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.

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 at: http://gingernutsofhorror.com/9/post/2014/10/competition-time-win-a-copy-of-debug.html#sthash.vlhg0aDQ.dpuf
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 at: http://gingernutsofhorror.com/9/post/2014/10/competition-time-win-a-copy-of-debug.html#sthash.vlhg0aDQ.dpuf
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 at: http://gingernutsofhorror.com/9/post/2014/10/competition-time-win-a-copy-of-debug.html#sthash.vlhg0aDQ.dpuf
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 at: http://gingernutsofhorror.com/9/post/2014/10/competition-time-win-a-copy-of-debug.html#sthash.vlhg0aDQ.dpuf

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!

Astro Camp, August 2015

James Bacon has been in touch to tell us about a new venture, which I thought would be of inspirational interest to BSFA members – as Professor Brian Cox might say, it sounds “Amaaazing.”

We will be holding our first astronomy camp on the second weekend of August (that’s August 7th-9th) 2015. We hope it will be a great success, and become a yearly event.We hope to host other educational events at Huntley Wood, under the .CAMPhw umbrella, exploring topics such as ecology and bushcraft. The Astro Camp date has been picked because the second weekend in August often falls close to the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, one of the best and brightest meteor showers in the Northern Hemisphere, which is visible throughout late July and early August and peaks each year between August 9th and 14th.It is hoped that the Perseids will add an extra dimension, and extra excitement, to the star gazing aspect of the event.

We have named the event astro.CAMPhw, the “hw” standing for our venue, Huntley Wood. In future we hope to host other educational camping events at Huntley Wood, under the same “CAMPhw” umbrella, but we’ll see how the astronomy one goes first….We now have a website up and running, at: http://astro.camphw.uk

There you can see the beginning of our exciting programme for the weekend, which already includes bestselling popular science author Simon Singh giving a talk about his book “Big Bang”, as well as talks from Prof Paul Roche from the Faulkes telescope project and Dr Ed Trollope from Things We Don’t Know (.com), and a number of workshops by Emma Wride of AstroCymru, plus an under cover 3D Celestia and Stellarium, just in case the weather turns bad! Much, much more will be added over the coming months, and we hope to develop a really packed weekend, with talks, discussions and workshops from a range of experts, as well as fun activities suitable for children.To be kept up to date on what’s going on you can follow us on facebook (facebook.com/astrocamphw) or twitter (twitter.com/astrocamphw), where we will be posting all our news and updates.Tickets are already on sale on the website – and the earlier people sign up the easier it is for us to plan the best possible weekend. Because of this we are offering an early booking discount, £20 off an adult ticket and £10 off a child ticket before 1 February 2010. See the website for full details.

Thanks, James!

Rachel New Short Story Challenge

Birmingham Literature Festival writer in residence, Rachel New, is attempting to better the challenge she set herself last year as part of Birmingham Literature Festival. Last year she incarcerated herself in the Library of Birmingham for her ’10 Day Sentence’ and wrote 30,000 words in 10 days. This year she has pledged to write 10 short stories (500 words or less) every day of the Festival (2 – 11th October). Depending on what is suggested to her, some of these could well be genre! It’s up to you!

She will be relying on support and encouragement from you, the public. You can tweet her your story ideas @Rachel_New or post on the ‘One Page Wonders’ Facebook page HERE. Or you could visit her in person at the Library of Birmingham on the 2nd floor Book Rotunda.

Call for Star Wars Cosplayers

We heard from the press office for the upcoming tour of One Man Star Wars, and One Man Lord of the Rings – and they need your help!

Charlie Ross (who is touring the UK with his One Man Lord of the Rings and One Man Star Wars Trilogy shows this autumn from 26 September until 17 October) is inviting Lord of the Rings and Star Wars fans to dress up and join him in costume for a fun news photo call to celebrate the start of the tour!

Charlie Ross

Come to the shows’ London venue, Leicester Square Theatre, on Sunday 28 September at 12.45pm for 1.00pm photographs with Charlie. The shoot will finish by 1.30pm at latest. Nearest changing facilities are the public toilets in Leicester Square (or a nearby cafe/pub).

