Tuesday, October 6, 2015

EDGE Announces Editors for Tesseracts 20

  Compostela(Tesseracts Twenty)

Spider Robinson
and
James Alan Gardner


ABOUT THE ANTHOLOGY
Compostela (Tesseracts Twenty) is an anthology of hard and soft science fiction stories that best represent a futuristic view of the sciences and how humanity might be affected (for better or worse) by a reliance in all things technological. For more than 1,000 years, Santiago de Compostela (Compostela means “field of stars”) has attracted pilgrims to walk to the cathedral that holds St. James the apostle’s relics. The stories in this anthology in their own way tell the tale of futuristic travelers who journey into the dark outer (or inner) reaches of space, searching for their own connections to the past, present and future relics of their time.

For complete submission guidelines please visit:

ABOUT THE EDITORS:
Spider Robinson
Since he began writing professionally in 1972, Spider Robinson has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, three Hugo Awards, a Nebula Award, and countless other international and regional awards. Most of his 36 books are still in print, in 10 languages. His short work has appeared in magazines around the planet, from Omni and Analog to Xhurnal Izobretatel i Rationalizator (Moscow), and in numerous anthologies. The Usenet newsgroup alt.callahans and its many internet offshoots, inspired by his Callahan’s Place series, for many years constituted one of the largest non-porn networks in cyberspace.

In 2006 he became the only writer ever to collaborate on a novel with First Grand Master of Science Fiction Robert A. Heinlein, posthumously completing VARIABLE STAR. That same year the Library of Congress invited him to Washington D.C. to be a guest of the First Lady at the White House for the National Book Festival. In 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award for Lifetime Excellence in Literature.

Spider was born in New York City in 1948, and holds a Bachelors degree in English from the State University of New York. He was the regular book reviewer for Galaxy, Analog and New Destinies magazines for nearly a decade, and contributes occasional book reviews to The Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper, for which he wrote a regular Op-Ed column from 1996-2004. As an audiobook reader of his own and others’ work, he has won the Earphones Award and been a finalist for the Audie, and his podcast Spider On The Web has appeared online weekly since September 2007. In 2001 he released Belaboring the Obvious, a CD featuring original music accompanied by guitar legend Amos Garrett. He has written songs in collaboration with David Crosby and with Todd Butler.

Spider was married for over 30 years to Jeanne Robinson, a Boston-born writer, choreographer, former dancer and teacher. She was founder/artistic director of Halifax's Nova Dance Theatre during its 8-year history. The Robinsons collaborated on the Hugo- Nebula- and Locus-winning Stardance Trilogy, concerning zero-gravity dance. Jeanne contributed to writing, producing and choreographing a film, STARDANCE, with producer/co-director James Sposto.  Spider and Jeanne met in the woods of Nova Scotia in the early 1970s, and lived for the last two decades in British Columbia.

James Alan Gardner
Raised in Simcoe and Bradford, Ontario, James Alan Gardner earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Applied Mathematics from the University of Waterloo.

A graduate of the Clarion West Fiction Writers Workshop, Gardner has published science fiction short stories in a range of periodicals, including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Amazing Stories. In 1989, his short story "Children of the Creche" was awarded the Grand Prize in the Writers of the Future contest. Two years later his story "Muffin Explains Teleology to the World at Large" won an Aurora Award; another story, "Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Bloodstream," won an Aurora and was nominated for both the Nebula and Hugo Awards.

He has written a number of novels in a "League of Peoples" universe in which murderers are defined as "dangerous non-sentients" and are killed if they try to leave their solar system by aliens who are so advanced that they think of humans like humans think of bacteria. This precludes the possibility of interstellar wars.

He has also explored themes of gender in his novels, including Commitment Hour in which people change sex every year, and Vigilant in which group marriages are traditional.
Gardner is also an educator and technical writer. His book Learning UNIX is used as a textbook in some Canadian universities.

A Grand Prize winner of the Writers of the Future contest, he lives with his family in Waterloo, Ontario.

ABOUT THE TESSERACTS SERIES:

Each year EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing chooses a team of editors - which keeps the collections fresh, new and ever changing - from among the best of Canada’s writers, publishers and critics. The editors then select innovative and futuristic short fiction and poetry from established and emerging voices of Canadian speculative fiction.


Since its first publication in 1985, more than 315 Canadian authors, editors, translators and special guests have contributed 529 short stories, poems, editorials and forwards to the series.

