Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Happy Birthday, Patricia A. McKillip and Tim Powers!

29 February 2016

It seems oddly fitting that two of modern fantasy’s finest authors should have their birthdays on that Brigadoon of dates, the 29th February.

Tim Powers and Patricia A. McKillip, boasting six World Fantasy Awards between them (for now!), today celebrate their sixteenth and seventeenth birthdays, respectively.  To catalogue their literary triumphs would take us up to the next leap year, but edited highlights include The Riddlemaster trilogy, the Fault Lines trilogy, Ombria in Shadow, The Anubis Gates, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld and Declare.

All in seventeen years or less! And they said Mozart was a child prodigy . . .

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On This Day: Theodore Sturgeon

26 February 2016

Theodore Sturgeon was born Edward Hamilton Waldo on this day in 1918. Sturgeon was not, in fact, a pseudonym; his name was legally changed after his parents’ divorce. Sturgeon was an American science fiction and horror writer and critic and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database credits him with about 400 reviews and more than 200 stories.

His genre publishing career began with the sale of “Ether Breather” to Astounding in 1939, but he only began writing in earnest in 1946 after a period of travelling. He produced a great body of acclaimed short fiction (SF’s premier short story award is named in his honour) as well as a number of novels, including his most famous work More Than Human, which was awarded the 1954 retro-Hugo in 2004. Sturgeon also wrote the screenplays for seminal Star Trek episodes “Shore Leave” and “Amok Time”, inventing the famous Vulcan mating ritual, the pon farr.

In 1951, Sturgeon coined what is now known as Sturgeon’s Law: “Ninety percent of [science fiction] is crud, but then, ninety percent of everything is crud.”

 

You can find more of Theodore Sturgeon’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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Vintage Cover Lucky Dip!

24 February 2016

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Once again we’re diving into the Magical Mystery Box of Magnificence!

Magical Mystery Box of Covers

Today’s lucky dip features are titles by the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Gordon R. Dickson and the fantastically talented Keith Laumer (coming to the SF Gateway soon!), and novel by the Hugo-Award-winning author of Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner.*

 

A MAZE OF STARS

Among the six hundred thousand stars in the vast Arm of Stars, over six hundred planets had been seeded with human stock by the greatest feat of technology ever achieved, the Ship. And on each of these worlds, the memory of the Ship had faded into legend over the years. The Ship, however, still endured, watching over the colonies on a cyclical and seemingly endless journey through time and space. But in its long odyssey, the Ship had somehow been damaged – it had become as conscious, and lonely, as any human being. And as it visited, again and again, each of the worlds it had seeded, it found tragedy in its wake. For the humans of the Arm of Stars were becoming more and more alien. Even worse, the Ship was beginning to change in ways its designers had never intended . . .

The level of detail in this cover is amazing – John Berkey did a brilliant job. I would highly recommend looking at the high-res version!

 

THE GALAXY BUILDER

The world, as Lafayette O’Leary knew it, disappeared in a flash. Perhaps it was his own doing – after all, he had the uncanny gift of creating alternate realities by sheer mental power. But the result was a nightmare gone out of control. All O’Leary wanted was to find his wife and return to the familiar world of Artesia. Yet no sooner did he manage to extricate himself from one bizarre situation than he was thrust into another, equally threatening…

There was only one thing to do: he had to penetrate the very center of power from which his destiny was being controlled and – take it into his own hands!

“Wait! Did I leave the hair straighteners on?”

“Oh, for the love of–! Come on, we’re already late!”

 

SPACE WINNERS

They were humanity’s hope – the first young people selected to leave Earth for study in the Galactic Federation. But something went wrong in deep space. Terribly wrong. Suddenly Jon Rawlins, Ellen Bouvier, Curt Harrington and the squirrel-like alien philosopher Peep were castaways, stranded on the Quarantined World of Quebahr – with no training, and little hope of rescue. Between them and the Federation’s emergency beacon were primitive Mauregs, aggressive Walats, llizard-like Noifs – plus danger, conspiracy, and the mystery of an impending high-tech war on a backward, peaceful planet…

Without warning, the future of two worlds depend on three young humans’ ability to adapt and survive.

