Thoughts from the SF Gateway

From the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction . . . Daniel Defoe

24 April 2014

From the virtual pages of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: Daniel Defoe, who died on this day in 1731 …

(?1660-1731) UK merchant, professional spy and man of letters born Daniel Foe, becoming Defoe in the 1690s after he began to write; the extremely prolific author of many works of various kinds, though the huge canon of unsigned works once attributed to him has been convincingly diminished (to somewhere slightly in excess of 300 titles). He is best known today for his novel The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner (1719) and its sequels [for fuller details, see Checklist], which, while not sf, provided a fundamental model for many sf stories (> Robinsonade). . .

Read the full entry at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Posted in Commentary, SFE
Comments: No comments yet

From the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction . . . Paul McAuley

23 April 2014

As noted yesterday, this week’s posts are courtesy of the essential Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and are all date specific entries. Today: A very Happy Birthday to one of British SF’s premier writers, Paul McAuley.

(Born April 23rd, 1955) UK biologist and writer who began publishing work of genre interest with “Wagon, Passing” for Asimov’s in June 1984; his best shorter work has been assembled as The King of the Hill and Other Stories (coll 1991), The Invisible Country (coll 1996), Little Machines (coll 2005) and the comprehensive A Very British History: The Best Science Fiction of Paul McAuley (coll 2013), ranging with a sharp but loyal eye through various ways of telling sf, more frequently than with his novels in terms of Satire. He has also written under the name Sean Flynn (> Games Workshop). With his first novel, Four Hundred Billion Stars (1988), he launched conspicuously into the far-reaching Re-United Nations sequence (sometimes known as the Four Hundred Billion Stars series) which, combining Space-Opera plots and cosmological speculations, fruitfully amalgamated influences from both US and UK traditions: H G Wells and Larry Niven consort, if sometimes uncomfortably, in these tales of interstellar warfare, world-building and universe-creation. Further volumes are Of the Fall (1989; vt Secret Harmonies 1989) and the very substantial Eternal Light (1991), which best exemplifies to date McAuley’s control over the instruments of 1990s Hard SF: Wormholes; Faster Than Light travel, agathics to attain various versions of Immortality, Genetic Engineering and Cosmology on the hugest scale. The series itself ostensibly concerns the attempts of an almost fatally wearied corporation-run Earth – reminiscent of Cordwainer Smith – to fend off the panicked aggressions of an ancient starfaring species, itself hiding from enemies of its own ilk; but the pleasures of this ongoing sequence seem more and more to lie in the increasingly comprehensive physical history of the entire Universe adumbrated in Eternal Light (> Transcendence).

You can read Paul McAuley’s full entry at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, and find his books via his Author pages at the SF Gateway and Orion websites.

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Posted in Authors, SFE
Comments: No comments yet

From the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction . . . Damien Broderick

22 April 2014

Partly because holidays – but mainly because, dammit, everyone should be consulting it regularly – this week’s posts will all be taken from the 4 million-plus words of authority and erudition that are The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Today: Damien Broderick . . .

(Born April 22nd, 1944) Australian writer, editor and critic; he has a PhD in the semiotics of fiction, science and sf with special reference to the work of Samuel R Delany. He has edited four anthologies of Australian sf: The Zeitgeist Machine (anth 1977), Strange Attractors (anth 1985), Matilda at the Speed of Light (anth 1988) and Centaurus: The Best of Australian Science Fiction (anth 1999) with David G Hartwell. As a critic deeply involved in Postmodernism and SF and in attempts to reconcile academic understandings of the field with his own transparent love of the works themselves, he is well known for Transrealist Fiction: Writing in the Slipstream of Science (2000) and x, y, z, t: dimensions of science fiction (2004 pod), which can be read together as a kind of diptych of informed critical takes and thrusts. His most widely influential study, however, may be Reading by Starlight: Post-Modern Science Fiction (1995), where he introduced the term SF Megatext, taken over from fantasy criticism, to designate the pool – it might be described as a kind of global index – of story forms, terms, associations, turns of phrase, references, tropes and Memes that marks or stains almost every sf story written. The very rare story that may have been written with no conscious knowledge of this intricate conversation will probably reflect unconscious influences, and/or reinvent the wheel: that is, repeat sf situations and solutions already laid down, perhaps frequently (> Adam and Eve; Clichés). More recently, Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010 (2012) with Paul Di Filippo was written as a deliberate continuation of David Pringle‘s Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels: 1949-1984 (1985); some omissions and eccentric inclusions are justified by its authors’ intelligent presentation of the texts selected. Their conviction that sf as literature continues to flourish shines throughout.

