Archive for SF/F News

Escape Pod Special Episode- The Arthur C. Clarke Award Winner!


You heard it here first, folks, we have an exclusive interview and book excerpt from this year’s Arthur C. Clarke award winner, Lauren Beukes, author of Zoo City (Angry Robot Books)!

Zoo City explores a present day, but alternate, Johannesburg, and follows the story of Zinzi December, one of the animalled – people who are psychically bonded with animals due to crimes they have committed in the past. Zinzi has a talent for finding lost things, but when she is asked to take on a missing persons case, her life becomes increasingly more complicated and she discovers that beneath the seedy underbelly of Zoo City, things can – and do – get a lot worse.

Rated PG-13 for talk of sex workers and street violence.

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

Genre for Japan


You may have seen it mentioned on Twitter (by Neil Gaiman, no less). You may have seen it mentioned on Facebook or on various blogs. But this week – until Sunday April 3rd, in fact – Genre for Japan is running one heck of an online auction to raise funds for the British Red Cross Japanese appeal, in the wake of the terrible earthquake and tsnunami that struck that country three weeks ago.

Genre for Japan is a collective of authors, editors, publishers, bloggers, reviewers, and people just wanting to help out, who have organised 137 incredible lots of science fiction, fantasy and horror-related items. From signed ARCs, to guest appearances in novels, to writing critiques by professional writers and editors, there is, as the saying goes, something for everyone.

But enough gabber from me. I’ll let them take over:

Genre for Japan is a charity auction designed to raise money for the victims of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We are using JustGiving to donate money to the British Red Cross Japanese Tsunami Appeal.

Responses to our plea for donations have been more generous than we could have hoped – we now have over one hundred fantastic items up for auction!

Now all we need is for you to get your wallets out and bid, bid, bid!

There is a full list of the items here, or you can browse the items by categories on our front page such as artwork or signed copies.

The auctions will close at midnight on Sunday 3rd April. Bidding will take place in the comment boxes on the website. Winning bidders will be notified by e-mail after bidding closes. A full list of auction rules has been posted on the website.

Some of the prizes include:-

  • One year’s supply of books from Tor!
  • Editing/critiques from professional authors and editors!
  • A character named after you in soon-to-be-published novels by Al Ewing, Adam Christopher, Suzanne McLeod or Jon Courtney Grimwood!
  • Limited-edition cover art from Solaris Books and Gollancz!
  • Custom sketches from comic artists and manga artists!
  • Signed books from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett!

Bidding opened on Monday, and pledges have already reached nearly £7,000 ($11,300). And word is that more lots are going to be added this week.

There are no geographical restrictions on bidding or on the auction items, although you need to bid in British pounds Sterling. Just grab your favourite currency calculator, like this one, and convert your bid before posting. Bidding ends at midnight BST on Sunday April 3rd – that’s Saturday 2nd April at 4pm West Coast US, 7pm East Coast US.

It’s a marvellous cause and the generosity of the SF community has been amazing – not only in the bids pledged so far, but in the incredible collection of items on offer. Ever wanted to own a bestselling fantasy author for two days? Or pick up a signed Terry Pratchett ARC from the author’s own library? Now is your chance. Please give generously!

For more information, their website is: http://genreforjapan.wordpress.com, and they are on Twitter as @genreforjapan. If you want to donate something to auction, it’s not too late – email the team at genreforjapan@gmail.com.

Happy bidding!

Best News Ever. (This Week)


So, apparently good things can happen to good shows.

This has been a very strong season of Fringe, and it seemed inevitable that this would be its last. I mean, seriously, it’s on Fox, the ratings have been slipping, and it got moved to the friday night death slot.

The one that took out Star Trek — the first one. (The good one*.)

And yet, it got renewed for another full season.

It has even been fairly clear that the writers expected this season to be the show’s last, with the main plot arc hurtling towards its final resolution and the show’s canon being laid bare left and right.

