Updates

Vector

Thanks to the assistance of yet another layout volunteer, Vector 271, the last issue of 2012, will be coming out in January 2013, along with a guest-edited version of Focus. Vector 272 should follow a month or two later, along with the BSFA Award Booklet.

BSFA Awards Nominations

The deadline for the BSFA Awards Nominations is January 13, 2013. BSFA members should nominate early and often!  Works currently nominated are available to peruse here. Don’t take for granted that if your favourite sf book, short story, work of non-fiction, or artwork is on that list that it will receive enough nominations to make the shortlists. Equally, if a work worthy of nomination isn’t on that list, consider it your personal responsibility to nominate it so that it is.

Divine Endurance: Flowerdust Edition

Gwyneth Jones has revised her first sf novel, Divine Endurance, collating it with its companion novel Flowerdust. Divine Endurance was the first novel published under her own name, in 1984. The edited pair are available and, more specifically, available for free today on Amazon.co.uk!

Elusive Vector

There are still Vectors forthcoming!  When, I am not currently certain, as our third layout volunteer has succumbed to a bad case of Life, with the current issue mostly done.

A large part of the complication is that the role currently includes image-wrangling, which is not what our layout volunteers had thought they were volunteering for. (And quite rightly, what with image-wrangling not being layout.)

Still, Martin Lewis, reviews editor, and I are continuing to work on content for future issues, so if all goes well, there may be a cluster of magazines winging their way to mailboxes soon. But I won’t count our publications before they’re printed at this point. Not even Focus, which is looking on target to go out with the first mailing of 2013, with a guest editor.

Tentacular Grapplings

This post is the first in a series here on Torque Control from Ian Whates.

***

The world of awards seems to be an ever-expanding one, with more and more accolades being presented in every field going. Genre fiction is no exception. In this country alone we have the BSFA Awards, the Clarke, the Gemmells, the British Fantasy Awards, the James White Award, and that’s not even considering global awards such as the Hugos, Nebulas, World Fantasy and Stoker awards, or those voted on by the readers of various magazines… So is there really room for another set of awards?

The Kitschies are the new kids on the block, and their organisers would argue that there certainly is. 2011’s winners were announced at a ceremony during the SFX weekender in February 2012, and, with an expanding set of categories and increasing prize money, the Kitschies are certainly hard to ignore. We asked the organisers, Anne Perry and Jared Shurin, to tell us a bit about the awards and to explain why they’re so different. In particular, they’ve focussed on the Golden Tentacle, awarded for best debut novel.

As a follow-up to this, we’ll be taking a look at each of the novels shortlisted for the Golden Tentacle over the next few months, to get an idea of what makes the Kitschies tick.

“The Kitschies’ shortlists are selected based on strict criteria: progressive, intelligent and entertaining books with elements of the speculative or fantastic. Within those terms, we try to err on the side of inclusivity, and allow each year’s judges the freedom to bring in their own perspective.

Although debut novels are judged by the same criteria (progressive, intelligent, entertaining), they’re a separate category for several reasons. The first is for the authors. There’s something warm and cuddly about discovery. We get to encourage new talent, authors who may not already have an existing audience or support structure. Bringing new books to readers’ attention: that’s the best thing that any award can do.

The second is for the books. This oversimplifies things terribly, but there are different expectations of a debut novel. These are new voices; writers who are challenging their categories in order to wedge their way onto crowded shelves. New authors have to work even harder to get readers’ attention – they need to be brasher, louder, more aggressive. The resulting books are often more raw: shoutier, less polished but, in many cases, also more daring.

The third is for the judges. This is the fun category. Everything is new; the expectations are different. With a debut novel, there are no middle volumes in long series; less predisposition, hype and (hopefully) scandal. In our oversaturated marketing environment, reading a debut is as close as we can get to judging in a vacuum. There’s just the text itself, and whatever surprises it may hold.