Each volume of the Tesseracts series features established as well as emerging authors. Some of Canada's best known fiction writers have been published within the pages of these volumes - including Margaret Atwood, Susan Swan, and Hugo and Nebula award winning authors William Gibson, Spider Robinson, and Robert J. Sawyer.

The entire series includes Tesseracts One through Nineteen, plus Tesseracts Q, which features translations of works by some of Canada's top francophone writers of science fiction and fantasy.

The series has won the prestigious Canadian Aurora Award.


ABOUT EDGE:

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, EDGE publishes thought-provoking full length novels and anthologies of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Featuring works by established authors and emerging new voices, EDGE is pleased to provide quality literary entertainment in both print and pixels.
For further information, or to book interviews with the editors, or authors please contact:

Janice Shoults
Marketing and Events
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
P.O. Box 1714, Calgary, AB
Canada T2P 2L7
Email: events@hadespublications.com 
www.edgewebsite.com 
(403) 254-0160 (Calgary office)
(780) 569-1756 (Edmonton office)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

First Annual Canopus Awards for Excellence in Interstellar Writing

This award is new to me and I am sure to many readers but it certainly sounds interesting and the nominated writers are quite the who's who in science fiction. 
The award is named after the star Canopus. Canopus is the second brightest star in the night sky. From the Bedouin of the Sinai to the Maori of New Zealand to modern spacecraft, Canopus has been used for navigation through the centuries. Just as Canopus has helped past and modern-day explorers navigate, science fiction will be a guiding point of light in current and future interstellar efforts.
The following is from their press release -

On Wednesday, September 23, 100 Year Starship announced the finalists in the inaugural Canopus Award for Excellence in Interstellar Writing. The Canopus Award is an annual writing prize recognizing the finest fiction and non-fiction works that contribute to the excitement, knowledge, and understanding of interstellar space exploration and travel.

Winners will be announced and honored on Friday, October 30, 2015 during the 100 Year Starship 2015 Public Symposium held at the Santa Clara Marriott, in Santa Clara, California October 29-November 1, 2015.

The finalists (listed in no particular order) in the four award categories are listed below.

Previously Published Long-Form Fiction (40,000 words or more):
• Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds
• Other Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti
• The Creative Fire by Brenda Cooper
• InterstellarNet: Enigma by Ed Lerner
• Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
• Coming Home by Jack McDevitt

Previously Published Short-Form Fiction (between 1,000 and 40,000 words):
• "Race for Arcadia" by Alex Shvartsman
• "Stars that Make Dark Heaven Light" by Sharon Roest
• "Homesick" by Debbie Urbanski
• "Twenty Lights to the Land of Snow" by Michael Bishop
• “Planet Lion” by Catherine M. Valente
• "The Waves" by Ken Liu
• "Dreamboat" by Robin Wyatt Dunn

Original Fiction (1,000-5,000 words):
• “Landfall” by Jon F. Ziegler
• “Project Fermi” by Michael Turgeon
• “Everett’s Awakening” by Yelcho
• “Groundwork” by G. M. Nair
• “His Holiness John XXIV about Father Angelo Baymasecchi’s Diary” by Óscar Garrido González
• “The Disease of Time” by Joseph Schmidt

Original Non-Fiction (1,000-5,000 words):
• “Why Interstellar Travel?” by Jeffrey Nosanov
• “Finding Earth 2.0 from the Focus of the Solar Gravitational Lens” by Louis Friedman and Slava Turyshev

For more information:
Award Criteria | Website | Facebook | Twitter: @100YSS| Symposium

ABOUT 100 YEAR STARSHIP™
100 Year Starship™ (100YSS) is an independent, non-governmental, long-term initiative to ensure the capabilities for human interstellar flight exist as soon as possible, and definitely within the next 100 years. 100YSS was started in 2012 with seed-funding through a competitive grant from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) for the purpose of fostering the type of explosive innovation and technology and social advances born from addressing such an incredible challenge. To foster such innovation, 100YSS engages in collaborative international programs and projects in research and innovation, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) capacity building, entrepreneurship and education projects with and between organizations, companies, universities and individuals. Based in Houston, TX 100YSS recently opened an affiliate in Brussels, 100YSS@EU and is in development of affiliates in Africa and Asia.

