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.

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…

GBonslaught1

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”.

GBonslaught2GBonslaught3

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.

BFS/BSFA York Pubmeet

Title: BFS/BSFA York Pubmeet
Location: Brigantes Bar & Brasserie, 114 Micklegate, York YO1 6JX
Link out: Click here
Description: This is another opportunity to join us for a fabulous FREE open meeting for fans and writers of Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction, featuring guest author readings followed by a Q&A session, another fabulous FREE raffle (we gave out LOADS of book bundles last time), and plenty of room and time for chat, spirited discussion and of course, beer (other beverages are available).

Location: Brigantes Bar and Brasserie

114 Micklegate York Y01 6JX

There is a great menu there if you fancy eating, but if you have particular dietary requirements, our scouts have also recommended another nearby venue that has gluten-free on its menu: the Bar Convent is just 3mins walk down the road: Bar Convent Menu

Start Time: 4:00pm onwards; first reading around 5.00pm (Would be great to see you there before 4.15!)
End Time: when you feel like leaving (or the bar closes)

Guest Author Readings

Justina Robson

Justina Robson — science fiction author (incl. the Quantum Gravity series). Geek Alert: Justina also wrote Transformers: The Covenant of Primus, a fictional account revealing the previously untold origins of the original Primes as well as the evolution of the Autobots and Decepticons.

Take this opportunity to hear Justina read from one of her books and ask about life working on a tie-in series, plus anything else writing-related that interests you.

Vincent Holland-Keen

Vincent Holland-Keen — author of the critically acclaimed The Office of Lost and Found (“a rich creamy vein of the absurd and surreal” and “a fresh and amazing read… as far from predictable and paint by numbers writing as one can possibly get”).

Vincent is a new voice in dark, surreal humour, his work favourably compared to both Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett in terms of absurdity, and this is your chance to find out what makes him tick…

Both authors will be available for a Q&A and to join in the conversation afterwards, but please check the Twitter feeds and BFS and BSFA websites (below) for further details closer to the time.
FREE Raffle
We are pleased to announce that we will also have another fabulous FREE raffle for all attendees (to be drawn circa. 6.30-7.00pm), with a variety of book bundles and signed copies on offer as prizes, incl. a selection of proofs and ARCs (Advance Reader Copies), so we sincerely hope you’ll be leaving with something in addition to just great memories!

Keep up to date with this event on Twitter via @BSFA and @BritFantasySoc, as well as @mangozoid (co-ordinator/organiser).

Or visit the following websites to stay informed:

www.bsfa.co.uk

www.britishfantasysociety.org
Start Time: 16:00
Date: 2014-11-22

 THE ART OF JOHN HARRIS: BEYOND THE HORIZON – Review

THE ART OF JOHN HARRIS: BEYOND THE HORIZON

Foreword by John Scalzi

Titan Books (2014), 160pp h/back, £24.99

A review by Alex Bardy

I have always been a fan of art books, but it feels like I’ve spent the latter part of this year falling in love with them all over again thanks to some excellent releases from Titan Books. I covered Jim Burns’ Hyperluminal here, Greg Spalenka’s Visions From The Mind’s Eye here, and am pleased as punch to be able to add John Harris’ truly gorgeous Beyond The Horizon to the list…

john harris

John Harris’ style generally carries a distinctive ‘clouds’n’oil’ look and feel that has remained largely unchanged throughout the years. His work has adorned the covers of a great many genre movers and shakers of the past incl. Asimov, Clarke, Haldeman, Blish, Pohl, Vance, and Samuel R. Delaney, and continues to do so with cover art for the likes of Ben Bova, John Scalzi, Jack McDevitt, Orson Scott Card, and Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice in more recent years. Also, being a teen myself back in the 80s, I was pleasantly surprised to discover John Harris was also the artist for the cover of the ZX81 Basic Programming Manual and various ZX Spectrum Manuals all those years ago (’81 and ’83 respectively)— he’s certainly been around, in the nicest sense of the word…

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A gripe I have had with some of these beautiful Titan art productions, is the lack of a proper contents and index page, so I’m pleased to say that Beyond The Horizon at least gets the latter right, although —unlike Spalenka’s Visions From The Mind’s Eye— not all of the credited images have dates or years attached, which evidently presents a few issues for anyone hoping to determine some form of underlying progression over the years.

