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Subject: rec.arts.sf.written Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This article was archived around: 24 Jun 2001 13:27:04 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: sf
All FAQs posted in: rec.arts.sf.written, rec.arts.sf.misc
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Archive-name: sf/written-faq
Last change: Mon Jun 18 08:30:47 EDT 2001 Changes; 7. What is science fiction? ---------------------------------------------------------------------- This is the frequently asked questions (FAQ) list for rec.arts.sf.written. If you have written something you think belongs in the FAQ that you don't see here and want included, please send it to me, Evelyn Leeper (evelynleeper@geocities.com), as well as any corrections or additions you think should be made. [Oh, and in answer to a somewhat frequently asked question, Evelyn in this case is a woman's name.] Table of Contents 0. Introduction 1. Story identification requests 2. Spoilers 3. What books or stories are about X? A. Cyberpunk B. Steampunk C. Alternate Histories D. Transformation Stories E. Gender Issues F. King Arthur and Robin Hood G. Jewish SF H. Mormon SF I. Christian SF J. Only non-human characters K. Post-apocalypse L. Other 4. What books have been written by author X? 5. List of the Hugo, Nebula, or World Fantasy Award winners 6. Does anyone want to talk about X? 7. What is science fiction? 8. What is the difference between science fiction and fantasy? 8a. Isn't magical realism just another name for fantasy? 8b. Why are fantasy works nominated for Hugo Awards? 9. The SF-LOVERS Digest 10. Star Trek 11. Common abbreviations 12. Various questions about multiple editions, long-awaited books,etc. A. Iain M. Banks B. The sequel to Steven R. Boyett's ARCHITECT OF SLEEP C. The next book in David Brin's Uplift series D. The next book from Steven Brust E. The next book in Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series F. The next book in Glen Cook's Black Company series G. The third book in P. C. Hodgell's God Stalk series H. Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana ending I. The next book in S. M. Stirling's Draka series J. The sequel to David R. Palmer's THRESHOLD K. [deleted] L. The next book in Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe M. The next book in Catherine Asaro's "Skolian Web" series N. The next Ken MacLeod book (and reading order) O. The fourth book in Alexei Panshin's Anthony Villers series P. The next Merlin book from Nicolai Tolstoy Q. [deleted] R. The third book in Paul Edwin Zimmer's Border series S. The third book in Meredith Pierce's Darkangel trilogy T. The fifth book in the Chtorr series U. The next book in Vernor Vinge's Slow Zone series and the annotated FIRE UPON THE DEEP 13. Clarke's Laws 14. SF themes in music 15. Oldest Living SF Authors 16A. Black SF authors 16B. Asian/Asian-American SF authors 17. Good SF bookstores in town Z and ordering by mail/Web 17a. Are chain bookstores evil? 18. What is Johnny Rico's ethnic group in STARSHIP TROOPERS? 19. In what order should I read: A. Lois McMaster Bujold's "Vorkosigan" series? B. Steven Brust's "Dragaeran" series? C. Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series? D. Ken MacLeod's books? E. Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series? F. Iain M. Banks's "Culture" series? 20. Science Fiction Book Club 21. Recent Obituaries 22. SF ENCYCLOPEDIA et al 23. What is the difference between "mass-market" and "trade" paperbacks? Why do some books come out in trade paperback instead of the more affordable mass-market format? What about A, B, and C format in Britain? 24. What do the letters "PJF" after Steven Brust's name mean? 25. Is Megan Lindholm writing under a pseudonym? 26. Who is William Ashbless? 27. Who is Kilgore Trout? 28. Pronunciation of Cherryh 29. Stephen Jay Gould and Steven Gould 30. Sturgeon's Law 31. What is the Thor Power Tools decision and how did it affect publishing? 32. What is the best science fiction magazine to subscribe to? 33. How much do authors get in royalties? 34. Who said: A. "He's a chimp! She's the Pope! They're cops!" B. "The Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12." C. "War God of Israel/The Thing with Three Souls" D. "Science fiction should get out of the classroom and back in the gutter where it belongs!" E. "Life is like a simile." 35. Would the windmills in Kim Stanley Robinson's "Mars" books work? 36. What's the world's shortest science fiction story? 37. What are the books that come up again and again in rec.arts.sf.written? 38. What are good SF books for children/young adults? 39. Spelling 99. Science Fiction Archives ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 0. Introduction rec.arts.sf.written is a newsgroup devoted to discussions of written SF. It is a high-volume newsgroup and this article is intended to help reduce the number of unnecessary postings, thereby making it more useful and enjoyable to everyone. "SF" as used here means "speculative fiction" and includes science fiction, fantasy, horror (a.k.a. dark fantasy), etc. If you have not already done so, please read the articles in news.announce.newusers. They contain a great deal of useful information about network etiquette and convention. If you have any bibliographic or similar questions, please try the Internet Speculative Fiction Database at http://www.sfsite.com/isfdb/index.html. Before we begin, two pieces of net.etiquette. Both of these are mentioned in news.announce.newusers, but since they are so frequently violated, and at least one of them is particularly relevant to this group, we mention them here: SPOILER WARNINGS: Many people feel that much of the enjoyment of a book is ruined if they know certain things about it, especially when those things are surprise endings or mysteries. On the other hand, they also want to know whether or not a book is worth reading, or they may be following a particular thread of conversation where such information may be revealed. The solution to this is to put the words SPOILER in your header, or in the text of your posting. You can also put a ctl-L character in the *first* column for your readers who are using rn. Some people think that spoiler warnings are not necessary. We don't understand why, and do not want to discuss it. Use your best judgment. Some people say that since not all news readers honor the ctl-L, you should insert twenty or so blank lines as well. My personal opinion is that I hate having to page through those blank lines because some people's newsreaders are antiquated, but it's up to you. REPLIES TO REQUESTS AND QUESTIONS: When you think that many people will know an answer to a question, or will have an answer to a request, RESPOND VIA E-MAIL!!! And if you don't know the answer, but want to know, DON'T POST TO THE NET asking for the answer, ask VIA E-MAIL! If you think a lot of people will want the same information, you might suggest that the person summarize to the net. Please keep in mind two points: 1. Always remember that there is a live human being at the other end of the wires. In other words, please write your replies with the same courtesy you would use in talking to someone face-to-face. 2. Try to recognize humor and irony in postings. Tone of voice does not carry in ASCII print, and postings are often snapped off quickly, so that humorous intent may not be obvious. More destructive and vicious arguments have been caused by this one fact of net existence than any other. It will help if satiric/ironic/humorous comments are marked with the "smiley face," :-) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Story identification requests "Does anyone know this story?" <plot summary follows> It used to be said that you should ask that all responses be e-mailed back to you, then post the correct answer to the net. These days, no one does that, and people seem to enjoy the discussion that often follows. Nevertheless, at least check if someone else has responded before you post a bare-bones reply. And *do* put a useful subject line on your posting. For example, "Subject: ID req: telepathic dog story" is more likely to get people who know the answer to respond than "Subject: story request". [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com].] Four of the most common requested stories are: 1) There are some time travellers to the age of dinosaurs. They have to stay on a special floating path to avoid changing the future. However, one steps off the path. When they return to the future, things are subtly changed. The guy who steps off the path then looks at his shoe and finds a dead butterfly. == A SOUND OF THUNDER by Ray Bradbury This has been anthologized many times, but according to William Contento's database on www.sff.net, the most recent is Bradbury's collection CLASSIC STORIES VOLUME 1 (Bantam 1990, 1995). It can also be found in Asimov & Greenberg's anthology THE GREAT SF STORIES: 14 (DAW 1986), which is often available in used book stores. [Provided by Robert Schmunk, [rbs@skatecity.com]]. 2) An expedition to a dead star discovers that the supernova had destroyed an entire civilization. When they compute the exact time the star exploded, they find that it was seen on earth at the right time to be the Star of Bethlehem. == THE STAR by Arthur Clarke 3) A special kind of glass has been invented where light takes years to pass through it. Panes of this glass are hung in scenic areas and then sold to be used as picture windows. == LIGHT OF OTHER DAYS by Bob Shaw: - "Light of Other Days" is the title of the original short story, first published in ASF 8/66, and frequently anthologised. - OTHER DAYS, OTHER EYES is the title of the "fix-up" (novel), which incorporates "Light of Other Days" and three of the other slow glass stories: "Burden of Proof" (ASF 5/67), "A Dome of Many- Coloured Glass" (FAN 4/72) and the eponymous novella (AMZ 5/72). 