About the 100YSS 2015 PUBLIC SYMPOSIUM
The 100YSS Public Symposium is a powerful four-day event of global, transdisciplinary experience of imagination, hands-on programs, thought-provoking discussions and action on the frontiers of science, civilization, space, technology, society, music, art and our present and future. The Symposium brings together experts, enthusiasts, students, celebrities, innovators, educators, and thought leaders from around the world. 2015 is the fourth Symposium and is themed around “Finding Earth 2.0”—how both the process to discover and the definitive identification of a planet outside our solar system capable of supporting Earth based life will be game changing across the spectrum of human activities. 100YSS is part of the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Review - The Science Fiction & Fantasy Quiz Book

Author: Joseph A. McCullough
Illustrator: Miguel Coimbra
Publication Date: 20 Sep 2015
Number of Pages: 192
Description
What character did Peter Cushing portray in Star Wars: A New Hope? Who was Arwen Evenstar's mother? According to Isaac Asimov, what is third law of robotics? Which barbarian hero carried a sword called 'Graywand'?

Do you dare face the ultimate test of science fiction and fantasy knowledge? This fun-filled book offers the chance to prove your expertise, with questions ranging from easy to nearly impossible, drawn from the greatest novels, movies, comic books, video games and television shows in the history of the genre.

Trivial and Not So Trivial Pursuit
I am always up for testing my knowledge and having some fun with anything to do with science fiction and fantasy. Over the years there have been quite a few books of this nature but The Science Fiction & Fantasy Quiz Book is definitely a child of its time. It reflects a much greater emphasis on media science fiction and comic and graphic novels which is a good thing as both of these areas in the genre have grown exponentially in the past few decades and garnered significant popular culture attention.

Sample General Knowledge
quiz in Easy category
The book uses familiar quiz formats such as multiple choice, true or false, short answer and match up and is divided into three sections according to difficulty - easy, medium or hard. Each quiz is made up of 10 questions. Most quizzes are a general knowledge catch-all, but every few pages there is a themed category such as Superheroes, Homeworlds or Star Trek. Correct answers are provided at the back of the book.

While I didn't exactly breeze through the Easy section, I found I was averaging 8 out of 10 scores for most categories except comics and games where I dropped to 50%. Things started to get a lot tougher in the Medium section where I dropped to 4 or 5 out of 10 per quiz on average. Surprisingly my average scores went up on the Hard section I think because the percentage of questions relating to science fiction and fantasy books increased which I am much better at. The books as you would expect is primarily text driven with a scattering of nicely done illustrations.

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Quiz Book is fun to test your own knowledge and easily used for some competitive fun with like-minded friends. Even if you are only a casual science fiction and fantasy fan there is plenty of popular culture questions that won't make your head explode. Die-hard Golden Age science fiction fans expecting a book oriented challenge should be satisfied with the Hard category but not so much in the earlier categories. Recommended for trivia buffs or as a gift for genre fans.

And a final thought for the author. This would be great as an interactive online quiz. Make your choices and get your scores and the answers. Access for purchasers of the book as an alternative way to explore the quizzes.
Illustration from The Science Fiction & Fantasy Quiz Book




Monday, September 14, 2015

2015 Aurora Awards - Best Fan Music

As I love music of almost any style, I thought I'd check out the Fan Music nominations for the Aurora awards. Here are the nominated artists and my brief thoughts on their creations..

Brooke Abbey, Weirdness from 2014, Bandcamp

As her bio says Brooke Abbey (formerly Brooke Lunderville) is a banjo-playing pharmacist from Vancouver, BC. Traditional filk/folk style.

Some clever sfnal lyrics. She gets high marks alone for her quirky album cover.

Preview the songs here.

Devin Melanson & Leslie Hudson, Copy Red Leader, Crossing the Streams CD, The Pond Studio

Copy Red Leader is the geek rock duo of Leslie Hudson and Devin Melanson, based in the Toronto area. Together they flirt with the dark side of geek, playing everything from rock to blues, metal to bluegrass, funk to folk. Also nominated for Debs & Errol (Deborah Linden and Errol Elumir), OVFF Concert (Ohio Valley Filk Fest)

Perhaps the most musically accomplished and polished of the nominees with a diversity of musical styles, lyrics vary from the engaging to the silly. Something for every taste.

Preview the songs here.


Debs & Errol (Deborah Linden and Errol Elumir), OVFF Concert (Ohio Valley Filk Fest)

A geeky, comedy, music duo with a daily webcomic!

Was not recorded. However here is a sample of some of their music.


Kari Maaren, YouTube Channel


Kari Maaren is a Toronto musician who plays geeky ukulele songs about monsters and superheroes. She isn't sure why, but it amuses her, so that's all right.

