The BSFA Awards 2014 Winners Announced

The BSFA Awards 2014 winners were announced at a ceremony at the 66th Eastercon Dysprosium at the Park Inn Hotel, Heathrow on Sunday 5th April 2015. The BSFA wishes to thank the Dysprosium team, Claire Briarley and Neil K. Bond for assisting with the count, Awards Administrator Farah Mendlesohn, trophy designers Skulls and Robots aka Lauren Hubbard and Dan Brodie and our guest presenters – Caroline Mullan, Jaine Fenn, Kari Sperring and Ian McDonald. A special thank you to our guest MC, Gareth L. Powell for his sparkling and erudite presentation.

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Congratulations to all our winners and nominees.

Best Novel

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (Orbit)

Best Short Fiction

“The Honey Trap” by Ruth E. J. Booth, La Femme (Newcon Press)

Best Non-Fiction

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers and the First World War by Edward James

Best Art

“The Wasp Factory” after Iain Banks by Tessa Farmer

Please click below for a breakdown of the vote:

Final Ballot 3

SFF and BSFA AGMs – Save the Date!

SAVE THE DATE – 6th June 2015
Brian Aldiss  and Pat Cadigan are the Guests of Honour for the 2015 SFF & BSFA Mini-Convention and Annual General Meetings
When: Saturday 6 June 2015, 10-5 pm.
Where: Central London. Venue to be confirmed in the very near future.
See bsfa.co.uk or sf-foundation.org/events/index.html for updates.
Cost: Free! BSFA and SFF membership is required to vote in their respective AGMs.

TWEETFICTION TWEETSTREAM! DURING DYSPROSIUM – EASTERCON 2015

TWEETFICTION TWEETSTREAM!

DURING DYSPROSIUM – EASTERCON 2015

The Tweetstream

  • is free to enter of course
  • each author is allowed multiple entries
  • is open to writers of any age and nationality, including professional authors and BSFA Committee members.

Story Format Suggestions & Encouraged Behaviour 

  • Stories can be in any language! But must fit entirely into a single tweet.
  • Submissions should be original – they should be the sole work of the author/s in whose name they are submitted
  • Stories can be Science Fiction or Fantasy – we encourage a broad definition of what those terms mean.
  • Stories should not feature characters/locations/ etc. that are part of other copyrighted works – i.e. nothing set in the universes ofStar WarsStar TrekStargate, 
  • Please include the hashtag #tbsfa – which leaves 134 characters for creativity
  • Simply tweet your story (including the hashtag #TBSFA as stated above, we’ll pick it up)
  • Unless notified to the BSFA via tweetfiction@bsfa.co.ukthe use of #tbsfa will be assumed to grant permission for the BSFA to reproduce at the awards ceremony or within future membership publications.

 

Adminstration

  • Of course entries could commence anytime but we would encourage entries to co-incide with Eastercon so we would suggest start posting from midnight Wednesday April 1st2015
  • We would suggest the closing date for submissions is midnight (BST) onTuesday April 7th 2015.
  • If anything is unclear, or if you have any questions, please email tweetfiction@bsfa.co.uk

 

JOIN IN !

BSFA Events at Dysprosium

Just a reminder that the following BSFA events are taking place at this coming weekend’s Dysprosium Eastercon 66 at Park Inn, Heathrow.

Saturday 17:30 – 18:30, Discovery “Runar munt þu finna”: why sing pop in dead languages?: The BSFA Lecture will be given by Dr Simon Trafford of the Institute of Historical Research. Introduced by Edward James and Chaired by Tony Keen.

Sunday 17:30 – 18:30, Discovery, The BSFA Awards: Presented by Gareth L. Powell

(Nomination details are here. If you’re at the con, please come to the BSFA desk to pick up a ballot paper)

… and the following items are also on the programme featuring BSFA committee-members:

Friday

Johnson, 11:15 – 12.15

RIP The Media Room?: The future of media programme items at conventions. A future of con-running item.
Dave Lally, Harry Payne, Mark Slater.