The 2011 finalists were an exceptionally diverse group containing (if you’ll pardon the labels): space opera, paranormal romance, epic fantasy, YA and splatterpunk horror. Of course, none of them fit neatly within the boundaries, and if there’s one thing that unites all five titles, it is the fact that they aggressively challenge readers’ assumptions. Several of these titles have gone on to be nominated for – and win – other awards, while others have crept along more quietly.

The Kitschies’ mission is not to dictate taste, but to encourage discussion. For that very reason (and others), we’re grateful to the BSFA for setting up this series. Whether or not you agree with our panel’s selections (and we expect that not everyone will), we hope you enjoy the conversation.” – Anne and Jared.

Trees in the forest

Trees have been falling in the BSFA’s metaphorical forest, but I haven’t had the capacity this summer to keep Torque Control updated to tell you about them; so I am particularly grateful to Tony Keen who has been doing so.
As BSFA members will know, the summer Vector didn’t happen; life intervened in a variety of ways which collectively waylaid the issue for both me and those involved in laying out the issue. I’m delighted, therefore, that the London & SF issue of Vector is due to come out in October, at long last, in the BSFA’s fourth mailing of the year. I already have much of the material in-hand for January’s issue as well, for that matter.

My much more finite-than-usual time in particular was the result of having offspring. Little Grouting-in-the-Fields (as we’re calling her online) has been inadvertently teaching me a great deal about time management: nap whenever possible time comes in small, valuable units, and without prioritization and seizing those moments, I won’t get anything done. I never quite appreciated that routine, generic advice to the degree I have recently. Vector won out over Torque Control. I couldn’t previously have told you they were even in contention with each other.

Ian Whates has generously arranged for a series of posts to be hosted here, beginning with one on the Kitchies.  I’ll be posting them, and, if necessary, passing on comments back to him. If I’m really organised, I’ll be posting more regularly in my own right too.

BSFA/SFF Mini-Convention and AGMs

Tomorrow is the BSFA/SFF Mini-Convention and AGMs with Guests of Honour Marek Kukula and Aliette de Bodard.

The venue is the Royal Astronomical Society at Burlington House on Piccadilly in Central London, halfway between Piccadilly Circus and Green Park stations. It’s the first door on the left once you’ve entered the courtyard.

Hopefully many of you will be able to be there.

Here’s the schedule:

10:00 am Welcome (SFF)
10:05 am Marek Kukula Talk
10:55 – 11:05 Break
11:05 am Aliette de Bodard interview with Edward James
12 pm – 12:45 SFF AGM
12:45 pm – 1: 45 pm Lunch
1:45 pm – 2:30 pm BSFA AGM
2:30 pm – Astronomy Q&A with Marek Kukula
3:25 – 3:35 – Break
3:35 pm – SF & Colonialism panel with Aliette de Bodard, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Lavie Tidhar, and Sophia McDougall (moderator)
4:30 Concluding Remarks (BSFA)

Food and Drink – with the exception of water – is not allowed on site. There are many nearby cafés, drink and snack shops, restaurants and pubs.

The designated pub for the day is the King’s Head, located approximately behind the Royal Astronomical Society, at 10 Stafford Street, W1S 4RX.

Imagining London

I apologise for recent silence around here. On top of various bits of Life, I was thrown by the resignation of Martin McGrath.

If anyone could have been said to have been doing too much for the BSFA, it was he, inasmuch as he was single-handedly dealing with a good half of the organisation’s day-to-day business, from editing Focus, to storing any extra publication copies, to mailing out new member’s packs, to doing all design and layout for all of the BSFA’s publications and liaising with the printer. (And that’s not all.)  It’s far more than any one person should need to do for one organisation, and it’ll take at least three new committee members to replace him!

Insofar as Vector is concerned, his resignation meant that the publication schedule for the next issue (due out in June or early July) was put in doubt, as at least some of its contributors are aware.

