Thoughts from the SF Gateway

On This Day: Don’t Drink the Water!

29 April 2016

We have, in the past, noted that certian days seem to have been overly blessed with the births of very talented authors; days like 26th July, 2nd August and 20th September.  But it stands to reason that if the history of SF has had some good days, it must also have had some bad days. Newton’s Third Law. Or something.

And, gentle readers, today is one of those days. At various points over the last fifty years, we lost Anthony Boucher (1968), Richard Cowper (2002), Alfred Hitchcock (1980) and Joanna Russ (2011) just to name a few.

Of course we also gained the likes of Robert J. Sawyer (1960) and Jack Williamson (1908) so April 29th hasn’t been all bad. Still . . . a good day not to drink the water!

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On This Day: Philip E. High

28 April 2016

On this day in 1914, Philip Empson High was born, in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire.

High’s writing career spanned over half a century, encompassing fourteen novels and numerous short stories. He made his name initially in the 1950s with a series of short stories for magazines such as Authentic Science Fiction, New Worlds and Nebula Science Fiction. Perhaps his best-known book, Come, Hunt an Earthman, was originally published in the Venture SF series.

You can find Philip E. High’s work via his Author page on the Gateway website and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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But Will I LIke It: Deus X

27 April 2016

Deus X by Norman Spinrad

The atmosphere has terminally thinned; the flood waters have risen; the long-term survival of humanity is slim-to-none. However, technology offers a popular way to dodge the bullet: upload yourself – your thoughts, memories, reasoning, your soul – onto the net. For a reasonable fee, online-you (your ‘successor entity’) will live on in a virtual world, no matter what happens to the planet.

Great!

But.

Is it really possible to upload a soul to the net? Can a computer programme of ‘you’ truly live? Can it/you be self-aware and independently motivated? And, whether it can or not, how could you possibly prove it?


You can find more of Norman Spinrad’s books via his Author page on the Gateway website and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

 

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New Title Spotlight: Worlds of the Imperium

25 April 2016

Our latest New Title Spotlight is the first in Keith Laumer’s classic Imperium series . . .

When Brion Bayard was kidnapped and brought to the alternate world where Earth’s history took a different turn, it was not a pleasant experience. It was, however, a startling experience. Here was a world that was just like the Earth he was taken from – with just a few subtle changes. On top of all this, Brion was given a puzzling assignment by his captors. He was to secretly enter a palace, and kill a dangerous and tyrannical dictator. There was one, small catch – the hated dictator in this world was the mirror image of Brion Bayard. For on this Alternate Earth, Brion is his own worst enemy!


Worlds of the Imperium is available as a Gateway eBook. You can find more of Keith Laumer’s work via his Author page on the Gateway website and read more about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.


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New Title Spotlight: Dinosaur Beach

22 April 2016

Welcome to Dinosaur Beach . . .

Appearing from the remote future, Nexx Central agent Ravel is emplaced in America, circa 1936. His mission: to undo successive tamperings of the time stream which threaten the survival of Mankind. He falls in love with a lovely, simple girl, Lisa, but in the midst of his happiness is called away to Dinosaur Beach.

Dinosaur Beach is a Nexx Central station located millions of years in the past, in the Jurassic Age. But shortly after Ravel’s arrival, the station is attacked and destroyed, and Ravel begins a terrifying odyssey through time.

For the attackers were another time-tampering team from still a different future era. And it is not jsut Ravel himself who is in growing danger but the human world as we know it . . .


You can find more of Keith Laumer’s work via his Author page on the Gateway website and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.


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New Title Spotlight: The Road to the Rim

21 April 2016

Meet John Grimes at the very beginning of a career that will lead him to fame and glory out at the edge of the galaxy, out where the laws of men are nonexistent, and those of nature itself are sometimes tenuous …

Someday Grimes will be a Commodore in the secessionist Rim Worlds Navy, but for now he is merely a very junior lieutenant in another space navy entirely, that of the Federation. If he keeps his nose clean, one day he can be an admiral in that Service; all he has to do is follow regulations regardless of the consequences, and obey orders regardless of whether they are right or wrong – and he is determined to do just that.

But being John Grimes, he will find it a more difficult task than he expects – especially when he must turn a blind eye to the piratical acts of the Waldegrenese Navy, or ignore the plight of a beautiful damsel in distress. That’s why, although he doesn’t know it yet, he is already on . . . the Road To The Rim.


You can read more of A. Bertram Chandler’s work via his Author page on the Gateway website and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.


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Happy Birthday, Ian Watson!