Discovery, 15:00 – 16:00

The Things We Learned From Pratchett: An exploration of fantasy, storytelling
and ethics.
Jim Butcher, Edward James, Seanan McGuire, Farah Mendlesohn, Jessica
Yates.

Saturday

Endeavour, 12:30 – 13:30

Equal Rites?: The use of Science Fiction and Fantasy literature and
television to promote diversity, from the uber-multicultural Discworld to the
bridge of the original Enterprise. How far have we come and are we pulling
the mainstream along with us?
Farah Mendlesohn, Fiona Moore, Sarah Shemilt.

Endeavour, 13:45 – 14:45

Editorial Workshop: Donna Scott is a professional copy-editor. This workshop
offers a crash-course in how to self-edit a ‘finished’ piece of work, with tips
on rooting out common foibles, including tautology, exposition and other
hazards. We will also explore some of the mysteries of the professional
editorial process.
You can submit the first 500 words of your own prose for the group work via
the BSFA desk the day before the workshop, but if you don’t feel brave
enough, I will find a suitable practice text for you.
20 places maximum: please book in advance.
This will involve pair-work, so be prepared to make a new acquaintance.

For more details please contact chair@bsfa.co.uk

BSFA Award Advance Voting Extended (Slightly)

It has been pointed out by some of the membership that the deadline given on the e-form and the newsletter for BSFA Award Advance voting was wrong, and there were rumours going round that the voting had already closed, with ensuing vexation as the booklets we send out to our members have not yet been received.

We apologise for the understandable stress and anxiety this caused. The deadline had not in fact passed, but we have decided to extend our voting deadline by as much as we possibly could to be able to give you as much time as possible to cast your informed vote. Please note that although the PDF link on the site leads to a form that still states a deadline of midnight Tuesday 31st March (for the time being), as you may have gathered on social media we are now accepting votes by the membership a full 24 hours later, with the new voting deadline of 1st April.

Also, you will have until midday on Sunday 5th April to post your ballot in the ballot box on the BSFA desk at the Dysprosium Eastercon, Park Inn Hotel Heathrow, if you are going to that.

And the booklets…. I have been assured by the printers that they will be with you this week, along with the latest issue of Vector.

PPS. May I also thank the people who pointed out the mistakes.

April BSFA London Meeting: Den Patrick interviewed by Gillian Redfearn

Title: April BSFA London Meeting: Den Patrick interviewed by Gillian Redfearn
Location: Upstairs, The Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND
Description: On Wednesday 22nd April 2015, Den Patrick (Author of The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, and The Boy who Wept Blood ) will be interviewed by Gillian Redfearn, Publishing Director of Gollancz.

 

Den Patrick

 

 

Gillian Redfearn

 

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

Map is here.

The interview will start at 7 pm. We have the room from 6 pm (and if early, fans are in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

FUTURE EVENTS:

27th May 2015-TBA

24th June 2015- Sarah Pinborough interviewed by James Barclay
Start Time: 19:00
Date: 2015-04-22

Win Tickets: The Nether – competition extended to non-members

Jennifer Haley’s critically-acclaimed, multi-award-winning science-fiction play The Nether is currently running at Duke of York’s Theatre until 25th April following a sold-out run at the Royal Court Theatre. Plus, the play has been nominated for 4 Olivier Awards, including Best New Play.

nether

The Nether offers complete freedom – a new virtual wonderland providing total sensory immersion. Just log in, choose an identity and indulge your every desire.

An intricate crime drama and a haunting thriller set in the year 2050, The Nether follows an investigation into the complicated, disturbing morality of identity in the digital world, and explores the consequences of making dreams a reality.

Win a pair of tickets to see this amazing play described as “A mind-bending drama about virtual reality… ingenious” by The Times.

