About Martin McCallion

I've been the website administrator for the BSFA since around Easter 2012. In my day job I'm a programmer so I know my way around a computer and the web. I also do some writing.

Fans sought for BBC film

Chloë Penman of the BBC has contacted the BSFA with an interesting request. She writes:

I’m the researcher on a new BBC landmark series about the history of Science Fiction, the series will be shown this spring on BBC America and later in the year in the UK on BBC2.

To accompany the UK series we are making an exclusive short film for the BBC’s iPlayer – a 20 minute programme all about British SF fans.

We are looking to find a broad range of willing contributors all of whom representing, in their own way, the full breadth of British SF fandom. We are looking for people who can talk eloquently about the genre, but more specifically about what SF means to them. We would like people to tell us about why Science Fiction is so important in their lives, what doors it
has opened for them and why, as a genre, it inspires such a lively conversation with its audience.

I’m looking for people who can give me a personal take on their relationship with Science Fiction, real stories about the power of Science Fiction.

Many Thanks,

Chloë Penman, Researcher
History of Science Fiction, BBC Arts
BBC Bristol, Broadcasting House, Whiteladies Road, Bristol, BS8 2LR
Tel: +44 (0)117 974 6890

Registrations re-enabled, spammers blocked (with any luck)

Hi all. You may remember that I disabled self-registration on the site not long before Christmas. Well a few days ago I had three or four new members asking me how they could register on the site (welcome, new people). So I decided it was time to activate registrations again.

We got over two hundred registrations in the following three days. Two Hundred! I like to think that the BSFA has a popular site, but, come on.

So I researched WordPress plugins, and found that the plainly-named Stop Spammers plugin should be our friend. I’ve just installed it, and we’ll see how it goes.

Now, the plugin describes itself as “very aggressive”, so there’s always the danger of false positives. By which I mean, it might detect an IP address as a source of spam, when that address is in fact perfectly innocent.

So if you find the site behaves strangely; if you find you can’t log on; if you try to register and are stopped (and you’re not a spammer): please let me know.

You can email me via webadmin at bsfa.co.uk.

Disabling new registrations

Hello from your friendly neighbourhood web administrator. Over the last few months I’ve been seeing crazy numbers of new registrations on the website — 20, 30 even 50 in a day. At first you might think that should be gratifying; but really, I’m sure the vast bulk of them are by bots, or otherwise people up to no good.

Potentially, at least. We’ve had very little trouble from spam comments, for example. Yet I get the feeling that it’s building up to something.

So in order to reduce the likelihood of the BSFA website being turned into SkyNet, I’m going to disable new registrations tomorrow.

This won’t affect anyone who is already registered, of course. It just means that if you’re super-keen to register and haven’t yet done so, you should do it before about 23:00 (11pm) UK time on the 20th of December.

I’ll re-enable registration early in the new year.

Happy Christmas everyone (except the creators of malicious botnets).

David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy: Winner Announced

This press release reaches us from Alex Davis, PR Officer for the David Gemmell Legend Awards:


Hallowe’en night saw the awards ceremony for the David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy taking place in Brighton, with prestigious prizes given to the very best in fantasy fiction over the last year. In the fabulous surrounding of the Metropole Hotel, and in front of a packed crowd, the awards were presented by some of the genre’s most acclaimed names.

The opening award of the evening, the Ravenheart Award for best cover art, was presented by Freda Warrington to Didier Graffet and Dave Senior for Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country. Didier and Dave were winning the award for the second time, previously taking home the prize for the cover of Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold.

The second award at the ceremony, the Morningstar Award for best debut novel, was awarded to British author John Gwynne for his stunning first novel, Malice, the beginning of the Banished Lands series. The prize was presented by acclaimed thriller and horror author Michael Marshall Smith.

The final award of the evening, presented by Stella Gemmell, was the Legend Award for best fantasy novel. This award, along with the stunning snaga trophy, went to Brent Weeks for his epic The Blinding Knife, the second book in the Lightbringer series. Brent becomes the third US author to win the award, following on from Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss.

The ceremony also saw the official launch of the Legends anthology, a collection of stories written as a tribute to the work of David Gemmell. The book is newly released from NewCon press and features new stories from a host of the field’s leading talent, including Joe Abercrombie, James Barclay, Storm Constantine, Tanith Lee, Juliet E McKenna, Anne Nicholls, Stan Nicholls, Jan Siegel, Adrian Tchaikovsky and many more.

Awards Chair Stan Nicholls said: ‘The Gemmell Awards for Fantasy are unique in being determined by a public vote, and a true chance for the readership to recognise the finest fantasy of the year. I’m delighted by the international nature of the awards – we’ve got winners from France, the UK and America, highlighting that these awards do have true worldwide significance.’

To find out more about the Gemmell Awards, visit http://www.gemmellaward.com/

SF and Fantasy at the Durham Book Festival

Tammy Moore of New Writing North, which runs the Durham Book Festival, writes:

We are delighted to be bringing an exciting mix of SF and Fantasy authors to the 2013 Durham Book Festival.

For the young at heart, why not start with fantasy fun with Curtis Jobling on Saturday 19 October. The author and illustrator of numerous children’s books – and the creator of kid’s favourites like Bob the Builder and Frankenstein’s Cat ­– Jobling will be at Durham Town Hall on Saturday 19 October to talk about his fantasy series, Wereworld. Jobling will also delight fans with a fun, interactive talk featuring live animation.

And for those fans who like their fantastical fiction with a bit more science, Stephen Baxter, one of the UK’s most prolific and imaginative writers, will be at the festival on Saturday 12 October. Baxter will be talking to Professor Simon James about his prolific writing career – which includes the classic Xeelee sequence and The Time Ships – and The Long War, the latest instalment in the series he is co-writing with SF and fantasy legend Terry Pratchett.

Finally there is Matt Haig’s The Humans, in which a celebrated Cambridge professor makes one discovery too far and ends up the skin-suit of a befuddled alien with a mission to accomplish. Haig will be at the Festival on Sunday 13 October for a Q&A session with debut author Lottie Moggach, writer of the unusual mystery Kiss Me First. Read the books and come along with your questions; or listen to the questions first and then see what you think of the book.