Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Eon . . . Eternity . . . Legacy

26 September 2012

The redoubtable Richard Curtisliterary agent extraordinaire and eBook pioneer – has posted an appreciation of Greg Bear‘s epic ‘Eon’ trilogy, at his E-Reads site

Since Gollancz and SF Gateway are proud to publish Greg Bear in the UK & Commonwealth, and since Bear is one of our foremost hard SF writers and the son-in-law of the legendary Poul Anderson, we felt these were words worth drawing attention to. You can read Richard’s post here.

Greg Bear‘s ‘Eon’ trilogy is comprised of:
Eon (SF Masterwork | eBook)
Eternity (paperback | eBook)
Legacy (eBook

All of the above, as well as a considerable amount of Poul Anderson‘s work, are available on the SF Gateway.


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Paul McAuley on PAVANE

20 September 2012

Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author, Paul McAuley has posted an appreciation of Keith RobertsPavane on his blog. You should go read it.

1588: Queen Elizabeth is felled by an assassin’s bullet. Within the week, the Spanish Armada had set sail, and its victory changed the course of history. 1968: England is still dominated by the Church of Rome. There are no telephones, no television, no nuclear power. As Catholicism and the Inquisition tighten their grip, rebellion is growing . . .

SF Gateway currently hosts Pavane and another five of Keith Roberts’ books, and Pavane is also available in the SF Masterworks series published by our sister imprint Gollancz.

Pavane Pavane (eBook)
Paul McAuley‘s latest book is In the Mouth of the Whale, published by Gollancz and available in paperback and as an eBook.
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Immortalising the Backlist

19 September 2012

Norman Spinrad is the acclaimed author of Bug Jack Barron and The Iron Dream, and was an important figure in the New Wave. In this piece, originally posted on the author’s website and republished here with his kind permission, he offers a personal view on the digital publishing revolution in general, and Science Fiction in particular . . .

Norman SpinradI’ve been writing about the ebook publishing revolution and experimenting with ebook publishing modes long enough now for that future to have arrived faster than I had predicted and in an even more complex form than I had imagined.

There are now many ebook readers competing with each other for hardware dominance, and while none of them are quite yet the universal ebook reader capable of dealing with all ebook formats, they’ve arrived at the point where the technology and cost is no longer an obstacle. And with one enormous exception, ePub is emerging as a universal ebook format.

But that enormous exception is Amazon’s proprietary mobi format and Amazon utterly dominates ebook sales. This is bad news for the makers of all those more open format ebook readers, since Amazon’s business model, emulating what Apple did with the iPod and the iTunes store, is to tie its Kindle ebook reader to its proprietary format and its way out in front number of ebook titles to create as close a thing to a vertical monopoly as it can get, about 75% or more of ebook sales in the United States.
Read more…

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Pat Cadigan’s FOOLS: A Review by Paul McAuley

18 September 2012

Arthur C. Clarke Award-winner, Paul McAuley, in addition to being one of SF’s finest writers, is also an astute judge of a good book. Here, he reviews fellow-Arthur C. Clarke Award-winner Pat Cadigan‘s Fools, which won the award in 1995 . . .

Fools, Pat Cadigan‘s third novel, is set in the same milieu as her first, Mindplayers, in which exchange of memory, assimilation of new personalities, and direct mind-to-mind contact is commonplace and mediated by machines in a consensual space that more closely resembles the malleable dreamscapes of virtual reality than the virtual grids of cyberspace. It starts off as a dizzy nightmare, the kind where you think you know what is going on, but really you don’t know anything at all, and you’re dressed in stolen clothes. An actress, Marna, thinks she’s at her Coming Out party – she has licensed her persona for public consumption and become Famous. Except, it turns out, she isn’t Marna, but a replica of her personality lodged in the head of a personality junky, Marceline, who has even less idea of what is going on than Marna, and is missing a week of her life.

In a slow descent through the anarchic zones of the Downs Marceline pieces together what has happened to her. She has been working for an Escort Agency, feeding her personality junky habit by helping people suicide in a virtual reality of their own choosing and grabbing useful memories when they go for recycling. The real Marna discovered she had a Brain Police persona lodged in deep undercover inside her during a mind-meld with a fellow actor, and she went to Marceline’s Escort Agency to get rid of it. But when Marna’s personality bled into Marceline’s the police persona jumped across too, and still needs to complete her mission to penetrate and expose a ring of personality bootleggers, which is why she was in Marna in the first place.