4) The protagonist of this novel lives through a "time loop" wherein he would die, return to his youth (only a little later each time), live a new life each time, but always die and re-commence a cycle. In the course of one life he encountered a woman who experiences the same phenomenon. == REPLAY by Ken Grimwood ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Spoilers In case you missed it above: Many people feel that much of the enjoyment of a book is ruined if they know certain things about it, especially when those things are surprise endings or mysteries. On the other hand, they also want to know whether or not a book is worth reading, or they may be following a particular thread of conversation where such information may be revealed. The solution to this is to put the words SPOILER in your header, or in the text of your posting. You can also put a ctl-L character in the *first* column for your readers who are using rn. Some people think that spoiler warnings are not necessary. We don't understand why, and do not want to discuss it. Use your best judgment. [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. "What books or stories are about X?" There are several lists published of works in specific sub-genres: A. Cyberpunk Laura Burchard defined cyberpunk as "a subgenre of SF which (usually) combines high technology ("cyber") with an alienated, often criminal, subculture ("punk"). Some people consider cyberpunk to be a Literary Movement; others consider it a marketing gimmick. Arguing about which it is is pointless and not encouraged in this newsgroup." There is a news group called alt.cyberpunk which is the best place to discuss cyberpunk. A comprehensive list of cyberpunk works can be gotten by sending e-mail to John Wichers at wichers@husc4.harvard.edu, and there is an alt.cyberpunk FAQ, edited by "Frank" (frank@knarf.demon.co.uk) available at http://www.knarf.demon.co.uk/alt-cp.htm. There is also another cyberpunk bibliography (novels and anthologies) at http://maskull.home.mindspring.com/cpunk.htm. Robert Schmunk (rbs@skatecity.com) points out that "cyberpunk must be dead, because Time magazine has done a cover article on it." B. Steampunk Steampunk in analogous to cyberpunk, and refers to SF stories set in the 19th Century and involving technology of that era. There is no bibliography as yet, but for now, http://www.io.com/~bowman/Falkenstein/Fiction.html lists some of the well-known steampunk works. C. Alternate Histories "Uchronia," a large and searchable bibliography of alternate history stories is maintained by Robert Schmunk (rbs@skatecity.com) and is available on the Web at http://www.uchronia.net. CAVEAT: Flat text copies of the bibliography may be found at various science fiction archives around the net. However, they are archived Usenet postings and none will be dated more recently than March 1997. D. Transformation Stories A bibliography of books, stories, movies, and other works involving physical transformation (through lycanthropy, science, magic, etc.) is available at http://www.halcyon.com/phaedrus/translist/translist.html. A text-only version is also available at the same address. [Provided by Phaedrus [transform@halcyon.com]. E. Gender Issues A bibliography of stories which address gender issues through science fiction is available on sflovers.rutgers.edu (Q#98). F. King Arthur and Robin Hood Arthurian and Robin Hood FAQs posted to rec.arts.books and news.answers. G. Jewish SF S. H. Silver (shsilver@ameritech.net) has a list of Jewish SF stories at http://www.sfsite.com/~silverag/jewishsf.html. He also has Pluto in SF, First Contact, debut stories & novels, Baseball in SF, and Chicago in SF bibliographies. H. Mormon SF A long, but not exhaustive, annotated list, with links to other materials, may be found at http://www.adherents.com/lit/sf_lds.html. I. Christian SF A bibliography by the late Ross Pavlac is at http://www.enteract.com/~mpavlac/christsf.htm. There is also the Christian Fandom website at http://www.christian-fandom.org/christian-fandom/. J. Only non-human characters Suggestions so far include: Robert Asprin's BUG WARS John Brunner's CRUCIBLE OF TIME Mary Caraker's WATERSONG Arthur C. Clarke's "Second Dawn" Samuel R. Delany's EINSTEIN INTERSECTION Diane E. Gallagher's ALIEN DARK (mostly) Raymond F. Jones & Lester del Rey's WEEPING MAY TARRY Ross Rocklynne's SUN DESTROYERS H. Beam Piper's FIRST CYCLE Robert J. Sawyer's "Quintaglio" Trilogy: FAR-SEER, FOSSIL HUNTER, and FOREIGNER Robert Silverberg's AT WINTER'S END and THE NEW SPRINGTIME Olaf Stapledon's STAR MAKER and NEBULA MAKER James Tiptree's "Love Is the Plan, the Plan Is Death" K. Post-apocalypse There is a bibliography and links at http://www.reed.edu/~karl/postapoc/. L. Other As with requests for plots, titles, or authors, ask that all replies be e-mailed to you and that you will summarize (set the Followup-to to "poster" to encourage e-mail response). Note that a summary is not just concatenating all the replies together and posting the resulting file. Take the time to strip headers, combine duplicate information, and write a short summary. [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 4. "What books have been written by author X?" "What books are in series Y?" A number of bibliographies have been compiled and posted to the net by John Wenn. These bibliographies also contain info on which books are in a series or in the same universe. The most up-to-date bibliographies are availiable via ftp from ftp.std.com [user anonymous, any password], directory pub/jwenn. They are also in the SF archives on sflovers.rutgers.edu (Q#98). File names are generally LastName.Firstname (e.g. Niven.Larry). Case *does* count. Requests for more bibliographies may be made to John at jwenn@world.std.com. [Provided by John Wenn [jwenn@world.std.com].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 5. List of the Hugo, Nebula, or World Fantasy Award winners Lists of award winners, including Hugo Awards, Nebula Awards, and many others, can be found at Laurie Mann's http://www.dpsinfo.com/awardweb/. [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 6. "Does anyone want to talk about X?" If nobody seems to be discussing what you want to talk about, post a (polite) message opening the discussion. Don't just say, "Does anyone want to talk about X" or "I really like X" however; try to have something interesting to say about the topic to get discussion going. Don't be angry or upset if no one responds. It may be that X is just a personal taste of your own, or quite obscure. Or it may be that X was discussed to death a few weeks ago, *just* before you came into the group. (If this is the case, you'll probably know, though, because some rude fool will probably flame you for "Bringing that up *AGAIN*!!!" Ignore them.) [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 7. What is science fiction? This subject has been hashed out endlessly, and if you really want to see all the definitions proposed (or at least a very substantial subset), they have been collected by Neyir Cenk Gokce [gokce@panix.com] at http://www.panix.com/~gokce/sf_defn.html, or Beth and Richard Treitel's page at http://web.treitel.org/sf/sf.html. The only definition that seems to work is Damon Knight's: "Science Fiction is what we point at when we say it." Unless you have something really new and amazing, don't start this topic. [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com] and Taki Kogoma [quirk@vesta.unm.edu].] [If you *think* you have something new and amazing, try applying it to the following cases: alternate history novels novels set on another planet with no contact with Earth and no unknown technology (e.g., HELLO SUMMER, GOODBYE by Michael Coney, and possibly AGAINST A DARK BACKGROUND by Iain M. Banks) SWORDSPOINT by Ellen Kushner] As for the origin of the term itself, according to Sam Moskowitz in EXPLORERS OF THE INFINITE: SHAPERS OF SCIENCE FICTION (page 240): "The first issue of SCIENCE WONDER STORIES was dated June 1929. ... Most important, [Hugo Gernsback] coined, in his editorial in the first SCIENCE WONDER STORIES, the term 'science fiction,' which was to become the permanent name of the genre, completely eclipsing 'scientifiction.'" ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 8. What is the difference between science fiction and fantasy? See Q#7. This also has been done to death. Virtually every answer you give will fail to clearly indicate which category a large number of books belong to. Familiar books mentioned that test the boundary conditions include Anne McCaffrey's "Dragon" series, Piers Anthony's "Apprentice Adept" series, STAR WARS, and anything that uses FTL. The most concise definition I've heard was given by John Clute in a radio broadcast 22 March 1997: " "Science fiction: the model is that it is a kind of story which argues from this world a kind of possible outcome. It's possibly an improbable outcome, but it is arguable. Fantasy essentially, as I have been seeing it, is a series of stories, self-coherent stories (a term we use, kind of a bad neologism to describe stories which as [it] were understand themselves as stories; they're told stories), that are set in worlds that are technically impossible, that we can't argue. We may believe in them, but we can't argue them." A more complete listing of the borderline cases includes: Poul Anderson's "Operation" stories, collected in OPERATION CHAOS Piers Anthony's "Apprentice Adept" series James Blaylock's "Elfin Ship" Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Darkover" series David Brin's PRACTICE EFFECT Rick Cook's "Wizard's Bane" series L. Sprague de Camp & Fletcher Pratt"s "Incomplete Enchanter" series Charles de Lint's SVAHA C. S. Friedman's "Coldfire" series Lyndon Hardy's "Master of the Five Magics" series Robert A. Heinlein's MAGIC, INC. Rosemary Kirstein's STEERSWOMAN and THE OUTSKIRTER'S SECRET Julian May's "Pliocene Exile" series Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonrider" series Walter M. Miller's CANTICLE FOR LEIBOVITZ James Morrow's THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS Kristine Kathryn Rusch's ALIEN INFLUENCES Robert Silverberg's "Majipoor" series Christopher Stasheff's "Warlock" series Michael Swanwick's IRON DRAGON'S DAUGHTER Sheri Tepper's "The World of the True Game" books Lawrence Watt-Evans's "Three Worlds" series Lawrence Watt-Evans's CYBORG AND THE SORCERERS and THE WIZARD AND THE WAR MACHINE Walter Jon Williams's METROPOLITAN and CITY ON FIRE Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" Roger Zelazny's LORD OF LIGHT (anything with faster-than-light (FTL) travel, time travel, parallel worlds/universes, psionics, or shoddy science) (Often someone suggests that fantasy and science fiction can be easily divided and this list is brought up, the original poster responds by saying they haven't read any of these so they can't say which category they go in. This is not likely to convince people that such a division is possible. :-) ) Of course, you can also check out Jerry Oltion's essay on this in the March 1997 issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION. [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 8a. Isn't magical realism just another name for fantasy? This is regularly hashed out; see http://www.geocities.com/evelynleeper/magreal.htm for a summary of the discussion, a list of books, possible definitions, and more. [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 8b. Why are fantasy works nominated for Hugo Awards? Constitution of the World Science Fiction Society Article II -- Hugo Awards Section 2.2: Categories. 2.2.1: Best Novel. A science fiction OR FANTASY story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year. ... [caps mine] [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 9. The SF-LOVERS Digest The SF-LOVERS Digest is a service for those who cannot read the rec.arts.sf newsgroups directly. It is a compilation of the articles posted to sf.misc, sf.announce, sf.fandom, sf.movies, sf.tv, sf.written and sf.reviews which is sent out periodically via e-mail. The moderator, Saul Jaffe, does a certain amount of editing when compiling the Digest. Duplicate information is eliminated and the articles are organized by topic. Also, most meta-discussions are not included in the Digest. To subscribe, unsubscribe, report problems, etc., send e-mail to SF-LOVERS-REQUEST@RUTGERS.EDU. To post articles to the various newsgroups use the following addresses: Topic Address ----- ------- Written SF sf-lovers-written@rutgers.edu Sf on Television sf-lovers-tv@rutgers.edu Sf Films sf-lovers-movies@rutgers.edu General discussions that don't fit specifically in the other topic headings sf-lovers-misc@rutgers.edu Due to the high volume of mail, it's quite likely that administrative type messages sent to the wrong address will be ignored. [Provided by Saul Jaffe.] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 10. Star Trek/Babylon-5/Dr. Who There are hierarchies of newsgroups for these topics. Articles about them, including books about them, should be posted there. rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5 rec.arts.startrek.* rec.arts.drwho Do not post flames about people violating this guideline. Use e-mail to request they follow it. It's likely that this person is reading rec.arts.sf.written via the SF-LOVERS Digest and has no access to netnews or rec.arts.startrek. If so, that person will not see your flame because discussions of what's appropriate in the newsgroup are not included in the SF-LOVERS digest. [Provided by Evelyn Leeper evelynleeper@geocities.com].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 11. Common abbreviations AFAIK -- "As Far As I Know" BTW -- "By the way" FIAWOL-- "Fandom is a way of life" FIAJAGDH-- "Fandom is just a ghod damned hobby" FTL -- "Faster than light" FWIW -- "For What It's Worth" FYI -- "For your information" IIRC -- "If I remember correctly" IMAO -- "In my arrogant opinion" IMHO -- "In my humble (honest) opinion" ISBN -- "International Standard Book Number" ObSF -- "Obligatory SF reference" RASF -- "rec.arts.sf" ROFL -- "Rolling on the floor, laughing" ROTF -- "Rolling on the floor" RPG -- "Role playing games", like D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) RSN -- "Real Soon Now" (== within the next decade or two) SMOF -- "Secret Master Of Fandom" STL -- "Slower Than Light" YMMV -- "your mileage may vary" wrt -- "with respect to" ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 12. Various questions about multiple editions, long-awaited books,etc. Note: It usually takes about one year from the time a manuscript is turned in until the book actually hits the stores. A. What's this I hear about two different editions of THE STATE OF THE ART by Iain M. Banks? "The State of the Art" is a longish novella, set in Iain M. Banks' popular 'Culture' universe. It was first published in a slim volume entitled "The State of the Art," in 1989 by Mark V. Ziesing, an American small press, ISBN 0-929480-06-6. In 1991, Orbit (a UK publisher) brought out a volume also entitled "The State of the Art." This contains the aforementioned novella, plus seven short stories, one of which ("A Gift from the Culture") is also set in the "Culture" universe. ISBN 0-356-19669-0. It has had both hardback and paperback editions in the UK but has not (AFAIK) been published in the US. [Provided by Mike Scott [Mike@moose.demon.co.uk].] [See also question 19F.] B. The sequel to Steven R. Boyett's ARCHITECT OF SLEEP The full story of this is at http://members.tripod.com/~steveboy/archetyp.html. C. The next book in David Brin's Uplift series All three books of the latest series are now out: BRIGHTNESS REEF, INFINITY'S SHORE, and HEAVEN'S REACH. Also, in David Brin's novel, SUNDIVER, he make frequent mention of a previous episode involving Jacob Demwa saving the Vanilla Needle and his first wife falling to her death in the process. The details are sufficient that many suspect that this story was actually written. As far as anyone knows, if it has been written, it has not been published. D. The next book from Steven Brust DRAGON, a new Vlad novel was published in 1998; the first five chapters are on the Tor website. ISSOLA, a Vlad novel, will be published in July 2001--it follows ORCA in the internal chronology. The final set of Khaavren novels will be: THE PATHS OF THE DEAD (this will appear to be first), THE ENCHANTRESS OF DZUR MOUNTAIN, and THE LORD OF CASTLE BLACK. These will be known collectively as THE VISCOUNT OF ADRILANKHA. E. The next book in Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series and the last book in his Homecoming series The fifth volume, HEARTFIRE, was published in July 1998, by Tor. A sixth and final(?) book, called THE CRYSTAL CITY, is projected. ALso, EARTHFALL and EARTHBORN (books four and five in the Homecoming series) are out. This completes that series. F. The next book in Glen Cook's Black Company series All of the four new Black Company books (collectively known as "Glittering Stone") are out: BLEAK SEASONS was published in 1996, SHE IS THE DARKNESS was published in September 1997, WATER SLEEPS was published in March 1999, and SOLDIERS LIVE was published in June 2000, all from Tor. Paperback publication is usually a year after hardback. According to some, Cook has an eighth novel in the Dread Empire series, but doesn't expect it to be published (since the others didn't sell well.) G. The next book in P. C. Hodgell's God Stalk series Meisha Merlin has the rights to GOD STALK, DARK OF THE MOON, SEEKER'S MASK, and a fourth as yet unnamed book. Publication schedule is: 15 August 2000: DARK OF THE GODS, an omnibus collection of her first two novels GOD STALK and DARK OF THE MOON (hardcover and trade paperback) [out] 15 August 2001: SEEKER'S MASK (hardcover and trade paperback) 15 August 2002: untitled new novel in the series Details are http://www.meishamerlin.com. Current email address is meisha.merlin@usa.net. Snail mail is Meisha Merlin Publishing, Inc., P. O. Box 7, Decatur GA 30031. H. Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana ending "How exactly is the meeting with the riselka at the end of Guy Gavriel Kay's TIGANA supposed to apply to the three characters who meet her and is there anything in the book which offers suggestions or is it just supposed to leave readers guessing?" The collective opinion of rec.arts.sf.written is that it is meant to leave the book deliberately open-ended, there being no indications in the book itself, beyond the obvious balance of probabilities. From an interview with Kay by Andrew Adams (aaa@dcs.st-and.ac.uk): Q: The end of Tigana with three men seeing a riselka suggests to some a hook for a sequel, to others merely an indication that "life goes on...". Do you have any plans to return to the Palm? GGK: The second theory is entirely correct. To put it another way, I wanted the sense that this whole very long story is NOT the whole story of these peoples' lives. No sequel was planned or hinted at. I think most thoughtful readers picked up on the point, but there have been an awful lot who have been waiting for the next volume. This depresses me, actually. And "Riselka" is indeed spelt "riselka," despite many creative attempts towards alternative spellings. It presumably comes from the Slavonic "rusalka" -- a female water spirit. [Provided by Mike Arnatov [mla1290@ggr.co.uk].] I. The next book in S. M. Stirling's Draka series DRAKON is now out from Baen. A prequel to the whole series, LAUGHTER OF THE GUNS, is currently in limbo, as well as UNTO US A CHILD, a sequel to DRAKON. An anthology of Draka stories by other authors, DRAKAS!, was published by Baen in November 2000. J. The sequel to David R. Palmer's THRESHOLD The blurb on the book to the contrary notwithstanding, it doesn't exist. [Provided by Ahasuerus the Wandering Jew [ahasuer@clark.net].] K. [deleted] L. The next book in Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe According to Miller and Lee, there are four so far: CONFLICT OF HONORS, AGENT OF CHANGE, and CARPE DIEM, all published by Del Rey; and PLAN B, published in a signed, limited edition by Meisha Merlin They also have a chapbook called "Two Tales of Korval", available from the authors themselves since December 1995. "It's a charming two-story book set in the Liaden Universe, well worth reading for the hooked." There are two prequels, as yet unpublished: LOCAL CUSTOM and SCOUT'S PROGRESS. [Extracted from a Liaden home page by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee [kinzel@mint.net and rolanni@mint.net.] Updates: PLAN B has now been published in an autographed limited-run hardcover and a trade paperback from Meisha Merlin as well. A three-in-one omnibus of the first three books titled PARTNERS IN NECESSITY appeared in February of 2000. SCOUT'S PROGRESS and LOCAL CUSTOM debuted together as a single volume in February 2001 titled PILOT'S CHOICE. A new novelette, "Balance of Trade", was published in ABSOLUTE MAGNITUDE, issue 11. The "Coming in the Next Issue" feature promises that Issue 12 of ABSOLUTE MAGNITUDE will have another Liaden story, "Choice of Weapons." [Updates from Rich Horton [rrhorton@prodigy.net].] Future plans: I DARE has been turned in should be published in February 2002. Contracted for February 2003 is BALANCE OF TRADE (working title). Contracts are in the works for a book each for 2004 and 2005 to deal with the teaming of Jela and Cantra. Ace mass market editions of the seven existing Liaden Universe(R) novels are set to begin appearing early 2002. The other frequent question they've been getting: "Will there be a one volume collection of the short works any time soon?" The answer is: Not currently in the cards. One reason is that we've got a backlog of short story requests and we're looking at five or six "write this real soon" items and we're two weeks behind on one due last month. Things may clarify after next summer's book tour, but not likely before, so right now the chapbooks or the originating magazines are the source for those. [Updates from Steve Miller.] M. The next book in Catherine Asaro's "Skolian Web" series The fourth book was THE RADIANT SEAS. It came out January 1999. The paperback of THE LAST HAWK was available in November 1998. The fifth book in the saga, THE QUANTUM ROSE, was serialized in Analog, in three parts, starting with the May 1999 issue. The Analog serial plus its sequel came out together as one book from Tor, in December 2000. THE QUANTUM ROSE is a stand-alone novel and doesn't depend on any previous books. The sixth book in the saga, ASCENDANT SUN, came out from Tor in February 2001, and the seventh book, SPHERICAL HARMONIC, will also come out from Tor, probably in 2001. ASCENDANT SUN is the sequel to both THE RADIANT SEAS and THE LAST HAWK. However, it can be read as a stand alone novel. SPHERICAL HARMONIC is also a stand-alone novel. The first three books, PRIMARY INVERSION, CATCH THE LIGHTNING, and THE LAST HAWK are stand-alone novels that don't depend on each other. All of them take place in the same universe and are tales of the Ruby Dynasty, but they can be read in any order. Although THE RADIANT SEAS is a stand-alone novel as well, it is also the sequel to PRIMARY INVERSION. Other Skolian Empire stories: The novella "Aurora in Four Voices" is the cover story for the December 1998 Analog. It takes place about fifteen years prior to PRIMARY INVERSION and has Soz from PI as one of its two main characters. The novelette "Light and Shadow" appeared in the April 1994 issue of Analog. It is a story about Kelric, the main character in THE LAST HAWK, and takes place a number of years prior to HAWK. The Skolian Empire books and the Ruby Dynasty books are the same. For more information, see