Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Masterworks Spotlight: Monday Starts on Saturday

23 August 2016

We are delighted to be featuring another wonderful piece of SF from the masters of Soviet-era SF, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky!  Best known for the wonderful Roadside Picnic – memorably filmed as Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky  the Strugatsky Brothers are responsible for some of the most incisive science fiction to come from behind the Iron Curtain*

 

Monday Starts on Saturday

A brilliant and incisive satire of the Soviet pseudo-science research of the Cold War, translated by Andrew Bromfield, with a new introduction by Adam Roberts.

When young programmer Alexander Ivanovich Privalov picks up two hitchhikers while driving in Karelia, he is drawn into the mysterious world of the National Institute for the Technology of Witchcraft and Thaumaturgy, where research into magic is serious business.

And where science, sorcery and socialism meet, can chaos be far behind?

 

Monday Starts on Saturday is available as an SF Masterworks paperback and an SF Gateway eBook.

 

You can find more of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s work via their Author pages on the Gateway website and read about them in their entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.




* Yes, we know. We’re going for a Cold War kind of vibe with this post – humour us.

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Gateway Essentials: D. G. Compton

19 August 2016

D.G. (David Guy) Compton was born in London in 1930. His early works were crime novels published under ‘Guy Compton’, but he began producing SF as ‘D.G. Compton’ in 1965 with The Quality of Mercy. His 1970 novel The Steel Crocodile received a Nebula nomination, but it was 1974’s The Continuous Catherine Mortenhoe that made his reputation. Eerily predictive of the 21st century’s obsessions with media voyeurism and ‘reality television’, it was filmed as Death Watch in 1979, by Bernard Tavernier.

So, obviously the place to begin with D.G. Compton is The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, SF Masterworks being the milestone books that they are:

The recent release of a US edition has prompted a new wave of coverage for this  incredibly prescient work, with Flavorwire making comparisons with J.G. Ballard and Anthony Burgess, the Literary Hub citing it as one of the essential reads for July and Vol 1 Brooklyn praising the novel in its July preview.

And after that? We’re glad you asked.  As ever, once you’ve finished with an author’s Masterworks, your next port of call should be the Gateway Essentials; in this instance:

 

You can find more of D.G. Compton’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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Gateway Essentials: Brian W. Aldiss

18 August 2016

Two Hugo Awards, one Nebula Award, five BSFA Awards, a John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame living inductee.

SFWA Grand Master.

The IAFA Award for distinguished scholarship.

World Fantasy Special Award.

The Prix Utopia Award for lifetime achievement.

Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Author of the most widely-respected, critically acclaimed history of SF.

Writer of the short story behind Steven Spielberg‘s AI: Artificial Intelligence.

 

Not a bad CV, by anyone’s standards, but those are only selected highlights from the glittering career of the great Brian W. Aldiss, who celebrates his ninety-first birthday today!

Brian Aldiss’s extraordinary body of work, stretching back some sixty years, encompasses a wide range of writing, from the fantastic to the literary, via non-fiction and poetry. He was an important figure in SF’s New Wave and stands alongside fellow Britons Michael Moorcock and J G Ballard as writers accepted and praised equally by the genre and literary worlds.

We are lucky enough to publish three of his books in the SF Masterworks series: Non-Stop, Greybeard and the epic Helliconia trilogy. We recommend them all.

 


And in case the SF Masterworks edition of Helliconia is too daunting all at once (it is a mighty 1,300 pages!), we’ve made the individual volumes Gateway Essentials, so you can sample them one-by-one, if you wish:

Helliconia Spring Helliconia Summer Helliconia Winter

 

Happy Birthday, Brian!

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Happy Birthday, Rachel Pollack!

17 August 2016

Today, Gateway wishes a very happy to birthday to SF writer, comic book writer and expert on divinatory tarot, Rachel Pollack, born in Brooklyn in 1945.

Highly regarded for her influence on the women’s spirituality movement and on women’s SF, Rachel Pollack is probably best-known to SF fans for her novel Unquenchable Fire, which won the 1989 Arthur C. Clarke Award, twenty-seven years ago – although comics fans might be more likely to recall her run on Doom Patrol for DC Comics from 1993-1995.

