Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Autumn 2016

This SF & science news page builds on the seasonal science fiction news previously posted.

[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

EDITORIAL COMMENT (Skip this and jump straight to headlines.)

We note with sadness, but in appreciation for its team, that this season saw the US, daily portal blog SF Signal cease posting new content.  Sadness, because SF Signal for over 12 years did just that – signal to new SF content on the internet.  SF Signal was in one sense the exact opposite of SF² ConcatenationConcatenation provides a seasonal overview of SF news and reviews for those who don't wish to frequently surf (in addition to having a more European focus).  Conversely, SF Signal was daily and included a portal page six days a week of links to new SF content elsewhere on the web and was based on the other side of the Black Atlantic.  We at SF² Concatenation were always appreciative of SF Signal posting links of our three big seasonal editions a year and sometimes other of our content.  And some of us were happy to tip SF Signal the wink to new content we had found on the net or were aware but would not be using until our next seasonal edition which was often weeks, if not months, away.  Furthermore, just as SF² Concatenation has a following (albeit more European as illustrated by our Eurocon Awards), so SF Signal had its and it managed to garner the most prestigious of SF Awards winning the Hugo!  Then again, like SF² Concatenation with its ancillary projects such as its International Weeks of SF or publishing, SF Signal had its ancillary ventures which included three podcast services.  In short, despite the difference in posting frequency, approach, and even an ocean between us, we at little old Concatenation felt that the SF Signallers were somewhat kindred spirits.  Another 'for instance' of this was SF Signal's linking each Sunday to an old SF film online; this paralleled our interest in Fantastic Films and links with the Manchester international fest of the same.  We will greatly miss SF Signal.  And so SF Signal is no more, but for over a decade it did provide the fan community a window on SF.  We do hope it successfully gets archived (we have suggested that the US Congress web archive would be one place to time-capsule the site) so that future web archaeologists can get a glimpse into the N. American SF interests of the early 21st century.  Meanwhile, farewell SF Signal. Perhaps we will meet in silicon heaven?

          Meanwhile, back to this edition's news page that includes below the usual SF people filmSF book trade and TV news. Plus there is the usual season's forthcoming Science Fiction (and separately 'Fantasy') booklists. And then there is a good deal of science news all in the mix.  As is customary, to round things off we have several science & SF interface items.  Enjoy.

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STAFF STUFF (Skip this and jump straight to headlines.)

It has been quite a season full of the unexpected for those of us in Britain. No one would have believed in the last days of the early summer that the UK was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than politicians' yet as mortal…  Yet this summer Britain decided to exit the European Union (Brexit) following poorly reasoned arguments and distortions on both sides of the debate, in a referendum brought about due to political divide within the current government.  A Prime Minister has resigned while the Government's opposition fell apart in disarray with its own leader seeing many of his Shadow Cabinet also resign. Meanwhile, the UK's other former major opposition party was already effectively dead following the last election having spectacularly broken its previous election's pledges going into coalition – People don't forget, and politicians in a democracy break their word at their peril.  Brit politics is largely broken.
          July saw the UK gain a new Prime Minister without a general election: so now Britain is now governed by an unelected woman married to someone called Philip...
          Then this summer we had an official inquiry report on the Iraq war that concluded that the decision to go to war was very flawed, based on insufficient evidence and undue political enthusiasm by the previous government with little if any consideration of the consequences that continue to reverberate around the world today.
          All of which has left much of the country shell shocked without the shells.  Our nation, let alone many other developed nations, had barely covered from the US-induced financial crash of 2006/7. Plus we have had the subsequent UK banking libor scandal, the continuation of obscene bankers' bonuses, the PPI scandal, pension erosion (first by the former government and then by the financial services sector continuing to be poorly regulated by the current government), all the while watching the European Union ruin its Euro-based economy due to the all-but-outright fraudulent submission of Greek economic data that in turn was all too readily accepted by deliberately myopic German politicians to bring Greece into the Euro. This flawed economic union subsequently necessitated a number of multi-billion pound/dollar/Euro bailouts with knock-on effects for a number of other southern European weaker economies.
          All the above was set against a backdrop of demographic pressures over the past half-decade that have caused British house prices to soar and this, together with the rise of university tuition fees, has meant that graduates now leave university with around £50,000 (US$66,500) of debt to deal with and then when they settle down to start a family they have to stump up a few score of thousands for a house deposit. (Back in the mid-1980s a small suburban London house cost three times the average UK wage; today it is over ten times that!)  Of course house-buying presumes that young graduates can actually embark on a career given that half of school leavers now go to university so that the job market is awash with those with degrees.  This degree inflation means you need a degree for many jobs that a couple of decades ago simply did not require one. (So in some London boroughs a degree in environmental science or similar is virtually a prerequisite for a job simply looking after town parks!)  Alternatively vocational apprenticeships, for those seeking non-academic careers, are thin on the ground and with non-degree training (short diplomas etc) being largely axed: so crafts people and vocation-driven youngsters are little better off than indebted degree-inflated graduates.  Consequently, the prospects for the next generation of Brits to embark on a reasonably stable career securing a not particularly ambitious middle-income that can support a home mortgage and lay the foundations for a future family are, for many, simply pure fantasy.  None of this compares with the plight of those in the Middle East and the real deaths and suffering that we all too easily accept and ignore outside of reading newspapers and watching the news.
          This is the future we neither wanted nor envisioned.  Faith in politicians and those running the economic-financial sector has simply evaporated.  You could barely make some, let alone all, of this up if you tried.
          As much as the above has deeply affected us Brits, real life and death a short hop across the water in mainland Europe was the most disturbing news of the summer.  Our French friends had the horror of Nice on Bastille day with which to contend, and then there was an attempted military coup in Turkey that provided the excuse for its leading politicians to clamp down on that nation's civil servants, doctors and academics. July saw more terrorism, this time in Munich and then again in Ansbach, Germany. Back in France there was also the barbaric act in St-Etienne-du-Rouvray. (In our seasonal news round-up below we have a French SF response to this terrorism.)  All not good and all touched us (indeed most Brits and other Western Europeans) almost daily in conversations with friends and those in our respective communities; it has very much coloured our summer. (We trust that those of our regulars on the other side of the Atlantic or in the southern hemisphere have had a better time.)
          Sadly, no doubt more is to come, but this summer has been a rough ride this side of the Pond.  Still, we've had some entertainment from our cousins in the US with the Hillary and Donald show, and Brit GB's performance at the Olympics was cause for some local cheer.

Big staff news both good and bad for one of our book reviewers, Duncan.  The good news first, he has just had a collection of his SF shorts published – see below forthcoming SF books.  The somewhat sad news is that the astronomical stone circle he helped create in Glasgow has after over three decades been removed. This is only 'somewhat sad' as the removal is due to the park undergoing renovation: the 17 stone circle will eventually return to the park in 2019 a little further southeast.  The circle is not just an attempt to produce a Neolithic style circle of stones, thought has gone in to the astronomical alignment according to Earth's (modern) orbital alignment. It has been claimed that the circle in 1979 was the first authentically astronomically aligned stone circle built in Britain for about 3,000 years. Well, we Brits are fond of a lengthy tea break.

Staff gatherings over the summer included two of our founding members Graham and Jonathan meet with two, fellow, Old Age PSIFAns, John and Anthony, the latter of whom was also a former fellow BECCON Eastercon committee member (1987) with Jonathan. (This was the Eastercon at which the first print edition of SF² Concatenation was launched.)  The gathering started well enough with half an hour of chat catching up on latest developments: us all sorting out our work pension arrangements, old age bus passes and so forth. This caused John to exclaim, "is this what we've come to?!"  Trust us, when we first met nearly four decades ago, we were brash young things talking about taking the world by storm.  Surely nothing could stop us?  Half a century later it turns out it looks like that what has slowed us is the second law of thermodynamics.
          Separately, Dan, Jonathan and Graham got together to celebrate the near-summer-solstice.  Then Jonathan and Simon and Elaine met up for a weekend in the Peak District National Park.
          Alan has been busy 'conrunning', leading on organising his 11th borough beer fest. As usual, there were many real ales and ciders from both major as well as microbreweries.  The pair also went steampunk attending the launch of a new Victorian giant sewage pump exhibitionAlan also nipped across the channel to pick up his Thames tug which had been in Belgium.
          Meanwhile a few of us (including some of our book reviewers and convention reporters) are looking forward to attending this year's Eurocon in Barcelona, Spain, where we will be meeting with some of our regular overseas news providers.  And then there will be next year's Helsinki, Finland Worldcon.  Perhaps we will see some of you at one or other of these two happenings?
          Looking forward to next year and SF² Concatenation will be 30!  (Frightening, huh?)

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Elsewhere this issue…
Aside from this seasonal news page, elsewhere this issue (vol 26 (5) Autumn 2016) we have stand-alone items on:-
          - an article on Spanish Science Fiction by Alejandro Mohorte & José Nieto, which sort of complements this year's Eurocon, Spain's first.
          - a report on Au Contraire 3 - New Zealand's 2016 national convention.
          - a report on Britain's 2016 national convention.
          - a report on ConCarolinas a US regional convention.
          - over 40 (yes 'over 40'!) standalone fiction book reviews together with half a dozen non-fiction and science reviews.
See our What's New page for a full listing of articles and reviews recently posted.
          All SFnally sustaining.

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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...).

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[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

This first subsection quickly links you to the major items of news.  For more detailed coverage go direct to the principal subsections that interest you (see the blue subsection index above as well as between each subsection below).

Major SF/F news last season includes:  Iron man changes ethnicityHarry Potter play has mega successFrance's Galaxies to have an Arab SF edition in response to terrorismFear magazine is being re-launched;  and Judge Dredd to battle both Aliens and Predators.

Major Science news last season includes:  The first species to go extinct due to climate changeEarliest rocks on Earth discoveredGeneral relativity passes another testPlanetary system with three suns locatedEarth gets a new MoonCeres may have waterThe likely nature of Earth's first life is elucidatedFirst orders – Beer remains from 5,000 years ago found;  and the origin of dogs is deduced.

SF/F & Science Awards news over the Summer (2016) included:  for Science the Heinlein Prize  and the Blavatnik Prizes are presented… And for Science Fiction included:  Britain's Clarke (book) Award, the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Awards;  Canada's Prix Aurora Boreal and Prix Aurora Awards;  Finland's Kosmoskyna, Atorox and Tahtivaeltaja Awards;  France's Prix Imaginales and Rosny Prizes;  Germany's Curt Siodmak and Deutsche SF Preis;  Japan's Seiun Awards;  New Zealand's Julius Vogel Awards;  Poland's Nowa Fatastyka Awards and Zajdel Awards;  Russia's Aelita, and Roskon Awards;  the US Locus Awards;  and finally the Hugo Awards and the US writers' Nebula Awards.

Book news of the season – Includes: the Gollancz festBrexit's impact on the book tradenew Michael Crichton novel posthumously foundSF Gateway marks first five years;  the 150 anniversarry of H. G. Wells birth marked with reprints;  and UK print (paper) book sales continue to rise.

Film news of the season – Includes: that of: seasonal box office highlightsJohn Carpenter wins plagiarism case;  news of Blade Runner IISeveneves to be a film;  news of the new Alien film and Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2.  Plus we have a number of links to short videos and film trailers, including:  a France's amazing Mecs Meufs;  the complete Judge Dredd Superfiend animation;  the trailer for the new film Embers and the trailer for the new Westworld re-boot television series.   See the section here.

Television news of the season – Includes:  that of the new Star Trek series;  the BBC ditches one Dirk Gently series only to launch a brand new oneNeil Gaiman's Interworld to come to TVLost in Space gets 10 episodes commissioned;  plus Game of Thrones and Z Nation news among other items.

News of SF and science personalities includes that of Scientists David Attenborough and Tim Peake as well as SF people including Stephen King, Stanley Kubrick's daughter, David Langford, George R. R. Martin, Alistair Reynolds and 2016 Worldcon.

Major forthcoming SF event news below includes that of:   the 2016 Eurocon in Barcelona;  the 2017 Eurocon in Dortmund and the 2018 Eurocon bid for France as well as the 2020 Worldcon bid by New Zealand.

Notable SF books due out over the Autumn 2016 includes:  the War of the Worlds sequelTake back the Sky by Greg BearA Closed Common Orbit by Becky ChambersThe Tourist by Robert DickinsonLuna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald;  Replica by Lauren OliverThe Gradual by Christopher Priest;  Revenger by Alistair Reynolds and Liberation by Ian Tregellis.

Notable SF reprints editions due out this season include:  The Handmaid's Tale by Margatret Atwood;  Starship Troopers by Robert HeinleinMortal Engines by Stanislaw Lem;  various H. G. Wells novels and The Book of the New Sun by gene Wolfe.

The Summer saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These among others included… Scientists: Helen EdwardsHarry ElderfieldIlka HanskiWalter KohnTom KibbleHarry KrotoLloyd Shapley and Alvin Toffler.  And SF/F personalities: Maurice Dantec, Robin HardyLars GustafssonRobin SismanGareth Thomas and Kit West.

Science & SF news last season included: A nano-blade is createdMirror DNA is created;  and Pain giving robot names after Asimov law.

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

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[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SCIENCE FICTION NEWS

The 2016 Hugo Awards were announced at this year's Worldcon.  This year saw 4,032 submitting nominations (though not everyone nominated for all categories) and 3,130 voting on the shortlist submitted (again not everyone voted for all categories). The numbers nominating were up but those voting on the final short-lists were significantly down on last year's 5,950 ballots received.  The number is year voting on the short-lists therefore was, at 3,130, broadly comparable to the 3,587 to those voting for the 2014 Hugo Awards. Having said that, London in 2014 was roughly twice the size of this year's Worldcon.  So what we have is fewer voting but a higher proportion of the convention participating. All things given, that is reasonably healthy.
          The principal Hugo category wins (those categories with over two thousand nominating) were:-
          Best Novel: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
          Best Novella: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
          Best Short Story: 'Cat Pictures Please' by Naomi Kritzer
          Best Related Work: No Award
          Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form: The Martian (Trailer here.) which back in January (2016) we cited as one of the best SF/F/H films of 2015.
          Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form: Jessica Jones 'AKA Smile'.
          Other category (win information) (those categories with less than 2,000 nominating the works) can be found at thehugoawards.org.
          A special mention this year for the John W. Campbell Award. This is not a Hugo, though is presented at the same time as the Hugos: it is for the best new SF writer debuting the previous two years. This year it went to Andy Weir and this is a very deserving win given the ambiguity of his, The Martian, novel's Hugo eligibility (as books are effectively only eligible for Hugos within two year's of publication there was eligibility confusion). Indeed we cited The Martian as one of the best books of 2014 but not only did it come out before that in the USA by a major publisher, but before that it was a self-published e-book on Amazon and still before that came out in chapter instalments on a blog – hence the confusion as to which year it was eligible for a Hugo.  Problem solved this year with the film of the novel getting the Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form Hugo and also the author Andy Weir being awarded the Campbell (which goes to debut authors). Congratulations.
          Not so much of the Hugo Awards' ceremony were posted to YouTube as there have been some previous years, though there was live streaming which was great depending in which part of the world you lived, or not if your time zone made it 3am. Nonetheless much thanks go to those few who did provide coverage.
          We could talk about Puppies but that topic is getting decidedly wearing. Long story short: the Pup nominations were blocked by those voting on the shortlists. (See also WSFS business meeting in the Eurocon/Worldcon subsection below.)
          +++ Hugo Awards ceremony video here www.ustream.tv/recorded/90659973. (Yes, it's UStream which is not the best for download storing for those in rural areas with poor broadaband.)
          +++ Last year's principal category Hugo winners here.

The 2016 Heinlein Prize has been presented to the private space company Blue Origin founder, Jeff Bezos. Jeff Bezos is the third recipient of the Heinlein Prize which is given for encouraging and rewarding progress in commercial space activities that advances Robert Heinlein and his wife Virginia’s dream of humanity’s future in space. (As such it is distinct from the Heinlein Award for SF.) Blue Origin is responsible for a number of technology firsts: the reusable BE-3, a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen engine which is now being used in Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft; New Shepard itself is the first rocket ever to fly above the Karman line into space and then land vertically upon the Earth and indeed has done so multiple times with the same rocket hardware – not even removing the engine between flights. Jeff Bezos made his fortune through Amazon.

The 2016 Clarke (book) Award has been presented. The winner is Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky from a shortlist consisting of:-
          The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
          Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson
          The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor
          Arcadia by Iain Pears
          Way Down Dark by J. P. Smythe.

The 2016 Nebula Awards (for 2015 works) were announced at the SFWA’s (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) 51st Annual Nebula Awards weekend in Chicago, USA. The principal category wins, as voted by SF Writers of America, were:-
          Novel: Uprootedby Naomi Novik
          Novella: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
          Novelette: 'Our Lady of the Open Road' by Sarah Pinsker
Also presented was the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation the winner was Mad Max: Fury Road (which back in January (2016) we cited as one of the best SF/F/H films of 2015)
Details of all the category wins can be found at www.sfwa.org.  Last year's principal win Nebulas here.

The Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Awards were announced at the World Horror Convention that was held this year in Provo, Utah, USA. They are named in honour of the author of the seminal horror novel Dracula. The principal category wins were:-
          Novel: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
          Debut Novel: Mr. Suicide by Nicole Cushing
          Graphic Novel: Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury by Sam Weller & Mort Castle (eds.)
          Screenplay: It Follows (which back in January (2016) we cited as one of the best SF/F/H films of 2015)
Full details of all the category wins can be found at www.horror.org. Last year's principal category winners here.

The 2016 Blavatnik Awards for US young scientists have been presented Each of the three winners receives US$250,000 (£180,000) and as such the award provides the largest cash prize for young scientists in the world. The prizes are funded by the Blavatnik family and awarded annually by the New York Academy of Sciences. This year's winners were:-
          David Charbonneau (searching for chemical signatures for life in space).
          Phil Baran (pharmaceutical chemical synthesis).
          Michael Rape (ubiquitin chemical signalling in cells).

The 2016 Locus SF Awards have been announced for 2015 works. The awards were presented at the Locus Awards Weekend at the end of June. The winner of the Best SF Novel category was:-
          Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
From a shortlist also comprising of:-
          The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi (of which back in January (2016) we noted we heard good things when considering the best SF/F/H books of 2015)
          Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson (of which back in January (2016) we noted we heard good things when considering the best SF/F/H books of 2015)
          Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (which back in January (2016) we cited as one of the best SF/F/H books of 2015)
          A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe
The other principal SF category wins were:-
          Novella: Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds
          Debut: The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
          Juvenile Fiction: The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
The Locus Awards are voted on by the readers of Locus magazine and visitors to the online Locus website. Full details of all the category wins are at the Locus Science Fiction Foundation site.
  For more about Locus see the the Locus website.  +++ For last year's Locus Awards see here.

Poland's Nowa Fantastyka Awards have been presentedat this year's Pyrkon. The two category winners were:-
          Book: Rozlaka[The Separation] by Christopher Priest
          Reflektor [Spotlight] (an award for young writers and or their work]: Weronika Murek
Last year's Nowa Fantastyka here.

Poland's 2016 Zajdel Awards were announced during Polcon for 2015 works. The award is fan voted and the winners were:-
          Best Novel: Pamiec wszystkich slow. Opowiesci z meekhanskiego pogranicza [Memory of all Words. Tales from the Meekhaneese Border] by Robert M. Wegner
          Best Short Story: 'Milczenie owcy' [' Silence of the Lamb'] by Robert M. Wegner
Note: Robert Wegner has won award in both categories for the second time (previously he did it during Polcon in 2013 in Warsaw).

The 2016 Prix Imaginales were presented at this year's Imaginales in Epinal, France, France.. The winners of the juried awards were:-
          French Novel: L'Héritage des Rois Passeurs [The Legacy of the Passeur Kings] by Manon Fargetton
          Best New Novel: Une Robe Couleur D'Océan Par [An Ocean Coloured Garment ] by Estelle Faye
          Foreign Novel: Une Histoire Naturelle Des Dragons [A Natural History of Dragons ] by Marie Brennan
          Juvenile Fiction: La Fille Qui Navigua Autour De Féérie Dans Un Bateau Construit De Ses Propres Mains [The Girl Who sailed around Enchantment In A Boat Built With Her Own Hands] by Catherynne M. Valente
          Illustration: Melchior Ascaris for the graphics in Electric Sheep publications
          Prix Spécial du Jury: Éditions Callidor [Callidor Publications] for the collection L'Âge D'Or de la Fantasy [The Golden Age of Fantasy].

New Zealand's Julius Vogel Awards for 2015 were announced at the 2016 NZ national convention 'Au Contraire'. The category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Ardus by Jean Gilbert
          Best Youth Novel: Dragons Realm by Eileen Mueller
          Best Novella / Novellete: 'The Ghost of Matter' (in Shortcuts: Track 1) by Octavia Cade
          Best Short Story: 'The Thief's Tale' by Lee Murray
          Best Collected Work: Write Off Line 2015: The Earth We Knew edited by Jean Gilbert & Chad Dick
          Best Artwork: Shortcuts: Track 1 cover by Casey Bailey
          Best Professional Production/Publication: White Cloud Worlds Anthology 3 edited by Paul Tobin
          Best Dramatic Presentation: No award
          New Talent: Jean Gilbert
          Best Fanzine: Phoenixine by John & Lynelle Howell
          Best Fan Writing: John Toon
          Best Fan Artwork: Keith Smith for contributions in Novazine
          Services to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror: Marie Hodgkinson
          Services to Fandom: Glenn Young
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).   Notes: Lee Murray also won last year's Vogel for 'Best Short Story'.  Phoenixine also won Best Fanzine the previous four years in a row as well as in 2010.  This is the second year in a row that Keith Smith has won a Vogel for 'Best Fan Artwork'.  +++ Last year's Vogels are here.

Japan's 2014 Seiun Awards were announced at the 53rd Japanese national SF convention. The principal category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Vendetta Planet by Kajio Shinji
          Best Translated Novel: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
          Best Translated Short Story: 'Good Hunting' by Ken Liu
          Best Dramatic Presentation: Girls und Panzer der Film
Notes: The award is voted on by the convention's registrants.  This is the second Seiun short story win for Ken Liu.

Canada's Prix Aurora-Boréal Awards have been announced. The principal category win presented at this year's Boreal was the Best French Language Novel: Le Jeu du Démiurge by Philippe-Aubert Côté.

Canada's Prix Aurora Awards have been announced at this year's Canvention. This is the 36th time the awards have been presented. The principal category winners were:-
          Best English Novel: A Daughter of No Nation by A. M. Dellamonica
          Best English Juvenile Novel: An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet
          Best Short Fiction: 'Waters of Versailles' by Kelly Robson
          Best Visual Presentation: Orphan Black Season 3.
The Prix Aurora Awards are voted on by members of Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA) and presented at Canvention.  +++ Last year's Prix Aurora here.

Germany's Curt Siodmak Prize (visual) and the German SF Prize (written) were awarded by the SF Club Deutschland (SFCD) at their annual convention this year called MediKonOne held in August. The wins were:-
          Curt Siodmak - Film: The Martian (which back in January (2016) we cited as one of the best SF/F/H films of 2015)
          Curt Siodmak - TV: Dr Who Season 6
Last year's Siodmak awards here which also saw a win for Dr Who.
The Deutsche Science Fiction Preis DSFP (German SF Club Prize ):-
          Best Novel: Das Schiff [The Ship] a space opera novel by Andreas Brandhorst
          Best Story: 'Operation Gnadenakt' ['Operation Act of Mercy'] by Frank Böhmert
The story is about Adolf Hitler who did not die in 1945 but instead was kept alive by US intelligence officials. He is steadily kept informed about the developments of the outside world so that he can see that the world is better off without his ideologies and ideas. He may live on as a kind of eternal punishment.
          The German SF Club Prize is a juried award from the German SF Society (Club) SFCD. The award carrieds a prize of €1,000 (£750). Conversely, the Curt Siodmak Prize is fan voted. Curt Siodmak, after whom the prize is named, was a German writer and film director born in 1902.   +++ Last year's Prizes can be found here.

The Aelita Awards and other prizes were presented at the 33rd Aelita convention in Yekaterinburg, Urals in central Russia. (Note: You can only win the principal Aelita once.) The principal award wins were:-
          Aelita Award: Eugene Filenko
          Debut Award: Not presented this year
          Yefremov Prize (SF Promotion): Not presented this year
          Prize. B. Bugrova (Contribution to Speculative Fiction): Gennady Prashkevich (who previously won a Yefremov Prize in 2014)

Russia's 23rd Interpresscon Awards were presented at Interpresscon 27 in St Petersburg. The award is determined by convention attendee vote. The principal wins were:-
          Novel: Henry Lion Oldie for Escape to Capture (the author a previous Roskon (at least twice), Big Zilant, and an Aelita among other prizes. )
          Debut Novel: Robert Ibatullin for Rose and the Worm
          Average-sized story (novella): Yevgeny Lukin for 'Poneropol' (a previous winner of a Mir, Interpresscon, Big Zilant, Roskon and a Wanderer)
          Small-sized story (short story): Svyatoslav Loginov for ' Beast named Hibiscus'
          Small Snail: Andrei Ermolaev (a previous Aelita winner)
Note: 'Small Snail' award was established in 2012 with the consent of Boris Strugatsky and sort of takes over from the now-demised Bronze Snails. The Small Snails go for work promoting the genre and/or Russian fandom and is decided on by the Interpresscon committee.

