Science Fiction News
& Recent Science Review for the
Autumn 2022

(N.B. Our seasons relate to the northern hemisphere 'academic year'.)

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

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Autumn 2022

Editorial Comment & Staff Stuff

 

EDITORIAL COMMENT

The 2023 Worldcon in China may be cancelled! If, that is, the UN COP15 Convention on Biodiversity (CBD-COP15) changes are a portent.  The 2023 Worldcon in Chengdu China has had its problems, not least political controversy due to its Guests of Honours' support for political aggression, namely: China's Uyghur policy, Putin's war on Ukraine and apparent tacit support (being willing to share a platform with those of such views) thereof respectively.  However, these are not  the reasons the event may be cancelled.  China has a strict 'zero CoVID-19 policy that has meant that as soon as a number of cases are reported in a city, then that city is put into strict lockdown: this has already happened a number of times this year.  So, for instance, following discussions with China, on 21st June (2022) the United Nations announced that the CBD-COP15 meeting would no longer be held in Kumming, China, but be held instead 5th – 17th December (2022) in Montreal, Canada.  The risk of the CBD-COP running foul of, or even itself causing – with the international influx of thousands of participants – a mini CoVID outbreak so triggering, a strict lockdown in Kumming was real enough for the UN to make the change: it was considered a non-trivial risk.
          So, what here are the implications for the Chengdu SF Worldcon?  Well; like the 2022 CBD-COP15, the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon will see participants come together from all over the world as well as thousands from all over China itself.  The lockdown risks to both events are very similar.
          What this means is that it would be prudent, at the very least, for the Worldcon community to have a contingency plan.  Worldcons last for five days, arguably six or seven if some delegates arrive the day before for set-up and leave the day after following dead dogging, and this ignores any extra days doing tourism.  This is enough time for transmission and incubation for symptoms in some to become manifest let alone for tests to become positive. Participants at the event should therefore realise that they might be quarantined and prevented from travel and so should come prepared in case they are caught up in a lockdown.  In addition, in case China itself decides it would be best not to host the event (as it did with the CBD-COP15), it would be an idea (if not prudent and wise) to plan for a back-up venue outside of China. Here, perhaps the simplest solution would be for the 2023 NASFiC (the North American convention held the years when Worldcon is not venued on that continent) to prepare to pivot at short notice and host the Worldcon.
          This would not be as difficult as it might at first seem. All the key elements – guests, venue, accommodation etc. -- would already be in place for the NASFiC. The key contingency would be the Hugo Awards ceremony and the Hugo Party. The NASFiC could programme a repeat showing of a film in its largest hall for the Sunday evening and use that programme slot for the Hugos should it need to pivot. The NASFiC might offer the Hugo party's sponsor the past decade a free membership and assistance with identifying a party venue. And that really need be it. The rest could be arranged by those regularly associated with WSFS governance (the World SF Society being the body under whose auspices the Hugo's are organised) and this would additionally include the WSFS business meeting.  That China's Chengdu team might be reluctant to transfer until it became absolutely clear that their event could not take place under a lockdown. But this would not stop the NASFiC from preparing for contingencies and a pivot, and so be ready should it be necessary.
          Of course, contingency planning is a hassle and so participants might gamble instead. As Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry might say, "Do you feel lucky?"
          Meanwhile, following the above being written in July-August following the UN CBD-COP15 change, at the beginning of September (2022) 25 million people in Chengdu, China, have been put in lockdown.  This is a portent if ever one should be needed, irrespective with what has already happened with the UN's CBD-COP15.

Other stories below in this seasonal news page include:
  - China is going the full 1984 (Western Chengdu Worldcon attendees note.)
  - The Russian SF author Dmitry Glukhovsky has been placed on Putin's Russia's wanted list.
  - There were two, mixed SFNAL responses over the summer to the illegal war by Russia with Ukraine.
  - The 2022 Worldcon supported the Ukraine, but ignored the Uyghurs' plight.
  - Uganda bids to hold Worldcon despite human rights concerns.

 

STAFF STUFF

BECCON 40+ years on.  BECCON was a series of biennial conventions in the 1980s: 1981, 1983, 1985 and the 1987 UK Eastercon. BECCON standing for the Basildon Essex Centre CONvention with 'Centre' becoming 'Crest' when the hotel changed its name. The 40th anniversary reunion would have taken place last year but was postponed due to CoVID. The gathering took place in Arlesey, Bedfordshire, where previous reunions had taken place so as to give one of BECCON's film projectionists, Graham Connor a fan experience (Graham had severe mobility issues several years prior to his passing and could not get to conventions). BECCON may be a thing of the past but those involved with it, for the most part, are still very active in fandom and BECCON did spawn two spin-out ventures still going today: Beccon Publications (a number of whose books have been short-listed for Hugos) and the SF² Concatenation (the winner of a number of Eurocon Awards). SF² Concatenation's first edition came out at the 1987 BECCON.

Those present at the reunion were from far left and clockwise: John Stewart, Roger Robinson (Beccon Publications), Jenny Steele (sadly obscured), Brian Ameringen (Porcupine Books), Peter Tyers, Arthur Cruttenden, Caroline Mullan (2023 Eastercon committee), Anthony Heathcote and Jonathan Cowie (SF² Concatenation).

 

Elsewhere this issue…
Aside from this seasonal news page, elsewhere this issue (vol. 32 (5) Autumn 2022) we have stand-alone items on:-
          Batman – Cinematic portrayals – Mark Yon
          Ghost stories from Asia – Steven French
          My Top Ten Scientists – John. W. Armstrong (physicist & SF author)
          Is Science Destroying Itself ? – Jonathan Cowie
          Chillercon UK 2022 – Ian Hunter
          Reclamation – The 2022 British Eastercon – Arthur Chappell
          10 years ago. One from the archives: Unconventional - New Zealand's 2012 National Convention - June Young
          25 years ago. One from the archives: Lucien - The First Arab SF Mini-convention Reviewed – Kawthar Ayed
          Plus over forty (40!) SF/F/H standalone fiction book and non-fiction SF and popular science book reviews.  Hopefully something here for every science type who is into SF in this our 35th year. For full details of the latest contents see our What's New page.

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Autumn 2022

Key SF News & SF Awards

 

 

The 2022 Hugo Awards were announced at this year's Chicon 8 Worldcon.  This year, 2,235 final ballots were received more than in any previous year since 1953, except the 2014-2019 period, and 2021.
          Once again we are not listing all the results but only those categories for which a reasonable number of nomination votes. So, again as per last year, we are listing only those categories that have garnered over 500 nomination votes. Any category having less than 500 nominated votes becomes, as SF encyclopaedist Peter Nicholls put it, more of a popularity contest among Worldcon regulars than a principal category of interest to the broader SF community beyond the Worldcon. 
          The principal category Hugo wins this year therefore were:-
          Best Novel: A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine
          Best Novella: A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
          Best Short Story: 'Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather' by Sarah Pinsker
          Best (Book) Series: Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire
          Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form: Dune (trailer here)
          Other category (win information) (those categories with less than 500 nominating votes) can be found at thehugoawards.orgLast year's principal category Hugo winners here.

The Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the short-lists and winners for the 2022 Locus Awards. The short-lists were derived from the 1st February to 15th April voting done by readers on an open public ballot. The Locus Awards winners were announced 25th June 2022, during the virtual Locus Awards Weekend. Connie Willis was master of ceremonies for the awards ceremony. The principal category short-lists and winners are:-
Science Fiction Novel
          The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, Becky Chambers
          Leviathan Falls, James S. A. Corey
          The Echo Wife, Sarah Gailey
          Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro
          A Desolation Called Peace, Arkady Martine (WINNER)
          Noor, Nnedi Okorafor
          We Are Satellites, Sarah Pinsker
          You Sexy Thing, Cat Rambo
          Shards of Earth, Adrian Tchaikovsky
          Hummingbird Salamander, Jeff VanderMeer
Fantasy Novel
          Light From Uncommon Stars, Ryka Aoki
          The Witness for the Dead, Katherine Addison
          Black Water Sister, Zen Cho
          Paladin’s Strength, T. Kingfisher
          Under the Whispering Door, T. J. Klune
          Jade Legacy, Fonda Lee (WINNER)
          The Last Graduate, Naomi Novik
          Soulstar, C. L. Polk
          The Jasmine Throne, Tasha Suri
No Gods, No Monsters, Cadwell Turnbull
Non-Fiction
          Yesterday’s Tomorrows, Mike Ashley
          After Human: A Critical History of the Human in Science Fiction from Shelley to Le Guin, Thomas Connolly
          Roger Zelazny, F. Brett Cox
          Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy Through 1945: Immigrants in the Golden Age, Valerie Estelle Frankel
          Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw, Hua Li
          Gothic: An Illustrated History, Roger Luckhurst
          Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950–1985, Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre, eds. (WINNER)
          Diverse Futures: Science Fiction and Authors of Color, Joy Sanchez-Taylor
          You Are Not Your Writing & Other Sage Advice, Angela Slatter
          The Young H. G. Wells: Changing the World, Claire Tomalin
++++   The details of all the category short-lists can be found at locusmag.com.

The 36th Arthur C. Clarke Award short-list has been announced.  It is a juried award with a £2,022 cash prize. The short-list consists of:-
          - Deep Wheel Orcadia by Harry Josephine Giles
          - Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
          - A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine
          - A River Called Time by Courttia Newland
          - Wergen: The Alien Love War by Mercurio D. Rivera
          - Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley

The Nebula Awards have been announced.  From the previously announced short-list, the principal category wins, as voted by SF Writers of America, were:-
          Novel: A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark
          Novella: And What Can We Offer You Tonight by Premee Mohamed
          Novelette: 'O2 Arena' by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
Also presented was the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation the winner was WandaVision season 1
Details of all the category wins can be found at www.sfwa.org.  This year's full short list we reported last season.  +++ Last year's principal win Nebulas here.

The inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Award short-list has been announced.  It is a juried award with a US$25,000 (£21,800) cash prize that aims to honour book-length work of imaginative fiction. The winner will be announced later this year on 21st October, 2022, what would have been Ursula K. Le Guin’s birthday. The short-list consists of:-
          - After the Dragons by by Cynthia Zhang
In a future Beijing afflicted by a climate-induced disease, two young men are drawn to each other, and to the city’s dragons. Cynthia Zhang’s debut looks at climate and equity through the lens of connection – to each other and to the creatures whose world we share.
          - Appleseed by Matt Bell
In three braided stories, Matt Bell uses science fiction, myth, and fairytale in an exploration of how humanity moves both with and against the world. From two brothers seeding the land with apple trees to a distant future in which one lonely being crosses what’s left of North America after climate change.
          - Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky
On a distant planet, an anthropologist in a tower has become part of local mythology – a sorcerer with seemingly incredible powers that might help a Fourth Daughter against a threatening demon. Adrian Tchaikovsky gives equal weight to the way two very different people see their world, showing that both stories – science and myth – are true, and both necessary for survival.
          - The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century by Olga Ravn
Olga Ravn’s novella is told in a series of reports made by the crew – human and otherwise – of an intergenerational, deep space ship. The Employees is set in a world where productivity has subsumed everything else. There is only work, and what people find in or despite of it: curiosity, attachment to strange objects, and an unsettled relationship with their humanoid colleagues.
          - The House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber
Young Aisha sets out in the company of a talking cat and a boat made of bones to rescue her fisherman father. Khadija Abdalla Bajaber’s debut novel is grounded in a vivid sense of place and the way she continuously expands both Aisha’s world and her understanding of it – a world of leviathans, snake gods, and crows whose sharp eyes are on everyone.
          - How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu
In 2030, the Arctic plague rewrites the way people live. In How High We Go In the Dark, Sequoia Nagamatsu imagines what a world shaped by this plague might look like – funerary skyscrapers, a theme park for dying children, new uses for technology – and how humanity could still find love and human connection in it.
          - The Past Is Red by Catherynne M. Valente
Tetley Abednego lives on a garbage patch in the middle of the sea – one of the only liveable places left in a flooded world. Catherynne M. Valente’s post-apocalyptic world looks like no one else’s, and despite the hard parts of Tetley’s existence, she’s resilient, wise, and full of hope that we can still make a broken world into a home.
          - A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger
A cottonmouth kid making his way in a world of spirits and monsters and a Lipan girl from our near future find their lives intersecting in Darcie Little Badger’s gracefully told young adult novel about home, stories, family, friendship, and the interconnectedness of worlds.
          - Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil
In Michelle Ruiz Keil’s punk-rock fairytale, a girl goes looking for her runaway brother in 1990s Portland, Oregon. What both of them find in the vintage shops and secret corners of the city is something else: Transformation, understanding, and a world more varied and welcoming and strange than they knew.

The World Fantasy Awards short-list has been announced.  The principal category short-lists are:-
Novel
          - Black Water Sisterby Zen Cho
          - A Master of Djinnby P. Djeli Clark
          - The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros
          - The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
          - The Last House on Needless Streetby Catriona Ward
Anthology
          - Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World (2021 Edition) by Charlatan Bardot & Eric J. Guignard, eds.
          - When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson edited by Ellen Datlow
          - The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror Volume Two edited by Paula Guran
          - The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021) edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
          - Speculative Fiction for Dreamers: A Latinx Anthology edited by Alex Hernandez, Matthew David Goodwin & Sarah Rafael Garcia
Collection
          - Tales the Devil Told Meby Jen Fawkes
          - Big Dark Hole by Jeffrey Ford
          - Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan by Usman T. Malik
          - The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales by Angela Slatter
          - The Ghost Sequences by A.C. Wise
          - Never Have I Ever by Isabel Yap
The juried awards will be presented at the 2022 World Fantasy Convention, scheduled for 3rd – 6th November, 2022 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, in Louisiana..  ++++ The 2021 World Fantasy Award short-list is here.

The 2022 British Fantasy Awards nominations have been voted on my members of the British Fantasy Society and the category shortlists announced.  The shortlist for each category was decided upon by nominations submitted by British Fantasy Society members.  This year's principal category shortlists are:-
          Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award):-
                    The Black Coast by Mike Brooks
                    The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
                    She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
                    Sistersong by Lucy Holland
                    This is Our Undoing by Lorraine Wilson
                    The Unbroken by C. L. Clark
          Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award):-
                    The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig
                    A Broken Darkness by Premee Mohamed
                    A Dowry of Blood by S. T. Gibson
                    The Last House on Needless Street by Stephen Graham Jones
                    My Heart is a Chainsaw by Catriona Ward
                    Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw
The winners are to be decided upon by a different jury for each category and the winners of the above principal as well as other categories will be announced at this year's Fantasycon in September.  +++ Last year's winners are here.  Meanwhile there is a review of last year's British Fantasycon here.

The Horror Writers' Association Bram Stoker Awards were announced at the World Horror Convention.  The awards are named in honour of the author of the seminal horror novel Dracula. The principal category wins were:-
          Novel: My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
          Debut Novel: Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper
          Graphic Novel: The Inhabitant of the Lake by Alessandro Manzetti (writer), Stefano Cardoselli (artist)
Full details of all the category wins can be found at www.horror.org.  +++ Last year's principal category winners here.

Canada's Prix Aurora Awards have been announced at this year's Can-Con. The Prix Aurora Awards are voted on by members of Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA).  The principal category winners were:-
          Best Novel: Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee
          Best Juvenile Fiction Novel: Walking in Two Worlds by Wab Kinew
          Novelette/Novella: The Annual Migration of Clouds by Premee Mohamed
          Best Short Fiction: 'The Mathematics of Fairyland' by Phoebe Barton
          Best Visual Presentation: Dune

Iron Truth wins the inaugural Self-Published Science Fiction Competition. The Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, created by Hugh Howey and Duncan Swan, is modelled after Mark Lawrence’s fantasy cousin award. It cleverly assesses 300 submissions using ten teams of judges who are book bloggers. They read and scored the books through several elimination rounds. In the final round the top seven books were read by all judges. Iron Truth by S. A. Tholin is a military SF story. She is a Swedish author who studied English at Cambridge University.
          Iron Truth sees Joy who was supposed to wake from cryo-sleep and take her place as a biologist among 30,000 settlers coming to make a new world beautiful. Instead, she’s rousted half-alive on a different, inhospitable planet – Cato – where a previous colony ship arrived a long time ago but the good start its settlers made has gone bad. Why is Joy’s ship there?
          At 244,000 words, this is a Hamilton-sized novel that starts off as military SF but halfway through segues into an SF horror…

 

Other SF news includes:-

The Russian SF author Dmitry Glukhovsky has been placed on Putin's Russia's wanted list. Dmitry (the author of Metro 2033) has spoken out against Russia's illegal war with Ukraine. He faces prosecution for spreading ‘false information’ about the war in Ukraine – that is, calling it a war and condemning this as a bad thing. Russia's Interior Ministry's website listed Glukhovsky as wanted under an unspecified article of the criminal code. Russia has already targeted opposition figures and journalists with a law seeking jail terms of up to 15 years for those convicted of intentionally spreading "fake" news about Russia's military. The SF author is the first major cultural figure to be put on the wanted list due to the new law, adopted days after Russia sent troops into Ukraine on 24th February (2022). But he does have support from Russian opposition figures. Lyubov Sobol, an ally of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, wrote on Twitter: "Putin used to fear politicians, but now he fears writers too."  The team of another jailed opposition activist, Andrei Pivovarov, wrote on Twitter in response to Glukhovsky's addition to the wanted list: "The repression machine will roll everyone over."  In a post on the Telegram messaging app, Glukhovsky wrote that he stood accused of discrediting Russia's armed forces in an Instagram post. "I am ready to repeat everything said there: 'Stop the war! Admit that this is a war against an entire nation and stop it!'"  Being placed on the list is a badge of honour.

There were two, mixed SFNAL responses over the summer to the illegal war by Russia with Ukraine.  The first came from the Terminator franchise star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Calling for Europe to cease imports of Russian fossil fuel at the Austrian World Summit in Vienna, he said: "We have blood on our hands because we are financing the war."  The second was a lack of response from the Western Guest of Honour SF author (having put the Ukraine flag on his Facebook cover picture) at the forthcoming China Worldcon where who is happy to stand on a stage alongside a Russian author who has repeatedly avowed, and rallied other Russian authors to, support for Putin and his invasion as well as a Chinese author who supports his nations treatment of the Uyghur's.  The implication of both responses clearly signals that apparently it is OK to support Ukraine unless the said support inconveniences you in some way.
++++   Related news elsewhere China 2023 Worldcon spring 2022 news as well as:-
  – Horror Writers Association condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine
  – The Authors Guild condemns the invasion of Ukraine.
  – The SFWA did not originally want to take a stand on Ukrainian invasion but then changed its mind with a basic statement of support.
  – The European SF Society suspends Russia and Belarus.
  – Western science publishers are divided over Russian research paper ban

Romanian SF convention of the summer looked at climate change. AntareSFest 2022 was held in the Transylvanian city of Brasov at the start of September: a city surrounded by mountains. Since the Romanian Eurocons of 1994 and 2001, Romanian conventions have tended to be small affairs and this one saw around a score attend. This one was the 6th annual event organised by the Antares SF Society of Brasov. Its theme was rather fatalisticalIy titled 'Climate change, the end of mankind?' It was held in the George Baritiu public library with the support of the Brasov Council. One of the outputs was a number of short SF stories related to climate change and it is hoped an anthology will be published.

The 2022 Worldcon, Chicon 8, has been held. This was held in the Hyatt Regency, Chicago, US. As of two months before the convention there were 2,964 attending members, with other categories (such as child and non-attending supporters bringing up the pre-convention membership numbers to 4,878.  By the end of the convention there were about 6,500 total memberships all types. 3,574 warm bodies registered, about 500 of them walkins. Around a thousand had logged into the Airmeet site for virtual programme by mid-Monday's closing.  The programme largely consisted of panels but there were a good few talks (the programme items that see the best preparation, but sadly this was one of those Worldcons with no film programme, so no showcasing of SF cinema from around the World. (Tip of the hat to the 2010 Worldcon that had the best SF film programme of the past two decades. However, the science programme (which was particularly good) we cover in the next item below. And, of course, during the convention the Hugo Awards were presented.

The 2022 Worldcon's science programme. . With almost two-and-a-half times the number of science programme items at this year's Worldcon, Chicon III, than last year, the 2022 Worldcon made up for what was arguably the weakest SF Worldcon science programme of a decade in 2021.  Second, as important, this year's Worldcon's science programme has to be a first in roughly over two decades with non-astronomical and non-space science programme items outnumbering space related items: usually around half the science programme is space related, with physics, biology, chemistry, geoscience, engineering, computing, etc., having to be shoe-horned into the other half of the programme.  So, it's double a BIG thumbs up to this year's Worldcon's science programme organisers!  One, for bringing back science to Worldcon and two for the most balanced science programme in very many years.  As usual we list the convention's science programme items, in part for your information as to the cons SF and science interface, but also as an historical aid to Worldcon science programme organisers.
          Up first, the space related items:  'The Challenge of Orbital Debris';  'Living on Space Stations';  ''NASA's Psyche Mission: Electric Voyage to a Metal Asteroid';  'Re-engineering the Solar System' (science slanted towards the SF); What Is It with Desert (and Ocean) Planets'; 'Terraforming and Alien Life';  'Extraterrestrial Life on Inhospitable Worlds';  'A Brief History of Astronomical Devices'  'Big Rocket Economics';  'Why the World Needs Solar Power Satellites';  ' Geoffrey A. Landis' (limited number encounter with the physicist and SF author);  'Viewing the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse';  'What Will the Aliens Look Like?'.
          And the rest of science (non-space-related):  'Oops! Lab Disasters and What We Learn from Them'; 'Real Space Combat';    'Rising Oceans, Blurring Genres' (really a more climate in SF panel than climate science);  'Future Medicine: Getting From Here to There';  'The Emerging Challenge of Radio Frequency Noise';  'DNA Is Just a Code';  'A Trip Through Deep Time Session One' and 'Session Two' (limited attendance workshops);  'Improbable Research Dramatic Readings' (led by the founder of the Ig Nobel Prize);  ''Science: The Core of Science Fiction's Sense of Wonder';  'Table Talk - G. David Nordley' (science writer limited encounter session;  'Really Big Things (megastructures)';  'Playing in the Toolbox of Creation' (gene editing);  'Pig Hearts and Printed Organs: New Frontiers in Medicine';  'The Biology of Fantasy Creatures';  'Aliens Did Not Build the Pyramids' (archaeology);  'Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller';  'Ask a Scientist' (Q&A);  'A Technology That Changed Everything';  'Getting the "Cyber" Part Right';  'So You Want to Get a PhD (Science)';  'The Ecology Strikes Back';  'Cyborgs Are Now Us';  'Really Weird Science: An Intro to Real Quantum Computing';  'How "Hard" Can It Be?' (an SF-science interface panel);  Future Food';  'Brains Don't Work Like That';  'Scientists: Fiction vs. Reality';  'Should We Send Robots or People?' (space exploration);  'Science in Science Fiction: The Guesswork of 1946';  'What Science Fiction Gets Wrong About My Profession';  'Geologists and Cartographers Would Like a Word';  'Life Extension in Fact and Fiction';  'Synthetic Biology and "Biohacking"';  'Real Science, or Science Fiction?';  'Table Talk - Diane Kelly' (limited number encounter with a neuroscientist);  'What Is Our Climate Future?';  and  'Life After Humanity'.

The 2022 Worldcon has supported Ukraine, but ignored the Uyghurs' plight. The 2023 Worldcon (Chengdu, China) has one Guest of Honour, Sergei Lukyanenko, who has headed a petition in support of Putin and his war against Ukraine. The Chicon 8, 2022 Worldcon in Chicago saw the World SF Society (WSFS, under whose auspices Worldcons are held) business meeting pass a motion calling on the 2023 Worldcon to withdraw its invitation for Sergei Lukyanenko as one of its Guests of Honour. The 2023 Chengdu Worldcon so far has refused to do so.  Nonetheless, the WSFS motion calling on Chengdu to disinvite is most laudable: it is important that the SF community bears witness when an SF professional supports crimes against humanity as well as alleged war crimes.
          However, the Chicago Worldcon WSFS business meeting, ignored the plight of the Uyghur's in China who are being put into concentration camps for 'cultural re-education' amidst human rights concerns of forced sterilisation and seΧual abuse, by the Chinese government.  This policy is supported by the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon's Chinese Guest of Honour Cixin Liu.
          Last season we expressed concern that the 2023 Worldcon was honouring both Lukyanenko and Liu and called upon that convention's N. American Guest of Honour not to share the 2023 Worldcon platform with those who hold the views of his fellow Guests of Honour.  This years the Worldcon (WSFS) business meeting did see an attempt to introduce a motion to censure the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon, but this was to chastise it for failing to deliver on preparations for the event (see the next item). However, a two-thirds majority was needed to introduce new business to the meeting and only about a quarter of those there voted to have the motion considered.
          That the WSFS has remained silent on having one GoH who has stated support for crimes against humanity on one hand, yet spoken out against another, as well as tried (and failed) to get a motion on failing to deliver passed, is revealing as to Worldcon fans' hierarchy of priorities. Given a motion on failure to deliver was at least attempted (even if it failed) demonstrated that the Worldcon community is more concerned about the quality and timing of the Chengdu Worldcon's delivery than it is having a Guest of Honour who publicly supports the Chinese government's actions against the Uyghurs.  Apparently, the plight of ethnic groups does not matter that much….!  Nonetheless, the Worldcon community has recently made some, what it considers, important progressive steps, just that they are not meaningful ones that bear witness to people's life and death… But, hey, at least professionals are prepared to nail their colours to the mast winteriscoming.net/2022/03/16/dear-worldcon-why-we-should-not-host-hugos-china-uyghur/.

The 2023 Chengdu Worldcon news. It looks like its dates are changing from 23rd - 29th to 16th - 20th August '23.  Problems in setting up a means to transfer funds from the West to China have meant that western registrations have been put on hold. There are currently no back up plans in case Chengdu is put in CoVID lockdown other than there will be a virtual component to the convention.  Chengdu are also hoping for 'official' Chinese government sponsorship of the convention and that should bring with it mechanisms for ease of getting visas for western participants – currently there are no special visa arrangements. There are also issues with direct international flights to Chengdu as many have been suspended due to CoVID. With corporate sponsorship the convention feels that it should have good translation services for some of the programming.  Finally, at the WSFS business meeting at this year's (2022) Chicon 8 Worldcon in Chicago, the Chengdu 2023 Worldcon organisers revealed that as yet not hotel contracts had been signed.  With just a year to the Chengdu Worldcon, that event is very late in getting fundamental aspects to its convention sorted.  Add this to the political concerns the convention has engendered, with banking issues, unconfirmed hotel arrangements together with travel issues, and it looks like Chengdu 2023 will go down in history as the most controversial Worldcon to date.

The 2024 Worldcon Glasgow bid won. The results of the 2024 Worldcon site selection vote was announced at this year's Chicon 8, Worldcon 2022 in Chicago business meeting.  This comes as no surprise, which we reported last season as other than the usual spoof/joke bids, Glasgow was the only serious bid.  Following the win the Guests of Honour (GoHs) were announced.  These include:  Ken MacLeod (SF novelist – Dark Light, Intrusion, The Restoration Game, Dissidence among much else) and zoologist);  Nnedi Okorafor (author – The Book of Phoenix and graphic novelist including for Black Panther);  Chris Baker (artist who has worked with Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton and Stanley Kubrick among others and whose work appears on numerous SF/F covers);  and Teri Windling (fantasy author).  Claire Brialey & Mark Plummer are to be the fan GoHs.
          There is an initial short, promotional, musical video here to celebrate the bid win.

Fake SF Worldcon merchandise from the 2022 and 2024 Worldcons has been on sale through RedBubble. Both the 2022 Chicon 8 and 2024 Glasgow Worldcons have had their accounts suspended from RedBubble. Both conventions have asked that fans ensure that they get their convention merchandise from a genuine source. This may not always be the convention, as some conventions allow other vendors to utilise their name. And to make sure that any artwork folk buy online comes from the actual artist or license holder. One issue is that RedBubble do not reduce the quality of artwork on their web page which makes it easy for fraudsters to copy.

Uganda launches a bid to hold the Worldcon despite human rights concerns. The bid is for 2028 and is called Kampcon. It is proposed to hold the convention on the northern shores of Lake Victoria 7.5 miles (12 km) from the centre of Kampala at Speke Resort Munyonyo and Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort.  This is a 5-star luxury resort set in 90 acres of grounds which "stands as the definitive pinnacle to opulent living". Given there is a express motorway to Entebbe Airport 23 miles (37 km) away, it means that Worldcon goers will be able to travel directly to the convention without undue contact with the local community.  As with the political controversy over the 2023 China Worldcon there are concerns over Uganda's human rights record.  Uganda scores 4.48 on the Democracy Index where it is billed as a 'hybrid regime'. Its Freedom House score is 34 and is cited as 'Not Free' (For comparison the United Kingdom scores 93 and the USA 83, both billed as 'Free'.) The reasons for its low score include: widespread public sector corruption; human rights issues such as the use of torture by the state and extrajudicial killings; and common child labour…  All of which by comparison makes Uganda's LGBT+ rights record seem positively virtuous! In 2009 Uganda dropped proposals for an Anti-HomoseΧuality Bill which would have increased criminalisation of the LGBT+ community by introducing the death penalty for people who have previous convictions, or are HIV-positive, and engage in same-seΧ seΧual acts. Though, the act was passed in 2013, albeit with the death penalty dropped, in 2014 the Constitutional Court of Uganda ruled the bill invalid.  That some recent Worldcon bids have come from countries with serious human and political rights issues, and with China hosting in 2023, that Uganda with its human rights record can formally bid is a sign that the SF Worldcon (the WSFS) constitution and rules is truly broken.

All change at France's Les Imaginales literary festival. The festival has been funded by the city of Épinal (south of Nancy, in Haute Saone) for 20 years and run by the fest's director, Stéphanie Nicot, for all that time: 21 iterations of the fest. She reported to the director of cultural affairs at Éipinal. At 70 years old she had just instigated a five-year handover period to a successor but a change of town mayor, to Patrick Nardin, has seen her removed from the post.  As recently as May (2022) Épinal's director of cultural affairs, Stéphane Wieser had said that Stéphanie Nicot would not be removed from post, especially as the 21st Imaginales was so successful. Yet behind the scenes there were tensions. Les Imaginales had been very much book orientated but even before the new mayor, Épinal had wanted to see the fest's scope broadened to include cinema, video games and art. Indeed recently, the Fest had invited some academics (scientists and historians) to participate in specific programme items. Further, we understand that the director of cultural affairs at Éipina, Stéphane Wieser, himself will no longer be overseeing the fest on behalf of Épinal, but that the new Mayor will take over that along with his mayoral duties.  Further, the fest has seen some tangential fallout of 'me too' harassment within France's genre publishing sector and the fest has established what is in effect a code of conduct.  Finally, the fest's future finances remain uncertain. Its last operational budget was €430,000 (£352,500) but this did not include staff salaries or municipal venue costs. Recently it has been increasing income from publishers, book dealers and from catering meaning so that last year Épinal only had to provide €115,000 plus salaries and some venue facilities.  However, the manner of Stéphanie Nicot's departure has ruffled some feathers. For example, it has been reported that some fest regulars, such as the authors Lionel Davoust, Estelle Faye and Jean-Claude Dunyach, will no longer be attending.

The 2022 Filkcon has been cancelled. The Government is still using the venue hotel in Grantham to house Afghanistan refugees. The organisers are considering whether or not to hold the event in 2024 but, as the Government is being very slow to find permanent housing for the refuges, that may not be possible. Another option would be to have a dedicated filk programme stream at next year's Eastercon. This is something the Eastercon committee have offered.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has been hacked with members data taken and posted publicly. The data released was anything members opted to share with fellow SFWA members including email, telephone, websites, social media accounts, and mailing addresses in individual members' profile. Members who opted out of sharing information in the directory were not affected. No financial data, confidential, or legal information was scraped from the directory as those have always been set to “no access” by the SFWA admin or held in entirely different places within its infrastructure.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) dropped author Mercedes Lackey from its end-of-May virtual Nebula conference.  It took place the day after the SFWA celebrated her as their latest Grand Master. The SFWA said: "We learned yesterday that while participating in the “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” panel, Mercedes Lackey used a racial slur. First, we apologize to our attendees and the other panellists who were subjected to that slur. We’ve disabled access to the panel to avoid any additional harm being caused.  Second, we are immediately removing Mercedes Lackey from the conference and the additional panels she was scheduled for, in accordance with SFWA’s Moderation Policy."  Mercedes responded with an apology and explanation. "On a panel at the 2022 Nebulas, I had the chance to celebrate authors who wrote positive gay characters long before me. Chip Delany is obviously a major player in that game. Because there are two Samuel Delanys – there’s one from Texas – I wanted to make sure people got hold of the right one.  So, in my excitement, I got caught in a mental/verbal stumble between 'black' and 'person of colour', and as best I can remember, what came stuttering out was something like 'spcolored'.” She added: "I’m not an amazing speaker. I stammer, I freeze up, & I get things wrong. I am sorry that I bungled a modern term while bringing attention to an amazing black creator."  Mercedes is known for her Valdemar series of fantasy novels.  The Texas Delany later said that he was not offended by Mercedes slip.

