Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Happy Birthday, Robert E. Howard

22 January 2013

Robert Ervin Howard was born 22nd January, 1906. Although a published writer for little more than a decade, his influence on the sword & sorcery genre is enormous. He was the creator of a bewildering array of pulp heroes including the puritan adventurer Solomon Kane, the Pictish king Bran Mac Morn, Celtic chieftain Cormac Mac Art, King Kull of Atlantis and, of course, the barbarian warrior in whose shadow all barbarian warriors have since walked: Conan the Cimmerian.

Like fellow-pulp writer Edgar Rice BurroughsTarzan, Howard’s Conan has spawned a huge number of pale imitations, but it is a mark of the enduring appeal of the character that these imposters are quickly forgotten – if they’re even noticed in the first place – while Conan continues to exert a hold over popular culture some eighty years after he first appeared in Weird Tales.

Read more…

Posted in Authors, SFE
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21 January 2013

I beg your pardon. Are you accusing us of a club-fisted David Bowie reference in a shameless attempt to attract traffic and move ourselves up the search results? We’ve never been so insulted in all our life . . . but in the words of one Bilbo Baggins of Hobbiton (via New Zealand): ‘Fair enough.’

However, we assure you, this news is worth the eyeballs! Some changes are coming to the SF Gateway website in terms of the way we  draw attention to titles and authors, using our four spotlight fields:

Read more…

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Jack Vance on the Sofa

17 January 2013

This week’s offering from excellent SF audio podcast StarShipSofa includes the first part of ‘The Moon Moth’ by Jack Vance. StarShipSofa productions are always professional and engaging and are an ideal opportunity to sample the short fiction of a new author, or hear a fresh take on an old favourite. We heartily recommend them as an essential podcast on any SF fan’s iPod.

And, of course, we’d be very remiss if we didn’t mention that The Moon Moth and Other Stories is available as an eBook from SF Gateway, as are many of Jack Vance‘s other titles, all of which are based on the Vance Integral Editions.

Posted in Authors
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Updated Gateway Schedule

15 January 2013

And lo! The people spake unto the SF Gateway and said: ‘Oy! Didn’t you promise to update the downloadable schedule every month?!’

And the SF Gateway was troubled, for truly it had promised exactly that.

And then the SF Gateway said unto the people: ‘ . . . Yeah, fair enough. Hold on a sec.’

And there was the sound of great thunder and fury (which, to the untrained ear, bore an uncanny resemblance to the clacking of fingers on a keyboard. But really wasn’t.) and eventually the SF Gateway returned and said, in a voice both mighty and puissant: ‘There you go. All up-to-date, now.’

And the people were happy, and the SF Gateway wrote in words of fire in the sky (which, again, to the uninitiated, looked remarkably like upper case letters in a red font):



Here endeth the update.


Posted in Housekeeping
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The Kraken Wakes John Wyndham

11 January 2013

It’s been a while since we’ve had any levity on the blog, and since today is the end of the first full working week of the year, I think we all deserve a moment of light-heartedness to celebrate.

This is a game we learned about at the Jersey Eastercon in 2002, whereby you take the title and author of a book and run them together to make a sentence, thus: John Wyndham‘s The Kraken Wakes becomes ‘The kraken wakes John Wyndham’.

Here are a few of our favourites:

I have no mouth and I must scream ‘Harlan Ellison!’
Tales of the unexpected Roald Dahl
Spin Robert Charles Wilson
Land of the headless Adam Roberts
Where late the sweet birds sang ‘Kate Wilhelm’
Camouflage Joe Haldeman
The sheep look up John Brunner


Well, it amuses us.


Posted in Whimsy
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January New Releases

10 January 2013

Today, the SF Gateway blog is mostly being functional and informative. We thought you might like to know what’s coming up this month by way of SF Gateway eBooks (and if you don’t . . . then why are you here?).


Firstly – published today, as a matter of fact – are Colin Greenland‘s BSFA and Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning Take Back Plenty and John Crowley‘s acclaimed Engine Summer. Both are also published as SF Masterworks paperbacks.


Coming up on 24th January are:

Individual eBook editions of Brian W. Aldiss‘s brilliant Helliconia trilogy – Helliconia Spring, Helliconia  Summer and Helliconia Winter.

The first two ‘Gap’ books by Stephen DonaldsonThe Real Story and Forbidden Knowledge – and also the two volumes that make up Mordant’s Need: The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through.

The first four books in Stephen Baxter‘s acclaimed Xeelee sequence: Raft, Timelike Infinity, Flux and Ring.

Individual eBook editions of Vernor Vinge‘s Hugo Award-winning Zones of Thought novels: A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky.

And last – but far from least – the first book in Philip Jose Farmer‘s epic Riverworld sequence: To Your Scattered Bodies Go.

