Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Happy Birthday, Tim Powers . . . Kind Of . . .

28 February 2013

Multi-award-winning fantasy author Tim Powers was born on 29th February, 1952 – making him either fifteen-and-a-bit or sixty-one today. Or tomorrow. Or . . . something.

Perhaps we’re biased at SF Gateway, but there’s always seemed something inherently fantastic about the floating day of the 29th February. It’s like a mini Brigadoon, popping up every four years to wreak its mischief (no offence, Tim!) and then be gone. And it seems particularly apt that a date that spends almost all of its time hidden from view should be the birthday of an author whose career has centred around unveiling the hidden back stories of history – indeed ‘Secret Histories’ is the title of literary agent John Berlyne‘s incredibly detailed bibliography of Tim Powers‘ works (published by the excellent PS Publishing).

Whether it’s Bugsy Siegel’s Las Vegas, the Romantic poets, superspy Kim Philby or pirates in the Caribbean, Tim Powers delights in peeling back the apparently odd behaviour of historical figures and showing that, had we but know what was really going on, we would have to agree that their responses were – far from being peculiar – the only rational reactions to their circumstances. It is that magical place where revisionist fantasy, conspiracy and alternate history meet, and Tim Powers has made it his own.

Happy Fifteenth-and-a-Quarter Birthday, Tim!

 

You can find many of Tim Powers’ books on his SF Gateway author page, and read more about him at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and The Encyclopedia of Fantasy.

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Posted in Authors, Commentary
Comments: Comments Off on Happy Birthday, Tim Powers . . . Kind Of . . .

Readers’ Choice: The Magnificent Showboats

27 February 2013

Since we launched the SF Gateway at the end of 2011, it’s been fascinating to see the reaction to the books and authors we’re returning to print (or should that be ‘print’?).

There have been numerous variations on ‘Oh, I remember her!’ and ‘I love that book, haven’t read anything of his for ages.’, which are very gratifying to hear. There are a few authors whose publication has dropped into the interwebs with nary a ripple, which is a great pity and something we’re determined to rectify via the blog, Twitter and home page spotlight areas. And then there are those authors where the response has been so enthusiastic and vocal that we’re scratching our heads at how their work managed to drift out of print in the first place.

Read more…

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Comments: Comments Off on Readers’ Choice: The Magnificent Showboats

SF Masterwork of the Week: Slow River

26 February 2013

The hand I had dipped in the river was drying. It itched. I rubbed the web between my thumb and forefinger, the scar there. Tomorrow, if all went well, if Ruth would help me one last time, a tadpole-sized implant would be placed under the scar. And I would become someone else. Again. Only this time I hoped it would be permanent. Next time I dipped my hand in the river it would be as someone legitimate, reborn three years after arriving naked and nameless in the city.

And so begins Nicola Griffith‘s 1995 novel, Slow River, a compelling tale of power, privilege, manipulation, betrayal and the fluidity of identity in the 21st century.

She awoke in an alley to the splash of rain. She was naked, a foot-long gash in her back was still bleeding, and her identity implant was gone. Lore van de Oest had been the daughter of one of the world’s most powerful families . . . and now she was nobody, and she had to hide.

Then out of the rain walked Spanner, predator and thief, who took her in, cared for her wound, and taught her how to reinvent herself again and again. No one could find Lore now: not the police, not her family, and not the kidnappers who had left her in that alley to die. She had escaped . . . but the cost of her new found freedom was crime and deception, and she paid it over and over again, until she had become someone she loathed . . .

 

Slow River won the Lambda Award in 1996 and the Nebula Award for best novel in 1997 and, building on the Lambda and James Tiptree Jr Award-winning success of her debut novel Ammonite, confirmed Nicola Griffith as a powerful new voice in science fiction. Both books are available as SF Masterworks paperbacks and SF Gateway eBooks.

Slow River paperback | eBook
Ammonite paperback | eBook

Read more about Nicola Griffith at her author entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Comments: Comments Off on SF Masterwork of the Week: Slow River

Robert Silverberg’s Tales of Majipoor

25 February 2013

There are many pleasures involved in working on the SF Gateway: the burst of nostalgia as we ship in used paperbacks as source files for conversion and marvel at old cover illustrations that range from the sublime to the deeply embarrassing(many of them triggering ‘Oh, I remember that!’ memories); renewing acquaintances with old favourites; discovering ‘new’ authors.