 

In order to win a pair of tickets, please answer the following question:

 

Amanda Hale, who plays the role of Morris in The Nether featured in the TV Series Being Human as which ghostly character?

 

Submit your answer as an email to chair@bsfa.co.uk with “The Nether Competition” in the subject line.

 

Competition closes at midnight on Wednesday 18th March and winners will be notified by Friday 20th March.

 

Terms and conditions: Tickets valid for a Monday – Thursday performance until 31st March subject to availability. There is no cash alternative to the prizes, they are non-refundable and non-transferable and not for resale.

‘More than vaguely reminiscent of The Matrix, The Nether @royalcourt is a tense vision of a web-crazed near future’ Evening Standard

 

See here for ticket information.

Remembering Terry Pratchett

11046830_10152645355625025_2942093833607366074_oHow sad it is to write that we no longer have Terry Pratchett on the same planet as us anymore.

On Thursday 12th March, Sir Terry Pratchett – writer of genius and creator of the Discworld – passed away. He was a mere 66 years old. He had been living with PCA, a rare form of Alzheimer’s, or “the embuggerance” as he called it, since it was first diagnosed back in 2007.

I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s books, but though I have read most of the 40 Discworld novels and quite a few others besides, I must confess I only have a few of them on my shelves. I think the reason for that is because his books were so, so good, they were deliciously shareable. I first shared Terry with my best friend, Steph, when we were teenagers, because she had the good grace to discover him first and then go buy all the books and lend them to me. And then, because I really wanted to read them again, I bought the first two – The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic –  as gifts for my little brother. And because he loved them too, he’d get a Discworld novel from me every time I wanted to get him a gift. I really didn’t think that one through, as we both ended up growing up and living in different houses, so of course he got to keep all the books because they were his – pfft. I think he may have raised an eyebrow when I queued for two hours in the Merry Hill centre to get a copy of Jingo, only to find that because I’d only bought one I’d got Terry to sign it “to Donna and James”, so he wasn’t even first billing. And then I went and bought another copy anyway!

Terry Pratchett was one of the first writers I found a proper fandom for. I loved the jokes. I loved the footnotes.* I loved the characters: Granny Weatherwax; Rincewind and Luggage; Mort. But I also loved Death – I collected the Clarecraft figurines of him, though my favourite was always Death of Rats. SQUEAK.

Incidentally, “squeak” is probably the only thing I ever managed to say to him. I would blush tremendously whenever I got to meet him, I was so much in awe. And talk about inspiration! When Terry Pratchett advocated that he became a writer “because it was indoor work with no heavy lifting”, that appealed to me very much. But you know what, I also loved that he took the time to give great encouragement to new writers, and that he set up The Terry Pratchett Prize Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now for this purpose.

As I listened to the BBC radio adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens last month, I was so glad that he was in it, along with Neil, playing a copper. It was sad to see him so frail at Fantasycon in 2013, so to hear him sounding hale and jovial was a joy. We all knew the road PCA was leading our heroic writer, but every extra joke, every book, every other bit of exciting news was another gift, and we all like the gifts to keep coming.

Since he passed away, fans have been busy posting art tributes (I like the one I saw depicting Terry Pratchett playing chess against Death) and stories. Quite a few people I know have signed a petition at Change.org asking Death to bring him back. I think he’d rather have liked this.

Enjoy your travels, Terry, and don’t forget to take Luggage with you.

  • “Ook. Oook, oooook!”

Sorry, Librarian. I love you too!

 

Sir Terence David JohnTerryPratchett, OBE (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015)

March London BSFA Meeting: Suniti Namjoshi Interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn

Location: Upstairs, The Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND

DSCF5135

On Wednesday 25th of March 2015Suniti Namjoshi (fabulist and poet) will be interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn (critic and Professor). Are shape-changing cows, bolshy cats, matriarchal utopias/dystopias and the construction of Babel part of SF?

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

The interview will start at 7 pm. We have the room from 6 pm (and if early, fans are in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Map is here.

