk in the shadows… This one is for slightly more discerning viewers.

The Vampire Diaries - Season 3 £27.97 from Warner Home Video.
This series has its following. If you are into vampires then try it out.

World War Zombies £11.20 from Lightning Pictures.
Actually this one is slated for a February 2013 release but as there has been quite a bit of genre interest in this offering we thought that you'd appreciate an early heads up.

See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in 2012, 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 2012

R.I.P.

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

Neil Armstrong, the first man to step on the Moon, has died aged 82. He flew a fighter in the Korean war before becoming a test pilot. He was known for keeping calm in an emergency and had to eject when his experimental craft went out of control. When he became an astronaut he notably stopped an orbiting Gemini craft from tumbling. He will always be remembered for landing on the Moon with Buzz Aldrin in 1969 (Michael Collins remained in Lunar orbit). He did not speak publicly but did give a rare interview this summer and spent many of his post-astronaut years teaching engineering at Cincinnati University. He died from complications after surgery to relieve four blocked coronary arteries. His family said "The next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."   Michael Collins, said: "He was the best, and I will miss him terribly."   Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin said he was a "very capable commander and leader of a world achievement". NASA Head Charles Bolden said: "As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind's first small step on a world beyond our own."

William Asher, the US producer of the Bewitched TV series of the 1960s, has sadly died aged 90.

Ray E. Beam, the US fan, has died aged 79. He was a member of First Fandom.

Ernest Borgnine, the US actor has died aged 95. His SF/Fnal films include: The Ghost of Flight 401 (1978), The Black Hole (1979), Escape From New York (1981), and Alice in Wonderland (1985) as well as the TV films Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders (1996) and The Blue Light (2004).

Ray Bradbury, the US SF & fantasy grandmaster, has died aged 91 following a stroke and long illness in Los Angles. A prolific writer of fantasy and science fantasy, his best known – indeed his only 'pure' – SF novel was Fahrenheit 451 (1953), about a totalitarian future in which firemen go around burning books as all books are banned by the state, and which was made into a film (1966) of the same name: it was a satire on the US McCarthy communist witch-hunts of the 1950s. While mainly a science fantasy and fantasy writer, a number of his short stories were SF. Indeed some of his SFnal ones were collected into the strongly story-arced anthology The Martian Chronicles (1950) which was adapted for TV in 1980. It concerned the early human exploration and then colonisation of Mars. Both Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles are great classics of SF. His fantasy horror novel Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) is another classic. It centres on a travelling carnival visiting a small US town whose inhabitants' deepest desires are subverted by the carnival's mysterious owner. Some of Ray Bradbury's 600 short stories have been collected into two large volumes and published by Voyager (in Britain) as recently as 2008 but he also wrote teleplays including for the TV series The Ray Bradbury Theater. He was a true fan of SF and the first SF tale he wrote was at the tender age of 12 as a sequel to an Edgar Rice Burroughs' 'John Carter of Mars' story as he could not afford to buy the sequel and was tantalised by the cliff-hanging ending. During his career Ray garnered many awards including: a World Fantasy Award for life achievement in 1977; a SF Writers of America (SFWA) Grand Master Award in 1989; a Stoker Life Achievement Award in 1989; a First Fandom award in 1996; a World Horror Grandmaster in 2001; a National Medal of the Arts in 2004 (presented by US President George Bush jnr.); a special citation from the Pulitzer prize board 'for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy' in 2007 – Ray was the only SF/F author to receive Pulitzer recognition; and also in 2007 a Sir Arthur Clarke (Space) Award. In 2010 the SFWA's Nebula Award category covering films and other dramatic works was renamed 'The Ray Bradbury Award'. Of science fact-and-fiction note, in 1992 the asteroid 9766 Bradbury was named in his honour. Ray was one of the few genuine SF/F giants of twentieth century speculative fiction who survived beyond the 21st century's first decade, and so his passing means a lot to older genre aficionados. Younger genre readers are urged to seek his work out. +++ See also elsewhere on this seasonal news page tributes to Ray Bradbury as well as increased sales of Fahrenheit 451. +++ Ray has a bit of Mars named after him.

James Brazell, the US fan, has died aged 59. He was active in Oklahoma fandom.

