Thoughts from the SF Gateway

SF Gateway Christmas Sale!

30 November 2012

Hear ye! Hear ye!*

 

Come one, come all!**

 

Everything must go!***

 

Sierra! Alpha! Lima! Echo!  SALE!

 

SF Gateway is delighted to announce an end-of year sale: all regularly-priced eBooks will be reduced to £2.99 over the holiday period (which you can take to mean approximately 7th December through to the 10th January 2013 – exact timing will vary across individual retailers, depending on how long it takes them to process the change of information).

But hold on: what’s this?  “All regularly priced eBooks” – them’s weasel words, surely?  Nope. Not a bit of it. Them’s honest words. We want to be completely transparent about this: we’ll be reducing the price of all SF Gateway eBooks to £2.99 except for the six Boxed Sets we mentioned on Wednesday, and a handful of other higher-priced titles, which are:

Necronomicon and Eldritch Tales by H.P. Lovecraft
Zones of Thought by Vernor Vinge
Conan’s Brethren by Robert E. Howard
The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke

 

So there’s our full disclosure: all SF Gateway eBooks will be £2.99 for the duration of the sale, except for the eleven mentioned above.  That’s  over 1,650 eBooks, people!  Happy reading!

 

*** N.B. These prices hold true for the UK market; prices in other currencies and other markets should still be discounted, but we cannot guarantee they will match the levels above, as pricing in these markets is outside our control. ***

 

NEWS JUST IN: READERS ARE OVER THE MOON ABOUT THE SF GATEWAY SALE!****

_______________________________________________

 

* did anyone every really say that?

** well, technically not all – the offer isn’t limited to those who own ereaders, but those who don’t are advised to just stop and think for a moment

*** or not, as the case may be; I mean we’re pretty sure we won’t run out of eBooks, but do you really want to take the chance?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**** we’re very, very sorry . . .

 

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Posted in Housekeeping
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Remembering Robert Holdstock

29 November 2012

It’s three years ago, today, that Robert Holdstock passed away. Some four months after the publication of what would be his final novel – fittingly, a Ryhope Wood tale – the fantasy genre lost one of its modern masters, and those of us who were lucky enough to know the man as well as the books, lost a great friend.

Rob was a World Fantasy Award-winner for best novel, with Mythago Wood, and best novella, with ‘The Ragthorn’, co-written with Garry Kilworth. He won the BSFA Award four times – twice for short fiction, with ‘The Ragthorn’ and the original ‘Mythago Wood’ novella, and twice for best novel, with Mythago Wood and sequel LavondyssCeltika, his extraordinary tale of Merlin, centuries before the time of Arthur, won the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire for best novel translated into French.

In 2010, the British Fantasy Society posthumously gave him the Karl Edward Wagner Award for Special Achievement, and earlier this year the same body announced that its best novel award would henceforth be split into two categories: the August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel and the Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel. I can’t think of a better candidate to be permanently associated with the best in British Fantasy.

I’ll be raising a glass to Rob, this evening, in memory of great conversations over burgers and Belgian beer, and I’m sure many of you will be remembering him in other ways – not least, by reading or re-reading his wonderful books – but I leave you with this rather haunting tribute I found while gathering links for this post:

 

The riders had gone, clattering up the path to the castle and the woods beyond. But long after the pyre had burned to ash the boy was still crouched within the shrine cave, following with his gaze the trail of the drifting smoke, out across the forest, to the distance, to the setting sun, to the unknown regions of the west.

He wondered how to journey there.

 

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Posted in Authors
Comments: 5

Coming Soon to SF Gateway!

28 November 2012

This Friday, 30th November, sees the publication of a number of eBook ‘Boxed Sets’, which we’ve designed to serve as an introduction to some major series and authors. We’re calling them – with what we’re sure you’ll agree is disarming modesty – the Gateway Collections, and you can expect to find . . .

Dorsai!: The Gateway Collection | Gordon R. Dickson
Dumarest: The Gateway Collection | E.C. Tubb
Dune: The Gateway Collection | Frank Herbert
Gor: The Gateway Collection | John Norman
The Stainless Steel Rat: The Gateway Collection | Harry Harrison

. . . all of which will contain the first six books of the respective series, and:

Sheri S. Tepper: The Gateway Collection, which contains two complete trilogies to serve as an introduction to the author’s work – the ‘Marianne’ and ‘Mavin’ trilogies.

 

Each collection contains six eBooks for the price of five, and will be available from your usual eBook retailers.

Enjoy!