Please note travel expenses cannot be covered, however everyone who attends will receive a special promotional code for discounted tickets to see the show on tour.

The Art of Greg Spalenka: Visions of the Mind’s Eye – A Preview by Alex Bardy

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

Due for official release on Friday 26th September, 2014

GregSpalenkaCover

I am not as familiar with Greg Spalenka’s work as I am with several other artists, but I know of it from his celebrated Sandman work (with Neil Gaiman — The Absolute Sandman volumes and The Absolute Death), the earlier Books of Magic comics, as well as numerous Magic The Gathering images. And now I know a whole lot more after reading about his remarkable career working with art colleges, doing digital designs for World of Warcraft, and early concept work on a whole host of hit family movies including The Golden Compass and Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

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Spalenka’s distinct Pre-Raphaelite style and varied career has also seen him doing work for theatre and ballet companies, for various US art colleges and for a variety of populist US magazines like Time, Sports Illustrated, New York Times Magazine, LA Weekly, Psychology Today and many more —oh yes, and NFL Trading Cards.

GS2It’s clear this isn’t his only style, as can be attested so evidently by his work for children’s movies Escape From Planet Earth and The Ant Bully, many images from which also appear here.

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In Visions From The Mind’s Eye, Greg Spalenka talks about some of his inspiration as a child, his early subscription to the Science Fiction Book Club where he discovered Edgar Rice Burroughs and an appetite for those Frank Frazetta covers that were classics of their time, and some of his very early memories as a student. Later, he talks about his experimentation with art materials, his discovery of Krylon Crystal Clear (look it up), his love of plain sketching with a pencil, his adoption of photographic techniques and the use of computers, and his early adventures with the classic Polaroid SX-70 (the one that printed instant photos —or approximations thereof— on small slides) which gave rise to what Spalenka cheerily terms “happy accident” technology.

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Herein is an amazing selection and exploration of Spalenka’s work, covering many years and so many of his projects, recent and old. There are early sketches, photographic references and so much luscious art goodness that it’s difficult to categorise anything in here at all.

This is certainly a hugely visual book, 160+ pages of stunning imagery, beautiful artwork — some of it more haunting than others — and includes a very helpful index at the back which features all 82 spreads in miniature, with accompanying information about where and what the images are, who it was for, where you may have seen it, and what art materials he used to create them.

My only gripe (as a fantasy/horror/SF fan) is that I would have liked to see and read a lot more about his work on Sandman, his other stuff for DC and Vertigo Comics, his work for genre book publishers, and at least something about his work on the Magic The Gathering cards. Alas, while it’s clear this forms a very small part of his overall output, I don’t know what the score is with regards to copyrights and so forth, and maybe this could form the basis of another book entirely sometime in the next few years.

Regardless, this is a hefty book, a gorgeous piece of work, and something that will sit comfortably alongside anyone’s collection of large format coffee table books. Failing that, it’ll be a good place to start if you’re interested in building a collection of this style of art book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction at the Tottenham Palestine Literature Festival September 20th

Middle Eastern SF and Fantasy will be under discussion as part of the Tottenham Palestine Literature Festival on Saturday September 20th.

There are literary events all day, but our attention has been drawn to a talk at 11.30am featuring Naomi Foyle – author of Seoul Survivors, Ruqayyah Kareem - Africana Resources Librarian/Curator at Texas A & M University,  and Yasmin Khan – producer of Sindbad Sci-Fi.

Ruqayyah Kareem

 

September BSFA London Meeting: Sara Maitland Interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn

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

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On Wednesday 24th of September 2014, Sara Maitland (author of Gossip From the Forest, other fiction and non-fiction) will be interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn (Professor of Literary History at Anglia Ruskin University).

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:

*29th October 2014- David Bradley (SFX Magazine) interviewed by Scott K. Andrews

*19th November 2014- Claire Corbett interviewed by Colin Harvey

December- No meeting as usual.

