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Brian Aldiss

Science Fiction Before Frankenstein, 2: Other Worlds

by Paul

Okay, for science fiction you really need strange worlds and alien creatures. Well, no you don’t, really; but it is still one of the typical characteristics of an awful lot of sf. And it’s a characteristic that goes right back to the early days of sf. Back, indeed, to those ancient Greek writers who wrote […]

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Science Fiction Before Frankenstein, 1: This World

by Paul

So, a couple of days ago, we reported on the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Because Brian Aldiss had identified this as the first true sf novel, some people have also said that it’s also the 200th birthday of science fiction itself. It is not, and as promised here’s a bunch of stuff published long […]

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Happy 200th Birthday to Science Fiction?

by Paul

At the beginning of January 1818 a new book was published, a novel written by a woman still in her teens, and begun as part of a ghost story competition with Lord Byron, Dr John Polidori and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Frankenstein; or, A Modern Prometheus came out from the firm of Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor […]

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5 Wintery Tales

by Paul

Baby, it’s cold outside – as the old song has it. At least, it is for those of us in the North. And as winter starts to bite, here’s a selection of stories to remind us how much nicer it is to stay indoors by the fire. Helliconia Winter by Brian Aldiss As we’re looking […]

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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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Brian W. Aldiss

by Paul

Brian Aldiss, undoubtedly one of the most important figures in British science fiction, has died. It is reported that he died in his sleep after celebrations to mark his 92nd birthday. In 1958 he received a Hugo Award as Best Newcomer; it proved to be the first of many awards over his long career, culminating […]

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The greatest sf authors?

by Paul

There’s a post I’ve just come across (it seems to be a year old, but you know how these things disappear and resurface on the web) that claims to list “The Greatest Sci-Fi Authors of All Time“. It’s an interesting, if largely predictable list: Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, […]

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Peter Weston

by Paul

The death has been announced of Peter Weston, who played a central role in British science fiction and fandom for decades. He was 73, and died of complications from cancer, from which he had been suffering for some time. In the 1960s, his fanzine, variously called Zenith, Zenith Speculation and Speculation, was the venue for […]

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How to Build Your SF Reference Library 2, Histories

by Paul

If you want to build up a reference library on science fiction, the first thing you need is context. In other words, there are certain very basic things you need to be able to find out. When did A happen? Did B occur before C, or after it? How does D relate to E? What […]

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10 Essential SF Works from the 1980s

by Paul

Our peripatetic history of science fiction brings us to one of the more momentous decades in the history of the genre. The 1970s had been a decade in which no more than a handful of great writers emerged. The effects of the new wave slowly ran down, and the most important event in the history […]

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