Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Gateway Essentials: Frank Herbert

8 March 2017

Frank Patrick Herbert was born in Tacoma, Washington, in 1920, and educated at the University of Washington, Seattle. worked as a reporter and editor on a number of West Coast newspapers before becoming a full-time writer. He lived in Washington State until his death in 1986.

According to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction:

He began publishing sf with “Looking for Something?” for Startling Stories in April 1952, and during the next decade was an infrequent contributor to the sf magazines, producing fewer than twenty short stories (which nevertheless constituted a majority of his short fiction; he never made a significant impact with work below novel length); much of this material was assembled in various collections, including The Book of Frank Herbert (coll 1973) and The Best of Frank Herbert (coll 1975). At this time he also wrote one novel, The Dragon in the Sea (November 1955-January 1956 Astounding as “Under Pressure”; 1956; vt 21st Century Sub 1956; vt Under Pressure 1974), a much praised sf thriller concerning complex psychological investigations aboard a submarine of the Near Future whose Cold War mission is to steal oil from America’s foes. His emergence as a writer of major stature commenced with the publication in Analog from December 1963 to February 1964 of “Dune World”, the first part of his Dune series. It was followed by “The Prophet of Dune” (January-May 1965 Analog); the two were amalgamated into Dune (rev as fixup 1965), which won the first Nebula for Best Novel, shared the Hugo, and became one of the most famous of all sf novels.

For many people, of course, his biography is much simpler: ‘Frank Herbert wrote Dune’.

SF Masterworks hardback | SF Gateway eBook

 

As concise explanations go, that’s pretty hard to argue with, and it’s true that Dune and its five sequels represent the best place to start if you want to read Frank Herbert:

 

These are esential books if you want to understand Herbert’s contribution to the field, but they’re not the only shows in town. You could, for instance, try Hellstrom’s Hive, a very different take on Herbert’s thinking on ecology and human power structures.

SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook

 

And, of course, there’s always his Cold War thriller, The Dragon in the Sea or his novel of AI run amok on an alien colony, The Jesus Incident – both of which are published in our Gateway Essentials programme:

 

As ever, you can find more of Frank Herbert’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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Masterworks Spotlight: The First Men in the Moon

7 March 2017

It might not be one of the Father of Science Fiction’s most scientifically literate novels, but it remains a great favourite . . .

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo landing, let’s step back in time to when walking on the Moon was little more than a fantasy, with The First Men in the Moon – in a new paperback edition with an introduction by Lisa Tuttle:

‘As we saw it first it was the wildest and most desolate of scenes. We were in an enormous amphitheatre, a vast circular plain, the floor of the giant crater. Its cliff-like wall closed us in on every side!’

Thanks to the discovery of an anti-gravity metal, Cavorite, two Victorian Englishman decide to tackle the most prestigious goal – space travel. They construct a sphere that will ultimately take them to the moon. On landing, they encounter what seems like an utterly barren landscape but they soon find signs that the planet was once very much alive. Then they hear curious hammering sounds from beneath the surface, and come face to face with the Selenites, a race of insect-like aliens living in a rigidly organised hive society.

 

The First Men in the Moon is available as an SF Masterworks paperback and an SF Gateway eBook. You can find more of H G Wells’ 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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Masterworks Spotlight: The Time Machine

6 March 2017

It’s only one of the most famous novels of . . . <ahem> all time . . .

Continuing our celebration of the classic SF of H.G. Wells, we are delighted to present The Time Machine, in a new paperback edition with an introduction by Gwyneth Jones:

A Victorian scientist develops a time machine and travels to the year 802,171 AD. There he finds the meek, child-like Eloi who live in fear of the underground-dwelling Morlocks. When his time machine goes missing, the Traveller faces a fight to enter the Morlocks’ domain and return to his own time.