*Please note these are the fifth and third Wednesdays respectively.

 

 

Big Sky: SF Masterworks

Pete Young has informed us that issues #3 and #4 of BIG SKY, about the first and second series of the Gollancz SF MASTERWORKS series, are available for free download as PDFs.

The whole project contains around 250 reviews and commentaries on every title in the series, in order of appearance. A few of the articles appeared n the BSFA’s journal Vector. Pete told us, “It’s certainly been a labour of love: I’ve been working on these two issues on average for 2-3 hours, often more, almost every day since January… I’d also just like to add what a pleasure it has been doing this project, and encountering such enthusiasm for it, and generosity, from everyone who wrote new reviews or granted permission to reproduce old ones.”

He hopes that these fanzines will be added to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database very soon, and is looking into the possibility of a combined print edition some time in the near future.

TweetFiction Tweetstream during LonCon 3 – WorldCon 72: 2014

TweetFiction icon

TWEETFICTION TWEETSTREAM

DURING LONCON 3 – WORLDCON 72: 2014

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 of Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, etc.

  • 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.uk the use of #tbsfa will be assumed to grant permission for the BSFA to reproduce at the awards ceremony or within future membership publications.

Administration

  • Of course entries could commence any time but we would encourage entries to coincide with Eastercon so we would suggest start posting from midnight Wednesday August 13th 2014.

  • We would suggest the closing date for submissions is midnight (BST) on Tuesday August 19th 2014.

  • If anything is unclear, or if you have any questions, please email tweetfiction@bsfa.co.uk

JOIN IN !

BSFA Lecture at Loncon 3

paula-jamesA special BSFA Lecture will be given at Loncon 3 by Dr Paula James (Open Unversity), and is entitled ‘Pygmalion’s Statue and her Synthetic Sisters: The Perfect Woman on Screen′. The lecture will be given at 20.00 on Saturday August 16th, the ExCel Centre, London Docklands. The lecture is open to any member of Loncon 3.

Paula James is a familiar face and voice to anyone who has studied the Open University’s Arts Foundation courses over the past fifteen years or so, or any of their courses in Classical Studies. Paula is Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies and Staff Tutor in Arts at the OU. She began her academic career after raising her family, and joined the Open University in the 1990s. She is an expert in Latin Literature, particularly the Metamorphoses of Ovid and Apuleius. She also writes on the reception of Latin texts in modern cinema. She has written an excellent introduction to Ancient Rome, Understand Roman Civilization, now in its second edition, and has jointly edited works on the imagery of Trade Union banners and the parrot in literature. Her most recent book is Ovid’s Myth of Pygmalion on Screen: In Pursuit of the Perfect Woman (2013), and it is from this work that her talk to us is derived.

The BSFA Lecture is intended as a companion to the George Hay Lecture, which is presented at the Eastercon by the Science Fiction Foundation. Where the Hay Lecture invites scientists, the BSFA Lecture invites academics from the arts and humanities, because we recognise that science fiction fans aren’t only interested in science. The lecturers are given a remit to speak “on a subject that is likely to be of interest to science fiction fans” – i.e. on whatever they want! This is a special lecture for Worldcon, and is the seventh BSFA Lecture.

The Gollancz Festival 2014; Wednesday 14th August

Genre-publishers Gollancz and Waterstones Piccadilly have anounced plans to host an interactive multi-media genre fiction festival, featuring Patrick Rothfuss, Joanne M. Harris, Joe Hill and many more bestselling genre writers.

The festival comes midway between genre-fiction convention Nine Worlds GeekFest (Heathrow, 8-9th August) and The 72nd World Science-Fiction Convention (Loncon 3, ExCel London Docklands, 14-18th August).

On Wednesday 13th August 2014, starting at 9am with author breakfast tips featured on a Pinterest board, the digital elements of the Gollancz Festival 2014 will include interactive genre panels; Vox Pops and in conversations on YouTube; live debates on Twitter and Tumblr, and much more.