Nice lyrics and tunes. Handles the ukulele with aplomb. Bit of a grab bag of songs.

Preview the songs here.


Stone Dragons, Dream of Flying CD, Stone Dragon Studios

Sue Posteraro met Tom Jeffers one night in a filk circle, and fell madly in love with him. Several years later she caught him. Shortly after that, Tom moved to Toronto and convinced her to form a filk duo. Now they help run FilKONtario and they are living happily ever after.

Pretty traditional filk. For me this wasn't a stand out from the other nominees

Preview the songs here.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

2015 Aurora Awards Short Fiction Reviews

Best Short Fiction – English 

Here are my reviews of the five stories nominated for Best Short Fiction award.

“Crimson Sky” by Eric Choi
Analog, July/August

 "Crimson Sky" is set on a partially developed and colonized Mars in some not too distant future.  This slice of life story lets us view the experience of Maggie an EMT search and rescue helicopter pilot responding to an emergency from an adventurer in a downed lighter than air craft. Realistically executed, you are quickly dropped into the action with a vivid sense of being there. Engaging and upbeat. Very likable character in Maggie and a vision of what life on Mars may be some day.

“Jelly and the D-Machine” by Suzanne Church
Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction, EDGE

A teenager coming to terms with his gay orientation worries he will be the target of the bully "Jelly"so he concocts an escape plan using an unfinished time machine that his deceased father designed but left untested. He hopes for a better opportunity of acceptance in a different future or dimensional reality. The science is completely whimsical and for me reminiscent of some of Harry Harrison's short stories. The ending is a satisfying blend of practical reality based on good advice and a little wish fulfillment. A strong example of the current diversity trend in speculative fiction.

“Mecha-Jesus” by Derwin Mak
Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen, EDGE

Set in Japan, a Roman Catholic priest investigates a "Jesus" android in a small village. Some overlong dialogue between the investigator, an American Christian, the local Shinto priest, the Mayor, the android and a right-wing protest group serves to illustrate both cultural differences and similarities of people of faith.

"Mecha-Jesus" is humorously irreverent and offers up a couple of zingers such as when the protest leader meets the android and says - “But it looks like a gaijin cosplaying as an ancient Israeli.

Some minor contemporary social commentary but overall this story felt unfocused. 

“No Sweeter Art” by Tony Pi
Beneath Ceaseless Skies #155, September 4, 2014

"No Sweeter Art" is a fantasy watercolour. The title refers to the skill of a street sorcerer and outcast whose abilities are manifested from his gods through candy. He is hired by a magistrate to foil an assassination plot. As far as I can tell based on Asian style mythology, the glimpse of world-building is vivid and rich. Well-paced. Format somewhat weakened by the lack of space to develop the characters but I can see this being expanded into fully realized fantasy world.

“Soul-Hungry” by Suzanne Church
Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction, EDGE

This is second nomination in this category for Suzanne Church. "Soul-Hungry" in my opinion is the more polished of the two entries. This is a macabre little tale where the afterlife dead feed on the souls of the living effectively murdering them. Some quick rules are introduced, posses, time-slipping, memory loss, religion as protection and more. But in essence it is a love story. A twisted one, but a love story. The juxtaposition of the story elements makes it surprisingly poignant. Did I say twisted. Yeah. Twisted.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

2015 Aurora Awards Are Coming Up Soon

According to Lloyd Penney
this Frank Johnson’s award
design is being retired in
favour of a new design
from Montreal fan Berny Reischl.
The Aurora Awards is the annual award for the best in Canadian science fiction. With categories very similar to the Hugo Awards voting on the nominees is fully underway and closes October 17. To vote you need to be a member of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA) which you can do for only $10 Canadian here. The Aurora Awards are presented each year at Canvention. This year it is Canvention 35 hosted by SFContario 6 in Toronto, November 20-22.

For the price of your membership you actually get a complete set of ALL of the nominated works in digital format for reading to help you decide how to place you vote. I hope to read and review all of the major novel and story categories here on the blog starting next week.

