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How to build your SF Reference Library: Essays

by Paul

If you start getting into the more academic areas of science fiction criticism, then you’re going to have to get used to dealing with essays. Much academic criticism comes in the form of essays (come to think of it, many books are really compilations of essays). Some of these are heavy going (there are always […]

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5 ways history changed

by Paul

They are called “jonbar points”, from the moment in Jack Williamson’s The Legion of Time when a small boy, John Barr, picks up either a magnet or a pebble. One choice turns the world towards the good Jonbar empire, the other turns it towards the bad Gyronchi empire. They are, other words, the point of change […]

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4 “Great Peculiars” of Science Fiction

by Paul

Over at Tor.com, Walter Jon Williams has an excellent article about Cordwainer Smith, who he memorably describes as one of the “Great Peculiars” of science fiction. By this he means distinctive writers who are impossible to imitate. Start reading a story by Cordwainer Smith and you know immediately who the author is. There is something […]

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Books to look forward to in October, part 3

by Paul

And here we go with the final selection of the books you’ll want to read this month. The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman Yes, I know, another fantasy. But if you aren’t excited by Pullman returning to the world of His Dark Materials, where have you been hiding for the last […]

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Books to look forward to in October, part 2

by Paul

October really is quite an epic month for new titles, so without further ado let’s continue our list: William Gibson’s Archangel by William Gibson Well here’s something you probably weren’t expecting: a graphic novel from William Gibson. It starts in 2016, when our political leaders have left the world a radioactive ruin. Our last hope is […]

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Books to look forward to in October, part 1

by Paul

Three-quarters of the way through the year, and October is when publishers really get their autumn lists going. So this month we’ve got some really big names, including William Gibson, Tanith Lee, Ken MacLeod and Connie Willis. But they’re all lined up for the the follow up posts to this one. We’ve got enough big […]

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These are the Ways the World Ends: Environment

by Paul

Concluding our short series on the end of the world, we come to those stories in which the world rises up against humanity. That other apocalyptic horseman, Famine, is the invariable companion of War and Pestilence; but science fiction has expanded on this. It is not just that humanity is unable to find sufficient food, […]

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These are the Ways the World Ends: Pestilence

by Paul

This week we’re looking at the different ways that science fiction has looked at the end of the world, or at least the end of human civilisation. The three horsemen of the sf apocalypse are War, Pestilence and the Environment. Today, it’s the turn of … Pestilence One of the more powerful of contemporary novels […]

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These are the Ways the World Ends: War

by Paul

The darkness grew apace; a cold wind began to blow in freshening gusts from the east, and the showering white flakes in the air increased in number. From the edge of the sea came a ripple and whisper. Beyond these lifeless sounds the world was silent. So the world ends, as witnessed by the time […]

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Discovering the Award Winners: International Fantasy Award

by Paul

When we were putting together our historical list of the best sf (1950s here) I noticed how rarely the book we chose as the best of the year was one of that year’s award winners. And when we compiled our own lists of the best books of 2015 and 2016, the number one book on each […]

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