Annual General Meeting 2015

Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the British Science Fiction Association Ltd will be held at:

Lecture Theatre 1, Blackett Laboratory Building. Imperial College, London

 on Saturday 6th June 2015 at midday for the following purposes:

1.     To approve the Minutes of the previous Annual General Meeting

2.     To approve the financial statements for the year ended 30 September 2014

3.     To receive and consider the Annual Review of the Year.

4.     Elections: The following Directors retire by rotation and offer themselves for re-election: D R Langford, A Sawyer & M T Potts.

5.     Any Other Business

A proxy form is attached here for use if a member is unable to attend and wishes to appoint a proxy for voting purposes, along with a copy of the AGM 2014 minutes and draft financial statements for the year ended 30 September 2014 for approval at the meeting.
 
Martin Potts
Treasurer

Sci-fi takes over Forum Shopping Centre on 2nd May

The Forum Shopping Centre in Sittingbourne will be hosting a Sci – Fi event on Saturday 2nd May from 10am – 5pm.

The event will include special meet and greet sessions and signing opportunities with actors such as Simon Fisher-Becker who played Dorium Maldovar and Matthew Dale who played Big John from Doctor Who as well as Chris Bunn, the original Stormtrooper from Star Wars.

There will also be treasure hunts, a face painter, a Fancy Dress Competition, Quizzes and activities by Luniac Designs, exhibitions featuring a life size TARDIS and a Dalek – arch nemesis of Dr Who and a selection of stalls offering sci-fi themed products.

All proceeds raised from the event will go towards The Alzheimer’s Society, the centre’s new charity of the year.

Rachel Jenman, Centre Manager of The Forum Shopping Centre, commented:

“We are really looking forward to our Sci-fi day. The event will offer shoppers a jam packed programme of fun activities with something to treat everyone who has an interest in science fiction, from a TARDIS and Storm Troopers to Daleks and lightsabers. I hope everyone who attends has a fantastic time.”

BSFA London Meeting May 2015- Edward James interviewed by Phil Dyson

Location: Upstairs, The Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND
On Wednesday 27th May 2015, Edward James (winner of the BSFA 2014 Award for Non-Fiction for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers in the Great War) will be interviewed by Phil Dyson.

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 June 2015-Sarah Pinborough interviewed by James Barclay

22nd July 2015- Rebecca Levene- Interviewed by Leila Abu El Hawa

Gemmell Awards Longlist – Voting Opens Today

Today, Friday April 10th, sees voting open for the 7th Gemmell Awards, the longlist for which was announced today.

The aims of the awards, named after legendary fantasy writer David Gemmell, are  to raise public awareness of the Fantasy genre, to celebrate the history and cultural importance of Fantasy literature and to appreciate and reward excellence in the field.

The longlists for the Legend Award – for the best novel of fantasy fiction, the Morningstar Award – for the best fantasy debut novel, and the Ravenheart Award – for the year’s best fantasy cover art – can all be seen on the newly designed website, launched for the occasion.

Awards Chair Stan Nicholls said: ‘The new website is a key part of our plan for the awards going forward, and will allow us to really expand our online output. Add to this the longlist announcement and voting beginning and we have some really exciting times ahead for the Gemmell Awards – I can’t wait to see what wonderful fantasy books the public have to choose from!’

The David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy began in 2009, with the aim of celebrating the best in fantasy fiction and commemorating the work of David Gemmell. Previous winners Andrezj Sapowski, Graham McNeill, Brandon Sanderson, Pierre Pevel, Patrick Rothfuss, Helen Lowe, Brent Weeks, John Gwynne, Brian McLellan and Mark Lawrence.

The longlists will be whittled down to a shortlist, whereupon voting will open again and fantasy fans and readers will have the chance to vote for their favourites again.

Voting on each of 2015’s longlists closes at midnight on Friday 15th May.

Voting on the shortlist opens on Monday 1st June and closes at midnight on Friday 17th July.

The presentation takes place at 8pm on Saturday 8th August at Nine Worlds Geekfest.

April London BSFA Meeting: Den Patrick Interviewed by Gillian Redfearn

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

Den_Patrick_6649

On Wednesday 22nd of April  2015, Den Patrick (author of The Boy with the Porcelain Blade and The Boy Who Wept Blood and co-creater of the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, a genre social night, with Jen Williams) will be interviewed by Gillian Redfearn (editor at Gollancz).

