On Stanislaw Lem

His impact on science fiction is undeniable – not only because of what Lem wrote and predicted (e-paper, for example), but also due to how he wrote it. His prose is very precise, carefully planned, seemingly concise and distant, only to reveal at a second glance an incredible depth of emotions, breathtaking imagination, painful questions and even more harrowing answers about human nature and the Universe. It’s paradoxical, at times absurdly funny, at times depressing, almost always unsettingly convincing. And in many cases, it’s just utterly brilliant. I won’t hesitate to put many of his novels among the best of the best in sf, ever. Mulling over Lem’s more difficult novels takes as much time – or more – as reading them; and they stay with the reader for a long time afterwards. But Lem also wrote wonderfully funny, witty satires, little morality plays dressed up as fables, hilarious accounts of interstellar travelers, and twisted crime novels with no perpetrators. During his later years he turned toward philosophical essays, analyzing the significance of nanotechnology, AI, and virtual reality – but his most influential, and the best in my opinion, are his science fiction novels.

— Ola G, “On Stanislaw Lem”, Re-enchantment Of The World

Crit Mass, Aug 19th: Kraken good reads

In August Kate Treloar will look at the Kraken – the myth, the reality it’s based on, and key inclusions in literature and popular culture.
Krakens are giant squid sea monsters from the ocean’s depths, capable of destroying ships and hurling hapless sailors to watery deaths. Seemingly based on real creatures, the line between reality, myth and imagination easily blurs, providing a fascinating topic to explore.
Before the Kraken catchup, you may be interested in delving into a selection from this list:
NOVELS

  • Kraken by China Mieville (2010)
  • The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham (1953)

SHORT STORY

“Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival . . . a survival of a hugely remote period when . . . consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in shapes and forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity . . . forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds. . . .”
—Algernon Blackwood.

MOVIES

  • Clash of the Titans (1981, 2010)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

MOVIE SCENE

POETRY
“The Kraken” (1830) – Victorian Web
Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
“The Kraken”, Poems, Chiefly Lyrical by Alfred Tennyson

Further suggestions welcome!!

Crit Mass, July 15th: Octothorpe, Plokta! and Guff

Our special guest for the July Critical mass meeting is this year’s GUFF winner, Alison Scott. Undaunted by the COVID-19 lockdown, she is planning a virtual GUFF trip through Australia, culminating in Wellington for CoNZealand, this year’s worldcon.

As part of the Plokta cabal, Alison was involved in producing this award-winning fanzine. (See https://www.plokta.com/plokta/index.html for copies.)


She’s been involved in organising conventions, and was slated to appear as GoH at this year’s Eastercon. Undaunted by the lockdown, she still held her fannish room party — online!


Her fondness for the Traditional London First Thursday Pub nights prompted her to create an online equivalent via zoom rooms.

And then just to top it all, she’s recently launched a podcast, Octothorpe,
with John Coxon and Liz Batty.


This Critical Mass will be in three parts, each of 40 minutes duration.
Part One: A chat with Alison Scott
Jul 15, 2020 7:00pm – 7:40pm Adelaide (7:30 Melbourne)
<10 min tea break>
Part Two: More chatting + Q&A, initial discussion about the novellae
Jul 15, 2020 07:50 — 8:30pm Adelaide (8:20 Melbourne time)
<10 min wine break>
Part Three: Picking the Hugo winner & general chat
Jul 15, 2020 08:40 — 9:20pm Adelaide (9:10 Melbourne time)

Zoom meeting details:
Meeting ID: 768 9343 2810
Password: 2LYCvH
Note you will need version 5 of the zoom app!

We will be discussing the last two of the Hugo nominated novellae:

  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager; Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Deep, by Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga Press/Gallery)

Nova Mob 1st July

The speaker this coming Wednesday is Eugen Bacon on Afrofuturism, Speculative Fiction, genre boundaries and interfaces. 
Eugen is preparing for three events on African speculative fiction at the ConZealand Worldcon, was a speaker at the June 2020 Emerging Writers’ Festival, is Aurealis Reviews Editor, is active on sfnal matters on Twitter, and in May 2020 saw publication of the book Hadithi and the State of Black Speculative Fiction as well as an article on AfroSF in the BSFA journal Vector. Her goodreads page is an .. erm.. good read.
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3147403.Eugen_Bacon
https://twitter.com/eugenbacon?lang=en
https://emergingwritersfestival.org.au/writer/eugen-bacon/
https://twitter.com/BSFA/status/1264617300847624193

Nova Mob will be by way of a Zoom meeting.
Here are the login details and password.

Topic: Nova Mob 1 July
8.00pm – Eugen Bacon on Afrofuturism and Speculative Fiction
Zoom open from 07:45 PM, Start time 8.00pm Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney
Note: all times half an hour earlier for Adelaide, so meeting open from 7:15, start 7:30pm

8.00pm Notices, apologies, and similar
8.10pm or so – Eugen Bacon 
9.00pm or so – completion, questions, discussion
9.45pm Zoom meeting shuts down

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4177583193?pwd=VjdPL1BhSTBNclN2YnRsejN3Y1hlUT09

Meeting ID: 417 758 3193
Password: nova

Reminder: Zoom works well on Chrome and most other browsers but not on PaleMoon. 