Here are this years nominated categories and works -

Best Novel – English
Echopraxia by Peter Watts, Tor Books
The Future Falls by Tanya Huff, DAW Books
My Real Children by Jo Walton, Tor Books
The Peripheral by William Gibson, Penguin Books
A Play of Shadow by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books


Best Young Adult Novel – English
Lockstep by Karl Schroeder, Tor Books
Mabel the Lovelorn Dwarf by Sherry Peters, Dwarvenamazon
Out of This World by Charles de Lint, Razorbill Canada
Rain by Amanda Sun, Harlequin TEEN
Twist of the Blade by Edward Willett, Coteau Books
Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong, Doubleday Canada
The Voices in Between by Charlene Challenger, Tightrope Books



Best Short Fiction – English
“Crimson Sky” by Eric Choi, Analog, July/August
“Jelly and the D-Machine” by Suzanne Church, Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction, EDGE
“Mecha-Jesus” by Derwin Mak, Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen, EDGE
“No Sweeter Art” by Tony Pi, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #155, September 4, 2014
“Soul-Hungry” by Suzanne Church, Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction, EDGE

Best Poem/Song – English
“A Hex, With Bees” by Tony Pi, Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen, EDGE
“Aversions” by Helen Marshall, Goblin Fruit, October
“The Machine” by David Clink, Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen, EDGE
“The New Ways” by Amal El-Mohtar, Uncanny Magazine, November
“The Perfect Library” by David Clink, If the World were to Stop Spinning (Chapbook)

Best Graphic Novel – English
Cassie & Tonk by Justin Currie and GMB Chomichuk, Chasing Artwork
It Never Rains by Kari Maaren, Webcomic
Raygun Gothic Vol. 2 by GMB Chomichuk, Alchemical Press
Treadwell by Dominic Bercier, Mirror Comics
Trillium by Jeff Lemire, DC Comics-Vertigo

Best Related Work – English
Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction by Suzanne Church, EDGE
Gifts for the One Who Comes After by Helen Marshall, CZP
Lackington’s Magazine edited by Ranylt Richildis
On Spec published by the Copper Pig Writers’ Society
Strange Bedfellows edited by Hayden Trenholm, Bundoran Press

Best Artist
James Beveridge, cover for Tantamount and Out Dweller
Erik Mohr, cover for The Door in the Mountain and ChiZine Publications
Derek Newman-Stille, cover for Elephants and Omnibuses
Dan O’Driscoll, covers for Bundoran Press and On Spec magazine
Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk & Steve Fahnestalk, “Walking on the Moon”, cover for On Spec, No. 95 (Vol. 25 No. 4)

Best Fan Publication
Broken Toys edited by Taral Wayne
Ecdysis edited by Jonathan Crowe
Pubnites & Other Events edited by Yvonne Penney
Space Cadet edited by R. Graeme Cameron
Speculating Canada edited by Derek Newman-Stille

Best Fan Music
Brooke Abbey, Weirdness from 2014, Bandcamp
Copy Red Leader, Crossing the Streams CD, The Pond Studio
Debs & Errol (Deborah Linden and Errol Elumir), OVFF Concert (Ohio Valley Filk Fest)
Kari Maaren, YouTube Channel
Stone Dragons, Dream of Flying CD, Stone Dragon Studios

Best Fan Organizational
Sandra Kasturi, Chair, Chiaroscuro Reading Series: Toronto
Derek Künsken, Farrell McGovern, Caycee Price and Elizabeth Buchan-Kimmerly, Executive, Can*Con 2014, Ottawa
Randy McCharles, Chair, When Words Collide, Calgary
Matt Moore, Marie Bilodeau and Nicole Lavigne, Co-chairs, Chiaroscuro Reading Series: Ottawa
Alana Otis-Wood and Paul Roberts, Co-chairs, Ad Astra Convention, Toronto

Best Fan Related Work
Richard Graeme Cameron, weekly column in Amazing Stories Magazine
Steve Fahnestalk, weekly column in Amazing Stories Magazine
Kevin B. Madison, Thunder Road Trip
Derek Newman-Stille, Speculating, Canada on Trent Radio 92.7 FM
Lloyd Penney, fan writing for fanzines and e-zines

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Author Birthdays - Nancy Collins, Pat Cadigan & Tera Lynn Childs

Happy birthday to a very diverse group of speculative fiction authors -  Nancy Collins, Pat Cadigan and Tera Lynn Childs.

Walking Wolf (July 2015)
Nancy A. Collins authors fantasy, YA, urban fantasy, horror, graphic novels and more. Nancy's vampire character Sonja Blue from Sunglasses After Dark (1989) was a shocker and the beginning of a lengthy series. That was the novel that made me a fan. Fox Television is currently developing her Golgotham urban fantasy series--Right Hand Magic, Left Hand Magic, and Magic and Loss--for NBC.

Pat Cadigan is a Hugo and Arthur C. Clarke award-winning science fiction author whose forte is the short story.  Her most recent story In Case of Zebras appeared in the Ellen Datlow anthology, The Doll Collection (Mar 2015).

