From the Shadows


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You may have seen that a Shadow Jury has been announced for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, (follow that link to keep up with announcements and other stuff about the Shadow Jury).

I am pleased, if somewhat daunted, to say that I am on the jury, along with David Hebblethwaite, Vajra Chandrasekera, Nick Hubble, Megan AM, Victoria Hoyle, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Jonathan McCalmont, and of course Nina Allan whose idea this was.

I have never been involved with a shadow jury before, so I’m probably going to be making it up as we go along. But my take on it is that the Clarke Award has become central to the way we see science fiction in Britain, so the shadow jury will use it as a jumping off point from which to expand the discussion of science fiction.

We’ll be starting with the submissions list, which is due to be published shortly and which is probably the best and most convenient way to discover what science fiction has been published in Britain during any particular year. From this we will each, individually, draw up our own preferred shortlists, based on what we’ve read and what we want to read. (No plan survives an encounter with the enemy, so I assume that as we read through our chosen books our views about what should or should not be on the shortlist will change. In many ways, I suspect that will be the most interesting part of the exercise.) We will also, of course, be reading the actual shortlist when that is announced, so the whole exercise will be a scaled-up version of Maureen Kincaid Speller’s wonderful Shortlist Project from a few years back.

All of these readings and discussions will of course be online, thanks to Helen Marshall and the Anglia Ruskin Centre, and I suspect I’ll be reprinting some at least of my contributions here.

And at the end of the day: I suspect and hope that we will have a spectacular multivalent view of the state of science fiction in 2016, and we will be seeing the Clarke Award winner and the shortlist in the wider context of what they emerged from. More important, I hope we will have had an informative and enjoyable conversation that changes the way all of us look at contemporary science fiction.



We’ll always have Paris


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Sometimes, connections come at you in completely unexpected ways. By chance, you read something that sticks in the memory; months later, you see something more or less unrelated; then a little after that you read something else and an unlikely (if frail) bridge seems to be formed tying all three together. Continue reading

Reprint: The End


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I had great plans for my Cognitive Mapping series that ran in Vector between 1995 and 2001. At one point I envisaged producing 100 of the columns, which could then be gathered together as a decent-sized book. But at some point the project ran out of steam. I had maybe another half-dozen columns started but never completed. Apart from a parody piece (written by another hand, not naming names Mr B****r), the column was over. But at the end of 2005 I produced one last hurrah, appropriately enough on how science fiction deals with the end of things. This last column was published in Vector 244, November-December 2005. Continue reading

Reprint: Violence


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I’ve nearly finished gathering together all of my Cognitive Mapping columns from Vector. This is the penultimate one, and it first appeared in Vector 193, May-June 1997. Continue reading

Time of Arrival


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On Saturday evening we finally got to see Arrival (insert usual and deserved superlatives here). On Saturday afternoon, I came across a review of the film; I haven’t sought it out again, I haven’t linked to it, because something so wrongheaded doesn’t deserve the link. At one point the reviewer said, in so many words, the subplot about the daughter is unnecessary but at least it’s not sentimental.

Well, he’s right about it not being sentimental. Otherwise … Continue reading

Reprint: Banks, Holdstock, Kilworth, MacLeod Poems


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I’ve been meaning to get back to using this blog as a resource where I can keep as much of my writing as possible online, so let’s start with this review of Poems, Peoms & Other Atrocities by Garry Kilworth & Robert Holdstock, and Poems by Iain Banks & Ken MacLeod, which first appeared in Foundation 122, December 2015. Continue reading