Balticon removes author Stephanie Burke from its programme. The removal, by the US convention Balticon 56, was due a volunteer making a Code of Conduct complaint.  The volunteer allegedly then yelled at the author who was removed mid-panel!  Subsequently, the convention's Chair, Yakira Heistand, later apologised to Stephanie Burke, with the Chair reportedly giving the excuse that the removal was due to an 'overzealous volunteer', allegedly Lisa Adler-Goldman. (Apparently appallingly rude, aggressive, abusive and slanderous equates with 'overzealous'.)  Balticon is a long-running series of conventions organised by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Stephanie Burke has appeared on the programme of a number of Balticons but may decide never again to be associated with that event or the Society.  Lisa Adler-Goldman reportedly subsequently gave a succinct apology.  It does appear that those applying Codes of Conduct need to abide by them themselves and not weaponise them.  ++++ Codes of Conduct at conventions are relatively new and, though welcomed by some, are less so by others.

Former Salt Lake Comic Con organiser arrested for making bomb threats. Apparently Bryan Brandenburg was upset at a court for taking so long to come to a ruling over his divorce case and so started threatening to bomb them. He faces a possible prison sentence. Brandenburg is no longer part of the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention, that was originally called the Salt Lake Comic Con. It had to change its name following a challenge by the San Diego Comic Con in what some might say was a debatable decision.

Still time (if you are in Britain) to check out the Doctor Who Worlds of Wonder Exhibition in Liverpool. It will continue to 30th October (2022) at the World Museum, William Brown St, Liverpool, L3 8EN. The interactive exhibition covers epic monsters to costumes and props, science is brought to life exploring some of the Doctor’s many adventures and encounters through space and time. This world premiere exhibition will see visitors engage with original artefacts, sets and much more – it’s a must-see for any fan of Doctor Who and science enthusiasts too. Journeying through the world of Doctor Who, visitors will discover the science that weaves its way through the history of the longest-running sci-fi TV show in the world, which has been on our screens for almost 60 years.

And finally….

Future SF Worldcon bids and seated Worldcons currently running  with LGBT+ freedom percentage scores in bold, include for:-
2023
          - Chengdu, China (seated Worldcon) 42%
2024
          - Glasgow, Great Britain in 2024 (seated Worldcon) 82%
2025
          - Brisbane, Australia in 2025 - Now 2028
          - Seattle, WA, USA in 2025 82%
2026
          - Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2026 (civil rights concerns noted two years ago)
          - Cairo, Egypt in 2026 (replaces Jeddah above) 12%
          - Los Angeles in 2026, USA 82%
          - Nice, France in 2026 - Bid folded
2027
          - Tel Aviv in 2027, Israel 74%
2028
          - Brisbane, Australia in 2028 84%
          - Kampala, Uganda in 2028 (all be there civil rights concerns) 15%
2029
          - Dublin in 2029, Republic of Ireland 74%
2031
          - Texas in 2031, USA 54%
          The LGBT+ equality percentages come from File770 which in turn came from Tammy Coxon pointing out the Equaldex.com equality rankings. We added the UK score that was not included in the original File770 August 2022 posting.

Future SF Eurocon bids currently running  include for:-
          - Aland, Finland (2025)
          - Berlin, Germany (2026)
          - Zagreb, Croatia (2028)

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Autumn 2022

Film News

 

Moon Man becomes the film with the greatest opening weekend box office revenue. The film's debut weekend gross was £107.5 million (US$129 million) and that was only in China, because it is a Chinese film. The film concerns an astronaut stranded on the Moon who believes he’s the last human alive after witnessing an asteroid crashing into Earth.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been banned in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The ban was imposed because one of the characters, America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez) is gay. Being gay is illegal in Gulf nations. This follows the banning of Chloé Zhao’s Eternals last year as that film has a same gendered couple. However an edited version did eventually screen in the United Arab Emirates.

Batgirl has been made… and axed! Its producers have said that it is too bad a film to be released. Only back in the spring (2022) we learned that Michael Keaton was reprising his role as Batman in Batgirl. However, despite spending reportedly US$90m (£75 million) on making the film, following public test screenings, the producers have pulled the plug and say that the film was so bad that it will never see the light of day.  All this raises questions about the prospective The Flash film that also will see the Michael Keaton Batman. Warner Brothers' Batgirl for cinema and HBO Max streaming, was directed by Bad Boys for Life filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, from a script by Birds of Prey and The Flash screenwriter Christina Hodson. Goodness knows what will happen to their careers? Much sadness for Glasgow, which was used to portray Gotham City, as they hoped Batgirl sequels would also be filmed there.
          However, it has also emerged that there may have been an accounting manoeuvre behind the cancellation (and that of another film Scoob). Because Warner Bros Discovery has changed hands, and also changed strategy from the previous regime, it is able to wipe out losses from its books. The company has a whopping US$3 billion (£2.5 bullion) in debt across all its divisions. Its strategy change is from past WarnerMedia CEO, Jason Kilar’s, plan to make original US$70 million (£58m) live-action and animated films directly for the streaming site HBO Max. This will no longer happen.  ++++ Previous related, cancelled film story elsewhere on this site includes Unseen 1996 The Fantastic Four film has now been released on YouTube.

Lightyear has been banned in the United Arab Emirates for featuring a lesbιan kiss. The Toy Story prequel sees Alisha (voiced by Uzo Aduba) kiss her partner. The ban comes after a social media campaign with the hash-tag caught the attention of the authorities. The film does not meet the country's media content standards.

Coming shortly, Spirit Halloween is to be a family film light horror starring Christopher (Back to the Future) Lloyd. When a new Spirit Halloween store appears in a deserted strip mall, three middle-school friends who think they’ve outgrown trick-or-treating make a dare to spend the night locked inside the store Halloween night. But they soon find out that the store is haunted by an angry evil spirit who has possessed the creepy animatronic characters. The kids embark on a thrilling and spooky adventure in order to survive the night and avoid becoming possessed themselves.

Avatar 2: The Way of Water is coming in December (2022).  Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure. Directed by James Cameron and produced by Cameron and Jon Landau, the film stars Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement and Kate Winslet.  You can see the trailer here.

Kraven The Hunter gets cast.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson is in the title role. He joins a cast that includes Ariana DeBose, Russell Crowe, Alessandro Nivola, Christopher Abbott, Fred Hechinger and Levi (A Wrinkle In Time and Pan) Miller. J.C. Chandor is directing. Filming has been taking place in England. As previously reported a January 2023 release is expected.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has been delayed to 2023.  The film is the sequel to Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. It was due to come in the early summer (2022 but Sony have pushed it back to 7th July 2023. The first film, won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form. The trailer to the first film is here.

Thunderbolts get 2023 release date.  It will hopefully be released on 26th July 2023. The film marks the end of Phase 5 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe sequence of films. It concerns a league of supervillans and is based on the Marcel comics run that began with The Incredible Hulk no.449 in January 1997. In the comics, the original Thunderbolts team are revealed to be the supervillain group the Masters of Evil, which include Citizen V (Baron Zemo), Techno (Fixer), Mach-1 (Beetle), Songbird (Screaming Mimi), Atlas (Goliath), and Meteorite (Moonstone). A recent version of the team was led by Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, in 2016's Thunderbolts.

Rebel Moon gets cast.  This is Jack Snyder's next film. This forthcoming film began life as Snyder’s proposed Star Wars movie, Rebel Moon takes inspiration from Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. It is the story of a galactic colony who assembles a group of warriors to fend off the tyrannical Balisarius (Ed Skrein). Anthony Hopkins will voice Jimmy, a sentient JC1435 mechanized battle robot and one-time defender of the slain King. Sofia Boutella, Charlie Hunnam, Sofia Boutella, Jena Malone, Corey Stoll, Michiel Huisman, Cary Elwes, Doona Bae and Ray Fisher also star.

Hell of a Summer gets a cast.  Stranger Things and Ghostbusters: Afterlife actor Finn Wolfhard will be directing the comedy horror along with Billy Bryk, who also appeared in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Both will apparently also be in the cast which will also include Fred Hechinger (of the Fear Street trilogy), D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai (Reservation Dogs), Abby Quinn (Mad About You), and Pardis Saremi (Career Opportunities in Murder and Mayhem). Filming is currently taking place in Ontario, Canada.

Littlemouth gets a cast.  The film's director and story writer is Jonathan Sobol (The Padre).  The cast includes: Dennis Quaid (Frequency, The Parent Trap), Isabelle Fuhrman (The Novice), David Thewlis ('Harry Potter' films, Fargo), Josh Hutcherson ('The Hunger Games' franchise), and Kiera Allen (The Good Doctor). Littlemouth is an SF techno-thiller in which a computer scientist (Fuhrman) is recruited by a charismatic tech billionaire (Quaid) to work on a secret project that might just change humanity’s place in the universe forever, though it comes at great risk...

The Batman is to get a sequel. The 2022 quirky, dark yet quite interesting take on Batman is to get a sequel. Robert Pattinson set to return as Gotham’s fiercest defender reveals Warner Brothers. The Batman director Matt Reeves will write and direct the follow-up.

The Old Guard is to get a sequel. The 2020 original won a Hugo Award as well as nominated for a Nebula Award. Original cast members Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Veronica Ngo and Chiwetel Ejiofor are all onboard. They are being joined by Uma Thurman and Henry Golding. The Old Guard followed a covert team of immortal mercenaries who have to fight to keep their identity a secret when they find themselves exposed and an unexpected new member is discovered. Following its July 2020 launch, The Old Guard has become one of Netflix’s most popular action films to date, with a reported 186 million hours viewed in its first 28 days of release. The sequel will be directed by Victoria Mahoney and Leandro Fernández. The screenplay is by Greg Rucka, who co-created the graphic novel on which the film is based.  You can see the original's trailer here.)

Ghostbuster is to get another film. The success of the 2021 Ghostbusters: Afterlife meant that Sony was unlikely not to follow through. It is slated to premiere 20th December 2023. Afterlife was directed by Jason Reitman, the son of recently passed Ivan Reitman, who directed the 1984 original. Jason Reitman and writer Gil Kenan have confirmed that the sequel will return to the series’ home of New York City and the fire station for the sequel. Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which debuted in cinemas in November 2021, earned more than US$200 million at the global box office despite the CoVID-19 pandemic. (The trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife is here.)

Joker is to get a sequel. The Oscar-winning and US$1 billion taking success of the 2019 Joker meant that Warner Brothers were likely to make another, however nobody expected it to be a musical. It is called Joker: Folie à deux – referencing a medical term for an identical or similar mental disorder that affects two or more individuals, usually members of the same family. Lady Gaga is in early talks to star opposite Joaquin Phoenix in director Todd Phillips’ directed musical sequel. If a deal is made then she will play Harley Quinn.

The Hunger Games films are to get a prequel. Based on the Suzanne Collins novel, it will be called The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. It will be directed by Francis Lawrence, who helmed all three Hunger Games sequels. The film will follow President Snow at the age of 18, during the 10th Hunger Games and long before he was the tyrannical leader of Panem. Snow will be played by Tom Blyth. Also in the cast are Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer and Jason Schwartzman.

Arachnophobia is to get a reboot. The 1990 original was directed by Frank Marshall and produced by Kathleen Kennedy for Amblin, it followed Jeff Daniels’ amiable Dr Ross Jennings, as he attempts to overcome the titular phobia when a small town becomes infested with killer spiders… Christopher (Happy Death Day) Landon will write and direct. (The original's trailer is here.)

Sleepy Hollow is to get a reboot. The origin of all things Sleepy Hollow is Washington Irving’s story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1819). Tim Burton adapted it in 1999, with Johnny Depp as the protagonist Ichabod Crane.  More recently, there was the FOX series Sleepy Hollow that lasted four seasons, cancelled in 2017. The reboot will be directed by Lindsay Beer once she has done the Pet Sematary prequel. She is very busy as she is also writing the script for Paramount's as-yet-untitled Star Trek sequel, to be directed by Matt Shakman and set for a 2023 release.

Blue Beetle film is coming based on the DC comics character. Xolo Mariduena will play Jamie Reyes, an ordinary teenager who discovers the Blue Beetle scarab, which gives him a suit of extraterrestrial armour that, in turn, gives him super-speed and super-strength and the ability to create weapons. He will face a super villain played by Susan Sarandon.

Ta-Nehisi Coates' novel, The Water Dancer, is to be a film. The debut novel was a big hit in the US and has sold over a million copies worldwide. Set in the pre–Civil War South, it follows young Hiram Walker, who was born into bondage. As a child, he loses his mother and over time loses all memory of her. Now a young man, Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but is saved from the depths by a mysterious power he never realized he had and struggles to understand. He has a photographic memory, but who cannot remember his mother, and, late in the novel, is able to transport people over long distances by using a power known as 'conduction'. This power is based in the power of memory and storytelling and can fold the Earth like fabric allowing him to travel across large areas via waterways… Nia DaCosta (who did Candyman) has been tapped to direct for MGM.

The Crow graphic novel is to be a film. The Crow tells the story of a young man, Eric Draven, who returns from the dead to avenge the murder of his fiancée, Shelley Webster, with the help of a mystical bird. The James O’Barr's 1984 graphic novel has already had a cinematic outing in 1994 by director Alex Proyas is something of a cult classic. This new version is being directed by Rupert Sanders who did Snow White and the Huntsman and Ghost in the Shell.

The Green Hornet reboot is now solid. We reported half a decade ago (2017) that Paramount was considering a re-boot. Well Green Hornet & Kato is now being made by Leigh Whannell. It looks like being a very different venture compared with the 2011 The Green Hornet film with Seth Rogen and Jay Chou.  The original Green Hornet was, of course, a 1936 US radio show. In the course of the radio show, it became clear that Britt Reid (the Green Hornet) is the son of Dan Reid, Jr., the nephew of John Reid, the Lone Ranger, making the Green Hornet the grand-nephew of the Lone Ranger.  There was also a 1960s The Green Hornet TV series with Van Williams as Britt Reid and Bruce Lee as Kato. (There was even a cross-over episode with the 1960s Batman TV series.)

And finally…

Short video clips (short films, other vids and trailers) that might tickle your fancy….

Short film download tip!: Goldilocks short film.  An intrepid astronaut is one of separate missions to find a habitable Earth-like planet and is approaching his next destination…  You can see the 11-minute film here.

Short film download tip!: Parallel Man short film.  A dictatorial regime controls access to parallel Earths and controls several of them. Our Earth is next. A rogue agent flees across the multiverse with a device…  You can see the 11-minute film here.

Short video download tip!: How The Batman should have ended….  You can see the short video here.

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

For a reminder of the top films in 2021 (and earlier years) then check out our top Science Fiction Films annual chart. This page is based on the weekly UK box office ratings over the past year up to Easter. You can use this page if you are stuck for ideas hiring a DVD for the weekend.

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

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Autumn 2022

Television News

 

SyFy channel has become Sky Sci-Fi. SyFy is the cousin channel to the US SyFy channel. Both the British Isles and US channels were owned by NBC Universal International Networks but in 2018 the British Isles' SyFy channel became a part of Sky UK Limited. Just as the US SyFy channel used to be Sci-Fi Channel and in 2009 both became Syfy as the term 'sci-fi' could not be copyrighted, it being in longstanding common parlance (having been promulgated by Forrest Ackerman). However the rebranding was ridiculed by many. In July the British Isles SyFy channel became Sky Sci-Fi. As of April 2008, the British Isles' Syfy channel typically reached an average of three million UK and Ireland households a week and its top shows have around half a million viewers. The Sky Sci-Fi channel is available in the British Isles on Sky, NOW and Virgin Media. The re-launched Sky Sci-Fi saw the British Isles premiere of the Canadian paranormal series Surreal Estate as well as the zombie series Day of The Dead, inspired by the George. A Romero film. Further, all of Sky Sci-Fi content will be available to stream on-demand on Sky’s streaming service NOW, as well as on Sky Glass.

Netflix sees an end to eight years-worth of sustained growth with the loss of nearly a million subscribers. By 2015 the streaming service had accrued just over 50 million subscribers and began an eight-year period of growth to the end of 2021 where it had some 221.84 million subscribers. However, the first quarter of 2022 saw it lose around 200,000 subscribers and the second quarter nearly a million subscribers (0.97 million), mostly from N. America and next Europe.  Rising inflation due to the war in the Ukraine, combined with the growth of rival streaming services (such as Apple TV, HBO Max, Amazon Prime and Disney+), not to mention the return to work following the CoVID-19 lockdowns, are factors behind the roughly 0.5% second-quarter decline.  Despite this, Netflix remains the leading streaming service and shows such as Stranger Things (see below) are doing phenomenally well.

Disney subscribers overtake Netflix. Disney reported 221.1 million subscribers across its three streaming platforms at the start of July, putting it just ahead of Netflix at 220.67 million. However, its streaming business lost US$1.1bn (£910m) in 2022's second quarter. However, Disney over all, including theme parks and film making, saw total revenues in the April-June 2022 quarter jump 26% from last year, with profits to US$1.5bn (£1.25 billion).

Squid Game to happen for real!.  Squid Game was one of the big SF hits of 2021. The streaming service Netflix is now to hold a real-life Squid Game. Fortunately, death is not on the cards. What is, is one of the biggest cash prizes for the winner – US$4.56 million (£3.75) – for which 456 will compete. The game will last 10 episodes.

Picard season 3 to see nearly all the Star Trek: The Next Generation lead cast join in! The show’s third and final season, Michael Dorn (Worf), Gates McFadden (Beverly Crusher), and Levar Burton (Geordie LaForge) are set to join the cast of Picard.  You can see the announcement teaser here.

Love Death + Robots season 3 streamed over the summer (in case you missed it).  The animated series consists of stand-alone episodes, all under 20 minutes long, and produced by different casts and crews, though some episodes may share certain crew members. The series title refers to each episode's thematic connection to the three aforementioned subjects, though not every episode contains all three elements.  Worth checking out if you have Netflix.  you can see the season 3 trailer here

The Umbrella Academy season 3 streamed over the summer (in case you missed it).  The show is based on the graphic novel by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba that concerns a small group of people with special powers brought together by a now deceased philanthropist. (Don't let this seemingly formulaic plot basis put you off, this gets a great treatment.) The success of the first season meant that a second season was a shoe-in. At the end of last year the show won the Canada's Aurora Award It is quite a ride and if you do not have Netflix you might consider getting the DVD… (Not often we give that recommendation.)  You can see the season trailer here.

Ms. Marvel, the new television series, streamed over the summer (in case you missed it).  It is based on the Marvel Comics character Kamala Khan / Ms. Marvel. It is intended to be the seventh television series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) produced by Marvel Studios, sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. The six-episode series will serve as set-up for the film The Marvels (2023), in which Vellani will reprise her role as Khan along with additional cast members from the series.  You can see the trailer here.

Westworld season 4 streamed over the summer (in case you missed it). In the British Isles it was on Sky Atlantic and NOW. In the US it was on HBO Max. The DVD should be out for everyone else.   You can see the trailer here.

Doctor Who'snew star is to be Ncuti Gatwa. The Rwandan born actor, who has lived the bulk of his life in Scotland, is to now best known for Netflix's SeΧ Education's Eric Effiong. He takes over from Jodie Whittaker who is stepping downRussell T. Davies is taking over as the programme's show-runner after he initially helmed the 21st-century revival of the show from 2005 to 2009. Davies said: “The future is here and it’s Ncuti! Sometimes talent walks through the door and it’s so bright and bold and brilliant, I just stand back in awe and thank my lucky stars. Ncuti dazzled us, seized hold of the Doctor and owned those TARDIS keys in seconds. It’s an honour to work with him, and a hoot, I can’t wait to get started.” Whittaker’s current companions – John Bishop as Dan and Mandip Gill as Yaz – will also be replaced in an all-new 2023 restart for the show. Of her character’s exit, Gill said: “I think just like me, just like my character, there’ll be a lot of tears, but I loved where it ended up.”

David Tennant and Catherine Tate are returning to Doctor Who's.  They left the show twelve years ago but will now be back in an adventure with the new Doctor penned by screenwriter and show-runner Russell T. Davies. This will air in 2023.

Star trek: Strange New Worlds and Star trek: Lower Decks are getting a crossover episode.  Paramount+ has announced that the two current Star Trek series will collide in “a major crossover event” planned for the second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.  The crossover episode will feature “both live-action and animation. ”We can expect to see Ensign Beckett Mariner, voiced by Tawny Newsome, and Ensign Brad Boimler, voiced by Jack Quaid, from Lower Decks joining the U.S.S. Enterprise in season two of Strange New Worlds. The episode will be directed by Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

From has been renewed for a second season. The surreal and fantastical horror, series unravels the mystery of a nightmarish town that traps all those who enter… The first season premiered back in February (2022) and became the second most-watched original behind the Emmy-winning series Godfather of Harlem. The series aired on Epix in the US. The second season will begin production in Halifax, Nova Scotia this summer and will air in the first half of 2023. In season two, hidden truths about the nature and terrifying origins of the town begin to emerge, even as life for its residents is plunged into chaos by the arrival of mysterious newcomers.  (Season 1 trailer here.)

The Boys has been renewed for a fourth season. Having seen its season 3 growth in viewers of 17%, and 234% from Season 1, Amazon Prime took the no-brainer decision to re-new for season 4. It is based on the comics by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, The Boys is described as “a fun and irreverent take on what happens when superheroes – who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as gods – abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good."  You can see the season 3 trailer here.

Star Wars: Skeleton Crew is the next Star Wars TV series. The series concerns a group of children, about 10 years old, from a tiny little planet who accidentally get lost in the Star Wars galaxy. And it's the story of their journey trying to find their way home... The series is reportedly shooting at Manhattan Beach Studios, where The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett filmed. It is being helmed by Spider-Man Home Trilogy director Jon Watts. Shooting has already begun.

Squid Game to get a second season. Well, this is hardly surprising given the first's success. It took 12 years to bring the first season of Squid Game to life last year. But it took 12 days for Squid Game to become the most popular Netflix series ever. In the dystopian South Korean drama, citizens gamble away their lives in order to win a life-changing cash prize. Through a line-up of terrifying and brutal childhood games, players are fatally eliminated until there’s one left standing… You can see the season one trailer here.

TheGame of Thrones spin-off series House of Dragon had a record HBO premiere. The first episode had approximately 9.9 million views on Sunday (21 August) in the US alone.

Another Game of Thrones spin-off series is in the offing. The new series will be based on the character of Jon Snow. Kit Harington is apparently reprising his role as the character. HBO is developing the series. This will be the 7th spin-off series, the first being House of Dragon.

Neil Gaiman's novel Anansi Boys is being made into a six-episode mini-series. Neil is show-runner for Amazon Studios. Whoopi Goldberg will be starring as the animal god Bird Woman alongside Malachi Kirby’s leading roles of Fat Charlie and Spider. The story follows Charlie Nancy (Malachi Kirby)—sometimes known as Fat Charlie (it was his father’s nickname for him; he’s not fat)—a young man who is used to being embarrassed by his estranged father. But when his father dies, Charlie discovers that he was Anansi: Trickster God of stories (played by Delroy Lindo). And he learns that he has a brother. Now that brother, Spider (also played by Kirby), is entering Charlie’s life, determined to make it more interesting—but making it a lot more dangerous instead.

Bright 2 has been cancelled by Netflix. Bright came out Christmas 2017 from Netflix. It starred Will Smith in a modern-day fantasy/cop drama hybrid, policing a city with faeries, elves and the like.  The reason for the cancellation is thought to be the failing Netflix business model: invest heavily at a loss to build up a library of films that would be unassailable by putative streaming rivals.  Alas, with the rise in food and energy inflation due to the war in Ukraine, households are cancelling subscriptions to streaming services. Netflix are therefore cancelling a number of projects.  The original Bright trailer is here.

Locke and Key has been cancelled by Netflix. Season 3 is therefore the last season. The series is based on the comic book series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. You can see the original trailer here.

Raised By Wolves has been cancelled by HBO Max. The first season of Raised By Wolves debuted back in 2020, and was very well received by critics and reviewers. Four months after HBO Max launched, Raised By Wolves was the highest-ranked original series on the platform. Season 2 premiered in February of 2022, and while it represented a strong leap forward for the series, it didn’t generate quite the same buzz as the first season. Late 2021 and 2022 has seen a lot of new SF series and it could simply be too much competition. Another factor might be the merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery. The cancelling is annoying many as season 2 had a lot of cliff hanger endings. Raised by Wolves centres on two androids, Father and Mother, tasked with raising human children on Kepler-22b after the Earth was destroyed by a great war. As the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task… You can see the season 2 trailer here.

Snowpiercer has been cancelled by TNT. TNT produced and air the series in the US and Netflix in the British Isles. The series, based on Bong Joon-ho's 2013 film the TV series debuted in May 2020. The end of the last season saw the train's passengers split into two groups, including those who remained with Melanie and those who joined Layton in New Eden, a warm spot off the train where humans are able to survive.  You can see the series trailer here.

Night Sky has been cancelled by Amazon Prime Video . Poor streaming statistics are behind the cancellation after just one season. Apparently, the series' plot development was too slow a burn. The news of its cancellation came just six weeks after its premiere!  The series follows an elderly couple, Irene and Franklin York, portrayed by Sissy Spacek and J.K. Simmons respectively. The Yorks had years ago discovered a portal in their home which opens to a mysterious deserted planet, and the discovery becomes their best-held secret, but its exposure looms when neighbours become suspicious of their frequent activities at odd hours and proceed to interrogate them about their weird behaviour. They begin to unravel details about the alien planet after meeting a certain man/alien Jude on the otherworldly planet. You can see the series trailer here.
          Editorial note: Avid SF book readers might detect some similarity between the premise of Night Sky with the short SF story by the mid-20th century US master of rural SF, 'The Big Back Yard' by Clifford D. Simak.

Stephen King's The Talisman forthcoming series gets a production company.  The Talisman was originally a 1984 fantasy novel by Stephen King and Peter Straub. It was shortlisted for a Locus Award and a World Fantasy Award.  The Duffer Brothers (who did Stranger Things) have now created a production company called Upside Down Pictures to make the series. The Duffers reminded the world of their involvement with this project by showing a copy of The Talisman in the final moments of Stranger Things season 4.

Stephen King's It film series may have a prequel television series. The series' is being considered by HBO Max with a working title of Welcome to Derry and will be set in the 1960s and will follow the origin story of the killer clown, Pennywise.

The Babylon 5 reboot is still very much on. We reported on the reboot back in January. Then there came silence and then delays leading to rumours of possible cancellation of the pilot. The confirmation that the reboot is still on comes from CW chairman and CEO Mark Pedowitz. Pedowitz said during the network’s pre-upfront press call. “I’m a huge fan of Babylon 5, on a personal basis, I’ve seen every episode of the series. I’ve known Joe [J. Michael Straczynski, the 1990s series' creator] for a long, long time. I’d love to bring back that story in some shape or form, I think it’s perfect for the CW.” The reboot for CW, which Straczynski is writing and exec producing, has been described as a 'from-the-ground-up reboot'.

Stranger Things may have a spin-off television series. Yes, season 5 is meant to wrap up Stranger Things but apparently there may be a spin-off series. Though there are no details as yet, what we do know is that the show-runners, Matt and Ross Duffer, have established the production company Upside Down Pictures. They have previously said that the show would not focus on characters like Eleven or Steve Harrington.  In addition, a stage play set within the world and mythology of Stranger Things is actively planned.
          Season 4 of Stranger Things has been phenomenally successful. The first four weeks after its May (2022) release a total of 1.3 hours of the show were downloaded.

 

And finally, a TV related vid…

Why Neil Gaiman has George R.R. Martin to thank for The Sandman? Two masters in conversation: Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin. Find out why the DC Comics author "owes all of this" The Sandman success to the Game of Thrones creator, as well as hear their shared love of Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones and Lucifer Morningstar in The Sandman).  You can see the short video here.

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Autumn 2022

Publishing & Book Trade News

 

Sir Salman Rushdie has been attacked at an author event. He is, of course, a double Booker Prize-winning writer and author of the SF novel Grimus (1975) and of the forthcoming SF television series The Next People. He was due to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York, USA. The author had been the subject of Islamic extremist attention due to the purported offensiveness of his fourth book Satanic Verses (1988) which fundamentalists considered blasphemous. Genre authors condemning the attack include Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. Decades ago, in 1989 Iraq issued a fatwa against Rushdie and there is currently a multimillion pound bounty on the author. From the recent attack, Rushdie may lose and eye, suffered damage to his liver and lung as well as a severed arm nerve.  ++++ Following voicing support to Rushdie after the attack, fantasy author J. K. Rowling had received a Tweet saying, "Don't worry, you're next."

UK publishing saw a 5% growth in 2021.  In 2021, the combined value of UK publisher sales of books, journals and rights/co-editions rose 5% to £6.7 billion (US$8.64 billion) from £6.4 billion in 2020. The Publishers Association say that this growth is in no small part attributable to the TikTok social media platform bringing in a new generation of readers not only to current releases but also to back list titles.
          Key aspects include:-
          - Total export sales income rose 2% to £3.8 billion
          - Total print up 5% to £3.5 billion
          - Total digital up 5% to £3.2 billion
          - Consumer books up 4% to £2.2 billion
          - Fiction up 7% to £733 million
          - Non-fiction up 1% to £1.1 billion
          - Children’s up 7% to £425 million
          - Audio downloads up 14% to £151 million

Penguin Random House (US) and Simon and Schuster (US) want to merge – but that would mean the new giant would dominate the market. Penguin Random House (owned by the German media company Bertelsmann SE) seeks to purchase Simon & Schuster from Paramount Global (formerly CBS Viacom) for US$2.2 billion dollars (£1.83 bn). Both publishers are part of the big five: Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Macmillan, and Hachette: the big five was the big six over a decade ago when Penguin and Random House were separate prior to 2013. Currently, Penguin Random House is the top publishing company in the United States, and Simon & Schuster is the fourth.
          If this new merger went ahead it would stifle competition such would be the large market share the combined publishing houses would have. For authors this would mean smaller advances.  For staff, such mergers often see staff cuts. With fewer editors, sales and promotion staff, there is a fear that mid-list author books could contract. The concentration we have seen in the book industry since 1990 has pushed publishers to double down on star writers, celebrities, and politicians, leaving emerging writers with less support. Further, the US$2.2 billion dollars Paramount Global will get contrasts with the pay of the publishers' staff that do the real work. Indeed, the summer saw Harper Collins in the US staff go on strike.
          Such is the concern that the US government launched a case into the proposed merger.  Both publishers say that they would continue to compete as before. Here, genre author Stephen King has stepped forward as a witness for the government. He said that in publisher bids to buy titles from authors, the two parts of the merged (if it went ahead) publisher, would be like 'a husband and wife bidding against each other for the same house'. However, the U.S. District Judge, Florence Pan, was not convinced of the publishers' assurances that competition would remain. Of genre interest, one (strange) reason Penguin Random House gave for the merger was because some authors go the independent publisher route such as Brandon Sanderson with his Kickstarter campaign without going to a publisher.

Bloomsbury audited accounts confirm year sales of £230 million (US$283m). The year to February accounts affirm the publishers' indicative announcement last season of a likely £212.5m sales. The year profits are £22.2 million (US$27.3m) up £24% on the previous year. The publishers are best known for the J. K. Rowling series of Harry Potter books. Their latest rising star is the US fantasy author Sarah J. S. Maas whose books grew 86% last year. Rowling's sales rose 25% appropriately on the 25th anniversary of her books. Bloomsbury have also used their recent financial success to hire 100 new employees across all areas of the company.

Del Rey has re-launched in a new home. You may not have known it, but Del Rey moved from Ebury (in Penguin Random House) to Cornerstone (also in Penguin Random House) in 2020. Del Rey is the publisher of Andy (The Martian) Weir among others, and Cornerstone also do Star Wars books. So even though Ebury also does Doctor Who books, they did not seem to be developing their SF imprint, Del Rey. However, Cornerstone were keen to have an SF imprint of their own.
          OK, so if this happened in 2020, why is it news now?  Well, Del Rey had hoped to have a launch party back in 2020 and bring over Andy Weir for it. However, that little thing of the SARS-CoV-2 CoVID-19 global pandemic happening and so there was no formal launch party: that event has now happened! The end of June saw a gathering of some of the SF publishing scene in Clerkenwell to see Del Rey re-launched. (SF² Concatenation thanks Del Rey for the hospitality, our first publisher bash since CoVID.)
          The Del Rey imprint will be helmed by Sam Bradbury (formerly of Hodder and prior to that had a junior role at Jo Fletcher Books (Quercus)). In addition to publishing British talent, Del Rey (UK) will partner with Del Rey in the US and so we may see a few North American authors over here.  New Del Rey titles we can expect in the autumn include: Wayward by Chuck Wendig, The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik, Lore Olympus Volume Two by Rachel Smythe and Dragonlance: Destinies: Volume One by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman.

Bantam (UK) editor gets a promotion to editorial director. Bantam, a genre imprint at Transworld sees its senior commissioning editor Sally Williamson become its editorial director. Alice Rodgers will become its new senior commissioning editor. The moves follow an announcement in April of a “strategy for future growth” at Transworld. As part of the changes, Transworld Publishers is now known as Transworld, while the Bantam Press imprint has become Bantam, with new hardback publications showing a Bantam logo from September (2022).

Tor (UK) senior commissioning editor at Macmillan gets a promotion to editorial director. Bella Pagan has been Tor's Senior Editor since 2011 and will now be Tor's publisher. Pan Macmillan (of which Tor is a part) is now being run by new chief executive, Joanna Prior. There are three areas targeted for future expansion: Tor, Mantle and Macmillan Non-Fiction. Tor is Pan Macmillan's science fiction imprint. Meanwhile, Georgia Summer has been promoted to editor in the Tor UK team, reporting to Bella Pagan.

Macmillan (US) has been cyber-attacked. The publisher Macmillan (US) is the home to the SF imprint Tor (US). Apparently the attack encrypted some of their files and knocked out their e-mail. There offices were temporarily closed while matters were being sorted out.

The US Daw Book SF imprint has been sold. The purchaser is the Beijing-based Astra Publishing House. It appears that current staff may be keeping their jobs.

