Ambiguity Machines: An Examination April 29, 2015 Ambiguity Machines: An Examination Vandana Singh A test for Junior Navigators of Conceptual Machine-Space. The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn April 22, 2015 The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn Usman Malik He will inherit the Unseen. The Ways of Walls and Words April 15, 2015 The Ways of Walls and Words Sabrina Vourvoulias Can the spirit truly be imprisoned? Ballroom Blitz April 1, 2015 Ballroom Blitz Veronica Schanoes Can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't stop smoking, can't even die.
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April 30, 2015
The Folklore Origins of The Avengers
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Five Books Where Music is Practically a Character
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Message Fiction: Politics in Sci-Fi and Fantasy Literature
The G
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5 Extremely Accurate Predictions For Star Trek Beyond
Ryan Britt
April 22, 2015
Daredevil, Catholicism, and the Marvel Moral Universe
Leah Schnelbach
Mon
Apr 27 2015 11:50am

Landing The Apollo Quartet

Ian Sales All That Outer Space Allows

Having lifted off in mid-2012 with Adrift on the Sea of Rains, achieved orbit by way of both The Eye with Which the Universe Beholds Itself and Then Will the Great Ocean Wash Deep Above in 2013, Ian Sales’ BSFA Award-winning Apollo Quartet is to land at long last later this week with the release of All That Outer Space Allows, the saga’s novel-length finale.

It is 1965 and Ginny Eckhardt is a science fiction writer. She’s been published in the big science fiction magazines and is friends with many of the popular science fiction authors of the day. Her husband, Walden, has just been selected by NASA as one of the New Nineteen Apollo astronauts... which means Ginny will be a member of the Astronaut Wives Club.

Although the realities of spaceflight fascinate Ginny, her gender bars her from the United State space programme. Her science fiction offers little in the way of consolation—but perhaps there is something she can do about that...

[Read More]

Wed
Apr 8 2015 12:30pm

Announcing the 2014 BSFA Award Winners

Did someone say science fiction prize?

Someone did! But to be sure, it wouldn’t do, in the wake of this morning’s announcement of the shortlist for this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award, to forget the British Science Fiction Association’s assortment of awards, the winners of which were unveiled at a ceremony held at Dysprosium, aka Eastercon, on Sunday.

[Read More]

Wed
Apr 8 2015 7:15am

Announcing the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist

With award season upon us and already feasting like the beast it can be, it shouldn’t shock anyone that this morning saw the announcement of the six novels shortlisted for what has been described as the UK’s “most prestigious science fiction prize.”

“The Arthur C. Clarke Award is given for the best science fiction novel first published in the United Kingdom during the previous year.” The contenders this year include:

  • The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey (Orbit)
  • The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (Canongate)
  • Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)
  • Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta (HarperVoyager)
  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (Orbit)
  • Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel (Picador)

[Read more...]

Wed
Apr 1 2015 7:00am

There’s Not Been Enough of Samuel R. Delany

Samuel R. DelanySamuel Delany was born in New York on April 1st 1942, which makes today his seventy-third birthday. Happy birthday, Chip!

I could write a considered post about Delany’s significance to the field, but I’m just too enthusiastic about his work to do it in a properly calm way. Delany’s just one of the best writers out there, and he always has been, from his emergence with The Jewels of Aptor (1962) and The Fall of the Towers. (1963-5) to last year’s Through The Valley of the Nest of Spiders. His major work—Babel 17 (1966) (post), The Einstein Intersection (1967), Nova (1968) (post), Dhalgren (1974) (post), Tales of Neveryon (1975), Triton (1976) and Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984) (post)—is right at the top of what science fiction has ever achieved.

[Read more]

Wed
Mar 25 2015 9:45am

Announcing Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson

Europe in Autumn Dave Hutchison

Europe in Autumn was among my favourite books of 2014. An “awesome concoction of sci-fi and spies,” I called it in the spring, that reminded me of “John le Carré meets Christopher Priest.”

