Science Fiction News
& Recent Science Review for the
Autumn 2023

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

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

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 2023

Editorial Comment & Staff Stuff



A bit of a milestone with this season's edition. We have now just passed posting 2,000 standalone fiction reviews on the site.  Well, not counting a couple of years hiatus as we switched from paper to online editions, we have been going for 36 years...

We are ceasing to provide Twitter (X) alerts. Our posting schedule is fairly regular and we also have an RSS Feed. So Twitter alerts are not really needed as evidenced by less than 1% of our typical monthly unique visitors subscribing to our Twitter alert account. Twitter is also changing and new user biometric criteria are apparently bering considered and this is just too Orwellian for us.



The 2023 SF Worldcon in China will soon be upon us. We now need to start to think about the future!  There have been multiple issues (one major one alone would be enough) with this Worldcon starting with its site selection bid win, one of its Guests support for Putin and his illegal war against Ukraine, one of its Guests support for China's Uyghur persecution and controversy as to a western guest seemingly happy to share a stage with the afore two (resulting in, among other complaints, over 80 SF authors calling for China for the Chengdu Worldcon to be revoked) and the convention changing the venue it used to pitch its bid.  All of which make the extreme lateness in the convention's Progress Report's publication seem positively trivial.
          The question the Worldcon community needs to ask itself is whether or not it wants to change the World SF Society (WSFS – the body under whose auspices the convention is run) constitution and rules to prevent future Worldcon guest being open supporters of those individuals and states that commit crimes against humanity, venue change (unless the venue has become unusable due either to damage or industrial action), and site voter verification (though there are some measures already in place but that year's site selection vote administrators chose not to implement them)?
          And the Chengdu Worldcon is not the only concern. There have in recent years been Worldcon bids by nations whose human rights is so bad that some potentially attending SF fans would find that their private personal relations would be illegal. Fortunately, none of these Worldcon bids has yet won, but it is surely only a matter of time.
          The choice is simple: do something, or do nothing.
          If the former, then a discussion among regular Worldcon attendees, and allied SF stakeholders, needs to take place beginning now so that meaning proposals can be presented to next year's 2024 UK Worldcon in Glasgow's WSFS Business Meeting.
          If the latter then no problem, the SF community will risk getting a future Worldcon it allows, but which many may not want.



Arthur Chappell, one of our regular book reviewers and con reporters, has had a film made.  He originally wrote a 10-minute dark comedy screenplay for a local film making group in Preston but the group folded. However another local film-making group in Burnley.  It is called Watching Paint Dry and you can see it here.
          Arthur also has a poem in the anthology Buzzin' Bards from The Little Gems Press. Called 'Burden' it is an autobiographical poem on having to wear a stoma.

Mark Yon, one of our regular book reviewers, is short-listed for a Hugo Award.  In addition to being one of our book reviewers, Mark is better known for being part of the Galactic Journey fanzine that is one of six fanzines short-listed for a Hugo Award this year.  Our congratulations.
          The Galactic Journey team are among those who have decided not to attend this year's Hugo Award ceremony due to concerns over this year's Worldcon's Guests of Honour.  Very admirable.


Elsewhere this issue…
Aside from this seasonal news page, elsewhere this issue (vol. 33 (5) Autumn 2023) we have stand-alone items on:-
          Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny... A close look reveals... – Arthur Chappell
          When did the first human evolve? A SETI approach illuminates – Jonathan Cowie
          Conversation – The 2023 British Eastercon – Arthur Chappell
          The Sci-Fi London 2023 Film Fest – Jonathan Cowie
          Pemmi-Con – The 15th North American Science Fiction Convention – Sue Burke
          Plus well over thirty (30!) 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 36th 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 2023

Key SF News & SF Awards


The Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the short-lists and winners for the 2023 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 24th June 2023, during the Locus Awards day. Maggie Tokuda-Hall was the mistress of ceremonies for the awards ceremony. The principal category short-lists and winners are:-
Science Fiction Novel
          Sweep of Stars, Maurice Broaddus
          The Red Scholar’s Wake, Aliette de Bodard
          The Spare Man, Mary Robinette Kowal
          Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel
          The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
          Goliath, Tochi Onyebuchi
          WINNER The Kaiju Preservation Society, John Scalzi
          Eyes of the Void, Adrian Tchaikovsky
          Neom, Lavie Tidhar
          Eversion, Alastair Reynolds
Fantasy Novel
          The Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison
          When Women Were Dragons, Kelly Barnhill
          Spear, Nicola Griffith
          The World We Make, N. K. Jemisin
          Nettle & Bone, T. Kingfisher
          WINNER Babel, R. F. Kuang
          Nona the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir
          The Golden Enclaves, Naomi Novik
          Fevered Star , Rebecca Roanhorse
          Siren Queen, Nghi Vo
          The Rise of the Cyberzines: The Story of the Science-Fiction Magazines from 1991 to 2020, Mike Ashley
          Fantasy: How It Works, Brian Attebery
          An Earnest Blackness, Eugen Bacon
          Queering SF: Readings, Ritch Calvin
          Bridging Worlds: Global Conversations on Creating Pan-African Speculative Literature in a Pandemic, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
          Charting the Afrofuturist Imaginary in African American Art: The Black Female Fantastic, Elizabeth Carmel Hamilton
          The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom, Volume Two: 1940, David Ritter & Daniel Ritter
          Keeping It Unreal: Black Queer Fantasy and Superhero Comics, Darieck Scott
          Stephen King: A Complete Exploration of His Work, Life, and Influences, Bev Vincent
          WINNER Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes: The Official Biography, Rob Wilkins
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, Eversion and Sea of Tranquility: A novel were all on our choice list of best SF novels of 2022 (posted back in January (2023).  ++++   The details of all the category short-lists can be found at

The World Fantasy Awards short-list has been announced.  The principal category short-lists are:-
          - Saint Death’s Daughter by C. S. E. Cooney
          - Spear by Nicola Griffith
          - The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings
          - Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R. F. Kuang
          - Siren Queenby Nghi Vo
          - Screams from the Dark: 29 Tales of Monsters and the Monstrous by Ellen Datlow eds.
          - Other Terrors: An Inclusive Anthology edited by Vince Liaguno and Rena Mason
          - Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror edited by John F. D. Taff
          - Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight
          - Trouble the Waters: Tales from the Deep Blue edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Pan Morigan, and Troy Wiggins
          - Dark Breakersby C. S. E. Cooney
          - Breakable Things by Cassandra Khaw
          - All Nightmare Long by Tim Lebbon
          - Boys, Beasts & Men by Sam J. Miller
          - A Different Darkness and Other Abominations by Luigi Musolino
The juried awards will be presented at the 2023 World Fantasy Convention, scheduled for 26th – 29th October, 2023 at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel, Crown Center, Kanasas City, Missouri, USA..  ++++ The 2022 World Fantasy Award short-list is here.

The 2023 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 two principal category (there are others) shortlists are:-
          Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award):-
                    The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller
                    Cast Long Shadows by Cat Hellisen
                    Glitterati by Oliver K. Langmead
                    The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri
                    Path of War by David Green
                    The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez
          Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award):-
                    Full Immersion by Gemma Amor
                    The Hollows by Daniel Church
                    Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey
                    Miracle Growth by Tim Mendees
                    Sundial by Catriona Ward
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 Clarke (SF book) Award short-list and winner have been announced.  The short-list consists of:
          Venomous Lumpsucker by Ned Beauman
          The Red Scholar’s Wake by Aliette de Bodard
          Plutoshine by Lucy Kissick
          The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier
          The Coral Bones by E. J. Swift
          Metronome by Tom Watson
The winner receives a trophy in the form of a commemorative engraved bookend and prize money to the value of £2023.
          And the winner is Venomous Lumpsucker by Ned Beauman.
It concerns a lost fish. Mining executive Mark Halyard has a prison cell waiting for him if that fish is gone for good, and biologist Karin Resaint needs it for her own darker purposes. They don't trust each other an inch, but they're left with no choice but to team up in search of the lumpsucker. And as they journey across the strange landscapes of near-future Europe - a nature reserve full of toxic waste; a floating city on the Baltic Sea; the lethal hinterlands of a totalitarian state - they're drawn into a conspiracy far bigger than one ugly little fish….

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: Babel by R. F. Kuang
          Novella: Even Though I Knew the End by C. L. Polk
          Novelette: 'If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You' by John Chu
Also presented was the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation the winner was Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Details of all the category wins can be found at  This year's full short list we reported last season.  +++ Last year's principal win Nebulas here.

The 2023 Aurora Awards short-lists and winners from the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association have been announced.  The principal 'Best Novel' category short-list was:
          All the Seas of the World by Guy Gavriel Kay
          The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
          The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield (WINNER)
          Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
          The Void Ascendant by Premee Mohamed
Details of the other Award categories can be found at

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: The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias
          Debut Novel: Beulah by Christi Nogle
          Graphic Novel: Kolchak: The Night Stalker: 50th Anniversary edited by James Aquilone.
Full details of all the category wins can be found at  +++ Last year's principal category winners are here.

The 2023 Yoto Carnegie Medal winner has been announced.  The award is for best juvenile fiction published in English and is not genre restricted.  The 2023 winner is Manon Steffan Ros for her The Blue Book of Nebo which was originally (2018) published in Welsh. It concerns a young women whose son was only six when the world ended in thermonuclear war.

The 2023 Hugo Award nomination shortlists have been announced for 2022 works.  Voting has now commenced and the results will be announced at this year's Worldcon in Chengdu, China in October (2023).  This year's short-list announcement is decidedly late due to this year's Worldcon changing its venue and then twice changing its dates.  This year the Hugo Administrators only provided summary numbers: apparently there were over 1,800 Worldcon (technically current World SF Society) members nominating for various categories of Hugo Award and that all told – across all the Award's 17 categories – some 25,000 individual works. The Award's administrators did not provide numbers of voters in each category which usually we, at SF² Concatenation, use to determine the most significant Hugo categories (some others have such a small number of nominators that their short-lists are not particularly meaningful)l. So we have used the principal categories we covered last year (categories that then had over 350 nominating).
Best Novel
          The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
          The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
          Legends & Lattes byTravis Baldree
          Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
          Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
          The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal
Best Novella
          Even Though I Knew the End by C. L. Polk
          Into the Riverlands by Nghi Vo
          A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow
          Ogres by Catherynne M. Valente
          What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
          Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
          Avatar: The Way of Water (Trailer here)
          Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Trailer here)
          Everything Everywhere All at Once (Trailer here)
          Nope (Trailer here)
          Severance (Season 1)
          Turning Red
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
          Andor “One Way Out”
          Andor “Rix Road”
          The Expanse: Babylon’s Ashes
          For All Mankind “Stranger in a Strange Land”
          She-Hulk: Attorney at Law “Whose Show is This?”
          Stranger Things “Chapter Four: Dear Billy”

The Dragon Awards have been announced.  The Awards are presented at the US Daragoncon and voted on by its advanced registrants. They are for works released between 1st July 2022, and 30th, June 2023, which means the award largely covers the time between the end of voting before the convention one year and the next. It also means that titles released early in the summer will get overlooked as folk will not have had time to read them especially it the mass market paperback hasn't yet come out.  Anyway, the principal categories (SF, fantasy and horror novel, TV and film) are:
SF Novel
          - Eversion by Alastair Reynolds
          - The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal
          - Children of Memory by Adrian Tchaikovsky
          - Translation State by Ann Leckie
          - Neom by Lavie Tidhar
          - The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
          - The Icarus Plot by Timothy Zahn (WINNER)
Fantasy Novel
          - The Witch King by Martha Wells(WINNER)
          - Tower of Silence by Larry Correia
          - Babel by R. F. Kuang
          - Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson
          - Into the Vortex by Charles E. Gannon
          - The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake
Horror Novel
          - The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias
          - Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste
          - A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher (WINNER)
          - No Gods For Drowning by Hailey Piper
          - The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay
          - The Only One Left by Riley Sager
SF/F Film
          - Avatar: The Way of Water by James Cameron
          - Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves by Jonathan Goldstein (WINNER)
          - Everything Everywhere All at Once by Daniel Kwan
          - Guardians of the Galaxy: vol. 3 by James Gunn
          - Puss in Boots: The Last Wish by Joel Crawford
          - Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse by Joaquim Dos Santos
SF/F TV Series
          - Andor, Disney+
          - The Last of Us, HBO
          - The Sandman, Netflix (WINNER)
          - Strange New Worlds, Paramount+
          - The Mandalorian, Disney+
          - Picard, Paramount+
          - House of the Dragon, HBO
There were 11 categories in all including things like illustrative cover, digital games.
          Eversion by Alastair Reynolds and The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia was January 2021 cited by the SF² Concatenation team as one of the Best SF novels of 2022  and  Everything Everywhere All at Once a Best SF films of 2022.


Other SF news includes:-

2000AD special Battle Action edition (Prog 2,350) comes out the week after posting this season's (September 2023) SF² Concatenation.  Battle Action (itself a merger of Action and Battle) was a comic launched shortly after 2000AD in 1977. Rebellion, the now publishers of 2000AD, also have the rights to Battle Action.  So, what if in some alternate universe it had merged with 2000AD and its strips were given and SFnal boost?  This is what this special edition will feature. So, 'Hellman of Hammer Force' becomes 'Hellman of Hell Force': with World war II tanks in hell.  'Kids Rule OK' becomes 'Juves Rule OK' in which a virus kills off all the adults leaving only trainee Judge cadets to bring order to the warring youngsters of Mega-City One.
          Accompanying this special edition will be a similarly themed edition of The Judge Dredd Megazine returns to Billy Carter and the time of the Dark Judges (Death et al.). In their aftermath, a mysterious stranger (an old British comic character) arrives to help the Judges clean up.

The Fantasy: Realms of Imagination exhibition runs at the British Library from 27th October 2023 – 25th February 2024.  The exhibition features over 100 items, some never seen before in the UK, that illustrate how Fantasy is flourishing today across a range of different media – literature, TV, film, games and more – and looks back at the origins of the genre.  Fantasy: Realms of Imagination will be accompanied by a diverse events programme, encompassing Q&A’s with celebrated Fantasy writers, after-hours Library Lates and creative writing workshops.  The exhibition will explore the evolution of Fantasy. From ancient folk tales and fairy stories, gothic horror and weird fiction, to live action role-playing games inspired by fantasy worlds, the exhibition will celebrate the genre and its enduring impact. It includes historical manuscripts, rare first editions, drafts of iconic novels, scripts and maps, film props and costumes.
          Tickets: A full priced ticket is £16, with concessions available. There are 10% discounts for groups over 10 when booked in advance.
          The British Library is the national library of the UK. Its shelves hold over 170 million items – a living collection that gets bigger every day. Although its roots extend back centuries, it aims to collect everything published in the UK today, tomorrow and far into the future. Its experts care for this collection and open it up for everyone to spark new discoveries, ideas and to help people do incredible things.
          SF² Concatenation is archived on the British Library web archive:

Embroidered Worlds: Fantastic Fiction from Ukraine is a proposed anthology.  The goal is to bring Ukrainian stories of the fantastic to a broader audience with it being in English, in partnership with an indie publisher out of Detroit, Atthis Arts. The executive editor is author E.D.E. Bell, who works alongside managing editor Chris Bell, with the support of a team of friends and associates.
          Its Ukrainian-based editors are Olha Brylova and Iryna Pasko from Dnipro and one based in Chicago, Valya Dudycz Lupescu.  Embroidered Worlds presents a living snapshot of imaginative fiction in Ukrainian culture today, including stories that span and cross the speculative genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, weird fiction, magic realism, and alternate history. The majority of stories included in the anthology will be from writers in Ukraine, and for most of them it will be the first time their work will be translated into English.
          There is a KickStarter campaign you can support:

Norman Spinrad's Facebook page has been cloned a number of times. Author Norman Spinrad has had his Facebook page cloned a number of times by nefarious souls and says Facebook is doing nothing about it. He invites fans to join Norman Spinrad & Company At Large (Google it to get link) where all the stuff there can be reposted and/or reused by visitors free of charge provided a credit citation is given and no money made from third parties.

The 2022 Bulgarian SF convention provides added heritage value.  The convention saw a number of western authors including: Peter Watts, Paul McAuley, Julie Novakova and Lavie Tidhar. Recordings of 16 of its panels (most in English with Bulgarian translation) are now available on the Bulgacon YouTube channel.

The 2023 Eastercon , Conversation in Birmingham saw considerable CoVID transmission.  UK masking policy has been very relaxed and so was this year's Eastercon's CoVID policy. Participants were asked to ensure that they were vaccinated though no NHS certificates were required. Mask-wearing was encouraged but compliance was not 100%.  A confounding factor was that there was a gaming convention, Insomnia, simultaneously taking place at the neighbouring National Exhibition Centre that saw some 40,000 attend. While many of these commuted in from Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton, Insomnia participants some were staying in the hotels including that used by the Eastercon. Insomnia's CoVID policy seemed lax to near non-existent and this undoubtedly contributed to CoVID's spread.
          The net result was that 24 hours after the end of the five-day event, over 70 tested positive for CoVID and a couple of weeks later the total had risen to over 90. Because of vaccination, few had serious symptoms and none as far as we know, were hospitalised.  Nonetheless, this will undoubtedly affect next year's Glasgow Worldcon's CoVID policy, though that event will be held at the end of the summer and not the end of winter, making CoVID transmission and incidence lower.  ++++  A standalone review of the Conversation Eastercon is here.

The 2023 NASFic was held in Canada.  It took place at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg, Manitoba. It had getting on for a reasonable amount of science and the science (and vaguely science) related items included:   'The State of Data Privacy';   'Dinosaurs! We want more Dinosaurs!';   'Economics of generation starships';   'Prehistory of Robotics';   'The Science Discovery Thunderdome';   'The disappearance of Men';   'Fermi Paradox: Are we First?';   'Jurassic Park: Now LIVE!';   'Generative AI doesn’t care about your copyright';   'The Future of Telescopes';   'Palaeo-art';   'Deepfakes';   'Putting the Science in Science Fiction';   'Science Education';  'Current missions in our Solar System'.

Progress Report 2 – The rolling car crash that is the 2023 Worldcon in Chengdu continues.  Progress Report 2 for the forthcoming (next month, October) Worldcon was released late in July. Its 65 pages contained little news about the Worldcon but there was a lot of tourist information on Chengdu that fans could easily obtain elsewhere (and which was obviously culled from such sources). This in itself speaks volumes as to the Worldcon committee's preparedness (or lack thereof) and understanding (or lack thereof) of what information Worldcon fans expect at this (late) stage. Mind you, the pictures were colourful even if a whole page devoted to two pictures of a cup of coffee (and the single word 'coffee') was not that informative: most fans will already know what one looks like!  The visa section was useful though more information on the visa free transit option would have been helpful. And of course, what the PR did not say was that the venue itself has yet to have its construction and outfitting completed. The accommodation section revealed that all the hotels were roughly 5 to 7 kilometres (about 3 – 5 miles) away from the convention. It is hard to believe that this convention has a seasoned US Worldcon fan as a Co-Chair.  It is also hard to believe that it has been allowed to continue given it changed its dates (twice) and also its venue from that on which basis fans made their site selection vote.  And so it goes.

Others provide Hugo voters' packet.  With just one month to go before the Hugo voting deadline is reached, the Chengdu Worldcon had yet to post Best Fan Magazine, Best Fan Author and Best Dramatic Performance samples. Well, for the last, film trailers can be found on YouTube, but with the Best Fan Magazine and Best Fan Author short-listers others have stepped up to provide samples of their works.  Arthur Liu (“Heaven Dule”) posted a compilation of fan Hugo finalist packet material, as did Kehuan Guang Nian/SF Light Year.  Ersatz Culture also included samples.  Meanwhile, the Hugo short-listed Journey Planet has taken their own steps to remedy the Hugo Voter Packet’s failure to distribute their material

Some Hugo Award short-listed writers and fans are saying that they will avoid the forthcoming 2023 Worldcon in Chengdu, China.  Their concerns involve two of their Guests of Honour: one (Cixin Liu) supports China's policy against the Uyghur minority, and another (Sergey Lukyanenko) supports Putin and his invasion of Ukraine.
            One author, S. B. Divya, had a novelette, 'Two Hands, Wrapped in Gold', short-listed for a Hugo. Divya went as far to withdraw the work completely from the Hugo voting process.
            Samantha Mills, whose short story 'Rabbit Test' has been short-listed for a Hugo, has said she will neither attend the Awards ceremony nor attend the Chengdu Worldcon because of Lukyanenko and his support for Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
            Fellow Hugo short-listed short story writer John Wiswell concurs and will similarly not be attending.
            C. L. Polk, whose novella Even Though I Knew the End has been short-listed for a Hugo, said: "I rebuke Chengdu Worldcon for inviting Sergey Lukyanenko, a choice that is so terrible I can’t even make a bitter derisive joke about it. That’s a fu¢king horrifying choice from all angles and this person should not be honoured in this way. And I shouldn’t have to be horrified by even one GoH who supports fu¢king genocide, but actually there’s two, since Liu Cixin is also invited…". And, "There was no way I would attend or participate [the Chengdu Worldcon], and being on the ballot for the Hugo Awards doesn’t change my mind.".             Those holding these views seemingly contrast with that – those attending for Worldcon governance maintenance purposes aside –with those from outside China happy to attend this event. Remember, it is not just the GoHs, China has designs on Taiwan, some Japanese islands, reneged on its treaty-bound duty to maintain democracy in Hong Kong, and its Orwellian information control of its own citizens. All of which makes the Chengdu Worldcon organisers changing their event's venue and date (twice) on which they stood for the Worldcon site selection vote in 2021 (a symbolic raising of the finger to the Worldcon community of site voters) a mere trifle…
            The refusal by some Hugo-Award short-listed writers and fans to go to the Chengdu Worldcon comes despite the Worldcon offering both financial assistance and administrative help in obtaining a visa for Hugo Award short-listed writers.

The 2024 Worldcon in Glasgow releases its second Progress Report (PR).  Since PR1 was published, memberships have continued to come in at an astounding rate. So much so that the convention is now confident that Glasgow 2024 will match and probably exceed the attendance at the other recent European Worldcons held during this last decade (London in 2014, Helsinki in 2017 and Dublin in 2019). All these Worldcons suffered badly from overcrowding – especially Dublin – with many folk not able to get into programme items.  The organising committee are quite open and candid that there will be queues, and they are to be commended for that honesty and perception.
            PR2 also revealed that registration rates will increase by about 10% at the end of September (a couple of weeks after this seasonal news page is posted). Full Adult Memberships will rise from £190 to £210. (Supporting membership – which gets you Hugo voting rights and the Souvenir book – and Virtual memberships will be cheaper.)  There will be a final, pre-convention membership increase at the end of February (2024), and registration on the door will be higher still. So register early if you want to come, though do be cognisant of the potential programme crowding issues (which may well spill over into the bars in the evenings).
            The convention plans to publish its CoVID-19 policy at the end of February (2024). It may include mask-wearing in programme items.
            There is much information for art exhibitors and dealers. Which includes those dealers requiring electricity for their stand to estimate their energy requirements. (Here the PR confuses 'energy' with 'power' referring to 'wattage' but there you go...)
            The PR also contains: useful maps of the site and the locality, and notification that paid-for childcare will be offered.
            The programme is to start around noon on the first day of the convention (Thursday) and finish around 4pm on the final day of the convention (Monday). Its standard slots will be 1 hour long, with 30 minute gaps between slots. This last is because the programme venues will be spread out across different conference centre buildings.  Programme particpants will have to register and create an account with something called 'Planorama' (so tough if you are not particularly into digital or are uncomfortable with putting your details on yet another database and/or having to remember yet another password that also includes a number and a symbol from the Klingon alphabet).
            Finally, there is an interesting article on the 1979 and 1987 Worldcons in Brighton (which, as it happened, both SF² Concatenation's founding science editors attended). The 1979 event saw about 5,000 register with 3,114 physically attend (including, we might add, a dozen students from Hatfield PSIFA with the aforementioned SF² Concatenation editors).  The PR2 article does not have the space to mention that the 1987 Worldcon saw fans distracting Arkady and Boris Strugatsky brothers KGB minders so that the brothers could be whisked away to meet western authors. (What larks.) Nor does it mention that, compared to 21st century Worldcons (the excellent 2010 Melbourne Worldcon excepted), both these early British Worldcons had rather good film programmes.
            All in all, Glasgow 2024's Progress Report 2 reveals that the organisers are about where they need to be a year out from the event. Progress Report 3, in February (2024), should detail the aforementioned CoVID policy, importantly whether or not programme overcrowding issues have been addressed, and virtual attendance options/facilities. It would also be helpful to know whether or not the convention plans to provide any heritage value for future generations, such as providing YouTube videos of popular programme items as the 2017 Helsinki Worldcon did (which also helps if there is an overcrowding issue as those who cannot get into items will know that they can see them later). (Sadly, the Helsinki YouTube channel has deprecated: it really is about time Worldcon had a dedicated YouTube channel it can pass on to successors.)  If PR3 does not cover these aspects then that in itself will speak volumes to the Worldcon cognoscenti (for others it will be caveat emptor).  All this information will enable registrants decide whether or not to physically or virtually attend?  Meanwhile, this is an informative and useful Progress Report 2 that contrasts markedly with this year's Chengdu Worldcon PR2 above.

The 2024 Worldcon in Glasgow has delayed the virtual membership price rise to January (2024).  Annual SF Worldcon's are held in different countries and 2024's was voted to be in Glasgow.  You can buy one of three memberships:  Supporting that gets you the rights to vote for the Hugos and get the publications;  Attending: that gets you Supporting rights as well as the right to attend;  and Virtual (an electronic membership) that is cheaper than Attending and gives you the voting rights but also to attend on-line electronically (not in-person).  The other thing is that buying tickets closer in time to the event and they become more expensive. This is to encourage early registration that gives the convention liquid funds that enables it to pay for all the preparation.  However, while Supporting and Attending memberships have already seen the first of their price hikes, the next Virtual membership price hike has been held back until January (2024).  This is because by January the organisers will have worked out what online facilities and access to programme items and chat rooms etc they will know they can provide and so can tailor the Virtual membership price accordingly.

The 2024 Worldcon in Glasgow makes its one-year countdown announcement.  In it the convention reveals that so far over 3,000 members from 30 countries registered to date. They anticipate over 600 hours of programming and over 500 speakers planned for the five days of the convention. They also say that the five-day event is expected to inject over £5m (US$6.25m) into the local economy.  +++ Previous related news covered elsewhere on this site include:
  - Suggested special Hugo category for the 2024 Worldcon
  - Glasgow's first Progress Report is now out
  - Glasgow bid to host 2024 Worldcon won
  - Glasgow bid to host the 2024 Worldcon is unopposed
  - The 224 bid to host the Glasgow Worldcon is still on, but still no policy on avoiding overcrowding
  - Bid for Glasgow to host the 2024 Worldcon launched
  - Glasgow is the proposed venue for the 2024 UK bid
  - Liverpool no longer on the shortlist for UK's 2024 Worldcon bid – overcrowding an issue
  - Great Britain's bid for the 2024 Worldcon has three possible venues

The 2024 NASFic will be held in Buffalo, USA.  It won the site selection vote at this year's NASFic. Shortly after its Chair, Wayne Brown, released a staff list which is reportedly when two key and senior committee members first found out that they had been demoted. Apparently Marah Searle-Kovacevic will no longer be the convention's Vice-Chair. In addition to her conrunning experience, she is a resident of the Buffalo area.  Alex von Thorn has been demoted from Head of the Finance Division to 'Treasurer'. The latter position is purely clerical and does not have budget planning roles.

The 2025 Eurocon will be held in Mariehamn, Aland. It will be called be Archipelacon 2, 26 -29th June. GoHs: Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Mats Strandberg and Emmi Itaranta.

The 2025 Eurocon seems to be the first European-venued, international SF convention to tackle the issue of over-crowding.  The past decade has seen all the European-venued SF convention woefully overcrowded: the 2014 London Worldcon,  the 2017 Helsinki Worldcon   and the 2019 Dublin Worldcon, all saw overcrowding to the extent that many could not get into programme items. The Dublin Worldcon organisers at the very least should have learned from the London and Helsinki events before it. So, not surprisingly there was considerably outrage that spilled over onto social media (just a few examples here).  However, it seems that the 2025 Eurocon, Archipelacon 2, is sensibly trying to get ahead of the game.
          The convention is actively restricting the way it is selling membership and prioritising the Eurocon and European con-going fan community over boosting numbers with Finnish attendees who have not been to conventions before, and may well not again.  It is rationing the number and times it sells membership online, and selling membership in person at the five European-venued, national and international conventions taking place before their own 2025 Eurocon.  This seems to be a sensible move.
          We understand (but have not had it confirmed) that they are trying to keep the membership number down to 800. This happens to be the combined capacity of their two main halls plus a couple of hundred (people will spend some time in the bar, dealers hall etc). As said, the apparently small number of memberships being sold online is presumably to bias sales towards people that are local/Euro/and later Worldcon fans and who regularly attend such cons. However, restricting online and postal sales is disadvantageous to those who don't or can't easily physically get to these specific conventions and those who have to limit what they can attend. (Some might be able to afford the 2025 Eurocon but not any of the four specific conventions prior at which registrations will be sold.)

The 2025 Worldcon will be held in Seattle, USA  It was the only bid filed by the deadline for this year's site-selection vote, and the only one that will be on the official ballot.

And finally….

Future SF Worldcon bids and seated Worldcons currently running  with LGBT+ freedom percentage ( ) scores in bold, include for:-
          - Chengdu, China (seated Worldcon) 42%
          - Glasgow, Great Britain in 2024 (seated Worldcon) 82%
          - Brisbane, Australia in 2025 - Now 2028
          - Seattle, WA, USA in 2025 82%
          - 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%
          - Orlando in 2026, USA 82%
          - Nice, France in 2026 - Bid folded
          - Tel Aviv in 2027, Israel 74%
          - Brisbane, Australia in 2028 84% (but is so silent it might have died)
          - Kampala, Uganda in 2028 (all be there civil rights concerns*) 15%
          - Dublin in 2029, Republic of Ireland 74%
          - Texas in 2031, USA 54%
          The LGBT+ equality percentages come from File770 which in turn came from Tammy Coxon pointing out the equality rankings. We added the UK score that was not included in the original File770 August 2022 posting.
*Uganda has recently passed an Anti-HomoseΧuality Bill that can mean life imprisonment for those that identify as gay and in certain circumstances the death penalty. Apparently there is a lot of blackmail with criminals threatening to report people as gay unless they are paid. Individuals or institutions which support or fund LGBTQAI+ rights’ activities or organisations, or publish, broadcast and distribute pro-gay media material and literature, also face prosecution and imprisonment. Some are arguing that the bill is unnecessary as its elements are already enshrined in Ugandan law.

Future SF Eurocon bids currently running  include for:-
          - Aland, Finland (2025) (now a seated Eurocon)
          - Berlin, Germany (2026)
          - Libson, Portugal (2027)
          - 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 2023

Film News


Cineworld stays open despite debts and a failed sale attempt.  It has been a rollercoaster couple of years for the Cineworld cinema chain what with the 2020/1 CoVID spring and autumn/winter lockdowns and then a spring 2021 bounceback in anticipation of a slew of delayed blockbuster releases.  However it is currently in of £4 billion (US$5bn) worth of debt.
          Cineworld is a UK company with 128 locations in the British Isles (UK and Republic of Ireland) and 751 sites globally employing 28,000 people but many on a low wage.  It had filed for bankruptcy protection in the US where it owns the Regal cinema chain but it now looks like its debt re-structuring might work.
          Looking ahead, word has it that Cineworld might reduce the number of its cinemas and possibly introduce new services for the most ardent of film goers.

Films are being delayed due to the writers, and actors strike.  The US film and TV writers strike joined by the actors strike is seeing a number of 2023 releases pushed back to 2024.  Some films may even be cancelled! For example, the future of the Sony Spider-Man spin-off, El-Muerto is in doubt as the writer strike delay has resulted in cast schedule conflicts and also a tour conflict with its star, rapper Bad Bunny. (The film had originally been slated for a January 2024 release.)  Dune: Part 2 is also being delayed: it was due out in November but its release has been postponed to 2024, possibly mid-March.  A number of DC and Marvel superhero films are affected by the strike and it is likely that others will too as Hollywood executives are not taking the writers and actors concerns seriously...!
          Relatedly, Kraven The Hunter has been delayed from a 6th October 2023 release to 30th August 2024, though it is not known whether this is writers, and actors strike related.

