Thoughts from the SF Gateway

On This Day: Apollo Set in Motion

25 May 2016

On this day, fifty-five years ago, US President John F. Kennedy gave a speech to the US congress in which he lit the blue touch paper on the greatest journey the human race has thus far undertaken.

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth

It is staggering to think that a little more than eight years after those historic words, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were walking on the surface of the Moon. Although one can argue that the Space Race had as much, if not more, to do with political point scoring against the Soviet Union as it had to do with the genuine human need to explore, the Apollo programme remains one of the great achievements of modern times.

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But Will I Like It: Mister Justice

24 May 2016

As we noted in the first of these mini-reviews, it can be very difficult to know where to start when sifting through the vast reservoir of classic SF we have available on SF Gateway. Who amongst you, for instance, was familiar with thework of Doris Piserchia before now . . . ?

In 2033 it turned out that justice is not blind. In fact, Justice has a decent camera; absolutely no qualms about visiting an-eye-for-an-eye style vengeance on perpetrators of crimes; and a truly remarkable ability to be in impossible places, at impossible times. The authorities and police, feeling undermined, brand Mr Justice a vigilante and criminal himself, and set out to unmask him and work out how he’s doing it. Meanwhile, social order gradually starts to break down. Mr Justice is a thought-provoking short novel that picks up on very relevant modern themes of privacy, anonymity and responsibility, if, at times, a little too lightly sketched.

You can find Mister Justice and more of Doris Piserchia’s work via her Author page on the Gateway website, and read about her in her entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

 

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On This Day: James Blish

23 May 2016

On this day, ninety-five years ago, the acclaimed author and critic James Blish was born in Orange, New Jersey.

Best known for his Hugo Award-winning classic A Case of Conscience, Blish was one of the first serious SF writers to involve themselves with tie-in novels, writing eleven Star Trek adaptations as well as the first original adult Star Trek novel, Spock Must Die. We are proud to publish two of his novels in the SF Masterworks series – the forementioned A Case of Conscience and the four-book compendium Cities in Flight – as well as the James Blish Gateway Omnibus, which contains three of his long out-of-print works: Black Easter, The Day After Judgement and The Seedling Stars.

You can read more of James Blish’s work via his Author page on the SF Gateway website, an read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

 

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But Will I Like It: Dragonflight

20 May 2016

And just to prove – if proof were necessary! – that SF Gateway is friend to all classic SF, whether we publish it or not, here’s a mini-review of Dragonflight by the late, great Anne McCaffrey . . .

Dragonflight is science fiction, not fantasy. In the distant future on Pern people live in a medieval world of Holders, Crafters and farmers. Their fortress Holds are guarded by watch-whers, a few troops and their overlords, the Holders. The Holders resent the tithes they are expected pay to the Dragonriders. Dragons protect them all from the threads that fall from the Red Star, but no threads have fallen in 400 years. Who needs dragons anymore?

Dragonflight is brilliant science fiction. It has a strong plot, strong characters, strong emotions, telepathic- teleporting- fire-breathing dragons in a believable medieval world.

And it hasn’t dated by a day since it was written.

 

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New Title Spotlight: Three Classic Novels

19 May 2016

We are delighted to be republishing three classic novels from the renowned scientist and author of A for Andromeda, Sir Fred Hoyle.

In addition to being the man who coined the term ‘the Big Bang’, world-renowned astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle also produced a fine body of science fiction. This omnibus contains three of his SF novels: Ossian’s Ride, October the First Is Too Late & Fifth Planet, co-written with his son, Geoffrey Hoyle.

Ossian’s Ride: The year is 1970. Sealed behind an impenetrable barrier in the south of Ireland, the Industrial Corporation of Eire startles the rest of the world with its efficiency, its brilliance . . .

October the First Is Too Late: Unusual solar activity has played havoc with terrestrial time: England is in the ’60′s, but in France, it is 1917 and WWI is still raging in western Europe . . .

Fifth Planet: Another star is due to pass close to the sun, close enough for conventional spacecraft to reach it. Signs of chlorophyll are detected on one of the worlds, suggesting that it supports life. Rival Soviet and US expeditions are launched to visit it. But what will they find on the ‘Fifth Planet’?


Three Classic Novels is available as a Gollancz paperback and a Gateway eBook.  You can find more of Sir Fred Hoyle’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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Now in eBook: The Complete Chronicles of Conan

18 May 2016

It has been a perennial bestseller in hardback, in Gollancz’s ‘big black book’ format, and now we are delighted to announce that The Complete Chronicles of Conan is now available in eBook format – a digital edition with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under its sandalled feet.  Possibly.

Conan the Cimmerian: the boy-thief who became a mercenary, who fought and loved his way across fabled lands to become King of Aquilonia. Neither supernatural fiends nore demonic sorcery could oppose the barbarian warrior as he wielded his mighty sword and dispatched his enemies to a bloody doom on the battlefields of the legendary Hyborian age.

Collected together in one volume for the very first time, in chronological order, are Robert E. Howard’s tales of the legendary hero, as fresh and atmospheric today as when they were first published in the pulp magazines of more than seventy years ago.

Compiled by and with a foreward and afterword by award-winning writer and editor Stephen Jones.


By Crom.


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Happy Birthday, Colin Greenland!

17 May 2016

Today, we wish a very Happy Birthday to award-winning author and critic Colin Greenland.

Greenland first made himself known to the SF world with his 1983 study The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the UK ‘New Wave’, a revised version of his PhD thesis. He published his debut novel, the fantasy Daybreak on a Different Mountain, in 1984, and followed that with to further fantasy novels: The Hour of the Thin Ox (1987) and Other Voices (1988).