What I didn’t know then, and what has only deepened my appreciation of Dave Hutchinson’s tremendous debut, is how incredibly prescient it would prove. When the summer came and went, and with it the Scottish Independence Referendum, the separatist prospect it posited—of a world in which “pocket nations” proliferate— suddenly seemed real. All too real, to tell the truth. That said, if this is the way we’re headed, then I’d rather know what’s to be expected before we get there.

Ask and ye shall receive, it seems! Because there’s more where Europe in Autumn came from—much more, according to Hutchinson. To wit, today, it gives me immeasurable pleasure to reveal the cover art and a few key details about the surprise sequel: Europe at Midnight.

[Read More]

Tue
Mar 17 2015 11:30am

Margaret Atwood’s Heart Goes Last

The Heart Goes Last Margaret Atwood

Per The Bookseller, which clearly doesn’t care enough to count The Penelopiad, it’s been fifteen years since Margaret Atwood’s last new standalone novel—the Man Booker Prize-winning The Blind Assassin—so for those folks who didn’t dig the MaddAddam saga, the long wait is almost over, as this autumn Bloomsbury plans to publish The Heart Goes Last.

A “wickedly funny and deeply disturbing” story set in the near future, The Heart Goes Last “combines the powerful irony of The Handmaid’s Tale with the wicked playfulness of The Edible Woman,” and, according to Bloomsbury’s editor-in-chief Alexandra Pringle, represents the author “at the tip top of her form—stylish, witty, dark and delicious.”

[Read More]

Tue
Mar 17 2015 9:00am

The Joy of the Journey: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Self-published in the wake of a successful Kickstarter campaign before being picked up by a traditional genre fiction imprint, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet makes its move into the mainstream this month: a real rollercoaster of a path to market I urge you to ride when it arrives.

Not for nothing did the Kitschies shortlist this progressive piece de resistance. Imagine smashing the groundbreaking, breathtaking science fiction of Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch saga against the salty space opera of The Expanse; The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet lacks the wall-to-wall action of that latter, and some of the former’s finesse, yes—nevertheless, Becky Chambers’ debut is a delight.

[Read More]

Mon
Mar 16 2015 4:00pm

Call and Response: The Glorious Angels by Justina Robson

Glorious Angels Justina Robson

Mixing science fiction and fantasy with elements of horror and erotica, as well as the weird, The Glorious Angels is Justina Robson’s first non tie-in novel since Down to the Bone—the conclusion of the Quantum Gravity quintet—fully four years ago. I don’t mind admitting that I had high hopes it would represent a return to form for the oft award-nominated author, but despite its dizzying ambition and a few glimmers of brilliance, to be blunt, it doesn’t. A syrupy slow opening sees to that from the start.

The first few hundred pages of Robson’s cross-genre odyssey take place in Glimshard, a magnificent city of crystalline stems and spires at the very tip of which sits the Empress Shamuit Torada, who has in her infinite wisdom waged a war of sorts against the Karoo, a strange and essentially alien race “from so far away they were considered beyond civilisation, as elusive as the two-headed wolf of legend,” and at least as dangerous, I dare say.

[Read More]

Tue
Feb 24 2015 5:00pm

The Skin I’m In: Touch by Claire North

Claire North Touch

Fresh from the success of The First Fifteen Live of Harry August, Claire North—the second pseudonym (after Kate Griffin) of prose prodigy Catherine Webb—returns with Touch, a tremendously well-travelled science-fictional thriller that’s as disturbing as its predecessor was delightful.

From word one we follow an ancient entity christened Kepler by its enemies; a continuous consciousness of some sort that at the moment of its first host’s murder moved—much to its own amazement—into its murderer’s mind, and took over his body to boot. Several so-called “skins” later, Kepler has a basic understanding of its situation; of its ability, in particular, to essentially possess a person—any person—with but a touch.

