Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Gateway Essentials: Sheri S. Tepper

31 October 2016

In our moments of peak efficiency, we have content for the Gateway website and blog scheduled weeks in advance – occasionally, months. Mostly, that’s a good thing, enabling us to see what we’re doing over a sustained period and help us do our best to balance out our offerings as best we can.

But sometimes, fate intervenes and we find that an author whose work we are currently spotlighting on the Home page and are planning to blog about in a week’s time, passes away. So it has been with Sheri S. Tepper, with news breaking early last week that the eighty-seven-year-old author had died.

What to do in that situation?  After much soul-searching, we have decided to go ahead with the post as scheduled. To do otherwise seems to us to do a disservice to anyone wanting to read her books (which, in the end, is how we remember our favourite writers, isn’t it?). Anyone who is in any way offended by that decision should probably clcik away now – perhaps to last week’s In Memoriam post.

So: where does one start with the works of Sheri S. Tepper?  Her two outstanding works are probably The Gate to Women’s Country and Grass – both of which appear in the SF Masterworks. Or you could try her clever inversion of the tropes of fairy tales, in the Fantasy Masterwork Beauty.

The Gate to Women's Country Grass Beauty

After that, we recommend the two-part Awakeners series: Northshore and Southshore.

Northshore Shouthshore

And if you’re still hungry to explore Sheri S. Tepper’s worlds (and why wouldn’t you be?), you could try King’s Blood Four, the first volume of her much-loved The True Game series, Raising the Stones, a thematic sequel to Grass, or standalones Gibbon’s Decline and Fall and The Family Tree.

King's Blood Four Raising the Stones Gibbon's Decline and Fall The Family Tree

Sheri S. Tepper was a major figure of modern SF and Fantasy and her passing is a great loss to the field.

Sheri S. Tepper (1929 – 2016)

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SF Masterworks Spotlight: Starship Troopers

28 October 2016

Have you enjoyed James Cameron‘s Aliens? Did you love the reboot of Battlestar Galactica?  Do you have a soft spot for anime series Mobile Suit Gundam? Are you a fan of John Scalzi‘s Old Man’s War series or Harry Harrison‘s Bill, The Galactic Hero?  Do you think Joe Haldeman‘s The Forever War is one of the best SF novels of all time?

Hey, us too!

Which means we all owe Robert A. Heinlein a debt of thanks, because without Starship Troopers, none of those books, movies or TV series we love would exist. ‘strue. Starship Troopers, winner of the 1960 Hugo Award for Best novel, is as good a candidate for the military science fiction ur-text as you’ll find. It’s also a terrific read, in its own right.

Starship Troopers

‘The historians can’t seem to settle whether to call this one ‘The Third Space War’ (or the fourth), or whether ‘The First Interstellar War’ fits it better. We just call it ‘The Bug War’. Everything up to then and still later were ‘incidents’, ‘patrols’ or ‘police actions’. However, you are just as dead if you buy the farm in an ‘incident’ as you are if you buy it in a declared war.’

5,000 years in the future, humanity faces total extermination. Our one defence: highly-trained soldiers who scour the metal-strewn blackness of space to hunt down a terrifying enemy: an insect life-form known only as ‘Bugs.’

This is the story of trooper Johnny Rico, from his idealistic enlistment in the infantry of the future through his rigorous training to the command of his own platoon. And his destiny is a war that will span the galaxy.

 

Starship Troopers is available as an SF Masterworks hardback. You can find more of Robert A. Heinlein’s work via his Author page on the SF Gateway website, and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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Gateway Essentials: Philip Wylie

27 October 2016

Philip Wylie is one of science fiction’s best-kept secrets. Not many, today, are aware that he even existed, much less the extraordinary influence he has had on popular culture.

Wylie is probably best known for his 1933 novel When Worlds Collide, written with Edwin Balmer, which was filmed in 1951 by George Pal‘s production company. However, his most lasting influence on modern culture is by way of the 1930 novel Gladiator, in which a young man is endowed from the womb with incredible physical abilities, gifted him by the pre-natal intervention of his scientist father. The young protagonist who could jump higher than a house, run faster than a train and bend iron bars in his bare hands was the primary inspiration behind Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster’s Superman.

If you’re looking for a place to start reading Philip Wylie, then naturally, we recommend Gladiator . . .

Gladiator

. . . followed by When Worlds Collide, and its sequel After Worlds Collide.

When Worlds Collide After Worlds Collide

And here’s a promotional clip of the movie:

 

You can find these and more of Philip Wylie’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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Cover Reveal: Neuromancer!

26 October 2016

Back in the winter of 2015, when the world was a gentler, simpler place, we announced the return of William Gibson’s Neuromancer to its original UK publisher – indeed, to its original UK editor!