But perhaps the greatest pleasure is to be found in the realisation that you are publishing a true legend of the genre.  We are all of us at Gollancz/SF Gateway fans at heart. We love what we do and although we are all (of course!) professional at all times, I don’t think any of us has lost the thrill that comes with looking at the book we’re working on and having to pinch ourselves because the name on that book is Ursula LeGuin or Michael Moorcock or . . . Robert Silverberg.

Read more…

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Posted in Authors, New Releases
Comments: Comments Off on Robert Silverberg’s Tales of Majipoor

Phillip Mann: The Disestablishment of Paradise

22 February 2013

To mark his return to the Gollancz list after a far-too-long absence, we asked author Phillip Mann a few questions about his new novel, The Disestablishment of Paradise, which was released on Thursday 21st February. The first part of the interview is on the Gollancz blog here, the second part is here, and this is the final part, which deals more with Phillip’s remarkable backlist, all of which are now available as ebooks and can be found on  the SF Gateway.

The Disestablishment of Paradise tells of the final days of human involvement on a lush and welcoming colony world. Despite the planet’s remarkable scientific possibilities, the decision has been made. The finances don’t work, there is no benefit to human civilisation, and so Paradise is to be Disestablished. All human trace will be removed. But Dr Hera Melhuish, the scientific leader of the colony, has other plans . . .

What brought you back to prose writing? Do you have any plans for the future?

I have had three careers which have sometimes existed simultaneously : as a theatre director, as a teacher of drama and as a writer. My four books Escape to the Wild Wood, Stand Alone Stan, The Dragon Wakes and The Burning Forest which are episodes in a tetralogy called A Land Fit for Heroes** had emptied me of ideas. I actually felt empty when I finished the last one. All my knowledge and feelings had somehow been poured into those books. For a while, I thought I had nothing more to say. I was also saddened that those books had not do not been widely read even though they were well reviewed.  Perhaps their day will come. If readers enjoy The Disestablishment of Paradise, then I am very sure they would enjoy A Land Fit for Heroes.

Anyway . . . it took a while before I felt the urge to write again. I went back to working in the theatre. At the same time, I read widely and voraciously. Wrote some poems. Taught creative drama. Fiddled in the garden… and was on the whole, happy. But then, little by little, ideas started to come to me. I was worried about climate change and the seeming  inability of out governments to deal with it effectively. I was horrified at what was happening to our wild-life especially the wanton killing of animals such as elephants for their ivory and rhinos for their horns. I thought about the death of species. I remembered the image of a lonely creature blundering into the desert, leaving only its footprints… And then one day I simply started to write again. It just happened. I probably thought it was another short story starting up – but the writing took off. I actually began at what is now Chapter 2 of the present ms. at the point where Hera is on Paradise and planting at sea.

Quickly the story became complex, and the voices of the characters became clear. The story outline developed. I decided to use a story teller as I had done in The Eye of the Queen and Wulfsyarn, A Mosaic and this seemed to make the telling easier. I also had the idea that I wanted to write special ‘documents’ to make the story more plausible.

Almost without knowing it, I was writing again and very happy to be doing so. Simple really . . . well not quite.  But that is another story.

For the future: I have found that the ideas I developed in The D of P remain very strong in me. As a result, I have written a version of the story for younger readers called The Paradise Mission. The story is told by a young woman called Hetty, who is an Explorer. She has arrived on Paradise to look for a young man called Crispin. He was the first human to reach Paradise, but and has now gone missing. It is her mission to find out what has happened to him and to rescue him if possible. In fulfilling her mission, she encounters Paradise in all its wonder, danger and exuberance. What happens to them is, for the time being, a secret – but I hope the story will be published soon.

I am also at work on a new novel – a dark comedy called The Headman – but there is not much I can tell you about that except that it is quite different to anything I have written before.

Phillip Mann, Feb 2nd 2013

You can read more about Phillip Mann in his author entry at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, and find his books at SF Gateway.

