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Science fiction

‘Dune, 50 years on: how a science fiction novel changed the world’
July 4, 2015 | 9:46 am

dunePlanet hacking---in the era of climate change? Who knows? But when it comes to eco issues in sci-fi, Frank Herbert went there fifty years ago with the publication of Dune. A new Guardian article reflects on the importance of the book. Excerpt: "Though Dune won the Nebula and Hugo awards, the two most prestigious science fiction prizes, it was not an overnight commercial success. Its fanbase built through the 60s and 70s, circulating in squats, communes, labs and studios, anywhere where the idea of global transformation seemed attractive. Fifty years later it is considered by many to be the greatest novel in the SF canon, and has sold...

The Martian: An accidental self-publishing success story
June 17, 2015 | 2:01 pm

coverA new science fiction movie by a well-known director is on the horizon. Matt Damon plays an astronaut, stranded alone on a planet inimical to human life. It also features Jessica Chastain. While you might be experiencing some Interstellar déjà vu, I’m actually talking about Andy Weir’s breakout novel The Martian, coming later this year by Ridley Scott. An in-universe promotional video and the trailer came out a couple of weeks ago, and proved so popular that 20th Century Fox moved the release date up by two months. But did you know that The Martian was a self-publishing Cinderella...

Kristine Kathryn Rusch on the SF generation gap
June 12, 2015 | 8:30 am

Kristine Kathryn Rusch is compiling an anthology for Baen of classic SF stories by women, and as part of the project has started a website about women in science fiction. Along the way, one of her readers wrote to her about Andre Norton, bringing up an important point—over the last couple decades of the 20th century, the availability of classic SF writers (and, for that matter, classic writers of other genres) to the general public plummeted. In this blog post, Rusch examines the reasons why. The post is long, but makes some great reading. To summarize: In the late...

Why the Hugos are broken, and who’s breaking them now
April 23, 2015 | 5:52 pm

Hugo-Awards-logoThe Hugo Puppies affair proceeds apace. As it will for at least the rest of this year, and probably the next as well. Everyone is having their say, and some excellent things have been written about the whole matter lately. I’ll get to those in a moment. The Internet Breaks the Hugos Whether you’re for the Puppies or against them, there can’t be any argument that the Hugo nomination and voting process is badly broken. The interesting thing is that the process hasn’t changed appreciably for years or even decades. It didn’t just break on its own. No,...

Michael Moorcock to debut first novel in almost ten years – about Michael Moorcock
February 17, 2015 | 4:25 pm

Victor Gollancz, the renowned UK science fiction and general literature publishing imprint, has just announced the acquisition of the UK rights for The Whispering Swarm, the first novel from the pen of fantasy/weird-fiction legend Michael Moorcock in almost ten years. And its subject appears to be ... Michael Moorcock. In his first full novel in almost ten years, Michael Moorcock returns to the city of his childhood and one of his most successful recurring themes: London," states the Gollancz announcement . "The Whispering Swarm follows a young man called Michael Moorcock. Part-autobiography, part-story, in The Whispering Swarm, Moorcock mixes elements of...

Keep it short, says Tor, in paean to the novella
February 16, 2015 | 10:25 am

science fictionTor.com, the Macmillan imprint enjoying almost unequaled status in science fiction circles, has just announced its Inaugural Novella List, dedicated to producing shorter long fiction, with the first titles due to appear in September 2015. Tor's announcement reads:  Last summer Tor.com announced the formation of a new publishing program, dedicated to publishing the best novellas and short novels from emerging writers as well as established authors. Following an extensive period of reading and commissioning, we are excited to announce our inaugural list. All of the books published under the new program will be made available in ebook, print on demand, and audio formats...

Lightspeed supports Queers Destroy Science Fiction
February 7, 2015 | 2:25 pm

One of the latest crowdfunding projects in anthology publishing has just totally destroyed its funding goal. With nine days still on the clock at the time of writing, Lightspeed Magazine presents Queers Destroy Science Fiction has reached $34,866 pledged of the $5,000 goal in its Kickstarter campaign. Needless to say, its stretch goals have been blown open, and a great many backers are in line to receive a great deal. "Queers Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo-winning magazine Lightspeed 100% written—and edited—by queer creators," explains the preamble. "Even in science fiction, supposedly the genre of limitless possibility, where everyone...

Ray Bradbury’s home demolished, but home office to be recreated in Indianapolis
January 16, 2015 | 12:52 pm

The late Ray Bradbury’s house of over fifty years is being torn down. It was purchased in June 2013 for $1.8 million, and the demolition permit was issued December 30th. Apparently the “starchitect” who bought the property wasn’t a fan. It’s a real pity that the house couldn’t have been turned into a museum instead. Bradbury was, after all, one of the giants of the genre. I imagine Bradbury would be dismayed but unsurprised by this turn of events. It seems that old culture being destroyed by an inferior modern substitute was a theme he liked to revisit—most...

Starlog available online via Internet Archive
December 22, 2014 | 1:25 pm

Starlog, the very significant and much-missed science fiction magazine that ran from 1976 to 2009, has now been made available in full courtesy of the Magazine Rack section of the Internet Archive, which has put the entire run of issues up online, from its Star Trek-inspired inception to its eventual bankruptcy. Starlog was lucky - or aware of the zeitgeist - enough to launch almost contemporaneously with the debut of the first Star Wars movie, and rode the impetus that gave for science fiction over 375 issues. It's not clear whether the Internet Archive collection is complete as claimed -...