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:

27th May 2015- Edward James interviewed by Phil Dyson

24th June 2015-Sarah Pinborough interviewed by James Barclay

22nd July 2015- Rebecca Levene- Interviewed by Leila Abu El Hawa

29th Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist Announced

Hot on the heels of the BSFA Award Winners and the Hugo shortlist comes the Clarke Awards, as we affectionately know ’em. The six shortlisted books for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel of the year published in 2014 are:

 
The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey (Orbit)
The Book Of Strange New Things – Michel Faber (Canongate)
Europe In Autumn – Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)
Memory Of Water – Emmi Itäranta (HarperVoyager)
The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August – Claire North (Orbit)
Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel (Picador)

The 6 shortlisted titles were selected from a list of 107 individual eligible submissions, put forward by 36 different publishing houses and imprints.

None of the authors above have been listed for this award before, and what a fantastically broad and diverse mix of science fiction books they represent. We also note that two of our own shortlist for the BSFA Awards have made this list – Dave Hutchinson’s Europe in Autumn and Claire North’s the First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, so that’s yet another ringing endorsement for these two books.

Award Director Tom Hunter said, “This is a quintessentially Clarke Award kind of a shortlist of exactly the sort that we’ve become known for over the years and always love to celebrate. Congratulations to all of our shortlisted authors, their publishing teams and, of course, a big thank you to everyone on our judging panel this year […] A good shortlist isn’t a statement about what you should like, it’s an invitation to go beyond the limits of what you already know so you can experience and enjoy something new. Why limit an appreciation of a literature that’s built on the power of human imagination?

We would also like the thank the judges here at the BSFA. It’s not so easy to get through 107 books! You’ve done us proud.

The judging panel for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2015 are:

 Duncan Lawie, British Science Fiction Association

  • Nicholas Whyte, British Science Fiction Association
  • Sarah Brown, Science Fiction Foundation
  • Lesley Hall, Science Fiction Foundation
  • Leila Abu El Hawa, SCI-FI-LONDON film festival

 Andrew M. Butler represents the Arthur C. Clarke Award in a non-voting role as the Chair of the Judges. 

 The winner will be announced on Wednesday 6th May at an exclusive award ceremony held at Foyles Bookshop, London, and taking place as part of the activities leading up to the SCI-FI-LONDON Film Festival.

 The winner will be presented with a cheque for £2015.00 and the award itself, a commemorative engraved bookend. 

The BSFA Awards 2014 Winners Announced

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

10355804_10153230733427112_2540421984834822927_n

Congratulations to all our winners and nominees.

Best Novel

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (Orbit)

Best Short Fiction

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

Best Non-Fiction

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

Best Art

“The Wasp Factory” after Iain Banks by Tessa Farmer

Please click below for a breakdown of the vote:

Final Ballot 3

SFF and BSFA AGMs – Save the Date!

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

York Pubmeet 9th May

Location: Brigantes Bar, 114 Micklegate, York
In association with the BFS there will be another exciting York Pubmeet event.karenauthorpic

This one takes place in May at the Brigantes Bar, 114 Micklegate, just 5 mins round the corner from York train station. We have another selection of super guests and books to give away and all of it is totally FREE!morris,%20mark

Guest authors K.T. Davies and Mark Morris will be reading from their own work and fielding questions about their careers and writing in general. Plus, special guest: Lee Harris, Senior Editor, Tor.com running a bonus “Ask the Editor” spot for all your editorial queries and advice.

leeharris

There’ll be another fabulous FREE raffle offering all attendees the chance to grab a couple of new books and book bundles to take home (incl. signed copies of books by both our guests) and plenty of good conversation and drinks to enjoy.

There is an Eventbrite site for this event with full details: please click the link and register. It gives us an idea of how many are coming and you can see who will be there.
http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/3rd-york-pubmeet-british-fantasy-society-british-science-fiction-association-tickets-16332572163?aff=es2

Start Time: 16:30
 

TWEETFICTION TWEETSTREAM! DURING DYSPROSIUM – EASTERCON 2015

TWEETFICTION TWEETSTREAM!

DURING DYSPROSIUM – EASTERCON 2015

The Tweetstream

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

Story Format Suggestions & Encouraged Behaviour 

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

 

Adminstration

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

 

JOIN IN !

BSFA Events at Dysprosium

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

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

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

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

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

Friday

Johnson, 11:15 – 12.15

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

Discovery, 15:00 – 16:00

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

Saturday

Endeavour, 12:30 – 13:30

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

Endeavour, 13:45 – 14:45

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

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

BSFA Award Advance Voting Extended (Slightly)

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

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

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

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

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

April BSFA London Meeting: Den Patrick interviewed by Gillian Redfearn

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

 

Den Patrick

 

 

Gillian Redfearn

 

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

Map is here.

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

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

FUTURE EVENTS:

27th May 2015-TBA

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

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

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

nether

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

See here for ticket information.

