Science Fiction News & Recent Science Review for the Summer 2012

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

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

As of Easter 2012 the Science Fact & Fiction Concatenation was 25 years old...


Cover of issue no.1 in 1987.

Yes, we are a quarter of a century old!   It all began with the BECCON EasterCon CONvention (BECCON) which was the 1987 UK national SF convention, which also happened to be on the 50th anniversary of the World's first ever SF convention now (2012) 75 years ago. (Wheels within wheels...)   The BECCON Eastercon itself sprang from a series of three biennial Basildon Essex Crest CONventions (BECCONs) for the London region. -- OK well one was an Essex Centre convention. It was a philosophy of BECCON to provide extras. Many of these were in the form of firework displays but for two conventions a fanzine was produced, and it was the second fanzine that came out mid-convention during the 1987 Eastercon that was the first ever Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation. The idea was that it would be a kind of SF review of the year with a dollop of science thrown in for good measure (it was part of a then campaign to get real science regularly onto Eastercon programmes). Charles and Harry, of the Manchester & District SF Society (MaD SF), kindly provided free printing on spare paper they had. The reaction was quite positive and there was even advertising interest that enabled subsequent editions be produced through most of the 1990s. After that in 1999 the last print issue was largely archived on the internet and then shortly we started building this website. People helped out and the semi-regulars, as well as those pivotally involved in the zine's projects or ventures, became part of the loose association that is the Concatenation team.   Over the years the team's special projects have included: providing a press liaison service for a number of international conventions; assisting with the Anglo-Romanian SF & science cultural exchange (in the years following the fall of the Berlin wall) and its fan fund; helping run small international conventions; and producing Essential SF amongst other projects in our history.   So here we are and now it is time to embark on our second quarter century... - 'Splundig' as Tharg would say.

STAFF MATTERS

The spring saw a visit from Hungary of the Romano-Hungarian SF author Mandics Gyorgy who we have known for many years and who organised the day outings to the Hungarian-Romanian, Serbian-border town of Jimbolia for the 1st and 2nd International Weeks of Science & SF. Mandics Gyorgy recently stepped down after many years as a member of the jury for what is effectively the equivalent of the Clarke (books) Award. He was in Britain to give a talk on ancient Hungarian runes and we had the opportunity to meet and catch-up.

Meanwhile this posting is a couple of days later than our loosely scheduled, usual mid-month slot because Jonathan had a deadline for a major project and Alan has been busy organising and running a real-ale festival. Worthy ventures both, and so we hope that if you are one of our regulars anticipating an upload on 15th April (our site statistics jump by a couple of thousand that and the following usual posting day) you will now understand why.

Book reviewers wanted! We still receive far more books than we can review and especially have a surplus of fantasy and horror titles. If you have had some experience of writing book reviews (typically 400 – 600 words) and can work to a deadline (the month before our spring, summer and autumn schedule) then do get in touch and we will try you out. Your other qualifications must be that you must live in either Great Britain or Northern Ireland (to keep our post costs down) and capable of following our basic house style (accurate recording of publication details at the reviews top, signing the review at the bottom and submitting in MS World.doc – not .docx). Reviewers get to keep the books they review. Regular reviewers get a bonus every once in a while. And you get the heads up on any of the rare gatherings we may have at a convention or elsewhere. If you are interested then do get in touch.

 

Elsewhere this issue (vol 22 (3) Summer 2012) not mentioned above, or included below, we have:-
          … our annual look at the top ten UK box office SF/F films for the year to Easter
          Review of the Duple Time Filk convention
          Review of the venue for the proposed 2014 London Worldcon
          SFnal-ish oddities and science whimsy with Gaia
          and many SF/F book reviews. See What's new.

 

Help support Concatenation: Get Essential Science Fiction which is also available from Amazon.co.uk. In addition to helping this site it makes a great present and helps you do your bit to spread the genre word. See also news of signed copies from Porcupine Books (who can send you copies cheaper than Amazon...).

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

MAJOR HEADLINE LINKS

Major SF awards and prizes this season include: the Hugo Award nominations; Britain's SFX Award wins, BSFA Award wins, Clarke (book) Award shortlist and SF novel manuscript competition winners; Brazil's Hydra short story competition; Romania's Galileo, Seniorii Imaginatiei Awards and Vladimir Colin Awards; Russia's Bastkon Awards; and US Nebula nominations and Dick Award winners.

Book news – Includes : Much UK book economy news; Dracula first edition simulacra to be released; and author economic squeeze increases.

Film news – Includes that of: much science & SF at Sundance Fest; I am Legend to have sequel; 1984 and Robo-Cop to be re-made; Joe Haldeman's Forever War film at last; and there are new Day of the Triffids and a Stephen King films forthcoming.

Television news – Includes: Lost Norman Spinrad Star Trek episode script found; Primeval spin-off series forthcoming; and the new Dr Who assistant is now cast.

News of SF and science personalities includes, among many, that of: Clive Barker, Tony Ballantyne, Mitch Benn, David Langford, Christopher Priest, Robert Sawyer, Norman Spinrad, Julian Tang, Jules Verne, Norman Warren and Gene Wolfe

Science news includes that of: camera sees behind (not through) walls; tens of billions of super Earths in Goldilocks zone; Flower blooms after 30,000 years and high fat diets create positive feedback resulting in even more eating.

Other news includes: that from SFX Weekender; 2000AD's 35th anniversary; new Watchmen comics; and a number of SF copyright court cases.

Major forthcoming SF events include Worldcons and Eurocons.

Our short video clip links section this season includes, among others, links to: a Batmobile race; short SF films (especially this one is recommended); and SF/fantasy/horror trailers. – See the section here.

Notable SF books due out over the 2012 summer include: vN by Madeline Ashby; The Thousand Empires by Gary Gibson; The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter; 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson; as well as reprints of The Other Log of Phileas Fogg by Philip Jose Farmer and The Store of Worlds collection of short stories by SF megamaster Robert Sheckley.

Notable fantasy due out over the 2012 summer include: The Shape Stealer by Lee Caroll; Dragon Time by Todd and Anne McCaffrey; and the debut novel Advent by James Treadwell.

Notable non-fiction/science fact due out includes a must read book for all those into rationale thought affecting our lives -- The Geek Manifesto by Mark Henderson.

The Spring saw us sadly lose many SF and science personalities. These included: Scientists James Crow, Renato Dulbecco, Sherwood Rowland and Wylie Vale.   SF personalities Jean (Moebius) Giraud, Carlo Fruttero and Christine Brooke-Rose.

 

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

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

NEWS

MAJOR SCIENCE & SF NEWS

China's Technology Advancement Prize goes to an SF author. Presented the award in Beijing, Liu Xingshi becomes the second SF author to win the national award. (The first was Pan Jiazheng.)

The nominations for the 2012 Hugo Awards for 'SF achievement' covering the year 2011 were announced at the British national Eastercon convention. The nominations for the principal Hugo categories (those categories attracting over 500 voters) were:-
Best Novel:-
          Leviathan Wakes by James S.A Corey
          Deadline by Mira Grant
          A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
          Embassytown by China Miéville
          Among Others by Jo Walton
Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form:-
          Captain America: The First Avenger
          Game of Thrones (Season 1)
          Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
          Hugo
          Source Code
Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form:-
          Community : 'Remedial Chaos Theory'
          The Drink Tank's Hugo Acceptance Speech
          Dr Who: 'The Doctor's Wife'
          Dr Who: 'The Girl Who Waited'
          Dr Who: 'A Good Man Goes to War'
Other categories briefly. The 'Best Semi-Prozine' category once again saw worthy nominations for both Interzone and Locus.   The 'Best Novelette' category again saw works published in either Analog or Asimovs.   Finally, the 'Best Related Work' category saw a nomination for The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls and Graham Sleight (Gollancz) which we think surely must be an odd-on-favourite notwithstanding its BSFA Award win.
          So what do we think of the nominations? Well back at the beginning of the year we listed a few of what we thought were the best SF books of the previous year published in the British Isles. Of course the Hugo nomination vote is dominated by those living in N. America, but we usually get one or two of our annual best SF books in the Hugo shortlist and this year it was Embassytown by China Miéville.   With regards to films, of those we listed back in January the one also Hugo nominated was Source Code.   As for our January selection for short-form dramatic presentation in that section's preamble we noted that the Hugo Short-Form Dramatic Presentation had in recent years become the Dr Who category and this year once again there were three Who nominations including the one we specifically cited as the favourite Neil Gaiman's episode – 'The Doctor's Wife'.
          So who do we think will win? This is a dangerous game to play, but there is no harm at looking at the contenders' form. Novel A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin is in with a good chance given his books' 2011 sales success even if it is fantasy: the Hugo Award for 'SF achievement' does allow fantasy works and Hugo voters have in the past shown themselves to doggedly like fantasy. Also in with a good chance is Deadline by Mira Grant as she had a nomination last year for her novel Feed: you need to know that there is an element of an 'author's turn' to win in Hugo voters' thinking. (Also Mira has a nomination in the Best Novella category with Countdown.) Similarly Embassytown by China Miéville may not be as certain a bet given that China Miéville won best novel a couple of years ago (so some Hugo voters may feel that he has had a recent turn).   Regarding Films or Dramatic Presentation Long-Form, director Duncan Jones won a Hugo for Moon back in 2010 so that might mean that Source Code is not as sure a bet as you might think.   Conversely Game of Thrones (Season 1) could do well given it is based on George R. R. Martin's work. But it is really anybody's guess as two of the other films, as well as Source Code, have also attracted Nebula Award nominations (see immediately below) and finally Hugo voters may want to say farewell to the last Harry Potter film by giving it a Hugo.   As for Short-Form Dramatic Presentation surely the odds-on-favourite has to be Dr Who: 'The Doctor's Wife' written by Neil Gaiman. The Drink Tank's Hugo Acceptance Speech is a reference to Chris Garcia being overcome at winning a Hugo for Best Fanzine last year together with a comment at the time from the stage that Chris' emotionally overcome acceptance might make the 'Dramatic Presentation Short Form' Hugo nomination list next year. Well it did and Worldcon regulars know that this nomination was really a bit of fun.
          So who really will win? Well, this year's Hugo winners will be announced during the Hugo Awards Ceremony at Renovation at the 2012 Worldcon in the US.

Nebula Awards nominations announced by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) for the 2011 works, as well as for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the nominees for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book. The winners will be decided by vote of SFWA members and announced at SFWA’s 47th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend, to be held May 17th – 20th May 2012 Arlington, Virginia, US. The principal Nebula category nomination is for 'Best Novel'' and here the nominations are:-
          God’s War by Kameron Hurley
          The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin
          Firebird by Jack McDevitt
          Embassytown by China Miéville
          Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine
          Among Others by Jo Walton
Embassytown by China Miéville is, of course, one of our choices for best SF books of 2011 but at first seemingly a little odd a choice for SF/F writers of America as Miéville is British living in England. Embassytown is of course eligible for a Nebula as it has been published in the US.
          The nominations for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation are;-
          The Adjustment Bureau. The latest raid on the late Philip K. Dick's oeuvre, it being a bastardization of his excellent short story 'Adjustment Team', with introduced Christian undertones.
          Attack the Block. A Brit comedy offering about a teenage gang defending a block of flats from alien invasion.
          Captain America: The First Avenger. The origins of the Marvel comics hero.
          Doctor Who: ‘The Doctor’s Wife'. Arguably the best episode of the 2011 season. The TARDIS's persona is given human form. Written by Brit author Neil Gaiman. This is the one that we tipped would get nominated for the Hugo Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form.
          Hugo. Directed by Martin Scorsese, this offering is set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton. For what it is worth this has the highest rating of the nominated films (so excluding the Dr Who nomination) by tens of thousands of IMDB's site visitors. It is based on the Brian Selznick novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, twelve-year-old Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station. DVD now out
          Midnight in Paris. Comedy fantasy written and directed by Woody Allen. Clearly the SFWA has a thing about Paris this year.
          Source Code. Directed by Brit director Duncan Jones who did Moon which in turn was an offering that we cited as one of the best SF films of 2009 and which subsequently was nominated for a Hugo and then won it. Source Code is an action thriller about a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he is part of a 'quasi-time travel' mission to find the bomber of a commuter train.

The BSFA Award winners were announced at the 2012 Eastercon. The winners were:-
          Novel: The Islanders by Christopher Priest
          Short fiction: ‘The Copenhagen Interpretation’ by Paul Cornell
          Artwork: Cover of Ian Whates’s The Noise Revealed by Dominic Harman
          Non-Fiction: The SF Encyclopaedia (3rd Edition) edited by John Clute, Peter Nicholls, David Langford and Graham Sleight
And of course The SF Encyclopaedia has just been nominated for a Hugo.

Britain's SFX Awards were presented at SFX Weekender. There were two classes of awards: those voted for by SFX readers and those voted for by SFX staff. The principal reader-voted category wins were:-
          Best Novel: A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin
          Best Film: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part II)
          Best Comic: The Walking Dead
          Best TV Show: Dr Who
The principal category of SFX team voted awards were:-
          Outstanding Literary Contribution: Brian Aldiss
          Screenwriting: Neil Gaiman for Dr Who 'The Doctor's Wife'
          Breakout: Joe Gilgun for the TV series Misfits
          Lifetime Achievement: John Wagner &Amp; Carlos Ezquerra (the artist and writer respectively who have worked on a number of 2000AD comic strips).
          Of passing interest, last season we did predict (again) that Dr Who would likely have a number of episodes nominated for this year's Hugo. Here we specifically cited Neil Gaiman's Dr Who episode 'The Doctor's Wife'. And we also cited Misfits season 3 as best short-form media of 2011 (not to mention Misfits for 2010.   Of course it goes without saying that Brian Aldiss (past SF2 Concatenation interviewee), Neil Gaiman (past Concatenation contributor, John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra (of the 2000AD team with whom Concatenation's PSIFAns had links in the early 1980s) are all thoroughly jolly good eggs. Congratulations one and all.

Brazilian Hydra Competition for best short story has been announced. The winner was Brontops Baruq’s story 'História com desenho e diálogo'.

Romania's Premiile Galileo 2012 [Galileo Awards] for 2011 works of best Romanian SF/F published by Millennium Books have been announced. The winners are:-
          Best F&SF Book Award (Novel or short fiction collection): DemNet [DemNet] by Dan Dobos
          Best F&SF Short Fiction Award (Short fiction published by a Romanian author): novella 'Povestea Lui Calistrat Hadimbu Din Vizireni, Ucis Miseleste De Nenicul Raul Colentina Intr-Un Han De La Marginea Bucurestilor' ['The story of Calistrat Hadimbu from Vizireni, cowardly killed by master Raul Colentina in an inn on the outskirts of Bucharest'] by Michael Haulica
          Best F&SF Anthology Award (an original anthology containing stories by Romanian authors): Steampunk: A Doua Revolutie [Steampunk: The Second Revolution] edited by Adrian Craciun
          The awards were based on a vote of Galileo Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine subscribers and as such are the equivalent to the US Analog Awards. The Galileo Awards Ceremony took place in March during the Final Frontier II Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Fayre in Bucharest. Each of the winners will receive a cash prize of 500 (new) lei.
         In addition to the afore subscriber voted awards, the staff of Galileo Magazine and Millennium Books have also announced this year's recipient of the Galileo Award for Life-Time Achievement: Liviu Radu.

Romania's Vladimir Colin Awards for 2008 – 2010 have been announced. The wins were:-
          Novel: Vindecatorul [The Healer] by Sebastian A. Corn, Cartea Romaneasca Publishing House, 2008
          Short Stories: Rock me Adolf, Adolf, Adolf by Silviu Genescu, Bastion Publishing House, 2008
          Fantastic Short Stories: Intre Bariere [Between Barriers] Doru Stoica Millennium Press, 2010
          Non-Fiction:– Istoria Benzii Desenate Romanesti 1891 – 2010 [A History of Romanian Comics], Dodo Nita & Alexandru Ciubotariu, Vellant Publishing House, 2010)
          Our special congratulations to Silviu.   These awards a juried awards that were first presented in 2000 but stopped being presented before 2008 (hence the 2008-2010 reference in the current announcement). Triple Eurocon Award winner Vladimir Colin (pen name Jean Colin) was an influential SF/F writer in communist Romania and who died in 1991 just after the revolution in 1990.

Seniorii Imaginatiei Awards ['Lords of Imagination']were presented at the Final Fronteir SF/F Book Fayre. The award is given jointly by the Eagle Publishing House and SRSFF (Society of Romanian SF/F). The principal category wins were:-
          Best Novel: Chestionar Pentru Doamne Care au fost Secretarele unor Barbati Foarte Cumsecade [Questionnaire for Lady Secretaries of Honourable Men] by Liviu Radu.
          Honorary Popularity Prize: for Calatorie in Capricia [Travel in Capricia] by Mircea Oprita
          The Seniorii Imaginatiei is a juried award and the Popularity prize is by readers vote. The eagle-eyed among you will have noted that Liviu Radu also picked up a Galileo Award.   Mircea Oprita is one of Romania leading SF personalities, writer, and critic. The awards (as well as the Galileos were presented at this year's 'Final Frontier' Science Fiction & Fantasy book show & fayre'. Also presented were the awards from a local SF fan blog FanSF.wordpress.