 

** Editor’s Note: A Land Fit for Heroes was originally envisaged by Phillip Mann as a trilogy, although it was originally published in four parts. For the SF gateway editions, it has been restored in accordance with the author’s instructions, and now comprises three books: Escape to the Wild Wood, Stand Alone Stan and The Burning Forest.

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Comments: Comments Off on Phillip Mann: The Disestablishment of Paradise

New Book of the Week: When Worlds Collide

21 February 2013

THE GREATEST SHOCK OF ALL TIME IS . . . WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE!

George Pal‘s production of When Worlds Collide was released to cinemas in 1951, at a time when it was still a major selling point to announce that it was in ‘color by Technicolor!’

 

 

I don’t remember how old I was when I first saw the film – eleven? twelve? – but I do remember being very impressed by the concept and the drama, if not the scientific accuracy (yes, even back then I was a pedantic little $#!%). This was science fiction writ large – the end of the worldRogue planets! Space arks! Had I not already had my neural switches set to SF, it’s likely this would have been the film to turn me. It was many years later that I discovered that the film had been a book first, published in 1933 and co-written by Edwin Balmer and none other than Philip Wylie, whose 1930 novel Gladiator was the inspiration for Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster‘s Superman.

With the world still sadly full of people willing to believe in discredited ancient prophecies or the rubbish put about by deluded apocalypse cults, it’s perhaps no surprise that there is a continued fascination with end-of-the-world stories. But, as good as the novel and the film of When Worlds Collide are, they’re still just stories. If they weren’t, there’d have been no publishing industry extant to release the sequel, After Worlds Collide . . .

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Posted in New Releases
Comments: Comments Off on New Book of the Week: When Worlds Collide

Happy Birthday, Richard Matheson

20 February 2013

Richard Burton Matheson – the man behind I Am Legend and The Shrinking Man – was born on this day in 1926.

I Am Legend, of course, has been filmed a number of times – as The Last Man on Earth in 1964; as The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston, in 1971; and under its own title in 2007, with Will Smith in the lead role. The Shrinking Man was filmed in 1957 as The Incredible Shrinking Man. Matheson wrote the screenplay himself, and the film won a Hugo Award in 1958. Now, it seems that Hollywood is going to take another crack the tale, with Matheson again providing the screenplay.

We are, by nature, cynical about remakes, but in situations such as this, where the state of special effects has advanced so much since the original, it seems like a worthwhile exercise. And if this new film serves to introduce a new generation of readers to Richard Matheson’s work, then it has the SF Gateway seal of approval.

For more about Richard Matheson, we recommend his Author entry in the indispensable, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

 

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Posted in Authors
Comments: Comments Off on Happy Birthday, Richard Matheson

Readers’ Choice: The Last Coin

19 February 2013

This week’s Readers’ Choice comes to us from someone very important to SF Gateway: the irreplaceable @prstarky, the very heart and soul of Orion’s Digital & Audio departments. Although technically not an SF Gateway alumnus, it is fair to say that without his sterling work, the eBooks we publish simply wouldn’t make it out into the big wide world of digital retail, from whence you buy, read and (we hope) cherish them.

As well as being a digital guru par excellence, @prstarky is both a fan and a keen judge of SF & Fantasy, so when he recommends a book, we tend to listen – especially when that book is by a double-World Fantasy Award-winner of the calibre of James P. Blaylock.

Two thousand years ago there lived a man who sold some valuable information for a fee of thirty silver coins. Is name was Judas Iscariot, and he is no longer with us. The coins, however, still exist – and still hold an elusive power over all who claim them. Like Andrew, whose attempts at innkeeping bring in stranger business than he ever expected. And Aunt Naomi, whose most prized family heirloom is a silver spoon – with a curiously ancient-looking engraving. And especially old Mr Pennyman, who is only five silver coins short of immortality . . .

 

Or, in @prstarky‘s words: A work of bizarre humour about a pig, a spoon and the importance of Shredded Wheat . . .

 

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Posted in Uncategorized
Comments: Comments Off on Readers’ Choice: The Last Coin

Living in an SF Novel

18 February 2013

Your humble SF Gateway scribe tries hard to stay abreast of current events and generally considers himself to be reasonably well-informed. Sometimes, though, things slip by.