Leo Dillon, the US book illustrator of the husband and wife, Diane Dillon, team, has died aged 78. Though having an established reputation with children's books, he worked on many SF/F titles of the 1960s and '70s and the couple are Hugo Award winners.

Carlo Fuentes, the Mexican fantasy author, has died aged 86. His notable works include Aura (1962), La Cabeza de la Hidra [The Hydra's Head] (1978), Terra Nostra (1975) and Cristobál Nonato [Christopher Unborn] (1987). He was also a diplomat for the Mexican government who worked in London and Paris among other capitals. He was given a state funeral in Mexico city.

Martin Fleischmann,Czech-born chemist who moved to England in 1938, has died aged 85. His is really only known for his work with Stanley Pons on 'cold fusion'. This was an experiment which seemed to us unlikely (we formulated a position statement at that year's (1989) Jersey British Eastercon) and since then their results have never been independently replicated.

Lonesome George, the last living member of his species, dies young at around 100. Lonesome George died in June. He was the last of the giant Pinta tortoises (Chelonoidis nigra abindoni). Indeed it had been thought that the species was extinct until George was discovered on the Galapagos island of Pinta in 1972. At the Galapagos National Park tortoise breeding programme and was encouraged to mate with females of a closely related sub-species but never succeeded in reproducing. His importance to biology – aside from being the last of his species – was that Darwin noted the differences between similar species (particularly finches but also others including the tortoises) on the various Galapagos islands and this helped him refine his theory of evolution by natural selection of the fittest. In Darwin's time there were many tortoises but then later in the 19th century they were hunted for their meat (particularly flavoursome by all accounts). Members of the Chelonoidis nigra abindoni are thought to live to around 200 years and so George dying at around 100 means that he died young and, one can but only hope, not of loneliness. +++ Plans to resurrect Lonesome George.

Harry Harrison, the N. American SF author, has died aged 87. Though American Harry spent much of his life in the British Isles living at times in London, Ireland, and Brighton but also in Mexico and Denmark. Harry was very much an SF enthusiasts' SF author. He did not just write science fiction but also produced popular non-fiction books on the genre. He did not just write SF books but scripted comic strips such as Jeff Hawke and for a decade Flash Gordon as well as creating the character Rick Random. He was not just an SF author, he was an SF editor and gave us with Brian Aldiss nine volumes of The Year's Best SF up to 1975. He was not just an author his frequent attendance at conventions, such as a number of the British Eastercons of the 1970s and '80s, meant that he was essentially a fan. His first novel Deathworld (1960) concerned the colonists on a planet whose settlement was surrounded by highly aggressive wildlife hostile to the newcomers. He was to go on to write over 50 novels. In terms of the public he was perhaps most famous for the environmental dystopic Make Room! Make Room! on which the film Soylent Green was loosely based (but do catch the two minute introduction that Harry liked on YouTube). (This also inspired one of our team to embark on a lifelong career.) For SF buffs his comic creation The Stainless Steel Rat (1961) is one favourite. It concerns a master thief in the far future whose ability to steal was only matched by his lack of respect for the law. This novel spawned a number of sequels and also was adapted into a comic strip by the 'Galaxy's greatest comic' 2000AD.   Harry also scripted comics too, including the masterful Jeff Hawke.   Harry was vey much an internationalist. Not only did he spend much of his life outside the US, but he was a promoter of Esperanto. His internationalism manifested itself fannishly by his being GoH at many Eurocons including Dublin in the west and Kiev in eastern Europe. As such he will be missed by many fans in many countries not to mention by countless readers.

Richard Harter, the US fan, has died aged 76. He was active in the New England SF Association. His own fanzine was Personal Notes.

Ken Hunt, the US conrunner, has died age 59. He contributed to Chicago conventions and was to be responsible for this year's Chicago-based Worldcon a few days after his demise where he would have been responsible for its logistics. The Chicon 7 Worldcon dedicated their pocket programme book to Ken's memory with a cover note.

Andrew F. Huxley, the renowned scientist with both a science and SF pedigree, has died aged 94. His grandfather was the anatomist Thomas Henry Huxley who was Charles Darwin's 'bulldog' defending Darwin's then new view of evolution. His half-brothers were Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, and Julian Huxley the evolutionary biologist. Andrew Huxley's own contributions to science were similarly formidable. He discerned how electrical activity triggers the contraction of muscle fibres. He worked out how muscle fibres shorten. He also established how ions carry electrical signals in nerves for which he shared a 1963 Nobel Prize with Alan Hodgkin and John Eccles.