Russia's Bastkon Awards were presented at Bastkon in January. Bastkon is an SF/F litcon for authors (especially young ones as encouragement and nurturing embryonic talent is behind this event), editors and critics founded in 2001. Around 150 attended the 2012 gathering. The principal category wins were:-
          Sword of the Bastion (main juried award with 10,000 rubles prize money): Sergei Chekmaev
          Bowl Bastion (attendee voted award):-
                    1st place: Leonid Kaganov for the story 'Magic'
                    2nd place: Cyril Benediktov for the story 'Zayib'
                    3rd place: Vadim Panov for the novel Admiral Zagraty The Last
          Ivan Kalita Award (a cash prize raised by voting fee): Leonid Kaganov for the story 'Magic'
          Mirror Award (for translation): Maya Lakhuti
          Besoboy (especially for fantasy): Not awarded this year
          Nikitin (especially for SF): Vadim Panov for the novel Admiral Zagraty The Last
A number of the winning stories will be included in anthologies published by publishers supporting the event. At this year's Bastkon an anthology was released with the theme of Russia in 30 years time and this was launched with a programme item on Russia 3 decades hence: just surviving or living? Other programme items included 'how to lift SF/F beyond adventure stories', 'the work of the writer in computer games', 'politics in fiction: enough or insufficient?' and what is hot and thriving in Russian fantastic fiction.

Two 'Logans' win first Terry Pratchett 'Anywhere but here, anywhen but now' competition. We reported on this competition 18 months ago and it was always going to be interesting to see what talent this venture might through up. This two-Logan win is possibly synchronicity? The 2011 prize joint winners are Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan and Half Sick of Shadows by David Logan, both are published by Doubleday. Click on title links to see the titles' publication details in this season's book's list below.

Clarke Award (books) shortlist announced. The Clarke Award for books (as opposed for the other Clarke Awards for space science and technology) was instigated and initially sponsored by the late author Arthur C. Clarke. It is a juried award that seeks to identify SF titles published in Britain that represent the best of the genre, which means that the award winners are often LitCrit favourites as opposed to the hard SF associated with Clarke. While some of the wins are debatable, the short-list always contain a sprinkling of good titles. This year's short-list is:-
          Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear (Gollancz)
          The End Specialist by Drew Magary (Harper Voyager)
          Embassytown by China Miéville (Macmillan)
          The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers (Sandstone Press)
          Rule 34 by Charles Stross (Orbit)
          The Waters Rising by Sheri S.Tepper (Gollancz)
          An interesting short-list which if anything, given some of the titles that made it, brings the award back towards hard SF with sense-of-wonder of the kind Arthur Clarke wrote (though Clarke, bless him, never wrote with the style of these short-list authors).   Having said that, the award normally goes to what some call 'literary SF' and so some litcrits may be disappointed. Indeed one of that ilk, the writer Christopher Priest, was positively upset so sparking much comment and defence of the jury on the internet. Given that one of this year's jury has had book reviews on this website and that in the past Concatenation has helped identify potential venues for the award among other things (not least that the first Clarke Award was presented at the UK convention that had one of Concatenation's editors on the committee and saw Concat's first edition launched…), we are staying well out of the debate but are happy to report it.

The Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Awards were announced at the World Horror Convention that was held this year in Salt Lake City, Utah, US. The principal category wins were:-
          Novel: Flesh Eaters by Joe McKinney
          Debut Novel: Isis Unbound by Allyson Bird
          Graphic Novel: Neonomicon by Alan Moore
          Screenplay: American Horror Story episode no. 12 'Afterbirth' by Jessica Sharzer
          Also presented was a one-off, juried award, joint-sponsored by the HWA, the Bram Stoker Family Estate and the Rosenbach Museum & Library, the Vampire Novel of the Century Award. All just a tad odd because surely buffs know the classics of the 20th century let alone need to tell other aficionados at the annual horror bash, but, hey, if it helps get a novel reprinted… And so justifiably it went to one of a number of possible other worthies… Richard Matheson for the terrific science fantasy I Am Legend.

The Philip K. Dick Award winner has been announced at Norwescon 35, in SeaTac, Washington, is Simon Morden for The Samuil Petrovitch Trilogy. A Special citation was given to The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett. The Dick Award goes to distinguished original science fiction paperbacks published for the first time during the previous year in the US. The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust and the award ceremony is sponsored by the NorthWest Science Fiction Society.

Science prizes…

2012 Crafoord Prize goes to black hole astrophysicist Reinhard Genzel and astronomer Andrea Ghez. Reinhard Genzel is from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, and Andrea Ghez from the University of California. Their work showed that there is a black hole at the centre of our galaxy. The Crafoord Prise is worth 4 million Swedish kroner (£371,000) and rotates through several disciplines: this year was astronomy/cosmology.

Abel Prize goes to mathematician Endre Szemeredi, Hungary. The £645,000 (US$1m) maths prize has a similar standing in mathematics to the Nobel. Szemeredi won his for discrete mathematics (defined entities such as number sequences, logic operations and networks).

Brain Prize this year went to those who identified some of the genes for deafness. This year's €1 million (£850,000 or US$1.3m) goes to two European neuroscientists: Christine Petit and Karen Steel working in France and Britain respectively. They mapped mouse genes responsible for cochlear hair cells.

China's top science award goes to collider physicist Xie Jialin. He helped build China's high energy particle accelerator in 1964 and its free-electron laser in 1993. The prize is worth 5 million renminbi (£502,000, US$794,000).

Other SF news….

2000AD celebrates 35th anniversary. It hardly seems like yesterday when in 1977 Britain's premiere – and, it is said, the Galaxy's greatest – SF/F comic launched and a couple of years later merged with Star Lord to provide the foundation for the 2000AD we know today.   Back then 2000AD was owned by IPC (based in London) whose King's Reach Tower was in fact a spaceship for 2000AD's editor, the dictatorial Mighty Tharg (or old green bonce as he is sometimes known by readers): any similarity with Tharg and the possibly dictatorial IPC managers was purely coincidental… 2000AD quickly achieved minor cult status with late 1970's British student fandom. It was avidly read by then Keele University SF society members (who founded Unicon conventions that still occasionally take place today by different universities) and Hatfield Polytechnic (now Hertfordshire University) PSIFA society members (who founded Shoestringcons that were subsequently held annual for over a decade and the first one of which had 2000AD staff among its Guests of Honour). Such was the student following that subsequently 2000AD granted copyright permission for Hatfield PSIFA and Cambridge University SF Society for the alien character 'the Gronk' as their 'official' group mascots (and even recognised this in the letter column of a 2000AD edition).   Back then as the 1970's became the '80s it was not known that Judge Dredd would become a minor cult phenomenon even spawning a Hollywood film in 1995 (sadly with shortcomings) with another due out later this year – 2012 – (more grittier but with liberties taken with the Judge uniform, bike and gun design) or that 2000AD would survive the IPC hiatus and end up with the computer games company Rebellion whose managers are 2000AD fans and so largely leave the comic's editors to get on with it.
          And so this year 2000AD celebrated its 35th anniversary. There was a bash at the SFX Weekender and other shindigs, but for the average fan, especially those who missed out on the early Judge Dredd, there are three classic Dredd graphic novels being reprinted from those early days: The Day the Law Died (featuring a thinly veiled parody of Caligula); The Cursed Earth Saga (think Roger Zelazny's Damnation Alley) that sadly is incomplete with two episodes missing due to 'copyright infringement' – McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken have no sense of humour; and The Dark Judges (the supernatural Judge Death and colleagues 'Fear' and 'Mortis' from a warped parallel dimension where life is a crime) and effectively a small version reprint of Judge Dredd Featuring Judge Death.   Though small 'B' format paperback size, these are cheap at just £6.99. They are black and white (as back when originally published only the centrefold part of the Dredd stories were in colour).   And then this month (April 2012) sees the launch of an album of music inspired by Mega City 1 (where Judge Dredd operates): the album is called Drokk…   And so congratulations to all involved with 2000AD both as thrill power producers and its readers the thrill power consumers who enable the comic's longevity. 2000AD has been keeping thrill-suckers at bay for over a third of a century. This is no mean feat and long may it continue.   Happy birthday.   Splundig Vur Thrigg.

Locus campaign to archive SF photos and correspondence. The material is the heritage of the late Charles Brown former editor and founder of Locus magazine. The aim is to fund the preservation of a historic and irreplaceable collection of materials covering the science fiction, fantasy, and horror fields, including author and convention photos, correspondence, and other ephemera, relating to around 4,000 individuals which was accumulated by Charles N. Brown and Locus magazine over the past 60 years. To help them stabilise the archive, digitize the photos and letters, and make available to fans, writers, scholars, and researchers the almost 40,000 of pieces of SF/F history we have in this collection. To do this the SF community's support is required. Donations of US$1 or more need to be sent to www.kickstarter.com/projects/2040521099/locus-photo-and-ephemera-archive-project. All help most welcome and there are rewards for supporters.

Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. sues Dynamite Comics over Dynamite's Warlord of Mars and Lord of The Jungle titles. It is all rather messy. Dynamite does not have Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. permission but Disney does have permission for the John Carter film that relates to Warlord of Mars which Dynamite is doing the graphic novel in conjunction with the film release: what Disney did not do is secure rights for Dynamite but Dynamite seem to assume that as Disney had permission for the films and as Tarzan is now in the public domain, all would be well. Though the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novels are now (due to the time elapsed since publication) public domain works in the U.S., this is not true in all countries. Also Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. owns both copyright and trademark for all material published after 1924. The latter trademark ownership for Burroughs' characters such as Tarzan could be problematic. Given that the novels are in copyright terms coming into the public domain, the only way Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. can continue to have a revenue stream is not under copyright terms but that they own the trademarked names. All in all a rights mess… but one that has implications for other franchises and potential franchises. For instance Larry Niven might trademark 'Known Space', or Iain Banks 'the Culture', or even (more likely) Rebellion might trademark 'Judge Dredd'? Test cases will determine what happens, meanwhile expect a spate of trademarking.

Touch, TV series sued by author. Touch is a new US series (Fox TV) in which Kiefer Sutherland plays a man whose 11-year-old autistic son can seemingly predict future events through numbers. Now Everette Hallford has filed a lawsuit claiming that the premise of Touch was based on his 2008 novel Visionary. Apparently both novel and series feature an 11-year-old boy with powers, as well as a someone who quit his job as a journalist after the death of his wife. Also it is alleged that the series gets one of its characters' names – Martin and Jake Bohm – from a scientist in the novel, David Bohm among other similarities. Tim Kring (who also created Heroes) is cited in the suit. Kring has previous having been sued over a storyline in Heroes that it was claimed had been taken from a graphic novel. In that instance Kring successfully defended the case and the graphic novelist had to pay US$113,000 (£74,500) costs.

Media Rights Capital and director George Nolfi apparently renege on payment deal to Philip K. Dick estate that in turn now quits the case!   Media Rights Capital and director George Nolfi were responsible for the 2011 film The Adjustment Bureau which was based on the Philip K. Dick short story. The estate claimed that in 2001, Nolfi agreed to make payment to adapt material from Dick's story 'The Adjustment Team' and part of this was apparently paid during production with a remaining sum due after the film's launch. However once the film was made the Dick estate did not receive any further payment… And so last autumn the estate sued.   The reason Media Rights Capital and director George Nolfi did not make any more payment was, as we previously reported, that Dick’s original story was published in a science a 1954 edition of Orbit Science Fiction in 1954. However, Dick’s estate claims that this was done without Dick’s knowledge or consent, making it invalid. The first official printing, the estate argues, of Dick’s material was in a 1973 short story collection. The case went to court but the judge ruled that this was a federal matter. And so the latest, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is that the Dick estate is now dropping the matter. The Dick estate reportedly said, 'The judge's ruling and our decision to dismiss the remaining portions of the federal case had nothing to do with the merits of any of the claims. The Judge only concluded that state court is the appropriate venue for the dispute.'

Marvel Comics launches new all-ages comics, for which read comics for very young teenagers as well, purportedly as older fans. They are meant to be targeted to, well, everybody! However older buffs are unlikely to be taken in, in our humble opinion.

Watchmen prequels come this summer. DC Comics imprint will publish a seven comic-book mini-series that will prequel the stories the Watchmen based on the original classic graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons. The series is called Beyond Watchmen. Alan Moore is not happy. The series will contain:-
          Rorschach (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
          Minutemen (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
          Comedian (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J. G. Jones
          Dr. Manhattan (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
          Nite Owl (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
          Ozymandias (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
          Silk Spectre (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner

There is now a concourse for Platform 9 3/4s at London's King's Cross Station next to a bookshop appropriately enough as it commemorates the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling. +++ See also Biggest Harry Potter Fan competition in the book news subsection below.

More SF and science news in the specialist subsections below..

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

PEOPLE: MAJOR SF & SCIENCE AUTHOR AND ARTIST NEWS

Clive Barker fell into a coma due to toxic shock when at a dentist's surgery. He had to spend some days in intensive care with induced respiration. Fortunately all is well but he is now 20 pounds lighter.

Tony Ballantyne becomes the first author to have had more than one story chosen by SF2 Concatenation as one of the top 'Futures' short stories published in the weekly multidisciplinary science journal Nature with his story 'The Cleverest Man in the World'. SF2 Concatenation has an agreement with Nature to post (with the author's permission) four stories a year that it considers are the best out of the 51 published by Nature each year. Originally this was a way for non-Nature-subscribers to see the stories, but now these are free access and so today the selection serves to promote the stories directly to the SF on-line community as well as to highlight excellence in the series. An author having two stories selected had to happen sometime (nonetheless it took six years) but even so Tony's two are crackers and worthy of you checking out. His other 'Future's story is 'Takeaway'.

Mitch Benn, the comedian known from BBC Radio 4's topical affairs The No[oooowwww]w Show, is to have his debut SF novel published by Gollancz. The novel is tentatively titled Terra and will be published in 2013. Terra tells the tale of a girl who spends her childhood on an alien planet. She is taken there by an extra-terrestrial biologist was originally sent to study the wonders of our planet (Rrth, as they call it) before humanity completely wrecks it. Humans are not trusted in the rest of the universe and no one can understand why they are so intent on destroying the only place in the universe we can call home. However the alien inadvertently causes a car crash and a now-orphaned baby girl is found in the wreckage.

James Cameron boldly goes down deep… See story in the science-SF interface subsection below.

David Langford had an understandably worrying time with surgery for a detached retina. Fortunately it all went well.

Lucy Lawless, the actress who formerly played Xena: Warrior princess, has become a Greenpeace activist. In February she was one of six who boarded a drilling ship destined for the Chukchi Sea off of Alaska to drill three exploratory wells for Shell.

Alan Moore made the national BC Radio 4 news with an excerpt of his half-hour BBC Hard Talk interview. He said that his V for Vendetta character highlighted the notion that one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. He also noted that while sales of the V for Vendetta mask have soared, having among other things been adopted by the Anonymous and Occupy groups, that he does not in anyway benefit financially as – somewhat ironically – commercial multinational Warners now own the V for Vendetta rights.

Christopher Priest is very upset with this year's Arthur C. Clarke (book) Award shortlist. He says: " We have a dreadful shortlist put together by a set of judges who were not fit for purpose. They were incompetent. Their incompetence was made more problematical because the overall quality of the fiction in the year in question was poor. They did not know how to resolve this. They played what they saw as safe.
          "They failed themselves, they failed the Clarke Award, and they failed anyone who takes a serious interest in speculative fiction….
          "The present panel of judges should be fired, or forced to resign, immediately…. [and] "the 2012 Arthur C. Clarke Award should be suspended forthwith, and the planned awards ceremony on 2nd May should be cancelled."
          Which then prompted much on-line defense of the Clarke Award's jury and this debate even made the Gardurian newspaper.   Perhaps the best thing that can be said about this whole incident is that it is good to know that others are passionate about SF even if you do not agree with them. +++ Christopher Priest's latest novel is The Islanders and, quite separate to the above discussion, was eligible for the 2012 Clarke Award (books).

J. K. Rowling's next novel will be Casual Vacancy, a dark comedy in the world of local politics. The publisher is Little Brown.

Robert Sawyer has a N. American signing tour of his new novel Triggers:   Thursday 26th April, 7:00 pm Hamilton Public Library Central Branch, 55 York Street, Hamilton;   Wednesday 2nd May , 7:30 pm, Clock Tower Brew Pub, 575 Bank Street, Ottawa; and Thursday 21st June, 7:00 pm, Variety Preview Room, 582 Market Street at Montgomery (1st floor of Hobart Building), San Francisco in an "SF in SF" event hosted by Terry Bisson.

Matt Smith races around the BBC Top gear race track in 'a reasonably priced family car' to become the show's fastest recent Dr Who to take the challenge. Matt did the lap in 1 minute 43.7 seconds so beating previous attempts by both Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennant as well as Billie Piper (who played Ecclestone's and Tennant's companion).

Norman Spinrad lost Star Trek script found. See the story in our TV news subsection below.

Julian Tang, whose Nature 'Futures' short story 'IRC' we posted last year (2011) now has an anthology out available from Amazon in N. America called Mars Love and Other Short Stories and this contains 'IRC'.

Jules Verne’s 183rd birthday was marked by the Google with its home-page logo becoming a virtual submarine window, complete with controls to pilot the sub underwater. Many may have missed the ability to move the joystick around and see all manner of sea creatures appear.

Norman Warren was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 regarding fantastic films of his SFnal horror type. He is currently trying to get a new film off the ground and though he has interest, nobody wants to be the first to write a cheque. Here's hoping. Meanwhile Norman will be attending the UK Festival of Fantastic Films this October in Manchester. (See the convention diary if you are reading this in 2012.)

Gene Wolfe was the centre of a fund-raising evening with Gene Wolfe to raise funds for the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, whose mission is to promote and celebrate Chicago’s literary tradition. Proceeds from the evening will go toward creating a permanent home for the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame and its growing library and exhibit.

For SF author websites click SF author links.