___________________________________________________
Please note: these titles will not show up on the site until Friday

 

 

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Posted in New Releases
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SF Masterwork of the Week: Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

27 November 2012

Connie Willis has accumulated an extraordinary 11 Hugo and 7 Nebula Awards during her glittering career. She has twice won the Hugo and Nebula with the same book – in 2010 with Blackout/All Clear, and before that in 1992 with our SF Masterwork of the Week, Doomsday Book.

For Kivrin Engle, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity’s history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman travelling alone.

For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received.

But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin – barely of age herself – finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history’s darkest hours . . .

 

One of the major volumes of  Willis’s time travel sequence (the others being Firewatch, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and the two mentioned above: Blackout and All Clear), Doomsday Book is an extraordinary achievement by a writer at the peak of her powers. As Adam Roberts says in his introduction:

‘Like Shakespeare, she captures the mood of a time, the feel of medieval England, and she does so with remarkable vividness. To read Doomsday Book is to be drawn immersively into a world that is defined by its difference, both to the present and to the present’s ideas of how the past was. And because it feels real, we care about the people in it.’

If you’d like to discuss Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book – or any of our SF Masterworks of the Week, there’s a dedicated SF Gateway Forum thread here.

 

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Posted in Awards, Masterworks
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Editors’ Choice: Cowboy Angels by Paul McAuley

26 November 2012

 

This week’s SF Gateway Editors’ Choice comes, controversially, from the 21st century: Cowboy Angels by the Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick and John W. Campbell Memorial Award-winning author Paul McAuley.

 

It is 1984 in the United States of America. Not our version of America, but an America that calls itself the Real, an America in which the invention of Turing Gates has allowed access to sheaves of alternate histories. For ten years, in the name of democracy, the Real has been waging clandestine wars and fomenting revolution across multiple Earths, freeing versions of America from communist or fascist rule, and extending its influence across a wide variety of alternate realities.

But finally, the human and political costs have proven too high, and new President Jimmy Carter has called an end to war, and is bringing troops and secret agents home. Some, however, don’t want to follow orders . . .

Adam Stone is called out of retirement when his former comrade, Tom Waverly, begins to murder different versions of the same person, mathematician Eileen Barrie. Aided by Waverly’s daughter, Linda, Adam hunts for his old friend across different sheaves, but when they finally catch up with him, they discover that they have stumbled into the middle of an audacious conspiracy that plans to exploit a new property of the Turing Gate: it will change not only the history of the Real, but that of every other reality, including our own.

Combining elements of noir, alternate history and conspiracy thriller to produce a compelling and action-packed race across parallel realities, if you put Sliders and 24 into an atom smasher, the resulting particles might look a lot like Cowboy Angels.

If you’d like to discuss Paul McAuley’s Cowboy Angels – or any of our Editors’ Choice books, there’s a dedicated SF Gateway Forum thread here.

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Prudish Pirates

23 November 2012

Found on a pirate site and presented without comment:

Oh, alright, just one comment, then: Dude, do you think you might have your content filter bar set just a little low . . . ?

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Posted in Whimsy
Comments: 1

Whose (First) Line Is It, Anyway?

23 November 2012

Once a day, this week, we’ve been tweeting the opening lines to SF Gateway books.  In case you missed them, they were:

Monday: Edward – you must come back to the Lodge. Please don’t delay for even an hour!
Tuesday: The volcano that had reared Taratua up from the Pacific depths had been sleeping now for half a million years.
Wednesday: The young lieutenant-colonel was drunk, apparently, and determined to rush upon disaster.
Thursday: ‘These people were giants,’ Tony said. He waved up at the towering ruin before them.
Friday: I have this continuing fantasy of assassinating the President. Any President.

But since all of those tweets contained links to the books in question, here’s another to really test you:

I am Kinnall Darival and I mean to tell you all about myself.

And if even that’s too easy, maybe you should venture over to the Gollancz blog and take our fiendish SF Masterworks quiz. There are prizes to be had!

 

 

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Locus Best SF and Fantasy List

22 November 2012

The always excellent Locus magazine is compiling a survey of the Best SF & Fantasy of the 20th and 21st centuries. The categories are SF Novel, Fantasy Novel, SF/F Novella, SF/F Novelette and SF/F Short Story, and you – that’s right: YOU – can have your say.

Go here to select your top ten novels, novellas, novelettes and short stories of the 20th and 21st (so far) centuries. Locus has helpfully provided extensive lists of books & short fiction covering the two periods to use as an aide-mémoire, but you’re not required to choose from these lists:
* 20th century novels
* 20th century short fiction
* 21st century novels
* 21st century short fiction

We mighty cheekily suggest that the 1,500 or so books on the SF Gateway could also prove useful as a reference in the 20th century category.

