Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Cassini Fly-By

4 July 2017

Regular Readers will know that we’re huge fans of NASA’s remarkable Astronomy Picture of the Day feature (APOD). We encourage anyone interested in astronomy to visit regularly or add it to their RSS feed. And every now and then, the good people at NASA put up something so spectacular that we feel compelled to share it here.

This video of some of the sights seen by the Cassini orbiter was compiled by Chris Abbasusing images from Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA & NASA; Music Credit & License: Ghosts I-IV (Nine Inch Nails.

Enjoy!

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Masterworks Spotlight: The Shape of Things to Come

3 July 2017

Our featured SF Masterwork is a prescient look at mankind’s future from the greatest science fiction writer of them all.

When a diplomat dies in the 1930s, he leaves behind a book of ‘dream visions’ he has been experiencing, detailing events that will occur on Earth for the next two hundred years.

This fictional ‘account of the future’ – in a similar vein to Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men, published three years earlier – proved prescient in many ways, as Wells predicted events such as the Second World War, the rise of chemical warfare and climate change.

 

The Shape of Things to Come is available as an SF Masterworks paperback and an SF Gateway eBook.

 

You can find more of HG Wells’ works 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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Happy Birthday, Dave Duncan!

30 June 2017

Dave Duncan was born in Newport-on-Tay, Scotland on this day in 1933.  He received his diploma from Dundee High School and got his college education at the University of Saint Andrews. He moved to Canada in 1955, where he still lives with his wife. He spent thirty years as a petroleum geologist. He has had dozens of fantasy and science fiction novels published, among them A Rose-Red City, Magic Casement and The Reaver Road, as well as a highly praised historical novel, Daughter of Troy, published, for commercial reasons, under the pseudonym Sarah B. Franklin. He also published the ‘Longdirk’ series of novels, Demon Sword, Demon Knight and Demon Rider, under the name Ken Hood.

For those looking to explore Dave Duncan’s work, we recommend the Gateway Essentials:

The Seventh Sword series –  The Reluctant Swordsman, The Coming of Wisdom and The Destiny of the Sword – and the Man of His Word series: Magic Casement, Faery Lands Forlorn, Perilous Seas and Emperor and Clown.

You can find more of Dave Duncan’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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Gateway Essentials: Harry Turtledove

29 June 2017

Harry Turtledove was born in Los Angeles in 1949, and has a PhD in Byzantine history. He has taught ancient and medieval history at a number of universities including UCLA, and has published a translation of a ninth-century Byzantine chronicle, as well as several scholarly articles. A full-time science fiction writer since 1991, he is best known for his rigorously researched alternative history, such as the classic The Guns of the South, in which the Confederacy wins the American Civil War. Harry Turtledove is married to novelist Laura Frankos, and lives in Los Angeles.

We recommend starting with Roman-soldiers-in-a-fantasy-world novel The Misplaced Legion and then moving on to the alternative history, The Two Georges (co-written with the actor Richard Dreyfuss):

 

You can find more of Harry Turtledove’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: Mark S. Geston

28 June 2017

Mark S. Geston has degrees in history and law and is a practising attorney. His first novel, Lords of the Starship, was published in 1967 while he was still in college, but he has published relatively little since the mid-1970s.

We recommend starting with Lords of the Starship and then moving on to the next in the sequence, Out of the Mouth of the Dragon:

 

You can find more of Mark S. Geston’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 Welcomes the Lensmen – As They Were Meant to Be Seen!

27 June 2017

A few months ago we wished legendary SF cover artist Chris Foss a very happy birthday. Now, we have a present for all who love his art.

We’re delightewd to announce that E E ‘Doc’ Smith‘s classic ‘Lensman’ series is now available in eBook from SF Gateway, adorned with the wonderul Chris Foss covers from their iconic Panther paperback editions (mostly: there were a few titles where the original art was unavailable in high-res form, so we had to substitute other – equally wonderful – Chris Foss art).

The result, as we’re sure you’ll agree, is stunning:

You can find these and more of E E ‘Doc’ Smith’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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On This Day: Julius Schwartz

19 June 2017

On this day in 1915, Julius Schwartz was born in the Bronx, New York City. Throughout his long life, he was a fan, an editor, a literary agent and a giant in the field of comics. If DC Comics had a counterpart to Marvel‘s Stan Lee, that man was Julius Schwartz.

While still in his teens, he met a fellow fan, Mort Weisinger, who would become a lifelong friend and DC colleague, and together they produced what might very well be the first fanzine: The Time Traveller (along with Forrest J. Ackerman, the original ‘super-fan’). Two years later, the two friends founded Solar Sales Service, the first literary agency specifically dedicated to science fiction. Their clients included Alfred Bester, Otto Binder, Manly Wade Wellman – all of whom Weisinger would later recruit to write for DC – Leigh Brackett, Ray Bradbury and John Russell Fearn.

In 1939, Schwartz was one of the organisers of the first Worldcon, in New York.

To butcher a sporting metaphor: if the ref had blown the whistle then, you’d have named Schwartz Man of the Match, and declared him a legend of the game. But this was only half-time . . .