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

FILM NEWS

Science as well as SF is big at this year's Sundance Festival. The Sundance does a very worthy job of promoting US film outside of Hollywood (putative Hugo Award voters please note) and non-US film. This year's fest sees a slew of science documentaries as well as SF offerings among the about a hundred feature film-length offerings on show.   Chasing Ice by Jeff Orlowski captures global warming across the world using time-lapsed photography of glaciers, ice shelf collapse and so forth.   The Atomic States of America by Don Argott and Sheena Joyce examines the nuclear industry.   A Fierce Green by Mark Kitchell is an account of the history of environmental activism.   Of relevance to a sizeable minority – perhaps one in ten in the population by some accounts – will be James Redford's documentary The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia.   Then there was the science-based fiction Valley of Saints in which a biologist and a boatman fall into love while discovering a pollution incident of a previously pristine lake.   On the SF front there is comedy with Robot and Frank about a burglar and his robot that looks after him doing the housework.   Red Lights is a US/Spanish offering that stars Sigourney Weaver as one of a duo of sceptics out to debunk clairvoyants until they encounter one particular psychic.   Then there is the science-fantasy Beasts of the Southern Wild in which a young girl travels through a drowned world complete with prehistoric animals.   This contrasts with the British alien invasion monster film Grabbers which in turn is stark relief compared to the time travel comedy Safety Not Guaranteed. And naturally we will be keeping an eye out for these offerings for you with links to trailers later in the year.

John Carter of Mars set to be a financial loss for Disney. The Mars-based epic, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' galactic adventurer, has had an unfortunate reception by critics though the fan response is less clear though we do know that it did not make the UK science fiction top ten box office chart for the year to Easter. The film's budget is estimated at US$250m not counting an estimated marketing budget of US$100m but two months after it was released it only grossed US$179m globally at the box office.   One problem is that while Edgar Rice Burroughs' was a popular author back at the beginning of the 20th century, he has few avid readers today and of these arguably most know him for Tarzan rather than the John Carter Mars (Barsoom) stories. Early reports suggest that Disney could lose well over $100m (£63m) on the film in addition to the profits it had anticipated. The Disney group has issued a profit warning.

I am Legend sequel planned. OK, so the film I am legend (like two previous attempts -- The Last Man on Earth (1964) and The Omega Man (1971)) was not a proper cinematic adaptation of US writer Richard Matheson's novel I am Legend, but hey, that's Hollywood but the film did have its own moments and was a bit of a box office success (albeit in part due to aficionado anticipation due to its Matheson pedigree). So now there is the near-inevitable sequel in the offing. No surprises that Will Smith's company is producing so it is possible he might make an appearance if not star. Akiva Goldsman, who was involved in the I am Legend film script is also thought to be onboard for the sequel.

Blade Runner spin-off will not have Harrison Ford. Well we were a little concerned a year ago that the rights to Blade Runner had been bought with a view to a possible sequel/re-boot. And then came the vague word earlier this year that it would be a straight sequel.   The latest news is that Ridley Scott has apparently confirmed that, yes, it will be a sequel but that Harrison Ford will not be in it (at least there has been no discussion with the actor) and this now seems to be confirmed by the new film's producer, Andrew Kosove. However there is a chance that the Deckard character may appear (possibly in a flashback) or be referenced. There is also the possibility that there may be future discussion with Harrison Ford, so who knows…

Total Recall remake does not go to Mars. Now you will recall that the 1990 original (was it really over two decades ago?) was (very) loosely based on the Philip K. Dick short story 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale' whose protagonist was Douglas Quail. This became 'Quaid' in the Recall film. Other than the memory process and the Dickian blurring of reality and protagonists' perceptions, as well as the similarity of character names, the film had little connection with the original short story, though both did see Mars involved. The new remake is a remake of the film and arguably has even less connection with the Dick short story as Mars does not come into the equation. The re-make stars Colin Farrell (Douglas Quaid), his wife (Kate Beckinsale), Jessica Biel (rebel fighter) and Bill Nighy (head of the resistance)… Oh and the new film has a new super nation called 'Euromerica'.

New version of 1984 mooted. Apparently the production consortium includes Imagine Entertainment. Potential investors might like to ask, 'why?'. Any new version is going to have to better the 1984 (1984) film starring John Hurt and Richard Burton (last film appearance). Hollywood continues to try to shoot itself in the foot.

Chronicles of Riddick sequel seems certain. Actually if you count Pitch Black then this would be a new sequel and not just a sequel.   If you remember, in Pitch Black Riddick was a convict being transported on a cargo ship that was hit by a micro-meteor storm that crashed with crew and a handful of passengers on a planet that only sees night very rarely thanks to multiple sun's, and that at night predators emerge from underground. Then in the Chronicles of Riddick Riddick goes to a convict world that has blistering heat during the day.   Apparently in this new sequel, Riddick has been left on a sun-scorched planet with predators and his survival has made him even more powerful. So when bounty hunters come after him they are up against both a super-strong Riddick and the predators. The word has it that this new sequel will be more Pitch Black in style than Chronicles and that definitely is a plus. Vin Diesel is once again onboard.

Hammer near-classic fantastic films to be restored. Over 30 films will be restored before their release on blu-ray. Titles being restored include: Dracula, The Curse Of Frankenstein, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, The Mummy, Frankenstein Created Woman, The Lost Continent, The Reptile Slave Girls and The Vengeance of She.

Short Circuit remake being prepared.   If you remember the original Short Circuit film, directed by John Badham, it was a fairly entertaining kids film about a piece of military hardware (robot) that gained sentience. Sadly Short Circuit 2 added nothing to the original and, of course, the novelty factor was gone.   Fortunately, apparently, they are not going for Short Circuit 3 but a re-make of the original. However they have got director Tim Hill and writer Matt Lieberman, so this might well end up being a CG effects rich, kids offering and the word is that they hope that this will kick-start a new franchise. Alas it does not sound promising, but who knows…

Robo Cop remake progress.   It has been three years since we reported that this remake was being mooted. It looks like José Padilha will be directing so expect a rough, tough and gritty Robo Cop more in line with the 1987 original that we reviewed back in SF2 Concatenation's print days. The new film's writer may well be Nick Schenk of Gran Torino fame, and this too is good news. As for the star, while it is not confirmed, it could be the Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman. So all in all things look reasonably positive.

New Stephen King anthology film confirmed. The director of the Stephen King adaptation The Night Flier, Frank Pavia, is developing the collection film based on four of his stories: the short story 'The Reaper's Image'' from the collections Startling Mystery Stories (1969) and also Skeleton Crew (1985); Mile 81 the e-book; ' N' that appeared in the collection Just After Sunset (2008); and 'The Monkey' appeared in Skeleton Crew (1985).

Forever War film may at long last see light of day!!!   It was only last summer (2011) we noted that the film of Joe Haldeman's novel Forever War (1974) had been optioned by studios for many years but never gone to production, although a couple of years ago (2009) we reported that Ridley Scott was thinking about taking it on. Now, our eagle-eyed Alan has spotted on IMDB that a tentative launch date of 2013 has been given for the film and that Scott is directing. And if you have not heard of the novel and wonder what the fuss is about then suffice that Gollancz once cited it as one of the top ten all-time best SF novels.

New Day of the Triffids film coming. This new cinematic version of John Wyndham's classic 1951 novel is apparently being produced by Sam Raimi: the director of the Evil Dead and the Spider-Man films. The book was first filmed in 1962 (badly), and later twice made into mini-series by the BBC: in 1981 (faithful) and 2009 (deviant but interesting). The IMDB release date for the new film is currently slated as being for 2013, but these things have been known to slip.

Short video clips that might tickle your fancy….

Film clip download tip!:Ruin is a short SF film set in a green, post-apocalyptic world that promises to build into a film. It is computer animated but to a near-cutting edge standard. The very-end sequence promises more. It is a remarkable offering and worth your checking out Ruin here.

Film clip download tip!:2nd Prometheus trailer – Ridley Scott's Alien prequel – is out. You can see the new Prometheus trailer here and a 3-minute version here.

Film clip download tip!:Robots of Brixton short film is currently getting interest at film fests.   The film is inspired by the 2011 summer riots. In the film Brixton has degenerated into a disregarded area inhabited by London's new robot workforce - robots built and designed to carry out all of the tasks which humans are no longer inclined to do. The mechanical population of Brixton has rocketed, resulting in unplanned, cheap and quick additions to the skyline.   You can see the 5 minute film Robots of Brixton here.

Film clip download tip!:Batmobile race – Go on you've always wanted to see it… Well now's your chance. Jeremy Clarkson eat your heart out as the Batmobiles race here.

Film clip download tip!: New Iron Sky trailer betrays more slick production than the producers' previous.   When we learned that the fan producers of the Finnish comedy Star Trek/Babylon V cross Star Wreck were going to make another SF offering we were thrilled and so positively delighted when we learned that they had gained some funding support. Now it has to be said that the production values of Star Wreck did not hide the film's limited budget, even though the script had its fun moments, good SF fan homage references to the source material, and some nice SFnal twists (up to and including its ending). However the new Iron Sky trailer does suggest that the film has near-cinema quality SFX, great sets, and a dark edge mixed with the dry humour Star Wreck fans will expect.   In case, given the internet fantastic film buzz, you are unaware of the plot, the film's premise is that after WWII some Nazis escaped to the Moon and a base on its far side. In the intervening years they have been growing in numbers and building an invasion fleet. Now they are ready to return to Earth to create a new Reich…   The film is now out having launched at a film fest in Germany (nice but daring touch venue).   You can see the new Iron Sky trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: New The Amazing Spider-Man trailer rather promising.   Now you may well have thought that a gap of just a decade since the cinematic re-boot of Spiderman was a little too short – and it is – but even so the trailer for the new (2012) re-boot is very tasty. Also it will be out in IMAX 3-D.   You can see the new Amazing Spider-Man trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Could Extraterrestre [Extraterrestrial] be one of the best non-Anglophone SF films of 2012?   Extraterrestre is Spain's Nacho Vigalondo's latest offering: Nacho Vigalondo being the person behind the excellent Time Crimes which we cited as one of the best SF films of 2008. Extraterrestre [Extraterrestrial] premise starts with an Independence Day type beginning: a giant alien space ship appears over a city. All very well, but one person has just woken up next to the girl of his dreams. Meanwhile the alien ship does nothing but people are becoming anxious…   You can check out the Extraterrestre [Extraterrestrial] trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: New Resident Evil trailer promises that the franchise continues to improve.   OK. So the original Resident Evil was too much like the shoot-'em-up computer game with a bioweapon turning the personnel of a weapons research facility into violent zombies. However each of the subsequent Resident Evil offerings have been a little better than their respective predecessors. Milla Jovovich is still onboard starring as Alice. The new film, Resident Evil: Retribution still sees Alice without a safe haven and continuing to hunt the Umbrella Corporation bosses responsible for the T-virus outbreak but will the story-arc continue to progress? The action takes her from Tokyo to New York, Washington, D.C. and Moscow.   You can see the Resident Evil: Retribution trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: August Eighth is latest Russian SF film.   It is a sort of version of Transformers and looks like fun if you enjoy big mechanised SFX action romps.   Though the English sub-titles, or even the dubbed version is not out, you can get a good idea by seeing the August Eighth trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: Dark Shadows trailer reveals latest Johnny Depp film directed by Tim Burton is a comedy vampire.   You can see the Dark Shadows trailer here.

Film clip download tip!: The Proxy is a mini-web-series that came out in March (2012). It is in fact a promotional vehicle for Alienware but the production., though clearly very low-budget, has its moments. The story begins with a person picking up a neighbour's mail to find a USB memory stick/pen-drive. However the USB's owner wants it back and soon the protagonist and his neighbour on the run from strange men with mysterious powers. The series is in 10 four-minute episodes and you can view episode one of The Proxy here.

Film clip download tip!: Into the Unknown – On the Shoulders of Giants – New space opera independent film. It's indie which is great. It's low budget, and there's nothing wrong in that. The film has a retro 1950s SF look (albeit in colour). You can see the Into the Unknown – On the Shoulders of Giants trailer here.

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

For a reminder of the top films in 2011/12 (and earlier years) then check out our top Science Fiction Films annual chart. This page is based on the weekly UK box office ratings over the past year up to Easter. You can use this page if you are stuck for ideas hiring a DVD for the weekend.

For a forward look as to film releases of 2012 see our film release diary.

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

SF BOOK TRADE AND RELATED TRADE NEWS

George R. R. Martin was the 2nd biggest fiction (including non-SF/F) writer of 2011 in the British Isles. The fiction author who sold the most was the (non-SF/F) James Patterson.

Britain SF/F print book market saved from decline by George R. R. Martin. While overall the British book market declined all fiction sub-categories saw double-figure percentile declines in 2011 with the exception of SF/F, superhero graphic novels and war books: these sub-categories saw a smaller decline or grew.   SF/F print would have declined by 8.9% in 2011 had it not been for George R. R. Martin's books' amazing performance and this enabled SF/F print, not to decline but, to grow by 7%.   Now SF/F print (as opposed to SF/F print and e-books combined) had been in decline 2007-2010 and this is thought to be because the genre is geek led and so prone to being among the first books to be digitally exposed. Hopefully, as a new balance between print and e-books becomes established over the next few years, the British Isles print market should stabilise.   George R. R. Martin's huge volume of Brit sales of printed titles really added to SF/F book performance in 2011 George R. R. Martin titles top Britain's fiction backlist title charts for 2011. His A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords Parts I & II, and A Game of Thrones together headed the top fiction backlist chart for 2011. No wonder George accepted being GoH at this year's British Eastercon. Data from Nielsen BookScan.

Snuff became Terry Pratchett's fastest selling hardback in any year. In 2011 Snuff sold 238,000 copies in the British Isles.

British printed book market down 6.3% in 2011 with revenue in the year estimated at £1.588 billion. The adult fiction section saw the biggest drop compared to the other principal book sectors of specialist non-fiction and children's & educational books. However the sub-category of SF/F does not do so badly…

Terry Pratchett was the most borrowed SF/F author from British libraries in 2011. But before you cheer, sadly he was only the 96th most Library-borrowed author. Non-SF/F James Patterson, reflecting his print-book sales success, was the most borrowed author.   Fiction and children's books dominated British library borrowing (as it does in most years) with the sub-category of crime fiction being most popular and responsible for 35.3% of books borrowed.   Though Terry Pratchett was in the top 100 most borrowed authors in terms of all his titles, in terms of single titles alone there was only one SF/F offering in the top 1,000 titles borrowed from British libraries in 2011 and that was Barbara Erskine's The Times Legacy. Data from Nielsen LibScan.

English library spend on new books is 'embarrassingly low' the Parliamentary Media, Culture and Sport Select Committee was told. This lack of new books would mean that libraries would get less custom and so cut library use which in turn would be the justification for further library cuts. +++ The number of full time professional librarians in local British libraries fell by 4% in 2011 while the number of volunteers rose by 22%.

Print books sales may have been rocky but e-books grew in 2011. Now that we are well in to 2012, the British book trade data for 2011 are in and a couple of years after the global financial crash we can begin to see how the industry (both print and e-books combined) has been affected by the slump. 2011 only saw Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Usborne and Scholastic with year-on-year (2010-2011) increase in the number of print books sold. In economic terms the big four (Hachette, Random, Penguin and Harper Collins) saw the value of the print market decline. However offsetting this, and in part offsetting for some, there has been growth in e-book sales. Last year e-book sales grew to form 10% of the British market and this growth is continuing while physical books decline. This is unlikely to continue indefinitely. At some stage physical book sales will stabilise but the big question is at what share of the market; especially will it be a majority or minority share? Another question is, once the global recession ends in a few years time will the total book market (both e-book and physical) in terms of numbers of copies, or even in real-term cash value, be bigger than it is now or is computing, video, TV and other information and story-telling formats overall eroding the book (and e-book) market? The jury is out on this last. The data (given we are still in the global depression) is not yet clear but there is a possibility that the popularity of e-books may serve physical books well.

Print paperback books decline at beginning of 2012. As we compile this news page British Isles trade data is only available for the first 6 weeks of 2012. However this shows the number of copies of paperback fiction (including, and mainly, non-SF/F titles obviously) sales down 13% on the same time the previous year. Digital migration is thought to blame.

1st edition Dracula simulacra to be released. Constable & Robinson (the original publisher's of Dracula in1897) will release the new edition on the anniversary of the author Bram Stoker's death. This edition will have the same dimensions and font of the original first edition and will include a copy of the publishers original contract with the author. This reveals that he had a 30% royalties arrangement and apparently this was the standard for the time. The anniversary edition will cost £50 and the first printing will be restricted to just 1,000 copies.

Harry Potter e-books now available through Pottermore, the company set up by J. K. Rowling and not the publishers of her print books Bloomsbury. On-line e-book sellers can affiliate to Pottermore and get a margin from Potter e-books they sell jointly with Pottermore.   And for the first time Amazon UK has had to toe the line as they have not been given the huge discount they demand and normally get from publishers, yet they are allowing the Pottermore Harry Potter e-books to be sold in Kindle format. Does this mean that in future other publishers may not give the discount Amazon UK expect for their popular titles? The view is unlikely but is not, as this news demonstrates, any longer impossible. +++ The US is also likely to be a big market for Harry Potter e-books as over 1 million Harry Potter books were sold their in 2011.

Academic e-books soar, physical books decline. Looking specifically at academic (mainly school and university) books, the top 20 UK academic publishers saw that sector's physical book sales drop to around 70% of copies sold (as opposed to cash value). However in cash terms 88-90% of the academic market is still physical – this is because an e-book is sold cheaper than its physical counterpart. However academic publishers are finding that piracy prevention and all the extra work hyperlinking references, including diagrams etc., that goes into e-book production means that there is no saving in editorial, and little saving in over all, production costs: print runs and e-sales of academic books do not have the size of mass market fiction books hence production savings of scale.

