Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Yellow Blue Tibia

The book for December / January is Adam Robert's well reviewed Yellow Blue Tibia. I say well reviewed, Kim Stanley Robinson himself said that Yellow Blue Tibia should have been up for the Booker prize. Meanwhile, it was shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke, the John W Campbell, and the British Science Fiction Association prizes instead.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Darwin's Radio

This month's book is Greg Bear's Nebula 2000 winning (and Hugo nominated) novel of human evolution

Amazon.co.uk Review

Greg Bear notoriously reworks traditional SF themes in his own special way. His first success, Blood Music (1985), features an intelligent plague which seems destructive but eventually recreates humanity in new, transcendent form-

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Stars My Destination analysis

Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
And death's my destination.


Gully Foyle is marooned 170 days in space on the wreck of the Nomad with thought or hope other than that of day-to-day survival. None, that is, until a passing ship, the Vorga, spurns his distress signals. In his despair Gully is changed into a driven man, one that will not stop until he has his vengeance on those that left him to die.

Over the course of the story, Gully changes. Initially on the outside from the facial tattoos given him by a lost tribe deep in the asteroid belt, then on the inside as he forces himself to change to achieve his goals. And the final change? Well you will just have to read the story for that one...

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Heinlein's Guide to Successful Writing

  1. You must *write*
  2. You must *finish* what you write.
  3. Having written, you must *submit* what you wrote to someone who might be interested in *buying* it.
  4. You must *keep* submitting until it either sells or has been bounced by every possible market.
  5. You must *not* change what you write, *unless* an editor commits to buying it if you make the requested changes.
An awful lot of folks never get past #2...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


The latest Iain M Banks' Culture novel is out next month. For those who cannot wait, you can read the first chapter of Surface Detail over at the Orbit Books website. It promises to be good.

It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. It begins with a murder. And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.

Kate Wilhelm's Sweet Birds: How protecting a species can endanger it

"The musical, measured Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, by Kate Wilhelm — which won the Hugo in 1977 — is an artful admixture of clones and poetry, with a message that'll never get old... Anyway, let me tell you about the book."

You can read the full article by Josh Wimmer about this intriguing book at the io9 website. I've not read the book yet, but I shall now be on the lookout.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Stars My Destination

The book for this month is Alfred Bester's classic 1956 novel of revenge. Set in the 25th century, it stars Gully Foyle, a worthless, talentless waster who yet somehow survives for more than six months marooned in space after his ship is destroyed. It needs a passing ship to ignore his cries for help to galvanise him into doing something about his situation: he must get back to Earth and wreak his vengeance on those who left him to die.

Originally published in Britain under the title Tiger! Tiger!, The Stars My Destination and Bester's 1953 Hugo winning The Demolished Man influenced both the New Wave SF of the 60s and the Cyberpunk revolution of the 70s.

There are not many SF books that can remain undated after more than 50 years, but The Stars My Destination is one.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Monday, 6 September 2010

Hugo Awards 2010 - A Review Of 2009

Mark Slater's review of science fiction and fantasy in 2009 and introduction to the Hugo Awards 2010

Sunday, 5 September 2010

2010 Hugo Award Winners

Designed by/Photo: Nick Stathopoulos
The results are in from Aussiecon4, and they make interesting reading. It was predictable that the best novel was novel was going to be one of The City & The City, The Windup Girl, and Boneshaker, with the first winning the Arthur C Clark award, the second the Nebula and the third "only" a US steampunk zombie story, it was going to be between China Miéville and Paolo Bacigalupi.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Judge Minty: Taking Law to the Lawless

I have been a Judge Dredd fan for a long time (ie back to issue 3 of 2000AD) and was horribly disappointed by the Stallone / Hollywood treatment back in 1995. I am rather interested that there is a fan film in the making that looks to go back to the source material and beyond to the story concept itself: the police maintain the law through public consent, but if there is no consent then how do you maintain the law?

Monday, 9 August 2010

Dr Who in Springfield

It had to happen. OK, maybe it didn't, but I am glad that it did. Did that make any sense? Maybe sentences can be swirly wirly timy wimy as well. Maybe...

Yes, Dr Who has been Simpsonised thanks to Springfield Punx, and it is looking good.


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Dispatches from a Troubled City: Art Inspired by the Works of China Mieville

You can see a host of most excellent China Mieville inspired artwork collected together at the SuperPunch website:


Monday, 26 July 2010

Anathem reactions

The responses to Neal Stephenson's epic masterpiece are many and varied. Here are just a few.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Firefly: The Credits Sequence It Deserved!

The happy Geeks over at io9 have come up with a suggested title sequence for the greatest cancelled SF show of all time. The question is, would dropping the cowboys in space intro saved it from Fox?

What do you think?