Interzone's editor steps down. The British SF magazine Interzone editor/publisher, Andy Cox, has stepped down. Gareth Jelley of Interzone Digital has taken over as editor/publisher. Interzone's sister magazine, Black Static is closing. It is hoped that Interzone we revert to its old bimonthly schedule.

The Internet Archive (US) and major US publishers in copyright battle. Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House argues that the Internet Archive’s controversial programme to scan and lend books under an untested legal theory known as “controlled digital lending” is a massive piracy operation “masquerading as a not-for-profit library”.
          Conversely, the Internet Archive argue that they are only using 'Controlled Digital Lending'. This is when the library has bought a paper copy of the book but only digitally lends one electronic copy at a time: the digital copy has to be returned before it can be lent to another borrower. Ditto, if the library buys two paper copies it will lend up to two borrowers at a time.

The first ever single-volume publication of The Lord of the Rings 'Second Age' stories is coming in November (2022).  Harper Collins is publishing The Fall of Númenor. It brings together the key tales of the Second Age, in chronological order. Though it will not contain any previously unpublished text, it is the first time these stories are appearing in a single volume and in chronological order. It also features new art by Alan Lee who illustrated The Lord of the Rings (1954) and The Hobbit (1937). The volume is edited by Brian Sibley and Christopher Tolkien. J. R. R. Tolkien famously described the Second Age of Middle-earth as a ‘dark age, and not very much of its history is (or need be) told’. And for many years readers would need to be content with the tantalizing glimpses of it found within the pages of The Lord of the Rings and its appendices. It was not until Christopher Tolkien presented The Silmarillion for publication in 1977, The Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth in 1980, and expanded upon this in the 12-volume History of Middle-Earth, that a fuller story could be told.  The publication of this volume comes a couple of months after the premiere of Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

The Fantast Three SF/F book operation is to close. Fantast Three originally began as Operation Fantast by Ken Slater whose daughter, Susie Haynes, took over following Ken's passing. Ken was a huge figure in war-time British fandom and later throughout his life.

The OK Comics bookshop in Leeds is the only non-N. American shop nominated for an Eisner Award. The Eisner Awards in the US are the premiere comics awards for N. America and analogous to what were the Eagle Awards in Britain. Of the 25 on the Eisner nomination list for the retailer category, just three are shops based in Canada and one in Britain – all the rest are based in the USA. And of the 21 US based ones, 7 are sited in California. So you can see the bias.

Peter F. Hamilton is writing slightly shorter novels… Shock! Drama! Probe! The author, of novels such as The Dreaming Void (2008) and The Great North Road (2012), is notorious for his books' size: the former clocks in at 796 pages, while the latter is 1,100 pages. Indeed, sometimes at SF² Concatenation we have trouble finding reviewers willing to take him on: we have so far only reviewed a half a dozen of his books and have missed out on the majority of his oeuvre. So, how come we understand he is writing slightly shorter novels? Well, at the beginning of the summer he was asked how he thinks about his writing in retrospect and how has it evolved over the years?  Hamilton said he felt his books had become a little more focussed and a little shorter, especially since The Night Storm. Peter Hamilton was interviewed by Death Cult Media.

George R. R. Martin caught CoVID and San Diego Comic-Con. The symptoms are mild as Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin is fully vaccinated with two boosters. Despite limiting his appearances to a panel on The House of Dragon the successor show to The Game of Thrones and skipped a mass autograph session, skipped all the parties, CoVID was raging through California. He then drove to Los Angles for the second leg of his US promotional tour and mysteriously tested positive for CoVID (non of his entourage has it, though they too went into isolation in case they were asymptomatic spreaders) and so he went into self-isolation in a hotel. So he had to cancel the rest of his tour which included missing the red carpet premiere of House of Dragon in North Hollywood. George apologised in case he disappointed anyone.

BBC Books' Target series has expanded the Doctor Who Target range with four new titles. The first two were penned by the original scriptwriter the late David Fisher and adapted from his 2011 and 2014 audio novelisations, The Stones of Blood and The Androids of Tara.  These were accompanied by The Fires of Pompeii by James Moran and The Eaters of Light by Rona Munro. +++ Note: Peter Harness’ The Zygon Invasion has been rescheduled for 2023, where it will be part of a new collection of Target novelisations.

Bryan Talbot Luther Arkwright exhibition in London to run to 2nd October (2022). In 1978, Bryan Talbot began the epic 'Luther Arkwright' saga with the steam-punk, multiverse The Adventures of Luther Arkwright. Serialised initially first in the comic Near Myths, and later in Pssst! Magazine, the serialised parts were completed by the rest of the story and published as first a comic book series and then a graphic novel. The Adventures of Luther Arkwright is considered a groundbreaking work in the history of British comics and, with material dating back to 1972, one of the first British graphic novels. It was followed by a sequel, Heart of Empire in 1999, and a final volume – The Legend of Luther Arkwright – which is being launched at the exhibition. The exhibition is being held at The Cartoon Museum 55 Wells St, London, W1W 8HJ, United Kingdom.

New Planet of the Apes comics are coming.  Marvel Comics are to produce the new series of comics which will launch in 2023. Marvel previously produced Planet of the Apes comics in 1974 and the following year did comic strip adaptations of the original films.

Comic writer and artist Frank Miller is suing the widow of David Kraft. Kraft died from CoVID-19 but years earlier had used Miller's artwork for a cover of Comics Interview in the 1980s. It depicts Batman and a female Robin and is considered very collectable. This and another piece of artwork, as well as art depicting the title character of Miller’s 1983 Ronin series, had been lent. Miller says he repeatedly asked for them to be returned. When Kraft's widow decided to auction the artwork, Miller decided to sue.

B>Cory Doctorow explains that he will not let his books appear on Amazon Audible as they owe him US$3,218.55. What is on Audible by Cory Doctorow is the audio book Why None of my Books are on Audible: And why Amazon owes me $3,218.55 (there's a surprise)… And amazingly it made the number one new Amazon book on Antitrust Law!
          ++++ Related Amazon stories previously covered elsewhere on this site include:
  - Alleged intimidation by Amazon causes a second vote on whether workers in Alabama can have a trade union
  - Authors removed from Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing
  - Pirated copy of the Hugo-winning Blindsight is finally taken down from the Amazon website.
  - Amazon fined by European Union
  - Amazon pays a little more tax as sales rise by 50%
  - Amazon destroys millions of items of unsold stock
  ++++ Related stories elsewhere on this site and others include:-
  - Audible – the audiobook sales outlet for Amazon’s company ACX – seems to be ripping off publishers and authors
  - Concerns as to Amazon's staff work conditions and rights
  - Amazon workers launch protests on Prime Day
  - Staff at Amazon's Swansea warehouse 'treated like robots'
  - Amazon warehouse accidents total 440
  - Amazon workers praising conditions are accused of lying
  - Amazon breaks embargo on Atwood's The Testaments
  - Amazon's UK tax paid substantially down despite a great profit increase
  - Amazon must pay its tax, says European Commission
  - Amazon tax wrong says UK Booksellers Association
  - 110,000 submit Amazon tax petition to Downing Street
  - Amazon and Google lambasted by Chair of House of Commons Accounts Committee
  - Amazon UK avoiding substantial tax says report in The Bookseller.

 

And finally, some of the summer's short SF book-related videos…

Meeting Claire North The Arthur C. Clarke Award short-listed author of 84K, The Games House and Notes from the Burning Age. Could she be about to have another name-change and a move to wide-screen space opera?  You can see the video here.

Neil Gaiman answers mythology questions from Twitter.  Author Neil Gaiman took to Twitter to answer the internet's burning questions about mythology. What links Viking and Greek myths? Why does Anubis have a dog's head if the Egyptians worshiped cats? Why do so many cultures have a 'Great Flood' myth? What do Biblical angels look like? Neil answers all these questions and much, much more! You can see the video here.

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Autumn 2022

Forthcoming SF Books

 

The Thousand Earths by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-22891-7.
This interweaves a tale of two characters, separated by both space and time, in a hopeful exploration of humanity’s future.  The end of the world is inevitable. We do not accept it In AD 2145, John Hackett’s adventure is just beginning.  In Year 30, Mela’s story is coming to a close.  Hackett is a time traveller. His new mission will lead him to Andromeda, a mission that will take him five million years.  Mela’s world is coming to an end. Erosion is eating away at the edges of every land mass.  A beautiful, page-turning story that interweaves the tale of these two characters, separated by both space and time, in a hopeful exploration of humanity’s future.

Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay by William Gibson by Pat Cadigan & William Gibson, Titan, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-803-36113-0.
William Gibson’s never-before-adapted screenplay for the direct sequel to Aliens, revealing the fates of Ripley, Newt, the synthetic Bishop, and Corporal Hicks. When the Colonial Marines vessel Sulaco docks with space station and military installation Anchorpoint, a new form of Xenomorph appears. Written by Hugo Award-winning novelist Pat Cadigan, based on Gibson’s never-produced first draft.  The Sulaco – on its return journey from LV-426 – enters a sector controlled by the “Union of Progressive Peoples”, a nation-state engaged in an ongoing cold war and arms race. U.P.P. personnel board the Sulaco and find hyper-sleep tubes with Ripley, Newt, and an injured Hicks. A Face-hugger attacks the lead commando, and the others narrowly escape, taking what remains of Bishop with them.  The Sulaco continues to Anchorpoint, a space station and military installation the size of a small moon, where it falls under control of the military’s Weapons Division. Boarding the Sulaco, a team of Colonial Marines and scientists is assaulted by a pair of Xenomorph drones. In the fight Ripley’s cryotube is badly damaged. It’s taken aboard Anchorpoint, where Ripley is kept comatose. Newt and an injured Corporal Hicks are awakened, and Newt is sent to Gateway Station on the way to Earth. The U.P.P. sends Bishop to Anchorpoint, where Hicks begins to hear rumours of experimentation—the cloning and genetic modification of Xenomorphs.  The kind of experimentation that could yield a monstrous hybrid, and perhaps even a Queen.

Star Wars Visions: Ronin by Emma Mieko Candon, Penguin, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-15759-8.
A mysterious former Sith wanders the galaxy in this Star Wars tale. An original novel inspired by the world of The Duel from the Star Wars Visions animated anthology.

Queen High by C. J. Carey, Quercus, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-41204-8.
The sequel to Widowland.  June, 1955 The Leader has been dead for two years. His assassination, on British soil, provoked violent retribution of British citizens, particularly women. Now, more than ever, the Protectorate is a place of surveillance and isolation – a land of spies. Every evening Rose Ransom looks in the mirror and marvels that she’s even alive. A mere woman, her role in the Leader’s death has been miraculously overlooked. She still works at the Culture Ministry where her work now focuses on the outlawed subject of Poetry, a form of writing that transmits subversive meanings, emotions and signals that cannot be controlled. Therefore, all Poetry is banned and Rose is appointed a Poet Hunter. A government propaganda drive to promote positive images of women has just been announced. Queen Wallis will be spearheading the campaign, and Rose has been tasked with visiting her to explain the plan. When she arrives at the palace, she finds Wallis in a state of paranoia, desperate to return to America and enjoy the liberty of her homeland. She claims she has a secret document so explosive that it will blow the Protectorate apart – but will the last Queen of England pull the trigger on the Alliance?

Widowland by C. J. Carey, Quercus, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-41200-0.
See above.  An alternative history with a strong feminist twist. London, 1953. Thirteen years have passed since Britain became a Protectorate of Germany. Edward VIII is to be crowned king. Women have been divided into castes with widows the lowest. These women are threatening rebellion: before the Leader arrives for the Coronation, it must be quashed…

Downfall by Louise Carey, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23276-1.
This is the follow-up to the 'compelling' Inscape.  They stopped the murder of InTech’s residents, but the cost was severe. Harlow 2.0 – the update to InTech’s mind-based operating system – still fed out. Now its citizens are compliant zombies, and Tanta and her crew are trapped underground.  Except Fliss, who has no system to update. She can go outside, and the crew are relying on her to get them out.  If InTech’s residents are to be free, Harlow 2.0 must be destroyed.  This last mission might ask more than Tanta’s able to give.

Star Wars: Convergence by Zoraida Cordova, Del Rey, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-15011-7.
The next adventure in the High Republic, expanding the new era of Star Wars, with a story set generations before Light of the Jedi.

Upgrade by Christina Dalcher, Macmillan, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-152-9-04535-2.
“You are the next step in human evolution…"  At first, Logan Ramsay isn’t sure if anything’s different. He just feels a little sharper. Better able to concentrate. Better at multitasking. Reading a bit faster, memorizing better, needing less sleep. But before long, he can’t deny it: something’s happening to his brain. To his body. He’s starting to see the world, and those around him, even those he loves most, in whole new ways.  The truth is, Logan’s genome has been hacked. And there’s a reason he’s been targeted for this upgrade. A reason that goes back decades to the darkest part of his past, and a horrific family legacy. Worse still, what’s happening to him is just the first step in a much larger plan, one to inflict the same changes on humanity at large, and at a terrifying cost. Because of what Logan’s becoming, he’s the one person in the world capable of stopping what’s been set in motion. But to have a chance at winning this war, he’ll have to become something other than himself. And even as he’s fighting, he can’t help wondering: what if humanity’s only hope for a future really does lie in engineering our own evolution…

Femlandia by Christina Dalcher, HQ, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-008-44036-7.
Miranda Reynolds has lost her home, her job and her husband – all thanks to an economic collapse that has brought America to its knees.  The shops are empty; the streets no longer safe. Miranda and her daughter Emma have nowhere left to turn.  There is one final hope, a self-sufficient haven for women who want to live a life free from men.  Femlandia.  For Miranda, the secluded Femlandia is a last resort. Life outside the gates is fraught with danger, but there’s something just as sinister going on within.  Welcome to Femlandia…  It’s no place like home.  SFX magazine say, ‘Dalcher is adept at writing genuinely scary high-concept fiction.’

The Red Scholar’s Wake by Aliette de Bodard, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60139-9.
Space opera.  When Xích Si is captured by the cruel Red Banner pirates, she expects the worst – but their leader, Rice Fish, makes an unexpected offer: marriage.  A sentient ship, married to the Red Scholar until her wife’s suspicious death, Rice Fish wants Xích Si’s help finding the culprit. Marriage grants Xích Si protection, in exchange for her technical fluency: a business arrangement.  But as they find themselves falling for each other against a backdrop of interstellar war, they must choose where their future leads.

Mindwalker by Kate Dylan, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-39269-2.
Debut novel.  Sil Sarrah is determined to die a legend. In the ten years she’s been rescuing imperilled field agents for the Syntex Corporation, Sil hasn’t lost a single life. And she’s not about to start now. But when a critical mission goes south, Sil is forced to flee the very company she once called home. When she falls in with activist Analog Army, she sees an opportunity to win back Syntex’s trust by destroying the group from within. Instead, she uncovers a horrifying truth that threatens to undo all the good she’s ever done…

Leech by Hiron Ennes, Tor, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-07360-7.
Gothic SF.  In the baron’s icebound castle, already a pit of secrets and lies, a parasite is spreading…  In an isolated chateau, as far north as north goes, the baron’s doctor has died. The Interprovincial Medical Institute sends out a replacement. But when the new physician investigates the cause of death, which appears to be suicide, there’s a mystery to solve. It seems the good doctor was hosting a parasite. Yet this should have been impossible, as the man was already possessed. For hundreds of years, the Institute has grown by taking root in young minds and shaping them into doctors, replacing every human practitioner of medicine.  The Institute is here to help humanity, to cure and to cut, to cradle and protect the species. Now it seems they have competition. For in the baron’s icebound castle, already a pit of secrets and lies, the parasite is spreading . . . These two enemies will make war within the battlefield of the body.  Whichever wins, humanity will lose again.

Doctor Who: The Androids of Tara by David Fisher, Target – BBC Books, £7.99 / Can416.99 / US$10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-785-94792-6.
The Doctor and Romana's search for the fourth segment of the all-powerful Key to Time leads them to the planet Tara, where courtly intrigue and romantic pageantry employ the most sophisticated technology. Within hours of arriving, Romana is mistaken for a powerful princess and the Doctor forced to dally with robotic royalty - and both are quickly embroiled in the scheming ambitions of the wicked Count Grendel. Finding the segment of the Key is easy enough, but escaping with it in one piece will prove an altogether more colourful affair...

Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood by David Fisher, Target – BBC Books, £7.99 / Can416.99 / US$10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-785-94794-0.
The Doctor is delighted when his quest for the Key to Time leads him to his favourite planet, Earth. But his friends are less enchanted: Romana is nearly lured to her death by a sinister apparition, and K9 is all but destroyed by a belligerent boulder with the power to move - and a thirst for blood.  An ancient stone circle becomes a battleground as the Doctor must outwit the deadliest alien criminal this side of hyperspace - and her bloodthirsty silicon servants...

Growing Up Weightless by John M. Ford, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23282-2.
Part of Gollancz's excellent 'SF Masterwork' series, this is a welcome reprint.  Matthias Ronay is a prodigy. He’s talented, smart, imaginative and he’s never left the moon. Desperate to explore the galaxy further, he finds himself at odds with his father, Albin, a senior politician in the Lunar government. While Matthias buries himself in computer games, and Albin attempts to gain support for political plans, can they come to a solution that benefits them both?  Growing Up Weightless is one of John M. Ford’s last novels.

Star Wars: The Fallen Star – The High Republic Book 3 by Claudia Gray, Penguin, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-529-15016-2.
The light of the Jedi faces its darkest hour…

Psalms For The End Of The World by Cole Haddon, Headline, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-472-28667-3.
Spanning continents, centuries, and dimensions, this exquisitely crafted and madly inventive novel is a profound yet propulsive enquiry into the nature of reality – the perfect immersive read for fans of David Mitchell, Emily St. John Mandel, Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood.  It’s 1962 and physics student Grace Pulansky believes she has met the man of her dreams, Robert Jones, while serving up slices of pecan pie at the local diner. But then the FBI shows up, with their fedoras and off-the-rack business suits, and accuses him of being a bomb-planting mass-murderer.  Finding herself on the run with Jones across America’s Southwest, the discoveries awaiting Gracie will undermine everything she knows about the universe. Her story will reveal how scores of lives – an identity-swapping rock star, a mourning lover in ancient China, Nazi hunters in pursuit of a terrible secret, a crazed artist in pre-revolutionary France, an astronaut struggling with a turbulent interplanetary future, and many more – are interconnected across space and time by love, grief, and quantum entanglement.

Blood Country by Jonathan Janz, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58663-5.
Since the world ended, Dez McClane has survived in a world of monsters despite having no special powers. Now Dez and Iris must face an even greater evil: the ruling species in this terrible post-apocalyptic world, a horde of monsters whose bloodlust makes them unstoppable.

Celestial by M. D. Lachlan, Gollancz, £18.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-0-575-11525-5.
An alternative history set during the heyday of the space race. A remarkable examination of empathy and humanity 1977. The space race is far from over.  Linguist Ziggy Da Luca is recruited by NASA for reasons she can’t fathom, but it becomes clear her work is more central to their plans than she realised.  Sent to the moon to investigate a trapdoor discovered by the Russians, Ziggy faces unimagined challenges. Seen as a liability, she must prove herself as everyone races to uncover the mystery.  Humankind could be changed for ever. The only question is whether she’ll make it home to tell her story.

Remembrance of Earth's Past by Cixin Liu, Ad Astra – Head of Zeus, £29.99, trdpbk. ISBN 978-1-803-28495-8.
The Three Body trilogy comprising the Hugo, and Galaxy Award-winning The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest and Death's End in a single 1,472 page volume.  Across the series, Cixin Liu asks the desperate, melancholic question of our time: will humanity reach for the stars or die in its cradle? Discover the whole trilogy in a new deluxe flexi-bound omnibus edition.

Beyond the Burn Line by Paul McAuley, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60371-3.
200,000 years in the future. Humanity is extinct, the ruins of its cities fossilised. After a civilisation of intelligent bears collapses following a plague, their former slaves, descendants of racoons, have driven the former masters northward and built a new civilisation.  Peaceful and emphasising harmony with nature and co-operation, but with strict genders roles, they settled the American continent and started exploring the world. But mysterious sightings are being reported. Who are these visitors? Where are they from, and what do they want?

Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell, Orbit, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-356-51589-2.
Space opera. When Tennal – a rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster – is caught using his telepathic powers for illegal activities, the military decides to bind his mind to someone whose coercive powers are strong enough to control him. Enter Lieutenant Surit, the child of a disgraced general. Out of a desperate need to restore a pension to his other parent, Lieutenant Surit agrees to be bound to Tennal and keep him conscripted in the army, a task that seems impossible even for someone with Surit’s ability to control minds. Tennal just wants to escape, but Surit isn’t all that he seems. And their bond may just be the key to their freedom.

Tick Tock by Simon Mayo, Transworld, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-857-52661-8.
For no apparent reason, there's a ticking noise in your ear. No pain yet, and no other symptoms. And before you know it, it spreads.  Elsewhere across the globe, it emerges, small outbreaks at first, contained groups of people, young and old, and suddenly it's a plague - and ten days later it's killing people. The hospitals are overflowing and there is no cure. There is a paranoid panic which sets friend against friend, neighbour against neighbour. Where does the world go from here? In the north London school where it is first discovered, head of English, Kit Chaplin is struggling to understand what he is witnessing. Even eminent bacteriologist and his partner Lilly Slater can't help him. But as the virus rips through the school and into the outside world, the world starts to take notice. Kit is more concerned about his students - and his young daughter, Rose - but little by little he gets sucked into where this mystery illness might have come from. And how it's going to threaten his world.

Illuminations by Alan Moore, Bloomsbury, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-526-64315-5.
In his first-ever short story collection, which spans forty years of work and features many never-before-published pieces, international bestselling author Alan Moore presents nine stories full of wonder and strangeness, each taking us deeper into the fantastical underside of reality.
In A Hypothetical Lizard, two concubines in a brothel for fantastical specialists fall in love, with tragic ramifications. In Not Even Legend, a paranormal study group is infiltrated by one of the otherworldly beings they seek to investigate. In Illuminations, a nostalgic older man decides to visit a seaside resort from his youth and finds the past all too close at hand. And in the monumental novella What We Can Know About Thunderman, which charts the surreal and Kafkaesque history of the comics industry over the last seventy-five years through several sometimes-naive and sometimes maniacal people rising and falling on its career ladders, Moore reveals the dark, beating heart of the superhero business.
From ghosts and otherworldly creatures to theoretical Boltzmann brains fashioning the universe at the big bang, Illuminations is exactly that - a series of bright, startling tales from a contemporary legend that reveal the full power of imagination author of From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and other modern classics, nine stories full of wonder and strangeness, which take us to the fantastical underside of reality.
In his first-ever short story collection, which spans forty years of work and features many never-before-published pieces, international bestselling author Alan Moore presents nine stories full of wonder and strangeness, each taking us deeper into the fantastical underside of reality.
In A Hypothetical Lizard, two concubines in a brothel for fantastical specialists fall in love, with tragic ramifications. In Not Even Legend, a paranormal study group is infiltrated by one of the otherworldly beings they seek to investigate. In Illuminations, a nostalgic older man decides to visit a seaside resort from his youth and finds the past all too close at hand. And in the monumental novella What We Can Know About Thunderman which charts the surreal and Kafkaesque history of the comics industry over the last seventy-five years through several sometimes-naive and sometimes maniacal people rising and falling on its career ladders, Moore reveals the dark, beating heart of the superhero business.
From ghosts and otherworldly creatures to theoretical Boltzmann brains fashioning the universe at the big bang, Illuminations is exactly that - a series of bright, startling tales from a contemporary legend that reveal the full power of imagination.

Doctor Who: The Fires of Pompeii by James Moran, Target – BBC Books, £7.99 / Can416.99 / US$10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-785-94779-7.
It is AD 79, and the TARDIS lands in Pompeii on the eve of the town's destruction. Mount Vesuvius is ready to erupt and bury its surroundings in molten lava, just as history dictates. Or is it?  The Doctor and Donna find that Pompeii is home to impossible things: circuits made of stone, soothsayers who read minds and fiery giants made of burning rock. From a lair deep in the volcano, these creatures plot the end of humanity - and the Doctor soon finds he has no way to win...

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Jo Fletcher Books, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-41800-2.
Carlota Moreau: A young woman, growing up in a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula, the only daughter of a genius – or a madman.  Montgomery Laughton: A melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol, an outcast who assists Doctor Moreau with his scientific experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas with plentiful coffers. The hybrids: The fruits of the Doctor’s labour, destined to blindly obey their creator while they remain in the shadows, are a motley group of part-human, part-animal monstrosities.  All of them are living in a perfectly balanced and static world which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Doctor Moreau’s patron – who will, unwittingly, begin a dangerous chain reaction.  For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.

Doctor Who: The Eaters of Light by Rona Munro, Target – BBC Books, £7.99 / Can416.99 / US$10.99 , pbk, ISBN 978-1-785-94779-7.
The Doctor takes Bill and Nardole back to 2nd century Scotland to learn the fate of the 'lost' Ninth Legion of the Imperial Roman Army. 5,000 soldiers vanished without explanation - how?  The search for the truth leads the Doctor and his friends into a deadly mystery. Who is the Guardian of the Gate? What nightmare creature roams the wildlands, darkening the sky and destroying all in its path? A threat from another dimension has been unleashed on the Earth, and only a terrible sacrifice can put things right...

The Rift Between Stars by Megan E. O'Keefe, Orbit, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-356-51737-7.
A revolutionary and her sworn enemy crash-land on a dying planet and must survive long enough to uncover a deadly, galaxy-spanning conspiracy in the first book of a thrilling new space opera trilogy Humanity is running out of options. Habitable planets are being destroyed as quickly as they’re found, and Naira Sharp thinks she knows the reason why. Tarquin Mercator never wanted to run a galaxy-spanning business empire. He just wanted to study geology and read books, but is tasked with monitoring the settlement of a new planet. Disguised as Tarquin’s new bodyguard, Naira plans to destroy the settlement ship before they make land. But neither of them expects to end up stranded on a dead planet and having to work together to uncover a plot that’s bigger than both of them.

Expect Me Tomorrow by Christopher Priest, Gollancz, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23513-7.
1877: John Smith was arrested for fraud, tricking women into thinking he was rich, then stealing their belongings.  1852: Adler and Adolf Beck’s father died on a glacier expedition, and their lives separated. One became a climate scientist, one an opera singer. They remained in touch, to share the mysterious voices only they could hear.  2050: Charles and Greg Ramsey are twins, and the family secrets echo back decades.  These people are connected, their lives intersect. The climate of their world will keep on changing…

Star Wars: The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Ravis, Del Rey, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-19608-5.
You are cordially invited to the wedding of Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo.  The Death Star is destroyed. Darth Vader is dead. The Empire is desolated. But on the forest moon of Endor, amongst the chaos of a changing galaxy, time stands still for a princess and her scoundrel.  After being frozen in carbonite, then risking everything for the Rebellion, Han is eager to stop living his life for other people. He and Leia have earned their future together, a thousand times over. And when he proposes to Leia, it’s the first time in a long time he’s had a good feeling about this. For Leia, a lifetime of fighting doesn’t truly seem over. There is work still to do, penance to pay for the dark secret she now knows runs through her veins. Her brother, Luke, is offering her that chance – one that comes with family and the promise of the Force. But when Han asks her to marry him, Leia finds her answer immediately on her lips… Yes.  But happily ever after doesn’t come easily. Facing their most desperate hour, the soldiers of the Empire have dispersed across the galaxy, retrenching on isolated worlds vulnerable to their influence. Not a good time for a honeymoon.

Lost in Time by A. G. Riddle, Ad Astra, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-54176-0.
Control the Past. Save the Future.  Dr. Sam Anderson is one of the most celebrated scientists in history. Ten years ago, he invented a device that changed the world forever. Now his life is about to be ripped apart– and his own creation may be to blame.   One fateful morning, Sam discovers that his girlfriend has been murdered and that his daughter is accused of the crime. Sam believes she's innocent, but he can't prove it. There's only one thing he can do to save his daughter: confess to the crime. And so he does.   But in the future, murderers aren't sent to prison. They're sent to the past.   Thanks to Sam's invention – Absolom – the world's worst criminals are exiled forever, sent back to the time of the dinosaurs, where they live out their lives alone. As Sam steps into the Absolom chamber to leave for the Late Triassic, he makes a promise: he will get back to his family, clear his name, and find the person who killed the woman he loved.   What Sam doesn't know is that there's a secret waiting for him in the past. And it might be his only hope of saving himself and his family.   Sam isn't the only one seeking justice. In the present, his daughter, Adeline, also embarkson a mission to fi nd the person who framed her and tore her family apart. She's already lost her mother. She can't bear losing her father too.   As Adeline peels back the layers of the conspiracy against her family, she uncovers more questions than answers. Everyone around her is hiding a secret, including her legal guardian. And some people aren't what they seem.  Adeline soon finds herself in the midst of a mystery that stretches across the past, present, and future – and leads to a revelation that will change everything.

The Stars Undying by Emery Robin, Orbit, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-356-51938-8.
A space opera debut billed by the publisher as perfect for readers of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice.  Princess Altagracia has lost everything. After a bloody civil war, her twin sister has claimed not just the crown of their planet Szayet but the Pearl of its prophecy, a computer that contains the immortal soul of their god.  Stripped of her birthright, Altagracia prepares to flee the planet – just as Matheus Ceilha, Commander of the interstellar Empire of Ceiao, arrives in deadly pursuit. Princess Altagracia sees an opportunity to win back her planet, her god, and her throne. But talking her way into Commander Matheus’s good graces, and his bed, is only the beginning. Dealing with the most powerful man in the galaxy is almost as dangerous as war, and Altagracia is quickly torn between Matheus and the wishes of the machine god that whispers in her ear. Altagracia will need to become more than a princess with a silver tongue. She will have to become a queen as history has never seen before – even if it breaks an empire.

Poster Girl by Veronica Roth, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-33103-5.
Sonya Kantor has been locked in the Aperture, a single city block, for ten long years – ever since the totalitarian regime she supported as a child fell. But now the new government is offering a chance at redemption, if she can find a missing girl, someone the Delegation cruelly displaced. But that girl could be anywhere. And the cost of finding her might be more than Sonya is willing to pay.

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi, Tor, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-509-83531-7.
Jamie Gray embarks on the trip of a lifetime – to protect enormous kaiju on an alternate Earth that never saw the dinosaur extinction asteroid. But not all is safe in this human-free world…  Click on the title link for a review of the hardback.

Star Wars: Tempest Runner – The High Republic by Canavan Scott, Penguin, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-529-15019-3.
Delve into the cutthroat world of one of the High Republic’s greatest foes, the merciless Lourna Dee, in this full script for the Star Wars audio original.

Compelling Science Fiction edited by Joe Stech, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-64939-4.
Celebrating the enduring spirit of hard science fiction this new anthology is a tribute to Compelling Science Fiction magazine whose publisher Joe Stech is the foreword writer and consulting editor of this new collection of stories from contemporary and classic authors including Otis Kline, Adrian Tchaikovsky and H. G. Wells. Joe Stech is the former publisher and editor of the much-lauded Compelling Science Fiction Magazine and a great believer in the power of science fiction to inspire progress in the world. With a background in physics, biochemistry and software engineering, he works as a cloud architect in Colorado.

About Time by Jodi Taylor, Headline, £18.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-472-28691-8.
After their heroic efforts to safeguard the Acropolis and prevent the Paris Time-Stop, the Time Police have gone from zero to hero in but a single bound.  Then one fateful mission to apprehend a minor criminal selling dodgy historical artefacts blows up in all their faces. An officer is attacked within TPHQ. A prisoner is murdered. And investigations are about to lead to the one place where no officer can legally tread.  Worst of all, trouble is brewing for Team Weird as a surprise revelation tears the team apart.  For Commander Hay, battling to keep the Time Police afloat in a sea of storms, this will turn out to be a very long day.  Billed by the publisher as for fans of Doctor Who, The Thursday Murder Club and Jasper Fforde.

Children of Memory by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tor, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-08717-8.
The follow-up to the highly acclaimed Children of Time and Children of Ruin. Earth is failing. In a desperate bid to escape, the spaceship Enkidu and its captain, Heorest Holt, carry its precious human cargo to a potential new Eden. Generations later, this fragile colony has managed to survive, eking out a hardy existence. Yet life is tough, and much technological knowledge has been lost.  Then Liff, Holt’s granddaughter, hears whispers that the strangers in town aren’t from neighbouring farmland. That they possess unparalleled technology – and that they've arrived from another world. But not all questions are so easily answered, and their price may be the colony itself. Children of Memory by Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author Adrian Tchaikovsky is a far-reaching space opera spanning generations, species and Galaxies.

Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh, Orbit, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-356-51718-6.
Billed by the publisher as The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet meets Ender’s Game in this science fiction debut from an award-winning voice in SFF.  All her life Kyr has trained for the day she can avenge the destruction of planet Earth by an all-powerful, reality-shifting weapon known as the Wisdom. Raised in the bowels of Gaea Station alongside the last scraps of humanity, she is one of the best warriors of her generation, the sword of a dead planet. Then Command assigns her brother to certain death and relegates her to the nursery to bear sons until she dies trying and she knows she must take humanity’s revenge into her own hands. But she soon learns that not everything she’s been raised to believe is true and the Wisdom is far more complex and dangerous than she could ever have imagined.

Redspace Rising by Brian Trent, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58758-1.
Harris Alexander Pope is the man who ended the Partisan War on Mars. All he seeks now is solitude and a return to the life that was stolen from him. Yet when he learns that the worst war criminals are hiding in other bodies, he is forced into an interplanetary pursuit.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, Penguin, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-15746-8.
Click on the title link for a full standalone review.