Gollancz, an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, is delighted to announce their acquisition of William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy, comprising Neuromancer, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive and a collection of short fiction, Burning Chrome. William Gibson’s Neuromancer ranks with 1984 and Brave New World as one of the 20th century’s most potent visions of the future.

Malcolm Edwards, Chairman of Gollancz, said: ‘Acquiring Neuromancer and Gibson’s other early works was one of the high points of my years at Gollancz in the 1980s, and I’m delighted to bring them back where they belong. They remain absolutely key titles in any account of late 20th century SF.’

William Gibson said: ‘I’m delighted to see Neuromancer and its two sequels, plus Burning Chrome, return to Victor Gollancz, my first UK publisher, and still more so under the excellent auspices of Malcolm Edwards, their original acquiring editor’

We are now proud and excited to reveal the covers to this seminal work of science fiction and its follow-up volumes.

Neuromancer

[Image by Daniel Brown; Design by Sinem Erkas]

The cover images were generated by a computer program, designed by award-winning artist, Daniel Brown, which uses fractal mathematics to create unique 3-D shapes that he then explores, looking for interesting forms. After he has isolated and tweaked the shapes to produce something he likes, the program overlays elements from his portfolio of architectural photos, to produce amazing Escheresque images of ‘impossible buildings’.

Daniel Brown said: ‘I had been experimenting with generating architecture via computer code. As a project it was still in its infancy and without real purpose. Then William Gibson contacted me, and stated it was exactly how he had envisaged The Sprawl. In an uncanny way the code found its own purpose.’

Count Zero Mona Lisa Overdrive Burning Chrome

[Images by Daniel Brown, Design by Sinem Erkas]

‘To be contacted by William Gibson for the designs was about the highest praise I could imagine. There’s no industry Award that can top that.’

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Neuromancer will be published in mass market paperback 8th December.

Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive and Burning Chrome will be published in mass market paperback 9th February 2017.

Neuromancer, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive are currently available in eBook.

Burning Chrome will be published in eBook 9th February 2017.

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RIP Sheri S. Tepper

25 October 2016

We were saddened yesterday to learn of the death of Sheri S. Tepper. Born in 1929, her career followed an unusual path; after publishing several SF poems including ‘Lullaby, 1990’ in Galaxy in 1963, she published nothing else until the 1980s, when her literary output suddenly exploded. Her first novel, King’s Blood Four, was published in 1983, beginning her signature The True Game series, and she had published an extraordinary seventeen separate volumes by the end of 1987.

Sheri S. Tepper’s writing often had a strong feminist and ecological bent, and she was among the most celebrated ecofeminist authors of our time. She won the 1992 Locus Award for Best Novel for Beauty, and was honoured with the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2015, as well as six nominations for the prestigious peer-chosen John W. Campbell Memorial Award, illustrating the high regard in which Tepper was held in the science fiction community. She also published numerous mystery novels under the pseudonyms A.J. Orde and B.J. Oliphant, but it is her highly gender-conscious, philosophical, intellectually adventurous science fiction work which will be remembered for many years to come.

On a personal note, in early 2013, we sent Sheri S. Tepper the proposed Introduction to her then-forthcoming SF Gateway omnibus for her comments and thoughts. Accompanying Ms Tepper’s gracious reply was an autobiographical note so extraordinary that we asked her for permission to post it. It was an incredibly moving piece – honest, heartfelt, in equal parts tragic and triumphant. It explains a lot about the forces that drove Sheri S. Tepper’s fiction:

When I was four, I was told by my grandmother, who was my main caregiver(?) that I had a baby brother. I said, innocently, “I’ll still be your grandbaby, won’t I Nana?” To which she replied, with great satisfaction, “I have a grandson now, I don’t need you girls anymore.” The girls referred to were my cousins and I. I have never forgotten it. This is my earliest memory. It was also my introduction to the worth of females in my world. In the family of grandparents, parents, uncles, a great aunt, later events were similar.

You can read the entire piece here; we heartily recommend it.

RIP Sheri S. Tepper (1929-2016)

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Gateway Essentials: George Zebrowski

24 October 2016

Continuing our efforts to provide entry point books for our many hundreds of authors, here’s an introduction to George Zebrowski . . .

George Zebrowski’s nearly forty books include novels, short fiction collections, anthologies, and a book of essays. Greg Bear calls him one of those rare speculators who bases his dreams on science as well as inspiration, and the late Terry Carr, one of the most influential science fiction editors of recent years, described him as an authority in the SF field. His substantial body of short fiction, articles and essays have appeared in Amazing Stories, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Science Fiction Age, Nature, the Bertrand Russell Society News, and many other publications.