Powerless (June 2015)
by Tera Lynn Childs & Tracy Deebs
Tera Lynn Childs is the author of young adult fiction about mermaids, monsters, mythology, faeries, and superheroes.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Grokking "The Martian"

I can't say enough about how terrific a read The Martian by Andy Weir is. Astronaut Mark Watney is propelled from one crisis to another in his efforts to stay alive long enough to be rescued after an incident that leaves him stranded and alone. He's ingenious, irreverent and one of the most captivating characters to grace SF in a long, long time. Here is the cover and book blurb -

BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

The Martian was originally serialized and published on Andy Weir's website. The writing of the novel itself was a labour of love with no original intention that it be published professionally. For the incredible story on The Martian's journey to best seller status and a Ridley Scott motion picture, check out this interview by Mythbusters ultimate science geek and McGyverist, Adam Savage.


Canadian ISS Astronaut Chris Hadfield blurbs the book and has this to say about it -
A book I just couldn’t put down! It has the very rare combination of a good, original story, interestingly real characters and fascinating technical accuracy…reads like “MacGyver” meets “Mysterious Island.”
Difficult to get higher praise about the science in science fiction than that from an astronaut.

The audiobook version of The Martian is also a wonderful listen, with narrator R.C Bray bringing the characters to life with verve and vitality. Check it out while you wait for the movie to arrive. And speaking of the movie, who better then Ridley Scott (Bladerunner) to bring an adaptation of the story to the big screen (October 2). This trailer leaves me hopeful that it is faithful to the spirit of the novel.


Because I grok the The Martian, I leave you with this further apropos quote from science fiction grandmaster Robert Heinlein -
"Everything is theoretically impossible, until it's done."
I think Mark Watney would agree.


Andy Weir Links:


Fantasy Author Birthday - China Miéville

And a very happy birthday to UK fantasy author China Miéville. My first introduction to his writing was with Perdido Street Station (2000) his second novel set in a Victorian steampunk world. This was before steampunk became the popular sub-genre that it is now. If you love language you will love his writing which is chock full of interesting turns of phrase and word choices. Perhaps my favourite UK fantasist. China is the recipient of multiple Arthur C. Clarke and British Fantasy Awards. His latest is...

Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories (Aug 2015)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Weekly Wonders and Wackiness


Not sure about everyone else but I am frequently receiving promo requests from folks with various Kickstarter projects. One I received this week I found quite entertaining and would have loved when I was younger; a new and improved version of beer pong. Yep, you read that right. Just love the earnestness of the sales pitch.


Under the category of wackiness lets talk about climate change deniers. Loosed Upon the World is a terrific anthology just out that, presents a collection of climate change stories. If you know a denier, buy this, and give them a copy and maybe it will scare them out of their complacency.

COVER COPY:

This is the definitive collection of climate fiction from John Joseph Adams, the acclaimed editor of The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy and Wastelands. These provocative stories explore our present and speculate about all of our tomorrows through terrifying struggle, and hope.

Join the bestselling authors Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, Nancy Kress, Kim Stanley Robinson, Jim Shepard, and over twenty others as they presciently explore the greatest threat to our future.

This is a collection that will challenge readers to look at the world they live in as if for the first time.

If you spend any amount of time on the Interwebz you undoubtedly use Google. Finding what you want without sorting through pages of results is always a challenge in the category of wonderful here is 10 of the Coolest Google Tricks to make you life easier.


In the wacky category I was going to add the just released Gag Reel for Age of Ultron but there was nary a giggle in the whole thing. I just saved you two minutes of your life. Also over at Flavorwire they posted this article Are Grown-up Coloring Books the Future of Publishing? Seriously folks?

Friday, September 4, 2015

SF Movie Trailer - The FIfth Wave

A trailer was just released for The Fifth Wave, an end-of-the-world alien invasion movie based on the young adult science fiction trilogy of books by Rick Yancey. Might be fun but on first glance I think we've seen it all before. Nice though that they destroy something other than the White House or the Golden Gate Bridge for a change.

SF Author Birthday - Karl Schroeder

Happy birthday to Canadian science fiction author Karl Schroeder. Karl has over a dozen novels and an amazing CV that includes membership in the Association of Professional Futurists with his own consultancy and is a Chair of the Canadian node of the Millennium Project. Here is his latest...

