This month I'm pleased to report that Escape Velocity, issue 4 is out, available from Adventure Books of Seattle here. As can be seen on the front cover, my article on Psychological Factors in Space Flight is included within the issue. This is a good magazine which has picked up favourable reviews from The Fix Online, including my story from Issue 2, Mindreader http://thefix-online.com/reviews/escape-velocity-2/.
There have also been a couple of further online reviews of the anthology Subterfuge, which includes my story Thirstlands, at Best SF: http://www.bestsf.net/reviews/whatessubterfuge.html and at Tamaranth's Non-Ephemera, review number 22, dated Wednesday March 25th: http://tamaranth.blogspot.com/.
With the narcissistic self-promotion out of the way, we can move on to matters of perhaps more substance. The speculative fiction writer Lavie Tidhar, who has been mentioned here in a previous blog of mine, has collated The Apex Book of World SF, which looks extremely interesting and is a very worthwhile project: http://www.lavietidhar.co.uk/. The official site for the book is at: http://www.apexbookcompany.com/products/2009/03/the-apex-book-of-world-sf-cover-art-unveiled/ Lavie has also started a great ancillary project, a World SF online blog, with a fascinating smorgasbord of articles and links, including three links to South African speculative fiction, one to this website - thanks Lavie - one to Chimurenga (reviewed here in SF in SA 8) and finally to Something Wicked. I have started a subscription to Something Wicked, a South African 'science fiction and horror magazine' and hope to report back on it soon, when I get the next issue, which is number 10: http://www.somethingwicked.co.za/cms/ But if you have an interest in (hopefully) Southern African flavoured speculative fiction, check them out for yourselves too in the meantime.
Finally, to report back on a couple of read books – Nisi Shawl's Filter House, a varied and literary mixture of speculative fiction, ranging from fantasy to magical realism to straight science fiction, with a number of tales rooted in an African ethos. These are deftly written, eclectic tales, with my favourites being the short, sharp uplifting story Bird Day, the Beads of Ku, a dark story with a folk-tale sensibility and The Pragmatical Princess, a medieval (Islamic) fantasy narrated with a lighter touch, but just as smart in its execution. There is an excellent and more detailed review of this collection of Nisi's at The Fix http://thefix-online.com/reviews/filter-house-nisi-shawl/.
Then there is Glynne MacLean's The Time Stealers, a Young Adult science fiction novella which picks up a giddying pace to rival the readers' ride within its 'super suction' machine. The book ends with the implied importance of finding and embracing the past, in order to fully experience the present and to better face the future. It has been nominated for a Sir Julius Vogel Award, Aotearoa New Zealand's premier science fiction awards http://sffanz.sf.org.nz/sjv/sjvNominations-2009.shtml- and Glynne also has a junior fiction book nominated within the YA novel category, The Spiral Chrysalis.
It's also worth noting that the British Science Fiction Awards have just been announced: http://vectoreditors.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/bsfa-award-winners-2/. Congratulations to the winners - Andy Bigwood (Best Artwork) for his cover of Subterfuge; Farah Mendlesohn (Best Non-Fiction) for her book on The Rhetorics of Fantasy; Ted Chiang (Best Short Fiction) for Exhalation and Ken MacLeod (Best Novel) for The Night Sessions.
Finally, to future anticipated reads – PostScripts, an excellent UK quarterly anthology: http://store.pspublishing.co.uk/acatalog/postscripts_magazine.html and Interzone, Britain's long-running sf/fantasy staple magazine - where I had my story God in the Box published, a good few years ago now: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?INTZMAR03 Interzone's editor Andy Cox was kind enough to continue my life subscription, even though he took it over from Interzone's previous long-standing editor David Pringle.
And just to mention that I do actually read more than I comment upon - so I only tend to comment on what I like. I know how hard it is to create stories that people enjoy, so I have no wish to critique another author's 'difficulties' (in my view), when I still have so many of my own! Onwards, to new stories, to both savour and enjoy.
Nick Wood - April 2009.