Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Millions Guide to the Nebulas

"The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is a curious group, though given that they’re a writers’ guild, curious is par for the course. Gathering together scribblers from two related but nevertheless distinct disciplines under one umbrella seems like a holdover from a less genre-friendly time, when artists like these needed to band together for strength and comfort. After all, when the Edgar Awards come out every year, it’s under the aegis of the Mystery Writers of America; that’s it, just mystery.

But the SFWA are a welcoming bunch, nevertheless, handing out their Nebula Award in recent years to everyone from crackerjack dreamweavers like Neil Gaiman (the mainstream dark fantasy American Gods in 2002 and the fey nightmare Coraline in 2003) to once-mainstream writers gone gleefully genre like Michael Chabon (his brilliantly imagined counterfactual-cum-detective novel The Yiddish Policeman’s Union in 2007). Time will tell if the last decade’s batch of winners will hold up to scrutiny like those in its first decade, when the Nebula was passed out to Frank Herbert’s Dune, Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, and Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, three foundational works in 20th century science fiction.

There are six novels nominated for this year’s Nebula Award, which will be announced May 19th. They cover the future, the present, and the indefinable. They feature shy faeries, magicians who wield bugs like weapons, and a postapocalyptic steampunk traveling circus. What they don’t do much of is splash about in that shallow, mucky pool of vampire/alien/cop/erotica/fallen angel serial potboilers (new variations ever-spinning off as though generated by some genre virus) being snapped up by ever more readers. Only two of the six Nebula nominees are series books, the rest are novel-novels – left to live or die on their own, no cliffhangers to entice you back."


Friday, 4 May 2012

Bruce Sterling - Cities under stress

Check out cyberpunk author Bruce Stirling writing on the Arup website

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Sparrow

The book for March is Mary Doria Russell's debut novel about first contact with Aliens, which is by Jesuits.

From the Amazon review:
This strange, ambitious science fiction novel has already won enough attention for its first-time author to make it a selection by both the Book of the Month and QPB clubs. Father Emilio Sandoz, a Jesuit linguist, heads a team of scientists and explorers on an expedition to the planet Rakhat, where contact has been established with two apparently primitive races, the Runa and the Jana'ata. The narrative shifts back and forth between 2016, when contact is first made, and 2060, to a Vatican inquest interrogating the maimed and broken Sandoz. A palaeoanthropologist, Russell makes the descriptions of the inhabitants of Rakhat both convincing and unsettling.

and from Wikipedia:
The Sparrow
(1996) is the first novel by author Mary Doria Russell. It won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, James Tiptree, Jr. Award, Kurd-LaƟwitz-Preis and the British Science Fiction Association Award. It was followed by a sequel, Children of God, in 1998. The title refers to Matthew 10:29-31, which relates that not even a sparrow falls to the earth without God's knowing of it.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Every Doctor Who Story 1963 to Now

An video from Babelcolour detailing every Doctor Who adventure from 'An Unearthly Child' in 1963 right up to 'The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe' Christmas Special. But remember, there are still 106 episodes missing from the BBC archives (these have been represented in this video by way of either small surviving clips or reconstructions).

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang

The book choice for February is 'Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang' by Kate Wilhelm. The book won the Hugo for Best Novel in 1977. I'm box ticking here - female author (following earlier discussions about not having read very many), not too long (so those of us who haven’t finished Imajica yet can do!) and a favourite genre of mine (post-apocalyptic sci-fi), plus it has some still contemporary themes (ecology and cloning).

Blurb from back of book: “The Sumner family can read the signs: the droughts and floods, the blighted crops, the shortages, the rampant diseases and plagues, and, above all, the increasing sterility all point to one thing. Their isolated farm in the Appalachian Mountains gives them the ideal place to survive the coming breakdown, and their wealth and know-how gives them the means. Men and women must clone themselves for humanity to survive. But what then?”

Happy reading

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


The book for October is Philip K Dick's theological SF work VALIS. Published just a year before his death in 1982, it is about Horselover Fat (who as author surrogate both is and is not Dick) and his experience of God.

Philip K Dick (1928-82) was described by The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction as ‘one of the two or three most important figures in 20th century US SF’. Over his career he wrote more than 50 books, won the Hugo for ‘The Man in the High Castle’, the BSFA award for A Scanner Darkly’, and had his work made into a number of major Hollywood films (Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, Paycheck, A Scanner Darkly, The Adjustment Bureau, etc)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

2011 Hugo results

The votes have been counted, the tuxedos pressed, and the 2011 Hugo rockets presented to the deserving. But who were they?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Where are we now? A Greenbelt 2011 talk by Simon Morden

Blue Pill – Red Pill

I like the film The Matrix. And yes, it is a shame they never made any sequels. In The Matrix, a young computer hacker called Neo starts to realise that reality isn’t quite what it’s supposed to be. He ends up being offered a choice by Morpheus.

“You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

I’m going to offer the writers in the audience a similar choice: you can listen to what I have to say, and decide it’s not for you. You’ll wake up tomorrow, and the world won’t have changed. Or you can decide I’m on to something here – and it could end up changing everything.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

A Total Lunar Eclipse Over Tajikistan

OK, it's not science fiction, but the thought that it was a magical event.

This is an extremely cool video of a total lunar eclipse over Tajikistan

Latest Dr Who trailers

The BBC have released the trailer for episodes 8 - 13 of the current series and it is looking good

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Curse of Chalion

This month’s book (well, this month and next) is Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Curse of Chalion. It won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and was nominated for the Hugo, Locus Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards, subsequently vindicated with the sequel Paladin of Souls, which won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards for best novel. Bujold has actually won the Hugo four times (a record only beaten by Robert Heinlein), Locus three times and the Nebula twice with her novels, making her one of the most feted SF&F authors.