Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Ellen Kushner on Gateway

31 March 2017

Ellen Kushner is the author of World Fantasy Award-winner Thomas the Rhymer, a inspired retelling of an ancient legend that sees the bold and gifted young minstrel Thomas awaken the desire of the powerful Queen of Elfland – and soon discover that words are not enough to keep him from his fate!

Fantasy Masterworks paperback | Gateway eBook

As the Queen sweeps him far from the people he has known and loved into her realm of magic, opulence – and captivity – he learns at last what it is to be truly human. When he returns to his home with the Queen’s parting gift, his great task will be to seek out the girl he loved and wronged, and offer her at last the tongue that cannot lie.

But if Scottish folk lore isn’t your thing, maybe you should try the ‘Swords of Riverside’ comprising the interconnected novels Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, and The Fall of the Kings (written with Delia Sherman) – which might very well be the best Fantasy series you’ve never heard of!

Of course, we don’t expect you to take our word for it . . .

‘An unforgettable opening . . . and just gets better from there’ George R. R. Martin

‘Swordspoint was the best fantasy novel of 1987. The Fall of the Kings is better – twistier and deeper’ Neil Gaiman

‘It’s beautifully written, breezy, quick, hysterically funny, poignant  and bloody and world-weary and heartrendingly naive by turns. This is a  fantastic book, a coming-of-age story, and I love it with a quite deep  and unreasonable love’ Elizabeth Bear

‘One of the most gorgeous books I’ve ever read: it’s witty and wonderful, with characters that will provoke, charm and delight’ Holly Black

‘A tale as witty, beguiling and ingenious as a collaboration between Jane Austen and M. John Harrison . . . a well nigh faultless first novel’ Interzone

‘A glorious thing, the book we might have had if Noel Coward had written a vehicle for Errol Flynn’ Gene Wolfe

‘A many-faceted pleasure. It manages to evoke both the witty Regency romances of Georgette Heyer and the fog-shrouded dangerous streets of Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar’  Guy Gavriel Kay

‘Fantasy’s answer to Catcher in the Rye’ John Scalzi

‘Kushner and Sherman don’t spin fables or knit fancies: they are world-forgers, working in a language of iron and air’ Gregory Maguire

‘A wonderful book, beautifully written with marvellous magical moments’ Jo Walton

 

Satisfied?

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Gateway Essentials: Chad Oliver

30 March 2017

Chad Oliver was the working name that US anthropologist and writer Symmes Chadwick Oliver used for his SF titles. He was born in Ohio but spent most of his life in Texas, where he studied for his MA. He later took a PhD in anthropology at the University of California, which lead to his appointment as a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin. Oliver’s SF work reflected both his professional training and personal roots: much of it is set in the outdoors of the US Southwest and most of his characters are deeply involved in outdoor activities. Oliver was also always concerned with the depiction of Native American life. His first published story, ‘The Land of Lost Content’, appeared in Super Science Stories in November 1950, and he went on to produce nine novels and two collections. He died in Austin, Texas, in 1993.

We recommend starting with The Winds of Time or First Contact novel, The Shores of Another Sea.

You can find more of Chad Oliver’s work via his Author page on the Gateway website and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Posted in Authors, Essentials
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Walking in a Winter-of-the-World Wonderland

29 March 2017

Some time ago, news reached us, here at Gateway Towers*, of an imminent roleplaying game based on Michael Scott Rohan’s epic The Winter of the World series.

Well, we are delighted to say that Michael Scott Rohan’s Winter of the World RPG is now here!

Available from Drivethrurpg as a PDF, we’re reliably informed that there will be a print-on-demand edition available soon, and it will be in general distribution through Studio 2 Publishing in a few months’ time.

The rulebook contains an original story called ‘Findings’ by Michael Scott Rohan, set in the Winter of the World milieu [edit: Michael Scott Rohan tells us that ‘Findings’ was originally published in the now-defunct G.M. magazine but has been slightly revised for the game rulebook], and the first supplement, The Book of Kerys (due later in the year) will include ‘Veins’, the first new story about Elof and the characters of the original trilogy since 2000.

The game is fully authorised and supported by Michael Scott Rohan. Although he first found it to feel like ‘someone else walking round in my pyjamas’, he’s now more comfortable with the idea!

