Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Happy Birthday, Walter Koenig!

14 September 2017

Today, Gateway wishes a very happy birthday to everyone’s favourite Russian helmsman, Pavel Chekov – or, more to the point, the actor who brought him to life on the big screen and small, across five decades: Walter Koenig.

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was keen to add a younger face to his bridge crew, allegedly to take advantage of the popularity of The Beatles and The Monkees, at the time – indeed, it’s said that Walter Koenig won the role because of his resemblance to Monkees front man, Davey Jones. Ironically, Koenig was thirty at the time, with hair already beginning to recede and so a ‘moptop’ style hairpiece was developed for him.

Adding a Russian to the bridge crew of the USS Enterprise was an audacious move at the height of the Cold War, but Rodenberry’s insistence on emphasising the international (indeed, interplanetary) nature of the crew proved to be a masterstroke, and no doubt contributed to Star Trek‘s enduring popularity.

Like all of his USS Enterprise alumni, Koenig will for ever be identified with his Star Trek character, but he has had a long and productive career as actor, writer, director and producer, including roles in Babylon 5, Futurama, Columbo and Ironside, to name but a few.

Walter Koenig turns 81, today, but to millions of SF fans around the world, he will always be the young, wide-eyed Ensign Pavel Chekov.

Posted in Anniversaries, Films, TV
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When I’m 64: The Hugo Awards

6 September 2017

According to the inexhaustible fount of knowledge that is The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, the venerable Hugo Awards were first presented sixty-four years ago, today, at at Philcon II (the second Philadelphia Worldcon).

The Guest of Honour was Willy Ley and a young fellow by the name of Isaac Asimov was the toastmaster. The inaugural Best Novel Hugo went to Alfred Bester for his extraordinary first novel, The Demolished Man.

The Demolished Man

The inaugural Hugos were a lot more streamlined than they are today, with just seven awards being given out. In addition to Best Novel, Hugos were awarded for the Best Professional Magazine (a tie between John W. Campbell‘s Astounding and H. L. Gold‘s Galaxy), Best Interior Artist (Virgil Finlay), Best Cover Artist (a tie between Ed Emshwiller and Hannes Bok), Best New Author or Artist (Philip José Farmer), Excellence in Fact Articles (won by GoH Willy Ley) and #1 Fan Personality, which was won by the inimitable (and, perhaps, inevitable!) Forrest J. Ackerman.

Inaugural Hugo-winner The Demolished Man is, of course, available as an SF Masterwork. We’ve noted before that Gollancz and Gateway have a proud record as far as the Hugo Awards go, and you can find that record here.

 

Happy Birthday, little rocket ship!

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Gateway Essentials: Samuel R. Delany

25 August 2017

Samuel Ray ‘Chip’ Delany, Jr was born in Harlem in 1942, and published his first novel at the age of just 20. As author, critic and academic, his influence on the modern genre has been profound and he remains one of science fiction’s most important and discussed writers. He has won the Hugo Award twice and the Nebula Award four times, including consecutive wins for Babel-17 and The Einstein Intersection.  He has recently retired as professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he had been Director of the Graduate Creative Writing Program since January 2001.

Those wishing to explore Delany’s extraordinary body of work are advised to start with his SF Masterworks:

 

. . . and then move on to his Gateway Essentials titles: The Jewels of Aptor, The Einstein Intersection, Tales of Neveryon, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand and Aye, and Gomorrah.

 
You can find more of Samuel R. Delany’s works via his Author page at the SF Gateway website and read more about him in his  entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.
 

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Brian W Aldiss: an Appreciation by Malcolm Edwards

24 August 2017

I first met Brian Aldiss in 1969, when I was still an undergraduate.  He’d come to give a talk at my university.  I was travelling down to London the next day, and spotted him on the station platform.  After the talk he had gone off to stay with Kingsley Amis, and a long evening ensued.  I’m sure the last thing he wanted that morning was to be accosted by an enthusiastic young student, but — being Brian — he was welcoming, and we travelled together.  By the time we reached London he had promised me a short story — commissioned by the TLS but then rejected — for an amateur magazine I was planning.  Two days later, the story arrived.  Two days after that, came a follow up letter:  Had I received it?  What did I think of it?  Over the years I came to see this whole episode as typical of Brian:  hugely welcoming, enormously generous, but with a smidgen of writerly insecurity.