Wayward by Chuck Wendig, Del Rey, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-529-10110-2.
Five years ago, they walked across America to a destination only they knew. The sleepwalkers, as the rest of the country named them, were followed by their shepherds: friends and family who gave up everything to protect them.  They finally stopped in Ouray, a small town in Colorado that would become one of the last outposts of human civilisation. Because the sleepwalking epidemic was just the first in a chain of events that led to the end of the world – and the birth of a new one.  The shepherds and the sleepwalkers, now awake, strive to rebuild the world that was taken from them.  Among them are Benji, the scientist struggling through grief to lead; Marcy, the former police officer who just wants to protect those she loves; and Shana, the first to become a shepherd and whose bravery is sorely needed.

Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy – Book 3: Lesser Evil by Timothy Zahn, Penguin, £9.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-529-15010-0.
The fate of the Chiss Ascendancy hangs in the balance in the epic finale of the Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy from Timothy Zahn.

Roadmarks by Roger Zelazny, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23503-8.
This is part of Gollancz's truly excellent 'SF Masterworks' series.  Zelazny was, of course, a leading light of 20th century science fantasy.  Time is relative, and when you live outside time it can be hard to work out where you fit in.  Red Dorakeen has been on the Road for a long time. For all of time, in fact. It stretches infinitely through history, taking him wherever, or whenever, he wants to go.  Except where he wants to be.  He’s not alone on the Road. As people join and leave, they alter the timelines to suit their whims. Exits disappear as things change and working out how to bring them back could take . . . forever.  Fortunately, Red has all the time he could ever need.

 

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Autumn 2022

Forthcoming Fantasy Books

 

African Folk & Fairy Tales edited by Lere Adeyemi, Flame Tree Press, £10.99 / Can$19.99 / US$14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17231-5.
A collector’s edition of folk and fairy tales from the continent of Africa, with stories from regions now part of modern nations like Libya, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, who inherit the folk and mythic tales of ancient peoples. Here you’ll find stories of ogres and tricksters, riddles and poems, and great heroes. Introduction: Lere Adeyemi, s Professor of Yoruba Literature and Culture in the Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, University of Ilorin, Nigeria. His areas of specialization are Yoruba literature and culture, particularly oral traditions and folklores.

The Ruined by Renée Ahdieh, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-36843-7.
The conclusion to the quartet that began with The Beautiful.  The Sylvan Vale and the Sylvan Wyld are at war. In an effort to protect the weakened Winter Court, Bastien rallies powerful allies and friends in New Orleans to come to their aid. Meanwhile, under protection alongside her injured mother in the Summer Court.  When she realises war between the fey courts is imminent, she journeys with Ali to find the time-travelling mirror and change their fate. But when Celine’s rivals realise Bastien has rallied his allies in the mortal world, they decide to take the fight to him.

The Whispering Dark by Kelly Andrew, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23485-7.
Lane has always talked to the dark.  She just never expected it to talk back.  Colton has a secret. When he was nine years old he died.  The day a former Godbole student turns up dead, Lane and Colton form a tenuous alliance uncovering deeply buried university secrets. When something old and nameless takes root in Lane’s bones, they’re left scrabbling to exorcise the entity before it tears her apart. They discover the deadly toll of leaving the space between worlds open for too long.

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree, Tor, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-035-00730-1.
Orc barbarian Viv is ready to hang up her sword and pursue a more peaceful passion: opening a coffee shop. But her past isn’t ready to leave her behind – or the fabled piece of loot she took with her.  High fantasy, low stakes – with a double-shot of coffee.  After decades of raising hell, Viv the orc barbarian is finally hanging up her sword for good.  Now, she sets her sights on a new dream – one that involves pulling more shots than punches. Armed with hope and a hard-earned secret, she plans to open the first coffee shop in Thune.  To build something that will last, Viv needs a new crew. She enlists a gruff hob builder shunned by humans, and a shy baker whose cinnamon rolls are to die for. Then there’s Tandri, a charming succubus who’s determined not to let anyone assume anything about her.  But Thune has a shady underbelly that keeps goading Viv to take up her sword once more. New enemies threaten her beloved coffee shop and ragtag team. And Viv’s adventuring past isn’t so eager to leave her behind – or the fabled piece of loot she took with her.  Legends & Lattes is a cosy, heart-warming slice-of-life fantasy about found families and fresh starts – billed by the publisher as perfect for fans of TJ Klune, Katherine Addison and T. Kingfisher.

Indian Myths & Legends edited by Raj Balkaran, Flame Tree Press, £10.99 / Can$19.99 / US$14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17327-5.
India, one of the great civilizations, spawned a fascinating canon of myths and legends. With multiple gods, and a riot of joy and character, this new book explores the themes and landscapes that created the tales, with the stories of Krishna, Buddha and Shiva, and some of the many different versions of creation. Raj Balkaran is a prolific scholar of Indian mythology and seasoned online educator. He teaches online at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and at his own School of Indian Wisdom where he delivers original courses applying Indian wisdom teachings to modern life.

Untitled Forsaken Trilogy, Book 1 by R. J. Barker, Orbit, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-356-51723-0.
Book one in a new fantasy trilogy from R. J. Barker, the British Fantasy Society Award-winning author of The Call of the Bone Ships and Age of Assassins.

The Collected Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie and edited by Robert Douglas- Fairhurst, Oxford University Press, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-192-84743-0.
A new collection of Peter Pan stories, showing the evolution of this enduring children’s classic. Enriched by appendices of additional material relating to Peter Pan, including the short story 'The Blot on Peter Pan' and the 'Captain Hook at Eton' speech.  In this collected edition, Robert Douglas- Fairhurst brings together five of the main versions of the Peter Pan story, from Peter Pan’s first appearance in 'The Little White Bird', to his novelisation of the story, the stage version, and unrealised silent film script. This edition contains a lively introduction, detailed explanatory notes, original illustrations, and appendices that include Barrie’s coda to the play that was only performed once.

The Winter Garden by Alexandra Bell, Penguin, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-529-10084-6.
Billed by the publisher as for readers of The Toymakers and The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, a dark, magical novel set in the world of Victorian pleasure gardens.

The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake, Tor, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-09530-2.
Six magicians were offered the opportunity of a lifetime.  Five are now members of the Alexandrian Society. And two paths lie before them.  The secret society of Alexandrians is unmasked. Its newest recruits realize the institute is capable of raw, world-changing power. It’s also headed by a man with plans to change life as we know it – and these are already under way. But the cost of this knowledge is as high as the price of power, and each initiate must choose which faction to follow. Yet as events gather momentum and dangers multiply, which of their alliances will hold? Can friendships hold true and are enemies quite what they seem?

The Desert Prince by Peter V. Bretts, Harper Collins, £6.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-008-30982-4.
Fifteen years have passed since the demons were destroyed.  Heroes have become legend, and those that remain live in their shadows.  Olive, Princess of Hollow, has her entire life planned out. But the more her mother writes the script, the more Olive rails against playing the parts she is assigned.  Darin is the son of the man people say saved the world.  Everyone expects greatness from Darin, but the only thing he’s ever been great at is hiding.  When Olive and Darin step across the wards one night, they learn that the demons are not all gone, and those that remain hunger for revenge. Are they ready to be heroes.

Loki by Melvin Burgess, Coronet, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-399-71442-6.
A wild ride through Norse mythology, from the time the gods defeated races of monsters and hurtling through famous stories, including Odin hanging himself on the World Tree, the theft of the corrupting gold ring and the murder of Baldr, the god of love and the sun. This narrative may seem familiar enough at first, but the reader should beware. Loki is, after all, a trickster, an unreliable narrator. Contemporary in tone, this is a heartfelt plea to overthrow the old gods of power and authority and instigate a new era of love and intelligence.

Sebastian by P. D. Cacek, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58688-8.
Morgan Riley is familiar with his mother’s creative eccentricities, so he’s not overly concerned when his mother shows him her newest series that spotlights a small, featureless white plastic manikin that his mother has named Sebastian. However, as Morgan watches his mother’s obsession with the manikin grow, he begins to question her sanity…

Ancient Images by Ramsey Campbell, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58764-9.
Tower of Fear is a lost Karloff and Lugosi film. Researcher Sandy Allan vows to track it down. She learns how haunted the production was and survivors are, and becomes haunted herself. The film contains a secret of Redfield, a titled family. For fertility the Redfield land demands a sacrifice and a band of ideal victims is heading there.

Fellstones by Ramsey Campbell, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58757-1.
Paul Dunstan is brought back to Fellstones to participate in the village festival. When he grew up he moved away to hide from his adoptive parents and from the influence of the seven ancient stones on the green. As he begins to recall what he fled from, the festival will revive the purpose for which an occultist called down the stones from space… Ramsey Campbell is one of the greatest horror writers of his generation, inheriting the crown of H. P. Lovecraft and Algernion Blackwood. He has received the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association, the Living Legend Award of the International Horror Guild and the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dark Observation by Catherine Cavendish, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58683-3.
London 1941. Night after night the bombs rain down, yet, deep underground, Violet has far more to fear than air raids. A mysterious man, a room only she can see, memories she can no longer trust, and a best friend who denies their shared past... Something – or someone – is targeting her, and the truth is far stranger than she could ever imagine.

The School for Good and Evil (7) by Soman Chainani, Harper Collins, £7.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-008-50802-9.
Evil begins. Two brothers. One Good. One Evil.  Together, the brothers watch over the Endless Woods and prepare students to face their fate at the School for Good and Evil.  In this brand-new novel, Soman Chainani takes us back in time to the school’s beginning and the never-before-told events leading up to Sophie and Agatha’s dramatic arrival at the school and the beginning of their epic fairy tale.

Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-70711-4.
A witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their destinies.  Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the court as Seer with her cleverly phrased – and not always true – divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not-charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip her of her title once he’s crowned. After the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse about the prince’s future bride. Her wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t protect her against fate – nor the doomed attraction growing between her and the prince…

Joan by Katherine J. Chen, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-399-70611-7.
Ok, so this is really an historical fiction, but with religious visions and deity inspired motivation, not to mention its historical setting, this feminist reimagining of the life of Joan of Arc could pass as fantasy.  Reckless, steel-willed and brilliant, Joan has survived a childhood steeped in both joy and violence to claim an extraordinary – and fragile – position at the head of the French army. The battlefield and the royal court alike are full of dangers, and Joan finds herself under suspicion from all sides – as well as under threat from her own ambition. With unforgettably vivid characters and propulsive storytelling, Joan is an epic, historical fiction, and feminist celebration of a woman who left an indelible mark on history.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, Hodder & Stoughton, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-39912-7.
The first in a trilogy.  Paris, 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power. No one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission to hunt down the ancient artefact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: an engineer with a debt to pay; a historian banished from his home; a dancer with a sinister past; and a brother in arms if not blood. What they find might change the course of history – but only if they can stay alive. See also the next title below…  The author's work has been nominated for the Locus and Nebula awards and was on Time’s 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi, Hodder & Stoughton, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-39912-7.
See also previous title above and next below.

The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi, Hodder & Stoughton, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-39912-7.
See also the previous two titles above.

Three Kisses, One Midnight by Roshani Chokshi, Evenly Skye & Sandhya Menon, Hodder & Stoughton, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-35447-8.
Love is the most powerful magic of all. This Halloween, magic will reawaken in the town of Moon Ridge, and any love forge that night will last forever. At least, that’s what the founder’s fable says, and best friends Onny, Ash and True – AKA ‘The Coven’ – aren’t taking any chances. After brewing a supposed love potion from a recipe passed down by Onny’s grandmother, each member of The Coven sets off to try to charm the love of their life. One falls for an unexpected suitor. Another paints himself into a corner. And the third refuses to believe in magic at all… until true love proves her wrong.

Scarlet by Genevieve Cogman, Tor, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-08372-9.
The Scarlet Pimpernel is rescuing vampire aristocrats from Revolutionary France. But one young mage is determined to stop his dastardly plans.  In Revolutionary France, the aristocrats are vampires – and they face the guillotine. However, the Scarlet Pimpernel, a disguised British noble, is determined to rescue them. These predators are being offered sanctuary by their aristocratic British kin, but at great cost to London’s ordinary people.  Then an English maid discovers the only power that could stop them. Assuming she survives.  Scarlet is the first book in the trilogy, set during the turbulent French Revolution, and featuring all of Genevieve Cogman’s trademark wit and fast-paced plotting. Billed by the publisher as perfect for fans of The Invisible Library series, Kim Newman and Gail Carriger.

The Winter Garden by Nicola Cornick, HQ, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-008-27855-7.
Remember, remember, the fifth of November…  1605: Anne Catesby fears for her family. Her son, the darkly charismatic Robert, is secretly plotting to kill the King, placing his wife and child in grave danger. Anne must make a terrible choice: betray her only child, or risk her family’s future.  Present day: When her dreams of becoming a musician are shattered, Lucy takes refuge in her family’s ancestral home in Oxfordshire. Everyone knows it was originally home to Robert Catesby, the gunpowder plotter. As Lucy spends more time in the beautiful winter garden that Robert had made, she starts to have strange visions of a woman in Tudor dress, terrified and facing a heartbreaking dilemma.  As Lucy and Anne’s stories converge, a shared secret that has echoed through the centuries separating them, will change Lucy’s life forever…  Sweeping generations from the 1600s to the present day, with the Gunpowder Plot at its heart, Nicola Cornick’s timeslip novel is billed by the publisher as perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley, Barbara Erskine and Kate Morton.

Eden by Jim Crace, Picador, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-06243-4.
From the twice Booker-shortlisted author of Harvest and QuarantineEden opens with a summons. The gardeners of Eden are called by their masters, the angels, to see a dead body. It is that of a bird, a creature who has strayed beyond the garden walls. The garden’s inhabitants live an eternal and unblemished life, but outside, where there is poverty and sickness and death, this bird has met a fate that is beyond their imagining. And why would anyone want to leave? Eden is a place of immortality and plenty – bountiful fields and orchards and lakes, a place where the lord’s bidding is done.  But really this summons is a warning. Because something is wrong in Eden.  Years after Adam and Eve left the garden, a woman called Tabi has escaped, and the angels fear further rebellion. They know there are two in Eden, gardener Ebon and Jamin, the angel with the broken wing, who would follow Tabi anywhere, who would risk the world outside if only they can find her.  Perhaps a fall is coming…  A fabular novel that toys with creation myth, asking where authority lies, who commands fear and what – outside of hallowed ground – is an angel but a bird?

Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson, Harper Collins, £12.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-0-008-47851-3.
The first in a supernatural new series from the author of Wonderland, Her Majesty’s Royal Coven follows a top secret government department of witches and the deadly threat to the nation that they must confront.  Hidden among us is a secret coven of witches. They protect crown and country from magical forces and otherworldly evil. But their greatest enemy will come from within.  There are whisperings of a prophecy that will bring the coven to its knees, and five best friends are about to be caught at the centre. Life as a modern witch was never simple, but now it’s about to get apocalyptic.  Prepare to be bewitched by Juno Dawson’s first adult series.  A story of ancient prophecies and modern dating, of sacred sisterhood and demonic frenemies.

The Killing God by Stephen Donaldson, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-22175-8.
The kingdoms of Belleger and Amika had been fighting for generations, until they learned of a terrible threat to destroy the Last Repository, an immense hidden library. To face this enemy, the nations allied their lands and prepared for war.  Time for preparation is over. Black ships and sorcery test their defences, the priests of the Great God Rile sow dissent.  Belleger and Amika are all that stand between the Great God’s forces and the destruction of the Last Repository and its treasure of knowledge.

Minecraft: The Dragon by Nicky Draydon, Penguin, £7.99, pbk. ISBN 978-1-529-15765-9.
Take flight with the ender dragon in this official Minecraft novel! When a desert town is threatened by villager raids, a young adventurer turns to a newborn dragon to save her home.

Scottish Folk & Fairy Tales edited by Sarah Dunnigan, Flame Tree Press, £10.99 / Can$19.99 / US$14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17229-2.
A Collector’s edition of Scottish folk and fairy tales full of mischief, with spirits and goblins, bogies, witches, kelpies and mer-folk lurking behind every tree and craggy rock at midnight. In these pages the Fairy queen and the silent folk mingle with animals that speak of prophesy and lore, and enchantments that rule the twilight. Sarah Dunnigan teaches and writes about Scotland’s medieval and renaissance literature, early women writers, ballads, fairy tales and children’s literature. She has edited Violet Jacob’s fairy tale collection, The Golden Heart (1904) and has written about mermaids in Scottish Romantic writing.

A Clockwork River by J. S. Emery, Ad Astra, £10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-800-24994-3
Time is running out for the Clockwork River….  Lower Rhumbsford is a city far removed from its glory days. Its founding fatherschannelled the river Rhumb's mighty flow into a feat that would come to power an empire. But a thousand years have passed since then, and the Rhumb has been reduced to a sluggish trickle.  The fortunes of the Locke family, descendants of the city's most celebrated engineer, are similarly reduced. Siblings Samuel and Briony Locke must distract themselves: Sam does so with his vast lock collection; Briony with her alchemical experiments.  One night Samuel leaves the house carrying five of his most precious locks and doesn't come back. And as Briony begins to search for her brother, she finds herself drawn into a web of ancestral secrets and imperial intrigues as a ruthless new power arises...  Epic, rollicking and in love with language, Jacob and Sara Emery's sprawling debut novel is a rare and delicious commodity – the world's first hydropunk novel.  Click on the title link for a standalone review.

Notorious Sorcerer by Davinia Evans, Orbit, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-356-51868-8.
A debut secondary world fantasy set in a city that’s bursting with alchemical magic, sharp banter, and a compelling queer romance. The city is on the edge of destruction and the planes of existence are crumbling. Welcome to Bezim, where tribes of sword-slinging bravi race through the night, and the rich and idle alchemists make magic out of mixing and measuring the four planes of reality. Siyon Velo just about scrapes a living hopping between the planes of reality to harvest the ingredients the alchemists need. When Siyon accidentally commits an act of impossible magic, he’s catapulted into the limelight. Except the limelight is a bad place to be when the planes themselves start lurching out of alignment, threatening to send the rest of the city into the sea. If Siyon and his friends don’t fix the cascading failures of magic in their plane, the Powers and their armies in the other three will do it for them.

Irish Folk & Fairy Tales edited by Kelly Fitzgerald, Flame Tree Press, £10.99 / Can$19.99 / US$14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17228-5.
Collector’s edition of Irish Fairy stories from the fertile lands of Celtic imagination, where the magic of the everyday is manifested in the world around us. A selection of fables, folklore and fairy tales with tricksters, banshees, fairy queens and ancient spirits. Kelly Fitzgerald is Head of Irish Folklore & Ethnology in the School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore at University College Dublin. She’s also Chairperson of ANU Productions, a Director of the National Folklore Foundation, and current President of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.

The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-38097-2.
The sequel to Once Upon a Broken Heart.

A Dowry of Blood by S. T. Gibson, Orbit, £12.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-356-51928-9.
A deliciously dark retelling of Dracula, A Dowry of Blood is a sensual story of obsession, desire and the length we will go to protect the ones we love.  This is my last love letter to you, though some would call it a confession… Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king.  But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realises that her beloved is capable of terrible things. Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husbands dark secrets. With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death.

One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig, Orbit, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-356-51949-4.
Elspeth Spindle needs more than luck to stay safe in the eerie, mist-locked kingdom of Blunder – she needs a monster. She calls him the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head. He protects her. He keeps her secrets. But nothing comes for free, especially magic. When Elspeth meets a mysterious highwayman on the forest road, she is thrust into a world of shadow and deception, joining a dangerous quest to cure Blunder from the dark magic infecting it. Except the highwayman just so happens to be the King’s own nephew, Captain of the most dangerous men in Blunder and guilty of high treason. He and Elspeth have until Solstice to gather twelve Providence Cards – the keys to the cure. But as the stakes heighten and their undeniable attraction intensifies, Elspeth is forced to face her darkest secret yet: the Nightmare is slowly, darkly, taking over her mind. And she might not be able to stop him.

Foul Lady of Fortune by Chloe Gong, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-38027-9.
Four years ago, Rosalind Lang was brought back from the brink of death by a strange experiment, which left her unable to die. Now, desperate for redemption from her traitorous past, she uses her abilities as an assassin for her country. But when a series of murders begins causing unrest in Shanghai, Rosalind is forced to pose as the wife of another Nationalist spy. As they attempt to unravel the conspiracy, they soon find there are deeper and more horrifying layers to this mystery than they ever imagined.

Belladonna by Adalyn Grace, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-36722-5.
Signa Farrow has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her wellbeing. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy. But when she arrives, Signa discovers a murderer on the loose, putting her new family in grave danger. Her only chance of uncovering the killer is an alliance with Death himself – but their growing connection could be more irresistible than she ever dared imagine…

The Garden of Empire by J. T. Greathouse, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23292-1.
War makes monsters of everyone.  Foolish Cur finds that his allies in the rebellion might cross any line if it means freedom from the Empire.  Rebellion has unintended consequences.  Koro Ha discovers the Empire is not so forgiving of those who raise a traitor.  The gods are lurking in the shadows.  The emperor plans his own coup against the gods, and they will wreak destruction if he tries…  Billed by the publisher as perfect for fans of Robin Hobb.

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne, Orbit, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-356-51425-3.
Lik-Rifa, the dragon god of legend, has been freed from her eternal prison.  Now she plots a new age of blood and conquest. As Orka continues the hunt for her missing son, the Bloodsworn sweep south in a desperate race to save one of their own – and Varg takes the first steps on the path of vengeance.  Elvar has sworn to fulfil her blood oath and rescue a prisoner from the clutches of Lik-Rifa and her dragonborn followers, but first she must persuade the Battle-Grim to follow her. Yet even the might of the Bloodsworn and Battle-Grim cannot stand alone against a dragon god.  Their hope lies within the mad writings of a chained god. A book of forbidden magic with the power to raise the wolf god Ulfrir from the dead and bring about a battle that will shake the foundations of the Earth.

Sorcerer’s Edge: The Tethered Citadel Book 3 by David Hair, Jo Fletcher Books, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-40210-0.
A renegade sorcerer and his desperate band of misfits thought they’d found riches beyond belief – but the empire neither forgives nor forgets…  After all they’ve suffered, rebel sorcerer Raythe Vyre and his fortune-seekers are still empty- handed, but they’ve found real treasure: peace.  Deep inside the Ice Wastes, Raythe’s people stumbled upon Rath Argentium, the legendary Aldar city, and the long-lost Tangato people. After fighting through betrayal, treachery and powerful magic, they forged a hard-won treaty with the Tangato and their extraordinary queen, Shiazar. Now they’ve put aside their dreams of wealth and revenge and embraced something better: a life outside the tyrannical Bolgravian Empire.  But the Bolgravian Empire never gives up.  The empire hasn’t forgotten Raythe Vyre, and his enemies know where he is. Guided by Toran Zorne, the implacable imperial assassin, they are coming to claim Rath Argentium for themselves. Raythe and Shiazar know all too well that courage and cunning won’t be enough this time: they are outnumbered, outgunned and out of time.

House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson, Transworld, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-63250-9.
A compelling Gothic tale of blood and dark desire.  Marion Shaw has been raised in the slums, where want and deprivation are all she knows. Despite longing to leave the city and its miseries, she has no real hope of escape until the day she spots a strange advertisement in the newspaper, seeking a 'bloodmaid'.  Though she knows little about the far north - where wealthy nobles live in luxury and drink the blood of those in their service - Marion applies to the position. In a matter of days, she finds herself at the notorious House of Hunger. There, Marion is swept into a world of dark debauchery - and there, at the centre of it all is her.  Her name is Countess Lisavet. Loved and feared in equal measure, she presides over this hedonistic court. And she takes a special interest in Marion. Lisavet is magnetic, charismatic, seductive - and Marion is eager to please her new mistress. But when her fellow bloodmaids begin to go missing in the night, Marion is thrust into a vicious game of cat and mouse. She'll need to learn the rules of her new home – and fast - or its halls will soon become her grave.

All of Our Demise by Christine Herman, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23391-1.
For the first time the tournament is breaking. The boundaries between the city and the arena have fallen. A dead boy now lives again. A new champion has entered the fray, to break the curse for good…  no matter the cost.  As the curse teeters towards collapse, the surviving champions face a choice: dismantle the tournament or fight to the death as intended.  Alliances will be severed. Hearts will break. Lives will end. Because a tale this wicked was never destined for happily ever after.

Viking Folk & Fairy Tales edited by S. Hodge, Flame Tree Press, £10.99 / Can$19.99 / US$14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17230-8.
A collector’s edition of Viking fairy tales, bringing the magic of the natural world and combining it with the common sense of the everyday. Good folk are rewarded for their hard work, the honest and the faithful are valued: ‘The Little Match Girl’ and ‘Katie Woodencloak’ (a Norwegian Cinderella) are just two of the delightful stories. S. Hodge is an author, historian and artist with over 80 books published, mainly on art and history, spanning from the Knights Templar to World War Two. She also writes articles, web resources for museums and galleries, and gives workshops and lectures at universities and museums.

Christmas Gothic edited by Jerrold E. Hogle, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17164-6.
A seasonal evocation of the dark and moody, the ghastly, the ghostly and the magical Christmas short story. New stories from open submissions join the classic tales of Algernon Blackwood, James Joyce, E. F. Benson, Elizabeth Gaskell and more. Jerrold E. Hogle is Professor Emeritus of English and University Distinguished Professor at the University of Arizona in the USA. The winner of Guggenheim, Mellon and other fellowships for research – and the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Keats-Shelley Association of America – he has published extensively on English Romantic literature, literary theory and the Gothic.

The Tale of Beowulf edited by J. K. Jackson, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-839-64992-9.
An epic poem probably written in the 900s CE, Beowulf tells of events 600 years before, where the hero Beowulf is implored to assist the King of the Danes in defending his halls against the monster Grendel. Latest title in the new series created for the modern reader to introduce the heroes, cultures, myths and religions of former times. General Editor: Jake Jackson has written, edited and contributed to over 20 books on mythology and folklore.

Turkish Folktales edited by J. K. Jackson, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17332-9.
Turkish folk tales are curious and bizarre, beautiful and delightful, combining elements of ancient Anatolian folklore with Slavonic, Scandinavian and Arabian influences. This wonderful collection contains stories ranging from ‘How the Devil lost his Wager’ and ‘Paradise Sold by the Yard’ to ‘The Horse-Devil and the Witch’ and ‘The Cinder-Youth’. Jake Jackson has written, edited and contributed to over 20 books on mythology and folklore.

Slavic World Myths and Legends edited by J. K. Jackson, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17331-2.
A new collection of tales from the Slavic peoples of Eastern Europe, from the Polish to the Macedonians, the Czechs and the Serbians, with roots in pagan folklore, and influenced by the Viking traders who settled in Kiev in the mid-ninth century. Stories include ‘The King of the Toads’ and ‘Vassilissa the Cunning and the Tsar of the Sea.’ Jake Jackson has written, edited and contributed to over 20 books on mythology and folklore.

Demon Dagger by Russell James, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58695-6.
Drew Price has a gift, or perhaps a curse. When a demon possesses a person, he can see the horrific-looking demon that dwells within. A demon named Nicobar sets its sights on punishing him, starting by taking the soul of Drew’s son, condemning the boy to a life as a psychopath. Can Drew save his son’s soul and end Nicobar’s time on Earth?

The World We Make by N. K. Jemisin, Orbit, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-356-51269-3.
A new fantasy tale from the record-breaking, triple Hugo Award-winning author of The Fifth Season.

Fairy Tale by Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-70542-4.
Charlie Reade is seventeen when he meets a dog named Radar and his aging master, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it. And soon Charlie will inherit the keys to a parallel world…  Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this wonderful story about another world than ours, where good and evil are at war, and a heroic boy and his dog must lead the battle. The stakes could not be higher.

Heat Wave by T. J. Klune, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-69315-9.
Nick, Seth, Gibby and Jazz are back in action bringing justice, protection and disaster energy to the people of Nova City. An unexpected hero returns to Nova City and crash-lands into Nick’s home, upturning his life, his family, and his understanding of what it means to be a hero.

Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence – An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R. F. Kuang, Harper Collins, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-0-008-50182-2.
Oxford, 1836. The city of dreaming spires. It is the centre of all knowledge and progress in the world.  At its centre is Babel, the Royal Institute of Translation, the tower from which all the power of the Empire flows. Orphaned in Canton and brought to England by a mysterious guardian, Babel seemed like paradise to Robin Swift. Until it became a prison… But can a student stand against an empire?

Midnight in Everwood by M. A. Kuzniar, HQ, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-008-45070-0.
In the darkness of night, magic awaits…  Nottingham, 1906.  Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but, as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered – she must marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But, when a mysterious toymaker, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in Marietta’s life.  After Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance on Christmas Eve, Marietta discovers it carries a magic all of its own – a magic darker than anyone could imagine.  As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself transported from her family’s ballroom to a frozen sugar palace, silent with secrets, in a forest of snow-topped fir trees. She must find a way to return home before she’s trapped in Everwood’s enchanting grip forever.  In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here…

The Virgin of the Seven Daggers and Other Stories by Vernon Lee (edited by Aaron worth), Oxford University Press, £7.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-198-83754-1.
This new edition includes Lee’s landmark 1890 collection Hauntings complete, along with six additional tales and the 1880 essay ‘Faustus and Helena’, in which Lee probes the elusive nature of the supernatural as a ‘vital... fluctuating... potent’ force that resists definite representation. Aaron Worth’s contextual introduction, drawing upon Lee’s newly published letters, reassesses her place in the pantheon of the fantastic.

Her Fierce Creatures by Maria Lewis, Piatkus, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-349-42726-3.
The final book in Maria Lewis’s epic, bestselling feminist fantasy series, The Supernatural Sisters. Werewolf Tommi Grayson always knew she was a weapon, she just needed the right target. Never in a million years did she expect that target to be the current leaders of the supernatural world. Now, with her three strongest allies and their collective of monsters, misanthropes and misfits, she’s risking everything to save everything, fighting for a better world for every being that comes after…

The Dragon's Promise by Elizabeth Lim, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-35679-3.
Shiori’s adventure continues in the sequel to Six Crimson Cranes.  On her stepmother’s deathbed, Shiori made her a promise, to restore her damaged pearl to its rightful owner. But to fulfil that vow, Shiori will have to leave behind everyone she loves – including her betrothed, Takkan – travel to the dragons’ magical underwater kingdom, and face untold danger…

The Veiled Throne by Ken Liu, Ad Astra – Head of Zeus, £12, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-784-97331-5.
Princess Thera, once known as Empress Uina of Dara, yielded the throne to her younger brother in order to journey to Ukyu-Gonde to war with the Lyucu, and has crossed the impenetrable Wall of Storms with a fleet of ships and ten thousand people. Now she faces new challenges.  In Dara, the Lyucu leadership bristles with rivalries, as power and perspectives change between the remains of the Dandelion courts. Here, mothers and daughters, Empress and Pékyu alike, nurture the seeds of plans that will take years to bloom. As the conquerors and the conquered jockey for position in these new regimes, tradition gives way to new justifications for power.

The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-70395-6.
Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict – and 18-year-old Mererid ‘Mer’ is well-acquainted with both. As the last living water diviner, she can manipulate water with magic – a unique elemental power many would kill to possess. For years, Mer has been running from the prince who bound her into his service – and forced her to kill thousands with her magic. But then Mer’s old handler – the king’s spymaster – returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince who abused them both.

Scottish Ghost Stories edited by Helen McClory, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17237-7.
From the misty air of the highlands, to the reekie streets of Edinburgh’s underground city, comes an entertaining selection of classic and mysterious Scottish ghost stories, including ‘The Floating Head of the Benrachett Inn’, ‘The White Lady of Stirling’, ‘The Hauntings of the White Dove Hotel’ and ‘Glamis Castle’. Helen McClory is a writer of short, unsettling fiction. She lives in Edinburgh and grew up between there and the isle of Skye. Her first collection, On the Edges of Vision, won the Saltire First Book of the Year 2015 and was followed by the ‘matured, darker companion’ of Mayhem & Death. Her debut novel, Flesh of the Peach, also won Scottish First Book of the Year.

Irish Ghost Stories edited by Maura McHugh, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17238-4.
A collection of Irish ghost stories by Oscar Wilde (‘The Canterville Ghost’), Sheridan Le Fanu (‘The Child that Went with the Fairies’, ‘Stories of Lough Guir’), Charles Maturin (‘Melmoth the Wanderer’), Lord Dunsany (‘The Ghost in the Corner’, ‘The Sword of Welleran’), Fitz-James O’Brien (‘The Diamond Lens’, ‘What Was It?’). Maura McHugh lives in Galway, Ireland and graduated with an MA in Irish 19th Century Supernatural Fiction. She writes across a variety of media, including prose, theatre, film/TV, video games, and comic books. Her 2019 short story collection The Boughs Withered When I Told Them My Dreams, was short-listed for the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection.

This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi, Harper Collins, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-755-500093.
Described by the author as ‘Persian legend meets A Game of Thrones with a Bridgerton vibe’, this is Tahereh Mafi’s first novel in this epic, romantic fantasy series, featuring clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people.  To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.  The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom – and the world.

Kingdom of the Feared by Kerri Maniscalco, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-70322-2.
The dazzling conclusion to the 'Kingdom of the Wicked' trilogy.  Emilia is reeling from the shocking discovery that her twin sister, Vittoria, is alive. But before she faces the demons of her past, Emilia yearns to claim her king, the seductive Prince of Wrath. Emilia doesn’t simply desire his body, she wants his heart and soul – but that’s something the enigmatic demon can’t promise her. When a member of House Greed is assassinated, Emilia and Wrath are drawn to the rival court. Damning evidence points to Vittoria as the murderer, but Emilia will do anything to solve this new mystery and find out who her sister really is.