These works were well-received but it was a move to exuberant space opera that was to make his reputation. Take Back Plenty won the Arthur C. Clarke and BSFA Awards, and began the ‘Tabitha Jute’ sequence, which was to ocupy him for much of the next decade.

Take Back Plenty is available as an SF Masterworks paperback and a Gateway eBook. You can find more of Colin Greenland’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, Colin!


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Robert Silverberg’s Reflections: May 2016

16 May 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: ‘My Trip to the Future’

I used to be a cutting-edge sort of guy, the sort who likes to fill his life with the newest and most interesting gadgets. I had a VCR when they were considered wildly futuristic. (They are so non-futuristic now that many of you probably don’t know what VCRs were. Well, Google it.) Before that, I had a pocket tape recorder to serve as a notebook for story ideas as I moved about. I had one of the earliest Sony Walkmans. (Another forgotten gadget.) I went shopping for my first computer in 1978. (The salesman told me to wait a couple of years until the hard drive was available, and I did.) And so on and so forth. I wrote about this in much more detail in a 2012 column. But all that happened when I was in my thirties and forties, which was a long time ago. I’m in my eighties now and much less interested in reading instruction manuals. I have opted out of a lot of contemporary gizmos.

For example, I don’t have a cell phone. I can think of just two other SF writers who don’t have one, and one of them is older than I am, and the other one is no youngster. All the rest of the world, so far as I’m aware, has them and uses them constantly . . .

 

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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Masterworks Spotlight: Fairyland

12 May 2016

Twenty years after it won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, we are delighted to welcome Paul McAuley‘s extraordinary Fairyland to the SF Masterworks list!

The 21st century.

Europe is divided between the First World bourgeoisie, made rich by nanotechnology and the cheap versatile slave labour of genetically engineered Dolls and the Fourth World of refugees and homeless displaced by war and economic upheaval. In London, Alex Sharkey is trying to make his mark as a designer of psychoactive viruses, whilst staying one step ahead of the police and the Triad gangs. At the cost of three hours of his life, he finds an unlikely ally in a scary, super-smart little girl called Milena, but his troubles really start when he helps Milena quicken intelligence in a Doll, turning it into the first of the fairies.

Milena isn’t sure if she’s mad or if she’s the only sane person left in the world; she only knows that she wants to escape to her own private Fairyland and live forever. Although Milena has created the fairies for her own ends, some of the Folk, as fey and dangerous as any in legend, have other ideas about her destiny . . .

 

Fairyland is available as an SF Masterworks paperback and a Gateway eBook. You can find more of Paul McAuely’s work via his Author page on the Gateway website, and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Paul McAuley’s website is www.unlikelyworlds.co.uk and you can follow him on Twitter at @UnlikelyWorlds.

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Cover Reveal: Swords, Swords and More Swords!

11 May 2016

Here’s a spot quiz for you. We’ve listed a number of extremely complimentary descriptions of a certain trilogy from some very well respected figures in the field. All you have to do is guess what books they’re talking about. Ready?


‘An unforgettable opening . . . and just gets better from there’ George R. R. Martin

‘A tale as witty, beguiling and ingenious as a collaboration between Jane Austen and M. John Harrison . . . a well nigh faultless first novel’ Interzone

‘A glorious thing, the book we might have had if Noel Coward had written a vehicle for Errol Flynn’ Gene Wolfe

‘A many-faceted pleasure. It manages to evoke both the witty Regency romances of Georgette Heyer and the fog-shrouded dangerous streets of Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar’  Guy Gavriel Kay

‘Fantasy’s answer to Catcher in the RyeJohn Scalzi

‘Unholy fun, and wholly fun . . . an elegant riposte, dazzlingly executed’ Gregory Maguire

‘It’s beautifully written, breezy, quick, hysterically funny, poignant  and bloody and world-weary and heartrendingly naive by turns. This is a  fantastic book, a coming-of-age story, and I love it with a quite deep  and unreasonable love’ Elizabeth Bear

‘One of the most gorgeous books I’ve ever read: it’s witty and wonderful, with characters that will provoke, charm and delight’ Holly Black

‘A wonderful book, beautifully written with marvellous magical moments’ Jo Walton


Any guesses?  OK, here’s a clue:


‘Kushner and Sherman don’t spin fables or knit fancies: they are world-forgers, working in a language of iron and air’ Gregory Maguire


 And here’s a REALLY BIG clue:


Swordspoint was the best fantasy novel of 1987. The Fall of the Kings is better – twistier and deeper’ Neil Gaiman


I hope you’ve got it by now – we’ve practically given it to you on a platter with that last quote.

Yes, Gollancz is delighted to be publishing Ellen Kushner’s classic swashbuckling fantasies: Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword and The Fall of the Kings – the first time the entire trilogy has been published in the UK.

And if the effusive praise from some of modern Fantasy’s all-time greats doesn’t convince you to pick these up, maybe we can tempt you with some stunning covers . . .

 

August 2016 September 2016 October 2016

On the treacherous streets of Riverside, a man lives and dies by the sword . . .

Ellen Kushner’s swashbuckling novels are set in a perilous world of labyrinthine politics, where sharp swords and even sharper wits rule, and even the nobles on the Hill turn to duels to settle their disputes. They are among modern fantasy’s most accomplished works: elegant tales of influence, intrigue, betrayal and blade work, in a city where the only thing harder than gaining power is holding on to it.

Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword and The Fall of the Kings will be published in mass market paperback and eBook in August, September and October this year, respectively.

En garde!

 

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