The Time Machine remains one of the cornerstones of science-fiction literature and has proved hugely influential – both in literary and visual terms: George Pal‘s 1960 film, starring Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux gave us one of the great iconic images in modern cinema, with the eponymous device.

 

The Time Machine is available as an SF Masterworks paperback and an SF Gateway eBook. You can find more of H G Wells’ 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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On This Day: James Doohan was Born

3 March 2017

Much has been written about the trinity at the centre of Star Trek – Kirk, Spock and McCoy – but for some of us, the heart of the show (and certainly of the USS Enterprise) has always been Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott.

And, with all due respect to Simon Pegg, who has many fans at Gateway and Gollancz, there really is only one Scotty.

‘Oh, the equipment’s guaranteed, but I have my doubts about the stuff inside.’

‘I don’t know how much more emergency power we can take before we start to break up.’

‘I was driving starships, while your great-grandfather was still in diapers!’

‘The best diplomat I know is a fully activated phaser bank.’

‘I’m givin’ it all she’s got, Captain! If I push it any farther, the whole thing’ll blow!’

 

and, of course:

‘I cannae change the law of physics!’

 

Happy Birthday, Scotty!

James Doohan (3 March 1920 – 20 July 2005)

 
 

Reposted from last year because (a) we still love James Doohan, and (b) those quotes are hard to resist!

Posted in Anniversaries, Films, TV
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Gateway Essentials: Raymond F. Jones

2 March 2017

Raymond F. (Fisher) Jones was born in Utah in 1915 and was a regular contributor to Astounding Stories and Galaxy Science Fiction among other pulp SF magazines. He is best known for the 1952 novel This Island Earth, which was famously filmed in 1955, one of the first major SF films to be produced in Technicolor. He died in 1994.

We’re lucky enough to publish a dozen of his books and would recommend his excellent Parallel-Worlds adventure, Renaissance, as the best place to start.

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

 

Posted in Authors, Essentials
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Happy Birthday, David Pringle!

1 March 2017

Today is the birthday of noted editor David Pringle. In addition to producing two of the best reading guides for the modern genre – Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels and Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels – David Pringle was one of the founders, and the longest-serving editor, of Interzone.

And what is Interzone? We’re glad you asked. From the SF Gateway archives:

The history of classic science fiction (in which SF Gateway has some small interest …) is, in many ways, the history of the pulp magazines. From the beginning of the modern field, in which they were the only realistic avenue for publication, through the Golden Age as exemplified by John W. Campbell‘s influential run on Astounding Science Fiction, through to even the very recent past, when novels routinely appeared first in serialised form in Analog, Asimov’s Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction to name but a few.

With the likes of Astounding, Startling Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction, F&SF, and later Asimov’s, all active and successful in the US, it’s easy to forget that the UK has its own proud tradition of SF magazines. And it would be wrong to do so for any number of reasons: primarily the ground-breaking, genre-defying run of New Worlds under Michael Moorcock‘s legendary editorship, and, of course, the longest-lived of the British SF magazines, Interzone, which has long been a source of short fiction to rival the best of any of the American magazines.

It is widely accepted that Interzone has launched the careers of a staggering number of now-established British SF greats. From Stephen Baxter, Nicola Griffith and Peter F. Hamilton, through Paul McAuley, Ian McDonald and Kim Newman, to Alastair Reynolds, Charles Stross and Liz Williams, the ‘Interzone generation’ has dominated British SF for . . . well, a generation! It’s arguable that only Campbell’s Astounding can lay claim to such a pedigree.

Given such a rich heritage, it would be invidious to attempt to draw out individual works for praise, but we can’t resist just one mention: in an issue of Interzone from the first months of the twenty-first century, SF Gateway’s own Ian Watson published a story called ‘Hijack Holiday‘; in it, a group of passengers on a flight to Paris think the terrorist attack mid-flight is a LARP-style piece of theatre for their entertainment, only to be proved – terminally – wrong, when the terrorists force the plane to crash into the Eiffel Tower. The cover date of that issue? April 2001. We take pains to insist that SF shouldn’t be judged as a predictive medium, but you wonder whether sometimes – sometimes – our writers are allowed a brief glimpse into the future . . .