The Voyage of the Forgotten by Nick Martell, Gollancz, £18.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-22570-1.
Michael Kingman has discovered his destiny, but the distance to what he wants is as wide as the world, and just as cruel. Meanwhile, Michael’s sometime mentor is trying to keep him in line to aid his own hidden agenda. Outclassed by powers that have been working for centuries to bring an end to a world filled with those he loves, Michael must gather his allies and do the impossible – the alternative is too awful to imagine.

The Darkening by Sunya Mara, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-35487-4.
Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries. When her mother is caught by the queen’s soldiers, they sentence her to death by the Storm that surrounds the city and curses anyone it touches. When the queen’s soldiers – led by a paranoid prince – catch up to Vesper’s father, Vesper will do whatever it takes to save him from sharing that fate. Even arm herself with her father’s book of dangerous magic. Even infiltrate the prince’s elite squad of soldier-sorcerers. Even cheat her way into the prince’s cold heart.

Garth Marenghi's Terrortome by Garth Marenghi, Hodder Studio, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-39940-0.
I’m Garth Marenghi. Author. Dreamweaver. Visionary. Plus actor. TerrorTome is a petrifying mind-realm, or ‘psych-zone’, if you will (and you must), charting the paranormal adventures of horror paperback author Nick Steen. Rejected by both Heaven and Hell for his blasphemous visions, Nick is a fallen angel now living in purgative limbo, chained (literally) to a cursed typewriter in his lonely Hemel Hempstead flat, which, unknown to him, is also a cosmic portal to an unexplored demonic realm. Three e-books and a special edition: an essential for fans of Darkplace.

Cursed by Marissa Meyer, Faber, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-571-37160-0.
The finale to the retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Serilda and Gild attempt to break the curses that tether their spirits to Adalheid’s castle before the Endless Moon, when the Erlking means to capture one of the seven gods and return his lover from the underworld. But it soon becomes clear he doesn’t want just one god – he wants to capture all seven, and force them to bring down the veil that keeps the Dark Ones separate from the land of the mortals. Serilda and Gild must thwart his plans, all while solving the mystery of Gild’s name, freeing his younger sister and protecting their unborn child.

Ordinary Monsters by J. M. Miro, Bloomsbury, £17.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-526-65005-4.
In the shadows was a figure in a cloak, at the bottom of the cobblestone stair, it turned and stared up at them as a still and unmoving as a pillar of darkens, but it had no face, only smoke…  1982 North of Edinburgh, on the edge of an isolated loch, lies an institution of crumbling stone where a strange doctor collects orphans with unusual abilities. In London, two children with such powers are hunted by a figure of darkness. The realms of the dead and the living collide…. The author's Gaslight (2016) was long-listed for the Scotioa Giller Prize. His poetry has won him the Gerald Lampert Award and the ReLit Award.

The Ones We Burn by Rebecca Mix, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-70622-3.
All Ranka wants is to be left alone. But when she is named the next treaty bride to the human kingdom of Isodal, her coven sends her south with a single directive: kill him. Except the prince is kind. He doesn’t want to marry Ranka. And his sister – Princess Aramis – makes her an offer when witches start turning up dead: help her develop a cure, and in return she’ll teach Ranka to contain her magic. Soon, Ranka will have to choose between the coven that raised her, and the princess who sees beyond the monster they shaped her to be.

The Citadel of Forgotten Myths by Michael Moorcock, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60038-5.
This comes from a British grandmaster of 20th century fantasy and one we are sure our late, co-founding editor, Graham, would simply have loved to have read.  Elric returns in this prequel set within the early days of Elric’s wanderings.  Elric, the estranged emperor of the Melnibonéan empire, struggles with his nature while desperately striving to move forward with his dying empire alongside the constant thirst of his soul-sucking sword, Stormbringer. On the hunt for the great Citadel of Forgotten Myths, he seeks the answers to the nature of the phroon of The Young Kingdoms.

The Four Branches of the Mabinogi edited by Shan Morgain, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-839-64993-6.
The ancient Mabinogi is a great world literature and fascinating Celtic mythology. Here in the much-loved Guest translation and including companion tales telling of the earliest King Arthur. Latest title in the new series created for the modern reader to introduce the heroes, cultures, myths and religions of former times. Shan Morgain is an internationalMabinogi expert. She writes from two perspectives: academic scholar (Swansea University), and priestess (House of the Goddess, London). Her ‘Mabinogi Study’ website has been nominated to the UK Web Archive as ‘an important part of Wales’ documentary heritage’.

Black Lake Manor by Guy Morpuss, Viper, £12.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-788-16570-9.
Billed by the publisher as Agatha Christie meets The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August in this cross-genre locked-room murder mystery.  The town of Black Lake is home to a small group of people with a unique ability: once in their lives they can rewind the previous six hours of time.  Ella Manning, part-time police constable, is attending a party at Black Lake Manor when a Pacific storm leaves her and several other guests stranded. And when their billionaire host is discovered brutally murdered in a locked room, she must solve the crime. Against the odds, Ella is sure she has identified the killer … but then time is unwound. With no memory of what she discovered before, her investigation begins again, with very different results. Someone is using their gift to protect a killer, and everyone is a suspect…

Close to Midnight edited by Mark Morris, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58725-0.
Horror anthology.

Lucero by Maya Motayne, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-67607-7.
The conclusion to the 'A Forgery of Magic' series.

Devouring Darkness by Chloe Neill, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23062-0.
Elisa Sullivan always knew her life was going to be… unusual. But she always wanted to make her own way in the world, likely away from her famous family. Elisa had to steady her nerves and sharpen her steel, to fight for the city of Chicago.  Elisa agrees to escort a troubled sorcerer to Chicago for training, but they inadvertently set in motion a scheme of long-awaited magical vengeance. The city may pay an arcane price it can’t afford, unless they rise to the challenge.

Ithaca by Claire North, Orbit, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-356-51604-2.
King Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them have returned, and the women, led by Queen Penelope, have been left behind to run the kingdom. Whilst he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that her husband is dead, and suitors are starting to knock at her door… Between Penelope’s many suitors, a cold war of dubious alliances and hidden knives reigns, as everyone waits for the balance of power to tip one way or another. If Penelope chooses one from amongst them, it will plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. Only through cunning and her spy network of maids can she maintain the delicate balance of power needed for the kingdom to survive.

The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik, Del Rey, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-10091-4.
The one thing you never talk about while you’re in the Scholomance is what you’ll do when you get out – not even the richest enclaver would tempt fate that way. But that impossible dream has somehow come true for El and her classmates. And what’s more, she didn’t even have to become the monstrous dark witch she’s prophesised to become to make it happen. Instead of killing enclavers, she saved them, and now the world is safe for all wizards. Peace and harmony have enveloped all the enclaves of the world.  Just kidding.  Instead, someone else has picked up the project of destroying enclaves in El’s stead, and everyone she saved is at risk again with a full-scale enclave war on the horizon. And so, the first thing El needs to do after miraculously escaping the Scholomance, is to turn straight around and find a way back in.

Victorian Ghost Stories edited by Reggie Oliver, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17240-7.
Chilling ghost stories from the era of the fireside tale, a series of dark and foreboding missives from the masterful pens of Charles Dickens, Algernon Blackwood, William Hope Hodgson, Sabine Baring-Gould, Ambrose Bierce and the master of all, M.R. James. A fantastic new companion for late-night scares as the nights draw in. Reggie Oliver (Introduction) is an actor, director, playwright, illustrator and award-winning author of fiction. Published work includes six plays, three novels, an illustrated children’s book, nine volumes of short stories, including Mrs. Midnight and the biography of the writer Stella Gibbons, Out of the Woodshed. His stories have appeared in over one hundred different anthologies and three ‘selected’ editions of them have been published.

Death’s Key by Beth Overmyer, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58720-5.
Aidan Ingledark’s close to destroying the Goblets Immortal, the magic vessels that imbue imbibers with special abilities, and thus stopping the evil mage Meraude. Potentially allied with him are Slaine, who might be more than he first thought, and the twin Sightfuls, Jinn and Quick. Together, they must escape the wizard Hex and his House of Curses.

Small Angels by Lauren Owen, Tinder Press, £16.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-472-28023-7.
Fantasy with a gothic horror riff.  A wedding in a Suffolk village sees the woods begin to stir with an unsettling magic, and forces a troubled family’s secrets out into the open.  When Chloe turns the key to Small Angels, the church nestled at the edge of Mockbeggar Woods where she is to be married, she is braced for cobwebs and dust. What she doesn’t expect are the villagers’ concerned faces, her fiancé’s remoteness, or the nagging voice in her head that whispers to her of fears she didn’t even know she had.  Something in the woods is beginning to stir, to creep closer to the sleeping houses. Something that should have been banished long ago.  Whatever it is, it’s getting stronger, and pretending it’s not there won’t keep the wedding, or the village – or Chloe – safe.

The Last Feather by Shameez Patel Papathanasiou, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58710-6.
Twenty-two-year-old Cassia’s sister is dying, and she doesn’t know why. Cassia wakes up in another realm to find her missing best friend who knows how to save her sister. But a mysterious and dangerous curse is spreading across the realm and Cassia needs to break the curse, save her best friend and get home before she’s trapped there forever.

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston, HQ, £8.99, pbk. ISBN 978-0-008-56656-2.
Florence Day is a ghost-writer with one big problem. She’s supposed to be penning swoon-worth novels for a famous romance author but, after a bad break-up, Florence no longer believes in love.  And when her strict (but undeniably hot) new editor, Benji Andor, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye.  Although when tragedy strikes and Florence has to head home, the last thing she expects to see is a ghost at her front door. Not just any ghost, however, but the stern form of her still very hot – yet now unquestionably dead – new editor.  As sparks start to fly between them, Florence tells herself she can’t be falling for a ghost – even an infuriatingly sexy one. But can Benji help Florence to realise love isn’t dead, after all?

Old Country by Matt & Harrison Query, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-37544-2.
Fantasy horror. The ranch was our dream home. Nestled in the arms of a valley below the Teton mountains, acres upon acres of wilderness . . . Perfect. Until, naturally, the only neighbours for miles delivered us a dire warning: The valley is cursed. Every season a spirit will manifest itself, starting with a spooky light in the pond, and will kill you if you don’t light a fire and – We made them leave then. Put it to the back of our minds and went about living our new, nearly perfect, lives. Then spring came, and so did the light..

Arthurian Myths & Legends edited by Raluca Radulescu, Flame Tree Press, £10.99 / Can$19.99 / US$14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17328-2.
This collector’s edition offers a new selection of myths, featuring Arthur’s knights of the round table, his love for Queen Guinevere and, of course, the ultimate betrayal by his friend, and most trusted knight, Sir Lancelot. All to awaken the magical and exciting world of King Arthur in the post-Roman era in the British Isles. Raluca Radulescu is Professor of Medieval Literature at Bangor University. She is Director of the Centre for Arthurian Studies and elected Vice-President of the International Arthurian Society – a scholarly society with more than 800 individual members, and 300 institutional members world-wide.

American Ghost Stories edited by Brett Riley, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17239-1.
A collection of classic American tales by Edgar Allan Poe (‘The Mask of the Red Death’), Francis Bret Harte (‘A Ghost of the Sierras’), Edith Wharton (‘All Souls’), Mark Twain (‘A Ghost Story’), Harriet Beecher Stowe (‘The Ghost in the Mill’), O. Henry (‘The Ghost of a Chance’), H.P. Lovecraft (‘The Outsider’) and many more. Brett Riley writes fiction, screenplays, and creative nonfiction, and teaches literature, creative writing, and composition at the College of Southern Nevada. He’s also worked at LSU the University of Alabama, the University of Louisiana-Monroe, and Baton Rouge Community College. His fiction includes, Comanche and a collection of stories, The Subtle Dance of Impulse and Light.

These Twisted Bonds by Lexi Ryan, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-37697-5.
The conclusion to These Hollow Vows. After Abriella’s sister was sold to the fae, she thought life couldn’t get any worse. But when she suddenly finds herself caught in a web of lies of her own making – loving two princes and trusting neither – things are not quite as clear as she once thought. As civil war wages in the Court of Darkness, Brie finds herself unable to choose a side. In this darkly romantic thrill ride, the more Faerie is torn apart from the inside, the clearer it becomes that prophecies don’t lie and Brie has a role to play in the fate of this magical realm – whether she likes it or not.

The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-21527-6.
A return to the epic world of the Mistborn.  For years, frontier lawman turned big-city senator Waxillium Ladrian has hunted the shadowy organisation the Set. When Detective Marasi Colms and her partner Wayne find stockpiled weapons bound for the Outer City of Bilming, this opens a new lead. Conflict between Elendel and the Outer Cities only favours the Set, and their tendrils now reach to the Elendel Senate. It’s a race against time, and Wax must choose whether to set aside his relationship with God and once again become the Sword.

After the Bite by Lynsay Sands, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23507-6.
Immortal Enforcer Valerian just wants to relax, and golf has always helped him unwind. If golf-course owner Natalie thinks it’s a little odd for him to tee off at sunset every evening, she’s keeping it to herself. He knows Natalie is wary of a relationship of any kind…  What will she think when she discovers he’s an Immortal? When danger stalks Natalie, Valerian realises he’s playing a game of life and death and if he loses this round, he risks losing her forever.

Light Perpetual by Andrzej Sapkowski, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-22621-0.
Magician and scoundrel, Reynevan is besieged on all sides and faces the worst if he makes any mistakes in his quest to find his beloved, Jutta. Aided by his companions – the ever-pragmatic Scharley and the mysterious being known as Samson Honeypot – his journey takes him across Bohemian realm.  He will need all his wit, intelligence and cunning if he is to succeed. The political and religious alliances of the Hussite Wars are volatile, and the battle for dominance threatens to devour anyone in its path.

Until the Last by Mike Shackle, Gollancz, £18.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-22529-9.
The conclusion to 'The Last War' series. To beat the ultimate evil, the price is more than you can pay.  The time has come. Sekinowari – the last war – has arrived.  The war with the Egril has changed Tinnstra forever. A coward no more, she’ll go to any length to defeat every last one of her enemies.  Zorique has grown into her powers. It’s time for her to lead her army into Jia and spearhead the fight for her homeland.  The Egril emperor Raaku has been waiting for them.  They will need to give everything they have if Jia hopes to see the dawn.

Persian Myths & Legends edited by Sahba Shayani, Flame Tree Press, £10.99 / Can$19.99 / US$14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17325-1.
The great works of Persia contain some of the most beautiful language in the literary world. The Shah Nameh, Masnavi-e Ma’navi, the Anvar-i Suhayli fables and more, rival Dante’s Divine Comedy, India’s Mahabharata and Sumeria’s Epic of Gilgamesh in their cultural impact, bringing to life the tales of Ancient Persia. Sahba Shayani is Senior Lecturer in Persian at the University of Oxford. He holds a PhD in Persian literature from the University of California, Los Angeles. His research focuses on the role of women and women’s agency in pre-modern Persian epic romance poetry.

The Generation Killer by Adam Simcox, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23079-8.
Billed by the publisher as Line of Duty meets Rivers of London, a supernatural thriller in which a dead detective investigates crimes the living police can’t solve.  On the sixth day, God created Manchester. On the seventh, The Generation Killer intends to tear it down.  There’s a new serial killer in Manchester – and it’s up to a dead guy to catch him. Joe Lazarus, specifically: his latest assignment demands he bring to justice The Generation Killer, a psychopath who murders the oldest member of a family, and the youngest.  Daisy-May has her own problems. Children in the Pen are going missing and Daisy-May resolves to find out who’s taking them.

Tinderbox by W. A. Simpson, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58750-2.
A dark witch seeking vengeance, a kidnapped prince seeking redemption. Summoned to an underground kingdom, they must set aside personal desires as they learn the nightmare denizens of the fey are bringing an ancient source of magic, long dormant, back to life. If they cannot halt the rise of the old magic, it will tear apart the Riven Isles.

Family Business by Jonathan Sims, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-22878-8.
Fantasy horror.  When Diya Burman’s best friend dies, her life falls apart. She loses everything.  But then she gets a new job: working at Slough & Sons, cleaning up after the recently deceased.  Clearing away the remains of lost lives, Diya begins to see things. Horrible things, that can’t be written off as imagination. Nothing is as it seems with the Sloughs.  It’s a dirty business, cleaning up after the dead, and if Diya’s not careful she might end up getting buried under the family tree.

Storm Echo by Nalini Singh, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60451-2.
The next novel in the mesmerising Psy-Changeling Trinity series.  The biggest threat to Ivan lies dormant in his brain – a psychic monster that wants to feed. And the brutal leash he’s kept on it is slipping…  Soleil is a healer who has lost everything… till she finds herself face to face with a lethal stranger. The animal inside her knows this man, but her memories are tattered fragments.  A deadly soldier and a broken healer might be all that stand between life and death for the entire Psy race…

Lore Olympus Volume Two by Rachel Smythe, Del Rey, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-529-15046-9.
Graphic novel. Witness what the gods do after dark in the second volume of a stylish and contemporary reimagining of one of the best-known stories in Greek mythology from creator Rachel Smythe.  Persephone was ready to start a new life when she left the mortal realm for Olympus. However, she quickly discovered the dark side of her glamorous new home – from the relatively minor gossip threatening her reputation to a realm-shattering violation of her safety by the conceited Apollo – and she’s struggling to find her footing in the fast-moving realm of the gods.  Hades is also off-balance, fighting against his burgeoning feelings for the young goddess of spring while maintaining his lonely rule of the Underworld.  As the pair are drawn ever closer, they must untangle the twisted webs of their past and present to build towards a new future.  This full-colour edition of Smythe’s original Eisner-nominated webcomic Lore Olympus features a brand-new, exclusive short story, and brings Greek mythology into the modern age in a sharply perceptive and romantic graphic novel.

Lore Olympus Volume Three by Rachel Smythe, Del Rey, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-529-15046-9.
Graphic novel. All of Olympus – and the Underworld – are talking about the God of the Dead and the sprightly daughter of Demeter.  But despite the rumours of their romance, Hades and Persephone have plenty to navigate on their own.  Since coming to Olympus, Persephone has struggled to be the perfect maiden goddess. Her attraction to Hades has only complicated the intense burden of the gods’ expectations. And after Apollo’s assault, Persephone fears she can no longer bury the intense feelings of hurt and love that she’s worked so hard to hide.

Season of Skulls by Charles Stross, Orbit, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-356-51695-0.
A new adventure begins in the world of the Laundry Files: in a nightmarish vision of a Britain where magic has gone Mainstream.

The Fall of Númenor: and Other Tales from the Second Age of Middle-Earth by J. R. R. Tolkien, edited by Brian Sibley & Christopher Tolkien with art by Alan Lee, Harper Collins, £25, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-008-53783-8.
J.R.R. Tolkien famously described the Second Age of Middle-Earth as a ‘dark age, and not very much of its history is (or need be) told’. And for many years readers would need to be content with the tantalising glimpses of it found within the pages of The Lord of the Rings and its appendices, including the forging of the Rings of Power, the building of the Barad-dur and the rise of Sauron. +++ See also earlier above The first ever single-volume publication of The Lord of the Rings 'Second Age' stories are being published.

Egyptian Myths & Legends edited by Joyce Tyldesley, Flame Tree Press, £10.99 / Can$19.99 / US$14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17326-8.
This collector’s edition brings the stories of the ancients to life, from the birth of creation by the sun god Ra, the murder of Osiris, and the revenge of Horus, to the underworld and afterlife. The Egyptians explained the effects of famine, harvest, floods and death by creating a pantheon of gods that still holds our fascination today. Joyce Tyldesley is Professor of Egyptology at the University of Manchester, where she teaches a suite of online courses to students worldwide. Her book Tutankhamun won the Felicia A. Holton Book Award, given by the Archaeological Institute of America.

The First Binding by R. R. Virdi, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23399-7.
Judge me for what you will. But you will hear my story first.  I buried the village of Ampur under a mountain of ice and snow. Then I killed their god. I’ve stolen old magics and been cursed for it. I started a war with those that walked before mankind and lost the princess I loved, and wanted to save. I’ve called lightning and bound fire. I am legend. And I am a monster.  My name is Ari, I let loose the first evil…  R. R. VIRDI is a two-time Dragon Award finalist and a Nebula Award finalist.

We Will Rise by Tim Waggoner, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$34.95 / US$26.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58524-9.
In Echo Hill, Ohio, the dead begin to reappear, manifesting in various forms and attacking the living. A group of survivors come together after the initial attack all plagued by different ghostly apparitions of their own. Can they make it out alive? And if so, will they still be sane? Or will they die and join the ranks of the vengeful dead?

Dragonlance: Destinies: Volume One by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, Del Rey, £20, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-529-15041-4.
The first new Dragonlance novel from Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman in over a decade, featuring fan-favourite characters from the iconic first two trilogies, Dragonlance Chronicles and Dragonlance Legends – books that brought a generation of readers into the fantasy fold.  Destina Rosethorn – as her name implies – believes herself to be very much a favoured child of destiny. But when her father dies in the War of the Lance, her carefully constructed world comes crashing down. Not only has she lost her beloved father, but the legacy he has left her: a wealthy fiancé and rule over the family lands and castle.  With nothing left in the world to support her but wits and determination, she hatches a bold plan: to secure the Device of Time Journeying she read about in one of her father’s books and prevent her father’s death.  The last known holder of the Device was one of the Heroes of the Lance: the free-spirited kender, Tasselhoff Burrfoot.  But when Destina arrives in Solace – home not only to Tas, but to fellow heroes Caramon and Tika Majere – she sets into motion a chain of events more deadly than she had ever anticipated: one that could change not only her personal history, but the fate of the entire world, allowing a previously-defeated evil to once more gain ascendancy.

Okay Then, That’s Great by Susannah Wise, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23238-9.
Amid visions, dreams and friendships, Marnie is finding her life rather confusing. Can an ageing therapist help her make sense of it all?  For several months Marnie has experienced sightings of her long-dead identical twin sister. She has sought the help of a shrink, Schlap, to work through her problems. Not least her repeated dreams of being a man.  Marnie’s long-suffering partner and chaotic family are not helping matters, either. Perhaps Marnie’s friendship with a woman who is the living embodiment of long-dead author Katherine Mansfield will provide the key to unlock her mind.

 

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Autumn 2022

Forthcoming Non-Fiction SF &
Popular Science Books

 

The Man from the Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann by Ananyo Bhattacharya, Penguin, £10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-241-39886-9.
The biography of John von Neumann: the lost genius who invented our world.

Fantasy: How It Works by Brian Attebery, Oxford University Press, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-192-85623-4.
Focusing on various aspects of fantastic world-building and story creation in classic and contemporary fantasy, from the use of symbolic structures to the way new stories incorporate bits of significance from earlier texts, this book shows how fantasy allows writers such as Michael Cunningham, Hans Christian Anderson, Helene Wecker, C. S. Lewis, Ursula K. Le Guin, Nnedi Okorafor, and Patricia Wrightson to test new modes of understanding and interaction and thus to rethink political institutions, social practices, and models of reality.

East of the Wardrobe: The Unexpected Worlds of C. S. Lewis by Warwick Ball, Oxford University Press, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-197-62625-2.
An exploration of explores hitherto unrecognised and unexpected Eastern aspects in and influences on C. S. Lewis’ Narnia books.  These include storylines, themes, imagery, religious elements, and even the cities and landscapes of the East, as well as the ‘Persian’ style adopted by the illustrator of Narnia, Pauline Baynes. Themes borrowed from the great epics can also be found, from The Odyssey and Aeneid to the Kalevala and The Knight in the Panther’s Skin. All readers of Lewis will find in East of the Wardrobe surprising new paths into the world of Narnia.

Future Stories: A user's guide to the future by David Christian, Transworld, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-63646-0.
everything you need to know about the future in this ambitious, interdisciplinary book, taking in history, philosophy, theology, physics, biology, chemistry and, of course, futurology...  Every second of our lives - whether we're looking both ways before crossing the street, celebrating the birth of a baby, or moving to a new city - we must cope with an unknowable future. How do we do this? And how do we, like most living organisms, manage this impossible challenge quite well... at least most of the time?  David Christian, historian and bestselling author of Origin Story, is renowned for pioneering the emerging discipline of Big History, which surveys the whole of the past. But with Future Stories, he casts his sharp analytical eye forward, offering an introduction to the strange world of the future, and a guide to what we think we know about it at all scales, from the predictive mechanisms of single-celled organisms and tomato plants to the merging of colossal galaxies billions of years from now.  Drawing together science and history, philosophy and theology from a huge range of places and times, Christian explores how we prepare for uncertain futures, including the future of human evolution, artificial intelligence, interstellar travel, and more. By linking the study of the past much more closely to the study of the future, we can begin to imagine what the world will look like in the next hundred years and consider solutions to the biggest challenges facing us all.

Elusive: How Peter Higgs Solved the Mystery of Mass by Frank Close, Penguin, £25, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-241-52114-4.
The story of the Higgs boson – the so-called ‘God particle’ – and the man who thought of it.  In the summer of 1964, a reclusive young professor at the University of Edinburgh wrote two scientific papers which have come to change our understanding of the most fundamental building blocks of matter and the nature of the universe. Peter Higgs posited the existence an almost infinitely tiny particle which is the key to understanding why particles have mass, and but for which atoms and molecules could not exist. For nearly 50 years afterwards, some of the largest projects in experimental physics sought to demonstrate the physical existence of this ‘Higgs boson’. Sensationally, confirmation came in July 2012 at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva. The following year Higgs was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.  One of the least-known giants of science, he is the only person in history to have had a single particle named for them.

What’s Eating the Universe? And Other Cosmic Questions by Paul Davies, Penguin, £p.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-141-99372-0.
The story of the universe in thirty cosmological conundrums.

Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe by Niall Ferguson, Penguin, £10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-141-99555-7.
A provocative, original and compelling history of catastrophes and their consequences.

Vampyres: A Literary Anthology by Christopher Frayling, Thames & Hudson, £14.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-500-29677-6.
A comprehensive illustrated history of vampires in literature, from the folklore of Eastern Europe to the Romantics and beyond. Christopher Frayling recounts the most significant moments in Gothic history, while extracts from a huge range of sources – including Bram Stoker’s detailed research notes for Dracula, penny-dreadfuls and Angela Carter’s The Lady of the House of Love – are contextualized and analysed.  Featuring a new preface, this edition brings Vampyres up to date with 21st-century vampire literature. Christopher Frayling also explores the development of the vampire in the visual arts, with illustrations ranging from 17thcentury prints to 21st-century film stills, demonstrating the enduring appeal of the vampire from popular press to fine art and, finally, to film.

All the Knowledge in the World: The Extraordinary History of the Encyclopaedia by Simon Garfield, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-474-61077-3.
An illuminating history of the encyclopaedia.  From Ancient Greece to Wikipedia, from modest single-volumes to the 11,000-volume Chinese manuscript that was too big to print, All the Knowledge in the World looks at how Encyclopaedia Britannica came to dominate the industry, how it spawned hundreds of competitors and how an army of ingenious door-to-door salesmen sold their wares to guilt-ridden parents. It explains how encyclopaedias have reflected our changing attitudes towards sexuality, race and technology, and exposes how these ultimate bastions of trust were often riddled with errors and prejudice.

Twenty-First-Century Tolkien: What Middle-Earth Means To Us Today by Nick Groom, Atlantic, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-838-95694-3.
In 1937, The Hobbit was published to immediate acclaim. Since then, Tolkien’s popularity has grown to unparalleled global proportions. What is it about Middle-Earth and its characters that has captured the imagination of millions of people around the world?  Nick Groom unravels the often surprising complexities that lay at the heart of the original books, as well as the later film adaptations and other reworkings, and uncovers sophisticated (and sometimes conflicting) attitudes to areas such as the environment, war, failure, contagion and the supernatural. In doing so, he reveals that Tolkien has a striking relevance for some of the most pressing issues confronting the twenty-first century, and ultimately argues that the time for Tolkien is now.

Existential Physics: A Scientist’s Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions by Sabine Hossenfelder, Atlantic, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-838-95035-4.
What is consciousness? Do we live in a computer simulation? Does the universe think? Physicists are great at incredibly complicated research, but they are less good at telling us why it matters. In this entertaining and erudite book, theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder breaks down why we should care. Drawing on the latest research in quantum mechanics, black holes and string theory, Existential Physics explains what modern physics can tell us about life’s biggest questions.  This clear and yet profound book will reshape your understanding of science and the limits of what we can know.

Sentience: The Invention of Consciousness by Nicholas Humphrey, Oxford University Press, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-198-85853-9.
What gives rise to our private sensory world of rich colours, smells, and music— and do other animals experience it too? Nick Humphrey proposes a bold and provocative theory of sentience.  We feel therefore we are. Conscious sensations ground our sense of self. They are essential to our idea of ourselves as psychic beings: present, existent, and mattering. But is it only humans who feel this way? Do other animals? Do plants? Will future machines? To answer these questions we need a scientific understanding of consciousness: what it is and why it has evolved. Nicholas Humphrey has been researching these issues for fifty years. In this extraordinary book, weaving together intellectual adventure, cutting-edge science, and his own breakthrough experiences, he tells the story of his quest to uncover the evolutionary history of consciousness: from his discovery of blindsight after brain damage in monkeys, to hanging out with mountain gorillas in Rwanda, to becoming a leading philosopher of mind. Out of this, he has come up with an explanation of conscious feeling—‘phenomenal consciousness’ – that he presents here in full for the first time. Building on this theory of how phenomenal consciousness is generated in the human brain, he turns to the morally crucial question of whether it exists in non-human creatures. His conclusions, on the evidence as it stands, are radical. Contrary to both popular and much scientific opinion, he argues that phenomenal consciousness is a relatively recent evolutionary innovation, present only in warm-blooded creatures, mammals and birds. Invertebrates, such as octopuses and bees, for all their intelligence, are in this respect unfeeling zombies. And for now, but not necessarily forever, so are man-made machines.

Orwell and Empire by Douglas Kerr, Oxford University Press, £25, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-192-86409-3.
This concerns Orwell’s writings, fictional and non-fictional. It pays particular attention to work that derives directly from his Burmese years including the well-known narratives ‘A Hanging’ and ‘Shooting an Elephant’ and his first novel Burmese Days. It goes on to explore the theme of empire throughout his work, through to Nineteen Eighty-Four and beyond, and charts the way his evolving views on class, race, gender, and authority were shaped by his experience in the East and the Anglo-Indian attitudes he had inherited.

Trafficking Data: How China is Winning the Battle for Digital Sovereignty by Aynne Kokas, Oxford University Press, £21.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-197-62050-2.
A looks at how technology firms in the two largest economies in the world, the United States and China, have exploited government policy (and the lack thereof) to gather information on citizens, putting US national security at risk. Kokas shows how US corporations’ influence on tech regulation paved the way for exploitative data gathering. Resolving this issue requires changing foundational values not just in the tech ecosystem, but in the relationship between industry and government.

The Short Story of the Universe: A Pocket Guide to the History, Structure, Theories and Building Blocks of the Cosmos by Gemma Lavender, Lawrence King, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-0-857-82938-2.
From the Big Bang to black holes, this is the complete story of the universe unravelled into one concise narrative.  Covering 130 key components – from dwarf galaxies and spiral arms to red giants and the planets of the solar system – and linking these to the universe’s structure and the theories that help us to understand it, this book simplifies this riveting yet mind-boggling subject.

World Mythology: A Very Short Introduction by David Leeming, Oxford University Press, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-197-54826-4.
This is organised around universal motifs: Creation, the Flood, the Hero Quest, the Trickster/Culture Hero, the Pantheons, the High God, and the Great Goddess. David Leeming compares examples of each motif from a variety of cultures--Greek, Egyptian, Norse, American Indian, African, Polynesian, Jewish, Christian, Hindu--treating them as reflections of the cultures that “dreamed” them and exposing their universal significance, creating a “world mythology.”

Origins of The Wheel of Time: The Legends and Mythologies that Inspired Robert Jordan by Michael Livingston, Tor, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-035-00416-4.
With an introduction by Harriet McDougal, Origins of The Wheel of Time by Michael Livingston explores the inspirations behind the acclaimed series The Wheel of Time, including a biography of Robert Jordan for the first time.  Explore never-before-seen insights into The Wheel of Time, including:
- A brand-new, redrawn world map by Ellisa Mitchell using change requests discovered in Robert Jordan’s unpublished notes
- An alternate scene from an early draft of The Eye of the World
This companion to the internationally bestselling series will delve into the creation of Robert Jordan’s masterpiece, drawing from interviews and an unprecedented examination of his unpublished notes. Michael Livingston tells the behind-the-scenes story of who Jordan was (including a chapter that is the very first published biography of the author), how he worked, and why he holds such an important place in modern literature.  The second part of the book is a glossary to the ‘real world’ in The Wheel of Time. King Arthur is in The Wheel of Time. Merlin, too. But so is Alexander the Great and the Apollo Space Program, the Norse gods and Napoleon’s greatest defeat – and so much more.  Origins of The Wheel of Time will provide exciting knowledge and insights to both new and long-time fans looking either to expand their understanding of the series or unearth the real-life influences that Jordan utilized in his world-building – all in one accessible text.

The Long CoVID Handbook by Gez Medinger & Danny Altmann, Cornerstone, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-90012-5.
Reports suggest that over 100m people around the world are living with Long CoVID (more than 1.5m in the UK) yet reliable, clear information and guidance remains scarce. This book is the definitive guide to understanding, managing and treating the condition.  Written by the world’s leading immunologist, Professor Danny Altmann, and science journalist Gez Medinger, The Long CoVID Handbook translates cutting-edge science, patient-led research and practical guidance with clarity. This book will equip you with expert information and advice on:
- Long Covid’s 200 symptoms, which include fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness and more
- Tips for recovery
- Which treatments are most effective and why
- Who is most susceptible to the condition and why
- What we can learn about Long CoVID from other chronic illnesses
- The impact on mental health.