Babylon 5: The Road Home , came out a few weeks ago in case you missed it.  Many of the original surviving cast members have returned: Bruce Boxleitner (Sheridan), Claudia Christian (Ivanova), Peter Jurasik (Londo), Bill Mumy (Lennier), Tracy Scoggins (Lochley), and Patricia Tallman (telepath Lyta Alexander). New voice actors are playing Delenn, G’Kar, security chief Garibaldi, Dr. Franklin, Zathras, and the original Babylon 5 commander Jeffrey Sinclair.  The film will stream from Apple TV and Vudu in the US and over here in Britain you can see it on YouTube and order the DVD on Amazon.  1080p Blu-ray DVDs are available.  You can see the trailer here.  ++++ And don't forget, there's TV re-boot series theoretically in the works.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, in under just two weeks, made more than its predecessor in its entirety.  Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (trailer here) has surpassed the entire box office run of its predecessor, 2018’s Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (trailer here). In under two weeks the comic book sequel hit US$226 million (£184m) in North America and US$390 million(£317m) globally. It now stands as Sony’s highest-grossing animated release in history. The original film, also a box office winner, tapped out with US$190 (£154.5m) in North America and US$384 million (£312.2m) globally.

The Flash bombs its debut, but is it that bad?  Domestically (US) it took US$9.7 million or £12.125 million (as reported in Deadline) which does not compare favourably with Across The SpiderVerse US$17.3 million (£13.8 million) or Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 US$17.5 million (£14 million).  By the end of its opening weekend The Flash only made US$55.1 million (£44 million) at the domestic box office and globally brought that total up to US$130.1 million (£105 million).  With a production budget of US$200 million (£160 million) and an advertising budget of at least US$65 million (£52 million), The Flash must make around US$265 million (£212 million) to US$400 million (£320 million) at the global box office to break even.
          So things look bad, but are they?  Less than week later by 19th June, 47,000 voting at IMDB gave the film a score of 7.3/10 – the rule of thumb is that a score of over 7 suggests an above-average film. Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer gave it just 66%, but its audience score was much better with over 2,500 giving it a mean score of 85%.

Putin does not want you to see the new Russian urban fantasy, Empire V.  The Russian government has refused to release its distribution permit, effectively banning the film. The film is based on the novel (2006) of the same name by the acclaimed speculative fiction author Victor Pelevin.  Set in the present day, it concerns a 19-year-old Muscovite, Roman Aleksandrovich Shtorkin, who is turned into a vampire, propelling him into an elite and powerful echelon of society (the Fifth Empire) that has controlled humanity since time immemorial. Humans, 'plebs', are controlled by the vampires using two techniques of mind control – 'glamour' (that makes people feel inferior) and 'discourse' (that limits people's thinking).  The vampirism in the film is therefore different to that of Hammer/Hollywood lore and the 'glamour' and 'discourse' are a small part of what is going on.  Nonetheless. the film's underlying message is very plainly that Russia's ruling elite are vampires preying on Russian citizens.  This film's message is one that the Putin government does not like and – evidently – will not tolerate as it has refused it a distribution permit: it had been due to be screened at 1,800 cinemas early last year (2022) distributed by Sony. Instead, it premiered at the Fantasia International Film Festival in July (2023).
          Trivia: Consider the Roman numeral 'V', in Empire V as the letter 'V' and put it in front of 'Empire' and you get 'Vempire'. As it happens, in Russian that means 'vampire'.
          That this film is one the Putin government does not want you to watch is possibly exactly the best reason for you to seek it out, blog about it etc.  You can see the trailer here.

James Cameron pauses writing new Terminator film so as to see how current Artificial Intelligence concerns pan out!  James Cameron has reportedly begun work on a return to his once-iconic Terminator franchise, but is waiting to see how real-world tech develops.  Apparently, he began the writing process on the next film some three months ago, but paused because he wants to see how artificial intelligence plays out in the real world before he finishes.  However, there are copyright issues with the Terminator franchise as these do not rest with Cameron who is apparently seeking copyright reversion to himself.  Also Terminator: Dark Fate had an estimated cost of US$185,000,000 (£150m) but took a while to get a Worldwide gross of around US$262m (£213m).

James Cameron delays the release of Avatar 3, Avatar 4 and Avatar 5.  The success of Avatar: The Way of Water has assured that there will be follow-ups, however their putative release dates have all been pushed back.  Avatar 3, previously set for release in 2024, has been pushed back a year to 19th December 2025 even though almost all the shooting has been completed (though of course these films have plenty of special effects to add in). Meanwhile Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 are being delayed, as well – Avatar 4 moves from 2026 to 21st December 2029 and Avatar 5 shifts from 2028 to 19th December 2031.

Avengers 5, or Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, is to be delayed.  It was to be released in May 2025 but now is expected in May 2026. The film is based on the Kang Dynasty 16 part comic series (2001/2. The story features Kang the Conqueror, a warlord from the 30th century, and one of the Avengers’ oldest and deadliest foes, arriving in the early 21st century with his son Marcus intent on conquering the planet. Although Kang is temporarily successful.

Marvel seems to settling the lawsuits from character creators it is reported.  Back in 2021, Marvel filed a series of lawsuits in response to copyright termination notices from Larry Lieber and the estates of Gene Colan, Steve Ditko, Don Heck and Don Rico.  US Copyright Law gives authors or their heirs the ability to essentially claw back copyrights after a certain period of time.  It does not cover works made for hire: this has been Marvel’s primary argument in these matters.  Comic character involved, among many, include: Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch.  Marvel has apparently reached deals that resolve four of the fights but not that with Steve Ditko’s estate.

White Lantern Films and SMC Speciality Finance loses £803,000 (US$1m) suit in SF film dispute .  Actress Eva Green sued the film production companies when she was not paid her contracted fee when the SF film she was working on collapsed.  The production companies counter sued alleging she pulled out of the making of A Patriot, which collapsed in 2019, and breached her contract. The Judge ruled in her favour, saying she was entitled to the fee, and dismissed the counterclaim. He said: “In particular, I find that Ms Green did not renounce her obligations under the artist agreement; nor did she commit any repudiatory breaches of it.”  previously Eva Green has appeared in James Bond Casino Royale (2006), Proxima (2019) and Dark Shadows (2012).

The Exorcist re-boot gets November release date in time for Halloween.  Actually, as we reported 20 months ago this is more a continuation of the original trilogy than a re-boot of the 1973 original.  The Exorcist: Believer will come out on 13th October 2023, just in time for Halloween.  The film concerns two young girls who go missing and, when discovered, exhibit worrying behaviours befitting of possession. Their parents finally reach out to Chris MacNeil for help, since her daughter was possessed in the past and she has experience with exorcisms. The character Chris MacNeil from the original series of films will again be played by Ellen Burstyn. However The Exorcist: Believer has little connection to the other Exorcist films.  The new film is part of a deal between Universal Pictures and Peacock, so in the US it will end up streaming on Peacock after its cinematic run.  An advance clip can be seen here.

Leprechaun to be re-booted.  The 1993 film is being re-booted by Lionsgate. The original film sees the supernatural leprechaun (Warwick Davis) seeking vengeance against a family he believes has stolen his pot of gold… It was followed up by a 1994 sequel. Then in 2014 we got the prequel Leprechaun: Origins and in 2018, Leprechaun Returns. Both these did not do that well at the box office.

Star Trek 4 up in the air again.  We last reported on Star Trek 4 over a year ago saying that it had been delayed to December 2023.  However the film's director, Matt Shakman, last year left the film to direct the Fantastic Four third, or fourth depending whether you count the terrible shelved film, re-boot.  Paramount's Brian Robbins has reportedly confirmed that the film is still on event thought it is no longer on Paramount's release list.  Apparently Paramount did have a screen story that was time travel related, but this is only the word on the street.  Also unknown is whether they will recast Pavel Chekov following Anton Yelchin's tragic death in 2016.

Stargate and Robocop to get re-boots following Amazon acquiring MGM franchises.  Amazon is considering both film and television projects for Stargate, “with a movie likely going first.” Note, this does not mean that a new Stargate series as been “announced” or “confirmed”.  Amazon purchased MGM for US$8.45 billion (£7bn) in 2022, in part for its existing film and television library but also to make new content with MGM’s IP – intellectual property like Stargate, Rocky, Creed, James Bond, Robocop, Vikings, Legally Blonde, among others. The 'among others' is also important. For example, Amazon now owns the IP rights for 2001: A Space Odyssey.  And in case you need (or even want) reminding here is the Stargate (1994) film trailer.

It looks like Star Wars: Rogue Squadron will not now be developed.  This should come as no surprise given last season's news of it being dropped from the LucasFilm forthcoming film list.  The reason may well be that recent Star Wars films have not performed as well as expected in the box office: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) took half as much as The Force Awakens (2015). The production cancellation has not been confirmed, but things don't look good for it.

Drag Me to Hell 2 is in the works.  The sequel to director Sam Raimi's 2009 supernatural horror hit. The original Drag Me to Hell was directed and co-written by Sam Raimi, starring Alison Lohman as Christine Brown, a young woman with a loving boyfriend (Justin Long) and a great job at a Los Angeles bank. But her life becomes hellish when, in an effort to impress her boss, she denies an old woman's request for an extension on her home loan. In retaliation, the old woman places a curse on Christine, threatening her soul with eternal damnation. Christine seeks a psychic's help to break the curse, but the price to save her soul may be more than she can pay…  Sam (Spider Man and The Evil dead trilogy) Raimi' is said to be involved with the possible follow-up.  You can see the original's trailer here.

Blade re-boot sees Mahershala Ali and Mia Goth star.  Mahershala Ali takes the lead as the vampire killer and it is being directed by Yann (Lovecraft Country) Demange.  It will be the final film in Phase Five of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and is said to be darker than most MCU films.  It is currently slated for a September 2024 release.

Liv Tyler is returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) for the new Captain America film.  She originally appeared opposite Edward Norton in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk as Bruce Banner’s girlfriend, scientist Betty Ross.  She will reprise this role in Captain America: New World Order.  Other cast members include Harrison Ford, Shira Haas, Tim Blake Nelson, Danny Ramirez and Carl Lumbly.  The Incredible Hulk (2008) trailer is here.

Superman: Legacy sees production commence.  Further to last season's initial news, we now know that James Gunn is behind the Warner Brothers film. Reportedly it will see Superman’s journey to reconcile his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing as Clark Kent of Smallville, Kansas. He is the embodiment of truth, justice and the American way, guided by human kindness in a world that sees kindness as old-fashioned.  Also, as James Gunn is rebooting Superman for the big screen with a younger Man of Steel, it means previous Superman actor Henry Cavill will no longer be playing the role.

Logan's Run remake sees production commence.  First off, it should be noted that a Logan's Run remake has been attempted for the past 30 years, the first just a decade or so after the original film (that was way too soon). Anyway, now one is really coming.  The new Logan’s Run is expected to be a gender-swapped remake of the pulp sci-fi classic. In the future, there is a society where people are killed at the age of 30, and those who run, known as "Runners", are followed by professional trackers known as "Sandmen". Logan, one of the best Sandmen, decides to run soon before her 30th birthday in order to find refuge from society before being killed off.  It is based on the 1967 novel written by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson.  It was adapted into a film in 1976 directed by Michael Anderson (trailer here) and a year later a 14 episode television series (trailer here).  The 1976 film won a Special Academy Award for its visual effects (that seem very dated today) and six Saturn Awards, including Best Science Fiction Film. The film made US$25 million (£20.5m) at the box office on a budget of approximately US$8 million (£6.6m).

Beetlejuice 2 is still on with director Tim Burton and Michael Keaton!  Now, some of you may view this news with scepticism, after all it was nearly a decade ago that we Tim Burton was keen to have a sequel.  The 1988 original story follows a recently deceased ghost couple as they try to scare away a dysfunctional family from becoming the new residents their old own home.  If the Warner Brothers sequel is on – and Jenna (Wednesday) Ortega is to co-star with Keaton. She will play the daughter of Winona Ryder’s character, Lydia Deetz (one of the family who moved into the house haunted by its previous, recently deceased, owners). Lydia is the only one who can see the ghosts of Barbara and Adam Maitland and Beetlejuice. The big news is that Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder reprise their roles as Beetlejuice and Lydia Deetz, respectively.  Filming is apparently taking place in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, just down the road from SF² Concatenation co-founding editor Graham.  We might at the earliest see a late 2024 (possibly around Halloween) release – September has been mooted.  You can see the 1988 original's trailer here, which, it has to be said, now looks a tad dated...

Silent Hill 2 is coming with the original's director, Christophe Gans.  Silent Hill (2006) is getting a follow-up Return to Silent Hill. The news is teased by the director and producer in this video.  You can see the original's trailer here.

Fountain of Youth is coming from director Dexter Fletcher and Skydance.  The collaboration were behind the recent rom-com GhostedFountain of Youth is being written by James Vanderbilt. The film concerns a fountain where anybody who drinks from it will live forever…  Dexter Fletcher was behind Elton John musical biopic Rocketman (2019), starring Taron Egerton, and the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Meanwhile Vanderbilt’s writing credits include Zodiac, The Amazing Spider-Man, Murder Mystery and Scream.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold is coming from director Andy Muschietti.  Andy Muschietti, the director of It: Chapter 2, directed The Flash (2023).  Batman: The Brave and the Bold is based on Grant Morrison’s comic book series, which sees Bruce Wayne and his son, Damian, fight the evils of Gotham as Batman and Robin.

Stephen King's novella 'The Life of Chuck' is to be a film.  The novella appeared in the collection If It Bleeds (2020) – novella trailer here.  It portrays the life of Chuck (Charles Krantz) in reverse order beginning with Chuck dying in hospital aged 39 of a brain tumour and outside there is a billboard saying ’39 Great Years! Thanks, Chuck’ as the world appears to be in decay. In the film's final act with a young Chuck there is a plot device that brings it around to the beginning of the story…  Apparently Tom ( Thor and Avengers films and the Loki TV series) Hiddleston and Mark (Star Wars) Hamill are set to star and Mike Flanagan to direct as well as script. Flanagan is known for helming The Haunting of Hill House (2018 min series), Midnight Mass (2021 miniseries) and the film Doctor Sleep (2019). The latter starred Ewan McGregor and was a follow-up to The Shining (1980) Kubrick film that was another King adaptation. The script was adapted prior to the Writers Guild of America strike.

The forthcoming horror Heretic to star Hugh Grant.  Heretic's screen story comes from Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, who co-wrote the original script for A Quiet Place. The film focuses on two young women of faith who are lured into a cat-and-mouse game in the home of an eccentric man played by Hugh Grant.

Deadpool 3 is coming.  Morena Baccarin and Stefan Kapicic are set to reprise their roles as Vanessa and Colossus, respectively, and Karan Soni and Leslie Uggams are returning as Dopinder and Blind Al.  Brianna Hildebrand reprises her role from the first two films as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, the mutant cohort of 'Deadpool', Ryan Reynolds’ Merc with a Mouth, with the ability to generate nuclear explosions.  Shioli Kutsuna also returns as Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s girlfriend Yukio, a Japanese mutant ninja introduced in Deadpool 2.  Reportedly, Deadpool 3 will also see Hugh Jackman in his Wolverine character!  Other Deadpool veterans returning f include Karan Soni, Leslie Uggams, Morena Baccarin, Stefan Kapicic and Rob Delaney, who respectively portray Deadpool’s cab driver sidekick Dopinder, his roommate Blind Al, his fiancée Vanessa (who was killed and then revived in the sequel), the metallic mutant Colossus and human X-Force member Peter.  Shawn Levy is directing.  It is currently slated for a release on the 8th November 2024.

Deadpool 3 – after two decades – is to have Jennifer Garner return as Elektra .  She first played the Marvel Comics' assassin in 20th Century Fox’s hugely under-rated Daredevil (2003). She reprised the role starring in Elektra in 2005.  When she first played Elektra, Jennifer Garner was in the middle of her starring role as secret agent Sydney Bristow in ABC’s successful thriller Alias, which ran over 105 episodes from 2001 to 2006. Her recent films include the 2021 Netflix Yes Day and a opposite Ryan Reynolds in the SF adventure The Adam Project, which Deadpool 3 director Shawn Levy also directed.

Venom 3 continues with the same creative team as the first two films.  Tom Hardy will star and Kelly Marcel will direct: they also wrote and produced the first two films but this is Marcel's feature film directing debut.  Chiwetel Ejiofor has joined the cast, as has Juno Temple.  Ejiofor is perhaps best known for playing Karl Mordo in the Doctor Strange series, and received an Oscar nomination in 2014 for his lead role in 12 Years a Slave.  As a reminder here is the trailer for Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage (2021).

Weapons, which is being billed as a multi-storey horror epic, is coming.  It is to be the next offering starring Pedro (The Last of US) Pascal.  Apparently it is a follow-up to Barbarian and will be directed by Zach Cregger.  Barbarian, it is said, had a budget of just US$4.5 million (£3.5m) but earned its makers ten times that. So expect Hollywood to like Weapons and give it a decent promotional budget. We can expect it at the end of 2024 or early 2025.

The latest Superman will be David Corenswet for James Gunn's Superman Legacy.  Apparently the film will feature a number of DC characters including: Green Lantern, Metamorpho, Hawkgirl and Mister Terrific.  Though it is not due out until July 2025, Warner Brothers and DC seem to want to really big it up with a teaser just out two years in advance!  You can see the teaser trailer here.

Two Narnia films are to come to Netflix from Barbie director.  The director, Greta Gerwig, of the blockbuster summer success, Warner Brothers Barbie, is reportedly to direct two C. S. Lewis Narnia films for Netflix. Previously, three Narnia films were released between 2005 and 2010: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Alita: Battle Angel sequels are apparently in the works.  The success of the 2019 original seems to have encouraged producers James Cameron and Jon Landau to back director Robert Rodriguez with sequels to the film starring Rosa Salazar as an amnesiac robot. The original is said to have had a budget of US$170 million (£136m) but took a global box office gross of US$405 million (£324m). So, as net box office is usually very roughly half of gross, it made a few score million profit not counting additional streaming and television airing rights.  You can see the original's trailer here.

Dreamquil, artificial intelligence thriller film, is coming.  It is set in the not so distant future when poor air quality has meant people mostly live their lives virtually from home and Artificial Intelligence has become more prevalent. Carol is a dissatisfied career mother, who despite being very much in love with her husband Gary, is struggling to find real connection within her marriage and kids, where the day to day familiarity of their home is claustrophobic. Worried she could be heading towards divorce, Carol leaps at the chance to get her life back on track by signing up for Dreamquil’s avant-garde A.I.-led mental wellness retreat. Gary, left to take care of their two sons, is thankfully delivered “Carol-Too”, an identical mechanical clone of his wife. However things take a sinister turn for Carol upon her homecoming. Refreshed and ready to dive back into family life, her robotic and more perfect substitute doesn’t leave and Carol-Too will stop at nothing until the real Carol is eliminated…  Carol is to be played by Elizabeth Banks and Gary by John C. Reilly.

The Assessment, an SF drama is coming.  Elizabeth Olsen (formerly Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch) and Alicia Vikander will play a couple living in a dystopic, climate-change riven future. It will be directed by the French filmmaker Fleur Fortuné. The synopsis reveals that the film concerns part of society having created a parallel world for itself. Life is controlled and optimised, and the desire to have children is also not left to chance. The lives of a successful young couple are therefore put under close scrutiny by a female assessor over the course of seven days…

The Return of the Living Dead to have a re-boot.  Not to be confused with the original Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dan O'Banon was to make his directorial debut with a parody, The Return of the Living Dead (1985). The re-boot comedy horror will be directed by Steve Wolsh.  You can see the 1985 film trailer here.

Tron Ares will be the third Tron film.  Cameron Monaghan and Jared Leto are set to star in this Disney offering. Joachim Ronning (Kon-Tiki) is to direct. The Tron film series launched with the 1982 original starring Jeff Bridges as video game creator Kevin Flynn who gets sucked into his computer game. There was a sequel, Tron: Legacy (2010).

And finally…

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

Film trailer: An Alien: Romulus teaser trailer is now out.  This film is the latest in the Alien franchise that is set to be directed by Fede Álvarez and will be released by 20th Century Studios on Hulu in N. America.  You can see the teaser trailer here.

Film trailer: Fear The Invisible Man trailer out.  H. G. Wells' classic 1897 novel, The Invisible Man, has been re-made as Fear The Invisible Man. It is an interesting take on the original with a gender-swapped co-star with the widow of the Invisible Man's friend providing sanctuary while he terrorises the area. The widow's back story is fleshed out and it is hinted that the Invisible Man back in his college days might have been a potential rival for the now-widow's affections.  There is a nod to 1993 James Whale film (trailer here) with the protagonist wearing Claude Rains' costume.  This new British film, very much tries to keep to the spirit of Wells' novel.  You can see the trailer here.

Film trailer: The Last Boy on Earth trailer.  Futuristic science fantasy horror.  Blade Runner with monsters, spaceships and an apocalypse…  In a distant future, an enigmatic boy becomes the central figure in the search for a new hope. Who is this kid? Why is everyone looking for it? Sometimes it is better not to know certain answers.  You can see the trailer here.

Film trailer: Dune: Part 2 trailer out.  Yes, it is coming in two months time in November (2023).  You can see the trailer here.

Film trailer: New Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire trailer out.  A sequel to Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), it is the fifth film in Legendary Pictures' MonsterVerse, the 38th film in the Godzilla franchise, and the 13th film in the King Kong franchise.  It is currently to be released on 15th March 2024.   You can see the trailer here.

Spoof film trailer: The Whimsical Fellowship spoof trailer, in the style of Wes Anderson, now online.  Embark on a fantastical journey to Middle-Earth re-imagined through the eccentric and charming lens of Wes Anderson in The Whimsical Fellowship.  This delightful fan-made (using artificial intelligence) trailer offers a fresh and whimsical take on the classic Lord of the Rings saga, blending Wes (Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel) Anderson's signature visual style with J. R. R. Tolkien's epic narrative.  You can see the trailer here.

Short film: Stalled short film !  This thriller, horror, time travel short really messes with your head, like all good time travel tales should.  A man goes to a public restroom -- and gets trapped in a time paradox.  You can see the 19-minute Stalled here.

Short film: The Crowd -- This short film came first place in the 2022 Sci-Fi London 48 Hour Film Challenge.  You can see the four and a half minute film here.

Short film!: Digital Core -- This short film came second place in the 2022 Sci-Fi London 48 Hour Film Challenge.  You can see the 5 minute film here.

Short film: Handmade -- This short film came third place in the 2022 Sci-Fi London 48 Hour Film Challenge.  You can see the 5 minute film here.

Short video: Birmingham flash mob – Let's Do The Time Warp Again…  Rocky Horror flash mob at Birmingham rail station.  (You will not get this at Moscow rail station…)  You can see the three-and-a-half minute video here.

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

For a reminder of the top films in 2022 (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 2023

Television News


Doctor Who regeneration into David Tennant voted by public as the TV moment of 2022.  The one category of the Edinburgh TV Awards voted for by the public is the 'TV Moment of the Year' category. The scene was the one that saw Jodie Whittaker regenerate into David Tennant – from the episode 'The Power of the Doctor'.

Max, the new streaming service – In case you hadn't heard.  Shortly after we posted last season's news, HBO Max (which only launched in 2020) and Discovery+ have merged into one streaming service in the US called Max run by Warner Brothers.  Subscribers can still opt to Discovery+ as a standalone service.  US residents found that the prices are the same as were for HBO Max, but there is a new subscription tier. There will be a cheaper ad-supported plan ad-free and a more expensive "Ultimate Ad-Free" which has UHD. HBO Max subscribers' profiles, settings, watch history, "Continue Watching," and "My List" items also migrates to Max so US subscribers can pick up streaming right where they left off.  The arguable issue with streaming is that the marketplace is so crowded what with Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, Hulu, Peacock, Paramount+, Apple TV+, and others all competing in the US. Alas Max is not available in the UK due to copyright licensing issues, but it can be subscribed to and accessed via the internet using a VPN. The copyright licensing issues may end when the current arrangement concludes in 2024. WarnerMedia confirmed that HBO Max would not launch in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy before 2025.

Netflix continues to gain subscribers following clampdown. Netflix has clamped down on subscribers sharing passwords (a subscription allows a certain number of TV sets to log in to the streaming service) with other households. It had been thought that the clampdown might see fewer subscribers. Further, though early 202 saw subscription loss (over a million) by the end of the year Netflix bounced back. By the end of June (2023) Netflix had more than 238 million subscribers, adding 5.9 million members since March.

Paramount Global has posted a 2023 1st quarter loss of US$1.12 billion (£918m).  On learning this news Paramount Global shares value reportedly fell by around 25%.  However, the companies streaming arms include Paramount+ and Pluto TV saw revenues increase 39% to US$1.5 billion (£1.23bn).  Paramount+ added 4.1 million to the number of its subscribers globally giving them a total of 60 million.  However, this is still only a quarter of the over 230 million each that Netflix and Disney enjoy.  Pluto TV has 80 million subscribers.
          The thing is that Paramount own Star Trek and despite the success of the final season of Picard (after, it must be said, week first two seasons) there is uncertainty as to what Paramount will do with the franchise?  One option may be for them to licence it out to the highest bidder… We will see.

Blackadder 40th anniversary has been celebrated by Royal Mail stamps.  It was first broadcast on 15th June 1983.  OK, so it is not SF/F but is – if you have a cunning plan and a large turnip – arguably sort of genre adjacent. The series' producer John Lloyd said: "In the words of General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett, VC KCB: 'Let's give them a damn good licking!'"

Television and film writers strike in the US impacts genre series.  Periodically the Writers Guild of America renegotiates the contract between TV writers and the companies that make programmes. However this round necessitates greater changes given the rise of streaming platforms that sideline writers repeat show royalties and which have shorter seasons.  Another concern is the rise of text producing artificial intelligence like ChatGPT. The concern is not that ChatGPT will replace writers, but that ChatGPT will be used to produce rough draft scripts which writers will then be employed at a lower rate to refine.  About half of the Guild's writers are on the minimum wage and pay rates have declined in real terms by 14% since 2018.  The Guild's demands are likely to cost around US$429 million (£338m) per year but the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers countered with an initial offer of a US$86 million (£67.7m) increase.
          There was therefore a Writers Guild of America strike that began 2nd May (2023) with picket lines created the next day.  Many companies affected included: Netflix, Disney, Apple, NBC Universal and CBS News' parent company, Paramount.  The strike's impact on genre shows included the season 2 shooting of the last two weeks of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power without its show-runners, J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay. So, if the show's makers wanted a last minute re-write, it could not happen. The series is currently being shot in the UK, so this strike has had its effects beyond the US.
          Currently shooting in Britain is George R. R. Martin's House of the Dragon. The scripts for this were complete prior to the strike and no re-writes are envisioned as there have already been exhaustive drafts and re-drafts.
          The final season of Stranger Things was delayed due to the strike: it was due to have started shooting early June. (Stranger Things season 4 trailer here.)
          Daredevil: Born Again and Penguin have both ceased production while the strike is on. Daredevil: Born Again is set for Disney+, while The Penguin is a Max show. Both are expected to debut in 2024.  Born Again is a semi-continuation of the Netflix show Daredevil, which ran from 2015 to 2018 on Netflix. Charlie Cox, who originated the role in the first Daredevil series, will reprise it for Born Again. The superhero has since been absorbed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and made appearances in the film Spider-Man: No Way Home and the series She-Hulk: Attorney at LawThe Penguin is a spinoff from Matt Reeves’ 2022 film The Batman, in which Colin Farrell played the iconic villain. He will be returning to the prosthetics-heavy role for the criminal underworld series. .
          In August Warner Brothers opined that the strike would end soon but added that it was saving 'hundreds of millions of dollars'. This was news it arguably needed to get out to share holders as it reportedly made about US$10.4 billion in revenue for the quarter, though it still lost US$1.2 billion!

Actors support the television writers strike in the US which in turn impacts the San Diego Comic-Con.  The 160,000 strong US union Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) joins the Writers Guild of America in seeking new actor protection given the new environment of streaming films and AI.  98% of voting members were in support of the strike.  Panels on Dune – Part 2, The Wheel of Time and Abbott Elementary were among other that have cut panels at the San Diego Comic-Con.
          The strike marks the first time that actors have initiated a labour dispute in the U.S. since the 1980 actors strike and the first time that actors and writers have walked out simultaneously since 1960.

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon has just had its launch.  In case you missed it, the latest The Walking Dead spin-off has just launched in N. America on AMC+, just a few days before we posted this seasonal news page.  Norman Reedus reprises his role as Daryl Dixon from the original, The Walking Dead, television series.  The series is having a short, six-episode, first season but it has already been renewed for a second season.  The first season trailer is here.

Echo launches shortly (November, 2023) on Disney+.  A first for Marvel Studios, all  episodes will be released at the same time: 29th November.  The series centres around Maya Lopez; the gang leader set on vengeance against Ronin in the Hawkeye series.  Also, Alaqua Cox reprises her role as Maya Lopez.  The series follows Echo’s origin story, as Maya’s ruthless behaviour in New York City catches up with her in her hometown…

Invincibles second season launches in November (2023).  The cartoon series follows 17-year-old Mark Grayson and his transformation into a superhero under the guidance of his father Omni-Man, the most powerful superhero on the planet. During his transformation, Mark finds himself struggling between his personal life and superhero duties.  The second season trailer is here.

It looks like the proposed Wild Cards series is not going to happen!  We first reported on this over-enthusiastically half a decade ago and then again four years ago with even a greater excess of positivity.  George R. R. Martin has reported that Peacock has passed on it. He will though try and place it elsewhere.

The Spiderwick Chronicles series is now not going to happen.  Only last season we reported that Disney+ were planning a The Spiderwick Chronicles TV series.  Well, despite the show having finished shooting six episodes, apparently it is not going to air!  The series had a cast that included: with a cast that includes Jack Dylan Grazer, Lyon Daniels, Noah Cottrell, Joy Bryant, Mychala Lee, and Christian Slater.  It was shot in Vancouver, Canada.  Apparently the economics of streaming just did not add up and so it seems to have made more sense to Disney to simply write it off against tax.  Having said all this, it looks like Paramount Television Studios and 20th Television were behind the actual making of the series and it may possibly be that they will try to find a new home for it elsewhere. So the economics behind all this is unclear (see the next but two item.

Nautilus series has finished filming… And then the show is cancelled.  It was going so well: it gained a show-runner and a cast with Shazad Latif starring as Captain Nemo, and then filming completed, but Disney+'s British 2,000 Leagues Under The Sea Jules Verne prequel has been suddenly cancelled. Disney says that it is working to find a new home for Nautilus. (See also the next but one item.

Willow series cancelled! No, it's not. Yes it is!  News emerged that the Disney+ sequel series to Ron Howard and George Lucas’s 1988 fantasy film Willow had been cancelled after one season.  Then came news that a second season has reportedly been drafted and that this might eventually air with a largely new cast of new characters. What is known is that the main cast has apparently been released from committing to the series.  So, is it on or is it off?  We can but wait and see.

Disney+ is cutting US$1.5 billion (£1.2bn). Apparently much of this can be written off against tax. Disney+ is not the only one that is financially re-structuring and cancelling shows before they are aired.  Paramount+ has axed Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone remake.  It is not easy to understand exactly what is going on, but it seems as if much of the growth in streaming service subscriptions has slowed, if not stopped, and there is competition between services. Much can be made from streamers' back catalogues as their production costs have already been made and streaming does not offer the repreat fees to the cast and production crew (hence one of the main reasons behind the Hollywood writers and artists strike).

Star Trek: Prodigy series cancelled.  The cancellation of Star Trek: Prodigy, the first animated kids show in the Star Trek universe, comes despite the show being renewed for a second season back in 2021.  It had aired on Nickelodeon in addition to Paramount+ in the US.  In Britain it aired on Sky. So far there has only been one season but a second season had been in the works with 10 episodes completed and the writing and animation of a further 10 nearly complete as we post this season's news page.  So, it looks like the 20-episode season 2 will surface but, if not on Paramount+ in N. America, where?
          Other news is that season two will see more elements from the four core Star Trek will appear in season 2.  You can see the

The Winchesters series cancelled.  This is a prequel series to SupernaturalThe Winchesters is set in the 1970s.  Dean Winchester narrates the story of how his parents, John Winchester and Mary Campbell, met, fell in love, and fought monsters together while in search of their missing fathers.  The series has been cancelled by the CW (which is under new ownership) after one season. Warner Brothers Television have failed to find it another home though they have tried having suspected CW's change in ownership might mean cancellation.  You can see the season one trailer here.

