Issue 4, 25th March 1996: Whatever Happened To...
[Computing, Law, Music, Science and Technology, SciFi, Sport, The Unexplained, UP, icons]
Bob Shaw--author of Fire Pattern, Nighthawk and The Ragged Astronauts trilogy (to name only a few)--died on the twelvth of February. His writing, like many authors, went through phases--some good, some not so good. Still his career spanned decades. His books were those from which afficionados learned to love SF.
His passings follows John Brunner, who died at the World Fantasy Con in Glasgow. Bruner was pivotal in the sixties new wave movement. Again the stuff upon which many of us were weaned from Noddy, or Dr. Suess, depending upon which side of the Atlantic you hail from. Also lost in the past two years are: Isaac Asimov and Roger Zelazny, which leads me to the following question: If so many fine authors are dying, who will there be to take their place?
Of the greats--or if not greats, then the reliable old names--only a few remain. Notably Arthur C. Clarke and Frank Herbert. Of the new "up-and-coming" authors', many range into the eclectic, obscure and, sometimes, the downright unreadable. Others do not by my definition of the term write Science Fiction at all, but some sort of futuristic fantasy, but I've complained about that already.
Certainly, it's sad to say that not a single name springs to mind who can match the old faithfuls in productivity, general calibre of their literature and the breadth of their work. Unlike horror where new names are constantly arising to replace the old. Where Shelley, Stoker, Lovecraft have given way to a whole new generation: James Herbert, Stephen King, Clive Barker and Stephen Gallagher, and a host of others too numerous, in fact, to mention.
While new names abound in elsewhere, SF, seems to be caught in a state of stasis. Publishers today tend to stick to the tried-and- true in a genre which is supposed to reach beyond present day boundaries. Of all the new material produced in the past few years, most seems to fall into a single category. Specifically, televisions spin-offs like: Star Trek (or one of its many offshoots), The X Files and Doctor Who. While I enjoy such programmes, personally, for publishers to stay solely within those confines is self-limiting. Whatever happened to "boldly go where no man (or, if you prefer the non-sexist, no one) has gone before"?
Perhaps the malaise found within SF is indicative of a more generalised ennui. Perhaps it is a reflection of society as a whole--a society that finds more interest in wallowing in gore than in scientific advancement. Who can sees more to inspire dread in the human condition than any potential future.
Or have we simply become jaded by the state of a world-wide space programme that hasn't managed to progress beyond the: "Hey, Orville, let's put wings on a grain silo and see if it can fly"?
Mar. 15-17. LUNACON '96. Rye Town Hilton, Rye Brook NY, U.S.A. GoH: Terry Pratchett, Esther Friesner. Visual Humour GoH: Phil Foglio. Fan GoH: Bruce Pelz. Origami GoH: Mark Kennedy. Registration: $33 to 15 February'96, higher at the door. Contact: Lunacon 96, Box 3566, New York NY 10008, U.S.A. Email: Lunacon@lunacon.org.
Mar. 17-19. LONDON INTERNATIONAL BOOKFAIR. Grand Hall, Olympia Exhibition Centre, London, U.K. Trade fair for booksellers and publishers; not open to the public. Contact: London International Bookfair, Oriel House, 26 The Quadrant, Richmond Surrey TW9 1DL, U.K.
Mar. 22-24. 8th SF DAYS NRW. Duesseldorf, Germany. Theme: Religion. Contact: Heinrich Sporck, Am Sonnenberg 38, D-44879 Bochum 5, FRG. Tel: 49-234-461390
May 24-27. WISCON 20, Feminist Science Fiction Convention. Concourse Hotel, Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
April 5-8. EVOLUTION, British National SF Convention. Heathrow (London), UK. GoH: Vernor Vinge, Colin Greenland, Jack Cohen, Brian Talbot, Paul Kincaid, Maureen Kincaid Speller. Registration: £ 20. Contact: Evolution, 13 Linfield Gardens, Hampstead, London, NW3 6PX, UK. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 12-14. I-CON XV. Long Island, NY, USA.GoH: George Alec Effinger, Doug Beekman, Tom Smith. Adult, at the door: US$28. Email: Blaine S Atkins.
June 20-23. Dragon*Con 1996. Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
July 26-28. SAARCON, SFCD annual convention. Germany. Themes: Eastern European SF, history of German fandom. Contact: Thomas Recktenwald, Huettenwerkstr. 40, D-66763 Dillingen, FRG. Tel: 06831-704555)
Queen's Birthday Weekend. CONSTELLATION. The Christchurch City Travelodge, New Zealand. Contact: Constellation, P.O. Box 29-119, Fendalton, Christchurch NZ.
June 26-29. Dragon*Con 1997. Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Explore the SF scene in Europe with the European Science Fiction Society.
Cross the Channel for the French online fanzine Quarante-Deux.
Check out the new SF news and reviews magazine SFX.
Read the on line SF mag, QUANTA.
Browse your way through European SF Bookstores.
Go square-eyed watching the Sci-Fi Channel Europe.
Try the new online SF-zine Science Fiction Weekly for a mixture of book reviews, movie, games and media news updated weekly.
Find all those theme tunes you keep humming to yourself.
Back Issues: 1996 March 4(Genre or Generalities), Febuary 3 1995 December 2 (Crush, Ben Jeapes), November 1 (Bad Timing, Molly Brown).
SPECIAL SECTION: LINKS FOR TREKKIES
Visit London Science Museum's Star Trek Exhibition.
Visit the Star Trek Voyager homepage.
Klingon: the language of the future. Visit the home page of the Klingon Language Institute.
Let Quark the Ferengi guide you through his Star Trek Universe.