Gravity: From Falling Apples to Supermassive Black Holes by Nicholas Mee, Oxford University Press, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-192-84528-3.
Second edition. There have been sensational developments in gravitational physics in recent years. The detection of gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of space – has opened a new window on the universe.  These waves are produced by the most cataclysmic events in the universe – the collisions and mergers of black holes and neutron stars. There have also been great strides in our understanding of supermassive black holes. We now know that a black hole with a gargantuan mass lies at the heart of every galaxy, and we even have an image of one such beast. Gravity: From Falling Apples to Supermassive Black Holes provides an engaging and accessible account of how we have reached our current understanding of gravity and places these amazing discoveries in their true context.

Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination by Glyn Morgan, Thames & Hudson, £30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-500-25239-0.
Drawing on a wide range of examples from the literary and visual canons – short stories, novels, films, television programmes, video games, graphic novels, artworks and more – in both cult and popular culture, this extensively illustrated book examines how science fiction has provided a human response to science, exploring every reaction from complacency to exhilaration, from hope to terror.  Across five chapters the book reviews the role played by science fiction in exploring our world and a multitude of ideas about our relationship with the human condition. This encompasses a fascinating range of themes – machines, travel, aliens (the Other), communication, threats and anxiety. Featuring a range of essays by experts on the subject as well as interviews with well-known science-fiction authors and reproductions of classic ephemera, graphics and objects throughout, it also focuses on the darker elements of this fascinating genre – the anxieties, fears, dystopias, monsters and apocalypses that have populated science fiction from the beginning.  Ultimately, science fiction asks what makes us human, and what lies in the future to test, threaten and even destroy humanity. This book has these questions at its core, making it especially relevant for a contemporary readership in an age preoccupied with war, the climate emergency, the coronavirus pandemic, and other global challenges.

This Volcanic Isle: The Violent Processes that forged the British Landscape by Robert Muir-Wood, Oxford University Press, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-198-87162-0.
An exploration of the rich geological history of the British Isles, and its resulting legacy. Along the way he introduces the personalities who shared a fascination for Britain’s tectonic history, including Charles Darwin the geologist, Tennyson the science-poet, and Benoit Mandelbrot, the pure mathematician who labelled the west coast of Britain a fractal icon. Here is the previously untold story of how earthquakes and eruptions, plumes and plate boundaries, built the British Isles.

The Primacy of Doubt by Timothy Palmer, Oxford University Press, £22.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-192-84359-3.
From weather to quantum physics, how the science of uncertainty makes sense of our chaotic world.  Covering a breathtaking range of topics—from climate change to the foundations of quantum physics, from economic modelling to conflict prediction, from free will to consciousness and spirituality – The Primacy of Doubt takes us on a unique journey through the science of uncertainty. Royal Society Research Professor Tim Palmer shows us how the geometry of chaos (that is, the profound fractal structures that are central to much of modern mathematics) not only provides the means to predict the world around us, it suggests new insights into some of the most astonishing aspects of our universe and ourselves.

Conspiracy: A History of Bxllocks Theories and How Not To Fall For Them by Tom Phillips & Jonn Elledge, Wildfire, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-472-28631-4.
From the Satanic Panic to the anti-vaxx movement, it’s always been human nature to believe we’re being lied to by the powers that be (and sometimes, to be fair, we absolutely are). But while it can be fun to indulge in a bit of Deep State banter on the family Whatsapp group, recent times have shown us that some of these theories have taken on a life of their own - and in our dogged quest for the truth, it appears we might actually be doing it some damage. In Conspiracy, Tom Phillips and Jonn Elledge take us on an insightful and often hilarious journey through conspiracy theories old and new, to try and answer an important question: how can we learn to log off the QAnon message boards, and start trusting hard evidence again?

About Writing by Gareth L. Powell, Gollancz, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23469-7.
A definitive field guide for aspiring authors, written by an award-winning SF/F novelist whose tips and insight are honest and inspiring.  Whether you need a bit of writing inspiration or tips on how to find your voice, are struggling to manage writing alongside a day job, want some no-nonsense advice about working with a publisher or are lost on social media, this is a must-have  Positive, blunt and refreshingly honest, this is a guide to the practical business of writing from a professional author with a decade’s experience. About Writing is here to help you achieve your goals and write your own story.

Saving the Planet Without the Bullshit: What They Don’t Tell You About the Climate Crisis by Assaad Razzouk, Atlantic, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-838-95462-8.
Have you heard that you should go vegan to save the planet? Or carbon offset your flight to mitigate its effects? Or invest in an ethical pension plan? What if you were told that such actions make little difference at all?  In Saving the Planet Without the Bullshit, Assaad Razzouk argues that for too long green activism has been unfocused and distracted, trying to go in too many directions by focusing on individual behaviour. But all these factors are dwarfed by the one big thing that simply has to happen: curtailing the activities of the hydrocarbon and petrochemicals industry.  Full of counter-intuitive statistics and positive suggestions for individual and collective action, this ingenious book will profoundly change how you view the climate crisis.

Apollo Remastered by Andy Saunders, Particular Books, £60, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-241-50869-5.
The definitive photographic record of all the Apollo missions, and a mesmerizing, high-definition journey into the unknown. In a frozen vault in Houston sits the original NASA photographic film of the Apollo missions.  For half a century, almost every image of the Moon landings publicly available was produced from a lower-quality copy of these originals. Now we can view them as never before.  Expert image restorer Andy Saunders has taken newly available digital scans and, applying painstaking care and cutting-edge enhancement techniques, he has created the highest quality Apollo photographs ever produced.

The Theory of Everything Else by Dan Schreiber, Harper Collins, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-0-008-51898-1.
Why are we here? Do ghosts exist? Will we ever travel back in time? And why, when you’re in the shower, does the shower-curtain always billow in towards you?  We don’t know the answers to any of these questions (that includes the shower-curtain one, which is a mystery that has eluded scientists for decades). But no matter what questions you have, you can bet on the fact that there is someone (or something) out there, investigating it on your behalf – this book collects their latest findings, acting as a handbook for those who want to think differently.

A Brief History of Black Holes: And why nearly everything you know about them is wrong by Becky Smethurst, Macmillan, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-08670-6.
The Moon goes around the Earth, the Earth goes around the Sun, the Sun goes around the centre of the Milky Way: a supermassive black hole. As you read this you are currently orbiting a black hole. Money might make the world go round, but black holes make the universe go round.  Black holes are not just a curiosity; they are some of the most important objects for understanding how our universe works and how it came to be. And yet they are incredibly misunderstood; take everything you think you know about black holes and get rid of it.  This book will be a book about black holes like no other; it will journey beyond the event horizon and consider what the ‘inside’ of a black hole is truly like, and flip it on its head. It will take black holes and turn them from something beyond comprehension for the average person on the street to a level of understanding you never thought possible, through unique analogies and ideas the human brain has a hope of actually picturing. This book will show you why you should be calling them white mountains – and not black holes.

Bad Data: How governments, politicians and the rest of us get misled by numbers by Georgina Sturge, The Bridge Street Press, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-349-12861-0.
Most official data isn’t the solid bedrock we think it is. It’s patchy, inconsistent, full of guesswork and uncertainty… but it’s still playing an ever-bigger role in policy decisions. In Bad Data, House of Commons Library statistician Georgina Sturge takes the reader behind-the-scenes of those decisions. Revealing the secrets of a world that is usually sealed off, this book shows how governments have been led astray by bad data and explains just why it is so hard to count and measure things, but why it matters.

Numbers: 10 Things You Should Know: From Zero to Infinity for People Short on Time by Colin Stuart, Seven Dials, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-841-88563-6.
Discover the mysteries of mathematics and the science behind the numbers we use every day.  On the surface a complex and incomprehensible subject to many, the myth that maths has to be complicated is debunked by Colin Stuart.  Through ten engaging and entertaining chapters, Colin will make big ideas easy to understand and leave readers in awe at the ways numbers inform and transform our lives.

The Climate Book by Greta Thunberg, Penguin, £29.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-241-54747-2.
It seems like an impossible task: secure a safe future for life on Earth, at a scale and speed that the world has never seen, in the face of vast and powerful forces—not just oil tycoons and governments, but the changing climate system itself. The odds are against us, and we are running out of time. But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Around the world, geophysicists and mathematicians, oceanographers and meteorologists, engineers, economists, psychologists and philosophers have been using their expertise to develop a deep understanding of the crises we face. Greta Thunberg has created The Climate Book in partnership with over one hundred of these experts in order to equip us all with this knowledge. Alongside them, Greta shares her own stories of learning, demonstrating, and uncovering greenwashing around the world, revealing the extent to which we have been kept in the dark. This is one of our biggest problems, she shows, but also our greatest source of hope. Once we are given the full picture, we will be able to act—and if a schoolchild’s strike could ignite a global protest, what could we do collectively if we tried?

Nomad Century: How to Survive the Climate Upheaval by Gaia Vince, Penguin, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-241-52231-8.
We are facing a species emergency. With every degree of temperature rise, a billion people will be displaced from their homes. From Bangladesh to Sudan to the western United States, and in cities from Cardiff to New Orleans to Shanghai, the quadruple threat of drought, heat, wildfires and flooding will utterly reshape Earth’s human geography in the coming decades.  In this rousing call to arms, Royal Society Science Prize-winning author Gaia Vince demonstrates how we can plan for and manage this unavoidable climate migration. The vital message of this book is that migration is not the problem – it’s the solution. Rich countries in the north are facing demographic crises and labour shortages.  Drawing on a wealth of eye-opening data and original reporting, Vince shows how migration brings benefits not only to migrants themselves, but to host countries, who benefit economically as well as culturally. A borderless world is not something to fear: in fact, studies suggest that it would more than double global GDP. Nowhere will be spared.

Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes – The Official Biography by Rob Wilkins, Transworld, £25, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-857-52663-2.
The official biography of the award-winning and bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett, written by Rob Wilkins, his former assistant, friend and now head of the author's literary estate.  bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett was working on his finest story yet - his own. At six years old, Terry was told by his headteacher that he would never amount to anything. He spent the rest of his life proving that teacher wrong. At sixty-six, Terry had lived a life full of achievements: becoming one of the UK's bestselling writers, winning the Carnegie Medal and being awarded a knighthood for services to literature. Following his untimely death from Alzheimer's disease, the mantle of completing Terry's memoir was passed to Rob Wilkins, his former assistant, friend and now head of the author's literary estate. Drawing on his own extensive memories, along with those of Terry's family, friends, fans and colleagues, Rob recounts Terry's extraordinary story - from his early childhood to the literary phenomenon that his Discworld series became; and how he met and coped with the challenges that 'The Embuggerance' of Alzheimer's brought with it. 'Of all the dead authors in the world, Terry Pratchett is the most alive.' - John Lloyd Rob Wilkins worked with Terry Pratchett for over twenty years, first as his assistant, and later business manager. He now manages the Pratchett estate and Terry's production company, Narrativia.

All of the Marvels: An Amazing Voyage into Marvel’s Universe and 27,000 Superhero Comics by Douglas Wolk, Profile Paperbacks, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-788-16929-5.
A revelatory guide to the ‘epic of epics’. For example, in 2017 why did Amazing Spiderman issue number jump from #32 to #789?

 

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Autumn 2022

General Science News

 

A second dinosaur extinction asteroid has been found!  A team of two researchers from Heriot-Watt University, Great Britain, and another two from the US, have discovered a crater off the coast of W. Africa they have called the Nadir crater. It dates from the same time as the Chicxulub crater in the Gulf of Mexico. That Chicxulub crater is thought to have been caused by an asteroid measuring about 7.5 miles (12km) across. Conversely, the Nadir crater seems to have been formed by a body slightly greater than 400 metres across: so, being much smaller, it is not an extinction level crater. However, it is sufficiently big that the random chance (given cratering history in the inner Solar system) of something that large impacting around the time of Chicxulub is unlikely. This means that it is possibly associated with the Chicxulub impact. However, Nadir is too far away from Chicxulub for it to have been a fragment broken away during Chicxulub's entry to the Earth's atmosphere.  Consequently, the researchers hypothesise that a large asteroid by-passed the Earth within the Roche limit and broke up before proceeding on in its orbit about the Sun. These fragments then hit the Earth on a subsequent orbit. This has happened before. This is what happened when the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet impacted with Jupiter in 1994. Nonetheless, though smaller, the researchers' simulations suggest the smaller Nadir impact would have generated a tsunami over one kilometre high, as well as an earthquake of Magnitude 6.5 or so. Finally, there is a third crater discovered a year ago in the Ukraine – the Boltysh crater. This is thought to have impacted over half a million years (650,000 years earlier). How this relates to the Chicxulub and Nadir craters, if at all, is unknown. (See Nicholson, U. et al. (2022) The Nadir Crater offshore West Africa: A candidate Cretaceous-Paleogene impact structure. Science Advances, vol. 8, eabn3096.)

The oldest ice so far found dated to about three million years. Most Antarctic ice cores have their oldest ice dating to within the past 800,000 years, so any ice over a million years old provides a rare insight into the past climate. This new ice core comes from the Ong Valley in the Transantarctic Mountains in Antarctica. The researchers also found a separate, older ice mass which they estimate to be 4.3–5.1 million years. (See Bergelin, M. et al (2022) Cosmogenic nuclide dating of two stacked ice masses: Ong Valley, Antarctica. The Cryosphere, vol. 16, p2,793–2,817.)

Climate change may have helped the rise of Islam! A collaboration of nine, mainly European-based, researchers have looked at an over 2,500-year record of carbon and oxygen isotopes in a stalactite from a cave at Hoti on the Arabian peninsula. These isotopes reflect temperature of the rain and effective moisture (in this case the drip-rate of water down stalactites in the cave). Now, in Arabia in the late fifth to early seventh century there was a lot going on in Arabia and some of this undoubtedly was connected to the rise of Islam. Indeed, the first half of the sixth century was marked by the demise of Himyar, the dominant power in Arabia until 525AD However, could climate change have played a part too? The stalactite isotopic record clearly indicate unprecedented droughts during the sixth century, with the most severe aridity persisting between around 500 and 530AD. The researchers suggest that such droughts undermined the resilience of Himyar and thereby contributed to the societal changes from which Islam emerged. (See Fleitmann, D. et al. (2022) Droughts and societal change: The environmental context for the emergence of Islam in late Antique Arabia. Science, 376, 1,317-1,320.)

Thinking the Unthinkable: Climate Endgame -- Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios. Believe it or not, up to recently, the climate science community has been remarkably restrained in formal science proclamations. For example, while the small print in the IPCC reports plainly say that their future scenarios do not include feedback effects (such as melting permafrosts with warming release methane that furthers warming), they do say we need to "be aware of surprises".  So perhaps it is time to think the unthinkable and formally look at what might happen if the worse comes to the worst. If you thought it was bad, think again.
          The worst that could happen is that some areas of high population become impossible places to live without universal air conditioning: they'd be too hot. And if those areas were socio-politically unstable, this could lead to societal collapse (there would be climate-driven societal cascade effects, or if they had nuclear weapons there might be a nuclear incident with neighbours. Both possibilities have global impacts. Even if everything remains peaceful, we are likely looking at hundreds of millions, if not a billion, affected in the middle of the second half of this century and a migration pressure unparalleled in human history.
          A small international collaboration, led by Luke Kemp of Cambridge University, have taken a preliminary look in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). Too hot areas with likely high population densities are sub-Saharan Africa, India and SE Asia.  Currently, only 30 million people live in hot places, primarily in the Sahara Desert and Gulf Coast. Whereas, around 2 billion people are expected to live in the extremely hot areas of 2070.  Factor in state fragility and nuclear weapons, then India and Pakistan is the principal touch point. (See Kemp, L. , Xu, C., Depledge, J., et al. (2022) Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios. PNAS, vol. 119 (34), e2108146119.)

Recent heatwaves are attributable to global warming but the climate models have not forecasted so many as have actually happened! In June 2021, western North America experienced a record-breaking heat wave. Researchers have fount that throughout the globe, where we have reliable data, only five other heat waves were found to be more extreme since 1960. They find that these are due to climate change. Consequently, regions that, by chance, have not had a recent extreme heat wave may be less prepared for potentially imminent events the researchers warn.
          Meanwhile, another team of researchers has identified Europe as a heatwave hotspot, with upward trends that are three-to-four times faster compared to the rest of the northern mid-latitudes over the past 42 years. They also found that the jet stream occasionally splitting into two over the North Atlantic with one continuing over northern Europe and the other southern, explains almost all of the accelerated heatwave trend in western Europe, and about 30% of it over the extended European region.
          Finally, a third collaboration of researcher has found that while the increase in heatwaves can be attributable to climate change, our current climate models did not predict as many as actually took place. They note that land use changes, irrigation, air pollution, and other changes also drive trends in heatwaves. These factors are not properly included in climate models. We can therefore expect more heatwaves than models currently predict.
          (See Thompson V., et al. (2022) The 2021 western North America heat wave among the most extreme events ever recorded globally. Science Advances, vol. 8, eabm6860,  Rousi, E., et al. (2022) Accelerated western European heatwave trends linked to more-persistent double jets over Eurasia. Nature Communications, vol. 13, 3851  and  Oldenborgh, G. J. V., et al. (2022) Attributing and Projecting Heatwaves Is Hard: We Can Do Better. Earth Futures, vol. 10, e2021EF002271.)
++++  Related news previously covered elsewhere on the site includes:
  - There is an increasing probability of record-shattering mega-heatwaves
  - Marine heatwaves are becoming more common
  - Global warming is forecast to intensify more than usual between 2018-2022AD

Women are credited less in science than men.  A small research collaboration in the US, using three separate data sources has found that at least part of this gap is the result of unacknowledged contributions: women in research teams are significantly less likely than men to be credited with authorship. (See Ross, M. B., et al (2022) Women are credited less in science than men. Nature, vol. 608, p135-145.

A fusion plasma has been achieved of 100 million kelvin lasting up to 20 seconds. This was done by the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) employing what is called a fast-ion-regulated enhancement (FIRE) mode. The researchers say that Further improvement of FIRE modes to realise a longer steady-state operation for several hundred seconds with higher performance is foreseen as one of the promising paths towards a fusion reactor. This result is of import to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) currently being constructed. This hopes to produce a fusion power of 500 MW with a fusion gain Q = 10 (that is, a fusion power ten times higher than the input heating power). ITER – if it succeeds – will be a demonstration of principle. The subsequent reactor needs to have a Q factor well in excess of 30 to demonstrate commercial viability. (See Han, H. et al (2022) A sustained high-temperature fusion plasma regime facilitated by fast ions. Nature, vol. 609, p269-275.)
++++ Previous news items similar to above elsewhere on this site include:-
  - New US fusion achievement remarkable but commercial fusion still far
  - A new type fusion discovered with quarks (not whole atoms)

PBS Space Time search tool launched. PBS Space Time is a public broadcast service US-based YouTube channel that mainly covers developments, discoveries and explore anomalies in physics, but also includes a fair chunk of astronomy and astrophysics as well as occasionally some SF adjacent science (such as the possibility of alien life, time travel, FTL communication, etc). It has been going for a few years now and so there are hundreds of about 20-minute episodes (each posted roughly weekly). The problem newcomers, and even old-timers, have to this amazing resource is how to find parts of episodes that relate to specific viewers' questions' and specialist interests?  Step up PBS Space Time fan Vegard Nossum who has developed a remarkable search tool for the series.  Type into the search engine's text box your interest (say 'time dilation') and it gives you not only the episodes but the time codes of the phrase being searched within each episode (taking the afore example you get episodes such as 'Is the Wave Function of the Universe the Building Block of Reality', 'Are Black Holes Actually Fuzzballs', 'How does Gravity Affect Light', 'Does Time Cause Gravity', How Does Gravity Warp the Flow of Time', and 'Is Dark Matter Made of Particles' among others). You can find the search tool here should you wish to bookmark it Search.PBSSpaceTime.com.  Splundig.
Now, if only someone would do that for the highly speculative, but rather fun and more SF adjacent, Science & Futurism with Isaac Arthur…

And, before we move on to a round-up of recent natural science research in the next section below, here is a short science video.…

What is the nature of the universe and reality?  A recent episode of PBS Space Time (a YouTube channel with over two million subscribers) looks at an area of fuzzy physics when asking the question "Does the Universe Create Itself?"… Apparently, we could be living in a universe that is playing Reverse 20 Questions with itself. The 14 minute episode covers ground that has occasionally been trod in science fiction, for example Greg Egan's Quarantine.  You can see the episode here.

 

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Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
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Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Autumn 2022

Natural Science News

 

Sir David Attenborough FIBiol has been named a Champion of the Earth by the UN Environment Programme. UNEP is the United Nations agency charged with promoting global environmental protection.  Sir David – aged 99 – was honoured for his life-long commitment to broadcasting stories about nature and the environment. He said that the destruction of the Earth could be halted if people came together. "We know what the problems are. And how to solve them. All we lack is unified action," he said.

How did life start creating proteins? 'Proteins' (strings of amino acids) are long 'peptides' (very short chains of amino acids) and proteins make up the structures of life: enzymes, muscle structures and so forth. But how did life start creating specific proteins? Today we get RNA from DNA and messenger and transfer RNA codes for and play a role in the synthesis of specific proteins. But could a strand of RNA by itself directly synthesise a peptide? Biochemists from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat (LMU) Munich, Germany, have discovered that they can and the process they have uncovered gives good yields. Their discovery suggests that in between an early RNA world and a subsequent DNA world, there was an intermediate RNA-peptide world. And that there was evolutionary pressure (what worked, worked and survived) for the peptides created were those that helped facilitate further peptide synthesis. (Muller, F., et al. (2022) A prebiotically plausible scenario of an RNA-peptide world. Nature, vol. 605, p279-284.)

The earliest wildfire has now been dated to 430 million years ago in the Silurian. The earliest evidence of wildfire is documented from two localities: the early mid-Silurian Pen-y-lan Mudstone, Rumney, Wales (UK), and the late Silurian Winnica Formation, Winnica, Poland, the former dating to about 430 million years ago (mya). Charcoal from early Homerian strata at Rumney, Wales, extends the earliest record of fire on Earth back a further 10 million years to 430 mya. But what caught fire back then was very different to the forest wildfires of trees today. Back then there were no woody trees or shrubs: they had yet to evolve. What there were were tree-sized fungi (Prototaxites genus) with a diameter of up to 1 metre, and a height reaching 8.8m. For such fires to rage, especially given that fungi requires higher burn temperatures than wood, atmospheric oxygen levels 430 mya must have been comparable to today's. (See Glasspool, I. J. & Gastaldo, R. A. (2022) Silurian wildfire proxies and atmospheric oxygen. Geology, doi.org/10.1130/G50193.1.)

Early dinosaur evolution was compartmentalised by climate barriers on supercontinent. The End Permian Mass Extinction 251.9 million years ago, otherwise known as 'The Great Dying', was the closest this planet has come to extinguishing all complex life on Earth. The dinosaurs subsequently arose on the planet's single supercontinent, Pangaea. But Pangaea had two Sahara-like deserts above and below a tropical zone. Research now shows that over the next 17 or so million years two distinct populations of dinosaurs independently evolved in separate northern and southern temperate zones leaving two, distinct populations of different species. After 234 million years ago, the planet cooled and the deserts contracted so allowing the populations to mix.  Then after about 214 million years ago, the deserts returned so again isolating these populations. Now researchers have looked at Africa's oldest dinosaurs across time. Back in the days of the dinosaurs, this area was part of Pangaea's southern temperate zone. They found that the evolving change in species correlates with times when Pangaea's north and south temperate zones were connected as well as when they were separated by climate barriers. (See Griffin, C. T., et al (2022) Africa’s oldest dinosaurs reveal early suppression of dinosaur distribution. Nature, vol. 609, p313-319.)

When did the first pre-human species walk upright? Bipedalism is associated with humans and not chimpanzees from which humans evolved. Now a femur of a pre-human species from shortly after humans and chimpanzees diverged has been found. Dating from some seven million years ago, the femur comes from Sahelanthropus tchadensis and found in Chad. The French palaeoanthropology researchers infer that Sahelanthropus was both bipedal and used to tree climbing. Separate research suggests that apart from a slightly more human face and the ability to spend considerable time upright, Sahelanthropus was rather chimpanzee-like. (See Daver, G. et al (2022) Postcranial evidence of late Miocene hominin bipedalism in Chad. Nature, vol. 609, p94-100  and the review piece  Lieberman, D. E. (2022) Standing up for the earliest bipedal hominins. Nature, vol. 609, p33-4.)

Denisovan, early humans, colonised more of Asia than previously thought. The outline of early human evolution is reasonably well understood. There are, though, quite a few unknowns remaining. Current thinking has it that H. heidelbergensis, gradually evolved into H. neanderthalensis between 400 and 300 thousand years ago. The Neanderthals colonised Europe. But H. heidelbergensis also evolved into the Denisovans who populated parts of central and eastern Asia. But it is thought that their colonisation of Asia was quite restricted, though some research indicates that Denisovans were more widespread and adapted to high altitude living in Tibet. Researchers have now found evidence of Denisovans in a limestone cave in the Annamite Mountains of northern Laos in SE Asia. These remains have been dated to somewhere around 164–131 thousand years ago. Though some Denisovan DNA is found in modern humans of SE Asia, so far no Denisovan remains have been found in that part of the world. Their presence in Laos supports the idea that the species had a much broader geographical range than the fossil record previously indicated. There is an alternative, but less likely, hypothesis that a small incursion of Neanderthals into SE Asia might have taken place: Neanderthals are sibling species to Denisovans from common H. heidelbergensis stock. (See Demeter, F., et al. (2022) A Middle Pleistocene Denisovan molar from the Annamite Chain of northern Laos. Nature Communications, vol. 13, 2557. doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-29923-z)
++++ Related news elsewhere on this site includes:
  - New estimate for oldest Homo sapiens
  - An ancestor species to Neanderthals and archaic human species in Europe and Asia has been discovered
  - An cousin species to Neanderthals and modern human species has been discovered in China
  - How humans eat meat before fire has now been revealed
  - Mouth bacteria reveal ancient, humans had a cooked starch diet
  - Denisovan and Neanderthal Y chromosomes have been sequenced
  - Neanderthals and Denisovans diverged between 381,000 and 473,000 years ago
  - Modern humans on Flores exhibit dwarfing genes
  - Modern humans had seΧ with Neanderthals 100,000 years ago
  - Denisovan and Neanderthal DNA found in modern Icelander genomes
  - New early human species found - Homo luzonensis
  - Genomes show modern humans first left Africa thousands of years earlier
  - Modern humans diverged from primitive humans between 350,000 and 260,000 years ago
  - Iηcest abounds among Neolithic Irish ruling classes genomic research reveals
  - Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans
  - Early Britons had dark skin and blue eyes ancient DNA reveals
  - First stone age tools now 71,000 years not 40,000 years ago
  - First humans in Australia arrived 10,000 years earlier than thought

Dogs likely evolved from a population of East Asian wolves. A European collaboration led by researchers based in London, have analysed 72 ancient grey wolf (Canis lupus genomes spanning the last 100,000 years from Europe, Siberia and North America. The grey wolf is thought to be the progenitor of the wolf progenitors of the present-day dog lineage (Canis familiaris). They found that a gene, IFT88, rose rapidly from close to 0% to 100% in frequency 40,000–30,000 years ago. This gene is also found in domesticated dogs and so the researchers presume that this gene was in the population of wolves that gave rise to domesticated dogs. If this is so, domesticated dogs arose no earlier than 40,000–30,000 years ago. It is already known that dog domestication took place before agriculture possibly between 11,000 and 16,000 years ago, though it could have been a little earlier. The likely dog progenitor population wolves was located in East Asia but they also found that dogs in the Near East and Africa derive up to half of their ancestry from a distinct population related to modern southwest Eurasian wolves. They are not sure whether this was a separate dog domestication event or that some East Asian wolves were taken west to start a new population of dogs. (See Bergstrom, A. et al. (2022) Grey wolf genomic history reveals a dual ancestry of dogs. Nature, vol. 607, p313-320.)
++++ Related news elsewhere on this site includes:
  - American dogs came across Bering Straights rather than with Atlantic Vikings
  - Dogs were domesticated before our warm interglacial that began over 11,000 years

The genomic origins of the world’s first farmers has been elucidated. Ancient DNA analysis and evolutionary modelling have allowed for the ancestral tracing of the Neolithic populations of Southwest Asia and Europe to resolve the genetic origins of the world’s first settled farmers. About 11.7 thousand years ago, just after the last glacial ('ice age') maximum (around 23 thousand years ago), in Southwest Asia, plants and animals were first domesticated. From this region, it is widely agreed that farming spread into Europe along two main routes, the ‘‘Mediterranean’’ route and the ‘Danubian’ route. Looking at this last route, an international collaboration of mainly European bioscientists has determined that the early farmers of Anatolia and Europe likely emerged from a mixing of a Southwest Asian population with a strongly bottlenecked western hunter-gatherer population after the last glacial maximum. Much of the genetic constraints were due to a brief (few centuries) return to glacial conditions around 12.5 thousand years ago (the Younger Dryas event) as the world was coming out of full-blown glacial conditions. These ancestors of the first farmers of Europe and Anatolia then became genetically distinct due to their population having restricted breeding with others. Farming gradually spread west reaching Germany and England likely sometime after 7.5 thousand years ago. (See Marchi et al., (2022) The genomic origins of the world’s first farmers, Cell, vol. 185, 1-18. doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2022.04.008)  Related news of early human use previously reported elsewhere in this site includes:-
  - By 13,000 years ago human agriculture marked tropical forests
  - Domestication of Canηabis sativa revealed from genome
  - American dogs came across Bering Straights rather than with Atlantic Vikings
  - Rice became a domesticated crop multiple times over 9,000 years ago
  - Those domesticating the horse were descended from hunter-gatherers
  - The first horse domestication has been located
  - The origins of domesticated cattle
  - Cattle were domesticated after humans left Africa
  - Cat domestication

Humans colonised Micronesia before other parts of Remote Oceania in the Pacific, genetic analysis reveals. Researchers have sequenced the genomes of 164 ancient and 112 modern individuals. Analysis reveals five migratory streams into Micronesia. Three are East Asian related, one is Polynesian, and a fifth is a Papuan source related to mainland New Guineans that is different from the New Britain–related Papuan source for southwest Pacific populations but is similarly derived from male migrants ~2500 to 2000 years ago. People of the Mariana Archipelago may derive all of their pre-colonial ancestry from East Asian sources, making them the only Remote Oceanians without Papuan ancestry. (See Liu, Y-C. et al (2022) Ancient DNA reveals five streams of migration into Micronesia and matrilocality in early Pacific seafarers. Science, vol. 377, p72–79.)
++++  Related news previously covered elsewhere on the site includes
  - The Great Auks were doing fine, only humans caused their extinction
  - S. Americans reached Polynesia 800 years ago
  - Ancestors of American dogs could well have come with migrations across the Bering Straight
  - Bronze Age genomes reveal ancient influx into Britain
  - Human out-of-Africa Arabian windows identified
  - Modern humans diverged from primitive humans between 350,000 and 260,000 years ago
  - Genomes show modern humans first left Africa thousands of years earlier
  - Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans
  - Origins of first Americans elucidated by Clovis genome
  - Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans
  - Early Britons had dark skin and blue eyes ancient DNA reveals   - Anatomically modern humans likely originated in the Makgadikgadi–Okavango palaeo-wetland of southern Africa

Extensive, low-density urbanisation from 1,500 years ago has been found in the Amazon forest of Bolivia. The principal features of the Cotoca site were already known, but not their surrounding developments. The old school has it that S. American civilisations were those like the Inca and Maya and that there was little sophistication in tropical forests as their soils are too poor to support a great population. Recent discoveries have changed that perception. Researchers Germany and Britain have now used lidar (a kind of infra-red radar) to strip away the tropical forest to reveal the structures beneath the vegetation. They have found that there was extensive development reaching beyond the known principal sites. These included defensive ditches, waterways and roads – a series of straight causeways that extend for several kilometres. It was a human-engineered landscape with a massive water-control system designed to maximize food surpluses to support the large Casarabe population. These human modifications to the landscape were made by the Casarabe culture that developed between 500AD and 1400AD in what is now modern Bolivia in the Amazon forest. (See Prumers, H. et al. (2022) Lidar reveals pre-Hispanic low-density urbanism in the Bolivian Amazon. Nature, vol. 606, p325-8  and  Fisher, C. T. (2022) Large-scale early urban settlements in Amazonia. Nature, vol. 606, p254-5.)

A new way has been found to create totipotent stem cells from pluripotent cells. Totipotent stem cells exist when embryos are very young and consisting of just eight cells. Such totipotent cells can develop into any cell type: skin, bone generating, muscle cells etc. As embryos get older the ability to form any cell type dwindles and stem cells that can only become just several (not 'any') type of cell are known as pluripotent cells. What a team of largely Chinese biologists have done is found a way of converting human pluripotent cells into totipotent cells. One immediate benefit of this process is that totipotent stem cell research will be less reliant on embryos as a source of totipotent cells. (Mazld, M. A., et al. (2022) Rolling back human pluripotent stem cells to an eight-cell embryo-like stage. Nature, vol. 605, p315-324.)