And then the story begins to get complicated, as it rings all the changes on the multiple viewpoints of its untrustworthy narrators, and cranks up their paranoia in a fast-paced and slippery plot in which no one can trust any one else, not even themselves. It’s a brilliantly controlled funhouse mirror of a novel, through which the reader must pick her way with the help of different typefaces for each personality, and Cadigan’s careful delineation of Marna’s self-possessed bitchiness, Marceline’s streetsmart self-destructive vulnerability, and the cop’s cool compassion. Any further explanation would be about as long as the book itself, but trust me: Fools is smart, urgent, funny, and one of those rare books that not only bears immediate rereading, but demands it.

Paul McAuley won the Philip K. Dick Award for his first novel and has gone on to win the Arthur C. Clarke, British Fantasy, Sidewise and John W. Campbell Awards. His latest novel is In the Mouth of the Whale, published by Gollancz and available in paperback and as an eBook

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Norman Spinrad’s The Solarians: a Review by Stephen Baxter

17 September 2012

In the first of what we hope will be many guest posts by Gollancz’s very talented authors, multi-award-winning author and SF Gateway Advisory Board member, Stephen Baxter, offers his thoughts on Norman Spinrad’s 1966 solar disaster novel, The Solarians . . .

I’m pleased to see Norman Spinrad’s The Solarians as an early entry on the Gateway, because it’s a solar disaster story with an unusual twist.

In my collaboration with Sir Arthur C Clarke, Sunstorm (2005) a disorderly sun threatens Earth. The misbehaviour of the sun featured in many of Clarke’s works, beginning with ‘Rescue Party’ (1946), and including his novel Songs of Distant Earth (1986) in which mankind has a thousand-year warning and scatters to the stars.

The first sfnal depictions of solar disasters concerned the running down of the sun’s power. The best guesses of the nineteenth-century physicists up to Lord Kelvin were that the sun was powered by gravitational contraction, which would last only a few million years. An expiring Kelvin-esque sun is memorably mentioned in a catalogue of possible ends of the world in Camille Flammarion‘s Omega: The Last Days of the World (1893). The dying sun is also glimpsed by HG Wells‘ Time Traveller in The Time Machine (1895).

In the early twentieth century it was realised that nuclear fusion, the sun’s true power source, should enable it to shine for thousands of millions of years, and concern about the longevity of the sun was replaced by speculation about what might happen if it misbehaves – as in Clarke’s stories. Usually, there’s nothing to do but run for it. In JT McIntosh‘s One in Three Hundred (1954) a brightening sun ruins Earth but brings Mars alive. So a fleet of life-ships is hastily assembled, and the inexperienced ‘lieutenants’ who will pilot them are ordered to select the ‘one in three hundred’ who will be spared the fire. Here’s a good book by a Scottish writer now mostly forgotten – one for the Gateway?

But Spinrad’s The Solarians (1966) is an exception, for here humanity actually causes an instability in the sun. We are losing a war of attrition with the relentlessly logical Dulgaari. But the Dulgaari fleet is duped into entering the solar system, ‘Fortress Sol’ – where it is vaporised by an artificial Nova Sol, ‘like a swarm of moths caught in a flamethrower’ (chapter 12). The scenes of the destruction of an evacuated Earth are affecting.

Maybe it’s a surprise there aren’t more sun-centred works of sf. Perhaps we moderns are too blasé about the sun. Certainly our understanding of the sun exceeds that of our ancestors, who worshipped it as a god, but we are just as dependent on its power.

Stephen Baxter is one of the pre-eminent SF writers of our time, a frequent collaborator with the late Arthur C. Clarke and President of the British Science Fiction Association. His latest novel is Bronze Summer, currently available in hardback, trade paperback and as an eBook.
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We Are Green for Go . . .

14 September 2012

Welcome to the re-purposed SF Gateway blog, now running on improved blogging software and with a much more functional back-end.

With the SF Gateway site now out of beta, and upgraded to regularly update the new books we’re publishing, we’ll be making much more use of the blog. Expect to see opinion pieces, highlights from our extensive catalogue, guest posts by current SF authors, commentators, editors and critics, and anything of an SFnal note that catches our eye.

We hope to make SF Gateway one of the most vibrant and interesting plaves on the web for anyone interested in sciencefiction and fantasy’s rich heritage. Our goal is to make the conversation interesting, relevant and far-reaching – after all: we have all of time and space to explore . . .

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