Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Editors’ Choice: A Time of Changes by Robert Silverberg

7 December 2012

This week’s Editors’ Choice is Robert Silverberg‘s wonderful A Time of Changes.


In the far future, humanity has spread across the galaxy to worlds that began as colonies, but now feel like home, each with its own long history of a thousand years or more, and each with its own unique culture. One of the strangest of these is Borthan, where the founding settlers established the Covenant, which teaches that the self is to be despised, and forbids anyone to reveal their innermost thoughts or feelings to another. On Borthan, the filthiest obscenities imaginable are the words ‘I’ and ‘me’, and for the heinous crime of ‘self-baring’, apostates have always paid with exile or death.

But after his eyes are opened by a visitor from Earth, Kinnall Darival, prince of Salla, risks everything to teach his people the real meaning of being human, beginning his account with the vilest of heresies:

‘I am Kinnall Darival and I mean to tell you all about myself.’


Winner of the Nebula Award for best novel, A Time of Changes was published during a particularly vibrant period of Silverberg’s career – a point at which he had a serious claim to being the best SF writer in the world.

Hyperbole? Maybe, but just look at this:

Thorns – shortlisted for the 1968 Hugo and Nebula Awards

The Masks of Time – shortlisted for the 1969 Nebula Award

Up The Line – shortlisted for the 1970 Hugo and Nebula Awards

Tower of Glass – shortlisted for the 1971 Hugo and Nebula Awards

A Time of Changes – shortlisted for the 1972 Hugo Award; winner of the 1972 Nebula Award
The World Inside – shortlisted for the 1972 Hugo Award but subsequently withdrawn

The Book of Skulls – shortlisted for the 1973 Hugo and Nebula Awards
Dying Inside – shortlisted for the 1973 Hugo and Nebula Awards

Half a dozen years in which Robert Silverberg‘s novels accrued 7 nominations for each of the two major SF awards – and that’s without taking into account four Hugo nominations (one win) and three Nebula nominations for best novella, and two Hugo nominations  and three Nebula nominations (two wins) for best short fiction.

That’s an extraordinary record from an extraordinary writer – and that’s why the extraordinary A Time of Changes is SF Gateway’s Editors’ Choice this week.


Posted in Editors' Choice
Comments: Comments Off on Editors’ Choice: A Time of Changes by Robert Silverberg

SF Gateway Author of the Week: James Blish

6 December 2012

For many years, in my early days as a science fiction reader, James Blish was known to me for one thing only: he was the writer of the Star Trek novelisations I went through a phase of reading. I recall them being pretty good adaptations of classic Star Trek episodes, but certainly nothing exceptional enough to make me want to look up this Blish fellow and see what else he’d done.

Imagine my surprise when I picked up a discounted paperback, attracted by some typically arresting Chris Foss artwork and the very science fiction-ie title The Testament of Andros, and found a familiar name at the top of the cover. It seemed this James Blish character wrote proper SF as well as tie-ins. Curious, I embarked on the collection – seeing as it was emblazoned with a flash proclaiming it ‘the best science fiction stories of James Blish’, I figured it should be interesting. And it certainly was!

To be honest, I don’t really remember the first story. This shouldn’t be seen as a fault inherent in the book – just a reflection of the fact that I read it in my early teens (which are longer ago than I care to admit) and time and many other novels and stories since have overwritten those memories. By rights, I probably shouldn’t remember any of the stories, so the fact that I remember two is a testament (pardon the pun) to Blish’s skill as a writer. Both ‘Surface Tension’ and the title story have stayed with me to this day – indeed, I voted for them both in the Best 20th Century Novelette category of the recent Locus poll.

Unfortunately, it’s not really possible to explain what each is about without some degree of spoiler, and I’d rather not do that; I’ll simply say urge you to seek them out. ‘Surface Tension’ is included in The Seedling Stars, and while ‘The Testament of Andros’ is not available from SF Gateway (yet!), it should be possible to track down a second-hand copy of the paperback.

Or, of course, you could try any one of the two score James Blish titles we have on the Gateway. A Case of Conscience won the Hugo Award, you know . . .

Posted in Authors
Comments: 3

The Encyclopedia of Fantasy!

5 December 2012

Not content with providing just short of 4 million words of SFnal scholarship, the team behind The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction has decided to make available the 1.2 million words of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy.

The editors are at pains to point out that this is the 1997 text and, as such, shouldn’t be taken as being up-to-date. So, you won’t for instance, find extensive detail on A Song of Ice and Fire, since the first book, A Game of Thrones, wasn’t published until 1996 and the series didn’t really take off, commercially speaking, until after The Encyclopedia of Fantasy was published – but you’ll still find interesting background on George R. R. Martin that isn’t necessarily in his SFE entry.