Remembering Terry Pratchett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • “Ook. Oook, oooook!”

Sorry, Librarian. I love you too!

 

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

2015 BSFA Lecture

The 2015 BSFA Lecture at Dysprosium (the 2015 Eastercon) will be given by Dr Simon Trafford (Institute of Historical Research), and is entitled ‘“Runar munt þu finna”: why sing pop in dead languages?’ The lecture will be given at 5.30 pm on Saturday April 4th, in the Discovery room of the Park Inn, Heathrow. The lecture is open to any member of Dysprosium.

Simon Trafford is Lecturer in Medieval History and Research Training Officer at the University of London’s Institute of Historical Research. He specialises in the history and archaeology of the later Anglo-Saxon period in the north-east of England. He completed his undergraduate studies and his D.Phil. at the University of York, where his supervisor was Professor Edward James, who sf fans know as current Chair of the Science Fiction Foundation. Simon has a particular interest in the depiction of Vikings in popular culture. His talk for us develops this, with a special focus upon the use of dead ancient and medieval languages in pop and rock songs.

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 the eighth BSFA Lecture.

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

A PAIR OF ANTHOLOGIES BY ANY OTHER NAME, by Alex Bardy (@mangozoid)

 

I am not by nature, much of an anthology fan – I find it hard-going to keep up with all the novels and novellas I really want to read, without resorting to reading several smaller stories compiled into one bumper collection, some of which may or may not be particularly good. This, I guess, is a common predicament for many readers, so it’s with a mix of sadness and delight that I can categorically say that both these anthologies have gone a long way toward my conversion into a more accepting and less discriminatory reader. Bravo to the pair of them, and bang goes all hope of me trying to catch up with my “Really Want to Read” list anytime soon… Bah, humbug!

 

DEAD MAN’S HAND

Edited by John Joseph Adams

Titan Books, 409pp large format softback, £8.99 cover price

DMH

Dead Man’s Hand is edited by John Joseph Adams, and dubbed a “Weird West” anthology themed around the classic American Old West, complete with all the terror and heartache associated with such turbulent times, especially if you happen to have a soft spot for the humble horse and/or those regularly involved in the odd Cowboy/Indian shootout at whatever Corral is flavour of the week on any given day!

 

Over the last few years, I’ve been convinced there’s a big gap in the market where cross-genre Westerns with a supernatural, fantasy and/or science-fiction bent should be sitting (in a similar vein to Defiance and the tragically short-lived Firefly TV series for example), and this anthology serves as a reminder there is a whole vista of endless possibilities surely going begging in this particular market? Interestingly (to me), the graphic novel/comics scene doesn’t suffer quite as much on this front, with titles like Jonah Hex, Rawhide Kid, Caliber, Wyatt Earp and Preacher among others all familiar to fans of this medium – these are still perhaps not “funky” enough to be considered “Weird West” (granted, some of the stories can be, though!), but nonetheless show that it’s a market that still has its fans. Walking Dead is arguably a “modern” western, but that’s an altogether different story, I suspect.

 

Featuring great work and a sparkling roll call of genre authors, there are some fabulous tales to be found herein – of alien gold fever, dodgy playing cards, clockwork gunslingers, and reanimated corpses among others. And despite a distinct “steampunk”-ish feel running through a number of the stories, they are all definitively set in the traditional “Wild West”, showing a marked variety in both theme and tone…

 

Rather than trawl through every story and commenting on each, I’d like to mention a handful that really stood out for me, while still offering an inkling as to how varied the content is, sooo…

 

Joe R Lansdale’s “The Red-Headed Dead” sees the classic return of his Reverend Mercer character in another supernatural battle with evil, and kicks off this collection in fine style, while “Second Hand” by Rajan Khanna takes the concept of a deck of cards and throws a whole new meaning of “dangerous death-dealing” at it…

 

“Hellfire on the High Frontier” by David Farland, “Strong Medicine” by Tad Williams and “Red Dreams” by Jonathan Maberry all play on the trope of an artificial gunslinger finding its place in the Wild West, yet all of these tales approach it from wildly differing angles, with Farland’s “Hellfire…” leaning particularly heavy on the concept of the new age supplanting the old, as it were…

 

“The Man with No Heart” by Beth Revis and “The Old Slow Man and his Gold Gun from Space” by Ben H. Winters both run with the idea of travellers from another world in a Wild West setting, with the latter sporting a particularly amusing take on the concept.

 

“The Hell-Bound Stagecoach” by Mike Resnick is another of the more light-hearted in this collection, and somewhat far away from the tale you’d be forgiven for expecting, given the title.

