Archive for April, 2010

Sheila Williams is the Editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine which just announced that they are accepting electronic submissions (for new submissions — no need to re-submit stories if you already have).

SF Signal recently had the opportunity to talk to Sheila about electronic submissions, the short and long term goals of this decision, Asimov’s availability on eBook readers, demographics, and upcoming projects.


Charles Tan: Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. The elephant in the room is what made you decide to finally accept electronic submissions?

Sheila Williams: E-ink is the simple answer. I spend much of my working day writing, editing, and doing production work on a laptop. Large-scale reading on a backlit computer screen has never appealed to me. I’ve appreciated many aspects of an electronic submission system for sometime, though. I purchased a large-sized reader last summer with the hope that it would offer me some of the advantages of reading a book or a magazine without giving me the added eyestrain of a computer. My electronic reader has been a complete joy. I can carry around my newspaper, back issue of Asimov’s, the New Yorker, Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes, Thucydidies, and The Windup Girl, and read any one of them whenever I feel like it. I’ve already experimented with a few manuscripts and have found that they are easy to read and to take notes on.

I’ve also been concerned about international submissions for a while. In addition to the high costs and the difficulties authors encounter when they try to find international reply coupons or U.S. postage, the mail service isn’t completely reliable — I never received Gord Sellar’s first submission and Somtow Sucharitkul has had to express-mail material to me from Thailand. I’ve even found that parts of Canada can be difficult to reach by mail. I’ve already been beta testing the new system with a number of authors living outside the US and I’ve been delighted with the ease with which the system works.

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I’m in the middle of reading Kage Baker’s Not Less Than Gods and I’m impressed with how good the book is. In fact, I’ve read two other Company books and they’ve been uniformly excellent. In fact, a quote from Amazing Stories (on the back) sums up the Company series quite nicely:

One of the most consistently entertaining series…

The Company books have been that so far but it got me to thinking about other series that I’ve found to be entertaining from start to finish. I can name two right off:

  • The Harry Dresden series from Jim Butcher – One of those rare creatures that starts out good, then gets better with each passing book. The latest novel Changes takes some risks with Dresden’s situation and is all the better for it. And this is from a guy who is not a fan of fantasy. This series is that good.
  • The Sten series by Allen Cole and Chris Bunch – One of my all time favorite series. I’ve read and re-read them probably six times or so over the past twenty years. The later books lose a bit of steam, but the last book goes a long way toward redeeming them. They’re SF military(ish) black-ops adventure novels that are just a lot of fun to read. I may have to read them again.

But what about you? What series have you found to be consistently entertaining?

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s define a series as consisting of three or more books and we’ll stipulate that you’ve actually read the entire series (one or more times).

Let us know!

Beneath Ceaseless Skies has posted the table of contents of their upcoming anthology: The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year One:

  • “The Sword of Loving Kindness” by Chris Willrich
  • “Architectural Constants” by Yoon Ha Lee
  • “Silk and Shadow” by Tony Pi
  • “Driftwood” by Marie Brennan
  • “Unrest” by Grace Seybold
  • “Dragon’s-Eyes” by Margaret Ronald
  • “Kreisler’s Automata” by Matthew David Surridge
  • “The Alchemist’s Feather” by Erin Cashier
  • “The Mansion of Bones” by Richard Parks
  • “The Mathematics of Faith” by Jonathan Wood
  • “Blighted Heart” by Aliette de Bodard
  • “The Tinyman and Caroline” by Sarah L. Edwards
  • “Father’s Kill” by Christopher Green
  • “Thieves of Silence” by Holly Phillips

[via Locus Online]

REMINDER: Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day

This is a reminder that tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day.

To take advantage of this, stop by your local comic book store and choose from a wonderful selection of comics. Come on…you know you want to…

WINNER: Morpheus Road Giveaway

And we have our winner in our Morpheus Road contest and he is:

Jeff S. of Olathe, KS

Congratulations Jeff, your goodies should be on their way to soon and thank you to everyone for entering!