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Unseen Academicals – a book review

by Terry Pratchett

Sir Terry Pratchett’s 37th Discworld book is about football and the important thing about football is that it is not just about football. Yes, there is football in the book, whether the medieval violent scrum with optional ball, or the more modern game with compulsory ball and optional violence; but there is also love, passion (not always the same thing), pathos, and satire.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Theatre of Cruelty - A Discworld short story by Terry Pratchett

Copyright © Terry Pratchett 1993
It was a fine summer morning, the kind to make a man happy to be alive. And probably the man would have been happier to be alive. He was, in fact, dead. It would be hard to be deader without special training.

"Well, now," said Sergeant Colon (Ankh-Morpork City Guard, Night Watch), consulting his notebook, "so far we have cause of death as a) being beaten with at least one blunt instrument b) being strangled with a string of sausages and c) being savaged by at least two animals with big sharp teeth. What do we do now, Nobby?"

Neil Gaiman wins Carnegie Medal

Following on from winning the Hugo award and Newbery Medal, Neil Gaiman's 'The Graveyard Book' has now won the Carnegie Medal, the UK's foremost award for children's literature.

Inspired by the sight of seeing his own two-year-old son riding his tricycle round gravestones, 'The Graveyard Book' is the story of a young boy brought up in the quiet and comfort of a cemetery, safe from the dangers of the outside world.

Gaiman once said that it was only because of his established reputation that publishers even considered a childrens' book opening with a serial killer at work. Only in a Gaiman story could the dead and undead be more human than the living. In the words of the Carnegie judges: "'The Graveyard Book ... manages to mix extreme creepiness with gentle humour. ... We felt the book was intriguing, it's very atmospheric and it has an extremely satisfying ending."

Friday, 25 June 2010

Doctor Who The Big Bang preview trailer plus Stephen Moffat interview

Apparently this professional looking trailer is fan-made, though it is hard to believe.  Enjoy

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Terry Pratchett returning to SF with Stephen Baxter

(c) Terry Pratchett
After many decades of writing the extremely successful Discworld books, Terry Pratchett is collaborating with Stephen Baxter to write a new science fiction novel: The Long Earth.

"I thought to myself [Discworld] is fantasy, and I want to get back to my first love, which is science fiction" (Guardian Interview)

Monday, 21 June 2010

Guards! Guards!

While Terry Pratchett had already published ten books, Guards! Guards! the 8th Discworld book is the one where he first realises the art of art of “serious comedy”. His previous books had mostly been clever satires on fantasy clichés and popular culture, but with Guard! Guards! we see the flowering of his ability to write about dark subjects yet make laugh-out-loud jokes without belittling the seriousness of the subject. It is true that he more fully realises the technique in his later instalments of the Night Watch series, but it starts here.

Monday, 14 June 2010

The spaces in between - The City and The City

The City & the CityHow does one review a book that is a mystery set in a city that is, at its heart, also a mystery? Where the author hides and obfuscates; only slowly revealing what a strange framework the characters walk in? As obligation demands that one does not reveal too much, the answer must be “carefully”.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

SFBK reading plan

OK, this may seem a little geeky (and why not), but I have been analysing our reading list to date. The books that we have read so far (including the three planned for the next few sessions) are as follows:

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Doctor Who shocker

If you want to conduct the Doctor Who theme tune, it seems all you need is a couple of Tesla coils and 500,000 volts.  You could say that it is an electrifying performance...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Neil Gaiman meets Dr Who

The rumours excitedly circulating the blogosphere have finally been confirmed: Neil Gaiman has written (and delivered) a Doctor Who story for the next series.

Mieville on The City & The City

This month's book is China Mieville's award winning and rather strange police proceedual set in twin eastern european citys. Actually, all his books are strange; it would be strange if they were not. Here China himself discusses his work

Monday, 24 May 2010

Three Science Fiction Writing Exercises

Since many of you who visit website are also science fiction authors yourselves, I thought it might be fun to offer a few writing exercises to help get your creative juices flowing. Instead of focusing on a plot or a character, here are a few things that you can develop that might exist within your story.

Monday, 17 May 2010

The City & The City

The City & The Cityby China Miéville

When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

2010 Nebula Awards winners

The SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) have announced their 2009 award winners.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Lester Dent Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot

A History of the Doc Savage Adventures in Pulps, Paperbacks, Comics, Fanzines, Radio and FilmThis is a formula, a master plot, for any 6000 word pulp story. It has worked on adventure, detective, western and war-air. It tells exactly where to put everything. It shows definitely just what must happen in each successive thousand words.

No yarn of mine written to the formula has yet failed to sell.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

A coalition of equals

Our next meeting is in a week's time (which is a long time in politics) and will be at David's house. We will, of course, be officially discussing The Forever War, but I suspect the forever election may crop up as well.

Mindful that we have a number of postal members that we should not disenfranchise, I have some suggestions for the coming months that we might discuss in advance.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Who will win the Hugo or Nebula?