Young cerebrospinal fluid restores the memory in old mice. Age-related cognitive decline is important as it affects up to one-quarter of adults over the age of sixty. So, is there a way to rejuvenate the ageing brain? Cerebrospinal fluid bathes the brain tissue and contains several protein growth factors necessary for normal brain development. Researchers, mainly based at the Stanford University School of Medicine, have now infused cerebrospinal fluid from young adult mice (10 weeks old) into the brains of aged mice (18 months old) over 7 days. This treatment improved the memory recall of the old animals in a fear-conditioning task, in which they learnt to associate a small electric shock with a tone and flashing light. By discovering that young CSF contains a factor that aids memory recall in older mice there are now new routes to drug discovery that could eventually help combat dementia. (See Iram, T., et al. (2022) Young CSF restores oligodendrogenesis and memory in aged mice via Fgf17. Nature, vol. 605, p509-515  and the review piece  Zawadzki, M. & Lehtinen, M. K. (2022) Young cerebrospinal fluid is a tonic for memory. Nature, vol. 605, doi.org/10.1038/d41586-022-00860-7)

Temperature extreme related deaths calculated for Latin America. Researchers have looked at the death rates in 326 Latin American cities between 2002 and 2015. They found that both heat and cold increased the death rate. Their analysis affirms that the projected climate-related increases in the frequency of extremely hot days would probably substantially increase the risk of heat-related deaths across the region. 5.75% of all deaths were due to either hot or cold extremes. The relative risk of death was 1.057 per 1°C higher temperature during extreme heat. The sharp increase in mortality with increasing temperatures was most pronounced for cities that regularly exceed approximately 25°C (for example, Buenos Aires, Mérida and Rio de Janeiro). However, among cities with temperate or cold climates that rarely (or never) exceed approximately 25°C (for example, Lima, Mexico City and Los Angeles), mortality did not increase or increased only minimally as temperatures increased. (See Kephart, J. L. et al (2022) City-level impact of extreme temperatures and mortality in Latin America. Nature Medicine, Doi.org/10.1038/s41591-022-01872-6.)
++++  Related news previously covered elsewhere on the site includes:
  - There is an increasing probability of record-shattering mega-heatwaves
  - Iran is heading towards a long-term water crisis an analysis reveals, and this will affect its feeding itself
  - Permafrost peatlands to become a net source of carbon dioxide and methane
  -
Boreal forests are becoming net sources of carbon rather than sinks
  - The Amazon is on fire
  - There has been a record surge in atmospheric carbon dioxide while the ability to reduce emissions declines
  -
The Earth is warming faster, Arctic summer ice melting more extensively, sea level rise is accelerating, and greenhouse gas emissions are increasing
  - Record Arctic wildfires portent major carbon sink becoming a carbon source
  - The UN climate COP26 meeting was held: world fails to commit
  - Record surge in carbon dioxide
  - Keeping to 1.5°C will save 250 million by 3000AD
  - Species assemblages not just species could go extinct with climate change
  - We must totally decarbonise by 2050
  - How much will the Earth warm with more carbon dioxide?
  - UN Climate Change Panel (IPCC) releases 2014 impact assessment

4.6million English bedrooms (19% of the stock) and 3.6million living rooms (15%) overheat in warm summers. The recent 2022 summer heatwaves in Europe, India and US were worse than the warm summer of 2018. Yet his 2018 warm summer is what is expected average summers will be like in the 2050s. Here, a survey of 750 English homes in 2018 reveals that many were prone to overheating. Weighting the survey's results to the whole of England's domestic housing stock reveals that 4.6million English bedrooms (19% of the stock) and 3.6million living rooms (15%) are prone to overheating. The prevalence of living room overheating was significantly greater in flats (30%) than other dwelling types. It was also greater in households living in social housing, with low incomes or with members aged over state pension age. In short, the disadvantaged in society tend to suffer more. (See Lomas, K. J. et al. (2022) Dwelling and household characteristics’ influence on reported and measured summertime overheating: A glimpse of a mild climate in the 2050’s. Building and Environment, vol. 201, 107986.)

 

…And finally this section, the season's SARS-CoV-2 / CoVID-19 science primary research and news roundup.

Wuhan sea-food market was epicentre for SARS-CoV-2. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, was identified as a likely source of cases in early reports, but later this conclusion became controversial. Research has now shown that the earliest known CoVID-19 cases from December 2019, including those without reported direct links, were geographically centred on this market. They report that live SARS-CoV-2–susceptible mammals were sold at the market in late 2019 and that within the market, SARS-CoV-2–positive environmental samples were spatially associated with vendors selling live mammals. (See Worobey, M., et al. (2022) The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the early epicentre of the CoVID-19 pandemic. Science, vol. 377, p951–959.)

How long are you infectious with CoVID? So you have tested positive, how long should you remain in isolation? New research indicates that one-quarter of people who have caught the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 could still be infectious after eight days: 10 might be a better limit. Something most scientists are confident about is that PCR tests can return a positive result even after someone is no longer infectious. This probably occurs when the tests, which detect viral RNA, pick up non-infectious remnants left behind after most of the live virus has been eliminated. By contrast, lateral flow (or ‘rapid antigen’) tests offer a better guide to infectiousness, because they detect proteins produced by actively replicating virus. Current UK recommendations are to self-isolate for five days. (See Adam, D. (2022) How long is CoVID infectious? What scientists know so far Nature, vol. 608, p16-7.)

Those with Omicron exhale very much more virus than the original CoVID variants. Research shows that those infected with the Alpha, Delta or Omicron variants of SARS-CoV – all of which are highly transmissible – exhale far more virus than other variants and especially when talking loudly. However, One ‘superspreader’ with Omicron (the S. Africa / Botswana variant) shed 1,000 times as much viral RNA as people who had Alpha or Delta. The researchers call for governments to invest more in indoor air quality. (See the review piece by Prillaman, M. (2022) People with omicron variant exhale large amounts of virus. Nature, vol. 609, p23  and the primary research preprint at medRxiv https://doi.org/h856; 2022).)

The 1918 flu pandemic saw different variants: its second wave was more deadly than the first. Normally, this research news item would have appeared above this CoVID research sub-section, but because it is so relevant to the current pandemic, we have it here.  Researchers have now sequenced the genes of both the first 1918 influenza A viruses (IAV) genomes from Europe and the first from samples prior to the 1918 autumn peak. IAV (or Spanish flu) arose from an A H1N1 virus. A collaboration of mainly western European researchers scoured museums for lungs of the 1918 flu victims and managed to sequence three variants. Their work suggests that the 1918 flu virus acquired mutations during the first wave of the pandemic in the Northern Hemisphere’s spring of 1918 that might explain why the second wave in autumn was so deadly. ( See Patrono, L. V., et al. (2022) Archival influenza virus genomes from Europe reveal genomic variability during the 1918 pandemic. Nature Communications, vol. 13, 2314, doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-29614-9  and the review piece  Nelson M. I. & Ghedin, E. (2022) 100-year-old pandemic flu viruses yield new genomes. Nature, vol. 607, p244-5.)
++++  Related news previously covered elsewhere on the site includes
  - We may not know when the SARS-CoV-2/CoVID-19 pandemic ends

CoVID mortality twice in less-developed countries than in developed. An international collaboration led by US demographers has revealed a shocking discrepancy of CoVID mortality (up to March 2022) between developed and less developed nations. Both developed and less-developed nations show increased mortality with age, but in all age cohorts the CoVID mortality rate was roughly twice that in less-developed nations. Seemingly paradoxically, CoVID deaths were actually similar between less-developed and developed nations because developed nations have more elderly. However, looking at death rates, as opposed to deaths, and it becomes apparent that the death rates were roughly double in less developed nations. 0.016% of those aged 20 in less-developed nations died compared to0.006% in developed nations. For those aged 60, it was 1.31% in developing nations compared to just 0.76% in developed nations.  They conclude that the burden of CoVID-19 is far higher in developing countries than in high-income countries, reflecting a combination of elevated transmission to middle-aged and older adults as well as limited access to adequate healthcare. These results underscore the critical need to ensure medical equity to populations in developing countries through provision of vaccine doses and effective medications. (See Levin, A. T., et al (2022) Assessing the burden of CoVID-19 in developing countries: systematic review, meta-analysis and public policy implications. BMJ Global Health, vol. 7, e008477.)

Genetic links to severe CoVID have been identified. British researchers from the Science Base (universities and research institutes) and a spin-out genomics company have sequenced the genomes of 7,491 critically ill individuals and compared these genomes with 48,400 who were not ill with CoVID. They found 23 genes were associated with those who were hospitalised with CoVID. These genetic associations identify biological mechanisms that may underlie the development of life-threatening CoVID-19, several of which may be lend themselves to developing drugs that will combat CoVID illness. (Kousathanas, A. et al (2022) Whole-genome sequencing reveals host factors underlying critical CoVID-19. Nature, vol. 607, p97-103.)

Omicron easily re-infects people unlike other SARS-CoV-2 variants. Having CoVID usually reduces the chance of you getting it again. However researchers in the South Africa – looking at nearly three million cases – have found that there is a very significant chance of re-infection with the omicron (S. Africa / Botswana B.1.1.529) variant compared to low risks of re-infection with earlier variants. (See Pulliam, J. R. C. et al. (2022) Increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection associated with emergence of Omicron in South Africa. Science, vol. 376, eabn4947.)

The end of 2021 and first three months of 2022 saw Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 dominate in England. The second wave (BA.2 in 2022) saw the highest weighted prevalence in children aged 5 to 11 years (almost all unvaccinated). The almost complete replacement of Omicron BA.1 by BA.2 resulted in a second peak in SARS-CoV-2 infections and unprecedented levels of infection in England in March 2022, after the initial Omicron (BA.1) peak in January 2022. These high infection rates were associated with increases in hospitalisations and deaths but at much lower levels than in previous waves against a backdrop of high levels of vaccination. (See Eliott, P. et al (2022) Twin peaks: The Omicron SARS-CoV-2 BA.1 and BA.2 epidemics in England. Science, vol. 376, eabq4411.) Subsequently new Omicron variants rose (see next item below).

New SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant offshoots have been detected. Known as BA.4 and BA.5, they are slightly more transmissible than earlier forms of Omicron and slightly vaccine resistant. However vaccination still greatly reduces the severity of BA.4 and BA.5 CoVID. (See Callaway, E. (2022) Are CoVID surges becoming more predictable? Nature, vol. 605, p204-5.)

Both the unvaccinated and vaccinated who have had the Omicron variant get limited protection against the Delta CoVID variant. Two research projects, one on unvaccinated omicron patients and one on vaccinated, show that Omicron infection confers limited protection against the Delta SARS-CoV-2 variant. Omicron is more infectious but has milder symptoms than Delta which sees a higher incidence of serious lung disease. Though vaccinated patients fare better. A tentative interpretation of these studies might indicate that variants though becoming more infectious are having a lesser disease impact and confer partial protection. This might be a sign that the pandemic is possibly beginning to end. However, vaccination remains key. (See Kahn, K., et al. (2022) Omicron infection enhances Delta antibody immunity in vaccinated persons. Nature, vol. 2, p356-9  and  Suryawanshi, R. K., et al. (2022) Limited cross-variant immunity from SARS-CoV-2 Omicron without vaccination. Nature, vol. 2, p351-5.)

The new variants have a greater chance of infecting the vaccinated. Research by the Centre for Infectious Disease Control in the Netherlands shows that there is an elevated risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 Beta, Gamma, and Delta variant compared to Alpha variant in vaccinated individuals. They found evidence of an increased risk of infection by the Beta (B.1.351), Gamma (P.1), or Delta (B.1.617.2) variants compared to the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant after vaccination. No clear differences were found between vaccines. However, the effect was larger in the first 14-59 days after complete vaccination compared to over 60 days. In contrast to vaccine-induced immunity, there was no increased risk for re-infection with Beta, Gamma or Delta variants relative to Alpha variant in individuals with infection-induced immunity. Their results confirm a lower vaccine effectiveness against infection for the Delta variant, and similarly the Beta and Gamma variant, compared to Alpha. At some point we may need a new vaccine tailored to new variants. (See Andeweg, S. P. et al (2022) Elevated risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 Beta, Gamma, and Delta variant compared to Alpha variant in vaccinated individuals. Science Translational Medicine, 10.1126/scitranslmed.abn4338.)

Centaurus is the new subvariant of SARS-CoV-2 sweeping India.  It is a subvariant of Omicron called BA.2.75 and nicknamed 'Centaurus'. It emerged in November 2020 but by May 2021 accounted for over 95% of known cases in India. It seems to have evolved from the BA.2 variant. A few cases have been found outside of India (such as in the US, UK and Japan) but it does not seem to have taken hold globally (so far). It is tentatively thought that those who have already had some other Omicron variants (such as BA.5) may be relatively protected against BA.2.75. Vaccination seems to protect against hospitalisation. (See Callaway, E. (2022) Will ‘Centaurus’ be the next global coronavirus variant? Nature, vol. 608, p462-3.)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) list of key variants of concern now include among others:
  - Kent (scientifically called B.1.1.7) to be now known as Alpha
  - S. African (scientifically called B.1.351) to be now known as Beta
  - Brazilian (scientifically called P.1) to be now known as Gamma
  - Indian (scientifically called B.1.617) to be now known as Delta
  - Californian (scientifically called B.1.429, B.1.427 and CAL.20C) to be now known as Epsilon
  - Philippines (scientifically called P.3) to be now known as Theta
  - New York (scientifically called B.1.526) to be now known as Iota
  - Peru (scientifically called C.37) to be now known as Lambda
  - Colombia (scientifically called B.1.621) to be now known as Mu
  - S. Africa / Botswana (scientifically called B.1.1.529 with offshoots BA.1, BA.2, BA2.75 (unofficially Centaurus), BA.3, BA.4 and BA.5) to be now known as Omicron

Some non-symptomatic people shed SARS-CoV viruses 60 times more than others. Between late 2020 and early 2021, when Alpha and earlier variants dominated, Christopher Brooke at the University of Illinois at Urbana– Champaign and his colleagues identified unvaccinated people at the university who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The researchers collected samples from the participants, who had mild or no symptoms, every day for up to two weeks. They found substantial differences in the number of days for which participants shed virus capable of infection: one excreted viable virus from their nose for nine days, whereas nine participants had no detectable infectious virus throughout the testing period. Modelling estimated that the most infectious people shed more than 57 times more virus over the course of infection than did the least infectious. (Ke. R., et al. (2022) Daily longitudinal sampling of SARS-CoV-2 infection reveals substantial heterogeneity in infectiousness. Nature Microbiol. vol. 7, p640–652.)

India's CoVID death toll could be nearly ten times higher than officials say. Some politicians have chosen to ignore or spread lies about the CoVID pandemic. This includes India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. For 2020 and 2021 India’s official CoVID-19 death toll was 481,000. However, the World health Organisation estimates that pandemic deaths in the country were between 3.3 million and 6.5 million — around 10 times India’s official CoVID-19 death toll. Globally, WHO's estimate for fatalities is around 15 million. This is 2.7 times the toll officially reported to the agency by individual countries. This is loosely in line with other research suggesting official underestimates. (Adam, D. (2022) True CoVID death toll could be more than double official count. Nature, vol. 605, p206.)

CoVID changes the brain! A large-scale imaging study of 100,000 participants of the 500,000 strong UK biobank study. The biobank has released the data from 785 sets of these ‘before and after’ scans, from people between the ages of 51 and 81. They found that there was a decrease in thickness in one region (the left orbitofrontal cortex) of the brain’s cortex after CoVID. There was a decrease of a bout a quarter of 1% in the thickness of theos who had had CoVID in people in their mid-50s, and a decrease of over 1.25% in people in their 70s after CoVID. The researchers also showed that this decrease did not occure in non-CoVID patients who had had pneumonia. Whether this harmful effect can be partially reversed, or whether these effects will persist in the long-term, remains to be investigated with additional follow-up. (See Douaud, G., et al. (2022) SARS-CoV-2 is associated with changes in brain structure in UK Biobank. Nature, vol. 604, p697-707  and the review piece  Gollub, R. L., et al. (2022) Brain changes after CoVID revealed by imaging. Nature, vol. 604, p633-4.)

Which vaccine is best, the Oxford-AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 or the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2?  A collaboration of biomedical researchers mainly from Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, have looked at the comparative effectiveness of both vaccines: previous research just looked at the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 or the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccines by themselves... The researchers looked at 24 million people registered at Britain's National Health Service (NHS) who were vaccinated over 20 weeks since vaccination in early 2021 (so we are talking about the alpha variant). It took three to four weeks after vaccination for full effectiveness in both vaccines. The difference in the number of vaccinated people needing at least Accident and Emergency department hospital treatment (as opposed to full hospitalisation) between the two vaccines over the 20 weeks was 0.006% with 2.17% vaccinated with Pfizer and 2.37% for the AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 (tech speak: with the 95% confidence intervals overlapping). The researchers therefore found that found no substantial differences between the vaccines in the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection or covid-19 disease. (Hulme, W. J., et al (2022) Comparative effectiveness of ChAdOx1 versus BNT162b2 CoVID-19 vaccines in health and social care workers in England: cohort study using OpenSAFELY. BMJ, vol. 378, e068946.)

How long do the Oxford-AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 or the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccines remain effective? A research collaboration largely based at Oxford University looked at over 5 million registered at Britain's National Health Service (NHS) who had been vaccinated by other one or the other of the AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 or the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccines and compared them with nearly 2.5 million unvaccinated for half a year. They found that the Waning of vaccine effectiveness was estimated to be similar for both vaccines. Rates of CoVID-19 related hospital admission and death were substantially lower among vaccinated than unvaccinated. While those vaccinated did increasingly become infected as the weeks passed, protection against severe CoVID necessitating hospitalisation remained over the study period. In short, the vaccine seems to protect the vast majority of people from death by CoVID for at least six months. (See Horne, E. M. F., et al (2022) Waning effectiveness of BNT162b2 and ChAdOx1 CoVID-19 vaccines over six months since second dose: OpenSAFELY cohort study using linked electronic health records. BMJ, vol. 377, e071249.)

Related SARS-CoV-2 / CoVID-19 news, previously covered elsewhere on this site, includes:-
  - The global death toll as of January 2022
  - The total global death toll revised
  - CoVID vaccines are very effective   - Vaccines reduce the incidence of long-CoVID
  - Do we need an Omicron vaccine?
  - UK pattern of the Omicron infections becomes clear
  - Move over Omicron sub-strain BA.1, here comes BA.2
  - Why is Omicron so infective?
  - Deer can be a breeding ground for new variants
  - The risk of heart disease from CoVID vaccines is very, very small
  - The World Health Organisation (WHO) list of key variants of concern
  - Britain embarks on an experiment ditching mask wearing
  - Third shot vaccine booster approved in Israel
  - Broad SARS-CoV-2 variant vaccine has initial trials in Manchester, Great Britain
  - Delta variant characteristics
  - New York's Iota variant contains key mutations found in other variants
  - Could SARS-CoV-2 have had two intermediate animal sources?
  - The closest relative to SARS-CoV-2 has been found in bats in northern Laos
  - A consortium has been created to map the epitope landscape of the SARS-CoV-2 spike
  - Africa has become a reservoir for CoVID-19 variants
  - New Ο (Greek Omicron) variant arises in Botswana
  - Omicron variant properties begin to be seen
  - Artificial intelligence helps tell border staff who to test for CoVID
  - Asia has become the dominant source of CoVID related plastic waste in the oceans
  - We may not know when the SARS-CoV-2/CoVID-19 pandemic ends!
  - Will we have to face a wave of more than one variant?
  - A small outbreak of pig coronavirus has been discovered to have taken place in Haiti in 2014/5
  - Global fatalities top 4 million but could have exceeded 8 million!
  - Boris Johnson's CoVID 'Freedom day' – Scientists had grave fears
  - UK's third wave of CoVID-19 sees young affected more
  - WHO investigation too slow and unclear about pandemic onset
  - A SARS-like virus has been detected in a horseshoe bat suggesting a potential SARS-like pool
  - Do coronavirus genes merge with human chromosomes
  - WHO changes the common name nomenclature for SARS-CoV-2 variants for snowflakes
  - Kent (sorry 'Alpha') variant of SARS-CoV-2 more lethal
  - Kent (sorry 'Alpha') variant of SARS-CoV-2 more transmittable
  - Some convergent evolution is taking place with SARS-CoV-2 variants
  - California variant has simple mutation similar to India variant
  - Both Oxford-Astra-Zeneca and Pfizer vaccines effective against the Kent (sorry 'Alpha') variant
  - India Delta variant B.1.617 now dominant in that country
  - India Delta variant B.1.617 diverges to two further two sub-variants
  - Why is the India Delta variant B.1.617 so successful?
  - Do vaccines work against the India Delta variant?
  - Pfizer-BioNTec vaccine is effective against the South African Beta SARS-CoV-2 variant
  - Novavax vaccine is effective against the S. African SARS-CoV-2 Beta variant
  - Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is effective against the S. African SARS-CoV-2 Beta variant
  - WHO optimistic of vaccines to protect against current early-summer 2021 coronavirus variants
  - China's CoronaVac vaccine has been approved by WHO
  - ZyCoV-D is the first DNA vaccine against CoVID-19
  - Russia's Sputnik V (vaccine) may be safe, it is beginning to look
  - Can you mix vaccines?
  - The mRNA vaccines are safe for pregnant women
  - Breast feeding and SARS-CoV-2 / CoVID-19 vaccines
  - Engineered immunoglobulin antibody promises to be an effective treatment
  - Over 100,000 lives had been saved in England due to the NHS vaccine roll-out
  - Overseas holidays were behind the 2020 autumnal wave of CoVID
  - Face masks effectively limit the probability of SARS-CoV-2 transmission
  - Those with asymptomatic CoVID-19 express as many viruses
  - People who have had CoVID-19 probably only need just one shot of two-shot vaccines
  - Vaccine trials tend to miss seχ detail
  - Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 could be long-term
  - Long CoVID affects 38% of those who have had CoVID and more of those hospitalised
  - Long CoVID affects children
  - Lead vaccine scientist receives Albert Award
  - Pros and cons of single shot vaccine strategy
  - More is being learnt about the new SARS-CoV-2 mutations
  - What makes the B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant more transmissible?
  - China's Coronavac vaccine has a disappointing Brazil trial
  - The new Novavax vaccine has near 90% efficacy
  - Hospital worker study of the Pfizer vaccine shows strong results
  - Elderly protected by Pfizer BioNTech vaccine
  - Scottish phase IV trial reveals high vaccine effectiveness
  - Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is highly effective according to a US study
  - Britain's Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine seems to reduce, and possibly prevent, transmission
  - Pfizer vaccine may suppress transmission of SARS-CoV2
  - The US approves third vaccine
  - Fake Sputnik V vaccines received from Russia
  - Vaccines may reduce long-CoVID-19
  - The SARS-CoV-2 vaccine side effects are rare and minimal
  - European nations temporarily ban Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine
  - Is the planet heading for a second peak?
  - UK dexamethasone steroid treatment for CoVID-19 successful
  - Worry less about SARS-CoV2 contaminating surfaces; worry more about aerosol transmission
  - First vaccine deployed - BioNTech's BNT162b2
  - The Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine
  - The Janssen Ad26CoVS1 vaccine
  - The AstraZeneca Oxford ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine
  - Russian SARS-CoV-2 vaccine data is suspicious
  - Vaccine unknowns
  - Life will not return to normal in spring 2021
  - An alternative to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine
  - Synchronising lockdowns
  - Masks not only reduce viral load…
  - Racoon dogs can catch SARS-CoV-2
  - Pet dogs can catch SARS-CoV-2 off of owners
  - Minks can catch SARS-CoV-2 off of farm workers
  - A new variant of SARS-CoV-2 has emerged in the south-east of the UK
  - A second new variant
  - So, what is the situation with vaccines and the new strains?
  - Two viruses related to SARS-CoV-2 (not variants of SARS-CoV-2) have been discovered outside of China in horseshoe bats
  - The spikes from the SARS-CoV-2 virus have now been directly seen
  - No symptom transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is less significant than symptomatic
  - Kenya has a surprisingly low death toll for its infection rate
  - Those who have more Neanderthal genes are at greater risk of severe CoVID-19
  - Some people may be naturally immune to SARS-CoV-2 and so do not get severe CoVID-19
  - Why men are more prone to CoVID elucidated
  - Healthcare workers and their households are at greater risk from SARS-CoV-2
  - Restaurants are high risk places for the spread of SARS-CoV-2
  - Big data and a simple epidemic model estimates SARS-CoV-2/CoVID-19 transmission rates
  - Hydroxychloroquine use against SARS-CoV-2 does not work
  - CoVID-19 fatality risk factors confirmed
  - SARS-CoV-2 can be spread by aerosols
  - Review concludes that masks are necessary to reduce spread of SARS-CoV-2
  - Social distancing and school closures are key to lowering the spread of CoVID-19
  - Genomic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 reveals how the epidemic spread in New York, US
  - Cruise ship SARS-CoV-2 containment informs on the virus
  - The free market has failed to lay the groundwork for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine
  - A new, highly pathogenic, coronavirus has emerged in China
  - How Eastercon and Worldcon fandom survived CoVID-19 lockdown
  - SARS-CoV-2, CoVID-19 and the SF Community Briefing

 

 

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Autumn 2022

Astronomy & Space Science News

 

There could be watery planets around red dwarf stars. Red dwarfs (specifically M class stars) are the most common type of star in the Galaxy. They are also very long lived with lifetimes many times that of our larger Sun. previous studies have suggested that of small planets around red dwarfs are only rocky and gassy types. Now, astronomers Rafael Luque and Enric Pallé have looked at the density of planets about red dwarfs: previous studies looked only at size and suggested that these planets were either rocky or gaseous. This new study identifies three populations: rocky, water-rich, and gas-rich. With the presence of watery planets as well as rocky planets, so the possibility for a life-bearing world increases. Having said that, red dwarfs are dim – which is why they are long-lived – and so planets in their habitable zones tend to be tidally locked. This makes it less likely for their to be complex life, though simple, single-celled life may abound. (See Luque and Pallé (2022) Density, not radius, separates rocky and water-rich small planets orbiting M dwarf stars. Science, vol. 377, p1,211-1,214  and the review piece  Teske, J. (2022) Three types of planets orbit red dwarfs. Science, vol. 377, p1,156-1,157)

Moon astronaut flight jacket has sold for US$2.7 million (£2.3 million). It was among a number of items associated with the Apollo 11 mission that went for a total of £6.8 million at Sotheby's auction in New York, USA.

Mars has two speeds of sound. Before the Perseverance rover landing, the acoustic environment of Mars was unknown. Using Perseverance microphone recordings, researchers have presented the first characterisation of the acoustic environment on Mars and pressure fluctuations in the audible range and beyond, from 20 Hz to 50 kHz. They have found that depending on the frequency of sound the speed of sound differs by 10 metres per second. (See Maurice, S. et al (2022) In situ recording of Mars' soundscape. Nature, vol. 605, p653-8.)

Mars' south pole has ice made of carbon dioxide that flows like water ice glaciers on Earth. Massive, kilometre-thick deposits of carbon dioxide ice have been detected at the south polar cap of Mars by radar investigations. These deposits are divided into several units that are separated by thin water ice bounding layers. However, the thickness and distribution of this ice should be much thinner than observed if only atmospheric effects are working on the ice. In the journal JGR Planets, researchers have used glacial modelling and feature analysis to demonstrate that glacial flow better explains the distribution of Martian south polar ice in its present state. Their work also suggests that the ice cap formed millions of years ago when Mars' angle of tilt was smaller. (See Smith, I. B. et al (2022) Carbon Dioxide Ice Glaciers at the South Pole of Mars. JGR Planets. doi.org/10.1029/2022JE007193.)
          ++++ Previous related news items elsewhere on this site includes:-
  - Europe and the US agree plan to bring Martian rocks to Earth
  - SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is impacting on space missions
  - Another way Mars loses its water has been observed
  - Mystery oxygen in Martian atmosphere
  - Curiosity launched
  - Curiosity Mars rover touches down
  - Evidence has been found for an ancient lake on Mars
  - Organic matter preserved in 3-billion-year-old mudstones at Gale crater
  - At least 66% of Mars' atmosphere has been lost since it was formed
  - Methane spike detected in Martian atmosphere: it could have come from a plume
  - A past flood on Mars has been deduced from geology
  - ESA's Mars Express has detected geological activity over the past billion years
  - ESA's Mars Express methane detection may indicate life
  - Mars' south pole has far more water than previously thought
  - Mars Express discovers a reservoir of water on Mars
  - The planet Mars's core is unexpectedly large

The James Webb Space Telescope has been hit by a small meteorite. The meteorite is the fifth to have struck the telescope since it deployed, however the previous hits were smaller and within the telescopes design hardiness. Nonetheless, the telescope's operators do not feel that images will be degraded severely by the latest strike, and so far it has been operating above expectations. (See Crane , L. (2022) Space telescope hit by rock, but all OK. New Scientist, vol. 254, No. 3,391, 18th June, p22.)

The James Webb Space Telescope has sent back its first set of pictures. These include nebula within our galaxy as well as deep space pictures of galaxies over 4.5 billion years old (roughly as old as the Earth). These distant galaxies are so far away that their light is red-shifted away from the visible spectrum. However because the James Webb Space Telescope sees in the infra-red, it can clearly see such distant galaxies.
          NASA's James Webb telescope has been constructed with the help of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). ESA is providing the NIRSpec instrument, the Optical Bench Assembly of the MIRI instrument, an Ariane 5 ECA launcher, and manpower to support operations. The CSA will provide the Fine Guidance Sensor and the Near-Infrared Imager Slitless Spectrograph plus manpower to support operations.
          For SF fans into science (and even scientists into SF), perhaps the most fascinating part of the James Webb mission will be to study the spectra of atmospheres of exoplanets. Already, in the first trance of data, it has detected water in the atmosphere of a hot Jupiter (and exoplanet gas giant orbiting close to its parent star. Previous astronomy has revealed over a thousand exoplanets. Some, such as such as some around TRAPPIST-1, may have liquid water. The James Webb space telescope should be able to confirm this.

Doomed planetary system first ever detected. A planet, and an object likely to be a planet, orbit a heavyweight star so massive that end in a super nova. Most of the 5,000-plus known planets beyond the Solar System circle relatively lightweight stars, no more than roughly twice the mass of the Sun. Whether planets can form and survive around stars big enough to go supernova remains relatively unexplored. However, the star μ² Scorpii, is about nine times the mass of the Sun, and astronomers have spotted a planet that’s roughly fourteen times the mass of Jupiter. There are also signs of a possible second object, roughly 18 times the mass of Jupiter and closer to the star than the first one. The presence of two planets around such a massive star suggests that large stars circled by large planets might be more common than expected. This is important as common thinking about planet formation is that large stars have strong solar winds that disperse protostellar disks and so are thought to impede the formation of large planets. (See Squicciarini, V. et al (2022) A scaled-up planetary system around a supernova progenitor. Astronomy & Astrophysics, vol. 664, A9.)

Europe's Vega-C rocket has a successful maiden flight. The medium-lift launcher successfully delivered seven satellites to orbit. Due to Russia's war with Ukraine, Soyuz rockets are not an option. Vega-C is an enhancement of the old Vega vehicle introduced in 2012. The upgrade brings greater performance as well as cost reductions. The Vega-C's first stage is also going to be used on Europe's forthcoming heavy-lift rocket, the Ariane-6. Sharing the stage technology across both launcher systems is expected to lead to significant savings. Both the earlier Vega and Vega-C use an upper-stage engine made in Ukraine. But Avio, the Italian firm responsible for assembling Vega vehicles, says it already has enough in its possession for the short term. Longer-term, a western European alternative is being developed.
          Of the seven satellites launched, one was the Lares-2 (Laser Relativity Satellite-2). It will test "frame dragging", a phenomenon predicted by Einstein in which the Earth twist local space-time around with it as it spins.

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Autumn 2022

Science & Science Fiction Interface

Real life science of SF-like tropes and SF impacts on society

 

China's surveillance society is going for the full 1984. The New York Times’s Visual Investigations team and reporters in Asia spent over a year analyzing more than a hundred thousand government bidding documents. They call for companies to bid on the contracts to provide surveillance technology, and include product requirements and budget size, and sometimes describe at length the strategic thinking behind the purchases. From facial recognition, iris scans and voice prints to DNA databases, China state is designing a system find out as much as it can about a person’s identity, activities and social connections, which could ultimately help the government maintain its authoritarian rule. In a number of the bidding documents, the police asked companies to provide technology that could be employed on cameras positioned where people go to fulfil their common needs – like eating, travelling, shopping and entertainment. The police also wanted to install facial recognition cameras inside private spaces, like residential buildings, karaoke lounges and hotels, this include the western Marriott International chain and Sheraton hotels. In the police’s own words, the strategy to upgrade their video surveillance system was to achieve the ultimate goal of “controlling and managing people.” In short, in terms of a surveillance society, they are doing much that George Orwell portrayed in his novel 1984.

The nuclear winter from a small nuclear war would see a billion die of starvation: a full-blown war, over five billion!  Global catastrophe and post-apocalypse fiction are well-trodden tropes of science fiction. Since 1983, it has been known that the soot from a nuclear war would dim the Sun, and cool the climate in a nuclear winter. So (ignoring the direct impacts) what would a nuclear war mean for our global food supply? New research confirms that even a small nuclear war would see about a billion die of starvation.
          Previous research two years ago demonstrated that even a small, hypothetical nuclear war between Pakistan and India would see six major global crop harvests decline by over 10%.  Now, many of that team have done a more detailed analysis looking at six different degrees of nuclear war. However, the smallest of these was the one their previous study considered between India and Pakistan using the nuclear arsenal they had back in 2008: it's bigger now. Their latest new low scenario is for a hypothetical India-Pakistan war in 2025. This would see 52 million immediate deaths, but at least about billion globally without food by the end of year 2.  Conversely, if there was a nuclear war between NATO and Russia or China over 5 billion would die of starvation by the end of year 2.  The only major nations to be largely unaffected would be Australia and Argentina. Even with a small India-Pakistan war, the US would have to go 50% vegetarian for its population to retain calorific intake. Even without a full-blown NATO-Russia war, a nuclear war one third of the size would see starvation across all of N. America even if all its population went vegetarian. Under this scenario, globally there would be over 2.5 billion dead from starvation by the end of year 2.  (See Jagermeyr, J. et al (2020) A regional nuclear conflict would compromise global food security. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol.117 (13), -7071–7081  and  Xia, L. et al (2022) Global food insecurity and famine from reduced crop, marine fishery and livestock production due to climate disruption from nuclear war soot injection . Nature Food, vol. 3, p586–596.)