Caroline John, the British actress, has died aged 71. Her SFnal renown is that of having played Liz Shaw in four 1970 Doctor Who Jon Pertwee adventures as his first companion, and later reprising her role in 1983's The Five Doctors'.

Jay Kay Klein, the US fan photographer and occasional short story writer, has died aged 80. He was fan guest of honour at the 1974 Worldcon.

William Knowles, the US biochemist, has died aged 95. He spent much of his career with the agricultural firm Monsanto. He was a joint winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for chemistry for his work on chemical syntheses of specific enantiomers (mirror image forms) of molecules.

Sir Bernard Lovell, the British astronomer, has died aged 98. During World War II he led a team developing radar technology, for which he was later awarded an OBE. This in turn led him to his most famous contribution to astronomy, the construction of the pioneering University of Manchester Jodrell Bank radio telescope observatory. The observatory remains the third largest steerable telescope in the world and plays a key role in global research on pulsating stars, testing extreme physics theories including Einstein's general theory of relativity.

Ian Macauley, the US fan active in the 1950s, has died. He was a member of Atlanta fandom and the Atlanta, Georgia SF Organization. He produced the zine Cosmag that was launched in March 1951. He went on to edit ASPO.

Margaret Mahy, the New Zealand children's fantasy author, has died aged 76. She is arguably most known for her novels The Haunting and The Changeover.

Chris Marker, the French writer, artist and film-maker whose time-travel classic film La Jetée (1962) was the acknowledged inspiration for Twelve Monkeys (1995), died on 30 July aged 91 (just).

Donald Nicholson, the British biochemist, has died aged 96. Now, you may have never heard of Nicholson but if ever you have studied the life sciences you will invariably have come across a wall poster of the human metabolic pathways. Back in 1955 Nicholson was the first person to combine all the known metabolic pathways onto a single chart. This has since been published in 22 editions with over a million copies produced, and versions of it appear in virtually every biochemistry textbook. This chart he continued to update and did so through the rest of his career up to a several weeks before his death. The charts could have made Nicholson reasonably wealthy but he gave away the copyright to the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology which in turn provides scholarships for third world students. He was also the author of the popular 'Teach Yourself' book Science: The Universe, Matter and Life (1st edition 1966).

Eugene Polley, the US electrical engineer, has died aged 96. He was the inventor of the wireless TV remote control. This early form looked like a ray-gun that used light to activate photo-cells on the corners of TV sets with each corner having a different function. It was launched in 1955 but was quickly superseded by a rival hyper-sonic device.

Sally Ride, the first US astronaut, has died aged 61 some 17 months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her historic flight was in the space shuttle Challenger in June 1983. Since then, more than 45 women worldwide have flown in space, including two shuttle commanders. Sally Ride had youthful aspirations to be a tennis player but focussed on physics instead and achieved her doctorate from Stanford University. In addition to being the first women in space, at the time of her flight she was the youngest person to have gone into orbit. She also is the author of five books on science for children and was active in encouraging the young to study science. After her time at NASA, she became a professor at University of California, San Diego.

Carlo Rambaldi, the Italian special effects artist, has died aged 86. His introduction to cinema came in 1956 when he was asked to create a 16m (52ft) dragon for a low-budget science fiction film. His most famous genre-related work is that of designing the extraterrestrial in Spielberg's film E.T.. His work won him three Oscars.

Hilary Rubinstein, the British commissioning book editor, has died aged 85. In 1950 he started off working for his book publisher uncle, one Victor Gollancz. At Gollancz he started its SF/F line but left after 13 years. He then became an authors' agent where he represented, among others, the estates of SF/F writers H. G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling. He also represented mundane authors including P. G. Wodehouse.

Anthony [Tony] Scott, the British film director tragically took his own life in the US aged 68. His genre films included The Hunger (1983) based on the Whitely Strieber novel and Déjà Vu (2006). He was also executive producer, along with his brother Ridley Scott, of the maths-based detective series Numb3rs between 2009 and 2010. He also produced Prometheus which was directed by his brother Ridley.