FUTURE EVENTS:

22nd April 2015- Den Patrick Interviewed by Gillian Redfearn

27th May 2015- Edward James interviewed by Phil Dyson

24th June 2015-Sarah Pinborough interviewed by James Barclay

March BSFA London Meeting: Suniti Namjoshi interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn

Suniti Namjoshi

Title: March BSFA London Meeting: Suniti Namjoshi interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn
Location: Upstairs, The Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND
Description: On Wednesday 25th of March 2015, Suniti Namjoshi (Poet and fabulist, author of Feminist Fables and the Aditi children’s books, amongst many works) will be interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn (Hugo and BSFA-Award winning academic and writer).

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

The interview will start at 7 pm. We have the room from 6 pm (and if early, fans are in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

FUTURE EVENTS:

22nd April 2015- Den Patrick Interviewed by Gillian Redfearn

27th May 2015- TBA

24th June 2015- Sarah Pinborough interviewed by James Barclay
Start Time: 19:00
Date: 2015-03-25

BSFA Stand at International Women’s Day, Guildhall Northampton

Title: BSFA Stand at International Women’s Day, Guildhall Northampton
Location: The Guildhall, St Giles Square, Northampton, NN1 1DE
Description:
The International Women’s Day event will run from 11am to 3pm and hundreds of women of all ages are expected along to enjoy the activities on offer. Throughout the day there will be a host of free activities, workshops, talks, demonstrations and performances that women can take part in, including henna tattooing, arts and crafts, and well-being. There will also be information about opportunities and services for women locally.

Donna Bond of the BSFA will have a stall at the event where you can come and discover some of the local and national opportunities for readers and writers of science fiction literature, and get some recommended reading.

If you have anything you think may be of interest for the stall please get in touch with Donna at chair@bsfa.co.uk
Start Time: 11:00
Date: 2015-03-07
End Time: 15:00

SFSF Social #2 Sunday, 1st March 2015, 4pm-8pm

Title: SFSF Social #2 Sunday, 1st March 2015, 4pm-8pm
Location: The Old Queen’s Head, 40 Pond Hill, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 2BG
Link out: Click here
Description: Joining us for the SFSF Social #2 this time are author Ian Sales (ahem – the BSFA-Award-winning Ian Sales!), and author and theatrical sordfighter Dana Fredsti.

Ian Sales has published three volumes of his hard science fiction/alt-history Apollo Quartet through his own Whippleshield Books; the first volume, Adrift on the Sea of Rains, won a BSFA award in 2012. The final volume in the series, All That Outer Space Allows, will be published this year – as will the first book in his new space opera trilogy, A Prospect of War, which will come from Tickety Boo Press.

Dana Fredsti’s a theatrical swordfighter, whose film credits include Army of Darkness. Her Ashley Parker novels, Plague Town, Plague Nation, and Plague World are published by Titan Books.

There will, once more, be giveaway prizes to be had, and once the upstairs readings and talks are done, we’ll be sticking around for a good old chat in the bar too. Please do use the Eventbrite listing to let us know you’re coming, and spread the word to anyone who might be interested! We hope to see you there!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sfsf-social-2-tickets-15724514446
Start Time: 16:00
Date: 2015-03-01
End Time: 20:00

BSFA Awards 2014 – Shortlist Announced

We are pleased to announce the following shortlisted nominees for the BSFA Awards 2014.

Voting will now be opened to BSFA members and attending members of Eastercon. The  winner will be announced at a ceremony at the 66th Eastercon aka Dysprosium, taking place at the Park Inn, Heathrow from 3-6 April 2015.

Watch this space for details of the presenters and MC for this event, which will be announced shortly.

Once again, BSFA members will receive a commemorative BSFA Awards booklet with details of all the nominees.

Best Artwork:

Richard Anderson for the cover of Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, published by Angry Robot Books.

