Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Happy Birthday to Rachel Pollack!

17 August 2017

Today, Gateway wishes a very happy to birthday to SF writer, comic book writer and expert on divinatory tarot, Rachel Pollack, born in Brooklyn in 1945.

Highly regarded for her influence on the women’s spirituality movement and on women’s SF, Rachel Pollack is probably best-known to SF fans for her novel Unquenchable Fire, which won the 1989 Arthur C. Clarke Award, twenty-seven years ago – although comics fans might be more likely to recall her run on Doom Patrol for DC Comics from 1993-1995.

It is also just over forty-five years since her first published work: the story ‘Pandora’s Bust’ – using the pseudonym Richard A Pollack – in no less a journal than New Worlds Quarterly No. 2 (Sept, 1971), under the editorship of the legendary Michael Moorcock.

 

SF Masterworks paperback | Gateway eBook

 

You can find more of Rachel Pollack’s work via her Author page on the Gateway website and read about her in her entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

 

Happy Birthday, Rachel!

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On This Day: Hugo Gernsback

16 August 2017

On this day in 1884, one of the most influential figures in the history of science fiction, Hugo Gernsback,  was born.

How influential? Well, he launched the first fully-dedicated SF magazine, Amazing Stories, first coined the phrase ‘scientifiction‘, which later became the term we know and love; he appended ‘PhD’ to the end of a young Edwin Elmer Smith‘s by line to give us ‘Doc’ Smith, and the premier award of the science fiction field is named after him. Influential enough for ya?

His various SF magazines gave us ‘Doc’ Smith, Jack Williamson and Stanley Weinbaum, and it could be argued that he began the tradition – perhaps unique to the SF field – of the editor as curator and shaper of literature. Certainly, other fields have had their major editorial figures, but we’d argue that there is no lineage in any other area of fiction to match the likes of Gernsback, John W. Campbell, Donald Wollheim, Judith Merril, Michael Moorcock, Judy-Lynn del Rey, Damon Knight, Cele Goldsmith . . .

See what we mean? Happy Birthday, Hugo, and thanks for all the Amazing.

Posted in Anniversaries, Authors
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Gateway Essentials: Christopher Evans

9 August 2017

Born in Wales in 1951, Christopher Evans won the BSFA award in 1993 for his novel Aztec Century. In the 1980’s, he co-edited three Other Edens anthologies with Robert Holdstock, and as well as the science fiction published under his own name, he is the author of a number of well received books for younger readers under the pseudonym Nathan Elliott, and a handful of film novelisations. His recent work is the conspiracy thriller, Future Perfect, with Roy Kettle.

For those looking to explore Evans’ oeuvre, we recommend starting with The Insider or the BSFA Award-winner Aztec Century.

You can find more of Christopher Evans’ work via his Author page on the SF Gateway website, and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Posted in Authors, Essentials
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Robert Silverberg’s Reflections: August 2017

8 August 2017

 

 

‘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: ‘Sharing Worlds’

Science fiction writers are notoriously individualistic in their private lives, political positions, and professional demeanor. SF is a field richly populated with lone wolves, libertarians, bohemians, nonconformists of every stripe. They tend to think their own thoughts and go their own way. Some of them resist editorial tinkering with their work with bright purple ferocity and are usually unhappy in the fundamentally collaborative atmosphere of a place like Hollywood, where writers are (rightly) considered to be nothing more than members of a large team, and not very important members of that team at that.

How strange, then, that the concept of the ‘shared world’ anthology should have taken root so early in our field . . .

 

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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Happy Birthday to Phillip Mann!

7 August 2017

We’s like to wish a Happy Birthday to the very talented Phillip Mann, who turns 75 today!

Probably best known for his Land Fit for Heroes sequence, Phillip fell silent in the mid-90s, not publishing any new SF until 2013 when <ahem> Gollancz published his critically acclaimed The Disestablishment of Paradise, which was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

If you’d like to know more about Phillip and The Disestablishment of Paradise, you’re in luck! He wrote this fascinating piece about his career, books – and a potted history of Gollancz – for his blog, to celebrate publication.

 

Happy Birthday, Phillip!

 

You can find Phillip Mann’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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On This Day: A Traveller From an Antique Land

4 August 2017

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said— ‘Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’

 

Percy Bysshe Shelley (4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822)

Posted in Anniversaries, Authors
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Gateway Essentials: Doris Piserchia

3 August 2017

Doris Piserchia was born in 1928, in Fairmont, West Virginia, where she grew up as part of a large family. She attended Fairmont State College and worked as a lifeguard while earning a teacher’s degree in Physical Education. Upon graduating in 1950, Piserchia realised that she didn’t want to become a teacher and so instead joined the Navy, where she served for four years. It was during her time studying for a Master’s degree in educational psychology at the University of Utah that she discovered science fiction and began to write, although her works were not published until 1966, beginning with the humorous short story ‘Rocket to Gehenna’ in Fantastic. Despite her military experience, age, and preference for older SF, she is often associated with the New Wave, with her works being described as ‘darkly comic’ by admirers.

For those wanting to explore her work, we recommend starting with pell-mell SF quest novel Star Rider or trans-dimensional through-the-looking-glass adventure, Spaceling.

You can find more of Doris Piserchia’s 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, Essentials
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Something in the Water: Robert Holdstock and Ken MacLeod

2 August 2017

What are the odds of two of Britain’s finest voices in modern speculative fiction being born on the same day?** There must have been sometihng in the water . . .

