Aldiss dies in his sleep at 92

[Brain Aldiss] began publishing his stories in the mid-1950s, a time when SF was heavily dominated by US writers schooled in the markets of commercial magazines. Aldiss’s work came as a breath of fresh air to a genre beginning to suffocate in its own orthodoxies. He wrote lively, intelligent prose, shot through with subversive humour, linguistic novelty and human observation. He took for his subjects the full range of modern scientific research. As well as the exact sciences, he also plundered speculative, psychological, sociological and sexological areas of inquiry. One of the most exhilarating aspects of reading Aldiss is the diversity of his imagination.
— from Chris Priest’s Obituary for Brian Aldiss in the Guardian

There’s a more personal reflection on Chris Priest’s blog


Confessions of an SF addict

For the next month or so (for that matter, for the next four years, off and on), I spent some part of every weekend at the Hardings’. I don’t remember much about conversations, except that they were largely about music. Lee assured me that every time he tried to talk about sf I’d talk about Thomas Hardy or Thomas Love Peacock. Sometimes we got onto philosophy, and this proved my undoing. One night he gave me a paperback and said, ‘There: you’re pretty hot on theology (I had, in fact, spent a couple of years in theological college) – read that story and tell me what you think of it.’
So I took the book out onto the verandah, and read Arthur C Clarke’s THE STAR. And the foundations of my antipathy to sf began to crumble. Here was as fine a dramatic presentation of a theological difficulty as I had ever come across, as a story, and as stimulus to thought, it was first-rate.
—  A WAY OF LIFE The Confessions of an SF Addict, John Bangsund,
from  Apastron 1, published for the 1968 Easter SF Conference. 

Full article reprinted in Leigh Edmond’s iOTA 9, a work in progress on a history of SF fandom in Australia pre 1975. Worth a read, as the issue also includes a convention review by John Foyster, Lee Harding’s notes on Ursula K LeGuin’s visit to Sydney and Denis Stock’s piece about Arthur C Clarke’s visit to Brisbane.

7 Tips for Podcasters

Keep it short

Most people don’t have the time to listen to long podcasts. Chances are, they’re listening while travelling to work, or late at night. If your podcast is longer than ten minutes, provide an index to topics, so listeners can start at a particular spot.

Record somewhere quiet

Unless you need a specific atmosphere (eg waves, seagulls, theatre foyer), avoid recording in noisy areas: they are hard to listen to, and a pain to edit. Record the podcast in WAV format for best quality.

Use The Levelator to balance voices

This free software balances audio levels between different voices. The Levelator automatically balances various audio levels, such as multiple microphone levels in an interview or panel discussion, or segments combined from multiple sessions that were recorded at different levels.


Note: you will require a PCM recording, such as WAV or AIFF, for The Levelator to work.

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 6.32.07 amAudacity showing the Effect of Running The Levelator on a recording with varying voice levels (TOP) to create a more balanced output file (Bottom)

Do a basic edit on the recording before publishing

Always worth doingto ensure you’ve got a good recording. Means you can edit out unexpected noises, remove coughs, false starts and so on. Most importantly, it means you can listen to what’s been said and make sure you want to publish (all) of it.

Audacity is free, cross platform and easy to use editing software for audio files.


Tumblr will let you store audio posts for free

Audio files can be quite large, even if you’ve saved the recording in mp3 format. There are several podcast oriented website hosts which will not only provide additional storage each month — so you can continue store all of your podcasts — but also provide convenient templates, tools, and online audio players.

One of the few places you can publish audio files for free is Tumblr. They limit files to be under 10MB, and cap the amount you can upload each day, but they do have an audio micro-format, and let you upload audio to their site, or link to audio files stored elsewhere.   

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The Environment Show at

Get a good podcast player

If you’re going to listen to a range of podcasts, pick a good podcast player: It’s much easier to organise your subscriptions and episodes with a good player, which will also let you

    • subscribe to new episodes
    • change playback speed
    • play parts of episodes and let you resume where you left off
    • provide feedback to the podcasters

Zencastr will record both sides of a discussion

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If you can’t both be present in the same room, you can record podcasts across the web using Zencastr.

Zencastr is built to run in a modern web browser. This makes it super easy to invite guests or record from anywhere with internet access. It records each guest locally on their machine, then combines the recordings and stores it in your dropbox.