SF Tidbits for 4/30/10

Interviews/Profiles

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INTERVIEW: Karin Lowachee

Karin Lowachee was born in South America, grew up in Canada, and worked in the Arctic. Her first novel Warchildwon the 2001 Warner Aspect First Novel Contest. Both Warchild (2002) and her third novel Cagebird(2005) were finalists for the Philip K. Dick Award. Cagebird won the Prix Aurora Award in 2006 for Best Long-Form Work in English and the Spectrum Award also in 2006. Her second novel Burndrive debuted at #7 on the Locus Bestseller List. Her books have been translated into French, Hebrew, and Japanese. Her current fantasy novel, The Gaslight Dogs, was recently published through Orbit Books USA in April 2010.


Andrew Liptak: Hi Karin, thank you for having a couple of words with us. You had a bit of a break between your first trilogy and the start of the second: what have you been up to in the last couple of years?

Karin Lowachee: Thanks for asking! Cagebird kind of burnt me out, to be honest. The book was so heavy and after dealing with it I needed some space and I was re-evaluating some things in my life as well, which is healthy to do on a regular basis. I’m conscious of the fact that writing shouldn’t consume me on every level because that’s not balanced, I have other interests and goals, and it’s very easy to get too involved in the world of writing instead of with the writing itself and how that contributes to me as a person. But that being said, I was also developing other novel ideas through that period in conjunction with my publisher at the time, Warner Aspect. But development is a slow process (my process is generally slow, I’m not the sort of writer that can blow through 5 novels in 5 years) and I think I drew up at least 2 or 3 full novel proposals that didn’t mesh with what they wanted. Then Warner shuffled and I changed publishers. There are background things that go on sometimes that stall a writer from outputting, but I actually pitched The Gaslight Dogs back in 2007 and the process took however long it took to write, and then was subject to Orbit’s publishing schedule. You don’t get into this business if you aren’t patient.

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Here’s a fresh batch of recently-revealed covers going head-to-head-to-head in another Book Cover Smackdown, where you play art critic and pick your favorite cover. Here are the contenders…

Your Mission (should you choose to accept it): Tell us which cover you like best and why.

Books shown here:

NOTE: Bigger, better cover art images are available by clicking the images or title links.

WINNER: 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Award

The winner of the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Award, given to the best SF novel published each year in the UK (not necessarily by a British writer), is The City & The City by China Miéville (published by Macmillan).

[via NextRead]

See also:


SF Tidbits for 4/29/10

Interviews/Profiles

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MIND MELD: The Apple iPad: Sizzle or Fizzle?

Science fiction fans love new gadgets. The most recently hyped gadget is the Apple iPad. Sure, it’s sexy, but like any gadget, it has its pros and cons.

We asked this week’s panelists:

Q: Do you own an Apple iPad? If so, what are the things you like and dislike about it? If not, are you thinking of getting one? Why or why not?

Here’s what they said.

Marie Brennan
Marie Brennan is the author of the Onyx Court series of historical fantasy novels: Midnight Never Come, In Ashes Lie, and the upcoming A Star Shall Fall. She has also published nearly thirty short stories. More information at www.swantower.com.

Full disclosure: my brother works on the iPad. Which doesn’t give me any special insights or advantages — I spent a year and a half not knowing what his job was, just that he’d been moved to a new team at Apple, before they announced the thing publicly — but if you want to read bias into this, go ahead.

I don’t own an iPad, and am not likely to buy one any time soon, for a variety of reasons: cost paired with lack of immediate pressing need, caution regarding the first generation of *anything*, etc. Having said that, when I saw the specs of the iPad, I admit it looked attractive, for two reasons.

Weight/size and battery life…

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Fritz Lang’s Metropolis has had a long and interesting history. After its premier in Germany in 1927 the film was cut and in the intervening decades, much of the footage has been lost. Several different attempts have been made to restore the movie as close to the original as possible, and in 2008, a new version with 30 more minutes of footage as discovered. In Feb. 2010, this footage was restored and placed into a new version of Metropolis and shown in Germany. This version will be released to theaters around the world this summer (awesome!) and will also have a Blu-ray version available for Christmas.