You know how it is: occasionally, the morning routine is interrupted – the alarm gets snoozed once too often, the kids are taking twice as long to get ready as usual or you remember at the last minute that today is the day the bins go out – and 100% of your concentration goes to the task of getting out the door and catching the train on time; the TV news never goes on, the radio news is screened out, and you get to work with the previous evening’s news as your latest snapshot of the world. And, usually, it really doesn’t matter all that much.

Last Friday, though, I got to work on the back of a week or so of domestic chaos, and it’s fair to say I was not quite as up-to-date as I like to be regarding international events. So when my colleague, Marcus, started watching a video on his PC and I heard what seemed like a pretty generic SF disaster flick, I asked him whether it was a movie or a game trailer.

‘Neither,’ he replied, ‘it’s film of the meteor that hit Russia.’
‘What?’ I asked – thus garnering top marks for both courtesy and vocabulary. ‘What meteor?’
‘The meteor that landed in Russia. There was a fiery trail across the sky and then it hit. Huge explosion and the shock wave blew out windows and injured hundreds of people.’
‘When did this happen?’ I demanded.
‘This morning; didn’t you hear about it?’

Well, obviously I didn’t but when I came over to his desk to watch the footage, I was astounded that I hadn’t; it’s remarkable:

The thing that immediately struck me – and I’m sure I was far from alone in this – was how closely the reporting resembled the opening of a War of the Worlds-style Hollywood thriller. I’m not sure whether the next few days will bring walking plants or alien-filled cylinders, so I’m keeping an eagle eye out for both – just to be sure.

Of course, at the same time, a 50-metre-wide asteroid missed the Earth by just 17,000 mile. If that doesn’t sound like a particularly close shave, consider that geostationary orbit – the distance at which an object in orbit appears fixed overhead – is a little over 22,000 miles from the Earth’s surface, and the moon, our nearest neighbour, is 250,000 miles away. In astronomical terms, 17,000 miles is like a footballer hitting the post.

And as if that wasn’t enough, in the next day’s newspaper, I find NASA scientists plan Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter moon. I can’t be the only one who read this and immediately thought:

All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landing there.

We’ve suspected for some time that we’re living in the future, but now it seems an inescapable conclusion that we’re also living in a science fiction novel. The only question is which one . . . ?

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Email
  • Print
Comments: Comments Off on Living in an SF Novel

SF Masterwork of the Week: Take Back Plenty

15 February 2013

We’re sure you’d agree that it would take a pretty extraordinary book to prompt no less an August personage than Brian Aldiss to say: ‘Greenland proves himself the Verdi of space opera. Awesome orchestration admirable arias!’

And if that book also prompted the respected and award-winning magazine Interzone to say, ‘A masterpiece. If you ever wondered why you began reading science fiction this book answers that question’, we’re sure you’d agree that we could probably remove the qualifier and state with some confidence that this was a genuinely extraordinary book.

And if we told you that that same book had scooped the major British SF awards in the year it was published, winning the BSFA and Arthur C. Clarke Awards, beating (among other fine novels) Iain M. Banks‘s Use of Weapons – regarded by many as having a fair call to be considered the finest British SF novel of the past 25 years – we think you’d agree that it’s high time we stopped talking about this book and started reading it!


 

It is carnival time on Mars, but Tabitha Jute isn’t partying. She is in hiding from the law, penniless and about to lose her livelihood and her best friend, the space barge “Alice Liddell”. Then, the intriguing Marco Metz offers her some money to take him to Plenty, and then the adventure begins.

We’re delighted to announce the addition to Gollancz‘s SF Masterworks series – and the SF Gateway! – of none other than Colin Greenland‘s highly acclaimed and award-winning novel, Take Back Plenty. It’s the first of the Tabitha Jute novels – the rest of which will follow as eBooks from SF Gateway – and you no longer have an excuse not to read it.

So what are you waiting for? It’s Friday, after all – treat yourself to a weekend read. We’re confident you’ll enjoy it . . . plenty.

 

 

Sorry. I’ll get me coat . . .

 

Share This

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