A Tale of Two Covers: Sweet Dreams by Tricia Sullivan

Saturday, July 6th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Sweet Dreams Tricia Sullivan UK-small Sweet Dreams Tricia Sullivan Titan-small

Covers by Andrzej Kwolek (Gollancz, 2017) and Natasha Mackenzie (Titan, 2019)

Tricia Sullivan’s third novel Dreaming In Smoke won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Her first, Lethe, was nominated for the Locus Award for Best First Novel in 1995; her most recent was Occupy Me, which we discussed earlier this year. She writes cyberpunk, space opera, and near-future satire, and has been shortlisted for the BSFA Award, the Tiptree Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

Titan is reprinting her 2017 near-future thriller Sweet Dreams later this month, with a brand new cover designed by Natasha Mackenzie (above right). It’s quite a departure from the Gollancz (UK) cover by Andrzej Kwolek (above left), which has a strong YA dystopian vibe; the Mackenzie version seems more reminiscent to me of Inception-style cyber-thrills and conspiracies. Tough to say which one I prefer… here’s the description; let me know which one you think is more appropriate in the comments.

Charlie is a dreamhacker, able to enter your dreams and mold their direction. Forget that recurring nightmare about being naked in an exam — Charlie will step into your dream, bring you a dressing gown and give you the answers. In London 2022 her skills are in demand, though they still only just pay the bills.

Hired by a celebrity whose nights are haunted by a masked figure who stalks her through a bewildering and sinister landscape, Charlie hopes her star is on the rise. Then her client sleepwalks straight off a tall building, and Charlie starts to realize that these horrors are not all just a dream…

Sweet Dreams will be published by Titan Books on July 23, 2019. It is 410 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. Read the first 40 pages at Google Books, and check out our other Tales of Two Covers here.


The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Jim Burns

Monday, July 1st, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Deathworms of Kratos

Deathworms of Kratos

Farnham's Freehold

Farnham’s Freehold

Son of Man

Son of Man

The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards have been presented by the British Science Fiction Association since 1970 and were originally nominated for and voted on by the members of the Association. The Artist Award was created in 1980, when the inaugural award was won by Jim Burns, who would go on to win it three more times before the award was changed in 1987.  In 1987, the British Science Fiction Association changed the award to honor specific art as the Artwork Award, which Burns has won eleven times, including a five year winning streak.  His most recent win was in 2018 when his painting for the cover of The Ion Raider tied Victor Ngai’s painting for “Waiting on a Bright Moon.”

After leaving the Royal Air Force, Burns studied at St. Martin’s School of Art in London, graduating in 1972, when he signed on with the Young Artists Agency.  He began providing covers and interior illustrations for British publishers in 1973 and his work appeared exclusively in British editions through 1980. During that time, he also moved from using water colors to gouache to oils.

Some of Burns’ work that appeared in 1979 included a cover for Robert A. Heinlein’s Farnham’s Freehold for Corgi Books showing the main characters standing in a valley watching a flying city. His cover by Robert Silverberg’s Son of Man has an alien figure curled up in the foreground with a naked man reclining in the background. His cover for Edmund Cooper’s The Deathworms of Kratos is less easy to decipher, but appears to show a man in heavy space armor being attacked by the titular worms.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Michael Whelan

Thursday, June 27th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Wonderworks

Wonderworks

A Princess of Mars

A Princess of Mars

The Gods of Mars

The Gods of Mars

The Best Artist category was not one of the original Hugo categories in 1953, but was introduced at the second awards in 1955, when it was won by Frank Kelly Freas. Since then, some version of the award has been a constant, with the exception of 1957, when the award was not presented. Originally called the Hugo for Best Artist, it eventually became the award for best Professional Artist when the Best Fan Artist award was introduced in 1967. Michael Whelan won his first award in 1980, beginning a seven year run of winning the award. He eventually won the award thirteen times, most recently in 2002, along with two other Hugo Award for Best Nonfiction Book (in 1988) and the first award for Best Original Artwork (in 1992). He has been nominated for the Hugo a total of 31 times.