 

You can read more about Interzone, David Pringle and, indeed, all things SF at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, and you can find David Pringle’s wonderful guides to the best SF and Fantasy novels via his Author page on the Gateway website.

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Robert Silverberg’s Reflections: March 2017

28 February 2017

 

 

‘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: ‘Forty Years!’

Forty years! The time goes by in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Well, not exactly. Forty years is practically half my life ago, and my life has been a long one. I remember when the first issue of the magazine that was then called Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine appeared, early in 1977, but it doesn’t seem like yesterday to me, or even the day before yesterday. Jimmy Carter was President in 1977. Jimmy Carter’s presidency seems a long time ago. The big movie of the year was Star Wars. I wore my (dark) hair down to my shoulders in 1977. That seems a long time ago, too.

I do recall when I first saw Asimov’s Number One . . .

 

You can read the rest of the column here, and find Robert Silverberg’s eBooks here – including Reflections and Refractions, a collection of his non-fiction columns. Please note: each column will remain on the site for one month only.

Posted in Commentary, Reflections
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APOD: An Active Night over the Magellan Telescopes

27 February 2017

Our admiration for NASA‘s excellent Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD to the cool kids) is on record. We start every day with a look at the latest wonderful image on the site, and every now and then we decide to share one that we particularly enjoy. This time-lapse footage of the night sky over the Magellan Telescopes in Chile is just such an instance. Keep an eye out for the flashes across the screen from time to time – those are satellites, which the 12-year-old SF fan inside thinks is just the coolest thing ever.

 
Enjoy!  And if you want to see more, the APOD site has a Random APOD Generator you can visit, if you’re prepared to lose hours of your life.

Posted in In Praise of
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Gateway Essentials: Joe Haldeman

24 February 2017

Joe Haldeman was born in Oklahoma in 1943 and studied physics and astronomy before serving as a combat engineer in Vietnam, where he was severely wounded and won a Purple Heart. The Forever War was his first SF novel and it won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, a feat which Forever Peace repeated. He is also the author of, among others, Mindbridge, All My Sins Remembered, Worlds, Worlds Apart and Worlds Enough and Time. He is the winner of 5 Hugos, 5 Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a James Tiptree, Jr and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and in 2010 he was given the SFWA Grand Master Award.

If you want to begin exploring Joe Haldeman’s writing (and we assume you do – why wouldn’t you?!), theres no better place to start than The Forever War.

SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook

 

After that, you’ll want his Gateway Essentials – probably begining with sequels Forever Peace and Forever Free, and then moving on to such gems as the ‘Worlds’ trilogy (Worlds, Worlds Apart and Worlds Enough and Time.), Mindbridge and The Accidental Time Machine.

You can find these and more of Joe Haldeman’s works via his Author page on the SF Gateway website and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

 

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Gateway Essentials: Harlan Ellison

23 February 2017

Harlan Ellison is a multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winning writer and editor. He wrote the script for the hugely popular Star Trek episode, ‘The City on the Edge of Forever’, the Nebula Award-winning novella, ‘A Boy and his Dog’, and many acclaimed stories including ‘Shatterday’ and ‘I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream’. His groundbreaking anthology Dangerous Visions was instrumental in defining the New Wave movement.  He was given the SFWA Grand Master Award in 2005.

For those looking to explore Ellison’s work, Dangerous Visions is the obvious place to start – not only is it an astonishing anthology in its own right, but it gives an insight into his extraordinary ability as an editor.

SF Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook

Dangerous Visions is, though, a collection of other writers’ work, so to get a true flavour of harlan Ellison the writer, we suggest you check out his Gateway Essentials titles – always taking time out to marvel at his extraordinary story titles!

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

 

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