Further reminder: please share this invitation with friends who will be interested. A special shout-out for Critical Mass in Adelaide. {thanks, Murray!}

Eugen Bacon, MA, MSc, PhD, is a computer scientist mentally re-engineered into creative writing.
Her stories have won, been shortlisted and commended in international awards, including the Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award, Nommo Award for Africans and Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Awards.
Her creative work has appeared in literary and speculative fiction publications worldwide, including Award Winning Australian Writing, British Science Fiction Association’s Vector Magazine, AntipodeanSF, Andromeda, Aurealis, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Meniscus, TEXT, The Victorian Writer, Unsung Stories, the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild and through Routledge in New Writing.
Publications: Claiming T-Mo (Meerkat Press). 
Writing Speculative Fiction (Red Globe Press).
In 2020: Her Bitch Dress (Ginninderra Press); 
The Road to Woop Woop & Other Stories (Meerkat Press);
Hadithi (Luna Press Publishing); 
Inside the Dreaming (NewCon Press). 

Locus Awards

Locus Magazine has announced the winners of its 2020 Awards.
Here are the winners of best SF and Fantasy novels (winners in bold)

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • The City in the Middle of the Night, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • The Testaments, Margaret Atwood (Nan A. Talese; Chatto & Windus)
  • Ancestral Night, Elizabeth Bear (Saga; Gollancz)
  • Empress of Forever, Max Gladstone (Tor)
  • The Light Brigade, Kameron Hurley (Saga; Angry Robot UK)
  • Luna: Moon Rising, Ian McDonald (Tor; Gollancz)
  • The Future of Another Timeline, Annalee Newitz (Tor; Orbit UK)
  • Fleet of Knives, Gareth L. Powell (Titan US & UK)
  • The Rosewater Insurrection/The Rosewater Redemption, Tade Thompson (Orbit US & UK)
  • Wanderers, Chuck Wendig (Del Rey; Solaris)

FANTASY NOVEL

  • Middlegame, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Ninth House, Leigh Bardugo (Flatiron; Gollancz)
  • A Brightness Long Ago, Guy Gavriel Kay (Berkley; Viking Canada; Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Raven Tower, Ann Leckie (Orbit US & UK)
  • Jade War, Fonda Lee (Orbit US & UK)
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey; Jo Fletcher)
  • The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday; Harvill Secker)
  • Storm of Locusts, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)
  • The Iron Dragon’s Mother, Michael Swanwick (Tor)
  • Dead Astronauts, Jeff VanderMeer (MCD; Fourth Estate)

The full list of winners and nominees is listed at tor.com

Nebula winners announced may 30th!

The winners (in bold) and finalists are as follows:

Novel

  • A Song for a New Day, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley)
  • Marque of Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK)
  • A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine (Tor)
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey; Jo Fletcher)
  • Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Publishing)

Novella

  • This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga)
  • “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom”, Ted Chiang (Exhalation)
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water, Vylar Kaftan (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Deep, Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga)
  • Catfish Lullaby, A.C. Wise (Broken Eye)

— from the full list of winners at Tor.com

Nova Mob, June 3rd

We are welcome to join the online Nova Mob this Wednesday at 7:30 Adelaide time.
Alan Stewart is Nova Mob’s speaker on this coming Wednesday 3rd June.  His chosen topic is the Wilds Cards series, first published in 1987 and still going strong almost fifty books later. What is the secret of Wild Cards’ almost superhuman longevity?
Alan knows a thing or two about lengthy series and hyper-productive authors and will be bringing some keen insights to the question and the series.
For those wondering what sort of deal they are getting into, Wild Cards is described in the Clute/ Stableford Encyclopedia as an “Original-Anthology series, edited by George R R Martin, with the initially unacknowledged collaboration of Melinda M Snodgrass, variously credited from the sixth volume on, set in a Shared World, almost every volume being a Braid of stories by various authors woven into a more-or-less integrated narrative.
Martin prefers to think of these books, because their contents are planned and linked, often as “mosaic novels”…. Wild Cards is one of the better shared-worlds series, showcasing hard-edged writing by Edward Bryant, Pat Cadigan, Cherie Priest, Lewis Shiner, Carrie Vaughn, Howard Waldrop, Walter Jon Williams, Roger Zelazny and others.”

Alan Stewart: Wild Cards – persistence of a Shared World vision
7:30pm (Adelaide time), Wednesday 3rd June,  Nova Mob by Zoom
Part 1 Time: Jun 3, 2020 08:00 PM Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney; 7:30pm Adelaide time
Zoom Meeting duration 8.00pm to 8.40pm. Use this link to join, click on it or cut-and-paste into your browser.
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4177583193?pwd=VjdPL1BhSTBNclN2YnRsejN3Y1hlUT09
Meeting ID: 417 758 3193
Password: nova

Part 2 details please log in by 8.55pm. (Do feel free to dial in earlier for general chat. Zoom will open this meeting from 8.45pm but Alan’s talk formally resumes at 8.55pm which gives a 15 minutes intermission)
8.55pm – 9.25pm Melbourne time 3rd June; 8:25 – 9:05 Adelaide time
Alan Stewart on Wild Cards Part 2
Time: Jun 3, 2020 08:45 for 8.55pm PM Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney. Join at:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4177583193?pwd=VjdPL1BhSTBNclN2YnRsejN3Y1hlUT09
Meeting ID: 417 758 3193
Password: nova

Critical Mass, June 17th

We’re waiting to hear from our potential guest speaker, but while you’re waiting, you can read a couple more novellae to prepare for our discussion of Hugo nominees:

  • “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom”, Ted Chiang (Exhalation)
  • In an Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)

 

Details of Zoom meeting:

Time: Jun 17, 2020 07:00 PM Adelaide

Join Zoom Meeting Part 1 at 7pm June 17th
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/76178209760?pwd=RjcySXVWWGZ6ZktzSEFjRVkwQWZNdz09

Meeting ID: 761 7820 9760
Password: 7fXx7M

Join Zoom Meeting Part 2 at 7:40 pm June 17
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/76178209760?pwd=RjcySXVWWGZ6ZktzSEFjRVkwQWZNdz09

Meeting ID: 761 7820 9760
Password: 7fXx7M