Game designers Peter Cakebread and Ken Walton will be at the game convention Conpulsion at Edinburgh University, 7th-9th April, with Michael Scott Rohan himself, talking on panels, running games, and selling their wares.

Spring might be here, but it sounds like all the fun is being had in Winter . . .

 

 

 

 

* Actually, it’s more of a pit, but we do have a certain reputation we wish to maintain . . .

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Gateway Essentials: A. Bertram Chandler

28 March 2017

Born on this day in Aldershot, in 1912, A(rthur) Bertram Chandler was a British writer who served in the Merchant Navy from 1928. He sailed the world in everything from tramp steamers to troop transports, and emigrated to Australia in 1956, where he commanded merchant ships under Australian and New Zealand flags until his retirement in 1975. Chandler’s first published work was “This Means War!” for Astounding in May 1944 and he concentrated on short fiction for nearly two decades, often writing under various pseudonyms. He won the Ditmar Award four times and the A Bertram Chandler Award for lifetime achievement in sf in Australia has been presented in his memory since 1992.

We’ve noted in a previous post the sterling work the estate’s agent has done in preparing reading guides to his multiple series, and we heartily recommend you consult them before embarking on your Chandleresque travels. But to get you started on your journey, we’ve selected a couple of Essentials:

 

You can find more of A. Bertram Chandler’s work via his Author page on the Gateway website, and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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Gateway Essentials: Elizabeth Scarborough

27 March 2017

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough was born in Kansas City in 1947, and now lives in the Puget Sound area of Washington. She won a Nebula Award in 1989 for her novel The Healer’s War, and has written more than a dozen other novels. She has collaborated with Anne McCaffrey – best-known for creating the Dragonriders of Pern – to produce the Petaybee Series and the Acorna Series.

Where to start?  Well, a Nebula Award is usually a pretty good stamp of approval!

The Healer’s War (1988)

 

You can find more of Elizabeth Scarborough’s work via her Author page on the Gateway website and read about her in her entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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Ursula K. LeGuin’s Orsinia

23 March 2017

Over at the TLS, the always insightful Roz Kaveney looks at The Library of America’s new edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Orsinia, which collectes the stories in Orsinian Tales and the novel Malafrena – all set in Le Guin’s imaginary central European country of Orsinia.

Malafrena, though, deserves to be ranked alongside The Dispossessed (1974) as one of Le Guin’s most serious works, and has not been discussed nearly enough as an intelligent political fiction – it is possible that it will find its readership now, in an era of hopes frustrated and betrayed. Malafrena is about as far as one can get from a Ruritanian romance – it is a book about the generation that came to maturity in the late 1820s, fought for liberation and lost.

You can read the rest of the article at the TLS website, and we recommend that you do.

Meanwhile, we’re delighted to tell you all that Ursula Le Guin’s Orsinia will be published by Gollancz in June, accompanied by eBooks of its component titles, Orsinian Tales and Malafrena.

You can find more of Ursula K. Le Guin’s work via her Author page on the Gateway website and read about her in her entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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Happy Birthday, William Shatner!

22 March 2017

Stardate 8879.58: A new life form has entered the world. Although there are no signs of any … irregularities, I sense a … strange destiny … for this child. This … boy they call … Bill.

Yes, we know we’ve posted this before, but . . . come on: it’s not every day it’s William Shatner‘s birthday! On stardate 8879.58 (22nd March, 1931 to you) William Shatner entered the world – Montreal, Quebec, to be precise – and, little did anybody realise at the time, a legend was born.

Even with the success of the recently re-booted Star Trek universe, and the excellent job Chris Pine has done, it’s still impossible to hear the name ‘Captain Kirk’ and not think of William Shatner. His name should be made a byword for the ultimate in typecasting: “Sure Barry Humphries has created lots of great characters, but he’s been absolutely Shatnered as Dame Edna”.

Many choose to mock his unique delivery style (and, to be fair, we’ve done it ourselves at the beginning of this post) – all dramatic pauses and portentous intonation – but what these people either forget or never knew is that that style was once a new and very distinctive delivery method. It was his USP, the point of difference he brought to the table; it was novel, it was exciting and it was pioneered by … William Shatner. For an actor to have such an impact that his own signature style becomes part of popular culture is an extraordinary testament to his skill. And to mock him for it is akin to poking fun at Muhammad Ali for his footwork or Elvis for his hip-swivel. Not cool, people, not cool.

