A forgotten feminist dystopia…

Rose Macaulay’s What Not, which features a sinister Ministry of Brains, is little known, but there are claims it influenced both Aldous Huxley and George Orwell

A forgotten feminist dystopian novel, a story of eugenics and newspaper manipulation that is believed to have influenced Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four, is coming back into print for the first time in a century, complete with pages that were suppressed in 1918.

Rose Macaulay’s What Not was first published 100 years ago, but swiftly withdrawn over potentially libellous passages. Once it was reissued in 1919, it had “lost its momentum” and has been out of print ever since, according to independent publisher Handheld Press, which will republish the novel in March 2019.

— Alison Flood, from “What Not: lost feminist nnovel that anticipated Brave new World finally finds its time” Dec 10th, in The Guardian


The BBC’s Backlog Of Doctor Who Screenplays

Did you know that the BBC shares a lot of their teleplays online? Including a lot featuring our favourite Doctor.

I didn’t until today (thanks for the information, Bleeding Cool), but it turns out the BBC Writer’s Room website features an extensive backlog of screenplays for BBC shows. Their latest post is the first episode of this past season of Doctor Who, featuring the debut of Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor.

There are a lot of goodies here, actually, from some older Doctor Who’s to Sherlock to Luther. For fans of the BBC’s approach to genre television, this is a goldmine. And for students of screenwriting, resources like this are always an incredible find.

So, pull up a chair, settle in, and spend the evening reading some screenplays. It’ll be relaxing.

Julie Muncy, gizmodo.com.au

Michelle Yeoh ST spin-off

File770 reports

CBS All Access has officially tapped Yeoh to captain a Star Trek series of her own: a black ops-themed spinoff of Discovery in which the actress will reprise her role and explore the next chapter in the life of Capt. Philippa Georgiou. The untitled drama will further explore Starfleet’s Section 31 division, a shadow organization within the Federation featured on Star Trek: Discovery.

2019 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees

2019 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced — January 12, 2019

The judges of the 2018 Philip K. Dick Award and the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, along with the Philip K. Dick Trust, are pleased to announce the six nominated works that comprise the final ballot for the award:

  • TIME WAS by Ian McDonald (Tor.com)
  • THE BODY LIBRARY by Jeff Noon (Angry Robot)
  • 84K by Claire North (Orbit)
  • ALIEN VIRUS LOVE DISASTER: STORIES by Abbey Mei Otis (Small Beer Press)
  • THEORY OF BASTARDS by Audrey Schulman (Europa Editions)
  • AMBIGUITY MACHINES AND OTHER STORIES by Vandana Singh (Small Beer Press)

First prize and any special citations will be announced on Friday, April 19, 2019 at Norwescon 42 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport, SeaTac, Washington.

The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States during the previous calendar year.
The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust and the award ceremony is sponsored by the Northwest Science Fiction Society.

The 2018 judges are Madeline Ashby, Brian Attebery, Christopher Brown, Rosemary Edghill, and Jason Hough (chair).

Crit mass resumes Feb 6th

One of the bedrocks of the sf magazines was the short story. At the february meeting (7pm Wed feb 6th, at Kappys, 22 Compton St, Adelaide) we’re going to discuss some recent short stories published by tor.com on their website.

We invite you to read (at least) two of the following, and come prepared to talk about them.

These include stories by Australian authors, new authors and old favourites:

fiction on tor.com

Tor regularly publishes short fiction on their tor.com website.
Here are some recent entries of interest…

  • The Last Voyage of Skidbladnir / 
    Life on the transdimensional ship Skidbladnir is a strange one. The new janitor, Saga, finds herself in the company of an officious steward-bird, a surly and mysterious engineer, and the shadowy Captain.
  • The Word of Flesh and Soul / 
    Fantasy || The language of the originators defines reality, every word warping the world to fit its meaning…
  • Bread and Milk and Salt / 
  • Fitting In /  
  • AI and the Trolley Problem / 
  • Nine Last Days on Planet Earth / 
    Science Fiction ||  When the seeds rained down from deep space, it may have been the first stage of an alien invasion—or something else entirely.
  • Triquetra / 
    Dark Fantasy, Fairy Tales and Folklore || After marrying the prince and having her own child, Snow White visits her stepmother—promising to kill her in ever more horrible ways, at the same time attempting to stay away from the mirror that started it all.

Summer break

Critical Mass traditionally takes a break over summer. Our last meeting this year is the traditional dinner gathering, to be held this year on Sat,  December 8th.
If you’re interested in coming along, contact Roman (websmith @ internode.on.net) to get the details and give us accurate numbers for the restaurant booking.

We’ll return to our regular monthly meetings at Kappy’s on the first Wed of the month on February 6th, 2019.

World States in SF?

How stable would a World State be, in practice? Sure, one could argue (and people have) that without external enemies there’s no particular reason for a world-spanning government to fall apart. That was the argument in A World Out of Time: the state controlled all the apparatus necessary to sustain Earth’s vast population, making rebellion suicidal.

The problem is that one can point to historic polities that managed to dissolve into independent regions without much help from the outside. Gran Columbia lasted twelve years. The West Indies Federation lasted about four years. The United Arab Republic lasted three. All that’s needed is for the divisions driving people apart to be slightly greater than the ones binding them together.

Indeed, peace might exacerbate internal divisions, since there is no common enemy against which to unite. Canada might have escaped the West Indies Federation’s fate only because of the perception that a moment’s inattention would allow our hegemonic neighbour to invade (again), burn our cities (again), commit affronts against our Catholic population (again ) and leave the letter “u” out of some words for some reason (still).

— from “World States and Mega Empires in SF” by James Davis Nicoll
at Tor.com See the full article for examples of large empires on Eaeth and how long they survived…

how spec fic gained respectability

A broad church

Perhaps what counts as speculative fiction is also changing. The term is certainly not new; it was first used in an 1889 review, but came into more common usage after genre author Robert Heinlein’s 1947 essay On the Writing of Speculative Fiction.

Whereas science fiction generally engages with technological developments and their potential consequences, speculative fiction is a far broader, vaguer term. It can be seen as an offshoot of the popular science-fiction genre, or a more neutral umbrella category that simply describes all non-realist forms, including fantasy and fairytales – from the epic of Gilgamesh through to The Handmaid’s Tale.

Read more: Guide to the classics: the Epic of Gilgamesh

While critic James Wood argues that “everything flows from the real … it is realism that allows surrealism, magic realism, fantasy, dream and so on”, others, such as author Doris Lessing, believe that everything flows from the fantastic; that all fiction has always been speculative. I am not as interested in which came first (or which has more cultural, or commercial, value) as I am in the fact that speculative fiction – “spec-fic” – seems to be gaining literary respectability. (Next step, surely, mainstream popularity! After all, millions of moviegoers and television viewers have binge-watched the rise of fantastic forms, and audiences are well versed in unreal onscreen worlds.)

One reason for this new interest in an old but evolving form has been well articulated by author and critic James Bradley: climate change. Writers, and publishers, are embracing speculative fiction as an apt form to interrogate what it means to be human, to be humane, in the current climate – and to engage with ideas of posthumanism too.

These are the sorts of existential questions that have historically driven realist literature.

— excerpt from Rose Michael’s essay “How Speculative Fiction Gained Literary Respectability” in The Conversation Nov 2nd