In 1944, Schwartz became an editor at DC Comics. A dozen years later, he spearheaded the reinvention of the superhero comic, moribund since the war, with the publication of Showcase Comics #4, introducing a new, updated Flash (police scientist Barry Allen in place of college student Jay Garrick, for those as nerdy as we are about such things). Similar re-inventions would follow quickly, with Golden Age characters such as Green Lantern and Hawkman losing their mystical origins and gaining new, scientific back stories. In 1961, under Schwartz’s editorship, the DC multiverse was created in the famous story ‘Flash of Two Worlds‘ (Flash #123).

Schwartz retired from DC in 1986, just as Marv Wolfman and George Perez‘s landmark Crisis on Infinite Earths was consolidating his multiverse into a single narrative, but he remained a ‘goodwill ambasador’ and editor emeritus until his death from pneumonia in 2004.

If there could be considered to be a father of the Silver Age of comics, his name would be Julius Schwartz.

Happy Birthday, Julie!

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Happy Birthday, Joe Haldeman!

9 June 2017

Only five authors have won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for the same novel, on two separate occasions: Orson Scott Card, Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. Le Guin (who was the first to achiev it), Connie Willis and the recipient of today’s birthday wishes: Joe Haldeman, the winner of the 1976 Hugo and Nebula Awards for The Forever War and, two decades later, the 1998 Hugo and the 1999 Nebula Awards with Forever Peace.

In total, Haldeman, has won of five Hugo Awards (three for best novel), five Nebulas (three for best novel), a World Fantasy, a James Tiptree Jr Memorial and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award, among many others.

Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War (SF Masterwork paperback | SF Gateway eBook) was the book chosen, back in the dim, barely-remembered years of the 20th century, to launch the SF Masterworks series, Gollancz’s collection of the great milestone novels of 20th science fiction, which is a fitting indication of the high regard in which it’s held. It’s a wonderful book – very much the antithesis to the prevailing wind of pro-war, gung-ho military SF that preceded it – and very much informed by the author’s experiences during his tour of duty in Vietnam.

In The Forever War interstellar travel is effected by “collapsar jumps”, which are subjectively instantaneous but which in fact take many years to accomplish (> Relativity), so that they work as a kind of one-way Time Travel; propelled by this cruel device to temporally distant battle theatres on planet after planet, soldiers are doomed to total alienation from the civilization for which they are fighting, and if they make too large a jump face the risk of coming into battle with antiquated Weapons. Their deracination is savage, their camaraderie cynically manipulated. As a portrait of the experience of Vietnam the book is remarkable; as Military SF it is seminal.

~ from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

But Joe Haldeman is far more than ‘the guy who wrote The Forever War‘ – there’s Mindbridge (Hugo nominated), All My Sins Remembered, The Hemingway Hoax, Camouflage (Nebula and Tiptree winner), The Accidental Time Machine (Nebula nominated), the Carmen Dula sequence (Marsbound, Starbound, Earthbound) and a host of short fiction.

 

Happy Birthday, Joe!

 

You can read about Joe Haldeman in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, and find his work via his Author page on the SF Gateway website.

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Gateway Essentials: John W. Campbell, Jr

8 June 2017

Born in Newark, New Jersey, on this day in 1910, John Wood Campbell, Jr studied physics at MIT and then Duke University. Campbell was a prolific early pulp writer – he made his first sale while still in his teens, was a recognised name in the genre by the time he was 21 and at the age of 28 published the seminal novella Who Goes There?, which has been filmed as The Thing From Antoher World (1951) and The Thing (1982). However, it was as an editor that he is best remembered. In 1937 he was appointed editor of Astounding Stories (now Analog), and over the next few decades would have an enormous influence on the field, more-or-less defining the Golden Age. He continued as editor of Astounding until his death in 1971.

Two awards are given in his honour: the John W Campbell Award for new writers and the John W Campbell Memorial Award for novels.

For those looking to explore Campbell’s work it’s difficult to trecommend starting anywhere other than Who Goes There?, a masterpiece of suspense and paranoia:

 

From there, we recommend his other Gateway Essentials: novels The Mightiest Machine, The Moon is Hell or The Black Star Passes and, of course, collection Cloak of Aesir:

 

You can find more of John W. Campbell’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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Robert Silverberg’s Reflections: June 2017

7 June 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: ‘Advertisements for Myself’
 

Advertisements for Myself is the name of a book of essays, poems, fragments of unfinished novels, and short stories by Norman Mailer, published in 1959, which stirred a considerable bit of attention at the time. It has nothing to do with science fiction, which these columns are ostensibly about, but bear with me a moment.

The book is a perfect example of an ego trip. Mailer’s intention was to demonstrate his achievements as a writer by way of demonstrating his importance as a human being, and, since his achievements as a writer were significant, he did have no small importance as a human being. He wanted everybody to know about it, too. Every selection in the 532-page book is preceded by an “advertisement” in which he explains its value, and, by extension, the value of Norman Mailer as man and writer. He also feels free to do quick profiles of about a dozen of his literary contemporaries, generally in a blunt and acidulous way. (“Salinger is everybody’s favorite. I seem to be alone in finding him no more than the greatest mind ever to stay in prep school.”) (“Kerouac lacks discipline, intelligence, honesty, and a sense of the novel.”) I can’t think of another writer, even a certain highly opinionated science fiction writer renowned for uninhibited speech, who would have committed himself to a set of eviscerations of that sort in a widely distributed book . . .

 

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.

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