Vector 287: Best of 2017

Coming soon to BSFA members!


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Cover image: Larissa Sansour  from ‘In the Future, They Ate from the Finest Porcelain’


Inside Vector 287:

An interview with Larissa Sansour by Polina Levontin and Jo Lindsay Walton, plus a review of Larissa Sansour’s work.

TV in 2017 by Molly Cobb and So Mayer.

Film in 2017 by Nick Lowe, Andrew Wallace, Dilman Dila, Cheryl Morgan, Ali Baker, Paul March-Russell, Amy C. Chambers, Lyle Skains, Gary Couzens, and Dev Agarwal. 

Ricardo Suazo reflects on SF inspired trends in fashion, and Martin McGrath takes a close look at three panels from Avengers #8.

Games and AR are covered by Erin Horáková, Susan Gray, and Jo Garrard.

With also have an extensive section on audio and podcasts in 2017 with Peter Morrison, Erin Roberts, Laura Pearlman, Victoria Hooper and Tony Jones.

And of course three Recurrent columns with Paul Kincaid, Andy Sawyer and Stephen Baxter, plus the Torque Control editorial by Jo Lindsay Walton.

This one’s a bumper issue — 80 pages! If you’re not a BSFA member yet, why not sign up now?

Call for poems

 The call opens on 19th February and ends on 1st April 2018.

Poets are invited to send in up to 3 poems about the future, to be considered for an anthology launching in January 2019. The anthology will be edited by Suzannah Evans and Tom Sastry.

The guidelines explain: ‘A future poem could be a warning, a protest, a promise of salvation or a prediction of the end of the world. It could be a short history of everything or a snapshot from the 25th century kitchen sink.’

Suzannah Evans, editor, says: ‘I’d like to read poems that are: inventive, paranoid, animatronic, intergalactic, revolutionary and empathetic. There’s definitely room for darkness. I’ve got a lot of time for poems that seem silly but are deadly serious, and vice versa, and a special respect for poems which manage to be both at once.’

Tom Sastry, editor, adds: ‘I’m excited to read poems about imaginary catastrophes, dystopian nightmares and the glimpse our strangest fears give us into our craziest selves. I hope the call will attract funny poems, mythic poems, loud and quiet poems and poems in which ridiculous fears have real consequences.’

The submissions guidelines are available on the publisher’s website:

Head of Zeus and World SF

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Team Zeus at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki. From left to right: Stanley Chen Qiufan, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Nicolas Cheetham, Baoshu, Liu Cixin and Ken Liu.

Head of Zeus is an independent publishing house, based in London. It started publishing in 2012 and won Independent Publisher of the Year in 2017.

In the essay ‘Journey to the West’ published in SFMagazine [click on the link to download the issue] Head Of Zeus publisher Nicolas Cheetham points out that Chinese genre fiction arrived on Western markets only in the last couple of years – it was not until 2015 that a Hugo award was won by a work that has been translated from the Chinese (or any other language). At the same time, he asserts that SF is the most universal of the literary genres, quoting Liu Cixin:

SF is the most global, the most universal storytelling vessel, with the capability to be understood by all cultures. SF novels are concerned with problems faced by all of humanity. Crises in SF usually threaten humanity as a whole. It is a unique and treasurable trait inherent in the genre – that the human race is perceived as a single entity, undivided.

Why then is genre fiction lagging behind literary fiction in achieving a globalised presence? In tracing the history of Weltliteratur, n+1 contends that ‘certain texts have always circulated among geographically broad but socioeconomically thin strata’. Is a taste for globalism something that is more characteristic of the literary fiction readership rather than those who read genre fiction? Although genre boundaries between literary fiction and SF have become more permeable and fuzzier than in the past, is SF fandom demographically different from the consumers of literary fiction, or at the very least, less globalised?