Blacksheep for the cover of Bête by Adam Roberts, published by Gollancz

Tessa Farmer for her sculpture The Wasp Factory, after Iain Banks.

Jeffrey Alan Love for the cover of Wolves by Simon Ings, published by Gollancz

Andy Potts for the cover of Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall, published by Egmont

Best Non-Fiction:

Paul Kincaid for Call and Response, published by Beccon Books

Jonathan McCalmont for ‘Deep Forests and Manicured Gardens: A Look at Two New Short Fiction Magazines’

Edward James, for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers and the First World War

Strange Horizons: various authors for The State of British SF and Fantasy: A Symposium

Karen Burnham for Greg Egan, published by University of Illinois Press

 

Best Short Fiction:

Ruth E J Booth for “The Honey Trap”, published in La Femme, Newcon Press

Octavia Cade for The Mussel Eater,  published by The Book Smugglers

Benjanun Sriduangkaew for  Scale Bright, published by Immersion Press

 

Best Novel:

Nina Allan, for The Race, published by Newcon Press

Frances Hardinge, for Cuckoo Song, published by Macmillan

Dave Hutchinson, for Europe in Autumn, published by Solaris

Simon Ings, for Wolves, published by Gollancz

Anne Leckie, for Ancillary Sword, published by Orbit

Claire North, for The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, published by Orbit

Nnedi Okorafor,  for Lagoon, published by Hodder

Neil Williamson, for The Moon King, published byNewcon Press

 

  • The number of nominees in this category is due to a tie for fourth place.

 

Congratulations to all the shortlisted nominees, and thanks to our members for nominating.

February BSFA London Meeting: Scott K. Andrews Interviewed By Jason Arnopp

Location: Upstairs, The Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND

HeadShot

On Wednesday 25th of February 2015, Scott K. Andrews (Author of Abaddon’s School’s Out trilogy and the new Timebomb series from Hodder & Stoughton) will be interviewed by Jason Arnopp (author of Doctor Who: The Gemini Contagion, Friday The 13th: Hate-Kill-Repeat and Beast In The Basement).

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

The interview will start at 7 pm. We have the room from 6 pm (and if early, fans are in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Map is here.

FUTURE EVENTS:

25th March 2015- Suniti Namjoshi interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn

22nd April 2015- Den Patrick Interviewed by Gillian Redfearn

27th May 2015- Sarah Pinborough interviewed by James Barclay

EU VAT Action Survey

Acclaimed author Juliet E. McKenna has been in touch regarding changes to new EU VAT regulations, which are bound to affect many of our members who have their work published digitally.

If you’ve glanced at my blog or other social media over the last two months, you’ll have realised I’m currently involved in campaigning against the new EU VAT regulations, as part of the EU VAT Action Team. www.euvataction.org . That’s the website to head for, If you’re still not really clear what all this about.

 We’ve managed to get some minor concessions from HM Revenue & Customs to keep some small  businesses trading that might otherwise have closed on 31st December but these are temporary concessions at best.

 What we must do now is gather solid information on the impact of this, and the impossibility of complying, to lobby the European Commission. There’s a key consultation scheduled for February.

 The more information we have, the better the chances of getting this damaging legislation reviewed and reworked.

 Could all  those whose businesses are affected please complete the EU VAT Action survey https://docs.google.com/forms/d/10GWseoeGY46uW1bXsRVyKODCnwDq6o0Ubx6uimqs7TE/viewform

 Now that the legislation has arrived, please could those directly affected email me directly at juliet.mckenna@gmail.com to let me know the following –

 If you as an author have stopped direct ebook sales from your own website rather than tackle the complexities of compliance.

 If you as a small press which is publishing your titles has similarly stopped direct ebook sales rather than tackle the complexities of compliance.

 If you either as an independent author or a small press, have abandoned any business plans for 2015 such as launching ebooks to complement hard copy publishing or starting independent sales ebook sales from your own site as well as using Amazon. Google Play, iBooks etc.