That said, this book is neatly split into helpfully descriptive sections within which the artist has plenty to say about his guiding influences, some thought and reflection on his work and so forth — Floating Mass, Dust To Dust, Towers In Starlight, The Ruination Of Things, Return To Earth, Hidden Suns and The City of Fire, The Abandoned Lands and The Plain of Suns, Beyond The Horizon, etc. and there’s even a handy Works by Author section. Again, as great and helpful as this was it would’ve been nice to see a Contents list of sorts just to help refer back to things…

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The sense of scale that comes across throughout is genuine and real — the majority of images included in this collection bring forth visions and a conceptual feeling of inadequacy… here be huge mega-machines, mega-spaceships, mega-planets, mega-landscapes, indeed mega-everything, so much so that one feels immediately dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of all that is being portrayed.

John Harris also spends a hefty portion of the book talking about a personal, conceptually driven project of his own from which stems a whole heap of ideas including but not limited to an ancient alien race, nomadic rites of passage, religious iconography, active volcanic mountain cities, stupendously huge ducts and sinks to manage lava flow, etc. and so on and so forth, and it even includes a small cast — all truly amazing inspirational stuff, and unlikely to appear anywhere else anytime soon.

 

 

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As a final note, John was also commissioned by NASA to attend a launch and produce a painting to mark the event, something which has now become part of the Smithsonian Collection and hangs inside the Kennedy Space Centre — the first British artist to do so…

 

 

Personally, I really loved seeing some of the artwork from MASS all over again included herein (a John Harris art book released by Paper Tiger back in 2000: click here), and would dearly love to see this re-released if it’s remotely possible. C’mon Titan, please make it so!

 

All in all, this is another great release, and a genuine visual feast and tour de force, especially if you like your space art to depict a sense of the incomprehensibly vast and “megaloptical” (my term)… another fine addition to this excellent stable of art celebration.

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Happy Halloween – Scary Stuff!

Seeing as it’s Halloween, and I look like the ghost of Keele Formal Ball 1992 (I’ve recycled the outfit I wore to it  – Elsa Lancaster-style. Only I’m at least two stone heavier than when I was eighteen. Seeing as ghosts are meant to be less substantial, I’m letting ghosts down big time…) I thought it would be appropriate to bring you a guest post from Gingernuts of Horror’s very own Jim Mcleod. After all, the horror genre was as much Mary Shelley’s “hideous progeny” as science fiction on that stormy night she sat telling tales of electrified flesh brought back to life, as Percy Byshe Shelley and Lord Byron listened,  at Byron’s Lake Geneva villa almost two hundred years ago.

So here are two awesome reviews and some spooky trailers for you.  Follow title links to see trailers. Take it away, Jim!

Open Grave

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There seems to be a new trend emerging over the past few months with regards to horror films. It may well be that I have just become more discerning as to what films I watch, or it may well be that there are just more intelligent films out there that are not aimed at pre-pubescent teenage boys. Open Grave is one of these new breeds of horror film.

When Jon wakes up in a giant pit filled with dead and decaying corpses, he soon realises that he has no memory. Not just to why he ended up in the pit, he has no memories, of who is, where he came from. Hell, he can’t even remember who is mother is.

With some help, he gets out of this hellish pit and he finds himself in the company of a group of people who, like him, have no memory. Stuck in an old farmhouse in the middle of huge forest with no knowledge of anything we follow this band of characters on a journey of discovery that is littered with the rotting corpses of shocking secrets.

