Atlas vs. AI

Deadline reports:

Jennifer Lopez is set to star and produce in the Netflix sci-fi thriller Atlas with Rampage helmer Brad Peyton directing. Aron Eli Coleite is writing the most recent draft of the script based off Leo Sardarian original script.

The film follows Atlas, a woman fighting for humanity in a future where an AI soldier has determined the only way to end war is to end humanity. To outthink this rogue AI, Atlas must work with the one thing she fears most — another AI.

More details at Deadline

MSFC Quiz night, June 18th

Due to the Melbourne lockdown, the MSFC have had to move their Quiz Night online.

Nova Mob and Critical Mass members are invited to join in on Friday, June 18th from 8pm Melbourne time (7:30 Adelaide time).

There’s a general chat for the first half hour, then we settle in for 90 odd minutes of quizzing, lead by the quite querilous Roman, ably assisted by Lync & Jocko.

The details:

MSFC Quiz night
Time: Jun 18, 2021 08:00pm Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney; 7:30 Adelaide

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 815 6901 7213
Passcode: quizzy

Critical Mass June 23rd

Note that we have moved to the 4th Wednesday of the month, and our meetings now start half an hour earlier, at 6:30 pm at Kappys.

We continue our look at nominees for the Novella Hugo: this time we’re discussing Finna, by Nino Cipri (Tordotcom) and Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom).

We will start Critical Mass at 6:30pm Adelaide time (7:00pm Melbourne).

You can attend in person at Kappys in Compton St, or join us via zoom.

Zoom Details:

When: Jun 23, 2021 6:30pm Adelaide, 7pm Melbourne

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 870 8219 8629
Passcode: 467822

A fine audio drama

A new River Song adventure, The Ruby’s Curse, written and performed by Alex Kingston.

Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse

A River Song Novel By: Alex Kingston
Narrated by: Alex Kingston
Length: 8 hrs and 20 mins
Release date: 20-05-2021
Language: English

1939, New York. Private-eye Melody Malone is hired to find a stolen ruby, the Eye of Horus. The ruby might hold the secret to the location of Cleopatra’s tomb – but everyone who comes into contact with it dies.

Can Melody escape the ruby’s curse?

1939, New York. River Song, author of the Melody Malone mysteries, is forced to find a reality-altering weapon, the Eye of Horus – but everyone who comes into contact with it dies. River doesn’t believe in curses – but is she wrong?

ABC podcasts Son of the Storm

Eugen Bacon, the African Australian writer and editor, lends her voice to one of the stories featured on the ABC’s Bookshelf podcast “Reading Western Sydney, a hot country town & fantasy Africa remade”.

…And entire new worlds are created, drawing upon West African mythology and the layers of colonialism, in Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s epic fantasy, Son of the Storm (read by speculative fiction writer Eugen Bacon).

Master of Djinn: absolute joy

First there was A Dead Djinn in Cairo, then The Haunting of Tram 015. A short story, The Angel of Khan el Khalili. And now a novel set in the same magical Cairo: A Master of Djinn. When someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case.

If you enjoyed the earlier stories, then you will love the novel.

Not only does Agent Fatma have to deal with the case, but she also has to deal with her unexpected new partner! And we find out a lot more about the Ministry and how it operates.

Nova Mob: June 2nd with John Clute

Murray notes:

Dear Nova Mob and friends, our guest at the forthcoming Nova Mob is the witty, erudite, compelling, and encyclopaedic John Clute, science fiction’s foremost critic!

Frankly I’m just gobsmacked, colour me purple, tickle me pink, and over the moon. Delighted, yes definitely delighted. But expect no such cliches from our guest! Our time together will be a fireside chat, and I do recommend “some research required” for your questions to be put to John.

Already I’ve enquired gently of John about book storage problems, reflections on where the Encyclopaedias came from and where they are going, and whether the phrase “the Gene Wolfe of SF criticism” would be a good fit. With some poise he has replied:

Gene Wolfe —  I can certainly say in our conversation why that’s interesting, but also (stature aside) I’d distinguish between us. I can do questions about Fantastika; memories of Peter Nicholls; the theory of archive as applied to Collections

Fantastika has considerable appeal; the concept solves many of the field’s definitional problems. It acknowledges that the English-speaking world has taken up some ill-wrought terms to describe science fiction, fantasy, and horror, to the point where the term “Fantastic” as used by Suvin and many others cannot comfortably be applied directly to American, UK, and other English-language criticism of the field. “Fantastika” has the ring of truth to it, please dive in, it’s worth it. (The first four items steadily get more sophisticated and nuanced)

From Locus, an introduction to John:

From a certain essential Encyclopedia:

Fantastika in the World Storm – a talk by John Clute

Fantastika; or, The Sacred Grove
. Article, Fantastika Journal. Volume 1. Issue 1. April 2017. John Clute.
Start at page 13, and describes the eight or so dimensions contained in the  concept of Fantastika


A brief yet lightning-sharp review of Thomas Harris’s Hitler Wins novel, Fatherland:

An introduction to John Clute by Douglas Fratz which captures tone superbly:

“Clute has dedicated his life work to the field of SF, fantasy and horror — to Fantastika — and all of us in the field should be profoundly grateful that he has done so.”