More details:

Arthur C Clarke Award 2017

The Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature has announced its 2017 winner.

The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (Fleet)
The winner received a prize of £2017.00 and the award itself, a commemorative engraved bookend.

The complete shortlist was:

A Closed and Common Orbit, Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton)
Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
After Atlas, Emma Newman (Roc)
Occupy Me, Tricia Sullivan (Gollancz)
Central Station, Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (Fleet)

The Orville: new SF show from Fox

THE ORVILLE is a one-hour science fiction series set 400 years in the future that follows the adventures of the U.S.S. Orville, a mid-level exploratory vessel. Its crew, both human and alien, faces the wonders and dangers of outer space, while also dealing with the familiar, often humorous problems of regular people in a workplace…even though some of those people are from other planets, and the workplace is a faster-than-light spaceship. In the 25th century, Earth is part of the Planetary Union, a far-reaching, advanced and mostly peaceful civilization with a fleet of 3,000 ships.

Fox showed this version of their trailer for The Orville at Comic-Con:


While we’re at it, here’s the trailer for the new Star Trek series, Discovery,  on NetFlix

Jodie Whittaker is the new Doctor


Chris Chibnall, Doctor Who’s new head writer and executive producer, said: “We’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor.
“I always knew I wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice. Her audition for the Doctor simply blew us all away.
“Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role. The 13th Doctor is on her way.”

Whittaker said: “It’s more than an honour to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.”

Capaldi said: “Anyone who has seen Jodie Whittaker’s work will know that she is a wonderful actress of great individuality and charm. She has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She’s going to be a fantastic Doctor.”

Onward and Upward

“I just didn’t know what to do with my stuff until I stumbled into science fiction and fantasy,” Le Guin says. “And then, of course, they knew what to do with it.” “They” were the editors, fans, and fellow-authors who gave her an audience for her work. If science fiction was down-market, it was at least a market. More than that, genre supplied a ready-made set of tools, including spaceships, planets, and aliens, plus a realm—the future—that set no limits on the imagination. She found that science fiction suited what she called, in a letter to her mother, her “peculiar” talent, and she felt a lightheartedness in her writing that had to do with letting go of ambitions and constraints. In the fall of 1966, when she was thirty-seven, Le Guin began “A Wizard of Earthsea.” In the next few years—which also saw her march against the Vietnam War and dance in a conga line with Allen Ginsberg, when he came to Portland to read Vedas for peace—she produced her great early work, including, in quick succession, “The Left Hand of Darkness,” “The Lathe of Heaven,” “The Farthest Shore,” and “The Dispossessed,” her ambitious novel of anarchist utopia.
—  The Fantastic Ursula K leGuin, Julie Philips, New Yorker Oct 17, 2016

Electronic fanzine reprints

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Dave Langford has been assembling ebooks from fannish writings, including TAFF trip reports, columns from Walt Willis and John Berry, back issues of Ansible and elsewhere.

All free, though a donation to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund (TAFF) is suggested.

These ebooks include some of the funniest pieces written in a long time. I particularly enjoyed the Walt Willis  Fanorama columns from Nebula in the 50s.

ebooks at

2017 Locus Awards

The winners of the 2017 Locus Awards were announced at Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle on June 24.

  • SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL: Death’s End, Cixin Liu (Tor; Head of Zeus)
  • FANTASY NOVEL: All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • HORROR NOVEL: The Fireman, Joe Hill (Morrow)
  • YOUNG ADULT BOOK: Revenger, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz; Orbit US ’17)
  • FIRST NOVEL: Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
  • NOVELLA: Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire ( Publishing)
  • NOVELETTE“You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, Alyssa Wong (Uncanny 5-6/16)
  • SHORT STORY: “Seasons of Glass and Iron“, Amal el-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
  • ANTHOLOGY: The Big Book of Science Fiction, Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, eds. (Vintage)
  • COLLECTION: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu (Saga; Head of Zeus)
  • EDITOR: Ellen Datlow
  • ARTIST: Julie Dillon
  • NON-FICTION: The Geek Feminist Revolution, Kameron Hurley (Tor)
  • ART BOOK: Charles Vess, Walking Through the Landscape of Faerie (Faerie Magazine)

Full list of all awards, winners and nominees, on the Locus Online site.

The Locus Awards are chosen by a survey of readers in an open online poll that runs from February 1 to April 15.