The Ark series gets renewed for a second season.  The series on the SyFy channel has been deemed a success reaching 6.5 million viewers across all platforms.  Set 100 years in the future, the show takes place aboard the Ark One, a space-faring vessel containing humanity’s last hope of survival. When an unforeseen catastrophe kills off a large chunk of the manifest, including the folks put in charge, the survivors must band together in an effort to keep the ship functioning and complete the mission of establishing an interstellar colony for their dying world.  You can see the season one trailer here.

Citadel series gets renewed for a second season.  The renewal came before the streaming of the final in the first, 6-episode season on Amazon Prime.  (With just six episodes it is worth getting the DVD.)  The futuristic spy series was created by Josh Appelbaum, Bryan Oh, and David Weil, with the Russo Brothers as producers.  With a production budget of US$300 million, (£236m) the six-episode first season is one of the most expensive television shows.  Joe Russo will direct all of the second season.  Season one trailer here.

Silo series gets renewed for a second season.  The series, based on Hugh Howey’s 'Wool' novel trilogy, concerns a dystopian future where a community exists in a giant underground silo comprising 144 levels. The ten episode first season aired this summer and those of us at SF² Concatenation who have seen it do rate it.  Season one trailer here.

Primal series gets renewed for a third season.  It is set within a prehistoric world where early man, dinosaurs, and other creatures co-exist. Genndy Tartakovsky will continue to helm the series.   Season two trailer here.

From has been renewed for a third season. The horror series seems to be on a roll having been renewed last year for a second season. The series has been the second-most watched series in MGM+ network history! It concerns a present-day small settlement that will not let go new arrivals and where death stalks outside at night. Season two ended with the arrival of a new coach-load of people. Viewers are hoping that the third season of 10 episodes will reveal what forces are behind the settlement's properties… The third season is currently slated to air in 2024.  You can see the season 1 trailer here and the season 2 trailer here.

Superman & Lois series gets renewed for a fourth season.  This is the CW's last remaining DC series and negotiations for a fourth season took a few months. The fourth season will have ten episodes.  Season three trailer here.

Warrior Nun series might be getting a third season.  It is not yet definite whether it will be a full season or just some tie-up episodes, but – according to show-helmer Simon Barry – there is more Warrior Nun to come, though whether or not it will remain on Neflix remains to be seen.  You can see the season one trailer here and the season two trailer here.

The Power of the Rings season 2 will not air until next year (2024).  As we reported at the beginning of the year, shooting on season 2 has already long begun but is not thought likely to complete this year. When Amazon bought the television rights to Tolkien’s works in 2017, it made a five-season production commitment worth at least US$1bn (£825,000) and it is likely to keep to this given that season one has been so successful: the first episode had 25 million viewers within 24 hours of its release and so was Prime Video’s biggest ever premiere.  The eight episode season 1 had a 23-strong regular cast. Joining for season 2 are Ciarán Hinds, Rory Kinnear and Tanya Moodie.  You can see the season 1 trailer here.

3 Body Problem series to launch in 2024.  Based on the series of novels, the first being The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, the eight-episode drama, which early in the summer wrapped production, will launch in January 2024.  Trailer here.

Daredevil: Born Again TV series is coming from Disney+.  The character has appeared in a number of recent Marvel TV series and Charlie Cox reprises his role as Matt Murdock / Daredevil.  It will have an 18 episode first season forthcoming (early 2024). A second season is apparently planned.  Clark (Evil, The Wire) Johnson is also on the cast in a recurring role, and apparently he will direct two episodes!  (There was a much maligned Daredevil film a couple of decades ago whose only real sin was that it featured the Spider Man villain Kingpin and not one of Daredevil's own foes.)  You can see the Daredevil: Born Again teaser trailer here.

Frankenstein miniseries to come directed by Guillermo del Toro.  The series is only inspired by the Mary Shelley Frankenstein novel (1818): he is not doing Mary Shelly's Frankenstein – he is doing an adventure story that involves the creature.  Apparently the creature's look will be based in part on the illustrations in the 1983 edition of Shelley’s novel and realised by Bernie Wrightson, Swamp Thing co-creator.  Guillermo del Toro has been long wanting to do a Frankenstein mini-series and now, courtesy of Netflix, he can.  It is thought the series will be four hours long.  Del Toro is known for Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy II: The Golden Army and The Shape of Water.

Alien television series gets one of its lead stars, Sydney Chandler.  Sydney Chandler is know for Don't Worry Darling.  Alas, Sigourney Weaver will not be back.  The Alien series we reported back in 2021, with original director Ridley Scott also working on the show.  It's the first story that takes place in the Alien franchise on Earth. So, it takes place on our planet. Right near the end of this century we're in – so 70-odd years from now.  You may remember we've mused about what this might mean last year.  +++ Separate to this, don't forget that there's also an Alien film currently in production.

Blade Runner 2099 may see Jodie Comer as one of the stars.  She recently appeared in director Ridely Scott's production The Last Duel (2021). She also appeared in Free Guy (2021). We have previously reported that the series has been green lit and Ridley Scott is an executive producer. He will also be directing some of the episodes.  The series builds on the original Blade Runner film (1982) which in turn was based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968) and its sequel Blade Runner 2049 (2017) that was directed by Denis Villeneuve.  You can see the original 1982 film's trailer here and the trailer for Blade Runner 2049 (2017) here.

Harry Potter TV series coming, and J. K. Rowling is executive-producing. (Never saw that coming.)  The new (Potter film-makers Warner Brothers') Max (formerly HBO Max and Discovery+) is to stream it. It will become a decade long venture based on all seven of Rowling's books, one book per season of the show. And (obviously because of aging) there's a new cast.  J. K. Rowling will executive produce the series alongside Neil Blair and Ruth Kenley-Letts. Because it is on Max in the US, it can only be accessed in Europe through a VPN. This restriction may change after 2024.

New The Day of the Triffids TV series is coming from Amazon.  Yes, another adaptation of John Wyndham's classic novel The Day of the Triffids (1951).  Johan (Chernobyl) Renick is to direct and executive produce.  The novel has already had three BBC radio adaptations and an awful 1962 feature starring Howard Keel (trailer here).  Additionally, there have been two BBC TV mini-series, a fair one in 1981 (trailer here) most recently in 2009 (trailer here and comet-blinding scene here). The latter had better effects and a modern re-vamp, but took some liberties with the book.

New horror series coming to star Kevin Bacon.  The Bondsman is centred on Hub Halloran (Kevin Bacon), a backwoods bounty hunter who comes back from the dead with an unexpected second chance at life, and love, and a nearly-forgotten musical career, only to find that his old job now has a demonic new twist…  It will air on Amazon Prime Video.

The X-Files is being re-booted .  Ryan Coogler is behind the re-boot and apparently with a diverse cast.  The original show's home was Fox but as Fox and 20th TV are no longer part of the same company following Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox it is not known on what network or platform the new series will air. The original show aired 1993-2001 with two seasons in 2016 and 2018.  Coogler is arguably best known for writing and directing the two Black Panther films for Marvel.

Lady Danger comic series to become a TV animated series.  Nicki Minaj will executive produce and star in Lady Danger, a new animated series from Amazon Freevee based on the Dark Horse comic book series of the same name written by Alex de Campi.  The series isset in the year 2075 and follows a government field agent who is left for dead by her team after discovering a dangerous secret, only to be resurrected as Lady Danger, an afrofuturistic arse-kicking Agent of B.O.O.T.I (Bureau of Organized Terrorism Intervention), who must conceal her true identity while she fights villains who are destroying the Earth and its vulnerable inhabitants…

Star Trek: Section 31 is given the go ahead by Paramount+.  Michelle Yeoh will reprise her role as Emperor Philippa Georgiou, whom she first played in the first season of Star Trek: Discovery.  In Section 31, Emperor Philippa Georgiou joins a secret division of Starfleet tasked with protecting the United Federation of Planets, but her mission will also force her to face the sins of her past….  And as a reminder, here is the season one trailer for Star Trek: Discovery.

The Conjuring film to become a TV series.  Set in the world of James Wan's horror franchise, The Conjuring series will be released on Warner Bros. Discovery's Max. Apparently The Conjuring 1 & 2 director James Wan is in talks to return as executive producer on the project. There is a forthcoming Conjuring 4 film coming in 2024/5 and depending on how this film links with the series is likely to affect the series launch date.  The series concerns Ed and Lorraine Warren who are paranormal investigators…  Meanwhile, here is the trailer for The Conjuring (2013) film.

Matt Haig's novel How to Stop Time is to be a series.  The 2017 novel concerns a secret society of immortals, the Albatross Society.  The immortals have been persecuted across time. Their immortality is a rare condition and they are doomed to see their families and loved ones succumb to the ravages of time while they live on.  The Albatross Society has a few rules. On of the main ones is not to fall in love.  Seemingly 41-year old Tom Hazard has just moved back to London to take a job as a high school history teacher. However he was He was actually born in 1581 in France and has lived history alongside famous historical characters such as Shakespeare, Captain Cook, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  However, when Tom develops feelings for someone, he has to make some difficult choices.
          The six-part television series is set to star Benedict Cumberbatch as Tom Hazard.  Tomas Alfredson, who directed Cumberbatch in 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, is slated to helm the series.  StudioCanal and Cumberbatch’s Sunnymarch production company will produce the series, which will shoot in London and Europe in 2024.

Twilight novels (and then films) possibly to become a TV series.  Set in the world of Stephenie Meyer’s book series, and Twilight series might – if talks go well – be released via Lionsgate Television.  The original film franchise, which began in 2008 and made stars of Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, has so far collectively grossed more than £2.78 billion (US$3.4 billion) worldwide.  The last in the original series was Breaking Dawn: Part 2.  The original Twilight films recently moved their streaming to NBC Universal’s Peacock after a period at Netflix.  Author Stephenie Meyer is also said to be involved in the proposed television series.  You can see the original Twilight (2008) film trailer here.

Sam Delany's novel, Nova is to be a television series helmed by Neil Gaiman.  Nova (1968) is set in the year 3172 when the political power in the Galaxy is split between two factions: the older Earth-based Draco and the historically younger Pleiades Federation. Both have interests in the even newer Outer Colonies, where mines produce trace amounts of the prized power source Illyrion, the superheavy material essential to starship travel and terraforming planets. Caught in a feud between aristocratic and economically powerful families, a scarred and obsessed captain from the Pleiades, Lorq Von Ray, recruits a disparate crew of misfits…  The novel was short-listed for the Hugo Award.  Amazon Prime is behind the production.

Another Game of Thrones prequel is coming to HBO.  A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight (the series' current working title) is based on George R. R. Martin's Dunk and Egg books (the three novellas have been published – The Hedge Knight (1998), The Sworn Sword (2003), and The Mystery Knight (2010)) that were collected and published together in the best-selling A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.  The story follows "Dunk" (the future Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Duncan the Tall) and "Egg" (the future king Aegon V Targaryen), and takes place around 90 years before the original Game of Thrones series.

Beast Boy: Lone Wolf, a new animated series, is in the works.  DC Comics character based, it is being made by London's Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe.  It will follow Beast Boy, a main character in, the now ten years of, Teen Titans Go!, though the new series is said to be more action-oriented than the wackier Teen Titans Go!  'Beast Boy' is a good-natured joker who can transform into various animals and a member of the Teen Titans whose principal character is Robin (the otherwise side-kick to Batman).

Space Nation is to be a new franchise that will cover a TV series, online compter game and animated shorts.  One of the leading lights behind the venture is Roland Emmerich, director of The Day After Tomorrow, 2021, Independence Day and Moonfall.  The franchise will begin as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), where players assume the roles of ship captains, embarking on an epic journey to unravel the mysteries of the Telikos Cluster and immerse themselves in the unfolding grand space opera. The game is set in a universe inhabited by alien species and driven by three main factions with distinct ideologies and goals.  It is hoped that the game will have a commercial launch in the second quarter of 2024. It will be followed by a TV series, animated shorts and spinoff games. It looks like Hollywood and the computer gaming world companies are seeking synergies to gain and hold a new format cross-over market. Previously some computer games have been adapted into films, but this seems to be a purposeful cross-partnership.

Galaxy Quest is being considered for a television series… Again!  If you have a sense of déjà vous then it is because we reported something similar back in 2015.  The original 1999 film garnered a Hugo starred Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell and Daryl Mitchell who were actors of a formerly successful, but long since cancelled, TV series (think Star Trek) that has become a cult classic. However aliens have picked up the show's broadcasts and, thinking the programme is real, seek out the cast at an SF convention to aid their defence from another alien race…  Paramount Television Studios is now apparently reconsidering making the fictional TV series in the film into an actual television series…  You can see the original film's trailer here.

Squid Game might get a US re-make series.  The original South Korean series was a huge hit for Netflix in 2021.  David Fincher is reported to be slated to direct. He was the director of Alien 3 (1992), Seven (1995), The Game (1997), Fight Club (1999), Panic Room (2002), Zodiac (2007), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), and Gone Girl (2014).  However there has arguably been something of a fan social media backlash with fans saying that a US re-make was unnecessary and that Netflix was just making a cash grab. So we have to wait to see whether or not this venture will proceed.

Shadow and Bone might get a spin-off series, Six of Crows.  Don't act all surprised. Leigh Bardugo's original novel (2015) was part of a duology.  Shadow and Bone series showrunner, Eric Heisserer, says he has plans for a spin-off series though it has yet to be green-lit by Netflix and much depends on Shadow's season 2 viewing figures.  You can see the Shadow and Bone season 2 trailer here

A GATTACA series is being considered.  The GATTACA (1997) film may possibly become a television series.  Homeland co-creators/executive producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa are behind the move that has yet to be green lit.  Reportedly, the proposed series is set a generation after the events of the film, when science and humanity have evolved to the point where we can direct our own evolution. Genetic engineering has created a world in which parents can determine the future of their children before they are born (the Valids), which by default has created a new underclass, no longer determined by social status or the colour of one’s skin (the Invalids). Like the film, the series focuses on a man with a congenital heart condition who tries to assume the identity of a former athlete with perfect genes in order to fulfil his dream of travelling in space.  The 1997 original film was written and directed by Andrew Niccol. It starred Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman.  You can see the original film's trailer here.


And finally, a TV related vid…

The Penguin teaser trailer out.  Forthcoming (2024) The Penguin mini-series will explore the Penguin's rise to power in Gotham City's criminal underworld.  It will be streaming on Max.  You can see the teaser trailer 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 2023

Publishing & Book Trade News


Heavy Metal has closed, and now it looks like closed for good!  Heavy Metal was an American science fiction and fantasy comics magazine, published between 1977 and 2023 that saw a 1981 Heavy Metal film. Another animated feature film, Heavy Metal 2000, was released in 2000.  The comic magazine began in 1977 as a as a licensed translation of the French science-fantasy magazine Métal Hurlant [Howling Metal]. It was noted for its high standard of artwork and occasionally quality storylines.  Amid cash flow problems it temporarily shut down in December 2022. However, in July 2023, after one issue published with the auction platform Whatnot, it was announced that the publisher had decided to cancel the magazine and that issue #320 had been the final issue.  The current television series Love, Death & Robots is a quasi spin-off from the magazine, and that recently has been renewed for a fourth season.

The Internet Archive is subject to a second copyright court case.  Last year publishers in the USA took the Internet Archive to court over its digitising books and then lending the e-books out. Earlier this year the judge ruled that the Internet Archive had infringed publishers' copyright.  This new case, again in the USA, comes from record companies including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Capitol. This concerns the Internet Archives “Great 78 Project”. The 78 revolutions per-minute records were mostly made from shellac – beetle resin – and were the brittle predecessors to the LP (microgroove) era. The format is obsolete, and just picking them up can cause them to break apart in your hands. There’s no way to predict if the digital versions of these 78s will outlast the physical items, so the Internet Archive has preserved both to ensure the survival of these cultural materials for future generations to study and enjoy… At least that's their pitch.
          Meanwhile the record company lists in their case 2,749 pre-1972 musical works available via Internet Archive by late artists, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Chuck Berry, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and Bing Crosby, among others. The Internet Archive, the record companies opine, has violated copyright laws. By “transferring copies of those files to members of the public, Internet Archive has reproduced and distributed without authorization Plaintiffs’ protected sound recordings.”
          Finally, expect further detail to emerge regarding the book publishers case as both the Internet Archive and publishers seek clarification as to which works the Judge considers copyright has been infringed. The Internet Archive argues that if publishers are not selling an e-book edition, then the Archive in lending an e-book of that edition is not impacting on sales as there are no e-book sales on which to impact. Conversely, the publishers counter that it is up to publishers and their authors to decide if an e-book should be available by the Archive.
          Expect more news on both cases.

New science fiction imprint launched: Second Sky.  The new imprint is based in Britain and is digital only. However, being digital, sales can be made on both sides of the Pond. The imprint is part of the publisher Bookouture which itself is part of the publishing conglomerate Hachette UK. (Hachette UK includes traditional – paper and digital – genre imprints Gollancz and Jo Fletcher Books among others.) Bookouture itself was only founded in 2012 by a former marketing controller for Harlequin/Mills & Boon. Apparently in 2019 it sold nine million books more than half of them in the United States.  Being new, Second Sky is currently accepting manuscripts direct from would-be authors without an agent (though they do accept submissions from agents too).  It is early days, but their initial tranche of books seem to be fantasy and fantasy romance but they are also seeking SF. Their terms in royalties are generous (a good proportion of publisher receipts) and they pay quarterly, but on the other hand they offer no advances. Their business model seems to be one of low costs (no physical production or distribution) combined with limited commitment (some editorial and cover design but no advances).  There is likely to be a place in the market for such a low-to-mid list, digital-only publisher. However, talent that sells well, and which warrants paper publishing, will migrate to more traditional publishers. So, it will be interesting to see if Second Sky forms any partnership with other more established genre publishers within the Hachette UK umbrella.

New imprint aims to bring back out-of-print titles.  The US publisher Open Road has launched the Re-Discovery Lit imprint. It debuts with some 200 titles with genre authors including: Clifford D. Simak, Roger Angell and Alan Dean Foster.  The books will be published as e-books and as such it seems to be a sort of US version of Gollancz's SF Gateway but including non-genre titles. They aim to release about 200 titles a year. Meanwhile Gollancz's SF Gateway does not seem to be as proactive as it used to be. The word is that this may be due to the way its IT is managed by a third party.

Sheila Gilbert, the editor at the DAW science fiction imprint in the US, has retired.  She started going to SF conventions in 1963.  She began at Ace Books in 1970, then moved to Signet/NAL in 1972, where she ran the Signet science fiction line. In 1985, Sheila joined DAW Books.  For many years she shared the roles of Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of DAW Books with Betsy Wollheim. Ultimately she became DAW's Executive Vice President, and Co-Owner and Co-Publisher with Betsy Wollheim. Sheila was short-listed for a Hugo seven times and won the Long Form Editor Hugo in 2016 and 2018.

Tor staff change.  Tor is Pan Macmillan's leading imprint for science fiction and fantasy.  Sophie Robinson has become editorial director at Tor UK having moved from Titan Books. It is hoped that Tor will have a more strategic publishing partnership with its sister US imprint.  Lydia Gittins has also moved to Tor from Titan to become Tor's publicity manager. Tor's publicity has for the past few years been sourced out.  Bella Pagan joined Tor (part of Pan Macmillan publishers) in 2011 having previously been an editor at Orbit (part of Little Brown publishers in the Hachette group) in 2011. She was promoted to Editorial Director last year.  Bella is credited with being pivotal in Tor (UK) more than doubling its turnover in just four years.  This is no mean feat given a backdrop of UK fiction sales growing modestly, by just 7% in 2021, while things were worse in western Europe with a few nations publishing sector experiencing a slump, though Britain did see above-inflation, 16% growth in fiction sales in 2020.  Despite British fiction publishing's positives Tor's recent growth has been remarkable.  The two new recruits to the Tor team are part of a growth strategy for the imprint.  Other Pan Macmillan imprints do occasionally publish SF (such as Picador and, more so in the past, Pan itself) but Tor is the publishing house's leading genre imprint focussing on SF/F, so this is considerable news for British published SF/F.
          It should be noted that earlier this year Tor (US) also saw team promotions and it will be interesting to see how collaborative efforts pan out.  One thing we at SF² Concatenation would like to see is for publishing imprints that operate on both sides of the Pond give both US$ and £ prices in their catalogues and on back covers.  Yes, respective imprints market and sell in their respective countries, but key SF community websites (as well as ours should anyone consider us vaguely key) have regular visitors from both sides of the Atlantic.  Knowing this, for some years now, if  we are told US$ and Can$ prices then we include them in our news pages' forthcoming SF/F and non-fic book lists (see below for this season's) as well as our standalone book reviews.  Just saying.

Tor (US) faces criticism following using Artificial Intelligence to generate a book cover.  The criticism based on its cover of Christopher Paolini’s Fractal Noise that appears to include AI generated graphics.  Tor (US) said: "Tor Books designed the cover for Fractal Noise by Christopher Paolini. During the process of creating this cover, we licensed an image from a reputable stock house. We were not aware that the image may have been created by AI. Our in-house designer used the licensed image to create the cover, which was presented to Christopher for approval. Due to production constraints, we have decided to move ahead with our current cover. Tor Publishing Group has championed creators in the SFF community since our founding and will continue to do so."  The problem is that stock art companies are now stocking up on AI created artwork so removing the need to pay artists. Some authors are understandably firmly against publishers using AI including Tor's John Scalzi.

Bloomsbury faces criticism following using Artificial Intelligence to generate a book cover.  The criticism based on its cover of Sara J. Maas’s House of Earth and Blood. AI was used to generate a picture supplied by the stock art company Adobe Stock.  Bloomsbury said: "Bloomsbury’s in-house design team created the UK paperback cover of House of Earth and Blood, and as part of this process we incorporated an image from a photo library that we were unaware was AI when we licensed it. The final cover was fully designed by our in-house team."

The Authors' Guild in the US is providing model clauses on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for publishers to put in their authors' contracts.  In addition to the recent clause preventing the use of books in training generative AI without an author’s express permission, the new clauses require an author’s written consent for their publisher to use AI-generated book translations, audiobook narration, or cover art. These clauses can benefit publishers and the publishing industry at large by maintaining the high quality craftsmanship that consumers are used to.  The Authors Guild also urges publishers to identify any books that contain a significant amount of AI-generated text. Further, the Guild advises Authors to disclose to Publisher if any AI-generated text is included in the submitted manuscript, and may not include more than [5%] AI-generated text.

Author's Guild authors have written an open letter to the Chief Execs of OpenAI, Alphabet, Meta, Stability AI and IBM to obtain consent, credit, and fairly compensate writers for the use of copyrighted materials in training AI.  Margaret Atwood, Philip Pullman Michael Chabon, Carmen Machado, Joe Hill, Edward M. Lerner, Brendan DuBois, Terri Windling, Matthew Kressel, Sean Wallace, Cecilia Tan, and 8,000 other writers have signed a petition calling for artificial intelligence companies to stop using writers’ work without consent or credit.  Maya Shanbhag Lang, president of the Authors Guild, said: “The output of AI will always be derivative in nature. AI regurgitates what it takes in, which is the work of human writers. It’s only fair that authors be compensated for having ‘fed’ AI and continuing to inform its evolution.

Author Alan Dean Foster has lent his weight to the Authors Guild strike and sides with the actors.  He said: " The great majority of performers who make any kind of reasonable living do so because of their residuals. Yes, my dispute with Disney involved royalties (author’s residuals, if you will). // But the current issues are much greater. A good example is the use of CGI to allow the producers of the remake of Willy Wonka to cast Hugh Grant as an Oompa-Loompa, thus shutting out all true Little People from casting. If such continues, every one of them will be out of work. // It’s one thing to use CGI to resurrect a deceased actor to reprise a role, quite another to replace an actor with CGI. This will only get worse as the technology gets better. Actors know this, and it is something they are fighting against.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) has released guidelines on the use of artificial intelligence (AI).  This looks like it is going to be a work in progress but here are the headline four guidelines: 1) Creators must be compensated for the use of their work;  2) Creators’ contributions to a work must be credited (and this includes creators whose work is used in AI training);  3) Creators’ privacy must be protected, especially for unpublished work (which includes material posted on online forums including SFWA for a);  4) Writing and publishing genre fiction is a business with important norms (which means that SFWA members should check publishers AI policies before they submit their work).  The general advice seems to be for writers to avoid using AI for creative purposes.

Fan fiction writers hallucinate artificial intelligence (A.I.).  Star Wars and Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan fiction writer Kit Loffstadt is one of a number of fan fiction writers now writing behind a readers access wall to prevent data scrapping to train A.I.s. Further, she, along with dozens of other fan fiction writers, have published a flood of irreverent stories online to overwhelm and confuse the data-collection services that feed writers’ work into A.I. technology.

Japan seems to allow Artificial Intelligence (AI) training to violate copyright.  It looks like Japan is exempting AI training from copyright law even if the AI's output is to be used for commercial purposes. Apparently some seem to think that this might be because Japan does not want to see any impediment to the development of its nascent AI industry. If this is so, it could impact on how the G& formulates (or fails to) international rules on AI.

Britain's Society of Authors has slammed the misrepresentation of bad reviews as good ones. One of the titles that prompted their concern was the Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson’s book Beyond OrderThe Times columnist James Marriott had a snippet taken from his highly critical review that appears to endorse the book. Not only that, but the snippet itself was a misquote of the review.  Meanwhile, Johanna Thomas-Corr, literary editor of The Sunday Times also had a snippet taken out of her review that misrepresented her opinion. She hated the book saying: “Beyond Order is an awful, mad book – you shouldn’t buy it.”  Nicola Solomon, chief executive of the Society of Authors, said that: “quoting lines out of context isn’t clever marketing”, calling the practice “morally questionable”. Readers and authors “deserve honest, fair marketing from publishers. We can’t get that by undermining and misrepresenting one writer to boost the sales of another. It puts off reviewers from reviewing and readers from buying.”

The US copyright depository may no longer provide a complete national archive of the nation's publications depending on the outcome of a courty case.  Valancourt Books is a small, US publishing house run by a couple from their home. It specialises in old out-of-print gothic horror and gay books. Sometimes these books are re-typed from microfiche records and then published with added notes.  However, the publishers have not been providing the US Copyright Office with two copies of each book they publish. Earlier this year, the US Copyright Office asked for two copies of the 240 books Valancourt has so far published. However Valancourt provides only print-on-demand books and so would have to specially print most of the titles and this would cost them thousands of dollars. Conversely, the Copyright Office said that failure to comply would result in a fine of US$250 per book, plus the book’s retail price, with a further possible US$2,500 fine.  Represented by the Institute for Justice, Valancourt has filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing that the Copyright Office’s demand violates the publisher’s right to free speech and its right to “just compensation” for taken property.
          There are two issue at stake here discounting copyright registration: copyright registration in the US is decidedly outdated given that digital publications are copyrightable and that in 1988 the US had to modify its copyright practices to align with the international Berne Convention on copyright. The two issues are: 1.) the right for a US citizen for fair compensation for any goods the US government takes (a Fifth Amendment right), and 2.) the US as a nation wishing to maintain a complete national archive of print publications. With regards to the latter, last year the Copyright Office gave the Library of Congress (which maintains the national archive as does the British Library in the UK) over US$40.8 million worth of print publications.  The outcome of this case will have significant implications for this archive.

Brave New World and Animal Farm have in the past been removed from some school library shelves in the US and some are still banning them today.  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley was challenged as required reading in the Corona-Norco Unified School District in 1993 because it is “centred around negative activity.” The novel also was removed from a high school library in Foley, Alabama, in 2000 after a parent complained that it showed contempt for religion, marriage and family. It is one of the 15 most banned books in US schools today.  Another of 15 most banned books is Animal Farm by George Orwell. It was originally banned one of dozens of books banned in schools in Bay County, Florida. Then 44 parents, students and teachers filed a federal lawsuit, and the school board reversed the decision. ‘’The only thing we have succeeded in doing is making sure every child in Bay County reads the books we banned,’’ a board member told the Associated Press.  This news follows last season's on Florida's teachers removing books from libraries.

Arkansas's new law requiring librarians and booksellers not to give children books deemed “harmful” is unconstitutional says Judge in an interim ruling.  The new law, Act 372, would force librarians and booksellers to make an impossible choice: remove books that some might deem offensive to young readers from their shelves; create secure, adult-only spaces for those books; ban minors from their facilities altogether; or expose librarians and booksellers to criminal charges or fines. The judge ruled that Act 372 was in violation of the right to free speech under the First Amendment. He agreed with the plaintiffs that the state’s definition of “harmful” materials was overly vague and so difficult to implement.

Tolkien's estate and Amazon are being sued by a Tolkien fan-fiction author for US$250 million (£2.06m).  Demetrious Polychron wrote a book, a work of fan-fic set in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, The Fellowship of the King, which he copyrighted in 2017 but does not seem to have published until 2022 (after the series The Rings of Power was shot and began to air) and made available for sale, including on Amazon. The claim is that some of this fan-fic was used for a reasonable part of the Amazon series The Rings of Power. Apparently, Polychron claims to have approached the Tolkien Estate for permission but received no reply. That the fan-fic draws heavily on the original works will no doubt be a key feature in the court case. (See also below.)

Tolkien's estate is counter-suing Demetrious Polychron.  Further to the Tolkien Estate being sued (see above), the Estate is now counter suing Demetrious Polychron for, it is claimed, The Fellowship of the King being a wilful and blatant violation of Tolkien copyright.

Criminals have been generating artificial intelligence (AI) written books attributing them to established authors and then selling them on Amazon.  Author Jane Friedman complained to Amazon that five books written by AI on their website were falsely attributing her as the author. It is presumed that criminals wanted to use the author's established reputation to garner sales which they would then pocket. Jane Friedman reports that Amazon were slow to remove these false books and only did so after she began a social media campaign. Her concern is that this could happen to other authors and that Amazon must have a procedure in place to promptly remove false, AI written product.  Apparently, Jane Friedman is reported as saying, Amazon initially refused to take down the fake books because she had not trademarked her name!  Jane has also understandable railed against Good Reads that had had a number of AI-generated books on its site attributed to her. Good Reads cleaned their site hours after Jane contacted them: Amazon did not citing the need for her name to be trade-marked.

Lydia Davies will not be having her latest book sold on Amazon.  The 2013 Man Booker International Prize winner does not “believe corporations should have as much control over our lives as they do”.  Her Our Strangers will be published by Canongate in October (2023).
          ++++ Related Amazon stories previously covered elsewhere on this site include:
  - Amazon has stopped selling Kindle magazine and newspaper subscriptions (Summer 2023)
  - Amazon to lay off 10,000 jobs (Spring 2023)
  - Amazon's worker monitoring criticised by UK all-party Select Committee
  - Cory Doctorow explains that he will not let his books appear on Amazon Audible
  - 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
  - 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.

Manga sales in the US grow.  Manga sales hit US$550 million (£450m) in 2021 and increased by 9% in 2022.

Two Ukrainian writers are unable to tolerate Russian dissidents, despite the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  Ukrainian writers Artem Chapeye and Artem Chekh threatened to withdraw from Pen America's World Voices festival in New York if Russian writers were involved in any way, and some were for another panel. But the Russian writers that were slated to participate on the other panel were dissidents opposed to Putin's regime. As a consequence of Artem Chapeye and Artem Chekh threats Pen America cancelled the Russian dissident panel at the World Voices Festival; a move that was itself controversial given Pen America's commitment to 'protect free expression'.  This was not lost on Pen America's Vice-President, the writer Masha Gessen who promptly resigned.  Masha Gessen is a prominent Russian-American writer who has documented Russia’s decline into authoritarianism. But Artem Chapeye and Artem Chekh seem to be of the view that it is wrong to focus on Russians as 'victims of tyranny'. Artem Chapeye and Artem Chekh are also Ukrainian soldiers. Artem Chapeye is reported as saying that he could not make distinctions between “good” Russians and “bad” Russians.  And so what could have been a useful and informative panel, especially at this difficult time, will not take place and also there is now a question mark over Pen America's mission to 'stand at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression'.