This year there are six books up for the Nebula award for best novel and likewise six books for the Hugo best novel, making not twelve, but nine books in total.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Forever War

In the not so far future, William Mandella is young, fit, smart, and conscripted to fight an unknown enemy in deep space. Due to the relativistic speeds involved, Mandella and his fellow survivors return to a society they are no longer a part of. With every mission the estrangement grows greater; Mandella fights for a humanity he is no longer a part of, and he does not know why.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Why read Starship Troopers?

“What would I have left out? The Asimovs and Heinleins, certainly, since in completely different ways they did much to distract everyone from the idea that science fiction should be written well. (This is a personal view – the consensus of the SF world is against me.)
Christopher Priest, Forward to 100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels

Starship Troopers is an undoubtedly right-wing in its politics and unashamedly militaristic in outlook but it is also one of the finest coming-of-age stories in SF, a narrative that follows Johnnie Rico’s rites of passage with the kind of detail and empathy that can be appreciated even by those readers to whom Heinlein’s politics and philosophy remain an anathema.”
Stephen E. Andrews and Nick Rennison, 100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels

“[Heinlein] forgot to insert a story.”
Anthony Boucher, founder of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

Sunday, 11 April 2010

2009 BSFA Award Winners

The 2009 British Science Fiction Awards ceremony took place at the 61st Eastercon convention, Odyssey 2010, at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow, London, UK. The ceremony was hosted by Ian Watson and Donna Scott, and the following awards were presented:

Sweet Charity

Yesterday was a good hunting day in those sometimes rich fields of the Great British Charity Shop. They are, admittedly, full of literary chaff: the Dan Browns and the Geoffrey Archers speak loudly of the triumph of marketing over substance; the airport thrillers nestle shoulder to shoulder with the holiday romances. Read once and then discarded like the throwaway characters they contain.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

2009 Nebula Award Nominations

The Nebula Awards® are annual awards presented by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America to celebrate excellence in science fiction and fantasy writing.

SFWA also presents the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement, Andre Norton Award for best young adult SF and Fantasy, Bradbury Award for best dramatic presentation, Solstice Award for significance to the SF field, and honours senior writers as Authors Emeriti.

The 2009 Nebula Awards will be announced and presented at the 2010 Nebula Awards Weekend. This will be held on May 14-16 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. If you would like to go, there is more information on the Nebula Awards website.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

SF [alternative] Glossary

A foreigner, needing either a green skin and boggle eyes, or a passport and visa
A forgetful princess
Sleeping Beauty’s real name
Artificial Gravity
(1) a useful technology popular in Space Opera that stops the characters turning into jam under the high accelerations needed to keep the storylines down to a 1-hour format
(2) SF that is not as serious as it thinks it is

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

2010 Hugo Award Nominations

Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention, has announced the ballot for the 2010 Hugo Awards.

Best Novel
  • Boneshaker, Cherie Priest (Tor)
  • The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK)
  • Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America, Robert Charles Wilson (Tor)
  • Palimpsest, Catherynne M. Valente (Bantam Spectra)
  • Wake, Robert J. Sawyer (Ace; Penguin; Gollancz; Analog)
  • The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Dr Who and the Easter Eggs

The waiting is nearly over. The new Dr Who series will start in the UK on April 3rd (Americans will have to wait until the 17th and Australians the 18th) with the new Doctor (Matt Smith), new assistant Amy Pond (Karen Gillian), new Tardis interior (the last Doctor didn’t leave it in very good condition), new chief writer (Steven Moffat) and new story (The Eleventh Hour). There may be some other new stuff as well...

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Military SF Double Bill

This month and next we are embarking on a award-winning military SF double bill (it is difficult to think of a greater contrast to Moominvalley): Starship Troopers for April followed by The Forever War for May.

Robert Heinlein's Hugo winning Starship Troopers is still controversial 50 years after its release. It is a right-wing, might-is-right, military service is the measure of the man product of the post-war American dream. That said, it is also a cracking good read. You had best avoid the films though...

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

SFBK Science Fiction Book Club: The Genres of Speculative Fiction


Book List Archive

Wow, we are now onto our 26th book: The Fountains of Paradise. I must admit it is one of my favourites (accurate technological predictions though far of the mark on spirituality) and has been a great influence on my interest in Astrotechtonics. I am now waiting for NASA to turn the Science Fiction into Science Fact

As a record, I have been listing all our books on an Amazon List: SFBK-Science-Fiction-Book-Club with 1066 viewings at time or writing. With this latest book I have run out of space and had to start a new one, which you can find at SFBK-Science-Fiction-Book-Club-2.

Watch this space!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

The Doctor is dead; Long live the Doctor

David Tennant's tenancy of Doctor Who is finally, and sadly, over. He was possibly the best Doctor; if not, then a close second to Tom Baker. The question on every Who fans' lips is: will Matt Smith fill those running shoes?