“I walk through people’s lives and I steal what I find,” Kepler confesses. “Their bodies, their time, their money, their friends, their lovers, their wives—I’ll take it all, if I want to.”

[Read More]

Tue
Feb 17 2015 1:30pm

Coming Soon to A Small, Angry Planet Near You

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet Becky Chambers

What a week Becky Chambers has had! After a successful Kickstarter campaign, “the progeny of an astrobiology educator, an aerospace engineer, and an Apollo-era rocket scientist” self-published her first science-fiction novel last summer. In The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet:

The crew of the Wayfarer, a wormhole-building spaceship, get the job offer of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel at the centre of the galaxy. The journey will be time-consuming and difficult, but the pay is enough to endure any discomfort. All they have to do is survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful. But every crewmember has a secret to hide, and they’ll soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.

“I was proud of the small following [The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet] gathered,” Chambers said of the text’s success, “but I thought that was as far as it was going to go.”

[It wasn’t.]

Mon
Feb 16 2015 10:00am

The Map is Not the Territory: Something Coming Through by Paul McAuley

Something Coming Through Paul McAuley

Spinning off a series of experimental short stories, Something Coming Through marks the actual factual start of an extraordinary new project by Paul McAuley, the award-winning author of the Quiet War novels. As a beginning, it’s inordinately promising, largely because the world is so wide and relevant and well-developed, and though the characters are a little lacking, Something Coming Through satisfies as a standalone story too.

Allow me to introduce you to the Jackaroo, an advanced race of aliens whose near-as-dammit divine intervention in human history may well have saved us—from ourselves.

[Read More]

Wed
Feb 11 2015 12:45pm

Ian McDonald’s New Moon

Luna

Though a far cry from the cerebral sf of the novels with which Ian MacDonald made his name, the three Infundibulum books he’s released in recent years have been bloody good fun, to a one. Stefan Raets went even farther than that in his review of Empress of the Sun—the end, evidently, of the overarching Everness narrative—saying he’d had such a good time reading about the adventures of Everett Singh and Sen Sixsmyth and so on that he felt “like writing fan-fic about its characters.”

Well... do your worst, sir! Especially now that we know the award-winning author has moved on to another project: a duology which looks “to do for the for the moon what [MacDonald] has previously (with River of Gods, Brasyl and The Dervish House) done for India, Brazil and Turkey,” which is to say “write a thrilling story of the future that is rooted in the vivid realities of its location.”

[Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Luna: New Moon.]

Tue
Feb 3 2015 2:45pm

The Look of The Book of Phoenix

The Book of Phoenix

On May 7 in the UK, Hodder & Stoughton will publish a prequel of sorts to Nigerian-American novelist Nnedi Okorafor’s breakthrough book, Who Fears Death? It’s called The Book of Phoenix, and it’s about an “abomination.”

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Wed
Jan 28 2015 12:20pm

Covering Crashing Heaven

Crashing Heaven Al Robertson

Bought eighteen months or so ago in what The Bookseller describes as “a major pre-empt ahead of an auction” that would probably have been hotly fought, Crashing Heaven is for my money among the most exciting debuts of the coming months.

According to Gollancz’s Simon Spanton, “Al Robertson [is] a writer completely in command of his material and totally at home in his chosen genre”—which is to say science fiction. “To find all this, fully formed, in the work of a debut writer is special indeed. It’s a long time since I’ve read a book that takes the familiar and fashions it into something that feels so fresh.”

[Read More]

Fri
Jan 23 2015 12:30pm

Seveneves of Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson

HarperCollins now owns Neal Stephenson’s soul—or rather the rights his next two novels in most every major territory: in the US and Canada under the auspices of William Morrow, and in Australia, New Zealand and the UK by way of The Borough Press.

The first of the two new books, Seveneves—being “a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years”—has a long history rooted in real world research.