So you know, congratulations and good luck to the writers and producers on slipping out of that one.

I’m not aware of a stronger science fiction show airing in the US right now, and I look very much forward to watching it again in the fall. It surveys the science of the weird week in and week out, but has never lost sight of the characters. Which is the best you can hope for in a US-style series.

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*Outrage can be sent to bill at escapeartists dot net, as per usual.

2011 Award Season: The British Contingent


The 2011 awards season is well and truly upon us – it’s an exciting time of year, with all but one of the big awards having released their shortlists, and the SF community engaging in discussion and debate both online and off. I’m sure that there are a lot of us who know some of the nominated people personally, and in some small part we can share what must be a nerve-wracking few weeks until the various award ceremonies are held.

The big award that is still collecting nominations is, of course, the Hugos. Laura Burns has already talked about the Hugo awards, the granddaddy of the lot, perhaps. One great thing about the Hugos, as Laura mentions, is that you can join WorldCon as a supporting member, even if you can’t attend the convention itself. This entitles you to nominating and voting rights, and you get an electronic pack of all the final nominees. I’m mentioning this here again as I did this for the first time last year, and was very impressed. As a UK resident it cost me £25, and I still haven’t finished reading everything that was provided. As well as the opportunity to take part in the Hugo awards process, you get very good value for money!

As well as the Hugos and the Nebulas (summarised nicely by Bill Peters), there are two more major SF/fantasy awards on this side of the Atlantic which have recently announced their shortlists.

The Arthur C. Clarke award, so named in honour of the great SF author and originally founded thanks to a grant from the man himself, is presented each year for the best science fiction novel first published in the UK in the previous calendar year. It is described as the most prestigious award for science fiction in Britain, and is unusual in that it is a jury-judged prize. Six novels are selected from publisher submissions, and the prize itself (the amount corresponding to the year of the award, so this year is £2,011) is presented at a ceremony as part of the Sci-Fi London event in April.

The Clarke awards often provoke intense debate and analysis in the UK. Personally, I don’t think the shortlist ever quite reaches controversial levels, but usually the selection is very interesting and quite unpredictable, with most commentary (at least initially) focussing on what books didn’t make it. Last year’s winner was The City and the City by China Miéville, which went on to win both the British Science Fiction Association award and the Hugo the same year. Miéville also broke the record by winning the Clarke award for the third time with The City and the City.

This year’s shortlist (selected from 54 eligible submissions) is:

Zoo City – Lauren Beukes (Angry Robot)

The Dervish House – Ian McDonald (Gollancz)

Monsters of Men – Patrick Ness (Walker Books)

Generosity – Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)

Declare – Tim Powers (Corvus)

Lightborn – Tricia Sullivan (Orbit)

The eligibility criteria  – specifically the requirement for the book to have been published in the UK to quality – have thrown up an interesting result this year with Declare by Tim Powers making the shortlist. While this book was first released in the US in 2001, the first UK edition didn’t come out until 2010, hence it is eligible. Also, Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness is the third book in a trilogy.

The shortlist was released on Friday 4th March, and Clarke award administrator Tom Hunter managed to spare some time to give me his thoughts on this year’s selection:

I’ve spent most of the day tabbing between different web pages, following threads, checking Google alerts, clicking links and generally watching Twitter like the kind of geekily obsessive SF stereotype I am. I spend a good part of my Clarke Award working-life trying to challenge, and the overwhelming conclusion from all of this adhoc research is that people seem to really like this shortlist.

This doesn’t mean that they necessarily agree with all of it, and there’s no rule that says they should, but I think this year people have really seen where our shortlist has come from and the real hard work that’s gone into it on the part of the judges; who I think deserve some real kudos by the way.

Then again, maybe all the goodwill is simply down to it being our 25th anniversary…

Either way, it’s a great result for the Award and a fantastic statement about the health of modern science fiction literature – just don’t ask me to guess the winner, this really is one of those great shortlists where the field is wide open.