Today is the birthday or two writers very close to Gateway’s heart: the one who is, sadly, no longer with us is with us, and the one who isn’t with us, we’re pleased to say, is still very much with us. Or, to be slightly less cryptic . . .

Happy Birthday to Ken MacLeod: gentleman, scholar and SF writer par excellence. Although we are not fortunate enough to publish his books on SF Gateway, we are lucky enough to have him contributing his trademark wit and insight to some introductions for our SF Masterworks series. Ken is a three-times winner of the BSFA and Prometheus Awards, and how neither he nor old friend and fellow Edinburgher Iain M. Banks has ever won the Arthur C. Clarke Award is, frankly, a mystery.

And today also marks the birthday of the late, great Robert Holdstock, twice winner of the World Fantasy Award, four-times winner of the BSFA Award, and undisputed master of the wildwood. Rob’s books are published on the SF Gateway, and although we’re delighted to be his publisher, we’d give them up in a heartbeat to still have him with us.

 

 

You can find Robert Holdstock‘s books at his author page on the SF Gateway and read about him at his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Ken MacLeod‘s books can be found here, you can follow him on Twitter at @amendlocke, and read more about him at his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. He has written introductions to A Canticle for Leibowitz, The Gods Themselves, The Deep, Double StarHalf Past Human, The Godwhale, A Case of Conscience, Stand on Zanzibar, The Word for World is Forest, Hard to be a God, Nova, A Fire Upon the Deep, Feersum Endjinn, The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Chrysalids – with, we hope, more to come!

 

** Please note this is a rhetorical device. However, if you really feel the urge to do the maths, we’d certainly be interested in knowing the odds!

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Masterworks Spotlight: The Doomed City

31 July 2017

One of the great pleasures of working in publishing is seeing books that deserve to do well . . . do well! That might sound a strange thing to say, but sadly, it’s not always the case that quality will out – especially with translated fiction.

Happily, in the case of the late Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, British readers seem to be happy to explore the strange worlds and unique worldview of these superstars of Soviet SF.  So, having enjoyed Roadside Picnic (the basis for Tarkovsky’s much-admired film Stalker – and soon to be a television series), Hard to be a God and Monday Starts on Saturday, we hope you’ll be as delighted as we are by the publication of The Doomed City, a novel so incendiary that it could not be published until the freedom of perestroika came to the USSR.

It is a mysterious city whose sun is switched on in the morning and switched off at night, bordered by an abyss on one side and an impossibly high wall on the other. Its inhabitants are people who were plucked from twentieth-century history at various times and places and left to govern themselves, advised by Mentors whose purpose seems inscrutable. This is life in the Experiment.

Andrei Voronin, a young astronomer plucked from Leningrad in the 1950s, is a die-hard believer in the Experiment, even though his first job in the city is as a garbage collector. As increasinbly nightmarish scenarios begin to affect the city, he rises through the political hierarchy, with devastating effect.

 

The Doomed City is available as an SF Masterworks paperback and an SF Gateway eBook.

 

You can find more of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s work via their Author pages on the SF Gateway website, and read about them in their entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

 

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Gateway Essentials: Robert Silverberg

28 July 2017

Born in Brooklyn in 1935, Robert Silverberg has been a professional writer since the age og nineteen, widely known for his science fiction and fantasy stories. He is a many-time winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, was named to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2004 was designated as a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America. His books and stories have been translated into forty languages. Among his best known titles are Nightwings, Dying Inside, The Book Of Skulls, and the three volumes of the Majipoor Cycle: Lord Valentine’s Castle, Majipoor Chronicles and Valentine Pontifex. His collected short stories, covering nearly sixty years of work, is published in nine volumes by SF Gateway.

Those are the dry facts, but a writer as important as Robert Silverberg deserves a bit more praise, we can’t help but think. So, how about this: for about half a dozen years, from 1967 to 1973, Robert Silverberg was probably the best science fiction writer in the world. For supporting evidence, we offer the following:

1967
Thorns – shortlisted for the 1968 Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel
Hawksbill Station’ – shortlisted for the 1968 Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novella

1968
The Masks of Time – shortlisted for the 1969 Nebula Award for best novel
Nightwings’ – winner of the 1969 Hugo Award for best novella; shortlisted for the 1969 Nebula Award for best novella
‘Passengers’ – shortlisted for the 1970 Hugo Award for best short story; winner of the 1970 Nebula Award for best short story (available in To the Dark Star: The Collected Stories Vol 2)

1969
Up The Line – shortlisted for the 1970 Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel
‘To Jorslem’ – shortlisted for the 1970 Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novella (available in Nightwings)

1970
Tower of Glass – shortlisted for the 1971 Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel
‘The World Outside’ – shortlisted for the 1971 Hugo Award for best novella

1971
A Time of Changes – shortlisted for the 1972 Hugo Award for best novel; winner of the 1972 Nebula Award for best novel
The World Inside – shortlisted for the 1972 Hugo Award for best novel but subsequently withdrawn
‘Good News from the Vatican’ – winner of the 1972 Nebula Award for best short story (available in Phases of the Moon)

1972
The Book of Skulls – shortlisted for the 1973 Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel
Dying Inside – shortlisted for the 1973 Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel
‘When We Went to See the End of the World – shortlisted for the 1973 Hugo and Nebula Awards for best short story

So . . . wow.  To paraphrase Sir Christopher Wren’s inscription in St Paul’s: ‘Reader, if you seek a starting point, look around you’.

You can find more of Robert Silverberg’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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