From 6 – 9pm on the same evening they will also offer genre fiction readers the chance to attend a selection of unique panels, readings, Q&As and signings all hosted by retail partner Waterstones Piccadilly.

The Gollancz festival will include participation from Ben Aaronovitch, Joe Abercrombie, James Barclay, Elizabeth Bear, Anna Caltabiano, Edward Cox, Joanne Harris, Joe Hill, Stephen Hunt, Simon Ings, John Hornor Jacobs, Tom Lloyd, Scott Lynch, Paul McAuley, Elizabeth May, Suzanne McLeod, Richard Morgan, Den Patrick, Sarah Pinborough, Adam Roberts, Alastair Reynolds, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Gavin Smith, Jon Wallace, Chris Wooding and more.

Tickets to the festival cost £6 (£4 for Waterstones loyalty card holders). Attendees will also receive a drink on arrival and a Gollancz Festival 2014 goody bag. A mass signing begins at 7.30pm, immediately after the panel events, will be open to non-ticket holders and those unable to travel to London can pre-order signed stock directly from Waterstones Piccadilly.

A couple of bits of SF community news

First up, a new writers group in London is looking for members:

The Middle Oak Writing Group is looking for a couple of new members. We meet once a month on a Tuesday evening in a private house in East Barnet, near Oakleigh Park railway station. We cover both science fiction and fantasy and novel instalments as well as short stories.
The current members find that being a small group works well for face to face feedback but we want to expand slightly to avoid having to cancel a meeting when more than one person has to drop out for that evening.
For more info, please contact Sandra Unerman (sandraunerman379 at  btinternet dot com)

Dr Peter J Bentley and Dr Soo Ling Lim – scientists based at the Department of Computer Science, University College London have been in touch to ask for help with a survey to research into a collaborative technologies for writers. Are you a writer? If so, they would be very grateful of your help. Click here to take part in the survey.

Super Relaxed Fantasy Club / BFS / BSFA York Pubmeet 2nd August

Title: Super Relaxed Fantasy Club / BFS / BSFA York Pubmeet 2nd August
Location: Brigantes Bar & Brasserie, 114 Micklegate, York, YO1 6JX
Description: Join us from 4pm for a free open meeting, featuring author talks, fun and beer.

4pm-4.30pm Introductions all-round, grab a drink.

5.00pm First Reading: Janine Ashbless from her new novel due September, followed by a short Q&A

… brief interlude

5.45pm Second Reading: David Tallerman reads an original work, followed by a short Q&A

6.30pm Free Raffle for various bundles, free books, etc. to be drawn by the author(s)

… chat, chill, eating and drinking optional …

 

Start Time: 16:00
Date: 2014-08-02
End Time: late

BSFA/SFF AGM and Mini-Convention

Title: BSFA/SFF AGM and Mini-Convention Saturday 7th June
Location: The City of Westminster Archives Centre, 10 St Anne’s Street, London SW1P 2DE
Link out: Click here
Description: The official notice is out on the website, and it give me great pleasure to also post the schedule for the day, which includes some fun stuff, like all the awesome panels we’ll have, and the all important “lunch”!

10 am Welcome
10:05 am SFF Jo Fletcher Panel
11 am Frances Hardinge Interviewed by Tom Pollock
12-12:45 SFF AGM
12:45-1:30 Lunch Break
1:30- 2:15 BSFA AGM
2:30 Jo Fletcher Interview
3:30 Frances Hardinge Panel
4:25 Thank You

I hope to see you there!
Start Time: 10:00
Date: 2014-06-07
End Time: 17:00

Women in Sci-Fi Panel at Blackwells Charing Cross Road Tonight

This evening, Thursday 8th May, in partnership with Jo Fletcher Books at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road, six authors will discuss the visibility of female authors in genre fiction, why there is an apparent inequality of representation, and possible solutions for this issue. This looks to be an exciting and significant event, and is free to attend.