You can read Damien Broderick’s full entry at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction site, and two of his books are published by SF Gateway; you can find them via his Author page.

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Posted in Authors, SFE
Comments: No comments yet

SF Gateway Omnibus of the Week: D G Compton

17 April 2014

From the vaults of the SF Gateway, the most comprehensive digital library of classic SFF titles ever assembled, comes an ideal introduction to the beguiling work of the critically acclaimed D. G. Compton.

 

Trade Paperback | eBook

 

D.G. Compton is best known for his prescient 1974 novel, The Continuous Katherine Motenhoe, which predicted the 21st century’s obsessions with media voyeurism and ‘reality television’. It was filmed as Death Watch in 1980 by Bertrand Tavernier. This omnibus collects three of his incisive SF novels, Ascendancies, Synthajoy and The Steel Crocodile.

You can find more of D. G. Compton’s work via his author page on the SF Gateway website, and read more about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Comments: No comments yet

SF Masterwork of the Week: Jem

16 April 2014

A cynical and compelling tale of politics, exploitation and colonisation on another planet from the Hugo and Nebula-winning Grand Master, Frederik Pohl.

The discovery of another habitable world might spell salvation to the three bitterly competing power blocs of the resource-starved 21st century; but when their representatives arrive on Jem, with its multiple intelligent species, they discover instead the perfect situation into which to export their rivalries.

Subtitled, with savage irony, ‘The Making of a Utopia’, Jem is one of Frederik Pohl’s most powerful novels. This new edition includes an introduction by award-winning author Lisa Tuttle.

Jem is available as an SF Masterworks paperback. You can read more about Frederik Pohl in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Comments: No comments yet

The Unsinkable Ship

14 April 2014

102 years ago today, the most famous of all maritime disasters occurred: the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg south of Newfoundland. The Titanic’s hull containing sixteen separate airtight compartments, causing some to refer to it as ‘unsinkable’, but the iceberg opened five of these compartments to the ocean and the rest is history: it sank, five days into its maiden voyage, resulting in the loss of over 1,500 lives.

The Titanic has fascinated explorers, historians and writers for over a century, now, prompting salvage expeditions, films and, of course, novels. All very interesting and timely, but none of this would usually be considered fodder for a site dedicated to classic SF – unless one of those novels was written by one of the all-time greats of science fiction, Sir Arthur C. Clarke.

It is 2010. In two years’ time it will be the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic. Two of the world’s most powerful corporations race to raise the vessel but there are other powers at work, and chaos theory comes into play as plans progress – and six preserved bodies are found.

This novel incorporates two of Arthur C.Clarke’s passions – deep sea exploration and future technology – in a fast-moving tale of mystery and adventure. As operations proceed, the perfectly preserved body of a beautiful girl is found. She was not on the ship’s passenger lists.

The quest to uncover the secrets of the wreck and reclaim her becomes an obsession . . . and for some, a fatal one.

 

The Ghost From the Grand Banks was written in 1990, when the Titanic centenary was still a dozen years in the future, and Clarke approaches it with the rigour and imagination we’ve come to expect from a Hugo Award-winning Grand Master. It’s a book that is often overlooked among the more straightforwardly SFnal of his works, but we think it’s stood the test of time – as, indeed, has the strange allure of the tragic event that inspired it.

The Ghost From the Grand Banks is available as a Gollancz paperback and an SF Gateway eBook.

 

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Posted in Commentary
Comments: No comments yet

New Book of the Week: Unseen University Challenge

11 April 2014

‘Right, your starter for ten, no conferring: Which beginners’ course at Unseen University was taught by Jeophal the Spry?’

Bzzzzzzz

‘Quirm College for Young Ladies, Sto Helit.’

‘Algebra?’

‘No, I’m afraid it’s Beginners’ Dematerialisation. Which occult force opened the bronze doors of the great Temple of Om without the touch of any human hand?’

Bzzzzzzz

‘The Assassins’ Guild School, Teatime.’

‘Sorcery?’

‘Hydraulics. Let’s try another one: what revolutionary new financial concept, imported by a tourist from the Counterweight Continent, caused most of Ankh-Morpork to burn down?’