Nicolas Cheetham mentions several pre-conditions for Chinese SF entrance to the West: an emergence of local fandom, revival of local critical SF journals, and the establishment of a financially successful local publishing industry. All of these of course did not emerge independently from the economic growth in China, a society that in recent decades started investing heavily in science and technology research, transforming itself into a world leader in tackling global crises such as a climate change. Looking to other global regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, would the same pre-conditions apply? Namely, would the local fandom, criticism traditions and publishing houses need to reach a critical mass before we can expect to read a greater offering of African SF in the West, in translation or otherwise? Recently established organisations such as the African Speculative Fiction Society, as well as a myriad of new journals that publish African SF and criticism, such as Omenana, BrittlePaper, Chimurenga, Saraba and Jalada, augurs well for African SF. Hopefully, pioneering publishers like the Head Of Zeus will be bringing more of World SF to UK markets – Nicholas Cheetham is certainly interested in science fiction writers from various countries in Africa. Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and SA are among the most prolific in terms of SF, for more information see Geoff Ryman’s brilliant series of interviews with 100 African writers of science fiction and fantasy.

But who should define the global limits of the genre, especially when the power to impose a definition is centred in the Global North? The definition of the sf genre varies across time and cultures; various writers (e.g. Dilman Dilla, Nisi Shawl, Nnedi Okorafor) report contesting the definition of SF with the Western publishing and film industry whenever spirits or other traditional beliefs are in the fabric of the narrative.

In the Head Of Zeus SFMagazine, Nicolas Cheetham raises an important question ‘What is Chinese SF?’  and shows the pitfalls of essentialising – how does a publisher balance the reader’s expectations of ‘pleasingly exotic colour’ with the needs of the writers to be free from having to ‘perform otherness’ in order to get a publishing deal in the West?

Readers in the West are limited (as far as having access to a wider range of voices) by the lack of diversity within the publishing industry, editors and critics, and creative writing programs.  This problem is particularly urgent in SF, since the genre is concerned with the imaginaries of humanity’s future. Missing African writers is an especially regrettable situation since the future of humanity depends very much on what will happen on the continent which is projected to contain 40% of the global population by 2100.

For a broader discussion of World sf, visit the World SF Blog.

Virtual Futures: Near-Future Fictions Vol. 5 ‘Virtual Persons’


Near-Future Fictions Vol. 5 ‘Virtual Persons’ will take place on March 20, 2018, at The LIBRARY London. You can register here

By Stephen Oram

The digital world is a personality playground that offers us an unprecedented ability to curate and create a public persona — but what does this ability mean for the future of personhood? As the digital world expands around us and the Internet of Things combines the physical and virtual do we have a moral obligation to represent ourselves with truth and integrity in the digital realm, or should we view it as an opportunity to explore new and radical ontologies?

Join us for an evening that incorporates original reading, performance and live art as Virtual Futures continues its mission to reassert the significance of science fiction as a tool for navigating the increasing technologization of society and culture.

Keynote Presentation by Laurie Penny, Writer

Laurie Penny is an award-winning journalist, essayist, public speaker, writer, activist, internet nanocelebrity and author of six books, including Unspeakable Things (Bloomsbury 2014), Everything Belongs To The Future (Tor, 2016) and Bitch Doctrine (Bloomsbury, 2017). Laurie writes essays, columns, features and gonzo journalism about politics, social justice, pop culture, feminism, technology and mental health. When she gets time, she also writes creepy political science fiction.

Authors & Contributors

  • A C Tyger: “Aldebaran”
  • Anne McKinnon: “Memory Inc.”
  • Britta Schulte: “iDentity”
  • C R Dudley: “The Test”
  • Jamie Watt: “Conjugal Frape”
  • Jane Norris: “Beautiful Mirror Being”
  • Marc Böhlen: “With a robot on the last day”
  • Sophie Sparham: “Concrete Genocide”
  • Stephen Oram: “From Dust to Digital and Back”


Britta Schulte is a PhD student by day and a science-fiction writer at night. She thinks about the technologies we have, those we are likely to get and those we might not want. She publishes on as well as in zines online and in print.