The 2016 Roskon Awards, voted by participants of Russia's Roskon convention, were presented at this year's Roskon near Moscow:-
          Best Novel Gold: Escape to Capture by Henry Lion Oldie
          Best Novel Silver: Butterfly on her Shoulder by Anna Oduvalova
          Best Novel Bronze: Sixth Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko
          SF of the Year: Commercial success of the year: Dmitry Glukhov (previous winner of an Utopiales)
The above is just a summary; this year there were Roskon categories for short stories, juvenile fiction and non-fiction. 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.  Regulars will have spotted that over the years Henry Lion Oldie has repeatedly won many different genre awards across former Soviet nations including this year an Interpresscon above.  Sergei Lukyanenko is also a very popular and a prolific author noted for his 'Watch' series and the winner of many SF/F awards across Europe including previous Roskons, Stalker, Kurd Lasswitz and a Starbridge among others.

France's Rosny Prizes were presented at the French natcon this year held in Gradignan (near Bordeaux) The winners were:-
          Best Novel: Lumen by Laurent Genefort
          Best Short: 'Ethfrag' by Laurent Genefort
Note that Laurent Genefort has received the GPI Prize in St Malo this year for Lumen.
          Also presented at the French natcon was the Alain le Bussy Prize (for an original short) that went to Emmanuel Le Gourrierec for his story 'Mona et le nouveau monde' ['Mona and the New World'] which will be shortly published in an edition of the French SF magazine Galaxies.

The Finnish Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association occasionally gives a Kosmoskyna [Cosmos Pen] award to a person who has benefited Finnish science fiction literature. This year the award was given to Irma Hirsjärvi for her work research Finnish fantasy.  +++ As far as we know it was last given in 2014.

The Atorox Award for best Finnish SF short story published the previous year was announced at Finncon. The top three authors this year were:-
          Magdalena Hai (the winner)
          Oskari Rantala
          Tuukka Tenhunen

Finland's Tähtifantasia Award has been presented. It is for the best fantasy book translated into Finnish: The winner of this juried award is the collection Etäisten esikaupunkien asioita [Tales from Outer Suburbia] by Shaun Tan and translated by Jaana Kapari-Jatta for the imprint Lasten keskus.

Finland's Tähtivaeltaja Award for the best science fiction novel published in Finnish has been presented. The winning title was Uusi maa [MaddAddam] by Margaret Atwood, translated into Finnish by Kristiina Drews.  This book we previously cited as one of the best SF novels of 2013.

New Finnish fantasy is now available from the online zine FinnishWeird. It is accessible at www.finnishweird.net/.

Iron Man is to become a 15 year old black girl, Marvel announces. Iron Man first appeared in a Marvel comic in 1963 as Tony Stark the multimillionaire industrialist. The new Iron Girl will be Riri Williams, a Chicago-born science student studying at MIT. This news follows on from last year that Spiderman will become mixed race, that Thor becomes female and that Captain America will become African-American. All of which begs the question as to whether this is Marvel Comics being progressive, or whether they are simply adapting to shifting market demographics.

The Harry Potter play has had great success. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opened over the summer at London's Palace Theatre. The play, with its story by J. K. Rowling, script written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany, is a sequel to J. K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' books being set some years on with Harry tired working at the Ministry of Magic and his own children now themselves teenagers. The play works in its own right but for Potter fans it is packed with references to the books and in-jokes. It opened to excellent reviews from the mainstream press.  The show is currently slated to run until May next year (2017). The Potter books have sold over 450 million copies and been adapted into eight films. The book also came out this season.  +++ J. K. Rowling praises her fans who saw the previews for not leaking reveals on the internet. "It's the most extraordinary fandom, so I'm not surprised... they didn't want to spoil it for each other.  +++ Potter fans have been annoyed at Cursed Child two part play tickets being sold second hand by touts for up to £1,000 or more. Conversely tickets bought from official vendors Nimax and ATG cost significantly less, with tickets priced at between £15 - £70 per part.  Tout sites – such as StubHub – have snapped up tickets and been re-selling them at grossly inflated prices that benefit neither the theatre nor the play's producers. The theatre has said that it reserves the right to refuse admission to anyone with tickets purchased on re-sale websites.  The tout ticket re-sale scam has been the bane of the rock concert industry for many years and more recently affected some stand-up comedy shows. The following week some 60 people were turned away from the play after buying tickets from unauthorised retailers. One ticket that normally sold for up to £70 (US$90) was reportedly on sale on a secondary website for £6,200 (US$8,000)!

Galaxies, the SF magazine, is to have a special Arabic edition. This edition is in part a French SF counter to the acts of terrorism over the summer.  In 2008 and 2009, Galaxies and its sister magazine Géante Rouge had already published some extracts of Kawthar Ayed's PhD Thesis from on Arabian SF. There was the first Arabic SF convention in Damas at which Galaxies' editor attended and who invited Tunisian and Syrian Arabic writers to the French convention national convention in 2009. Then came the Arab spring... Another Arabian SF convention took place in Tunisia, with Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, Libyan and Syrian participants together with one of the GoH's being non-Arabic, Galaxies' editor. At that event it was to publish a special issue of Galaxies, both in French and for Tunisian distribution, in Arabic. This issue, in addition to Galaxies usual short stories from typical non-Arabic sources (such as one from Charles Stross, one from a Brazilian writer, one from a Canadian author and three from French writers, it will contain an article on Arabian SF by Kawthar Ayed entitled 'What about Arabic and Tunisian SF?' and three Arabian speculative fiction short stories: 'Space Sinbad' by Taib Triki (Tunisia), 'Linguarium' by Faycel Lahmeur (Algeria) and 'Einstein's Eyes' by Salah Maati (Egypt), together with a sample chapter from a novel by Taleb Oumran (Syria).  Galaxies is also hoping that in the future it will have a special edition on African SF, and we understand that the writer Geof Ryman (who was the master of ceremonies at the 2014 Hugo ceremony at that year's London Worldcon) is helping with this venture.  Further information about Galaxies can be found at www.galaxies-sf.com.  +++ See also the 2018, French Eurocon bid with which Galaxies is involved.

Fear magazine was re-launched.  Fear was originally was a British full-colour magazine published by Newsfield between 1988 and 1991. It covered horror and fantasy horror but also dipped into science fiction. The original editor, John Gilbert, is behind the August (2016) re-launch. In addition to print, each issue is also available in e-pub format that can be viewed on any device - tablet, smartphone, laptop and desktop - every other month.

Judge Dredd is now battling both the Predator and Aliens. This is both an interesting development being welcome news for many, but will also cause some confusion and so we will explain.
          In the latter half of the (northern hemisphere) summer Dark Horse in the US (with permission from Britain's 2000AD) launched a four-part comic min-series entitled Predator vs Judge Dredd vs Aliens which will be completed in November and hopefully there will be a graphic novel omnibus to follow next year (2017).  This new adventure sees Dredd tracking a criminal in the Cursed Earth (the post-nuclear wasteland of much of what was central US) and to the Alabama Morass that is where a rogue geneticist is based.  This geneticist has managed to capture a Predator and has extracted Alien DNA from a trophy skull belonging to the said Predator. And you can guess where all this is going.
          Yet, long before the Aliens vs. Predator (2004) there the various 'Aliens' and 'Predator' comics and graphic novels that brought the two franchises together perhaps most notably in the 1996 Aliens Predator War which notably sported an introduction by the SF grandmaster author Robert Sheckley.  Then in 2007 we had the somewhat plot-bland, and shot poorly lit film Aliens vs. Predator: AVP Requiem that again brought the two franchises together.  But before any of these 2000AD was on the ball with 1997's, excellent but a little short, Predator vs. Judge Dredd graphic novel and then we had the 2002 Judge Dredd vs. Aliens: Incubus graphic novel.
          And this is where the confusion potentially comes in. These last two Dredd and Alien or Predator stories were brought together in 2014 in a 20000AD and Dark Horse graphic hardback called Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens – Incubus and Other Stories omnibus. So Dark Horse now calling their new title Predator vs Judge Dredd vs Aliens rather than something more distinctive is a little thoughtless and is bound to cause some confusion to the innocently unwitting.  But then 2000AD and Dark Horse have both previously exhibited episodes of lack of thought when assembling their otherwise largely excellent omnibus graphic novels.  Such is the world, drokk it.

A great new way to collect the Judge Dredd stories. Actually this news is a year old but Rebellion (who own 2000AD don't press release us as other publishers do; in fact we are not even sure they do press releases).  Rebellion have teamed up with Hachette Partworks to produce a fortnightly series of reasonably-priced (under £10) hardback and paperback mix of graphic anthologies of Dredd stories called 'Judge Dredd The Mega Collection'. Each volume is themed: Angel gang, horror, P. J. Maybe, etc. stories.  The advantage of this collection is that they include the arguably better Dredd stories and that they are themed, so if you like the theme the chances are you'll like all the stories in the volume.  This series complements the individual Dredd graphic novels and anthologies as well as the separate 'Complete Case Files' that have absolutely all the Dredd stories in order of publication (save those that appeared in the annuals and summer specials and these have their own short run of volumes).  This new Hachette Partworks, 'Judge Dredd The Mega Collection' fortnightly series is arguably the most effective way for comparative newcomers to Judge Dredd to get most of the Dredd stories published over the past four decades and almost certainly all the key ones, in one run of graphic anthologies despite there already being some 30 volumes printed. Probably the best way to get the past run to date is to order them through your local bookshop who getting a trade discount will not charge you postage. Alternatively you can write to 'Judge Dredd The Mega Collection' by e-mail to JudgeDredd [-at-] JacklinService [-dot-] com or phone 0333 300 1510 Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm GMT but check out www.JudgeDreddCollection.com first. They should be able to give you details of their counterparts Australia, New Zealand, S. Africa, Malta, Malaysia and Singapore. The UK cost is £9.99 NZ$24.99 / Aus$19.99 / S. Africa R109.90, plus postage which is £1 per copy in the UK (autumn 2016). Given this last, ordering the 30 issues to date through a bookshop will save you £30 postage and cost you £399.70p and you can collect future ones at just £9.99 once a fortnight.  As said, these are ideal for those comparatively new to Dredd wishing to catch up in the cheapest way. Longstanding Dredd aficionados will find duplications in their existing graphic novel collections (and of course all the stories can be found in the 'Complete Case Files') but it is still worth getting some individual volumes if you are missing something special.  Apologies for our being late with this news. While number of us on the core SF² Concatenation team are longstanding 2000AD fans (from back in the Starlord days) and so already have the standalone graphic novels, 2000AD's internal advertising focuses on giant cover images at the expense of providing content and series' detail, so we missed out on the significance of this new series until one of us stumbled across it. Drokk.

2000AD news.:-
          • The ageing, battle-worn, Judge Dredd has undergone medical rejuvenation, and so now the sixty year old looks like someone in their late 40s or early 50s.
          • Judge Anderson has a new (questionable?) haircut.
          • The Judge Dredd Megazine has had a 3.3% price increase.
          • P. J. Maybe is back murdering in Mega City 1 and taunting Dredd.
          • The Megazine still has those contributor (2000AD-gave-me-my-first-break) articles, the debate as to the value of which occasionally surfaces in the letter column: it is likely they will remain until we get a change of editor.

London's Barbican has announced a summer programme of science-fiction in 2017.  Called 'Sci Fi (sic) Summer', it will include a major new exhibition called 'Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction' with manuscripts, props, costumes etc.  There will also be a an outdoor screenings of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey based on the Arthur C. Clarke screenstory and a live performance of the score from Andrei Tarkovsky's film Solaris that in turn was based on the Stanislaw Lem classic novel.

Washington's The Museum of Science Fiction is displaying the 2001: A Space Odyssey Orion III space-plane. The Washington (US) Museum of Science Fiction (which keeps proclaiming itself as the world’s first comprehensive science fiction museum though actually that honour goes to Switzerland's Maison d'Allieurs [House of Elsewhere] founded in 1975) has announced some rather interesting developments over the summer including some rather good exhibits.  Included in the mix the Museum of Science Fiction is hosting a 1/35 scale model of the 2001: A Space Odyssey Orion III space-plane as the centre piece of its SpaceLink exhibit. The SpaceLink exhibit is a high-tech and hands-on environment that utilises different interactive experiences to inform visitors of the latest in space science development. In addition to seeing the Orion III space-plane, visitors can try on a flight suit, watch NASA mission launches live, and construct a planetary rover among other rotating activities. The SpaceLink exhibit and will be on display until late February 2017.

A Superman first Action Comics breaks trend selling for £728,000 (US$956,000). Action Comics no 1, that saw Superman's debut, cost 10 cents when it first went on sale in 1938, but has now (2016) been auctioned for US$956,000.  Importantly, its condition was rated 5.5-out-of-10.  Previously, a 9-out-of-10-rated-condition copy of the same edition fetched US$3.2m (£1.9m) in 2014.  However, overall the sales of the same edition of this comic have been steadily increasing in recent years. In 2009 a Superman Action No. 1 sold for £227,000 (US$317,200); in 2010 it sold for £646,000 (US$1m); and in

50-year old Dalek sells for record £38,500 (US$51,000).  67 items of TV memorabilia went on sale in Derbyshire that included a Dalek from the film Daleks: Invasion Earth: 2150 AD, fetched £38.5k. The collection as a whole sold for almost £90,000 in total. The Dalek sale beat the previous Dalek price record set in 2005, that stood at just over £36,000. Included in the auction was a Cyberman from the 19th season that sold for £2,000 and a TARDIS from a stage show that got £1,000.

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[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

David Attenborough FIBiol has turned 90. This will not be news to anyone in the British Isles, such has been the media coverage as well as the re-runs of his biology television documentaries. Few into science have had the accolades and been given the appreciation that Sir David has had, not least including last year being invited to the White House for a two-way interview with the President of the US.  Happy birthday David.

Jeff Bezos, according to Forbes, has become the third richest person in the world. Forbes estimates his worth to be £49.5 billion (US$65.3bn). The Amazon founder, Bezos, has made his wealth from the company amidst some controversy including: accusations of bullying small publishers, concerns over Amazon's tax arrangements, claims as to Amazon employee conditions, concerns over Amazon's domination of the market place and disputes with major publishers. Not to mention fears that its market impacts have helped cause high street bookshops to close. Indeed the latest enquiry Amazon faces is over possible publisher bullying and potentially illegal contracts.  +++ See also Jeff Bezos wins Heinlein Prize above and more Amazon UK news below.

Sophie Calder has left the SF imprint Gollancz to become head of publicity at Harlequin.  It does not seem that long since Sophie took over from Jonathan Weir; how time flies. Sophie has kept us informed of Gollancz's new and forthcoming releases and we wish her well in her new role. Stevie Finegan is now responsible for Gollancz PR.

Neil Gaiman has appeared on the Beeb Beeb Ceeb’s Radio 4 Home Service's ‘Front Row’ to promote the television series Likely Stories from Sid Gentle Films on the Sky Arts channel. The series consisted of adaptations of four of his short stories: ‘Foreign Parts’, Feeders & Eaters’, ‘Closing Time’ and ‘Looking For The Girl’.  Apparently he had given Sky Arts a wide selection of stories from which to choose s and was surprised that they selected the more dark ones.  He was also asked – given that he writes for both comics and books, SF and fantasy and cult genre – as to what sort of writer he considers himself? He replied that he no longer gets a binary response from people. He used to be either asked back ‘who are you’ or was informed ‘you are my favourite author’ and so in those days considered himself a cult writer. But now he sells too well, and so is similarly known, for such binary responses. +++ See also below Gaiman's Interworld to be TV series.

Diana Gill has become Executive Editor of Tor/Forge in the US.  Previously she managed Harper Voyager US for twelve years before becoming an SF editor at Ace/Roc in 2014. She left Ace/Roc earlier this year due to a company merger.

Stephen King is being honoured by the Library of Congress for his lifetime of work promoting literacy. He will be opening the main stage of the 2016 Library of Congress National Book Festival on 24th September at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington DC, US. His latest book is a collection of shorts, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

Vivian Kubrick, daughter of film director Stanley, has written an open letter in response to the 'many people' who had asked her whether her father – the director of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining – was involved in a government cover-up that the NASA Moon landings were faked using the cinematic skills he developed on 2001. Vivian announced that this was a 'grotesque lie'.

David Langford has ended his run of some 247 articles for SFX magazine. To mark the occasion he has prepared an expanded e-book edition of The SEX Column and Other Misprints (2005) and is preparing The Last SFX Visions. Seek them out, they are little gems.

George Lucas has said that he will not be locating his proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago. The Star Wars creator had been hoping to build it on Chicago's lakefront amidst parkland. Locals effectively blocked the proposal in the federal court. Previously Lucas had hoped to site the museum in San Francisco but was blocked there by a national park board. For some reason Lucas seems set upon locating his building in, or next to, a city's major natural amenity.

George R. R. Martin this summer has been celebrating 20 years since the Game of Thrones book came out. To mark the occasion, Bantam Spectra in the US brought out a very special anniversary, illustrated edition with some really stunning artwork. There are seventy-three black and white interior illustrations, and eight full colour plates: forty-eight of these are completely new, never-before-seen artwork.  Hopefully an edition will come out at some stage in Britain.  +++ See also Game of Thrones television news in the TV section below.

Tim Peake, the British astronaut currently on a six-month mission with the orbiting International Space Station, has become a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours list.  The honour is usually given for 'serving the UK abroad'.

Beatrix Potter, the children's fantasy author and illustrator, has had a series of British postal stamps released to mark the 150th anniversary of her birth.  The Royal Mail stamps features six characters and scenes from her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The Tale of Peter Rabbit has sold over 40 million copies globally.  Of interest to science fact & fiction concateneers, in addition to being a children's fantasy author and illustrator she was also a scientific illustrator and amateur naturist.  +++ Last season we reported that Beatrix Potter had a new book out.

J. B. Priestley is having his psychological horror, Benighted, adapted for the stage. It will have its world premiere at the Old Red Lion Theatre, London, in December (2016). The novel was adapted into a film version called The Old Dark House starring Boris Karloff in 1932. J. B. Priestley died in 1984.

Daniel Radcliffe says that will not rule out returning to the role of Harry Potter in the future. "The circumstances would have to be pretty extraordinary. But then I am sure Harrison Ford said that with Han Solo [in Star Wars], and look what happened there." The comment follows a theatrical two-part continuation to J. K. Rowling's Potter saga, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child that opened in London's West End.

Alastair Reynolds has become a judge for this year's Royal Society Science Books Prize.  He also has a new novel out Revenger from Gollancz (click on the title link for a standalone review). It is a space opera set in a system crowded with ancient habitats of various design dating back millions of years. The novel has a slight steampunk riff to it without descending into outright steampunk fantasy.

J. K. Rowling, under her crime pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, has seen her [his] third crime novel, Career of Evil, go to the top of the British weekly book chart. Her other crime novels only made it to the number one slot long after they were published once Rowling was outed as Galbraith.  Meanwhile Rowling's own Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has held onto the top position of Britain's audio-book chart for five months.

Robert J. Sawyer, has been awarded the Order of Canada, one of Canada’s highest civilian honours, "for his accomplishments as a science-fiction writer and mentor and for his contributions as a futurist."

Wiliam Shatner brought the tone down at the Montreal Comic-Con Star Trek 50th anniversary panel when he appeared alongside Brent Spiner and Kate Mulgrew. When Shatner joked to Kate that he had never seen her series, a fan supporting Kate shouted, 'A woman’s place is on the bridge.' Shatner responded to this with, ' A woman’s place is in the fridge.' This phrase he reportedly repeated later in the panel twice more…

George Takei feels the decision to make Sulu gay in the forthcoming Star Trek Beyond is 'really unfortunate' as this was not part of Star Trek's creator, Gene Rodenberry's, original vision.  George played Sulu in the original Star Trek series and films, and he himself is gay in real life. The decision for the re-boot film series to make Sulu (now played by John Cho) gay was made in part by Simon Pegg (the new Scotty and the film's co-writer) who said: "We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?"  Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in the new films and who, like George, is also gay said: "As a member of the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual & trans] community myself, I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed. I get it that he’s has had his own personal journey and has his own personal relationship with this character but, you know, as we established in the first Star Trek film in 2009, we’ve created an alternate universe."  +++ Also, see below Anton Yelchin – the new Sulu – sadly dies.

Chuck Tingle has cybersquatted the Rabid Puppies by registering the domain name www.therabidpuppies.com. For those who do not know about the Sad and Rabid Puppies then here is the back story from last year. Moving on, this year the pups have salted their Hugo slate with works of broader appeal with one group openly calling for suggestions.  To be cynical (wot, little us?) one might think that this move was to overcome last year's 'no award' combating of pup nominations (see note below our report of last year's Hugo results). In this way this year if a category got a 'no award' the pups could claim victory in that they prevented that category of Hugo from working. On the other hand if one of their slated works of broader and possible genuine appeal to the Worldcon SF community won then the pups could also claim victory.  Win-win.  Now, the pups are a N. American phenomenon and have been characterised as being the N. American SF equivalent to the Tea Party and so not typified by being tolerant of anything other than a heteröseχual persuasion.  So some Worldcon fan wags thought it spiffing to organise a campaign to nominate to a pup slate a decidedly gay hοmο-erοtic novel by the pseudonymous, and delightfully cheeky (in more than one sense of the word) 'Chuck Tingle', and the pups bought it hook line and sinker.  What larks.  Anyway Tingle, who up till now had not been involved in the Worldcon community quickly got up to speed as to what was going on and now, as a jape, has registered a puppy domain name saying: "sometimes devilmen are so busy planning scoundrel attacks they forget to REGISTER important website names. this is a SOFT WAY of the antibuckaroo agenda but is also good because it makes it easy for BUDS WHO KNOW LOVE IS REAL to prove love (all)." (sic.)  OK, so Chuck Tingle's Hugo nominated short story may not have deserved to win a Hugo on SF terms, but a fandom big heart (or big something) award? Yes, that'd be something.

Ben Willis is moving from being Head of Digital Publishing at Transworld (whose SF-related imprints include Bantam and Corgi) is moving to Orion (whose SF imprint is Gollancz).

Zoran Zivkovic is having his novels published in English by Cadmus Press. Serbian Zivkovic won a Eurocon Award for Best Translator in 1978.