Bzzzzzzz

‘Quirm College for Young Ladies, Thogsdaughter.’

‘Supply Side Economics?’

‘No, fire insurance.’

 

It’s going to be a long night . . .

 

 

Don’t neglect your education: Unseen University Challenge by David Langford & Terry Pratchett is our New Book of the Week.

 

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Posted in New Releases, Whimsy
Comments: No comments yet

SF Gateway Omnibus of the Week: L. Sprague de Camp

10 April 2014

From the vaults of the SF Gateway, the most comprehensive digital library of classic SFF titles ever assembled, comes an ideal introduction to the varied work of author, editor and critic, L. Sprague de Camp.

 

Trade Paperback | eBook

 

Although arguably best known for his continuation of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories, de Camp was an important figure in the formative period of modern SF, alongside the likes of Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein. In a career spanning seven decades, he won the Hugo, World Fantasy Life Achievement and SFWA Grand Master Awards. This omnibus collects three previously out-of-print classics: Lest Darkness Fall, Rogue Queen and The Tritonian Ring.

You can find more of L. Sprague de Camp’s work via his author page on the SF Gateway website, and read more about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

 

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Comments: No comments yet

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: Images of London (and Others)

9 April 2014

It should no longer come as a surprise to hear how clever the editors of the indispensable Encyclopedia of Science Fiction are.  But if 4.3 million words of scholarship aren’t enough for you, the Prosecution offers Exhibit A: the automatically-generating Images of London Slideshow.

As they say on the site:

With the 2014 London Worldcon getting closer, we thought it would be fun to put together a slideshow of London cover-art images as a new feature of the SF Encyclopedia Picture Gallery – and here it is .

There are other slideshows coded as well: Balloons & Airships, Robots & Androids and The Solar System stand out to us, but you may well find your eyeballs tempted by other topics.

So, what are you still doing here?  Go. Go explore the wonders of the SFE – and while you’re there, don’t forget to sample the hugely entertaining On This Day function – a perennial SF Gateway favourite.

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Comments: 2

SF Gateway: the Arthur C. Clarke Award-winners

8 April 2014

A few weeks ago, we highlighted our success over the lifetime of the BSFA Awards, with SF Gateway and Gollancz combined having a staggering 33 of the 43 winners to date. We’re hoping that will go up to 34 out of 44, when this year’s award is announced 65th Eastercon in Glasgow, the weekend after next, with Paul McAuley‘s Evening’s Empires and Christopher Priest‘s The Adjacent Gollancz’s representatives on an exceptionally strong five-book shortlist.

With the award season almost upon us, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award following hot on the heels of the BSFA Awards, we thought – in for a penny, in for a pound – that we’d take a look at how our books have fared in the UK’s other premier genre award. And the answer, again, is: very well, thank you. Although we couldn’t claim to have quite the stranglehold we have over the BSFA (well, we could . . . but we’d be lying), books published by Gollancz or SF Gateway account for a very creditable 12 out of 27 winners. as before, some have always been Gollancz titles, while others were first published by other imprints but are Gollancz or SF Gateway now . . .

1988 The Sea and Summer, George Turner (SF Gateway eBook | SF Masterworks paperback)
1989 Unquenchable Fire, Rachel Pollock (SF Gateway eBook | SF Masterworks paperback)
1990 The Child Garden, Geoff Ryman (SF Masterworks paperback)
1991 Take Back Plenty, Colin Greenland (SF Gateway eBook | SF Masterworks paperback)
1992 Synners, Pat Cadigan (SF Gateway eBook | SF Masterworks paperback)
1992 FoolsPat Cadigan (SF Gateway eBook)
1996 FairylandPaul McAuley (SF Gateway eBook |Gollancz paperback)
1999 Dreaming in Smoke, Tricia Sullivan (SF Gateway eBook)
2003 The Separation, Christopher Priest (Gollancz eBook |Gollancz paperback)
2007 Nova Swing, M. John Harrison (Gollancz eBook |Gollancz paperback)
2008 Black Man, Richard Morgan (Gollancz eBook |Gollancz paperback)

 

Not too shabby, if we do say so ourselves – and, of course, there remains the chance that we’ll make it 13 out of 28 should either Philip Mann‘s The Disestablishment of Paradise or Christopher Priest‘s The Adjacent triumph on the 1st May.

Coming Soon: the Nebula Award-winners . . .

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Posted in Awards, Commentary, News
Comments: 1
1 2 3 38