Sergei Lukyanenko has been appointed by Putin to Russia's Civic Chamber.  Russia's Civic Chamber acts as a kind of second house, or the British equivalent to the House of Lords, scrutinising proposed legislation and providing governmental oversight.  Sergei Lukyanenko is one of Russia's top SF/F authors most noted for his 'Watch' fantastical horror series of novels. He is also noted for his support of Putin's war against Ukraine and organised a petition to this effect. He is also Guest of Honour at this year's Worldcon in Chengdu, China. Last year, we at SF² Concatenation called for Lukyanenko to be dis-invited and last year's Worldcon business meeting did pass a motion to this effect. (Which, of course, the Chengdu Worldcon ignored but then its other Guest of Honour, Cixin Liu, is on record as being in support of China's human rights violating Uyghur policy, so that convention has anti-human rights form.)  Sergey Lukyanenko is reported as saying that he will use his new position to encourage patriotic books justifying Russia's war against Ukraine.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) SF Library has now had its books moved.  Earlier in the year burst water pipe flooded the library. MIT has paid to have the books removed and for them to be assessed for water and mould damage.


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

It's all the YouTube channel Media Death Cult this season…

Tales From The Zone - Roadside Picnic.  Media Death Cult's Moid Moidelhoff considers Roadside Picnic. Roadside Picnic is in the Goldilocks zone, it is a perfect balance of a straight narrative that requires nothing more than standard plot and characters to make sense. But the sub-text is as thick as porridge…  You can see the 6-minute video here.

SF's origins are explored by Media Death Cult's Moid Moidelhoff with a trip to Mary Shelly's grave and Woking's Martian tripod.  You can see the 7-minute video here.

SF's Golden Age is explored by Media Death Cult's Moid Moidelhoff.  The rise of the classic pulp magazines and the big three – Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein – before moving on to Wyndham.  He ends with the interest in dystopias, autocratic dictatorships and mutually assured destruction.  Could Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, dumbed-down world ever come about?  In part, shot on location at the Jodrell Bank radio telescope and an English village that could be Midwich…  You can see the 8-minute video here.

SF's modern era is explored by Media Death Cult's Moid Moidelhoff.  The rise of the new wave with Moorcock and then in the US with Ellison.  And we also got Dick and cyberpunk before cyberpunk and Gibson.  Could we be about to embark on the most exciting period of science fiction?  You can see the 7-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 2023

Forthcoming SF Books


Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View – Return of the Jedi edited by Anon, Del Rey, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-90762-9.
On May 25, 1983, Star Wars cemented its legacy as the greatest movie franchise of all time with the release of Return of the Jedi. In honour of the fortieth anniversary, forty storytellers recreate an iconic scene from Return of the Jedi through the eyes of a supporting character, from heroes and villains to droids and creatures. From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi features contributions by bestselling authors and trendsetting artists: Olivie Blake provides a chilling glimpse into the mind of Emperor Palpatine.  Saladin Ahmed recounts the tragic history of the rancor trainer.   Charlie Jane Anders explores the life and times of the Sarlacc.   Fran Wilde reveals Mon Mothma’s secret mission to save the Rebel Alliance.   Mary Kenney chronicles Wicket the Ewok’s quest for one quiet day on the forest moon of Endor.  Anakin Skywalker becomes one with the Force in a tale by Mike Chen.

Creation Node by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-22896-2.
In 2255, twenty-year-old Salma was the first person to see the object called Planet Nine. On the edges of the solar system, far from any help or information, her small ship and its small crew were expecting to find… something. A miniature black hole, perhaps. An unusual dwarf star. Something was there.  What they found was life.  How will humanity reach it before important decisions have already been made?  And who should take responsibility for the most important moment in history?

Minecraft: The Village by Max Brooks, Del Rey, £12.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-13512-1.
Be immersed in the Minecraft universe once again in another exciting adventure!  The next thrilling Minecraft novel from Max Brooks follows the stranded heroes from Minecraft: The Mountain as they fight to get back home and end up encountering a mysterious group in the wilderness.

Light Bringer by Pierce Brown, Hodderscape, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-64681-0.
The Reaper is a legend, more myth than man: the saviour of worlds, the leader of the Rising, the breaker of chains. But the Reaper is also Darrow, born of the red soil of Mars: a husband, a father, a friend. The worlds once needed the Reaper. But now they need Darrow. Because after the dark age will come a new age: of light, of victory, of hope.

Star Wars: Inquisitor – Rise of the Red Blade by Delilah S. Dawson, Del Rey, £22, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-90764-3.
When the Jedi Order falls, the Inquisitors rise.  From the aftermath of Order 66 comes a new group of former Jedi, each with their own reason to serve the Empire under Darth Vader. Among them is Iskat, who survived the destruction of her old Order to claim a new destiny in the Force. Iskat joins the Inquisitors in the hope of uncovering her hidden past that the Jedi refused to share with her.

A Fire Born of Exile by Aliette de Bodard, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-61306-4.
The Scattered Pearls Belt is a string of habitats under military rule and corruption, where the powerful are comfortable in their positions. But change is coming with the arrival of the mysterious and enigmatic Quynh.  To Minh, Quynh represents escape. To An, Quynh has a mysterious link to her past… and holds a deeper, more sensual appeal.  Quynh has her own secrets, and a plan for the Belt’s rulers. One that will tear open old wounds and may well consume her.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, Oxford University Press, £6.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-198-86575-9.
This is the series of short stories that made the fortunes of The Strand Magazine, in which they were first published, and won immense popularity for Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. The detective is at the height of his powers and the volume is full of famous cases, including ‘The Red-Headed League’, ‘The Blue Carbuncle’, and ‘The Speckled Band’.

His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle, Flame Tree Press, £8.99 / Can$15.99 / US$11.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17562-0.
Sherlock Holmes SF? Well, he is genre-adjacent using logic, science to deduce the solving of crimes.

The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle, Oxford University Press, £6.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-198-86212-3.
Sherlock Holmes SF? Well, he is genre-adjacent using logic, science to deduce the solving of crimes. The Sign of the Four has been a crucial part of the Sherlock Holmes canon since its first publication in 1890. It explores theft, betrayal, and murder in the larger context of the British Empire at a time of national upheaval, and the novel’s flashbacks to India during the ‘Mutiny’ and its aftermath call into question the consequences of that imperial venture. Caroline Reitz’s new introduction and notes draws attention to some often-overlooked context of the story, such as its original publication in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, its representation of imperial violence, and changing gender roles.

The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle, Flame Tree Press, £8.99 / Can$15.99 / US$11.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17561-3.
Sherlock Holmes SF? Well, he is genre-adjacent using logic, science to deduce the solving of crimes. The Sign of the Four has been a crucial part of the Sherlock Holmes canon since its first publication in 1890. It explores theft, betrayal, and murder in the larger context of the British Empire at a time of national upheaval, and the novel’s flashbacks to India during the ‘Mutiny’ and its aftermath call into question the consequences of that imperial venture.

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle, Flame Tree Press, £8.99 / Can$15.99 / US$11.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17559-0.
Sherlock Holmes SF? Well, he is genre-adjacent using logic, science to deduce the solving of crimes.

The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle, Flame Tree Press, £8.99 / Can$15.99 / US$11.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17560-6.
Sherlock Holmes SF? Well, he is genre-adjacent using logic, science to deduce the solving of crimes.

The Land Lost Things by John Connolly, Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-152-939180-0.
Twice upon a time - for that is how some stories should continue…  Phoebe, an eight-year-old girl, lies comatose following a car accident. She is a body without a spirit, a stolen child. Ceres, her mother, can only sit by her bedside and read aloud to Phoebe the fairy stories she loves in the hope they might summon her back to this world. But it is hard to keep faith, so very hard.  Now an old house on the hospital grounds, a property connected to a book written by a vanished author, is calling to Ceres. Something wants her to enter, and to journey - to a land coloured by the memories of Ceres's childhood, and the folklore beloved of her father, to a land of witches and dryads, giants and mandrakes; to a land where old enemies are watching, and waiting…

Mindbreaker by Kate Dylan, Hodderscape, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-39327-9.
Born into a religious, anti-tech cult, Indra lives a simple existence on the fringe of society. But when an illicit trip to the city leaves her with a debilitating condition, Indra must make a choice: die, or accept the cure Glindell Technologies is offering. Soon Indra begins to suspect the worst about her new master and must uncover the truth behind the procedure that saved her life.

The Seventh Son by Sebastian Faulks, Hutchinson-Heinemann, £22 / Can$45.95, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-15320-0.
A child will be born who will change everything.  When a young woman named Talissa answers an advert to carry a child, she cannot begin to imagine the consequences.  Behind the doors of the Parn Institute, a billionaire entrepreneur plans to stretch the boundaries of ethics as never before. Through a series of IVF treatments, one they hope no one ever discovers, they set in motion an experiment that is set to upend the human race as we know it.  Seth, a baby, is delivered to hopeful parents Mary and Alaric, but when his differences start to mark him out from his peers, he begins to attract unwanted attention.  The Seventh Son is a examination of what it is to be human. Sweeping between New York, London and the Scottish Highlands, this is a novel about unrequited love and unearned power. It asks the question: just because you can do something, does it mean you should?

Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars by Phil Ford, BBC Books, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-785-94821-3.
November 21st 2059, and Bowie Base One - the first human colony on Mars - is destined for destruction in a nuclear explosion. This tragedy is a fixed point in history. The Laws of Time dictate that it cannot - must never - be changed. The Doctor arrives just as a viral life-form escapes from the Martian ice into the base's water supply. A single drop can transform a human into a terrifying monster with the power to infect others. History records that the threat is destroyed along with the base and every human in it. But as his darkest hour comes calling, the Doctor resolves to break the rules as he never has before...

Doctor Who: Warriors’ Gate and Beyond by Stephen Gallagher, BBC Books, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-785-94851-0.
In this new-to-print, expanded novelisation of the classic 1981 adventure, the TARDIS is caught in a collapsing void between two different universes - and the 4th Doctor, Romana and Adric must enter into a dangerous alliance with the Tharils - a race of enslaved, time-sensitive aliens. The consequences are explored in two further short stories...  'The Kairos Ring'.  Now allies of the enslaved across all creation, Romana and the Tharil Laszlo ride the time winds in search of the sinister Sluagh - aliens who retool the dead as deadly warriors.  'The Little Book of Fate'.  Searching for the source of a scream across time, the Eighth Doctor investigates a most unusual carnival freak show in the north of England - where a figure from his past awaits him.  Not one story but three, from one of classic Doctor Who's most original voices - Stephen Gallagher, author of the original screenplay for Warriors' Gate. Stephen Gallagher is a novelist, screenwriter and director specialising in suspense. Born in Salford, Lancashire, his original TV/ film mini-series credits include: Chimera, Chiller, Bugs, Oktober, Crusoe for NBC, Eleventh Hour and The Forgotten; he’s also written for long-term series including Doctor Who, Rosemary and Thyme and Silent Witness.

The Defector by Chris Hadfield, Quercus, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-42309-9.
This is the latest technothriller from the astronaut Chris Hadfield.  Israel, late 1973. As the Yom Kippur War flares into life, a state-of-the-art Soviet MIG fighter is racing at breakneck speed over the arid scrublands below… and promptly disappears.  NASA Flight Controller and former US Navy test pilot Kaz Zemeckis watches the scene from the ground – and is quickly pulled into a dizzying, high-stakes defection that plays out across three continents.  The prize is beyond value: the secrets of the Soviets’ mythical ‘Foxbat’ MiG-25, the fastest, highest-flying fighter plane in the world and the key to Cold War air supremacy. But every defection is double-edged with risk. Ultimately, Kaz must invite the fox into the henhouse – bringing the defector into the heart of the United States’ most secret test site…

Doctor Who: The Zygon Invasion by Peter Harkness, BBC Books, £9.99, pbk, 192pp, ISBN 978-1-785-94791-9 "We will die in the fire instead of living in chains."  For years, 20 million shape-changing Zygons have lived among us in secret. They wear human form, hiding in plain sight. Now a fanatical Zygon splinter group seek to expose their own kind and provoke a conflict that will force both sides to the brink of Armageddon to ensure their own survival. It took three Doctors to broker a fragile peace between Zygons and Humans. Now the 12th must face the fallout alone. With his allies compromised and his companion believed dead, can he stop the world from plunging into war?

Dune Messiah & Children of Dune by Frank Herbert, Gollancz, £30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-399-61118-3.
Books two and three of the international phenomenon that is Dune.  Paul Atreides has succeeded in his crusade against House Harkonnen and Emperor Shaddam IV, but his victory had profound consequences. War has been brought to the entire universe, and billions have perished.  His actions to bring about a lasting peace will echo across eternity. And the children of Dune will face problems unlike any that have come before.  The threats to the Empire’s stability have been long planned. The heirs to House Atreides will need every one of their unnatural abilities to avoid total disaster..

Immigrant Sci-Fi Short Stories edited by Sarah Rafael García, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17273-5.
Whether for reasons of economic choice, family, war, oppression or hope, this book examines displacement and relocation in future and fantastical settings, with the gaze of the incoming. Speculative stories by new and modern writers are placed alongside older immigrant narratives, providing an intriguing view of this theme. Sarah Rafael García is a writer, educator and performance ethnographer.

Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars by Sam Maggs, Penguin, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94440-0.
Set between the video games Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and the anticipated Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.  While Cal and his friends have survived run-ins with the Inquisitors before, how many times can they evade the Empire before their luck runs out?

Hellweg's Keep by Justin Holly, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58881-3.
Kendra Omen is on an off-world FBI mission, hoping to assuage the grief of losing a daughter and husband, but she learns that loss is unruly and not everyone, or everything, wants you to heal. Down in the depths of Hellweg’s Keep, she tries to find thirty-seven lost miners who vanished without a trace. Soon she’ll pray they don’t find her.

Cyberpunk 2077: No Coincidence by Rafal Kosik, Orbit, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-356-51819-0.
Welcome to Night City. The City of dreams. If it hasn't changed you yet, it will. And if it doesn't kill you, you might come out the other side as a living legend…  A ragtag group of strangers have just pulled off a heist, robbing a convoy transporting a mysterious container for Militech. The only thing the group have in common is that they were each blackmailed into participating in the heist…  This novel is set in the world of Cyberpunk 2077, one of the best selling video games of recent years. The author is an acclaimed Polish SF writer who has garnered Poland's highest SF literary accolades.

Lamb (2023) Matt Hill, Dead Ink Books, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-915-36804-1.
‘It’s inside every parent to want to carry their child’s terror. It’s the thing they never tell you about. Watching your child grow up, watching your child learn to suffer…’  When lorry driver Dougie Alport carries out a deadly attack on his employer’s head office, the reverberations of his actions unleash a grief in his wife Maureen that threatens to reveal the secret she has spent years hiding from their son, Boyd.  Moving north to start again is Maureen’s best response. But as the walls begin to throb with mould and his mother slips from his grasp, Boyd decides to flee, finding solace with a new friend at the landfill site on the edge of town. Here, a startling discovery upends Boyd’s new life and forces him into a reckoning with his mother, her past, and his future.  A visceral story of collective memory and moss-coated horror, Lamb asks us how far we’d go to protect those we love, and how intensely we are bound to those who have come before us.

The Blue, Beautiful World (2023) Karen Lord, Gollancz, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-399-61886-1.
The world is changing, and humanity must change with it. Rising seas and soaring temperatures have radically transformed the face of the Earth. Meanwhile, the Earth is being observed from afar by other civilizations… and now they are ready to make contact…

The Origins of Science Fiction edited by Michael Newton, Oxford University Press, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-198-89194-9.
An anthology of early SF shorts. It provides a selection of science-fiction tales from the close of the ‘Romantic’ period to the end of the First World War. It gathers together classic short stories, from Edgar Allan Poe’s playful hoaxes to Gertrude Barrows Bennett’s feminist fantasy. In this way, the book shows the vitality and literary diversity of the field, and also expresses something of the potent appeal of the visionary, the fascination with science, and the allure of an imagined future that characterised this period.

Promise by Christi Nogle, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58812-7.
Promise collects Christi Nogle’s best futuristic stories ranging from plausible science fiction to science fantasy stories about aliens in our midst. These tales will recall the stories of Ray Bradbury, TV shows such as Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone and novels such as Under the Skin by Michael Faber.

Adventures in Space: New short stories by Chinese and English writers edited by Patrick Parrinder, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58815-8.
A brave project, with thirteen English and Chinese language science fiction writers. New, emerging and established authors from a mix of open submissions and curated selections create a mediation of cultures, bringing together the multifaceted perspectives of SF writers in the exploration of ideas and humanity.  Chinese language writers (translated): Bao Shu, Chen Zijun, Han Song, He Xi, Wang Jinkang, Zhao Haihong.  English language writers: Leah Cypess, Ronald D. Ferguson, Russell James, Alex Shvartsman, Amdi Silvestri, Allen Stroud, Eleanor R. Wood.

The Sky Vault by Benjamin Percy, Hodderscape, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-69016-5.
The third and final book in 'The Comet Cycle' series following Skyward.  Spensa’s life as a Defiant Defence Force pilot has been far from ordinary. Her adventures have taken her beyond her own galaxy, unravelling the secrets – and hidden dangers – of her universe, and though her battles have always been personal, now she and her friends are also fighting for the future of humanity, and of all free peoples. Join Spensa. Join the resistance. It’s time to fight

The Sunlit Man by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-61347-7.
A perpetual planetary wanderer must decide whether to keep running, or to stay and make a difference on a struggling planet.  Years ago he had comrades in arms, a cause, but now the man called Nomad knows only a life on the run. Forced to hop from world to world in the Cosmere whenever the relentless Night Brigade gets too close, Nomad lands on a new planet and is instantly caught up in the struggle between a tyrant and the rebels who want only to escape being turned into mindless slaves – all under the constant threat of a sunrise whose heat will melt the very stones.

Yumi and the Nightmare Painter by Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-61344-6.
A Cosmere Universe adventure where two people from incredibly different worlds must work together to save their homes from ruin.  Yumi comes from a land of gardens, meditation and spirits, while Painter lives in a world of darkness, technology and nightmares. When their lives suddenly become intertwined in strange ways, can they put aside their differences and work together to uncover the mysteries of their situation and save each other’s communities from certain disaster?

Star Wars: Tempest Runner by Cavan Scott, Penguin, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-15019-3.
Delve into the cut-throat world of one of the High Republic’s greatest foes, the merciless Lourna Dee, in this full script for the Star Wars audio original. Outside the Nihil – separated from her infamous ship, her terrifying arsenal, and her feared name – Lourna must carve her own path. But will it lead to redemption? Or will she emerge as a deadlier threat than ever before?

Doctor Who: Planet of the Ood by Keith Temple, BBC Books, £9.99, pbk, 176pp, ISBN 978-1-785-94826-8.
"The Ood came from a distant world, they voyaged across the stars, all for one purpose... to serve."  The TARDIS lands on the Ood-Sphere in the year 4126. Here, human profiteers have subjugated the Ood: the gentle creatures are forced into servitude and sold across the galaxy as the perfect slaves. But now, some are fighting back. Their eyes turn red as they throw off their chains and kill their oppressors... The Doctor and Donna soon learn that the planet of the Ood holds cruel and awesome secrets. As they battle for justice and survival, the fate of the entire Ood race hangs in the balance. Will the outcome be salvation - or extinction?

Doctor Who: Kerblam! by Pete McTighe, BBC Books, £9.99, pbk, 176pp, ISBN 978-1-785-94823-7.
Kerblam! is the biggest online retailer in the galaxy - but how did it become so big? When the Doctor's Kerblam! package includes a mysterious request for help, she heads straight to the company's warehouse moon to investigate. Going undercover as Kerblam! workers, the TARDIS family find that several human employees have vanished in sinister circumstances. Could the automated workforce be to blame? Or has the whole operation been compromised by forces unknown? The Doctor soon learns that when it comes to wrapping things up, she has nothing on Kerblam..!

The Roamers by Francesco Verso, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58833-2.
The Pulldogs are a group of people that undergo anthropological transformations caused by nanites. This changes the way they eat and gives rise to a culture reminiscent of a creative and sustainable nomadic society. Using 3D printers and cloud computing, the Pulldogs make an impossible and anachronistic choice – is this new life really a good one?  Click on the title link for a standalone review.

Wayward by Chuck Wendig, Penguin, £10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-10112-6.
Techno-horror.  The sequel to Chuck Wendig’s apocalyptic Wanderers.


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 2023

Forthcoming Fantasy Books


Rift by Seth C. Adams, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58878-3.
Estranged husband. Grieving father. A doorway through which the dead – or something else entirely – speak. How far would you go to see the ones you’ve lost, just one more time? Would you step through the rift? And, what if something else stepped out?

The Living and the Rest by José Eduardo Agualusa, Maclehose Press, £12, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-42175-0.
A dark and beguiling comedy about an island literary festival that goes horribly – apocalyptically – wrong.  As soon as the first guests arrive at a literary festival on the island of Mozambique, the coast is hit by a cyclone. Cut off from the outside world, the authors hear ghostly voices and meet characters from their own books. The boundaries between reality and fiction become blurred. Then everything goes back to normal, but the world is now a different place.  A novel about the extraordinary power of the written word, capable of creating and regenerating everything.

The Ruined by Renée Ahdieh, Hodderscape, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-36843-7.
The concluding 4th Book in 'The Beautiful' series.  The Sylvan Vale and the Sylvan Wyld are at war. Now the unsteady truce between them has been broken. To protect the weakened Winter Court, Bastien rallies powerful allies and friends in New Orleans to come to their aid. However, she cannot get word to Bastien. When she realises war is imminent, she journeys with Ali to find the time travelling mirror and change their fate.

Spirits & Ghouls Short Stories edited by Ahmed Al-Rawi, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17586-6.
This chilling new short story collection will scare the hairs on the back of your neck. New stories from open submissions, by both emerging and established writers, mingle with the spirits of an older age, stretching back from the Victorian obsessions of M. R. James, Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Amelia Edwards, to the tales of the Arabian nights. Ahmed Al-Rawi is an Associate Professor at the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University, Canada.

Normal Rules Don't Apply by Kate Atkinson, Transworld, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-857-52918-3.
In this first full collection of short stories since Not the End of the World, we meet a queen who makes a bargain she cannot keep; a secretary who watches over the life she has just left; and a man whose luck changes when a horse speaks to him. Witty and wise, with subtle connections between the stories, Normal Rules Don't Apply is a startling , and funny feast for the imagination.  In Kate Atkinson's world nothing is over until ' the talking dog speaks.'

Aztec Myths and Tales edited by Anthony F. Aveni, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17589-7.
This gorgeous collection explores the history, gods, calendars and tales of the Aztec people in particular, and includes the Incas, Mayans and other Mesoamerican cultures. Aztec myths explained life and death by linking them to the earth, sky and sea in a grand cosmic scheme, from the war god Huitzilopochtli to the supreme deity Tezcatlipoca. Foreword: Dr. Anthony F. Aveni is the Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy, Anthropology, and Native American Studies, Emeritus, at Colgate University.

The Scarlet Alchemist by Kylie Lee Baker, Hodderscape, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-72329-9.
Where alchemy has led to income inequality as the rich eat gold to achieve eternal youth, and a poor biracial girl with the ability to raise the dead gets caught up in the dangerous political games of the royal family.

The Collected Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie edited by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Oxford University Press, £7.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-192-84743-0.
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 an introduction and notes, detailed explanatory notes, original illustrations, and appendices that include Barrie’s coda to the play that was only performed once.

A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60706-3.
A lost classic from a legend of fantasy, with a new introduction by Neil Gaiman.  Jonathan Rebeck is homeless. Bankrupt. He has dropped out of society and has been living quietly in a local cemetery, under the care of a raven who is quite good at stealing sandwiches.  Far from being lonely, Jonathan is able to converse with the ghosts around him, and finds himself following two spirits who are new, and falling in love with each other.  When a visiting widow stumbles across him, will the living world begin to intrude on this fine and private place?

The Wendigo and Other Stories by Algernon Blackwood, Oxford University Press, £7.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-198-84888-2.
This showcases a combination of stories from different stages of Blackwood’s career, from ghost stories, to nature Gothic, to cosmic horror. It includes such undisputed classics as ‘The Wendigo’, ‘The Willows’, and ‘Ancient Sorceries’, as well as two superbly unsettling novellas and ten other stories, short and long, drawn from collections spanning Blackwood’s career It draws upon Blackwood’s own copious essays, radio talks, and TV appearances, some of which have only recently become available.  The tales of Algernon Blackwood, in the view of many the greatest weird writer of them all, blur the boundaries between human and nonhuman, living and dead, beckoning the reader into strange borderlands where alien forces lurk.

Algernon Blackwood Horror Stories by Algernon Blackwood and edited by Ramsey Campbell, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-177099-9.
Blackwood, alongside M. R. James, is one of the pillars of the modern horror story. With an eye for a chilling detail he leaves the reader always casting nervously behind. Blackwood wrote story after story of haunted places, and long dark shadows, many of which feature in this stunning new collection, including ‘A Haunted Island’, ‘The Willows’ and more. Foreword/Editorial Consultant: Ramsey Campbell has been given more awards than any other writer in the field, including 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.

Spirit of the Wood by Kristen Britain, Gollancz, £10.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-61370-5.
Return to the world of the Green Rider.  Lieutenant-Rider Laren Mapstone has built a fortress around herself to conceal her emotions. When she is made mentor to Tavin Bankside, her cold exterior quickly earns her the moniker the ‘Ice Lady’.  Tavin must save Mapstone’s life and master his empathic gift before it destroys them. However, an ancient power lurks within the Green Cloak, which could mean survival for the Riders or the downfall of Sacoridia.

Hidden Realms Short Stories introduction by by Lori Campbell-Tanner, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17271-1.
A new thematic collection of fantasy stories in the bestselling Gothic Fantasy series. Created by mixing open submissions from modern writers and classic literature, this new title explores the adventures of hidden places, secret gardens, and shadow lands in forests and mountains, in the swamps and the wild places of our world and beyond…  Click on the title link for a standalone review.

The Lonely Lands by Ramsey Campbell, Flame Tree Press, £9.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58863-9.
Our recommended fantasy chiller of the season.  The author of Born to the Dark, Fellstones, The Searching Dead, Somebody’s Voice, The Way of the Worm and The Wise Friend.  He has been given more awards than any other writer in the field, including 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.
        Joe Hunter has begun to adjust to the sudden loss of his life when he hears her calling from beyond asking, "Where am I?" Since he was a child, Joe has been able to dream himself into the afterlife, But is it only a dream..?

Storming Heaven by Miles Cameron, Gollancz, £22, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-473-2354-9.
The heavens are under attack from internal conflicts between old and new gods, and from mortals themselves.  But revolution is never easy. It’s dirty, bloody, compromising. What is acceptable collateral for peace? Who decides where the line is drawn? What makes the rebels any better than the gods they’re overthrowing?  Drawing on world mythology, this Bronze Age-inspired epic fantasy spans the globe and shakes the heavens.

The After Death of Caroline Rand by Catherine Cavendish, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58739-7.
At a weekend house-party at the ancient Canonbury Manor, Alli is caught between fantasy and reality in the life of a famous singer from the Sixties, who reportedly killed herself there. Buried deep below, evil now infests the once-holy building. As Alli is drawn in ever-deeper, she is about to learn her role in the after-death of Caroline Rand.

Dead Ends by Marc E. Fitch, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58848-6.
No one is safe. The residents of a small, forgotten neighbourhood are being watched, stalked and harassed by someone or something, and they seem powerless to stop it. As the death toll mounts, these desperate people embark down a path of self destruction driven by fear, politics and technology. The results are all-too-real and terrifying.

Lost Atlantis Short Stories edited by Jennifer Fuller, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17585-9.
Packed with intriguing stories from new submissions and ancient visionaries. Atlantis began with Plato but the idea of a perfect society lost to the world haunted the speculative mind for over 2000 years, with the tales of Francis Bacon, the Utopian explorations of Thomas More, Samuel Butler and in modern times, TV series and short stories galore. Jennifer Fuller previously worked as a college professor at Jackson State University, Idaho State University, and Warner University.

Robert Louis Stevenson Collection by R. L. Stevenson and edited by Richard Dury, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17710-5.
Universally known for his masterpiece The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson was a supreme storyteller of many dark and monstrous tales that tease at the duality of human nature. This gorgeous new collection gathers together ‘The Body Snatcher’, ‘A Lodging for the Night’, ‘The Isle of Voices’ and many other chilling stories. Foreword: Richard Dury is a retired professor of English language and literature at the University of Bergamo. He founded the Robert Louis Stevenson Website.

The Call of the Void by S. M. Gaither, TikToc Focus, £10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94584-1.
The third book in the 'Shadows & Crowns' series, with over 4.4 million views on TikTok.  Casia has survived her brother’s attempts to crush her, but the battle is just beginning. Bitter, wounded and carrying the curse of a dark upper-god, she journeys north to the elven court in search of allies. Elander’s devotion to her may be what destroys him.  And when that destruction comes, it could change their entire world.

A Crown of the Gods by S. M. Gaither, TikToc Focus, £10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94587-2.
The throne of the Kethran Empire lies empty, its ruler now a god bringing darkness and chaos to the world.  The line between the divine and mortal realms is blurring. The battlefield is set and a final, devastating war is on the horizon.  Casia must confront her past and finally discover the answers hidden within it.  Even though it may destroy her hope of a future.

The Queen of the Dawn by S. M. Gaither, TikToc Focus, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-91152-7.
The light cannot always overcome the dark. But it can rise to meet it.  Casia Greythorne has survived battles with gods and monsters and the crown is in her grasp. But the power of the dark god Malaphar is rising, threatening the end of their world before her reign has begun.  Dawn is coming. But will they survive to see the new day?

The Song of the Marked by S. M. Gaither, TikToc Focus, £10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94580-3.
The first book in the 'Shadows & Crowns' series, with over 4.4 million views on TikTok.  Mercenary Casia Greythorne cares about two things: completing her latest job and earning enough coin for the expensive medicine that’s keeping her mentor alive.  So when the king commands her to investigate a strange plague devastating the empire, she can’t resist the massive reward he offers – even if it does mean working with the arrogant and infuriating Captain Elander. But an ancient evil is stirring in the shadows.

A Twist of the Blade by S. M. Gaither, TikToc Focus, £10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94582-7.
Casia Greythorne’s world has shattered. Reeling from a devastating loss and the revelation of an identity she’s not sure she wants, she also must master the strange magic awakening within her.  Because salvation comes with a cost.  And some debts must be paid in blood.

Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales edited by Allison Galbraith, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17590-3.
From the clash of swords between knights and clan leaders to the exploits of brownies, bogles and the enchanting ‘fair folk’, this collection of tales captures the essence of Scotland’s ancient and vibrant mythic tradition – including tales and characters from a shared heritage with Ireland, alongside a variety of uniquely Scottish stories.

A Curse For True Love by Stephanie Garber, Hodderscape, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-39929-5.
The Final Book in the Once Upon a Broken Heart Trilogy.  After venturing to the Magnificent North, it seems as though Evangeline Fox has found her happy ending. Married to a handsome prince and living in a legendary castle, Evangeline has no idea of the devastating price she’s paid for this fairy tale. She doesn’t know what she has lost, and her husband is determined she’ll never find out… but first he must kill Jacks, the Prince of Hearts. Blood will be shed, hearts will be stolen, and true love will be put to the test in the breathlessly anticipated conclusion to the Once Upon A Broken Heart trilogy.

A Dawn of Onyx by Kate Golden, Jo Fletcher Books, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-43401-9.
Arwen knows better than to face the ancient, wicked woods that surround the castle where she is held prisoner, which means that working with a fellow captive might be her only path to freedom…

Foul Heart Huntsman by Chloe Gong, Hodderscape, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-38032-3.
The sequel to Foul Lady Fortune.  1931 Shanghai. Spy, Rosalind Lang, has been exposed. The only way to leave the city and rescue her beloved is under the guise of a national tour. To save Orion, they must find a cure for his mother’s traitorous invention and take this chemical weapon away from impending foreign invasion – but the clock is ticking and, if Rosalind fails, it’s not only Orion she loses, but her nation itself.

Foxglove by Adalyn Grace, Hodderscape, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-70515-8.
A duke has been murdered. The lord of Thorn Grove has been framed. And Fate, the elusive brother of Death, has taken up residence in a sumptuous estate nearby. He’s hell bent on revenge after Death took the life of the woman he loved . . . and he’s determined to have Signa for himself. Signa and Blythe are certain that Fate can save Elijah. With mysteries and danger around every corner, the cousins must decide if they can trust one another as they unravel the murders that haunt their family, and play Fate’s unexpected games.

The Pattern of the World by J. T. Greathouse, Gollancz, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23295-2.
The conclusion to the acclaimed Pact and Pattern series, which started with The Hand of the Sun King.  Foolish Cur has fallen into a trap. Now the gods are free to wage their war, twisting the world into new forms as strange and terrible beasts walk the Earth.  To fix what he has caused will take every ounce of Foolish Cur’s cunning. But Foolish Cur does not know what such a task will ask of him. And, powerful though he may be, the costs may be more than he is willing to pay..