The good news is that we now have a volunteer, as a one-off, to do layout for this next issue of Vector: so this issue definitely happening, and on schedule too at this rate! And I’m excited about the contents – this issue has articles from an exciting group of contributors! (To whom I still owe many edits – coming soon, now that the issue is back on track!) (This is no guarantee that the following issue of Vector will be coming out on time, however. That depends on one or more additional, as yet not-found, volunteers.)

However, as a caveat, it’s up to me, as features editor, and any other willing volunteers, to track down, volunteer, and recruit any and all images to be used in this issue, from the cover art to all the interiors. Without imagery, the issue can still go ahead – but it will look notably image-free!

The theme of this forthcoming issue is “London & SF”, as proposed by James Bacon, as a tie-in to the London in 2014 Worldcon bid.

The cover art will be in full colour, but otherwise, reproductions will be in black and white.  Do you have drawings, photographs, and paintings you’ve made yourself and can grant permission for their use in this one issue of Vector, whether in print or PDF?  Suggestions of artists who might be willing to contribute to this issue? Ideas of other legal and appropriate ways to illustrate this issue?

Can you help?

Guess-the-Arthur-C-Clarke-Award-Shortlist Contest Winner

At long, long last, SCI-FI London begins today, the winner of the Arthur C Clarke Award will be announced on Wednesday, and we have a winner for the Guess-the-Clarke Shortlist contest!

Thanks to the generosity of the Clarke Award, the winner will receive a copy of every book on the shortlist.

Three entries, submitted by Nicholas Whyte, Duncan Lawie, and Kenny Lucius, tied for first place, with four correct guesses each. For comparative purposes, I note that all three correctly guessed Embassytown and Rule 34.

Contest judge Tom Hunter has drawn the winning name from the hat… and the winner is Duncan Lawie!

April BSFA London Meeting: Sharyn November interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn

On Wednesday 25th April 2012, Sharyn November (Senior Editor for Viking Children’s Books and Editorial Director of Firebird Books, visiting thanks to this last weekend’s Diana Wynne Jones memorial) will be interviewed by Professor Farah Mendlesohn (Academic, critic and editor).

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (No entry fee or tickets. Non-members welcome.)

The discussion will commence at 7.00 pm, but the room is open from 6.00 (and fans in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Location: Cellar Bar, The Melton Mowbray Public House. 18 Holborn, London EC1N 2LE . Map is here. Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane (Central line)

FUTURE EVENTS:
23rd May* – CJ LINES interviewed by Tony Keen
27th June – TANITH LEE interviewed by Nadia van der Westhuizen
25th July 2012 – Roz Kaveney (interviewer TBC)

* Note that this is a month with five Wednesdays. The meeting will be on the fourth, not the last, Wednesday of the month

New Reflections

If you enjoyed the excerpt from the interview with Diana Wynne Jones which appeared in Vector #268, then you may be interested to know that the volume in which the full interview appears, Reflections, will be published in the next few weeks from David Fickling Books.

Early copies may be available this weekend at the celebration of DWJ’s life and works being held this Sunday, 22 April at 2pm, at St. George’s in Brandon Hill, Bristol. Details of how to get to the venue are available here.

BSFA Awards Winners

Congratulations to all those who won the BSFA Awards for work produced in 2011!

Best Non-Fiction: The SF Encyclopedia, third edition (beta), edited by John Clute, Peter Nicholls, David Langford and Graham Sleight.
Best Artwork: Cover of Ian Whates’s The Noise Revealed by Dominic Harman (Solaris)
Best Short Fiction: “The Copenhagen Interpretation” by Paul Cornell (Asimov’s, July)
Best Novel published in Britain: The Islanders by Christopher Priest (Gollancz)

At Eastercon, as well as four other conventions held that same weekend, the Hugo shortlists were announced. The BSFA Award winners for best non-fiction and best short fiction both made that ballot, so their fans will have another opportunity to vote for them, should they wish!

Gollancz did extremely well this year, since they host/publish The SF Encyclopedia as well as The Islanders.

P.S. Please see the BSFA’s apology for the way the awards ceremony worked out.