Authors Stephanie Saulter, Karen Lord, Naomi Foyle, Jaine Fenn and Janet Edwards will be taking part in this event, which will be moderated by award-winning critic Edward James, and features the launch of an exciting display of books promoting female authors in SFF.

Karen Lord was born in Barbados and published her multi-award-winning debut novel Redemption in Indigo in 2011 in the US, and later in Britain through Jo Fletcher Books. Her second novel The Best of All Possible Worlds will be released in paperback in May and her third, The Galaxy Game, a sequel to The Best of All Possible Worlds will be coming soon. Her writing has been described as ‘Refined, meditative and life-affirming’ by the Financial Times. This is a rare visit to the UK for this multiple-nominated and award-winning novelist, who among her many achievements received the 2012 Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award for the Best Debut Novel.


Naomi Foyle lives in Brighton, and published her debut novel Seoul Survivors with Jo Fletcher Books in 2013. Her second novel – and the first in a new trilogy – Astra, was published in February.

Stephanie Saulter hails from Jamaica, now living in London, she is the author of Gemsigns and its sequel Binary. She is also the brains behind the popular writing aid app Scriptopus. Also an awesome blogger.

Janet Edwards‘ debut novel, Earth Girl, was published in the UK and Commonwealth in 2012 by Harper Voyager, and in the USA in 2013 by Pyr. It was chosen by both Amazon and Kobo as one of their best Young Adult books of 2012, awarded a starred review for exceptional merit by Kirkus, and a starred review for being outstanding in its genre by Booklist. The sequel, Earth Star, is also available now, and the final book in the trilogy, Earth Flight, will be published in the UK and Commonwealth this August

Jaine Fenn’s first novel, Principles of Angels, was published by Gollancz in 2008 to critical acclaim. Her most recent book, Queen of Nowhere, is part of the same sequence of far future intrigue-heavy SF stories, the Hidden Empire series.

Edward James is a retired professor of medieval history, currently living in London. He has published a number of books on science fiction and fantasy, including A Short History of Fantasy (with Farah Mendlesohn) (2009). With Mendlesohn he has also edited The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction (which won a Hugo Award in 2005) and The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature (2012). He edited the academic journal Foundation: The International Journal of Science Fiction for a number of years, and is now Chair of the Science Fiction Foundation.

Tickets are free and can be booked here.  If you book a ticket and can no longer make it, please cancel your reservation here so that someone else can take your place.

Sci-Fi-London Film Festival in Full Swing

The Sci-Fi-London Film Festival is underway right now until 3rd May, and features many fantastic events, from film, to comedy, to dog shows – yes, there’s actually a dog show. Read on to find out more…

scifi london

Sci-Fi-London is the perfect festival for film buffs and aspiring film makers, being of course, the home of the 48 hour film challenge (for which the prize night is 1st May).

We also heard from the producers of Hungerford, a British Sci-Fi horror film which gets its World premiere on 3rd May at the festival, and which is now sold out. Aliens take over a small English town, and the inhabitants are driven to acts of violence. Hungerford’s teen protagonist is Cowen Rosewell, a media student whose first assignment is to record everything in a week of his life. When he films one of his best friends being savagely attacked by a stranger, he realizes that the town has come under a mysterious evil influence.

Hungerford is directed by an exciting young filmmaker called Drew Casson, who is only nineteen, and who has been posting videos to YouTube since he was twelve. Jesse Cleverly, co-founder of Wildseed Studios said: “Drew is typical of the next-generation of film makers we’re investing in – a generation who have grown up on genre movies, who operate outside the institutions of the British Film Industry, and who are utterly fearless and highly proficient with the tools of production and post-production in the pursuit of excitement, scale and an audience. We’re thrilled to have produced Hungerford and thanks to the ingenuity of Drew, the crew and excellent special effects this micro-feature achieves a sense of scale more fitting for a film with 100 times the budget.”

Join the mailing list at http://www.hungerfordfilm.com/ to find out about where the film can be seen near you in the future.