Kino International, the people behind the 147-minute Blue-ray version, have released this trailer to promote The Complete Metropolis. Check it out:

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SF Tidbits for 4/28/10

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Born of Hope is an independent feature film inspired by a couple of paragraphs in the appendices of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. This drama is set in the time before the War of the Ring and tells the story of the Dúnedain, the Rangers of the North, before the return of the King. It featres Arathorn and Gilraen, the parents of Aragorn, from their first meeting through a turbulent time in their people’s history.

You can watch the full 70-minute film after the jump…

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REVIEW: Zeus – King of the Gods (Olympians #1) by George O’Connor

REVIEW SUMMARY: A graphic novel that succeeded where my schooling failed: it made Greek mythology interesting.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Zeus grows up to defeat his power-hungry father, Kronos.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Based on an interesting mythology; engages the reader.

CONS: Characterizations are kept at a minimum.

BOTTOM LINE: A worthwhile graphic novel that captures the excitement of Greek mythology.

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Tuesday Tune: ‘Song for the Divine Mother of the Universe’ (Space Monkey!)

Created as a collaboration between World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Ben Lee and Leo Burnett, “Space Monkey” carries a message about our planet, and features Ben Lee’s track, “Song for the Divine Mother of the Universe”.

[via Neatorama]

Shine Anthology: The Interviews

In case you missed it during the past few weeks, Charles Tan interviewed the authors who contributed to Shine: An Anthology of Near-Future Optimistic Science Fiction edited by Jetse de Vries. Here is the index to those interviews:

See also:

SF Tidbits for 4/27/10

Interviews/Profiles

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GIVEAWAY REMINDER: Morpheus Road Prize Pack

Time is quickly running out for you to enter to win our Morpheus Road prize pack from author D.J. MacHale. You could win the first five books in his Pendragon series plus his newest book, Morpheus Road.

Please visit the original giveaway post for all the details on how to enter.

Good luck!


[Athena Andreadis was born in Greece and lured to the US at age 18 by a full scholarship to Harvard. She does basic research in molecular neurobiology, focusing on mental retardation and dementia. She is an avid reader in four languages across genres, is the author of To Seek Out New Life: The Biology of Star Trek and writes speculative fiction and non-fiction on a wide swath of topics. Her work can be found in Strange Horizons, Crossed Genres, Science in My Fiction, H+ Magazine, The Huffington Post, and her own site, Starship Reckless.]

REVIEW SUMMARY: Optimistic near-future SF collection

RATING: absolute, in context

PROS: A welcome change from cyberpunk/urban noir adolescent gloom. Diverse in style and content, human/e in tone and scale.

CONS: Uneven, like all tightly themed collections; few truly memorable, trailblazing stories.

An editor who undertakes to compile an anthology of optimistic SF must toil up a steep and stony hill. It has become an article of increasing faith and fashion in contemporary SF that happy endings lack sophistication and hence are fit to appear only in such déclassé subgenre ghettoes as – horrors! -romance or squarish venues like Analog. Girls can squee, but manly geeks need their angst. Not surprisingly, this mindset mirrors the declining political and financial fortunes of the Anglosaxon First World. The attitude is so pervasive that it has trickled even into Hollywood, that lowest of common denominators: with the partial exception of Star Trek, there are no functioning post-scarcity quasi-utopian societies in movies and TV.

Into this breach stepped author and editor Jetse de Vries, who broadcast his intent to publish an SF anthology that was not only optimistic but also near-future. How do you say Cruisin’ for a bruisin’ in 22nd century Spandarin? But he persevered and Shine duly appeared, with a cover of a glowing lovely young Eurasian woman who reaches toward the reader with a beguiling half-smile… but lacks nipples and is surrounded by grim gunmetal-gray skyscrapers and smokestacks. Which is an accurate visual summary of the collection’s stories and their strengths and weaknesses.

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