And with that much-anticipated film by that New Zealand fellow – what is his name? – soon to reach our cinemas, we’re sure there’s something interesting you can look up . . .


Posted in SFE
Comments: Comments Off on The Encyclopedia of Fantasy!

Is the Pope an SF Fan?

4 December 2012

So: is the pope an SF fan? Yes. Yes, he is.

It was announced today that Pope Benedict XVI has opened a personal Twitter account and was to tweet under the name @pontifex. Now, we can’t help but notice that in 1983, Robert Silverberg wrote a book called:

Faced with the choice between accusing the Bishop of Rome of plagiarism or inferring that he is, in fact, a closet SF fan, we’ve decided that diplomacy is the best path.

Next week: Foreign Secretary, William Hague tweets as @BilltheGalacticHero. Or . . . you know: not.


Comments: 2

Robert Silverberg’s Reflections – December 2012

3 December 2012

‘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: Libraries . . .


I was always a reader — I had begun to master the knack of it before I turned four — and my parents saw that I was well supplied with books from an early age. (I still have some of them: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, The Complete Lewis Carroll, Ivanhoe, The Maltese Falcon, a Rudyard Kipling omnibus, Padraic Colum’s retellings of the Greek and Norse myths, and an assortment of books about dinosaurs, geology, botany, and astronomy, inscribed to me on various birthdays, dating from 1943, 1944, 1945.) My life as a science fiction writer, I’m certain, was constructed out of that hodgepodge of science and fantasy, the dinosaur/astronomy/geology books, the adventures of Odin and Thor, Zeus and Hermes, Carroll’s two novels of Wonderland, and the rest.

But very quickly I learned that although I had an abundance of books at home, there was a marvelous place called the library that had even more, infinitely more, more books than I could possibly ever read even though I took an armload of them out every week . . .


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.


Posted in Reflections
Comments: Comments Off on Robert Silverberg’s Reflections – December 2012

SF Gateway Christmas Sale!

30 November 2012

Hear ye! Hear ye!*


Come one, come all!**


Everything must go!***


Sierra! Alpha! Lima! Echo!  SALE!


SF Gateway is delighted to announce an end-of year sale: all regularly-priced eBooks will be reduced to £2.99 over the holiday period (which you can take to mean approximately 7th December through to the 10th January 2013 – exact timing will vary across individual retailers, depending on how long it takes them to process the change of information).

But hold on: what’s this?  “All regularly priced eBooks” – them’s weasel words, surely?  Nope. Not a bit of it. Them’s honest words. We want to be completely transparent about this: we’ll be reducing the price of all SF Gateway eBooks to £2.99 except for the six Boxed Sets we mentioned on Wednesday, and a handful of other higher-priced titles, which are:

Necronomicon and Eldritch Tales by H.P. Lovecraft
Zones of Thought by Vernor Vinge
Conan’s Brethren by Robert E. Howard
The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke


So there’s our full disclosure: all SF Gateway eBooks will be £2.99 for the duration of the sale, except for the eleven mentioned above.  That’s  over 1,650 eBooks, people!  Happy reading!


*** N.B. These prices hold true for the UK market; prices in other currencies and other markets should still be discounted, but we cannot guarantee they will match the levels above, as pricing in these markets is outside our control. ***





* did anyone every really say that?

** well, technically not all – the offer isn’t limited to those who own ereaders, but those who don’t are advised to just stop and think for a moment

*** or not, as the case may be; I mean we’re pretty sure we won’t run out of eBooks, but do you really want to take the chance?












**** we’re very, very sorry . . .


Posted in Housekeeping
Comments: Comments Off on SF Gateway Christmas Sale!

Remembering Robert Holdstock

29 November 2012

It’s three years ago, today, that Robert Holdstock passed away. Some four months after the publication of what would be his final novel – fittingly, a Ryhope Wood tale – the fantasy genre lost one of its modern masters, and those of us who were lucky enough to know the man as well as the books, lost a great friend.

Rob was a World Fantasy Award-winner for best novel, with Mythago Wood, and best novella, with ‘The Ragthorn’, co-written with Garry Kilworth. He won the BSFA Award four times – twice for short fiction, with ‘The Ragthorn’ and the original ‘Mythago Wood’ novella, and twice for best novel, with Mythago Wood and sequel LavondyssCeltika, his extraordinary tale of Merlin, centuries before the time of Arthur, won the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire for best novel translated into French.

In 2010, the British Fantasy Society posthumously gave him the Karl Edward Wagner Award for Special Achievement, and earlier this year the same body announced that its best novel award would henceforth be split into two categories: the August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel and the Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel. I can’t think of a better candidate to be permanently associated with the best in British Fantasy.