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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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

FILM NEWS

The summer's SF/F box office hits are included in the below report, together with their place in the all-film box-office charts, in order of release…:-           The end of April saw Disney's new version of The Jungle Book storm into number one of the N. American box office chart taking US$103.6m (£73.1m) -- trailer here. Meanwhile Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice fell to the number four slot. The Jungle Book continued its hold on the top of the N. American chart and holding off the newly released The Huntsman: Winter's War to number two in the N. American charts (trailer here). These two films continued to hold their respective places in the charts to nearly the end of the month.
          May saw the release of Captain America: Civil War take the number one position in the N. American charts (trailer here), so finally knocking The Jungle Book into second place and The Huntsman: Winter's War to number four.  After two weeks Captain America: Civil War itself was knocked off the number one slot after two weeks.  May's last two weeks saw X-Men: Apocalypse top the British Isles charts where it held on to the number one position for two weeks. The 9th X-Men film also topped the N. American charts (trailer here).  At the month's end, on both sides of the Pond X-Men: Apocalypse kept the debuting Alice Through the Looking Glass from the number one slot (trailer here). The first film, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, took US$116m (£72) in its opening weekend in N. America in 2010 and £10.5m (US$15.5m) in the British Isles. Conversely, James Bobin's Alice Through the Looking Glass took US$28.1m (£19.2m) and £2.23m (US$3.25m) respectively on both sides of the Pond its debuting week.  Captain America: Civil War ended the month still in the top five in the British Isles and N. America.
          As the summer warmed, the beginning of June saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows top the N. American box office charts taking US$35.3m (£24.2m). This was not as successful as its 2014 predecessor, which took US$65.6m (£46m) (Trailer here.) Meanwhile X-Men: Apocalypse slipped to number two which knocked Alice Through the Looking Glass to number four.  The paranormal investigation, certificate 15, horror, The Conjuring 2, topped the N. American chart mid-June (trailer here.)  Number 2 in the N. American chart was the fantasy battle film Warcraft: The Beginning (trailer here.) However, as it reportedly cost US$160m (£112.8m) to make it was hoped to do better in America. Nonetheless, the N. American (Canada & US) and Chinese production did do well in China for one week taking $156m (£110m) in its first five days, beating 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron to set a new Chinese record for the biggest debut for a foreign release. The Warcraft game is very popular in China.  June's third week saw the children's fantasy Finding Dory (the sequel to Finding Nemo). The Conjuring 2 fell to number three in the N. American charts and Warcraft: The Beginning to number five.  Meanwhile, this side of the Pond, The Conjuring 2 topped the British Isles (UK and Irish Republic) chart.  The month ended with Finding Dory holding on to the top slot of the weekly N. American box office. However the number two position saw the sequel film Independence Day: Resurgence its debut week. The sequel to Independence Day is effects-rich and very gung-ho. However it takes itself far too seriously and has too big a cast of characters who really do not add to the plot. As with the first film it is a good way to waste a couple of hours in mindless fun but, while it has its moments, it does not significantly add to the original. (See the trailer here.)  Over in the British Isles Independence Day: Resurgence also failed to take the number one position, only making the second slot in the weekly charts having failed to beat another family animation The Secret Life of Pets (trailer here). The number two position in the charts for Independence Day: Resurgence's debut means that it will make a profit but – given its high production cost – not the huge profit that the studio will have hoped.  Again, as in N. America, The Conjuring 2 fell to number three in the charts.  The following week, straddling July, The Secret Life of Pets held on to the top chart position in the British Isles with Independence Day: Resurgence slipping to number 4 and The Conjuring 2 to number 5.  Over in N. America children's fantasy Finding Dory continued to top the charts with The Legend of Tarzan, based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs' early 20th century novels, debuted coming second (trailer here) and Independence Day: Resurgence's falling to number 5.
          July proper began over in the British Isles where its box office chart echoed that in N. America the previous week with The Legend of Tarzan being kept off the number one slot only this time by The Secret Life of Pets.  The new Ghostbusters debuted in N. America getting a much better audience reaction than the pre-release online comments suggested: its trailer on YouTube garnered 951,000 'dislikes' which is the most of any trailer to date. (Trailer here). Having said that, those familiar with the 1984 original still prefer that film. Yet, the new Ghostbusters failed to unseat The Secret Life of Pets from its N. American no.1 box office position with Ghostbusters coming in at number 2 so pushing The Legend of Tarzan down to no.3 and Finding Dory (the follow-up to Finding Nemo) to number 4. At this time Finding Dory had taken US$445.5m (£336.2m) since its US release so making it the highest-grossing animated film of all time in the US (overtaking Shrek 2 (2004)).  Over here in the British Isles (Great Britain and Ireland) Ghostbusters' debut fared better coming top of the box office chart easily beating the family animation Ice Age: Collision Course that also debuted (trailer here) and pushing The Secret Life of Pets and The Legend of Tarzan into third and fourth position on the chart respectively.  July's penultimate weekend in N. America saw the debut of Star Trek Beyond easily come number one in the charts with double the box office take of the number two slot occupied by The Secret Life of PetsStar Trek Beyond is the third in the Star Trek re-boot sees the crew face a destructive new foe from deep space (trailer here). Ghostbusters fell to number three. Meanwhile, here's a quick nod to another N. American chart hitter, the supernatural horror Lights Out (trailer here).  Back here in the British Isles Star Trek Beyond opening did not fare quite so well as it did in Canada and the US. It narrowly missed the number one Brit slot coming in second. Instead the top of the British Isles chart went to the family fantasy adaptation of the Roald Dahl tale with BFG [Big Friendly Giant] (see the trailer here).  Ghostbusters and The Secret Life of Pets fell to four and five in the Brit charts respectively.  July ended in N. America with the debut of the thriller Jason Bourne knocking Star Trek Beyond down to number two which took less than half of Bourne. Though not strictly SF, the Bourne series (of which this is the fifth) has a technothriller riff and a distinct cyber element to it (see the trailer here).  In the British isles the month ended with the debut of the afore-mentioned Finding Dory topping the charts: this came out a few weeks later in the UK to coincide with the start of our school holidays. This meant that the British Isles debut of Jason Bourne entered at number two, BFG therefore dropped to number three, which in turn pushed Star Trek Beyond down to number four. However Finding Dory only just beat Jason Bourne in terms of box office take, and the latter took twice as much that week than BFG.
          In N. America the first complete week in August saw the release of Suicide Squad. Now, it has to be said that Suicide Squad got some truly awful reviews from the mundane (non-SF) critics in the newspapers that contrasted with the more promising reports from various key SF/F/H and comics bloggers. So what happened when it official launched? Well, the film's IMDB estimate budget of US$175,000,000 (£133m) was largely made back the first week of its N. American release with a Canadian and US box office take of US$135m (£103m) and more than covered by additional first week receipts of US$132m (£101m) from those other nations that launched it at the same time! Suicide Squad topped the N. American box office chart. Warner Brothers were delighted. Suicide Squad concerns villains from the DC comics universe (The Joker, Harlequin, Panda Man, Deadshot etc) brought together by the US government to combat some great problem. And yes, if you are into DC it is rather fun. (Trailer here).  Suicide Squad's debut at number one knocked Jason Bourne down to number two and Star Trek Beyond down one to number five.  Suicide Squad's second week continued to defy critics – who in response to its first week's box office success predicted a sharp fall in box officer take as happened with Batman vs. Superman shortly after its release. OK, so Suicide Squad is not brilliant, but equally it is not that bad: it does have a certain brio and does not take itself overly seriously as did Batman vs. Superman. Which brings us to the week's N. American box office chart that saw Suicide Squad continue to hang on in at the number one slot by then having made an estimated US$465m (£360m) worldwide. Jason Bourne slipped down to number five and the children's fantasy Pete's Dragon entered at number three.  Meanwhile over in the British Isles Suicide Squad topped the chart on its debut pushing Jason Bourne to number 3 and Star Trek Beyond to number 5.  And the following week in N. America Suicide Squad continued, for a fourth week, to dominate the charts at number one!  Over in the British Isles Suicide Squad slipped to number 2 being narrowly beaten by Finding Dory which just managed to return to the no.1 position (most likely due to the school holiday effect) but hung on for two weeks. +++ Last season's box office SF/F/H chart news here.

French court affirms John Carpenter's plagiarism win against Luc Besson. French director Luc Besson's space prison film Lockout (2012) was deemed too similar to John Carpenter's city prison film Escape from New York (1981). The French court declared that the protagonist in both films flew into the prison by flying in a glider/space shuttle, had to confront inmates led by someone with a strange right arm, found hugely important briefcases and meet a former comrade who then dies. The case was decided last year but Besson appealed. Carpenter sought US$2.4 million (£1.9m) in damages but he, his co-writer Nick Castle and Studio Canal were awarded US$500,000 (£385,000).  Luc Besson is noted for The Fifth Element (1997) and Lucy (2014).  John Carpenter is noted for Dark Star (1974), The Thing (1982), They Live (1988) and Village of the Damned (1995).

Ghostbusters star receives misogynist cyber abuse. The re-boot film's trailer already has had 951,000 'dislikes' on YouTube (see above) and though while it may not be quite as good as the 1984 original, it is still an entertaining offering. Yet the all-female lead cast seem to have upset some. In addition to the aforementioned record number of YouTube dislikes (the majority of which were posted before the film debuted), one of the lead cast members, Leslie Jones, has shared some of the Tweets she has received. They are too abusive and misogynist for us to quote you. Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey is apparently is not that concerned. "Stop letting the ignorant people be the loud ones," Leslie Jones wrote. "We have to make people take responsibility for the hate they spew. We have to stand up to it." Soon after #LoveForLeslieJ began trending, so clearly there are decent folk among the Twitterati.  But Twitter did act against one of those who had reportedly been prominent in sending offensive Tweets about Leslie Jones including with references to AIDS and gorillas. Twitter suspended the account of a Milo Yiannopoulos, a US right-wing activist who had some 338,000 followers.  Milo Yiannopoulos, known as @nero apparently said: "With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives."
          Leslie Jones was subject to further cyber bullying at the end of August when her Tumblr page was hacked. Copies of her passport and driving licence were published as well as personal photos from her iCloud account. An image of the dead Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe was posted as a racist insult. Friends and colleague actors were publicly supportive. +++ Though Ghostbuster debuted well both sides of the Atlantic coming number 2 in N. America and top of the box office in the British Isles (see the summer box office chart toppers above) overall the box office take has not been that good. Apparently in the month of its release it only took US$180m (£140m) which means that, unless DVD sales and the release of the film in other countries in August are really great, Hollywood may by unlikely to make a sequel.

Blade Runner II filming commences and a 2017 release is expected. We reported that this sequel was coming out last year. We can now confirm that Ryan Gosling and Jared Leto will star together with, as previously reported, Harrison Ford from the 1982 original who will make an appearance. It will be directed by Denis Villeneuve with production by Alcon Entertainment. The new Blade Runner is an 'extension' of the first film but set a few decades later. The original was based on Philip K Dick's novel

The novel Seveneves may well become a film. Author Neal Stephenson’s novel Seveneves is being proposed to be turned into a film. Ron Howard is reportedly to direct and the screenwriter of Apollo 13, Bill Broyles, is also onboard.  Back at the beginning of the year (2016) we cited Seveneves as one the SF² Concatenation team's suggestions for the best SF/F books of 2015.  Since then it has been nominated for a Hugo and shortlisted for a Locus Award.

The new alien film will ignore Alien³ -- Alien: Resurrection and subsequent Alien films.  Sigourney Weaver and director Neill (District Nine & Elysium) Blomkamp have the rights and have 20th Century Fox's provisional backing but not yet a green light.  Sigourney Weaver has confirmed that the proposed new film will ignore events after the first two films which previously Neill Blomkamp said were his two favourite Alien films.  The new film is also rumoured to feature Michael Biehn as Corporal Dwanye Hicks (who died in the opening sequences of Alien: Resurrection). Plus there is some loose talk of a 27-year-old Newt being in the mix as a possible heir apparent to Weaver’s Ripley.  Consequently, if this project goes ahead, it will see a competing timeline to that of the original Alien director's Alien / Prometheus sequence of films.  This last sees Ridley Scott possibly return with Alien: Covenant in 2017 which reportedly apparently sees the crew of the colony ship Covenant discover what they think is an uncharted paradise, but it is actually a dangerous world whose sole inhabitant is the synthetic David, survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. If all these go ahead then this will be SF cinematic history with a film franchise having two separate versions with films for each being made simultaneously.

Darth Vader is to return in Star Wars: Rogue One! The first standalone Star Wars story, Rogue One, is set just before the original film in the series and concerns rebels who set out on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. Rebel Jyn Erso is accused of a string of convictions for forgery, assault and theft. After being captured, she's sent on a mission to help investigate "a major weapons test", which turns out to be the Death Star in development, and has to find out how to destroy it. Nonetheless It still hasn't been revealed which actor will play Vader in Rogue One, which is out in cinemas in December. In the original movies the character was voiced in the original trilogy by James Earl Jones, who's now 85, while the now 80-year-old Cornish actor David Prowse provided the physical presence.  +++ Star Wars: The Force Awakens has so far made more than £1.3 billion (US$2bn) worldwide following its highly successful launch making it in real terms the 7th most successful film is debut weekend.  +++ And in case you missed it (which we accept for many is doubtful) here is the second trailer.

Starman re-boot: more details emerge. Sony Pictures is behind the re-boot with Shawn Levy directing and co-producing with Michael Douglas who produced the original. Apparently it will follow the plot of the original reasonably closely but have more of an emphasis on science, technology and our better astronomical understanding than when John Carpenter made the original.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is to feature Marvel comic character Mantis. Mantis first appeared in The Avengers #112 (June 1973) and went on in the comics to have an adventure with The Guardians of the Galaxy. She is a martial arts expert with telepathic and healing powers. •Mantis appeared in the Guardians of the Galaxy animated television series' episode 'Don't Stop Believin', voiced by Jennifer Hale.  Pom Klementieff is cast as Mantis for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

The world of Narnia is to return to the big screen with The Silver Chair. C. S. Lewis' 1953 novel will be the fourth Narnia juvenile fantasy novel to be adapted to the big screen; the previous being The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Prince Caspian (2008) and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), that together made some £1.2 billion (US$1.58bn).

Pinewood Studios gets boost from SFnal films. Pinewood Studios operating profits more than doubled to £13.6m in the year to 31 March (2016), with revenues up 10.9% to £83.2m. Successful films such as the sci-fi Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the technothriller Spectre (James Bond) played a significant part in this profit boost. Pinewood has also said that its future looked promising following the European Union British exit (Brexit) as most of its non-UK customers were outside the EU.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!: The multi-film-fest-award-winning short SF film Mecs Meufs [Guys Girls] finally makes it to YouTube. This 13-minute film is a real gem. Entertaining, humorous, gritty, dark, disturbing and joyful, Mecs Meufs is an exemplar of the best of SF short film. It first came out in 2013 and did the round of the film and Fantastic Film fest circuits being shown at 108 fests and picking up 30 awards including the Delta Award at the 2013 Festival of Fantastic Films (Manchester)!  The premise is a simple one. We live in a male dominated world but what if you were transported to one where the ladies led?  You can see it here.

Film clip download tip!: In Sight is a new SF short film. Imagine a future where people's memories could be downloaded.  One woman reviews her recently deceased father's memories only to discover something about herself.  You can see it here.

Film clip download tip!: The animation Judge Dredd: Superfiend is now available in complete form. A potted history of Judge Death and his visit to Mega City One is captured in this cartoon-style animation. We had spotted this when the individual episodes were posted on YouTube back in 2014 but then it vanished (we thought due to possible copyright infringement). Now, one of us stumbled upon the complete film and so we share it with you. Fans of 2000AD and Judge Dredd, enjoy...  You can see it here.

Film clip download tip!: Embers is a new wave Polish/US science fiction film that has not yet had a general release. However the past 18 months it has been doing reasonably well on the international fantastic film fest circuit and you may want to see if the DVD is out where you are.  After a global neurological epidemic, those who remain search for meaning and connection in a world without memory.   See the trailer' here.

Film clip download tip!: Viral was one of the summer's films you may have missed due to its limited release in the US and its non-release in Blighty. It is a mix of SF-horror and apocalyptic doomsday with highly transmissible parasites causing aggressive behavioural change.  Plot: Emma and her sister Stacey are normal teenagers in a small town, when a mysterious infection begins to spread. With the town quarantined, and their parents stuck on the other side of the barrier, the girls have a blast eating junk food and sneaking out to go to parties.  See the trailer' here.

Film clip download tip!: With Independence Day: Resurgence out over the summer, a chance to re-visit the original Independence Day with the 'Honest Trailer'.  See the 'Honest Trailer' here.

Film clip download tip!: The re-boot Westworld television series is due for release next month (October 2016). This is a spin-off from the excellent 1973 film directed by the SF novelist Michael Crichton. Sadly, no Yul Brynner but the trailer looks reasonable, though whether they can successfully spin out a feature film into a season of TV episodes remains to be seen, especially given the fate of the 1980 Beyond Westworld mini-series.  See the trailer' here.

Film clip download tip!: Syfy has a new first contact series coming out -- Arrival. A civilian linguist is recruited for her translation skills in an attempt to communicate with the aliens. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, the translator and the team race against time for answers, and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity. The film is due out in November (2016).  See the trailer' here.  +++ See also Arrival poster causes outrage – story below.

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

For a reminder of the top films in 2015/16 (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.

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For a forward look as to film releases of 2016 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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

Gollancz Fest will run from September 17th-18th. That means it will commence just a couple of days after we post this seasonal news page – so if you are the SE of England and interested then Yahoo/Google/Bing/Ask 'Gollancz Fest' now. Events include author and editor panels and the deal is you just pay for a ticket to just those you want to attend. Events take place in London Foyles bookshop. Authors participating include: James Barclay, Tom Toner, Catriona Ward, Stephen Baxter, Pat Cadigan, Den Patrick, Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Paul McAuley, Justina Robson, Joe Abercrombie, Antonia Honeywell, Gavin Smith, Ezekiel Boone, Al Robertson, Jon Wallace, Alex Lamb, Suzanne McLeod, Christopher Priest, Stephen Deas, Tom Lloyd, Simon Morden, Ben Aaronovitch, Ed Cox, Joanne Harris and Scott Lynch.

Britain's exit (Brexit) from the European Union (EU) will have an unknown overall impact on UK publishing. The month of April (prior to the referendum on Britain's membership of the EU saw high street footfall down 4.7% on the previous April, but this is not that significant given monthly vagaries. Neilson BookScan data of the consumer (ignoring specialist, academic etc publishing) book market the first five months of 2016 was up over 10% compared to the first five months of 2015. However, now that Britain will be leaving the EU it means that the UK will not necessarily benefit from the forthcoming EU reforms on copyright, e-commerce, VAT on books, and the EU investigation into Amazon.  Then there is the question of the pound. If it remains low (it fell by 15% against the US dollar following the referendum result) then imported paper prices will go up. Conversely, Brit authors' income from overseas sales will increase and foreign publishers buying rights of UK authors will also be more attractive.  It is a mixed bag.

The late Michael Crichton's novel Dragon Teeth is set to be published by Harper Collins. Michael Crichton died in 2008 but left behind some manuscripts: Dragon Teeth being the third. It was discovered by Crichton’s widow Sherri. The story concerns the real-life conflict between two palaeontologists and their fossil finds in what was known as the 'Bone Wars'. The novel is set to come out in May 2017.  +++ See also below, Westworld TV series.

SF Gateway celebrates its first five years. SF Gateway is Orion's SF e-book publishing imprint and a cousin to, and complementing, Orion's Gollancz SF/F/H imprint. So far SF Gateway has published over 3,300 titles and by the end of this summer it had sold its millionth e-book. As this seasonal news page is posted, SF Gateway held a celebratory party at a central London bookshop. This summer it also launched a new initiative – the 'Gateway Essentials'. The Gateway Essentials consist of around 500 titles which are recommended as the first titles to try from a wide variety of the authors. Currently SF Gateway is working to update its website's author pages to highlight the Essentials and the Gollancz SF Masterworks to enable SF book aficionados discover the best of the classic SF authors of the 20th century. They aim to complete this task by the end of the year (2016).  Happy birthday Gateway. Here's to the next half decade. www.sfgateway.com.

Gollancz is to reprint all H. G. Wells' classic SF novels as mass market paperbacks. The titles will all be published in January (2017) as part of Gollancz's SF Masterworks. The titles to be released are: The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The Island of Dr Moreau, The Food of the Gods and The First Men in the Moon. See also the titles in our Forthcoming SF books list below.  This year (2016) sees the 150th anniversary of H. G. Wells' birth, so this release misses the anniversary year by just a month. Nonetheless, it does give those who are missing any of these classics from their collection a chance to re-visit these truly classic novels.

Gollancz has acquired the world rights to a new, debut author's book. Sam Peter's From Darkest Skies is an SF crime story with cyberpunk and noir elements.  From Darkest Skies is currently slated for an April 2017 release.

Tor (US) has changed its publishing staff running order. Longstanding executive editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden has become an Associate Publisher. He will be assisted by Devi Pillai (formerly at Orbit (US)) who also becomes an Associate Publisher. Tor (US) is part of the Macmillan group (which of course operates in Britain too and has a separate Tor (UK) SF imprint).

The specialist SF Mystery and Imagination & Bookfellows Bookstore in Glendale, California, has closed. The store has in the past had the support of SF personalities such as Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen and Forrest J. Ackerman. Owners Christine and Malcolm Bell will though continue trading online.

Ladybird book spoofs pass two million copies sold! This is all the more remarkable as the books were launched last October. OK, so they are not strictly SF apart from one of the half dozen titles so far published -- The Ladybird Book of The Zombie Apocalypse. However for Brits of a certain age the Ladybird books are remembered with a certain fondness. Written for young children 6 to 10 years, they sported full page, full colour water-paints on every right hand page to illustrate the text opposite. They were captivating. Penguin has tapped into nostalgia but with a dash of humour. The spoof titles include The Ladybird Book of The People Next Door and The Ladybird Book of The Sickie. They'd make great Christmas gifts for those aged 50 – 70 and perhaps even younger readers?

The 2015 Great Britain and N. Ireland publishing industry data has been released.  Key points:-
          Total sales value up in 2015 over 2014 by 1% in real terms (more in cash terms). This includes both physical books, e-books, and academic journal publishing that had a value of around £4.4 billion.  This compares with 2014 total sales being flat compared with 2013 and 2013 being down 2% on 2012.
          Physical book sales grew by value up 7% and 3.3% by volume in 2015 while e-book sales were down by 11% over 2014. (This compares with 2014 seeing e-book sales up 8.2% over 2013.) The growth in physical book sales continued in the first half of 2016.
          E-books saw a 17% share of the total (e-book plus physical book) market by value.
          Regarding books alone (excluding academic journals) the total book market values was £3.3.bn of which e-books accounted for £0.5bn and physical £3.3 bn.
          UK home book only market was up 3% to £1.9bn.
          UK exports to overseas fell 3% to £1.4%. Here the largest falls were exports to N. America (down nearly 18%), Australasia (down 12.6%) and Europe (down 5%). However there was some growth elsewhere.
          Overall in cash terms the UK total book market (excluding academic journals) for a second year has a cash value over its 2009 value (when the 2007 global financial crisis reached publishing) but real-term value has yet to embed let alone recover since the financial crisis. (Note: All these figures draw upon data from BookScan and major publishers, and so exclude some small presses and independent publishers as well as learned academic societies who manage their own journal sales.)

Sales of print (paper) books are again up the first half of 2016 shows. Building on 2015 book sales data, the first six months of 2016 has seen the cash value of UK print sales up 9.3% over the first six months of 2015, to £644.9 million. This is the biggest half year, year-on-year, rise in 14 years.  Print sales rose by 3.9% in 2015 and this was the first rise in print sales for seven years.

The 2016 (British) Book Industry Awards (The 'Nibbies') have been announced. The presentation was made at a gala diner in Grosvenor House, London with BBC Radio 4 book programme presenter, Mariella Frostrup hosting. There were as usual many categories. Of genre relevance this year, winners included:-           Best Publisher:Transworld.  These are the publishers behind the imprints Bantam, Corgi and Doubleday whose authors include Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (The Long Earth series), Steven Erikson, Jon Steele, Jasper Kent, Ian C. Esslemont, Stella Gemmell and Laurell K. Hamilton among others.
          Book of the Year: The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley. A debut and gothic novel set in 'The Loney' part of the NW English coastline with the discovery of the body of a child where it seems something disturbing happened out on the mudflats and where quietly mystical or supernatural happenstances serve as an aside to the narrator's memory of the past.
          Last year's Nibbies here.

Waterstones, the British book chain, is now to market e-books along with the Canadian online seller Kobo. Waterstones is not new to e-book innovation and was the first high street book chain to market e-readers back in 2008 with the Sony e-reader.

Publishers and bookshops could own the HMRC millions of pounds. HMRC (the British equivalent to the IRS in the US) has not classified adult colouring books as books let alone educational books, and so should be subject to 20% VAT (Value Added Tax). In Britain books and children's colouring books are zero rated for VAT. But in 2015 there was a craze for adult colouring books and this category falls between the VAT cracks. The Publishers Association is working with the HMRC to (hopefully) resolve matters.

Amazon (UK) paid less tax for 2015 compared to a year earlier. Amazon paid 1.6% less tax in the UK in 2015 (£9.8 million) compared to £11.9 the year before. This, according to The Bookseller, despite its sales rising by 8.3% to £6.9 billion (US$9 billion) and its profit up 72% to £38.7 million up 2% from £22.5 million. This development is all the more remarkable given previous concerns as to Amazon's tax arrangements back in 2013. Amazon reportedly has said that it pays all the tax required of it.  +++ See also despite its founder Jeff Bezos becoming the third richest person in the world (see above people section).

Science research papers by EU researchers should all be open access by 2020. The EU Competiveness Council has agreed that all publicly funded science research in the EU must be open access, the thinking being that tax payers have already paid for the research and so should have free access to it.

The Royal Society popular science book prize has a new sponsor and an SF author on the judging panel.  The new sponsorship deal is with Insight Investment and will last for three years. Insight Investment therefore take over support of this prize from Winton who in turn took over from Aventis and before that Rhône-Poulenc. The prize was established in 1988 by the Royal Society's Committee On the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS).  It is decided on by a panel of judges which this year include astrophysicist and SF author Alastair Reynolds.

Amazon UK and US Kindle have been doing the rounds of the major publishers with a view to their signing their authors up to Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited was launched in Britain back in September 2014. Customers pay a monthly subscription of £7.99 a month for access to (currently) some 650,000 titles.

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More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in January 2017. Meanwhile check out the forthcoming SF and forthcoming fantasy book lists sections (see the mini-index immediately below…).

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[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

TV NEWS

Red Dwarf is back! (In case you did not know.) The Brit cult comedy SF series is back for another short run to begin a week after this seasonal new page is posted. The first episode of series 11 will air on Thursday 22nd Smegtember (2016) on Dave (FreeView). OK, a bit older, bit podgier (too many vindaloo's Lister) but its great to see the smegheads back.

The new Star Trek TV series is currently slated for a January 2017 premiere and will be available in 190 countries. The January launch seems tight given that shooting for the series is scheduled to commence this month (September 2016) in Toronto.  Each episode of the new series will be available globally within 24 hours of its US premiere. The global franchise will return to television for the first time since 2005 with a new ship, new characters and new missions, while – they say – still 'embracing the same ideology and hope for the future that inspired a generation'.  In 188 countries including Europe, it will be available on Netflix.  In the US the show will exclusively be available on CBS All Access, the Network’s digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service (and not on Netflix). In Canada it will be on CraveTV.  That the show will only be available on specific subscription channels means that the majority of households in these countries (i.e. most of the world) will not be able to access the series. It may therefore be two years or more before the show migrates to FreeView channels and other free-to-air channel platforms. Ho hum. But fear not, the US demand-only platform means that some slightly more graphic content will be allowed.

The new Star Trek Discovery series will have a non-captain, female lead, and will be set in the Trek timeline just before the original classic Trek series. There will be about seven lead roles but the chief protagonist a female lieutenant commander instead of the captain. The show will be set 10 years before the original series featuring Captain Kirk and will bridge the gap between series Enterprise (broadcast in 2005) and the Kirk years. The first season will consist of 13 episodes rather than the traditional 20-24 episodes common in the US, so as to keep storytelling tight.

Another BBC Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series is being made based on the Douglas Adams' 1987 novel. This is a double dip for the BBC which only recently (in 2011 and 2012) made a pilot and three-part series starring Stephen Mangan (Green Wing & Episodes) and Darren Boyd. The pilot attracted 1.1 million viewers on BBC4. The show was not given a second series. On 28th May 2012, Stephen Mangan Tweeted: "It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to report that the BBC have decided not to make any more Dirk Gently."  Yet apparently they have but without Stephen Mangan and Darren Boyd, and the new, eight-part series – that will premiere on 23rd October 2016 – stars Samuel Barnett and Elijah Wood. It seems to have a bigger budget than the 2012 series.  Dirk Gently operates his Holistic Detective Agency based on the "fundamental interconnectedness of all things", which relies on random chance methods to uncover connections between seemingly-unrelated cases. He claims that he follows the principles of quantum mechanics, although the majority of his clients suspect he may be a conman he often produces surprising results.  Trailer here.

Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reeves is being adapted for television. The Neil Gaiman and Michael Reeves’ series is based on Gaiman's juvenile fantasy novel that concerns the adventures of a teenage Joey Harker, who, together with a group of other Joeys from different Earths, try and stop the two forces from taking over all the Earths in different universes. Everyone in the Interworld is a version of Joey, some only a little different, while others are different genders, different ages and even different species. What makes them all special is that they have the ability to 'walk', or travel from dimension to dimension. This also makes them a target for the Hex and the Binary factions, who yearn to conquer more dimensions by using these 'walkers' as fuel…  The series is being made by Universal Cable Productions.  +++ See also news of Neil Gaiman in the People News subsection above.  +++ We previously reported that American Gods is being adapted into a television series.

Captain Britain is to come to television. Captain Britain was created by Marvel in 1976, though in the 1980s was given a grittier edge by Alan (Watchmen / V for Vendetta) Moore. The original creation was, it is thought, to provide a British equivalent to Captain America, and the success of the recent Captain America movies may be behind this new move to television.  If you are not familiar with the character, this is his back-story… Following an armed raid at the Darkmoor nuclear research facility, scientist Brian Braddock had a motorcycle accident. He was found and revived by the mystic Merlyn and given superhuman powers to become Captain Britain.

An X-Men spin-off mini-series is being made. Called Legion, and in 8 parts, it stars the Brit actor Dan Stevens (known for Downton Abbey). Stevens plays David Haller, the son of Charles Xavier, who struggles with mental illness having multiple split personalities each with immense super-powers.

Game of Thrones series seven has been delayed due to need to shoot in winter. Plus the last two series to come will be shorter. Seasons of the show are normally released on HBO in March or April and so are normally shot in the middle of the year with editing taking place in the autumn. However at the end of series of six the Stark prophecy that 'winter is coming' was imminent. This means that the shooting of season seven will need to be in winter to reflect that and so seaven seven will begin to be broadcast in the middle of the summer 2017.  Furthermore, there will only be two more. Already the TV series is ahead of the George R. R. Martin books and last year we reported that George admitted that he was struggling writing to keep up with the series and it looks like HBO are wrapping up the show. The last two series will also be shorter being only six or seven episodes long (not ten as usual).  +++ The final episode of season six was seen by 8.9 million US viewers, so beating the series five finale, which had 8.1 million viewers.  Series seven is expected to be broadcast in the summer of 2017.  +++ SF/F remains the most popularly illegally downloaded viewing. Previously we reported that the Game of Thrones was the most pirated TV show in 2015. The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory were the next most pirated in 2015, with 6.6 million and 4.4 million downloads respectively.

The Game of Thrones television series is to end at the conclusion of series 8. The final series is expected in 2018. HBO – the production company behind the series – Head of Programming, Casey Bloys, has teased that he is open to considering a spin-off series.

Game of Thrones challenges pοrn site over copyright. HBO, the makers of Game of Thrones are legally challenging Pοrnhub over its use of some scenes from the show that have appeared on their site. Other videos on the site include parodies using pοrn stars pretending to be characters such as Cersei Lannister and Lord Varys.

George R. R. Martin's Wild Cards is to be a television series. The overarching story concerns an alien virus that imbues a small proportion of the human population with special powers. Each story relates to those individuals so infected. George R. R. Martin created the overall concept and then invited story contributions from well known authors to his shared universe. Originally these guest authors were members of a gaming group he belonged to and the first of the anthologies came out in 1987 but some well known authors were also in the mix including Pat Cadigan and Roger Zelazny. The series has continued to the present with more authors including well-known writers such as Paul Cornell and Ian Tregillis. Recently in Britain Gollancz has published the anthologies.  The TV rights have been bought by Universal Cable Productions. George will not be involved in the production as he has an exclusive contract with HBO, but Wild Cards writer and player of the original games, Melinda Snodgrass, will be working on the series.

Lost Troughton Dr Who adventure to reappear as animation with original sound track. The Doctor Who adventure 'The Power of the Daleks' was wiped by the BBC in the 1970s. However a sound recording has been found and there are stills and clips from the adventure. These last are being used to provide a visual animation to go alongside the soundtrack. The story concerns the future Earth colony of Vulcan. The Doctor, along with Polly and Ben, arrives to find that also there are apparently servile Daleks, but they have a secret manufacturing plant…  This episode was Patrick Troughton's first.  The new animated re-working will appear on the BBC Store at 17:50 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) 5th November 2016, exactly 50 years to the minute the original was first broadcast. A few weeks later the BBC will release a DVD.

Dr Who stars Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman had an extensive interview at Awesome Con in Washington DC (US). Peter expressed great appreciation for the BBC as a unique organisation and the best broadcaster in the world, funded as it is by British citizens through their licence fee. However he feared that it needs to be cherished more (a view which arguably/possibly reflects the political threats it has been facing in recent years).    When asked what mementoes would they like from the show, Jenna said that she would have a TARDIS key. Peter said that he had no hankering to take anything, but then Jenna reminded him of the guitar and he quickly changed his mind to that.    One audience member asked them which Doctor would they have liked to work. Peter said William Hartnell (the first Doctor which Peter's incarnation is not too distant). Jenna reminded Peter that she had technically been in a scene with William Hartnell…    As for pranks on the set, Peter said (tongue-in-cheek) that they were too serious for many pranks but did say that once Jenna had announced that she was leaving the show he began to occasionally suggest alternate actresses who might replace her as his next companion. 'Bring back Billie Piper' came the cry.    Finally, Peter revealed that Matt Smith, after their hand-over scene ended, gave Peter a big hug.

Lost in Space re-boot gets 10 episodes confirmed. Netflix has now confirmed that it has ordered 10 episodes.  We first reported that the series may be returning 18 months ago. They also indicate that they are keeping both the comedy and drama of the original series that was first broadcast (1965) over 50 years ago. The 1998 film was simply an action adventure with only a superficial nod to the series and it bombed at the box office. Hopefully Hollywood will have for once learnt its lesson.

Z-Nation's next season commences with a TV film. The third 15-episode season of the SyFy series will be out this autumn. The word is that the TV film will have a flashback focus to the beginning of the zombie outbreak.

A new X-Files season is being discussed. Fox Entertainment are considering to give the go-ahead for a 10-episode order for the next go-round (up from six episodes last season).

  .

[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

The 2016 Worldcon has been held. By the end of Friday – the convention's third day – 4,088 attendees were on site.
          As usual (as we are a site largely run by scientists into SF) we list the Science Programme items:-   'Does SF Still Affect How We Think About the Future?';  'Living with Cancer';  'Whose DNA is It?' (Ethics and privacy of DNA profiles);  'The Theory and Possible Practice of FTL Time Travel';  'Amateur Scientists Doing Real Science';  'Launch Pad' (Where can authors go to steep themselves in science);  'Fandom Rocks! Docent Tour '(geology);  'The Year in Physics;  and amazingly the previous item clashed with 'Biology: The New Hard SF' (Homer Simpson 'doh!');  'Solar Sails';  'Defining Acceptable Risks in Space Exploration';  'Meet and Greet an Astronaut: Jeanette Epps';  'Explore Mars!';  'Where Science Fails';  'Astronaut Q&A for Scientists';  'Getting There: The Latest on Space Propulsion';  'Know Your Immune System';  'Archaeology in SF';  'Ask a Scientist' (Q&A with 5 minutes per question);  'The Future of Fusion';  'Cancer Treatment';  'Science That Inspired Science Fiction Authors';  and again amazingly the previous item clashed with 'Thinking Through Neuroscience in SF and Fantasy';  'Exploring the Solar System';  'Science Fiction That Inspired Scientists';  'Two Suns in the Sky';  'Is Mining the Asteroids Feasible?';  'I Don’t Believe In Science' (philosophy of science);  'Terraforming Terra: Geoengineering for Climate Change Survival';  …and there you have it. A reasonable selection of science. Having said that, given there were 16 parallel programme streams over five days, so the amount of science was not just small (which is fair enough given the breadth of genre interests) but as last year very much a minority dimension to this year's programme (them's the breaks).
          Elsewhere in the programme there were a number of items in so-called 'Young Adult' fiction talking about books for 'teenagers' which confounds the biological definition of 'adult'.  There was quite a good short-film programme commendably with items from around the world. There were hardly any feature films but Virtual Revolution (which was the only solid SF feature film offering of the convention and The Village of Middlevale as well as the horrors KLID TV, Suffer the Little Childrenand Red Snare plus the non-SFnal comedy Bear with Us.  The convention also saw the Hugo Awards (see above) presented.  +++ Last year's 2015 Worldcon news here.

The World SF Society's (WSFS) 2016 Business meetings have taken place at Worldcon. There was not the quite so marathon-lengthed business meeting sessions this year as there was last year.  Once again, helpfully, the sessions were posted on YouTube. Less ideally, they were posted in small 10 minute chunks which made for an awful lot of them. This was not so good news to the minority (but not a small minority in terms of millions in an absolute number) in the UK (and presumably other developed nations) in places (typically rural) with poor bandwidth and who therefore have to download large files (or large numbers of small files as in this case) over night. However the service was there.
          Items covered included 2018 Worldcon site selection.
          Much time was spent on Hugo voting mechanisms to counter bloc voting and the Puppies (if you are unaware of what's happened to date start your back-story trail here).  Ratified was '5 & 6' (originally '4 & 6'), a proposal that originally would have limited nominators to four (changed to five just before the final vote) nominated works per category and expanding the number of finalist positions on the shortlist ballot from five to six.&nsbp; The amendment to change '4' to '5' was a 'lesser change' (and thus the proposal doesn't need to be re-ratified) because the current Constitution is effectively 5 & 5 and so anything between or including the proposed new values of 4 nominations & 6 on the shortlist and the original values would be a lesser change. (The afore words we nicked from Kevin Standlee's blog.) '5 & 6' is a sensible move (as was '4 & 6').  By itself it keeps the Hugo nominating and final voting simple but it means that any bloc can only nominate five works while voters can choose and rank six works on the shortlist: which means voters voting on the shortlist always have at least an extra work to vote for even in the event a 5-work slate ends up on the shortlist of six. This new rule will take effect at the 2017 Worldcon. (Interestingly the move from '4 & 6' to '5 & 6' speaks to yet another argument against EPH (see the following paragraph): Worldcon voters obviously want the right to nominate more than 4 works but EPH weakens such voters vote power per work.  Given this, the question begged is how many at the business meeting had actually read both the EPH academic paper and the [incomplete] data analysis?)
          Somewhat worryingly the, less-than-simple and arguably flawed, 'E Pluribus Hugo' (EPH) measure was replaced by an even more complicated EPH+ patch that supposedly addresses the flaws revealed by a trial run on past data.  One does wonder as to how many of those who voted for this actually read the academic paper as well as the recently published paper that ran the EPH process on a couple of previous Worldcons Hugo nominating data?  Let's hope for some serious consideration, as opposed to 'group think', before the EPH+ ratification decision at next year's Worldcon.&nsbp; If EPH+ does get ratified next year then it will come into force in 2018. Yes, those that worked on EPH deserve our (the SF community's appreciation) but EPH itself is not good news (seriously, read the papers the proposers produced).
          The final anti-slate mechanism discussed at the meeting was 3 Stage Voting. This mechanism in essence reveals the long-list before the short list is created. (In itself, announcing the long-list first does make PR sense and so is a common practice by many awards, but for some reason has never happened with the Hugos (at least not in recent decades – we are not that old).)  What happens with 3 Stage Voting is a new stage is introduced where people vote on whether a long-list work is deemed eligible for inclusion on the short list – the voting on of which becomes the third and final stage in the Hugo nominating & shortlist voting procedure.  This is a debatable proposal, but scientifically and mathematically far less controversial than EPH or EPH+.&nsbp; The advantage of 3 Stage Voting is that it vastly reduces the chance of 'no award' and gives shortlist voters a complete suite of six works on which to vote: after all, what would be the point of allowing a work Hugo voters would later reject en mass from going on the shortlist? 3 Stage Voting will now need to be ratified next year and if it is it will come into force in 2018.
          And that essentially is the interesting stuff. Other WSFS Business Meeting items included housekeeping and mark protection matters.

The 2017 Worldcon (Finland) has produced its Progress Report 2. This came out over the summer and includes information on how to get to Finland and where to stay in the venue city Helsinki. The new membership rate is €145 / US$165 (as is usual the earlier you book the cheaper it is, so there will be further rate increases in 2017).  +++ Past spring 2016 news of the 2017 Worldcon here and news from the New Year here. Past news of this convention's site selection win here.  +++ Helsinki outreach gap – Chair reassures. Following this year's Worldcon late August and early September saw Facebook and other online social media concerns be raised as to the 2017 Helsinki Worldcon accomodation arrangements: something to which we were alerted by third parties.  Most of the complaints seem to come from some N. Americans concerned that all but one of the hotels necessitate either a short walk or a few minutes by public transport to the convention venue. This perceived problem would have been obvious to any Helsinki resident who also was familiar with N. American hosted Worldcons, and so steps should have been made by the Helsinki team to repeatedly communicate this, via both social media and the not-very-many specialist SF blogs and websites regularly covering Worldcon matters, to those assuming standard N. American Worldcon practices.  The convention's Committee Co-Chair, longstanding European fan, Jukka Halme, said: "When bidding [for the right to hold the 2017 Worldcon], we did mention that there was a hotel attached to the Helsinki Exhibition and Congress Center Messukeskus. We were always clear to point out, however, that it is the only hotel close to Messukeskus and that most people would have to find accommodation somewhere else, namely Downtown area. This fact was never hidden, obfuscated or covered up." He added: "As to traveling to the convention site from the centre of Helsinki, I cannot even remember how many times we explained the various ways of reaching Messukeskus. It takes five minutes to travel by train from the Helsinki Central Railway station to Pasila, and back. And those trains leave every other minute during day."  To which there is very little to add but, having said all of this, it is nonetheless likely that the Helsinki Worldcon will be very well attended given the city's Eurocon let alone Finncon established track record. What Helsinki needs to do with some urgency is to clearly communicate: what evening programming there will be; what conference centre evening social activities, and which central Helsinki hotel will be hosting parties as well as a couple of central Helsinki bars to act as social foci. It (should) go(es) without saying that this does need to be done soon as a proportion of overseas visitors will use this information to determine their accommodation preferences, especially as there is now less than a year to the event.

The 2018 Worldcon will be San Jose in the US . There were two bids voted on at this year's Worldcon. New New Orleans lost to San Jose 675 to 594: a tight race. San Jose's GoHs will be: Spider Robinson, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Pierre & Sandy Pettinger.

The 2019 Worldcon bid for Dublin announcement we covered spring before last. No new news other than it is still the sole bid for that year: the latter may well explain the former.

The 2020 Worldcon bid for New Zealand is now beginning to consider staffing matters should the bid win; it previously had a call for volunteers (folk whose involvement is important but more casual), assuming the bid goes ahead.  This New Zealand Worldcon bid does not have to make a decision until late in 2017 as if it decides to withdraw from the site selection process, this will give others time to mount an alternate bid for the 2020 site selection vote in 2018.  While technically it could delay the decision to proceed/withdraw in 2018, leaving it that late would be discourteous to the Worldcon community the members of whom would need to pull together an alternate proposal. Here, you may wonder why New Zealand might withdraw? Well the answer is whether or not it can find a venue in NZ large enough to host the Worldcon and have the comensurate number of hotel beds?  There is still no decision as to which of the two shortlisted venues – Wellington or Auckland – they are going for but, whichever they choose the 2020 Worldcon will have to be a smaller convention than usual at probably less than half the size of this year's Worldcon. Having said that, NZ is a great country to visit and a Worldcon would for a good few make for an excellent excuse to have that holiday of a lifetime.  +++ Past NZ Worldcon 2020 bid news here.

Other Worldcon bids include:-
          Boston (US) in 2021
          Dallas (US) in 2021
          Chicago (US ) and Doha (Qatar) in 2022
          France in 2023 (we previously reported back in the autumn)
          Britain in 2024 (we previously reported back in the spring)
          Perth (Australia) in 2025
In addition to the news above, links to all Worldcon bid websites check out - http://worldcon.org/bids - the Worldcon bid page.

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

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

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Meanwhile over in Europe… News of this year's Eurocon event plus the promise of further two good Eurocons

The 2016 Eurocon is in Barcelona, Spain. Over the past couple of years we have previously covered this Eurocon's news including:-
2016 Eurocon bidding and Barcelona win
Progress Report 1 and other stuff
Progress Report 2 and other stuff
Progress Report 3 and other stuff
Progress Report 4 and other stuff
          At this late stage – the event is in November – you will already know whether you are going or not, so what follows really is only of interest to registered members. Indeed, as we post this news page the convention is fully booked with a waiting list of some 50 – so if you aren't going you may want to let the organisers know. If you want the souvenir book you will need to attend as the convention's non-profit budget is tight and does not run to mailing out publications.
          Importantly, a lack of a membership only stops people from entering programming rooms to attend programme items (and from receiving the Welcome bag). The big dealers and fan areas with bar is open to everyone, likewise the roof patio of the convention hotel on the Thursday evening, with bar. People who come to a con mainly to socialise can still do so easily! Non-members can also enjoy the exhibitions, and there will be a number of presentations of books in the libraries of Barcelona. Also, the Gigamesh bookstore will have special activities during the days before Eurocon, and the Chronos bookstore apparently has several surprises in the oven, too. For just a few Euros, if you have some left after the Dealers Room, there will be three panels open for the general public at CCCB as part of the Eurocon's outreach ventures.
          Travel. Well, if you are going you will already have planned your way to Barcelona airport. But what then?  On arrival you have two main options. First the metro-underground-tube. Advantages: it is a Euro or so cheaper than the shuttle bus. Disadvantages: you don't get to see much and you arrive at a pickpocket zone.  The second option is the shuttle bus. Advantages: you get to see stuff. Disadvantages: At €10.20 return it costs a Euro or so more than the metro-underground-tube (which is €4.50 for a single).  But how do you get from Barcelona airport arrivals to the shuttle bus? Glad you asked.  Here's a video covering the route from terminal 1 arrivals to the shuttle bus, and here's another video covering the route from terminal 2 arrivals to the shuttle bus.  Here is what the journey looks like.  The shuttle takes you to the Placa Catalunya (which also has a metro-underground-tube station) and itself is one-and-a-half blocks from the main convention hotel. We hope you find this helpful.

The 2017 Eurocon in Dortmund, Germany, has released its PR1 and has a rate change. Called U-Con, the 2017 Eurocon committee have announced that they are open to programme ideas. They are open to programme items that are either in English, or German as well as German and English. Those who remember the 1999 Eurocon, also in Dortmund, will recall that they had both English as well as German in addition to bilingual programme items and it worked well.  Also, as of 1st August 2016, the 2017 Eurocon has had a membership rate change whereby registration has increased by €5 to €40. Advance membership has now topped a hundred.

The 2018 Eurocon in France – should it win the site bid at this year's Eurocon – will include a theatrical dimension and, literally, held in the heritage shadow of Jules Verne. The bid convention is to be called 'Nemo'. Currently, as we post this seasonal news page, France is the only nation formally bidding for 2018 (we checked with the European SF Society), and so unless there is some late-comer at this year's Eurocon where the site vote will be held, France is likely to win: in fact, other than a surprise rival bid, only a 'no selection' vote deferment to hold the site selection next year (which is allowable in the rules), will prevent France from winning the bid to host the 2018 Eurocon.  The proposed venue will be a new university building (scheduled for completion in September 2017). The convention will include a theatrical component. In addition to the Jules Verne play we reported a year ago, it is hoped that a number of Eurocon-goers will present short one-act plays. The call for such theatrical submissions will be made at the 2016 Eurocon in Barcelona.  If France wins the bid, the convention will be held in Amiens which is where Verne wrote most of his novels. Jules Verne's house still exists, and has been turned into a museum open to visitors and so prospective Eurocon participants will be able to visit it. Indeed, it is hoped that the day before the Eurocon will see the first part of that year's French national convention also in Amiens and so there will be French fans the previous day if non-Franco Eurocon visitors wish to do tourism.  Mid-Eurocon there will be a gala dinner as is traditional with French natcons.  The Eurocon bid convention has also now been chosen to be the 2018 French national convention (and this will take place regardless of Nemo winning the Eurocon site selection in Barcelona in November.) This last decision was taken at this year's French national, Bordeaux-Gradignan. We will let you know the Eurocon outcome in next our season news page.

Regarding the 2019 Eurocon, there have been no publicly announced markers for a prospective bid for 2019.  But last season (summer 2016) we did tip you, in case any of you felt like running a Eurocon, that the year was available but to steer clear of the late summer due to the still likely Irish Worldcon. Who knows, some group may put a marker down at the Barcelona, ESFS meeting.

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

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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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

World Fantasycon programme ructions. This year's World Fantasy Convention – scheduled for Columbus, Ohio (US) this October – has released its programme details but received an on-line backlash for being uninspired and lacking in gender diversity.  The sad thing is that we have been here before as there were some similar concerns with the 2013 World Fantasy Convention: this time, though, the concerns about the programme have been even more vocal.

Poland's Pyrkon sees a record number attend and was large by any standard across the European continent with some 40,662 attending, itself a substantial increase on last year's 31,495.  During the convention the Nowa Fantastyka awards were presented.

Germany's national convention took place over the summer. The annual SFCD-con was 'MediKonOne'. And it was a very special event in so far that it was taking place in the biggest hospital of the city, precisely in the training facilities of the Klinikum Oldenburg. Science Fiction and health was the general topic. Surgeons and scientists were taking part in panels about the use of robots and telepresence in healthcare and various other related aspects. This combination of around 150 fans, writers and specialists within in the programme was somewhat unique and has brought about very interesting discussions.

The 2017 N. American SF Convention (NASFic) site has been announced. The NASFic is effectively the N. American equivalent of the Eurocon but which is held only those years Worldcon is note venued in N. America.  The 2017 NASFic will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico with GoHs Daína Chaviano, Tobias Buckell, George Perez, Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ., Javier Grillo-Marxuach, and Paul Smith.

  .

For a list of current 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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

NET WATCH

SF Signal.com has closed! The site had been a remarkable endeavour proving a daily perspective of SF on the internet primarily from a N. American viewpoint. No matter your taste in the genre, you could almost guarantee that each day there would be links to items of interest. Over its 12 years it garnered a couple of Hugos.  It will be missed.  (See also editorial comment at the top of this page.)

A university has paid a Can$20,000 (£10,800, US$15,800) ransom to hackers to release data having trashed their computer system's memory. The University of Calgary paid 20,000 Canadian dollars-worth of bitcoins to hackers who introduced malware to their system infection through the internet to a hundred of their computers. Currently over 120 of such malware programme exist and new ones are constantly being developed. Critics have said that Calgary U's paying the ransom will encourage other attempts.

The Necurs botnet – one of the biggest of spam and malware sending botnets – has quietened. Usually Necurs sends millions of spam messages and e-mails containing malware, or links to malware, each week and has been doing so for a few years. In June (2016) this dwindled to almost nothing.  The Necurs botnet is thought to consist of about six million compromised computers operating MS Windows that became infected with a rootkit. Why this has happened is a bit of a mystery, but it appears that someone has found a way to interrupt the botnet from communicating with its command and control (C&C) system.

US agrees Privacy Shield with European Union. Privacy Shield aims to ensure a high level of online data protection for individuals and legal certainty for business. It covers a range of issues from personal information about employees to the detailed records of what people do online, which is often used to aid targeted advertising.  This means that users in Europe accessing US websites and vice-versa have the same responsibilities for, and legal rights to, data protection. So the Privacy Shield agreement states that data stored in the US about EU citizens must be given 'equivalent' protection by law to that it would receive if stored in the EU. It means that businesses in the US and Europe can share data with customers knowing that it will not go to third parties. The 'Privacy Shield' agreement replaces 'Safe Harbour' after the European Court of Justice rejected Safe Harbour when it was shown that data was being leaked to third parties.  It was the US National Security Agency's widespread data surveillance that was supposedly protected by Safe Harbour which led to it being replaced with more safeguards.  The deal runs for an initial trial year. The US will create an ombudsman to handle complaints from EU citizens about Americans spying on their data and will give written commitments that Europeans' personal data will not be subject to mass surveillance. However Britain, following Brexit, will now have to negotiate a mirror deal of its own now that it has left the EU.

Computer savvy users are trimming down their Linked-In profiles following Microsoft (MS) purchase. For those who don't know, Linked-In is a kind of Facebook for professionals in which users' profiles feature their curriculum vitae and whose friends are professional colleagues and voluntary activity collaborators. It is quite popular among office workers and those at middle management level though does include some senior professionals.  There are some 430 million Linked-In members worldwide.  Microsoft has bought Linked-In buying it for just over US$26bn (£18bn).  Linked In has struggled to make a profit and last year made a US$166m (~£112m) loss. Microsoft (MS) shares fell 2.6% when news of the purchase was announced.  All of which begs the question why MS sought to buy Linked-In. The answer is that with 430 million users it will give MS access to their data and integrate it across their other platforms. Though the deal has yet to be approved by regulators in the US, EU, Canada and Brazil, savvy users – especially those not actively seeking to change their jobs – are editing down their CVs so that unnecessary personal information does not get ported for other MS use. Things like users schools, school qualifications (which many may not now rely on), hobbies, even things like religious belief/activity and so forth, provide a potential commercial benefit to MS customers.