Lockstep (2014) by Karl Schroeder with a fab Chris McGrath cover.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Graphic Novel Review - Tabatha by Neil Gibson

Tabatha (Nov 2015) 140 pages.
DESCRIPTION:
Luke works as a mailman in Los Angeles and moonlights as a thief - the empty houses on his postal route are rich, easy pickings for him and his friends. Everything goes as planned until one house turns out to not quite be so empty. The situation spirals out of control, leaving the happy-go-lucky thieves battling for their lives. And all because of Tabatha.

Tabatha is a work of contemporary horror and the macabre. It collects the four issues of the original serialized story. The description above doesn't do the novel justice as the core of the story is well-crafted portrayal of a modern day monster (the serial killer) who has a suitably deranged pathology. Both the writer (Neil Gibson) and the artist (Caspar Wijngaard) have fun with it. The evil dude has an interesting collection of movie props and I am sure there are a few in-jokes buried there.

The artwork panels have plenty of variety to keep you engaged and it is easy to fly through the story. I find it hard to judge at times when creators are being retro or just a little off the mark. So my only quibble may itself be off the mark and that is that the women are a little too objectified and the guys too chauvinistic. Seemed too much like a standard trope.

The packaging of the series is well done with some nice bonus content at the end including original issue cover art and alternative designs. Based on my reading of Tabatha I'd read more from this team and recommend it if you like the macabre and don't mind a little gore.

LINKS:


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

SF Author Birthdays - C.J.Cherryh, S.Andrew Swann & Timothy Zahn

A trifecta of science fiction author birthdays today represented by C.J. Cherryh, S. Andrew Swann and Timothy Zahn. Cherryh is a Hugo award-winning author with over 60 novels. S.Andrew Swann has written over 20 novels in SF, fantasy and horror. TThe likewise prolific Timothy Zahn has written novelizations in the Star Wars universe and Cobra trilogies. Here are their latest...

Peacemaker (April 2015) Book 15 in the Foreigner series)
Dragon Thief (April 2015), second book of his Dragon series.
Cobra Outlaw (coming April 2016)



Monday, August 31, 2015

SF Author Birthday - Steve Perry

Happy birthday to science fiction author Steve Perry. Steve has written dozens of novels. My particular favourite is his Matador series, engaging galactic adventures featuring a roguish hero/revolutionary. Here is Steve's most recently release...

The Tejano Conflict (Dec 2014), third book in the Cutter's Wars military SF series.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

SF Review - One Year After by William R. Forstchen

One Year After: A Novel
Hardcover – September 15, 2015
Book Description: New York Times bestselling author William R. Forstchen brings a sequel to his hit novel One Second After. Months before publication, One Second After was cited on the floor of Congress as a book all Americans should read, a book discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a truly realistic look at the dangers of EMPs. An EMP is a weapon with the power to destroy the entire United States in a single act of terrorism, in a single second; indeed, it is a weapon that the Wall Street Journal warns could shatter America. One Second After was a dire warning of what might be our future...and our end. Now, One Year After returns to the small town of Black Mountain, and the man who struggled so hard to rebuild it in the wake of devastation-John Matherson. It is a thrilling follow-up and should delight fans in every way.

My Take

One Year After is a post apocalyptic disaster novel and a direct sequel to One Day After, a New York Times bestseller in 2009. I have not read the earlier book. My introduction to William Forstchen's writing was way back in 1983 when I read and enjoyed his first science fiction novel, Ice Prophet, the first book in a trilogy and you guessed it, a post apocalyptic story set well into the future. One Year After however is fully rooted in contemporary times.

One Year After is an everyman story, set in an ordinary town, whose characters could be your neighbours. The titular leader of the community is John Matherson, ex-soldier, professor, husband and father. There is a folksy air to the whole thing that is quite refreshing. No over-the-top heroics. McGuyverisms or any other larger than life exploits that so often underscore post-apocalyptic tales.

Recovery from the huge EMP attack that destroyed the country's technological infrastructure is in its infancy and the community emanates a renewed sense of optimism until a newly reformed government intrudes and begins to disrupt their progress with calls for a military draft that could devastate their hard-won security and rebuilding efforts. John has doubts and concerns about their intentions which only grow as events unfold.

The narrative relates the personal stories of many of residents, their losses, their strengths and hopes for the future, creating familiar context that binds the reader to this community. They struggle with re-learning pre-electronic technology to restore basic human services. No one has all the answers. No hats. No rabbits. And not everyone gets a happy ever after.