Obligatory wikipedia entry:

John Clute’s web site and books:


You are invited to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Nova Mob 2 June – John Clute – A Fantastika Fireside chat
Time: Jun 2, 2021 8:00pm Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney; 7:30 Adelaide

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 417 758 3193
Passcode: nova

Critical Mass May 19th: Novella Nominees

We’re going to have another go at looking for the best Novella. Here are the Hugo nominees for best novella:

  • Come Tumbling Down, Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom)
  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Nghi Vo (Tordotcom)
  • Finna, Nino Cipri (Tordotcom)
  • Ring Shout, P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom)
  • Riot Baby, Tochi Onyebuchi (Tordotcom)
  • Upright Women Wanted, Sarah Gailey (Tordotcom)

We’re going to discuss them over the next few meetings, so please read Come Tumbling Down and The Empress of Salt and Fortune in time for discussion at the May meeting.

As usual, the meeting will start at 7pm Adelaide time, May 19th. If you wish to attend in person, come along to Kappys — doors open at 6:45. Zoom details follow for those who prefer to join us that way.

Zoom: Critical Mass: a look at the hugo Nominees for Best Novella
Time: May 19, 2021 7:00pm Adelaide, 7:30 Melbourne

Meeting ID: 897 6676 8424
Passcode: CritMass21

Nova Mob meetings

Murray notes:

May 5th Nova Mob

Our guest this coming Wednesday night is best-selling science fiction author and commentator John Birmingham. Prepare your questions now!

After years of successfully working with publishers John is now going it alone with an internet-based direct sale and subscriptions model. 

John won the 2005 Locus Award for best first novel for his “Weapons of Choice”, the first in his Axis of Time trilogy of alternative history novels based on a modern fleet of warships going back in time to World War Two. A later trilogy, Stalin’s Hammer, addresses the legacy of the fall of the Axis of Time as Stalin’s USSR seeks to reshape the world. The James Kipper series asks, “what would happen if the USA just suddenly disappeared?” and the Dave Hooper series is a monster apocalypse thriller gorefest. Of course, John first came to fame with He Died with a Felafel in his Hand and is known for his commentary on modern Australian politics. As Penguin put it: “John Birmingham has written for Rolling StonePlayboyLong Bay Prison News, Quarterly Essay and The Monthly. His published works include He Died With A Falafel In His Hand and Leviathan: The unauthorised biography of Sydney. He started writing airport novels because they were more fun.”

John’s most recent releases are the ebook of Zero Day Code and the audio of American Kill Switch, which closes out the End of Days series, a very plausible scenario for bringing down the American civilisation.

We’ve worked through the setup problems of March 2021 by keeping it simple. This is a Zoom only meeting. 

This pattern of sometimes Zoom-only and sometimes face to face will continue for the foreseeable future.
John Birmingham – Reality? What price our reality?

Wednesday May 5th

8.00pm – 9.30 pm or so, Melbourne time, 7:30 – 9pm Adelaide time
login after 7.50pm Melbourne, 7:20pm Adelaide time

Join Zoom Meeting for Nova Mob

Meeting ID: 417 758 3193

Passcode: nova

About John –

To read some of John’s work: free download!
[Deeply regrettably, not SF]

June 2nd Nova Mob

Esteemed critic John Clute will be joining the Nova Mob from London England for a fireside chat for our June 2 meeting. Zoom again! 

Lovely to have you with us, John. May I ask, what are you working on at the moment?
—I’m finishing a difficult edit (difficult because I am increasingly fussy about quality control) of a new collection, Sticking to the End, due to come out this year. And continuing to work on the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, partly writing and editing, partly calculating the move from Gollancz (that contract ends October) into the autonomous improved clone David Langford has developed and is ready to go; we’d like a new sponsor, too, as that will ease finances, but that would be in conjunction with David’s ongoing site. 

How would you like the “John Clute – at the fireside” discussion to work? 
—Send me questions you’re interested in asking. It might be interesting to ask about the relationship of Fantastika to the End of the World, but that’s only for laughs. ha.

Please send me your questions so I can pass them on to John.