[Read More]

Tue
Jan 20 2015 12:40pm

Alastair Reynolds Roundup

alaistair reynolds poseidon's wake

Late last week Gollancz unveiled the Abi Hartshorne art set to grace Poseidon’s Wake, complete with a colourful new cover look for Blue Remembered Earth and On the Steel Breeze, the other volumes of the “informal trilogy” this third book concludes:

Poseidon’s Wake is a stand-alone story which follows two extraordinary characters as they begin to unravel some of the greatest mysteries of our universe. Their missions are dangerous, and both are venturing into the unknown... but if either can uncover the secret to faster-than-light travel, then new worlds will be at our fingertips.

But innovation and progress are not always embraced by everyone. There is a saboteur at work. Different factions disagree about the best way to move forward. And the mysterious Watchkeepers are ever-present.

Poseidon’s Wake is due out in April in the UK. But that’s not the only Alastair Reynolds news that’s been doing the rounds recently...

[Read More]

Tue
Jan 13 2015 2:30pm

A New Look for Peter Higgins’ Wolfhound Books

Peter Higgins Radiant State

Much as I admire those authors who take the time to write what they want to write right, I read something like a hundred books each year, and I only have so much space in my brain for stories—so when a series takes too long between instalments, I find myself flagging, forgetting, before finally saying fine, and giving up the ghost.

To wit, I love a quick turnaround on a trilogy, and two scant years since Wolfhound Century turned me on to Peter Higgins’ tremendous talents, the conclusion is coming soon: Radiant State is to be released in the UK in late May—complete with a striking new cover look.

[Read More]

Thu
Dec 18 2014 4:15pm

Swiftly Does It

Osiris Project EJ Swift Tamaruq

As curator of the British Fiction Focus, I have a kind of cause—to bring word of the best genre fiction from my neck of the woods to you fine folks in yours—but sometimes, sadly, a series slips through the cracks.

Now I don’t have any inside information about how well they’re selling, but neither do I see nearly as many people talking about The Osiris Project as I believe there should be, so consider this a call to arms, all: E. J. Swift is an awesome author. She writes “proper grown-up SF,” as her fellow proper grown-up SF author Adam Roberts says; SF that is at once “stylish, memorable, beautifully written and utterly distinctive.” The failed utopia of her fiction—“a future ocean metropolis [...] whose inhabitants believe they live on the last city on earth”—mightn’t be explosive in the mode of most such stories, but by gum, it’s stunning.

She just so happens to have a new book coming out, too...

[Read More]

Thu
Dec 4 2014 10:00am

If Then What When?

The Red Men

I’ll come right out and say it: for a moment there, I thought we’d lost Angry Robot.

Obviously not. Recently they’ve re-signed Wesley Chu, bought two books by Alyc Helms, saved Danielle L. Jensen’s Malediction trilogy—Strange Chemistry’s biggest success story—from the ashes of that much-missed imprint, and now, news of another new arrival: Will Self’s erstwhile amanuensis, author Matthew de Abaitua, has enrolled in the reenergised Angry Robot Army.

Abaitua is of course known for rather more than taking dictation: his debut, The Red Men, was nominated for an Arthur C. Clarke Award, and in 2013, the first chapter was turned into a sensational short film. You do remember Dr. Easy, don’t you?

[Read More]

Tue
Nov 25 2014 5:00pm

The Farthest Star: Ultima by Stephen Baxter

Ultima Stephen Baxter review

Worlds and times collide in the concluding volume of the absorbing duology Proxima kicked off: “a story that encompasses everything that will be and everything that could have been,” just as Ultima’s flap copy claims, but fails, I’m afraid, to take in the little things—not least characters we care about—in much the same way as its intellectually thrilling yet emotionally ineffectual predecessor.

Ultima ultimately advances Stephen Baxter’s ambitious origin-of-everything from the nearest star to Earth at the inception of existence to the end of time on the absolute farthest, but first, the fiction insists on exploring, at length, what the galaxy would look like in terms of technology if the Roman Empire hadn’t fallen in the fifth century.

[Read More]