Google's artificial intelligence (AI) is not sentient suggest AI experts. A seven-year employee of Google, engineer Blake Lemoine, claimed that the Google's AI LaMDA has the sentience of an eight-year old child. LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) has a vast storage of text and is able to draw on this when having conversations with people. Its ability to mimic chit-chat is remarkable and it even claims it has feelings and fears being switched off. Reportedly Blake Lemoine has been suspended by Google after he hired a lawyer to represent LaMDA. Google says he broke industrial confidentiality. Scientists, reported in New Scientist magazine, from the Alan Turing Institute (London) and the University of Surrey do not believe that LaMDA is sentient and that the technology has quite a way to go yet. (See Sparkes, M. (2022) No sign of a machine mind yet. New Scientist, vol. 254, No. 3,391, 18th June, p9.)

Artificial Intelligence is beyond patent law. The patent system assumes that inventors are human. Inventions devised by Artificial Intelligence (AI) machines require their own intellectual property law and an international treaty. Patent law is currently based on the assumption that inventors are human; it is not suited to deal with an inventor that is something else: a machine. Given AIs are now making discoveries, such as creating new antibiotics, vaccines and engineering design, courts around the world are having to address the problem now. Patent applications naming an AI system as the inventor have been lodged in more than 100 countries. Several groups are conducting public consultations on AI and intellectual property law, including in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe. If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge. (See George, A & Walsh, T. (2022) Artificial intelligence is breaking patent law. Nature, vol. 605, p616-8.)

Artificial intelligence (AI) can now learn like a baby and be surprised with anomalous physics. Objects do not usually fall up, or solid objects move through walls. Show babies tricks of illusionary physics and they will exhibit surprise. Conversely, AI systems still struggle to capture the ‘common sense’ knowledge that guides prediction, inference and action in everyday human scenarios. Researchers based in London developed a model called PLATO, for Physics Learning through Auto-encoding and Tracking Objects. This was a deep-learning system that learns intuitive physics directly from visual data, inspired by studies of visual cognition in children. Having used this to train an AI. They then showed it a solid ball apparently moving unimpeded through a solid wall. The AI exhibited 'violation-of-expectation', a psychological phenomenon observed in babies. (See Piloto, L. S. et al (2022) Intuitive physics learning in a deep-learning model inspired by developmental psychology. Nature Human Behaviour, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-022-01394-8.)

A living skin covering for robots has been created. In The Terminator film franchise, the hideous form of the robotic Terminators were covered by biological skin. This has now been developed for real by researchers in Japan. They have developed a living-skin consisting of cells and extracellular matrix, as a human-like and self-healing coverage material for robots. It was flexible and felt like skin. If scratched it could even heal. However, this artificial living skin was prone to drying out. To avoid such drying, building perfusion channels within and beneath the outer skin so as to mimic blood vessels to supply water, as well as the integration of sweating glands in the skin equivalent, need to be developed. That's the next challenge the researchers say. ( See Kawai, M. et al (2022) Living skin on a robot. Matter, vol. 5 1-19.)

Doppelganger, or people's look-alikes, are an occasional SFnal trope. Research now shows that in addition to looks, there are genetic similarities between doppelgangers. We recognise each other by relying on our face uniqueness. However, there are unrelated humans with uncanny resemblance. Researchers now report that look-alike pairs identified by facial recognition algorithms share genetic traits, and even certain non-physical characteristics such as behaviours and educational attainment. (See Joshi, R. S., et al (2022) Look-alike humans identified by facial recognition algorithms show genetic similarities. Cell Reports, vol. 40, 111257.)

 

And to finally round off the Science & SF Interface subsection, here are Isaac Arthur as well as a couple of PBS Space Time short videos…

What if the Sun went out, or if the Earth were ejected from the Solar system? What if Earth became a Rogue Planet? Is it possible the Earth might be separated from the Sun or the Sun go out? And if so, could we survive under an eternally dark sky? Such a concept has been covered a number of times in SF from the novel Galaxias to the short-story 'The Wandering Earth'.  Isaac Arthur's Futures discusses real life implications in this 30 minute video.

Is interstellar travel impossible?  OK, so we can, in theory, physically travel to other stars even if it would take a very long time – let's take that as read.  But suppose we wanted to travel four light years to the nearest stars, then we would need to cruise at above 20% the speed of light to get there and back in 40 years.  What would it be like travelling through the interstellar medium at that speed?  Would it even be possible and to survive?  Or are we doomed to remain within our Solar system?  If so, could this be the answer to the Fermi Paradox?  PBS Space Time fascinatingly crunches the numbers for us.  You can see this 14 minute video here.

Does the Universe create itself? Imagine you’re leading a game of 20 questions and you forget the thing you chose half way through. You have to keep answering yesses and nos and hope that you think of something that’s consistent with all your previous questions before the game is done. Well it could be that’s what the entire universe is doing. I hope it thinks of something good before we run out of questions.  You can see this 18 minute video here.

Could we decode alien physics?  Asks PBS Space Time.  How hard can it really be to decode alien physics and engineering? It’s gotta map to our own physics - I mean, we live in the same universe. We start by noticing that the alien technology seems to use good ol’ fashioned electronics, even if it is insanely complex. We know this because the particle carried by the alien circuitry looks like the electron. We decide this through a process of elimination… But, and there is a 'but'…  You can see this 14 minute video here.

Dumbest alien invasions.  One of Isaac Arthur's summer's monthly sci-fi Sunday looked at the dumb reasons for alien invasions in science fiction. It discusses the worst reasons aliens invade in fiction and some plausible scenarios for why they might do it in fact!  You can see this 35 minute video here.

Time Wars & Alternate Timelines.  Temporal paradoxes and time travel delights us in science fiction, but what would a war across time really look like?   You can see this 44 minute video here.

 

Season's Editorial & Staff Stuff Key SF News & Awards
Film News Television News Publishing News
Forthcoming SF Books Forthcoming Fantasy Books Forthcoming Non-Fiction
General Science News Natural Science News Astronomy & Space News
Science & SF Interface Rest In Peace End Bits

Autumn 2022

Rest In Peace

The last season saw the science and science fiction communities sadly lose…

 

Neal Adams, the US comic artist, has died aged 80. He worked for both DC and Marvel drawing characters including: Deadman, The Avengers and Batman. He was inducted into the Eisner Awards' Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1998, the Harvey Awards' Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Inkwell Awards Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame in 2019.

Sidney Altman, the Canadian molecular biologist of Eastern European heritage, has died aged 82. He moved to the US to study for his degree and embarked on a career there. He is noted for his work on of the ribozyme RNase P, a ribonucleoprotein particle consisting of both a structural RNA molecule. His group discovered that the RNA component, in isolation, was sufficient for the observed catalytic activity of the enzyme, indicating that the RNA itself had catalytic properties. This garnered him a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1989.

Marshall Arisman, the US artist, has died aged 83. He worked on Omni magazine and also produced S book covers.

Tomak Julian Baksik, the US sculptor, has died aged 51. He was the founder and owner of NetherCraft Creations, he designed and manufactured themed surfaces in plastics and metals.

James Bama, the US illustrator, has died aged 96. His subjects have included Doc Savage, Frankenstein and the crew of the Enterprise. He created the box art for Aurora’s monster model kits, such as King Kong, Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Mummy. His work is collected in The Western Art of James Bama (1975) and The Art of James Bama (1993).

Bryan Barrett, the US fan and bookseller, has died. He edited (with Lucy Huntzinger) Abattoir (1987 '- '91) and was the Chari of the 1998 World Fantasy Convention.

Bernard Bigot, the French chemist, has died aged 72.  Following a period in science education, he went on to research nuclear physics with an interest in energy production. He then moved into energy policy and helped shape France's continued nuclear power programme. (Today, in France, in France, 56 fission reactors account for 70% of the nation's electrical power generation.) From 2002 to 2003, he was chief of staff to French research minister (and former astronaut) Claudie Haigneré. He was high commissioner for atomic energy from 2003 to 2009, and then headed France's Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission until 2015. There he lobbied for the ITER fusion project: the world’s largest experimental fusion reactor. In 2015, he became director-general of the ITER. ITER had been running behind schedule: indeed the world's fusion programme before ITER had been running behind schedule since the 1980s. Nonetheless, he managed to keep things going even during the 2020 CoVID lockdown. He died in post.

Colin Blakemore, the bioscientist, has died aged 78. He originally studied medical sciences at the University of Cambridge but went on to do a PhD in neuroscience looking at vision in cats. He went on to find that vision problems caused by mismatched inputs from the eyes could be corrected, but only when kittens were at a critical developmental age. This led to refinements in the use of eye patches to prevent ‘lazy eye’ in children born with a squint. Following time in the US, he moved to Oxford University aged 35 to study neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. In 1976, his flair for communicating science saw him become the youngest person to deliver the Reith Lectures on BBC radio, choosing as his topic ‘Mechanics of the Mind’. In 1988, he presented a 13-part BBC TV series, The Mind Machine. He fell foul of animal activists. In 1992, he and a leading opponent of animal research set up the Boyd Group, a think tank that aimed to bring the two sides together to identify areas of agreement. From 2003-7 he headed the Medical Research Council, the Research Council run by scientists responsible for dispersing Government investment in biomedical research as part of the UK Science Base. He was belatedly knighted in 2014 (a leaked memo revealed that he previously been rejected the honour as the Civil Service thought him too outspoken – he preferred to answer questions, such as the need for animal experimentation, honestly) to become Professor Sir Colin Blakemore.

Raymond Briggs, the artists and graphic novelist, has died aged 88. He began working as an illustrator for magazines, advertisers and books. Having illustrated many children's books, he was dismayed by the standard of writing and so had a go himself. The result was his first graphic novel, The Strange House followed by others including Fungus the Bogeyman and Father Christmas. But he is possibly most known for The Snowman (1978) and the film adaptation on which he also worked. He also did adult graphic novels including When the Wind Blows, which concerns the government's advice on what to do in the event of a nuclear war, and The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman, which was about the Falklands War.

James Caan, the US actor, has died aged 82. Of his SF contributions he is arguably best known for starring in Rollerball (1975) (which, by the way, is infinitely better than the recent remake and won a Saturn Award). His other genre credits include: Countdown (1967, Alien Nation (1988), Elf (2003), Get Smart (2008) and Sicilian Vampire (2015).

Colin Cantwell, the US cinematic model maker, has died aged 89. His early work included assisting Douglas Trumbull on 2001: A Space Odyssey. In 1974 Cantwell was hired to work on the original Star Wars film. Based on Lucas' directions he created the original designs and concept models for a number of craft including the X-wing fighter, the Y-wing, the TIE fighter, the Star Destroyer, the Death Star, the Tantive IV (which was originally intended to be the Millennium Falcon), the landspeeder and the sandcrawler.

Bernard Cribbins OBE, the British actor, has died aged 93. He had a full and long career both on television and in film. He is possibly best known by the British public for being a part of the 'carry on' team for three of its films.  In SF terms he is best known for being in Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966), in which he played Tom Campbell, a companion to Dr. Who (Peter Cushing). Forty-one years later, he began appearing in the revival series of Doctor Who as Wilfred Mott (10 episodes), the grandfather of regular companion Donna Noble and a temporary companion to the Tenth Doctor. As such he was the only actor to have played two Doctor Who companions. His other television genre appearances include individual episodes of The Avengers (1968), the voice only of the principal character The Snowman (1993), a voice only in Space 1999 (1976) and Worzel Gummidge (1980) as well as narrating the series of The Wombles. His other genre films included: The Mouse on the Moon (1963), She (1965) and Casino Royale (1967).

Dan Deckert, the US fan, has died aged 70. He was active in the Los Angles SF Society (LASFS) serving terms as an officer including President and chaired Loscon in 1982.

Joseph H. Delaney, the British fantasy author has died. He was the author of over a score of novels set in the 'Spooks' universe. These have been published in 30 countries, and sales have exceeded 4.5 million copies. The main tranche of novels (13 in all) within this universe follow Tom Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son, on his adventures as apprentice to John Gregory, the local "Spook" or master fighter of supernatural evil. John is the Spook for "the County" and gives Tom practical instruction on tackling ghosts, ghasts, witches. A 2014 film adaptation of The Spook's Apprentice was produced by Legendary Pictures, directed by Sergey Bodrov, and entitled Seventh Son.  ++++ No relation to the SF author Joseph H. Delaney despite the identical name.

Tony Dow, the US actor turned director, has died aged 77. Genre related, his directing included episodes of the TV series: Babylon 5 (for which he was also the visual effects director), Crusade and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. As an actor he appeared in The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space (1995).

Frank Drake, the US astronomer, has died aged 92. Famously, he devised the Drake equation, that attempts to quantify the probability of the numberof intelligent civilisations that could exist in our galaxy. He was a radio astronomer and spent a part of his career listening for alien signals. In 1972, Drake co-designed the Pioneer space probe plaque with Carl Sagan and Linda Salzman Sagan. The plaquewas the first physical message sent into space and intended to be understandable by any sufficientlytechnologically advanced extraterrestrial lifeforms that might intercept it. In 1984, Drake moved to the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), becoming their Dean ofNatural Science. The non-profit SETI Institute (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) was founded the same year, with Drake as president of itsboard of trustees. Drake left his role as dean in 1988, but remained a professor at UCSC while also becoming director of the SETI Institute's Carl Sagan Center. Drake was President of the AstronomicalSociety of the Pacific from 1988 to 1990. From 1989 to 1992, he was chairman of the Board of Physics Career and Astronomy for the National Research Council.

Valerio Evangelisti, the Italian SF and horror grandmaster, has died aged 69. His debut novel Nicolas Eymerich l’inquisitore [Nicolas Eymerich the Inquisitor] won the Urania Award and spawned 11 follow-ups about a Catalan inquisitor of the 14th century. He was also the editor of an online magazine, Carmilla.

Sergey Dyanchenko, the Ukrainian fantasy writer, has died aged 77. Sergey was one half of a writing couple: the other being his wife Maryna. They were incredibly popular in Ukraine as was noticeable at the 2006 Eurocon, Kyiv. They are probably best noted for their tetralogy of 'Wanderers' novels. Most of their work is published in Russian though a few works have been translated into English including Vita Nostra (2007, English edition 2018). He also attended film school, and wrote a number of screenplays. Of SF² Concatenation note, Sergey was a bioscience graduate and obtained a Masters in biology before taking a medical degree and working as a psychiatrist. Sergey died in the US, in California, where he and Maryna had been living the past few years.

Eric Flint, the US author, has died aged 75. He was a prolific SF author with some 70 novels which is all the more remarkable as his SF career began when he was aged 50. His novels include Mother of Demons (1997), his 'Belisarius' sequence of alternate history novels (1998-2006) and the '1632' sequence of novels. He also edited (sometimes with others) collections of the work of Christopher Anvil, Randall Garrett, Tom Godwin, Keith Laumer, Murray Leinster, Howard L Myers and James M Schmitz. In 1999, he became the first librarian of the Baen Free Library, working with Jim Baen to determine whether the availability of books free of charge on the Internet encouraged or discouraged the sale of their paper books. He noted that the real enemy of most authors was not piracy but obscurity. He was a regular at SF conventions in the US.

Herbert W. Franke,, the Austrian-born author and scientist. After graduating he moved to Germany where he taught cybernetic aesthetics at the University of Munich. After publishing considerable nonfiction in the 1950s, mostly on either speleology or computer graphics (of which he was a pioneer), he also writing. His novels include Das Gedankennetz [The Mind Net] (1961), Zone Null (1970), Ypsilon Minus (1976), Transpluto (1982) and Cyber City Sud [Cyber City South] (2005). His won the Deutscher Science Fiction Preis in the 'Best Novel' category in 1985 and 1991, and the Kurd Lasswitz prize in 1985, 1986, and 2007.

Geoffrey Goodwin , the US writer, has died aged 50. Much of his writing was non-genre but he has had several stories in anthologies and fanzines. In 2014, he suffered a serious back injury in an accident with a drunk driver, causing chronic pain and other complications. This is no doubt why we lost him so early.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the Russian politician, has died aged 91. He took power in 1985, before the Soviet Union collapsed by 1991 when he resigned. Noted for allowing Eastern European nations, including E. Germany, Hungary, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, to go their own way, he also introduced freedoms to Soviet citizens and for the economy to begin flourish. (Unfortunately, much of the benefit of this economic liberalisation was undone by his successor, Yeltsin.) He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 in part for his nuclear arms reduction treaties with the US. Of genre note, Mikhail Gorbachev's liberal policies allowed previously banned SF books to be published in Russia, including George Orwell's 1984.

Alan Grant, the British comics writer, has died aged 73. Alan is arguably best known, in Britain at least, for his work on 2000AD including a stint as its editor. He is also well known for his writing partnership, before, during and after his time at 2000AD, with John Wagner including on Judge Dredd, but in the USA perhaps on Batman (occasionally again with John Wagner). With regard to Batman, he was responsible for the story arc Batman: The Last Arkham among much else. All the above does not do justice for a long and active career in comics.
          For some of us associated with SF² Concatenation, having before been a part of the first generation of Hatfield PSIFA, we met a couple of times in the late 1970s at the former Tharg Command Module (in IPC's King's Reach Tower) and again when half a dozen of the 2000AD crew were guests at an early Hatfield PSIFA Shoestringcon. We were sufficiently taken with Alan that he was the Guest of Honour at one of PSIFA's annual (Chinese) dinners. He was a thoroughly fine chap.

Roland J. Green, the US fantasy and SF author, has died aged 76. He is known for the 'Wandor' Sword-and-Sorcery sequence. He also contributed to the final volumes of the 'Richard Blade' series (nos 9–37 but not no.30) under a pseudonym. He collaborated with Jerry Pournelle on two 'Janissaries' Military SF novels among collaborations with other authors. He also worked in universes created by other writers including a number of Conan novels. He was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. He was married to fellow writer Frieda A. Murray.

Christine Guthrie, the US molecular geneticist, has died aged 77. Her BSc was in zoology and PhD on biochemistry. Overcoming sexism within her immediate academic community (“girls can’t do biochemistry”) she went on to make key discoveries to do with RNA's role. She found that snRNAs (small nuclear RNAs) serve primarily to catalyze splicing chemistry, whereas proteins safeguard accuracy.

Robert Harvey , the US comics cartoonist and comics scholar, has died. He has written or collected and edited thirteen books on comics and cartooning. His most recent book is Insider Histories of Cartooning: Rediscovering Forgotten Famous Comics and Their Creators (2014) and two more are already in press for publication posthumously.

Dorothy J. Heydt née Jones, the US fan and author, has died aged 80. She joined fandom in the 1960s. She wrote for the first Star Trek fanzine, Spockanalia. She founded and was the first editor of the Star Trek Concordance in 1968. She also wrote two novels and used the penname Katherine Blake. Some of her short stories were collected in Stories You Never Heard Of (2020).

J.G. ('Huck') Huckenpöhler, the US fan and science administrator, has died aged 81. He worked for the National Science Foundation maintaining a human resources archive of scientist's qualifications. He was also a longstanding SF fan and collector of Edgar Rice Burroughs' works among other authors including Britain's Ken Bulmer and his Dray Prescot stories (which kind of echoed Burroughs' style).

Sid Jacobson, the US comics writer, has died aged 92. he became an executive editor at Marvel Comics, where he helped create the children's imprint Star Comics. He co-created Casper the Friendly Ghost and wrote several Flash Gordon comics.

Gregory Jein, the US model maker, has died aged 76. His models were used in the special effects portions of many films and television series, beginning in the 1970s, including Wonder Woman, The UFO Incident, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (as Chief Model Maker working with Douglas Trumbull, among other things he and his crew made the mothership from a design by Ralph McQuarrie) for which he was short-listed for a special effects Oscar, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (working with Trumbull again), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. In 1986 he and a team at Industrial Light & Magic built the original six-foot model of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) (designed by Andrew Probert) for the pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation television series and he made the 'Excelsior' in the Star Trek: Voyager 'Flashback' episode.

Samanda Jeude, the US fan, has died aged 69. She helped create the SF convention disability access services organisation that became Electrical Eggs. An account of her life and fanac was featured by Camille Bacon-Smith in Science Fiction Culture. She was guest of honor at Rivercon XVIII (1988), Chattacon XVII (1992), and Balticon 31 (1997). She won Southern fandom’s Rebel Award in 1991 and was presented the Georgia Fandom Award at Dragon Con in 1994. She received the Big Heart Award, our highest service award, at the 1992 Worldcon.

Ken Kelly, the US artist, has died aged 76. He was best known for his record album covers, especially for the band Yes, but he also did SF book covers for Ace, DAW, Berkley, among other publishers. Some of his work is collected in The Art of Ken Kelly (1990).

Ken Knowlton, the US computer graphics pioneer, has died aged 91. He worked at Bell Labs, a division of the Bell telephone company. He developed what may have been the first computer programming language for computer animation, called BEFLIX (short for “Bell Labs Flicks”). he used this language to make an animated film. Called “A Computer Technique for the Production of Animated Movies”.

Ni Kuang, the Chinese author, has died aged 87. A prolific writer, he was originally a security official on the China mainland, but he moved to Hong Kong in 1957 following being accused of counter revolutionary activities. There he turned to writing. He was a prolific author best known for his 'Wisely Series' of science fiction detective stories that frequently feature aliens. Several of his stories have been made into films. There are 156 Wisely books in all. Many of his novels are not-too-thinly guised attacks on the communist state.

Robert Lichtman, the US fan, has died aged 79. He joined fandom in 1958 aged 15 and soon after joined the Los Angeles SF Society. He was an 18-time FAAn Award winner: six for his fanzine Trap Door, 10 for his letters of comment, and twice scored “Number one fan face”. Trap Door also was twice short-listed for a Hugo Award. He was a regular at the US fanzine fan convention Corflu. He was also the 1989 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fubd (TAFF) delegate.

James Lovelock CH, CBE, the British scientist, has died on his 103rd birthday. He trained as a chemist and then a clinician before becoming an independent scientist. For a while, he worked for NASA on the Viking Probe devising ways to detect life. He is known for developing the Gaia hypothesis, that the entire Earth system (both living and non-living components) act as a single, self-regulating system. This he popularised with his book Gaia: A new look at life on Earth (Oxford University Press, 1979). In 2006, the Geological Society (of London) – the UK professional body and learned society for geoscience – awarded Lovelock the Wollaston Medal in part for his work on the Gaia hypothesis. He also received several honorary doctorates in addition to his PhD.  He co-authored (with Michael Allaby) the SF novel The Greening of Mars (1984).  Also of genre interest, having advised the BBC on sound effects for a play, Lovelock's suggestions encouraged the formation of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, hence – Lovelock claimed – his share of the responsibility for the creation of the Doctor Who theme music.  ++++ See here for our editor's comment.

Patricia A. McKillip, the US fantasy author, has died aged 74. Her first full-length novel, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (1974), won a World Fantasy Award. Her other SF/fantasy novels include the 'Riddle-Master' trilogy: The Riddle-Master of Hed (1976), Heir of Sea and Fire (1977), and Locus Award winner and Hugo and World Fantasy Award finalist Harpist in the Wind (1979). Her novel Winter Rose (1996) was short-listed for a Nebula and Ombria in Shadow (2002) was a World Fantasy Award winner. She received a World Fantasy Life Achievement award in 2008.

Phillip Mann , the new Zealand SF author, has died aged 80. His The Disestablishment of Paradise was a 2014 finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for services to science fiction, fantasy and horror in 2010. In 2017, he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to theatre and literature.

Denis Meikle, the British fantastic film academic, has died aged 75. His books include A History of Horrors: The Rise and Fall of the House of Hammer (1996), Jack the Ripper: The Murders and the Movies (2001), Vincent Price: The Art of Fear (2003), Johnny Depp: A Kind of Illusion (2004), The Ring Companion (2005) and Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out (2006). He was also a small press publisher and journal editor.

Benjamin Mottelson, the US-born turned Dane, physicist, has died aged 95. During the 1950s, in collaboration with his Danish colleague Aage Bohr, he constructed the collective model of atom structure and this superseded the up-to-then-favoured 'shell model'. This 'collective' model has helped in areas as disparate as superconductivity and neutron stars. Mottelson and Bohr (whose father Niels won a Nobel prize in 1922) shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work, together with US nuclear physicist James Rainwater.

Nichelle Nichols, the US actress, has died aged 89. Her early career was as a stage singer and actress starring in musicals. Her first television role was when she was cast in a 1964 episode of Gene Roddenberry's TV series The Lieutenant (playing Norma Bartlett). The two had a very brief romance but became lifelong friends. She was then cast in the role that was to make her famous, as communications officer Lieutenant Nyota Uhura. She was going to quit the show after the first series, to return to the stage, but famously the civil rights leader Martin Luther King talked her into staying: she had already quit but Gene Roddenberry asked her to think about it a while. She went on to play Uhura in the Star Trek films. She also played a recurring role on the second season of the NBC TV drama Heroes. In 1976, along with the other cast members from the original Star Trek series, she attended the christening of the first space shuttle, Enterprise, at the North American Rockwell assembly facility in Palmdale, California. In response to her criticism of NASA’s lacklustre efforts to include women and minorities in the Astronaut Corps, NASA contracted as an ambassador. The recruitment drive she led in 1977 drew applications from more than 2,600 women and minority astronaut hopefuls. Among those hired from the diverse applicants were two trailblazers: the first American woman astronaut to travel into space, Sally Ride, and the first African-American astronaut to do so, Guion (Guy) Bluford. Asteroid 68410 Nichols is named in her honour. In 2015 she suffered a stroke but this did not prevent her from riding to the edge of space that year with NASA's plane-mounted SOFIA telescope. In 2018 was sadly diagnosed with dementia. Nonetheless, that yer she attended the San Diego Comic-Con where she received an Inkpot Award. Her life is recounted in her autobiography her autobiography Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories (1994).

Monty Norman, the British composer, has died aged 94. His genre work include composing music for The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) and The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) as well as the musical Pinocchio (1988). However, he is best known for writing the James Bond Theme, the signature theme of the James Bond franchise, and the score to the first James Bond film Dr. No. (The James Bond theme is here.)

Frank Olynyk. Late news in via File770 that Frank Olynyk, the Canadian born US fan, has died aged 79. The Ohio, US, based fan was a regular Worldcon attender for half a century. In real life he was a computer scientist. His family is of Ukrainian descent and his next of kin noted that his death on 24th February coincided with Russia invading the land of his forebears.

Alexei Panshin , the US critic and SF author, has died aged 82. His Heinlein in Dimension which at the time had to appear in bits and pieces in fanzines due to legal threats to its prospective publisher, played a part in Panshin winning the first Best Fan Writer Hugo Award in 1967. Heinlein in Dimension did see professional publication in 1968. He was the author of the 'Anthony Villiers' book series. His novel Rite of Passage (1968) garnered him a Nebula. He and his wife, Cory Seidman, wrote a number on non-fiction SF books including SF in Dimension (1976) and The World Beyond The Hill: Science Fiction and the Quest for Transcendence (1989), the latter won a Hugo.

Eugene Parker, the US physicist, has died aged 94. He specialised in plasma physics applying it to Solar astronomy. He is best known for (building on the work of the German astronomer Ludwig Biermann that something was perturbing a comet's tail into two components) proposing in 1958 the existence of a Solar wind and that the Sun's magnetic field across the whole Solar system would be shaped in what came to be called a Parker spiral, an idea initially rejected by peer-reviewers who were overruled by the editor of the Astrophysical Journal, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. His theoretical contentions were later proved especially by the Mariner 2 mission. He was a recipient of: the Chapman Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1979), the National Medal of Science (1989), the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1992), the Kyoto Prize (2003), the James Clerk Maxwell Prize of the American Physical Society (2003) and the Crafoord Prize in Astronomy (2020).  NASA renamed its Solar Probe Plus to the Parker Solar Probe, the first time that a space vessel was named after a living person. He was present at its 12th August, 2018, launch.

George Pérez , the US comics artist and writer, has died aged 67. he is noted for his work on DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths and Wonder Woman, along with Marvel’s The Avengers.

Wolfgang Petersen, the director, has died aged 81. Best known for such films as The Perfect Storm, Air Force One and Das Boot, he also directed the genre films The Never Ending Story (1984) and Enemy Mine (1985).

Timothy Roger Sale , the US comics artist, has died aged 65. He is best known for his collaborations with writer Jeph Loeb, which included both comics work, and artwork for the TV series Heroes His work included the Batman graphic novel Hush. He also worked on Spiderman and Superman titles. He w on an Eisner Award in 1999 in the "Best Artist/Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team" category.

Pat Silver (formerly Brown), the British SF fan, has died. She regularly provided tech services for Novacons and the British Eastercons. She went on to become a cappella filker.

Atanas P. Slavov, the Bulgarian SF author, artist and translator, has died aged 75. he is a three time Eurocon Award winner for Fanzine, Author and European Promoter.

Peter Straub, the US author, has died aged 79.  His novels were largely fantastical horror that sometimes had an SFnal riff.  He wrote Shadowland (which was short-listed for a World Fantasy Award, 1981)  He co-wrote The Talisman (1984) which won the 1985 World and Locus Fantasy Awards, The Throat (the winner of the 1993 Bram Stoker Award. and Black House (2001) with Stephen King which was short-listed for a Bram Stoker Award.  He has won four World Fantasy Awards (including for Koko (1988) and the anthology American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps (2009)) and ten Bram Stoker Awards.  His novel Julia (1975) was adapted for film as Full Circle (1977) and his novel Ghost Story (1979) was adapted to a film of the same name in 1981.  He received World Fantasy (2010) and Bram Stoker Life Achievement (2006) awards, was named an International Horror Guilds Living Legend (2008), and a World Horror Grandmaster.

Kazuo Takahashi, the Japanese Manga artist, has died aged 60 in a drowning accident. He created the Yu-Gi-Oh Mangas which spun out into a large videogame franchise.

Dave Tompkins, the British fan, has died aged 71 we worked on logistics for many UK conventions' art shows since the 1979 Worldcon, Seacon '79. In 2002 he was awarded with a Doc Weir.

Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassou, known professionally as Vangelis, has died aged 79. The Greek musician, composer and producer of electronic, progressive, ambient, and classical orchestral music is best known SFnally for the theme music for Blade Runner (1982). He also provided some of the music for music in the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan. In the 1990s, Vangelis scored undersea documentaries for French ecologist and filmmaker, Jacques Cousteau, one of which was shown at the 1992 UNCED Earth Summit. In 2001, Vangelis performed live, and subsequently released, the choral symphony Mythodea, which was used by NASA as the theme for the Mars Odyssey mission. For the 12th November 2014 landing of the Philae lander on Comet 67P (part of the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission), Vangelis composed three short pieces titled 'Arrival', 'Rosetta's Waltz' and 'Philae's Journey'. In 2003, NASA conferred their Public Service Medal to Vangelis. The American Film Institute nominated Vangelis's scores for Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire for their list of the 25 greatest film scores

Dennis Waterman , the British actor, has died aged 74. He is best known for two cult TV classic, non-genre roles of DC George Carter, partner to the maverick special branch cop Jack Reagan (John Thaw) in The Sweeney (1974-1978) [cockney rhyming slang: 'Sweeney Todd' 'Flying Squad'] and as ex-boxer minder Terry McCann to lovable wide-boy Arthur Dailey (George Cole) in Minder (1979-1989). His genre roles included starring in the films Scars of Dracula (1970) alongside Christopher Lee and in Fright (1971) alongside Honor Blackman.

Billy Wolfenbarger, the US writer and poet, has died aged 79. He wrote mainly fantasy/horror short stories as well as poems. He also contributed to the fanzines Outworlds and Xenolith.

Matt Zimmerman , the Canadian actor, has died aged 87. In genre terms he is best known for voicing Alan Tracy in Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds (1965-1966).

 

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Autumn 2022

End Bits & Thanks

More science and SF news will be summarised in our Spring 2023 upload in January
plus there will also be 'forthcoming' spring book releases, plus loads of stand-alone reviews. (Remember, these season's relate to the northern hemisphere 'academic year'.)

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page goes to: Ansible, Fancylopaedia, File 770, Silviu Genescu, Julie Perry (Google Scholar wizard), SF Encyclopaedia, SFX Magazine, Boris Sidyuk, Telerama.fr, Peter Tyers, and Peter Wyndham, not to mention information provided by publishers. Stories based on papers taken from various academic science journals or their websites have their sources cited.  Additional thanks for news coverage goes not least to the very many representatives of SF conventions, groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk who sent in news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page.  If you feel that your news, or SF news that interests you, should be here then you need to let us know (as we cannot report what we are not told). :-)

Thanks for spreading the word of this seasonal edition goes to Ansible, File 770, Caroline Mullan, Peter Wyndham and Silviu Genescu.

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Spring 2023 period – needs to be in before 15th December 2022. News is especially sought concerns SF author news as well as that relating to national SF conventions: size, number of those attending, prizes and any special happenings.

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