Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Happy Birthday, Chris Foss!

16 March 2017

Today is the future’s birthday. Well, not quite, but for SF fans of a certain vintage, one name is synonymous with the look of the future – at least, the look of the spaceships of the future – and that name is Chris Foss.

We recommend you go have a look at Paul McAuley’s post about spaceships on 1970s British SF Paperback covers for an erudite view of the art of Chris Foss (and others!). You should also stop by Alastair Reynoldsblog for his take on the importance of Chris Foss to British SF in general and to Al’s induction into it, in particular. As a card-carrying Chris Foss fanboy, I’d agree with Al on both the allure of a Foss cover and the fact that knowing what was depicted on the cover was vanishingly unlikely to appear between the covers was so much less important than the sheer sense of wonder Foss evoked.

On numerous occasions I’ve written about James Blish‘s The Testament of Andros and its stunning cover – classic Foss – but the cover that burns brightest in my mind is probably still Foundation. Do any of the scenes depicted on Foss’s wonderful triptych of covers for the Foundation trilogy actually happen in the books? No. No, they don’t. Does that matter? No. No, it doesn’t. Did those covers with their magnificent spaceships – all rivets and visible panels and patches of colour – hanging suspended in glorious disbelief in the aether make my pick up a book whether I’d heard of the author or not? Hell, yes!

It’s now almost two years since Chris Foss was Artist Guest of Honour at London’s Worldcon, and where I was lucky enough to meet him and enjoy a brief conversation. And I do not care even a jot if it marks me out as an incredible nerd that, having purchased a print of his classic Foundation Trilogy triptych – upon which he added an original pencil sketch and a signature – I then bounced back to the Gollancz table, babbling semi-coherently and showing off my new purchase like a schoolboy.

 

Yes, of course I’m supposed to be a grown man and a publishing professional BUT IT’S CHRIS FOSS! The day I stop being excited to meet a living legend is the day I have no place calling myself an SF fan.

 

Happy birthday, Chris – and thanks for the future!

 

Reposted almost unchanged from 2016. Why? Because it’s Chris Foss’s birthday again and we REALLY love his artwork!

Comments: Comments Off on Happy Birthday, Chris Foss!

Gateway Essentials: JT McIntosh

14 March 2017

J. T. McIntosh was the pseudonym used by Scottish writer and journalist James Murdoch MacGregor, under which all of his SF writing appeared (with the exception of a single story). Born in Paisley, Scotland, in 1925, he began publishing science fiction in 1950 with ‘The Curfew Tolls’, which appeared in John W. Campbell‘s Astounding Science Fiction magazine. His first novel, World Out of Mind, appeared three years later, and he continued to write novels of interest over the next decade and a half, but ceased publishing work after 1980. He died in 2008.

If you’re looking for a place to start, we recommend you start where he did, with debut novel World Out of Mind:

They had conquered Mars. Earth was next.

And in the council chambers at Washington, Earth’s leaders gathered to face the peril.

Mars had gone down to defeat in one hour and thirty-four minutes. And now a fleet of creatures from outer space was headed towards Earth.

All eyes turned to Eldin Raigmore, President of the United States – the one man to be trusted above all others. One by one the elite were dispatched on missions of last-minute strategy. They went with confidence, inspired by the swift, sure mind of Raigmore.

Civilization rested in his hands. And he was a secret member of the invader race!

 

You can find more of J T McIntosh’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
Comments: Comments Off on Gateway Essentials: JT McIntosh

Happy Birthday, Alastair Reynolds!

13 March 2017

Today we wish a very happy birthday to one of the greats of modern space opera, Alastair Reynolds.

As well as being a marvellous writer in his own right, Al is also a great champion of classic SF. His debut novel, Revelation Space recently joined the SF Masterworks list, and he wrote the introductions to both volumes of our Masterworks editions of Gene Wolfe‘s masterpiece The Book of the New Sun (Shadow & Claw | Sword & Citadel). Here is talking about the series as part of Gollancz’s 50th anniversary celebrations:

 

and here is is – about 45 seconds in – talking about Algis Budrys‘s Rogue Moon:

 

 
Alastair Reynolds: bestselling author, tireless champion of classic SF, gentleman, scholar.

 

Happy Birthday, Al!

Comments: Comments Off on Happy Birthday, Alastair Reynolds!

Gateway Essentials: John T. Sladek

10 March 2017

John Sladek was born in Iowa in 1937 but moved to the UK in 1966, where he became involved with the British New Wave movement, centred on Michael Moorcock‘s groundbreaking New Worlds magazine. Sladek began writing SF with ‘The Happy Breed’, which appeared in Harlan Ellison‘s seminal anthology Dangerous Visions in 1967, and is now recognized as one of SF’s most brilliant satirists. His 1980 novel, Roderick, was shortlisted for the Philip K. Dick Award, and 1883’s Tik Tok – a dark satire about a robot unconstrained by Asimov’s Three Laws – was shortlisted for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and won the BSFA Award.  After twenty years in the UK, Sladek  returned to the United States in 1986, and died there in March 2000.

For those looking for a place to start, we have just the thing: the Gateway Essentials!

 

You can find these and other works by John T. Sladek via his Author page on the SF Gateway website and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

 

Comments: Comments Off on Gateway Essentials: John T. Sladek

Gateway Essentials: Pat Murphy

9 March 2017

Today is the birthday of Nebula, Philip K. Dick, Theodore Sturgeon and World Fantasy Award-winning author Pat Murphy!

Pat Murphy is probably best-known for her Nebula Award-winning The Falling Woman:

Fantasy Masterworks paperback | SF Gateway eBook

But she is also the author of a well-regarded body of work, going back over forty years to her first published story ‘No Mother Near’, which appeared in the October 1975 issue of Galaxy. Some of Murphy’s best short fiction is collected in Points of Departure, and those interested in exploring her work further would also be well advised to read her post-apocalyptic SF novel, The City, Not Long After.

We’ve written about Pat Murphy a number of times but for the best overview of her work and career on this site, you should proceed immediately to Kev McVeigh’s second ‘From the Attic’ article.

Happy Birthday, Pat!

 

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

Comments: Comments Off on Gateway Essentials: Pat Murphy

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.

 

Comments: Comments Off on Gateway Essentials: Frank Herbert

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.

Comments: Comments Off on Masterworks Spotlight: The First Men in the Moon

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.

Comments: Comments Off on Masterworks Spotlight: The Time Machine

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
Comments: Comments Off on On This Day: James Doohan was Born

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
Comments: Comments Off on Gateway Essentials: Raymond F. Jones
1 2 3 4 5 106