the Asaro Books web site at http://www.sff.net/people/asaro/. N. The next Ken MacLeod book (and reading order) THE CASSINI DIVISION, THE STONE CANAL, and THE SKY ROAD are currently available in the US from Tor. THE STAR FRACTION will be published in hardcover in August 2001. COSMONAUT KEEP is out in the UK and is due out in the US in May 2001. A sequel, tentatively titled DARK LIGHT, is scheduled to be published in the UK in November 2001. The first series of books were first published in the UK in the following order: THE STAR FRACTION, THE STONE CANAL, THE CASSINI DIVISION, THE SKY ROAD. By internal chronology, the ordering is loosely: THE STONE CANAL, set starting in the 1970s, and also in the far future. THE STAR FRACTION, set in the 2040s in the UK THE CASSINI DIVISION, set some time after the future part of THE STONE CANAL THE SKY ROAD is an alternate future, which Rich Horton describes thusly: "The earlier parts ... of THE STONE CANAL and all of THE STAR FRACTION are set in a common past to both THE SKY ROAD and to THE CASSINI DIVISION, but one of the events in THE STONE CANAL goes a different way in THE SKY ROAD." Therefore, it is not consistent with THE CASSINI DIVISION. It is also set in two time periods, 2059 and several centuries in the future. According to some, THE STONE CANAL is the best introduction to the series, as it stands on its own the best and gives some of the background for relationships that are important in THE CASSINI DIVISION and THE SKY ROAD. Others say to start with THE CASSINI DIVISION, which gets going faster, and also stands on it own. COSMONAUT KEEP is completely independent of that series (referred to as "The Fall Revolution," at least by one person.) [Thanks to Patrick Nielsen Hayden [pnh@panix.com], Rich Horton [rrhorton@prodigy.net] and Tom Woamck [thomas.womack@ox.compsoc.net] for most of this information.] O. The fourth book of Alexei Panshin's Anthony Villers series Three books were published in the Anthony Villers series: STAR WELL, THE THURB REVOLUTION, and MASQUE WORLD. A fourth book was promised at the end of the third book and was to be titled, THE UNIVERSAL PANTOGRAPH. It was never published. P. The next Merlin book from Nikolai Tolstoy Though there was promised a sequel to Tolstoy's book, Tolstoy lost a libel case (long story having to do with what some British officers did and didn't do in 1945) a few years ago and is legally bankrupt, and whatever money he might be able to make writing books would go to the folks who won the case. It is unlikely, therefore, that he will spend the effort. [Provided by Ahasuerus the Wandering Jew (ahasuer@clark.net).] Q. [deleted] R. The third book in Paul Edwin Zimmer's The Dark Border series "There is no third book. Despite the somewhat cliffhanger ending, it is, and has always been intended to be, a duology." A GATHERING OF HEROES is set in the same world, but does not form a trilogy with the first two. There is also INGULF THE MAD, published by Ace in 1989. S. The third book in Meredith Pierce's Darkangel trilogy This was in fact published, as THE PEARL OF THE SOUL OF THE WORLD by Joy Street Books, a division of Little, Brown & Co. Harcourt Brace/Magic Carpet re-published all three books as mass market paperbacks: THE DARKANGEL and A GATHERING OF GARGOYLES in 1998 and THE PEARL OF THE SOUL OF THE WORLD in April or May 1999. There was also an omnibus from "Guild America Books" of the three closer to the date of the original hardcover publications. T. The fifth book in the Chtorr series This is currently called A METHOD FOR MADNESS. While Gerrold has some of this written, other projects are occupying much of his time, and no release date has been set." [Provided by Brendon Towle (towle@ils.nwu.edu).] U. The next book in Vernor Vinge's Slow Zone series and the annotated FIRE UPON THE DEEP A DEEPNESS IN THE SKY was published in February 1999 by Tor/St. Martin's Press. As of Aug 2000, Vinge has delivered the annotated text of A FIRE UPON THE DEEP (as it appeared on the 1993 "Hugo and Nebula Anthology" CD-ROM) to Tor, who are (is?) looking into publishing it as etext. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 13. Clarke's Laws Clarke's Law, later Clarke's First Law, can be found in the essay "Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination", in the collection "Profiles of the Future", 1962, revised 1973, Harper & Row, paperback by Popular Library, ISBN 0-445-04061-0. It reads: # [1] When a distinguished but elderly scientist # states that something is possible, he is almost # certainly right. When he states that something # is impossible, he is very probably wrong. Note that the adverbs in the two sentences are different. Clarke continues: # Perhaps the adjective "elderly" requires definition. In physics, # mathematics, and astronautics it means over thirty; in the other # disciplines, senile decay is sometimes postponed to the forties. # There are, of course, glorious exceptions; but as every researcher # just out of college knows, scientists of over fifty are good for # nothing but board meetings, and should at all costs be kept out # of the laboratory! Isaac Asimov added a further comment with Asimov's Corollary to Clarke's Law, which he expounded in an essay logically titled "Asimov's Corollary". This appeared in the February 1977 issue of F&SF, and can be found in the collection "Quasar, Quasar, Burning Bright", 1978, Doubleday; no ISBN on my copy. Asimov's Corollary reads: % [1AC] When, however, the lay public rallies round an % idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly % scientists and supports that idea with great fervor % and emotion -- the distinguished but elderly % scientists are then, after all, probably right. So much for Clarke's First Law. A few pages later on, in the final paragraph of the same essay, Clarke writes: # [2] But the only way of discovering the limits of the # possible is to venture a little way past them into # the impossible. To this he attaches a footnote: # The French edition of [presumably, the first edition of] this # book rather surprised me by calling this Clarke's Second Law. # (See page [number] for the First, which is now rather well- # known.) I accept the label, and have also formulated a Third: # # [3] Any sufficiently advanced technology is # indistinguishable from magic. # # As three laws were good enough for Newton, I have modestly # decided to stop there. [Provided by Mark Brader.] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 14. SF themes in music A list of songs which have science fictional themes is maintained by Rich Kulawiec. This list is posted to news.answers periodically. If you can not find it there, e-mail Rich at rsk@gynko.circ.upenn.edu. Alternate e-mail addresses for Rich are rsk@ecn.purdue.edu or pur-ee!rsk. [Provide3d by Rich Kulawiec [rsk@gynko.circ.upenn.edu].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 15. Oldest Living SF Authors The major ones over the age of eighty are: Jack Williamson, 29 APR 1908 Nelson Bond, 1908 Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, 1910 David Kyle, 1912 Andre Norton, 1912 R. A. Lafferty, 7 NOV 1914 Wilson ("Bob") Tucker, 23 NOV 1914 Charles L. Harness, 29 DEC 1915 Jack Vance, 28 AUG 1916 Arthur C. Clarke, 16 DEC 1917 Philip Jose Farmer, 26 JAN 1918 E. C. Tubb, 15 OCT 1919 Frederik Pohl, 26 NOV 1919 Ray Bradbury, 22 AUG 1920 A more complete list can be found at http://www.sfsite.com/isfdb/oldest.html. Also worthy of mention are Frank Belknap Long, who died in 1994 at the age of 90, and E. Hoffman Price, who also died in 1988, also at the age of 90, and had published novels at 81, 82, 84, 85, 88, and 89. Gary Couzens suggests Geoffrey Dearmer (21 March 1893-18 August 1996), best known as a WWI poet, as the oldest SF author ever. Note: Do not post that X is dead unless you have heard this from a reputable source, such as a daily newspaper, or a reputable fan or author. Postings in other groups on the Net, and statements from friends such as, "Isn't X dead?" are not reputable sources! [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com].] ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 16A. Black SF authors Are there any black SF authors? Yes. The three most prominent are Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler and Steven Barnes. Others are Mary Aldridge, D. Christine Benders ("Hollow Bones"), LeVar Burton, James Nelson Coleman (SEEKER FROM THE STARS and THE NULL-FREQUENCY IMPULSER), Tananarive Due (THE BETWEEN), Nancy Farmer (THE EYE, THE EAR, AND THE ARM; young adult), John M. Faucette (AGE OF RUIN, CROWN OF INFINITY), Eric James Fullilove (THE STRANGER, CIRCLE OF ONE), Jewelle Gomez (THE GILDA STORIES, vampire epic), Virginia Hamilton ("The Justice Cycle" trilogy and young adult fantasies), Nalo Hopkinson (short stories and a novel, BROWN GIRL IN THE RING), A. M. Lightner (DAY OF THE DRONES; mostly young adult novels), Jesse Miller, Frieda Murray, Ishmael Reed, Jewell Parker Rhodes (VOODOO DREAMS, a novel about Marie Laveau), Charles R. Saunders (IMARO and THE QUEST FOR CUSH), and Nisi Shawl (short stories). Toni Morrison writes what is certainly fantasy, though she is not often thought of as an SF ("speculative fiction") writer. Walter Mosely is primarily known for mysteries, but he has written one SF novel, BLUE LIGHT. Butler and Hamilton have both won MacArthur Grants and are the only two SF writers to have done so. Dennis Lien (Dennis.K.Lien-1@tc.umn.edu) notes: "The FAQ list refers to 'Black SF Authors' as opposed to specifically 'African-American,' so it may be worth noting that Charles Saunders is, more strictly, Afro-Canadian (US-born but for a long time now a Canadian citizen, I believe)." Some other Black (but not African-American) SF authors: West Indian authors Julian Jay Savarin (the Lemmus time trilogy) and Edgar Mittelholzer (MY BONES AND MY FLUTE), and above all the recently-deceased Yoruba writer Amos Tutuola (THE PALM-WINE DRINKARD AND HIS DEAD PALM-WINE TAPSTER IN THE DEADS' TOWN; MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS; and others). It has been noted that both Alexander Pushkin and Alexander Dumas pere were black (by current standards) and wrote fantasy. (There is a bibliography of the work of "people of color in the field of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, and fantastical literature of any type)" at http://www.netgsi.com/~fcowboy/intro.html. Its definition of "people of color" may not agree with yours.) [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com] and others.] ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 16B. Asian/Asian-American SF authors Are there any Asian/Asian-American SF authors? Well, there are tons of them writing in Japanese (and other languages), but I'll stick to just the ones available in English; this list also includes Anglo-Asian authors: Kobo Abe, Brenda Clough, Ted Chiang, Tony Chiu, Amitav Ghosh, Sakyo Komatsu, Eric Kotani (Yoji Kondo), Haruki Murakami, Linda Nagata (though someone has said that she is not Asian--her spouse is), Somtow Sucharitkul/S. P. Somtow, Hiroe Suga, George Takei, William F. Wu. [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com] and others.] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 17. Good SF bookstores in town Z and ordering by mail/Web Evelyn C. Leeper (evelynleeper@geocities.com) maintains several lists of bookstores in various North American, European, African, and Asian cities at http://www.geocities.com/evelynleeper/bookshop.htm. These lists are *not* SF specific, but extensive commentary makes it pretty easy to sort those stores out from the rest. Stores that are known to ship worldwide by mail are so noted. There are also always amazon.com, borders.com, and barnesandnoble.com. http://www.bookshop.co.uk, http://www.amazon.co.uk, http://www.amazon.de, http://www.indigo.ca, and http://www.bookworm.com.au are possibilities for British, German, Canadian, and Australian books. For used books, try: http://www.bibliofind.com/ http://www.bookfinder.com/ http://www.abebooks.com/ http://www.alibris.com/ http://www.powells.com/ Powells is both new and used. It also turns up in several of the multi- dealer searches listed above. And in answer to a specific frequently asked question: There is no SF specialty bookstore in New York City. [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 17a. Are chain bookstores (particularly superstores) evil? Yes, if you live in an area which had several large, well-stocked independent bookstores that went out of business when a chain opened a megastore there. No, if you live in an area that had no bookstores (or only a mall bookstore) before the chain opened a megastore there. Which is a fancy way of saying your mileage may vary, and this topic is unlikely to be resolved by discussion here. [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 18. What is Johnny Rico's ethnic group in STARSHIP TROOPERS? From page 205 of the 1968 Berkeley edition (end of Chapter XIII): I said, "There ought to be one named _Magsaysay_." Bennie said, "What?" "Ramon Magsaysay," I explained. "Great man, great soldier -- probably be chief of psychological warfare if he was alive today. "Didn't you study any history?" "Well," admitted Bennie, "I learned that Simo'n Bolivar built the Pyramids, licked the Armada, and made the first trip to the Moon." "You left out marrying Cleopatra," I said. "Oh, that. Yup. Well, I guess every country has its own version of history." "I'm sure of it." I added something to myself and Bennie said, "What did you say?" "Sorry, Bernardo. Just an old saying in my own language. I suppose you could translate it, more or less, as `Home is where the heart is.'" "But what language was it?" "Tagalog. My native language." "Don't they talk Standard English where you come from?" "Oh, certainly. For business and school and so forth. We just talk the old speech around home a little. Traditions, you know." "Yeah, I know. My folks chatter in Espan~ol the same way. But where do you--" The speaker started playing "Meadowland"; Bennie broke into a grin. "Got a date with a ship! Watch yourself, fellow! See you." There is no room at all left for misinterpretation. Johnny Rico is a Filipino; Tagalog is a Philippine language, Ramon Magsaysay was a hero of the Philippine resistance, and many Filipinos have Spanish names. [Provided by Eric Raymond.] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 19. In what order should I read: A. Lois McMaster Bujold's "Vorkosigan" series? Opinion seems to be divided to reading them in order of the internal chronology (to avoid spoilers) or in order of publication. In either case, MIRROR DANCE, MEMORY, and KOMARR should be read last or the reader will likely miss some important connections. And I recommend reading SHARDS OF HONOR first in either case. The more recent editions of the Baen paperbacks have an internal chronology in the back of each book. By order of publication, the books in the series are SHARDS OF HONOR (1986), THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE (1986), ETHAN OF ATHOS (1986), FALLING FREE (1988), BORDERS OF INFINITY (1989), BROTHERS IN ARMS (1989), THE VOR GAME (1990), BARRAYAR (1991), MIRROR DANCE (1994), CETAGANDA (1996), MEMORY (1996), KOMARR (1998), and A CIVIL CAMPAIGN (1999). FALLING FREE and ETHAN OF ATHOS are basically independent of the other storylines. Bujold's other book, THE SPIRIT RING, is a fantasy not set in the same universe. By internal chronology (my recommendation), the order is FALLING FREE (peripheral), SHARDS OF HONOR, BARRAYAR, THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE, the short story "The Mountains of Mourning" in BORDERS OF INFINITY, THE VOR GAME, CETAGANDA, ETHAN OF ATHOS (peripheral), the short story "Labyrinth" in BORDERS Of INFINITY, the short story "Borders of Infinity" in BORDERS OF INFINITY, BROTHERS IN ARMS, MIRROR DANCE, MEMORY, KOMARR, and A CIVIL CAMPAIGN. [People have sent many variations to this, based on which books they think are stronger or weaker. I will not include all the arguments here.] [Provided by Peter L. Edman [pledman@access.digex.net], robertaw@halcyon.com [Robert A. Woodward], and others.] B. Steven Brust's "Dragaeran" series? The Vlad Taltos novels can be read in published order or in chronological order. Mileage varies on which is preferable. The published order is: 1. JHEREG 2. YENDI 3. TECKLA 4. TALTOS 5. PHOENIX 6. ATHYRA 7. ORCA 8. DRAGON 9. ISSOLA (July 2001) The chronological order is: 1. TALTOS 2. YENDI 3. DRAGON 4. JHEREG 5. TECKLA 6. PHOENIX 7. ATHYRA 8. ORCA 9. ISSOLA (July 2001) According to some, TALTOS, YENDI, DRAGON, and JHEREG are more stand-alone than the others. However, DRAGON comes both before and after YENDI in internal chronology and contains spoilers for YENDI. As noted elsewhere, ISSOLA will be the next Vlad novel. The Khaavren novels are: 1. THE PHOENIX GUARDS 2. FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AFTER and take place before the Vlad books. (The forthcoming third (which is a trilogy), THE VISCOUNT OF ADRILANKHA, will bring the chronology up to Vlad's time.) BROKEDOWN PALACE is effectively a stand-alone. [Provided by Kate Nepveu [knepveu@lynx.neu.edu].] C. Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series? There are two answers here, a short one, and a longer one which also includes opinions on the quality of the books. From J. Hunter Johnson (jhunterj@donet.com): As with other series, the Asimov books can be read in published order or in chronological order. First-time readers should probably read the books in published order to avoid some of the spoilers present. The chronological order of the novels by Asimov or approved by his estate are: The Caves of Steel (1954) The Naked Sun (1957) The Robots of Dawn (1983) Robots and Empire (1985) Caliban (1993) Inferno (1994) Utopia (1996) The Stars, Like Dust (1951) The Currents of Space (1952) Pebble in the Sky (1950) Prelude to Foundation (1988) Forward the Foundation (1993) Foundation's Fear (1997, takes place after the first chapter of Forward the Foundation) Foundation and Chaos (1998) Foundation's Triumph (1999, takes place after the first chapter of Foundation) Foundation (1951) Foundation and Empire (1952) Second Foundation (1953) Foundation's Edge (1982) Foundation and Earth (1986) A full chronology including short stories and unapproved novels can be found at http://www.clark.net/pub/edseiler/WWW/insane_list.html. From Richard Harter [note this includes critical comments as well as a description of the series]: In his youth Isaac Asimov constructed three distinct major fictional universes, each thematically separate, the far future Foundation trilogy, the near future series of short stories about positronic robots, and an intermediate series about the conflict between Earthers and Spacers, the latter being potentially in the same universe as his earlier robot novels. Much later, after a successful career as an author of non-fiction expository works on a wide variety of subjects, he wrote a sequel to the Foundation trilogy, "Foundation's Edge". Not content with this he embarked on a series of novels to tie his various universes together. Since his death the composite universe has been extended by authorized novels by David Brin and Greg Bear. The time line for Isaac Asimov's composite universe: (The later works are marked with stars.) EARLY (IN THE NEAR FUTURE) The End of Eternity [1] I, Robot The Rest of the Robots EARTH AND THE SPACERS The Caves of Steel The Naked Sun * Robots of Dawn * Robots and Empire EXPANSION The Stars Like Dust [2] TRANTOR, PRE-UNIFICATION The Currents of Space Pebble In The Sky FOUNDATION * Prelude to Foundation * Forward the Foundation Foundation Foundation & Empire Second Foundation * Foundation's Edge * Foundation & Earth The theme of the original Foundation trilogy (a series of short stories and novellas packaged in three volumes)is the unfolding of a grand planned history, the Seldon plan, the threat of the plan being destroyed, and the plan being saved. The trilogy has its faults. Asimov was quite young at the time: His appreciation of the variety of human behaviour was limited and many of the details of his universe were quite naive in conception. The quality of his prose is subject to debate. The stories were somewhat dryly intellectual in conception. None-the-less there is a grandness of conception and intriguing puzzles. They also have one of his few great characters, the Mule. The real hero, however, of the trilogy is the Seldon plan itself. The Foundation stories are a triumph of science fiction as the literature of the idea as hero. In his early years he wrote two excellent novels, THE CAVES OF STEEL and THE NAKED SUN, both sparse. They carried the robots of I, ROBOT into a future of spacers vs Earth, the spacers having a mixed human/robot culture spread across many worlds and Earth a city based culture with a fear of robots. Earth is technologically backwards and its residents are psychologically restricted to their caves of steel. (The spacers vs Earth theme is an elaboration of an earlier novella, Mother Earth.) Both are detective stories in an SF setting. Both rely on two strong characters, the human detective, Lije Bailey and the human appearing robot, Daneel. A thesis of the novels is that the future of humanity lies in a C/Fe culture, i.e., in the equal partnership of human and robot. FOUNDATION'S EDGE was written many years later. His early novels was sparse; FE is the first of a series of bloated novels. In my opinion it is the first step in his disowning the Foundation trilogy. The entire basis of the character of the Mule is destroyed. The Seldon plan is disowned as being ultimately worthless and a cheap-jack psionic mysticism is offered in its place. Having returned to the worlds of his youth, Asimov determined to unite his two grand universes. There are no robots in the Foundation universe so it was necessary to eliminate them. He did this in two more bloated novels, THE ROBOTS OF DAWN and EMPIRE AND ROBOTS. In these he disowns the thesis of the C/Fe culture. The spacers are discounted as not being viable; Daneel, on the other hand, is promoted into a mind-controlling demi-god. He followed these two with a third bloated novel, FOUNDATION and EARTH, a sequel to FOUNDATION'S EDGE in which it is ultimately revealed that Daneel is the master mind behind human history. This was, for the nonce, the capstone of his of his campaign to disown the