Josepha Sherman, the US author, has died aged 64. Her first novel was Golden Girl and the Crystal of Doom, and she won the Compton Crook Award for her novel The Shining Falcon.

Richard Scott Simak, chemical engineer and son of SF grandmaster Clifford D. Simak, died aged 64 earlier in the year. His work was in chemical defence and he established a reputation for detection diagnostics for chemical warfare agents. He also co-authored an SF short story with his father.

Robert Sokal, the US ecologist, had died aged 86. As a cofounder of 'numerical taxonomy', he devised methods for classifying organisms (later applied much more widely) that foreshadowed the development of phylogenetic analysis. He honed a wide variety of statistical tools, especially for analyzing spatially distributed data, and contributed abundantly to analyzing patterns of human genetic variation. His textbook data analysis in ecology and evolutionary biology Biometry was co-authored with F. J. Rohlf.

Eric Sykes, the UK actor, comedian and writer has died aged 98. His genre-related work included 1950s Goon Show radio scripts, and parts in Alice in Wonderland (1985), Gormenghast (2000), The Others (2001) and Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire (2005).

Mary Tamm, the British actress, sadly dies after a battle with cancer at 62. Mary was known in SF circles for having played the Time Lady Romanadvoratrelundar (or Romana for short) as Dr Who's companion for season 16 of the series starring Tom Baker in 1978-'79. (As a fellow Time Lord, she could regenerate and for season 17 was played by Lalla Ward.) Mary Tamm also appeared in other TV series such as Jonathan Creek and films including The Odessa File. In Dr Who she worked alongside the Mark II K9 and on the 100th episode which was written by Douglas (Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy) Adams.

William Thurston, the US mathematician, has died aged 65. He made many advances in geometry and topology including influencing cosmologists on the shape of the Universe. His insights also influenced Russian mathematician Grigory Perelman in solving the Poicare conjecture oin 2003.

Phillip Tobiasl, the South African anthropologist, has died aged 86. Nominated for a Nobel three times, he is known scientifically for his work on early hominins. His public fame arguably equally relates to his being among those who exposed the Piltdown Man hoax in 1953; he helped show that the bone fragments found in Sussex that were supposed to represent a missing link between man and ape were in fact a forgery, a mixture of human and orangutan remains. As such he cut an image not too far from that of a real-life Indiana Jones.

Gore Vidal, the US author, has died aged 86. His works include Messiah (1954), the play Visit to a Small Planet (1957), Kalki (1978), Duluth (1983), Live From Golgotha (1992) and The Smithsonian Institution (1998).

Roland C. Wagner, the French writer of humorous SF, has tragically died aged 52 in a car accident. At 14, he was the youngest person to win an award at a French SF convention. One testimony to his talent is that he was the winner of four Prix Rosny-Aîné French SF Awards for 'Best Novel' and two for 'Best Short Story' and is to date the author who has won the most Rosny-Aînés. His 'Les Futurs Mystères de Paris' ['The Future Mysteries of Paris'] series of novels (that began with La Balle du Néant [The Bullet From Nowhere] in 1996) has a protagonist who is a transparent detective. His La Saison de la Sorcière [Season of the Witch, 2003] is set in a future France with much police security andwhich is invaded by the United States. This novel received the Bob Morane Prize as well as a Prix Rosny-Aîné. He also wrote under a number of pseudonyms including had written under multiple pseudonyms, including Richard Wolfram, Henriette de la Sarthe, Paul Geron, and Red Deff. In addition he edited anthologies, and translated a number of English-language SF stories into French. His recent novel Rêves de Gloire [Dreams of Glory] just won a Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire prize. Rêves de Gloire is an alternate story in which de Gaulle had been assassinated in 1960, and where rock music has a very different development in an independent little country near Algiers. In addition to the Imaginaire, it has won three other major French prizes.   Roland's surprising death has drawn huge emotion from French fandom.

Simon Ward, the British actor, has died aged 70 after a long illness. He had a lengthy career in film and television spanning four decades. Of SFnal and fantasy note, his cinematic roles included: the surreal if.... (1968), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), Dracula (1974), and Supergirl (1984) in which he played Zor-El.

K. D. Wentworth, the US author, has died aged 60. She authored the novels Black on Black, Moonspeaker and The Imperium Game. Her short stories have been nominated for the Nebula Award a number of times.