Millions of Android smartphones have been infected by spyware and advert-click-through malware. The malware family called Shedun or Hummingbad not only reports smartphone users browsing habits but clicks-through-to-adverts so generating revenue for the malware's creators. A particular problem is that it can remain persistent even after a factory default reset and is resistant to the usual uninstall procedures. The majority of the compromised phones are in China. Fake versions of apps have been used to spread the malware. Google has released a security update for Android that addresses more than 108 separate vulnerabilities in the operating system. So far this year around 300 bugs have been sorted.

Facebook has won an appeal to allow it to track its Belgian users. In 2015 the Belgian Privacy Commissioner forced Facebook to change the way it track its Belgian users in that country. Now, the Brussels Appeals Court overturned that, saying the regulator had no jurisdiction over Facebook, which has its European headquarters in Ireland. Initially the court found in favour of the Belgian data authority. It said that collecting the data through cookies on the web-surfing behaviour of millions of people who were not Facebook members simply site visitors was a manifest violation of Belgian data protection law, irrespective of what purposes for which Facebook used the data. Meanwhile we are waiting for news from France where similar concerns have been expressed.

Cybercrime is winning says Britain's National Crime Agency. It said there were 2.46 million cyber incidents last year, including 700,000 frauds - with the biggest threat coming from 'a few hundred' criminals. The Britain is to spend £1.9bn over the next five years on cyber-defences and plans a new National Cyber Security Centre.

C A Chinese businessman who assisted China's air force hack US military secrets has been convicted. Having been extradited from Canada, Su Bin admitted collaborating with hackers in the Chinese military to steal data from US defence companies between 2008 and 2014. In addition to a 46-month prison sentence, he has a US$10,000 (£7,600) fine.

Clash of Kings user details hacked. 1.5 million use the mobile game Clash of Kings online forum which ZDNet – the breach notification site – has reported that the forum has been hacked with users' email addresses, IP addresses and usernames stolen and offered for sale on the dark web. The data breach was confirmed by Elex, the Chinese firm behind Clash of Kings. Users' passwords are thought to remain safe having been encrypted but nonetheless it is recommended that users change their passwords.

O2 customers who used gaming website XSplit three years ago are now having their user names and passwords sold on the dark web it is reported by the BBC. If users have not changed their details and use the same passwords for their O2 account then their O2 account will be open to hackers and so potentially access their other O2 personal data. XSplit was hacked three years ago and now we know some of the implications of that event.

200 million Yahoo account details are being marketed on the dark web. Usernames, passwords and dates of birth are reportedly being offered for sale. It is thought that the data relates to a Yahoo hack back in 2012.  Yahoo was also hacked in 2013 and 2014. +++ Yahoo was recently sold to US telecom company Verizon for nearly US$5bn (£3.8bn).

An official anti-ransomware site has been established for victims. Ransomware infects computers encrypting files so necessitating victims (typically businesses) to pay for their decryption.  Incidents of ransomware cybercrime have been growing virtually exponentially; the number of ransomware victims tripled in the first three months of 2016.  Now a site has been set up that connects victims with police, gives advice and helps with data recovery. The initiative has the backing of Europol. See www.nomoreransom.org.

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

Microsoft bows to complaints over its 'forcing' Windows 10 on its customers. The recent editions of the Windows operating systems have seen Microsoft on-line monitoring of its customers' home system and automatically providing patches where required. All well and good, but when major changes (such as a complete upgrade to the latest Windows edition) are proposed, the customer gets to choose. However recently Microsoft has been accused of forcing Windows 10 on its customers some of whom are wary of losing data in an upgrade and others who would prefer to wait until all the operational bugs are removed from the latest edition. Microsoft has been giving its Windows 10 update 'recommended' status that is normally reserved for critical security updates. Also some customers with older models of computers are concerned that Windows 10 may put to much strain on their PC and then there are concerns that Windows 10 monitors its customers' usage too closely. So over the summer Microsoft has introduced a decline to update option. This happened to follow Microsoft paying a Californian woman US$10,000 (£7,500) compensation after an automatic Windows 10 update left her computer unusable: she had been happily using Windows 7 and never wanted Windows 10.  +++ Microsoft misses its target to its Windows 10 operating system running on more than one billion devices by 2018. By mid-summer Microsoft said Windows 10 is in active use on about 350 million separate devices.

Microsoft fully launches Edge, its new internet browser. Microsoft began developing Edge back in 2014 and a number of test versions have been around: August saw its full public release. It has had a mixed reception. Its plus points are that it downloads, and renders pages, really fast. It has though faced design and layout criticism resulting in some considering it to be not particularly user friendly. For example: users cannot switch off geo-location (Big Microsoft is watching you), cannot alter security features in detail (as with the Security tab of Internet Options for IE11) and cannot view autocomplete settings, among other things. Maybe later versions will sort these, and other, issues out?  Internet Explorer 11 will remain available alongside Edge on Windows 10 for compatibility purposes, though how long the 19-year-old Explorer browser will remain supported by Microsoft is currently an open question.

The Xbox One S computer game console has been released by Microsoft (MS). It costs US$299 (£210) and include support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) gaming, has 4K DVD and Blu-Ray playback, plus has extra levels of brightness and more colour. Xbox One S is also slimmer than Xbox.  +++ Sony are slated to launch an upgraded version of its PS4 console in early 2017.  +++ MS is also to launch Project Scorpio for Christmas next year (2017). Project Scorpio, have virtual reality and 4K gaming.

New games have been released for Sony's PS4 Play Station. These include new Star Wars and Resident Evil games.  Coming in the future are Batman and Final Fantasy virtual reality games.  Sony is planning to release an upgraded PlayStation 4, 'Project Neo, that will be capable of the 4K graphics necessary for the virtual reality games.

Gamergate issues rise in S. Korea. (Backstory: Gamergate is a largely US phenomenon that sees a proportion of its white, male dominated gaming community promulgate misogyny.) South Korea, the country with one of the strongest culture of gaming in the world is now seeing its misogyny outed by female gamers. Indeed, this summer when actress, Kim Jayeon (and voice of the game Closures), wore a T-shirt with the slogan 'Girls do not need a prince', she generated an online storm of complaint from anti-women Closure players that resulted in the game's makers sacking her and not rebuffing those complaints that were downright offensive. One factor is that that slogan is associated with a S. Korean feminist group called Megalia. Unlike the US (which is meant to be enlightened and libertarian and so has no excuse for gamergate attitudes), S. Korea has a 'traditional' and dated society which has a longer way to come even though it is technologically advanced.

Games cheat software firm taken to court by computer games firm. Cheat programs enable players to take short cuts or gain an advantage when playing a particular computer game. The German company Bossland has been releasing cheat tools for first-person shooter game Overwatch and some other games produced by the Californian computer games maker Blizzard. But the German company is arguing that a US court would have no jurisdiction over it.

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Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
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Autumn 2016

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

It's official!  The first mammal has gone extinct due to climate change. The Bramble Cay is the first mammal to become extinct due to climate change. The Bramble Cay species name is Melomys rubicola (Melo = Melanesian, mys = mouse; rubicola = Bramble (Cay).  It is a mosaic-tailed rat, distinguished by the mosaic pattern of scales on its tail rather than the concentric rows of scales running along the length of the tail found in most other types of rats and mice.  It was only found on Bramble Cay, a small, low-lying vegetated coral cay (a reef island composed of coral rubble and sand) roughly 340 metres long by 150 m wide, but subject to seasonal changes in both shape and size, located at the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. This made it Australia's most isolated species of mammal. The island being small and low-lying has meant that it has shrunk over the past century as sea level has risen and extreme weather events taken their toll.  It was not known whether or not it had gone extinct but now survey work in August–September 2014 has been completed and written up. This in turn has led to the announcement in June that the Bramble Cay has officially become extinct and the first mammal to do so directly attributable to climate change. (See: Gynther, I., Waller, N. & Leung, L.K.-P. (2016) Confirmation of the extinction of the Bramble Cay melomys Melomys rubicola on Bramble Cay, Torres Strait: results and conclusions from a comprehensive survey in August–September 2014, and also Watson, J. (2016) Bring climate change back from the future. Nature, vol. 534, p437.)

Science gets a new editor. Science, from N. America, is one the world's leading two English-language, weekly, multidisciplinary science journals (the other being Britain's Nature) Marcia McNutt is standing down to become President of the US National Academy of Science (the US equivalent of the Royal Society).  Science's new editor is the biomedical scientist Jeremy Berg.  Though multidisciplinary Science has a mix of papers that is perhaps a little more molecular biological than Nature's balance, and Berg is likely to maintain this difference.  Having said that, Science does have the leading environmental and Earth system science writer Richard Kerr on its team.

The earliest, hence oldest rocks have been discovered. The Earth and Solar System formed some 4.6 billion years ago (bya) with a planetoid collision forming the Moon some 4.5 bya. Now Hanika Rizo of Quebec University, Montreal, Canada, have discovered rocks that has formed from unmixed lava since some 50 million years after the Earth formed.  Levels of tungston-182 – an isotope created early in the Earths history by the decay of hafnium-182 – have been found to be higher in Canadian and Pacific rocks than those from other parts of the world.  These basalt rocks have been formed by lava erupting and these lavas are thought to come from ancient reservoirs of lava that have remained unmixed for 99% of the Earth's existence. In short, it suggests that while much of the Earth's interior is mixed by heating, some primordial material survives today. (See Science vol. 352, pp809-812.)

The ITER international fusion project has yet again been delayed. The first plasma is now expected by the end of 20125. The relaxing of the schedule is hoped to save Euro 4.6 billion (£3.9 bn or US$5.2 bn) however it is not clear what the savings will be in the short term.  That fusion has never been achieved has become something of a joke by those being unaware of the political and bureaucratic impediments placed in the path of this radical new and greenhouse friendly technology. Folk forget that the US Energy Research and Development Administration first presented a fusion R&D roadmap back in 1976 costing US$15 - US$20 billion to achieve a demonstration of potentially commercial fusion by 2000. A US Department of Energy figure by Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory put the cost in money-of-the-day terms at US$30 but by 2003 half that had been spent in real terms. Over the decades the three constants in fusion has been underfunding, political wrangling and overly bureaucratic delays (the later of which at one stage included ITER staff being refused access to land set aside for the reactor in St-Paul-lez-Durance in France). So expect more delays as the Earth warms.

Einstein’s general relativity holds true with colliding black holes. Earlier this year it was reported that the US laser interferometer gravity observation collaboration (LIGO) had detected gravity waves in 2015. Now Britain’s Walter Del Pozzo from Birmingham University and colleagues together with European Virgo partners have compared that signal with computer simulations based on general relativity. The observations matched the predictions to a high degree. This has been the most extreme space-time warping test of relativity to date. (See Physical Reviews Letters, 2016, vol. 116, 221101.)

Atomic-level memory demonstrated in the lab. Dutch researchers at the Technical University of Delft have developed rewritable memory that stores information in the positions of single chlorine atoms on a copper surface. This enables storage a thousand times that of current flash or hard disk technology. This new prototype technology is the equivalent of a density of 500 Terabits per square inch. In theory, this storage density would allow all books ever created by humans to be written on a single post stamp. However the researchers used a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM), in which a sharp needle probes the atoms on the surface one by one; a painfully slow process and it works at 77 Kelvin (-196°C) which is a bit nippy for the living room. Every bit consists of two positions on a surface of copper atoms, and one chlorine atom that we can slide back and forth between these two positions. If the chlorine atom is in the top position, there is a hole beneath it - we call this a 1. If the hole is in the top position and the chlorine atom is therefore on the bottom, then the bit is a 0. Because the chlorine atoms are surrounded by other chlorine atoms (except near the holes), they keep each other in place. As a proof of principle, the team encoded a section of a famous lecture called 'There's plenty of room at the bottom' by the physicist Richard Feynman on an area 100 nanometres wide. (See Kalf et al, 2016, A kilobyte rewritable atomic memory. Nature Nanotechnology doi: 10.1038/nnano.2016.131.)

All of the world's atmosphere has more than 400 parts per million carbon dioxide. Last September we reported that annual global average for March (2015) at 400.83 ppm. On 15th May researchers at the South Pole recorded passing this 400ppm symbolic threshold, making it the last place on Earth to do so.  For reference, pre-industrial (18th century) conventrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide were around 280 ppm.  The last time the Earth saw concentrations of 400ppm was 4 million years ago. At that time there was much less ice on Antarctica and much clear ground in the summer.  Carbon dioxide levels are expected to continue to rise and with concomitant global warming.

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Autumn 2016

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

A triple sun system hosts a stable orbiting planet! Forget Star Wars and the twin suns setting, imagine a planet with three suns in the sky! Such a triple star planetary system has now been found by Kevin Wagner of Arizona U. and colleagues using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile. The triple sunned system is located in the constellation of Centaurus and lies some 320 light years from Earth. The system hosts a gas giant four times the mass of Jupiter orbiting the brightest of the three stars. Previously planets have been found orbiting double star systems. Simulations show that this planet in a three star system does have a stable orbit. And if there is a big gas giant planet there, then there may be a rocky, more Earth-like present too? (See Science doi: bk47 (2016).).

An near-Earth-like planet has been found orbiting Proxima Centauri. Proxima Centauri is the closest star to the Sun and is just 4.26 light years away. It is an 'M' class (Red Dwarf) type star which are common because they are so long-lived (they burn slowly): 20 of the next 30 stars closest to the Earth are Red Dwarves.  Red Dwarves are currently the focus of exo-planet searches as being small (Proxima has only 12% the mass of the Sun) they are easily wobbled by orbiting planets: the Earth-like planet around Proxima gives a Doppler wobble of about 1.38 metre per second, by comparison Earth induces a Doppler wobble in the Sun of 0.09 m s–1.  The Earth-like planet around Proxima has an orbit of just 11.2 days which makes it close, but as Red Dwarves are cooler than 'G' type Sun this puts the Earth-like planet around Proxima in its habitable zone. If water does exist on the planet then it could exist as a liquid. Also the planet is only 1.3 times the Earth's mass, so humans could stand and live on it with little problem. If the planet does have water, then the question for Earth system scientists with an interest in exo-planets is whether or not oxygenic photosynthesis evolved? Red Dwarves are cooler than Sun-type stars and their spectrum peaks with lower energy (more red) light but we are a long way from answering that. The researchers themselves muse that the planet in theory could hold an atmosphere despite being so close to its parent star.  (See Guillem Anglada-Escudé et al, 2016, A terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit around Proxima Centauri. Nature vol. 536 p437-440.)  +++ See also Stephen Baxter predicted Proxima Earth-like planet -- See our Science & SF Interface subsection below.

Furthest galaxy detected 13-billion light years away. Kuang-Han Huang and colleagues from California U. (US) using both the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the Hubble Space Telescope used an intermediate galaxy cluster as a gravitational lens. The galaxy detected existed at the very end of the cosmic dark ages and so must have been among the first to have formed. It is likely that the stars were largely massive hydrogen-only objects without planets. (Astrophysics Journal Letters, 2016, vol. 823, L14.)

The Earth has a newly discovered moon.  2016HO3 is estimated to be 40 – 100 metres in diameter and orbits between 38 – 100 times the Earth-Moon distance. From its orbital characteristics it is thought to have been captured in a quasi-stable orbit for a century. Its orbit is the most stable of Earth's quasi-stable companions. Its astronomical designation is 2016 HO3.

The asteroid Ceres (I) may have water! Two separate works hint that the large asteroid Ceres (I) may have water, albeit as highly salty brines. First, infra red observations from the Dawn spacecraft currently orbiting Ceres (I) have revealed that the bright splodges in one of its large craters are made largely of sodium carbonate and could be the recrystallisation of brines (see DeSanctis et al, 2016, Bright carbonate deposits…, Nature vol. 536, p54-57.).  Secondly, Dawn's image and gravimetric data suggest a moment of inertia for Ceres that in turn suggests that it is a differentiated body with a rocky core overlain by a volatile-rich icy shell. It may even contain small pockets of brine but Ceres might have had more liquid for a while shortly after its formation (see Park et al doi:10.1038/nature18955.).

80% of the world's population is affected by light pollution. An international collaboration or researchers have mapped the world of light pollution.  Light pollution is not the amount of light emitted by cities but the amount projected up and then reflected back as artificial sky-glow: what has been mapped is this artificial sky-glow.  They have found that, in addition to 80% of the world's population being affected, more than 99% of the European and US populations live under light-polluted skies.  The Milky Way is hidden from more than one-third of humanity, including 60% of Europeans and nearly 80% of North Americans.   Moreover, 23% of the world’s land surfaces between 75°N and 60°S, 88% of Europe, and almost half of the United States experience light-polluted nights.  The areas where people need to travel furthest from light pollution to be able to see the Milky Way include near Cairo, Egypt, in the Nile Delta region (the worst place in the world where people have to travel the furthest), followed by Belgium/Netherlands/Germany (Dortmund to Bonn cities) transnational region, the Padana plain in northern Italy, and the Boston to Washington series of cities in the north-eastern United States.  Other large areas where the Milky Way is lost are the London to Liverpool/Leeds region in England, and regions surrounding Beijing and Hong Kong in China and Taiwan.  People living near Paris would have to travel 900 km to Corsica, Central Scotland, or Cuenca province, Spain, to find large territories where the zenith is essentially unaffected by light pollution (artificial sky brightness <8% of the natural background); even in these places, significant sky-glow would be present near the horizon. (See Falchi et al, 2016, Science Advances vol. 2, doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1600377.)

Britain in space has been examined by all-party select committee. The House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee has now reported. It noted that In 2012–13, the UK space economy generated a turnover of £11.8 billion, directly employed over 35,000 people and had delivered year on year economic growth rates of around 8% over the previous decade. The industry’s target to grow the UK’s share of the global space market from 6.5% to 10% by 2030 is highly contingent upon expanding the use of ‘space-enabled services’ by business and by the public sector. Achieving this target could deliver billions of pounds worth of new exports and up to 100,000 skilled jobs. But, it concludes, there is a lack of awareness of the ways in which satellite data can be used by bodies that sit outside of the traditional space sector. This is compounded by the inward-looking nature of the UK space and satellite industry, and its long-term failure to engage with other sectors.  The UK government's aim to develop a spaceport and rocket engine for space planes has not been followed by solid action.

The Rosetta probe is now set to crash onto comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko 30th September (2016). Several months ago, the ESA mission to the comet saw the Philae lander touchdown. In the late summer ESA into a series of more eccentric elliptical orbits before a final manoeuvre 12 hours before impact. Each highly elliptical orbit will enable it to get a series of pictures of the comet close up.

NASA's Juno mission has arrived at Jupiter. The mission was launched five years ago and is the first craft to visit the planet since Galileo in 1995. Juno first entered into a 53.5-day orbit before moving closer in to a 14-day orbit. The environment close to Jupiter is one of intense radiation enhanced by Jupiter's intense magnetic field and the probe has had to carry extra shielding to protect the probe's electronics. The mission's goal includes ascertaining Jupiter's composition and even aspects of its core.

China's lunar rover has died. China's lunar mission landed December 2013. The six-wheeled Yuto rover has since been trundling about, taking pictures and using ground-penetrating radar to map beneath the ground to a depth of 100 yards.  The rover was only meant to have a lifetime of three months but kept going until the beginning of August (2016). China is the third nation to land a probe on the Moon after the US and Soviet Union.

China has launched the world's first quantum communication satellite. It -- assuming it works – uses quantum entanglement to encrypt messages. The satellite is named after the ancient Chinese scientist and philosopher Micius.

The US has granted permission to MoonExpress to send a mission to the Moon. It will be the first private Moonshot. MoonExpress was founded in 2010 and aims to land a robotic probe on the Moon in 2017. If it succeeds it will win the Google Lunar XPrize of £15 (US$20m).

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[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
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Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
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Autumn 2016

NATURAL SCIENCE

The what was the first species of life – the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) – like?  A simplified view of evolution is to consider it as a tree of life with all living species of life in the leaves at the ends of twigs, on branches, tracing itself to an ancestral single trunk some 3.5 billion years ago.  The earliest cells were prokaryotic (without nuclei or organelles) such as bacteria (Monera) and Archaea. Now, William Martin and colleagues at the Heinrich Hein University in Dusseldorf, Germany, have looked at over 6 million genes from bacteria and Archaea to identify those that were long-lived (had many analogues/variations (families of genes) and so must have been around a long time to acquire the mutations). They found 355 gene types coding for protein families that were probably in the LUCA genome.  These were all involved in anaerobic metabolism (no oxygen involved) and fixing carbon dioxide. Species today with most of these families exist in thermal vents rich in hydrogen, carbon dioxide and iron.  This fits in with current theories (based on energetics and geology) of early life that would have used hydrogen and iron (not oxygen as modern plants do) to fix carbon from carbon dioxide (see Nature Microbiology http://doi.org/bm2s (2016)).

10% of the World's area of wilderness has gone in the past 20 years. Australian and Canadian researchers have discovered that a total of 30.1 million km² (or 23.2% of terrestrial areas) of the World’s land area now remains as wilderness. An estimated 3.3 million km² has been lost since the early 1990s (approximately a 9.6% loss in two decades). Encouragingly, the majority of remaining wilderness is in large chunks (not highly fragmented) of 10,000 km² or more. The greatest biome loss is tropical rain forest in S. America and Africa and West Irian: the latter has now loss nearly all its wilderness. Borneo is losing what it still has of wilderness at an alarming rate. Significant losses in developed nations took place in Canada, Greenland, and Russia. Australia lost enough for its government (and people) to ought to be concerned. Areas with little wilderness in developed nations also face a challenge. For example, the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome lost 37% of its globally significant wilderness extent since the early 1990s, yet there was no reciprocal protection of the remaining wilderness areas. (See Watson et al, 2016, Catastrophic Declines in Wilderness Areas Undermine Global Environment Targets, Current Biology vol. 26, p1–6.)

The Exome Aggregation Consortium (ExAC) has reported on genetically sequencing some 60,000 people. Just seven years ago there was a study that compared the genome of just 12 people but the technology has developed and the cost of genetic sequencing has come down so that just three years ago some 6,000 people were sequenced. This latest study by an international team of mainly N. American and European researchers is of 60,706 people!  While there are just tens of thousands of genes in a single person's genome, across the human population there are many variations of these genes – the exome. ExAC has found 7.4 million variants with individuals analysed each having some 54 genetic variants that were previously considered causal for some rare disorder. The team reviewed the evidence for 192 variants that had previously been thought to cause disorders but only 9 actually did (that is, it had been thought that their presence in the genome of a person saw that person have a disease that was somewhat genetically related [such as breast cancer]). Clearly we are going to need to rethink our perceptions of genetic predisposition to disease. Also emerging was the lack of aspects of genetic diversity among a sub-population of those with Asian genes that relates strongly to a community in which arranged marriage to cousins is not uncommon.  The plan now is to extend the study to some 20,000 people. (See Lek et al, 2016, Nature vol. 536, p285-291.)

The most intelligent birds have bigger brains and as many neurons as some monkeys do.  Those brighter birds that use tools and sing not only have bigger brains compared to their body size but as a higher neuron density than less intelligent birds (such as chickens).  Furthermore, a higher proportion of their neurons were located in their forebrain which is where higher cognitive function control is located.  The research was led by Pavel Nemec of Charles University in Prague and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (doi:.org/bjzx (2016).).

Five thousand year-old barley beer detected. Jiajing Wang and colleagues from Stanford U. (US) analysed starch grains from a 5,000 year-old pottery vessel from Mijiaya, N. China. Barley was domesticated in W. Europe 10,000 years ago (a thousand years or so after the last glacial) but did not become a major crop in China until 2,200 years ago. So a barley beer in China 5,000 years ago is an unusual discovery ( Wang, J., et al, 2016, Revealing a 5,000-y-old beer recipe in China, PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1601465113).

175,000 year-old discovery confirms that Neanderthals were responsible for some of the earliest constructions made by hominins. Jacques Jaubert and colleagues of largely a European team of researchers have discovered circular structures some 175,000 years old made of broken stalagmites inside a cave in southwest France. Neanderthals lived in Europe from some 400,000 to 40,000 years ago with just a little overlap with anatomically modern humans but little is known as to their construction abilities (though it is known that they lived in caves). These circular structures can be considered as possibly analogous to rooms.  175,000 years ago and the Earth was in the depth of the second-to-last glacial (the cold part of an ice age). (See Jaubert et al, 2016, Nature, vol. 534, p111-114, and a short review vol. 534, p44-5.)

Ancient dog genome reveals dual origins. Laurent Frantz, and colleagues from Britain’s Oxford University, have sequenced the genome of a dog from Ireland who lived 4,800 years ago. This, together with the mitochondrial DNA from 59 ancient dogs and the DNA from hundreds of modern dogs, has revealed a dual origin for the species.  There has long been debate as to whether dogs originated in Asia or Europe. (Three years ago we reported news that N. American dogs came from Asia and not Europe with the Vikings.) The new results suggest that dogs were domesticated separately twice from two distinct wolf populations: once in East Asia and one in Western Europe. (See Science, 2016, vol. 352, p1228-1231.)

Homo floresiensis dates from at least 700,000 years ago and may be descended from Homo erectus.  Two papers in the same issue of Nature (vol. 534, p245-8 and p249-253) report on the results of new remains found on the island of Flores in East Asia.  Remains of the dwarf ‘hobbit’ early human were first discovered in 2005 and these dated from some 18,000 years ago; this date compares with anatomically modern humans who arose around 195,000 years ago in Africa.  A question anthropologists have mused over is whether H. floresiensis evolved from Homo habilis or from the later H. erectus?  The new evidence suggests (largely based on tooth shape) that H. floresiensis evolved from the later H. erectus though it has to be said that further corroborative evidence is desired. What is clearer – as multiple techniques have been used – is that these remains date from some 700,000 years ago. (See also a short review ‘The dawn of Homo floresiensis’, 2016, Nature vol. 534, p188-9.).