Bad news for authors – Author royalties squeeze continues. Some mass-market publishers are offering authors 20% royalties of publisher net receipts on e-book sales. Yet physical fiction books, though costing more to produce, are invariably typically sold at a far higher price. So the argument goes that authors should continue to see physical book royalties of 10-15% (as opposed to 20% for e-book royalties). Yet authors are being squeezed as the commercial pressure is always on to drive down the actual amount of author royalties publishers pay as the publishers themselves receive less. This is in no small part due to the more frequent discount prices on books sold in shops and online following the abolishment of what was called the Net Agreement (especially with Amazon insisting on its great discount).   There is therefore a case for the royalty percentage on fiction e-books to be higher than it is as the higher e-book royalty is not sufficiently more to compensate for the discounts and lower e-book price compared to that obtained with paper books. And so author agents and the Society for Authors are now calling for a new royalty model. For academic writers the position is worse. +++ Compare this current royalty state with the royalties Bram Stoker got for Dracula all those years ago.

Academic e-royalties get big squeeze. As per the earlier academic e-book story, academic publishers are finding that it costs nearly as much to produce an academic e-book as it does a physical paper book. This means that academic writers have typically seen their e-book royalties decline from around 15-20% of publisher receipts to 10-15% in the past two years and it may well be that in the next two years nearly all academic author e-book royalties percentages will be in the 10-12% range contrary to recent academic expectations. Yet as e-books sell more cheaply the reduction in royalty percentage compounds the lower e-book price impact on author royalties. With the Research Assessment Exercise (the way British university scientists get assessed for departmental funding) not recognising science book writing (only research journal papers), the decline in monetary reward (already slim) means that many academics will wonder if it is worth writing a book, and even if they do (and have got the kudos) will they bother to revise it a few years later as science advances for a new edition or bother writing other works? If academics do not write as many books, then the e-book and physical book debate becomes irrelevant: there will not be so many new academic books being published to begin with. Even the trick of delaying publishing academic e-books until well after the physical paper book comes out (so as to capture physical book sale revenue) does not work as university libraries are now tying-in e-book licences (for students to access remotely within campuses) with physical book purchases. Matters are bleak for academic book publishers and their authors. Many publishers are now mining their back-catalogue to release in e-book format as a stop-gap earner but this does not benefit academic writers and nor will this income-stream be particularly sustainable in the long-term. Academic book concerns are therefore set to run.

Students less interested in physical paper books. A survey conducted at Greenwich university has revealed that 37% were not interested in physical paper books, 39% liked physical books, 24% were neutral. The survey may now be extended to other universities.

Britain's e-books tax challenged. Britain's Publishers Association has called for the 20% VAT (Value Added Tax) to be removed from e-books so bringing it in line with the 0% VAT rate on print books. Meanwhile the Booksellers Association has written to the Chancellor George Osbourne calling for VAT on books to be the same across the European Union and for 'infraction proceedings' to be brought against countries who break the rules... (The UK has a higher VAT rate on e-books than other countries in the Union.)

Amazon UK avoiding substantial tax says an analysis reported in The Bookseller (30th March 2012). Amazon UK's headquarters moved to Luxembourg in 2006. Amazon EU (European Union) is based at the Luxembourg HQ and employs 134 people having a turnover of Euro 7.5 billion (£6.5 billion / US$10 billion). Yet Amazon UK employs 2,265 people with a turnover of just £147 million. Note the 'billion' and 'million' difference. How is this? Well Amazon considers that its business is primarily based in Luxembourg as that is where it receives the customer orders, and not the UK as the UK operation just provides a finishing service sending out the products to customers. So Amazon pays higher UK tax only on the smaller sum.

Society of Independent Authors launched. With self-published books estimated to account for a quarter of e-books (that’s proportion of numbers of books, not the proportion of their cash sales' value) in the UK, there is undeniably a need for such a society. The new society hopes to have 500 subscribing members by the end of its first year.

London has new 2nd hand book market. Founded by a group of independent bookseller, the Goldsmiths Row market will be held at the junction of Hackney Rd and Columbia Rd, London, 9am – 4pm on Sundays from 13th May, 2012.

More book trade news in our next seasonal news column in April 2012. Meanwhile check out the forthcoming SF and forthcoming fantasy book lists sections (see the mini-index immediately below…).

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

TV NEWS

'Lost' Star [original classic series] Trek script by found and may end up as a web-episode. 'He Walked Among Us' was originally written in by Norman Spinrad (who also wrote the episode 'The Doomsday Machine) but 'He Walked Among Us' was not used: the line producer, Gene Coon, re-wrote it (1967) and this too was not used. (NOTE: Confusingly He Walked Among Us is the title of a non-Trek SF novel Norman wrote a few years ago.)   The original Star Trek story concerned a primitive race – the Jugali – who puzzlingly use technology well beyond their theoretical state of advancement due to interference by Byrne, a Federation sociologist who has broken the Prime Directive. Coon's re-write turned it into more of a comedy concerning a Federation health food faddie taking over a less-advanced civilization so breaking the Prime Directive. Spinrad was unhappy with this, so went to Gene Roddenberry and the episode was never used… Life moved on and the years passed. Then came the Star Trek films and Next Gen. So Norman thought that with the renewed interest in Star Trek that it time to dig out the original script, but he could not find it. Move forward a couple of decades and Norman was at a signing when a fan asked him to autograph – yes, you guessed it – the missing episode and the fan sent Norman a scanned copy of 'He Walked Among Us'. This Norman has now made available via Amazon Kindle. The very latest is that Phase 2, the Trek web-series, now wants to film the episode and Norman is up for it but CBS (who did the Star Trek classic series) do not want to allow it and this has upset many Trek fans.

The Big Bang Theory and Person of Interest top the US SF/F ratings Sept 2011 – March 2012. The Big Bang Theory has held its own in the US ratings peaking at 16.21 million viewers. However rising from around 12 million in the autumn (2011) to 15.14 million in the spring (2012) is Person of Interest, a series you may want to check out to see what the fuss is all about. Meanwhile The Walking Dead saw a dip late in 2011 but then a come-back to just over 8 million viewers.

Primeval gets spinoff series called New World. The new 13-episode series has Canadian producers and though it largely has a new cast there will, apparently, be some cross-over. Filming has now finished and later this summer/early autumn it will air in the UK on ITV and then Watch, and in Canada on Space. It may be shown in the US and elsewhere in Europe after this. Meanwhile the original UK series is still waiting a season six contract, which of course is badly needed as, regardless of the time-travel anomalies (portals), there are alternate time-lines with alternate versions of some of the characters and this part of the story arc has yet to be resolved.

New Dr Who assistant announced. Former Emmerdale actress Jenna-Louise Coleman will replace Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) at the end of the current season that began this Easter. However she will be on the show before then making her first appearance in the Christmas special. We know little about her new character other than it is not often the Doctor meets someone who can talk even faster than he does, but it is about to happen; Jenna is going to lead him his merriest dance yet. The new 2013-4 series will contain 14 episodes across the two years.

Thunderbirds companion guide out this summer (2012). Haynes is publishing The International Rescue Thunderbirds Agents' Manual written by Sam Denham. It is heavily illustrated and has a behind-the-scenes guide to the show.

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

EUROCON / WORLDCON NEWS

Chicon 7 – this year's Worldcon -- has announced an extra Special Guest – Peter Sagal. Progress Report 3 print edition came out at the beginning of the season and so what follows below is more recent news. The extra special guest, Peter Segal, is the host of National Public Radio's irreverent weekly news quiz Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me. As a Special Guest. Sagal, who has often identified himself on the radio as a science fiction fan, will impart an additional dose of Chicago into Chicon 7 with his knowledge, humour, and skills. Peter Sagal attended Noreascon 3 (the 1989 Worldcon), where he got to meet some of his literary heroes, including Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl. Sagal published his first book, The Book of Vice: Naughty Things and How to Do Them in 2007. He also recorded the narration for a self-guided walking tour of Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.
          Advertising rates announced for souvenir book. Professional rates start at US$300 for a quarter-page black-and-white ad and range up to $1,400 for a full page in colour. Fan rates start at just $75 for a quarter-page in black and white and range up to $500 for a full page in colour. Special rates apply for the inside front and back covers (colour only). All advertising space must be reserved by June 15, 2012, with artwork due by the same date. Contact adsales[-at-]chicon.org.
          Site selection vote for a Worldcon in London in 2014. OK, so London is the only one (so far) bidding for 2014, but it still needs your vote at the Chicon Worldcon. 'Why?' you may ask. Well, first, getting a feel for numbers as indicated by voter enthusiasm for a site will help the organizers plan. Second, a huge number voting for London may get some who only go to N. American Worldcons wonder what the fuss is about and consider coming over and joining in the fun. Third, if a large number vote the committee will feel even more dutiful to provide a stonking great convention. (Who knows London 2014 may even become one of the 15 Worldcons that has had no last-minute, daily programme changes, the bane of a few recent Worldcons.) Fourth, a mega-huge vote for London will raise the bar, and that can only be a good thing. Fifth, is such an important reason that it can't be revealed over the internet, but you know what it is. Sixth, the vote is free to make. Seventh, it will keep the thrill-suckers at bay.   Splundig.   So if you are registered for Chicon then don't forget to vote.   London is welcoming and the home of: the British police box, the Martian invasion of capital cities, triffids, great fires, stiff upper lips, and real ale… It is quite easy to vote as long as you are registered at least as a 'supporter' of the Chicon Worldcon (which also gets you the publications mailed to you if you do not actually go to the US for the event). And we have been asked by London to emphasis voting and paying the voting fee is the cheapest way to get a registration for the London 2014 Worldcon (should it win). Following a minor kerfuffle at the Chicon desk at this year's British Eastercon, the London 2014 desk accepted votes and vote payments. Furthermore the London team also has a service in place to have these, and the accompanying voting payment, hand-delivered for you to the Chicago Worldcon later this year, instead of having to mail them yourself. So if you are a member of the London Circle or a convention at which the London 2014 will be represented (such as the Zagreb Eurocon) you might want to take advantage of this service.

Texas sees the Worldcon in 2013. So it is back to San Antonio where we were in 1997. Guests of Honour will be: Ellen Datlow, James Gunn, Willie Siros, and Norman Spinrad, with Toastmaster: Paul Cornell, and Special Guests: Leslie Fish and Joe R. Lansdale.

London is bidding for the Worldcon 2014. And of course we have reported on this London 2014 Worldcon bid before. The news this season is that the site vote will take place at this year's Chicon Worldcon in the US. Though the bid is unopposed, as said a couple of paragraphs above in the Chicon news it is still important to vote. In February (2012) the London bid received a letter of support from London Mayor Boris Johnson in which he says "Londoners have a great passion for science fiction". So there you have it, if Boris says so. (Check out fun mayor Boris Johnson on YouTube. Yes, we really do have politicians like that!) Vote London: Big Boris is watching you.
          Meanwhile elsewhere on this site we have a review of the venue for the proposed 2014 London Worldcon.

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

Another bid for Worldcon 2015 -- Orlando, Florida -- but we know little else as no press releases have been distributed.

Other future Worldcon bids. There are bids for Kansas City, US, for 2016.   Japan in 2017 and New Orleans, US, is bidding for the 2018 Worldcon. Unusual for a USA bid, this bid is currently unopposed but it is early days yet.   We reported last season regarding a Montreal, Canada 2019 Worldcon bid but there has been no further news and nothing on the Worldcon.org bids list page, but as of writing this news column that page has not been updated since before Christmas (2011) the Montreal bid could still be on: it's a long way to 2019.   Finally there is New Zealand in 2020 that was launched at the 2010 NZ national convention. A decision will be made in 2014 as to whether this bid will stand.

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

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

 

Meanwhile over in Europe…

Eurocon 2012 Kontact last minute news. If you are reading this seasonal newscast shortly after our April 2012 posting then it is just a couple of weeks to the event, so just time to give you the latest and get you briefed up with the latest you'll need for the European SF Society (ESFS) business meeting (especially as ESFS do not post agendas and news in advance). For this last see the following five items below this one.   Meanwhile back to the 2012 Eurocon in Zagreb
          Zagreb Eurocon announces another Guest of Honour – Russian author Dimitry Glukhovsky. He has started publishing stories when he was only 19, but he gained the huge popularity in 2002 when he published his first novel Metro 2033 on his web site. This prompted a print edition that gained national bestseller status and has since been translated to more than 30 languages, including English and Croatian.
          Zagreb Eurocon venue, domestics and extras. The programming will be taking place at two venues across street from each other, with the official programme starting sometime around noon and ending around 22.00 (11pm), but the night owls are going to be happy as well – in the evenings there will be parties open for convention members in a club on the same block.   The programming schedule will allow for sightseeing, and we will organize free tours of Zagreb centre with a licensed guide but please check out our web site for booking a spot for you and your friends. Those into fancy dress who bring their costumes will be able to show them around as well – members will get to vote on their favourite costumes and the first prize is a gift certificate for the famous Croatian costume designer Tajana Stasni. But the Zagreb Eurocon hope to do some serious business with long term effects as well – since Croatian SF societies and groups are quite involved in publishing the hope is that the 2012 Eurocon Kontakt will be able to create a network for future cooperation in cross-border publishing projects, especially with organisations from non-English speaking countries: look out for panels on the subject. If this sounds interesting but you cannot make it to Kontakt, then the organisers ask that you e-mail us a couple of weeks after Eurocon and they let you know if some plans have hatched.   Finally, If you missed the deadline for pre-booking memberships, do not worry, the onsite membership will go up by only 10% over pre-booked and so on-the-door registration is possible.   For our previous coverage about this year's Eurocon see our Autumnal 2011 Eurocon news.   Finally here is a recently released steampunk promotional video for the convention.

European SF Society confusion. There was a little concern in the run-up to this year's ESFS business meeting at Eurocon. The constitution, as viewed on the ESFS website up to March 2012, clearly stated that nominations for the ESFS Eurocon Awards needed to be made two months before the Eurocon. Yet as the two-month deadline came and went, there was no circular from ESFS to those who have attended the ESFS business meeting in recent years (there is a regular crowd of a hundred or so who go Eurocons at least once every three years or more for the past decade who are usually contacted). So what was the problem? Well die-hard Eurocon regulars (and they need to be die-hard) will recall that at Sweden 2011 the rules changed to nominations deadline being made one-month before the Eurocon, not two. 'A good recollection is needed as minutes of ESFS meetings are not only very brief but are not posted. This, combined with the lead officer not ensuring that the on-line version of the ESFS constitution was updated, resulted in the confusion. This ESFS managerial problem has happened before, such as last year (2011) when the new category of ESFS award (voted in 2010) had to be cancelled as not only was it not announced on-line on the ESFS site but it was not included in the nominating e-mail circulated prior to the 2011 Eurocon.

Eurocon 2013 will be in Kiev, Ukraine. The 35th (not counting Riga) European SF Convention will be held on 11th - 14th April 2013. The venue has just been announced and will be the Kiev Expo Plaza and not the previous Kiev Eurocon (2006) venue as originally envisioned. The Kiev Expo Plaza is a state-of-the-art exhibition and congress centre, the largest one in Ukraine, and almost up to Worldcon standards and certainly more than enough for a Eurocon. (We suspect the Ukrainian organisers will merge the Eurocon with a book trade or other event.)   (The last Kiev-venued Eurocon in 2006 is reviewed here.)

Eurocon 2014 site selection shortly to be decided at Zagreb 2012. There are two bids for the 2014 Eurocon: Ireland and Romania. These will be decided by delegate vote following presentations by both nations' bid teams at the European SF Society business meeting at Zagreb.   Both bids have their respective strengths and weaknesses (as discussed in the Eurocon subsection of our spring 2012 newscast).   Importantly both conventions will go ahead irrespective of being voted as a Eurocon. Ireland, if it fails to win the bid, will still go ahead as a post-worldcon relaxacon following the prospective London 2014 Worldcon.   Romania will still go ahead if it does not win the site bid, probably as a joint Euroconference together with an SF book fayre.
          The Ireland bid is to hold their event in Dublin the weekend after the prospective London Worldcon in August 2014.
          The Romanian bid is to hold their event Spring 2014 (so as not to clash with the August London Worldcon) in April/May in Bucharest and, as said, will probably be combined with an SF book fayre. Apparently, we are told, Bucharest has changed considerably since the last Romanian Eurocon in 2001 as Romania since has joined the European Union.
          In short irrespective of the outcome at Zagreb, with Eurocon, a likely Euroconference, and the prospective London 2014 Worldcon, there will be much SF fanac going on in Europe in 2014.

Eurocon 2015 had one pre-bid marker laid down at Sweden 2011. This was for Sankt-Petersburg, Russia.   Now, given that 2013 is Ukraine (Eastern Europe) and 2014 will be either Dublin or Romania (Western/Central Europe) the unofficial tradition of alternating the Eurocons between east and west Europe means that any 2015 rival bid to Sankt-Petersburg will most probably be another Eastern or Central European bid. As far as we know (and we may well be in error) Sankt-Petersburg is home to a number of the Fantlab.ru young-but-enthusiastic crowd. St Petersburg is, of course, the home of Interpresscon SF convention and the Wanderer fantasy convention not to mention Boris Strugatsky's Bronze Snail Awards.

Antwerp Belgium pre-bid marker for Eurocon in 2016 or 2017 was mooted at this year's British natcon.

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

For a list of national and major conventions, check out our convention diary.

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

FANDOM & OTHER NEWS

First SF convention! It was 75 years ago today, than Leeds taught fans how to play. They've been going in and out of style, but they guaranteed fans a smile... Yes, this Spring (3rd January, 2012 to be exact) saw the 75th anniversary of the Leeds Science Fiction League organised SF convention, that was the World's first such public-venued event. Held in the Theosophical Hall, Leeds, in 1937, a score of fans gathered including one Eric Frank Russell and a young Arthur Clarke: Russell was later to become the first person with whom Clarke would collaborate with story writing. +++ Twenty five years ago, the 50th anniversary was marked by the 1987 UK Eastercon, BECCON '87, that ran a number of retrospective events including a panel on 'Fandom, past, present and future' chaired by Vin¢ Clarke, and there was also an H. G. Wells 'Ghost of Honour' speech. (Strangely, Wells' ghost was exactly the same height as one Ian Watson, but then someone has to be.) That convention also saw the first edition of the (then print) Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation and so, yes, we are 25 years old.