Stephen Oram writes science fiction. He’s been a hippie-punk, religious-squatter and a bureaucrat-anarchist; he thrives on contradictions. He has two published novels, Quantum Confessions and Fluence and is in several anthologies. His recent collection, Eating Robots and Other Stories, was described by the Morning Star as one of the top radical works of fiction in 2017.


Virtual Futures’ Near-Future Fictions was born after a salon event sometime in early 2017. Although Virtual Futures has embraced science-fiction since its inception, with Pat Cadigan, Alan Moore, Gwyneth Jones, Hari Kunzru and most recently Geoff Ryman all having graced its stage in its near-twenty-five years of existence, this represents the first time that fiction has been the central focus.

The inspiration came from a desire to provide a creative counterbalance to the theoretical and technical discussions of Virtual Futures’ salon events. Our first movement toward this creative fusion was inviting Stephen Oram to be our Author in Residence for a year; presenting a theme-inspired story before audience questions at expert panels discussing near-future issues such as Neurostimulation or Prosthetic Envy. The synthesis was a success. Stephen’s stories grew ever more stimulating, we thought we heard whisperings of something a little larger in the audience’s applause and Stephen has since become the lead-curator of Near-Future Fictions.

The aim of these live reading events are: to assert the significance of fiction as a valid means of navigating the changes instigated by emerging technologies; to find new sci-fi talent in and outside London, with a stress on diverse authors who are atypical of the scene; and to offer science fiction fans speculation on the future in a venue that reflects the vibrancy of the authors and their stories.

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The 2018 series started in February with The (Dis)ease of the i-Mortal and will be closely followed by Virtual Persons on 20 March, Tomorrow’s Battles on 17 April and Post-Brain on 15 May.

Westworld Then and Now

By Dev Agarwal

Westworld (2017), HBO

Westworld landed on TV in 2017 and set genre cognoscenti’s tongues wagging. The consensus is that in ten episodes it has sealed its place in our current Golden Age of Television, and surpassed the original film from which it jumps off.

The current HBO-produced series had a long gestation period. It began with the original film by Michael Crichton in 1973, followed by fits and starts that may be better forgotten – the misfiring 1976 sequel Futureworld, plus a TV series, Beyond Westworld, that appeared in 1980 and was quickly cancelled – and the long haul of dormancy for the concept until 2016, when the first season of the contemporary reboot appeared. Season two is awaited this spring.

Westworld (1973) by Michael Crichton

Overall, the 1973 Westworld was more a monster chase movie than a meditation on what it means to be human – the central theme of the current re-incarnation of the story. The Westworld reboot series so far has focused on just one park, the West, largely ignoring the film’s orgiastic Romanworld and castle-based Medievalworld (albeit there have been some allusions to samurais). However, fans of the original film should find that the rebooted series remains faithful to the original concept.

In both incarnations, 70s film and modern TV series, Westworld is squarely a science fiction idea (our genre gave the film nominations for the Hugo and Nebula). It’s hard SF in that technology is central to the premise: advanced AIs engage with people as “hosts” in a theme park. But it’s certainly also soft SF, in that the drama unfolds by exploring the social implications of technological change rather than by examining how the science works. Continue reading “Westworld Then and Now”

African Speculative Fiction Society


Check out the expanded and updated website of the African Speculative Fiction Society here.

“The ASFS will provide a place where writers, readers, and scholars can come together to find information, connect with each other, and act as watchdogs for their collective interests.” 
Chinelo Onwualu, chief spokesperson, ASFS.
The African Speculative Fiction Society is an organization of African
  • Writers
  • Editors
  • Comic and graphic artists
  • Filmmakers
in the fields of speculative fiction such as fantasy, science fiction, stories that draw on traditions, horror and philosophical fiction.
Members nominate any published work for one of the four Nommo Awards.  They are given free access to many of the nominated works.  And they vote for the winners of the Nommo awards.
There is no membership fee.

BSFA 2017 Awards

The Awards will be presented at Follycon, the 69th Eastercon, which this year is taking place at The Majestic Hotel, Harrogate, from 30th March – 2nd April 2018.

