Thursday, July 24, 2014

Quiet War Ebooks Update

Pleased to announce that the ebooks of both In the Mouth of the Whale and Evening's Empires are at last available from both Amazon and iTunes. In The Mouth of the Whale can also be bought in Nook format, and I'm told that Evening's Empires they should be available on Nook any day now.

Unlike, say Kindle Direct Publishing, where you can upload your formatted book with a mouse-click or finger jab because you are interacting directly with a combined publisher and retailer, commercial ebook publishing is a bit more complicated - especially when a British publisher is dealing with retailers in another country. In this case, two digital distributors where involved: the publishers sent the ebook files to a distributor here in the the UK, which then sent them on to one in the US, which then registered the titles and turned them over to retailers, who processed them and made them available to readers. It was that handover to retailers where a bit of a glitch has delayed publication; the process is usually automatic, but the software stalled, and so the books have had to be pushed through by hand ('pushed through' is the actual technical term, reminding us that the net really is just a series of pipes). All of this activity, exposed by that pernicious glitch, reminds us that mass-market ebook publishing isn't quite as cheap and labour-free as we might imagine.

But anyway! At last all four Quiet War novels are available in both the UK and the US. And the two short story collections, Stories of the Quiet War and Life After Wartime are also available, although only on Kindle. I don't have access to the rest of the pipes, right now. . .

UPDATE 25/07/14 The ebook of Evening's Empires is now available from Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Some Other Things I'm Doing Next Month

First of all, I'm appearing at the above, on a panel exploring the thematic differences between SF and fantasy. More details here. And this is my schedule for the World SF Convention:

Bagpuss vs. Treguard
Thursday 15:00 - 16:30
Alex Ingram, Juliana Goulart, Paul McAuley, Sarita Robinson, James Harvey.

Why Aliens are Cool again
Thursday 18:00 - 19:00
Stephen Foulger, Dougal Dixon, Paul McAuley, Gert van Dijk, Jonathan Cowie

Space on Screen
Friday 15:00 - 16:30
Jaine Fenn, Chris Baker, Bridget Landry, Paul McAuley, Alastair Reynolds

Saturday 15:00 - 16:00 (at the PS Publishing Dealer's Table)

Reading: Paul McAuley
Sunday 11:30 - 12:00

Botanical Conquistadors
Sunday 18:00 - 19:00 Helen Pennington , Paul McAuley, Howard Davidson, Dr Lewis Dartnell

Monday, July 21, 2014

100 Best Science Fiction Films

Time Out has organised a wide-ranging poll to work up a snap-shot of the current top 100 science fiction films. I was one of the participants: for what it's worth, here's my top ten (sneakily listed in chronological order so I didn't have to rank them, although I do have a favourite, as you'll see), and a short explanatory note. All but one of my choices are featured in the top 100, by the way.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951)
Road To The Stars (Doroga k zvezdam) (Pavel Klushantsev, 1957)
La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962)
Quatermass And The Pit (Roy Ward Baker, 1967)
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
The Man Who Fell To Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)
Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)
Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985)
Starship Troopers (Paul Verhoeven, 1997)
Children Of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006)

Almost 50 years after I first watched it with slack-jawed wonder, I still think that Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is not only the greatest science-fiction film, but also one of the best films ever made. Quatermass and the Pit deals with similar themes of uplift and fall within the confines of Hobb’s Lane and its Tube station. Road to the Stars (a significant influence on Kubrick) begins with a portrait of rocket pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and ends with an expedition to Mars; like 2001's Pan-Am shuttle and space station, it’s a reminder of the ambitious futures we have lost. Alien introduced an iconic monster and one of science-fiction’s best heroines, while the cluttered, grimy claustrophobia of its spaceship inverts Kubrick’s chilly antiseptic aesthetic. La Jetée’s haunting examination of time and memory, the portrayal of an alien seduced and corrupted by human appetites in The Man Who Fell to Earth, and Children of Men’s story of loss and redemption, prove that science-fiction films can move the heart as well as the mind. And the blackly comic satires of Brazil and Starship Troopers, and the stark warning of The Day the Earth Stood Still, are all still cuttingly relevant: a reminder that, at its best, science fiction holds up a distorting mirror to ourselves and our times.

UPDATE Amended because The Man Who Fell to Earth was made in 1976 not 1987. And Quatermass And The Pit was 1967 not 1957...
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