To say much more about the film’s plot would be to give too much away. Open Grave is one of those films that works best when you go in knowing nothing. Rest assured the filmmakers don’t leave you waiting too long before they start providing the answers. By the time you reach a rather shocking and brutal scene involving a barbed wire fence you’ll pretty much know where the story is going and where it sits within the horror genre.

In terms of its place Open Grave is a welcome addition to the genre. It’s not often that you get a wholly original film in this particular brand of horror. The writer and director made a wise decision in keeping these elements of the film a step back from the main narrative thrust of the movie, which is the characters discovering who they are, and how they react to their new-found knowledge.

One of the reasons for this may have been due to the budgetary constraints of the film. This is a low budget film, however with this in mind Open Grave is a great-looking film. Rather than wasting lots of cash on your typical money shots, the budget has been spent on ensuring the film has a gritty feel to it. There is a real satisfying tone to feel to the film. The dirt and blood splatters on the cast is satisfyingly grimy. You can also tell that a decent amount of the budget was spent on one of the final shots, a wonderful wide angled shot of the landscape which has a real “Oh my God” feel to it.

When your budget is small, you have to make sure that the script and actors are good enough to carry the film. For the most par,t both work really well. There are some fine performances from the cast, in particular Sharlto Copley’s performance is outstanding. He is quickly becoming one of my favourite actors. His performance is an excellent mix of bewilderment, anger, and frustration.

Josie Ho’s performance as the mute, Brown Eyes, is also very good, she brings a real sense of fear and uncertainty to her character.

As for the script, in the main it works very well. Plots involving amnesia can be somewhat clichéd and predictable, however the clever plot idea of making everyone an amnesic ensures that this doesn’t happen. Where the script falls down is in the middle section, which felt just a little bit too long and at times felt devoid of either action or plot development. The use of partial and broken flashbacks is handled well, and ensures that the viewers are still left wondering as to who if any of the characters are the bad guys.

One scene in particular really grated: without giving too much away it involved a car that suddenly wouldn’t start, even though it was running two minutes earlier. This reliance of age-old clichés is not needed, especially when the rest of the film makes such an effort to be original.

Open Grave is one of those films whose ending is going to get a lot of people very angry. It’s certainly brave, and tonally fits in perfectly with the dark, bleak and oppressive feel of the rest of film.   It’s been a long time since a small piece of paper has had me screaming NO!! at the television screen. Don’t come here looking for a happy ending or a film full of nice tidy resolutions.

 Open Grave, despite a slightly flabby middle, and that really annoying scene with the car, is an assured film. It’s a film that doesn’t treat the viewer as a mindless idiot, you actually have to pay attention as the story unfolds. It’s not a mindless rollercoaster of a film. The horror comes not from silly jump scares, but from a slow and steady realisation of their gravity of their situation and from some strong performances. If you are fed up with the same old horror film then Open Grave is the film for you. From the opening scene with the sounds of bones and ligaments cracking back into place, to the film’s resolution Open Grave is worthy of your time.

 Tree House

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With some films there is perfect a time and place to watch them.  A time of the year that just adds to the viewing pleasure. Treehouse is a film that is just begging to be watched now.  This backwoods horror/thriller is full of atmospheric shots of misty covered woods, with of autumn’s golden rays piercing through the cloying mist.  It elicits a true sense of Halloween dread in the viewer.

The plot of Treehouse is a basic one, some thing or someone is kidnapping the kids in a typical sleepy small American town.  You know the sort of town where everyone knows your name.  Where every street is populated with Mom and Pop stores. So when a couple of kids go missing and a curfew is placed over the sleepy town, it’s only traditional and inevitable that two kids decide to break the curfew for a chance of some late night nookie.

