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Shadowing the Clarke

Paul Kincaid isn’t on the Shadow Clarke jury this year but he’s playing along at home (literally) with his own to-read list.

Through the dark labyrinth

This time last year, I was engaged in the struggle to compile my personal shortlist for the first Arthur C. Clarke Award Shadow Jury. It was an interesting and revealing exercise. I was glad to step down from the Shadow Jury this year only because it is a time-consuming process and time is something I don’t have right now. But in every other respect, I was sorry to go and a part of me is itching to put together a personal shortlist again this year.

So why the hell not?

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Awards

Through the dark labyrinth

Iain M. BanksHow can sitting in bed drinking champagne be so exhausting? But last night was exhausting.

It started with the announcement of the BSFA Awards. My default response when I know I’ve been shortlisted for an award is to convince myself that I cannot win. But even so there’s a rogue part of the brain that’s going: maybe, just maybe … And then I saw a tweet. I am slow and clumsy on twitter, can never really make it work for me; so it turned out that Maureen had known the result for about a minute already and was just waiting to see how long it would be before I noticed.

The upshot is, I won. Or, to be more precise, my book, Iain M. Banks (Modern Masters of Science Fiction) published by University of Illinois Press, won. It is now, what, 12 hours since I heard the news and I…

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Triage

Paul Kincaid with a few thoughts on being involved with the John W. Campbell Memorial Award…

Through the dark labyrinth

Every year around this time I have a debate with myself about whether I should retire as a juror on the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. I’ve been doing it for ten years now, which is long enough. It’s a time-consuming job (we’ve had over 100 books submitted this year, and there are a few more I’m hoping to see come in, and I am not a very fast reader), and when I’m supposed to be working on something, like the Priest book that I should be researching, it can be very difficult to find that time. It is also a dispiriting job; there are so many bad books out there, there are times ploughing through another pile of submissions when I wonder what is the point of science fiction any more. Yet it can also be exhilarating, when you happen upon a book that really is fresh and intelligent…

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Before and After

Paul Kincaid on prequels and sequels.

Through the dark labyrinth

There is a congruence in the latest issue of the London Review of Books (4 January 2018) that I find interesting and instructive.

In the final paragraph of his review of Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, Colin Burrow remarks:

A great work of fantasy involves testing and advancing the physical and moral laws of a new world; and a great part of the pleasure of reading a book set in an alternative world lies in seeing an author discovering a possibility that stretches the boundaries of the imagined world without wrecking its internal coherence. Writing a prequel to that kind of elastic imagining is exceptionally hard, because so many of the rules have already been invented and cannot be subjected to creative strain, let alone broken. (8)

On the facing page, almost exactly parallel to this passage, in a review of Mrs Osmond, John Banville’s sort-of sequel to

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2017 in Review

Paul Kincaid being rather more efficient about summarising his year’s reading than I ever manage.

Through the dark labyrinth

It’s that time of year again, when I dust off this oft-forgotten blog and post a list of my reading through the year, along with other odd comments.

2017 has been, in some respects, a very good year. My first full-length book not composed of previously published material, appeared in May. Iain M. Banks appeared in the series Modern Masters of Science Fiction from Illinois University Press, and has received some generally positive reviews, much to my relief.

Also this year I signed a contract with Gylphi to write a book about Christopher Priest, which is likely to take most if not all of the next year. In addition, I’ve put in a proposal for another volume in the Modern Masters of Science Fiction; the initial response has been quite good so I’m hoping I’ll have more to report in the new year. So, in work terms, it looks…

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2016 Science Fiction Foundation Masterclass in Science Fiction Criticism

The Tenth Science Fiction Foundation Masterclass in Science Fiction Criticism will be held from Thursday 23 June to Saturday 25 June 2016.

Applications are now open. Please note that this event has been timed to coincide with the Science Fiction Research Association bringing its conference to Liverpool on 27-30 June.

We are pleased to announce that the venue will again be the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, founded by Charles II in 1675, and the home of the Prime Meridian.
Price: £200; £150 for registered postgraduate students.
The Class Leaders for 2016 will be:
Andrew Milner, literature Professor and author of Locating Science Fiction
Maureen Kincaid Speller, critic and reviews editor of Strange Horizons.
Tade Thompson, writer of SF and general fiction and consultant psychiatrist
To apply please send a short (no more than 3,000 words) piece of critical writing (a blog entry, review, essay, or other piece), and a one page curriculum vitae, to masterclass@sf-foundation.org.  Applications received by 31 March 2016* will be considered by an Applications Committee consisting of Tony Keen, Andy Sawyer and Kari Sperring. Applications received after 31 March may be considered if places are still available, on a strictly first-come first served basis.
The SFF Masterclass involves three days studying texts supplied by three class leaders. It is a great way to broaden your critical perspectives, sharpen some critical tools, and to make contacts with other people writing on SF and Fantasy. The class leaders are drawn from professional writers, academics and fans, and this is a great opportunity to learn from people experienced in their craft.
Anyone interested in writing seriously about science fiction and/or fantasy, at whatever level they are in their careers, is welcome to attend. This includes not just critics and reviewers, but historians and other scholars. Those who have attended past Masterclasses are also welcome to apply (though we will prioritise applications from those who have not been previous students).
Past students have found these events immensely beneficial, and often return. For some reports and endorsements from past students and class leaders, see the Facebook page for the Masterclass;
Information on past Masterclasses can be found here. Please direct any enquiries to masterclass@sf-foundation.org.
*Please note that this is later than the date advertised in the latest issue of Foundation.