Our ballot is now live! BSFA members who wish to send advance votes, can do so here. We will also have a printable ballot form available from this web page in a few days, in case you would prefer to vote by post.

The shortlisted works are:

Best Novel

  • Nina Allen – The Rift (Titan Books)
  • Anne Charnock – Dreams Before the Start of Time (47North)
  • Mohsin Hamid – Exit West (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Ann Leckie – Provenance (Orbit)

Best Shorter Fiction

  • Anne Charnock – The Enclave (NewCon Press)
  • Elaine Cuyegkeng – These Constellations Will Be Yours (Strange Horizons)
  • Greg Egan – Uncanny Valley (
  • Geoff Nelder – Angular Size (in ‘SFerics 2017’ edited by Roz Clarke and Rosie Oliver, Createspace Independent Publishing Platform)
  • Tade Thompson – The Murders of Molly Southbourne (

Best Non-Fiction

  • Paul Kincaid – Iain M. Banks (University of Illinois Press)
  • Juliet E McKenna – The Myth of Meritocracy and the Reality of the Leaky Pipe and Other Obstacles in Science Fiction & Fantasy (in ‘Gender Identity and Sexuality in Current Fantasy and Science Fiction’ edited by Francesca T Barbini, Luna Press)
  • Adam Roberts – Wells at the World’s End 2017 blog posts (Wells at the World’s End blog)
  • Shadow Clarke Award jurors – The 2017 Shadow Clarke Award blog (The Anglia Ruskin Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy). The 2017 Shadow Clarke jurors are: Nina Allen, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Victoria Hoyle, Vajra Chandrasekera, Nick Hubble, Paul Kincaid, Jonathan McCalmont, Megan AM.
  • Vandana Singh – The Unthinkability of Climate Change: Thoughts on Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement (Strange Horizons)

Best Artwork

  • Geneva Benton – Sundown Towns (cover for Fiyah Magazine #3)
  • Jim Burns – Cover for ‘The Ion Raider’ by Ian Whates (NewCon Press)
  • Galen Dara – Illustration for ‘These Constellations Will Be Yours’ by Elaine Cuyegkeng (Strange Horizons)
  • Chris Moore – Cover for ‘The Memoirist’ by Neil Williamson (NewCon Press)
  • Victo Ngai – Illustration for ‘Waiting on a Bright Moon’ by JY Yang (
  • Marcin Wolski – Cover for ‘2084’ edited by George Sandison (Unsung Stories)


How to Vote: 

Mark your choices in each category in order of preference: ‘1’ for first place, ‘2’ for second place, etc. You are not required to rank all the nominees in any category. Advance votes must be received by Monday 26th March 2017, either electronic or postal. If you intend to send votes by post instead of via the e-ballot form,  please remember to include your BSFA membership number (you will find this on the envelope of your latest mailing) and your name and address. Return your postal votes to: BSFA Awards, 9 Montgomery Road, Cambridge CB4 2EQ.

Continue reading “BSFA 2017 Awards”

Fantasy Fiction with Vic James, Anna Smith Spark & Lucy Hounsom. A SciFi Sessions conversation, hosted by Glyn Morgan at Gower Street Waterstones in London.

IMG_0283By Andrew Wallace

January’s Sci-Fi Sessions was a conversation between three very different contemporary fantasy authors. Each one has a trilogy in progress. Lucy Hounsom has just released the final book of her acclaimed Worldmaker series (Starborn, Heartland and Firestorm). Tarnished City, the second novel in Vic James’s Dark Gifts trilogy, was published last year. It follows the success of book one, Gilded Cage, as a BBC 2 Book Club Choice. Finally, Anna Smith Spark’s Court of Broken Knives, the opening volume of her Broken Empire sequence, has already been nominated for numerous awards for best fantasy novel of 2017, with second and third volumes yet to follow. Continue reading “Fantasy Fiction with Vic James, Anna Smith Spark & Lucy Hounsom. A SciFi Sessions conversation, hosted by Glyn Morgan at Gower Street Waterstones in London.”