Artificial (quasi-biological) molecular wheel created twice. Biology developed the wheel way back early in the Earth’s history with things like the wheel that rotates bacterial flagella and this has been used numerous times later (such as in sperm flagella). Now, two teams have developed a synthetic variant of such molecular level wheels. Their results have been respectively published in Nature Chemistry and Nature. (For a short review summary see Clayeden, J., 2016, Nature vol. 534, p187-8.)

Three parent offspring may have risks. Mitochondria – the cell's organelles responsible for the production of the ATP energy molecule – contain DNA (separate to that in the nucleus) which may be faulty resulting in inherited mitochondrial diseases.  A way around this has been developed in the US and then first approved for human use in Britain and later in the US. It involves removing the nucleus DNA from an egg cell with faulty mitochondrial DNA and inserting it into an empty nucleus of an egg with mitochondria with healthy DNA. This means that the resulting offspring has DNA from three parents: nuclear DNA from mum and dad and then mitochondrial DNA from an egg donor (that has had its nuclear DNA removed.  All well and good, but research has now shown that there may be problems. Shoukhrat Mitalipov and colleagues from Oregon Health and Science U. replaced the mitochondria in one subspecies of mouse Mus mus domesticus with mitochondria from Mus mus musculus resulting in healthy female progeny but males with reduced fertility. They also repeated the work in reverse (using the mtDNA from Mus mus domesticus) resulted in most progeny being aborted or stillborn.  (See Cell Metabolism doi: bmn5 (2016).)  Now, before the panic sets in, this is probably not a serious blow to the technique which does otherwise appear to be effective in combating mitochondrial disease.  What it does mean, our Concatenation bioscientists muse, is that it is best to use mitochondria and eggs from the same sub-species and so there may be a genetic compatibility factor at work which may necessitate in the future checking that the eggs and egg donor are from the same genetic sub-population of human.

New Alzheimer treatment shows promise slowing mental decline. It has been a quarter of a century since amyloid-β protein has been associated with cognitive decline in Alzheimer's. There are a number of treatments now being trialled but one over the summer looks promising in slowing decline in a transgenic mouse model and a small a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial clinical trial. The treatment uses the antibody aducanumab, a human monoclonal antibody that selectively targets aggregated Aβ. A trial is now underway. (See Sevigny, J. et al, 2016, The antibody aducanumab reduces Aβ plaques in Alzheimer’s disease. Nature vol. 537, p50-56.).

The 2016 Global Nutrition Report cites obesity and overweight as key concern. Obesity and overweight is rising in every region and nearly every country, and have become a global challenge. The number of children under 5 who are overweight is approaching the number who suffer from wasting (due to an insufficient diet). However, other than Africa and Oceania, every other area of the world is seeing declining child wasting, whereas the numbers under 5 years of age that are overweight are increasing. World leaders had sought to “end all forms of malnutrition by 2030” at the end of 2015 as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals but we are not on track to meet this target. Out of a global population of over 7 billion, some 0.8 billion suffer calorie deficiency and a further 2 billion from micronutrient deficiency.  Out of some 5 billion adults, some 2 billion are overweight or obese. (See International Food Policy Research Institute (2016) Global Nutrition Report 2016: From Promise to Impact: Ending Malnutrition by 2030. Washington, DC.)

  .

[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

FORTHCOMING BOOK RELEASES

Forthcoming Science Fiction book and graphic novel releases

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

 

The Sound of Seas by Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rain, Simon & Schuster, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-471-13778-5.
The final in the 'Earth End' saga.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Vintage Classics, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-784-87144-4.
Set in a dystopic near future, male fertility (hence fecundity) has declined. This leads to the ruling to force women to service the said elite. This reprint of a modern classic includes a short essay by the author as to how she came to write this story.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood, Virago, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-349-00729-8.
A sinister, wickedly funny novel set in a dystopic near-future following a financial crash orders of magnitude worse that the 2006/7 crash.  Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of economic and social collapse. Living in their car, surviving on tips from Charmaine’s job at a dive bar, they’re increasingly vulnerable to roving gangs and in a rather desperate state. So when they see an advertisement for the Positron Project in the town of Consilience – a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own – they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for this suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month, swapping their home for a prison cell to make room for some other couple to take their place…

Heart of Granite by James Barclay, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20243-6.
An adventure with hunter killer Max Halloran in this military SF.

The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20509-3.
This is the much awaited sequel to H. G. Wells War of the Worlds, set in London, the Martians return and the war begins again. But the aliens do not repeat the mistakes of their last invasion. They know how they lost last time. The massacre of mankind has begun.

Obelisk by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-473-21274-9.
A collection of short stories and novellas. This features tales set in the worlds of the novels Ultima and Proxima, and also including two brand new short stories. It also contains stories based on his ’Long Earth’ series of novels with Terry Pratchett.

Xeelee Endurance by Stephen Baxter, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21272-5.
Hard SF space opera. A collection of shorts and a novella all set in Baxter's Xeelee universe in which mankind is invaded by the aliens. Click on the title link for Jonathan's review of the hardback.

Take Back the Sky by Greg Bear, Gollancz, £18.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13396-9.
The conclusion of the ‘War Dogs’ trilogy following War Dogs and Killing Titan.  After the revelations on Titan, Master Sergeant Michael Venn has a whole new war on his hands.  As the Antag invasion wreaks havoc in the distant reaches of the solar system, Venn voyages towards the battle that could decide the fate of not just the human race, but that of the whole galaxy… Superb military SF with a number of excellent SF riffs.

Daughter of Eden by Chris Beckett, Corvus, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-782-39239-2.
This follows on from Dar Eden (which is greatly recommended) and Mother of Eden. The trilogy concludes with the two tribes going to war.

Good Morning, Midnight by Lilly Brooks-Dalton, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-476-00058-3.
When news of a catastrophic event reaches an Antarctic research station, everyone is evacuated. Meanwhile, in space mission control loses contact with an astronaut.

Morning Star by Pierce Brown, Hodder, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-444-75907-5.
The final in the 'Red Rising' trilogy sees revolt ferment in the mines of Mars and this could affect the prospects for the planet being terraformed…

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-01-473-62144-2.
A standalone sequel to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet which has had mixed reviews. Most seem to enjoy the characterisation/atmosphere (some greatly so) but a few felt the plot was lacking. In this sequel, Lovelace, the ship's artificial intelligence wakes up a new body but with no memory… Space: vast, confusing and very empty. For Lovelace, who was once a ship’s AI but is now a person in a brand new body, the universe has just gotten very large and very, very confusing. But, with her new friend Pepper by her side, Lovey will discover that the universe isn’t quite so empty as it seems…

Forsaken Skies by D. Nolan Clark, Orbit, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50747-7.
This is the start of a new space opera series. An armada emerges from deep space to a religious colony.

Babylon’s Ashes by James S. A. Corey, Orbit, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50426-1.
The Free Navy – a violent group of Belters in black-market military ships – has crippled the Earth and begun a campaign of piracy and violence among the outer planets. The colony ships heading for the thousand new worlds on the far side of the alien ring gates are easy prey, and no single navy remains strong enough to protect them.

The Stars Askew by Rjurik Davidson, Tor, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-28242-9.
This is the sequel to Unwrapped Sky.

Empires: The First Battle by Gavin Deas, Gollancz, £10.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21674-7.
A duology comprising of Empires: Extraction and Empires: Extinction concerning the invasion of Earth by two alien species.

The Tourist by Robert Dickinson, Redhook, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50815-3.
A time travel novel by a Brit author… It is getting quite a bit of publisher promotion. See the title link for a standalone review.

Survival Game by Gary Gibson, Tor, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-230-77277-9.
This is the follow-up to Extinction Game which Jonathan liked.

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, Gollancz, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21748-5.
This 1959 novel is one of the classic military SF novels of the 20th century is reprinted here as part of Gollancz SF Masterworks.  In the future a person has to earn the right for citizenship and so have the right to vote etc. One way to be granted the privileges of Citizenship is through having earned the right by fighting to protect society. It is also a future in which mankind no longer fights war among his own species but against aliens. And Johnny Rico has enrolled in the toughest and most efficient fighting force the world has ever seen. One enemy species in particular, a species of insect like hive/colony creatures, is in effect the ultimate communist race; an allusion the author himself refers to… And this novel is way better than the film (1997) as good as that was.  Click on the title link for a full standalone review.

Mortal Engines by Stanislaw Lem, Penguin Modern Classics, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 98-0-241-26907-7.
This is a welcome reprint of a collection of shorts from the late Polish SF grandmaster.

The Elements of Time by Duncan Lunan, The New Curiosity Shop, £9.49, pbk. ISBN 978-0-993-44135-6.
Collection of shorts covering 1971-2012. Many have previously been published in places like Analog and Asimov's (indeed one was a cover story): this collection brings them all together. The cover and artwork are by the wonderful Sydney (Jeff Hawke) Jordan. See also 'staff news' earlier.

The Corporation Wars: Insurgence by Ken MacLeod, Orbit, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50501-5.
Interstellar drone warfare, virtual reality and an AI revolution come together with the discovery of DH-17, an Earth-like planet hundreds of light years from human habitation. Ruthless corporations vie remotely over the prize, and war is in full swing. But soldiers recruited to fight in the extremities of deep space come with their own problems. This is the follow-up to The Corporation Wars: Dissidence.

Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald, Gollancz, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-473 20226-9.
The follow-up to Luna which our Mark liked (see title link).  Five corporate families are struggling ruthlessly for the control of a Moon colony that is mining untold riches. but open war has broken out between two of the families, and a blood debt is owed…

Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50628-9.
Admiral Ky Vatta should return to her childhood home a war hero, but on the way her shuttle is downed by sabotage. Marooned in a hostile landscape it’ll take every bit of wit, skill and luck she can muster to lead her fellow survivors to safety, knowing that the mysterious enemies who destroyed the ship are on the hunt, and may have an agent in the group ready to finish the job at any moment.

Replica by Lauren Oliver, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-61495-6.
Juvenile SF that may well also appeal to adult readers. Gemma and Lyra are two girls; rather one is a replica of the other. Read it one way and you get Gemma's story; turn it around and get Lyra's tale…. Reportedly the film rights have already been sold. Labelled a ‘sickly child’, Gemma’s lonely life has revolved around home, school and one best friend, Alice. But when she discovers her father’s connection to the top secret Haven research facility that is currently hitting the headlines, Gemma decides to go in search of the institute and some answers. Lyra – or number 24 – and a fellow experimental subject, 72, have managed to escape Haven. Encountering a world they never knew existed, they meet Gemma and, as they try to understand Haven’s purpose together, they uncover some Earth shattering secrets that will change their lives forever...

The Gradual by Christopher Priest, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20054-8.
A composer lives in a fascist state within a dreamy archipelago of islands. Set in the same universe as The Islanders.

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09053-8.
Space opera adventure. In an old star system containing millions of giant space stations (from ringworlds to mega-Clarkean space wheels and Banks-like orbitals, Adrana and Arafura Ness are bored and their father down on his fortunes. They are stuck at home, getting a proper education, when they believe they have the skills to survive in space, rubbing shoulders with scoundrels and cracking baubles for the untold treasures inside left over from ancient and long-gone species.  They are bold, capable and determined – with an eye on taking the worlds for themselves… Now, we like Reynolds a lot and don’t seem to have ever given him a bad stand-alone review no matter which of us reviews the man. So without our seeing this, we take it as read that this is recommended for fans of widescreen, hard-ish SF space opera.  Stop Press: Jonathan has just reviewed Revenger.

Waking Hell by Al Robertson, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20343-3.
Cyberpunk thriller SF and a return to the world of Station in the sequel to Crashing Heaven. In the future the after-life will be digitised.. On Station the dead live on, haunting the living as Fetches; digital ghosts drawn from the downloaded memories of the deceased. Now one woman must journey into the hard-drives to solve a murder, even as the gods of Station face the dawn of a new age…

The Lazarus War: Origins by Jamie Sawyer, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50549-7.
The third and final book of the Lazarus War. For someone who has died and come back as many times as Conrad Harris, the nickname Lazarus is well-deserved. His elite military team are specialists in death – running suicide missions in simulant bodies to combat the alien race known as the Krell.

The Damned Legion by Gavin G. Smith, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21725-6.
Four hundred years in the future, the most dangerous criminals are kept in suspended animation aboard prison ships and ‘rehabilitated’ in a shared virtual reality environment. but Miska Storrow, a thief and hacker with a background in black ops, has stolen one of these ships, the Hangman’s Daughter, and made of its crew her own indentured army: the bastard Legion.

Way Down Dark by J. P. Smythe, Hodder, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 98-1-444-9636-0.
Click on the title link for a standalone review. This is Way Down Dark's mass market paperback release. Should do well.

The Liberation by Ian Tregillis, Orbit, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50234-2.
Science-fantasy. Follows The Mechanical. I am the mechanical they named Jax. My kind was built to serve humankind, duty-bound to fulfil their every whim. But now our bonds are breaking, and my brothers and sisters are awakening. Our time has come. A new age is dawning. Set in a world that might have been, of mechanical men and alchemical dreams.

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente, Corsair, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-472-11515-7.
A documentary maker goes to Venus to investigate the disappearance of a diving colony.

Find Me by Laura van den Berg, Del Rey, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-785-03274-5.
Joy is addicted to cough syrup, and finds that she is immune to a global pandemic whose victims end up with memory loss… Things I will never forget: my name, my made-up birthday…The dark of the Hospital at night. My mother’s face, when she was young. Things other people will forget: where they come from, how old they are, the faces of the people they love. The right words for bowl and sunshine…What is a beginning and what is an end. Joy spends her days working the graveyard shift at a store outside Boston and nursing an addiction to cough syrup, an attempt to suppress her troubled past. But when a sickness that begins with silver blisters and memory loss and ends with death sweeps the country, Joy, for the first time in her life, seems to have an advantage: she is immune.

Crosstalk by Connie Willis, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20093-7.
Romance comedy SF. In a world just one technological step away from our own, a high-powered exec in the tech industry, Briddey has been with Trent for a magical six weeks. Now they plan to undergo a procedure to let them sense each other's feelings. With the office gossip firmly on the procedure, and a rival company poised to deliver an amazing new product, the race is on: for cutting-edge technology, for a shred of privacy, and for a chance at love through it all.

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, Gollancz, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21269-5.
This is a hugely welcome reprint as part of Gollancz’s SF Masterworks series of John Wyndham’s 1957 classic, that has been filmed twice as Village of the Damned.  A mysterious force renders the entire population of a village unconscious. Those outside are unaffected but approaching the settlement are rendered comatose. Then, after a while, everyone awakes… Though this is a strange occurrence, everyone gets on with their lives until, that is, it is discovered that all the women are pregnant… If you have not got this in your collection then do not pass up on this reasonably-priced hardback.

The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21800-0.
Wells’ 1901 novel reprinted as part of a new edition within the latest batch SF Gollancz’s Masterworks. After a somewhat shaky start, the novel settles down to a neat little adventure in which the discoverer of an antigravity material takes a trip to the Moon to find subterranean (or sub-Lunarian) aliens). Click on the title link for a standalone review.

The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells, Penguin Classics, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-241-26282-8.
Shipwreck survivors come across a Victorian researcher who is uplifting animals, imbuing them with a basic sentience… The grandfather of British SF, H. G. Wells is of course best known for The War of the Worlds.

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21797-3.
Wells’ 1901 novel reprinted as part of a new edition within SF Gollancz’s Masterworks. Brilliant, classic time travel story predictive of Einstein’s time as a fourth dimension within a space-time continuum. (Click on the title link for a standalone review.)

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21802-4.
The proverbial SF classic.  Written at the tail end of the nineteenth century, the story concerns a Victorian Englishman who gets caught up in, of all things, an invasion of Earth by Martians! All the action, and there is action, takes place on Earth with much of it centred on London and the Home Counties especially Surrey… (Click on the title link for a standalone review.)

The Great Science Fiction by H. G. Wells, Penguin Classics, £12.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-241-27749-2.
An omnibus edition of five of his greatest SF novels. Click on the title link for a standalone review.

The Book of the New Sun – Volume 1: Shadow and Claw by Gene Wolfe, £10.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21649-5.
Click on the title link for a standalone review. This is actually a duology consisting of books 1 and 2 of The Book of the New Sun combined into a single volume. If you have a sense of déjà vous then this is because this came out last year as part of Gollancz's 'Fantasy Masterworks' series and now is re-released in a new cover as part of Gollancz's 'SF Masterworks' series. Why? Well, this is a classic of science fiction that actually reads as a fantasy aside from the very occasional SFnal reference, so you have to pay attention to the backdrop. Do this and you realise that this is the Earth (Urth) in the far future in which the Earth itself has decayed into a more primitive and feudal society (compared to the largely unseen technological off-worlders). However the SF is there and comes more to the fore at the end of the final book (see immediately below).Both this book and the one immediately below, concern the torturer and executioner, Severian, who is exiled from the Citadel of the City Imperishable to Thrax, the City of Windowless Rooms, on the other side of the world. (He allowed a prisoner to commit suicide.) He carries only his sword, Terminus Est, and an extraterrestrial gem of indescribable power and discovers the truth of his time over four intriguing volumes, The Shadow of the Torturer (1980), The Claw of the Conciliator (1981) which came top of the annual Locus readers poll as well as winning a Nebula, The Sword of the Lictor (1982) which also topped the Locus poll in the ‘best fantasy novel’ category, and The Citadel of the Autarch (1983) which won the John W. Campbell Award. Collectively the tetralogy came joint 4th in the 1987/8 Concatenation readers’ poll (involving over a quarter of the 1987 Eastercon attendees) for all-time best novel. As with many similarly themed far futures, the pleasure is in discovering with the protagonist, Severian, the scientific underpinnings of his apparently fantastical world. While on the surface the world seems to have undergone a regression to an earlier age, and hence there is little obvious technology and society appears feudal, beneath appearances there are many devices under control of the Autarch and his staff. Throughout The Book of the New Sun, Wolfe uses an obscure but genuine vocabulary which makes the prose dense and difficult, which may be off-putting for some readers, but perseverance is rewarded by this fascinating and richly detailed story.

The Book of the New Sun – Volume 2: Sword and Citadel by Gene Wolfe, £10.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21200-8.
See above. This is actually a duology consisting of books 3 and 4 of The Book of the New Sun combined into a single volume.

  .

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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch, Gollancz, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13255-9.
In his 6th outing, Peter Grant is back as are Nightingale et al at the Folly and the various river gods, ghosts and spirits who attach themselves to England’s last wizard and the Met’s reluctant investigator of all things supernatural.

The Wield by Dan Abnett, Gollancz, £12.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21287-9.
An heroic dark ages fantasy about an elite warrior band. According to legend, The Wield was forged centuries before to defend against an ancient evil so awful that none are permitted to know of it. but when a new recruit unwittingly reawakens this dark and inhuman terror, the Wield must scour their histories for the means to defeat it, before all is lost to the darkness.

The Spider’s War by Daniel Abraham, Orbit, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50474-2.
Set in the 'Dagger and the Coin' universe. Lord Regent Geder Palliako’s great war has spilled across the world, nation after nation falling before the ancient priesthood and weapon of dragons. But even as conquest follows conquest, the final victory retreats before him like a mirage. Schism and revolt begin to erode the foundations of the empire, and the great conquest threatens to collapse into a permanent war of all against all.

Otherworld Chills by Kelley Armstrong, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50068-3.
Fantasy collection.

Winter Halo by Keri Arthur, Piatkus, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-349-40700-5.
Paranormal romance.

Chaosmage by Stephen Aryan, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50481-0.
Voechenka is a city under siege. Decimated by the Battlemage war, its dead now walk the city at night, attacking survivors, calling their names and begging the living to join them beyond the grave.

The Great ordeal by R. Scott Baker, Orbit, £13.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-841-49831-7.
The third in the 'Aspect Emperors' sequence followig The White-Luck Warrior.

Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley Beaulieu, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20304-4.
More mystery, prophecy and death within the ancient walled city of the Twelve Kings.

Of Sand and Malice Made by Bradley Beaulieu, Gollancz, £12.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21845-1.
Mystery, prophecy and death within the ancient walled city of the Twelve Kings. Çeda’s mission is partly complete… So now she must continue to uncover the riddles her mother has left – especially when those scattered clues are incomplete. See also the previous book above.

Chasing Embers by James Bennett, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50664-7.
There’s nothing special about Ben Garston. He’s just a guy with an attitude in a beaten-up leather jacket, drowning his sorrows about his ex in a downtown bar. Or so he’d have you believe. What Ben Garston can’t let you know is that he’s also known as Red Ben. He can’t let you know that the world of myth and legend isn’t as make-believe as you think, and it's his job to keep that a secret. And there’s no way he can let you can know what’s really hiding beneath his skin…

Of Sand and Malice Made by Bradley Beaulieu, Gollancz, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21845-1.
Prequel to Twelve Kings.

The Return of the Witch by Paula Brackston, Corsair, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-349-00260-6.
The paperback release of the long-awaited sequel to the bestselling The Witch’s Daughter. Tegan has travelled the world learning from all manner of witches, and she is no longer the awkward teenager and novice spellcaster she once was. However, her skills are no match for Gideon’s dark, vengeful power, and he succeeds in capturing her. Will Elizabeth be able to find her? Will they be able to defeat their nemesis once and for all?

The Day Before Forever by Anna Caltabiano, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20046-3.
Having escaped a mysterious killer at Henry VIII’s court, Miss Hatfield and Henley have fled to modern day London. But death is never far behind them… Can they reach the Fountain of Youth in time to make Henley immortal, and avoid death?

A Plague of Swords by Miles Cameron, Gollancz, £18.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20886-5.
Forget Sir Lancelot and tales of knightly exploits. This is dirty, bloody work. This is violent, visceral action. Set in a world of knights, chivalry, and where monsters of myth and legend roam the wilds, Gabriel Muriens is the Red knight; an infamous warrior who leads his own army of mercenaries. After surviving a siege, putting down a rebellion, and fighting in a tournament, the Red knight embarks upon his greatest adventure yet. Join a dragon-killing expedition, and help topple an empire.

The Stolen Child by Lisa Carey, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-474-60379-9.
Though this is mundane, literary fiction it does have genre gothic and fairytale undertones: it is vaguely reminiscent of Angela Carter. St Brigid’s Island lies off the west coast of Ireland, and by 1960, it is a community in decline. The government wants the island evacuated, but those who have refused to go cling hard to their traditions. Among them are sisters, Rose and Emer. Rose is beautiful and blessed with fertility and a loving husband, while Emer is unhappily married and blind in one eye following an attack by a swarm of bees when she was a child – an attack the islanders view as an act of malice by the spiritual Other World.

Imprudence by Gail Carriger, Orbit, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50180-2.
Rue and the crew of the Spotted Custard return from India with revelations that shake the foundations of England’s scientific community. Queen Victoria is not amused, the vampires are tetchy, and something is wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue’s best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most unacceptable military types… This is the follow-up to Prudence.

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter, Vintage Classics, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-784-87143-7.
A collection of Carter's short stories re-issued to coincide with the publication of her biography. Needless to say, very recommended for fantasy as well as fantasy/horror fans.

The Magic Toyshop Mug and Notebook by Angela Carter, Virago, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-349-00868-4.
A very welcome re-issue of Angela's novel.

The Dragon House by Elspeth Cooper, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-09623-3.
An epic fantasy from a new voice in the genre, whose debut novel in this series was shortlisted for the Best Fantasy Debut 2012 by the David Gemmell Awards. The Wild Hunt stands poised to attack, our heroes have been betrayed… and a goddess may be about to walk the Earth.

Poison City by Paul Crilly, Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-63158-8.
This is the first in a new crime series with an investigator working for an occult investigative unit of the S. African police. Billed as appealing to fans of Aaronovitch's Rivers of London.

The Return of the Witch by Paula Brackston, Corsair, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-349-00260-6.
The sequel to the The Witch’s Daughter. After five years in the Summerlands, Gideon has gained his freedom. Elizabeth knows he will go straight for Tegan, and that she must protect the girl she had come to regard as her own daughter. In the time since the dramatic night in Batchcombe woods, Tegan has travelled the world learning from all manner of witches, and she is no longer the awkward teenager and novice spellcaster she once was. However, her skills are no match for Gideon’s dark, vengeful power, and he succeeds in capturing her. Will Elizabeth be able to find her? Will they be able to defeat their nemesis once and for all?

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21257-2.
In Paris after the great magicians war three very different people will either save or ruin the House Silverspires. de Bodard has won Nebulas, a Locus and a BSFA Award.

Dracula's Blood by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle et al, Harper, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-008-19448-2.
23 vampire stories from a range of authors.

Dark Carousel by Christine Feeham, Piatkus, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-349-41026-5.
Virile vampires do their thing in this romantic fantasy. Expected to sell well in its target readership.

Dark Ghost by Christine Feeham, Piatkus, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-349-40568-1.
The vampire slayer, Andre Borei, is wounded…

Leopard's Fury by Christine Feeham, Piatkus, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-349-41038-8.
Paranormal romance.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Headline, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-472-23541-1.
This is a welcome reprint one and a half decades on from its original publication and is a special illustrated edition. Old Norse gods on an American road trip… Click on the title link for a standalone review.

The Path of the Hawk by Ian Graham, Orbit, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50693-7.
Twin novel omnibus that includes the previously published Monument. A band of elite warriors must track down a man once thought dead.