 What losing direct sales is likely to cost you in terms of income. (Round figures, anonymously if you wish).

 If you are attempting to comply, in order to continue direct sales, what is the cost in terms of additional fees/software licenses and working hours taken to set this up?

 What problems you are aware of, if you are now only using 3rd party resellers who say they will handle the VAT issue.  For instance, using Nook now seems impossible given French and German retail price harmonisation requirements.

 Anything else you’d like to raise in relation to this, really. If for instance, you hadn’t even heard about this before now.

Many thanks,

Juliet E McKenna.

The Sum of Mars

On now until Saturday 6th December, a new play inspired by a quote from Arthur C Clarke’s Childhood’s End is being performed at the Bread and Roses Theatre in Clapham.

Sum of Mars is a new play by Susan Gray, a writer and performer from London who has had a number of successful plays performed since 2012. She is currently studying for her PhD in Creative Writing and Practice Based Research in Royal Holloway, University of London, researching the staging of Science Fiction in the Theatre.

SUM depicts characters who have entered a ‘hivemind’ contract to share themselves in a much more intimate way than social media can provide. Who is the pioneer of the technology? Who will use it for good (whatever that means in this reality), and who will use it to further their own ends? Should everyone be able to connect?

Staged by Stars or Mars Theatre Company,the play is directed by Chris Callow Jr. and stars Eleanor Russo, Briony Wyatt, Lydia Kay, Melanie Crossey and Susan Gray herself.

Tickets are £8 and are available here.

Brian Aldiss OBE at the Big Green Bookshop 2nd December

This Tuesday, 2nd December, Brian Aldiss OBE will be appearing at The Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green London.

Brian will be in conversation with Scott Pack, from The Friday Project. The Friday Project have been republishing a Brian’s works of fiction and non-fiction since 2012, and last month published the first volume of  Brian’s 300+ short stories, which are being collected together for the first time. This will be an excellent opportunity to hear the eminent author of many SF classics, including the much lauded Hellicona Trilogy, talk about his work and have books signed.

This event takes place from 7pm-8.30pm. Tickets, £5, are available here.

Podcast: Claire Corbett interviewed by Colin Harvey

On Monday 24th November, our guest at The Artillery Arms was Claire Corbett, the Ned Kelly Award-shortlisted author of When We Have Wings. She was interviewed by academic writer Colin Harvey and the conversation gave a fascinating insight into her research of the mechanics of flight, as well as a discussion of considerations of the morality of such bodily modification and how working as an editor on Jane Campion’s gorgeous film The Piano helped her with the writing process.

We recorded the interview here for the benefit of members who couldn’t be there, but we don’t have fancy equipment so please note that not all the audience questions are picked up, and there is a little background noise too. Live is best, so we do hope to see you at one of the events on our calendar soon. We are scouting for more towns and places to run events in, so watch this space.

Next London meeting, the Philip K Dick Award-shortlisted Anne Charnock, author of A Calculated Life, will be interviewed by BSFA Award-winning author Adam Roberts. That’s on 28th January.

GRAPHIC NOVEL ROUND-UP

Graphic Novel Round-up – by Alex Bardy

Comics and graphic novels remain an under-represented genre in much of the mainstream press, and a quick scour of the regular internet ‘SF sites’ suggests this is the case even within conventional science fiction and fantasy circles.

Here at the BSFA we’re hoping to start changing this, and the introduction of our newest column, Sequentials, in Vector #276 (by the awesome Laura Sneddon — who will return from #278) is hopefully just the beginning.

Even the word ‘comics’ is considered derogatory by some, suggesting as it does, spandex-clad superheroes suffering major personal angst while labouring intensively to save the planet from all those big bad nasty D’s: Death, Disease, Destruction, Destabilisation, Dystopian Dread, etc. I have no such preconceptions: comics are varied and many, a visual medium that’s constantly breaking boundaries and pushing the envelope, and while troubled superheroes have their part to play in that, the majority of graphic novels tend to be a collection of said comics in all their forms.