The Star Wars cast sure has changed a lot since I last saw them…

squints– Did Chewie get a haircut?

 

*Please click on the images for a higher resolution.

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On This Day: Joanna Russ

22 February 2016

Joanna Russ, radical feminist author and scholar, was born on this day in 1937. An entertaining and challenging novelist, Russ began her writing career in the 1950s, although her feminist concerns only really emerged through her work with the publication of her Alyx stories in the 1960s. She was an out lesbian in a time when very few women dared and was one of the most outspoken authors to challenge male dominance of SF.

 

Her best known work, The Female Man, is a landmark book in the fields of science fiction and feminism. Despite not winning the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1975, The Female Man won one of the three Retrospective Tiptree Awards in 1996. Samuel R. Delany describes it as being “modelled with art, honesty and intelligence” and of being “accusing, astonishing, unsettling and very much alive”.

 

The Female Man is a tale of four women living in parallel worlds, each with a different gender landscape. When they begin to travel to each other’s worlds each woman’s preconceptions on gender and what it means to be a woman are challenged. Acclaimed as one of the essential works of science fiction, it takes a look at gender roles in society and remains a work of great power.

 

You can find more about Joanna Russ’ 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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Six Novels That Will Take You Beyond The Event Horizon!

19 February 2016

Last Thursday the world awoke to the exciting announcement that Gravitational Waves had been detected for the very first time, essentially proving Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. Gravitational Waves are ripples in the fabric of space and time, and are produced by any accelerating mass (and apparently, according to computer simulations, look remarkably like the Windows Media Player visualizer…). The larger the mass and the greater the acceleration, the more obvious the effect of the resulting ripple will be.

Gravitational Waves
One stellar example of huge masses moving at high speeds is black holes; indeed the event which allowed the detection at all was the collision of two black holes. And so for your enjoyment: 6 novels which have travelled beyond the event horizon, and brought us closer to black holes than ever before!

 

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Private William Mandella is a reluctant hero in an interstellar war against an unknowable and unconquerable alien enemy. But his greatest test will be when he returns home. Relativity means that for every few months’ tour of duty, centuries have passed on Earth, isolating the combatants ever more from the word for whose future they are fighting.

 

Eternal Light by Paul McAuley

In the aftermath of an interstellar war, an enigmatic star is discovered, travelling towards the Solar System from the galactic core. Its appearance adds a new and dangerous factor in the turbulent politics of the inhabited worlds as the rival factions – the power-holders of the ReUnited Nations, the rebels who secretly oppose their power, and the Religious Witnesses – all see advantages to be gained.

 

Artifact by Gregory Benford

A small cube of black rock has been unearthed in a 3500-year-old Mycenaean tomb. An incomprehensible object in an impossible place; its age, its purpose, and its origins are unknown. Its discovery has unleashed a global storm of intrigue, theft and espionage, and is pushing nations to the brink of war. Its substance has scientists baffled. And the miracle it contains does not belong on this Earth…

 

The City and the Stars, by Arthur C. Clarke

Men had built cities before, but never such a city as Diaspar. For millennia its protective dome shut out the creeping decay and danger of the world outside. Once, it held powers that rule the stars.

But then, as legend has it, the invaders came, driving humanity into this last refuge. It takes one man, a Unique, to break through Diaspar’s stifling inertia, to smash the legend and discover the true nature of the Invaders.

 

Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks

Lededje Y’breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right she will need the help of the Culture.

Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful – and arguably deranged – warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A war – brutal, far-reaching – is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it’s about to erupt into reality.