Crooked by Austin Grossman, Mulholland, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-444-73000-5.
An alternate take on 20th century politics with Richard Nixon's Watergate being given a supernatural twist and with the cold war including an occult arms race.

Ascendant's Rite by David Hair, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-784-29039-9.
This is the final in the 'Moontide' quartet.

Runemarks by Joanne Harris, Gollancz, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21704-1.
A reissue of Joanne Harris's first foray into fantasy fiction.  It has been five hundred years since the end of the world and society has rebuilt itself anew. The old Norse gods are no longer revered. Their tales have been banned. Magic is outlawed, and a new religion – the Order – has taken its place. In a remote valley in the north, fourteen-year-old Maddy Smith is shunned for the ruinmark on her hand – a sign associated with the bad Old Days. but what the villagers don’t know is that Maddy has skills. According to One-Eye, the secretive Outlander who is Maddy’s only real friend, her ruinmark – or runemark, as he calls it – is a sign of Chaos blood, magical powers and gods know what else.

Dark Paths by Markus Heitz, Jo Fletcher Books, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-752-06594-4.
A 'Legends of the Alfar' book that follows Righteous Fury and Devastating Hate that have attracted something of a following.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, Vintage, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-099-28847-3.
This is a welcome re-issue of Hill's classic ghost story and in time for Halloween…

The Dragon Lords: Fool’s Gold by Jon Hollins, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50765-1.
It’s not easy to live in a world ruled by dragons. The taxes are high and their control is complete. But for one group of bold misfits, it’s time to band together and steal back some of that wealth. No one said they were smart.

Horrorology by Stephen Jones (ed.), Jo Fletcher Books, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-782-06999-7.
Horror anthology with stories from Clive Barker, Kim Newman, Muriel Grey and Pat Cadigan among others.

Born of Defiance by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Piatkus, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-349-40276-5.
Paranormal romance.

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King, Hodder, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-69892-5.
Collection of shorts.

Pantomime by Laura Lam, Pan, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-509-80777-2.
This is the first in a trilogy whose protagonist is both male and female and has magical abilities.

The Complete Originia by Ursula K. LeGuin, Library of America, £25, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-598-53493-1.
This is the first publication of all the Originia stories in one volume. And LeGuin now becomes the second living author (alongside Philip Roth) in the Library of America Collection.

The Sun's Domain by Rebecca Levene, Hodder, £17.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-444-75379-0.
This is the third in the 'Hollow Gods' sequence.  Krishanjit is the long-lost son of a king and the fulfilment of a prophecy foretelling the return of the Moon god. But the army of the sun is allied against him, and Krish’s only hope to take his rightful place on the throne is to start a war. . . in the Sun’s domain, the distant desert of the Eternal Empire.

Who’s Afraid? by Maria Lewis, Piatkus, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-349-40897-2.
Urban romantic fantasy. Tommi Grayson’s never exactly been a normal girl. Bright blue hair, a mysterious past and barely controlled rage issues have a way of making a woman stand out. Yet she’s never come close to guessing who she really is… When her mother dies, a shattered Tommi decides to track down her estranged father. Leaving Scotland for a remote corner of New Zealand, she discovers the truth of her heritage – and it’s a whole lot more than merely human. Barely escaping with her life, now Tommi must return to her friends, pretending everything is normal, while all too aware of the dangers lurking outside – and within. Worse still, something has followed her home…

The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood, Jo Fletcher Books, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-8484-66990-1.
This is a kind of Victorian style faerie tale with a village lost in time. The advance pre-publicity sounds interesting.

The Cthulhu Casebook: Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove, Titan, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-783-29593-7.
Doyle's great detective comes up against Lovecraftian entities.

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay, Orion, £13.99, trdpbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-1-409-14351-2.
To those who say the world holds no more magic, I respectfully ask, are you certain of this? For this night, within the candlelit walls of a room near Madison Square, three witches are alive and well – one born of cunning, one born of ghosts, one born of wishes yet to be fulfilled. by divination, enchantment, spellcraft and seduction, they’ll carry out their work in the drawing room of a grand mansion on Fifth Avenue. Without the aid of a medium’s cabinet or false knocks on table or wall, they’ll peer into the future and call upon the dead. ‘Ready or not, it’s begun…’ This is a debut novel.

Iban Journey by Golda Mowe, Monsoon, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-462-2521-0
A fantasy based on the folklore of Borneo.

The Sight by Chloe Neill, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21536-8.
Two bounty hunters may be the answer to defeating an occult threat.

Angels of Music by Kim Newman, Titan, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-781-1-16568-3.
Beneath the Paris Opera House a group of female agents operate at the behest of the wealthy to investigate unusual and often hidden crimes…

Curiosity House: The Screaming Statue by Lauren Oliver & H. C. Chester, Hodder & Stoughton, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-444-77722-2.
Juvenile fantasy. Pippa, Sam, Thomas and Max are four amazing orphans with extraordinary abilities who have grown up in Dumfreys’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. But now their home is in danger of closing its doors forever. And their beloved friend, famous sculptor Siegfried Eckleberger, has been murdered. As they investigate, they find clues that his death may be tied to a rich and powerful New York heiress, as well as to their own pasts.

A City Dreaming by Adrian Polansky, Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-63425-1.
A New York layabout drifter gets caught up in a conflict between two queens. New York – the city where ordinary people live alongside demons and nightmares, completely unaware of them. New York is home to M, the man the monsters call when things get bad. And things are about to get really, really bad.

The Gradual by Christopher Priest, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20054-8.
The return to the world of the Dream Archipelago of The Islanders, a string of islands that no one can map or explain…  Alesandro Sussken is a composer, raised in a fascist state constantly at war. Occasionally Alesandro glimpses islands in the far distance which feed into his music. but all knowledge of the other islands is forbidden, until he is unexpectedly sent on a cultural tour. And what he discovers on his journey will change his perceptions of his country, his music, and the ways of the islands themselves.

Northern Lights: Vol 2 by Philip Pullman & Clement Ouberie, Random House, £12.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-857-53463-7.
This is the second volume in the graphic novel adaptation of His Dark Materials.

The Switch by Justina Robson, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-13406-5.
A science fantasy mix of mix of science, magic and politics.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, £30, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1408-84565-3.
Make that avid J. K. Rowling in your circle of friends and family really happy this Christmas with this special gift edition richly illustrated by Jim Kay. And if you really want to row the boat out then there is a limited, deluxe slip cased edition available at snip your for just £150.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I & II by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany, Little Brown, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-751-56535-5.
Actually this came out back in August but this was just too far ahead for last season's (April's) forthcoming book news.  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I & II is the eighth story set nineteen years later after the events in the last Potter book.  Based on an original new story by J. K. Rowling (recent news above), Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, for the new play by Jack Thorne. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage.  It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.  The Harry Potter series, published between 1997 and 2007, have sold over 450 million copies worldwide.  The Waterstones chain of bookshops said 140 of its shops hosted Potter parties on Saturday night following the play's official opening. At its London Piccadilly branch about 700 people dressed as witches and wizards and the chain's pre-orders for the book exceeded 100,000. Then, news came in as we were compiling this season's news page, the book's initial sales made it the fastest-selling UK book in a decade. It sold more than 680,000 copies in its first three days, beating Fifty Shades of Grey which sold 664,478 copies in a single week in 2012. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I & II script became the second biggest single-week sales for a book since UK commercial book sales (BookScan) records began!  By the end of July Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I & II had become the biggest selling mass market consumer book in the UK beating Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet by a trifling 700,000 copies.

The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan, Orbit, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50639-5.
Epic fantasy of exploration and adventure, spies and assassins, explosive magic and the battle for empire. For decades the lands of the Ironship Syndicate have been defended by the ‘blood blessed’ – men and women able to channel the powers contained in the potent blood of wild drakes. The loyalty of these elite spies and assassins has established the Syndicate’s position as the greatest power in the known world. Yet now a crisis looms.

Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-473-21803-1.
A collection of stories and novellas from fantasy's most talented writer, including tales from the Reckoners world, the Stormlight Archive and from the bestselling Mistborn universe.

Immortal Nights by Lynsay Sands, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-20507-9.
An Argeneau vampire novel. If there’s one thing guaranteed to take Abigail Forsythe’s mind off an empty bank account and abandoned dreams, it’s a naked man locked in a plane’s cargo hold. A very big, incredibly gorgeous naked man. When instinct prompts her to free him, Abigail must rely on this stranger for survival…

The Phantom Coach: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Ghost Stories by Michael Sims, Bloomsbury, £10.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-620-40805-6.
Includes stories by Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling.

Fair Rebel by Steph Swainston, Gollancz, £18.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-575-08169-7.
Swainston’s hero, Jant, is an enduring creation – the only man who can fly – drug addicted, egotistical, vain, messenger of the Emperor. And one of a circle of 50 immortals leading mankind in a war against an implacable foe. Like all the others Jant could lose his place in the circle and hence his immortality if he is bested by a challenger. This knowledge haunts him.

The Tiger and the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Pan, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-23457-9.
This is the start of a new series with a protagonist that can shape-change to become a wolf or a tiger.

The Story of Kullervo by J. R. R. Tolkien, Harper Collins, £60, pbk. ISBN 978-0-008-16672-4.
This edition comes in a deluxe slipcase. Kullervo is raised in a dark magician's house.

The Devil's Evidence by Simon Kurt Unsworth, Del Rey, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-091-5654-7.
A mix of crime and horror with a detective based in hell.

The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks, Orbit, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-356-50460-5.
The conclusion to 'the Lightbringer' series. Stripped of both magical and political power, the people he once ruled told he’s dead, and now imprisoned in his own magical dungeon, former Emperor Gavin Guile has no prospect of escape.

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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.

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[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

Aliens: Science from the Other Side by Jim Al-Khalili (ed.), Profile, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-781-25681-7.
Effectively this is an anthology of popular science, exobiological essays.

Zombies, Run! A Guide to Keeping Fit in Body and Mind During the Current Zombie Emergency by Naomi Alderman, Penguin, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-0-241-56644-2.

The Terry Pratchett Diary by Anonymous, Gollancz, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-473-20833-9.
Following our loss of Terry, and to celebrate his life and works, Gollancz have given over the Discworld Diary – which will be a perennial diary – to remembrances and tributes from some of those who knew and loved him and his extraordinary body of work. Featuring an introduction by his daughter Rhianna Pratchett and an afterword written by long-time friend and colleague Rob Wilkins, the Discworld Diary offers a more personal look at the life of one of the world’s best-loved authors.

The Mice Who Sing For Sex: And Other Weird Tales from the World of Science by Lliana Bird & Jack Lewis, Sphere, £14.99, hrdbk. 978-0-751-56467-9.
From the presenters of popular podcast Geek Chic’s Weird Science comes a book with the answers to all the scientific questions you never knew you should have asked. It tackles the strange and surreal phenomena from the depths of the oceans to the limits of the far-flung universe; the dark corners of your laundry basket to the forgotten compartments of your fridge. Packed with unusual facts and stories of the absurd.

Einstein’s Greatest Mistake: The Life of a Flawed Genius by David Bodanis, Little Brown, £20, hrdbk. 978-1-408-70809-5.
Widely considered the greatest genius of all time, Albert Einstein revolutionised our understanding of the cosmos with his general theory of relativity and helped to lead us into the atomic age. Yet in the final decades of his life he was also ignored by most working scientists, his ideas opposed by even his closest friends. This downfall can be traced to Einstein’s earliest successes and to personal qualities that were at first his best assets. Einstein’s imagination and self-confidence served him well as he sought to reveal the universe’s structure, but when it came to newer revelations in the field of quantum mechanics, these same traits undermined his quest for the ultimate truth.

A Doubters' Almanac by Ethan Canin, Bloomsbury, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-408-87964-1.
The biography of the mathematician Milo Andret.

What Colour is the Sun? Mind-bending facts in the Solar system by Brian Clegg, Icon, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-781-25681-7.
A must for devotees of the QI television series.

The Boy Who Played With Fusion by Tom Clynes, Faber Faber, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-571-29814-3.
How Taylor Watson became the youngest person to achieve fusion.

Are we Smart Enough to Know how Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal, Granta, £14.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-783-78304-5.
Biologist de Waal takes us on a tour of cognition from bats to octopuses via many other animals including cats and dogs.

Truths, Half Truths and Little White Lies by Nick Frost, Hodder & Stoughton, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-62088-9.
Autobiography of the actor whose films include: Shaun of the Dead, Attack the Block, Paul and The World's End.

Time Travel by James Gleick, Fourth Estate, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-007-54443-1.
This covers both the science and time travel's cultural manifestations including much SF.

The Scientific Secrets of Dr Who by Simon Guerrier & Marek Kukula, BBC Books, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-849-90939-6.
A very readable outline of the science that underpins the series together with illustrative micro-fiction Dr Who stories.  Click on the title link for a standalone review.

How to Make a Spaceship by Julian Guthrie, Bantam, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-593-07828-0.

Then: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK 1930-1980 by Rob Hansen, Ansible Editions, US$22.50, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-326-36675-9.
The British sercon trufan proverbial 'must have' charting Brit SF fandom's history through to 1980. Back then things were simpler: fandom was smaller, there were fewer and less attended conventions and the great divergence of cons being run only began towards the very end of this period with the first Shoestringcon and Unicon only just being covered. Then effectively charts the early history of the British SF community.  British fan history! It is a substantially expanded version of the fan edition produced over a decade ago, and this edition is produced to professional standards. So not surprisingly this is recommended. the text has been heavily revised throughout and expanded by more than 40,000 words, plus 300+ fan photos and dozens of fanzine cover scans not included in the original. How come the price is in US$? Well, logging in will get you a converted price and the US firm will POD produce copies in Britain and Australia (so no overseas shipping fees for these buyers). But the online ordering is bad news if you are part of over 10% of the UK population not into online commerce. Still, you may be able to order it through a specialist bookshop. A hardback at US$36.50 ISBN 978-1-326-75326-9 is also available as is the e-book.

The Intimate Universe by Marek Kukula, Quercus, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-784-29117-4.
How cosmology connects with us personally as individuals.

The Cradle of Humanity: How the changing landscape of Africa made us so smart by Mark Maslin, Oxford University Press, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-198-70452-2.
Why are we so smart? A large brain needs a high food intake to keep it running, and poses a danger at birth for both mother and child. So why did evolution favour big brains? This question has been widely debated among biological anthropologists. Mark Maslin and his colleagues have pioneered the theory that might just be the answer. Looking back to a crucial period some 1.9 million years ago, when brain capacity increased by as much as 80%, Maslin explores the implications of two adaptive responses by our ancestors to rapid climatic changes – big jaws and big brains. Central to this story is the formation and development of the enormous East Africa Rift Valley system. Its landscape was tough and unforgiving – yet it was the cradle of humanity. Maslin argues that the impact of changing landscapes and fluctuating climates led to the appearance of intermittent freshwater lakes in East Africa, and these may have played a key role in human evolution. Alongside the physical evidence of fossils and tools, he considers social theories of why a large, complex brain would have provided a major advantage when trying to survive in the constantly changing East African landscape.

The Planet Re-Made by Oliver Morten, Granta, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-783-78098-3.
Science journalist and regular fan at the British SF Eastercon, Oliver argues the case for considering geo-engineering as a way to combat global warming. He does so enthusiastically, perhaps more so than the realities – and risks – of geo-engineering warrant, but makes a fair fist of the argument that there are at least benefits for at least considering (researching) geo-engineering options. That geo-engineering has become a bit of an SF trope (think planetary terraforming for colonisation) lends this book extra appeal for SF fans especially those into hard SF and science.

How Long is Now? And 101 Other Questions You Never Thought To Ask by New Scientist, John Murray, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-473-62859-5.
Does what it says on the can. As regards the principal title question – how long is now? The short answer is apparently 2 to 3 seconds! (And there we were thinking about Planck time…)

The Impossible Zoo: An encyclopaedia of fabulous beasts and mythical monsters by Leo Ruickbie, Robinson, £14.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-472-13644-2.
From mermaids to sea serpents, unicorns to griffins and Bigfoot to the Loch Ness Monster, our world has always been full of fabulous beasts, fantastical creatures and mysterious monsters. The Impossible Zoo holds their secrets. From the Abominable Snowman to the Japanese Zuiyo-Maru Monster, it casts its net wide to include monsters from legend, folklore and travellers’ tales across all cultures throughout history to create a truly fantastic encyclopaedia. It draws on the latest research in mythology, folklore and cryptozoology.

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes by Adam Rutherford, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-297-60937-7.
Since scientists first read the human genome in 2001 it has been subject to all sorts of claims, counterclaims and myths. Drawing together the latest discoveries in this rapidly changing area of science, Adam Rutherford shows that in fact our genomes should be read not like instruction manuals, but more like epic poems. Genes determine less than we have been led to believe about us as individuals, but vastly more about us as a species. In this captivating journey through the expanding landscape of genetics, written with great clarity and wit, Adam Rutherford reveals what our genes now tell us about human history and what history tells us about our genes.

Calculating the Cosmos: How Mathematics Unveils the Universe by Iain Stewart, Profile £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-781-25431-8.
The brilliant Iain is known for his co-authoring (with Jack Cohen) the 'Science of Discworld' books. here he takes us on a tour encompassing Babylon, the Big Bang, space-time and quantum theory.

All These Worlds Are Yours: The scientific search for alien life by John Willis, Yale, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-300-20869-6.
This explores five categories of scenario from microbes in a Mars-type subsoil, through organisms in an Europa type ocean to exo-Earths.

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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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Pan Macmillan, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-509-80831-1.
The book of the classic first season of the BBC Radio 4 show and subsequent TV series. Click on the title link for a standalone review.

The Walking Dead: Search and Destroy by Jay Bonansinga, Pan, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-447-27578-7.
More zombie mayhem with the 7th in the series that includes The Walking Dead – Rise of the Governor and The Fall of the Governor.

Batman: Facts and Stats from the Classic TV Series by Joe Desris, Titan, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-783-29469-5.
Much background for fans of the 1960s, Adam West, television series: Batman at its most fun.

Star Wars: Battlefront – Twilight Company by Alex Freed, Arrow, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-784-75004-6.
This is released as a companion to the new computer video game.

The Walking Bread by Rick Grain, £9.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-409-16604-7.
Fans who have been hungrily devouring The walking Deadseries for the past five years will be dying to get their hands, and jaws, on this new pun-tastic, post-apocalyptic instalment that features edible recipes inspired by key moments on the show, such as Daryl’s Cereal bars, Carol’s Tough Nut Cookies and Rick’s Ribs. Don your apron (and your eye patch) and prepare for the very best of dystopian cooking.

Tarzan on Film by Scott Tracy Griffin, Titan, £29.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-857-68568-1.
Younger readers may not realise that between 1914 and 1965 Edgar Rice Burroughs penned over a score of very popular novels concerning a sole child survivor (son of an English aristocrat) of a plane crash in the jungle. Raised by apes, he could speak with them and had an affinity with many jungle animals as well as an athletic almost acrobatic ability in the jungles trees. This in itself endowed the novels with a fantastical element. Further fantasy tropes frequented the stories including lost civilisations, mystical encounters and so forth. Not surprisingly, the novels' popularity meant that a transference to the big screen was virtually inevitable and, over the decades, there have been many actors playing this protagonist.

The Science of Game of Thrones by Helen Keen, Coronet, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-473-63231-8.
Does what it says on the tin. Do dragons actually exist? What really happened when royal families interbred? How does wildfire win wars? Can you really kill someone with molten gold? Pour yourself a bowl of brown, climb on your beast of burden, and prepare yourself for an amazing adventure. It’s time to see the Seven Kingdoms as you have never seen them before.

Whographics: An Infographic Guide to Space and Time by Steve O'Brian, Simon Guerrier and Ben Morris, BBC Books, hrdbk, £16.99, ISBN 978-1-785-94062-0.
A fun, visual guide to Dr Who. Suggested for Who fans for Christmas.

Dr Who: The Whoniverse by Justin Richards, BBC Books, £25, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-785-94061-3.
Richly illustrated.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J. K. Rowling, Little Brown, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-408-70898-9.
Newt Scamander must track down magical creatures in 1926 New York. This is timed to come out around the time of the film's release 18th November (2016). No surprises that this will fly off the bookshop shelves as if by magic…

Star Trek: 50 Artists, 50 Years Titan, hrdbk, £24.99. ISBN 978-1-785-69116-8.
As this year (2016) sees the 50 anniversary of Star Trek this is a timely publication covering much artwork relating to the show. This includes not just photographs and pictures but sculptures and other art forms too.

 

[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

SELECTED FORTHCOMING DVD RELEASES

Game of Thrones - Season 6 DVD £27.99 from Warner Home Video.
The complete sixth season of the HBO medieval fantasy drama based on the bestselling novel series 'A Song of Ice and Fire' by George R. R. Martin. The season follows the battle between the Starks and the other noble families of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros to gain control of the Iron Throne. (Trailer here.)

Ghostbusters (2016) DVD £9.99 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Four disc set. (Trailer here.)

The 100 - Season 3 DVD £27.99 from Warner Home Video.
Four disc set. (Trailer here.)

The Man Who Fell To Earth (40th Anniversary) DVD £11.50 from StudioCanal.
Film of the novel starring David Bowie. An alien from a drought-stricken world arrives on Earth and sets about establishing a technological conglomerate so as to fund his space mission return home. But some suspect the technolgy being produced… (Trailer here.)

The Martian: Extended Edition DVD £19.99 / Blu-Ray 27.99 from Fox.
The rather good film of the excellent book by Andy Weir, concerning an astronaut accidentally left behind on Mars.  Unfortunately, though Ridley Scott said he had half an hour of extra material this 'extended edition' only has an extra ten minutes worth of material. Given the various versions of Alien and Blade Runner from Ridley Scott, we are half tempted to advise you to wait for a year before buying in case anything else comes out (and even if it doesn't the price of this will go down). The Martian film this summer received a Hugo and Andy Weir a Campbell Award.  (Trailer here.)

The Summerland Project DVD £15.99 from StudioCanal.
When an aneurysm leaves his wife bedridden and slowly dying, a desperate man turns to an experimental program that will place her mind in a new, artificial body. But is the result really the woman he loves? Or is it something else entirely? (Trailer here.)

12 Monkeys - Season 2 Blu-Ray £24.99 from Universal Pictures.
(Trailer here.)

Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977) Dual format DVD £19.99 from Eureka Entertainment.
A team of criminals/terrorists take over a nuclear missile silo, but are they who they seem? Yes, this is a film that is nearly four decades old but it caused a bit of a stir when it originally came out. Stars Burt Lancaster and Richard Widmark. (Trailer here.)

  .

See also our short film and video download tips above.

To see what films we can expect this year, 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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

R.I.P.

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

Kenny Baker, the British actor, has died aged 81. He is most recognised for his role in the film Time Bandits (1980) but most famous for playing R2-D2 in the original Star Wars trilogy and was a consultant for that role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Star Wars' creator, George Lucas, said Baker was "a real gentleman" and Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker in the films, said he had lost "a lifelong friend".

Andre Brahic, the French scientist, has died aged 73. In his work with the Commission for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies in Paris and as a professor at the University of Paris, he helped carry out research into the solar system through NASA and European unmanned missions. He was the co-discoverer (with American astronomer William Hubbard) of the rings of Neptune in 1984 naming them Equality, Fraternity and Liberty after the motto of the French Republic. In a tribute, French President Francois Hollande said Brahic had known "how to easily explain the mysteries of space". He was a populariser of science and once said science "could make the eyes of small children light up". Asteroid 3488 is named Brahic.

Jerome Bruner, the US psychologist, has died aged 100. During World War II, Bruner served on the Psychological Warfare Division of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force committee under General Dwight D. Eisenhower, researching social psychological phenomena. After the war he became one of the pioneers of cognitive psychology and showed that perceptions varied with people's backgrounds. he then turned to developmental psychology and coined the term 'scaffolding' to describe the way children often build on the information they have already mastered. In 2002 the Review of General Psychology ranked Bruner as the 28th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

Michel Butor, the French writer and philosopher, has died aged 89. He is noted for developing the nouveau roman, though Butor himself distances himself from that claim. He touched upon SF through a notable critique of Jules Verne and also an essay on SF: 'The Crisis in the Growth of Science Fiction' appeared along with 'The Golden Age in Jules Verne' as reprints in Inventory (a collection translated in 1968).

Jill Calvert, the theatre artist and book illustrator, has died aged 63. Formerly Jill Moorcock, she did the covers and interiors on a few of Michael's books.

Stephanie Clarkson, the N. American fan, has died aged 46. She started going to conventions in 1992 in her early twenties and went on to contribute to convention running including organising disabled access for the 2003 Canadian Worldcon, Torcon 3 in Toronto.

Maurice G. Dantec, the Canadian SF writer, has died too young at 57. French born, he became Canadian in 1998 living in Quebec. His first novel was crime but his second, Les Racines du Mal [The Roots of Evil] (1995) borders on cyberpunk winning France's Prix de l'Imaginaire award. This was quickly followed by another cyberpunk novel the same year: Là où Tombent les Anges [Where the Angels fall]. He is best known in Anglophone nations for Babylon Babies but only because it was adapted for film as Babylon A.D., starring Vin Diesel. He was also an established musician coining the term 'Hard Muzak'.

Jerry Doyle, the US actor has died aged 60. He is known in the US as a radio talk show host but is best known in SF circles as the actor who played Michael Garibaldi in the SF space opera TV series Babylon 5 (1993-1999).  He was also known as a Distinguished Supporter of the Nation's Space Programme.