Is SFX Weekender becoming Great Britain's Dragoncon?   With some 4,000 attending the 3rd SFX Weekender in the spring, the event has become Britain's largest annual residential gathering of fans and dwarfing Britain's traditional annual gathering of its SF clans, the UK Eastercon which typically sees somewhere between 500 and 1,000 depending on that year's organising team. As such it cannot be helped if some analogy is drawn with the USA's Dragoncon and the Worldcon as the former has around 40,000 attending the latter sees 3,000 – 6,000 warm bodies. Furthermore, as with Dragoncons and Worldcons, SFX Weekenders and Eastercons sees the former have more TV and film orientated and with younger, more gender-balanced fans attending, conversely the latter sees more SF/F bookish, male-dominated and older aficionados (though both do see a mix of those into SF visuals and words). This year's SFX Weekender was, as you may have guessed from the name, organised by SFX monthly magazine: think a thick Starlog if you are N. American or Mir Fantasika but without the computer games if you are from the former Sov-Bloc nations.   This year's event was held in a Pontins holiday camp (and if you are not a Brit, Pontins is a sort of post world War II phenomena where many folk can go on a holiday en masse with all facilities on one site) at Prestatyn, N. E. Wales.   It has to be said that 4,000 did stretch the facilities and so it was a packed affair with queues being common. Hugely popular were the stars of old films and TV shows – Red Dwarf, vintage Dr Who and Brian Blessed – whom many of those attending must have enjoyed when very young. But there were a dozen or so authors knocking about and trailers for recent film offerings. There was much enthusiasm and noise, but nowhere for a quiet sit down and chat, though the former's energy made up for the latter's anywhere to socially relax. Catering was a tad iffy, and the accommodation basic but hey, this was Pontins. The event also saw the presentation of the SFX Awards and much fun was had by all.

Romania's national convention up for grabs. 'Romcon' is the unofficial, and largely unused, title for Romania's national convention. Prior to the fall of the communist regime in 1990, what had passed for Romania's national convention was a government controlled affair. Since 1990 SF fandom has largely had to fend for itself though did receive significant governmental support for 1994 Eurocon in Timisoara. Atlantykron, held in a remote island a short distance from the hamlet of Capidava in the Danube biosphere conservation area, is a summer camp a third of whose mainly eastern Romania, Bucharest-based regulars are SF readers and writers, and for many years since 1990 this was the closest Romania had to a national convention or 'RomCon'.   Now Helion SF Club from Timisoara in western Romania has changed the name of its annual regional mini-convention to that of Romcon and this has raised some eyebrows in Romania's SF circles. Indeed eyebrows further defied gravity when this year's Helion days or RomCon (you take your pick), held at the end of March, had on its agenda the item of Romania's delegation to Eurocon, held the following month down the road in neighbouring Croatia (Zagreb). It looked to some as if Helion was attempting to control Romania's representation to the broader SF community. Of course this all simply could be over-enthusiasm on the part of Helion's organisers. However it is a bit like waving a red flag to a bull: Romania's fandom has traditionally been split between eastern and western Romania (though recently a group in Iasi has become particularly active and there are other small groups elsewhere). A new group – SRSFF (Society of Romanian SF/F) – was launched a few years ago that though largely based in Bucharest, it has attracted members from many places – both east and west – in Romania. Furthermore Helion has presented SRSFF members with prizes so the situation is not black and white. Nonetheless, if you were at this year's Eurocon in Zagreb and wondered why occasionally Romanians' conversation got a tad excited, you now know part of the back-story.

European SF & Science Museum is proposed by Romania's Helion SF group. Timisoara [Muzeul European al Anticipatiei] museum would look at the likely scientific development that will shape our future as well as the futures portrayed by science fiction. A neat idea which would be interesting except that as it stands the project depends on European funding be it most likely Council of Europe or (more likely) the European Commission. Helion itself is one of the two SF groups in Timisoara, Romania's most important city other than the capital Bucharest.   Apparently Timisoara's local government is seeking for the city to be granted the title of European Capital of Culture for 2020, and indeed the city is a very nice one with some great architecture as well as being where the 1990 revolution against the communist dictatorship started. (It also was the venue for a very excellent Eurocon in 1994 as well as both the 1999 and 2003 International Weeks of Science and SF in which SF2 Concatenation was involved: so Timisoara certainly has the SFnal pedigree.)   However there are two blots on the horizon. First, funding has not (yet) been secured. Secondly, one of this venture's leading lights has a somewhat colourful history of financial reliability that may not withstand potential European funder scrutiny.

Romania's 'Final Frontier' Science Fiction & Fantasy book show & fayre was held between 17-18th of March, 2012, at the National Art Centre 'Tinerimea Romana' [Romanian Youth Centre'] in a fairly central part of Bucharest. It will be highly probable that in the event of Romania winning the site selection bid a this year 2012 Eurocon in Zagreb for the 2014 Eurocon then Romcon and Final Frontier will be a joint event. +++ Also the Seniorii Imaginatiei' ['Lords of Imagination'] Science Fiction novel awards were presented at this year's Final Frontier.

British Fantasy Award gets organisational re-vamp.. Following the controversy over the 2011 awards, as previously suspected, the award has shifted from an open vote to a combined democratic vote with a juried award. The problem with the open vote is that the number of British Fantasy Society members who vote are small so that just a small amount of lobbying or a cohort of friends/colleagues can swing the award. No-one suspects that there was any outright dishonesty but it was clear from last year's results that changes had to be made. Now the broad membership will determine a short-list and then a small judging panel will determine the finalists. The judging panel for the 2012 awards has now been announced as:-
James Barclay: James is the author of the two Raven trilogies: Chronicles of The Raven and Legends of The Raven, and the epic fantasy duology, The Ascendants of Estorea. He has written two novellas, Light Stealer and Vault of Deeds, and his latest book Elves: Once Walked With Gods is out now.
Hal Duncan: Hal’s debut Vellum was published in 2005, garnering nominations for the Crawford, Locus, BFS and World Fantasy Award, and winning the Gaylactic Spectrum, Kurd Lasswitz and Tahtivaeltaja. He has since published the sequel Ink, the novella Escape from Hell!, various short stories, and a poetry collection.
Maura McHugh: Maura is a writer, freelance web designer and IT consultant. She’s currently writing two comic book series (Rkisin Dubh and Jennifer Wilde) for Atomic Diner in Ireland, and she also works for the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild as their webmaster, blogger and newsletter editor.
Esther Sherman: Esther is a medical underwriter, burlesque performer, voracious reader, computer games addict and geek culture fan. She is co-editor of Nasty Snips 2, a horror anthology from Pendragon Press due in Autumn 2012.
Damien G. Walter: Damien is a writer of weird and speculative fiction. In 2005 he was shortlisted for the Douglas Coupland short fiction contest, and more recently won a grant from Arts Council England to work on his first novel. He writes and reviews for The Guardian andIO9 among others.
The jury will not only deliberate on a shortlist of four nominations as determined by the members of the British Fantasy Society. The jury shall also have powers to add nominations where it identifies an egregious omission. The British Fantasy Awards 2012 will be presented during FantasyCon in Brighton in September.

Pyrkon, Poland's largest convention held. The convention attracted over 4,000 and was the 12th in the convention series. It took place in two of the buildings of Poznan World Trade Centre. Its size was because it centred not just on books but more evenly across film, TV, manga, comics, anime, gaming, cosplay and books. Ian McDonald who was a UK author guest received a post-convention message saying that some 6,200 attended! By all accounts the sunny weather helped what was already a successful event. Ian MacDonald was talking about how SF has become essentially a visually dominated field and that 'hard SF' may be a term that damages interest in the genre as it suggests to the uninitiated that SF is somehow difficult… Polish Worldcon anyone?

London's SF Circle sees three months in succession low turnout. The London SF Circle's meetings on the first Thursday evening of the month was the inspiration for Arthur C. Clarke's Tales for the White Hart techno and SF stories. The gathering at the Melton Mowbray has seen its highs and lows over the past half century and more, and. At times the numbers of SF fans, authors, editors, book-dealers, scientists and semi-pros have been between 100-200. However February, March and April (2012) saw numbers below 30. The good news is that this is not due any lack of popularity but a run of competing events. In particular February's meeting clashed with SFX Weekender in N. Wales and April's was the day before Britain's national convention. However given that the Spring has seen much going on for London's SF communities, the summer could be a time for you (should you live in London or Home Counties) to check it out. It is an evening of convivial, like-minded souled chat with a drink and/or one of the pub's pies: that is to say, you talk to like-minded souls and not the drink or pies… The meetings are in the basement bar of 18 Holborn, EC1N 2LE on the first Thursday of the month from 6.30pm.

Olympus, the 2012 British Eastercon, closed itself to new members prior to the event at 1,352 registrants. This is the first time as far as we know that an Eastercon has closed its membership due to large numbers, and this in turn was arguably due to the huge popularity of this year's principal GoH, fantasy author George R. R. Martin, whose book sales in 2011 tipped the SF/F print market into growth and who has sold nine million copies of his books worldwide. Arguably George's popularity boosted numbers and so Eastercon's attendees were perhaps a little younger and more gender balanced than is usual.   The event itself was far less programmed than the 2010 Eastercon that was largely organised by associates of this year's team. That this year's Eastercon was not to have such a developed programme was months earlier indirectly signalled by the convention's Progress Report 2's publication being delayed by over four months from its original slated release date of November (2011) to a week before the 2012 Easter and the convention itself. And then Progress Report 3 never appeared.   Unprecedentedly, PR2 also warned that those programme participants requiring PowerPoint should bring their own laptops; a policy that led to compatibility problems over the weekend. (Which begged the question why the postage and print costs saved from there being no PR3 could not have gone to purchasing a couple of second-hand laptops?)   The delay in formulating the programme inevitably meant that it was dominated by panel discussions as opposed to a mix with talks, quizzes and other items that require preparation. There were also several programme cancellations and/or changes announced on the first day, something that is always to be regretted.   The science programme was largely saved by an astrophysicist volunteer the committee brought in just a few months before the event who, despite having little time, successfully organised a few astronomy and physics related items.   Of course, when push comes to shove, fans and authors can make the most of a convention despite committee organisational shortcomings and Olympus did have a lively party spirit and a great social atmosphere.   Meanwhile the bookroom saw a respectable variety of traders and there was also a good art show.   One major innovation (surely with commercial opportunities) was a new mobile phone and PC app that allowed remote access to the programme timetable, details on individual items and the bookmarking of those users might want to attend so as to create their own personal timetable. This facility was very popular for those that had the technology (a considerable proportion of those attending). Full marks here to those concerned.   The GoH, as anticipated, was popular and genial.   The bar saw a couple of guest real ales and one real-scrumpy (cider) that were greatly liked. The Hugo Award nominations were announced mid-convention, as were the BSFA Award wins.
          And some blog reports can be found here:-
                    franterminiello.wordpress.com
                    www.penwing.me.uk/node/294
                    www.annelyle.com
                    www.antipope.org
                    nwhyte.livejournal.com/
                    http://alankria.livejournal.com
And a short personal video review: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3onhU3TYaU.
And then there was the BSFA Award preamble that was a tad risqué to the point that some were offended. To take just one example:-
                    www.penwing.me.uk/node/295
And others took it out on the BSFA, and so the BSFA felt an apology was warranted:-
                    www.bsfa.co.uk/news/bsfa-awards-ceremony-an-apology
And the preambler offered a word of explanation.

Tanith Lee summer audience in London. The author of many SF novels as well as juvenile and also adult fantasy books, will be a guest of the British SF Association's meeting at the Melton Mowbray basement pub meeting (18 Holborn, EC1N 2LE) from 6pm on Wednesday 27th June.

Manchester's Festival of Fantastic Films PR1 out and GoHs announded. Progress Report 1 is out and on the fest website (for linksee the convention diary if you are reading this in 2012). On the GoH front, Derren Nesbitt (Where Eagles Dare, Dr Who, and The Blue Max) has confirmed that he will attend. Also confirmed is Teri Scoble (Village of the Damned, and Timeslip). After having to cancel last year Derek Fowlds (Yes Minister, Frankenstein Created Woman and Tower of Evil) has indicated that he would like to attend this year. This year's Fest will also see the release of a limited run book Over 20 Years of Film Fandom A Tribute to.... The Festival of Fantastic Films costing £25. Due to the limited run, advance ordering is recommended before June 2012. Enquiries to the Fest website (for link see the convention diary in 2012). Much of the rest of the PR was a retrospective on last year's Fest (Darrell has his own here). Of course there will be the usual. A vintage SF/fantasy/horror film stream screening as they were meant using celluloid reel-to-reel projection. A stream of recent independent fantastic films plus guest interviews, and also a stream with entries to the 2012 independent film and amateur short film competitions. A Saturday market of memorabilia and DVDs, an auction and all lubricated by a bar as well as dining hall centrally located between screening halls, and rounded off by a late night quiz on Sunday. Typically a couple of hundred attend so it is small, intimate and friendly. It is also Britain's longest running SF film fest. With the venue 6 minutes or less walk from Manchester's main (Piccadilly) rail station it is also easy to get to.

Fandom Forever is a new science fiction fanzine, in English, from Denmark. It will be featuring Danish and international writers, poets, and scholars. There will be three issues this year but the aim is for a quarterly. For a free PDF copy contact www.fandomforever.dk.

A search for British Isles biggest Harry Potter fan is being made by libraries and bookshops in the UK and Ireland. The competition marks the 15th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Running between 2th June and31st July (2012) the prizes include a family Harry Potter holiday. +++ Harry Potter novels have now sold over 450 million copies worldwide in 72 languages.

For a list of national and major conventions and their web links check out our convention diary.

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
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Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
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Summer 2012

NET WATCH

The UrbanFantasist is a new webzine with author interviews, flash fiction and Charles Christian books' promotions. Details at www.urbanfantasist.com.

Bahrain and Belarus have been added to Reporters Without Borders' annual list of 'enemies of the internet' for restrictive practices criminalising users. Overall in 2011 some 199 arrests of internet campaigners were recorded over the year - a 31% increase on 2010. In Belarus the government has increased the number of blocked websites and arrested bloggers while the police held 'preventative conversations' with others during which were 'asked' not to cover dissident news.   Other countries that are called 'enemies of the internet' are: Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.   In addition Reporters without Borders is watching Australia as it is attempting to introduce a mandatory web-filtering system to block content deemed inappropriate. France is also being watched due to its 'three strikes' policy on illegal downloads that can lead to users' net access being prevented.

Encyclopaedia Britannica ends print editions. After 244 years the print edition is going and it is the online version from here on in. The firm itself, today focuses mainly on developing educational software.

China cracking down on internet social sites. The study, reported in New Scientist, by David Bamman, Brendan O'Connor and Prof Noah Smith from the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon analysed short messages sent via the Sina Weibo service: one of China's most popular social networking sites and the equivalent of Twitter. The Sina site let the researchers note 57 million messages sent between June 27 and September 30, 2011. Three months later they checked to see which messages disappeared due to the authorities' censors. censored topics include the Falun Gong spiritual movement and human rights activist Ai Weiwei. It also showed that the authorities react quickly to new topics and new usage of words that are adopted as publicly acknowledge code. For example, 'lianghui' was censored shortly after it started to be used to indicate a 'planned protest'. Different regions, such as Tibet where near half the messages disappeared, were more censored than others such as 12% in Beijing. +++ The authorise now want Sina Weibo's 260 million users to register their verifiable ID details.

Olympics likely to slow internet. The London Olympics this summer (2012) could well slow internet speeds in Britain says the Internet Service Providers' Association. It is predicted that the net could see a a terabit of traffic at peak times during the Olympics, the equivalent of 1,500 people downloading a feature-length DVD every minute. +++ SF2 Concatenation's folk close to the proposed 2014 London Worldcon tell us that they have everything sorted with the technology to ensure that any Worldcon held in London will not strain the nation's internet. Now the Olympics organisers might take note...

 

MISCELLANEOUS -- COMPUTER CORNER

Over 26,000 have downloaded a malware operating system. Created by the Anonymous group and based on Linux, the 1.5GB download is based on Ubuntu a popular version of the Linux operating system and available from the respected SourceForge.net. AnonOps on Twitter said it was 'wrapped in trojans'. Currently, as this page is posted, the concerns are being checked but prospective downloaders are urged to exercise caution.

Portal 2 receives 'best game' award at the Bafta Video Game Awards. Portal 2 also recently won a prize at the Golden Joystick Awards. +++ Battlefield 3 also did well at the Bafta Video Game Awards.

 

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Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
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Summer 2012

LAST SEASON'S SCIENCE NEWS SUMMARY

GENERAL SCIENCE

CERN neutrinos not faster-than-light. Well, it was fascinating to contemplate while it lasted but last season's news of faster-than-light neutrinos from CERN. Our physicist was right in that it was "experimental error in matching the attributing the time of the receiving neutrino" even if his other idea of wave form spread was off the mark. Apparently there were problems with the receiving timing mechanisms and their being synchronised with the departure clocks. Separately the experiment has been re-run by another team and the results show that the neutrinos travel at the speed of light. So no re-write of physics let alone faster-than–light drive. The Minos experiment in the US and the T2K experiment in Japan will also hopefully provide corroboration.

First scientist possibly to run World Bank, Jim Yong Kim. To date the World Bank has to date been headed-up by either a financier, economist or a politician… and look where that has got us. Now President Obama (US) has nominated Jim Yong Kim and this means that he is likely to get the job. He is an anthologist and also a clinician who previously led the World health Organization's HIV/AIDS unit 2004-6.