Shark Heart: A Love Story by Emily Habeck, Jo Fletcher Books, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-43221-3.
For Lewis and Wren, their first year of marriage is also their last.  A few weeks after their wedding, Lewis receives a rare diagnosis. He’s turning into a great white shark, and has less than a year left to live as a human. At first, Wren resists her husband’s fate. Is there a way for them to be together after Lewis fully transforms?  But as Lewis changes, day by day, Wren begins to make peace with the inevitable. After all, this isn’t the first time she’s lost a loved one this way… she lost her beloved mother, Angela, to a similarly shocking illness.

Sorcerer's Edge by David Hair, Jo Fletcher Books, £12.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-40212-4.
They thought they'd found peace, but the empire never forgets. When sorcerer Raythe and his company stumbled upon Rath Argentium and the Tangato people, they forged a treaty, embracing peace.  But the tyrannical Bolgravian Empire never gives up – they’re coming to conquer Rath. Faced with annihilation, Raythe must find an edge..

Mother, Maiden, Crone by Joanne Harris, Gollancz, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-399-61400-9.
A beautiful omnibus of the critically acclaimed novellas A Pocketful of Crows, The Blue Salt Road and Orfeia.  Worlds of myth and magic, inspired by song and legend..  Collected together for the first time, the lyrical stories of I>A Pocketful of Crows, The Blue Salt Road and Orfeia weave magical tales, drawing from mythology from around the world.  This collection also contains new content, written exclusively for this edition.

A Demon’s Guide to Wooing a Witch by Sarah Hawley, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60892-3.
Fantasy romance.  Calladia Cunnington curses the day she met Astaroth the demon, but when he shows up memory-less, why does she find him so helpless… and sort of hot? Suffering from amnesia after being stripped of his immortality, Astaroth doesn’t know why the muscular, angry, hot-in-a-terrifying-way witch who saved him hates him so much.  The two set out on an uneasy road trip to find the witch who might be able to restore Astaroth’s memory, but the more time they spend together, the more romance blooms.

Silent Key by Laurel Hightower, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58854-7.
After losing her husband under mysterious circumstances, former detective Cam Ambrose must learn how to keep her young daughter safe from a world of the supernatural she never knew existed. She sets out to solve a decades-old mystery entangling the machinations of an obsessed killer, her husband’s mistress, and a series of deadly hauntings.

What The River Knows by Isabel Ibanez, Hodderscape, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-72218-6.
Inez Olivera belongs to the glittering upper society of nineteenth-century Buenos Aires, a town steeped in old world magic. When she receives word of her parents’ tragic deaths, Inez inherits their massive fortune and a mysterious guardian. Inez must rely on ancient magic to uncover the truth about her parents’ disappearance – or risk becoming a pawn in a larger game that will kill her.

Ancient Ghost Stories edited by Jake Jackson, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17565-8.
The stories of ghosts here can be found from the retold literature of ancient peoples, including Khonsemhab and the Ghost from Ancient Egypt, The Tale of Philinnion & Machates from Ancient Rome, Po & Hun hauntings from the Shang Dynasty in Ancient China, Pazuzu the Babylonian demon, and stories of haunting in Ancient Greece from Homer.

Haunted House Stories edited by Jake Jackson, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17593-4.
Gothic mansions, haunted hotels, houses over-run by phantoms: this new collection of classic tales will keep you entertained in the long watches of the night, with Hoffmann’s The Deserted House, The House and the Brain by Bulwer-Lytton and more neck-tingling tales from Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, Charlotte Riddell and Edith Wharton.

Japanese Ghost Stories edited by Jake Jackson, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17592-7.
Japan has a long and ancient custom of sharing stories of the supernatural, brought to fashionable prominence in the Kaidan literature of the Edo period. This new collection brings together the fantastic tales of vengeful spirits, man-eating demons, mountain-dwelling ogres, woodland ghosts and the phantoms of abandoned children.

Korean Folktales edited by Jake Jackson, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17584-2.
Packed with delightful tales of love affairs and broken hearts, misadventures and wise-cracking creatures, the everyday stories of Korea bring the warmth of the familiar with a twist of the unusual. Magistrates, woodmen and princes, moles, frogs and fairies abound in this delightful collection, organized by theme. General Editor: Jake Jackson has written, edited and contributed to over 20 books on mythology and folklore.

Viking Folk and Fairy Tales edited by Dagrún Osk Jónsd&oaccute;ttir, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17591-0.
Harald the Viking, The Dwarf-Sword Tirfing, The Princess and the Glass Mountain, The Seven Foals and The Tinderbox are just some of the Nordic and Scandinavian fairy tales that combine the magic of the natural world and with the common sense of the everyday where good folk are rewarded for their hard work, the honest and the faithful are valued.

Hungarian Folktales edited by Boglárka Klitsie-Szabad, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17581-1.
Hungarian culture shares elements from West and East, with a rich tradition of folk beliefs and folktales that have been passed down through the generations. This delightful collection gathers together tales of fairy folk, adventure and adversity, fables and lessons, magical creatures and transformations. Introduction: Boglárka Klitsie-Szabad is a Hungarian ethnographer and storyteller. In 2019 she was awarded the Young Master of Folk Arts state prize as well as the Prima Junior prize for Folk Art and Public Education.

That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon by Kimberly Lemming, Jo Fletcher Books, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-42267-2.
The first in the sexy, sizzling (literally) Mead Mishaps series by TikTok sensation Kimberly Lemming.  All I wanted to do was live my life in peace. Maybe get a cat, expand my spice farm. Really anything that doesn’t involve going on a quest where an orc might rip my face off. But they say the Goddess has favourites. If so, I’m clearly not one of them.  After saving the demon Fallon in a wine-drunk stupor, all he wanted to do was kill an evil witch enslaving his people. I mean, I get it, don’t get me wrong. But he’s dragging me along for the ride, and I’m kind of peeved about it. On the bright side, he keeps burning off his shirt…

That Time I Got Drunk and Yeeted A Love Potion At A Werewolf by Kimberly Lemming, Jo Fletcher Books, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-43126-1.
The second novel in the sexy, sizzling Mead Mishaps series.  Anyone else ever thrown a drink at someone’s head, only to miss entirely and hit a stranger behind them?  Then have that stranger fall madly in love with you because it turned out that drink you threw was a love potion? No, just me? Dealing with a pirate ship full of demons that just moved into town was hard enough. Now on top of it, I have to convince a werewolf that I’m not his fated mate, he’s just drugged. Easier said than done. Though I have to say, having a gorgeous man show up and do all of your chores while telling you you’re beautiful isn’t the worst thing to happen to a girl…

That Time I Drugged a Dragon by Kimberly Lemming, Jo Fletcher Books, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-43129-2.
The third novel in the sexy, sizzling Mead Mishaps series.  When I was a little girl, my Ma used to read me stories every night. Stories about princesses trapped in towers guarded by fierce dragons. I always hated those stories. I couldn’t imagine why the princess didn’t just get up and leave. Ironic since I am now stuck in that same situation. Turns out, when a dragon holds you hostage, he doesn’t just let you get up and leave.  Who knew?  When I thought I saw hope on the horizon, that hope was smashed to bits by – you guessed it – another damn dragon…

My Roommate is a Vampire by Jenna Levine, Century, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94540-7.
Cassie Greenberg needs a new place to live, and fast. When she finds an affordable apartment in a beautiful neighbourhood, she knows there must be a catch.  Of course, her new roommate, Frederick J. Fitzwilliam, is far from normal. He sleeps all day, is out at night on business, and talks like he walked out of a Regency romance novel.  He also leaves Cassie heart-melting notes around the apartment, cares about her art, and asks about her day.  There’s no denying there’s a spark between them – but there’s also a secret…  Cassie’s roommate is a vampire.  But with true love at stake, will Frederick come clean?

Her Radiant Curse by Elizabeth Lim, Hodderscape, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-71478-5.
One sister must fall for the other to rise.  When Channi’s father offers her in sacrifice to the Demon Witch, she is cursed with a serpent’s face. Channi’s beautiful sister, Vanna, is the only person who looks at Channi and doesn’t see a monster. But Vanna is to be married off in a contest that will enrich the coffers of the village leaders. Only Channi can defend her sister against the cruellest of the suitors. Channi becomes the target of his wrath – launching a grisly battle royale, a quest over land and sea, a romance between sworn enemies, and a choice that will strain Channi’s heart to its breaking point.

The Kindness by John Lindqvist, Riverrun, £25, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-41905-4.
A shipping container is mysteriously dumped in the Swedish port town of Norrtalje. Due to their ignorance of its ownership it isn’t until a week has passed that the authorities can have it forced open. There the remains of twenty-eight refugees are found, a situation of unrelenting horror. A black sludge pours out and is the cause of a new, sickening dread that affects Norrtalje’s inhabitants, causing a lack of trust, aggression, violence. It seems like an end to Kindness.

Gwain and the Green Knight edited by Alan Lupack, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17583-5.
A treasure of medieval literature, brought to life in the 2021 film Green Knight starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander and Joel Edgerton. An Arthurian legend of note it revels in its Celtic origins, playing with the mysteries of chivalric romance, the warrior hero and the deeper truths of eternal life. Introduction: Alan Lupack is the author of The Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend, and co-author of King Arthur in America. He is Former President of the North American Branch of the International Arthurian Society. Currently, he is Associate Editor of the TEAMS Middle English Texts series. Alan created the electronic database The Camelot Project.

Traitor of Redwinter: The Redwinter Chronicles Book Two by Ed McDonald, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23368-3.
The power of the Sixth Gate grows stronger within Raine each day. To control it, she needs lessons no living Draoihn can teach her – so Raine must face her growing darkness alone.  However, others have plans for Raine too, and as the king’s health fails, rebellious lords begin to vie for power, including her former friend Ovitus.  Amidst threats old and new, Raine must find her path, and she has already promised more than she can afford to give…

Throne of the Fallen by Kerri Maniscalco, Hodderscape, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-71565-2.
Sinner. Villain. Ruthless. Wicked names the Prince of Envy welcomes. They remind him of what he isn’t: a saint. And when a cryptic note arrives, signalling the beginning of a deadly game, he knows he’ll be called much worse before it ends. Envy is determined to win, though none of his meticulous plans prepare him for her, the frustrating artist who ignites his sin – and passion – like no other…

The Lightstruck: The Darkening Duology Book 2 by Sunya Mara, Hodderscape, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-35551-2.
In this epic conclusion to the Darkening duology, Vesper Vale faces a sinister threat when the Great King seizes control of the city. Vesper’s city is besieged by the sinister force of The Great King and his growing army of the lightstruck – once regular citizens who are now controlled by the ominous light encroaching on the city. The people all look to Vesper, now revered as a goddess after her sacrifice, as their city’s only hope. In order to save her city from the light, Vesper must face the power most outside of her control – the goddess within.

The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer, Phoenix, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60586-1.
A debut inspired by real historical events, billed by the publisher as for fans of Hilary Mantel and Margaret Atwood East Anglia, 1645. Midwife, healer and servant Martha Hallybread has lived four decades in her beloved Cleftwater and has never been heard to speak. When a witch-hunter arrives in the village, Martha is enlisted to search the bodies of the accused and finds herself torn between helping her friends and keeping a secret of her own.  In desperation, she revives a wax witching doll, hoping it will bring protection. But the doll’s true powers are unknowable, and time is running out..

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Jo Fletcher Books, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-41801-9.
See the title link for a stand alone review of the hardback. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Jo Fletcher Books, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-41801-9.
The 2020, multiple award winning horror novel's British paperback release.

Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Jo Fletcher Books, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-41804-0.
An intoxicating meld of Hollywood glamour, Mexican horror movies and ancient curses. Montserrat has always been overlooked. She’s a talented sound editor, but she’s left out of the boys’ club running the film industry in ‘90s Mexico City. And she’s all but invisible to her best friend Tristán, a charming if faded soap opera star, even though she’s been in love with him since childhood.  Then Tristán discovers his new neighbour is the cult horror director Abel Urueta, and the legendary auteur claims he has a way to change their lives – even if his tales of a Nazi occultist imbuing magic into highly volatile silver nitrate stock sounds like sheer fantasy. The magic film was never finished, which is why, Urueta swears, his career vanished overnight. He is cursed.  Now the director wants Montserrat and Tristán to help him shoot the missing scene and lift the curse. But Montserrat and Tristán might find out that sorcerers and magic are not only the stuff of films….  Click on the title link for a standalone review.

Darkness Beckons: New horror short stories edited by Mark Morris, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58729-8.
The fourth volume in the ABC of Horror, a non-themed series of entirely original stories, showcasing the very best short fiction that the genre has to offer, and edited by Mark Morris. Authors include Mark Gatiss, Alyssa C. Greene, Eric LaRocca, Angela Slatter and Stephen Volk.

They Stalk the Night by Brian Moreland, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58857-8.
A blend of mystery, dark suspense and horror.  In the Minnesota wilderness, the inhabitants of a remote town hold dark secrets. Retired police chief Sam Larsen knows what abomination stalks the forbidden woods atop Buckhead Hill. His worst nightmare becomes real when a pipeline company destroys a sacred barrier, unleashing an ancient enemy. Now, evil returns to feed again.

Alternate History Short Stories introduced by Alison Morton, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-12572-8.
What if the course of history had been changed by a different decision, a different victor, a different invention? Utopian stories and alternative history stories by H. G. Wells, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Castello Holford and others are combined here with new stories by new writers from open submissions, exploring the variety and delight of alternative history to re-imagine the world around us…  Click on the title link for a standalone review.

Egyptian Myths and Tales edited by Chris Naunton, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$40 / US$30, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17588-0.
This new collection of epic tales offers the stories and incantations of the ancient Egyptians, 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 natural world around them by creating a pantheon of gods that still holds our fascination today.

Cold Curses by Chloe Neill, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-399-61498-6.
The fifth instalment in the USA Today 'Heirs of Chicagoland' series.  Book five in Chloe Neill’s paranormal romance series takes us back to the Heirs of Chicagoland for more vampires.  Billed by the publisher as perfect for fans of Nalini Singh and Charlaine Harris, Chloe has sold more than 200,000 copies of her books.

The Black Feathers by Rebecca Netley, Michael Joseph, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-241-53401-4
A ghostly tale of magic and wickedness, set on the Yorkshire moors in the 1800s. When Annie marries widower Edward Stonehouse and arrives at his estate on the Yorkshire moors, she thinks she’s put darkness behind her. She is mistaken. Edward’s sister, Iris, still lives in the family home. A taxidermist and medium, she urges Annie to look for black feathers - claiming that they mark the spot where a spirit has visited.  Initially, Annie dismisses her warnings. But, before long, she begins to feel haunted. What happened to Edward’s first wife? Why is Iris so disturbed? And should Annie really be watching for signs from the dead? Or is she the one being watched…

Sir Hereward and Mr Fitz by Garth Nix, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60636-3.
Two award-winning novellas and a short story featuring Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz’s exploits are gathered in a single volume.  Sir Hereward. Knight, artillerist, swordsman. Mercenary for hire. Ill-starred lover.  Mister Fitz. Puppet, sorcerer, loremaster. Practitioner of arcane arts now mostly and thankfully forgotten. Former nursemaid to Hereward.  Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz. Agents of the Council of the Treaty for the Safety of the World, charged with the location and removal of listed extra-dimensional entities, more commonly known as gods or godlets.  Travellers. Adventurers. Godslayers.

Brittle by Beth Overmyer, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58791-5.
When her father is murdered, Verve is swept into a web of intrigue with a thousand-year-old weapon and an ancient prophecy disguised as a fable. If she hadn’t been hexed not to, she could share the location of the Cunning Blade and return to her family. Instead she must use her wits to navigate the world of Faerie and survive another day.

The Eternal Shadow by Shameez Patel Papathanasiou, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58784-7.
Using magic in her realm is forbidden and because of this, Cassia is abducted by the king of Selene. In a frantic attempt to escape him, Cassia, Lucas and their friends flee Selene in search of allies. But in this new realm they discover that all its inhabitants are afraid of the dark and the shadows lurking within it.

The Intruders by Brian Pinkerton, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58778-6.
People are vanishing from their homes. Aggressive swarms of insects are on the attack. The skies are producing silver rain. And late at night, residents are haunted by ghosts desperate to reveal the secrets of their existence but unable to speak. The small town of Engles is undergoing a shocking transformation. The Intruders have arrived.

A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories by Terry Pratchett, Transworld, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-857-52963-3.
A set of unearthed, early stories from the pen of Sir Terry Pratchett: award-winning and bestselling author, and creator of the phenomenally successful Discworld series.  An exclusive collection of twenty early short stories by one of the world's best loved authors, these are rediscovered tales that Pratchett wrote under a pseudonym for newspapers during the 1970s and 1980s.  Whilst none of the stories are set in the Discworld, they hint towards the world he would go on to create in his award-winning and globally bestselling series, containing all of his trademark wit, satirical wisdom and fantastic imagination. These are tales which entertain, enlighten and, most importantly, make you laugh.  Meet Og the inventor, the first caveman to cultivate fire, as he discovers the highs and lows of progress; haunt the Council with the defiant evicted ghosts of Pilgarlic Towers; visit Blackbury, a small market town with weird weather and an otherworldly visitor; and travel millions of years back in time to The Old Red Sandstone Lion pub.

Bonesmith by Nicki Pau Preto, Hodderscape, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-72235-3.
Ready your blade. Defeat the undead. In the Dominions, the dead linger unless a bonesmith severs the ghost from its earthly remains. For bonesmith Wren, becoming a Valkyr – a ghost-fighting warrior – is a chance to solidify her place in the House of Bone and impress her father. But when sabotage causes Wren to fail her qualifying trial, she is banished to the Border Wall. To reclaim respect, Wren vows to rescue a kidnapped prince. She enters an uneasy alliance with Julian, one of the kidnappers, and they work together to combat the real danger: a dark alliance brewing between the living and the undead.

A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid, Del Rey, £16, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-529-15050-6.
If monsters are real, so are the women who defeat them. Ava Reid’s fantasy thriller is billed by the publisher as Possession meets The Hazel Wood.  Effy has always believed in fairy tales. She’s had no choice. Since childhood, she’s been haunted by visions of the Fairy King. She’s found solace only in the pages of Angharad – a beloved epic about a mortal girl who falls in love with the Fairy King, and then destroys him.  So when the late author’s family announces a contest to design his house, Effy feels certain this is her destiny. But Hiraeth Manor is an impossible task, and when Effy arrives, she finds Preston Héloury, a stodgy young literature scholar, studying Myrddin’s papers and determined to prove her favourite author is a fraud.  As the two rival students investigate the reclusive author’s legacy, they discover that the house’s foundation isn’t the only thing that can’t be trusted.  There are dark forces, both mortal and magical, conspiring against them – and the truth may bring them both to ruin.

Critical Role: The Mighty Nein – The Nine Eyes Of Lucien by Madeleine Roux, Penguin, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94183-6.
Delve into the mind of Critical Role’s most charming villain in this original novel that chronicles Lucien’s early life and his fateful meeting with the Mighty Nein.  Critical Role: The Mighty Nein – The Nine Eyes of Lucien explores the meteoric rise and fall of one of Critical Role’s most notorious and tragic figures.

The Ungrateful Dead by Adam Simcox, Gollancz, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-473-23082-8.
Science fantasy. A supernatural crime series about a dead detective investigating crimes the living aren’t equipped to solve…  Detective Joe Lazarus is missing. The Dying Squad are on the case, but signs suggest he may have fallen back into his criminal ways.  A new drug, Spook, allows the living to see the dead, but its effects are often fatal. A visit to a Berlin nightclub quickly turns their search into an entirely more sinister case.  Because the invention of Spook has another purpose. Two worlds are on a collision course and the Dying Squad must stop a plot that could change people’s (after)lives forever…

Resonance Surge by Nalini Singh, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-60456-7.
The next instalment in the Psy-Changeling Trinity series Pavel and Yakov Stepyrev have been a unit since their birth, but now Pavel’s life is veering in a new direction, his heart held in the hands of Arwen Mercant, a Psy empath – and the only man who has ever brought Pavel to his knees.  A low-gradient Psy, Theodora Marshall is considered worthless by everyone but her violently powerful twin, Pax. She is the sole person he trusts in their venomous family to investigate a hidden and terrible part of their history – an unregistered rehabilitation centre established by their grandfather.  Theo must uncover the awful truth – in the company of a scowling bear named Yakov who isn’t about to take a Marshall at face value . . . especially a Marshall who has turned his dreams into chilling nightmares. Because Yakov is the great-grandson of a foreseer… and he has seen Theo die in an unstoppable surge of blood. Night after night after night…

The Midnight Kingdom by Tara Sim, Hodderscape, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-70417-5.
The divine will have their war – and not all will survive it.  A battle to save the city of Nexus has scattered the four noble heirs. Taesia and Nikolas are cast into Noctus, the realm of eternal night. The god of light travels with them, and wants to destroy Noctus for cosmic control. Risha navigates Mortri, the realm of death, where no mortal can survive for long. Angelica is in Vitae, suffering from an illness her god left in her veins. Sent on a diplomatic mission, any weakness will have disastrous repercussions for her. The descendants need more than their magic and wits to survive the war that is coming…

Tarotmancer by W. A. Simpson, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58787-8.
Harper holds the Gift of Divination. Red is the infamous Reynard the Fox, fugitive shape-shifter. When the past finds Red, they are both taken to the Kingdom of Vale within Underneath so Red can pay for his crimes. With the Rot drawing on the hatred of all, Harper and Red realize they must reconcile and work together to save Vale.

Southern African Folktales edited by Enongene Mirabeau Sone, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17582-8.
Southern Africa is a region of impressive diversity of landscape, climate and peoples. From peoples such as the Zulu, Pedi, Venda and San, from Angola and Botswana to South Africa, this lively collection contains tales from across the region, of creation and origins, of trickster animals, and of hardship, greed and love. Introduction: Enongene Mirabeau Sone is Professor of English and African Literature and Folklore Studies at Walter Sisulu University in South Africa.

A Sword of Bronze and Ashes by Anna Smith Spark, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58839-4.
Lyrical folk horror high fantasy. Kanda has a peaceful life until shadows from her past threaten all she loves. Red war is coming: pursued by ancient evil she must find long buried strength to protect her family. But how can she keep her children safe, if they want to stand as warriors beside her when the light fades and the darkness rises?

Lore Olympus: Vol. 5 by Rachel Smythe, Del Rey, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-10113-3.
Graphic novel from the original Eisner Award-winning webcomic Lore Olympus.  Witness what the gods do after dark in the fifth volume of a stylish and contemporary reimagining of one of the best-known stories in Greek mythology, from creator Rachel Smythe.  ’You want to know about The Bringer of Death.’ It is Persephone’s birthday, and she receives the ultimate gift: Hades confesses his desire for her, leading to their first kiss. But that doesn’t necessarily make things easier for the goddess of spring, who is still in over her head in gossip-driven Olympus. Persephone feels intense guilt over the official breakup between Hades and Minthe, she is struggling to find her footing in her fast-paced job, and – worst of all – the shades of her past are slowly coming to light.  This edition of Smythe’s original Eisner Award-winning webcomic Lore Olympus features exclusive behind-the scenes content and brings the Greek pantheon into the modern age in a sharply perceptive and romantic graphic novel.  This volume collects episodes 103–126 of the No.1 WEBTOON comic Lore Olympus.

Beautiful Nightmares by K. J. Sutton, TikToc Focus, £10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94483-7.
Faeirie fantasy.  Everything Fortuna believed has been revealed as illusion and lies. Everything has changed. Now a prisoner in the Seelie Court, Fortuna discovers the game she has been playing is deadlier than she could have imagined. There’s no time for pain or healing. There is only survival.

Deadly Dreams by K. J. Sutton, TikToc Focus, £10.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94485-1.
Fortuna has made terrible sacrifices to protect those she loves. Her powers may be getting stronger but she feels broken. Collith is fighting his own demons and is further away than ever, while Laurie remains a tempting, frustrating mystery.  But Fortuna knows she must hide it all from the Court. In a world of monsters, it’s when you are most vulnerable that your enemies – new and old – start closing in.

Endless Terrors by K. J. Sutton, TikToc Focus, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-90904-3.
Billed by the publisher as perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Holly Black.  To protect the ones she loves, Fortuna has left everything behind.  She can’t let down her guard. She can’t rest. She can’t stop moving. Not if she doesn’t want her ever-growing abilities to be used as a catalyst for a monster’s entrance into the world.  Fortuna thought she knew death. She believed herself well-acquainted with betrayal. But now she stumbles upon one more secret. One more answer to a question she’s been asking for over a decade.  One more truth that might shatter her completely.

Fortuna Sworn by K. J. Sutton, TikToc Focus, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94489-9.
Fortuna Sworn is the last of her kind. Her brother has disappeared, leaving her alone. She hides among humans, spending her days working at a bar and her nights searching for him – until she catches the eye of a powerful faerie.  Collith desires Fortuna. And if she will bind herself to him, he offers something irresistible. So Fortuna leaves her safe existence behind and descends into a world of glamorous creatures and deadly power.

Restless Slumber by K.J. Sutton, TikToc Focus, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94491-2.
Fortuna’s world has been transformed. The faerie court is whispering in her head, her brother has lost touch with reality and an obstinate werewolf won’t leave her side.  And then there’s Collith: her enigmatic, beautiful, infuriating mate. She hates him, so why is he causing her such turmoil?

The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennett, Witch by Melinda Taub, Jo Fletcher Books, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-42624-3.
A witchy reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, told from the perspective of the – according to her – much-maligned youngest Bennet sister, Lydia.  Miss Lydia Bennet may be the youngest, but what she lacks in maturity and responsibility, she more than makes up for in energy, fun – and magic.  But Lydia suffers from other concerns, as well: her best-loved sister Kitty is really a barn cat, and Wickham is every bit as wicked as the world believes him to be, but what else would you expect from a demon? And if you think Mr. Darcy was uptight about dancing etiquette, wait till you see how he reacts to witchcraft. Most of all, Lydia has yet to learn that when you’re a witch, promises have power.

This Cursed Light by Emily Thiede, Hodderscape, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-70017-7.
After Divorando, Alessa returns home from a diplomatic trip. As the ship nears shore, a premonition of danger strikes… Dante is still haunted by nightmarish visions of looming attack, suffocated by the adoration of those who once loathed him, and grappling with the loss of his powers . . . without which, every kiss he steals from Alessa threatens death. Dante proposes the pair take a dangerous trip to find the long-banished ghiotte – but what they find at their destination could cost them each other – or the world.

The Third Daughter by Adrienne Tooley, Hodderscape, £14.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-399-71394-8.
The highest deity is born to Velle’s reigning queen and Elodie, the eldest daughter, loses her claim to the crown. Unexpectedly, Elodie’s mother passes away and the only way to preserve her legacy is to eliminate Elodie’s own sister. Elodie purchases poison from Sabine’s apothecary, but is mistakenly sent away with a potent vial of tears, which causes the young queen to slip into a slumber from which she will not wake. As the church hunts down the culprit, Sabine and Elodie must find a way to wake her before Elodie’s siblings learn the truth and Sabine loses her magic.

Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Torzs, Century, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-13635-7.
This follows a family tasked with guarding a trove of magical but deadly books, and the shadowy organisation that will do anything to get them back… even murder. Not all books should be opened.  Joanna Kalotay lives alone in the woods of Vermont, the sole protector of a collection of rare books; books that will allow someone to walk through walls or turn water into wine. Books of magic.  Her estranged older sister Esther moves between countries and jobs, constantly changing, never staying anywhere longer than a year, desperate to avoid the deadly magic that killed her mother. Currently working on a research base in Antarctica, she has found love and perhaps a sort of happiness.  But when she fi nds spots of blood on the mirrors in the base, she knows someone is coming for her, and that Joanna and her collection are in danger.  If they are to survive, she and Joanna must unravel the secrets their parents kept hidden from them – secrets that span centuries and continents, and could cost them their lives..

A Curse of Blood and Stone by K. A. Tucker, TikToc Focus, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94497-4.
Romeria has fled Cirilea as a traitor. Zander has sacrificed his crown to save her life, but dreads what her existence means for the future of his realm. They both know that no immortal will ever welcome her as Islor’s queen. Side-by-side as outcasts – yet with a growing distance between them – they watch as a new threat to the kingdom unfurls, one larger than they could have imagined…

A Fate of Wrath and Flame by K. A. Tucker, TikToc Focus, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94499-8.
Gifted thief Romeria steals jewels under a notorious New York City crime boss.  But when an enigmatic woman secures her services at sword point, Romeria is wrenched from this world and transported into a realm of opposing thrones, warring elven societies and elemental magic…

A Queen of Thieves & Chaos by K. A. Tucker, TikToc Focus, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-90913-5.
Romy and Zander fight to save the kingdom of Islor as its enemies close in… but will their love be strong enough to survive?

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner, Hodderscape, £8.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-529-38776-6.
The 4th book in the 'Queen’s Thief' series.  Sophos, heir to the throne of Sounis, disappears after an attempted assassination – leaving those who care for him to wonder if they will ever see him again.

Child of Earth & Sky by Menna van Praag, Transworld, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-63170-0.
The third novel in Menna van Praag's real-world fantasy about the power-wielding Sisters Grimm brings together contemporary storytelling and modern fairytale to tell a frightening, thrilling, urgent tale of life, death and motherhood for the TikTok generation.  Goldie is nearly thirty. And Luna is her daughter. Eight-years old, she is part star, part Grimm. Her father's scars marking body and her mother's powers at her fingertips, Luna is increasingly consumed by the opposing forces within her.  When Luna's teacher notices the child's scars and summons social services, Goldie, facing the very real danger that she'll lose her daughter, goes on the run. But the fates are against her, her daughter is taken into care, and the only time and place they are able to meet is at night and in the strange, haunted realm of Everwhere.  Goldie is desperate to reclaim her daughter, but she notices Luna's behaviour is becoming disconcertingly erratic. And in Everwhere, all is far from well. Fresh leaves are falling once more and Grimm girls are dying. Fearing the return of her father, Goldie stalks the shadows and glades of Everwhere, hoping to confront the killer. Then one night she is attacked… by her own child.  Calling on the help of her sister Liyana and her Tarot cards, Goldie learns that to save Luna and curb the darkness growing within her, the connection between Everwhere and our world must be severed. But to do so would mean crippling the powers of the Grimm girls throughout the world. Is this a price Goldie is willing to pay? And, more significantly, will her daughter let her…

The Kingdom of Sweets by Menna van Praag, Transworld, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-63236-3.
Bestselling author of The Queen of the Tearling, Erika Johansen journeys to a new kingdom in this standalone novel-a darkly magical take on the Nutcracker where two sisters, fated from birth, are forever changed one memorable Christmas...  Light and dark - this is the destiny placed upon Natasha and Clara, the birthright bestowed on them by their godfather, the mysterious sorcerer Drosselmeyer. Clara, the favourite, grows into beauty and ease, while Natasha is cursed to live in her sister's shadow. But one fateful Christmas Eve, Natasha gets her chance at revenge. For Drosselmeyer has returned and brought with him the Nutcracker, an enchanted present which offers entry to a deceptively beautiful world: the Kingdom of Sweets.  In this land of snow and sugar, Natasha is presented with a power far greater than Drosselmeyer: the Sugar Plum Fairy, who is also a giver of gifts . . . and a maker of dread-filled bargains. As Natasha uncovers the dark destiny laid before her birth, she must reckon with powers both earthly and magical... and decide to which world she truly belongs.

The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C. M. Waggoner, Del Rey, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94407-3.
An enchanting fantasy novel featuring a down-and-out fire witch and a young gentlewoman who join forces against a deadly conspiracy.  Dellaria Wells – petty con artist, occasional thief, and partly-educated fire witch – is behind on her rent. To make ends meet, Delly talks her way into a guard job in the city of Leiscourt, joining a team of unconventional women to protect an aristocrat from unseen assassins.  It looks like easy money and a chance to romance her confident companion, Winn – but since when did anything in Delly’s life go to plan? With the help of a necromancer, a shape-shifting schoolgirl and a reanimated mouse named Buttons, Delly and Winn find themselves facing an adversary who wields a twisted magic and has friends in the highest of places…

Unnatural Magic by C. M. Waggoner, Del Rey, £9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-94405-9.
Fantasy debut, where a brilliant young wizard and a misfit troll must race to solve a baffling mystery.  Onna can write the parameters of a spell faster than any of the young men in her village. So when the arcane academy decides it’s untoward to teach a woman magic, she sets sail for the city-state of Hexos in search of more enlightened attitudes.  Tsira has never felt at home within her troll clan. Striking out alone to find work in a human city, she stumbles on a half-dead soldier in the snow and the two form an unexpected bond.  But a string of mysterious murders draws them both into a deadly conspiracy and now Onna and Tsira must uncover who is targeting trolls before their homeland is torn apart…

A Hunter Called Night by Tim Waggoner, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58631-4.
A sinister being called Night and her panther-like Harriers stalk their quarry, a man known only as Arron. Arron seeks refuge within an office building, a place Night cannot go, for it’s part of the civilized world, and she’s a creature of the Wild. But soon, among the twisting warps of the real world the hunter soon becomes the hunted.

