On the final day of this year’s Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles, fifteen women stepped on to the main stage for a monster of a panel titled “Gallifrey Waits No More.” […] What occurred over the next hour was an experience that was simultaneously harrowing and cathartic as a #MeToo moment unfolded on stage.
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:
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 (Tor.com)
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 (Tor.com)
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)
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 (Tor.com)
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.
In late December 2017, a group of writers and scholars of SF, scientists and technologists, and defence analysts and policymakers, gathered at Dstl (UK government’s defence science and technology laboratory) in Salisbury to explore science fiction’s contribution to defence policy. Vector caught up with Dr Ping Zheng from Canterbury Christ Church University Business School, to ask her about her impressions of the day, and a few other things …
During the first breakout session, you were in the Human Behaviour in Smart Environments group. How did that go?
We had some inspiring discussions about how humans may react in smart environments. I think the group dynamics probably extended the scope of planned discussions, and allowed us to engage in more diversified discourse, ranging from individual perspectives, to emergent impacts at a societal level, and also to policy perspectives. For example, two prominent issues were debated: national and cultural differences, and ethical concerns such as privacy.
Perhaps the value of events like these is that you might discover that your original questions can be re-framed, or that your stakeholders are not precisely who you imagined them to be. Your other breakout session was ‘Defence (In)efficiency: What Does the Future Hold?’?
In other exciting fluid-related news, scientists have made a fluid with negative mass. In the face of our growing global water crisis, maybe this development doesn’t feel quite so relevant as the other two … but then, the usefulness of inventions can be hard to judge at first. Story prompt, writers?
The New York Times is not a place where one expects to find encounters between the Navy and UFOs. Then again, the NYT in 2017 has felt like a distinctly genre venue, as the reality around us grows far-fetched and more than a little dystopian. So it has been worth the extra effort to look for technoscience news which seemed less likely to transform our world in drastic and unpredictable ways (as AI or CRISPR), and more likely to offer tangible and specific benefits, like eyesight for the blind.
Although some writers could surely imagine a downside to artificial eye retinas, many have already questioned science’s quest to prolong life or enable reproduction without women, or bodies for that matter. Wait, so we’ve had nearly 50 years to figure out the ethics — Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution was advocating cyberwombs in 1970 — and we still don’t know?
In 2017, the world got more of its energy from renewables and technology continues to improve. Fast enough? The outlook for climate change in 2017 was not especially comforting. What humanity learned to speed up in 2017 is evolution. Gene drives could increase the rate at which genes spread in ways that could be beneficial. Worth the risks?
If we get it all wrong, it may come as a consolation that at least Earth is not the only habitable planet. In 2017, NASA identified hundreds of planets similar to Earth. Does this make Earth less precious? Not if we love it. Most scientists do. Many strive to help here and now, such as buying time for corals so they can adjust to climate change rather than die off, taking down entire ecosystems with them.
Other scientists conduct research on different dimensional scales. 2017 saw an end to the Cassini mission, which plunged to Saturn in order to avoid contaminating its moons (that Cassini revealed so much about). And the year’s most abstractly beautiful piece of new knowledge has been the discovery of gravitational waves – ripples through spacetime – predicted by Einstein’s theory. What caused these ripples on the spacetime surface that we learned to observe? A kilonova — a collision of two neutron stars… But could we process this new knowledge if our imaginations had not been prepared for it by, say, Samuel Delany?
Three photographs have been shortlisted for 2017’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, hosted by the National Portrait Gallery in London. But there is something out of the ordinary about one of this year’s contenders for the prize. One of the portraits – by the Finnish artist Maija Tammi – is not of a human, but a female android.
The android in the photograph is Erica, described by her creator, Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, as “the most beautiful and intelligent” robot in the world. The hardware beneath her silicone skin helps her achieve facial and mouth movements, but these can be rather unnatural, out of sync with her synthesised voice. She is cognitively sophisticated, though still unable to work out answers to complex questions from first principles, and she cannot move her arms and legs.
If this seems like something out of science fiction, you’re not far off. One of Ishiguro’s first female robots was named Repliee Q1 and he himself has said that the name derives from the French for “replicate” and from the “replicants” in Blade Runner: science fiction and robotics have always been entwined. Indeed, in a documentary made by the Guardian about Erica, Ishiguro reveals that he wanted to be an oil painter and insists on the similarities between his work and artistic creation.
It is difficult not to see here a masculine Pygmalionesque desire to create the perfect artificial woman. “Ishiguro-sensei is my father and he understands me entirely,” Erica pronounces in the documentary. Her vaunted autonomy seems more like a projection on the part on the roboticists who programme her thoughts, but also occasionally anthropomorphise her: the scientist who introduces himself as Erica’s “architect” also thinks that she is “really excited to interact with people”.
The race is on to bring a jetpack to market. New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft has a jetpack which is due to go on sale this year and US-based JetPack Aviation is working on a more streamlined offering. So aviation junkies with the cash to spare will soon be able to get their hands on what has long been the preserve of science fiction.
The essay ends with an allusion to Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus, every Marxist’s favourite angel thanks to Walter Benjamin, but in this context dismisses it in favour of an angel every bit as cool from Albrecht Durer’s Melencolia 1 – she is soooooooo bored and really pissed off and her dog is kinda funny looking.
Since 1953, the Hugo Awards have been one of science fiction’s most prestigious honours – past winners include Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clark and Ursula Le Guin. The 2016 results were recently announced, and women and diversity were the clear winners.
However, if you saw the list of titles in contention for the awards, you’d have noticed some oddities, such as Chuck Tingle’s Space Raptor Butt Invasion and My Little Pony’s The Cutie Map. That’s because the awards – nominated and voted on by science fiction writers and readers – have been targeted by two major voting blocs: the Sad Puppies, who started their campaign in 2013, and the Rabid Puppies, who appeared the year after and have been growing stronger ever since.
The Sad Puppies wanted more traditional, mainstream popular science fiction on the ballot. The more extreme Rabid Puppies, who have ties with the Gamergate movement, were about creating chaos. So their bloc included ridiculous-sounding works: both to mock the awards and stack the ballot to prevent more diverse books being nominated.
Both groups’ gripe is with contemporary trends in science fiction toward more literary works with progressive themes. Vox Day, leader of the Rabid Puppies, complains that “publishers have been trying to pass off romance in space and left-wing diversity lectures as science fiction”. Last year’s leader of the Sad Puppies, Brad R. Torgersen, likewise complains about “soft science majors (lit and humanities degrees) using SF/F as a tool to critically examine and vivisect 21st century Western society”. The Hugos, he says, are being used as an “affirmative action award”.
A significant number of those “soft science majors” writing “left-wing diversity lectures” are, of course, women. Female authors have dominated science fiction awards of late.
This year, women (and people of colour) did very well at the awards. Ironically, the Puppies’ activities have now galvanised more progressive members of the World Science Fiction Society to use their voting rights. The best novel was The Fifth Season, a tale of a planet experiencing apocalyptic climate change, written by NK Jemisin – a black, female writer. Best novella was Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. The best short story, Cat Pictures Please, was written by Naomi Kritzer and both best editor gongs went to women.
But the ongoing saga of the Puppies and their attempts to derail the Hugos exemplifies broader conflicts within the realm of science fiction – an enormously popular, lucrative and controversial genre that has major issues with women.