Camera sees behind wall. Note, this is seeing behind a wall and not through it. Place an object behind a barrier and light from the object still reaches the observer by bouncing off objects further behind and then back to the observer. The camera works by using a laser flash. The camera records the light it receives every two picoseconds and then with a computer this information is used to calculate the likely shape of the hidden object.

 

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Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
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Summer 2012

ASTRONOMY AND SPACE

Two more twin sun planetary systems found. Only last season the first system with a planet with two suns was found, Kepler-16b. Now two more systems each with closely orbiting twin suns that in turn have planets orbiting about them have now been discovered. The discovery by the Kepler orbital observatory that is monitoring some 150,000 stars in the constellation regions of Cygnus and Lyra and have identified 2,000 planetary system candidates for confirmation.   Now that three of these have been found to have circumbinary planets (planets that go around a binary/pair of stars) it is possible to make a tentative estimate as to how common such systems are. The suggestion is that of short-period (closely orbiting) binary star systems about 1% have circumbinary planets. This in turn means that there must be of the order of millions of such planetary systems in our galaxy that itself has a hundred million or so closely orbiting star pairs and a hundred billion stars all together.

10s of billions of Super-Earths in Galaxy and around a billion in the Goldilocks liquid water zone. Europe's HARPS (High Accuracy Radial-Velocity Planet Searcher) is based in Chile (hence looks at the southern sky not the northern as NASA's Kepler does). HARPS detects exoplanets in from the way their gravity makes a parent star appear to jump as it is orbited. The HARPS survey of Red Dwarfs (one of the most common types of star, with 160 billion of them in the Galaxy) so far has found 9 Super-Earths (planets with one to 10 times the mass, and 1.25 – 2 the radius, of the Earth). Their survey suggest that that about 20% of all red dwarf stars have a Super-Earth orbiting in the habitable zone where liquid water can exist on the surface of the planet. This means that there are scores of Super-Earths within 30 light years of the Earth (Journal of Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2012). +++ However before you get too excited, our Earth systems scientist Jonathan points out that only 3% of these are likely to have an orbitally stabilising moon and even with these photosynthesis is harder to achieve under lower-energy red light than yellow stars like our Sun's. In short, they may be a nice place to visit but you would not necessarily want to live there. Even so the stats are increasingly looking like there are many Earths in the Galaxy. +++ HARPS North based in the Canary Isles went live at the beginning of April and this will help confirm NASA's Kepler's exoplanet discoveries to date. (Kepler is thought to have a ~10% false-positive rate.)

Europe's new, low-cost launcher takes off. ESA's Vega launcher had a successful maiden flight in February with nine satellites. It included Italy's Laser Relativity Satellite (LARES) which will look at the Earth's gravity distortion of space-time.

Europe is still go for Mars without US. Since NASA pulled out of ExoMars with the European Space Agency due to government cuts, ESA has decided to continue regardless. Then in 2008 ExoMars delayed from 2013 to 2016. ESA will now team up with Russia who will provide the rocket launchers: bit of a gamble here. The 2016 ExoMars satellite will launch on a Russian Proton rocket and investigate the Mars' atmosphere and also launch a small static lander. Then there will be a 2018 rover on Mars. The six-wheeled robot rover goes back to the one originally designed before Europe was to have teamed up with the US; so the rover it will be smaller and around 300kg. It will carry an exobiology package, 'Pasteur', to look for signs of past or present life.

Water possibly detected on Mercury. NASA's MESSENGER probe has detected radar bright patches that match with hollows that are in shadow and so shielded from Mercury's 400°C day. NASA recently announced that the MESSENGER mission would be extended to 2013.

Mercury's core is 85% planet's radius. After a year in orbit about Mercury, MESSENGER gravity map suggests an unusually large iron core surrounded by a relatively thin iron sulphide.

 

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Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
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Summer 2012

NATURAL SCIENCE

Flower blooms from 30,000 year-old plant tissue. 30,000 years ago and the Earth was in the depth of the last glacial. David Gilichinsky of Russia's Academy of Science's biology and soil science institute took plant placental tissue (of the equivalent type as the white part from inside of a pepper that in turn gives rise to seeds) from the remains of Silene stenophylla, a small white-flowered plant, that had been buried beneath 30 metres of NE Siberian tundra in the same strata as bones of mammoths and long-horned bison. Nurturing this tissue in vitro (lab cultivation plates) resulted in shoots that could be planted. Plants have previously been raised from 2,000 year old seed but this new approach. These resurrected Silene stenophylla are now the oldest living things on the Earth. (Yashina, S. et al., 2012, PNAS.).

Dinosaur forests mapped. The world's Cretaceous forests have been mapped in a comprehensive way for the first time. This ecological map of the Earth 100 million years ago was when dinosaurs roamed and the Earth's carbon dioxide concentration was around 1,000 parts per million (ppm): it is currently (2012) around 390ppm. Palaeontologists had researched several thousand locations for Cretaceous forests but these had never before been plotted on a single map as it has by two researchers from Royal Holloway College, London. Monkey Puzzle tree forests covered most of the planet especially in the very hot tropics. However at mid-latitudes there were cypress woodlands and near the poles pines dominated. Towards the end of the Cretaceous there were far more flowering trees like magnolias. Because of the high temperature and carbon dioxide, Cretaceous trees grew at twice the rate of current trees and there was very fast growth at the poles: some Antarctica fossil trees had growth rings two millimetres apart which today we only see in temperate climate trees (Peralta-Medina, E. & Falcon, Lang H. J., 2012, Geology, 40 (3)).

Gorilla genome mapped. The western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) genome has been mapped. The results show that 30% of gorillas' genome is closer to humans and chimpanzees than humans and chimpanzees are to each other. Genomic comparison also suggests speciation events 6 million years ago (mya) for gorillas from the human/chimpanzee line (and incidentally 3.7 mya for human and chimpanzee speciation).

Oetzi 5,300 year-old 'Iceman' genome sequenced. The frozen remains of Oetzi were found in the Alps in 1991. The genome analysis reveals that he was more closely related to modern inhabitants of Corsica and Sardinia than to people in the Alps. His ancestors most likely migrated from the Middle East. He had O-type blood, was lactose intolerant, and was predisposed to heart disease.

More super-hot summers ahead. Well, this is only to be expected with global warming, but how often will they take place in the future? Philip Duffy and Claudia Tebaldi made simulations derived from 16 global climate models to ensure that they reflected real life summer extremes between 1950 and 1999. They then ran their simulations forward as with global warming. They found that even in regions that have experienced little warming so far, for extreme hot summer events seen only once in 20 years (5% of time) 1950-'99, these will increase in frequency to at least 70% chance in any given year by 2064.

Global water report from UNESCO warns of mid-century scarcity. The Wold Water Development Report points out that not only do currently 1 billion people do not have access to safe water, more than 80% of the World's waste water is not collected or treated. Meanwhile millions die of waterborne disease each year. Those from developed nations use the most water per person. The US consumes about 9% of the water extracted globally. More populous China extracts 12% and Western Europe 6.3%.

Frankincense, another bioresource threatened. Of course it is old news that we now need more than one Earth to support our developing global civilisation. Now it looks like frankincense is among the latest resource identified as threatened: ecologists estimate that the Boswellia tree, whose resin is the basis for the luxury incense, may decline by around 90% over the next 50 years. Monitoring over 6,000 trees for two years in N.W. Ethiopia, the ecologists then modelled the species' future demography. The results were that production could be halved in just 15 years! Multiple factors are the cause and not just excessive harvesting: woodland clearance, cattle grazing and the long-horn beetle pest are all contributing to the problem (Groenendijk, Eshete, Sterck et al, 2011, Journal of Applied Ecology). Expect the cost of a full-blown Christmas with all the trimmings (if you include three wise men complete with gifts) to radically increase.

High fat diets could create positive feedback in brain encouraging further eating. Mice on a high-fat diet have been found to generate four times more neurons in the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that regulates eating) than mice not fed on the this diet. When brain cell activity in these high fat diet mice was blocked the mice gained less weight (Nature Neuroscience dx.doi.org.10.1038/nn.3079, 2012).

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
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Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

FORTHCOMING BOOK RELEASES

Forthcoming Science Fiction book and graphic novel releases

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

 

Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Doctor Moreau by Guy Adams, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-68933-7.
A potentially entertaining mash.Suited by Jo Anderton, Angry Robot, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-66156-2.
Science fantasy. Tanyana has chosen to help the Keeper, to stand against the Puppet Men, who continue to force the Debris into unnatural creations. And when even her own suit becomes aggressive against her…

vN by Madeline Ashby, Angry Robot, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-66261-3.
Amy Peterson is a self-replicating humanoid robot. For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, little Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive. Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade’s history – like the fact that the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed… Which means that everyone wants a piece of her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her….

Turbulence by Samit Basu, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16119-7.
Apparently this is a sort of Lost meets Heroes.

Elixir by Dean Crawford, Simon & Schuster, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-857-20472-1.
Apparently it is along the lines of Indiana Jones meets alien.

The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier – Invincible by Jack Campbell, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-68921-4.
2nd in the new Captain Black Jack series.

Calinban's War by James S. A. Corey, Orbit, trdpbk, £13.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49990-1.
The war against Mars and Earth is off again…

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-44349-9.
A debut, SF novel primarily for the juvenile market. It is 2788 and only the handicapped live full-time on Earth. Jarra is stuck on Earth, as her immune system cannot cope with other worlds, while everyone else portals around the Universe. But can she prove to the norms that she's more than just an Earth girl?

Dead Space: Catalyst by B. K. Evenson, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-68965-8.
A novel based on the popular computer game.

Pax Omega by Al Ewing, Rebellion, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-907-99290-2.
Steampunk superhero action.

The Other Log of Phileas Fogg by Philip Jose Farmer, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-68964-1.
A re-print of the 1973 novel. Part of the Wold Newton cannon of Farmer's work. (The Wold Newton back-story is that a meteorite landed near Wold Newton creating super-mutants and these characters appear in the Wold Newton tales. However it is the stories of the larger-than-life characters, and not their origin that are the focus of these books.) Philip José Farmer is a much respected author of science-fantasy novels through the entire 1960s to the early 1980s.

Time's Last Gift by Philip Jose Farmer, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-68965-8.
Reprint of his 1972 novel.

Dark Reading Matter by Jasper Fforde, Hodder, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-340-96311-1.
An SFnal detective story.

Final Days by Gary Gibson, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-51969-4.
Space opera, hard-ish SFnal thriller. Recommended. Click on title link for review.

The Thousand Emperors by Gary Gibson, Tor, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-74878-1.
This time it is murder in space in a tale set in the same universe as Final Days. So expect a hard-ish SF space opera. Jonathan describes Gibson as 'Reynolds light' (this is praise).

Heaven's Shadow by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-54137-4.
A UFO is detected heading towards Earth. Don't panic…

Omega Point by Guy Haley, Angry Robot, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-66148-7.
A detective adventure in the 22nd century. A powerful artificial intelligence called k52 has a plan to take over the world. If it were to create an artificial reality based on our own universe it could theoretically gain enough data to be able to alter reality itself, turning k52 into the ultimate arbiter of mankind’s fate…

Manhattan in Reverse by Peter F. Hamilton, Pan, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-5220-5.
Hamilton stripped of bloat. Short stories from the hard-ish and space opera-ish SF author of huge-page-count tomes. Can he write in the short form? Find out with this collection. Who knows Hamilton may get a raft of new readers from those previously put off by the sheer size of his novels.

Empty Space by M. John Harrison, Gollancz, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09631-8.
This is part of the loose sequence following Light and Nova Swing. There is an alien research device the size of a brown dwarf and in it is a woman who is neither alive nor dead…

X the Unknown by Shaun Hutson, Hammer, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-099-55602-0.
This is the new novelisation of the 1956 Quatermass film based on the classic (but now very dated) BBC television series. Mysterious deaths take place at a remote nuclear establishment and the staff are behaving strangely. A job for scientist Quatermass.

11.22.63 by Stephen King, Hodder, pbk, £7.99, ISBN 9781-444-72733-3.
Horror maestro Stephen King in SF-thriller mode with a dash of time travel.

Half Sick Of Shadows by David Logan, Doubleday, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06951-6.
This is the joint-winning novel from the first Terry Pratchett 'Anywhere but here, anywhen but now' competition. A dazzling, tragi-comic tale of childhood wonder, time-travelling poets and theoretical physics. On the eve of Granny Hazel’s burial in the back garden, a stranger in his time machine visits five year old Edward with an odd request. Edward agrees to be his friend. Author David Logan has a BSc in Sociology and an MA in Ethics and the Philosophy of Religion from the University of Ulster, and also a BA in English Literature and Language from the Open University. He has written fiction for the SF, Horror and Fantasy small presses and has edited and published his own fanzine.

Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan, Doubleday, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-857-52075-3.
This is the joint-winning novel from the first Terry Pratchett 'Anywhere but here, anywhen but now' competition. A bioweapon ends up turning cows into zombies with a penchant for pre-dinner sex with their victims. Britain's fate then lies in the hands of an abattoir worker, a teenage vegan and an inept news reporter. When Britain begins a rapid descent into chaos and ministers cynically attempt to blame al-Qaeda, Lesley McBrien stumbles upon proof that the government is behind the outbreak. Standing in the way are rampaging hordes of animals, a ruthless security agent and an army ready to shoot anybody with a case of the sniffles on the off-chance the virus has mutated. Three losers. Overwhelming odds. A single outcome: the world is screwed. Author Michael Logan is a Scottish journalist currently living in Nairobi.

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer, Simon & Schuster, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-849-837811-1.
A Virginian housewife gets worried that her life and home may be impacted by a meteor. Meanwhile her husband is orchestrating an uprising of robots on the Moon, and her local weatherman has gone mad.

The Map of Time by Felix J, Palma, Harper, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 9780-007-34413-0.
A highly literate and stunning book by Palma that took mainland Europe by storm that was a big hit in Palma's own country, picking up Spain's Premio Athenea Prize for 2008 and its Xatafi-Cyberdark Award in 2009. Its first English outing was last year ( 2011). Set in Victorian England this adventure/thriller has a steampunk feel and for much of the story is mundane SF before the hard SF ending kicks in. Along the way we meet the luminary of time travel, H. G. Wells. Apparently British Isles' hardback sales were not good, but then hardback sales of debut authors never are. There is hope for this the paperback edition. Highly recommended.

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, Doubleday, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-857-52009-8.
The UK’s bestselling fantasy writer and a giant of British SF combine forces to write an astonishing, mind-bending new series...The Long Earth. 2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Junior cop Sally Jansson is called out to the house of Willis Lynsey, a reclusive scientist, for an animal-cruelty complaint: the man was seen forcing a horse in through the door of his home. Inside there is no horse. But Sally finds a kind of home-made utility belt. She straps this on - and ‘steps’ sideways into an America covered with virgin forest. Willis came here with equipment and animals, meaning to explore and colonise. And when Sally gets back, she finds Willis has put the secret of the belt on the internet. The great migration has begun...

The Educated Ape and Other Wonders of the Worlds by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08641-8.
Rankin in steampunk mode with another alternate Victorian tale featuring Darwin the monkey.

The Mechanical Messiah and Other Marvels of the Modern Age by Robert Rankin, Gollancz, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08638-8.
Click on the title link for a review.

Jack Glass by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-12762-3.
Murderer Jack Glass' escapades are about to be uncovered…

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson, Orbit, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 97801-841-49997-0.
Humanity has now spread out across the solar system. Stan has won a couple of Hugo Awards in his time so this, his latest, will be worth checking out.

Sandie Walker is Stranded by Madeline Roux, Headline, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-755-37917-0.
Zombie apocalypse tale.

Space Marines Battles: Legion of the Damned by Bob Sanders, Black Library, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-1-849-70142-6.

Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-12958-0.
The president of the USA is shot in the head by a would-be assassin. Rushed to hospital and barely saved from death, he discovers that he has new memories: memories that are not his own. A scientific experiment has gone awry, and a small group of people now remember each other's lives. And when one of those people's lives involved access to the most secret and dangerous information in the world, everything will change…   Robert Sawyer has a signing tour this summer (2012).

Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley, New York Review of Book Classics, pbk, £9.99. 978-1-590-17494-4.
Tales from the, sadly late, SF grandmaster. Some humorous, many hard SF, some allegorical, all written with depth and fluidity. Hugely recommended for those building a collection of books representative of the genre. Sheckley was a giant, and a good egg: he came to one of our International Weeks of SF that itself was immortalised, albeit disguisedly, in a Sheckley short story published in Fantasy & Science Fiction. But we are not biased; Google 'Robert Sheckley' and see his reputation for yourself.

Mechagnosis by Douglas Thompson, Dog Horn, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-907-13329-9.
Crime. Science fantasy.

Living the Low-Life: Mega City Undercover Series by Rob Williams et al 2000AD/Rebellion, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-907-51928-4.
Graphic novel set in the futuristic Judge Dredd universe but following the team of undercover judges – the Wally Squad. A must for Dredd fans. Recommended.

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson, Simon & Schuster, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-20414-1.
An AI supercomputer goes rogue and before you can say 'Arnie's Terminator' it is hell bent on wiping out the human race… Now all this is familiar SFnal territory but what makes this slightly intriguing a prospect to read is that the author had a PhD in robotics and is also the author of the popular science book How to Survive the Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion.

Amped by Daniel H. Wilson, Simon & Schuster, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-471-10203-5
In the not too distant future people can enhance their abilities – in effect get some sort of super power – due to artificial implants that 'amplify' abilities. Such people – 'amps' – cause envy and some amps cause problems. Soon there is a backlash against amps and restrictive laws are passed…

Daylight on Iron Mountain by David Wingrove, Corvus, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-848-87833-4.