Black River Orchard by Chuck Wendig, Del Rey, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-10113-3.
A small town is transformed by dark magic when strange apple trees begin bearing fruit.  It’s autumn in Harrow, but something is changing in the town besides the season.  Because in that town there is an orchard, and in that orchard grows a new sort of apple: strange and beautiful, with skin so red it’s nearly black.  One bite and you will become stronger. More vital. More yourself. But soon your appetite for the apples and their peculiar gifts will keep growing – and become darker.  When the townsfolk discover the secret of the orchard, it seems that everyone is consumed by an obsession with the magic of the apples…  and what’s the harm, if it is making them all happier, more confident, more powerful?  But now the leaves are falling. The days grow darker.  And a stranger has come to town, a stranger who knows Harrow’s secrets. Because it’s harvest time, and the town will soon reap what it has sown.

Mister Magic by Kiersten White, Del Rey, £16.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-19912-3.
A new dark thriller from the Bram Stoker Award winner in millennial horror, billed by the publisher as perfect for fans of The Babadook.  After a tragic accident shut down production of the classic children’s program Mister Magic, the five surviving cast members have done their best to move on.  Known as the ‘Circle of Friends’, they have spent their lives searching for the happiness they felt while they were on the show. The feeling of belonging. And the protection of Mister Magic.  But with no surviving video of the show, no evidence of who directed or produced it, and no records of who – or what – the beloved host actually was, memories are all the former cast have.  Then a twist of fate brings the cast mates back together – though they haven’t seen each other for years, they understand one another better than anyone else.  But as the ‘Circle of Friends’ reclaim parts of their past, they begin to wonder: are they here by choice, or have they been lured into a trap?

The Night Field by Donna Glee Williams, Jo Fletcher Books, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-42267-2.
live in harmony with nature…  Pyn-Poi’s mother wants her to grow up to be the matriarch of the tribe, but Pyn-Poi would rather be out among the trees, learning how to feel when shoots are too crowded, when drooping leaves need attention.  Then something starts going wrong in The Real: when the rains come, instead of nourishment, they bring a noxious stench that’s poisoning people and plants alike. Pyn-Poi must leave everything she knows behind to try to save her people, her trees and her world.

The Navigator’s Children by Tad Williams, Hodderscape, £16.99, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-473-60334-9.
The final part of the 'Last King of Osten Ard' trilogy.  Queen Miriamele hurries to save Hayholt and capture the treacherous noble Pasevalles, but arrives to discover the traitor has escaped. And inside Tanakirú the bond between Prince Morgan and Nezeru has become something deeper and stranger than either of them could have anticipated. They journey deeper to the heart of the valley’s mystery, and come face to face with a secret that will destroy immortals and humans alike.

Whisperwood by Alex Woodroe, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, pbk, ISBN 978-1-787-58842-4.
When curious nomad Anna hears about Whisperwood, a town that’s not on any maps, that nobody goes to, and nobody comes from, she sees an opportunity to hide from her violent witch-hunting ex. But not everything is peaceful in the isolated community. A vanishing town, a gruesome funeral rite, an emergency field surgery – these surprises and more test Anna’s resolve.


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 2023

Forthcoming Non-Fiction SF &
Popular Science Books


Eve: How The Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution by Cat Bohannon, Heinemann, £25, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-15123-7.
How did wet nurses drive civilisation?  Are women always the weaker sex? Is sexism useful for evolution?  And are our bodies at war with our babies?  In Eve, Cat Bohannon answers questions scientists should have been addressing for decades. With boundless curiosity and sharp wit, she covers the past 200 million years to explain the specific science behind the development of the female sex. Eve is not only a sweeping revision of human history, it’s an urgent and necessary corrective for a world that has focused primarily on the male body for far too long. Bohannon’s findings, including everything from the way C-sections in the industrialised world are rearranging women’s pelvic shape, and the surprising similarities between pus and breast milk, will completely change what you think you know about evolution and why Homo sapiens have become such a successful and dominant species, from tool-use to city-building to the development of language.

Quantum Theory (A Concise Edition) by Niels Bohr & Max Planck, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17568-2.
Featuring two works of quantum theory from the early years of the 20th Century, representing breakthroughs in science that radically altered the landscape of modern knowledge: Quantum Theory of Line-Spectra by Niels Bohr and The Origin and Development of the Quantum Theory by Max Planck. A new, popular edition with a clear introduction.

On the Origin of Species (Concise Edition) by Charles Darwin, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17583-7.
Initially received with muted applause, Darwin’s The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection was soon recognised as the breakthrough scientific advance that explained the evidence of the world around us, the place and history of humans, the connections between environment and evolution. A new, popular edition with a clear introduction.

Special & General Relativity (Concise Edition) by Albert Einstein, Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17567-5.
Features Einstein’s core paper, Relativity, The Special & The General Theory: A Popular Exposition, which established his reputation as one of the greatest thinkers of our age. Also included are two of the lectures he gave to explain his findings in more detail, on ‘The Meaning of Relativity’.

Big Meg: The Story of the Largest, Fiercest and Most Mysterious Shark by Tim Flannery & Emma Flannery, Transworld, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-857-52953-4.
The extinct apex predator - three times the size of the largest great white shark - is brought vividly to life by the celebrated palaeontologist and environmentalist.  Imagine a ferocious marine hunter up to 20 metres long, weighing twice as much as a humpback whale and ten times more than Tyrannosaurus re. With jaws that open three metres wide, crammed with 276 serrated fangs, it can bite down with the greatest force of any animal that has ever lived. This is the Megalodon, and it once existed 3 million years ago.

Why? The Purpose of the Universe by Philip Goff, Oxford University Press, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-198-88376-0.
Why are we here? What’s the point of existence? Most of us have wondered about these questions. For some, God represents an answer. For those who are unsatisfied by traditional religion, and also by the lack of an answer to these questions in atheism, Philip Goff offers a way between the two. Through an exploration of contemporary cosmology, as well as cutting-edge philosophical research on the nature of consciousness, he argues for cosmic purpose: the idea that the universe is directed towards certain goals, such as the emergence of intelligent life.  In contrast to religious thinkers, Goff argues that the traditional God is a bad explanation of cosmic purpose. He explores a range of alternative possibilities for accounting for cosmic purpose: perhaps our universe was created by an evil or morally indifferent designer, or a designer with limited abilities. Perhaps we live in a computer simulation. Maybe cosmic purpose is rooted not in a conscious mind but in natural tendencies towards the good, or laws of nature with purposes built into them. Or maybe the universe is itself a conscious mind which directs itself towards certain goals. Goff scrutinises these options with analytic rigour, opening up a new avenue of philosophical enquiry into the middle ground between God and atheism. The final chapter outlines a way of living in hope that cosmic purpose is still unfolding, involving political engagement and a non-literalist interpretation of traditional religion.

British SF Conventions Volume 1: 1937-1951 by Rob Hansen, Ansible Editions, trdpbk, free/donation to TAFF, ISBN 978-1-916-50811-8.
This is one for British sercon trufans.  With any luck the title will be self-explanatory. As in other such fan-historical compilations, the story of these early UK conventions is told in the participants’ and observers’ own words, with explanatory and bridging commentary by Rob Hansen himself. A second, forthcoming volume will continue the saga to early 1957. Already published are 1957: The First UK Worldcon (volume three) and 1965: The Second UK Worldcon (volume five or six, yet to be determined)…  These are ideal accompaniments to the classic Brit Cit, SF fan history Then.

The Secret Lives of Molecules by Kathryn Harkup, Greenfinch, £18.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-42509-3.
An illustrated introduction to 52 of the most vital, fatal, unusual and alarming molecules that make up the world around us.  What happens when you really get under the skin of the world around you? Everything that surrounds us – and we ourselves – are made of molecules, constructed from a set of elements that can combine to form an almost limitless kaleidoscope of possibilities.  Dr Kathryn Harkup reveals the inner lives of the molecules that make up our world, ranging from the fundamental to the frivolous; via the psychedelic effects of caffeine to the deadly march of carbon dioxide emissions.

The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (Concise edition) by Isaac Newton , Flame Tree Press, £6.99 / Can$12.99 / US$9.99, pbk, ISBN 978-1-804-17564-4.
The Principia is one of the most important scientific works ever written and continues profoundly to impact on modern science. It states Newton’s Laws of Motion and Law of Universal Gravitation revealing Newton as a rare genius, revolutionizing our understanding of the world around us. A new, popular edition with a clear introduction.

Hauntings: A History of Ghosts and Where to Find Them by Neil Oliver, Bantam, £25, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-787-63634-7.
Oliver travels the British Isles to explore the history of its most haunted places and unpick why these houses, landmarks and other eerie places are so unsettling. For longer than recorded history there have been tales of spirits and of places where our hackles rise and our skin turns cold.  Oliver invokes his family's history alongside that of kings and queens past as he probes why our emotions and senses are heightened in certain locations where the separation between dimensions seems gossamer thin. Our landscape is riven with these places, creaking from the weight of the secrets they hold, the echoes of tragedy and dark deeds.

To Boldly Go Where No Book Has Gone Before: A Joyous Journey into Science by Luke O’Neill, Penguin Viking, £22, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-241-54242-2.
A history of (almost) the entirety of science from the immunologist Luke O’Neill. How did life begin? What does the warping of space time in a black hole actually look like? And what’s happening on the 4,800 exoplanets beyond our solar system? In our muddled era of conspiracy theories, fake news and groupthink, science’s only goal is truth. Like all human pursuits it can go wrong, but it has the great strength of being self-correcting. At its best, what lasts – after much deliberation, rigour and sweat – is the truth. The story of science is how we get there. Standing on the shoulders of giants, world-renowned immunologist Luke O’Neill (aka the People’s Immunologist) tells the zigzag story of how we got to this moment in human history, and what the future might hold: from figuring out how the mind really works, to space travel (for the sheer fun of it) and the discovery of extra-terrestrial life.

Walking the Bones of Britain: A 3 Billion Year Journey from the Outer Hebrides to the Thames Estuary by Christopher Somerville, Transworld, £25, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-857-52711-0.
Blows the dust off geology to tell the incredibly dramatic story of all the upheavals, volcanic explosions, sea inundations and violent quakes that have shaped our landscape, human history and our everyday lives. In his thousand-mile journey, Somerville follows the story of Britain's unique geology, travelling from the three billion year old rocks of the Isle of Lewis, formed when the world was still molten, down the map south eastwards across bogs, over peaks and past quarry pits to the furthest corner of Essex where new land is being formed by nature and man.  Demystifying the sometimes daunting technicalities of geology with humour and a characteristic lightness of touch, Somerville's book tells a story of humanity's reckless exploitation and a lemming-like surge towards self-annihilation but also shows seeds of hope as we learn how we might work with geology to avert a climate catastrophe.

Tomorrow’s Lawyer’s: An Introduction to your Future by Richard Susskind, Oxford University Press, £16.99, pbk, ISBN 978-0-192-86472-7.
For Richard Susskind, the future of legal service is neither Grisham nor Rumpole. Instead, he predicts a world of online courts, AI-based global legal businesses, disruptive legal technologies, liberalised markets, commoditization, alternative sourcing, simulated practice on the metaverse, and many new legal jobs.  This volume is a definitive and updated introduction to this future – for aspiring lawyers, and for all who want to modernize and upgrade our legal and justice systems. It offers practical guidance for everyone intending to build careers and businesses in law. And a frightening glimpse into a possible future for the rest of us.

Predicting Our Climate Future: What We Know, What We Don’t Know, And What We Can’t Know by David Stainforth, Oxford University Press, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-198-88376-0.
Stainforth goes to the heart of the climate change problem. He describes the fundamental characteristics of climate change and shows how they undermine the application of traditional research methods, demanding new approaches to both scientific and societal questions. He argues for a rethinking of how we go about the study of climate change in the physical sciences, the social sciences, economics, and policy. The subject requires nothing less than a restructuring of academic research to enable integration of expertise across diverse disciplines and perspectives.

The Amazing Editorials by Ted White, Ansible Editions, £12.50 / US$16, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-916-50802-6.
The Amazing Editorials brings together all the editorials and book reviews written by Ted White for Amazing magazine while he was editor from 1969 to 1979. For this first collected edition the SF magazine historian Mike Ashley has written a new foreword.  Ted White was editor of the science fiction magazines Amazing and Fantastic from 1969 to 1979, in which decade both publications were arguably at their best. The Fantastic Editorials collects all the often outspoken White editorials from that magazine, together with a number of in-depth book reviews and a new introduction by Ted White himself. The companion volume The Fantastic Editorials (see below) does the same for Amazing's sister magazine.

The Fantastic Editorials by Ted White, Ansible Editions, £12.50 / US$16, trdpbk, ISBN 978-1-916-50803-3.
The Fantastic Editorials brings together all the editorials and book reviews written by Ted White for Fantastic magazine while he was editor from 1969 to 1979. For this first collected edition he has written a new foreword.  Ted White was editor of the science fiction magazines Amazing and Fantastic from 1969 to 1979, in which decade both publications were arguably at their best. The Fantastic Editorials collects all the often outspoken White editorials from that magazine, together with a number of in-depth book reviews and a new introduction by Ted White himself. The companion volume The Amazing Editorials (see above) does the same for Fantastic’s sister magazine.

How to Expect the Unexpected by Kit Yates, Quercus, £20, hrdbk, ISBN 978-1-529-40867-6.
Better, accessible, mathematically informed predictions about the world around us.  Are you more likely to become a professional footballer if your surname is Ball?  How can you be one hundred per cent sure you will win a bet?  Why did so many Pompeiians stay put while Mount Vesuvius was erupting?  Ever since the dawn of human civilisation, we have been trying to make predictions about what’s in store for us. We do this on a personal level, (should I hang my laundry out to dry, or will it rain?), but on a larger scale, often for the good of our broader society (how can we spot economic downturns or prevent terrorist attacks?).  For just as long, we have been getting it wrong. From religious oracles to weather forecasters, we are subjected to poor predictions all the time. Unfortunately, the foibles of our own biology – the biases that ultimately make us human – can let us down when it comes to making rational inferences about the world around us. And that can have disastrous consequences.  This book will teach you how and why predictions go wrong, help you to spot phony forecasts and give you a better chance of getting your own predictions correct.


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 2023

General Science News


The 2023 US National Space Society Wherner von Braun Prize has gone to Eric Smith.  Eric Smith led the James Webb Space Telescope project.

Google has released its 2023 Scholar Metrics.  This release covers articles published in 2018–2022 and includes citations from all articles that were indexed in Google Scholar as of July 2023. The top science journals (as if you could not guess) are:-
            1) Nature
            2) The New England Journal of Medicine
            3) Science
            4) IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision
            5) The Lancet
            6) Nature Communications
            7) Advanced Materials
            8) Cell
            9) Neural Information Processing Systems
            10) International Conference on Learning Representations
Meanwhile, of the top science papers published between 2018–2022, two of the top three related to the then new, 2019 coronavirus outbreak in China. All three were from Nature.

European languages diverged from a common ancestor language about 8,000 years ago an analysis reveals.  Languages of the Indo-European family are spoken today by almost half of the world’s population, but their origins and patterns of spread are disputed.  A collaboration of researchers has now looked at 109 modern and 52 now-extinct from common parlance languages. Some languages have words that are the same and have the same meaning. This is 'cognacy' (shared word origins). The more shared words two languages have – the more cognacy – the closer they are and either one led to another or they came from the same common ancestor language and this in turn would have high cognacy (but not the same cognacy) with the two offspring languages.
            There are two current hypotheses as to the origin of a common ancestral language (Proto-Indo-European) and when they gave rise to more recent languages.  The first is the “Steppe” hypothesis that posits an expansion out of the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, no earlier than 6,500 years before present.  The second is the “Anatolian” or “farming” hypothesis posits that Indo-European dispersed with agriculture out of parts of the Fertile Crescent, beginning as early as about 9,500 to 8,500 years ago.
            This new analysis suggest a root age for Indo-European of about 8,120 years ago. This sits between the two traditional hypotheses but is perhaps closest to the “Anatolian” or “farming” hypothesis.  It is consistent with an ultimate homeland for Proto-Indo-European south of the Caucasus and a subsequent branch northward onto the steppe, as a secondary homeland for some branches of Indo-European entering Europe.  This new analysis chimes with separate genomic data.  (See Heggarty, P. et al (2023) Language trees with sampled ancestors support a hybrid model for the origin of Indo-European languages. Science, vol. 381.)

The rate of ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland has tripled since the early 1990s up to the late 2010s!  Satellite visual as well as satellite gravity surveys have revealed that mass loss rose from 105 gigatonnes per year between1992 and 1996 to 169.9 gigatonnes per year (gigatonne = a billion tonnes) between 1992 and 2020.  (See Otosaka, I. N. et al. (2023) Mass balance of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets from 1992 to 2020. Earth System Science Data, vol. 15, p1,597–1,616.)

Where the Earth's warming heat has gone has been identified.  One of the big questions with global warming is where has the heat gone?  An international collaboration of over three score researchers now have an answer.  They show that the Earth system from 1971 to 2020has continued to accumulate heat, with 381 ZJ (zettajoules or billion trillion joules) accumulated. The majority, about 89 %, of this heat is stored in the ocean, followed by about 6% on land, 1% in the atmosphere, and about 4% available for melting the ice sheets and glaciers.  The ocean storage is important as without it land and air warming, together with ice melt, would be worse.  (See von Schuckmann, K. et al. (2023) Heat stored in the Earth system 1960–2020: where does the energy go?. Earth System Science Data, vol. 15, p1,675–1,709.)

Global warming to top 1.5°C by 2027 is more likely than not say the UN's World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)!  The WMO say: "The chance of global near-surface temperature exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year between 2023 and 2027 is more likely than not (66%)."  This is because of the periodic El Nino of Pacific warm water that temporarily warms the planet.  Why is this important?  Well, the 2015 UN COP21 (Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) produced the Paris Accord that had a target to keep global warming below 2°C above pre-industrial level and preferable below 1.5°C. While this latest WMO report predicts it is likely we will briefly exceed this over the next half decade, as the World's drunken, meandering temperature is overall heading upwards, it is likely that if trends continue the world will fully cross the 1.5°C within a decade or two's time. To avoid this there will need to be drastic cuts of around 80% or so of emissions by 2050. If you think our political leaders can deliver this then arguably you are a rather trusting soul.  (See  World Meteorological Organisation (2023) Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update: 2023-2027. WMO, Geneva.)

The world is walking into a smart-phone sustainability disaster!  Even ignoring the carbon emissions from ever burgeoning data storage (84% of the world's energy comes from fossil fuel and 61% of electricity generation) the growth of internet use via smart-phones (smart cell phones) is unsustainable. This is because smart-phones themselves are made from undervalued elements.  A review article in the journal Nature reports that less than 1% of rare earth elements (neodymium, dysprosium, terbium, europium and dysprosium) are recycled. Yet rare earth elements are needed to make smart-phone screens shine and make them touch-sensitive. And then there are the security concerns with China being the world's largest producer (60%) which also holds 37% of global reserves. Rare earth elements are essential for many technologies, such as smart-phones, yet the value of the world market in them is just 0.18% of that in crude petroleum commodities. Why is so little recycled? The Nature article notes that there are no policies or programmes for recycling rare earth elements from products anywhere in the world.  (See  Geng, Y., Sarkis, J. & Bleischwitz, R. (2023) How to build a circular economy for rare-earth elements. Nature, vol. 619, p248-251.)

Two new studies add to global plastic pollution concerns.  Globally, some 400 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced each year . Plastics have infiltrated some of the planet’s most remote and pristine areas, as two papers published in the journal Nature show.  Veronica Nava and her colleagues have systematically assessed the extent of plastic contamination in diverse freshwater lakes and reservoirs across 23 countries, and find them to be widely contaminated with plastic.  Meanwhile, Hudson Pinheiro and his colleagues show that larger pieces of plastic litter, known as macroplastics, represent the largest share of anthropogenic debris found in shallow and deep coral reefs at 25 locations across the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian ocean basins. Even the deeper reefs, lying at depths of 30–150 metres, were found to be polluted; until now, the impact of plastics on these reefs has been little studied.  (See  Nava, V. et al (2023) Plastic debris in lakes and reservoirs. Nature, vol. 619, p317-322,   Pinheiro, H. T. et al (2023) Plastic pollution on the world’s coral reefs. Nature, vol. 619, p311-316  and the review article  Law, K. L. & Rochman, C. M. (2023) Collaborations uncover extent of plastic pollution. Nature, vol. 619, p254-5.)

Science freedom in Turkey is under threat following the re-election of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Before the election, the European University Association (EUA) in Brussels placed Turkey at the bottom of a ranked list for academic freedom in European countries. Erdogan won by 52.1% to 47.9%.  In 2016, Erdogan carried out a purge of 150,000 people who lost their jobs including over 8,500 university staff members. Turkish higher education is unique in Europe in that a university’s leadership is not in the hands of the university itself, according to the EUA.. Aspects of history and LGBTQAI+ education are now no longer taught. The clamp downs even affect bioethics work. (See Naddaf, R. (2023) Turkey’s Researchers Fear Loss of Freedom. Nature, vol. 618, 219-220.)


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 2023

Natural Science News


America's monkeys may have crossed the palaeo-Atlantic from Africa to Brazil.  A 34 million year old fossil of a new type of monkey has been found in Brazil. With this new fossil, Brazil is now known to have had three types of monkey living in the Amazon.  The Fossil part (a tooth) suggests that this monkey would have been the size of a marmoset, and would have preyed mostly on insects. Both its small size and the nature of its favourite foods might have helped the primate to survive being swept out to sea and across the ocean. Fortunately, due to continental drift, the distance between Africa and South America would have been less 30 – 40 million years ago than today. These travellers then evolved into the New World monkeys (platyrrhines) of today.  (See  Marivaux, L. et al (2023) An eosimiid primate of South Asian affinities in the Paleogene of Western Amazonia and the origin of New World monkeys. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. vol. 120 (28), e2301338120.)

Britain's first three parent child has been born.  This technique is used for those women with defective mitochondrial DNA. They can have their egg's nuclear DNA put into the egg of another woman who ova have healthy mitochondrial DNA and its own nuclear DNA removed.

A new reference human genome has been created.  When the human genome had its first draft sequence way back in 2001, and the and its complete, gap-free successor, dubbed T2T-CHM13 in 2022, the DNA was based on a single individual: an American man with European and African ancestry. Consequently, that reference genome did not reflect the genetic diversity of humanity. The new draft sequence (it is more complete but not totally complete) contains 94 genome assemblies from 47 individuals (one genome for each of the two sets – one from each parent – of chromosomes that each individual carries) from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe: it is a pangenome. Where there is no diversity, the genome is portrayed as a single sequence. Where there is a difference, these stretches of sequence is portrayed a number of times. The assembled genomes, which were generated using a combination of long-read and other sequencing technologies, are highly accurate and nearly complete, and include 119 million base pairs of sequence not included in the 2001 draft human reference genome. The work was undertaken by a large international collaboration of researchers. (See the review by McStay, B. (2023) A collective human reference genome. Nature, vol. 617, p256-7  and the main primary research paper  Liao, W-W. et al. (2023) A draft human pangenome reference. Nature, vol. 617, p312-324.)

Good news! Tree islands in palm oil plantations improve biodiversity without significantly declining plantation oil yield.  Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) production in 2022 was worth £43 billion (US$53 bn) and is grown across 20 million hectares in 49 countries. But although it is an efficient crop, supplying 40% of the global market for vegetable oil on less than 6% of the land used to produce all other plant oils, it has led to significant biodiversity loss especially in Indonesia and Malaysia.  A five year study has been conducted by German and a few Indonesian agricultural biologists of a 140-hectare site in Sumatra that included 52 tree islands of varying sizes (ranging from 25 square metres – 5 x 5 metres – to 1,600 square metres – about 125 x 125 meters). These tree islands contained six tree species found in nearby native forest.  The results show that the island's biodiversity plant and animal increased and that the plantation gained soil retention and other ecological benefits that meant that the overall plantation's production did not decrease.  This is good news and should encourage in-plantation biodiversity conservation. However, there are question marks including what will happen after 25 years, when the palms need to be cut and replanted?  (See Zemp, D. C. et al. (2023) Tree islands enhance biodiversity and functioning in oil palm landscapes. Nature, vol. 618, p316-321  and the review piece  Nasi, R. (2023) Tree islands bring benefits for oil-palm plantations. Nature, vol. 618, p239-240.)

Ultra-processed food cancer risk for women!  Global dietary patterns are increasingly dominated by relatively cheap, highly palatable, and ready-to-eat ultra-processed foods (UPFs).  Cancer is responsible for one in six deaths globally and has surpassed cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of early death in high-income countries.  UPFs contain little or no whole foods and are often energy dense, high in salt, sugar and fat, low in fibre, and liable to overconsumption. UPFs include: soft drinks, mass-produced industrial-processed breads, sweet or savoury packaged snacks, breakfast ‘cereals’, reconstituted meat products and ready-to-eat/heat foods.  This research looked at nearly 200,000 women in the United Kingdom. The study found that on average nearly 30% of food consumed by weight were UPFs.  However, some consume more UPFs than others.  The research found that for every 10% increase in average UPF consumption was associated with an overall increase in cancer on average of 2%. But, looking at specifically ovarian cancer, the risk increased by 30% and 16% in breast cancer.  (See Chang, K. et al. (2023) Ultra-processed food consumption, cancer risk and cancer mortality: a large-scale prospective analysis within the UK Biobank. eClinical Medicine, vol. 56, 101840.)

First death reported from H3N8 bird flu.  China has reported the death of a 58 year old in the southern province of Guangdong. She was the third person known to be infected with H3N8. She had an underlying health issue and a long-term history of living with live poultry. H3N8 was first detected in the 1960s in wild birds. It is known to infect dogs and horses (it has been called horse flu) but rarely infects humans.  ++++ Previously reported elsewhere this site Flu virus evolution is beginning to be elucidated.


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

The intermediate SARS-CoV-2 species between humans and bats remains elusive.  Recent work on samples from the Wuhan market suggested that Racoon dogs might have been the intermediate species.  A third study now casts doubt on this. Samples were collected from the market in the early weeks of the CoVID- 19 pandemic. The researchers found SARS-CoV-2 RNA and animal DNA but they cannot conclusively say that the animals were infected with SARS-CoV-2 – that the former and latter were from the same animal.  To be fair, the previous research did not come to firm conclusions, they looked at relative abundances in samples, but their work was suggestive. (See Lewis, D. (2023) Market samples fail to shed further light on CoVID origins. Nature, vol. 617, p233-4  and the pre-print  Bloom, J. D. (2023) Preprint at bioRxiv.

CoVID spread by air travel through hubs.  An international collaboration lead S. African and UK based epidemiologists has looked at the incidence of CoVID variants and the amount of air travel between nations. Unsurprisingly (as we have seen this before with the spread of strains of antibiotic resistance microbes), the speed of variant transfer correlated with the amount of air travel between source and outbreak.
          Their analyses reveal distinct global expansion processes for each variant of concern (VOC). The Alpha (Kent), Beta (S. African), and Gamma (Brazilian) variants co-circulated globally from November and December 2020 to June and July 2021.  As expected, Europe was a major source of the Alpha variant, with the UK contributing the highest estimated number of relative exports to the rest of the world (over 2,000, about 50% of Alpha exports).
          Between February and May 2021, Alpha spread within the Americas and Asia, and we observed viral lineage exchange between East Africa and Asia. During this time, North America acted as an overall source of Alpha, along with Europe.
          Most Beta exportations were from southern Africa, with inferred considerable Beta spread from southern Africa to western Europe. Asia is inferred as a net source of Beta along with Africa, with exports peaking after April 2021 for Asia.
          Gamma circulation was first detected in Brazil, where it caused a large wave of infection between December 2020 and March 2021 From there, Gamma was exported mainly to other South American countries (50% of Gamma exports) throughout the dissemination period . Only later, between May and June 2021, do the epidemiologists infer a few instances of Gamma spread from North America to Europe or from Europe back to the Americas.
          The global spread of Delta was characterised by early exportations from the Indian subcontinent and Russia to other regions of Asia and all other parts of the world during the first half of 2021.
          Omicron BA1 and BA2 dispersed separately. Both originated in S. Africa.  BA1 thereafter migrated around western Europe. After emerging in S. Africa, thereafter Germany, India, and the UK were the three largest exporters of Omicron BA.2.
          Late in 2021, they estimated that India contributed less than 15% of Delta exports, and South Africa over 1%–2% of Omicron dispersal. They estimate that over 80 countries had received introductions of Omicron within 100 days of its emergence, due to there being more passenger air travel at that time as well as and that variant's higher transmissibility.  (See  Tegally, H. et al. (2023) Dispersal patterns and influence of air travel during the global expansion of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. Cell, vol. 186, 1-14.)

A new CoVID variant is doing the rounds.  It seems to be descended from an Omicron (S. Africa / Botswana CoVID) subvariant called BA.2. It is called BA.2.86.  It has been linked to cases in a in a few countries, including Denmark, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. The UN's World Health Organisation has designated BA.2.86 as a ‘variant under monitoring’.  However, the BA.2.86 spike protein carries 34 changes relative to BA.2. Large numbers of spike mutations have been observed in people with long-term SARSCoV-2 infections, and it is likely that BA.2.86 emerged from one such chronic infection.  One concern is that a number of cases seem to be unconnected, and this might suggest that some convergent evolution is going on (we have previously reported on a similar discovery. This raises again concerns over the need for an omicron type vaccine.

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 (which in turn led to XBB.1.5) , BA2.75 (unofficially Centaurus), BA.3, BA.4 and BA.5) to be now known as Omicron. It in turn has led to the BA.2.86 variant.

CoVID vaccines are less effective with the obese.  UK based researchers have studied the relationship among body mass index (BMI), hospitalisation and mortality due to CoVID-19 among 3.6 million people in Scotland using the Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance of COVID-19 (EAVE II) surveillance platform.  They found that vaccinated individuals with severe obesity (BMI > 40 kg/m²) were 76% more likely to experience hospitalisation or death from CoVID-19.  They also looked at 28 individuals with severe obesity (BMI > 40 kg/m² compared to 41 control individuals with normal BMI (BMI 18.5–24.9 kg/m²). They found that 55% of individuals with severe obesity had no detectable vaccine induced immunity six months after their second vaccine dose. Neutralising capacity was restored by a third dose of vaccine but again this declined more rapidly in people with severe obesity.  (See van der Klaauw, A. A. et al (2023) Accelerated waning of the humoral response to CoVID-19 vaccines in obesity. Nature Medicine, vol. 29, p1,146–1,154.)

It seems there may be some possible CoVID vaccine side-effects, but they are very rare.  It is beginning to look like there may be some side-effects (persistent headaches, severe fatigue, and abnormal heart rate and blood pressure). These are known by some as 'long vax'. However the incidence of 'long vax' is much lower than the incidence of long CoVID.  It may be that symptoms are sometimes triggered by small fibre neuropathy, called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Confoundingly, POTS can occur in the unvaccinated, so disentangling numbers is difficult.  More research is needed.  (See  Vogel, G. and Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, J. (2023) Studies probe COVID-19 shots’ link to rare symptoms. Science, vol. 381, p18-9.)

Related SARS-CoV-2 / CoVID-19 news, previously covered elsewhere on this site, has been listed here on previous seasonal news pages prior to 2023.  However, this has become quite a lengthy list of links and so we stopped providing this listing in the news pages and also, with the vaccines for many in the developed and middle-income nations, the worst of the pandemic is over.  Instead you can find this lengthy list of links at the end of our initial SARS-CoV-2 briefing here.  It neatly charts over time the key research conducted throughout the pandemic.