The Geekatorium are once more bringing their comedy show to the festival, which this year features some brilliant acts in the form of Paul Gannon, Rob Deb, Bec Hill and Richard Sandling – whose Perfect Movie events I have seen many times and been in stitches at (and he’s a proper film and comics fan, so I’m most assuredly recommending this). At £5 a ticket, this is an absolute bargain.

And of course, it would be remiss of us not to mention that the Arthur C. Clarke Award is also happening as part of the festival. Tickets are on sale right now for the event on 1st May at The Royal Society. Who’s going to win?

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My pick of the rest of the fest:

Sunday 27th April 1pm: Costume parade from Somerset House.

Sunday 27th April 7.30pm Guest of Honour Emma Vieceli – manga-inspired comics artist talks about her work, Gosh Comics.

Monday 28th April at 6.30pm – Saving Star Wars at Stratford Picturehouse. I think this one might be nice and silly…

Saturday 3rd May, 2.30 pm. Guest of  Honour, Mike Carey, comic writer discusses his work at Conway House.

Sunday 4th May, 3pm at the Stratford Picture House - it’s the Pub Quiz!

Oh, and on Sunday 4th May, there really is a dog show, hosted by Bunny Galore. SciFido – The Sci-Fi-London Dog Show.

All I can say is, my cats would protest most strongly if I tried to dress them like that…

David Gemmell Awards Shortlist Announced

2014 sees the sixth year of the David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy, one of fantasy fiction’s most prestigious prizes, with the superb trophies to be awarded at a stunning ceremony this June at London’s glamorous Magic Circle. With just a few months to go until this exciting event, the shortlists for each of the three prize categories were announced at this year’s Eastercon in Glasgow.

 

Stan Nicholls, Chair for the Gemmell Awards, said, ‘This year’s shortlist once again represents some of the very finest in fantasy fiction, with some incredible titles featured in all the categories. This year also represents a fascinating mixture not only of international names but also different aspects of the publishing world, showcasing the depth of quality in modern fantasy.’

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FULL SHORTLISTS:

 

Legend Award

(Best novel)
The Daylight War by Peter V Brett (Harper Collins UK)
Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (Harper Collins UK)
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch (Gollancz)
A Memory of Light by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan (Tor/Forge)
War Master’s Gate by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor UK)
Morningstar Award

(Best debut novel)
The Garden of Stones by Mark T Barnes (47 North)
Headtaker by David Guymer (Black Library)
Promise of Blood by Brian McLellan (Orbit)
The Path of Anger by Antoine Rouaud (Gollancz)
The Grim Company by Luke Scull (Head of Zeus)
Ravenheart Award

(Best cover art) 

 

Benjamin Carre for the cover of The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

(Gollancz)
Jason Chan for the cover of Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (Harper

Collins UK)
Cheol Joo Lee for the cover of Skarsnik by Guy Haley (Black Library)
Gene Mollica and Michael  Frost for the cover of Promise of Blood by Brian

McClellan (Orbit)
Rhett Podersoo for the cover of She Who Waits by Daniel Polansky (Hodder)

 

The David Gemmell Awards ceremony will take place at London’s Magic Circle on the 13th June. For more information on the awards, visit http://gemmellaward.com/ or email dgla@live.co.uk

Brighton Exhibition of Bob Layzell Artwork in May

Renowned SF artist Bob Layzell is due to open a retrospective exhibition of his work at the Dynamite Gallery in Brighton in May.

Bob, who is now in his 70s , is renowned as an incredible cover artist. He produced classic cover art for many science fiction novels in the 1970s, including works by Harry Harrison, Barrington J. Bayley, Robert Silverberg, Isaac Asimov and J. G. Ballard.

This will be Bob Layzell’s first ever show, and will open with a private viewing on 2nd May at which attendees collect a free poster and meet the artist. The artist will also be available to sign those posters on two other dates to be confirmed. Originals and Limited Edition Prints will be on sale throughout the show, including a new piece created especially for this exhibition, to be auctioned off on the 10th May.

Those interested in attending the private viewing are encouraged to contact the gallery at the address given.