Denmark funds research into trolls
November 12, 2014 | 2:25 pm

KrøllebølleI'm fortunate enough to be published by a Danish publisher - and stories like this one make me realize how apt this is, and how lucky I am. For a Danish official research fund, the Danish Council for Independent Research (Det Frie Forskningsråd - DFF) has reportedly decided to fund a PhD project to the tune of 2.5 million kroner ($428,000), to research the potential intersection of folklore with actual trolls living underground on the island of Bornholm. Bornholm is traditionally a home for trolls, and above all, the local legend Krølle Bølle - "small and cute. Krølle Bølle has got his name because...

The New Weird is the new New Wave?
October 30, 2014 | 12:12 pm

fanficReaders like me who cut their teeth on the New Wave of science fiction of the late 1960s and 1970s will remember the intellectual and imaginative energy of that period, the freewheeling mash-up of genres, the political and social awareness, the maturity and sophistication of much of the writing compared to most of what comprised the genre before. An adolescent genre - or rather, one stuck in a permanent delayed adolescence - suddenly grew up. In the UK, it was all about authors like Brian W. Aldiss, J.G. Ballard, M. John Harrison, Michael Moorcock, and Christopher Priest; in the U.S.,...

A new Humble Bundle is available!
July 11, 2014 | 9:15 am

humble bundleVia Boing Boing comes this news, that a new Humble Bundle is available. These popular book bundles let you pay whatever price you want for a complete collection; those who pay more than the going average are entitled to bonus books and other content. The newest bundle is sci-fi themed, and contains the following titles: - The Healer's War by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough - The Reluctant Swordsman by Dave Duncan - Freehold by William Dietz - The Time of the Dark by Barbara Hambly - Wingman by Mack Maloney. And the bonus books for those who pay more: - Spellsinger by Alan Dean Foster - I Have No Mouth...

SFWA ‘doubles down’ in support of Douglas Preston’s petition
July 8, 2014 | 6:26 am

sfwaPassive Guy over at The Passive Voice reports receiving an email from SFWA headed “SFWA doubling down,” clarifying its position on signing onto Douglas Preston’s open letter decrying Amazon’s hardball tactics in its negotiation with Hachette. (Odd that they didn’t also send it to me, given that TPV carried the story I posted about it in the first place.) The letter reads as follows: SFWA’s support of Douglas Preston’s open letter reflects our concern about Amazon’s tactics in their dispute with Hachette and the way those tactics are impacting writers and their careers. We are,...

Cosplay, cosmopolitanism and culture
April 30, 2014 | 10:25 am

MondoConI was lucky enough to spend Sunday at Hungary's biggest leading convention, Tavasi MondoCON,  in brilliant sunshine and surrounded by brilliant costumes. I was blown away by the scale of the event and the dedication put into the costumes, in a country of just under 10 million, which hardly counts as the wealthiest, most sophisticated or most cosmopolitan destination even in Central Europe, let alone Europe as a whole. Yet the ensembles not only were very well executed, they also showed deep knowledge of all the choicest details of anime and manga, never mind Western films, comics and series. And...

Not much comfort in Hugo, Nebula Awards
April 29, 2014 | 2:13 pm

hugo nominations 2014As almost any reader who ever logs on the Internet is probably aware by now, this year's Hugo Awards have attracted more than their slice of controversy. For a start, there was the Hugo own goal with the alarmist Twitter campaign against Jonathan Ross hosting the Awards. Then there was an eruption on the right flank with the inclusion of work and recommendations from Larry Correia and notoriously bigoted commentator Vox Day in the Hugo nominations list. So far, this year's Nebula Awards nominations have not stoked similar passions that I've noticed, but these are Awards voted on by members...

The vitriol of Twitter: How social media torpedoed Jonathan Ross hosting the Hugos
March 4, 2014 | 1:12 pm

Twitter as kid with red crayonHere’s an interesting article from The Nation about problems the feminist movement is having in discussions on Twitter. The fundamental problem is “intersectionality”: people in the feminist movement are other things besides “just” female—they’re rich or poor, they’re white or minority, and so on—and people at one end of a spectrum find things to be angry at the people on the other end about, even though they ostensibly share a common cause. And this anger is compounded by the Twitter discussion medium, whose short bite-sized chunks can lead to a spectacularly toxic environment. I don’t really have anything to...

Appointment of British comedian Jonathan Ross as Hugo Awards emcee triggers brief spat
March 1, 2014 | 11:21 pm

Jonathan-RossToday saw another blowup in a series of memorable events in recent history pertaining to sexism and science fiction. And the SFWA wasn’t even involved this time! The organizers of LonCon3, the London SF convention playing host to Worldcon and hence the Hugo Awards this year, announced today that British TV personality Jonathan Ross had agreed to emcee the Hugos. This immediately sent a shockwave through the community, because Ross has a history of raunchy and sexist humor on the air. A number of prominent SF writers and personalities declared their dismay, including Seanan McGuire, who tweeted: ...

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