Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Happy Birthday, Doris Lessing!

22 October 2012

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we need to thank our friends at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, once again, for their excellent On This Day feature. Thanks to the magic of this sufficiently advanced technology, we can see at a glance the various anniversaries occurring on any given day.

And the name that leaps out at us, today, is that of the 2007 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Doris Lessing. It is, I’m sure, hugely appreciated by all genre readers to have a writer of Ms Lessing’s standing and quality state uncategorically that she is writing science fiction – unlike some other people we could name (although that would obviously overstep diplomacy).

So: Happy Birthday, Ms Lessing! Thank you for your works and for your unashamed – indeed, proud –  championing of science fiction.

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SF Gateway Editors’ Choice: The Shadow of the Torturer

19 October 2012

 

The SF Gateway Editors’ Choice this week is The Shadow of the Torturer, the first volume of Gene Wolfe‘s extraordinary Book of the New Sun sequence. The Shadow of the Torturer won the World Fantasy Award in 1981 and the BSFA Award the year after, and the subsequent volumes (The Claw of the Conciliator, The Sword of the Lictor, The Citadel of the Autarch and coda The Urth of the New Sun) between them won the Nebula, Campbell and British Fantasy Awards, among others.

 

Set in a VancianDying Earth‘ milieu, The Book of the New Sun charts the extraordinary life of the young man Severian from torturers’ apprentice to . . . but that would be telling. The destination is extraordinary but the journey itself no less so; read it and you’ll see what we mean.

Chosen by readers as one of the best five fantasies published by Gollancz over its 50-year history as a regular SF publisher, The Book of the New Sun is, in our opinion, essential reading for anyone serious about modern genre fiction. But don’t just take our word for it – ask Alastair Reynolds.

 

 

 

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SF Gateway Author of the Week: Pat Cadigan

18 October 2012

 

Our Author of the Week this week is the wonderful Pat Cadigan.

 

Pat has twice won the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award: in 1992 for Synners, which has recently been republished in Gollancz‘s SF Masterworks list, and then again in 1995 for Fools.  She has also been shortlisted multiple times for the Hugo, Nebula, Philip K. Dick, BSFA, World Fantasy and Theodore Sturgeon Awards, among many others. Her work has been praised by such luminaries as Neil Gaiman, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, and fellow Arthur C. Clarke Award-winner Paul McAuley wrote an astute review of Fools on this very blog.

Most SF writers will tell you that they’re not trying to predict the future; indeed, science fiction, it is widely agreed, is not about the future at all -nor is it about other worlds, it is about the world the author saw while she was writing the book. But every now and again a book comes along that seems to have an uncanny insight into what is to come.

 

With Synners, Pat Cadigan has written such a book.  What was cutting-edge cyberpunk when it was first published now looks suspiciously like a blueprint for the future we find rushng towards us. Or, as Lisa Tuttle says in her introduction: ‘Read Synners now, before it happens.’

 

Most of Pat Cadigan’s fiction is available in digital form from SF Gateway. You can find out more about Pat from her entry in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, and follow her on Twitter.

 

You can read an extract from Synners here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Joe Abercrombie on Fritz Leiber

17 October 2012

So, you may have noticed a certain amount of Joe Abercrombie-ish activity over at our sister imprint, Gollancz. Quite understandable given that Joe’s destined-to-be-bestselling new novel, Red Country is published tomorrow.  But while our colleagues are proclaiming (quite rightly) the muscular virtues of his new book, we thought we’d take a moment to remind people that Joe Abercrombie isn’t just the author of hugely entertaining, gritty fantasies – he’s also a pretty fine judge of classic SF&F.

So, here’s a blast from the (admittedly pretty recent) past: Joe Abercrombie discussing the appeal of Fritz Leiber‘s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories.  And as an added bonus, which will cost you nothing but a couple of minutes of your time, you can also see Alastair Reynolds on Algis Budrys‘s Rogue Moon, Justina Robson on Lavondyss, Robert Holdstock‘s haunting follow-up to Mythago Wood, and Peter F. Hamilton on Robert Silverberg‘s extraordinary Lord Valentine’s Castle.

Enjoy.

 

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Science Fiction: Rumours of its Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

16 October 2012

About a month ago, eminent critic and former Arthur C. Clarke Award administrator, Paul Kincaid, wrote this review of various ‘Year’s Best SF’ collections in the Los Angeles Times. It’s fair to say he provoked a certain amount of conversation in response.

Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe, for example, discussed the review at length in their excellent (and highly recommended) The Coode Street Podcast, and then had Paul as a guest the next week. And just recently, two of the UK’s outstanding hard SF writers – Paul McAuley and Alastair Reynolds – have also offered their takes on the matter. Here’s Alastair Reynolds’ response to the question; and here’s Paul McAuley’s. Both posts are worth reading – as, indeed, are the authors’ novels.

It seems to me that this is a conversation SF has been having at least since the New Wave (probably longer) and, at the risk of appearing both naive and complacent, I’d say that our very ability to ask such questions of ourselves is perhaps indicative of a genre that is not so much exhausted as simply taking a breather before the next leg of the journey.

Science fiction. In rude health and admirably self-aware? Or a genre in crisis? What do you think?

 

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On This Day: E. C. Tubb (1919 – 2010)

15 October 2012

Another gem of SF did-you-know, courtesy of our friends at the Hugo Award-winning Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: on this day, in 1919, Edwin Charles Tubb was born.

Author of over 100 novels, including the 33-volume Dumarest Saga, E.C. Tubb was a stalwart of post-war British SF, a founder member of the British Science Fiction Association and the first editor of Vector,  the critical journal of the BSFA.

E. C. Tubb was among the very first authors signed by SF Gateway and we’re delighted to be able to make his work available once more.

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SF Gateway Friday Limerick

12 October 2012

As it’s Friday, the weekend is beckoning and the sun is even shining (at least it is at Gollancz Towers), we thought it was time to have a little fun. And what’s more fun than a limerick?

Therefore, in keeping with our focus on classic science fiction, SF Gateway offers up the following assessment of where yesterday’s future went wrong . . .

We once thought we’d have bases on Mars,
And then move on to conquer the stars,
With great dreams we were blessed,
But now we’re obsessed,
With big houses, smart phones and flash cars.

Our work here is finished.  Surely it’s now just a matter of waiting for the call from Stockholm offering us the Nobel Prize for Literature. Meanwhile, please feel free to leave your own SF limericks in the comments to this post or in the Forum page on the SF Gateway website – N.B. requires (free) log-in to post.

Happy Friday!

 

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New SF Masterworks in Print and Digital

11 October 2012

Today is publication day for two new SF Masterworks: Frankenstein and The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe.

 

Widely regarded as the first true work of science fiction, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s 1818 classic, Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus, is quite simply one of the most famous novels in literary history. Filmed countless times, featuring countless actors – from Boris Karloff to Robert De Niro – it is a classic warning tale of the dangers of science run amok. The SF Masterworks edition (eBook)  contains a fascinating introduction and notes by acclaimed author and critic Adam Roberts.

 

 

The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, as noted yesterday, is a modern classic of British SF and was filmed in 1980 as Death Watch, recently digitally remastered and re-released.  First published in 1974, D.G. Compton’s The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe tells of a different kind of horror – the voyeuristic intrusion of reality television into modern culture; a phenomenon Compton foresaw decades before the likes of The Truman Show.

 

 

Two very different books but alike in at least one respect: they’re both perfect reading for a dark and wet October day . . .

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Death Watch And The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe

10 October 2012

 

The 1980 film, Death Watch, directed by Bertrand Tavernier and starring, among others, a young Harvey Keitel,  was re-released in the UK in June this year, in a digitally restored print.  The re-release garnered many positive reviews from the likes of The Guardian, The Irish Times and Cine-Vue, with critics proclaiming it intriguing, compelling, prescient and ‘an oft-forgotten cult masterpiece’.

We draw your attention to this because Deathwatch is based on the seminal SF novel The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (published in the US as The Unsleeping Eye) by D.G. Compton, which is published tomorrow as an SF Gateway eBook and an SF Masterworks paperback.

 

A few years in the future, medical science has advanced to the point where it is practically unheard of for people to die of any cause except old age. The few exceptions provide the fodder for a new kind of television show for avid audiences who lap up the experience of watching someone else’s dying weeks. So when Katherine Mortenhoe is told that she has about four weeks to live she knows it’s not just her life she’s about to lose, but her privacy as well.

D.G. Compton was nominated for the Nebula Award for his 1970 novel, The Steel Crocodile, and was awarded the Author Emeritus honour by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, in 2006. His books, out of print for too long, are now available again from the SF Gateway.

 

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Scheduled Downtime

6 October 2012

A final reminder that the SF Gateway and Encyclopedia of Science Fiction websites will be down tomorrow, Sunday 7th October, for essential server maintenance, between approximately 9:00am and 6:00 pm British Summer Time (that’s GMT+1).

We apologise for the inconvenience but remind you that this will not affect access to SF Gateway eBooks, which will still be available from all the usual retail outlets.

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