 

With names like Orson Scott Card, Walter Jon Williams, Elizabeth Bear, Alan Dean Foster, Alastair Reynolds, Tad Williams, and Christie Yant also among the contributor list – none of which I suspect will be lost on many BSFA members – this really is an excellent showcase of their work and adaptability.

 

FANTASY- FACTION ANTHOLOGY

Edited by Marc Aplin & Jennie Ivins

Fantasy-Faction Publishing, 313pp standard paperback,
available direct from the fantasy-faction.com website as paperback or ebook from £7.00

FFA

In stark contrast to Dead Man’s Hand and the Weird West, I suspect there is no real shortage of fantasy anthologies nowadays. Alas, many are on a set theme, be it Magic, Wizards, Dragons, Zombie Elf Demons, etc. so it came as a very pleasant surprise that the standout thing about the Fantasy-Faction Anthology – for me at least – is the fact that it also carries Non-fiction. That’s right, and you did read that correctly, this also has several Non-fiction essays in it; and frankly, they’re a delightful addition to an already great collection. I’ll talk more about that a little later.

 

Although this anthology can be considered very much a new kid on the block for fantasy fans, the website itself, www.fantasy-faction.com, has been around since 2010 (and seen over 3m visitors up until mid-2014 apparently – I suspect it’s a lot more nowadays as there’s some cracking stuff on there). One can hardly say this first anthology was rushed, either – Marc Aplin, one of the co-editors for this and also the “ff” website founder, thought it a good idea to open this anthology up to all his website visitors with an ambitiously generic “just write fantasy” caveat… 1700 submissions and two years later, and this is the result – but my, what a wonderful little package they’ve put together!

d1 d2 d3

 

This is a stirring collection and a marvellous volume in its own right, but as mentioned above, is made all the more entertaining because the stories are interspersed with non-fiction pieces. I’d like to stay on this point as I think it’s one worth celebrating. Those of you with older heads and greying hair may well recall that back in the late 70s there was a paperback magazine published by Ace Books called Destinies, edited by James Baen – this carried a number of fabulous science fiction tales by the likes of Larry Niven, Poul Anderson, Joe Haldeman, Gregory Benford and many other genre stalwarts (it did tend to be an “all-male party” back then, so I apologise in advance: that’s a different topic entirely)… but crucially, also featured articles dubbed “Speculative Fact” (later “Science Fact”) from Jerry Pournelle, Charles Sheffield, Frederik Pohl, and a number of other “science writers”. Similar magazines were around, but Destinies and the revised New Destinies were among the most prominent here in the UK if memory serves (and it doesn’t always, so forgive me if I’ve got that wrong).

 

Anyway, returning to the Fantasy-Faction Anthology and the non-fiction to be found therein, we have Richard Morgan to thank for “Killing the Magic (And Putting it in a Box)” which effectively tells all you naysayers and “fantasy realism” buffs where to park your troublesome thoughts on the so-called authenticity (and otherwise) of fantasy fiction. In stark contrast to this, we have both Anne Lyle and Kameron Hurley writing about bringing some consistency to your fantasy worlds, the former in a well-informed piece about “Historical Research for Fantasy Writers” and the latter discussing the thorny topic of “Creating Better Fantasy Economies: Who Does All The Work?” On a more light-hearted note, James Barclay covers “The Preservation and Evolution of Elves” with his usual wit and candour, while Mark Charan Newton writes a piece entitled “Advice I”d Give My Younger Self” that really does speak to the writer in us all.

 

So that’s the non-fiction well covered, so what about the fiction?

 

There were many standouts for me, but Mark Lawrence’s “The Dream-Taker’s Apprentice” and Richard Ford’s “The Halfwyrd’s Burden” both struck me as simply “Fantasy done right”, whilst “The House on the Old Cliffs” by Adrian Tchaikovsky, “Misericordia” by Rene Sears and “The Dealer” by Miah Sonnel all took the generic fantasy setting and made good with it in a twisty, gnarly “let’s shake things up a bit” way. Lastly, both “The Unsung” by Jessalyn Heaton and John Yeo Jr.’s “Overdue” remain touching and poignant tales that lingered in the mind for a good while after I read them.

 

In summary, a lovely collection of both fiction and non-fiction, and a very high bar with which to set the standard of future volumes to come… And I know there’ll be more to follow, but at least Marc has agreed to draft in some extra help for the next one, to ensure it doesn’t take quite so long to compile. I wish him and the rest of the fantasy-faction.com team the very best of luck in maintaining this kind of quality and consistency, however, because I suspect they’re going to need it. Highly recommended.

 

 

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