However as is want to happen in these sort of films their plans don’t quite end up the way they want to.  Left high and dry by their dates the two brothers decide to let off some fireworks, since it’s well known that all American teenagers are always packing fireworks and cherry bombs.  When they let of one of their rockets they discover a large tree house high up in one of the ancient trees, and as teenage boys are want to do they just have to climb up and investigate.  Bad move, boys, as this is going to be a night that you will never forget.
There is a lot to love in Treehouse; from the above synopsis it may seem that this is your typical Hollywood soulless stalk and slash film that is so beloved of mindless film producers.  And for the most part this film stays well clear of this tired and boring concept. The leads are not your typical high school Adonises, and there are no perky cheerleaders waiting for them in the woods.  It’s refreshing to watch a horror film with teenage leads that doesn’t have you waiting for the tedious bra and boobie shot.  The natural awkwardness of the two male leads adds a nice depth to the film.  In particular  J. Michael Trautmann’s performance of Killian is exceptional.  He has a wonderfully expressive face. From the browbeaten and bullied kid at the start of the film to the hero at the end of the film, Trautmann’s portrayal and development of Killian’s character is assured and well played helped by some inspired facial expressions.  This is his film, and as a lead he more than admirably carries it off.  He is helped with a great if albeit small cast of supporting actors. Daniel Fredrick is good as his brother, and Dana Melanie is excellent as the scared and emotionally battered Elizabeth.

In some ways this is a film of two parts, a brilliant and tense first act that plays out as an atmospheric siege film and a slightly less appealing final act which slips into survival horror mode, and somehow loses some of the charm and impact built up during the first hour of the film.

The director wisely keeps everyone guessing during the first hour or so of the film, we, as well as the cast have no clue as to the nature of the menace.  Tension is built up through the excellent use of cinematography, film score and sound effects.   In particular a scene involving a conversation on a two way radio will have you biting your nails.

There are some brilliant camera shots in the film and when combined with a sublime score give the scenes set in the woods an almost dream like quality.  Flashbacks are often an overused cliché in films, and while watching the film there was a sense of why are we seeing these?  However by the time that the final frame finishes, the reason for these are made clear.  They are all part of Killian’s journey and transformation.

For the first sixty minutes or so Treehouse is a tremendously tense and atmospheric thriller, it’s only in the final third that the director fumbles the ball.

The film shifts from a siege mode to survival mode, the nature of the “monsters” is revealed, in a way I wish the director would have been a little bit braver as to who and what has been haunting the woods.  In particular

SPOILER ALERT

The fact that one of the brothers had a loping limp really grated; why does every backwoods family have member who has a limp?  At least they weren’t all inbred simpleton mutants like those found in the despicable Wrong Turn films.  The biggest problem with this part of the film is the way in which it feels rushed.  These aren’t your typical hard to kill hillbillies, they go down quick and fast, perhaps too fast.  In a slightly twisted way it would have good to have more of their personalities in the film.  There is a brilliant shot of one of the brothers after he attacks Elizabeth, which shows a chilling disdain and nonchalance for his victim.  A few more shots like this would have really lifted this final act.

As for the film’s ending I can see that really annoying a lot of viewers, personally I think it’s a brave and inspired ending.  It’s the point at which Killian’s journey and development comes to fruition.  His story is over we don’t need to see anymore.

Treehouse overall is a solid film, one that starts out extremely well   only to be hampered by a weaker final act.  But don’t let this put you off, despite this Treehouse is still head and shoulders above the vast majority of big budget horror films.


Thanks, Jim! Both films are out on DVD and digital platforms now. And Head on over to Ginger Nuts of Horror for an awesome competition to win a copy of another Signature Film offering – Debug –  a sci-fi horror set in space with a killer AI.

It’s always hard to review a film that at heart is a decent film, but one that suffers from many of the problems associated with films of this type.  Debug falls into this category.  There is a really good film desperate to burst out from the trappings of clichés, poor budget and some really crazy and at times annoying plot points.