The British Science Fiction Association award shortlist was also recently announced, with the award ceremony held at the national science fiction convention (commonly referred to as EasterCon), Illustrious, over the Easter weekend. Interestingly, of the Best Novel nominations, three out of the five BSFA nominees are also on the Clarke award shortlist. Together, the BSFA and the Clarke awards count as two of the ‘big ones’ for the UK. A third set of awards, given by the British Fantasy Society, happen later in the year.

Best Novel

Paolo Bacigalupi – The Windup Girl (Orbit)

Lauren Beukes – Zoo City (Angry Robot)

Ken Macleod – The Restoration Game (Orbit)

Ian McDonald – The Dervish House (Gollancz)

Tricia Sullivan – Lightborn (Orbit)

Best Short Fiction

Nina Allan – ‘Flying in the Face of God’ – Interzone 227, TTA Press.

Aliette de Bodard – ‘The Shipmaker’– Interzone 231, TTA Press.

Peter Watts – ‘The Things’ – Clarkesworld 40

Neil Williamson – ‘Arrhythmia’ – Music for Another World, Mutation Press

Best Non-Fiction

Paul Kincaid – Blogging the Hugos: Decline, Big Other

Abigail Nussbaum – Review, With Both Feet in the Clouds, Asking the Wrong Questions Blogspot

Adam Roberts – Review, Wheel of Time, Punkadiddle

Francis Spufford – Red Plenty (Faber and Faber)

Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe the Notes from Coode Street Podcast

Best Art

Andy Bigwood – cover for Conflicts (Newcon Press)

Charlie Harbour – cover for Fun With Rainbows by Gareth Owens (Immersion Press)

Dominic Harman – cover for The Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (Gollancz)

Joey Hi-Fi –cover for Zoo City, by Lauren Beukes (Angry Robot)

Ben Greene – ‘A Deafened Plea for Peace’, cover for Crossed Genres 21

Adam Tredowski – cover for Finch, by Jeff Vandermeer (Corvus)

Voting on the BSFA awards is open to all members of the BSFA and of EasterCon, with advance votes due by 18th April and on-site ballot boxes available at EasterCon itself.

The shortlists so far announced show, I think, that 2010 was a pretty strong year for genre fiction. Certainly some of the novels released in 2010 I now count among my favourites, periods. All that is left is wait for the Hugo shortlist to be announced. And I’m looking forward to that very much indeed.

2010 Nebula Nominees


Congratulations to everybody, and if you want to listen to two of them we’ve already podcast the ones with Love in the title — Conditional Love and I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno. What this says about us or SFWA can be speculated on in the comments.

SFWA:

Short Story

Novelette

Novella

Novel

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

  • Despicable Me, Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud (directors), Ken Daurio & Cinco Paul (screenplay), Sergio Pablos (story) (Illumination Entertainment)
  • Doctor Who: ‘‘Vincent and the Doctor’’, Richard Curtis (writer), Jonny Campbell (director)
  • How to Train Your Dragon, Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders (directors), William Davies, Dean DeBlois, & Chris Sanders (screenplay) (DreamWorks Animation)
  • Inception, Christopher Nolan (director), Christopher Nolan (screenplay) (Warner)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Edgar Wright (director), Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright (screenplay) (Universal)
  • Toy Story 3, Lee Unkrich (director), Michael Arndt (screenplay), John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, & Lee Unkrich (story) (Pixar/Disney)

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Speculative Literature Foundation 2011 Older Writers Grant


The Speculative Literature Foundation (SLF) is pleased to announce that it is accepting applications for the 2011 Older Writers Grant. The grant of $750 is available to any writer of speculative literature of 50 years or older at the time of application who is just beginning to work professionally in the field. There are no restrictions on the use of the grant money.