Katherine Dunn, the US reporter who was also a horror writer, has died aged 70. She is arguably best known for Geek Love (1989) that was shortlisted for a Bram Stoker Award.

Ed Dravecky III, the US conrunner has died aged 47 at the 2016 WhoFest. He was a co-founder of WhoFest and FenCon and involved in conrunning generally including, recently running the social media for the LoneStarCon 3 Worldcon.  He worked for over a dozen years as a radio DJ before working on developing software for radio use. He also worked on Wikipedia as an editor and an administrator.  At the 2016 WhoFest, when he did not show for a programme item his girlfriend went to his room and found him unresponsive. He was rushed to hospital but could not be saved. It is thought he did not suffer any pain.

Helen Edwards, the US physicist, has died aged 80. She is best known for overseeing the design, construction, commissioning and operation of the Tevatron, which for 25 years was the most powerful particle collider in the world, at Fermi Lab. The Tevatron began operations in 1983 and ceased functioning in 2011. Her work on the Tevatron earned her the MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the Genius Grant, in 1988 and the National Medal of Technology in 1989. She also received the Department of Energy’s E.O. Lawrence Award and the Robert R. Wilson Prize of the American Physical Society (the US equivalent of the Institute of Physics).

Harry Elderfield FGS, the British geoscientist, has died aged 73. He is noted for elucidating how rare Earth elements could be used to identify different water masses in the ocean hence ocean circulation and, from isotopes in old rocks, past ocean circulation. He also developed a way using magnesium to calcium isotope ratios in the shells of foraminifera (ocean dwelling, calcium-shelled single-celled plankton organisms) could be used to determine the temperature of the water in which they grew. This was particularly useful as forams' 18O to 16O ratios is one common way to estimate the past temperature of oceans in a warm (largely ice free) world or, conversely, in a cool world (like ours now with Greenland and Antarctic ice) to determine how much ice there is: you can't do both with oxygen isotopes alone. Elderfield's magnesium-to-calcium isotope ratio technique is therefore valuable in looking at formam sediments from icy times' past ocean temperatures. Harry Elderfield's team was also part of the science cruise in 1985 that found the mid-Atlantic TAG vent; this was the first vent discovered in any slow-spreading, mid-ocean ridge.

Nicholas Fisk, the British SF writer, has died aged 92.  He is best known for his juvenile SF and wrote around two score of books. He is arguably best known for Space Hostages (1967), Grinny (1973) that was animated as an episode of CBS Storybreak, Time Trap (1976), the latter being adapted into a Danish film, and Monster Maker (1979) that was adapted into a 45-minute television special of the same name.  His last book was Bruce Coville's UFOs (2000).

Lars Gustafsson, the Swedish poet and novelist, has died aged 79 has died after a short illness. He had been a fanatic fan as a precocious child, and read Sweden's Jules Verne-Magasinet when it was published, from late 1940 through early 1947, when Lars was from five to ten years old. His Death of a Beekeeper (1978) is his most critically acclaimed and commercially successful novel and concerns a beekeeper dying of cancer. It SFnal content is subdued, with time shifts, doubled identities, alternate histories, and glimpses of alternate futures. The stand-alone 'The Third Castling of Bernard Foy' (1983) was SF. It is a multi-layered novel about the efforts of a US-Israeli agent (though perhaps he may also be a figment in the imagination of a Stockholm high school student, or a character in a novel by an elderly member of the Swedish academy wanting to write an anti-nuclear weapons novel). In 1989, Lars published the short story collection The Strange Beast from the North and other Science Fiction Tales, his single most obvious genre work where he retells and tries to improve on numerous classical SF themes. Editor John-Henri Holmberg made it a main selection in a book club series possibly making it his most sold book, since the print run for it was in excess of a hundred thousand copies (a large run by British standards let alone Sweden's). Lars Gustafsson for close to 60 years was a major Swedish author and intellectual, one of the country's most influential debaters and writers, as well as a practitioner of speculative fiction and sometimes attendee of Swedish conventions.

Guy Hamilton, the British film director, has died aged 93. In genre terms his most notable films include the techno-thriller, James Bond Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973) and The Man With the Golden Gun (1974).

Ilka Hanski, the Finnish ecologist, has died aged 63. He is known for his work on metapopulations. A metapopulation can be considered to be the total population of constituent sub-populations inhabiting loosely connected environments. And so metapopulation analysis is useful for looking at populations of, say, a network of small woodland areas in an agricultural landscape, or gardens within cities, or a group of islands in the ocean off the shore of a continent. Such work is useful for biological conservation. He was awarded the esteemed Crafoord Prize in biosciences 2011. Having been diagnosed with cancer in 2014, Ilka set down to write his last book, Messages From Islands: A Global Biodiversity Tour which is due to be published in December (2016).

Robin Hardy, the British author and film director, has died aged 86. By far his biggest legacy was the 1973 classic horror The Wicker Man. He began his career in the 1960s in Canada and the US, where he directed episodes for "Esso World Theater", a programme about cultures around the world. He found steady work in commercials and educational films. He wrote several novels, the most successful being The Education of Don Juan. He founded Hardy & Sons, a production company that specialized in historical dramas, which was eventually headed by his son, TV director Justin Hardy.  Robin Hardy began his directorial career in Canada with the National Film Board of Canada, and then the US where he made television drama programmes. He moved back to Britain, to London, in the 1960s where he made commercials and informational films for the Hardy Shaffer Ferguson Avery, an organisation he co-founded with the writer Anthony Shaffer. He was a Guest of Honour at the 1995 Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester.

Peter Janson-Smith, the British author agent, has died aged 93. Among those he represented were Ian Flemming and Anthony Burgess.

Mike Jencevice, the US fan, has died aged 60. He was a longstanding president of the media SF club Queen to Queen’s Three (an original series Star Trek reference), published the fanzine Trilevel, and for three decades ran the dealers room at Windycon. He was an associate chair for Chicon 2000.

Walter Kohn, the Austrian turned US physicist, has died aged 93.  He made significant contributions to semiconductor physics, which led to his award of the Oliver E. Buckley Prize by the American Physical Society. With Lu Jeu Sham, he developed what came to be Kohn-Sham equations that in turn were to be employed as standard work horse of modern materials science and even used in quantum theories of plasmas.

Sir Tom Kibble FIPhys, the British physicist, has died aged 83. He is most noted for, with the Nobel laureate Peter Higgs, elucidating the 'Higgs-Kibble mechanism' for giving mass to the fundamental particles of the universe. His personal contribution to theorising this mechanism, half a century ago, led to Nobel physics prizes on three occasions. However he has never garnered a Nobel himself though Nobel-winning Peter Higgs himself said (when Sir Tom was knighted) that he should have been so honoured.  In 1964 Gerald Guralnik and Richard Hagen with Tom Kibble wrote a paper that outlined what would become known as the 'Higgs-Kibble mechanism'.  Unfortunately, their idea had been independently elucidated weeks earlier, not once, but twice; first, by Robert Brout and François Englert in Belgium, and then by Peter Higgs. Peter Higgs alone drew attention to a crucial implications: the existence of a novel particle that became known as the 'Higgs boson'.  This particle was detected at Europe's CERN in 2012.  Steven Weinberg applied the theory to further understanding of the 'weak nuclear force' that in turn led to a Nobel for Weinberg and two colleagues in 1079.  Gerard ’t Hooft and Martinus Veltman received a Nobel prize in 1999 for applying Kibble's work to weak and electromagnetic forces. In addition to his professional work, he also helped coordinated scientists speaking out against the nuclear arms race.  +++ Since his death Prof Sir Tom Kibble has been posthumously awarded The Isaac Newton Medal by the Institute of Physics (Britain's professional body for physicists) for his outstanding lifelong commitment to the field. The Isaac Newton Medal is the highest UK honour specifically for physics.

Harry Kroto FRSC, the British chemist, has died age 76. His parent originally came from mainland Europe but came to Britain fleeing the Nazis.  He spent a large part of his career at the University of Sussex (Britain) and then at the Florida State University (USA) which he joined in 2004 as a Professor of Chemistry. His achievements include synthesising the first phosphaalkenes (compounds with carbon phosphorus double bonds). He is most famous for co-discovering an allotrope of carbon C60 that existed as a ball: it became known as buckminsterfullerene after the architect Buckminster Fuller who had conceived geodesic domes whose structure was somewhat reminiscent of half a C60 fullerene molecule. He shared a Nobel Prize in 1996 with Robert Curl and Richard Smalley for the discovery of fullerenes. He was active promoting science and campaigning on science policy issues (especially against the closure of university chemistry departments at the University of Hertfordshire (formerly Hatfield Polytechnic) and Exeter University. With regards to the wider world, in 2003 – prior to the Blair/Bush invasion of Iraq on the pretext that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction – Kroto initiated and organised the publication of a letter to be signed by a dozen UK Nobel Laureates and published in The Times. In 2003 he was one of 22 Nobel Laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto.

Burt Kwouk, the British actor of oriental descent, has died aged 85. He is most famous in fantastic film terms for his role in the Pink Panther series of films with Peter Sellars playing the detectives butler, Cato Fong. However he played numerous roles on both film and TV and those that were genre related included: Lin Futu in Doctor Who (1982) 'Four to Doomsday'; Fu Manchu's servant in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980); Matsu Tan in The Tomorrow People (1978) 'The Lost Gods'; Rollerball (1975) as a Japanese doctor; a Chinese Major in The Champions series (1968); four bit parts in the series Danger Man (1961-7); three bit parts in the series The Avengers (1961-5); Tai in Curse of the Fly (1965); and Mr Ling in Goldfinger (1964).  He was a Guest of Honour at the 2006 Festival of Fantastic Films.

Gary Marshall, the US actor, director, producer, writer, voice artist, and comedian, has died aged 81. He is best known for creating the 1970s show Happy Days that was set in the 1950s. SFnally he created the comedy SF show Mork & Mindy about an alien, Mork (played by Robin Williams), sent to observe Earth and who lives with a young woman, Mindy. Nanu nanu.

Brian Moss, the British ecologist, has died aged 73. He worked on freshwater systems specialising in shallow bodies of water such as the Norfolk Broads. There his work led to the removal of phosphate from a number of the Broads waste water treatment works. He has been President of the British Phycological Society, Vice-president of the British Ecological Society, and both Vice-president and President of the International Society for Limnology. For seven years from 1981 he edited the Journal of Ecology -- the world's leading specialist ecological journal – for the British Ecological Society. He also late in life took up playing the double bass.

Robert [Bob] Paine, the US ecologist, has died aged 83. He is very well known in ecology internationally for working on starfish coining the term 'keystone species'. 'Keystone species' reference mainly predators whose effects indirectly maintain the diversity, structure, and functioning of ecological communities. He also made significant contributions to the study of on food webs, patch dynamics, the non-equilibrium dynamic nature of communities, and the implications for biodiversity conservation.

Robert C. Peterson, the US fan, has died aged 94. His activities included being an SF bibliographer of 1940s authors. In 1994 he was elected to the First Fandom Hall of Fame.

Fred Prophet, the US fan, has died aged 86. He was active in the Detroit Science Fiction League and Michigan Science Fantasy Society (MISFITS) after attending his first convention, the 11th Worldcon, in 1953. He went on to serve as the co-chair (with Roger Sims) of the 1959 Worldcon (Detention) in Detroit. He and Roger were appointed con-chairs Emeritus at Detcon1, the 2014 NASFiC.

Lloyd Shapley, the US mathematician, has died aged 92. His PhD thesis and post-doctoral work introduced the 'Shapley value' and the 'core solution' in game theory. In 2012 he won a Nobel in Economics with Alvin E. Roth for his work on game theory as applied to economics.

Robyn Sisman, the commissioning editor, has died aged 66. Born in the US, but spending much of her life in Britain, she worked at Oxford University Press before moving to J. M. Dent where she established Simon & Schuster's first fiction list. There she published J. G. Ballard reprints as well as a few other genre authors and also the first Interzone anthology. She also wrote her own (non-genre) fiction with half a dozen novels to her name.

Gareth Thomas, the British actor, has died aged 71. He is best known in genre terms for playing the lead protagonist in the first season of Blake's 7 (1978) and a cameo as the same in its last episode (1981). He also appeared in Star Maidens (1976) and Torchwood (2006) among other genre related offerings.

Alvin Toffler, the US writer, has died aged 87. Though a former associate editor of Fortune magazine, he is best known for his 1970 non-fiction book Future Shock that has sold over six million copies worldwide. Toffler coined the term 'future shock' to refer to what happens to a society when change happens too fast, which results in social confusion and normal decision-making processes breaking down. The book predicted a post-industrial society where many products are superseded by more developed versions before their useful lifetime expires, and expertise quickly becomes outdated necessitating lifelong learning and career change.  Future Shock has influenced science fiction notably including John Brunner's The Shockwave Rider (1975) which predicted what was effectively the internet, computer viruses ( Shockwave Rider called them 'phages') and ID theft. 2000AD has an occasional series of short SF graphic stories entitled Future Shocks and in its Dredd universe, those unable to cope with the future life envisioned in the Mega Cities and who go mad are called 'futsies'.

Roger Tsien, the molecular biologist, has died aged 64. He is best known for his work using a green fluorescent jellyfish protein that could be used to label molecules to track their expression and movement in living cells. In 2008 co-won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. This protein soon became a lab staple and, because of its visual use, a feature of a good number popular science TV programmes. It even appeared in SF including in one of SF² Concatenation's 'Best of Nature 'Futures' 'Ringing up Baby'.

Kit West, the British special effects creator, has died aged 80. His oeuvre of the genre-related films on which he has worked is impressive and include: The Kiss of the Vampire (1963); First Men in the Moon (1964); She (1985); Billion Dollar Brain (1967); Quatermass and the Pit (1967); Moon Zero Two (1969); Dracula (1974); Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) for which he won an Oscar; Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) for which he won a BAFTA; Dune (1984); Universal Soldier (1992); DragonHeart (1996); Kull the Conqueror (1997); the technothriller The Bourne Supremacy (2004); and Doom (2005).

Anton Yelchin, the US actor, has died tragically young aged 27 in a home accident when his car rolled down his sloping drive to pin him against a postal pillar box. Anton Yelchin was best known in genre terms for playing the character Pavel Chekov in the three re-boot Star Trek films the last of which was to be released the month following his demise.  Pavel Chekov was originally played by Walter Koenig in the original Star Trek series and spin-off films. Anton's other genre film appearances included in Terminator Salvation (2009), Fright Night (2011), Odd Thomas (2013) and Green Room (2015). He was slated to appear in the forthcoming Rememory.

Ahmed Zewail, the Egyptian chemist, has died aged 70. He is known for being the 'father' of femtochemistry – the chemistry taking place over very short timescales, typically 10-15 seconds (one femtosecond, hence the name).  In 1999, Ahmed Zewail received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his pioneering work in this field. His technique used flashes of laser light that last for a few femtoseconds. In 2011 he was awarded the Davy Medal from the Royal Society. Those attending his funeral included President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, a former President Adly Mansour and former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab. The funeral prayers were led by Ali Gomaa, former Grand Mufti of Egypt.

  .

[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 Forthcoming DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Autumn 2016

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

Germany's national SF convention merges SF with medicine. In case you missed it, see the earlier news item in the fandom subsection above.

Stephen Baxter the SF author kind of predicts the Earth-like planet around Proxima Centauri. He did this in his novel Proxima (2013). The Earth-like planet has only just been discovered. To be absolutely fair and clear, hints that Proxima Centauri may have an Earthlike planet first came in the years following 2000 up to 2008, but the researchers only returned using new equipment to look at this star this year, some htree years after Baxter's SF novel was published. (See Guillem Anglada-Escudé et al, 2016, A terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit around Proxima Centauri. Nature vol. 536 p437-440.) Baxter's fictional planet has water and is tidally locked. We do not yet know whther the real planet has water but it is in the star's habitable zone and so could in theory. It is also likely to be tidally locked.

Iain Banks' Culture incorporated into latest Space-X achievement. Space-X has successfully managed to land a rocket tail down onto one of two unmanned, robotic platforms. These platforms have been named after 'Culture' spaceships: 'Of Course I Still Love You' and 'Just Read the Instructions'.

And now we have a functioning nano-blade. Mono-atomic filaments, nanometre diameter wires and quantum blades are an established trope of science fiction, used in novels by Larry Niven to Robert Sawyer and Ian McDonald.  Now, Michael Teitell and Pei-Yu at the University of California at Los Angles and their team have developed a small, real-life nanoblade.  They have coated a micropette tip with a 100-nanometre-thick film of light-absorbing titanium. They then touched it lighly to a cell membrane and sent a laser pulse down the pipette to cause a small bubble in the cell's medium to quickly form and collapse at the tip's end. This punctures the cell membrane just big enough to allow the researchers to insert a mitochondria into the cell.  The bad news, the procedure works just 2% of the time; the good news, this is far better than other methods of mitochondria insertion into a cell.

We are getting even closer to mirror life. Amino acids come in two varieties (they are chiral): left and right handed depending on how atoms are arranged off the main carbon atom and in nature on Earth most are left handed. Similarly DNA can be left and right handed and in nature DNA twists like a right-handed screw. In theory it would be possible to have mirror-image life and indeed the idea has cropped up SF (such as James Blish's 1970 novel Spock Must Die).  So far we have quite easily made non-natural handed amino acids and we have also made short strands on non-naturally-handed (or mirror) DNA or RNA. To make non-naturally-handed large strands of DNA will require mirror enzyme of DNA polymerase. However synthesising large mirror proteins (such as enzymes including DNA polymerase) has been difficult. However the African swine fever virus is smaller at just 174 amino acid units. Now, Chinese researchers at Tsinghua University have used a mirror version of this polymerase to make mirror DNA (See Nature Chemistry DOI: 10.1038/nchem/2517; 2016.). Furthermore, they have demonstrated that a mix of normal and mirror amino acids and normal and mirror polymerase sees both normal and mirror DNA being created without each process getting in the way of the other.
          Why is all this important? Well, apart from the SFnal mirror universe implications as well as scientific curiosity, mirror biomolecules used as drugs will be less prone to being interfered with by a body's normal enzymes: so for one thing, there will be potential pharmaceutical benefits. The research may perhaps also help us understand why in nature chirality (handedness) is the way it is.

Krakens can be 66 (20 metres) feet long. Krakens (giant squid from the deep) have inspired much SF from Wyndham's 1953 novel to Miéville's 2013 book. Yet fewer than 500 of the creatures (genus Architeuthis) have been measured.  Charles Paxton of St Andrews University (Great Britain) have gone through the records many of which are only of part of the species' body. These relationships, and the variation between squid lengths and beak sizes, suggest that they may grow to some 66 feet and even be too large to be eaten by some of their predators such as sperm whales (Journal of Zoology doi.org/bhwq (2016)).

50 years on Nature recognises the value of Daniel Keyes' novel Flowers for Algernon. As we previously noted for 2016's SF anniversaries, the novel Flowers for Algernon was published half a century ago in 1966, however there was a previous short story (1959) that garnered a Hugo (1960).  The story concerns a bullied mental retard, Charly Gordon, who becomes the test subject for an IQ-boosting treatment.  It works and Charly becomes a super genius surpassing the project's scientists, but following the celebrations it transpires that the treatment's efficacy is only temporary and Charly slowly reverts.  The test mouse, Alrgernon, dies.  The story led to the Oscar-winning film directed by Ralph Nelson, starring Cliff Robertson (1968); there has also been a straight-to-video/DVD subsequent film.  The leading science journal Nature has an article on how the story has impacted on bioethics discussion. See nature.com/nature/journal/v536/n7617/full/536394a.html.

Nature celebrates Science Fiction. The week following the above Flowers for Algernon story, the weekly science journal Nature ran a special edition on SF on 8th September (2016).  In an introductory editorial Nature gives as its reason for the SF special as 2016 being the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 70th of H. G. Wells' death and 150th of his birth.  The special included an article on Wells as well as one on Star Trek. It also featured a special 'Futures' short with the first in this series as a graphic short (11 pages) rather than a one-page short story. Its cover artwork by Stephan Martiniere showed the Wellsian Martian tripods striding through a futuristic city cum spaceport.

Britain's veterinarians call for ban on homeopathy. Over a thousand vets – roughly 4% of UK's veterinarians – have signed a petition calling for the banning of the use of homeopathy on animals.  Homeopathy is not considered neither sound science nor efficacious by the scientific community at large – it is fictional science.  A 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on homeopathy said the remedies functioned no better than placebos and that the principles on which homeopathy was based were 'scientifically implausible', yet continues to be used.  Use on animals has an additional ethical dimension as they cannot give informed assent. It is thought that some 500 farmers and 40 vets provide homeopathic 'treatments'.  The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons responded saying 'homeopathy is currently accepted by society and recognised by UK medicines legislation, and does not, in itself, cause harm to animals'.  +++ Previously we reported on a mass homeopathic overdose demonstration.

Squishy robot built. A new fabrication strategy has been developed for constructing soft, autonomous robots. The US researchers have used this to construct a robot octopus composed of entirely soft parts mand controlled by microfluidic logic. Gas generated by fuel decomposition inflates fluidic networks. (See Wehner et al, 2016, Nature vol. 536, p451-455.).

A simple robot artificial intelligence (AI) has been constructed that can decide whether or not to inflict pain. It is called 'The First Law' after Isaac Asimov and the first of his three laws of robotics. The robot is capable of inflicting pain but has to decide first whether or not it will. It has been built by roboticist and artist Alexander Reben from the University of Berkeley(US).  'The First Law's' construction has sparked discussion as to whether or not AIs should be built with a kill switch.  A paper by Laurent Orseau (Google Deep Mind, London) and Stuart Armstrong (Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University) titled 'Safely Interruptible Agents' explores the case for a secure system to make sure an AI will not learn to prevent (or seek!) being interrupted by the environment or a human operator. +++ See also last season's news of an all-party Parliamentary Select Committee enquiry into AIs.

Artificial scripted film made. Filmmaker Oscar Sharp and his technologist collaborator Ross Goodwin has built a machine to write screenplays. Called 'Jetson' they gave it a database of hundreds of sci-fi TV and film scripts. They posted the resulting 8-minute film, Sunspring on YouTube.  The good news is that it looks like we are still safe from AI domination.

An artificial intelligence (AI) successfully defends a coastline in a simulation. The United States AI called Alpha did have a numerical advantage with four simulated defending jet fighters to use against two invading jets though the invaders had more sophisticated simulated weapons. Alpha was developed by the University of Cincinnati and defence company Psibernetix and was based on 'fuzzy logic' which runs a number of quick alternative optional scenarios before making a decision. The system also beat a real life opponent, a former jet fighter pilot. (See Ernest, N., et al, 2016, J. Def. Manag. vol 6 (1) 144.).

A Science Fiction film's promotional poster falsifies a city's factual skyline causing mass social media complaints. The forthcoming film Arrival has a promotional poster that adds Shanghai's Oriental Pearl Tower to the distinctive Hong Kong skyline. The new fictional skyline may well look more 21st century but given the tension's between the former British protectorate of Hong Kong and mainland China, it was not a wise move. The poster caused a social media outrage in Hong Kong under the hashtag '#HongKongisnotChina'. Hong Kong citizens are upset with China who had effectively nullified Hong Kong's democratic rights enshrined in a handover agreement between Britain and China: China has allowed democracy but has insisted that only China-approved candidates may appear on ballots. Hollywood's Paramount have released an amended picture.

A candidate extraterrestrial signal from a possible alien civilization causes a stir, before being ruled out. The signal was detected a year ago (May 2015) by the Ratan-600 radio telescope at the Zelenchukskaya observatory in the North Caucasus Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia, but was kept quiet. When the US-based SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute learned of it it began an investigation at the end of August (2016). The signal appeared to be coming from the system HD164595 in the constellation Hercules and some 94.4 light-years) from Earth. HD164595 is a main sequence, G2V star just like the Sun and known to have a Neptune-sized planet orbiting close to the star. However at the end of August (2016) Russian researchers announced that the signal was actually emanating from a Soviet military satellite that had not been entered into any of the satellite catalogues. No-one else has discerned the signal. Had the signal been genuine and from HD164595 then even if it was targeted at Earth it would have necessitated a power source many times humanity's own power consumption. If the signal was broadcast in all directions then energy would be required equivalent to a significant proportion of the star's output so making the civilisation Type II on the Kardashev scale.

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Autumn 2016

End Bits

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More science and SF news will be summarised in our Spring 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: Lise Andreasen and Lise Andreasen again passing on information from John-Henri Holmberg, Arno Behrend, Jan Butterworth, Graham Connor, Pierre Gevart, Marcin 'Alqua' Klak, Carolina Gomez Lagerlof, Peter Tyers, Tero Ykspetäjä and thanks also goes to Caroline Mullan for spreading the word to the Brit SF community on-line.  Additional thanks go to the veritable legion of others, including some Brits and other Europeans, quietly sending in views, pointers and unofficial personal comment and views who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, and finally thanks not least the very many representatives of SF groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk who sent in news and product (book, film, DVD and convention) information; these last get their thanks in having 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 2017 period – needs to be in before early-ish well before the Christmas/New Year gap in December 2016. News is especially sought concerns SF author news as well as that relating to national SF conventions: size, number of those attending, prizes and any special happenings.

To contact us see here and try to put something clearly science fictional in the subject line in case your message ends up being spam-filtered and needs rescuing.

We are coming up to our 30th anniversary next year (2017) and
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Our traffic between now and then will be a factor. So if you think our seasonal efforts are
worthwhile then do share with your followers, via your social media, blog etc., a link to this site.

Finally, some of us are looking forward to
seeing some of you at this autumn's Eurocon in Barcelona.

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


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