work of his youth by rewriting the juice out of it. The value of the Seldon plan had been discounted; the Mule had been emasculated; Daneel had been destroyed by deification; and the C/Fe thesis had been discarded. He wasn't done. PRELUDE TO FOUNDATION and the sequel FORWARD THE FOUNDATION are set on Trantor; nominally they are about how Hari Seldon brings about the Seldon plan. Both are farragos of implausible melodrama. Concealed within them however is the final discounting - the revelation that the Seldon plan was never feasible in the first place. [3] The Bear, Brin, et al novels are a continuation of the melodrama. In the words of bard, they are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. [1] THE END OF ETERNITY is not part of the series but it implicitly references it. [2] THE STARS LIKE DUST is an early work; it isn't quite consistent with his later works but is consistent with the earlier novels. It features a radioactive Earth whose radioactivity is due to a nuclear war. [3] In SECOND FOUNDATION the original plan was somewhat makeshift, a "best we can do" at the time job. The one sour note is the idea advanced in SECOND FOUNDATION that the Second Foundation was to be the ruling class. There is a fundamental problem with the psychohistory concept; the psychohistorians become the rulers and they, too, are human. Michael Flynn makes it all clear in IN THE COUNTRY OF THE BLIND. Asimov didn't come to terms with the issue in the Foundation trilogy; later on, in FOUNDATION'S EDGE he confronted it but his solution was icky. [Provided by Richard Harter [cri@tiac.net]. There may be an updated version at http://www.tiac.net/users/cri/asimov.html.] D. Ken MacLeod's Books? See Question 12N. E. Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" books? From Kate Nepveu (knepveu@steelypips.org): The Discworld novels consist of four sub-series and several stand-alone books. The sub-series feature the same character(s); while it is enjoyable to read these in order and see the characters evolve, it's not strictly necessary. (The lone exception to this rule is THE LIGHT FANTASTIC, which is a "traditional" sequel.) They are listed in order below, with the distinguishing character(s) of their sub-series noted. (U.K.) publication order and chronological order are effectively the same for the sub-series; history on the Discworld is a funny thing--see THIEF OF TIME for more information--so no representations about order across books is offered. At any rate, you won't encounter spoilers if you read the books in this order. 1. THE COLOUR OF MAGIC [Rincewind] 2. THE LIGHT FANTASTIC [Rincewind] 3. EQUAL RITES [Lancre Witches] 4. MORT [Death] 5. SOURCERY [Rincewind] 6. WYRD SISTERS [Lancre Witches] 7. PYRAMIDS [stand-alone] 8. GUARDS! GUARDS! [City Watch] 9. ERIC [Rincewind] 10. MOVING PICTURES [stand-alone] 11. REAPER MAN [Death] 12. WITCHES ABROAD [Lancre Witches] 13. SMALL GODS [stand-alone] 14. LORDS AND LADIES [Lancre Witches] 15. MEN AT ARMS [City Watch] 16. SOUL MUSIC [Death/Susan] 17. INTERESTING TIMES [Rincewind] 18. MASKERADE [Lancre Witches] 19. FEET OF CLAY [City Watch] 20. HOGFATHER [Death/Susan] 21. JINGO [City Watch] 22. THE LAST CONTINENT [Rincewind] 23. CARPE JUGULUM [Lancre Witches] 24. THE FIFTH ELEPHANT [City Watch] 25. THE TRUTH [stand-alone *] 26. THIEF OF TIME [Death/Susan] * THE TRUTH is set in Ankh-Morpork, which is the City of the City Watch, so readers will encounter familiar characters, but the focus is on a new character. Mileage varies on where to start reading for two reasons. First, the Discworld novels evolve and improve over time, and there can be disagreement over when the books become "good enough" to recommend to a first-time reader. Second, people may have strong opinions regarding a particular sub-series (the Rincewind books are perhaps the most frequent point of disagreement, as they are notably lighter than the others). Thus, the best all-purpose guideline is probably to just pick one from around the middle of this list and try it. (For whatever it's worth, I have had very good luck with recommending SMALL GODS to start.) Laurabelle Melton (lbmelton@mtholyoke.edu) demurs: Actually, this isn't strictly true; there have been great arguments on alt.books.pratchett and alt.fan.pratchett about the chronological order of the books (especially SMALL GODS). Unfortunately the Unreal Discworld Timeline is not on the Web. There's a suggested Discworld reading order at http://www.netcomuk.co.uk/~gidnsuzi/readord.html; I think that URL would make a useful addition to the FAQ. [Note that Pratchett has also written some non-Discworld novels, which frequently are packaged looking like Discworld novels--Kirby covers, etc.). STRATA is somewhat proto-Discworld; THE DARK SIDE OF THE SUN is completely separate.] F. Iain M. Banks's "Culture" books? From Andrea Leistra (aleistra@f1n7.u.arizona.edu) and others: [See also question 12A.] There are generally two recommended reading orders for Banks. None of the Culture books are directly connected, so in terms of spoilers it makes little difference, and generally most of the debate tends to be over which book should be read first. The publication order is one that is often recommended: CONSIDER PHLEBAS PLAYER OF GAMES USE OF WEAPONS "The State of the Art" (see question 12A) EXCESSION INVERSIONS ("A Gift from the Culture" can be read after any book other than CONSIDER PHELBAS) This is frequently recommended, at least to the extent of "Read CONSIDER PHLEBAS first," because there are low-level spoilers for CONSIDER PHLEBAS in the other books, to the extent that you know more about the Culture than you otherwise would. This is the order in which I read the books. I wasn't terribly impressed by CONSIDER PHLEBAS, and generally recommend the other order myself. The other recommended order just reverses the first two, and reverts to publication order thereafter; this is because PLAYER OF GAMES is, in the opinions of those who recommend this order, a better book, and it certainly gives the best general picture of the normal, internal life in the Culture. It is also in print in the US, if that's a factor. If you start with one of those two you probably will be fine. UoW is not generally recommended (although some people here will probably argue with that) because it needs some background. EXCESSION relies to even a greater extent on knowing about Culture Minds, though there are some people here who started with that without problems. As for what the Culture is: well, keep in mind that although there are no plot spoilers here it will alter the impact of CONSIDER PHLEBAS advocated by the "read-CONSIDER PHLEBAS-first" faction. [However, I have rot-13'ed it.] Gur Phygher vf n hgbcvn, bs gur yrsg-yvoregnevna inevrgl (ab tbireazrag, ohg ab zbarl rvgure) juvpu vf jul zbfg bs gur fgbevrf gnxr cynpr nebhaq gur rqtrf; erfbheprf ner nohaqnag rabhtu gung crbcyr qb fghss orpnhfr gurl jnag gb be gb trg erfcrpg (be gb trg vaivgrq gb gur tbbq cnegvrf) engure guna sbe zbarl. (Sbe vafgnapr, Thetru va _Cynlre bs Tnzrf_ fcraqf uvf yvsr, jryy, cynlvat tnzrf.) Gur arne-bzavcbgrag Zvaqf eha fghss, juvpu vf jul guvf nyy jbexf. Fbzr crbcyr urer fnl uhznaf va gur Phygher ner rffragvnyyl crgf; V qba'g nterr jvgu guvf, naq gur Phygher uhznaf pregnvayl qba'g nterr, be gurl qba'g pner. (Gur Zvaqf qba'g pner nobhg jung uhznaf qb, pregnvayl.) Zbfg uhznaf va gur Phygher yvir ba irel ynetr fuvcf jvgu ragregnvavat anzrf (juvpu ner pbagebyyrq ol Zvaqf, naq juvpu tb jurer gurl jnag) be ba Beovgnyf (yvxr zvavngher Evatjbeyqf, ohg beovgvat gur cevznel engure guna pragrerq ba vg). There is more than you would ever want to know at http://www.phlebas.com/text/cultnote.html, which is Banks's "A Few Notes on the Culture". ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 20. Science Fiction Book Club About once a year someone asks about the SFBC and the resulting discussion inevitably goes like this: A: I love it. I get hard cover books for about half the bookstore price. Plus they have these omnibus editions of various series so you can pick up several books in one volume. The binding may not be up to regular hardcover standards, but it's still better than paperback. B: Yeah, but I keep losing the monthly cards and end up buying or having to send back books that I don't want. C: You should do like I did. I called them up and got on the "Preferred Member Plan". On this plan I only get books when I send back the card. D: But the selections for joining are no good. E. The best thing to do, for anybody who wants to join, is to find someone who is already a member, and fill out the "sign up a friend" form that members get. Then you get to pick your books from the current club flier, which has a much better selection and includes descriptions. And your friend gets a free book (or is it two?). ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 21. Recent Obituaries [These are brief entries for well-known SF personalities who have died over the past couple of years. People who want more information should check the obituary columns in LOCUS or major newspapers for the dates listed. I will leave them in for two years before deletion.] Douglas Adams died 11 May 2001 at age 49 of a heart attack. He was the author of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series, as well as several other books. Gordon R. Dickson died 31 January 2001 at age 77. He was the author of many science fiction books and stories, most notably the "Dorsai" series, a.k.a. the "Childe Cycle." L. Sprague de Camp died 6 November 2000 at age 92. He was an author of many talents and far more than could possibly be listed here, but highlights include his alternate history (particularly LEST DARKNESS FALL), his fantasy (THE COMPLEAT ENCHANTER), and his non-fiction. Keith Roberts died 5 October 2000 at age 65 of bronchitis and pneumonia. He was best-known for his alternate history novel PAVANE. Curt Siodmak died 2 September 2000 at age 98. He wrote novels and screenplays, being best known for the novels DONOVAN'S BRAIN and HAUSER'S MEMORY and the screenplays for THE TRANSATLANTIC TUNNEL and THE WOLF MAN, as well as many others in the Universal horror cycle. He also directed films, including THE MAGNETIC MONSTER and CURUCU, BEAST OF THE AMAZON. Emil Petaja died 17 August 2000 at age 85. He wrote in fields of genre fiction; his best-known SF works were probably his "Kalevala" cycle: THE SAGA OF LOST EARTHS, THE STAR MILL, THE STOLEN SUN, and TRAMONTANE. David R. Bunch died 29 May 2000 at age 74 of a heart attack. He was best known for his surrealistic short fiction, much of which is collected in MODERAN. Edward Gorey died 15 April 2000 at age 75. Gorey was an author and artist of the comic macabre. He wrote over a hundred books and illustrated more than fifty by other authors, as well as working on the stage design for the Broadway production of DRACULA. His best-known and most available work is probably AMPHIGOREY. John Sladek died 10 March 2000 at the age of 62. Sladek was an American who became part of the British New Wave while living in London. His best-known works were THE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM (MECHASM) and THE MULLER-FOKKER EFFECT, as well as RODERICK and RODERICK AT RANDOM. A. E. Van Vogt died 26 January 2000 at the age of 87. He was one of the great writers of the "Golden Age" in John W. Campbell's ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION. His best-known works were THE VOYAGE OF THE SPACE BEAGLE, SLAN, THE WEAPON SHOPS OF ISHER, and THE WORLD OF NULL-A. Marion Zimmer Bradley died 25 September 1999 at the age of 69. Her career spanned four decades, with her best-known works being those in the "Darkover" series. She was also the editor of "Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine" at the time of her death. James White died 23 August 1999 at the age of 71. He was best known as the author of the "Sector General" series about a space hospital serving many species. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 22. SF ENCYCLOPEDIA et al P Nielsen Hayden (pnh@panix.com) says: I think we're all going to be confused about this forever. In a wan attempt to straighten out what's what: The original ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION edited by Peter Nicholls (1979) had pictures. [In the US, this volume was titled THE SCIENCE FICTION ENCYCLOPEDIA. -Joe Bernstein] The completely revised ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls (1993) has no pictures. [It has the same name in Britain and the United States.] [John Pomeranz says that the trade paperback edition of this has additional text and corrects some errors. There is also THE FANTASY ENCYCLOPEDIA, a companion volume first published in 1997.] The CD-ROM edition of the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION (1995) has pictures, audio clips, Quicktime movies of authors, etc, in addition to the entire text of the 1993 edition of the ENCYCLOPEDIA. The SCIENCE FICTION: THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA by John Clute (1995) has tons of pictures, but is a completely separate work not based on the ENCYCLOPEDIA. (I bet Clute was less than wild about the publishers' insistence on giving this volume a name that will forever lead to it being confused with the actual ENCYCLOPEDIA.) THE VISUAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION is a 1977 work by Brian Ash. All of the above works are worthwhile. The ENCYCLOPEDIA is a serious reference work; the VISUAL ENCYCLOPEDIA is a fun coffee-table book. [end of Nielsen Hayden's comments] I would add that there are also: Donald H. Tuck's 1974-1982 three-volume set, THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY. No illustrations. Robert Holdstock's 1978 ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION. Illustrations. James E. Gunn's 1975 ALTERNATE WORLDS: THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION. Illustrations. (Okay, so it doesn't use the word "encyclopedia" and is more a "serious coffee-table book," but it seems pertinent to mention it here.) James E. Gunn's 1988 NEW ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION. Illustrations. David Pringle's ULTIMATE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION: THE DEFINITIVE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 23. What is the difference between "mass-market" and "trade" paperbacks? Why do some books come out in trade paperback instead of the more affordable mass-market format? What about A, B, and C format in Britain? What is the difference between trade paperback and mass market: the channels of distribution. Trade paperbacks do not piggyback on the ID system of periodical distribution. ("ID distribution" is book publishing jargon for "that part of the periodical-distribution industry that puts cheap paperback books into non-bookstore outlets, like the wire racks at grocery stores." It has nothing to do with bookstores.) How does size relate: It doesn't. The reason that a number of trade paperbacks are oversized is that they are manufactured from the actual sheets printed for the hardcover edition, but bound in paper wrappers. Does being strippable make a difference: Yes. All mass market books are strippable. Any book that is distributed through both mass market and direct channels is strippable. [Strippable means that the retailer needs to return only the cover for full credit; the rest of the book is destroyed.] Books that are distributed -only- though trade channels, be they hardcover or soft cover, are usually sold on the basis of whole copy returns. [Provided by Beth Meacham [bam@azstarnet.com] and Patrick Nielsen Hayden [pnh@panix.com].] As for why (more expensive) trade paperbacks instead of (cheaper) mass market paperbacks: To publish a mass-market paperback successfully, you need to sell 10,000 copies of a 25,000 run to succeed--*and* you need to do this in a six- to eight-week period. Trade paperbacks can sell fewer, but even more to the point, they don't have a time limit, since they are not stripped by bookstores after six weeks. [culled from panels at Boskone and elsewhere] And on the British side: "A format" is the same as a US mass market size. "B format" is bigger, sort of like an Orb book. "C format" is yuppieback, excuse me, trade paperback, the size of a hardback but with a soft cover. Any of these may be trade, same definition here as there, but "C format" always are. [The above was provided by Jo Walton [Jo@kenjo.demon.co.uk].] And now some additional commentary from me: In the United States we have three basic "formats" for books: hardback, trade paperback, and mass-market paperback. Hardbacks (a.k.a. hardcovers) have stiff board covers under some covering, often with an additional dust jacket. This covering used to be cloth, so these are supposed listed as "Cloth" in ads and such. They cost US$20 and up (give or take). The size varies, but most novels are about 16cm by 20cm (6in by 8in) by whatever thickness the length requires. Coffee-table books are even larger ones, usually with lots of artwork and designed to be put on coffee tables (or perhaps made into them). Trade paperbacks have very thick paper covers, and paper similar to hardcovers (actually often better, since they don't usually have the ragged edges one sees these days on hardbacks). They are usually about the same size as hardbacks, sightly shorter because the binding is done differently, and without the added thickness of the covers. They cost in the US$10 to US$25 range (generally novels are in the lower part of that range, non-fiction in the upper). One feature several people have mentioned is that in general they have the larger font of the hardback, making them easier to read. There are also some trade paperbacks that look exactly like mass-market paperbacks, but usually with better quality paper/covers. You can tell they are trade paperbacks because the copyright page will have a notice that they are not strippable. Mass-market paperbacks have very thick paper covers, but cheaper paper et al than trade paperbacks. They are usually about 10cm by 18cm (4in by 7in) by whatever thickness, but there are also "large-trim" mass-market paperbacks that are the same size as the standard trade paperback. They are usually in the US$5 to US$9 range, but the large-trim ones cost more. They are "strippable"--that is, bookstores can rip off the front cover and return just that for full credit. They are supposed to destroy the rest--not all do, and so some publishers have/still do(?) require that they return the cover and the first ten pages. In general the quality is poorer than trade paperbacks, with glue that may give over after a few years, etc. Nowadays most, if not all, mass-market paperbacks have a notice on the copyright page that if you are buying a coverless copy, it is stolen property. And a new wrinkle: according to Elaine Y. Fisher (elainef@airmail.net) a "turtleback" is one of those paperback-turned-hardbacks that one often sees in libraries, usually with the paperback color cover laminated onto the front. One is now seeing this term on used-book websites. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 24. What do the letters "PJF" after Steven Brust's name mean? PJF = Pre-Joycean Fellowship The name is modelled on that of an artist's group named the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. A number of writers have appended it including Brust, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Jane Yolen, Pamela Dean and Neil Gaiman (this is not an exhaustive list). Many, but not all of them are members of Minneapolis Fantasy Writer's Group, the Scribblies. In the words of Pamela Dean, here is roughly what the PJF is trying to do: "... we are trying to undo the separation of the so-called popular values and traits in literature (which probably include straight- forward narration) and the so-called literary values and traits (which probably include stream-of-consciousness writing). We don't always succeed; we don't always try; we don't feel that writers doing other things are evil. But we are trying to reunite, in our work, the popular and the literary. Every one of us has a different definition of those terms and a different notion of how what we are trying to do should be accomplished." Will Shetterly adds: "Good FAQ, but, uh, what's this Minnesota Fantasy Writer's Group? The Scribblies are either just the Scribblies, or they're the Interstate Writer's Workshop (which isn't true anymore since all the current members are in Minnesota, but that was our excuse for calling ourselves the Scribblies)." And later: "I keep fighting the impulse to discuss this semi-seriously. I think I've lost. Unfortunately, I wrote a couple of messages which I discarded and a couple which I posted, and I can't remember what was in which. So here's the very latest attempt at the full history of the PJF: I may be wrong, but I believe the name was my invention. It was primarily a joke inspired by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. A number of us were fond of talking about how frustrating it is that bookstores, academics, and readers have a tendency to divide stories into the categories of fiction and literature, or story and art, or fun and serious work. We like the stuff that does both, like (everyone's favorite, especially Pamela Dean's) Shakespeare, who includes fart jokes for the rich and powerful and poetry for the people (and vice versa, of course). We tended to think this tendency to contentedly divide writing into two camps blossomed after Joyce, whose work has a great deal for the educated reader, but can be rather frustrating for the ignorant one. Keep in mind that when I either created or agreed to the title of PJF, I did that as someone who likes Joyce's writing a great deal (I haven't tried FINNEGANS WAKE, and am in no hurry to do so). In retrospect, it might've been better to use James than Joyce, or it might've been better to accept the label of "post-modern," which describes our intentions as well as any label. But also keep in mind that this was never meant to be a serious movement; it was an excuse for a few friends to get together and argue about books. We only succeeded in having one meeting at a bar, where we had fun but didn't really talk about books much, and then it would've all been forgotten if Steve hadn't decided to put "PJF" after his name on one of his books, just as some of the PRB did when signing their paintings. So it's an accidentally serious group that's still primarily a joke." ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 25. Is Megan Lindholm writing under a pseudonym? Yes; she has recently been writing as Robin Hobb. [Provided by Sharon Kim Goetz (goetz@soda.csua.berkeley.edu)]. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 26. Who is William Ashbless? Who is William Ashbless? Both Tim Powers (THE ANUBIS GATES) and James Blaylock (THE DIGGING LEVIATHAN) have him in their books. Is this the same character? William Ashbless was a penname that Powers and Blaylock used to publish cowritten poetry in college. When they both needed a name for a poet character in their books, they independently used the same name. After this had been pointed out to them by their editor, they got together and added details to make it look it was the same guy. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 27. Kilgore Trout Kilgore Trout is a fictitious SF author that appears in several books by Kurt Vonnegut. VENUS ON THE HALF-SHELL by Kilgore Trout was written by Philip Jose Farmer. There are no other books by Kilgore Trout. After Venus was published, many people thought that Vonnegut had written it. Vonnegut did not care for this and refused Farmer permission to write any more. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 28. Pronunciation of Cherryh C. J. Cherryh's original last name was Cherry. The terminal H is silent. The H was added because her first editor thought that Cherry sounded too much like a romance writer. Her brother, artist David Cherry, retains the original spelling. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 29. Stephen Jay Gould and Steven Gould These are two different people. Stephen Jay Gould is the well-known Harvard paleontologist and author of several non-fiction books about evolution. Steven Gould is the author of JUMPER, WILDSIDE, and other SF novels and stories. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 30. Sturgeon's Law "Sturgeon's Law" is "Ninety percent of everything is crap." It comes from a quote by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, who once said, "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud." Scholars disagree on what word Sturgeon originally used. In its first appearance in print it was "crud," but someone present remembers that in the speech it was "crap." See http://glinda.lrsm.upenn.edu/~weeks/misc/faq.html for more details. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 31. What is the Thor Power Tools decision and how did it affect publishing? Kevin O'Donnell has provided a very clear explanation, available at http://www.sfwa.org/bulletin/articles/thor.htm. (My quick summary is that manufacturers (and publishers) could no longer use the fact that some inventory would go unsold to calculate their taxable inventory. According to at least one publisher, accountants figured out within a couple of years how to compensate for that. The damage to the backlist is mostly due to rising warehouse, production, and distribution costs.) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 32. What is the best science fiction magazine to subscribe to? The three most widely distributed [fiction] magazines are ANALOG, ASIMOVS, and F&SF. They concentrate (roughly speaking) on "hard SF", character-driven SF/fantasy, and literary SF/fantasy. Your best bet is to try a couple of issues of each and see which you like. There are also several other magazines not as visible. SF AGE has a mix of fiction and non-fiction articles on film, gaming, etc. Someone said that REALMS OF FANTASY has the highest circulation of any SF fiction magazine, but I have to confirm this. INTERZONE focuses on British science fiction (not surprising, as it comes from Britain). ABORIGINAL is not, as you might think, Australian, but American. AUREALIS and EIDOLON are Australian. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 33. How much do authors get in royalties? Beginners sometimes get 6% on paperbacks, going up to 8% after a certain threshold figure has been reached (often betweeen 100,000 and 150,000 copies sold). Established writers, and beginners with tough agents, get 8% on paperbacks, going up to 10% after the threshold has been reached. On trade paperbacks, 7.5% is the standard starting place. On hardcovers, most authors get 10% on the first X number of copies; 12.5% on the next Y number of copies, and 15% after that. For hardcovers the values of both X and Y are often 5,000 copies. So, for a typical hardcover priced at US$23.95, the author will get somewhere between $2.40 and $3.60 on the copy you buy, depending on how many have already sold. For a typical paperback priced at US$6.99, the author will get 52.5 cents. [Provided by Robert J Sawyer [sawyer@sfwriter.com].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 34. Who said: A. "He's a chimp! She's the Pope! They're cops!" Michael Cassutt. B. "The Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12." Peter Graham. C. "War God of Israel/The Thing with Three Souls" Terry Carr, saying, "If Don Wollheim had published the Bible [as an Ace Double], it would be ...." D. "Science fiction should get out of the classroom and back in the gutter where it belongs!" Dena Benatan Brown E. "Life is like a simile." Terry Carr. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 35. Would the windmills in Kim Stanley Robinson's "Mars" books work? Or more specifically, in Kim Stanley Robinson's "Mars" books, can the windmills contribute anything to warming up the planet? No. Not even a very small amount as claimed later on in the series. According to RED MARS, the windmills convert one form of energy into another--no conservation of energy violation occurs. The problem is that they are irrelevant to the process of this conversion, which happens quite efficiently because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, windmills or no windmills. That's what the growth of entropy is all about. While the actual, secret purpose of the mills was quite different, it is not credible that their official purpose should not be exposed as a fraud almost immediately. [Provided by Mike Arnautov [mla@mipmip.demon-co-antispam-uk].] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 36. What's the world's shortest science fiction story? Traditionally, the answer has been Fredric Brown's "Knock": "The last man on earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door...." This appeared in the december 1948 issue of THRILLING WONDER STORIES. But there is a reference in an article by Anthony Burgess that cited, "That morning the sun rose in the west." However, I suspect he just composed that himself, and never published it as a separate story. ("Anthony Burgess on the Short Story," in Les Cahiers de la nouvelle "Journal of the Short Story in English, janvier 1984, pp. 31-47. Universite d'Angers, http://buweb.univ-angers.fr/EXTRANET/AnthonyBURGESS/ShortStory.html.) And Forry Ackerman claims he wrote the shortest one ever, titled "Cosmic Report Card: Earth" consisting of the single letter "F". (In the United States, grading is by letter: A, B, C, D, and F. Don't ask me why E is skipped, though Jeremy Meyers suggests it is because it would be too easy for students to alter an "F" to look like an "E".) See http://www.jophan.org/mimosa/m16/16_p05.html for details; it appeared in the June 1973 issue of VERTEX.) [Provided by Evelyn Leeper [evelynleeper@geocities.com]. Updates/corrections welcome.] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 37. What are the books that come up again and again in rec.arts.sf.written? Here are the high runners (numbers in brackets represent an estimate of the number of mentions in rec.arts.sf.written in the last six months of 1999). Iain M. Banks's "Culture" novels [4584] Steven Brust's "Vlad Taltos" series [584] Lois McMaster Bujold's "Miles Vorkosigan" stories (see #19A) [3275] Orson Scott Card's "Ender" series [1918] Robert A. Heinlein's novels and stories, especially STARSHIP TROOPERS [3203] Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" [8172] Ursula K. LeGuin's "Earthsea" books and THE DISPOSSESSED [1880] Ken MacLeod's novels (see #12N) [1068] Ayn Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED [996] Neal Stephenson's CRYPTONOMICON [2131] J. R. R. Tolkien's HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS [1016] Vernor Vinge's "Singularity" and "Slow Zone" novels [1004] David Weber's "Honor Harrington" novels [263] [At this point--August 2000--I am adding J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books. I haven't done a formal count, but my suspicion is that these books will continue to generate discussion.] ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 38. What are good SF books for children/young adults? The best list I've found is at http://www.lasfs.org/lasfs/what/projects/rrl/. It includes science fiction and fantasy. The list itself has links to discounts, and the site has a couple of articles explaining how it came about. Note that it predates J. K. Rowling and the "Harry Potter" books, which is what made me add this question, but I don't think most people need to be told about them. :-) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 39. Spelling Here are the correct spelling of some commonly misspelled names: Samuel R. Delany Gandhi Robert A. Heinlein Patrick Nielsen Hayden Teresa Nielsen Hayden Martin Luther King, Jr. Edgar Allan Poe J. R. R. Tolkien ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 99. Science Fiction Archives The SF-LOVERS archives are at: http://sflovers.rutgers.edu. The Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase is at: http://www.sfsite.com/isfdb/sfdbase.html The Science Fiction Resource Guide is at: http://sflovers.rutgers.edu/Web/SFRG/ For European readers, you may want to access the archives at the Lysator Computer Club, Linkoping University, Sweden. It's e-mail address is ftp.lysator.liu.se ( The administrator is Mats Ohrman (email: matoh@sssab.se). The bibliographies are in directory /pub/sf-texts. ==================================================================== (Contributions for addition to this FAQL gratefully appreciated. Suggestions for things *I* should write to add to this FAQL are not so gratefully appreciated.) ============================================================================ Copyright Notice Information contained in this FAQ is compiled from many sources. The compiler accepts no responsibility for the comments contained herein. The comments are provided "as is" with no warranty, express or implied, for the information provided within them. 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Leeper (the FAQ maintainer). ============================================================================ <HR>You are visitor number <IMG SRC=http://visit.geocities.com/counter.gif> since 1 Jan 2000. Evelyn C. Leeper, evelynleeper@geocities.com -- Evelyn C. Leeper, http://www.geocities.com/evelynleeper "We should be as passionately opposed to those who discriminate against gays and lesbians as we were passionate in our opposition to apartheid." -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, February 1999, Brown University