 

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

It is the 29th century and the universe of the Human Hegemony is under threat. Invasion by the warlike Ousters looms, and the mysterious schemes of the secessionist AI TechnoCore bring chaos ever closer. On the eve of disaster, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to the legendary Time Tombs on Hyperion, home to the Shrike, a lethal creature, part god and part killing machine, whose powers transcend the limits of time and space. The pilgrims have resolved to die before discovering anything less than the secrets of the universe itself.

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From Pringles to Satellites

17 February 2016

Although science fiction authors are known for their wildly creative stories that include things we’ve all wanted to experience in the here-and-now – instantaneous travel, am I right? – a few of them have invented things that we already use today.

Robert A. Heinlein, multiple winner of the Hugo Award, invented the water bed after being bed-ridden during his recovery from tuberculosis. The concept was included in his award-winning novel Stranger in a Strange Land.

Gene Wolfe, multi-award-winning author and mechanical engineer, invented something rather unexpected: the unique way that Pringles are fried and then dumped into their cylindrical packaging.

Rather more in line with his impressive SF credentials is Arthur C. Clarke’s invention, or at least significant contribution to the invention, of the geostationary satellite. The geostationary orbit, the distance at which a satellite can remain stationary during the Earth’s 24-hour rotation, is even named after him.

Who knew?

 

You can read the full 8 Things Invented by Famous Writers article here.

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Sheri S. Tepper’s Marianne Trilogy, Reviewed

15 February 2016

Today we bring you a review of Sheri S. Tepper’s Marianne trilogy!

 

Marianne, the Magus, and the Manticore

If you enjoy Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series, you are bound to be captivated by the tale of Marianne Zahmani (originally from the small country of Alphenlicht, currently a student in Boston), a young woman who finds herself quite suddenly caught in a tug of war she doesn’t quite understand between a Magus from Alphenlicht and Madame Delubovoska, from the rival country of Lubovosk. She has her courage and her wits; she has a deeply unpleasant brother; and in another world, she’s being hunted by a Manticore. This is a gripping and original story, full of magic and wonder.

 

 

Marianne, the Madame and the Momentary Gods 

It doesn’t give away too much to say that Book 1 left Marianne uniquely vulnerable, but, as it turns out, also with additional protection (from the Momentary Gods, or momegs, who appear as dogs). Pitted once again against the elusive Madame Delubovoska, Marianne has a chance to undo a tragedy from the past, and perhaps have a shot at happiness. A brilliant, subtle and clever read.

 

 

Marianne, the Matchbox and the Malachite Mouse 

All over the world, people of all ages have been disappearing. It’s noticeable enough to be reported, but so far, explained away by the authorities. Meanwhile, Marianne’s Great-Aunt Dagma is dying and hopes to see Marianne one last time because she needs her help. Before setting out Alphenlicht’s oracle, the Cave of Light, gives Marianne a reading: something difficult to interpret about roads, ropes and cats. Woven together with skill, these pieces create the best of the Marianne series, with the same originality and readability of the first two.

 

Sheri S. Tepper (1929 – ) is the author of several resoundingly acclaimed novels, including The Margarets and Gibbons’ Decline and Fall, both shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, A Plague of Angels, Sideshow and Beauty, which was voted Best Fantasy Novel of the Year by readers of Locus. She is one of the few writers to have titles in both the SF and Fantasy Masterworks lists.

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ICYMI: On the Blog This Week

14 February 2016

In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights from the SF Gateway blog this week!

 

Heinlein’s Double Star & Rocketship Galileo, Reviewed – This post does what it says on the tin! A review of two great novels by the award-winning Robert A. Heinlein.

 

New Title Spotlight: Kelly Country – Kelly Country is a novel of frightening possibilities.

 

New Title Spotlight: Return To Eddarta – The epic Gandalara Cycle continues in Return to Eddarta!