The grant will be awarded by a committee of SLF staff members on the basis of interest and merit. Applicants are asked to submit a brief autobiographical statement, a writing sample, and a bibliography. For full details on how to apply for the grant, please see the SLF web site: http://www.speculativeliterature.org/Grants/SLFOlderWriters.php, or email olderwriters@speculativeliterature.org. Applications must be received by March 31st 2011. The successful applicant will be announced on June 1st 2011.

Announcements from Pyr, Angry Robot, and Cory Doctorow!


First, Pyr is releasing a free ePub Novelette in celebration of its 100th book published: The Wolf Age by James Enge.

From the press release:

The Wolf Age is the third novel to feature Enge’s character Morlock Ambrosius, a wandering swordsman, an exile, and a drunk. Blood of Ambrose, Enge’s first Morlock novel, was on the Locus Recommended Reading list and a World Fantasy Award nominee for Best Novel.

In honor of this burgeoning Morlock fan base, and to commemorate The Wolf Age’s status as Pyr’s one-hundredth title, Pyr is issuing a free, exclusive, ePub novelette called “Travellers’ Rest.” Featuring a cover by artist Chuck Lukacs, “Travellers’ Rest” is an 8,500 word original novelette, written for Pyr, which takes place before the events of Blood of Ambrose. It is available on the Pyr website, http://www.pyrsf.com, as a free download in ePub format and will also be available via Kindle. (Two previously published Morlock short stories that take place many decades after the events of The Wolf Age—“A Book of Silences” and “Fire and Sleet” —are available on the Sample Chapters section of the Pyr website.)


Angry Robot Books is expanding its ebook store to include short stories from its authors. They’re calling it nano fiction and pricing them at 59p apiece or 10 for £3.49. They also have a fun Advent Calendar at their site, including presents from their authors, which is a unique and fun idea.

(Disclaimer- Escape Pod editor Mur Lafferty hosts and produces a podcast for Angry Robot Books.)


And Escape Pod favorite Cory Doctorow has released a ground-breaking self-publishing venture called With A Little Help. In short, it’s a short story collection. but it’s so much more than that. He’s done a limited edition (which I covet very much — see right), four different soft cover books (I want the Pablo Defendini cover), an audio book with stories narrated by Wil Wheaton, Neil Gaiman, JC Hutchins, and many others (including me!), and, if you know Cory’s work, this part is obvious, a free ebook. He’s been completely transparent thus far explaining his reasoning behind doing this, and how he’s gone about the process,and who has helped him with free work, and what work he paid for. It’s not just a neat book to get, it’s fascinating for anyone considering a self publishing venture.

The Sunburst Award Needs Your Help


I received a note from Helen Marshall who is working on a campaign to save the Sunburst Award, the Canadian juried speculative fiction award. Seeing as how Canada has brought us authors such as Minister Faust, Jo Walton, Spider Robinson, and Cory Doctorow (to name a few), I’m greatly inclined to help them out. Please check out her request and see if you can support their cause! (note the deadline is this friday, so you don’t have much time!)

The Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic is a juried award based on excellence of writing in two categories: adult and young adult. The awards are presented annually to Canadian writers with a speculative fiction novel or book-length collection of speculative fiction published any time during the previous calendar year.

Unfortunately, the Sunburst Awards have run into a hiccup. They do not have enough operating capital to keep going as they currently stand. This sad news comes at a particularly critical juncture in the award’s life–the operating committee is in the process of getting the Sunburst organization registered as a non-profit, and getting it “national arts organization” status.

As part of a fundraising drive to shepherd the Sunburst through this change of status and structure, we’d like to ask fans, writers, editors, and publishers from the speculative fiction community to help raise awareness of this vital institution…

How to Participate

We’re looking for short (30 second to 2 minutes) videos that say what you think about Canadian speculative fiction. These should be interview-style videos in the vein of Speaker’s Corner and can be recorded as simply as with a web camera. Prior interviews or footage can be submitted provided that you have permission to do so. We will host these individually on a YouTube channel (sunburstaward), but will also edit them in order to create a series of short videos to promote awareness of the fundraising campaign. A longer video will be shown at the opening remarks to the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium. Check out what we’ve got so far!