Tension and a degree of paranoia is created and sustained because of the towns isolation from lack of communication ability. Other than some infrequent BBC World broadcasts on old equipment, they know very little about the state of rest of the country. The new federal government administrator is sketchy and cloaks most information behind a "need to know" wall and is surrounded by hostile troops of the new ANR (Army of National Recovery). "Requests" are made and then demands. The novel starts out at a leisurely pace and builds quickly to crisis, action and conflict and ultimately a limited victory.

Forstchen brings this chapter in the lives of the people of Black Mountain, North Carolina to a satisfying conclusion but events clearly dictate a further continuation of the story. I quite liked this smaller stage, the ordinary people and their extraordinary efforts and sacrifice. John as a history professor often quotes from history and in particular Winston Churchill. I think if you could ask the fictional John Matherson to describe what mattered most for Black Mountain he would quote this from Churchill, “You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” That is the essence of their struggles.

One Year After is recommended as a solid entry in the post-apocalyptic ouevre. It stands fine on its own without the need to have read One Day More, but likely you will want to know the whole story..

AUTHOR SHOWCASE

Author William R. Forstchen
 Links: 

Other books in this series:

One Second After (2009)



Thursday, August 27, 2015

Speculative Fiction Author Birthdays - Ann Aguirre & Richard Kadrey


Happy birthday to author Richard Kadrey best known for his Sandman Slim urban fantasy series and numerous other fine fantasy concoctions. Also celebrating today is the multi-talented Ann Aguirre who has multiple series crossing over from science fiction to urban fantasy to YA and more. Here are their latest offerings...

Killing Pretty (July 2015) is the seventh novel in the Sandman Slim series.
Breakout (Aug 2015) is the third book in the Jax universe spinoff series The Dred Chronicles. Ann also writes as Ava Gray and A.A. Aguirre



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

TV Review - Fear the Walking Dead Pilot

Last nights premiere of the Walking Dead spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead, had the challenge of meeting high expectations from fans of the series. I have watched all of the Walking Dead seasons and am a devoted fan. So what was my take on this semi-prequel set in Los Angeles?

Originally I planned to write this review yesterday morning but having watched the 90 minute episode Sunday night didn't feel compelled to get down to it. Why? I wanted a chance to let my reaction percolate a little and unfortunately it remains slightly lukewarm.

In its own way the opening salvo is an origin story, at least for the family that the episode focuses on and suffers as most such setups do. Too much seemingly irrelevant details. Individually their performances were fine but the characters themselves left me ambivalent. Do I care about them? Not at this point which I recognize is early, but they will have a long way to go to make this family interesting.

Conversations and dialogue seemed deliberately off-kilter I assume to begin to create the necessary suspense and build tension. I found this to be a little artificial and unnatural. I recognize that the audience is in the know about what is to come but for some of the simplest things the characters seem obtuse, not asking questions where a normal person surely would.

The cast
One of the strongest features of the Walking Dead debut that contributed to its wow factor launch was the fantastic soundtrack. Fear the Walking Dead's sound and music seems functional and forgettable. Let's hope it improves. There were a couple of minor scenes that were odd or silly and included the kid in the guidance counselors office with his dire prognostications. A character straight out of central casting for a Stephen King novel. We'll see if that angle goes anywhere. From a "what were they thinking of" point of view I nominate the principal's office scene where the mother talks to his back and we wonder for a moment if he has turned walker. Way too lowbrow.

But all is not doom and gloom or yawn worthy because the final five minutes definitely throws gasoline on the walker fire. Creepy and satisfying, they should have reached for that moment 30 minutes sooner.

Episode 1 Score: C+

Urban Fantasy/Fantasy Author Birthdays - Laura Anne Gilman & Simon R. Green

Happy birthday to two talented fantasy/urban fantasy writers, Laura Anne Gilman who made her breakout with the Costra Nostradamus UF series which remains one of my all-time favourites and Simon R. Green architect of the Nightside UF series and many (and I do mean many) other series of fantasy and SF. Simon's newest release comes out today on his birthday! Here are their most recent offerings...

Silver on the Road (Oct 2015) First book in a new heroic fantasy series called The Devil's West.
Forces from Beyond (Aug 2015) is book 6 in his Ghost Finder series.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Urban Fantasy Author Birthday - Nicole Peeler

Happy birthday to Nicole Peeler author of the very funny Jane True urban fantasy series that also happens to have some of the most fabulous cover art. Here's her newest release...

Jinn and Juice (2014). Not part of Jane True series.

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