Increasingly, we’re seeing work that is conceived from the very start as being suitable for the graphic novel format, and this is characterised by all of the ones I’m looking at here…

mmRUBYFirst up is Michael Moorcock’s Elric Volume 1: The Ruby Throne, a gorgeous adaptation featuring everybody’s favourite albino emperor. Written by Julien Blondel with artwork by Robin Recht, Didier Poli, and colouring by Jean Bastide, this is a sumptuous affair, and boasts an exclusive introduction by Moorcock himself. The story features Elric’s cousin, Yyrkoon, as heir to the throne, troublemaker and tormentor, deriding the absence of chaos within the Melnibonéan Empire and concerned the lackadaisical malaise of excessive drinking and poor entertainment will make it appear weak and a target for its enemies. Needless to say the empire does get attacked, the Lords of Chaos are called upon, and Yyrkoon does get his wish, albeit not quite in the form he was expecting…

mmRUBY1mmRUBY2mmRUBY3I won’t ruin the rest for you, but I will add that the artwork is fabulous, the writing well-paced and the various ‘added extras’ at the back a welcome bonus. A very nice and neat package which will be loved by fans old and new alike — the next one, Elric Volume 2: Stormbringer is due early next year.

NGVC

Next up, and another equally splendid offering, is Violent Cases written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean. Typically of Gaiman, even the title here is an accidental misnomer by the main character, who struggles to recall everything succinctly and always leaves things open to wider interpretation. Written in the style of a fractured childhood memoir, this is a very dark piece of work indeed — even the palette of colours is miserable: black, white, greyish-brown and the odd splash of red for the nasty parts…

NGVC1

For many, this is also considered a ‘break-out’ piece for both Neil and Dave — the original series appeared back in 1987, and crossed so many traditional boundaries of genre and style that it virtually created a new sub-genre all its own, that of arty comics with strong cinema-style storytelling and mixed media visualisation. Even today, this is evidently a stand-out piece of work — it’s subtle blend of violence (suggestive and otherwise), deeper narrative meaning, and the underlying backdrop of Prohibition America (even Al Capone gets a walk-on part) allows it to straddle a plethora of accepted ‘crime’ and ‘noir’ categories, all the while remaining true to itself as a story about child abuse, the fragility of memory, and the realisation that danger can indeed lurk under any surface.

This is strong stuff, but it’s also an example of creative genius in full flow — indeed, at one point the narrator and the artist have their own little ding-dong discussion about what one of the main characters (an osteopath) may have actually looked like… It is brilliantly done, and this particular edition is elegantly presented and a stunning visual feast.

Ordinary

 Ordinary by Rob Williams & D’Israeli is an altogether more colourful and significantly lighter piece of work, but nonetheless still an excellent example of what can be done when you turn the whole superheroes thing on its head. In the world of Ordinary, everyone has superpowers, except Michael Fisher, a miserable, lonely loser who bears more than a passing resemblance to actor Simon Pegg (not that the two are related if you see what I mean), or at least I thought so. Indeed, Michael is so hopelessly useless he even gets rejected by women in his own dreams, is bullied by Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, and can’t seem to do anything right for trying. So why is this guy the star of the show? That’d be telling… 😉

Ordinary1Ordinary2

Packed with extras, this is a colourful, clever story, and even boasts an introduction by Warren Ellis. It’s a doozy as our American cousins might say…

GBonslaught

And finally, by far my favourite of the lot thus far, is Dr Grordbort presents ONSLAUGHT, an anthology of tales from the retro sci-fi world of Dr Grordbort, both written and beautifully illustrated by Greg Broadmore who is obviously a very talented and sickeningly twisted human being… J