I’ll be raising a glass to Rob, this evening, in memory of great conversations over burgers and Belgian beer, and I’m sure many of you will be remembering him in other ways – not least, by reading or re-reading his wonderful books – but I leave you with this rather haunting tribute I found while gathering links for this post:


The riders had gone, clattering up the path to the castle and the woods beyond. But long after the pyre had burned to ash the boy was still crouched within the shrine cave, following with his gaze the trail of the drifting smoke, out across the forest, to the distance, to the setting sun, to the unknown regions of the west.

He wondered how to journey there.


Posted in Authors
Comments: 5

Coming Soon to SF Gateway!

28 November 2012

This Friday, 30th November, sees the publication of a number of eBook ‘Boxed Sets’, which we’ve designed to serve as an introduction to some major series and authors. We’re calling them – with what we’re sure you’ll agree is disarming modesty – the Gateway Collections, and you can expect to find . . .

Dorsai!: The Gateway Collection | Gordon R. Dickson
Dumarest: The Gateway Collection | E.C. Tubb
Dune: The Gateway Collection | Frank Herbert
Gor: The Gateway Collection | John Norman
The Stainless Steel Rat: The Gateway Collection | Harry Harrison

. . . all of which will contain the first six books of the respective series, and:

Sheri S. Tepper: The Gateway Collection, which contains two complete trilogies to serve as an introduction to the author’s work – the ‘Marianne’ and ‘Mavin’ trilogies.


Each collection contains six eBooks for the price of five, and will be available from your usual eBook retailers.


Please note: these titles will not show up on the site until Friday



Posted in New Releases
Comments: Comments Off on Coming Soon to SF Gateway!

SF Masterwork of the Week: Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

27 November 2012

Connie Willis has accumulated an extraordinary 11 Hugo and 7 Nebula Awards during her glittering career. She has twice won the Hugo and Nebula with the same book – in 2010 with Blackout/All Clear, and before that in 1992 with our SF Masterwork of the Week, Doomsday Book.

For Kivrin Engle, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity’s history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman travelling alone.

For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received.

But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin – barely of age herself – finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history’s darkest hours . . .


One of the major volumes of  Willis’s time travel sequence (the others being Firewatch, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and the two mentioned above: Blackout and All Clear), Doomsday Book is an extraordinary achievement by a writer at the peak of her powers. As Adam Roberts says in his introduction:

‘Like Shakespeare, she captures the mood of a time, the feel of medieval England, and she does so with remarkable vividness. To read Doomsday Book is to be drawn immersively into a world that is defined by its difference, both to the present and to the present’s ideas of how the past was. And because it feels real, we care about the people in it.’

If you’d like to discuss Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book – or any of our SF Masterworks of the Week, there’s a dedicated SF Gateway Forum thread here.


Posted in Awards, Masterworks
Comments: Comments Off on SF Masterwork of the Week: Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

Editors’ Choice: Cowboy Angels by Paul McAuley

26 November 2012


This week’s SF Gateway Editors’ Choice comes, controversially, from the 21st century: Cowboy Angels by the Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick and John W. Campbell Memorial Award-winning author Paul McAuley.


It is 1984 in the United States of America. Not our version of America, but an America that calls itself the Real, an America in which the invention of Turing Gates has allowed access to sheaves of alternate histories. For ten years, in the name of democracy, the Real has been waging clandestine wars and fomenting revolution across multiple Earths, freeing versions of America from communist or fascist rule, and extending its influence across a wide variety of alternate realities.

But finally, the human and political costs have proven too high, and new President Jimmy Carter has called an end to war, and is bringing troops and secret agents home. Some, however, don’t want to follow orders . . .

Adam Stone is called out of retirement when his former comrade, Tom Waverly, begins to murder different versions of the same person, mathematician Eileen Barrie. Aided by Waverly’s daughter, Linda, Adam hunts for his old friend across different sheaves, but when they finally catch up with him, they discover that they have stumbled into the middle of an audacious conspiracy that plans to exploit a new property of the Turing Gate: it will change not only the history of the Real, but that of every other reality, including our own.

Combining elements of noir, alternate history and conspiracy thriller to produce a compelling and action-packed race across parallel realities, if you put Sliders and 24 into an atom smasher, the resulting particles might look a lot like Cowboy Angels.

If you’d like to discuss Paul McAuley’s Cowboy Angels – or any of our Editors’ Choice books, there’s a dedicated SF Gateway Forum thread here.

Comments: Comments Off on Editors’ Choice: Cowboy Angels by Paul McAuley
1 106 107 108 109 110 113