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Patrick Nielsen Hayden

More Than Thirty Years Later, Tom Doherty is Still Curating New Worlds

On this day in 1935, one of the great figures in science fiction publishing was born: Tom Doherty, president and publisher of Tor Books.

His career in books began in the late 1950s, when he worked as a salesman for Pocket Books, eventually rising to National Sales Manager. He was an avid SF and fantasy reader from an early age, and he paid particular attention to our genres even when he was responsible for selling all kinds of books. His first contact with science fiction’s social world was probably in the early 1960s, when his selling territory included Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home of the longtime SF writer (and reviewer for Analog) P. Schuyler Miller, with whom Tom became friends.

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Series: On This Day

Jo Walton’s Among Others wins German science-fiction award

Jo Walton’s Among Others has won the 2014 Kurd Lasswitz Award (in German, the Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis) in the category of best foreign novel translated into German. Named for Kurd Lasswitz (1848-1910), widely considered the father of German science fiction, the Kurd Lasswitz Award is the best-known science fiction award in Germany. Locus has a complete list of all this year’s Lasswitz winners.

Among Others was published in German in 2013 by Golkonda, under the title In einer anderen Welt (literally, “In a Different World”).

Congratulations to Jo and to her German publisher!

What Makes Jo Walton So Great

Today is publication day for Jo Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great (U.S. / U.K.), a selection from her posts on written between 2008 and 2011. So management asked me if I’d like to write a post called “What Makes Jo Walton So Great,” and of course I agreed. What I forgot was that I’ve already essentially written this piece, once for Boskone in 2009 and once again, revised and expanded, for Wiscon in 2013.

So I’ll just go ahead and repeat myself, because Jo Walton is, in fact, so great. As I said before:

“She’s a terrific writer, but she’s also an even rarer thing, a truly gifted salonnière, someone who starts conversations that other people want to join, and makes it all seem as easy as breathing. In person or online, where there’s Jo Walton, there’s good talk, often between people who would never have otherwise known or appreciated one another. Jo is herself a great appreciator and a tabulator of who ought to get to know whom. In the best sense of the word, she is the most naturally fannish professional writer I have ever known.”

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Iain Banks, 1954-2013

Scottish novelist Iain Banks died today, just two months after announcing his terminal cancer diagnosis to the world. He leaves behind a legion of friends, family, and fans, many of whom have reached out in recent weeks to share their admiration and sorrow. His final novel, The Quarry, will be released on June 20th.

Beginning with his controversial (and commercially successful) debut The Wasp Factory (1984), Iain Banks published many non-SF novels, some of which featured fantastic elements, and many of which were enormous bestsellers in the British Isles. 1992’s The Crow Road, a modern-day Scottish family saga with elements of murder mystery, was adapated into a BBC mini-series in 1996.

Under the byline “Iain M. Banks”, he was also the author of one of the most influential bodies of science fiction in the last thirty years, most notably the “Culture” series that began with Consider Phlebas (1997). Set in a far-future interstellar society comprising multiple species of intelligent life, the Culture stories are both unabashed space opera and insightful examinations of anarchy, power, and meaningful action in a post-scarcity universe. Through their verve, color, and indefatigable intelligence, the Culture stories have had an immeasurable impact on modern British science fiction.

In the social world of British SF, Banks will be remembered as a larger-than-life figure—irrepressible, fearlessly outspoken, a boisterous lover of life’s many pleasures, and given to unsung acts of kindness and generosity. Read his books and remember him.

Announcing Jo Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great

Back in 2008, when we were first preparing to launch, I knew I wanted Jo Walton to be a regular writer for the site. And I knew that Jo, unusually among working writers, is not only a prolific reader of science fiction and fantasy but also an avid re-reader as well. So I suggested she write us a regular series of posts about, not newly-published fantasy and SF, but rather what she’s been re-reading lately.

As you’ll have observed if you’ve been reading, this worked out very well. Jo is a voluble, insightful, and engaging chronicler of her own re-reading, and her posts have provoked some of the most interesting comment discussions this site has been privileged to host. (Thank you, brilliant commenters!) So gradually we began to think about assembling a collection of some of the best of Jo’s posts on Selected from the first three years, What Makes This Book So Great, forthcoming in January 2014, is the result.

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A Note from John Scalzi’s Editor About His Next SF Book: The Human Division

Now that it’s being discussed in the New York Times, I guess we can talk about John Scalzi’s next project with Tor Books: a new Old Man’s War book called The Human Division. (Readers of The Last Colony and/or Zoe’s Tale will have an immediate inkling of what the title means; for those who haven’t, any explanation would be a spoiler.)

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Sturgeon Award finalists announced

Finalists have been announced for the 2012 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction story of the year, and at we’re delighted to see that Charlie Jane Anders’ brilliant story “Six Months, Three Days” made the list. “Six Months, Three Days” was a finalist for the Nebula Award and is on this year’s Hugo ballot as well, so this is its third major award nomination. Woo!

The Sturgeon is given out annually by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, along with the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel of the year. Finalists for this year’s Campbell Memorial Award are listed here.