And finally… A short natural science YouTube video

The natural history of the planet Mars!  A look at the time when it had a Mediterranean-sized (bigger if Mars was proportionally as large as Earth) sea.  But how did it lose this water and could there have been life on Mars?  PBS Eons examines these and other questions in this 12-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 2023

Astronomy & Space Science News


NASA gets a new Head of Science, Nicola Fox.  Originally from Hertfordshire, she graduated in physics at Imperial College before taking a master's degree in Telecommunications and Satellite Engineering at the University of Surrey in 1991. She returned to Imperial College London for her PhD in Space and atmospheric physics focussing on geomagnetic storms. She then moved the Goddard Space Flight Center in the US looking at space weather. She then joined the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as Science and Operations coordinator for the International Solar-Terrestrial Physics Science Initiative. In 2018 she moved to NASA HQ as the Head of the Heliophysics Science Division. She has twice won a NASA Group Achievement Award (1998, 2000).

Euclid takes off to help unravel dark energy.  ESA's €1.4 billion (£1.23 billion) Euclid mission has been on the drawing board since 2007 with the mission approved in 2012.  It has two components. One is weak gravitational lensing (note – not strong lensing which gives arcs of light from gravitational lensing).  The second proposal, called the Spectroscopic All-Sky Cosmic Explorer (SPACE), would exploit so-called baryon acoustic oscillations (BAOs).  However, the weak lensing survey requires visible light to make sharp images, whereas the BAO survey relies on infrared light to map more distant galaxies, whose light is “red-shifted” by the expansion of the universe.  And so Euclid's 1.2 metre mirror is very special letting infra-red light through while reflecting visible light to another instrument.  Euclid will look at galaxies up to 10 billion years ago (3.8 billion years after the Big Bang).  It should help resolve whether the Universe will end in a big crunch or rip, or expand steadily.  Along the way it will help settle the question as to the number of galaxies in the observable Universe.  Euclid was due to be launched on a Russian Soyuz, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine put paid to that. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 has now provided the launch vehicle.  (See  Clery, D. (2023) Into the dark. Science, vol. 380, p1,212 -1,215.)

Gigantic gravity waves have been detected with wavelengths of many light years.  Using beacon stars called pulsars, a decades-long effort has found space-time ripples that are light years wide.  After the historic first detection of the space-time ripples in 2015 using ground-based detectors, researchers could now have re-discovered Albert Einstein’s waves with an entirely different technique using pulsars (objects discovered by Jocelyn Bell-Burnell).  Gravity waves cause pulsars to vary their frequency.  These gravity waves are thought to be caused by orbiting pairs of massive (billions of times the mass of the Sun) black holes in the centres of galaxies.  (See  Castelvecchi, D. (2023) Monster gravitational waves spotted for the first time. Nature, vol. 619, p13-4.)

The biggest explosion ever!  The explosion is more than 10 times brighter than a supernova but, unlike a supernova – whose visibility is at most a few months – this has lasted over three years.  It was picked up by the Zwicky Transient Facility in California in 2020 but has only recently been uncovered in the data.  The event is called AT2021lwx and was at first thought to be nothing unusual as its distance was not know. However, when it was found to be 8 billion light years away and this means that it is the biggest explosion so far detected. The current preferred theory is that it was caused by a giant gas cloud thousands of times the mass of our Sun being slowly swallowed by a super massive black hole of the type found today at the centres of galaxies. (See  Wiseman, P. et al. (2023) Multiwavelength observations of the extraordinary accretion event AT2021lwx. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, pre-print.)

Betelgeuse may be the next supernova in our Galaxy.  New research, based on the star's brightness variability, indicates that the Red Giant Betelgeuse is in the late stage of core carbon burning, and is a good candidate for the next Galactic supernova. It had been thought it might be many centuries away but it could be as close as a few decades. Fortunately, Betelgeuse is hundreds of light years away (500 to 600 light years – estimates vary) so there is no risk to the supernova blowing away our Earth's atmosphere or its radiation destroying the ozone layer. Nonetheless, the supernova as bright as half a Moon, should be visible in the day time and maybe some of you who are on the young side might just witness it. In fact it may have already exploded just that the light has not reached us…! (See the pre-print Saio, H. et al (2023) The evolutionary stage of Betelgeuse inferred from its pulsation periods. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.) +++ See also the PBS Space-Time video on the safe distance from a supernova.

Move over stars' habitable zones.  When considering the possibility of extraterrestrial life (exobiology) around other stars, astronomers often use the concept of the star's 'habitable zone'. There is now a new proposal put forward by three astrophysicists and a microbiologist all of whom are based in the US. This new concept is what they call the 'photosynthetic habitable zone'. The 'photosynthetic habitable zone' is the overlap between two other zones: the 'photosynthetic zone' and the 'habitable zone'. The 'photosynthetic zone' is different from the 'habitable zone'. The former, as the researchers define it, is where Earth-biology-type oxygen generating photosynthesis can take place, while the latter is where liquid water can exist on the planetary surface.
          The photosynthesis zone is actually bigger than the habitable zone (as, for example, on Earth there are microbes that can photosynthesise while living in snow and ice). So what you need to do is to look at the overlap between the two to get the 'photosynthetic habitable zone'.
          The researchers have identified just exoplanets five that are in the photosynthetic habitable zone (PHZ) that are not tidally locked: Kepler-452b, Kepler-1638b, Kepler-1544b, Kepler-62e, and Kepler-62f, that are consistently in the PHZ. Of these, Kepler-452b seems to have conditions most like Earth. Kepler-452b was discovered in 2015. It is around 1,800 light years away (550 parsecs away) from Manchester's Festival of Fantastic Films and a decent pint of beer. It is suggested that Kepler-452b be the focus of study looking for biosignatures. However, it is a long way off.  ( See Hall, C. et al (2023) A New Definition of Exoplanet Habitability: Introducing the Photosynthetic Habitable Zone. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, vol. 948, L26.)

A temperate exo-Earth has been detected!  The planet orbits the (M6) Red Dwarf LP 791-18.  The star is located 86.4 light years (26.5 parsecs) from Earth and is also host to a sub-Neptune gas giant (LP 791-18c).  The temperate planet, LP 791-18d, is tidally locked with its Red Dwarf.  It is just a little smaller than the Earth and possibly just a little warmer but cooler on its night side to allow water condensation. The temperate exo-planet is in orbital resonance with its sub-Neptune companion which means that the temperate exo-planet LP 791-18d is in an elliptical orbit. This should result in continued tidal heating of LP 791-18d’s interior and there is probably strong volcanic activity at its surface.  (See  Peterson, M. S. et al. (2023) A temperate Earth-sized planet with tidal heating transiting an M6 star. Nature, vol. 617, p701-5.)

A super-Earth may be a super-sauna.  Researchers using the Very Large Telescope in Chile have found a super-Earth, TOI-244 b, orbiting the young Red Dwarf, GJ 1018, which is 22 parsecs (71.74 light years) away. For reasons too complicated to go into here, it is a puzzling planet not least because it orbits it star close with a period of 7.4 Earth days. This means that even though it gets a lot of its star's solar wind (even though a young star early on its main sequence, red dwarfs are prone to extreme flaring) it should not have a thick atmosphere. Yet the researchers conclude that it is an Earth-like planet with a 500 km thick (310 miles) atmosphere (for comparison Earth's atmosphere has a mean thickness of about 8 miles). Though the researchers do not go into the implications, it has been proposed that early, primordial Earth's had a thick hydrogen atmosphere which was then lost to space. The researchers do not say that TOI-244 b is such a planet but its star, GJ 1018, is a young star. The researchers do say that this planets steamy atmosphere at the ground would have temperatures of around 2,000°C and that this new population of planets warrants more study. This is a bit of an understatement as if there are Earth-like planets with very thick hydrogen atmospheres around young stars, then these atmospheres could react with the planet's primordial magma surface to produce water. When the planet cools and the hydrogen atmosphere is eroded away, this could provide this potentially Earth-like planet with water for oceans?  However, do not get too excited, it will almost certainly end up being tidally locked, and as the star warms through its main sequence, the planet may possibly be too close to be in the habitable zone.  (See  Castro-González, A. et al. (2023) An unusually low-density super-Earth transiting the bright early-type M-dwarf GJ 1018 (TOI-244). Astronomy & Astrophysics. Pre-print.)

Exo-planet TRAPPIST-1c Earth-sized planet has no atmosphere.  The James Webb Space Telescope has looked at the TRAPPIST-1 system in the mid-infra-red. It reveals a high daytime temperature of around 107°C with no heat re-distribution to the night side as would take place either with a thick, carbon-dioxide rich atmosphere or a tenth of an Earth atmosphere with pure carbon dioxide.  This is the second TRAPPIST planet found to have no significant atmosphere: last season it was found that the system's innermost planet, TRAPPIST-1b, has no atmosphere.  The suggestion is that these two planets orbit so close to their parent star that there atmosphere is eroded by its star's wind.  TRAPPIST-1c, like TRAPPIST-1b, is roughly – possibly just a little bigger than – the size of the Earth.  (See the pre-print Zieba, S. et al (2023) No thick carbon dioxide atmosphere on the rocky exoplanet TRAPPIST-1 c. Nature.)

There's a huge storm raging on Uranus.  There are storm systems at the poles of other gas giants in the Solar System, including Saturn and Neptune. Up to now, none had been definitively spotted on Uranus. But the planet is now approaching its northern summer solstice, meaning that its northern hemisphere is becoming more illuminated by the Sun and so easier to study. Now one has been spotted using the Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico. (See Akins, A. et al. (2023) Evidence of a Polar Cyclone on Uranus From VLA Observations. Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 50, e2023GL102872.)

How old are Saturn's rings?  There are two main, competing hypotheses: 1.) They are ancient and either formed with Saturn or during the late veneer, or…  2.) They are young and formed since then.  Now data has been analysed from the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) on the Cassini spacecraft, which began orbiting Saturn in July 2004 until end of mission in September 2017.  Continuous bombardment by non-icy micro-meteoroid from beyond the Saturnian system is a source non-icy material in Saturn's rings. Knowing that rate of micro-meteor accumulation in the rings and knowing how much is the non-icy component to the rings, it is possible to estimate the age of the rings.  Using CDA data European and US based astronomers estimate that the rings' age is between around 100 million and 400 million years. This estimate chimes with a previous one using a different method.  (See  Kempf, S. et al. (2023) Micrometeoroid infall onto Saturn’s rings constrains their age to no more than a few hundred million years. Science Advances, vol. 9 (19), eadf8537.)

Further evidence of near surface water on Mars. And they are in the low latitudes, away from the poles.  The evidence comes from China's Tianwen's lander – Zhurong that touch-downed last year.  It photographed bright polygonal ridges on the surfaces of hydrated salt-rich dunes of southern Utopia Planitia (planitia being a low-lying Martian plain).  This area, billions of years ago, was the site of a former ancient sea but the pictures taken show recent activity.  The researchers propose that underground, highly saline water cycles between highly saline liquid and frost snow, and that daily warming and cooling causes the surface crystals to alternate between a semi-hydrated and a freeze-dried state. The water may have originally come from frost (not rain as the atmospheric pressures are too low for pure liquid water). Substantial bodies of subterranean water has been previously deduced from remote sensing readings at the Martian poles. Subterranean saline water has also been inferred from crater slope landslips at lower latitudes.  This evidence, away from the poles and in a flat-ish, area of sand dunes, suggests that there is more water about on Mars than previously thought.  This discovery sheds light on more humid conditions of the modern Martian climate and provides critical clues to future exploration missions searching for signs of extant life, particularly at low latitudes with comparatively warmer, more amenable surface temperatures.  (See  Quin, X. et al. (2023) Modern water at low latitudes on Mars: Potential evidence from dune surfaces. Science Advances, vol. 9, eadd8868.)

Could pure-ish water cause Marian gullies. Currently much Martian water is below the surface and highly saline with salts lowering its freezing point. But could more pure water have caused surface erosion resulting in gullies that we see today?  US researchers have now modelled Mars and come to the conclusion that when Mars had a higher tilt – say, over 35° compared to the near $25° today – liquid water could exist on the surface in many areas and form gullies. This must have happened as today there are gullies where liquid water cannot exist: places where today ice sublimates straight to vapour without becoming liquid and erode slopes. However, with a higher axial tilt, Mars could have had surface liquid water as the melting of polar carbon dioxide would result in times of the year when Mars' atmosphere was thick enough for surface liquid water.
          Unlike the Earth, which has a large, axial stabilising moon (much like a high-wire walker uses a long, stabilising pole), Mars has no large moon and so its axis varies much more than the Earth's. Its tilt could easily have exceeded 35° a number of times over the past millions of years. The researchers note that this could last have been as recent as around 630,000 years ago.  (See  Dickson, J. L. et al (2023) Gullies on Mars could have formed by melting of water ice during periods of high obliquity. Science, vol. 380, p1,363–1,367.)

The Solar System might have formed 1.1 million years earlier than thought!  The age the Earth formed is usually determined by the isotopically determined age of meteorites. Calcium–aluminium-rich inclusions (CAIs) in meteorites are the oldest solids that formed in the Solar System. By convention, the age of CAIs, hence the age of the Solar System, is 4,567.3 million years.  However, new research re-examined this assumption using the aluminium–magnesium and lead–lead isotopic chronometers recorded in meteorites. This suggests that the Solar System is 1.1 million years older still. 1.1 million years might not seem much but given that the Solar System is thought to have formed rapidly, it is a significant part of its formation process.  (See  Desch, S. J. et al (2023) Statistical chronometry of meteorites. Icarus, vol. 402.)


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 2023

Science & Science Fiction Interface

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


Dimethyl sulphide (DMS) biosignature possibly discovered in exoplanetary atmosphere!  The possible detection was made by the James Webb Space Telescope in the atmosphere of K2-18b that orbits K2-18, a small red dwarf star 124 light years (38 parsecs) away. Previously, four years ago, water was discovered in its atmosphere.  DMS is a biosignature and if this detection is confirmed – and confirmation is required – then this could be the first firm evidence of life on another planet.  K2-18b is eight times heavier than Earth but is thought to be more Neptune-like than the Earth. It is also thought that it may have an ocean and that its surface is between 0-40°C in temperature.
          ++++ Previous related news elsewhere on this site includes:
  - Venus may never have been habitable researchers say
  - Possible biosignature of life on Venus has been detected
  - TRAPPIST-1b Earth-sized planet has no atmosphere…
  - Two habitable planets detected around second-coolest star found to host planets
  - There could be watery planets around red dwarf stars
  - First ever image of a multi-planet system around a Sun-like star captured
  - Giant planet pictured orbiting far from a twin star system   - The first exo-planet has possibly been detected outside of our Galaxy
  - How many alien worlds could detect our small rocky plant, the Earth?
  - A hot Jupiter's atmosphere reveals cooler origins
  - Another planet survives red giant death phase of a star
  - How many Solar system type planetary systems are there in our spiral arm? We may soon be finding out
  - Quiet star holds out prospect for life near Earth
  - European Space Agency's CHEOPS launched to study exoplanets
  - NASA's TESS finds exoplanet in habitable zone
  - NASA's TESS finds its first planet orbiting two suns
  - Two more twin sun planetary systems found
  - Rocky planets with the composition similar to Earth and Mars are common in the Galaxy a new type of analysis reveals
  - Water detected on an exo-planet large analogue of Earth
  - 2019 and the number of exoplanets discovered tops 4,000!
  - A new technique probes atmosphere of exoplanet
  - European satellite observatory mission to study exoplanet atmospheres
  - The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) to launch
  - Seven near Earth-sized planets found in one system
  - Most Earth-like planets may be water worlds
  - Earth's fate glimpsed
  - An Earth-like exo-planet has been detected
  - Exoplanet reflected light elucidated
  - Kepler has now detected over 1,000 exoplanets and one could be an Earth twin
  - and Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a cool star.
  - Winston Churchill wrote about the possibility of alien life: documents found

The record for suspended animation has been smashed by a worm revived after some 46,000 years!  Suspended animation is a common trope in science fiction that is usually applied to astronauts in SF stories so that they can travel interstellar distances. However in reality finding organisms that can do this over potentially geological timescales has been elusive.  Past work has shown that bacterial spores can survive tens of millions of years, but bacteria are very simple life forms being single celled prokaryotes. What would be really neat would be something multi-cellular surviving very many years.  Well, we have managed to revive 30,000 year old fruit tissue that had been frozen in permafrost from which whole plants were grown.  But what we really want to see is a multicellular animal survive thousands of years in suspended animation. Here too there has been some success with the resurrection of a rotifer from 24,000 year old permafrost. But rotifers are simple animals that do not even have a through-gut and only have two, not three, layers of cells.
          The latest development also involves reviving from suspended animation a species that had been buried in permafrost. Here, the species involved was a nematode worm, and a new species at that which the researchers call Panagrolaimus kolymaensis. (Panagrolaimus species have been known before, but P. kolymaensis is new.)
          The dormant P. kolymaensis was found in permafrost near a riverbank at a depth of 40 metres and some 11 metres above the river level, the river being the Kolyma River, a few miles from Cherskyn north-eastern Siberia, Russia.
          The worms were actually found in the remains of what was once a burrow of Arctic gophers (Citellus species). The burrow also contained other organic material which the researchers used to radiocarbon date the burrow. They found it to be 44,315 years old (give or take nearly half a century of experimental error). The previous record for reviving a nematode worm in the wild was after only about 25 years of being frozen in Antarctic moss. The record in the lab was 39 years of a dried worm in a herbarium. So this 46,000 year old discovery smashes both those records!
          The researchers did some further work that suggests that the mechanisms Panagrolaimus kolymaensis uses to survive suspended animation are similar to that by another nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans. C. elegans is a workhorse species for biologists working with nematodes. (It has even been used to elucidate why we mammals get the canηabis munchies.)
          This work is also remarkable in another way. During Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, this research was conducted by Russians together with western Europeans from Germany, Britain, Switzerland and Ireland. Two Russians and a German conceived the work. (See Shatilovich, A. et al (2023) A novel nematode species from the Siberian permafrost shares adaptive mechanisms for cryptobiotic survival with C. elegans dauer larva. PLOS Genetics, vol. 19 (7), e1010798.)

Artificial intelligence (AI) experts and leading scientists warn that AI could wipe out the human race!  Stopping AI from wiping out humanity should be a global priority say the Center for AI Safety in a statement supported by 300 experts including the CEO of Google deep Mind and the former President of the Royal Society, Sir Martin Rees. Physicist Prof Stephen Hawking has warned that AI could become a real threat to humanity.

One trope of SF is that electronic processing will continue to improve. Another is of the 'Singularity' when computers will program themselves using novel techniques we humans do not understand. Relating to both these is a recent development.  Computers will continue to get more powerful and their power will also increase independent of their size. This last springs from Moore's Law (conceived in 1965 by Gordon Moore) that states that the processing power of chips doubles roughly every two years.  Of course, such doubling in processing power cannot continue indefinitely. Yet, to date Moore's Law has held.  This has been due to developments in electronic chips (such as new doping of chips (2015) and using carbon nanotubes as semi-conductors (2019)).  But, again, such improvements in chips cannot continue indefinitely.  As a consequence, instead of chip size improvements, in 2019 the industry created a new road map that looked at other options including better chip architecture and the architecture of networks as well as the efficiency of programs.  The latest news relates to this last. Researchers have now used an artificial intelligence to improve a computer program without any training.
          Researchers largely based at DeepMind, London, have used an artificial intelligence to create more efficient code. Their AI has improved the efficiency with which the C++ programming language sorts items in a list: this is a common programming task.  Further, the AI system can improve the code without any previous knowledge of the problem itself.  The researchers developed a game for the AI to play, giving the AI a 'reward' signal when things were improved.  This new technique does not rely on training the AI with a huge amount of data – the way AI has been used to improve code up to now.
          Not only does this new development improve the efficiency of coding, it is a new way that AI can generate new coding by itself without humans.  We are one step closer to the Singularity.  (See the primary research  Mankowitz, D. J. et al. (2023) Faster sorting algorithms discovered using deep reinforcement learning. Nature, vol. 618, p257-263  and the review piece  Solar-Lezama, A. (2023) AI learns to write sorting software on its own. Nature, vol. 618, p240-1.)

Artificial intelligence (AI) generates a science paper from raw data.  Two scientists have produced a research paper in less than an hour over lunch with the help of ChatGPT.  They downloaded a publicly available data set from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System on 250,000 people's diabetes status, fruit and vegetable consumption and exercise regimen.  By the end of lunch, ChatGPT had generated a clearly written manuscript with solid data analysis ('The Impact of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Physical Activity on Diabetes Risk among Adults'). But the paper was not perfect: for example, it claimed it was groundbreaking and 'addresses a gap in the literature'. Such terms are common in medium-to-high citation ranking papers, but was not appropriate in this case.  (See  Conroy G. (2023) Scientists used ChatGPT to generate a whole paper from data. Nature, vol. 619, p443-4.)

The leading multidisciplinary science journal Nature will not use AI to generate images or text unless the articles are specifically about AI.  This new policy comes in response to the increase in the sophistication and use of artificial intelligence (AI).  There has been an explosion of content created using generative AI tools such as ChatGPT and Midjourney.  Apart from in articles that are specifically about AI, Nature will not be publishing any content in which photography, videos or illustrations have been created wholly, or partly, using generative AI, at least for the foreseeable future.  Artists, filmmakers, illustrators and photographers from whom Nature commissions and work will be asked to confirm that none of the work they submit has been generated or augmented using generative AI.  Providing that there is full disclosure, Nature will be allowing the inclusion of text that has been produced with the assistance of generative AI: this must be done with appropriate caveats.  The use of such large language model (LLM) tools needs to be documented in a paper’s methods or acknowledgements section, and Nature expects authors to provide sources for all data, including those generated with the assistance of AI.  (See  Editorial (2023) Why Nature will not allow the use of generative AI in images and videos. Nature, vol. 618, p214.)

A USA neural nertwork firm is seeking for Artificial Intelligence (AI) output to be copyrightable.  The neural network firm Imagination Engines argues that AI should be acknowledged “as an author where it otherwise meets authorship criteria” and that works generated completely and solely by artificial intelligence should be protected by copyright law.  This runs counter to a US Copyright Office statement that Artificial Intelligence produced artwork cannot be copyrighted.

Search engines do not make people believe in fake news – people do!  Most SF fans know that science fiction is by definition 'fiction' and that science fact is fact.  However, the early 21st century has seen a rise in fake news: QAnon conspiracy, vaccines cause autism, 5G roll out harms health, scientists are faking global warming which is not happening as evidenced by a small band of plucky, multi-billion dollar fossil fuel companies… etc.  So, given the internet amplifies false beliefs, the question arises as to whether search engines are causing people to believe in fake news and fictional science?
          So step up a small team, of largely Boston (US) based researchers, who conducted a two-part study pairing surveys with both exposure and engagement on Google Search during the 2018 and 2020 US elections.  They invited participants to complete a survey and voluntarily install their customised browser extension with informed consent.  They then collected Browser Histories by accessing the API that is built in to Chrome and Firefox. For hundreds of participants they collected hundreds of thousands of Google searches (that threw up many millions of URLs) and follow-ons (what the participants clicked on within the searches).  They were able to divide US internet surfers into two categories: Democrat and Republican. They also sub-divided those identifying with a party into: strong, not strong, and lean (leans could be considered independent with a leaning to one party or another – in other words floating voters.  They built custom browser extensions in to collect several types of digital trace data that would enable them to compare the URLs participants were shown on Google Search (exposure), the results they followed after that Google Search exposure (follows) and the URLs they engaged with on the web in general (overall engagement)…
          The results showed that search engines searches typically threw up both reliable and fake news in a search.  However, the click through (the follow-ons) for those identifying strong Republicans and overall engagement (what they looked at next) to fake and unreliable news was typically more than double than independent/lean (floating voter) identifiers. Strong Democrats were broadly (but not exactly) on a par with independents and less likely to click through and engage with fake news.
          The results strongly suggest that while Google searches throw up both reliable and unreliable news/science results, Republicans far more often chose to click on results that lead to fake news.  In other words, Google searches gives both links to reliable and unreliable news links, but that people choose to follow that which chimes with their pre-existing beliefs.
          More research like this is desperately needed especially as the online environment is rapidly changing.  This last not least includes the rapid rise in the popularity of TikTok and its adoption as a search engine by younger audiences and the emergence of powerful language models such as ChatGPT that do generate believable falsehoods (hallucinate).  (See the primary research  Robertson, R. E. et al. (2023) Users choose to engage with more partisan news than they are exposed to on Google Search. Nature, vol. 618, p342-8  and the review piece  Mustafaraj, E. (2023) People, not algorithms, choose partisan news. Nature, vol. 618, p245-6.)

One SF trope is that of planetary doom, but in reality we really are headed that way and, indeed, we are halfway there!  Yes, we all think we know this, but do you know of, or remember, the Sustainable Development Goals?  The UN came up with these in 2015 and they are all meant to be met by the year 2030. This means that now (the year 2023) we are halfway there and it looks likely that none of the 17 goals and just 12% of the 169 targets will be met! As a Nature editorial put it: "There is no planet B, yet our best chance of steering humanity onto a more sustainable course is heading for the rocks".  (Anon. (2023) We must act now to save sustainability. Nature, vol. 618, p647.)

Could we find alien spacecraft using gravity wave detectors?  This is the question posed by a small international collaboration of astronomers.  We first detected gravity waves back in 2015 and the detectors went on to discover a new class of black hole.  So, could they detect a massive accelerating alien space craft?  The trouble is that the space craft really news to be BIG for such detection to work.  The researchers name such hypothetical craft RAMA (Rapid And/or Massive Accelerating spacecraft).  The downside is that these craft have to be really massive, with the mass of Jupiter!  The upside is that current gravity wave detection technology could detect such accelerating craft anywhere in the Galaxy.  The upside is that current SETI strategies and technology can only detect civilizations around one ten millionth (a few ten thousand) of the stars in our galaxy whereas current gravity wave detection technology could detect RAMA craft anywhere in the Galaxy.  Further, gravity wave detection on the drawing board and currently being built, will be about 100 times more sensitive. (See the pre-print  Sellers, L. et al. (2023) Searching for Intelligent Life in Gravitational Wave Signals Part I: Present Capabilities and Future Horizons. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.)
          Meanwhile physicist Matt O'Dowd looks at this paper over at PBS Space-Time. In his explanatory video he says: "Whenever we open a new window on the universe, we discover things that no one expected. Our newfound ability to measure ripples in the fabric of space-time – gravitational waves – is a very new window, and so far we have seen a lot of wild stuff. We have observed black holes colliding, and their oddly high masses challenges our understanding of black hole formation and growth. We’ve seen colliding neutron stars that have forced us to rewrite our ideas of how many of the elements of the periodic table get made. But what else might be hiding in the ripples of space-time? Oh, I know: how about the gravitational wakes caused by planet-sized alien spacecraft accelerating to near light speed...."  You can 16-minute video here.

Mobile (cell) phone towers might betray human civilisation to nearby (within 10 light years) extraterrestrials.  British and Mauritius radio astronomers have calculated that aliens equipped with a Green Bank Telescope equivalent could not  detect the Earth's mobile (cell) phone tower emissions. However, a hypothetical observer located at Barnard star (about 6 light years away), would spatially resolve the Sun and Earth with an L-band interferometer of baseline length 100 km. In this case an interferometer with sufficient sensitivity, would be able to detect a mobile leakage signal independently from the solar radio background which would also be resolved. The researchers plan to calculate the detestability of the more powerful 5G towers as well as emissions from radar and satellite communication systems (that is Earth to satellites and not the other way around). (See  Saide, R. C. (2023) Simulation of the Earth’s radio-leakage from mobile towers as seen from selected nearby stellar systems. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, vol. 522, p2,393 – 2,402.) ++++ It should be noted that the that if aliens had a version of the now defunct Arecibo telescope and planetary radar then it could detect a similar device at a distance of 30 light years, or 300 light years if targeted. (Regis, E. ed. (1985) Extraterrestrials: science and alien intelligence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.)

David Attenborough is Brits choice to represent Earth to an extraterrestrial civilisation. The National Geographic polled British 2,000 adults to find out who they think should be a representative for humans in the hypothetical scenario of aliens inviting us to join a sort of Galactic Federation (a made-up alliance of extra-terrestrial civilisations within the Milky Way).  The top representatives revealed by the poll starts off well with (in order): 1. Sir David Attenborough;  2. Professor Brian Cox; and 3. Barack Obama. However the next less popular choices some may find debatable: 4. Elon Musk and 5. Boris Johnson.

New butterfly genus named after Lord of the Rings' Sauron.  The new genus will be called Saurona because the black rings on the insect's orange wings reminded them of the all-seeing eye described in J. R. R. Tolkien's books. The Natural History Museum in Kensington, London, hopes the unusual title will draw attention to the species and help generate more research.  Saurona triangular and Saurona aurigera are the inaugural members. They are not the first animals to be named after Sauron. The villain's eye has also been referenced in the names of a dung beetle, a frog and a dinosaur.

New spider species named after Marvel Venom and its actor, Tom Hardy.  The newl discovered Australian spider has distinctive black spots on it abdomen reminiscent of Venom's head in the 2018 film.  Its scientific name is Venomius tomhardyl.

Mind reading technology – or pdeudo artificial telepathy if you will – develops further!  We already have thoughts-to-text writing technology and now two teams of researchers have developed brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) that translate neural signals into text or words spoken by a synthetic voice. The BCIs can decode speech at 62 words per minute and 78 words per minute, respectively.  (See  Naddaf, M. (2023) Brain-reading devices turn thoughts into speech. Nature, vol. 620, p930-1,  Willett, F. R. et al (2023) A high-performance speech neuroprosthesis. Nature, vol. 620, p1,031-6  and  Metzger, S. L. et al (2023) A high-performance neuroprosthesis for speech decoding and avatar control. Nature, vol. 620, p1,037-1,046.)

Is mind-reading technology becoming sufficiently advanced to be a problem?  This is the question posed in a Nature article (Reardon, S. (2023) Mind-reading machines are here: is it time to worry? Nature, vol.617, p236.).  Researchers have developed the first non-invasive method of determining the gist of imagined speech, presenting a possible communication outlet for people who cannot talk.  Research at the University of Texas (Austin, USA) combined functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a non-invasive means of measuring brain activity, with artificial-intelligence (AI) algorithms. They got three volunteers to lie in an fMRI scanner and recorded their brain activity while they listened to podcasts. The researchers then developed an encoded map of how each individual’s brain responds to different words and phrases.
        The thing is that such technology could eventually. be used as a kind of polygraph lie-detector. There are though problems. First, it is not 100% accurate and while the gist of what is being thought can be decoded, there are ambiguities. Second, currently it is easy to fool by thinking of something else other than what is being listened to. And third, each individual has to be mapped and train the AI: there is not one single thought brain wave that translates to a word for all humans. Nonetheless, it is early days and it is not difficult to see where this technology is going. ( You can see the primary research here  Tang, J. et al (2023) Semantic reconstruction of continuous language from non-invasive brain recordings. Nature Neuroscience, vol. 26, p858-866.)

Mind reading technology is advancing so fast that we need new ethics.  This is the conclusion of neuroscientists this summer at an UNESCO meeting in Paris. The technology is growing fast and we are beginning to be able to decode the thoughts of people thinking or hearing words (see the previous item above). Two years ago we reported on thought-to-words technology. Among the ideas being discussed is that of 'neurorights' those that protect against third parties being able to access and affect a person’s neural activity. It could be that the development of neurotechnology ethics will be parallel the ethics being developed around that other new technology, that of artificial intelligence.  (Drew, L. (2023) How Mind-Reading Machines Challenge Human Rights. Nature, vol. 620, p18-9.)

John Cleese says Life of Brian scene won’t be cut for 'modern' sensitivities.  He says it was “misreported” that he was planning to cut the “Loretta” scene for an upcoming stage adaptation of the religious satire film. Instead, he said he has “no intention” of removing it.  The scene in question features a male character declaring that he wants to be woman named “Loretta,” and wants to have a child. Cleese’s character tells the man that the notion is ridiculous, while another suggests that they all advocate for his right to childbearing.  “I want to be a woman. … It’s my right as a man,” the character claims “I want to have babies… It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.” After Cleese’s protest, the character snaps, “Don’t you oppress me!”

People think the world is in moral decline! But this is an illusion!  SF, like much genre fiction, is replete with villains (eg. Blofeld) anti-heroes (eg. The Stainless Steel Rat) and even societies (eg. Brave New World) without morals. But in the real world, research has shown that most people think that folks' morals have declined over the years. Yet recent research has also shown this to be an illusion!  In a series of studies, using both archival and original data (n = 12,492,983), researchers show that people in at least 60 nations around the world believe that morality is declining and that they have believed this for at least 70 years.  But the researchers also show that people’s reports of the morality of their contemporaries have not declined over time, suggesting that the perception of moral decline is an illusion!  This illusion has implications for research on the misallocation of scarce resources, the underuse of social support and social influence.  (See  Mastroianni, A. M. & Gilbert, D. T. (2023) The illusion of moral decline. Nature, vol. 618, p782-9.)