Not savvy with a camera? Send us a high res image of yourself and either a short paragraph in text or a recorded audio track.

Not Canadian? Never fear. If you have something you want to say about Canadian speculative fiction then we want to hear it.

To participate, send your name, contact information, submission and a short release statement giving us permission to use the video/image to sunburstvideo@gmail.com by October 15, 2010.

Possible Topics:
-favourite Canadian authors and/or stories
-the relationship between Canadian writing and the rest of the world
-publishing speculative fiction in Canada
-the state of Canadian fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc
-how does Canada inspire your work?
-favourite Canadian settings to use in your writing

Of course, these topics are intended to be a jumping off point. Feel free to think outside of the box. And, above all, show your
enthusiasm!

To donate directly, visit
http://www.sunburstaward.org/content/please-lend-your-support-sunburst-awards.

I hear you folks like free fiction…


Some free fiction coming down from Escape Pod favorites:

Jury Service: By Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross (audio only) – (from Cory’s blog) Jury Service is the first of two novellas Charlie Stross and I wrote about Huw, a technophobe stuck on Earth after the Singularity (the other one being Appeals Court). They are both being published, along with a third, yet-to-be-written novella Parole Board by Tor Books as Rapture of the Nerds. We’re starting work on Parole Board in January, and to refamiliarize myself with the earlier novellas, I’m going to podcast both now (with the gracious permission of Charlie and our editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden). Hope you enjoy ’em – they’re as gonzo as I’ve ever gotten, I think!

The Nex: by Tim Pratt (text and ebook) – (from Tim’s blog) Unlike my other serials, this one isn’t an urban fantasy, and doesn’t take place in an existing series (though it does share a setting with a story, as I mentioned). It’s a novel narrated by a precocious 13-year-old who finds herself a long way from home with some disreputable people in a dangerous world. The book has shapeshifters, giant robots, aliens, kleptomaniacal monsters, heroism, shoplifting, terror, lecherous cyborgs, personable tyrants, steampunk submarines, subterranean tunnels, rustic French cuisine, a cult of teenage girls in fairy wings and leotards, teleportation, and people who get punched so hard they disappear. I hope you all like it. [Ed- this is a free online book, so please support the author with a donation or a purchase of the Kindle ebook]

[UPDATE– apologies, WordPress put the Doctorow file into our feed without me realizing, sorry for those of you who downloaded unwanted content. I’ve removed it, now you must right-click to download or go directly to Doctorow’s page.]

Mur on Becoming Escape Pod’s editor


Cross posted from Murverse.com:

I’ve been hinting at a seekrit project for a while now, and it’s finally public: Steve Eley, the brilliant mind behind the first podcast fiction magazine, is stepping down from Escape Pod, and I’ll be taking his place.

I’ve been involved with Escape Artists in one way or another several times in the past five years. Steve has published several of my short stories, and asked me and Ben Phillips to helm Pseudopod when it launched. I had to step down in 2007 because i had a day job and simply had to let some outside things go.

I’ve been working behind the scenes on the EP thing for a couple of weeks now, sifting through slush with some truly dedicated volunteers. We re-launch after our hiatus next week on Escape Pod’s fifth anniversary with Steve’s last podcast. Then I will take over hosting for three weeks, then we will run our traditional Hugo short story offering. July is when I’ll settle into the job fully with hosting and editing. We’ve got some new things coming up for the podcast this summer.

But never fear! The podcast is awesome because of Steve’s vision: fun SF, and I’ll never turn away from that.

I’ve got a great team helping me, and I’m very excited to see where we can steer this ship. Thanks for all the congrats that came through Twitter and email so far, it really means a lot to me that people have confidence in my ability to take this amazing podcast and keep it strong.