Our latest in-depth reviews of recent fiction books can be found linked from the whats new index.

In depth reviews of hundreds of fiction books can be found linked alphabetically by author off the reviews index.

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

Forthcoming Fantasy and Horror Book Releases

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie, Gollancz, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0575-08385-1.
The paperback release of last year's hardback. See other Abercrombie reviews: Before They Are Hanged, Best Served Cold and The Blade Itself.

The King's Blood by Daniel Abraham, Orbit, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49889-8.
This is the sequel to Dragon's Path.

Hands of the Ripper by Guy Adams, Hammer, pbk, £6.99. ISBN 978-0-099-55385-4.
This is the new novelisation of the 1971 Hammer film.

Iron Winter by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. 978-0-575-08928-0.
Continuing the pre-Roman saga of ancient Britain.

Exit Kingdom by Alden Bell, Tor, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-74865-1
This is the prequel to the rather good post-apocalyptic zombie novel
Reapers are the Angels. So you can either start with this and then get Reapers (probably best) or get Reapers which is already out in paperback to whet your appetite as to how it began.

13 by Kelly Armstrong, Orbit, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-1-841-49803-4.
An 'Otherworld' story in the popular series.

Tarzan of the Apes and Other Stories by Edgar Rice Borroughs, Gollancz, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-575-12916-0.
Now in case you are unaware of the early 20th century US author Edgar Rice Burroughs' (and this is probably for our more younger regulars) he is the writer behind the current John Carter of Mars film (drawn from the Barsoom series of books). Tarzan is his other classic fantasy creation. A plane crashes in the jungle and a surviving baby is brought up by apes with whom he learns to communicate. Lord of the Jungle he eventually encounters those from 'civilisation' and discovers that he is the heir to the Lord Greystoke estate in England.   This collection from Gollancz brings together for the first time in a single volume six early Tarzan novels: Tarzan of the Apes (1912), The Return of Tarzan (1913), The Beasts of Tarzan (1914), The Son of Tarzan (1915), Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (1916) and Jungle Tales of Tarzan (1919).   Six novels for £20: not bad. And Gollancz usually do a good job of the physical production of these past classics. Recommended.

Haemorrhaging Slave of an Obese Eunuch by Tom Bradley, Dog Horn, trdpbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-907-13303-9.
A collection of shorts including some set in ancient Greece, prehistoric Hindustan and post WWII Japan.

Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook, Penguin Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-241-95668-7.
The second in the Iron Seas steampunk sequence.

There Be Dragons by Anthony D. Brown, Book Guild, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-1-846-24695-1.
The first in a trilogy.

Insatiable by Meg Cabot, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-46212-4.
Sick about hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper. Meena is familiar with the supernatural. After all she knows how you are going to die: she's a precog!

The Shape Stealer by Lee Carroll, Bantam, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06629-4.
Dark urban fantasy. Garet James and Will Hughes find themselves back in 21st century Paris, each with an unusual romantic quandary. The 400 year-old remorseful vampire that Garet still loves remains trapped in time, in 1602, as is Marguerite, the young Will’s love, who might reconsider her decision to reject him now that he has become an unvampire. Their time reversing prospects include guidance from the Institut Chronologique and from another time-traveller, the astronomer Johannes Kepler who Will encounters on one of the bridges across the Seine. It is by no means an easy task. And complicating things further is the fact that they appear to have brought with them a monster from the past: the shape-shifting, blood-drinking Marduk.

The Watchtower by Lee Carroll, Bantam, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-553-82568-8.
Dark urban fantasy.

The Devil's Looking Glass: The Sword of Albion Trilogy Book 3 by Mark Chadbourn, Bantam, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06249-4.
The third swashbuckling, supernatural adventure featuring Elizabethan England’s answer to James Bond, the dashing swordsman and spy, Will Swyfte. 1593: The dreaded alchemist, black magician and spy Dr John Dee is missing... Terror sweeps through the court of Queen Elizabeth, for in Dee’s possession is an obsidian mirror, a mysterious object of great power which legend says could set the world afire. Mark Chadbourn is a two-time winner of the British Fantasy Award.

Path of the Renegade by Andy Chambers, Black Library, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-70136-5.
An Elder Path story.

Trinity Moon by Elspeth Cooper, Gollancz, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-575-09619-6.
Teia's people contemplate a dangerous strategy in order to reclaim their homeland.

Empire of Saviours by A. J. Dalton, Gollancz, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-575-12312-0.
This is the first from a previously self-published author of the Necromancer sequence.

The Black Mausoleum by Stephen Deas, Gollancz, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-575-10048-0.
The world faces a dragon threat.

The Emperor's Gift by Aaron Dembiski-Bowden, Black Library, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-1-849-70189-1.
A 'Grey Knights' novel.

Shadow by Will Elliott, Jo Fletcher Books, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-857-38140-8.
2nd in the 'Pendulum' trilogy. Entering a new world through a door in an old railway arch, Eric and Case find themselves having to elude Tormentors and war as one of the great dragons has escaped prison.

The Stranger's Magic by Max Frei, Gollancz, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-575-08984-6.
Frei is a Russian best-seller and this is the next in the sequence following The Stranger. Frei – the protagonist and not the author – is now an established magician with a knighthood.

Capathia by Matt Furbeck, Angry Robot, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-66201-9.
The lucky went down with the ship. Billed as Titanic meets 30 Days of Night.

Queen of Kings by Maria Dahrana Headley, Bantam, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-50039-7.
Cleopatra sells her soul to save her lover but becomes an immortal with a hankering for blood… First in a trilogy.

Low Town: The Straight Razor Cure Hodder, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-444-72131-7.
Fantasy murder story. An impressive debut novel.

Waking Nightmares by Christopher Golden, Simon & Schuster, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978—1-847-39928-1.
More from the Shadow Saga.

Shadow of the Night by Deborah Harkness, Headline, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0755-38473-0.
Historian Diane Bishop is descended from a line of witches. Matthew Clairmont is a vampire. In search of another, powerful witch, both go back in time to London of 1590.

Irenicon Book One Aiden Harte, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-857-38896-4.
Set in alternative Italy during renaissance.

Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hillburn, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-38728-8.
This is billed as vampire chicklit.

Queer and Loathing on the Yellow Brick Road by Deb Hoag, Dog Horn, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-907-13322-0.
An alternative Oz where a queer Dorothy meets a transvestite journalist called Frank.

City of Dragons by Robin Hobb, Voyager, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-007-27380-5.
The dragons and their keepers have discovered the city of Kelsingro but so far only Heeby has succeeded in flying over the river to enter the fabled city. She has a strong following.

Inheritance by Robin Hobb, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-44634-6.
The mass market paperback edition of Hobb's collection of novellas and stories.

Sworn in Steel by Douglas Hulick, Tor, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-330-53621-9.
Action fantasy.

Night's Engines by Trent Jamieson, Angry Robot, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-66186-9.
Steampunk edged fantasy set on a dying world.

The Uninvited by Liz Jensen, Bloomsbury, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-408-82115-2.
A seven year old girl kills her grandmother in a rather nasty way using a nail-gun firing into her neck. If this were not bad enough, young children across the world are becoming murderers… Liz Jensen's The Rapture was a Channel 4 Book Club 'best read'.

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce, Gollancz, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-575-11528-6.
A modern fairy tale. After having gone missing in the woods 20 years earlier, a woman unexpectedly returns to her parents.

Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey, Voyager, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-007-46098-4.
The sequel to Sandman Slim.

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey, Voyager, hrdbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-0-007-46097-7.
Supernatural fantasy.

The Third Section by Jasper Kent, Bantam, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-553-82536-7.
This the mass market paperback edition of the third in the historical vampire series that started with the acclaimed Twelve and then Thirteen Years Later. We have now reached 1855 and the action now centres on Sebastopol. A must for those into both vampire stories and historical fiction novels: an excellent mix of the two sub-genres.

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff, Tor, hrdbk, £17.99. ISBN 978-0-230-075901-5.
A dystopian steampunk novel set in feudal Japan.

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey, Harper Voyager, £9.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-0-007-46097-7.
James (Sandman Slim) Stark, the hit man, returns from having spent 11 years in hell to Los Angeles…. In 2010 Amazon cited this as one of its top fantasy sellers in the US. See also following book.

Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane, Voyager, pbk, £7.00. ISBN 978-0-007-43311-7.
Part of the Downside Ghosts sequence and its mass market paperback edition. Chess' bossm, a criminal boss and drug dealer, orders her to use her powers to solve a grisly murder that involves dark magic…. And then there's the matter of Chess' real job as a ghost hunter.

The Reckoning by Alma Katsu, Century, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-846-05929-2.
Part 2 of the immortal trilogy.

Lord of Slaughter by M. D. Lachlan, Gollancz, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-575-08967-9.
A werewolf Norse legend crossover.

Prince of Thorns Mark Lawrence, Voyager, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-007-42363-7.
Epic fantasy, a debut novel and the first in a new trilogy. Blood, treachery, magic and brotherhood paints a compelling picture of a boy's rite's of passage in a sometimes brutal world.

God Save the Queen by Kate Lock, Orbit, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-356-50143-7.
It is 2012 and the immortal Queen Victoria still rules…

Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli, Granta Boks, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 9781-847-08506-1.
This debut novel sees the protagonist's identity threatened by a ghostly existence.

Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire, Headline Review, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-755-34825-1.
The fate of Oz is now realised. Final in the sequence.

Dragon Time by Todd and Anne McCaffrey, Corgi Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-552-16245-6.
As many of you will know, we sadly lost Anne McCaffey a few months ago, and so this is probably one of her last Pern outings. Son Todd is taking over so this will not be the last Pern offering, and indeed see the following.

Sky Dragons by Todd and Anne McCaffrey, Bantam Press, hrdpbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06621-8.
Due out in June, we think that this is the last Pern novel which was actually shaped by the hand on the now Late Anne McCaffey. It follows on from Dragon’s Time and is the tale of the fight to replenish Pern’s dragon population and the world’s very first female Weyrleader. After a vicious plague swept through the world of Pern, there are no longer enough dragons to fight off the current onslaught of Thread, the deadly spore that falls like rain from the skies and devours everything organic in its path. Pern’s last best chance to rebuild the decimated dragon population lies with a group of young dragonriders and their dragons left stranded on an unexplored island.

Last Days by Adam Nevill, Macmillan, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-230-75776-9.
Horror. A film maker is tasked to make a documentary about an obscure cult. This is Nevill's fourth novel. His second had quite a bit of acclaim, Apartment 16, and his third, The Ritual was not bad. Decidedly worth checking out.

The Broken Isles by Mark Charon Newton, Tor, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-230-75007-4.
This is the conclusion of the 'Legends of the Sun' sequence.

The City's Son by Tom Pollock, Jo Fletcher Books, hrdbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87006-9.
A tale of hidden London's magic and marvel.

Snuff by Terry Pratchett, Corgi, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-552-16675-1.
Terry's 50th novel and the 39th in the Discworld series. The Ankh-Morpork City watch investigates a country house murder. Need we say more.

Eden Moore: Wings to the Kingdom by Cherie Priest, Titan, pbk. £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-68773-9.
Set in the present day, ghosts of the south US haunt Eden Moore.

Strangeness and Charm by Mike Sherdon, Angry Robot, pbk, £8.99. ISBN 978-0-857-66223-1.
Ancient British folklore is alive and well in modern-day London.

Angel City by Jon Steele, Bantam Press, trdpbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06866-3.
Jay Harper, one of the last ‘angels’ on Planet Earth, is still hunting down the half-breeds and goons who infected Paradise with evil. Intercepting a plot to turn half of Paris into a dead zone, Harper ends up on the wrong side of the law.

Horus Heresy: Deliverance Lost by Gav Thorpe, Black Library, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-70061-0.
We have no info on this one.

Advent by James Treadwell, Hodder, pbk, £7.00. ISBN 978-1-444-72846-0.
For centuries it had been locked away lost beneath the sea... but now magic is rising to the world once more. Set in the present day and also 16th century, Britain. This is a debut novel and H&S have been pushing this one including by mysterious mailing that was only explained a few days later with subsequent marketing.

The Silver Bough by Lisa Tuttle, Jo Fletcher Boks, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-780-87439-5.
Now, we do not seem to have heard from Lisa Subtitle (as 2000AD once affectionately called her) for some time and so this offering will be eagerly awaited. In a Scottish village of Appleton there is a hidden orchard whose apples, if eaten, can confer either great happiness or a curse.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig, Angry Robot, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-857-66229-3.
A dark urban fantasy billed as being in the vein of Stephen King crossed with Dean Koontz.

Time of Legends: Dead Winter by Clint Werner, Black Library, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-849-70150-1.
A Warhammer fantasy.

The Pilgrims by Eliot Will, Jo Fletcher Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-857-38139-2.

The Legion of Shadow: Destiny Guest Book 1 by Michael J. Ward, Gollancz, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-575-1171-3.

A Game of Groans: A Parody of Slush and Soot by George R. R. Washington, Virgin, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-753-54099-2.
Comedy, released to coincide wit the 2nd season of Game of Thrones.

Our latest in-depth reviews of recent fiction books can be found linked from the whats new index.

In depth reviews of hundreds of fiction books can be found linked alphabetically by author off the reviews index.

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction SF

The Universe and the Human Future: How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World by Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel R. Primack, Yale University Press, pbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-0-300-18124-1.

Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics by Jim Al-Khali, Bantam Press, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06929-5.
Includes Schrodinger's cat and the Twins Paradox.

The Science of Avatar by Stephen Baxter, Gollancz, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-575-13095-1.
Does what it says on the tin, and of course Stephen is a well known hard SF writer whose novels we have reviewed many times. This book was written with the support of James Cameron.

Megacatastrophes: Nine Strange Ways The World Could End by David Darling and Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Oneworld, pbk, £11.99. ISBN 978-1-851-689057.
A light-ish look (slightly tongue in cheek) at possible ways the world (our civilisation) could end. Includes black holes from CERN, super-plague, alien invasion etc. Each is given a likelihood score.

Losing the Head of Philip K. Dick: A Bizarre but True Tale of Androids, F'rubber and Left Luggage by David Dufty, Oneworld, pbk, £10.99. ISBN 978-1-851-68922-4.
How SF and artificial intelligence will soon meet.

The Science of Love and Betrayal by Robin Dunbar, Faber, pbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-571-28172-5.
From when eyes meet across a crowded room to infidelity in a long-standing relationship.

Time Warped by Claudia Hammond, Cannongate, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-847-67790-7.
This accompanies the BBC Radio 4 series on the physics and psychology of time.

The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters, by Mark Henderson, Bantam Press, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-0-593-06823-6.
Science matters and is vital if policy is to be evidence based and so key to all politics. Gives examples of politicians' cherry-picking evidence, mis-interpreting science, and even making up that there was evidence they cited existed in the first place. Gives advice as to what you – the average person – can do. Frightening and laughable if it was not all so important to our lives. Probably the most important book of the year. Click on the title link for the review.

Zoobiguity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human by Barbara Natterson Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers, Virgin, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-0-753-53983-5.

How to Build a Habitable Planet: The Story of the Earth from the Big Bang to Humankind by Charles H. Langmuir and Wally Broecker, Portobello Books, hrdbk, £27.95. ISBN 978-0-691-14006-3.
Now Wallace Broecker championed the (now-accepted) notion of the global surface and deep ocean conveyor and its role in regulating the climate as well as changes between glacial and interglacial states. He is greatly respected in the Earth Systems (biosphere) science community and so this book is likely to be a good one to get if you want to know how life-bearing worlds work.

The Physics of the Future: The Inventions that will Transform our Lives by Mchio Kakua, Penguin Books, pbk, £9.99. ISBN 978-1-410-4424-8

The Sky At Night: Questions From Across The Universe by Sir Patrick Moore, BBC, hrdbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90346-2.
The BBC's Sky At Night is the world's longest-running TV programme! And it is astronomy, and Sir Patrick has been its presenter throughout. And he is a prolific popular astronomy author. (And he has written a couple of children's SF novels.) Sadly he is now getting on and so this is probably among the last of the books he will write.

The New Astronomy Guide: Star Gazing in the Digital Age by Patrick Moore and Pete Lawrence, Carlton, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-1-780-97064-6.

The Earth: Its Shape, Size, Weight and Spin by J. H. Poynting, Cambridge University Press, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-107-60604-3.
This is a reprint of the classic 1913 popular science text by John Henry Poynting – the formulator of the Poynting vector, which describes the direction and magnitude of electromagnetic energy flow and is used in the Poynting theorem, a statement about energy conservation for electric and magnetic fields. He was also the first to realise that the Sun's radiation can draw in small particles towards it: this was later named the Poynting-Robertson effect. Anyway, all that is by-the-by as this text explains how you can prove the Earth is round, how to weigh the Earth and work out the mass of the Sun, how to calculate the distance to the nearest star, why cyclones do what they do, how tides work (surprising how many only think they know) and ends with what will happen to tides in the far future (they go the other way). Written at a level that you only need school level science (mid-school physics qualification).

Like a Virgin: The Science of a Sexless Future by Aarathi Prasad, Oneworld, pbk, £12.99. ISBN 978-1-851-68911-8.
A provocative look at sex and reproductive biology as well as evolution.

Darwin's Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists by Rebecca Scott, Bloomsbury, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978—1-408-80908-2.
Chaz Darwin was not the first to come up with evolution through the 'survival of the fittest', nor was he the first to use the term. (And nor was Alfred Russel Wallace.)

Identically Different: Why You Can Change Your Genes by Tim Spector, Weidenfeld, hrdbk, £20. ISBN 978-0-297-6631-2.
Nature vs. nurture.

The Goldilocks Planet: The 4 Billion Year Story of Earth's Climate by Jan Zalsiewica and Mark Williams, Oxford University Press, hrdbk, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-199-59357-6.