So where does one start?  We recommend the Stapledonian epic Macrolife or Cave of Stars:

Macrolife
(1979)
Cave of Stars
(1999)

And you can find more of George Zebrowski’s’s books via his Author page on the Gateway website, and read more about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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Happy Birthday, Ursula K. Le Guin!

21 October 2016

One of modern literature’s greatest writers celebrates her birthday, today: one of the most lyrical, insightful, imaginative and important authors the SFF field has ever produced, a writer equally fêted by the literary establishment and the SFF community, a writer with complete mastery of SF, fantasy, historical, realist and children’s fiction: Ursula K. Le Guin.

Over a long and distinguished career, Ursula K. Le Guin has won five Hugo Awards, six Nebula Awards, two World Fantasy Awards and three James Tiptree, Jr Memorial Awards. She was the first author to win both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel twice – in 1970 for The Left Hand of Darkness and five years later for The Dispossessed. In 1995 she was given the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award, in 2001 was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and in 2003 was named a SFWA Grand Master. And, in a long-overdue accolade from the literary mainstream, she was awarded the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters – an honour created to recognize individuals who have made an exceptional impact on the United States’ literary heritage.

Her acceptance speech was a work of art, in itself:

There are many who feel that she’s also overdue a certain prize out of Stockholm. Count us in on that.

We are extremely proud to be Ursula K. Le Guin’s UK publisher and have a range of her titles available in print and eBook, with more to come.  There’s her selected stories . . .

. . . and some SF Masterworks . . .

. . . joining them, in March next year, is one of the all-time great SF novels: The Left Hand of Darkness.

And let’s not forget the magnificent Earthsea sequence . . .

Tehanu Tales From Earthsea The Other Wind

 

You can find details of available print titles at Ursula Le Guin’s page on the Orion website, explore her available eBooks on the SF Gateway and read more about the author in her entry at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Happy Birthday, Ursula Le Guin!

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Gateway Essentials: C L Moore

19 October 2016

‘A true pioneer’

Asimov’s Science Fiction

‘Helped revamp the formulae of space opera and heroic fantasy’

The Encyclopedia of Fantasy

‘A pure romantic whose science fantasies remain some of the most vivid and engaging of their kind. Jirel is arguably the first female protagonist in supernatural adventure fiction and she is certainly the most memorable’

Michael Moorcock

 

Who are these people talking about?  Who else but Catherine Lucille Moore.

One of the first women to rise to prominence in the male-dominated world of pulp science fiction, C L Moore was a mainstay of SF in the middle of the last century, moving with equal mastery between Sword & Sorcery and Planetary Romance.  Moore made her first professional sale to Weird Tales while still in her early 20s: the planetary romance Shambleau, which introduced one of her best-known heroes, Northwest Smith. She went on to produce a highly respected body of work, initially solo for Weird Tales and then, in collaboration with her husband, fellow SF writer Henry Kuttner, whom she married in 1940, for John W. Campbell‘s Astounding Science Fiction.

Moore ceased to write fiction after Kuttner’s death in 1958, concentrating instead on writing for television, where she produced scripts for many of the hit shows of the late ’50s/early ’60s such as Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip.

So, where do you begin to explore C L Moore’s work?  We’re glad you asked!  The Gateway Essentials were selected for just such a function . . .

 

You can find these Gateway Essentials and more of C L Moore’s work via her Author page on the Gateway wesbite and read about her in her entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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Real Life Scientists’ Favourite Science Fiction

18 October 2016

It is almost a trope of the genre that SF writers must spend part of every interview defending the ‘predictions’ SF has got wrong by pointing out (again and again and again …) that SF writers are not in the business of prophecy. Warning about a possible future? Yes. Shining a light on the present? Absolutely.  Predicting the future? No.

But one thing SF is most definitely responsible for is lighting the spark of scientific curiosity in many a young child, who then goes on to pursue a career as a scientist. Just like these people: 15 Real-Life Scientists Share Their Favorite Science Fiction Books, Movies.

SF might score low on predicting the future, but it scores very high on inspiring the people who make the future. And that is much cooler.

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Robert Silverberg’s Reflections: October 2016

17 October 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: ‘Magical Thinking’

Isaac Asimov, for whom this magazine was named and who was my predecessor as writer of this column (This column originally appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine and is reprinted here courtesy of the author – Ed.), was a totally rational man with no belief whatever in matters supernatural. That didn’t stop him from writing the occasional fantasy story or from editing a long series of anthologies with such titles as Devils, Ghosts, Spells,and Magical Wishes. But those were done for his private intellectual amusement, not out of any belief in such phenomena.

 

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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