 

Gollancz Signs Up Sequel To The War Of The Worlds From Stephen Baxter – Announcement alarm! The Massacre of Mankind is a sequel to one of the most famous and influential SF books ever – The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells. The novel is written by the multi-award-winning co-author of The Long Earth novels with Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter.

 

FEBRUARY’S SPOTLIGHT TITLES

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Gollancz signs up sequel to The War of the Worlds from Stephen Baxter

13 February 2016

Today we being you an exciting announcement from our sister imprint, Gollancz.

 

Gollancz is delighted to announce the acquisition of World rights to The Massacre of Mankind. Gollancz Commissioning Editor, Marcus Gipps, bought world rights from Chris Schelling of Selectric Artists.

 

The Massacre of Mankind is a sequel to one of the most famous and influential SF books ever – The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells. The novel is written by the multi-award-winning co-author of The Long Earth novels with Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter.

 

Marcus Gipps, Gollancz Commissioning Editor and the editor overseeing the book, said, “Steve has a great track record of collaborating with other authors, from Arthur C. Clarke and Alastair Reynolds to Terry Pratchett. I’ve seen early material from this remarkable new project, and can’t wait to unleash Steve’s new Martian terror upon the world.”

 

First published in 1897, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells has been both popular (having never gone out of print) and influential, spawning half a dozen feature films, radio dramas, a record album, various comic book adaptations, and a television series.
 

In Stephen Baxter’s terrifying sequel, set in late 1920s London, the Martians return, and the war begins again. But the aliens do not repeat the mistakes of their last invasion. They know how they lost last time. They target Britain first, since we resisted them. The massacre of mankind has begun.
 
Steve Baxter said: “HG Wells is the daddy of modern SF. He drew on deep traditions, for instance of scientific horror dating back to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and fantastic voyages such as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726). And he had important near-contemporaries such as Jules Verne. But Wells did more than any other writer to shape the form and themes of modern science fiction, and indeed through his wider work exerted a profound influence on the history of the twentieth century. Now it’s an honour for me to celebrate his enduring imaginative legacy, more than a hundred and fifty years after his birth.”

 

The Massacre of Mankind will be published in hardback, £20, and eBook  on the 19th January 2017.

 

Stephen Baxter is the pre-eminent SF writer of his generation. Published around the world he has won awards in the UK, US, Germany and Japan. He has written more than twenty novels, published in more than twenty languages. His previous works include, The Time Ships, an authorised sequel to The Time Machine by H. G. Wells to mark the centenary of the original’s publication. The Medusa Chronicles, a co-authored novel with Alastair Reynolds inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s short story ‘A Meeting with Medusa’ will be published by Gollancz in March 2016.

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New Title Spotlight: Return to Eddarta

12 February 2016

The Return to Eddarta is the sixth novel in the Gandalara Cycle from Randall Garrett and Vicki Ann Heydron. If you’ve yet to start this brilliant epic about Earth’s distant past, it begins with The Steel of Raithskar.

 

 

 

After a meteor explosion, Rikardon wakes in a new body-and in a strange desert land named Gandalara, where a sacred gem known as the Ra’ira grants its owner the power to rule-or to destroy…

 

Victory is sweet-but for Rikardon and Tarani, it is all too brief. Although they have retrieved the sword of the Kings from the lost city of Kä, a savage battle with the vineh mars their journey back to Raithskar. These ape-like creatures were once controlled through the power of the Ra’ira. Now they pose a threat both to the cat-like sha’um and humanoid Gandalarans.

 

To restore order, Rikardon and Tarani must travel to Eddarta, where Tarani can use the Ra’ira against the increasingly vicious vineh. First she must face her treacherous brother, Indomel, and convince the Council to name her High Lord in his place. Indomel will not take such betrayal lightly, but another danger is about to reveal itself-a sinister and ambitious traitor who has been hiding in plain sight all along.

 

You can find more titles from both Randall Garrett and Vicki Ann Heydron via their Author pages on the Gateway website, and read about them in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, here and here.

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