Brian now has autographed copies of -- Essential Science Fiction: A Concise Guide by Jonathan Cowie & Tony Chester, Porcupine Books, pbk, 272pp. ISBN 0-954-91490-2. E-mail Brian (follow the Porcupine Books link) first to check availability. Also Essential is now available from Amazon.   Jump to the new specific Amazon link earlier on (but it's cheaper from Porcupine). If you enjoy Concat then you can support us by getting this book either for yourself or a friend and there are postage discounts for getting more than one copy and a further discount is available if buying several for an SF group or SF class.

 

Our latest in-depth reviews of recent non-fiction SF and popular science books can be found linked from the whats new index.

In depth reviews of many science and SF non-fiction books can be found off the non-fiction reviews index.

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

Forthcoming TV & Film Book Tie-ins

Dr Who: Shada by Douglas Adams and Gareth Roberts, BBC Books, hrdbk, £25. ISBN 978-1-849-90327-1.
The adaptation of this classic episode at last (in-keeping with Adams' tendency for deadline breaking) in print.

The Dark Knight Rises by Greg Cox, Titan Books, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-1-781-16166-7.
This is the novelisation of this year's Batman film.

Dr Who and the Tenth Planet by Gerry Davis, BBC Books, pbk, £4.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90474-2.
This is part of a new series of reprints of long out of print Dr Who TV novelisations. The new reprints sport spanking new covers. Gerry Davis originally wrote this TV adventure with Kit Pedler and the novelisation was originally published by Tandem in 1976. It is the first cyberman tale and the Doctor is the first Doctor (William Hartnell).

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Vortex by Troy Denning, Arrow, pbk, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-099-54276-6.

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Apocalypse, Century, hrdbk, £18.99. ISBN 978-1-846-05692-5. The final in the nine book sequence.

Dr Who and the Day of the Daleks by Terrence Dicks, BBC Books, BBC Books, pbk, £4.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90473-5.
This is part of a new series of reprints of long out of print Dr Who TV novelisations. The new reprints sport spanking new covers. First published by Tandem in 1974. This features the third (Jon Pertwee). The original edition featured several line-drawn illustrations but it is not known if this forthcoming reprint will feature these.

Dr Who and the Loch Ness Monster by Terrence Dicks, BBC Books, pbk, £4.99. ISBN 978-1-849-904752-9.
This is part of a new series of reprints of long out of print Dr Who TV novelisations. The new reprints sport spanking new covers.

Dr Who: The Three Doctors by Terrence Dicks, BBC Books, pbk, £4.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90478-0.
This is part of a new series of reprints of long out of print Dr Who TV novelisations. The new reprints sport spanking new covers. The three doctors are the first three Doctors from the original TV series.

Avatar: The Last Airbender – Part 1: Promise by Bryan Gurihira et al, Dark Horse Comics pbk, £8.50. ISBN 978-1-595-82811-8.
Graphic novel.

Dr Who and the Ice Warriors by Brian Hayles, BBC Books, pbk, £4.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90477-3.
This is part of a new series of reprints of long out of print Dr Who TV novelisations. The new reprints sport spanking new covers.

Dr Who and the Ark in Space by Ian Marter, BBC Books, pbk, £4.99. ISBN 978-1-849-90476-6.
This is part of a new series of reprints of long out of print Dr Who TV novelisations. The new reprints sport spanking new covers.

Hellboy: The Storm and the Fury by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart, Dark Horse Comics, trdpbk, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-595-82827-9.

Star Trek by Mike Johnson and Steve Molnar, Idea & Design Works, pbk, £13.50. ISBN 978-1-613-77150-1
Related to this year's forthcoming Trek film.

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

SELECTED RECENT DVD RELEASES

Big Bang Theory - Season 1-4 £28.97 from Warner Home Video.
The hit US comedy series about scientist (and engineer) SF fans and their attractive mundane neighbour. If you have not come across it then do check it out: the science and the SF references are spot on and the humour is not bad either.

The Darkest Hour £13.99 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Five young people who find themselves stranded in Moscow, following an unexplained global disaster and fighting to survive in the wake of a devastating alien attack… This light SF action film has its moments and some good effects from director Timur (Night Watch) Bekmanbetov. It is a Russian-US co-production. Arguably in the vein of, but better than, Skyline, and more original than Battle Los Angeles if you want recent comparators. Some online critics have possibly been a tad harsh, whereas others have been more forgiving, so you will just have to make your own mind up. We linked to the You Tube trailer last season.

Doctor Who: The Dæmons £12.99 from 2entertain.
A Jon Pertwee adventure. In the peaceful village of Devil’s End something very strange is happening. A professor is preparing to open a nearby burial mound and a local white witch foresees death and disaster. Meanwhile, the new vicar looks suspiciously like the Master and he is using black magic to conjure up an ancient Dæmon. Can the Doctor, Jo and UNIT stop their old enemy before he succeeds?

Dune £9.70 from Universal Pictures UK.
The under-rated film from director David Lynch and starring Kyle MacLachlan, Virginia Madsen, Patrick Stewart, Max von Sydow and Sting. Based on the Frank Herbert classic 1965 novel of the same name.

Fantastic Voyage £7.99 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The 1966 film by director Richard (Soylent Green) Fleischer concerning the miniaturisation of a surgeon team who enter a body to laser a tumour. Stars Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Edmond O'Brien, Donald Pleasence, and Arthur Kennedy.

Hayabusa £9.70 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
This film is based on the real events surrounding Japan's Hayabusa space probe. Its seven-year mission was to land on a distant asteroid and collect samples that could possibly unlock the secrets behind the origins of the Solar system. But disaster strikes when the spacecraft experiences multiple system failures on its way back to Earth and the scientists at JAXA, the Japanese space agency, must use their ingenuity to save the multi-billion dollar mission and its precious cargo.

Hugo £10.97 from Entertainment in Video.
Directed by Martin Scorsese. After his clockmaker father (Jude Law) perishes in a museum fire, Hugo goes to live with his Uncle Claude (Ray Winstone), a drunkard who maintains the clocks at a Paris train station. When Claude disappears, Hugo carries on his work and fends for himself by stealing food from area merchants. In his free time, he attempts to repair an automaton his father rescued from the museum, while trying to evade the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen), a World War I veteran with no sympathy for lawbreakers. When Georges (Ben Kingsley), a toymaker, catches Hugo stealing parts for his mechanical man, he recruits him as an assistant to repay his debt. This is based on Brian Selznick’s award-winning New York Times best-seller, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The film has just been nominated for a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award.

Humanity's End £13.99 Blu-ray from Ksm.
It is the 25th Century. Mankind has left planet earth to find new homes throughout the galaxy. Humanity has split up into two different species: the Homo Sapiens and another, highly advanced species of Homo Technicus. Generation by generation the population of Homo Sapiens decreases, and by 2820 is almost extinct. Space pilot Derasi Vorde and his crew are the guardians of the last strain of human DNA and vow to protect it at all costs. But when the Homo Technius attempt to destroy the specimen, a battle for the survival of humanity begins.

My Favorite Martian - The Complete First Season £29.99 from Network.
This is the 1960s US television comedy SF series. This is the first time it has been released on DVD in the British Isles. Now some trivia for you. One of its directors was Sheldon Leonard… So now you know where the name for that Big Bang Theory character comes form.

The Thing (2011) £9.99 from Universal Pictures UK.
Palaeontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) joins a Norwegian scientific team in Antarctica that has discovered an extraterrestrial ship buried in the ice, and an organism that seems to have died in the crash. When an experiment frees the alien, a shape-shifting creature with the ability to turn itself into a perfect replica of any living being, Kate must join the crew’s pilot, Carter (Joel Edgerton), to keep it from killing them off one at a time. Paranoia soon spreads like an epidemic as they’re infected, one by one, and a thrilling race for survival begins… The Thing is a prelude to John Carpenter’s classic 1982 film of the same name that was inspired by the John W. Campbell jnr. classic short story 'Who Goes There' (1938) that really is very much worth reading.

Thor: The Hammer Of The Gods £11.99 from Ksm.
Loosely inspired by Norse mythology, in this tale Thor sets out with his army of Vikings on a journey to discover foreign lands, in search of fame and honour. But when a scout goes missing on a strange island, the search party chance upon the terrified native inhabitants who are seemingly being terrorised by packs of savage werewolves. In a bid to save the islanders from the beasts, Thor must find the Hammer of the Gods a mighty and mythical weapon that can save the island, in the process creating a legendary hero: the mighty Thor.

Troll Hunter £10.31 from Momentum Pictures Home Ent.
This is our non-Anglophone recommendation of the season. This 2010 Norwegian comedy-fantasy Troll Hunter, has been a surprise art-house hit across the globe. It posits an intriguing question -- what if monsters of folklore and popular culture existed, but were kept hidden by the government? -- and delivers the results in a clever, faux-documentary format that underscores both the special effects and the satire…   A group of students investigates a series of mysterious bear killings, but learns that there are much more dangerous things going on. They start to follow a mysterious hunter, learning that he is actually a troll hunter.

Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea The Complete Collection £62 from Revelation Films.
The 1960s series about a nuclear-powered super-submarine. Includes the unaired pilot episode.

See also our film download tips.

To see what films we can expect in 2012, check out our forthcoming film diary.

To see our chart ratings for last year's films, nearly all of which are now available for DVD hire, then check out our most recent annual film top ten.

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

R.I.P.

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

Anders Åkerlind, the Swedish fan, has died aged 50. Particularly active in the early 1980s, he is known for helping found the Swedish Fanzine Association APA.

Christine Brooke-Rose, the Swiss author, has died aged 89 in France where she spent the latter half of her life. Here SF novels include the Computer Quartet that began with Amalgamemnon (1984) and novels such as Out (1964) and Such (1966). During WWII she worked as an analyst at Bletchley, Britain's secret radio signal decoding base at the same time as Turing.

Richard Carpenter, the screenwriter who created, among other series, Catweazle.

John Christopher (real name Christopher Sam Youd), the British SF author, has died aged 89. he is best known for his environmental classic The Death of Grass (1956).

James Crow, the US population biologist, has died aged 95 (two weeks shy of his 96th birthday). He will particularly be remembered for developing the idea of 'genetic load': a measure of fitness being reduced by selection. He also refined the concept of effective population size as well as worked on selection at the gene as well as phenotypical (gene expression) levels). Outside of science he played the viola with the Madison Symphony Orchestra for many years.

Renato Dullbecco, the Italian virologist, has died aged 97. In addition to Italy he also worked in Britain and the US. He is best known for elucidating that some viruses insert themselves into the genomes of the cells they infect and that this can in some instances cause cancer. He co-won a Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine for this work in 1975.

Robert Fuest, the British film director, has died aged 84. Among his SFnal offerings are The Final Programme (1974), The Abominable Doctor Phibes (1971), Dr Phibes Rises Again (1972) and The Devil's Rain. He also worked on the television series Out of This World as well as 8 episodes of The Avengers TV series in the late 1960s and 2 episodes of The New Avengers in the 1970s.

Carlo Fruttero, the Italian SF editor, has died aged 85. He is mostly known for his joint work with Franco Lucentini, especially as authors of crime novels. The duo were also editors of the science fiction monthly book-format magazine Urania from the 1960s to the 1980s, and of the comics magazine Il Mago.

David Gilichinsky, the Russian plant physiologist, has sadly died. One of his last projects was to resurrect a 30,000 year-old plant.

Gene DeWeese, the SF fan and writer, has died aged 80. He mainly focussed on novelisations from TV series including Man from U.N.C.L.E., Star Trek and Lost in Space.

Jean Henri Gaston Giraud also known as Moebius, has died aged 73. The French artist was renowned in both arts, comics as well as SF circles. A number of his strips appeared in the French comic magazine Metal Hurlant and its US spin-off Heavy Metal. He also worked with directors on a number of films including Alien and The Fifth Element. A towering talent.

Paul Haines, the New Zealand born/Australian resident, horror short story writer, has sadly died aged 41. His short story collection Doorways For The Dispossessed won both New Zealand's Sir Julius Vogel and also Australia's Ditmar Awards.

Howard Hopkins, the SF writer, has died aged just 50. A fan of vintage superheroes, he wrote graphic novels including a 'Sherlock Holmes' series and a widely known children’s series called the 'Nightmare Club'. Most recently, he focused his energy on writing the Chloe Files, a character derived from his novel Grimm.

Noboru Ishiguro, the Japanese animator/ anime director, has died aged 73. Among his SFnal offerings are Space Battleship Yamato and Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

Hans Kneifel, the German SF author, has died aged 75. He was very prolific and his works include over 80 Perry Rhodans.

Robert Lovell, the US fan, has died. He was active in Baltimore-Washington fandom from the late 1970s until 1983.

Ardath Mayhar, the US novelist, has died aged 81. Her How the Gods Wove in Kyrannon> (1979) is one of her 60 books. These also included included the four volume Tales of the Triple Moons. She also ran bookshops.

Peter Phillips, the British SF short story writer, has died aged 92.

Sherwood Rowland, the British chemist who helped elucidate the process of stratospheric ozone depletion, has died aged 84. This work, originally heavily criticised, garnered him a share in a Nobel Prize in 1995.

Christoffer Schander, the Swedish fan, has died aged 51.

John Severin, the US comics artist, has died aged 90. He worked for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Warren among other publishers with characters inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert Howard as well as more pedestrian work such as Star Wars strips.

Dick Spelman, the US bookdealer and fan, has died aged 80. He chaired Windycon IX and was on the board of directors for Chicon IV in 1982.

Dick Tufeld, the US voice-over artist, has died aged 85. His SF notability is primarily being the voice of the robot in Lost in Space… 'Danger Wil Robinson'. He also contributed to the Time Tunnel and Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea.

Wylie Vale, the US endocrinologist, has died aged 70. In collaboration with his advisor and mentor Roger Guillemin, Vale contributed to the discovery, isolation and identification of thyrotropin releasing hormone and gonadotropin-releasing hormone in the 1970s; work that led to the Nobel Prize for Guillemin.

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

INTERFACE: SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION

Novel predicts future? Scottish referendum, hardliners elected in Russia, Republicans in the White House and the British Conservatives get a second term. If you were surprised by Scotland's First Minister's announcement in 2012 for a referendum in 2014 on Scottish independence then perhaps you had not read Alan Clements 2009 novel Rogue Nation: its fictional near-future setting seems to echo current (2012) events on our horizon. Not only did it 'predict' that a Scottish referendum would take place but the outcome too: apparently the Scots narrowly go for independence but soon come to regret it. Also the novel tells of how the Republicans get back into the White House and in Britain the Conservatives get back into Parliament too and then there are the hardliners in power in Russia (Putin just 'won' the 2012 election). Is reality aping fiction or is Alan Clements (who must have written his 2009 book in 2007/8) rather canny?

James Cameron in solo dive to deepest ocean. The director of The Terminator and The Thing has made a solo dive to the Pacific's 7 mile (11km) deep Mariana Trench, one of the deepest parts of the ocean. He described it as a gelatinous landscape as desolate as the Moon. This feat is all the more remarkable as it is the first time a human has been there since the Trieste dive in 1960.

Hobbit pub threatened. Further to last season's news that the Tolkien estate sued West Midlands Hungry Hobbit cafe owners, now news again nicked slower than the speed of light from Ansible (and its April 2012 edition) is that the Hobbit pub in Bevois Valley, Southampton has been threatened with legal action for copyright infringement by lawyers representing the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) in California. This is the same company suing The Hungry Hobbit. The Hobbit pub has been trading under the name for more than 20 years: long before the Jackson films that caused a resurgence in interest in The Lord of the Rings. Two of the stars of the forthcoming Hobbit film – Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellen – are supportive of the pub. Stephen wrote on Twitter: "Honestly, sometimes I'm ashamed of the business I'm in. What pointless, self-defeating bullying." There is now a "Save the Hobbit" Facebook page which has more than 3,000 likes. Mr Zaentz of Saul Zaentz Company, now aware of the backlash, is signalling that he wants discussions to end this amicably.

Astronomers of the Future is a web-based group of amateurs and semi-pros into astronomy. Though web-based and so anyone can participate, the group's physical manifestation is Glasgow and so their night sky musings largely relate to the northern hemisphere. Details are available from www.astronomersofthefuture.net.

Congratulations to the winner of the 2010 Diagram Prize for odd book title. The author of the past winning title, Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes, Daina Taimina, has just garnered the Mathematical Association of America's Euler prize. The prize is given for outstanding mathematical books.

 

 

[The other key sections within this seasonal newscast are: Major Headline Links |
News which contains: Major Science & SF News, People: Major SF Author, Science Writer and Artist News; Film News; SF Book Trade News; TV News; Eurocon/Worldcon News; Fandom & Other News; and Net Watch |
Last Season's Science News Summary including: General Science, Astronomy and Space and Natural Science |
Forthcoming Book Releases including: Science Fiction Forthcoming Fantasy & Horror Forthcoming Science Fact and Non-Fiction and Forthcoming TV & Film Tie-ins Book Releases | Selected Recent DVD Releases |
R.I.P | Interface: Science and SF | End Bits.]

Summer 2012

End Bits

 

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

Thanks for information, pointers and news for this seasonal page among others goes to: Petra Bulic, Tom Hunter, Marcin 'Alqua' Klak, Knud Larn, Eugen Lenghel, Roberto Quaglia, (error correction always appreciated by us plus news pointer from) Boris Sidyuk, Peter Tyers, Horia Ursu and not least the very many representatives of SF groups and professional companies' PR/marketing folk who sent in news. These last have their own ventures promoted on this page.   If you feel that your news, or SF news that interests you, should be here then you need to let us know (as we cannot report what we are not told). :-)

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

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:

Click on the blue permanent links at the beginning of most paragraphs to get the direct link within this large news page.

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