Flash forward twenty years.  I had become Brian’s editor at Gollancz, initially for the greatly expanded second edition of his definitive history of science fiction, Trillion Year Spree, and then for his fine autobiographical novel Forgotten Life.  I sent out proofs of the latter to writers I thought might appreciate it, and almost by return appreciative quotes came in from William Boyd, Anthony Burgess, Iris Murdoch, William Trevor.  It was clear that he was a writer greatly admired beyond the realm of SF, with which he was inevitably identified, being its most prominent British practitioner.

For his 65th birthday, in 1990, Frank Hatherley (a BBC producer who had become Brian’s film and TV agent), Margaret Aldiss and I put together a festschrift, A Is For Brian, to be sprung on him as a surprise present.  We sent out 43 invitations and got back 38 contributions, an unbelievable hit rate.  I’ve been looking through it this morning.  Contributor after contributor, in addition to admiring the range and accomplishment of his work, attests to his enormous joie de vivre. Doris Lessing writes about an on stage conversation she attended between Brian and fellow writer Robert Silverberg at a conference in Florida:  “I didn’t want to miss a single word.  I didn’t want it to end.”  Kingsley Amis says:  “I think he is the only man I know whom I admire and respect both as a writer and a toper.”

I’ve deliberately concentrated here on writers not particularly associated with SF.  But in that world he was a colossus: arguably the greatest British writer since H.G. Wells.  And for more than sixty years he was the life and soul of the party.  Everyone who spent time with him came away with great memories and an anecdote or two.  He was – and I don’t say this lightly – a great man.

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Gateway Essentials: Lucius Shepard

23 August 2017

Lucius Taylor Shepard was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1947. He travelled extensively in his youth, and has held a wide assortment of occupations in the United States, Europe, Southeast Asia and Latin America, including rock musician and night club bouncer. He attended the Clarion Writers’ Workshop in 1980 and made his first commercial sale a year later. His work covers many areas of fantastic fiction and has recently encompassed non-fiction, as well. For over a decade, he has contributed a regular column on SF cinema for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Lucius Shepard has won numerous prizes for his work, including the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon and International Horror Guild awards. He died in Portland, Oregon, in 2014.

We recommend that readers wanting an introduction to Lucius Shpeard’s work start with his Fantasy and SF Masterworks, The Dragon Griaule and Life During Wartime:

or his story collection The Jaguar Hunter:

You can find more of Lucius Shepard’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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Brian Aldiss 1925 – 2017

22 August 2017

Last Friday we posted an appreciation of Brian Aldiss on the day of his 92nd birthday. Yesterday we learned that he had died the very next day.  All at Gollancz and SF Gateway are saddened by his passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.

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Happy Birthday to Brian Aldiss!

18 August 2017

Two Hugo Awards, one Nebula Award, five BSFA Awards, a John W. Campbell Memorial Award.
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame living inductee.
SFWA Grand Master.
The IAFA Award for distinguished scholarship.
World Fantasy Special Award.
The Prix Utopia Award for lifetime achievement.
Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Author of the most widely-respected, critically acclaimed history of SF.
Writer of the short story behind Steven Spielberg‘s AI: Artificial Intelligence.

 

Not a bad CV, by anyone’s standards, but those are only selected highlights from the glittering career of the great Brian W. Aldiss, who turns ninety-two today.

Brian Aldiss’s extraordinary body of work, stretching back some sixty years, encompasses a wide range of writing, from the fantastic to the literary, via non-fiction and poetry. He was an important figure in SF’s New Wave and stands alongside fellow Britons Michael Moorcock and J G Ballard as writers accepted and praised equally by the genre and literary worlds.

We are lucky enough to publish three of his books in the SF Masterworks series: Non-Stop, Greybeard and the epic Helliconia trilogy. We recommend them all.

 

 

And if that wasn’t enough, we’re delighted to announce the acquisition of Cryptozoic as an SF Masterwork, and eBook rights to five further titles: Barefoot in the Head, The Dark Light Years, Earthworks, The Shape of Further Things: Speculations on Change and Galaxies Like Grains of Sand.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Brian!

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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.

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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.

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