Of course, Shatner doesn’t care – more: he revels in his status as a pop cultural oddity. He’s poked fun at himself and (let’s be honest) at us with his famous Saturday Night Live ‘Get A Life’ Sketch, lampooned his Kirk persona in films Airplane II: The Sequel and National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon, and lampooned himself in indie proto-Big Bang Theory film Free Enterprise (if you haven’t seen it yet, do so at once!).

He seems to be wilfully – joyfully – immune to his critics and more than happy to poke fun at himself, usually with more panache than anyone else could muster. We salute him for it. It’s not entirely clear whether his activities are knowing self-parodies or genuine attempts to tread new artistic ground . . . and, frankly, we couldn’t care less. As long as we get to marvel at performances like this, we’re in:

 

 

Happy Birthday, Bill. Long may your journey continue.

Second star to the right and straight on till morning.

Posted in Anniversaries, Authors, Films, TV
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Gateway Essentials: Karl Edward Wagner

21 March 2017

Karl Edward Wagner (pronounced ‘WAG-nuh’, not ‘VARG-nuh’) was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He earned a degree in history from Kenyon College in 1967 and a degree in psychiatry from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Despite this training, Wagner disliked the medical profession and abandoned it upon establishing himself as a writer; his disillusionment with the medical profession can be seen in the stories ‘The Fourth Seal’ and ‘Into Whose Hands’.

As well as being a multi-award winning author, Wagner was a highly successful editor and publisher of horror, science fiction and heroic fantasy, creating a definitive three-volume set of Robert E. Howard‘s Conan the Barbarian fiction, and editing the long-running and genre-defining Year’s Best Horror and Fantasy series.

Wagner is perhaps best known for his creation of the long-running series of stories featuring Kane, the Mystic Swordsman, and it is these classics of sword-and-sorcery that we have selected as Wagner’s Gateway Essentials:

 

You can find these and more of Karl Edward Wagner’s works via his Author page on the Gateway website, and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy.

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Happy Birthday, Pamela Sargent!

20 March 2017

An important voice in feminist SF, Pamela Sargent came to prominence as an editor with the ‘Women of Wonder’ SF anthologies, beginning in the mid-seventies, and she has continued to edit works of genre interest. An award-winning short fiction and novel writer, her works include the ‘Earthminds’, ‘Seed’ and ‘Venus’ trilogies, all available as SF Gateway eBooks.

Last summer, we posted a guide to Pamela Sargent’s Gateway Essentials titles . . .

. . . and today, we wish Pamela a very Happy Birthday – and it’s a birthday we’re sure will be made all the more special by the news that Pamela’s acclaimed The Shore of Women has been optioned for development as a TV series by Super Deluxe Films, a division of Turner Broadcasting. That’s all we know for now, but we’ll be sure to update you with more details as we learn them. Exciting stuff!

 
You can find more of Pamela Sargent’s books via her Author page on the Gateway website, and read more about her in her entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

 

Happy Birthday, Pamela – and congratulations!

Posted in Anniversaries, Authors, News, TV
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Happy Birthday, William Gibson!

17 March 2017

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

With this iconic opening line from his debut novel, Neuromancer, William Gibson lit the blue touch paper on the nascent sub-genre known as Cyberpunk.

Although Gibson did not invent Cyberpunk (that honour goes to Bruce Bethke in the November 1983 issue of Amazing Stories), he did coin the term ‘cyberspace’ in the title story of his 1986 collection Burning Chrome. And Neuromancer was clearly a book that SF readers were ready for. It won the Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick Awards, and has been regularly picked as one of the twentieth century’s most important works of fiction.

Gollancz is delighted to have welcomed William Gibson’s Neuromancer books back home to Gollancz (where they were originally published by our very own Malcolm Edwards), and we are proud and pleased to be publishing new editions of Neuromancer, its follow-up novels Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive and story collection Burning Chrome in stunning new editions.

 

Happy Birthday, William Gibson!

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