It is also just short of forty-five years since her first published work: the story ‘Pandora’s Bust’ – using the pseudonym Richard A Pollack – in no less a journal than New Worlds Quarterly No. 2 (Sept, 1971), under the editorship of the legendary Michael Moorcock.


SF Masterworks paperback | Gateway eBook

 

You can find more of Rachel Pollack’s work via her Author page on the Gateway website and read about her in her entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

 

Happy Birthday, Rachel!

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Gateway Essentials: Harry Harrison

15 August 2016

Continuing our way through the Grand Tour of the Gateway Essentials, we come to one of our earliest success stories. The books of Harry Harrison were the first of our Gateway eBooks to take off in a manner that suggested that we hadn’t actually wasted all of that time, effort and money returning all this classic SF to availability. It was a welcome shot-in-the-arm in the early days of the project – if not exactly a ‘build it and he will come’ moment, it was certainly a ‘readers stilll want the classics’ sign, for which we were (and remain!) very grateful.

Harry Harrison, as we’re sure you all know, was born Henry Maxwell Dempsey in Connecticut, in 1925. He was the author of a number of much-loved series including the Stainless Steel Rat and Bill the Galactic Hero sequences and the Deathworld Trilogy. He was known as a passionate advocate of Esperanto, the most popular of the constructed international languages, which appears in many of his novels. He published novels for over half a century and was perhaps best known for his seminal novel of overpopulation, Make Room! Make Room!, which was adapted into the cult film Soylent Green (and which is the only one of his novels not to be available from SF Gateway. Dammit).

So, where to start?  Take a deep breath and dive in . . .

If you’re enjoying the current trend (especially in TV and film) for shades-of-grey protagonists and feel that you can  root for a conman with a heart of gold (well . . . maybe gold-plating . . .), then the Stainless Steel Rat is the man for you!  Meet James Bolivar ‘Slippery Jim’ DiGriz, AKA the Stainless Steel Rat, the galaxy’s greatest thief and con artist. Harry Harrison’s Gateway Author page lists the Stainless Steel Rat novels in publication order, but here is the internal reading order:

A Stainless Steel Rat is Born The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues The Stainless Steel Rat The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World
The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You! The Stainless Steel Rat for President The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus The Stainless Steel Rat Returns Stainless Steel Visions

Too light and fluffy for you? Don’t worry; Harry Harrison’s got you covered.  How about a tour of a few planets so hostile to human life that they’re referred to as . . . well, see for yourself:

Deathworld Deathworld Two Deathworld Three

No?  How ’bout some dinosaurs, then?

West of Eden Winter in Eden Return to Eden

And if you’re still hungry for more Harrison we suggest checking out the other titles on his Gateway Author page – and, of course, you can read about Harry Harrison in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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Robert Silverberg’s Reflections: August 2016

12 August 2016

 

 

‘Where Silverberg goes today, the rest of science fiction will follow tomorrow’

Isaac Asimov

 

Reflections is a regular column by multi-award-winning SFWA Grandmaster Robert Silverberg, in which he will offer his thoughts on science fiction, literature and the world at large.

This month: ‘The Software of Magic’

Last year, in the column for the July 2015 issue [of Asimov’s, where this column first appears – ed.], I discussed Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft, a multi-volume nineteenth-century collection of thousand-year-old Anglo-Saxon charms, spells, and medicinal recipes. The book, a quaint thing indeed, provides instructions for ways to avoid sterility, for aid in childbirth, for the interpretation of dreams, for gout, for curing the bite of a poisonous spider, and many another facet of life. (The original edition is rare, but it has been reprinted in a modern paperback by Cambridge University Press, and it’s available at no cost at all at archive.org on the Internet.)

None of these spells work. At least, I assume they don’t, because nobody today uses the remedies for gout or spiderbite prescribed in Leechdoms. What the book provides is software, of a sort – the codes and formulas for making things happen – but it is software for a computer that won’t boot up . . .