Locus is as close as we have in the SFF field to a ‘paper of record’. It’s also a publication I’ve been reading since 1985, so I’m probably a little biased when I say that this is very likely to be the most extensive and important survey of the field for years to come. Given how extremely well-read and informed the majority of the Locus readership is, it’s certainly hard to think of a survey likely to carry more credibility.

The Locus survey is open until 30th November, so you have a week and a day to vote. So, what are you waiting for?

 

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Cover Art for Art’s Sake

21 November 2012

Prompted by the awesome On This Day function on the indispensable Encyclopedia of Science Fiction – which tells us that today is Vincent Di Fate’s birthday – we thought it might be nice to pay homage to some of the wonderful cover art that has graced science fiction novels down the years.

Of course, SF and Fantasy books have endured more than their fair share of embarrassing, cheap, titillating covers that look like they’ve sped onto the shelves straight from the nocturnal imaginings of a fourteen-year-old boy, with barely enough time to slap the author and title on the front in a hideously garish typeface. But Vincent Di Fate wasn’t responsible for any of those. His metier was (and continues to be) awesome spaceships and space scenes, like this one from his website:

Simply wonderful. And there’s plenty more where that came from; Di Fate’s art has graced the books of many of the field’s most popular authors as well as being utilised by NASA, with whom he worked as one of the conceptual artists for the Apollo/Soyuz programme in 1975, and in 1985 he was commissioned to produce the official painting of the International Space Station.

As can be seen from a quick flick through Di Fate’s wonderful coffee table book Infinite Worlds: The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art, SF’s artists have been in many ways just as important as its writers in determining how we view the future. What would modern SF be without the art of Chesley Bonestell, Jim Burns, Virgil Finlay, Frank Kelly Freas and Michael Whelan, to name but a few?  And how many of us, I wonder, can’t consider Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series without immediately thinking of Chris Foss?

Some of these old covers to SF classics are as much cultural artefacts as the covers to iconic albums such as Dark Side of the Moon or Sergeant Pepper. They’re part of our field’s history, now, and – no matter how important eBooks are becoming as a means of ensuring these books remain available – we should always remember and honour that.

 

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SF Masterwork of the Week: Dangerous Visions

20 November 2012

Dangerous Visions is widely regarded as being the most influential anthology of all time. It helped define the New Wave movement in the United States, and its contents page reads like a Who’s Who of science fiction in the ’60s:

Evensong by Lester del Rey
Flies by Robert Silverberg
The Day After the Day the Martians Came by Frederik Pohl
Riders of the Purple Wage by Philip José Farmer
The Malley System by Miriam Allen deFord
A Toy for Juliette by Robert Bloch
The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World by Harlan Ellison
The Night That All Time Broke Out by Brian W. Aldiss
The Man Who Went to the Moon — Twice by Howard Rodman
Faith of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick
The Jigsaw Man by Larry Niven
Gonna Roll the Bones by Fritz Leiber
Lord Randy, My Son by Joe L. Hensley
Eutopia by Poul Anderson
Incident in Moderan and The Escaping by David R. Bunch
The Doll-House by James Cross
Sex and/or Mr. Morrison by Carol Emshwiller
Shall the Dust Praise Thee? by Damon Knight
If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister? by Theodore Sturgeon
What Happened to Auguste Clarot? by Larry Eisenberg
Ersatz by Henry Slesar
Go, Go, Go, Said the Bird by Sonya Dorman
The Happy Breed by John Sladek
Encounter with a Hick by Jonathan Brand
From the Government Printing Office by Kris Neville
Land of the Great Horses by R. A. Lafferty
The Recognition by J. G. Ballard
Judas by John Brunner
Test to Destruction by Keith Laumer
Carcinoma Angels by Norman Spinrad
Auto-da-Fé by Roger Zelazny
Aye, and Gomorrah by Samuel R. Delany

These are stories of lasting worth and interest, despite that the taboos they set out to break two years before the lunar landing have, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, been well and truly colonised by the mainstream. It is an important collection because it was an important collection and because of the ferociously high quality of its stories – which dominated the SF awards of the time, with multiple nominations and wins.

As Adam Roberts say in his introduction:

“This remains one of the most celebrated collections of original fiction ever published in the field of science fiction; and its stories, and meta-stories, explore many aspects of danger. And however dangerous these visions did or did not prove to its editor, it would be a cowardly reader who elected not to risk them.”

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