Thoughts from the SF Gateway

On This Day: Richard Evans

26 May 2017

Twenty-one years ago today, former Gollancz editor and founder of Orbit, Richard Evans passed away. From The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction:

(1950-1996) UK sf editor for various London publishers: Futura – where he launched the Orbit sf imprint – in the 1970s, Hutchinson/Arrow until 1983, and finally Gollancz, where he remained a senior editor until his death. At Arrow he edited, anonymously, two sf anthologies for the children’s imprint Sparrow: Peter Davison’s Book of Alien Monsters (anth 1982) and Peter Davison’s Book of Alien Planets (anth 1983). The stories were supposedly chosen by Peter Davison, then playing the fifth Doctor Who, whose name is the only connection with the television series. Each book includes a story by Evans himself under the pseudonym Stephen David. Evans received a special World Fantasy Award in 1996 for his editorial work.

As a short-term memorial, the juried Richard Evans Award was inaugurated in 1999 to honour established and active authors whose critical acclaim outstrips their commercial success: this was presented to M John Harrison in 1999, Gwyneth Jones in 2001 and Pat Cadigan in 2006.

Posted in Anniversaries
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On This Day: Garrett P. Serviss Died

25 May 2017

Garrett Putman Serviss was an American astronomer and early science fiction writer. He was born in upstate New York in 1851 and majored in science at Cornell University. He also studied law at Columbia University although he never worked as an attorney, instead becoming a journalist for The New York Sun in 1876. At the end of 1897, Serviss was commissioned to write an unofficial sequel to an equally unofficial 1897 revision of H. G. WellsThe War of the Worlds which set the action in America. Edison’s Conquest of Mars first appeared in the New York Evening Journal as ‘The Conquest of Mars’.  He died on this day in 1929.

 
You can find more of Garrett P Serviss’s works 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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Title Spotlight: Dreaming In Smoke

24 May 2017

We thought we’d take the opportunity to celebrate the presence of Tricia Sullivan’s awesome Occupy Me on the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist, by reminding you that this is not Tricia’s first rodeo!  She was shortlisted in 2011 for Lightborn and 2004 for Maul, and in 1999, the year widely-but-incorrectly referred to as the last year of the 20th century (don’t get me started!), she won with her third novel, Dreaming in Smoke:

Kalypso Deed is a shotgun, riding the interface between the AI Ganesh and human scientists who solve problems through cyber-assisted Dreams. But she’s young and a little careless; she’d rather mix drinks and play jazz. Azamat Marcsson is a colourless statistician: middle-aged, boring, and obsessed with micro-organisms. A first-class nonentity – until one of his Dreams implodes, taking Kalypso with it.

Now Ganesh is crashing, and nothing could be worse. For on the planet T’nane, it is the AI alone that keeps the colonists alive, eking out a grim existence in an environment inimical to human life. To save the colony, Kalypso must persuade Marcsson to finish the Dream that is destroying Ganesh. But Marcsson has gone mad, and T’nane itself has plans for them both that will alter their minds – and their world – for ever.

 

If you’re looking for Tricia Sullivan’s past shortlisted (or victorious!) novels Maul, and Dreaming in Smoke are available as Gateway eBooks, and Lightborn is published by our good friends at Orbit. And if you’d like to be prepared ahead of the 2017 ceremony, Occupy Me is available from Gollancz as a paperback, eBook and audio download.

 

You can find more of Tricia Sullivans work via her Author page on the SF Gateway website and read about her in her entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Posted in Authors, Awards, Essentials
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Gateway Essentials: Theodore Sturgeon

22 May 2017

Theodore Sturgeon was born Edward Hamilton Waldo in New York City in 1918. Sturgeon was not a pseudonym; his name was legally changed after his parents’ divorce. After selling his first SF story to Astounding in 1939, he travelled for some years, only returning in earnest in 1946. 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 More Than Human, which was awarded the 1954 retro-Hugo in 2004. In addition to coining Sturgeon’s Law – ‘90% of everything is crud’ – he wrote the screenplays for seminal Star Trek episodes ‘Shore Leave’ and ‘Amok Time’, inventing the famous Vulcan mating ritual, the pon farr.

Under normal circumstances, we’d unhesitatingly recommend starting with an author’s SF Masterworks titles – in this case, More Than Human:

SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook

 

However, given Sturgeon’s incredible body of high-quality short fiction, you might be better off starting with volume one of his Complete Stories, The Ultimate Egoist, and then going back to More Than Human before continuing with novels The Dreaming Jewels and Venus Plus X:

You can find more of Theodore Sturgeon’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.

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Gateway Essentials: Colin Greenland

17 May 2017

Colin Greenland was born in Dover, Kent, on this day in 1954, and educated at Oxford,  is the author of a number of acclaimed science fiction and fantasy novels, including the BSFA and Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning Take Back Plenty. He has contributed short stories to many anthologies and magazines as well as reviews of new fiction for the Guardian, Independent, and many other publications. He has also had stories broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Colin Greenland’s first published book was a revised version of his PhD thesis – The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the UK “New Wave” (1983) – and his forst published novel was 1984’s Daybreak on a Different Mountain. He served as Reviews Editor of Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction from 1990 to 1995, and was one of thefounding editors of the influential British SF magazine Interzone.

We recommend starting with his SF Masterwork, Take Back Plenty, which (as we state above) won the BSFA and Arthur C. Clarke Awards – beating fields that contained such luminaries as Iain M. Banks, Mary Gentle, Pat Murphy, Dan Simmons and William Gibson & Bruce Sterling.

SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook

And once you finish Take Back Plenty and find yourself thirsty for more, we suggest moving on to the Gateway Essentials:

 
You can find more of Colin Greenland’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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Masterworks Spotlight: Neuromancer

16 May 2017

Loyal readers of Gateway’s cornucopia of classic science fiction will know by now that relavtively recently we added Wiliam Gibson’s Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel Neuromancer to our list. After all, we have written about it several times.

So, you don’t need telling that we released Neuromancer in eBook in August last year, or that we published a mass market paperback (with an absolutely stunning cover, if we do say so ourselves) in November. But what you might not know is that as of this month, the book that pushed Cyberpunk into the limelight takes its rightful place as an SF Masterwork!

The Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel that defined the Cyberpunk movement.

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

William Gibson revolutionised science fiction in his 1984 debut Neuromancer. The writer who gave us the matrix and coined the term ‘cyberspace’ produced a first novel that won the Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick Awards, and lit the fuse on the Cyberpunk movement.

More than three decades later, Gibson’s text is as stylish as ever, his noir narrative still glitters like chrome in the shadows and his depictions of the rise and abuse of corporate power look more prescient every day. Part thriller, part warning, Neuromancer is a timeless classic of modern SF and one of the 20th century’s most potent and compelling visions of the future.

 

Neuromancer is available as an eBook, a Gollancz paperback and – hurrah! – an SF Masterworks hardback!

 

You can find more of William Gibson’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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Title Spotlight: The Unreal and the Real Vol 2

12 May 2017

And now: the finale to our Ursula K. Le Guin celebration comes with a collection containing some of the finest SFF short stories of all time . . .

The Unreal and the Real is a two-volume collection of stories, selected by Ursula Le Guin herself, and spans the spectrum of fiction from realism through magical realism, satire, science fiction, surrealism and fantasy.

Volume Two, Outer Space, Inner Lands, showcases Le Guin’s acclaimed stories of the fantastic, originally appearing in publications as varied as Amazing Stories, Playboy, the New Yorker and Omni, and contains 20 stories, including modern classics such as the Hugo Award-winning ‘The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas’, Nebula-nominee ‘Nine Lives’; James Tiptree, Jr Memorial Award-winner (and Hugo and Nebula-nominee) ‘The Matter of Seggri’; Nebula Award-winner ‘Solitude’; and the secret history ‘Sur’, which was nominated for the Hugo Award and included in The Best American Short Stories.

It is available as a Gollancz paperback and an SF Gateway eBook and is, like the first volume, well worth your attention.

You can find more of Ursula K. LeGuin’s 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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Title Spotlight: The Unreal and the Real Vol 1

11 May 2017

Well, it’s been a wonderful ride, but we’re now just about ready to wrap up our month-long celebration of the work of Ursula K. Le Guin. And what better way to do so than with the author’s own favourites . . .

The Unreal and the Real is a two-volume collection of stories, selected by Ursula Le Guin herself, and spans the spectrum of fiction from realism through magical realism, satire, science fiction, surrealism and fantasy.

Volume One, Where on Earth, focuses on Le Guin’s interest in realism and magical realism and includes 18 of her satirical, political and experimental earthbound stories. Highlights include World Fantasy and Hugo Award-winner ‘Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight’, the rarely reprinted satirical short, ‘The Lost Children’, Jupiter Award-winner, ‘The Diary of the Rose’ and the title story of her Pulitzer Prize finalist collection ‘Unlocking the Air’.

It is available as a Gollancz paperback and an SF Gateway eBook and is, needless to say, well worth your attention.

You can find more of Ursula K. LeGuin’s 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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Gateway Essentials: Olaf Stapledon

10 May 2017

Olaf Stapledon was born near Liverpool on this day in 1886, and educated at Balliol College, Oxford and Liverpool University. After spending eighteen months working in a shipping office in Liverpool and Port Said, he lectured extramurally for Liverpool University in English Literature and industrial history. He served in France from 1915 until 1919 with the Friends’ Ambulance Unit and then lectured again for Liverpool University in psychology and philosophy.

Stapledon’s novels tend to be characterised by their epic scale – his first novel, Last and First Men, covers a timescale of two billion years. His influence in this regard can be seen in the transcendant works or Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter to name but two. Indeed, no less an authority than The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction states that:

his influence, both direct and indirect, on the development of many concepts which now permeate genre sf is probably second only to that of H G Wells

If you’re looking to explore the Stapledonian majesty of his work, the best pace to start is with the four SF Masterworks: First and Last Men, Star Maker, Odd John and Sirius.

And when you’ve returnd to Earth from your cosmic journeys, be sure to look up the sequel to the extraordinary Last and First Men: Last Men in London.

You can find more of Olaf Stapledon’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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Gateway Essentials: Richard M. McKenna

9 May 2017

Richard Milton McKenna was born in Idaho on this day in 1913. He left his rural roots in search of bigger opportunities and joined the US Navy in 1931. This is where he spent most of his adult life, serving 22 years, including 10 years of active duty at sea. Serving in the Second World War and the Korean War, McKenna then retired to a civilian life and studied creative writing at the University of North Carolina. His first story was ‘The Fishdollar Affair’, but his first published story was ‘Casey Agonistes’ for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in September 1958. During his lifetime he was to publish only five more stories, with a further six appearing posthumously. The five strongest were published as a collection in 1973 under the title Casey Agonistes and other Fantasy and Science Fiction Stories, with the central theme being the power of the mind over the environment. His major work was the successful non-SF title The Sand Pebbles, inspired by his experiences in the Navy, and he died soon after writing it.

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