India removes key science topics from its schools' curricula.  Changes to school science teaching in India have resulted in the deletion of the periodic table, explanations of evolution and electromagnetism, and discussions about the sustainable use of natural resources from the textbooks used by children aged 14–16.  The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the government-funded but operationally autonomous body tasked with producing India’s textbooks, has not discussed the changes with parents, teachers or researchers. These will affect more than 38 million children.  India has begun to show signs of irrationality and extreme religiosity, reminiscent of what happened in parts of the United States earlier and even now. Opposition to evolution in India is relatively recent, influenced in part by notions of intelligent design.  The suspicion is that the changes are politically motivated.  An editorial in the journal Science opines that not teaching evolution is an injustice.  (See  Shashidhara, L. S. & Amitabh, J. (2023) Not teaching evolution is an injustice. Science, vol. 380, p1,303.)

The US College Board has reportedly been caught out lying about not bowing to political pressure. SF political dystopias are replete with scenarios of authoritarian governments lying, the classic example being Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Yet it could happen earlier in the information food chain with the way subjects are taught at school.  In the US, the College Board is a non-profit organisation that oversees pre-college school curricula and exams. Changes were made to the curriculum of a course in African American studies. Earlier, Florida governor Ron DeSantis and other conservatives complained that the curriculum promulgated liberal orthodoxy. To the consternation of academics, the Board then released a revised version making the parts the Senator complained about optional rather than compulsory core components of the course. The Board stated that the alterations were made through usual processes and not due to political pressure. Now, e-mails have leaked that contradict that claim. Professor Nishani Frazier (University of Kansas) called the usual process claim a “blatant lie”. While this issue nominally affects the humanities it is just as relevant to the sciences. Things like Darwinian evolution and human-induced climate change are controversial to some on the right of the US political spectrum. If the Board lied and bowed to political pressure in the humanities, then what is to stop it doing similar in the sciences? (See Thorp, H. H. (2023) The College Board can’t be trusted. Science, vol. 380, p6,644.)

Tik-Tok staff have been playing Orwell's Big Brother watching you by spying on a journalist.  London-based journalist Cristina Criddle was told by the Chinese social media platform Tik-Tok that some of its staff had been using her cat's Tik-Tok account to track her location in a bid to find out which whistle-blowing Tik-Tok staff she was meeting. She had used her mobile (cell) phone to create her cat's account and so Tik-Tok were using its geo-location to see if it matched with the geo-locations of its staff in a bid to find out who it was whistle-blowing. Tik-Tok has repeatedly assured users that it does on use the platform to spy on its users and this spying contradict European GDPR data protection safeguards (the UK had adopted GDPR). The staff responsible have reportedly been fired. Western users' data is never accessed or stored inside China, Tik-Tok says. The staff responsible for the data breach of Cristina and a some of other Western journalists were, they say, fired for misconduct.

Smart clothing – that is, not 'neat' but, 'clever' clothing – is a minor SF trope.  In terms of SFnal clothing, space-suits are positively mundane, but the genre offers much more from the techno-suits of super-heroes to the stillsuits of Dune.  Now there is a new, electrically-controlled fabric that can vary its heat – infra-red – transmission that could be used to create clothing with abilities not too dissimilar to those, say, found in Iain Banks' 'Culture'.  US engineers and applied physicists have created this fabric they call Wearable Variable-Emittance (WeaVE).  To make the material flexible, the authors used kirigami principles, which entail cutting a 2D surface and then folding it into 3D patterns. The polymer can either emit heat or provide insulation depending on the voltage applied to it. Here, the voltage needed is really small, less than one volt, so no large batteries are required.  The material enables wearers to experience the same skin temperature at ambient temperatures from 17.1°C to 22.0°C: that's almost a 5°C range. No doubt we will get even better smart fabrics in the future… (See the brief summary of this research in Nature and the primary research Chen, T-H. et al (2023) A kirigami-enabled electrochromic wearable variable-emittance device for energy-efficient adaptive personal thermoregulation. PNAS Nexus, vol. 2, p1-10.)

How far from an X-ray-luminous supernovae do you have to be to be safe?  A small collaboration of US astrophysicists largely based at the University of Illinois have calculated the threat distance of a special type of supernovae – X-ray-luminous supernovae.  These are normal supernovae that take place in a region of space with a more concentrated interstellar medium: they take place in a part of space rich in interstellar gas. The sounding gas absorbs cosmic ray and re-emits x-rays for hundreds (maybe thousands) of years after the supernovae. Such a supernovae could deplete our atmosphere's ozone at much greater distances than that for regular supernovae.  This depletion could cause some surface species and shallow marine species to go extinct.  The bottom line is that we would need to be at least 50 parsecs (around 150 light years) away.  (See  Brunton, I. R. et al (2023) X-Ray-luminous Supernovae: Threats to Terrestrial Biospheres. Astrophysical Journal. vol. 947, 42 (17pp).)


And to finally round off the Science & SF Interface subsection, here are some short videos…

The Fermi Paradox: Searching For Dyson Spheres.  Some may be rather sceptical that a long-lived, advanced technological civilisation will end up constructing big dumb object even if they are great fun concepts to explore in SF. Many SF fans love Bob Shaw's Orbitsville and Niven's Ringworld. Long-lived alien civilisations thinking big will also think long-term because the structures are a huge, long-term investment (as well as because their civilisation is… er… long-lived). Here, there are better and more effective strategies to ensure a civilisation's thriving long-term. Yet some scientists do take big dumb objects with seriousness (cf. the recent grabby aliens discussion – check out the video link within the afore link). Given that, how would we set about detecting, say, something like a Dyson sphere?  Over the summer, Isaac Arthur took a deep dive into considering how we may spot these objects as part of a SETI strategy and went on to ponder as to whether it would be possible for an advanced civilisation to hide their Dyson sphere from us…
          Many believe civilisations which survive the challenges of technology will inevitability build Dyson Spheres encompassing their entire sun. So how do we find these mega-structures if they exist?  You can see the 38 minute video here

Doing a Stephen Baxter – Can we move the Earth across the Universe?  Interstellar travel is horrible-what with the cramped quarters of your spaceship and only the thin hull separating you from deathly cold and deadly cosmic rays. Much safer to stay on here Earth with our gloriously habitable biosphere, protective magnetic field, and endless energy from the Sun. But what if we could have the best of all worlds?  No pun intended. What if we could turn our entire solar system into a spaceship and drive the Sun itself around the galaxy? Well, we don't know if we definitely can, but we might not not be able to…!  You can see the 13-minute episode of PBS Space Time here (which promotes Newton's 3rd Law to 2nd place – whoops).

Could higher dimensional aliens exist?  Could there be universes with more than 3 Dimensions? And if so, could life exist there? If there were then defending ourselves from them would be difficult as we would have to fire a missile at right angles to reality…!  You can see the 30-minute episode of Science and Futurism with Isaac Arthur 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 2023

Rest In Peace

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


Martin Amis, the British writer, has died aged 73.  After graduating in English from Oxford in 1971, Amis wrote reviews of science fiction novels under the nom deplume 'Henry Tilney' in a column for the Observer newspaper.  Though a writer of much else, his most famous genre contribution is the novel Time's Arrow: or The Nature of the Offence (1991) which was short-listed for the Booker Prize. He also wrote the screenplay for the film Saturn 3 (1980) as well as a guide to arcade videogames of the 1970s and 1980s, Invasion of the Space Invaders.

Jean Argles, the World War II code breaker, has died aged 97.  With Patricia, she was half of the last surviving pair of serving wartime sisters. For decades they had never spoken of their work on German messaging, even to each other, because they had signed the Official Secrets Act. Both sisters, from Lancashire, became fluent in German after their family took in Austrian Jewish staff in the late 1930s. After the war broke out in 1939, Patricia, then aged 18, was posted to top-secret listening stations along the British coastline where she intercepted German shipping radio. Jean, now 95, landed a secretive role as Code & Cipher Officer in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and, aged 18, she was posted to Cairo, before moving on to Italy to support allied agents and aid partisan efforts against the Nazis. Neither sister knew what the other had been doing until one asked the other and then both realised that they both had been working intercepting German messages.

Michael A. Banks, the US writer and editor, has died aged 72. His commissioning editorial work included that for Baen Books and Harlequin. He wrote several non-fiction books of which of genre interest is Understanding Science Fiction (1980).

Shelley Belsky, the US fan, has died aged 68. She had spent part 14 years of her life in Canada before returning to the US in the 1990s. A member of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, she resided in the Milwaukee area and often attended Balticon. She is noted for being a founder of Hexacon, chairing at least Hexacon 1 in 1979 and Hexacon 4 in 1982.

Bard Bloom, the US author, has died aged 60. He was a maths graduate who went on to specialise in computer science and was for a while a professor of computer science at Cornell University. He his noted for his fantasy stories especially those as part of the 'World Tree' universe. His fantasy novels often featured dragons.

Ion Doru Brana, the Romanian translator, has died aged 80. She translated the works of genre authors such Harlan Ellison, Philip José Farmer, Frank Herbert (Dune and sequels), George R.R. Martin and Cordwainer Smith.

Juleen Brantingam, the US short story SF writer, has died aged 80. Her first story was published in 1979.

Donald Brown, the US embryologist, has died aged 91. He was one of the founders of molecular embryology. He is arguably best noted for discovering that the nucleoli part of the cell's nucleolus was responsible for making ribosomal RNA (rRNA). Indeed, his rRNA genes were the first eukaryotic cell genes to be cloned.

Anthony Bryceson, the British clinician, has died aged 88. He was a lecturer and professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. He specialised in tropical diseases with arguably a special interest in leishmaniasis. He contributed to ground-breaking research on meningitis, pneumonia, malaria, rabies, sleeping sickness, onchocerciasis, peri-partum cardiac failure, snakebite and other diseases.

Chris Callahan, the US fan, has died aged 78.  He was active in Washington Science Fiction Association. Among much else, she was a staff member on the 1998 Baltimore Worldcon.

Marty Cantor, the US fan, has died aged 88.  He was active in Los Angeles area fandom. His fanzine (with Robbie Bourget with whom from 1983 he had a 16 year marriage), Holier Than Thou, was short-listed for a Hugo 'Best Fanzine'' three times. He was (with Robbie Bourget) elected DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegates to Aussiecon II, the 43rd SF Worldcon in Melbourne in 1985.  He was recognised for his regional fan contributions by LA fandom with the Evans-Freehafer (LA SF Society’ service award).

Maths Claesson, the Swedish fan and author, has died aged 64. He was a fanzine editor and author of the 'Linux' Young Adult SF book series.

Valer¡e Cοwie, the British clinician, researcher and consultant psychiatrist, has died aged 99.  She specialised in genetic disorders in the young. She co-authored a number of books including with her mentor Eliot Slater The Genetics of Mental Disorders (1971) and Delinquency in Girls (1968) co-written with her husband John and again Eliot Slater.

Carl Davis CBE, the US born British composer, has died aged 86. He mainly composed music for television and film. Arguably his most famous theme was for The World at War (1973) documentary series for Thames Television. His television genre and science-related work included that for: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1982), The Day the Universe Changed (1985). He composed the music for the rerelease of the silent film of The Phantom of the Opera (1925). His genre film music included that for I, Monster (1971) and Frankenstein Unbound (1900). He also composed the music for the theatrical musical Alice in Wonderland (2005) and The Mermaid (2011).

Shahzada Dawood, the British Pakistani businessman, has died aged 48 with his 19-year old son, Suleman, in a submersible implosion en route to the wreck of the Titanic. Of genre relevance, he was a trustee of the SETI Institute in the US.

Frank Dobson, the British comics fan and dealer, has died. He founded the first British comics adzine, Fantasy Advertiser, in 1965. (In 1970 the editorial reigns were passed to Dez Skin and Paul McCartney (the fan, not the musician). After a spell in Australia, he returned to London in 1975 to open the Weird Fantasy comic shop in New Cross. This later became Dez Skinn’s Quality Comics.

John R. Douglas, the Canadian editor, has died. He co-founded the Ontario Science Fiction Club (OnSFic) in 1966. He worked for Avon and Harper Prism, among other publishing houses. He was married to fellow fan and editor Ginjer Buchanan. Earlier this year he garnered the World Fantasy Award For Lifetime Achievement. He was for a while editor of the SF Chronicle.

Edward Fredkin , the US physicist, computer scientist, has died aged 88. He wrote the assembler language called FRAP (Free of Rules Assembly Program, alsosometimes called Fredkin's Assembly Program), and its first operating system.  He invented the first modern Interrupt system, which Digital called the "Sequence Break" during a short career in the computer industry. He returned to academia and was a professor of physics at Boston University for six years. His interests in computing included reverse computing and he co-developed the Fredkin and Toffoli gate. He was also interested in artificial intelliegence especially as applied to driverless cars. In physics he is known for championing the idea that the Universe is a giant, quantum computer. For many years this was considered an eccentric idea not worthy of serious consideration. However in recent years it has gained some traction as it chimes with notions such as the holographic universe. It should be noted that the notion of the Universe being a quantum computer is not the same thing as the Universe is the product of a computer programme.

William David Friedkin, the US film director, has died aged 87. He is arguably best known for the crime thriller film The French Connection (1971), which won five Oscars. In genre terms he is best known for The Exorcist (1973) and The Guardian (1990). His genre related documentaries are Fritz Lang Interviewed by William Friedkin (1974) and The Devil and Father Amorth (2017). The latter resonates with The Exorcist.  He also made The Twilight Zone episode 'Nightcrawlers' (1985) and the Tales from the Crypt episoded 'On a Deadman's Chest' (1992). Of a score of unrealised projects over the years were a film adaptation of Robin Cook's novel Brain and a 1970s film The Devil's Triangle a UFO thriller that was to star Marlon Brando , Steve McQueen and Charlton Heston.

John Bannister Goodenough, the US physicist and materials scientist, has died aged 97.  He was a pioneer of the development of the first solid-state random access memory (RAM) devices for computers.  In the 1970s, he predicted the existence of high-temperature superconductivity above 77 kelvin.  In 1980 he invented the rechargeable lithium battery, which is used in myriad devices, from electric cars to mobile phones, and which is central to decarbonising much of the world’s energy system.  Between 1976 and 1986 he spent a decade at Oxford University in England and it was there he invented he rechargeable lithium battery. This garnered him a share in the 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry: to date he is the oldest person ever to have been awarded the Nobel Prize.  Previously, in 2013, he was presented with the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama. Britain's Royal Society of Chemistry annual presents a John B. Goodenough Award in his honour.

Robert Gottlieb, the US editor, has died aged 92.  Over his career he worked at the publishers Simon & Schuster and Alfred A. Knopf as well as The New Yorker magazine.  Authors whose books he commissioned include: John le Carré, Doris Lessing; Michael Crichton and Ray Bradbury.

Evelyn Boyd Granville , the US mathematician, has died aged 99.  She was the second African-American woman to receive a PhD in mathematics from an American university. She worked on various projects for the Apollo programme including celestial mechanics and trajectory computation.

Yevhen Gulevich, the Ukrainian culture academic, has died defending his nation against Russian invasion. He was a major figure in detailing the history of Ukrainian art, explaining the origins of Ukrainian culture, and in mapping that history onto modern Ukraine. He was the editor of an Ukrainian magazine and frequently in demand for his skill at translating books written in other languages into Ukrainian including Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.  He probably died all the way back at the end of December (2022), but his body could not be found, and his fellow soldiers maintained some level of hope that he was still out there. He was finally declared dead in April (2023). It is thought he died in the battles near Bakhmut.

Lee Harding, the Australian SF author, has died aged 86.  In 1952, aged just fifteen, he helped co-found (with Merv Binns, Race Mathews, Dick Jenssen among others) the Melbourne SF Club. Having written short stories since the 1960s, his first novel was Fallen Spaceman (1977) followed by The Weeping Sky (1977) Displaced Person (1979). He edited the anthologies Beyond Tomorrow (1976), The Altered I: An Encounter with Science Fiction (1976) and Rooms of Paradise (1978).  He won two Ditmar Awards for “Dancing Gerontius” (1970) and “Fallen Spaceman” (1972). In 2006 he was honoured with the A. Bertram Chandler Memorial Award for outstanding achievement in Australian SF, presented by Australian SF Foundation.

Harald zur Hausen, the German virologist, has died aged 87.  He proved that human papillomaviruses (HPVs) can cause cervical cancer. He laid the foundations for the development of a vaccine. About 700,000 HPV-associated cancers occur each year worldwide. A vaccine to prevent them has been available since 2006. In 2008 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier for discoveries of viruses linked to diseases.

Maurice Horn, the US comics academic, has died aged 91. He is noted for books such as Comics of the American West (1977) and Women in the Comics (1977). His The World Encyclopedia of Comics is recognised as a major work.

Ed Hutni , the US fan, has died aged 67. He was based in New Haven, Connecticut, and was also a filker. He was a toastmaster at the ConCertino 1999 filk convention and a GoH at (c)Onfilkt 2021. He was also into medieval re-creation cosplay.

Barry Humphries CBE , the Australian comedian actor, author, director and scriptwriter, has died aged 89. Best known for his drag comic persona, Dame Edna Everage, his genre related contributions included: appearing in Bedazzled (1967) as "Envy", being the fake-blind TV-show host Bert Schnick in Shock Treatment (1981), the sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a part in the were-wolf horror Howling III (1987), a role in Pterodactyl Woman From Beverly Hills (1995) playing Bert / Lady shopper / Manager, in Finding Nemo (2003) where he voiced the shark Bruce, and appearing in The Hobbit (2012) as the Great Goblin. Such was Barry Humphries standing in Australia that he was given a state funeral.

Lech Jeczmyk, the Polish SF editor, has died aged 87. he also translated some of the works of Ballard, Dick, Le Guin and Vonnegut among many others.

Iain Johnstone, the broadcaster and television documentary maker, has died aged 80.  He was the film critic for The Sunday Times for twelve years and the stand-in presenter (for Barry Norman) of the BBC Film 82 programme.  He made has made eight documentaries with Steven Spielberg, including Steven and Stanley about Spielberg's collaboration with Stanley Kubrick on the film A.I. (screenstory by Ian Watson inspired by a short by Brian Aldiss). He also made a documentary on the film Superman (1978).

Nicholas Kaiser, the British cosmologist, has died aged 68.  He is known for making the the first calculation of the polarization of the cosmic microwave background among much else including a considerable contribution to elucidating the larger structure of the universe. In his spare time he was a keen athlete.

David Klaus, the US fan, has died aged 67. He lived in Phoenix in the 1970s. In the early ’80s, he lived in L.A., belonged to the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS) and edited its clubzine, De Profundis. He was particularly fond of Star Trek and married a fellow Trekie, Nila.

Jerry Lapidus, the US fan, has died aged 74. He was one of the founders of the Syracuse University Science Fiction Society and a member and officer of the University of Chicago Science Fiction Society.  He edited the fanzine Tomorrow and… (late 1960s – early '70s) and Legal Rules (1968-'72). The latter provided the then current Worldcon constitution and rules together with the latest changes and notes from the WSFS (World SF Society) business meeting. He was a member of Gestalt, FAPA, and Slanapa and was active in the latter right up to his death.

Bill (Moonmoth) Laubenheimer, the US fan, has died aged 66.  He was part of Bay Area fandom and was particularly into filk. He was married to fellow fan Carole Parker. He did shortly after arriving at Pemmi-con, the 2023 NASFiC.

Denny Lien, the US fan, has died aged 77. He was active in Minneapolis SF. There his activities included editing a few issues of MinnSF's Einblatt and contributed to the APAs Minneapa and ANZAPA.  He was fan guest of honour at Minicon 21. He was married to fellow fan Terry Garey.

Cormac McCarthy, the US writer, has died aged 89. Having graduated in physics and engineering he turned to writing. Most of his writing is mundane (non-genre) but his best known SF is the novel The Road (2006) which won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It also won (2008) Spain’s Premio Ignotus SF award and was adapted into a film in 2009.

John Mansfield, the Canadian SF fan, has died.  He co-founded (with Peter Gill, Mike Glicksohn, Ken Smookler, and Maureen Bournes) the Ontario Science Fiction Club (OSFiC) in 1966.  In real life he served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 25 years, retiring in 1990.  Subsequently, he and his wife, Linda Ross Mansfield, ran the Pendragon Games specialty store at various locations in Winnipeg over the decades.  He edited the con-running zine ConTRACT (1989-2002). He chaired the 1994 ConAdian Worldcon (Winnipeg) and he co-chaired the 2005 Westercon in Calgary.  He was to be fan guest of honour at the 2023 NASFiC, PemmiCon in Winnipeg.

Godfrey Merlin, the British biologist, has died. He was born in the Cotswolds. After leaving university he worked in the fishing industry where he first became concerned about the damage humans were doing to nature. He left Britain in the mid-1970s and spent the last fifty years of his life in the Galapagos Islands. There he became an ambassador for the Galapagos Conservation Trust. He successfully lobbied for planes coming to Galapagos to be fumigated to prevent the transportation of invasive species. He also campaigned for an end to whaling and to wildlife trafficking.

Elizabeth Murray, the British clinician, has died aged 63.  Her work focused on the use of digital health to improve health and health care. In 2003 she established the eHealth Unit at UCL where she was co-director, and she was also Deputy Director of the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering.

Victoria Neale, the British mathematician, has died aged 39.  Having graduated from Cambridge University, she became a senior lecture at the Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford. She helped to organise the European Girls' Mathematical Olympiad and is perhaps best known publicly for her book Closing the Gap: The Quest to Understand Prime Numbers (2017). She occasionally appeared on national radio as a maths expert.

Russ Nicholson, the British fantasy artist, has died. He was an art teacher and also provided illustrations for the early White Dwarf magazines. He illustrated fantasy fighting books as well as for Warhammer and various Games Workshop products. He also provided book covers for Puffin, Pan, Collins and Hodder & Stoughton.

Charles Noad, the British proof-reader, has died. In real life he had been a computer programmer. He is noted for proof-reading two Middle Earth non-fiction books. He was very active in the Tolkien Society.

Virginia Tower Norwood, the US physicist and mathematician, has died aged 96. Born Virginia Tower, her father was a physicist working in the US army and her mother was a mathematician.  Graduating from MIT, her early career was with the U.S. Army Signal Corps Laboratories in Fort Monmouth.  She then worked for the Hughes Aircraft Company on antenna communications. There she designed the microwave transmitter that NASA's Surveyor 1 used to transmit data and images back to Earth. She then designed multispectral scanner for use on the Landsat missions. As such she was known as the Mother of Landsat.

Roger Searle Payne, the US biologist, has died aged 88.  At university, he studied animal behaviour.  From 1966 to 1984, he served as a biology and physiology professor at The Rockefeller University in New York. Concurrently, he worked as a research zoologist at the New York Zoological Society (NYZS), now known as the Wildlife Conservation Society.  His early work was on echolocation in bats. He then moved to work on more conservation flagship species, whales.  He is most famous for his work with his then wife, Katharine, and fellow researchers Scott McVay and Frank Watlington, when in 1967 they discovered the complex sonic arrangements performed by the male humpback whales during the breeding season. These findings were published in the article 'Songs of humpback whales' in the journal Science (1971).  He was also the first to suggest fin whales and blue whales can communicate with sound across whole oceans, a theory since confirmed.  Some of his recordings were released in 1970 as an LP called Songs of the Humpback Whale which helped garner traction for the Save the Whales movement seeking to end commercial whaling, which at the time was pushing many species dangerously close to extinction. Commercial whaling was finally banned by the International Whaling Commission in 1986.  (The film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) features Payne's recordings.)

John Romita Snr., the US comics artist, has died aged 93.  He worked on The Amazing Spider-Man as well as Daredevil, and co-created the characters Mary Jane Watson, Luke Cage, Wolverine and the Punisher. He eventually became Marvel's Art Director and as such heavily influenced the look of Marvel comics throughout the 1970s and 1980s.  He received an Inkpot Award in 1979, and was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2002 and inducted into the Inkwell Awards Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame in 2020.

Joseph (Wrzos) Ross , the US editor, has died aged 93. He was managing editor of Amazing and Fantastic (1965-1967) and editor of the anthology The Best of Amazing (1967). He also worked on Arkham House projects. He was in the First Fandom Hall of Fame.

Allan Scott, the British SF author, had died aged 70. He began in fandom by editing and contributing to the Oxford University SF Group's SFinx. His first pro fiction was "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" in the anthology Peter Davison's Book of Alien Monsters (1982). He was co-author of The Ice King (1986).

Rickey Sheppard, the US fan, has died aged 69.  He was a member of the Southern Fandom Confederation, the Western Kentucky University Speculative Fiction Society and masterminded the Wigwam Village in 1986 DeepSouthCon bid. He worked on ConFederation, the 1986 Worldcon.

Frank Shu , the US astrophysicist, has died aged 79. He came to the US from China with his parents fleeing China's cultural revolution when his father, the mathematician and engineer Shien-Siu Shu, joined the mathematics faculty at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.  He was admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, as one of its youngest undergraduate students in physics, and graduated in 1963.  At MIT, using wave-mechanic methods, Shu and his mentor Chia-Chiao Lin hypothesised that the spiral arms observed in disk galaxies were a wave phenomenon consisting of spiral patterns propagating through the fluid medium of stars and gas. How these patterns became amplified to their huge size remains a matter of debate, but ‘density-wave theory’ has allowed predictions of spiral-galaxy properties to be derived from first principles. It has also been used to study the gravitational stability and structure of many astrophysical objects, including galactic disks, binary stars, planet-forming disks orbiting young stars and the rings of Saturn.  In 2009 he was awarded the Shaw Prize in astronomy – also known as the ‘Nobel of the East’ – and the Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.  He his final years he began a second career looking at energy technologies to help global warming.  At the time of his passing he was writing an undergraduate level text, The Story of Science that reviewed how science has underpinned human progress, and the lessons it provides for addressing global warming.

Nicky Singer, the British author, has died aged 66. Some of her novels were for teenagers and had fantastical elements, including her debut Feather Boy (2002) which was also adapted for television as well as a stage musical. Other works of genre interest include The Innocent’s Story (2005), GemX (2006), Under Shifting Glass (2013), Island (2015) and The Survival Game (2018). Her Knight Crew (2009) was a contemporary take on Arthurian legends, was adapted as an opera. She co-founded and co-directed the charity Performing Arts Lab which teaches new writers how to create work for the stage and screen.

William Steffen, the US Earth system scientist, has died aged 75.  Originally trained as a chemical engineer, he is known for helping quantify the human impacts on the global environment and shaped public understanding of the planetary crisis: he warned that modern society risks exceeding the limits of planetary stability.  During his career he spent time in Australia and Sweden. From 1998 to 2004, based in Stockholm, he served as International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme’s executive director. Returning to Canberra Australia in 2004, he served as a science adviser to the Australian government until 2011.  He then was appointed to Australia’s Climate Commission, established by the government to communicate climate science to the public.  when chemistry Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen exclaimed in frustration that we are no longer living in the Holocene but in the “Anthropocene”, Will encouraged him to publicly suggest the name change.

Sydney J. Van Scyoc, the US author, has died aged 83. Her books include: Saltflower (1971), Starmother (1976) and Starsilk (1984). In the 19900s she stopped writing to make jewellery.

Mitch (Ira) Thornhill, the US fan, has died. He joined fandom in the 1970s.

Gregg Trend , the US fan, has died. He joined fandom in the 1960s. Active in the Detroit SF community, he belonged to the Wayne Third Foundation and edited some issues of its clubzine Seldon’s Plan.

Lawrence Turman, the US film producer, has died aged 96.  Though best known for producing The Graduate (1967) – for which he was short-listed for an Oscar – in genre circles he was noted for being a producer for: The Thing (1982), Short Circuit (1986), Short Circuit 2 (1988) and The Thing 2 (2011). He wrote a book about his profession, So You Want to be a Producer (2005).

Tina Turner, the US singer and actress, has died aged 83.  She sang the theme for the James Bond technothriller Goldeneye and notably appeared in, and provided the soundtrack songs for Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome (1985) as the boss of Barter Town. She also appeared in Tommy as the Acid Queen (1975) and The Last Action Hero (1993).

Rajnar Vajra-Loeb, the US writer, has died aged 75. He twice won the Analog Readers Poll, first in 2002 for the short story “Jake, Me, and the Zipper” , and second in 2005 for his novella “Layna’s Mirror”.  His short story “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” was short-listed for a 2015 Hugo. His last novel was Opening Wonders (2023).

Frank Waller, the US fan, has died aged 66.  He was a member of Los Angeles fandom and the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS).

Evelyn Witkin, the US geneticist and molecular biologist, has died aged 102.  Together with Miroslav Radman, she discovered the first coordinated cellular stress response to DNA damage, called the SOS response. Her research pioneered the fields of DNA repair and mechanisms of cellular mutagenesis. Her foundational discoveries have had major impacts in cancer research and advanced the study of drug resistance. During her career, among other awards, she garnered the 2000 Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal, the 2002 National Medal of Science, and the 2015 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award.

Allison Williams (later Phillips), the US fan, has died aged 94.  A Philadelphia fan, she was a daughter of James Williams, a former president of the Philadelphia SF Society (PSFS).  She too belonged to the PSFS. She was the membership officer for Philcon II, the 1953 Worldcon. She married Alexander M. “Lex” Phillips, an SF pro who became also was a PSFS president. 

Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, the British biologist, has died aged 79. He specialised in embryology having previously worked on the crypreservation of semen. He is best known for working at the Roslin Instute with Keith Campbell using somatic cell nuclear transfer to create the first artificial clone of a sheep, a lamb called Dolly. He later abandoned this technique in favour of one developed by Shinya Yamanaka deriving pluripotent stem cells from differentiatedadult skin cells.

Moira Woods, the Irish clinician, has died aged 89.  She was the medical director of Ireland’s first seχual assault treatment unit in the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin. She also worked in the Dublin Well Woman Centre and was co-director of the Irish Family Planning Association, giving women access to contraceptives at a time when many family doctors were unwilling to prescribe them. She was active in policy campaigning for abortion rights in the Republic of Ireland. Following the longest Irish Medical Council inquiry regarding her child abuse diagnoses for five families, she was not struck off but was advised in future to work in multi-disciplinary teams. She was subject to considerable personal harassment from right-wing fundamentalist and at the end of the 1990s moved to live in Italy for the next 26 years. At the time of writing this obit she is one of many science, technology, engineering, maths/medicine (STEM) women who should have a Wikipedia page but do not.

Melaku Worede, the Ethiopian agricultural biologist, has died aged 87.  He was involved in the planning of the Plant Genetic Resources Centre (now called the (now the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute) in Addis Ababa, of which he became Director in1979.  He held this post until his retirement in 1993 to join the Seeds of Survival Programme of Ethiopia, which he founded withthe support of a consortium of Canadian NGOs.  He was passionate about saving the diversity of traditional crops before they were lost. The practices that Melaku Worede developed, which he referred to as ‘conservation through use’, are now applied around the world. In 1989, he received the Right Livelihood award for ‘preserving Ethiopia’s genetic wealth’.

Edward (Ed Zed) Zdrojewski, the US fan, has died aged 68. He was active in Michigan State fandom mainly in the 1970 and '80s though still occasionally attended conventions after that. Outside of fandom he was an agricultural journalist.


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 2023

End Bits & Thanks



More science and SF news will be summarised in our Spring 2024 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, various members of North Heath SF, Julie Perry (Google Scholar wizard), SF Encyclopaedia, SFX Magazine, Boris Sidyuk, 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 to 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, Silviu Genescu, Caroline Mullan, and Peter Wyndham.

News for the next seasonal upload – that covers the Spring 2024 period – needs to be in before 15th December2023. News is especially sought concerns SF author news as well as that relating to national SF conventions: size, number of those attending, prizes and any special happenings.

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

Be positive
– Help spread SF news to fellow enthusiasts –
Bookmark as appropriate below

Or alternatively

Very many thanks. Meanwhile feel free to browse the rest of the site; key links at the bottom, below.

Want to be kept abreast of when we have something new?
Should you wish, you can subscribe to our RSS feed.


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

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

[Originally posted 23.9.15 | Contact | Copyright | Privacy Editorial | Site Origins/History]