ONSLAUGHT is by far one of the funniest and most hilarious things I’ve read in a long time. It’s accurately subtitled “Excessive Space Violence For Boys and Girls” and I can assuredly inform you this is most definitely not suitable for younger children. The first story is called “Lord Cockswain in Into The Lair of the Space Wa*~&ers” for example, and the whole affair is chock full of serious political incorrectness that will see you either rolling around in stitches or seething at the pointy end…

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As well as several stories that see Cockswain destroying the virulent wildlife of Venus and spearheading an excursion against the dastardly Moon Men and associated Moon Menaces, Cockswain is also the poster boy for a variety of steampunk-stylee invented weaponry from Dr. Grordbort, the Head of Grordbort Industries and self-styled master of maniacal mechanisms. His wares are featured herein through a variety of “Contrapulatronic” catalogue excerpts which includes headlines such as: “Be a Better Man with a MANMELTER. Your wife may come back to you!* (some assembly required)”, “Absolutely No Compensation Given for Accidental Limb Loss”, “By Jingos those socially inept boffins have done it!” and some classic weaponry like the Grordbort 66 Sonic De-Stabiliser, the Saturn 67 Luminiferous Aether Igniter and Lord Cockswain’s Ray-Blunderbuss: ‘The Unnatural Selector’ which is scientifically proven to “render a yard-wide aperture in a giraffe at 60 feet, and give a blue whale a nasty rash through 200 yards of saltwater”…

There is also a Bestiary of the Cosmos (mostly covering Venusian wildlife), a number of Testimonials, a Hall of Gits and plenty of gung-ho, rebel-rousing ‘support our finest’ retro-style inspirational posters that had me crying with laughter.

 

This is a sparkling collection of wickedly comic tales, all involving excessive violence, swearing and the odd slaughter of harmless alien pond life, and really is heaps of fun. I cannot recommend this highly enough as a Christmas treat for any fan, and the artwork throughout is gorgeous — it’ll plaster a foot-wide smile on your face for weeks, and you will definitely love “how fabulous it looks with all its fandangly whatchimacallits and thingamajigs”.

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You can discover more about Greg Broadmore’s crazy universe here: drgrordborts.com

 

Parliament 2115: re-imagining a democracy of the future. Sci-Fi Fans Wanted!

This year, for Parliament Week 2014, Parliamentary Outreach is inviting sci fi, fantasy and comic fans, gamers and scientists to re-imagine democracy in 2115. We want you to think as creatively as you can, and to boldly go wherever the fancy takes you. Debate the future with us, in today’s Parliament, on Wednesday 19 November 2014.

Politicians debate the imminent present, but science fiction explores even stranger horizons: the impossible dreams and apocalyptic visions of the far, far future.

From anarcho-syndicalist moon colonies to genetically engineered tapeworm, sci fi has generated exciting, thought-provoking and sometimes prescient visions. What could Parliament look like one-hundred years from now? What issues will we face? Who will represent us? And who will be listening?

For spoilers you can follow the updates on this event using the Twitter hashtag #SciFiParl.

Who can attend?

Anyone with an interest in science fiction, fantasy or re-imagining the present. This debate is expected to draw on artificial intelligence, dystopias and myriad genres. Attendees could include gamers, sci-fi, fantasy and comic fans, LARP-ers and scientists, or anyone interested in the future of democracy.

Visitors should enter by the main entrance to Portcullis House on the Victoria Embankment, facing the river.

Visiting Parliament: Maps and directions
Visiting Parliament: Security Information

Parliament is working to ensure that all Parliamentary services, including Outreach sessions, can be accessed and used by disabled people. If you have any particular requirements and wish to attend, please let us know.

Find out more about Parliament’s Outreach Service

The Houses of Parliament Outreach Service spreads awareness of the work, processes and relevance of the institution of Parliament, encouraging greater engagement between the public and the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

UK Parliament’s Outreach Service

Follow @UKParlOutreach on Twitter for updates from the Houses of Parliament Outreach Service.

Booking details

To register your interest for this event email parliamentaryoutreach@parliament.uk

Cost to attend

This event is free of charge.