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SF History

Clarke at 100: The City and the Stars

by Paul

There was a habit that was popular with novelists for quite a long while, though you don’t see it very much these days: they would sign off the last page of the novel with the date and place they began and finished the writing. It was not a habit that Arthur C. Clarke followed much, […]

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… and SF novels shortlisted for mainstream prizes

by Paul

The other day we noted some of the mainstream writers who had been shortlisted for (or had even won) major science fiction awards. But the news that Naomi Alderman has won the Baileys Women’s Prize for The Power was a reminder that the traffic isn’t all one way. Admittedly, there are fewer sf novels being shortlisted […]

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5 of the Best: Richard Cowper

by Paul

Tags: Categories: Lists

Richard Cowper was born John Middleton Murry Jr., the son of the eminent critic John Middleton Murry. It was probably not an easy background for someone who wanted to be a writer. Although his father at first encouraged his ambitions, when the young John showed him the manuscript for his first novel (written under the […]

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An SF Brexit?

by Paul

The recent UK election was supposed to be all about Brexit, and yet it was hardly mentioned by any of the parties. Strange how an issue that could affect the whole continent can slip so easily out of public consciousness. And yet Britain’s relationship with Europe is hardly the most prominent theme in science fiction […]

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18 mainstream authors shortlisted for SF Awards

by Paul

A little while ago, a columnist at Slate published a piece about mainstream writers venturing into science fiction. It’s a piece that has been pretty widely mocked in sf circles, though not always for the right reasons. But the truth is that this is not a new phenomenon; the distinction between sf and mainstream has always […]

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Clarke at 100: Childhood’s End

by Paul

Childhood’s End, the first of Arthur C. Clarke’s novels that we can truly consider a classic, began life as a short story, “Guardian Angel”, first published in 1950. The novel version was written, Clarke reports, “between February and December 1952, and extensively revised in the spring of 1953”. The date is important because, as we […]

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5 One-Off SF Ideas

by Paul

Let’s face it, most sf ideas get re-used and developed and built-up and changed as they spread across the genre. H.G. Wells invents the time machine, but it is other writers who use it to go back and change the past, or kill your grandfather, or any number of other variations on the theme you’ll […]

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A History of Space Opera in 5 Titles

by Paul

Space opera is big again, what with Tor promising a summer of space opera, and the fuss accompanying the announcement that Jo Walton’s new book, due in February next year, is a space opera, Poor Relations. But space opera hasn’t always been popular. In fact, since it first appeared, about 90 years ago, space opera has […]

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10 Essential SF Titles of the 1900s

by Paul

The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 marked the end of an age just as surely as it marked the beginning of a new century. The restrictions and moralising of the high Victorian age was already being undermined during the latter years of the 19th century, but without the small, black-clad, increasingly distant figure […]

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Clarke at 100: Collected Stories

by Paul

Arthur C. Clarke was not actually the most prolific of short story writers. Yes, his Collected Stories is a big, fat volume containing over 100 pieces, but these are brought together from a career stretching over 60 years. They range from his first published story, “Travel By Wire”, which appeared in an amateur magazine in December 1937, […]

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