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SF History

Clarke at 100

by Paul

Saturday 16th December, two days away as I post this, would have been Arthur C. Clarke’s 100th birthday. Throughout the year, in celebration, we’ve been re-reading his books: The Sands of Mars (post here) Childhood’s End (post here) Earthlight (post here) The City and the Stars (post here) A Fall of Moondust (post here) 2001, […]

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Women SF Writers who should not be forgotten

by Paul

The 1950s is often reckoned to be the Golden Age of science fiction. It was a time when all the great names of the genre, like Asimov and Heinlein, Clarke and Bradbury, were at their peak, and before the New Wave of the 1960s started turning the genre in a new direction. A good time […]

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SF from Benelux you should be reading

by Paul

Our leisurely tour around the world of science fiction brings us to the Low Countries, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands (though, apart from being the birthplace of Hugo Gernsback, Luxembourg doesn’t really feature in this story). The old name for the region, “The Low Countries”, and the more recent name, “Benelux”, both suggest that this […]

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Discovering the Award Winners: Retro Hugos

by Paul

Back in the early 1950s, when the Hugo Awards were born, Worldcon organizers had much more liberty to choose what was and was not included in their programme. So after the 1953 Worldcon decided to introduce the awards, the following year’s convention chose not to repeat the idea. It wasn’t until the 1955 Worldcon that […]

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Clarke at 100: The Hammer of God

by Paul

The Hammer of God was not quite the last solo novel that Arthur C. Clarke wrote (that honour goes to 3001, The Final Odyssey), but it could lay claim to being the worst solo novel he wrote. It’s an expansion of a short story, also called “The Hammer of God”, that came out the year before, […]

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Clarke at 100: The Fountains of Paradise

by Paul

Tags: Categories: Books

Reportedly, Arthur C. Clarke himself regarded The Fountains of Paradise as his best novel. He could be right. As we’ve noted already, the big hits of his career, 2001, A Space Odyssey and Rendezvous with Rama and their respective sequels, actually represent a decline in the quality of his writing. Characters have become less clearly distinguished, less fully […]

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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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Discovering the Award Winners: Birth of the Hugos

by Paul

The organizers of the 1953 Worldcon, known as PhilCon II, were looking for a centrepiece event for their convention. They decided on an award ceremony. The awards would be known as the Science Fiction Achievement Awards, and would be voted on by members of the convention. At the time there was no plan to continue […]

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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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