Worldcon meetup

It’s hard to believe that Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention, is happening in Reno, Nevada just a few days from now. It occurs to us that more than a handful of contributors, commenters, artists, and just plain readers are liable to be rattling around the giant casino hotels hosting this year’s Worldcon.

So at the suggestion of Jo Walton, we’re announcing an entirely informal meetup, in the Terrace Lounge at the Peppermill Hotel, on Wednesday evening at 9 PM. Jo will be there, along with one or both Nielsen Haydens, Irene Gallo, and probably other staff such as Liz Gorinsky, and who knows who else. Spot us by our sensitive fannish faces, introduce yourself, and join us for a drink. Think of it as a warmup for the strenuous Worldcongoing to come…

An Introduction to “Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes”

Yesterday, July 10, 2011, the eminent SF and fantasy editor and sartorialist David G. Hartwell turned 70. At a party at his home in Pleasantville, New York, literary entrepeneur Henry Wessells surprised David with a beautifully-bound book entitled A Festschrift for David Hartwell On The Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday, “Printed not Published in an edition of one copy” and featuring original fiction and nonfiction in David’s honor by Brian Aldiss, Rudy Rucker, Michael Bishop, Eileen Gunn, Michael Swanwick, and the mysterious “Shirley U. Jestson.”

Click to is pleased to present what may or may not be a “reprint” from that unique volume, depending on whether you consider an edition of one copy to constitute “publishing”—a 2500-word symmetrina by Michael Bishop, entitled “Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes.”

Encyclopedia of Science Fiction to be Available Online—for Free

Welcome news from Gollancz, that most distinguished of SF publishers:

The third edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, the definitive reference work in the field, will be released online later this year by the newly-formed ESF, Ltd, in association with Victor Gollancz, the SF & Fantasy imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, whose support will enable the text to be available free to all users. This initial “beta” version, containing about three-quarters of the total projected content, will be unveiled in conjunction with Gollancz’s celebrations of its 50th anniversary as a science fiction publisher.

The first edition of the Encyclopedia, whose founder and general editor was Peter Nicholls, appeared in 1979, and contained over 700,000 words. A second edition, edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls, appeared in 1993 and contained over 1.3 million words. Both editions won the Hugo Award from the World Science Fiction Convention, in addition to numerous other honours. The beta version of the third edition will contain some 3 million words, including about 12,000 entries and well over 100,000 internal links. The entries cover every area of science fiction, including authors, illustrators, movies, music, games, and fanzines. The text will be completed, through monthly updates, by the end of 2012.

The third edition has been overseen by John Clute and David Langford, along with editor emeritus Peter Nicholls and managing editor Graham Sleight, plus a cast of thousands, ranging from contributing editors wrangling entire categories to experts writing a few entries on people, stories, and subjects of their particular speciality. Both previous editions of the Encyclopedia Galactica of SF were outstanding (and immeasurably useful!) works of scholarship, so it’s great to hear that most of the third edition will be available soon, and for free.

2011 Hugo Finalists

The finalists for the 2011 Hugo Awards have been announced.

The Hugo Awards have been given since 1953, and every year since 1955, by the annual World Science Fiction Convention (the “Worldcon”). The first Worldcon occurred in New York City in 1939, and Worldcons have been held annually since then except during World War II. This year’s Worldcon, Renovation, will be held in Reno, Nevada from August 17 through 21, 2011; its Guests of Honor will be Ellen Asher, Charles N. Brown (in memoriam), Tim Powers, and Boris Vallejo.

Renovation logo

Hugo Award finalists are selected by members of the previous Worldcon and of the upcoming one; winners are selected by members of the upcoming one. All Attending, Young Adult, and Supporting members of Renovation can vote on the final ballot.  For more information about voting in the Hugo Awards, or becoming a member of Renovation, please click here.

The winners will be announced Saturday, August 20th, 2011, during the Hugo Awards Ceremony at Renovation in Reno, Nevada.

The nominees for the 2011 Hugo Awards are:

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The Last Dangerous Feed Your Reader

Once again, a pile of’s original stories are becoming available as 99-cent digital chapbooks on various e-book platforms, including the Kindle store, Apple’s iBooks store, Barnes & Noble’s e-bookstore, the Google Books store, the Kobo store, and the Sony Reader store.

As a result, almost every original story published on, from our mid-2008 launch up until today, is now available through these e-book channels, complete with the original art on their “covers.” Going forward, new original fiction will appear simultaneously on the site (in inline HTML and audio, both free) and from the major e-book retailers (in versions designed for the current generation of e-readers and reader programs). In other words, you can read it for free here and you can buy a handsome edition for your e-book reader. Or both!

“The Trains That Climb The Winter Tree” Insider Writer Info

Mr. Michael Swanwick, of the Philadephia Swanwicks, deals out the scoop on “How to Write a Collaborative Story,” sharing the tale of how’s 2010 winter holiday tale “The Trains That Climb the Winter Tree” came to be written by Mr. Swanwick with Ms. Eileen Gunn (late of the East Cambridge Ostrogoths), and later published by Like everything ever posted to a blog by a professional science fiction writer, Mr. Swanwick’s narrative is 100% true. Because they wouldn’t let it go on the Internet if it wasn’t true.

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