 

You can read the rest of the column here, and find Robert Silverberg’s eBooks here – including Reflections and Refractions, a collection of his non-fiction columns. Please note: each column will remain on the site for one month only.

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Gateway Essentials: William Sloane – Update!

11 August 2016

Owing to a glitch during some mainentance work, we had a post disappear yesterday. If only the Disappearing Spell worked on who we wanted to work on . . .

All seems to be back in working order, now, so (pausing only to make a ritual sacrifice to the gods of IT), here it is again:

William Sloane (1906-1974) was a playwright and publisher, who in his early thirties published two remarkable novels which combine sf and horror:  To Walk the Night (1937) and The Edge of Running Water (1939).  Subsequently he published no fiction, apart from a single story which he included in one of the two sf anthologies he edited in the early 1950s, pursuing instead a distinguished publishing career.  But the reputation established by the novels has meant that they have been rediscovered from time to time in later years.

To Walk the Night depicts an alien from another dimension who takes the place of the wife of a famous physicist; The Edge of Running Water is about a widower, obsessed with trying to communicate with his dead wife.  Both novels invite comparison with the work of H.P. Lovecraft, who died in the year the first was published, but whereas Lovecraft was a master of a particular kind of pulp excess, Sloane was a mainstream – almost literary – writer dealing in sf and horror tropes.

But don’t listen to us.  Here’s what Stephen King had to say in his introduction to the most recent US reissue:

The general reader will find much here to enthral and entertain; those who have studied the horror genre but don’t know these books will find them a revelation for the way Sloane takes what he needs from multiple genres … and makes something new and remarkable from them…. My only regret is that William Sloane did not continue.  Had he done so, he might have become a master of the genre, or created an entirely new one.

Sloane’s only two novels are now Gateway Essentials:

You can read more about William M. Sloane in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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Gateway Essentials: Chad Oliver

10 August 2016

Chad Oliver was the working name that US anthropologist and writer Symmes Chadwick Oliver used for his SF titles. He was born in Ohio but spent most of his life in Texas, where he studied for his MA. He later took a PhD in anthropology at the University of California, which lead to his appointment as a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin.

Oliver’s SF work reflected both his professional training and personal roots: much of it is set in the outdoors of the US Southwest and most of his characters are deeply involved in outdoor activities. Oliver was also always concerned with the depiction of Native American life. His first published story, “The Land of Lost Content”, appeared in Super Science Stories in November 1950.

We recommend that anyone interested in exploring Chad Oliver’s work begins with his aliens-on-Earth novel, The Winds of Time, or his tale of the perils of uplift, The Shores of Another Sea.


You can find more of Chad Oliver’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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Gateway Essentials: William M. Sloane

8 August 2016

William Milligan Sloane III was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1906, and died in New York in 1974. He was an editor at a number of distinguished houses, including Henry Holt & Company and Funk & Wagnall’s, before founding his own publisher, William Sloane Associates, Inc. He resigned from his own company in 1952 and from 1955 until his death, was the director of Rutgers University Press. He was also a playwright and author whose two novels of interest to the SF field – the occult/SF hybrids To Walk the Night and The Edge of Running Water – are today’s Gateway Essentials.

You can read more about William M. Sloane in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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Gateway Essentials: Pamela Sargent

5 August 2016

What’s that? You want an introduction to one more author before the weekend?  Yeah, we can do that.

Pamela Sargent was born in New York and attended the State University of New York at Binghamton, attaining a master’s degree in philosophy. Sargent is regarded as one of science fiction’s most important feminist writers and is an editor of some note. She has edited a number of acclaimed anthologies, notably the ‘Women of Wonder’ series,  celebrating the contribution of women writers to the SF field. She has been nominated for or won the Hugo, Nebula, Tiptree and Sturgeon Awards.

Those looking for a place to start would be well advised to read her gripping genetics novel Cloned Lives or the post-apocalyptic The Shore of Women:

And you can find more of Pamela Sargent’s books via her Author page on the Gateway website, and read more about her in her entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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