Jim Young, the US author, has died aged 88. he was active in Minneapolis fandom. But he also had been a US diplomat and an actor who recently played Hitler in the film Nazis at the Center of the Earth that came out earlier this year.

Richard D. Zanuck, the US film producer whose work includes Cocoon (1985), Chain Reaction (1996), Deep Impact (1998), Planet of the Apes( the2001 remake), Reign of Fire (2002), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Dark Shadows (2012) and Hidden (currently due out 2013).

 

[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 2012

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

Ray Bradbury has part of Mars named after him. NASA has named the site of the Mars Curiosity rover landing after Ray Bradbury who died this summer. NASA announced – on what would have been Bradbury's 92nd birthday – that the landing site of Curiosity was now called Bradbury Landing. NASA's Curiosity team tweeted: "In tribute, I dedicate my landing spot on Mars to you, Ray Bradbury. Greetings from Bradbury Landing!" "This was not a difficult choice for the science team," said Michael Meyer, NASA programme scientist for Curiosity. "Many of us and millions of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars."

The 2014 Olympics opening featured a number of SF/F and science elements but was censored in the US. Masterminded by director Danny Boyle (known for his SF horror 28 Days Later and also Sunshine).   The SFF elements included: the Queen (actually a stunt double) parachuting into the stadium with the technothriller, spy character James Bond; Wind in the Willows characters Ratty and Mole; music ''London Calling' by The Clash (the unofficial theme for the forthcoming 2014 London SF Worldcon); a celebration of children's literature by British authors began with J.K. Rowling reading a section from Sir James M. Barrie's Peter Pan (from which Great Ormond Street Children's NHS Hospital receives royalties), and inflatable representations of children's literature villains The Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook, Cruella de Vil (1001 Dalmations), and Lord Voldemort. The Child Catcher appeared amongst the children; then dozens of women playing Mary Poppins descended on flying umbrellas as the characters deflated and the actors resumed dancing.   The STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) elements included: historic footage of Brunel's Thames Tunnel; a portrayal of the Industrial Revolution; a celebration of Britain's world-leading National Health Service (NHS) complete with NHS doctors and nurses jiving; and Sir Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the world wide web) working at a NeXT Computer and tweeting 'This is for everyone'.
          The opening ceremony by the numbers. It was watched by an estimated audience of 62,000 in the Stadium, a UK BBC TV audience of 22.4 million viewers, and an estimated worldwide audience of over 1 billion. In the US on NBC, the ceremony was the most-watched non-US Olympic opening ceremony ever, with 42 million viewers.   Its budget was just £27m compared with the previous Beijing's Olympics £65m).
          There was criticism of US coverage and in particular NBC's. On-line blog criticism was mainly of the decision to tape-delay its broadcast of the opening and closing ceremonies and not make a live version available even to cable and web users, along with its frequent interruption of the ceremony with commercial breaks. More significant criticism was levelled at NBC for cutting to a Ryan Seacrest interview with Michael Phelps during the "memorial wall" tribute section. An NBC spokesman said the network left that segment out because its Olympic programming was 'tailored for the U.S. audience.' There was also criticism of the apparent belief of Today Show hosts and commentators Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira that the Queen had actually jumped out of a helicopter. There was also an indication that Vieira did not know who Sir Tim Berners-Lee was by stating during commentary to the television audience, 'If you haven't heard of him, we haven't either.''   Other criticism was levelled at a number of the US media leaving out the National Health Service (NHS) section leaving some to wonder whether this was politically motivated.   Apparently Britain's universal free NHS health care system is viewed by some in the US with political disdain despite British health care cost per citizen being far cheaper than for the US citizen, average citizen longevity marginally greater in the UK than US (according to the CIA World Fact Book), Britain's private (non-governmental) pharmaceutical industry contributing a greater percentage to GDP than their counterparts in the US, and UK citizens can still opt for private health care if they want…!   It seems that this is all too politically sensitive for some US media channels. Weird, huh.   Anyway, the Olympic opening was a jolly good show, a celebration of Britain and one that demonstrated we have world-standing STEM and SF/Fantasy. What more could one want?

