Thoughts from the SF Gateway

Gateway Essentials: Sir Fred Hoyle

12 April 2017

Born in 1915 in Yorkshire, Sir Fred Hoyle was one of Britian’s most renowned astronomers, noted primarily for the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis (for which many think he ought to have won the Nobel Prize for Physics) and his often controversial stances on other scientific matters – in particular his rejection of the Big Bang Theory, a term coined by him on BBC radio. He has authored hundreds of technical articles, as well as textbooks, popular accounts of science and two autobiographies. In addition to his work as an astronomer, Hoyle was a writer of science fiction, including a number of books co-written with his son Geoffrey Hoyle. Hoyle spent most of his working life at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge and served as its director for a number of years. He was knighted in 1972 and died in Bournemouth, England, after a series of strokes.

If you’re looking for a place to start with Fred Hoyle’s fiction, we recommend his Gateway Essentials: a966’s  timeslip novel October the First is Too Late or storu collection Element 79 (1967).

 

You can find more of Fred Hoyle’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: Terry Carr

7 April 2017

Terry Gene Carr was born in Oregon in 1937. An enthusiastic publisher of fanzines since his early teens, Carr was nominated for the Hugo for Best Fanzine five times, winning in 1959, and for Best Fan Writer three times, winning in 1973. Despite a distinguished career in professional publishing, he continued to participate in fandom throughout his life. He produced three novels but it is as an editor that he made his reputation – first at Ace and then in a freelance capacity. He initiated the long-running and influential ‘Universe‘ series of original anthologies and, from 1972 to 1987, produced The Best Science Fiction of the Year compilations, widely regarded as being the best of the annual showcase collections. He was nominated thirteen times for the Hugo Award for Best Editor, winning twice. He died on this day in April 1987, of congestive heart failure.

Obviously, the best way to appreciate such an influential editor is to track down and read some of the anthologies for which he was responsible. As we can’t help you with that, we offer the next best thing: his best novel, Cirque: A Novel of the Far Future (1977), a religious allegory set in the Far Future.

Millennia in the future, Earth has become a backwater planet, ignored by others in the galaxy. Its one jewel is Cirque – the city on the Abyss, a city of love and harmony, with inspiring religious rites.

But in the Abyss there lives the Beast, formed from the castoff hates of the Cirquians: a beast whose body is refuse, whose mind is black as sin. Feeble weapons are no match for the Beast.

And now, after centuries, it’s climbing out of the Abyss to claim its own . . .

 

You can find Terry Carr’s novels 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: Isaac Asimov

6 April 2017

The great Isaac Asimov died twenty-five years ago today, in New York.

He was a compelling science writer and a hugely important science fiction writer. Along with fellow greats Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein, he was one of The Big Three, to whom so many modern writers owe at least a smidgen of influence.

He wrote The Gods Themselves, which appears on the SF Masterworks list, as well as countless classics whcih . . . well . .  don’t, such as the Foundation sequence, I Robot, The Caves of Steel, Nightfall – the list goes on.

If you’d like to know more – and we’re sure you do! – then we heartily recommend reading The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction‘s entry on the great man. And then, of course, reading some of his books.

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Gateway Essentials: Douglas Hill

5 April 2017

Douglas Arthur Hill was a Canadian science fiction author, editor and reviewer. Born in Brandon, Manitoba, in 1935, the son of a railroad engineer, he was raised in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He studied English at the University of Saskatchewan, where he earned an Honours BA in 1957, and at the University of Toronto. Hill moved to Britain with his wife, Gail Robinson, in 1959, where he worked as a freelance writer and editor for Aldus Books. From 1967 to 1968 he served as Assistant Editor of the controversial New Worlds science fiction magazine under Michael Moorcock.

Most of Hill’s output fell into the area of of Children’s SF and what we might now call Young Adult, and we have selected the best of these as his Gateway Essentials:

 

You can find these and more of Douglas Hill’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: Michael Scott Rohan

4 April 2017

In the middle of last week, we let you know about the exciting news that a roleplaying game of Michael Scott Rohan’s Winter of the World series had been develeoped and is now available. That is, of course, excellent news for those of you who know and love the Winter of the World series, but what about everyone else?

In a rhetorical manoeuvre that hitherto undiscovered tribes in the Peruvian Andes will have seen coming: we’re glad you asked!

Born in Edinburgh in 1951, Michael Scott Rohan has written both fantasy and science fiction. Whilst studying law at Oxford, Rohan joined the SF group and met the president, Allan J Scott, who started him writing for the group’s semi-professional magazine SFinx alongside names such as Robert Holdstock and Ian Watson. His first novel, Run to the Stars, was published in 1983 and he collaborated with Allan J Scott on The Hammer and the Cross, a non-fiction account of how Christianity arrived in Viking lands. Rohan is best known for his acclaimed The Winter of the World sequence, an epic fantasy set in an ice-bound world.

Volume one of The Winter of the World is the acclaimed The Anvil of Ice, which available as a Fantasy Masterworks paperback and a Gateway eBook.

The chronicles of The Winter of the World echo down the ages in half-remembered myth and song – tales of mysterious powers of the Mastersmiths, of the forging of great weapons, of the subterranean kingdoms of the duergar, of Gods who walked abroad, and of the Powers that struggled endlessly for dominion.

In the Northlands, beleaguered by the ever-encroaching Ice and the marauding Ekwesh, a young cowherd, saved from the raiders by the mysterious Mastersmith, discovers in himself an uncanny power to shape metal – but it is a power that may easily be turned to evil ends, and on a dreadful night he flees his new home, and embarks on the quest to find both his own destiny, and a weapon that will let him stand against the Power of the Ice.

His wanderings will bring him great friends but earn him greater enemies, and eventually they will transform him from lowly cowherd to a mastersmith fit to stand with the greatest of all men.

 

The series continues across another five titles – all available as Gateway eBooks – which we’ve selected as Michael Scott Rohan’s Gateway Essentials:

 

You can find more of Michael Scott Rohan’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: April 2017

3 April 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: ‘Two Cheers for Piltdown Man’

Science used to be a lot simpler when I was a boy, back in the days when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. The atom was made up of just three particles – the proton, the electron, and the neutron – plus the neutron was a ghostly particle that existed in theory but which nobody seemed able to find. As for the evolution of the human race, the story began with Java Man, Pithecanthropus erectus, the first primitive hominid that was more like a man than an ape, and continued on through a handful of other fossil species – basically, just Peking Man, Heidelberg Man, and Piltdown Man – to our extinct cousin, Neanderthal Man, and eventually down to us, Homo sapiens, the only extant human species . . .

 

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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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.

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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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