Then, on the  31st, we’ll publish The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer, The Fetch by Robert Holdstock, The Observers by Damon Knight, Spacehounds of IPC by E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith, The Human Angle by William Tenn, and the first SF Gateway eBook by the award-winning Mary Gentle: A Hawk in Silver.


A modest start to the New Year in terms of numbers, but once we build up a bit of momentum, we’ll be increasing our monthly output considerably. Onwards!




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SF Masterwork of the Week: Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys

9 January 2013

Our SF Masterwork of the Week is Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys.

We could introduce this classic of claustrophobic SF to you by telling you that noted critic Graham Sleight considers Rogue Moon to be ‘one of the half-dozen essential SF novels‘.

We could point out that Hugo Award-winning author James Blish thought the book ‘a masterpiece’ or that the great Alfred Bester (winner of the very first Hugo for The Demolished Man) declared that it had ‘come very close to realizing our ideal of science fiction, the story of how human beings may be affected by the science of the future’.

But actually, we think the best approach is to let bestselling SF writer and Gollancz favourite Alastair Reynolds tell you all about it. Here’s the trailer with which we announced SF Gateway in the summer of 2010; Al’s piece is about 45 seconds in:


Alastair Reynolds‘ latest novel is Blue Remembered Earth, now available in paperback and as an eBook from Gollancz.


Posted in Authors, Masterworks
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In Praise of . . . Good Show Sir

8 January 2013

No man is an island, Entire of itself

John Donne

The internet is, among many other things, an ecosystem.  No site exists in isolation; articles are written, responses posted, rebuttals made, points elaborated upon, and so it goes: , the endless conversation of the interwebs.

The SF Gateway is no different to any other site. We rely on some sites for authoritative information, on others for inspiration and still others for entertainment. In what will have to pass for a New Year’s resolution (in the absence of anything else that remotely resembles a commitment requiring willpower or abstinence), we have decided that the right thing to do is to pay tribute, over the coming months, to the sites that help inform, inspire and amuse us.  The first of these sites that we’d like to both publicly thank and heartily recommend is the excellent Good Show Sir, which we’ve previously praised on Twitter.

Your daily dose of bad* sci-fi books covers from yesteryear, Good Show Sir is a treasure trove of ‘What were they thinking?!’ goodness, which manages to blend amusement, mickey-taking and nostalgia without ever losing respect and affection for these old classics – the titles of many of which visitors to this blog might well recognise. Yesterday’s offering, for example, was Kenneth Bulmer‘s City Under the Sea (we break for a quick word from our sponsor: City Under the Sea is also available as an SF Gateway eBook). Behold the cover in all its glory!

Marvellous.  You can visit the website at, follow them on Twitter and/or like their Facebook page. Thank you, GoodShowSir – long may you continue bringing us the best of the worst!



* Sometimes so-bad-they’re-good; other times … you know … just bad.

Posted in In Praise of, Whimsy
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Locus Poll Results

4 January 2013

Here follows an announcement from the Department of Plugging Our Books and Looking Smug At the Same Time:

Last November, we exhorted you all to vote in the Locus Poll of the best SFF of the 20th and 21st centuries. The results of the poll are now in, and, rather gratifyingly, SF Gateway and sister imprint Gollancz do quite well out of them. The top ten lists make for interesting reading and, no doubt, a few arguments. I imagine everyone will be having a broadly similar reaction – a mix of ‘quite right, too’ and ‘how on Earth did that make the Top Ten’ – but will vary quite a bit in terms of which books they regard as deserving or undeserving of a place.

Here are the Top Tens in each category . . .

Read more…

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Robert Silverberg’s Reflections – January 2013

3 January 2013

‘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: The Raft of Medusa . . .

I’ve been reading Odd Jobs, a bulky collection of essays that John Updike published in 1991—one of many such collections that that prolific writer produced. In it I’ve come across a startling account of the relationship between Updike and John Cheever, his great predecessor as a chronicle of suburban angst in short stories for The New Yorker and other magazines.

You may be wondering why I want to discuss Messrs. Updike and Cheever in a science fiction magazine, since neither one, after all, is generally considered to be a science fiction writer. In fact, both did dabble a bit in the stuff: Cheever’s eerie 1947 story, “The Enormous Radio,” has been reprinted in more than one SF anthology, while Updike wrote half a dozen stories that could be called science fiction or fantasy, several of which made it into Year’s Best Science Fiction collections, and even one SF novel, Toward the End of Time. But what interests me about the Updike-Cheever material in Odd Jobs is the light it casts on the general attitudes of writers toward one another, and, indirectly, on the way science fiction writers in particular relate to each other . . .


You can read the rest of the column here, and find Robert Silverberg’s eBooks here. Please note: each column will remain on the site for one month only.


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