India's identity scheme latest ID failure. 1984, Orwellian personal national identity schemes are beloved by dictatorial politicians from the post-9/11 USA to former communist Sov-Blok nations. Even Britain's Labour government, in the first decade of the millennium when warned by the Commons all-party Parliamentary Science & Technology Committee that the science of ID was far from fool-proof and open to abuse, reacted by disbanding the longstanding and respected Committee for the best part of a couple of years. Now the latest universal national idea scheme to start unravelling is India's. The multi-billion-dollar ‘Aadhaar’ unique identification number (UID) scheme was created for the most laudable of reasons: to help the poor. Three-quarters of Indians do not have bank accounts, and only 60 million people have a Permanent Account Number or PAN. But just two years after its launch India's own Parliamentary committee has raised concerns about access and misuse of personal information, surveillance, profiling and securing confidential information by the government. Already it seems that illegal immigrants are acquiring UIDs. In Britain, since the Labour Government's dalliance with national ID schemes, the Government has been considering a similar scheme to 'Aadhaar’ but a recent London School of Economics report panned the idea citing costs, unreliable and untested technology as well as the risks to the safety and security of citizens: the UK project could turn out to be a 'potential danger to the public interest and to the legal rights of the individuals'.

'Cloaked' light slows revealing spectrum and many potential uses. Meta-materials (composed of nano-scale structures) are new and already shown to have a number of SFnal properties including creating perfect silence to invisibility. The latest discovery is that light shining through a meta-material of layers of micro-lenses coated with an atomic layer of gold slowed down. As different colours were slowed at different rates, a spectrum resulted: an effect predicted back in 2007. Among potential uses, biomedical diagnostics look promising because many methods depend on how much light interacts with the sample. (Source paper: 2012 Journal of Physics vol. 84.)

Re-writable DNA developed. A rewriteable recombinase addressable data (RAD) module that reliably stores digital information within a chromosome has been developed. The RAD modules use serine integrase and excisionase functions adapted from a bacteriophage to invert and restore specific DNA sequences. The core RAD memory element is capable of passive information storage in the absence of other gene expression for over 100 cell divisions and can be switched repeatedly without performance degradation. This development brings us closer to biologically-based computers. (PNAS. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1202344109).   +++ Book transcribed onto DNA. Reported in the journal Science (DOI:10.1126/science.1226355 (2012)), a team from the Wyss Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, has encoded a 53,000 word book (novella size) together with 11 digital images, onto DNA. This is the largest amount of non-biological data stored on DNA to date. Sequencing the DNA allows it to be decoded. The cost of sequencing means that this is not (yet) a practical way of storing data but the technique is currently the most information-dense way to store data.

The necessary has been done to prepare for future resurrection of Lonesome George, the last of his species, who died in June. In 2008 Ecuador, under whose regimen lies the Galapagos Island of Pinta was the first country to to amend its constitution to grant basic rights to nature and its inhabitants and as such Lonesome George was given a post mortem. This was carried out by Marilyn Cruz, the vet who coordinates governmental agricultural and biosecurity policy in that part of the Galapagos Islands. She took samples of George's skin cells for culturing. The hope is that they could eventually yield stem cells for reproductive cloning.

The first private spaceship to service a Governmental space mission completed its run. The American SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule spent a week attached to the International Space Station having delivered supplies and retrieved experiments and waste. Subsequent to the supply run SpaceX acquired a US1.6 bn (£1 billion) contract with NASA for more runs to the space station.

Romanian Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, plagiarised his doctoral thesis. A large proportion of his thesis was lifted from another work without acknowledgement as to the original source. More than 6,000 scientists have signed a petition for him to resign as Prime Minister. Then a couple of months later (July) the government-appointed National Ethics Council rejected the plagiarism charges. However the following day the ethics commission from the University of Bucharest, where Victor Ponta wrote his doctoral thesis, concluded that he did copy large portions from other works without citation, so suggesting that this copied work was his own.

 

 

[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 2012

End Bits

 

More science and SF news will be summarised in our Spring 2013 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: Petra Bulic, Angel Carralero, Pierre Gevart, Andras Kanai, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf, Roberto Quaglia, plus stand-alone (elsewhere on this site) convention reports from Jim Walker and June Young, and finally thanks go not least to the very many representatives of SF groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk 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 2013 period – needs to be in before early December 2012. 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.

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