Welcome to the future, where a team of intrepid salvage workers go around rescuing old ships from cold vacuum of space.  Unlike most salvage teams, this motley crew is not made up of tired space weary salvage operatives so beloved by the genre, as seen in such classics such as Alien and Event Horizon, two films that this film cheekily riffs on.  What we have here is a team made up of criminal cyber hackers, forced into doing this sort of thing to lessen their sentences.

What seems to be a routine mission quickly turns into a fight for survival against a psychotic artificial intelligence as if there is any other kind. Trapped on the ship the only way for our heroes to survive is to defeat the rather oddly named IAm.

 

Thankfully this team doesn’t take too long for the action to start, and for the most part the action, death scenes and the acting are of decent quality.  Let’s be clear here: this is a low-budget film, and for that it can be forgiven for a lot of things.  This isn’t a stellar cast of respected actors. For the most part these are relatively unknowns who manage to hold their own during the film.  The main problem with the cast lies in the portrayal of IAm by Jason Momoa.  I can’t put my finger on exactly what makes this a cheese fest, it’s either the costume he wears or it’s the really appalling hairstyle he sports for the role.  These combined with a performance that is more pantomime dame than evil AI, robs IAm of any real menace.

The film also suffers from some problems faced by most films of this type.  For example, wouldn’t it be nice to have an AI that isn’t a psycho?  The film would have worked better if they had to face a run of mill monster, or a crazed lone member of the ship’s crew.  And why, why do the designers of these interstellar spacecraft have to put the safety switch for the AI in the most inaccessible of all places.  Have these designers and programmers never watched a science fiction film?  If I were building a spaceship with an AI, I’d have an override button every three feet.

It may seem that this film really isn’t worth your time or money based on what has been said above.  And I could forgive you for thinking this, however after watching this film I got the impression that the filmmakers were doing something that a lot of modern filmmakers fail to do.  They actually tried to make a good film.  I get the feeling that with a bit more experience and a better budget, they are capable of making a really good film.  Despite the obvious flaws this was still an entertaining film, helped with some neat Lawnmower Man touches and some nice death scenes.

Debug may not be original, it may not even be that well made, but it is still a decent way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Sent in to deep space as punishment for computer-based crimes, six young hackers are attempting to debug the computer systems of a massive derelict space freighter. While they struggle to clear out the viruses, the team fall prey to the ship’s vengeful artificial intelligence, a programme that would literally kill to be human. As the fractious team is forced to match wits with this rogue programme, they discover that the ship holds a deadly secret – and a fate far worse than death.
See more here.

The Frood of Douglas Adams

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The work of Douglas Adams is to be celebrated at Britain’s only comedy book festival this November.

At en event entitled “The Frood: The authorised and very official history of Douglas Adams and The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy”, Toby Longworth – renowned genre film actor and the current reigning Slartibartfast – welcomes Douglas Adams’ official biographer Jem Roberts to tell the story of The Frood, an all-new history of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

This new biography is described by festival organizers Chortle as “bursting with newly-discovered secrets from the private Adams archive.”

As well as talking about Douglas Adams, Toby and Jem will be performing extracts from the archives, including Hitchhiker material which has never been published before

This event takes place on November 10th at London Irish Centre, 9pm, tickets priced at £7 (£5.50 concession).

To find out about other events at the festival, which takes place between 7th and 14th November in London, please visit the Chortle website.

October BSFA London Meeting: Dave Bradley Interviewed by Scott K. Andrews

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

Dave Bradley Official SFX Editor Picture

 

On Wednesday 29th of October 2014, Dave Bradley (Group Editor-in-Chief of SFX and Total Film) will be interviewed by Scott K. Andrews (YA author responsible for Abaddon’s School’s Out trilogy and the new Timebomb series from Hodder & Stoughton)

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:

*24th November 2014- Claire Corbett interviewed by Colin Harvey

December- No meeting as usual.

28th January 2015-Anne Charnock interviewed by TBC

 

*Please note the Non-Wed. Date!