The Locus Awards were established in 1972 and presented by Locus Magazine based on a poll of its readers. In more recent years, the poll has been opened up to on-line readers, although subscribers’ votes have been given extra weight. At various times the award has been presented at Westercon and, more recently, at a weekend sponsored by Locus at the Science Fiction Museum (now MoPop) in Seattle. The Best Artist award dates back to 1974, although in the three previous years, a Best Paperback Cover Artist award was presented and in the previous two years a Best Magazine Artist awards was presented. The first Professional Artist award was won by Frank Kelly Freas. Michael Whelan won his first award in 1980, beginning a twenty-one year run of winning the award. He eventually won the award thirty times, with one additional win for Best Art Book in 1994. In 1980. The Locus Poll received 854 responses.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist: Tim Kirk

Saturday, June 1st, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

Tim Kirk Phantoms and Fancies-small Tim Kirk CSA nyctalops-small Tim Kirk Under the Green Star-small

The Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist has been given since 1967. The first award went to Jack Gaughan, which should be a hint that it has often gone to people very well known for their professional artwork. (A similar statement applies to the winners for Best Fan Writer.) That said, these artists have all definitely done significant work in fannish publications.

Tim Kirk, another artist who has had a major professional career, was nominated for Best Fan Writer 8 times in the between 1969 and 1977, winning the Hugo in 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1976. It would be fair to say that for me, coming into contact with fandom in this period, my image of “fan art” was formed by Tim Kirk’s work, along with two more artists who won for their 1970s work, William Rotsler and Alexis A. Gilliland. (Not to slight the excellent Phil Foglio, but for whatever reason his art didn’t enter my consciousness until later. And Alicia Austin, four-time nominee and 1971 winner, was and is a favorite artist of mine, but for her professional work.)

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Don Maitz

Thursday, May 30th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

R. Bertram Chandler's The Far Traveler

R. Bertram Chandler’s The Far Traveler

C. J. Cherryh's Hestia

C. J. Cherryh’s Hestia

Jeff Rovin's Fantasy Almanac

Jeff Rovin’s Fantasy Almanac

The World Fantasy Awards are presented during the World Fantasy Convention and are selected by a mix of nominations from members of the convention and a panel of judges. The awards were established in 1975 and presented at the 1st World Fantasy Convention in Providence, Rhode Island. Traditionally, the awards took the form of a bust of H.P. Lovecraft sculpted by Gahan Wilson, however in recent years the trophy became controversial in light of Lovecraft’s more problematic beliefs. The Best Artist Award has been part of the award since its founding, when it was won by Lee Brown Coye. In 1980, the year Maitz received the award for his work, the convention was held in Baltimore, Maryland. The judges were Stephen R. Donaldson, Frank Belknap Long, andrew j. offutt, Ted White, and Susan Wood.

After graduating from the Paier School of Art in 1975, Don Maitz broke into the field with a black and white illustration for and ad that appeared in Marvel’s Kull and the Barbarians. In 1976, he provided the cover for the Science Fiction Book Club edition of Leigh Brackett’s The Book of Skaith: The Adventures of Eric Stark as well as books by L. Sprague de Camp, Lin Carter, and Lloyd Alexander.

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A Tale of Two Covers: If This Goes On edited by Charles Nuetzel and Cat Rambo

Friday, May 24th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

If This Goes On Charles Nuetzel If This Goes On Cat Rambo-small

Art by Albert Nuetzell and Bernard Lee

If This Goes On seems like the perfect title for a science fiction anthology; I’m surprised it hasn’t been used more often. It was first used by Robert A. Heinlein for his 1940 famous novella, which became a key part of his massive science fiction Future History. The story won a Retro Hugo in 2016, but was renamed Revolt in 2100 for its publication as a novel in 1953. Charles Nuetzel co-opted the title 25 years after Heinlein used it for his first (and only) anthology, published in paperback in 1965, reprinting stories by Fredric Brown, Richard Matheson, A. E. van Vogt, Isaac Asimov, Fritz Leiber, Forrest J. Ackerman, and others (above left).

My recent interest springs, of course, from Cat Rambo’s brand new anthology If This Goes On (above right), funded by a June 2018 $12,000 Kickstarter campaign and published in trade paperback by our friends at Parvus Press in March. It contains 30 brand new SF tales by some of the most exciting writers in the field today, including Andy Duncan, Nisi Shawl, Sarah Pinsker, Scott Edelman, Beth Dawkins, and many more. Subtitled The Science Fiction Future of Today’s Politics, this ambitious anthology looks at what today’s politics and policies will do to shape our world a generation from now. Tales within include:

  • “Green Glass: A Love Story” by Lily Yu, Hugo and World Fantasy Award nominee, and winner of the 2012 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, filters the future of now through a wholly relatable lens: relationships and marriage.
  • Hugo-winning editor Scott Edelman’s “The Stranded Time Traveler Embraces the Inevitable” expertly employs an age-old science fiction convention to tell a deeply human tale of love, loss, and desperate hope.
  • Streaming our everyday lives has become commonplace, but in “Making Happy” Zandra Renwick examines a very uncommon consequence of broadcasting your every experience.
  • Former Minnesota Viking and noted equal rights advocate Chris Kluwe’s “The Machine” deals with one of the most important and hotly contested questions of the day: what truly defines citizenship and American identity?
  • Nebula winner Sarah Pinsker’s “That Our Flag Was Still There” uses possibly the most powerful symbol in American iconography to create a frightening and darkly illuminating vision of freedom of speech.
  • NAACP Image Award winner for Outstanding Literary Work Steven Barnes offers up the consequences of integrating technology and surveillance into our daily lives with his detective story “The Last Adventure of Jack Laff: The Dayveil Gambit”

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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Spectacular Church Frescoes in Valencia, Spain

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

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In my last post, we looked at some of Valencia’s ancient ruins, but of course this historic Spanish port has more to offer. Perhaps the city’s most impressive sight is the Church of San Nicolás.

Like so many other European churches, it’s built on the remains of an old pagan temple from the Roman times. The first Christian building on the site was founded by James I of Aragon (ruled 1213-1276) and donated to the Dominicans.

In the 15th century, the church was greatly refurbished, taking on a Gothic style and the addition of a rose window.

When I visited a couple of weeks ago, I barely noticed those medieval elements. They’re almost invisible next to the flamboyant Baroque frescoes covering the entire vault. Painted between 1690 and 1693 by Juan Pérez Castiel, these frescoes have been brilliantly restored in recent years.

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A Medieval Synagogue in Toledo, Spain

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

20190418_125956

In my last post, I talked about an early Christian church and some Visigothic remains in Toledo in central Spain. Toledo was a mix of cultures during the Middle Ages, with Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities all leaving their mark. The city is home to an excellent Sephardi Museum housed in a medieval synagogue.

The synagogue was founded in 1356 by Samuel ha-Levi Abulafia, Royal Treasurer to King Pedro of Castile and León. It was attached to Abulafia’s palace and intended as a private house of worship.

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Medieval Wall Paintings and Visigothic Artifacts in Toledo, Spain

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

20190418_122718

Portion of a Visigothic sarcophagus, with scenes from the Bible

Enough about the Western Desert of Egypt! Let’s pull the sand out of our teeth, bid the mummies goodbye, and go to Toledo, Spain. You can eat pork, drink wine, and see some historic churches.

One of the most interesting is the Iglesia de San Román.

This church dates to the early 13th century, and like many buildings in town was built atop earlier structures. Before the church there was a mosque, and before that a Visigothic church. There may have been a Roman building before that. Its interior is in the Mudéjar style, a Moorish influenced architectural style that has continued in Spain until the modern day.

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Support Songs of Giants: The Poetry of Pulp, Illustrated by Mark Wheatley

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Giants The Poetry of Pulp banner

I spent this weekend at the Windy City Pulp & Paper Show and, as usual, I met a lot of great folks and discovered plenty of fabulous books and artwork. One of my most intriguing discoveries came when Christopher Paul Carey introduced me to Mark Wheatley, the renowned comic writer and artist behind Mars, Breathtaker, and Comico’s Jonny Quest. Mark had launched a Kickstarter for an ambitious project titled Songs of Giants: The Poetry of Pulp, an illustrated book featuring some of the greatest pulp writers of all time. Here’s what Mark told me about it.

It’s really gratifying to see how poetry in general is popular these days. When we launched Songs of Giants about a month ago on Kickstarter we had no expectation that the Poetry of Pulp would be so popular. But we are now at 200% of our goal. This means that everyone is getting great extras with stretch goals and we expect to add a few more before we’re done. My personal favorites are the audiobook and the signed limited-edition prints. And I’m very much looking forward to adding the three portrait set of our masters of Pulp poetry, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and H. P. Lovecraft.

Having Jack McDevitt, one of our very best current writers of science fiction, write the introduction to Songs of Giants is a huge personal perk for me. I have loved Jack’s books for many years. And he actually evokes that sense of wonder that was so prevalent in the Pulps in his own writing today. Ultimately though it’s obvious from his introduction that he truly understands pulp and poetry and I think he gives us some good insights.

Songs of Giants is a terrific project, and the unlocked stretch goals already include a complete audio book, exclusive bookmark, a Robert E. Howard music video, multiple signed art prints, and much more. It wraps up in three days, but there’s still time to get on board. Here’s a closer look at that gorgeous cover art.

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