20 April 2016

Ian Watson, has been a stalwart of British science fiction for more decades than it’s polite to mention, and this year marks forty years as a professional full-time writer. His work has been shortlisted for the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke, John W. Campbell and Theodore Sturgeon Awards, and he has twice won the BSFA Award – for best novel with The Jonah Kit, and for short fiction with ‘The Beloved Time of Their Lives’ (with Roberto Quaglia) – from seven nominations. His debut novel, The Embedding, won the Prix Apollo for the best SF novel published in French.

Readers with an interest in SF cinema will know that Ian Watson wrote screen story for Steven Speilberg‘s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (based on Brian W. Aldiss‘s short story ‘Super-Toys Last All Summer Long’). And – in genre that is often accused, by those who don’t understand it, of failing to accurately predict the future (spoiler: that’s not what it’s for) – he published a frighteningly prescient story in Interzone: ‘Hijack Holiday’, in which terrorists assume control of an aircraft and fly it into the Eiffel Tower. The date on that issue of Interzone? April 2001.

You can find Ian Watson’s work via his Author page on the Gateway website and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

 

Happy Birthday, Ian!

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But Will I LIke It: The Enigma Score

19 April 2016

‘Sure, sure, you’ve got 3, 296 books. That’s all very well – but will I like any of them?’

As we noted last week:

(a) we’re sure you’ll find something to suit your tastes if you look hard enough, and

(b) we’re happy to help you look!

So, here’s another mini-review to help you find a path through the 3,000-book labyrinth that is the SF Gateway . . .

The Enigma Score by Sheri S. Tepper

Travel is possible but difficult on Jubal, as the planet’s geography is marked by soaring, glittering crystalline structures (the Presences) that are highly sensitive to sound and vibration. If you don’t have the right song – the password – the resulting rockfalls will spell a terminal end to your journey. The Tripsingers (among them, Tasmin Ferrence) have discovered the passwords for some journeys, and by accompanying travellers, make trade and colonization possible. But then Tasmin’s estranged brother Lim dies, after apparently making some progress in quieting the most difficult Presence of them all, the Enigma. But Lim’s death raises a lot of questions: what was he doing there? He wasn’t a Tripsinger, so how had he come to have part of the password? And why? And what does any of it have to do with a corporate plan to put all of the Tripsingers out of a job? Sheri S. Tepper’s tale is a highly satisfying read, at once awe-inspiring, mysterious and humbling. 

 

Enjoy!

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SF Masterworks Spotlight: Feersum Endjinn

18 April 2016

As teased not long ago, we’re delighted to welcome Britain’s bestselling SF author of the last two decades to the SF Masterworks list!  On 14th April we published a hardback edition of the BSFA Award-winning Feersum Endjinn – with a new introduction by Banks’s close friend and fellow SF writer Ken MacLeod.

Count Sessine is about to die for the very last time … Chief Scientist Gadfium is about to receive the mysterious message she has been waiting for from the Plain of Sliding Stones…

And Bascule the Teller, in search of an ant, is about to enter the chaos of the crypt…

And everything is about to change…

For this is the time of the Encroachment and, although the dimming sun still shines on the vast, towering walls of Serehfa Fastness, the end is close at hand. The King knows it, his closest advisers know it, yet still they prosecute the war against the clan Engineers with increasing savagery.

The crypt knows it too; so an emissary has been sent, an emissary who holds the key to all their futures.

 

You can find more of Iain M. Banks’s work via his Author page on the Gateway website and his own website, and you can read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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On This Day: Damon Knight Died

15 April 2016

On this day in 2002, one of the all-time greats of Science Fiction passed away. Author, editor, critic, fan: few people have had such a great and varied impact on modern SF as Damon Knight. From membership of seminal SF group the Futurians, through years of incisive reviews and criticism, to editorship of the influential Orbit series of anthologies, Knight bestrode 20th-century SF like a colossus.

Knight co-founded the Milford Writers’ Conference, the influential Clarion Workshop and the Science Fiction Writers of America, serving as its first president from 1965-67. Around this time he also made his reputation as one of the field’s foremost anthologists. Beginning with reprint collections, in 1966 he launched the influential Orbit series of original anthologies. Starting with Orbit 1, the series would continue for over a decade, concluding in 1980 with Orbit 21.

Orbit was the longest running and most influential anthology series in SF up to that point, showcasing such important authors as Gene Wolfe, R.A. Lafferty and Knight’s third wife, Kate Wilhelm. A master of short fiction, Damon Knight is best known in wider circles as the author of ‘To Serve Mankind’, which was adapted for The Twilight Zone and later spoofed in a Hallowe’en episode of The Simpsons. He was granted the SFWA’s Grand Master Award in 1995, and in 2002, SFWA renamed it the Damon Knight Grand Master Award in his honour.

You can find Damon Knight’s work via his Author page on the Gateway website and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.


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